Friday, June 30, 2017

San Antonio - Day 4

I didn't check until I got to San Antonio what time we were leaving, so I didn't schedule myself for any classes.  The first part of my day was with breakfast and some work on the computer from the third floor.

I did take a few classes, one on Googlizing Your Learning Space, the other on Engineering Storytelling:  Using Legos For Storytelling.  Both were okay, and had some good information.

Then I took a short walk and took some pictures from the River Walk.

Then it was lunch and the flight home!

One last picture:  This is probably the closest I'll ever get to Mark Hamill.  RIP Carrie Fisher.

San Antonio Day 3

By day three I was finally starting to feel like my old self.  My asthma was calming down from the change between Arizona's dry heat and the hot, muggy air of San Antonio.  I was also adjusting to the time zone difference.

Tuesday started off with a panel discussion on how to choose the right technology to meet instructional goals. This was a great panel discussion talking about picking the right hardware and software dependent upon what the school district wanted to achieve and how much funding they have to meet these needs.  I did make one comment/question at the end of the presentation regarding the lack of speaking of infrastructure with regards to any of this.  Without the infrastructure (starting with the building, the electrical being able to handle the hardware all the way to plugging a projector into a wall socket to the wireless involved in making the magic happen in the classroom), you don't have the ability to make any of the rest of the technology work at all.  You're dead in the water.

The next was my first of the official Google classes, An Impact Portait:  Measuring Impact of G Suite & Chromebooks Across The District.  This wasn't bad, I did take a few notes, but you were rushed into a room in 5 minutes, sat down on plastic, multi-colored chairs, covered a school district's rollout of Chromebooks without much of a mention of web filtering, and then we were rushed out for the next 5 minute break.  It was good and I did get a copy of the presentation so I can look back on the notes.

After having lunch with some of the other people from my school district - chicken salad sandwich - I went to another really fun, interactive session called Don't Laminate Your Lesson Plans!  Basically a lesson about keeping your lessons up to date with new ways of engaging the students.  Very good, taught by Anne Truger.

The next session I attended was called What Does It Take To Become Future Ready?  It was advertised as a panel discussion but instead became a lecture infomercial from a non profit.  I got a few good links to go to for information.

By the time I got done with the "panel" discussion, the line was too long for the next class, so I skipped it.

I was invited to go with a group from my district to go to the Bier Garten (German restaurant) before going with the group to the Ed Tech Karaoke.  I had heard about this and wasn't sure about it, but, hey, why not, right?

The Bier Garten was right on the River Walk, so it was really beautiful, with a light breeze to make the heat bearable.  I ate a cheeseburger with a pretzel roll bun.  Very, very good.  I had a non-alcohol strawberry slushie and then water for the rest of the time.

Then we walked on the streets above the River Walk to the Aztec Theater, which is an old theatrical house in adobe.  It's an amazing place, the music was loud, there were drinks, free popcorn and free pictures.  The main stage had the more professional level of karaoke, while those who just wanted to sign up and do a song had a stage in the lobby.  It was a lot of fun!

The other funny part of the whole thing, started while we were in line around the back of the theater before the whole thing started.  There was an ice cream truck brought in for anyone who wanted an ice cream (I was too full), but talking to the ice cream truck and the security guard was a man who looked exactly like, no lie, Christian Slater.  Then, throughout the evening, I was up on the balcony of the lobby watching the Karaoke, and the Christian Slater doppelganger was walking around, going into rooms that were for employees only, so he apparently works for the theater.

As I type this, I'm watching the favorite movie I've seen with Christian Slater - Bed of Roses.

It was a late walk back to the hotel with the group and right to bed.

San Antonio Days 2

It's Friday, June 30th, and I'm now typing all of this from home.  Ahhhh, there's no place like home.

For Monday, June 26th, my day started off crazy.

I set my alarm for 5:30 am, but found out that my iPod Touch was still set for Arizona time as I usually keep the Location preferences turned off.  In other words, it didn't know I was in Texas, so instead of 5:30 am Texas time, I was waking up at 7:30 am Texas time.  And my first class was at 8:00 am.  Believe it or not, I still made the class with a few minutes to go.

It was a fantastic class on Google Drawing, which I wasn't sure about taking, but I'm so glad I did.  I learned a lot of new tricks about using Google, not just drawing, but across their other apps as well.  It was a great way to start the ISTE Conference as far as I was concerned.  It was taught by Andy Mann, who is a certified Google Teacher/Trainer, who, unfortunately was asked to do this and another class on Google products due to the original teacher passing away.  Very, very sad.

