All posts in the CLMOOC category

A Well-spent Week

Published November 10, 2014 by accentsmagazinekeanuniversity

I live a simple life.  No SmartPhone.  No cable TV.  No television reception whatsoever in my home–by choice.  No iPod, iPad, laptop, or other portable Internet connection devices.  I have a simple cell phone without a data plan, and I’m not a slave to it, wandering around with it plastered to my face like a band-aid on my forehead.  I answer it when I choose to, and most often I ignore it.  I have a desktop computer, which I mostly use to play Scrabble/Words with Friends, to email, and to check out some  photo ops posted by my friends on Facebook–in addition to using it to complete my homework assignments.  The lone media I enjoy is the radio, and even at times I turn it off to relish the silence.  I may be the rarity in a world filled with multimedia, but I prefer the simplicity of it.  In honor of the media deprivation, I present to you a poem.


A Well-Spent Week


A week without a cell phone won’t make me weak,

One hour without the radio lets me think

Without distraction, it’s awareness I seek.

I can be deprived longer of the media stink,

When I know that I’ll be cognizant of the meek,

While all around me will be the familiar wink

Of friends not distracted, deprived of the reek

Like me, testing selves, staying strong, don’t shrink

To the media hype, don’t do it, don’t peek

At your cell phone!  Hold on!  Face goes pink

As the moment passes and a new dawn sneaks

Out, and I cheer myself and others with a clink

Of glasses in commemoration of a well-spent week.


5 images X 1,000 words = I’ve got a lot to say!

Published July 31, 2014 by accentsmagazinekeanuniversity

Six short weeks ago the CLMOOC 2014 edition began, and it is soon to end.  In these short 6 weeks I’ve learned some new technology, collaborated with other CLMOOCers, and had lots of fun in the process.  I really don’t want this kind of fun learning to end, but life (and work) goes on.  The inspiration won’t be leaving me any time soon!

The task in the 6th and final Make Cycle in the CLMOOC was to make a 5-Image Story.  It was fun, not seemingly difficult, and a bit addictive once I got going with it.  The major process of this Make was to choose ONLY five images to tell a story.  Being the shutterbug that I am, I have sooooo many photos to choose from.  This was no small task to sort through the thousands of photos I have and create a story from it.

My first attempt—and to make a quick post—led me to look for photos in Google Images on a topic near and dear to my heart—Union Beach, NJ.  There were so many photos on the Internet that it still wasn’t an easy task to choose ONLY five to make a story from all that I saw, but I chose five and made my first 5-Image Story.  My description of the story was simple:  “If a picture is worth 1,000 words, then here’s my 5,000 word contribution.”  Some of the comments from those who viewed the images were “poignant” or “wow” or “powerful” and Kevin Hodgson even said, “That first house …. gosh …. more than a 1000 words there” when he was looking at the iconic photo of the half house, which made the cover of Newsweek magazine.  There really is much to tell about a story, just by looking at a photo.  Add four more photos, and I could write a book based on what I know about this small beach town in New Jersey.

In my second attempt to make a 5-image story (below), I sorted through some of my artwork and looked for images with the similar shapes and colors to make a collage.  The most obvious photo in the collage is that of a large eye—my eye—manipulated in PhotoShop.  It was looking, watching, observing, and noticing all that surrounded it, which were photos with shapes of circles in the various shades of greens and blues, and with other colors, too.  The iris of an eye is also in the shape of a circle, which goes along with the theme I was striving to point out, which was inspired by the song “Windmills of Your Mind” and all of its circle metaphors.

