Tuesday, December 27, 2011

In response to my friend, Corey

Earlier today, I shared a blog post on Facebook from Wes Fryer about his thoughts on standardized testing. My friend Corey responded with this comment:
"I don't have kids, so I don't have a horse in this race, but after reading this article, I still don't understand why standardized tests are so hated. As a student growing up, I liked standardized tests because I felt like they validated that fact that yes, I was learning. Standardized test results may not spark an interesting conversation, but does reading a report card spark interesting conversation? I honestly don't see how standardized tests obfuscate "real" learning."
His post reminded me of exactly what most people think about standardized testing, so I wanted to respond in a way that will help those outside the public education world see what some of our issues are.  So, here goes!

Corey, first of all, I want to assure you that not only do you have a horse in this race - you ARE a horse in the race.  First of all, you are a product of public schools, and you have a valid opinion and experience with what is going on.  Don't hesitate to share what you know and how you feel.  That's the only way the people in charge can be in touch with their constituents.  Secondly, you may not have any kids in the public education system, but you are (and will continue to be) governed by its graduates.  Here is an interesting study on the education of our state legislatures and the U.S. Congress.  It doesn't say so, but I would guess that the vast majority of the state legislators did not go to private schools or charter schools.  Finally, even if you don't consider those things important, you most certainly do have a financial stake in the public education system.  I don't know the facts in Texas, but I would bet they are similar to those in Oklahoma.  So, let's deal with the ones I do know about.

Fifty-two percent of the budget of the State of Oklahoma is spent on education.  The last figures I saw had 50% of the State Department of Education budget spent on various aspects of standardized testing - including development, printing, study guides, grading, etc.  Now, I will say that is not an official figure, but seeing as I sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the State Department in May and as yet they have not deigned to respond (which, incidentally, is illegal), that is the number I'm going with.  So, now you have 25% of the entire budget of the State being spent on standardized testing (paid to an out of state company, so it doesn't even create local jobs).

So yes, you are a very important part of this discussion.  It's your future, and it's your money being spent here.

Now, let me respond to the rest of your comment.  I feel pretty qualified to do so, because until 7 years ago, I felt the same way.  I even thought No Child Left Behind was a good idea.  Then I started teaching, and I began to see the true effects of what we were doing to these kids. 

It's been 20 years, so I may not be remembering everything correctly.  However, I know you were in several of my classes, and I remember you as being very intelligent.  So, I'm guessing your report card looks something like mine did.  Just for everyone else, here is mine:  

I took speedwriting?  Really?  Mom & Dad, what were you thinking letting me get away with that!?  At any rate, speedwriting aside, you can see that school was not an issue for me.  Standardized tests were a blessing because, to me, they are easy.  Like you, I was assured that I was learning something when I took them.  I am going to ask you to step out of that mindset for a moment and put yourself in the place of some of our other students.

What would happen if every time you received a standardized test, it said you weren't good enough.  That you hadn't learned enough?  What if you did the best you could, but the things you knew weren't on the test, and the things they tested just didn't make sense to you?  How about if you struggled with school because the only time you ate was in the school cafeteria, and you had to babysit your siblings at night, so you couldn't study?  You still learned, but maybe not as fast as the other kids.  However, the teacher couldn't slow down because we had to pass the test, and there is only so much time to review.  You knew you weren't going to pass, so why try, right?  Not only that, now they are going to fail you because you didn't pass the test, even though you have passing grades.  If all of your work is not good enough, why continue in school?

How about the student who excels in science, but struggles with reading and math?  Because of the high stakes of passing reading and math tests, teaching science and social studies in many schools is not only not encouraged, but not allowed.  Now, not only are those tests going to tell you you aren't good enough, but they are going to tell you that no one cares about the things you ARE good at.

Or what about the artistic student?  I remember your performances in high school, and you post often about the plays you are involved in now.  What would you have thought if the decided to put all of their money into programs to get students to pass those tests because the stakes for the district are so high.  Thus, no more art or music teachers.  No more librarians.  No more musicals, plays or band.  This isn't a "what if."  This is the reality in many places.

These are just a few realities - and they don't even include the fact that these tests are often inaccurate.  They are extremely biased toward the middle and upper class experiences.  The grading is random (passing scores are changed often by the State Department, and the curriculum tested also changes), so there is no real comparison from year to year of how kids are doing.  Grading is often inaccurate - as exemplified by Pearson's mistakes in this year's calculations.  There is no allowance for bad questions, bad answers or even questions without a correct answer or which are marked incorrectly in the answer codes.  No one involved in the testing is allowed to see the questions, so there is no way to check these things.

