New Habits

Day 5: Faculty Lounge Mugs
Day 5: Faculty Lounge Mugs (Photo credit: lorda)

I’m still working on establishing some new (better?) habits. It’s kind of hard to do that when you go on vacation. ūüôā But today, I’m going to make an attempt to get back to it. ¬†Here are my current habits:


  1. Have coffee as soon as I get up.
  2. Read some blogs while having coffee.
  3. Shower/dress/more coffee & blogs ¬†–> then to work ¬†(whether at home in the summer or off to school during the year)


  1. Watch tv (during dinner, even, sometimes!)
  2. Fall asleep (usually with the tv)


  1. Candy Crush (when bored)
  2. Leave things wherever I last had them

I’m sure there’s more, and they’re not all bad. ¬†I’m pretty organized about my time, for instance, generally planning things well in advance, and having a solid to-do list. ¬†But here are some habits I’d like to have:

  1. Walking every day (or at least when weather permits)
  2. Doing something more active instead of getting sucked into games or the Internet more generally
  3. Keeping the house tidy. Cleaning up after myself, etc.

I think that would do at the moment. ¬†I’ve been thinking about ways to gamify this whole process and/or reward my progress. ¬†These are small things that I think could make big a difference if I stick with them. ¬† And they don’t take that long. ¬† But for some reason, I can talk myself into or out of any of these. ¬†I figure if it becomes automatic, then I’ll be less likely to do that. ¬†It needs to be easy enough that I will do it even when I’m tired, that I no longer feel it’s an imposition to do some of these things.

This is a work week

I have had meetings the last two days. ¬†I’m going to a conference today. ¬†And I have a meeting tomorrow. ¬†I spent a good bit of time dealing with email yesterday. ¬†Let’s face it. ¬†I’m working. ¬†I was in denial before, but now I can’t deny it. ¬†Oh well.

I still have class prep to do, and we’ve decided as a family to take one last trip before school begins. ¬†In fact, Geeky Boy will be leaving 3 days after we get back. ¬†That makes me a little nervous, but I’ve decided that I deserve it. ¬†The work will get done, even if it’s not at a point where I want it by the time school begins.

I think I’m going to be ready. ¬†I kind of have to be.

Can summer start now?

Yesterday, I posted this tweet:


Next week is graduation week, essentially. Writ large. ¬†Here’s what my schedule looks like:

Monday: Final day of MS exams. ¬†Meeting with senior whose externship I’m advising. ¬†Hosting a party for 7 teenage girls.

Tuesday: Class day.  Awards for seniors. Senior video. Party for various colleagues who are getting married or having other life changes this summer. Evening Arduino workshop.

Wednesday: Finals for Geeky Boy. Exam return day for me. Graduation rehearsal. Geeky Boy’s birthday.

Thursday: Finals for Geeky Boy. Graduation for Geeky Girl.  Lunch with Geeky Girl and friends.  Upper School graduation followed by reception.

Friday: Geeky Girl’s birthday. Multiple faculty meetings. Arrival of inlaws. 8th grade party for Geeky Girl. Various senior activities for Geeky Boy. Girls’ day with Geeky Girl (birthday present). Dinner with inlaws.

Saturday: Arrival of rest of family. Maintaining peace and sanity.

Sunday: Graduation party for Geeky Boy.

Monday: Geeky Boy’s graduation.

And did I mention that the US Open is happening like 1/2 mile from our house and half the roads are closing next week? And the house is. not. ready.

A view down the beach
A view down the beach (Photo credit: lorda)

And I have so many plans. Cool things I want to do.  Can it just be summer?


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RBOC: the cool and crazy edition

Life always gets in the way. I’m doing a million things, and yet, there’s more to do. Here are just a few items in my head.

  • There are interesting conversations on the CSTA mailing list about teacher certification and computer science. Let’s just say it’s a mess.
  • I’m helping Mr. Geeky develop curriculum and documentation for Calico, an IDE/programming environment he’s helped develop. Because I needed more to do.
  • I’m loving Flipboard’s new “create magazine” feature. I’ve been creating collections of things as I read them. You can also share them. It’s mobile only as far as I can tell, but it’s definitely nice.
  • I’m exploring Google plus more. I like the communities. The one I’m liking the most, oddly, is Python. The education ones are so far disappointing. Also, having a hard time getting a good system of sharing going.
  • I can maybe see the light at the end of the tunnel. Summer is coming. I’m ready.

Life’s Pretty Good

I was going to do a write-up of the conference, which I’ll do eventually, but one thing that occurred to me as I wandered the streets of New York was that life for me, despite looming deficit ceilings and other political woes, is good. ¬†I’m lucky enough that I have a job that paid me to attend the conference. ¬†I could afford the phone that led me to cool restaurants and guided me to Ellis Island. ¬†It wasn’t my first trip to New York, thanks to first, my father, and then to Mr. Geeky (for moving us close by), so I wasn’t overwhelmed and felt free to find my way and explore places nearby. ¬†I’ve navigated public transit systems in many major cities–New York, Boston, Philadelphia, D.C., Paris, London, San Francisco–because I could afford to travel to those locations. ¬†I now default to using these systems when I travel, when I can. ¬†I wish there were more of them.

