Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Thanks for Mentioning Me!

It's a nice feeling to know that your work makes a difference. I ran across two posts, both from people I never met.

In Living La Vida Normal, the author talks about books that she has read. She and her husband are reading Get Organized! by section.

On the LeaderTalk blog, Jan Borelli asked for suggestions for a list of "must read" books for principals and aspiring principals. Charlie Roy included me in his list of five authors. The most humbling thing was the other people he included in the list:

  • Malcolm Gladwell: Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers
  • Jim Collins: Good to Great
  • Frank Buck: Get Organized- Time Management for School Leaders
  • David Allen: Getting Things Done
  • Dan Pink: Whole New Mind

I certainly would not pretend that my name belongs in the same sentence with the other four, but it certainly is great to know that what I do is seen as needed.

Ironically, Jan Borelli was one of the reviewers of my book. Her comments on the book as it was being written and the supportive things she has said and done afterwards are greatly appreciated. I subscribe to Dr. Jan's Blog. Probably my favorite post is one that she posted almost exactly one year ago. To read the way that post spoke to me, and to read Jan's post, click here.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas Memories

The days leading up to Christmas vacation are always exciting times in an elementary school. During those last three days I had the opportunity to participate in musical events at two of our elementary schools.

Fancy restaurants often feature live musicians to entertain their important customers during the Christmas season. Figuring that the lunchroom at C. L. Salter Elementary qualifies as a fancy restaurant and that the students are important customers, I teamed up with reading coach Allison Gray to entertain the students during lunch. Starting when the kindergartens came in and continuing through the lunch wave, I played flute and Allison played keyboard on a steady stream of Christmas carols. I wish I had a picture or two to post, and who knows, someone may send me some.



On our last day, I was invited to be a part of the Annual Sing-A-Along at Raymond L. Young Elementary School. The musical quality that is present in that school despite the fact there is no music teacher on staff is really quite impressive and speaks volumes for the faculty and leadership there. I was absolutely blown away by Carolyn, a first grader who sang "Silent Night" while I accompanied her on flute. Her beautiful voice, complete with vibrato, and keen sense of pitch serve as reminders of what children can do when their talents are nurtured. More pictures from that program can be found here.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Of Givers and Takers

After reading the post entitled "Keeping the Fire Alive," Dave Sherman added this comment:

...I have come to a crossroads in my own blogging. I am transitioning from a school district owned blog to my own personal blog so that I can write about more than just school related topics. I am struggling a little with this because does anyone really care about my interests away from education, and should that matter to me? Do we blog for ourselves or for others?...
- Dave

Dave's question is a pretty significant one...do we blog for ourselves or for others? I just hope my answer remotely approaches being as good as the question.

We blog for ourselves
For centuries, people have kept diaries in which they have recorded their private thoughts, thoughts for their eyes only. There seems to be something about the act of writing our thoughts on paper that clarifies those thoughts in our own minds. If I am forced to write it in such a way that it would be understandable to someone else, even if that never happens, then I am forced to make it understandable to me.

There is also a permanence about putting those thoughts to paper. They never change. We can revisit them, and in essence, step back in time for a brief moment. Later, if we choose to share those thoughts, the diary's many entries paints a portrait of who we are and who we hoped to become.

Today's blogs afford us that same opportunity with the added benefit of access from anywhere, ability to add media, and no chance of dropping it in a mud puddle leaving it on the counter at the grocery store checkout.

We blog for others
By nature, we are interdependent creatures. Our society has reached its present level of advancement not because we are smarter or more resourceful than our forefathers. Instead, we are able to begin where they left off and lay the next layer on the foundation they have built. We have been the ultimate takers reaping the benefits of their work.

On a personal level, any of us who have experienced success in the various arenas of our lives can surely point to someone else who made the road easier. Someone saw in us potential worth nurturing and went out of their way, doing what they did not have to do, to help spin straw into gold. We took very freely from their wisdom.

If balance is to be maintained, we must move beyond being takers and also be givers. We all have something to share, something to give back, and someone somewhere who has a need which matches perfectly with our gift. Our blogs offer an easy way for us to become givers.

Does anybody really care?
Perhaps the toughest part of blogging is knowing whether or not what we do makes an impact on anyone else. Of course, the same could be said of other venues. I am reminded of a workshop conducted years ago for a group of teachers, none of whom I knew at the time on a personal level. Nine years later when one of them became a close friend I was told, "You changed my life" through that workshop. The feedback makes all the difference, and it is that element that tends to be missing.

We must write as if what we say does matter, because that's the only way that it will matter to us or anyone else. At the very worst, our blogs provide for us an outlet for our own creative juices. At the very best, they just might be changing lives, even in subtle ways, for people we may never meet. And in that delicate balance between being givers and takers, we may see ourselves begin to hold up our end.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Keeping the Fire Alive

This blog began on August 30, 2004. The primary reason for starting the it was to serve as a follow-up for people who attend my workshops. More than 4 years and over 300 posts later, that primary focus remains unchanged. At the same time, I realize there are many who visit who has never met me, yet are enjoying what they are finding.

Starting a blog is easy. Keeping it up, for many people, is the tough part. The newness wears off. We get busy. We run out of things to say. Pretty soon, the blog has gone the way of most of our New Years resolutions.

What has kept this blog going at a fairly regular pace for over four years? What has kept it fresh and fun to write? In this post, I am going to share what has made a difference for me in hopes that it will help other bloggers.

Compose posts now. Post them in the future.
The post you are ready today was not composed today. I wrote it on December 14, the day the thought occurred to me. Blogger allows me to schedule a date for the post to appear. I can write the post when the thought is hot, schedule a date, and let Blogger handle the rest.

Lately, a new post has been appearing roughly every other day. It's not that I have been writing at that interval. Sometimes I will write three or four posts in a single day. Sometimes I will go a week without writing anything. We all get busy and at other times, we all have "down time." I use some of that down time to compose material that will automatically appear during the busier times.

Starting soon, you will see a series of posts on using Excel. The posts on that topic will appear one per week extending into February. I composed the whole set at one sitting and simply scheduled them so that they will be spread out over almost two months. Another evening, I stumbled upon quite a few motivational videos on YouTube. I composed posts on the whole set that evening and have been sharing those periodically.

Remind yourself to post.
Anyone who knows me well knows how important my "Repeating Task List" is to me. I wish I had a nickel for every time I hear someone say, "I do it when I think about it." The same holds true for me. The only difference is that I set up a system that causes me to think about it when I need to be thinking about it.

