Monthly Archives: May 2007

Caught One

So my recent obsession with blogs has taken me on quite the adventure. I have found some really interesting posts, some amazing blogs, and some horrible ones. I feel like I have been digging in a sandbox, hoping to find some gem that someone has left behind for me to find. And I found one. I caught this entry last night on my hook. I decided to paste it below so that it is easier to interact with here. Here’s the original link if you want to check it out yourself – http://www.huntingsense.com/teaching-them-to-survive/

I had a conversation last night that ties nicely into the topic of the week. We are raising a generation of enablers. There is no need to think for yourself; it’s all done for you, and there is no need to take responsibility for your actions. A prime example of this is the “Caution: Coffee is Hot” warnings on take-out coffee cups. While I understand this is a way of covering the company ass, it’s certainly not helping anyone on a grand scale.

If you’re never taught to think things out from A to B, to see the cause and effect of what you do, always have someone there to direct you, what happens when you’re put in a situation where the only one you have to rely on is you? What happens when there isn’t someone to tell you ‘what happens next’?

I’m going to call this the ‘…and then what?’ effect. 20 minutes out of the school day could go a long way to teaching a child how to deal with a ‘…and then what?’ situation. When the kids are lining up for recess, pose a ‘…and then what?’ question. It takes nothing away from the set curriculum, but it definitely adds common sense to a common sense deprived generation. EG: You’ve gotten carried away with your campfire, and now it’s dangerously close to igniting the dry branches of the overhead trees. You only have a small jug of water at hand. And then what?

There is no one there to explain that the small jug of water isn’t going to make a whole lot of difference in putting that fire out before it becomes a big problem. When I posed this question to some non-outdoorsy type adults (who do enjoy the occasional camping trip, though), they said they’d run to get more water. Water puts out fire, right? When I explained that there was no need to get more water, and that all they had to do was throw the dirt under their feet on the fire, they looked perplexed. I could see them trying to work it out from point A to point B in their heads. All it took was for me to say, “Smother it”, and the lightbulb of recognition flicked on. Something so basic to their safety eluded them until they were directed to the answer. This is even a transferable skill for those who never set foot in the woods! Kitchen fires, backyard weeny roasts, BBQ’s—but there’s where the problem lays. Unless they’re specifically guided through it step by step, people are losing the ability to apply concept A to concept B on their own. Concept A = throw baking soda on a grease fire in the kitchen to smother it. Concept B = throw dirt on a camp fire to smother it. Pretty simple once it’s explained. That is has to be explained with step by step instruction is more than a little scary, though.

The only problem I can see with implementing this education is: First you’d have to teach the teachers. That, and because of the ever increasing budget cuts, it’s going to take a lot of volunteers to make this change happen.

Cliff

Great post, Cliff! I think you are absolutely right. I have been inspired and plan to start this with my students. I was thinking I could assign …and then what journal entries at least once a week. I never thought about using journal for problem solving before. It could be a great experience to read them quickly and discuss the different solutions that the students came up with. Thanks!

What Happened to Respect?

As a child I was always taught to be respectful to my elders. My parents made sure that I spoke with respect to any adult. When I was in school I called my teachers “Sir.” I always said “please” and “thank you” and it never felt like I was forced to do these things. It was expected and common courtesy. This was the way the world worked.

These days, I am the adult and I do not see this respect being returned. I wonder what happened to common courtesy and why kids don’t behave in respectful ways anymore. Is it not taught at home anymore? Do we not live in a respectful society anymore? It seems like we do not.

I have never been address as “Sir” by any of my students. Maybe times have just changed. But I hear students who call their teacher simply “teacher.” I find that disrespectful. I don’t call them “student,” or “kid.” I address them by name, out of respect. I expect the same thing in return. I also expect the children in my class to say please and thank you, but I have found, more often than not, I don’t get it without having to remind them.

It’s frustrating being a teacher in this day and age. I was disrespected in a handful of ways today. And I couldn’t really do anything about it. I try to do my job to the best of my ability and I treat the students with respect. But it doesn’t get returned. I want to rant and rave about it here in detail, but I won’t. Suffice it to say that I was openly disrespected by students who didn’t listen, did the complete opposite of what I said, turned their back on me, walked away, and talked back to me. It was too much! Way too much!

