Category Archives: Science

W^2 – empty nest

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Michigan State College marker, date unknow. East Lansing, MI August 28, 2021 6:10 PM

Saturday morning, we loaded our car and took off to take our youngest daughter off to college. It was a hot day and we got everything into her un-air-conditioned dorm room. We helped her unpack and put things away and then drove home. The drive home seemed so much longer than the drive there. Same distance, different circumstances, lighter load and for the first time in twenty-three and half years we are on our own again. Life begins anew. I remember my first week or so away from home and off to college, but I never thought how hard it was on my mom. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, beginning a new journey all over again.

Do you remember your first day away home?

today was O’s first day of class and I sent her greetings from my class! (notice my Alma mater on my mask – Texas A&M University) – Naperville, IL September 1, 2021 10:15 AM

W^2 – storm clouds

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, August 25, 2021

a cumulonimbus cloud across the prairie. Springbrook Forest Preserve, Naperville, IL August 25, 2021 5:11 PM
a cumulonimbus cloud, zooming in. Springbrook Forest Preserve, Naperville, IL August 25, 2021 5:11 PM

 It’s late August and it’s hot, humid, and storms blow up in the afternoon. This magnificent thunder cell wrought heavy rains over a small area for over an hour, then dissipated and moved out over Lake Michigan and parts east. I fell asleep to flashes of lightning and rolls of thunder in the distance, but very little rain fell on my lawn. It’s Thursday, not Wednesday and I am going to make Thursday an amazing day. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, day 6 follows day 5, always.

How are your late August afternoons?

Sunday and resilience


It’s Sunday morning and I am sitting at my summer office, knowing full well ‘summer’ is another nine months away. The days are numbered on the summer office with a few more days left in August. Soon it will be too cold, too wet, or both to sit outside and work. But,

I’ll make hay while the sun shines. Farmer’s wisdom

The birds are flocking to the feeders, and I watched three hummingbirds hash it out over at the hummingbird feeder. Sorry, no photo, those birds are just too quick.

School restarted Thursday with students sitting in my classroom albeit masked (all of us were masked) but sitting in my classroom; AND, happy to be there. Last fall, I created a menagerie of ‘students’ to keep me company while I taught using a camera and microphone. This year, ALL of my students are in the room. I am keeping those five students to remind me of our resilience and persistence.

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” Viktor E. Frankl Austrian neurologist, Holocaust survivor

There has been a lot of talk in the media about learning loss. The pundits love to point out deficiencies in public education because it’s easy to point out what’s wrong. It’s much more challenging to find what is good and that is what Making the Days COUNT dot org is all about. Always has been. There is far more good in the world than the media is apt to share. So, that’s why I have tuned it out. The loudest sound in the room isn’t always right, it’s just loud.

Getting back to school was easy. Continue reading Sunday and resilience

Summer Days: Week 10 and back to school

It’s Day 68 +2 and I am back to school. My first day back was Monday and my new students arrive tomorrow on Thursday. I am excited and nervous, and I am certain they are too.

I woke early Monday morning, much earlier than I was accustomed to over break. I sat outside listening to the birds’ chirp while sipping coffee and working through my morning routine. I realized that the sun rose after 6 AM and it was similar to the final sunset after 8 PM or later a few days ago, this was the last time until next spring that sun rise before 6 in the morning. Summer is winding down and being back in school is a sure sign that summer’s days are waning.

Yesterday we had meet and greets for a few students to come into school, meet their teachers, and find their classrooms. It was exciting to meet them and hopefully I will remember them on Thursday when they sit up front as a suggested. I made notes before I left school of whom I met. I am excited and I am sure they are, too.

games can teach us about how science works…

Monday morning, I arrived early, before the meetings began, I opened the packages that arrived last week. The contents are in the photo below – they are games I am going to use to help develop science skills – observation, classification, evidence, claims and reasoning.

