Archive for the 'Technology' Category

01
Jul
17

oops

EF sale

I guess it is marked down $55,010.

21
Jul
14

Self-Surveillance Anyone?

Ugh.

Forget about Big Brother watching us.

We’re doing it ourselves.

I’m not doing anything wrong but STOP WATCHING ME.

04
May
14

reply vs. reply all

A brief tutorial, for those of you living at the bottom of a mineshaft, or too busy re-alphatizing your rolodex to pay attention, for the past 15 years:

Clicking on this button:
replyknown as the “Reply” button, sends an email message in response to a previous message, but sends this message only to the person from whom the original message, well, originates.

Clicking on this, one, in comparison:

replyall

will send your message of response to EVERY SINGLE PERSON TO WHOM THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR DIRECTED THE MESSAGE.

These buttons should be used judiciously; with consideration and forethought.

For example, it is important for the person administering the training session to know whether you have taken it previously. The rest of us don’t actually need to know that you have taken it previously, and despite being, as a whole, reasonably sympathetic people, about this particular issue I think it’s safe to say that we probably don’t care. It’s not personal, it’s just that, well, we don’t care. It doesn’t affect whether we need to take it or not, it doesn’t affect how we feel about you as a person that you have managed to take the course before we did, and we’re not bringing the doughnuts, so we don’t need a headcount.

If not sure, click Reply. While we won’t actually thank you for it, because we won’t actually know, we are all nonetheless grateful.

You know who you are.

Feel free to quote me.

 

 

 

18
Jun
12

Cool!

But how does it work?

pamelia_kurstin_plays_the_theremin.html

31
May
12

helpful pinterest

I always want to ask, is there a reason Glenda can’t categorize it herself?

 

22
Apr
12

Google+

Ha!

Google+.

09
Apr
12

did I miss something?

Dear iTunes/iBooks customer support–

Thank you for your previous messages in your attempt to help me solve the “encoding error” problems I was experiencing after updating the software on my iPad, and which was causing most of my ebooks to appear to be empty of content. I’m sorry that you felt you were no longer able to help me. After much trial and error, I have found the solution, so I just wanted to update you, in case this situation presented itself again with another customer who was experiencing difficulties. It turns out that all I needed to do was run the iBooks app update. Everything is now fine. I’m actually surprised this wasn’t suggested in the first place.

S—-

 

Dear S—,

I just want to say that you are very welcome, and thanks for replying. I’m glad to hear that your issue has been resolved, and I was able to provide you with the support you deserve. I know it is always such a feeling of accomplishment, when things work out the way you want them to.

I am glad that I could assist you and best of all, put a smile on your face. Believe me, nothing makes Apple happier than knowing that we have pleased our wonderful customers. I truly hope that you continue to enjoy all that the iTunes Store has to offer.
 
Also, Apple (and myself) are currently striving for the best experience possible in making sure our customers have been taken care of to their satisfaction.
   
It was a pleasure to assist you, and I will now close this request. Remember support is just an email away if needed. You’ve truly been a remarkable asset to the iTunes Store Family and Thank you for choosing the iTunes Store.
 
Best wishes and continued happiness!

Sincerely,

Ashley
iTunes Store Customer Support
http://www.apple.com/support/itunes/ww/

I work Thursday, Friday 7:00 AM – 3:30 PM and Monday Through Thursday 12:30 PM – 9:00 PM EST.

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to assist you.

 

Let’s open this up for a vote, shall we?

How many people believe that Ashley has her replies to her customers reviewed by a superior, but not necessarily including the messages to which she is replying.

There is no possible way that she can suppose from the content of my message the she was of any use at all!!!

 

Just sayin’.

23
Mar
12

one of the darker sides of technology

In a report on this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland from the March 5 New Yorker:

There’s a software firm by the name of Tibco, based in Silicon Valley, which has generated data-sorting software for companies such as Amazon, FedEx, Goldman Sachs, eBay airlines, and the Department of Homeland Security. They have also designed a program for Harrah’s, the well-known casino, which “can figure out when a gambler is about to encounter a loss of such magnitude that it will cause him to leave the casino and perhaps never come back. The casino’s Luck Ambassadors [I’m not making this up] will then offer the gambler a free meal or a ticket to a show. . .and distract the gambler long enough to entice him to return later, to continue losing money in palatable increments.”

