Saturday, September 27, 2008

Jane: Cool Tool

Why have I never had one of these before? I just planted some jack-in-the-pulpit bulbs with it, and it was great! Much easier than with a spade.

As you can (or maybe can't) see, I got this item for the low, low price of 79 cents at Salvation. I'm going to use it a lot.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Jane: Missing Mom

There's a special art exhibit going on in New York City in honor of Milton's 400th birthday this year.

I read that and said quietly, "let's go, Mom!"

My mom would love that idea, of a special Milton's birthday exhibit. She studied Milton in college; I used her Milton book when I did years later. To this day, I laugh when I remember a Milton joke she made once when we were eating out. Our waiter had a name tag "Milton." "They also serve who only stand and wait," said Mom, and we collapsed in giggles.

Oh, and that's a line from a Milton sonnet.

So wouldn't this be fun: my Mom and I could go to the Milton exhibit, which includes documents and artwork related to Milton--especially Paradise Lost, because Heaven and Hell, angels and fallen angels, Adam and Eve are so intriguing to artists. And if we got there this weekend, we could go to the costume ball--now wouldn't a Milton costume ball be fun! Fallen angels and Adams and Eves and serpents . . .

And then we could see the Van Gogh exhibit. And maybe see a show or ballet or opera--there's a new production of Don Giovanni that sounds great. And if we got there soon, we could meet up with my Polish friend Ewa, who'll be in New York City for a seminar in early October.

Or maybe in the end, we'd just TALK about the happenings in New York City--but even that would be great.

There are certain conversations that will never occur now. Not that I can't talk to other people about Milton or opera or books. But I can't talk with my mom about them.

Did I tell you I miss my mom?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Jane: Kyo Sa Nim

As many of you know, I'm not only Jane, but also Tae Kwon Do Mom. I'm still doing Tae Kwon Do, and am now a 1st degree black belt.

Recently, things at the dojang have changed. My friends--Brian A., Brian B., Pam, Jim, Kevin, Stacey--who went through the ranks with me and just before me, have all left. So now, I'm often the only adult black belt there. We have lots of teen boys, and a bunch of younger kids, too, maybe 20 people at each class, but it's nothing like when I started when each class was 30-40 people of all ages and ranks.

Not only are my friends gone, but this summer the teachers were unable to be at a lot of classes. So the teaching often fell . . . to me. I think in August, I probably taught 10 out of the 12 or 15 classes I attended.

I like teaching, and I think I do OK at TKD teaching, but I've only been doing martial arts for 3 1/2 years! It's one thing to fill in and do class once in a while, but having to do it on a regular basis--well, you have to think up curriculum and consider pacing and how you're going to teach 20 people when there aren't any adult black belts to help! Of course I enlisted the teen black belts, and Robbie is my official "assistant." But it was quite the challenge.

Plus, I want to be a student! I need to keep learning, getting advice, getting challenged. And I missed that.
I gently pleaded with my TKD friends to come back, but they were busy, on to new things, or just not doing TKD any more. So there I was. I joked that I should be pulling down a salary . . . I was actually beginning to get frustrated, and wondered if I should start looking for a school that actually mentors and appreciates its adult black belts.

Last week, though, both teachers started coming back to class. And on the first day they were back, Master Hughes called me up to the front of the class to award me this patch. He thanked me for my work, and praised my teaching. "I always hear good things about when Jane teaches."

OK, it's only a patch. But the fact that he thought of it, and appreciated my work enough to do something about it meant a lot to me.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Jane: Beethoven at Brucemore and our Orchestra

Last night we heard Beethoven's 9th under the starry sky. The Cedar Rapids Symphony opened its 2008-9 season with an outdoor concert at Brucemore, the historic mansion that's about a block from our house.

Robbie had heard about the concert, and asked if we were going. What a question! We walked over with our soccer mom chairs, some cookies and hot mint tea. The front lawn was packed with people--lots with elaborate picnic dinners, wine, candles--just like Blossom Music Center or Ravinia.

I'm glad the boys came, too--we discovered that both their music teachers were performing: Eli's piano teacher, and Robbie's trumpet teacher, both of them! And an ourdoor venue's great for when your son wants to tell you about his afternoon building project right in the middle of a piece . . .

The symphony's idea to have an outdoor concert was inspired. But it was also necessary. Their "home," the stately old Paramount Theatre (here's a photo)
was heavily damaged in the flood. They don' t know how long it will take to repair it. The old theatre organ, installed in 1928 when the theatre was built, was completely ruined by the floodwaters. They hauled it away, hoping to save part of it and/or rebuild.
So for this year, the Symphony will be parapatetic, moving from venue to venue, but mostly performing at Coe College in our Sinclair Auditorium. There were several chairmen who spoke before the concert, stressing the need to be generous in our support of the orchestra. There were donation buckets here and there, and an envelope in the program (which we had to pay for).