My artwork represents some of the crafts I have learned while a college student.  It was just 5 years ago when I received my bachelor’s degree, and at that time was taking several studio arts classes.  The photography class, with Joe Sharp as a professor, allowed me to explore what I could do with a camera and use my imagination, as well as learn how to use Adobe PhotoShop.  The stained glass class led me to be part of a team to create a mosaic bathroom sink and mural above it, which was a collaborative effort of mine along with 4 other classmates to turn a sad, dark little bathroom on the campus of Georgian Court University in Lakewood, NJ, into a stunning work of art.  I think that was accomplished, don’t you?  The three photos along the bottom of the 5-Image Story are probably not what you think and all were manipulated in PhotoShop.  The left photo was a stained glass piece, which was actually red, white, and blue, then manipulated to draw out the other colors of the spectrum.  The center photo is a daisy sent spiraling like it was in a pool of water, and the bottom right photo is a pancake in a frying pan, giving the impression of something almost cosmic.  My children thought I was crazy snapping photos of breakfast, still in the pan!

Crazy or not, the mind works in mysterious ways; ways which seemingly run in circles, lest nothing would be remembered if the circle didn’t return to its origin for some information.  To quote one of the metaphors from “Windmills of Your Mind,” I find that my mind is “like a snowball down a mountain” with my mind going round and round yet constantly adding new “snow” to the circle; snow in the form of information to add to the size of the circle—new knowledge.  Eventually some of the snow will melt in there, but the memory of most of it will remain.  (I’m thinking about a computer’s hard drive at the moment, like my mind is the circle there, and the snow which has melted is the part of the disk that has been cleaned up and defragmented.)

There is so much good information to be shared and learned, and the CLMOOC has certainly done that for me these past weeks.   By using my imagination, I created some unusual works of art, with stories to be told or imagined.  Being creative is what I’m all about, and it’s the way my mind works when I make it my own.

5 image story tweet

This Little Light of Mine

Published July 17, 2014 by accentsmagazinekeanuniversity

For the past several days I’ve been lurking in the light to come up with something for the CLMOOC Make Cycle #5, which is about “Storytelling with Light.”  Once in a while I like to lurk to see what others are posting and to give myself a little bit more time to present something worthwhile.  How was I going to tell a story about light, tell a story using only light, or come up with something unique?  Well, I had decided to learn about light before I could even begin to contemplate a story I wanted to tell.

Since I’m not really the scientific type, I recalled only a few types of light learned in my most recent chemistry class, but what I had learned there was mostly about the wavelengths of light.  Then I asked myself what types of light are there that I might encounter on any given day?  There are the literal kinds of light (like fluorescent light, etc.), and then there are the figurative types of light (love light, etc.).  So after doing quite a bit of research on the topic of light, and learning about the different types of light, I still needed to do some kind of storytelling with light.  I volunteer at a lighthouse, so what better story is there to tell than that of the strongest man made light beam installed in a lighthouse in the United States in 1841—the Fresnel (pronounced “fruh’-nell”) Lens.

Twin Lights looking south

The photo above is that of the Navesink Light Station, called Twin Lights and located in Highlands, NJ, looking south towards Sea Bright, NJ (with only the South Tower in view, as I was standing in the North Tower to take the photo).  As a volunteer for the Twin Lights for the last 3 years, I have learned about some of the history of this lighthouse, and have visited many other lighthouses, mostly in New Jersey, around the Great Lakes region, New York, and Maine. The importance of the Twin Lights rests in its proximity to New York City.  The Sandy Hook Lighthouse is the oldest remaining colonial era lighthouse (built in 1764) and still operating.  It was formerly called the New York Lighthouse, since it was closest to New York City at the time it was built—and it is visible when standing in the tower of the Twin Lights Lighthouse and looking north.

As a volunteer at Twin Lights, one of the most frequently asked questions is, “Why are there two lighthouses?”  Though I don’t know the official answer to that question, I surmise that it has to do with the era in which the lighthouses were built.  In 1862, when the current Twin Lights replaced the crumbling 1828 Twin Lights, our nation was still not industrialized and relied heavily on goods and services from Europe.  For example, even though cotton was being grown in the southern states, there were no textile mills where the cotton could be woven into fine fabrics, so it was shipped to England and eventually returned to the states.  Remember that at this time there was no radar, no radio, and no depth finders, etc. for these cargo ships to use to locate New York City, which was THE place to come to in the United States.  Lighthouses were the primary source of sighting land at the time, especially as ships approached at night.

