Groundhogs and the Turn of the Year


groundhogToday is the anniversary for Serendipity35 which begins its thirteenth year of in existence. It's easy to remember because it is also Groundhog Day here in the U.S.

This is a rather silly celebration that is based on the notion that if the groundhog sees its shadow as it comes out of its den today, we have six weeks of winter to go. If the day is cloudy and the groundhog sees no shadow, it is a sign of coming spring and so it stays above ground. Why a cloudy day would signal an early spring and a sunny day would mean more winter has never made any sense to me.

If there is any fact or even some science to this silly day, it would be in the past. The ancient peoples and our own Native Americans knew that the behavior of animals, insects, and plants could help predict the weather. They took that to mean that these things might also be indicators of the coming and going of seasons. 

Consider it weather lore, but there are lots of ideas about how to predict the severity of winter based on natural indicators. If I want to make some leap to education here, I guess I would have to say that we do look to trends outside education (business, technology, media etc.) as ways to predict where education might be headed. I'm working on a piece for next week today about how corporate professional learning is pulling educators into top roles at companies like Amazon. Will that affect higher education?

My Groundhog Day tradition has become to watch the film, Groundhog Day, which I have seen many times (which is actually pretty meta if you know what the film is about). I believe that the film is a whole lot more than just a comedy, and I am not alone in that opinion. Connect the movie to education? Well, I have seen in my 40 years in education a lot of repeating of things with little changes in the hopes of making things better - a theme of the film. Most of the time it results in minor improvements, sometimes in worst results, but we keep trying new approaches. Sometimes we see sunshine or clouds and think it will indicate what is to come. It is a 50/50 possibility, so why not predict.

I do know that the vernal equinox will arrive on time, but even that may or may not mean that springlike weather will arrive. And I do know that the spring semester will end on time and a new one will begin whether or not we see a shadow.


Hello Global Visitors


It is always interesting to check the stats at the end of the month and look at where readers have come from on the globe.

You can get a peek at the most recent visitors by checking out the Live Traffic in the sidebar. I grabbed a sample (shown below) that illustrates what a great diversity of global visitors find Serendipity35.



The Adventures of the Serendipity35 Gang

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You probably noticed some changes on this blog the past month. Brother Tim did some upgrades and that required getting rid of our old and outdated theme. The updates also busted a lot of images from the site and changed all kinds of settings on the admin end of things. For example, it reopened comments on posts and I immediately started getting hundreds of spam comments again. Oddly, many of them were links to Chinese sites selling basketball shoes, but also the usual Cialis and other drug and questionable merchandise. Unfortunately, that is further proof that we just can't allow commenting, (I do get the occasional legitimate email sent to the site though.)
I have tried to fix the frontend of the posts and Brother Tim has been playing behind the screen with things and hopefully we are back to something like normal - which is more than I can say for the offline world.

3650 Days Later

Virginia TechToday is Easter and also the tenth anniversary of the shootings at Virginia Tech. On April 16, 2007, my oldest son was a senior at Virginia Tech and I will never erase the memory of that day and being on the phone with him as we watched the coverage of the mass shooting on TV.
He was safe.
But his engineering classmates and his professor that morning, Kevin Granata, were not. The class was working on muscle and reflex response and robotics projects. Professor Granata was helping my son fill some gaps in his software skills by working with him outside of class time. He was his adviser for his capstone senior design project team that was designing a biomimetic walking robot.
That morning Professor Granata heard the shooting and took about twenty students from a classroom to his office. After they were locked in, he went downstairs with another professor, Wally Grant, to investigate. Both teachers were shot. Professor Grant was wounded and survived, but Dr. Granata died from his injuries. The students locked in his office were all safe.
Kevin Granata was 45 years old. He was married with three children.
The university‚Äôs Day of Remembrance events this year began on Friday and continued today with the lighting of a ceremonial candle, at midnight, at the April 16 Memorial, followed by a wreath laying this morning and a full reading of the biographies of the 32 victims who were killed. There is a evening candlelight vigil at midnight, and then the ceremonial candle from the memorial is carried back to Burruss Hall.
My son was there Friday along with his wife who also graduated from Virginia Tech in his class of 2007. She was there recruiting for her employer. He made Blacksburg a stop on his way to North Carolina for a visit with John, a classmate and close friend.
Another classmate, Colin Goddard was one of the 7 students in his classroom of 17 to survive that day. He still has three bullets in his hips and knee. After the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting in Newtown, CT. Seeing the very young victims on TV made him feel like the way my wife and I and the rest of the nation watched his tragedy at Virginia Tech. He decided to work for gun safety.
Colin served as a Senior Policy Advocate for Everytown for Gun Safety, and when he decided to get his MBA at the University of Maryland, he continued to volunteer as a Survivor Fellow with the organization.
Everytown for Gun Safety was created by Michael Bloomberg to combine several like-minded groups (Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America) under one centralized umbrella. Everytown for Gun Safety will focus on background checks rather than gun bans, a course parents from Newtown took after being unable, even with President Obama's strong support, to get federal support in Congress for stronger gun regulations. They will also will fund grass-roots operations dedicated to ensuring anti-gun voters reach the polls.
Ten years - 3650 days - later and it doesn't seem like much, or enough, has changed when it comes to the way Americans deal with gun violence.