Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Too Much Entitlement

The caption reads "A mistake by the school is keeping Jaylyn Barlow from graduating." Yet, in paragraph four "she admits not applying herself to class work at North Central in her early high school years." Seems to me the media is missing the connection between school work and the reward.Read the story from tonight's local news 

Monday, May 28, 2012


There I WAS
   LOST in a dark sea
   not KNOWING
      North from South
      or where sky and sea collided.
   WRAPPED in a cold shroud
      of darkness
ALL my existence
   seemed formless and void.

Then in a blinding moment
   and breath taking power
      You ROSE on my horizon
   with all the splendor
of a newborn day.

The sparkle of 1000 jewels
   splashed a waterfall of colors
      all AROUND me.

VIOLET so deep
      that all you thoughts
      could never be comprehended
Waves of INDIGO
      leaped to embrace
      a cheerful expanse of sky
Flashes of GREEN
      revealed lush expanses
      cool retreats from life's harshness
YELLOW rays of laughter
      filtered through my head
      driving out the dust and cobwebs
ORANGE flames of warmth
      evaporated my cold shroud
Your CRIMSON passion
      quickly engulfing the void.

In that blinding moment
   You BURST into my life
like the dawn of creation
      warm and bright

You are my life
   my joy
      my all.

Poem originally composed on January 4, 1995

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Letting Go

As the world begins to dim
I realize I may never see her again
It breaks my heart to loosen my grasp
But without free hands I cannot finish my work.

The pain sears deep as my hands
Receive the blows
I hear the cries from distant lands
Why can't I let go?

So now I continue my work
Licking the gashes on my hands
But the pain has moved to my heart
Because I know I'll have to let go again.

Poem originally composed on Tuesday, April 6, 1993 after visiting with an old friend for the last time.

The Fence

How deep is the hue of the sky that is blue
How green is the grass on the plain
Look at the fence in the brush so dense
Rusting with the coming of each Spring rain.

How many of us are like that fence,
   decaying every year?
We think we are so very modern,
   when in fact we fear,
And wish that we could be refreshed
   by the rain so dear.

Do we long to be the brush,
   the grass,
   the sky,
or do we love the life of the fence,
   living a dying lie?

Poem originally composed by me on September 20, 1988

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Specctr Knows

Style sheet, blueprint, stack of sticky notes - tracking data points has become easier with Specctr. In my web design class I've had them handwriting (typing) blueprints for their e-portfolios.
For students who have yet to grasp the value of pre-writing, planning ahead and not waiting to the last minute and winging it, blueprints are more of an after the fact documentation. Their value though comes during the construction process. Consistency of design, position, color give a unified and cohesive look. It's like getting dressed in the morning.
That's where Specctr becomes valuable. It's an Adobe Fireworks plugin that identifies and builds the project blueprint for you. Of course, sticking with the blueprint is still your own problem, but considerable less time would be spent juggling through specs or meticulously copping them down.

Friday, May 25, 2012

An Open Letter to the Class of 2012 (and Seniors Every Year)

Your senior pranks gall me.

I have spent my entire year, for some, several years working with you, helping you, caring for you and agonizing over you. As a teacher, I love you.

And then you turn around and treat me like this?!?

What if I trashed your room, or filled your car with junk so that it wasn't drivable? What did I do when you left your phones in my room, or your books and jackets? I took care of them, because I cared about you. That's what RESPECT looks like.

Today, you disrespected me. And not just me, but the entire school - the underclassmen, the staff, the teachers, the building.

And it hurts.

Right now I can't even be in the same room with you. I am disappointed in your choices.

Some of you are probably saying, "but it wasn't me, I wasn't involved!" But that's not how everyone else took it. Today, you are a class. As a class, the seniors, did it. The actions of a few CAN damage the testimony of the whole. Yes, sometimes in life you get the brunt of another person's dumb actions.

It's time to grow up.

You can start with an apology.

