Volume 18
A Fun Site created by
Professor William Hillman culled from a daily motivational series
compiled for his BU Education Classes 2000-2009
The daily tech news items have been omitted since many of the stories are now "old news."

An eclectic collection of oddities, humorous anecdotes, weird photos, funny headlines, cartoons, puzzles, inspirational items, jokes, and more. . .  gathered here as a reference repository for speakers, lecturers, teachers, students, writers, or Web travellers just looking for diversion and a bit of levity. 

The FBI has a new way of tracking terrorists.
They are now able to see every click they make on the internet.
Privacy advocates say this is bad, but the FBI says you will never even notice, and it won't affect the common man at all.
Go to: http://users.chartertn.net/tonytemplin/FBI_eyes/

Researchers have found that spammers use harvesting programs such as robots and spiders to record e-mail addresses listed on both personal and corporate websites.

One way of avoiding this mail-harvesting, said the team, is to replace characters in an e-mail address with human-readable equivalents - for example
john@domain.com would become
john at domain dot com.

Another successful evasion technique is to replace the characters in an e-mail address with the HTML equivalent.

None of the project's addresses written in human-readable formats or HTML received a single piece of spam.

Over the course of the six-month study, researchers received over 10,000 e-mail messages to the 250 e-mail addresses they had created. Only about 1,600 of these were legitimate e-mails.

Over 97% of the spam was sent to addresses that had been posted on public websites.

The number of messages received was linked to the popularity of the website. Organisations linked to major portals such as AOL and Yahoo received a lot more spam than those without links.

AOL is currently waging its own war on spammers, recently launching over a dozen lawsuits against individuals and companies it claims is sending unsolicited mail to its members.

Opting out 

The research also looked at whether websites respected consumer attempts to opt out of receiving commercial e-mail.

In all cases where researchers asked not to receive commercial e-mails, their wishes were respected.

Opting out of e-mail communications further down the line also resulted in the majority of websites complying with the request.

The study found that most web companies did not share or sell e-mail  addresses to third parties.

Just 25 spam messages were received as a result of inappropriate sharing or selling of e-mail addresses, and most of these were from gambling and adult-content related websites.

Scatter gun approach 

 At one point during the study, the system began receiving spam messages to addresses that had never been used for any purpose or submitted to anyone.

Such brute force attacks, in which spammers attempt to send e-mails to every possible combination of letters that could form an e-mail address, are relatively common.

The system received over 8,000 brute force e-mails before a block was installed.

These messages were not included in the final data.

An Elite Athlete By Tom Demerly

It is dark and Mike Smith's clothing is wet. Mike Smith is an athlete, an elite athlete in fact. He is a triathlete, has done Ironman several times, a couple adventure races and even run the Marathon Des Sables in Morocco- a 152 mile running race through the Sahara done in stages. Mike has some college, is gifted in foreign languages, reads a lot and has an amazing memory for details. He enjoys travel. He is a quiet guy but a very good athlete. Mike's friends say he has a natural toughness.   He can't spend as much time training for triathlons as he'd like to because his job keeps him busy.  Especially now. This is Mike's busy season. But he stillseems very fit. Even without much training Mike has managed some impressive performances in endurance events.

It's a big night for Mike. He's at work tonight. As I mentioned his clothing is wet, partially from dew, partially from perspiration. He and his four coworkers, Dan, Larry, Pete and Maurice are working on a rooftop at the corner of Jamia St. and Khulafa St. across from Omar Bin Yasir. Mike is looking through the viewfinder of a British made Pilkington LF25 laser designator. The crosshairs are centered on a ventilation shaft.  The shaft is on the roof of The Republican Guard Palace in downtown Baghdad across the Tigris River.

Saddam Hussein is inside, seven floors below, three floors below ground level, attending a crisis meeting. Mike's coworker Pete (also an Ironman finisher, Lake Placid, 2000) keys some information into a small laptop computer and hits "burst transmit." The DMDG (Digital Message Device Group) uplinks data to another of Mike's coworkers (this time a man he's never met, but they both work for their Uncle, "Sam") and a fellow athlete, at 21'500 feet above Iraq 15 miles from downtown Baghdad. This man's office is the cockpit of an F-117 stealth fighter. When Mike and Pete's signal is received the man in the airplane leaves his orbit outside Baghdad, turns left, and heads downtown.

Mike has 40 seconds to complete his work for tonight, and then he can go for a run. Mike squeezes the trigger of his LF25 and a dot appears on the ventilator shaft five city blocks and across the river away from him and his coworkers. Mike speaks softly into his microphone; "Target illuminated. Danger close. Danger Close. Danger close. Over."

Seconds later two GBU-24B two thousand pound laser guided, hardened case, delayed fuse "bunker buster" bombs fall free from the F-117. The bombs enter "the funnel" and begin finding their way to the tiny dot projected by Mike's LF25. They glide approximately three miles across the ground and fall four miles on the way to the spot marked by Mike and his friends.

When they reach the ventilator shaft marked by Mike and his friends the two bunker busters enter the roof in a puff of dust and debris. They plow through the first four floors of the building like a two-ton steel telephone pole traveling over 400 m.p.h., tossing desks, ceiling tiles, computers and chairs out the shattering windows. Then they hit the six-foot thick reinforced concrete roof of the bunker. They burrow four more feet and detonate.

The shock wave is transparent but reverberates through the ground to the river where a Doppler wave appears on the surface of the Tigris. When the seismic shock reaches the building Mike is on he levitates an inch off the roof from the concussion.

Then the sound hits. The two explosions are like a  simultaneous crack of thunder as the building's walls seem to swell momentarily, then burst apart on an expanding fireball that slowly, eerily, boils above Baghdad casting rotating shadows as the fire climbs into the night. Debris begins to rain; structural steel, chunks of concrete, shards of glass, flaming fabrics and papers.

On the tail of the two laser guided bombs a procession of BGM-109G/TLAM Block IV Enhanced Tomahawks begin their terminal plunge. The laser-guided bombs performed the incision, the GPS and computer guided TLAM Tomahawks complete the operation. In rapid-fire succession the missiles find their mark and riddle the Palace with massive explosions, finishing the job. The earth heaves in a final death convulsion.

Mike's job is done for tonight. Now all he has to do is get home. Mike and his friends drive an old Mercedes through the streets of Baghdad as the sirens start. They take Jamia to Al Kut, cross Al Kut and go right (South) on the Expressway out of town. An unsuspecting remote CNN camera mounted on the balcony of the Al Rashid Hotel picks up their vehicle headed out of town. Viewers at home wonder what a car is doing on the street during the beginning of a war. They don't know it is packed with five members of the U.S. Army's SFOD-D, Special Forces Operational Detachment - Delta. Six miles out of town they park their Mercedes on the shoulder, pull their gear out of the trunk and begin to run into the desert night. The moon is nearly full. Instinctively they fan out, on line, in a "lazy 'W' ." They run five miles at a brisk pace, good training for this evening, especially with 27 lb. packs on their back. Behind them there is fire on the horizon. Mike and his fellow athletes have a meeting to catch, and they can't be late.

Twenty-seven miles out a huge gray 92 foot long insect hurtles 40 feet above the desert at 140 mph The MH-53J Pave Low III is piloted by another athlete, also a triathlete, named Jim, from Fort Campbell, Kentucky. He is flying to meet Mike.

After running five miles into the desert Mike uses his GPS to confirm his position. He is in the right place at the right time. He removes an infrared strobe light from his pack and pushes the red button on the bottom of it. It blinks invisibly in the dark. He and his friends form a wide 360 degree circle while waiting for their ride home.

Two miles out Jim in the Pave Low sees Mike's strobe through his night vision goggles. He gently moves the control stick and pulls back on the collective to line up on Mike's infrared strobe. Mike's ride home is here. The big Pave Low helicopter flares for landing over the desert and quickly touches down in a swirling tempest of dust. Mike and his friends run up the ramp after their identity is confirmed. Mike counts them up the ramp of the helicopter over the scream of the engines. When he shows the crew chief five fingers the helicopter lifts off and the ramp comes up. The dark gray Pave Low spins in its own length and picks up speed going back the way it came, changing course slightly to avoid detection.

