Monday, January 29, 2007

My, what a queer power struggle

I know I said I was going to split off the edu talk from my usual blatherings and gadget-droolings but I haven't had time to set up the second blog yet and I have to type this out and oh my gawd I need to take a breath.

I recently agreed to take on the role of advisor for a campus club. Sure, I thought, not a lot of time is required and I might get a cool t-shirt out of the deal (in my head that made sense). Honestly, I was looking forward to working with students in an alternate capacity besides "that math teacher with the awesome sense of fashion." OK, maybe just the first part of that statement can be attributed to the students.

Anyway, the club met for the first time today and is immediately—in my eyes—threatened by an outside force. This individual is not a student at the school but said she is willing to "just sign up for a credit in photoshop or something" so she could officially join the club. I pointed out that the campus by-laws clearly state that at least 8 full-time students—defined as a minimum of 10 credit hours—must be on the club roster to be recognized as an official club and thus be entitled to all the rights and privileges and ASC funding therein. The Little Leader stated that as long as ASC approved the group's mission statement and group-specific by-laws, the club could be opened to non-students. All the voices in my head screamed at once, "Not a good idea!!" Who is this woman?

When the Little Leader of this merry group said she thought going through the paperwork was worth it so that the student government (ASC) would shower us with coinage, The Interloper immediately launched into an anecdote about how "all you gotta do is have a barbecue and sell hot dogs and sodas and people line up, see? What you do is you go to Costco and you get a cooler and I'll tell you when I did this before when I was in school in California we ran out of hot dogs and there I was with a megaphone yelling "Get your pre-circumcised hotdogs here" and people just loved it and we made a kill-"

"If you read the campus by-laws," I calmly but oh so firmly interjected, "they clearly state that selling food is restricted to pre-packaged food items."

"You mean you can't have a hot dog?"

Everyone else around the table answered for me. These little pups had done their homework and had an inkling of what they had gotten into. Who is this person?

Little Leader quietly chimed in with, "What do we need the money for? What do we want this group to be?" I could have high-fived her! Since this was the very first meeting, the students decided to go around and mention what they thought the group could become, what they envision they would be walking into when they scheduled the meeting on their calendars. This was great right up until The Interloper began yet another monologue about how she did it years ago and all the answers she has and how her heart goes out to other students who—

Her babbling was cut off when three students left to go to work or pick up their kids. Thankgawd for interruptions.

Turns out that the very student who is behind trying to get this club off the ground befriended this woman through an off-campus organization. While there may be some experience there worth soliciting in little bits and bites, this woman seems to want to launch this club to the moon and be the captain of the ship.

I am quite aware that yet another by-law says the club needs to work to improve or educate the campus or community in some way related to the club's mission in order to retain their standing (and funding). For instance, the dance squad which traipses out their belly-dancing gyrations anytime the ref blows his whistle and the basketball players leave the court, recently held a kids' dance clinic for a mere three-hours. That activity will probably pay for their lack–of–uniforms next year. (No, I am not their choreographer). However, working within the community does not mean that the community can or should join the club. And have I mentioned that this woman is older than me by about a decade? And I'm no spring chicken.

So I find myself in the dicey position of asking this woman to back off and allow the students to have their own experiences through this club rather than relive hers and do it in such a way as to not alienate the student leader who invited her in the first place.

All I wanted was a t-shirt.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Two signs of the apocolypse

First up: Just when you thought there were fewer rubes willing to be separated from their money so someone else could be rich, this comes across the streams of internet ether: Pooch pilsener. Beer for Bowser. Suds for Spot. Lager for Lassie. Oh, I could go on and on and on and on... Check it out at Happy Tail Ale.

We have a new chicken versus egg joke brewing here, folks, no pun intended. Which came first: beer for dogs or diet pills for dogs?

What's wrong, ol' girl? Did Timmy fall in the well with the bottle opener?

I'll let you off with a ticket this time, but the next time I see your mush team swerve and curve like that, I'm throwing the whole team in the kennel to dry out.

