2007 In Review

In a stack of papers called Personal.

  • Jan
  • 12
  • 2008

I spend a lot of time on teaching. From grading papers to puzzling out tomorrow’s lesson to just being at work, there’s not a lot of free time in my day. But there is some. How do I spend that time? And what do I have to show for 2007? When not standing in front of a group of students, I’m reading, writing, running, or watching.

Table Of Contents

  1. Reading
  2. Writing
  3. Running
  4. Watching

Reading in 2007

I read more in 2006 than in 2007. I can blame some of that on comic book publishers, though. One title that I read only released three issues in 2007. Another only released two. But that’s a poor excuse for my low page count. I don’t know how it happened, but I only read 9 novels. (back up)

Writing in 2007

A book editor read my blog and I am now published; that feels good. But, in addition to reading very little in 2007, I didn’t write much, either. Not a single story begun and just a solitary movie review pieced together back in January. Only 85 entries are timestamped 2007, where I wrote nearly twice as many (160) during 2006. Yikes! If I’m not reading or writing, what have I been doing with my time? (back up)

Running in 2007

Summer of 2007 found me with a mission: run 100 miles by the end of August. Some weeks, I ran every day. Other weeks, I only ran two days. But I met my goal, pounding out mile 100 on August 31. In June, 3 miles was called my long run. By August, I added 4-, 5-, and 6-mile routes to my neighborhood running. (back up)

Watching in 2007

I watched a lot of movies last year, getting sucked into both Lost and the new Battlestar Galactica over the summer. But even before the summer, I was watching more than in 2006. (back up)


It ends up that my most productive month was July, where my reading, writing, running, and watching were at or near their peaks. My least productive month was October. Imagine that: productivity high the month I didn’t have to report to work and low the month when the first set of grades were due.

When I first thought of how I’d put together an entry for Dan’s contest, it struck me that Netflix stores a fantastic mine of information and no other example used that. Quickly copying and pasting my complete rental history into Excel gave me a way to play with data.

Initially, I was going to compare my running and watching habits. “Maybe there’ll be a pattern,” I thought. “Surely my running and watching are inversely proportional.” A few graphs later, that didn’t pan out. As I started thinking about presentations as storytelling, I realized that the data I have tells the story of what I do when not in the classroom. That’s when I moved to Photoshop, where all slides were finally created. My iPhone nabbed all the photos in the background, taken in my hallway atop a bookcase draped with a comforter.

That’s the story of my year.

P.S. One of my favorite design blogs wrote a timely entry about a problem I experienced during this whole process. I got around the color shift by using Photoshop to adjust the Brightness/Contrast on the GIFs, but the resulting images just about tripled in file size. Not a problem for me here, but I shudder to think of what I’d have to go through if I needed these files to stick around their original 45 KB.


1. Tom says:

[1/14/2008 - 5:28 am]


Very nice work. I really like the background images. Although my appreciation may be overwhelmed by iPhone envy.

I think it was through a link off your blog that I originally found Dan’s site. Too bad for me that the center for design and education is in CA and I live as far away as possible.


2. Nancy says:

[1/14/2008 - 6:47 am]

Your slides are beautiful.

3. Iain M Campbell says:

[1/14/2008 - 8:11 am]

Question from a fellow dy/dan contest entrant: how did you make that beautiful pie chart on the second slide? The staggered slices are awesome.

4. Todd says:

[1/14/2008 - 3:24 pm]

Tom, you’re always welcome to move out here! Or you can just start pretending that you’re from CA. Besides, the actual center is online and we all live there.

Nancy, I appreciate the compliment. I just hope folks enjoy it.

Iain, I’ll have to write a post on that someday because I don’t see it covered anywhere. I created a circle as Layer A, deciding that would be my largest pie percentage (49%). I cut that circle in half and then copied that circle a bunch of times, changing the overlay color each time. Now I have several copies of a half circle, each one a different color. A little rotation of Layer B reveals a touch of Layer C beneath it. A further rotation of Layer C and now I see Layers A, B, C, and D. Keep going until you have all the pie slices you need. To increase the area of the pie slice, just rotate the circle, revealing less or more of the circle underneath. But I first created the chart in Excel so I had a model for the correct sizes of slices. Does that help? I can tell you more via email if you’d like.

5. sam shah says:

[1/14/2008 - 7:14 pm]


I concur with Iain; the staggered pie chart is STUNNING.

Sam Shah

6. A. Mercer says:

[1/14/2008 - 8:44 pm]

Excellent design and execution. After looking through many of the entries, I’ve come to the conclusion that PP should not be used for graphs, and that you’re better off doing it by hand like you did on the pie chart.

7. Todd says:

[1/14/2008 - 9:40 pm]

Wow. Thank you. I can’t tell you how thrilled I am that my pie chart works. That was a last-minute addition and I was incredibly happy just to figure out a way to get it looking like a pie chart. I had no idea how to do it since the examples I found online weren’t good for what I wanted to do. That and the lack of any “Pie Chart” tool in Photoshop made it tough.

Excel (isn’t that actually what you’re using inside of PP, an Excel worksheet inserted into the slide?) is quick and easy, though. Sometimes, you just need a chart to show 3rd period how much better they rocked that last quiz than the other classes. Do that in Excel. But I’m now thinking that PowerPoint is a slide show tool, not an image creation tool.

8. JackieB says:

[1/17/2008 - 7:34 am]

Todd- Sorry to be so late in commenting (finals and all), I too like your pie chart. Thanks for the explanation as to how you created it. I also like the background images in each slide. They aren’t distracting, yet they add to the story being told in each slide. Nice work!

9. dy/dan » Blog Archive » Your Annual Report: Final Entries says:

[12/23/2008 - 1:54 pm]

[…] The idea came together when I was miles above the earth somewhere over Siberia. Andy Schmitz Todd Seal Initially, I was going to compare my running and watching habits. “Maybe there’ll be a […]