Saturday, July 31, 2010

I Love a Diner

This week found us back in south Jersey to see Rich again. Paul and Rich went for a quick dive in Barnegat Lake and we ended the evening in this diner.

I love diners. They are the staples of dining out for me.  I love that you can get anything at any time of day and when it comes to the older, classic diners, I love the decor.

The Forked River Diner is one of those classic diners. Outside, it's clad in the prerequisite chrome. Inside, mirrors, chrome, teal vinyl, booths and bar stools complete the picture.

We arrived a little before closing on a weeknight. Paul and Rich ordered breakfast and I ordered a cheeseburger deluxe. There's a relaxed familiarity with diners in general that seems to settle in once you sit down. Maybe it's the expectation of comfort food or the timelessness atmosphere.

After we ordered, we settled in to discuss the afternoon and upcoming plans. I snapped a few pictures with my phone, trying  to capture the moment without disturbing it for the handful of other diners who were also enjoying the evening.

We were last out of the diner  a first for me; the diners near us are open 24/7.  After we dropped Rich off, Paul and I headed home. The parkway flashed by in a blur.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Each Lovers the Othr. Forever…..

You can take the editor out of the office, but you can’t take the editor out of the girl.

This is a picture of one of four identical window shades at a Chinese buffet where my husband and I occasionally have dinner. Every time we eat there, I am distracted by the typos. The er that changes what I assume should be Loves to Lovers doesn’t bother me as much as the period after Othr.

That period tells me that someone saw there was a typo and decided that, rather than redo the entire silkscreen, they would just add a period as if to indicate that “other” was intentionally abbreviated.

It’s a very odd solution to the problem and one that bothers me a bit.

[Post edited to make more sense. I shouldn't blog while tired. Thanks to OWG for pointing out what I missed.]

Monday, July 26, 2010

Vacation in a Day

In a household where one person officiates weddings (and other ceremonies) and the other teaches SCUBA, summer is not the obvious time for a vacation, it’s the busy season. And often our weekends are spent apart, each tending to our own clients.

That being the case, my husband and I have developed the habit of taking little mini vacations—usually of one day.  We’ve found that it’s not the amount of time, but what you do with it that counts.
The key to it all for us is a laid back pace. If we leave with a plan, but wind up doing something else, it’s all good, as long we we’re together.
Two weeks ago we spent Sunday SCUBA diving in PA at Dutch Springs with our good friend Rich. It was great. A little bit of a busman’s holiday for Paul as Rich was finishing his qualifications to become a dive master. The last item on his agenda was guiding me through a SCUBA refresher. It was my first time in several years and I was so happy to get back to it as SCUBA diving often feels like the only time I’m not multi-tasking or headed to one appointmment or another.
It was a great day, hot, but clear. The water had warmed up. The “vis” wasn’t the greatest, about 20 feet. But we were under water and having fun. 
Between dives, Rich grilled some steaks and made roasted potatoes. We chatted, celebrating Rich’s accomplishment and my return to the water. We soaked up the sun until it got so hot that we retreated to the water for another dive. And after that, we ditched our tanks and just bobbed at the surface in our wet suits chatting for another forty minutes.  
We wrapped up the day by stopping for dinner and filling out our Dive Logs on our way home before going our separate ways.  It was a full day, and included a weekend’s worth of fun, a drive in the country, two dives, a BBQ, and dinner out. I got home feeling as if I’d been gone much longer than a day.
Yesterday was originally supposed to see us back at Dutch, but a long and very hot Saturday, each attending our separate vocations, saw Paul and I in great need of a lie in. But the beauty of the long summer days, is that you can still enjoy a nice day out, even if you don’t get out till after three.
Paul and I managed to pry ourselves out of the house at around three-thirty. We were headed “down the shore” –which is Jersey talk for "we went to the beach."


I was on my way home tonight and saw this guy waiting at a bus stop. He was wearing a shirt with an ampersand on the chest.

I had to make a stop and he was there as I drove past again. I have to wonder, are other random punctuation marks roaming the streets of New Jersey?


Getting ready for a conference call this morning,  I couldn't stop yawning. Then I realized that it was finally cool enough for tea.

It's been too hot for weeks and I have been missing my morning mug of hot caffeinated goodness. I know this respite from oppressive heat is temporary and that there is some irony in celebrating with a hot beverage.  But when the morning involves listening in on a 2.5 hour conference call--as a technical writer many of my calls are more about listening than participation--nothing else will do.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

On Picking our Paths

Photo © Cristina Kollet 2008

I work from home and I like listen to presentations or music as I work. It provides a substitute for the background noise that usually comes with an office and coworkers.
Lately I’ve been listening to the TED series of talks and one speaker has really caught my attention. If you get the chance I highly recommend these two talks by Sir Ken Robinson:

In these talks, Sir Robinson talks (among other things) about how our Education system doesn’t recognize or reward individual talents. It’s designed to crank out professors and people to fill corporate jobs. He says it needs to change…I hope it does.

Like many, after high school, I went to college. Honestly, no other options were ever presented to me. I went to college because it was expected. That’s simply what one did after high school. I have no regrets about it. I am glad I went and I know there are many who want to go, that don’t get the chance.  But I didn’t exactly enter with a clear goal and I didn’t leave feeling very prepared.

