Category: Just Rambling


Those that know me know that I enjoy harness racing.  It was actually Biology class that got me started with this interest.  Harness racing was coming to our town and our teacher used the opportunity to talk about family trees and breeding.  If you ever look at a harness racing program, each horse has his/her immediate lineage listed so that you can tell who a horse’s sire and dam are.  Somehow that captured my interest.

If you’re interested, you can really go deep into the pedegree of any horse.  It’s all done for free unlike the current fad of tracing your DNA!

In our town, harness racing was big (and controversial) and became one of the things to do on a Sunday afternoon.  My parents volunteered with the Kinsmen and Kinettes to help run the afternoon.  At the time, you had to be a lot older than we were to even get into the track area.  But, if you knew the lay of the land, there were places where you could stand to watch the races.  For those of us who were lifeguards and worked on Sunday afternoons, you could watch the races from the pool.

I got hooked.  At the time, the standard for harness racing was the ability for a horse to run a mile in 2 minutes and 10 seconds.  If you saw a horse that did that, you knew it had good breeding and excellent training.  Like many things, the sport got so much better.  Today, you get excited when you see a horse that can run a mile in less than 2 minutes.

We enjoyed travelling the province and seeing races at various venues – Clinton, Goderich, Elmira, Hanover, Dresden, Sarnia, Flamboro, Greenwood, Garden City, Mohawk, Barrie, Ottawa, Windsor, London, Woodstock, Orangeville, and Leamington.  There may be others.  It’s sad that some of these tracks are no longer in operation.

It was being in proximity to Windsor that we got to see some of the best horses of all time – Frugal Gormet, Niatross, Cam Fella, Camluck and probably even more that have been forgotten since Windsor Raceway has been closed for a while.

There was a horse that I never got a chance to see and that was Somebeachsomewhere.  It was sad to read this Somebeachsomewhere, Nova Scotia’s Most Famous Harness Racing Horse, is Dead.  This was a legendary racer from his first race, setting speed records in doing it.

And setting records wherever he went.

Fortunately, we have video to remind us what a magnificent horse he was.  Just watching these videos confirms that he was truly in a class by himself.

He truly deserved the recognition for being the Horse of the Decade.

The list of records is such a reminder of how the sport has improved over the years.  Remember when I say that 2:10 was a standard.  A race that goes in 1:46.4 just is unfathomable to me.

For the sport, Somebeachsomewhere has stood as a stud and so his lineage will continue.  I’ll be keeping an eye out – Dr J Hanover has already hit my radar with a 1:46.4 at Mohawk!  I hope to see more.


Time zones

You know, there was once a time when I would blog and post the it the moment I got  finished.  Life was so much easier then.

A few years ago, I got into the habit of blogging on a daily basis.  I like it; it gives me a chance to share my thoughts on various things, comment on articles that I’ve read from other places, share my thoughts on various pieces of software, and all kinds of other things.

There are some “regular” things that I write about – “This Week in Ontario Edublogs“, “Whatever happened to …“, and a less regular series  of “Interviews“.

To keep myself on track, I’ve started scheduling one blog post a day to appear at 5am.  That gives me the freedom to create it whenever I want during the day and to have it appear reliably the next.  Certainly not making a comparison here, but I kind of imagine this is how newspaper journalists work.

I was pretty excited, last week, when Sarah Lalonde agreed to be interviewed.  The interviews aren’t done live, but rather over a period of time, so that the interviewee can think through and have the best answers to represent themselves.  I got a message over the weekend that she had completed it and so I let her know that I would move it over to my blog and schedule it for 5am on Monday.

Now, the plot thickens.

I was in Omaha at the time, having spent the weekend planning for this summer’s CSTA Conference.  Going slightly off track, the new convention centre is awesome and there appears to be so much to do there as promoted by our contacts in Omaha – the world’s best zoo, the cobblestoned old market area, walk along the river, visit the Casino, walk over the bridge to Iowa, etc.  It was interesting to note that you drive through Iowa as you go from the airport (in Omaha) to downtown Omaha.  The locals blame it on the river moving.  The airport was very friendly and so easy to navigate.

