Thursday, December 18, 2008

When the Nest Empties

When the house empties, often the marriage collapses or the adults get sick. I think that's because people are living a story that doesn't make sense but they were too busy to notice. So what do people do? - They create an inciting incident. They give themselves permission to toss out everything they've created over 25 years and do some crazy reaction story by stuffing everything they hate about their current lives into a cannon and then introduce a new storyline from the splatter that hit the wall.

Jurgen Wolff has provided us with the story spine - how to reduce a story to its simplest structure.

1. Once upon a time (basic setup)
2. Every day (conditions at start)
3. But one day ... (inciting incident)
4. Because of that....(conflict moves story along)
5. Because of that....
6. (Repeat) (basic conflicts and escalations of act II, to the end of Act)
7. Until finally....(resolution)
8. Ever since then....(new status quo)

You have a life. Jurgen has given you a basic story structure. After 55, you should be getting to Steps 7 and 8. That will give you plenty of time for revising and polishing and publishing and maybe even profiting from a completed story.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Gen Y - Our Hope

Our best hope for pulling out of the current economic woes is Gen Y. They don't let shifting economic circumstances prevent them from embracing life, embracing adventure, moving forward. I think every Baby Boomer needs a Gen Y mentor. The current system definitely needed an overhaul. We have a lot of old, conservative, dependable stocks tumbling because the organizations are too tall, too inflexible, too distanced from the consumers. There should be some voice on the automotive board of directors to explain what lower income people require in an automobile. Executives want to wrap their aging bones in comfort and can well afford to do so seeing as they are driving company cars. Kids need a vehicle stronger than an aluminum beer can for a price lower than their annual income because unlike the executives, kids are actually consumers forking out money every month for the privilege of being able to drive to their modestly paid jobs. I'd say put a Gen Y on your board of directors but we all know where that has traditionally gone. "If you hire my kid for your corporation's special summer hiring program, I'll hire your kid from my corporation's special summer hiring program." Nice but hardly a way to broaden and diversify the voices being brought to the table. Look in the mirror and then turn around and look at the world. What always worked in the past, isn't working today. Your hope lies in Gen Y because they are still buying Christmas presents and houses and electronics and having babies and fueling the economic system after many older heads have pulled back and decided they would only act if the outcome were guaranteed, certain, sensible, a sure thing.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Blogging About Kids

I decided to give the kids a break and not exploit the details of their lives in my blogs. This was a big journey for me. I was quite proud of myself. Imagine my surprise to receive a call from one them questioning that decision. Are they the center of my universe or planets spinning on separate orbs? For a long time, they were the center of my universe or maybe I was the center of the universe. With this mother/child relationship, it's hard to tell. There are four of them and one of me so I think I was the one sitting in the hole in the center of the table equal distance from all of them. They wanted to move beyond my reach - to move away and have a life that wasn't symbiotic. But now they are buying houses and pets and building tables where they sit in the hole in the middle of the table. And thankfully, they'd like their father and I to take seats around those tables. But those tables are someone else's tables. We're not the ones holding everything together anymore. We're now on the outside of the table - we're the ones that are hard to hold - who want to take off and be with our peers. I guess there's a lot more written about needing to let go of your children than there is about how to hang on to your parents. The shift was anticipated and accepted by us. I gather it's a bit of a shock to them.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Post Menopausal Zest

In WWII, they discovered that post menopausal women were real little workhorses. Like the energizer bunny, the just kept going after the younger ones were too tired.
I think you tube has come up with the answer to this phenomenon.
I no longer have to devote any energy to saying all this stuff in the Mom Song every day
and I also do not have the frustration of having to listen to all this stuff in the Response to the Mom Song every day
It's like going into tools and doing a major delete of history and sites visited.

Urban Legend? Possibly Not
Orgasms During Childbirth? What would happen if women were taught to enjoy birth rather than endure it? This article has 395 comments and growing.

When I was in nursing school, orgasms weren't on the curriculum but there was something about women's ability to control their own pain. And then I had my first baby and questioned every single thing I had every been taught. I'm thinking it's closer to infant circumcision - hospital style. I've seen babies vomit, pee and poop while crying at the top of their little lungs during the procedure and never bought the idea that babies don't feel pain which was in vogue at the time. Let's just say my first labour was a very messy event and the epidural took affect about half a second before my heart considered quitting. That said, I continued having babies and I didn't buy the paediatric associations stand that baby boys shouldn't be circumsized. If you had to sit with 5 year old boys waiting to be circumcized the next day, you wouldn't have taken a chance on that one either.

I'm just curious about why the childbirth orgasm thing has re-surfaced. My husband heard a radio show about it during my last pregnancy which was 20 some years ago. You know why I think it's possible? Angelina Jolie reportedly says she experiences orgasms while getting tatoos. So there you have it. If pain turns you on, then childbirth is an ultimate experience. There's another possible explanation as well. In the Yukon, epidurals weren't available and I was given a drug that allowed you to feel the pain but blocked your ability to be concerned about it and then caused you to forget it. I wouldn't recommend you taking that drug however because it permanently changed my ability to process pain. Sometimes experiencing pain is a good thing. Pain is your body's way of motivating you to demand attention and act while there's still time to save your life. If I were in a delivery room with an orgasming woman in labour, I'd be wondering about a drug screen and a neurological assessment of the mom.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Popcorn & Saltzman Predictions

Jurgeon Wolff's December Brainstorm e-bulletin included this:
Trend spotters Faith Popcorn and Marian Saltzman shared their predictions with the Los Angeles Times recently. Here are some of their key prognostications:

* generational tension (recent grads will feel cheated and resent Baby Boomers);
* the entertainment industry will thrive, with a heavy emphasis on nostalgia, happy endings, and fantasy;
* a move to safer cities and an increase in escapist behaviour, including smoking and drinking;
* stronger nuclear families and families of friends (including communal living) and sharing of transportation;
* acceptance of downward mobility - going simpler, smaller, and more ecologically aware.

Why am I always so ahead of my time. Before Gen Y was even born, I was so ready to work in a flat organization that threw appreciation parties every 2 weeks but geez there I was like so underappreciated. And now the latest rage is downward mobility. Like I'm so "been there, done that". Before I'd even seen this, didn't I write that blog post on buying books for mom saying give me happiness literature. Here I am living in small town Ontario opting for way less crazy driving than Windsor. Don't I share my car so much that I hardly ever drive it. Didn't I just learn how to make a chocolate martini - heavy on the chocolate sauce. I draw the line at communal living though. I'm more the hermit living inside a cave in the middle of a desert type - well a cave with high speed internet so I can connect with family and friends. So if you don't know where to begin when it comes to creating a nostalgic, fantasy life where everything ends happily, give me a shout. That's my genre.

Canada's 100 War Dead

The Canadian people know the name and story of all 100 The average age of Canada's war dead in Afghanistan is 29 years old. Every time a death is announced, I check to see if Canada has remained true to its promise not to send children into war. There are no teenagers amongst the 100. The down side to sending adults into war is that they have dependents - 38 women and one man have now been deprived of a spouse. The war dead have left behind 63 children, ranging in age from adult to infant.

My oldest son tried to join the regular forces when he was in Gr. 11. My husband intervened. He talked to both his reserves commander and the recruitment office and told them not to accept his application until he had his Grade 12 diploma. It really wasn't an issue - the regular forces makes it difficult - almost impossible for a kid without a high school diploma to enlist.

When I look at those 100 faces, I know I am looking at the faces of committed adults who made a decision to serve their country. They paid the ultimate sacrifice because they believed in the mission. They weren't tricked into enlisting. They weren't immature kids with some movie idea of what war was all about. Even after basic training, the military doesn't send someone to Afghanistan just because they volunteer to go. Those soldiers had to prove that they had the maturity and preparation required to make sound decisions under extremely stressful conditions.

It hurts to watch each coffin return. The difference between a child soldier and an adult soldier is that we believe an adult has to do what an adult feels called to do. Life is a gift - a mother brings a child into the world and then steps back and watches what her child decides to do with this wonderful gift. Some mothers wait for the return of flag draped coffins. I watch them and cry but I get it. They did what mothers are supposed to do - they produced adults capable of making difficult, dangerous choices. It's important to look at the faces of the fallen - lest we forget.

