Saturday, February 25, 2017

Visiting Hawaii Part 1

Our recent visit to Hawaii was absolutely amazing, possibly transformative, and a  just in time opportunity.   For a few years now,  we had considered the possibility of visiting Hawaii, and since the concept of “vacation’  is not one that comes easy to me, I have been keeping an eye out for work related opportunities in Hawaii.  

Thus I was quick to notice when a fellow Google Certified Trainer/Educator, Michael Fricano announced a call for proposals to present at the 2017  IGNITE Innovation Conference.

A quick look at our calendar revealed that these dates might work for us, and I submitted a few possible workshop ideas.  As soon as the conference  committee accepted my proposal, Design Thinking and Computational Thinking with Makey Makey, I started to plan our trip.

Since much of my focus lately has been around maker centered learning,  I started to search for makerspaces and schools that were interested in making as a way of learning on Oahu.   What I found was a very welcoming group of educators who allowed me to truly understand that ALOHA  was so much more than a greeting!   According to Hawaiian culture expert, Peter Apo
Aloha has emerged as a Hawaiian cultural concept that functions as a prism through which all other behavioral values that govern relationships are refracted .

Aloha, while having many manifestations, essentially is an unconditional extension of love, trust, and friendship giving the benefit of the doubt to the receiver. It is a particularly magnanimous cultural act in it’s intimacy as a personal greeting that is routinely extended to strangers which sets aside personal boundaries and welcomes the receiver into one’s personal space.   ~ Hawaiian Values and the Workplace

I had no idea that I was about to experience the most amazing feeling of Aloha - especially the part where my hosts would welcome us in their personal spaces!  The sense of welcome continues to fill me, back on the mainland, in a way that I can’t quite describe.  I feel that something transformational happened to me during this visit!  

And part of that  transformation was most probably due to the Hawaiian value of ALAKA‘I— the value of leadership. According to leadership coach, Rosa Say
ALAKAI is demonstrated when you “Lead with initiative, and with your good example. You shall be the guide for others when you have gained their trust and respect.” ~ Managing with Aloha
Throughout our visit we were to be introduced to amazing examples of leadership that earned our respect with their standards of excellence that exuded Hawaiian cultural values
-- values that I had not yet read about
-- values that I got to know by experiencing them
-- values that I found myself wanting to know more about

And since my visit to Hawaii I’ve been reading more about these Hawaiian values to better understand what I experienced during our recent visit.

Perhaps because I’m in the middle of teaching my University of Vermont course on Ed Tech Leadership..
Perhaps because I’m struggling with the divisive political culture of our nation...
Perhaps because I’m in a personal inquiry of how to balance my many passions in this stage of  my life/career...

Whatever the reason… I feel that this trip to Hawaii was a transformational ‘just in time’ experience.

It will probably take me a few blog posts to digest and reflect  on our visits to

  • Iolani School where maker-educators Michael Fricano and Matt Dillon lead us on tours of the maker spaces at both the elementary school and the high school
  • Kailua Elementary School where ed tech leader, Greg Kent, gave us a tour of his classroom/maker space and the gardens surrounding the school providing numerous opportunities of problem finding that a school makerspace can support

  • Oahu Makerspace where residential maker, Ross Mulai,  shared his expertise as he lead us around a community makerspace located in the industrial section of Honolulu near the airport

  • Numerous eateries and the most beautiful tourist attractions ranging from the powerful surf in Shark’s Cove of the North Shore  to the colorful fish we found snorkeling in the Hanauma Bay

Shark's Cove

Hanauma Bay

Even though the blog post on each of these visits are in progress,  I’ve been busy applying much of what I’ve learned and experienced to my current work supporting Vermont educators in their own pursuit of excellence in our schools to better serve our students.   In the next few weeks, I’ll be following up with additional blog posts  about the various parts of my learnings from our time in Hawaii.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

A Roadside Repair

So much to write about after spending the past 10 days on a Hawaiian adventure,  but today  I’m going to skip past all that and  write briefly about how impressed I was with how Craig handled our first truly mechanical breakdown ‘on the road”.   With the exception of the flat tire on the tow dolly, this is the first time we’ve had the “Oh Crap” moment while driving the BlueBird.  It started with a cling cling cling in the engine area while we were climbing up the Kumewaay Highway about 20 miles before Alpine, California.

Craig quickly pulled the bus over onto the shoulder.  I climbed out and could clearly hear the clinging coming from the front grill.  When I got back into the bus, Craig had the doghouse opened and it was steaming!

I knew there was not much I could do but stay out of the way as he pulled out the toolbox and went to work!  I was totally amazed.  I was worried that he would burn himself as I watched the steam float to the ceiling.  I almost brought him a T-shirt so he didn’t ruin his new Hawaiian shirt, but decided against it.    Instead I brought him some paper towel to wipe off the sweat dripping from his brow.  He was grunting and groaning as he removed parts and tried to get into contorted positions that this repair required.  An hour or so later,  he explained to me that a bolt had broken that secured the alternator.  He was able to successfully retrieve the broken part and create a makeshift mechanism to hold the Alternator back in place from an Allen Wrench without interfering with any of the other working parts of the engine and fan!  

To me it was nothing short of Magic!  
How did he  even know where to look to find the problem?   
How did he think of a solution?  
How did he feel empowered enough to feel confident that his solution would hold well enough for us to drive away and not do more damage!  

Craig had said many times - that if the engine blew on the bus, that would probably be the end of the bus, since the  repair cost would be more than the cost of the bus. So I knew this was a high stakes repair.

