Archive - Apr 2011

April 25th

A Middletown Romeo and Hester

When I first heard about the unresolved bullying in Middletown, CT, a couple thoughts came to mind. One was about what literature I would recommend to students dealing with bullying. There are a couple obvious choices, a few less obvious, and many more that I probably should have thought of but haven’t.

Heading off the list is Lord of the Flies. It is pretty obvious and I would be remiss not to include a quote from that great book.

Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man's heart, and the fall through the air of the true, wise friend called Piggy

Another book that came to my mind was The Scarlet Letter. The reason it came to mind is perhaps less obvious. I have a tendency to look at things from a systems sort of viewpoint. I suspect that bullying is rarely simply a few kids being mean to a few other kids. Instead, I suspect that it often reflects something else going on in the culture, some hidden sin.

Is there something like this taking place in Middletown? Is it playing itself out, not only in the battles with the Board of Education to get Monique a proper and safe education, but also in other aspects of Middletown, with concerns misappropriation of funds, battles between the Mayor’s office and the Board of Education, conflicts over the chief of police, and perhaps other unnamed battles?

Then, last week, there was a fatal shooting. Some have suggested that it has to do with other unresolved issues of bullying in the schools and perhaps in the town.

When I read about this, my mind went to another story people struggling with bullying should consider, Romeo and Juliet.

In the final scene, the Prince proclaims:

And I for winking at your discords too
Have lost a brace of kinsmen: all are punish'd.

I fear that until those in power stop winking at the discords in town, there will be more sadness to come.

A glooming peace this morning with it brings;
The sun, for sorrow, will not show his head:
Go hence, to have more talk of these sad things;
Some shall be pardon'd, and some punished:

April 24th

Roku Channel Review

Yesterday, my eldest daughter was visiting me, so I spent a little time trying to find some new Roku Private Channels that she would like. The, today, I received an email from my brother who has just gotten a Roku and wanted my thoughts on different private channels. With that, let me provide a review, in no particular order, of some of the Roku Channels I’ve played with.

Let me start off by highlighting a few different websites that list Roku Private channels. StreamTV provides a introduction of Roku Private channels, its own list of private channels and links to a couple other good sites.

From the StreamTV site, there are two sections that I like. One is the listing of live news streams. These include Al Jazeera, BBC, CNN International, and RT America. There is also CNN, but I like to watch CNN International better. There is also Russian TV News English. I haven’t really checked closely enough to see the difference between RT America and Russian TV News English. One other international news streaming site that I like is NHK in English. I found it on a different site, and the NHK private channel code is, NHK.

It is also from the StreamTV site that I found RoksBox. This is a channel that lets you play media from your home network. I kicked this around a little bit, and it seemed pretty nice. However, it does have a registration fee if you intend to keep using it, and at least right now, I’m not expecting to use it that much. Since I set that up, there are some new local streaming channels that StreamTV lists, and I may go back and revisit those options again later.

One new local streaming option is IPTVMyWay. I did a quick look at it, and it might be promising if it can work with Linux boxes.

Another interesting list of Roku Private channels is The Nowhere man. This list seems to point mostly to prerecorded streams. There is a Nowhereman channel, that has links to a lot of different prerecorded shows. They also list an Achieve.org channel and a Roku Newscaster channel. Each of these channels seems pretty similar. I haven’t really gone through to see how much they overlap or what is one which channel. However, each of these channels seems pretty good.

StreamTV also points to TheEndless listing of private Roku channels. These include Justin.tv, Sirius|XM and tv.com. The Sirius|XM channel had been flaky and I never tried it. I glanced at tv.com, but it didn’t really have any content I was interested. I’ve heard that sometimes you can find good stuff on Justin.tv, but haven’t seen anything good there yet.

My brother pointed me to Dragon Blogger’s post about finding roku private channels. It has a lot of the same channels that show up on other lists. It mentions the pod tv channel. I seem to recall looking at this and not being all that impressed. Perhaps because I’d spent time looking at a bunch of different channels that had similar content. It mentions the YouTube! channel, which is a great channel. It is probably the channel we watch next to the most. Most of our viewing is on Netflix. It mentions the Woot! channel. That really hasn’t been that interesting to us.

I also like to look at the Flickr channel, the Facebook channel and the Pandora channel from time to time and I’ve thought that a Roku for my mother might be good. We could set it up so she could see pictures and videos from various relatives.

As a final note, another channel that I like is TED tv. However, since most of the TED talks are also on YouTube, it is probably just as good to stick with the YouTube channel.

The other thing to remember is that you can only have about thirty channels, which seems to be a real limitation. So, I often delete one channel so I can add another. With that, my list of channels changes with some regularity.

All of that said, I don’t really watch that much TV and what I do watch is probably more eclectic than most, so you should really look at coming up with a good list of your own.

