Blog postings

I write about themes of interest to me: personal development, education, addictions, technology, parenting, and creativity. If you like what you see, feel feel to leave a comment or get in touch to continue the conversation.

Understanding Disability

The landscape of what we have chosen to call disability changes rapidly, and for many reasons. Parents, educators, social service providers and others who work with the disabled (especially children) should be familiar with the scope of these changes and how they might affect the individuals with whom they work ...

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Improving the Classroom: Five Easy Steps

1. Approach Teaching as a Devotion

The quality of an instructor’s presence has more impact on the learning environment than any other single factor. Love what you do, acknowledge the potentially profound role you play in a learner’s life. Get past the politics and the drudgery and the ...

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The Art and Craft of the Personal Essay

A personal essay is a non-fiction creative writing essay in which the author utilizes the perspective of personal experience to articulate larger themes (in traditional literary criticism, such themes were once termed “universal”). A personal essay focuses on the perceptions and feelings of the author and uses these to reflect ...

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The World Tree

South of the riverbend, twenty minutes along a trail fringed with pink flowers of hardhack and gangly stalks of sweet gale, a black spruce that I call the World Tree stands against a spring sky. Here, within earshot of the encroaching highways of suburban Vancouver, a broad bole streaked with ...

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Tips on Tightening

For most of its history literature has taken the form of epic poetry. This history is long: five thousand years, perhaps much longer. And within the genre of epic poetry -- from the Egyptian Pyramid Texts to Homer to the Kalevala -- every word counts. The rhythm counts. Resonance and fluidity count ...

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Myths of the Primordial Waters

Myths of the Primordial Waters:
Ancient Mariners, Human Migration, and the Sea
(Originally published in Pacific Yachting, 2007)

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Vancouver's Best Beaches

Vancouver has some of the best beaches on the west coast of the Americas: vast, open beaches, small beaches, secret beaches. But most people — even locals who have lived here for many years — are familiar only with the big kahuna beaches: Spanish Banks, the Stanley Park beaches, Wreck Beach. There ...

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Rogue Waves: Wanderers of the Sea

In February 1933, on its way from San Diego to Manila, the US Navy ship Ramapo was caught in the teeth of a relentless storm. The wind had slowly gathered momentum across thousands of nautical miles of the open Pacific, piling up monstrous swells: twenty feet, then thirty, then higher ...

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Choosing Wood for Marine Applications

In an age of plastics and composites, wood has not surrendered its claim on the mariner. The color and texture of grain, the particular warmth of wood in the sun, the way a teak gunwale is shaped precisely to meet the grasping hand: these qualities of wood embody the romance ...

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Strategies for Creative Teaching

Teaching (in its various forms) is one of the most influential roles in society. After parenting, it is perhaps the most crucial, for all ages. And yet, teaching — whether to children or adults — is a profession in which few practitioners have any substantial training. Some instructors have certificates or degrees ...

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Blinking Cursor, Blank Page

Late in Heart of Darkness, after Marlow has meandered deep into the jungle but before he meets Kurtz, who utters his now-famous judgement upon human nature, The horror! The horror! -- before this, the most famous scene in twentieth century literature, Marlow finds himself making necessary repairs to the ship. He ...

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Casco: The Ship of Robert Louis Stevenson

They were led, one at a time, from the smoky dark of the hold and up the narrow companionway. Each man was flanked by a crew-member who spoke in clipped and rushing tones. The ship was quiet, the sails slack.The men in the hold waited, unsure of what was ...

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On John Terpstra's The Boys

Storytelling is the territory of the trickster, the mythological emissary of joyful, irreverent spontaneity. The task of the trickster involves joining together things that seem distinct, or separating things falsely conjoined. The trickster articulates and redraws meaningful connections; in so doing he becomes master of all the arts. In his ...

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At Easter; Thoughts on Alcoholism

Alcohol offers the drinker a reverie, a nostalgia for the way things once were, or are imagined to have been. Alcohol halts the inner life, or guides it to splendors of the past, or comforts the lost self in the present. Whereas the stimulant user always gazes forward, hungry, the ...

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Updating Odysseus: Essential Tools for Today's Mariner

In the greatest sea epic of Western literature, the mariner Odysseus is held captive for seven years on an island by the enchantress Calypso. Eventually, in a debate among the gods, it is decided (grudgingly, for Odysseus has offended Poseidon) that the hero should be freed to return home. Zeus ...

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