Category Archives: Education

CNN, Memories, and a Shirt

SUshirtWM5025I confess, in my several months of confinement in medical facilities and at home, I’ve become a hopeless news junkie. The current scandal is about sketchy courses for athletes at the University of North Carolina. The so-called “paper classes” did not require attendance and had no professors – students just got a good grade. When at Syracuse University, I was required to take one science class, so I signed up for Physics 101. Upon entering the huge lecture hall, I saw a lot of really big guys. The course material was below high school level. The students called it “football physics.” I did my work and got an A.

What made me think about my connection to this breaking news was an old SU t-shirt. I bought it from the college catalog in the early 1980’s, crammed into the back of a drawer, as I became too fat to wear it. It fits great now because I’ve lost 80 pounds. I’m thinking that UNC is not the only college padding their teams.

Einstein.

Every once in a while you’ll hear me say how smart my boys are….and then, one of them will say something like, “Well, obviously that goat is a boy.”

And my bubble is burst.

And…to make matters worse, I’m pretty sure the goat to the far right was teasing him…and the goat in the middle was snickering.

“Did you hear what that kid said?  He thinks Gertrude over here is a boy.”

“LOL”

So much for the Topsfield Fair being a learning experience.

IMG_9632

What’s Happening at GHS

What’s Happening at GHS 10/8/14

Senior College Planning Night will be offered in the lecture hall at Gloucester High School on Thursday October 9, at 6:30pm. The Guidance Staff will present valuable information on the college selection and admission process. All Senior’s and their parents are requested to attend.

The Guidance Counselors have begun meeting with all seniors to ensure all of the planning and preparation of last year is progressing on target and make any changes or modifications to their college and career plans.

The PSAT’s will be offered at GHS on October 15, 2014 for all juniors and any sophomores who may be interested. This practice opportunity for the SAT’s is a wonderful time to begin thinking about the entire college application and acceptance process. To register for the PSAT, a payment of $22 (cash only) may be deposited with Mrs. Mondello before school, during lunch or after school.

Any parent interested in their own log on and account for our Naviance Family Connection on line website may call their child’s Guidance Counselor for log on access to assist your students in the College search and application process.

SAT’s will be offered at Gloucester High School this Saturday. Please ensure that your students are
well rested, have their admission ticket, a valid picture ID, at least two pencils, a calculator, a small snack, and are on time for this College Admissions testing experience. 

“A new social media app has just come to our attention.  The app is called Street Chat.  Anyone can post photographs and messages, and anyone nearby can make comments, anonymously, and post on it. If people were to use this app with compassion, empathy and thoughtful reflection, this could be a pretty cool app that fosters positive creativity and cooperation, but just like other social media sites and apps, when used irresponsibly it becomes a social media problem. Unfortunately, it is being used to post hurtful and offensive messages. While I hope we will soon have it shut down from within, at present we have no way to shut it down from without.  However, we are actively partnering with the Gloucester police department and other authorities to expose, and hold accountable, users of this app who may have bullied or harassed another, or have otherwise broken the law.  Violators will be subject to both school and legal consequences.” Erik Anderson, Principal GHS

Guidance Department 978-281-9874

O’Maley 3D Printer Make-a-Thon, An Endurance Event for Nerds

O’Maley 3D Printer Make-a-Thon, An Endurance Event for Nerds

by Jim Dowd

Photos by Martin DelVecchio

Here’s the scene: I’m sitting at a table in my daughter’s middle school with a pile of neatly laid-out parts that look like  IKEA decided to make electronics. I’m surrounded by dear friends and fellow community members along with teachers and administrators. We’ve all visited the elaborate coffee station set up in a corner and have consumed enough caffeine to make our pupils vibrate at the rate of purely theoretical particles. The atmosphere is, to be honest, tense as there are 27 such piles on tables distributed at regular intervals around the library. Our job is to transform them into cutting-edge technology for the students. Also, there are pastries.

Dave Brown oversees our team with understandable concern

The machines everyone is going to try and build are 3D printers, something hardly anyone in the room has ever seen before. It would be like grabbing a random selection of people from the sidewalk bazaar and saying, “Lets go up to O’Maley and build two dozen flying waffle irons!” But besides stacking the bench with a few tech-whiz ringers, School Technology Specialist Dave Brown and Science teacher Amy Donnelly did essentially just that: they put out an open call to the public to build 27 of these babies over the course of a weekend.

No experience necessary.

The parts and instructions are here, take a look. Sound like a risky plan?

There are no printed instructions. On each table there is a laptop. We’re told to click on the videos and do what the narrator says, but it’s loud in the library and the built-in laptop speakers suck. The video narrator/instructor is a dude named “Colin” …How does one say this? He sounds sort of like that guy in high school who could make his own electric guitars, but kinda sorta spent a lot of time in that one bathroom with “Bob Marley Lives!” carved into the door, if you know what I mean.

Colin is not the most concise of fellows and occasionally does essential tasks offscreen and apparently does not know how to edit his videos. Each one is an exceptionally long take of him going, “Uh, OK, that was sort of wrong, so undo that last part…” He’s like your college roommate on Saturday night after you’ve been studying all day and he’s been “hanging out” and now he’s trying to explain Kirkegaard to you. Colin is a genius to be sure and you love the guy, but you and he are on different planes of reality right now.

Maggie and Joe listen to Colin with earned skepticism

We sixty-odd caffeine-buzzing volunteers lean into the laptops and follow as best we can, trying not to screw up, because we’re building the printers for a new lab at the O’Maley Innovation Middle School (motto: Yes, innovation!) and these are notoriously finicky beasts.  The kits were donated by the Gloucester Education Foundation [give them moneyz!]. The assembling was donated by local educators, administrators and community members. Food donated by local restaurants and bakeries. Ironic T-shirts worn by many participants courtesy of the Internet.