The men and women in our armed forces, especially Special Operations, are often well trained, gifted athletes. All of them, including Mike, would rather be sleeping the night away in anticipation of a long training ride rather than laying on a damp roof in an unfriendly neighborhood guiding bombs to their mark or doing other things we'll never hear about.

Regardless of your opinions about the war, the sacrifices these people are making and the risks they are taking are extraordinary. They believe they are making them on our behalf. Their skills, daring and accomplishments almost always go unspoken. They are truly Elite Athletes.


My mother used to ask me what is the most important part of the body. Through the years I would take a guess at what I thought was the correct answer.

When I was younger, I thought sound was very important to us as humans, so I said, my ears, Mommy. She said, No. Many people are deaf. But you keep thinking about it and I will ask you again soon. Several years passed before she asked me again.

Since making my first attempt, I had contemplated the correct answer. So this time I told her, "Mommy, sight is very important to everybody, so it must be our eyes." She looked at me and told me, "You are learning fast, but the answer is not correct because there are many people who are blind." Stumped again, I continued my quest for knowledge and over the years, Mother asked me a couple more times and always her answer was, "No. But you are getting smarter every year, my child."

Then last year, my grandpa died. Everybody was hurt. Everybody was crying. Even my father cried. I remember that especially because it was only the second time I saw him cry. My Mom looked at me when it was our turn to say our final goodbye to Grandpa. She asked me, "Do you know the most important body part yet, my dear?" I was shocked when she asked me this now. I always thought this was a game between her and me. She saw the confusion on my face and told me, "This question is very important. It shows that you have really lived in our life.

For every body part you gave me in the past, I have told you were wrong and I have given you an example why. But today is the day you need to learn this important lesson." She looked down at me as only a mother can. I saw her eyes well up with tears. She said, "My dear, the most important body part is your shoulder." I asked, "Is it because it holds up my head?" She replied, "No, it is because it can hold the head of a friend or a loved one when they cry. Everybody needs a shoulder to cry on sometime in life, my dear. I only hope that you have enough love in your heart and friends that you will always have a shoulder for others to cry on, and one for you when you need it." Then and there I knew the most important body part is not a selfish one. It is sympathetic to the pain of others. People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will NEVER forget how you made them feel. The origination of this letter is unknown, but it brings a blessing to everyone who passes it on. Good friends are like stars ... You don't always see them, but you always know they are there.

~ Amar

The Marquis of Queensberry Rules

John Graham Chambers, a member of the Amateur Athletic Club (AAC), wrote these rules in 1865, but they weren't published until 1867, with the patronage of John Sholto Douglas, the eighth Marquis of Queensberry. Chambers intended the rules for amateur boxing matches, such as those conducted by the AAC. They weren't used until 1872, at a London tournament that was truly amateur: no prizes were awarded, and no betting was allowed. Prize fighting - that is, professional boxing for prize money - was generally forbidden in England, but the authorities allowed bouts under the new rules. As a result, they gradually began to replace the old London Prize Ring Rules, even in professional matches.

1. To be a fair stand-up boxing match, in a twenty-four foot ring, or as near that size as practicable.
2. No wrestling or hugging allowed.
3. The rounds to be of three minutes' duration, and one minute's time between rounds.
4. If either man fall through weakness or otherwise, he must get up unassisted, ten seconds to be allowed him to do so, the other man meanwhile to return to his corner, and when the fallen man is on his legs the round is to be resumed, and continued until the three minutes have expired. If one man fails to come to scratch in the ten seconds allowed, it shall be in the power of the referee to give his award in favor of the other man.
5. A man hanging on the ropes in a helpless state, with his toes off the ground, shall be considered down.
6. No seconds or any other person to be allowed in the ring during the rounds.
7. Should the contest be stopped by any unavoidable interference, the referee to name the time and place as soon as possible for finishing the contest; so that the match must be won and lost, unless the backers of both men agree to draw the stakes.
8. The gloves to be fair-sized boxing gloves of the best quality, and new.
9. Should a glove burst, or come off, it must be replaced to the referee's satisfaction.
10. A man on one knee is considered down, and if struck is entitled to the stakes.
11. No shoes or boots with springs allowed.
12. The contest in all other respects to be governed by the revised rules of the London Prize Ring

All I Need To Know About Life I Learned From A Cow

Wake up in a happy mooo-d.
Don't cry over spilled milk.
When chewing your cud, remember. . . There is no fat, no calories, no cholesterol and no taste!
The grass is greener on the other side of the fence.
Turn the udder cheek and mooo-ve on.
Seize every opportunity and milk it for all it's worth!
It's better to be seen and not herd.
Honor thy fodder and thy mother and all your udder relatives.
Never take any bull from anybody.
Always let them know who's bossy!
Stepping on cow pies brings good luck.
Black and white is always an appropriate fashion statement.
Don't forget to cow-nt your blessings every day.

Why We've Gone to Optical Mouses
Actual memo that went out to a computer company's field engineers
about a computer peripheral problem
Re: Replacement of Mouse Balls.
If a mouse fails to operate or should it perform erratically, it may need a ball replacement. Mouse balls are now available as FRU (Field Replacement Units). Because of the delicate nature of this procedure, replacement of mouse balls should only be attempted by properly trained personnel. Before proceeding, determine the type of mouse balls by examining the underside of the mouse. Domestic balls will be larger and harder than foreign balls. Ball removal procedures differ depending upon the manufacturer of the mouse. Foreign balls can be replaced using the pop off method. Domestic balls are replaced by using the twist off method. Mouse balls are not usually static sensitive. However, excessive handling can result in sudden discharge. Upon completion of ball replacement, the mouse may be used immediately. It is recommended that each person have a pair of spare balls for maintaining  optimum customer satisfaction. Any customer missing his balls should contact the local personnel in charge of removing and replacing these necessary items. Please keep in mind that a customer without properly working balls is an

The World Health Organization Is on First

Among the coalition's list of most wanted Iraqi officials are man named Izzat Ibrahim (he's the king of clubs) and a guy named Mizban (nine of hearts). This led reader John Piro to imagine Abbott and Costello at a Syrian border checkpoint:

Abbott: Now be on the lookout, Costello. We wanna find these terrorists.

Costello: Sure, what's their names?

Abbott: Izzat Ibrahim.

Costello: How do I know? I ain't seen him.

Abbott: I know. That's why we gotta find him. He and Mizban.

Costello: He musta been what, Abbott?

Abbott: No, not Hee Muzbin Wot. Izzat Ibrahim!

Costello: I told yuh, I ain't seen him! Is he Hussein's guy?

Abbott: No, he's Syria's.

Costello: I'm serious too. That's why I wanna find him.

Abbott: No, you don't understand, Costello. Syria's terrorist.

Costello: I know he's a serious terrorist. They're the worst kind.

Abbott: Now, if you find him, call the U.N. and get Kofi.

Costello: I got some right here. With cream and sugar.

Abbott: No, tell Kofi to get Yassir.

Costello: Yassir?

Abbott: Good. Now get going.

Costello: Hey Abbott!

