Archive for June, 2010

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More than one Number 1??

June 30, 2010

In a NYTimes article the other day, the reporter covered a recent trend in education nationwide. Some high schools have decided that selecting one student as valedictorian is unfair to the other A-plus students. Instead, they support multiple or group valedictorians to spread around the honor.

Before I get into this discussion, I must confess a personal bias. In 2002, I had the extreme honor of being my high school‘s valedictorian. There was definitely drama associated with this accomplishment, but when the smoke cleared I was one of three student speakers at our graduation – valedictorian, salutatorian and pro deo et schola (a student chosen as much for their academic excellence as for their overall character).

My school was small, as was my graduating class (approximately 85 students), but that did not lessen the pride I felt as I spoke to my classmates, our families and all members of our high school community. Throughout my academic career, I worked very hard for my grades. I studied for hours and spent long nights writing papers to get me to that point. The acknowledgement of my years of hard work is something I will carry with me wherever I go. It continued to push me in my schoolwork during college, and is still a driving force in my graduate work and in all aspects of my life.

The trend towards multiple valedictorians is near to my heart, and I see value to both sides of this argument.

By honoring just one of the many hard-working, deserving students, the others might feel a sense of disappointment at a lack of acknowledgement. They may feel slighted and angry, possibly even distraught. Scholarly success should be praised regardless of class rank. Why should fractions of a grade point place one person on a pedestal while countless more are left out of the spotlight?

On the other hand, we are a competitive society. We teach our children to pursue athletics and to be the best at their sport. There’s only one winning team in a baseball game, only one winner in a track event. There are debate clubs, chess clubs, scholarship competitions and other academic challenges in which there are clearly defined winners. Students are taught to seek excellence in every aspect of their lives. Why shouldn’t we publicly honor someone who meets that academic challenge throughout their high school career?

It’s a tough debate, one in which I hope you will participate. Do you think it’s unfair to single out one valedictorian rather than celebrating all of the above average students? Or should the highest overall G.P.A. win out?

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Guest spot on another blog

June 30, 2010

This week, I was asked by my good friend Jamie to contribute to his technology blog. The request came after I had a strong reaction to one of Google’s latest innovations – Google Voice.

Please check out my post, “Let your ‘Voice’ be heard,” and let me know what you think!

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Creating Your Own T-shirt Bag

June 25, 2010

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This entry was originally posted on my graduate school blog, but I thought you might like to read it as well. Enjoy!

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I love creating things with my hands. There is something so fulfilling about conceiving an idea, putting your fingers to work and coming out with a creation uniquely yours. Recently, I got an idea for a project that reclaims a T-shirt to make an awesome bag.

While at a fantastic outdoor flea market last weekend, my husband found a super cool Beatles shirt for $5. It was too small for me to wear, but I was inspired to take its already fun and funky design and use it to create an equally fantastic bag.

 

Step 1 - Find a shirt to make into a bag.

Step 1 - Find a shirt to make into a bag.

 

Cut the sleeves and collar off the shirt, leaving what would become the main body of the bag.

 

Step 2 - Cut sleeves and collar off shirt.

Step 2 - Cut sleeves and collar off shirt.

 

If you’re using a long sleeve shirt like this one, separate the short sleeve cuffs from the longer, fake undershirt sleeves. These pieces will be important later on.

 

Step 3 - Separate Short cuffs from long sleeves.

Step 3 - Separate Short cuffs from long sleeves.

 

I purchased fabric that complimented the shirt to use for the bag’s lining. Try to get cotton that can be washed & dried – this will make your whole bag machine washable!

 

Step 4 - Find a fun lining fabric that goes with the shirt design.

Step 4 - Find a fun lining fabric that goes with the shirt design.

 

Using the body of the shirt created earlier, cut the same shapes in this new fabric. Align the lining with the shirt body, which should now be flipped inside out.

 

Step 5 - Cut lining to approximately the same size as the bag body.

Step 5 - Cut lining to approximately the same size as the bag body.

 

Pin the bottoms of all four pieces together to make sure they line up correctly.

 

Step 6 - Pin lining to bag to make sewing easier and more even.

Step 6 - Pin lining to bag to make sewing easier and more even.

 

Sew them all together to form the bottom of the bag.

 

Step 7 - Sew bottom of bag just below where you pinned.

Step 7 - Sew bottom of bag just below where you pinned.

 

Take the small cuffs you separated earlier. These will become pockets inside the bag. Trim the cuffs into pocket sizes. Sew one near the center of each side of the bag lining. I think it’s easier to do this when the lining is still loose rather than after the sides of the bag have been sewn.

 

Step 8 - Use the short sleeves to create inside pockets.

Step 8 - Use the short sleeves to create inside pockets.

 

Sew the sides of the bag. Trim excess fabric from sides if needed.

 

Step 9 - Sew the sides of the bag, trimming off excess fabric once done.

Step 9 - Sew the sides of the bag, trimming off excess fabric once done.

