Short Trick or Treat blog…
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This is my 52nd Halloween on this planet. It is however probably only the 45th or 46th that I actually remember. One year I remember going as a football player (heavily wounded during the game) but I think I was 8. I enjoyed the concept of getting candy but never really spent a lot of time actually on my costumes.

Now my kids are a different story. My favorite all time year was when we lived in Cincinnati Ohio and Barb and the boys went as the Cat in the Hat and Thing 1, and Thing 2. Although Luke, as Thing 2 wishes to point out all these years later that it was a numerical ranking nor a birth order thing and instead they should have been called Thing 1 and Thing A.

The kids used to get costumes that my mother made – some of them were really amazing over the years. Lions, Bears and Blue the Dog were examples (my mother is very creative.)

Now they are all just grouchy teenagers although my beanie will not be a teenager much longer (20 days in fact counting today).

Time is give to children and stolen from parents.


Hurricane Sandy – 2012
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We survived the Hurricane. Seems no matter where we live there is always bad weather. I guess that says something although is it about me or simply that no matter where you go there is some form of bad weather.

The winds last night were amazing. At one point during dinner we all looked up and realized that in fact we probably shouldn’t have been eating in the dining room (2 windows – plus the family room has many more than that and there is nothing between the family room and the dining room except air – and air doesn’t stop flying glass shards effectively.

Dylan doesn’t like the wind much. I can’t tell if he was abused or was basically outside on his own for extended time periods. He is very much of a lap dog versus an outdoor dog, but he does loving being outside. Except of course during storms, then he wants to find a safe place and hunker down.

It was kind of fun having everyone home yesterday. I am looking forward to thanksgiving when that happens again.

By the way for anyone interested my mother’s name is Sandy. We called her on Saturday and said “the news said you were coming on Monday.” After yesterday that just isn’t as funny as it was on Saturday.


Another Shameless Review–Kestrel 4500
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In the movie Journey to the Center of the earth the hero’s of the story use a portable weather device to monitor wind speed and the overall temperature as it increases. I am a huge fan of the Kestrel devices in that space – the use AA batteries which unlike some of the others makes them much easier to leverage in emergency weather situations.

The 4500 comes in a couple of colors (olive to blend and camo to blend even more). The include a lanyard for ease of carrying (around your heck). Even with two AA batteries the device weighs less than 10 oz so it isn’t a burden.

It comes with altimeter, barometer, wind gauge and a thermometer. I have tested mine at –3 degrees Fahrenheit and today 38 mile an hour sustained wind. It worked very well in both cases.

There are a number of devices in this field but the Kestrel stuff is top quality.

  • They are easily hand held or worn around your neck
  • The screen is bright and easily read day or night (really important)
  • There is no mistake when they are on or off.
  • Power button is recessed so you don’t accidently power the device on
  • shock resistant (as much as anything can be)

I have to admit prior to my ringing endorsement of this particular product that I am a weather geek. I’ve had a weather station in my house (and hand) for more than 10 years. That said I highly recommend the Kestrel device family (they have a number of models and options.) Personally I like the 4500 series but they do have a number of other options as well.


What you do means more than what you say.
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It is my personal belief that everyone is equal until they prove otherwise. For me the only way to prove you aren’t equal is to try to prove you are more equal (for all the fans of Napoleon the pig out there). I’ve spent years working with many people who were more equal. Or at least spent a lot of time trying to prove they were not equal. I have put together the table below (what they say, what they mean) to show people that I caught what was going on. Plus, it’s a great review exercise.

What They Say What it really means
You don’t need to have a college degree to be successful I don’t have a college degree.
We did this before Last time I tried I failed. I suspect since I am not supporting you you will fail this time as well.
There is a better way You are doing this wrong
Let me explain (again) how I do this. My way is the only way, please stop trying to do this another way you are only embarrassing me.
What I meant to say was (hell its your problem your feelings got injured but I will happily pretend to care a little).
In public they say one thing In private they say something a lot nastier.


You run into people who are better than you all the time (really, just ask them). You can identify them because their jokes are always at your expense (which is ok – if you also make fun of yourself). They always tell you how to do things and then are shocked when you do them differently. They say things to you that they would never say to their boss. In fact, if you are in the room with them and their boss things are said completely differently than they are one on one.

Like Ego Towers it pays to avoid people like this.

Good luck though. I find they are often everywhere.


