April 18, 2014

Hashtag #Vinyl to #Cassette to #CD to #MP3

LPs, Albums, & Rock 'n' Roll Music In General

"The secret to survival is knowing when to walk away and know when to run." — Kenny Rogers

I remember being a kid back in the late 1970s when the song "The Gambler" by Kenny Rogers was running up the charts. It was such a huge hit and fun to sing along to. As a youngster, I never knew what the song was about. I didn't know what gambling was — or any of the other terminology in the song. I had the album on vinyl and enjoyed listening to the all the songs. I wore it out.

I wore out a number of albums when I was a youngster. I had a couple different vinyl versions of Billy Joel's 52nd Street, Foreigner's Double Vision, and a couple of others. Then, naturally, I bought those albums on cassette; I proceeded to wear them out, as well. I might have wore out three versions of Bruce Springsteen's Born in the U.S.A. The CD versions don't necessarily wear out but they do get scratched and rendered useless eventually.

I remember wearing things out. It brings up a question, will my MP3 versions of the previously mentioned albums EVER WEAR OUT? Does everything have its day? Is it true that "every dog has his day?" When we finally realize what the lyrics mean, how close should we listen to them?



April 02, 2014

Security Changes

This is not the new replay system. At all. 

The new security measures at Major League Baseball games are — in a word — absurd.

What normally would have taken three minutes on Monday afternoon took 35 minutes. I missed the first half of the first inning, all the introductions, Chet Lemon throwing out the first pitch … Sure, MLB said "Get there early," but what does that mean. I imagine if you got there early and the gates weren't open, you just stood in line.


Oh, in line. There was no rhyme or reason. I would bet there must have been 50 people who just walked into line and walked in with no one directing them. Those of us who had been waiting didn't make a fuss because we just wanted to get in the game (that was my train of thought, anyway).


Lafayette Coney Island still makes the best coney dog in the city. Maybe in the state. 


We missed Kenny Kreiner, but Steve Lott, Mark Grossbauer, me, and John Huckins had fun in the city. 


Courtney and I enjoyed lunch at Pub Rub Bar B Q (with the gang) then enjoyed the ballgame. 


Can you believe the sauces … Kansas City v. Detroit. 

Merrill Edge and Bank of America

It catches me off guard every time I hear it.

There's a new advertisement for a company that provides financial advice.

The song they use to make you pay attention is one of the best ever, "My Life."

If Billy Joel hadn't written the song more than 35 years ago and if it hadn't been included on the seminal album, 52nd Street, would we just think it was a simple jingle? I mean, is Billy Joel a jingle writer now that he's not writing pop songs — now that he's no longer a "pop singer" …

"My Life" is one of my favorite songs of all time. I don't think it's going to make me check out Merrill Edge and Bank of America, though. Yet, if the companies hadn't used that song as a jingle, then I would have no idea which company the advertisement was pushing.

March 28, 2014

#Miguel Cabrera

Big Bucks. Big Bucks. No Whammy. 


I usually don't like contracts like the one Miguel Cabrera just signed.

Prince "Floppy" Fielder

Contracts like that scare me. The Prince Fielder contract excited me but also scared me. I could only imagine what Prince was going to be like at the end of the contract. I guess I imagined some old, slow slugger weighing in at 400 pounds and providing little to the team. I never envisioned he would do a whale–like belly flop as the American League Championship Series died.

Miguel's contract excites me.

Miguel Cabrera. One of the greatest ever. 

Let's look back to that fateful day in December 2007 when the Tigers suddenly and quickly acquired the young slugger from the Marlins for a gaggle of talent including the Tigers' top two prospects. We even were able to land Dontrelle Willis in the deal (um, insert comment).

Miguel will be a Tiger at 40. That's all right with me. He is such a great hitter. He is a great teammate. But, he's also become a great person. Early in his time with the Tigers he had bouts with alcohol. I may even have written on this blog that they should cut their losses and trade him before he bottoms out.

