Archive for March, 2009

Poster session at TESOL about Ukraine

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These photos are of my poster session about Ukraine at the TESOL conference in Denver this past Saturday.  I had put my matted photos together at Greta and Dave’s place on a 4 x 8 feet quilt so that I knew how to space my photos out.  At first I wasn’t going to put any words than just the title “Ukraine’s History Matters: A Service Learning Success!” but then I thought I should identify some of the photos.  If I had had my own printer and other things with me, I would have done a nicer job with lettering by printing off my laptop.  As it was, this was for a nomad, like me, from Kazakhstan and easily transportable. I’m glad to be back in springtime weather in Almaty!!!

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Cold Sites in Denver, Colorado

Thanks to Perry and his hosting us, we were able to get around in the clunky snow Friday morning.  He took me to the light rail train which brought me to the conference center about 20 minutes later, then he picked me up when I was conferenced out.  I saw a friend of mine, Thom, from University of Minnesota days and also talked over Internet at the Electronic Village to Rick in Amman, Jordan.  Didn’t see my friend Colleen whom I see at EVERY TESOL conference I’ve gone to ever since we went together the first time to Vancouver in 1990.  Didn’t see Joy either but my main goal was to attend as many sessions as possible.  These are the COLD sites from Denver that turned into a warm, sunny day by the end of Friday.  Denver is so much like Almaty in its weather and views of the long mountain ranges in the horizon.

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Odd Sites Around Larkspur, Colorado

You could see the following photos  of odd sites anywhere in the U.S. besides just Larkspur, but I thought these were particularly funny to see.  No disrespect to Ken and his wonderful cousins whom we stayed with before driving up to Denver.  Thanks Greta and Dave!!!

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My Hometown* Ice and Snow (Part II)

My hero Dad is snowblowing out the snow that came down yesterday which thankfully slowed the river a bit, the other photos are taken by my hero Mom.  Meanwhile, nearly 1,000 miles away in Denver, Colorado which translates into about 14 hours of driving time to my hometown* in NW Minnesota, I am presenting a paper at the international TESOL conference  titled “Kazakhstan’s Orality vs. Infoliteracy.” 

My British friend, Wendy, always thought it strange that Americans use the word “hometown” when referring to their birthplace or home place orientation.  I suppose it is because our country is so big and there were so many small towns that if I were to say the name of my hometown, it would not register with anyone except those from the area.  Wendy thought it odd when she used to live in the U.S. and heard people say “My hometown” from a good friend of hers in Texas.  Now she knows. I just hope the people from my hometown can ride through this latest crisis of high waters.

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My Hometown Made National News

flood20002Glad I’m visiting relatives in beautiful Colorado and not in my hometown in northwestern Minnesota for a number of reasons, sub-zero cold, snow, ice and FLOODS!  Last night my hometown DID make the national news on TV.    Of course, with jetlag I was fast asleep and missed it but my husband told me they showed a photo of Roberts Street bridge that often gets jammed where ice junks complicate the river flow heading north. Flood scares dominate spring time all the way up to Canada for people living close to the Red River of the North.   You see, this river goes against the tide, it empties into the Hudson Bay in Canada where most all other rivers drop south.  Seems my parents “may not be out of the woods” yet as the river height hovers close to 25 feet.  (These photos are off the radio station KROX website.)

Just in case, I believe my folks brought everything up from their basement worth saving, if the dams had broken as predicted.  Ken and I, being in Colorado, could have been helping my folks if their home had been flooded but instead my Dad was out at our place working with our sump pump making sure our basement didn’t flood. (Thanks Dad!) People in the Red River Valley, who live there year round, are definitely my heroes! 

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Five Flipped Over Semi Trucks and Trailers

To experience 40 mph winds bucking you in your car is one thing when the speed limit is 70 mph, but to see semi trucks flipped over on the side of the road is quite another.  Very sobering site as we passed five such scenes going west on Hwy. 70 bound to Denver.  Too windy to roll down the window to take photos as we slowed down while state troopers swarmed the tragic scene, so none exist for this blog entry.  Similar to seeing a downed elephant, regal yet forlorn. I have high respect for these drivers and their rigs who crisscross the country with their loads, they are normally very good drivers.  I hope none of them died or were badly injured in what must have been empty trailers being caught in the strong gusts and then making the truck up front start to fishtail.  Later we saw three trucks and trailers driving on the shoulder of the road probably going 30 mph close to each other, gingerly since they probably had a deadline to make to return with their rigs, high winds or no.  

 

We also saw the wind farms that had their tall towers with the three propellers stopped.  That also looked a bit haunting through the thick, chestnut colored dust that was carried away from the farmers’ topsoil.  If the brakes had not been put on the props, they would have been spinning wildly in the severe wind and perhaps do more damage than good.  Looking at some of the farms as we passed on the highway sometimes at 60 mph or less, I wondered how they managed to eke out a living, things looked so dry.  Also, with all the wind that was there and the absolute dryness, I’m sure prairie fires had wreaked their damage to many a farmstead in the past.

 

Finally, what is notable about Russell, KS (besides being the birthplace of Robert Dole) was that they have a kind of limestone rock that farmers and rangers used for fence posts.  This rock was used because wood posts were so hard to find on the treeless prairie OR if they were used they would burn with the next prairie fire.  One could see them in the fields holding up the barbed wire fencing all along the way about 25 feet apart from each other standing about a yard high.  So this stretch of area grew rock instead of trees but also what is underneath is oil that is being dredged out.

 

We have four more hours to drive to get to Denver but the weather could turn worse with snow and sleet showers. Weather reports sound off with tornadoes and high winds behind us, blizzards north of us and floods to the northeast of us.  Wow, spring is coming in like a lion and going out like one!  I’ll keep you posted as to when we finally arrive into Colorado, this is becoming a perilous journey but my husband is an old hand when it comes to tricky driving up mountain passes.  It will start looking like Almaty, Kazakhstan the closer we get to our destination.

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Geocaching (Part II)

I suppose geocaching is for the yuppies to enjoy who own a Garmin GPS.  Also, for those computer geeks who live in the Twin Cities and other urban areas of the U.S. and Canada.  This phenomenon has spread throughout the world and there are different versions of it which started in 2000 after Y2K (remember that scare?).  The “Planet of the Apes” movie promoters began a kind of scavenger hunt with finding things from the movie located in different places.  Many different themes and varieties of geocaching, some are exclusively for kids, others are more challenging.  Needed: computer to check website for where the treasures are stashed, GPS and then good hiking boots to muck about in the woods.

The general rule of thumb for geocaching is to find the cache, replace something of equal or greater value in the container and sign the log book.  I had seen a name that had been written in as early as 2004 on one of the four places we located the other day.  Some are spoilers of this game who take the cache away from the location and then the computer website has to say that it is compromised.  Those people who do that are called “mufflers” if I understood my sister correctly.  She said that there is a city-wide family event coming up with a kind of competition to see who can find the most in the given amount of time. 

I think it is great that parents are doing this activity with their kids and they all LOVE it.  The good thing is to do these hunts in early spring before the leaves open out and the woodticks come out which makes it a bit more intimating.  How I HATE wood ticks!!!  LOVE my nephews, however!  Good work guys on finding the caches (pronounced cashes)!

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