Here’s a meme that’s been going around. It’s called the bucket list. You have to review all 100 items and put in bold the ones you’ve already achieved in life. So, here — with my annotations — is my bucket list:
1. Started my own blog
2. Slept under the stars

3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than I can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world
8. Climbed a mountain – Old Speck in western Maine
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sung a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea – and seen the green flash at sunset
14. Taught myself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning – horrible 
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown my own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitchhiked — needed to see a girl
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill — not lately
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb — when I was a kid
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a marathon – 1983 Marine Corps Marathon, Washington, D.C.

28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run not over the fence in a game, but inside the park
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught myself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa — No, but I really want to
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had my portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud – owned a couple of Jeeps 🙂
54. Gone to a drive-in theater — Grew up going to Midway drive-in in Pittsfield
55. Been in a movie —
56. Visited the Great Wall of China — that would require actually going to China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class 2x but that’s all
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies, they were my daughters, but I sold a bunch at work
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi concentration camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten caviar — yup 
72. Pieced a quilt — I hate sewing
73. Stood in Times Square 74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had my picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby – physically impossible but I am a dad
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone – for the first time last June
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Ridden an elephant

Interesting list, some made me smile, some made me want to complete some more on the list before I can’t. 🙂

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A while back I had a post about what I wasn’t so good at, in this post I will go over what I think I am pretty good at. First and foremost I have found that I am not really great at any one thing. I do a lot of different things proficiently or well, but to single out just one thing that I am considered either an expert or that I believe I am superior to others at doing, I can’t really think of anything.
What do I think I am I good at:

Being persistent, I don’t have the natural ability of some or the blazing intellect of others, but I do keep trying and I don’t give up easily. I am willing to put in the extra time and effort necessary to learn new things, keep on keeping on when things are not exactly easy and look at things pragmatically (to use the word of the day) or realistically and don’t get caught up in having to be right. I guess I am good at getting things done.

Even though I am a bit introverted and geeky, I fit in very well in my work groups and have always been considered an asset. I don’t get caught up in the ego games and am a good follower, have a great sense of humor and love to laugh, but I can lead when the situation arises, that I am in a leadership position. I am lot better behind the scenes and don’t need to be the point person in a project or at work. I guess I know my place in the scheme of things in a job, project team, or athletic team, we all can’t be the star, but am one of the hard working “others” that people forget about.

Learning things quickly. I have always had the ability to pickup new ideas or concepts pretty easily, especially when I have motivation or an interest in the subject.

I like to write, I can get a pretty coherent thought on “paper” and will someday write a book.

Athletically I am usually in the next tier down from what is considered “very good”, In team sports I what is called a hustle player, one that people hate to play against, I just keep moving and doing the little things that others don’t like to do, when I played basketballa lot, I was the one with floor burns, 5 fouls in 5 minutes, diving into the bleachers, etc., same way inbaseball and softball. Good enough to start, but never an All Star.

I have been a runner since my Freshman year in high school when I ran cross country and track, the only time I have ever won anything was the 100 yd & 200 yd sprints my senior year at the Penquis Relays (my personal “glory day”), otherwise just a pretty run of the mill runner – finished the Marine Corps Marathon in 1983, but just can’t seem to stay healthy enough to run another one. But for the first time in a year I am running around 5 days a week and am feeling really good.

I am a fairly proficient archer, I like 3D archery and plan to do a lot more this summer, I started shooting indoors in a Spot leaque last winter and although I wasn’t the worst one, I certainly wasn’t the best shooter in the league. Gotta get back into it again.

I am a bit of a computer nerd, have been playing with them since the old Vic20 personal computers. I am not a programmer, but I enjoy learning new applications or programs and spend way too much time on learning this social networking stuff, better known asWeb2.0. I guess I am a pretty good end user of computer “stuff”.

I am good around the house, my wife calls me Harold the Destroyer because I am really good at cutting things down, digging stuff up, and just general yard work.

I guess the biggest thing I am good at, is that I am willing to work hard and I am not afraid of hard work.

