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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Pics from empyrean coffeehouse

Whilst waiting for my boy to finish his skateboarding this fine sunday afternoon, I noticed a grasshopper suctioned to the exterior window, moved up close, and snapped a pic. I twittered it with the caption, "Lieutenant Grasven! Convey to the rest of the party that I have finally located the mothership!" There is just something about the AT&T building, affectionately dubbed by locals the "Batman Building," that makes this work. Thought I'd share it with you! Happy long weekend, if you're in the States. If you're not, I hope that your country celebrates hard work in its own way :)

You'll have to click the pic to see the whole work of art (lol).

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

National Debt Clock

Sorry, I'm not very "political." But I do have two children who will suffer the repercussions, along with their children, if we continue to squander their futures on bad decisions. Look at this:


Nation's Finances

National Debt Clock

Monday, August 25, 2008

Kevin, oh, Kevin, is at it again!

He's one of my several idols.

Yes, I confess: I idolize educators who can manage to contribute in an ongoing way to the understanding of our profession as a positive force in the world.

Kevin Jarrett's blog post today is thought-provoking and reflective, just what I need as I work to rebound from a nasty cold. Not only that, he took the time to send me an email (interrupting my grant-writing work, but happily) to say "Smile! Your on my blog," referring to the great little pic of me with some of my new friends, posed in the midst of the Second Life Lounge at NECC2008. I'm crouching behind, from left to right, Megan Deana, Jeremy Koester, Peggy Sheehy, and Claudia L'Amoreaeux (Coreina Grace, Jeremy Braver, Maggie Marat, and Claudia Linden if you're looking for them in Second Life).

Friends among friends

Amidst all life's changes, friends endure. Kev, I'm also looking forward to the summer of 2009. Speaking of which, I'd better get back to my grant-writing!

Cheers from (finally!) rainy Tennessee!!

Sunday, August 24, 2008


I called my brother-in-law, Jim, last night to whine about how I'm laid low with a nasty cold, and he told me how his day had gone.

"This'll make you feel better about yours," he said.

He was running in his neighborhood and had just about finished his two-mile or so run, when he inhaled and something flew up his nose. It was a yellowjacket.


The thing started stinging him "on the fleshy part of the inside of the nostril" and he stopped, uttering a few ill-considered curse words, and started digging inside his nostril with his finger. It came out in pieces, and luckily, he got the stinger out. But, he said, "about half hour later I blew my nose and out came the thing's head."


Now, he informed me, he was looking at himself in a mirror, his lip swollen horribly and the side of his face looking like someone had hit him with a baseball bat.


I feel better (yellowjacket image from, republished here under the conditions allowed by the Wikimedia Commons).

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Google's Lively "Surprisingly Lifeless"

In an an online article from the print version of The Economist, the editors lampoon Google's efforts to create a novel, browser-based 3-dimensional virtual world. It's a good, quick read with a quote by friend Kathy Schrock, and it makes some very good points, especially about there basically being "nothing to do in Lively unless you're talking to someone." The article's lead-line says it all: "Lively, Google’s virtual world, has been a flop..."

Is there hope for Lively? I'm not sure, and my crystal ball is not responding today, but if you want to learn more about it go visit the Lively website and download the application to play with. My own little Lively build is here. But you have to call a friend to ask them to join you there, unless you are happy just dangling your feet off the dock...



Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Daniel Pink in Nashville

Hey ya'll.

I set up a CoverItLive blog post this a.m. in the hopes that I would be able to use it during Daniel Pink's talk to teachers at the Ensworth School inservice kick-off this a.m. I had the best of intentions.

After arriving at the Ensworth High School campus to learn I was mistaken about the location (the inservice keynote for both schools was held at the K-8 school, duh) I trucked on in toward downtown and got into the talk just about 8 minutes into the presentation. There, before me, in the Ensworth School "Frist Hall," were a few hundred teachers in rows of chairs with Pink dwarfed by a good sized projector screen bearing his powerpoint. There was--I promise I'm not making this up--a single seat left at the far right of the backmost row. I sat.

