Hazelden. Not Hazeltine. People around here never know what they’re saying because they get these two names mixed up. On Friday, we went to Hazelden. Hazelden is a world-famous addiction treatment center. Hazeltine is a golf course that has hosted a PGA tournament or two. So, yeah, we didn’t go to the golf course for my class…

Hazelden is a bit drive north of the metro. We signed a confidentiality paper while there, but I’m just giving basic info here. I think that was in case we recognized anyone on the grounds. Every once in a while there is a recognizable person there. Several years ago, I think Matthew Perry was there (during Friends fame). But Friday we were there to find out about what they offer and how we could use them as a resources.

I’m really naive when it comes to drugs. I’ve gotten pretty good over the years of sniffing out pot at school. But that’s the extent of my drug experience. There was a psychologist from Hazelden that talked to us about their programs and answered our questions. There are 240 beds on their campus. They have various in-patient programs. They have a 28 day program that is very common. But the program that seemed more worthwhile for us to know about was their Teen Intervene Program. It is three 90 minute sessions. The last session parents are included to discuss the issues as a family. Click on the link to learn more about it.

Just a few random notes.. Apparently the drug use that is on the rise right now is heroin. Another one to watch out for is kids selling Aderol. That’s the ADHD drug that for a “normal” person creates a reaction like speed. About 30% of college students could be problematic drinkers. What does problematic mean? 6-7 drinks in a sitting.

If you’re interested, please click on the links. Since we handed in our homework on Friday I didn’t actually have to write a journal about this one. But it is a very well-known program and they’ve got great resources. Click away if you’re interested.




I like going to the airport. It usually means that I’m traveling. But not today. Today we visited the Metropolitan Airports Commission at MSP. We actually went to the airport driver’s training center. This is where we met the people who are in charge of the facility, other than the terminal. They are in charge of Title 14 Section 139 of the government regulations under the FAA and DOT. What does that encompass? Records, personnel, paved and unpaved areas, markings, signs and lighting, snow and ice removal, handling and storing hazardous waste, traffic and wind direction indicators, airport emergency plan, pedestrians and ground vehicles, obstructions, wildlife hazard management, protection of NAVAIDS, airport condition reporting, marking unserviceable areas and noncomplying conditions.


Since we were at the driver’s training center, we were able to see and test out the driving simulators. The one above has three screens. The one below has a large wrap-around screen and sometimes causes motion sickness. These simulators can replicate snowstorm conditions in the middle of July.


There was also a simulation for wildlife control. As a last resort, they do have to sometimes shoot an animal. The first option is habitat modification. If that doesn’t work they try exclusion (prevent them from getting in). Then it’s harassment, capture and release and lastly, lethal control. The tall fences around the airport really serve to keep the animals out.

All of the runways and taxiways need to be kept clear of all debris. The MSP Airport is well-known for its snow removal system. They don’t use any salt in the areas in which the planes are located. They use a very fine sand that they get from a nearby town. They also have chemicals that are used for anti-icing purposes as well as de-icing purposes. When making their decisions about runways in poor weather, they use a SAAB 9-5 wagon with a 5th wheel to test for friction. One runway can be completely cleared of snow in 30 minutes. There is a way to measure when the friction is such that a runway must be cleared or treated. If they clear a runway too soon, they cause delays which in turn, create costs for the airlines. The timing and speed of this is critical. Also, when a runway is treated for anti-icing or de-icing, it costs $10,000 per runway. At MSP there are four runways. You can do the math.


This happens to be a giant snow-blower. The width is 8 feet. Think how quickly your driveway could be done. When they use the high-speed plows, they also have a sweeper attached behind the plow. When plows are used, there is always a little snow that is left. The sweeper takes care of the bits that are left behind. And what do they do with all that snow?


These are the snow ovens. The snow is melted and because there are chemicals in that snow, they are very careful to dispose of the chemicals properly.

It was quite interesting to be in a van driving around the runways. We got to see some engines that were being fixed. We were able to ask questions about what you see when you are looking out the window as you taxi on your flight. When a plane lands, there is someone that comes to inspect the aircraft.


We also saw them refueling, where the bags go on a conveyor belt, underground roads so the workers don’t have to cross runways, and a whole host of other things.