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WORKING IN TWO WORLDS = balancing act! – May 2008


I have been having a really hard time getting the creative juices flowing the past couple of weeks!  Since being offered the new position/accepting and working to complete the school year, I feel very much like a man with a foot in two very different worlds and being stretched pretty good.

I have started 5-6 different blog posts and none of them have made it very far. (The discard bin).I am not reading educational related professional development topics, which is where I got a lot of my ideas for blogs and the software or applications “butterfly” has a hard time landing for any period of time, but is getting better.  So I will continue to “play” with new software and then go back to the old standby’s that seem to work better for me.

But I am attempting to do this new job “preparation” work while continuing to teach, prepare special education paperwork and help hold students together until the end of the year is tough.  So the balancing act is difficult at times, but necessary 🙂

It seems like I am spending a lot/most of my free time doing preparation work or reading for my position as a Senior Planner.  Things like slogging through:

  • “Provisions for Program Development and Training, Disability Placement and State Administrative Awards”
    [As amended through December 17, 1999, P.L. 106-170]”
  • “National Service – 90 Years of History”

or taking an online professional development course:

  • CNCS Online Disaster Services Orientation

These readings and the course are necessary to prepare me for my next position, but they certainly don’t make very interesting blog entries – or do they?  Probably not to this audience, that is more interested in education related entries or software/web applications than Volunteerism, the Americorps program or Volunteer involvement in emergency response.

I don’t know my next audience (yet) and what I can write about to pique their interests, but I want to keep some of my present PLN informed of “life after teaching” and my thoughts on it.

So I believe that for a while my blog will go over the feelings, thoughts and experiences that I will be going through over the course of the next few months and how I adjust to having to work a non-academic schedule 🙂
It is I hope going to be rewarding and fulfilling career change – but by damn I will miss those “aha” moments, many of the students and quite a few of my peers — but not all :).

Technorati Tags: volunteerism,new job,blog,shaw,planner,teaching

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I did something very different today, I went to my first (but not last)AmeriCorps member orientation. It really did teach me a great deal about AmeriCorps and I don’t mean the history, laws or the rules which I already have a pretty good idea about.

Today I learned so much more about the people who volunteer to become AmeriCorps members. I asked the Program Director and her staff last week to just treat me as another member and allow to me to be incognito as just another member starting my service. They did and boy am I glad that they did! It may have been a little uncomfortable for them at first, but that is okay, it made a huge difference today for me.

For most of today I wasn’t the State Grants & Program Officer, I was just another member starting my service. At first the other new members looked at me a little weird, “what was this old gray haired guy doing in their orientation”, but my “story” was plausible, I am a retired Coastie, who just finished teaching and I knew the Program Director. That I loved hiking and wanted to give back something which was true, I just didn’t say what I had been doing for the past year.

At times I forgot that I was the fifty something guy and just had a lot of fun. It is amazing how young you can feel if everyone else around you is. Due to the normal delays in first day processing of other new members, about 30 of us got to go to the orientation site early. On the trip down, I was lucky enough to sit beside Brandon and Corie, we talked about their lives, what they did, where they went to school and they learned a bit about me, I just neglected to tell them about the last year. I think we all had good ride down there, and I hope the Program realizes very quickly how lucky it is to have these two young people I had the pleasure to sit trapped in a Van with for an hour.

After we got there and stowed our gear in the bunkhouse (the lucky bums get to spend a couple of nights there bonding creating a real team and I get to go back to work). I was outside and heard on of the guys talking “about the old guy” I had to holler out that “I heard that” and you could almost see the red face through the screen. But there was a lot of good natured ribbing and give and take after that. We did a bunch of team building activities and then went to lunch.