“In the summer, we write life’s summary with the slow waves of love flowing over the sandy beach. The slow breeze and the warm sun write our memories.”
― Debasish Mridha

I only have 5 photos for this final summer days post and there is a decided ‘lake’ theme to four of the five. Continue reading Summer Days: Week 10 and back to school

Summer Days: Week 8

It’s Day 57 and I have a dozen days remaining in my summer break. I slept late this morning. Sleeping late is a luxury of summer or anytime when the following day comes without a schedule or place to be early in the morning. Sleeping late is a direct consequence of living without a schedule or maybe staying up late to watch the stars shine brightly in the summer sky, or return home from a family.

“Summer was our best season – everything good to eat, a thousand colors in a parched landscape.” ― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Last night all three of us went to a concert by the band Chicago. B and I listened to them in our youth and the songs were part of the soundtracks of us growing up. O got a glimpse of the music her parents listened to as they figured out how to be adults. It was a fun concert, and the band finished their performance with one of their best-known songs, “25 or 6 to 4”, for their encore.

It was a late night and we got home well past midnight.

Continue reading Summer Days: Week 8

Days of Summer: a ‘sciencey’ Week 7

It’s Day 50, not sure how I got here so fast, but I am here.

“I could never in a hundred summers get tired of this.” – Susan Branch

I am back in school in 19 days, I am under 20 days to a regular schedule, a regular waking time and probably a much earlier going to bedtime, too.

a third summer office – on the deck in full view of the lake, the birds, and the world. Thanks to John at LVPhotoblog for the tip on iPhone photos

Up here at the lake the sunsets much later in the day than at home. We are almost 3 degrees further north and our position relative to the time zone line has a significant impact. Here at the lake, we are in the far western part of the US Eastern Time Zone, it is GMT – 4; and at home we are in the far eastern part of the US Central Time Zone where we are GMT – 5. The east west difference is a little more than 3 degrees longitude.

Today’s sunset will be at 9:08 PM or 21:08 EDT at 298˚ NW by the lake. And, at home it will be 8:14 PM or 20:14 CDT or 296˚ NW. That is a difference of six minutes, adjusting for the time zone change.

Yes, I am aware I went ‘sciencey’ there, but with nineteen days before school begins, I need to start thinking about teaching and making things interesting and relevant for 11–12-year-old. Full disclosure is that I had a science ZOOM call yesterday and we discussed teaching science for almost a full hour. Continue reading Days of Summer: a ‘sciencey’ Week 7

Friday morning birding on Saturday

We are up at the lake for the race, the famous canoe race. Canoe race weekend is an important time for us as a family and I have written about this weekend in past years. The canoe race is always the last full weekend of July.

The canoe race is begins in town and ends 120 miles down the Au Sable River in Oscoda, Michigan where the river empties into Lake Huron. For many, the race defines this town, but Grayling is much more.

the view from my perch at the table… I can see the lake and both feeders.. and Saturday morning’s gentle rain

The rivers have been important where trapping along the three rivers – Au Sable, Manistee, and Muskegon – which begin here in the Michigan Highlands was the first industry when Europeans arrived in the seventeenth and eighteenth century. Grayling, the town, was established as a logging town when it was settled in the late nineteenth century. Logging, forestry, and wood products are still key industries in town, but tourism – hunting, fishing, and recreation – is the industry that sustains this little town near the headwaters of the Au Sable River.

When the pandemic began last year, the cottage along the lake was my hideaway. I spent the last two months of the 2019-20 school year teaching remotely from our place on the lake up here. I felt safer away from our densely populated home region. In many ways we were safer here – there are significantly less people in the county and the reported COVID cases were significantly lower here than our suburban county.

And because there are less people wildlife thrives and is more abundant in the absence of people.

During this time by the lake shore, the beginning of the pandemic, change, real lasting deep change, began for me and my family.

We spent more time paying attention to nature and spent more time walking. I walked more last year with my wife and kids than I remember. I also stopped listening to music, podcasts, or audio books when I walked and I started listening to the birds, the trees, and nature around me.

