Monthly Archives: August 2010

I use drugs

I admit it. I couldn’t live without my daily drugs. Every day I take 5 to 7.5 milligrams of rat poison. Yesterday I had a long talk with a fellow rat poison user. That’s 3-(alpha-acetonylbenzyl)-4-hydroxycoumarin for you chemists out there. (More info here, if you want to learn how it works.)

You don’t pop rat poison without a few side effects. I’ve experienced swelling, bleeding from a cut that does not stop in the usual amount of time, nosebleed, unusual bruising, headache, dizziness, purplish skin, chills, numbness, and weakness. I have not experienced “painful erection of the penis that lasts for hours” but maybe my dosage if off.

I told my pill-popping pal that big pharma was coming up with new and safer drugs for us. He wanted to know more.

Lo and behold, the business section of this morning’s New York Times had a big article on our drug. They must be jumping for joy at Bristol-Myers Squibb, for this may bring in $10 billion a year from users like me:

The company’s experimental anticoagulant drug apixaban worked better than aspirin in preventing stroke and systemic blood clots for patients who have a heart rhythm disorder called atrial fibrillation, according to new study data presented on Tuesday morning at a cardiology conference in Stockholm.

This site is morphing into my personal site. If you’re looking for my thoughts on working smarter, informal business, and accelerating time-to-performance, go to the Informal Learning blog.

Another article in today’s Times explains why cardiologists prescribe this awful drug.

The standard treatment for people with atrial fibrillation is warfarin, a powerful 60-year-old drug that originated as a rat poison. Warfarin, a generic drug also sold under the brand name Coumadin, is highly effective but it has drawbacks.

Because too high a dose of warfarin can lead to bleeding, patients taking the pills need regular blood tests to determine how fast their blood is clotting. Meanwhile, the potency of warfarin can fluctuate if a patient takes common prescription drugs like antibiotics or if patients start eating more spinach or other foods rich in vitamin K.

Or if you drink alcohol one day and not the next. Or eat too many Brussels sprouts.

The bottom line here is that imbibing rat poison reduces the odds of having a stroke. It’s the lesser of two evils. I have a heart condition called a-fib.

Here’s a great overview of A-fib, the heart disorder that makes my risk of stroke (if I don’t take my rat poison) five to six times higher than yours.

The biggest danger from A-Fib is stroke. Because your heart isn’t pumping out properly, blood can pool in your atria, particularly in the Left Atrial Appendage. Blood clots can form and travel to the brain causing stroke.
Researchers estimate that 35% of patients with A-Fib will suffer a stroke107 (unless treated).
The American Heart Association states that A-Fib is a major cause of stroke, especially if you’re older. It estimates that 15% of strokes come from untreated A-Fib. An A-Fib stroke is worse than other causes of stroke. Half of all strokes associated with atrial fibrillation are major and disabling.168 23% of A-Fib stroke patients die, and 44% suffer significant neurologic damage. This compares to only an 8% mortality rate from other causes of stroke.132166

There is also a danger of “silent” A-Fib strokes where stroke effects aren’t evident but may appear like attention deficit, forgetfulness, and senile dementia.72 Silent A-Fib is very common. Up to 30% of A-Fib patients are unaware they have A-Fib.140 25% of those who suffered an A-Fib stroke had no prior diagnosis of A-Fib.141,142

Anticoagulant rodenticides were first discovered in the 1940 s and have since become the most widely used toxicants for commensal rodent control. Rodents poisoned with anticoagulants die from internal bleeding, the result of loss of the blood s clotting ability and damage to the capillaries. Prior to death, the animal exhibits increasing weakness due to blood loss, though appetite and body weight are not specifically affected. Because anticoagulant baits are slow in action (several days following the ingestion of a lethal dose), the target animal is unable to associate its illness with the bait eaten.

The Daily Plague

Enough already! Following another wonderful, vacation day, I peak in my Tweetstream and find this:

    sparkandco The Holly MacDonald Daily is out http://paper.l… – featuring @GuyKawasaki @JaneBozarth @hjarche @jaycross @web20classroom
    1d ago via

    mpetersell The Mike Petersell Daily is out http://paper.l… – featuring @jaycross @hjarche @SportsCenter @RapidBI @JaneBozarth
    1d ago via

    mrch0mp3rs The @mrch0mp3rs/the-beard-trust Daily is out… – featuring @JaneBozarth @hjarche @jaycross @busynessgirl
    1d ago via

    sumeet_moghe The @sumeet_moghe/Lnd-People Daily is out… – featuring @jaycross @C4LPT @hjarche @JaneBozarth
    1d ago via

    larshyland The Lars Hyland Daily is out http://paper.l… – featuring @valdiskrebs @DavidLammy @jaycross @gsiemens
    1d ago via

    charlesjennings The Charles Jennings Daily is out http://paper.l… – featuring @jaycross @fdomon @gsiemens @work_matters @metoffice
    1d ago via

