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Friday
May162008

On trail, off line

I am at two with nature. Woody Allen

Up to 200 people each year take three weeks "through hiking" the 200 mile long Superior Hiking Trail, starting at one of the trail that stretches from the Canadian border to Two Harbors, MN.

My friend Cary and I will not be among them.

But we are tackling the route in sections that fit our stamina and ability to be gone from our jobs. We're hoping to hike about 25 miles over three days this weekend. It's a start. Rather than our usual meandering annual jaunt, this year we have A PLAN. We are starting on the north end of the trail and walking south until we get to Duluth. We estimate it will take 10 years unless both get fired and have little else to do with our lives.

lostinthewild.jpgCary Griffith is an expert on being lost. I am not sure I find that a comfort. His book Lost in the Wild (a classic in the survival genre) is a fantastic read and should be in every middle and high school library on the planet, especially for reluctant male readers. If they weren't reluctant readers before they started the book, they will be afterward. (That's a joke.) Even if I wasn't Cary's friend and even I wasn't given prominence - OK, mention - in the acknowledgements, I would still recommend this compelling story.

If you would like a sample of Mr. Griffith's prose, try "Surviving Cascade," a re-telling of the manly adventures of the author, his friend Doug, and their boys - Nick, Noah and Brady. It recounts the hike our sons still lovingly refer to as "The Death March." (See, boys, didn't we tell you that you really don't need all your toes?)

Here is part of the trail's description from its official website:

The Trail is routed principally along the ridgeline overlooking Lake Superior. At its lowest point, the Trail goes along the lakeshore, which is 602 feet above sea level. At its highest point the Trail is 1750 feet above sea level and more than 1000 feet above Lake Superior. The Trail is characterized by ascents to rock outcroppings and cliffs, and descents into numerous river and creek valleys crossed by attractive and functional bridges. Panoramic overlooks of Lake Superior, the Sawtooth Mountains and inland woodlands, lakes and rivers are abundant along the length of the Trail. At many points, the Trail follows rivers and creeks, often for distances of a mile or more, show-casing waterfalls and rapids, bends and deep gorges where thousands of years of rushing water has cut into layers of ancient volcanic rock.

I can attest to the region's beauty and ruggedness. It will be an awesome hike. Oh, the last website update from May 17th indicated there was still snow in areas along the trail. I'm packing my long johns. And the LWW suggested I bring aspirin for mornings after sleeping on the ground.

Anyway the Blue Skunk will be off line for a few days. Enjoy the respite.

mnjohnson.jpg

 

Thursday
May152008

Brady on Pink

My 22-year-old son Brady's take on Daniel Pink's latest book, The Adventures of Johnny Bunko:

Hi Dad,
 
I thought Johnny Bunko was fantastic, it was a very relevant kind of motivation for young adults today. The art style and the characters are a fantastic way to get a message across that kids normally wouldn't even be receptive to. It almost works as kind of a gateway to this kind of thinking, and makes me want to read more of these kinds of books. I wish I had something like this before I started college to put me in the right mindset for the real world. I'm keeping this book and these lessons on hand for a long time as a reminder of what I really want to get out of life.
 
 Looking forward to Memorial Day weekend. Do you think we can squeeze in Indiana Jones?
 
 Love,
 
 Brady

(A scan of his college tuition bill was attached.)

 I sent Brady's review to Mr. Pink, and he responded:

Doug --

Thanks for this.  You (and he) made my day. Brady has kept me in the writing business for at least a few more weeks!  

Thanks again.

Cheers,
Dan

Pretty cool, I thought.

Looking for a great graduation gift this spring?

I have to say that Brady is a pretty cool kid. He's the one that draws the skunks for my blog's heading, did the art work of Machines Are the Easy Part, and still is willing to have the occasional lunch or dinner with his old man. Check the latest custom art work:

sacredcow.jpg

A sacred cow.

 bsgardening.jpg

A gardening skunk

 bspicnic.jpg

Picnicking skunks.

 And of course the rollerblading skunk in the header of the blog (at least today).

It's wonderful to have children of whom one can be proud, and LWW and I are four for four.

The grandsons look promising as well.

Wednesday
May142008

Library design - flexibility and the future

des14.jpg
A computer lab on the floor of Dakota Meadows Media Center, supported by in floor computer wiring and electrical outlets.

des15.jpg
Red indicates under-floor conduit though which wiring can be run through the floor or the library.

About the only safe prediction about the future is that technology will change. Resources will change in format. Learning activities will change. Good school library design dictates that spaces are designed to be as flexible as possible. Running plenty of conduit and putting electrical outlets through spaces are still good practice. Try to place classrooms or other spaces adjacent to the media center so that they can be incorporated into the library if space needs increase. Or try to make sure there is an outside wall where an addition can be built if necessary.

At the same time, it's a mistake to design for technologies that do not yet exist, no matter how tantalizingly close they appear. E-books are not replacing print materials at this time. Wireless network access remains too slow, insecure and unreliable to replace Ethernet. Presentations are still given in physical space as well as virtually.

This "design principle" is probably the most important, but most difficult to practice. How have you seen library spaces made flexible and future-friendly?