Monday, January 31, 2011

Media of the Week - Mashup #2 - Soul of Fireflies

Pin It What do you get when you cross Train and Owl City?


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Media of the Week - A Week of Mashups

Pin It This week I'm going to be doing something a little different with 'Media of the Week.' For the next seven days I'm going to present you with an uplifting, upbeat, and fun mashup. Each of these posts will run at 6:00 AM so that you will have a little somepthin-somepthin' to start your day off right.

Welcome to a week of mashup media...

Friday, January 28, 2011

Preferences on Commenting

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I have to ask the question.

What do you prefer, the old comment forum (such as this one) or the one I launched about a week ago?

I'm considering just going back to the standard version.

What do you think?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What do I Write? 101 Ideas for the Bloggingly-Challenged

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There are times when I have great difficulty in trying to find something to write about. I know that others face this same dilemma from time to time so I decided to put together a list of 101 ideas that may (or may not) help to cure you of your own blogging block.
  1. Write a tutorial – Tell your readers how to do something.
  2. Write a review about someone else’s blog that you like.
  3. Invite your readers to submit a post for your blog.
  4. Ask your readers what they’d like to hear about from you.
  5. Write about a favorite childhood memory or two.
  6. Do a post that answers your readers’ questions.
  7. Create a post that solves a problem.
  8. Write about something you find to be inspirational.
  9. Critique a movie and post a review.
  10. Tell your readers about your favorite/least favorite teacher.
  11. Share your most (appropriate) embarrassing moment.
  12. Have photos of yourself as a child and write about them.
  13. Write a post about meeting someone famous.
  14. Share a recipe you invented or one you really like.
  15. Post a list of your favorite songs and share why they are important to you.
  16. Tell about the best day of your life.
  17. Write three questions you’d love to ask a person that you can no longer ask.
  18. Review a favorite book.
  19. Create a list of the ‘greatest hits’ of your blog.
  20. Do a compare/contrast post: people vs. presents.
  21. Write about something you are optimistic about.
  22. Talk about a pet peeve.
  23. Share the best advice you have ever received.
  24. Write about your favorite thing about yourself.
  25. Talk about a struggle you were able to overcome.
  26. Respond to criticism you’ve received for a post or have seen on another’s post.
  27. Share a day with nothing but pictures.
  28. Let others know things that have worked well in your household (parenting tips, etc.,).
  29. Share links to your favorite five blogs.
  30. Talk about the person in your life who’s been your greatest inspiration.
  31. Tell others what you’ve done to help maintain your weight – give them ideas for doing better.
  32. Post about the funniest dinner with your family/friends.
  33. Write a birthday post where you celebrate your mother.
  34. Compose a few paragraphs about what would make the world ideal.
  35. Post about a vacation or trip you’ve taken.
  36. Think of your favorite toy and write about it.
  37. Post about things that are popular and why you believe they’re beneficial ( e.g., Facebook)
  38. Create a ‘How to ___________for dummies’ post about something you’re good at.
  39. Write about the things that make you smile.
  40. Write a persuasive article about something you’re passionate about; try to get your readers to agree with you.
  41. Compose a poem, or write about a favorite one you have.
  42. Blog about the good things happening in your community.
  43. Do a shout-out for your favorite local band/artist so that others can learn about them.
  44. Write a post where one of your favorite people in the media interviews you.
  45. Tell about your favorite (or an unusual) hobby and update your readers on your progress.
  46. Share an experience where you received excellent customer service.
  47. Do a 20 questions post with photos.
  48. Challenge your readers to do something, and then comment anonymously about it.
  49. Write a Thought of the Month.
  50. Talk about your favorite place.
  51. Tell about someone who inspired you to be a better person.
  52. Write a post where you give a summarization of someone else’s post.
  53. Write about how things have changed from the time when you were a child.
  54. Pick three words from the dictionary and incorporate them into a creative writing endeavor.
  55. Tell about your favorite tradition.
  56. Have a contest or challenge encouraging visitors to comment or subscribe.
  57. Create a post that uses a chart of some type.
  58. Trade off one day with someone else and post on each others’ blogs (probably emailing your writings instead of giving out passwords).
  59. Post about free things you’ve discovered (share the love).
  60. Tell your readers about your favorite holiday/season/type of weather.
  61. Create a list of the greatest/worst gifts one can give for a birthday or Christmas.
  62. Do a superhero post.
  63. Write a script about someone who makes you laugh.
  64. Write an Ode to Today.
  65. Invite others to send you pictures and spotlight readers of your blog.
  66. Challenge your readers to do something a bit different.
  67. Do a post to mock chick flicks.
  68. Create your own movie poster.
  69. Write about a time someone did something nice for you.
  70. Share a favorite clip from YouTube.
  71. Write about a prank you pulled on somebody else.
  72. Invite your readers to meet for lunch and then write about the experience
  73. Write a ‘hodgepodge’ post about this, that, and the other. 
  74. Post a review for a game you discovered that you really enjoy. l
  75. Write a post about something you find to be ridiculous
  76. Write a post about something that you find to be merely “good” but not all that “great”.
  77. Create a poll for your readers and write a post based on the results.
  78. Tell your readers about that one drawer in your house…yeah, you know the one.
  79. Share about the most amazing thing you’ve ever seen.
  80. Write about things you’re thankful for in your life.
  81. Review your favorite restaurant.
  82. Write about your favorite pet.
  83. Give ideas of what to do when you’re bored.
  84. Talk about the ‘in’ places of your town.
  85. Tell about your favorite childhood book and why it means so much to you.
  86. Give advice to someone just starting out in ______________.
  87. Write about what respect means to you.
  88. Write a post where you use as much descriptive language as you can to draw your reader in.
  89. Share wisdom you’ve gleaned over the years (why the sky is blue, why leaves are green, etc.,) You know, give people a little sompthin-sompthin for their ‘gee whiz’ collection.
  90. Talk about an idiom you’ve heard before and what you used to think it meant.
  91. Write a secret.
  92. Share a joke or story to make others laugh.
  93. Write about a narrow escape you had from trouble.
  94. Write about something you’ve done that nobody else has done.
  95. Your first encounter with (or as) a bully.
  96. Write about a time you really put your foot into your mouth.
  97. Write about coping with ________________ (brothers and sisters, headaches, etc.,)
  98. Talk about a visit to a hospital, doctor’s office, or dentist.
  99. Blog about things we can learn about our own lives about the things we see around us.
  100. How to stop ________________ (smoking, hiccups, bad dreams, etc.,)
  101. Make a list of ten things you’d like to do before you die.
Photo garnered from here.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Moments with Joey – Scout Survival Cookies

