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Silly quiz
buzzed, B&W
Ripped from Robin . . . mainly so I could answer question 13 . . .

1. What is your occupation? Program specialist with the Prevention Resource Center. Sounds all official doesn't it?

2. What color is your underwear? Red and white checkered pattern, kind of like those picnic table covers, but with smaller squares. Why is this question on all of these quizzes/surveys? Does anyone really care?

3. What are you listening to right now? The clickety-clackety as I type my answers . . . .

4. What was the last thing you ate? The airplane shaped cracker thing-a-ma-bobbers from the plane.

5. Do you wish on stars? Are you kidding me?

6. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? Oh, let's go with the politically incorrect answer and say I'd be yellow. More likely I'd be orange . . .

7. How is the weather right now? Okay, I just went from 55+ degree weather in DC to -8 degree weather in Helena . . . I'd say it could be warmer.

8. Last person you spoke to on the phone? Athena

9. Do you like the person who sent this to you? No one sent it to me, but I do like Robin (even though I don't know her that well) who I ripped it off from . . .

10. How old are you today? 27

11. Favorite drink? Hot tea

12. Favorite sport to watch? Umm . . . probably soccer, or maybe golf or tennis.

13. Have you ever dyed your hair? Nope. Never. This blue-green color I got going is a natural reaction of my body to the shock of my broken ankle. And the orange before it? That was because . . . um . . . 2005 was ending . . .

14. Do you wear contacts or glasses? Mainly glasses, contacts when I'm doing something physical, i.e. boarding or soccer.

15. Pets? Do you really think I'm responsible enough to care for another living being?

16. Favorite month? Don't have one.

17. Favorite food? Don't have one.

18. What was the last movie you watched in the theatre? Ummm . . . I don't remember . . . maybe the latest Harry Potter?

19. Favorite day of the year? No favorites, though Thanksgiving is usually fun.

20. What do you do to vent anger? I rarely get angry . . .

22. Fall or Spring? Both please.

23. Hugs or kisses? In general, neither . . .

24. Cherry or Blueberry? Cherry.

25. Do you want your friends to email you back? Hmm, this is what I get for taking quizzes that were e-mail forwards originally. I wouldn't mind a comment or two . . .

26. Who is most likely to respond? Robin?

27. Who is least likely to respond? Everyone else :P

28. Living arrangements? Alone. Which is sort of a pain when you're a gimp living in a second floor apartment with a spiral staircase.

29. When was the last time you cried? Umm . . . yeah . . . the last time I remember is when I was like 12 years old . . . There's probably something more recent that I don't remember.

30. What is on the floor of your closet? Luggage and a computer case cover

31. Who is the friend you have had the longest? I don't know . . . probably Josh at this point . . .

32. What did you do last night? Went to the mall with Greg and his entourage from Sidney, and then had some drinks and conversation with him back at my hotel . . . man that could be taken the wrong way . . .

33. Favorite smell? I'm not a olfactory person.

35. What are you afraid of? Every now and then I get overwhelmed with that "what the hell am I doing with my life?" question . . .

36. Plain, cheese or spicy hamburgers? Spicy and cheese.

37. Last CD you listened to? Best of Goldfinger

38. Favorite dog breed? Yorkies.

39. Number of keys on your key ring? 3

40. How many years at your current job? Less than a year in my current role.

41. Favorite day of the week? Hmm . . . depends on the time of year, but weekends (Thursday - Sunday) tend to be better than Monday through Wednesday

42. How many states have you lived in? 5

43. How many cities have you lived in/name them? Centerville, OH, Troy, OH, Cincinnati, OH, Ashtabula, OH, Endicott, NY, Argonne, IL, Springfield, MO, and Helena, MT

44. How many countries have you lived in/visited? Lived in one - visited Korea, France, the Caribbean/Mexico . . . I think that's it?

Radical Change is Good
buzzed, B&W
This is amazing - Harvard is offering full aid for students who's families make less than $40,000, reducting expected contributions for families making less than $60,000, and making an effort to target those who have made "remarkable accomplishments despite limited resources at home or in their local schools and communities."

Impressive stuff, even if the average amount for these families was $2,300, before, that's still almost 6% of a families income, pre-taxes.

Surprisingly, the average debt for the Class of 2003 was only $8,800. Crazy that they give that much aid out (and that their students, or their families, are rich enough to pay tuition).

Amazing figure from their article? They've increased their financial aid by 49% over the past six years, to almost $80 million.

