A nerdtastic proposal

December 4, 2011

Ron posted something on his blog the other day about a British celebrity couple traveling Route 66 and hoping to avoid the paparazzi. One of them, Catherine Tate, played Donna Noble on Dr. Who.

Given the time-travel quality of the Mother Road, the TARDIS really wouldn’t seem out of place on Route 66 — which brings me to the most nerdtastic idea I’ve ever had: Life-sized replicas of famous sci-fi time machines placed along the Mother Road in strategic locations. They’d need to be positioned very carefully so geeks traveling 66 could use them for clever photo ops, with the time machines in the foreground and various historic landmarks in the background, but far enough from the landmarks themselves to avoid disrupting more historically accurate images.

For example: Why not stick a TARDIS across 66 and just west of Seaba Station so you could photograph it with that awesome old outhouse?

How hilarious would it be to find this in the middle of rural Oklahoma?

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Imagine this in the background behind the TARDIS. You know you'd shoot that. Don't even try to tell me you wouldn't.

Or how about parking the Delorean from Back to the Future on that abandoned stretch of I-44 near Newburg, Mo.?

This would be great ...

... in front of John's Modern Cabins.

You’d have to put Bill and Ted’s phone booth out there someplace, of course:

Inconspicuous yet entertaining.

Perhaps Bill and Ted would enjoy stopping for a photo op with the Gemini Giant.

That steampunk-looking time sled from The Time Machine would look spectacular parked at, say, Little Tin Barn:

The only question ...

... is whether anybody would even notice the Time Sled sitting there with all this craziness in the background.

Or how about a Stargate out between Glenrio and San Jon?

How awesome would it be to find this ...

... on this lonely stretch of road?

Of course, the Enterprise has been known to boldly go through time as well as space when the occasion warranted. A life-sized replica would look about right in the Texas Panhandle, which is already sprinkled liberally with roadside oddities, courtesy of Stanley Marsh 3.

To boldly go ...

... to Conway, maybe? Can't be any weirder than the giant cross to the east in Groom or the Cadillac Ranch at the western edge of Amarillo.

Once I got started talking about sci-fi on 66, Ron offered up what might be the simplest and most potentially unnerving of all possible geeky roadside attractions. It’s not a time machine, but how creepy would it be to run across this …

… in the middle of the Mojave Desert?

It would freak me right the hell on out if I saw the sun setting over the monolith as I approached Cadiz Summit.

I could also see the TARDIS or a Stargate showing up along 66 somewhere between Hackberry and Kingman, perhaps in the general vicinity of Giganticus Headicus.

Emily


How cool is this?

January 22, 2011

Craftster Best of 2010 Winner
I’m a Craftster Best of 2010 Winner!

One of my classroom projects actuallly made Craftster.org’s “Best of 2010″ list!

Remember the chalkboard number lines I made out of yardsticks and blackboard paint to help my kids get the hang of graphing inequalities? I posted them — and the little robot chalkboards that went with them — on Craftster, mostly to offer a little inspiration to other teachers who might be lurking around there. I’m not sure how they beat out so many awesome projects in the “Miscellaneous” category, but there they were on the list!

Incidentally, Craftster is a terrific site. The creativity over there makes my occasional outbursts look downright tame by comparison. A few examples from the “best of” list:

Homemade deodorant. Based on the ingredients, this looks as if it would actually work very well.
Video game-themed manicure. I’ve got some fake nails in the bathroom that I’ve been thinking about attacking with paintmarkers. Hmmm….
Crockpot granola. Also known as “what Emily is making for breakfast tomorrow.”
Adorable eyepatches. Mad props to this little girl’s mama for thinking up a cool way to turn something potentially traumatic into something fun: Little kids sometimes freak out over eyepatches, but the other kids all thought this little girl was cool, because her kittycat eyepatch made her look like a kick-ass pirate with excellent fashion sense. Bonus that her cat-with-an-eyepatch design reminds me of the illustration one of my students drew while we were reading Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Black Cat” during class one afternoon. ,|..|
Stained-glass window. Dazzling.
I think I just figured out what to do about my ugly-kitchen-light-fixture problem. I just need to round up about two million LED Christmas lights.
How adorable is this?
Love this. I’ve been plotting something similar, in a different color scheme, for my kitchen chairs.
This one is definitely on my to-do list for next weekend.
Love this.
Bumblebee!
Clever Shrinky Dink ring. I think Princess Wiggly and I need to get together soon, because this looks like a perfect project for her.
Craziest spice jars ever. I’m totally stealing this idea.
Coolest purse ever. The Green Woman motif has me contemplating the possibilities of a soft-sculpture sheela for my vaguely-Irish-but-mostly-just-garden-themed kitchen….