Craig has also said many times - the bus is his maker project!  I’ve seen him tinker on this project or that project from fixing the water pump to designing a solar system for the roof of the bus.   But none of these jobs had been on the side of the road with vehicles whizzing by and none of them had happened at a point of physical exhaustion after a sleepless night.  We had just taken a red-eye from Hawaii and driven 100 miles in the jeep to retrieve the Bus from the long term storage area in Holtville (our last camping venue).

Well after our impromptu 2 hour repair project,  we pulled back on the highway.  By then it was obvious that darkness would soon be upon us, so we decided to forego our plans to arrive at our Oceanside Campsite and pulled into  the Veijas Casino and resort in Alpine, California about 20 miles down the road. (Yeah for free parking!)   This amazing man  got what he needed next -- a big hunk of prime rib, a tall beer, and a good nights sleep!

All I could think of is “I have married the most amazing man! You are my super hero!"
I have always known Craig to be a very capable patient man.  But I have often wondered what would happen if we got into a situation like this!  Well if this was a test - Craig passed with flying colors!

The bus is now snuggly parked in Guajorne County Park in  Oceanside, California AND we have electric hook-ups  for the first time since we left Tucson over two months ago.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Connecting with Today

I can’t believe it’s  been two months since I’ve written an entry in our travel blog.  Actually I’ve written several entries  (in my head)  but circumstances have not been conducive to getting them out on the blog.   This morning,  I’m feeling compelled to break the pattern of writing blog posts in my head, and get my thoughts out on ‘digital’ paper.

I’m afraid that that my thoughts are a bouncing all over the place this morning.  Hoping that writing a bit will help ground me today.  

The bus is parked in Quartizite, Arizona with a bunch of its cousins (we’re at a convergence of  other Bluebird owners).   

The hum of our generator makes it feel a bit like a truckstop, but looking out the window it’s easy to tell we’re at a Wanderlodge owners rally.   There are about 50 or so other Bluebirds circling the communal fire pit in the first row and a second row of Bluebirds has started as new arrivals trickle in.  This is the  second  time at the annual Bluebird rally at “Q”  (Quartizite); we were here last year for the 10th anniversary.

Craig has taken his morning coffee to join the huddle of men that have gathered by the firepit.  It feels like this is where all the big decisions that will shape the day will be made.  The lack of women is noticeably obvious.  

The silly side of me wondered if all the women were off ‘marching’.    (Today, in Washington, and around the world, women are marching in protest and solidarity - on the first full day of Trump’s presidency).

I can’t help but wonder who that SMART woman was that thought of the timing of this strategic move.  Redirecting some of the press cameras away from our new president on his first full day in office - even for a bit -- reminding him about the impact that 50% of the population can have!

Feeling a bit isolated by the lack of like minded colleagues  around me  and a bit jealous of the millions of women who are surrounded by their sisters today.   The Bluebird Rally  is certainly a ‘man’s event’.  Whether it be the “men’s tech talk”  or the caravan of jeeps who will take the 60 mile off road trip to the Desert Bar, the daily schedule is planned by men for men.    It’s okay;  men as well as women are entitled to plan events that revolve around their needs.   I’m not sure why,  but I’m not feeling inspired to join the “women’s morning walk”  or “women’s craft time” this morning.

Perhaps it’s because  the reality of the day - first day with our new president is one that makes it impossible to avoid thinking about.  I’m not going to get political here and will instead just note it as fact.  We have a new president.   The future feels uncertain.  Trying to be hopeful that the power is in the people.  But don’t want to bury my head in the sand either!

Maybe part of this blog post is similar to Ferdi Serim making this Facebook post.  

Thinking about the many old journal’s and diaries with entries like
Temperature  54 degrees.. Price of milk  $2.89 a gallon

What is it that I would put as a measure of what today was like?
What quantifiable?   

One optimistic indicator I could record is our solar energy use!

Craig just  joyfully announced that our solar panels are generating 300 watts right now-- an all time high.  Definitely indicating that the recent redesign he made to allow the 4 panels on the top of the bus to tilt is working much better than the previous design (where the goat rail and the storage pods shadows were challenging our ability to generate optimal energy)

Craig has a new strategy of running the generator in the morning instead of at night to recharge the batteries  to about 80 percent (which will happen more quickly and efficiently in the morning at the point where the batteries are the most discharged).  

Craig is an amazingly talented man who loves to figure out things like optimizing solar energy use or optimizing our bandwidth availability.  He’s constantly tweaking things to make life on the road work for us.  Since we are both working from the road -- these are important indicators for us!   Without  bandwidth I couldn’t be able to meet my daily responsibilities as an online teacher  and Craig wouldn’t be able to keep systems at his school running remotely.

So… the beginning of this 3 week period boondocking in the desert has me worried a bit.  It’s going to warrant strategic use of our ‘bandwidth’ as well as increased awareness of our use of electricity and water.    I suppose its good for us as humans to experience a lack of abundance and to work on conserving!  But it does feel a bit like being on a ‘diet’ -- planning our daily allocation!  Dieting (whether it be food, energy, and bandwidth)  tends to put me in a more fragile mood.    And perhaps the fact that  I’m dieting in all three of those domains right now is contributing to my strange mood today.

I miss the free flow of seeing my family and friends whenever I want, and having to do ‘binge visits’ to see the grandkids  like my recent two week  visit back east.   But I’m also thankful to have an amazing life partner who brings me on new adventures and causes me to stretch and grow.