I was late to work . . . again . . . as usual :(

NCTE has a new file server today. Well, actually, I guess they had it days ago. They just gave us all access today. The end result is that we all have to rearrange everything that we keep on the network to fit this new arrangement that IT came up with. I think the system is reasonably sensible. I just wish there could be more conversation about what people need.

We had our team phone call with IRA this afternoon, and I worked on various lessons and such. I was finally able to get into the interactive tool, so I have the Comic Vocabulary tool nearly done. I hope to get that lesson live tomorrow.

On the down side, literally, I tried to install patches to the ReadWriteThink server, and SQL crashed. Again. I have followed all the instructions that I’ve been given by the MCI engineers, and it still fails. I wish we could come up with a real solution. In the meantime, I’m waiting for someone from MCI to help get the site back up. Going to bed early. I’ll have to be in the office very early to deal with all this :(

For some unknown reason, I woke up at 6 AM and was wide awake. I got a drink of water and wisely convinced myself to sleep till 8:30.

We ended up with some problems with the ReadWriteThink calendar this morning. I seem to have accidentally lost some entries that out vendor was to work on. Now that I’ve found them, we have too many for this work period. Feel really stupid about it, but it seems to have worked out. The lost one is for March, and we really want to have it live. Fortunately, they are kindly doing an extra one this time, and the next phase will be one short.

Today has mostly seemed like a day of meetings. I did get a little work in on a lesson plan that pairs paintings by Edward Hopper with short stories by Raymond Carver. But we also had a team update and a huge multidepartment meeting on Google Analytics, which they’re using on the NCTE site to try to do more targeted marketing.
I know that they are doing e-mails now to people who click through on certain things, and I guess there’s more to come. The tool isn’t compatible with WebTrends, so NCTE won’t be using any information on ReadWriteThink.

Okay, I admit that wasn’t it. I also took down the lingering Christmas lights and put up lots of heart decorations in the office. It seemed like time for the change, and I was tired of the overhanging, but never turned on, lights.

Inbox: Does the Holocaust Matter?

NCTE is providing some resources for Oprah’s
National High School Essay Contest
, so the Ideas section for this week’s Inbox focuses on “Does the Holocaust Matter Today?” I also added resources on the ALA awards that were announced on Monday.

I wrote the Inbox that will go out tomorrow, and working ahead, wrote the Inbox for next week as well.

I finally grew completely exasperated with the stupid chair mat at work. Around the 11th, they put chair mats at all the desks. The problem is that our carpet has no pile, but they bought the kind of spiky mats that should settle into the mat. As there’s no pile, instead, we have mats up on little stilts. Everyone has been having problems rolling chairs on them. Because I am exceptionally large and heavy however, mine chair ends up stuck in indentations. Wherever the chair sits, the mat gets pushed down. Then when I try to move, I can’t. I’ve nearly fallen out of the chair several times. Today, I decided I was fed up with it. I took the mat out from under my chair. Eventually someone will notice and make me put it back; but for today, it felt amazingly assertive and so much better without that horrible, cheap mat. Every time I tried to roll on it, I had another remind of how big and fat I am. It had to go.

Technology woe of the day: I bought a refurbished wireless keyboard and mouse, but I can’t get it to work. Try as I might, the two of them won’t connect to the computer. I finally gave up and packed the thing back up. I spent very little money on it, so it’s not a great loss financially. It does bring up an ongoing problem for me through. What am I supposed to do with the technology graveyard of junk that I have collected? I feel so guilty just throwing things away, but I don’t know what else to do with them. The stuff ends up piling around in the way. What the world needs is a thrift shop for outgrown technology. Someone would probably be overjoyed to get some of this junk, and it’s just causing me to feel unhappy and wasteful.

Installed Download of the Day: TaskBlaze, mentioned on LifeHacker. I always have trouble keeping track of when I’m working for NCTE at home. I usually make my best guess, and usually I underestimate because it’s so hard to tell for sure. This little tool is basically a stopwatch that you can start and stop at will. When you stop it, the tool exports the information to your Outlook calendar. It looks as if it will be very useful. I end up with clearly marked blocks of time on my calendar for when I’ve been working. You can enter a title for your task, which is exported to Outlook as the title of the appointment. I’ve added it to my Start Up folder, so that I remember to turn it on when I’m working.

Since I’m stuck on the interactive, I spent most of the day working on my own political cartoon lesson plan. Found some cool stuff to link to. We already have one political cartoon lesson on the site, but this one will be different because it’s looking at style while the other one focuses more on interpreting a cartoon.

