Put on your thinking hats!

All of them!

Well, one at a time that is.
Now I know you are wondering "what is she talking about". Yes, it's a problem solving technique. The topic I was assigned for my research was Edward de Bono's Six Thinking Hats. This problem solving technique will ensure that you ask the right questions in your situation, and all of them.

So, in an effort not to bore you all I will keep this short, but still give you enough information that you can try this out the next time you are working through a problem.

WHITE HAT: This is the fact finding stage. What is known about the situation or problem? This is an objective hat. Only facts.

YELLOW HAT: This is the positive hat. What is positive about the situation, the proposed solution, or the what is done correctly do far? Advantages. Keep it positive.

RED HAT: This is for feelings and emotions. This can be anger, like red might make you feel, but also happiness, sadness, excitement. Let your true feelings shine while wearing this hat. How do you feel about the situation?

BLACK HAT: Here's where you play the devil's advocate. While yellow was positive, this hat is negative. What are some of the risks of the solution?

GREEN HAT: This hat is for your creative side. Think outside the box. Present new ideas and look at things from a different perspective. This hat allows for growth and expansion on the ideas.

BLUE HAT: This is for a calming effect. Throw on this hat if someone in the group is getting too into their own hat, like the emotions are flowing high with a red hat on. This is also a center of focus, it brings the group back so everyone is on the same page.

What is nice about this technique is that every gets to wear each of the hats, meaning everyone can experience the problem solving from a variety of angles and perspectives. You don't just weat one hat for the entire problem solving session, you switch between them.

This is just a quick run down of the idea, but it has been very successful in a lot of major companies, as well as in the classroom. So, if you are interested in a fun way to look at problem solving, give this a try. For more information just google six thinking hats and you will be amazed at the amount of information you will find.

Ok, so happy Friday to everyone. I finished my second week of subbing. This week was high school math and physics. What I learned this week is that I really need to brush up on my math. How coukd it have been one of my fave subjects in high school and I can barely remember geometry. Whew, I am glad I get the weekend to rest my brain. I am subbing 2nd grade on Monday and middle school on Tuesday, so I am looking forward to this new adventure.

Ah, and let's not forget that I have some pictures to share. the other day I was running errands and I just had to snap this shot to share with everyone. This is taken on base from a high up point on the base, overlooking the ocean. I love this view. I will admit sometimes I get side tracked and just stop and stare at the ocean below. I usually stand here when trying to spot whales.
I took my dog the other day to get groomed and couldn't resist buying her one of these treats. She loved it!
And now she looks (and smells!) so much better! I love that they gave her a bandana.
And, last but not least, my new fave yogurt. This was raspberry. I like the part where I get to mix it in myself. It's very interactive!
QUESTIONS: One of the activities we did in creative problem solving was to come up (yes it was a timed activity) with as many uses for a pencil as we could think of. So get creative and share with me some of your most creative uses for a pencil. Here are a few to get you started...hole poker, toe separator (when painting toe nails), and dart. Now, take a break from your busy schedule, take a deeo breath and give yourself 5 or so minutes to come up with some creative uses for a pencil.

Just a quick hello

I hope everyone enjoyed those lateral thinking puzzles. They really make you stop and think. We are set in our ways and our one track thinking and we look for similarities in things without often stopping to think that it might be different from our preconceived ideas. I think our busy schedules fuel that fire. This class in creative problem solving really gave me a new perspective and I am happy to be free now to think "outside the box".

So right now I am using a computer at the community center here on base, so sorry, no pictures on this post. I don't have any access here. I am actually on a free period from subbing for high school math/physics this week and I ran out to do a quick errand on base and was TEMPTED by the computers with free internet access, so I just have a few minutes to say hello and I have not forgotten about all of you.

As soon as I have some more time I am going to post with my problem solving technique that I did my class report on last week. It was developed by the same guy that came up with lateral thinking and I think you will really find this technique fun too. There is a creat book by Higgins called 101 Creative Problem Solving Techniques. Amazon is selling it for $12.50 plus shipping. If you work somewhere that you are often confronted with problems or are in a managerial position and sometimes problems present themselves or you need new ideas, you might want to get a copy of this book for your office. Not only was it a text book in our class, but I have heard from some people that they already use this tool. I can't believe I didn't know about this before, like say in college, where I always had something come up that needed to be solved. Great book, and very colorful!