Amy and David are the Field Marshals trying to make all this happen and work. They have taken a tremendous risk in the community-build approach and bear an enormous burden as the hours tick too quickly by and we’re all holding up parts going, “What the crap did Colin say about cutting away extraneous plastic on the extruder gear axle assembly?” They dash about, distributing advice and trying to allay fears. But by Saturday afternoon, 11 hours in, only two of the kits are laying down plastic. The rest of us are tangled up in wire harnesses, “Z-axis motor stops” and fretting the tension of our belt drives. Long light starts to shine in through the windows as the sun descends.

WAIT, BACK UP. WHAT THE HELL IS A 3D PRINTER AND WHY SHOULD ANYONE CARE?

As Scruffy McNerdman testifies in the vid, 3D printing is technology overturning the way we make and use things. It will have massive implications as we move from the crude printers of today to cheaper and much higher resolution devices of tomorrow, where it will be possible to print standard objects but also food, medical devices, electronics and even human organs (there are over 100 people today with 3D printed soft tissue organs).

A quick example of how a future version of this technology will impact every one of our lives:

There are things I hate about my minivan. Not just that it makes me look like a khaki-wearing suburban soccer dad who owns a ride-on lawnmower and the Billy Joel boxed set. What I really hate about it is that the interior is clearly designed for the boringest people on Earth. First of all, the beverage holder is designed for a ‘Big Gulp’ sized soda and is thus so vast any normal-sized drink I put in there is bound to spill and create a disgusting crust resembling the interior of the spaceship in the movie Alien. It also has a built-in soda cooler because of course more soda (there should be space for a portable dialysis machine with all the soda infrastructure this car has). It has carpets for people who apparently enjoy lounging around in their car barefoot. It has all of one USB charging port. On long car trips our daughter Rebecca is designated DJ and she has to run a cord from the dashboard to her back seat so she can run the music system from her tablet because the makers of this vehicle assumed the adults in the front are the ones who should be picking the music for a van full of tweens and teens. The people who designed this van are not from this planet.

Our family is not being optimally served by the current setup. The one USB port is a hassle for a family who won’t go the other side of town without enough smartphones, tablets and laptops to run a mid-sized advertising agency. Everything we do seems to involve mud, snow and dirt: beach, soccer, hikes in the woods. We have bikes, boats, a collie who likes to roll around in any disgusting thing she finds and my wife goes to Aprilla Farms weekly and loads the whole interior up with some kind of gourd or beet or root or dirty brown knobby thing that’s supposed to be good for you. We basically need a combination of a Subaru and the US Army 2.5 ton utility truck with its own IT infrastructure.

In not too long (sooner than you think) I will go to the dealer and she will sit me down and I’ll tell her all this and they will build a car to suit for the same cost as a car today. Printing and finishing a custom vehicle will incur no penalty on the manufacturing process all due to the advances being made on crude looking jumbles of wood and wire like the ones now sitting on tables around the 3D printing lab in our very own middle school.

The vid below is some dudes actually doing this and they finally have a proof of concept prototype. I hung around with them at a tech show a couple of years ago and we got drinks. They are really cool save for the fact that they insisted on wearing aviation flight suits everywhere. I was worried we were going to get our asses kicked when we went out, but we wound up at ‘Miracle of Science’ on Mass Ave in Cambridge where the menu is based on the periodic table of elements, so no worries in that department.

3D PRINTING OBJECTIONS, MADE BY IDIOTS

Online I saw a few objections to this technology from people who probably were the same folks who used to leave long, rambling messages on your answering machine back in the day saying things like, “Hello? Hellooo…oh, gracious. I really don’t like talking to a machine. Jimmy? Are you theeeeere? I have to tell you something about Thanksgiving, the address changed. Call me and I’ll tell you [Click].”

  1. “Oh mercy! I saw on the Internet you can make a gun! Right there in school! Won’t someone Pleeese think of the children?” OK, sure, with a much more expensive and higher resolution printer than the ones we have, if you took a month of dedicated time and a variety of tools and some additional highly complex finishing you can make a very, very terrible gun. By the time you finished this gun it would have about the accuracy, quality and effectiveness of a Revolutionary War flintlock pistol but with way less likelihood it would actually fire even once. You can make pretty much the same “gun” from stuff at Ace Hardware.
  1. “Consumer 3D printing is all hype, you can’t make anything useful” As a guy who deals with technology adoption every day, I agree from a current market standpoint. But these machines at O’Maley actually produce something much more useful than little plastic figurines: educated people. Little model Yoda heads are not, in and of themselves, worth anything. However individuals who can go from raw concept to software model to an actual thing are, however, invaluable considering where everything is going.
  1. 3D printing will lead to atomic scale nanofabrication, transcending capitalism and creating a post-scarcity utopia just like in Star Trek The Next Generation. All I have to say is: “Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.”

3D PRINTING COMES TO GLOUCESTER

The GEF grant could have bought eight pre-assembled printers and a small group of students would have been able to use them on a limited basis. But what we’ve come to understand about technology in schools is that it only works well when everyone has full access. This was the logic behind getting the entire 8th grade Chromebooks, which has been nothing short of transformative.

