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Wednesday
Dec242008

99 Blue Skunk things and idle hands

 

It's the first day of our school holiday break for me. A non-work day before we fly to Mexico. So far this morning I have finished writing a 3500 word white paper, done a load of laundry, answered all my e-mail, read all RSS feeds, printed my boarding and parking passes, updated our lake association website with pictures of our monster, Jeffie, and put a roast and acorn squash in the oven. My bags are packed, the driveway and sidewalks are cleared of snow and all my Christmas shopping is done.

Jeffie, the Lake Jefferson (LeSueur County, MN) monster

So now it is idle hands time, which is usually dangerous for me.

I downloaded the $.99 iPod app iFart, sort of an electronic whoopee cushion. I think it is a riot but the LWW seemed less amused. My brother and grandsons will get it.

Saw this mem on both Walt and Stephen's blogs.

THE 99 THINGS MEME

Things you’ve already done: bold
Things you want to do: italicize
Things you haven’t done and don’t want to - leave in plain font

1. Started your own blog.
2. Slept under the stars.

3. Played in a band.
4. Visited Hawaii.
5. Watched a meteor shower.

6. Given more than you can afford to charity. (OK, I feel guilty about this one...)
7. Been to Disneyland/world.
8. Climbed a mountain. (Define mountain.)
9. Held a praying mantis.
10. Sang a solo.
11. Bungee jumped. (This looks terrifying. See also skydiving.)
12. Visited Paris.
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea.
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch.
15. Adopted a child.
16. Had food poisoning.
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty.
18. Grown your own vegetables.
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France.
20. Slept on an overnight train.
21. Had a pillow fight.
22. Hitch hiked.
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill.
24. Built a snow fort.
25. Held a lamb.
26. Gone skinny dipping.

27. Run a marathon.
28. Ridden a gondola in Venice.
29. Seen a total eclipse.
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset.

31. Hit a home run.
32. Been on a cruise.
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person.

34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors.
35. Seen an Amish community.
36. Taught yourself a new language.
37.Had enough money to be truly satisfied.
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person.
39. Gone rock climbing.
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David in person.
41. Sung Karaoke.
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt.
43. Bought a stranger a meal in a restaurant.

44. Visited Africa.
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight.

46. Been transported in an ambulance.
47. Had your portrait painted.
48. Gone deep sea fishing.
49. Seen the Sistine chapel in person.
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling.
52. Kissed in the rain.
53. Played in the mud.
54. Gone to a drive-in theater.

55. Been in a movie.
56. Visited the Great Wall of China.
57. Started a business.
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia.
60. Served at a soup kitchen.
61. Sold Girl Scout cookies.
62. Gone whale watching.
63. Gotten flowers for no reason.
64. Donated blood.
65. Gone sky diving.
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp.
67. Bounced a check.
68. Flown in a helicopter.
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy.
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial.
71. Eaten Caviar.
72. Pieced a quilt.
73. Stood in Times Square.
74. Toured the Everglades.
75. Been fired from a job.
76. Seen the Changing of the Guard in London.
77. Broken a bone.
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle.
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person.
80. Published a book.

81. Visited the Vatican.
82. Bought a brand new car.
83. Walked in Jerusalem.
84. Had your picture in the newspaper.
85. Read the entire Bible.
86. Visited the White House.
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating.
(Fish are animals, right?)
88. Had chickenpox.
89. Saved someone’s life.
90. Sat on a jury.
91. Met someone famous.
92. Joined a book club.
93. Lost a loved one.
94. Had a baby.
95. Seen the Alamo in person.
96. Swum in the Great Salt Lake.

97. Been involved in a law suit.
98. Owned a cell phone.
99. Been stung by a bee.

Been there done that, got the t-shirt: 62
Wish I had: 18

No desire: 19

Oh come on, Stephen and Walt. This list is for little old librarians... We of the adventerous soul can do better...

THE BLUE SKUNK 99 THINGS MEME

Things you’ve already done: bold
Things you won't admit to having done: underline
Things you want to do: italicize
Things you haven’t done and don’t want to - leave in plain font

