Whatever happened to …

… Q-tips?

This is a little different from the regular Sunday topic but it’s interesting and I was challenged to write about it.

Thanks to Sheila Stewart for the suggestion and the challenge. She passed me this article.

How we got addicted to using Q-tips the wrong way

I felt guilty reading it. As a kid, we always had Q-tips in the medicine cabinet and if there was anything remotely wrong with our ears, Mom would whip out one and use it to clean wax. There were two ends to it so, of course, she’d use the other end for the other ear.

As far as I knew, all my friends had the same procedure done to them.

As a parent, we passed along the tradition. When I had problems, I felt good that I’m married a nurse (see last week’s post) and I’d have her do it. Now, thanks to Sheila and this article, I guess we were all wrong.

I have had my ear cleaned by a doctor a couple of times and it’s not pleasant. It’s brutal, in fact. And, he didn’t use a Q-tip! It was a big syringe filled with warm water and I’d hold this rounded metal container to catch what came out after he shot the water into my ear. A lot of water and, holy cow, a whole lot of wax. I remember thinking that it would have taken a whole box of Q-tips to do that. I couldn’t imagine Q-tipping it out without damaging something in my ear.

Hopefully, by now, you’ve read the article and are as appalled as I am. I was curious and yes we have some in our own medicine cabinet although they’re a no-name brand.

Wow, we poke out eardrums at an early age?

Your thoughts for a Sunday?

  • did your parents use Q-tips to clean your ears?
  • did you maintain the tradition by using them on your own kids?
  • there always was a container of these in my doctor’s office although he never used them on me. What would he have used them for?
  • in the article, there are suggestions for what they should be used for. Do you use them that way?
  • they are excellent tools for cleaning things other than ears – what and how?
  • was the article wrong?
  • do you have any waxy stories to share?

As always, I’d enjoy reading your thoughts about this topic. Please do so in the comments below.

This is a regular Sunday morning feature around here. You can check them all out here.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Welcome to July! I hope that everyone is enjoying the beginning of summer. I hope that you can fit reading these fabulous blog posts into your day.

Leadership Lessons from Baseball

Charles’ post takes me back. Not only a memory of Tony LaRussa coaching but going to a Phillie’s game while in Philadelphia at a conference. I’m in the picture here with another Doug from across town.

Charles gets to LaRussa’s retirement and then being brought back to coach and making the decision to walk someone with a 1-2 count. That does seem a little bizarre!

There are great questions at the end of the post that Stephen and I talked about during the Wednesday radio show.

  • Can you think of a public figure who owned up to a mistake in a timely and totally contrite manner?  
  • Can you think of a leader who moved on to let the next gen leaders come forth? 
  • Can you name someone who made a successful and inspiring comeback after a ten-year gap?

They’re great questions. If you have answers, swing over to Charles’ blog and share them there.

Teachers Make Mistakes: Here’s What To Do When You’ve Made One

Kristy’s post was so appropriate to read after Charles set the stage. Do you want to do something scary? Do the math here. (No, it’s not the math that’s scary, it’s the result!)

Years ago, a mentor teacher explained the reality of teacher imperfections. He pointed out that teachers are in the business of communicating – we say, write, and teach a lot of things every day – and if each of us makes only one mistake per day and we multiply that by the number of days in a school year and then by the number of years we spend in the classroom, that works out to many thousands of mistakes and missteps over a career. 


She discusses the topic in some detail that offers a what-to-do when it happens.

  • Admit Your Mistake
  • Hold Yourself Accountable For Your Actions And Remedy The Situation
  • Make Your Admin Aware of Big Mistakes
  • Everyone Makes Mistakes

On the show, Stephen made reference to an incident where he needed to talk to his admin immediately after he shared something in class. He shared it with me privately afterwards and yeah — the administration would want to know when the parents start calling!

Ode to our Guest Educators

I held off on this post from Sue for the last show of the school year. I hear so much about how teachers are moving on but I never hear about administrators moving on.

There will be teachers becoming vice-principals for the first time; there will be vice-principals moving to the big office. Come September, they will have the opportunity to set a mindset and environment for their school.

There will be regular visitors to classrooms who aren’t the regular teacher. We used to call them Supply Teachers and I don’t recall them being treated all that well when I went to school.

In Sue’s school, they don’t use that expression; instead, they’re known as “Guest Educators” which immediately changes the mindset and Sue uses the post to describe what it means to be a guest educator in her school.

I can’t help but think that this is a mindset that should be expected everywhere. So, if you’re making a move this fall, read and consider what you might do.

