Monday, May 15, 2017

ISTE 2017 is ON!

I am so excited that:


Just got registered today. It's been touch and go with the loss of district support for the travel, but I have a roomy for the first time in over a decade to save housing money and I'll do the Curly Shuffle like I usually do when the conference is in Texas: I'll fly into San Antonio and my brother will pick me up at the conference's end on Wednesday, then we'll drive back to his lakehouse in Montgomery, Texas, on Lake Conroe, for a weekend of fishing. I'll fly out of Houston home. Yay! Thanks to the ISTE Conference Committee for working with me on all this!



Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Back at it in Nashville

Hello, world,

Back to work at m school after a fabulous 2000 mile road trip from Nashville to Brooklyn last week. I used the Waze app almost exclusively to get from city to city and then all the way home, with stops outside of Roanoke on the way up, then New Hope, Pennsylvania; Philadelphia; Frederick, Maryland; and Knoxville, Tennessee on the way home.

Brooklyn was so much fun, and it was just the right thing for my soul to spend some time with my boy, Colin. At 21, he's growing up--learning to manage a day and to plan for his future as he meets people and makes new friends. Last year, he was pining to be somewhere else, and he came to the conclusion that he wanted to life the "best of the best and the worst of the worst." I don't think he found the latter, if you discount how freakily expensive it is up around the Big Apple, but he certainly is finding his center, which in my opinion is the best of the best.

Those of you who are hooked up with me via Facebook, I have a photo album that almost conveys how much fun this time with my son was. He is writing staggeringly evocative lyrics, currently wrapped in acoustic guitar sort of alternative folk clothing. I can't wait to hear more, though that's always been the case. You can find him on SoundCloud with a little searching, and that's a fun trip, since he tends to store works-in-progress there.

Here's the lad taking a load off on the wall in central Times Square:


Just wanted to pop in to say that this was a trip I needed. It reminded me, after surviving--often less gracefully than I would like to--a difficult year of career change, that I am more than my day to day work. Sure, I work hard hoping that I am making a difference in the lives of at least some of my very needy, very impoverished students; but I am also a traveler, a poet, a musician, and a kind human. I intend to hold onto the feeling that I matter, even on the most difficult days. You do the same. Good day.

Friday, March 03, 2017

372WN!!!

Just dropping into me bloggie to note my highly excited pride at being included in the stable of writers for the new publication, 372WN. It's edited by the multi-talented Miriam Drennan, and each and every one of its writers is a resident of West Nashville.

372WN's homepage

It can be read online in its "issuu" incarnation, but I'm partial to the heavy-stock, hefty, beautifully printed magazine itself, free in racks at stores and businesses all over West Nashville. So far, I've had four articles published in the first two issues, I have one slated for issue 3, and I'm working on two more for the June-July issue. FUN! Pick one up, or click one up.


Friday, February 10, 2017

Virtual Reality in Support of One's Mental Health

At La Digue du Braek in Second Life
In my volunteer life, I work with some of the brightest minds in learning and teaching. Serving this year as Chair of the International Society for Technology in Education's Virtual Environments Network (VEN) affords me at least weekly opportunities to actually meet with them. Scheduled meetups are on Tuesday evenings.

After a long day at a very demanding, often-times emotionally draining teaching job at a struggling inner-city school, meeting with these friends (and it seems there are new ones joining in every week), though they may be in New York, Colorado, or Australia--actually being with them, my Second Life avatar embodying my self--helps me relax and know my worth in the world.

Once a month, on the month's first Tuesday, friend Barbara Seaton leads a session called VEN Writers Group. We visit a "sim" that is evocative in some way, artistic, moody, and always creatively designed and implemented, soak our(avatar)selves in the ambiance, and each of us pens some creative writing piece around that experience. The following month we meet at our Second Life Headquarters and share our work by turns.

Last month, we met at VEN HQ, chatted together for a moment, then visited an amazing place modelled after a mixed beach-and-industrial location on the coast of France. I confess that I did not write my piece that night, but later, closer to the sharing meeting, I penned a poem after a particularly hard day at my teaching work. I can't share it here because it is a bit too dark and personal, but it will soon be among the writings shared at our group's website at http://venetwork.weebly.com. The picture above was taken there, and you may visit it in Second Life via this link.

For comparison after you visit in Second Life, see this video drive-through of the "real world" location.

