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What A Long Strange Trip It's Been
Saturday, 25 July 2009
Murder Mystery Party - The Good, The Bad, and The Guilty
Mood:  cheeky
Topic: Surprise

Turns out...I was the murderer. Yep. Who knew? I didn't even know. Everyone else figured it out but me.

We had a great time with Robin, Floyd, Joshua, CJ, Vikki and TJ - so much so, we are already planning on doing another one.

I am looking through the two others I already have and haven't played in years. One is the Roman Ruins and the other is Power & Greede. I think everyone is leaning towards Roman Ruins and wearing togos over tuxedos and evening gowns again. OR we could go tie dye and do the Hippie Theme one...I forget its title.

Anyway, we had a great dinner if I do say so myself. Matt bought some gorgeous ribs from Wal-Mart of all places and they turned out so juice and have LOTS of meat - very surprising for pork ribs.

I posted pictures on my Facebook photo album. Everyone's costumes were wonderful. Robin even had REAL spurs that made that spur jingle jangle when she walked. It was too cool.

YET - I have to make sure that the next time we play, Floyd's character is not "light in the loafers" as he was uncomfortable with having to play with that in mind. It's all a roleplaying game...I mean, Robin's not an outlaw, Vikki's doesn't have mad cow, and I am not a whore. Tongue out

 


Posted by amiga/trippiehippie at 12:01 AM CDT
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Wednesday, 15 July 2009
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Mood:  celebratory
Now Playing: "Take on Me" by A-ha
Topic: Surprise

I took the afternoon off to have lunch with my friends Chris Champange and April Stevenson today. We had a wonderful time at Old Chicago - eating, drinking, laughing and generally being nuts.

April and I bid Chris farewell (she had an afternoon meeting) and went to go see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood prince at the Warren West.

It was awesome even with all the stupid cuts and story revision they did all over the place. At least it is primarily the book and not as messed up as books four or five.

Best Potter film yet in my humble opinion. I can't wait to see the next two.

I went and saw Order of the Phoenix with April when it was released, and I think now we have a standing date to see the next two Harry Potter movies together.


Posted by amiga/trippiehippie at 12:01 AM CDT
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Thursday, 14 May 2009
American Reinvestment and Recovery Act 2009 is working for us!
Mood:  bright
Now Playing: Born to be Wild by Steppenwolf
Topic: Surprise

The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 is making an impact on Wichita Public Schools. New grants are being approved right and left and my office is simply humming with activity on top of all the normal activity that keeps me jumping this time of year.

Just today we were notified 'unofficially' that the district has received $118,130 in ARRA for the expansion of our AmeriCorps Growing Responsible Achievers & School Program (GRASP) program. Currently, the district has 24 people who are paid stipends through the GRASP program who work in our Title I schools while they attend college. They are displaced people, or people who were unemployed and need to be retrained and are looking for jobs in education. These 24 people work with children who need assistance with reading. The GRASP program is like a Grow Your Own Paraeducator or Teacher program. The success rate for participants is very high and most become fully employed by the this district if not other districts in our area as paraeducators (if they attend only 2 years of college) or as teachers if they finish their 4 year education and gain a teaching certificate.

The expansion ARRA grant adds 8 new positions in the GRASP program who are going to focus on children with disabilities who have parents that are either illiterate or are English Language Learners - they can read in their native language but not in English. It is difficult for children of parents who cannot read English to flourish in public schools without extra help. This expansion will coordinate with our current Family Literacy program and expand it for another year. Hopefully, by the end of this expansion program, those people will want to go into educaitonal careers permanently and will join the ranks of our growing highly qualified paraeducators.

Just last month we received confirmation that the district will be getting nearly $19.5 million in ARRA for Title I schools. Due to this extra money, schools that met Title I criteria in our district that we didn't have the money to fund will now get funding. These bubble schools will get the additional extra help and equipment the have been lacking. It is fabulous and I am so happy that both schools our children attend will be getting more funding for their programs!

