Saturday, October 31, 2009

Pumpkin Saw

My wife bought one of those pumpkin carving kits with cutting blades included. Everytime I use the plastic handled tools, I usually say something along the lines of, "Next year, I will make my own saws. These things are awful."

But I never do. I'm a big Halloween talker. But, I'm all talk and no-do.

Saw this post on Make and am now thinking I could whip up a simple pumpkin saw with just a scroll saw blade laying around in my garage and some duct tape. Minimalist. Workable. Better than the plastic junk that hurts my delicate fingers.

Next year I will be ready!

[via Make]

[Image captured from Make:]

Zombie Make-Up

Quick easy tutorial on how to create a Zombie using liquid latex, toilet paper and some makeup (about $20 worth of materials). They say you can substitute white glue for the liquid latex if you are in a hurry or can't find the latex.

Halloween Math Lecture

Wonder if I could pull this off?

[via Neatorama]

Space Wolf

Check out this Graham Annable's other animations at his YouTube channel.

[via Miss Cellania]

Funny: Trick or Treat

A bunch Halloween Projects many projects you can build. Some easy. Some hard. Directions vary from easy to follow to pretty obscure but all of it pretty interesting and inspiring. Site is essentially a link dump to many other project sites.

Never knew you could use a wiper motor to create so many cool things. Including this ghoulish groundbreaker corpse found at the Garage of Evil.

I had a ton of Halloween fun looking at all the projects.

[via Make]

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Halloween Sugar Cookies

These Halloween sugar cookies look great. Head over to Annie's Eats to see closeups of the cookies shown here. The recipes for the icing and the cookies are at the bottom of her post. She uses Royal Icing to decorate the cookie, something I've never used before.

The frosting calls for something called meringue powder. I found several sources for it online and many people say it is available from cake supply stores and craft stores like Michaels. Seems that originally the frosting was made with real egg whites, but folks are nervous about raw egg now-a-days.

[Image from Annie's Eat:]

Halloween costumes for your pets

Not usually a big fan of costumes for my dog. Although every year my wife wants to dress our pup up as a vampire or some such thing.

"Oh honey, it's so cute!" She says.

"Grumble....crazy....grumble." I reply.

I tend to side with the dog....that is until I saw this cool three-headed dog costume. I may have to re-think my stand on dressing the dogs up for the holidays. I'm thinking my Shitzu could be Cerberus and I could be Hercules.

I wonder if Hercules had a pot belly?

[Via Sci Fi Wire]
[Image captured from Sci Fi Wire:]

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A better way to cut a pumpkin top?

Saw this on the Make site. Michael Williams came up with the idea as a way to make it easy to light the candle inside.

I'm willing to give this a shot with one of the pumpkins we carve this year. It also looks like it might help during the carving?

I'll let you know.

[Image captured from Make:]

Alien Animatronic Mandibles

The lips on this animatronic device are awsome. Tried to find a little more information on the model. No luck.

But in searching for info on how this might be done, I found the other videos below.

[Image captured from the video: Alien AnimatronicMandibles]
[via Neatorama]

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Learning about Halloween

Larry Ferlazzo has a post called, "The Best Websites for Learning about Halloween". Bound to be something in here you can use.....or just enjoy on your own without ever sharing it with your students.

[Image captured from New York Times slideshow about Mexico's celebration of the Day of the Dead: "In Mexico, Celebrating the Day of the Dead":

Monday, October 26, 2009

Halloween Party Food

If I was the party throwing kind, I'd definitely be having a Halloween party with all kinds of creepy, spooky treats. Here are a few that would be a hit at any gathering of ghouls and Twilight wannabes.

[via Mental Floss]

[Image captured from Mental Floss: "Creepy Halloween Party Foods" :]

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Latex Zombie Mask

The folks at Gryphern who brought you the Werewolf mask and a biting snapping puppet thingy, now have directions for creating your own latex mask. If you act today, you'll be ready by Halloween.

Their videos are always informative and easy to follow. I remember wanting to make a latex mask when I was a boy. If only Gryphern had been around when I was young.

[Image captured from the video]

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Marriage and Divorce--Interactive Map

Interesting interactive map on divorce and marriage statistics in the United States. Roll your cursor over the state of your choice and get a little pop up telling you the facts.

For example I was looking at different states for the percentage of folks married three times or more. I thought that states that had an older population would be the highest so I looked at Florida (7%) and Arizona (7%). But found that Wyoming was higher at 9%. I wonder why?

That's a fun way to use a map like this in the classroom. Look for trends. Make predictions and see if the map supports you. If it doesn't try to figure out why. It can generate some great classroom discussions.

[Image captured from website:]

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Cardboard Animation

Here is another bigger than life stopmotion animation. Kind of a followup to Combo that I posted about last week. The artist in this one uses large pieces of cardboard painted with the characters and moves them around a real cityscape. Hard to explain. Trust me, it will make sense when you watch it.

This looks like a very doable project idea for a classroom.

[Image captured from video:]

Monday, October 19, 2009

SketchUp 7: Hands On

I teach a short unit on SketchUp in my freshman Multimedia class. It's a survey course so we don't spend a lot of time on any one program but I always try to work a unit on SketchUp into the mix. I've struggled a bit in the past as to what I should teach the kids about SketchUp. I love the program. I love that it's free and the kids can download it at home if they want. But, those first few steps into three dimensional drawing can be daunting for my kids. I feel that my inexperience and lack of background is part of the reason I can't get most of the class excited about the program.

