MHT: Students are the Stars

When I worked at the LA Institute two years ago the motto we always used was “The Students are the Stars”.  Seems like an appropriate title for this post, rating Episode 5 of the Magical History Tour!

The first four tours were hosted by yours truly, as I tended to record them when already traveling, making it difficult to bring along students.  However, one of the prizes in my incentive bag this year was earning a guest-host spot on the next episode of the Magical History Tour.  Thanks to Reuben for his lucky draw, off we went to Washington DC this February, along with Paris, Faiz and Evander.  Before we even left Gaston I knew that combo was going to make for a pretty fabulous show.

Overall I rate the episode a 9, with many of the reasons coming from students this week as we watched a Magical History Tour marathon in preparation for their final exam, where they will be designing their own episode.

  • Students are significantly more entertaining as hosts then I will ever be.
  • Evander’s ridiculous antics and facial expressions.
  • Transitions between events and slides.
  • Editing of the FDR Memorial tour guide- past episodes involved a lot of talking, but this one cuts them down into easy to digest segments.
  • Music variety and choices.  Especially “Over There” which never grows old.
  • The amazing dance moves at the end.  Although today they informed me I should never, ever do them again in public.  It’s okay if I choose to do it in the privacy of my own home.  Thanks guys…

-1 because I’m confident it can get better than this.  The challenge on their final is to create the best plan, and the winner will earn the trip and filming this summer.  The opportunity to top this one is exciting 🙂  Until then, enjoy Episode 5…


Ballin’ for JB

How have I not rated this yet?!?  I have no idea, but I’m excited to kick off the return of Rate Your World with one of the best events from the past few months.  I’ve updated very little since Javaris’s death, and I hope this follow up is proof of the impact he had on the community, as well as what his memory has done for the strength of the Pride.  Not only the Pride of 2012, but the entire school, 5-12.

Our Women’s Empowerment club on campus (which I am privileged to advise) made the decision shortly after Javaris’s death to host a Student vs. Teacher basketball game fundraiser in his memory.  I was immediately on board as I love anything that involves competition, beating students, and any excuse to talk trash to my kids.  In a loving way, of course.  The idea was to raise enough money to help cover costs of the funeral, as well as the sign that will soon be hung on the gym dedicating it in his name.  Boy did they ever do a great job.

The result= over $1,000 raised, an amazing evening of basketball, and an opportunity for everyone to remember Javaris and his love of the sport.

While I got to play (as is about to be shown), I also got to play with my new camera and editing equipment… hopefully this video will show you the many reasons I rate this event a 10.


I’ve had mixed feelings about these for awhile, but this Christmas it seemed like the thing to get.  So while everyone around me enjoyed their Nooks and Kindles, I decided to jump in and purchase my first eBook for my iPad.

In all honesty, it wasn’t really my desire to jump on the eReader bandwagon as much as it was my impatience with having to order the book online (EVERY bookstore in the surrounding area was sold out).  So, I went on the iBook store and purchased it in about 30 seconds.  Huge points for the convenience factor.  HOWEVER, you’re not able to purchase used, so you have no choice but to purchase full price.  I’m not sure I’ve ever purchased a full price book online…

When I began reading I definitely wasn’t sold.  I have enough trouble staring at a computer screen for long periods of time, and staring at my iPad was no different.  Plus, reading in bed was a bit more difficult.  The iPad is heavier than most eReaders, so this is definitely not a statement that applies to all.  And while it looks small and light, it actually does get heavy after some serious reading.  Either that or I need to hit the gym more often…

I will say, however, the built in light is kinda nice.  Then when I’m about to fall asleep I don’t have to get up (or more realistically roll about 3 inches to my right) and turn the light off.  I can just drop the iPad next to me and pass out.  PERFECT.

It’s also awfully convenient, especially when taking a road trip in a car with 4 people, 3 dogs and a whole bunch of Christmas gifts.  The book I bought was over 500 pages long, and something we DEFINITELY did not have room for.  Unless we wanted to sit on each other’s laps, that is.