Michael Ignatieff & his wives

I get Book TV. I recognize Michael Ignatieff but I didn't think he'd be hanging around Canada long enough that I needed to be curious about it. Well now he's leader of the Liberal Party and could be Prime Minister next month, I decided to read about him in Wikipedia and the Globe and Mail. Wow! He's even more of an original than Maggie Trudeau and she was a bona fide IT girl.
I'm coming out of my political stupor. According to my reading, he's a tell all kind of person - a trait I so enjoyed in Maggie. I'm sure Edgar Hoover is spinning in his grave. Of course who I'm really interested in are Zsuzsanna Zsohar and Susan Barrowclough - both of whom sound fascinating. Who are these women and what style of womanhood will they model for Canadian girls desperate for some new options? Harper, Martin and Chretien's wives kept a pretty low profile and Gen Y won't remember the 3 Ms - Mila, Maureen and Margaret. Let's bring the wives of the men in power out of the shadows and let them be a little fiesty. Have we ever had a Prime Minister with an ex-wife? Is that a whole, new, unchartered territory?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Annual Physical Time

The Canadian Health System sends notifications to your family physician if you are behind in your cancer screenings which makes it impossible to fall off your doctor's radar. Sometimes I'm really tempted to change to one of the many older doctors in the area who were in university with me. They've been practicing forever and wondering why they didn't take tool and die instead and would pretty much leave me alone. Instead I have a superconscious, highly motivated younger doctor who is always frustrated by me. You should be blessed by such a doctor. He'll save you in spite of yourself. So now I have a stack of requisitions for tests and am trying to figure out how to coordinate them so I only have to make one trip to Windsor. In case I've forgotten, he reminded me that I am at the age when things could start going wrong. I was listening to Prof Robert Shiller lecturing on The Universal Principle of Risk Managment: Pooling and Hedging the Risk. The basis of this is probability theory. He explained that if you have a mystical side, probability theory doesn't have a clear meaning to you. So my doctor makes objective observations and concludes there is a high probability that I'm a medical disaster zone. And I look at me and think if I just stay out of its way, I'm sure my body knows how to fix itself and besides God and I made a pack that I could have time to write and publish my thoughts as a gift to all of you.

Monday, December 8, 2008

My Fat Child Tale
If you do nothing else today, please check out the above article by Yoni Freedhoff, an obesity doctor in Ottawa who actually has a heart.
I was a fat 6 year old. I cried myself to sleep every single night and that was in the days before people were mean to fat kids.

It's possible for a baby to be the tipping point. My family was overworked and over burdened and along came an unexpected pregnancy just when they were seeing the light at the end of the childrearing tunnel and thinking life might get easier.
Absolutely everything in our family was dated from my birth. My mother had her hysterectomy was I was 4 and my grandmother had her stroke when I was six and we got hot water when I was 7 and my oldest brother died when I was in Gr. 13.

My dad had chronic glomerular nephritis which sent his blood pressure through the roof. The doctor thought he'd have a stroke if he had a nightmare so he took powerful sleeping pills to keep him from dreaming. The children's story that represented his life perspective was The Little Red Hen. My mother protected him by never allowing any of us to place demands on him. It worked. He lived to be 89.

My mom was the rose in the Little Prince. She was a rose in the midst of a cornfield. The nitrogen levels were too high for something so delicate. Her doctor pumped her full of everything he could think of to maintain the pregnancy. He thought a baby might save her. She had a major hysterectomy when I was 4 years old which plunged her into a lifelong depression. My dad thought any kind of sickness was disgraceful and my poor delicate mother would have suffered greatly if any of his relatives even suspected that she had emotional/mental struggles. So I became my mother's listener at 4 - only I didn't know it was the illness and not the truth when she told me I was a wicked, ungrateful, unlovable child.

By the time I was 5, I was really ill but it took over a year for a proper diagnosis. The doctors said I was screaming in the middle of the night because I was a spoilt brat. By the time they operated my bladder was full of scar tissue from chronic urinary tract infections. Anyone who has ever gone to a urologist knows that it involves a lot of invasive, unpleasant tests involving hospitalizations and in my case surgery. My parents protected each other by not visiting - by not being there to explain or offer support.

And then the major tragedy struck. My grandmother, the decision-maker on the farm, had a severe right-sided stroke while I was still in hospital after surgery. My dad made the doctors discharge me because he thought hearing my voice would bring my grandmother out of her coma. It did. She lived for another 10 years - until the doctors told my dad someone was going to die and he had to choose between his mother and his wife. When I returned to school following my surgery and my grandmother's stroke, I developed hepatitis and in the pictures after that I was fat. My family job became keeping grandma happy and watching that she didn't wander away. She couldn't talk, was always available and was consistently happy to see you which made her just about perfect.

So there you have it. I was sick and over-exhausted from walking a mile and half to and from school and learning all day and had very poor social skills because we didn't play after school. Even if a doctor had prescribed all the recommendations in the above article, my teenage brothers already had a pile of farm chores and were doing their best by me. We had a river behind the house and a major highway in front of the house and animals and farm equipment and sometimes hired men around so I could only play outside if grandpa was out front swinging the scythe. My dad was Chairman of the School Board all the time he had kids in school so he could hire women teachers who had raised a family and understood what life on a farm was like.

Books for Mother

I once belonged to this wonderful book club where all the members submitted the book they received as a Christmas present and we circulated those books amongst the group throughout the year. So what do you choose for your mother and all her friends to read?
They'll love anything you give because it shows they're loved enough to get something you actually picked with them in mind. As most kids live a distance from their mothers, it is very important to the community's peace of mind to know their friend has a mother/child connection.
The older I get, the less I like the tragic tales Oprah has a fondness for. The reason it's rugged when parents' die is because now one is free to honestly look at his/her life without concern of betraying or hurting anyone. It takes about 3 years of angst and soul searching to find peace and accept that we are all broken-winged birds who are frightened and try to lash out if anyone gets too close. So you finally say, we all did the best we could given our brokenness and become better people for having gone through the process.
I don't want to read sad stories of tragic lives because frankly once you are passed 55, you've seen enough real life tragedy to last a lifetime. In my childhood family pictures, only my brother and myself are still alive. Don't tell me a sad tale. I get enough of that talking on the phone.
Pick something that inspires or entertains or celebrates or something you really enjoyed that helps us know you better. In fact, what would be really great is if you pulled a book off your shelf with stuff underlined with little notes in the margin because the book we most want to read is you. People are continually evolving - nothing gives a mother greater pleasurer than knowing her child, whatever the age, is unique and a marvel.

Patience and Endurance

Maybe I should explain the reference to patience and endurance in the last post. In the Yukon, the Catholic and Anglican priests are close. The nearest colleague of your own denomination is at least a hundred miles away. Stephen arrived in Yukon fresh out of seminary so the Oblate priest was the mentor who cared about his formation the most. Father Ivan was sitting in our chaotic household trying to convince me to have 10 children. I already had 4 kids age 6 and under and was convinced that one more would be the death of me. Irish Father Ivan believed that women with 10 kids had a special wisdom - a wisdom that was disappearing from the world. So Ivan says, "Let me say a prayer for you Ruth before I go." And here's the prayer, "Please be with Ruth and grant her strength and endurance." I was young. I'm thinking why not ask for what I'd really like - "Please turn Ruth into a beauty and send a few Rock concerts her way." Now I don't care about such things but I like be happy for other people who make interesting choices.

Empty Nest Syndrome

Is there such a thing as empty nest syndrome? Well it's not whatever the researchers imagine it to be. They get the wrong answers because they start with the wrong premise and ask the wrong questions.
What do mothers miss?
We miss seeing our children in late afternoon and knowing at glance whether life has been good to them or they're coming home wounded. You still know how to make it up to them, how to heal their wounds but you're not there and you hope they can remember how to do it for themselves.
We miss shopping and cooking for a crowd of hungry people. My husband and I shouldn't, can't, don't have much enthusiasm for food anymore. Whether I cook or I don't cook doesn't much matter now - stunting our growth is now the goal.
We miss the life - the laughing, the arguing, the joys, the frustrations, the crowd of kids hanging around - the whole nine yards.
But you know what I miss most?
I don't have the same conversations with God. I'm not praying for patience or endurance or a guardian angel or please God let me live until they're raised or please don't let the Bishop think of us this year (We were easy to move because we didn't have things like a house, or a successful wife or the need for a moving company to protect expensive stuff - think the Beverley Hillbillies and you get the picture). I miss the solution to every single little thing requring a miracle.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Dividing my posting time

I'm standing at the cross-roads and decided why not take both paths - a have your cake and eat it too philosophy. My reconnecting blog is going back to its original purpose - reconnecting with the people I know in the real world. I've started a second blog E-learning thoughts at for my e-learning community and whoever else is curious. Friends call me ruth and r works for the more academic side of things. It's a balance that I've really needed. In fact, I haven't felt this energized in forever because being a clergy spouse is a shadow role and as much as I love Stephen and the church, I want a space that's just me. A space where my thoughts are my thoughts and not a reflection on anyone else.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Christmas Ideas that Fall Flat
This link which I highlighted and pasted doesn't seem to work and in this case that's a blessing. Well actually it does if you highlight the address and paste it.
Anyway it takes to a picture of Christmas gifts wrapped in plain brown paper with grey duct tape bows. You too can be Red Green. And you'd do that because? -- dollar store stuff is a dollar regardless of whether it's duct tape or a bag of colourful bows. My daughter works in IT and she tells me that it is impossible to order a brown truck with a grey interior. And I'm telling you - it's impossible to hand someone a Christmas present wrapped in butcher paper tied with duct tap because kids cry. I know that. My kids cried the year I decided to wrap the gifts in newspaper and the year that I thought school supplies would make great stocking stuffers and the year a friend offered us a guitar but didn't realize that kids actually like their Christmas present to arrive on Christmas eve or at the very latest Christmas morning, not a couple of week later. And what exactly was Stephen thinking the year he gave our elementary school sons saws - a skill saw, a scroll saw and a power saw.
It's not only wives who send husbands to Christmas Dog House Hell. Watch the video and ask yourself if duct tape Christmas bows is going to lead anywhere good.
P.S. The same site that has the duct tape bows has instructions for making felt brass knuckle ornaments. Ho,Ho,Ho and a Merry Christmas to all

