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Most of you know I am a computer geek to the core.  If I don’t have an iPhone, iPad, or my much abused MacBook Air with me…I’m probably having convulsions.  Living on the dawn of the “digital citizenship” (something that was said tonight) has been a wonderful thing for me personally and professionally.

Tonight, I took a little trip to our school board meeting after band practice (more on that later….the whole band thing is really turning out well).  Tonight’s discussion revolved around the mundane (the interviewing process for a coach) to the discussion around moving to a “digital curriculum” with the iPad as the central device in this process.

HCCSC is currently in the process of deciding to move to a digital textbook/learning environment.  This will (as currently proposed) give an iPad to every student grades 6-12 this year, and then every student (including Kindergarten) next year.  Instead of textbook fees, parents would be charged $100 per year for access to the iPad.  The schools are purchasing these devices and will then maintain and monitor them closely.

And this is where things get weird….bad…..awful…..etc.

The idea being proposed is students will use the iPad as their primary learning device, as opposed to textbooks.  This is a good thing overall (no more dead trees, incredibly large books carrying dead knowledge, etc).  However, the plan is to let teachers determine curriculum choices based on their own choices and guidelines.  This isn’t a bad thing either…but this is being implemented….now.  As in ordering/setting up/testing/deploying by August 15th.  Mind you, nothing has been ordered or even approved yet.  So now, instead of having a textbook/lesson plan figured out….teachers will need to wing it.  Not an impossible hurdle…unless of course you are terrified of the iPad which many of the teachers are.

So what about deploying the iPad to every student?  Each student will get their own iPad which they will be responsible to keep safe, charge every night, and ensure they take to school each morning.  For this year, it will be limited to middle and high school students….but next year each Kindergartener will have their very own shiny new iPad to cart around.  Every day.  This seems safe.

OK…so we get past the “teachers scared/kindergarteners using as kleenex” phases.  While these are not impossible hurdles…we now get to distribution and management.  2,000 brand new wireless clients on a school IT infrastructure that can’t/won’t stop https.  Where they can get on personal ads for Craigslist.  Or Facebook.  Or anything else on the planet.  But lets say this goes well and the handoff goes smashingly.  What about the back-half of the network piece. You know, where students will get their learning experience…otherwise known as “The Internet”.  Now that your primary work is taking place offsite…..do you have the network to back it up?  Wait…we’re still debating?  Again, August 15th looms….

But lets say you get the budget, the staff, the distribution, the network up to snuff by August 15th…..

What happens when all of that doesn’t work?

If the Internet goes down, your students are offline.  If they unleash an iOS virus, your students are offline.  If a nasty head cold works its way through the Kindergarten, your students are offline.  If….if….if.

There’s a way to get kids to be “digital citizens”.  This isn’t the way to do it.

Standing Desk: Week One

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It’s not elegant, but it’s cheap and damn effective.

So why did I do this? Well I have always wanted something like this, but was too lazy to do something about it. Then there were a myriad of articles this last week about the health problems associated with sitting. And since I’ve started wearing my BodyMedia FIT band, I could see the hours per day where my metabolism crashed within a minute of me sitting down.

So I decided it was time for me to actually do something. And I have found that I am getting more “done” especially when it comes to multitasking. I still use my chair on occasion, but I think leaving the desk in the “standing” configuration works better overall.

More on this when I get to “Month One” on this whole thing.

Local Politics

So I’m taking the first steps into the local political pool, attending my friend Tony Hiles’ first political meeting (he’s running for mayor on the Democratic ticket). Local politics is always a funny thing, and it’s usually dominated by “life-long” residents who have various connections within the community.

I have none of those.

Huntington has been my home for the past 15 years (yeah, 15 so far….) and I am still stymied by what happens in this town. It’s in the center of a couple of major crossroads, but always seems to get passed by on the map. If it’s poor planning, poor location, poor anything….well, not too many people have figured out the exact formula for how to fix the problems in Huntington.

Unfortunately we are looking at an active political year. The current mayor had a well publicized meltdown (broadcast on the local news) and a myriad of lost jobs and sinking budgets have thrown enough political chum in the water to draw everyone into the fray.

Nw, the funny thing about this roll is the amount of money that goes into these local races. The local sheriff race last year had a candidate spend well over $50k of what was their own personal money into a winning campaign. Why someone would spend that much money is beyond my reasoning. Maybe there is a lifelong dream involved, but politics don’t usually keep dreamers in roles like this for very long.

So, the cynic in me wants to know more about how our tax dollars are spent. Because the billboards, the full color pictures, the myriad of placards and stickers and t-shirts make me ask….where is this money coming from? And as these people invest tens of thousands of dollars…what return are they hoping for?

Which brings me here. Maybe I will know more in the next few weeks.

Moving On

With the demise of Derek’s MT, I’ve moved everything over to this WordPress site. Here’s to an entertaining 2011.

