My Dry Erase Board Addiction

Well, it happened again. Just last week, I had resisted the urge, but the temptation was too great this week as another good intention led to yet another dry erase board coming into my possession. A faculty member had agreed to host one of the faculty development round tables during a session I was coordinating for work. She asked if there would be any way possible she could have a dry erase board so it could be interactive. Using my own money, I secured one for her. Her session worked out great with her discussion about flipping the classroom being a hit. Plus, afterwards, the dry erase board I was wanting but had convinced myself I didn’t need the week before was now in my possession. After writing about my self-help addiction last year, it seemed like a good idea to tackle yet another addiction this year – my addiction to dry erase boards*.

Throughout my entire house, dry erase boards can be found everywhere. My refrigerator alone is home to many. Every year, a new one is added to my collection and filled with that year’s list of New Year’s Resolutions. Sure, common sense should tell me only one would be needed, but sort of like my habit with never deleting photos off an SD card, certain writings on my dry erase boards become permanent as they serve as reminders of the past to help me move forward towards my future.

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However, I also use them for their intended purpose too. The one acquired just a few days ago will be updated weekly (in theory) with my featured resolution of the week, weekly goals, reminders about upcoming activities/events, weekly meal plan, weekly quotation to contemplate, and a reminder of the Four Agreements from Don Miguel Ruiz’s book of the same name (thank you once again, Patrick, for that recommendation).

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When attempting to become focused for the day, there is another dry erase board to map out my schedule (although the Personalized Progress Log has largely taken over this board’s role). And another is around to create some lines of music to practice on the violin.

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Then there is a little guy I like to use to outline papers I have to write.

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At my office, there are even more. One sits next to my computer and is updated on a daily basis with the tasks to tackle for that day, and there is a huge one on my wall for brainstorming activities.

And then there are more that scattered here and there. I am guessing you get the picture – I love dry erase boards.

Who exactly created the dry erase boards is a little up in the air. According to one account, it was photographer and Korean War veteran, Martin Heit, who by accident marked a photographic negative and found the ink wiped off easily which led to his creating the first one. He later sold the patent to Dri-Mark. Another account puts Albert Stallion into the creator role with his realizing enameled steel could becoming a writing surface. He eventually created his own whiteboard production company, MagiBoards.

In either case, whiteboards started to appear in the 1960s, and the dry-erase markers came onto the scene in 1975. It wasn’t until the 1990s that their popularity grew as they replaced chalkboards as a way to avoid allergies to chalk dust, complications dust may have on computers, and the general messiness that comes with the former standard in classrooms everywhere.

Dry erase markers themselves have a silicone polymer that keeps the colored pigment from actually coming into direct contact with the surface, hence the reason why the writing can be wiped off a non-porous surface so easily. Plus, there is a solvent that leads to the ink drying quickly.

What led to this great love of mine for dry erase boards is not entirely known. It may be caused by my fear of commitments, or it may be the practical nature these boards and markers can serve with this also being tied to my ongoing pursuit of becoming organized and setting goals/resolutions/resolves for myself. There is also my remembering how special they seemed when they started to appear in classrooms during my middle school years and onward.

There is also the fact I still find them somewhat magical in that childlike way of wonder, for unlike my bedroom wall as I found out when I was three and had an orange crayon in my possession, any marks can just simply disappear.

But perhaps it is something more. So much that happens in our lives can seem so permanent. Past relationships can leave scars that can haunt a person for the rest of his/her life. Class assignments add up to leave unchangeable grades on transcripts. Words spoken and actions taken in unwise haste can create barriers that unfortunately can never be torn down. It is almost refreshing that there is something in this world where mistakes can easily disappear and a clean start can happen so easily.

Whatever it may be, dry erase boards have definitely found a way into my life and heart. The good news is my instant gratification monkey kept telling me I needed to buy another in honor of the blog post alone and that urge was resisted, so that may just be a step in the right direction. Then again, while looking into the history of dry erase boards, I did come across this Lifehacker article about how I could cover an entire wall with a giant whiteboard for under $15. Whether that does eventually happen is up in the air, but if it does, needless to say, there will be a smile on my face as that task is written on one or several of my many dry erase boards scattered all over in my world.

*Addiction is, of course, a serious thing, and I don’t want to make light of truly serious addictions, so no offense is meant by this post.

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