Day 51 Movember and Addiction #movember #sicknotweak

Day 51 Movember and Addiction

I’ll preface this blog by stating that I don’t really care what people in their thirties and above do to their bodies. They have heard and seen enough evidence to know what drugs (legal, prescription and otherwise) can do to their body. So if it’s “important” for a 40 year old to seek a joint, I don’t really care. But when the law is changing (in Canada) it is giving tacit “permission” that it’s okay for youth aged 18 years to start experimenting with a new “distraction”…..despite what it may do to their mental and physical health and their learning.

It’s great that some feel that marijuana has ‘relaxing properties’ and have inspired artists like Jimmy Hendrix…..who died at 29…..and is actually very good an enhancing paranoia – which mixes perfectly with anyone working with anxiety…

And yes I’m biased because my father smoked cigarettes and died way too young….and I have seen how alcohol and prescription drugs can be misused – and when I think about people mixing prescription drugs with Illegal (or soon to be legal) narcotics without the knowledge or support of a medically trained doctor or pharmacist, it makes me more than a little nervous.

People like to say that marijuana isn’t addictive – much in the same way opioids aren’t supposed to be – and to me when people start talking about alcohol as a comparison for “problems” it usually makes me think that there may have been a point to prohibition…..I freely admit that alcohol leads to many social problems – and just as anything, just because it’s a problem for some does not necessarily mean it should be banned for all. Again I feel age has a role to play – I know some people have bad reactions to certain types of alcohol – though society seems to (currently) joke about the excess of wine consumed at the end of a tough day – it’s 5 o’clock somewhere, right?

Or it’s 420 somewhere right? It’s interesting that while the pro-marijuana legalization group talks a lot about the funds raised through taxation all the groups (provinces health law education) are saying that the dollars projected are not nearly enough….and they aren’t and won’t ever be enough – especially with the prevalence of fentanyl making using drugs a deadly gamble every time. But nobody likes to talk about the costs of that…..

As the Globe and Mail pointed out when legislation of cannabis was starting up:

Like it or not, the younger the user, the greater the hijacking of the brain functions marijuana can do on teens – and these are permanent….and affect executive functioning (decision making, goal setting, organization, etc)….so “relaxing” isn’t part of marijuana – it increases brain activity which changes the structure of the brain (especially altering regions connected to emotions and reward processing….even with “casual” use.

So what’s the big deal? the brain. It’s a big deal. Many like to believe that self medicating with cannabis helps them be “less anxious” or help them deal with other mental health issues – but marijuana can provoke psychosis ….. so a short term lull can lead to adding paranoia onto an already anxious brain….

So again, in mens health, it can sometimes feel “good” to ‘get lit’ or ‘have a glass’ or…or…or… but in the longer run, those short term attempts to “fix the pain” are making it harder and harder for the brain to authentically deal with what is causing the pain. Making healthier choices (walking/running/music) can often have positive impacts on the brain …just takes more of an effort to get there….

And other than Reefer Madness, marijuana has always been helped by movies (and tv as more states and Canada look at legalizing marijuana) which have moved from the “fringe” Cheech & Chong movies to more mainstream efforts by Seth Rogin et al (and are very funny) but there has been a shift to make it seem like it’s no worse than smoking….but if we think about it we have become aware of the notable health risks when inhaling pretty much any type of smoke. And when toying with edibles….we’ll do far there hasn’t been much/any regulations and while a poorly mixed clump of baking soda may be unpleasant….a poorly mixed narcotic can have very negative results….and if a child thinks it’s a regular two-bite brownie….even worse.

Again in my opinion age is a big factor – but even that worries me. If men are choosing to use marijuana, even/especially if it becomes legal or is essential to be forthright and honest with your medical professionals in order to ensure that the mixing of prescription and alternative chemicals don’t have negative implications. It’s something to talk about and keep in mind when making decisions. Just because something is legal does not mean it should be….and it’s definitely not for all. Mental health is an easy target to addiction. So please….be mindful of what goes into your body.

And for the first time I am willing to raise money for men’s health month – but really just want to raise awareness and spark some conversations

That’s why I’m not shaving this Movember!