I have a repeating task in Outlook and my BlackBerry to compose a post to this blog as well as the two blogs for my school system (TeachTalladega.blogspot.com and TalladegaCitySchools.blogspot.com). Once a week, a task stares me in the face reminding me to post. Usually, I can simply check it off the task because I have already posted something in just the last few days. If not, that little reminder ensures that posting to those blogs never drops off the map.

Read.
Material does not have to come exclusively out of our heads. Responding to the thoughts of others and putting a different twist on those thoughts makes for interesting material. We can also take current topics and combine the viewpoints from different sources into something that is fresh and interesting.

Take notes on the fly.
Good ideas occur at unlikely times. They come to us in the middle of meetings, sitting at a traffic light, during conversations, and reading the works of others, just to name a few. My BlackBerry is never more than an arm's length from me. A memo pad (that also holds my drivers license and credit cards) is always in my shirt pocket. I realized back in high school that good ideas, like opportunity, sometimes knock only once. Getting it from the brain to paper (or in recent years, digitized) is one of the best habits I ever acquired.

Make it matter to you.
I enjoy going back and reading my own blog. I hope that does not come across as egotistical. If I don't enjoy it, I shouldn't think that you will enjoy it. What I write has to matter to me, and if it matters to me, maybe it will somehow touch you as well.

Comments matter.
For those who comment from time to time, thanks! From my end, I can never be sure what resonates with others or where I need to go into more detail. Your comments help steer the ship. They also remind me that my time putting this blog together does make a difference.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

Lessons from the Grinch



One of my Christmas favorites is "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." Is it just me, or have some others have picked up on a particular message.

The turning point, of course, is the point where "the Grinch's heart grew three sizes." Thinking back to the story line, what was it that caused the Grinch's change of heart?

The "Whos" were gathered in a circle singing. The Grinch had taken all of the material symbols of Christmas, but he could not take from them the gift of music, and it was music that sustained them. It was when the Grinch heard the joyful sounds of the voices that he began to change.

Examples of the importance of music are all around us. As a people, we always incorporate music into those events associated with our greatest times of joy as well as our times of sadness. It is a language which speaks to all.

Why talk about this subject in a blog devoted to time management? Two reasons. First of all, as we use organization and time management to held us accomplish more and accomplish it faster, what are we going to do with the time we have saved? For me, devoting more time to that particular area of my life is a goal.

Secondly, as Aristotle once said, "Since music has so much to do with the molding of character, it is necessary that we teach it to our children." As schools are grappling with the time crunch of how to "fit it all in," all too often music goes by the wayside despite mountains of research saying we should be doing just the opposite. There are places that find the time to include these kinds of experiences for their children, even without a music specialist on board. I had the pleasure to witness a program just the other day where this kind of culture is present, but that's another story for another day.

Great nations write their autobiographies in three manuscripts: the book of their deeds, the book of their words and the book of their art. Not one of these books can be understood unless we read the other two; but of the three, the only trustworthy one of them is the last.

-John Ruskin


Sunday, December 21, 2008

O Magnum Mysterium

This one is for you , Davonia!



On this Sunday before Christmas, here is a rendition of one of the season's more beautiful works performed by a truly spectacular group. Enjoy the Nordic Chamber Choir.

Latin text

O magnum mysterium,
et admirabile sacramentum,
ut animalia viderent Dominum natum,
jacentem in praesepio!
Beata Virgo, cujus viscera
meruerunt portare
Dominum Christum.
Alleluia.

English translation

O great mystery,
and wonderful sacrament,
that animals should see the new-born Lord,
lying in a manger!
Blessed is the Virgin whose womb
was worthy to bear
Christ the Lord.
Alleluia!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

What's in My Tickler File?

For those who have been to my workshops, the "tickler file" seems to be the tool that catches on universally. Today, I thought I would give you an idea what I kinds of things "pop up" on a Saturday morning in my tickler file. So, here they are:
  • Envelopes which contained the Christmas cards we received this week. After opening the cards which came each day, I threw the envelopes into Saturday's file. This morning, I took the whole set and marked them all off on the electronic Christmas card list as being received. Handling the job once per week takes far less total time that handling the job daily. Throwing them in Saturday's file allows them to collect so that I can handle the whole batch at once.
  • Application to present at next year's National Middle School Association Conference. The deadline for the longer all-day and half-day workshops is December 28. I figured today would be a good day to hash out the verbiage for the proposals.
  • Birthday card to a friend. The cards were bought last December along with the cards for everyone else on my list. Putting them in the tickler file for the date they need to go in the mail means I will never miss a birthday.
  • Gift cards. The gift cards we have received yet not completed used are together in today's file. My wife and I quickly look at them and decide which ones we might like to use during the next week. The rest get re-filed for next Saturday. Today, we were planning a shopping trip which would take us right past a Book-A-Million. I am getting my wife Steve Doocy's Tales from the Dad Side, so I pulled out the Book-A-Million gift card and put in the credit card wallet which I carry everywhere. (It's outfitted with my driver's license, two major credit cards, health insurance card, a few business cards, and a memo pad. Currency is in a money clip and I carry no wallet. I gave up sitting on that thing almost 10 years ago.)
  • A coupon for a free video. It expires at the end of the month. Today is a good time to drop by the video store and enjoy one "on the house."
  • Tutorial on Photo Story. I was planning to create a Photo Story this week now that school is out for the holidays. Throwing the tutorial in the Saturday folder serves as a reminder to refresh my skills before creating the project. If you are not familiar with this program, click here to see a Photo Story that my colleague and friend Pattie Thomas and I created for our system's District Accreditation a year ago.
  • Tutorial on Camtasia Studio. I still consider myself a novice at this very powerful program and wanted to make some improvements.
For me, the tickler file folder at home for any given Saturday tends to have more items than the other days. Since I have more discretionary time at home on Saturday, I like to use that as a place for similar items to "pile up." Bills to pay or the Christmas card envelopes serve as examples. Items I want to simply examine periodically, or for some other reason have no real date attached, are other good candidates for Saturday's folder.

For 30 years, tickler files have kept my desk clear of paper and have ensured that paperwork appears exactly when I need it.

Friday, December 19, 2008

And the Votes Are In...