I was also pretty pleased with iBooks ability to highlight, write notes, AND bookmark pages.  All of which appear on one nice page at the beginning of the book for easy reference.  That means no falling asleep with highlighters in the bed leading to awful (and permanent) stains.  Another plus.

The biggest downside I’ve found so far (along with the staring at a screen part) is the inability to share, display and hold.  There’s something to be said for having a bookshelf full of all your favorites, ready to pull off and hand to a friend anytime they stop by.  This one will stay permanently on my iPad however, living only on the virtual bookshelf found in my iBook app.


-2: lack of physical book and ability to share (and of course, the risk of losing it due to technical difficulties, which I suppose could be compared to theft, house fire or just general misplacement)

-1: the quality of my vision goes down per page

-.5: the cheapskate in me hates the idea of paying only full price for a book I can’t even resell after I’m done

Be curious to hear what others think based on their experience… any other ratings out there?

Spring Break Adventures

I’ve safely returned from Spring Break, and am currently in the process of unpacking, cleaning out my fridge (note to self: this is something that should be done BEFORE leaving for vacation) and preparing for many super busy weeks leading up to the end of this semester.

That being said, ratings are on their way 🙂  In the meantime, my very first, beginner’s attempt, at an iMovie slideshow- thank you Mac one-to-ones!  Enjoy 🙂


I understand the need for copyright and genuinely do appreciate it (after working hard to convince 90 eighth graders of its merit, it turns out I sold myself).  HOWEVER, I’m not sure how it applies to my incredible iMovie slideshow with some Avett Brothers and James Taylor.  I paid for both the songs, and have seen plenty of other YouTube videos using popular songs.  So why won’t mine work???!?!?!?!?!?

So, if you want to enjoy in it’s fully glory, cue up The Avett Brothers’ ‘I and Love and You’ and follow that with ‘In My Mind I’m Gone to Carolina’… trust me- it’ll make it a lot better 🙂

Mac One-to-Ones

I’ve been an Apple fan for about 5 years now.  My senior year of college I gave in and decided my desktop just wasn’t good enough.  This was twofold: 1) I couldn’t do any work while laying on my bed (despite many creative attempts to rearrange my room/desk to make this doable) and 2) it was a PC.  I was sick of programs not responding, of a weird death countdown, and other PC related sicknesses.

So, being the poor college student that I was, I purchased a used iBook online.  Despite the horrible BO smell it arrived with, and the old operating system (I didn’t even know it was possible to purchase an iBook with OS 9), I still managed to fall in love.  While it died shortly after, I found myself buying a brand new MacBook, the day it was first released, with some graduation money.

Now, four years later, I’ve traded it in for an upgrade, the 13″ MacBook Pro.  While I’ve already fallen in love, that’s actually not what this post is about. This post is about a brilliant discovery brought to me by my local Apple Store.  It’s called Mac’s One-to-One program.  Ever heard of it?  Yeah, me neither.

Until now.  I’m not quite sure when they introduced it, but the One to One program is essentially personal training for your Mac.  You pay for a year membership ($100), and can sign up for unlimited one to one appointments at your nearest Apple Store (or another store if you’re traveling, or feel the desire to travel).  You sign up specifying a general category that you’d like to learn more about, and arrive with specifics that you want your trainer to teach you.  This can look several different ways:

  • You’ve just bought your first Mac and need some help learning the ropes and switching from a PC.
  • You’ve just bought a new Mac, and want someone to help you transfer all your data.
  • You’d like to learn more about the new iPhoto/iMovie, and how to organize photos and videos.
  • You’re doing a video project for school/work, and want someone to work with you for an hour.
  • You think Podcasts would be an awesome thing to learn.

No matter what you want to learn, there’s a trainer to help you out.  I LOVE IT.  For someone who does a lot of consulting work for different people, this is the best professional development ever.  They’re constantly teaching me new things that essentially make me more marketable.

Have I mentioned how much I love this?


-1: You can only sign up for one appointment at a time, meaning it’s hard to get in more than one a week.  So while I say unlimited sessions, you’re actually limited to around 52.

Find out more here.