Category: Just Rambling

Shaking my head

I made a mistake before I went to bed two nights ago.  I turned on the news just to see what was going on.

There were two things that made the top of the news.

These weren’t the actual news reports that I saw but they’re exemplary of the topic.  Reports from both Canada and United States to show that we’re all exposed to this.

Md. School Shooting: Shooter Dead At Great Mills High School, 2 Others Injured

2 students injured in school shooting

Two takeaways

  • Students were “only” injured
  • The shooter was killed

Austin serial bombing suspect killed in dramatic confrontation; ID’d as 24-year-old man

Bombing suspect kills himself in Austin, Texas, police chief says

Two takeaways

  • The report was going on and on that this was only an “incendiary device”.  I had to do a Google Search to make sure that I understood what incendiary was just to make sure.  only?
  • There was a full scale show of force trying to hunt this down.

In the morning comes the news that the suspect was killed

Flipping through the news channels, that is the only story that seems to be covered.

It’s sad but I guess we’ve moved on.


52 weeks with Stephen Hurley

Confession here – the number 52 comes from Stephen Hurley.  I could go in and fact check but he seems like a man of integrity so I’ll go with his number.

OK, actually I did fact check him by going into the archive and counting.

According to Stephen, this morning will be the 52nd time that “This Week in Ontario Educators” has been broadcast on voicEd Radio.


That’s what happens when you say yes.  A year’s worth of a weekly broadcast.

A little bit of history – a while ago (certainly more than 52 weeks) I noticed that there were a lot of blog posts titled with “100 Blogs you should read” or “50 People you should follow on Twitter”.  Often, I’m a sucker for click bait like that hoping to find new things and seeing if maybe even I made the list.  More often than not though, I wouldn’t be on those lists (they probably have standards) but the bizarre thing is that the content mentioned was often pointed to dormant accounts.  It was also very seldom that you’d find someone from Ontario on those lists.

I decided to do something about it.  My answer was two-fold – one was to devote an hour on Friday mornings identifying “Active Ontario Educators” i.e. people that are actually doing something on Twitter on Thursdays and to do a quick review of recent blog posts from Ontario Educators.  And, in the process I curated a pretty good collection of blogs and bloggers.

They’re all from Ontario and for that I don’t apologize.  There are awesome things happening in Ontario and this was my way to help make others aware.

If you’re doing a Twitter workshop, there are five lists that you can share with new people and ditto for bloggers.  The bonus is that all of them have been active within the last 24 hours.  No dead links here.

End of history lesson.

So, I got this request from Stephen to up my game a little bit.  His plan was to have a dialogue on voicEd Radio about the posts that would come out on Friday.  We would do this on Wednesday.  What the heck?  I thought I’d give it a shot.

So, we tried it for a couple weeks.  It was a half-hour show and the concept was pretty easy.  I would just pick 4 or 5 blog posts, Stephen would ask me to name a blog and the topic and then we’d chat for a bit.  He had no idea, in advance, of what we were going to do.

Looking back, the initial attempts were OK but certainly had room to grow.  So grow we did.

First, Stephen wanted to have an idea of what the blog posts would be in advance.  Fair enough.  We now have a document with the links to the blog posts that he gets to preview in advance of the show.


Now, he is pretty smooth and has a voice and style for radio.  In the beginning, I was anything but.  I’ve recorded and listened to my voice many times.  I am very nasal in my speech but it’s the only one I’ve got.

There was another element; since he didn’t know the blog posts in advance, he’d ask me questions and I had these annoying mannerisms that came through quite noticeably.  With a little planning, the two of us did a better job of having this weekly discussion.

We also decided to have a little chat before we started looking at the blogs.  One of the best comments we had was from Jennifer Casa-Todd who said it sounded like a couple of guys sitting around the dinner table chatting.  What a compliment.

I’ve got a new appreciation for the need for moderation and Stephen is great at it.  From where I sit at my computer, I can see about five different clocks all of which are pretty close to the real time but not exact.  He’s great about cutting me off at our 10:00 am quitting time.

The technology behind all this lives in “The Cave” in Milton.  I just need to connect to an instance of Zencaster and make sure that my microphone and speakers are working at an appropriate level.  Stephen really makes the process easy for the guests.

We decided to lead in every show with a different piece of music.  The choice was left to me and so often I’ll pick a song that is roughly related to one of the blog posts.  I think it works nicely and Stephen says that he goes onto iTunes and buys the song if he doesn’t have it in his collection.  I like to think that he’s getting a better collection of music in the process.  He also pays SOCAN licensing fees so it’s all legitimate.

