Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Our Youngest High Schooler is Honored!

Congratulations to our youngest High Schooler, Alex, for soldiering through his first high school curriculum course. What's the big deal? Well, he's in 4th grade, y'all. He's actually not a high schooler at all, but is attending one of our wonderful public elementary schools in the 4th grade. During the school day, he has some blocks of time to take some higher level elementary and middle school classes online, as well as oh, one or two secondary school courses. He's a math wiz, for one thing, and he is sneaking up on a precocious mastery of languages. We think he's a good bet for President in a decade or two.

Alex put the Local television news piece up on his own YouTube and I think it could use a few more views and follows. Yes?

Please enjoy and share:

You also need to see and hear this young gem-tleman play excerpts from two Yanni songs. Love me some Yanni!

Things are Poppin' in Virtual Environments Network!

We are rockin' in Second Life, playing and learning in AvaCon Grid, and planning a whoopee cushion of a Playground for the ISTE 2016 Conference in Denver come the end of June. Catch it all, and one good place to begin is the ISTE Virtual Environments Network in SL:

Tonight, being the first Tuesday of the month, we don't meet, though at any given time you may find one of our membership just hanging out awaiting the learning conversations that so often happen there; but every other Tuesday at 5pm we can be found either in SL or in AvaCon Grid, at the marvelous marvelous new HQ built by Helena Kiama. Information about everything we do is available at the SL HQ be we there or no. Come visit! And see the Weebly marquee online for another way to learn about us!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Bernie Sanders: Destined to be our Next President?

Or should I say "doomed?"

I don't generally rant on this blog. So I won't. What I do want to do is to point out what is becoming increasingly obvious--and to affirm, if not to gloat, that I have been an avid supporter since before he announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States. Before Bernie, there simply was no real hope.

I recently reread George Orwell's 1984. Chilling it is, and so reverberating with correspondences to what's going on in our world today that I recommend it to anyone. In a way, we've been exercising the practices of the Ministry of Truth for a long, long time. He who holds the history books holds the "truth," yes? The genocide perpetrated upon Native Americans, slavery, what's always been around but is now labelled "income inequality," just to mention a few notable/ignoble events and conditions--these have been glossed over, in some cases almost to proportions in Orwell's book, in our textbooks and history books. We've made some mistakes.

The attention-diversion events Orwell calls Hate Days eerily mirror the (intended or otherwise) effects of both Dancing with the Stars and any Donald Trump speech. Our media actually spends significant time on events like this, elevating them to "news," while pointedly taking a pass or glossing over issues like rampant death by police; Congressional mass nuking of social funding while elimating taxes for the obscenely rich; and public health issues like the Flint, Michigan poisoning of the public water supply in favor of budgetary savings. These decisions reek of conspiracy to some, but I think it's really only the way our nation has declined in dedication to the common good.

Remember the "Me generation?" It was misplaced on baby boomers. It's all of us.

I don't exempt myself. Oh, I'll buy an occasional newspaper from the homeless person at the corner stoplight. I'll give monthly to public radio. I'll dedicate my work life to improving online learning options and experiences for MNPS students (and hopefully, helping develop models that can be replicated all over the world). I'll post on social media until the cows come home, with support for Sanders and disdain for his opponents (I really do like Hillary Clinton but she's so much a part of the problem I cannot support her--of course I'll vote for her if she gains the nomination, which I hope does not happen). I'll contribute small amounts of dollars to his campaign. But go door to door? Attend a meeting? No way.

I'm not sure why that's the case, but I will say that as soon as I heard the first glimmers about Bernie Sanders possibly running, I did some research on the World Wide Webz and sent him my first 5 dollars. I ignored all the "he can't win" talk and I threw in. I'm confident he'll win New Hampshire (the most liberal state in the union, to hear some describe it, after all) and probably Iowa. If that happens, folks have to at least listen.

So to you I say, listen on. Make your own decisions but don't make them based on fear (however "not absolutely groundless"), because if we abandon hope and predicate our American decision on fear alone, we lose. If we elect Bernie, we have a chance at winning. I'm hopeful.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Friday, December 04, 2015

The too too busy blues

It seems like all of my infrequent posts lately start with some apology in the order of "It's been a while..."