So, back to the topic – I knew I was in a different time zone.  When you look at your flights  and see that it’s only a one hour flight going but three hours returning, you know something’s up.  Based on a suggestion from Sheila Stewart, I wrote my Sunday post in my hotel room on Saturday and scheduled it for 5am.  I slept in on Sunday morning and I did check that the post went out and it did.  Nobody complained so life just goes on.

I had every intention of double checking everything Sunday night but this Minnesota Vikings fan only heard about the “greatest play ever, the Minneapolis Miracle” on the radio and so was surfing the sports channels last night when I got home to actually see it.

Things were different this morning.  I awoke to a message from one of my social media consciences, Aviva, shortly after 5am.

Screenshot 2018-01-15 at 11.25.54

And, there were a few more.

I checked and, yes, it was sitting there ready to appear at 6am or rather, 5am Central Time.  Grrrr.

Lessons learned here –

  • if you’re reliable, people come to expect that reliability
  • the default times come from the time zone that you happened to be in.  I should have known and planned for this

Will it happen again in the future?  I’d like to say no but I know me probably better than anyone else.  It will happen.  I apologize in advance.

I’m also going to look into the WordPress settings.  I wonder if there is a feature to always schedule something according to the home time zone even if I’m not in it.  That would be the best possible solution.

Otherwise, I’ll have to remember to do some mental math before I schedule things.

Related to this, it was disappointing that nobody complained that I didn’t do #FollowFridays on Friday morning…

Whatever happened to …

… broomball?

Thanks to Sheila Stewart for the idea for this post.  It came via a message to me.

In part …

My husband and I were discussing our weekend broomball games during HS and wondered if anyone plays that much anymore.

This was a strange memory for me.

I had to do some head scratching on this one.  My first reaction was that I never played it.  But, upon further reflection, I do remember playing it on at least one occasion with friends at high school.

It was basically a pickup game at the local arena.  There was a league in town and, for some reason, the league owned the equipment and you could borrow it if you wanted to play.  If you read this description in Wikipedia, there’s a complete listing of the equipment that players need to wear.

In our case, I just remember a bunch of us borrowing the broomball sticks and going out on the ice with our running shoes.  We didn’t play the full range of the ice, instead opting for playing boards to boards at one end.  It was fun but, other than that once, I don’t ever remember playing it more often.  I guess we were more hockey people.

For a Sunday, what are your thoughts?

  • Do you or did you ever play broomball?
  • Do they now, or did they in the day, play broomball in your community?
  • In the article, it makes reference to broomball being one of Canadian heritage sports.  What are the others?
  • Given the very high price of hockey, would broomball be a more affordable game for kids today?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Thanks, Sheila, for the idea.  If you have an idea for this series of posts, please add it to the Padlet here.

Ghost towns

I love it when I discover something by accident.  It happened to me recently.  I was doing some research on an old community that I had visited once and discovered that it’s now considered a Ghost Town.

And, what would anything be if there wasn’t an internet page to celebrate it.

There is…


I was on a tear about Provincial Parks and remember camping at Inverhuron as a child.  Looking up Inverhuron, I found that it had made the Ghost Town list here.

It was interesting to read about the community.  In particular, the rollover on the pictures was particularly interesting.  It’s often that current communities have images to celebrate their history but it’s especially nice to see that a “ghost town” would do the same.

Now, me being me, I couldn’t just stop at one.  So, I took a look down the list and found a number of places that I remember and many that I’d actually been through.  It was interesting to see Moncrieff make the list.  Of particular interest was the old school house which I recall as a community centre and taking a girl I was dating there a couple times.

So, what else?

Well, for me, there was:

  • Armstrong Mills
  • Balaclava (I didn’t know there were two of them)
  • Chesterfield
  • Dawn Mills
  • Epping
  • Eugenia
  • Lieury
  • Proton Station
  • Rock Mills
  • Sauble Falls
  • Shipley

Those I know I’ve visited for sure.  There were some names that did seem familiar.

From this website, though, these are just the ghost towns from the South West.  The rest of the province is in there too!

How many places can you remember?


Whatever happened to …


… tail gunners on snow plows?

This is a little departure from the usual Sunday morning post but I remember this from an incident that happened to me this week.