We do try to do things on Wednesday mornings at 9:15 live and then have it repeated throughout the week.  But, there have been times where one of us is unavailable but the joy of radio is that you can record in advance.  We’ve been able to get the show out on time whether we record it early in the morning or in the evening.

Through the shows, we’ve encountered a few characters.  Paul McGuire is always entertaining because he’ll be on Twitter commenting or correcting us live.  It’s almost dangerous to look at the Twitter feed at times!  There are people who are regular bloggers and you always know that you can count on Aviva Dunsiger, Diana Maliszewski, Jen Aston, Jennifer Casa-Todd, Tim King, Deborah McCallum, Chris Cluff, Sue Dunlop or many others to have something posted within the past week.  After a while, you come to expect multiple questions from Aviva, half a book chapter post from Jennifer, something tough to read the first time through from Tim, Deborah, and Chris, something on leadership or well-being from Sue, or something completely different yet incredibly interesting from Diana.

It would be easy to count on these people ever week.  That would be boring!  I’ve tried to dig deeply into a list of great Ontario bloggers to find new (to me) people like a Sarah Lalonde, Lynn Thomas, Jen Giffin, Zelia Capitão-Tavares, Jim Cash, Jon Orr, or so many others.  It occurred to me that this was a pretty incredible blog roll.  So, I made one!  We also like the fact that we can help amplify voices and causes like Eva Thompson, Ramona Meharg, and Peter Cameron.  I was absolutely delighted to see a friend and former colleague Lisa Cranston take on blogging in her retirement.  These names just scratch the surface.  Check the blog roll for everyone.

I joked to Stephen once that our show was an opportunity for two guys to read someone’s post and get it completely wrong.  Emboldened, we decided to do the same thing for French language bloggers Joel McLean and Sylvain Lacasse.  The best part about radio is that Lisa Noble and Sheila Stewart can’t complain about my spelling or grammar mistakes.  They just never see them until Friday.  A standing faux pas is Stephen messing up the name of this show and talking about another of voicEd Radio’s shows.  Grrrr.

The bizarre thing about this is that I can’t listen to voicEd Radio because of the lousy internet access that I have.  I can talk and upload but to listen to streaming is impossible.  If I want to listen to a show, I have to download from the archive which is faithfully stored at the voicEd website.  Equally as bizarre, Stephen and I have only ever met once.  Its was at Minds on Media last year where we tried to broadcast the show live from the Bring IT, Together Conference.  Aviva, Eva, Ramona, Jim, and Cal Armstrong joined us on stage.  We really had to know our stuff to talk intelligently about their posts while they were actually there.

I’m impressed that, even after 52 shows and the same format, that the diverse blogging from Ontario Educators keeps the conversation fresh.  The radio show complements the Friday blog nicely.  I’ve discovered that we’re both WKRP fans and his Dr. Johnny Fever plays nicely off my Les Nessman.  There really is something special when people who are on the show take the time to retweet the teaser that’s put out at about 9:00 am on Wednesdays to let people know what blogs we’re going to be chatting about.

It goes something like this:

Join @Stephen_Hurley and me at 9:15 on @voicEdcanada to talk This Week in Ontario Edublogs – we’ll be looking at blog posts from @virtualgiff @sarahlalondee @chrisjcluff @dcarruthersedu @WillGourley #twioe

We haven’t been cancelled yet so the show will go on.  We’ll be live this morning at 9:15 and the show will be replayed throughout the week.  Thanks, Stephen, for taking a chance on me and I’ll look forward to having yet another go at it.

Two women

You never now where your next provocation for a blog post may come from.  This time, it came from @NoelineL in a little ditty that she posted.

The March edition of Canadian Living, p. 13, issues a challenge, to guys too: to share a story about two women, one personal and one historical, who have motivated you. Would you consider sharing?

Sure, I’ll share.

The only difficult part is to nail it down to just two women.  Being in education, I can think of so many women who motivated and inspired me.  A Director, Superintendents, Principals, colleagues, bloggers, and so much more.


But, I’ll name one person who I’ve always felt motivated and empowered by – Chris Stephenson.

It started with her really as a salesperson – but with a twist.  I suppose ultimately there was a product that she was selling (computer science resources) but her approach was always to sell pedagogy.  You couldn’t have a technical conversation with her; she had a person who quite ably talked about that.  She always wanted to talk big sky and exit outcomes and rarely even mentioned her product.