Last week our Lunch Program submitted a grant for about $217K for additional equipment funded by the ARRA. Should we get this grant, it would definately help our lunch program which eeks by. Our district's lunch program receives federal funding through the National Lunch Program, but that money is only used for food. All the equipment has to come from other funds. Considering that the district has over 67% free and reduced lunch enrollment for our 49,000 children, the lunch program gets most of its money from the National reimbursement. This has only increased as the massive layoffs in the airline manufacturing sector have hit Wichita. Thank goodness the mortgage crisis didn't occur here, although we have seen a tremendous increase in homeless children (nearly triple the amount). So, this equipment money will be good so that the necessary equipment can be replaced, and funding that would have been diverted into the cost of food can be used to replace failing equipment.

On top of that, our Homeless Child Youth program is poised to receive over $133K in ARRA funding if our other grant gets approved. Like I said, we've tripled in the homeless population due to the financial crisis. This money will certainly help children in need of clothing, transportation, and other needs unemployment or welfare dollars can't be stretched to cover.

So - good use of ARRA is happening at Wichita Public Schools, and I am proud that my tax dollars are helping to fund it! 

 


Posted by amiga/trippiehippie at 12:02 PM CDT
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Wednesday, 28 May 2008
We Bought Kyle a Present
Mood:  bright
Now Playing: Pain - Stereomud
Topic: Surprise

We bought Kyle a drum set and it was delivered today! Weeeee - it is now set up and he has played it a little tonight - he's playing right now. I expect that he will play it a great deal tomorrow while we are at work and he can annoy his sister with all the banging.

We looked at a few hard rockin' tunes with wild drum solos on YouTube to inspire him a little to let go and just have fun playing his drums. No need to be controlled right now, just bang away and have a great time.

I've suggested to him that he wear his earphones and listen to his favorite songs and try to play along with the songs. We'll see how it goes. I don't mind the noise at all but I think Matt will start to long for quiet.

I just couldn't help buying them though. There was a one day sale on e-bay and a full drum kit containing: a bass drum, two toms, a floor tom, a snare, a crash cymbal, a high hat, all the stands, a drummer's "throne" (aka padded stool) all the pedals, a drum key and a pair of drum sticks cost only $199.95. Yes, they are made in China, but they are new and a wonderful glossy, shiny black color. With shipping the total cost was $288.95. Now, just how could I pass that up? Drum sets made in the USA by a name brand company cost WAY more money, and he is just a beginner. I figure if he can beat up on this set for a few years and show us that he really wants to play the drums. Then we can invest in a better set later, something by TAMA or Pearl with Zillgan or Paste cymbals.

The really cool thing is now whenever we want to get him a present we have oodles of stuff we can get him to accessorize; everything from more cymbals and stands, cowbells, tambourines, wood blocks, chimes, and of course more heads and drumsticks. OH - and if ever he wants to tote these things around, cases for all the drums, cymbals and stuff. I think I have Christmas and birthdays figured out for the next eight years!

I've already found several interesting books on drumming that come with CD's to listen to that teach you various beats to different songs. I have everything on a Wish List for Kyle so that if this turns out to be something he likes we can start down that path.

What I am also hoping this will do, is provide him with some healthy exercise. I don't think I have ever met a heavy set drummer in my life - at least one that played regularly and with any rock or enthusiastic music. It is just to strenuous a workout to get that big.

Hopefully this will make his time here at the house more enjoyable for him, provide him with something he can do indoors that still gives him exercise, and something that isn't about staring at some box of entertainment all day, but that requires imagination and creativity. We'll see.

