Saturday, December 31, 2005

John Morgan turned 50

John Morgan

John Morgan turned fifty
Last night Susie and I went to John Morgan's 50th birthday celebration. It was a great party at Almaden Feed and Fuel [Link] put on by Rosa Swenson. Because of our tender stomachs neither Sue nor I could eat or drink there. But, we enjoyed the party, seeing John into elderhood and visiting with good friends. It is weird knowing someone who is younger than I am who turned 50.

We still have not finished with Christmas
Sue and I finally were well enough to exchange gifts between each other but we have not had the opportunity to exchange gifts with Sue's mom nor Kenneth with mom. Also, we have not yet gotten together with the Chauncys. So, we hope to finish Christmas on new years.

Family Movie
The family movie that we did over Christmas came out great. I want to convert it to DVD.

Whine and Dine Rides
We are now half way between the end of the 2005 whine and dine season and the start of the 2006 season. Whine and Dine Rides are only about 90 days away.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Catching up

Luci and Nicole

Great Daughters
One of the greatest things this holiday offered was the opportunity to spend time with my great new "daughters." My sons married well and both of their wives are very nice women. What a change, after all the time it was just us guys, and was very male.

Then, first with Sue (who was very out numbered), later with Nicole and Luci and now with a wonderful granddaughter, the family has taken on a much more balanced gender nature. It is a change for the better.

My Mom's birthday
Yesterday was my mom's birthday. She still lives in my heart and I think of her often.

Bad Flu
First Sue got sick, then it was my turn. This was a bad flu. I am still recovering. I puked for the first time in 35 years. My no puke record is broken.

Steve and Luci Update
Steve and Luci made it safely back to Washington after a drive that included the California coast and snow over the Siskiyous.

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Monday, December 26, 2005

Quiet day on Canna Lane

The day after Christmas and the house is very quiet
It is the day after Christmas and the house is very quiet and I am trying to keep it that way. Sue is still sick. Steve and Luci drove to Redding today via Santa Cruz, San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge and Vallejo. According to a text message they had a good scenic drive. I am tired and am doing laundry and keeping up the house while Sue sleeps. I had a run in with the neighbor when he started a fire in the back yard and smoke from it started filling up our house. "Do you have a fire in your back yard?" I asked over the fence. "Yes," he said, "I have a fire pit." "Well, the smoke stack from it is five feet from our roof and you are not supposed to be doing back yard burning," I said. "It's not back yard burning, it is a fire pit," he said. He said he would put it out. I moved Sue into another room. I remember my parents had one of those, but in those days it was called an incinerator, until they were banned.

Wine Posts
I am starting to post about the wines we drank over the holidays over on my opinion blog [Link.] More is coming there. Perhaps I will write some more there about fire pits and neighbors too.

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New and old memories

Christmas Angel Madison Sloan

The best part of Christmas was before Christmas
Except for one unexpected event, this was the best Christmas I have had in a long time, that is up until the early hours of Christmas morning. So I guess you can say Christmas Eve was the best Christmas I've had in a long time. Steve and his new wife Luci arrived on the 23rd and Sue and I took the family out to dinner. On Christmas Eve we went to Jeff and Nicole's house.

The star of the show
Little granddaughter Madison was the star of the show on Christmas Eve. She was as cute as a button and kept everybody entertained. It is so exciting seeing her walking and expressing herself so well. How wonderful it is having such a darling granddaughter. She is such a happy child and she has a wonderful laugh and smile. It was truly great having the whole family together for Christmas for the first time in so many years.

Old memories, new memories
This was the first Christmas in may years we were all together. At the end of Christmas Eve, we watched a video tape of the last Christmas the boys had when their mom was alive, in 1990. As I mentioned elsewhere in this blog, the day before we had watched the video of the next year, 1991, the first Christmas we guys had together as the Sloan males. I told the boys some day they will be looking back on this Christmas.

