Monthly Archives: January 2010

Spatial Intelligence

26 January 2010

Spatial Intelligence

Spatial intelligence is a term applied to the ability to conceptualize objects and their relationships in your mind. It is sometimes called visual thinking or visual intelligence. It is used to formulate decisions based on perceived obstacles. A hiker applies spatial intelligence when he uses a compass and visual awareness of his surroundings to determine his location on a map. Spatial intelligence also can be demonstrated in loading luggage into a vehicle. By visualizing how each piece or bag will occupy space, a person can identify the order and placement to maximize the available space.

However, the spatial, or visual, intelligence moves beyond just the physical traits. This can be an important skill for writers. Dr. Gerald Grow described that through metaphors “[w]e communicate new thoughts by linking the unknown to the known by means of spatial intelligence.” This was demonstrated last semester in our class when we used outlines, maps and drawings. The abstract mapping allowed us to view our writing subject from a different angle and to see how it related to other parts of our writing.

Search engine used for research: Clusty — Clusty is a metasearch engine that combines results from multiple sources including Yahoo!, Ask, Bing, and others. Vivísimo, a company founded by Carnegie Mellon University scientists, developed Clusty. An important feature of Clusty is its ability to cluster results based on subject; it compares this grouping to subfolders.


URL: by Gerald Grow, Ph.D., Professor of Journalism, Florida A&M University; accessed January 24, 2010.

URL: by Andy Carvin; accessed January 24, 2010.

URL: from Wily Walnut; accessed January 24, 2010.

URL:, “Connecting Learning Styles and Multiple Intelligences Theories Through Learning Strategies: An Online Tutorial for Library Instruction” by May Ying Chau; accessed January 24, 2010.

URL: by David Fairley; accessed January 24, 2010.


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Hello world!

Here we go. This is my very first attempt at blogging. I’m going to begin by just posting writing I’ve done in my classes. Later I may delve into greater endeavors, but for now we’ll see how this goes.

These writings have already been completed and graded. I will not post my writings here until after grading.

I may have changed some facts in these writings to fit the circumstances or assignment. For those of you who know any facts that contradict what is in my class writings, consider the purpose of the writing before  pointing out the error.

I hope you enjoy.

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Posted by on January 3, 2010 in Uncategorized


“Where I Am From” – Saginaw, Michigan

14 December 2009

“Where I Am From” – Saginaw, Michigan

“I was born in Saginaw, Michigan”
from the song “Saginaw, Michigan” by Lefty Frizzel

I remember growing up on Woodward Drive in Saginaw, Michigan, a small town of about 70,000 people. Small farm towns surround Saginaw. The summer temperatures are in the mid-eighties and humid; the winters are cold, subfreezing, with lots of snow. I lived in a small house with three bedrooms and one bath. We had a large backyard with a cherry tree, sandbox, small garden, swing set and many shrubs. Railroad tracks ran along the back of the property.

I remember the cherry tree. Every year the railroad company had to spray the bushes along the tracks. One year they sprayed too much. The over spray killed some trees in people’s backyards, including our cherry tree. My dad made the best of it. He trimmed the limbs down to near nothing. He painted the remains of the cherry tree auburn red. Then he built an A-frame fort up in the tree. This became my hideaway. I would spend endless hours in the tree by myself or with neighbor friends. We would design complex schemes to defend the fort from foreign invaders, like my little sister.

I remember water fights in the back yard. My little sister, Toni, was afraid of getting wet. But she didn’t mind spraying others with the hose. When the tide turned and I was the one spraying, she would cry like a little girl. Dad would often join in the fun with the hose. He would try to spray us and we would try to not get wet. Usually, our attempts to elude his pursuit were not wholehearted.

