Professional Growth


In this post I will explain the benefits of Eduro Learning as an online continuing education option for educators.  

I’m a little mad at myself.  I haven’t been taking my own advice to heart.  In my “Your Own Bucket” post, I quoted Chrissy Hellyer and her idea that a blog is not something that is necessarily written for the audience.  It is “To document my ongoing learning and professional development journey.”  However, I’ve come to learn that it has an even greater purpose than that.  I need to write! On the days that I have not published anything, I feel a sense of loss, like I have somehow let myself down, and now I know why.  It’s because, for the time being(hello Covid!), this is my creative outlet, and as I’ve learned in my Connected Classrooms Course from Eduro Learning:

(I’m opening myself up to failure today in the hopes that it keeps the creativity flowing, and that it allows me to do some growing. If this is not your cup of tea, turn the channel!) 

Why Eduro?

Let’s start with Coetail.  A number of years ago I enrolled in the Coetail Program(The Certificate of Educational Technology and Information Literacy).  For anyone looking to enhance their ability to access technology in a way that allows you to embed it seamlessly into your curriculum, then there is probably no better place you could go than to Coetail.  You are placed in a cohort of like minded individuals, you can work at your own pace, and the instruction is top notch.  Even the assigned work pushes you to explore the very resources you’ll use in your classroom.  To top it off you can earn college credit.  

In my mind, Eduro is sort of a natural extension of that very program.  To be honest, I don’t know which came first, or the exact relationship between the two, all I know is that when I found myself locked in my own home during Covid, wanting to do something to improve as a teacher, I went right back to what I know worked, Coetail(and by extension Eduro).

So far I have taken two courses through Eduro.  They have followed a similar format.  Each course is broken down into bite sized lessons.  A lesson is then broken down further into four distinct sections.  Here is a page from one course to give you an idea.

  1. The “Watch” section is typically a short 15-25 minute video.  Often it follows an interview format where one of the instructors interviews a teacher implementing whatever the topic being covered is.  The videos are extremely relevant, and are a great hook.  
  2. The “Introduction” section is just that, and often reiterates a bit of what was previously viewed.  
  3. The absolute score in Eduro is the “Key Resources” section.  In addition to articles supporting the thinking in each lesson, often there are links to things likeTed talks, or teacher blogs, or slide shows, or other resources that add to your understanding, and to your ability to implement the features of the lesson.  For example, in the lesson above there are over 20 links to infographics, lesson plans, example units, and other useful online resources. 
  4. The “Action” in each lesson is typically a short assignment forcing(and I mean that in the nicest way) the student to use the new tool or idea.  The misty photo above with Kim’s quote is an example of one of my actions.  I used Canva to turn a photograph from one of my bike rides into a cool tweet.

Eduro has many offerings.  If you are someone interested in becoming a coach, then the possibilities are almost endless.  For a classroom or subject specific teacher who is content to stay where he or she is, then perhaps some of the other course offerings would be of more interest.  The MastermindEd series has offerings focused on things like social justice, inclusion, sustainability, and service learning.  There are courses on Women Who Lead, and you could even sign up for personal mentoring.

Eduro has been a great option for me.  The self-paced format offers me the flexibility I love.  In addition, the lessons are easy to navigate, they can be stopped and started at the users convenience.  Also, because courses are taught by actual teachers the material, resources, and course work is all relevant and instantly accessible for your own teaching.  Give Eduro a shot the next time you’re looking to up your game.

Image Credit:

“Digital Literacy in a Connected Classroom.” Eduro Learning,

Health and Fitness

Data Analysis

Observations After Week 1


Man, I feel like this is some kind of super scientific approach to my well being.  For one thing, I have never used so many apps and extensions to chart my progress.  Some of them are necessary just for the ability to consolidate data in a way that I can share, RunGap for example. Others are just an easier way to track things, like MyfitnessPal and Strava.  I will attempt to explain as I go along…

Week 1 

A few days before launch I tweaked my back really good.  I was spinning and felt a twinge.  I’ve had enough experience with myself to know that the best way to lose 3 weeks of training is to continue doing whatever it is I am doing at the time.  So, I got off the bike, laid on the floor, stretched, took some ibuprofen, iced, and proceeded to lose the ability to lift my leg high enough to put on my underwear.  Two trips to Dr. Bob(Avenues of Health Chiropractic) and some rest, and I was able to launch the physical part of my plan on Monday, the 4th(Diet changes started on the 1st as planned).