1. Started your own blog. Received a cease and desist letter from a publisher
2. Slept under the stars. Slept in your car in a road ditch.
3. Played in a band. Paid your own tuition.
4. Visited Hawaii. Visited any country with a average per capita income of less than $2500.
5. Watched a meteor shower. Watched a tornado from your porch.
6. Given more than you can afford to charity. Given a donation instead of gifts to family, friends or coworkers.
7. Been to Disneyland/world. Done the behind the scenes tour of the Magic Kingdom.
8. Climbed a mountain. Hiked at over 13,000 feet. Without oxygen. Smoking on breaks.
9. Held a praying mantis. Held a python longer than you are tall.
10. Sang a solo. Hiked where there were bear warnings.
11. Bungee jumped. Skiied a black diamond run.
12. Visited Paris. Visited Mandalay.
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea. Been stranded on an island overnight.
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch. Wrote and illustrated a children's story.
15. Adopted a child. Adopted a pet from an animal shelter.
16. Had food poisoning. Had Montezuma's revenge.
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty. Spent the night in a real monastary.
18. Grown your own vegetables. Run your own still.
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France. Seen aboriginal art on Uluru.
20. Slept on an overnight train. Sat beside people with live chickens in a cage on a train.
21. Had a pillow fight. Had a fist fight.
22. Hitch hiked. Hopped a train.
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill. Took a day off without giving an excuse.
24. Built a snow fort. Used a bb gun to shoot your friends - for fun.
25. Held a lamb. Emptied a rat trap.
26. Gone skinny dipping. Spent a day on a nude beach.
27. Run a marathon. Bicycled across a state.
28. Ridden a gondola in Venice. Ridden a hot air balloon over the Masi Mara.
29. Seen a total eclipse. Seen a volcano erupt.
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset. Watched a sunrise from the Greek island beach you just slept on.
31. Hit a home run. Got a home run on a first date.
32. Been on a cruise. Been on a white water rafting trip.
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person. Hked to the Hanakapi'ai Falls on the Nai Paii coast in person.
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors. Learned that one of your ancestors was a criminal.
35. Seen an Amish community. Visited a Peruvian village in the Andes.
36. Taught yourself a new language. Taught yourself a computer program.
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied. Been stranded away from home with no money at all.
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person. Seen the world's largest reclining Budda in person.
39. Gone rock climbing. Climbed the Great Pyramid of Giza without getting caught.
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David in person. Seen the mosaics on Mount Nebo in Jordan.
41. Sung Karaoke. Did a folk dance.
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt. Walked up to a bison - on purpose.
43. Bought a stranger a meal in a restaurant. Eaten something you couldn't translate in a restaurant.
44. Visited Africa. Worked in Africa.
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight. Gone snowshoeing by moonlight.
46. Been transported in an ambulance. Been carried on a strecher.
47. Had your portrait painted. Bought an original piece of art.
48. Gone deep sea fishing. Gone wreck diving.
49. Seen the Sistine chapel in person. Seen a Celtic cross in the Irish countryside.
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Been to the catacombs in Paris.
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling. Seen a big shark while scuba diving.
52. Kissed in the rain. Made love in a public place.
53. Played in the mud. Taken a mind-alteringl substance.
54. Gone to a drive-in theater. Visited Simon's Cabaret in Phuket, Thailand.
55. Been in a movie. Directed a play.
56. Visited the Great Wall of China. Ridden a bicycle in Xian and gotten lost.
57. Started a business. Smuggled something through customs.
58. Taken a martial arts class. Built an entire building.
59. Visited Russia. Read all of War and Peace.
60. Served at a soup kitchen. Eaten in a soup kitchen.
61. Sold Girl Scout cookies. Bought a fake Rolex.
62. Gone whale watching. Gone Fairy Penguin watching on Philip Island.
63. Gotten flowers for no reason. Gotten a smile from a beautiful woman for no reason.
64. Donated blood. Sold blood because you needed the money.
65. Gone sky diving. Flown in an experimental aircraft.
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp. Visited the Holocaust Museum in Berlin.
67. Bounced a check. Pawned something.
68. Flown in a helicopter. Flown in an ultralight.
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy. Taught your grandson a game.
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial. Toured Gettysburg.
71. Eaten Caviar. Eaten a sheep's eye.
72. Pieced a quilt. Installed a new toilet.
73. Stood in Times Square. Stood in Tianamen Square.
74. Toured the Everglades. Visited cannibals in the Borneo jungle.
75. Been fired from a job. Been deliberately fired from a job.
76. Seen the Changing of the Guard in London. Taken the Jack the Ripper tour of London at night.
77. Broken a bone. Been stung by fire coral.
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle. Driven on an ice-covered lake.
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon at Havasupai.
80. Published a book. Been asked to write a forward to a book.
81. Visited the Vatican. Seen the Living Goddess in Katmandu.
82. Bought a brand new car. Drove a car with over 200,000 miles on it.
83. Walked in Jerusalem. Walked through Amsterdam's red light district.
84. Had your picture in the newspaper. Had your name in the police report of your home town paper.
85. Read the entire Bible. Read Richard Burton's translation of the Arabian Nights.
86. Visited the White House. Attended a party at the president of Singapore's mansion.
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating. Eaten food from a street vendor in Kuala Lumpor.
88. Had chickenpox. Had a concussion.
89. Saved someone’s life. Saved your own life.
90. Sat on a jury. Testified in court.
91. Met someone famous. Had something named after you.
92. Joined a book club. Wandered away from the tour group.
93. Lost a loved one. Looked for one of your children who was lost.
94. Had a baby. Helped deliver a baby.
95. Seen the Alamo in person. Seen the ruins at Coba and Uxmal.
96. Swum in the Great Salt Lake. Floated in the Dead Sea.
97. Been involved in a law suit. Been hit with a rod by the Saudi religious police.
98. Owned a cell phone. Gone for a whole day without a cell phone.
99. Been stung by a bee. Been bitten by a monkey.