I don’t deserve to be treated this way. A few students in the school feel that it is okay to do whatever they want, whenever they want. Detention, suspension, taking away recess or gym seems to be no deterrent whatsoever to their actions. And we don’t really have the power to do anything else. The kids know that they don’t need to listen because they are really no consequences to their actions. They have learned that respect is not important.

I don’t know what can be done about this lack of respect. I think that it probably will just be something we need to deal with in the future. I wish we didn’t have to but I’ve seen it too much lately and it is heartbreaking.

Newest Obsession

I sat down at the computer fully intent on writing something tonight. I ended up blog-surfing again instead. I wonder if it is because I am finding part three of my novel hard to write. Maybe it is a way for me to avoid writing. I don’t know.

All I know is that I am enjoying discovering new blogs. I love reading the thoughts of other writers and posting comments. It is has become my latest obsession. I seems like it is part of my personality to get obsessed with things. I don’t know why I do it, but I think it is something I have always done.

I have gone through intense periods in my life where my focus seemed to be extremely narrow. I have grown and evolved over the years and I think that I have come a long way. I tend not to let myself get as worked up as I used to but sometimes things get a hold of me and I just can’t seem to let go.

Maybe, this obsession has just to do with my situation right now. I am taking advantage of having Internet in the place I am staying at. I am using the Internet a lot more than I have in the past. I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I’m reading and learning things and I am enjoying myself. I just need to remember to take some time to work on my novel or it will never get finished.

Writing…Break…Writing…Movie…Writing

So the ever elusive Part 3 of my novel came together a bit today. I am now up to page 199. I don’t know why this portion of the book has been so difficult to write. Part 1 and 2 seemed to come to me with very little effort.

The story is nearly finished but I keep getting distracted and taking breaks. I didn’t write anything except report cards on Saturday. They are due in two and a half weeks so I wanted to give myself a bit of a head start.

Sunday I wrote a bit in the morning. Then I took a break for lunch, did some reading, and went for a 5 km run. I then got back to the computer but I ended up reading a blog. I did some surfing, found a new artist and wrote a blog entry. I eventually got back to writing my novel and have finished the skateboard competition portion of the story.

I broke for supper and flicked on the television. I watched a movie on the Movie Network just because it was starting during my supper break. It was called Elizabethtown and I knew absolutely nothing about it before I turned it on. After it finished I sat there and let the credits roll. You know it is a good movie when you don’t want to get up right away and do something. I let the credits roll and stayed on the couch. That movie was amazing. It had great writing and I really enjoyed it.

I then got up and turned on the computer again and wrote this blog. So here I am Sunday night typing away. I’m not sure where I’m going with my novel. I really should get back to it. The story should wrap up in the next twenty pages or so. I know that there needs to be an awards ceremony and a coming home type of closure but besides that I’m not exactly sure of the ending. I will figure it out as I type, as long as I don’t get distracted again.

Stelth Bomber

I just discovered this very talented MC today. You need to click on both of these links to hear some amazing hip hop. I think this is some of the best music I have heard coming up from the underground in a long time.

http://www.katklaw.com/stelthbomber/

This link features a banging song about the troops serving overseas in Iraq.

http://www.myspace.com/stelthbomber1

This is his myspace page that has four other songs for you to check out. Please do, I don’t think you will be disappointed if you are a true fan of quality underground hip hop. It reminds me of the early 90s and his tagline mentions the Native Tongues, so you know he is representing real hip hop.

Hip Hop at the Crossroads

XM Satellite Radio ran a special last night called Hip Hop at the Crossroads: A Town Hall Meeting. The show had very notable members of the hip hop community who all spoke frankly about the state of hip hop culture. It was an illuminating program.

I think it is important to keep the lines of communication open and discuss the impact that the music and culture have on society as a whole. It seems that those of us in the hip hop community are always on the defensive. Hip hop is always under attack from people who don’t understand the culture and all the positive things that it has to offer.

I have written extensively about the culture and have added labels so that it will be easier to find the themed entries I have made. I hope that by keeping the lines of communication open that we will be able to solve the problems inherent in the culture. Many of these problems extend well beyond hip hop.

The artist reflects the issues and times of his day, and vice versa. We have a problem in society with harmful words and images. I think that it is our moral responsibility to do something about it. We have a problem with ignorance, violence, sexism, racism, poverty, and mysognism. These are not issues related to rap music. We can not blame hip hop culture for any of these problems.