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An unexpected Christmas

Luci and Fran in kitchen

A unique Christmas
We had a great Christmas Eve, Christmas Day was another story. In the very early hours of Christmas Sue got very ill. We don't know if it was stomach flu or some food allergy, but she was very very ill and spent the day in bed. She and her mom had planned to make dinner that day. Jeff and Nicole spent Christmas Day with Nicole's family. So, Fran, Sue's mom, with help from Steve's wife Luci and I, made the Christmas dinner. The younger Steve, Kenneth and Luci went to see a movie during the day so the house was quiet. Fran and I cooked. After everybody returned from the movie, we waited until after dinner to exchange gifts with the hope Sue would recover enough to join us. She did not. This morning Steve and Luci are headed back. We still managed to have a nice day, but it was not nearly as nice as it would have been with Susie.

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Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas Eve 2005

The sloan males 2005

Everybody got together at Jeff's House
We had a great Christmas Eve.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Great family times

Jeff and Madison with Luci

We had a great time yesterday. Steve and Luci arrived at about four. Jeff and Ken came over with Brian Roadie. Then we went to dinner at the Manderin Gourmet, where Nicole met us with Madison. It was great being able to take my family out to dinner. We all sat at a big dinner and had plenty of great conversations and food. After that we came back to our house where we had a couple of bottles of Syrah and more great conversations. Then as everybody settled in we watched old video tapes of the boys when they were younger, including footage of their mother and the boys and I on our cross country trip of 1993. As we viewed old memories new ones were created.

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Friday, December 23, 2005

They are off

Redding webcam

Luci sent me a text message at 11:15am. They hit the road then. Est travel time is five hours plus stops. Road conditions are good, cloudy with light rain.

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Family calendar here

Calendar here
A new public facing calendar. Click on this link to find out important dates and check on availability. Note, this is a work in progress! It can also be linked to from my contact and calendar page [Link].

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Day before, day before Christmas

Redding intersection

Steve and Luci update
Steve, Luci and the little dogs are staying in Redding, It looks like it is raining there. Light rain is good because it will keep away the tule fog. Once they hit the road they should be here in about 5 hours.

Update from Carol
Hi Fam!
Whew! This has been a crazy week, as pre-Christmas weeks tend to be, and I am just now reading my e-mail backlog.

How are you all? What are you doing for Christmas? Will you get lots of presents? :) (Hopefully, not socks, can openers or ties you don't need.)

We're leaving for Leavenworth, WA on Saturday-- which is a small little German-style tourist town in the middle of the state. The town is high in altitude, and full of little shops and chalets. Sophie, Stan and I are going to meet Alex and Lindsay there, and we'll stay for a few days......playing Monopoly and drinking schnapps :)

Soooooo.... Merry Christmas from us!!!!!!!!! Hope you have a fantastic holiday!!!

The Saint

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Thursday, December 22, 2005

They are about seven hours out

Luci just texted me. They are about 30 miles from Medford. So, they are about seven hours away. If they drive hard they will be here from one to two in in the morning.

Sloans on the road

Portland traffic

Steve and Luci are in the traffic pictured above. This is a shot on a web cam on Interstate five through there. According to weather dot com they are going to have rain off and on the whole trip. But, no snow has been forcast through Grants Pass, Oregon or Dunsmuir.

This just in, Late Flash
Luci says they're in Salem and it is raining horrible. Steve Jr. is driving now.

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Steve and Luci almost to Portland from Seattle

It is like following Santa flying south
According to a recent text message, Steve and Luci are almost to Portland. It is raining and Steve is asleep as he worked almost all of last night. I will post updates.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Family and friends

Lunch with Kenneth
Yesterday I had lunch with Kenneth. It has become almost a weekly ritual for us, and one we enjoy. We went to Hawgs, a seafood place near where I work that has a very reasonably priced menu.

Bess and I

Dinner with Bess
Last night I had dinner with Bess. We have been friends for about 14 years, but I have not seen her for awhile. It was fun catching up and commenting about how our conversation had evolved over time from dating to the effects of aging.

Solstice is here!
Today is the shortest day of the year. From now on the days get longer and the sun starts building up to another riding, camping and train chasing season. Hurrah!

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Monday, December 19, 2005

Holiday Party Season

You go all year with one or two parties every month or two, then whammo, a party every day. Friday evening Susie and I went for a wine tasting at the wine club here in San Jose. They were pouring some excellent Oregon Pinots.

