Thursday, December 04, 2008

Support Joel Tenenbaum


Please join me in supporting Charlie Nesson (Harvard) in spreading the word about supporting Joel Tenenbaum. Joel is being charged with pirating 7 songs using Kazaa in 2004. He could have to pay a million bucks for those 7 songs. I urge you to gaze at your iPod and count how many songs you might have to pay for if you were in his shoes.

There is a Facebook group to join, but also BLOG about the issue! Twitter it! Spin it off into the viral world. This poor guy is standing where any one of could be...let's STAND UP FOR HIM!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Award Winning


T'is the Season to win awards. MANY congrats to Drexel Island for winning a nomination for the EduBlog Awards! I would like to hope that Literature Alive!'s Women and War Classroom helped, but, truly, it is likely that Jean-Claude Bradley's amazing work with chemistry is the culprit! To vote for them, go to EduBlog Awards voting.

I always wondered how these voting things work. I didn't get to vote for the Webby Awards, and I didn't even know that the EduBlog Awards were happening. I always think those things are stacked anyway. The same bloggers (the "A" List) win every year, and yet the people who I always think should win (Vicki Davis/Kathy Shrock/Larry Ferlazzo) do not. And, of course, I never voted because I had no idea there was voting going on. So, the blogosphere is a bit like High School. The popular kids are very popular amongst themselves, and the other kids, the ones that really make a difference, get little recognition. The prom queen is someone made only of legend and taffetta. Not that I think the winners aren't deserving, and there are surprises every once in a while (YAY DREXEL!). But, I have vowed to vote for these things from now on.

Mashable, by far my favorite blog ever, is promoting the Open Web Awards. They have all sort of nifty skippy categories, and you can have a voice in who gets picked.

I am not a campainer, but I will champion this one cause: VOTE FOR DIIGO! Diigo is the best social book marking system out there. It is easy to use, and, honest to Pete, I get so many great resources from there! SO VOTE.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Choices

I caught this TED talk by Barry Schwartz on the "Paradox of Choice." Fascinating. Although created in 2005, I believe the content is still important (and, I am holding out for the Creme Brulee torch!). We have so may choices, and the paralysis of choice is very true.

Here is his advice: "The secret to happiness is low expectations." and "We all need a fish bowl."

He is a great speaker:

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Book Club

I needed to feed my brain. It was starting to dry rot. Well, maybe it was always a bit touched with soggy wood, but I felt the need to read something other than a blog.

The beauty of New England (besides the leaves in fall) is that everyone belongs to at least one book club. I joined the one for female faculty at Hotchkiss, and I was so excited and motivated at the first meeting.

Instead of the traditional format, this month they did a "share" session where you bring in books you have recently read and loved and share them. At the end, you toss them into a circle and pick out a few to take along to read.

I selected three books, and have started the first one: La Tour Dreams of the Wolf Girl by David Huddle. So far, the book is an excellent read (even though I HATE the main character, Suzanne). But, truly, to get me to hate a character so well is a gift of genius. The opening story about Suzanne on the school bus sets the tone for her character, and I dislike her already. If La Tour is indeed an "old fart,"Suzanne is his modern prodigy (an old "fartress"?).

For our next meeting, we are all reading Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks. Ms. Brooks spoke at Hotchkiss earlier this term, and I am eager to read another book by her.

People have asked if I have given up on Second Life. The answer is no. I am not teaching right now, and so I am using my free time to explore some other things, but I will be back again once I am teaching. Plus, my best friends are in SL (Eloise and Dal), so I will be back very soon.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Is Blogging Dead?

I just read a fascinating article over at the Economist about the "death" of blogging. My knee jerk reaction was that, NO! BLOGGING IS ALIVE!

Is it?

Friday, November 07, 2008

True Confessions of a Social Media Slacker!


Lordy...I updated my MySpace page today. Jeebus; the pics were like 2 years old! Then I got a Plurk thingy that said I had to update my Plurk. And, I hadn't been there for a majillion moons! I Twitter every time I Diigo, so that seems like I am on 40000 times a day, but, well, not so much. There seems so much to keep track of out there!

I took a break from SL for a bit. Since I am not teaching this semester, there isn't an urgency to be there, so I tried out some other things. I start coaching diving next week, so I may still be a little scarce until I start teaching in January.

In any case, I thought that I should "try" to be more useful to the online community and post useful things here again. So....

My presentation for NMC is located here. The cool A-Z tools wiki is here. But, to make life a wee bit easier - here is the list!

A = Amazee, Animoto, A.viary and AwesomeHighlighter
B = Broth and BlockPosters and Brush Video
C = CoSketch and Campfire
D = Discipline Specific Tools and Diigo
E = Encyclopedia of Educational Technology and EgoBoxes
F = FURL
G = Google Suite and Group Table and Go2Web2.0 Directory
H = Huddle and Hulu
I = Indezine
J = Joodo
K = KEEP Toolkit and Kwout
L = LectureFox
M = Mixbook and Merlot
N = Ning
O = OneTrueMedia
P = Penzu, Project Gutenberg and Preezo and Picitup
Q = Qlubb and Qollage
R = RTM, Rememble and Review Basics
S = Slideshare and SpringNote and SlideRocket and Storytlr and scrnshots and Scrapblog
T = Technology Dictionary and Teacher Training Videos and Teacher Tube and TimeRime
U = Udutu
V = VoiceThread
W = Wikispaces and WeGameand Web2Rights
X = Xtimeline
Y = YouTube and Yudu
Z = Zotero

Thursday, November 06, 2008

A New Day Has Arrived

My children will never know what it was like to only have rich white men in the highest office in the US. This is a good thing. I hope, in my life time, that the words "Madam President" will also be a reality.

No matter what side we were on last night, today we must all work together. This was the message that both McCain and Obama stressed in their speeches (and, why, oh WHY, couldn't ALL of the speeches have been that good???). As a member of neither of the two major parties, I watched with interest as the polidoofi (my term, not theirs) talked little about issues and more about the costs of dresses and someone's great aunt Annie. But, all that is behind us...today is a new day.

Working together is never easy, but working apart is so much harder.

Today, I had the excellent fortune to present at NMC's Fall 2008 Virtual Symposium. The number of new faces was refreshing. NMC does an amzing job of getting new people hooked into the newest technologies.

So, today, educators started our day together...finding ways to teach and learn together. And, outside of the conference, others spent their new day doing the same.

Scientists like Jean-Claude Bradley are finding ways to do research together - breaking down the barriers of patents and antiquated publishing methods. Teachers like Eloise Pasteur are technology to help learning disabled students harness intellectual freedom. Lawyers like Charlie Nesson are challenging the music industry to stop abusing their power. There is a lot more sharing and less competition...and this is an amazing time to live.