One never knows what the day may bring. Today's mail contained an evaluation of the session I presented at the National Middle School Association Conference in Denver around six weeks ago. The numbers were good. I was especially pleased with the response to the question, "I would rate this presenter as excellent." On a scale of 1-5 (with fours being "Agree" and 5 being "Strongly Agree"), the score on that question was 4.81.

Here are the comments:

  • Great strategies and tools to move to a higher level of organization.
  • One of my professional goals is to be more organized and to manage time more effectively. This hit the target.
  • Good tools! I will implement it ASAP!
  • If would have been great if Dr. Buck would have been able to present only to teachers and students at another session. He is very resourceful. Great motivation @ the end of the presentation!
  • Really enjoyed session as well as the system. The trick will be to follow it until it becomes habit.
  • Excellent, helpful, useful, and practical information.
  • Thank you. These are tools I can and will use! WHEW!
  • Excellent presentation, shared some strategies that I will try to implement to help me be more organized. Frank was impressive and his help/expertise would benefit our entire staff. I will explore the possibility of securing his services for an inservice presentation at our school.
  • Practical.
  • Excellent session. I am already ready to get organized better as a principal.
  • Fantastic! Great info—can’t wait to try tickler.
  • Really enjoyed the learning experience.
  • Thank you—I needed this!
  • I think the presenter did a marvelous job. I plan to go back and implement the things he shared. Thanks!
  • Excellent presentation. Could be longer.
  • Good tips given.
  • One of the most informative sessions I have been to in 5 years.
  • Excellent!
  • FANTASTIC! One of the best I’ve been to! I could have stayed longer.
  • Excellent practical tools.


The presentation said nothing about reaching the adolescent learner, how to improve test scores, or how to build positive public relations. Some other presenters covered those bases well. Every one of those good ideas, if implemented, would happen through the dimension of time. Good ideas not implemented would likely be blamed on lack of time. When the conference was over and everyone stepped back into the day-to-day activities and confronted the e-mails, phone messages, and left-over tasks, an organized approach to managing our time becomes our only hope of rising above the mundane and touching excellence.


Davonia and I had a great time in Denver. I felt like we gave people something they could use in every area of their lives. After reading the evaluations, these feelings were confirmed. If you are reading this blog as a result of attending the session in Denver, thank you! Thank you for taking the time to attend the session and for taking the time to stop by here and dig a little deeper.


NMSA 2009 will be in Indianapolis and the application is in the tickler file to complete this Saturday. Hope to see you there!


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Improve Your Google Search With a "Time Line"

A typical Google search yields results for articles published yesterday or years ago. Sometimes the timeliness of the information is important. Perhaps you are looking for research on cancer, yet you are only interested in information published in the last year.

Google has a "timeline" feature which allows you to organize and filter your results chronologically. When you perform your Google search, enter your search term followed by view:timeline

For example, if you wanted to view articles related to "chocolate" using the timeline function, I would enter in the Google search window the following:

chocolate view:timeline

The link I have provided will take you to the results of that search. Filter the time period by clicking on the graph at the top of the page, and you see your results.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Gene Hackman on Basketball...and Life

From my favorite movie of all time. Listen to what Gene Hackman is saying. While he’s talking about basketball, his message is just as applicable regardless of the task at hand.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Google Reader

One of the great things about blogs is that it allows for two-way communication. Sometimes, the writer learns from the reader. Such is the case today.

A week ago, I composed this post on using Bloglines to keep up with the various blogs that are of interest. Dave Sherman commented that he uses Google Reader. He mentioned that it works well with iGoogle, and I swear by my iGoogle page. For more on how to set up an iGoogle page, click here. Dave really got my attention when he used one of my favorite words: "easier."

So, tonight I gave it a whirl. Installing Google Reader was as easy as going to my iGoogle page and clicking "Add Stuff." Google Reader is simply another gadget. Below is a short YouTube video which explains Google Reader.



I was even able to import my feeds that I had already established in Bloglines. So far, I like what I see. For those who have an iGoogle page, adding Google Reader and subscribing to your favorite blogs may just be the way to go. Thanks, Dave!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Leadership and Management

In the October 2008 issue of Principal Leadership (page 21), Doug Reeves addresses the topics of leadership and management:

Well, I think we have to be very careful about avoiding the false dichotomy between leadership and management. Whether you're talking about the leader of a large, complex school system or the leader in a classroom, all sorts of routines and protocols--plain old garden variety management--have a lot to do with allowing us to be successful and creative. I think that people see that there's a divergence between creativity and visionary leadership at one extreme and dull old management on the other.

My argument is, you don't get to do the creative and visionary work, whether you're a teacher or a superintendent, without having attended to the nuts and bolts of time management, people management, project management--getting the right things done in the right order at the right time.


Leadership and management, then, are not mutually exclusive. The second is a necessary element of the first. I have said many time that every good thing thing that we do for our schools, our familes, or communities, or ourselves is done through the dimension of time. Manage time well and the possibilities are unlimited. Manage time poorly and everything becomes more difficult.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Web Search Strategies in Plain English

The Common Craft Show provides a wealth of short, understandable videos related to technology. This one gives tips on searching the web and would be understandable from upper elementary school students and beyond.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Phishing Scams in Plain English

The Common Craft Show produces short, understandable videos on hot technology topics. This video explains phishing scams and how to avoid them.

Friday, December 05, 2008

44 Blogs in 5 Minutes

ImageChef.com - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more I just counted...44 blogs. That's right, 44 different blogs that are of enough interest to me that I want to read them regularly.

Our school district has two main blogs. Most of our schools have at least one active blog. Our junior high band has a blog. Today, I found that our junior high gifted program has its own blog. I like to follow the blogs of several principals in other parts of the state or other parts of the Unites States. In addition to education, I enjoy several of the blogs others are writing on personal productivity, organization, and time management.

Want to take a guess at how long it takes me to check all 44 of those blogs and read the new posts? I am afraid the title of this post has given me away.

That's right. Five minutes. How? Glad you asked. Bloglines. Bloglines allows you to "subscribe" to your favorite blogs. From there on, you simply go to one site, Bloglines. All of your "feeds" are listed down the left side. Any feed with new posts shows up in bold print. Click on the link and you are ready only the new posts.

Bloglines is free. For a tutorial on how to set up an account and get started, click here.

Bloglines is on example of an "RSS reader." RSS stands for "really simple syndication." To learn more about this concept, go here for a short video from the Common Craft Show.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Choose Your Friends

Enjoy the music and a timeless message about choosing the company we keep.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

What's On TV this Christmas Season?