It was very interesting to see the different types of jobs that are at the airport that don’t involve working for a carrier. If I have a student that has an interest in this type of area, I can tell them that all of the people working there have a four-year degree, most of them in aviation. There are so many possibilities, I at least, feel like I can speak with some credibility about many more careers after my experiences this week.

Avoid at all costs


Level 5. Whenever I hear “level 5” it doesn’t seem to be good. Today we visited a “Level 5” maximum security prison. It is the only one of its kind in my state. I have never been to a correctional facility before. It was very eye-opening and quite interesting.

We were taken on our tour by the education director at the facility. The prison itself is built mostly underground. It kind of reminded me of a “walk-out” house. It looks like one level in the front, but the back opens to about five. So even though it is built into the ground, there is a fair amount of natural light. We were able to see several areas: the canteen, education area, the “yard,” the visiting area, a typical cell and a cell in the area where offenders are isolated in their cell for 23 hours per day. When we went on this tour, we could only carry our driver’s license. I wore no jewelry and no watch. The metal detector that we walked through was more sensitive than at the airport. Our hands were stamped with an ink that was read under a special light. We had to put our hand under the light to go through certain areas.

Every time we went through one door, we had to wait in an area before another door would open. The number of security cameras and guards is incredible. It was interesting to see what an actual maximum security facility is like. Most of us only have ideas about them from movies. Enough said. Currently this facility has 420 inmates. The average age is 36. Seventy-nine percent have their high school diploma or GED. For various jobs, they earn about 50 cents per hour. They are responsible for paying a co-pay if they request to see the doctor. They have to pay for their toiletries, phone cards and personal items. They do pay for the educational courses they take. It doesn’t seem like much to us, but when you make 50 cents per hour, it’s significant.

In the educational area we were actually just outside in the hallway from their classrooms. There was one room where the offenders were working on their GED’s. Another room was a higher ed class. There was one inmate working on a computer just behind a divider from where we were standing. In order to take classes, they needed to not have any behavior incident. I don’t remember how long they needed to have a clean record. I was struck by how young they were. Honestly, it didn’t seem too different from my classroom, minus the girls and the Hmong students. When tour groups come through they have been told that they must stay in their classrooms. They were very curious about us. I didn’t feel uncomfortable, but I’m sure there were some people who did.

The area where they keep offenders in isolation was kind of freaky. They get put into these cells because they have assaulted a guard or another inmate. Sometimes they are there because they are not safe with other inmates. If they are a high-profile offender, they are often in one of these areas. While we were there, they needed to transfer an inmate for a court date. Three officers went to get him and he came by us in an orange jump-suit, hand-cuffs and shackles. I’m not even sure of the wording for how they had him restrained. When he came by, one of the guards jokingly told him to smile at us. I think we were all so surprised at this that we didn’t get the prison humor. The recreation room in that unit was very sparse. It had a bar for doing pull-ups, a phone with a bench built into the wall, and that’s it. A large room with hardly anything to do. In their cells, the lights and water are controlled. They are under constant surveillance. The guys in the control booth flushed the toilet and made us jump. The inmates in the cells next to the one we stopped off at were definitely interested in watching us all walk by. Just being in that cell for a short time was enough to make me want to move on with the tour and get out. That creepy feeling was definitely present.

At the end of the tour we were given some statistics about the facility. I’m glad for this since we couldn’t take any notes. You know how teachers are about taking notes… Eighty-five percent of the governing sentences of the population are for an offense against a person. What is this? Homicide, assault, criminal sexual conduct, kidnapping, robbery and first degree burglary. The next largest category was “other” and it’s 9%. That list includes: Felony DWI, weapon, traffic accidents (excluding felony DWI), obscenity, prostitution, escape and other. Drug offenses made up 4% of the population.

I kept wondering throughout the tour if there were any inmates from my school. When I looked at the board with all of their pictures at the end of the tour, I didn’t recognize any names. I wondered about the former student that was recently sentenced to 30 years. I didn’t see his name. But I was hoping that he was in another facility where there wasn’t any climate control in this hot and sticky weather. Even though this is a maximum security prison, they do benefit from climate control and all of the cells are single.

It costs $170 per day per inmate. How’s this for scary math? $170 x 420 = $71,400 per day. That times 365 equals $26,061,000 per year. When you divide that by the number of inmates, it’s $62,050 per year, per inmate. I know you can’t compare it with the costs of education. But the per pupil funding in my state is not much over $5000 per pupil per year.