As a bit of background for those who have never been to Essex County.  It’s absolutely flat.  If you’re approaching on the 401, it starts just past Tilbury.  Not a hill in sight.  In fact, in our town, they’ve actually created a small hill so that people can go sledding.

In order to make sure that rain and melting snow goes away, there are drainage ditches dug on both sides of the roadways.  It does add increased importance for staying on the roadway.

Now, the dog and I walk on the road every morning.  It’s a Class B road which, among other things, means that there are very narrow shoulders.  We remember the rules from school that you always walk facing traffic so when we walk north, we’re facing the southbound traffic.  Many drivers are courteous and move over to give us room but there are times that we do have to head for the gravel shoulders for safety.  It’s generally not a problem.  The dog walks to my left so we just move over a bit to the left.

Like most of Ontario, we’ve had a great deal of snow lately and the prevailing winds have come from the west.  That often means that there are drifts that overhang the drainage ditch on the east side of the road.

There’s the setup for my story.

One morning, we’re out walking and heading north and we see a southbound snow plow coming at us.  Not wanting to be shoveled off the road, I turn and see that there is no traffic headed north on the other side of the road.  Ever the polite walkers, we cross the road to let the plow go by.  I keep glancing over my left shoulder to make sure that there’s no traffic coming – nothing in sight.

Then it happened.  There was a truck behind the snow plow that was headed our way.  The driver, being impatient, pulls out to pass the plow and ended up coming straight for us!  No problem, I think, we’ll just head for the shoulders.  I have to make sure that the dog is on the shoulder which pushes me even further to the right and … down!  I had stepped on the drift over the drainage ditch.

The truck passed us and I remember looking up and the dog looking down at me as if he was asking “What are you doing down there?”

How to avoid this in the future?  There are very few options short of not walking down the road!  Then, I remembered this commercial from the Ontario Government years ago.  This would have fixed that truck driver.

I had to smile as I rewatched it.  Would you see anything from the government like this these days?  Guns aimed at the public?

First of all, I’d never seen it in colour; we would have had a black and white television back then!

Secondly, who would have kept a copy of this commercial after all these years and uploaded it to YouTube?

Thirdly, we’ve come a long way in video production since then.

Fourthly, it’s a pretty straight to the point commercial.

Fifthly, it’s interesting the source – I think in terms of Ministries these days instead of Departments when I think of government agencies.

For a Sunday:

  • Do you have any interesting snow plow stories to share?
  • Shouldn’t dog walkers, cars, trucks, and snow plows all have equal and safe access to roads?
  • Do we really need the government creating such graphic commercials to educate a public that doesn’t use common sense?
  • Related to that, I’m sure that you have seen the latest Government of Canada video about “Don’t Drive High”.  It’s a much more modern approach incorporating social media but is even more graphic about the consequences.  It’s part of an initiative that you can visit here.  I’ve got to believe that it’s part of an education program that we’re going to see step up as we head towards the legalization of marijuana later this year.
  • When did the Ontario government move from Departments to Ministries?

I’d love to read your responses to this.  Please take a moment and share in the comments below.

This is part of a regular Sunday post called “Whatever happened to …”  With the new theme I’ve applied to the blog you have to click the Menu above to have it fly out or follow this link.

Do you have an idea for a future post?  Please share it in this Padlet.

Latency is the answer?

I think we all know that computers get slower over time.  It could be dust or aging parts.  There’s also the operating system issue.  If your computer gets really slow, the best solution is to reinstall the operating system and starting fresh.

At least until the next time.

Around here, I’ve had some observations.

I have one computer – a Sony VAIO that dual boots Windows 10 and Linux Mint.  Windows 10 recently became totally unusable and I took the hammer out and did a fresh restore to it.  It did come back and is now usable again although it does have its moments in latency when it’s noticeably slow between the time a key is pressed and the character shows up on the screen.

This computer also boots into Linux Mint which is considerably quicker.  I have installed two user interfaces on it – Cinnamon and Mate.  The general word on the web is that Cinnamon is newer and fuller featured.  It can also be slower to respond than Mate.  Consequently, I tend to use Mate more often.