There’s plenty more on the list. Go take a look. Just don’t blame me if you end up in the throes of an overwhelming creative outburst by the time you get done looking through all the cool stuff other people thought up.

Emily


Chalking it up

December 6, 2010

My Algebra I kids are learning to graph inequalities on a number line. To teach them effectively, I needed a tool that would allow them to graph several problems in rapid succession, with answers big enough that I could see them from halfway across the room. After some thought, I came up with a number line written on a yardstick that had been coated on one side with chalkboard paint. I used the inch markings — which were stamped into the wood — as guides to keep the spacing even. They were cheap (less than $30 worth of materials for the whole project) and worked really well.

The picture above shows one of the number lines and another little tool I made for the classroom: I took cardboard cutouts of robots (available from Michael’s for $1.99 a dozen) and sprayed them with the chalkboard paint. The kids will use them to show me their answers to problems they work in class.

Here are some closeups of my handiwork:

I like the robots. They’re kind of like those dry-erase paddles you get at teachers’ stores, except they’re a lot cheaper ($5 for a class set instead of $105) and a lot cuter. I’m hoping they’ll overcome some of the kids’ shyness about sharing answers in class. Calling out an answer is scary, but holding up a cardboard robot with the answer written on it is just funny.

The other cool thing about using homemade items in class is that they make the kids feel loved. My kids always get really excited when they find out I made something for them myself: “You made that? Really? How long did that take? I can’t believe you spent all that time making that just for us!”

Handmade means something to them. My mentor/saboteur at my first teaching job understood that. She had her faults, but her classroom was a very warm, inviting space, with handmade valances at the windows and little craft-show decorations everywhere. It felt more like a friend’s kitchen than a gritty urban classroom, and that really resonated with the kids.

It occurs to me that I have spent 12 years hoarding my bad experiences with this woman and dismissing the good. Until this minute, I don’t think it ever occurred to me to acknowledge what she was doing right or to consider that she might have loved her kids as much as I love mine. There’s another blog entry in that, but I’ll save it for tomorrow, as it’s getting late tonight.

For now, I’ll just bask in the knowledge that I am healing, be it ever so slowly.

Emily


Lovely evening

September 26, 2009

Today started out rather shakily — I got up much later than I’d planned and had the nagging feeling that I’d just cheated myself out of half my Saturday — but once I got going, I picked up steam.

We went to Sapulpa for lunch at Chinese Family, then went down to the Frame Shoppe to get a gameboard laminated for classroom use. Frank gave me a very generous discount because it was for school (or maybe just because he’s looking out for a fellow roadie).

After we got back, I relaxed for a little while and then got to work on the question cards for the game. I found some inkjet postcard blanks on a shelf in my office and used them to make the cards, which saved me a lot of time. They turned out very well.

I mixed up a bottle of horchata and put it in the fridge to chill while I took Gretchen to the lumberyard to get boards for a collaborative project with another teacher. I came home with 10 boards, which I cut into two-foot lengths. Any Saturday that includes both Gretchen AND power tools is a goid Saturday, as far as I’m concerned.

I’m about to give the bathroom its weekly scrubbing and head into the tub for a soak and a facial, followed by a mug of hot cider, some homemade kettle corn, and a Bogie and Bacall movie.

Hope you’re having a good Saturday, wherever you are….