After that, I decided to go into the Expo Hall to see how that was.  I kept hearing about it, but I didn't know what to make of it.

Big.  Really, really big.  You could spend your entire conference in here, and you wouldn't be able to visit every booth.  I spent a few hours in here (they also had some danishes for a continental breakfast here, so that was where I ate after the Google Drawing class.  I did visit several booths, including the one for Smart Technology, which makes the Smart Notebook software to work in conjunction with their Smart Boards.  I told them of an issue we were having with their software, so they have since contacted me on my work email and I'll follow up with them next week.

I couldn't find Apple, though, at the Expo Hall and had to ask to find out where they were.  They weren't in the Expo Hall at all, but had segregated to a location where you had to jump through hoops to get there if you were coming from the other end of the Conference Center, like I was.  Leave it to Apple.  They had already been sending out messages that you had to be at their booth at 7:00 am each morning to pick up the tickets for their classes, as their classes had limited seating.  They were hands on classes, and Apple had brought their own stock of computers to use, so this made sense.  I went over, though, after the Choose Your Own Adventure class and was still able to get a ticket into the class I wanted, so I was very thankful for that.  The class I wanted to take had a time change, it was now at 4:00, so it worked perfectly with my schedule.  While at the counter, I had heard they were going to be presenting at the EdTekTalks at 2:30, which meant I would need to cut out early to make my Apple class, however they also said there was going to be a surprise for those attending, but they wouldn't say what it was.

The Choose Your Own Adventure class was not what I was thinking about.  It wasn't about Choose Your Own Adventure Stories, it was about Choose Your Own Adventure Teaching.  It was outstanding and I've already been talking about and sharing what I learned from it yesterday at the office with a teacher who came in discouraged and in need of some technical help.  The lesson was taught by Aaron Sams, who is a former chemistry teacher who was able to do more than flipping his classroom, but was able to utilize technology to make learning experiences while still covering the mandatory curriculum.

After this, I went to the big ballroom where the EdTekTalks was being held and saved some seats for people who indicated on Google Hangouts they wanted to attend.  We all sat together and watched a presentation, much like the keynotes you see at the WWDC for Apple, with a video from Pharrel on there talking about the impact teachers made in his life and how he was now working with some collaborators and Apple to make the iBook, Tuniversity, to teach teachers and others on how to use the newest version of Garageband with students using the Pharrel song Happy.

After that, it was time to go to the Apple Class, but by that time my head was pretty much filled up with all of the other great stuff I was learning, so I felt like I was falling behind in the class.  I did, however, use my district issued laptop for the class, as they had more people there than the computers they provided.  They just instructed me on where and how to download the materials and data needed for the class and I enjoyed it immensely.  I want to do more to learn the XCode and Swift and possibly find ways of making some apps as part of my job.  I also did hear from the Lego booth that Lego is working with Apple to allow Swift code to work on the EV3 robots produced by Lego.  Great stuff, I'll probably be hearing more about Swift in the weeks and months to come.

After all of this, between the heat from Sunday and all of the walking I did on Monday, I needed some rest, so I stopped off at the quick mart they had in the lobby of the hotel and picked up a turkey sandwich to go before I headed to my hotel room to eat and relax for the rest of the night.  A good dose of several medications and I was off to dreamland.

San Antonio - Day 1

I'm writing you from the Grand Hyatt in San Antonio, Texas.  It's June 25th, Sunday, and it's hard to believe I'm here.  In a nice hotel!

So far:  I parked in the renovated East Discount Parking Lot and rode the new monorail system to get to Terminal 4.  Walked around Terminal 4 a little bit (completely redone:  ground floor is still the arrivals, 2nd floor is still departures, and the 3rd floor for the gates, along with a shopping mall.

I've been on two Uber rides, both were fantastic.  I'm loving Uber and will have to download the app at some point in time.

The flight in was bumpy taking off (wind gusts with desert heat), and was bumpy coming in (scattered showers with rain predicted for the remainder of my stay here).

I sat in the last row of the airplane, and thankfully there were two men sitting in the middle and aisle seat of the plane (I took the window) to spend the plane trip talking to and humoring a man who was on the other side of the plane obviously drunk.  A very nice guy, but kooky none the less.  Sorry, I've had enough encounters as a child with drunk men that didn't turn out well, so I'm not even remotely interested in dealing with that.