On Saturday Susie was not feeling well and our friends Peggy and George were having a get together. Pam Downs was going to go with Susie and I to the event anyway, so she ended up being my date. Peggy & George's party is always a lot of fun and a number of our cycling friends come. I missed Susie but it was fun going with Pam, she is a good conversationalist.

Valarie and Susie

On Sunday Susie was feeling better so we were able to go to Valarie and Ralph's party together. I kidded Susie about "two days, two parties, two dates." Valarie and Ralph are really sweet people, also in our bike club [Link.] They have two daughters who were also there, along with their new grand daughter who is also named Madison.

Also over the weekend I put together our bike club's newsletter [Link to newsletter.] The nice finish to the weekend was Sunday evening Kenneth came over and we made cookies together. That was really nice.

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Saturday, December 17, 2005

Conversation with Kenneth at almost three

Introducing the Sloan Family Podcast

Sloan Family Podcast Number One, 9.9 minutes - Posted December 17, 2005
December 1, 1989: Sloan Family Podcast, A Conversation With Kenneth Sloan

To listen to audio, click here --> MP3 File Here
Conversation with Kenneth Sloan, December 01, 1989 when Kenneth was just a month short of turning three. Kenneth and I are watching TV and discussing the relative merits of things like Birds and Snakes while Jeff and Steve have a conversation of their own in the background. The conversation was caught on audio tape with a small taperecorder, and was since converted to digital audio.

Think of all that old oral family history that is locked away on old audio tapes or maybe even video tapes that people have. You can grab that audio and easily convert it to MP3 files that can be also easily shared with family members all over the world via the Internet and podcasting. And, while you are at it think about using your digital audio recorders to record and share those wonderful stories that are so much a part of the legacy of your family. I know I wish I could have recorded and shared the story of how my parents met. Now that my family is spread all over the country it would be nice to be able to share that with siblings, cousins and my own kids and grand children. Oral history is so human because it is told by the people who lived it. So, what are you waiting for? Start saving, remixing and sharing yours today.

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It's beginning to look like Christmas

Frances decorates the tree

The tree is up
Last weekend we go the tree and the decorations down from the attic and today it is going up. Susie and Frances are decorating the tree and the house as I type.

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Cats help with Christmas

Cats help with Christmas

Yesterday I made my first batch of Christmas cookies. As I type this Sue and her mom Fran are decorating the tree. The cats decided to try to help with the cookies this year. Shadow even licked the beaters. It was cute. We let him get away with it long enough to take a few photos.

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Thursday, December 15, 2005

Pixel is okay

Running cat

After one trip to the vet, X-rays, blood test, tears and fretting it appears Pixel is okay. He puked out the contents of his stomach and now is running around getting under foot again. The vet says he may have a very, very mild case of pancreaitis. But, if so it is so mild we will never know if that is what made him sick.

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Mom and I

My mom and I

I guess today you would say Pauline Sloan, my mom was vertcally challenged. My mom was 5 foot 2 and Lloyd Sloan, my dad, was 6 foot 4. So, they were one of those funny couples that had a huge height difference. I spent my whole life from the time I was a baby until the time I left home in a small house in suburban Concord, California.

Both of my parents died before I was thirty and my children never got to know them much. My mom was a factory worker. Jobs like hers do not exist in this country any more, long ago they have gone off shore. She was a union activist and a lifetime member of the United Steelworkers Union. Even though she had to drop out of school after the eighth grade to help support her family after her father died, she was very smart and inspires me still.

I found this old picture of her. Her birthday is coming up and so I started thinking about her.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Sick kitty

Pixel as a kitten

One of our sweet kitty babies, Pixel, is sick and has been throwing up, at least a dozen times since last night. Kenneth is taking him to the vet today as Sue and I have to work. Here is a picture of him as a baby.

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From an Email from Marie

Here is a map of where the accident occured [Link Here]

Marie Grimes Roby & Kirk Roby

Marie said, "On Thanksgiving Day my sister Martha and her boyfriend Don were killed in a tragic car accident.  They were driving to my mothers (in Sheridan north of Lincoln) for Thanksgiving dinner up hwy 65 when a Ford truck drifted into oncoming traffic, hit head on with a Ford Focus.  The Focus acted as a ramp for the truck and sent it airborne over the Focus and a Camry and landed on top of Don's Honda.  They were killed instantly."