Each lighthouse had its own unique light pattern, for example, the Twin Lights had one light that was fixed—shining its beam straight out and flashed at an interval of 5 seconds on and 5 seconds off—and one light that revolved with a constant beam.  The Sandy Hook Lighthouse had a fixed light that also flashed, but with different intervals.  The way a lighthouse is painted (the “day mark”) is also unique, and the pattern of the lights and day marks were known to the ship captains of the day, probably handed down through the generations, and was the GPS of the day.  The constant revolving beam of the Twin Lights South Tower’s Fresnel Lens was so powerful that the reflection of it could be seen in the sky 70 miles from shore; the source of the light couldn’t be seen (because of the curve of the earth), but the reflection could.  The strength of this light was also known to the sea captains, so if they could see a powerful light reflecting in the sky and couldn’t see the source of the light, they knew that they were approaching New York City and the Twin Lights.

There currently are several places around the world where there are twin and even triplet lighthouses next to each other, but there is no other place in the world where there are two lighthouses up on a hill and one down below at the shore line, like there is with the combination of the Twin Lights and the Sandy Hook Lighthouses.  So, to answer the initial question of “Why are there two lighthouses?” the answer received is that there really are three lighthouses, which are close to each other (less than 5 miles apart), because it makes it really special—one-of-a-kind—and could easily be spotted by sailing ships.

The Fresnel Lens is no longer in the South Tower (if you look closely at the photo, you will see that the lens room is empty), but is on display in the Generator Building portion of the museum, where it revolves as it once did in the South Tower, and is available for the public to view.

A little anecdote/piece of history:  The Fresnel Lens was so powerful that when it was installed in 1841 and made its 360º turn, it would keep the cows awake —all night—at the farms located behind the lighthouse and beyond.  The cows wouldn’t give milk if they didn’t sleep, so the farmers wrote a letter to their congressman to ask that something be done about the light.  This resulted in the back 1/3 of the lens rooms to be blacked out (also blacked out in the 1862 Twin Lights, which is visible it the above photo), so that the light didn’t shine behind the lighthouse, where it wasn’t needed.

For more information on the Twin Lights Lighthouse, visit the website or come for a visit.  If you come on a Sunday afternoon, you’ll usually find me volunteering in the Museum Shop.  The lighthouse is open year round:  Memorial Day through Labor Day, open 7 days and beginning after Labor Day through Memorial Day, open Tuesday through Sunday.


Hacked to Life

Published July 12, 2014 by accentsmagazinekeanuniversity


This week’s task in the CLMOOC Make Cycle #4 has caused quite a stir within the Google+ Community.  The topic was to “Hack Your Writing,” and the term “hack” has left more than a few within the community to ponder the term and its meaning, when it is paired with their “writing.”  There is at least one member of the community who is outright at odds with it.  The Oxford English Dictionary shows various meanings of the word “hack” (as a verb), and its word origin comes from an Old English word which meant “to cut in pieces”—which is the literal version of hack.  Is there a figurative hack?  Hmm?

My own journey to create something from a hacked work of my own led me to find a fun website, posted by another CLMOOC member; it involves drawing and words.  (There is still a lot more I want to investigate on that site, too.)  I played with the site until I got the hang of it—and remembered that I had to SAVE my work, if I wanted it to be posted to the CLMOOC site!  The first attempt at this Visual Poetry was done with a poem that I had started a while back, added a little bit more to it, and it really has, as Dr. Zamora called it, a Dr. Seuss quality about it.  Most of my poems tend to be silly, usually rhyme, and this one also makes little or no sense at all.  It was just writing and rhyming, and it was made with a lyrical quality of meter to add to the whimsy of the moment.  Since I like to be creative, this Visual Poem is titled Bcre8iv.

