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Sunday, April 29, 2007

How to write an Outstanding Post?

I was tagged by Terry to address this topic: What is an outstanding post?

How do you define outstanding?

Is it one that the writer really feels good about, that it just came together and flowed?

Or is it one that generated the most traffic? Or is it one that generated the most comments?

I lean towards the audience determining whether a post is outstanding or not. I think the third part of the audience I wrote about in the Fire Circle Story is the key. From what I have seen, there is no one tool that can tell you what you need to know about your readers today. Persistence in writing will create content that someone will find when they need it. And when they do, you will have succeeded. It may be today, it maybe tomorrow, or months from now.

It maybe that after all is said and done, when your post is found, it may have been because it was the only one left standing. That is negative logic that I don't aspire to. I prefer to align with Terry on taking the optimistic or glass half full approach.

So tell me, what do you think?
Have I ever created an outstanding post for you?

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Rapid Fire Learning - April

Click over to the Joyful Jubilant Learning blog and read my entry on Rapid Fire Learning for April.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

The Women in Our LIves

I don't normally reprint an entire email but I chose to make an exception for today's edition of the Monday Morning Memo from Roy H Williams.

You can read the full text on the MondayMorningMemo website: The Women In Our Lives

You can listen to the memo being read by Roy: The Women In Our Lives

or be real lazy and read the text here:
I owe my optimism to my mother, a single parent whose ironclad confidence kept my sister and I from ever suspecting how poor we really were. We felt like Mom could do anything. She made us feel like everything was going to be okay.

And amazingly, it was.

I owe my business to my wife, Pennie, who never worried or complained or suggested that I get a real job, even when the cut-off notices began to arrive from the utility companies. My prayer for our sons throughout their lives has been that they would each marry a wife who would give them the same freedom and support I've gotten from Princess Pennie since we were both 18.

The older son has been married for 2 years now and I'm delighted to report that God answers prayer.

I owe my love of literature to an Oklahoma public school teacher named Linn Ball in whose English class I was privileged to sit as a junior and senior in high school.

These are three of the women who shaped my life. Who were the sculptresses of yours?

Keith Miller reminded me of Linn Ball recently when he said, "Roy, we've got to preserve the almost-forgotten wisdom."

That conversation ended with Wizard Academy agreeing to host an important event this summer, but we can't do it without your input. Here's what we need from you:

1. Think of a teacher that is truly gifted. "This world would be a different place if every teacher was like (who?)."

2. Contact that teacher and tell them you'd like to submit their name as a possible candidate to be invited to a national summit on education.

3. Send us – with their permission – the teacher's contact information along with the reasons why their name is the one you'd use to finish that sentence. Tell us exactly what this teacher did that rocked your world. A simple name and recommendation isn't enough. We need you to remember a specific incident that illustrates how this teacher does things differently.

The result of this conference is going to be a book filled with innovative teaching techniques and true-life stories that will be shared with educators across America.

This is not a money-making proposition. It's a focused effort to rescue a generation in need of teachers who can fan the flames of flickering intellect until it blazes into a conflagration of knowledge.

Teachers who light fires do things differently. We're going to extract the fiery sparks from these gifted teachers and put them into a book other teachers will use like a box of matches.

Right now you're thinking of a teacher, aren't you? Please contact him or her. Do it now.

This can turn out 2 ways:

1. You can plan to do it, mean to do it, promise to do it and then get ambushed by the urgencies of daily life and say, "Oh well, I'm sure they got lots of names and stories from other people." The result will be no conference, no preservation of the almost-forgotten wisdom, no rescue of a generation that is fading fast.

2. Or you can track down the teacher, explain to them that Wizard Academy is a credible think-tank and that yes, this conference will be chaired by Keith Miller himself, that legendary author of bestselling books that rocked America throughout the 70s and 80s. (I'll be there, too, but your teacher is a lot less likely to have heard of me. Just ask them if they remember The Taste of New Wine or Habitation of Dragons or any of the other bestsellers by Keith Miller.)

Our promise of a book emerging from this conference isn't just a daydream. If the conference happens, the book will happen. And your teacher will be part of it.

You gonna call your teacher? We really need you to do it.

Email your 500 to 1,000-word narrative and teacher contact information before midnight, April 30, 2007, to

Right now I'm going to put Jodie Gateman's name on the list along with Dr. B.C. DeSpain and then find out whatever happened to Linn Ball. We haven't spoken in 30 years.

But we're about to.

Roy H. Williams

PS - I would also encourage you to subscribe to receive your own copy of the MondayMorningMemo. It is a great way to start the week.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

I'd take away the guns

As a parent with two daughters in college, the tragedy at Virginia Tech hits close to home. My prayers go out to all those families.

