There are lots of great people in the world – We don’t hear about them enough!

I just got home from spending a few hours volunteering at the Catholic Charities Food Pantry in Franklinville, New York. Earlier this week, Paul Goodhand, local director of the pantry called and asked if I could volunteer today. I got to the pantry about 9:15 am and was greeted by many other volunteers all of whom come from our community and the surrounding towns. At 9:30 am the doors of the pantry opened and the clients who had signed up for a turkey and a box of groceries which included squash, apples, and other vegetables and canned good began to arrive. My job was to help carry these items to their cars or their apartments for those who lived nearby. I was very moved as we filled these orders and helped to bring a bright spot to the lives of those less fortunate.

We distributed fifty turkeys today and also some large roasting chickens along with boxes of fresh vegetables and canned pumpkin and more. One of the staff told me that the West Valley Demonstration Project had donated a total of three-hundred-sixty turkeys and nine tons of groceries that made this possible to the Catholic Charities of Western New York. The money to provide this wonderul gift came from a fund raiser at their work-site. This is a great story of compassion and empathy for the poor and less fortunate.


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EdCamp is a learning opportunity you cannot afford to miss

Saturday I attended my second EdCamp in the last two months. I learned some new things as a result. Furthermore I’m inspired by the teachers and administrators whom I met there. There was an eagerness to learn and share that’s frequently missing at formal conferences. In fact at most educational conferences that I’ve either attended or presented at, the flow of information is typically one way. It’s presenter to attendee. But at EdCamps the flow of information and expertise for that matter comes from all the participants. There is a sense of excitement that’s palpable, enthusiastic and authentic. The people who are drawn to EdCamps come from near and far. They come on their own time because they sincerely want to learn and grow professionally.

I’m energized by the grass roots nature of EdCamp. I spoke with Katie McFarland the organizer of EdCampFLX which I attended on Saturday and she said they had received a mini-grant from the EdCamp Foundation to assist with the program. The rest of the snacks, refreshments and prizes were donated. I’m encouraging other retired educators to get involved with EdCamp because you might be surprised by what you learn and maybe even what you can share. Saturday I came to share on open source and open educational resources and while those sessions were productive I learned about which I’m going to use myself and I’ve already shared it with my learning networks. I also taught a group of teachers how to create and use Twitter lists. I’m indebted to Christina Luce who first shared about EdCamp and whose enthusiasm for the movement invited my involvement. I’m looking forward to attending more EdCamps in the future and especially the one at Maine-Endwell in the April 9, 2016.


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Happy Birthday Mom

Today is my mother’s 89th birthday. I often reflect gratefully for her presence in my life. It was she who gave me life. What a wonderful gift she has been in my life and in the lives of my brothers and  sisters. Mom was born into a world that had not experienced the great depression yet. Life was never easy for her. She lost her father at four and spent her formative years living with my uncle and aunt. There were seven of them under one roof. In the days prior to social insurance situations like theirs were more common. Despite growing up with a single mom who had to work everyday in the court system of the City of New York my Mom managed to excel at home and in school. She graduated with honors and was awarded a scholarship to D’Youville College in Buffalo, New York where she moved in the fall of 1944. I’ve often thought of the rigors involved with going to college over four-hundred miles from your birth. In those days the only practical way from New York City to Buffalo was on the New York Central (now Amtrak).

She not only made that trip but met her professors and classmates and excelled like she did in every aspect of her life. She graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1947 with a major in Mathematics. She returned to New York City and enrolled in Fordham University where she earned a Masters in Mathematics a year later. She eventually returned to Buffalo in 1949 and began teaching Mathematics at D’Youville College. Like her mom, she was a trailblazing woman who faced a lot of adversity but she mastered it. Soon after that she met my father and they were married in 1951.  After he graduated from dental school in 1952,  she put her own career on hold as my brother and I arrived and six years later my sister. While caring for us she worked at my father’s side in his professional office and when his health declined and he eventually died she returned to the classroom to provide for us. Only rarely have I ever heard her complain about her life. In past few months she’s relocated all the way across the country and she’s been amazingly resilient with that transition too. Words are insufficient to convey the love and affection I have for her. I’ll just be content to wish her a happy birthday this day and hope for many more.

