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Instructional Support Division Team Newsletter: July 23

Staying Connected as a Team Through Covid-19

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Tulip's Travels

Tulip’s Travels

This is the first article from Tulip’s Travels. Where does Tulip come from you ask? This was the acronym I created when we were going to participate in the last American Heart Association’s Heart walk sponsored by Lone Star College-Kingwood. It stands for Tutoring, Library and Professional Development. I thought this name appropriate since this column is for us, by us. If you want to contribute to the column just send an article and we will include it in one of the upcoming newsletters.

Our topic for this issue is zoos. I personally love going to the zoo and seeing the animals. I’ve been to zoos from New York to California and in between. The San Diego zoo in California is one of my favorites. They had numerous animals that I have never seen up close before, such as the California condor. At one point when we walked by it’s enclosure the bird had it’s wings spread and I couldn’t get over how long they were. This zoo also had a type of rhinoceros that looked like it had armored plates. I don’t recall the name and I couldn’t find it on their current website. When I saw it, I just stared and had to step back for a moment as I immediately thought of a stegosaurus. Ha! We visited the San Diego Zoo in January 2007. At that time, they had Pandas on loan from China. Since everyone wanted to see the pandas, you ended up waiting in a line, but it was worth it. I remember them playing and eating bamboo. One of the programs they offered the day we were there included a cheetah and a golden retriever dog. They grew up together and are best buds. The zookeeper gave lots of interesting facts about the two as the animals were walking around. It was quite fascinating and if I recall correctly, the dog was the alpha. My favorite animal that day was the polar bear. They just fascinate me, and I think they are beautiful animals. This zoo has two areas where you can view the polar bear. One is up above giving you a land view. As you curve around the habitat it slopes down and you can get a view from the water side that allows you to see this beautiful creature swimming. Every now and then I visit the zoo web page and check out the polar bear webcam which allows you to see what the animal is doing in real time. They have webcams on other animals and an archive on the pandas. Check it out! 

Let’s come back to our home state of Texas. San Antonio has a really, nice zoo. When my children were young, we visited this zoo every time we went to San Antonio. In their children’s area they had little pockets where volunteers would have an animal, providing facts, and, depending on the animal, allow you to touch it. I believe Houston zoo may do something similar now days, but back then I don’t remember this.

Up North, near Glen Rose, Texas, is Fossil Rim Wildlife Safari. You can drive your car through this park and see the animals roaming freely. Your told not to feed the animals, at least not people food, but people do. At one point the road got a little clogged because people were feeding the animals and a line of cars built up. We had our windows down and before we knew it a giraffe was poking it’s head in. What a surprise that was!

The Houston Zoo has come a long way since the 1980’s when I first visited. I can remember the lions being in a small cage and now they have a wonderful habitat. One of our own team members, Lori Odell, used to volunteer at the zoo. She was lucky enough to work with the baby orangutan. Speaking of babies, an Asian elephant, Nelson, was just born on May 12th.  

Visiting a zoo is always relaxing, enjoyable, and educational. So whether you’re here in Houston or in another city or state and need something to do, visit the zoo.

Don’t forget to check out the responses to our zoo questions. Reading them might give you the itch to visit the zoo. 

Allison Huffy

Katrina - I really haven't been to too many zoos other than Houston honestly!! My favorite is the aquarium animals...watching penguins swim is hilarious!!

Jennifer - Chicago Zoo! They have a great polar bear exhibit.

Hope - I don't care for the zoo, but I decided to see what my son thought of the Houston Zoo a few years ago. After being there a short time, he stated that it was hot, dirty, and stinky, and he only liked the playground equipment. Ha! We enjoy Zoo Lights now each holiday season, which I highly recommend. There are no animals involved, just beautiful lights along the meandering path.

Roger - The San Diego Zoo. It is a huge zoo with lots of different animals, along with a Safari Park with massive enclosures for the types of safari animals they have there.

