The Hall Family


Blog #13



When January Temperatures Reach 50 Degrees...






   It was a beautiful day today; Joan did some yard work, and I went kayaking.  Much of Mogadore Reservoir was covered with a thin layer of ice.  It slowed me down a bit but I was able to slice through it.  It ranged from about 1/8th inch thick, wet and cracked to about 3/8 inch thick and fairly firm.  The thick stuff was only in the shaded areas.  On the harder ice my boat actually would rise up a couple of inches on top of the ice and then crush down every few seconds.  The challenge was getting my paddle to bite the ice; a normal stroke would just scratch the surface.  I had to slam my blades down onto the ice to get them to chop into the surface enough to get a grip.  I saw an interesting phenomenon; pack ice on a micro scale.  The wind was blowing the ice against and island shore and it was actually piling up.  It made an incredible crinkling sound and gave some little trees a hard time; I saw some peeled bark where the ice had repeatedly scraped.  I took some movie clips of the trip with the Canon camera stuffed into the V on my lifejacket (under my under my chin). Check it out on the Movie page.  I thought I'd include a map of Mogadore Reservoir today since I write about it so much. 


   Annika tried out the swing outside for the first time today; she had a blast.  I was up until 3:00 a.m. last night rebuilding IHM NET.  IHM NET is the main part of my school Intranet website that contains all of my lessons.  I've been letting lessons, guides and rubrics pile up for years; about 300 megabytes worth.  I've been meaning to rebuild it for the past year because it's become a bit confusing.  Many of my rubrics were obsolete (a rubric is basically a description of what students need to include in order to complete a project).  I deleted about half of them.  I also created sub folders for basic topics or programs (MS Word, picture editing, etc.).  I did the same with my lessons folder.  The problem now is that most of the hyperlinks need to be redirected and there are a few hundred.  I'm working on a copy of it that I have at home, so it's not critical that I finish it this weekend.  When I start something, however, I often keep at it till its done, or I drop.


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Blog #12






We just love the new Nikon.  The picture above is cropped and resized.

The one below is cropped and actual size.



   The Nikon also takes phenomenal movies; even better than I expected.  Not only are they 640x480, but they are sharp and have great color.  The problem is that they are in QuickTime format and I can't edit them yet.


   I went kayaking again today.  It was very winding and snowing lightly.  Into the wind I had water breaking over the bow and even washing into the hole a bit; I should have brought the spray skirt.  On the way back the wind gave me a pretty good push.  The swells were noticeable and I was sort of surfing, wind aided, but surfing with the waves.  When I'd get into a trough my entire bow would be submerged in the forward wave and that slowed the boat down somewhat.  Although I was clipping along, the waves limited my top speed.  I knew that I'd run into the pair of swans that I passed upwind, so I pulled out the old Canon and and took a movie as I approached and passed them.  For not paddling, I was moving along fairly well.  Check it out on the Movie page.


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Blog #11



Lego Girls



   Svea got sick at school today and earned a couple of days off; I wish it were that easy for me.  Brigitta was sick on Sunday morning.  We think that Svea and Brigitta have been passing the same stomach virus back and forth for the past two weeks.  I've been tracking my camera's progress on the UPS tracking page; its only 26 miles away!


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Blog #10



Father-Grandfather Night at Brigitta's Preschool



   Bill and I attended Father-Grandfather Night at Brigitta's preschool on Thursday night.  The theme was dinosaurs and they sang about eight dinosaur songs.  She was very exited to perform and with her great memory did a wonderful job. Britta is pictured above between her friends Parker (Hear-No-Evil) and Owen (Speak-No-Evil).




    I went kayaking today.  The last time I kayaked in the month of January was in 1995 when I lived in Hawaii.  There wasn't a crystal of ice on Mogadore Reservoir.  We are on track for setting an all time high average temperature for the month of January.  Lake Erie has actually warmed up a degree this month.  I'm sort of kicking myself that I haven't been out on the lake in over two months.  Local lakes froze in November, but they have been thawed for the past few weeks.  I think that my outdoors mind has been waiting for snow.  I saw several Geese, two ducks and one swan.


   Part of the reason why I haven't updated this blog or the site lately is that I have been swamped with grading for the last three weeks.  My eighth grade students wrote 500 word webpage reports about school events.  The seventh grade wrote 500 word wartime biographies about family members who were veterans of any war.  They really did a fantastic job; probably the best work I have ever seen on any project, from any class.  My sixth graders wrote 500 word biographies about one of their grandparents.  Out of 117 students, only four did not make the 500 word minimum.  Many students wrote over 1,000 words and one broke 3,000.  I just finished grading the last report and am quite relieved.  One of my seventh grade students will be reading her report at the World War II – Korean War Roundtable this coming Thursday.  Two more students will be reading their reports at the February meeting.  I'm also very excited that Bill will be the main speaker at the March or April meeting.  I'm going to scan a number of pictures and make a PowerPoint presentation to go along with his talk.  A few previous speakers have had traditional slideshows accompany their talks, but I think that this will be the first PowerPoint.