Things to Do in an Elevator

1) When there's only one other person in the elevator, tap him on the shoulder and then pretend it wasn't you.
2) Push the buttons and pretend they give you a shock. Smile, and go back for more.
3) Ask if you can push the button for other people, but push the wrong ones.
4) Call the Psychic Hotline from your cell phone and ask if they know what floor you're on.
5) Hold the doors open and say you're waiting for a friend. After a while, let the doors close, and say, "Hi Greg. How's your day been?"
6) Drop a pen and wait until someone goes to pick it up, then scream, "That's mine!"
7) Bring a camera and take pictures of everyone in the elevator.
8) Move your desk into the elevator and whenever anyone gets on, ask if he has an appointment.
 9) Lay down the Twister mat and ask people if they would like to play.
10) Leave a box in the corner, and when someone gets on, ask him if he can hear ticking.
11) Pretend you are a flight attendant and review emergency procedures and exits with the passengers.
12) Ask, "Did you feel that?"
13) Stand really close to someone, sniffing him occasionally.
14) When the doors close, announce to the others, "It's okay, don't panic, they open again!"
15) Swat at flies that don't exist.
16) Tell people that you can see their aura.
17) Grimace painfully while smacking your forehead and muttering, "Shut up, all of you, just shut up!"
18) Crack open your briefcase or purse, and while peering inside, ask, "Got enough air in there?"
19) Stand silently and motionless in the corner, facing the wall, without getting off.
20) Stare at another passenger for awhile, then announce in horror, "You're one of THEM!" and back away slowly.
21) Wear a puppet on your hand and use it to talk to the other passengers.
22) Listen to the elevator walls with your stethoscope.
23) Make explosion noises when anyone presses a button.
24) Stare, grinning at another passenger for a while, and then announce, "I have new socks on."
25) Draw a little square on the floor with chalk and announce to the other passengers, "This is MY personal space!"

The Dead Parrot Sketch
Monty Python
The Pet Shoppe
A customer enters a pet shop.
Customer: 'Ello, I wish to register a complaint.
(The owner does not respond.)
C: 'Ello, Miss?
Owner: What do you mean "miss"?
C: I'm sorry, I have a cold. I wish to make a complaint!
O: We're closin' for lunch.
C: Never mind that, my lad. I wish to complain about this parrot what I purchased not half an hour ago from this very boutique.
O: Oh yes, the, uh, the Norwegian Blue...What's,uh...What's wrong with it?
C: I'll tell you what's wrong with it, my lad. 'E's dead, that's what's wrong with it!
O: No, no, 'e's uh,...he's resting.
C: Look, matey, I know a dead parrot when I see one, and I'm looking at one right now.
O: No no he's not dead, he's, he's restin'! Remarkable bird, the Norwegian Blue, idn'it, ay? Beautiful plumage!
C: The plumage don't enter into it. It's stone dead.
O: Nononono, no, no! 'E's resting!
C: All right then, if he's restin', I'll wake him up!
(shouting at the cage)
'Ello, Mister Polly Parrot! I've got a lovely fresh cuttle fish for you if you show...(owner hits the cage)
O: There, he moved!
C: No, he didn't, that was you hitting the cage!
O: I never!!
C: Yes, you did!
O: I never, never did anything...
C: (yelling and hitting the cage repeatedly) 'ELLO POLLY!!!!!
Testing! Testing! Testing! Testing! This is your nine o'clock alarm call!
(Takes parrot out of the cage and thumps its head on the counter. Throws it up in the air and watches it plummet to the floor.)
C: Now that's what I call a dead parrot.
O: No, no.....No, 'e's stunned!
O: Yeah! You stunned him, just as he was wakin' up! Norwegian Blues stun easily, major.
C: Um...now look...now look, mate, I've definitely 'ad enough of this. That parrot is definitely deceased, and when I purchased it not 'alf an hour ago, you assured me that its total lack of movement was due to it bein' tired and shagged out following a prolonged squawk.
O: Well, he's...he's, ah...probably pining for the fjords.
C: PININ' for the FJORDS?!?!?!? What kind of talk is that?, look, why did he fall flat on his back the moment I got 'im home?
O: The Norwegian Blue prefers kippin' on it's back! Remarkable bird, id'nit, squire? Lovely plumage!
C: Look, I took the liberty of examining that parrot when I got it home, and I discovered the only reason that it had been sitting on its perch in the first place was that it had been NAILED there.
O: Well, o'course it was nailed there! If I hadn't nailed that bird down, it would have nuzzled up to those bars, bent 'em apart with its beak, and VOOM! Feeweeweewee!
C: "VOOM"?!? Mate, this bird wouldn't "voom" if you put four million volts through it! 'E's bleedin' demised!
O: No no! 'E's pining!
C: 'E's not pinin'! 'E's passed on! This parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! 'E's expired and gone to meet 'is maker!
'E's a stiff! Bereft of life, 'e rests in peace! If you hadn't nailed 'im to the perch 'e'd be pushing up the daisies!
'Is metabolic processes are now 'istory! 'E's off the twig!
'E's kicked the bucket, 'e's shuffled off 'is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisibile!!
O: Well, I'd better replace it, then.
(he takes a quick peek behind the counter)
O: Sorry squire, I've had a look 'round the back of the shop, and uh, we're right out of parrots.
C: I see. I see, I get the picture.
O: I got a slug.
C: (sweet as sugar) Pray, does it talk?
O: Nnnnot really.
O: Look, if you go to my brother's pet shop in Bolton, he'll replace the parrot for you.
C: Bolton, eh? Very well.
The customer leaves.
The customer enters the same pet shop. The owner is putting on a false moustache.
C: This is Bolton, is it?
O: (with a fake mustache) No, it's Ipswitch.
C: (looking at the camera) That's inter-city rail for you.
The customer goes to the train station.
He addresses a man standing behind a desk marked "Complaints".
C: I wish to complain, British-Railways Person.
C: I beg your pardon...?
A: I'm a qualified brain surgeon! I only do this job because I like being my own boss!
C: Excuse me, this is irrelevant, isn't it?
A: Yeah, well it's not easy to pad these python files out to 200 lines, you know.
C: Well, I wish to complain. I got on the Bolton train and found myself deposited here in Ipswitch.
A: No, this is Bolton.
C: (to the camera) The pet shop man's brother was lying!!
A: Can't blame British Rail for that.
C: In that case, I shall return to the pet shop!
He does.
C: I understand this IS Bolton.
O: (still with the fake mustache) Yes?
C: You told me it was Ipswitch!
O: ...It was a pun.
C: (pause) A PUN?!?
O: No, no...not a pun...What's that thing that spells the same backwards as forwards?
C: (Long pause) A palindrome...?
O: Yeah, that's it!
C: It's not a palindrome! The palindrome of "Bolton" would be "Notlob"!! It don't work!!
O: Well, what do you want?
C: I'm not prepared to pursue my line of inquiry any longer as I think this is getting too silly!
Sergeant-Major: Quite agree, quite agree, too silly, far too silly...


Just try this. It is from an orthopedic surgeon...
This will boggle your mind and you will keep trying over and over again to see if you can outsmart your foot,but, you can't.
It's pre-programmed in your brain!
1. WITHOUT anyone watching you (they will think you are GOOFY......) and while sitting where you are at your desk in front of your computer, lift your right foot off the floor and make clockwise circles.
2. Now, while doing this, draw the number "6" in the air with your right hand. Your foot will change direction.
 I told you so!!! And there's nothing you can do about it!

One foe is too many and a hundred friends are too few.
          -- Native American Proverb

Be a friend to thyself, and others will be so too.
          -- Thomas Fuller

The butterfly often forgets it was a caterpillar.
          -- Swedish Proverb

 It is a wise child that knows its own father.
It's easier to tear a hole than to mend one.
          -- Russian Proverb

Any fine morning, a power saw can fell a tree that took a thousand years to grow.
          -- Edwin Teale 
A quarrel is like buttermilk, the more you stir it, the more sour it grows.
          -- Bolivian Proverb

Words can't break bones, but they can break hearts.
          -- Roadside Church Signs Across America

My turn today, yours tomorrow.
          -- Latin Proverb

One good turn and you have most of the bedcovers.
          -- Elaine C. Moore 

A kind word never broke anyone's mouth.
          -- Irish Proverb

Soft words are hard arguments.
          -- Thomas Fuller 
Art is the illusion of spontaneity.
          -- Japanese Proverb

Art is a lie that makes us realize the truth.
          -- Pablo Picasso
If you kick a stone in anger, you'll hurt your own foot.
          -- Korean Proverb

Temper is one thing you can't get rid of by losing it.
Patience makes all hardships light.
          -- Estonian Proverb

God gave everyone patience. The wise use it.
          -- Roadside Church Signs Across America 
Anger of the mind is poison to the soul.
          -- Ecuadorian Proverb

