Category Archives: Life

Nebo is Famous!

My cousin Chris Jones who graduated from MHS back in the 80s sent this to his mom (my aunt) who in turn sent it to me. It’s an interview with Danny DeVito about a movie called Death to Smoochy in which Mr. DeVito mentions Nebo, NC!

The conversation starts about 3 minutes in and ends about 6 minutes in. 

Nebo is famous!


Sneakers (1992) Movie Guide

Sneakers (1992) Movie Poster

Sneakers (1992) Movie Poster

As a graduate school requirement, my wife and I were given the option to create a detailed movie guide. After much time and effort, we have achieved the following movie guide for the 1992 movie, Sneakers starring Robert Redford, Sidney Poitier, David Strathairn, Dan Aykroyd, River Phoenix, Mary McDonnell, and Ben Kingsley.


The activities in this guide align with the ISTE National Educational Technology Standards (NETS). Focus areas are in computers, information skills, and technology literacy. This study guide is intended for grades 9 – 12, but can be used with other grade levels. These activities can be modified as needed by the teacher based on student aptitude and prior knowledge. Sneakers is rated PG-13 for brief sexual references.

This movie guide is 17 pages long and follows Gavriel Salomon’s Interaction of Media and Cognition and Learning (1979) model called AIME, the Amount of Invested Mental Energy. Teachers should follow the AIME strategy when implementing this study guide to maximize the educational learning potential and understanding for students.

Movie Overview

Sneakers is a light-hearted heist movie with plenty of comedy and romance about computers, hacking, ethics, government espionage, security, secrets, cryptography, deception, betrayal, and little black boxes. The characters model critical thinking skills and creative thinking about technology. On an ethical level, it’s an account of how computers have changed our daily lives both for the better and for the worse.

Despite the fact that its debut was back in 1992, Sneakers has aged surprisingly well. The surveillance techniques and other technical aspects that appear in the movie can still be found today nearly two decades later. One wonders how this movie got so much so right so early.

Plot Synopsis

Marty is the leader of an unlikely team of professional computer hackers that hire themselves out to company executives in order to test their company security systems. This happens to be a real job called Sneaking (as opposed to Hacking, Cracking, or Phreaking) hence the title.

Based in San Francisco, the team is contacted by two NSA agents who want them to steal a top-secret black box containing a homemade computer chip capable of breaking any secret code. The team decides to accept the job and eventually acquires the black box.

Once they discover what the chip is capable of doing, they become entanglement in a deadly game of cat-and-mouse between the National Security Agency and organized crime who also want possession of the chip. They end up handing the chip over to the wrong people and must recover it to clear their good names and prevent themselves from going to jail inside the high-stakes world of government espionage.


Photo Gallery

The SLANT Method for Student Engagement

SLANT is an acronym for 5 common visual indicators of student engagement. The indicators are:

  • Sit up
  • Lean forward
  • Ask questions about the topic
  • Nod your head
  • Track the teacher with your eyes

Generally speaking, students who exhibit even one of these 5 indicators during a lesson are engaged in the topic. This can also be generalized to any speaking situation with participants.

This sounds like a good thing to put up on the wall of my classroom.

Warren Buffett: The Rich Need to Pay More Taxes

Billionaire Tells Congress the Tax Code Is Unfair to Lower-Income Americans
ABC News

An honest rich man! On national news, no less! Jesus talked about these kinds of people as being extremely rare in Matthew 19:23-26:

23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. 24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. 25 When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? 26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. (KJV)

Do you think you’ll ever hear about someone like this again? And regardless of your political persuasion this IS a commentary on the current political situation. It seems to me that the American people, particularly those of faith, have a very difficult decision this election.

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing” – attributed to Edward Burke

Sleeping Through the Night

My baby daughter is finally sleeping through the night now. The first night would have been September 13th, but my wife had to get up to change her diaper at about 5:30 AM. So that one doesn’t count.

On September 14th, however, neither of us had to get up! The little one went to bed about 11 PM and stayed in the bed until about 6 AM when my wife and I had to get up to get ready for work. Mind you, we had to put her pacifier back in her mouth during the night when she would start wiggling which woke us up, but we did not have to get up out of the bed until morning came.

What a sweet thing it is to stay in the bed through the night!

School: 1957 vs 2007

Scenario 1

Alex gets a headache and takes some aspirin to school.

1957 – Alex shares aspirin with Principal out on the smoking dock.

2007 – Police called, Alex expelled from school for drug violations. Car searched for drugs and weapons.

Scenario 2

Johnny and Mark get into a fistfight after school.

1957 – Crowd gathers. Mark wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up buddies.