On another Tuesday of every month, we meet for a VEN Focus Session, formerly a "Speaker Session" but more and more participative in the way of a field trip, often to other virtual worlds besides Second Life. Do you want to take a moment to view an archival video of this experience? It might just spur you to get your own avatar at http://secondlife.com and come and join us! Do!

Visit the VEN livestream archives to view one of 11 recorded live events.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Nations Homes Video

...and, by way of overcompensation for my recent radio silence from scottmerrickdotnet, here's a little video composed of photos take from New Years Day 2016 up to June1. Enjoy:

The Beer@Noon Diet!

Good day, good human,

I have lately been doing some writing for a new publication, a West Nashville-focused periodical entitled 372WN. I'd highly encourage you to pick one up at one of the many distribution racks you'll soon begin to see around our fair city.

That has kept me busy writing, but not so much blogging. My challenging work at my East Nashville elementary school has also limited time and energy for blogging, and I've been maintaining my new school blog regularly as well. All that said, I'm apologizing for letting my scottmerrickdotnet voice go pretty well dormant.

I recently rediscovered an item on my desktop that I want to share here, and I'm thinking that it's well-timed, this being the first day after Thanksgiving, when I went back for thirds of the Lemon, Rosemary, and Black Tea Brined Grilled Turkey I spent those well-allotted hours overseeing yesterday. Enjoy (and you're welcome):

Welcome. If you are reading this you have an open mind. Good on ya. And you’re a guy, most likely. There are not a lot of diets for us, serious or otherwise. This, my brother, is a secret. Share it not. Keep this to yourself.

The briefest backstory on the planet:  I weighed in at a Higi station in mid-July at my local Kroger pharmacy, only to discover that I was exceeding my “normal” weight by around 14 pounds. The report showed me at 219 pounds and “At Risk.” Not good. We’ll talk about my blood pressure levels later. Look:
Shortly after that inauspicious beginning with Higi, I flew to Denver, Colorado for two weeks, the first week for a professional conference, the second a week with my dear, dear wife and her Denver family, just relaxing. I knew there would be beer involved. A plot began to brew in my wee little mind. Listen, I’m 6 feet tall and at that time I worked what can be described as a desk job (I’m now back in the classroom). I stay pretty active, but not aerobically, not on any regular basis. I walk my dogs every day. I’m sure that helps, but it’s certainly not the 30 minutes of cardio exercise recommended by the pundits. What to do? What to do?

Have you seriously looked into one or another of the “usual suspects” diets? Whatever miracle drug, diet plan, club or cult you look at, the bottom line is clear. Every single motherlovin’’ diet you look—assuming it doesn’t rely on some kind of (usually dangerous) miracle drug--at ends up saying that the best long term results come from cutting calories and increasing exercise. Every single one. Hello? Hello? Hellfricking-o? Let’s do that!

One way to accomplish that necessary combination that is by “Time-restricted feeding” (TRF). Yeah, “TRF.” It’s an actual thing.  Reducing the window in which you eat, and doing so consistently, helps your body burn fats more efficiently and, at least according to http://greatist.com/eat/breakfast-weight-loss, will result in weight loss and furthermore, the maintenance of that weight loss.

My daily caloric intake over the past year or so has been pretty stable. Let’s look at a bulleted list of daily dietary habits:
● zero or low calory yogurt or a guy kibbie (think pan toasted bread with a hole in the middle, add a fried egg and basil) in the morning, sometimes a ~180 calorie breakfast bar if it’s the kind of morning I am off late to work and need pocket-portable food (“Let’s go somewhere we can eat in the car!”)
● a sandwich or plate of something yummy for lunch, taken at or packed to work from my lovely wife’s storefront, Tinwings, by pilfering the employee food bin
● a handful of nuts or a stick of cheese from the fridge when I get home to tide me over to
● a beer, or two, or three
● dinner: a balanced, delicious meal prepared by me or by my lovely wife, who happens to be an accomplished catering and fresh retail foods chef
● a cocktail or two

What can we do to create a time-limited experience that will moderate caloric intake, keep the body healthy, and have fun doing it? I took the lightning bolt to the brain:

The Beer!@Noon!Diet!

