Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Christmas Can-Can

"The Christmas Can-Can" is from Straight No Chaser's brand-new album, "Christmas Cheers!"

Friday, November 27, 2009

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

During the Christmas season, you will find a mixture of stuff about being productive along with some of my favorite Christmas music. To start things off, folks my age remember when Andy Williams had his own variety show. Nobody sings this one like he does.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

On this Thanksgiving Day, enjoy this medley of traditional hymns of the season.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Indianapolis Pictures

The horse-drawn carriages were an every-night scene during our trip. Davonia and I took a ride with "Riley." Here are some of the horses and their carriages that we encountered.

Monday, November 23, 2009

God Bless the USA

This video was made at this past spring's high school graduation in my former school system. The vocalist is David Horton, husband of the superintendent at that time, Dr. Joanne Horton. David is a shining example of a businessman who has kept music as an important part of his life.

The speaker at this high school graduation was Dr. Condoleezza Rice. Dr. Rice speaks at exactly one high school commencement exercise each year. In an example of "out of the box" thinking, Dr. Horton invited Condoleezza Rice, and the rest is history. Below is the audio from that address. Thanks to David McDaniel for putting together a slide show of sights from that night to serve as a backdrop for Dr. Rice's speech.

Both of these videos have been displayed on the school system's blog. Since my retirement and Dr. Horton's retirement, the school system has unfortunately not maintained these two very active blogs it had been operating. Embedding these videos here ensures they will be available long into the future.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Indianapolis Pictures

In the bottom of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument is a Civil War Museum. Pictured here are scenes from the museum.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

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.

Friday, November 20, 2009

More Pictures from Indianapolis

The Soldiers and Sailors Monument is a center-piece of downtown Indianapolis. Our hotel room offered a beautiful view of the monument. You will see a night-time shot from our window in the pictures below.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Love Letters Through GoogleDocs

Way too cute! There are many ways to use GoogleDocs. I had not thought of this one.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

More Pictures from Indianapolis

Christ Church (Episcopal) Cathedral was located a block from our hotel. This pre-Civil War church is beautiful. Davonia attended a noon-time organ recital while I was attending convention sessions.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Do You Believe?

As we begin American Education Week, do you believe?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Pictures from Indianapolis

Here are more pictures from our trip to Indianapolis. These scenes are from downtown.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

"A Good Place to Learn and Grow"

There are many ways that we can celebrate "American Education Week." One of them is to pick a school that is headed in the right direction and lend a helping hand with its goals.

Raymond L. Young (Talladega, AL) is being spotlighted during November in the First National Bank "Cash for the Classroom" program. The school's goal is to outfit every classroom with a document camera.

What can you do with a document camera? Here are some ideas.

Want to lend a helping hand? You can go here to make a donation through PayPal. To learn more about R. L. Young Elementary and the programs there, visit their school blog. The blog is updated often and showcases the creativity and solid learning environment that makes it "A Good Place to Learn and Grow."

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Scenes from Indianapolis

Davonia and I had a great time at the National Middle School Association Convention in Indianapolis. Over the next week or so, I will be posting pictures.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Understanding the Financial Crisis

All of us know that our economy has been in a world of hurt, but very few can explain why. Here is a 4-minute video which explains the basic concepts.

If you liked this explanation, you will probably enjoy others from Say It Visually.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Happy Birthday, Davonia!

Happy Birthday to Davonia, my wife of 20 years!

Veterans Day Tribute

On this Veterans Day, enjoy these pictures. They serve a reminder the protection of the freedom we enjoy is not easy.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Lauderdale County and Cell Phones

Today's Associated Press article talks about Lauderdale County (Alabama) and its approach to cell phones.

While at the National Middle School Association Conference, I listened to closing speaker Rick Wormeli talk in no uncertain terms of how backwards many school systems will look five years from now in terms of cell phone policies they tried to enforce. At this same conference, I had planned to attend a session on cell phone usage in classrooms. There was such a crowd, I couldn't get in the door.

Back in August, I devoted several posts to this subject. I think this is a topic that deserves more thought than many people are willing to put in and is a topic that is not going to go away.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Backup Your Outlook Data

For those of us who keep our calendar, a complete list of all of our tasks, our one and only address book, and a wealth of reference material in Outlook, our Outlook data is precious. Therefore, backing up that data is crucial. It is important to note is that all of the Outlook data is housed in one single file, probably named Outlook.pst on your computer. If you archive your Outlook data, there will also be a second file called something like Archive.pst. Backup those two files, and if the hard drives goes down, your data is still safe.

Microsoft offers a tool which will automatically backup your data. You can get the backup tool free by going to and searching for "Personal Folders Backup." I found the tool at this address.

To configure the tool, open Outlook and click on the File menu. Click on "Backup." When the box opens, click the "Options" button. Here you will be able to decide how often your data will be backed up. You can also choose the location for your data backup.

I do not choose the default location for my backup. Instead, I set the location to my "Current Projects" folder. That way, when I backup my Current Projects, which I do weekly, I am making a copy of my Outlook data.

When the scheduled day comes for the data backup, the tool kicks in when Outlook is closed. I don't need to remember to backup the data. The backup tool handles the remembering for me.

Serious Outlook users depend on the data housed in the program. Protecting that data is essential. With the Outlook backup, that data is safe.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Cramberry--Site for Online Flash Cards

I am impressed with Cramberry, a free online source for flash cards. You create a free account. From there you can either create your own deck of flash cards or browse decks that others have created. When you find one you like, you simply "add to your set."

The thing I like about this site is that there is no multiple choice involved. You are presented with the question and have to come up with the answer out of your head. When you click the mouse, you see the correct answer and rate yourself as being correct or incorrect. Incorrect answers cause that question to be recycled so that you get another chance at it later.

This one is definitely worth a look.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Crystal Clear Task List

When I talk about composing a task list where the items will actually be accomplished, wording the tasks so that they are crystal clear means the difference between the desire to dig in and the tendency to procrastinate. The Eye on Education Blog highlights that concept. The post can be found here.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Institution Versus Collaboration

This video of Clay Shirky is from 2005. It is about 20 minutes long. He shows how closed groups and companies will give way to looser networks where small contributors have big roles and fluid cooperation replaces rigid planning. The takeaways for me were:

  1. The explanation of how he put together part of his presentation by using the "tagging" feature of Flickr to allow him to select photos from many photographers. For those unfamiliar with how "tagging" works on Flickr, blogs, Delicious, etc., Shirky's talk shows us why they are important.
  2. The blogging revolution and how it is reshaping journalism.
  3. This quote from his talk, "If you want to know what technology is going to change the world, don't pay attention to 13-year-old boys. Pay attention to young mothers. Because they have got not an ounce of support for technology that doesn't materially make their lives better."