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Day 50 (of 186) the sound of silence

Day 50 (of 186) the sound of silence

Tinitus sucks. It’s somewhere between hard and impossible to explain to someone who doesn’t have it. It’s not easy to test for. But it’s an ongoing buzz in the ear and it’s why I hate silence.

My son and I got to talk to a specialist about what might be able to be done because I know that when I get stressed the sound of silence gets louder and louder.

So the lyrics are accurate;

Hello darkness, my old friend

I’ve come to talk with you again

Because a vision softly creeping

Left its seeds while I was sleeping

And the vision that was planted in my brain

Still remains

Within the sound of silence

When it’s quiet, the sound of silence can be as loud as a conversation – which is weird as background sounds and conversations can help distract the sound. As the song suggests:

In restless dreams I walked alone

Narrow streets of cobblestone

‘Neath the halo of a streetlamp

I turned my collar to the cold and damp

When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light

That split the night

And touched the sound of silence

The description I like: like an old tv when it was turned off and makes a buzz….just that the buzz is always there – with the number one treatment being distracting the brain. Ambient noise is important (so maybe another reason why I get nervous when the class is quiet….too quiet…)

And in the naked light I saw

Ten thousand people, maybe more

People talking without speaking

People hearing without listening

People writing songs that voices never share

No one dare

Disturb the sound of silence

The other description I appreciate: much like chronic pain or anxiety or a variety of other ailments, distraction helps. If it gets really bad, anti-anxiety medicines have been shown to help but then comes the balance of “fixing the problem” vs “side-effects” – there is always a cost when using a fix…

“Fools” said I, “You do not know

Silence like a cancer grows

Hear my words that I might teach you

Take my arms that I might reach you”

But my words like silent raindrops fell

And echoed in the wells of silence

As is so common – there are no easy answers to weird questions. But it is another reminder that what works for you (be it silence, dim lights, a breeze, cold room, hot room) may not work for all and may even escalate and intensify the feelings or sounds – because whether they are real or not, they’re real enough to those experiencing it!

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Day 49 (of 186) seeing your kids through other lenses

Day 49 (of 186) seeing your kids through other lenses

So my over achieving daughter found a scholarship that she wanted to apply for, but she stumbled upon it just a few days before the deadline. So she did what she hates to do and asked for some reference letters with a very short turnaround time (with apologies and honest understanding if it was not possible).

It was interesting reading what other educators think of her. I know she is a smarty – she is my teen rebel who likes to do homework (grrr) for extra marks (😠) to get high scores – often into triple digits using cursive script (🤬). But it’s not just about scores and letter grades when going for certain (many) scholarships – and even more and more universities are turning to ask “what have you done” rather than just rely on what multiple choice test scores were earned.

But to hear how others have noticed how she connects with the community’s (both local and global) with her work with our local Me to We Leadership group along with her being recruited to be on our local student municipal council (and being asked to go to our BC Municipalities gathering held in October as a student rep for our region). Also how she takes an overload of courses to balance music with her academics (her knee is keeping her off the basketball court unfortunately) with one teacher asking how it was possible for her to be taking 8 courses this semester since there are only four blocks…..yep that’s the type of learner she is.

Now I know that she is good at playing the game of school – when I’ve prompted her to try something to extend her learning/showing, I have been told to not give advice because she knows what the teacher wants…..for good or bad…..

So…coming up the system next is my son who had been explained to me as “a square peg trying to fit into a round hole” and continues to work with teachers and principals/vice principals who seek to help him find academic success – because he is intelligent….though his claim that Aquaman is his favourite superhero is his own form of teen rebellion (he doesn’t even wear a cape!!) and my youngest girl who has a high social IQ and amazing perseverance – having taught herself (over weeks) how to do cartwheels and handstands and how %s work (not for grades – for math purposes)…..and for each some more interesting perspectives from the others who care for our kids when they go to that place called school…..