I have another computer – a Chromebook that runs Google Chrome (obviously) and also Android.  On the Android side of things, I use the Opera and Firefox browser and both of them seem to be a bit faster than the Chrome side.

All of this leads to a ramble about choosing the right tool for the right device to do the right job.  I always attributed the differences to operating system – for example, under Windows, I run a virus checker and you know that it’s doing its thing in the background and so does consume resources.  When you look at resources used, it’s not uncommon to see multiple things with sometimes strange names doing things that take resources.

When things get too bad, I upgrade.

It’s just the way that I do things.  Then, I read this article.

Computer latency: 1977-2017

It starts …

I’ve had this nagging feeling that the computers I use today feel slower than the computers I used as a kid. As a rule, I don’t trust this kind of feeling because human perception has been shown to be unreliable in empirical studies, so I carried around a high-speed camera and measured the response latency of devices I’ve run into in the past few months. Here are the results:

It’s an interesting read and offers an interesting theory…

And then there’s this –

Design flaw found in Intel chips; fix causes them to slow: report

What’s a user to do?  How do you handle a computer that gets slow?


Who said that? – Answers

I hope that you enjoyed poking around looking for yourself in the comments from yesterday’s post.  It was a nice opportunity for me to revisit some of my old posts and some of the great comments that came to them.

As I promised, here are the answers.

Very fun! TY for the share!
– Ramona Meharg – Your own coat of arms

Didn’t know Storify was going to stop. Storify 2 doesn’t make all that much sense and I won’t be paying for it. I don’t have a good idea how I will capture conversations in the future. Recently, Storify has been a really great way to capture conversations on #ontedassessment. I don’t see how Participate will work as well and Participate still seems to have a 140 character limit, so 2016!
– Paul McGuire – Going, Going

I also used my own money to by bread and peanut butter for snack sandwiches. My idea of when the peanut jar was empty changes a lot once the cost was on me. Imagine that.
– Alfred Thompson – Whatever happpened to … $0.99 Ponderosa steaks?

I’ve written a few times about the alumni community we’ve built and how it’s such an important part of a teacher’s career (at least mine).
– Mike Zemansky – Whatever happened to … those lifelong friends?

What goalie was attributed with being the first one to use a mask in an NHL game? – Jacques Plante. Everyone knows that one.
– Stephen Downes – Whatever happened to … straight bladed hockey sticks?

So if this was a kid in elementary school it would be ‘yes you can still go on the big year end field trip but we’ll suspend you for five days in September.’
– Lisa Cranston – Two Standards

Thank you for sharing Dylan’s story ~ and thank you to Lisa for suggesting it as well! It was such a cool experience for Dylan, and the entire class benefitted from learning together. I’m starting to wonder if there is such a thing as a potter’s swagger (lol), since he’s starting to make a name for himself — how amazing is that!
– Colleen Rose – This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Agh. I’m asleep on the job. Now scrambling to figure out what I can quickly make today to celebrate pi day. Last year, we had mini quiches for breakfast, tarts for dessert, and a meat pie for supper.
– Lisa Noble – March 14

For years in edtech we have been nibbling at the edges, with a number of different tools, for what explain everything puts in each students’ hands. It’s not necessarily revolutionary as much as it is the culmination of the revolution in which students are able to differentiate how they respond, and teachers are able to capture much more easily, the responses (in differentiated ways) of all of their students. It doesn’t look knew because you’ve been able to do things like this for a while. You’ve just never been able to do them this easily.
– Jarred Bennett – 100 year old inspiration

Thanks for this, Doug. I’ve been trying to brush on my math skills so I’ll check it out.
– Peter Beens – Having fun with mathematics

That student coming back to see me paralleled my own experiences so closely that it rocked me. Nothing has changed in the thirty years since I was in high school. Kids are still being punished by teachers in subjects they love because they don’t do it like they should (ie: how the teacher does it). You have to wonder how non-neuro-typical students do in this enforced compliance thinking culture. Many in education don’t value passion and uniqueness of approach, they value conformity of thinking.
– Tim King – This Week in Ontario Edublogs