But, we still have work to do. 52% of Californians voted down the right of marriage equity. My concern here isn't the number or even the final vote, but that there are literally two nearly even sides of that issue in CA and both sides need to listen to the other. Where can they find compromise? Where can they talk without feeling bashed (and, truly, I mean that for either side)? There seems to be a need for a discussion - not just name calling and veiled threats?

We have lost the art of conversation. Whilst the computer might be part of the demise, I suspect it has a lot more to do with not wanting to anger anyone...or not wanting to "cause a problem."

Teaching Naked requires one to think about life as both being dressed and being open. It is very easy to try new clothes on all the time...it is easy to buy a new outfit when things get rough or go south...it is easiest to layer up the clothes so that the layers can peel off easily in any situation. It is much harder to teach naked...everyone sees all of your everything every minute of every day. But, it is real, and they can expect it always to be real even sometimes imperfect.

I hope that President-Elect Obama will "Govern Naked" as much as he can without selling our national soul; I hope that Charlie Nesson will continue to work toward changing our outdated copyright system; I hope that we will all try to work together to save our planet, our children, and our future. This is a GREAT new day...let change begin with me.

(side note...here is a clip someone took of me and put on YouTube):

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Catching up!

I can now see. Really. Had the second cataract removed on Thursday (yes, yes, I am too young, but tell that to the eyes). Since I can't really see, I am not going to type much, but, rather, leave you with a great artist to listen to :-)

Monday, October 06, 2008

That John Denver Song

Many thanks to the anonymous poster who sent me a link to this:

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Good Gravy! The Blog is Back!

As I have settled in to my new life, I have really let posting fall by the side of the info super highway. It has been like TWO MONTHS! Does anyone still subscribe?

Fear not faithful readers (if there are, indeed, any of you left), I am back!

Life in Lakeville, CT is MUCH MUCH different than in PA. For one, the scenery is simply incredible here. Our house overlooks the golf course and distant mountains. The clouds are spectacular here; it is almost as if they are closer to the ground than the ones in PA. Maybe they are smore swirly or swishy - I donno - they are just cooler.

We are adjusting to life at Hotchkiss, and I am daily amazed by the talent of the students and teachers. In one week, we heard a GREAT lecture about historical travels to Antarctica in preparation for a school trip to the Antarctic donated by Mr. Forrest Mars (think M and Ms); the faculty met with Sir Michael Barber, formerly of the Tony Blair administration, on change in education; listened to the unique music performed by Alturas Duo; perused paintings by artist Steven Romm, and, oh, did I mention that we had the honor of meeting and listening to a lecture by President Enkhbayar of Mongolia? Imagine - this was just ONE WEEK.

I am incredibly impressed with the faculty here; they are talented, engaging, smart, opinionated, diverse, and resourceful. They don't follow one another blindly; they carefully consider opinions, positions, and, truly, discuss matters. Previously, I would have winced at the conversation about the VP candidates in the hallway near my office; after this one, I was actually excited to hear everyone's take on it.

Who knew that there could even be a group of such diverse people that can laugh and debate and still trust each other at the end of the day? Amazing. I am blessed to be surrounded by such great and inspiring people!

The students are equally diverse, but also equally passionate. There is no apathy here; they are engaged. This stems from having great teachers (ones that want more than spitting back MLA formatting). But, it also illustrates the culture fostered in an awesome place like this.

It is great fun to play board games with the boys on my floor, but we also have great conversations about sports and politics, too. They are informed, and make strong arguments to support their positions. We just won our home football game (really, like 5 minutes ago), and the kids are in the hall having fun, laughing, and just being teenagers. It is a great place to be.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Whirlwind


Picture: Mustache Man takes a break from being a cowboy...

Patient blog readers! Methinks you need a raise. I have not posted in a long while, as I have been moving and starting life in a new state.

Our move to Connecticut was fairly smooth. While a fair amount of china was crushed, all of the humans, pets, and fish have arrived safely.

New Faculty Orientation started Sunday evening, and, dare I say, I am actually enjoying it. Hotchkiss is an amazing place for a number of reasons, but it is most refreshing to be surrounded by bright and engaged faculty members. They do not agree on everything, but they celebrate diversity of thought, and it is simply a rich intellectual environment.
Picture: Sharpie Boy takes a break from drawing number and letter machines (um, Talking Word Factory thingers).

Training lasts from sunrise to sunset, so I am generally too tired to do anything else, but I am up early today because my Dad is having surgery on his stomache cancer. So, the worrier in me is up with him (though the distance is hard at a time like this). If you are of the praying sort, his name is Paul Ritter, Jr., and I appreciate any prayers you can send his way.





The kids are adjusting fairly well. Julian cried every single day last week, but is getting a bit better this week. DD is finally meeting some of the other kids around here, and is loving his newest Star Wars addiction.

The Boss starts EMT training tomorrow night. He is happy to get off campus :-)

I am happy but truly exhausted; I am looking forward to some kick back time in SL!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Favorite Diving YouTube Videos

Here are some of my favorite diving videos from YouTube (yes, yes, I should be packing).

Highlights from Athens (and a welcome for sync diving! WOOOOOT!):



2004 men's 3M Diving

The Olympics Vs Packing

As much as I NEED to be packing the kitchen, I am sitting on my butt watching the Olympics.

The sport I am most interested in is Diving, but I also wanted to catch swimming, fencing, and archery. When I got my certification to teach archery, my instructor was a retired Olympic coach.

Anywho.

Here is my recap...although I TOTALLY recommend NBC's website.

The opening ceremonies were GORGEOUS! Many kudos to Beijing for putting together the BEST opening I have ever seen. I get very emotional during the parade of nations, but usually calm down during the speeches and the lighting of the torch. But, this time, I had Kleenex by my side for the whole thing, and I needed almost a whole box for the torch lighting. I know it is dorky, but I always think about those athletes from small countries like Sierra Leone. And I think about those countries that are allowing female athletes for the first time. And, I think about those countries that have just ONE athlete...imagine how proud that person's mother must be! Even as a kid, I always rooted for the Moms!

I am just incredibly touched by the idea that there are these athletes that have beat the odds of poverty and are now standing in the center field surrounded by the most incredible fireworks display EVER. Even though we know those folks have no shot at a medal, still they stand proud representing the thousands of people who can not even watch them on TV. Ack. Where are the tissues!

Of course, I LOVE LOVE LOVE Mike Phelps (US Swimmer), and I love his Mom. In Athens, I cried as his Mom watched the race. And, of course, I cried this time because not only did Mike set a new world record and capture the gold, but he couldn't find his Mom in the crowd. The kid has a bajillion things going through his mind, and he wanted to find his Mom!!! If you missed the race, here is NBC's video of it!

I watched fencing with great interest, and was rooting for Sada Jacobson. But, I was happy to see Mariel Zagunis win the gold. Mariel was the first US woman to win the gold and she defended her medal well.

Sadly, I missed most of archery. I caught a piece of it live, but the coverage wasn't all that great (hint: focus the camera on the ARCHER and then the TARGET).