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Parent/Teen relationships

This quote is just too weird. "Parents and teens can live together fairly harmoniously if parents know what to expect and are willing to make some adjustments in the way they think and act."
Isn't this a little backwards?
When the kids were little all of their friends knew to the second how long to give me space after ticking me off. Kids are smart that way. They've got lots of time to observe you, test out your reactions, figure out exactly how much they can torment you until you make that first small movement toward stopping what you're doing to chase them all outside.
Kids looked like a bunch of bear cubs to me and I looked like an old mother bear to everyone. They knew I'd defend them with my life but I was more like a piece of geography - more like a mountain than something that would change to accommodate them. The mountain does not run to the child. The child runs to the mountain.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Alternative uses for a digital camera
I'm sure there are many other uses for digital cameras, but this list of 10 useful things to photograph gets you off to a good start.
Back when the internet was young, I belonged to a creativity group that had brainstorming sessions about finding 100 uses for various and sundry things.
As I have an aversion to shopping, the more uses I can find for stuff already lying around the house the better. Don't you think everything should have at least as many uses as a Swiss army knife?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Victorian Communities

Peter and I went to the town rejuvenation meeting last night. The stores in the downtown area and many of the houses are considered Victorian. An example of a community that has played up its Victorian image is Petrolia
It's a case of after Wal-Mart and after people have left for the city jobs and educational opportunites, how do you re-create yourself. So now I'm looking at all things Victorian. My beloved grandmother was born in 1880 so there never was much of a separation between me and the Victorian age. There weren't babysitters when I was a kid. When grandmother and my mom went to their women's meetings, they had to bring the baby along. I was raised amidst tea cups and parlours and the womenly arts.

Facebook & Rectories

So why does an aging clergy wife have sexy Santa photos on her facebook? It's both very complex and very simple. Next time you are passing through a small community, notice the neighbourhood around the churches. For the past 25 years, I've looked out my rectory window and the view has been the church. They like having the clergy family close enough to provide surveillance of the church property. And where are the churches? They tend to be in the old section of the town - the area that most of the parishioners have moved away from. My yard always had children in it. I didn't ask why they were there. I figured they needed space - space away from something - a stress free zone. Sexy Santa girl wasn't one of those kids but once upon a time she dated one. We see each other at weddings. She wants to be a friend on facebook. I don't want to lose track of her. I'd like something better for her - I'd like something better for all the kids who crossed my path. The only path out of anything that I know is through education but that makes me a carpenter with only a hammer in my toolkit. Sometimes a hammer is the solution to a problem and in many cases it's not.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Struggle Revisited

I was in university during the international year of the woman. It was a heady time. We'd grown up with sexist textbooks from Dick & Jane onwards. The one day, we were told that our textbooks were biased and once that emperor is revealed to have no clothes, well you see things more clearly.
We fought for equality. We fought to have equal opportunity. We fought for a chance to complete on equal footing.
My son's Organizational Behaviour textbook is sexist. It says that women are better than men - that if there is a problem in the workplace, the atmosphere has been poisoned by male attitudes, male methods of leadership, etc.
I want to fight again. I want to fight for both my sons and my daughter to be treated like human beings with a mixed bag of talents and weaknesses. I don't want any textbook to tell my sons that they are better than my daughter or any textbook telling my daughter that she is better than my sons.
Why won't the world let people just be people? Why does some group always have to be better than some other group? We're all pieces of the puzzle, threads in the tapestry. There's so much work that needs doing - we have to collaborate, be a team, be a network, dance in the circle of life.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Isaac Mao has written an essay "Sharism - A Mind Revolution". His theory is based on neuro-biology and the working of the synapses within the human brain. One of the big questions of our day is whether information should be guarded, copyrighted and sold or accessible to all and freely shared. If you want a web source for the advantages both spiritually and creatively of sharing information, the above link is a good place to begin.
Look around any traditional, hierarchial institution and a major status indicator is who has access to what information. It's an illusion of course because someone somewhere in the world has put it on a website or blogged about it. It's hard to imagine the J. Edgar Hoover's of the world will graciously accept that their secret files aren't secret and the power now lies in sharism. We're more likely to get a return of McCarthyism with the fear of Communism being replaced by the fear of those with unauthorized ways of accessing information.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Creativity Space

Love this room A local artist rented one of the empty downtown stores and created an amazing space for crafters but it was on Main Street and had big display windows. The town is full of people creating behind closed doors but if the artists came out of their basements and dining rooms and into a communal space, the response to how they used their time would have changed. Creating behind closed doors is what a proper Victorian lady does. Gathering on Main Street would have brought out Puritan comments about wasting time when there's good works and chores that need doing. Perhaps it would have worked if they had installed closed blinds like Curves does so women can exercise without being judged. Virginia Woolf was only partially correct about women needing a room of their own and a bit of money under their control in order to create. The old quilting bees and thrashing meals should have been expanded upon allowing everyone to maximize their creativity and share their ideas and resources. Great ideas happen at the crossroads where collaboration is possible.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Charity Auctions

'Tis the season of charity auctions, potluck suppers, bazaars, $5.00 gift exchanges and bake sales. I love it because it's so much more civilized that mall shopping and the things you get were made by people you know which makes them priceless. I'm more of an Advent/Lent personality type than a Christmas/Easter person - more into contemplating than celebrating. Christmas happens because of the commitment and organizational skills of the people around me. They draw me into the spirit of the season.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


My history on facebook has been being the passive recipient of friend requests. As most of my "friends" are as young as my kids, I'm mainly seeing people using facebook as a way of sharing their photo albums or making party announcements. What other ways is facebook being used? I'd be interested in seeing some facebook pages created by people over 30.
I'm finding facebook useful when trying to locate friends I've lost touch with. Seeing the facebook page reassures people that I'm actually an old classmate of theirs. As most women in my generation have married and changed their last name, googling doesn't work very well. My alumni directory cross-references the women by current and student last name but there's nothing like that available from the college where I studied nursing.
How is facebook useful in your life?

Monday, November 3, 2008

L.M. Montgomery

I received an Anne of Green Gables collector doll when Stephen's step-mother and his father moved from a house into an apartment. As a child, I was more of a Louisa May Alcott fan because my American Aunt who taught great books, introduced me to her works first. Lucy Maude Montgomery only became of interest to me after becoming a clergy spouse. Since her family revealed that she committed suicide, her works are being re-read to see what can be learned about how they coped in a household where both adults were severely depressed.
In our last parish, I faced a cemetery every time I exited my house and in this parish I live in a house where a woman committed suicide. I wonder about her and I pray for her and I feel incredibly sorry that she died alone. I'm sure she did many marvellous things in her life but all I know about her is the ending. Maybe some day her story will also be told.

Professors & Politics
This article suggests that the political views of Professors has little influence in student voting patterns. They certainly didn't influence my voting patterns. I will edit this post when I find the insightful quote from Anne of Green Gables that explains that Canadians inherit their political affiliation. However, Peter just bought three Monty Python dvd's and the more pressing priority is to do a marathon Python viewing. I'm so excited because I didn't use to get Python humor but now I do. Sometime, somewhere something changed. Ok, I've viewed some and I know what changed and it wasn't much. I've been watching clips on youtube. A youtube clip doesn't give you the parts that are offensive. I have an appreciation for short clips from Monty Python movies. The family has had a real run of buying dvd sets on sale at Wal-Mart where at least one movie in the set is defective. When it happens 3 purchases in a row, you have to wonder why there aren't warning labels on the packaging.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Bucket List

On Halloween evening, Stephen and I watched The Bucket List. I think the most fun was watching Peter tear down the stairs every time a trick or treater came to the door. Each time it was a precious reminder of the benefit of still having a son living at home. One of these Halloweens, Stephen and I will be doing rock, scissors, papers to determine who's answering the doorbell.
I was surprised Stephen rented it because he's not into shows with dying leads. Maybe he was on a roll. We watched Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull earlier this week. I went through a phase when I liked the heroines older than myself so maybe he's going through the same phase with the heros. The movie was ok but the big debate afterwards was better. In the movie Morgan Freeman's oldest son and his very much younger daughter were both unplanned pregnancies. I could identify with that as my second brother and I, a much younger sister, were also unplanned. So we got to argue about whether or not men should just get over all that angst about how many years they are indentured to child rearing costs. We did a lot of reviewing of every scene involving Freeman's marriage. That led to a whole other debate about resentments over personal sacrifices over the course of a long-term marriage. Ok - so wives statistically outlive husbands and get to have their freedom to pursue their personal dreams after their husbands are dead and men statistically drop dead soon after retirement and don't get a big hunk of not being the provider years - what can I say - one more unfair thing in the life of a typical man. So why do men get annoyed with their wives over unplanned pregnancies and early death - they sound like acts of God to me - who knows, maybe even blessings.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Teachers as Mentors/Coach

In the Connectivism Course I am taking, the discussion today was on power and authority. I came across a couple of things on mentoring in the navy which got me wondering if the net will result in teachers being more mentors/coaches.
For a few years my husband met weekly with a student studying theology through a distance education program. They were supposed to discuss the readings and make sure the student was staying on track with his work. My husband was also expected to read and discuss the student's papers before they were forwarded on for marking and to proctor the exams. This experience led to opportunities for him to teach Old Testament studies which he loves doing.

