Archive for May, 2011

Gearing up for part two of inventory

May 31st, 2011


Today I tackle a closet that hasn’t been completely organized in over a decade. No hyperbole.

Are you tying your shoes the right way?

May 24th, 2011

Normally TED talks are about very serious things, so I didn’t know what to think when I saw Terry Moore’s talk on tying your shoes the right way.

It’s not supposed to be a sarcastic video. It turns out that most of us are tying our shoes with the weaker version of a knot.

Click here to learn more.


May 23rd, 2011


It’s going to be a long couple of days. I have my laptop hooked up to my scanner. That should make it go a little faster.

True Grit by Charles Portis

May 18th, 2011

Brace yourself. I am about to say something un-American:

I have not seen either True Grit movie.

I fully expect John Wayne to ride up on horseback and punch me. I accept the consequences.

Chalk it up to my age, but I have never been one for Westerns. That’s stuff for my dad and grandpa. I am a product of post-Space Race entertainment. Star Wars and Star Trek are my visions of wild frontiers. Westerns sometimes are downright uncomfortable with their portrayal of non-White races and other times just seem so boring.

Then I watched Firefly.

Yes, I had heard Han Solo labeled a space cowboy, but it wasn’t until I saw the crew of the Serenity stroll around in dusters and laser revolvers that I finally showed an interest in Westerns. I wanted to learn more about Joss Whedon’s inspiration for the series and that led me to Killer Angels by Michael Shaara. This is a great book if you haven’t read it and makes the Civil War come alive.

But what about Western fiction? Sure, I could watch a Western movie. Who doesn’t like The Magnificent Seven? But could I sit down and read a Western?

Thankfully, I began my experiment with True Grit by Charles Portis.

This book does not need me to recommend it. This one’s a classic. When older teachers hear me talking about it, they’re like, “Well, yeah!” So, older readers, you can sit back and enjoy your wisdom accrued over the years. This review is for the younger crowd.

Main character Mattie is a teenage girl on her own in the world attempting to right a wrong. This screams of YA fiction, so I don’t know why it hasn’t been pushed recently in secondary libraries. Mattie’s father was killed by the man he was trying to help. The killer, Tom Chaney, will probably be lost in the system and escape punishment. Mattie recruits washed-up Marshal Rooster Cogburn as her hired gun to track down Chaney. Portis will have to forgive me that, as I read, I pictured Haymitch from The Hunger Games as Cogburn.

I think a teen reader will appreciate the story, although the rising action part of the plotline does take a little bit as Mattie is trying to get Cogburn to help her. Those scenes develop Mattie as a character and show where she can hold her own with any adult, but they’re not action-packed. Her characterization is right up there with Katniss and Tally Youngblood. Some critics will try to convince you that Mattie is like Huck Finn.

Sure. They’re both:

  1. Young
  2. Fast-talking
  3. Southerners

But if I were going out into the badlands to hunt down a crew of killers, I would never take Huckleberry Finn with me. He’d be more likely to chew loudly on some straw, pull a prank out of boredom, and get us both killed. Mattie has the determination and purpose that makes for a strong female protagonist. (Yes, I do understand that Katniss and Tally get whiny. They’re not uber-heroes. They’re human.)(Well, fictional humans.) Huck Finn is more about fate and where The River will take you.

Get True Grit by Charles Portis. It’s worth the read, even if you’re not a big Western fan. Now that I’ve finished, I plan on getting the new version of True Grit on Netflix. The reviews have said that it stays pretty closely to the book.

If J.J. Abrams launched a shuttle

May 17th, 2011

Endeavor is delivering a dark-matter hunter to the International Space Station.

That sentence alone sounds epic. Now check out the photo the crew posed for:

NASA did a pretty decent Photoshop to recreate this:

All Photoshopping aside, check out this amazing photo from Stefanie Gordon’s iPhone:

She was in a plane flying by the launch site and snapped a photo. It should be noted that she just gained 1,000+ followers on Twitter.

Myth Fakebook

May 17th, 2011

Ms. Harvey has done a great update of her Mythology Fakebook in Excel.

You can download it here.

Want to make a difference? Mentor.

May 11th, 2011

In education, we make a difference daily, whether for the positive or the negative. It’s great to think that in my library I have the potential to see 1300 students in a given year and I value that. One place that I see myself making a difference on campus is my mentoring of three new teachers. I just finished all of the end of the year paperwork and it’s so exciting to see a positive impact for our students through the awesome professionalism exhibited by those three.

Even if you don’t think you have what it takes to mentor, some of what you do already can help. There are so many routines on campus that we take for granted, like codes we use for copiers or how to work the various web apps for attendance, grades, etc. If you can walk a new teacher through those routines, it eliminates confusion and frees them to teach more effectively. Letting new teachers know that they are not alone, that they have someone to go to with any questions, is so encouraging and helps retain great teachers. Your guidance will impact years worth of students.

That and you get a cool certificate.

Check your sources

May 4th, 2011

There’s a quote that’s been going around Facebook that’s attributed to Martin Luther King, Jr.

I will mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.

The original post was:

I will mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. “Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” MLK Jr.

But, in another example of the telephone game, Internet-style, the quotation marks got left off and a lot of people ran with it. In this case, doing a search for the last sentence of the quote led me to this article which then led me to checking archived writings of Dr. King.