2
Sep 12

Change is slow...

...unless it is caused by an earthquake. Four years ago my country embraced the idea that we were going to have change. The majority of us voted for change not knowing exactly what that would look like, but we wanted there to be change. We wanted our troops to be doing something other than fighting in countries where we can't pronounce the names of the cities and really have no desire to visit. There were, and unfortunately still are, so many things wrong with our country. With hope, the majority of those who chose to vote chose Barak Obama to be the country's leader. Perhaps this was because the person who was our supposed leader for eight years did a fantastic job of messing up our country. Who I voted for in the last election is not the point of this particular post because one of the great things about voting is that nobody has to know who I voted for. My students assumed I voted for the white person and my family assumed I voted for the non-white person. I know the truth, though.

I had hope that the US might recover from the mess it was in, but the mess was too deep for a mere 4 years to find a remedy and employ it. We had spent way more than 4 years to create the mess so why do people think that a mere year or two could have fixed our problems? All of the blame does not go to the President either. Our Congress has enacted so many messed up laws that it is no wonder our economy is a disaster. "We" allowed the majority of our commerce and production to go overseas. Whereas it used to be chic to buy imports and clothes made outside of the US, now it is depressing that the only clothes I can buy are imports because they were made in a South East Asian country.

Americans, if we weren't before, have certainly become a country of entitlement. Not all of us have earned this entitlement, but all of us feel we deserve it for some reason. People who lost jobs because we elected others to say it was OK to move all of our manufacturing overseas feel entitled to get money from the government because we no longer have those jobs. Power went to the people who already had money and those with the money figured out ways to maintain their income while not caring for those who used to work so that the US could have a tax base and recycle the dollars that were in our country. Money has gone in one direction, away from those of us who believed that if we played by the rules and chose a path commensurate to our birth status, we would be able to work at a job we enjoyed. Those who pushed themselves to do more would be rewarded with more and those who were lazy would become homeless and be at the mercy of those who wanted to care for the less fortunate.

Manufacturing jobs went overseas. This happened slowly enough that most of us did not notice. Explaining the causes for it takes more than 140 characters and the attention span for many of us does not last longer than a commercial break. Then we started losing other jobs that relied on there being an economy that kept US dollars in the US. These people went from plush jobs with good incomes to collecting unemployment. I never did figure out how to collect unemployment, but I know I've been paying into it the entire time I've had a job.

I've been mostly unemployed for the last 2 years and it really stinks. I have two college degrees, neither of which were easy or in very popular majors. I have always worked myself to exhaustion and now I can't figure out how to become employed. I want to teach online, but that is also becoming a casualty of the changes that were put in place under the Bush administration. I think they expected change to happen faster than it did because the US education system is not completely privatized yet, although it is certainly on its way. This change happens slowly and out of the perspective of most people so we are not aware of how school systems are becoming standardized and artistic and creative teachers are becoming less frequent. I am a teacher so I am aware of what I speak.

I am passionate about teaching because I love the creativity involved with finding ways to make science comprehensible to students. I enjoy developing lessons, seeing how to carry them out with kids, and have joy when I can see they understand something because of the way I let them play with the information. Now that I am disabled, the paradigm for being a teacher has changed. For me to be able to continue to do this with kids, I would have to be able to be awake relatively early every day for five days a week. My body can't handle that so I am excluded from teaching in a normal classroom. My intellectual brain still works so I could teach kids via a computer interface. This is what I am trying to do.

Finding a job with a virtual teaching company is very much based on who knows whom. I've been trying for almost two years to break into this system but I think I know too much and that is why it is excluding me. Yeah, I know it sounds like a conspiracy theory type of thing, but really, what they want for teachers online are the lazy ones who do not want to think for themselves. The curriculum is standardized. As an online teacher, I would not see my kids daily so I can't evaluate how things are on one day and make adjustments for the next day like I used to when I was in the classroom. I used to do formative assessment continuously so I could figure out what to change for the next day's lessons. That does not happen in the online world of k-12 education. Nope, the focus has shifted from the teacher being responsible for determining what students will learn to "flexibility" that lets students learn at their supposed own pace and on their own time schedule. In many ways this is brilliant, whereas in others it is going to create possibly even more problems. Change is slow. Changing the education system of the US is happening slowly and I fear that it is going to accelerate as we seek the quick fix for what has taken years to make a mess.