Alyssa - Dallas Zoo - they used to let you feed the Giraffes.

Susan - National Zoo in Washington DC, because of the pandas!

Mikha - The Fort Worth Zoo. It was one place we seem to always visit when we came down to visit our Texas family in the hot Texas summers.

Cassy - The first and only zoo I have visited was the Houston Zoo. I have been there on regular days and at night during the holidays. It was always a fun time.

Sue - Zoos are amazing places! The Honolulu Zoo with Nenes and a giant monkey pod tree, the San Diego Zoo, where giraffes, elephants and zebras run wild and a male lion rests in the shade atop a Land Rover, the Brownsville Zoo, where the howler monkeys cry to each other and can be heard throughout the zoo, and even the Houston Zoo with the amazing ankole cattle whose horns are up to six feet long. But my favorite is the Berlin Zoo. You enter between a pair of stone elephants pass the Monkey rocks where dozens of baboons cavort with gorillas, and come to the Predator house, where we sat and watched for over an hour as six adolescent tigers chase each other over the rocks and through the water.

 

Katrina - Ocean animals...watching the giraffes run...their huge necks trying to keep up with their legs!! Ha, ha. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MuanfpL1o18

Jennifer - The snake exhibit. It is great to see extremely dangerous reptiles up close.

Roger - My favorite animal at the San Diego Zoo would have to be the California Condor. When I went to see their area of the zoo, one of them landed basically right in front of me and showed off its impressive wingspan, and that is just the most memorable experience I've had at any zoo. I also love seeing red pandas because they're incredibly adorable.

Alyssa - I think it's really interesting to see the big cats and elephants. The big cats remind me of my cats at home (but much larger) and the elephants are really smart, and they're interesting to observe.

Susan - Elephants, I've always loved them since childhood. Not only at the zoo, they were also the best part of going to the circus, back before they were removed for humane reasons. As an adult it was truly an awesome sight seeing them in the wild in Kenya. Yes, I'm an animal lover!

Cassy - The elephants and giraffes. Just because I have never seen anything like them in real life.

Allison - The polar bears. My favorite animal at the Houston Zoo is the tiger. Beautiful animals! I love watching them walk around and swim in their area. 

 

Tigers at Berlin zoo - photo taken by Sue GoodwinTigers at Berlin zoo - photo taken by Sue Goodwin

Tigers at the Berlin Zoo - photos taken by Sue Goodwin

virtual trip to the zoo

The full-time team's virtual field trip to the zoo via their weekly WebEx meetings.

Dealer's Choice

Dealer's Choice is a section reserved for news, updates, and shares from the Instructional Support family.

A fun update from Katrina (PT Specialist III, Library):

We took a trip to South Padre Island...first time for me. and the boys, my husband had been  before.  I was surprised to see how nice the water was!   We weren't really expecting it to be clear since it's still Texas!!   https://photos.app.goo.gl/3WZNVdYEZ2fUaNZc9

Had a nice time, made sure to lysol and clorox the entire hotel room!!!   Really enjoyed the trip :)  There are some pretty cool sand dunes at the end of the island too.  https://photos.app.goo.gl/JUE8aZJzoow9cMDj6

In other news....I hacked off 12 inches of my hair!!    Like literally made two ponytails and CHOP!!  It was time....I think I may have lost 10 pounds!!    https://photos.app.goo.gl/4oHkaWxxWKfRqKaM7

A new furry family member for Susan (PT Librarian, Library):

Best thing about the virus was having time to find, rescue and acclimate a new family dog. Roscoe is just as goofy as his name! We just adore him.