As far as I could see, there was not a laptop open in the room. That discouraged me from pulling mine out, as well as the educated guess that if there were a wireless internet connection connecting to it would be more hassle than breeze. So I did manage to fire up my trusty Dell Axim and hit the "record" button. I don't know yet if I'll use any of the audio but it'll serve to help me recall just a few key points I want to share out.

For anyone not paying attention yet, Pink's book A Whole New Mind, Why Right-Brainers will Rule the Future, is certainly in the runnin--along with Clay Shirky's Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing without Organizations--for the techbuzzbook of the year. If I heard either of those titles cited in a conversation or presentation at this summer's NECC2008 once, I heard them cited dozens of times.

I haven't seen Shirky yet, though I will (I did share his TED Talk with my Web20forUS! workshop participants earlier this summer). But I had to encroach on my (and my family's) last day of summer before our own inservice tomorrow and go see this man. My bottom-line recommendation? You do the same if you have a chance.

Pink, an economist by training and a writer by inclination and talent, brings a unique self-admitted left-brain perspective to his prediction that right-brainers will forge the economies of the future. The key foundation of his theory is that education designed for "Routines, Right Answers, and Standardization" is insufficient to prepare today's learners for a future economy whose defining contexts will be "Novelty, Nuance, and Customization." In great detail, he explained from his economic perspective how "Routine" will no longer be of value to future citizens of America, and that "that kind of work is disappearing from America. It races to the cheapest cost provider."

Pink projected beyond the phenomenon of mid-level routine white collar outsourcing (citing a NYTimes article from this very morning) to its racing through India, its current repository/provider, down to other cultures--Malaysia, Vietnam, the Phillipines. He painted a picture of the future informed by Google's recent declaration that their ideal employee may be a "non-routine savant." Here's the reference Pink drew from; here's what Google's looking for now (an important qualifier, that word, "now"), workers with:

... analytical reasoning. Google is a data-driven, analytic company. When an issue arises or a decision needs to be made, we start with data. That means we can talk about what we know, instead of what we think we know.

... communication skills. Marshalling and understanding the available evidence isn't useful unless you can effectively communicate your conclusions.

... a willingness to experiment.
Non-routine problems call for non-routine solutions and there is no formula for success. A well-designed experiment calls for a range of treatments, explicit control groups, and careful post-treatment analysis. Sometimes an experiment kills off a pet theory, so you need a willingness to accept the evidence even if you don't like it.

[who are] team players. Virtually every project at Google is run by a small team. People need to work well together and perform up to the team's expectations.

... passion and leadership.
This could be professional or in other life experiences: learning languages or saving forests, for example. The main thing, to paraphrase Mr. Drucker, is to be motivated by a sense of importance about what you do.

Rosenburg, Jonathan (2008, July 15). Our Googley advice to students: Major in learning. The Official Google Blog, Retrieved 2008, August 12, from

Lest you feel the talk was just a matter of pointing out problems without offering suggestions for solving them, I must add the bullet points Pink worked from toward the end of his talk:

  • Experiment with new metrics (seek out ways to measure what is important, not just what is easy to measure)
  • Tear down walls (between academic disciplines)
  • Multi- (...task, ...disciplinary, ...cultural, ...everything)
  • Infuse Arts Education throughout all curricula
  • Get real about STEM (not routine, real--multi- and artistic)
  • Promote and defend autonomy (for innovation without catering to the past)
There's much more, of course, to Daniel Pink's talk, and I won't attempt to summarize it all here. Suffice it to say that A Whole New Mind is on my reading list. I hope you add it to yours.

Cheers from Nashville, with thanks to the administration at Ensworth School for having the foresight to assign this text to their teachers. What remains to be done by the teachers will bear watching: Pink spent some time exhorting them to experiment, citing the independent school's unique position out of the constraints of public education bureaucratic policies as key to their potential for change. I'm not sure that particular school is one that will be leading it, for a number of reasons. I'm not even sure my own independent school, a school with a very different history and philosophy of multiculturality and inclusion, is ready to embrace change on the scale Pink encourages.

