Monday Musings and Some Fast Flight Ideas to Make Your Week

Monday Musings and Some Fast Flight Ideas to Make Your Week

I don’t’ know about you, but I feel like I’m drowning in projects. It is really exciting to be working on new things, but do you ever feel like you’re in total overload? It certainly makes Monday harder to face.

Last night as the last few hours of the weekend ticked away, I could sense the “in over my head” feeling starting to creep up on me. Instead of heading out for ice cream with 1,000 calories worth of toppings, I decided the healthy option would be to pull together all of the material I’d collected for a project that is stepping off and  get the ideas that were running around in my head on to paper. That way, Monday would start off with doing rather than searching, and clear direction that would help me avoid a morning of fighting procrastination.

Mondays are still a drag but some advance organizing with two amazing tools I just started using have made a world of difference.

The first is Pocket, which is an organizing app that lets you save and organize material from the Internet. With Pocket you can create a permanent, searchable library of websites, articles, even videos without the frustration of a huge list of bookmarks. Why had I never used this before?! Free version will get you started. 

The second sanity-saving tool I am loving these days is SimpleMind which organizes your brainstorming into a Mind Map. It works for almost anything so it is a great tool not only for organizing ideas but it works well for creating visual study guides, to do lists, organizational charts and project timelines. You can add links, images, notes etc right onto your diagram which happily you can start from one of templates offered. Nirvana for visual learners and listmakers.

P.S.  Lest you think I toiled away the weekend working, one of the things I saved to Pocket was a list I stumbled on entitled “50 of the Best Indie Movies Of All Time” where I found a treasure trove of films I remember hearing about but didn’t ever see. Started with #33 The Station Agent. Have you seen it?

Fast Flight Friday: April 9, 2021

Fast Flight Friday: April 9, 2021

How was your week? Plans for the weekend?

I have a new puppy so the “fringe time” I used to enjoy, especially early in the morning, has evaporated. Completely love the little guy, but he has turned my days upside down! 

As puppy is working on growing up (with the help of my constant reminders about how to do that) the thing I am missing most is time to read. I can get a few pages in here or there but the days of being able to slip 30 minutes of uninterrupted book time (aka self care) into the day are on hold. 

As I sit here at my computer I can see a stack of brand new books on the corner of my desk. Their brightly colored dust jackets and the promise of what’s inside are making it a little hard to focus. 

I’ll give you a quick tour in case you’re looking forward to a new read, too. 

Come Fly The World. The Jet-Age Story of the Women of Pan Am by Julia Cooke. The inside of the dust jacket says, “Glamour, Danger, Liberation.” I’m in. 

The Nearest Far Away Place by Hayley Long. “A story of grief, hope and brotherhood.” It is set in Wales where my family is from. Note to buy Kleenex before settling in with this one.

The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley.  This one isn’t the type of book I usually pick up but the promise of humor, getting my heart warmed and feeling uplifted through a story about being brave and putting your real self forward seemed like a good read right about now. 

Robert E. Lee and Me: A Southerner’s Reckoning with the Myth of the Lost Cause, by Ty Seidule. This book kept turning up on lists I subscribe to and in groups I belong to. It feels particularly timely to me and I’m looking forward expanding my perspective and understanding.

The Stars and How to See Them, H.A. Rey. This is the newest addition to the stack and it is on the top! H.A. Rey isn’t an astronomer or scientist. He’s the illustrator of the iconic and well-loved Curious George series. Rey was a life-long amateur astronomer and in the 1950s he began experimenting with simplified methods to learn the constellations. He substituted traditional representations of constellations with diagrams he felt more closely depicted their names. The evenings will soon be warmer and I’ll be ready!

I’m off – my little terror angel has awakened from his nap. Have a wonderful weekend.

 

Julie

Fast Flight Friday – April 2, 2021

Fast Flight Friday – April 2, 2021

The first three months of 2021 have just flown by and it is kind of astounding that this is Easter weekend! I adore everything about this spring holiday and have such fond memories of dying eggs, hunting the yard for the jelly-bean filled eggs my Mom had hidden, stuffed bunnies, and chocolate everything.

One thing we didn’t regularly have was Peeps. I don’t know if they weren’t available in the small town I grew up in or if my mom just never got into them. But once I discovered the Peep, it was love. I’m a fan of the Peep-tini, Peep S’mores and putting them on top of cupcakes and desserts.  But the thing I love most are the incredible dioramas and sculptures that people far more creative than I make with them.  Never fails to make me laugh and it’s a highlight of the season.

Happy Easter to you and yours. The links below will lead you to some laughs of your own.

The Official Peeps website featuring this year’s Peepsonality contest. https://www.peepsbrand.com/art-diorama-contests/

Next you’ll find a truly fabulous geeky collection of creations with a science theme – gathered under the hashtag, #peepyourscience. https://www.theopennotebook.com/peeps/

And if you’re inspired, check out this site for Peep-y science experiments. https://www.sciencebuddies.org/blog/science-activities-peeps

 

Julie

Fast Flight Friday: March 26, 2021

Fast Flight Friday: March 26, 2021

It’s been a long time since my adult responsibilities were such that I could run away for Spring Break. But being around students and working with schools keeps me in tune with the rhythm of the school year and I still yearn for the days when a week off was something more than a week filled with things there wasn’t normally time for. 

