It’s heating up around here

Have you heard? Have you noticed? It’s heating up around here. I notice – it’s hard not to when you drive a car with no air conditioning and live in a metal house with only a small AC unit to ameliorate the oppressive heat.


The temperature today when I left my workshop.

Today we, like many of you, are under a heat advisory as a heat dome blankets the middle of the country bringing triple digit heat indices. The thermometer might say 95° F but the humidity makes it feel as though it’s over 100°F! It is recommended that we stay indoors in air conditioned rooms, drink plenty of water and be careful not to leave pets or children in vehicles (something that happens all too often; the number of hot car deaths (children) in the first half of 2016 has already doubled over last year’s total).

2016 is setting up to break records. It is the hottest year on record:

Each of the first six months of 2016 set a record as the warmest respective month globally in the modern temperature record, which dates to 1880, according to scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York.

Additionally 2016 is setting the record for the smallest extent of Arctic sea ice. This is important because the less ice there is the more radiation from the sun is absorbed instead of reflected out to space. That means the ocean becomes warmer. A warmer ocean melts more ice (icebergs are melting from underneath as well as from above), leading to a feedback loop of worsening conditions. The oceans are currently warmer now than at any time in the past 50 years. Warmer oceans also lead to more severe storms- tropical storms and hurricanes. This article, “Warmer Oceans, Stronger Hurricanes” is a good explanation of the phenomena.

Climate change is real. This is not in dispute in the global scientific community. It is happening now and it will affect you, your children and grandchildren.It is not somebody else’s problem. Yes, it is a huge and daunting problem but it won’t go away if we stick our heads in the sand or say ‘What can I do? I’m just one person.’ We all have a responsibility to educate ourselves on this topic. Here are a few good places to start:

Climate Interactive. Try out their climate model – see how changing the way we conduct our lives might help keep our grandchildren safer. Read about the many global initiatives that are underway – it will make you feel less alone in tackling the problem.

NASA Global Climate Change. This website is full of up to date data, studies, news and resources. You’ll be proud of the work our great space agency is doing in this area.

NOAA. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NOAA works to keep citizens informed about the changing environment.

All three of these organizations rely on good science and cutting edge resources and technology. They are a good place to find information. I intend to do my part to inform the students, teachers and parents with whom I work.  I hope you’ll check these and other reputable websites out and stay informed about this challenge that confronts all of us.


Quick note – I’m blogging while out of town at a workshop. Our internet has gone out at home and I can’t afford the fee for the technician to come out so once I’m home I will not be able to respond as quickly to comments. Be patient – I’m sure we’ll go to the library to get out of the heat and I can log on there!

Posted in climate change | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Remember that New Year’s Resolution?

Yeah, me neither. But in my case I’ll bet it had something to do with losing weight and getting in shape. I don’t know what it is about teaching – I’m on my feet all day, I don’t sit behind my desk and teach – that leads to weight gain. Or maybe it’s not teaching, maybe it was my thyroid or just age catching up with me. We had a biggest loser’s competition at school when we returned from winter break and another after spring break. I joined both and tried in a desultory way to win. I ate less food (no breakfast except coffee and I nearly always ate salad for lunch) and attempted to ‘get my steps in’ but didn’t really make any headway.

When my annual blood test came back with a high thyroid number (meaning my thyroid wasn’t working at the normal level) I was happy to blame it for my lack of progress. Surely the hormone pill I was prescribed would kick my metabolism back into gear and the pounds would melt off! Of course I scaled back my own effort to ditch the pounds figuring the pills would do the work for me (ha ha! wouldn’t that be nice?) since the medication insert said weight loss was a possible side effect of the drug. Possible but apparently not necessary. If anything as school came to a close and the relatively lazy days of summer kicked in my weight increased.

Finally I decided I had to do something about it. Joining the gym was out of the question. Gym memberships are too expensive and the extra driving would also eat into my budget. Living on a farm means there’s plenty of work to do – fixing the chicken coop, hefting 50 lb bags of feed, raking hay, even without the garden there was outdoor physical activity. There was also a lot of 90+ degree heat and an explosion of biting and stinging insects, both of which conspired to limit time spent outside.

One benefit (?) of all my professional development is that spending the odd night in a hotel gives me a chance to channel surf (we don’t have commercial TV, just an internet connection and Netflix) and recently while flicking through channels I happened on to an infomercial that caught my attention. The end of exercise – Cize! It’s a dance workout program – very hip and modern moves (I think – haven’t been dancing in ages) with music that gets you going. They showed all those amazing before and after photos.  It was a seductive sales pitch but the multiple payment of just $19.99 brought me back to earth. Still I kept thinking about it and when I got home looked up Cize on eBay. I managed to pick up a used set of the basic DVDs for a steal and they arrived this week.