Part of the problem is that kids connect with this music more so than they do with their parents of their teachers. Chuck D of Public Enemy had a great comment in the 80s. He said that Hip hop was the black CNN. So kids get information from hip hop. They are influenced by lyrics and the lives of the artists they look up to. We reflect these problems of society in our music and some artists will perpetrate the problems further, partly because it sells records.

I think we need to open up the lines of communication. The elders of hip hop need to educate the new up and comers in the industry. We need to educate our kids about lyrics and artists. We need to mentor new artists and allow them a time to evolve and grow. We need to be responsible in all aspects of our culture.

Hip hop is a great art form with a lot of power. MCs have a voice that young kids listen to. Record labels have a responsibility. We as listeners, parents, teachers, etc have a responsibility as well. We need to recognize this power and use it responsibly.

I Failed Today

I promised myself that I would not yell in the classroom today. It was a promise that I was not able to keep. It feels like I failed today.

In a few weeks I will need to start writing report cards. I have been getting quite frustrated lately with my students. It is getting really close to the end of the year and I expect a lot from them. I want them all to do well but the fact is that some of them are not.

I wish school wasn’t about the marks. I wish there was a way I could motivate all of them to do their best all the time. I have a motto for the class that we all try to live by; Be in the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing. I have a banner of this saying in huge letters at the front of the classroom. I teach from it and mention it often. The students know what it means and seem to respond to it.

Today’s journal topic was to write about why it is important to be in the right place at the right time doing the right thing. It should’ve been an easy enough assignment but the students seemed to be sitting frozen to their seats this morning. I had promised myself that I wouldn’t yell so I wrote the opening sentence for their paragraphs on the board today. After a few minutes, most of them had still not come up with an original sentence. I wasn’t sure what the problem was, so I circulated around the room, pointed out the paragraph model poster we have used all year, and tried to get them started.

I finally got all but one student to finish a journal entry today but only after I wrote an example on the board. Some just copied it, some changed it a bit, and a precious few wrote their own original paragraph. And all of this after I had given them double the amount of time they usually had to do it.

Things didn’t go well for the rest of the day either. They were completely unmotivated to do their work. They weren’t listening well to my lessons. I was trying hard to take it all in stride. I made it to 11:45 before I lost my cool and yelled at them. I almost made it the entire morning.
So it feels like I failed today. My students didn’t live up to their potential. They didn’t get much work done today, and I broke a promise to myself. Maybe it was just a bad day.

I enjoy teaching and hope that we have a better day together tomorrow.

p.s. I hope you like the new layout.

Blog Surfing

I have been writing this blog for a few months now and I enjoy it profusely. I love writing entries and posting them up for people to see. I yearn to have readers like I did when I wrote for the university newspaper during my undergrad. Truth be told, I was never a journalist. Writing was just a hobby of mine.

I have written a personal journal for the past ten years and occasionally I will still write an entry in it. For the most part though, this blog has taken the place of that journal. My journal was labelled as personal. This blog is public. I want readers. I long for people to read my words and respond to them.

I have three readers that I know of. All of whom are personal acquaintances of mine. This changed yesterday though when I had several new comments posted up by someone I didn’t know. He posted some very thoughtful and intelligent comments. I surfed to his blog and read some of his posts. I was impressed with his writing too. I have added a link to his blog. Check it out In Search of Isis.

I clicked on a few of his links. I surfed to some recently published blogs and posted up comments. It was a very nice distraction reading all those different entries from different people. I spent an hour and a half doing my blog surfing but time just flew by. My journey took me to some blogs that I had no interest in whatsoever but I was able to find a few good ones.

Here are a few of the ones I enjoyed last night;

http://lorita8307.blogspot.com/
http://toughmindwarmheart.blogspot.com/

Maybe you will enjoy them too. Read on and please interact with your reading by posting a comment. Thank you.

River of Distraction

Part 3 of my novel has been the hardest part for me to write. I worked on it last night for a few hours and got up to page 187.

I’m still house-sitting. I’ve been working on their laptop computer. They also have the Internet here so I have gotten distracted and gone web-surfing a few times this past week. I think I prefer not to have the internet on the computer I use for my writing. It is too much of a distraction.

Last night, I surfed around, doing some research for the skateboard competition part of the story. I didn’t find what I was looking for, but found a few things I wasn’t. The Internet is like a river that takes you from one place to the next. You never know what is around the next corner. It is like an adventure. But more often that not, it seems like it is a journey to nowhere. A River of Distraction. A waste of time, as it were.