I remember racing dump trucks through the backyard with my good friend, Tommy Wagner. The backyard was mostly dirt and rocks. One time, he and I were eating Popsicles and playing with our trucks. We kept the Popsicle sticks in our mouths like fake cigarettes. We started a race to the back door. With my arms stretch down to the sides of the yellow Tonka dump truck, I pushed the little truck as fast as I could. I had to bend completely at the waist and lean forward to reach the truck and still extend my legs into a run. As I was running, the front of the truck hit a rock and stopped. I went flying over the truck. I was unable to react fast enough and tumbled head first to the ground. The Popsicle stick, still in my mouth, sliced across the edge of my tongue and stabbed into my cheek. I jumped up and, with blood streaming from my mouth, I went screaming to my mom. The injury turned out to be relatively minor, simply using ice and pressure stopped the bleeding. Mom made it all better, but I still have the scar.

I remember the sandbox in the backyard. It was extra deep. It was so deep, once my little brother hid by burying himself in it. When he didn’t answer our mom’s calls, she almost called the police to look for him. I remember building up a large wall of sand in the sandbox; almost enough to hide crouched behind it. I snuck back to the sandbox with Candy Staples, and ducked down behind the mound to steal a kiss from her.

I remember playing football in the neighbor’s yard. We would use the house as one sideline and a row of thorn bushes as the other. One time, I was sprinting down the sideline marked by the bushes. A neighbor was chasing me, trying to tackle me. I tried to escape the tag, but I was pushed into the shrubs. One thorn stuck in my thigh, but I kept playing. It wasn’t until the evening I realized the thorn was still there. Mom did her magic and it was all-better; except for another scar.

I remember the train sets we had in our basement. We had three or four set up at the same time. We also had a pool table in the basement. My dad put together a large piece of plywood and tacked the railroad tracks to it. He put the plywood on top of the pool table to make it easier to play. He then connected chains to each corner and ran them through a pulley system. The chains ran to a crank that we would use to lift the train set off the table and into the rafters of the basement.

I remember my first cigarette. Toni, Tommy and I were standing under the cherry tree when the White boys came looking for their sister Sharon. As they were leaving, one of them threw down a lit cigarette butt. I was too easily enticed to try it. I didn’t know at the time, but my dad was sitting just inside the window in the dining room.

But most of all I remember the snow. We would get feet of snow every year. I would build snowmen, go sledding and dig tunnels. Dad shoveled the driveway into large mounds and I would sled down them. One year, a freak ice storm hit mid Michigan. The storm coated the top of the snow with a thick layer of ice. It was so thick we rode our bikes on top of the snow. Floating above the snow made me feel superhuman. I would get going really fast, and just slide across the surface. The bike tires would spin in place. But once I started moving, stopping was the biggest challenge; I would just slide across the top. There was no traction so there wasn’t any turning. Every once in a while, I’d hit a thin spot of ice and the front wheel would dig down into the foot thick snow. I’d go flying over the handlebars.


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Where I Grew Up Poem

8 December 2009

Where I Grew Up Poem

I remember my tree fort,
Built in the skeleton of an auburn-painted cherry tree.
The secret battle plans made in the hideout
To conquer the shadowy enemies contrived.

I remember water fights in the backyard.
Being sprayed with the hose,
Our futile attempts to remain dry,
Or faked attempts to evade pursuit.

I remember racing dump trucks,
Crouching over the giant Tonkas
Speeding across the backyard
Callow disregard for hazards.

I remember my first cigarette,
Not so discretely snuck beneath the tree fort.
My fear when Dad swung open the back door
And called me into the house for a discussion.

I remember the train sets in the basement.
The many trains, the various whistles,
And interlaced tracks on the pool table.
The complex pulley system to stowaway
The tracks up into the rafters.

But most of all I remember the snow.
Building snowmen in the front yard.
The freak ice storm that cemented the snow.
The superhuman abilities enabling us to float
On top of the ice covered snow.
Riding my bike on top,
Spinning the wheels, slipping and sliding.


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“Influential Person” – Scott Kalna

19 November 2009

Profile Portrait Essay: “Influential Person” – Scott Kalna

“Speed happens when people trust each other.”
The Speed Of Trust – Stephen R. Covey

In September 1996, I received a phone call from an old friend, Scott Kalna. He was now working for the Arizona Department of Insurance and he knew they were looking for a data analyst. “Hey Wizard, are you still looking for work?” Scott said. “Wizard” was a silly nickname Scott gave to me because I “magically” fixed any computer problem he came across.