One of my favourite moments as a speaker was when she invited me to address a group of Computer Science teachers at the University of Toronto’s Convocation Hall.  Chris was president of ACSE (Association of Computer Science Educators) at the time.  I suspect that it was the most perfect acoustic place that I’ve spoken in.  I distinctly remember being fitted for a headset microphone and standing up from getting ready to talk and all that I could hear was this haunting noise that resembled the Phantom of the Opera.  I looked out into the audience and mouthed to Chris “is that me?”  She nodded yes.  You see, it was in February and I had my annual chest cold and the heavy breathing that went along with it was pretty gruesome.

ECOO (Educational Computing Organization of Ontario) really grew and flourished under Chris’ guidance when she became the president of the organization.  She had a vision and assembled a team that made things happen, including a very good friend of mine who was her vice-president.

In Ontario, Chris became the premier voice for Computer Science education before leaving us to take on a leadership role in the fledgling Computer Science Teachers’ Association.  I was so fortunate in that she took me along to help with the annual conference every year since the first one, to speak at various locations, and add my thoughts about Computer Science teacher education.  Somehow, she had followed me and realized that I was teaching the University of Windsor course.  Now, she’s moved on and is bringing her advocacy and abilities to Google’s Computer Science initiatives.

Throughout all this leadership though, it was never “about Chris”.  The greatest tribute that Chris could give to a speaker was “I could listen to him read the phone book”.  It’s amazing to look back at her career and all that she left behind – a cadre of passionate educators who became more passionate and better at their craft because of her efforts.


This is even tougher.  There was one historical figure that I really did a great deal of research on at one point – Joan of Arc.

I’m not sure what inspired me to do this, studies in class, a look at British history having grown up in the Anglican Church, love of horror movies, or ???

Or maybe it was because of the deep dedication to a cause leading to the ultimate punishment at age 19.

I think that all of us looked for someone to model things.   I think that we all bounced from person to person depending upon our growth and development at the time.   I suppose that I could have been influenced by a Canadian politician, a musician or band, or any of the other things that teenagers focus their attentions to but I didn’t.  I was very much focused on Joan of Arc.

Yet, there was something about the dedication and mission of her that stuck with me; the message of deciding what you stand for; determine your mission in life and then follow it with great fervour.

Thanks, Noeline, for the challenge to share.

My Week Ending March 18, 2018


Readings (You can follow my daily readings as they happen here)

  1. I hate that Detroit is always the problem child when people talk about education that needs updating in the states.  I’ve known some great educators from there and they work hard, very hard, with what they have.  It has to be depressing to be working in that system, trying to do the best you can, and then have sensational stories like this come out.  My best highlight from Detroit educators was years ago being at the MACUL conference during March Madness and the University of Michigan was playing Michigan State University.  I think the conference shut down for the game.
  2. One of the frustrating things about being a Linux user is reading stories like this where you’re reminded that there are so many options.  It’s the option of choice upon choice upon choice that makes it fun just to experiment.  I wish that more people would do that rather than just discarding their old computer.  We’d have a more diverse community of computer users and the discussion might turn to how to network your house effectively.
  3. So many people have cut the cord.  All you need is a really fast internet connection which pretty much rules me out for the foreseeable future.
  4. There are lots of examples of coding using Scratch on the internet.  Most of them tend to be something cutesy that serves as a standalone example.  When you want more, it can be a challenge.  Here, you’ll find a 25 hour course.
  5. This was kind of interesting to read but difficult to understand how the implementation would go.  Can you imagine a school system without subjects?  The good thing would be that you wouldn’t target mathematics class for preparation for a test.
  6. It’s difficult to imagine using a computer without the internet.  Sure, us longtimers have had connected computers for years and years but it was the World Wide Web that made the big difference.  It doesn’t even sound right, even if it’s in my head to myself to even say, “World Wide Web”.  Like it’s a distinct thing other than the tie that binds everything together.
  7. Should you check this article before you fly to a Canadian city again?  Let me just say that flying in and out of Windsor is a breeze.  You can overshoot by miles, I suspect but I hope you never have to.  I’ve always wondered about Midway though.  It’s required viewing if you’re just surfing around Google Maps looking for unique looking airports.  Make sure you go to satellite view.  LaGuardia is kind of scary too!
  8. Sadly, the passing of Stephen Hawking happened this week.  Check this link for some pictures.
  9. Corporal punishment in schools?  This reads like a blast from the past – a long ago  past.  But, lest I get too snooty, we did have “the strap” in my elementary school.  Rumours were around about friends who “got it” but nobody actually personally confessed.  I suspect it really was just the fear of it that kept us on the straight and narrow.
  10. This may end up being the biggest Microsoft mistake since Vista.  If I want to use an alternative to Edge, I should be able to.  After all, it’s my computer.   I would have thought that the computer world would have learned from Apple’s desire to have everything Safari.  It’s not that these are bad browsers but cross-platform is important to some people.  And, Chrome, Opera, Firefox, and others are engineered to support that.