This entry is now >1000 words so I will pause. If I set this up well, then just about each paragraph here can lead to another blog entry. I have so much on my mind that I want to share with the world that I will either do it here or I may find a way to create a self-published book. Our education system is headed toward a revolution that will either make our country stronger because more responsibility is given to students or it will make us even more ignorant as we mechanically process students through a generic curriculum assessed by multiple choice questions.

26
Aug 12

You can have an Android device without having to have a phone number attached

Ok, I am in a Masters of Educational Technology program which to me means I should have a clue about the latest and greatest in technology gadgets, websites, or anything technology related that can be used for education. Nope, I was wrong. Now for the last two years I've been taking classes online. I've taken over twenty classes from at least five different colleges, universities, or companies. I'd like to think I'm pretty well versed in the online learning community. I'm certainly trying to get hired as a virtual high school chemistry teacher, so we'll have to see if I can convince others that I am a competent online teacher.

What does this have to do with Android mobile devices? I attended the 3DTeacherCamp this summer and loved every minute of it. I learned more about QR codes than you could ever imagine. I'll have to post some of my QR impressions in another post. I also learned how to make Android apps- OH! I can upload my QR codes for the apps I made. How cool will that be?!? Anyway, I did not own an Android device when we started summer camp. After making a few apps, I wanted a device so I could really try them out. The emulator on the screen is nice, but it won't vibrate. I suppose that is a good thing. Having my laptop vibrate is not exactly something I want it to do on command. My professor was really kind and did not laugh in my face when I asked him about Android devices. You see, I thought I was going to have to get yet another cell phone phone number and line just so I could use an Android device.

I learned, thanks to my kind professor, I can buy an Android device as a stand-alone object that will connect to the Internet via wifi. How cool is that? Of course it cost more than I would like to have paid, but I can now play my apps on it and some really cool games. Since it is not an iOS device, though, I am worried about viruses and other evil things that can attack my electronic stuff. So far thing are fine because I have not downloaded that much stuff. For now it is a toy I use to pass the time, and to marvel in what my fellow students and I created this summer. So if you do not want to pay the price of the iOS line of devices and you still want to play with apps, you don't have to put out more than $150 for a new app playing device.  We'll see if the prices change now that Apple won the battle over rectangles with rounded corners, but for now things are good.

Want to see the highly complex apps I made?  (joke- these are about as simple as you can get!)

 If you have an Android device, you can click on the QR code with a QR code reader and it will take you to the url location so you can download the app.

QR image for the Whack a Mole app

This app is hysterical- you have to tap on the mole before it jumps again. Having slow reflexes like mine makes this just a ball of laughter.

qr code image for Hello Purr app

This is the simplest way to make an app. It is the classic Hello World program, but in the world of apps, it is Hello Purr.

This gallery includes apps I made that were not merely step by step following the MIT curriculum. These were created in part due to the generosity others have with putting their code and block images online for newbies like me to use.

 Apparently Word Press (I think that is the software I'm using) lets me create a gallery. So some of the images are here twice. I did not want to erase the singletons that I managed to post before the gallery popped up as an option. Ah, learning curves. This is a prime example of me being oblivious to what others may see as obvious. Of course WordPress has a gallery option. I should have naturally gone there first to put the images here.

26
Aug 12

End of summer 2012

It has been a long time since I've written anything here, but I have not forgotten about my blog. In fact, I was reminded usually at least once a day that I had a blog to monitor thanks to all of those entrepreneurial folks out there. I did not, and still don't, want this to turn into a cesspool of random plugs for you to be taken advantage of by clever people who want to use my good name and reputation to make you think I may be endorsing their products. I now have a reCaptcha and hopefully that will cut down on the amount of supposedly interested people's posts I need to delete.

Now that I have overcome the spam barrier which turned me off to going to my own blogsite, perhaps I can get back to writing about things that I notice I'm either oblivious to or other people are oblivious to while others think it is obvious. I may have to search some of the emails I've sent to friends elaborating on something I did or saw that should have also come here and become a post.

Enjoy reading!

