21 January 2020

Habit-forming 20s

There is an adage that it takes 21 days to develop a habit (or to break one). I have no idea if that's true, but I do feel a certain sense of accomplishment in completing 21 posts in 21 days...especially since I haven't written that many over the last few years. I am taking my inspiration from the daily list of historical tweets generated by On This Day and that is helpful in terms of both being reflective and developing something to share. My one complaint is that whatever time zone the bot is in, I get a mix of tweets tagged for the current and previous day. They all fall within a 24-hour period...but I am bummed that some of the ones I've most wanted to pick for a given day haven't shown up until the next day. I'm not sure what to do about that. Part of me wants to stick with ensuring tweets match a given day...part of me wants to just adjust and pick from whatever list is generated. There are two ways around this, of course. One would be to delay writing these for 24 hours. As it is now, I write them the evening before to post the morning of. Another would be to go into my settings and request my full Twitter archive...then just sort by date and find the tweet du jour.

We will also see how much I need to stick to these prompts. There may be some other things to share along the way as I teach my first university course (starting next week) and coordinate a large-scale project between now and the end of April.

But today, I am smiling while I remember this (including the autocarrot my phone made in terms of Buster Keaton's name):


I admit that I am not the biggest fan of silent movies. Maybe I just need to develop an appreciation for them, as I have done for films from the '30s forward. But I do have a few favourites from the silent era. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (which will be 100 years old this year) is a story I can never look away from. Alfred Hitchcock's first film from 1927, The Lodger, is riveting. I will always stop what I'm doing to watch Lillian Gish's performance in The Wind (1928). And, of course, I can't resist Rudolph Valentino in The Sheik (1921).

But it is always Buster Keaton who I admire the most. The films are so very clever—stories well-told and the stunts are second-to-none. I enjoyed seeing Sherlock, Jr. (1924) for the first time last year. And The General (1926) is far and away the very best of his...in my opinion. But the tweet above references what might be his best known performance as Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928). Fast-paced and full of the human experience, from familial bonds to forbidden love to home, I never cease to see new wonders. Getting to see it on the big screen with an audience and live accompaniment was a fantastic experience. I hope these films continue to be appreciated over the next 100 years.

20 January 2020

Early to Bed, Early to Rise

According to my adoptive mother, I have always been an early riser. It wasn't enough to be a newborn with it's own exhausting schedule, I had to have others in the house up well before dawn, too.


I can't say that much has changed in the last 50 (!) years. Most work days, I am up around 4:15 am and out the door about an hour later. I often run an errand or two on the way to work. At 5:30 in the morning, I can put gas in the car, mail packages, do banking, or small runs to the grocery store. I realize this sounds like hell to other people. It's not my choice to be wired for my most alert times to be this early. However, I have to say that it is super-nice to just be able to come home at the end of the work day, as opposed to having worked all day and then having to run errands with the rest of the crowds. I've made my peace with things.

On a holiday like today, when there is no expectation of being anywhere, I might sleep in until 5 and then ease into the day more slowly. It's nice to enjoy some coffee at home, putter around, and do things along my own schedule.

Today's tweet was selected from a list provided each day by On This Day.  The account shows a user's full history of tweets for the given calendar date. Just a reminder that I'm going to post a tweet a day from a previous year and expand on it a bit as a way to get back in the habit of sharing via a blog. You can see my full list of tweets posted on this day, or start seeing your own by following that account.

19 January 2020

Forever Young

I have not been a classroom teacher since 2008, which means that by now, nearly every student I knew that year has now graduated and moved on into adulthood. I did work with Kindergarten students at that time who would be seniors this year, but I have had no connection to them since then.

I am still in contact with several former students. We exchange Christmas cards or connect on social media. I enjoy getting to see where their lives have taken them as they started completed college and started careers...been married and had children...bought houses...and faced their fair share of challenges, too. There is a bit of cognitive dissonance in all of this, of course. In my mind, these people are frozen in time—forever 16 - 18 years old. I remember them as high school sophomores, with all their goofy energy. I recognize that they have more than moved on by then, but I hope they appreciate that someone still sees them in that light...someone who remembers that kid.

