It must be magic.

Oh, how education has changed. In my youthful days of teaching, there were so many things that we were able to do. We had projects that we involved the kids in that enhanced our curriculum. Some of them took a long time to accomplish, especially since we had no technology to rapidly give us information or print out our writing and graphics. We had to be neat with our work that was all done by hand. Even as more technology came out, learning how to type and work with it took time. But that was okay because we had it. Nowadays, that is less possible, because of all of the mandated programs and linear timelines that you have to follow; we are trying too hard to become the same. Creativity is not a mandated curriculum.

Control of your class and have the time to learn more about each of the students and them for each other is much more difficult.

One of the things I learned back then, is that more we understood each other, the more we were able to accept and cooperate with each other. There was a program that my teammate and I used called, Magic Circle.
This tool accomplished all of the above. Each day we sat in a circle. As the leader in the beginning of the year, I would announce the topic to share. There were themes that these topics came in, such as Awareness,  Social Interaction, and Mastery. For example, the topic for today is, “A time when I learned something new.” Now anyone that wanted to share could share. There was no forcing of students to say anything. Following all of the sharing, we would review what everyone one said. “Mr. Heilbrun, you said that you learned how to skate when your neighbor invited you to their rink”.  The focus in review was that you had to speak directly to the person you were reviewing. As soon as you started saying, “She said…” you would be stopped and reminded to talk to the person not about them.

As the year progressed, students were able to take part in the leadership role. I would give them the topic and they would run the Circle. Following the review, I would retake control as the students were allowed to tell the leader what they did well as the leader. 

This had nothing to do with our curriculum. It took about 15 minutes to 30 minutes a day. I only know how effective it was, when I stopped doing it, due to time restraints or when there was too much I had to accomplish before the end of the year. The atmosphere in the class became more tense, with less listening to each other, more conflicts, and the volume of noise increased.

My favorite topic was late in the year when the topic was, “Something about you that I like”. Kids bombarded each other with positive feedback. I made sure that everyone was shared about. And with this topic, everyone had to review not what was said to someone, but what was shared about themselves.

One of my most memorable Magic Circle events had to do with a child with Down’s Syndrome that I had in my class. You can read about it in a previous blog entry:

I only wish, in these days of progressive education, where the goal seems to be teaching kids how to survive in a frenetic world, that we took the time to teach kids how to listen well to each other, be creative and explore as they learn about the world and themselves. I think education would be a lot more fun.

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Grow Up!

Grow up!

My name was Uncle Itch. I believe that it came about from the fact that my nieces and nephews at a very young age preferred to call me that rather than Uncle H. The name stuck with me and even though they have grown up and now call me Uncle Harvey, I still refer to myself as Uncle Itch to them. As they grew up from infancy to teenage, I was in my 20’s and early 30’s. As far as they were concerned I hadn’t grown up. Whenever I visited them, I was silly. I used strange voices, which I still use in my storytelling, tripped, accidentally on purpose, on numerous objects to make them laugh. I always made up silly stories and sang songs with my guitar. They enjoyed having me around. I was just another kid in the family.

Then I grew up. I met my wife. I had a son. Now I had a lot more responsibilities than I had before. I wasn’t the lone person with no one to look after that I was when I was single.  For me, I didn’t notice the change. I still felt like the fun, goofy kind of person that I was. It certainly didn’t change the way I acted in my teaching life, personality-wise. However, when I went and visited my sister’s family, they could see a difference. I still interacted with everyone, but I wasn’t as crazy. As I said, I became Uncle Harvey.

This is not to say that I’m sad about growing up or at least being perceived as growing up, but it is different. My nieces now are married and have kids of their own. And like me, they have changed a bit too. However their kids can see in me pieces of the person I was, a little more sedate, but still one full of stories and games. Since their kids refer to me the way their parents do, I haven’t had any success in getting them to call me Grunkle Itch.

Inside of me, I still am Uncle Itch. No one said that being in your 60’s means that you must be grown up. In fact, my rule is be who you want to be. If that means having fun and being a little crazy, then so be it.

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A to Z Blog Challenge Reflection 2017


A to Z Blog Challenge – Reflection (What if…?)

This is my second year doing the A to Z Blog Challenge. I will admit that this year was harder than last year.

Last year’s theme I chose was Life’s Choices/Life’s Changes. Though coming up an idea for each letter was hard, the writing, once the idea was thought up, was easy. Every piece of writing was from my head and experience. I discovered mid-way through the alphabet, after reading blog entries from other writers, that adding pictures and cartoons to my writing, enhanced the pieces.

