Monday, July 30, 2007

Here's my first Graduate Program video project!

Please note that this was filmed with my kodak v510 digital photo camera (that also has video, but no mic input and we had no tripod.) If my students are reading this, I had no tripod available. The quality isn't that great but I hope you find it funny, feel free to laugh at me, everyone else does (see post below.)

Sunday, July 29, 2007

If you hate heights - avoid cable cars!

This is my advice to all others like me who are afraid of heights. Here's a little back ground, I have never been a fan of heights from the days of not being able to jump off the high dive as a kid, to hating driving over bridges as an adult. My fear has not seemed to simmer with time, it seems to get progressively worse. Hence this weekend

So this weekend with the gang (our 7:11 running club) we took a bus to the French Town of Chamonix (pronouned ShA-mo-knee.) In the winter it is a huge Alpine skiing resort and in the summer it is a great little tourist town, great for hikers and mountain climbers. It also has access to Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Europe, it's 4,808 meters high. From Charmonix you can take a cable car up to 3842 meters, about 13,000 feet. And that's what the group decided to do, I gave some subtle protests, but my husband gave me the look that said don't be a baby, you are going. And despite my best effort to convince everyone that we should take the train to the glacier first, I did not protest enough. The next thing I know I am waiting in line to board a cable car.

As I wait to board this cable car, I get this over whelming fear as everyone else is laughing and joking about it falling. Yuck, yuck, yuckity... The next thing I know, I am crying under my sunglasses, trying not to be noticed. Which became difficult do to the fact that the tears, where now rolling down my cheek. I get on the cable car, and firmly plant myself on the pole. Then I try to calm down, which didn't happen. I am not sob (the silent kind) trying not to draw attention to my ridiculousness. All of the group, including my husband who realized that I was not faking the fear, started to promise me things. By the end of the ride I had two outfits from Anthropologie and they don't need to be on sale. So then other people on the cable car who had started to not really paid attention to me because they were looking out the windows to the spectacular views, now noticed this silly American with sunglasses on and tears pouring down her face. They begin to point and laugh at me. Yes, it is humiliating. I am starting to be able to laugh at it, but so far it's only a small chuckle. Not nearly as funny as anyone else finds it.

What I didn't know about this cable car trip is it isn't just one cable car. You get to a certain point and then get off and head to another immediately to head further up the mountain. I was horrified. The second trip was even more terrifying than the first, why well now we are over cliffs of rock that are straight down drops 100s of meters. It was windy and when we finally get to the top the car slammed into the side of the mountain, and everyone gasped as I almost collapsed to the floor. As soon as the doors opened I was off of that car as fast as possible.

I get off this cable car and what do I have to do, cross a freaking wooden bridge thousands of feet up in the air and the worst part is you can see holes in this bridge. It was like my worst nightmare. Everyone else is la-de-dah fine, because clearly I am only nut job on the trip. They are all walking around the mountain on these wooden decks that hang off the side of the mountain. No thank you! I stayed in the cave. Then after about 15 minutes, I said screw this, I am heading for the cafeteria/bar. This is Europe so every cafeteria serves beer and that is exactly what I needed. I had several, one of every flavor. Yes it was only noon, but desperate times calls from desperate measures. I have learned if you have a true fear and you let your husband talk you into taking a cable car up a freaking mountain and there is no way to get off this mountain besides going back down in the cable car and I couldn't live there, I needed to get some courage to get back down. So I opted for liquid kind. And it helped. I was scared on the way down but no more tears.

We actually stopped on the way down and went hiking. That I really enjoyed. We ended up at the blue lake, which is glacier water. Robert (pronounced Robear) from Ohio and Joe (aka Dusty Booth) also from Ohio, where the only ones brave enough to wade in, I did not. But I think I would have liked to do more hiking but we had to get back to the train station to catch our bus. Our 108 Chf bus, with a very cranky baby, who cried the entire 1.5 hour ride home.

Once we got back to town, we walked around the cute little shops. I really liked the town and could have spent more time there and less time on the freaking cable car. But who is keeping track. Despite everything, I really had a good time and I am really enjoying my new fun friends.