Scott is an interesting character, very personable, gets along with just about everyone. He’s a stocky guy, about five feet eight inches tall, built like a football tight end. His facial features are snowman-like, very round. His face, eyes, nose and cheeks are all round. He is very athletic and enjoys playing many sports. I met Scott soon after I moved to Arizona in 1990. My first job was with MTR Systems, a national business computer reseller in north Scottsdale. Scott was the accountant; and I was the in-house computer technician. Scott and I worked together at MTR for five years. When MTR closed, we went our separate ways, but stayed in touch. Over the next year or so, I went through a couple different jobs.

This call from Scott was very relieving. My wife Noreen and I had been through a rough streak of low income. After MTR, I wound up doing data entry jobs trying to make ends meet. Scott knew this and kept an eye out for positions where he worked. Scott continued, “Hey Wizard, I know about this position that just opened at the Department of Insurance. If you want I’ll get you the contact information.” It was a perfect opportunity. Thanks largely to Scott’s reference I did get the job.

We worked together at the Department for many years. In May 2004, I decided to go looking at cars, in particular, a Ford Mustang Mach 1. I always liked the 1970 Mach 1. Scott drove numerous models of cars, so I always asked him for advice on purchasing new vehicles. At the time, he had a 2003 Ford Mustang Cobra. Over the years that I’ve known him, he purchased, on average, one car or truck every year.

Scott had a contact, Bob Allen, in the Fleet Department at Bell Ford dealership. Noreen and I went to meet Scott at the dealership. Scott introduced us to Bob Allen. It was pretty awe inspiring looking at the vehicles in the Fleet sales area, a bulk sales area catering to businesses and their owners. There were numerous high profile vehicles like the Mustang Cobras and Cobra GTs.

Scott and I had a mutual friend, Jim, who was able to get us a Friends-and-Family discount at the dealership. The Friends-and-Family discount has a fixed price, so that eliminated most of the negotiating. It’s always nerve wracking when you are trying to buy a car. Even when you know what the price is going to be for the car, the salesmen try to find additional things that you “need”. Throughout the paperwork, Scott would nonchalantly remind Bob how these new clients came into the dealership. Bob would look over the pricings and find small adjustments he could make to reduce the cost. With Scott’s help, I ended up driving off the lot with a 2004 Azure blue Ford Mach 1 Mustang.

Scott and I have remained friends. We go to the track for fun driving. Our families get together for camping trips and ball games.

Years before I bought the car, just after I started working at the department, Scott invited me to join a coed softball team with some of the employees and contractors. After a few seasons, the team drifted apart, but some of us were still looking to play more, so I decided to step up and organize a team. It was a fun team for coworkers, spouses and friends. We continued on this team for many years.

It was late summer of 2004; we were at the Roadrunner Park. It was somewhat warm, but just at the beginning of the softball season. Despite a recent injury playing indoor soccer, Scott claimed to be ready to play softball. I was pitching, but not having a very good game. Scott came out to the pitcher’s mound to see if I wanted a relief.

“Are you alright? Your pitches seem to be a little flat,” Scott asked. After playing ball together for years, he recognized my poor pitching and my growing irritation at the umpire.

“I don’t know I just can’t seem to find the release point,” I told him.

“Why don’t you let me come in?” he said with a big grin. “I’ll pitch a couple innings and see if we can get the momentum to turn. Once we’re up by ten runs or so, you can come back in.”

He went to the mound in his classic baseball apparel; worn out cleats, team jersey, and slider pants. He pitched well through a couple batters. The other team had two outs and runners on first and second. They had one of their better batters up to the plate. The batter hit a soft grounder back at the mound. The runner was quick so Scott needed to rush the play. Scott stepped forward and scooped it up. As he planted his right foot to throw, his knee gave out. He began to fall, but made a solid throw directly to the first baseman’s glove to get the third out. He immediately crumbled to the ground and grabbed at his knee. He had to come out of the game after that play. We helped him off the field. Unfortunately, for him, he drove his Cobra that day. Because he wouldn’t be able to use the clutch to drive home, he had to phone his wife, Debbie, and have her bring their oldest son, Chris, to drive the Cobra home.