But then they made another announcement, which to me, seemed ill-timed. The Cedar Rapids Symphony Orchestra will be changing its name to "Orchestra Iowa." As the director said "when we perform outside of Cedar Rapids, that will be our name."
I bet the people in power have been considering this name change for a while. It sounds much more sophisticated than Cedar Rapids Symphony Orchestra. I mean, where's Cedar Rapids? Is that the same as Grand Rapids? Maybe if you look for some gigs in other states or outside the country, a sleek name like that will help.
But at this time, right when the city needs to come together to recover from the flood, it seems like a name change like this is badly timed at least. The simple idea of getting away from a non-recognizable name could be interpreted as an attempt to distance themselves from the community that they need to help save them.
I wonder what kinds of conversations went on over the summer as the board of trustees and/or the marketing committee discussed whether or not to make this change. Would have been interesting to hear them.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Jane: Feature Story Video

Just finished this one. It's available on You Tube (I just got an account!)

Jane: Video Game Scholarship

Did you know that there is a scholarly field of Video Game Theory?

I'm at work looking through "Choice cards," the little summaries of books the library sends out to faculty, who then request the ones they want for our library.

These are a few titles:

Persuasive Games: the Expressive Power of Videogames ("because games are process-based representations of specific political, social, and cultural systems, their persuasive potential extends beyond traditional verbal and visual rhetoric")

Cheating: Gaining Advantage in Videogames ("looks at aspects of digital play athat resonate with broader concerns in cultural and legal studies . . . and the paratext and the obvious relvance that . . . in cyberspace 'code is law'")

Well, I might order this one:

Exodus to the Virtual World: How Online Fun is Changing Reality ("Synthetic [online] worlds already draw millions of people into realms where online personae usually bear little to no resemblance to the players' actual lives . . . New social structures have already formed in online language, and it follows that we will adapt to new social structures as a result of widespread synthetic worlds")

The reviewer says "this book is highly readable, profound, and prophetic." Now that sounds fun.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Jane: That Basketball Project

I'm going to let Robbie write about this, too. But I want to show you some photos of us doing the concrete part of installing our basketball hoop-on-a-pole. Robbie looking into the 18" x 2 ' hole. I started digging, and Bruce finished it.
We had six 80-pound bags of this stuff.
I loved mixing it! Like mixing up bread dough! With a hand-hoe!
Robbie hefted the bags o'cement into (his) wheelbarrow.
We had to do some cleaning up afterwards.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Freakin' good luck in Bever Woods

Okay, this happened a while ago before school started.
I was riding my bike along the trail in Bever park towards the pool and I saw some headphones protruding from a small pile of leaves. I stopped to see if anything was attatched to them and surely enough there was a Sandisk Sansa 2GB clip MP3 player under the leaves! I looked in the ads in the paper and found it to be worth $60. I took off all of the music that was previously on it because it was all rap (blech) and put Tenacious D and US Army bands bugle calls on it as well as some video game music I had found. (yeah call me a nerd, I don't care but Metroid Metal is awesome)
BTW I'm loving Google Chrome!

Indiana Jones Spoof update/ I need a wifi extender

This happens to be the second time I wrote this because the first time I  wrote it on my laptop which is in the exact opposite corner of the house and two floors up from the wifi router in the basement so it wouldn't save or publish and now I'm used to its keyboard.

Anyway, I'll stop ranting long enough to type this:
The Indiana Jones Spoof movie ran up a cost of $300. PER PERSON. So we decided to battle CGI zombies instead of Commies.

More updates soon.
Wait. That's what I said three months ago...ah well.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Jane: Movie of Garden Show

In preparation to teach multimedia journalism in the spring, I'm learning how to shoot and edit video. I'm going to do some video feature stories this fall, to practice.

This first one is a simple first-person report on the Garden and Art Show.
You might wonder why I chose this particular music. It's because that's the only music this machine had! At least I like the song.

I actually made the movie last week--finally got the bugs worked out so I can post today.

Jane: Concrete

The weekend's project: cementing this pole into the ground. It's the bottom pole of a basketball "system." Robbie will tell the story in a later post--he and I did the work.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Jane: Best Laid Plans

I got up early this morning because I had plans. A friend invited me to see her belly dance group perform as part of Labor Day festivities. I looked forward to seeing it, and I decided to begin a new feature story project on belly dancing in our town and the women--usually mid-life women--who do it. Perfect story for a video feature!

But this morning when I got my camera out, the battery was dead! So no video feature footage :-(

I sulked for a while, but figured I can still do the story. And I learned something: check your equipment BEFORE you plan to go out!