Rejecting One's Inheritance

I'm posting this link because it reminds me of all the leaders whose heads are still in the 1960's never trust anyone in authority mindset. I'm moving on from the parody youtube videos of Sarah Palin to Monty Pythan.
Actually it reminds me a lot of my dad and myself.

Care Pathways

Finding information is all about having the vocabulary. Today SAGE Journals sent an email saying the Nov. issue of British Journal of Infection Control was available. I came across the term Care Pathways and when I plugged "Care Pathways" into google, I discovered a whole new approach to research, evidenced-based integrated health care. It is really worth taking the time to read more on the topic. This link is great: This links you to an EHMA online publication "Integrating Services for Older People" and if you look at the side bar by clicking on Chapter 5 you will get an overview of Care Pathways by Tiziano Vecchiato.
Obviously there are lots of barriers to receiving this care which mainly have to do with lack of resources but at least if you do a bit of reading the barrier won't be lack of client awareness that best practices exist and can be found online.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

CCK08 and NaNoWriMo

The Massive Online Learning Course in Connectivism started out with 2200 learners. If the amount of posting occuring on the web is an indication, participation has noticably slowed down around the half way point. By looking at the number of writers who successfully complete the very popular NaNoWriMo writing challenge of producing a 50,000 word novel in a month, I would like to suggest that the success benchmark for an open massive course should be in the area of 30% for the non-credit, non-paying group. As with the NaNoWriMo, the first group is not a typical group because those who knew about it were already loosely networked. In subsequent years, the people enrolling will less likely be of the same standing in the field. This particular grouping had a lot of Ph.D. candidates and academic designers in it.
If the statistics follow NaNoWriMo, a massive open educational online happening is not a threat to the bricks and mortar schools because the percentage that will actually complete the course will be mainly people who already have an array of skills in their academic tool box.
November is NaNoWriMo month. I've provided the url for those of you who feel up to producing a 50,000 word Novel in 30 days.
The number of entrants and the number who actually complete the 50,000 words is growing.
1999: 21 participants and six winners
2000: 140 participants and 29 winners
2001: 5,000 participants and more than 700 winners
2002: 13,500 participants and around 2,100 winners
2003: 25,500 participants and about 3,500 winners
2004: 42,000 participants and just shy of 6,000 winners
2005: 59,000 participants and 9,769 winners
2006: 79,000 participants and 13,000 winners
2007: 101,510 participants and 15,333 winners
If you do the math, the highest percentage of completers were during the first two years - 28.57% and 20.71%. Since then, the percentage of completers has fallen within a narrow range. The lowest was in 2003 with 13.73% completing their novels to a high in 2005 of 16.56%

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Fiction Writing

Jurgeon Wolff, a British screenplay writer, lists the basics of a story at - go to the tips section and then the fiction section
He lists 8 steps.
1. Once upon a time (the basic setup)
2. Every day.........(conditions at the start)
3. But one day......(inciting incident)
4. Because of that.....(conflict that moves the story along)
5. Because of that....
6. (repeat) Because of that....(basic conflicts and escalations of Act II to end of Act)
7. Until finally.........(resolution)
8. Ever since then .........(new status quo)

Understanding the spine of a good story creates a certain tension when something good happens.
Right now I feel like my life is at Step 3. And then one day she was 27th on a list. A twist from the ordinary. An unusual, unanticipated twist from all the days that went before. And the English major part of me is psyching herself up to handle the "because of that's" which are all the parts of the movie. Like Harrison Ford, I'm too old and out-of-shape and worn to realistically be a main character in a storyline but hand me the bones of a good script and I can't resist.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Authentic Learning
I'm reading Authentic Learning for the 21st Century by Marilyn Lobardi through the lens of the Anglican world I live and breathe in.
1) If a simulation of church life were created, what is the social structure and culture that gives the church world meaning and relevance? Are we forging the concrete connections: interpersonal connections between apprentice and mentors
intellectual connections between the familiar and the novel
personal connections between the learner's own goals and the broader concerns of the discipline? that George Siemen's refers to.
2)Have we laid down the scaffolding- the 4 Domains of Learning?
i) Cognitive capacity to think, solve problems, crete
ii) Affective capacity to value, appreciate, care
iii) Psychomotor capacity to move, perceive and apply physical skills
iv) Conative capacity to act, decide, commit.
3) If we looked at the faith community through fresh eyes how would we answer the questions that create meaning and relevance
i) Can I see myself becoming a member of this culture?
ii) What would motivate me?
iii) What would concern me?
iv) How would I work with the people around me?
v) How would I make a difference?

Society sees the Christian church as largely irrelevant but it is a canary in the mines giving an early indication of broader problems within the social structure of society. Canadians bought into a hierarchial structure because it was efficient and promised order and good governance. The leadership in all our institutions are products of the universities of the 1960s. It's difficult to lead if one remembers the assassinations, Vietnam, Watergate, Kent State. It's difficult to create order and good governance in a world where we don't want to even look at the questions revolving around meaning and relevance? Clergy, teachers, politicians are all hoping that they will reach retirement before the institutions they have committed their lives to are determined unsustainable and unaffordable. Can a culture hold together with shakey pillars? Can we create a workable model before a Samson brings the system crashing down not caring about the consequences?

Preschools and pizza day

This blog post on pizza days for 3 year olds is a great example of what parents go through when they have values that are in conflict with the school's values. It's really difficult for polite Canadians to upset teachers and fellow parents by disagreeing with something as culturally fun as pizza day. The writer of this article is a doctor who can actually afford the request for money. There's no mention of the stress felt when a parent doesn't have the money for extras and pizza day is definitely not the highest priority for a family living in poverty - especially if that family has many children who each bring home a pizza day note.

Blog Posting & Commenting

I have no idea what the ideal balance is between creating blog posts and commenting on the posts of others. Both are equally rewarding in my opinion. I think it is the same as buying books that you're interested in and reading books recommended by others. We all tend to have a narrow range of topics that we gravitate towards. It is the interaction with others that draws our mind out of our comfort zone and shows us that there are other subjects that if we just tried them might interest us just as much. When I comment on someone else's post, they have caused me think and write about something that I otherwise would not have remembered or considered formulating an opinion about. When writing my own blog, I assumed that I was writing to myself - the only people I expected would find it would be old friends curious enough to do a search for me. It is through attempting various networking opportunities encouraged in the Connectivism Course that people outside my inner circle of friends found my blog. It was one of those serendipitous things that happened without any intentional goal or plan to create a trail to my own writing.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Googling Your Own Name

Periodically I put my own name into the google search engine just to see what comes up. What I expect to find is a bunch of comments I've made on other peoples' blogs or responses to something I read in a journal or newspaper. And the big question on my mind is have I said something that could limit employment opportunities for my husband or children. While I'm willing to be a pain in his side, I'm not so sure I want to be an albatross around his neck. As a clergy wive and a navy mother, the church and the military are always in my subconscious. Imagine my surprise to discover that Zaid Ali Alsagoff not only considers me an Edublogger but has actually ranked me. Check it out for yourself
When I was in university, everyone's picture was posted in the cafeteria so they'd know whose meals had been paid for in the residence fees. The guys managed to smuggle the girls' pictures out of the dining hall and had a fun evening rating us in order of - I can only guess what criteria was used.
Thank you Zaid. This is the biggest surprise/mystery of my life.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Footwear War

My husband is harping all the time over my running shoes. I love them because they are flexible and lightweight. When one pair wears out, I don't buy another pair until I can find the exact same shoe - that's how much I love them.
Stephen wants me to wear his footwear. He thinks women's footwear doesn't have enough support. We're talking about yellow, steel-toed work boots which would be like going for a walk with ankle weights. Now I haven't worn ladies heels in a quarter of a century but I think I draw the line at looking like Granny Clampett on the Beverley Hillbillies.
After the fall though, I may be forced to compromise and wear a different boot/shoe of his. These look a bit like walking boots - as in walking up mountains. It would be better if we wore the same size but I suppose they'll be the perfect fit after he buys all the other stuff to go with them - gel liners and whatever socks men wear in the bush to protect themselves from frost bite. And they definitely will fit perfectly into whatever those rubber things are that men slip their shoes into. I forget what Christmas he bought the super thick, super traction ones - anyway it was the same Christmas that he decided to buy me men's blue thermal long johns. That a friend gave me an official postman's hat - weatherproof out on the outside, quilted on the inside with fur around the face and on the ear lugs and ties under the chin because what was I thinking going around without a hat.
And then there are the Canadian naval ships that sail across my chest and the wrestling team jacket from my oldest son. There's a family debate over whether wearing a wrestling team jacket to the bank machine says "don't mess with me" or whether it is throwing out a challenge.
Personally, I like the 5 year old boy look - running shoes, blue jeans and a t-shirt.
I'm sure the next step will be to dress me up in florescent orange like my neighbour's seeing eye dog.

