Saturday, August 23, 2014

[An Abecedary of Cape-Wearing] H is for Helping

Superheroes are helpful. It’s sort of their job. They help ladies in distress on a regular basis. They help save bus-fulls of innocent victims from certain death. They save folks who inadvertently fall off tall buildings. And they save cities and planets from evil-doers and imminent destruction.

Some superheroes wage an internal battle with their superhero status, but are convinced as they are continually called in to help and generally save the day.
Some superheroes wage a similar and equally internal battle to stay away from polite society in order to save folks from themselves. The Hulk for example. His main role as a superhero is to keep himself from hurting the wrong people--to try to be in the right place with the right amount of control to unleash fury on the baddies, but keep it away from the nice folks.

Either way, the nice folks get used to it. Metropolis, Gotham City, New York City, Smallville, Earth…the buildings collapse, the subway goes off the rails, the bridges break and the people call for their hero to help. At first they are there without a hitch and the crowd cheers. Later, they are waylaid by multiple and simultaneous disasters or nefarious evil-doers and the crowd questions their loyalty. Why aren’t they there right away?  Why are they allowing this to happen? Why do the bridges keep falling down (okay, they don’t ask that last one, but I totally would)?

At this point the iniquitous, the vile, the power-hungry, the vengeful, the diabolical--the baddies figure it out. Make the people believe the hero doesn’t want to help, won’t help, can’t help, and they will turn on him. Hold him prisoner so that he can’t, threaten him with the death of his tortured love interest, convince her she is out of control, blow up his mansion--make it so they can’t help and let disappointment to their dirty work.

At this point you may be wondering where I’ve hidden the silver lining, and you are right to believe it is here. Each time this happens (and it happens so often you’d think they’d figure it out more quickly), our heroes come to a similar conclusion. One person can’t be the only helper. One person alone can’t save the city. The hero has to start helping the city help themselves. Rebuild the building, shore up the dam, support the good guys. That’s how to truly save the city.

There will always be political rhetoric in education. We have made the grand and important statement that all children have a right to a free and appropriate public education. That is no small feat. We as a whole have embarked on a project that will continually require every bit of our strength, stamina, and heroism to achieve. It can’t be done by one person, one agency, one program. Each of us has some level of experience in education--as a learner, as a parent, as a teacher, and we are all stakeholders.Education and education reform require a daily promise from all stakeholder to do well by our children. We are each superheroes in this commitment and we are equally responsible for saving the day.

Friday, August 22, 2014

[New Favorite Things Friday] Precision

This week I noticed myself drawn to things that helped me be precise. If you know me, you may know that I vacillate between precision and a chaotic sort of gut-feel driven decision-making.  This was a week of precision.

What The Font?

I discovered What The Font? a little less than half an hour ago (said in Inigo Montoya voice--holla if you follow*).  Honestly, I can't believe I didn't go looking for it before. When I am working with any sort of technology, I often think it should be doing more for me than it does. Typically, I Google the thing I want it to do and find that either yes, it can be done or I am a wee bit lofty in my expectations. In the case of What The Font? I was trying to identify a font as I do on a daily basis. I was mirroring a graphic from a website (not copying, honest) and wanted the exact font. I held a brief conversation with myself:

Me: Self, shouldn't the internets be able to figure this out?
Self: You are being too lofty again, dear. There is no way the internet can recognize random fonts.
Me: But don't you think it should?
Self: Well of course dear, check if you must*

I typed "font reader” in the search bar and viola!--the first hit was from a site called  It was post from 2007! I was not being lofty!  What The Font? can identify fonts for you!  Huzzah! 


Just after my font success I wanted to know an exact color from the same website (still not copying, honest). I searched "color picker", found a Google Chrome Extension, started to download it, and had another conversation with myself:

Me: I am absolutely sure I would have done this before now
Self: Yes dear, considering your strong feelings about color.
Me: I wonder why I didn't?
Self: Perhaps you did do, dear. Go ahead and check.

And there it was in my Chrome Extensions bar... ColorZilla. It does everything you might hope for and more. I was immediately gifted with the RGB numbers and full code for the color I wanted.

Washi Tape Planning Boards

When the to-do lists get long, I need to manage them in some way. This week a shiny new magnetic white board was installed on my office wall. Granted, I had planned a lovely book shelf quilt wall-hanging for that wall, but considering the size of the to do list, that has fallen to the wayside. I tried listing the to-dos by color, but was not feeling the result. I used washi tape to divide up the board and categorize the to-dos. I also made some quick color-coded magnets by using pre-stickified magnets and pre-colorfied flat-bottom marbles. Could I have marked something off the to-do list in the time it took me to do that? Most certainly. Would it have felt nearly as good?  Not even a little bit.


 I like to wear my wrist-band fit tracker, but it looks and feels clunky after a few days of constant wear. I've seen a lot of thread-wrapped bangles around and about lately, and thought I might be able to fancy it up a bit. I wanted it to stay smooth and unobtrusive, so I had to wrap it very carefully to keep it lined up. I wonder how long it will last and not become pill-y?


I read a blog post about Verilux light bulbs and think I might need to try one. Imagine the precision color-picking to be found with light bulbs like this! 

*In case you wondered

**My self is kind of like Mrs. Doubtfire in these situations.