Thursday, December 31, 2009

Winter Trip to Mammoth

Before Christmas, Laura and I got the chance to go to Mammoth for a couple of days. We spent most of our time in the small town you see in this picture, Crawley Lake. Laura's uncle lives there. We went with Laura's parents and with Sandy, their adorable border collie who you've met before. I called her snowdog the whole trip. You will see why later.
We did all sorts of fun things on the trip. We did not ski or snowboard but we did go snowshoeing, site seeing, shopping, and of course had plently of snowplay. Here is a great video of Laura having fun in the snow.

Haven't you always wanted to do that? As you can see, we had a lot of fun in the snow, even though it was so cold the whole time we were there. Since we had the snow dog with us, it was my goal to get her to play with me in the snow. This dog usually spends her days laying around the house sleeping. Let's just say that the snow wasn't her favorite thing. This video speaks for itself.

Did you go on any interesting trips over break or do anything exciting? Tell us about it.

No dogs were harmed in the making of this blog post

Sunday, December 13, 2009

We are ready for the holidays!

Today, Laura and I decorated our apartment for the holidays.  We decided not to get a tree this year.  We had two reasons for this decision.  First of all, our apartment is very small and there is really no room for a tree.  Second, we are trying to save our money to buy a house.  We need to save every penny in order to make it happen.

Instead of a tree we hung our ornaments from some garland.  Doesn't it look nice?

Can you tell that there are ornaments hanging there?  We actually collect ornaments wherever we go.  That big red one, that looks like Mickey's head, is from our summer trip to Disney World.  Laura also took a piece of white ribbon and strung small round ornaments on it.  She is very clever.

Here is my contribution.  I decided that since we cannot hang lights from the outside of our apartment, I would hang them inside.  Here they are hanging from our track lighting.  They actually wrap halfway around our entire apartment.  We are definitely in the holiday spirit now.  Oh, that other Mickey-looking thing is our advent calendar.  Yes, we are a bit obsessed with Disney.

Tell us what you have done to get ready for the holidays.  How does your family decorate?  Are there any unique traditions that your family does?  Tell us about it!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

"Mama, look at the chicken"

Laura and I decided to go to the LA Zoo today.  We happen to be members so why not? I love the zoo!  I can remember going to the zoo when I was in elementary school.  It has changed a lot since then. The main difference is that all of the primate exhibits have been updated and made way better than they used to be.   They are much nicer places for these animals to live.  One exhibit that we usually don't see, because it is way up at the top of the zoo, is the ostrich exhibit.  One little boy told his mom to look at the chicken.  That is one big chicken!

I love these little guys.  They are the Meerkats.  They have recently gained popularity since the show Meerkat Manor came out on Animal Planet.  I got to watch a movie about these tiny creatures on the plane during my summer vacation.

Did I mention that I love the monkeys?  Actually this is not a monkey, it is a Silverback Gorilla.  This big guy runs the place.  He is the man with the plan, the head cheese.  He didn't want to turn around.  I think this is because there were about 25 people trying to take his picture.  Would you turn around?

I just love this great shot of a tiger taken by Laura.  I think he is trying not to fall in the water.  Cats hate water you know.  A tiger is basically a really big cat, right?

Here I am with a big Gorilla.  Luckily this one is made of metal.  I wish I could get this close to the real one.  Do you think he would be that friendly?

And of course my favorite area of the zoo is the orangutan exhibit.  They have all of these ropes and straps hanging around for them to swing from and climb on.  They just get to play all day long.  I am very jealous.  It is because of these guys that I am going to name our first daughter "Oranga."  That way her full name will be "Oranga Laing."  Say it all together without pausing and you'll get why.  Have you ever been to the zoo?  If so, what is your favorite area? Tell us about it.

"What are you looking at?"

Sunday, November 1, 2009

What did you do with your extra hour?

Last night was Daylight Savings time. This is when you change your clocks either one hour ahead or one hour back. This time we set our clocks one hour back leaving us with extra time do whatever we wanted. Rather than sleep that extra hour away, we decided to go on a day-hike with our dog Sandy. Actually, she is Laura's parent's dog. We are dog sitting while they are in China. Check out this great shot of our burned up mountains which rise high above the Crescenta Valley.