I did catch the gold medal ceremony for Judo, as I was proud as pie of the Romanian athlete, Alina Dumitru. She came out of the blue, wasn't the favorite, and won the gold. When they raised her flag, she cried, and I cried, too.

Okay...the dishes won't pack themselves. I am off to an Olympic sprint in the kitchen!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Cooties

In lieu of an actual post, seeing as I am knee deep in moving boxes...here is something that makes me laugh every time I see it!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Pandora's Box and Other Tales

One of my favorite memories from my teenage years involves a Chevy Nova, a John Denver tape, and my friend Tracey.

Tracey's Mom drove us everywhere in her blue 1970something blue Chevy Nova. She was a nurse at the State Mental Hospital, and she often told us stories of the men on her floor thinking they were Jesus. But, when she wasn't telling us stories, we listened to this old John Denver tape with the poem "Pandora's Box" or something like that on it. It's funny, after all these years, I don't remember the words or the tune, but I remember that I sat in the front seat because Tracey would never, ever, ever sit in the front seat of any car. I remember singing all the other songs but hoping that the Box song would come around before I got dropped off.

I am surrounded by memories.

Packing and cleaning my childhood home is therapeutic and, sometimes, a little sad. I am looking soooo forward to our new life in CT, but, for the next 14 days, I am surrounded by voices and images and, sometimes, tears.

Today I packed my library. I donated EIGHT LARGE boxes to the library. As I packed the books, I could remember little details about them. Some were ones I read as an undergrad; some were from graduate school. I am fairly certain I have the largest collection of Jung and Archetype resources in Bethlehem. Inside many of the books were notes tucked here and there. Some were reminders to "pick up cat food" and some were doodles with phrases like "Matthew Lewis was a twisted X!#!" Only true nerds can understand, lol.

Parting with books was hard.

Cleaning the boys room was harder.

As I packed away all the little itty bitty clothes, I can remember where and when or who or why we got most pieces. The baby clothes were packed in a sealed container and, honestly, smelled just like I remember (not poopy - um, fresh like little daisies). As I packed up the Noah's Ark items for Good Will, I just remember the excitement of being pregnant and the anticipation of a new baby...then the instant jolt of finding out we were having a second one! But, the cute matching clothes, the little stuffed toys, the rattles....they are all in boxes ready to go to another baby....to another Mom with the same hopes and fears...

Ack.

The hardest part, by far, has been seeing pictures of my parents. At one time they were happy and smiling...but, today, those smiles, that joy, is only a very distant memory. Today we tossed out a furniture thingy from the basement; it was covered in crayon. But, those crayon marks were not from my children; they were from my brother, Timmy, who died when he was 8 - nearly 35 years ago. As they carried it to the corner, I felt like they had raised the Titanic in front of my eyes. Those crayon marks sat silent all these years - peppered in dust - but seeing them now, in the sunlight, in the open...

I think about that John Denver song, and it reminds me a little of what I have to do here in the next two weeks. I have to open the boxes of time and sort through the memories...and decide which of them are going with me to CT, which will cause damage, and which ones need to be let go.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Thoughts About Moving

At the moment, my life is random. I pack a little, spend a LOT of time sorting out the antics of the neighborhood kids, clean up wikis and blogs, yadda yadda yadda.

So, in the spirit of the moment, here are some random thoughts.

In my spare time (har), I like to read through decorating magazines to get ideas for our new pad. But, here is the thing. I really don't think people LIVE in places like that. It can NOT be possible. These are supposedly "kid friendly" houses. But, um, MY KIDS would wreck those delicate vases and soil any couch not made of teflon or rubber.

I love how the magazines talk about having "fun totes" all over the place. What tote is fun? What will my six year old do that is FUN with a tote that doesn't fall under the "please don't kill your brother by suffocation" category? Truly, it is a lot full of rubbish.

I am convinced that I am both a terrible mother and a horrid wife. My house has never been spic or span, my kids don't eat broccoli flourets whipped up in a snappy second, they don't do arts and crafts in the family painting lounge, and, jeebus, they don't say things like "Please, Moustache Man, I feel that it would be super swell of you to pass me that crayon. Oh, I can totally understand why you don't want to share it, but really, I feel it is my turn to use it. Oh, thank you for being such a wonderful brother. I admire you for giving me that crayon."

Here is the real deal around here...

Sharpie Boy eats food he hides. This is a gross thing. I understand it is gross. But, I CAN'T FIND HIS HIDING SPOTS. The doctor says he will survive.

Not only do I not whip things or souffle them in my kitchen, I don't think the word flouret is in any cook book I own (unless there are brownies decorated with them). Even if I could whip a flouret, I am fairly certain that Moustache Man would still demand a waffle or a hot dog, and Sharpie Boy would ignore it and find his stash of goldfish crackers.

Arts and crafts happen on the floor, on the porch, and in the tub. The floor and porch are sanctioned; the tub creations are rarely approved. The best art, at least to my crew, is clogging the toilet and yelling "Run! We have a FLOOD!"

And, at no time, does sharing of toys happen unless there is a negotiation on the table. This is the real dialogue:

MM: Gimme that crayon.
SB: No
MM: (Hits SB)
SB: (Kicks MM)
MM: Cries
SB: Cries louder
Mom: Yells

So, you see, I need these magazines, but their advice is truly crappy. If I HAD A MAGAZINE, it would have articles like "How to Get Sharpie Marker Off The Antique Piano" and "The Best Hot Dogs for Kids" and "12 Ways to Unclog a Toilet." I would have layouts of REAL kid rooms where the clothes are all stuffed under the bed and dirty underoos are hanging from the crooked train lamp. I would have marriage columns called "My Marriage Survival Tip: Always Sleep when Husband Drives" and "How to Guilt Trip Husband into Washing His 4-Day Old Coffee Cup that HE Hid"

I would only accept ads from places where I can actually fit into the clothing. And, all of the models would be well fed and robust, so that we can SEE what would look like crap on us BEFORE we dream of looking like Genie. There are NO "carefree pants" and "brilliant hues" for Moms. We wear what doesn't smell, and we find the least stained item to go to PTA.

Anywho. Those are my random thoughts for today. Tomorrow, I might talk about cleaning out all my wikis and blogs. That was a CHORE! But, I needed to change all the references of my former employer to my current one, and I also cleaned up some odd looking stuff. It wasn't as fun, nearly, as unclogging the toilet.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Bye Bye L C C C

Yesterday, I had my exit interview at LCCC. I am officially done on August 15th because of the contract year, but, for all practical purposes, we have parted ways.

My friend asked how it felt to be "done." And, I couldn't answer her. I am not sure I can even now. I loved most of the students at LCCC, and I will miss them. Students like Daliah and Nada made everything very much worthwhile.