Maybe next year when we can travel again, I’ll try to reclaim Spring Break, but for now here are a few sites I’m relying on for my mid-semester get away.

Radio Garden is a website (and there is a mobile app) that allows users to tune in to live radio around the world. Spin the 3-D globe, click on a glowing green dot representing a city or town and choose a radio station.  This might be the first time I’ve heard accordion music on the radio and it was actually sort of fun. 

 MapCrunch lets you browse random images of the world via Google Street View. You can generally select a country or the site generates images of the day from a variety of places. I’ve just returned from a 20 minute trip to Ireland and then I hopped over to Iceland for a bit. 

Because I love museums, my break ended with some time at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.  Always something to discover there. 

What I love about sites like these is that they can be cultural/educational or they can just be fun (possibly both) and enjoyed as a quick 20 minute break or with the family or even a friend night on Zoom. 

Happy Travels,

 

Julie

Fast Flight Friday: March 19, 2021

Fast Flight Friday: March 19, 2021

Even with the first signs of spring and the improving outlook now that the COVID-19 vaccines are being distributed I’m still feeling a bit stressed. I think it might be because we still don’t quite know when concerts, brunch dates with friends, or going out to the movies can begin again. Are you still feeling it, too? 

Today I’m sharing a couple of tools that are helping me “over the hump” these days starting with A Soft Murmur https://asoftmurmur.com/ It’s basically a white sound machine that you can customize on the website and, download as an app for both IOS and Android. Five soothing sounds  and you’re back to zen. 

To be honest, I don’t cook often (or all that well) but I haven’t given up yet. Definitely bookmarking https://myfridgefood.com/ in case pizza delivery is ever suspended. Click on all of the ingredients that you have in your fridge and pantry and the site will kick back a group of recipes you are all set to make. Kind of fun even if you don’t plan on preparing anything.

This one is an all-time favorite for stress relief and, for getting things out of my system before they turn into an email. https://screamintothevoid.com/ is simple and brilliant. Just type in whatever is making you want to scream, click on scream and let it go!

Have a great weekend,

 

Julie

Thank You Notes I Should Have Written

Thank You Notes I Should Have Written

A couple of days ago, the guy who invented the cassette tape died. Lou Ottens. 

If you are reading this and are not sure what a cassette tape is you have a piece of history to learn.   

Still, I’m likely revealing my age here when I say that the mix tape was one of the most important parts of my adolescent life; all the love, joy, tragic break-ups, parent-child discord and just plain survival of the teen experience.  On behalf of my teen generation, I hope Lou was fairly compensated for this brilliant invention. I wish he knew how much I appreciated it.

That got me thinking – put me into what buzzword types like to say, a gratitude mindset so I decided to start a list of people who deserved a thank you note for their contributions to the making the ordinary parts of life a little less so. I’ll share a few. 

It’s presently March, the holy month of the Girl Scout cookie, so I will add Florence E. Neal to my list. In 1922 Miss Neil, a scout leader from the Chicago area, loaned her cookie recipe to the council’s 2,000 Girl Scouts. She estimated the approximate cost of ingredients for six- to seven-dozen cookies to be 26 to 36 cents. The cookies, she suggested, could be sold by troops for 25 or 30 cents per dozen. Florence, I’m eating some Thin Mints right now and praising your name. For 99 years, your entrepreneurial spirit has made the first sign of spring a cookie.

From my brief research, no one person invented movies. The Kinetoscope, invented by the Edison Company in 1891, was a starting place for enabling viewing of moving pictures. But the thank you note for all of those inspiring, scary, funny (and completely trouble-free) hours in the dark goes to the Lumière brothers who first presented projected moving pictures to a paying audience. 

The next time you fill a tall glass with ice and pour tea into it, give a shout to John Gorrie who invented it in 1844. Gorrie, an American physician, built a refrigerator to cool the air for his yellow fever patients. The contraption made ice which he then hung from the ceiling in a basin. Some historians think that Dr. Gorrie may have also invented the first ice cube tray since it was documented that his patients were also receiving iced drinks. This of course led to the on-the-rocks margarita, the frozen daiquiri and other miracles of chemistry. Brilliant.   

I’ve been working on a school project in Ecuador that is helping rural schools get working restrooms and handwashing facilities. Then we’ll study how this changes educational outcomes. Can you imagine spending an entire day at school without a sanitary, private restroom and trying to focus on learning?  I wish I could send a thank you note to the taxpayers that funded the beautiful school buildings that welcomed me and my fellow students through their sturdy doors and the custodians who made sure we had a clean, polished and welcoming place to learn. 

Who is on your list of Thank You notes you should have written? 

 Now, go fly.

 

Julie