Live Polls

What is the best work-at-home environment for you?
Absolute quiet so I can concentrate.: 4 votes (36.36%)
Music in the background so I can work to a beat!: 5 votes (45.45%)
TV/radio news to keep me connected to the outside world.: 2 votes (18.18%)
Total chaos --- that’s what’s around me so I might as well embrace it!: 0 votes (0%)
Total Votes: 11
Are you driving less during the pandemic?
No need to drive -- having everything delivered to me is the coolest!: 4 votes (36.36%)
These days I’ve been driving around just for fun.: 4 votes (36.36%)
I haven’t bought gas since spring break.: 3 votes (27.27%)
Have you been hearing the hotrods zooming around on the less-busy roads? That’s me!: 0 votes (0%)
Total Votes: 11
What do you miss the most about being on campus?
Abby’s -- Not having to fix my own lunch/coffee/breakfast taco, amiright?: 0 votes (0%)
The Old Normal (as opposed to our new normal).: 2 votes (18.18%)
Walking around campus with all the beautiful trees.: 2 votes (18.18%)
All the cool people.: 7 votes (63.64%)
Total Votes: 11

Are We There Yet?

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Hello, and welcome to my brain!  As we were discussing how to share responsibility for the newsletter and its content, it became clear that my contributions had tended toward random bits of interesting things rather than sticking with one or two thematic areas.  Thus, “Are We There Yet?” was born – a regular feature to share the weird, the random, and the interesting.
Charlotte Iserhardt

Doomscrolling and Negative Media Intake

Do you “doomscroll?”  Apparently I do, though I had never heard the term.  According to Merriam-Webster’s website, doomsurfing and doomscrolling refer to the practice of continuously surfing (computer) or scrolling (phone) through negative news and media long after our mental and emotional health tells us we should have stopped.  It’s easy to get caught up in it without realizing it’s happening, and often the impact it has on us isn’t immediately apparent – we might just feel more tired than usual, or maybe a bit more blue.  Taken day after day, though, sometimes those little doses of extra negativity we’re taking in can compound to become something toxic. 

So, how do you stay informed without endangering your wellbeing?  Better yet, how do you stop doing something you’re not always aware of doing? The Houston Chronicle has a great article on doomscrolling, and they offer these tips:

  • A “news diet” – like for food, but with news.  Set time and frequency limits for news intake, or disconnect temporarily from some of the most negativity heavy news channels and social media sites.  Don’t consume before bed to help you get a more restful, fulfilling night’s sleep.
  • Turn off notifications – Rig the game in your favor by eliminating the “my phone chimed; I have to look” compulsion.  If your phone isn’t constantly demanding your attention, it’ll be easier to exert control and establish boundaries for when and how long you’ll look at news and social media sites.
  • Use screen time tools built into your phone – iOS and Android both have tools to help you monitor and limit your screen time built in.  Let your phone be your bouncer instead of your bartender!
  • Use Twitter lists or news aggregation apps -- Use Twitter’s list feature to create a custom collection of accounts and only view those for news, or use a news aggregation app to filter and control which news stories end up in your inbox or app.

The Houston Chronicle article goes into more detail on all of these and offers links where appropriate, so it’s a good read if you’re interested.  For real-life examples, some of our colleagues in Instructional Support have shared what they’re doing to control the negative news overwhelm; their responses are on the next tab.

Take care, everyone!

Charlotte

Get by with a little help from your friends!

Here's what our friends and colleagues in Instructional Support are doing and experiencing:

Katrina D.

I can't watch the news......facebook is bad enough!!    Hating everything that's going on in the world right now!!!   It's a scary time to raise kids!!

Jennifer M.

I try not to watch too much news.  If I do, I counteract it with a mindless guilty pleasure.   Like 90 Day Fiancé!

Hope L.

I am an avid news watcher, however, I now limit myself to 30 minutes per evening after work. I watch a national news program in the evening, and I don't read news on social media.

Roger R.

I haven't really tried to regulate the news that I take in. I like to try to stay up-to-date and informed, which usually means reading up on events that might make me uncomfortable, but I try and view it as a learning opportunity to better inform myself. However, the only news I have forwarded to me through Apple News is technology, media, or animal related. So those are fun reads to get throughout the day.