And a big thank you (again) to those educators who found some time in order to share their perspectives of my oldest as she seeks scholarships to help her advance her plan for life long learning (current focus: design thinking engineering programs, but she is willing to listen to offers from Universities that want a talented self motivated learner who (apparently 😜) is going to accomplish great things in her future! It put a needed smile on my face to read those observations!!

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Day 48 (of 186) getting ready for #hourofcode

Day 48 (of 186) getting ready for #hourofcode


On my site I have always had a “virtual assignments” area

I first used it so that my students would have a site to go to at home that was “Mr Landy approved” which meant that games and sites had connections to curriculum – not always apparent, but always there….. So when parents asked for “homework” I always pointed that direction – play games to enjoy math.


More recently I have been able to add in nice connections such as a Geoboard link so that we can discuss area and perimeter and some other “games” that will promote ideas for #hourofcode – but the mindset continues: providing a hub where the gamification of education can be indulged…..I learned (and reinforced) a lot of world geography via Where in the World is Carmen San Diego and got some early design thinking nudges using Sim City.  I learned about ‘multiple lives’ via PacMan and sometimes “harder” just means life comes at you faster and faster.


I love that Lemonade Stand could teach about making predictions and looking at averages and Deal or No Deal helps reinforce ‘playing the odds’.  I also support “calling a life line” and sometimes asking for a vowel – though Fowl Words and it’s connection to Making Words is probably a better spelling reinforcer than Wheel of Fortune was….and my one regret was not being able to finish the HitchHikers Guide to the Galaxy game (but that’s balanced by me never buying the ET game for my Atari).


There is a lot that can be learned with a Coding Mindset – and I love that s Hadi Partovi has enabled a platform for this to happen. Because as much as I loved/love playing video games, I also loved getting the magazines that had “free” games – you just had to copy the code onto a diskette…..and then realize you made a mistake somewhere and compare lines of code….and then see x’s move against o’s in a titanic battle of football (or was it Pong….?)  So it was great seeing my class take on the new minecraft challenge: Hero’s Journey and see all of us have easy successes and then have to work out obstacles (sometimes because we were overthinking the problem) and then achieve success – all in less than an hour…..but we have to build up our endurance for a fortnight from now when the #hourofcode strikes!

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Day 47 (of 186) the answer is “42” #movember #sicknotweak

Day 47 (of 186) the answer is “42” #movember


Sigh….maybe it’s karma for me dressing as Arthur Dent for Halloween – because “the answer” (to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything) is 42. You just have to better understand what the question is….



42 was the number of phone messages from my son….by lunch break….because returning to school after a 5 day break is hard….okay a 3 day weekend is hard, 5 days is painful when ‘for most people’ it’s just getting back into a groove after a bit of a break. For mental wellness, any ‘break’ is a challenge – almost like a break in the arm or leg….just without the physical artifact to obtain empathy and understanding from others.   And for students returning to school with crutches or a wheelchair, great efforts are made to accommodate…but when it’s an internal issue…well, the comic is true:

2013-11-21-Helpful Advice.png

Mindsets, word and even innuendo matter. People do what they see, and when they see people not talking about mental/physical health, well…it’s not likely that they are going to go first.



Men (and boys) in particular are bad at talking and/or sharing because of the culture we live in – but things are changing – even at the end of the day, I was able to have a great conversation about the obstacles men have to overcome in order to share vulnerabilities without being inundated with comments and jokes (usually dealing with connections to sexualities and weakness) and how too often it leads to ‘the worst case scenario’ (aka suicide – the topic we don’t talk about…..eyeroll font here) even though/especially they “have so much to live for” or they “took the easy way out” <– none of which have any authentic connection to why suicide is seen as an option when working with mental wellness.



Much like in the classic “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy”, “the” answer isn’t really much good…just like the 42 phone calls made. It was clear that it wasn’t a good day, but it was also learned that despite the pain and difficulty of the day, nobody died (and again, in the anxious mind, that is always a possibility with virtually any situation/scenario) …..but ‘the answer’ does help us move to a better query – is 42 “how many roads must a man walk down” because that’s an easy connection to a provided answer? Questions and answers are never “easy fits” with mental wellness – in fact one of my observations is that if something is logical, it’s probably not anxiety, but when things/actions don’t make sense…things are getting interesting.


