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EdTech Update





BFTP: Dangerous statements librarians make

Sometimes librarians can be their own worst enemies. I shudder when I hear these phrases uttered:

1. But the school HAS to have a librarian/library.

2. The research proves that libraries improve student achievement. (Subtext: So I don't have to.)

3. Kids can't come into the library at _________ time...
           - because I have work to do
           - because I might need to step out and they would be unsupervised
           - because it is MY library and what I say, goes.
           - because I need 4 weeks in the fall and spring to get it ready/shut it down
           - (Subtext: Because they annoy me.)

4. I can't create a good program because I am in a fixed schedule.

5. Having a study hall in the library is out of the question.

6. I let the technology people take care of that (to a teacher who needs help NOW.)

7. Correct bibliographic format is absolutely critical (Subtext: No matter how brilliant the content.)

8. I can't work with a teacher who does not give at least _____ days/weeks/months advance notice.

9. The library catalog information has to conform to _________________ standards and I will spend all my discretionary time cataloging until it is!

10. Computers and the Internet are the bane of reading and rational thought. I refuse to learn about them.

11. Wikipedia/blogs/Twitter/etc. is not an acceptable source of information.

12. If only the principal/teachers/parents knew what I do they'd appreciate me!

13. It's my job to read so if I read on the job others can just think what they want.

14. But ALA/AASL Standards say ___________________________.

15. That kid has shown he can't be responsible so he'll never check anything out from this library again.

16. Computer games in my library? (Subtext: It would just bring kids in and they annoy me.)

17. I can advocate for my own program. I don't need anyone else vocally supporting it.

18. My expertise in children's/young adult literature makes me indispensable to my school.

19. I don't need to collect data about my program. My principal loves me.

20. I don't teach "computer skills." That's the technology department's job.

21. The right job title will make my position more secure.

OK, those are 21 fast ones off the top of my head and are dedicated to Chris Harris who sparked the idea.

I am not convinced that the profession as a whole is in a crisis. But I suspect a lot of librarians (who aren't reading this blog anyway) may be.

And rightfully so.

What other dangerous statements do you hear from your library colleagues that make you wince?

Original post April 21, 2010.

This post was also reincarnated as a Head of the Edge column.


Age appropriate activities - Part 2

Only doing half the 4-day hike to Ciudad Perdida (see last post) had an upside. It gave me two days to do other activities including a costal hike of Park Tayrona. A perhaps more age-appropriate activity.

On the map above, find Canaveral on the northern coast and Cabo San Juan just to the west. An out and back hike of about 2 hours each way, hugging the coast, with a long break for a swim and lunch was the day.

A popular day hike, the route was well marked and much of it was boardwalk and wooden steps. Yes, the hike started with a series of pretty good climbs and descents, but none that took longer than 10 minutes or so - not the hour-long ascents of Ciudad Perdida.

Just one of many stunning views of the beaches. These are not swimmable. Colombia supposedly has the highest costal mountains in the world. Who am I to doubt?

Don't flick your nasty cigarette butts in the ocean because the turtles will eat them (roughly translated).


Caribbean shoreline near the start of the hike. I don't think I've ever taken a photo where the horizon is actually horizontal. Yeah, I know I can fix that with an editing tool...


How much farther? Thought these markers were a great idea for a hiking trail. Hiking, unlike walking a sidewalk or road, takes variable amounts of time to cover a kilometer of distance.

First glimpse of Cabo (Cape) San Juan beach through the leaves of the coconut palms. Workers were gathering coconuts along the hike's route.

View from the lookout above the beach (seen in the previous picture). The beach has very nice facilities including campgrounds, a snack-bar/restaurant, bathrooms, and hammocks to rent for the night. Nice place to spend a couple hours resting up for the hike back.

One last glimpse of the beach heading back to Canaveral (Cane Plantation). Great walk with just enough elevation change and sandy stretches to be challenging without being overwhelming. Even for an old guy like me.


Love those 99 degree days. Needed to record this so my comments about the heat don't just sound like whining. I did avoid rain the entire trip.

Bar at the La Brisa Loca (Crazy Wind) Hostel in Santa Marta. Spent two nights here - probably another age-inappropriate activity - but the place was great. The website photos would have you believe it is party central, but my top floor private "cabana" was quiet. Lots of young backpackers, mostly reading or visiting in small groups.


My favorite early morning coffee vendor. Fifty cents for a small, sweet very strong coffee to savor sitting on a park bench. The vendor himself made a fashion statement. One of the little pleasures of travel.