I typically use Strava to track my progress on outdoor bicycle rides.  It is an absolute video game for biking and will get it’s own page here in the future.  It maps your rides, allows you to compare yourself with others who have ridden any part of the route, and let’s you know how you did against your greatest rival, you.  Unfortunately, it is not ideal for stationary bikes.  So, when I spin in the winter, because it’s so much harder to wipe out on a 150 pound spin bike, traffic is always light in the garage, and I know exactly when I’m going to get home-when I swing my leg back over the seat- I use my apple watch and my Garmin to track my levels.  I use the Garmin, as mentioned in my “Forward to the Past” to track my effort while spinning.  I use the Apple watch for the data after spinning.  Why, you ask?  Simple…I lost the cord to attach the Garmin to my computer, duh.  

Anyway, Apple doesn’t have a way to view aggregate data so I found RunGap, which takes all the data from my apple account and puts it in one place. 

This is what I’ve been up to this week:

On RunGap you can also look at an individual workout:

You can even view it graphically-Nice intervals!

You can see that I have gotten two cardio workouts this week.  I would add that Covid has made me stir crazy, so I have also added ice skating to my repertoire because if I don’t get outside I will go insane.  Turns out I miss it, and love it, and it’s just about twice as hard as I remember.  I’m not removing anything, I’m just adding 30 minutes of skating when I can.


As I mentioned in an earlier blog, my garage is my gym. This has presented many issues, not the least of which is a lack of real resistance equipment.  I have secured a set of Powerblock adjustable dumbbells to go with the bands I had been using.  

Power Blocks


First of all, let me just say that in my opinion elasticity is a mediocre substitute for gravity.  So, in terms of the workout rendered, the blocks delivered!  In addition, with bands I felt like I was continually adjusting something to get the right “feel” for each exercise, not to mention, the right tug.  By this I mean that decreasing the amount of band available (by stepping on it, or creating a loop to step on) tension is increased.  There is a real lack of precision in that method. What exactly is the tension delivered if I have a 40 pound resistance band with a loop of a 3”diameter under my foot?  The blocks are quick to adjust and precise.  I think the only real drawback is aesthetics.  I feel like I have a couple of steampunk bear traps attached to my arms when I use them.  I also have dainty XX large hands.  When I wear gloves, because that garage takes a little time to warm up, it is tricky getting my hands inside them.  


With the paid version of MyfitnessPal you have even more options for data.

So I’m down to 216 pounds from 217.6.  I’m actually surprised it is not more.  I knew going into this that dropping alcohol was going to have a major impact, both in terms of difficulty in not having it, the subsequent drop in caloric intake.  What I was not prepared for was how difficult eating zero prepared food has been.  I do great in the morning with my shakes, or do I?  Does protein powder count as a prepared food? What about tofu?  I’ve decided that if the thing I’m adding is not a meal in and of itself I’m ok.  Store bought spaghetti sauce and peanut butter- okey dokey.  Vegetarian chicken patties and burritos-no go.

Final Observations

I’m sleeping much differently already.  Not necessarily any more, just more soundly.  Extra water intake may have supplanted beer as my reason for getting up in the middle of the night, but I’m getting up just the same.  However, the quality of sleep I do get  is noticeably better as I haven’t felt the need to sneak naps in this week.  I’m averaging pretty close to 8 hours per night too. 

Stay tuned for week 2.

Image Credits:

Featured Image: Photo by NOAA on Unsplash

“Free Workout Data Manager for IOS.” RunGap,

“PowerBlock Sport Dumbbells: Dumbbells For Home.” PowerBlock, 13 Oct. 2020,

“Fitness Starts with What You Eat.” Myfitnesspal,

Health and Fitness

The Hydra

Thinking of converting your garage into a home gym? Live in a cold climate? Learn from me!  In this post I will take you on a short tour of the trials and tribulation of my unheated garage gym.