And, I have paid more attention to nature.

For Father’s Day, my wife gave me a couple for bird feeders and shepherd’s double crook to hang the feeders for our lake house. I placed it just off the deck where we can see it when we are sitting in the front room or on the deck. Continue reading Friday morning birding on Saturday

Days of Summer: Week 6 – fluid

It’s Wednesday again, somehow that happens with quite a bit of regularity and without prompting. Wednesday follows Tuesday and precedes Thursday, always.

It’s early in the morning and my coffee has yet to take full effect, but it seems as if the past week has been fluid, but when I look back at the daily Instagram photographs, there were distinct events, moments which mattered.

the White Sox were better than my Astros – the score was 10-1. We got clobbered

The back yard is in full bloom. My wife’s planning and hard work are evident. My role is garden assistant and enjoyer. Nature has cooperated by providing ample sunshine and rain.

The backyard birds continue to visit the feeders. and I continue to refill them. The squirrels and bunnies continue to tease and taunt (mostly the squirrels) Fern and Ivy. Continue reading Days of Summer: Week 6 – fluid

Big Rocks and summer

It’s fortieth day of summer break and there are twenty-eight days or four weeks until summer break is finished for this year and school restarts. It’s been a pleasant time for rest, relaxation, projects, and a bit of renewal.

This fall marks the beginning of my twenty-third year as a teacher. It’ll be the twelfth year of blogging. I’ve written almost 700 posts in that time and there have been a few repeats, today will be a repeat of sorts.

If there is one thing I have learned in my time as a blogger, sometimes it’s good to go back before going forward. Abraham Lincoln once said or wrote or both,

 “The past is the cause of the present, and the present will be the cause of the future.”

I know it’s probably not advisable to spend too much time dwelling on the past, for there is little to gain as the past cannot be changed. We can only learn from our past and endeavor be better and do better. Recently, I read a blog post and responded with reference to a quote attributed to Muhammad Ali,

“……. if you are the same person you were thirty years ago you have wasted thirty years.”

What Ali said is,

“The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.”

But I digress.

Big Rocks. This morning I took a purposeful walk at the Morton Arboretum. I was there a couple of days ago, on Friday, to take in the new exhibit Human-Nature. I thought I had a photo of the Big Rock, but I couldn’t find one, so I this morning I hiked to the Big Rock and back retrieving the photo below.

this boulder weighs 12 to 14 tons and hasn’t moved since the glacier deposited it here over twelve thousand years ago

It’s a big rock all right. Geologists believe the rock was deposited by a glacier in the last ice age some 13,000 years ago. Much of the upper Midwest was shaped and formed by the ice age.

But the big rocks I am referring to are the important things in my life. During summer break, I always make more time to focus on renewal than I can during the school year. I can focus on it because there is more time, I am not planning lessons, grading papers, or teaching students. I have the time to do what is important, but when school resumes, as it always does, I slowly fall back into the same pattern of behaviors focusing on what is urgent and pressing instead of my relationships, my health and fitness, and our home. It’s a delicate balance. Continue reading Big Rocks and summer

Days of Summer: Home for Week 5

We’ve been home for the week, and it’s been glorious. The partial drought of late spring has been replaced by more seasonal rain pattern and unseasonable coolness.

We returned home late Wednesday evening wrapping up details at the lake house and driving home while it rained much of the way home, traffic was light, and we made good time on the road.

Day 30 and Thursday was time to catch up on our home. The yard had grown wild and mowed the grass twice once at the highest setting allowed and then lowering the mower one setting and gathered the clippings – two full of grass clippings. I mowed it again yesterday, Day 35, catching the grass and have one bin full of grass clippings for my effort.

It’s that time in summer when nature thrives in the warm sunlight and abundant rainfall. We are blessed.

“And summer isn’t a time. It’s a place as well. Summer is a moving creature and likes to go south for the winter.” ― Terry Pratchett, Feet of Clay

Continue reading Days of Summer: Home for Week 5