The sad and unfortunate part of all this, however, is that I was writing and concentrating on the lesson plan and I totally forgot about the laundry till just now. I have no idea what I’m going to wear to work tomorrow, but I can guarantee that it won’t be any of my favorites. I just hope I have something clean that also fits.

I’m still in love with the TiVo. I watched the playoff games, and at one point I missed a controversial play and realized that I could back up and replay without those crazy TV broadcasters. Then I realized that I can pause the commercials and then fast forward all of them more quickly and less annoyingly than actually watching them.

Continued work on the comic vocabulary images. I’m having a hard time optimizing them so that they are small enough for the tool without losing detail. They keep going pixellated and looking rough. I think I have to just keep tweaking them.

Out of the blue, I decided to make Monster Cookies. I think I just suddenly wanted sweets. I have something like four dozen, even though I cut the recipe. I’ll have to take some to work on Monday.

Watched Oliver Twist, courtesy of the TiVo. This is clearly my favorite new toy. Very handy indeed.

We had the monthly lunch meeting today, the Lunch Bunch. Yummy broccoli-potato soup. Spent most of the day working on the comic handouts and images for the comic book lesson plan. I finished working on the lesson plan, but I still need to do the interactive. There’s still no access to the tool. I can get in, but I can’t upload images. Maybe by Monday. Did the grocery shopping this evening, and generally got little else done. Watched Lord Jim and Hurricane.

Had my doctor’s appointment today to discuss my carpal tunnel. The resident was okay, but I really wanted to talk to my doctor. BP was 120/84. She said that I can cancel the appointment with the hand surgeon. My hands are much, much better. Maybe it was taking off my rings, as silly as that sounds.

Came home from the doctor’s and the plaster guy was here to put the finishing touches on the ceiling. Basically, he painted it. Now I have a patch of the ceiling that is much whiter than the rest of the ceiling. I guess I’m going to have to paint that entire hallway to get things to match. And eventually, I’m going to have to clean up all the dust that’s on the floor. :(

I didn’t go to the office today. Between the doctor’s appointment and the ceiling work, it didn’t make sense. Continued work on the images for the comic interactive. In the process, I got an idea for a lesson plan. I can use the format information from this comic book lesson on how text and various graphics are used to create a lesson that analyzes the style of some cartoons. I’m thinking of using political cartoons. First I have to get the interactive finished, and I still can’t load it into the MarcoPolo tool. I’ve contacted MarcoPolo to ask for help. I hope to get the comic book lesson plan up soon, but I can’t finish it until I have the interactive. And I have to finish all of that before I can write anything of my own.

The roofer finally got someone to come and take a look at the hole in my ceiling this morning; and he had someone who could come over and begin work this afternoon. Instead of patching the hole, he cut out the entire square of the ceiling between the attic access and the walls then placed a piece of drywall into that hole. Speeded up the process dramatically from what we originally thought. The first layer of plaster has been applied, and now we just wait till tomorrow to see what else is needed.

I spent most of the day working on images for a comic book/strip vocabulary interactive. Most of the work is finding or designing little pictures that fit the definitions that the lesson plan writer has provided. They’re all fairly corny; but they’ll accomplish the goal. When I get it finished, it should be usable from the 3-5 grade band to secondary. Unfortunately, the MarcoPolo tool that I would use to make the interactive is down. So I can’t actually drop any of this work into place. Sort of disappointing. I wanted to see it in context. Guess I just have to be patient. Still I got a lot done because I was working at home all afternoon while I was getting plastered (har har). It’s amazing how much more you can get done when you’re not interrupted all the time.

During our team update this morning, I noticed, I think, that I go about things differently from Lisa. Maybe it’s just perception. She had her usual list of things to cover#151;lesson plans to review, proposals to respond to, and so forth. She worked down her list, telling us what she needed us to do. I thought about how my updates with Sharon go. Lisa works down through a list of what she needs from us. In my updates, I spend a lot of time saying what I’m working on. Maybe I talk about what I need too. But it just suddenly felt as if I go about things all wrong. Maybe I spend my time trying to justify things by going through that list of projects I’ve finished and the ones that I’m working on. Maybe if I peeked in on Lisa’s updates, I’d see her going through similar lists. The team meetings really aren’t the same as our individual meetings with Sharon. Still, I just had this revelation that I focus on the wrong things. And worse yet, I’m not quite sure how to change it. So much of what I do isn’t things that others can give me input on. I don’t need anything from them to update the server or work on interactives. Sigh… I guess I just have to try to listen more and then decide if I really am doing this all wrong.

Inbox: Research Strategies for the Internet Age

The Ideas section for this week’s Inbox focused on Research Strategies for the Internet Age: how to examine resources, avoiding plagiarism, and so forth.