I’m holed up in my fancy hotel, cramming for my presentation tomorrow. All of the work has been done, now it’s all about finesse and timing.

I get really nervous speaking to peers. Someone in the audience probably knows more about my subject than I do. Middle school taunts loom large in the back of my brain. It’s not logical, it’s just there.

So I’ve been working on it. I’ve signed up to talk about our new Service Learning model to the library world at large. I spoke at the Young Adult Services conference in November and will be speaking at the Washington Library Association Conference tomorrow.

I’ve made some realizations. Having a partner is key. One person droning on is never as exciting as two. It takes the pressure of all of those eyes off of me to have another person up there and allows me to take a breath when I need one.

I deliberately procrastinate on practicing my slides until within a day of my presentation. It keeps me from getting nervous leading up and keeps everything fresh in my mind, what I want to say and how I want to say it. Why torture myself sooner than necessary? The trick is to make sure to leave time in what can be a busy conference schedule to practice on my own, and then at least go over timing with my partner.

Having really wonderful friends doesn’t hurt either. I’ve had support from several people who have helped me see past my boogie men to the heart of the matter, and offered to be there for me at my presentation to cheer me on.

The presentation in November went great. I won’t pretend that I am suddenly a rock star–I have coworkers who provide celebrity grade performances when on stage; I don’t have that skill and I probably never will. Part of getting over my anxiety is letting things like that go. However, if my subject is interesting and I can present on it in a steady and interesting way, I’ll be happy.

Meanwhile, I’ll keep practicing in this luxurious cage.

davenport

Like many libraries, ours has been shifting attention to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), with a bit of art thrown in for fun and creativity (STEAM). We hired Juan Rubio about a year ago to join our Youth and Family Learning team. He is amazing and procures cool gadgets and funding for work hours to cover us learning about the cool gadgets. A few of the things he’s brought us are Geolocative Games, 3D Printing Programming, Little Bits, and Finch Robots.

So far I’ve had training on the Finch robots. We use Samsung Chromebooks with the Snap Extension. You can use the Snap without the Finch and program a Sprite to move around, so it’s worth checking out if you are interested in really basic programming. There are 4 levels of difficulty in Snap, which is useful in teaching. The picture below is level 3, which I find to have the most functionality and easier to use than level 4.

Screenshot 2016-04-20 at 9.08.26 PM

Here’s where I warn you that I have no background in programming aside from a little HTML, CSS and XML. I do understand that the Snap commands represent a more complicated coding language underneath. I’ve even learned how to have the program show some of that language, but I don’t know what it means.

You can still teach Snap/Finches without knowing coding languages. It’s mostly logic once you get the hang of where everything is. You need a Control and a motion command in order to make the Finch do something. You can add operators and sensors and use variables to do more complicated sequences, as you can see above.

Some things were frustrating for me and the students. The Finches didn’t always behave as they should, even when the program was perfect. Sometimes the problem was that a student would have 2 or more programs running at once and they would interfere with each other. Other times the traction on the floor or table wasn’t good for the Finch’s wheels. Sometimes it just didn’t do what you told it to. Especially when it came to the sensors. I was able to turn this into a learning experience where we tried many different things to get the Finch to do what we wanted, trying different inputs and environments. The students learned that sometimes the environment is going to get in the way of what you want to happen.

I’ve had 2 groups of students so far. I do outreach at a local family housing community center, where families are transitioning out of homelessness. It’s long term housing, so they’re fairly stable, at least in having a place to live. The teens that I work with there are mostly girls from ages 11-14. For these classes, I went once a week for 3 weeks and had an hour each time. An hour was not enough and the teens have a lot of things on their plates, but we had a good time and they learned a lot. We’ll have our party in early May and students will be challenged to make their Finches dance, make music and do a light show.

outreach

The other program I’ve had was at our branch over Spring Break. It was 3 days long with a party at the end of the 3rd day where they showed off the tricks they’d learned. This group was mostly boys, ages 8-12. They’d all had Scratch before, so understood most of the Snap programming basics. I had to modify the first few curriculum for them, then move quickly to the more advanced workshops.

My next training will be on the Geolocative Games. With that, we’ll create a game that is a digital scavenger hunt. There are a lot of ways to make this game beneficial to the community. One of my colleagues did a project with her service learning group where they researched the history of their neighborhood, then put locations named after iconic people into their game, with information to teach the gamer about the history.

It was a really fun and sometimes frustrating experience. Totally worthwhile. I wouldn’t have been as successful if I hadn’t had a very wonderful coworker at my branch who could help me with the more technical stuff. He is also a very patient and intuitive teacher and I learned a lot having him there to help with the outreach programs.