Well, at least it’s palatable.

 

06
Mar
12

A dog’s life

Okay, first of all, you have to promise not to laugh. I bought First Son a digital drawing tablet for Christmas, and it looked like so much fun I just acquired one for myself.

I’m just in the early stages of learning how to use it though, and have been completely surprised by how hard it is to draw on one surface while looking at another. Despite my obvious hand-eye coordination, it’s like I don’t really know where the tip of that pen actually is.

Anyway, here’s my first attempt at illustrated humor:

You removed my boy parts. I will never forgive you. Instead I will just lie here, dejectedly, and blink my sad little puppy eyes at you every time you look at me. You should be ashamed of yourself.

Must dance.

Too bad we can’t all get over all of our traumas so easily.

 

p.s. Hopefully by the next time I will have learned how to at least form legible letters. Or maybe I should stick to impossible yoga poses and Bach.

30
Jan
12

Something worthy of the 501st post. . .or maybe not

Politics: Is it really possible that the Republican party can’t come up with someone more viable than Mitt Romney and his millions and his condescension, or Newt Gingrich and his volatility and personal and professional unreliability?

Religion: Read this post by the Circular Runner. (Another one of those “what he said” moments.)

Home: Dexter the Dancing Dog has seriously backslid on potty training. I hope it’s just a teething phase or something. He was with Only Daughter at Only Daughter’s Dad’s (ODD?) house for the weekend — complete upheaval, probably, and I think he missed me. He won’t get out of my lap this morning. He’s very soft and cuddly, so it’s okay.

Culture: Saw two great movies on DVD over the weekend — Contagion and The Conspirator. The whole time I was watching Contagion I was worrying about picking up my own wine glass in case I was going to catch something. And Marion Cotillard has the most beautiful accent I’ve ever heard. Robin Wright was absolutely amazing in The Conspirator, and the issues addressed: the rights of civilians to civilian trials, the beliefs held by people in power that law can and should be suspended in times of “war,” hit way too close to home and the Bush/Iraq era.

Books: Just finished reading Julian Barnes’ The Sense of an Ending. Loved it. Don’t know what to read next. Any suggestions?

Music: Does anyone know how to use Ping? I want to be able to post music for my piano students to listen to. I thought that was kind of what it’s for but I can’t figure out how to use it.

Music part 2: Just finished putting the whole book of Honk! on CD for an area high school for rehearsals. Nothing like trying to learn and record an entire musical in a week, not to mention the 2-hour long argument I had to mediate last night between my digital recorder and iTunes. (I prevailed, finally.) Does anybody know why iTunes insists on reordering things when importing? I had to manually drag all of the tracks around (3 times, because the first two times didn’t seem to transfer correctly) and then when I burned it to the CDs it removed all of the labels from the tracks. REALLY FRUSTRATING! Although I’m sure it has a lot more to do with me not really knowing what I’m doing than about the limitations of the program itself.

Blogging: Two blogs I’ve recently discovered which I’m really enjoying: Redamancylit, where the blogger posts excerpts from various writings, many of them profoundly beautiful; and musicandstroke, written by a friend of mine, a percussionist, who suffered a stroke about a year ago, and who writes about the recovery process and how different life/the world looks afterwards. Check them out!

Family: First Son is about to turn 22. Why does that sound so much older than 21? And Only Daughter will be 11 on Wednesday. Sheesh.

Some pictures from the last week of facebook postings:

And this, just because you can never have too many boots, or cats:

 

17
Oct
11

pinterest

Just managed to “score” an “invitation” to join Pinterest.

I’m not really sure what this process is supposed to represent. Being the mildly cynical sort, I can’t help but feel that the manufactured experience of petitioning for an “invitation” is supposed to make you feel like you’ve gained access to some kind of exclusive club.

And at the risk of sounding paranoid, if I link my pinterest board to my twitter or facebook accounts, is there any way of knowing whether pinterest is pillaging all of my personal information for some nefarious reason?