So, next I wanted to mention something else that I noticed here. Since I have been subbing for the majority of the past 2 weeks I have paid attention to the morning announcements. During this time they announce the school meal. While I notice there is no breakfast program (this school is small and most kids live directly behind the school in base housing), the lunch program sounds well organized. I assume this is DOD schools everywhere and the general menu planning, but keep in mind this is a small island and we only get food shipments every so often.

Let's take today for example...I heard them mention carrot sticks with fat-free ranch dip and fresh fruit. Other times I hear salad (including a chef salad), whole wheat wraps, baked chiken and there is always fruit on the menu. When I think back to my days in HS this was not the typical fare. I am very impressed byt the menu offerings here since they don't get much choice past one or two entrees. Well, they can always rbing from home. One student I noticed brings food that she reheats in a microwave she has access to. So I think school lunches are a lot different that what I remember.

What about all of you, do you know what they offer for school lunches around you? Do you think American schools are heading in the right direction? Or is it that they just offer some seemingly healthy choices on occasion to keep up a healthy appearance?

Have a great day! I am back to work now.

Get out your pencil and some paper

Alright, is everyone ready?

The class I just finished taking was creative problem solving (The University of Oklahoma but the professor came to the island for a week of classes). Since I had so much fun in this class I wanetd to pass along some of my learning to you. My personal topic that I presented on was a lot of fun, but I am going to save that for now. Instead I wanted to get everyone thinking about paradigms (sets of rules) and preconceptions.

One of the other students did their presentation on LATERAL THINKING and I wanted to share this today. Actually, most of you have done these puzzles before. I know I have, but I didn't realize what it was called and I certainly didn't realize practicing with these puzzles would benefit me in any way.
So what is lateral thinking. This was created by Edward de Bono in 1967 and his direct use is the current definition now in the dictionary. One of his explanations is this:

With logic you start out with certain ingredients just as in playing chess you start out with given pieces. But what are those pieces? In most real life situations the pieces are not given, we just assume they are there. We assume certain perceptions, certain concepts and certain boundaries. Lateral thinking is concerned not with playing with the existing pieces but with seeking to change those very pieces. Lateral thinking is concerned with the perception part of thinking. This is where we organise the external world into the pieces we can then 'process'.

So the idea is to really get your mind working and to break free from preconceived ideas. Let's give it a try. I am going to share with you some of these puzzles, at the end of my post I will have the answers for you, so I won't leave anyone hanging on the edge of their chairs.

1. You are driving down the road in your car on a wild, stormy night, when you pass by a bus stop and you see three people waiting for the bus:

An old lady who looks as if she is about to die.
An old friend who once saved your life.
The perfect partner you have been dreaming about.
Knowing that there can only be one passenger in your car, whom would you choose?

2. How could a baby fall out of a twenty-story building onto the ground and live?

3. A man and his son are in a car crash. The father is killed and the child is taken to hospital gravely injured. When he gets there, the surgeon says, 'I can't operate on this boy - for he is my son!!!' How can this possibly be?

4. A man lives in the penthouse of an apartment building. Every morning he takes the elevator down to the lobby and leaves the building. Upon his return, however, he can only travel halfway up in the lift and has to walk the rest of the way - unless it's raining. What is the explanation for this?

5. A man walks into a bar and asks for a drink. The bartender pulls out a gun and points it at him. The man says, "Thank you," and walks out.

6. A man is returning from Switzerland by train. If he had been in a non-smoking car he would have died.

7. A woman has incontrovertible proof in court that her husband was murdered by her sister. The judge declares, "This is the strangest case I've ever seen. Though it's a cut-and-dried case, this woman cannot be punished."

Ok, times up...pencils down. Now I did say I would provide all of the answers, but first I will take an "intermission" to share with you some photos of the little guys in the backyard. They are not newborns, but they are also not full grown cows. They are really cute but have not interest in us. We tried to offer them some grass by they were not into us trying to get close enough to pet them.

So, these are pictures of the 4 cows that are now in our backyard. We have closed off the area so the dog can't get inside in an atempt to herd them!

They are really cute and I am glad they do not make too much noise. When we had one back there before that was full sized it made a lot of noise when it wanted to. I could only imagine 4 cows having a moo-fest out there.
Now, get that paper back out and let's check your answers. Let's see if everyone has mastered the art of lateral thinking:

1. The old lady of course! After helping the old lady into the car, you can give your keys to your friend, and wait with your perfect partner for the bus.