I am all in favor of assessing students' knowledge.  However, when the assessment is not accurate and succeeds more in limiting knowledge than expanding it, there has to be a change.  For another point of view, read about a school board member in Florida who decided to take the tests.

Corey, I know this didn't address the question about whether they obfuscate learning - it was geared more toward some of the other issues.  However this post is already way longer than most people will read, so I will have to get to that in another post.   Hopefully, this at least brought up some questions about what we are doing with standardized testing and placing such a high emphasis on them.

To the rest of you reading this, I graduated from high school in the top 12% of my class.  I was in the Honor Society.  I was a National Merit Scholar.  I scored a 35 out of 36 on the verbal portion of my ACTs.  I graduated Cum Laude from law school, and I passed the bar exam in 2 states.  I am a National Board Certified Teacher.  Here are my test scores from high school:

If a 70 is passing, and I was in the 69th percentile and you must pass both reading and math to graduate - should I have graduated?  Something to consider as you think about our new laws that require passing these tests to get a diploma.

Monday, November 28, 2011

It's all in the attitude!

Colonial Williamsburg
You don't know how much I needed that...

The article linked to above was brought to my attention by the Mid-Del Public Schools Foundation, with the comment that I might have something to add.  What a high compliment indeed!  Seeing as this was a post on Facebook, I knew I wouldn't have enough space to answer there.  Fortunately for me, I have my very own blog I can use.  :D

Reading that article made me think about what I would tell a first year teacher about professional development.  What could I offer to someone in the position that this young teacher was in?  What would it be like to be in place where there was such dissatisfaction with the profession and such bitterness?  I am very fortunate that I am not and have never been in such a position.  However, I know that it happens.  I expect it will be happening more and more as the "reformers" get their way.  So, what do I tell that young teacher?

1.  It all starts with an attitude.   You notice I don't say it starts with a good attitude.  I mean it starts with an ATTITUDE!  There is strength in attitude, and you are going to need all of it you can get.  Teaching is not easy.  It will challenge you in ways that you never expected.  It will tug at your heart strings, and it will frustrate you to no end.  Your students will challenge every belief you hold.  They will test you, annoy you and challenge you.  They will also love you unconditionally, celebrate your every achievement and depend on you for more than you ever thought they would.  For some, you are the only constant.  For some, you are the only one who shows them love.  For some, you are the only one who listens to them.  For some, you are the only one who teaches them.  At least for the short time you have them.  What does this have to do with Professional Development?  Everything.  Because THEY are why you do it.  Not your administrators, not the politicians, not your friends, family or colleagues.  Your students are the ones you work for.  In the end, remembering that will get you through all kinds of trials.

2.  Don't be afraid.  Don't be afraid to admit you don't know something, and don't be afraid to show your students that you don't know it -- yet.  Search out opportunities to increase your knowledge.  You will find that it will make your teaching more effective when you can follow the rabbit trails your students will lead you on.  Then you can re-direct your teaching to include their interests, or you can re-direct your students thinking so that they are no longer following an incorrect trail.

Don't be afraid to go alone.  You may not be able to find anyone to attend a Professional Development program with you.   Go anyway.  You will make connections there that you might not have if you were there with others you know.  It will pull you out of your comfort zone, and that is necessary for growth.

Don't be afraid to try something new.  It may or may not work, but whatever happens you will have learned something - and so will your students.  Bring something back from every program you attend and try it in the classroom.  You never know what might strike a chord in your students.  You may reach them in a way you never could have before.

Don't be afraid to lead.  You may not be a veteran teacher - yet - but you still have something to offer.   Share what you learn from the programs you attend.  Be willing to help others do what you are doing, and always make the time.  The more open you are with your ideas and your time, the better chance you have at being able to change those bitter attitudes.  On the flip side, be willing to listen.  Veteran teachers have put in the time - they know their stuff.