The Internet is an amazing tool. It helps me to stay in touch with friends, family, and parents. It allows me to easily research any topic that interests me. It helps me to get materials for my teaching. It allows me to write this and you to read it.

My problem with the Internet is finding the information that I want. If we further the metaphor of the web being a waterway, I think that I need a captain who is familiar with the sea. Search engines are brainless entities that don’t always come up with the hits I would like. Refining my search terms doesn’t always help. I’m not sure what can be done about this. I guess, the only option is to learn the ways of the sea. Problem is that I am a land-lover through and through. I much prefer to stay on dry land.

Positive Hip Hop Promotion

I don’t think enough people are promoting hip hop in a positive nature. It is easy to focus on the negatives but there is a lot more that hip hop has to offer. Last week, I wrote about a reality show that taught about hip hop culture in a respectful and true way. As a teacher I see students everyday in my school that don’t know anything about the culture they are trying to represent. It makes me sad to see that they don’t know the history of this great art form.

I want to teach them about it but some people don’t believe hip hop should be in the schools at all. One person who disagrees with this is Ice-T. He hosted another hip hop reality show called Ice-T’s Rap School. It was a great program where he went to a private school and taught a group of kids everything about hip hop culture. He cultivated a group of kids who had never been exposed to hip hop and formed them into a group who were able to perform and enjoy the culture. It was a great show and I liked the way he handled it.

This is what hip hop needs. It needs teachers because it doesn’t seem to be going in a good direction right now. The youth need to be taught to respect and value this culture before it slips away and gets stolen from us. It could happen. Hip hop was always more than just the music. It has a rich history and should be celebrated.

Save My Favourite Show

CBS has decided not to renew Jericho. It’s a shame because it is the best thing I have seen on television in years. I know that it is extremely difficult to change the network’s mind once it has made a decision. I know this. But I also know that this is a show worth fighting for.

Please go to http://www.jericholives.com/ and sign the petition. I just signed it and was the 28,418th person to do so. Those are pretty good numbers considering that there are probably twice that many fans, at least. People who normally wouldn’t go online and find a site like this should be factored in too.

So I am appealing to the brass at CBS. Please renew Jericho. If you give this show one more season, which I think it needs to effectively tell the story that has been so wonderfully written so far, it will probably go down as one of the best shows ever. I will definitely have to refine my top 5 T.V. shows if the story gets to be completely told with one more season.

Save Jericho on CBS!

Rude Awakening

My dad once told me that locks only keep honest people out. If someone really wants to break in, a lock will not stop them. I know this from experience. Last night was the most recent experience.

I was sleeping over at someone else’s house. They had asked me to house sit while they were out of town. I have no problem doing this as I live with a roommate so my place would not be left alone either. I have house-sat for them before and I quite enjoy it. They have satellite radio and a home theatre system that I take full advantage of while I am over.

The only problem is that I am a bit of a light sleeper. I have been woken up by neighbourhood kids a couple of times over here. They are usually just passing by. So last night when I heard some banging noises, it woke me up but I didn’t pay much attention to it. I tried to go back to sleep. The noises continued for ten minutes and it was unusual so I decided to investigate. I looked out the bedroom window but I couldn’t see anything.

I got out of bed and could hear that the sounds were coming from the basement. I flicked on the light and I could hear movement. I opened the front door and went around the side of the house. Two teenagers were climbing out of the basement window. They ran away quickly when they saw me. I went back in the house and saw one more person scooting out the window.
It was only four o’clock in the morning and quite a rude awakening. I couldn’t get back to sleep after that. The kids were long gone and I don’t think that they will come back but it is still disturbing. I can’t even remember what they look like or what they were wearing so I can’t give a good description to the police. I am not sure if they took anything though because this is not my house and the basement is quite cluttered. There isn’t much I can do at this point.

I felt guilty for not getting up for ten minutes. What if they took a bunch of things in that time? But now, hours later, I feel relieved that I was here so that they didn’t get a lot more. There are a lot of things to tempt thieves here. It’s one of the reasons I like house-sitting for my friends.

So that was my rude awakening this morning. I don’t know if I will be able to sleep well again until my friends return and I can go sleep in my own bed again. I guess I am glad that I was here, that my friends weren’t cleaned out, but I also feel violated. It is not a good feeling at all.