 

I had the weirdest dream last night. I don’t remember all of it, but I was on a supported ride, and I was riding alone. There was someone I was competing with, who was fairly evenly matched with me. We were racing along, taking turns at the front. At some point I lost him. Then I lost the ride itself. I ended up in sand. It was bright and sunny and I could see everyone up above, on a pathway that was paved and I was riding in sand along the bottom of a cliff.

I felt something go wonky with my bike, so I looked down. Suddenly parts of my bike were gone. The front wheel, my handlebars. I was left holding the stem. I didn’t crash, but I lost momentum and set her down gently. Suddenly I was in an urban area, climbing around an industrial building. I found a Mad Max style bike shop, thinking I could bring the parts of my bike there to get it fixed. I had to hurry though, I was loosing my nemesis.

no_handlebars_by_theacidreign

Then I woke up.

I was so invigorated after riding in the Emerald City Ride (a 20 mile course across the new 520 bridge, up the express lanes of I-5 then along the west side of the Lake Washington loop) that I signed up for Flying Wheels century in June. Below is most of my Wooleaters group on the Emerald City Ride. We’re standing on the new 520 Bridge. I’m holding my shoe, as I’ve just figured out that my cleat is horribly loose.

wooleaters

I’ve ridden Flying Wheels twice before, both times with very little training. It hurts to ride like that, but not for very long, which is probably why I haven’t learned my lesson. This year, I’m going to try training though. A friend of mine reminds me that I need to do it every week, so I’m more likely to get out there and ride the distance.

I’m not in bad shape for it anyway. I ride around 100 miles a week with my regular commute and errands, then I sometimes pick up a 40 mile ride with friends on my Friday off. I know I can do better, though, and I recently hurt my knee. It doesn’t hurt when I ride, just when I run and sit around too much. I guess that tells me what I need to know.

img_0740-x2

Above: I was looking for a good picture from the 2015 Gallery that Woodinville Bicycle took, but this is what caught my eye. You’re welcome. In his defense, there were some intense hills.

Last week I did a 55 mile ride with a Wooleater friend. We meant to do 40 miles, but missed a turn. It turned out fine and was actually closer to what our goal should have been anyhow.

Chris and I are going to ride to Vashon tomorrow to meet some boating friends who have been sailing the South Sound for the last week. It’s a 28 mile ride, and while I should be doing twice that for my training, I’ll be fine with that. Sailing with friends is worth it. So I guess what I’m saying is, I’m training when it fits, and otherwise I’m getting miles where I can.

I’m just returning to the boat after a week house sitting for friends. I missed it!

Today was Race Your House, where liveaboards race the sailboats they live on. They can bring crew along and claim handicaps and Raven got the highest handicap of them all–250. I have no idea what that means, except that we are slow.

We started out okay. We got our sails up and started making the calculated tacks and jibes that keep you close to the starting point. Those soon went awry as the wind failed to keep us going fast enough to finish our tacks and jibing around would cost us too much distance. Finally we went towards the breakwater too long trying to get up speed and ended up having to turn on the engine in order to not hit the rocks. Beep! we hear our starting horn and boom: we’re disqualified for having our engine running after the start horn.

We contemplated doing the race anyway, but decided that trying to get around the committee boat was going to keep posing a problem. We decided to go ahead and sail along the route and watch, turning back when we got close to Bainbridge Island. It was a very slow, straight sail. We chatted, ate and told stories, then we jibed for the return. It was uneventful, but fun and chill. Raven will not be participating in Race Your House next year, but maybe we can crew on someone else’s house.

Click on the photo to see more pics of the event.

…bikes? Vacations? Gummy bears?

I know most of my bikey friends are all about the n+1, but after a round of “fix all the things!” and bike shopping and frustration, I decided to upgrade my Surly Pacer and sell Lucille, the Bike Friday Tikit.

Lucille went home with a very nice man from Tacoma, whom I hope will find her quite trustworthy, especially with all her new components. I know that my mechanic will be happy to know she’s moved far away. He always did a wonderful job repairing her, but she was a pain in the ass.

My Surly Pacer–I’m thinking about naming her Dark Star after the Fremont Brewing’s Imperial Oatmeal Stout, which is my favorite winter beer. “Dark Star crashes, pouring its light into ashes, so follow as the Lady of Velvet recedes in the nights of goodbye. This one is too smooth …”–is all fixed up with new wheels, cassette and chain, bar end shifters, brake levers, front deraileur, fairly new chainrings and got herself a nice tune up. The gearing is the major improvement with an 11/30 instead of a 12/25. I was able to ride the way it was, but now I’m not sure why I did for so long. It’s like having a whole new bike.

I also cleaned the frame up and used some rustoleum spray paint to protect it. She is so pretty.

We took a 2 week sail in early July. It was a lot of fun with stops in Victoria Canada, Sidney Island, Jones Island, Friday Harbor, Lopez Island, Sucia, and Port Townsend. Lopez was really great and flat, allowing us to bike all over with the kids, visiting the farmers market, the grocery, and the bird sanctuary with them. Click on the picture to see more sailing photos.