Even though there are people at LCCC passing rumors about WHY I left, I can assure you that I didn't leave because I was unduly unhappy. In fact, I wasn't even looking for a new job. Because of Second Life, I met a guy who told me about this new position at a great boarding school, and the rest is history. I fell in love with Hotchkiss the minute I landed there, but not because I was trying to escape LCCC. I love it because it is a beautiful place to live and work, the people are amazingly smart, the students are bright, and the facilities are out of this world. The job is something new and challenging, and I am looking forward to a new chapter.

But, truly, I could have stayed at LCCC until retirement. I was eager to annoy my critics for at least another 30 years. But, now that I left/am leaving/transitioning/whatever, I can really see with a clear eye what is great about LCCC and what sucks about it.

The great part is easy - the students (for the most part) are great, and the support staff (secretaries, maintenance, security) ROCK! My goodness, they really should get the better pay cuz' they do all the work. The library staff also rocks. In fact, I am not sure I have ever met a librarian I didn't instantly love.

The sucky part is more complicated. For one, the leadership wastes money out the wazzzzzooooo. Case in point: Yesterday, when I was returning my laptop, I couldn't walk through the Student Union Building. Why? Well, apparently, the flooring (which is only about 8-10 years old) was not pretty enough for someone at the top, and, thus, the maintenance staff (who are working on a bajillion other projects) are BUFFING IT and REPAINTING it. That money SHOULD be going into positions, technology, and staff.

Laptops and iPods are locked in cabinets...never even opened or used. WHY?

Now, these just grace the tip of the tip of the TIP of the iceberg. Don't even get me started on the crotchety old farts that need to retire already....teaching outdated crap and calling it "the right way." Pretending to be all Harvard (and CLEARLY they aren't up on what Harvard is doing because Harvard is doing LOTS of wicked awesome stuff)....Training up the junior faculty to be as bitter as they are...whining and complaining and demanding more money to do mediocre work. Ya know...they always say "We just don't get paid enough to do X and Y" Well, I got a raise every year just along with everyone else, and more money didn't change their apathy. I wonder what price it is to get people off their butts?

Of course that doesn't apply to all the faculty; it really only applies to many of the ones I dealt with daily. I have seen many of them belittle students, belittle adjuncts, and then chant about how they are upholding some imaginary standard (which, interestingly enough, they don't even agree on).

Ack.

So, I could have stayed and been a click in the wheel of apathy. But, then again....brilliant kids, brilliant and diverse colleagues, gorgeous facilities, awesome benefits, amazing place for our family to live and grow.... Hmmmm.....

To answer the question posed by my friend: I am not sure how I feel about leaving, but I know that I am really happy about where I am going.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Moving on Up


And the packing process is a pain.

We are three weeks till moving day, and life couldn't be any more chaotic. So, my conviction for blog writing has been swallowed by the process of "we have not used this, um, EVER, but it is a blender, and, ye gads, at some point in life I will have to grow up and use one, and better to use this one that we have right here than to try to find one in Lakeville (where there are no stores), so maybe we ought to keep it? Put it next to the other wedding presents we never opened, namely the iron, breadmakers (3), and ice cream churn."

On top of moving, we are cleaning out the house - which was owned by two parents that collected everything under the sun. And, sheesh, we EVEN had a yard sale this past Saturday, and we only made a dollar. Ok, so I forgot to avertise it. Oh, and it was at least 105 out at 7AM. Ok, so we will try again next week.

I have lots of thoughts about moving - some are perky and oh-so-Desi like. The others are melancholic and are way more Beth-like. I just have to thank my army of friends for A) listening to me whine (that would be Eloise), B) cheering me up when I am gloomy (Eloise, Daliah, and Liz), and C) understanding that my mind is mush from packing the attic (um, that might inlcude everyone I have ever known, but my mind is mush, so I can't remember).

The process is sprinkled with having to be a cheery Mom. So, I sing silly songs pretty much all day, and, of course, had to take Moustache man to see The Dark Knight (you must stop reading RIGHT NOW and go see it...even if it means hopping a plane to get to the states. Go. Now.).

Sharpie Boy has figured out that markers ALSO work on Mommy's VERY EXPENSIVE quilts. I am so glad that I do not understand the Chinese lady that does my dry cleaning. She said something to me in Chinese, and I am pretty sure I didn't want to know what it was based on the look on her face. She always says the same thing to me "You just give it. Pick up Friday." I will miss her...cranky, old, tired, and very amusing. I pity that guy in the back (I think it is her husband, as no other guy would listen to all that yelling she does). But, she does excellent work all the way around, and I like that she is cranky. By simple comparison, I can always say that I am not the CRANKIEST person alive. The Boss says she reminds me of the Mom on that MASH episode when Sun Lee's mother chases Klinger with a stick. Yeah, she does act a bit like that. But, thankfully, I haven't pushed her to the stick stage, just the swearing in Chinese phase.

Anywho.

You might wonder what I am doing writing at 4:54 AM. Other than ramblin on about the dry cleaner, I am waiting (for the past 5 hours) for my zip file to speed off to the server...as my most daunting task this past week is not ranting and raving about LCCC.

There is a whole subtext here that I can't talk about. But, corruption, greed, stupidity, and insanity are all words that describe SOMETHING, and for some of us writing this blog post, that SOMETHING has been up our collective butt this last week. I can only say that I am thankful for change.

I am at 80% so I can blabber on for at least three more hours.

I was really nervous about the Big Move of 2008. But, I spent some time with my new colleagues last week, and can honestly say, they are truly awesome. I am excited now, and sooooooooooooooooooo ready to be done packing. I am even more ready to be at more than 81%.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

I am DORKY NERD

Yup; 'tis true. I always knew it, and now I know it.


NerdTests.com says I'm a Dorky Nerd.  What are you?  Click here!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Dumpster Diving and Web 2.0


All I need to know can be learned from dumpster diving.

You think I speak with tongue in cheek...

You see, we are cleaning out 40 years of my parents crap and sorting through ten years of our own crap in our Big Move to the great state of Connecticut. In an effort to save the nice Garbage Man from back problems, we rented the largest dumpster money can buy (well, at least the largest they allow on our suburban street).

Every day, the Boss takes all sorts of crap out to the dumpster. 14 TV sets from BEFORE 1990...a mini fridge that was my Moms (that she forgot to take crab meat and butter out of before it was stored in dry storage....a coffin of stink...gag)...broken fishing poles...you name it.

Now, mind you, the NICE stuff (and even not so nice but still usable) goes on the corner with a little post to Craig's List for a curb alert. All paper and cardboard to recycling...all books to the library book sale...all clothes to the Good Will.

I can verify that THERE IS NOTHING NICE IN THAT DUMPSTER.

Still.

At 3 AM I am woken up (or I haven't yet fallen to sleep) by the Dumpster Diver. There are many, some I now know my first name. Though I tell them to come back during the day, they still prowl about at night..hunting for treasures that I would gladly just give them.