Their recruitment for "financially disadvantaged" students is impressive as well, with waived application fees, paying for a visit, and having funds for books, winter clothing, and other expenses.

buzzed, B&W
So, I was in DC this week for a conference, and being on crutches in a city isn't fun. I usually have no issues with walking places, and walk most places in town. When I'm in a city, I'll think nothing of walking 10 blocks, but on crutches, even two blocks to get to the nearest Metro station was painful. Let me say, crutches + shin splits = pain.

The first day, I went up to Capitol Hill and hobbled around on crutches. This wore me out, and I ended up requesting a wheelchair at the National Museum of the American Indian (which was pretty impressive - I wish I had had more time to explore). Wednesday, I was just exhausted, and while I did hobble from the hotel to the convention center (all of a block and a half), I did use a wheelchair there. On the other hand, idiot that I am decided I'd go to the mall with Greg and his crew from Sidney, so I hobbled around to catch the Metro, and then the mall, and back. Thursday I used a wheelchair at the convention center again, as well as requesting it at the airport.

I probably should have caved earlier, but I value my independence too much. The first sign should have been the calluses forming on the palms of my hand as well as on the sides of my torso where the crutches rub. The next one should have been the pain in the palms of my hands. The numbness and stinging sensations in the palms in the middle of the night could have tipped me off as well.

I've been wearing my lifting gloves, after I briefly considered buying a pair of cycling gloves (as they tend to be padded in the palms). I figured my hands would toughen up, so the padding wouldn't matter . . . perhaps I was wrong, but at this point I'm going to tough it out. Hopefully I'm not being an idiot who's pushing it too much . . .

The wool sock I'm putting over my toes isn't helping much in this weather we're having here in Helena - negative 22 Fahrenheit last night. Crazy.

I also left my shower bag in the hotel . . . doh. I'm going to have to get someone to run me to the store to get some rubber bands I think or go back and buy another bag. (I'm a little surprised at how many options there are . . . )

Mad Money for Skiing
buzzed, B&W
Okay, the random thing comes first. Thursday evening, Vicki and I are doing the DC to SLC flight, and the plane is full of skiers. Apparently in the DC area, kids get Friday off, making this a four day weekend, and people tend to take their ski trips then. I'm looking around and thinking just how affluent these families are - some of them include families of five, who are going to be skiing for four days, staying in nice places, etc etc. With tickets out there running around $80/day, that's $400/day in lift tickets alone. Of course, the fact that I'm seeing them check in curbside with what appear to be brand new Rossignol travel bogs for their skis, and matching bags for the boots that they're carrying on, I probably should have known. I did find it interesting that it ended up that most of the people on the plane in my immediate vicinity knew each other, even though they hadn't planned on skiing together or anything. Of course, the opulence was even more apparent as they're talking about their little kids skiing, and how the wives would just be staying in the lodge and hanging out or shopping. Yeah, let's just go to Salt Lake from DC for shopping . . .

The guy on the plane next to me (who appeared to be some kind of lawyer from the conversation he was having on his cell phone) stopped talking to me after he asked me "So, I guess your ski season is over" and I responded with something about how I had jokingly asked my doctor "I guess this means my snowboarding season is over." I later hear him talking to some people across the aisle, and they're talking about how they hate snowboarders. While I realize that there are plenty of snowboarders out there who are disrespectful, annoying, loud, etc, I didn't appreciate being included in such a blanket statement. The guy was also a bit of a pretentious jerk, thinking it was unusual that the flight attendants couldn't make change for a $100 when his buddy was trying to buy a $2 set of headphones, that he could ignore the seat belt sign and constant remarks about how the seatbelt sign was still on, so passengers should remain seated - which were being made because he and his buddies wouldn't stay in their seats.

On the other hand, the girl in the seat behind me made the last hour or so of the flight interesting. She was a high school junior, and we ended up talking after she asked about my hair color. Ends up she's going to a private school in VA, and considering being an engineer. We talked a bit about that, schools she's considering, etc etc. I gave her some crap since she definitely had that East Coast mentality (she's taken the SAT once - scored "only in the 80th percentile", and is planning on taking it two more times, has a private SAT tutor, etc). She also showed off her new toy. I was shocked as she was saying her SAT tutor had taught her tricks to make things quicker, and one of them was for solving simultaneous equations. Somewhere along the line she never learned the addition/elimination method for solving, but only substitution. Crazy - first off that she was never taught this in algebra, and second that she thought this was a great new shortcut, and only learned it because someone can afford for her to have an expensive SAT tutor. There's definitely a part of me that wishes I lived in an area like this, since I could make some pretty decent cash on the side with some limited hours, especially with my background as a teacher and having worked for Kaplan. Maybe I should look into doing tutoring out here . . .