To General Manager Dave Dombrowski's credit, he stood by Miguel and helped him grow and battle his demons. Miguel has become a personable ballplayer. He also seems genuinely interested in winning. It has never seemed like it's about statistics with Miguel — or that he just wants to rack up numbers. He wants to win.

He is a true, genuine superstar. He is so great. During the baseball season my wife Lori gets tired of me saying (every day!) "It is so cool to have the greatest baseball player play for my favorite team. I've never experienced this my whole life. And so few people get to experience it." He is just phenomenal.

But there's more to it than that.

I have met Miguel Cabrera. A couple times. He is a superstar. Maybe even the face of the franchise; however, he and Justin Verlander may battle for that title. Heck, the best pitcher and the best hitter. I must be living through a good time to be a Tigers fan. But since I lived through the '90s and through 2003, I've earned my stripes ...

Miguel Cabrera and one of his fans. 

Miguel attends that Lakeland Chamber of Commerce Detroit Tigers Bar-b-que every year. I remember when we saw him there in 2013. We were amazed. Here was a dude coming off the greatest offensive season in years — a Triple Crown winner — and he was mingling with the Tigers fans. I was shocked. I gained a new appreciation for Miguel that night. Especially after he talked with folks, took pictures, and hung out for a couple of hours.

He didn't have to do that. But he did.

It takes a special person to get a contract … like that.

March 23, 2014

#Teaching and #Learning

Teaching English

In 1995, I started my educational career as an English and journalism teacher at a small school in the middle of Michigan. I taught English, advised the yearbook, and started a school newspaper; coached varsity softball; was involved in school improvement activities; joined the strategic planning committee — in short, I did whatever I thought I needed to do to understand my career.
I worked a great deal on the English curriculum team at a time when we were examining the curriculum documents other schools and ISDs had created. Then, Michigan released the Michigan Curriculum Framework.

The "framework" was a set of standards and benchmarks for all of the core subject areas. It also included components for the expectations on professional development and other items. I remember working on aligning our curriculum at the school to what the expectations were within the MCF. We did countless gap analyses to ensure that we were meeting the requirements of the State.

Several incarnations of the MCF have followed. Other items like the MiClimb (Clarifying Language in Michigan Benchmarks) documents followed. Then, the Grade Level Content Expectations and High School Content Expectations arrived. This is when Michigan arrived with curriculum. These were not quite power standards as recommended by educational consultants like Ainsworth, Schmoker, and Marzano but the new documents were able to be "unpacked" and easily "aligned" in student–friendly terms.

Power Standards

Ainsworth came up with the idea of power standards and shared the theory in his early 2000s book called Power Standards. Schmoker pushed idea forward with Results and Results Now. Schmoker's work inspired me greatly and I have used Results Now with a number of teachers and teacher groups to share the idea of power standards, professional learning communities, and effective instruction.


I've had the opportunity to work with Schmoker a number of times, including bringing him in to ISDs and conferences to share his information. He presented to the Montcalm Area Intermediate School District in 2009, focused on the work in that book. He came to the Michigan Association of State and Federal Program Specialists fall institute in 2012 and also presented to a group from the Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District. His focus at that time was on his latest book, Focus.

The journey

The educational journey has been a good one. I've spent time as an athletic director, curriculum director, assistant principal, principal, and superintendent. I've learned a  great deal over the years but always have tried to keep the focus on teaching and learning. In the past few years, the popular thing to do is to focus more on the learning as a result of the teaching.

It's still the same world (education) but it's vastly different (students' needs). I believe that a good curriculum taught by teachers who have the materials and tools they need to be effective will take care of any test score concerns that schools and parents have.

February 23, 2014

#Back in #Michigan

Land of ice and snow

I love Michigan. I can't think of a better place to live. This winter I can't think of a better place to leave. It's been cold. Snowy. Icy. Windy. Just plain - wintry. We haven't had a winter like this in a long time - 30 years or so.

I'm on a plane

We are just about to land in a Southwest Airlines 737 in Grand Rapids after a week in 88 degree heat in Lakeland and Orlando where we were able to talk to members of my favorite baseball team. I found out that JV will sign an autograph. I found out that Jose Iglesias speaks really good English. I found out that Miguel Cabrera is a great guy and great ball player.