ImageChef.com - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more If you are looking for your favorite Christmas-time television shows, there is no need to search. Here is a list in chronological order.



I borrowed this link from a post on the Raymond L. Young Elementary School blog. Of all of the principal blogs I have read, this one is particularly warm and keeps the focus on the kids.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Anything Worth Doing ...

...is worth doing well.

...is worth doing poorly.


Which way did you expect the sentence to end?
Which one is correct?
Could both be correct?


A quick internet search revealed that others have put a twist on the old adage, "Anything worth doing is worth doing well." Most notably, Zig Ziglar tells us, "Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly until you learn how to do it well."

This subject seems particularly on point when we talk about the use of technology in the classroom. I remember vividly how much technology was transforming the administrative aspects of my job twenty years ago. A spreadsheet served as my gradebook. A database kept track of all of the music in the band's library. Word processing software held all of the documents I was producing.

Since that time, technology has become cheaper, better, and more accessible. That being the case, many in the teaching profession speak of "not being able to turn on a computer." Others who may be able to handle some of the administrivia of the job on a computer hesitate to use technology in their teaching. I believe the root of the problem goes back to one simple thing: We must be willing to something poorly in order that later we will be able to do it well.

We get good at what we practice. When our tools consist of a piece of chalk and a chalkboard, we become good at conducting a lesson that way. Given a digital whiteboard or document camera, we would find ourselves fumbling. Why go through that? Why not stick with that which is comfortable?

In the short run, sticking with the familiar pays off. After all, learning something new takes time, and time is in short supply. "Someday," we will learn to use technology. Days turn into weeks. Weeks turn into months. We wake up one day and wonder where the last ten years have gone.

Technology is a time-saver when used well. Technology makes things easy. There is one caveat: We have to be willing to make mistakes as we learn. We have to be willing to deal with some frustration at first. We have to be willing to ask questions and get outside of our comfort zone. We have to be willing to do it poorly, at least at first.

Some people are not willing to go through the process of being bad on the way to being good. I fully realize that we could substitute any term from "ice skating," to "flyfishing" in place of "technology" and we would have a valid argument. Just about anything in life that is worth doing takes some degree of skill in order to do well, and skill comes with practice, and practice takes
time.

What is it in your life that is worth doing yet you have not devoted the time? Why have you continued to say "no" to devoting the time necessary to developing it? What else could you say "no" to in order to say "yes" to this area of your life? Maybe that area is using technology in the classroom. Maybe it is something else. Whatever it is, if it's worth doing, it's worth doing poorly...at least at first.


Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.
--Leonard Cohen



Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Just Say "No"

ImageChef.com - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more I recently presented a breakout session for the Alabama Staff Development Council Convention. As we talked about how to organize the task list to get the most done in the shortest amount of time, one participant asked, "Is it OK just to not do something?"

What a great question, and what an important question! The answer is not only "yes," it is OK to leave certain things undone, it is essential. Today's world presents unlimited choices and finite time. We could easily spend all day watching YouTube. One diversion blends into the next and all of them are "nice."

There is nothing wrong with a little diversion, but I think there are two important points to be made:
  • We must recognize when we are engaged in diversion
  • We must recognize that if important tasks are not being handled, minimizing what does not need to be done in the first place is a prime place to start recouping some time.

Take a good look at your to-do list. Is it longer than you would like? If the answer is "yes," start looking at what could simply be eliminated with no harm being done.

This sentiment was echoed by Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, in his keynote at this year's National Middle School Association national Conference. Collins advocated having a "stop doing" list.

Examining your to-do list will help in another way. When you realize the volume of what you have on your plate, you are less likely to take on trivia.

When we say "yes" to one thing we are by definition saying "no" to something else. In these busy times, let's make sure we are saying "yes" to the right things. Learning to say "no" to the others is a good place to start.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Ambiguity and Gratitude


As we approach another Thanksgiving, I invite you to listen to a story of the events that led up to that first celebration. The story is told by the Rev. Dr. John R. Claypool, IV. He makes the point that when confronted with life's ambiguities, we have two choices. One is to focus on the forces which oppose us. The other is to focus on the positive, to see the future as a friend, and embrace the concept of gratitude as a means for coping with those times when life works us over.

Dr. Claypool recounts the harshness of that first winter in the Plymouth, the several significant decisions that were made beginning shortly after the initial voyage and continuing through the first year of the colony's existence, and the impact on the rest of American history of the decisions to accept gratitude in the face of ambiguity .

You may listen to his message by clicking here. The complete text is found here.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I Love You. Now What?

The October issue of Fast Company included an article by Dan & Chip Heath entitled "I Love You. Now What?" They argue that while businesses have an efficient means of handling customer complaints, they are generally lousy when it comes to making it easy for customer compliments to get to the right people.

Examples the Heath brother cite include the compliment you have about the meal that will never make it back to the cook. The note you write about how much you appreciate the extra-deep automobile cup holder will never be read by the engineer who actually designed it. The article goes on to highlight the effects that expressing gratitude have on the giver, and that one point alone makes the article well worth reading. It can be found here.

The sentence that struck me most was, "What is your company doing to let gratitude blossom?" Perhaps an even more pointed question for each of us is, "What am I doing to let gratitude blossom?"

The article spotlighted an idea from American Airlines, pre-printed "Applause" cards given to frequent flyers who had reached "elite" status. The customer, provided he happened to be carrying the card with him, could write a quite note and hand it to any employee who had demonstrated a praise-worthy act.

The idea American Airlines idea is interesting, but do we really have to reach any particular status or be given a set number of special cards in order to do basically the same thing? Anywhere I go, I always have a few business cards with me. It takes only a few seconds to jot a note on the back of one of them and leave it on the table for an especially good member of the wait staff or ask someone to pass the card note along to the chef or whoever needs to realize that their talents have been appreciated. Charles Hobbs would call that "throwing golden bricks." I think I have gotten better about that sort of thing and have worked with a very good role model for the last couple of years.

As we approach another Thanksgiving, there is perhaps no better time to examine the importance of gratitude in our culture. The post for the 24th, "Ambiguity and Gratitude," argues that choice to embrace gratitude was a deciding force in shaping American history.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Dear Me,

While at the National Middle School Association Convention, my favorite session was one conducted by Lonnie Moore, author of The Inspirational Teacher. One of the ideas he talked about was writing a letter to yourself and reviewing it regularly. That letter could outline your goals, your thoughts about yourself, or whatever was needed to help bring you in line with the "you" that you would like to be.