Scott had to have surgery for a torn MCL. He would have been back the next season, but, due to complications with the surgery, he ended up with a permanent disability in his knee.

Scott encouraged me to put the Mach 1 to good use. He convinced me to join the SVT Owners Association of Arizona (SVTOA). Scott was the president of the car club at the time. We would get together a few times a year to go on different racetracks. Once or twice a year we would go to the Central Arizona Regional Law Officers Training Academy (CARLOTA) test tracks. It’s a fun little three-quarter of a mile road course used to train police. For safety, only one car is on the track at a time.

In November 2005, we were at CARLOTA on their test track for some fun driving with the SVTOA group. On about my third or fourth lap, Scott joined me to help improve my track-times. He had me put forty pounds of air pressure in both the front and rear tires. “This will keep the tires from rolling over on the sidewall, giving you better traction in the turns,” Scott said. As we sat in the car at the starting line, he described a few key points on the track. “In the second turn you will stay wide, that will help you set up for turn four.”

When the flag dropped, I hit the throttle and got the car through turn one quickly. I stayed wide through turn two perfectly to set up turn four, just as Scott suggested. When we came out of turn five, we hit the short straightaway. At the end of the straightaway, my speed was about sixty-five miles per hour. I hit the brakes right on queue and downshifted back to second. As I started into the turn, the rear end broke loose and began to slide out. “You’re going in too…,” Scott start to say. I got back on the throttle and pushed through the turn. “Good job. Excellent recovery.”

About all I could say was “Thanks,” my voice wavering as I tried to keep my wits about me. We continued through the track and I made my best time, 1:08.5. After the race, I told him, “I knew I could get through that turn by stepping on it. It was like driving on ice.”

“I wasn’t sure you were going to be able to keep it on the track,” Scott told me. “But that was a great reaction. That’s an example of the correct tire pressure. If the tire pressure was too low, they would have rolled over onto the sidewall and you would’ve been into the gravel.”

Through the years, Scott and I have enjoyed many sports. Scott’s knee is on the mend, and we’re looking to start hiking, again. He’s one of those guys you can always count on; that you trust.

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Posted by on January 3, 2010 in Class Writing, Introduction To Writing


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Up In Smoke!

14 October 2009

Up In Smoke: A Word Photo Enlargement

Sooner or later, everyone stops smoking. – Author unknown

On Monday, June 30, 2003, I made the commitment to never smoke again. Quitting was not an easy choice. My fear of failure is so great, that I will often take elaborate steps to avoid making promises that I cannot keep. This was no exception.

Smoking was common in my childhood. My dad smoked; my grandparents smoked; my aunts, uncles and family friends smoked. I even recall my mom attempting it for a very short time. “Maybe your dad will quit when he smells my stinky breath,” she explained to my sister and me, coughing out the smoke. I started smoking in 1980 at fifteen years old. I smoked on my way to and from school, and at lunch. I also smoked at parties and gatherings. I avoided smoking around my parents, but in hindsight, it’s likely they knew. In the Army, my smoking progressed to a necessity. “Smoke ‘em if you got ’em,” the Drill Sergeants would say. If you smoked, you were given breaks; otherwise, you continued to work. The choice was obvious. On average, I smoked about one pack per day from 1985 until 1998. In the early 1990’s, I reached a point where I smoked nearly two packs of cigarettes per day.

When my wife, Noreen, and I bought our home and vehicles, we made a pact not to smoke in them. In 1992, Noreen quit smoking when she found out she was pregnant. She started smoking again after our first son was born, but in 1996, she quit permanently when she became pregnant with our second son. It was after Noreen quit smoking that I first wanted to quit. “You need to quit, too,” she said occasionally. She always remained accepting, but encouraged me to quit. However, my mom was the “nag”.