Standing in the cupola at Mt. Vernon
3.  Don't depend on someone to do it for you.   Go out and find opportunities that interest you.  If you only go to mandatory professional development, chances are you are going to be very bored.  Not that some of them aren't fun and engaging, but really....how much fun can you have learning about FERPA, blood born pathogens or API analysis?  Not to say you can't get anything out of them - remember #1. Use those to bond with your colleagues.  Outside of mandatory PD, there are tons of opportunities for you to go to workshops across the curriculum.  Not only that, there are people who are willing to pay you to do it!  I've traveled across the country on someone else's dime so that I can go do something that is a blast.  I've played with robots, seen the rings of Saturn, watched the sun through a telescope and built moon landers.  I've climbed mountains, dug for fossils, walked the streets of Williamsburg and enjoyed the sunset from the porch of Mount Vernon.  I've learned photography from people who have photographed the President, Lady Bird Johnson, America's Top Model and a hidden tribe in Africa.  Apply for anything and everything.  You never know!

4.  Have an open mind.  You may teach a defined curriculum, but you don't have to restrict yourself to what you teach.  Be flexible in both the content and the grade level of the professional development you find.  You can always adapt what you learn to what you teach, and it will show your kids that learning is a never ending process.  Some of my best lessons for my elementary school classroom have come from high school level professional development.

Freddy is looking at the sun (and yes, I did too!)
5.  Be willing to put yourself in the place of your students. I don't mean the student at the top of the class either.  I mean the one who struggles.  That means taking workshops in areas that you don't do very well in .  For me, it was science.  I was always a good student, so struggling was not something I was used to.  However, science and math were the subjects where I only took the required courses and nothing further.  That was limiting my teaching, so I started looking for science workshops.  I ended up in a graduate level science class at Penn State.  They gave us homework to do before we got there, including reading several articles in an astronomy magazine and answering some essay questions about them.  I read and read and read, and I still only understood about every third word.  And I'm an excellent reader, with an extensive vocabulary!  On one question, they asked me to explain what I thought the author was trying to convey in the article.  I started my answer with "I have no idea what he was talking about, but here is what I thought he said."  In class, it wasn't any better except that I got to ask lots of questions.  I remember one lunch break another student came up to me and said "I'm so glad you are asking all of those questions.  I didn't want to look stupid."  A backhanded compliment to say the least!  No matter how silly I might have looked, I came away with far more knowledge about space than I had before, and I used that back in my class.  As a result, I was able to give some new assignments that reached one of my students who had been completely unengaged in school.  Space fascinated him, and he was willing to do more reading and math when it was connected to science.  Not to mention, I now have complete sympathy for my lowest students.  I've been there! 

I don't know how encouraging all of that is.  It makes it look like a lot of work.  I suppose it is, but you have such a good time doing it, who cares!

The original article was more about how professional development needs to change.  I have some suggestions about that, too.  However, that will have to be another blog post.  My point here is that maybe some of it does, but often times it is the attitude of the teachers that make the difference.  If every teacher makes the effort to become engaged in every professional development they attend, the entire issue would be moot.  If one teacher makes the effort and shares that spark, it will travel.  Maybe not quickly, and maybe not to everyone, but it will travel.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Procrastination is not my friend!

In fact, procrastination is causing me no end of problems - not the least of which is that I have no idea what I'm supposed to be doing, when I'm supposed to be doing it or where the things are that I need to have to get it done!  So, I'm beginning a campaign to fix the problem.  I figure I'll start small - one project to be done every day.   To be honest, those "projects" can be part of a larger project or a complete task all in its own.  I figure at one a day, I can finish this project in - oh....say....a few decades.  I think I'm going to have to pick up the pace at some point, but for now this will work.

This is actually my second completed task of the day.  My intent to blog at least once a week has gone by the wayside for about a month now, so this has been on my list of things to get done for about 3 weeks.  My first task involved the pile of record albums that has been on my living room floor since I got a new entertainment center.  They are now quite contently located on a bookshelf.

Not a big project, but again one that has been on my list for over a month.  In the process, I believe I have discovered evidence that my mother did not always return items "borrowed" from her siblings.  Now I haven't given her an opportunity to defend herself, so there may be a perfectly reasonable explanation for this: 

We'll see what she has to say.  In the meantime, my project for tomorrow is these two boxes:

 I don't have a clue what is in them or why they are in my living room, so who knows what I will find!