How do I use this information in my life? I guess I can tell students what it’s really like in a prison. It was extremely informative and interesting to visit, but it will take a while for me to frame this in my mind for how I will use the information. All I really know, is that you want to avoid this place at all costs.

Health Careers and Health Needs

The afternoon brought us to two different places. The first was North Memorial Medical Center. It is one of four Level 1 Trauma centers in the state. The others are HCMC, Regions and Mayo. The second visit was to the Courage Center.

At North Memorial we visited several areas of the hospital. They have an extensive medical library and showed us the access to several medical databases. We visited the Trauma Program and Injury Prevention Program. We had a quick tour of the Emergency Room area and then a visit to their Joint Replacement Center. It was interesting to see the various programs in the hospital. The one that I found fairly interesting was the Joint Replacement Center. They have started a program that has increased the results and reduced the length of stay for the vast majority of patients. What is the secret? Education and communication! There is a pre-op education class about what to expect, all in an effort to reduce the unknown. There is also education for the patient’s family. Three to four months later, patients are invited to return for a follow-up breakfast. Here is where the hospital gets feedback about what went well, what didn’t, etc. And they also have group physical therapy that occurs in the center. As a result, patients have very positive remarks regarding this program.

The Injury Prevention program also sounded interesting. There are several programs that were mentioned: child passenger safety, water safety, a life jacket program on Lake Minnetonka, button battery safety, pedestrian safety, and NW Safe Kids Coalition. There are also efforts to pass social host laws. They are fairly new and aim to prevent adults from hosting parties for underage kids using various substances.

The Courage Center was a very quick visit. We were able to see their driver program. They determine whether someone can drive. There are vehicles that are outfitted with various gadgets and adaptations for handicapped people to drive. It’s amazing how this can be done. They also will teach people how to drive as well as do the assessments. Ultimately it is the doctor’s responsibility to inform the state about a persons inability to drive. The Courage Center informs the doctor of their assessment.

The shop services was quite unique. They build things to help individuals with specific needs. There was a woman who lost the use of her hand after a stroke. She loved to knit. The shop services came up with a contraption that has allowed her to knit using one hand. Many of the requests that they have are one-of-a-kind types of apparatuses.

The thing that makes Courage Center different is its continuum of care. They have transitional rehabilitation services, therapy services, independent living programs, and work and learning programs. There are a huge number of volunteers. The man who spoke with us at the end was one of their volunteers. He was someone who had once needed the services of the Courage Center. He had a brain tumor that was removed and in the process, his brain wasn’t communicating with his body about how to walk. There is a warm pool at the Courage Center that is kept at 92 degrees. Brad used this pool to learn to walk again. That pool alone gets 70,000 uses per year.

You’ve got to watch this. Our homework for going to the Courage Center was to watch this video. The Courage Center is all about helping people with disabilities live as normal and independent as they wish.

What’s for breakfast? lunch? dinner?


Today we started our day at General Mills. Did you start your day with General Mills? The #1 cereal in the US is Honey Nut Cheerios.

General Mills has 35,000 employees around the world. There are about 7000, here at their headquarters. As a teacher going into this corporate campus it was so completely different from a typical day. The phrase, “it’s so adult” kept going through my head. Maybe I feel more like a kid since I’m around them all the time.

General Mills thinks of themselves as a “House of Brands.” When you look at the photo above, there are several brands, but they are all General Mills products. They don’t all have the big G on them. Some common other ones are Yoplait, Nature Valley, FiberOne, Pillsbury, Green Giant, Progresso, Betty Crocker and many more. When you think about it, General Mills touches you in many parts of your day.

Our time started with an overview of the company, then we had a question and answer session with people who work in their marketing division and we ended with a short tour. A lot of what we learned about had to do with the marketing of products and how General Mills looks at the health needs of consumers. One of the needs that they saw was to reduce the amount of sugar in their cereals. They realized that they couldn’t just go from 16g per serving down to 9g. It’s so much of a change that people wouldn’t buy the product. So over the years, General Mills has gradually been decreasing the amount of sugar in its cereals and retraining our palettes for less sugar. Now all of their cereals have less than 10g per serving.