Ego Towers from the other side…
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On my serious blog (not that I am not serious here, this just tends to be more of a personal style blog rather than my other blog which tends to aim for more professional topics) I’ve been talking about Ego Towers.

We all have egos. We all to a degree build Ego Towers. The one that impacts us the most in our personal lives is the “can’t be wrong” tower. Over time people establish communications patterns. When those patterns change there can be issues. One of the issues is if the new pattern of communication is negative (the can’t be wrong syndrome). We can all be wrong.

So the can’t be wrong tower impacts you when you are looking. The problem with Ego Towers is that people build them. I suspect no one sets out in heir life to build one. We do however all build one. In my other blog I talk about the concepts of an Ego House (that we all have – I suspect while a little negative the Ego House would be the pattern) and the Ego Tower (the negative or Anti-pattern). You build your Ego Tower right on the foundation of your Ego House so you don’t actually have to move.

Ego Towers are risky for other people in that they don’t move. You see a give and take in the process we call communication. An acceptance that both sides have merit and then moving from there.

You run into Ego Towers at interesting times. They can destroy a meeting agenda. They write interesting documents that focus on what they have done to promote themselves. They use the word we. We usually means a collection of people focused on the same problem, issue and sometimes we is family and friends. We isn’t a term used to describe what an Ego Tower is doing, but they do that all the time.

There is a great song from the 1990’s from the Spin Doctors called “Little Miss Can’t be wrong.” It is the concept that I found many years ago in building out the Ego Tower Communication anti-pattern.

Anyway – nothing else came to mind today so I carried over a theme from my other blog.


The journey begins right here…
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Reflection for today:

The mountain is high and the river is wide. We can’t go around them as it adds miles to our journey so what do we do? We dam the river and build an airplane to fly over the mountain.


There is an old adage that the journey of 1000 steps begins with the first step. The problem with the adage is that in reality the journey begins with a direction, then a plan to get there, then 1000 steps. Any journey of 1000 steps gets you no where. 1000 steps is about 1/2 a mile. You can walk in an infinitely increasing loop and end up where you started (or within the 12 feet of a GPS signal). In as much as the journey as it is the destination.

The length of that journey is less important when you consider the destination. Coming up in the next two months are the business family traveling seasons of the year. Thanksgiving where you go home to see your loved ones and Christmas/New Year where you do the same thing. The destination then is home. Or a place that may have been home at one time. Or a place where your family lives now that was never home for you. The destination in that case is family.

There are other journeys we take. The infamous journey of self-discovery is the largest single section in the book store (or so it seems to me). We have career paths and we of course consider that a journey. We have our spiritual journey’s that take us to where we are comfortable with what we believe. We have a personal health journey. We have the journey wrapped around our children.

In the end we have many journey’s that encompass many more than 1000 steps each. None of them require that first step be taken but to get to the destination you have to take that first step.

I prefer the Mary Poppins version of this “well begun is half done.”


To be equal…
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And I choose the path less taken and am all the wiser for it.

Seems an easy thing. Choose the path that isn’t beaten down, isn’t trampled, isn’t filled and littered with the bodies of failure and the corpses of those that tried but in the end didn’t have enough to take it all the way.

Take the path less trod.

It’s a line I’ve used for years, in my book Transitional Services it is the poem I end the book with. Not that books should end with poems but that I choose to end my book with the lines immortal of Robert Frost.

You see in those words there is more than a cautionary tale. There are many other cautionary tales from various artists over the years. Kansas wrote “All we are is dust in the wind.” Neil Young wrote “It doesn’t mean that much to me, to mean that much to you.” All stories of what happens when we forget that we are on a journey together.

Its about equality.

Looking at the person nearest you with the thought that person is your peer, your “homey” your equal. Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote “Mine is not to reason why.” It really isn’t.

We are as equal as we allow others to be.


My 1 month iPhone Shameless Review update!
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A month with the iPhone 5.

First thing, don’t turn on your GPS when you are in buildings, it seeks signal all day long and at the end of the day when you need to talk to someone you better have an emergency charging device. Because you aren’t talking to anyone on low battery. That was my hard lesson of yesterday.

What I really like:

  • screen is amazing
  • All my apps from my old iPhone just work
  • I didn’t restore a backup of my old phone so I did the full setup experience, which is very nice and quite simple
  • call quality is excellent even on the metro
  • I love the new iteration of visual voicemail from AT&T

What I am a little annoyed by

  • I stopped being an apple guy in 1996 and wasn’t one for 15 years. Part of that was employment but part of that was frustration with the closed market Apple had created. So without a doubt what bugs me the most? The fact that Apple keeps a close lid on the lightening connectors. It is freaking annoying to not be able to connect to anything without an adapter.
  • PS I am also frustrated by the connector change.