I have a job where the limits of my knowledge are stretched, but where I work with some really great people (that I’m looking forward to seeing again soon!), and I have wonderful students.

I like the town I live in, even though I do sometimes dream of moving either to the country or the city when the kids are gone or I retire. ¬†The last two days I’ve walked to the local ice cream shop with Geeky Girl. ¬†I couldn’t even do that in the small town where I grew up.

My kids, in general, are pretty cool. ¬†I’ve been driving Geeky Boy to a class 45 minutes away and on the way, we talk about all kinds of things. ¬†Today’s conversation was about 80s music and whether the likes of U2 or Bon Jovi will be played on radios 20 years from now. ¬†We didn’t get to whether radios would exist, but that’s a possibility. ¬†Geeky Girl is re-reading all the Harry Potter books, sitting quietly in the new den/family room.

Life is certainly not perfect.  I worry about things all the time.  But right now, life is pretty good.

Worry about weight, again

Let’s move on to other important issues, shall we?¬† Like weight.¬† I am once again frustrated by my having a few extra pounds.¬† The sad thing is my frustration stems from pure vanity.¬† I no longer have my 20-year old metabolism and therefore, no longer have my 20-year old body.¬† I consoled myself by sitting down with a bag of Fritos and french onion dip.¬† Aside from that occasional treat, my eating habits are pretty good.¬† And I don’t think there’d be much to gain just from my cutting a few calories here and there.¬† Plus, I really like food, and having to count every bit of it depresses me.¬† But I’m not countering those extra calories with the extra exercise.

I’m just a few days away from the 60-mile walk, which for me was supposed to achieve two goals.¬† One, it was supposed to contribute to a cause and connect me with my late stepmother.¬† That goal was mostly achieved, except I do wish my stepmother could have made it to this day.¬† But two, I thought that having a higher goal like that would motivate me to do more exercise.¬† But no.¬† I’m not entirely sure how well prepared I am for the walk.¬† Up until a couple of weeks ago, I was walking 7-8 miles a couple of times a week.¬† But I only managed a 3 mile walk this weekend and I don’t think I’ll have time to walk much more than that before the walk.¬† I find walking to be pleasant enough–even the longish ones–but I am sooo aware that I’m doing it to “exercise” not because there’s scenery I want to see.¬† I’m looking forward to this walk being over because I won’t feel like I *have* to walk or feel guilty if I don’t manage to walk.¬† Which is just a sad sad thing.

Part of me wants to just chalk this up to being 40-something, eat at will, and be done with it.¬† Another part of me wants to not be squeezing into pants and feeling disgusted when I look in the mirror while trying on clothes.¬† And still another part worries that if I do eat at will, and don’t exercise, I’ll end up not 10-15 pounds more heavy than I would like, but more like 30 pounds more heavy.¬† And then, sigh.¬† I think I need to find a hobby that burns some calories but doesn’t feel like exercise.¬† And I can’t do it alone.¬† That’s one thing I’ve realized about walking.¬† I didn’t like doing it by myself.¬† I should have reached out to my teammates more and scheduled walking time.¬† I tried to get the family to join me, but not much luck there.¬† And of course, winter is upon us, so outdoor activities might be limited.¬† Suggestions appreciated.¬† Commiseration welcome.

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Sleep deprivation is not a good thing

Update: Purse has been found! Hallelujah!

Okay, so I wasn’t feeling that deprived by the time I got going yesterday. ¬†The weather was truly awful: pelting rain, wind gusts over 30 mph. ¬†On my way into work a few traffic lights were out, making for interesting driving. ¬†My students presented their multimedia projects first thing and they were really fun to watch. ¬†It was a great way to start the day. ¬†Then we shifted into the topic for the day when the lights went out. ¬†No power in a computer-oriented lesson is a bad thing. ¬†We spent a while discussing Google and search and I was just about to give up, when the power came back on and we were able to continue. ¬†A good thing, because I didn’t want to get too behind. ¬†The rest of the class went well, for the most part. ¬†By the time I was done, I was feeling pretty energized. ¬†I grabbed lunch and waited to go to my students’ mock lessons where I had to play, first, a 10th grade student, and next, an 8th grade student. ¬†It was fun. ¬†I admire my students for getting up in front of the class with us behaving not so well. ¬†The weather was still blustery when I started to head out. ¬†As I was doing my mental check, I realized I didn’t have my purse. ¬†I headed back into the classroom. ¬†No purse. ¬†I remembered having it in the bathroom and decided I must have left it there. ¬†Back to the bathroom. ¬†No purse. ¬†Next stop, a couple of offices where the purse might have been turned in. ¬†One office. ¬†No purse. ¬†The other office. ¬†No one there. ¬†Next stop. ¬†Security. ¬†No purse. ¬†They sent me to another building to look. ¬†Building requires ID to get in. ¬†No ID.