“Are you still smoking?” my mom inquired on the phone, always hoping for the answer that didn’t come.

“Yes, I’m just not ready to quit, yet,” I replied, almost in an obligatory response.

“I love you, but I wish you would quit smoking.” She always included, “I’ll be praying for you.”

“I love you, too, Mom. I’m sure I’ll need all the help I can get.”

Eventually the day came when I decided I needed to change. Although I had made vain attempts, I had never truly wanted to quit. For some now-forgotten reason, I finally made the conscious commitment to stop. I didn’t quit cold turkey. It took many steps to prepare to quit. I cut down how much I was smoking. I purchased cigarettes with lower tobacco ratings (lights and ultra lights). I limited my smoking to specific times during the day. I delayed my first cigarette of the day until after I arrived at work. I gradually reduced how many cigarettes I smoked each day. All these steps reduced my dependence. They also generated confidence in my ability to control the addiction.

Late in the afternoon on Friday, June 27, 2003, I called my doctor’s office, “I want to quit smoking this weekend, but I want a prescription for Nicotrol inhaler. Is there anyway I can get in today?” The nurse on the phone said, “We’re about to close, but if you can get here in fifteen minutes, we’ll wait.” It was amazing how receptive the doctor’s office was once I mentioned my desire to quit smoking.

I arrived just as they were about to close. The only people still at the office were the receptionist and the nurse practitioner. The nurse practitioner took me back to an examination room and went through the usual cursory checks; weight, blood pressure, etc. “We’re glad you’ve decided to try to quit. How can we help you?” the nurse said.

“I did some research and the Nicotrol inhaler seems pretty successful,” I said. “I went to the pharmacy to buy it over the counter, but I found out I need a prescription,”

“We have prescribed Nicotrol, but I haven’t seen it in an inhaler form. Let me check the PDR. I’ll be right back,” the nurse said.

I had read up on the inhaler when I began considering quitting. One of the key characteristics is its shape; it resembles a cigarette. The habit of holding the cigarette is a major factor of the addiction. The nurse searched through the Physicians Desk Reference (PDR) until she eventually found it. “Okay, I’m writing you a prescription for a four-week supply. If you need more, call us. We may need to schedule an appointment, but we’ll get you in.”

Just before midnight on June 29, I went out on the patio behind my home. This was my usual smoking area. We had a typical white-plastic table and chairs on the patio by the pool. The table was dusty with dark streaks of tobacco ashes. A glass ashtray, caked with grey ashes, sat on the table. A half pack of Camel Wides stood next to the ashtray. It was quiet this late at night; the only thing I could hear was the hum of the pool pump. I had packed these cigarettes pretty well, but out of habit, I still tapped the cigarette a couple times on the table. It was simple enough; just smoke this cigarette and I’d be done. As I lit the cigarette, I considered whether I should throw away the lighter and matches with the cigarettes.

The fear of failing always contributed to my lack of desire to quit. But now I used that fear as leverage to force myself to quit. That little voice in the back of my head kept telling me I’d fail; that I couldn’t do it; that tomorrow I would have to start all over again. But tomorrow I would make a promise that I refused to recant. I finished that last cigarette, and I didn’t allow those voices to control me. I took another deliberate step to ensure my success. I took the remainder of the cigarettes, broke each one into pieces, and discarded them into the trash. I would make the promise and I would keep it.

The next morning I called my mom to wish her a happy birthday. “Mom, I have a special present for you. I know you’ve wanted me to quit smoking. I’ve decided I am going to quit today as a gift to you.”

She was so happy I could hear it in her voice. “I know you can do it. I’m very proud of you,” she said. Her confidence in my success was important. I promised my mom that I would not smoke on her birthday, and I would make it the anniversary of my quitting.

In the end, I recognized smoking had become a weakness and detriment. I took the steps to succeed at quitting. I’ve been tobacco free for six years. I still get the urge to smoke a cigarette, but it gets easier to ignore. The temptation is always present. I simply choose not to smoke.


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