I’m not one who knows much about Greek Mythology, but I did watch the Disney Hercules cartoon.  In a particularly relevant part of the movie our hero, Hercules, cuts the three heads off of the hydra. Apparently this isn’t the way to kill a hydra because two heads grew back in each place there was one, and each additional beheading produced a similar result.  That’s my garage gym in a nutshell.

If my garage were in a warm climate I would be bragging about my ingenious use of unused space.  Unfortunately, I live about as far as one can get from a warm climate without having a Canadian passport.

To review: Because Covid has closed the gyms, and wanting to err on the careful side any way, and because my house is only a step up from a tiny home, I chose to turn my unheated, detached garage into a workout space.  I insulated the walls and ceiling, putting a vapor barrier over both.  I bought insulated moving blankets and punched grommets into them so I could hang them from the ceiling on hooks, the idea being I could move them to reduce the size of the space to be used.  I bought absorbent mats for the floor to catch all the snow melt that would inevitably drop off the cars I still had to park there at night.  And I bought a small heater.  This process is all detailed in full on my “The Set Up” post.

From the day I started using it in September to just before Christmas I couldn’t have been happier with the space.  I had my music on as loud as I wanted, I never had to wait for a piece of equipment, and the only time I got self-conscious was when my wife, not knowing I was in there, opened the garage door to park the car.

Then…it snowed.

Turns out, cars and trucks tend to pick up more snow than a person would think.  Then that snow melts.  Then the mats on the floor hold on to that moisture.  Then it evaporates. Then the highly effective vapor barrier holds it in the garage.  Then it congregates on anything cold, like garage doors and windows, for example.(see images below)

Not even this seasoned sailor can see out these windows.
You should stand under these doors after they heat up in the sun = rain bath

To summarize:  

  • The really ingenious blankets I designed with the help of my wife, the ones we made extra long so they would drape to the floor to keep the heat in, well they have become pancake shaped sponges that need to be clamped to the shelves to keep them off the floor.  In addition, they are easily rolled over by truck tires which are popping the grommets out left and right.
  • The garage mats are amazing right up until there is a significant amount of liquid in them.  It’s not that they don’t perform as advertised, they hold even more water than I think is advertised.  That’s the problem.  Once soaked they are extremely hard to dry.  When I attempt to use a wet/dry vac on them it counts as my workout!
  • Now that I’ve turned my garage into, what amounts to, a huge ziplock bag with nowhere for water vapor to go I’ve had to rethink my plan.  I have a trap attic door that I have tried keeping propped open, I have even used a fan in that opening to suck air up and out the attic vents, but either my fan is too small, or the vapor isn’t interested in leaving because there was no noticeable improvement.  I have rolled up one of the mats and used a squeegee on that half of the garage in the hopes that less trapped water will equal less vapor.  The jury is still out on this idea.  
Though it’s hard to see my Yoga block works overtime keeping the attic propped open.

I’m not ready to give up yet, but I did find myself kneeling on a rubber glove today to keep my knees dry.  I never had to do that at the Y.  If you have a suggestion for me spill it. As you can see I’m willing to try just about anything. 

Professional Growth

“Full” Immersion

The summer after our first year teaching abroad in Korea the first question it always seemed we were asked was, “What was it like?” However, a close second was , “So, can you speak Korean?” The answer, invariably was, and remains to this day, “nope.”  

I spent eight years in a country and learned cab Korean.  I learned just enough to direct a cab driver to my house. Sure I learned a few others like “hello” (goodbye was harder), and “thank you”(critical!).  What an embarrassment!  Oh and, “one more please.” (That beer wasn’t gonna bring itself!). 

In my defense, Korean is not an easy language to learn. In addition, I lived on top of a mountain with other English speaking teachers, at a school(Seoul Foreign School-Amazing!) which prided itself in not only instructing in English, but also in having a population of students that used English on the playground.  Besides, in the back of my mind there was always a voice telling me that Korean was not a language that would “translate” well outside of Korea-meaning, where else was I going to use Korean except in Korea?

