Social Experiment – Week Cleanse of Facebook & Twitter

Facebook is a drug.

Okay, well, not just Facebook, but social media in general.  Don’t get me wrong.  Social media has a ton of positives, and I think we live in a society where it’s much easier to keep up with others by following their daily statuses due to how busy our schedules are day to day.

That being said, just how much of our daily free time is consumed by social media?  According to an article last year on MSNBC, Americans spend an average of 40 minutes a day on Facebook.  That’s close to 3% of a person’s day spent staring at your feed.  Combine that with all the other websites and social media outlets out there, and you have a very distracted country.

This week I’ve been working on preparing for presenting an in-service at a local R.O.E. on the topic of standards-based grading.  Like my students, I procrastinated until the weeks leading up to the event.  Now with a few days to go, I noticed that I was distracted from my work at least two dozen times by checking on my messages and feed.  I’m not saying that I would absolutely have kept on task and not been distracted by other things on the internet, but for me (and I’m sure many others), I can’t help randomly checking on Facebook when I’m supposed to be doing something else.

To be clear, I have no intention of permanently saying goodbye to my Facebook until it goes the way of Myspace or LiveJournal.  However, it did beg the question of whether or not I could be more productive without the influence of Facebook always being there.

So that leads me to my social experiment.  Starting tomorrow, I’m deactivating my Facebook account for a week.  I’m planning on setting it up to reactivate in exactly 7 days.  Each day, I’m going to keep track of all that I’ve accomplished and see if social media is actually negatively affecting me.

Here’s my plan:

  1. I’m going to deactivate my Facebook and have someone change my Twitter account password.  I’ll keep them closed for a week.
  2. The only time I’m allowing myself to use social media is for updating information for my podcast Shadowvane.
  3. I will keep track of the number of times I attempt to check my social media since I know I’m going to forget that I locked them.
  4. I’ll write a short post here each day to detail what I accomplished, how I spent my free time, and how I feel without having access to FB/Twitter.

Over the course of the next seven days, I hope to be able to do more.  This will hopefully include much needed house work and projects, podcast writing, catching up on reading, get to some of my massive video game library, and preparing for the upcoming school year.

I managed to only check Facebook twice while writing this post!  Here’s hoping the experiment yields positive results and makes others consider how much time they spend on social media.

Strictly Prohibited

Inspired by my yearly responsibility of proctoring the ACT test.

Welcome to test room 3B.

Please note that the following actions are strictly prohibited:

Eating, drinking, or the use of tobacco are not permitted in the test room.
Neither is talking, smiling, thinking, or breathing.
If you are caught doing any of these things, your test materials will be confiscated and scored with the incorrect answer key.

You may not have a cell phone, media player, or other electronic, steam-powered, or psycho-kinetic device with you in the test room.
All such items will be confiscated, used by the test room proctor to keep them awake during testing, and then smashed to pieces in front of you after you have finished testing.

You may not fill in or alter ovals on a test section after time has been called.
Ovals are very sensitive and only like being touched at the specified times.

Do not look back at a previous test, forward to the next test, or into the pit of your soul.
It is dark there and full of repressed memories.

No giving or receiving assistance by any means, including but not limited to the following:
Passing notes, looking at another’s answer sheet, sending messages via carrier pigeon or smoke signal—smoking, as we have already discussed, is strictly prohibited—or via psychic or supernatural means.

You must not use your calculator on any test other than the mathematics or quantum physics test.
Doing so will cause your immortal soul to be trapped forever within the device.
Calculators are not a thing to be trifled with.

You will be provided a break between hours 12 and 13 of testing.
All testing materials must remain in the test room during this time.
Attempts to remove test materials, personal effects or your shell of a human form will result in becoming lost within the labyrinth of hallways outside Room 3B.

You may only leave when told to do so.
Testing facilitators and the test company itself are not responsible for loss of property, limbs, or sanity.

Please do not exhibit confrontational, threatening, or unruly behavior.
Save such behavior for the combat proficiency portion of today’s testing.

You may wear a wrist or neck watch.
However, be sure to turn off all alarms or carbon monoxide detection functions.
If an alarm sounds, you will be instantly encased in The Zone of Silence, where your carbon monoxide alarm will suit only as an annoyance during your final, peaceful moments of life.

Above all else, please follow the directions for each test very carefully.
Test booklets are known to provide directions in the form of riddles and sometimes include ancient summoning rituals.

If there are no questions, we wish you the best of luck during today’s tests!
Please turn your answer booklet to page 2 and fill out boxes 4-12.
Include all contact information of your loved ones and your preferred method of bodily disposal.

Fill in all corresponding ovals very carefully.

Creative Progress

Things have been going well here creatively over the last few weeks.  If only I could gather the mental strength to do the same in preparation of my 8th year of teaching high school and second year of college.

I’m currently drafting the third episode of what should hopefully be a 10-12 episode series for my upcoming podcast, Shadowvane.  If you want more information on the project or to be kept up to date, please visit Shadowvane.net and follow @Shadowvanecast on Twitter.