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SCENE 1, INTERIOR. MORNING, CLASSROOM. The teacher is reviewing the day’s Math lesson before school starts. A fifth grade boy enters the classroom carrying a plate of cookies covered in plastic wrap. He approaches the teacher with the plate and a grin as wide as Christmas.

JOEY: Mr. Z?

TEACHER: What’s up, Joey?

JOEY: Were you ever a Cub or Boy Scout?

TEACHER: Yeah, but that was quite a few years ago.

JOEY: Then you’ll love what I made for you yesterday! In Scouts with my mom we made cookies for fun; it was also part of this survival thing my older brother was doing for a badge or something. I thought you’d like some of them.

TEACHER: Thanks, Joey. That’s very nice of you.

JOEY: I’ll just put them here. [The boy puts the plate on the edge of the teacher’s desk]. You might want to try one; they’re pretty good.

TEACHER: I’m sure they’re delicious, Joey.

JOEY: They have grasshoppers in them, too.


TEACHER: They have what in them?

JOEY: Grasshoppers. See? [The boy points at the cookies, each has large chunks of grasshoppers sticking out of them: amongst the chocolate chips are torsos, severed wings, and even the head of a grasshopper is staring back at the teacher with its dead eyes. A feeling of nausea arises in the teacher’s stomach as he looks away from the cookies and back at the boy’s smiling face].

JOEY: I told my brother we couldn’t eat them all because I wanted to share some of them with you.

TEACHER: Gee, thanks, Joey. That’s very…thoughtful of you.

[The boy grins and heads outside to play with his friends before school starts. The teacher looks again at the cookies on the plate and feels a shudder of revulsion as he moves the plate to the far corner of his desk].

SCENE 2, INTERIOR. NOON, CLASSROOM. The teacher is writing instructions on the board for the afternoon writing assignment as Joey comes rushing into the classroom.

JOEY: Mr. Z, you haven’t eaten all of your cookies yet, have you?

TEACHER: Uh, no, I haven’t...not yet. I was saving them.

JOEY: Oh. Well, could I have a couple of them?

TEACHER: Sure, I guess so.

JOEY: Awesome.

[The boy snags two of the three cookies and heads outside to recess. The teacher shakes his head as he finishes writing instructions on the board. When he finishes, he returns to his desk and picks up the plate with the last chocolate chip cookie on it. He’s getting ready to throw it in the trash when Joey comes back into the classroom].