So how do we top off our trip up the mountain, well today we spent 4 hours at the laundromat in the red light district. Yes there are only two laundromats in Geneva, and only one is open on Sunday. It was really interesting to watch all the ladies of the nights walk by on Sunday. Our favorite was the Granny Tranny. There is more to come but it is 12 am and I need to get up by 7:11 in order to maintain my status in the club. (Pictures to follow.)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

A Classroom with a View

So we have spent the last couple days in the class. We are learning a lot. We did a video project this week with partners along with learning a new web language called Ruby on Rails. We are also have visits from possible partners from Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) in Geneva. In the program: Technology in Education: Global Program we will be partnering up with world organizations to create i
nteractive media experiences. This week we have been talking to possible partners and learning what they do and how we could possibly help them. It has been very interesting, but at the same time a little overwhelming. Because we have to decide what our project is in the next couple days.

Last night we had a very nice reception here with some of our partners, the interim chancellor of UofM Flint, our professors, the Director of the John Knox Center and the list goes on. We had wonderful food and drink. Then we did a tele-press-conference with the with Dean of our school and some of the other University officials back in Flint. You can read more about it on the Flint Journal site. During the press conference one of our professors asked me to get up and speak about the program. And in turn I was quoted in the paper. Oh yes, I am internationally famous, as if you didn't know that already, clearly you are hear reading this blog. The picture to the right is one of Bruce and my new friends: Meghan & Karyn.

So while I have been in Switzerland I have learned a few things: I love dark chocolate,
everywhere you walk in Switzerland is up hill and I love SKYPE. Yes, if you don't have skype get it. It is better than AIM instant messenger and MSN. Why, you may ask. Well because it has the best smiley's. Here is a small example of the greatness.

So one and all join skype today, because we can talk over the internet for free along with chatting. You can find me at well Jennie Holladay. Well I better get to bed because I am tired and I had a rough morning this morning. Too much free wine.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Swiss Slugs

It's been pretty raining since we arrived in Switzerland. And I have learned that when it rains in Switzerland the slugs come out, yes slugs. When I say slug please think large dog turd sized slugs. When it rains the slugs slither out and fill the sidewalks. I mean the first night I was like oh my word there is dog poop everywhere. I was quickly informed that it was not dog logs, but hundreds of slimy slugs slithering their way across the sidewalk. It's kind of like the earthworms in the Michigan, but I must admit this is way more disgusting. Because the slugs leave a path of slim on the sidewalk and look like dog poop.

Other than the slugs we are having a lot of fun! We are currently learning to program with ruby on rails, it's a different way to create web pages. It's complicated, I hope that I will start to understand it by later this week. The Interim Chancellor arrived in Geneva tonight. We are having a big reception tomorrow night. These past two days have been really class intensive so I haven't done much touristy stuff. The running club continued this morning, we even grew by one. However we have changed the time to 7:11 so now we must change the name to the 711 club.

We are also planning a group trip to the mountains. Bruce and I have made some fast fun friends: there's Calumet Tony, my Little Pony Megan and Karyn. (The pony story I will save for later.) We planned our trip over ice cream tonight.

Right now I am blogging while I am waiting for the dryer to dry our laundry. It's really hard to write these blogs because there are so many people in the room and it turns out I am easily distracted.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Breaking News from Geneva!

Tyra Banks has signed with the New CW until 2010 to produce America's Next Top Model! How exciting, I know you are all looking here for news from Geneva, but I figured that this news was just as important. This information is courtesy of Perez Hilton! Oh what great news....
Exploring Geneva
We started class today, but this weekend we have spent a lot of time exploring Geneva. Yesterday almost everything is closed in Geneva. The only things that are open on Sundays are museums and restuarants. Bruce and I headed to the Art Museum with our new friend Maxine, who's in our class. Maxine resides in Grand Cayman. The art museum was nice, but not spectacular. I actually enjoyed the modern art the most. The picture above is Bruce waiting for the bus in the rain. It was our first day exploring Geneva and we went out without an umbrella and of course it started raining. As we were waiting for the bus, it was the only stop without shelter, Bruce found a creative way to stay dry. This morning we started a running club, we are calling it the 720 running club because we meet at 7:20 am. We decided this as we were coming back from an outdoor concert at midnight. We have about 6 people actually wake-up and go. I hope we keep it going, I imagine the longer we are hear the less energy we will have.

Today we are in class. It's a lot to absorb when it comes to coding. Today we start digital video, that's something I hope I can handle.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

We Made It!