I was curious so I asked her if her or her friends used Xanga, LiveJournal, or MySpace. She responded nope, that they used Facebook (which I had forgotten had added a high school section). I graduated before my alma mater was added to the list of schools that Facebook supports, so I've never had an account, and I forget how big Facebook is among my friends who do have accounts.

I then asked her if she had a PDA, and she's like nope, she prefers using Outlook, and we ended up talking about how her school maintains an online calendar, and she told me a story about how she had trouble once with using some OCR software to scan in and then email the document to a classmate. I made some comment about how this wasn't ubiquitous when I was a student (and pagers were practically unheard of at my school, let alone cell phones). Still, it's pretty impressive (or scary) how much things have changed since I was a student . . .

Observations of a Gimp
buzzed, B&W
Wow, I'm doing a lot of processing today. While I was getting wheeled around at the airport last night, the guy dropped me off in the mobility impaired area with the seats close to the gate. There were eight seats, in two rows of four facing each other. One side was completely occupied, while the other had 2 people, leaving two open seats. I was surprised how quickly a woman who was in one of the seats got up and ran away once she saw me coming. Now, arguably she probably shouldn't have been in the seat, but on the other hand, even with my limited mobility, I'm reasonably agile with my hoping and was thinking I'd just sit in one of the empty seats, no big deal.

Being in a wheelchair was a bit on an interesting experience, even more so than crutches, as your perspective of the world is rather limited, and people tend to respond even more strongly to you when you're in a chair, as opposed to on crutches. I now also understand why people don't like it when someone comes along and gives you unsolicited "aid" by pushing you around.

It was surprising to me how quickly I got used to the wheelchair, and how one starts noticing different signs (i.e. elevators, ramps, handicap accessible doors, etc etc). I even ended up eating at Hooters instead of the Indian restaurant next door since I wouldn't have been able to work the wheel chair into the Indian restaurant. (Not that it was doable at Hooters either, and it ended up that two people had to help me to get through their double doors that couldn't be opened with the wheelchair inside the first door.

We'll see how Butte is . . .

Conference Observations
buzzed, B&W
So, I'd heard rave reviews about CADCA's annual conference from people, so had high expectations going in. I have to say I was disappointed.

My body needs a lot more rest these days (I'm sleepy now even after sleeping for 9 hours last night), so I struggled through most of the large group plenary sessions, dozing off a bit, but I can't say any of them really impressed me. I only made it to three (well sort of four) of the breakout sessions. The first one I went to was useless - the guy presented some alcohol data and told some stories about students dying for alcohol related reasons. I had gone in with the idea that he was going to present ways of using data to accomplish things, whether it be securing funding, evaluating program effectiveness, etc.

The second session was actually pretty solid, but not useful to me. They presented about the Indicators Handbook, and how some groups are making their own. Not really that different from our own Goals and Benchmarks, or the State of the State report that Public Health is preparing.

The third session I went to was an absolute waste of my time - it was supposed to be about data and presentation, so I went thinking I might learn something. Either people that work for non-profits have no experience with data presentation, or they're idiots. His main points included such basic things such as alway title your graphs and label your axes, make sure your graphs are showing what you want them to show, that the main ways to present data are scatter plots, bar graphs, and tables, and that graphical representations of data are beneficial as opposed to text only descriptions. Are you kidding me? I mean, I know I have an engineering background, and that we spend a lot of time learning how to write stuff that would go into scientific papers, but still, this was ridiculous. Of course, I lost respect for the speaker when he was saying that on the horizontal axis, you put the variable that doesn't change such as the year - and he said "I don't know the technical name for what you call it." I had to bite my tongue to not say that you but the independent variable on the horizontal, while the dependent goes on the vertical . . . The guy (who had a PhD) also went on to show us that tables are good, but you should probably highlight changes - i.e. if something decreases, you might show the final year in bold so that people can see how good the numbers are at the end. Do people really not know this kind of stuff?

I ditched out of that session a little early, and wandered over to one on getting true youth engagement. This presentation was pretty solid, as they practiced what they preached - they had youth presenting on what they were doing, and how they were active within their groups. Their model focused upon environmental change, and empowering teens to make this change. It seems their primary activity was Friday Night Live - providing healthy alternatives for teens on Friday night. The way they implemented this was awesome though, in that the teens had to go through a grant writing process to get money to fund the activities they wanted to fund. Adults were only involved to help out when the groups of teens needed it - in fact, they wouldn't even really help with the funding applications. The teens were responsible for getting the money, and then making everything else work. So damn cool.

(no subject)
buzzed, B&W
This looks like fun . . .