This year, however, it took a while to come up with the theme, What if…? It certainly allowed me more freedom in finding things to write about, however, it also required more research to be done for each piece. Once I came up with the theme, I hoped to get a jump on some of that research so I wouldn’t be pressured when it came time to writing and deadlines. That didn’t work out. I do much better when I research as I’m writing.

Now I needed ideas for each letter. I brainstormed with my family, friends and a lot with the elementary classes that I substitute teach in. When it was time to start writing, here was my list of ideas: Continue reading

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Z – Zoom, Zoom


What if we could Zoom-in to things with just our eyes?

There are times when I’m trying to take a picture of some wildlife that I don’t get the shot because the animal moves away before I can get set-up, or before I can get close enough to make a good shot. If only my phone had a zoom lens that allowed me to take good pictures and not get close enough to scare my subjects away!zoom fall

My wife has told me many times that I have to learn to look at these animals and potential pictures in real life without the camera and fix the picture in my mind. How many of you have spent time at your child’s performance or event, a beautiful scenic view,  watching only through the lens of a camera?


What if you didn’t have a camera or a zoom lens, but you could do all the same things with just your eye? What if your eye had a built in Zoom?

You’re at a mountain resort. The sky, the cascade of mountains as well as the trees in the foreground are reflected in the lake before you. It’s a beautiful vision.


You notice a bird flying over the trees and are not quite sure what kind it is. Luckily for you, you can use your zoom eye to get a closer look.

It is a hawk:  hawk-300x213  Now isn’t that cool!

You have a splisplinternter or there is a tick on you. You’re not sure where it is or what kind it is. So you use your zoom eye to get a better look.

We recently noticed that some of our water had little particulates in it. The zoom eye would have been perfect to get a close look at the particulates so that we could do some analysis. Think of what this could mean for scientists.

Imagine as a driver, how much ahead of where you are you could see to avoid accidents and find alternate routes to take.

Having a Zoom-in eye has lots of benefits. Hopefully, you would have full control over it and it doesn’t go rogue on you. I wonder if there would be a benefit to having your eyes worked independently of each other, possibly one a long range zoom and the other a wide-angle zoom.

And what if you could actually make permanent records of all of those great scenes and events and project them for others to see?

Using my zoom-in eye I also notice something else. Today is:  April 30. Isometric Calendar Icon With Shadow.Vector Illustration,Flat Style.Month and Date.Sunday,Monday,Tuesday,Wednesday,Thursday,Friday,Saturday.Week,Weekend,Red Letter Day. Holidays 2017. and the final day of the A to Z Blog Challenge for 2017. It’s been fun. You’ll have to wait a little while for my Reflection piece on this year’s challenge, but certainly, keep an eye on my Blog for more writing throughout the year. As for next year’s Challenge, you’ll just have to wait, unless you can see that far ahead.

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Y – To be young again!

What if we could stay young?

If you go to St. Augustine, Florida you can visit Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth ( The story behind Ponce de Leon’s search for the fountain of youth has never been proven. But that doesn’t stop Florida from sharing that water for you to taste.

Now imagine, if you will, that you could remain young. At what age would you choose to remain? What’s interesting about this question is that you can look at it from multiple perspectives. You can look at it from a physical perspective, pick an age and from that point on you will stay in the same physical state, in both appearance and stamina. You can look at it from a memory perspective. Pick an age and you will have all the memories and events up to that time and continue from there. How about an experience and capability perspective? Pick an age and you will be old enough to do certain things (vote, marry, have kids).  And what if you are old now? Would taking that sip retain what you already have (relatives, friends, knowledge, memories) and just revert you to a younger you? All these things need to be determined before you take that sip.

Getting older isn’t the same as growing up.

I asked a few of my colleagues during lunch if they could stay young, what age would they like to be. Pretty much all of them chose the memory and experience route. The average age they chose was in their mid-30s. Usually, because they had already married and had all of the kids that they have now. They had resolved a lot of personal issues with the people that they lived with and felt that that was a good time in their lives.

I also asked a 5th grade class the same question. Their answers varied a lot, from being the age they are now, because they had few responsibilities, to somewhere between 18-20, because they would have learned a lot and would be allowed to do more things, to late 20s where they could have a family, and finally one girl said, “I don’t want to stay young. I want to keep growing and learning.”

