Monthly Archives: May 2014

The Walking Dead: Rebuilding Society

the walking dead volume 15

The Walking Dead: Volume 15 – We Find Ourselves

In the last volume of this on-going series, Rick had an epiphany. He realized that fighting to survive wasn’t enough. Rebuilding society by creating a close-knit community was the only way to go.

In this volume, the community is running really low on supplies and it looks as though they might not have enough food to last the winter.  There is a little unrest in the community but Rick manages to mend bridges and it looks like things must just hold together.

Walking Dead Volume 16

The Walking Dead: Volume 16 – A Larger World

A man with incredible fighting skills shows up and tells the survivors that they aren’t the only community around. Rick is immediately suspicious and takes every precaution. But it turns out that society is starting to put itself back together. There are other communities and they want to establish regular trade routes between them.

The story ends with the very hopeful words, “This changes everything, can’t you see that? We can finally stop surviving . . . and start living.”

wd96

It’s nice to see that they might finally have a happy ending. That being said, rebuilding society might be a little harder than Rick imagines right now.

My 2014 Reading Log – a list of everything I read this year

The Divergent Series Concludes with Allegiant

Divergent Book 3

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

The first book of this series was absolutely incredible. I loved every minute of the page-turner and didn’t want to put it down.  I looked forward to reading more.  The second book wasn’t as good, in my humble opinion, but I still enjoyed the read and looked forward to the conclusion of this epic tale.

I just finished reading the third book and I have to say that it really let me down. I didn’t like it from the very start. It radically changed the way the story was told and I had a hard time getting into this change of perspective.

I don’t know why Roth decided that Four needed to narrate some of the story. In the first two books, all the narration was done by Tris. In this third volume, she and he alternate chapters.  I found that oft-putting. I really just wanted to hear the story from Tris’ point of view.

In this third book, we find out more about factions and what the purpose of their walled city actually was. I have to admit, that I didn’t see that coming at all.  That was a welcome surprise. I actually yelled at the book a few times and cheered. I know that sounds weird, but I did. I wasn’t sure what to expect when they travelled outside of the city-walls, but it sure wasn’t that.

I’m being careful not to give away any spoilers here. I know people who are still reading it. I have talked to several people who have all managed to stay tight-lipped about the plot as I worked my way through the series. That’s important for this story and I appreciate it. So there won’t be any spoilers here.

The ending of this book didn’t quite do it for me. The narration continued long after the story could have ended. It seemed to drag on. I also didn’t like a story point at the resolution that I will avoid from revealing.

Overall, I think this is a good series. The writing is sharp, the characters are well-developed, and there is a message to the whole thing. What did you think of the series?

Book 1Divergent
Book 2Insurgent
Book 3 – Allegiant

My List of 2014 Reads – 20 Books and Counting!

When Will I Ever Use This Stuff?

Learn ThingsIt’s normal for students to question why they are learning a specific skill or subject in school.

It might even be normal to dismiss a particular learning opportunity out of hand by assuming that it will never serve a useful purpose.

But, as teachers we need to remember that . . . 

“Even if we aim to teach only what will be useful to them in the future, we need to make sure that we consider all of their possible futures.”

I have learned so many things in my life that I have been able to apply outside of the original intent. And things I assumed would never come in handy, have indeed, been a blessing. I hope to impart that lesson on my students.

It might be useful later . . .

“We therefore need to teach some things that are not immediately useful, or that may never have been useful to us personally, in order that they find a use later, or at least create the opportunity for them to become useful.”

This is a key fact. Things that we might not consider to be useful can have huge implications for our students. We can learn with them. That is always my goal in education.

And, of course, Art matters . . . 

“Learning about art is not ostensibly useful unless one is to become an artist or work in the creative industries, yet without individuals outside of these spheres who have an appreciation of art such industries would not exist.”

