Wednesday, December 24, 2008

100 things

This list has been floating around the blogs of late. One of those 100 things to do before you die kind of thing. My wife thinks the whole concept of the things to do is morbid. With this list you are to bold the things you have done. So here goes

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars

3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo--not in front of a group. Does a shower count?
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelos David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Guide Biscuits
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a cheque
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Read an entire book in one day

Many of the travel ones I may never do.

But not bad

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A word, A tree, A ramble

Last night at about 2:30 as I lie awake, listening to my wife alternately snoring and coughing, the neighbor warming up his car with the radio on, the cats pa-dumping about the house, I thought of a wonderful essay with great logical arguments and it was quite funny. Somehow when I got out of bed, the arguments were not so logical, in fact there were many holes, and I am not as witty awake I guess.

Around this time of year, I hear people talking about how they are offended that the “PC” people don’t “let” them say Merry Christmas any more. If you want to, go ahead and say it. Knock yourself out. I think they want to find something to rail against. Sort of reminds me of the Offensensitivity cartoon from Bloom County.

This comes from all parts of the political spectrum, wanting to change the meaning of some words to their advantage; think 1984 with newspeak. I remember years ago, when living in the Charlestown section of Boston, a kid yelled “Liberal” at me. I sort of looked at him and said, “Yeah, what is your point?” I guess now that word have been used a derisive term by the right, that it has become somewhat of an insult.

People have taken over parts of the language for their own use, if you get the correct words, and stake them out yours, it is difficult to make a counter argument, think of the anti-abortion and pro-choice crowd, who wants to be known as pro-abortion or anti-choice?

How sensitive do you need to be toward people when referring to their ethnic group? Is there a reason to discuss ethnic groups? If you feel you must, how about using a term that would not get you beat up by members of the group? You know how violent we flat-headed Norskis get.

What got me going on this topic? I was on the forum pages of the Rochester, NY newspaper, the other day, and a guy posted some Christmas tree pictures and wrote words to the effect that ‘these are Christmas trees not holiday trees!’

Call it what you want. When I have a tree up, I usually refer to it as “the tree” It is normally the only tree in the house, so no further reference is needed. (By the way, I don’t think of a ficus as a tree, it is a leaf-dropping thing) When driving around town at this time of year, I point out trees to my wife, I think it is implied as to what type of tree we are talking about.

I think people consider what words they use to be the best choice, or they would not use these words. Perhaps, to coin a phrase, instead of “Politically Correct Speech” they are using “My Correct Speech”. And their choices are the correct ones.

Think about regional speech for a while. If you have lived in other areas than where you live now, you would understand. Around here a Hot dog is a Hot, either red or white, around the country you could also have a frank and other things. Worse example of this was soon after I moved to Boston and ordered a milkshake. I did not know what the rest of the world calls a milkshake was a frappe in Boston. “Wanna Coke?” ” Sure, what kind?” “ Sprite?”. My grandmother was confused when we asked her to buy us soda once. She went out and got baking soda.

Just call things what you want to call things and don’t sweat it.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Two quick links and that is it

Just a couple of quick links today. Picked these up at NYSCATE from the SmartBoard for Apple guy. These work well with SmartBoards, or I guess I should say any interactive white board system.

One good time waster is Befuddlr. It will take images and make picture puzzles out of them. Don’t know if it works on an iPhone, but would be good stuck at the airport gizmo.

The second is an Browser extention called CoolIrus. It allows you to take photo galleries and view as 3D type interface. I can’t explain it well but have a look. You can also search websites using it.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Filtering the students

On the Blog Dangerously Irrelevant, Scott McLeod writes about web filtering in schools. There has been much discussion on this topic for many years. Hearing Nancy Willard of the Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use, speak about the topic at NECC '07 helped me form my opinions. How much filtering do we need in schools? I think minimal, and even that it is often times too much. Wes Fryer asked last February about differentiated filtering. Which is a good idea, I guess.
I really don't like any filtering. No different from any other book banning of editing out pages of an encyclopedia. The big problem is classroom management and having firm assignments for the students when they are on-line. The teacher needs to be aware of what is going on in the class and have an idea of appropriateness.
The Internet is a tool, and with any tool we need to show how to use it. I still monitor my teenagers when they are using my power tools, and monitor where they are on-line.
As with any other inappropriate classroom behavior, Internet use must be monitored.
I hear from other teachers on how tools such as skype, plurk and twitter are blocked by their school networks. Why? Bandwidth argument I can see with skype, but otherwise why? In schools we must pay attention to the fact that the network is there for education and access. So don't block useful tools.