I have been wanting to check out some of the trails in the Verdugo Mountains, which we can see every day from our classroom windows. First, we ventured up a small trail in the back of CV park. I always see this trail when I run at CV park but have never gone up it before. We found out the it leads to a small waterfall which only runs when it is raining. I would not recommend going up this trail because it is hard to tell where the trail goes. This is Laura with Sandy.

Here I am walking Sandy down the CV park trail. We decided to go and check out the Whiting Woods trail, which I read about on the Internet. This trail is actually a fire road so it is not easy to get lost.

Watch the video below to see how our day went.

Tell us what you did with your extra hour on Sunday. I hope you didn't spend it playing video games. The great thing about living in Southern California is that you have so many things you can do in nature. Whether it is a day at the beach or a hike in the hills, get outside and use some of that energy!

Isn't she cute?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Pupil Free Day Fun for Teachers

So you might be wondering what all of us teachers do on your pupil free days.  Well, today we got to do art!  We learned all about our new art program that we just got this year.  It is called "Arts Attack."  Here are some of our teachers completing their line monsters.

This is a picture of my line monster.  He has a saw blade nose and flames for hair.  We had tons of fun and leaned how to do some great art projects that I can't wait to do with our class. They are planning to display all of the teacher art in the auditorium.  Be sure to look for these great masterpieces. 

Have you ever done an art project that you just loved.  Tell us about it.  Who knows, maybe we will try it in our class???

Sunday, October 11, 2009

My Favortie Restaurant

For years now my favorite place to eat out, when I don't mind spending a bit of money, is Outback Steakhouse.  Luckily, they recently put one in Glendale which makes it so easy for me to get there.  I just love their delicious bread, salads, sides, and of course...steak!

My favorite item on the menu to order is the ribeye steak.  This is by far the greatest cut of steak in my opinion.  It is so juicy and flavorful.  I sometimes like to order the prime rib instead.  If I am in the mood for spiciness, I order my prime rib "Outback Style," which means they sear it with tons of spices.  They recently added a wedge salad to the menu, which I love.  It comes out as a whole wedge of uncut lettuce, covered in dressing, grape tomatoes, blue cheese, bacon, and red tasty. It is fun to chop up.  I also like to order the loaded baked potato as one of my sides.  And I have to have a side of Tigerdill dipping sauce, which is Outback's take on the classic horseradish sauce. This is the ribeye below...yummy!

When I am really hungry or with a group of people, I have to order their famous appetizer, the Bloomin' Onion.  It is like having onion rings but way better.  They literally batter and deep fry an entire onion and bring it to your table.  It is too much for just my wife and I to eat.  I wish they offered a half onion for couples.  Come on Outback.  Think about it.  You could sell half to my wife and I, and the other half to the couple sitting across from us...

Well, now that you know all about my favorite place to go eat, tell us about your favorite restaurant.  Do you have a place that you love to eat at but don't get to go very often?  What do you like to order when you go there?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

My Summer Vacation

I keep talking to my students about this awesome video that I shot on my vacation to Disney World this summer. Laura and I went to this "escape from reality" for seven days in August. We visited every park that Disney has to offer (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and both water parks, Blizzard Beach, and Typhoon Lagoon). It was a busy and exciting trip. Here is one of the best rides that we went on. It is called Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom. After riding it the first time I wanted badly to go on again and tape the experience. Here it is:

Yes, that was me screaming...

My Hero

I have been promising my students that I would post the picture of me with my hero John Muir.Actually, this is not the real John Muir. This is Lee Stetson, an actor who portrays John Muir. He can often be found in Yosemite giving presentations as the great John Muir. We went to his show one evening during our spring break trip to my favorite place. He was telling some of Muir's famous stories at the Yosemite Lodge. This was my second time seeing him perform.

The real John Muir is my hero because of what he did for California's most beautiful places like Yosemite and the Giant Sequoias of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. He helped see to it that these areas would be protected. This led to the creation of the first State Parks in the United States.

John Muir also started the Sierra Club, which my parents have been members of for about 40 years. I too was a member in high school and enjoyed going on trips with my parents to see many of our state's most beautiful locations.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

3rd Time is a Charm, Our Last Cancelled Day

Well, today was our last "day off" due to the Station Fire. This was a less eventful day. No more fires could be seen on the hillside thank goodness. The two pictures below are "before and after" shots of the hillside above school. In the first photo, which I posted two days ago, you can see the lush green hills as the fire was approaching from the other side. In the second photo, taken today, you can see that the hills have been turned completely gray. Hardly a plant was left standing. It is a bit hard to tell from these small images but if you click on them you can see it a bit better.
We are all very lucky to still have our houses and our school to return to. Others in this fire have been less fortunate. I think we are all excited to be returning to school and a bit of normal life.