Blog Posts on doug … off the record


voicEd Radio

My on demand page can be found here.  The latest edition features blog posts from:


Technology Trouble Shooting

Fingerprints – There are three or four places around here that I use technology and just about everything that I use has a touch screen on it.  I read a report once that said that hackers could get into your iPad by looking at the smudge prints on their screen.  My current vice is AlphaBetty Saga.  The problem is that I have this big blotch on my screen from using it and, at a certain angle, it drives me nuts.  So, I have a micro-fibre cloth everywhere I happen to be.  I don’t imagine there’s a fix but if you have a routine for fingerprint management, I’d love to hear it.

Weekly Challenge –  This is actually a nice challenge to have.  The only time I’ve ever owned an Apple phone was when my employer bought it for me.  I always felt constrained because everything is locked down.  When I had to start buying my own, I went with Android because you can customize darn near everything.  The default launcher is Samsung’s Touch-Wiz which is nice.  Then, I read about the Microsoft launcher, loaded it, and really enjoyed it.  Recently, I read an article about how to make your phone act like the Pixel 2 and it talked about the specific launcher for that.  Unfortunately, you have to side-load it and I’m not really to do that.  So, I loaded the best Google launcher that I could find on the Play Store.  I’ll see how it goes.


Video of the Week – Down by the Henry Moore

Not only is this a great song, but the author throws in so much imagery from around Toronto.  How many places do you recognize?

“I walked down to Kensington Market
Bought me a fish to fry”

My Favourite Photo This Week

Spring is here.  Sort of, I guess.  Driving home from Waterloo as a university student, we used to call things like this “super snow”.  You know that snow in the ditches that lingers long after the temperatures are well above freezing.  Here’s the latest look from the pier at Colchester harbour.  The ice is hanging in there.  A few weeks ago, all that water was ice and snow.  It’s now going away.  Since I’m looking south, the ice is on the west side of the dock.  I would have thought that it would be gone but, as my Science consultant friend would say, “there’s a workshop in there somewhere”.

Screenshot 2018-03-18 at 10.43.59


Thanks for reading.


Whatever happened to …

… cookbooks?

Thanks, Sheila Stewart for the idea for this post.

 I also thought… “whatever happened to cookbooks?”  So much great stuff online, but I can’t part with my ol’ cookbooks and scraps of recipes in a file box …

I’m glad to hear that Sheila has her ol’ cookbooks.

This brought back a memory of one that was always in my mother’s kitchen.

Screenshot 2018-03-17 at 10.16.22

Thanks, Patrick Q., Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)

The one that was in our kitchen certainly wasn’t in this great shape.  I recall it as being really run through the mill with things spilled on it, the recipes which are held in place by a three ring binder ripped, and all kinds of handwriting on the pages.

In fact, I remember someone gave her a brand new one as a gift so that it would be in better shape.  But, she never used it.  I think the key was in the handwriting that was on the original book.  How could she give up all that wisdom and revision to these recipes?

Today, my cooking doesn’t require this level of sophistication.  For me, it’s a matter of reading the instructions before I put whatever i’m cooking into the microwave.  Or, to keep opening the lid to the BBQ to see if all the smoke is an indication that things are done.  Around here, my wife who does the gourmet cooking, has one that she keeps close by.

Screenshot 2018-03-17 at 10.26.09

You’ll see that it has handwriting on it as well.  Her world famous Apple Crisp recipe is on page 97.  The book was actually put together by the parents’ group at the school and sold as a fundraiser.  My youngest, jealous of the use of the book, is responsible for writing in her own school since we moved before she had the chance to go to Colchester North.

In addition, we do have a recipe box that sits on top of the stove where my wife occasionally shares recipes with others, notably her hairdresser.  There will be the occasional new menu pulled from a Facebook post or an internet search after experiencing a great meal when we’re “out” for a meal.  Any way recipes get there, it’s full of good stuff; those that know me know that I haven’t missed too many meals.