UPDATE: Thanks Lukas for stepping up and apologizing for your classmates. I know you didn't participate, so it means even more that you took the initiative to set it right. That was courageous.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Computer Humor

Not sure where this originated. It was forwarded to me from my uncle. If Bud Abbott and Lou Costello were alive today, their infamous sketch, 'Who's on First?' might have turned out something like this:

ABBOTT: Super Duper computer store. Can I help you?
COSTELLO: Thanks I'm setting up an office in my den and I 'm thinking about buying a computer.
COSTELLO: No, the name's Lou.
ABBOTT: Your computer?
COSTELLO: I don't own a computer. I want to buy one.
COSTELLO: I told you, my name's Lou.
ABBOTT: What about Windows?
COSTELLO: Why? Will it get stuffy in here?
ABBOTT: Do you want a computer with Windows?
COSTELLO: I don't know. What will I see when I look at the windows?
ABBOTT: Wallpaper.
COSTELLO: Never mind the windows. I need a computer and software.
ABBOTT: Software for Windows?
COSTELLO: No. On the computer! I need something I can use to write proposals, track expenses and run my business. What do you have?
ABBOTT: Office.
COSTELLO: Yeah, for my office. Can you recommend anything?
ABBOTT: I just did.
COSTELLO: You just did what?
ABBOTT: Recommend something.
COSTELLO: You recommended something?
COSTELLO: For my office?
COSTELLO: OK, what did you recommend for my office?
ABBOTT: Office.
COSTELLO: Yes, for my office!
ABBOTT: I recommend Office with Windows.
COSTELLO: I already have an office with windows! OK, let's just say I'm sitting at my computer and I want to type a proposal. What do I need?
COSTELLO: What word?
ABBOTT: Word in Office.
COSTELLO: The only word in office is office.
ABBOTT: The Word in Office for Windows.
COSTELLO: Which word in office for windows?
ABBOTT: The Word you get when you click the blue 'W'.
COSTELLO: I'm going to click your blue 'W' if you don't start with some straight answers. What about financial bookkeeping? Do you have anything I can track my money with?
ABBOTT: Money.
COSTELLO: That's right. What do you have?
ABBOTT: Money.
COSTELLO: I need money to track my money?
ABBOTT: It comes bundled with your computer.
COSTELLO: What's bundled with my computer?
ABBOTT: Money.
COSTELLO: Money comes with my computer?
ABBOTT: Yes. At no extra charge.
COSTELLO: I get a bundle of money with my computer? How much?
ABBOTT: One copy.
COSTELLO: Isn't it illegal to copy money?
ABBOTT: Microsoft gave us a license to copy Money.
COSTELLO: They can give you a license to copy money?
ABBOTT: Why not? THEY OWN IT! (A few days later)
ABBOTT: Super Duper computer store. Can I help you?
COSTELLO: How do I turn my computer off?
ABBOTT: Click on 'START'…….

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The World Of Work

Allianz Arena, MunichEver wonder what it will take to get a certain job? The folks who brought us the ACT have also provided a The World of Work Map. As students explore their desired career options, the wheel provides them with the current opportunities for that occupation, potential income and the type of skills and studies required.
Besides its obvious use by the guidance office, teachers can find explanation or application of their classes to a variety of fields. For example, why would a surgical technician need my programming class? The answer is that someone in the OR needs to understand the robot performing the surgery.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Where Do You Know?

Mapping Wikipedia is a Google Maps mash up that identifies the location of Wikipedia entries based on the geo-location data found on the wiki entry.
As a former geography teacher, I can think of several ways to explore our world with this kind of data mining. But as a web technology teacher, I find that the site shows just how polarized web content can be. Clearly the majority of wiki entries in English are about places in Europe and the United States. Language still divides us as it has ever since the Tower of Babel.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

It's Nice To Be Appreciated

Half way through teacher appreciation week I received my first tokens of gratitude. As a high school teacher, these items seldom appear on my desk. But my elementary students always amaze me with their affection and comments.
Today I received candy, cookies and a couple Dr. Peppers with several big "thank you's". But the one that made me smile the biggest was a handwritten card. In classic fourth grade penmanship, the note read:
Dear Mr. Biddle,
Thank you for all the time and commitment you have put in to teach us kids about advertising, and computers. Thanks for letting A. and I use the big screen! :) It was fun. I look forward to Wednesdays because of computer.

Storm The Castle Again

Twenty years ago I entered the castle for the first time. Despite an amber screen, the 3D graphics were cutting edge. I was surprised my parents let me have a first-person shooting game. No longer was it a pixel character popping off shots; it was me, the player.
Now you can relive the excitement, turn by turn through Castle Wolfenstein with a free, web browser version released by Bethesda Software over at