(You know, just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean the world isn’t out to get you.)

I do often feel that much of our time is spent shouting and waving our arms, like the chronic middle child: “Me! Me! Pay attention to me!” We write on facebook about what we’re doing today or what we’re eating or what we’re thinking; we write on blogs to rant or rave or muse. We spend a lot of time talking, but not a lot of time listening.

I’ve often wished my posts would trigger even more conversation, although I’m wondering if maybe it has something to do with how/what I write, and whether I could invite more discussion somehow. Without a trace of irony, I ask, any suggestions?

I do spend a lot of time reading, fiction, New Yorker/Sunday New York Times. I also spend a fair bit of time talking, primarily to my students, but also to my husband, daughter. I don’t think I spend enough time talking to my friends. Or my sons.

I’ll have to do something about that.

Meanwhile, if you have a pinterest account and are willing to share it, please post it in the comments.

You can find my board at http://pinterest.com/sheriji/pins/

 

 

 

 

05
Oct
11

do you hear that giant sucking sound?

The latest reports show that Rick Perry raised $10 million in the last 3 months. Mitt Romney, $18 million, Obama $86 million in the 3 months before that.

I can’t help but think what a tremendous waste of resources this is. You might as well just flush it down the toilet. It’s money spent on “public service” ads: ads that don’t really say anything about people who change what they think or mean or say they’ll do depending on which way the wind is blowing.

Meanwhile, 12,000 Michigan families will lose their jobless benefits in 2 weeks, more than half of our state police posts are closing, and Europe’s about to implode under the combined weight of Greece, Italy, and Ireland.

Wonder how many people $114 million would feed.

This system makes me sick. Nobody’s listening to the voices of the people, nobody’s looking out for the country or the world or any of us. They’re spending money so they can win, so they can protect the interests of the people who helped them get elected.

I jut heard that Steve Jobs died today.

Now I’m too sad to think.

“Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.”

Sigh.

03
Oct
11

“privacy” in the age of email

Has this ever happened to you? You’ve written a casual email to a colleague who either knows you really well or is either equal to you in “rank” or only slightly above. This email then gets sent on to the “boss,” sometimes very deliberately, sometimes quite casually, say, as a way to clue them in to the discussion thread without having to take the time to write it up from scratch.

BUT, the way you worded the email to the colleague/barely superior is not at all the way you would have worded the same thing to the person now reading your exact words.

Example: our college has instituted a flagging policy, where instructors are encouraged to go to the online class rosters for each of their classes and “flag” any students who seem to be falling behind — poor attendance, poor performance on assessments, etc. so that the counseling center can contact them and try to “help” them. When this request first came through, I read the message that included the suggestion that we were being encouraged to do so, (therefore, it seemed to be implying that it was not required,) and, because I communicate these concerns directly to the student whenever I feel it is appropriate, I ignored it. A couple of weeks later I got a reminder from the counseling center, at which point I emailed back, saying that I already took care of this directly with students as necessary, and that I thought this practice seemed a little more appropriate to middle school, (I may have used the term “babysitting”) and may also work against our efforts to encourage students to be self-motivated and self-aware. This message was then forwarded to my department head by the person at the counseling center, on a message that was not cc’d to me, at which point I received a message from my department head asking if I needed assistance learning how to use the program.

I was then immediately concerned that I would seem to be a teacher who doesn’t care about her students’ success, which is very much not the case, and I felt I needed to go to great lengths to justify my position — a position I maybe would have expressed a little differently if the conversation had originated with the department chair in the first place, but which now made me sound defensive.

This was only one of several of these types of experiences over the past couple of years, one of which included a forwarding of a message on which I had written “confidentially” right before making a frank observation of a student’s perceived level of commitment.

This practice is troubling, in our age of email, when passing someone’s words on is as easy as a click of a mouse, and maybe deserves a little more time to stop and reflect before doing so.

I’m considering adding a privacy request to the bottom of my emails, much like those used by attorneys and other people who have the right, no, the obligation to expect privilege, although mine would be worded in a more please-and-thank-you sort of way.