The better option was getting 30 kits and then assembling them. They take somewhere between 12-20 hours to put together and as I began to explain above the assembly requires, among other skills; soldering, wiring, hooking up a circuit board, installing motors and belt drives, gear assemblies, setting up and correctly installing fragile heat sensors called “thermistors” along with more tiny little screws and nuts than individual cereal bits in a “Family Size” box of Rice Krispies from The Basket.

Science Teacher Amy Donnelly schools Haig on his wiring

So, rejoining our story in the O’Maley library, now it’s 8pm on Saturday and 16 hours have elapsed. I’ve cranked down part of a BLT all day because our laserlike focus has been bringing our machine to life. At my team’s table KT Toomey and Steve Brosnihan and I are surrounded by a low tide of wires, parts, tools and 63 empty tiny little cans of Mountain Dew. We’re sweating it. Even though our build is technically done, things aren’t moving as they should. Our printer is sputtering around as if possessed by unclean spirits.

Besides the two machines brought to life earlier in the day (Props to Joel Favazza and those two engineer/machinist dudes who sneezed out their machines while the rest of us were still giggling every time Colin said “nuttrap.”), nobody is getting any plastic through. At the coffee station secret doubts are expressed. The tone is of a hospital drama in the middle of a mass-casualty triage: “I’m not sure mine’s gonna pull through. We’re doing everything we can. I don’t know how I’m gonna face the family if it doesn’t make it…”

Ours, which we quickly dubbed with the sci-fi robot villain name “SCULPTRON” (All Hail SCULPTRON!) is in critical condition. Every time we power up it makes a loud noise that resembles what I imagine C3PO’s farts would sound like. Servos are flitting around randomly as if to signal, “Help! SCULPTRON has been built by idiots! Why do you let me live like this! I beg you to KILL SCULPTRON in the name of mercy KILL MEEE!!!!”

SCULPTRON sounds and acts nothing like the two smoothly humming machines at the front assembled by students over the summer. These are happily tended by the clever teens and are cheerfully cranking out well-formed plastic doodads at a regular pace. It turns out these teens are the secret weapon of this whole project.

This kid saved our nerdy behinds.

Over the summer they did a week long session with some students and a few of the kits. They were taught how to build, program and use the devices culminating in a huge Mexican feast on the last day. Catch: you could only eat with utensils you had designed and printed. Those kids were undisputed heroes this weekend. They popped around to different tables, helped readjust parts here, gave advice there. They knew how all the wiring worked and could tell you what was wrong. One of them took a sidelong glance at SCULPTRON, who was now lurching around clumsily as if someone had served him the robotic equivalent of a half dozen scorpion bowls.

“Your mechanical parts look fine. Redo all your wiring.”

Huzzah, kid, you were exactly right! We found a mis-wired connection and reinserted one of the control motors on its pins from the motherboard and suddenly SCULPTRON was efficiently zipping around like his robot brethren at the front of the room (and no doubt thirsting for revenge against his human defilers).

Can I tell you the joy I felt when SCULPTRON first laid plastic? It wasn’t holding my kids for the first time (hey ladies, you are 3D printers too!) but it was in that direction. There will be those who claim I cranked up the speakers I’d brought to better hear Colin’s mumbling and danced about the room capering wildly to the 80’s pop hit “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor. That, people, is a lie. It was actually “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves. C’mon, Survivor? Really?

“It’s working! Have you ever seen something so beautiful?”

On Sunday the rest of the kits started to come to life. One by one we spun the tunes as a new table started making objects to the cheers of its builders and suddenly the room was filled with little fish, aliens, plastic cubes, frogs and other test items. An increasing number of kids, most of them elementary schoolers who could no longer be kept away by their parents, showed up and just took over. They instinctively began printing objects as we adults worked on getting the remaining kits up to speed.

How many did we get working you ask? 22, compadres. We got all but 5 printing and even those that weren’t completed are being finished off this week. After the immensely patient custodian finally kicked us out late Sunday night, I crashed on our couch at home, depleted. It took about three minutes for me to start getting texts, emails, IMs and messages from a few folks wondering how the machine they’d put hours into but had to abandon for parental responsibilities turned out. Also were elevated thank-yous, virtual high fives and literally teary well-deserved shout-outs to David and Amy. It really was a community event like no other I’ve ever been a part of. People were deep in this project, way deep. We’re still coming back to reality.

I want to say that I don’t think there a lot of places that could have done this. Where else do you find 600+ hours of competent volunteer time from people who will give up a whole weekend, and who have the DIY chops to throw together a complicated piece of hardware like this? To me it speaks of the best of Gloucester, the stuff that makes it impossible to consider ever living anywhere else. Fanatical devotion to each other, the unrepentant love of a crazy plan, dedicated visionaries to make it all work and a railtanker full of coffee.

Dear God we drank so much coffee.

To see a bunch more pics of the build click here

GMG Update for Marine Mammal Response From Mendy Garron

Dear Good Morning Gloucester Community:

We know people were concerned and had questions about the harbor seal that was at Good Harbor Beach over the weekend.  I wanted to take this opportunity to remind people of what they should do if they see an animal that may need assistance.

October 4, 2014 injured seal

Donna Ardizzoni Injured Seal photo Oct 4, 2014 Good Harbor Beach Taken With Telephoto Lens

Up until this year, the protocol was to call the New England Aquarium.  The Aquarium served as the NOAA authorized responder for the Northshore area for many years.  On January 1st, the Aquarium refocused their response effort to sea turtle rehabilitation and the study of infectious disease in marine mammals. As a result they had to scale back their response area for stranded marine mammals and now are focusing their efforts on the area from Salem to Plymouth.  