At the time, my college program required students take a major, a minor, and a mini. The areas of study were to span three disciplines to make you a well-rounded student. I majored in English Lit and read mostly Shakespeare for four years. My minor was Anthropology (my backup because they didn’t offer a minor in Archeology) and my mini was Astronomy. Years later a friend, who happens to be an educator, told me "I never understood why you did that."

Monday, July 5, 2010

Fun with My New Camera

Paul got me a new camera for our anniversary last week.

I took it out tonight to try and catch the fireworks. I should have read the manual first, but I really like the results.  Enjoy!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Thank a Teacher Today

This weekend is first since last October when I haven't had a class to prep for or homework to grade. This was my second year of teaching for the Celebrant Foundation and Institute. I teach three courses for the Institute:
This year was extra busy. I taught three sections of Fundamentals. Then, in the second half of the class year, I  earned my certificate in Funerals and Other Ceremonies for Healing while teaching a section each of Families and Weddings.  

I thought that was as busy as things could get. Then I was given the opportunity to create and teach a course I had proposed to the Institute, an introduction to social media for Life-Cycle Celebrants®.  Let me tell you, it was one of the most challenging things I've ever done.

The other courses I've taught came with full curricula, all of the class materials prepared and ready.

My course was three, one and half hour sessions and I created the course myself from scratch. I taught three topics, one on each night, in a webinar format. I answered questions, but there was no homework to grade. The amount of time I put in to each course in creating and prep-word was a minimum of 10 hours.

My point?

I've always wanted to teach. And I am thrilled that I get to teach subjects that I love. Growing up, I always pictured myself as a high-school English teacher and I have many friends today who are educators. But when I looked into becoming a teacher a few years ago (I went as far as taking the PRAXIS exam) I realized that I just couldn't afford to make the change.  The pay cut I'd have to take as a teacher would my already struggling family too deep in the red.

From what I see in the news and hear from my friends it's getting harder and harder to be a teacher.  Salary cuts, layoffs, and an education system that makes teachers spend more time training kids to pass standardized test than learn to think critically aren't helping. It boggles my mind that teachers are so under appreciated. When I was a kid I couldn't understand how it was that baseball players made more than teachers. Now that I have a practical understanding of the investment of time and dedication--OUTSIDE the classroom, it absolutely astounds me.

So this is to all my teacher friends--thank you.

And to everyone--vote for people and programs to support education, ask your kids' teachers what you can do to help. It doesn't even matter if you don't have kids. We all benefit when we educate the next generation.
Gifts from my first Celebrant students.   
Every teacher should be so honored.

Updating this post to add a video I stumbled upon today.

Taylor Mali: What teachers make | Video on

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Ceremony Project

I admit a certain bias when it comes to weddings. I think the ceremony is what makes it a wedding. The cake, flowers, etc. are icing on the cake. But it's been my experience that ceremonies often get the short end of the stick when it comes to wedding planning. (Twice I've been contacted about weddings where the couple had all the details planned and then realized they forgot to plan the ceremony.)

I've wanted to write about this for a while, but I wanted to take it beyond my anecdotal evidence. Till today, I wasn't sure how to do that.

Today, I was playing with StumbleUpon and I had an idea. Take a random sampling of wedding-related sites as revealed by StumbleUpon and see what attention, if any, they give to ceremonies.

I set the StumbleUpon filter to weddings and clicked Stumble! 30 times. Each time I saved the website for review later. At a glance I have a variety of sites, wedding blogs, photographer sites, boutiques, wedding planners and more. It will be interesting to see what I find.

The results will be revealed on my Inclusive Ceremonies blog.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Observations on Creating and Teaching an Online Course

Tonight I finished teaching the very first course I developed myself. It was an introduction to Social Media geared toward my Life-Cycle Celebrant colleagues.

First, let me say I knew it would take a fair amount of effort to develop a course from scratch. Next time, however, I will take my original estimate of the time involved and multiply it by five.

From the outside, it might have appeared no big deal, teach a group to use the tools I spend a good portion of my time fooling around on. Toss in some screen shots and we're off--but there was much more to it than that.

In the last month, I've taught myself Power Point, created three slide show presentations averaging over 60 slides each and learned to conduct a webinar. (The webinars were made successful by husband Paul, who handled the organizer duties.)

In an unexpected turn of events, I also had to re-teach myself the very subjects I was going to teach my students because the two sites I was covering (Facebook and Blogger) had undergone some very noticeable changes since I first started using them.  (Two happy side effects of that were that my other blog InclusiveCermeonies got an unscheduled revamp and this blog was created.)

Over all, I am very happy with the experience. The course took place over three Wednesdays, but it dominated my June. Who would have thought I'd be glad to have only one ceremony booked this month?  My only other priority this month was our vow renewal--which was lovely.

So, from here it's back to ceremonies. This weekend I'll be writing a vow renewal for my good friend Dana and also a wedding ceremony for another couple. Both of these ceremonies will take place over the next three weeks.

For now, it's a three-day weekend. I'll be writing those ceremonies, putting together the take-away materials for my class and maybe getting some sunshine. That will be the least busy I've been for a long while.

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