7
Feb 12

Slow on the Uptake

The companion website to this one would be SlowontheUptake.something. I do not feel like having more websites happening than I need to take care of easily, so I'll stick with this blog for now. I am building websites in my classes and I'm taking a class on how to administer Moodle classes, so for online things, I have plenty to keep me busy. I may have to turn this post into a page. It depends on how often I smack myself up the head for not only being oblivious, but being really slow to realize how oblivious I am. I think I should just stop interacting in my classroom discussions because people must think I'm a complete idiot. I'm not, but for some reason the assignments I've been given in many of my current online courses are so confusing that I don't realize I should be confused. One is due in about 55 minutes and I am still wondering if I did it correctly or if I flubbed it up for others. When I have a clue I am incredibly competent. I should not mention it here, but it is no wonder I am unemployed.

Then again, my Florida credential just arrived today- the one that will let me teach chemistry in Florida. That was a journey I'll have to write about at some point. Let's just say I had the biology credential about a year ago and even though I submitted the paperwork for the chemistry credential over a year ago, they only granted me the bio credential. I resubmitted the same chemistry paperwork about a month ago. For whatever reason, they now see that I am competent to teach chemistry. I should hope so-I did it for 8 years and am trying to find ways of incorporating teaching chemistry into my EDTECH assignments. Speaking of which, I should stop procrastinating by whining on this website and focus on my next EDTECH project.

One last thing I don't understand why did they pre-date my credential to starting in 2010? It is a 5 year credential and will expire in 2015 even though I only received the document today. I used my National Board status to help get the chemistry credential and my credential is actually dated for a date before I knew I passed the National Boards. How magical is that?

3
Feb 12

National Science Standards

There are new National Science Standards.

 

26
Jan 12

refrigerators can burn out circuit breakers

My husband informed me this morning when he got up that our refrigerator died. That really sucks. When I get up later, I go to the fridge and am happy the contents are still cold. It only very recently died and since we don't use heat in the home, there is not a lot of exterior heat to try to convince the fridge to get warm. Our place is pretty much the same temp as it is outside which is about 60 deg lately.

I go to warm breakfast in the toaster oven. Um, the toaster oven is also dead. Something is going on here and it seems to be beyond the scope of the fridge. I call our electrician, Louis. If you know me personally and live near us, call me and I'll tell you who I use. He is amazing.

Louis suggests I plug-in the fridge to another outlet to see if perhaps the outlet is bad. I put the fridge on a power strip and plug it into another outlet. The fridge kicks back on. What a relief! Feeling ambitious, I plug-in the toaster and turn it on to warm breakfast. (remember what this blog site is about, yes?) Not only does the fridge die again by shutting off the breaker to that outlet, but it fries the power strip.

So I get out the orange style of extension cords, the kind for heavy-duty equipment, and plug-in to yet another outlet. This one is across the kitchen. Since only one thing can plug into it, I only plug in the refrigerator this time. Nothing sizzles. That breaker does not blow.

I call Louis again and give him the update. He says he can come out this afternoon and indeed he does. After some more experimentation, he determines that we fried the circuit breaker. Given that our home is 20 - 30 years old, I suppose that is to be expected.Louis replaces the circuit breaker and plugs the fridge back in. He warns me that it is highly likely the fridge will not make it through the night. We are hoping that it does so that we can buy a new refrigerator tomorrow.

I think our 13+ year old fridge has met its demise. I only know it is at least 13 years old because that is how long I've used it. I've lived here for 13 years.

The toaster oven is still not plugged in anywhere. I also ate cold pizza tonight because I'm afraid to use any electric in the kitchen. We don't need any more breakers to blow.

26
Jan 12

Prius keys have batteries

I thought the way to keep a Prius key active is by sticking it in the "key" slot on the dashboard. After I went to the dealership and asked them if they have a super-charger I can use, they very calmly and respectfully told me that Prius keys have batteries. I want to thank my local Toyota people for not laughing hysterically in my face. Given my naivite, it would not surprise me if they chuckled quite a bit after I left.

10
Jan 12

You need to be able to drive to sell Avon

OK, so I have not worn make-up for like the last 15 years, but I remember my childhood Avon experiences and they were great. Avon has been marketing that they are hiring quite a bit the last couple weeks. Since I feel like I've lost my career, I am continuously searching the job postings to see if there is one I might fit into. Selling Avon from home seemed possible. Unfortunately I live someplace where there is no solicitation allowed, but I thought I might find a creative way of "accidentally" leaving brochures around. Or perhaps I could use this blog or my other websites to promote my "business". I thought I'd be a go between for people who wanted to try Avon products.