We are quite fortunate that significant latitude is allowed in the selection of learning materials in our schools. I have always appreciated seeing the red-and-white Maple Leaf sticker on books that is added by libraries (public and school) to highlight Canadian-authored materials. Just yesterday I borrowed a book from our school library for use in a Social Studies lesson and noted with satisfaction that it had the sticker. While the machinations of bodies like the CRTC don’t generate a lot of headlines in the larger scope of things, it is comforting to know that the importance of Canadian culture is valued, and that our options and choices remain informed.
– Andy Forgrave – Perspective(s)

We held a contest to come up with a new name and asked the community and alumni what they thought of the whole idea. We ended up leaning towards ‘Wolverines,’ but three problems emerged: alumni were upset at the idea of change; the student’s artwork for the wolverine, which teachers and many kids loved, was clearly plagiarized from other institutions; and the students who had mispronounced the school and mascot’s name initially were sad to realize that the same could happen with any new mascot.
– David Garlick – Whatever happened to … that school mascot?

I would say I am a big offender with Kleenex and bandaid. Interestingly, the spellchecker capitalized Kleenex for me but not Band-Aid 🙂 . I used to work as a reporter for a newspaper in our area and once received a lawyer’s letter due to using the word rollerblade with a lowercase as a generic term for in-line skates!
– Anne Shillolo – Genericide

Hi Doug. Enjoyed this post as many of us are weighing in on what it means to be a “connected” educator and the benefits of Twitter use both and the impacts it has on our teaching practices. I tend to agree with your last sentence. Social media has become a very easy platform for anyone and everyone to have a voice. I still believe that in fairness to all parties involved, any conflicts/ disagreements are best had face to face.
– Peter Cameron – Yeah, it can happen

Thanks for including mine. I was thinking of a response – it boiled down to my students racing to solve the clues without pausing and evaluating the meaning of the clues and how they fit together. It will help me re-adjust my planning and presentation. Thanks!
– Eva Thompson – This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Certainly we ‘own’ our learning when we are connecting with other educators far and wide.
Donna Fry – The “P” in PLN

What a wonderful tribute to a great person who I’ve come to know this past year through RCAC, twitter and Ignite Parents.
– Heather Durnin – @pmcash’s Bucket List – Taking the Bait

This is soooo timely! We were in a team meeting the other day and discussing having students create a product for design challenge. I suggested they do a toy for Xmas and referenced how excited I used to get when we got the Christmas Wish Book. We would mark all the pages and circle what we wanted before writing our letter to Santa. It is a huge part of my childhood!
– Anne Marie Luce – Whatever happened to … Christmas catalogues

Interesting stuff there in Moore’s Law!
– Sheila Stewart – This Week in Ontario Edublogs

and the irony that I had just recently left just north of Goderich

Makes me sad that Di zapped her flickr photos. I don’t hear from her much, the word is she’s active in Facebook. Say hi to her.
– Alan Levine – Copyright thinking

This takes me to a summer in the late 90s when I had the privilege of teaching an OAC English summer course in Oxford. A couple of us tried, whenever possible, to attend the college garden performances of Shakespeare plays.
– Noeline Laccetti – Free reading

We don’t start classes until Monday … but in the background we have a new Director of Teaching Innovation who comes from our Music Department, bringing a new perspective and really different voice to our academic leadership.
And, in my role, we get “new” every month, week & day as updates continually roll out and we have to change a little bit. OneNote has new special-ed capabilities, Excel now co-authors, Desmos is now programmable, etc
– Cal Armstrong – So, what’s new?

I wish I had the time to see the kids after school but with my own it’s hard. I also don’t live in the same city so that makes it harder. I also loved how you snuck in a 6th one about your kid.
– Jonathan So – Defining Teaching Moments #5bestEd

I like receiving cards. (So much so that I don’t throw them away afterwards!) My favourites are the ones with photos of the people. I like seeing how children grow and families change.
– Diana Maliszewski – Whatever happened to … Christmas Cards?

How did you do?  Hopefully, you at least found yourself in the list.

Perhaps you’re inspired to link back to the original post to see what it was all about?

And the spam one?

Grade A stuff. I’m untnusqioeably in your debt.
– Darence – on one of the OTR links