Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Finally! Time to type

Finally, my travels are over! Let the panic about the upcoming quarter commence. But before we get to that, let me get you caught up on a few things.

1) My travels to a point east of here for a calculator training workshop. Being a math dork, I feel we should define our variables. If home base is called Pt. A, let's call my travel destination Pt. B, shall we? Now that we know what we're talking about, let's make it very clear that the next time the state senators from Pt. B and the surrounding counties come up with a resolution for secession from the state, they should be allowed to leave! They've already done it once. I say if this behavior becomes a habit, we take advantage of it and cut them loose. Oy, what a hole. Upon my return, I was asked if I saw the waterfront near the river. I can honestly say I saw no evidence of greenery or water in my stay in Pt. B. Ugh. I felt like I was in a version of Sin City. The calculator is quite cool, by the way. I need more time with it alone but I think we're going to get along just fine.
Anyhow, while trying to figure out how to navigate my way out of a part of town I should not have been in, number 2 occurred.

2) The T calls while I am cruising Pt. B looking for my workshop site and verifying that the car doors are locked and she reads to me from a lovely document sent from my former state of residence. Seems they want to garnish my taxes or something because I wasn't a good little doobie and return the state plates and registration tags when my vehicle was registered in my new state of residence. Since I didn't do so, they stuffed my file in a drawer for 2 years and then sent it to the state collection agency that tacked on an additional 17% to bring the grand total to over $1600. Need I mention that is more than the bluebook value of the car? So now I have to prove that the car was registered in the state of Pt. A. This supposed solution to the question what do you want from me besides $1600? was not easy to figure out. Every time I called the state to ask more information, I was told by the friendly automated voice, "There are 5 (or 2) callers ahead of you. Your call will be answered in the order in which it was received. Your call will be answered in approximately 2 (or 3) minutes." Well, I don't know what system of time that bureaucracy is running on but I lost 5 hours of my life, one hour at a time, on hold. The T was also calling and while she was on hold on her cell phone, she called from the landline. The message on the landline descended from there are 6 callers ahead of you, to 5 to 4, etc., until there was only 1 ahead of her. Since she was still on hold on the cell phone, shouldn't that have been the 1 person ahead of her on the landline?!?

Here's an added twist to the drama: I sold the car to a friend of mine who I met in the state in question. She later followed the trail I had blazed to Pt. A and is now returning to the state with the mind-numbing bureaucracy and stringent car registration and insurance laws. So she is going to try and register the vehicle in that state once again. I don't think she'll have a problem though, really. How can I say such a thing? Because that state had the wrong vehicle identification number (VIN) on record for the 7 years I lived there and I didn't find out until I could not register the car in this state! That's how I know! The title I held on the car was in no way related to the car in my driveway because some dweeb typed it in wrong. My proof of auto insurance and my car title had two different VIN and guess which one was wrong. Yup, the state. I'm not complaining, though, considering that this is the same group of folks who changed The T's sex on her license from the fairer sex to the less-fair sex when all she did was renew her license. Thank gaia the motor vehicle drones in Pt. A didn't notice that one, eh? "You would like to register your vehicle today and come out of the closet as a transsexual?"

3) While this adventure rolls along, The T and I went off to a conference/retreat focused on ... hmmm ... let's call it Johnny Can Add But We Haven't Figured Out How to Assess It Yet. Let's be very clear on one thing, folks: the kids can do the math. It is not a question of some can and some can't and that's OK because we can't all do everything. That's bullhockey. People can do math. No matter their age. It's the systems we have to work in as teachers and students and administrators that beats the drum and beats the beauty out of the field and beats the curiosity out of the individual and makes mathphobia an accepted social ailment.

The T was at this retreat in her guise as a educator wonk designing/working on a grant to address mathematics and science in middle and high schools. I was there in the role as a tertiary ed math prof who has agreed to be a partner on said grant. That was kind of fun, being able to work with The T in a professional way. If nothing else, I now understand what it is that she does for a living. And I have a better grasp of education initiatives out there that are trying to help folks who want to help those who are trying to learn the math. I say again, let's be clear on one thing: the kids can do the math. The folks teaching them need resources and support and need to know they are valued as part of the solution to solving issues in improving mathematics achievement. Those that contribute to perpetuating mathphobia because they themselves suffer from it (whether or not they know it) need resources and support so their teaching can improve.

OK, I'm getting down from the soapbox (how did I get up there anyway?). The retreat was great and—coming on the heels of my visit to Pt. B and my being bureaucratized by the man—it was just what I needed to feel good about being in the field of education.

More later, gang. I have to go mail off some paperwork to the wonks.

Friday, August 17, 2007

How far we've come

I don't understand why DOS needed to be emulated via JAVA but it was fun to play with.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

While I'm away....

