No place like home

An exercise designed to get my students to think about personal essays had the same effect on me. Using an idea from the wonderful Carol Schwalbe, I broke out fresh 24-count boxes of Crayola Crayons, a pad of paper and the instruction to draw the street/house they grew up in. I joined in and realized some basic truths. (Yep, this assignment really works.)

I have a great life and a lovely house, but the word home will always mean a red brick house on Western Avenue. I loved growing up there with my sister and two brothers and my wonderful parents. I miss Chuck and Rita every day, but I feel so blessed to have such good memories of home. Though I doubt my siblings or anyone else would recognize the house from my drawing, (my students say I draw bricks like a second-grader) I know that it’s home.

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Technology 1, Carol 0

I had it out with technology this weekend and technology won. I had hoped to participate in the Blog-a-thon for the Nebraska Humane Society. I was traveling to Kansas City for a family wedding (Congrats, Brandon and Abby — it was a terrific wedding. You both glowed with happiness), but we’re wired and wireless. I’ve got an iPhone, iPad and time to spare.

I had those things, but connectivity didn’t work so well. And really, what did I expect from hotel wifi? And working on the iPad? I need more work.

But now, I’m in the hotel business center. I am going to try to make this work. It’s a simple message, technology or no technology. A donation to the Nebraska Humane Society, big or small, can help. My own little best friend, Sadie, is an NHS alum. Without the organization’s work and care, Sadie might not be here. So thanks to all at the Nebraska Humane Society.
Technology once again is getting in the way of me adding the donation link. Go to Nebraska Humane Society, check out the wonderfully creative and informative blogs that are part of the Blog-a-thon and donate!

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Keeping up the conversation with students

I am an avid Twitter user and espouser, as my students in social media and all my classes can attest. One of my favorite parts of Twitter is the ability it gives you to stay connected to students.

In the past week, I’ve gotten comments on the books I’ve chosen for a fall class, a note from a former editing student who says she now is an grammar and punctuation ninja at work and comments from former students wishing they could be in class jammin’ to Justin Bieber (students chose the songs) when my social media class tried out

Today a former student tweeted that she almost wrote a question lead, but she could see me in her mind’s eye, suggesting other options. (She had me shaking my finger at her, which makes me feel a little old, but it’s probably an accurate mental picture.)

Former students also respond to various calls for advice, help and suggestions for current students. Yes, I do like continuing the conversations. #jmcawesome.

Wordle: Carol Z's wordle

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Here’s how Buster rolls

I want to work on my computer programming class and I can’t quite get the relative URL to work so I’m going to put the photos here to see if I can make it work.

Picture of Buster as puppySo below is a photo of Buster as an old guy and to the right, Buster as a puppy.  Can’t have too many photos of him, right?

Buster as an older dog.

An inspiration and a challenge

I watched President Obama’s speech at the memorial service and I cried. For the parents of Christina. For everyone who was killed. It might have struck home more because of the violence in Omaha. What touched me most deeply is when Obama spoke of how death of a loved one makes us look backward and forward.

Obama said: “So sudden loss causes us to look backward -– but it also forces us to look forward; to reflect on the present and the future, on the manner in which we live our lives and nurture our relationships with those who are still with us.

We may ask ourselves if we’ve shown enough kindness and generosity and compassion to the people in our lives. Perhaps we question whether we’re doing right by our children, or our community, whether our priorities are in order.

We recognize our own mortality, and we are reminded that in the fleeting time we have on this Earth, what matters is not wealth, or status, or power, or fame -– but rather, how well we have loved– and what small part we have played in making the lives of other people better.

I want to be reminded of this every day.


Almost the first day of school

I loved this group. Here's our end-of-semester potluck.

One of the things I love about teaching is the opportunity to start over again each semester. I am always sad to see groups of students go at the end of each semester, but it’s such fun to start over again. The whirling carousel that is media today also keeps me reinventing what I am doing each semester. I’m reworking two classes a lot this semester and tweaking the third. That means that I’m still scrambling to figure some things out. I’ll be ready for class. Let me say that again: I’ll be ready for class, but it’ll likely be close.

I’m taking the blogging challenge

Because I should be more “do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do,” I have decided to take the WordPress PostAWeek challenge. (I was tempted by PostADay, but I realized that’s overreaching and bound to fail.)  I will be asking my Social Media students to blog about once a week throughout the semester — it’s the least I can do to keep up. I also want to develop my brand and my own writing style on the blog. Lofty goals.

I can take my own advice as well. I need to come up with about 10 topics to write on, so that I never can wail to myself: “I don’t know what to write.” With all I scan/read on Twitter, the topics should be endless anyway.

Here’s one of 52. Happy 2011


A full life, lived well

I had a great time at a wake service tonight.

That might sound odd, but I did. We were celebrating the life of Bette L. McMahon, wife of Gene, mother of six, grandmother and great-grandmother. A South Omaha girl.

We prayed, we laughed, we cried. Her son, Tom McMahon, gave a wonderful eulogy with stories and details and jokes that painted a lovely and loving picture of his mother.

A slide show that followed captured the young Bette and Gene — South High’s cutest couple — and family through the years.

Bette, you will be missed. But oh, what a legacy you have left behind.


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Sometimes you do things right and it still doesn’t work

I am not the handiest of people. I come from a long line of those who would rather ignore home repair or don’t hesitate to call someone to fix it or paint it. I admire those who tackle the projects themselves. Despite those genetic traits, I had thought I was OK at painting. Slowly, I’ve removed wallpaper and painted many of the rooms in my house.

But I always liked the wall paper in my downstairs bathroom. It was a little over the top for me, but it looked good.

I decided to paint that bathroom ceiling to get rid of some old water spots. I blithely taped the wall, spackled, sanded, washed down, primed and painted with good paint. I was feeling pretty good — though wondering how Michelangelo ever painted the Sistine Chapel.

Time to take down my carefully applied blue tape. Yikes. My wallpaper. The only wallpaper I liked in my house is coming with it. So instead of a nice white ceiling and nice wallpaper, there’s a white ceiling and some torn off pieces of wallpaper all around the ceiling line.

I’m mad at myself for not thinking that might happen. though most of the time, the wallpaper in my house has taken industrial-strength scraping to get it off.

This makes me think of writing in that sometimes you write, you follow the rules and the model, and yet your piece still doesn’t work. You can’t be too careful or too meticulous. Sometimes, I’m neither. It’s what I need to work on in many areas of my life. I’ll start with cleaning up all of the painting gear and go from there.

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