Yes, I'm busy. No, I'm not going to whine about it. Here's a list of what is keeping me busy:
    • My lovely honey's business, no longer really "new business," but evolving in its first year of eloquently pink-awninged storefront into something even bigger and better than we imagined.
    • My school's growth, from 7-12 to 5-12, from 700 part-timers to 1700, holding its own with 150 full-timers and my taking on Middle School online teaching responsibilities coupled with ongoing teacher, student, and tech support ones.
    • The Last Downsize, gearing up to close in two weeks on our home of 10 years and then on a brand new "tall and skinny" home in The Nations. The consequent move in three weeks. Inspections, repairs, research, packing, planning, and, and, and...
    • ISTE volunteer work, including serving as VP for both the Online Learning Network and the Virtual Environments Network. Social Media contribution, including support for Bernie Sanders, Tinwings, MNPSVS, ISTE VEN, ISTE OLN, Bad Ladies, Room in the Inn (all voluntary, only two of them official (guess which two).
    • Acting as primary caregiver for two large dogs and a senile cat.
    • Fishing. Got to get out to Marrowbone Lake this weekend to reel in some of the trout they stocked there this very day.
    • Writing some memories from an eclectic and very lucky life. Stay tuned. Release may be posthumous so I'm hoping you'll stay tuned for a (very) long time. I'm writing it ficitionally third person, but you'll likely know the protagonist.
    • Everyday living.
Here's a list of what I'm most proud of:
    • My wife--she's working her fingers to the bone (what do you get? Bony Fingers) in a fresh, healthy, catering concept that I believe is as much a public service as it is a business. See http://tinwings.com.
    • My daughter and my son--she's moved from a closed-minded but well-doing non-profit serving women who have been abused or otherwise need help to an open-minded non-profit serving the homeless, one whose design has been copied by 24 major US cities because, guess what? It works. He's working a day job and compiling, day after day, night after night, brilliant song lyrics and arrangements to serve up with his band (and on his own) for music lovers for years to come. Listen to this cut from their EP, written, sung, and lead and rhythm guitaring by Colin. Play it loud.
    • My school. We are working apace, slowly growing and already a model in our own right.
Here's what I'm ashamed of:
    • Senseless gun violence on at least a weekly basis around our country. "They" want us to feel in our souls the hopelessness of random, senseless mortal violence. "We" brought if not all at least a good deal of it to their Middle Eastern countries over the past decades and they are hopeless with their only ambition to spread that hopelessness around. Have you been to a movie lately? Have you found yourself looking around, checking for suspicious characters and wondering what you would do if that solo guy in the first row pulled out a weapon and started shooting? If so, they have won. Confession: They have won with me. Aside: Did you know that Americans bought more guns on Black Friday than would arm the entire Marine Corps? That doesn't count the ones already in the streets and in homes and in cars and carried openly. See http://truthuncensored.net/americans-bought-enough-guns-on-black-friday-to-arm-the-marine-corps/#sthash.1I0yyFoB.Qnw9hARt.dpbs
    • The Republican "Clown Car." Why do these guys get to spew hatred, fear, and stupidity and how do they garner any size audience to applaud that? Because it's a free country, that's why--though if they get their way(s) it will become even less so.
Here's what I wish for you as we move ineluctably to 2016:
(Another aside. I can't help it. Every time I hear "ineluctably" I fondly remember leaving my now grown son's room when I'd finished reading to him, or walking by his room to hear his little voice say "See you in the morning," to which I would invariably respond, quietly and meaning it, "Ineluctably."

    • That you and yours remain safe
    • That you register to vote (if you've read this far without clicking away in reactionary, brain-pressurewashed disgust it will make a positive difference)
    • That you make sure every young person of voting age in your sphere is registered to vote and promises to--young people by and large see through the hatred and fear and can imagine something better, not worse for our nation
    • That you vote every chance you can. Otherwise you are handing your essential right over and we will get what we collectively deserve
    • That you hold close and are held closely by those you love and those who love you
Time is money and money is time and we ain't got all day. Let's make the most of it, shall we? I'm done for now.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Happy Fall from Nashvegas, TN

It's been a while since I posted. Wanted to share some developments.