Anger is one of the sinners of the soul.
          -- Thomas Fuller 
There's many a good tune played on an old fiddle.
          -- English Proverb

Winter is on my head, but spring is in my heart.
          -- Victor Hugo 
Beginning is easy - Continuing is hard.
          -- Japanese Proverb

All things are difficult before they are easy.
Talking is not like doing.
          -- Lebanese Proverb

Trust in God and do something.
          -- Mary Lyon 
No revenge is more honorable than one not taken.
          -- Spanish Proverb

Revenge has no more quenching effect on emotions than salt water has on thirst.
          -- Walter Weckler 
Men grow old, pearls grow yellow, there is no cure for it.
          -- Chinese Proverb

There is no cure for birth or death save to enjoy the interval.
          -- George Santayana 
The land is never devoid of counselors.
          -- African Proverb

Too bad that all the people who know how to run the country are busy driving taxicabs and cutting hair.
          -- George Burns 
It isn't the whistle that pulls the train.
          -- Vermont Proverb

Saying is one thing and doing another. 
Absence sharpens love, presence strengthens it.
          -- English Proverb

The same wind snuffs candles yet kindles flames; so, where absence kills a little love, it fans a great one.
          -- Francois de la Rochefoucauld
May your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow, and may trouble avoid you wherever you go.
          --Irish Blessing

As you slide down the banister of life, may the splinters never point in the wrong direction!
          --Irish Blessing 
It is not enough for a man to know how to ride, he must also know how to fall.
          --Native American Proverb

You can't get honey unless you take a chance on getting stung. 
One rotten beam can make a whole house collapse.
          --Russian Proverb

A chain is as strong as its weakest link. 
Beware of too great a bargain.
          --New England Proverb

Everything is worth what its purchaser will pay for it.
          --Publilius Syrus 
The fish does not go after the hook, but
     after the bait.
          --Czech Proverb

Judge not according to the appearance.
          --John 7:24 
Whose bread I eat, his song I sing.
          --German Proverb

Know which side your bread it buttered on.
The buyer has need of a hundred eyes, the seller of but one.
          --Italian Proverb

Let the buyer beware.
It takes two to make a quarrel but only one to end it.
          --Nicaraguan Proverb

It is often better not to see an insult than to avenge it.
Life is not a cup to be drained, but a measure to be filled.
          --American Proverb

Lives based on having are less free than lives based either on doing or on being.
          --William James 
No one else can represent your conscience.
          --Native American Proverb

To err is human, to repent divine; to persist devilish.
          --Benjamin Franklin 
Other days, other ways.
          --Greek Proverb

You can never plan the future by the past.
          --Edmund Burke 
Do not look where you fell, but where you slipped.
          --African Proverb

There is nothing wrong with making mistakes.
Just don't respond with encores.
He that can't endure the bad will not live to see the good.
          --Yiddish Proverb

I will prepare and some day my chance will come.
          --Abraham Lincoln 
Walk lightly in the spring; Mother Earth is pregnant.
          --Kiowa Proverb

Every seed knows its time.
          --Russian Proverb 
If there is no wind, row.
          --Latin Proverb

We will either find a way, or make one.
Each generation will reap what the former generation has sown.
          --Chinese Proverb

The world is made of stairs, and there are those who go up and those who go down. 
As he thinks in his heart, so he is.
          --Jewish Proverb

There is nothing as eloquent as a rattlesnake's tail.
          --Navajo Proverb 
Adversity is the stuff that shows whether you are what you thought you were.
          --American Proverb

Always a valley before a hill.
          --American Proverb 
Danger past, God forgotten.
          --Scottish Proverb

Anyone who truly loves God travels securely.
          --Teresa of Avila 
Let your ears hear what your mouth says.
          --Jewish Proverb

The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.
          --Mark Twain 
Arrogance is a kingdom without a crown.
          --American Proverb
A sharp tongue and a dull mind are usually found in the same head.  Those who wish to shine always find a song.
          --Swedish Proverb

Thought is the blossom; language the bud; action the fruit behind it.
          --Ralph Waldo Emerson 
Courage is fear that has said its prayers.
          --American Proverb

Courage is doing what you're afraid to do.  There can be no courage unless you're scared.
          --Eddie Rickenbacker 
Who gossips to you will gossip of you.
          --Puerto Rican Proverb

Gossip is when you hear something you like about someone you don't.
          --Earl Wilson 
If you can't bite, don't show your teeth.
          --Yiddish Proverb

Anger as soon as fed is dead - 'Tis starving makes it fat.
          --Emily Dickinson 
Alcohol will preserve anything but a secret.
          --American Proverb

If you wish to preserve your secret, wrap it up in frankness.
          --Alexander Smith 
All dreams spin out from the same web.
          --Native American Proverb

Perfection is attained by slow degrees; she requires the hand of time.
The deepest waters make the least noise.
          --Guatemalan Proverb

We carry with us the wonders we seek without us.
          --Sir Thomas Browne 
The deepest waters make the least noise.
          --Guatemalan Proverb

We carry with us the wonders we seek without us.
          --Sir Thomas Browne 
Listen to what they say of others and you will know what they say of you.
          --Cuban Proverb

What people say behind your back is your standing in the community.
          --Edgar Watson Howe 
You can outdistance that which is running after you but not what is running inside you.
          --Rwandan Proverb

We only become what we are by the radical and deep-seeded refusal of that which others have made of us.
          --Jean-Paul Sartre 
The Lord will drench you with His showers, but he will dry you with His sun.
          --Czech Proverb

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.
If you live in my heart, you live rent free.
          --Irish Proverb

They gave each other a smile with a future in it.
          --Ring Lardner 
No one knows the story of tomorrow's dawn.
          --African Proverb

With high hope for the future, no prediction is ventured.
          --Abraham Lincoln
Do not confine your children to your own learning, for they were born in another time.
          --Hebrew Proverb

Children are remarkable for their intelligence and ardour, for their curiosity, their intolerance of shams, the clarity and ruthlessness of their vision.
          --Aldous Huxley 
Choose your friends like your books, few but choice.
          --American Proverb

Be slow in choosing a friend, slower in changing.
          --Benjamin Franklin
Take only what you need and leave the land as you found it.
          --Native American Proverb
We have forgotten how to be good guests, how to walk lightly on the earth as other creatures do.
          --1972 Only One Earth Conference 

"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
-- Winston Churchill
May the Lord grant me a sword and no need to use it.
          --Czech Proverb

One sword keeps another in the sheath.
          --George Herbert 
The soul would have no rainbow if the eyes had no tears.
          --Native American Proverb

Grief shared is half grief; Joy shared is double joy.
          --Honduran Proverb 
He who doesn't look ahead remains behind.
          --Mexican Proverb

Light tomorrow with today!
          --Elizabeth Barrett Browning 
Conscience is the voice of the soul.
          --Polish Proverb

Shame arises from the fear of man; conscience from the fear of God.
          --Samuel Johnson 
Who does nothing can do nothing wrong.
          --German Proverb

You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don't try.
          --Beverly Sills 
Hold a true friend with both your hands.
          --Nigerian Proverb

If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day, so I never have to live without you.
          --Winnie the Pooh 
A harvest of peace is produced from a seed of contentment.
          --American Proverb

That they may have a little peace, even the best dogs are compelled to snarl occasionally.
          --William Feather
They are not dead who live in the hearts they leave behind.
          --Native American Proverb

The only truly dead are those who have been forgotten.
          --Jewish Saying

“Almost everything we’ll ever do in life that is really powerful, that really produces a result in our lives, that quantum-leaps us to a new level . . . requires us to do something uncomfortable. It takes risks to achieve. It’s often scary. It requires something you didn’t know before or a skill you didn’t have before. But in the end, it’s worth it. As former Congressman Ed Forman says, ‘Winners are those people who make a habit of doing things losers are uncomfortable doing.’ Make today your day to start that uncomfortable new habit.” – Jack Canfield