I am going to post pictures of Kyle and his new drum set on Windows Live - take this link - http://trippiehippie1972.spaces.live.com/

 


Posted by amiga/trippiehippie at 9:36 PM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, 28 May 2008 9:43 PM CDT
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Wednesday, 21 November 2007
I Believe In Miracles
Mood:  cool
Topic: Surprise

I am in such a mood tonight, I don't know how to describe it. Matt and I are both sick, but we are at the computers trying to wear ourselves out so we can sleep. Yet, we are rockin' out to some awesome music right now. I have Stereomud's song "Pain" playing right now. We had been listening to Tenacious D for the last half-hour. I am not sure who I am going to put on after this, but it is definately going to be something we can continue to rock out to. Ah - I think Nickelback will be up next.

Anyway - work has been wildly hectic. I barely finished salary spreads before it was time to leave tonight. Seriously, one minute before quitting time the big boss lady finally was done with me. I finished my salary spreads and she questioned my estimations and asked my why sub teacher salaries was less this year to date as of October 31 compared with last year. Off the top of my head, I told her that my theory was that last year we had more vacant teaching positions at the beginning of last year than we did this year. She wanted me to prove that theory. Well, I went back to my office, pulled numbers, and I was right. Last year there were 55.2 teacher vacancies, and this year there are only 35. Yep! A difference of twenty teachers makes a big difference in the amount of subs that we hire to fill vacant positions. Then she questioned healthcare cost estimations vs. budget I told her my theory on that. I said I believed the budget was based on the higher projected cost of $6,858 a year. After contract negotiations with teachers it was reduced to $6,624. So the budget was based on the higher number. A difference of $234 a year per FTE. Well, when you have over 4,000 employees that is bound to make a huge difference between budget and estimations on actuals. She wasn't sure if she trusted my theory and wanted me to get proof on what number was used. So I did. I went to Kim M the Tech who did the budget, and I was right again. She had used the higher figure we were bandying about in June, not the approved figure that came out in late July. Then, she asked about the early retirement estimations that showed we would be $700K over budget. Well, I told her I thought Kim used last year's rates, and probably didn't use the full 4% on raises. Again, she told me to go make sure. I did, and again I was correct. So, for my first time doing salary spreads, the three areas she questioned and was prepared to tell me to go change - I did not need to change because the numbers were right - I was dead on and I could logically explain the reasons for the variations from year to year. Let me just say, this went a long way to calming the MASSIVE anxiety I have been feeling about preparing these salary spreads for her. I have been working myself into a tight little ball of worry about screwing these up and giving her numbers so out of whack she'd can my ass in a San Francisco minute.

Besides the salary spreads freaking me out, my direct supervisor handed off two more responsibilities to me last week at staff meeting. Let's just say, I had to get up and leave the meeting and go cry in the bathroom because I couldn't believe that she was dumping more stuff on me. I have more responsible areas than any other Tech my grade. I have nine areas of responsibility not counting all the extra stuff I do. I was so going to loose my temper, I just got up and left and let it out, then came back to the meeting. I wasn't going to be unprofessional and cry infront of the rest of the staff. I later spoke to her and told her that I thought it was too much work and I didn't think I could keep up with it all AND I was way stressed out. She reassured me that she knew I could do it. That wasn't my issue. I knew I could do the work - I'll have to work my ass off and do overtime - but of course I will do the work. I am just PISSED that others aren't carrying their fair share AND they are making more that I am. So, I am resolved to charge them overtime. I am going to take every break I am entitled to and my full lunch time - which will be a first - believe me. If things are late, well, too bad. I'm too busy. I am a month behind in billing because of all the extra crap they have been piling on me. I told Matt that if this keeps up, I am just going to have to make them hurt with overtime. I don't know if they'll really care or not. As long as the work gets done, I don't think they care about my mental or physical health in the slightest.

So - Matt's first week at his new Inspector II position with work has been a tiring one. He's not feeling the pain in his joints or fingers like he was with Assembly Lead III, but he's not used to crawling all over airplane parts looking for potentially hazard flaws in manufacturing. It's been one heck of a week for him, and he is SO totally looking forward to having this weekend to rest.