I didn’t mention to either group that picking an age that would want to be, would stop you from continuing to learn more, or change the memory/experiences you already had, or that you couldn’t change your lifestyle, get married, have more kids, etc. But it seemed everyone interpreted it that you would go back in time to that age without anything that came after it.

In my concept of staying young, you would still chronologically age. The activities that you participated would be commensurate with the young age you chose to be, but you still could get hurt, get diseases, and die. It just wouldn’t be age related.

For myself, I’m not sure what age I would like to be at. Certainly, I would like to be young enough to continue playing sports, which I can’t do now. Mid-30s would work for that. But I would also want to make sure that I met and married my wife and also had my son to raise. That would raise it to mid-30s to low-40s. Now if I could ensure that I met my wife and had my son in my late-20s, that would be a lot more palatable. However, if you add the jobs that I’ve had and what I liked doing, you’re talking mid-30s-50s. Too many choices. Whatever I choose, my personality wouldn’t change.


So what about you, the reader? If you were given the opportunity to drink from the Fountain of youth and revert to any particular age of your youth, would you take a drink?  

And, What if the people around you, chose not to?

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X – Need an X-ray? Hold that thought.

What if X-rays could also show our emotions and thoughts?

We break a bone, bump our head, or have back trouble, and the doctor orders an x-ray. In some cases when answers can’t be found an MRI is also ordered. You have concerns about the possible side-effects, so you hesitate getting one.

Now suppose that the negative side-effects, healthwise, have been eliminated. This is due to a revolutionary new kind of x-ray that was developed. However, there is just one side-effect that has been introduced with this new technology. Not only will the X-ray/MRI take a picture of your bones for interpretation with no harm to your body, it will also show your thoughts and emotions both at the time of the x-ray and during the past 48 hours.

On the positive side, you will know whether or not you have broken something, which may be causing you pain or whether there is some sort of emotional (psychosomatic) piece that is causing your discomfort.

Then again, your doctor might discover some of your thoughts about their practice and other thoughts about people or events that you would prefer kept to yourself.

Would it make a difference if the emotion/thought scan was only an instantaneous picture of that particular second, or as I’ve described it, with a longer term picture of what’s going on in your body?

What if the emotion/thoughts picture could only pick up the information from the part that is being x-rayed? That arm really wants to hit or hug someone. Dentists might appreciate knowing ahead of time that being bitten is in their future. And what about other areas of your body that you might not want others to know what’s being thought?

Personally,  it would be interesting to find out some of that information. I have this chronic shoulder pain that clearly most know what’s going on. X-rays showed nothing, neither did a cortisone injection nor limited physical therapy. I would like to know the shoulder’s thoughts. I already know my emotional reaction to the pain and maybe it would even help a doctor prescribe treatment that works. The same goes for the constant hissing in my ear (tinnitus) and periodic pain that I have experienced around my ear; a brain MRI, which I had for the pain, showed nothing (Even without the thought scan, I know what’s going through your mind right now…ha-ha). So why can’t my head/ear tell the ENT doctor what the problem is?

Research shows that doing good things promote better health and physical well-being. Rather than guess work based on subjective studies, this device could give empirical data. I found this picture on the Internet. Clearly, some child is in the process of developing this technology.

Now What if these devices were inexpensive and you could wear them every day? Are they the next generation Fitbits or Apple Watches? Count me in.

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W – What’s Wrong? Let me check my list.

What if all our wrongs were being recorded?

There is a folktale that talks about the carrying of our troubles and our blessings on our shoulders ( The gist of the story is that we carry these things with us throughout our lives. They hopefully balance each other out. In that same vein, what if all the wrongs that we have ever done were being recorded and we had to carry those with us?

I’ll define “Wrong” as things that you have done wrong to yourself or others, not incorrect answers that you’ve put on tests. In some cases, you may regret those things that you did wrong. Depending on the type of person you are, in some cases, you might not. I don’t wish to judge where your wrongs come from and I’m not one to use religion as the Godly keeper of this information. You are the one responsible for holding your own wrongs.

We all have things or done things that we feel were justly or unjustly a wrong. Some may be as simple as not helping someone who seeks assistance or being impolite to someone because we’re having a bad day.



In a moral sense, there are some things that are just plain wrong, whether it be global wrongs such as genocide or racism, or local ones like scamming someone out of money or deliberately lying to or about someone in order to gain a position or material goods.

On the other side of our carry-on baggage, we need to record all of the Rights we do: when we do help others, say good, positive things, improve ourselves through hard work (not at the expense of others).

