Ian Tyson

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Tom & I saw Ian Tyson at the Tractor Tavern night before last. We went in with tempered expectations –Mr. Tyson is after all 76 years of age– but came out believers. The clear baritone that intoned ‘Four Strong Winds’ in 1964 with Sylvia Fricker (later Tyson) is gone, but has lost none of its strength or accuracy. Ian Tyson can still hit his notes –even the high ones– but now he hits them with a bucket full of gravel.

If you’re a fan and get a chance to see him, you won’t be disappointed.

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Guerilla Online Education

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I encountered this tidbit on the Microsoft Blog in the P-I this morning:

In a major milestone for the tech industry, the Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday voted to adopt Web-based Google Apps as the replacement for the city government’s aging e-mail and Internet services.

The tentative approval also marks a victory for Google over Microsoft, the leader in productivity software with Outlook, Exchange, Word and other applications. Each company spent tens of thousands of dollars in lobbying, though the Redmond-based software giant handily outspent its Silicon Valley rival.

In fact, the final decision was between Google and services provided by open-source leader Novell, said Gail Thomas-Flynn, Microsoft’s vice president of U.S. state and local government.

I’ve been advocating the adoption of free or low-cost web-based applications for distance learning scenarios since I started teaching online. Having experienced Blackboard, ANGEL & Wimba I feel like the bulk of the functionality there can be duplicated for pennies (comparatively) using free or low-cost online applications like the Google suite of tools, free discussion board platforms like phpBB, and video- and telecommunications packages like Skype or the AOL Instant Messenger/iChat.

I’m working in a graduate program populated by telecommuting visiting scholars & distance learning students. We’re preparing to rely on our in-house IT operation fairly heavily to leverage ANGEL & Wimba into our way of teaching. What if we conducted the bulk of our IT operations in the public workspace, with a minimal office footprint for records, live help, and organizational interface with the university? That convergences of teachers and learners develop spontaneously online is axiomatic (e.g. any number of advice, help, discussion bulletin boards). Could a community of educators set a target (create a curriculum), populate the pathway to its achievement with esteemed teachers, and conduct the course of study ‘in the clear,’ without the benefits of association with a university at all? As attracted as we all are to TLAs, can such a program establish its legitimacy without accreditation? Could the eminence of the assembled faculty deliver sufficient gravitas?

Ohiyesa on silence

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“The first American mingled with his pride a singular humility. Spiritual arrogance was foreign to his nature and teaching. He never claimed that the power of articulate speech was proof of superiority over dumb creation. On the other hand, it is to him a perilous gift. He believes profoundly in silence– the sign of a perfect equilibrium. Silence is the absolute poise or balance of body, mind and spirit. The man who preserves his selfhood is ever calm and unshaken by the storms of existence–not a leaf, as it ever, astir on the tree; not a ripple upon the surface of the shining pool–his, in the mind of the unlettered sage, is the ideal attitude and conduct of life.

“If you ask him: “What is silence?” he will answer: “It is the Great Mystery!” “The holy silence is His voice!” If you ask: “What are the fruits of silence?” he will say: “They are self-control, true courage or endurance, patience, dignity, and reverence. Silence is the cornerstone of character.”

Ohiyesa (Charles Alexander Eastman). The Soul of the Indian. Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1911.

Some recent photos of the kidlings

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Seattle

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The National Resources Defense Council ranks Seattle their #1 large city overall on a variety of green living criteria including air quality, energy production & conservation, environmental standards & participation, green building, green space, recycling, transportation, standard of living, and water quality & conservation. Does this mean we do a better job of mitigating the environmental problems we cause? Does it mean we cause fewer environmental problems? I like to think it shows there’s a place in America where people are still committed to applying collective muscle to solving collective problems.

Last days

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Last days in Grenada. Spent the morning Saturday with Far-I Delves at Roots Rock Record Shop in downtown St. George’s, picking up six great original compilation CDs in the process. Sick as a dog and sweating through my shirt the whole time, I sucked on a series of oranges at Delves’ insistence until my terrible headache finally burned through, then Frankie & I rolled back up to Grand Anse around noon. I spent the next ten hours in and out of bed, in and out of intense pain.

Yesterday was picture perfect. I spent the morning packing the big bag, getting a sense of just how much/little I really have to carry, then headed to the beach to hang with John, Claire, & Caleb by the sound system at the Lazy Days. Spent an hour bobbing in the swells, then roasted my salty self like a pumpkin seed on the beach until after sunset. Clouds well to the west prevented a sighting of the elusive green flash. Dinner with the people & Desmond at the Lexus Inn began with a litany of all the items they didn’t have available for purchase and concluded with a greasy, delicious pepperoni pizza. The place has a million-dollar view. The walk home was as short as we always imagined. I was out like a light in no time.

Lots of bus riding. Lots of brother-greeting. Lots of sun, work, and peace. Before the week is out I’ll be back in cool old Seattle, wondering if this year was all a dream.

Lion of Judah

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At the Lion King bar by Morne Rouge Beach, this piece of plywood adorned with the image of the Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah is now being used to keep a load of crushed gravel from washing down the drainage slough when it rains. Signs of Rasta & pan-African consciousness are everywhere if you just look.

Lion of Judah
Lion of Judah