Something like this:

This message (and any attachment) has been intended only for the person(s) to which it has been addressed by the sender, and any cc’ing has been done openly. It would be greatly appreciated if you would respect my privacy, and my right to address individuals in an individual way, by not forwarding without my knowledge or permission, and I will do the same for you.

Does this seem savvy, or defensive?

 

 

30
Sep
11

puzzled

Can any of you wordpress bloggers out there explain the left-pointing arrow and little number in the upper right hand corner of the hourly site stats “box” in my menu bar? There’s the WordPress logo, then Just Sayin’, then Follow, and then these lines, each line of which I believe to indicate the relative number of views in any one hour of the past 48. But what’s the number? Or aren’t we supposed to understand?

29
Sep
11

my day

1. What’s up with needing an invitation to Pinterest? Do they actually do some kind of research or something to make sure you’re not some kind of a rabble rouser or derelict? And how can they tell from my email address? I can just hear the conversation: “She uses comcast; probably a Communist.” Or are they going to evaluate my time-management skills to determine if I can enjoy the site without it destroying my ability to meet the obligations of my employment?

You’ll be relieved to know I’ve been accepted, although it calls to mind Mark Twain’s comment about being reluctant to be a member of a club which would have him as a member.

And this must be done on purpose, right? They aren’t actually that stupid?

Oh, just found out that I can’t join Pinterest without linking it to my facebook account. The Plot Thickens.

And no, thanks. Big Brother watches me enough, thank you. (And just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean the world ISN’T out to get you.)

2. Drove an hour to pick up my mom at a meeting place after her last radiation treatment for a brain tumor. Was an hour early because Flaky Me transposed the hour of departure into the hour of arrival. Killed time at a book store that had more gifts than books, but I guess we all do what we have to to survive.

I did seriously consider buying a book of “Good Karma/Bad Karma” checks, but decided that, as entertaining as they were, I probably would never have the nerve to actually use one, although I would have liked to have had something to use on the the gum-chewing, rap-listening teeny-bopper ditz-brain who cut me off (from behind, which is difficult to do) at my last exit. A club might have come in hand. Apparently HER right blinker means she is going into the right lane, but MY right blinker doesn’t. Maybe I should award her a good karma check for her brazen tenacity in getting to that red light one car before me.

Anyway, I bought two promising novels off the remaindered table, for $5.99 apiece. It’s the end of the world as we know it; the fall of the Roman Empire. Combine that with the prospect of Rick Perry as president and I need to either kill myself or move to Canada.

He needs one of those Tshirts

Mom reports that doctor is encouraging re: her desire to donate her body to science, as her prognosis has exceeded the usual prognosis for this type of cancer by about 4 years. Her response is that prayer has made all the difference. Does that mean that the people who died within the first year of their diagnosis weren’t prayed for? Or God didn’t love them? Or the people didn’t pray hard enough? Or God had “some other message,” which, in His infinite wisdom Has Not Yet Been Revealed?

I was a good daughter, and only mentioned the possibility that other people may have been prayed for, too, and then changed the subject to, well, something, I don’t remember. Now I know that her faith gives her a lot of comfort and hope etc., etc., but I just can’t reconcile the whole idea of God healing some people because of prayer and not others. It just doesn’t seem fair to me, and if there is a God, it seems like he ought to be, at the very least, fair.

I then drove 2 hours to meet a friend of hers, who was picking her up to deliver her home. I felt like it was a relay, and she was the baton.

All went well, and only a little behind schedule, and then

3. Waiting for Only Daughter’s choir to finish rehearsing, and this huge storm blows in. Hail, and gale-force winds, and heavy rain and all of the kids are Ooooohing and Aaaaahing and the director is pointing out that there’s no lightning (flash, boom) and no tornado sirens (Weather.com: Severe Thunderstorm Warning) etc. etc. to try to calm everyone down. Six minutes later it’s over.

I get home, and the power’s off.

4. Ate antelope stew from the slow cooker (I know, right?) and then washed the dishes with water from the dehumidifier. Prairie women got nothin’ on me.