JOEY: Hey, Mr. Z? Were you going to eat that last cookie?

TEACHER: Well, I’m kind of watching what I eat right now, Joey. I don’t want to be having too much sugar or anything else, you know.

[The boy looks at the cookie, then back at his teacher].

JOEY: Can I have it, then?

TEACHER: Sure, Joey. But I really do appreciate you making them for me.

JOEY: No problem, Mr. Z.

[The boy grabs the last cookie].

TEACHER: What did you do with the other two cookies?

JOEY: Well, nobody believed that I made them with my mom, so I took them outside to show everybody.

TEACHER: What did you do after you showed them to everyone?

JOEY: I ate them; they’re delicious.

[At this the boy opens his mouth and takes a huge bite of his grasshopper cookie, chewing it with apparent relish].

JOEY: They’re really good, but sometimes pieces can kind of get stuck in your throat of you don’t chew them up good.

TEACHER: I’ll take your word on that, Joey.

[The boy finishes up the cookie and then gets a drink from the classroom fountain].

JOEY: Maybe when we make them next time you won’t be on a diet, Mr. Z.

TEACHER: I can only hope so, Joey.

[Fade to black].

NOTE: I wish now that I’d taken a photo of these cookies, but being so grossed out by the whole experience, it didn’t even cross my mind. The closest thing I could find to what they sort of looked like was this shot I found online:

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Media of the Week - Famous Failures

Pin It There are times in life when I feel that the odds are stacked against me. I find myself questioning my own self worth. There are moments when I feel that life is out to get me and think it would be so much easier to throw in the towel, sit around in my pajamas, and eat peanut butter straight from the jar.

It is in these times that I remind myself that tomorrow is always another day. The failures and shortcomings of one day are not a precursor of those yet to come. A new beginning can always be greeted with the sunrise, no matter how terrible the previous day was.

Our lives are meant to be lived - not only the good, but also the bad. And do you know what? Sometimes it’s the hard things that help us to truly enjoy and appreciate all of those things around us that are indeed...good.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Taking Great Photos - Part 4: Shutter Speed

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How often have you wanted to capture that moment of glory as your child kicked the winning goal in soccer, or crossed the finish line just ahead of the rest of the competition, but you ended up with nothing but a digital card full of blurred images and disappointments?

If you’ve ever found yourself in this terrible predicament, then you’ve come to the right place, because this lesson is all about shutter speed.

First off, shutter speed is simply telling your camera how quickly to take the photo. I know…pretty simple and straightforward, right?


But what if you don’t know a few of the basics of how fast is really fast and what is—in actuality—pretty slow?

Houston, we have a problem…

If you shoot in aperture mode (which is where I probably take 95% of my photographs and the topic of the last lesson) the camera adjusts the shutter speed automatically; however, there are times when I want to switch over to shutter speed mode to take a photo because there are times that I’m all about speed...

Shutter speed can make all the difference in the world when taking a photo. Did you know that when you blink it takes somewhere around 30/100th (3/10ths) of a second? Seems pretty quick, doesn’t it? However, that’s long enough to have missed seeing that shooting star, that flash of lightning, or the moment that your kid slipped into the room and shanghaied some of your chocolate. My point is - things can happen quickly.

When I was younger I believed that taking a photo at 1/10th of a second was pretty quick. I can remember being blown away thinking, Wow, that’s really fast. And sure, while 1/10th of a second might seem quick in terms of most things requiring movement in the real world, in the realms of cameras and photography, it’s actually pretty slow.

As a general rule, I shoot most of my photos somewhere around 1/100th of a second. If you’re handholding your camera, anything below 1/60th of a second will probably come out blurry…not saying it will, I’m just saying that there’s a greater chance of it.

Most photos that you take and will be satisfied with will probably have been shot with a shutter speed somewhere between 1/60th and 1/500th of a second.

The general rule I use for action is to shoot at at least 1/250th of a second or the image will be blurred. To freeze all of the action I try to shoot at 1/500th of a second.

Of course, most compact cameras have that little icon of the running man to help you out with action shots. When you switch to this mode, the camera automatically adjusts the shutter speed to be quicker, and it also adjusts the rest of the modes (ISO and aperture) so that the image will (supposedly) have enough light in order to take the shot and have it look good.

This works sometimes, but not always.

To gain more control over your camera, switch to shutter speed mode (it might be buried somewhere in a digital menu, so consult your camera’s manual to find out where this mode really is) and start playing around with it. Take some shots of frisky pets, cars racing by on the street out front, or your precocious four year-old as he does something he’s not supposed to and tries to make a quick getaway.

