Slice of Life: Eleven Years and Counting …

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write on Tuesdays — and many join in to write every day in March for the Slice of Life Challenge — about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

This is the eleventh year of the Slice of Life March Challenge, and I guess I’ve been here since the start, thanks to an invitation from my friend, Bonnie, to write. I’m not committing to writing for Slice of Life every day this March. I’m not quite feeling it, for whatever reason.

Part of this reluctance to sign up and commit is that what used to be a small writing community of teachers has become a huge writing community of teachers. Which is great. Wonderful. Amazing. All those teachers writing? Magical. Yet I miss some of the regular, sustained interactions among a small group of folks. I feel less in the flow. Maybe that’s the natural course of things over time.

It has nothing to do with the fine folks at Two Writing Teachers. With a handful of projects underway and some regular writing in a slice-like vein on Mastodon, I’m feeling like I have my writing time covered.

But maybe I say this every year (I think I do, in some form, hedging my commitment) and then find myself writing a Slice every day anyway. Just, no promises, I’m telling myself.

So … eleven years ago:

  • My oldest son was 9 years old. He was in fourth grade. He’s now in his second year of college. His is a fleeting presence in our lives for much of the year — he’s not a big on one regular contact from the parents while he’s at college. He’s still making movies and producing media.
  • My middle son was 6 years old. He was in first grade. Now he’s a high school senior, contemplating where he wants to go to college next year. We just found out yesterday that all four of the schools he applied to have accepted him and offered him some scholarship money. He’s stressing about the decision as we try to keep him calm and centered.
  • My youngest son was 2 years old, in preschool. He’s now in seventh grade — in the heart of our city’s middle school year, juggling the different social terrain of being a budding teenager. Lately, he’s been writing and producing music. It’s been interesting to watch that talent develop.

Eleven years from now … who knows where we will be …

Peace (slicing it),

#NetNarr: Patent Entertainment With Animated GIFS

Original Patent:

The folks over at Today’s Document surprise me now and then when they slip an animated gif into their RSS feed, usually in the form of an item about one of the patents in the Library of Congress. (They also will regularly convert video archive moments into animated gifs, but I find these illustration remixes to be the best to enjoy).

Original Patent:

I’m always fascinated by the old drawings in the patent applications, so the animated gif is another fun way to bring history alive. The animations are more whimsical than informative, to be frank. More entertainment, than educational.

Original patent:

It’s still nice to know there is always a chance to inject some fun in the dusty archives of history.

And the Library of Congress itself even created a GIF to show the construction of its building. This is more educational than entertaining, showing the construction of a national treasure (which holds national treasures).

And finally, there are those out there in the wild world that take vintage photos and … well … spook them up a bit.

Created by Kevin Weir via

Peace (learning it),


Slice of Life: I’m Tall(er)

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write on Tuesdays — and some do every day in March for the Slice of Life Challenge — about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

It was the end of the day, yesterday, the first day back after February break. All the kids were looking tired. I felt it. We were waiting by the door for the bus kids to be called. Walkers and pick-ups had already gone.

“I feel tall,” she said, looking at me. “As if I grew over the weekend. I think I did. I think I got taller over the weekend.”

“Can you dunk?”


“Can you dunk at the hoop? How about the ceiling? Can you touch the ceiling yet? I bet you’re tall enough for that.”

She smiled, and shook her head at my absurd reaction.

“Mr. H.”

“Try on your tippy toes!”

“Mr. H!”

Her voice contained exaggerated exasperation, the result of our light-hearted give and take that has been going on since September at the end of most days, waiting for the bus announcement, as if Godot might be arriving at any moment. Beckett would have approved of the absurdity of most of our end-of-day conversations.


“Really, though, everything looks … different … and I think it’s because I’m taller.”

I nodded, now in serious agreement. She did seem taller, if only in perspective. The speaker announced the busses, and she certainly walked a lot quicker than I remember.

Peace (in the look),

#NetNarr: Getting a Bit Crazy, Making GIFS

Over at Networked Narratives, the theme is now shifted into GIFs, and all the wacky things you can do with them. Alan’s assignment calls for a GIF storm of sorts in the #NetNarr hashtag, including GIFs that connect with the Digital Life underpinning and finding narrative points in the clip from the Western movie The Big Country to pull out as animated moments.

So …

First, I went in to the clip and found the dramatic scene where the rider and horse are trotting away (later, the men will join the solo rider in a dramatic turn-around.) I use the Gif It add on for Chrome Browser, in case you are curious. The function gets built right into YouTube video viewer. Easy peasy.


Then, I went into Frinkiac, a GIF generator of Simpson’s clips and found a Karaoke scene, so I layered in dialogue from the same clip I Gif-ed earlier, but made it into a sing-along song.


