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.