Is that all there is?

My wife spent some time last week cleaning out our garage. She identified a number of boxes of stuff that were “mine.” She asked me to look at them and decide what I still wanted to keep and what we could discard. I did.

Some of the stuff was books I’d saved from when I was an elementary schoolteacher and later an elementary school principal. Some of it came from jobs I had later, including memorabilia from my years at Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network and TICAL, at Santa Cruz County Office of Education. There were copies of articles I’d had published in various educational journals. There were copies of contracts with organizations as varied as SRI International and the Federal Communications Commission. All of it was from the past.

What do you do with stuff like this at 70 years of age? Unless you are so important or famous that the world might care—and someone, hopefully your heirs, might profit from having access to it—you dump it in the trash. Save your kids from having to deal with it when you’re gone. Not being important or famous, and not wanting anyone to have to deal with this stuff in my absence, that’s what I did. Into the dumpster it went.

That said, it was not much fun. It made me think of the song, “Is that all there is?” Forgive me if I break out the booze.


No slam!

According to The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, “For the ninth consecutive year, Americans say ‘whatever’ is the most annoying word or phrase used in casual conversation.”

I say, “Add “slam” to the list—especially when it is journalists using the word, as in


If you love the English language, and believe there is a relationship between the clarity of what we say and what we think, check out Jason Kehe’s article from a 2009 Daily Trojan.



via 12/18: “Whatever” Loses Ground but Retains Annoying Word Title |ome of the Marist Poll

How would George Mason make America great again? | SmartBrief

We often praise the Patrick Henrys of the world, the folks who explain their nonparticipation in particular change efforts as a principled stance. But perhaps George Mason is the better example both for our national politicians and for leaders in every company and organization in America today. Whether it is economic reform at the highest levels or new policies on leave or telework for your company, by being in the room, you can shape the debate even if you do not ultimately agree with the outcome.

Source: How would George Mason make America great again? | SmartBrief

Situating Makerspaces in Schools

Makerspaces don’t fit our traditional expectations of school, but here they come. The emergence of makerspaces in schools is in part due to the fact that they have been riding the wave of popular momentum behind STEAM. But this partnership between STEAM programs and makerspaces is limiting. The ecologies of STEAM and the ecologies of making overlap — but they are not the same thing. STEAM is about blurring the lines between disciplinary content; making in schools is about a learner-directed, hands-on approach to learning and knowing.

A very nice piece worth your time. I couldn’t have said it better myself.  In fact, I couldn’t have said it as well!

Source: Situating Makerspaces in Schools

Here today, gone tomorrow – Take 2

Today, I realized another of my trusted tools has bitten the dust. I have used Outlook for many years. My life is there: calendar, contacts, tasks, email, and yes, even Journal. In Journal, I have recorded notes from umpteen meetings, logged phone calls, etc. etc. for both personal and private purposes. I love having everything in one place, searchable, on my own damn hard drive.

A couple weeks ago, I bought a new laptop. I ordered it with Microsoft Office 2013 Professional pre-installed.  Heck, why not upgrade while I’m going through the angst of setting up a new computer with all my old files and programs?  Stupid me.  I did no research ahead of time. Dumb.

Today I went to add an item to my Outlook Journal and guess what.  No Journal in the menu.  A little googling (not binging) yielded the information that Microsoft “removed” Journal from 2013.  Good God. What a perfect example of how we become dependent on tech tools (this one I even pay for, it ain’t free) and then they just go away.

Fortunately, Journal is still there hidden in the background; I found this piece that helped me get access.  Obviously I should have made an effort to see how Office 2013 was different from my previous version, but geeze.

And this is not special to Microsoft. Google does it all the time.  Living in the tech age is absolutely an example of caveat emptor.

Outlook 2013’s Journal: What works, what doesn’t work, and how to make Outlook’s Journal usable in Outlook 2013.

Source: Making the Journal work in Outlook 2013

Rethinking Time

For most of us, there’s never enough time.  Despite what some fans of technology assert, technology does not increase the amount of time at our disposal.  It may free up time by helping us accomplish some mundane task faster, or eliminating the need to do it. Yet at the same time, each advance in technology also opens up all kinds of fascinating new options that compete for our attention and our time.

