Friday, September 30, 2011

 

Friday Fragments

-- This week a student reminded me of a side of college I sometimes forget. He’s openly gay, and his mannerisms fit the stereotype pretty conspicuously. He mentioned that high school -- just last year -- was sheer hell for him, with his always being subjected to, as he put it, “faggot this and faggot that.” Having been here for a year, he said that he never hears that here. Now that he feels safe, he’s able to stop always looking over his shoulder, and his grades have improved dramatically. I was happy to hear that the college was as open an environment as I thought it was, and it was wonderful to see this young man come into his own, but it was awful to hear that high school wasn’t much different in 2010 than it was in 1985. Somehow, I expected more. But college is still a haven from a heartless high school, just as it was all those years ago. I don’t see that aspect of college being easily replicated online.

-- September is a very expensive month. TB picked alto sax at school, so we had to pick that up (with requisite insurance, music stand, and book, naturally). CYO basketball is gearing up, and the fee for that isn’t cheap. School pictures, though awful, aren’t cheap. And the not-really-optional-if-you’re-in-administration annual fund drive at the college is under way. They’re each worthy individually, but they add up. Somehow, it surprises me every single year.

-- You know you’re running on empty when you arrive at work and realize you forgot your pants. In my defense, it was on one of my “gym days,” when I work out before work. I bring in the suit and shirt on hangers, so I arrive in gym clothes and leave the work clothes in the locker. With suits, the pants go inside the jacket on the hanger. Which is fine, if it’s actually a suit and not a blazer. It was a blazer. Grumble. When I got home for a quick change, TW shot me the “I can’t believe your mutant DNA is in my children” look. I prefer to think of it as staying in touch with my “absent-minded professor” roots. History will decide.

-- The new Amazon tablet strikes me as a near-miss. Yes, the price is reasonable, but it’s a pretty closed system. To see what I mean, try looking for the Spotify app in the Amazon appstore. It’s not there. Since the tablet apparently has no external card reader, it wouldn’t lend itself to jailbreaking in the same way the Nook Color does; that means that if Amazon doesn’t sell a particular app, you can’t have it. If I want a closed system, I’ll go with Apple. In the meantime, I have to admit enjoying the rooted Nook entirely too much. (Note to the persnickety: yes, I know, I’m misusing both “jailbreaking” and “rooted.” I just don’t have an elegant way of saying “running a dual boot system off a nook2android card loaded with gingerbread.” Is there a shorter way to say that?)

-- If Amazon wants to make real headway in the higher education market -- admittedly, the answer to that is not obvious -- it needs to address ADA compliance in its Kindle tablet. We’ve already been warned away from using the previous Kindle for course materials on exactly those grounds. Ipads are compliant, but they’re pricey.

-- Getting a public bus schedule to align with a college class schedule is harder than you would think. That’s all I’m sayin’.

-- My campaign for the Republican Presidential nomination in 2012 is proceeding swimmingly. Every time there’s a frontrunner, s/he self-destructs. (I think it has to do with finally receiving critical scrutiny. Just a theory.) My low profile will enable a ninth-inning rally. In the meantime, I’ll add to my “if conservatives were worthy of the term, they’d do this” platform by noting simply that one surefire way to make entrepreneurship easier would be to provide single-payer universal health insurance. Judging by the number of people who would start their own businesses except that they can’t afford to go without health insurance, we’re sitting on a powder keg of economic dynamism. Save capitalism from the capitalists! What could be more conservative than that?

-- Of course, if I want to do well in the debates, I should probably make sure I remember my pants.

Comments:
Judging by the number of people who would start their own businesses except that they can’t afford to go without health insurance, we’re sitting on a powder keg of economic dynamism.

Friend of mine in Sweden says that Swedes view capitalism as freedom, because they are free do do just that — quit and go it on their own. No worries about health care or education means that having a family or a chronic condition doesn't hold you back from being an entrepreneur.
 
It's not really in the same league as forgetting your pants, but I'll offer up this: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevewhitaker/3292387575/
 
Blazers and gym shorts seem to be an appropriate fashion choice at my school for professors (I'm not joking unfortunately), but maybe things are a little different in administration?
 
A few years ago, we got meeting spam about how important it was to get the FacultyStaffRetiree contribution percentages up. So I donated $5/year for 3 years---I'm ambivalent about actually asking employees to contribute to the employer, although I guess that everyone asks. The $5 contribution should help the percentages, while not actually costing money.
 
<a href="http://www.inc.com/magazine/20110201/in-norway-start-ups-say-ja-to-socialism.html>It's true: Norway is a hotbed of entrepreneurialism.</a>. Which makes a ton of sense once you remove yourself from buzzwords and dogma and actually consider life as she is lived.

The Wife and I have had many half-serious talks about moving to Stockholm. I could pick up Swedish quickly, we don't fear snow, and ABBA's finally broken up, so it's perfect. If only I had job skills that were in high demand among Swedes. Dammit.

Alas, "Being Awesome" isn't considered a relevant job skill for immigration purposes.
 
It's true: Norway is a hotbed of entrepreneurialism. Which makes a ton of sense once you remove yourself from buzzwords and dogma and actually consider life as she is lived.

The Wife and I have had many half-serious talks about moving to Stockholm. I could pick up Swedish quickly, we don't fear snow, and ABBA's finally broken up, so it's perfect. If only I had job skills that were in high demand among Swedes. Dammit.

Alas, "Being Awesome" isn't considered a relevant job skill for immigration purposes.
 
Hurrah for the alto sax! Practice, practice, practice.

Love your Friday posts.
 
Ditto on enjoying your Friday posts. And, we're glad to see you are still an absent-minded professor - like the rest of us. Our admin assistant just noted the other day she can't believe how many simple things professors can't do/remember how to do
 
I'm just amazed to hear you wear a suit--is that every day? At my left coast institution even the president only suits up on an as-needed basis.
 
I don’t see that aspect of college being easily replicated online.

First, why this non sequitur swipe at online teaching?

And it's not even true. For YEARS LGBT students have sought refuge in online classes--as I can attest, having taught them for 12 years--and have expressed that they feel safe being themselves online.

Seriously, WTF?
 
It's not a swipe -- DD is genuinely not sure of how online teaching fits into the overall CC mission, given his experiences.
 
Also, the fact that health care currently discourages entrepreneurship is a feature, not a bug, to our Republican friends. Remember, they don't represent business; they represent BIG business.
 
Alternate "no pants" solution: reschedule all meetings to occur in your office, and then don't get up from your desk. I've had similar misfortunes happen as a result of my bike commute and forgetting an item on a weather day that requires multiple options of shorts, long pants, etc.
 
I think it is sad that high schools have a long way to go on inclusiveness on every level (gender, sexuality, religion and race). That said I think college students are more private in expressing their biases since they know it will not be tolerated on campus, ergo I think administration on K-12 tolerate a lot of student to student bias. I have been privately told by students why they chose certain colleges over other ones and too much of a presences of gay students was a stated reason. As a professor I have had to correct students on two biases they feel are okay to voice, anti-gay and anti-muslim. I don't know the solution but it has to start much earlier than college.
 
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