Finally, I was watching the latest Courtney Barnett song, which is all about trolling people on the Internet, and grabbed a clip to Gif.

The video is cool and strange and weird, so the Gif is, too.


Finally, this morning, a student in the NetNarr Universe had shared some time-lapse movie making, and I grabbed a gif out of Roj’s work, just to see what might happen when a time-lapse becomes a gif. It’s interesting.


Peace (slow mo),

#NetNarr Discovery: Lost In Hyperland (A Fantasy Documentary)

Hypermedia flickr photo by Dominik W. Neuffer shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) license

Thanks to some sharing of an article by Wendy in Networked Narratives a few weeks ago, I stumbled on this 1990 film about where hypertext might be going, with novelist Douglas Adams.

The Internet Archive site explains a bit more about Hyperland:

In this one-hour documentary produced by the BBC in 1990, Douglas falls asleep in front of a television and dreams about future time when he may be allowed to play a more active role in the information he chooses to digest. A software agent, Tom (played by Tom Baker), guides Douglas around a multimedia information landscape, examining (then) cuttting-edge research by the SF Multimedia Lab and NASA Ames research center, and encountering hypermedia visionaries such as Vannevar Bush and Ted Nelson. Looking back now, it’s interesting to see how much he got right and how much he didn’t: these days, no one’s heard of the SF Multimedia Lab, and his super-high-tech portrayal of VR in 2005 could be outdone by a modern PC with a 3D card. However, these are just minor niggles when you consider how much more popular the technologies in question have become than anyone could have predicted – for while Douglas was creating Hyperland, a student at CERN in Switzerland was working on a little hypertext project he called the World Wide Web…

Peace (link it beyond),

In Celebration of Reading and Writing: Mobile Storytelling

In a time when so many of us bemoan a seemingly apparent decline in writing and reading in young people, this video reminds us that maybe we are looking and observing in all the wrong places. Check it out. Candice Faktor shows us where and how young people are engaged in stories and fiction.

This is part of a cool video series I found that dovetails nicely with my thinking of how to use technology to transform writing and literacies. I’ll sharing out other videos in the coming days, too.

Candice Faktor – Mobile Storytelling: The Rebirth of Reading and Writing

Peace (read it, write it, live it),

Music: Stones of Hope (Son/Father Collaboration 2)

My 13-year-old son and I continue to make music together, with him starting songs and inviting me to collaborate. I am enjoying the opportunity to engage him with some creative collaborative practice, and it’s been fun, watching him learn about music creation with technology. It’s become a real passion for him.

This song is the second one we did together, using audio clips as loops for a message of hope.

Peace (sounds like hope),


The Arming of Teachers? Are You Insane?

Let me get this out of the way. Arming teaching in schools as a policy to protect students is a completely insane idea. Let me also note: I live in liberal Western Massachusetts, where an aversion to the NRA’s right-wing politics is part of the environment. I lean politically left. But I was also in the National Guard, trained as an infantry soldier and I was a platoon sergeant, so I know my way around a wide assortment guns.

Arming teachers is an insane idea.

Kate Way Photography: G is for Gun: The Arming of Teachers in America &emdash;

Kate Way Photography: G is for Gun: The Arming of Teachers in America

The idea of arming teachers in schools is something I have been following for the past two years or so, as my documentary filmmaking neighbor and friend, Julie Akaret, has been working on a movie that was once called Good Guy with a Gun, and now is called G is for Gun (The Arming of Teachers in America). You can see a photo essay by one of the film’s producers. They have traveled to Ohio many times, visiting schools where teachers are being trained to carry guns in school.

I have supported her through Kickstarter and have been part of the early preview feedback audience of the film as she and her partner have worked on it. The first round of showing of their film will be taking place next month on Ohio public television in March and then they hope other affiliates will take up their story of guns in the hands of teachers in the schools where young people are. The time for the topic is right, sad to say.

Kate Way Photography: G is for Gun: The Arming of Teachers in America &emdash;

Kate Way Photography: G is for Gun: The Arming of Teachers in America

It’s insane.

And you knew it was only a matter of time before the rising up of youths in Florida would lead to the NRA-backed politicians saying that what we need is MORE guns, not fewer. Sure enough, the news this morning shows President Trump calling for the arming of teachers.


But par for the course, unless those young people in Florida and elsewhere finally change the narrative and pressure on politicians to buck the NRA and gun lobby. More guns are not the answer. Making teachers into a militia is not the answer. More restrictive gun laws, and more support for enforcement of those laws, is what’s needed. Who will be brave enough on the GOP side to take a stand?

Don’t hold your breath.

Peace (in our schools),