Re: I Fell Big Time

After taking graduation pictures at the waterfront, Stephen and I were walking through the parking lot to our car. If I'm going to fall, it's going to be in a parking lot. Some poor guy put his foot on his parking brakes and I lost my focus and fell over nothing. He was pretty shaken up - I think he was wondering how he had run me over without moving his vehicle. I've got the kind of breasts that act like airbags. They ensure that I both fall frontwards which is much safer than falling on one's back or side and they keep my whole chest/abdomenal area above cement level and safe from breakage. I'm convinced the whoever invented airbags knew someone shaped like me. My husband and I had time for an argument on the way down - he kept yelling drop the camera - we'll buy another one - and I was determined to risk life and limb to protect it. I did manage to protect the whole side that contains the battery, memory chip, and download port. The only damage was a deep scratch in an area of the camera that has nothing to do with picture taking which was great with me because it makes my camera identifiable. Anyway did you know that if you wash the cuts on your hands with Purell, it stings something terrible but it does some really fast healing magic. Hope there's nothing in that stuff that shouldn't go into the bloodstream.

Danielle's Graduation

My daughter-in-law graduated from the Pharmacy Tech program on Friday. She's had quite the year - the wedding, buying a first home, graduation and landing her first job in a pharmacy. She applied all over for work in her field and ended up getting a job in the same community as their home. The convocation speaker was a hospital nurse manager who gave a speech from the employer's perspective of what qualities makes one an asset to the team. Danielle's sister went home and checked out courses for increasing her own nursing skills so the talk definitely was inspirational. We did the whole picture taking, red roses thing and then John and Danielle took everyone out for dinner. I was so proud of her and thrilled that she has had so much for us all to celebrate about.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Lyryx & HP

Tell me that you've had a successful experience with Lyryx testing. My son is taking his first test on Monday (maybe sooner) but I'm really concerned that he'll run into a computer problem on test day that I can't solve. Once the test is started, you can't go out of it and come back. So far I've learned how to go into tools to adjust the cookie and security options so he can get beyond the signin. Then I had to solve the "Several Java Virtual Machines running in the same proccess caused an error" problem by deleting and compressing and rearranging things to free up more memory." I'd feel better if my backup computers weren't the HP laptops that are under recall. Buying 2 laptops at the same time was one of my dumber moves. Having no experience with laptops, I just thought laptops were the stupidest things ever. Even having the list of problems, I don't know normal so figuring out abnormal is a challenge. I can't get them to do what I need but maybe it's a human error - I just know I lugged the big one to the school library and I didn't get web access. My fault or the computers? Wish I knew. Didn't realize I had a battery problem until I saw that youtube video - I just thought computer batteries died quickly. I'm definitely a desktop person. If I can sort out Lyryx and get the laptops working, I'll have to learn way more than I ever intended to about problemsolving.

Recruiting Information for Parents
The above link takes you to a blog post entitled "You Need a Parent Approved Plan to Recruit Generation Y". Ok - here's what I think. Starting with their first part-time jobs, my kids would ask "Do I earn more than dad". The goal was clearly to outpace dad and buying the first home was the victory shot as we have always lived in rectories (church housing) . And yes, I could have had input in the acceptance decision but what I said was "Young people should go with their heart/guts because you can. If it works out great and if it doesn't, you'll learn more about yourself without hurting the spouse and kids you don't have yet.
Now I, a baby boomer, never told my parents about a job in advance. Why? Because I announced the job before announcing another decision they wouldn't like. "I've got a job as a legal secretary and I'm taking a year off school." "I'm working in HR at General Motors and I decided that I'd rather not get a nursing job." "I'm getting married and he has 4 more years until his Masters Degree." Good decision combined with crazy decision = where did those genes come from anyway - she certainly isn't practical enough to be a farmer's wife.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Dog is O.K.

Charlie, the dog, has got his physical skills back - he's going up and down stairs, chasing squirrels and is even able to balance on 3 legs when marking his territory. My husband and I, on the other hand, may be permanently changed. We look at each other and think what if it had been one of us. So making those lifestyle changes that were on the bottom of the someday when I get around to it list, are suddenly at the top. I've hauled out the Mediterranean Diet books and Stephen doesn't take no for an answer about going for walks along the trail. I'm even thinking of buying new batteries for the blood pressure monitoring machine and remember to take that daily baby aspirin. As a dog can't profit from a warning, it must have been a warning for us.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Re: My Dog had a Stroke

Yesterday my dog had a small left-brained stroke. Last night he needed to support his right side against the wall when climbing stairs but today his right side is stronger. He goes upstairs normally but he wants someone with him when he descends the stairs even though he is managing them quite well. He's still interested in chasing squirrels but he doesn't hold his head erect when running. I'm not sure about the vision in his right eye - he turns his head to watch me with his left eye if I'm doing something significant he needs to figure out. He doesn't have much of an appetite but dog biscuits and salmon are still good. His days of balancing on 3 legs to pee were nearly at an end anyway but now he definitely has to remain standing on all fours.
Now for the more interesting part. He clearly knows something is wrong and gives us questioning looks. Normally he has that in-charge dominant German Shepherd personality but now he is so laid back I'm thinking maybe he's in that la-la-land that Jill Bolte Taylor describes in her TED talk. My grandmother had the same type of stroke when I was 6 years old and lost her ability to speak and write. Charlie hasn't bark since his stroke but no one rung the doorbell to know for sure. The neighbours will love him better if he has lost the desire to bark at every squirrel, every cat, every dog and every person that walks by. My grandmother lived until I was 15 years old and was my very favourite human being in the whole world. I'm beginning to understand. The new Charlie is just so incredibly loveable compared to the bossy, opinionated normal Charlie but it's incredibly sad nonetheless.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

CCK08 Why Am I Investing the Hours?

Today there was an Elluminate discussion on the logistics of the course.
I've been a houswife for 24 years - so how many letters do I need after my name, and if it triples my salary that's still nothing. And I certainly have no expectations of ongoing contact with course members as I have nothing to offer that would make me part of their network. So why put in all the hours?
When I was 17, a city professor knocked on the door and asked my farmer's-wife mom to help a couple of Masters Degree candidates with their theses on the Baldoon settlement - one was in Geography on drainage and one was in History and involved geneologies. It became her passion for the next 20 years. She became the world's greatest unrecognized expert on the Baldoon settlement. She died at 79 after a 10 year descent into Alzheimers but her bulb had shone brightly before it flickered and dimmed and finally burnt out.
I am putting in the hours for her and for my daugher. God gave my mother a marvellous gift and I don't want that ever forgotten. A university professor she had never met before gave her an opportunity - the only opportunity she ever had to discover and display her intellect. She opened the door for me to leave the farm and go to university and I opened the door wider for my daughter.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

CCK08 + Gravitational Community

I think David Pollard should go for a google prize by teaching the rest of us how to create gravitational communities. I've built my google reader randomly through web surfing and google discoveries and it's making me even more of a dilettante. I'm plucking daisys because I cannot psychologically process the blank cheque given after 9/11 to build a culture of fear and suspension of reason. Listening to crowds of people chanting mindless slogans reminds me too much of the evils of world history.

I stumbled across Stephen Downes and David Pollard's blogs but that is going to be increasingly difficult as cyberspace fills up with my type of blog. What spurred me to create a blog was The University of Western Ontario was publishing a new alumni directory and I wanted to be findable by old friends. In the directory women are cross-referenced under both their maiden and married name and that doesn't happen often in life. If anyone wanted to know whatever had happened to Ruth Stewart, I wanted to include a blog address in the directory.