"I actually drove past the wreckage, but could not recognize Don's car.  I've been pretty much a wreck ever since.  I guess you know what this feeling is like.  You've been there enough."

"Needless to say, I'm just not into the holiday spirit this year.  Christmas is next week and I have not bought one gift or put up any decorations.   I am still cleaning out Martha and Don's house, and putting things into storage.  Kirk has helped a lot and Don's sister Debbie, she is and old friend of mine."

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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Marie's sister Martha killed in car accident

In a horrible accident Marie's sister and her sister's boyfriend were killed while driving to Marie's mom's to celebrate Thanksgiving. The accident occured on highway 65, a dangerous two lane highway north of Roseville CA, near the town of Lincoln. Here is how the media reported the accident, from various sources:

LINCOLN - Two Sacramentans killed Thursday in a four-vehicle collision on Highway 65 have been identified as Donald Meadows, 51, and Martha Grimes, 53, the California Highway Patrol reported.

The two died when a southbound pickup truck became airborne in a head-on crash with another vehicle and landed on their northbound 1985 Honda Accord, said CHP Officer Kelly Baraga.

It is unknown what caused the pickup truck, driven by Nicholas Manning, 21, of Loomis, to veer into oncoming traffic, Baraga said.

Six people were injured in the four-vehicle collision at 12:03 p.m. south of West Wise Road, Baraga said. Manning suffered a possible fractured neck, head trauma and abrasions to his chest and abdomen.

The occupants of two other cars suffered moderate to minor injuries, she said. An investigation is continuing, Baraga said.


In the Thanksgiving Day accident, Nicholas Manning, 21, of Loomis was southbound Highway 65 in his 2005 Ford F-150 at approximately 60 mph, according to Baraga. For unknown reasons, Manning's pick-up drifted into the oncoming traffic lane.

Michelle Nunnally, 20, of Roseville was northbound on Highway 65 in her 2001 Ford Focus and collided head-on with the pickup. A 2001 Toyota Camry driven by Robert Nush, 46, of Roseville rear-ended Nunnally's vehicle.

Manning's truck went airborne after colliding with Nunnally's vehicle, Baraga said in a press release. His truck flew over her vehicle and landed atop another northbound vehicle, a 1985 Honda Accord, driven by Meadows. Manning's truck rolled over onto its side trapping him.

Manning was transported by air to Sutter Roseville Medical Center with major injuries including a neck injury, head trauma and abrasions to the chest and abdomen.

Nunnally was transported to Sutter Roseville with moderate injuries, including a fractured foot with abrasions and complaint of pain. Nush and all the passengers in his vehicle, Juli-Ann Nush, 43, Donald Nush, 19, Markie Nush, 13, and Melanie Porter, 15, of Roseville were transported by ambulance with minor injuries and complaint of pain to Sutter Roseville.

It does not appear that alcohol played a role in this collision, Baraga said. All parties were wearing seat belts. The collision remains under investigation.


Tuesday, December 13, 2005 Last modified: Sunday, November 27, 2005 2:26 AM PST

Victims of fatal crash on Highway 65 identified

The names of two victims killed in a Thanksgiving Day accident on Highway 65 near Lincoln have been identified.

Donald Meadows, 51, and Martha Grimes, 53, both of Sacramento, died Thursday in a multiple-vehicle collision on Highway 65 just south of Wise Road, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The CHP's Newcastle office responded around noon to the collision. Meadows and Grimes, the driver and passenger of a 1985 Honda Accord, were pronounced dead at the scene of the crash.

Officials said that Nicholas Manning, 21, of Loomis, was driving southbound on Highway 65 in his 2005 Ford F-150 truck at about 60 mph when for unknown reasons his truck drifted into the oncoming lane of traffic, hitting head-on a 2001 Ford Focus driven by Michelle Nunnally, 20, of Roseville. Nunnally's vehicle was rear-ended by a 2001 Toyota Camry driven by Robert Nush, 46, of Roseville. Nush and his passengers were transported by ambulance with minor injuries.

Nunnally's vehicle landed on top of the Honda Accord, inflicting fatal injuries to both the driver and passenger.

Manning's truck got airborne after colliding with Nunnally and flew over her vehicle, officials said.