A few of you have asked how I'm doing on my diet change.  I have to admit, I did really well for about 2 weeks, and then life happened and I let it get away from me.  Tomorrow I'll hop back on to the wagon - adding my juicing back into the daily routine and dropping the sugar out.  I will also be limiting my dairy and red meat. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Feather Boas and Tiaras

You thought I was kidding, didn't you?  Come on...be honest...

Nope.  Not this time.  I did indeed start off my day with a feather boa and a tiara.  Suzy has borrowed them for the evening.  She's just that kind of cow.  Why, you ask did I start off my day with a feather boa and a tiara?

Remember that grant project I worked on for a couple of years?  The one to get the iPod Touches for our school?  Last year we got our iPods, and we spent the year learning how to use them in the class, teaching others how to do so and in general just creating new ways to use technology with our kiddos.  All of this was done with the money and support from the K20 Center at OU.  Well, it turns out (and this was a complete surprise to me) that they also have an award to "[celebrate] educators who have demonstrated the ability to link student learning with the innovative use of technology and the K20 IDEALS."  They call it the SKIE award (Supporting K20 Innovative Educators).  This morning, the people from K20 came to our school to present my friend and co-worker, Regina Hartley, and myself with said award!  Yay us!

My Principal knew about this yesterday, I guess, so she called an assembly this morning and they did the presentation at the assembly.  She also gifted us with said feather boas and tiaras. 

Of course, I am pleased with the award, but I think my favorite part of it all was listening to some of the comments that came my way throughout the day.  Sara Snodgrass from K20 said she uses our model to teach everyone else what to do with this kind of technology in the classroom.  My students from both this year and last year told me that they knew when they started talking about an award for technology that I was going to win it because I taught them so much about it and with it.  Another person told me that she would love to be in my class because whenever she looks into my room, they are always doing something neat.  I was even told that it was interesting to look into my room because they could never find me when they did.  I was always in the middle of the students.

We had fun with the whole thing - all of my students tried on my boa.  :D  At the presentation, the people from K20 said that the award comes with a check (no idea how much of a check, just a check).  I guess my kids didn't quite understand what was said because they asked why they were giving me a chicken.  

I know that there are a ton of responsibilities that come with the award.  I will be presenting at the K20 Conference next year.  This year too, but that will be with our grant team, I think.  I'll be meeting the board of the K20 Center and others involved with the program.  All in all, a good platform to talk to others about the problems we have been having in education.  I am excited to see what this opportunity brings.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

I can do it!

Just for those of you who doubt - I can organize!  Really!  Today, it was this:

 You can see that the gnomes have been hard at work.  You can't even see the 4 globes over to the left hand side.  Those were one of the first things to go.  Can you spot the problem with them? 
I last saw one of these in 6th grade!               

My co-workers and I spent almost two hours after school getting rid of a bunch of this stuff.  Yes, I know...we teachers are only supposed to work 4 hours a day.  However, sometimes we just get desperate. 

After Veronica and I tried to actually get something out of this closet, we decided that we (plus Carol) would be janitorial staff this evening.  We filled an entire dumpster.   Yes, starting with a completely empty one. 
Yup.  Records, slides & monster computers to play them.

We don't even have the equipment to use some of these things anymore!    Can you imagine if we tried to get the kids to use one of those monster computers?!  I even threw out some software that was on 5 1/4" disks.  I'm not sure you can find anything to read those anymore!

In addition to the dumpster full, we had quite a collection of old electronics.  We didn't throw that stuff away though - just turned it over to the office so they could send it to the warehouse.  But someone else can clean out the warehouse!

Doesn't it look better!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Another busy Saturday

Whew!  What a busy day!  I started early, early with a trip to the closest Weight Watchers to weigh in for the Dr. Oz Transformation Nation challenge.  We'll see how it goes, but I have two steps left to qualify for the contest in April - see my Dr. and lose 10% of my body weight.  Both are very doable, and to win a chance for a  million dollars?  Why not? 

As for my plan (remember, I did say I'd have one by Saturday) - I've decided to start with the Reboot, with elements of Whole 30.  If I tried to explain all of that here, it would make this blog post way too long!  Practically, what it means is that (for now) I won't be eating meat, dairy, soy or sugar (including honey, agave, artificial, etc.).  I also won't be adding salt to my meals - just herbs.