Now even I don't really want to do all of these things. But I've done a heck of a lot of them. Remember - it's not the people in the nursing home with the most money but  the best stories who win. Since the nursing home is looming every closer, I suppose I better get busy!

One of the things I'll be thinking about on vacation is how I should be allocating my writing time. It's very tempting and lots of fun to do silly stuff like the list above. The white paper and books and magazine articles are much harder work, but better for the profession, better for me. Sigh... Less Skunk, more footnotes in '09, I'm afraid.

Wednesday
Dec242008

Happy Holidays and taking a break

Happy holidays to everyone.

For our Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, the LWW and are heading to the Yucatan for a week of warmth. I am not bringing a computer and plan to check e-mail less than sporadically.

Back next year...

Thanks to Bill and Nancy Booth of Cry of the Loon Resort for this year's holiday quote.
Saturday
Dec202008

What makes a good boss?

 

My first piece of advice to educational bloggers is always, 'Praise locally; complain globally." So I am going to need to be a little careful with this post. It's about my boss, Ed.

After 35 years in education, the last 12 as superintendent of our district, Ed is retiring. By any measure, Ed is the best supervisor I've ever had. I can say this now, and say it publicly, since it makes no sense to suck up to somebody who is leaving and won't be able to help your causes much. But it's true and his announcement has had me reflecting about what qualities Ed displayed that made him a good boss. And wonder if I learned something from him.

!. Interpersonal skills trump professional skills. Ed was never a classroom teacher or principal. He came up through the district's ranks via the business office. He did get a license in educational administration late in his career, but as far as I know, Ed never taught a lesson to third graders or supervised a faculty. But he could  powerfully empathize with teachers and administrators (and custodians and secretaries and bus drivers and possibly tech directors). This is why the appointment of a "non-educator" to educational leadership positions and alternate routes to becoming a teacher are not as troubling to me as to some, I suppose.

2. Give others a job and let them do it. Whether deserved or not, Ed put his faith in his people, respected their expertise, and let them do their jobs without interference. Would this be called macro-management? In turn, I never felt that I needed to be as responsible to anyone as I needed to be responsible to Ed. Is that reciprocal phenomena universal?

3.Be open and collaborative, but step in when needed. I suppose like many organizations, our district runs by committee. And given the theories of "collective intelligence," this may be the reason why most of the decisions made are pretty good ones. (Should the poor decisions be blamed on "collective stupidity?") Ed regularly attended the committees on which I serve or chair, but never dominated. But the interesting thing is that Ed would give groups just so much time to come to consensus, and then have the cojones courage to unilaterally make a decision when a collaborative one could not be made.

4. Be visible. Ed was really good at convincing our community (of which less than 20% of households have kids in school) to tax themselves for the betterment of education. His track record for passing referendums is outstanding. But it didn't just happen - Ed took his show on the road speaking to dozens of service and community groups in an honest, compelling way. He is a familiar figure at our district's sporting events, holiday program and fund raisers. (He is a good Kiwanian as well.) "80 percent of success is just showing up," Woody Allen once said. Ed may be proof of that. Oh, one reason he gave for retirement is that he just can't handle ten hour days any more.

5. Keep a sense of perspective. If I have one frustration with Ed and our district, it's that we are not more innovative with technology. I get no traction on one-to-one initiatives; small support for integrated tech skills in staff development; faint support for "21st century skills" for kids. Most of the tech budget goes to maintain. Ed's accountant mind mostly appreciates, I believe, the data crunching side of technology, not the creative, empowering side of it. (His PowerPoint slides are black and white and all bullet points and graphs.)  In many ways our district could be the poster child for allowing "the good to stand in the way of great" as Collins describes the condition. When we ask for referendums and new buildings, we tend to go for the Chevy, not the Lincoln. But interestingly enough, the district has won awards for having a great school board, for its fiscal practices, for its mentoring program and other, perhaps less flamboyant, efforts. I suspect we are about as good as our Minnesota modesty will allow us to be. Thanks to Ed's perspective, this is a school district one can be proud to serve in.

6. Finally, be a decent human being. If I had only a single word to describe Ed, it would be "decent." I have never seen him lose his temper, put down another person, or treat anyone disrespectfully. His sense of humor is never far from the surface. He rarely accepts credit, but credits others for the district's wins. He is honestly humble and self-deprecating. One of the highest accolades bestowed on a Minnesotan is to say "he's a good guy." Ed's a good guy.

I wrote that Ed was never a classroom teacher in his career. But I do believe he was a teacher, at least to me - teaching by example. I don't have Ed's work ethic, his patience, his humility, or his empathic strengths, but I do try to exhibit his good qualities when I can.

The old adage is that we teach the way we have been taught. Perhaps we should add to that, we lead the way we have been lead.

So readers, what are the qualities you most admire in your boss? I am sure he/she must have some!