As part of my transformation this year I have made the commitment to rectify this situation.  Admittedly, Korean seems a bit beyond my reach at this point, but that doesn’t mean that all languages have to be.  What about Spanish? After all, I had a few years of Spanish in high school, there are many Spanish speakers and Spanish Speaking businesses in my own neighborhood-making it relevant, even now, and with as many Spanish speaking countries as there are the odds are not terrible that our next teaching assignment could wind up being in one of them.

Fifty-five days ago I restarted my Duolingo account.  (I had dabbled in it a little earlier, but this time, as I stated earlier, I’m all about achieving.)  Where my goal before was to practice each day by doing a lesson, my goal this time is to come out of Covid fluent in Spanish.  Boom!  There it is for the world to see! 

In addition to Duolingo I also purchased a lifetime membership to Rosetta StoneI’m not messing around!  Besides, at $179 for a lifetime membership with access to unlimited languages seems like a pretty wise investment in myself.

This is NOT an Either/Or Post.  It is a “why I prefer both” post.

Duolingo is obviously made by people who like video games.  Perhaps the most important feature of the program is that through it’s silly, but effective forms of reinforcement, one feels absolutely compelled to meet one’s daily goal. Here are some examples from my home page:

How many consecutive days have I practiced my Spanish?  How could I forget? I actually get emails reminding me of this streak.

How am I doing this week?  They are only too happy to tell me!

How did that stack up against my friends?  I intentionally left rest of the list off of here, but I can see I’ve almost reached level 10, and I can see where they are too!

How am I doing compared to other people in my league?  Again, Duolingo shows me that too?  Notice the “1D 6H 10M”-In 30 hours and ten minutes everyone in the top ten moves up to the next level.

They understand just how to play me.  I once had a fitbit and had to stop using it temporarily when I caught myself out in the garage at 11:30 pm “sneaking” steps in so my wife wouldn’t know what I was up to.  You see, I just had to get ahead of a friend who was competing on the app with me. You understand. Incidentally, she had to quit when she developed a foot problem trying to stay caught up with me!

Isn’t it amazing that I haven’t even mentioned how the program works?  All this is just the motivation.  As if learning a language isn’t motivation enough!(Read with Sarcasm).  Better to let them explain the process:

Duolingo: The Best Way to Learn a Language (2018)

Now, Rossetta Stone takes a very different approach to learning than Duolingo. Admittedly, I’ve only just begun the Rosetta program, but already it feels like its focus is unique. According to Money Magazine,

“Part of what makes the program so great at this is its teaching philosophy. Listening, reading, writing, speaking — Rosetta tries to combine all the basic elements of language learning into a cohesive, holistic program. Another reason why Rosetta excels in creating an immersive approach to language is its speech recognition technology, which has received praise for its accuracy and high degree of customizability. Learning to speak like native speakers is essential for learners to feel like they are making actual progress in their studies.”

I would very strongly agree with the second part of their assessment especially. It feels like Rosetta is much more about speaking. Pronunciation is a critical part of the program. There are small dials to indicate the degree of how precise a person’s pronunciation was for each word or phrase.

Notice the full green circle above the 6. I nailed it!

In addition, I feel like the pace of Rosetta Stone ensures that there are no gaps in one’s learning. This is not always the case with Duolingo. I find I rely on the discussion thread when I miss a question because, though I’m sure I forget plenty, sometimes it feels like new learning has been added without explanation.

There are many comparisons of the two programs, and others, on youtube. The bottom line for me is that the two programs complement each other in such a way that I feel like I’m getting a great education. With almost two months under my belt I don’t seem to have lost any motivation, and that’s saying something!


Images 1-4 Duolingo, Inc. (11th October, 2018). Spanish. 5900 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15206 United States of America

Duolingo. “Duolingo: The Best Way to Learn a Language (2018).” YouTube, YouTube, 27 Mar. 2018,

“The Best Language Learning Software for 2020.” Money,

Cambium Learning® Group Company.(1999-2020 ).Rosetta Stone. Spanish. 1621 N. Kent Street, Suite 1200 Arlington, VA 22209

Health and Fitness

And So It Begins

Can I just start by saying that the more I search for images to capture the spirit of what I’m writing about the more I realize I have to start taking my own pictures! That means I have to start living in a way that I have something worth photographing. That is not my bike, but someday maybe it will be!