 

Grab the longer sleeves you set aside earlier. These will become the bag’s strap. **NOTE: If using a short sleeve shirt, you can create a strap out of the lining fabric.**

Sew the cuffs of the sleeves together securely.

 

Step 10 - Sew the two long sleeves together at the cuff to form a strap.

Step 10 - Sew the two long sleeves together at the cuff to form a strap.

 

Fold the cut edge of one side of the strap and pin inside the bag body. Repeat for other side.

 

Step 11 - Pin strap to lining fabric about a half inch from the top.

Step 11 - Pin strap to lining fabric about a half inch from the top.

 

Sew the straps into the bag, using a box design for added security.

 

Step 12 - Secure strap by sewing a box shape.

Step 12 - Secure strap by sewing a box shape.

 

Finish sewing the top of the bag. Flip back right side out and admire your handiwork. How does it look?

 

Step 13 - After sewing the remainder of the top, admire your completed bag!

Step 13 - After sewing the remainder of the top, admire your completed bag!

 

Was this tutorial helpful? If you create your own T-shirt bag, please let me know! I’d be happy to post photos of your designs.

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Yea, Chucks!

June 21, 2010

This post is purely for the sake of showing off my awesome new Chucks, courtesy of Jesse. How awesome are these?

My Purple Chucks

My Purple Chucks

My feet are so happy! Much happier than my insanely burnt shoulders, anyway. Note to all the uber pale folks out there – if you’re going to spend a few hours at an awesome outdoor flea market, make sure you wear a shirt with sleeves and/or use lots of sun block. Ouch!

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Prince of Darkness 101

June 16, 2010

Even though I’m not proud of this fact, I will admit it – I didn’t become a fan of Ozzy Osbourne until MTV put his family on the air. I knew who he was, but didn’t start getting into his tunes until I saw the show. I watched The Osbournes every week, and even purchased the show’s soundtrack album (which has some great tunes on it, so check it out before you judge me!).

Here’s a clip that always makes me laugh. Ozzy and Sharon are checking out the stage setup for his upcoming tour, and the he’s not altogether pleased with what he sees. The video quality is terrible and it has German subtitles, but it gets the point across. WARNING: there are multiple “f”-bombs, so adjust your volume accordingly.

Soon after the show debuted, I learned more about the Prince of Darkness. Like many rockers, he was not kind to his body. All kinds of drugs (and mammals) entered his system for decades, and he continued to struggle with medications during and following the TV show’s run. Incredibly, he is still around and rocking the house.

He’s a fascinating man… and apparently, I’m not the only one who thinks so.

Scientists are now planning to study Ozzy’s genetic makeup in an effort to understand how the human body is able to withstand intense abuse. I’d love to see the results when they’re finished.

While they’re at it, maybe these scientists should also put in requests to Keith Richards and Scott Weiland. They would be likely also be interesting case studies.

Do you have any other suggestions for whom these scientists should bust out a Petri dish?

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Two new reasons to love Legos

June 15, 2010

If you weren’t already aware of the awesomeness of Legos, I’ve just read two stories that could prove it to you.

Lego Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 Polizia, courtesy of Wired.com

Lego Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 Polizia, courtesy of Wired.com

First up, there’s the scale model of a Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 Polizia, the crazy cool racer used by Italian State Police. Much snazzier than the Fords I’m used to. They catch criminals in style!

Monster Chess (Credit: TeamHassenplug.org) - Courtesy CNET (news.cnet.com)

Monster Chess (Credit: TeamHassenplug.org) - Courtesy CNET (news.cnet.com)

Then there’s Monster Chess, a huge, robotic chess set that uses sensors built into the 156-square-foot floor to move the pieces via computers. Makes me wish I knew how to play!

And since I’m already showing some Lego love, I’ll share some pics from my personal collection.

Here’s a huge Lego Nessie (Loch Ness Monster) living in the water outside the Lego Imagination Center in Downtown Disney. Isn’t she beautiful? I wonder if the real Nessie posed for this artist’s rendering…

Lego Nessie, photo taken by me 8-22-08

Lego Nessie, photo taken by me 8-22-08

Speaking of artists, have you ever heard of an artist whose work is all done with these little plastic bricks? This is a piece titled “Gray” by the amazing Lego artist Nathan Sawaya. I took this photo during an exhibit of his work at the Stamford Museum and Nature Center.

Nathan Sawaya's "Gray" - photo taken by me 4-11-08

Nathan Sawaya's "Gray" - photo taken by me 4-11-08

Incredible, right? Check out the other stuff on his site to truly be amazed. Works like all of those above are a refreshing reminder that Legos aren’t just for kids and we should never harness our imagination.

Have you seen other incredible Lego art? Or perhaps art created by other childhood toys? Share them in the comments below!

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1,500 and counting!

June 15, 2010

I just wanted to thank everyone who comes to the blog for bringing my total page views to 1,500 today! Knowing that other people take an interest in what I write means the world to me. If there’s anything you’d like me to talk about, please leave a comment and let me know. Otherwise, you’re stuck with whatever pops into my head.

Thanks again. Let’s see how quickly we can get to 2,000!