Six Months

Six months ago I was driving down to Indy, getting ready to hop on a table so the doc could have some fun with my innards.
Six months ago I sat outside the operating room as they were getting ready, really wondering “what the hell was I thinking” and “I could just get up right now and walk out the door…”
Six months ago I woke up after surgery with the worst pain of my life and a post-op nurse telling me it will be ok (and in the kindest way to STFU). 🙂
Six months ago….where are we now?
Lost 120 lbs since surgery (188 since I started in 2008)
Lost 16″ of waist
Down from a 5XL to a XL shirt
The first six months are supposed to be the easiest to lose weight. And so far they are right. I am back to where I would consider “normal” as far as my lifestyle is concerned. There is still no “pop/soda/whatever you call it” in the Woogie diet. And while there are a few things back that shouldn’t be, there are many more things that will not come back for a long long time (hopefully).
I held on to two articles of clothing from those times (just like what you see in the commercials). When I reach my goal weight (and the revised goal weight afterwards) we will look to see where I was.
For comparison sake….a couple of pics from pre and post surgery.
Before
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After
after.jpg
BEAR DOWN CHICAGO BEARS!
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Catharsis

catharsis |kəˈθärsis|
noun
1 the process of releasing, and thereby providing relief from, strong or repressed emotions.
I know some people don’t like to hear about my weight loss and the other crap that goes on with my life. So I try to keep those pieces to a minimum on the social networks and other things. But today was one of those weird/special/unique moments that make you say “Hmm, maybe this was all worth it…”
To start with, I did my fastest walking mile EVER. 15:27.7. Not sure what caused it, but I was blazing past everyone; the seniors, the gym rats…pretty much everyone out there. Ended up doing my cool down lap backwards. 🙂
Next was the scale. I’ll put the number up here so you get an idea of where I’ve been. Today was 324.4. In January 2008 that number was 474.4. Down 150 pounds from two years, ten months ago. Of course that includes a failed attempt to get a lap band, the idea that I could do this on my own, and then realizing (in my best Fred Sanford voice) “you big dummy…you can’t do this on your own…”.
Third was the large bundle of clothes in the back of my truck. I ended up dumping a large laundry basket of very large clothes. Now don’t get me wrong, I still have to shop in the “Large & Tubby” section and may have to the rest of my life. But I don’t have to buy everything from a certain store anymore. I don’t have to pay an obnoxious amount of money for a pair of jeans.
Now I know about three months ago I was really starting to regret this. The second day after surgery was really f’ing tough. Some people who have had then gas crap I had post surgery said it was “worse than labor”. But today, now that I have lost 82 lbs since surgery, 150 since I started this mess, and a ton of clothes out the door….it’s starting to look like it was worth it.

Nathan is on what is “officially” the worst team in his age group. They won one game during the entire regular season. They had a hard time pitching, catching, hitting…pretty much everything across the board. But as the season went on, the bats started hitting. The fielding got much better. And they honestly became a better TEAM.
So, double elimination playoffs begin. Being the worst team, they got the tough draw. They played their hearts out on Tuesday and beat Rotary. It was a tough game, but they won it fairly. Kids were excited to go up against Fredericks (the “best team in the league”).
After the game was rained out on Thursday, we met Friday up in Roanoke. Game started off slow, and after a few errors and good hitting on Fredericks part, we were down 10-6. But these kids fought back. Nathan’s team got some timely hitting and a few walks to pull ahead 12-10.
That’s when the fun begins….this is the team where the coach chewed out the entire group of seven and eight year olds LOUDLY for watching the ball while they ran to base, or looked at their mom in the stands.
Our last kid gets up to pitch and he gets a quick out. Two more to go. Then one kid on the bench starts saying “Pitcher look at me, I’m a monkey in a tree”. That throws him and the entire team jumps in. This goes one for four batters and over five minutes. Finally our kid was in tears as these kids ripped into him while 20 parents and three coaches stood by and LET IT HAPPEN. Our kid tried to pitch through but eventually the last run was walked in and we lost 13-12.
I had a chat with the board member who was at the game and he said there’s nothing wrong with it. The coaches on Fredericks seemed fine with it “A win is a win”.
And in the end, the parents, coaches, and kids won the game because they got into a eight years olds head and made him cry.

So I haven’t blogged since….eww….September…. I guess that’s what happens with Social Media taking over my day to day life. 🙂
Now that we’re well into 2010 (and awaiting the Doom of 2012, which will eventually pass to the Doom of 2017, 2029, 2134…you get the idea), what should I do with this space? I think it’s worthwhile keeping this rolling, but not as a personal site. More of a semi-professional griping space about movements in the world.
Or should I just fill up the space with pics of my kids?


I’m paying for those beers I had last night. Woke up at seven again and couldn’t go back to sleep. Having breakfast at the grill while trying to blog away. Signed up for Internet access to see what was going on at $0.37/minute. House hasn’t burned down and the kids aren’t minions of Satan, so life at home looks better than normal.
Played for a bit in the casino. Broke my cardinal rule of keeping my winning away and lost $20 playing blackjack. Need to go down when it’s a bit busier. Tonight is the formal night so I’ll upload pictures of us in all of our splendor later tonight.
Not much to do on the ship right now. Spent part of the afternoon on the balcony enjoying the view. More tomorrow.
— Post From My iPhone

Got up much earlier than expected today. DeAnn and I were ready to go at 7 surprisingly and saw people were getting off the boat quickly and off to Barbados we went.
The tour guides say that Barbados has a flavor of Britain in it since it was under Beitish Rule until 1966. And they are right, if you are just looking at the way the people drive and discussions of cricket matches on the radio. Other than that, it’s a small Caribbean island with the same trinket shops mixed in between massive wealth and abject poverty.
Flipped for the (exceptionally expensive but not unexpected) $60 cab ride to the airport to catch the “Concorde Experience” which has a parked Concorde for your viewing pleasure. Learned more about Barbados as our driver took us on his errand run through the island. After winding through the streets which mirror any Caribbean island, we travelled through the sugar cane and sweet potato fields to get to the airport and today’s
— Post From My iPhone