My name is Snoopy and I've fallen off my doghouse. You see, the bald-headed kid thought it would be funny to give me an after dinner drink and I've taken to selling my dog treats to support my hops habit.

Sign of the Apocolypse, Take Two: Yes, I'm going to write about shoes again. Well, not shoes so much as a cool way to organize them. Now that I've accumulated a few pair, I need to start thinking in this direction. Those midnight strolls to the loo have gotten a wee bit dangerous (again, no pun intended) since my collection started growing beyond the foot of the bed. To keep me from stubbing my toes and tripping over laces, I give you organizational art:

This is not too shabby looking. Of course, it'll have to be able to hold up under the weight of these:

Click if you're interested in more info—like what was the artist thinking when she came up with this idea. I read too quickly to make out her vision statement. I was looking for info on sales on this side of the Pond, to no avail. (bummer)

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Just a few links

Need help moving the furniture? Not anymore.

Casio has sold 1 billion calculators. It took 50 years to reach this milestone. Does anyone else enjoy the irony that it took them longer to sell 1 billion than it would take to count to 1 billion? (1 billion seconds = 31 years)

iFone!! Get your iFone here!!
It's an iPod and a Fone! ... and you don't have to wait til June to own one!

Water tank, heal thyself!

What a bizarre week for inanimate objects in our house. Things are repairing themselves in strange ways and in totally unknown ways. The former is downright lucky and the latter is downright creepy.

First, my pedometer. I've taken to walking to school this quarter. A number of factors have led to this choice of locomotion. First and foremost is the fact that the 15 pounds I lost when I started this job 2+ years ago have slowly returned. I rather liked being 15 pounds lighter than I am right now. I don't think I look bad. I don't think I'm unhealthy. I would just like to continue wearing the same size jeans I've been able to wear for as long as I can remember. And those jeans were so baggy 15 pounds ago. I miss that.

The second factor is that my first class is not until 10 a.m. I have the luxury of walking and spending time with my iPod in my ears and being read to by some pseudo-anonymous voice. I say pseudo-anonymous because while I may not know the name of the reader, I never forget a voice. The poor woman who read a novel I absolutely hated yet was forced to listen to because The T was enjoying it (and as we know, The T gets what The T wants) just happens to also read some of the words at Merriam-Webster dot com. Check out the pronunciation of the word "noir" at the site. I have no idea who the woman is but I know she was forced to read complete drivel and I'm glad she can make a living doing something that requires a modicum of intelligence.

But wait. We were talking about things healing themselves. I have taken to wearing my pedometer again because I am a total geek and I love knowing how many steps I've taken in a day. Now that I walk a mile to and from school every day, that is lots of data I can play with (that sound you hear is me drooling over the data). Alas, I dropped the pedometer and lost a couple of days and valuable data because whatever makes this thing work wasn't operating correctly. When I dropped it again two days alter, it reverted back to normal operations. How lucky! The collection of steps-per-day data has commenced once again.

The other item that has healed itself through absolutely zero intervention on the part of humans is our hot water heater. After the familial invasion during the holidays, apparently the tank just got tired and, while it tried to make the water hot, was failing miserably. While my showers weren't lukewarm, there was also no threat of them being too hot, which had been the case previously. So for two weeks, The T and I collected more data regarding the temperature of the water. This consisted of me complaining that the water wasn't as hot as it had been in the past and The T saying she thought I was a nut job. Then one day she agreed with me. So then we had two weeks of us living with things as they were, apparently waiting to get so fed up with it that one of us called a plumber.

But then—lo! and behold!—I took a shower and almost scalded myself. I told The T the water was hot like before. I forget her exact phrasing but her comment implied that I was again displaying the characteristics of a nut job. ... until she took a shower. So now either we are both nut jobs or she was wrong. I am still waiting for clarification on which is the case.

What happened to the hot water heater to revert it back to its previous behavior? We have no idea. A quick crawl-about in the crawlspace revealed nothing that could clear up the mystery. I think it is best to not question it and just enjoy it.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Karmic whiplash

This is the day I have been waiting for for weeks—nay! Months!! I have been scouring the 'net for the latest rumors and following every gadget blog I could track down and finally MacWorld2007 has arrived. Today at 9 AM, the grand event began. Alas, since I live in the time zone, my workday directly conflicted with Mr. Jobs' taking of the stage.