In fact, an argument might be made that because of its ability to offer options, technology uses up any time it frees up because we now spend more time considering options before we can take action.  Besides analysis paralysis, I often find myself striken with “technological paralysis”—too many options, plus I know whichever one I might eventually choose will be obsolete and old news in no time, so why bother?  Just skip it.

Today, I found this video by Jennifer Aaker, a professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business.  It was refreshing.  I especially like the contrast between multitasking and feeling fragmented versus her concept of multiplying which leads to a sense of wholeness and being present.  Her description of “multipliers”—activities that accomplish several goals at once—reminds me of what Charlotte Crabtree, one of my favorite UCLA professors, referred to as “powerful” lessons or teaching units.  She defined these as ones that accomplished multiple curricular goals or taught several different skills all the same time. I’ve held onto that concept and used it throughout my career, not just in teaching.

The eyes don’t have it.

Making eye contact is an important part of communication, but it’s not easy to do when you are video conferencing.  I’ve been playing around with Google Hangouts recently, meeting with just one other person, and it’s very strange not being able to look at each other directly.  I’ve experienced this odd sensation before in group video calls, but it seems somehow weirder when it’s just two of us.

I can look at my colleague’s face on my screen but she’s not looking at me; she’s looking at her monitor. The only way I can look at her is to look directly into the camera, which sits atop my monitor, but then that’s not looking at her at all, though it may appear so on her end.

What we need, of course, is a camera that is literally embedded invisibly in the screen.  Apple filed a patent for such a thing in 2009 but I don’t know where that stands.  I figure that if it worked, we’d know about it by now.  Seems like a great challenge to post on In the meantime, considering all the wrinkles, it might be better to skip the face-time altogether and just share a document or two!

A little disappointed

I watched President Obama speak tonight and I was a little disappointed. I support him. I have voted for him twice, but tonight I wish he’d spoken differently. My wife said she thinks he looked tired; no doubt he was. Maybe my issue is with whoever wrote his comments. Maybe he didn’t have time to read and think about them before facing the cameras. Maybe I’m just off base and need to reconsider, but here are thoughts that went through my head as I listened:

  • His tone was so matter-of-fact.  I know this was a press conference, not a political rally, but I’ve heard him deliver such impassioned speeches.  I’d have liked a bit more emotion in his voice.
  • His remarks implied the suspect is guilty, period; not even guilty until proven innocent, let alone innocent until proven guilty.  That jarred me.

…why did young men who grew up and studied here, as part of our communities and our country, resort to such violence?  How did they plan and carry out these attacks, and did they receive any help?

  • I certainly hope we don’t find out later that these two brothers were not, in fact, to blame.  I hope that is unlikely, but it will be embarrassing should it happen.
  • The President said we’ve closed a “chapter.”  Have we?   I guess it depends on how you think of chapters.  It’s a metaphor that didn’t work for me.  Many of the books I read today have quite a high chapters-to-total pages ratio.  Perhaps that’s a reflection of our ever shortening attention span.  My reaction was that we’ve barely started a chapter.  Those survivors in the hospital, many having lost one or more limbs, are but a few pages into their current chapter.   If the chapter title is simply, “Arrest,” then I guess we have a chapter; if so, I suspect we have at least a trilogy, not simply a single book, ahead of us.

I’m often too critical, and this may be one of those times.  If you did not see the press conference, take a look.  Am I way off base?

He who tooteth

Today I received two emails, each sent to a listserv to which I belong, and each of which offered me the chance to toot my own horn.  One encouraged me to nominate myself for a position on the organization’s board of directors.  The other offered the opportunity to nominate myself for an award.

I recalled immediately a famous statement, “He who does not toot his own horn, his horn shall go untooteth.”

Well, dumb though it may be, I’m not tooting.  If someone wants to nominate me to serve on a board or be recognized for some accomplishment, sweet.  But I’m not about to nominate myself.  In fact, been there, done that.