    Neillasher The Neil Lasher Daily is out http://paper.l… – featuring @jaycross @C4LPT
    1d ago via

    chris_saeger The chris_saeger Daily is out http://paper.l… – featuring @jaycross @C4LPT @gsiemens @hjarche
    2d ago via

    colmmu The @colmmu/education Daily is out… – featuring @jaycross @gsiemens @edballsmp @kriley19 @C4LPT
    2d ago via

and so on.

Do yourself a favor. Don’t bother to read  There’s a better use for bits.

Walk, work, think

Steve Bordley emailed me this morning to point out that…

A new study published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience has shown that walking will in fact enhance connectivity within brain circuits. Additionally, the study found that walking also improves cognition and combats the decline in brain function normally associated with aging. Walking, in effect, keeps the brain younger and functioning at a higher level than those of sedentary individuals.

The challenge in today’s workplace environment is finding the time to walk the minimum amount of steps required to improve mental processes. Often lost in the debate concerning improving our education system is the need to care for the mental and physical health of our educators.

The study followed 65 previously sedentary adults aged 59 to 80 and joined a walking or stretching and toning group for a period of twelve months. The researchers also measured brain activity in 32 adults aged between 18-35 years of age.

The study focused on regions within the brain that function together as networks.

“Almost nothing in the brain gets done by one area it’s more of a circuit,” said University of Illinois psychology professor and Beckman Institute Director Art Kramer, lead researcher. Dr. Kramer has led previous studies which showed that walking can increase memory and cognitive abilities by as much as 15% in 6 months and increase the production of small blood vessels in the brain by 43% in the same duration. “These networks can become more or less connected. In general, as we get older, they become less connected, so we were interested in the effects of fitness on connectivity of brain networks that show the most dysfunction with age, Dr. Kramer added.”

Walking improves your thinking.

Then the going gets weird. Steve heads up TrekDesk.

Hey now, multi-taskers, you can work your butt off while you jog the fat off!

Hold on a minute. This is progress?

Managers: “The days of office drudgery and ill health are finally over. TrekDesk, attached to an existing treadmill, allows employees to walk slowly while they work (without sweating).The benefits of walking while working are life changing and include weight loss, disease prevention, health restoration, mood improvement, productivity increases; a total overhaul of your mental and physical well being.”

Walking is part of my personal learning environment. And walking in nature is more productive than walking inside or on asphalt.

Try to imagine an office filled with this crap. Laughter would probably crowd out getting work done.

Jay's blogs fork

Ten years ago I was writing several daily blogs:

In 2001, these joined together to become the Internet Time Blog, one of the earliest blogs about learning:

Five years later, writing my book on Informal Learning, I added a blog of the same name. The Informal Learning blog started somewhat idealistically:

“This goes back to Adam & Eve, to the dawn of consciousness. Since our species appeared as babes on the savannah, we have been growing up, ever so slowly. Homo sapiens have been reading What Color is Your Parachute: Eternal Edition, and doing their information interviews for the last 50,000 years. Now it’s time for humanity to take the next step on the path, commit to a direction for the future, and start to work.” (2005)

Soon it settled down. That left me with two nearly indistinguishable blogs. Many a time I could not decide where to post an entry. While there’s considerable overlap in readership, some people read only one of the two.

When a software developer adapts a program in such a way that it can never rejoin its original parent, it’s called forking. (Numerous LMS customers who paid for elaborate customization later found they couldn’t upgrade to new versions. They’d been royally forked.)

Today, this blog is forking away from the Informal Learning blog. Internet Time Blog will become my personal blog. Without realizing it, I’d begun censoring my posts. I didn’t feel free to insert gossip, half-baked ideas, ribald jokes, stream-of-consciousness, and my art into what had become my online brochure. Some clients wouldn’t undertand.

So if you want Jay, stay right here. If you want working smarter and business stuff, go to Informal Learning Blog.

Subscribe to Internet Time Blog.

Google's soft underbelly

I’ve been using Feedburner, an online service that’s now part of Google, to offer RSS subscriptions to my blogs. Four months ago, the RSS feed associated with the Informal Learning Blog started to go haywire.

I went to Feedburner to investigate. I clicked Edit Feed Details and entered my RSS feed.