Last year I decided I needed to improve my SketchUp skills in order to better teach it. Searched for all the books available and many of the websites. Stumbled on a review of SketchUp7: Hands On by Bonnie Roskes and tracked down the website where it's sold, 3DVinci. It's an expensive book but I convinced my department chair to buy a copy for me and spent part of my summer working through some of the exercises. I have to say, my SketchUp skills are better and I now have a better idea what to include in my lessons. I originally thought it might be a book we could buy for the kids to use but it is pretty comprehensive and weighs in at 502 pages. It would be overkill for a three week unit. I could see using this with high school class dedicated to the program. The publisher says it could be used with "advanced middle school" students but I think it's a little too advanced. Not that they couldn't do it, I've seen middle schoolers use SketchUp before and do some amazing things.

Still, this is a great resource for any middle school and high school teacher who uses SketchUp to have on their bookshelf. It also would be a useful book to have in the high school library and I'lll be making this suggestion to our librarian. The author, Bonnie Roskes has a blog that I just discovered today. Looking around her site I found this useful little explanation on how to better use the Push/Pull tool. The 3dVinci website also has a subscription service that will give you a 3 new lessons every month. (I've not tried this but looks promising.) There are some other resources availabe at the site. The website and the book are both worth looking at.

[Image captured from 3Dvinci:]

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Friday, October 16, 2009

Funny: Duetto Buffo di Due Gatti

Never heard of this duet until I saw it on Miss Cellania recently. I went on a search to find out more about this arrangement and found many YouTube videos. This first one is the one that got me started.

Wikipedia had this to say about the duet: "While the piece is typically attributed to Gioachino Rossini, it was not actually written by him, but is instead a compilation written in 1825 that draws from parts of his 1816 opera, Otello. The compiler was likely the English composer Robert Lucas de Pearsall, who for this purpose used the pseudonym "G. Berthold"

Two young ladies performing the same piece.

Another from the BBC:

Looked for the banjo version of this but couldn't find one. May just have to work up an arrangement.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Amazing Jumbo Elephant Landing

An International Fund for Animal Welfare public affair's ad. Not sure if it made the point it was going for, but I've watched it multiple times now and shared it with friends. So, maybe it is successful at getting folks attention.

[Image captured from "Amazing Jumbo Elephant Landing":]

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Stunning animation done by Blu and David Ellis. Not sure how to really describe this...just watch it! I don't think you will be disappointed.

I'm going to show this to my media kids, give them a video camera, some magic markers and see what they can come up with.

COMBO a collaborative animation by Blu and David Ellis (2 times loop) from blu on Vimeo.

[Image captured from the video "Combo":]

Monday, October 12, 2009

Flat folding table

Saw this table designed by Lodovico Bernardi and right away started thinking of ways I could build something like this into my camp box. Either a lid that becomes a table or a way to easily elevate the box to use as a table or workplace.

Couldn't find a closeup of how the leg mechanism works but from the picture, it looks like the whole leg structure rotates. Great idea!

[via CraziestGadgets]
[Images captured from CraziestGadget:]

Monday, October 5, 2009

Converting a document from PDF to Word

I convert everything I give my students into a PDF. This allows them to open it pretty much on any computer in our building or at home. Occasionally, I will run into a situation where I need the original document but it's not readily available. In those moments, usually crisis moments, I need an easy way to convert a PDF back into a Word doc.

The last time this happened, I did a quick search on the web and found several sites that promise to do just this. I used one that worked fine but limited the number of conversions you could do in a period of time. I needed two. It said I could only do one. I went elsewhere.

Ended up using PDF to Word. It's straightforward and simple to use.Upload your PDF. They convert it and send it back to you via email. I've tried several PDF conversions and they have all been satisfactory.

If you have to do this a lot, I'd recommend getting Acrobat Pro or one of the other desktop PDF reader/converters. If you are like me and only need to do this a couple times a year, stick with one of the online versions.

[Image captured from PDF to Word:]

Friday, October 2, 2009

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Mobile Classrooms

In our district, when a school reaches capacity and there just aren't enough classrooms, mobiles are brought in. These things are essentially mobile homes with most of the interior walls taken out. You would think that something like this could be manufactured in such a way that would best meet the needs of a modern classroom. Well thought out storage. Lots of electrical outlets. Built-in computer drops. Adequate cooling and heating. You know, all the things you want in a classroom.

I've haven't seen a well designed one yet.

I was talking to our head custodian about mobiles the last time we had one brought in and he mentioned the price. At the time, we had just moved my mother-in-law into a brand new double wide manufactured home. Her three bedroom structure cost thousands of dollars less than the one we had just installed at our school. How could this be? I think it was a case of going with the lowest bidder without properly specifying features. Still, I always thought there was a lot of room for improvement with these things.

I was pleased to see that someone was thinking about mobiles in a different way when I stumbled onto this posting about prefab classrooms (pictured above). They don't look like mobiles, they are green, and the specs sound much better than anything I've seen.

[Image captured from Inhabitat:]