Lonnie's idea is similar to one that I proposed last December in a post entitled Christmas Letters from the Future. As we approach this Christmas season, I invite you to click on the link and read that post, a post about having a vision for the future, and through regularly reviewing it, bringing reality and that vision closer together.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Hoaxes Revisited

If we are looking for a way to save some time, one favor we might do our friends is checking out those "warnings" before passing them on. Here is an example of one that came to me from someone in our school system. Parts of the e-mail read as follows:

You may receive an apparently harmless e-mail with a Power Point presentation ' Life is Beautiful.' If you receive it DO NOT OPEN THE FILE UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, and delete it immediately. If you open this file, a message will appear on your screen saying: 'It is too late now, your life is no longer beautiful. '

Subsequently you will LOSE EVERYTHING IN YOUR PC, And the person who sent it to you will gain access to your name, e-mail and password.

THIS HAS BEEN CONFIRMED BY SNOPES

http://www.snopes.com/computer/virus/mailserver.asp

The interesting thing is not only is this a hoax, but if the reader even clicked on the Snopes link, they would see that the link is about a totally different hoax anyway.

How long did it take me to determine this e-mail was a hoax? About 10 seconds. How did I know? I wrote about it in this post.

In a similar post, I talked about a hoax that almost hooked me, and why educators should be the least likely to forward hoaxes. You can read about it by clicking here.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Battle Hymn of the Republic

After my last post on an inspiring rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner, a reader pointed my to an equally impressive Battle Hymn of the Republic. This group of young ladies is known as the "Cactus Cuties."

Friday, November 14, 2008

Well Done, Ladies

I have heard many renditions of the Star-Spangled Banner. This one is memorable.



The group is known as the Cactus Cuties.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

E-Mail on Repeating Tasks

I have received some nice comments on my repeating tasks e-mail. If you are not on the mailing list and would like to be, click the link to e-mail me.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Unveiling the BlackBerry Storm

Looks like the iPhone is going to have some competition. From what I am reading, the BlackBerry Storm will be sold exclusively by Verizon.

Happy Birthday, Davonia!


Happy Birthday to my wife, Davonia. Every day I ask myself what I did that was so good to deserve her.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Scenes from Denver

A few pictures from our trip to the National Middle School Association Convention in Denver. More pictures to come.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Don't Quit Poem

This poem used to hang on the band room wall when I was in junior high.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

National Middle School Association (Denver)




Thanks to the audience of well over 100 who came to the session and to those who came up to me at some point during the conference to let me know how they intend to implement what they heard. During the one hour and fifteen minutes, we were able to give at least an introduction to the following ideas:
  • Mastering paperwork with tickler files
  • Organizing it all with your "signature tool"
  • Handling repeating tasks
  • Documenting made easy enough you will actually do it
  • Getting e-mail from "in" to "empty"

I am beginning to hear the same comments with regularity:
  • This makes so much sense.
  • I had no idea it was so easy.
  • Why hasn't anybody told me this before?
  • I needed this!

Special thanks to Kerry Palmer for being my facilitator for the session. Kerry is principal at Trinity Middle School in Montgomery, Alabama and doing an outstanding job as a first-year principal. His blogs serve as just one example of the professional, positive approach he takes. You can view his faculty blog by clicking here or his parent blog by clicking here.

If you are visiting this blog for the first time as a result of coming to the session in Denver, thanks for stopping by. You are the reason I created this blog in the first place! We can cover just so much in 75 minutes. Web 2.0 allows us to continue the discussion.

This next weekend, I will be sending out the next e-mail newsletter, so by November 10, you should receive it. Be sure to check your spam folder and in case it gets caught there.

More pictures from Denver will be forthcoming!




Saturday, November 01, 2008

Good to Great...It Takes Time


Jim Collins was amazing in his address at yesterday's general session for the National Middle School Association Convention. Author of the best seller Good to Great, Collins tailored his remarks to hit home with the gathering of middle-level educators. Several of the significant points are as follows:

The adage "schools should be run like a business" is poor advice for schools. While there are businesses which are "great," most businesses are, well...average. Why in the world would we want to take practices which are merely average and import them into our schools.

We need to look for those things which work and stick with them. Our tendency in education is to start new things, abandon them quickly, and start something else. As Collins put it, "The signature of mediocrity is in inconsistency." Furthermore, he implored leaders to empower others to have freedom to "polish a lead bullet into silver and have time to do it."

Of particular interest to me was when Jim Collins touched on time management and implored us to develop not only a "to do" list but a "stop doing" list. More on this subject later.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

How to Read a Principal Blog

The following is an actual blog post. At that particular point, the blog I created to inform my staff had been in existence for about a month. In this post, my aim is to "think out loud" and help staff members make decisions about how to translate what they read into the actions they need to take.

Beginning of post for staff:
Different announcement will mean different thinks to different people. Some won't be applicable to you at all. Each one is annotated with the kind of decision that would need to be made on each one.

I came across this site the other day and was impressed by the wealth of information and teaching resources: Enchanted Learning (Basically, I would click on the link and decide within 30 seconds whether or not this is a site I would want to visit in detail later. I wouldn't go into that detail now or the end of the day would be here with some potentially critical things being left undone. If it looks good, either jot the URL on your to-do list or add the site to Favorites (but you will still need some type of reminder on your to-do list to trigger your looking for that site in Favorites).

Voyager--Debbie Lett will be here on Monday, Sept.19 for our first of three on site visits. She will be visiting your rooms during your intervention time to help and to answer some of your questions. (For K-5 teachers, this is a note for your calendar. For others, you could ignore it unless you were simply interested in the name of the visitor, in which case, I would jot it on the calendar for that day.)

An interesting page on and by Mem Fox. It includes a section on reading aloud where you can hear her in her own voice as she gives tips on reading aloud and examples. (Same type of decisions as the one about Enchanted Learning.)

Special education teachers--Did you know that you can access SETS from home? If not, e-mail me and I will give you the web address to use. (It's a different one that what you use at school.) (If your are not a special ed. teacher, you wold ignore this one. If you are a special ed. teacher and need this info, take the 15 seconds right now while you are reading this to open an new e-mail message. A time-saving tip--In the subject line, just put "I need address for getting SETS from home" and hit send. Putting the entire message in the subject line is a big time saver for you and the person on the other knows exactly what your message will be about before ever opening it. I will wait a day or so to give everyone a chance to respond and then compose one reply and send it to everyone who needs it.)