Over the last year, NOAA Fisheries has been seeking an alternate organization to help us fill this void on the Northshore, which includes Cape Ann. Until an alternate organization is identified and authorized to help us, we ask that all stranding calls be reported to our offices.

Our program oversees the Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program from Maine to Virginia.  Unfortunately, we do not have the capacity to respond to every animal in the field and do not have the legal ability to authorize individual volunteers to respond to these cases.  As a result, marine mammal stranding cases in Gloucester will be handled on a case-by-case basis.  When needed, we will seek help from other authorized stranding response agencies, but their ability to help will be limited and based on their available resources. 

I would like to ask the Gloucester community to spread the word about the current status of response to stranded marine mammals and remind one another to be responsible viewers of wildlife by:

- Staying a safe distance of at least 150 feet from animals on the beach or hauled out;

- Do not let dogs approach seals or other marine wildlife.  Marine mammals do carry diseases that can be transmitted to your pets, and vise versa;

- Do not touch or feed the animal.

Remember, seals are wild animals.  Medical treatment of these animals is significantly different from domestic and terrestrial animals.  We have to consider a variety of factors when making a decision about how best to respond to an animal on the beach including individual animal health and potential risks to humans and pets, the overall health of the species’ population , and how intervening may affect the natural ecosystem. Seals and other marine mammal species are federally protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

I would like to thank the Gloucester Police Department and the Massachusetts Environmental Police for their assistance in maintaining a safe viewing distance for this animal while it was resting on the beach.  The seal did go back into the water on its own Saturday evening and no further reports have been received.

More information about the National Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program can be found at the following website:

http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/health/stranding.htm–

Mendy Garron, CVT
Marine Mammal Response Coordinator
Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office

NOAA Fisheries

MARINE ANIMAL HOTLINE: 866-755-NOAA (6622)

Forced Family Fun Fall Farm Tour

The last official day of summer marks the date for what we consider to be one of our favorite fall events. And when I say “we” I really just mean myself and the boys, because my husband isn’t necessarily fond of being on tour for the entire fall season. But, he does it….so, brownie points there.  This year’s Family Farm Day at Appleton Farm in Ipswich is happening on Sunday, September 21st from 10-3…oddly enough it may reach into the 80s.  Sadly, the Schraffts will most likely be no-shows this year due to an 11:30 hockey game…go figure.  But, you should all go!

Check out the Event

Our fall days at an assortment of farms continue to be some of my favorite memories with the boys. We are, and always will be, “summer people” but, that having been said, there is something about the crisp weather, the pick-your-own abundance of super yummy fruit, the music, the changing leaves….the cider donuts, etc. that gives me super warm fuzzies.  I am a stickler for tradition and there is something sentimental about the annual trip to each place that makes me happy.  I love seeing how much the boys have grown from autumn to autumn and see what parts of each farm draw them in each season.  My boys have also always been a bit obsessed with farm animals.  There are no fewer than 50 goats, cows, and pigs that could tell you tales about a Schrafft boy’s finger being shoved into places they don’t belong.  Primarily noses….but, there was that one time….   Bygones.

This year our Farm Tour will take a significant hit due to conflicting hockey schedules, but, we still have a few “must do” romps that I’m not willing to skip. Our favorite farm of all is Applecrest Farm in Hampton Falls, New Hampshire. First of all, I kind of like that it is a bit of a drive.  A little known secret is that I’m a wicked Sunday driver. Again, my husband may disagree that the ride is a bonus, and…if I’m being honest here…it did lead to quite a marital tiff one year. The words “remind me again what exactly is wrong with the apples that are 20 minutes away from home?” were uttered in traffic on the way home….and we may or may not have missed the first quarter of the Patriots game.  I digress. Applecrest is a fantastic destination and if you take the back roads, the drive is stunningly gorgeous.  If you check out their event calendar you may get lucky enough to catch their super cute “Story Book Hayrides” that are put on by the drama students of a local high school to help pay for their annual school trip. They also host car shows, a field plowing day, and other events in addition to the already excellent activities that can easily fill a whole day.  I’m a giant fan of the petting farm (small barnyard animals, peeps….seriously) and the excellent blue grass music.  The good eats don’t hurt either!  There’s also some good shopping to be done in their barn.  We always come home with some classroom snacks for the boys and some sinful treats for the house.

Applecrest

We have lots of close runner-ups when it comes to local farms, but I’d rather hear yours!  So, with fall approaching, where do you and yours always head?  I’d really like to know!

 

 

Wicked Learning From Wicked Tuna

My boys have been super excited about spotting Wicked Tuna boats all summer long. I have to admit it is pretty darn cute listening to the two of them talking about the boats, crew, fish, green sticks, the price per pound, fat quality, this pound test or that pound test, etc.  While they’ve watched the show here and there during past seasons, they’re just a bit older this year…and hence, much more into it.  Likewise, for whatever the reasons, the North vs. South episodes that are currently airing get them giddy.

They clocked some serious hours at the Blue Fin Blowout back earlier this summer and I was so proud of how long they sat patiently waiting for boats to arrive.  They were completely riveted by the weigh-ins and the size of the fish. They couldn’t get down there fast enough for Day #2 of the action. A couple of weekends ago they got their “Wicked Tuna” on down at the wharf and thought they were the coolest cats in town when they got to haul their own little fish down the dock.  And, worth mentioning, they both gobbled up the sushi like it was candy after helping my husband clean the fish.  Finn hasn’t quite mastered the “Tails Up” yet though.

Despite witnessing their enthusiasm all summer, I was still surprised to see the journal entry that Thatcher wrote at school yesterday.  Love that kid!  I get that many probably find the fact that we let our 5 and 7 year-olds watch Wicked Tuna in the first place may not be the best of parenting decisions….but, I’ll take the learning opportunity and run with it.  (insert shameless shout out to his amazing teachers at the Harborlight-Stoneridge Montessori School).