My second attempt at Visual Poetry is the one at the top of this page.  I call it the Heartbeat of the CLMOOC, since I lifted lines from five members who had posted their own Visual Poetry—I gave credit where credit was due—and put those lines together with my own line, to form a connection with a new meaning.  I connected the work of six members of the CLMOOC to make one collaborative poem.

Even though there were CLMOOC members who seemed at a loss for “hack’s” meaning, they and others created some very original pieces of work.  There were so many great ones, but I chose several of my favorites to reflect on here:  Larry Hewett physically cut the pages of a book to create a gorgeous work of freestanding art with butterflies at its center; Craig Russell made an interesting paper sculpture called a “hacku’ which sounds like a blended word of “hacked” and “haiku”; Christina Cantrill hacked the pages of her journal to create some beautiful and very colorful waves in an artistic fashion; Tabitha Rhodes made a collage out of a six word memoir, which has a lot of texture and depth to it; and Kevin Hodgson hacked my poem and put the words to music!!!  Thank you, Kevin, I feel so special!  The one thing all of these works have in common is that each person gave new life to something old or recently written—they hacked their writing or the writing of others (and gave credit where credit was due).

The CLMOOC members, in general, post so much good information on a daily basis that it seems near impossible to read through and synthesize it all.  I tend to look for anything that seems more tangible than just the written word, hence my “favorites” listed above, which are all something to touch, with the exception of the music, but the music touched me—I did not touch it.  All of these works are what each CLMOOC member feels is fitting as a hacked work.  Hacked has many meanings, even in the Oxford English Dictionary.

Dr. Frankenstein may have been the first “hacker” since he took parts and put those parts together to create new life out of old, though in a freakish, gruesome, electrifying manner.  My hacking, I feel, isn’t gruesome, but it did give new life to something old, or recently written.  So, after lurking around the CLMOOC for Make Cycle #4 this past week, I finally decided that to “Hack Your Writing” meant to create new life out of something old—my writing was Hacked to Life.  This may be a new meaning for the dictionary, but it’s my meaning, and I’m sticking to it!  It gave meaning to what I had written and it was tweaked a bit, but I made it my own.



Racko and Yahtzee and Lincoln Logs, Oh, My!

Published July 2, 2014 by accentsmagazinekeanuniversity

Games of My Youth

Reminiscing about games in the CLMOOC Make Cycle 3, and the part those games played in my youth, has me marching down memory lane with a deck of cards in one hand and a box of Lincoln Logs in the other.  Growing up with two older brothers had instantly furnished me with their hand-me-down games, and after a birthday gift or two, I would also get some new ones.  My favorites were card games like Mille Bornes, Racko, and Gin Rummy; though I also liked to make things with Erector Sets, Mouse Trap, and building blocks, among others.

As I grew a bit older, I came to prefer number games and word games.  Number games like Yahtzee—using dice to get the highest score—gave me an awareness of adding and multiplying, even though I probably didn’t realize it at the time.  Playing hangman with my friends was in its simplest form, as no more than a 7 lettered word was allowed and once the head, body, and all four limbs were drawn, no more turns were permitted—today’s youth would probably draw a face on the head, with little x’s where the eyes would be to symbolize death (and to get more turns).

Sometime around the fourth grade, I recall a rainy day in-class activity which the teacher would impose on the class during the recess period.  It must have been the week of George Washington’s birthday in February, because we were tasked with trying to make as many words as possible by using the letters in George Washington’s name, but only using a letter as many times as it appeared in his name—for example, you can only use one S in any word, but two O’s were allowed.  With my fourth grade vocabulary, I usually managed to come up with the most words in the class (occasionally beat out by my best friend).  I would start out by rhyming everything with WASH, or at least make it look like it rhymed—rash, gash, ash—then move on to rhyming with TON—won, son—and keep on going with whatever came to mind.