Daily Schedules--I am waiting on copies of Daily Schedules from 6 instructional assistants. (In other words, certified folks have taken care of this, so don't worry. If you are an instructional assistant, you know whether you did or not, so it's either you did and can move on to the next item or you didn't and need to jot a reminder on your to-do list.)

If you send information home to all parents, give me a copy. (Many of you do a good job of this already.) If the information concerns such things as a field trip, I will put it in the notebook we keep in the office. We get questions in the office regarding deadlines, costs, etc. related to a project a teacher is handling. If we have the information in the office, we can answer their questions. (This is a little different, because it's really about forming a habit. If you are already pretty good and doing this-and most are-simply move on. Forming a habit basically entails seeing having reminders pop up until the habit is entrenched.)

Exiting Programs—Please be sure that you exit out of programs you are in at the end of the day. In order for us to back-up Accelerated Reader or run the Data Doctor, everyone must be out of the program. (That's why I do those things in the late afternoon or at 6:30 in the morning.) This would also be true of any program that is being used on the network (STAR, Athena, or STI Classroom when we get it.) (This has gotten much better, but I just throw it out as a reminder.)

I will be in Montgomery Sept. 8 and 9 working on the State Course of Study for Fine Arts and in Montevallo during part of Sept. 14 for professional development planning. (You might jot a note on your calendar so that you don't need my signature or need me to make a decision on something urgent only to find out I am out of town.)

Sally Foster Giftwrap Sale--Students are to bring orders and money on Wednesday, September 7. (Be sure they have written this in their planners.) (I would make a note in my plan book, write a reminder on the board, or write it wherever you write other announcement for students to put in their planners.)

Students should also have Monday (Labor Day) in their planners as a holiday. (Same as Sally Foster.)

Continue reading other posts. You will know when you are done when you start running into stuff you read last week. Also, click on the calendar link so just to quickly familiarize yourself with what's coming up over the next several weeks.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Extended Daylight Saving Time One More Time

If you are noticing any of your digital devices suddenly being an hour behind, read this. Today used to be the day that we would leave Daylight Saving Time and "fall back" an hour. These days, that event happens the first Sunday in November, not the last Sunday in October.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Ideas for Teacher Blogs

Blogs have become popular tools in our school system. Not only does just about every school maintain is fairly active blog, but quite a few of our teachers are finding blogs to be fun and easy way to communicate.

If you are looking for ideas for the types of things to include on your blog, or if you would like to see samples of what others have done, this site may provide you the needed help.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

NMSA Conference


If you are coming to Denver for the National Middle School Association Conference, I invite you to attend the session I am presenting. For the schedule for my presentation, and that of others published by Eye on Education, click here.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tell Someone You Appreciate Them

Time Power by Dr. Charles Hobbs is a book which has a prominent place on my bookshelf. That book that did more that any other to shape my ideas on organization and time management and encourage me to develop my own ideas.

One of the ideas that Dr. Hobbs put forth was throwing "golden bricks," and recommended throwing at least three a day. According to him, "golden bricks" are simply those words of appreciation that cost nothing and mean a great deal.

I thought about Dr. Hobbs and his idea of throwing "golden bricks" as I watched this video.

Monday, October 13, 2008

It's a Great Day at Oak Mountain Middle School

Thanks to the faculty at Oak Mountain Middle School for a super 1/2 day workshop. With a student body approaching 1,300 and a faculty of approximately 80, this is a school with many activities going on simultaneously. Staying organized, communicating well with each other, and keeping the stress level low is important in a school that large.

As we discussed with the faculty, not everything we covered will resonate equally well with everyone. For some, the tickler file was the magic of the day. For others, the idea of using the one "signature tool" to keep it all together was paramount. For still others, the idea of "drag and drop" to get e-mail from "In" to "Empty" provided the "aha" moment.

It was good see great friends Linda Peveler, Bill Sellers, and Gaye McKinnon.

Since the day the school opened, personnel have always answered the phone was the greeting, "It's a great day at Oak Mountain Middle School!" I certainly enjoyed my day with this talented group. For any faculty who would like to sign up for my monthly e-mail newsletter but missed filling out a slip, just click here and tell me to add you to the list.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Trust, But Verify, and Be Sure to Backup

President Ronald Reagan often used the phrase, "Trust but verify." In a world where so much of our information is held digitally, we must be able to trust the systems which hold that information. What do we do when a system goes down?

A recent article in Information Week addressed this issue. The "cloud" is wonderful, but it can put our ability to operate in the hands of people who are far too removed from us.

For 25 years, I have been a proponent of backing up my data. Even when that data was held on one of those 5.25 floppy disks, there was always a second disk holding that exact same data. When the hard drive became the standard means for saving data, backing up to a set of 3.5 floppy disks began a ritual for me.

Now, an external hard drive houses a copy of every document, spreadsheet, photo, etc. on my office, home, and laptop computers. My precious Outlook data is housed not on a server maintained by someone else, but on my hard drive. Every week, that one pst file which holds all of my data is copied to a flash drive.

What about the information that lives in the cloud? The Information Week article mentioned Google's g-mail experiencing an outage twice in two weeks. This example is a warning of the reality that can touch each of us. How can we be assured that what we store in the cloud will be there when we need it?

Somewhere in the distance, I can hear the voice of that great communicator: "Trust, but verify." For me, that phrase means making a backup of everything of value that I have stored in the cloud. Here are some examples:
  1. Every three months, I backup the blog posts for this blog and the two blogs I administer for my school system. When I say "backup," I am simply using a click-and-drag to highlight all of my text. I copy and paste to a Word document. All of my text along with clickable links and pictures are saved. Who knows when a catastrophe at Blogger could wipe out years of blog posts.
  2. Every picture that is posted to a service such as flickr or Photobucket is also stored on my computer's hard drive.
  3. Every three months, I backup my Del.icio.us bookmarks. I choose to see 100 on the page, click-and-drag to highlight, copy, and paste in a Word document. The result is not pretty, but it does retain the list of bookmarks along with their clickable links.
  4. Every time I post to the SharePoint site at the office, I also save a copy of that same document on my hard drive. As just one example, every Course of Study for every subject we teach is posted to our SharePoint site. If the worst happens and the whole thing comes crashing down with no usable backup, I still have all of it somewhere else.
  5. Everything I post to GoogleDocs is also saved to my hard drive.
  6. Every time I read about a service offered through the cloud, I examine whether or not it is better than what I currently have. I could use an online calendar, yet Outlook synced to the BlackBerry gives me the data I need no matter where I am. Moreover, it does so without me relying on someone else to keep up with my data.
These practices take very little time, and hopefully there will never come a time when I really have to rely on them. I have the peace of mind knowing that if the worst happens, my data is still secure. The few minutes I spend backingup my data is time well invested.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Cloud and the Free Lunch


Of the many one-liners that have shaped my thinking about work ethic, somewhere at the top is the old adage, "There is no such thing as a free lunch." The Internet, however, has seemed to provide exactly that. The term "cloud computing" is becoming part of our national vocabulary. The tools we need are located not on our computers, but in that great mystical place that we call the Internet.