Following that quick stop, Bella and I headed down to the Czech Festival in Yukon.  It was a beautiful day!   We met this guy first thing when we got there.  He was looking at us a little suspiciously, but his owner says he was just preparing himself for his job.  He was just getting ready to go give little kids rides in a coral.  I'm sure that takes lots of mental preparation.  As we passed by him and his friends, we noticed that they smelled oddly like Pledge.  I asked the gentleman, and he says it is fly spray....I don't know - they were shiny and everything.

 We spent the whole morning wandering around outside, and we stayed for a bit of the parade and some of the music before we were off on our next adventure. 

We wanted to stop at the Railroad Museum, but it was closed.  Maybe next time.

After we left the Czech Festival, we were on our way to the Asian market when I realized we were passing right by the Oklahoma City Farmer's Market - and it was still open!  So, we made a quick stop there for some locally grown fresh veggies.   Yum! 

Then we continued on our way to the Asian Market for more fresh veggies.  Bella was very valuable with her knowledge of different types of leafy vegetables.
And I forgot to put in the Green Papaya
 I would have take a picture, but this time I actually read the sign on the front door that said "no cameras."  :(  Although, I have to admit, I did sneak some pictures of the signs on the display so that I could remember what I was eating.  I got a ton of fresh vegetables for under $20!

We left the Asian market to head back to Norman, and wouldn't you know it - there was Spiritfest right there in front of us at the Westminster Presbyterian Church.  There were dancers and booths and a car show going on.  Of course we had to stop.  We had plenty of time for another adventure, especially since the game was a night game, so traffic wouldn't be bad for hours yet.

Bella enjoyed the car show!

They just danced around the little girl.

One more quick stop at Sam's for some fruit and we were on our way back home - well before game traffic!  Although, Sam's was packed!  I know better than to shop on a home game day, but my refrigerator needed to be filled and I didn't want to make a special trip on Sunday.  Boring housework followed, but then I ended my day surrounded by TVs and Sooner fans watching the game and having one last burger before my meatless time begins Sunday.

Boomer!  Sooner!!!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

"Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead"

This was in my e-mail today
 Yesterday I watched "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead" on Netflix.  It wasn't quite what I expected.  I expected it to be boring.  I mean, really...how exciting can it be to watch a guy drink juice for 60 days?  I have to admit, I was wrong.  I actually watched it through without even picking up a book or playing Sudoku on my phone.  :)  I wasn't overly impressed with the cartoon parts, but I guess they were a different way to explain some of the scientific parts.  I'm used to seeing stuff like that, as I show it to my 3rd graders all the time.  Having seen what some of the adults in the movie had to say, maybe that should be the target intelligence level.  That brings me to the points that really stuck out about the whole thing:

1)  America has become a culture of idiots; and

2)  I'm one of the idiots.

How sad is that?  Normally, I can sit back and watch stupid people on TV and be quite comfortable that I am not one of them.  I work hard, I learn new things all the time.  I keep up with what is going on in the world.  I travel, and I make it a point to experience different things all the time.  I can answer most of the questions on Jaywalking, so I can't be one of the idiots, right?

Unfortunately, in this case, it just isn't true.  I am just as bad as they are.  Person after person in the movie, fat, thin, muscular, tall, short, healthy, not healthy - all of them repeating the same thing.  "Yes, I know what I eat is bad for me."  "Yes, I know it can kill me."  "Yes, I know there are better choices."  "No, I'm not going to change anything."  "If I die next week, at least I'll die eating good food."   "I can see that what you are doing is working.  Great job.  No, I'm not interested."  "It looks too hard."  "I don't have the will power."  "I don't have the time."  "Fast food is just so convenient." 

In my head I hear all the times I have said just those things.  "It's hard."  "I'm just too busy to eat right."  "I have no willpower."  "It's too difficult to cook for just one person."  "It's easier to go through the drive through."  Sound familiar? 

You know the next thing that went through my head?  I would never accept those excuses - yes, that's right, I said excuses - from my students. 

"It's too hard, Miss P."  "I know it's hard, but we have to work through hard things.  It will get easier." 
"I was too busy to do my homework."  "Bummer, dude.  You still owe recess.  It is your responsibility to make the time to get it done."
 "I just can't do it, Miss P."  "I don't accept that.  You can do anything you really want to do."  "Can't and don't want to are not the same."

So, now what?  I know the problem.  I know the solution.  Am I going to let myself continue to make excuses?  Am I going to continue to be an idiot?  I sure hope not.  I know everyone says if  you are really committed to the change, you start immediately.  I'm not doing that.  I'm taking the next couple of days to figure out a plan.  I'll do better with a plan.  However, I did take one step already. 

