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Hammer, man, et al.

“Hey Mike, what have you been up to of late?”

“Oh, not much, just vacationing overseas, racing extreme offroad triathlons, running, and helping put together the latest District Annual Report.”

“Wait – you’re RUNNING?”

–          Imagined dialogue if you asked me, “Hey Mike, what have been up to of late?”

So, yes, it’s true, I’ve been running.

More importantly, I had an opportunity to take an all-too-brief hiatus from work and visit an amazing individual in New Zealand. You might realize that my trip fell more or less squarely in the dead winter in the Southern Hemisphere, but I was not to be deterred. We had a brilliant time, catching up, mountain biking, exploring…we even got to sail on an America’s Cup yacht. Absolutely incredible.

I managed to make it back just in time to enjoy the full brunt of a gorgeous Alaskan Summer. I hope it lasts longer than this week. Last week, I went up to Los Anchorage to do the Xterra Hammerman Triathlon. I went with two good friends, Angie and Adam, as we were part of a team, something that neither Adam nor I had done. The weather, lamentably, was a bit on the damp side, which made the mountain biking segment, the leg I was to complete, a bit of a challenge. 14 miles of slick, muddy, and overgrown singletrack awaited me. But I had a blast, and only fell three times, which was a personal best for me on that course. Angie had a great if cold swim, and Adam had a blisteringly fast run, but I think my crashing (and missing a turn – oops) led to a slower time than I had hoped. Still, we finished third of the coed teams. I’ll make a quick note about the winning team – their mountain biker was professional… But the main aspect worth noting is that we all had a really fun time, and no one got hurt.

Speaking of professions, in the Wide World of Webmastery, things are fantastic. Busy and varied, as I am splitting time between installing new computers in various schools around the district, and working in the office as needed. The latest project has been the KPBSD Annual Report, which provides a synopsis and interesting facts and stories from the previous school year to the public. Look for yours soon as an insert in the newspaper.

If anyone needs me, I’ll be running.

Seriously, this time…

On Planetary Alignment

Once again, it appears the planets have aligned sufficiently for me to continue my blog. Life, as it has a way of doing, has become more intricate and involved, both at work and not. For my days spent at work, things have been going swimmingly. A few inservice days with no kids in school meant that school administrators and secretaries have been upping their efforts on getting their schools’ websites up to scratch. This means a great deal more students enrolled in Awesome High School, and a proud new lot of diploma-having Awesome Wombats, ready to use their skills to make their sites the best they can be.

With a Five-Year Plan looming, KPBSD employees and the Kenai Peninsula community are being asked to give feedback to the Five-Year Plan. Everyone is encouraged to participate – the more meaningful and constructive feedback we can give, the better our District has the potential of becoming. See the front page of the KPBSD website for details. And as a heads up, we’ll be seeing more surveys in the coming weeks. Take them seriously. They will help everyone.

In the wide world of sports, the cross-country ski season is rolling, nay, SHUSSHING along. Sunday’s She Can Ski race was the largest ever, with proceeds benefitting the Leeshore Center and the Tsalteshi Trails Association. Mark it on your calendars for next year – it’s on Superbowl Sunday. Rest assured you’ll be home in time for the game. Speaking of the Superbowl, another close one! Of course I’m talking about the halftime show. Thankfully Madonna or Cee Lo Green had no wardrobe malfunctions, but Cee Lo did come onto the stage dressed as an Idi Amin stunt double. Not sure of the take-home message there.

Lastly, I have decided to curtail my skate skiing in favor of classic skiing, as I want to focus on that for the Tour of Anchorage. I have also decided to do the only classic-only (fentoozling) race available – the 25k. I think this will give me a better estimation of how I compare to “real” skiers. I’m nervous but also very excited. Another reason I decided on the shorter race is that I have to start Phase Two of P90X the following day at 6:00 am, and I think it would be best for everyone if I were, you know, alive and stuff.