This morning we arrived in Geneva after a very long international flight, but hey aren't they all long, well unless you are flying to Canada then for us at least it's not so long. The Geneva airport was really easy to fly into then we took a cab and headed off to the John Knox Center (JKC.) Bruce and I have a nice room. We took a nap, longer than expected but not too long. Then we took off to get some food, get a SIM card for Bruce's Ebay cell phone and eat.

We didn't really know where we were going. Everyone was either gone or asleep when we left for the city. So we started walking and hoped that we find the bus stop. Once we found it we took it. Then we got closer to downtown and started walking. We walked through some interesting parts of town you know that parts with the sex shops. Once we found the shopping district we had a great time. We our way to the nice shopping district. We found our first chocolate shop where I had to sample some of course. It was delicious. Then we found a nice place to eat, but it was slow as slow could be, but we were thankful to rest our feet. Then we had some pizza and headed for home. Now we are back that JKC and forcing ourselves to stay up a little longer with hopes that we will wake up tomorrow with no signs of jet lag.

No pictures because I forgot the cable at home, Bruce and I are hoping someone may have a kodak camera with them because their connectors are like no other.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Bon Voyage!

Bruce and I leave for our European Adventure today. Stay tuned to the TiVo Changed My Life Blog for updates! Switzerland here we come.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Four weeks of clothes!

Oh Calumet...

Ok, I have been back from up north for a while but I finally was able to get this video edited down and uploaded to YouTube. It's my cousin's expression of why they love Old Calumet. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Travelin' Blues

Last night, Olive, Angie & I went to Steve's Place, a bar next to St. Andrew's Hall, to see our new friend Travelin' Blues play. Who is Travelin' Blues? Well his first name is Steve but he goes by Travelin' Blue. We first saw him play in March when G. Love brought him up on stage at St. Andrew's Hall. Then we saw him again when we went to Cleveland to see G. Love and Special Sauce. In May, Olive and I tracked him down to be part of my biggest fan video. So you should recognize him, I am sure he's the reason, that I won! We ran into Steve again this week in Toledo and Grand Rapids at the G. Love and Special Sauce concerts.

At that moment, Olive and I decided that we needed to see Steve play in Detroit. So we went to see Steve play at Steve's Place a little bar next to St. Andrew's Hall that seems to be frozen in time. We sat and talked with Travelin' Blue while Steve the owner who had to be in his late 70's to early 80's waited on us.
Before we left Travelin' Blue played the blues, there were just a handful of people in the bar, but the crowd loved every minute.

So here's my plug for Travelin Blue, go see him play. He plays on Monroe Street at the edge of Greektown closest to I-375 and every weekend you can see him play at Steve's Place. If you love the blues, which I do, go see Travelin' Blue. He will play for you and you will become a fan too, I promise.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

G. Love Gives Love to DMT

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Backstage with G. Love

For those of you who think I get too long winded here is the cliff note version: the concert was great, he recognized me, we went backstage we talked for a little while and we went home.

Now for the more detailed events of the day in no particular order:

The concert was at this very small unusual venue. When we pulled up I thought it may be a roller rink. (We later came to find out that they are working out new music that is why they are playing these smaller venues.) But anyway it was hot, but Olive and I planted ourselves in the FRONT ROW as usual. We meet some other G. Love devotees from Detroit. And I was even recognized by another fan, yes I was mildly famous at the G. Love concert.

The other great thing was Steve the Travelin' Blues Man was there and we got a chance to say hi to him when he arrived. He recognized us too. He played a set before the show, which was awesome.

Then after Steve: G.Love and Special Sauce came out on stage. The coolest part of the night was when he looked right at me and then had that look like, hey I know you. So all night during the concert he made me feel special pointing, singing to me and grabbing my hand. He even played Holla! and came straight to me to sing along. Oh did I forget to mention that I got a hug and a kiss on the cheek during the song. All the other girls were so jealous. It was a great show, but it was a hot one!

After the show, we tracked down members of the crew to let them know that I was the winner. Most of them were like what? But then we finally found someone who knew kind of what we were talking about and pulled us to this backstage area, that was actually a small room the size of a large walk-in closet. Steve was sitting in there waiting to talk to G. Love. Then after a couple of minutes: G. Love came in. He was really cool. We talked about my video and how he liked the student participation. He made sure to ask me if I had seen his comment on my video. I even got him to do a little video giving my kids a shout out. Then he talked to Steve for a bit about playing in Grand Rapids tonight. We had a chance to chat with their new tour manager Brian the surfer from California. He had seen the video. He entertained us while G. Love was talking to Steve and got us something to drink. After G & Steve were done negotiating. We took some pictures and he was on his way. It wasn't too long, but it was nice.

