OTR Links 04/23/2015


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Extend Your Left Hand


When I was a Boy Scout, we learned to shake hands.  We were taught that you shake with your left hand and that the reason goes back to trust … you have to put down your shield in order to do this and you’re demonstrating trust in the person you’re shaking hands with.  (Sorry lefties…)  This article offers other suggested reasons why but I’m sticking with my original learning.

I was never taught to shake hands with my right hand.  It was at graduation that I was handed my diploma in my left hand that I actually had to shake with my right.  I don’t know how I felt; my only memory was of the entire audience looking at me in my moment of success.  The only other persistent handshaking memory I have was of my tour of my first school and how I really squeezed this transportation teacher’s hand hard.  He still remembers that and brings it up even these days when our paths cross.

All of these memories came flooding back when I read this article from the New York Times “Hey, Kids, Look at Me When We’re Talking”.  It was in the Fashion / Style section which still puzzles me.  Anyway, to start the article, the author indicates that “If you’re going to bring your children around me, I’m going to teach them how to shake hands”.  The rest of the article is devoted to a reflection about today’s youth, non-verbal communications, and of course, technology.

You know the argument:  “The world would be perfect if everyone was like me”.  It seems like there is research for everything.  The studies quoted are interesting but I’m not sure that I would want to hang my hat on any of them.

Now, later on in life, I’ve developed the skill to be able to shake hands with either my left or my right.  I’m fully developed in that way although it’s tough to find a Boy Scout to shake hands with my left hand.

I’ve developed other skills too.  My dad taught me how to ride a bike – his bike.  You peddle forward to go forward and you move the pedal backwards to slow down and/or stop.  I got to be pretty good at it.  His teachings only got me so far though.  I had to learn how to ride a ten-speed bike all by myself.  And, there was a great deal of learning.  I don’t want to share how many tries it took before I clued in that you don’t start from a complete stop when you’re in 10th gear.  To be honest, I only use gears 1, 5, and 10.  I just shift through the rest.  They don’t make sense to me although they probably are of use to others.  Who am I to judge?

Therein lies my problem with some of the observations with the article.  Kids aren’t done learning yet.  Sure, they have their phones and tablets and screens and they’re becoming pretty good at using them.  If the concern is that they’re overly focussed on technology, I’d suggest stepping  back and see what’s really happening.  They’re engaged and have more connections and access to more information than we ever did.  They have the potential to learn and do things that we couldn’t even dream of at that age.

If the concern is that they don’t talk to you, start the conversation yourself and engage them.  They may be wise beyond their years.  If you’re concerned that they don’t know how to shake hands, extend your own left hand in friendship.  Chances are, they’ll have their phone in theirs and will put it down to accept your greeting.

Do we really want to replicate a society of us?  I would hope that we’re expecting better.

OTR Links 04/22/2015


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

It’s Raining in Durham


It was during a long drive home yesterday that we drove through Durham Region.  It was a nice bright sunny day but that will change today as Durham secondary school teachers withdraw their services as a next step in trying to get a collective agreement.

When I got home, I decided to go online and see if there had been a resolution during the afternoon.  I didn’t know what the regional newspaper was so I elected to read the Toronto newspapers online.  The Globe and Mail didn’t have anything that provided information; The Star had the summaries from the Teachers’ Federation and the Durham DSB; the Sun had much the same.

The bottom line was that there was no resolution to report.

Sadly, though, the Sun allows anyone with a keyboard to express their opinions, mostly anonymously and it was venomous.

The Sun uses Disqus as a commenting system and I don’t normally even see it.  My privacy utility has it blocked but I had a few moments before the Canadiens’ game so I unblocked and started reading – and getting angry.

There’s just so much misinformation and ill spirit coming through in the comments.

I was informed that:

  • teachers single-handedly elected the current Liberal government;
  • the conservatives would have made teaching an essential service;
  • teachers are socialists, Marxists, communists;
  • federation leaders are thugs;
  • teachers are lazy;
  • teachers are glorified baby sitters, over-paid, and underworked;
  • Mike Harris fixed education;
  • and on and on and on and on.

I’m sure that it will continue all day today too.  At least, nobody posted this video:

The facts never seem to get in the road of a good ranting and raging.  It’s really sad that, if people feel this strongly, that they can’t use their real names and engage in serious dialogue.  I guess it’s this sort of thing that drives people to the website.  We’ve become such a society of bitchers about things.  By the way, the irony that I’m writing this post on the topic is not lost on me.

The news reporting of the situation doesn’t really do it justice.  If you read the article out of the cold, you’d think that the teachers decided last Thursday that they didn’t want to go to work on Monday because the school board wouldn’t give them a raise.

I recognize that not everyone is a fan of education.  But, instead of shooting from the hip of ignorance, how about considering the following:

  • do a great deal of digging needs to be done to determine what’s done provincially and what’s done locally;
  • use your real name (and a spell checker);
  • try to make your point and be civil about it;
  • not everyone in the province will be the self-made entrepreneur millionaire that you are;
  • do the math and research on the College of Teachers site – not every teacher has been disciplined by its governing college;
  • pensions have been negotiated in good faith and are not solely funded by the government;
  • and I guess I could go on and on and on and on …

Sadly, this has to play out and it’s raining in Durham as I write this.  How do I know this?   I did my fact checking and found the Durham Region news.  Kudos to the authors.  This is the most complete factual report that I’ve seen.  It would be a good start for everyone interested in knowing what’s really happening and why and who the players are.

I wish a quick and successful resolution to this dispute.  All parties deserve it.

OTR Links 04/21/2015


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Finding My Phone


Boy, did I get in trouble.

My wife and I were on the road and staying in a hotel in Stratford.  As you may know, I’m a real early riser and reader.  So, I’m reading this article “How to use Google to find your lost Android phone“.

I’m here and my phone is over there on the dresser.  Could Google find it?  I wonder.

I head to Google and type “find my phone”.

This is a nice feature.  I don’t want anyone but me finding my phone!

I log in and Google starts looking and finds it.

How about that?  Within 12 metres!  That’s pretty impressive.

It makes sense.  In order for the phone to work, it needs to be connected to the phone network and the network needs to know where it is.  I was so impressed with how close it got.

Then, I made a mistake.

See that little icon that says “Ring” in the bottom left corner?  I should have paid attention to the warning that the service rings the phone at loudest volume for 5 seconds.  I thought that, since I turn the speaker off at night, it might just flash or something.

Yeah.  You can see how this story ends.

OTR Links 04/20/2015


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.