On the topic of P90X, we’re cruising through Phase One, and have picked up a few new students. Luckily for you, THERE’S STILL ROOM AVAILABLE! It’s never too late to start exercising and getting into the best shape of your life. Next workout is Wednesday morning, and it’s the ever delightful Legs and Back, with a bonus Ab Ripper X thrown in for fun. You don’t have to do anything fancy, JUST SHOW UP  at 6:00 am Wednesday ready to work hard. We’ll be done and out of there well before work. I promise.

Well, it seems that these planets just keep on moving, so it’s time for me to wrap this up – I’m getting ready for next year, where I plan on being a body double for Cee Lo Green or Idi Amin – whoever needs it most.

 

X-mess and Gnu’s Ears.

Wow, I haven’t written a post SINCE LAST YEAR. Apologies.

I hope everyone had an enjoyable time over the Holidaze. Following in my tradition of going someplace warm for the break, I did exactly the opposite and went to visit family up in Fairbanks. With temperatures soaring into the -20s, I enjoyed some cross country skiing on Fairbanks’ lovely ski trails, and even had the opportunity to experience minor frostbite on my ear lobes. All told, it was delightful.

After Fairbanks, I spent some time in Girdwood, where I brought the balmy Fairbanks weather with me, as one morning saw -14 on the slopes. Girdwood, too, has put significant resources into building great cross country ski trails, so it was quite nice to see some new scenery. As luck would have it, being in Fairbanks completely recalibrated my idea of cold, so I was more than happy to ski in Girdwood and back here at Tsalteshi despite the below zero temperatures.

Speaking of exercise, I’m scheduled to teach some fitness classes at the Nordic Training Center in Soldotna starting Monday of next week. These will be P90X workouts, and you can find a calendar in the upper right hand corner of this very blog. I’ll have more information soon. P90X is a very intense program that uses the concept of Muscle Confusion to maximize results. After the entire program, you will be in the best shape of your life. College athletes, MMA fighters, and pro athletes use P90X to become better all-around athletes. Try it. You’ll love it, but it’s not easy.

In website news, we’ve launched a new front page feature for 2012. The Essential Images: KPBSD Photo of the Day is a daily opportunity to reflect on the reason this District exists – the students. Take a look at the lower right corner of the KPBSD website, that’s why we’re here.

So, in all respects, good things are happening for 2012.

Stay tuned for a new post from me.

I’m sure it will happen first thing next year.

 

Blogpile: Alive and Kicking

I admit that I have been remiss in describing the day to day goings on with things relating to the KPBSD website. Rest assured there are a great many happenings daily. I spend a good deal of my day updating information on the site. This can be old forms being replaced by new, new events, news stories, even school lunch menu changes. Big changes don’t happen every day, but there are some exciting ones in the works. I’ll try not to give too much away, but I’ve been working with the Communications Department and the IT Department to implement a new change on the front page. This item will feature the reason that any of us working for the KPBSD are here; the students. Without them, none of this would exist. This is a tribute, in a way, to why we’re here. Another major change is a migration from our individual school websites from a remote server to our own servers. This last month has seen me create nearly 50 new websites using WordPress technology. My test school platform Awesome High School (WOMBAT POWER!) has been working very well to get administrators, secretaries and others up to scratch on posting events and information to their new blog site. A list of schools that have already made the jump, and a whack of other interesting blogs from around the District, can be found on the KPBSD Blog Directory (AKA “Blogpile” by popular vote thanks to the Teeming Millions). So, good things are happening, and more goodness is on the way.

 

Hodgepodgery.

Let’s just go ahead and file this under “Everything.”

First off, I haven’t been feeling up-to-scratch, and my weekend was filled mostly with medicine and disconcerting amounts of post-nasal drip. That it came on the heels of a flu shot, which my coworkers swear is the sole cause of my infirmity, is a mere coincidence.