His truck rolled over onto its side, trapping the sole occupant. He was transported by air ambulance to Sutter Roseville Medical Center with major injuries, including a possible fractured neck.

"At this time it doesn't appear that alcohol played a role in the collision," said Kelly Baraga, spokeswoman for the Newcastle CHP office.

The cause of the collision remains under investigation.

Monday, December 12, 2005

A family weekend

Blanket and Binkie

This weekend was a good weekend for family. Saturday morning, of course, we spent with Jeff, Nicole, Madison and Nicole's brother Brian. Then Jeff and I went to look at trucks. Then Saturday night Kenneth and I had the folks from the train club over. (More accurately Kenneth, the cats and I had them over.) Sunday Susie and I went on our hike and then that night we talked to Steve Jr. on the phone. Steve and Luci are driving down from Seattle and it will be quite a trip for them. Steve has been working at Boeing for about a month. So, life is going well and we are looking forward to having all the family together for Christmas. That will be a real treat. Oh, and Madison has a vocabulary of about ten words now. That is very cool!

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Sunday, December 11, 2005

Slow walk through Quicksilver

sue on trail

We went for a nice hike
We had a great walk today in Almaden Quicksilver Park. This is such a pretty area and it is right in our back yard. The grass is dead and the leaves of 2005 are on the ground. But, the tender green shoots of 2006 can be seen fighting their way to the sky.

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Saturday, December 10, 2005

Fun with other Sloans

Madison on uncle Brian

Great morning with Jeff, Nicole, Madison and Brian
This morning we went to Jeff and Nicole's for breakfast. It was a great morning. Nicole made some of her famous pancakes [Link to recipe PDF file] and we had a great visit. Madison kept everybody entertained. It was a lot of fun. After the breakfast Jeff and I went out and looked at pickup trucks. Tonight Kenneth is coming over and he and I have a bunch of friends from my model railroad coming over too. A fun day!

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Friday, December 09, 2005

Letter to Mister Roadshow of Mercury News

An accident waiting to happen
What were they thinking? The entrance from Borello Drive onto Bascom Avenue is a poorly designed, dangerous intersection that crosses train tracks where not only freight trains cross but now also the light rail extension. Who was the genius that thought up (or should I say didn’t think AT ALL) this fiasco?

Picture this. You drive up out Borello Drive to make a right turn onto Bascom Avenue - a very heavily traveled, fast-moving traffic thoroughfare. Now that the light rail goes through this intersection, there is a light at your left and a railroad crossing-gate in front of you as you approach Bascom. You have to STOP before the crossing gate, before the train tracks, before you enter Bascom. Well guess what? When you are stopped in that spot on Borello, you cannot see the approaching traffic on Bascom to make an intelligent judgment about proceeding into the quagmire or hanging back and waiting. Hmmm... what other choice do I have? Oh, right. I can proceed onto the tracks so I can see the oncoming traffic --isn’t that where you would want to make your decision about whether to merge onto Bascom - sitting on train tracks? Or I can zoom across the tracks and come to an abrupt stop in that oh so small car length that puts me just barley on the other side of the tracks (and I hope out of harms way) and into the Bascom parking lane just so I can see what my choices are before I proceed.

I’ve seen traffic lights go in at intersections where I could have taken a nap at the wheel and felt safe in comparison to this intersection! And pay close attention to this next bit of information, please. Right off Borello Drive is Quail Hollow - a senior citizen community. These are the people that, among others, are thrown into this nightmarish traffic situation every day! Have they tried to do something about it to make it safer - you bet. Have they gotten any satisfaction, NO. Meetings with VTA officials and city council representatives have resulted in nothing but a lot of political double-talk. My mother lives in that complex and I fear for her life. How long will this nightmare have to go on? Until a train runs into a driver and people die is my hunch. Is this really the best we can do?

Susan Sloan
San Jose

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Thursday, December 08, 2005

Hi, I am Steve Sloan, and I use OPML

I have taken the plunge into OPML (Outline Processor Markup Language) [Wikipedia definition of OPML]. Alex Barnett created this screencast [Link to screencast] that describes what OPML is and shows us a really cool tool for creating OPML files. Here is a brief definition of of OPML from Wikipedia:

OPML (Outline Processor Markup Language) is an XML format for outlines. Originally developed by (Dave Weiner of) Radio UserLand as a native file format for an outliner application, it has since been adopted for other uses, the most common being to exchange lists of RSS feeds between RSS aggregators.