We also chatted with Frank, the guy who sells all the G. Love merchandise at the shows. He actually recognized me from the video. So we chatted about the video and he gave me a bunch of stickers for my students.

After that met Houseman. We had a really intriguing conversation about the difference between Reggae and Rock Steady. Which I must admit I still don't have the exact dates of when Rock Steady music actually happened in Jamaica. (Olive just added that she now knows it started in mid-1963 and went until the late 60's) I just know, it was after ska and before reggae. He took some pictures with us too and then we were on our way back to Michigan.

It's a surprise that we arrived at this concert venue at all. Why? It all started with an accident on I-75 and detours for miles. We were sitting in the car saying at this rate we will never get to Toledo. Once we finally managed to get by all the traffic nonsense we headed towards Tiffin? Yes that's right Tiffin, Ohio. Why? Well because google told me to. I was in a hurry when I was leaving Attica and we were out of black toner so I couldn't print. So I quickly emailed Olive the directions from my google search of "Headliners Toledo" and the directions said to go to Tiffin. So we are thinking that Tiffin is clearly a suburb of Toledo. But then talking to Todd (our Ohio expert) he mentioned that there was a University in Tiffin, so we were like oh that makes sense. So when we drove through Toledo and started heading into miles of fields of soybeans and cornfields we were like ok, well there is a University there. Only to drive an hour southeast of Toledo to find out the address we had was for a beauty salon. The people at the local dairy queen looked at us as if we were insane! To be honest I kept asking myself why we didn't think we were going the wrong way sooner. The answer I have too much trust in google. I can't believe google let me down. But it turns out if we hadn't had our detour we would have gotten there really hours early and the place was not in the middle of downtown so there would have been nothing to do, except visit the adult bookstore down the street.

Tonight we head to Grand Rapids. I am excited, but I am a little sad, because I feel like my day in the sun is over. The contest after glow is gone and now I am back to being the regular anonymous super fan that I have been for the last 10 years.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

This is not Toledo this is more like Tiffin, Ohio!
More Jennie, Olive & G. Love

Tonight Olive and I travel to Toledo for the beginning of our latest installment of G. Love and Special Sauce concerts! Yes, we will be seeing the band in Toledo and Grand Rapids. The best part of this trip is that as part of winning the ultimate fan contest means I get to go backstage and take a friend (of course Olive.) So tonight we will get to meet G. Love and Special Sauce backstage. I have never been "backstage" at a concert, so that is very cool in itself.

This is very exciting but it is also a major problem, because well if you haven't figured it out by now I am somewhat of a dork and unless G. Love has a warm spot in his heart for big geeks, this could be disastrous. Yes the last time we got to meet G. Love it was just a meet and greet, (he was super nice) but there was no expectation than a conversation lasting more than oh maybe a minute or two, but there is potential here for a longer conversation which could mean much more embarrassing incident. Also the plan is to go back stage at tonight's concert, however if that doesn't go well, clearly I will not want to be in the front row of tomorrow night's concert for fear of being spotted, but let's just hope and pray that isn't the case. Stay tuned as the drama unfolds right here on the TiVo Changed my Life Blog.
Bald Eagle = 50 Bucks

Ok, while growing up my mom often played games with us, mainly to keep us quiet. One of our favorite games involved car rides and money, hey what can I say we were kids. My mom told us for every red wing blackbird we saw (of course with her confirmation) she would give us a penny, not much, but when you are little, it's the 1980's a penny and you are riding in the car for hours, it can shut you up. However the stakes did get bigger a white tailed deer sighting would get you $1. Yes, a whole dollar, but you had to see the deer first and mom had to confirm it. It used to be a $1 a deer until my sister saw a heard of 20 and the rule quickly changed to a $1 a sighting. The next big bounty really jumped if we saw a moose it was $20, well there are not moose in the lower part of Michigan so that one was saved for our trips to Calumet. To this day no one has seen a wild moose. (yes I forgot to mention these animals must be in the wild, it did not count at the zoo.) But the big money is in the bald eagle, it was $50 for a bald eagle, however the sighting had to be confirmed by animal expert Pat Sahakian herself.