Whichever way these rights and wrongs get recorded, we need to keep them with us as a reminder of the things we’ve done and who we are. It is hoped that the Rights outnumber the Wrongs and that the Rights are greater in their emphasis on our lives. Not all wrongs are equal. Each right and wrong should be weighted as to its severity. The more Rights we’ve done should counterbalance and even overbalance the Wrongs. The Wrongs that we carry, should, though a burden, help us learn how to be better people and help in the creation of some of our Rights. That’s why we record them.

With all that said, there are some wrongs that cannot be counterbalanced and should be recognized by all. Some of those, they are not even recognized by the individuals committing them (mass murders, intentional destruction of our homes and planet, willful destruction of people’s lives for personal benefit, etc.). My hope in those instances is that those Wrongs do become realized for what they are by us and by the ones carrying them before it’s too late and that the people carrying them hold themselves accountable for the consequences of their actions.  

What if we could see all of the other peoples’ Right/Wrong carry-ons? Would that affect how we interact with them?

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V – Time for an update – Welcome to Version 3.0.

What if we are only Version 2.0?

I’m a computer user. My personal preference is Apple. I started with an Apple //e running Apple DOS 3.3 (Operating System) which finally upgraded to ProDOS before I moved on to Macintosh computers. There I started with System 6 which progressively moved on to its present version System 10. Each of the different Version of 10 had a different name (cats: Tiger, Panther, Snow Leopard, etc. and now mountain ranges (Mavericks, Yosemite, El Capitan, and on and on). As minor bugs were fixed, you would note that the version number, though the same (10.1, 10.2,…10.12), would add a second decimal increment (I’m presently using MacOS 10.12.4) When a major upgrade was made it was given a new designation number and was named as a totally new OS.

With PCs, it was similar, except for some reason they choose to skip the number 9 completely and though they incrementally fixed bugs in upgrades, they didn’t always visibly show you those numbers (Windows 10 is still Windows 10, though Windows 8.1 was an upgrade from 8.0) of theInternet started with Web 1.0 Tools, then 2.0, then 3.0 and so on. Here is an interesting Ted Talk from 2009 that addresses changes in the Web tool’s versions’ timeline:

Keeping all this in mind, What if humans were categorized and organized in the same fashion.



Consider the prehistoric time of existence as Version 1.0 of the human race. The next major change would be the one that we are in now, Version 2.0, moving from an agrarian society to an industrial society to a technology-based one. We’ve advanced with all our minor fixes and issues to where we are now – Version 2.20.17.

We’ve been version 2.0 for a long time and may be getting close to that major upgrade to Version 3.0. What do you suppose that society will look like? There are 2 scenarios, that I see. There is either a major apocalypse, in which case those that survive, if any, will probably have to fall back to Version 1.0 or we will push forward with another new phase that goes beyond the technology in the direction where we seem to be heading. I’m going to speculate on the second of these.

Some of the things that we are doing today in Version 2.20.17 are actually Beta versions of 3.0. Our overdependence on technology will continue to increase.Technological products will get smaller and smaller. I wouldn’t be surprised if DNA technology will be heavily incorporated in version 3.0.

With the increase in technology, you will see a change in the physical appearance of humans. They will either be more fit since there will be more time to exercise and play, or they will increase in obesity and be less fit, due to spending more time in virtual environments and games, etc., and not getting exercise. If you read my blog on Games impacting real life (see you’ll see that research has already shown changes in the brain of many of those gamers some of which actually improve some of their skills. This new brain development is another direction 3.0 can take us, provided we show some restraint.

Politically, I would hope that version 3.0 would bring some stabilization to the world, with people realizing that we all must work together. This realization may come about due to a major disaster prompted by the failed attempt to stick with Version 2.0. Any of you still using Windows Vista? Wasn’t Windows 7 a needed improvement (after a fashion)?

Version 3.0 will require everything to be done faster. Education will not be based on remembering knowledge, but on different ways to retrieve it. How many cashiers today, can give you the correct change without using their registers to tell them what to give you? My guess is more education will be done out of school, either virtually or through online learning.

As with any new Version, there will be many bugs and flaws that will need to be addressed in future versions. What happens when the power goes out? (see How long will people live as impacted by food supply and places to live? How will people make a living? How will social skills be addressed, with less face to face contact? How will we adapt to planetary changes to the Earth? What about Outer Space?

All these will be worked on by the designers and Beta Testers of version 3.0. So what’s your vision of “Life as we know it,” version 3.0?

