Stop Stealing Dreams

Powerful! From Seth Godin.

What is school for?

The economy has changed, probably forever.

School hasn't.

School was invented to create a constant stream of compliant factory workers to the growing businesses of the 1900s. It continues to do an excellent job at achieving this goal, but it's
not a goal we need to achieve any longer.

In this 30,000 word manifesto, I imagine a different set of goals and start (I hope) a discussion about how we can reach them. One thing is certain: if we keep doing what we've been doing, we're going to keep getting what we've been getting.

Our kids are too important to sacrifice to the status quo.

You can get your copy for free

Here are four versions of the manifesto. Pick the one that you need, and feel free to share. To download a file, you'll probably need the option key or the right click button on your mouse... ask a teenager if you get stuck.

The On Screen version
Use this one to read it on a computer or similar device. Feel free to email to the teachers, parents and administrators in your life.

The Printable edition
This is the same document, but formatted for your laser printer or the local copy shop. You are welcome to make copies, but please don't charge for it or edit it.

Here's the Kindle edition
You'll need to download it and then plug in your Kindle via a USB cable. Drag the file to the Documents folder on your Kindle and boom, you're done.

The ePub edition
This should work with other types of ebook readers, but I haven't tested it. Your mileage may vary, and if it doesn't work, the PDF should.

The manifesto in HTML on the web
Useful for cutting and pasting, I guess. The PDFs are easier to read.

How I built the manifesto, plus back up links
If any of the links above don't work, you'll find back up PDF downloads here, as well as a long-ish essay about how I built them.

Get more at

From Mall to Mega-Church

With the downturn of the economy and the exit of big-box retailers such as Sears and K-mart, an increasing trend is to turn these former shopping spaces into houses of worship. Making headlines locally (South Florida), is Christ Fellowship, which is creating a fifth campus in a vacated Dillard’s store . A current campus in Royal Palm is a former Target store. Perhaps, you have one of these moving into your jurisdiction, or maybe you're a pastor contemplating the future take over of your local Best Buy. In either case, here are a few things to consider.
No doubt, it takes much work to turn a mercantile occupancy (used for the display and sale of merchandise) into a place of assembly (used for a gathering of 50 or more persons for deliberation, worship, entertainment, etc.). The National Fire Protection Association, Life Safety Code (NFPA 101) states that when a building changes occupancy type (from mercantile to assembly) the space must meet the existing fire/life safety codes for the newly created occupancy (existing assembly), however, the fire alarm, automatic sprinkler, and communications systems must meet the requirements for new construction. (101:

One of the first things to consider before delving into the fire code is total occupant load. Typically, a house of worship will have fixed seating making the actual occupant load the total number of seats (to be shown on submitted plans). However, without fixed seating the calculation will be based on a less concentrated use, which allows for 15 sq.ft. per person. (101: These former shopping centers can easily exceed 100,000 sq.ft. (the aforementioned Dillard’s is 127,000 sq.ft.). Based on this calculation (without fixed seating), the allowed occupant load would be more than 6,500 occupants. This easily exceeds the system requirements that come into effect for occupant loads of over 300, and also requires a minimum separation between the assembly and mall area of 2 hours. (101:

The system requirements for new assembly occupancies include:
  • Full fire alarm system with voice communication/evacuation. (101: 
  • Automatic fire sprinkler system. (101: 
Mercantile occupancies of this size should already be equipped with fire alarm and sprinkler protection.

Every church has a stage (in church terms, a “platform”). The stage shall meet the requirements of NFPA 101:13.5, which include: 
  • Inclusion of a proscenium curtain (a curtain separating the stage from the auditorium). 
  • Stages over 1,000 sq.ft. shall be equipped with standpipes for fire fighting. 
  • Fire sprinklers are required, including under the stage area (see exceptions in 101: 
In addition to spiritual feeding churches are providing physical feeding, by way of in-house restaurants and cafes’. (101:13.7.2) 
  • Cooking equipment is required to be protected by a hood and suppression system. 
  • Candles and flaming dishes are to be properly protected and approved by the local fire authority. 
  • LP gas appliances are to be listed and installed per applicable codes (NFPA 58). 
Open flames and pyrotechnics are prohibited from use in all assembly occupancies except for ceremonial or religious purposes. The local fire authority should be consulted prior to use, and every precaution taken to prevent the ignition of flammable materials. For more information on regulations for the use of pyrotechnics see, NFPA 1126 and NFPA 160. (101:13.7.3)

Trained crowd managers are required at a ratio of 1 per 250 occupants. Assembly occupancies used exclusively for worship with an occupant load of less than 2,000 is exempt from the crowd manager requirement. (101:13.7.6)

Seats in areas accommodating more than 200 persons are to be securely fastened to the floor. In restaurant, and other entertainment areas where permanently fastened seats are not practical unsecured seating is permitted. (101:13.7.9)

Any assembly occupancy with an occupant load greater than 6,000 requires a life safety evaluation. This evaluation shall be performed by a person acceptable to the local fire authority, and is to include an assessment of building systems, features, and management. The evaluation shall contain an in-depth analysis of possible hazards, and emergency response plans. (101:13.4.1)

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Fire Safety Guide to Mardis Gras

Joining the Mardi Gras festivities today? Entering a float into the parade?  Here are a few fire prevention and life safety guidelines that must be followed to ensure that your float is fire safe, and that the lives of the particpants will not be endangered.