I want to transfer my general interest blog addresses to google notebooks and
use google reader for key people who have great blogs on a particular topic with a classification system for finding other inspirational bloggers on the topic. So how do you find the master librarians of web information? Who cares enough about a particular topic to sort through the massive amount of information out there on any topic and provide some guideposts for the rest of us?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

CCK08 Valdis Krebs on Networks
This is a very easy to read, concise overview of various types of networks. I thought analyzing the networks on The Simpsons was a brilliant idea because there is no escaping that show. In 1990 there was a guy in one of my kid's classes who had videotaped every episode and had a record of every line Bart had ever written on the blackboard. You could create a spread of contagion map on the number of people who got hooked on the Simpsons through contact with that one mega fan.

I'm not convinced about the book networks and musical style networks. When it comes to the arts, the whole point is to not fall into a rut. Book clubs and reading lists are all about broadening beyond what you'd choose on your own. And how is it possible to not develop some form of appreciation for the favourite style of music of your first and second level family/friends. The requests played at weddings I go to are extremely ecclectic - the party can flow from the funky chicken to a polka to a country and western line dance to beach party music to Irish Rover drinking songs to WWII love ballads to blue grass to current top hits.

Personally I can't wait to go check out the cow at the trough network. Not only does this community have an agricultural college, I also have lots of friends and family in the cattle business. What a novel conversation starter for those annual Christmas gatherings which can get stuck at the cost of production and market price level!

The entertainment industry knows that the suspense of tracking virus outbreaks and terrorist networks creates a suspense-filled production. I think Valdis Krebs network talk is so interesting because we inherently like using networks to make sense of what would otherwise be random and unsolvable threats.

If I were to network my learning style it would be read a blog, go to Wiki for any reference I'm not sure of, go to youtube to check out any music or film mentioned, go to google books to find out about any book I'm unfamiliar with, type the subject into google and pick a link that represents a different opinion and if I think the subject is worth it, I create a heading on google reader for blogs to follow and create a google alert.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

CCK08 Movie About Connections

I'll save you the time of watching the movie because it falls into the category "Movies I bought and love with a plot so painfully slow and lacking in action that I am permanently banned from choosing movies for family viewing".

In One True Thing, Ellen (Renee Zellweger) is a young, ambitious New York Journalist. Her father (William Hurt) is a university professor in the process of writing a book who expects his busy important daughter to interrupt her life so he doesn't have to deal with his stay-at-home wife's (Meryl Streep) cancer. Renee is her father's daughter committed to the importance of writing books and articles and gaining tenure and recognition but slowly (and I mean slowly) is taught by mom and her gal pals that a life of doing silly looking things like throwing theme parties and decorating community Christmas trees and cheering up people going through tough times isn't totally shabby. George has his ambition and his affair of the semester but the solid connections were weaved by Katharine.

A faster way to get the message is to think about what we are doing on the connectivity course and compare it to the following webpage with all its 95 links to lists of people's favourite things about autumn Searching for autumn quotes for the calligraphy group, I stumbled across all this inspiration for not letting the joys of autumn slip passed unnoticed by yourself or your friends. Lots of the inexpensive or free ideas would be even more fun with friends included. There are head connections and heart connections and life requires both.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Home Library/Office Designs

Interior Design Advice for Home Office and Library Designs
I like to cocoon so I like the office that has the little bed built into the wall that can be hidden by a curtain. Again for the same reason I like the last picture of the reading space created in the bookshelf but I would prefer a portable enclosure.
I think I would make my whole world small and on wheels. I should have been Edwardian - wearing safari clothing and setting up little England wherever I stop for a few moments - the picnic with the linen and china; the office in a leather suitcase that can be set up instantly atop a folding stand.
So far I haven't overcome the fear of the evil drink instilled by my Baptist mom but if I could get comfortable with having a drink in the house, I certainly could see putting the wine cabinet in the study. Why waste wine on the meal when I need something to relax and lower my blood pressure while sifting through the endless reams of paperwork on the off chance that any of it is important.

CCK08 Connectivism & Economic Crisis

While the government is busy stabilizing the banking, insurance, stock market systems, everyone has to figure out how to come out of this situation as stronger and more capable human beings. If we pull together, we could create a much more civil society with the young and the old working together with the youth providing energy and daring and the old providing the collective wisdom of the forefathers and a deep understanding of human needs.

Even the tiniest of Canadian communities has an under-utilized senior's center. Most of those seniors lived through the Great Depression and know the skill sets that got them through it. They also know the community as a whole and how to rally its members.

I know it can work because the Yukon Indians model it every day and they have survived some extremely hard times.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

CCK08 - Monique Bégin

I have no way of judging whether Connectivism is a learning theory or not but I suspect that George Siemens and Stephen Downes are beneficiaries of an attitude Monique Begin has fought for over the decades - that we all gain when the doors of possibility widen. Perhaps George and Stephen will only get a moment in the sun but it is a moment with potential to create a further widening in the door. I suspect some people need a map to find Manitoba and may find that alone a hurdle as compared to an idea springing from Oxford or Princeton.

Monique Bégin has worked tirelessly to improve the educational and health possibilities for Canadians who otherwise would have marginalized and streamed into a life of limited possibilities. Before the Royal Commission on the Status of Women, women were either ignored in Canadian textbooks or they were consumers not originators of ideas or they were helpers not leaders. The Royal Commision on Learning confirmed what poor mothers knew all along - that two children of identical intellectual ability were being streamed differently based on the economic status of their parents. A child from a poor family was subtly encouraged to get job skills in high school whereas a better-dressed, more affluent child was more likely to be encouraged to not limit their choices by pursuing less academic courses.

Does anyone know where I can find a collection of Begin's speeches and writings? Search her name on Wiki or try using google search to find a website devoted to her writings. The most obscure performer has a longer writeup. How can someone so outstanding be so obscure? How can someone who has effectively done so much to improve the lives of so many not be more widely known? Her work totally changed my perceptions of myself and totally changed my children's perceptions of their potential as well.

If you don't know who she is, here's the writeup from the World Health Organization.

Dr Monique Bégin is from School of Management, University of Ottawa, Canada. A sociologist, Dr Bégin was the first woman from Québec elected to the House of Commons. Re-elected three times, she was twice appointed Minister of National Health and Welfare. She remains best known for the Canada Health Act 1984. An academic since she left politics, Dr Bégin taught in Women's Studies at Ottawa and Carleton Universities.
Monique Bégin co-chaired the Royal Commission on Learning of Ontario and served on the International Independent Commission on Population and Quality of Life. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, she received several honorary doctorates in recognition of her contribution to human rights and to public policies. In 1998, she was invested as Officer of the Order of Canada.

Friday, September 19, 2008

CCK08 Theory & Professional Agenda

My knowledge of educational theories is purely at the textbook level. The theories that I've actually lived are in the nursing field. I suspect that Connectivism will only be accepted as an educational theory if it is in alignment with the direction the educators have decided is best for the profession. For what it's worth, here's a short history of nursing in Ontario since 1970.

When the training was hospital-based and the hospital staff and patients set the curriculum, it was built around Virginia Henderson's 14 functions of basic nursing care. Nursing was low-paid, labour-intensive and considered similar to a religious calling. Students were paid a small stipend for their labour and had no tuition fees. They lived for free in nurses residence and ate for free in the hospital cafeteria. It was a popular choice for ambitious girls and often the only way girls from large families could get an education.

Nurses looked around and saw what tradesmen and policemen earned and decided the path to better working conditions was to transfer education from the hospital to the Community Colleges. In order to show that nursing was a real college program, Virginia Henderson was tossed out the window and the new curriculum was built around Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. It took a lot of effort to get student nurses to recognize their hierarchy of needs would be better met if they studied professional development which was basically about nursing unions, professional associations, the best method of charting to protect themselves in a malpractice suite, etc. Students paid for their own books and tuitions and accommodation but with a combination of grants and loans anyone could afford to become a nurse and graduate with very little or no debt.

Now all graduating nurses are required to have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and the current theorist providing the curricular framework is Bevis. The 5 tools of Nursing Practice are Problem-Solving/Decision Making, Communication, Teaching/Learning, Caring, and Management/Planned Change. Nursing is a separate but equivalent body of knowledge in the health sciences with encouragement being given to pursue a Masters and a Doctorate in Nursing with the resulting increase in pay, status and power for the profession. Canada has gone from producing a surplus of nurses to depending on immigration to fill its positions and control wages.

I suspect education is the same as nursing. Either connectivism can be used to enhance the respect and compensation levels of teachers or it just won't fly regardless of its merits or lack thereof.

Work Place Design

Every day I receive a google alert on work place design posts. Here's today's top post:

I'm so excited because I have a coffee table that I want out of the family room, a dining table I want out of a bedroom and down to the kitchen and the 2 small pieces of furniture currently holding the printer and processor in the spare room. When Peter gets home from school, there's going to be some serious furniture moving around here. Paula will be relieved because I was begging her to make my coffee table look like hers which would require learning and doing some faux marbling technique.

I've read that the sheet of stuff you use when creating a shower wall makes a super economical whiteboard. Any ideas on how to hang the thing? I'm thinking maybe I'll have to get one of my kids to make a frame. If you've tried this project, tell me if it actually does make a good whiteboard.