As for the solution to this madness, I endorse the words Cheryl Wheeler composed in response to the Jonesboro school yard shooting.

If It Were Up to Me
Words and Lyrics by: Cheryl Wheeler

Maybe it's the movies, maybe it's the books
Maybe it's the bullets, maybe it's the real crooks
Maybe it's the drugs, maybe it's the parents
Maybe it's the colors everybody's wearin
Maybe it's the President, maybe it's the last one
Maybe it's the one before that, what he done
Maybe it's the high schools, maybe it's the teachers
Maybe it's the tattooed children in the bleachers
Maybe it's the Bible, maybe it's the lack
Maybe it's the music, maybe it's the crack
Maybe it's the hairdos, maybe it's the TV
Maybe it's the cigarettes, maybe it's the family
Maybe it's the fast food, maybe it's the news
Maybe it's divorce, maybe it's abuse
Maybe it's the lawyers, maybe it's the prisons
Maybe it's the Senators, maybe it's the system
Maybe it's the fathers, maybe it's the sons
Maybe it's the sisters, maybe it's the moms
Maybe it's the radio, maybe it's road rage
Maybe El Nino, or UV rays
Maybe it's the army, maybe it's the liquor
Maybe it's the papers, maybe the militia
Maybe it's the athletes, maybe it's the ads
Maybe it's the sports fans, maybe it's a fad
Maybe it's the magazines, maybe it's the internet
Maybe it's the lottery, maybe it's the immigrants
Maybe it's taxes, big business
Maybe it's the KKK and the skinheads
Maybe it's the communists, maybe it's the Catholics
Maybe it's the hippies, maybe it's the addicts
Maybe it's the art, maybe it's the sex
Maybe it's the homeless, maybe it's the banks
Maybe it's the clearcut, maybe it's the ozone
Maybe it's the chemicals, maybe it's the car phones
Maybe it's the fertilizer, maybe it's the nose rings
Maybe it's the end, but I know one thing.
If it were up to me, I'd take away the guns.

(P) October 1, 1997

Penrod And Higgins Music / Amachrist Music
ACF Music Group
International Copyright Reserved

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Reebok Campaign #3

Another in a series of the ad campaign launched by Reebok that has transformed South Station, Boston.

This is one I agree with. "Conversation is fuel."

Conversation is fuel
for continuing a long run with a partner,
for building relationships,
for making friends,
for coordinating change.

Conversation is fuel for learning.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Light blogging alert

Franklin is facing a budget override and I anticipate that I will be busy helping to get the vote turned out for May 22.

It really is a mayday call to Franklin. The Town Council decision to put forward a $2.7 Million Proposition 2 ½ override still leaves all departments short of their budget requests and will require cuts to the services provided for in the current fiscal year.

Exactly what that means to Franklin is still being sorted out. Amongst the items discussed IF the override passes would still be approx 25-30 school personnel cuts, Fire, Police, DPW cuts, library shut. Stay tuned for the details.

IF the override fails, the picture gets worse real quick!

PS - check the scrolling headlines for Steve's 2 Cents to keep up with the override.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Toasters on Innovation

From the Sunday edition of the Boston Globe Business section comes a good article on innovation as a process and not an end result.

In a recent issue of The MIT Sloan Management Review, Michael Schrage, a business writer and a Massachusetts Institute of Technology researcher, challenged the thinking of a prominent Columbia Business School professor. More specifically, he challenged what Bruce Greenwald, whose work focuses on finance and investing, has said about the fate of all innovative technologies: "In the long run, everything is a toaster."

That is to say, even the most impressive breakthrough eventually becomes mundane, with all producers offering more or less identical versions of the same item and competing largely on the basis of price: Innovation runs its course, and the thing becomes a commodity.

Schrage's article, "The Myth of Commoditization," argued that not only is this not true of technological breakthroughs, it's not even true of toasters. "Heated bread lacks the high-tech cachet of multicore processors or polymerase chain reactions," he wrote, but the "technical evolution" of toasters offers a "case study in profitable innovation."

Read the full article here.

I had not heard of

The Back to Basics Egg & Muffin Toaster seems to offer good evidence . With a retail price of around $40 (double the typical price of a plain toaster), it was a top-selling toaster in 2006, and that seems to be largely because of what makes it distinct . As the name implies, it's a toaster with a built-in egg poacher.


Melissa Clyne, a spokeswoman for the company, says the Egg & Muffin Toaster was a result of one of the company's regular brainstorming sessions in 2005. In this case, someone brought in an egg poacher, and after some discussion the idea was has hatched to mush it onto a toaster. "It gives the toaster some added functionality," she explains. "We have a lot of folks out there who are multitasking."