Alyssa P.

I try to limit my news intake to around 25 minutes a day. I'm allowed to spend that time keeping up to date with incoming information, but after that I need to focus on something else. I struggle the most with worrying about several of my friends and neighbors who are currently sick with COVID-19.

Susan S.

Too much negativity, hate, and false news. People I really respect personally are posting things on social media that are just outrageous in my opinion. I've gotten where I no longer read what they share.

Mikha M.

Facebook ate up so much time. I have been uneasy for some time with the platform and thought about leaving it. The only downside is that I'd lose connection with my friends who live around the world. But recent events left me more ill at ease. So, I deactivated my account (I can still go back without losing anything just by logging back in). It helped me disconnect from drama. That being said, I created an account in Twitter and follow news sources for a quick peak at the headlines.

Allison H.

I haven't really had the time to listen to much news. So, I guess you could say my way of regulating it is to not hear it at all.

Mindfulness Mondays

In one of the last newsletter survey forms, Gabby offered to host some meditation sessions. She is offering live 15- 30 minute sessions every Monday at 1:00 p.m. on WebEx: https://lonestar.webex.com/meet/GABRIMOORE 

If you can't make it, we will do our best to share recordings of these sessions.

-Namaste! 

I subscribed to The Tao Institute newsletters (which focuses on Appreciative Inquiry practices)  I found a recent article so touching and timely that I thought it merited sharing.

-Mikha


Circles of Joy: Micro Appreciations

for Challenging Times

 

Diana Whitney, Ph.D., Taos Institute Co-Founder and Author,

Thriving Women, Thriving World: An Invitation to Dialogue, Healing and Inspired Actions

Several weeks ago, I got a phone call from seven year old Ellee who exclaimed, “Aunt Di, thank you so much, it is the first real letter I ever got in the mail. I really like it.” I was as delighted to receive Ellee’s phone call as she was to receive a letter from me. Together we co-created a circle of joy, a small relational practice that gave us both a reason to smile, even at a time when our smiles are covered by masks.

 

Something similar happened a few days later when I was on a zoom meeting with a group of colleagues. You know the routine, everyone briefly checks in: where are you, how are you, who are you with? One colleague shared that she had been home for a month –alone. As she spoke it was apparent –even via zoom– that she was feeling a bit down and might enjoy some long-distance appreciation. I suggested we give her an “appreciative shower,” that we immerse her in words of appreciation. We agreed that within the next 24 hours we would each send her an email of appreciation, telling her what we admire and respect about her, what we value about her contributions to our shared work, and what we imagine for her future. As I wrote, recalling our many light-hearted and productive exchanges, my heart filled with joy. It was as good for me to conjure my gratitude for her as it was for her to get it. The next day we received an email from her telling us how significant it was “to be seen and positively acknowledged, especially when sheltering at home alone.” Circles of joy, small gestures of appreciation that shine the light on another can illuminate the darkness of being alone.

 

Especially now, it can be challenging to know what words and practices will resonate, opening hearts and minds to learning, love and joy; and what words and practices might unintentionally offend, tearing the relational fabrics of our lives. Recently, as I read a friend’s Facebook post, I wondered, how might I compassionately express respect and care for her? As a black woman, sharing her thoughts and feelings about Black Lives Matter and racial justice, she was clear, she would unfriend anyone making racially divisive comments. I took a chance and responded, “I will take a knee with you until our knees are old and weary.” Her response to me was an immediate, “thank you, yes we are all in this together.” Another small circle of joy, not because I told her my thoughts and opinions, but because I was able to be with her. Circles of joy grow from what is called the “platinum rule – do unto others as they would have you do unto them.” Listening with others creates a circle of joy that enables shared learning and reveals words and practices that nurture our souls together.