● Nothing but black coffee and water before noon
● A “good beer” at noon
              * Don’t drink crappy beer
● Anything you want after that, but…
                *always leave something on the plate
                *eat less than ¼ of the bun, when applicable
                *moderate any other alcohol intake
                *drink water all day
■ A 12 oz. glass of water between any other of any kind of beverage, and
                *keep your eyes open for terrorists
● No snacks no problem—oddly, but true to research, that extra water you are drinking will let you feel generally less hungry
● Walk the dog (or yourself) every day
● Do three instances of 20 minutes increased pulse rate per week, minimum
● Smile
● Do it over and over again, for as long as 2 weeks at a time
                *Go off of it when you want, come back when you want

Colorado is certainly the craft brew state of the nation. Just take a look at the Colorado Breweries List, and yes, that’s a thing, too. I’m too lazy to count them. Well, maybe I should. Okay, I tried but lost track. I’m sorry. Count them for yourself. Hundreds, I say, hundreds. Probably my favorite discovery of the trip was Great Divide’s Hercules Double IPA. Man oh man is that a great 12 ounces of glory. It’s a no nonsense hopfest, with a citrusy start and a serious hoppy finish, all the while malty rich and full of flavor. 

Here’s the thing. After practicing the Beer@NoonDiet from June 23 to July 8, I returned to my home in Nashville. On July 9, I visited the same Higi.com station at Kroger on Charlotte Avenue. I weighed in at 217, just a two pound weight loss. But my body fat ratio, as measured by higi, was now in the “Acceptable” range! Huh? See:

I continued to keep to the B@N Diet on weekends and follow the other practices during the week. Two weeks later I was down to 206 pounds and every other indicator told me I was in the normal range. My body fat percentage crept lower and never peaked out of the Acceptable range again. We’ll talk about my blood pressure levels later.

I’m a schoolteacher during the school year, and I obviously cannot break out this fantastic diet then, except…Maybe. On. Weekends. What to do? What to do? Make it the “Juice@NoonDiet” during the work week. Follow all the other tenets, only make a (no larger than 16 oz.) nutritional juice with your NutriBullet and pack it for lunch. Keep that water bottle handy. Keep that body-fat ratio in the “Acceptable” range this way.

Don’t Worry. Be Happy. Fish a lot.

Fun Reference:
The Only Beer Diet, lol:
http://www.menshealth.com/weight-loss/the-beer-diet

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Periscoping a Fall Walk across Nashville's Pedestrian Bridge

On my final day of Fall Break, which I spent mostly knocking out home-focused honey-do items (though I did get to Marrowbone Lake for one morning of fishing), I decided to take a walk over the John L. Seigenthaler Memorial Bridge. I had never done it before! My goal was to take a 360 panorama for my little side project, Nashville360VR, which has been suffering lately from my dedication to my new job at Warner Enhanced Elementary School. I did that, and on a whim I Periscoped it. Here's the video of that which I saved locally. Folks popped in and out--I don't think I had more than 20 or so concurrent viewers, but all in all I received 251 peeks over the 13 or so minutes or so of the 'cast. You won't see chat or comments (or hearts :), but you can view the video. Here:
video

Thanks to 'scopers for dropping in. And thanks to the powers-that-be for such a gorgeous Friday afternoon!

Here are a couple normal "pano" shots I took on my iPhone:



That is all. Oh...

If you want to see that 360, check out Nashville360VR. Bring your 3d goggles, y'all.






Sunday, September 04, 2016

Happy Labor Day Weekend

A couple quick updates:

Loving the work at Warner Enhanced Option Elementary School. It's very challenging, outside my box, and I'm making the box mine. If we can make a difference in these young people's lives we will be doing good and doing it well.

I had a lovely morning fishing and I'm now sitting at my dear in-law's new computer typing this whilst Microsoft Office installs.

I caught one nice catfish and 6 bluegill, all of which I released. I actually usually go for the fishing, not necessarily the catching, but it's good to have caught something while floating on my favorite lake, Lake Marrowbone, only 20 minutes north of my home. Thank you, Howard Harrod, wherever you find your soul these days, for gifting me your trolling motor. It works like a champ!

The Office install's almost done. My favorite octogenarians have been running Windows XP on a 7 year old Dell for too long. Last week it locked up with likely hard drive failure and well there ya go. I bought a$400 Lenovo tower from Best Buys and the Office subscription and we're up and running. Bonus: I didn't even need to install the workhorse Epson Workforce 630 all-in-one office printer. It was just recognized, drivers installed, and bingo.

Here are two picks from this morning, one of which will add to the chronicle of my MOHS surgery recovery progress. I went Thursday to get lasered. Some fun that was, but by all accounts when the bruising clears up I'll be clear and beautiful again--er--if I ever was.

Have a great long weekend. We all deserve it!!!

click me for full-size!

Laser-nosed me