My point is, experiment. You’ll never get used to taking photos with varying shutter speed and knowing what really works until you do it.

Just like practicing the piano…okay, maybe not piano.

This past weekend I attended a student’s basketball game. I always take along my camera with the intent of practicing action shots – it also keeps me from having to talk to anyone there if I really don’t feel like it.

I took out my camera and moved to the end of the court, watching the boys play in the no-so-well lit gymnasium. The lights were something of a cross between incandescent and fluorescent bulbs that seemed to make everyone look like they were extras in a Twilight movie. However, even with bad lighting and fast action being a horrific combination for photography, capturing that iconic shot was still possible.

When I first started to shoot, I took the first few pictures – not thinking - in aperture mode; my shutter speed was only 1/60th of a second. It only took me a few moments to realize what I was doing. I knew that there was just no way I’d be able to capture any of the action properly. Mostly I ended up with a dozen shots that looked something like this:

Not very pretty, is it?

Yeah, I didn’t think so, either.

I quickly upped the shutter speed to 1/350th second and recommenced shooting. The outcomes I began to garner were far more aesthetically pleasing:

By increasing the shutter speed, I was basically commanding (I just love that word) the camera to work even faster and take the image quicker, thus freezing the action before said boy actually hit the floor while diving for the ball.


But what if you want movement? In this case, you slow the shutter speed down.

I did this last year when I was invited to a different student’s basketball game. I decided I wanted to experiment with giving the feeling of the movement happening instead of freezing the action altogether. As a result, I dropped the shutter speed down to 1/30th of a second and panned with the player as he bolted across the gymnasium.

The shot of which I speak is the one I used for my header:

I got exactly what I wanted: the feeling of motion and increased visual impact.

But what about those amazing shots where the photographer has blurred the surface of the water so that it looks smooth as silk? How do they do that?

Shutter speed, baby…shutter speed.

You know that you can also get those amazing shots, too if you slow your camera’s shutter speed down to about 1/4th of a second or lower. You probably already realize though that you won’t be able to hand-hold your camera, you’ll want to have a tripod and probably set your camera to take the photo on timer so that you aren’t touching the unit at all. Even a slight touch such as pushing the shutter button can cause moment to the camera and give you a blurry shot.

Did this help? Do you feel empowered? Did you forget what I said at the beginning?

If so, here’s the cliff notes from the whole post:
  • Most action shots should be taken between 1/250th and 1/500th of a second to freeze what's happening.
  • To blur a subject partially and add motion, slow to 1/30th of a second (or so) and pan along with them.
  • To get blurred water, try shooting at 1/4th of a second or slower (you’ll need a tripod).
Until next time; shoot ‘til you get it.

Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: About Your Camera
Part 3: Aperture
Part 4: Shutter Speed
Part 5: White Balance
Part 6: ISO
Part 7: The Breath
Part 8: The Rule of Thirds

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Makes Me Smile #4 - Saving Versus Spending

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A friend of mine recently introduced me to Kohl’s. I’d never been to this particular store before, and I had no idea of what to expect. Upon entering the building I found myself surrounded by a veritable panorama that held me entranced – a smorgasbord of this, that, and the other.

I grazed about the store for over an hour, picking up several items I’d been in need of for quite some time, but had never managed to make a purchase of. As I made my way toward the check stand, I tried to figure out just how much I was spending vs. how much I was saving on said items.

The cashier rung up my total purchases and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that my savings far outweighed my money paid out – it made me smile.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Music of the Heart

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My mind is a tumult of thought this evening. The ideas tumble back and forth in my head like clothes in the dryer, making and breaking static unions as they spin in a haphazard circle without a softener sheet.


I’ve entertained a dozen different postings - all the way from the terribly exciting to the dreadfully melancholy.

However, one thing stood out: The recital.

I was invited to attend a music recital this evening of a past student. He would be playing the guitar, “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” to be precise.

I snatched up my stack of journal entries to finish reading and commenting on as I moved into the building. The cold, biting, night air nipped around the room as I sat down and commenced reading.

Within’ a few minutes, the recital began. It was nearly at once that I found the music played by these children was nothing short of amazing. I felt myself become wrapped in the warm glow of the Christmas music they played, and the feeling one seems to associate with this wonderful holiday. A fire ignited in my chest as the first strains of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” filled the room. I found myself drawing in a breath as the feeling of magic wafted about me.

It surrounded me. Enveloped me. Consumed me.

I stopped correcting the entries and just listened and felt the music. When it came time for my student to take his place center stage, I couldn’t help but feel an immense sense of pride.