Just more proof that growing up salty is excellent and that this little slice of heaven that we call home is bursting at the seams with opportunities for the kiddos to find something unique that speaks to them and to be passionate about.

 

Twinge Worthy

As a continued tribute to Back-to-School Week, I have found some inspiring examples of why we all need school in the first place.

While some of these messages are funny, and some are mildly inappropriate (I apologize), some just flat out make me twitch!

Yikes.

Colton High School takes the cake though with its expensive and permanent misspelled signage.  Congratulations to you all (not, for the record, congradulations).

Does anyone double check their spelling (or, even more embarrassing, their phrasing) anymore? Sign all of the responsible parties up for a lesson on homophones immediately!  It isn’t hard, people!  To, too, two.   There, their, they’re.  It is truly more than I can handle.

 

 

Back To School: Then and Now

A great friend from High School shared this with me last night and it made me laugh.  As it is so timely (and funny) I thought it was totally worth sharing with you all.  As a child of the 70s and a harried mom of two young boys…plus a Montessori Elementary Teacher….I can SOOOO relate.

Many of my back to school memories from the 70s indeed include several of the things that are mentioned (god, I loved those thermoses)…and, between you and me, I see a bit of myself in the “today” routine also. :)

http://www.scarymommy.com/back-to-school-the-70s-vs-today/

Back in the 70s and early 80s much of my back-to-school shopping was done at Hill’s in Ipswich and included a trip to Pennyworth’s across the street (was that the name?).

Some of my must-haves from waaaay back then you may ask?

Happy Back-to-School!

 

Friday is your last Chance to “Celebrate Gloucester” in the BIG TENT on the water

If you haven’t yet been to a concert at Cape Ann Marina’s Waterfront Pavilion, now is the time — and if you’ve been to a concert in this gorgeous waterfront venue, you know what I’m talking about.

It’s the perfect summer music experience — ask anybody who was at the packed James Montgomery show last Friday.

Henri Smith

Henri Smith

This Friday (8/29) we’re bringing in the same concert stage and state-of-the-art sound & lights for Henri Smith New Orleans Friends & Flavours to kick off Schooner Festival weekend — get tickets here.

There’s a wonderful parallel between James Montgomery and Henri Smith.  Both bandleaders are major talents, they love to surround themselves with the best players available and both are committed to furthering their musical traditions by nurturing young talent.

Henri is bringing Grammy-winning saxophonist and flautist Amadee Castenell (who appeared in the HBO hit series Treme) along with Berklee professor Herman Hampton and top New England Conservatory trombonist Eric Stilwell — 3 generations of top musicians on the same stage!

And Mile Marker One will have a full bar along with perfect summer food: Lobster Rolls, BBQ Chicken Sandwich, Sausage/Peppers/Onions and of course Clam Chowda!

Don’t let summer pass you by without dancing a second line with Henri and his stellar band at the largest waterfront tent in Gloucester!  Don’t wait until it sells out.  GET TICKETS NOW!

Amadee Castenell

Amadee Castenell

Herman Hampton

Herman Hampton

Amadee Castenell

Eric Stilwell

Eric Stilwell

Get all the Schooner Fest Scoop & Songs tomorrow morning at 9AM on North Shore 104.9 – And Joey, here’s your answer

Daisy Nell (R) and Capt. Stan

“Curtain Up” host Aurelia Nelson

Tomorrow (Sunday) at 9AM Aurelia Nelson Welcomes Schooner Festival Chair Daisy Nell and Capt. Stan on her North Shore 104.9FM Radio show “Curtain Up”.

Daisy & Stan perform 2 songs and will tell you everything you need to know about next weekend’s Schooner Festival, one of our favorite weekends.  Click here for a complete Schooner Festival Schedule.

And here’s the definitive answer to Joey’s question about the Lobster Bake (from the Schooner Fest website)

Schooner Festival Lobster Bake

Two years ago, local blogger Capt. Joey of GoodMorningGloucester came up with a great idea!  Joey suggested that, in order to get the Gloucester community involved with the Schooner Festival, a community lobster bake should be held during the Festival.

Recognizing good advice, the Festival Committee held the 1st annual Community Lobster Bake in 2013 and it was a huge success!  Check out GoodMorningGloucester to see just how successful the event was!

The Community Lobster Bake will be held again in 2014 on Saturday, August 30, 4:30pm-7:30pm at Maritime Gloucester on Harbor Loop in downtown Gloucester. Enjoy freshly steamed lobster, corn on the cob, and a Virgilio’s roll– all for $15 per person. Relax with your dinner on the slopes of the Fitz Henry Lane lawn while listening to Old Cold Tater & Friends. Also available for sale: hot dogs, hamburgers, cookies, cold sodas & spring water, beer & wine. Tickets available in advance from Maritime Gloucester or at the event.

honest cole

IMG_4748

Cole a mate on the Water Shuttle captained by Capt Pete, found a Black Centurion America Express Credit Card, under the deck at the Studio in Rocky Neck. He did not hesitate and rushed up the gang way, and returned the card to a Studio Employee.

The credit card is is the most exclusive and rare card offered by American Express; it is available by invitation only. Reserved for high end clients, this titanium (not plastic) card guarantees extras such as private jet services, personal concierges, business, savings and much more. The cost of the privilege to use this card is $2,500 a year.

The card was returned to the rightful owner, a prominent Gloucester resident. 

