Thursday, July 28, 2011

Summer preparations

It's summer, so I am preparing for the next school year.  Considering that this is one of my 2 unpaid months of the year, that is unpaid labor, but no one cares about that.  It's my choice to spend extra UNPAID time now so that I can concentrate on teaching and other tasks "as assigned" starting on August 15.  So what have I done so far?

When we were camping, I planned out the first quarter of my Honors Computer Science class.  When I spent 4 hours in a government office (NCDMV) yesterday, I planned out the entire year of Intro Computer Science.  Before we went camping I also worked on my Algebra 3/Trig class, but it will be an ongoing planning situation because of day-to-day challenges of the different students.  At least this year I have "only" 4 subjects to teach.

I am currently fixing up the homework pages for our new teachers.  That'll teach me to volunteer, except that I really like helping my fellow faculty members with their computer work.

I have found one thing different this summer, though.  For the past 2 summers, I was concentrating on doing things for my mother and seeing her at least twice a week, so I did not do as much sewing and working on the house as I had before.  Now that she is gone, I am having trouble getting back to the sewing.  The work that the house needs is another ongoing situation in my life, so that hasn't changed all that much. 

The tiles for the "tin" ceiling are supposed to be ready by tomorrow, and I am not looking forward to doing that work in this heat.  Maybe I'll just move our new air conditioner to the kitchen for the duration of putting up the new ceiling.  I just keep on reminding myself that I will be so happy when it's done.  I'm making that my mantra for the time being.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The King Effect

In 1975, while I was a college student, a friend named King brought a color TV to our house to try it out on our outdoor antenna.  (Yes, there was a time when most people had black-and-white TVs because color TVs were too expensive.  It was rather like the HD and 3-D TV situation now.)  After spending an afternoon watching color TV in our living room, my husband and I went out and bought our first color TV the next weekend.

It is 36 years since then.  When we were camping in West Virginia over the past 2 weeks, we visited our friend King, his wife, and daughter at their home.  They had an air conditioning unit that we liked.  Well, the "King effect" happened again.  Upon returning home to 95+ degrees Fahrenheit with very high humidity, we went out and bought an AC unit similar to the one that King and his family had.  My made-up excuse: my husband being 68 deserved air conditioning at home before he got older.

Friday, July 15, 2011

What makes it being cheap?

One of my brothers said that my husband and I are cheap because we camp so much when we travel.  That's an interesting opinion from someone who prefers to ride a motorcycle instead of a car.  Who is the cheap person here and what makes that person's actions "cheap"? 

Sometimes when my preference of camping causes problems for my brother's plans (in this case carrying something big to store in our house ... along with all my mother's other stuff), he will try to spin his words to make us look bad.  Most of the people I know, myself included, will do this at one time or another.

When it comes to my brother's love of motorcycling and our lack of interest in same, he doesn't think he's being cheap but efficient.  This is the other side of the concept presented above: spinning one's words to make ourselves look good.  Again, most people I know, myself included, do it at one time or another.

So do we actually camp out to save money?  Sometimes yes, but the fact is that we really like camping.  We find hotel/motel rooms and hallways, etc. to be very claustrophobic in nature.  When we camp, we have privacy (no maids, etc.), we have lots of space to set our stuff out, and we can enjoy our day at our speed.  We don't have to follow a hotel schedule about housekeeping and breakfast, etc. hours.  There's no television to distract us.  The neighbors can be friendly or we just ignore them.  The only bad part is the fact that we find ourselves in various stores, cafes, etc. in order to use the internet.  I am too cheap to buy a broadband card.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Real Life Happens

Real life is not scripted.  It follows no pattern set in stone.  It just happens.

I had planned to spend this morning doing some sewing.  I was in my sewing room bagging up my wastebasket trash when I heard a crash from downstairs.  I assumed it was the spring rod for the shower curtain, so I wasn't too worried when I went downstairs to check.  Only it wasn't the rod.  The downstairs bathroom had no problems.  I knew the crash had been below me, so I went on to the next room.  There was a new big hole in the ceiling above the television and plaster all over the floor, rug, furniture, television, and assorted devices.

We started cleaning up everything, then drove to the local home center and bought a wet-dry shop vac because our vacuum couldn't handle that mess.  Spent the rest of the morning and the afternoon cleaning up that mess.  I guess that next summer we'll be putting in a new ceiling again.  What really irks me is that we haven't finished putting in the new kitchen ceiling.

Tomorrow I go back to sewing.  Unless real life happens again.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Thoughts on trying to reach the emotional areas of the brain.

I just received this year's AP CS A exam results.  I knew before Easter break just what those results would be, and I was right.  No matter how many times I told my students that they were going to take one of the hardest AP exams and that they could not wing it by cramming at the last minute, most of them did not listen.  Most of them did not pass.  What does it take to reach the part of a student's brain that realizes that I am telling the truth?

Last year my entire class passed that exam.  Since they were all mentally geared towards the subject, I could have done nothing, and they probably still would have passed.  My experience has been that the individual student's desire to pass the exam and interest in the software creation concepts side is a far better predictor of success than anything else.  The interest in software concepts I have a good sense of, but how do I help them desire passionately passing the exam?  I don't believe in using my emotions to manipulate students although I will use manipulative techniques to get them to do the work in class.  It's getting them to work in the lab that is a big problem.  I shall have to think seriously on this one before the fall.  I have the passion that I need to pass on to them.