(White) Rapper Show

I don’t normally like the reality show genre. Ego Trip’s The (White) Rapper Show is just the latest in a long line of these shows. The difference about this one is that it is a show that represents hip hop culture in a respectful way. I like the way the word white is in parenthesis. I like that it is hosted by a hip hop icon, MC Serch.

MC Serch is one of only a few white artists to make it in hip hop. He belonged to a legendary group called 3rd Bass, put out a solo album, and started his own Serchlite promotions, all beginning in the 1980s. I have a lot of respect for the guy and appreciate what he has done with this show.

Each episode, Serch teaches the contestants about an aspect of hip hop culture. I am glad to see that there is a show out there doing this. I wish there were more like it. I don’t think that any of the contestants are going to become superstars in the industry, and for some reason I don’t even really care. The show is not like American Idol in any way. The group goes through challenges every week and at the end of every episode, the contestants have to write and perform a rap based on a topic that they are given.

There are other hip hop reality shows on the air but they are just empty. No disrespect at all to Run of Run’s House but I don’t need to see him raising his kids week in and week out. And I also don’t need to see women throwing themselves at the feet of Flavor Flav. These shows don’t represent hip hop or have anything positive to say about our culture. People watch them and I think that it helps to reinforce negative stereotypes that people outside of the culture have about hip hop. People can get all sorts of negatives wherever they look in any of these three shows. But I think that MC Serch is trying to keep it real on this show and is representing true hip hop culture. And for that I applaud him, and I tune in.

Beauty is Everywhere

Beauty is everywhere. It’s hard to see sometimes though because we get so caught up in the daily grind. We seem to be so busy and moving so quickly here and there, doing this and that, that we miss so much.

I remember the first time I saw American Beauty. I was taken by a scene where a boy showed his girlfriend a video of the most beautiful thing he had ever shot. The T.V. came on and showed a plastic shopping bag being blown around by the wind. Of course, this isn’t something that most people would put on a most beautiful list. The character described why he thought it was beautiful. The bag was dancing in the wind by the side of a building. It was captivating to watch, and it reminded me how you can just stare at a fire and the flames as they dance. The bag continued to do its dance for the camera for ten minutes. That is beauty.

On the weekend, I played baseball at the school diamond. At a slow point in the game, I looked over to the school that I work at. It struck me as a beautiful sight. I don’t know why but I stared at it and smiled. Next thing I knew, the ball was flying by me and I had to hustle to make up for my lack of attention. It was also a beautiful day. Beauty was all around me. The last beautiful thing about the game was that my team won. Of course, just sharing this time with friends was also amazing. The whole experience; that was beauty.

My favourite book Heartbeat by Sharon Creech is a beautiful work of art. The words jump off the page. They are so poetic and beautiful. The story is heart-warming. I just love it. I shared it with my class last week as well. I showed them a PowerPoint presentation I had made so that the students could read the words as they came up from the audio CD. It was a lot of work to put that together but it was worth it. The kids seemed to really enjoy it. The audio book, the printed word, and the students’ reactions to it were beautiful.

Music is beauty. Good television shows are beauty. People are beauty, and I just don’t mean the supermodel types. People tend to focus on celebrities when they speak of beautiful people and beauty in general. I think people might have too narrow a definition if they think that way. I am guilty myself at times of this as well. I just hope that I can continue to see the beauty in the everyday grind and not lose that sense of wonder at the things and people around me.

Runnning with Tag-Alongs

There is something about running that is very hard to explain. I absolutely love it. It gives you something that you can’t get any other way. It is a totally freeing activity. I can’t understand why more people don’t run. Don’t they know how good it feels?

I run what is called middle distances. I like running 5 kilometre routes. I know my pace and that distance usually takes me about twenty minutes. I usually run alone but I really enjoy it when I can run with other people. The problem is that when I decide to go for a run, I just go. I don’t need to prepare for it. I don’t need to consult anyone. I just dress up and go.

Yesterday I was doing my warm-up stretches out front of my house and a few of the neighbourhood kids rode up to me on their bikes. I told them that I was going for a run and I told them how far I was going and how long it would take. They asked if they could come along too. I finally had some running partners. Sure they weren’t exactly running but it was nice to have them tag along.

I ran for about five minutes with the two kids following behind me on their bikes. One of them rode up right beside me and kept pace. She asked me if I was tired. I said, “Not yet,” and kept running. She was probably seven years old and her friend was about five. I was worried that they might not be able to keep pace with me but they did.