   The other thing that has been occupying my spare time has been camera shopping.  In December I got the bug to replace our 14 year old analog Handycam.  I studied what is available and was not terribly impressed.  Most consumer models range from $200 to $1,000, yet their image size is only 320 by 240 pixels at 30 frames a second.  (Less than 1/3 of a typical computer monitor screen width.)  My school owns a new Canon MiniDV camcorder; I played around with it and confirmed my disappointment.  My little pocket sized Canon S400 also takes 320 by 240 images, but at 15 frames a second.  (Most of the movies on our Movie page were taken with our S400.)  Many decent digital still cameras are capable of taking 640 by 480m at 30 FPS.  They consume memory quite fast, but memory cards are becoming cheaper every few months and the still camera can also shoot at 320 by 240 mode to conserve memory card space.  The real advantages of the camcorders is that they can record for an entire hour, have a greater zoom range and cheaper memory (which only matters if you are away from a PC that you can download to).  I think a decent still camera will serve as a better camcorder than a purpose built camcorder.  I've also been wanting a still digital camera that offers the same manual control that I had over my old 35mm film cameras that I used in my college days.  I considered getting a digital SLR camera.  They really have all of the control of a 35mm film camera with almost no shutter delay and can take a variety of lenses, but none have movie modes.  I also just couldn't bring myself to spend a grand on a camera.  The problem with non-SLR digital cameras is that the widest angle that can be achieved is around 35-37mm equivalency.  I've always swayed toward the advantages of wide angle lenses and consider a wide maximum width an essential attribute in a camera.

   A handful of digital cameras offer 28mm equivalency; only one offers 24mm equivalency: the Nikon Coolpix 8400.  The 8400 can also accept an optional Nikon fisheye lens and has a time lapse movie mode.  It's a niche camera and is relatively rare and hard to find.  Once I decided on the Nikon it took quite a bit of research to find it at a decent price from a reliable source.  (By the way, NEVER order a camera out of NYC; my research found that the odds of getting ripped off are very high.  Here's one example.)  Anyway, I bought a new one on Ebay from a reputable camera store in Texas for less than half of its MSRP.  Its on its way by UPS ground and I'm looking forward to experimenting with it; I think I'll even be able to make simple real life animations with it as well reproduce some of my old college still tricks.  Its not a little front pants pocket camera like the S400, but its much smaller than a SLR.   


   If anyone is still reading this and wants my recommendation on a ideal general purpose digital camera, I recommend the Canon S80, SD400 and SD500.  The S80 is a bit big for a pocket, but sounds reliable, versatile, takes great pictures, movies and has outstanding reviews.  The SD400 and SD500 are also great and are pocket size; this is critical because it means that you are much more likely to take it with you.  The best camera in the world will do you no good if its at home and you are not.  These two cameras also have great movie modes.  The one drawback to these two cameras, however, is that there have been reports of LCD screens cracking.


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Blog #9



We Have Teeth!




   Finally, Annika has sprouted teeth.  We were beginning to wonder if she was slated to eat soft food indefinitely, but a few days ago, we found not one, but two teeth coming through.  She has been a good sport through this experience - not too grumpy.  She is still happier standing up than sitting down, and will grunt and push on you until you help her up.


   Brigitta and Svea each missed school on Tuesday with a stomach virus.  Brigitta woke up sick at 4 am and Svea had to be picked up from school at 8 am.  Svea has been fine since, but Britta was sick again on Friday morning and Friday night.  It is strange, when she is not physically ill, she is laughing, or dancing or goofing around.  We hope she doesn't require a trip to the doctor.


   David's big news is he is now a "co-ed" - again!  He has decided to finish his MEd degree.  He needs only two classes - Research Project and Thesis.  Both of these classes he will take at Regis University in Denver, where he had begun his degree.  Thankfully, these classes can be taken as long distance learning.  It might be fun to go out there for graduation, though.



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Blog #8



Happy Svea Day!



(click to play movies)


   We just celebrated Svea's nameday.  Namedays are a Swedish custom tied to Catholicism and saint days.  Almost all days of the year have a girl's name and/or a boy's name associated with them to be celebrated similar to birthdays.  "Nyårsdagen" or New Year's Day is one of the few excluded days.  Svea, meaning Sweden, has the honor of being the first nameday of the new year.  Britta, and all derivatives such as Brigitta, celebrate their nameday on October 7th.  Annika's nameday is April 21st.  Joan and I have reasoned that since we have adopted Swedish names for our children, it would be fun to adopt this Swedish name celebration and custom.


   Brigitta had her second visit to the dentist today.  She had a great check-up and was so excited to go to the dentist because she loves getting a new toothbrush.  Her dream of being a dentist will probably change when she discovers curtseys, cartwheels and goofy jokes are not in the job description.


   This week Annika has moved from her mini-crib to a full sized crib.  She also has inherited an "Anni Jump Up" formerly known as Johnny Jump Up (see the movie clip above).  Its made to attach to a doorframe, but that limits play to a doorway and blocks a door.  To the dismay of the adult females in our home I opted to screw a big hook into the center of the ceiling in our living room.  I think it will be very handy for years to come.  Annika also was given an Exersaucer that keeps her standing upright, allows her to spin and presents her with all kinds of attached toys.  She loves it.


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Blog #7



2006 Kelly Bash

Click here to see more pictures from the 2006 Kelly Bash.


Click to enlarge to 1024 x 768


   We have been busy preparing for our annual Kelly Bash (Harriette's family).  Although some folks couldn't make it, we all had a great time. 


   I just learned how to convert our old analog 8mm movies to digital and been busy converting them, editing them and putting them online.  Be sure to check out our Movie Page.


   School starts tomorrow for Svea and I. 


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December 2005 Blogs

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