Then there are the DUMPERS..who I want to KICK...who go forth and dump their undumpables in our dumpster (things like tires). They wait till my light goes out. I imagine there is a parade of pick up trucks lined up around the corner just WAITING for me to turn off the light...

Anywho.

This dumpster, and all the antics that go with it, remind me a bit of Web 2.0 and all the sharing tools I am using right now (Twitter/Plurk/Diigo). Some people share great stuff (woot for Diigo!). Some people blabber on and on and on and on via Twitter. Plurk is cool if I can remember it is there and to go grab my posts from the corner.

But, the basics are there. Some people share, use what they can, and then pass it along. Some people hoard. Some people steal. Some people take advantage. But, stuff is spread. By golly, SOMEONE is using that stinky fridge!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Jeebus! SearchMe!

Lordy, this was fun, but, truly, we could use it for other things like authors and writers.

I am an EduPunker!

Finally! A Category for ME! Edupunks are those people irritating the curmudgeons at colleges and schools all over the nation. We are the ones who don't live and die by the status quo. We are the ones that truly believe that STUDENTS are at the heart of teaching (and not our trumped up egos!). Are you an Edupunker?

In addition to LOVING this song, this is me:

Charity Shopping

My friends down the street have started a new company that is really worth a mention! CharityShopper.Net allows you to shop for stuff you already need (at a discount), and a portion of the donations go to your favorite charity (for us, that is the Pediatric Stroke Network).

Now, I am not all about the cash flow here, but I AM ALL ABOUT CHARITY! What a cool concept! Help me get their name out there; spread the love!

The Thing About Bullies

Many thanks to Loony Hiker for passing this through the web hallway. Grab tissues first. This boy, Andrew Johnston (13), has the voice of an angel.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Thing 22

Cyndi Uriza posted this video on her blog. It is really worth 8 minutes of your time, as it shows the great gap between veteran teachers and the kids of today.




Reading Romeo and Juliet in 5 minutes??? Good Lord. That is a crying shame. The idea of "everyone spark notes" just reminds me of the intellectual robbery going on. There is plenty of time do make and post "model shots" but not enough time to read the best love play in all of Christendom?

Thanks, Cyndi, for posting the video!

It's All About Immersion


Right, so.

You don't hear from me for a month, and now you can't get me to shut up.

As I was unsleeping (you know, not NOT sleeping and yet not sleeping?), I was thinking about immersion (it is prolly all Freudian and wombish).

Every so often, we have to update the Wiki for Literature Alive. We move projects, we start new projects, we holodeck old projects, sponsors change, we get new pics...you get the picture. When we do that, we check all the Slurls and whatnots, and we revisit the mission and purpose of Literature Alive! We also go through each of the builds to make sure that things are as they oughta be in the world.

As I was looking over the wiki tonight, I had this pang of panic. Are all of our builds immersive?

There is probably a real definition out there, but to us it means making visitors DO stuff in order to learn. Reading notecards, listening to lectures, and watching videos is not enough; we could do that in REAL life, and it is passive in EITHER this life or that one.

Often, we think of builds being immersive because WE were immersed when we built them. On an average building day, we three queens are immersed....Eloise is generally scripting my latest bright and crazy request, Daliah's off shopping for low prim farm animals, and I am looking for Flickr photos. But, just because WE are immersed in the making of an environment, we must be careful not to OVERDO it and ruin the fun for students.

Right now, we are working on the Blithedale Project. Students at DeSales are reading it, and the project includes a virtual Fruitlands and a virtual Brook Farm (read up on Hawthorne :-)

As students complete classwork (Mixbooks, Animotos, wikis), I am imbedding them in flowers and lilly pads and fire logs. I'm into it. Totally. Daliah is building her first academic build, Eloise is being driven to edge with my random requests for scripts that do the impossible (are you SURE we can't do [insert wild brained Desi thought here]) The hard part is leaving stuff for the STUDENTS to do! It isn't that I want to DO it all; it is just that I am like a little kid at Christmas! I am excited; I love the American Romantic period...it IS my period...it is what I have loved since childhood...it is the one class that I would teach if I swore off teaching!

It is a bit like tutoring writing. It is SO easy to say "write this" "write that" - but, truly, students learn nothing if you do it for them. So, I have to sit on my hands, and that gives me more time to blog!

As we look over our work, it is clear that we try very hard to make each and every build immersive for students. Our hope is that we won't ever lose sight of our mission: to foster a lifelong love of learning through a lifelong passion for reading.

Friday, July 04, 2008

My Leadership Day Post: Leadership in Virtual Worlds

This is my 2008 Leadership Day Post

Many of us are participating in the Leadership Post 2008 Challenge. Since most of my work has been centered on building immersive literary builds in Second Life, I thought I would discuss Edu Leadership in that arena.

Is there an "A List"?

I have no idea. If there is one, I am not sure who is on it or who created it. I am fairly sure there are people who think they are on it, assuming it exists, but I am not sure how they arrived at the notion that there is an A List or should be one.

The Leaders

Even though I can't identify all of the leaders that exist in SL, there are attributes of leadership that are readily identifiable. A leader is someone who:

  1. Shares Resources It is very easy to hoard ideas, concepts, and tools. It is very easy to withhold great information in an effort to look better. But, leaders share resources. Max Chatnoir/MA Clark, for example, shares her pooping Llama, her DNA Cats, and all of her teaching resources with me. She wouldn't have to, ya know. I don't teach science. But, she does. Horace Moody/Jean-Claude Bradley and Hiro Sheridan/Andy Lang are out there sharing tools AND real life scientific research. In fact, Jean-Claude is giving up potential PATENTS because he believes Open Notebook Science is the way of the future. Eloise Pasteur donates more scripts and builds to the Metaverse than anyone else (INCLUDING the Lindens!). Butch Dae/George Kurtz collects and shares research through his MindMap tool. Troy McLuhan/Troy McConaghy shares all that incredible science. Organizations like the Foundation for Rich Content, SLNN, Cattle Puppy, FireSabre, the V3 Group all share resources with Literature Alive! in the form of Linden and Land grants. Colleges and Universities like Drexel, Montclair State, Finger Lakes CC, Monroe Community College, North Georgia SCU, and Lehigh Carbon CC share land with Literature Alive! for our builds. Organizations like ISM, NOAA, ISTE and NMC share resources for new educators and programming for both veterans and newbies. There are so many others, and I apologize if I missed anyone. But, just this short list proves that leaders share and don't count the cost.
  2. Share and Cultivate Research While there are many of us out here teaching, we rely on others to prepare and gather research ABOUT teaching in virtual worlds. Wainbrave Bernal/Jonathon Richter, for example, is coordinating the 2008 SLCCed conference with an eye for professional development in mind. There are so many doing this, and others working on tools to share (Jeremy Hunsicker and Daniel Livingstone, for example).
  3. Share Ideas/Feedback/Comments/Criticism Our success at Literature Alive! has been a result of awesome students and wonderful collaborators. When someone leaves feedback about one of our builds (Glenn Linden, for example), it helps us to make our builds better. Active participation is a true form of leadership.
  4. Evangelize Those who go out and speak on behalf of Second Life solidify our usefullness and help us to gain professional merit for our work. Sarah Robbins, for example, has been out championing this teaching tool forever, and her grassroots leadership has made a difference!
  5. Teach in Second Life It is one thing to talk about teaching, but it is a WHOLE other basket of peas to actually DO it. I have infinite respects for those who are actually using SL to teach: Bryan Carter, Max Chatnoir, Jean-Claude Bradley, Dave Longenbach, Eloise Pasteur, Hiro Sheridan, Intellagirl Tully, Charlie and Becca Nesson, Peggy Sheehy, Larry Dugan, and countless others.
These are just a few traits of leadership. And, certainly, I missed a whole host of people. But, suffice it to say, we ALL have the potential to SHARE, EVANGELIZE, and TEACH.