The regulations by the Lake Charles Fire Prevention Bureau for float safety that will be enforced include:

  • Maintenance - float and tow vehicle are in good working order.
  • Decorations - all decorative materials used are flame retardant.
  • Vision/Communication - driver has proper 180 degree vision (or spotters) or communication with float riders.
  • Fire Suppression - large floats have at least two five pound ABC fire extinguishers. Small floats have at least one fire extinguisher. 
  • Riders - float riders have sturdy support handrails or other means to prevent falls. Riders shall have secondary means of escape in the event of emergency.
  • Generator - portable generator is securely mounted and separated from combustible materials.
  • Wiring - all electrical wiring must be of the appropriate type to be used and must properly secured.
  • Exits - doors to floats shall remain unlocked at all times while occupied.

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Firefighter jobs in and near Lake Charles, LA:

High Cost of Non-Compliance, "Next Top Model"

Last year, Los Angeles firefighter, Glen Allen was killed when a ceiling fell on top of him, as he was fighting a fire.  The fire was in the 12,000 square foot home of architect Gerhard Becker.  Becker, who designed and oversaw construction of the home, has been charged with involuntary man slaughter due to the faulty installation of an indoor "fire pit" (authorities determined to be the cause of the fire). 

Read about the origin and cause of this fire here: Substandard Construction Blamed for LA Fire Death

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Mangum, PI is Firewise

Tom Selleck does a PSA on defensible space to prevent wildfires.

And one from Benford tools...

6 Ways to Get People to Your Presentation

Our fire department has begun implementing the Remembering When program.  This program, produced by the National Fire Protection Association, is a fall and fire prevention program for older adults.  The program consists of 8 fall prevention behaviors, and 8 fire prevention behaviors. 

During the creation of this program, focus groups determined the following top 6 ways to get people (especially older adults) to attend and listen to your presentation.
  1. Good quality presentation.  Content is always king.  A presentation that adds value to the listener and is well presented,  lets people leave with a sense of having gained something, not just wasted time.  A good presentation will also attract future audiences, due to word of mouth (especially applicable to the older adult demographic).
    • The presentation should be brief, 20-30 minutes.  The Remembering When program has several time ranges, however, the main messages and presentation does not exceed 25 minutes.
    • Focus on key messages.  Focus the presentation on the most important messages. It would be impossible to make an exhaustive presentation (on any topic) in only 20-30 minutes.  The object of the presentation is for the information to be retained, we do not want our listeners to suffer from information overload.
    • The presenter should be a trusted expert.  The donning of our firefighters uniform, automatically  makes us the trusted expert.  Do not do anything that would violate this trust.  A well rehearsed presentation can make anyone seem like an expert on any subject.  Practice!
  2. Transportation provided or easily accessible.  Our library system has branches strategically located throughout the county.  Partnering with them provides a convenient location.  We also partner with our local Council on Aging, they have a transportation service that picks up and brings people to there facility.
  3. Food provided, include this information in the advertising.  Everyone loves going to a meeting, knowing that food will be provided. Also, provides a free meal for those who are financially disadvantaged.
  4. Door prizes.  Everyone loves free stuff! This also creates a buzz among the participants, and a certain level of competition.
  5. Time of day.  Focus groups determined that the best time of day to offer a presentation (for older adults) is at 10 am or after noon, around 2 pm.
  6. Provide follow-up session.  Collect names and contact information, at the very least provide a phone call or e-mail as a follow up.  Remembering When, also has a home visit/risk-assessment component that provides a great method for follow up.

Core Assumptions On Meetings

The below is from the book by Stanley Bing entitled, Executricks.

  1. No long meeting should take place if it can be replaced by a short meeting.
  2. No short meeting should take place if it can be replaced by a phone conversation, e-mail, or memo.
  3. Essential meetings should involve only those who are necessary to make decisions.
  4. One need not attend meetings in which one's purpose at the meeting is either purely formal or wholly unclear.
  5. It is the responsibility of every person at a meeting to get to closure as soon as possible.
  6. The best possible meetin is the one that is actually a conversation between two people not afraid to make a decision.