I would argue that everyone should learn about art. We live in an artistic age and art encompasses our daily lives. Everyone can work on some form of art, whether it be, visual art, music, or some form of media.

“It is beneficial to learn about things we will never directly apply for the simple reason that it helps us to appreciate and understand the world that we live in, and ourselves. “

In helps us gain insight . . . 

“We often gain the most from that which has the least practical use, for it is this that encourages us to think.”

And encourages us to think . . . 

The inspiration for this blog post came from the book . . .

Thinking Teacher book

The Thinking Teacher by Oliver Quinlan.

So far this book has been a great read. I will write a review of it when I have finished reading it. And probably a future Teaching Tip Tuesday post or two.

Teaching Tip Tuesday  Archive – Over 100 great tips, tricks, lessons, and resources.

The Console for My TARDIS

Last year, I built a life-sized TARDIS.

This year, I wanted to expand on it a little bit further by creating the control room.

The TARDIS is bigger on the inside so this console room will be a completely separate build. It won’t be housed inside the Public Call Box you see above.

My first challenge was to build the cylinder that sits atop the hexagonal base.

tardis_console_room_2012

I couldn’t find a large, clear plastic tube that would work. I searched for a suitable compromise for a long time.

Plastic Fencing

Finally, I came upon this plastic fencing and thought that I could use it to make the cylinder.

Console Cylinder

I used my old 13-inch snare drum casing to wrap the fencing around and keep it in place.

Snare Drum Base

I then used cable ties to secure the cylinder since it stands about four feet high.

TARDIS Console Centre

Lastly, I used tube Christmas lights and ran them up and down the fencing in five straight lines. I secured them with cable ties as well.

That’s just STEP ONE of my TARDIS Console Room build. Check back soon to see how I create the hexagonal base, switches, and controls.

Hopefully, this summer, I will have a short fan film to share with you as well.

Amazing Hip-Hop Book – The Big Payback

The Big Payback

The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop by Dan Charnas

I’ve wanted to write a book about hip-hop history for some time now. This is the book that I wanted to write. It’s simply brilliant. It’s captivating. And it’s a page-turner.

Dan Charnas weaves a narrative  to illustrate the growth of hip-hop music from the 1940s right up to the present day. It reads like a story even though this is a work of non-fiction.

And the title lives up to its name. It’s no small feat to tell this huge story. That’s why the book clocks in at just under 700 pages. But it is such a compelling read that it never feels like a chore. I whipped through this book in three weeks.

Here is some of the knowledge that gets dropped in this amazing book . . .

Hip-Hop didn’t start out as a recorded music form. 

Rick “Rubin was shocked by how much better hip-hop was in person than record. The cutting by DJs like Jazzy Jay and performances by MC crews like the Treacherous Three exploded from the stage . . . Their gigs sounded nothing like their records, which by comparison sounded liked canned disco music with a bit of rap thrown on top. Live hip-hop, to Rick’s surprise rocked!”

Pioneers like Rick Rubin brought that live energy to hip-hop recordings and forever changed the game. 

“Rubin wanted to conjure something that he hadn’t yet heard in a rap record – parity between DJ and MC, in the same way that rock records might feature the singer and lead guitarist equally.  So Rubin arranged breaks in T La Rock’s lyrics, and in the spaces had Jazzy Jay cut not one, but two turntable parts – playing off each other almost as a rock band might have rhythm and lead guitar. Last, Rick Rubin gave equal billing to T La Rock and Jazzy Jay.”

For the love of the art!

“Other record companies made rap records for money.” But Rick Rubin helped create a company to make” an implicit statement . . .  [that] Def Jam’s name and packaging made a novel promise: it would be a label by and for hip-hop fans.”

Rick Rubin is one of the hip-hop pioneers who truly cared about the art more so than the business of hip-hop.

Of course, hip-hop is a huge business and it has taken all sorts of twists and turns in becoming the dominant culture of popular music today.

I really enjoyed this book and I think you will do. It’s a must read for any hip-hop fan!