More Cool Tools

I stumbled on this fantastic Mind Map whilst digging through the NECC resources. It is a listing of all the different Web 2.0 tools out there. It was created and presented at NECC by Greg Brandenburg. While I have tried most of these tools, there were a few new surpises. Also, Mindomo, the tool Greg used for this, is actually a really nice mind map tool. Given that mind maps never make sense to me, I was uberly impressed with this one.

Here are some of the new tools I learned because of Greg!

Scriblink
This is an easy to use online whiteboard. I am always on the look out for easy to use ones, as students can really do wonders with them when they work in groups.

WizLite
Like Awesome Highlighter, WizLite marks up pages. i am not sure that there is an advantage of one over the other, but I hadn't heard of it.

Twiddla
Need to hold a meeting right this second? Twiddla is a meeting tool, and it is totally free. WOO!

FootNote
This cool program allows people to share primary source material (photos, letters, etc.) with others. This is really interesting to me in my love of American literature.

Ghost
I don't really know how to describe this program. It creates a ghost desktop from your desktop that you can access anywhere. I thought it might be really handy for Literature Alive! as we could all share a desktop. I have to play with it a bit, though, before I go endorsing it.

FotoFlexer
This is a free paint shoppy program that is actually really fun and easy to use. I used this picture, and turned it into the one next to it. Isn't that cool? Those can then be posted in SL as textures.

OMG! I need Karma

Oh jeebus.

I heard about three new tools at NECC...Diigo, Chatzy, and Plurk. Well, truthfully, I had heard of Diigo before, but had no idea why I needed one more sharing tool. I share on all the other tools...for the love of Pete...

But, I stand corrected. Diigo is better than all the others. I dont know how to explain it, but it just does more. You can highlight, comment, share, twitter, etc. It has a great tool bar, too. Mostly, I hate add on tool bars, but this one is actually easy to use.

Chatzy is a tool that allows you to create a free virtual room. It was used at the back channel for our NECC presentation, and I really like it.

The last tool is a little odd, and the jury within my mind is still mulling it over. It is called Plurk. It is a visual Right to Left version of twitter. Or maybe it IS twitter, or maybe a competitor? Who knows. Anywho, it tells me I have no Karma and I have to earn it. PUHHHHHLEEEEEZE.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

NECC 2008 Photos from Second Life




Here are some pictures from NECC 2008 (the virtual edition)!



Viral Learning and Teaching 101: Reflections from NECC

I wasn't able to attend NECC 2008 in San Antonio, TX. Well...I wasn't physically in Texas, anyway.

Technology, being what it is, allowed me to participate in so many ways that were not possible 5 years ago.

On Wednesday, for example, using Skype, virtual help from Darren Draper, and the can-do spirit, I was able to present with Vicki Davis, Robin Ellis, Darren Draper, Kristen Hokanson, Kelly Dumont, and Carolyn Foote on Viral Professional Development. Here is the UStream:





At the same time I was presenting with them, the Ramapo Story World Kids presented their amazing work. Peggy Sheehy, BernaJean Porter, Knowclue Kidd, and Kevin Jarrett presented the work of students who took Robert Frost's poem, "The Road Not Taken" and crafted an amazing and immersive application of it. Literature Alive! was able to step in during the final hours to help the students see their work materialize in Second Life. While I am proud of everything we do at Literature Alive!, I am really pleased with this project. Our mission is to help others share a love of literature through a passion for reading, and we say that we support others in their quest to share literature. We don't often have the opportunity to help others, so it was personally fulfilling to be able to do just that...to meet our mission in such a complete and focused way. And, of course, that would not have been possible with out the tireless volunteerism of Eloise Pasteur and Daliah Carter.

Aside from being able to present at NECC, I was able to participate, as well. In addition to being able to listen to the excellent keynote addresses, I was able to participate in a workshop led by Vicki Davis and Julie Lindsay. The Flat Classrooms workshop was very engaging, and it reinforced some ideas that were floating around in my head. For one, I have realized that I need instructions. I am not able to look at a wiki and guess the next step. So, I truly felt like a student because I often forget to break things down for them. Since I didn't understand the rules, I went ahead and created all kinds of pages that weren't needed and, as a result, messed up some other groups as they tried to prepare their wikis. I also learned that I love working with my international friends...I got to spend some quality time with Nick Noakes and Eloise Pasteur as learners, and we all struggled together as students instead of as teachers. I am fairly convinced that the three of us would have been in the naughty chairs in school!

So, in the span of 12 hours...I was connected with a boat load of people and, yet, I was alone in my dining room. Isn't technology great???

SIDE NOTE:

I love photoshop! I played with this image and made a wee movie. Someone needs to remind me to keep packing and stop playing!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The Magic of Literature Alive!


Peggy Sheehy and the folks at the NECC conference are very kind to Literature Alive! They have truly said some nice things about us, and we really appreciate it.

We had the good fortune to work with Peggy and BernaJean Porter on the Story World Project that they are presenting at NECC on Wednesday (a link will be posted after their presentation).

When I started Literature Alive! over a year ago, I was all alone. I wanted to share literature with my students, but I also wanted to share it with the world. Eloise started volunteering a few months later (probably after seeing what a nightmare I was in the scripting department), and Daliah Carter was in the first group of students that came into SL. Over time, we have had some really great volunteers, but, for the most part, it is just the three of us. We have a special magic. Maybe it is because we all do something different (like a rock band), and we don't "compete." Maybe it is because our personalities just mesh, and we adore each other. Whatever it is, it works.

Eloise is our drummer. We all know that the drummer is the most important piece of a band. You can't keep time without it. Eloise is like a virtual Neil Peart (that would be RUSH's awesome drummer for those of you with bad taste in music). She quietly and shyly goes about her business, but, trust me, Literature Alive! would not exist without her. Gondola's through hell? Albatross HUDs? Only Eloise can make that kind of magic.

