Blog #224





   Today we celebrated Papa's 89th birthday; it's hard to believe that in only just one year he will be old...  He helped Joan make an apple pie from apples from our own apple tree.








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Blog #223





What are you doing?


   While researching blogging I studied blogosphere statistics.  The average number of blogs online doubles every six months.  Twenty six million in the US blog; world wide the number is about 184 million.  Facebook and MySpace add tens of millions more to the mix. 

   Blogging is work, however.  A website photoblog like this one is even more work.  The average age of the most read blogs is less than three years old.  Sixty to 80% of all blogs are abandoned within the first three months.  My best friend in Alaska, Charlie Bader, has maintained a personal website for many years; his updates have become less frequent, however.  My sister and her husband have had what seems like generations of personal websites which have evolved into what is now a blog.  They have been at it longer than anyone I know and still manage to update at least once a month, but that's not as often as they used to update.

   One thing the three of us have in common when it comes to updates; we've all slowed down.  My first year online I updated our blog 84 times.  Last year there were 85 updates.  This year I've updated 54 times with only a month to go to the third anniversary of our site.  I do update other parts of the site as well, such as the movie page and new editions like the family tree section.  But still, the main event of this site for those who know us is this blog and it's not unusual for me to go two weeks between updates. 

   I know how much I appreciate reading Charlie and Sheryl and Michael's blogs, but I also understand how difficult it is to get around to updates.  Life is busy, most things seem too trivial to write about.  Even so, things to write about stack up and anticipation of the next update can be daunting.   Charlie and I have exchanged a few emails over the past few days, but that's rare for us.  Even though I still consider him a very close friend, it's hard to take the time to write.  Usually months go by without us contacting each other.  The telephone is a nice invention, but Alaska is four time zones away from Ohio.  When I look at my address book I realize there are so many friends and family whom I'd like to talk to and find put what they are up to.  I feel guilty for not keeping in contact, for not knowing what the people who are important to me are doing.

   Blogs, emails, letters, family/personal websites, text messages, faxes, travel, Skype, holiday family news letters and perhaps even telepathy are all ways that we can stay in touch.  They all have advantages and disadvantages when considering: price, hardware, set-up effort, reliability, time zones and timing, learning curve, etc.

   One great, relatively new way to stay in touch that balances all of these issues quite well is TwitterTwitter is free and only requires an Internet ready computer.  To register for Twitter you just need an email address; creating an account is a breeze.  The way Twitter works is a user posts short blips through their website about what they are doing (140 character max).  Just type in the text box and click: update.  An update may take less than a minute; it couldn't be any easier.  Your browser will remember who you are; you don't need to log in while on your regular computer.  Whoever chooses to "Follow" you can read whatever you've posted.  Check Twitter as often or seldom as you wish.  You can always scroll back to see what the people who you choose to follow have written.  Your posts are basically microblogs.  The power comes from the absolute simplicity.

   Joan and I have just started playing with Twitter; I see much potential.  We have one other friend whom we follow.  Steve "ardalis" is popular, especially among folks who are up on cutting edge technology and trends.  Steve has about 80 followers.  It would be nice if Joan and I had others to follow as well.  To our family and friends in Alaska, Georgia, Ohio, Washington, Arizona, Antarctica and everywhere, check out Twitter.  Check it out, give it a try and follow hallbuzz and jmwh




Blog #222



Halloween Parties Deux


   Joan has spent much of the past two weeks making Halloween costumes and preparing the house for back to back parties.  On Friday we had a party for a few of the girls' school friends.  On Saturday we did it again for their neighborhood friends.  By "we" I mean Joan, of course. 


Below: As the guests arrived they crafted magic wands.


A group photo


The girls' room was thick with theater fog.


Joan put on a magic show.


Note the magic pepper star.


The haunted food table.


Svea decorated this pumpkins with grape-cheese-kabobs.


Joan and Svea made these mummy cupcakes.


At the spooky snack table.


Making crafts.


 Our standard game of "Catch a Doughnut on a String with Just Your Teeth"


A bit of magic on TV.


Trap Door


   Joan and the girls made me keep this project a secret until Halloween.  Our trap door was featured in their premier magic trick of the evening.  Svea went into the closet, Joan closed the door, I made some noise on the stereo to mask the trap noise, Svea and Brigitta switched places and then Joan opened the door to reveal Brigitta standing there.


  This summer I built the trap door in the living room closet.  It leads to the play/craft area in the basement.  To keep the door swing height short and the center of gravity low, I bi-fold hinged the door.  In the up position there is a safety catch so that it won't slam down on little heads or fingers.  In the down position a loop of cord sticks out through the floor as a lift handle.  Halfway down the steps there is a landing platform and the ladder turns 90 degrees.  My hope was that if one of the kids fell they would only fall four feet instead of eight.  The platform also creates a double-decker play area.  The kids absolutely love the hatch, platform and little play rooms.  A final benefit of the hatch is that it creates a possible fire escape from the basement.  Prior to the hatch installation the only way out of the basement was up the regular stairs.