“When we accomplish a goal, it instantly loses some of its importance and we tend to lose interest. When we write down too many goals, there is plenty to keep our subconscious mind at work.” - Mark Victor Hansen

“When you accomplish a goal, don’t cross it out. Instead, write ‘victory’ next to it and move on to the next one. This way, whenever you have a bad day, all you have to do is to review your victories to feel good about yourself.” – Jack Canfield

“Psychologists tell us we think 50,000 thoughts a day…between 1,000 and 5,000 thoughts in a single hour. Many of those thoughts are about ourselves and about our performance, about our lovability, our capability and our significance. So the key is to control those thoughts, making certain they’re always positive.” – Jack Canfield

“If you do things the same way you’ve always done them, you’ll get the same outcomes you’ve always gotten. In order to change your outcomes, you’ve got to do things differently.” - Mark Victor Hansen 

“One Dad I know uses what I call Post-It® Note therapy on his children. He leaves sticky Post-It Notes everywhere …in their lunch box, inside their shoes, on top of their sandwich before he wraps it up. He once went into his daughter’s room, looking for his hammer, and on the back of her bedroom door were every Post-It Note he’d ever given her - over 250 in all with simple messages like ‘Great job’…’I love you’…or ‘You’re special to me.’ Do you think that girl knew, without a doubt, that her Dad valued her and loved her? “ – Jack Canfield

“If you want something new in your life, you have to make space for it. I mean that psychologically as well as physically. Take a look at your closet. If you have the kind of closet where you can’t fit another thing in there, that might be the reason you don’t have more new clothes. If you want a new man in your life, you’ve got to let go of the one who stopped dating you five years ago. In other words, you need to complete the past in order for the present to show up more fully.” – Jack Canfield

“Peter Thigpen, formerly Vice-President at Levi Strauss & Company, always kept a victory log. In it, he listed his accomplishments like…Opened up China as a market, Got my teenage son to clean up his room, Got the Board of Directors to approve the new expansion plan. Whenever he faced something really daunting, like negotiating a major bank loan, he would review his Victory Log. You can do the same. In fact, when you focus on tasks completed successfully, it gives you the expectancy of success, which can change your entire posture or approach going forward.” – Jack Canfield

“The greatest deficit in America isn’t the trade deficit. It’s the attention deficit of our children. The average child gets 14 minutes of attention a day from each of his parents. So the greatest thing you can give a kid is time spent listening to him or her.” – Jack Canfield  “The majority of people meet with failure because they lack the persistence to create new plans to take the place of failed plans.” - Mark Victor Hansen

“Self-esteem does not mean feeling good all the time. Self-esteem means loving yourself even when you feel badly…even when you make a mistake. It means loving yourself even when you’re depressed. It means that you accept yourself fully.” – Jack Canfield 

“When you have purpose, you don’t have time for negativity.” - Mark Victor Hansen

“The meaning of self-esteem is to feel lovable and capable. As parents, we must love our children unconditionally and give them a sense of being nurtured. That’s the lovable part. Then, we must provide structure - rules, boundaries, daily or weekly household tasks that give them a sense they are making a contribution. That’s what helps kids grow up feeling capable.” – Jack Canfield 


How computers make our kids stupid
There's growing evidence that too much cyber-time dumbs down our children
The first thing you notice opening the door to Les Black's classroom is the smell. It's a dank, earthy aroma from a dozen planters perched on shelves or suspended from the ceiling. Sunlight filters through a row of wood-framed windows onto the 27 fourth-graders. A boy standing at the front relates the story of his grandfather's life, impressing upon his audience that the old man did not always act within the letter of the law. His classmates squirm in their seats. Some fiddle with pencils. One boy thoughtfully caresses a papier mâché snake resting on his desk. Behind the presenter is a chalkboard and, above it, the age-old series of placards displaying the alphabet, exquisitely drawn in cursive form.

This scene in a private school in the Toronto suburb of Thornhill is not unlike thousands of others across Canada. But wait a minute -- something is strangely amiss. Where are the keyboards? Where are the darkened screens framed by dull grey plastic? The tangle of cables cascading over the backs of the tables? How strange: a classroom without a gigabyte in sight, not even on the teacher's desk. How will these children ever get a job? How will their teachers ever instill in them a love of learning?

It's never been easier for kids to get their fingertips on a keyboard or to cruise cyberspace. Statistics Canada reports three out of four households with school-aged children regularly access the Internet, and a growing number of users are turning to high-speed connections. Our schools now have about a million computers, 93 per cent of which are online. Although we already boast a 5:1 ratio of students to computers (compared to an average of 8:1 in the developed world as a whole), the push is on in many districts to equip each middle- and high-school student with a wireless laptop. With homes and classrooms crawling with mouses and modems, anyone resisting the digital impulse seems either hopelessly naive or in a state of downright denial.

Yet, in bucking the trend, the Toronto Waldorf School -- home to Les Black's class -- is arguably doing its students a favour. While computers clearly have a place in education (Waldorf introduces them in Grade 9), the evidence is mounting that our obsessive use of information technology is dumbing us down, adults as well as kids. While they can be engaging and resourceful tools for learning -- if used in moderation -- computers and the Internet can also distract kids from homework, encourage superficial and uncritical thinking, replace face-to-face interaction between students and teachers, and lead to compulsive behaviour.

At least some teens recognize the problem. Fifteen-year-old Colin Johnson of Toronto sits down at his computer at 4 most afternoons. He whizzes through his homework in half an hour, and then starts surfing, gaming and chatting with friends on MSN until 1 a.m., when he goes to bed. The tenth-grader is failing science, but otherwise getting by. "I procrastinate a lot more than before," he says, acknowledging that "everybody's marks suffer to some degree" if they spend as much time as he does online.

Perhaps the most persuasive evidence for taking a more critical view is a broad-reaching and rigorous study published last November. University of Munich economists Thomas Fuchs and Ludger Woessmann analyzed the results of the OECD's PISA international standardized tests. Not only did they tap into a massive subject pool -- 174,000 15-year-olds in reading, 97,000 each in math and science from 31 countries (including Canada) -- but they were also able, because participants filled out extensively detailed surveys, to control for other possible outside influences, something remarkably few studies do. Their results, which are only now starting to make waves among pedagogy experts, confirm what many parents have long intuited: the sheer ubiquity of information technology is getting in the way of learning. Once household income and the wealth of a school's resources are taken out of the equation, teens with the greatest access to computers and the Internet at home and school earn the lowest test scores.

At school, the economists found, some exposure to computers seems beneficial. For instance, students who never or rarely use the Internet and computers in the classroom don't do as well as those who make moderate use of them. But the difference in achievement levels is significant in math and science only, not in reading. And those same computer-less students outperform peers who frequently access the technology. The optimal level for computer and Internet use at school, Fuchs and Woessmann suggest, is pretty low, somewhere between "a few times a year" and "several times a month." Seventeen-year-old Tilo McAlister has some idea why that may be so. By Grade 7, the Waldorf student was aware that friends in other schools were more computer-savvy than he. (McAlister had limited use of his father's home-office computer at the time.) Upsetting as that was to him then, four years later, he has caught up. And "looking back," he says, "I'm glad I didn't have them in school. Anything I would have learned from a computer, I'm sure I learned better from a teacher."

Irene Freeman is Brooke Elementary School's resident technology guru. The 63-year-old teacher first introduced computers to her Delta, B.C., classroom in the early 1980s. She's since facilitated the installation of the school's computer lab, designed the school's website, led countless workshops for teachers, and spent two years as an e-learning consultant for her district. Now in the last of 39 years of teaching, Freeman takes every opportunity to put her first-graders on the road to becoming seasoned technophiles. Along with twice-a-week trips to the lab, her 23 six- and seven-year-olds spend a chunk of each day in front of the five hand-me-down computers in her classroom, where they navigate a selection of commercial educational software and Internet sites.