Second, I did attend the Swapmeet for winter gear at Kenai Central HS on Saturday. I did not find skis, as I grossly underestimated the budget necessary for winter activities. That, and a friend who knows about such things insisted that I choose skis and apparel based on color. Wise words from one who knows. I considered a delightful pair of flippers, but decided against them, hoping that they would be better matched with someone who would look better in them than I would.

In help news, Master of All Things Hardware Casey has rededicated himself to his blog, and I have a current battle for blog supremacy with Jordan and his wildly helpful Helpdesk blog.

Speaking of bloggery and website funnery, we’re trying to come up with a name for the KPBSD Blog Server. Something more creative than “KPBSD Blog Server.” Ideas are encouraged. We can’t use Blogosphere, since that term is the collective term for all blogs. See poll at right or leave a comment. We have also created a Directory for some of the existing KPBSD blogs, so if you would like yours included, please let me know.

In wombat-related news, I recently found out that the animal collective term for wombat is a “mob.” The gratification I get from this tidbit of information is beyond understanding. I hope someday to encounter a wombat mob in the wild.

So there we have it. A bit of everything. I’ll thank my flu medications for the cohesion exhibited in this post. At least my nasal passages are happy.

 

A. Chord D.N.

I haven’t been this excited about accordions since the Great Alaskan Polka Festival of ’84.

You may now realize that you haven’t the slightest idea of what I’m going on about. Welcome to the club.

Accordions?

Yes, but not exactly the Mariachi kind.

The accordion I am way too excited about today lives on the front page of the KPBSD website. It’s on the right, right to the right of  the highlight, am I right?

The accordion is a device that allows a user to interact with the website to specify the type of information he or she would like to receive, all while being rather parsimonious with the website’s pixel space.

This allows us to introduce new information, such as Facebook and Twitter feeds on the home page, without subtending more of the homepage’s valuable real estate. The way the behaves when a user clicks on its various regions give rise to the accordion term.

So, try out the accordion, and tell me what you think. Stay tuned for more instrumentation, including a website tuba and website jug, because our end goal is to form a proper Polka Orchestra.

I’m kidding, of course.

Nothing about polka is proper.

 

Paperless or Less Paper?

There is quite a bit of talk these days about becoming “paperless.” From the District perspective, being paperless means a great deal of items previously printed will be stored and distributed online. As KPBSD Webmaster, I am trying to facilitate the transformation to a more paper free environment.

This isn’t just about saving trees. For instance, recently I took the old RTI forms (Response To Intervention) and created online fillable copies of them. So now, when a teacher or counselor needs these forms, no longer will he/she need to locate them, print them out, fill them out by hand, and fax or mail the paper to the intended recipient. Now, all the teacher has to do is locate the form on the KPBSD website, fill it out electronically, and hit the “submit” button.

Easy peasy, lemon squeezie.

So, the bullet points here are:

  • Electronic forms are faster
  • Easier
  • Don’t kill trees

Additionally, the data, as is the nature of things online, can be easily collated for analytical purposes, such as creating spreadsheets and graphs.

So, less paper or paperless, I’m a fan of both, and am doing what I can to promote it in our District.

Website updatery, new directions

So, I’ve been here over a month now, so will consider myself generally up-to-speed on most of the website day-to-day maintenance. I’ve found that the most difficult task for me relating to the website is understanding how this organization, the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, is organized. With 44 schools, over 9000 students, an army of support staff and a District bigger than the entire state of West Virginia, keeping things organized is sometimes easier said than done.

That said, I’m getting my feet under me, and have been able to implement some new changes and directions.

One of the more recent happenings is the creation of a new school blog and a smattering of calendars for that school. The test school for all this funnery is Skyview High School, right here in Soldotna, Alaska. I’ve been working with the Principal and staff for the last week, and it’s a  learning experience for us all. They’ve gotten into the swing of using Google Calendars for school and sports events, and are very close to ready to tackle blogging.

Here’s a sneak peak of the Skyview High School Blog, and it does have a link to the Skyview calendar, so the good times just keep rolling. But all things considered, this is about streamlining the way people create, learn about, and share events, so this is progress.