My 2014 Reading Log  – continually updated with every new book I read this year

The Governor is a Monster

The Walking Dead TPB Volume 8

The Walking Dead: Volume 8 – Made to Suffer

The Governor launches an all-out war against the small band of survivors who have built themselves a home and safe community in the midst of a zombie apocalypse.

The band manages to hold their own for a little while, but there are casualties on both sides. Things turn tragic and the prison becomes a home that they need to abandon.

The Walking Dead Vol 9-Here We Remain

The Walking Dead: Volume 9 – Here We Remain

In the after-math of the war for the prison, the survivors find themselves separated once again. Rick falls ill and his son, Carl is left to his own devices. It’s a powerful way to start off this edition of the on-going series and it gets quite heart-wrenching

The survivors come back together and meet up with another small group. These new survivors are heading for Washington and one of them claims that when they get there, he will be able to set things straight. He has classified information about how the zombie menace started and what can be done about it scientifically.

They join forces and start their journey towards Washington.

 My 2014 Reading Log (with links to every book I read this year)

Random Name Generator for Your Smartboard

Random Name Generator

This is a great way to pick students randomly.

You can select the number of students you have in your class and then type out each name. When you click “Select,” the computer clicks through several names with a cool sound effect and then it selects just one.

Macy

One of the best features of this program is that once a name has been selected, it won’t be selected again if you click “No Repeat.”

This way, if you save this file at the end of every day, you can make sure to have called on every student in your class before moving on to something else.

Download the Random Name Generator for free (Notebook file for Smartboard)

Teaching Tip Tuesday Archive – over 200 great tips!

Star Trek Model

Star Trek Model Kit

Both my dad and I had one of these. He painted his white and I painted mine grey. We then hung them from the ceiling using thread so they looked like they were in flight.

I also had a Romulan Bird of Prey just off the bow of this ship too. I always imagined that they were engaged in battle.

Sometimes I miss those days and my old bedroom. And I definitely miss my dad. It was nice building models with him. We had a hobby shop within walking distance of our house and we visited it often.

Those were the days!

It’s Not Garbage . . . It’s Beautiful Music!

I saw this documentary a few years back and was completely blown away by how music and instruments were brought to one of the most impoverished areas I had ever seen.

Last week, I was able to see The Recycled Orchestra in person and it was awe-inspiring.

The violin and flutes sounded absolutely perfect. I don’t know how they manage to construct these instruments out of garbage and have them sound that good.

The cello is constructed out of a 30 gallon oil can. They tried to use a smaller can and found that it couldn’t take the pressure and weight of the strings.

The saxophone was made out of an eaves-trough downspout.

It’s nice to see that in an area where people have to live at the dump and go through the trash just to survive, that music can flourish there too.

You can find out more from the Global Family Foundation’s website. 

My New Radio Show – Midnight Marauders

Image - Midnight Sky by Arty-Farty018 via Deviant Art
Image – Midnight Sky by Arty-Farty018 via Deviant Art

I can now be heard on the London, airwaves. I’m taking over the Midnight Marauders Radio Program for the entire summer.

It broadcasts out of the Western University campus in London, Ontario, Canada on 94.9 fm. You can also listen, stream, and download the shows from the CHRW radio website. Or use the Tune In App on your phone or your desktop to listen live.

Midnight Marauders will return in the fall with the regular hosts. Hopefully by then, my show Word is Bond Rap Radio will be premiering on the station as well.

Stream my first show with the player below or download it for free.

And get ready for tonight’s brand new episode!

LISTEN TONIGHT for your chance to Win a Platinum Pass to the NXNE music festival. This is a $1,200 prize with all access tickets to the hottest concerts June 13th – June 22 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Midnight Marauders
Thursdays at Midnight – 2:00 a.m. Friday Morning
Real Hip-Hop Music and Talk with Chase March

Thanks for listening!