Saturday, February 03, 2007

Power of the Pen , February 03, 2007 – Woodmore High School


“Cool and crisp Howard…winter ought to be cool and crisp…..”

Got up later than the usual crack of dawn this morning, knowing that the drive to the event today in Elmore Ohio would take only about half an hour to make. The sun was fully rising when I finally got my stuff together and was ready to head out (a little after 8 am) and the young one was just getting up to ready himself for an early day at work. He gave me his keys so I could move Viktor from behind is car, and I shouldered my supplies, trudged downstairs and headed out the front door, followed close behind by Woz.

Once outside, I found that the bright sunshine was very deceptive, and that the air was very cold. The sweatshirt (pink “Toledo Rockets” hoodie – one of two favs) was not nearly warm enough to be able spend more than a moment outdoors, which was my intention. Unfortunately, cars had other plans. Viktor started fine, and I moved him to the curb in front of the house to wait for the young one. I climbed into the four-door, gave a few pumps of the accelerator (not fuel injected!) and turned the key. There was a small surge of electricity into the passenger compartment, causing the lights to come on in the dashboard, the radio to come on (loudly, as is always my habit) and then there was NOTHING. All lights went off, the radio shut off, and another turn of the key…nothing AT ALL HAPPPENED. Panic, but only for a moment….I recalled the last time this happened…on a very cold night after work….a call to the firstborn informed me that the clamp/end on the battery cable was not perfect and tends to work loose from time to time. Thankfully I recalled that before I flew into the house and started a flaming rant at the firstborn or young one. I popped the hood, smooshed the clamp back down on the battery terminal, and went back to the driver seat to turn the key. Eureka….another disaster averted… amazing how, from time to time, those logical thinking skills kick in and really come in handy.

Let the car warm up for a few minutes and then off we went. I debated the merit of stopping for coffee or a bite to eat, and decided against it…usually there is food at these events, so I was not too concerned, and really not all that hungry either. Heading toward the expressway, I began to think the route through in my mind, and I realized that I would again be driving the slalom course under the bridge construction(insert link for the bridge here). With the brilliant sunshine and blue sky as my backdrop, I thought it would be ridiculous for me NOT to get the camera out, so, while driving, I located the purse-thingy that I have been carrying my stuff in and set about digging for the camera. In the largest compartment, along with cell phone, Blackberry, eyeglass case and other miscellany, I finally located the case. To dislodge it from the other things, much juggling was done (driving still, you will recall), but I had the camera available in plenty of time to snap a few more photos to enhance my growing collection of bridge pictures. The sun enhanced the “coolness factor” of the structure in progress, but the twists and turns of the roadway underneath (as well as the traffic sharing the pavement with me) precluded me from taking many more photos that I wanted….I look forward to my second opportunity to present itself on the way home. I also want to take a few photos of the community of Elmore to share with you…it is a very quaint “small town”, in the old style…it is nice to see these places from time…harkening to a time long past for most of us.

I arrived at the high school with plenty of time to spare and located the tabulation room, located on the second floor with the help of strategically placed signs in the main hallways. When I entered the room, I approached a woman (Holly) who appeared, by her demeanor and behaviour to be “in charge”….I was indeed correct in my assumption. She was coordinating the judges, tab room volunteers and giving instruction for all the folks about their responsibilities. She directed me to the computer “lab” area in the library, and I selected a large blank space where some computers had been removed (doubtless pulled for service) to get things ready. (Aside – as I sat in the lab area and looked at the condition of equipment, the furniture, etc, I had a serious flood of déjà vu for many of the labs in the old district – systems in disrepair or notes on them not to use – no insult intended, just the problems of lots of stuff and not enough bodies to take care of it all)

In listening to her presentation as I set up my equipment, I learned that she has been working on these events since her daughter was a participant, and now her daughter assists her in managing events, since she is no longer a participant. She was very businesslike and kept to a very tight schedule. She quickly provided the training, and assigned a person to me to read scores. This is the first event of the year that I have had a reader for (only second event, though) and it really is the way that the score entry is SUPPOSED to be done, although I have also done it on my own. We will have some time to kill until data entry will begin, so I am writing and she is grading papers….I think we will get along just fine. Off now to take a few photos of the tab room….back a little later, after some data entry, which is sure to begin soon.

Finally decided that I would talk to the lovely lady that made sure that I had clear space on the counter in the lab area and also who had also cleaned up the dust bunnies for me, to see if I could get online. My cursory try at it indicated to me a couple things…1) this district is probably NOT running DHCP and 2) Filtering of some sort is definitely in place. I asked the person who talked to me earlier (who I am guessing it the IT person, since her “office” looked much like “The Hole” filled with equipment in various stages of “repair”) if I she could help me make a connection to the network. She came to my machine, changing both the brower proxy settings and the NIC properties for the local address, subnet mask, gateway and DNS. Their filtering, I am finding, is very stringent….no access to free sites of any sorts, including those that host photos, sites that facilitate Instant Messenging, Instant Messaging clients that run from the machine level, and blogs (dang!) Interestingly enough however, IS available, so privately hosted sites on regular hosting services appear not to be filtered.

Scores are coming now so surfing is over….back with more later…
I had the very distinct pleasure of working with the lovely and talented Catherine Downing, from Bellevue Schools, who had students here and helped me as my reader to expedite data entry. She made the day go very quickly and the data entry a breeze…such a cool person to get to know…and come to find out she lives in my home town and was at a PoP event last year that I scored. With her assistance, we were done with data entry and processing way before the judges evaluating “Best of Round”, so now here I am waiting for that information so I can print the final reports and close the database for the last time. I will wait till I get home to email the results files to Frank at Power of the Pen headquarters; much easier that way and less likely to make any errors on my part.

While we were doing data entry for the final round, my cell phone rang…it was the young one calling to make sure that I was careful on the way home. The weather here turned from clear and dry to horrible very quickly….I had not paid any attention to the conditions out the windows in the media center until he called. The photos in the current Flickr album show the blowing snow and how much the conditions had changed. I am not looking forward as I was before to the drive home; the rural roads are likely to be treacherous, with the blowing snow, and I am not keen on the idea of running off the road in the middle of nowhere so I will be driving tense and extra cautious (may not even take pictures!) on the way home.

Although I am still waiting now, I will close this for the time being….perhaps to add more once home in one piece, but more likely to post and upload photos when I get home, then pass out for a well earned bit of a nap.

LATER - Enjoy...the photos are up on Facebook and Flickr...check em out!

Bye for now...much love to you...