What you think you know

Cal’s post will have you thinking.

Certainly, as educators, we are well aware that some students do well in other classes and are challenged in ours or vice versa. When you do the math, there are all kinds of students that you interact with daily and as Cal notes, “you can only know so much”. You’d have to be a permanent shadow to understand everything about everybody.

That’s just in the classroom.

Take that to the next step and think about the administrators in the school. They’re even further away from understanding everything about everybody.

My first superintendent was really inspired by the writing of Tom Peters and the philosophy of management by walking around. That is a good step but often an administrator needs that formal feedback from staff and students as well.

Cal had an interesting observation that often administrators only hear about the positive things. But, they’re only human. How should they handle criticisms?

And, … if you’re like me, you’re going to want to look up umwelt.

Create Safe Spaces

I loved the insights from this post from Nilmini. Of paramount importance is the concept of stories. She sees the classroom as being a safe place for students to have a conversation and be comfortable in doing so.

She addresses areas where stories can be used.

  • History
    • This got me thinking; I still know so much about my childhood community and I can tell you stories about it!
  • Reflection
    • For me, the big advantage of blogging is to reflect on something that’s of importance to me. If it’s helpful for you, then great
  • Journalling
    • We were told to keep a journal when I was in school and it should come as no surprise to regular blog readers that I did so to the bare minimum. Now, if blogging had been a thing back then…
  • Graphic Organizers
    • This is so important to computer programming where you lay out your logic. These days, I also do that in preparation for the Wednesday show and this blog post

Last Day of Teaching – Ever!

There have been lots and lots of sentiments of this type on social media. As my dad always said “it’s time to call it a day”. Since I’ve found Marie’s blog, I am an avid reader; she’s frequent and so open and I hope that she continues in her retirement.

I’m envious as I always thought that I’d like to teach in the same school that I went to as a student. That wasn’t to be and I had to learn all about a new community over three hours away.

In Marie’s typical style, it’s not a short post but is so rich in details. She tells a great story. As someone who has gone through this, I do admit to having a tear or two on my keyboard reading this. When I left my school, I got a set of bookends; when I left the Program Department, I got a plaque. As luck would have it for this post, I was cleaning my bookshelf and my wife wondered why I kept those up there.

I think, and it rings solidly in Marie’s post, that there’s something extra special about being in education. Yes, it’s like banging your head against the wall; it feels good when it stops. And yet, there’s something about being an educator that never, ever leaves you. I will always treasure those gifts.

That comes across so clearly in this post and you can see and hear her thoughts here.


How did she hold it together?

Looking Back Over the Year

Gary gives us another look at a reflection as the year ends. It’s really been a year like no other. Could this have been the worst of the COVID years?

He identifies

  • start the year by working at home
  • getting a new central position
  • getting shifted to a new role
  • becoming a blogger

This truly is a unique year. I like the fact that Gary indicates that he couldn’t have done it on his own. But, it’s not just about him; he acknowledges that so many others struggled through it as well.

Gary, I agree with your plans of kicking back and really, really recharging. We’ve talked about this so often but never has it been so important as this year.

Please take time to read this and follow these great bloggers on Twitter.

  • Charles Pascal – @CEPascal
  • Kristy – @2peasandadog
  • Sue Bruyns – @sbruyns
  • Cal Armstrong – @sig225
  • Nilmini Ratwatte-Henstridge – @NRatwatte
  • Marie Snyder – @MarieSnyder27

voicEd Radio Show

Kids these days

It’s not uncommon during our dog walks for me to wear my ear bugs and sing along to some of my favourites. I’m so fortunate to have lived in the great era of music and a subset is on my iPod. As I was listening the other day, I realized that there are references in some of the music that today’s kids would have no concept of.

That’s the inspiration behind today’s post. I’ll pull the song from YouTube and you get a chance to determine what it is. Don’t worry; it’s a little obscure, I’ll provide the answers below and with a little work, you can get it.

As always, I’m not egotistical enough to think I’ve got them all so please feel free to add ones that I’ve missed.

Answers provided by the timeline

  • Sylvia’s Mother – 0:35
  • Straight Tequilla Night – 0:19
  • 409 – 0:04 (and repeated so so many times)
  • Blinded by the light – 0:22
  • Penny Lane – 0:55
  • Suds in the bucket – 2:00 and 2:42
  • Big Yellow Taxi – 1:02
  • House of the Risin’ Sun – 3:35
  • The End Of The Innocence – 1:56
  • Old Time Rock n Roll – 0:06


With so much electronic music, would they recognize the unique instruments in these songs?

