A prisoner of the white lines on the freeway

We just heard a 1994 NPR World Cafe replay interview with Joni Mitchell in which the album Hijera was discussed, and a part of the song “Coyote” was played.  Back as a teen, I remember wearng thick black and white headphones plugged into a damaged receiver amp from Goodwill and a BSR turntalbe playing the album, and ths song.  I enjoyed the bass.

The song wasn’t a bad capture of the general feel of growing up on country roads in Willamette Valley in the lat 1970s– especially on warm summer evenings with late sunsets and bonfires on gravel roads and teenagers learning to talk and interact without adults around.  That was fun, but beneath and behind it was the drving– American Graffiti-style car culture infused life , with the quarter mile spray painted on a perfectly straight country road and a rush of  pavement and a the yellow center stripes blurring into one.

Maybe that was the conflict of it– a good life, a good atmosphere on those warm summer nights, but a cranky sense that there must be something more– something better down the road.  The bonfire was beautiful, but it said something was over.  Time to leave.  The moment was sparks fading into stars.  The white lines on the freeway were real.

So we end up far away.  Today we explored some high reaches of the Portsmouth harbor estuary by boat, returning after dark with faulty nav lights on the bow, and had dinner in a gently rocking cabin with wind whistling in the rigging.  1994 Joni Mitchell streamed on the iPhone via NPR, talking about a song from 1976, and I felt both home in Oregon and million years away, in a more interesting and more complicated place.

Help Desk

Just a short note– we’ve pulled the trigger on some licenses for Web Help Desk  and we have it running on a Linux server right now. After a fair bit of testing, we’re planning to start using it in “stealth mode.” Basically, it will automatially pull all of our helpdesk emails and convert them to tickets for our support staff.

If that works, we might extend the same system to Maintenance and Media. If that works, we’ll start the auto-ping backs of emails for submitted tickets (with tracking numbers, log ins, updates, etc.). We will also turn on ping backs for when jobs are completed.

So far, so good. The software has a good rep from other schools.

Lacking Confidence, We See No Others

Strange title, I agree.  However, I’m being to believe that the very foundation of a strong family, a strong community or a strong school is confidence in ourselves.

As a almost-to-be father, I picked up a parenting book in a Borders (in shopping center in Maryland), and read a few pages.  In very blunt terms, the book said that all children crave one thing in their parents.  It wasn’t leadership, or knowledge, or demonstrations of success– it was simply unflappable-ness (if that is a word).  The example they gave was the horrific TV show The Brady Bunch.  Despite my mental images of Jan cat fighing with Marsha, the book noted that the Brady parents were pretty much unflappable.  They didn’t rage.  They didn’t fly off the handle when Jan broke her glasses.  They took things in stride, kept their heads, and modeled how calm, non-alcoholic, mentally-balanced parents should behave.

For a parent to pull this off, I realize, takes some self-confidence.  Dr. Ned Hallowell was visiting and speaking at our school recently, and he had a very simple five steps to enabling kids to have great childhoods, which boiled down to basically one concept– the importance of “connections” at home and at school as being the key indicators of both happiness and future success in life.  One of my favorite recommendations– spend 20 minutes a week with each of your children individually, doing whatever they want and enjoy with you.  That investment is like money in the bank that will pay powerful dividends for decades.

As Dr. Hallowell noted, connections are free, there is no limit, and all of us crave and desire them.  Giving is the way to receive, but there is a catch.  There’s always a catch…  The challenge is that to connect with others, we have to have some confidence in ourselves.  If we have too much self-doubt, it’s hard to really connect or be friends with others.  Doubt leads to negative fears about oneself, and reflective fears of others– typically leading to blaming others or judging them to weak or bad or lazy or unneeded– basically all the things we worry about ourselves.  This was also reflected in Dr. Hallowell’s talk about previous generations of fathers really wanting and driving their sons to be “better than themselves.”  This led to misguided and sometimes harsh words and actions and attitudes, because it was all really a statement about how the fathers felt about themselves.

I believe Dr. Hallowell was correct on many levels.  If we think less of others, it’s time to be honest about how we feel about ourselves, and GET OVER IT.  We’re capable of doing great things, if we just acknowledge that, all the way around.

Some Success!

Okay, so the entire month of September 2011 slipped by without a post here.  It was a busy month, but we’ve also had some successes:

  • After four years of research and tweaking, we now have a fast and rather reliable enterprise wireless network
  • After four years of jams and breakdows, we now have an effective fleet of HP MFP printer/copiers humming away
  • Google Docs is taking off really well in MS and HS– already over 2,000 documents have been created by 600 users
  • A Macbook Air 1:1 pilot program is getting very good reviews
  • Veracross is off to a good second year start
  • Zimbra email is now nicely stable, after a very rough start on version 7.1
  • Even our Windows 7 images are working much better this year

Knocking on wood, I’m taking a moment to feel like we might be making good headway on the infrastructure issues.  More than anything else, I’d like to move back closer to the teaching and learning side of things.  I will admit that the collaboration we see happening with Google Docs is a nice addition to the learning experience here.

Cheers to everyone, and I hope everyone is having a good start of the year!


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