He sat and played with his teacher on his shiny, new guitar, and it reminded me of a moment in time space, when he asked me about learning to play – over a year ago now – after we’d finished a session of singing time in the classroom where I accompanied my students with the guitar.

I listened to him playing now and I felt a rushing sense that something I’d done along the way had helped him to arrive here at this place. It was the same feeling I’d had when I’d taught someone to become a better reader, when a student had mastered a difficult concept in Math, or when they had simply become a more active participant in their own learning.

Tonight I felt that.

As the recital ended, I recalled this boy’s and my time together when we practiced “Frosty the Snowman” for a literature response when he was just getting his musical wings about him.

It made me smile.

Before I left, I leaned over to this boy and told him how proud I was of him. Of how far he’d come, and how I wanted him to mention me when he was playing with some famous band or in a concert hall. He smiled and said, “Sure, Mr. Z.”

I left the recital and walked out to my car, thinking of another student who I just started teaching on the guitar. As the cold, wintery air blew about me, I smiled.

By the way, I also posted today over at Four Perspectives...just so you know.

First image source: Someplace I can't remember...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Media of the Week - Eyebrows

Pin It There are times in my life when I wished that I had serious talent.

Serious talent like this…

Of course, if serious talent could be gained from eating Cadbury’s…I’d eat them. It would help too if the Cadbury in question were the eggs with caramel available only around Easter.

Then again, I’ve always been envious of those who are even able just raise one eyebrow...

Friday, January 14, 2011

What's that Song on YOUR Playlist?

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I love music.

It’s no secret, really.

Yet, there’s something about certain songs that seem to make you feel a bit more uplifted. You feel that the world is a better place. You find yourself scrolling back to those particular songs and listening to them a few times in a row.

Yeah, you know the music I’m talking about.

Well, this is your chance to share it with the rest of us. You know, that one song which does it for you; every time that the words and music intertwine and give you a feeling of invincibility…after listening to it you feel that you could run for a thousand miles, fly to the tops of the mountains, and pretty much save the world.

Yeah, THAT’S the song I’m talking about.

Below, I’ve created a playlist.

I’d love to add your favorite upbeat, uplifting, up-stirring, and upstanding song to the list.

So that is it...just leave a comment of 'that song' and I'll add it to the playlist.

What was that? You'd like to add this playlist to your blog? Well, if you'd like to, you can snag the code to do so. I tried to put the code in my post, but every time I try, it embeds the player - and I’d rather not have the code in the mess it looks like here.

Yeah, I’m all about aesthetics.

I started off the playlist with a few of my own...oh, and since I do have a few younger readers, I will do my best to find an edited version of your song (if it is needed and is available). I'd really like to include the music that inspires you, but I do want to keep it all PG as well.

Thanks for understanding...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Moments with Joey - The Tongue Dilemma

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SCENE 1, EXTERIOR. MORNING, PLAYGROUND. A few slivers of snow fall from the grey morning skies as a fifth grade teacher makes his way outside for before-school duty. The online thermometer he’d read earlier that morning had a reading of fourteen degrees. A few of the teacher’s students wander over from time to time to talk. One of the girls, Becky, excitedly approaches.

BECKY: Mr. Z, I just stuck my finger on the pole over there and a bit of the skin came off!

[The teacher glances over to the four, four-foot poles around the fire hydrant where a young boy is milling about].

TEACHER: Now that was pretty smart now wasn’t it?

BECKY: [Giggling]. Probably not.

TEACHER: You know what, Becky? You should have stuck your tongue to the pole…now THAT would have been REALLY smart.

[Becky laughs and walks back toward the poles as the teacher is asked a question by another student. A few moments later, Becky comes running back to the teacher, her voice full of frantic concern].

BECKY: Mr. Z! Mr. Z! Joey’s stuck to the pole!

[The teacher, thinking that a joke is being played on him, turns slowly with a doubtful expression].

TEACHER: Oh, really? Is he now?

BECKY: No, seriously…look!

[The teacher gazes in the direction the girl is pointing and sees Joey with his tongue attached to the blue pole. The teacher bolts over to where the boy is flailing is arms and trying to communicate].

TEACHER: [Directed to the closest kid]. Ryan, get to the nearest teacher’s classroom and get a glass of the hottest water you can! GO! NOW!

[The boy breaks into a run towards the school, along with two or three other students following along in his wake. The teacher turns his attention back to the boy who is trying to talk. A shudder passes though the teacher’s spine as visions of A Christmas Story fly through his head. It’s just all so surreal; even watching the movie cannot have prepared him for this particular moment].