I resisted the urge to cancel my classes so I could watch the Keynote address live. I was a responsible adult and a role model for my students (only they may not know it). When 2 PM finally came around, I shut off the lights in the classroom, walked—ha! who am I kidding?—skipped/ran back to my office to commence the Keynote watching and ... found my computer to be ... uh ... not on. Hmmm, I guess the flickering of lights in the classroom when the stormfront came through hit the whole campus. I'll just restart my computer and settle in for the show.

Hmmm, the start-up icon is still spinning. That's odd. I'll just drop in the system dvd and show the system some lovin'.

... time passes ...

Hmmm, the utility can neither repair the hard drive nor install a new system folder. My Mac is toasted, or at least a little crispy around the edges of its hard drive.

Is anyone wallowing in the agony now as I was when I lived through this the first time? I have had this date circled on every calender in the house since my four-and-one-half-years-old 2nd-generation iPod started dying late in the summer and when finally I am going to be introduced to its replacement my Mac is dead!!

I'm home now. Nirvana (my home G5) is running fine (never even lost power, apparently) and my brand-spanking new for-audiobooks-only iFlea is charging even as I type (a blog topic for another day). I'm off to ogle at Steve and whatever he pulls out of his pockets.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Listen to those voices in your head

Since the quarter started last week, I have managed to walk a mile up the hill to school every day. It's a nice walk. It's not a bad hill. The elevation gain is a little under 300 feet (according to my trusty gps unit and the satellites o'erhead). Near the top of the hill, there is an S-curve that is not-so-safe for us pedestrians. I'll never quite understand how a sidewalk can blink in and out of existence along a stretch of road but that is exactly what happens along this S-curve.

Rather than play chicken with some non-caffeinated commuter who momentarily forgets that the brake pedal is their friend, I more often than not avoid the whole situation by veering left before the S-curve and taking an alternate street up the hill that lacks any curves whatsoever. Alas, it still has the not-so-gentle rise that I feel in the backs of my calves. It also adds about 3-5 minutes to the walk because it is not quite as direct a route. That three or five minutes mean a lot when the book-on-pod is a good one.

For some reason, this morning, I was debating whether to hoof it through the S-curve or trip on down the longer-yet-safer side road. For the life of me I have no idea why I was even debating this. The book-on-pod has gotten really good after starting slow (got that, Papa Ra?) and it wasn't raining and I was on time. No reason to shave the 3 minutes off my hike and stare down drivers coming at me through the S.
This is when the voices in my head got really, really, really loud.


It was the proverbial hammer to the (inside) back of the head. If someone was watching me at this moment when the voices chimed in, they would have seen me do some sort of bizarre moonwalker spin-o-lurch to the left. It wasn't pretty but it quieted the voices. I put it out of my mind because the human race is suffering from the manifestation of some strange retro-virus buried in our DNA that is resulting in a leap in evolution rather than a gradual change and riots are breaking out in China ... oh ... that was happening in the book, Darwin's Radio. Did I mention that it has gotten much better since the author, Greg Bear, got past the trite character development and got on with the sci in the fi (are you listening, Papa Ra?) Anyway, I put the left turn lurch out of my mind and kept walking.

That's when the gang came out of the mist. They looked familiar so no introductions were necessary. Some of them in better shape than others, some of them looking a little worn, some sporting a new color scheme, some in the old-school monotone, all sporting their serial numbers and looking mighty damp from being out in the rain for who knows how long. We continued up the hill together. They hung out in my office while I went about my school doodies ... er ... duties.

After school, the voices chimed in again and this time I needed no hammer. Never ever not even once before have I walked down the hill via the non-S side street but I did today. And sure enough, more of the gang members were at the bottom of the hill, looking really damp and lonely and wondering where their compadres had gone off to. Needless to say, we all continued down the hill together.