2. The baby fell out of a ground floor window.

3. The surgeon can not operate on her own son; she is his mother.

4. The man is a dwarf. He can't reach the upper elevator buttons, but he can ask people to push them for him. He can also push them with his umbrella.

5. The man has hiccups; the bartender scares them away by pulling a gun.

6. The man used to be blind -- he's returning from an eye operation which restored his sight. He spent all his money on the operation, so when the train (which had no internal lighting) goes through a tunnel, he thinks he's gone blind again and decides to kill himself. But before he could do it, he saw the light of the cigarettes people were smoking and realized he could still see.

7. The sisters are Siamese twins.

Well, how did everyone do? Great job. I know it is tough to break those paradigms and preconceived ideas. This can be really helpful when confronted with a situation or problem. Thinking this way can snap you out a that one track mind and maybe will shed some light on a situation you may be working through. Over the next few posts I am going to try to share some more great ideas for problem solving and tell you about some of the fun activities we did in this class. Oh, if you are interested in more lateral thinking puzzles there are plenty online. You can always google search. The ones I used today came from these sites:

Ok, so last up I have some food pictures. I am trying to get back into a normal schedule but I really wasn't ready to spend a lot of time preparing dinner, so this is what I chose to make last night.
Gotta love Trader Joe's!
It seems I did OK with the high school subbing since I was asked this morning to cover for the Math/Physics teacher tomorrow through Friday. I did say yes, but I am really hoping I can get all of my other work done and catch up on cleaning and organizing around the house. I enjoyed the subbing and the kids, so let's hope this time goes well too.

QUESTIONS: Have you ever done a lateral thinking puzzle before? Did you know that was called lateral thinking? Do you have a favorite lateral thinking puzzle you would like to share?

Getting back to normal

Ok, so I guess I can't say normal. But back to my normal. Nothing is normal when you can come home after a day away from your house and find you now have 4 baby cows roaming in your backyard. Yes, quite a surprise (well our landlord told us this would happen on occasion, but that was as specific as they got on this topic)! Even more surprising these were free to roam around, unlike the last cow that was chained to a specific area. I think the difference is the bigger cow could figure out how to escape and these babies are too small. Ah, not but small enough to charge my dog yesterday who decided she would try to herd them. Pics to come of some of these little cuties.

My creative problem solving class was so awesome. I loved that we did different kinds of activities, watched movies, did puzzles, built things, designed things, and practiced our team work skills. I am looking forward to share some of this information with you over the next few days. I will say that working all day, school all night and weekend, and keeping up with Kaplan all at the same time was a little much, but do-able. Heck, back in Vegas that was how I always did it. Amazing what some time off from a full time job can do to you. Although in reality the best solution would have been 1 full time, no part time job, not no full time and 1 part time job. But the circumstances here are much different than the States.
I have just a quick post today to get back into the swing of things. Here are some pictures I just had to take while I was eating lunch last week during my stint as a sub.

Saturday was my day to supply breakfast (along with 2 other students). I tried to find large yogurt containers, but no such luck, so I bought these from the local grocers.
I was shocked to find there was minimal granola selection at the commissary and that of all things it was Cascadian Farm as my only choice.
The others brought the fruit, so I had some nice strawberries to add to mine.
Saturday night I told Ryan he had to keep his schedule clean and we were going to dinner. I had class all night Friday and all day Saturday, so I wanted to actually spend some time with him. We decided to go to the blue hotel (seriously known as this!) AKA Hotel Caracol. This in the Angra area. There are 2 main (4 star) hotels on the island and this is one. The other is the pink hotel (AKA Hotel Terceira). We once stopped here to use the bathroom on a day drive around the island. We notcied there was a restuarant, btu since it is not near us (oh my, it was a whole 13.5 miles away!) we did not have a chance yet to come here.
Need I say more...
I love that we both were served a plate with olives and cheese. I am not too into the butter. I have never really liked butter, but I will say the butter made here on the island is amazing and makes me think what they make in the States is not butter at all.
Decided on a great white wine, local to the Azores, but from the island of Pico.
Ryan had the special of the day which was salmon with onions.
I had this unique salmon dish. The top salmon is baked, the bottom piece is tempura style.