I wish #movember had an answer as simple as 42. But mens mental health isn’t an easy topic. But in growing my facial hair, I have been able to have conversations to raise awareness and push some thinking for the men and boys who surround me (even if the girls in my life would prefer me to shave, they understand and support! what more could be wanted?)


Please consider donating to my Movember fund (or someone elses or talk to someone about mens health – mental or physical) because my new goal is $42 -it might lead to a better answer…or question…whichever….


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Appreciate the @shareski shoutout

Appreciate the share by @shareski (an educator who I have admired for years and have been thrilled to meet a couple times and hopefully will again soon) and as my blog is a key part of my own learning portfolio, I think I should add a Shareski Badge next to my Apple Teacher badge!

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Day 46 (of 186) badges – should there be a expiration date on badges/certificates/gamification?

Day 46 (of 186) badges – should there be a expiration date on badges/certificates/gamification?



I have started to introduce the concepts of “badges” to my class – specifically around using Spheros with our iPads (courtesy of @cuebc). Creating a sense of scaffolding and differentiation along with some exploration:


  1. remote control through a maze
  2. change colours of sphero
  3. code the robot to go forward, stop and come back and stop at your feat
  4. code the robot to go through the maze
  5. teach a student in a primary class to code the robot to go forward, stop and come back.


The badges may change (as this is a “thinking phase” we are going through as a class) and evolve over time as we work out some of the kinks of goal setting.


CONNECTION 1: This connected with me because I am currently spending some of my professional development day working on my own “badges” as part of the Microsoft Educators program. Some are easier than others, based on schema and interest level (and dis-interest level as a workshop event “tested” the roll-out of a new pricing scheme for Microsoft products in education-world with pricing “per user” – not per FTE and even each volunteer would have to be counted as a ‘cost’ for the district/school to pay)



CONNECTION 2: I also saw a sign (in the big city) advertising for forklift operators and it was a reminder that once upon a time I did get a forklift operation certificate that was “non-expiring”. But I haven’t used it in a loooong time… is it fair and accurate that I’m “still qualified”?



WONDER: If I learn how to be a Microsoft Educator but then not use it in the school setting (Apple Teacher/Educator and Google Certification may have more relevance) is it fair to still advertise myself as a Microsoft Educator – and sure, if it’s recent (ie now/this year) it makes sense….but should there be an expiry? If I am good at skype-ing now, is that indicative of future performance (same warning as stock traders) as the programs and software continue to get updated? If you don’t use it, do you lose it….rest is rust….etc – lots of warnings about staying active in use….



It’s similar to the ‘badges’ students earn that are letter grades – just because they got an “A” in spelling because they could memorize lists of words for a weekly test does not mean that they continued to use the words correctly in other environments. Students who learn a concept in one class (ie area & perimeter) may have a ‘badge’ for that topic, but should they be able to keep it if they can’t transfer the skill to another subject area because it’s “different” (ie using area in socials projects but it wasn’t math, so…..). Is a students achievement valid if they don’t recall and remember how to use the information that they had at one point in time at a later date?



Is it valid for a high score champion to brag about what they once did if they are no longer working on maintaining those skills? Or is the pride on knowing that you got your initials into the arcade game screen once enough to know that you ‘retired on top’? As I look back on my own transcripts I know there are some subjects that I know a lot more about now and could probably ‘show better achievement’ and others that I freely acknowledged that I peaked back then….But I think that ‘date awareness’ will be key – the badges I earned back in boy scouts are still valid in most cases (collection badge) but might be worth a conversation about ongoing use (knot tying) and my own “practice” on all three “main OS’s impacting education” (Apple MS Google) will vary depending on what my students are using at school and at home….in the meantime I think badges show a more accurate “earning” of a topic (ie badge for Multiplying 2 digits by 2 digits) vs an ‘overall’ badge for math!   The thinking will continue – and any sharing is much appreciated!


I want to spend more time thinking about gamification – and even came across a related blog that will help:



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