When we got to my house, I invited the gang in and offered them the chance to rinse off the grime from being out in the rain. I tucked them in to help them dry out a little while I ate dinner. Then I ironed them all to dry them out the rest of the way.

The gang totals $469, all denominations from $1 to $100. I have no idea what I am going to do with them. I'm a little wigged out and wondering if cameras were rolling or if someone is not going to be able to make their rent or buy their kid new shoes or doesn't even miss the boys since they flew out of the pocket of their leather coat as they sped down the hill in their Rolls Royce. Were the boys kidnapped and then accidently dropped as their captors fled? What were they doing hanging out on that corner, pretty spread out and mixed in amongst the debris of the wind and rain?

I have no idea what I am going to do with them. They are warm and dry and tucked away in a safe spot. And I will listen to the voices in my head the next time they make a suggestion.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Feeling like a centipede

I have always been the type to own enough shoes to keep my feet comfortable. That old joke about the difference between men and women and their shoes? Well, I would land squarely in the man camp.

  • When a woman says she needs a pair of shoes that go with every outfit she means she needs as many pairs of shoes as she has outfits.
  • When a man says he needs a pair of shoes that go with every outfit he means he needs only one pair of shoes.
I was so happy with just my Air Jesus sandals, workboots, sneakers and a pair of dress shoes. The pile wasn't that deep to dig through. The closet floor stayed relatively hazard free. And I had so few decisions to make when I got dressed.

Query: Is it clean?
If yes, commence dressing.
Else, commence scrounging.

When I got down to my feet, the routine became
Query: Is it raining?
If yes, avoid sandals.
Else, are shoes visible?
If yes, consider shoes
Else, put on sneakers.

Not a lot of thought necessary and my feet were happy campers.

Alas, I have been sucked into some horrible vortex of footwear. In the last week I have acquired abother pair of shoes and another pair of sneakers. Now I have to decide between the sneakers with blue highlights versus the red ones. With shoes, the decision is between the brown slip-ons and the brown lace-ups. I may have to change the time my alarm goes off in the morning. I may have to start going to bed earlier. {sigh} Life was so simple a mere three days ago.

One way to organize your shoes. I hope this only a display and nobody actually owns the shoes like this shows.

Again with the 50 pairs of shoes all the same except for location on spectrum. Please don't let this obsession ever happen to me.

Wear shoes, get laughed at—but fail to hear it because the built-in music player is cranked up so loud.

Another sneaker-iPod cross-breeding experiment gone wrong.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Blog Transmogrification

I've been thinking a lot about this blog lately. Perhaps some of that time could have been spent actually posting to it but I couldn't post while thinking.

I started blogging because the geek in me wanted yet another reason to play with my computer. That has been accomplished just fine. The form this blog has taken is also OK—to a point. I've found a lot of other blogs based in education and gadgets and time wasting and blog accessorizing (see right-hand column). While these are all interests of mine, I often want to pose questions or make comments about my job as a math teacher without my personality impacting the way people who know me read them. I want the issue to be at the forefront, not me. Most of you readers know who I am; there are very few who don't (I do not think you, Rainbow Hemp, are responsible for any more than, oh, 500 of the hits to this blog).

Therefore, I think I am going to start another blog for the sole purpose of talking about education topics. I've been following KFluff's blog for a while and appreciate her posts about using blogs with her students and other topics surrounding academic blogs in general. For a myriad of reasons, I think the edu-blog should best be done anonymously. I'm sure I'll be making comments about my classes and campus-life here once in a while but those instances and occurrences that get stuck between my teeth will probably be addressed elsewhere. I think separating Me the Geek from Dr. Me the Prof will allow me to think about my postings differently. Hey, this whole thing (blogging, living day-to-day, etc.) is an experiment in bending reality to suit our needs anyhow, right? I'm just bending it a little more.

So Mostly Filler will remain mostly as is. The only change will be the thinning of the links on the right. I'm taking the education-based blogs and going elsewhere. The hard part is going to be coming up with a name for this new blog. Hopefully I'll see you there, wherever that is.