Friday, July 24, 2009

And then we sleep, glorious sleep

illustration for the August issue of Wired by Jason Lee

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I'm licensed to do what now?

After about 18 hours spent in a classroom and on the, uh, range, I am now the proud holder of a motorcycle license. I also have a bit of a sunburn on the back of my neck. The latter I earned by tooling around a paved lot while never getting above 2nd-gear. The former was acquired the same way. I've spent some time reflecting on the whole experience—T says possibly too much time.

True to form, The T turned my commentary on the course into an example of learning theory. Let me explain. A student in the class said she was taking the class because she bought a 400cc scooter to ride to work and she'd heard that if she was caught on the road, it would be taken away. She does not have a permit for the scooter. She seemed to think that it would be impounded because it was a scooter. I tried to explain to her that it would be impounded because she didn't have a driver's permit to ride it on the road. I guess she didn't believe me because the next day when the instructor asked her why she was taking the class, she said the same thing. She wanted her motorcycle license because she thought she needed to get a motorcycle because a scooter could not be on the road. She did not understand the role the driver's permit played in the situation. The scooter is completely street legal. It would have been impounded because of the lack of a permit, not because it is not a motorcycle.

It was fascinating to me to watch how my suggestion of necessary paperwork was ignored. This is where T's learning lesson comes in. People, i.e., students, will hold on to their beliefs until they can mesh new information with their old (possibly incorrect) understanding to come to a new understanding. This woman had it in her head that it was the mere existence of the scooter on the road that was the problem and not the lack of paperwork. I wonder if she's shopping for a Harley right now because she still doesn't get it.

(Is this where I mention she is in the country on a green card and that little bit of paperwork she seems to understand just fine?)

When The T has talked about how people hold on to what they understand during our many education conversations, I've nodded my head and agreed. It makes sense. I've then walked into a classroom and wonder why my students make mistakes that were addressed and discussed previously. Their understanding of the math is similar to the scooter-chick's understanding of impounding: each party is holding on to what they know because new info has not been integrated into their belief structures—yet (hopefully 'yet'). Now I'm pondering my role as an instructor to help students with this integration of new info. This falls into Leading a Horse to Water scenario so I know I can't just give them the info and think that they'll immediately believe in it and integrate it and understand it. But how far do I lead? Do I walk right to the water? Do I just provide a map and compass? Do I try to come up with more detail in this analogy when I could be doing other things?

ponder ponder ponder

Monday, July 06, 2009

Never thought I'd use that nugget

Last century when I was in middle school, my gonads dictated that I take Home Economics rather than woodshop. Well, it didn't take. I am helpless in the kitchen. I can struggle through pizza, popcorn, pasta, and reheating restaurant leftovers. My mother, on the other hand, can do some serious magic when it comes to cooking. When I was wee, her renditions of Leftover Surprise were stupendous (how leftovers ever existed in our family of six is beyond me). She had a few recipes that were cycled through every now-and-again and she has at least one soup that cannot be committed to paper since the main direction is "continue to add sugar and vinegar to the duck blood, raisins, and prunes until it tastes right." Yummy. I kid you not.

She had one cookbook that I foresaw even at a young age as the thing we four siblings might fight over at the reading of the will. My brother headed this feud off by getting all the sibs our own copies a few years ago. Good move, bro!

The Encyclopedia of Cooking was compiled by Mary Margaret McBride and has 1536 pages. My mother's copy is bound in hinged steel plates (my copy has a cover but it is not attached). It is massive. It has recipes on everything, including raccoon and other game. Lard is a major ingredient throughout the recipes. This is not surprising since it was published in 1959, the heyday of the Lard Era. It shows every kitchen gadget of the time and how to use it. It defines cooking terms, like "pasties." (I'm making those tomorrow.)

It also has a typo and I only know this because of what I must have picked up Home Ick, er, Ec over three decades ago. Fact: the ingredients in American cookbooks are listed in the order they are used. So the recipe for Rice and Cheese Croquettes that lists mayonnaise, flour, then flour again is in error. "Why is a self-confessed reheater making something she cannot pronounce?" I hear you cry. I was both drawn to the combination of rice and cheese and comforted by the fact that I knew what all the other ingredients were and that none were raccoon.

Anyway, the corrected typo should read: mayonnaise, flour and
milk. The amounts of the ingredients isn't what helped me solve the problem. I know not how to make a sauce that will thicken and two tablespoons of milk would certainly be stiffer than 2/3-cup of milk, wouldn't you agree? Well, if you agreed, we'd both be wrong. It was the directions for how to add the ingredients to the saucepan that helped me solve the dilemma and use 2/3-cup of milk.

Now, if Ms. McBride had not been from deep in the heartland and perhaps had a habit of sipping a wee bit of sherry between steps and sounded a bit more like the Queen, I don't think I could have solved my dilemma. Apparently, cookbooks on the other side of the pond list the ingredients from greatest to least quantity used. I don't think I picked up this part of the factoid in junior high. Regardless, I would like to thank my teacher whose name is lost to me. Tomorrow's lunch of rice and cheese croquettes is a go. Dinner will consist of turkey pasties. Stop by for a nibble if you're in town.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Jump on this new networking opportunity

One of the norms here in Meanwhile Manor is that toilet paper and Q-tips and tissues just seem to get replaced when they are empty or running low. We are believers in the Toilet Paper Fairy, as identified here in this Pickles comic:

So there is part of the back story to today's post. The other facet of the back story is that The T and I have been totally sucked into the black hole that is Facebook. We are currently having a good time and yet trying to figure out how to carve out time in our day where Facebook fits in. But I digress. To summarize thus far: we believe in the TP Fairy and we joined F'Book.

What follows is what you would have overheard had you been listening in this morning.

The T: Supplies are running low. It seems the the TP Fairy is slacking off.

Me: Distracted. Maybe the fairy is distracted.

T: By Facebook? The fairy is spending too much time on Facebook?

Me: TushBook. It seems more appropriate that the TP Fairy would be distracted by TushBook.
For the record, that is one social network I would not browse.