2009 GUESS Homeschool Science Fair

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 by guest blogger (and superfantastic person!) Lydia Netzer
click here to see the post in its original context

Thank you to the following homeschool-friendly businesses for supporting the GUESS Homeschool Science Fair and the young scientists of Hampton Roads!

Green Olive Tree is an internet company based in Portsmouth, Virginia and owned and operated by a homeschooling family. They offer a broad range of internet services, from reliable web hosting to corporate infrastructure solutions and server administration.

SKS Science supplies homeschoolers and other educators with all the science supplies you need to turn your dining room table into a proper laboratory. Browse their site for test tubes, bottles, face masks and other lab supplies and books.

Book Exchange is the largest used bookstore in Eastern Virginia. Unlike most musty and confusing used stores, this one is clean, bright, inviting, and has a huge selection of used homeschool books. There’s always an interesting curriculum find on these shelves!

Folkmanis Puppets makes the most delightful animal puppets available outside Santa’s workshop. Meet their most unusual creations like llamas, Chinese dragons, ostriches, flying squirrels. Unusual materials create realistic textures, and they all move in very realistic ways. Irresistible.

The Happy Scientist, Robert Krampf, hosts an online wonderland for budding scientists. With online science lessons, experiments to try at home, a science photo of the day, and new content added all the time, you’ll love setting your kids loose on this site.

Mad Science is Hampton Roads’ premier provider of science enrichment classes for children. Summer classes include “Crazy Chemistry” and a space camp developed with NASA! New homeschool science classes are being offered in Norfolk and VA Beach, with more planned for fall.

Moore Expressions is a homeschool bookstore in Virginia Beach, VA. They sell used and new homeschooling curriculum, host a support group, and publish a newsletter called the Bayith Educator. They are the premier source for homeschooling books in the Hampton Roads area.

Norfolk Karate Academy offers classes in Tang Soo Do (Korean karate) and Gracie Jiu Jitsu (Brazilian grappling and self-defense). With classes for children, teens, and adults, it’s a great way for anyone to get in shape and kick things in a socially acceptable way!

Brooks Systems offers standalone software and web applications that check legal compliance in all municipalities in all fifty states, and create truth-in-lending documents for residential lenders. Using Brooks for your automated mortgage compliance, you can be sure your loans are safe.

Virginia Air and Space Center was host to the homeschool science fair this year, and delivered awesome science classes for homeschoolers from their education department. The VASC is the educator resource center for the NASA Langley Research Center.

It’s Alive!

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Remember me? Someone said earlier today it had been a month since I blogged. I did not believe that. No way, I thought. But when I peeked, my blog said “way.”

NO way!!


Damn. I knew it had been a while, but I really (seriously!) did not think it had been a month. Sigh. I’m sorry if I’ve been worrying anyone. I’ve been ok, but just soooo overwhelmed with Real Life lately. I feel like I work and sleep and work and sleep and occasionally spend a few minutes playing pirate games on Facebook because pretending to push people overboard is fun. (It is. Don’t judge unless you’ve tried it.)

I got to the place where I felt like I just couldn’t blog every day (can you say “burn out?”), but now I’m finding that the problem is that when I don’t blog every day I have trouble making myself blog at all because I suddenly feel like I have nothing to say. I am mumbledy-mumble years old and still having trouble getting a handle on the whole moderation thing. :-P

SO anyway, a few days ago, Jacquelyn over at Ascender Rises Above tagged me for the Five Quirky Things About Me meme-ish thing. I’ve done variations of that one before, but there’s always more quirk, right? Sure there is! So I’m going to tell you five things I’ve done - maybe quirky, maybe not - in the past few weeks. If you would like to know more about any of those things, go ahead and ask questions in comments and I can answer them in future blog posts - maybe even less than a month from now. Yeah, baby! That’s what I call motivation!

Five Things I’ve Done in the Past Few Weeks

1. I have attempted to climb to the top of a 35-foot telephone pole in order to jump off. (I only made it about 20 feet up though. Then I jumped. I’m still really bummed that I didn’t make it all the way to the top.)

