Monday, June 7, 2010

The one thing...

So... as my lackadaisical blog posting has allowed for many months to go by without a post, I thought that I might shoot something out there that may be somewhat intriguing, at least in the long run.

I've recently (again) jumped into that place where I attempt to educate my parents in the joys of learning new and interesting languages. We've started with French. When the subject comes up, I am easily floundered by their lack of understanding of what language learning is. However...

At the last dinner table discussion, I found myself uniquely interested in their diametric relationship with language learning. That is to say that they both want to speak more languages and want to express themselves with the same ease that they do in their native language. While I know this is possible, I also know that this is the final step in a journey.

I decided, at the end of a series of emails about core verbs and other drivel, to give them my core principal with regard to language learning. It is the same speil that I give most of my 8th graders, just so they know where I'm coming from. I thought that I might share it with the rest of you.

Without further ado:
There is one last driving principal that I'd like to share with you. Language, as with most other disciplines, is governed by a spectrum. That spectrum for language is one that runs from a complete lack of interpersonal understanding to a total and complete interpersonal understanding. Neither one of these finite points typically occurs. Even without the spoken word, we communicate with one another through a myriad of gestures, facial expressions, and even particulates we eminate from our bodies. Conversely, we have not achieved any discernable level of telepathy, therefore, even with lingual interlocution, we never "see" the ideas and images that are being transmitted to us through spoken/written language.

So, your goal should be to MAXIMIZE what you communicate through whatever tools you have at hand. As you force yourself to rely on the unfamiliar phonologies and grammatical structures, your ability to use those tools will become more and more adept.

In other words: the first rule of French club is TRY.

The second rule is you don't talk about French club, but that is another lesson.


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Rantette #2: Props and Wardrobe Shenanigans

It looks like some of my students raided my props/wardrobe cabinet during their last project work day...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Rantette #1: Ode to Droid

I recently procured a Motorola Droid and I must say that I am enamoured with it.  I upgraded from a Blackberry, which I also loved, but the Droid can do nearly anything I want it to do.  The things that it can't do seem to be getting fewer and fewer as the app store (actually called "Android Market" I believe) grows.  As a matter of fact, I'm blogging from it right now.

The stories I've heard about the clunky keyboard are true, but you get used to it.  Furthermore, my stubby little fingers aren't huge fans of software keyboards.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Random Rant #1-ish: Presidents and Command Line Fun

As did many, I had President's day off. Naturally, I took the previous evening to enjoy a few beverages and a whole lot of potatoes with my dear friends Keegan and Kelly and our fine circle of friends. Apparently, February is potato lover's month and thus, they had a potato-themed pot-luck dinner. Yes, they accepted Yams and Vodka as well as your more traditional potato dishes.

Later in the evening, our friend Darren reminded me that I wanted to get up to see an exhibit at Allegheny College's art gallery called: "In Between: (re)Negotiating Ethnicity, Gender and Sexuality". I thought to myself that, since I had the day off, that I would head to the gallery on my way to repair the catastrophic failure my father had incurred upon our shared business computer. But, more about that later.

Below are a few images of pieces from the gallery:

I'd stayed up pretty late chatting with Keegan, so I decided to sleep in the next day and take my time getting "to it" as it were. I didn't actually head out to start crossing things off of my to-do list (no, I'm not the sort to have a to-do list, so this is completely metaphorical and I'm actually stretching the term to its absolute limit) until the early afternoon. So, I decided to hit the gallery first. Darren (the aforementioned friend) is an assistant professor at Allegheny College and the gallery curator. So, I stopped in to see him first. The gallery was actually closed for the holiday, but they hooked me up with my very own private viewing. It's good to have friends in the right places.

As a matter of course, each artist's work spoke from its own unique perspective and I will not describe each in detail. Rather, I would just like to briefly describe what the experience was to me: As I perused the work, I read the interviews of the artists to put each piece in context. As I allowed the words and expressions to pass over me, I began to relate many of my own life experiences to the perspectives that were presented before me. One of the ideas that seemed to resonate with me is that sexuality is much better expressed on a spectrum, or even a plane, than with the categories that we, as a society, have traditionally used to categorize people. I then realized that even though I had determined that my sexuality, by comparison, was much more traditional in nature, I had intentionally questioned myself at an early age (maybe 15 or 16) to determine what that meant. I did not immediately tell myself that "I like girls, so I'm normal" and leave it at that. I spent a great deal of my adolescence finding a place that I was comfortable with and that I enjoyed. In doing so, I was able to meet people with honesty, as I was being completely honest with myself. Also, there was a stirring of old emotions as I connected experiences of the artists to experiences of friends and loved ones that I'd either been a part of directly or I'd experienced through discussions.

After spending a good deal of time in the gallery, interacting with the expressions that surrounded me, I met back up with Darren and we had a chance to discuss the show. I just wanted to take a quick moment and thank him for taking some time to share perspectives.

As it turned out, that was going to be the most relaxing part of my day.

Keegan had upgraded the RAM in his aging laptop. An operation of which he was quite proud. However, shortly after turning his aging computer into a powerhouse, he dropped it. From what I could tell, he had damaged the hard drive and was slowly losing access to more and more data. I told him I would help him save as much of it as I could. So, from the gallery to Keegan and Kelly's house I went.

This was the simplest part of my IT day. Really, there were just some files that were inaccessible because their place on the disk had been damaged. I easily pulled all of the important household documentation, then I started trying to pull their photos. I initially tried to pull whole folders of .jpegs, but as each file transfer hit a bad file, the whole operation would collapse. So, I started pulling small chunks of data, restarting when a file failed. Though tedious, this was not difficult. We saved most of the important stuff, so we'll call this "mission accomplis".

I then moved on to what would become the most challenging portion of the day. I headed to Tom and Connie's (Mom and Dad) to finish the work I had started two days earlier.

The back story is that Tom had done "something" (he was never very clear about what he was trying to do) and basically destroyed the hard drive on the business computer. He had purchased a shiny, new 500GB hard drive and it was left to me to do the rest. He wanted to get Windows XP pro back on there as the operating system, but XP pro, without service packs can't read more than 132GB of any hard drive. So, I had to get creative.

I spent several hours reading guides and stumbled upon the term "slipstreaming". As it turns out, this is an operation that allows you to combine an old version of windows with subsequent service packs. This involves getting into the command line of windows and extracting, then combining all the files. What I was working with looked something like this:

Scary stuff as I haven't used a command line extensively since the early 90's and my days with UNIX shells. Fortunately, the guides I was using were pretty clear. It did take quite a while, though. And I had a stack of windows and downloads a mile high in order to do it.

I'll finish with just a couple pics of my desktop from that long, long night.

I just realized that all of that could have been a couple of different posts... I think that that's why I call these rants. Until next time, kiddos.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Schooly Food

Today, my French I students completed what arguably is the most "fun" project they do all year. This year, I have more students in first year than I've ever had and fortunately, we had a great turnout.

I think everyone really enjoyed themselves.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Senior Projects 2010

Wednesday, this week past, was senior project night at the school where I teach French. Each year I am assigned seniors as advisees. This year, one of my advisees chose to explore DJing as a career. This subject is near and dear to my heart as I've been in the industry for the last 23 years.

My other advisee, after having to ditch her original idea of audio/sound design as a career exploration, acted as the stage manager for a Meadville Community Theater production of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolfe". She also blogged about the experience. We as a district would like to promote this practice as the preferred method of tracking student service hours. Blogging, especially during community service projects, has had the tangential effect of promoting the community institutions with which our students are working.

One of the seniors also used this photo op to hassle me.