The hardest part

January 15, 2016 Leave a comment

My oldest has been in college for a few years, now. This means that in several years he will have to disconnect from our household and start a new life. The base of his living won’t be at our house or  the chances of it are slim. It is during these thoughts I realize how much I will miss him.

For most of our life together, we have done little together. We have sleep, work, and other activities to suction away our time. The moments where we could spend time together are further stolen with activities he wants to do and activities I want or have to do. This leaves the two of us with little time together. The best I can hope for is usually his presence. I get a satisfaction of knowing he is around.

As a parent, we seldom realize the noise a human makes. It is not necessarily the vocal part of noise for there is physical noise and a residual noise. The physical noise is the person being in the house. I know when my son is around because I see him pass by or using some item within the house. This is the physical noise. The residual noise is what the person leaves behind. For my son, these are dishes, laundry, whatever he was playing with, and the open garage door. It drives us up a wall, but when you are without your son, you actually miss it. Wait! Did I say that?

I never understood my parents reaction to my being away, especially when I moved out. They were always encouraging me to come home. My life was full of, well, life. I couldn’t find the effort to always travel the two hours or more to go home. My parents home became a source of boredom, because there was nothing of interest there. My parents were happy to have me in the house, but I didn’t understand. They could continue with life while I struggled to find something to do at the house. It was no longer my home. They were reclaiming what I am now seeing – a loss.

To spend so many years dedicating your life to your offspring is very hard but satisfying. The most difficult part is the separation, more so than the birth of our children. Now throw in homeschooling and it is compounded. We have homeschooled our children for so many years that our lives are happily more intertwined than ever. I was a part of my son’s education. I would trade the frustrations for anything. I just wish I understood them better.

It is hard for me, a person with a cold and emotionless demeanor, to cope with this. Much of what bothers me is kept inside while a rigid human presents a rock of stability. At the death of my father, I never cried but only appeared to be the stable person with the ability to continue one, after all I understand death is normal and will happen to all of us. Still, all of it is difficult.

As I look into the future, I see a change that brings a bittersweet emotion. I will happy for my son’s new life but be saddened for the loss I will encounter. My memories will fade until reminded by his visit. My consolation of understanding what my parents desired and understood does not bring the comfort I seek. Instead, I must soldier on and adjust to life just as my son will do. The best I can have is the comfort of my wife. In the end, half of my life will go away and grow elsewhere. Will I finally weep and such a wonderful but sad loss?

Weekly Planner

January 12, 2016 Leave a comment

I received an email from a homeschooler telling me to get the HeyMama Planner. Besides looking like a phishing scheme, I was intrigued as to what this planner was. After a bit of checking, I did get the free planner. What are my impressions?

For me, I found the planner to be worthless. It isn’t bad, but it doesn’t have the format I want. You can fill information for the day for each month. That is nice, but the layout is not friendly to me; not in a way I would use it. After each month, there is a section for notes. Don’t know why I would use it. There is a “week of” section, but it is too vague for me. I use more detail when instructing. There is even an attendance chart as if I need that. My requirement is 180 days, so attendance is mandatory for us. Another area is the “Monthly Goals” which is the same as the “Semester Goals” and “Yearly Goals”. These consist of multiple items to record. The most worthy part was the “Books Read This Year”.

Table of Content

Now when I say worthless, it is with respect to my needs. I record much of this information but in the format shown and in more detail than can be provided. At 178 pages, I find this planner more work to maintain and find things than my three or four word documents. The format that this is in makes for a bulky section forcing one to page to find what they are looking for, though you could type in the page number and then search. There is some nice information ranging from the thirteen colonies to the branches of the government. Not planner material in my mind.

How do I plan? We have a weekly planner where each day lists what is required of each subject. For example, my son has math every day, so we list what is required for that day such as the lesson being covered that day. There is history, so the reading requirement is listed like reading chapter 6 on Monday, writing a post on civil liberties and civil rights for Tuesday, so on and so forth. Chemistry may have module 6 with stoichiometry on Monday with a limiting reactants lab on Tuesday. Some classes have a blank for the day of the week. Spanish has no class on Wednesday. This list specifies what must be done each day and thus what must be completed by the end of the week. Now there is some play. My son had to read Oliver Twist chapters 43-45 for Monday, 46-48 Tuesday, 49-50 Wednesday, 51-52 Thursday, and 53 for Friday. He has the liberty to postpone the reading until Friday if he wants to. He needs to have this reading completed by Sunday night.

