Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Joy Of... Curriculum?

Over a year ago, a friend of mine invited me to help out with her charter school. If you don't already know it about me: I love the whole academic scene, especially when it comes to kids. So I'd promised her I'd take a day to help out sometime.

Well, she contacted me the other day just to catch up, and she mentioned that she's starting computer classes for one of her schools. (Suddenly there's more than just one!) I asked if this was a good time for me to help out, and she said "yes," especially if I could come that week since the next week is when things really get busy. I could only do a half day; she said that would be fine, but we had a lot to do: train her on things like spreadsheets and RSS and podcasts and advanced features of word processing; design a curriculum for grades K-6; and get some of the library equipment going.

You know what? We did it. We did it all. We were rushed, but we basically demonstrated and outlined everything we needed in 4 hours. It's invigorating to accomplish something like that.

What's even better is the fact that she enjoyed it as much as I did. Turns out she was a bit apprehensive about the classes since she didn't feel particularly adept at computers, and she wasn't looking forward to training with me. But she's a great educator and of course she picked it up well, and we both had a great time. What a rush.

Thanks, Tina!

Good Conversation

I took a break the other day with a friend and we chatted outside for about an hour, covering everything from business to politics to career choices to tech to fiction to local and world-wide social improvements... everything but religion, though that's been a part of other conversations together.

It's always uplifting to have a good, long conversation with someone close. There's something transcendental about sharing and learning with one another.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Help, Out of Nowhere

So our Lake Powell trip involved 1 crippled houseboat (with only 1 working motor), 1 ski boat, and 21 people, only 1 of whom really knew how to drive the houseboat and run everything. That's Rob, and he spent the first day shuttling people back and forth from where the houseboat was parked. So of course that's when we got a good Lake Powell storm, one they said they experience only every few years or so. The wind started blowing hard, and it sent a canopy end-over-end on the sandy beach; our little Ellie ran and grabbed it, and then Abel and I took it apart to keep it from going further. I was kind of enjoying the change in weather, not thinking about what else might happen... until I saw the houseboat's back end pulling furiously on the ropes and threatening to rip free and plow into a houseboat on the other side.

Talk about sudden horror! Rob's 17-year-old daughter Ashtyn knows something about boats and we tried the best we could to keep it moored. We turned on our motor (Ashtyn's idea; thank heavens for her) and tried to get it to pull us back. I don't even remember what else we were doing; it was such a blur.

Then suddenly there were about 4 men helping out with the ropes, and coming on board to help get that back line tied tightly. Come to find out later they'd come from across the bay in their ski boat, braving the waves just to give us some assistance. Thanks to them we pulled our back line tight and maybe even pulled the whole boat into position. Besides the back-breaking, wet work, they got us to point the motor the correct way; turns out we had been making things worse by pointing in the wrong direction. Finally, we were set into place as good as possible, and the men left as suddenly as they came.

It took us a day to recover. The storm (combined with our work) pushed the boat up on the shore about 5 feet, and the back end was sitting low in the water. It took some digging and coordinated effort to get it pushed off the beach and into a good position. Things could have turned out much worse.

The next day, the men who helped came over asking for matches. We only had two boxes, and we couldn't afford to part with them.

Ha! I make joke.


This event is unlike most of the ones I record here: there was no strong feeling or grand revelation from the experience. There was simply a slow relief that came as the danger gradually subsided. But from time to time, I think back on these strangers' work and I feel a pleasant glow of appreciation. That's a treasure, and I'll always value it.