Emily


Bandanna projects

November 25, 2007

I cleared several projects off my plate this evening. All of them, oddly enough, involved bandannas. Having been taught by my creative writing teachers to “show, don’t tell,” I’ll just let pictures explain it:

1. Gift wrapping. No tape, no wrapping paper — just reusable ribbon and bandannas. I’m hoping to start a trend that will keep a few rolls of wrapping paper out of the landfill. :)

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2. Wallets. I finally finished making the “fabulous prize” I promised to Janet, the blog reader who got the correct answer to the Neil Diamond trivia question a few weeks ago. She’s getting a dark purple wallet with metallic gold paisleys on it. While I was at it, I made a purple floral print wallet for my friend Kathryn from Australia, who kindly shipped me some Vegemite and some cool souvenirs from Down Under a couple of weeks ago; camo and royal blue paisley wallets to hold checks for a couple of Ron’s young relatives for Christmas; and a saucy little rockabilly-looking lipstick-print wallet to replace the boring harvest gold paisley one I’d made for myself a few months ago. The wallets are all made the same way; I just showed them in three different positions because I’m probably going to post them on Craftster later and people might want to get an idea of how they’re put together.

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3. Book cover. Because I’m a Christian Scientist, I don’t carry aspirin or anything like that … but I do keep pocket-sized copies of the Bible and Science and Health in my purse so I can look up healing ideas on the fly. The books survived WWII unscathed in my Sunday School teacher’s pocket, but my purse is a whole ‘nother matter, so this evening, I used a steam iron, a bandanna, a bit of fusible webbing, and a scrap of ribbon to make this handy-dandy slipcover, which protects the books from the stray coins and keys that have a tendency to get wedged between the pages and dogear them.

It took a bit of trial and error to fold it and press creases into the right spots, but I think it turned out pretty well. I’m including pictures of how it folds up in case you feel like riffing on the design to protect a book or two of your own. I think the basic design could probably be modified fairly easily to accommodate a paperback novel.

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We spent part of this afternoon cruising 66 to Chelsea so I could take some pictures with my new Holga. I’ll try to get the roll developed this week so I can show you what (if anything) I got. This is the first roll I’ve put through the camera, and it’s a Holga, and it’s been a long time since I shot film, so I’m not holding my breath, but we’ll see….

I was going to decorate for Christmas today, but I have to clear my craft desk first, and I couldn’t do that until I finished my bandanna projects, so I guess I’ll just plan on cleaning the living room and digging the tree out of the garage tomorrow evening.

On a totally random note, I have been listening to some excellent blue-eyed soul this evening: Amy Winehouse (I have decided that “Amy Amy Amy” is one of the best songs ever written, and “Love Is a Losing Game” sounds like some long-lost Dusty Springfield relic), Joss Stone (love her cover of “God Only Knows”), and Van Morrison (“Tupelo Honey”). Wonderful stuff.

Hope you had a good weekend.

Emily


Coolest. Thing. Ever.

November 20, 2007

Check out this article about a new solar technology that could change the way we all think about electricity.

By my calculations, if the PowerSheet actually works as well as this article suggests it might, you could finance it for five years and end up with a monthly payment lower than the one you get from the power company.

This is the coolest thing since the release of the Honda Insight.

Emily


Almost a Holga

November 18, 2007

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It’s not quite a Holga, but I bought a camera tonight that’s about as dreadful as anything I’ve owned. Which means, of course, that I love it. If I had Photoshop on my laptop, I would love it even more, as its potential for digital creativity strikes me as enormous. It’s a Vivitar keychain camera. It will take 20 “high-res” images (example posted above), 81 “low-res” images, or 243 “compressed” images. It’s also capable of taking a few seconds of remarkably decent video.

I bought it for two reasons: It’s the size of a Tic-Tac box, and it cost $10.

I’m a sucker for tiny things. I like to be prepared for any eventuality, so my purse currently contains all of the following: a tiny sewing kit in a metal box smaller than my thumb; an LED flashlight half the size of a cigarette; pocket-sized copies of the Bible and Science and Health given to me by my first Sunday School teacher, a WWII vet who carried them in his pocket many years before I was born; a Swiss Army card, which is like what you’d get if Q from the James Bond movies crossed a Swiss Army knife with a credit card; a miniature box cutter on a keychain; and a 10-foot tape measure.

