Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Just a Few Questions

At this point, I realize that we are at a day and age where information is in massive supply and it is crucial to be able to comprehend the new literacy. I am having trouble and looking for answers on the following subjects.

1. Technorati
2. Bloglines
3. RSS
4. Podcasting
5. Web 2.0
6. Blogs
7. XML
8. Firefox
9. Tags
10. Wiki

Any and all help will be appreciated. I use to think of myself as technology literate but these days I am reading and not truly understanding. I do recognize the breakdown of my comprehension and seeking answers but it does seem like an uphill battle.

Have a Dog

The author of Life's Little Instruction book suggests in his second point that "we" should have a dog. Well, I do but the time has come to say goodbye. We have a wonderful beast of burden, Baxter, who is an English Springer Spaniel. He really is a gorgeous dog but he has just become too much for our household to handle.

This is the kind of dog that requires about an hour of excercise a day and with three children and a crazy schedule he barely gets an hour a week. My wife and I have been contemplating this for quite sometime and we have found an old friend that lives on a lake that is very excited about the idea of taking Baxter. The dog will surely love it, open fields and a big puddle; What more could a dog ask for?

Anyway, I am sure that after a week or two the dog will be acclimatized to his new surroundings and I am hoping that my children will be too. Wish me luck.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Life's Little Instruction Book by H. Jackson Brown

Life's Little Instruction Book

1. Compliment three people everyday.

I can't remember the specifics of my compliments but being an elementary teacher I try to throw these around with each good deed I notice at the time. I would like to take this "Little Life Instruction" and use it in my own home much more. Wish me luck.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

To Do List

Ok, before I even begin I am going to let you know that I really have no idea where this piece will go. With that said, I am sitting in my classroom at 6:10 wondering why I am sitting in my classroom. Actually, I have a rather lengthy To Do List that seems to be brewing. I am all about the infamous To Do List. Does anyone really ever get to the entire thing?

I don't know, I guess I am just really tired and I am having trouble saying "NO" these days. I am attempting to balance too much, and you know what, my family really takes the hit for it. I don't say "NO" to anyone but my family. Ouch. That just kinda slaps ya in the face.

I just remembered I turned my car on and left it running to warm up on this bitter night. Do you think it is still there?

This is what I am talking about. Just too much going through my head. I really gotta go. I am interested to know what is going on in your head.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Blue Bus Baby

I met a man today
That grew up on a blue bus
When I was thinking I had it tough
I met a man today
That grew up on a blue bus

Friday, November 10, 2006

Is the World Really Flat?

Friedman's New York Time Best Seller, The World is Flat has got me in a quandry.
We need inspirational leaders that will stand up and get our country looking forward again.

I think I am optimistic and hopeful about our cultures future but when I end up at Walmart at 1:30 in the morning to get medicine for my sick daughter I wonder what has happened to our culture. The kind folks loitering "Wally World's" storefront and the chaotic aisles remind me of some B grade science fiction version of Night of the Living Dead. Are we doomed as a nation? I just wonder about people sometimes when I walk by a group of so called adults wildly talking about the latest video game while the little girl in the grocery cart is doing her best to stay awake at such an hour. I really want to focus on the "right" but it is oh so easy to see all the wrong in this world.

Focus John, make a point you are rambling again. John F. Kennedy stood up in the middle of a crisis and boldly challenged America to put a man on the moon in 10 years. At the time, this was so forward looking that many thought it could never be done. But, America was up to the challenge and the nation rallied around a central idea fighting a central enemy. Where are the leaders of America today? What is our rally call? Who are we fighting?

I agree with Friedman who says that we have an opportunity to unite a country with a broken spirit by challenging the America that JFK knew to be completely independent and self reliant of all natural resources. Have a nation that is no longer using oil like an addict is with heroine. We, us, you, should "Go Green" and it should be done quickly and effeciently to reunite the American people, getting us moving forward once again and maintain our global leadership. No more worries about our heating bills, the cost of gasoline, or the environmental price that is being paid. Go Green, this is and should be our rally call and focus point for the next ten years. Challenge all the great minds of our nation to come together and solve this problem.

