Saturday, July 9, 2016

I Am Tired.

I was sitting stopped for a train today and I got to thinking what an amazing thing it is that Americans built all those tracks that connect us to one another, and that the train tracks in a sense belong to all of us,. What an accomplishment it was to lay those tracks! Then for some reason it hit me that I am very tired. What happened to the days when we did big things in our country and most so many folks pitched in and from which everyone benefited? This made me sad.. I am also worried. I am sad, I am tired and I am worried.  These things keep me from fully appreciating all the great things about our country.

I am tired of all the hatred. I am tired of so much violence. I am tired of the news cycle that serves up a constant stream of bad news. There is always bad news. If we don’t have big horrific events like the ones last week, we are still bombarded with bad news like some local story about a troubling event states away from us, or how some movie star talked trash about some other star. These days we are hooked together by media while we let our train tracks sink into disrepair. I am tired of bigotry currently in vogue so that people who once kept their dark sides to themselves now think it is OK and maybe even patriotic to speak and act with hatred. I know much of this comes from fear, and I am tired of the fear that is all to often whipped up by the media and shamefully by people who hold or seek positions of leadership. I am sick and tired of politicians putting their spin on terrible news before the bodies have even been identified. I am tired of all of it. I am tired of all of this and more. There is always more.

Also I am worried. I am worried about our country and the way people have been misled and encouraged to act out their anger and fear with words and all too often with deeds. I am worried about the safety of my daughter and all the family of GLBT folks . I worry that she will  get yanked out of some public ladies room because she has short hair and does not wear dresses or bows . I worry about people who are black or brown or who wear ethnic clothing that sets them apart  from stereotypes of how we “should” dress and act. Why are we fighting about who get so pee and where? Most of all I worry about this generation of children and young people.  I worry about the  violence. I worry about kids who are bullied and also about the bullies. I worry about kids who live in fear of their parents being deported. I am tired of kids who have to live in neighborhoods where hearing shots outside their homes is a common nightly experience. I am tired of all the guns and how they are used all too often for violent means. How can we expect kids to grow up to be kind and respectful and tolerant when they see the same news that adults see and also encounter violence and hatred in their own schools, families and neighborhoods?

I am sad because I don’t have any answers as to how to ratchet down all this discord. I am tired and worried and sad. Is this the new reality? I don’t want to ever get used to that notion. People need to get themselves under control and then help their neighbors, kinfolk, and even strangers. We all need more love and less hatred. But how? That is a question without an answer. But maybe Merle Haggard was on to something when he wrote this song:

Maybe could try to do that.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Bad Case of Trip Proud

Whoa I have a bad case of "trip proud" right now. I am headed to Monterey CA! If you are not familiar with this old time country term, here are links to entries where I have talked about it before:
I always get weird before a trip. I am not sure why today's feeling is heightened but it may be due to the fact that I did not do much advance preparation, plus we are in the middle of weather alerts. It's a sad fact that Central and Southeast Texans are jumpy about major rain after the Memorial Day 2015 floods, from which we are still recovering. There's every chance for travel delays as this storm rolls in
but we're headed out a day early so there's really no need for alarm. The rest of my mood comes from getting everything together. What shoes? Do I have all my tech toys? Cords??? Connectors? Sketching supplies? Books? I am presenting on sketchnoting so carrying along some materials to show. Despite the rain we are going to have to head out shortly for a quick trip to town for meds, cleaning, and a couple other things (cough, liquor store, cough). Probably when that's done I'll put the final touches on my packing and feel much better. That's my usual modus operandus.

But will I sleep well tonight? Probably not. I never do find it easy to sleep before a trip, especially when there is an early departure as will be the case for us this time. By this time tomorrow afternoon we will be in Sunny California though, and then my stress will schlep over into pre-preso nervousness. Thankfully I present early on the very first day, so after that I can sit back and relax to enjoy all the other sessions. And like always, I know I will find lots to learn and inspire at this conference. I always do...and this is my 11th straight year. See you there?

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

School Starting Rant

I got home from a day in my office, highlighted by a faculty meeting. Tomorrow is the first class day at SHSU. That means our online students will be able to access our classes for the first time, and we can start getting to know them. It's exciting and fun! I came home and admitted to myself that I had been building up to a rant for a couple of days. Fortunately, I do not rant all that often but this one refused to get out of my head so I am sharing:

I love the beginning of school. In my previous life as a classroom teacher I had some fun getting-to-know you activities for students and looked forward to the fresh faces. As a school librarian it was even more fun to stand out in the hall and greet students, both the returning kiddos and the fearful first-timers. I confess that I can still get a bit excited even though now my first day (and subsequent ones) is online. I love getting to know my amazing, motivated, graduate students. They are a special breed.