Well it took until 2007 but the Eagle has been spotted by me and confirmed by mom. And you maybe thinking why Jennie you are much too old for this game, but the answer is NO. Hey I have been working all my life to spot a Bald Eagle, I can't tell you how many hundreds of hours of car rides I had my eyes peeled to the sky with just the hopes of seeing the majestic bird so that I could go shopping and get some new clothes. This trip to Calumet finally paid off and my mom was a good sport too, because she paid up. (I have not yet spent the $50, I am thinking about framing it.)

I first saw the eagle soaring above Great Sand Bay on the shoreline of Lake Superior. Between two towns Eagle Harbor and Eagle River. Now my mom has been going to these areas nearly all her life (if you ask her grandson that is 22 years, but the rest of us know that she is a little older than that) and she has never seen an eagle in Eagle Harbor or Eagle River. So don't think I am taking this sweet lady through the ringer! The one ironic thing is the girl who is usually with camera in tow on vacation, did not take her camera down the big sand dune to the beach, which meant all we had was my mom's camera phone, which did not work because we couldn't zoom in far enough to make it look less than a dot.

However, my mom has made a new rule only one Eagle spotting in a lifetime (yes rules are subject to change at anytime in these games.) So I have seen my first and last $50 eagle, but it was worth every hour of sky gazing. It was really cool and of course I am now $50 richer! But Krista and Kevin you can still be a winner, so keep your eyes on the sky!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Weekend at the Camp

It was the last weekend up north in Copper Country. The Keewenaw Pennisula is just north of everywhere, you would never go there unless you meant to, because it doesn't lead to anywhere else. That is "God's Country" as my grandpa would call it, he and my grandmother where born and raised there. So every year we head north to visit our relatives, who NEVER and I mean NEVER come south of the bridge: the bridge being the Mackinac Bridge. But if you ask my cousins they don't like to go south of the Bridge that connects the Keewenaw to the rest of the upper pennisula.

Well this weekend we got to spend some quality time with my cousins Babe, Sherri & her husband Clark and of course my Auntie Shirley. You can't help but have a good time in their company. They invited us out to Boot Jack to their camp, downstate you would probably call it a cabin or a lake house maybe even a beach house, but up north it is clearly a camp. It is the kind of camping that even I can embrace, because well I doesn't involve a tent.

Well they showed us a wonderful time with too many good things to eat and drink. I never made it out into the lake because well I don't canoe.

Another highlight of our weekend was going to the Chassell Strawberry Festival to watch the queen competition. My cousin (twice removed - you get my drift - it seems that we are related to everyone in someway) was in the pagent. We really had a good time listening to the girls answer their on the spot questions like what would you take if you could only have one thing on a deserted island. Some girls said a book, pictures of their family, a survival guide, but I myself would have said: Chassell Strawberries, come on it's the strawberry festival, it would have totally been the winning answers, but no one said that or a bible, which frankly surprised me. But funny how no one asked me to judge. Beth Ann (she is in light blue) did not win, but she made the family proud!

I am now safely back home after a very long ride in the minivan with my parents (Bruce came home earlier.

Great sand bay

I saw a bald eagle today which means my mom paid me fifty dollars, I will explain later!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Up North! Way Up North!

Well it's my families yearly trek to the north, when I say north, I am talking as far north as it gets in Michigan, up to the Copper Country in the U.P. (Upper Pennisula.) My mom's family is from here and we all stay at the family home also known as "the shaft" (because of it's location on Red Jacket Shaft Rd.) Time up north is spent treking to all the favorite locations the beach, copper harbor and of course all of our favorite places to eat.

But this year was a bit disappointing, why well Bruce and I quickly made our way to Lindell's Lunches in Lake Linden. It's on e of those great places with the stand glass lights and beautiful wood. There is lunch, candies, chocolates and of course ice cream. We arrived and parked down the street aways but as we approached we new something was wrong there was no cute display in the window. To our shock and disappointment it was closed. We later found out from the relatives that they had a hard time finding help so they shut down at the end of tourist season last year with the promise to reopen in May, but they never opened. This is truly a disappointment! We can only hope and pray that this is a one year thing and it will be back open next year!

Tomorrow we will be heading to Copper Harbor to watch the fireworks, tonight after some interneting we will be heading to Shutes for Karoke with the fam! The good times never end!