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All are welcome in this place

Today is the Feast of All Saints and it was a beautiful feast at that. The sun shone brightly and the temperature was a modest fifty degrees Fahrenheit which is a gift even in the first week of November in Western New York State. My wife said she wanted to accompany me to Mass at Mt. Irenaeus today. Diane doesn’t always go so it was a gift to have her in the car on our way to the Mountain as we call it. Mount IrenaeusWe rode along stopping briefly in the village of Cuba, New York and then on through Friendship and Nile and up the road to our destination. We stopped at the House of Peace to drop off the goodies Diane had prepared and then up the trail to Holy Peace Chapel we strode. As we walked we met others who were joining us for today’s liturgy. Those who come to the Mass each week are part of the Mount Irenaeus community and what a diverse community it is with college students from nearby Houghton College along with students from St. Bonaventure University. Then there are the resident friar community and people like Diane and I who journeyed here today. Today all of us gathered in the chapel were saints and that is what Fr. Dan Riley, OFM invited us to be in his homily. Diane and I have been coming here for over fifteen years now. We know most of the regulars and many of the students. Mount Irenaeus is less like church and more like community and that is what I dare say most of us come regardless or our age. Lyrics that we often begin our celebration with continue to resonate and describe this place.

Let us build a house where love is found
In water, wine and wheat:
A banquet hall on holy ground,
Where peace and justice meet.

Here the love of God, through Jesus,
Is revealed in time and space;
As we share in Christ the feast that frees us:

All are welcome, all are welcome,
All are welcome in this place. – Marty Haugen – All Are Welcome

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EdCamp is is an opportunity for learning you cannot afford to miss

I became aware of the EdCamp movement over a year ago through one of my Twitter contacts, Christina Luce. Since that time I’ve done a lot of reading about the EdCamp movement and I’ve been very impressed by what I have read. Recently I attended and participated in the EdCampCNY. I found it refreshing to be sitting around talking with professionals about solutions to everyday educational needs. I recently learned that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded the EdCamp Movement two million dollars to continue this seminal work and to grow the movement. Because of my positive experiences with EdCamp I’ll be attending another EdCamp next week in Canandaigua, New York. Like all EdCamps it’s free and you can register by following this link.

Edcamp is a form of unconference designed specifically for teachers and their needs.  Unlike traditional conferences which have schedules set months in advance by the people running the conference, edcamp has an agenda that’s created by the participants at the start of the event. Participants attending the conference are encouraged to have discussions and hands-on sessions. Sponsors don’t have their own special sessions or tables, all of the space and time are reserved for the things the participants want to talk about.

Built on principles of connected and participatory learning, edcamp strives to bring educators together to talk about the things that matter most to them.  Educators who attend edcamp can choose to lead sessions based on their passions, interests and questions, with an expectation that the people in the room will work together to build understanding by sharing their own knowledge, experience and questions. — Kristen Swanson in Edutopia

Learn more about the EdCamp Movement here.

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Once again Linux to the rescue of a Windows 8.1 machine

A former colleague has a Windows 8.1 computer that had been overtaken by trojans, worms and spyware and was not working well at all. Last week his wife called and asked if I could fix it. I agreed to take a look at it. I downloaded an anti-virus rescue disk that ran on Linux. I couldn’t get the proprietary anti-virus to work but I was able to install Clam anti-virus and install the latest definitions. I discovered in the process that the system needed to be rebuilt using it’s recovery partition. However, none of the factory installed backup solutions worked. I decided I would use a Linux USB drive to boot the computer and save the user’s important files. However, upon re-booting with Linux none of the Windows partitions were mountable. Thank God for an internet search and I was able a way to mount the Windows drive and backup the files. Here is the solution that saved my friend’s files.  Thank you to the person who shared this and here’s hoping this helps someone else.

using the following command , get info about your drives


Then mount the drives using following command

sudo ntfsfix /dev/sda1

Here sda1 is used as example , replace sda1 with corresponding sda number ,command 1 gives the sda number of your drive

and remember windows drives are of ntfs partition

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If you’re in EdTech You Need to Come to All Things Open Next Year

Today while I was at the All Things Open Conference I thought,  “we need more educational technology people here.” There is a wealth of information shared about open source projects and technologies and most of them should be on the radar of anyone that’s teaching today’s students. This morning I listened to an excellent presentation by Mark Russinovitch who is the CTO of Microsoft Azure. Mark spent about thirty minutes explaining the what and why of Microsoft’s involvement with Linux kernel development and it s presence in other open source software projects including Python.

In 2015 it is irresponsible not to expose students to Linux and open source and most of today’s internet of things and cloud applications run on open source platforms.  In fact in one of the sessions I attended at this year’s conference there was a seventh grade boy from a Raleigh, NC area school district. He was so engaged in the presentation that he asked the presenter a very good question at the end of her presentation.

Throughout the conference I heard great presentations from the National Center for Women in Information Technology, Girl DevelopIT, GitHub 101, and Openstack 101. My personal favorite among all those sessions which were most appropriate to educational technology was Charlie Reisinger’s lightning talk about his one-to-one Linux laptop program at Penn Manor High School in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Charlie said that today’s students who are often called digital natives risk their futures by failing to learn skills that are highlighted in the program at Penn Manor which emphasizes hands on work with assembling and supporting Linux laptops. Many well meaning school districts undercut their students learning by forcing them to use tablets and other closed systems which don’t allow students to learn by tinkering and coding.

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