The highlight of my day though was when the staff introduced me as the Program Officer, I got to say a couple of words, and thanked them all for allowing me to participate in their orientation. Then I got to lead everybody in the AmeriCorps pledge. I had more than a few goosebumps while reading that. Below is the AmeriCorps pledge

The AmeriCorps Pledge
I will get things done for America –
to make our people safer,
smarter, and healthier.
I will bring Americans together
to strengthen our communities.
Faced with apathy,
I will take action.
Faced with conflict,
I will seek common ground.
Faced with adversity,
I will persevere.
I will carry this commitment
with me this year and beyond.
I am an AmeriCorps member,
and I will get things done.

I have said these words before, but they never actually meant a whole lot to me. Today they did mean something to me, I said them with over 50 people that I was fortunate enough to get to know and who are giving so much back to America. Today I took the AmeriCorps pledge and meant it.

After the pledge Corie did wack me on the shoulder and gave me a lot of grief about having tricked her and said how she had been looking forward to serving with me this summer. Brandon tried to apologize for calling me “the old guy”, and a couple of other new members came up and gave me some grief, but we did kid around had some fun with it. But the gig was up and they did treat me completely differently once they found out who I was, which was disappointing, but that is why I asked to be incognito for as long as possible in the first place.

I know that none of the members that I started this orientation with will ever read this blog, but you all have given me more than you will ever know and this day will stand out in my memory for the rest of my life. I plan to do some hiking during my vacation and visit some of those that I met today and who knows, maybe I will have to schedule a site visit or two to check on the progress these members are making.

I have been invited to their end of season celebration and I will attend come hell or high water! I look forward to seeing the changes that will occur over the next 12 weeks as they grapple with learning to live and work hard in small team. I want to hear their stories and share vicariously in their service.

When I took this position last June as the AmeriCorps Grants & Program Officer, it was just another job to me, manage a project, process grants and do some financial stuff. As I have worked in this position, I have come to realize that I cannot consider it “simply” as another job, being an AmeriCorps “anything” is so much more than just a job, but I didn’t realize how much until today.

Staff are there to support AmeriCorps members like the ones that I was fortunate enough to meet today and the thousands of others just like them. Sometimes “staff pukes” like me forget or don’t realize that the real reason we exist is to support those members, not simply oversee programs or to enforce rules or regulations. When I look at it in that light, it completely changes how I look at what I do.

I strongly recommend that all staff associated with AmeriCorps do this same thing, go to a program orientation incognito and share this experience that members go through, to either to renew or establish the real reason for what we do. Serve our Country and the AmeriCorps members who volunteer to serve.

So to me I feel that my “service” as an AmeriCorps Grants & Program Officer actually started today. Today what I do became more than just a job.

I honestly and truly wish I was going with them.

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Well this is the first week since, I made my choice to go forward in the career I have chosen instead of going back into the education realm. I had my feet sort of in both, but it seemed as though I was still more in education than I was in Volunteer Management.

Making the choice has helped! I have given myself permission to move on and I actually went into my Twitter , Google Reader, Facebook account last weekend and deleted all but a select few educators or blogs from those social media accounts. It was actually a lot more difficult than I thought it would be. Many of these educators I had many conversations with on Twitter, and read or commented on many informative posts on their blogs.
It was a hard door to mostly shut, but I kept a few that I have had the pleasure to meet: Rich, Dan, Mark, Jeff and although I have never met him personally Clay B. and Alfredtwo on Twitter. All of them had a great impact on my online presence and how I use social media.

This week I have begun adding non profit leaders/organizations, AmeriCorpsprograms, Volunteer Managers/organizations and other social change organizations. It feels a lot like when I first started researching online and finding all those educational experts and leaders, except now I am looking for leaders/organizations in social change. Lots of new people’s names and organizations to learn and a whole lot more information to read and digest.

It does help that I know a bit more about social media and have a more focused view of what I want to use and how to use them to my best effect.

  • Twitter is my instant news feed…
  • Google Reader my RSS feed reader, so I can keep caught up on what is going on.
  • Podcasts for when I am exercising or vegging out to learn more about my field.
  • Blogging – getting my opinion out there and reading other’s blogs to learn more
  • Facebook – I know that many are using it professionally, but I prefer to keep it more as a place for my family and closer friends place
  • LinkedIn – My place to meet other like minded professionals, if you want to include me as a contact there, please do.