Another interesting marketing gold mine was the need for gluten-free products. In 2007, they realized that with a little tweaking, their Chex brand of cereals could all be gluten-free. When they made that switch and started marketing it as gluten-free, they saw a significant increase in people buying Chex. They also revamped the old (2 hours in the oven) way of making Chex mix so it was a 15 minutes in the microwave. They had to adapt to today’s consumer that doesn’t have the time to do it the old way.

The ideas that are generated are quite interesting. Putting yogurt in a tube so kids wouldn’t need a spoon to eat it, teaming up with the Susan G. Komen Foundation for lids on yogurt to promote breast cancer research, Nature Valley’s Preserve the Parks Program, and Box Tops for Education are just a few of the programs that are marketing of General Mills products.

As an employee, it sounds like General Mills is a great place to work. They have a rotational structure, so they take your core expertise and apply it in different areas. Many of the employees that we heard from today had worked in several areas: cereal, box tops for education, packaging design, coupons, yoplait, etc. They all had different educational backgrounds. But they were all excited to work for this company and had attitudes that fostered creative thinking and excellence in their work. A phrase that kept coming up is that they “do the right thing, even when no one is looking.”

General Mills makes it easier for its employees at that location to be productive by providing conveniences at their fingertips. They have a daycare for children up to 16 months, there is a doctor’s office, an Aveda hair salon, Caribou Coffee, D’Amico and Sons Catering, a gas station with a full service repair shop next to the parking lot, and a company store. On our way out, we could stop at the store to check it out. The prices were better than a grocery store and there were a few products that can’t yet be found. We were given our choice of three cereals and the bowl. I purchased a couple of bags of chips – sweet potato and cheddar. Someone recommended the Muir Glen Ketchup, and the Progresso recipe starter is a new product.

How can I use this visit in my classroom? I have a much better understanding of how marketing works and the different types of jobs in marketing. When my students ask about careers, I have a better sense of this type of business. As far as the degree that is needed, it doesn’t seem like it has to be all that specific. But the main things that we came away with, in the words of our visit coordinator, 1. Be able to adapt, 2. Be open-minded, 3. Be a maker – someone who makes things happen for yourself. This is great advice for anyone. I thoroughly enjoyed this visit.

Vision Loss Resources

After the morning at Target Field I didn’t know what to expect at Vision Loss Resources. It was actually really interesting and helpful.

There is a whole spectrum of vision loss that affects people at various stages in their lives. In order to understand the common problems we first needed to learn the basics about our eyes. Frank had a model of an eye and was extremely good in explaining the importance of each part. Some of the facts I didn’t know. The cornea gives you 2/3 of your focussing power  and 1/3 is from your lens. Cataracts are when a clouding of the lens occurs. Surgery for cataracts is one of the most successful surgeries that there is. The macula is used to see the details and the rest of the retina is for object detection. Before we could learn about services, we had to understand the main causes of blindness.

Macular degeneration, Tunnel vision, Glaucoma, Retinitis Pigmentosa, Diabetic Retinopothy and Stroke are the six main causes of blindness. They had glasses that we were able to put on that simulated each of these conditions. It was helpful to put on the glasses and see what it was like. Some of these conditions have a genetic component to them. Common eye diseases are described on the website for VLR.

The part that I found most interesting was how they help people who are suffering from vision loss and how they help them to remain independent and teach them to be creative about how they do their day-to-day tasks. On example that Frank gave was how he put his socks on. When he was younger, he just grabbed his socks, lifted up each foot and put them on. Now, he sits on the bed to put the socks on. As we age, our bodies change and we have to adapt to other methods of doing the same old thing that we’ve been doing forever. I think it would be interesting to take a pretty basic task and try to figure out as many ways to accomplish that task as possible. I bet students would be pretty creative with this.

They asked us if we had had visually impaired students and most of us raised our hands. But when they asked how many of us had any training on how to deal with that, I don’t think a single person raised their hand. Now I know that if I have a student with vision loss, I can call them for ideas on how to help that student. There were many suggestions as to how to adapt our classrooms.

Proper lighting is a huge issue. Sometimes just having a light designed for a task is helpful. You can get some of those lights at JoAnn Etc. Ottlite was the recommendation. Having a pen light handy, keeping their back toward the light to prevent glare, shades for windows that cut down the glare of the sun yet still let in light, and having high color contrast were all suggestions.