Freeman estimates she delivers about a quarter of the curriculum in this way. "In September, we talk about the parts of the computer," she says. "Where to put your left hand, your right hand -- and they play games with the alphabet." By the end of the school year, the children (who have already used computers in kindergarten, though not as extensively) can, among other things, write stories, draw pictures and insert them into documents, build geometric patterns, organize their thoughts (with the help of a graphics program called Inspiration that prompts them to "web," or connect, their ideas), and even create slides for a PowerPoint presentation. Freeman's convinced that computers help students master the alphabet, reading and writing more quickly than they would in a tech-free environment. "Pretty well all the kids really like it," she notes, "so they're motivated to learn."

The computer is frequently cited by educators as the great motivator. "It's not that you couldn't teach without it," says Brooke principal Barbara Hague, "but we need everything in our power to keep kids engaged." More significantly, however, PCs are part of their world. If schools failed to integrate them into the curriculum, she insists, "we'd be missing a huge part of their life -- it would be like not including physical education" in the school day.

Yet the accoutrements and relentless upgrading they demand are expensive. At Brooke, which is located in a solidly middle-class neighbourhood, parents are helping foot the $10,000 cost of an upgrade to the lab this spring, which added 14 computers for a total of 32. And although some have questioned the school's priorities (especially as spending on "all aspects of school life," says Hague, has been cut back in recent years), the students' current level and sophistication of use means they need to be working at their own screens. "They're way beyond sharing."

The push for more -- more modules, more speed, more software -- can take on a life of its own. In fact, labs and classroom PCs like those at Brooke school are considered dinosaurs -- "not that different from someone wanting to install an eight-track tape player in a 2005 sports car," according to Ron Rubadeau, superintendent of schools for B.C.'s Central Okanagan district. Students don't get enough time in labs, he stresses in a report released earlier this year, "Technology Unplugged," and classroom modules are located "in spaces that may already be too cramped to fully accommodate student learning." The wave of the future is wireless laptops which, although "costly," will lead "to an improved focus on teaching and learning," he predicts. That's the same reasoning behind the province's $2.1- million program to equip each child in select Grade 5 to 12 classrooms next fall with their own laptop computers.

Rubadeau's confidence is born of a seemingly impressive stack of research. When 1,150 Grade 6 and 7 students in B.C.'s Peace River North school district were given their own Apple iBooks, for instance, writing skills improved (especially among students whose teachers were more experienced with the technology), and the achievement gap between girls and boys, and between non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal students, narrowed. Studies from Quebec, Maine and Maryland, where iBooks have been used for a few years, back up those results. Wireless laptops distributed on a one-to-one basis, concludes Rubadeau -- whose middle and high school students are part of the province's initiative -- are "revolutionizing instruction."

Now surely that should silence the critics -- the parents, educators and others who have, over the years, objected to the massive outlay of cash on what they argue is an unproven medium. (No one has kept tabs in Canada, but in the U.S., one estimate puts the federal expenditure on digitizing schools at nearly $6 billion a year.) Yet, rather than clamming up in the face of such persuasive evidence, the opposition, like a dog with a bone, has grown bolder -- and has its own growing body of contrarian evidence, including the Munich economists' study. "The jury is in," says Alison Armstrong, Toronto co-author of 1999's The Child and the Machine: Why Computers May Put Our Children's Education at Risk. "There's no compelling evidence that computers help develop intellectual or emotional intelligence in any way."

South of the border, the Alliance for Childhood, a group of 60 health, child-development, education and technology experts, has called for a moratorium on new computers for preschool and elementary classrooms. In its report "Fool's Gold: A Critical Look at Computers in Childhood," the Alliance argues, "We do not know what the consequences of such a machine-driven education in adulthood will be. But we suspect that they will include a narrower and more shallow range of intellectual insights, a stunting of both social and technical imagination, and a drag on the productivity that stems from imaginative leaps. In short, a high-tech agenda for children seems likely to erode our most precious long-term intellectual reserves -- our children's minds."

Meanwhile, the Munich economists found that on the home front, kids without a PC do better than those with one or more. This changes only when specific computer uses are taken into account. Educational software, email and web page access -- and this will come as no surprise -- are associated with higher achievement than gaming or chat rooms, precisely the activities on which teens spend the most time. Or, as a new British Department for Education and Skills document advocating e-learning puts it, booting up at home can be beneficial, "but not many pupils have yet integrated such uses with their school experiences."

So, it's quite simple, really. There's no harm in buying your teen his own computer and dedicated Internet access, so long as you're confident that the Encyclopedia Britannica, and not an online game of Doom, will keep him glued to the screen. And while American author Steven Johnson argues in his new book, Everything Bad is Good for You, that video games and certain popular TV shows are making the next generation smarter (because their multi-layered, unresolved soap-opera plots stimulate under-used neural pathways), this sort of virtual multi-tasking clearly has its drawbacks. Not only, as Fuchs and Woessmann propose, can recreational uses be a distraction, crowding out time spent on homework, but our brains -- at least, once we go to work -- appear to suffer in other ways. According to a University of London study commissioned by Hewlett-Packard, the constant interruption of employees' concentration by emails and telephone calls lowers a person's IQ by 10 points -- more than double the four-point drop that results from smoking a joint.

One reason students don't "integrate" their school work with their home computer use, the British government report goes on to suggest, is that "teachers do not have direct control over what pupils do outside school hours." In many ways, this goes to the heart of the issue. Computers don't, on their own, dumb us down. But so long as schools treat computers as if they are indispensable, and teachers continue to assign homework that either requires or assumes research will be carried out on the web, kids will inevitably be pulled into gaming, chat rooms and other distractions. This, as Woessmann and Fuchs have shown, bodes poorly for their achievement levels. It also arguably interferes with their capacity for deep and sustained reading, thinking and understanding -- a point Everything Bad is Good for You author Johnson eventually comes around to acknowledging. "Now for the bad news," he writes at the end of his book. "Complicated, sequential works of persuasion, where each premise builds on the previous one, and where an idea can take an entire chapter to develop, are not well-suited to life on the computer screen."

And it's not just the students who are losing out. Heather Menzies, author of the recently published No Time: Stress and the Crisis of Modern Life, and York University sociologist Janice Newson surveyed 100 faculty members from six of the country's universities. About a third of them reported short-term memory problems and difficulties concentrating, which they link to the digital revolution. Seventy per cent said that rather than read deeply, reflectively and broadly, they scan for usable bits of information. What's more, the overwhelming use of email is affecting their interactions with students and colleagues, making communication more "superficial" and less personal.

As for why kids with a surfeit of school computers don't perform as well as others, Fuchs and Woessmann suggest what Waldorf student McAlister suspects about his own experience: time spent at the screen may crowd out personal interaction with teachers and creativity. They're referring to the 15-year-olds in their study, but in an interview, Fuchs speculates that younger children whose lessons depend excessively on computers suffer even more. "I would suggest that for the reading literacy of nine-year-olds, very frequent computer use at school could have a more severe effect, since the learning of reading requires a lot of interaction between teachers and students." The general message of the German study is this: at home and at school, computers may well have a time and a place, but not just any place and any time. As Canadian schools eagerly embrace the next wave of e-learning -- and PCs, laptops and the Internet become as common as pencils and erasers in ever-earlier grades -- it's not clear that message is getting through.

All this makes it harder to accuse the staff at the Toronto Waldorf School of being either naive or living in denial. "We're not Luddites or anti-computer," says the Toronto school's faculty chair, Todd Royer. "But we are for introducing important technologies at the right time in the development of children." The right time for computers, he says, arrives in Grade 9, when students move from a purely sensual, experiential curriculum to a more abstract, conceptual level of learning. According to the Waldorf approach -- first espoused by Austrian philosopher and scientist Rudolf Steiner in 1919 -- the elementary years are for engaging children with natural phenomena, like gardens, animals and light. The child is expected to store such encounters in her memory and, from an accumulation of experiences, create and test her own concepts. In experiencing (as opposed to intellectualizing) the world, says Royer, students come to develop their capacities for wonder, interest, reverence and love -- a key step in "holding their intellect in check so that they can deal with it responsibly."