Where are the leaders who inspire? Are they but a distant memory? I spoke with a good friend of mine the other night who has been devastated, insulted, and embarrased by our governments actions in Iraq. The people of America need a rally call like never before to rekindle the flame that has dwindled to mere smoldering coals. The people of America are showing signs of fatigue and appear to be battered and beaten. I am looking for a leader that can inspire a nation and heal our wounds. I am looking for a leader that is geniunely concerned about America's place in history and willing to go the extra mile to get the job done.

I believe the enemy of today is not Russia as it was during the Cold War, or Iraq, or even Korea. I believe our enemy lies within. We are our own worst enemy. The standard of living and our lifestyles have allowed us a nation to become complacent. I am afraid that the American Family has taken such a blow that it may be difficult to recover from. Look it, no matter who is sitting in the White House or Congress they will never truly determine what happens in my own home. This is where the war is being fought. The American parents of today have such great challenges in raising children and surviving that ultimately it is the children who take the beating. The enemy is within each of us. We need to support the parents and families with everything we have as a Society or just like Rome, we will fall. We need to inundate our society with effective parenting programs, money, support groups, advertising, help lines, teaching centers, all completely funded in order to help parents and children learn to become a family again. This is the real battle, this is the enemy that we are facing and we are going to lose the war unless we stand up.

Inpirational leaders, Going Green, and educating and supporting the families of America...

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Dinner Conversation

Four men, breaking bread and sharing a dynamic conversation. What can a teacher, machinist, self made millionaire, and an entrepreneur possibly talk about? My curiosity ensues and I am eager to talk with the man of wealth at the table. "Do you have any new ideas that you are considering?"

"What are you talking about?" Tim asks.

"Money making ideas, what is your next project? I mean at this point your cleaning business is booming, there is a waiting list for your storage facility, and the machine shop has taken a life on of its own. What's next?" I ask.

"I don't know." Tim replies.

I continue the conversation hoping to probe him for ideas. "I need a hook. I need to discover something that will enable me to become debt free but I just don't know. Maybe something in technology."

The machinist, Kyle, joins in and becomes interested in the idea of finding some avenue, some idea that can be bottled and sold so we don't have to live a life of bondage to the dollar.

After several minutes of conversing Tim finally pipes in by saying, "People think too hard, keep it simple. My wife and I went to the beach. Do you know what they charge for one hour on a jetski? 80 bucks."

Blaine, the entrepreneur replies by saying, "It's more like a 1oo bucks."

"OK, one hundred dollars. If you buy 30 jetskis and charge 100 dollars and hour to ride, how much do you think you'll make?"

Being a teacher, I had to respond quickly with, " 3000 dollars."

Tim, now really letting us have it with a simple idea says, "How much is that for an eight hour day? A week? 5 months? You hire a couple of beach boys to run around taking care of the jetskis, pay them 10 bucks an hour and all the beer they can drink, get yourself a top notch mechanic and bingo, there you have it, a simple idea."

Well, we were all ready to go buy jetskis and head south after that when Tim said, "Bike rentals, how hard is that? When I go to the beach I see bikes everywhere."

I leaned back in my chair and slowly sipped my hot coffee and the wheels were turning. Here I am sitting at a table with a millionaire who is sharing some pretty simple ideas. He wasn't done there either. Tim chimed back in by saying, "You can provide a service. Something that no one else wants to do and capitalize on it. Find out what everyone needs. That's what I did with the cleaning business. No one wants to clean toilets, so I did and I made a lot of money doing it."

We sat at the table for a couple of hours and we talked about a great deal of ideas. Blaine, the entrepreneur has never had a boss. His project he is working on now is transporting garbage from NYC to the landfill. These guys are making a bundle of money hauling garbage and from his angle he is the owner of the trucking company and is in the process of getting this going. Again, I simply find it interesting how the stories of people unfold. Kyle, has just filed bankruptcy and getting back on his feet at the machine shop that Tim owns. Blaine has this great idea with the trucking company but no funds to get it started. That's where Tim comes in, and I am simply a man working seven days a week in search of a hook.

