Thursday, February 27, 2014

Friday Fragments

Earlier this week I ordered a copy of What Excellent Community Colleges Do, by Joshua Wyner.  It arrived last night.

The Boy:   Is the Amazon package a gadget or a book?

Me: It’s a book.

TB: Oh.  What is it?

Me: What Excellent Community Colleges Do.

TB: From the “most popular books” collection.  Why would you read __that__?

Me: To help me do my job.


TB: You mean, you read books so you can work __harder__?

Me: I read them so I can work better.


Me: Well, yeah.

TB: That’s just wrong.

The world looks different at twelve...


Between the kids’ February break (!) and far too many snow days, activities have been at a premium.  We picked up a cheap paperback compilation of crossword puzzles, and discovered that they work pretty well as a group activity.  One person calls out clues and parameters (“six letters, ends with an “r.”)  

One clue was something like “peak,” and the answer was “acme.”  

The Girl: “Isn’t “acme” a kind of anvil?”

Wile E. Coyote lives on.


The West Hills Community College District, in California, is experimenting with allowing students to register for classes a full year in advance.  The selling point for students, as near as I can tell, is that they’ll be able to get the classes they want at the times they want.

I don’t see it as terribly likely to work for more than a small number of students, but it’s worth trying.  

The obvious danger is that only the type A students will take advantage of the program.  Students are required either to pay upfront or to arrange financial aid upfront for the entire year, so I don’t foresee too much of an issue with “placeholder” registrations, though I could be wrong on that.  

In the best case, students’ self-commitments become self-fulfilling, and the college is better able to plan how many sections of what to run in a given semester.  In the worst case, they’ve just mightily increased the workloads for the financial aid and registrar’s offices, without really solving anything.  

I’ll be curious to see how “sticky” the students’ commitments turn out to be.  My guess is that relatively few students will actually take the plunge, and most of those that will, would have been fine anyway.  But I wouldn’t mind being proved wrong on that.  Give it a shot, West Hills.  I’ll be genuinely curious to see how it goes.


The Girl and I went to the local Daddy-Daughter dance last night.  She’s getting too big to just pick up and twirl like I used to, but she’s still young enough that going to a dance with Daddy is appealing.  I’ll hold on to that as long as she lets me.

She spent most of the dance goofing around with her friends, which is as it should be, but I got a few dances in.  We had our picture taken, and this year made the strategic decision to avoid the chocolate fountain before pictures.  It’s the right call, and I stand by it.

As we left, each girl was presented with a teddy bear to take home with her.  On the drive home, she pondered what to name it.

As we pulled in to the garage, she announced that she’s naming the bear Matthew.

I’ll hold on to that one, too.


Program Note:  The blog will be on break next week, as I’ll be preoccupied with a fairly major personal event.  It’ll be back on Monday, March 10.