This returns an error; the message says my feed’s XML is invalid.

I went to Feed Validator to see what’s wrong. Feed Validator says everything’s okay.

Now what?

I follow Google’s advice and scour the discussions on Google Groups. Lots of other people have experienced the same problem. Some of the requests for help have gone unanswered for a year or two. The two suggestions offered by Google staff are (1) don’t paste Microsoft Word into your blog and (2) strip out the diacritical marks in Central European language posts. In fact, why not simply run everything through the filtering effects of a text editor. (Well, some of us like to provide something more sophisticated than raw text. Duh.)

I find my way to this group:

“Due to the increasing amount of spam we are receiving everyday and the declining number of “real” users seeking help through Google Problems, we have decided to stop receiving new discussions from today.”

I go to the Google Help Centers. Whoops. Feedburner doesn’t rate an entry.

So I went out on the open web and looked for help via the kindness of strangers. Maybe switch my feed to ATOM format? Doesn’t look like that works either.

Here’s the rub.

A community can make could use of volunteer contributions, even more so when the organization has a spirited community, e.g. Cisco, Zappos, Intel.) But a vendor’s disgruntled customers are a different matter. Google could score some great karma if they stopped relying on algorithms to manage relationships. I’ve wasted hours upon hours with one niggling little problem, that, so far as I can tell, was not of my own making. I feel like I’m being swept under the rug. The folks who eventually topple Google will probably have figured this out.

Robinson Jeffers, no photographs allowed

This afternoon, I read the poetry of Robinson Jeffers while relaxing in the bath. An hour later, I arrived at Tor House, the stone home he built by hand here in Carmel. It’s the inspiration for some of his poems. I thought I’d sit in the garden and write a few.

That wasn’t allowed, but I was lucky enough to join a tour because a couple who’d reserved online did not show on time. The docent showing us the stone cottage and tower read Jeffers poems as we walked. Great! I had but one complaint, but to me it’s an important one. I was not allowed to capture my memories with my camera.

Another needlessly walled garden! What’s the point? I walked to the rocky shore below Tor House, shot a photos of the spectacular coastline, and summoned my inner poet:

No Photos Allowed

Salt air,
The rustle of waves,
Shimmering sea of kelp,
Rugged boulders standing sentinel,
Cormorants drying outstretched wings
in the ocean breeze

This is the very beach
where poet Robinson Jeffers
gathered massive stones
and rolled them up the embankment
to build his magnificent
Tor House.

The great poet reveled in the wildness and beauty of this place.
Words were his camera.

Hand-crafted Tor House,
where the poet read Yeats and Shelley
(and Robert Louis Stevenson!)
to his family by candlelight
lives on in the poet’s word portraits.

His poetic snapshots rekindle the spirit of
this coast, this ocean, this house, this tower, this time.
Wild, untamed, bedrock: miracles all.

I will revisit the boulders, kelp, and cormorants
captured by my lens this afternoon but the magic of
Tor House is already growing dim in my mind.

I doubt that the poet
(a friend of Edward Weston!)
posted the signs at Tor House saying
“Photography Not Allowed.”

Wouldn’t the poet want me to enjoy his monument again and again?

Sadly, you keepers of his flame
deny me a touchstone for my memories.

I emailed my message to one Vince Huth, president of the Tor House Foundation, mentioning…

Someone in the office suggested the policy was to “protect the image,” as if a bad photo might turn off a potential visitor. Actually, permitting photographs were probably publicize the house, attracting more visitors. Then there was “that’s the policy.”

As long as you don’t use flash, that’s no longer the policy at the Smithsonian, the Met, MOMA, the four major art museums in San Francisco, the Prado, the Louvre, the new Tate, the Deutsches Museum, Berlin’s Museuminsel, and many others I’ve visited. Museum boards are realizing that sharing the wealth is good for all — and costs nothing.

I’ll note it here if Vince responds.

If Internet Time Blog’s seeming to get edgier, it’s because I’m re-arranging the furniture here in my Personal Learning Environment. More to follow. Soon.

More Ivan lllich and me

I find silent PowerPoint presentations (except for those that only use words) about as useful as a Rorschach ink blot. Heaven only knows how many silent PowerPoints decks have screwed things up because people read their own meaning into them to fill the void.

For example, that’s a real psych-test blog above. See any weird stuff? It’s all in your head. The blot’s neutral.

Some people think mute PowerPoints constitute training. Ha, ha, ha, ha. Hence, this deck includes sound.