It seemed that every rainy, snowy, or other foul-weathered recess period would include this type of game from then on.  I really didn’t mind, since I felt that it was one game I could usually win.  Once in a while this name word game would have us use our own name in order to make the words.  Well, I was a shoo-in to win, since I had the longest name in the class and had 14 of the 26 letters of the alphabet to use, with multiple A’s, Bs, Es, I’s, Ls, and Ns.  My fourth grade teacher plied us with a reward of candy, so the winner would get 5 pieces, the second place person would get 3, third would get 2, and the rest of the class would get 1 piece each, just for trying.

Word games became my forte, and from there I moved on to word fill-ins and crossword puzzles (Four years of high school French and two semesters of college Spanish have helped me with my foreign words in crossword puzzles, too).  I still like to play number games, but words easily flowed out of me, which allowed me to create poems and make up words, which aided me with my rhyming—now I understand poetic license and Dr. Seuss’s need to rhyme something with Sneetches.  Writing stories to go along with the pictures I drew was also a favorite activity of mine.  (My stories were much better than my drawings.)  I mastered spelling in a flash, and can honestly say that the only word I ever misspelled on a test was CALENDAR, and it is a memory so indelibly etched in my brain, that I never misspelled it again!

All in all, words are my friends, and I’ve become a bit of a wordsmith/lexophile, thanks to my many years of playing word games and writing.  If it wasn’t for the rote memorization taught during my youth, I may not be where I am today in terms of writing in an academic setting.   Creative writing and poetry, I feel, are my most proficient gifts.  It seems to be what I was destined to do and to go about it making it my own.







Meme me up, Scotty!

Published June 25, 2014 by accentsmagazinekeanuniversity

dog meme

This week’s CLMOOC Make Cycle 2 task was to create a meme (rhymes with beam).  OK, what is a meme?  That’s the million dollar question, and it took me a while to finally figure it out, but I think I got the right answer.  In it’s most basic form, a meme is a photo with a snappy quote, usually a direct quote from pop culture, a movie, a song, etc., or with one word changed in the phrase.  The idea is to make the words take on a different meaning when displayed with the photo, like the one I’ve presented here.

For the dog owners out there, perhaps you can relate to the words from The Police song “Every Breath You Take” since a dog will literally always be watching you, with every breath you take, every move you make, every single day, and every word you say.  Sting wrote this song in about a half hour one night (according to Wikipedia), but  he had a different idea in his head about its meaning, when he said, “It sounds like a comforting love song. I didn’t realize at the time how sinister it is. I think I was thinking of Big Brother surveillance and control.”  Of course, Sting’s meaning and mine are totally different, which is the idea of a meme, though his words inspired this meme.

Of course, there are those who would see this meme in a sinister way.  It could be Big Brother watching all the time, like Sting mentioned in his comment.  It could be taken as a government agency (which shall remain nameless), but which supposedly has a file on everyone, since it is always watching every step you take, every move you make, every single day, and listening to every word you say, but the song lyrics became the catch phrase for my meme.  Coming up with a catch phrase is somewhat difficult for me, since I am not a television watcher, so I miss out on the latest crazes in the pop culture world.  I rely on the Internet and my Facebook friends to see what everyone is talking about.  The latest seems to be about the World Cup games and the latest soccer player who bit another.  Several members of the CLMOOC posted their memes with the soccer theme, or with a biting theme.  I had to Google the soccer highlights to understand what was happening, which allowed me to understand that particular meme.

As for some of the other memes, well, suffice it to say that I just don’t always get it, but I’m not alone.  Judging from the comments of some CLMOOC members, they don’t always get it either.  I suppose there will be those who won’t understand my meme, though I tried to make it something that everyone could understand.  Evidently not everyone will understand every meme.  It’s OK if that happens.  Perhaps a meme and its ultimate meaning are directed to a specific audience.  Like reading a book, the author’s meaning and what one gets out of it may not necessarily be the same thing.  To each his/her own.  There are probably more possible ways to view the meme above, and perhaps someone would view it in the way in which I first perceived it, like a dog that is always watching, with baited breath for its human to come home and give it a pat on the head for a tail-wagging response.