Cole, I applaud you on your integrity and instilling my confidence in our young generation.

Lunch Box 101…because some of you have asked.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…I LOVE my job teaching, but I’d be a straight up liar if I didn’t admit that I don’t love summer vacation a bit more.  It isn’t that I need a break from the work or from my amazing students….it is that I love the weeks of freedom to play, sleep, take long day trips, or do nothing at all with my boys.  Late mornings, late nights, sand, salt, water….  How can you not love that?

That having been said, typically, after 9 weeks off, I am ready to go back to work.  I miss my students, I miss the consistency of our schedule, I miss chatting with so many amazing coworkers/friends, and I miss using untouched summer regions of my brain.

One of the best parts about back-to-school is back-to-school shopping!  I don’t go crazy over new clothes…and even if I did, my boys would most likely refuse to wear them.    I get giddy about a couple of things though… new sneakers, new fall yucky weather playground (and fall family farm tour) boots, a few new super thin long and short sleeved shirts for layering, and then the gear!

I’ve also written before about how much I loathe packing lunches….however, being a bit obsessive compulsive, it has become kind of a sport for me.  See  here.

To pack “trash-free”, easy, and fun lunches for the boys….the right gear is essential.  So, on that note, yesterday was lunch gear shopping day!  Exciting, I know!  Actually, that’s kind of a lie, because I did most of it online the other night and they had a big bag ready and waiting for us when we got to the Container Store.  But, once there, we finished up shopping and I let the boys have some input in what else they wanted.

While I realize it is not fascinating business, believe it or not, I’ve been asked by several people what type of “stuff” I buy for lunch boxes.  Many people have also mentioned that packing trash-free lunches sounds difficult, but actually, I find it much easier…and, more importantly, cheaper!  One important factor to mention though is that my boys have access to a microwave to heat up left-overs for lunch…so that may make my lunches different from the norm.

So, without further adieu….this is what we bought this year.  (A good tip is to bring your lunch box with you to make sure things will fit inside before you get them home).  Oh my goodness, I sound crazy, don’t I?

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1.  Pottery Barn lunch box.  Has held up extremely well, super easy to hand wash….and going into its 2nd school year.  They always have sales and aren’t really much more expensive if you get them at the right time.  I’m a big off-season shopper!

2.  Land’s End water bottle.  Not only does it fit perfectly, hold the perfect amount of water, and encourage the boys to drink more water….with several ice cubes, it also helps keep the lunches cold until lunch time.  But…obviously…you can fill it with milk or juice too,  depending on what you and your child prefer.

3.  Skinny ice packs…I put one of the bottom each morning to help keep lunches cold and safe.  I heard a report last year (somewhere) that someone had gone in and tested kids lunch boxes to see if their food was staying at the right temperature during the day (hence staying safe to be edible) and they discovered that about 90% weren’t.  For whatever that is worth.  I don’t usually get hung up on things like that…but, come on, warm yogurt is also just gross!

4.  Awesome Frego glass and silicone containers for microwaving leftovers.  Glass is safer, right?  The silicone makes them easy to pull out of the microwave….and comes in fun colors to appeal to the kids.  It also cushions them incase they get dropped.  Pasta, quesadillas, mini hamburgers, “breakfast for lunch” like scrambled eggs or waffles, cheese steak, soup, fish, grilled cheese, popcorn shrimp or chicken…..  Whatever.

5.  A sandwich container for the days that I haven’t packed left overs or a “heat up” as the boys call it.  Great for more than sandwiches. My boys ask for things like sushi and ham or turkey roll-ups a lot.

6.  The little red “Cool It” pack on the left is for little snacks and dips.  Mostly veggies and salad dressing.  The second photo shows it better.  Not an every day thing, but fun to pack once in a while.

7.  A little 3 pack of small snack holders for things like pretzels, gold fish, cut up fruit, yogurt covered raisins, pepperoni and cheese, olives, apple sauce, yogurt, cottage cheese, etc.  Pretty much, you name it, it can go in there.  These are mostly for Thatcher, my older son, because he needs several snacks throughout the day.  I actually pack him a smaller “snack time” bag and then a larger actual lunch box.  His class has a mid-morning snack and an afternoon snack.  In Finn’s class a different parent is responsible for sending in a healthy and yummy snack for the whole class to enjoy once each month.  So, Finn doesn’t need me to pack extra snacks each day. 

8.  However, even more riveting, is that Finn typically needs some extra fuel so that little “Cereal on the Go” container is for him.  My boys eat breakfast really early and get to school at 7:45 so I can get to my classroom on time.  Finn will have some cereal with milk around 8:30.  I put that little container in his classroom fridge so he can help himself when he gets hungry.  Per his teacher’s request…not because I’m super high maintenance.  :)  Which you most likely won’t believe after reading this post….assuming anyone is still reading.

9.  The clear two-sectioned container usually gets fruit on one side and something else on the other.  Again, pretty much anything goes, and I use that container every day.

10.  And then, there’s the Spork….which is actually a spoon, fork, and fairly dull knife all is one.

If you haven’t fallen asleep yet, congratulations on getting to the end.  All kidding aside, buying larger containers of things like yogurt, apple sauce, and cottage cheese and then filling these small containers each day eliminates A LOT of trash.  Eliminating things like individual cheese sticks, juice boxes, bags of chips, etc. and reusing these small containers instead goes a long way if you consider how many lunches get packed each year.

OK….I’ll hop off my soapbox.  I’m not preaching….just wanted to get more information to those who have asked….and for anyone else who may be interested. Again, our school encourages this, but I also find that I save a lot of money and feel pretty good packing things this way.