This was one of the main reasons why I selected this meal I wanted to try this lime risotto. It was really good.
Dessert was Azorean pineapple for Ryan (which I had some of).
Brownie sundae for me (which Ryan had some of).
Need I say more (meia da leite for those of you that are new or have forgotten the Portugese name for the latte).
This place had little sweet-n-lows or something along those lines (artificial sweetner).
Last, but not least, after my last day of class Sunday, I came home and enjoyed this for dinner.
A nice bowl of Boca chili, with some shredded cheese added on top.
QUESTION: What is your favorite way to eat pineapple (they key is to think creatively, or it may just be plain-by itself)?
Shannon from Tropical Eats is giving away great prizes if you help her out with a project she is working on. She is collecting recipes for people and pets to help in donation collections for a local animal shelter. If you are interested in more details and to enter, click here.

Busy like a bee

I'd like to say this is the first time so far this week I have had to take a breather, but that's just not true. I am in the middle of grading papers for Kaplan, but I really wanted to get a post up. Sorry, but it will have to be short since I am running out of time this evening. I just got home from substitute teaching and in 2 hours I am leaving to the education building to have the second night of my second class in my current graduate program.

First off this was my snack Monday morning. I would like to thank my sister for this tasty treat.
Monday was PAY DAY for package deliveries. Both of my packages I mailed while in the States and one my mom sent the next week. I can't believe they showed up at the same time. We also got some stuff we ordered for spearfishing/snorkeling.
While my mom was down at the shore she picked me up some of this wonderfully delicious caramel popcorn. If you have never had Fisher's and you like caramel corn, you MUST try this. I think you can order it online now. Too bad they can't ship here.

One of those packages I mailed contained dog food and treats, plus some cat food. They are both picky eaters. But I did sneak in some additional surprises.
Boots for me for my wetsuit for snorkeling. I did not like my other boots. Not enough sole on the bottom.
This is in case I get attcked while at sea by an octopus or something.

Since Tuesday was my first day back to work, or at work, working, or something along those lines, I packed my lunch the night before. I love this lunch bag. My boss bought it for us during the last National Nutrition Month.
Some yogurt and fruits.
Edamame crackers to counter the sweet from the above picture.
Oh, and here is some of the candy I bought in NYC. These are the caramel apple kisses. These I do recommend.
And it comes complete with a water bottle holder.
I also cleaned these grapes so I would have a healthy snack for between the teaching school and the class I am taking.
Dinner Monday night focused on this. I know you are thinking why would I buy fish from the frozen section when I live on an island. I won't lie...it scares me to go to the market since those fish come WHOLE...scales, heads and guts too I think. So I am not yet to the point of being comfortable with that. In the meantime this was just under $3 for 12 oz of fish.
Ok, too tired to have realized this is sideways...you get the point. White flaky fish will always be low in calories.
Some additionas to my meal. Gotta love Trader Joe's.
And I made some of the rice medley I bought at TJ's.
I used some olive oil and lemon juice to coat the fish.

Here we go again...but I did have green beans with this meal. These are the no added salt green beans.
Then I topped the fish after baking for 12 minutes with some of the corn and chile salsa and baked for a few more minutes. I love that this had a nice kick from the chiles.
And now I am sad. I took a picture of the whole meal on my plate since it looked so beautiful. Well, when I picked up the camera I dropped it and I just realized when I opened it up today that the card was knocked loose, so it never stored the picture :(

Today I left the school to meet Ryan for lunch. We went with the buffet at the club on base. We knew it would be quick and easy. This is the salad bar.
And this is the baked potato bar. Both were really good. I was glad to get some veggies in for lunch.
Now back to my very busy schedule this week. Oh, thanks everyone for your ideas and suggestions for the brunch on Saturday. If I didn't have class until 9:30 pm Friday and had to be back at 8:30 am Saturday some of those ideas I would be all over. I am just afraid too much effort on my part (like remember to turn on a crockpot or something) will result in failure. I met with the otehrs bringing food Saturday and they will bring a fruit tray and I will get cups, yogurt and granola and we will do a yogurt parfait bar. Then we will also have a veggie tray.
QUESTIONS: Have you ever taken a picture and realized later there was no memory card in the camera? What are your favorite toppings for baked poatoes?