Generally though, recipes are for special occasions and meals.  The day to day stuff is committed mostly to memory or on the side of the box if I’m cooking.

The timing for this post is just perfect.  We have a new recipe for a St. Patrick’s Day dinner.  It involves cabbage, corned beef, potatoes, and onions.  Our house is going to smell nice!

For a Sunday, what are your thoughts about cookbooks?

  • Where do you turn for inspiration for new recipes?
  • Do you remember the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook?
  • How about a Betty Crocker cookbook?  Any other?
  • Do you share recipes with others?
  • How about using the internet or social media to get new cooking ideas?
  • Are you really modern and just ask Cortana, Alexa, Google Home, or Siri for directions when you’re whipping up that meal?  Do you ever wonder if you do a search for “Apple Crisp” whether they’d all return the same recipe?  Maybe we need to have a cook off!
  • Do you have a favourite recipe that you use over and over that you originally learned from a cookbook?

I’d be interested in your culinary memories and you might get a request for your favourite recipe from Sheila if you share something that looks pretty good.  My secret is that you can make anything tasty if you add enough garlic.

Please share your thoughts in the reply below.  This series of Sunday posts is largely crowd sourced and if you’ve got an idea, please share it in thing Padlet.  All of the previous posts are available from the Menu at the top of this blog or by clicking here.

Feeling old

This article was like an edition of Whatever happened to … run amok!

25 things that happened 20 years ago that will make you feel ancient

Of course with a challenge like that, I had to take the test.


  • Gulp.  I was using Altavista or Dogpile at the time


  • Great movie


  • I learned more about US politics as a result of this one event.


  • Worst. Mouse. Ever.  Or, as we called it – hockey puck.


  • I was impressed that so many countries could come together on this concept.


  • I understand I wasn’t even in the running.


  • Passed on both of them.


  • I wasn’t a fan.


  • It’s still available in reruns.


  • I wasn’t one of them.  My first mobile phone was a Blackberry.


  • I use mine three times a day.  Battery life is starting to deteriorate.


  • OK


  • The photo doesn’t actually look dated.


  • It’s how you spent Friday nights with the kids.


  • I didn’t purchase these but they had a lot of play on the radio.


  • This was sad but his movies are still shown on television.


  • That’s certainly not the case today.


  • Things did grind to a halt around here when it was cool.


  • I never got involved but have a daughter who is a fanatic.


  • Yes, definitely creepy.  Could you imagine if our current technology was available to use in these devices?


  • Disney definitely does things right.


  • I don’t recall this at all.


  • I can’t imagine the lines we’d have today without this breakthrough.


  • The whole strip in Las Vegas is completely amazing.  Each hotel tries to outdo each other.

That was an interesting trip along memory lane.

Do you have memories?

I know something Google Maps doesn’t know

or Bing Maps too for that matter.

What do I know?

That Amherstburg has a Sherbrooke Street.

How do I know this?

I read the newspaper.  One of the things about living in a small community is that you get a chance to get into all the little details that would probably go missing in large cities.

Now, big cities are growing all the time.  There are new roads created regularly so not to have them on the map wouldn’t surprise you.

But, Sherbrooke Street is in the older part of Amherstburg.  When I read the story in the newspaper about the town closing it and doing a land conveyance, it caught my attention.  I’m not really one for knowing street names to begin with so it didn’t come as a surprise.  I typically find my bearings by landmarks.  “It’s near the Sobey’s store”.

But my wife knows them all.  So, she was very surprised when I asked her where Sherbrooke Street was.  She had no idea and the document in the newspaper was well shrunk so we couldn’t make out all the details.  We did know that it supposedly connects King and George streets.

I fired up Google Maps and then Bing Maps and neither had any clue when I searched for the street.

Off we went to town to see if we could find it.  After all, George Street is only about four blocks long.

And, we struck out.

There was no street sign.  But, as we circled about and came back, we think we know where it might be.

There’s a parking lot for the Amherstburg Freedom Museum that only goes half way from King to George before it hits a fence and then what looks like parkland on the other side.


Our guess is that they’re going to “close” this road to extend the parking lot.

Only time will tell.  But, if you see the Google Streetview car driving in circles looking for Sherbrooke Street, tell it not to waste its time.  Even if it finds the street, it appears that it’s not going to be there for long.

And, let me put my Amherstburg ambassador hat on for a bit, if your travels take you this way, make sure you visit the museum.