not . even . failure

It’s within us, right?

Where do you look for answers? Do you turn to an index of people? Who’s in your index? Family? Friends? Colleagues? Classmates? Physicians? Again, where do you look for answers?

I not so long ago took a trip with my friend Andrew that put the two of us—friends since high school—into a car for eight days. In total, we drove 2,020 miles through California. Our trip was pretty much a big u-turn: We drove the 1 until reaching Eureka, then cut east through Redding and Tahoe, where we then sauntered on down the 395 until we somehow made it home in one piece (plus a souvenir from the California Highway Patrol).

I posit that a week on the road offers anyone some worthy time to think; thus, I thought a lot on my trip. After thinking, I more or less felt like this:

David After Dentist

Now, don’t think that David’s response is a poor one because, as you’ve experienced, we’ve all been there—Level 10. Come on, you know the place. And it’s okay to be there. But it’s not okay to stay there.

From what Ron Finley explained at TED2013, he left Level 10 to find answers to his problem—food deserts of South Central Los Angeles. As Finley illustrates throughout his speech, he took the first steps to lead himself to a better place. Yet, as Finley’s further explains, it wasn’t he alone who made changes.

Ron Finley: A Guerrilla Gardener in South Central LA

Education has turned into a desert of sorts. It’s full of many mirages and void of watersheds. It’s full of truth seekers and naysayers. It’s a place full of Davids and even fewer Ron Finleys. But there are gardens to be planted, and successful online education can be one of them.

Both David and Finley emphasize and represent trends that I see in Education: fear and hope. The gap between can be bridged by we being smarter and more savvy like Finley. Moreover, we can also let our anger out like David so that we gauge the size of our problems.

Ron Finley’s TED2013 speech reveals that problems beget solutions when opportunity is grasped. As The Online Teaching Survival Guide and Essentials of Online Course Design detail, we must identify issues and work to solve them in order to improve eduation.

Plant a garden. Scream in your dad’s car. Start an online course. Vent it out. But, please, leave Level 10 and find an answer to what you’ve been thinking about.

A guerilla gardener in South Central LA. (n.d.). Retrieved May 07, 2016, from

Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2010). The online teaching survival guide: Simple and practical pedagogical tips. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

B. (2009). David After Dentist. Retrieved May 07, 2016, from

Vai, M., & Sosulski, K. (2011). The essential guide to online course design: A standards-based approach. London: Routledge.

Seeing the forest. Seeing the trees.

IMG_5096I spent eight days and seven nights of my Spring Break traveling around California. The trip was fantastic, one of the more memorable experiences of this early 2016. But it can be hard to measure the value of a trip when one isn’t quite sure of the rubric.

As an example, here’s some of the hard data from my trip: 2,020 miles traveled; 5 campsites visited;  $900 in gas and food and lodging and hammock expenses.

But what’s difficult to communicate are the ephemeral moments during the journey. Take, for example, seeing Hearst Castle. Granted the place is beautiful, but seeing a California condor soaring high above the famed Neptune Pool was incredibly. Was it on the brochure? Nope. But that’s it, the unplanned moments that help one take a step back and see a bigger picture about an experience are rarely prescribed.

I have as much of a disdain for the unoriginal and often tread upon as I have adoration for sincerity and authenticity. But what do you do when the two are mixed? Consider Chandelier Drive-Thru Tree in Leggett. What’s exciting about driving through a tree? Here’s a video to illustrate what is exciting about driving through a tree:

Yes, driving through a tree is easy to do; but it’s the time and company that makes all the difference. It’s what you do with the opportunity.

My students will soon be writing an essay that lacks a rubric. The essay won’t lack context, though. Daniel Coffeen, writer of the blog An Emphatic Umph, wrote a piece called “Teaching Critical Writing” about how difficult it is for students to see the forest and the trees throughout their writing maturation. My students have worked all year to get here—to a place where they can explore their arguments while being free to explore a rubric’less composition. But their AP exam lurks around the corner at a month away.

Should I send my students out into a dense forest that so stands in contrast to the sort of writing The College Board lauds? What do I do? I don’t know. But I do know one can’t get out of the forest if they never get into it in the first place.

Here’s to road trips. Here’s to writing.


Keep Staring


I’m nowhere near sure what Levitated Mass, an exhibit/installation, at LACMA means. I read its blurb, but what’s the fun in being handed an answer?

Speaking of answers, I’m looking for a few tonight. I think it’s only fitting too because I’m learning how to be an Information Scientist. But, unfortunately, the answers I’m looking for aren’t found online. They aren’t even found on a bookshelf, or in library for that matter.

Time has the answers; and as unfulfilling as that idea is tonight, it’ll be rewarding when I find the answers.

Keep staring at art because in time the answers will come to you as long as you’re the one asking the questions.

Go! Now, Are You Ready?


I ran track my first two years of high school, but I never thought of myself as being fast. Looking back on those days brings to mind one important lesson: Focus on what you can and do it.

After only taking six days off this summer, I resumed work in the library four weeks ago. Like it always is this time of year, work’s busy–like, 12+ hours a day busy. I also moved this weekend. I’ll move again in another few months. Then I started my library schooling this past week too. There are other things going on, but I can’t remember them right now.

And it’s all fitting together, these new races I’m in, because it’s time to focus on what I can do and do it.

I’m not looking to run sprints or relays to avoid being yelled at these days. Rather, I’m looking to do well and learn another important life lesson.

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