Daliah is the one that most people never see. She is a professional shopper, and now a growing builder. She also keeps my schedule, and calls me at home to remind me to do stuff. She is the queen of freebies, and does all the makeovers with students. She also hunts for textures like no one's business. She keeps our files up to date, and backs up our backup avatars (ya just nevva know, ya know?). She also reminds me to have fun in SL by dragging me to hair hunts and lucky chairs. In the band, she is our bass player (Geddy Lee, for my fellow RUSH fans).

My job is easy. I am like a lead singer (um, Geddy Lee without the guitar? Mick Jagger?)...I speak on behalf of the band, and I plan out the gigs. My job is content...and only content. I make sure that everything is correct and ethical, and that the overall build is immersive. My focus is student learning, and, for me, that extends beyond my own students and spills over into my global classroom - all those people I don't know that might stumble into one of our builds. I am an idea gyrl. And, of course we all know, I look like Barbie.

So, this is our dream team. We have magic; we have lots of magic. And, we appreciate when people notice and say lovely things about us (thanks, again, Peggy :-)

IMAGE: My first attempt at something creative in Photoshop!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Fruitlands at NECC?


Right now, many of the coolest people I know are in San Antonio at the NECC conference. In a Pink Floydian way, I wish I was there, but NECC being a K-12 gig, the college doesn't cough up the coveted ticket stash or room and board for such events. I feel like the only kid in the hood that didn't get to go to summer camp. Fortunately, because of the technology - I will be ing with a group of wicked cool educators on Wednesday.

So, I watch with my binoculars...using RSS...among the posts I read, Wes Fryer's blog has been very helpful in my quest to keep up!

Anywho...next year will be different.

Like may others, I am following the conference via my RSS tab. I am convinced that my friend, Vicki Davis, does not sleep. I am also convinced that I have no idea how big NECC is as an event. Tons of stuff seems to be happening. But, in a Transcendental way, some things seems to be intellectually edifying but falling flat in practice (like the Transcendental communes "Fruitlands" and "Brook Farm").

Among the things happening, I guess Pearson Ed (the textbook publishers) showed up to do some filming. Some folks got their britches in a knot, and some folks think it is uber cool to be caught on film.

Since I am not there, and I don't know the whole story, I won't comment much. But, Pearson IS, indeed, a PROFIT company. So, you should expect that they will use that video in a PROFIT venture. For people like me (ya know, those Edupunks who denounce profit-based learning), I would be in the britches group. We give all of our material away under the spirit of collaboration; for a company to come in and capitalize on what we deliberately choose NOT to capitalize is wrong. The folks that set up edubloggercon should have thought about the implications, and they should have made the plans known to folks ahead of time.

This wasn't the only instance of things gone strange, though. Apparently some person took a photo and another person used the photo on his web page without citing the source. People still don't get that Creative Commons is a BRIDGE copyright...it means you can USE it but ya still have to tell people where you GOT IT. Now, if I send up images, I expect that people will not use them right because they haven't a clue. But, the folks in THIS case are well versed in CC issues.

Now, the big deal is that APPLE IS NOT IN THE HOUSE! (Well, they are giving presentations, but they totally skipped out in the vendor area). Wes Fryer does up a nice post about it here. Apple is losing mega steam (IMHO). They skipped out on THE LAST THREE conferences I attended. Not only did they SKIP...they didn't tell anyone! Google also skipped out at Innovations. Perhaps Apple doesn't need educators? Well, that is fine...Dell and Gateway go to everything, and I am happy enough to look at their products (BTW, Apple, I don't get out much, so I doubt, highly, that I will get around to your store...). Isn't it interesting that the apples were ALSO bad at Fruitlands??????

But, to end on a high note...Smashing Magazine is an absolute JOY to read. I love their wallpapaer collections, and you will, too. Go there!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Learning 101


This summer is flying by...I can't EVEN believe it is almost July!

The packing/sorting/cleaning process is just as daunting as ever...and the large dumpster in front of the house is nearly full. In many ways it is bittersweet...this house has needed a good cleaning for at least 40 years, but cleaning it reminds me that my parents are no longer together, and that I am moving on and away from my childhood home (yeah, yeah - most of y'all did that YEARS ago).

We are finding some interesting things, though. I think The Boss said he found 14 buckets of screws. I am hoping there is nothing Freudian in that collection.

Meanwhile...upstairs...I am responsible for the kid camp. Moustache Man has taken a serious liking to James Bond and Westerns. Sharpie Boy loves to watch dominoes and dinosaurs on "Tube Tube."

In order to keep myself sane (?), Eloise, Daliah, and I have been volunteering for the Ramapo Island group (Peggy Sheehy, BernaJean Porter, et al). Peggy sent out an SOS on Friday night - - apparently her students had worked on a project that (seemingly) was not going to be built on the Teen Grid. So, she wanted to have it on the AG, and had no space for it and no one to build it.

Well. You know Literature Alive! staffers can't leave kids out there in the dark...so...we just jumped in and said, OK, we'll do this. Eloise, Daliah, and I are like a well oiled machine. Each of us does a different thing, and we work very well together. Daliah, for example, is our detail girl. She made a lunch line that would set anyone to shame. Eloise, the Goddess of Scripts, did all sorts of crazy things with scripting. I worked on content and playing with the media. All in all, we finished the build over the weekend, and were rewarded with happy faces on the kids.

The project, one built around Robert Frost's famous poem, The Road Not Taken, is amazing. The kids did a lot of work with storytelling goddess, BernaJean Porter, and their teacher, Peggy Sheehy. They made little movies, they made audio clips, they did EVERYTHING! There was no way we could let all that work fall to the floor.

Meanwhile, my students at LCCC worked on building Fruitlands - the location of Bronson Alcott's communal experiment. This build is the foundation of a project that will start in a few weeks - The Blithedale Project. Students at DeSales will recreate Nathaniel Hawthorne's text in SL.

So, we are busy, as usual.

But, that isn't the focus of this post.


Within the web of all of this activity, Eloise has been teaching me how to use my brand spanking new photoshop. Being a student again is really frustrating. I have in my head what I want something to look like, but it is hard for me to create it in Photoshop.

Eloise is a really patient teacher! It is good to be a student again; it reminds me to take steps and to foster step taking. Anywho...the images you see around this post are my first attempts at creative genius. Thanks, Elo!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Kevin Honeycutt Fan Club

Many thanks to Wes Fryer for posting this link to Kevin Honeycutt's Keynote at the TTT conference.

Kevin is a wonderful speaker, and he and I share a lot of the same youth experiences with education. In the height of feeling washed out and burned out, I needed to hear Kevin. The best line:

If you want to find the best teacher in any building, find the one in trouble.


That made me feel a lot better.