What if you could be a beta tester for it? Would you volunteer?


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U – Just press “Undo”

What if life had an “undo” button? 

I wrote in my last blog about time travel ( I mentioned that I wouldn’t be interested in going back into my own timeline, except to verify some things that I did or complete things that I didn’t have a chance to finish. The time travel scenario, involved me going back into the past as an observer, not in place of myself.

There was a movie that came out in 2013 called, “aboutTime.” In that movie, the main character has a genetic disposition that once he reaches the age of 21 he can travel back in time in his own timeline. Unlike my time travel scenario, he replaces himself and can change actions that have occurred. Once the change is made he can return to himself in the present timeline, where changes have taken place based on what he did in the past.

Think of your computer. Most programs that you use have an “Undo” command   which allows you to go back one step and erase any mistake that you’ve made. You then get a fresh start and can create the correct version of what you were producing or leave the error deleted without replacing it. So what if we had similar capabilities?  Call it our “Life Undo (LU)” command. With my LU command, there is no going back to the present. You erase the error but must continue on from that point forward.

How many times have you said something to someone and regretted saying it as soon as the words were out of your mouth?

The first time I was invited for supper at my newly married sister’s house, I managed to break some of their crystal glasses, which they have never let me forget. The LU would have been perfect then.

I missed a college friend’s wedding when the car’s transmission broke down on the way there. I did manage to make it to the reception, but the LU would have come in handy.

Think of getting the chance to tell a person you care for, “Goodbye” before they die. Having a Life Undo button would be very helpful, at least for me. I wasn’t there for either of my parents’ deaths.

I’m sure there are those that would use the “undo” option to do negative things. Imagine being able to tell someone off that you work with or don’t like and then pressing the LU. It does have some appeal, but it is not how I would want to use it.

Mistakes are part of the learning process. Some mistakes that I’ve made I wouldn’t want to undo. It’s those mistakes as well as my good qualities that let people see who I really am. So choosing the time to use LU is not a trivial decision.

When would you like to use an LU?

And What if you could use an LU on someone else’s errors?

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T – Who’s got the Time?

What if we could travel through time?

The concept of time travel has always fascinated me. Some of my favorite TV shows have all involved time travel, such as

Doctor Who DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, 

The Time Tunnel,     Journey Man,

and this year’s Timeless  to mention a few.    

And then there are the books I’ve read from Audrey Niffenegger’s,

The Time Traveler’s Wife,  to lots of books by one of my favorite authors,

Connie Willis        


As I suggested, I am fascinated by time travel. What if it was possible? Where would you want to go? First, you would have to decide, past or future. Then global historical/future or personal historical/future.

There are so many choices it is hard to know where to start. 

From a personal point of view, I’m much more interested in going back into my parents

‘Harold, I told you to take out the trash!’

and ancestors past than my own, though I wouldn’t mind periodically going back to my own past so that I could get the real story on some of the things that I thought I did when I was younger and also be able to jump back to a short time span ago in order to catch up on some things I didn’t have time to do.


The difficulty I would have with longer jump backs in my heritage is that other than my parents, all my ancestors only spoke german, making language a difficulty. But I’ll assume that if time travel were a reality, understanding other languages might not be an issue. I really don’t have much interest in seeing my future. I’d rather live those days as they come, though I would be interested in my descendants’ future. It would be fun to know what part of me gets passed on.

From a historical point of view, I like the concept of Connie Willis’s books of “Time Historians” I would like to go back in time and see historical events as they happened. In my youth, I used to put myself into different fictional stories and it was my influence that influenced the main characters to do what was written in the book. (see

I’m not sure if I went back in time to a historical event that I would want to influence events. There are too many issues with parallel timelines and what would happen if a certain event didn’t occur or occurred differently.  And I certainly would not want to be lost in time where I end my life in the past rather than in my own future timeline.

But it would so cool to be able to study history by being at the moments when these historical things took place. We’d have to come up with a new term for the records you kept from those events. Instead of being primary sources from people that were at the events, you could call them “timeary” sources from a Time Historian witnessing, writing or recording of the events.

Until then I’ll just have to remain attached to my present time machine that really works. Unfortunately, it doesn’t go very fast and only goes into the future (one second at a time).

‘It’s a time machine, but it only goes forward in time. There, you see? I’ve just arrived here from two seconds ago.’

Now What if we could stop time? There’s something to think about. You’ll have to hold that thought; I’ll get back to you.

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