The tweet for today is a reply to a former student:


She works in a school now, has met my office staff at a conference they all attended, and is still as full of life and energy in her late 30's as she was in her teens. I love seeing her well and happy. It's what we want for all of our students.

18 January 2020

Where's the Party?


I've been out in a few of our elementary schools this week to do benchmark testing. I, and a small army of paras, sit with K - 3 students one at a time to test some basic skills with reading and math. It is exhausting, and monotonous, and your body gets sore from sitting in little chairs and hunching over low tables all day. But it is also one of the most fun parts of my job. I love listening to the little things kids want to share, the excitement of a kindergartner who recognizes that the letter on the page is one that's in their name, or the third grader who just can't help but sing "row, row, row your boat" when they see it in the reading passage.

A tradeoff in doing this is that my to do list for all the other parts of my job starts to become monstrous. So, we may have a three-day weekend in terms of what is on the calendar, but that just means it's a holiday from going to the office. As I sat in my office at 4:30 yesterday afternoon, after getting there before 6 am, I generated quite the list of large things (build the repo for the college course I'm teaching to teachers-in-training about using data) and small (email the final round of logo edits so I can launch my new business). There's a mix of personal, work stuff, and a couple things that straddle both worlds. Time to party hearty at the To Do Bar. Hope it's got some good happy hour specials.

Today's tweet was selected from a list provided each day by On This Day.  The account shows a user's full history of tweets for the given calendar date. Just a reminder that I'm going to post a tweet a day from a previous year and expand on it a bit as a way to get back in the habit of sharing via a blog. You can see my full list of tweets posted on this day, or start seeing your own by following that account.

17 January 2020

Hi! My name is...

Over the years, I have written a few times about my Internet handle. I even have some background on it on one of the pages for this blog. While my reasons for keeping it have shifted over the years, I realized several years ago that if I give it up, then that makes it available for someone else to use...and then have all my content associated with them. So, while this consequence was unanticipated when I first started blogging, it's a fact of my online existence for as long as it lasts. I have no regrets and I have nothing to hide.


Looking at this tweet (full list here) from this date 10 years ago, reminded me of the power and pitfalls of aliases. While I originally addressed my comment to @scicurious...she has since rebranded (@BeeBrookshire) to reflect her given name (Bethany Brookshire)...but someone else has taken up the original mantle and is using her first username now. (Confused yet?) While I doubt she really cares at this point—she has 63.5K followers, after all—it is only one of several examples of changes I've seen over the years as people adapt their username to new purposes. And who knows what the future holds? Maybe there will be easier ways to update our usernames and retain all of the previous associations. Right now, I'm just going to sit tight on my claim.

16 January 2020

Early to Bed, Early to Rise


According to my adoptive mother, I have always been a morning person. Even now, I am up early (around 4 on workdays) and am much more productive and focused at that point. I realize that it is not the norm, but over the years I have learned to accept that I am just not built for a more typical schedule.

Today's tweet (full list here) from seven years ago reminds me not just of my oddball circadian rhythm, but I also like it because these are my favourite sorts of tweets: strange little connections I make in my mind and then someone else joins in. People on the interwebs are far more clever than I. It's great to make connections with others, if only for a moment in time.

I must admit that I am looking forward to the upcoming long weekend. Not because I will be sleeping in, of course, but for the opportunity to set schedules aside, listen to some music, and find that path to peace.

15 January 2020

A Kind of Hush

It's been a challenging forecast this week. Monday night, when I had insomnia and was wandering around the house at 1 a.m., there was no snow falling or accumulated. But at 4:30 when I got up again, there were lots of fat, fluffy flakes to enjoy. I didn't realize it at first because I could hear the traffic outside and there were no changes to the speed of cars heading down the street.


There is very rarely much snow in this spot, but 20 miles to the north in the town where I work, there is often a different story. Tuesday was no exception. School was canceled. And while I was still expected to work, I decided to stay home until the sun was up. While I don't know what today will hold (I suspect it will be an icy morning and we may open late), I like remembering times when I can stay snuggled up at home and enjoy the peaceful view out the window.