This is practice for a presentation I’ll be delivering in Sao Paolo next month. I’m sick as a dog, sicker, actually, so don’t listen if sniffling and heavy breathing offend you. A healthy version will come out later.

How to embed sound in a SlideShare deck: Record your words as you run through your deck. I used Garage Band and saved the spiel as an mp3. Upload your presentation to SlideShare. Click Edit. Syncing sound to slides is intuitive.

Any feedback? My audience includes business training managers and teachers; they don’t understand how people can be expected to learn without a teacher.

Changing Cultures in Higher Education

Last week I received a nice surprise in the mail, Changing Cultures in Higher Education (Ulf Daniel Ehlers and Dirk Schneckberg eds.) Springer.

Congratulations, guys.

610 pages for a mere $126. It’s good to see that Springer is maintaining its sense of humor.

Don’t get me wrong. The message is cool:

    More and more educational scenarios and learning landscapes are developed using blogs, wikis, podcasts and e-portfolios. Web 2.0 tools give learners more control, by allowing them to easily create, share or reuse their own learning materials, and these tools also enable social learning networks that bridge the border between formal and informal learning. However, practices of strategic innovation of universities, faculty development, assessment, evaluation and quality assurance have not fully accommodated these changes in technology and teaching.

    Ehlers and Schneckenberg present strategic approaches for innovation in universities. The contributions explore new models for developing and engaging faculty in technology-enhanced education, and they detail underlying reasons for why quality assessment and evaluation in new – and often informal – learning scenarios have to change. Their book is a practical guide for educators, aimed at answering these questions. It describes what E-learning 2.0 is, which basic elements of Web 2.0 it builds on, and how E-learning 2.0 differs from Learning 1.0. The book also details a number of quality methods and examples, such as self-assessment, peer-review, social recommendation, and peer-learning, using illustrative cases and giving practical recommendations. Overall, it offers a step-by-step guide for educators so that they can choose their own quality assurance or assessment methods, or develop their own evaluation methodology for specific learning scenarios.

    The book addresses everyone involved in higher education – university leaders, chief information officers, change and quality assurance managers, and faculty developers. Pedagogical advisers and consultants will find new insights and practices for the integration and management of novel learning technologies in higher education. The volume fosters in lecturers and teachers a sound understanding of the need and strategy for change, and it provides them with practical recommendations on competence and quality methodologies.

I’ve been synthesizing Ivan Illich’s Deschooling Society all day, and I’m still under its influence. Connections matter more important than content. Rather than memorize what’s at the destinations, learners need pathfinding skills and models that will serve them for a lifetime. Rather than talk about what’s in this new book, I’ll describe how I came to be in it.

I am tickled pink to be in the company of co-contributors Steve Wheeler, Gilly Salmon, Etienne Wenger, Tony Carr, Wim Veen, Graham Attwell, Nancy White, John Smith, and other pals.

Befitting our shrinking world, I met Ulf and his wife Virginie a conference in Bogota four years ago.

Ulf is the tall guy in this picture. (Ulf it always the tall guy

Ulf’s delightful wife Virginie (the first PhD granted in eLearning in France) was a fellow speaker. (Why isn’t she in the book, Ulf?)

Christian Stracke gave a great talk about accreditation European style, but my favorite part was when he told us he was from the home of gummi bears AND PASSED OUT FREE SAMPLES.

Bogota was loads of fun. No machine gun fire. Lots of beer, aguardente, and steak. The only coke I saw came from Atlanta.

A wonderful treat in Bogota was sitting with Nancy White. She was Tweeting away. Alone, among several hundred people in the room. Choco-Nancy:

We went up the mountainside on a cable car the next day, a Sunday. My Spanish is bad, but I could understand when the priest announced that the congregation would now say the Lord’s Prayer. The organ began to play. Whoa. This isn’t liturgical music; this is Simon & Garfunkel. You haven’t really worshipped until you’ve heard the Lord’s Prayer enthusiastically sung in Spanish to the tune of Sounds of Silence.

Choco and I cabled back down the hill and enjoyed a fabuloso Aztec meal.

Virginie and Ulf  treated me to a fine dinner in the Potdammer Platz a couple of years later. Heaven knows how, but Ulf recorded what’s now Chapter 4 of the new book while we consumed wonderful German food and wine.

And the book? Oh. I have’t started to read the book yet. I’m sure it will be great. ‘ wiedersehen.

Rearranging my personal learning environments

Increasingly, posts about learning will appear here, in the Informal Learning Blog. I’ll post most personal and out-of-the-box items at Internet Time Blog.

Informal Learning Blog Internet Time Alliance Internet Time Blog

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