Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Holidays

Some towns just seem to have a natural association with the holiday season:
  • North Pole, Alaska
  • Santa Claus Indiana
  • Santa Claus, Georgia
  • Noel, Missouri
  • Rudolph, Wisconsin
  • Dasher, Georgia
  • Snowflake, Arizona
  • Holly Springs, Mississippi
  • Mount Holly, North Carolina

No matter where you live, have a safe and blessed holiday season.

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Bit More Christmas Trivia

OK, maybe it's not trivia. It's the cold-hard truth, compliments of the Census Bureau.
  • U.S. Christmas tree farmers sold $493.3 million of Christmas trees in 2007.
  • The U.S. imported $593.8 million of Christmas tree ornaments from China between January and August of this year.
  • China also shipped $66.2 million worth of artificial Christmas trees to the U.S.
  • 96 establishments across the U.S. manufactured dolls and stuffed toys (2006), employing 2,410 people. And we wonder why we have to import so much stuff??
  • At least 691 businesses producing games, toys and children's vehicles existed in the U.S. in 2006.
  • Total value of shipments for dolls, toys and games by U.S. manufacturers (2006) totaled $3.4 billion, but....
  • U.S. toy imports (stuffed toys (not including dolls), puzzles, and electric trains and other popular gifts) from China totaled $4.9 billion. I'll break it down....
  • $42 million = roller skates
  • $136 million = athletic footwear
  • $638 million = golf equipment
  • #31 million = basketballs

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Copycat Experiment

Need help defining character or setting? Read my suggestions at WOW! Women on Writing.

Marco Torres - interview

Yesterday I interviewed Marco Torres, a global educator from Los Angeles. He was in O'Neill, Nebraska, to help the school start their Challenge-Based Learning (CBL) pilot study.

Check out my story at the Norfolk Daily News.

Holiday Statistics - Part 2

In December 2007, the dollar amount of retail sales in department stores totaled $30.5 billion. This was a 42 percent jump from the previous month (21.5 billion).

The Census Bureau stated that sizable gains in sales between November and December 2007 were noted in book stores (78 %), clothing stores (37 %), jewelry stores (137 %), radio, TV and electronics stores (46%) and sporting goods retailers (53%).

I usually give each person on my list a book for the holiday season. It makes sense; I'm a writer. :) Plus, I am one in a family of voracious readers.

If you have a person on your list who enjoys the Harry Potter series, check out The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling. I know one of my daughters will be happy that I pre-ordered it from Amazon. :)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Holiday Facts - Part 1

The U.S. Postal Service expected to deliver 20 billion pieces of mail between Thanksgiving and Christmas during the 2007 holiday season. The busiest mailing day? December 17, as more than three times the average daily volume of cards and letters were mailed.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Substitute Teaching... an interesting venture. First, you might be called to teach in a school system where you don't know anyone.

Such is the case I'm in today. Yes, I'm subbing for a school that's relatively close to home - only 21 miles from my garage to this school's front door - but I really don't know anyone here. A couple kids know me because I interviewed one for a newspaper I work for and the other is related to some good friends. Otherwise, I have no really vested interest in the school.

This makes for an interesting day. Now I'm not saying I'm just here for the paycheck. I like when a teacher leaves me something to actually DO during the day instead of feeling like a glorified babysitter. Make that an 85-dollar-for-the-day babysitter.

But honestly, I subbed here yesterday afternoon and will be here all day. I finished the YA novel Thirteen Reasons Why and I've written two web articles for a company I write for. Yes, and now I'm blogging. (Oops, almost busted by the superintendent; of course, I'm really not doing anything wrong...)

And I'm not saying the kids here are disrespectful, because with the exception of a sixth grader commenting on one (er...make that two) of my womanly features yesterday, they've all been pretty decent kids. They work when I ask them to. They are fairly quiet. And, they have excellent taste in music that they've been playing (it helps to sub for the computer teacher).

But it is interesting that some teachers just leave "busy work" when they will be absent. Hey, fellow teachers, I know how to teach, so why not let me do something!! I may not be the best at teaching calculus or physics, but I have been trained to teach and I'm quick on my feet, so give me something to do.