Search the entire Internet with Google for free, save my pictures online for free, host my bookmarks online for free...the list goes on and on. Ironically, the blog you are reading right is another one of those free tools located in the cloud.

Once the "nice" service becomes a "can't live without it" tool, how will I handle the day when "free" is replaced by dollar signs? These thoughts have been in the back of my mind for some time, but moved front-and-center with Jott's recent move from free to subscription. I am not alone. I invite you to read Tim Tyson's thoughts on this particular subject.

Maybe I have nothing to fear and advertising dollars will keep the "free cloud" afloat. Certainly, I am going to take advantage of convenience that the "cloud" offers. At the same time, I am going to have a plan in place in case the free lunch becomes a la carte.

In the next post, I will share a second concern. More importantly, I will share my thoughts on how to cope with the possibility.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Two Things I Have Never Done Before...

Last week, I did two things that I have never done before:
  1. Wear a pair of overalls
  2. Go barefoot in public in a place other than a swimming pool

OK, I admit that does not sound very daring. Catch a glimpse of my portrayal of Johnny Appleseed for the 2nd grade students at C. L. Salter Elementary School (Talladega, AL)


Friday, October 03, 2008

How Did You Make Today Count? (Reprise)

I have received more reactions from the e-mail I sent just two days ago than from any of the monthly messages. The idea of not just moving through the day, but really making it count for something is something I think is significant, yet poses a constant challenge. I am obviously not alone in that feeling.

Perhaps I need to practice what I preach and share with you my day.

Today was a holiday for our school system. It was a day when, for once, the sun was up before I was. Davonia and I cooked breakfast together, something we had planned to do. I love days when there are no deadlines facing me, because those are the days when I can devote the time to a project that it needs, and trying to accurately predict that quantity becomes a real moving target.

During the morning, I clicked quite a few routine tasks off the BlackBerry. Davonia and I chose to have lunch at a sandwich shop near our home. While the food is quite good, our going there has as much to do with the owners being great people whose hearts are in the right place and who are trying so hard to make a go of their business. In a way, just going there to support them could be justified as making today count.

I am a little over a week from a presentation for a large middle school faculty and a little under a month from a presentation at a national convention. Putting the finishing touches on the handout for both presentations and planning some tweaking of PowerPoint slides was time well spent.

The focus of the day evolved during mid-afternoon. Some time ago, I had identified some very meaningful posts from one of the blogs I had maintained as a principal. The idea was to republish those posts on our district blog. Today was the day I made that happen. At one sitting, I copied, edited, and posted every one of them. Blogger allows me to set a date for each to be published, so I now have quite a few posts which will automatically appear on the district blog over the next month.

Reading some of those old posts reminded me of what a valuable communication tool that blog had been. Reading those posts made me think of one particular first-year middle school principal who is doing a beautiful job of informing, inspiring, and supporting his staff, parents, and students with a set of blogs he maintains. Finally reading those posts called my attention to an item that has been sitting on my task list for far too long--writing an article on why principals should blog.

Today, those three motivators collided. The result was a draft of that article. When the day opened, I had no idea writing that article, which had been a good intention for a long time, would appear on paper before the day ended.

No, the article is not finished. I am a firm believer that great things happen during a good night's sleep. The subconscious somehow figures out just the right words.

That's my day, or at least the highlights of it. It did not go exactly as I had planned; it went better than I had planned. I can hardly wait for tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Serendipity

Wikipedia defines "serendipity" as "the effect by which one accidentally discovers something fortunate, especially while looking for something else entirely." That word accurately describes a Sunday morning three weeks ago for me and Davonia.

I was chairing an AdvancED District Accreditation review for the Fannin County (GA) Schools. Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, we anticipated beautiful country. For that reason, we drove over a day early to visit the shops, enjoy the quaint restaurants, and savor the view. We were not disappointed.

We anticipated meeting nice people, yet even so, our expectations were greatly exceeded. This is a county which is proud of its schools, and with good reason. Everything from a banquet beautifully showcasing student talent which opening the visit to the packed house awaiting the committee's exit report on the final afternoon, this community truly put its best foot forward.

On Sunday morning, we visited St. Luke's Episcopal Church, a small parish located in Blue Ridge. Little did we know, this would not be the usual Sunday service for this congregation. The Tim Janis Ensemble was two weeks into a nationwide tour, with one of the stops being a shop in Blue Ridge. The shop owner, a member of this small church, arranged for the ensemble to present its music throughout the service. While we anticipated a very uneventful Sunday morning, we experienced an incredible ensemble.

I hope you enjoy this little taste of the pleasant surprise, the serendipity, that awaited me and Davonia in a small church on a gorgeous Sunday morning in the mountains of north Georgia.


Sunday, September 28, 2008

Tommy Goff (1933-2008)


Few people leave a mark on their chosen profession the way Tommy Goff left his mark on Alabama high school bands. In a career that scanned over 30 years, Mr. Goff's Auburn High School Bands were among the best not only in Alabama, but stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the elite in the Southeast.

A short biography of Tommy Goff's life can be found at the Alabama Music Hall of Fame site. Everyone who knew Mr. Goff would certainly be able to add to this biography with their own stories of how this incredible teacher touched their lives.

Thanks to some special folks whose vision for the future included a reverence for the past, a very complete set of recordings of the Auburn High School Band through the years is available. Whether you listen to all of the "snap, crackles, and pops" in this recording of Army of the Nile from the 1959 State Band Contest, Rocky Point Holiday from three decades later, the band's rendition of Victory at Sea, or any of the multitudes of standards from the band literature, you are sure to enjoy the experience.