I think there is another writing piece here, a deeper issue, perhaps a more riskier issue about my choices in life that has led me to work seven days a week. I will leave that for another time.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Eulogy to a Tree

Good Ole Tree
I woke round 3:00 am on a Tuesday
waitin' 'round for the next day
I couldn't walk or talk or see past my head
as I left my usual bed
I am too tired from being fired
Just layin' 'round waitin' to be hired
So I stepped out back to the sundeck
I said, "What the heck."
Gotta go, gotta go, gotta let it flow
no one 'round 3:00 am on a Tuesday
As I let it go let it flow
A tree fell right there in front of me
Then it struck me 'bout 3:01
That I'll be a son of a gun
Never thought I'd live to see the day
To see a tree fall right there in front of me
So here I am alive to tell
about a Good Ole Tree that fell
Sometimes I get to feelin' so bad about that ole tree
I guess I should have never stepped out back that night to pee.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Educational Technology

I am looking forward to learning more about blogging and publishing on the internet. I have been actively involved in finding out how elementary teachers apply this piece of technology to their classroom and how they engage their students with this idea.

Alan November, leader in educational technology, will be speaking at our school in October and I am eager to hear his words and ideas. I am certain that the educators that attend will become inspired and possibly overwhelmed with the breadth of information. We have breakout sessions scheduled after the presentation that are designed to allow each of the teachers to choose a class they would like to devote their time and energy to. With my interest being focused on writing and technology, I will be attending the session called, "How to publish your writing on line." I believe the sessions last about an hour and half.

We have a class at our school called Ultra Key, where the students work on typing skills for 30 minutes. I would like to convert this chunck of time for my class into an opportunity to utilize blogs. So, at this point I am at the crossroads as to how to implement such a plan. I am anticipating that most of my questions and concerns will be answered during the breakout session however, I need to think of my students safety first and foremost when dealing with the Internet. Am I going to have to purchase a license to use a particular blogging site? How will I begin such a project? Will I post a question for the students to write about? Will I use some content from the lessons?

I guess I am not so much worried about the content as I am the logistics of it all. Administrative and parental support, time in the computer lab, and just the "how to" of it all are really my major concerns. So, I search the blogs for other teachers that utlize this technology and welcome any guidance from anyone on how to implement blogging into the lives of my fifth grade students.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


Waterskiing at dawn when the still chilled waters reflect the crimson colors of the crisp fall foliage is a moment where I wish time was not so relentless. I pause, close my eyes for but a moment and exhale slowly watching the fog of my breath drift above my brow. I boldly stand atop the dew drenched stern and prepare to dive into the calm waters. It's always difficult to determine which of us will taste the sweet morning air first from behind the boat. Today, this day, it has been determined that I will be the first to carve the untouched waters.

I am well prepared for this moment. My wetsuit shorts are firmly pressing against my cold skin, gloves snug around each finger, lifevest buckled with neatly wrapped straps and a boat with a full tank of gas. My 42 foot ski rope has been double checked for any hidden knots and I grip the seasoned handle like the Great Bambino and his mighty bat. And then finally, sliding silently from my reluctance I take the plunge into the cold water and effortlessly float back to the surface.

There is something magical about those two or three seconds where your body first meets the morning water. Perhaps it's like a baby in the womb completely surrounded, safe, and secure with a muffled silence. As I rise out of the water and refill my greedy lungs I find the waterski floating next to me. It had been carefully placed in the crystal clear water and nudged in my direction.

The rope slowly begins to slide through the water like a snake in the grass. I quickly find my balance while gripping the ski handle and all of a sudden there is tension in the rope. The fumes from the boat motor linger and fill my nostrils as I am slowly being dragged along. The driver, a well seasoned waterski veteran, has a firm grip on the boats throttle and is patiently waiting the for the word. I take one last breath, and holler, "Hit it!"

The morning silence broken, the calm waters tainted, and my heart pounding and pushing the warming blood through my veins. The day has begun, the day has begun.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

How's Your Blood?

Five years of being a pin cushion in the United States Marine Corps and this is how it all ends, passing out during a simple blood test.

It was quite painless really, as I slid out of the chair and my head bounced off the floor. It was 7 am and I was getting some blood drawn for a routine test when all of a sudden I woke up with a stranger standing over me wearing a winter white outfit with bright red hair and a blushing face to match. While still holding the needle, the nurse kept asking me if I was alright when I finally realized what had happened. Needless to say, I didn't leave their office in a hurry.