Lunch Supplies at the Container Store

House Hunting

A little known secret about me is that I am full blown obsessed with the shows House Hunters and House Hunters International on HGTV.  And then there’s Island Hunters!  Did you know there are actually people out there shopping for islands?!

I’ve been watching them both for years and they never get old…

I LOVE living here…that comes as no surprise…but, I’d be lying if I didn’t find myself watching episodes of couples picking up everything and moving to some beachfront location on some tropical island paradise.  I live vicariously through them for 30 or 60 minutes whenever possible.  Dork, I know.

So, yesterday, upon finding a vulnerable little hermit crab at Cape Hedge Beach who was “between houses,” my boys suggested we conduct our own beachfront version of House Hunters.  We found several shell options for the squishy little guy, placed him and them under a clump of seaweed as much protected from hungry seagulls and bigger crabs as possible, and let him do his thing.

We watched him for a bit, but he was shy so we left him alone to take a look around his potential new residences.  We weren’t sure what he was looking for…striped, solid, beach chic, room to grow, open floor plan, comfy cozy, etc.

When we went back later to check, he was gone.  The boys were thrilled….even though there was no commission to be gained.

House Hunters

House Hunters International

Island Hunters

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Now That’s A Carousel

I am absolutely in love with this carousel!  Boston’s Rose F. Kennedy Greenway is unbelievable in so many ways and the carousel is the cherry on top!  The 14 different critters…all hailing from the fine state of Massachusetts…are whimsical yet gorgeous all at once.  It is a true piece of art!  How wonderful would it be to have a carousel of this caliber here in Gloucester?

The boys and I took the train into the city yesterday and spent 6.5 hours exploring, laughing, and learning between North Station and Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park.  We walked through the Haymarket Farmer’s Market, past the North End, and along the docks of the Boston Harbor Marina to check out some of the crazy “mega yachts”.  We saw the seals at the New England Aquarium, got some lemon slush, and rode the newish “thrill ride”, CODZILLA (and got wet). The boys played in the splash pad on the Greenway, rode the carousel, and fed the pigeons.  We took a horse-drawn carriage ride through the financial district, had a nice outdoor dinner at Ned Divine’s, and then ice cream at The Berry Twist in Faneuil Hall.

My vision for our day in the city involved going at least as far as The Public Gardens, the Frog Pond, and the Swan Boats….but somehow, in the blink of an eye, it was time to catch the 7:40 train outbound to home.  A true testament to the wonder of the Greenway and surrounding areas is that we were able to spend an entire day there and still wish that we had more time.  Next time.

Read more about the Greenway Carousel here

Read more about the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway here

 

A Wealth of Resources for Sure!

For the last few summers I have come out of summer retirement to run a two-week summer session at the Harborlight-Stoneridge Montessori School.  The camp is focused on both Marine Science and Maritime History and the goal is to get the kids out on the water/waterfront as much as possible.  I am fortunate that my boys have that opportunity often and that they are naturally drawn to the ocean and all it has to offer.  That having been said, I know that isn’t true for all children who are growing up in this area.  Most importantly, I wanted to help educate these children on the history of the fishing industry and how important the ocean is to the community’s livelihood and to the creatures that call it home!

This year’s camp was a large success thanks to many local businesses.  I’m happy to be able to fire off a quick post to thank some of those places/individuals.

While one day took us into Boston to explore the New England Aquarium and watch a Journey to the South Pacific IMAX movie, all other days were spent outside experiencing the waterfront hands-on.

Our students spent a couple of days aboard the Sea Station vessel, Endeavour, in Salem Harbor.  This unreal floating classroom afforded us the opportunity to haul lobster traps, observe ocean life in its giant glass holding tank, sink the underwater camera to observe the ocean floor and eel grass beds + observe our discoveries on the giant flatscreen TV, and preform beach landings on Misery Island to go hiking, swimming, and tidal pooling. If you haven’t explored Misery Island, you’re missing out!

Sea Station

We had a fantastic day at the Nahant Marine Science Center where the children were given the opportunity to become scientists while recording their tide pool findings and the properties of the water in small groups.  They also had a wonderful tour of the facilities and the gorgeous property that the science center calls home. The Northeastern graduates/students that took care of our group were fabulous!

Nahant Marine Science Center

One day was spent onboard Cape Ann Whale Watch’s vessel, the Hurricane.  We saw several humpback whales and enjoyed a fantastic trip.  The naturalists, as always, added a wonderful educational component with small group lessons throughout the trip in addition to the narration while observing the whales.

Cape Ann Whale Watch

We greatly enjoyed a morning at Maritime Gloucester and were incredibly pleased with the workshops that Mary Kay had planned for our students…who ranged in age from 1st grade to 8th!  Maritime Gloucester was, as always, a must-do on our excursion list!

Maritime Gloucester

We enjoyed a visit from a wonderful artist named Kathy Abbott, who helped the children learn about caring for our beaches, waterfronts, and oceans while adding the element of art.  Learning about the Angry Ocean Project inspired many of our students to go home and create masterpieces of their own with debris the discovered on local beaches.

Angry Ocean Project

We headed North to the Seacoast Science Center in Rye, NH where we did a self-guided tour of the exhibits, participated in a 60 minute Whale presentation (the highlight of which was definitely seeing the entire skeleton system of the Fin Whale that washed ashore on Cape Hedge Beach several years ago) and then explored the rocky shore of Ordione State Park with a naturalist who helped the children learn about all of the amazing things they found in the tide pools.  Stunning scenery!