RANDOM STUDENT: [Approaching with a group]. Hey, Mr. Z, what’s going on?

TEACHER: Nothing, now get over there, now!

[The teacher points to the other end of the playground. The student and the four or five members of his entourage slowly move away, still trying to catch a glimpse of the tongue-tied boy].

TEACHER: Joey, just why in the world would you stick your tongue on the pole?

JOEY: Youh thold meh tooh, Misthur Zeh.

TEACHER: What do you mean, I told you to?

JOEY: I huhrd youh thell Bekhee thut iht’s thmart thoo puth yoh thung onth thuh phool.

TEACHER: Joey, I was joking. Doing something like this doesn’t make you cool.

[The boy now has a long sliver of drool hanging down from his bottom lip. His tongue is sticking out a bit farther as he continues trying to communicate with the teacher].

JOEY: Ayh haff thoo goh thoo thuh bahthroon.

TEACHER: You’ve got to be kidding me.

[Several more students who approach are instantly sent away by the teacher, who realizes that the last thing the boy needs is a crowd watching him in this particular dilemma. Instead though, a crowd is forming about thirty feet away carrying on with whispered conversations and pointings, like a herd of gazelles stopping to watch as one of their members is ripped apart by a lion in the Serengeti].

TEACHER: Joey, Joey, Joey…what am I going to do with you?

[The teacher holds the boy’s face firmly in one position so that the end of his tongue doesn’t rip off. The drool trail is nearing ground level at this point and is starting to freeze in midair. A lower section of it catches on the pole and becomes instantly frozen into place. The teacher wipes the dribble from the boy’s lip and starts to talk to him so that he doesn’t freak out].

TEACHER: Don’t worry, Joey, everything’s going to be all right. Just keep your head close to the pole and we’ll get you out of this, okay?

JOEY: Ihm thuck.

TEACHER: Yeah, you can say that again.

[After another minute or two, the boy finally realizes the full extent of the predicament he's in and starts to cry a little; the teacher keeps trying to console him. *Lucky Lookies on the distant sidelines keep trying to catch a glimpse of the dilemma taking place. The teacher wonders if he should leave the boy and go for the water himself. He changes his mind several times.

A few moments later, Ryan comes hurrying out of the school with a large cup of steaming water. The boy gives it to the teacher who pours it over the pole. Joey pulls at his tongue, stretching it out and snapping it free of the pole’s icy grip. The teacher shudders again as he imagines a ripping sound as the boy’s tongue whips back into his mouth. The teacher puts his arm around the boy's shoulder and leads him into the school past troves of onlookers. The boy is told to head for the office and the bathroom].

SCENE 2, EXTERIOR. AFTERNOON. PLAYGROUND. The teacher heads out for after-school duty in the same spot. As he arrives, he notices the Joey looking around the pole he was attached to earlier that morning.

TEACHER: Joey, what in the world are you doing?

JOEY: I was just seeing if I could find the piece of my tongue that came off this morning.

TEACHER: A piece of your tongue?

JOEY: Yeah, the end of my tongue came off and I was just seeing if it was still attached to pole. [Pause]. I wanted to keep it.

TEACHER: Okay, now that's just gross.

JOEY: And cool, too...

TEACHER: Well, I'm glad to know that no brain cells were lost.

JOEY: Nope, just my tongue.

[The teacher shakes his head and walks away].

[Fade to black].

*Lucky Lookies: Those people who, at the scene of an accident, slow and stare hoping to catch a glimpse of something terrible.

And, for your enjoyment:

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

About Blogging

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A light dusting of snow coved the sidewalk as I left my home yesterday in the early morning light. In the orange cast of the streetlamp outside my home, the snow glistened like the diamond sands of a California beach. I hefted my things into the car, and at once noticed that the tiniest slivers of silver were still drifting from the heavens, like a child sprinkling glitter over a picture covered in Elmer’s glue.

As I started the ignition and shifted into reverse, it made me think of Pink’s song, “Glitter in the Air.”
I drove to work thinking about blogging.

I recalled a response I made to a fellow blogger’s comment. This particular writer answered back, and it wasn’t long before an email was exchanged several times with additions to the message over the course of two or three days.

It felt wondrously strange. In all truth, I’d never met this person before. I’d never seen them (not that I know of anyhow) not on the streets or at the local grocery. It was peculiar in a way – and yet I felt a kinship to this (and many other) people I’d never had the privilege of meeting in the real world, but instead been introduced to through the medium of blogger.

