Whistler Village

March 15, 2010

Take me out to the ball game

June 12, 2008

Shavuos came and went.  The last day I walked out to Cambridge and saw a couple friends who have graduated and are leaving.  One, Haviva, finished at Harvard Kennedy School of Government and is going to continue her adventures in Seattle helping to lead Teachers without Borders. (after all types of Harvard -sponsored adventures to Africa, Kosovo, and most recently, meeting Hizbollah and Syrian leadership a week ago. yes, Assad too.)

Got a call from my friend Amy yesterday afternoon- did I want to go with her to a Red Sox game?  She called the box office and snagged some last minute tickets to the Orioles game and they were reasonably priced.  I whipped up some tuna salad.  Sat behind home plate.  Terrific view.  Beautiful weather.  Great time.

Feel like I’m closer to having officially visited Boston now. (Still need to do a Duck tour and walk the Freedom Trail though.)

Video: Jill Taylor at TED Conference

June 2, 2008

For Jill Taylor video, click here

Jill Taylor has been getting quite a bit of press as of late- Oprah. NY Times. I’m sure there’s others. This video is over 18 minutes long; however, don’t let that stop you from making the time to watch it if you haven’t seen it. A rare, authentic and powerful presentation of intellectual and emotional engagement.

I received a few emails about this video and will paste a couple into the comments section.

Sunday sail & bike

June 1, 2008

Beautiful weather.

Went sailing with John and Nachum in Boston harbor out of Courageous Sailing club.

We didn’t sail in the boats pictured below but this is what the view looked like:

The club is not far from the Boston Coast Guard station- you can see the cutters, RHIBs, and other craft tied up at their pier. Thought of all my CG friends. Great people. Remembered I need to call my friend Roland, a retired USCG CDR, as we passed a returning buoy tender- he used to command one.

When we returned I met up with Mike and biked around Jamaica Pond and the Arnold Arboretum (about 5 miles from where I live). Knew my backyard was beautiful but didn’t have a chance to explore it until today. This picture doesn’t do it justice.

Book review: blink

June 1, 2008

Finally got around to reading the book blink by Malcolm Gladwell. He explores some of the ways we make decisions that do not depend on information & analysis. Some memorable points:

1. Too much info can inhibit insight or even lead to false conclusions. Liked his example of the Pentagon war game team that had mountains of information- and their ships were sunk by a nimble, opposing force who had neither access to excessive information nor ability to communicate detailed commands top-down.

Reminded me of Ruth Clark and other education researchers who have looked into how too much information inhibits our ability to learn (Cognitive Load Theory). Chip and Dan Heath in Made to Stick have also discussed the curse of (too much) information as inhibiting a novice’s ability to recall information.

2. “In the act of tearing something apart, you lose its meaning.” [p 125]

Looking at constituent parts can also inhibit physical performance according to The Inner Game of Tennis by Tim Gallwey. You won’t improve someone’s forehand by giving them advice on some specific element of their stroke, e.g. “hold your wrist like this at this point in the stroke.” If someone is beating you in tennis, he suggests you compliment them on their stroke. That gets them out of the flow and their performance breaks down. I tried this 10 years+ ago against my friend Gavin who was beating me in squash and won the only set I took from him.

3. Don’t underestimate rules & principles to coordinate effective behavior. Improv (and jazz) may be spontaneous but are hardly random. Think Command and Out-of-Control.

4. We are not the autonomous, rational decision makers we think we are; the unconscious has huge power. It influences and can be influenced for better and worse. He shared research on the affect of packaging on our consumer product preferences; an anecdote about how more females are now hired in orchestras during blind auditions; and examples of how we affected by preconceptions about race.

5. At a certain point emotional arousal completely shuts down information processing.

Amazing dynamic graffiti

June 1, 2008

learn more about the artist click here

Marc Rosenberg visit at SDSU

May 30, 2008

My good friend from grad school, Yiftach, sent me a text message that Marc, a well-known elearning guru, was speaking at SDSU on a live, private webcast. I had planned to go to the gym but sat down and watched. Should’ve gone to the gym.

He’s a very entertaining figure; but, like I told YL after the talk, it was a bit like eating sugar cereal. It was easy to consume but had questionable nutritional value and certainly didn’t energize me to get through my day.

The problem was that he was stuck on being entertaining with his Dilbert cartoons and basking in an opportunity to reiterate the same dreary points we find in the professional learning mags. Usually in articles called “The Top 5 Ways to Justify Your Existence to Your CEO,” the points he made were essentially about all the ways training people should approach organizational problems from the point of view of the managers and leadership, and not with geeky learning theory language. He held up a recent book on cognitive load theory and said something to the effect of, “This is genuinely interesting stuff but it is basically useless to the people you work for. They don’t care.” Was this a dig at the Ed Tech curriculum to think about how to better prepare students to work in their field?