5. Listening to NPR on the way home from O.D.’s choir. How cynical are we, that we report, with great aplomb, that the United States Government has seen fit to fund its activities for the next four days.

Sheesh.

The power’s off until just now — 10 p.m.; 3 hours later.

This is typical for our neighborhood.

Only Daughter wonders if maybe we should move.

Now I need to go down and see if I can light the pilot on the water heater without setting my hair on fire. Like I did last time. And no, I wasn’t drunk at the time. They’re long, wussy, matches.

08
Sep
11

call me perpetually perplexed, just don’t call me late for dinner

#Can someone explain Twitter to me?

That’s all.

Just curious.

It seems to be something a lot of people do, and I just don’t get it.

 

10
Aug
11

is it any wonder?

We’re waiting, anxiously, for Husband’s brother and sister-in-law and two-adorable-nieces to arrive from Vancouver Island, B.C. for an extended visit.

They are flying from Seattle to Denver, and then from Denver to Grand Rapids.

Of course, since we are planning on picking them up at the airport, we started tracking their flights mid-afternoon.

Here is a list of all of the Denver — Grand Rapids flights listed for today:

This is what the airline has shown since 2 p.m. today regarding the last leg of their flight:

Meanwhile, the airport shows:

We were debating whether we should call the airline, or the airport, to try to resolve the discrepancy, when we noticed an email message from Husband’s Brother, saying that their flight had been delayed, and that he trusted we knew this, as we had probably been tracking his flight, FLIGHT # 2353.

This was a little odd, as when the Frontier airlines website was searched for flights from Denver to Grand Rapids, there was a flight, #256, listed, as you can see above, departing and arriving at exactly the same scheduled times, and declared to be cancelled, and no flight given the number 2353.

And yet here it is:

And I’m just curious. Is it possible that this type of flight tracking and/or communication with their customers might have something to do with why Frontier Airline has recently been rescued from bankruptcy after a long and difficult financial position, basically since they opened in 1994? I picture some genius, who managed to finish his first semester of sophomore year in airline management, deciding that, rather than noting that flight numbers had been changed, it would make more sense to list the previously-numbered flight as cancelled.

Brilliant.

15
May
11

what I’m doing when i’m not writing on my blog

Played through my upcoming Italy program for a couple friends today and tried out my new Sony PCM-D50 digital recorder. (Love it!!!)  Here are a few tracks from the live performance. My piano hasn’t been tuned in a while — have to wait for the weather to settle down a bit, so hope it’s not too painful for those of you with discerning ears.

Hope you enjoy!

01 Excursion No. 1

07 Variations in F Minor, Hob. XVII_6

08 2. Orientale

13
Mar
11

do you want him or not?

Second Son is going to Michigan State University next year. That is, if we manage to complete the post-admission process successfully. This no longer seems to be the simple task I once thought it would be. I mean, I’ve managed to raise him for 17 years (ADHD, sensory integration disorder, booming voice, sophomoric sense of humor) without strangling him in his sleep; he gets good grades, scored respectably on his ACT test, has been accepted at the three colleges of his choice, and, as far as I can tell, has abstained from illegal drug use and has yet to impregnate anyone. One would think that now would be the time that I could pat myself on the back and complete a few easy online forms to send him on his way (off you go!). Unfortunately, this has proven to be one of the more formidable tasks to date.

What I want to do is call and ask the admissions department: “Do you want him, or not?”

The letter came months ago. We rejoiced, (some more than others). We finally manage to find an opportunity for the two of us to sit down together to complete the admission process. (We also finally find time to decline the other two schools, who call almost daily. Interestingly, we have not heard a word from MSU. Guess they have more students than they need, and supreme confidence in their desirability. Good thing their interest in him is not one of his/our most important considerations.)

The first thing that needs to be done is he must enter his Personal Identification Number (PIN) and Password Authorization Number (PAN) and the system will create an email address for him. We must then register the email address to continue to the next steps — pay the registration deposit, register for the academic orientation program, request a housing request form (seriously). He (certainly not me) takes the online mathematics placement exam; I fill out the immunization form.

