I started playing with Google+ a couple of days ago. It’s hard to tell until I build things up a bit but so far I like what I see.

The coolest thing so far is hooking back up with some photoblog friends from a few years ago. This, that and the other has gotten me far away from regular posting on the old Panhandlin’ photoblog so I had lost touch with some really great people. I learned so much and made new friends from around the world with that blog and I didn’t really appreciate it until it was gone. (original huh:)

But maybe it’s not gone. I’m forming a circle of photography friends on G+ and I quickly remembered why I loved them so much. I don’t know what will happen with this new toy but I’ve already gotten something pretty cool out of it.

Android Holga at the Beach

I am intrigued and inspired by the constant barrage of instant images. Cameras are everywhere and what a photographic image means is evolving. Images from cell phones that are at times mundane and at times wonderful. Digital images made to resemble their antique, analog ancestors. Is it cheating? Is it fair game? Does anyone care about the how as long as the end product is an excellent image.

What an amazing wave to ride and what a journey to discover and create with new options.

Exponential Times

The tools I use daily to earn a living did not exist when I was a younger and trying to decide what to do with my life. A form of my current job was around then but so completely different I’m not sure I would have the ability or the desire to do it.

Today, things are moving even faster. The real world is light years ahead of our current education system and the gap widens every day. I have some ideas about how best to prepare my daughters for the future but there are still far more questions than answers.

A form of this video has been floating around for a year or two but this newer version still drives the point home.

Did you Know? 3.0

TED

One of my favorite web sites in the whole world wide interweb is TED. Back in my college days, I changed majors a lot. Engineering, English, Pre-Law, Psychology, Broadcasting. It’s perhaps telling that my favorite classes back in those days were broad survey courses where I learned big ideas about big subjects. Once it got down to the nitty-gritty details, I lost interest and moved on to something else. Eight years all total and I still ended up a few credit hours short of graduating.

It drove my family crazy back then. My lovely wife even suggested I needed therapy. She was probably right. But looking back, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Even now, if I could just go back and take classes without worrying about grades or graduating, I’d do it. I just love that feeling of sitting in a lecture hall and having a world of new ideas open up before my eyes. That’s where TED comes in. It’s like getting to sit in on lectures from the greatest minds in the world. From the about page:

TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from those three worlds. Since then its scope has become ever broader. The annual conference now brings together the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes).

It’s an awesome collection. Here’s one of my favorites from the 2006 conference.

Sir Ken Robinson: Do Schools Kill Creativity

Many more gems at www.ted.com

Somewhat related to this subject is a book I’ve written about in the past: A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink.

Welcome to Furious Fireflies. I’ve got a small About Page worked out so check it out. I’m kicking this thing off with a bit of a rant but if that kind of thing turns you off, don’t worry. My rants are few and far between and this place will hopefully be a smile maker instead curmudgeon’s corner. Hopefully even the rants will be smile makers.

Middle School Blues

My daughter is in middle school. There. I said it. I just need to face it and move on. She’ll be fine. She’s a bright kid and we stay involved so she’ll be fine. It doesn’t matter that she’s suddenly surrounded by hundreds of kids who are hormonal tornadoes. Kids whose bodies are maturing well before their brains. She’ll be fine.

I kept telling myself this as we prepared for the school year. We looked into different schools in the area and across the board, middle schools were the worst. We told ourselves it was just the age. Kids going through all the things that kids go through at this age just have a hard time focusing on school. Focusing on anything for that matter.

But then middle school went from being a far away, abstract idea to a reality. OMG (Trying to learn the language.) Now it was time for “orientation” at the school. We would see the place in person and our fears would melt away. The turnout was great. The cafetorium was packed. This is a good sign. Maybe all these parents are as worried as we are. We were in this together. Let’s get this thing started. Let’s let the fine teachers and administrators put our minds at ease. We are ready to put our children in your hands.

“Hello parents. Great to see such a big turnout. We’re going to have a great year. Before we get started our school jazz band will entertain you.” (I’m not making this up) Horn section: da da da….da da…..da da da…. da da…..da da da…

Louie Louie!?!?!? Are you kidding me?!?! We kick this thing off with a frat house theme song. We’re sending our kids to Animal House! Here’s where it went from there. Introductions of the teachers and staff with brief comments. When the Media Specialist was introduced, she came to the front and couldn’t figure out how to TURN ON THE MIC! The MEDIA SPECIALIST! Then the cheerleaders came out to fire up the crowd. Not with “2 bits, 4 bits, 6 bits a dollar…” but with a dance number in the tradition of the Laker Girls, including the grinding and booty shaking. Great for the Laker Girls. I’m a fan of the genre. But twelve year old girls! This IS Animal House.

And the parents we were “in this together” with. During the tour of the classrooms, I actually heard a mom trying to talk her daughter OUT of taking a science class that the little girl wanted to take because the mom said it would be too much work. OMG. What kind of rabbit hole did I fall into? I left the orientation feeling disoriented.

Spring forward a few weeks. We’ve had some time to adjust and while it’s far from perfect, she seems to be doing well. She has learned a variety of curse words. The ones I had not inadvertently taught her already. She’s witnessed three fights. Young boys being young boys I tell myself. Her grades are great but the work seems far from challenging. At the Open House we had a chance to meet her teachers and talk briefly. She has her favorites and not so favorites but they all seem to be good people and good teachers.

I’m more and more convinced it’s the system that’s broken. While the age of the students is indeed a big factor, things could be much better. They’re on a massive ship with an enormous crew but they’re heading in the wrong direction. Changing course on the USS Bureaucratic Mess however, is a long slow process even under the best of circumstances. And these are not the best of circumstances.

She’ll be fine. I know. I on the other hand, may lose my mind.

One more funny. At the Open House last week, there were tables set up with info about different groups and clubs on campus. We were invited to check out the Anti Drug and Alcohol booth. This is good. Drugs are bad. Especially at this age. At this booth there was a special offer. They were trying to get people to sign what I think was an “I won’t do drugs” pledge. Sounds good. There was even the possibility of winning a prize if you signed up. If you were the lucky one picked in the no drugs lottery, you won a gift card to STARBUCKS!

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