Seacoast Science Center

Captain Steve Douglas, from Cape Ann Harbor Tours, agreed to a custom designed trip on his King Eider.  I really wanted the students to see the waterfront from the water.  I asked Steve to point out the many different types of vessels that call Gloucester Harbor home and to explain the different type of fishing gear that we saw along the way.  I wanted the children to get a feel for the history and the diversity of the fleet.  They also learned about the Cut Bridge and Annisquam River, Cape Pond Ice, the schooners, the state fish pier, the auction house, Capt. Joe and Sons (of course), Ten Pound Island, and so, so much more.

Cape Ann Harbor Tours

And a day that exceeded all expectations was the day that we visited the NOAA offices up at Blackburn Circle.  I was floored with the presentation and hands-on activities that had been prepared for our visit and the number of staff that was able to make themselves available to work with our students.  With several different learning stations, knowledgable staff, a large inflatable whale, an amazing interactive game that helped the children learn about sustainability, and much more, hey truly went above and beyond to help educate our students.  Their efforts were a perfect match for what I was hoping to achieve throughout the summer session.  I can’t thank them enough!

NOAA Gloucester

This summer session served as yet another reminder of the wealth of resources that we have in our area.  How lucky we are to be able to take advantage of such a wide array of fun and educational resources.  I am well aware, that a longer camp session could have visited so many other amazing destinations and that the places I have included are certainly not the only amazing choices that we have.  There’s always next year :)

 

Win Henri Smith Concert Tickets at the Sidewalk Bazaar

HenriPoster_600Aurelia Nelson of North Shore 104.9 is doing it again … yup she’s bringing her prize wheel down to the Sidewalk Bazaar tomorrow (Thursday) and you can win 2 tickets to see Henri Smith New Orleans Friends & Flavours feat. Grammy-winner Amadee Castenell at the Celebrate Gloucester Benefit Concert to help raise money for the Cape Ann YMCA Camping & Teen Services.

This concert kicks off Schooner Festival weekend on Friday August 29 at Cape Ann Marina’s Waterfront Pavilion (the BIG tent).

Henri Smith has been helping the YMCA raise money for teen programs ever since the Y started sending local teens to help rebuild his hometown of New Orleans.

These YMCA programs help nurture the potential of every child and teen as they improve our community’s health and well-being.  It’s an important cause worth supporting.

Stop by the North Shore 104.9 booth (in front of Cape Ann Savings Bank) and spin the wheel.

There’s no cost, no catch.

Just spin & you could win to tickets to see Henri Smith, who almost always sells out when he performs on the North Shore!

Way to be, Jack Ass!

I guess for someone, stealing is easier than working for it.  And from kids nonetheless. Allow me to explain.

If you’ve browsed any of my previous posts here on GMG, you’ve probably come to know a few things about me.  You probably know that I’m long winded (does that actually apply to writing?) and you’ve probably gotten to “know” my two young boys….and maybe you’ve learned that they love the ocean.  More than loving it, they work hard at being budding little lobstermen, and they’re pretty passionate about it.

If you haven’t seen it yet, maybe this will help paint the picture

Young and Salty

My boys, along with their three great friends…on our friends’ boat, go lobstering typically twice per week all summer long.  With only ten traps, they certainly don’t do it to make money….they do it because they love it.  And, they do it for Lobsterfest!  Once each summer (maybe twice if we’re lucky)… we gather our families and some of our local friends, and we have a feast to end all feasts. More importantly, we have laugh after laugh, in one of the most picturesque towns I know.  It is, without a doubt, one of our favorite evenings of the entire summer.

We check the tide chart….we check our busy summer schedules…and we pick a day.  This summer…that day was Saturday.

The kids feel tremendous pride that their hard work supplies the Stars of the Show:  The Rockport Harbor Lobsters!  They feel tremendous pride that our guests….friends who have watched them grow, learn, laugh, and cry…gather to enjoy a quintessential summer evening and “oooh and ahhhh” over their bounty! They feel tremendous pride in being such a huge part of such a special tradition.

So, maybe you can imagine our shock and dismay to discover that THE lobsters had been stolen from the water on Friday night.  Holding tank and all.  Gone.  As a friend put it, “It’s like losing your uniform the night before the Big Game.”  The night before Lobsterfest.

I get that maybe the thief wasn’t aware that those lobsters had been slowly gathered by a group of dedicated children…and their two amazing dads.  Two dads who take the time to show those kids how to haul and set their gear.  Two dads who, while they love lobstering with the kids, may actually prefer to cast a few rods, set an anchor at the beach, or play a round of golf on a few more occasions, rather than continuously tend to the traps.  Or maybe they wouldn’t rather do those things, either way, that isn’t the point.

The point is, Stealing is wrong…and I’m pissed.

“The children must be crushed!” you may be thinking.  Well, actually, the children don’t know.  Luckily, those two amazing dads also had the wherewithal to not let the children know that someone had stolen their lobsters.  They would have been beyond devastated.  They would have been hurt.  They probably would have been confused.

Those two amazing dads also didn’t want our guests to know that they had to scramble and buy lobsters in the eleventh hour.  They certainly didn’t want any guests to run out and purchase lobsters themselves….not that any of those guests would have minded!  Lucky also is that Cape Ann is the type of community where friends rally for each other.  Lucky also is that, having lived here forever, those two amazing dads have people who were happy to help them and that getting enough lobsters to feed our friends was possible.

So, Lobsterfest was a giant success.  Those little “lobsterkids” are none the wiser and, while we’re still mad, it would take more than a small time thief (Jack Ass) to ruin a wonderful summer evening with such amazing friends.  Still, shame on them.

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