That tool is a web application called OPMLManager [Link to web application.] This is, as Barnett [Link to Barnett's blog] says, "really excellent." In Barnett's screencast he describes how he uses OPMLManager to create OPML lists of RSS Feeds. Well, that's cool, but that is not how I am using it. I am using it to create taxonomy's of information. One of the biggest weaknesses of blogs and other blog-like time based ways of presenting information is that it does not present an easy way of navigating information on subject hierarchy's. Yes, tagging does offer some of this, but tags create ways of grouping information by keywords, tags do not provide the kinds of tree-like constructs that a taxonomy. OPML allows us to organize all of our content, and the content of anything else that can be linked to into hierarchies that make it easy to find information by topic. And, we get to choose the topics and those hierarchies can be linked to, shared and included in other people's OPML trees. This is so cool. So, using OPML I have created my own little Yahoo and other folks can plug into it. I love it, I have only just begun to organize my unorganized virtual universe. Here is what I have created so far:

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Emerging Technology, Podcasting & Mass Communications

Edupodder podcast sixteen, 72.1 minutes - Posted December 6, 2005
December 6, 2005: Emerging Technology, A Mass Communications Class

To listen to audio, click here --> 16.5 MB MP3 File Here
This is a class session on recorded December 6, 2005 in the School of Journalism and Communications at San Jose State University. The class is taught by SJSU Professor Cynthia McCune [Link to blog] and I am presenting as an alumnus of the school. In preparation for this class students were asked to read the first few chapters of Dan Gillmor's book We The Media [Link to related site]. The topic is, "Changes in Mass Communications and how students need to prepare for a new mass communications paradigm." A subtopic that emerged in the conversation is related to education and emerging pedagogy. As the session opens the words "The End of Business as Usual" [Link to related site] have been written on the board.

Little Madison walking and talking

Madison in the morning

Little Madison is walking everywhere. She is also talking more and more. The other day, while I was holding her she put her head on my shoulder and reached her arm around to my back and started patting me. It felt like she was saying, "I love you gramps."

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Monday, December 05, 2005

A podcasting course plan

Edupodder podcast fifteen, 37.31 minutes - December 2, 2005, A conversation with Gwen Dapper.
To listen to audio, click here --> 8.5 MB MP3 File Here
A very fun and candid conversation with Gwen Dapper on December 2, 2005. Gwen is a web developer and an Instructional Technologist from San Jose State University. Gwen has just finished a course description for a proposed class on podcasting at San Jose State University. She and I talk as we look over her course outline. She hopes to teach this course at San Jose State. We discuss her course and the applications of podcasting in education.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Guy and Gal days

Trains at train club

Saturday I had a guy day
Saturday was an operating session at the model railroad club. It was a lot of fun and very relaxing. Big trains also go past the train depot in Agnews that houses the California Central Model Railroad Club. So I got to see both big and little trains. I photographed these little trains there Saturday. It was a great guy day.

Susie and Diane

Susie has a gal day Sunday
Years ago, on December 2nd Susan Graziano was born. In July 1994 she married me, making both her birthday and our anniversary new special holiddays. On Friday Susie and I went to a nice dinner and a movie. Sunday Susie had a nice day with her mom and our dear friend Diane Chauncy. They went to tea and had a tour of the Ainsley House where Sues mom, Fran gives tours. Despite a not so nice close encounter with a big train of their own, the gals had a good time.

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Friday, December 02, 2005

Today is Susie's Birthday

Susie and I, Sue Graziano Sloan

We are celebrating by going to dinner at Bella Mia [Link] and then going to see the new Harry Potter movie [Link]. Susie is a big fan of Harry Potter. So this will be a real treat for us. She took today off and went to lunch with her mom. Happy birthday my sweetie!

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Thursday, December 01, 2005

Photo E-tailers exposed

Don Wiss [Link to his home page] decided to go and visit some of the Brooklyn retailers that have been getting bad press lately for what some consider to be lousy business practices. Here is what he found [Link].