I think of this method of communication and sharing which did not exist five or ten years ago, and I see what a huge impact blogging has made on this massive world. It has made the boundaries a little bit smaller, the borders not quite as distant, and made certain individuals more personal, more real. It’s bridged a gap, allowing you passage into my little world, and a road for me into yours.

In fact, if we were to meet in some distant (or not so distant) future, I’d probably not call you stranger, but instead take you warmly by the hand as a friend I’d not seen for just a little while.

I arrived at work, stepping out of my car as the silvery glitter still drifted and tumbled lightly in the air like cotton on summer wings.

I smiled.

Thanks, Blogger.

By the way, I should probably mention that I posted today over at Four Perspectives.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Media of the Week - Waiting Outside the Lines

Pin It I was reading blogs yesterday.

It always seems that I’m falling behind, and seeing my reader teeming with updated posts from you.

Yes, you.

As I commenced reading, I began to recognize a reoccurring theme that seemed to network several blogs together like a many-faceted web. In a few that I read there was an underlying feeling of depression at life, that the hand that had been dealt was not fair, or that things were not going the way the writer wanted them to. In one or two cases, it seemed that the writer was lost in a dark and lonely place.

I’ve been in dark places before; I’ve allowed myself to flounder in a wallowy standstill of depression and gloom; a pool of self-pity and despair…this is never a good thing when I have refused to see the light, when I have turned my back on the good, when I have sat and waited for the world to change.

After all, it’s the world that ought to change, not me. Right?


One thing I’ve realized is that I cannot lock myself behind closed doors and walls and simply hope that things will get better – will be better. There comes a time when I realize that I need to pull myself out of my slump - to stand up on my own feet and commence walking.

“The first step is the hardest…”

I feel strange quoting a 13 year-old kid, but I heard this song and felt that it really needed to be the “Media of the Week” this week.

To me, it’s an anthem about getting out, being more, and quite simply: doing.

Outside the lines
Greyson Chance

You’ll never enjoy your life,
living inside the box
You’re so afraid of taking chances,
how you gonna reach the top?

Rules and regulations,
force you to play it safe
Get rid of all the hesitation,
it’s time for you to seize the day

Instead of just sitting around
and looking down on tomorrow
You gotta let your feet off the ground,
the time is now

I’m waiting, waiting, just waiting,
I’m waiting, waiting outside the lines
Waiting outside the lines
Waiting outside the lines

Try to have no regrets
even if it’s just tonight
How you gonna walk ahead
if you keep living blind?

Stuck in my same position,
you deserve so much more
There’s a whole world around us,
just waiting to be explored

Instead of just sitting around
and looking down on tomorrow
You gotta let your feet off the ground,
the time is now, just let it go

The world will force you to smile
I’m here to help you notice the rainbow
Cause I know,
What’s in you is out there

I’m waiting, waiting, just waiting,
I’m waiting, waiting outside the lines
Waiting outside the lines
Waiting outside the lines

I’m trying to be patient (I’m trying to be patient)
the first step is the hardest (the hardest)
I know you can make it,
go ahead and take it

I’m Waiting, waiting, just waiting I’m waiting
I’m waiting, waiting, just waiting
I’m waiting, waiting outside the lines
Waiting outside the lines
Waiting outside the lines

You’ll never enjoy your life
Living inside the box
You’re so afraid of taking chances,
How you gonna reach the top?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Moments with Joey – Sickness of Christmas

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SCENE 1, INTERIOR. NOON, FIFTH GRADE CLASSROOM. The teacher is entering grades as a few students work inside on the night’s homework. After several moments, a fifth grade boy staggers up to the teacher and flops down at the table, looking exasperated. He grabs his face with both of his hands and moves each side in alternating up and down motions.

JOEY: [Whining] Mr. Z, I’m missing a journal entry. [There is a short pause quickly punctuated by more whining] I don’t even know what to write a journal entry about…

TEACHER: Well, why don’t you write about what happened over Christmas break?

[The boy looks up from his position on the table].

JOEY: I was sick over Christmas.

[There is a short pause as the boy puts on a look of pure patheticness].

TEACHER: Well, then write about being sick of Christmas.

[The boy shakes his head].

JOEY: Mr. Z, I said I was sick over Christmas, not sick of Christmas.

TEACHER: Oh…then that’s different now then, isn’t it?

[The boy pauses for a split second before a perplexed look covers his face].

JOEY: Why would I ever get sick of Christmas?

TEACHER: Well, sometimes I get sick of you.

[The boy is still for several seconds and then gives a knowing nod].

JOEY: You know that’s a really good point, Mr. Z.

TEACHER: Merry Christmas…

[Fade to black].