The problems begin early in the process. MSU has already created the PIN and the PAN, but we have to wait 24 hours after creating an email address before we can proceed. Fine. It’s not that difficult to corral a 17-year old with a job and involvement in the school’s theater program while I’m working ~ 60 hours a week.

Today, finally, we sign back in and register him for orientation and request a housing request form (seriously). I begin to feel pretty confident that we are now on the official “home stretch,” then click on the link to have a look at the immunization form, so I can find out what information I need to get from the pediatrician’s office.

I get an error message, bright red block print: I must wait 24 hours after paying the deposit before I can continue further.

Seriously?

This is a problem?

Imagine this: couple, sitting around, discussing whether they want to read the Sunday paper, “go to bed early,” or watch one of their latest Netflix deliveries, and one suggests: “I know! We’re bored, with nothing better to do, let’s log in to random university websites and FILL OUT IMMUNIZATION FORMS!!!!!!!!!”

Are you wordIcan’tsay kidding me?

Isn’t modern technology supposed to be making these kinds of processes easier?

Good thing we’re so darn motivated (some more than others).

27
Feb
11

is it worth it?

From “Meet Dr. Freud,” New Yorker, January 10, 2011:

In recent months, there have been signs that the pressure [in China] is greater than anyone imagined. Last January, a nineteen-year-old named Ma Xiangqian jumped from the roof of his factory dorm at Foxconn Technology, where he had worked seven nights a week, eleven hours at a stretch, making electronic parts, before being demoted to cleaning toilets. In the months after Ma’s death, ten other workers committed suicide at Foxconn factories, which make iPhones and other products.”

Seven nights a week?

Eleven hours in a row?

Apparently this isn’t that unusual in Chinese manufacturing.

A paragraph later:

Foxconn wasn’t ‘any different from any of the other big companies who are doing the same thing’. . .Beyond the drudgery of the assembly line, workers in their teens, or barely out of them, were struggling to live far from home, save money, meet spouses, and educate themselves in their time off, all under the eye of a state with no organized outlet for complaint.”

Meanwhile, our (American) children underperform in high schools and colleges, delay getting married and having families, and take on student loans they not only have no idea how they are going to pay off, but don’t really care.

This, my friends, is why they’re “eating our lunch.”

p.s. I still want an iPhone, but now would feel guilty about buying one. As if I need another reason to feel guilty. But look how pretty it is.

22
Dec
10

don’t use that tone with me young man!

Apparently there’s a new feature available for certain email software programs called ToneCheck. This works much like spell-check, except rather than correcting your misspelling of “recommend” and overlooking the fact that you wrote “you’re” when you meant to write “your,” ToneCheck highlights content which exceeds some kind of preset filter for negative (or exceedingly positive) emotions such as anger, sadness, resentment, elation, etc.

ToneCheck was released as a plug-in with Microsoft Outlook in July, and will “allow for personal variations in tone, gauge a sentence’s level of emotional ambiguity and offer suggestions for revision.” Click here if you want to see it in action.

I can’t decide if this is really terrific, or laughingly absurd. We’ve all sent an email we’ve almost immediately wished we could unsend (the only thing I miss about AOL), we’ve all cringed at our own words when they come back to us at the bottom of a reply, many of us have probably adopted the if-I-write-it-when-I’m-upsetangrybitterlydisappointedresentfulstarkravingmad-I’ll-wait-for-24-hours-before-sending-it policy. But can we really expect a software program to be able to recognize the subtleties and intricacies of adult communication?

I guess the assistance of an objective “third party” giving us a virtual nudge and asking “are you sure you want to say it that way?” wouldn’t be a bad thing. I could always choose to ignore it. Maybe someone should develop a real-life version, something along the size of a digital recorder, which we can speak into for feedback before saying what we REALLY think at the next office meeting.

12
Nov
10

functional illiteracy

A recent email exchange with a (college) student:

im emailing u because i need a grade from you on my progress report tomorrow or else i cant play sat if you could do that i would gladly appreciate it….also while i was looking at my grades on blackboard i saw a E for the folk and religious music quiz…i was wondering did i miss that day or did i just not get any points on the quiz

Your current grade is a D+.
Your grade for the quiz was 13 out of 24 (this information was included on the grade center site he was consulting).

what the quiz points added in with the total?