In that vein today is the big day.  I “officially” start the physical portion of my self improvement plan today.  I know, what was I doing up until now, right?  Well, everything up to this point has been about getting the pieces into place.  This isn’t a new year’s resolution.  It’s more a lifelong resolution that just happened to launch on New Year’s Day.  The gym has been set up, the equipment purchased, and the baseline data has been secured.  

To review: Starting today, and for the next 30 days, I will eat and drink clean. For me, that means no alcohol, no sugar, and no commercially prepared food.  I will attempt to eat a fresh, organic, and plant based diet.  In addition, I will increase my intake of water. In short, I’m going to drive my family nuts.

I will use my fitness pal to track meals, and I will try to stay within the caloric guidelines for my goals, but I’m not going to lose sleep over it.  With no alcohol, sugar, or ready to eat foods in my diet I’ll have my work cut out for me just to eat enough calories.  Especially if I’m working out as much as I plan.

In terms of exercise, I will work out at least 6 days a week.  I will alternate P90X with spinning(See “Forward to the Past” post for details).  My goal is to also add at least two stretching or yoga sessions per week to my routine.  I’ve been through the P90X cycle once thus far this year, but it was, admittedly, a very disjointed effort.  I did not track my gains, I did not have access to actual weights (I used bands only), and because of a hernia surgery(not related to the workout program!) and some minor back issues, I was not consistent.  I’m choosing to do my own cardio instead of the Kempo(kicking) and Plyometric(jumping) offerings in the program.  This is just a personal preference

(I should note here that I purchased two Powerblocks (pictured below).  Now that I have tried the bands for an entire P90X cycle I just don’t trust that they offer workouts of the same intensity as true weights.  The advantage of an adjustable dumbbell like a Powerblock is that it takes up a fraction of the space as a set of traditional dumbbells at a fraction of the cost.  Plus, for me, Powerblock is a local company and I’m all about supporting Minnesota made. In addition, it seems like every retail outlet, and many online equipment providers are completely wiped out of inventory because of Covid.

Power Block EXP

Here are some baseline measures from P90X so that there is something to compare to at the end of this experiment. Again, the use of weights is going to seriously affect my performance on many of these exercises.  When I go through my first series with the blocks I may need to discard this initial data, but for the sake of a blog with the motto, “An Attempt at Transparency” I feel like I need to put it out there. 

Chest and Back

Shoulders and Arms

Legs and Back

I weighed myself one last time before the start of this experiment.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that I have only put on 0.6 pounds over the holidays.  Beginning weight: 217.6.  With a goal of losing a pound a week(not really, because I’m also trying to maintain muscle mass) I’m allowed 2660 calories per day.  Here is evidence from My Fitness Pal that the ball is rolling.  That’s my breakfast smoothie below.

So, all that remains is to actually do the work.  As this is not a fitness only blog I will check back in a week to let you know how it is going.  

Photo Credit:

Featured Image: Photo by O’car Johann Campos on Unsplash

Health and Fitness

Forward To The Past

In this post I will attempt to explain how I use my 2nd generation Apple watch, an ancient Garmin Edge 705 bike computer, equally ancient videos from Sufferfest, and a Star Trac spinning bike to make my garage into a cardio wonderland.  This is my way of avoiding the extravagant cost of the new home workout systems that are out there.  (This is a work around, and I understand not everyone has this kind of stuff laying around, but covid forces us to think outside the box, and this is old tech-cheaply found used on the web, or freely streamed.)

Before we begin, a commercial came on the other day for some medicine, I don’t remember which, and the list of side effects was at least ten times longer and twice as terrifying as the medical condition itself.  However, it did remind me that before I say another thing about health I better put out a disclaimer.  So here it is:

Disclaimer: I am just some guy.  You are welcome to my advice, but it’s up to you to decide for yourself if I’m full of crap.  By acting on any of the suggestions I make here you are accepting responsibility for any and all consequences.  

Let’s talk about cardio today.  According to the Mayo Clinic:

You can calculate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. For example, if you’re 45 years old, subtract 45 from 220 to get a maximum heart rate of 175. This is the average maximum number of times your heart should beat per minute during exercise.