This plan or log complete multiple tasks. It is in a standard format for us to use with our portfolio that we still maintain. Second, it provides a list of what my son has to do for the week. He can make a decision of what he can move around and what can’t be moved. Third, it provides us parents a reminder of what we expect our son to accomplish for the week. Each weekly page lists the subjects and the days of the week. This layout works well with AP courses or college courses, too.

You may ask about booklists. Well, we maintain a simple structure that conforms to the layout of our log, and this is for each class. We are able to introduce each area of study with a booklist specific to the subject.

Since we belong to an accredited homeschool group, my son receives an official transcript which works with colleges. The academic transcript provided in the other planner is not sufficient for us. Each homeschool group is different.

I believe planners need to meet the user’s needs and not the other way around. We originally developed our planner to meet the detail we wanted. Skills learned has no meaning or value to us. The planner layout for us works well but maybe not for others (yes, I should include a copy of what our layout looks like. I don’t have it readily available.) when looking for a planner, determine what you need most and how you want to access it. To me 178 pages is too much to go through.

 

 

Gun Control and Violence

January 5, 2016 Leave a comment

President Obama’s gun control method, whether you agree or not, is a poor attempt at curbing gun violence. The stated goal is a failure from the initial concept and would do well to be retracted. The President fails or doesn’t care to understand the underlying problem, and it isn’t guns. The first problem is the idea of gun violence. Is that the only violence in existence? Is gun violence the most numerous? Is gun violence a problem? The President is playing politics as well as using fear to attain a goal which is NOT to curb gun violence but to reduce guns. I say reduce because elimination of guns is impossible at this point.

If you ask me what I fear most, gun violence is the last on my list or near it. A shark attack is near the bottom for me unless violent and vicious sharks can swim into the hills using the shallow streams and then launch from these streams to attack me. What I fear are people. It doesn’t matter if they have a gun or not. I have watched road rage where no gun was used, but there was violence. What about the recent spate of soccer violence where several people were killed from punches? I can list a number of violent stabbings, sexual assaults, domestic assaults, and other violent crimes that required no guns. Guns are not a problem, nor are they a convenient weapon of choice.

The issue, believe or not, Trump actually hit on, and it is mental health, but that is only a part of it. We are in a society where aggressive action is encouraged. Don’t think so? Think of Melissa Click and her need of muscle or UC Santa Barbara professor, Dr. Mireille Miller-Young, and her actions she had taken against anti-abortion protestors. These two example are violent actions. If you scream at your opponent this, too, is a violent action.  These two individuals by their actions are telling students that aggressive actions are an acceptable means of coercion. There is no compromise.

Compromise is the issue. Even in marriage, compromise is not necessary in our narcissistic desires. Our own government does not compromise. Look at Donald Trump. There is no compromise in his position, and I am not talking about his political position. His aggressive manner does not allow compromising, and his followers adopt this idea. If we can learn to compromise, we can see the accidents of life as well as the selfishness in ourselves. No longer would we overreact to innocuous incidents where violence becomes the only solution.

This doesn’t solve many mental health issues, but it is a start. Mental health is a complex issue that needs addressed. Simply throwing money at it solves nothing just like how we like to throw money at education in the mistaken belief it will fix something. This is just wasteful and unnecessary. To solve this problem, a goal and the problem need to be identified and targeted. Only then can we allocate money to the problem. Just as in education, I would not allocate a dime to mental health until there is a well-defined goal. The one thing we cannot do is enable or justify for selfish reasons in this case.

Gun control does nothing to alleviate violence, nor does fear mongering the public. Gun control is not a solution nor a temporary solution. All of the statistics in the world solves nothing. Changing the aggressive attitude begins to solve the problem of violence. A non-intrusive method needs to be found and integrated in society. It should not restrict the public but enable the public to maintain individualism and freedom of thought.  To add gun control as a solution, we might as well as restrict alcohol, drugs, movement within the nation, work, finances, sports, marriage, religion, politics, and many other results of aggression.

What Homeschoolers Missed

December 28, 2015 2 comments

In the years of our homeschooling, we’ve covered many of the basics. Our sons are or should be accomplished readers and advanced in mathematics. History has been focused mainly on their interests while the other parts of history were covered but lightly. Science has been a major part of our curriculum, too. There is one area that we haven’t stressed, and this has the chance of hurting.

Never once did I create a multiple choice test. In math, I would create maybe three or four multiple choice questions and seldom did I do this. In fact, my sons only encountered multiple choice questions through standardized testing and the SAT as well as ACT. This isn’t much of an experience for my sons to acquire the ability to understand and handle a multiple choice test, and this is needed.