I don’t know what you’re asking me.

im asking was those 13 points included in with the total points because it had an E for the grade i was just wondering

*******

This is a native-born American student who has apparently graduated from an American high school.  He/she is functionally illiterate, and seems to be either unable to interpret the information on a simple spreadsheet or unaware that 13 points out of 24 is not sufficient to pass.

How can MFA not realize that we are ALL going to pay the price when our children grow up to be adults who can’t read, speak, or write?

Statistics compiled by the National Center for Education Statistics have found that the U.S. seems to be spending about the same amount of money per student as other developed countries, and that students are staying in school for as long on average.

But we’re not measuring up.

According to the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study 4th graders in the United States tested behind Hong Kong, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Japan, Kazakstan, the Russian Federation, England, Latvia, the Netherlands, and Lithuania in mathematics achievement, and behind Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Japan, Russian Federation, Latvia, and England in science achievement. Perhaps even more disturbing is that the achievement of students in science has declined in the US over the past 12 years, while it has improved, sometimes dramatically, in every other country ahead of us except Japan. Adults who can’t read or write at a proficient level cost the country hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost productivity and unemployment benefits.

Those of  you who have been following my blog know I’ve ranted about this before, just click here to read the archives. I believe these discussions already include mention of the disturbing trend among 21st-century students where learning is seen as a passive endeavour — they show up, sit there, what else do they need to do? Not to mention their inability to function in face-to-face situations, their lack of respect for authority, and their dependence on technology to the point of obsession (facebook, texting — to the point where whole papers are written in textspeak — no commas, no apostrophes, no capitalizations).

Sigh.

I’m including this in the “Who Cares?” category, because I would like to know if anybody does. I doubt it’s just me. But what can we do?

11
Oct
10

human memory and the environment

Heard on NPR today: a woman talking about really wanting to know what it would be like to drive this car. “Where will I plug it in? When will I plug it in? Will I remember to plug it in?”

I mean really, how dim does one have to be to forget to plug in one’s electric car?

27
Aug
10

Olevia

Have any of you made the mistake of buying one of these TVs? We own two. The one “we” use (meaning the resident adults in the household) takes its own sweet time coming on. There are all kinds of pretty screens, blues and pinks and stripes and kind of chalky cloudy tones, which morph and fade in and out and sometimes become a blinding white light that I trust does not mean I’m about to meet my maker. We actually wondered tonight if we should play a game: we’ll watch another episode of West Wing if we’re still awake when the TV actually comes on.

The one downstairs, for the “children,” seems to be working fine. We’ve considered trading them, when nobody’s home. Then we can watch TV when we want to, and when they come up and complain about theirs we can berate them: “What? You broke the TV? Well, you’ll have to pay for it.”

Probably couldn’t do it with a straight face, though, which means we’d never get away with it.

Guess we’ll probably have to buy a new one, although the joy we feel when it does come on is hard to replicate in day-to-day living. Plus I don’t want to spend money on a TV; I want to buy clothes on sale at Garnet Hill and those slouchy black suede boots at Macy’s.

Alas.

25
Aug
10

Acquired ADD

Even if our children are not born with it, chances are that all of the available distractions provided for them through technology will create it.

My son was watching Romeo and Juliet the other night while texting with his friends. He stays up until 4 a.m. — when I noticed this the other night I went downstairs to see why his light was still on — on the way past I noticed that the computer in the kitchen was open to facebook, downstairs the TV had a video game paused, and he was sitting on his bed playing his guitar and texting a friend. No matter what they say about teenagers and their unusual biorhythms, this can’t be helping. When we were teenagers we stayed up late, but not that late — there wasn’t anything to do. What happens to the body’s need for sleep, to digest and order and process the information taken in during the day?

Meanwhile, even for the rest of us living and sleeping in a more conventional pattern, what used to be called “down” time is now time you’re expected to use keeping up with every email and phone call and text that comes in. What happens to opportunities to think? process? imagine?

This can’t be a good thing.




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