But as we land, we both know it is COLD back in the Great Lakes State. Rumor has it that because of the nearly solid ice lakes - Superior, for example - that it is going to be a cold summer. After this winter ... a cold summer doesn't seem right. 


I guess it is nearly 28° as we glide home. That would be 60 degrees lower than yesterday — not to mention that we haven't felt 30ish in Michigan much since November. 

That said, I love my state. No poisonous snakes. Four seasons. And the Detroit Tigers. 







February 22, 2014

#Lakeland #Detroiters

It's beginning to look a lot like summer ... everyday in town. 

When the Tigers are in Lakeland, Florida, getting ready for the season it's a great time to meet the players and talk a little baseball. 

You could call it a baseball trip. I do. 

We have a mid–winter break and for the past several years, Lori and I go down to Lakeland to spend time with Mom and Dad — but also to take in some Tigers baseball. Each year, I have a "goal" which I try to achieve. 

Goals

One year, okay it was 2012, I wanted to get Prince Fielder to sign a Little Caesars pizza box. It was tougher than it sounds because it's not like there are Little Caesars on every corner like in Michigan. So, the first battle was getting the box. 

Other years it's been to get a few pictures signed. 

This year, I tried to get an official MLB ball signed by the Tigers — you know, like the 40–man roster and all the coaches. I did okay. I have some work to do, but I think it can be done. 

Dinner

We attending the Chamber of Commerce / Tigers Barbecue again. That was a great deal of fun. 

Dave Dombrowski, GM and president and possibly CEO, kicked things off with a welcoming speech. He also walked around and thanked everyone for coming to the event and supporting Lakeland and the Tigers. 

To his credit, two–time defending MVP Miguel Cabrera was at the event. He was generous and posed for many photographs. This is the second time he was there and I think it's awesome that he takes the time to attend the event. He's only the greatest player of our generation. 

Several other players attended, too. Alex Avila was gracious as always. Nick Castellanos was a cool dude. Even Bryan Holaday was there for the food and fun. Tiger legends Willie Horton and Al Kaline were there, as well. At the end of the night, I asked Mr. Kaline if I could get a photo with him. Somewhat reluctantly, he agreed. He smiled brightly in the photo, though. 

Writers Are the Best

One of the highlights of the night was meeting Detroit News writer Lynn Henning. I have communicated with him on Twitter numerous times. I finally got the guts up to introduce myself and he knew who I was. He recognized my parents and even knew they have a dog named Missy. My mom told him about how Grandpa Morgan was good friends with Joe Falls — and Mr. Henning walked away and stopped, thought for a moment, and said, "Dick!" He knew my Grandpa. His name was Dick. 

Brad

My Mom and Dad also were the exclusive greeters for Mr. Brad Ausmus, new manager. They met him the day he arrived. I think they've greeted him every day since. Mom had him sign her hat the other day and Lori said, "I bet you think they're stalkers." He said, "I don't think that anymore but I did the first few days." Ausmus is generous with his time and willing to sign autographs as he arrives every day. 

All in all, it was another great week in Lakeland. Now, I can't wait for Opening Day. Yeah, the one in March ... not November ... 

Dave Dombrowski.

 Alex Avila and Lori. 


Mr. Ausmus signs a ball on the sweet spot. Mom and Dad look on.   

@rheitmeyer finally Tweets in real life with @LynnGHenning 

That's me with the greatest player I've ever had the opportunity to watch. 

 And that's me with the greatest player who was an announcer by the time I could watch. 



February 15, 2014

Mr. Kaline

The day I met Mr. Kaline, again, was awesome!

Prince Fielder, Detroit Tiger Star

It was a different feel at Spring Training 2012. Big Daddy's little boy came to town to shake things up. A huge signing at the time, by the end of the playoffs in 2013, we were looking forward to Prince playing in Detroit only with a visiting team.

I can't wait for former Ranger Joe Nathan to strike Prince out to end the American League Championship Series next October. That will be a great day!

Let's go to Florida!!!