Sometimes we get stuck seeing things our way. Would you like to see some things through another set of eyes? Maybe it will make you think and stretch or maybe just chuckle or shed a tear. Here is my world through my eyes...

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hurricane Irene update #2

Well the storm has definitely moved more into our area.  The rain is coming down harder and more consistently and the wind has picked up significantly.  Trees are dancing around a lot more.  Vision outside has been reduced and I see there are a lot less cars on the road now and they are driving much slower.
I got a call from my Mom and she said that their electricity went out for about 20 minutes but was back on again.  She said a neighbors tree lost a large limb into her yard and she is worried the whole tree will come down into her yard.  Our electricity went off a couple of times for just seconds but then we had trouble connecting with the Internet for several minutes afterwards. The lights dim from time to time as well.  Part of our neighbors tree is down as well as you can see in the picture above.
Things are definitely picking up now, sometimes you can hear the wind outside whining and the rain beats against the windows more than it was this morning.  I noticed a few hours ago that all flights in and out of Richmond have now been cancelled.  I can't imagine what hassles that means for various folks, since they have gotten caught in this hurricane.

When I checked the weather for tomorrow it sounded pretty pleasant after rain in the morning, so maybe things will get back to normal quickly if the storm is gone by then.  Monday looked like a down right pleasant day.  I guess the real test will be how many trees go down and how that interferes with traffic. 

Hilary made it to her destination and so she can start getting ready for school to start next week.  Here everyone is just lounging around waiting to see what will happen with the storm.  So far so good here in VA.

Update on Hurricane Irene at our home

At 11:30 a.m. on Saturday it has been raining for several hours.  First thing this morning Hilary had a flight out of Richmond in order to return to school which begins next week.  When Lisa made that flight plan she was surely inspired as it was very early in the morning and so she was able to get out. Even still several of the airlines had cancelled their flights already but not Delta.  Hilary is well on her way and has already completed the first leg.  Now EVERY incoming flight to Richmond and outgoing flight has cancelled except two each.  So that certainly worked out great.
So far we have only been seeing rain with a bit of wind.  Early this morning when we went to the airport it was just a light rain but now it is raining significantly and the wind is throwing the water at our windows at about the same level as a good Virginia rain storm like the ones we are accustomed to in this state.  So far it is just a good rain storm.

All the Sunday services for our stake have been cancelled tomorrow except the one to the westernmost branch.  Plans to get reports to the Stake of members who have damage and needs caused by the storm are in effect.  Leaders are at one ward building to receive members from more storm affected parts of the state and direct them to homes where families have agreed to house them is set up and going, although as of last night not one individual or family had come.  That latter plan was set in motion as a result of the Area Authority and surrounding Stake Presidencies to aid members needing to escape the coast for safety from the storm. 

Right at the moment all is manageable but the worst part of the storm has, of course, not arrived.

As for me I am having a lunch of toasted tomato basil bread with chunky peanut butter and blueberry and peach preserves.  Can't complain at this point. 

P.S.  Just to show you how things are grinding to a stop here our new BYU football shirts just arrived this minute!  [How is that for a little tempting fate sarcasm?]

I'll update later if we still have electricity.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Guest Blog: The tip of the iceberg

I remember learning that only about 10% of an iceberg is visible above the water.  Most of an iceberg is hidden beneath the water, and the shape of the underwater portion can be hard to estimate simply by looking at the visible portion.  So there's a lot more to the iceberg than what is readily seen.

I'm a middle school guidance counselor, and one of the hats I wear at work is school testing coordinator.  For the past couple of years, this has meant that I'm responsible for all the preparations, training, scheduling, and administering of our state tests, which are given near the end of the school year.  We test every student in grades six through eight in reading, math and history, and 8th graders are also tested in science and writing.  In my school that means approximately 2500 tests are administered every year, with 2300 of those administered within a three-week period. 