Oh, and there was that conference thing in Cartagena too. Great event with wonderful hosts and participants. I got just enough of a taste of Cartagena to make me want to go back.

More photos on SmugMug.












Choosing age appropriate activities

A man's gotta know his limitations.
                                            - Dirty Harry

Perhaps my first clue should have been there was no one else in any of the hiking groups for Ciudad Perdida that looked over 30. Or that seemed to have any ounce of fat on their bodies. Or seemed to be sweating.

Long story short, I decided that after the first day of hiking the trail to Ciudad Perdida, a relatively short 4.7 miles, there was no way in God's good earth I was going to do three more days of hikes up to 8 miles. I chose to return with another group and cut my hike to two days. And schedule a less strenuous hike for my remaining time.

That's not say I didn't enjoy the experience I did have.

Santa Marta beach at sunset was lovely. My 2-star hotel was adequate (although for my first 6 nights in Colombia, I did not have hot water in any of my hotels.) Huge statues of the Tairona Indians watch over the beach.


For some people, I suppose. Inoperable bathroom at The Magic Tour travel agent office. Seemed pretty well organized but do not expect an English speaking guide. Find a bi-lingual fellow traveler ASAP.

At the small mountain town of Machete, reachable only by an hour and a half of bumping along 4-wheel drive roads, the kids watch Phineas and Ferb, Curious George, etc. just like my grandkids in the US. Same glazed expression. An iPhone was being charged there as well. You'd think there would be more international understanding with every kid in the world watching the same dumb cartoons and using the same stupid technology.

A swimming hole in the river 45 minutes into the hike. Next hour and a half was climbing pretty much straight up. The temp that day in Santa Marta was 99 degrees. I didn't get to the top first. I didn't think I was going to make to the top at all. (See note about no other hikers fat or over 30 above.) 

The mountains themselves were beautiful. Although this a national park, it seemed plenty of private farming was being done. Lots of mules, donkeys and motorbikes shared the trail bringing supplies to the locals. Still some signs of terracing of the indigenous people on the hillsides.

Didn't see any snakes. I'm sort of glad. You don't have to know much Spanish to figure out this warning.

Every kid needs a machete. 

My bunk at the camp. Columbia roosters start crowing at 3:30AM. I didn't experience any mosquitoes. Cold showers. But cold beer for sale and a filling meal. I woke up during the night thinking I heard rain on the tin roof and wondered how anyone could hike these trails when slick with mud. Turned out it was just the sound of the river a few feet from the bunkhouses.

As my daughter likes to observe, it's not really an adventure without a swinging bridge. This one leads into the first camp. There were satellite TV dishes on one of the buildings in the camp.

I hiked most of the way back by myself, getting a jump on my adopted group, with these two boys sometimes ahead and sometimes behind me. I am guessing the closest school was back in Machete, where the hike began. 

Large parts of the trail were of a white powder (no, I don't think it was cocaine). Made for really dusty shoes. I had been dreading the long steep downhill path that I had climbed the day before, but somehow I lost the trail and got on a mining road - that thankfully got me back to the same place - with a more gradual descent. 

Typical trail conditions. What you don't see is that the climb continues around the corner. Steeper. And again and again. And what you don't feel is the humidity. Did I mention how difficult this trail was?

It was good to get back in town. I hope who ever owns this restaurant finds a new marketing guy.

We are working on developing growth mindsets in our staff and students and I need to apply the growth mindset to this adventure.

  • I didn't get to the Ciudad Perdida - yet. The Lost City will remain lost until I have the time to do it in 5 or 6 days instead of 4 (or I get younger). December is supposed to be the coolest month. A retirement plan.
  • I need to begin selecting more age-appropriate activities. The hike in Tayrona Park along the beach from Canaveral to Cabo San Juan was a couple hours each way, lots of relatively short hills, still in 99 degree heat, but broken up with a 3 hour break on a beach. Very doable. God, I hate to admit I am getting old, though.
  • And I am beginning to think that hiking from lodge to lodge is a nice way to adventure. Lighten the load of clothes and sleeping bags and stuff. But I am not ready to give up camping quite yet.

So I am not sure if this hike was a failure or a learning experience - or both. At least I survived so I can face the bugs, bears and lightning bolts of the Boundary Waters with the Boy Scouts this August.

Last night in Colombia. I wonder if tonight's hotel has hot water?