My oldest son in years at the university has experienced quite a bit of multiple choice exams much to his dismay. Typically, you see these type of exams where there are hundreds if not thousands of students taking the same course. Yes, thousands. His one class had around 350 students and there were three or four sections. This means the grad students, not the professors, have a lot to grade. It becomes easier to do a multiple choice test. Now if you think a smaller school wouldn’t have this problem, think again. If you are a professor teaching three to four classes, that may end up being 75 to 100 students. Now if you are teaching history or math, that is a lot of grading. If you are doing some type of research yourself, then a multiple choice exam becomes more important. Now you need to get tricky with your exams.

I would recommend homeschoolers introducing multiple choice exams and increase the difficulty. The design is not to focus on content. It is to focus on the ability of the student to dissect a question and separate the bad from the good. This experience provides an added tool to the student taking this type of exam. It will even help with the SAT and ACT. Again, the goal is to teach the student how to take a multiple choice exam.

Learning to take exams is something we seldom think about. I’m used to giving a mathematical problem with the expectation of seeing the work and answer. This type of test I am looking for the thinking skills. I am able to mark where the student went wrong. In multiple choice, I am not looking at the thinking skills. It is answer only and nothing can be gleaned from this type of exam other than the possibility of seeing that a student has difficulty with these exams.

 

Star Wars the Force Awakens

December 28, 2015 Leave a comment

The new Star Wars movie was not anticipated by me. I don’t know if the last three were the issue, or maybe I had grown up; moved onto better things in life to take my time. Whatever it is, I was rather tired sitting in the theater as I listened to people mumble their discussions with each other. My expectations were low.

The previews were the most disappointing ever. I recognized the loss in telling a story in the cinema. Violence, action, and forced drama are the key ingredients with the previews. Two were of super heroes fighting each other.  These previews guaranteed I will not watch them in the near future or ever. I don’t need this garbage or the forced drama. The Star Trek preview was little better but relied more on action than it should. For the life of me, I don’t know what it was about. There was one interesting part, but I have no context with which to discuss it. Note to Hollywood, you talent is lacking. Special effects are far more superior when a good plot is involved. That would require talent in creating and writing.

To get to the point, Star Wars number 7 is very predictable. It is following a very familiar pattern that anyone familiar with the Star Wars saga will recognize. There are those that complain about this, but they are missing a potential clever idea. We can all agree this movie is much better than the last three which were horrible and sadly missed a great opportunity. To continue on with the predictableness of this movie is to give away something I believe the viewer should discover themselves. Believe me, you know what will happen to the old characters and when they will appear in the movie.

The one great part about this movie is Chewbacca’s weapon! He actually uses it instead of carrying it like a prop. Even Han likes this weapon. I wonder, did Daryl of The Walking Dead awaken someone to the neatness of a crossbow? I think it is called a bowcaster, though this may be someone else’s idea.  This leads me to wonder how long Wookiees live. He is very sprite for a guy who is in his 60’s or 70’s.

Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher show their age in this movie, and Anthony Daniels voice just isn’t the same. In fact, I find Ford’s acting not as good as if he’s ready to retire his character. Fisher’s acting was okay and she seems to have mellowed. As for the new characters, obviously Finn was not cloned. Why was this? He was great in this movie but the fact he is not cloned was a bit of an issue. Did the cloning factories get shut down after the empire collapsed? Maybe it did. Face it, we were conditioned to believe the storm troopers were clones. Speaking of Finn, he does a nice job in this movie and makes you like him and root for him.  Poe seems too much of a forced character that can do anything.  He fails with me. He needs to be killed off in order to make him more realistic. He is the ultimate hero that does everything right. Well, sort of. He shouldn’t have given his position away. Rey is an up and down character for me. I find it too much for her to be so skilled against a much stronger and talented opponent. There is a scene where she injures a person and then the distance between the two stretches in order to prevent her from finishing the character off.  She fails for me, but this is one of many of the holes in the Star Wars saga. Okay, the other is why do storm troopers have armor that doesn’t work and helmets that filters smoke but not poison?

Armor is practical piece in warfare. Once it stops protecting, its use is no longer required otherwise we would still be in chain maille. This is a huge problem. They can have more practical uniforms. Hey Star Wars people! Read Marshal Herman Maurice de Saxe’s book.