Whomever leads it, change must come. Comments?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Daniel Pink to speak at Ensworth HS

If you're local here in Nashville, I'd highly suggest checking out Daniel Pink tomorrow at Ensworth High School. He's speaking at the private HS as the keynote for their 2008-9 school year inservice, and teachers from other schools are invited.

9:30 am in Frist Hall on the Red Gables Campus at 211 Ensworth Avenue in Nashville. See you there!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Understand the Shift in 21st Century Learning?

Twitter friend Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach dropped a url to her tweets just a few minutes ago, and I took it as a sign that I needed a break from my repetitive data entry for our school's new SIS database and went to view her blogpost at 21st Century Learning. Yes, YouTube has valuable video, and her observations about this one's relationship to the profound changes we're going through as teachers and learners are, as the Brits say, "spot-on."

Any teacher can tell you that when teaching something is the best way to master knowledge about it and the requisite skills involved in its application. Sheryl shares out three impressive exhibits to support her closing charge:

Let's quit talking about it and roll up our sleeves and change our classrooms and schools into meaningful learning nodes in our students' network of learning choices.

Whatever you're doing, take your own break and go watch, listen, and reflect...

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Way It Works

Tonight I sat down to dinner with my lovely family, all four of us; and that is not unusual. We intentionally do so, have always done so, much more often, at dinnertime, than not. My wife had found a fine shrimp recipe in Bobby Flay's grilling cookbook, and had, as usual, cooked dinner to perfection. On a bed of viniagrette-embued fresh spinach, stove-topped grilled slices of zuccini lay topped with little cubes of the fresh tomatoes we bought last weekend at the Nashville Farmers Market. We chatted, joked, and ate, sharing about our day and at the end of the meal Lee Ann looked at me and asked, "Should we give it to her?" and I said "Yes."

The beautiful quilt, laid out lovingly by my wife and her much loved sister, crafted by a family friend from gorgeous pink material interspersed with memorable tee-shirt images and slogans from our girl's 18 years, she'll take to college in a couple weeks. One of my favorite images on the quilt is her, Miranda, running gleefully in the surf with sand shovel upraised, ready to build. She is four in the picture. She is mine, as she'll always be, at least in that picture.

I tied on my walking shoes and fetched the leash from its kitchen drawer, rattling its chain, driving our big black herding dog to distraction with anticipation. Grabbed a CAO Italia and a lighter, cut it and lit it on the back porch, and strolled.

It's hot in Nashville (the Firefox weather plug-in tells me it's 91, and that at 8:00 pm). We're supposed to get a break in the heat tonight, but I'll believe that when I feel it. Still, we walked 'way down our long street and back up it, MacGuyver stopping to sniff (so many scents, so little time!) and me looking and listening. I watched bats flitting for flying insects up above me, heard someone starting his drum practice in the distance, heard cicadas and cardinals and air conditioning units working overtime; and as the storm clouds flowed slowly in overhead, pinking and graying as we walked and the fingernail moon resolved itself into brightness, I realized how completely blessed I am.

Now, as my three other loved ones are digging in for an episode of Project Runway upstairs, I am finishing my sharing for the day. Tomorrow I'll dig in myself, into plans for the school year, into work for our new little hippy/hightech corporation, into blogging and podcasting, and maybe I'll even make a little music. Whatever I do, I'll be bringing the memory and the sensations of tonight into it. That's the way it works.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Epic 2015

David Warlick and Kevin Jarrett put together what must've been a stellar experience for "mostly ed administrators" built around a 2005 video from the Museum of Media History. I saw this video at an Ian Jukes presentation a couple years ago at a NECC, I believe in San Diego, and lost its location. It's so thought provoking, as is David's blogpost here, as well as Kevin's collection of them here, that I just have to share it all out. To get you into your weekend, or whatever day it is (thanks to the asynchronous magic of blogs:), give it a watch. What do you think?

Epic2015 from AlbinoBlackSheep

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