Meet my new juicer - well, soon to be mine.  I had been saving for a treadmill, but I think this will do me more good right now.  It should be here by Friday.  If it's not, then I'll just start with whole fruits and veggies.

Will I do a complete juice fast?  Unlikely - at least not for 60 days.  However, I am committed to adding more fruits & veggies to my diet, and I like juices.  This seems like something I can do.  Will I give up meat, dairy, etc. completely?  Again, unlikely in the long term.  However, for the short term I think I am going to have to.  I am also looking at Whole 30.  I'll figure it out by Saturday, which is as much time as I've allowed myself.  It is also my grocery shopping day. 

But it's going to be hard, and I don't have a lot of will power, and it is inconvenient, and I don't have time. 

Bummer, dude.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Were the 12 hour days worth it?

This week was Parent-Teacher Conference week.  That meant two 12 hour days crammed full of meetings in every spare minute.  However, it also meant we had today off.  Was it worth it?  Absolutely!
I started out my morning by sleeping in.  Who wouldn't?!  However, not for long.  I wanted to get out and about.  My first stop of the day was at the Oklahoma State Fair.  What better way to spend a gorgeous Fall day than wandering around the Fair?  Besides, breakfast was waiting...
State Fair Cinnamon Rolls
Cinnamon Roll & Milk - yummmm!

It's a once a year treat, and the best cinnamon rolls ever!

Silver Dollar Cinnamon Rolls
Obviously I was not the only one with this idea!

The Fair was barely open, but people were already lining up for this treat.  Smart people!

After breakfast, it was time to wander around the buildings.  I have to admit, I am disappointed in most of the offerings - everything has become so commercial.  I loved the Made in Oklahoma building though - especially the animal exhibits set up for the kids.

Baby chick asleep at a water dish
Poor tired little guy! Just waiting for the water to come to him.

After a few hours at the Fair, it was on to a new adventure.  This time to something completely different - an Asian supermarket.  I have a hard enough time trying to figure out the Asian aisle at Target, but I have heard good things about this place, and I really wanted to go see what it was like.
Front of the Super Cao Nguyen Supermarket
A much, much nicer building than the first one!

When I first drove up, I was a bit worried.  The windows were dirty, one corner was boarded up and everything was pretty dingy.  Then I realized that it was also empty.  Since I knew it was still in business, I decided to drive around a bit and see what was what.  I was quite pleasantly surprised to find the new location.

Once inside, I was a bit overwhelmed.  The place is huge, and filled with things I don't recognize and can't read!  I did discover that the nutritional information was in English on most things, so I could read the ingredients.  However, that was only helpful on things with nutrition labels.  :D  The store also put signs in English on some of the more interesting items, like the hot pink duck eggs.  Apparently, they are died pink to make sure they are distinguishable from something else that I couldn't understand.

Produce aisle at the Super Cao Nguyen
This was only part, and it was all fresh!

They had a tremendous produce department.  Lots of things we don't normally see, like bunches of fresh mint and tons of varieties of mushrooms.  Plus more things I couldn't read or identify!

The meat department was quite interesting.  Lots of things a standard market doesn't keep out front, like livers and tongues and various and assorted feet.  Pigs feet (with a separate section for front feet and back feet - do they taste different?), beef feet, chicken feet...lots and lots of feet.  What does one do with them?  I will certainly go back for the fish.  They had some frozen, but most of it fresh - including sushi grade tuna.  There was a guy behind the counter fileting fish, so I know it came whole, and not in pieces from a factory somewhere.  Then there were these:

Fresh fish
I wouldn't have a clue what to do with these.

 and right after that, tanks of crabs, lobsters, oysters and catfish all swimming around.  Well, the oysters weren't going anywhere, but they were in a tank.   Yes, I will definitely go back.  However, at least for now, it will be with a specific recipe in mind and pictures of what the ingredients should look like!

Someplace Else
I've been going here for over 20 years, and it hasn't changed a bit!

Before I headed back to the house, I made one more stop.  This time to one of my favorite sandwich shops - and one I rarely get to visit!  When I was taking this picture, one of the employees came by and asked if I was from out of town.  I guess they get a lot of tourists taking pictures?  "No," I told him, "I'm local....just blogging!"