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April 23rd

Random Stuff

Kim’s brother was visiting for the holiday weekend, so we had dinner with the extended family last night. Fiona stayed over at Papa and Nanna’s house. This morning, we took Wesley over to Veteran’s Memorial Park in Bethany to romp with Kim’s brother’s dog. They had a great time. It turns out that we showed up at the same time as the ribbon cutting for the new pavilion there. I stopped and chatted with the folks there a little bit and ate a few cookies.

Today, the first episode of Dr. Who aired in the U.K. It will air here in the states this evening. Unfortunately, our cable company doesn’t carry BBC America, so I started looking for ways to stream it online. The best I could find was BBC’s iPlayer, which only works in the U.K. So, I spent a bit of time tweaking one of the computers so it would appear to be from the U.K. so Kim could watch it.

Beyond that, mostly I rested and cleaned. A rainy day in Woodbridge and Bethany.

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April 22nd

#ff @michaelcipi @vladkonce @HopeHealthInc @MBGreenwich @RobQuigley @RichQuigley @CrescendoCG @KatPowers @craigpsmith @CaitlinRD

This week’s Follow Friday post takes a different twist. I am going through the different twitter lists I’m on and highlighting some of the people that have listed me.

Starting off is @michaelcipi He describes himself as a SEO & Social Nerd @HunchFree and listed me as a Social-Samurai, “Social Media maestros, meeting place magicians, crowd source connoisseurs”. Thanks.

Next is @vladkonce. “Noetic Positivism”. His list is happy-new-world-1. Sounds interesting.

@HopeHealthInc has me on their list, health-center-info. We have a lot in common through the #chcchats.

@MBGreenwich has me on their Connecticut list.

The Quigley brothers, @RobQuigley @RichQuigley have me on several different lists about social media, techweb, top-content, and conversations. I mentioned them in a previous Follow Friday. Very interesting folks.

@CrescendoCG lists me in a Health Care Social Media (HCSM) list. Yup, that’s my job these days and I’m really appreciating connecting with others interested in this.

@KatPowers has me on two lists, New England and Media on Media. Kat describes herself as “Working on SEO, mom, mother, mommy, maman, gardner, garden, plants, spring, editor, newspapers, WickedLocal.com”. I’ve been following her on various social media sites for quite a while, and highly recommend her writing.

@craigpsmith lists me on Social Media Types. I just retweeted something he had retweeted about QR codes on campaign signs. Glad I found it from him.

@kurtgannon “Interactive Art Director at Jackrabbit Design in Hartford/ Boston” lists me on his Connecticut list and his marketing-pr-social-copy list.

@CaitlinRDoran lists me on her social media list. I met her at the Mayo Clinic social media conference in Florida and really enjoy reading what she writes.

I could go on and on, but that’s probably enough for this week. Happy Follow Friday everyone.

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April 21st

Special Education and Bullying

It has always been a tenet of American Education that students deserve a safe and appropriate educational environment, independent of any special needs that a student might have and there are various rules in place to protect this right. Yet sometimes these rules have to be used in new and creative ways to assure that a student gets the educational opportunity they deserve.

The first creative use of these rules was when a woman I knew who had a child with severe peanut allergies tried to get the school to make accommodations. The school balked and stonewalled until the woman brought in a disabilities act lawyer and the school came to understand that it would be much easier to comply than to fight. The school made some simple changes to its policies and the child managed to get an appropriate and safe education.

I’m now told that a similar legal maneuver might be taking place in a notorious bullying case here in Connecticut. In this case, the school district may be seeking to have the bullied student placed in special education. On the surface, this sounds offensive, especially from a school district that claims to have a zero tolerance for bullying. Requiring a safe classroom, free from bullying, shouldn’t be considered a special need. It is a need of all students. Suggesting that it is a special need seems to be an admission that the school is failing in its basic responsibilities to provide a safe, bullying-free environment.

On the other hand, it might also be an attempt to save face. By claiming that the student has a special need for a safe bullying-free environment, the administrators may be trying to assert that their environment is, in their minds, and perhaps even for most of the students, safe and bullying-free, while for the student in question, it is not.

Whether this is an admission of failure or an attempt to save face, there is a bigger issue, will the student get the education she needs and deserves? Given the actions of the school up to now, it would be easy to imagine that attempting to put the child in a special education setting might be seen as punishment. It may in fact be the case, if the school is saying that there are other special needs, beside protection from bullying. Yet one of the goals of special education these days is to ‘mainstream’ special needs students. This means having the students involved in as close to normal an education setting as possible.

If the school district can accomplish this, what they will essentially be doing is placing the student in a school where bullying is not an issue and where the same educational opportunities exist. It seems like that has been the goal of the family of the bullied student all along. If that is what the school district is seeking to do, then my thought is let them try to save face that way. Each one of us will decide whether we believe that the need to be in a bully-free environment is a special situation for the student or an admission of failure by the school district.

If, on the other hand, there is any whiff of a punitive approach where the student is not getting the same educational opportunities, then it would seem that the school district is acting in a foolhardy manner that will just end up increasing their legal fees and liabilities.