Just for fun I have added a time lapse video that Laura and I made from our backyard. The news kept showing time lapse videos so I wanted to see if I could get some press with mine. So far I don't think it has been shown on any news stations but it has had a lot of views on Youtube. Check it out:

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Day 2 Still Cancelled

Day two of school was another uneventful day... at the school site that is. Again, school was cancelled due to horrible air conditions, not to mention the fact that part of the hillside was still on fire, and many students were still evacuated from their homes. Laura and I decided to go down to school to check things out. You could still see smoke high in the hills above school.

Oh…we also learned how to order pizza when you are evacuated. The trick is that the pizza guy cannot get past the police and if you leave the evacuation area in your car, you cannot return.
In this picture you can see the pizza guy on the right. He pulled up and we thought, “Oh no! How will he deliver this pizza?” Well, just then, the guy who was in the black car in the middle (just to the right of the police car), honked his horn to get the attention of the pizza guy. That’s right, he drove his car right down to the police security line and waited for the pizza guy to bring his pizza to the intersection. I tell ya, that is creativity.
For more entertainment and clean air, Laura and I headed back down to Glendale today. This time we went to my favorite burger joint The Habit. Oh my goodness it is so good. I love the BBQ Bacon Char Burger…Yummy!!!
Also while we were out I picked up one of these babies. Now I am ready for the real "Day 1" whenever that may be…

Valley View at Night, a Spectacular Sight

Last night the hills behind Valley View were ablaze. This picture was taken at about 11:00 pm across the corner from Valley View. This was supposed to be the first official day of the school year but as you can see that did not happen. All of the fires in the background are actually control fires set by fire fighters. Check out this video for my first hand account of the evening:

Monday, August 31, 2009

An Interesting "First Day of School"

So today was the official first day of school. The only problem was that there were no students, no teachers, no books, no pencils, nothing. The reason is this

The Station Fire, which began last Wednesday as a small brush fire in La Canada has decided to burn the whole Angeles National Forest. This is a picture from the playground on Sunday afternoon. (I took this picture before hearing that I was not supposed to be there). The air quality is so bad that we just can't hold school. Currently, school has been cancelled for tomorrow as well. We hope to begin on Wednesday with our new classes. The fire could not keep me away. Today, my wife and I went to the school to see what was happening:

In this picture you can see the Valley View sign on the corner and plumes of smoke towering high above the playground. I did not go on campus this time. The police officer is there because the entire neighborhood north of this point is under evacuation orders from the city of Glendale. Those living way up the hill have been required to evacuate. We could not get past this police officer without an ID having the proper address. As I write this I would estimate that 1/4 t0 1/2 of our student population is under evacuation orders. This is because fire fighters are conducting controlled burns at the base of the hills above Valley View.

Since we could not go to work today (Laura works at Fremont Elementary), we went shopping at the Americana. Here is a picture of me at my new favorite place to get dessert:

Did you know that you can get an ice cream sandwich made out of any cookies you want with any ice cream you want? I was in heaven. My favorite thing to get when I am at any ballpark is the Tollhouse Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich. The Tollhouse Booth at the Americana is my new favorite place. This is peanut butter cup ice cream sandwiched between two chocolate chip pecan cookies. Yummy!!

What has been your experience during the school closures? How has the Station Fire affected your family?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

LA Marathon

On Monday, May 25th, Memorial Day, I ran the LA Marathon for the second time in row. It was a great experience all the way from mile 1... mile 26

The last 0.2 miles were the worst, but it was worth the hard work and effort.

Here is a great action shot of me at around 15 miles still going strong. After that was a different story.

Hey, look who came to see me run. My wife, Laura, and her parents drove their car and stopped to watched me run by about ten different times. Thank goodness for that cell phone I brought with me.

DSC03612 copy

Here is some awesome footage that I shot myself at the halfway point (That is 13.1 miles into the race). I was right on pace and feeling good.