Whatever happened to …

… white nurse’s uniforms?

Thanks to Alfred Thompson for the idea. If you have an idea of your own for a future post, please reach out with it.

Did you ever do a “what ever happened to” on white nurse’s uniforms with white caps? Seems they all were “scrubs” in different colours and designs these days. More practical I guess.

This post will be a little different as I’ll have an expert read and fact check me before I schedule it later this morning. You’ll have to appreciate the risk I’m taking as this is going to require attention to detail and proof that I’ve been listening. I’ve been doing research in the pool as we deal with the heat just to refresh my memories

Years and years ago, I was in university and my wife was in college/hospital learning to be a nurse. As Alfred notes, nurses were dressed in white back then. I never fully appreciated all that goes into looking professional as a nurse but I sure did then.

The uniform was indeed white. White cap, white dress, white pantyhose, and white shoes. The cap was made of cotton and it was common when visiting her to see it dipped in starch and water and stuck to the fridge door until it dried and then folded properly before being worn. The dress and pantyhose were pretty nurse-like. The shoes looked like a solid military boot. They also had to be cleaned and polished so that they were sparkling white. Until this, I had no idea that you could buy white shoe polish.

Of all this, the shoes seemed to be the ones that were most important. First, working eight-hour shifts and then twelve hours, nurses were constantly on their feet. It wasn’t uncommon to have breaks or meals shortened or lost because of emergencies on the floor. I remember the eight-hour shifts:

  • Day shift – doing patient care for “their side” of the hall and being expected to react quickly when a doctor made rounds – charting
  • Afternoon shift – all of the above plus dealing with the public during visiting hours – charting
  • Midnight shift – all of the above plus extra care when a bell rings so that the patient didn’t wake up the others in the room or all – charting – missing a good next day as you slept during the daylight hours

Except for the charting, all of the work was standing up on a terrazzo floor and walking from patient to patient.

Then, there was the hat. It was mostly white but qualified people had a band on it. Black for Registered Nurses and green for Registered Nursing Assistants. Student nurses had no band! You could tell immediately by the hat who was giving you your care.

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

As Alfred notes, that’s not the way that things are done these days. When you see today’s nurses in action, they typically wear scrubs. Colourful and comfortable is the rule of the day. Before this, only nurses who were in pediatrics would be allowed to wear something other than white.

Those white boots are replaced with running shoes typically. They’re far more comfortable for standing for long times. In education, we often complain about being on our feet but we do get to sit down periodically, have preparation periods to sit at a desk, and a scheduled lunch break. So many teachers today opt for the running shoe anyway for comfort.

I’m told that scrubs are so much better because:

  • you don’t have to iron them
  • they don’t show stains
  • they’re cooler and if you get cold, just throw on a sweater
  • they’re more cheerful looking
  • you don’t have to wear pantyhose

Hats were never a thing in class for teachers and you don’t see nurses wearing them these days either.

For a Sunday, your thoughts…

  • Do you remember a time when nurses were dressed in white?
  • RN and RPN are terms that have been replaced by others as responsibilities have changed. What are they called now?
  • If today’s nurses don’t wear hats and hat bands, how do you know who is caring for you or the person you’re visiting?
  • Have you ever worked the midnight shift? How did you handle things the next day?
  • What’s the best way for your feet to recover after a twelve-hour shift?
  • Jewellery and finger nail polish was strictly forbidden – except for one thing – what was allowed?

BTW, I passed the test. She even laughed while proofreading! Please share your thoughts in the comments below. I know that she’s looking forward to reading your thoughts.

This is a regular Sunday morning article. All of the previous ones are here.


I’ve got to give a big shout-out to Adam Levine for opening this rabbit hole for me this morning. It’s a collection of 3D imagery from the Smithsonian Institute.

There’s nothing like picking up an object and looking at it with various angles. We do that all the time in stores and other places. With this link, you can do the same sort of thing on your computer screen.

At https://3d.si.edu, you have access to a huge collection of things to pick up and spin. I tried a bunch and settled on this screen capture of the space shuttle to include here.

I played with it first on my phone but then switched to a computer with a mouse to get a finer control over what I was doing. It was just amazing. Don’t forget to open the tools menu and play with the settings there for even more exploration.

He’s filed it under a category of Cool Tech which opens yet another worm hole.

This, folks, is why you follow cool people.

You can follow Alan at https://twitter.com/cogdog