2. I had breakfast in prison.

3. I took a GED assessment test, even though I have a college degree. (I still don’t like math.)

4. I got a really bad perm.

5. I shot both semi-automatic and fully automatic weapons and used lots and lots of bullets.

Any questions? :-)

Oh and I’m not tagging anyone, although you’re more than welcome to share your quirk if you want. I love quirk.

Friday Fill-In #94

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Friday Fill-InAs always, my answers are in bold.

1. Follow the yellow brick road.
2. A book (or two, or three…) is something I always take with me on vacation.
3. To achieve your goals, you must be sure of what they are.
4. Item #5 on this list is something I’d like you to know about me.
5. I have a good heart.
6. Rootbeer floats are yummy (although I haven’t had one in years!).
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to kicking back with a DVD, tomorrow my plans include laundry (bleah) and Sunday, I want to relax and enjoy the fall weather!

You can find links to more Friday Fill-In posts here.

It’s All About the Books

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I saw this post a couple of weeks ago over at Life After College (followed a BlogHer link!) and have wanted to do this meme-ish thing but have had trouble finding the time. (What a surprise…ahem.)

I wish I could find more information about the source of this list, but I poked around both websites Amy linked to and can’t figure out exactly where the list originated. I still think it’s cool though. Here’s what Amy had to say:

The Big Read is an NEA program designed to encourage community reading initiatives. Of their top 100 books, they estimate the average adult has read only six.

The idea is to mark in bold the ones you’ve read. I was a bit appalled at myself that I haven’t read more of them! I really expected to have read at least half of them and it’s more like 1/4 - a lot more than the six they’re calling the national average, but still, I expected to do better!!!

Of course, a few of these are things I have no interest in reading - don’t care if someone calls them a classic. A few more I feel like I’ve read because I’ve heard so much about them and/or seen one or move movies made of the story, but in wracking my brain (ouch!) I don’t think I’ve ever actually read them. I’ve italicized those. Some of these are ones I should try. When I have time. Heh.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman (I’ve tried to get through this but didn’t like it….might try again at some point
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (nope, not ALL of them!)
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

So there’s my list. How many have you read?

Haunted How-to….sort of

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Thank for the nice comments yesterday, everyone! :-)

Several of you asked how I created the card. I wish I had time to create a full-out tutorial with pics, but I just don’t right now. I’ll try to tell you a little about what I did though. As you could figure, it was made using Photoshop (actually Photoshop Elements) layers and filters.

On the original bridge photo, the first thing I did was to use the spot healing tool and cloning tool to get rid of any elements I didn’t want, like the flower pot, the tourism sign on the bridge, and the electrical poles.

I looked through some old photos and found some old moon shots and chose a new sky.

I made myself a blank canvas to layer everything on and put the new sky down first. Then I made a copy of the bridge photo to play with (so I’d have one in the original colors to go back to without having to undo a bunch of steps if I needed it) and used filters to remove some of the color and crank up the contrast and give it a blue cast to try and make it look like a brightly moonlit night. Then I used the selection tool to select all the photo except the sky and moved it over to the new canvas where the new sky was waiting.

Finally I needed a ghost. I didn’t have a photo that was suitable, so I did an image search until I found something I thought would work. Unfortunately, she wasn’t a full figure, so I had to use the cloning tool to extend both her head and her skirt. Heh. Then I played with the colors in much the same way I did with the bridge photo, then finally used the selection tool to isolate her, move her over to the new composition, and then used the opacity tool to make her semi-transparent.

That was pretty much it! Signed it, flattened the layers and saved it. :-)

I hope that makes some kind of sense without photos to go along with it. Glad y’all enjoyed the card and the story!

Just Another Haunted Monday

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A few days ago (and no, I’m not going to try to find it and link to it because I don’t have time!) I promised you I’d share with you the artsy-ish thing I was working on last week, so today’s the day.