 

In this time of dramatic endings and delicate new beginnings, when you wonder, what can I do to create positive change, hold your values close and act small. Micro appreciations such as circles of joy, can change the relational context of our lives. Today, consider:

 

  1. To whom might you send a “real letter”? Is there someone for whom it might be a first? Or someone for whom it can be an important reminder that they are seen even if alone?
  2. Who do you know who might be in need of an appreciative shower? With whom might you organize an outpouring of appreciation?
  3. Do you need an appreciative shower? Who might you ask to organize it for you?
  4. Which of your relationships might benefit from more listening and less telling, by practicing the platinum rule?

 

Wishing our Taos community around the globe good health and healing. We are all in this together. Whatever you do, do it to create equality, justice and well-being for all. Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Listen and talk 6 feet apart. Black Lives Matter. Vote.

Allison

What made me smile this week? Mazee, my mini Aussie. She does so many things that make me smile and laugh! Just this morning she was laying on the dog bed in my bedroom. I came out of the bathroom to get something and as soon as she saw me she took off for the den. She thought she was going to get a bath. :)

Hope

Due to the stress of watching the news each evening, I decided to purchase and ride a stationary bike during that hour.  Look who beat me to it!

Hope's cat on her new stationary bike.

 

Susan

Meeting 2 of my grandchildren at their neighborhood Kingwood park for lunch, practicing social distancing. They always make me smile!

Alyssa

I take a Zoom ballet class a few evenings a week, and this week we had a Christmas in July theme. It was fun dressing up and bringing out a few Christmas decorations!

Roger

The highlight of this month for me was going to Enchanted Rock for a day hike and then going with my girlfriend to pick up her new Cocker Spaniel puppy!

Cassy

With the re-surge of cases and its nature, my house has been on re-lockdown. Mostly because we have my 1-year-old nephew, who gets sick to easily. It's not tough if its to protect him. So I just want to say I am grateful for my family. We have never spent this much time with each other (five months, almost EVERYDAY). I am glad to report the house is still intact and we are getting along fine.

Jennifer

My bathroom is finally done! My house is almost done. Just have two more rooms to paint and redo the stairs! Yippee!

Katrina

My youngest can finally swim!! Gone are the days of making sure I'm within arms reach so my child can paw off my swimsuit as I regret ever going to the pool!!! He loves the deep end, the crazy slide, and doing tricks from the diving board. Great job Colton!! 

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Mikha

Ben and Zuko

My brother is adopted a 15-week old puppy named Zuko.  I am slowly painting my ceilings. All I have left is the entrance and open living area.

 

Today's Tomfoolery

Entertainment

Watched a cute family movie the other night called My Spy. It's got Dave Bautista (a WWE wrestler) and a cute little up and comer girl. He's a former military guy turned spy....sent to get intel on this family. The little girl keeps throwing a wrench in the plan. It was funny and cute, appropriate for kids (for the most part).

Katrina's rating:

Pandemic...just watch it. You will want to talk to someone about it!

Jennifer rates it

I binged both seasons of After Life. Netflix's description: Struggling to come to terms with his wife's death, a writer for a newspaper adopts a gruff new persona in an effort to push away those trying to help. It is a British black comedy starring Ricky Gervais. I laughed and cried. I look forward to future seasons.

Hope rates it

I've been watching a lot of anime over the break and the most recent one I'm watching and am almost done with is Hunter x Hunter. It starts off as a very wholesome story of a young boy, Gon, trying to become a Hunter so that he can feel closer to his dad, Ging, who was also a Hunter but who Gon never met. As he goes on his quest to take the Hunter Exam, he makes a few friends who help him make it through. We then see him take on some of the toughest opponents in the world and train to become as strong as he can be just because he thinks it would be fun, but also to return a favor to someone who bested him in the Hunter Exam. The current season follows one of his friends a bit more closely so far, but I haven't seen too much of it. Hunter x Hunter is definitely an anime I'd recommend to any fan of Shonen anime or anime in general!