The goal is to have at least four or five episodes completed and edited by the middle of August.  From there, we’ll be starting the process of holding casting for the various roles.  As it stands right now, there are three recurring major characters in this story as well as several smaller parts.  We will be searching for reliable voice actors to send us high quality recordings throughout the next several months.  We cannot offer anything in the way of compensation since the project is free to the public, but if things go well, it can serve as a valuable production to add to any resume.

More information on the upcoming casting will be available later this month.

Aside from that, it’s that time of year when teachers all around the world are gearing up to go back to the profession that they have put their hearts and souls into.  Whether you are a novice or a long-time teacher, I offer nothing but encouragement.  Let’s make this the best year yet for our profession and our students.

And now I leave you all with a bit of wisdom:

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow.  Learn as if you were to live forever.” -Mahatma Gandhi

Lonely Diver (poem rough draft)

Another poem written while on vacation in Rockport, MA.

Walking along the rocky shores of Back Beach,
a solitary diver decked in full diving gear
makes her way toward the open ocean.
From so far away, it’s hard to tell
whether it is a woman or a man
braving the cold morning waters.
What matters most is that they are alone,
and they are far braver than me.
My view of the sea suits me just fine:
sitting on a patio of a small beach cottage,
keyboard and a glass of Diet Pepsi at my fingers.
I’m content to sit and watch her deliberate movements,
and I wonder what her name is
or what she hopes to find in those depths.
Solitude is only solitude if you ignore your companion,
the companion all around us—Nature.
I see my good friend in the form of two butterflies
circling around one another over a patch of yellow flowers.
I observe my companion the seagull
swooping past the watery explorer in black.
She finds her friend amongst the cool morning waves,
the mysteries hidden beneath its silvery surface.
Afraid of those mysteries, I sit at a distance
and try to discover my own.

Chasing Distant Horizons now available on Amazon

It’s a big day!  My chapbook, Chasing Distant Horizons, is now available on Amazon.com’s Kindle Store!

To celebrate this day, I’ve lowered the price of the book to $1.99 on Amazon as well as on Gumroad.com.  I’ll provide links for both below.  I do get more money when you buy it at Gumroad, but if you are one of those “One-Click” on your iPad sort of people, you now have the option for some good poetry!

Go check it out and tell your friends!

Buy Chasing Distant Horizons for Kindle on Amazon

Buy Chasing Distant Horizons PDF on Gumroad.com

And as usual, I leave you with a quote:

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” -Henry David Thoreau

Enjoying Nature & Writing

It’s been a while since I’ve updated.  I’ve been rather busy with the end of my 7th year of teaching coming to an official end and some amazing personal things going on in my life.  I’m officially taking some time to recharge the ol’ battery with a trip out to Rockport, Massachusetts.  I can honestly say that the trip is not only needed physically, but it’s been a great thing mentally.

As part of that mental recharge, I’ve been able to get some creative work done between sitting around on the beach, browsing all the little shops, and having some amazing food.  In just one day, I’ve managed to get a lot accomplished while still having a ton of fun.
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New Writing Project – Short Story Collection

Long time no write!  This comes to you during one of the most taxing times in any teacher’s life–the days leading up to spring break.  This semester has been surprisingly very difficult for me, and I’ve felt far too much stress and doubt in my abilities.

So my mind has been pretty absorbed into grading essays, planning lessons, editing yearbook and newspaper pages, and trying to get students interested in just about anything over the last few weeks.  So that’s left my free time and creative life floundering somewhat.

I would say that the release of my chapbook, Chasing Distant Horizons (only $2.49 for the pdf), was somewhat of a success.  If anything, it gave me the confidence to achieve something as grand as self-publishing, if only on a small scale.  Add to that my recent flattering comments on my submission for the Dark Crystal Author Quest, and I’ve found some positivity with regards to my writing.

So I need a new project.  I need something to breath more life under my creative sails.  That’s when I went back to something I spent a very long time on.

As some of you may know, I wrote a complete fantasy novel and have spent a lot of time off and on editing that sucker.  There are still substantial things to be done, and one day I really do hope to see it find the light of day.  That being said, I thought about the editing process and how I haven’t revisited the world in some time.

That’s when the idea hit me.  What if I wrote a series of short stories that fleshed out elements of the world and characters.  The thread that holds all the stories together would ultimately be the world that I’ve crafted in my fantasy novel.

So I’m working on a rough (very rough) draft of a short story, which will be hopefully the first of many.  This story centers around one of the main characters from the novel, a half-elven lazy drunkard by the name of Isac.  In the novel, Isac has little desire to do much else than wallow in his home, waste away at the tavern, and ignore the rest of the world around him.  The story I’m drafting tells how he discovered he has special powers and how he loathes everything about it.

Here’s a small bit of the rough draft.  I hope you enjoy. [Click below to read it.  I don’t want to take over people’s feed.]

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