Some of you who’ve been reading a while might remember that I sometimes do art card swaps with a group I belong to and one of my favorite swaps they do each year (one I always sign up for!) is their Autumn swap, which is usually slanted towards being Halloween-ish. This year the theme is Haunted Objects. Every swapper creates an art card of some sort and a story card to go along with it.

It’s only just now coming due, so it’ll be a little while before I see what everyone else did, but I thought I’d share with you what I sent off. Here’s the photo I started with.

not a haunted bridge

Not too scary, right? I took this pic a couple of weeks ago at one of the covered bridges a few miles from where I live. But I decided maybe it could be scary if it was haunted, so I gave it a ghost! :-)

Here’s the card I created from the photo:

haunted bridge card

and the little story I made up to go along with it:

haunted bridge story

Want to go for a walk in the moonlight? ;-)

When Technology Lets You Down

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Ok, it must be admitted, this tale of woe is probably at least partly my own fault.

I’d noticed that my beloved DVR had been acting a little wonky lately, with odd seconds of pixelated or blank spots showing up randomly here and there in recorded shows, like during Lance and Lacey’s Not-Quite-A-Paso-Doble-But-I-Liked-It on Dancing with the Stars (and isn’t “I Kissed a Girl” one if the most insidious earworms EVER??? If I hear it once, it’s in my head for WEEKS! But I digress….). When that would happen I’d think to myself, “Self, you should call the Dish Network people and have someone take a look at your receiver/recorder, because something is not right here.” But did I do it? Noooooooooo.

So then last night I come home from work. J is out of town, so I decide I’m going to wallow in front of the TeeeeVeeee for a couple of hours, watching stuff I know he’d hate. I turn it on and instead of seeing the talking, moving people in my little idiot box, I see a message that my hard drive is corrupted and they will now be deleting all recorded content - so sorry for the inconvenience, SUCKA!

I then sat there and watched in mute and thoroughly pissed off impotence as around 50 hours of movies and TV episodes (including several first and/or second episodes of favorite shows for this current season - things I’d been saving up to watch this weekend!) disappeared into wherever it is that Bad Little Pixels go.

So much for the opening episodes of Ugly Betty and Gray’s Anatomy. Bye-bye episodes 1 & 2 of this season’s Heroes and How I Met Your Mother. Hasta la vista various episodes of other ongoing shows and several Masterpiece series! TaTa classic movies recorded from AMC during the hours when I’m normally sound asleep and newer movies from when I had my free trial of Showtime.

I know I could probably find some of these online, but at this point I feel like why bother. I feel like maybe this was God’s way of telling me I watch too damn much TV. (Except, you know, that if it is actually God telling me, S/He probably wouldn’t say “damn.”)

So instead of calling the Dish people, I am going shoe shopping to see if I can find a couple of pairs of comfortable and stylish-yet-affordable shoes for work. The Technology Developers have let me down, so Shoe Designers, it is up to you! Don’t make me rant about you!!

Friday Fill-In #92

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Before I start filling in, I wanted to give any of you who enjoy writing a heads up to check out Wordsmiths Unlimited, where the challenge this month is to write a story inspired by one of my photos. Cool, yes? I’m looking forward to seeing what people I don’t know see when they look at it.

Friday Fill-InNow on to the fill-in. As always, my answers are in bold.

1. October is one of my favorite months.
2. Fanatics scare me!
3. Leaves are falling all around, it’s crunchy and pretty!
4. My favorite horror movie is one that hasn’t been made yet because I really dislike horror movies.
5. Good friends = good memories.
6. It was a dark and stormy night somewhere else. We haven’t had enough rain here lately for it to be stormy, only dark.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to kicking back with a good book, tomorrow my plans include shoe shopping and Sunday, I want to clean up my sty of a house, but I also want to relax and be lazy. We’ll see which impulse wins out!

You can find more Fab Friday Fill-Ins here.

PS…I did something artsy-ish this week and I really like how it turned out and want to share, but haven’t had time to edit or upload photos, never mind write a post about it! Bah! I’ll try to get it done this weekend.