Roger gives it

My husband and I have been watching Travelers on Netflix. A group of people begin having these significant personality changes following near death experiences, so a government agency begins investigating them. I don't want to give too much away, but it's a really well-thought out show and if you like sci-fi, you'll appreciate this.

Alyssa rates it

When my children were young, I looked forward to Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood every weekday afternoon. His calming nature and exceptional life lessons were wonderful for us all. The movie with Tom Hanks, who was perfect as Fred Rogers, is always a treat to watch.

Susan rates it

I am currently watching a korean tv drama on netflix "its okay to not be okay". It is a romcom fantasy of a caregiver of a psychiatric ward who refuses to love because of his heavy life's responsibility and of a fairy tale writer who doesn't know about love because of the way she was born. The two will meet and embrace and heal each other's wounds. If your looking for something to laugh and cry about, I would recommend this show. Its still on going but so far so great.

Cassy gives it

Cable Girls on Netflix. A drama revolving around the lives of 5 women who became cable girls in 1929, in Madrid, Spain. It is dubbed, but done fairly well. Once you start watching, it's hard to stop!

Allison rates it

  • Honestly....I am sticking to short Pinterest stuff right now!! Life hacks and mommy blogs, nothing too heavy!!
  • I just finished reading Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer and it was a really good and fascinating read. I love hiking and going to State and National Parks, but this definitely made me rethink how I would approach mountain climbing. I'm currently reading a book about Video Story and Narrative Design, and it is very interesting and informative. It's helped me to better understand the games that I like to play.
  • It's a Long Way to a Small, Angry, Planet by Becky Chambers
  • Killing November - It's a YA mystery in an elite boarding school with no outside contact or electricity where the next leaders of the family groups do not learn typical academics, but how to make poisons, weaponry, spy skills. Students are dying, headmaster's challenges can lead to death or being thrown in the dungeon. Definitely a page turner!
  • Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman;
  • How to be an Antiracist, by Ibram X. Kendi
  • I just finished The Dilemma by B.A. Paris. I couldn't put this book down! It's Livia's 40th birthday and she is celebrating with the party she has dreamed of for years. She is enjoying time at a spa with her friends and looking forward to the evening's festivities. Adam, her husband, is getting last minute party details taken care of, including a surprise for Livia. While in town picking up Livia's birthday gift, he hears news that sends him into a tailspin. The book is told from the POV of Livia and Adam over several hours. Each has a secret about their daughter Marnie and they are struggling with how to tell the other.
  • American Dirt, by Jeanine Cummins is the story of an educated, middle class Mexican woman whose world is turned upside down by a drug cartel that kills her family and pursues her as she tries to make her way to El Norte, or the United States. Gripping and memorable. You'll never look at illegal immigrants the same way again! This book is currently on the best sellers list, so you face a long wait if your reserve it through the library catalog. Also available through Libby, and also a long wait.

 

Next Issue

Guess Who 2.0:  Let's play "Guess Who" This Belongs To!

The next IS match game is going to challenge you to guess the owner of a household decorative or personal item -- something that reflects your personality and tastes, or something that has personal significance to you. Take a picture of the item and upload it to the link below.  We’d love to have both our part-time and full-time family members participate again!  Upload your photo by August 10. Here’s the link to upload:  https://www.dropbox.com/request/tuBTgk6eWRrAmvwuqN5F

 

Issue No. 7 will be released on August 13

Hope shared with some of us this cute event a library hosted called the Edible Book Festival. It captured our imagination and we thought that this might be a neat project that we could do at home, take photos, and share our creations in an upcoming newsletter. 

So, until we map out the project details and make this "official", put your thinking caps on and brainstorm ways to combine some of our favorite things: books or stories and food.

Stay tuned! We'll have more in the next newsletter.

Made with Padlet

Guess Who

Big thanks to Lori for the idea and to Anne for putting this game together.


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