Total Pageviews

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Mabey's Hope-Infused Reality Inspires

Stephanie Mabey's "hope-infused reality" has been making me smile for two years now. From her initial three offerings released under the name Stephanie Smith to her new acoustic preview EP, she has been the Voice most played while I kick around the house, do chores or run errands. Her videos have been a frequent destination on my YouTube wanderings.

Mabey is an LDS indie-folkie who recently married and moved to Arizona, but is actually a transplanted Utahn. She recorded her knock-out debut album Change when she was 17, stunning folks with her introspection, crisp story-telling, and honest lyrics. Tell Me and the brilliant Waves followed.

Tunes like October, Another Ticket (inspired by a job ticketing merchandise at Target) and Fragile Sometimes are at once vulnerable and lovely. You can hear all of them on the listen tab at There are some terrific Stephanie Smith downloads still available at Check out Let Me Know and Little Bit Scared.

Naturally, all of Stephanie's Mabey's material is available on iTunes. If you're looking for her first three albums, make sure you look up the right Stephanie Smith. There is another artist with the same name.

And if you're up for something completely different, watch If I Were a Zombie, Mabey's video poke at the Twilight movie franchise, "because vampires are getting way too much love these days."

Over the past few months, Mabey has been on a campaign to raise enough funds through sales of her EP to flesh out those songs and more for a fourth album. The way she's structured her fund-raising pitch is both novel and interactive. For $50 she'll let you download her EP, send you her new album, and list you in her liner notes; $750 will get you a house concert; and $1,000 will get you your own theme song to use as a voice-mail greeting, ring-tone or "just to hum when you're feeling down."

But enough gushing already. The bottom line is Stephanie Mabey's music rewards those who can truly appreciate honest, sensitive, intelligent music.

In the spare and beautiful Another Ticket, she says, "I sing out. like I've made it." We can only hope she does.

Follow Stephanie on Twitter @stephaniemabey.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Michelle, You've Got Me Thinking

While out scouting for Clay Shirky's Cognitive Surplus last night, I also picked up a children's book on Michelle Obama by Deborah Hopkinson. I've always believed America's first lady is a class act and reading through the strong and simple prose I was reminded of what an intelligent and accomplished woman she is. This book will be a short but inspiring read for elementary and middle school girls and boys alike.

But it also got me thinking about how her husband is getting public education so wrong, and how a Democratic president's endorsement of charter schools, merit pay and mass teacher firings is dangerous. It not only does a disservice to America's public schools, but will soon be used as ammunition by Canadian right-wing groups, chief among them the Fraser Institute and the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.

American ideas tend to drift northward pretty quickly. And Canadians don't always see the context for their genesis. So these ideas will again be concepts public schools and the people who care about them will have to fight.

What I really don't understand is how a president who is so progressive in other areas, can be so regressive when it comes to education.

How are these concepts justified pedagogically? And if it's a matter of wooing the vote of a certain right-leaning subset of the American electorate, he can rest assured they will vote for a dyed-in-the-wool Republican any day.

Many of these so-called reforms tap into a need to blame someone for the perceived failures of America's public schools. The game, of course, is to weaken public confidence in them and to further open the system to market forces. There is a pile of money to made here and Obama's posture on this front cannot be justified.

One Washington Post article nailed the recent spate of teacher blaming with a twist on James Carville's brilliant refrain by suggesting "it's not the teachers, it's the poverty."

This is one Canuck who has tremendous admiration for both Michelle and her husband. I still remember the thrill of tuning into that magic night in Grant Park with good friends. What a breath of fresh air.

But someone please tell me, how do you make sense of Obama on education?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Clay Shirky on "Big Things for Love"

Shirky explains that, in years past, we could accomplish small things for love, but big things took money. Today, online communities allow us to do "big things for love."

You can never sit at the feet of this NYU prof without learning something, and Shirky's point about love is made with his usual eloquence and passion.

Definitely 10 minutes well spent.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Kids and Music - Less Social Than We Were?

Boy listening to music with cell phone
Sure they can download tunes, but do today's teens really appreciate the social aspects of listening to music?

I mean, I can remember my friends and I crowded into my bedroom listening to one album after another - Babe Ruth, T-Rex, Mott the Hoople, early Bowie - and about 400 other superb pieces of vinyl (which now reside in my basement).

It was a chance for us to talk about school and life, who made the cover of the latest Cream or Circus magazine, and album reviews we'd heard or seen. It was nothing if not intensely social.

Now, I spot kids hiding between their earbuds in just about every imaginable circumstance. One evening I pointed this out to my 18-year-old along with the observation that his generation is more solitary than social when it comes to music consumption.

"I don't know," said my big guy. "We still listen to CD's when we're all in the car together." He then pointed out that if someone is listening to something good, they'll share a pair of earbuds. "We bring our iPods, mp3 players, USB drives - even our hard drives - to our friends' houses to share music," he said. "Plus, we still go to concerts together."

So it made me think.

My generation didn't have the chance to consume our music absolutely anywhere we felt like it. But if it had, would we have been more solitary or more social about music than kids today?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

5 Quick Tips for iPhone Users

New iPhone 3G Hits Stores Across U.S

Whether you bought your iPhone last week or a year ago, you know there's always something new to learn. So here goes...

1) Fly Through Calendar Months
Tired of repeatedly mashing your finger on your calendar's right and left arrow buttons to scroll through the year? Hold them down instead and watch the months fly by.

2) Compose Emails Twice as Fast
Dragon Dictation is the voice-to-text app you need. It's fast, free, and it lets you compose emails - or take notes - using only your voice. If you've never played with an app like this before, you'll be amazed at its speed and accuaracy. You can copy your text to your clipboard for insertion into other apps, or send it on its way via email. You owe it to yourself to try this freebie.

3) Track Your Blog Hits
No need to open Google Analytics on your desktop. Just grab Analytics App ($6.99) from the app store and load your username and passwords for your websites and blogs. You'll get instant access to all the numbers that make or break your day.

4) Check Out iPhone Web Apps
Looking for something different? You can spend hours browsing the app store. But did you know there are an extra 4,500 Apple web apps you can add to your iPhone or iTouch. Lots of categories. Some are unique products: Carbon Footprint Calculator, Color Mail and StreetMaven to name a few. You don't download these apps, you save them to your home page. Don't know how? Follow these instructions under "One Tap Web Apps."

5) Power Up Your PD
You can download audio and video versions of superb Classroom 2.0 Live professional development sessions recorded in Elluminate. Just open your iTunes app, hit search, punch in "Classroom 2.0 Live" and download the sessions you want.