The journey is moving onward and it is rather interesting to see that as I have gotten older, I am becoming much more “socially aware” than I used to be. It is interesting to look where I have come from to where I am now.

Those are my thoughts, what are your’s

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Star Trek

Image via Wikipedia

We just got back from sitting in a theater with a bunch of other middle aged geeks. I didn’t count more than 10 without gray hair in the theater today. I don’t care, it was a glorious ride. I like what they did with my generation’s Star Trek.

You had to have watched the original Star Trek to follow some of the story lines. There were a lot of things that were brought up that if you hadn’t been watching, would go by without any understanding or notice, but I know that I had a great time this afternoon. It was complete escapist fantasy and just plan fun.

I enjoyed the premise and the story line. The new characters captured the original cast’s characteristics and mannerism. The new McCoy was perfect and I think I like the new Kirk better. New Spock didn’t do anything for me, but the old Spock was in the movie and was good. I liked the old Scotty and Uhuru better. But you know it doesn’t matter, if they turn into a TV series, I would definitely watch, otherwise I will wait for the next movie.

The movie itself was enjoyable, a little too loud and a focus more the action and less on the social aspect than the original. But damn I did enjoy it and so did Mary, who is an old Trekkie too!

Thanks Christie & Katie for buying us the tickets.

Would I recommend going to see this movie – absolutely, I am ready to go back and see it again – right now.

Live long and prosper or “good luck” and enjoy the new time-space continuum 🙂

If you have a comment or a different perspective on what I have written, please click on the Please Comment here at the top right of this post and comment.

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The first year in any new position/profession is the most difficult, you are learning new procedures, systems, terminology and a host of other things. After the first year, we all tend or need to look at where we are, the progress we are making and if the direction we are going is right for us.

I have reached that professional crossroad…I have been in my new job for almost a year. I am “loosing touch” with theeducation profession, but I at the same time I have never totally accepted becoming a Volunteer Manager/State Employee. I have always had in the back of my mind that I could go back to teaching, if/when I got “tired” of what I am doing now. Looking honestly at myself I have realized that I can’t keep that attitude and that to remain uncommitted to either world any longer, is unfair to where I work today and to myself. I have to choose between continuing to progress in my current position or go back into teaching before most of what I learned is no longer pertinent or current.

Since I started in my new position, I have learned a lot professionally and personally. The things that stand out the most are:

Volunteer Management basics: It took me quite a bit of struggling to understand and accept that Volunteer Management is different than just human resources or managing/leading people in a workplace. Volunteers are just that volunteers, they don’t have to be there, but they want and need to be treated as fellow professionals, know what is expected of them up front, use their actual abilities (not just be used as low-end free laborers) and be recognized for freely giving their time and efforts. This took me longer than it should have to figure this out, but 30 years of Personnel Management experience, was difficult to unlearn and was a lot different than what the Volunteer Management profession actually is and the direction that it is headed. Looking onVolunteerMaine is a great place to see what I mean.

AmeriCorps program management: AmeriCorps members and programs are great. The hardest part of being a Grants Program Officer is balancing the need to have programs/members abide by the regulations and still go by the AmeriCorps motto of “Getting things done”. It has caused me my share of headaches and heartburn, but as they say the first year is always the hardest and I know that I have learned a great deal about this balancing act. The hardest thing that I have to had to wrap my head around was that AmeriCorps program management incorporates the best practices of Volunteer Management into its program management practices and I think that others may have this same problem. But as I have gained more experience, I am understanding the inter-relationship between AmeriCorps and Volunteer Management to a much greater degree.