Papers I Want to Read

As I'm wandering around the websites of Connectivism participants, I'm coming across papers I want to read (perhaps during the course but as I got bogged down by the number of short introductions, I'm sure most of the lengthy papers will be read more carefully after the course ends.
Higher Education as Virtual
Information Overload and Filtreing

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Useful Links

Tools for viewing Flickr
Powerpoint Productivity
Free e-books on e-learning

Response to World Run by Buffs
This is a thought-provoking article on being a history buff vs being a fully developed historian and whether or not buffs have anything worthwhile to contribute to well-established academic disciplines.
Some of the bloggers I follow are Princeton theological students. I read them mainly because I can. It's amazing to me that someone in a small rural parish can have access to theological studies being conducted in Princeton. I admire their brilliance and discipline and youth. That said, I also think it's a lot of counting how many angels can dance on the head of a pin - interesting but not essential to the day-to-day survival of the church.
Canon law is a much more compelling read. Every time a Bishop in the United States is denied due process under Canon law I practically have a heart attack. The job security yardstick used to be: Was a civil law broken? Was a canon law broken? Obedience to civil and Canon law was the life jacket. k
Most of us live life in the trenches. We crawl through the mud, get shelled, suffer post traumatic stress syndrome, see our comrades fall, maybe take a hill today, be ordered to retreat tomorrow and be sent back the next day to reclaim the same minor hill. An academic researcher can give a brilliant analysis, gain a Ph.D. and become the CNN expert commentator but to truly be the expert you have to get some field experience.
Theory is elegant and practice is a bloody mess. Education does not adequately prepare anyone for life - it does give one a much wider assortment of tools and a list of standardized best practices which will have their usefulness.

Some Interesting People

Annie Vallotton - Illustrator of the Good News Bible

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

CCK08 Need How To Information

1. I would really appreciate it if I could sort out the postings by having more tagging provided. If members of the group have created a how-to video or have posted a visual analysis of data or found something particularly relevant, I want to create a google alert for those postings by using CCK08 plus a topic category. Perhaps someone is already doing this and I just haven't found the particular email that would point me to the sorted information.

2. Before the course, going through google reader was my favourite computer activity. There must be a way to only have the Connectivism bloggers separated from my general interest bloggers similar to the explanation for separating the connectivism gmail from the regular gmail box. Would someone please direct me to the post explaining how to do this with the blogs entered into google reader? At the moment, I have a header for "Connectivism" and one for "Course Work" but it would be better to have them separated from the other 25 topics of importance to me.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

CCK08 Progress Report

Finding Balance was a huge issue.

a. Stephen, Peter and I had to spend part of Saturday getting the house back to its normal chaotic state from the total disaster state it fell into. My youngest son and his wife came from Windsor to celebrate her birthday on Saturday and my daughter and her boyfriend came from London on Sunday for supper so we had both an ok looking home and delicious homecooked meals.

b. I was spending so much time at the computer that I decided it was probably as dangerous as sitting through a transcontinental flight. On Friday, I went back to line dancing classes and I'm also restarting t'ai chi. Stephen found a great walking trail. He does a speed walk to Tim Horton's for coffee (about 2 miles) and then picks up the dog and me for a more leisurely trail walk.

c. I'm splitting my computer time between this course and the things I enjoyed before - my google alerts and the blogs I follow on google reader. I'm also spending a bit of time every day looking at pictures on flickr.

Useful Things I've Learned and What I Need to Learn Soon
1. Following the video on how to get all the introductory messages out of the google inbox by setting up a label for CC08 took away that feeling of being overwhelmed by the volume of introductory emails. However, once the label was applied, I only pull the introductions up once a day and I don't read nearly the same proportion of them.
2. I am really, really grateful that I can go to Delicious and find the blog addresses provided in the introductions.
3. Finally I've gotten around to creating an igoogle homepage that truly reflects my needs and increases my productivity.
4. I want to create a Wordle which I will then re-create using Calligraphy for the March page of a calendar the Calligraphy group is producing. Our date night here is Calligraphy classes. In the Windsor area, it was years of Choral Singing lessons.
5. I also want to explore my family communication options as this month the phone bill was $250 and it was mainly our kids phoning home and Stephen calling his dad and aunt. We don't want to limit the calls - just reduce the expense.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Good Enough

If you become an amazingly successful adult, don't whine to me about your crazy mother or your ill-educated teachers. People give what they can and if you are outstanding what you were given was enough. It's really hard to tell what is more motivating - wanting to be like a parent or vowing to never be like a parent. Print and video are forever. Don't abuse the power.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Reflections on Participatory Culture article

Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture (.pdf)
This article assumes that kids should start off running in the 21st Century in order to be on track for creating excellent web input and maybe having that multi-million dollar great idea by 14. So now I'm going to lose all credibility by telling you why I'm not totally convinced.

Our family has received 4 phone calls from Bishops in our lives saying something like, "We've prayed to the Holy Spirt and we believe that God is calling you to go to __________ and we go. I believe God has a special place in his heart for clergy kids and when we are called to go somewhere, I believe that the move is part of God's developmental plan for my children.

God has never called us to the Silicon Valley. It would appear that the plan was to take the kids through the history of civilization. We live in rectories so with all the moves we lived in the older section of the community with the church being the closest building to our house

Our first posting was to a small (pop 450) village in the Yukon where the dominant culture was Southern Tutchone. We left when the oldest was in Grade 2 but he had already learned through school how to jig for salmon, snare a rabbit, ride a horse, ride in a dog sled, recognize animal tracks, etc., etc.

Our second posting was to a small town where the dominate culture was Scottish Presbyterian (almost identical to my birth community). There my kids learned frugality, that adults make the rules, that someone sees whatever you are doing and out of love and friendship will phone your mom because character matters. It was during this period that our oldest turned 12 and began sea cadets resulting in all of our children going through either sea or army cadets. The military data base recognizes our names and CSIS has checked us out.

Our third posting was to a community near the Windsor/Detroit border. We lived across the street from a Sikh temple, the Macedonian Orthodox Church and down the road from the Muslim school. It was here that the boys all got jobs working on a beef farm and studied either auto body or auto mechanics and bought an assortment of vehicles older than themselves to fix. It's also a place of home do-it-yourselfers so now two of my kids have bought a house this year and a third is looking for his fixer-upper first house.

Our fourth posting was to a small community with an agricultural college and a declining population and economy. Because of the economic situation, my husband works in 6 churches in 6 communities. The move emptied the nest and gave the kids time and space to make their own good decisions about the direction they would like to take in life. Eventually one son returned and discovered that there are opportunites here and he has been mentored and befriended by the men in the community. If he hadn't moved here, he never would have discovered that he likes studying accounting at least as much as writing screenplays.

While the article could be right about starting off running in 21st Century culture, it's not a bad thing to have a wide range of survival skills just in case the world gets unplugged or fortunes fall in the computer industry.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Elizabeth May

When Elizabeth May hit the news today, I said, "Oh my gosh, I know her" Well not exactly know her but I could have identified her picture in a "name that person" contest. No I did not know that she was an environmental lawyer and leader of the Green Party. I had to check out her biography on Wiki to discover that. Here is what made Elizabeth memorable for me - her Ottawa parties. When I was thinking that maybe one day I might possibly host a gathering for my friends, I subscribed to a blog that posted pictures of the social life of Ottawa. I wanted to know what people in Ottawa wore at their gatherings and more importantly what foods did the caterers pass around as they mingled. Of all the parties I studied, Elizabeth May threw the ones I most wanted to attend. There was something warm and down-home and unpretentious about her style of entertaining.

So I think the controversy over whether or not she can participate in the national debates isn't personal. I think it is that mysterious attitude in North American culture that makes Palin a hottie and a political celebrity and Clinton and her sisterhood of the travelling pantsuits remind men of their first wives. There is some magical age when a woman turns from an object that men lust after to an object that they are afraid to debate. Even stranger is that most women feel most grounded, most confident, most their own person after that certain age.

So to Elizabeth all I can say is, "You go girl!" And to the Ottawa establishment, I say chill out. With such a short campaign period, we deserve a bit of entertainment - a really good debate.

Blogging Strategy for Connectivism

So what does someone like me, an emptying nest mom, blog about connectivism - a course with 1900 students - many of who have Ph.D.'s and many articles published on various aspects of educational design? Obviously what I have to say is pretty useless to the other members of this course who are way out of my league. So here is what I decided. I'm going to post about the things I am learning that a woman over 50 in rural or small town Ontario might find useful or adaptable to her lifestyle.