I'm off to a 3-day workshop that's going to get another gadget in my hands. bwa-ha-ha I am so excited. I will do (almost) anything to acquire a new toy. Currently in my drawer I have four Palm PDAs, three iPods, a GPS unit, a Mac iBook and G3 lappie, as well as a G3 and G5 desktop computer. I also have three graphing calculators, an old school mechanical calculator, an abacus, and four slide rules. Don't argue with me that a slide rule is not a gadget. Any item that comes with a manual that consists of bound pages rather that just stapled sheets has got to be a gadget.

Anyway, the goody I will acquire this week is a new TI-Nspire. How can you not drool when you see this thing? It can do so much that it comes with two keyboards! This bi-faceplate issue is the driving force behind the workshop. Me thinks this gadget has a big brain and if I tried to figure it out on my own I would only scrape the surface—and probably not very much of it. I can't wait to see what tricks this thing can do.

While I'm away, I thought I would leave you with an online game to help fill up your time. I will introduce it to you the same way it was introduced to me: with no directions on how to play. Please give it a whirl and see how many attempts you need to figure it out. The link I have is for a site that reviews games so the writer does give some clues about how to play as he explains what he likes about the game. If you want to try it with no foreknowledge, click the link and play Gimme Friction Baby before you read the whole review. The game designer said he thought adding directions would take away from the simplicity of the game and they are not really needed anyhow. It is a casual game, so no time limits or pressure to kill or be killed. I've lost hours of my life to this game and my high score is only 29 while my average is in the very low single digits. Have a good time.

In the background while I type this is a podcast of A Way With Words. Yes, we digit-heads love words too and this public radio show is a hoot. The focus is words and language and etymology and puns and grammar. I mention it now for two reasons. The first is that I do not think a lot of affiliates have picked it up yet and, besides the four podcasters that listen, everyone who calls in is from San Diego or Wisconsin. I'm trying to expand the listenership. The second reason I mention it is that as I'm trying to concentrate on typing, a few phrases made it through to my gray matter:
Books never crash. And you can use them in the tub.
I was wondering if they were metrosexual, but didn't know if I was allowed to say that on the radio.
The Macaroni Club—completely metrosexual. With lots of product in their hair.

OK, so it may sound like they drifted from the topic there but they were on task. The lyrics to Yankee Doodle were under analysis. I'll leave the rest for you to think about. I was actually a caller on this show once and if you want to know why "a whole nother" sounds more legitimate than it looks, post a question.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Look what I found

For more info, click the links.

Item 1: What are you doing on August 28th at about 3 A.M. PST? If you're calendar is free, you might want to go outside and watch the moon turn red. No, the rapture hasn't been scheduled. There's going to be a cool eclipse event that turns the moon red instead of rendering it invisible. It will be visible across north America. You east coasters might miss the end because the sun will rise before the event is over but it's still worth getting out of bed for, eh? Don't call me. I'll be outside.

Item 2: Who said math wasn't useful?
Things I have learned from surfing this morning:
1. a handy conversion: 60,000 pieces of card stock = a fractal creation
2. Obsessions come in degrees. My colleagues laughed at me when I finished an online course in record time just to get the free graphing calculator, but I don't think my 4-1/2 day obsession compares to what this woman has done.
3. There is an Institute for Figuring. What a great name. Those of you who took enough math may recall that iff is math shorthand for if and only if. And now IFF stands for this institute as well. Cool. Those of you who know any grammar are twitching right now because the phrase if and only if a preposition ends with. Those of you who have ever traveled to Tatooine know only Yoda can get away with that type of verbage.

Item 3: Is the heat getting to you?
A nice trim might cool you off. And what else are you keeping under that outfit?

Item 4: Stop playing with your food!
What do you get when a number of obsessions collide, one of which is art and another is chocolate? You get edible shoes, that's what. The drool on my keyboard is not because of the heels, I'll tell you that much.

Item 5: I wished I'd known that sooner
Yes, the housing market is cooling—if for no other reason than mortgage companies have created a population of homeless, bankrupt individuals who played the lottery via an adjustable rate mortgage and lost when they couldn't make ends meet (oh, if they'd only paid attention in math class)—yet here are some helpful tips if you're looking to buy.

I love this one: When house hunting don't be too wary of the Harley parked in front of the house across the street, it might turn out to be owned by really friendly lesbians!

Item 6: I need one of these
Nothing like letting your inner geek shine through with a tattoo. Nerd Be Proud.

How do you know when it's done?

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Far be it for me to argue

Why are you looking down here? That caption wasn't enough for you?

Stuck on the Dark Side

When the Jedi Steve teamed up with the Dark Side to get a revolutionary new light saber, phone, iPod, email and web surfing device to the minions, I thought those who think different could rejoice. I thought maybe those consumed by evil could be convinced to close the Windows and come around to the side of good. Apparently I rejoiced too quickly. Here's a shot from inside a Death Star franchise:

Found at Gizmodo

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Hey Rae! You've Jumped the Shark

Every time I see her face, I go off my vittles for a week. It's a fantastic diet. Slimming with because of Rachael! She's so perky it makes me pukey.

And why would I want to cook a rock?!?