Blogging Seminar


   This Tuesday I presented a blogging session for the Diocese.  These things always take much preparation and create a bit of anxiety.  When I teach my students at school, I know who they are, and pretty much what they know and I prepare my lessons accordingly.  When I teach an adult session for the Diocese, however, I never know who will be in attendance.  Based on the topic I have to guess what kinds of people will be in attendance.  A month ago I was asked by the Diocese to teach blogging.  I assumed that most attendees would have novice level computer skills since blog service providers have made the process of creating an account and blogs as simple and user friendly as possible. 

   As it turned out most attendees were fellow technology teachers.  There also were a few classroom teachers and a principal.  My superintendant also was present.  This caught me off guard, I hadn't contemplated teaching my contemporaries.  Most of what I prepared was geared more toward the beginner level and I didn't bother to use it.  Although the attendees had much computer experience, they were unfamiliar with blogs and only one had ever worked with traditional html code/webpages.  So what I had planned was appropriate; the students worked hands-on; actually creating free blog accounts as well as free image and movie accounts on Flickr and YouTube.  I just wasn't prepared for them to go much deeper.  Many of them were self sufficient and investigated on their own.  I would have prepared things differently had I known.

   All of my blog experience has been through hallbuzz which is scratch built html webpages hosted on my paid web host.  Although it is not terribly difficult, all of the issues involved in creating and uploading a website are more than can be covered in an evening; especially mixed with another topic.  To prepare for this session I created accounts and blogs/pages on Blogger and MySpace.  I found Blogger amazingly easy to use and get started; what you see is what you get and everything is very intuitive.  MySpace, on the other hand, was not very user friendly.  I had countless errors and often was frustrated often.  MySpace is huge, however, and I wanted to be prepared in case I had younger students who were more interested in social blogging over more traditional blogging. 

  I have accounts on Flickr and YouTube just for fun.  I created new accounts on both services and noted the process so that I could foresee issues on Tuesday.  Most of what I taught, I've learned in the past month, so I didn't have much depth to fall back on.

   In the future I would probably be able to better prepare for these seminars if I insisted the titles describe a prerequisite skill level. 


Hall Family Website hallbuzz.com

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Blog #221



Day of the Dead


   Last Saturday Svea planned a Day of the Dead celebration.  She made dinner, decorations, a mask craft and had us dancing the Mexican Hat Dance.  Did we mention that she takes Spanish at school?


Mogadore Row


   Brigitta went to a birthday party on Saturday, so I took Svea and Annika for a row around Mogadore Reservoir.  Tom and Sandy Wayne apparently placed a decorated paddle on June 26th Island.




German American Day


   We celebrated German American Day at GFS on Saturday.  The girls danced and we all had a nice dinner.  Annika brought her preschool class dog "Spot" along.





Kingsway Pumpkin Farm (with GFS)


   Fifteen minutes after I arrived home from a 25 mile bike ride our neighbors joined us for a GFS sponsored trip to Kingsway Pumpkin Farm.  I didn't rehydrate myself afterward and was especially dehydrated after hours in the sun on a surprisingly warm October day.  I brought the fisheye lens along and used it exclusively.  Joan took a few shots and clips with the Canon.  None of us enjoyed the 45 minute wait to board the hayride to the pumpkin patch to pick pumpkins.  I really hate lines; I'd rather walk for miles than wait in a line.  Regardless, the kids had fun and picked their pumpkins.  Our last event at the farm was to wander through a corn maze for 45 minutes.









Hay Ride to the Pumpkin Patch













Maze in the Maize














Hall Family Website hallbuzz.com

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Blog #220

David & Joan



Brigitta Day


   Brigitta's Name Day celebration concluded with a picnic at the playground behind Water Works Park. Brigitta was able to invite a friend along which added to her enjoyment.  We made her a crown, gave her a few small gifts and let her choose the day's activities.  Just enough to remind her how special she is to us.


All are interested in the movie Brigitta is opening.


Something Russian Festival


The members of St Nicholas Church in Magadore put on quite a festival on Tuesday night.  Now, why they had this grand celebration on a Tuesday and Wednesday is beyond me.  We arrived around 6:45 to watch the dance groups perform at 7:00 and we left at 8:15.  There was much to see and enjoy but we had to cut our visit short because all had school the next day.  As it was, Annika fell asleep while watching the dancers.


The girls "oohed" and "aahed" at the sight of the dome of St. Nicholas church.


The interior of the church was incredibly ornate and beautiful and thankfully the church welcomed us to look around and take pictures



Posing at the front of the altar area. 


A sample of the panels showing Apostles and Saints.  There was a helpful diagram on the floor explaining what was being depicted on each panel.


The dancing began with the traditional presentation of bread and salt.


The girls loved seeing the costumes and watching the dancing.  The program was about 45 minutes long and features performers ranging in age from three to adult.  The dances were very spirited and

kept all eyes focused on the stage.  Here the girls pose with a friend of theirs who danced beautifully Tuesday night.

Inside the church hall were tables of crafts, psanky dyed eggs, nesting dolls, religious items, food, and candy.  We bought a Russian chocolate bar and shared it on the way home.  Although we would have like to taken more time to enjoy the evening, we all look forward to seeing it again next year.




Hall Family Website hallbuzz.com


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