So - that means no huge dinner for us. Yes, I have a turkey breast and I will make him mashed potatoes and green bean casserole, but I am not doing all the stuff I usually do for huge family dinners. Thanks to TECT and the gift card my mother gave me for my birthday our groceries were paid for and I actually went to Dillions after work tonight and picked stuff up. Including of course Egg Nog for my baby. Yep, he just LOVES the stuff. I've never been an UBBER fan of the nog, but I don't begrudge him his nog. Anyway, it won't be much work, not like when I am making everything from scratch. I mean, I broke down and BOUGHT a pumpkin pie. Just kill me why don't you. No homemade bread or pie this year at all. No homemade cranberry sauce. Only thing that isn't coming from a can is the mashed potatoes and those are so simple an idiot could make them. It will be rather relaxing day for us.

Good grief it's late. I didn't realize that we'd burned up so many hours since I got home. We hung out, watched Little Miss Sunshine, then went to the computers to mess around on line with YouTube and various things. Well, it's time to go to bed. I'll write more this weekend.

 


Posted by amiga/trippiehippie at 11:23 PM CST
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Tuesday, 24 July 2007
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Takes Over
Mood:  celebratory
Topic: Surprise

My copy of the Deathly Hallows showed up on Saturday at 10am thanks to UPS and Amazon.com pre-ordering.

I spent all day on Saturday reading the book. I finished it a 11:45pm on Saturday and immediately started to read little bits over again. Matt read the whole book on Sunday. We agreed not to talk about it until we could both let it set in.

So, last night, we talked about it. We both read books differently. I try and figure stuff out as I am reading, like when the silver doe appeared, I questioned it and thought about who could have sent it. Not Matt. He just reads and accepts it as something that will be explained later - of course a zillion chapters later it was.

We were both surprised by the amount of characters that were killed off, some with just a line saying they were dead.

We were both happy with the ending - not the last chapter, but the ending. The last chapter about the future was cool, just not enough for me. I wanted more. But of course, I always want more.

We were both surprised certain characters used unforgiveable curses and nobody said a thing about it. Granted it was a war, but yikes, such Dark Magic.

We both laughed our buts off in certain places. Some places in the beginning were just damn funny. A certain line of Hermione's made both of us nearly roll off the bed with laughter. Do you know which one?

So - Harry Potter took over our house this weekend. I started re-reading it last night, slowly, reading it with relish and detail.

I am very sad the series is over. Happy that the story wrapped up, but sad to know there will be no more books about some of the best characters ever.

Well, at least I have two more movies to look forward to.

Cheers to you JK !! Laughing


Posted by amiga/trippiehippie at 6:37 AM CDT
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Wednesday, 30 August 2006
Taogaea is found!
Mood:  lucky
Topic: Surprise
Who is Taogaea and why do I care? Or why should you care?

Taogaea was the signature used by the artist Eddie Powell during the 1970's when he was perfecting his early works known as contrast art. For those of you who really know me and my family or if you have checked out my Photo Links and looked at my house pictures from California, you'll note that I have a small Eddie Powell collection from his Taogaea period. My mother and father still have two of the larger paintings, 'After a wall in Venice' and 'Spencer Tracy', respectively. I have 'The Marx Brothers', 'Laurel & Hardy', 'WC Fields', Tahoe Trees, and an unnamed portrait of a lady who I currently believe is Nancy Sinatra. Eddie Powell did portraits for Elvis, Ms. Barbara S. herself, and Tom Jones to name a few notables.

So, needless to say, I am excited. I am not about to part with these paintings, not a chance. I'd like to know what they are worth, and I should definately get them on my insurance with special notes that I have an Eddie Powell collection.

Check out Taogaea - Eddie Powell's Website This has information on his life and his recent Surrealistic works.

To say I am surprised that I finally found him is an understatement. I have been looking since I got an internet connection in 1997. Thank you Ebay and thank you Google. I would never have reconnected to the artist without your lovely sites.

*bounce bounce* Perhaps I should change my mood to excited instead of surprised?

Posted by amiga/trippiehippie at 6:36 AM CDT
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