To create my meme, I continued to study the CLMOOC members’ memes  for a couple of days to try to come up with a unique meme.  Once I finally understood what a meme is and had a photo and phrase in mind, I created it in PowerPoint and saved it as a .jpg, since my computer is so old and has next to no storage space for any of the downloads available/required to make memes.  The seems to be a popular site for creating memes from stock photos and adding your text.  I would rather make my meme from scratch.  I’d rather make it my own.

Creative time for the front porch.

Published June 23, 2014 by accentsmagazinekeanuniversity


As part of the CLMOOC Make Cycle 1, I was tasked with creating a “how to” guide of my choice.  Since I had a project in mind before the CLMOOC started, and even though I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, I felt that it was the perfect opportunity to get it done.  I am on an extremely limited budget, so I began looking around the house for objects to re-purpose for the project, which took no time at all.  I need look no further than the shed on my property.

My project involved taking two old deep sea fishing poles to make a curtain rod for my front porch.  The room is small–only 6′ X 12′, with two windows next to each other and the front door just a foot away from the windows.  Even though there are three windows across the front of the room, there is little natural light in the room because of a red maple tree hanging directly over and in front of the house, and the fact that the house faces north.  The valance originally in the room fit with the Americana decor, but lacked impact and didn’t let in the light.  So, in addition to re-purposing the fishing rods, I decided to create a new valance as well.

One pole had the reel attached, but the other didn’t.  I would have to use the two poles, as one pole wasn’t long enough to cover the span of the two windows.   A little creative measuring and tying together was done to make the two fit.  The reel end needed to hang over the bracket already in place.  I used twist ties found in my junk drawer—everyone I know has a junk drawer, and I am no exception—and I cut the twist ties to avoid excess ends dangling from the rods.

The new valance needed to be light and airy, so as not to block the light as the old fabric valance did.  I decided to use wide tulle ribbon in white and pale blue, as well as an extremely narrow blue and white gingham grosgrain ribbon—these ribbon spools  happened to be in my craft room, ready for the taking.  (OK, so I am a craft-a-holic and buy excess supplies when I find things on sale, just so I’m ready for a project such as this!)  The room now had some nautical knick knacks in it, so I decided to use seashells hot glued to the end of the ribbons, which would create an effect of the shells dangling almost as if drifting in the sea or floating on air.  (Yes, I also had shells, starfish, and sand dollars, too, which were remnants of the four large boxes of shells I brought home from Florida.  I picked up the shells, etc. on the beach after I spent an entire summer with my grandmother in Florida when I was 13.)

To begin the project, I gathered all of the materials and set to work measuring and plotting out the location of the shells along the ribbons.  After that work was accomplished, I began to experiment with the gluing, as I had never before used seashells and tulle together, and I didn’t know how the ribbon would react to the hot glue.  By trial and error, I found out that the hot glue wasn’t really sticking to the shells, and I decided to wash the shells because I thought there might be a coating of salt, or other substance causing the glue not to properly stick to the shells.  After a bit of testing, I came to realize that I was using way too much glue, and that I shouldn’t put it on the ribbon, but put it on the shell.   I adjusted the glue temperature to low, used just a dab on the shell before pressing to the ribbon, and voila!  It worked and the glue didn’t ooze out beyond the edge of the shell.

Next came the looping of the ribbon over the rod using a larks head knot (I knew how to do the knot, but didn’t know the name of it until I looked it up in my Encyclopedia of Knots).  Suffice it to say that it was a simple enough task, but very time consuming.  Getting the shells to face the right direction and not whack into each other caused me to do a lot of realigning of the ribbons and shells.

All in all, the project looks very attractive in my front porch and seems to be a real eye-catcher, especially for me, since I can’t seem to walk past the room without staring at my creation.  Even though the project took many more hours than I originally anticipated, I feel that it was well worth the effort, for the dramatic effect achieved, and it gives me a great sense of accomplishment and that I created it all by myself.  I made it my own.