I enjoyed that run so much. I had to slow down a couple times and double back so I wouldn’t leave the younger boy too far behind. But at the end of our five kilometre route, I think they both enjoyed it as much as I did. It was really nice having those tag-alongs join me on my run.

Happy Mother’s Day

It’s Mother’s Day and I can’t get home to see my mom. I will call her in the morning but it doesn’t feel like enough. So I thought I’d write a tribute to my mom in my blog.

Mom,

Being a mother has to be a difficult job
and one that probably doesn’t come with enough accolades or thanks
So let me say it loud now THANKS
Thanks for making sure I always ate healthy
Thanks for the calls, the care packages, the emails,
the clothes, the presents, the good times.
Thanks for it all.
I appreciate all that you do and just wanted to say that
I hope you have a great day!

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY

Internet Community Violates Privacy

There is a movement spreading through the World Wide Web. It is coming to us from sites such as myspace and facebook. There are hundreds of websites that bring together large groups of people who collectively form a community.

I must confess that I don’t really understand this community movement online. Facebook is one site in particular which baffles me. It is a way to find old acquaintances with ease. I joined it and had a profile up for about a week. I was immediately overrun with friend requests. Most of the people that wanted to add me as a friend were people that I had not spoken to since grade or high school. That feels like an eternity ago.

I checked out the profiles of some of my friends. One of them had 84 friends linked to him. 84 friends? Who has 84 friends? I certainly don’t. I looked at my list and noticed that my “friends” weren’t really my friends. I couldn’t even remember who a few of them were. Maybe we were friends once but I was in no rush to get reacquainted with them. Maybe I am wrong for thinking this. I don’t know.

One of my friends (I can’t remember who she is for the life of me) posted up all of our grade school class photos. She had also identified each person in the photos by name and row. My profile was now linked to these pictures because the website automatically does this. There, on the World Wide Web, were my class photographs; Grade 1-8. I also had a few pictures of me tagged on someone else’s profile and those were also linked to my profile. I found this to be an extreme violation of my privacy. I don’t think, class photos should be on the Internet. It freaked me out. I immediately deleted my profile and wish to have nothing else to do with that site.

I decided to check another online community to see what the appeal of all of this is. Wikipedia is an encyclopaedia that anyone can contribute to by creating new posts or editing existing posts. It is an amazing site that seems to be a great place to find information. From my experience, it has accurate information and it being used by the community it serves in the way that it was intended to. This sort of community, I can understand. Everyone working on entries, researching, or using the site as a research tool are working together for a common goal.

Wikipedia lists hundreds of online communities. It also attempts to explain why people chose to belong to these groups;

Peter Kollock (1999) researched motivations for contributing to online communities. In “The Economies of Online Cooperation: Gifts and Public Goods in Cyberspace”, he outlines three motivations (Kollock:227) that do not rely on altruistic behavior on the part of the contributor:

  • Anticipated Reciprocity
  • Increased Recognition
  • Sense of Efficacy

Okay, this makes sense.

Bullet number one simply means that someone will be motivated to contribute to a group when they believe they will receive useful help or information in return.

Bullet number two is an easy one to understand. Everyone hopes to be recognized and build up a reputation, myself included. Online communities can give someone who would normally have an opportunity to do so, a chance to.

Bullet number three also makes sense. I am sure everyone feels like they need to contribute something, that they can have an effect in their communities. It might not feel like we can have an effect in our physical community sometimes, but online, it just seems easier to manage.

Okay, so my research here has helped me understand this phenomenon a little bit more. I still feel that we might be putting ourselves too out there with these sites that ask for and track our personal identity information. I find it a bit scary that people can use these sites to find out a lot of information about someone. It makes me nervous. There are certain things that I am willing to share. I think we need to be careful out there. It’s a dangerous world even in here on the World Wide Web. I also realize the irony of me discussing this on a blog. But it is a discussion worth having. Let me know what you think.

Jericho

Jericho is a television show that premiered last fall on CBS. From the very first episode I have been hooked on it. It has amazing writing. I don’t know how the writers seem to keep escalating the drama and suspense every week. I am on the edge of my seat week after week and just enjoying the ride.

The show starts off with a nuclear explosion that occurred in Denver. The residents of the small town of Jericho try to cope with the aftermath, but soon discover that Denver was not the only city hit with bombs. The country is thrown into shambles and with communication devices down, Jericho is cut off from the rest of the world. It becomes clear through the season that someone orchestrated the attack and that Jericho might not be safe.