Admittedly, this is not the most precise way to measure your maximum heart rate, but then I’m not trying out for the olympic bobsled team either.  It is important, however, to have at least a ballpark idea of your max heart rate for some key reasons.  First of all, in order to know if you are working out with intensity your workouts will need to be based off of this number.  Secondly, for safety’s sake you need to keep yourself in your zones.  This is especially important for aging farts like myself who like to pretend we still have all the vim and vigor of the young whippersnappers.  Thirdly, you need this number to set up your devices if you’re interested in using a modicum of precision in your training.  Let me explain.

As I stated in earlier, the Covid pandemic has forced me to find new and interesting ways to challenge my body.  No, that’s not exactly right. It has actually forced me to dust off some old technology that was pretty cutting edge a decade or so ago and combine it with some newer tech, like my Apple watch, to get a more complete picture.  Speaking of “edge”, one of those pieces of technology is the Garmin Edge 705 bike computer.

Garmin Edge 705 
Paul Smith

(I can’t find a Creative Commons image for this elderly piece of technology.  Hopefully, because I’m so positive about it, Garmin will be ok with my using this image!)

Now, you could simply use any heart rate monitor to make sure you are staying in your zones, but that requires thinking, which I don’t know about you, but is not my favorite thing to do while working out.  I kind of like my workouts to be the time I don’t have to think!

Let me explain what I mean.  You can see from the photo above that a rider can have up to 8 data windows on a single screen.  Most of these are irrelevant for a person riding a stationary bike in a garage, especially since many activity trackers have an activity function that will track a bunch of statistics like workout time, intensity, etc.  It’s the heart rate window that I use this for.  Using the Mayo formula above I can set up zones for intensity.  

You can see in the photo above that I have set my max heart rate based on the Mayo formula.  I then set five zones, with trial and error, to fit how hard I like to spin(initially, I set them to end at 100% of max, but never felt like I was pushing it- that’s why my zone five goes above 100%).  Once your device is set you’re ready for the next step. (Incidentally, there are apps for this that you can put on your phone, but then you would need a different device for the next step, I used to use my laptop set on a table in front of me.)

Sufferfest is a company that I guess was recently acquired by Wahoo, the fitness trainer manufacturer.  Back in the day sufferfest made cycling videos with footage from actual tour events.  That’s what I have saved in a google drive folder and use for my training.  (Sufferfest is currently offering a streaming app.  It’s free for 14 days so you can get a taste.)

The older videos look like this(use your imagination-this is a still from streaming video!):

All the work done setting up your zones has been for this!  The text in the middle of the screen appears only periodically, but the numbers in the upper right corner are always visible. The newer videos have even more information like watts, or work, or power, but my old spinner bike doesn’t have a way to track those anyway. Besides, I have found that cadence and heart rate are all I need to get destroyed.  8.0 / 10 – that means 80% of my max heart rate.  At a cadence of 80 rpm’s I need to peddle at a resistance level that raises my heart rate to 80% of max.  It takes a little practice to find those levels, but it’s doable.  

To make it more realistic the videos will change the numbers to match terrain, or race conditions.  For example, another rider might attack, and you will be instructed to peddle at level 10 for a bit, or to stand.  That’s why having your zones planned out ahead and on the computer one the handlebars in front of you makes life so much easier.  No trying to determine what 8.25% of 166 is.  No having to look at your wrist while peddling from a standing position.

I found a six dollar phone clamp at the hardware store that attaches to my spin bike handle.  I use it to watch my Sufferfest videos that are all uploaded to a google drive folder.  I use wireless headphones to further streamline the process.  

That’s it. There you have it, the poor man’s workaround to the super expensive training hardware/software “solutions” that are out there.  Incidentally, there are some free videos on Youtube that use much of the same type of content as Sufferfest.  The Vegan Cyclist, and CTXC Videos are two that come to mind, but there are others.  

A final benefit to think about is that if you stream the video portion to say a laptop or TV, then multiple people can train at once.  My friend Tim and I used to train together, even though he was ten years younger.  Because his max heart rate was ten points higher than mine, and he personalized his workouts to his zones on his own device, we could ride at different levels and get workouts tailored to ourselves.  

Health and Fitness

To Beer Or Not To Beer

My son once made the brutal observation, “Dad, with all the working out that you do, how come you don’t look like the guys on TV?”  Brutal.