NMC 2008 Summer Conference

Here is a link to my NMC presentation at Princeton: Rez High the Virtual Rooftops

If you want to access the wiki, it is located here.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Rumor is Out: Moving to Lakeville

Well, I am sure you have all forgotten about this here blog (except Adrian - he is tapping his foot and waiting for a post :-). But, here is the story (lame as it is). We are moving.

After 5 years at Lehigh Carbon and 12 years teaching at the college level, I am turning in my grade book in exchange for a new life at a boarding school.

Why?

Well, here is the thing. I wasn't actually looking for a job. I would have been content retiring from LCCC. I love the students, and I love the diversity. Even the annoying grumpy people are slightly entertaining, and I would have loved to drive them nuts for another 35 years. But, when a SL friend named Lozvare sent me the job description, I was entirely intrigued.

Perhaps it is my love of boarding school stories (A Separate Peace, Peace Breaks Out) and their collegiate counters (Cherry Ames, Superior Women) or movies like Dead Poets Society that have always inspired a love for boarding schools. Maybe it is my love of New England (and Connecticut). Or, maybe it is my respect for the accomplishments of The Hotchkiss School or the spunk of its founder, Maria Hotchkiss, that prompted me to apply. Most likely, it was a combination of all these and a desire to raise my boys in a place where they can be safe, well educated, and creative.

I applied late for the position, as I found out about it at the end of its call. But, the position for an Educational Communications and Technology Facilitator was right up my alley. While I will certainly miss grading 200 papers a week and marking giant red Xs over comma splices, I was captivated by the potential of a position working with faculty to transform their use of technology in the classroom. I felt that my own experience as a professor using the technology would be a great match for what they were looking for in this new position. I also like the idea of living on campus, coaching a sport (diving), and being an active part of the community.

Even though I accepted the position early this year, we only told a few people, as I had a semester to finish out here. But, now that the semester has closed, it is now official: we are moving to Lakeville, CT on August 1. We will be dorm parents to first and second-year boys, and I will be coaching the diving team. The boys will be going to a wonderful elementary school (Salisbury Central), and Dave will either open a hobby/ebay shop, or work at a local cardiology office.

Moving is bittersweet. We have dear friends here (Liz, Terri, Colleen, and Gene), and family, too. But, it is only 3 hours away, and the benefits are tremendous. Above is a picture of where we will be living. Below is a little movie we made for our friends and family:

Friday, May 02, 2008

Mad World by Gary Jules

It has been a while since I fell in love with a song. But, as I grade papers, I am listening to this song and thinking about our youth and the world they have inherited. Tears for Fears (one of my all time fave bands from back in the day) did it originally, but truly, I kinda think Gary does a better job. That just might be because I prefer piano over guitar, and I prefer slow and dramatic over fast and furious. Here is the Tears for Fears version.

This is Gary Jules performing the song live:



Here are the lyrics (source):

All around me are familiar faces
Worn out places, worn out faces
Bright and early for their daily races
Going nowhere, going nowhere
Their tears are filling up their glasses
No expression, no expression
Hide my head I want to drown my sorrow
No tomorrow, no tomorrow

And I find it kinda funny
I find it kinda sad
The dreams in which I'm dying
Are the best I've ever had
I find it hard to tell you
I find it hard to take
When people run in circles
It's a very, very mad world mad world

Children waiting for the day they feel good
Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday
Made to feel the way that every child should
Sit and listen, sit and listen
Went to school and I was very nervous
No one knew me, no one knew me
Hello teacher tell me what's my lesson
Look right through me, look right through me

And I find it kinda funny
I find it kinda sad
The dreams in which I'm dying
Are the best I've ever had
I find it hard to tell you
I find it hard to take
When people run in circles
It's a very, very mad world ... world
Enlarge your world
Mad world

Thursday, May 01, 2008

BLOG NEGLECT 101

Yes, Yes. You should all get a free ice cream for my negligent blog slacking, but I have a good excuse.
Finals.
This semester was crazy, but it is nearly over. So, I will return to penning brilliant prose in a few short days.
My stress release has been watching CSI on my Tivo. I love all three shows, but am really drawn to Horatio on CSI: Miami. It is a well drawn character. Sadly, my other favorite character on that show, Alexx, the uber cool medical examiner, is leaving the show. Here is the clip:


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Story of Victoria

So, it is all over the news. A bunch of girls beat up 16 year old Tori Lindsay in Florida, and then posted the video on YouTube. The kids wanted to be famous, or so it seems, or wanted to settle some kind of score.

Now everyone cried foul and says "It is the internet's fault!"

Jeebus.

Let's examine this story. First, we have Tori. Tori used her MySpace account to get in a cyber scuttle over something or other with her friends. So, they pass virtual notes and meet. In the olden days, we would have passed a piece of paper saying "meet me at the school yard at 3:15" and everyone would chant FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT! But, some wise person, usually the principle, would come, take everyone away, call the parents, and suspend the kids. But, in some cases, it was one kid on 50 in the school yard.

So, this isn't really a new situation. What makes this different is that it is taped. And it isn't taped by some innocent bystander shooting footage of rare Floridian birds; it is the attackers documenting their "victory" by sharing a camera and laughing as the girl is beaten down.

Now, I don't give one crap about the use of MySpace here. This could have happened on paper and in any school in the nation. It doesn't matter that these girls appear to be from the "backwoods" as rich kids can get in the same kind of scuffles.

I am entirely tempted to place some of the blame on the parents. One mother says Tori is to blame and a gaggle of others said, "no no, these are trumped up charges; my Susie is a good little psycho path." I mean, really. No kid, no matter how bad, deserves to be beat down by a gang of her peers. And no parent should justify it. Period. And, what are the parents teaching these kids? Ah, yes, don't take responsibility for your actions; it is always someone else's fault.

How about this...

Let's imagine these are teenagers who have done something REALLY bad and stupid. Let's coddle them and say, oooooh, you poor thing, you are from a lower middle class family, and you have had no upbringing, and, oh my, you poor little thing...all that violence on TV has made you loony, and Myspace is Satan, and YouTube is its bride, and omg if we get rid of that, all of our problems as a society will dissipate!

OR

Let's image that these are teenagers who have done something really bad and stupid. Let's make them apologize to Victoria. Let's make them work at breaking rocks at half of minimum wage until they pay every cent of her medical bills. While they are doing that, lets require them to wear house arrest belts, eliminate their use of TV/Video/Games/Music/Internet. Let's force them to be homeschooled by visiting teachers that they have to pay (with money from rock chopping), and let's make them meet twice weekly with a therapist and an anger management counselor.

Let's do this for one solid year. This way, we can teach them that being part of society, a civilized one, requires that you act and behave in a way that is appropriate. Let's demonstrate that attending school, visiting friends, and using the phone are privileges in civilized society. But, most of all, let's demonstrate that we believe that people can change and rehabilitate with correct instruction.

Ah, but you see...in order for any of that to work...the parents have to help be an advocate for change, and, well, these parents aren't up to that challenge.