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Makes Me Smile #3 - Raindrops on Rooftops and Umbrellas in Autos

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I woke up the other morning to hear the smattering of rain on rooftop - always an amazing noise to my ears. I can’t tell you how much I love hearing that symphony of sound as I get ready for work.

I ventured out into the drizzle, hopped in my car, and drove the distance to school. When I arrived at the building, the rain was falling a bit harder than it had been before. I looked into the backseat of the car at my computer and camera bags. Not wishing to get them wet, I wondered if I should just pull up close to the building, hope out, and run the bags inside so they wouldn’t get wet.

That’s when I noticed my umbrella lying on the back floor. I’d completely forgotten that I had it in the car at all. I gathered up my various and sundries, clicked the umbrella release button, and watched it shoot above me, like the wings of a majestic bird. As I walked across the parking lot - hearing the soft scratchy patter of rain on umbrella - it made me smile.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Pin It I drove across town in a bleary haze. It had been a long day. It always tends to be that the long, hard days are punctuated by fatigue, aren’t they? I felt a sense of deep emptiness as I drove; the few snowflakes falling from the blackened skies caught in the beam of my headlights for just a moment, like little, white moths drawn to a bug zapper.

As I drove, a depression I’d not felt in a while seemed to ebb though the vents and settle over me, a blanketing mist that threatened to take me under. It was a feeling of loneliness, worthlessness, and realization of all of my faults and shortcomings. It was a time of comparing myself to others, and finding that I was coming up short in so many ways.

Why wasn’t I as nice as So-and-So?
How come I wasn’t as talented as What’s-His-Face?
Why wasn’t I as organized as What’s-Her-Bucket?
When was I going to get to that immense to-do list?
Who would even care if I just stopped trying?

The feeling cast its shadow over me as I continued on my journey. Fumbling with my iPod, I found the most depressing song that I could, and proceeded to play again and again. I allowed each and every failure to take center stage in the spotlight of my mind. I allowed the emptiness to swell to mammoth proportions, and let myself feel completely despondent.

The world was a terrible place.
Nothing seemed of value.
I embraced hopelessness as an old friend.

I parked my car and wandered into the local grocery store seeking orange juice. I walked past the deli section, and the counter where I’d bought ice cream so often before. I hadn’t done that in a long time. Grudgingly, I strode up to the counter and paid for a cone. When the woman asked what flavor I wanted, I explained that I wanted her to save it for someone who really looked like they needed it. “Please give it to them,” I instructed, “and tell them that it’s from somebody who hopes they feel better soon.”

The woman smiled – a smile as big as Christmas itself – as I walked away.

I felt the tiniest spark.

I headed to the freezer section and pulled out five or so cylinders of orange juice. While walking to the check stand, one of them slipped from my grasp and rolled across the floor. A woman’s son picked it up and handed it back to me with a smile.

There was a flicker.

The cashier beamed as I paid for my things and wished me a nice day – double bagging my items so that they would be safe.

The flame was smoldering.

I strode out to my car; as I did, I changed the song on my iPod. As the new music poured from the speakers, I drove toward home. A few random snowflakes fell from the evening skies, catching in the glow of my headlights like little, white fireflies floating on the breeze.

The night was still dark, but the blackness wasn’t quite so dense.
The world was still vast, but it wasn’t as empty as it was before.
I still had problems, but they did not feel nearly so hopeless.

You know, I’m convinced that the best remedy for hopelessness is stepping around the obstacle of ourselves – even just a little bit – and opening the door of hope just wide enough so that others can poke their heads in.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Media of the Week - Mashup #4 - Dark and Difficult Times

Pin It With the lastest Harry Potter movie sensation sweeping the nation, it would seem that a Harry Potter Mashup would be in order.

And here it is...

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Moments with Joey - Greatest Hits 2010

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As promised, I went through the archives and found the top 10 Moments with Joey posts – based solely from the number of comments they’ve each received.

So, I’m curious, which one was YOUR favorite post? Feel free to use the poll below to let me know.

Looking forward to yet another exciting year with Joey.

(Each link will open in a new tab or window for your blogging convenience).

1. Wimpy Kids                                             6. Genes and Brains
2. Entertainment Starved                       7. Super Atomic Wedgies
3. Kissing Boys                                           8. Elbow Milk and Short Circuits
4. The Invitation                                        9. Gifts
5. The Wasp                                              10. The Tooth

Oh, and you probably also noticed that I discovered a way to add the Facebook 'share' button on my blog...yeah, I'm pretty awesome like that; just give me two or three hours.
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