This past school year, we administered our state tests online for the first time.  That meant hours and hours of additional advance preparation for me.  Our school has enough computers to test about 200 students at a time, so I had to come up with a testing schedule which would run all the students through all the tests they needed to take during that three-week testing window.  I had to assign students to testing groups (first on paper, and then in online test sessions), ensure that special ed students' accommodations were provided, train teachers, and run simulations.  I had to provide practice sessions for every teacher and every student, in order to familiarize them with online testing tools and help both groups increase their level of comfort with the online testing format. I came early to work every test day to ensure that computers were both turned on and logged on, and had to start and monitor each online testing group from my desktop computer.

Although the tests are untimed, a typical student spends roughly two hours working on a test.  For that student, and for the teacher who proctors the test, it is all over relatively quickly.  But that two-hour test represents hours and hours of preparation on my part. 

I'm not looking for acknowledgement of my effort.  I could just as easily be focusing on all the work a teacher does to prepare a student to take such a test.  But reflecting on this rather ordinary part of my job has given me pause.  This is what I've been thinking about: What do I take for granted that has taken someone else hours and hours of preparation so that I might enjoy/participate/consume/view/wear/listen/read.....?

I'm hoping that while I'm up here enjoying the tip of any particular iceberg, that I'll be more aware of what others have done "below the water line" to make it happen, and that I'll look harder for ways to express my gratitude and appreciation.  And I invite you to join me.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Virginia earthquake!

The big news of the day that a rare earthquake hits Virginia.
So there I am sitting at work talking with a client and suddenly the building starts shaking.  It takes a couple seconds to realize that we are having an earthquake, in Virginia--weird!  So naturally that becomes the topic of our discussion rather quickly as the building continues to shake.  I think I better check out what is happening in the rest of the building as I am hearing a bunch of noise outside my office.  That turns out to be my co-workers talking of their astonishment. 
It quickly becomes evident that it isn't going to be a severe earthquake just enough to shake things up a little, not tossing things around or dropping pictures from the walls.  But is starts shaking people up too, meaning that some clients are getting worried about driving home, "what if we have another one on the way home" and that sort of thing. 
People evacuating buildings in VA during the earthquake.
The staff is a little shaken as well as staff start calling and receiving calls from family members asking if they were alright and felt the earthquake.  Children calling parents, siblings and so forth.  One co-worker commented that it was sad that he was calling family and friends that he hadn't been in touch with for a while, just because they came to mind and he wanted to make sure they were alright.

I called my Mom who was "pretty scared" and she totally lost her focus on going through her kitchen cupboards with the help of my youngest daughter.  "We are just watching the news now instead of doing the work" she said.  Then we got an email from our central office saying that they were closing down and sending us home "as soon as you can secure your office".  So we got things put away and came home. 

Having a small earthquake of 5.9 on the Richter scale really lets you know how vulnerable we are, because while things are shaking around you knew there wasn't a dog-on-thing we could do about it.  And if the shaking got bad enough to bring the office down, you couldn't keep it from happening.  Humility must be the natural response to nature's power. 
Now that it seems we have escaped the earthquake with no damage (one picture fell down at home) then it seems that all eyes are quicker to look at the strengthening hurricane Irene that seems to be headed our way. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

28th Anniversary!

This is the present I gave to Lisa for our anniversary.  It is a Kim Lawrence figurine
that symbolizes a married couple's love for each other.
A couple weeks ago Lisa told me to get off work a couple hours early on our anniversary which fell on a Friday.  I was all for that!  I said something like, "Oh, a surprise?!"  She said, "I didn't say anything about a surprise!"  So she had fun plotting a surprise and I had fun anticipating a surprise! 