I’ve always known the answer to that question, it’s just not one I’ve ever really wanted to face.  It’s diet.  The guys he’s referring to have self-control.  It’s not that I don’t, it’s just that I’ve always been a firm believer in the idea that life is to be enjoyed. 

In an interview for the WIRE magazine, the fitness guru Jack LaLanne once said,

“I’m going to be ninety in September. Everybody else can have a piece of the birthday cake, but not me. I have rules, and I follow ’em. No cake, no pie, no candy, no ice cream! Haven’t had any in seventy-five years. It makes me feel great not eating birthday cake. That’s the gift I give myself.”

That’s not me.

(Jack towing 70 boats with 70 people a 1 ½ miles while handcuffed!)
(The Christmas cookie I ate, one of many, just before sitting down to write this post)

Incredibly, I’m considered a pretty good eater by just about everyone I know.  I eat a plant based diet, limiting dairy as well(cheese is the most wonderful exception ever invented!). Our family cooks, so I don’t eat a lot of processed food. We buy organic when possible.  Snacking is done with care.  My theory has always been that if I eat carefully from the time I get up to dinner time, then I can relax a little and be less discerning then.  This has always worked for me.  I’ve maintained a weight that doesn’t fluctuate much more than a few pounds on either side of 220.  At 6’6” this is not a terrible weight.

Fortunately, I’m able to look at food as fuel better than some.  That doesn’t mean I don’t care how food tastes, just that I’m less likely to get hung up on something small like texture, or color.  Take breakfast, for example.  Almost everyday I have a smoothie.

(Commercial Break)


I have owned two vitamix blenders.  My current blender is 15 years old and hasn’t lost a step.  I don’t know anything about the new models, but these are jet engines for your countertop that would liquify trees if you put them in there!

Here’s a snapshot of what I put in a smoothie.  


 2 cups Water

½ cup Organic Frozen Berries

1 tsp. Beet powder

¼ cup Hemp seeds

1 cup Spinach

¼ cup Chia seeds

¼ Ground Flax Seeds

1 Scoop of Whey Protein

3 oz. of Tofu

1 tbs. Walnuts or Raw Pumpkin Seeds

¼  cup Oats 

(optional ingredients: Cinnamon , Turmeric (not for the taste conscious), cacao nibs)

Nutritional information: According to My Fitness Pal– 628 Calories, Fat 29 grams, Carbohydrates 52 grams, and Protein 48 grams. (only 5 grams of this is saturated fat, and there are no trans fats)

Obviously, what you decide to put in it each day can have some serious impact on flavor, texture, and color.  My family loves to mock me as I sit down to a hearty breakfast of grey sludge.  However, it never tastes as bad as it looks.  (If the protein powder you decide to use is unsweetened you will need to add a banana or an apple to sweeten up the mix.)  

For lunch I eat a monstrously huge salad of as many vegetables as we have in the fridge.  I usually top it with beans of some kind, and drizzle it with balsamic vinegar and a little olive oil.  To this I will add a sprouted grain tortilla or two and some hummus.  I generally have an orange or a few dates for dessert.  

Aside from these two meals I will not eat until late afternoon.  I will enjoy two cups of coffee when I first get up(I like them with unsweetened soy milk) and I will have two cups of tea throughout the day(Plain-green tea), and all the water I can remember to drink.

The real downfall occurs at 4:15 or so.  That’s happy hour.  That is my true weakness.  I love beer and I love snacks.  At 60 calories per cup you really can’t beat Angie’s “Boom Chicka Pop” white cheese popcorn.  So if it’s not what I’m eating (Dinner is varied but always healthy and fresh-except for pizza night!) then this sort of leaves the beer as the odd man out.  

Unlike other foods I really do care what my beer tastes like.  I won’t buy low-cal “sports” beers. I like them tall, local, and flavorful.  I also like 3.  According to fitness pal I take in almost 800 calories from beer alone!  And that, people, is why I don’t look like the guys on TV!  That is also why I do dry months and dry days during the week. 