Lee Ann's been workingworkingworking at Tinwings, LLC, her "EEE" (entreprenurial epicurian enterprise), full-bore since well before they opened their storefront at 816 51st Avenue South last spring. Like any startup, it's hard, but perhaps unlike every startup, it's magnificently rewarding for her, her partner Ursula, and for the small but mighty group of workers she's employing, mostly very part-time. She and Ursula are the core of the operation, and they are both working overtime and under-compensated, paying back initial investment with hard hard work. I'm proud of all of them, but mostly so of my dear Lee Ann.

Our house is on the market. I cannot BELIEVE the work it took to get it there, but it's there, and we are living on a stage set, prepping it most mornings to be as ready as it can be and working on a 4 hour notice of showings. We had one over the weekend and another yesterday, and we are optimistic that it will sell soon--it's just a matter of the right buyer falling in love with it the way we did nearly ten years ago. Think good thoughts for us.

School is going great guns, and I'm teaching this semester. It's challenging, and such a learning experience to be working with a large student roll in two courses in two grade levels. Specifically, I'm working with 7th and 8th graders in Social Studies classes, 7th grade World History and 8th grade U.S. History. There are specific challenges I cannot share here, but I will say it's never boring! It's Fall Break at MNPS this week, so I'm killing trees. I printed over 200 pages of .pdf versions of my two course's Keys, in order to save time grading by accessing them without the stages of logging into Office365 and clicking to find the folder, bringing up the file in a viewer, and scrolling or searching to the appropriate assignment or assessment to find rubrics and notes about grading. I can just pick up the hefty tome and move to the page, holding it in my hands.

I'm surprised by all that, but since every day is a learning experience, my preference for a hard copy for this task (not at all typical for me, in any arena) is simply something I'm learning from. I like surprises as long as they lead to improvements in fairness, support, and learning on the part of my students.

A couple of other upcoming things are in my radar. In my volunteering arena, I'm captaining a stellar group of volunteer reviewers who are tasked with selecting a set of proposals accepted for ISTE 2016 in Denver, Colorado next summer--those submitted in the theme of Distance Learning Resources and Open Educational Tools. I've glanced at the 32 proposals we will be reviewing and they look good. I have every confidence in the process ISTE's put in place and we'll get the job done. Yay.

I'm also driving down to Atlanta, GA in a couple weeks to serve on the AdvancED External Review Team for a university down there. This service is one I have done before, in Massachusetts then, but I'm going to be working full-bore from a Sunday evening to a Tuesday afternoon before driving back home to Nashville and back to work Wednesday.

Finally, and actually temporally before the other two, I'll be attending a live viewing of the Democratic debate on the 12th, at Tailgate Brewery on Hwy 70. If you are interested in joining us, fans of Bernie Sanders for President, at 7 pm, go here!
Again, yay. Take care and be hopeful. You might choose, as my dear brother Ed does, to not watch the news. It's skewed toward the trivial and the negative. It's the Roman Colosseum of today. Take care. 

This looks so cool:

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Pleiades wishes

My wishes on falling stars, Pleiades meteor shower, 081315, 0435-0505 hours--‪#‎goodmorning‬

 1. That my daughter and my son be safe and true always to themselves
2. That my wife take care of herself almost as much as she takes care of others
3. That we endure, lovingly, to the end, which is not the end
4. That my brother be safe and healthy
5. That those of my family who have passed over be at peace or in good flux
6. That my godson continue to thrive and to inspire
7. That my brother from another mother be safe and healthy
8. That his family thrive and be safe
9. That our family thrive and be safe
10. That the world embrace my beautiful children for their caring and creative souls
11. That my school forever seek
12. That my colleagues remain friends
13. That our nation find balance
14. That our nation turn its back on hate
15. That the pieces of this most likely final move fall merrily into place
16. That our new home be as much a home as has this one
17. That I create and contribute more and better during the time I have left
18. That those who harbor greed over kindness turn around
19. That Bernie stay safe to lead
20. That commercials for prescription medications be outlawed
21. That news be news and not only diversion
22. That hackers stop hacking
23. That the fish bite
24. That you get what’s coming to you
from http://www.al.com/news/index.ssf/2015/08/perseid_meteor_shower_2015_whe.html and very much like what I was seeing from my patio chair in West Nashville