Emergency Management: Although this is a much smaller part of my job, it is also one of the most important parts to me. As a retired “Coastie” I believe in being prepared for emergency situations and have participated in a few emergency/disaster events. During the past year I have gained a deep appreciation for the tireless work that the Emergency Managers at the local, county and state levels do and the time and effort that their volunteers provide to others (before, during and after) the actual emergency/disaster situation. I have learned a multitude of new acronyms like COAD, VOAD, MEMA, VRC, VADM, NCCC and NIMS that sounded at first like a different language and really it is. If you can’t speak in these terms you will be at a significant disadvantage during an emergency response/recovery situation. This is a part of my job that I have a real passion for and is becoming more a focus for my position.

State Government: The stereotypes of most State government employees are wrong – period. I have worked in military, education, nonprofits and private industry fields, so I have seen what actually happens in those different venues and believe that my insights are very accurate. Most of the individuals that I have had the pleasure to work with over the past year in State Government are dedicated, very competent, and willingly work many long hours (beyond the simple 40 they are paid for) that the public never sees. I am proud of being a Maine State employee and no we don’t always agree (on interpretations or how something should be accomplished), but most are working towards the “greater good” rather than just a paycheck. This positive attitude of State workers was a very eye opening and gratifying experience for me, because many others, only seem to give a very different (negative) view of State employees, not the true professionalism and camaraderie that I have seen on a daily basis.

Like most of people, I tend to have a unrealistic remembrance of a previous job or profession, that things were better than they really were. We don’t remember the “other” reasons why we left. I really wanted to look at my teaching experience as objectively as possible to help me through this crossroad one way or another and went back over many of my personal blogs that I wrote while I was a teacher, and which brought back the “other” reasons why I left teaching: the hours that a teacher spends on their “own time” doing school work; during the school year school comes first, family second; staying after school for this event or that event (without compensation); creating lesson plans that no one looks at; the endless changes to what or how you are supposed to teach; local, state and national standards; standardized testing; being sworn at (I’ve been called some pretty interesting things and told to do things that are physically impossible), spit on, kicked, hit, or bitten; being sick and tired of being sick and tired (burnt out); the general lack of respect that many in the public give teachers and a variety of other reasons. The scheduled vacations and amount of time off are great, but the time off isn’t really time off most of the time, it is catch up time, time to reduce the burn-out factor to a reasonable level or take classes towards re-certification.

Looking at going back to teaching with a romantic eye only – yes I would love to go back. Those “aha” moments by students are so rewarding, the connections you make with students or other faculty are fantastic. But this honest reflection on my teaching experiences caused me to look differently at the ”why’s” of why I left last year and dispelled much of my romanticized remembrance of teaching.

Somehow the below picture was predictive, it is the last picture I was taken of me as a teacher. Although I am dancing around and having fun around some of the students, it looks as though I am waving goodbye.

Harold Sombrero picture 2008I have finally come to the understanding and acceptance that teaching is no longer my profession and that I need to move on. Will I miss the classroom – yes…who knows maybe when I retire next time, I will volunteer and give back to a local school. I will know what a good volunteer is supposed to do.

Did I come to this understanding easily or overnight…no, but when I looked carefully and honestly at this professional crossroad, I faced the reality of why I left teaching and recognize what I have gained over the past year. I have seen the passion and willingness that Volunteers initially show up with and I want to be a part of the changes that are underway to ensure that they keep that passion and remain assets to the organization that they have chosen share their passion with.

It is time for me to actually commit to my new profession – Volunteer Management. So I will learn more about my chosen profession, its varied responsibilities and change my online presence away from being an educator and move towards being a Volunteer Manager and all the other collateral duties that volunteer managers accumulate. My journey as a Volunteer Manager is just now beginning and I am looking forward to seeing how it unfolds. Maybe in six months or so, an update will be in order.

When I was younger, I never would have done this indepth reflection and could very well of done something impulsively that I may have regretted later…like going back into the classroom and leaving where I am now for the wrong reasons – a romanticized memory of how teaching was and should be. Experience and patience is coming to me “slowly” as I get older :).

What do you think? When was the last time you honestly reflected on your present job versus a romanticized version of what or where you were in the past. Do it, you might be surprised, I know I was, I originally believed that I was heading back to the classroom.

Those are my thoughts, what are yours?

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