Computers are of no use in this process. "They don't present us with phenomena," he explains. "They present us with something that is pre-digested -- a concept of something" created by someone else. For the same reason, textbooks are also scarce in Waldorf classrooms. The children write and illustrate their own records of what they've learned using good, old-fashioned pens, pencils, crayons and paper. That process, says Royer, goes a long way toward building a child's self-esteem -- a task the Waldorf elementary curriculum puts front and centre in the belief that intellectual life should develop from emotional and moral maturity.

Letting a child loose on the Internet (where three million new web pages are created every day) before they've developed a strong sense of self, he says, "can extend them beyond their capacity to understand." They lack the maturity to deal with it responsibly. Obsessive use of the Internet is a prime example. Not only can gaming and chat rooms distract a kid from homework, but more than 10 per cent of students show signs of compulsive Internet use, experts say. In such cases, cautions University of Calgary computer scientist Tom Keenan, computers themselves are not to blame. "There's always something to take kids away from studying. Thirty years ago, at universities, it was bridge." But whereas card games require some effort to coordinate, the Internet is "ubiquitous and cheap," he adds. And in the absence of parental supervision, "it's always ready for you, always friendly, always happy. It's the crack-cocaine of time-wasters" -- a point some kids are well aware of. "MMORPGs" (massive multi-player online role-playing games) "are highly addictive," notes Toronto teen Colin Johnson. "A lot of people have screwed up their lives playing them." In fact, one Sony product, EverQuest, in which gamers create characters using "a powerful customization system for unprecedented player individuality," according to the company's website, is widely known as EverCrack.

Even more troubling, notes Royer, is that the things kids read and see online invade their imagination. The recent incident at Royal St. George's College -- in which two boys (one Jewish) at the Toronto private school spewed anti-Semitic insults at a chat-room participant, Rod (a moniker for four Jewish girls from another private school) -- is a case in point. Not only did one of the students pick up some of the racist vocabulary from surfing the web in the first place, but it's not clear he fully understood the impact of posting his diatribe on the Internet. In a cyberworld glutted with undifferentiated information, students desperately need to be able to distinguish valid information from hate propaganda and other irresponsible messages. In light of such incidents, it doesn't seem entirely grandiose when Royer suggests, "The force of thinking is like the power of the gods that we hold in our hands. We have the power to do incredible things, both for good and evil. It's a force that needs to be protected within humanity."

The Waldorf school's 100 high school students share a modest 17-unit lab for a limited menu of courses -- math, programming and business. In waiting until a child's character is more fully formed, Royer hopes his students will understand computers for what they are, a tool, and use them responsibly. Student McAlister does much of his homework on the PC he recently bought for himself, and acknowledges that the allure of surfing, downloading music and email was initially a distraction. But he started to feel guilty, his marks were dropping, and, he says, "that got me to get on top of it" -- without parental nagging. Classmate Kaz Iguchi transferred from the public system to the Waldorf school in Grade 9. "I close all other programs so I don't get distracted when I do my homework," he says. A one-time video-game aficionado, he sold all his games in January. Iguchi, 17, credits his school environment with that decision. "In Waldorf, not many kids play games," he says. "If I still went to a public school, I'm pretty sure I'd still be playing."

As for the standard rationales for digitizing the classroom, Royer trots out a variety of curt responses. To the claim that the world is full of computers and schools need to be relevant to children's lives: "The world's full of all kinds of things -- automobiles, sexuality, and we have appropriate times and places for all these aspects of our lives." But surely engagement is an issue. Don't kids get revved up about lessons presented on a computer? "Sure," he responds. "It's an addictive medium." Okay, what about helping students gain the skills they need to get a job? "Our grads go everywhere and anywhere."

This last rebuttal is less impressive when you consider that Waldorf is a private school with tuition fees between $11,000 and $12,200. Most of its students, in other words, are going to be ahead of the curve by virtue of their advantaged background. But it's also the case that a 2005 survey asking Canadian corporate leaders what they look for in new hires consistently emphasized self-discipline, an inquiring mind and loyalty over technical know-how, which can be picked up on the job. Add to this evidence cited by Fuchs and Woessmann that computer skills have no substantial impact on an employee's wages, while math and writing abilities do, and Royer's glib response gains credibility.

Delta teacher Irene Freeman is also a big believer in hands-on, experiential learning. The first week of May, her class spent a morning making strawberry jam for Mother's Day, arranging baby food jars of preserves in baskets fashioned out of berry containers woven with strips of coloured paper, topped off with a homemade card -- no mousing or keyboarding required (except for Freeman, who found the design for the cards on the web). But even experiential learning can be digitized. For one previous project, her students picked fallen leaves, which Freeman then laminated. After writing about where they found each leaf and what kind of tree it dropped from (using Microsoft's Talking First Word software), the students mailed their work to dozens of other North American schools participating in the same project. In return, says Freeman, "we got some unusual looking leaves -- from trees like the sugargum in Florida." The experience "didn't replace books," she stresses. "We started by reading The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein," and ended by looking up the leaves they were sent in reference books.

It's hard to see much harm in such judicious use of technology. But for every positive example, there are other troubling ones. Of course we hope our kids will discover that mouses, websites and email are useful educational tools. But as we allow curricula and computers to cozy up ever closer, we risk letting technology run the show.

Copyright by Rogers Media Inc.

By Joyce T. Povlacs ~ Teaching and Learning Center, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Beginnings are important. Whether the class is a large introductory course for freshmen or an advanced course in the major field, it makes  good sense to start the semester off well. Students will decide very early - some say the first day of class - whether they will like the course,  its contents, the teacher, and their fellow students.

The following list of "101 Things You Can Do..." is offered in the spirit of starting off right. It is a catalog of suggestions for college teachers  who are looking for a fresh way of creating the best possible environment for learning. Not just the first day, but the first three weeks of a course are especially important, studies say, in retaining capable students. Even if the syllabus is printed and lecture notes are ready to go in August, most college teachers can usually make adjustments in teaching methods as the course unfolds and the characteristics of their students become known.

These suggestions have been gathered from UNL professors and from college teachers elsewhere. The rationale for these methods is based on the following needs: 1) to help students make the transition from high school and summer or holiday activities to learning in college; 2) to direct students' attention to the immediate situation for learning - the hour in the classroom: 3) to spark intellectual curiosity - to challenge students; 4) to support beginners and neophytes in the process of learning in the discipline; S) to encourage the students' active involvement  in learning; and 6) to build a sense of community in the classroom.
Ideas For the First Three Weeks:
Here, then, are some ideas for college teachers for use in their courses as they begin a new semester.

Helping Students Make Transitions
       1. Hit the ground running on the first day of class with substantial content.
       2. Take attendance: roll call, clipboard, sign in, seating chart.
       3. Introduce teaching assistants by slide, short presentation, or self-introduction.
       4. Hand out an informative, artistic, and user-friendly syllabus.
       5. Give an assignment on the first day to be collected at the next meeting.
       6. Start laboratory experiments and other exercises the first time lab meets.
       7. Call attention (written and oral) to what makes good lab practice: completing work to be done, procedures, equipment, clean up, maintenance, safety, conservation of supplies, full use of lab time.
       8. Administer a learning style inventory to help students find out about themselves.
       9. Direct students to the Learning Skills Center for help on basic skills.
      10. Tell students how much time they will need to study for this course.
      11. Hand out supplemental study aids: library use, study tips, supplemental readings and exercises.
      12. Explain how to study for kind of tests you give.
      13. Put in writing a limited number of ground rules regarding absence, late work, testing procedures, grading, and general decorum, and maintain these.
      14. Announce office hours frequently and hold them without fail.
      15. Show students how to handle learning in large classes and impersonal situations.
      16. Give sample test questions.
      17. Give sample test question answers.
      18. Explain the difference between legitimate collaboration and academic dishonesty; be clear when collaboration is wanted and when it is forbidden.
      19. Seek out a different student each day and get to know something about him or her.
      20. Ask students to write about what important things are currently going on in their lives.
      21 .Find out about students' jobs; if they are working, how many hours a week, and what kinds of jobs they hold.