This week I’ve had fun seeing all the wonderful pictures posted by teachers, parents, and grandparents. There are so many cute ideas for ways to denote your special student’s grade and first-day excitement, which does wane humorously with some teens looking either pained or indulgent about the fuss made over them. On the first day of school everybody says such positive things. Teachers get high praise and lots of people offer prayers for both students and teachers. This is all great!

But…and if you know me you knew there was a “but” coming, could we have some love and praise throughout the year? Wouldn’t be great if ALL parents bent over backwards to encourage their students and back up the teachers? How about if all parents made sure their kids were prepared for school and on time every day? Of course I’m preaching to the choir because my online Facebook friends'  postings that I see are by folks that will do these things, so thanks in advance.

And here’s what I really wish. Could we stop electing people who don’t support public schools and teachers? Could we not even let someone progress after saying he’d like to punch teachers in the face? Could we vote for people who GET IT RIGHT about education? Frankly that’s a tall order. Our present administration has, in my opinion, dropped the ball here—or rather passed it off to Arne Duncan. Could we at least refrain from voting for those who clearly want to do away with public schools, who heap scorn upon teachers, who are out to make a buck for themselves or their cronies through educational testing and review products, and who advocate cutting already cut-to-the-bone funding? Could we? That’s my school year wish, in this important year as we move toward nominating our next president. Have a great year everybody! I plan to!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


I find it interesting that both Monday and Tuesday’s keynotes focused on the same word…DELIGHT! It is a point well taken that libraries and librarians should seek to offer delightful experiences and opportunities to patrons, students, and the general public. FUN should be a priority along with other more traditional values. I think there are a number of ways to do this, including special events and programs, maker spaces, coffee bars, author visits, and collaboration with student/local/academic groups and organizations. I just finished a stay at a boutique hotel in DC, The Quincy. We were greeted at the cab and ushered in by a friendly greeter/concierge. This wonderful fellow accompanied us to our room, explaining on the elevator all the special services and spaces in the hotel. Every time we re-entered the lobby we got that same warm friendly welcome. There were comfortable chairs and shelves with books to read and games to play. It was a bit of a cross between a traditional hotel and a B&B. Then we moved to a very nice, expensive, conference hotel, which is also very traditional. You have to pay for Internet access. Folks there are nice but not in the warm personal manner of the Quincy staff. Guess where we will stay if we return?

Every term I try to focus on one goal with my students, in additional to the expected duties of a prof. This term I vowed to be more encouraging. I really bent over backwards to work with students who were plying me with questions, remembering especially with brand new students what a culture shock it is to become a student after years as a teacher. I now have my focus for next term: DELIGHT! I am going to try extra hard to provide DELIGHT to students. We need to have more fun!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Trip Prep Sketchnote

I am fortunate to be able to go to Washington DC with my BFF for sightseeing before the conference. We are leaving tomorrow! Since my presentation is about sketchnoting, I am going to be sharing notes throughout the conference. It's a great opportunity to get in some practice and also a great way to share what you are taking away from sessions. Here is my preliminary sketchnote about getting ready to go. Sketchnoting is combining taking notes with doodling! Do a web search and you will see how very popular this practice has become in recent years. It really grew out of the business world but I think it's a perfect fit for librarianship and education.

PS I wrote this a couple of days before leaving for DC. I just forgot to publish it, so I decided to go ahead with it after the fact. 


This session, via Internet@School Track, really resonated with me. I have played around with Hour of Code a couple of times, in a very disultory fashion. It has been something that never quite hooked me in as a topic to pursue in depth. I think part of the reason has been the face that I am NOT a logical person. My left brain must be pretty neglected. Also, I could not see how I personally would use it as a public school teacher or as a professor preparing school librarians. So I chalked it up as something cool that I might look into but....likely not. This presentation made me really think again. It provided a raft of resources online that I want to explore and share with students. It gave me ideas for using with students. One of my favorite ideas was to create an animated poem. Several of the apps shared are ones I want to at least sample. These include:
Raspberry Pi
Lightbot (seems easiest and thus my first planned foray)

Hour of Code....I'm coming back to you!!


What a day! A keynote and five sessions. Anybody else feeling a bit of brain drain? I am heading down to the lobby for a nice beverage shortly. They have something called Modern Mule on the menu and I had one last night. Tasty. The great thing about today's sessions was that they were all very different with no real overlap. I am staying put in the Internet@School track because that is where I present and also it best meets my needs. And before that was the keynote, Steve Denning. His message, that we should strive to delight customers, can apply to patrons, students, colleagues, and superiors. It was a great kick-off for the day. Here is my sketchnote for that presentation: