Tag Archives: technology

AI Doesn’t Like Blueberry Muffins

First a warning, this blog post will ramble because it was written by me… it is centered around the idea of what Artificial Intelligence’s (AI) effect is on our society.

The spark for this post centers around a number of articles about ChatGPT and its ability to write essays for students. One article used the example of a literary criticism essay covering the works of Emily Dickinson’s work. ChatGPT did a fine job, but of course it did. 

Honestly, there are only so many ways to write a literary criticism over a single poem. I actually use poetry to introduce the literary criticism essay. We discuss a number of poems, breakdown how elements like similes, personification, even rhyming is used in the poems. Then the students write their essays. At the heart of a literary criticism is the idea of teaching the reader something about the poem.

So, many of the students’ essays read about the same. The introductions and conclusions are different, yet the body of the essays center around what anyone can learn if they analyzed the poem themselves.

I’m not especially worried about ChatGPT writing essays, or even its own poetry. AI will never be able to write a narrative essay, at least not a real one. A narrative essay is about the meaning of a moment for the writer.

AI doesn’t deal with the complexity of living. It will never be hungry. Or feel the joy of a great meal. AI will never open an unexpected present that fills their heart. Or deal with the bad mood of a loved one.

I do worry about us giving our lives over to technology in general. 

I see too many students just consuming their screens. At the moment it is TikTok. They watch all these people doing different things, while they just sit there. I actually encourage students to make their own videos (yes, I’ve been in a few). 

Also, the idea of just letting technology tell us what we should listen to or watch next; from products on Amazon to a playlist Spotify thinks we would like. Yes, we do tend to enjoy certain genres of music, but there is so much of our human experience connected to media that an algorithm can never give us a perfect recommendation.

As an example, I will listen to a song or watch a movie that I do not like because someone I care about likes the movie or song. I usually find something interesting from the media, even if it doesn’t get saved to a playlist.

Yet, we can just let technology live for us… that is what I am afraid of.  What’s so funny is how we keep advancing technology to be more human. We marvel at how close we can get AI to write like Edgar Allen Poe, yet here we are trying to be human but addicted to the technology.

What I know for sure is that AI will never enjoy the tradition of making blueberry muffins for breakfast every Sunday morning. And that I will always write my own stuff.

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Sharks have to move to stay alive.

This is mostly true (Must Sharks Keep Swimming to Stay Alive?). For most species they have to move to push water thru their gills to breathe. So, to stay alive, they must constantly swim, be in constant motion.

What about us?

Do we need to move to live?

I say, yes.

And not just physically. We need to move mentally and emotionally. Living is moving. One of my dadisms is “We are all works in progress.” I know that we can stop growing, but we shouldn’t. Yet, there are too many things today that hinders us from moving in our lives.

The obvious factor is smart phones. I see the effects of this device as a dad and as a teacher. 

My students get restless when we take notes, but if I give them some down time with their phones… the room is quiet… and they just sit there looking at the screen. I see this with my daughters, too.

The way we use our smart phone gives us a false sense of motion, of living. An interesting TED Talk, “Why our screens make us less happy” by Adam Alter, highlights the fact that many of the apps, social media, and games have no “stopping cues”. Moments that allow us to consider moving on to something else, like the end of a chapter in a book. So, we scroll through Twitter or Instagram because we can, it feels like moving. It keeps us scrolling because the feed is moving, too. There is nothing that cues us to stop. Of course tools like this don’t want us to stop.

Adam’s talk also highlights why this can be an issue. In his talk he visually shows how much time we have in a workday from three different years; 2007, 2015, and 2017. The blue sections indicate work, responsibilities for family, and eating/sleeping. The white space is our “personal time” and the red area overtaking the white area is how much time we spend on a screen.

Chart from Alter, Adam. “Why our screens make us less happy.” TEDTalk. April 2017.

Life is moving. We are not moving when we hold a screen in front of our face. It’s not just the physical aspect either. If you think about it, much or our life is lived in our hearts and minds. The way we think, what we feel, our motivation affects how we move about in a typical day. 

We need to move in this field of our lives, too. Screen time is not the main hurdle in this area, attitude is. As an English teacher I have to fight the belief students have that reading is stupid. Understand, I teach seniors, so their belief about reading (and writing) is hard to break through. Reading is one way we can learn, but we can learn from others through listening to their stories and perspective. Social media is not the place for this, especially at this moment.

Growing takes emotions and thinking. Feeling all of our emotions allow us to understand ourselves. This takes courage and a willingness to face our own shortcomings. Thinking through our emotions and our perspective makes us better people. Also, this type of moving allows our everyday life to be lived on a deeper level, to have a fuller, more joyful life. We stop taking things for granted because our hearts and minds are in constant motion. We are moving. We are living.

Maybe Ryan Bingham (character from the movie Up in the Air) was right…

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I used to

I used to get up at 5:00 a.m. to get ready for the day. One cup of coffee, yogurt, and a banana. I would get back into bed (on my wife’s side) for a few minutes as my wife would finish getting ready for the day. I would shower while she ate breakfast.

But now, we get up at random times.


I used to teach in front of students. I could tell who was having a bad day. I could tell if my hyper class would have to be reined in because the lesson needed focus from them. My day was a roller coaster of grading, answering emails, and teaching.

But now, I answer emails and grade assignments as they are completed online.


I used to believe that I would live forever. That I had time to do everything I wanted with my life. Life was an open highway.

But now, well actually, I’ve realized that my days are numbered for some time now. This moment in time dealing with the COVID-19 situation has reinforced the reality that life is fleeting. As a society we are forced to deal with so many factors we take for granted in our everyday life. A handshake, eating out, graduations, and just the joy of an open highway.


I used to distrust people. OK, to be honest I still do, but that is a personal journey.

But now, I wonder what the effects of this pandemic will have on our culture. We were already dealing with anxiety, depression, and feelings of loneliness. Dealing with screen time and its connections to these emotions.


I used to go to church with my family, shake hands with others during The Liturgy of the Eucharist (Peace Be With You).

But now, we watch Mass on TV. Hearing the echoes of the few people in attendance during the filming of the service.


I used to make one box of blueberry muffins. When the boys were young, 12 muffins were enough for the family.

But now, we have added scrambled eggs and bacon or sausage, and we will have to start making 24 muffins as my oldest son has moved back home to finish his semester of college online.


I used to believe in love…

But now, I still do… There is no greater force in this life than Love. Oh, I know hate and other negative forces seem to gain more attention and seem to be more powerful. That the world is falling apart… but Love is what will rebuild the world.


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Throwback: Mixtapes


“Dang it!”

I push rewind for the fifth time on the left side player. Then rewind, then play, to hear the end of the song so I can stop the tape. There has to be the right amount of silence between songs, plus this is the last song on this side, so I have to make sure it fits. I have already recorded the songs on the paper cover, in pen even. This is the first mixtape for this girlfriend, so it has to be right.

Cassette with tile of post

Text message: i made u a playlist on youtube http:tube/s6dfe82jn

Text message: some obscure emoji…

My kids are missing out on making mixtapes. And that saddens me, here’s why.


One, a mixtape took work. You had to know if songs would fit each side. Had to have the tape of the songs you wanted. If you didn’t you had to borrow them, or try to get the song taped off the radio. And that was always a difficult situation. The DJ might talk right up to the first line of the song, or you were busy doing something when the song came on and couldn’t get to the radio to hit record.

When you handed that tape to her, you both knew the work it took to make it and that meant something.

Two, the challenge to pick the right songs. Depending on where you were in the relationship affected the song selection. So, you would have to listen to every song’s lyrics. You would have to evaluate if the lyrics were too serious for the relationship, while also deciding if she would actually like the song. There was some serious analysis put into song selection for mixtapes.

Third, the joy of sharing something about ourselves. OK, to be truthful this happens now, even with YouTube playlists. Right now my sons and I are sharing our top five songs at the moment (one song each day). A kind of end of summer thing. Over Christmas break we shared our top 10 important songs. My best friend and I have made various mixtapes (and then CDs) over the years. I have a feeling we will make a mix for when we turn 50…

A mixtape, or even a playlist, allows the other person to know us in a unique personal way. Yes, it is nostalgic, but I still think a mixtape is better than a playlist… there are no commercials, only music that I choose to share with you.


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Why You Won’t Read This

Wall with title of the post

I know that you won’t read this post. Here’s why.

  1. I am not saying anything you don’t already know. Whether I am writing about fatherhood, love, school, or any other topic, my views are found in books, YouTube videos, and other blogs. At the moment of writing this there are already  2 million new post on the internet according to WorldOMeters. In fact even opposing views are found through these channels. My beliefs are centered on my personal story and do correlate with many other people, even you at times. I am not alone in my views, and neither are you.


  1. I am not popular. On Twitter I only have 2,477 followers. I only have 272 friends on Facebook. On Instagram I only have 58 followers, and my most like photo has 19 likes (I do have some videos with more likes, but I think it is because my sons are the subject of the videos, so they share them). Katy Perry has 100,365,254 followers on Twitter. Cristiano Ronaldo has 103,576,615 likes on Facebook. Beyoncé set the record for the most likes on Instagram with her pregnancy photo; 7.8 million likes in 24 hours.


  1. I don’t have a focus. Most of the advice on making a blog work is centered around focusing your message, or branding your identity. There is also the advice about writing great headlines or building email lists and that post should be short. I use the free version of WordPress, and have a basic layout. No pop-ups or banners to get you to follow me. I do have a Flickr feed, though, I think that is cool.

So why am I even writing this? Why have I been writing a blog (in some form) since 2009?

Because of you.

Because of me.

Because of life.

Because it is all connected…

If there is one post, one sentence, or idea that helps you make your life better, it was worth writing it. I may never meet you in person, but that doesn’t mean our lives are separated. Honestly, if you think about it, technology allows us to build powerful connections that can make a positive difference in this world. And not just in a grand way, but in our everyday life. A single tweet, picture we share, or reading a post can make a bad day better. That’s awesome.

So, thanks for not reading this post today. I hope it has been a bright spot in your day. I’ll talk (write) to you soon.


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Life Without a Phone

iphoneI know this is going to shock you… I have been without my iPhone for two weeks. It finally died during Christmas break. I have a replacement phone on the way, but it is back-ordered. I’ve learned a few things about how a smartphone impacts our daily life.


Created at PicLit.com

First, life goes on. Honestly. in some ways, it has been good not to have my phone… or maybe I should say apps. Some readers may have noticed that I have not been as active on Twitter lately. Especially with sharing my typography photos I make with Typic. Which I also share those photos on iTagged and Instagram. I do miss taking photos and not just for the creative things I do with them.

I could not take a photo of any of my children during the break. No smiling faces as they opened presents. No fun shots as the family let our new guinea pig, Kota, play in the living room.  Even worse, no chance to share those photos with Grandma and grandpa in Wyoming. I also couldn’t send text messages to other friends and family just to say hello. Let alone communicate with my wife to handle our busy everyday life. Who’s picking up who? Can I stop and get milk?

But life goes on.

I am more connected with the people around me. I’m not checking my Twitter notifications while my daughters take a bath.  I’m playing or talking to them as they make bubble beards. I am getting projects completed in half the time at work. I notice how people are feeling through their eyes. And honestly, right now, I feel more relaxed.  I feel free, not connected to my phone.

This feeling is interesting because when my phone first died I was stressed. I couldn’t check in on one of my favorite games, Puzzle and Dragons. Puzzle and Dragons uses a simple psychology reinforcement of tracking how many days you have played total and how many days in a row. Before my phone died, I had played for over 600 days. My streak was 496 days. Now, I don’t spend hours a day playing Puzzle and Dragons. But as you can see, I was connected to it.I won’t even discuss how many worlds I have lost in Minecraft Pocket EditionTheTop




I can’t calculate  how much time I spent with Twitter alone. Add all the time I listen to my music, checking Flipboard, researching new apps and just texting friends, and you can see that I was connected to the phone.

There are a number of studies about our addictive behavior with technology, this is a true concern for our development as people and a culture. These last two weeks have been an interesting case study of how connected my life is to my phone. Without my phone I am more connected with the people around me.  I’m more connected to what is going on in my life right now. But without my phone my connections with people and interest is affected. Connecting with my family in other states, friends and colleagues on Twitter, and even communicating with my family to make our daily life run smoothly has been lost.  I miss taking photos and playing Puzzle and Dragons. I miss creating typography pictures.

I learned I can live without a smartphone and when I get my replacement to make sure I disconnect from the phone to connect with the people around me. The past two weeks have reinforced that technology should enhance our lives, not control them.

But the most interesting thing I learned is that I don’t want to live without a smartphone. And that idea is for another post, I think the mailman has just pulled up…


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Tech is Awesome

Sometimes it is the simplest moments that bring the greatest joy.  My second son and I jammed out to Aloe Blacc’s, “The Man,” on the way to basketball practice last night.

On the way home I thought about how technology allowed our moment to be so cool.  First, my son and I jam out all the time.  But last night just highlighted what an awesome time we are living in.

My son asked me if I had heard the new Aloe Blacc song. I asked which one and he said, “the I’m the man song.”  I said I hadn’t heard the whole song, but knew of the song because of the Kevin Garnett Beats commercial.  Now, this is when technology kicked in to foster a great father and son moment.

Our minivan has Bluetooth for our phones. So, quickly we looked up the song on Grooveshark website. Switched the radio to broadcast my phone and soon we were bobbing our heads while we sang, “Go ahead tell everybody. I’m the man. I’m the man.  I’m the man.”

You might be thinking, there is nothing special about the technology.  That is true.  In fact my son and I may have jammed out to another song.  But ten years ago, this wouldn’t have happened.  We take for granted what technology does for us everyday.  How awesome it is right now… I think Neil Pasricha would agree with me.

Have an awesome day!

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What happens when a connected teacher loses the connection?

A normal hurdle in our connected lives is home Internet service.  For the last three days our Internet has been down.  And life has been different.

First, we have been spending more time together in the living room.  The older kids still had their mobile devices, but mostly to listen to music or to read.  My oldest daughter has been spending time working on her first graphic novel, the boys have been taking turns holding their new sister, and the two other girls have been running sprints to the front door.

Mom and dad have been intertwined into the activities.  I am the official starter for the sprints. The girls line up next to me and I say, “Go, Go, Go!”  Mom will make sure the boys hold their sister’s head right.  And we all check the newest panel in our daughter’s project.

The disconnect has allowed us a chance to reconnect during this busy time.

But being disconnected has its drawbacks.

First semester is the time I teach the Eng. 101 class.  The students use Moodle to turn in everything.  In the best circumstances, I am always just a little behind in grading.  The students write almost everyday.  I am now days behind in just that class.  I have work to do to just get caught up.

My other classes use Schoology, and I have kept up through the app on my phone.

Photo by former student Angelica.

Photo by former student Angelica.

But when the rest of our world stays connected, we have a digital mountain to climb when we reconnect with them.  We have emails to read and respond to, tweets and status updates to respond to, and for teachers, piles of digital papers to grade.

We might have come to the point that we cannot function well without being connected.  And that idea is for another blog.

A technician is headed to our house this morning to fix the problem.  And I will be back to grading papers late into the night. And tweeting during my breaks, of course.


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Whatever happened to Georgia Wonder?

Back in 2009 I was following a band Georgia Wonder on Twitter. I was also teaching a unit on digital literacy for my sophomores. I had a crazy idea to try to connect with people I followed on Twitter to enhance some of the topics we were covering in class. One of those people was Julian Moore of the band Georgia Wonder. He agreed to talk to my sophomores via iChat to talk about the music business.

Here is the online magazine my students produced from that lesson: Chalk: Georgia Wonder issue.

Here is the blog post Julian wrote: Nebraska USA.

But this post is not about that lesson; it is about relationships. Relationships in our digital age.

Julian and I hit it off right away. In fact we both have the same birthday. For quite some time after the iChat lesson we kept in contact on a regular bases. Georgia Wonder was working on a new album, and in fact the class and I got to hear the first single from the album as Julian was working on it. Today it is 2013 and I have lost contact with Julian. There have only been two posts on Twitter from the band since last year. Their blog has not been updated in a long time. Julian is working on a novel, but that blog has not been updated either. So what happen to a friendship in the making? Life.

Let me take a minute to bring in a few ideas that have been on my mind lately. In the TECHS class we have been discussing digital citizenship, and part of that discussion has been the change in our definitions of friendship, communication, and relationships. Yesterday we watched the following TED talk “Alone Together” by Sherry Turkle.

I have been reading the book You are not a Gadget by Jaron Lanier, which discuss many of the same ideas. This blog isn’t about those either.

Now this is a hard truth. I know that if I stopped using Twitter or Facebook, nobody would really care. Somebody might think off hand that I hadn’t posted anything in awhile, but life would go on. I will be starting a new job soon and in a few months after I leave ESU 10 somebody might think about me, but life goes on. But here is the point, the aspect we as a culture and as individuals are discovering and working through; life goes on whether we are online or not. (And I am thinking we need to be offline a little more… but that is for another post) But when we embrace the power to enhance our relationships through technology we create an incredible personal experience that enriches what we do and who we can become. At the moment much of technology discussion feels like technology is a separate aspect to our lives. It is not; it is a tool that can enrich our lives.

So what does this have to do with Georgia Wonder? Good question. I may never connect with Julian again, but the possibility is there because of technology. But just like any friendship, job, or change, life goes on. But my life, and my students’ lives, was enriched by our connection. If we keep the focus on how technology can make our lives better; I think we will do just fine.

By the way, Georgia Wonder, if you get the chance to read this… I’m still listening to your music.

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Aurasma Lite allows you to create and view augmented reality tags, or Auras as they are called, in the world around you. The app allows you to create your own tag with premade Auras provided in the app (Aurasma animation, images or 3D models), or leave your own photo or movie file from your photo stream.

There are two options for making an Aura with the app, regular and local (published in a channel). A regular Aura is usually connected to an image that you place the Aura on.  You can then share that Aura through social media or email.  When someone clicks on the Aura link they can see your tag if they have the same image. A quick example would be leaving an Aura on a newspaper photo.

A local Aura is placed in a physical location.  This is great for creating tags for schools, or museums.  The difference is that the user makes a channel to share the Auras left at that location.

Aurasma also has a studio to create layered Auras.  The picture in the “Why I like it” section will give you an example of how the studio works.

Why I like it:

Steps to View:

1.Download the Aurasma Lite app.

2. Create an account.

3. Search for  “Jamey Boelhower ” with the search option and subscribe to my channel.

4. Point mobile device at the picture below to activate the Auras. Double tap the video to go full screen, tap the A to go to Aurasma’s site, and tap the Twitter icon to see my profile. Video was made with ScreenChomp.

Try to have iPhone in the full screen, might have to move your device to start the Auras.

Use in the classroom:

I think the power of Aurasma for educators is in the studio creation of Auras.  Below is an example of content I have tagged in a social studies book.

Map of Mayan Civilization

Auras include video and picture of temple.

Like the location Auras, the studio allows you to have a channel that you can update at anytime.  You can leave instructional videos, websites, and other material tagged in traditional books.  Many students use the calculator on their phone to do math problems, imagine, though, that they can review a lesson because it is tagged to an image in their textbook.

Using the app to create Auras can be a great way to make posters or bulletin boards interactive in the classroom.  Students can make review videos for books and leave Auras on book covers.  There are some many ways to use Aurasma in the classroom.

Share your ideas with me via Twitter (jdog90).

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