When I got home early from work on the 19th she informed me we were going off for the weekend and that she would give me her full attention for the weekend.  So that was exciting, she gave me the initial instructions to go out of town and then a few miles out she told me where we were going. 
We had a great time staying in a cottage on top of a mountain in south eastern Virginia.  You can look at and even arrange to go to the place we went by going to their website
We went grocery shopping before we arrived so we would have some things to eat at meals.  It was a few miles from the nearest town and the last 2.5 miles were up a gravel road so we weren't anticipating coming down the mountain for any fancy dinners or anything.  We did buy a couple sub sandwiches for a late dinner on Friday and some good things for the other meals as well.
It was a very nice and private weekend.  We enjoyed hiking on the trails they had cleared around the area.  Although due to the time of year, the trails were cleared of all but spider webs.  So we had walking sticks to practice our Jedi maneuvers to removes the webs as we walked down the wooded paths. 

This "love seat chair" was one of my favorites with ottoman for a cushy foot rest.
The cottage was nice and cosy but had plenty of room for reading, sleeping and a little T.V. watching.   Lisa thought ahead and brought some letters we had written each other before we were married and she read several of them to me.  That really brought back memories from "back in the day" and may have been what led to my feeling young and eating a bunch of spicy food before bed which lead to some discomfort later on in the night.  It is amazing what aging will do to you.
The hot tub came complete with rubber ducky!
One of Lisa's favorite things was the hot tub that was on the back porch.  She found it enjoyable to get up in the morning and pop in the hot tub to get all those aches heated out of you.  We enjoyed the hot tub several times.  I found it especially enjoyable because the weather was much more moderate at the top of the mountain than down here at home.  So laying in the hot tub looking up at the stars was much more fun.  Made me wonder what it would feel like in the winter!
The bedroom was up in the loft which was fun.
It really was a great memory and enjoyable time together.  We had some good discussions and shared some fun memories from the past. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Monday Music #19: Britt Nicole: Set the World on Fire

{Finally we're back on line after our internet was goofed up and finally fixed by our carrier, Yea!}

Britt Nicole is a Christian singer.  I became aware of this song from the soundtrack of the Soul Surfer movie. Her full name is Brittany Nicole Waddell.   She started singing in her church in Kannapolis North Carolina when she was 3 years old.  She sang through the years until college age when she turned down a scholarship in order to sing full-time, because that is what she felt like God wanted her to do.  She has had a lot of success in her career so far.
Now in her mid twenties she reportedly mentioned on her Facebook page that she was engaged (2010) but is reportedly not married to date.  In her bio on her website she says, "My fans want a pop record, I’m a pop artist and they love fun music.  When they come to my concerts, they want to have fun and I love that.  That’s in my personality to have fun, but the heart of who I am is to worship and to see people’s lives changed and to reach those who are hurting.  It’s what I believe God has called me to do.”

Maybe the song I've highlighted here today is a declaration of what she hopes to do with her life and her career as a singer.  The video below is a compilation of images, many religious that enhance the song.  This song comes from the album "Say It".
Set the World on Fire by Britt Nicole
Lyrics for Set the world on Fire:

I wanna set the world on fire
Until it's burning bright for you
It's everything that i desire
Can i be the one you use?

I i am small but
You you are big enough
I i am weak but
You you are strong enough to

Take my dreams
Come and give them wings
Lord with you
There's nothing i cannot do
Nothing i cannot do

I wanna feed the hungry children
And reach across the farthest land
And tell the broken there is healing
And mercy in the father's hands

I i am small but
You you are big enough
I i am weak but
You you are strong enough to

Take my dreams
Come and give them wings
Lord with you
There's nothing i cannot do

Take my dreams
Come and give them wings
Lord with you
There's nothing i cannot do

My hands my feet
My everything
My life my love
Lord use me

I wanna set the world on fire
Wanna set the world on fire yeah

Take my dreams
Come and give them wings
Lord with you
There's nothing i cannot do no

Take my dreams
Come and give them wings
'cause lord with you
There's nothing i can't do
Nothing i can't do

I'm gonna set the world on fire
Set the world on fire
It is nice to see a young person, and a budding celebrity at that, recognize that there is something more important in life than just fullfilling their own dreams of wealth and selfish desires.  Recognizing God's will in her life and striving to help and encourage others is truly a great work.  Keep up the good work!

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