I blame lack of sleep. ¬†I haven’t left my purse anywhere in over 20 years. ¬†And then, it was stolen, so not really my fault. ¬†So, add to my list of crazy things I have to do today canceling all my stuff, arranging for new ID and all that jazz.

On the plus side, I have a couple of projects that are gearing up, one new, one that was on hold, but which I’m ready to dive into again, and then I got another possibility that when I have time probably tomorrow, I’m going to check into. ¬†I also have been handed a very fun thing that will happen on Thursday that I’ll tell you all about as soon as it’s done. ¬†Also, I have a conference to attend this weekend that I’m also looking forward to. ¬†So I went from not wanting to do housework to not having time to do housework. ¬†Life is truly an interesting thing.

Settling Into Who I am Now

Laura Blankenship, originally uploaded by Gardo.

The picture here is from a little over a year ago at Faculty Academy 2008. It’s one of my favorites despite the fact that my hair is askew (it’s always askew it seems) because I think it captures a certain image I have of myself. There’s the ever-present computer, the look of concern/passion (captured in several photos of me), and the fact that I’m obviously mid-sentence.

Just a few months ago, I was at Faculty Academy 2009, my third FA, and I was delighted to be there, but I was feeling a little unsettled. I’d just finished teaching and was looking ahead to being “just a consultant” instead of a part-time teacher and a part-time consultant. It felt a little daunting. I felt unidentifiable. The only other time I’ve felt this unsettled was right after we moved to Arkansas and I was a stay at home mom. I attended my 10 year high school reunion and I wasn’t sure how to identify myself and what I did. It felt really odd to say I was staying at home because it didn’t jibe with my image of myself as a career woman. Now, I have no hesitation saying that part of what I’m doing is managing the home front.

I still consider myself a teacher in addition to my roles as a consultant and a mother. I hope to always have a foot in the classroom by teaching a class at least once a year, but I also see the role I play as a consultant as being primarily about teaching, about helping people learn something new, learn to navigate an ever-changing technology landscape. I think it’s just in my blood.

I feel a certain sense now of knowing what I’m doing without knowing everything about what I’m doing and being okay with that. Consultant work has slowed down a bit, but I feel confident it will pick up with the school year, the economy, and continued effort on my part. I still keep an eye out for interesting teaching possibilities or jobs in the education technology sector. In the ed tech world, most of what I’ve seen is about tech support, not teaching, which is, I think, the direction many of the jobs, outside of directorships, are going. In part, I think this is because there are more faculty using technology in interesting and pedagogically sound ways and they are taking the role of sharing that knowledge with colleagues, a role formerly played by Instructional Technologists. And this is a good thing overall. But it means that that kind of job is a job that doesn’t quite offer someone like me the combination of skills and opportunities that’s appealing. So I’ve created that for myself. And while I felt tentative about it at first, it feels more right every day.

Average is fine with me

A Gal√°pagos Giant TortoiseImage via Wikipedia

It took me a couple of days to get through this article by Margaret Talbot on neuroenhancing drugs. I’m completely disturbed by this whole idea. One of the people interviewed, psychologist Paul McHugh, for the article expressed my feelings exactly: “Maybe it‚Äôs wrong-footed trying to fit people into the world, rather than trying to make the world a better place for people.” Many of the people taking these drugs feel “behind” in some way; they feel like they’re not working hard enough, fast enough, etc. In some cases, their companies are demanding this kind of work. In others, they’re looking at their younger colleagues, those who don’t have families and other obligations and who seem sharper, and want to keep up.

It seems to me that the definition of “best” kind of productivity is what’s problematic here. Instead of letting people settle into work habits that work for them and their goals (while still meeting some basic company goals), the company defines productivity as creating more or working more. These drugs allow people to work longer hours, and maybe produce some better work as long as it doesn’t require abstract thought and creativity.
I’ve been feeling a little blah lately, feeling the pressure of the end of the semester and upcoming projects, but feeling that I need to still maintain balance despite the pressure. If I were one of the people in the article, I’d be taking a drug to help me focus. Instead, I’m using other methods of working on something for a set amount of time and then giving myself a break or a reward. I’m starting projects a long way out so that I don’t have to put in long, crazy hours just before they’re due. I feel like a tortoise in a world of hares. I feel conflicted about that, in part because I, too, recognize that I’m getting older, that I’m shifting careers into a space filled with younger, faster competitors. Part of me thinks I should be a hare. But I’ve done that before and it burned me out quickly, made me hate much of what I did.

I kind of feel sorry for those people who seem to be on a hamster wheel of their own making. Maybe they will accomplish amazing things, things I won’t be able to because of the way I choose to work. But will they enjoy the journey? I suspect it’s just a blur. And I’d like to have a clearer focus of that kind, the kind that can be brought by slowing down, observing and thinking.

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