What irked me in particular was that I thought he blew an opportunity to inspire and guide actions. Had he shared details around the success stories, the wins that people in the field have achieved, this would have been a more worthwhile hour.

Memorial Day: I’m a Boy Scout?

May 27, 2008

Just got back from my Memorial Day weekend trip to Camp No Be Bo Sco (pron: “know be BAH sko”) with Boston’s Troop 54. Northern New Jersey adjacent to the Appalachian Trail.

Drove down with Howard Spielman- probably the best introduction to scouting I could’ve had. An old-timer whose kids have long gone through the program, he still leads the troop and wears as many patches as a general. Tell a Boy Scout you hung out with a guy who received a Silver Beaver and they’ll know the type.

The camp consists of a several tent sites placed around central facilities like the dining hall. The tent sites have either @20 wooden platforms onto which we pitched our tent or they have “lean-tos” which are modest 3-walled wooden shelters. Many families came down so there were a number of women and girls there too- including Girl Scouts.

There was a small contingent of Conservative Jews there and even a Karaite I heard about- but mostly Orthodox Jewish troops from D.C to Boston. The kitchen was kosher and various things were done to make the camp ready for Shabbat observance.

Random collection of images/memories/thoughts from the weekend:

  1. Gathering in one of the old huts on site (with the residual scents of wood-fire stoves long ago used)
  2. Avoiding bear scat (i.e. poop) on the trails
  3. Swatting gnats mid-afternoon
  4. Dodging caterpillars who seemed to be dropping from everywhere
  5. Stumbling over to a tent of chattering boys at 5:00 am and telling them, “Gentlemen, you’re speaking to loudly and you woke me up.” (even with my ear plugs in)
  6. Listening to brave but less-than-perfect bugle efforts in the morning
  7. Hearing some goofy camp songs long ago forgotten like “greasy grimy gopher guts”
  8. Bundling up on cool evenings- and wondering how these youngsters were running around in shorts
  9. Teaching a few boys and girls to fish- including helping a couple of the girls to reel in the little perch we caught on worms
  10. Latrines/Andy Gumps + 125 people + 3 days = yuck
  11. Drifting through the variety of classes that were taught so scouts could earn merit badges- Attend a class on auto mechanics = get a merit badge for auto mechanics. Merit badges = moving through the ranks of scouting. Sat in on all or some of classes on archery, rife, auto mechanics, bow/arrow construction, plumbing, personal finance, citizenship, knife & axe skills. Truth be told I found the quality of delivery to vary widely and think that they could really use some instructor guide materials to help Subject Matter experts to be more effective communicators.
  12. Sitting around a campfire in our tent site on the last night with our group (when was the last time you sat at a campfire? Definitely something that is good for the soul.)
  13. Reflecting with other attendees on developing an integrated curriculum and ways to make the merit badge content more relevant- e.g. if you’re going to define interest in the personal finance course, why not mention some points about what Jewish law has to say about collecting interest? The Scouts provide an infrastructure in which local communities can provide growth experiences for children and those local communities can be pretty diverse. It doesn’t seem to me that they’re attached to the idea that there is one American identity.
  14. Eating truly amazing diversity and quantity of food- shocking, really but no so much when you consider the volunteers.
  15. Appreciating volunteers as they do virtually all the work – these people plan for this annual event a year in advance. Truly a remarkable and eclectic group of devoted people. as Howard says, “You couldn’t pay people to do the work the volunteers do.”
  16. Gaining appreciation for the rules and structures used to maintain order over a large group (of children) such as that sign that Scouts make when they call for silence in a large group- hold up three fingers.
  17. Sitting in on a couple of “Review Boards.” This I find remarkable. In order for a Scout to advance to the next rank (the most famous and highest being Eagle), he needs to sit in front of 3 adults (none of whom can be his scoutmaster) to review and guide the child’s maturation. Now I see why scouting has succeeded- children grow through this program of experiential education and clearly defined stages which have required and scout-choice activities. These experiences are followed by ample opportunities for reflection with mentors. Finally, they are groomed to assume leadership by attending to younger scouts.
  18. Seeing why scouting can have problems- besides the possibilities for clash of personalities in group leadership, the scout emphasis on obedience and other “traditional values” clashes with the snarky, irreverent (think Jon Stewart) tones of pop culture. I must confess to feeling that tension myself.
  19. No ticks on my tick check last night.

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May 21, 2008

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