For some bizarre reason, I pass out during a simple blood draw and let me tell you, it is quite embarrasing. Oh sure, I use humor as a strategy to cope with such an uncomfortable situation but it never seems to be received very well by the nurse that is gazing at my arm for the "best vein." I have some pretty descent lines to like, "I'll see ya on the other side, or guess I can never be a herione addict."

About 10 years later my wife convinces me that I should get my blood tested again. Of course my sarcastic response sounds something like, "Sure, I will get right on that." She knows I pass out, she knows I detest the needle, she knows I really can't stand the Doctor's office. So, why on God's Green Earth would she suggest such an awful idea? I know, I know, women seem to be right up to date on all their shots and annual visits and feel that men need to have their time on the table too. Well, when I go in my time is prety much spent on the floor. Anyway, I reluctantly went to see him and when they called my name after waiting an hour in the lobby I probably looked like a criminal from death row walking to his demise.

The "Oh so nice nurse" offered me a seat in the "chair" that has those incredibly grovy elbow rests built right in. Despite the comfort that these chairs would surely offer I respectfully declined and requested a table to pass out on. They honored my humble request and let me tell you, this table was as cold as ice, probably an old table brought up from the morgue now used in the blood lab. Anyway, I survived the needle and lived to tell the tale, however the plot thickens a week later when I get the results of the infamous blood draw.

The follow up appointment didn't really go as planned. The Doc enters the rooms and says to me, "Mr. H. I have some good news and bad news for you today, which would you like first?"

I reluctantly respond with, "Alright Doc, start out strong with some good news."

The Doc replies with a gentle gleam in his eye, "You have two months to live!"

As you can imagine, my jaw dropped reaction was, "Good God Doc, if that is the good news what is the bad news?"

This time without a smile on his face, "Well, I guess you will die." I thought to myself that this simply can't be good. Intellectually I realize that we will all die someday but come on, two months. He then went on to tell me that I could possible increase the likihood of my life if I were to experience a complete paradigm shift of my lifestyle. Meaning the way I am doing business now will force me to close my doors and shut down the shop, terminally.

OK, so I am exaggerating for effect. The Doc didn't say those words quite like that but he did paint a pretty descent doom and gloom picture for me. My disfunctional eating habits and lack of physical exercise has brought me to the brink of death without me completely realizing the fact. Well, sure I knew that eating a sleeve of double thick chocolate chip cookies and a tall glass of ice cold milk at 2 AM isn't good for me, but come on you have to admit that food tastes best between the hours of Midnight an 4am.

The test resuls were as follows: HDL's, or good cholestrol is virtually gone, which is a bad thing. My triglycerides are maxed out at 191, which is an extremely bad thing. My liver functions are so high that the report read "Panic" in bold print next to those results, which is an incredibly bad thing. Finally, the icing on the cake, the cherry on the ice cream, and the syrup on my pancake (All of which I use to eat on a regular basis) my glucose, or sugar level is 7 points from Diabetic, which is an irreversible thing. That is just wonderful. I am literally eating myself to death. I am like an alchoholic but my vice is food.

So, I end this terrific tale only to ask the unaskable question, "How's Your Blood?"

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Writing Workshop

I am currently taking a writing workshop that will take place over a two year period of time. The underlying premise is that to teach the writing process effectively to children one must develop a sense of self as a writer. I do believe that this is true.

At the close of the first session the instructors of the workshop asked that we attempt to reflect deeply about what is going on around us, and ultimately write about it. The actual topics we write about is probably not as important as the act of writing. However, we will immerse ourselves in this literary art form to hopefully become effective instructors of this process.

We will reconvene in a couple of months and share our work and talk about how the writing went for us. It has been a couple of weeks now since that last class and I am finally putting "pen to paper."

What can I write about? I have been finding that I am creating lists of possible topics to explore, reflect, and question. The first being Parenting 101, America, Wally World, Racism -Alive and Well, How's Your Blood?, and the list goes on. I hope to be able to choose a topic soon and really delve in to attempt to become succinct writer.