Organization is extremely helpful and necessary when living with vision loss. We were asked how we would tell the difference between a can of tomato soup and a can of tuna. (size and shape of can) We were asked how we could tell the difference between a can of Tomato Soup and one of Chicken Noodle. (shake and listen) But how about Tomato soup and Cream of Mushroom? Labeling with puff paint seemed to be a favorite method. Putting a rubber binder around certain containers works well. This is also a good method for shampoo and conditioner. There is a more permanent product called Himark that can withstand the dishwasher.

We were asked how we could measure a teaspoon of vanilla if we were blind. The solution: put vanilla in a wide mouth jar, use a metal measuring spoon that has been bent as if it’s a ladle. Lower it to the bottom of the jar and lift up to a perfect teaspoon of vanilla. There were some gadgets that were rather cool. Several of them would talk to you. A One-Touch can opener seemed pretty slick. The Ove-Glove looked better to use than an oven mitt. Having a needle nose pliers handy was suggested.

Stacy is in charge of the Social and Recreational programming. It is client driven. They do various activities such as playing cards and eating out. Going to movies and plays that have audio describe services are quite interesting. Between the dialog there is someone describing what you see on the screen or during a play. Stacy is organizing a camping trip for later this summer. She also coordinates a peer counseling program and a volunteer program. People can volunteer to be a phone pal, a reader (for mail), a shopper, or someone who does physical activities like running, roller blading or tandem biking.

At the end of the presentation there was a blind woman who had agreed to answer our questions. She said that there is a color reader app for iPhone. We mainly asked about her experiences growing up and what she currently likes to do.

I wish I had known about Vision Loss Resources earlier. I’ve had several students with vision issues but one in particular. My T.A. Joe, was albino and had vision issues. I always just asked him what he needed me to do. He would tell me so it seemed to work. But now I wish I would have known what questions to ask to help me understand his vision issues and therefore be better able to make accommodations.


Target Field


Today my day started out with a trip to Target Field. The Twins are out-of-town and on those days, there are plenty of tours that take place at the stadium. I honestly didn’t know what to expect. Was this a tour of the facilities or would there be something that I could actually use in my classroom? It was both!

The Twins have a program called Learning Through Baseball. When they set it up, they were really smart about it. They had teachers design it. We started out in one of the lounges that was set up for a math lesson. Depending on the level of your students they tailor the lesson to what you need. At the more basic level, students are calculating their strike zone. Did you know everyone’s strike zone is different? I didn’t. But then again, I’m not a baseball person. They will also do lessons where they do area, volume, statistics or velocity.  Their Scorekeeping 101 looks quite mathematical too. There is also Science at the park. They look at how a baseball is made and observe the impact of the ball with the bat in slow motion. They also talk about vibration and finding the “sweet spot” on a bat – where the vibrations cancel each other out. There are also programs involving Sports Marketing, Architecture, Art, Environment and Sustainability, Heroes of Baseball, Women in Baseball and the Language of Baseball. In looking at their list, they had it all covered. I was so pleased to see a venue that specifically addressed math! The people who teach these topics are people who have been classroom teachers. Some are retired, one is a college prof. And to top it off, when they developed the programs they made sure to align it with state standards! When you decide to bring a group, the Twins organization will have one of their teachers talk with you directly so their lessons can be catered to your students needs. I was very impressed!


On our tour, we went to the visiting team locker room. According to our tour guide, Derek Jeter thought that this was one of the nicest visitor’s locker rooms in the league. The locker room photos are that exciting, but the above photo is the view that the visitors have from their dugout.

Our tour included going into the Champions Club and the Legends Club. The Champions Club is quite spendy and the seats are the comfy chairs right behind home plate. The Legends Club is on the second level and has seats further up. The Press box is on the same level as the Legends Club.


In the Champions Club, you can find a few important trophies… Here’s one of them…


The stadium itself is only in its third season. My first time in it was only about a month ago. A few interesting statistics from the tour are rather interesting. The drainage system under the field can handle rains of 7 inches per hour. Underneath the field it is also heated. There are many “keg rooms” throughout the stadium so the beer concessions are much easier to do logistically. There are 14.2 miles of beer lines in the stadium and they go through 250 – 350 kegs per night. But when the Milwaukee Brewers come to town it’s 350 – 400 kegs. Even though I’m not a big baseball fan, going to a game at Target Field is something that I’d look forward to doing in the future.