I think the work from home part is that I was oblivious to. It means you have an office at home that includes a place to handle inventory because I am the person who leaves my home to deliver what others have bought. Well, if I could be the sales person for the three condo complexes where I live, that would be great! I don't know how to break into a no-soliciting environment, though. Sure if we were social here and knew each other it would be easy. Then again, I was on the Board of Directors for 9 years and there are still people who have lived here longer than I have who I have never met. I tried to set up a disaster prep program here- alas, another post I'll have to do when I am in a ranting stage.

So for those of you who want to sell Avon, you should definitely check it out. I anticipate that the pay would be excellent. Keep in mind, though, that they don't use postal services to deliver the merchandise. The salesperson delivers the goods in person. You don't have to be able-bodied- if you can get from your home to their location you're fine. The getting to another location is my barrier. If I could deliver via public transit, I'd be good. If you are reading my blog wondering if you should hire me because I can't always know when I'll be able to drive, if I can get to you on public transit then I can get to you. The rules of where I live don't stop me from getting to prospective employers, they just inhibit me from approaching my neighbors to ask them if they want to buy some really nifty body products from me.

10
Jan 12

jackhammering

I wish I was oblivious to the jackhammering they are doing at the moment right outside of my unit. I live on a street that is currently being reconstructed to handle bike riders and traffic.  A couple of weeks ago they put in beautifully handicap ramps at all the corners. I used them just two days ago to walk up to the local Trader Joe's. I do not know why they are now redoing them. I bet some able-bodied person complained they are too easy for those of us with disabilities to use. We'll be able to actually leave our homes and mingle with those whose bodies work the way nature intended. Yeah, I bet it is a conspiracy against those of us who benefit from ramps and low inclines. They saw that I was finally able to get out of the house and could get to the local strip mall. I probably made them wait at the corners when I properly used the crosswalks. They could not make their left or right turn into the crosswalk because I was there. So if they block me from being able to get to the crosswalk, I suppose I'll just stay at home and watch life from the window. Hmm...watching jack hammering.  I'd rather watch it than hear it. My at home job starts in less than a couple of hours and requires me to hear my students. Well, if I could relocate to avoid the jackhammering, I would, but that would require a couple of things... a good Internet connection, which I don't have because I bought a mifi with Virgin and they revoked my access earlier than I expected them to- that rant will have to be saved for another time. Even if my mifi was working, it would not be strong enough to handle the bandwidth required for my job. To relocate I'd also have to be able to get someplace else. I'm not driving today because I need to have more herbs and sleep to be up for a drive. I'm driving tomorrow and Thursday so I'm going to reserve my driving karma for then. I could walk someplace else, but wait! No I can't!  duh.... they're chopping up the handicap accessible ramps at the corners so I'd have to walk in the street like the people with baby strollers are doing at the moment. OH! Maybe the able-bodied are not anti-disability at all, they are anti-baby stroller. Yes, that must be it. They don't want the caretakers of tiny humans to be let out because they don't want to deal with all that comes along with those small beings like crying, screaming, slow walking, or stinky odors, not to mention the all too cute cooing, smiles, babbling, and nifty toys and pretty clothes.

7
Jan 12

Hoodwinked by Domain.com

I have about a half a dozen domain names up for renewal so I went hunting for an affordable place to let them sit until I turn them into websites, blogs, or other online entity. I did not realize I had to remove private registration before initiating a transfer so I get the authorization code, and of course unlocked the domains, and gave the info to Domain.com along with the appropriate money to register the domain for several years. Since the registrations were still "private" they did not go through at first. Well, I released them from being private, but domain.com needs to re-initiate the transfer. I tried to email domain.com to tell them this, but you can't email them directly from their website. They only give a non-toll-free phone number that apparently is not accessed on weekends. Since it is Saturday, I will have to wait a couple more days to see if my domains magically transfer before they expire at my other hosting company. I'll come back to let you know how this transpires. Perhaps the power of the web will help me with this transaction.