And this last weekend, Chris and I went bike camping. We rode out separately, since I was off on Thursday and he came out on Friday night. We rode back together on Sunday. The rest of my family, whom we met there, drove and I still kick myself for not taking a picture of my bike among all of those cars. Again, click on the photo for more pictures of that adventure.

Right now I’m procrastinating on the final packing for our cruise to Alaska. This is on an actual cruise ship, not on Raven. I’m going to miss our hobbit hole. It might be time for a nap.

This morning I sat down to finally chronicle our two week sailing excursion to Canada and the San Juan Islands. But…my computer was freezing and being annoying. This has been happening a lot over the last few weeks. So, I restarted again and limped online and bought a Toshiba 13″ Chromebook which will be here tomorrow.

And now my computer is working beautifully. It has something to do with Windows Updates, and possibly a bad hard disk. I think I forstalled the problem my manually stopping the updates from processing, but that will only last so long.

I still want to post on sailing, but I’ll do that another day when I’m feeling it a bit more. In the mean time, I’m thinking about saying goodbye to Lucille. I put her on CL today for $900. We’ll see what happens.

Raven was hauled out this last weekend, so Chris and I stayed in an Air BnB in a nearby neighborhood. It was nice to have a shower close at hand, but the bed was a bit small for the two of us.

Raven now has shiny new bottom paint and Chris was able to get a few other chores done that work best when out of water–sinking the depth sounder in the hull being one of those. Here’s a video about some of the work he did:

I finally got the ripped or degraded sections of the bright work covers mended. I ended up doing them by hand, as it was all a little too tough for my machine.

Chris was able to get out for a sail on Tuesday, while I was at work. It was a beautiful day with just the right amount of wind.

 

We are now back aboard and happier for it. We’re heading off on a trip to Mystery Bay for the long weekend. The kids have been doing a lot of practicing on the PFDs and kayaks after school and on the weekends, so they’re ready to have some fun.

Life sometimes gets away from me. Early in April, my grandmother went to the hospital and then passed away, all in the span of 2 weeks. Then there were the arrangements and the memorial. There’s more, but not for me to worry about, since I’m not named in the will. Some will find this odd, but I’m glad I’m not. I loved my grandmother dearly and I don’t really want to be involved in the dismantling of her life and her home.

When she was young.

The view I will always remember

Since then, I’ve been buried in work, helping plan out trainings for my peers that  will pave the way for Teen Service Learning in our library system. It’s ambitious and I’m excited to see how it will work out for us and our teen patrons.

Chris has been working on Raven’s diesel motor for the last month as well. That day that we were supposed to have our second sailing adventure, I had to bail to go tothe hospital. He went out with our friends and the motor stalled. They still got out for a little while, but it was the start of quite a few problems–more going wrong with each thing fixed. It’s ending up being almost a complete overhaul, but hopefully when that’s done we’ll be underway once again. I’m not sure we’re going to make our Mystery Bay plans for Memorial Day weekend.

She did serve as a great place to have a party. Yesterday was completely gorgeous. I couldn’t have planned better for our Bike to Work team BBQ. We combined with the other SPL team and had around 25 people on Raven to celebrate.

There were more people below deck!

This is my third year being team captain and it’s really fun to motivate people to ride. And now I’m looking forward to our next party.

Here’s the bike when I went to pick up swag for my team.

Tonight we’ll be breaking out the bbq things again to celebrate The Boy’s 21st birthday. Hard to believe.

It’s been a little while since I’ve updated. There’s been plenty going on, both with the boat and in life in general and some of it was getting in the way of little things like updating the blog.

One thing we’ve been battling this winter/fall is humidity. We run a dehumidifier that does a great job of sucking water out of the air and clearing the windows.

Windows usually look like this in the morning in our stateroom.

Water still gets into out of the way places, like the storage space under our bed or under the spaces where we keep our clothes. So far nothing has molded too bad, except the straps on our travel bags.

To battle this, we use a mold and mildew cleaner that’s fairly safe and have added those annoying buckets of pellets that trap water. To keep our mattresses safe, Chris got us some Hypervent to go under the mattresses (prickly side up) and that has the added benefit of holding our sheets in place.

Non-sliding sheets make me happier than you can ever know. I also got us a mattress cover that zips around the mattress and holds the memory foam topper we have in place. We are sooo snug now.

It’s April, time for #30daysofbiking, which some people like and others don’t, both for good reasons. I signed up because I like giving kids free bikes for something I’d be doing anyway. I’ve biked each day so far (3 whole days!), but days off from work are really the test. Here’s a pic from yesterday when I rode through Maple Leaf Park on my way to work.

No water in that picture! Yet…

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