The River Walk has grown in scale, and now much of the city is built above it - you have to go down stairs or ramps to actually reach the river.  However, they do have the boat rides still, I'm glad to see that.

Once I reached my hotel room, it was all I could do to actually leave again to fetch a bottled water from the hotel's gift shop.  Only to meet up with some of the other people from my employer who was also traveling on this trip.  We ended up taking this really long walk to get to Rosario's, a Tex Mex restaurant that has fantastic food.  I highly recommend reserving a spot in line, as it took a while for us to get seats, but the food was worth the wait.  Very well done.

My only drama for the day was two - fold:  I walked to the Orbit bus stop with suitcase and all, only to find that they don't stop there on Sundays.  By that point my heels of my feet felt like they were on fire due to the slip on shoes I wore and had already packed and locked up my tennis shoes in the suitcase.  I was trying to be thinking ahead to the TSA.  As it was, since I had driven to the airport instead, so there were no lines at the TSA and I was able to take more time in getting everything out of my bags (namely all of the technology) and they did a separate manual search of my carry-on purse (so that I only needed to worry about what was under my seat).  I had plenty of time at that point, so I made a point of thanking them for making sure we are all safe in flying out today.

The second part of the drama came once I reached my hotel room and took all of the technology off of airplane mode.  Family drama started popping up on my Facebook Messenger and I called my Mother to talk to here about it before leaving my room .

Now it's time for me to go to bed and get some sleep.  I'll have to set the alarm, as we are two hours ahead of Arizona.

So far so good for the ISTE Conference, I did go over and checked in, getting my name badge and a bag with stuff I haven't had time to look at yet.  Tomorrow will be a full day, so I guess I'd better get off of here and get to bed!

Monday, June 26, 2017

U.S. History - World War II

World War I was supposed to be the war to end all wars, but sadly that has been proven wrong.  This ugly war took our Greatest Generation to Germany to take down a madman committing ethnic cleansing, and taking over Europe.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Debt Update

Having paid off another credit card in May, we are on a roll!  One more credit card to go!

Given that I am replenishing my emergency savings, the debt has not gone down for June.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Getting To Know The World Around Us: Scandinavia Countries

The Scandinavian countries primarily consist of (in alphabetical order):  Denmark, Norway and Sweden, although Greenland is associated with them due to the Vikings settling there after leaving Scandinavia proper.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Banking Reforms - Post Depression

Among the biggest reforms made during the depression was the Glass Steagall Act, which separated banks from investment service corporations.  In other words, Chase did the banking, JP Morgan did the investing and they could not combine their assets.

The 1980's saw a change.

In 2000 we had the "DotCom" crash.

By the time we reached 2008, there was a lot of ways banking and investing corporations (which are now combined) were using creating accounting to make their balance sheets pass the audits.

Yes, economic crashes are cyclical, however the severity and frequency wasn't there in the 40's, 50's and even much of the 60's.  With cultures changing and clashing between the generations in the late 60's and into the 70's, this was when you saw gas shortages and issues with the Middle East impacting the lives of average Americans.

Did Glass Steagall work?

Monday, June 12, 2017

Why Should We Care About The Great Depression?

I'll use an old phrase:  Those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

We have become a hyperconsuming culture in the United States, where we want to live like a celebrity, without the pay of a celebrity.  As was said on the Oprah Winfrey Debt Diet show, "we want the bling".

Let's give it some historical context, shall we?

Did you see what happened in the Great Depression?  Our national debt was at 44%, and that was before the New Deal.

The problem is the citizens of the United States don't support our national spending with bonds, that has been outsourced to other countries.  Because of this, the American people have lost focus of what this debt means, and how it will eventually come due in the end.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Finally - Success!

Finally!  Success!

I changed how I set up and cooked the recipe from March in the Crock Pot and it worked!

What I did differently:

I added the liquids first:  Cream of Chicken Soup & 1 - 32oz container of Chicken Broth.

Stir well.

Then I added the boneless, skinless thawed chicken breasts - diced.

Stir well.

Then I added the spices into the whole mixture.

Stir well, cover with the lid and run the Crock Pot on low for 6 hours.

After 6 hours, stir well.

Add 1 package of the dry egg noodles.

Stir well every 30 minutes for the next 2 hours.

Remove from heat and it's ready to serve!

It was yummy and I was able to take the creation to a Church pot luck dinner!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Pattern & Texture

Add some spice to your life!

For those of you living in apartments, there is a new way to get around those white walls...