Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Baugher-Casteel Thanksgiving 2005

Thanksgiving was wonderful this year. Both of our families made it out to our house. Lexi and I planned a dinner that was almost entirely Good Eats recipes. I love how our new kitchen is the center of the great room. The whole time we were cooking, everyone could hang out with us and around us. We could take turns making dishes and playing board games together with everyone. We even watched Full Metal Jacket while we baked the pumpkin cheesecakes. There was supposed to be just one cheesecake, but we apparently have tiny pie tins. Amy made a great cinnamon graham cracker crust for them. Mandy cooked a delicious granny smith dutch aplle pie from scratch. Lexi made the potatoes and stuffed mushrooms. And I made the yams, cranderry sauce, and bird. The meal had to come in waves, so the bird and the desserts had their turn the next day.

We all went to Cirque du Soleil's Corteo show together. It was so much fun to see it with all of our parents and siblings. Like most of their shows, it can't be conveyed in words. Needless to say their was plenty of unbelievable acrobats and jugglers.

We all went to Golden Gate park several times. We saw the Japanese Tea Garden with Lexi's Parents. And then we went to the botanical gardens with everyone but mom and dad, who weren't quite up to it. I took a bunch of great macro shots with my new camera, which is my new favorite toy. I had forgotten how much fun an SLR is. I'll post some of the pics I took soon.

SF reservoir

On our way down from twin peaks, Agi and I came across this reservoir with this fence that was practically crumbling. It was such a bizarre San Francisco landmark, nestled among the trees and briar of Twin Peaks and surrounded by a barbed wire fence full of gaping holes. It was like being on the front line of the battle between natural beauty and urban blight.

Twin Peaks Hike

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Where to Begin

I haven't blogged since Europe.

New School Year
It's been a strange year. I only teach Monday, Tuesdays and Thursdays and then I take care of my administrative responsibilities on my own schedule. I managed to carve out a meeting schedule that keeps me from having to come in on Wednesdays or Fridays at the cost of working lunches and long days for the rest of the week. I feel a little more distant from my department as my schedule is full of so many other things. My Animated Art class is more fun than last year. There are fewer total students but more students that are talented and interested in the field. It gives me the chance to do the kind of teaching I that I was after when I joined the profession. I get interesting questions from students who are willing to put effort into answering them. Most of my time in my other classes seems to go towards trying to motivate students who are capable but unwilling to put in the effort. More motivation than education.

New Digs
It must have seemed very sudden to everyone we know, but we have been thinking about it for a while. Ever since we moved to Manhattan, we knew that we were big city people. Europe further convinced me of this as my favorite times were spent in London and Paris. We started looking around mid September. We met our real estate agents on Wednesday, saw 6 houses and put in a bid on our favorite on Sunday, and accepted the counter offer on Monday. It all happened so fast and I was so excited about it I couldn't sleep on Monday night. A month of paper signing followed as we signed our name so many times my hand's still cramping. The house is magnificent. I couldn't have imagined a better use of space. There is so much light in the house that it is slowly changing me into a morning person. It's in Noe Valley with a great view of the city and the bay. I had forgotten how nice it is to have a view. I haven't had one since my family moved out of our place in Highland Park. Watching the sun rise every morning turning the bay golden orange is inspiring to say the least. We moved in on October 27th and we've been buying furniture ever since. The funniest moment in the move was when two different sets of movers each commented that we need a better TV. It cracked me up. What would I do with a better TV except end up spending more time in the darkest room in my house watching TV. I think not. Now that I'm in the city, I want to enjoy my time up here. I could've stayed in the peninsula and watched TV. In fact, I did watch too much TV in the peninsula, though less than at other points in my life. It probably helped contribute to the fact that we made more friends in my neighborhood in San Francisco in the past month than we did living in the Peninsula for 4 years.

Arrivals and Departures
Now that we live in San Francisco, I have a 40 minute commute to and from work. I didn't think it would matter much, but it combined with other things going on at work have me looking for other options for next year. Now that Taja is handling the mentor program and doing a good job of it, I feel like I don't have to worry about keeping that going. Chuck is making connections with new Steering Committee members and I think he'll do a great job of running the meetings next year. And the straw that broke the camel's back was when an administrator asked me to see if Lexi could get some funding from Google for an event the district wanted to hold. This was the first time this administrator talked to me all year. It made me realize that they haven't recognized the hard work I've put into the various programs I work with and they see me only as a lever with which to pry favors from my wife's company. It's no wonder that educational bureaucracies become so stagnate that the profession is failing. I've tried for 5 years to learn all I could from my mentors in the field and most of them refused to take the time to train me or include me in administrative discussions so I could learn how the process works. I'm determined to find something else to do next year. I'm applying to Stanford's Education Administration and Policy Analysis Program and I'm planning to minor in Learning Sciences and Technology Design. This should give me the background to work on the school data software that I have been thinking about since I started this job. If I'm not accepted to Stanford, there were some interesting job opportunities in San Francisco, including a non-profit that works with data for public programs. Whatever I end up doing, it will be somewhere closer or atleast more interesting.

Saturday, November 05, 2005