And then here I am after finishing the race not feeling so wonderful anymore. Notice the man in front of me who ran the whole thing barefoot.

I decided two years ago that I wanted to run the LA Marathon before I turned 30. I accomplished that goal three days before my 30th birthday. This year I wanted to run it again so I could say, "I run marathons." I hope to keep it up as long as my body allows me to. I takes about 16 weeks to train for a marathon, which adds up to hundreds of miles and hours just running week after week. It is not easy, and it hurts your feet really bad, but it is great to set a goal and to work hard in order to reach that goal.

Tell us about a goal you have set for yourself and the hard work it took to get there.

To view more pictures from the marathon click here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Stranded on an Island

Over spring break, my best friend, Mike, and I went on a backpacking trip on Santa Cruz Island. This is one of the Channel Islands off the coast of Santa Barbara. This is basically where Spanish Explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo was taken down by the Chumash.

Before going on the trip, the boating company that takes you to the island told us to bring extra food in case they couldn't pick us up.

This backpacking trip was planned to be a two-night trip. We would get there on Monday afternoon, hike 3.5 miles to the first campground, wake up early, hike 11 miles to the other side of the island, camp there, and then get picked up on Wednesday. Sounds great right?

Well, when we arrived on the east side of the island, after hiking over the tallest peak on the mountain, we found a note from the Ranger telling us that the boat could not come until Thursday. AHHHHHH!!!! We wanted to go home on Wednesday.

The reason was because the island was experiencing Gale Force winds. This means that the wind was blowing at about 50 miles per hour. Here is a video of Mike and I at the top of the mountain during these strong winds. You can really tell just how windy it was. Imaging hiking over a mountain with a big back pack on in Gale Force winds...not easy.

Here's another video that shows just how windy it was:

Here's what the ocean looked like:

And just a bonus... here's my "Jeff Corwin Moment" in search of the rare Santa Cruz Island Fox:

See what happens when you're totally bored?

Tell us about any Spring Break adventures you had.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Jerry Fixes His Injured Water Bottle

Everyday in our class, silly things happen. Sometimes they are words that I say or revolutionary object lessons that I try to use to teach a point. Most of the time, however, the silliness is brought on by the students themselves. Hard to believe right?

This is Jerry's water bottle. He informed me, after the morning bell, that his frozen water bottle had a hole in it. I asked him to take it over to the sink. Before I knew it he had come up with a brilliant idea that only he could think of. Jerry had gotten a band-aid out of the first-aid kit and used it to cover the hole...BRILLIANT!

Actually, Jerry soon learned that this quick-fix would not keep the water from dripping out of the tiny hole. Sorry Jerry, but you tried :)

The only thing better than Jerry's unique solution to this dilemma was Sharon's comment, (Which she made without displaying the proper "I have a comment" hand signal), "Eww now your water is going to taste like band-aid water!"

Band-aid water????

Sharon, is there something we need to know?

It is these silly moments that make coming to class every day worth it. Tell us about your favorite silly moment in Mr. Laing's class.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Mission Report Part I Sample

DUE: Friday, Januray 30

The following is a sample of Part I of the Mission Report. Please remember that this should be used as a guide and not copied word for word. Your Part I needs to include information that is specific and true to your mission. You may paraphrase some of the sentences here but the information must be about your mission.

Have you ever been to one of the California Missions? Let me tell you about my favorite mission, Mission San Francisco Solano. This mission is located in the Coastal Region of California just north of San Francisco Bay. It was founded by Father Altimira. The Spanish missionaries needed to start this mission because the land at Mission Dolores was no longer fertile and could not grow crops. The purpose of the mission was to teach the natives about the Catholic Religion. Mission San Francisco Solano was the last mission to be founded in Alta California. The mission founded before this mission was Mission San Rafael. Water for Mission San Francisco Solano was obtained from many natural springs that were all around the mission. The fertile land around the mission provided crops for growing food so that the people of the mission could eat. All of these crops surrounded the beautiful buildings and structures that made up the mission grounds.

Great Mission Web Sites

I told the class that I would post some websites were they can find information for thier mission reports. Please remember that the internet should not be your only source of information. The students are required to use books and encyclopedias as well. Also, don't forget to write down the web address where you find any information as well as the time and date that you found it.

Happy Surfing

Mission Site 1

Mission Site 2