Directing Students' Attention
      22. Greet students at the door when they enter the classroom.
      23. Start the class on time.
      24. Make a grand stage entrance to hush a large class and gain attention.
      25. Give a pre-test on the day's topic.
      26. Start the lecture with a puzzle, question, paradox, picture, or cartoon on slide or transparency to focus on the day's topic.
      27. Elicit student questions and concerns at the beginning of the class and list these on the chalkboard to be answered during the hour.
      28. Have students write down what they think the important issues or key points of the day's lecture will be.
      29. Ask the person who is reading the student newspaper what is in the news today.

Challenging Students
      30. Have students write out their expectations for the course and their own goals for learning.
      31. Use variety in methods of presentation every class meeting.
      32. Stage a figurative "coffee break" about twenty minutes into the hour; tell an anecdote, invite students to put down pens and pencils,  refer to a current event, shift media.
      33. Incorporate community resources: plays, concerts, the State Fair. government agencies. businesses, the outdoors.
      34. Show a film in a novel way: stop it for discussion, show a few frames only, anticipate ending, hand out a viewing or critique sheet, play and replay parts.
      35. Share your philosophy of teaching with your students.
      36. Form a student panel to present alternative views of the same concept.
      37. Stage a change-your-mind debate. with students moving to different parts of the classroom to signal change in opinion during the discussion.
      38. Conduct a "living" demographic survey by having students move to different parts of the classroom: size of high school. rural vs. urban, consumer preferences...
      39. Tell about your current research interests and how you got there from your own beginnings in the discipline.
      40. Conduct a role-play to make a point or to lay out issues.
      41. Let your students assume the role of a professional in the discipline: philosopher, literary critic, biologist, agronomist, political scientist, engineer.
      42. Conduct idea-generating or brainstorming sessions to expand horizons.
      43. Give students two passages of material containing alternative views to compare and contrast.
      44. Distribute a list of the unsolved problems. dilemmas. or great questions in your discipline and invite students to claim one as their own  to investigate.
      45. Ask students what books they've read recently.
      46. Ask what is going on in government on this subject which may affect their future.
      47. Let your students see the enthusiasm you have for your subject and your love of learning.
      48. Take students with you to hear guest speakers or special programs on campus.
      49. Plan "scholar-gypsy" lesson or unit which shows students the excitement of discovery in your discipline.

Providing Support
      50. Collect students' current telephone numbers and addresses and let them know that you may need to reach them.
      51. Check out absentees. Call or write a personal note.
      52. Diagnose the students' prerequisites learning by questionnaire or pre-test ant give them the feedback as soon as possible.
      53. Hand out study questions or study guides.
      54. Be redundant. Students should hear, read. or see key material at least three times.
      55. Allow students to demonstrate progress in learning: summary quiz over the day's work. a written reaction to the day's material.
      56. Use non-graded feedback to let students know how they are doing: post answers to ungraded quizzes and problem sets, exercises in class, oral feedback.
      57. Reward behavior you want: praise, stars, honor roll, personal note.
      58. Use a light touch: smile, tell a good joke, break test anxiety with a sympathetic comment.
      59. Organize. Give visible structure by posting the day's "menu" on chalk- board or overhead.
      60. Use multiple media: overhead, slides, film, videotape, audio tape, models, sample material.
      61. Use multiple examples, in multiple media. to illustrate key points and . important concepts.
      62. Make appointments with all students (individually or in small groups).
      63. Hand out wallet-sized telephone cards with all important telephone numbers listed: office department, resource centers, teaching assistant, lab.
      64. Print all important course dates on a card that can be handed out and taped to a mirror.
      65. Eavesdrop on students before or after class and join their conversation about course topics.
      66. Maintain an open lab gradebook. with grades kept current. during lab time so that students can check their progress.
      67. Check to see if any students are having problems with any academic or campus matters and direct those who are to appropriate offices or resources.
      68. Tell students what they need to do to receive an "A" in your course.
      69. Stop the work to find out what your students are thinking feeling and doing in their everyday lives.

Encouraging Active Learning
      70. Have students write something.
      71.Have students keep three-week-three-times-a-week journals in which they comment. ask questions. and answer questions about course topics.
      72. Invite students to critique each other's essays or short answer on tests for readability or content.
      73. Invite students to ask questions and wait for the response.
      74. Probe student responses to questions ant wait for the response.
      75. Put students into pairs or "learning cells" to quiz each other over material for the day.
      76. Give students an opportunity to voice opinions about the subject matter.
      77. Have students apply subject matter to solve real problems.
      78. Give students red, yellow, and green cards (made of posterboard) and periodically call for a vote on an issue by asking for a simultaneous show of cards.
      79. Roam the aisles of a large classroom and carry on running conversations with students as they work on course problems (a portable microphone helps).
      80. Ask a question directed to one student and wait for an answer.
      81. Place a suggestion box in the rear of the room and encourage students to make written comments every time the class meets.
      82. Do oral show of-hands multiple choice tests for summary review and instant feedback.
      83. Use task groups to accomplish specific objectives.
      84. Grade quizzes and exercises in class as a learning tool.
      85. Give students plenty of opportunity for practice before a major test.
      86. Give a test early in the semester and return it graded in the next class meeting.
      87. Have students write questions on index cards to be collected and answered the next class period.
      88. Make collaborate assignments for several students to work on together.
      89. Assign written paraphrases and summaries of difficult reading.
      90. Give students a take-home problem relating to the days lecture.
      91. Encourage students to bring current news items to class which relate to the subject matter and post these on a bulletin board nearby.

Building Community
      92. Learn names. Everyone makes an effort to learn at least a few names.
      93. Set up a buddy system so students can contact each other about assignments and coursework.
      94. Find out about your students via questions on an index card.
      95. Take pictures of students (snapshots in small groups, mug shots) and post in classroom, office, or lab.
      96. Arrange helping trios of students to assist each other in learning and growing.
      97. Form small groups for getting acquainted; mix and form new groups several times.
      98. Assign a team project early in the semester and provide time to assemble the team.
      99. Help students form study groups to operate outside the classroom.
     100. Solicit suggestions from students for outside resources and guest speakers on course topics.

Feedback on Teaching
     101. Gather student feedback in the first three weeks of the semest

A's are common as dirt in universities nowadays because

it's almost impossible for a professor to grade honestly.
National Trends in Grade Inflation
Where All Grades Are Above Average
A's For Everyone
Kids Are Quick

TEACHER: Maria, go to the map and find North America .
MARIA: Here it is.
TEACHER: Correct. Now class, who discovered America ?
CLASS: Maria.

TEACHER: John, why are you doing your math multiplication on the floor?
JOHN: You told me to do it without using tables.

TEACHER: Glenn, how do you spell 'crocodile?'
TEACHER: No, that's wrong
GLENN: Maybe it is wrong, but you asked me how I spell it.

TEACHER: Donald, what is the chemical formula for water?
TEACHER: What are you talking about?
DONALD: Yesterday you said it's H to O.

TEACHER: Winnie, name one important thing we have today that we didn't have ten years ago.

TEACHER: Glen, why do you always get so dirty?
GLEN: Well, I'm a lot closer to the ground than you are.

TEACHER: Millie, give me a sentence starting with 'I.'
MILLIE: I is..
TEACHER: No, Millie..... Always say, 'I am.'
MILLIE: All right... 'I am the ninth letter of the alphabet.'

TEACHER: George Washington not only c hopped down his father's cherry tree, but also admitted it. Now, Louie, do you know why his father didn't punish him?
LOUIS! : Because George still had the axe in his hand!

TEACHER: Now, Simon, tell me frankly, do you say prayers before eating?
SIMON: No sir, I don't have to, my Mom is a good cook.

TEACHER: Clyde , your composition on 'My Dog' is exactly the same as your brother's. Did you copy his?
CLYDE : No, sir. It's the same dog.

TEACHER: Harold, what do you call a person who keeps on talking when people are no longer interested?
HAROLD: A teacher.
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