I think this tiny digital Holga wannabe is the perfect addition to my collection of tiny random objects. :)

Emily


Unless …

November 12, 2007

As promised, I put together a Soundslides show last night for folks who may have missed the Tulsa Solar Tour but would like to learn a little bit about how the crunchy-granola half lives. It includes information on energy efficiency, recycling, water conservation, composting, organic gardening, chickens, beekeeping, woodstoves, LED lighting, solar energy, hybrid cars, carbon offsets, and more. The slideshow is set to John Lennon’s “Power to the People.”

To see the show, click here … then borrow some ideas and go do something to knock down your power bills. :)

On an unrelated note, the time/date stamp thingy on WordPress is acting weird. I decided the other day to join the ranks of the National Blog Posting Month participants. I’d thought that I’d missed a day or two in November, but when I looked back over my posts, I found that I hadn’t missed a single day, so I went ahead and signed up, figuring I could keep the streak going easily enough. Two days later, I glanced at the calendar on my sidebar and noticed there were some gaps in it. Apparently the time/date stamps had readjusted themselves in some strange fashion, so I had to go in and manually change them back. Weird.

Emily


Tulsa Solar Tour

November 10, 2007

(Cross-posted from House of the Lifted Lorax, because I am too tired to write a whole new riff here.)

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I think our hens may have been even more popular than our solar panels this afternoon as we led tours of the House of the Lifted Lorax. They certainly made a big hit with my young neighbor, who has been watching them from afar (or at least from across the easement) for months. He wasn’t comfortable with the idea of petting them when we took them out of the chicken tractor, but he definitely liked watching them through the chicken wire. When his mom and grandma got ready to leave, we had to coax him inside with the promise of a cookie (oatmeal-cranberry-chocolate-chip, made with honey and eggs from our backyard).

Between 20 and 25 visitors from all walks of life stopped by to see the house and yard. We had some old friends show up, we made some new friends, we got to know a few of our neighbors a little better, and we had a surreal but utterly wonderful moment shooting the bull with a pair of self-described “old hippies” who could have been us in 20 years.

One of our visitors told us she’d come more for the chickens than anything else, and one couple on the tour walked out to the backyard to see the solar array but shifted their focus to the chicken tractor the minute they saw it. As it turns out, they’ve been thinking about keeping chickens but weren’t sure how to start, being city dwellers. I think our feisty, funny Bond Chicks offered them as much encouragement as anything I might have said. I hope they’ll post and let us know how they’re doing when they get a flock of their own.

Our bees were a big hit, too, and several people were interested in the LED “lightbulb” in my desk lamp, which isn’t the brightest light in the world but is pretty whizbang nonetheless.

If you missed the tour, the organizers are already planning to do another one next fall. I am also hoping to get a hand free in the near future to put together a kind of virtual tour to give you a sense of what’s possible … and in the meantime, you can
click here
to see a copy of the flier we handed out, explaining the various things we’ve done to reduce our ecological footprint.

I’ll leave you with one more dose of cute:

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Have a good weekend, and go do something nice for the environment.

Emily


Almost time!

November 10, 2007

Two hours to showtime. I’m just about ready, too … just a few last-minute touches to take care of in the next couple of hours (like getting Ron up so I can make the bed), and we’ll be good to go.

One last time: If you’re in the Tulsa area and need something to do today, the Tulsa Solar Home Tour starts at 11 a.m. and goes to 5 p.m. You can start at any of the three participating sites and visit them in any order you like. You can find a flier with directions and details here.

I’m really looking forward to this event. There are a lot of misconceptions out there about living lightly on the earth — people always seem to think you have to spend a lot of money or live like Laura Ingalls Wilder to reduce your environmental footprint, but that just hasn’t been the case for us at all. You can do some expensive (solar panels) or labor-intensive (organic gardening) things, but most of what we’ve done here is simple, inexpensive stuff that anybody could do with a minimum of effort.

I hope we get a big turnout, of course, but even if just one person shows up, sees what we’re doing, and gets inspired to install a few CFLs or turn the thermostat back a few degrees this winter, it will have been worth the effort.

It’s going to be a good day.

Emily


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