In this life, there are givers and there are takers. Tommy Goff was definitely a giver. Mr. Goff passed away this past Thursday. He will be missed.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Beauty and Vision and Good Friends



At first glance, this post has nothing to do with organization and time management. Displayed here are several examples of glasswork produced by my good friend Lisa Mote. You can browse Lisa's glass studio by clicking here.



I post Lisa's work for two reasons. First, what she creates is beauty, and we need a whole lot more beauty in our lives. Secondly, in an e-mail just the other day, she talked to me about vision and how her studio has taken off since she clarified her vision of where she wanted it to go. Lisa has been featured on HGTV. It was pretty powerful stuff.

Lisa, thanks for making the world just a little bit better place by doing the thing you love to do.

You've got to think about the "big things" while you're doing the small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction.

-Alvin Tofler

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Dealing with Office 2007 Documents

In the last month, four different people have approached me with the same problem. They were sent a Word document which they could not open, even though they regularly use Word. In all four cases, the problem was the same: The document was saved in Word 2007 and the recipient was using Word 2003.

Here are two piece of information everyone needs to know:

  1. Office 2003 will not open an Office 2007 document.
  2. A free converter is available which will allow Office 2007 documents to be opened with Office 2003.
This problem is going to become more and more prevalent as more people make the switch to Office 2007, generally by virtue of purchasing a new computer. The very large percentage of us who are still doing just fine with Office 2003 won't be able to open documents from the growing percentage who made the switch.

What's the solution? Don't wait until you are faced with that "must open" document that just won't open. Get the converter while you are thinking about it. You are just a couple of mouse clicks away right this minute, so why not knock it out right now?

To get that converter, click here.

With a DSL connection, the download takes roughly five minutes.

Once you download the converter, you may wish to copy the installer to a flash drive. You will then be able to load that converter on your laptop or whip out the flash drive when a co-worker is running into his/her own problem opening a Word 2007 document!

You can even save those documents once you open them. Go to "Save As" and choose "Word Document" as the file type.

A few mouse clicks to download and install that converter, and then I can open anything saved in Office 2007. That's easy enough I will actually do it!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Ensuring Outlook and GroupWise Work Together

During workshops on Outlook, I am sometimes asked about organizations which use GroupWise and whether or not they can take advantage of Outlook. I have not personally worked with GroupWise, so my knowledge is somewhat limited there.

I did come across a set of instructions on how to get Outlook and GroupWise to work together. Those instructions can be found here.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

How Did You Make Today Count?

Anyone who knows me well knows how much I value a comprehensive set of repeating tasks. Instead of hoping I think of things at the right time, I structure a system that insures I will think of them at the right time.

I have a daily task which shows up on my BlackBerry every day that reads, "How did you make today count?" That one question stares me in the face every evening. That one question forces me to think back over the events of the day and be honest about the way I used a very special gift. That one question helps me focus and compare how my day was spent in contrast to the vision I have for the future.

I have for some time adopted the practice of noting on my calendar the answer to that question. For me, it is sort of a mini-diary. It also serves as a compass.

How did you make today count? It is a sobering question indeed, at least for me. Perhaps the knowledge that I am going to have to answer that question when the day ends works on my subconscious from the time the day begins.

As you read this post, I invite you to join me in answering this question for yourself:

How did you make today count?

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Don't Forget the Old Ones...For Dog Lovers Everywhere

A very good friend sent me this thought. In a blog devoted to using our time to maximize the results we get, I think this message is particularly appropriate.

The years go so very fast and before you know it that romping pup is old and gray muzzled and they have sat by our sides
while we read, watch TV, and work on our computers. Every so often they come and lay their heads in our laps, toss our elbow with their muzzle or gaze into our eyes and wait for us to notice them.

Take a moment now to remember what they mean to you..

I am your dog, and I have a little something I'd like to whisper in your ear. I know that you humans lead busy lives. Some have to work, some have children to raise. It always seems like you are running here and running there, often much too fast, often never noticing the truly grand things in life.

Look down at me now, while you sit there at your computer. See the way my dark brown eyes look at yours? They are slightly cloudy now. That comes with age. The gray hairs are beginning to ring my soft
muzzle.

You smile at me; I see love in your eyes. What do you see in mine?

Do you see a spirit? A soul inside, who loves you as no other
could in the world? A spirit that would forgive all trespasses of prior wrong doing for just a simple moment of your time? That is all I ask. To slow down, if even for a few minutes, to be with me.

So many times you have been saddened by the words you read on that screen, of others of my kind, passing. Sometimes we die young and oh so quickly, sometimes so suddenly it wrenches your heart out of your throat. Sometimes, we age so slowly before your eyes that you may not even seem to know until the very end, when we look at you with grizzled muzzles and cataract clouded eyes.

Still the love is always there, even when we must take that long sleep, to run free in a distant land. I may not be here tomorrow; I may not be here next week. Someday you will shed the water from your eyes, that humans have when deep grief fills their souls, and you will be angry at yourself that you did not have just "one more day" with me. Because I love you so, your sorrow touches my spirit and grieves me.

We have NOW, together. So come, sit down here next to me on the floor, and look deep into my eyes. What do you see? If you look hard and deep enough we will talk, you and I, heart to heart.


Come to me not as "alpha" or as "trainer" or even "Mom or Dad," come to me as a living soul and stroke my fur and let us look deep into one another's eyes and talk. I may tell you something about the fun of chasing a tennis ball, or I may tell you something profound about myself, or even life in general.

You decided to have me in your life because you wanted a soul to share such things. Here I am. I am a dog, but I am alive. I feel emotion, I feel physical senses, and I can revel in the differences of our spirits and souls.

I do not think of you as a "Dog on two feet" -- I know what you are and who you are.

You are human, in all your quirkiness, and I love you still.

Now, come sit with me, on the floor. Enter my world, and let time slow down if only for 15 minutes. Look deep into my eyes, and whisper into my ears.

Speak with your heart, with your joy, and I will know your true self.

We may not have tomorrow, but we do have today, and life is oh so very short.

So please--come sit with me now and let us share these precious moments we have together.

- Love, on behalf of canines everywhere.


Your Dog




















In memory of Lassie Marie March 21, 1990-January 19, 2003

In celebration of Bonnie Lass (8 years old) and Skipper (12 years old)