Long term it was a great idea to upgrade. The phone is simply that much better. I have only had to reset the device (power off not factory reset) twice in the past thirty days and both of those were newbie issues (one was turning off a background application that I should have had on yesterday the other was simply not getting signal in an area I’ve always gotten signal before so I turned it off and back on again to reset the connection to AT&T.)

My impression remains that Apple gets fit and finish. The application market continues to grow and flourish which makes the device better every single day.


Just kind of Tuesday…
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Interesting fact both of my blogs have more than 13,000 unique visitors. I suspect that everyone who reads my blog is unique – but then I guess we are to some degree. More than 79,000 views of my blog so each of the visitors actually comes back more than once.  I wonder if that is a testament to having something to say or that I have simply said everything over and over and different people are reading it (that is not a question that requires an answer).

A few follow-on reviews:

  • I had a chance to show off the Labquest device again – it really resonates with kids and adults. It has to be the easiest measurement device I’ve ever seen. Add to that the ability to connect it to your PC and create controlled measured experiments and it is a great tool. I suspect eventually the device will take off as a data center tool as well. Today it is built as an educational tool but tomorrow it will become a lot more than that. Its cool technology.
  • I was looking at my Active Words cost savings (check out the program it really rocks ) I have save over 100 dollars worth of time this month (and I set my time at $10 an hour – so it is 10 hours of saved time). It’s a very impressive program I just wish I could install it on my work PC. I suspect I would benefit even more if I could.
  • I still love the ihealth Blood Pressure monitor. I check my pressure every day now – its still in the good range (122 over 80). The device is really easy to use although it does have the 30 pin connector so I don’t use my iPhone 5 anymore I use my iPad to capture and measure my pressure.
  • I have a few upcoming reviews of some new technology items – watch for them in the next couple of months!



The constant learner
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Being a teacher is a tough job. You spend day after day helping kids and often you fail as often as you succeed. When you send a child home and they don’t eat until they come back to school the next morning its hard for them to focus on reading and maintaining the skills they need to be successful in a classroom – it isn’t survival to succeed in a classroom.

At the time I was a teacher I believe in the art of the possible. (I stole that description from a very smart person I work with now). Possible meant that you could do anything. I used to use model rockets with 2nd grade students as a way to teach two subjects, advanced math and science. I had the kids spend time figuring out where they thought the rocket would land based on the weather conditions the day of the launch.

I had a mother tell my principal I ran a sexist classroom because I took girls outside with the boys to launch the rockets (and it was cold). My principal just smiled and said he would talk to me. He just told me to be fair and do indoor activities as well. Which we did, I never wanted any child in my classroom to be at a disadvantage.

Had I in my hands what I have now – I suspect I would still be teaching.

There are rocket simulation packages that allow you to add not only the math – but planning against the burn rate of a model rocket the lift, potential maximum height and potential range. You can do the math on the board, and then redo in the program to not only validate but to begin the broader concept of testing assumptions. For example, one year we launched a model rocket with a nose cone that had a hinged door. We put things of various weight in the nose cone (never anything that was alive – ever. Although both the boys and girls wanted to send various living things up). With the new programs you can actually begin to do even more. We never got the camera rocket – it was more than the measly 100 dollar budget I had could afford. Plus it only took 10 pictures and it was expensive to develop the pictures. Now with digital camera’s you can take video of your rocket’s trip.

From computers to improved model rockets teaching science to 2nd graders would be a blast now. What would I stock that classroom with?

  • Cubicle walls inside the room so that there could be a loud side and a quiet side of the room.
  • Comfy pillows and Kindle Fires for the kids to read on.
  • A Wikipedia station in the corner.
  • A reward station that had lots of free books for the kids to take home.
  • A science station featuring the Vernier Labquest products (simply the most amazing devices ever!
  • A weather station for the kids to see what the current conditions outside were.

The only cost for this classroom? Four PC’s, four Labquest’s and four Kindle Fire’s. Simply put an inexpensive room. Heck you could even go so far as to say a Kindle for each kid with their text books on it. Cheaper for electronic text books anyway.

Teaching and learning should become a state of innovation. The teacher and the students striving to learn more about the world around them. To create a concept I call “the constant learner.”