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Monday, April 09, 2007


Susan Senator writes a wonderful viewpoint essay in the Sunday Boston Globe Magazine titled "A Wanted Child". She opens her essay with:
It is part of being human to wonder how our lives could have been different, if only this or that had not happened. As the mother of a fairly severely autistic 17-year-old, I have certainly wondered what my life would have been like without him.
Read the full essay here.

The same issue of the magazine had an article about a few transgender students at what is remaining of the Seven Sisters colleges. When a she graduates as a he, is it still a school for girls?

Read the full story here.


One mother's choice.
Several student's choices.

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Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter Welcome

Originally uploaded by shersteve.
The story has it that the pineapple was a "welcome" symbol for the clipper ship captains when they returned home from a voyage to their New England home port; Boston, Salem, Newport, etc. The captain would stick a pineapple on the front stair post and thereby neighbors and friends would know the captain was home.

It is cool today in New England, about 35 F so it won't be too inviting to sit outside and have a conversation.

If you do visit, make yourself comfortable amongst the archives.

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Fair Use

An excellent summary of fair use is highlighted by Davd DeJean at InformationWeek who writes:
11 minutes of quiet, reassuring good sense on the subject I recommend a podcast interview with Anthony Falzone, executive director of the Fair Use Project at Stanford University.
Good stuff...

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Yes, it is the $100 laptop

Yes, it is the $100 laptop
Originally uploaded by
The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project uses a wiki to provide information and updates.

It's an education project, not a laptop project.

— Nicholas Negroponte

I was fortunate to hold one when I went to MIT for the BeyondBroadcasting Conference. Pretty slick devices. They have re-engineered the laptop for a child to use in the 3rd world.

I can hardly wait for some of the enhancements to make it into mainstream laptops.

Read more about OLPC here at their wiki.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Meet the Revs - Dolores at the Bubble

Originally uploaded by shersteve.
Dolores poses for a picture just at the entrance of the air filled tunnel that the players entered the field through in previous seasons.

MLS just announced today that this season, the teams will enter the field following the referees like the other major FIFA leagues do.

This may be the last time we see the familiar soccer ball tunnel.

Good thing we took the opportunity to pose for a picture!

How do you handle change?

How do you let some one know about the change?

I read this news release. I wonder how many fans in the stands this week will notice a difference?

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Monday, April 02, 2007

StopCyberBully Update

It is heartening to read that Kathy Sierra and Chris Locke have posted a joint statement about the major incident that prompted my endorsement of Andy Carvin's stopcyberbullying posting last week.

You can read their joint statement here.

Sounds like there may be more civil conversations about this as the story continues to play out.

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Revs Coach Paul Mariner

Originally uploaded by shersteve.
Soccer is a simple game. 22 people, 11 per side, 2 goals, 1 field, one ball.

The team with the best approach and best execution should win.

Coach Paul Mariner was at the white board during the recent "Meet the Revs" event. He used the board and some video clips from last year's games to highlight some key moves.

The Revs open their season April 7 against Chicago but have been practicing and going to school for a couple of months already to prepare.

What do you do to prepare for life?

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

Not on the test

Tom Chapin, brother to Harry Chapin, is a good musician. We were fortunate to see Tom perform several years ago. The girls were young at the time but thoroughly enjoyed his group. His group plays great music and crafts great lyrics. Like this one!

Not On The Test

by John Forster & Tom Chapin
© 2007 Limousine Music Co. & The Last Music Co. (ASCAP)

Go on to sleep now, third grader of mine.
The test is tomorrow but you’ll do just fine.
It’s reading and math. Forget all the rest.
You don’t need to know what is not on the test.
Each box that you mark on each test that you take,
Remember your teachers. Their jobs are at stake.
Your score is their score, but don’t get all stressed.
They’d never teach anything not on the test.
The School Board is faced with no child left behind
With rules but no funding, they’re caught in a bind.
So music and art and the things you love best
Are not in your school ’cause they’re not on the test.
Sleep, sleep, and as you progress
You’ll learn there’s a lot that is not on the test.
Debate is a skill that is useful to know,
Unless you’re in Congress or talk radio,
Where shouting and spouting and spewing are blessed
‘Cause rational discourse was not on the test.
Thinking’s important. It’s good to know how.
And someday you’ll learn to, but someday’s not now.
Go on to sleep, now. You need your rest.
Don’t think about thinking. It’s not on the test

Schools would be better off without tests like this!

thanks to Joyce for the tip!

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