I could spend an entire post talking about alcohol, but I don’t want to do it.  I know that it is my number one weakness, and my number one risk.  I know that it not only adds unwanted calories to my diet, but that it affects my sleep, and my memory, and my health in a myriad of ways.  I have a healthy fear of it-Far better and stronger people than I have succumbed to it’s charms!  

So, in 5 days I will start another dry January.  I have no intention of quitting drinking permanently, but I intend to be much more focused on documenting the process.  I want to pay particular attention to how I feel, how I sleep, and how it seems to affect my health.  Cutting 800 calories a day out of my diet is certainly going to have an affect.  I might even have to eat more so I don’t waste away!  Wouldn’t that be a nice problem to have?

Digital Literacy Professional Growth

Twitter: Dipping A Toe

Twitter. Ugh.. 

Even my grown children, digital natives, consumers of all things digital, seem to balk at Twitter.  And yet, millions (billions?) of people use it, depend on it, and love it?  How come?

Admittedly, I’m on it because I’m told I have to be.  The people that tell me this are people I trust, so I’m putting my suspicions on hold until I can wrap my head around what all the excitement is about.

At first glance, Twitter seems so smart.  It’s so efficient! Because posts are limited by character counts a lot of information is packed into a small space.  Once you have made some decision about who you want to follow, your stream will be populated by tweets from those people or organizations. That is exactly what makes it such a double edged sword as well!  Some people and organizations are prolific tweeters transforming your babbling brook of information into a raging torrent of whitewater. Taking a swig of information out of the Twitter stream sometimes feels like trying to drink out of firehose, 

There are ways to slow this down.  Social media management tools like Hootsuite are the best way I’ve seen to separate the wheat from the chaff.  Let’s face it, in a first place tie for the most difficult aspect of Twitter is not Twitter, but our own lack of self-control in perusing through it.  Here’s what I mean.  The photo below shows what my Twitter feed looks like:

Contrast this with how Hootsuite looks:

At first glance it may seem I’ve only complicated the view. However, on closer inspection you can see that Hootsuite actually allows me more control . I can see my own tweets, tweets I’ve been mentioned in, and also, if you look at the home stream in the photo above you will notice that it has the same information as my Twitter home stream.  I have the option of not even including it on this page.  Perhaps the most useful tool is what is in the 4th column and beyond.  Users can customize further streams by including specific #hashtags.  Since I’m taking class through Eduro, it seems like a logical conversation to follow.  I also have one for inquiry, but any more than a few topics and I find myself back in the heavy current of distraction.

Another great feature of Hootsuite is that you are not limited to your Twitter here.  You can organize other social accounts like Facebook and Instagram in the same way.  Hootsuite becomes your one stop shop for all things socia.  Not only that, but anything you can do on those sites can be done from Hootsuite, like posting.  You can even post on more than one site simultaneously.  Am I doing any of that? Oh heck no, but know the options are there…and it’s free.

When you are ready to dip a toe here I recommend you try some of the videos on setting up an account.  This “How to use hootsuite in 13 minutes” put out by Hootsuite, was really clear and really helpful.  

Why? Why bother doing this at all?

Here’s the thing. Education is a moving target right now, especially with Covid and the subsequent need for home learning. If an efficient use of time leads to a balanced life, and if a balanced life leads to contentment, then we need to find efficient ways to hit that target. Twitter puts groups of likeminded individuals into contact with each other. Your personal learning network becomes anyone who sees your tweet. The wheel you’re thinking of inventing is probably being used by someone already. In ten minutes I found three things I want to try. The bottom line is that I need to quit trying to to it all by yourself.

Digital Literacy Professional Growth

Practice Makes Perfect

So, to recap, I am an elementary teacher who has spent the last decade teaching abroad in Seoul, South Korea and on Grand Cayman Island.  This year, circumstances forced my family home to Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Avoiding Covid, surgery, and a strong desire to get better at my job has stifled my desire, and in some ways, my ability to get a classroom job right now.  That’s why I’m using this year as a time for professional growth.


Your Own Bucket

When it comes to taking personal responsibility for the decisions one makes in his or her life, in learning and otherwise, my dad has a favorite, and rather colorful, expression, “Everybody’s gotta carry their own bucket of shit,” he would say. (Stay with me, it will make sense in the end.)