Some amazing photos!

Courtesy of The Portalist, I learned of NASA’s searchable database of space photos. The post on The Portalist had enough photos to make it a no-brainer to go there and check it out.

Going to the main page was not as exciting as I had hoped. It had lots of pictures of astronauts standing around. Then I realized those were just the most recent uploads. All I had to do was click on “Most Popular” and I was rewarded with an array of truly amazing photos. I clicked on one that was a picture of a baby owl in a hangar at Kennedy Space Center. That made me decide to search for other bird pictures, but to see if there were others.  And there were. 894 of them!

These pictures offer a wealth of information in addition to some beautiful views. I searched for Pluto and found there were 491 photos. Most of the photos are accompanied by an explanation of what you are looking at.  So I found this photo:

Pluto badlands.jpg

The description called it the “badlands of Pluto” and told me there was a 1.2 mile high cliff and that the canton system runs for hundreds of miles. That information sparked my imagination, and I suddenly began thinking of a western-themed novel set on Pluto. Then I saw another photo that made it look like there were roads or at least paths on Pluto. And what are those things the road is connecting? Maybe one is a homestead and the other is a town. Or maybe…

Pluto roads.jpg

Now maybe that isn’t a winning idea, but I think you get what I am trying to say: These photos and accompanying information are a tremendous resource for writers! I am going to go back and spend more time on the site!

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Homemade Samurai Armor

My husband sent me a link to an article about a guy who made his own samurai armor.  Real armor.  Cool armor.  It seems a little extreme to me, but what the heck?  Why not?

Brian Ashcraft the author of the article, explains:

With the help of a metalworking craftsman friend, books, and the internet, Danny began work on a suit of samurai armor. The process was long and taxing: The small metal plates were hammered by hand and then strung together by over 700 feet of rope.

He also made weapons and a flag to complete his outfit.  It looks just like something out of a Kurosawa movie!

The guy does cosplay so he really wears the armor – all 80 pounds of it — on a somewhat regular basis.  That in itself takes dedication!

If you are even remotely interested in samurai or cosplay or armor, check the article out!

Farewell to PowerPoint, welcome to glogs

At the midterm I assigned a presentation on a grammar point.  Everyone used PowerPoint. The results were boring, to say the least.  I vowed not to repeat that fiasco, but I wanted to keep the assignment.  So,for the final, I assigned a glog, and the results were much better.

What’s a glog?  The closest I can come to describing it is to say it is an interactive poster.  They can embed audio and video, include pictures, links to sites, their own text and just about anything else they want.  Check out glogster.com for a better explanation.

The student products for the final were all  better than any of them had been at the midterm.  I saw students looking for a video to explain their grammar point.  They used charts as they had at the midterm, but the results were much more engaging.  I think they were more engaged and learned more from the production of their glogs than they were with the PowerPoints.

So I think I have assigned my last PowerPoint.  I am only sorry it took me so long!

The limits of a paper

In the travel literature class I am taking this semester we have read some very interesting pieces and, of course, we have written and will write a number of papers.  I love actual books, and I love writing in my notebook.  I even love composing and printing my papers for the professor.  But as I was checking ot some blogs this afternoon, I ran across a post by Graham with a video of Blue King Brown, an Australian group.  The song they are performing in the video directly applies to an article that I am reading and writing about right now.  Were my “paper” a blog post instead of 2-3 pages double spaced, I would include this song in my response to the article.

This is going to sound pretty pathetic, I am sure, but this is the first time I have really wanted to do a different kind of “paper”.  That means that it is the first time I have really understood how at least some of my students might want to do something different.  I thought I got it before, but this is absolutely the first time I have really felt limited by a piece of paper.

My challenge now, of course, is to find ways to allow, no really encourage, my students to break away from the traditional paper.

And on that note, my students in one class have been posting to their blogs again.  Some of them are really getting into this.  Links to their blogs can be found here.

Writing

Writing is really important to me.  I recently discovered that the fact that I wasn’t writing regularly, and that I wasn’t really writing at all outside of this blog, was part of what was wrong with my life all spring.  I don’t know why I am so slow…

Anyway, I came across a site Go Write Now! that, if it continues, will be one that I want to visit regularly.  There are some writing prompts and some more general posts about writing.  Check it out!