My middle daughter and I are now working out together (everyone else is banned due to mean critiques and laughter) and I’ve already lost a pound! I’m pretty sure I can keep in up until school starts. My goal is to lose 30 pounds. I won’t be posting any music videos (I can’t move as fast as the dancers) but for those of you who want to check it out here’s a YouTube link to Cize.

Posted in exercise, fitness | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

The high cost of summer

Summer is expensive. No, I’m not talking about a cruise to the Bahamas or a visit to Disney World. I’m not even talking about summer camps or swim lessons. I’m talking about the cost of having kids home all day, every day during the summer. What’s so expensive? The internet, electricity, and food. And bug spray – flea and tick products for the pets, fly spray for the goats and endless cans of Off for the rest of us!

The internet bill has more than doubled as the kids are online longer hours and are streaming more video (we’ve long since graduated from the initial 6-month cheap rate deal and now the only way to keep costs down is to strictly limit the amount of data streamed). We don’t have cable so the internet is used not only for web browsing, my daughter’s AP Biology and English summer homework, email, blogging, and facebook but also for video streaming.

The electricity bill is up because we are home all day and we finally have a small air conditioner unit that has been running non-stop during the day to bring the temperature down to a livable level in the living room. We each have a fan going in our rooms that moves around the warmer air and provides the semblance of a breeze as well.

The food bill is up because the kids are all growing teenagers and the very proximity to food seems to trigger an urge to eat! Nibble, nibble, nibble.

Additionally my various professional development activities, while in some cases providing a stipend to cover expenses, generally require some outlay up front. The rocks and mineral conference was completely paid for, including hotel and meals, but the other three workshop/conferences are a pay and get reimbursed several weeks later deal.

Unfortunately my income is still the same (insufficient) so I’ve been looking for opportunities to make some extra cash. As you know my eBay venture was less than successful as what I have to sell isn’t what other people want to buy. It turned out to be quite a bit of effort with little return. I have a few things on eBay now but with no way of getting new product to sell it’s going to stay a small endeavor.

Since most of what I have are books I looked into different ways to sell them, for instance. The best market is in up-to-date textbooks or antiquarian books, of which I have neither. I was able to send a few books to for credit. It’s always nice to have a little money to spend at Amazon but it doesn’t pay the electric bill.

The Penny Hoarder (which has over 3 million active subscribers) has a lot of suggestions on how to make extra cash, so many in fact that it seems impossible not to be making hundreds of dollars every month on the side doing fun and rewarding things! Officiating weddings, selling crafts, writing ebooks, reviewing movies, carving walking sticks, babysitting, participating in clinical trials… the list is endless.

I could be a mystery shopper. I actually did this once while living in California and got money to spend at a clothing store – Christopher and Banks or Talbot or some such place – in return for filling out a survey about the displays and service. But I think this job is more suited to an urban dweller living in the midst of large chain stores. I don’t think Bear Hardware needs mystery shoppers! If, however, you live on the East Coast Ben and Jerry will pay you to eat ice cream.

I could answer surveys that purport to take 20 to 30 minutes each. Surveys on the brands of cat litter I use (least expensive) or the make and model of my next car (what next car?)  or my investment strategy (high yield or risk averse?), with the possibility of earning $2.50 or maybe more per survey. I’ve done this as well but somehow I seem to end up spending 18 minutes answering the preliminary questions only to be weeded out (“I’m sorry, you don’t qualify for this survey”) in the end earning only .25 for my time. I’m not sure how long it will take me to reach the cash out threshold at this rate; I currently have $2.75 in my account.

I could watch videos, clip coupons, shop online (not the best way to MAKE money) and earn Swagbucks which I could then (eventually) redeem for gift cards. Once I have enough. But again, it won’t pay the electric bill.

So enough with the gimmicks – what about a real work from home via the internet job? The best (for me) thing that I’ve seen is the WEM – writing for the education market – blog that a Boxcarkids supporter told me about. It is much more relevant to my interests, skills and experience. Jobs are regularly posted for curriculum development, assessment and lesson plan writers and editors. Unfortunately I haven’t been selected for any of the jobs for which I’ve applied so far.

I could put more ads on the blog (thanks everyone who shops Amazon through one of my links) to earn more ad revenue but that only works if I write frequently and you all click on ads (and if you are like me you probably don’t).

I could see if the plasma center would take me – it’s been over a year since I had my hospital stay so I might pass muster but I’m not sure if my file there has been flagged. I’m not spending money on a doctor visit to get cleared for donations. It’s probably worth a try.

In the meantime summer is winding down – school starts for me on August 3rd and on the 10th for the kids. In August, for some reason that appears to make sense to the HR people (who say it’s something to do with the fiscal year and Fridays) but not to me, I will only have one paycheck with 3 tight weeks on either side. Hopefully by then one or another of these side jobs will have actually paid off!


Posted in Amazon, blogging, internet, Job, monetizing blog, money, summer, work | Tagged | 10 Comments