2007 – Police called, SWAT team arrives, Johnny and Mark arrested, charged with assault. Both expelled even though Johnny started it.

Scenario 3

Jeffrey won’t be still in class, disrupts other students.

1957 – Jeffrey sent to office and given a good paddling by the Principal. Returns to class, sits still and does not disrupt class again.

2007 – Jeffrey given huge doses of Ritalin, becomes a zombie, tested for ADD. School gets extra money from state because Jeffrey has a disability.

Scenario 4

Suzie falls while running during recess and scrapes her knee. She is found crying by her teacher, Richard. Richard hugs her to comfort her.

1957 – In a short time, Suzie feels better and goes on playing.

2007 – Richard is accused of being a sexual predator and loses his job. He faces 3 years in State Prison.  Suzie undergoes 5 years of therapy.

Scenario 5

Jack goes quail hunting before school, pulls into school parking lot with shotgun in gun rack.

1957 – Vice Principal comes over, looks at Jack’s shotgun, goes to his car and gets out his shotgun to show Jack.

2007 – School goes into lockdown, FBI called. Jack hauled off to jail and never sees his truck or gun again. Counselors called in for traumatized students and teachers.

Scenario 6

Zack is walking home, trips on a skateboard left by another student in the school yard, and injures his leg. He cries out in pain.

1957 – Zack is sent to the nurse’s office where he is given a band-aid and an aspirin. The principal then gives Zack a ride home.

2007 – The principal calls 911 and Zack’s parents. Zack is rushed to the hospital and given emergency surgery. This causes chronic phantom pain in Zack’s leg and nightmares. Zack undergoes physical therapy for 4 months and sues the school for 2 million dollars plus his medical bills. Zack wins the lawsuit and decides to attend private school. Zack’s former principal is fired, goes on a blacklist, and can never hold a job in education again. The school Zack used to attend is boarded up due to insufficient funding and community ridicule.

Scenario 7

Pedro fails high school English.

1957 – Pedro goes to summer school, passes English, goes to college.

2007 – Pedro’s cause is taken up by state. Newspaper articles appear nationally explaining that teaching English as a requirement for graduation is racist. ACLU files class action lawsuit against state school system and Pedro’s English teacher. English banned from core curriculum. Pedro given diploma anyway but ends up mowing lawns for a living because he cannot speak English.

Scenario 8

Travis takes apart leftover firecrackers from 4th of July, puts them in a model airplane paint bottle, and blows up a red ant nest.

1957 – Ants die.

2007 – Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Homeland Security, FBI called. Travis charged with domestic terrorism. FBI investigates family. Siblings removed from home. Computers confiscated. Travis’ Dad goes on a terror watch list and is never allowed to fly again.

Scenario 9

Billy breaks a window in his neighbor’s car and his Dad gives him a whipping with his belt.

1957 – Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal, goes to college, and becomes a successful businessman.

2007 – Billy’s dad is arrested for child abuse.  Billy is removed to foster care and joins a gang.  State psychologist tells Billy’s sister that she remembers being abused herself and their dad goes to prison.  Billy’s mom has affair with psychologist.

Name Tags in Picasa

Alvin Trusty posted about Picasa Name Tags on his blog called Alvin’s Educational Technology Blog. Well, I was in a position to take a look having just gotten some photos of my daughter uploaded and organized in Picasa as a Web Album.

Now, you have to turn this feature on in your Settings. After this, a button will appear on the right-hand side of the page. Click it to start processing your photos for faces. It took about 3-4 minutes to process about 175 photos I had uploaded. I’ve got to say my results were mixed. Different lighting situations that the photos were taken under seems to throw off the face matching. But that’s OK! It did match most of the faces correctly and I found that the first suggestion of a face it wasn’t sure about was always correct.

My biggest complaint had to do with the face of my daughter. She’s about 2 months old and the program didn’t match her face that well, but what can you expect from a brand new technology and photos of a newborn going back to her birth? It also matched a pacifier she happened to have in her mouth as a face!

Clearly the technology isn’t perfected, but it’s still one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen and it worked well enough for me to identify the faces it couldn’t very quickly. (A quick word of advice: when adding people to pictures remember to position the frame over the person’s face BEFORE selecting the person’s name. If you need to delete the outline click the X in the People section on the right-hand side of the screen. You have to click X once to remove the name and a second time to remove the frame.) Google continues to push the limits of what’s possible. I am quite impressed with this new feat. It’s definitely a feature I plan to leave on.

[Update!] The Picasa 3 Beta is out! They’ve probably included this new technology in the new version!

YouTube Video: Picasa Web Albums: Introducing name tags