The show ended its first season last night in an extremely emotional episode. It will have me on the edge of my seat until next season. I really hope that this show is picked up for a second season. The show has not been officially renewed yet and it would be a tragedy if it wasn’t. 24 has nothing on this show. If you want edge of your seat suspense and action, check out Jericho. The stories are realistic and plausible, unlike 24. The premise is also very scary.

After other famous works that deal with some of the same subject matter, such as Lord of the Flies, and The Stand, Jericho is a unique television show that deserves to become as much a classic as those two works above. If this series is rerun in the summer, you need to make sure you check it out. You won’t be disappointed.

‘Tis the Season

I am in the process of writing a novel. The working title is 4 Wheels and a Piece of Maple. I thought I was nearly done it when I had an idea on how to format it last night. I looked back at the 150 pages I had written and came to an epiphany. It felt like I needed to break up the story into three parts.

To explain how I got to this point, I think I need to let you in on the story so far. It takes place over a year. It starts with two very different people moving from the city to a small and remote Northern Ontario First Nations Reserve. Together they come to influence a local boy who had never been outside of the community. He takes up skateboarding in a town that doesn’t have paved roads or sidewalks. The town becomes energized by this new sport and a team is formed. The team raises money to go to a tournament in the big city.

That is as far as I have got with the story so far. It is 150 pages long and I was only planning on it being about 180 pages or so. It is a story that I would love to be able to use in the classroom as a read aloud novel. I always meant it to be a junior novel, aimed at 8 to 12 year olds as the main audience. That is why I had a rough idea about how long I wanted it to be. I really like the way the story is going but I am not exactly sure how it is going to end yet.

Last night, I came up with a formatting idea. I was having trouble coming up with the ending and my artificial length that I had intended for the book didn’t seem like it was going to work. I was a bit stalled. I was still writing it but I was looking forward to being done with it. That wasn’t a good feeling. I needed something to keep it fresh and infuse it with some more energy. I looked back at the story and noticed something. Half of the story so far had taken place in the fall and winter, whereas the other half had taken place in the spring. The split was nearly 50/50.

It was a strange coincidence seeing that my story seemed to be totally set and flowing to the natural seasons. The summer competition part of the story lay ahead of me. I then knew what I had to do. I needed to formally break the novel into three parts based on the seasons. I called Part 1 Fall into Something New, Part 2 Spring has Sprung, and Part 3 Summer in the City. It felt perfect and gave me a starting point for the closing act of the novel.

I now know that my novel will need to be longer that I originally intended. I need to tell this story and it feels natural again. I think my story will need to be about 220 pages now. The good news is that I have a new direction and energy that will take me through those pages with ease. The story is writing itself in many ways. It is an amazing feeling and I hope a great story.

You Can’t Do Anything You Want

We always tell our youth that they can do anything, that they can become anything they want to. Is this the right message to give them? It is a lie.

We can’t do anything we want. I know from experience. I have failed at a lot of things that I have wanted to do. It doesn’t mean that I quit. It means that I dust myself off, pick myself up and try again. If I continue to fail, it serves as a wake-up call and I just know that I am not meant to do that activity. This isn’t a failure.

If we perpetrate the notion that children can achieve anything they desire we might actually be doing them a disservice. We set them up for failure. They will fail and they will think that they are a failure because they should’ve been able to do anything. They won’t come to realize the lie for quite some time and it will be a blow to their sense of self-worth.

I came to this realization when I was watching Gilmore Girls this week. Rori graduated college and was unable to get a job in her field. It sent her into a downward spiral and she had a bit of a melt down. When her mother tried to cheer her up, she just yelled at her and said, “It’s all your fault. You told me I could do anything.”

Interesting, isn’t it? Now I know that this was fiction but I can understand why someone might actually feel that way and say that to their mother. So instead of telling kids that they can accomplish anything, maybe we should tell them that they have a purpose. They will need to find it out themselves. They need to work hard and discover what it is that they are meant to do.

I think life is a journey and that everyone can find something that they are good at. I happen to feel mediocre at a lot of the things I do. I can do things, however average, and have accomplished a lot in my relatively short time on this planet. I am sure I will accomplish a lot more, but it is not because my parents told me I could do anything. It is because they had faith in me. They had patience to let me figure things out on my own. And lastly, they always supported me. That’s what kids need; honesty, faith, patience, and support. Let’s give them that and I’m sure they will find their way in this world.