Digital Ethnography Watch the video of the two little boys - it's the beginning of a video about digital ethnography.
I love youtube. Mostly I've used it to check out music. If I'm reading a blog and it refers to a song or a form of dance that I am unfamiliar with, I do a search of youtube. When I was asked to do a lip sync performance of an entertainer, I decided to do Bette Midler singing "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B" and I studied the moves in every youtube video of Bette and her imitators performing. And of course, when I'm following blogs, I watch embedded videos. Before my son's wedding, I hunted for videos of mother/son wedding dances and listened over and over again to the song my daughter-in-law had chosen "A Song for Mama" by Boyz II Men. When I was taking line dancing and wanted to learn some new moves, I discovered the prisoner line dancers. In my google notebook, I have links to youtube videos of choirs and prayers that have inspired me during times when I am having a quiet time with God.

Until I found the blog on Digital Ethnography, I didn't think about there being a youtube community creating interesting videos for a wide range of reasons. I certainly didn't know that studying youtube fell under anthropology. I've never checked out any of the videos just because they rates high on a youtube rating scale. I hadn't even considered how a video achieved its ratings. Even now, I can't see myself actually producing a video as it's the kind of thing I think I'd need a human being to help me get started. However, I am thinking about having fun pretending that I'm one of young people having a good time dancing and singing in front of their camrecorders. Looks like a great way to get a bit of exercise while online. And maybe I'll write a word, an important word on my hand and maybe I'll say a prayer for people using their camrecorders as a way to heal life's hurts - a way to continue being in the world - a way to bring joy back into their lives.

Balancing Online with Real Life Time

Most of my computer time is spent following blogs on Google Reader. Some require reading. thought and a desire to stay informed while others are pure eye candy - wedding, art, design, decorating sites spring to mind. Rather than watching the news before bed, I like to fill my head with beautiful images.
The Connectivism course has greatly increased my already over-the-top internet time. Because I am so aware that I might forget to go outside ever, I am making a greater effort to socialize. Saturday I went to a family reunion in my hometown. Sunday I gave two talks and agreed to do 3 more, went to lunch with friends and attended a fundraiser dinner in the evening. Monday I did family business downtown and went to a book club meeting at the library in the afternoon. Today I stayed in. Tomorrow I'm going to a potluck lunch and meeting. Not too shabby, eh. The other concern is whether or not I'll lose the minimal amount of cardio fitness that I have. So I've decided that I'll at least have to start doing T'ai Chi again. I don't love to drive so I walk everywhere locally and my husband picked the rectory with the longest staircase which I go up and down at least as often as the dog harrasses me to go out. So I guess I will complete the course with strong enough leg muscles to carry myself around.
It may not be perfect but I've adjusted my routine just enough that I'm not too worried about having a life to return to after CCK08 ends.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Introductory Week Thoughts

Having studied neither technology nor education, I'm looking for my niche in this course.
My plan is to create 2 weekly posts. One will be tagged CCK08 with the aim of providing data on how I'm doing for those people doing research projects on the success of this learning model. The other will be directed towards people who stumble across my blog and might be interested in what I'm doing without being interested in the commitment required when auditing a class.
Rather than rushing through the introductions, I'm going through them slowly following blog links and going to Wikipedia and making sure that I understand any terms or theories I am unsure of. I am also trying to turn this sea of names into an identifiable learning community. Being a bit on the shy side, it will potentially be easier to learn names and get a sense of the actual people in this massive online course as opposed to actually being in a large introductory course lecture hall?
Because I am starting pretty much at square one, even if I have difficulty keeping up with the actual course content, there is potential for developing a broad ground level knowledge - something similar to taking a pre-admission course or a general arts course.

Wiki Books

Up until know, my knowledge of Wiki was limited to Wikipedia and Wiki Quotes.
George Siemens recommended the Open Content Textbook "Web 2.0 and Emerging Learning Technologies". Wikibooks are a whole new experience for me. Like Wikipedia, wikibooks are in process of being created with people adding and editing content on an ongoing basis. I'm putting the link in my blog for anyone who is interested in seeing an example of an Open Content Textbook.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

U.S. Politics

The U.S. political campaign is the best entertainment on tv. Stephen and I are absolutely addicted to it. The speech writers are terrific and so is the delivery. I want to go directly from a speech to youtube for a replay - I keep forgetting it isn't hockey. I even check out the commentators on wiki. Earl and Merle - their mom should have made big bucks creating brand names for multi-national corporations. I can't wait to see who they find to be the expert on Alaskan politics. Canada is having a federal (national) election as well. The Prime Minister is planning a Sunday visit to the Governor General requesting that Parliament be dissolved in order to have an October 14th election. Just to clarify it, we're talking October 14th, 2008. It's September 4th and we're presuming that an election is being called and we will have elected a Prime Minister prior to knowing who the next President of the United States will be. As everyone is watching the big show in the States, the Canadian voters will definitely have attention deficit when it comes to making our own political decisions.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

You Tube Video Series
"Seventy Signs of Intelligent Life on You Tube"
"Smart video collections keep appearing on YouTube. But rather antithetical to the ethos of its parent company (Google), YouTube unfortunately makes these collections difficult to find. So we’ve decided to do the job for them. These enriching/educational videos come from media outlets, cultural institutions, universities and non-profits. There are about 70 collections in total, and the list will grow over time."

Wanted to share the link with you as I am a big fan of you tube. It's great if you go searching for something in particular but I am sure knowing how to link with collections will expand its usefulness.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

E-learning Hangups

As a parent, I grapple with several e-learning issues

1. When I was paying residence fees, it was upsetting to have a student opt to take an e-course over attending classes on campus. The campus is beautiful, the residence is on the actual grounds, you have legs, get to class. However, I didn't say that because a parent has no way of comparing the quality of instruction happening in the classroom with the quality of instruction happening in cyberspace. You'd think actually being in the presence of a professor and classmates would be preferrable to a more impersonal method of delivery but maybe not.

2. It is also disconcerting to agree to pay for a course on campus and have the instructor say on the first day of class that he plans to teach it online. I am also not happy to pay for textbooks and then find that the texts won't be used because the actual course being taught online has nothing at all in common with the description of the course in the academic calendar but the required textbooks remained the same. On the plus side, sometimes I agree to course and find it changed into something totally different that seems too lightweight. To my amazement, it may turn out to have many useful applications and may even be the most memorable course of them all.

3. I now receive daily emails from google using the tag e-learning. Wanting to get my money's worth, I am reading everything I can find on how to get the best educational experience from e-learning. If students are choosing a hodgepodge of full-time, on campus day classes/e-learning/continuing ed adult evening courses, why isn't a explanation provided of the pros and cons of each option and how to maximize the benefits of whichever you choose and best compensate for the weaknesses. There has to be more information than "here's how to get into your blackboard account and I'm sure you'll figure out how to find your assignments and how to submit them".

4. E-learning is supposedly on a boom because it is cheaper in these days of high gas prices. In my dreams. It certainly wasn't cheaper when my daughter was living in residence on campus. And it not cheaper for my son who is living at home because he still needs my car every single day to drive to his on campus classes which are about 35 km away. On the other hand, I'd feel they were missing out if they weren't part of an actual campus experience with a library, cafeteria, an actual classroom with people in it, etc. It's a bit reassuring to think there are actually still teachers who are willing to show up in person to model that some things in the real world are worth inconveniencing yourself to experience.

5. And why didn't I make my kids pay for their own educations. Life is tough enough without beginning it in a deep financial hole. There may never be another period in their lives when they can concentrate on developing the fundamental skills and concepts to be able to learn anything they wish to learn throughout their lives. An education is one of the few gifts that can't easily be lost, discarded or stolen. Writing the cheques means I have the right to expect value for my buck from both my children and from the system both of whom benefit from knowing that I exist and if I ever get upset enough, I might give some honest, heartfelt feedback. It's pretty obvious from the application forms that many of the students are there because the government is trying to lift them out of a difficult situation. The intent is great but it is such an insignificant amount of the government budget that I am not sure the government is as passionate about quality as an actual mother who wishes she could spend a little money on herself once in awhile.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Learning Spaces
This link takes you to a great ebook about learning spaces. Go prepared to spend a considerable amount of time surfing around. Not only did I read every single page but I also visited quite a few footnote links.
The first time I thought about the importance of creating a space conducive to achieving a particular experience was when my husband was in seminary. It was during the time when altars were coming off the wall and the limitations of the traditional Gothic design resulted in a willingness to consider more modern designs.
Our house is really one huge office because my husband and I have books and desks everywhere. When our son decided to go to college, he created a work area in his room and took over the diningroom. I'll follow any link that shows me someone's work area as ours could use more thought.

Marketing Swipe Files

When I went searching to find examples of people's swipe files, I discovered .
"A swipe file is simply a file or collection of marketing messages, headlines, techniques, etc. Essentially, whenever you see an example of great marketing you add it to your marketing collection."

As I have an interest in calligraphy, I always keep my eye out for an interesting font, an effective layout or text that could be used in a project.

My son took a marketing course last year. Leave a book lying around and I'll read it. I think the most useful tidbit I picked up was to not alienate the people who consistently support you when trying to appeal to a broader base". Good advice - don't forget who brought you to the party.