Back to characters. The new Darth Vader, Kylo Ren, fails as an evil guy. He is more of an unhinged, wanna be bad guy. He doesn’t threaten me, nor does his outfit. I keep thinking of the bad guy on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He appears all powerful one moment but weak the next. He doesn’t have the strong gait of Darth, though he shouldn’t, I guess. He just isn’t bad enough and nor is Gollum. Okay, watch the movie and research a little and you’ll understand my Gollum reference.

Plot holes. Too many to list. I mention the uniform and request clarification on the storm troopers. I do ask, how does a laser weapon cause bleeding? In the early scene, was the helmet chafing or maybe the glove? What about this powerful new weapon? How can it be aimed and fire at sundown when it is in a fixed position and can only traverse a planet’s rotation? Maybe these can be easily answered with some inventiveness. I would like to go on about the First Order, but my post length is already too long.

So the movie is horrible, right? No. I actually enjoy this movie. There is character development even though there are silly parts inserted to move the story along – those three creatures on the merchant vessel being one. It follows a well-known pattern but succeeds in doing so. In fact, I think this was a great way to do the movie provided they are looking at the future as I am. Some of the humor seems forced but for the most it was enjoyable. You truly care for some of the characters and us veterans of the original three feel nostalgic as we see recognizable faces. The story moves at a nice pace never leaving you bored. There is a scene where some have wanted a pause for reflection of sorts. I can see what they mean, but it would have caused an unnecessary halt in the story. The holes in the story are easily passed by in order to be discussed afterwards. You’ll be hoping for 2017 to come quickly.

If you are a fan of Star Wars, go see it. If you enjoy Sci-fi, then see this movie. The great thing about this movie is you only need to see the first three. I would actually see this again.

Internet Rhetoric

December 16, 2015 Leave a comment

For the most part I find the political rhetoric to be a fanciful waste of time. You have these groups such as liberals and conservatives in America blaming the other for doing what these groups themselves are doing. These groups are filled with “talking points” people that believe they are spewing forth knowledge instead of refuse. News for them – you are spewing forth refuse, and it’s toxic.

I was on a liberal or progressive site to discuss an idea unrelated to politics. The discussion was about a book and its plot. A nice discussion appeared to be taking place, so I involved myself. After posting my comments, I decided to investigate this site and boy is it ever a comical site.

This site is very concerned about Republicans and conspiracies. It references the GOP as a fascist group and how conservatives are basically stupid. This is coming from a site that believes some of the silliest ideas. I am currently searching to see if chem trails are mentioned. They do not add anything to any intellectual discussion or provide any useful knowledge for the reader. It is simply relying on like-minded individuals to perpetuate this hateful rhetoric.

I enjoy reading blogs and websites that have differing viewpoints than me. The good sites challenge my ideas and make me think. This helps me improve my beliefs by either strengthening them or having me re-adjust my point of view. Some of my views have become obsolete because of quality sites. I have discussed evolution with a Mormon and his site. Though he didn’t win me over, we had a good conversation that was amiable. I believe I got him to think about his views more clearly. There was a person and his global warming review that had me re-adjusting on how I looked at this topic. Sorry for you believers, it was more fact based and did not proved a conclusion without evidence. It was more scientific, and it made me harsher on my judgement on claims of global warming from all sides.

The internet has provided an opportunity for nobodies to have a say and influence. What I mean by a nobody is a person who has little to offer on a topic because there is no substance behind what they say. These people are insignificant. It is their baseless argument that makes their secret identity into a nobody. These people become harmful for they mislead by creating anger and hate within the readers of these sites. They purposely build walls and demonize those on the other side. Another way to look at is these people see a mirror as the wall and the demonize that person on the other side of the mirror.

 

I need some muscle over here!

November 10, 2015 Leave a comment

“I need some muscle over here!” What can be gleaned from this statement? Is this referencing the need for bodybuilding? How should this be interpreted? Maybe this can be answered through the study of the statement.

Stating “I need” may be misinterpreted as fear for one’s life, but we don’t see it as that in the majority of instances. It falls back to the need to impose one’s will upon another. Imposing one’s will is used in sports quite often which the resulting meaning of having one’s way with the opponent for a desired result. When used outside of sports, imposing one’s will is an aggressive tactic with the sole intent of restricting someone’s rights and privileges.

We generally are familiar with the term “muscle” used in this context from the entertainment media. Muscle can be thought of as an aggressive character with one main purpose and that is intimidation. The secondary part to the term muscle goes from intimidation to action. The action is one of a violent nature such as physical confrontation with fists or even instruments used to bludgeon a person with an extreme case resulting in death.

So far, we have, “I want to impose my will on this person.” The next part is, “I want to intimidate or use some form of violence in order to not only impose but reaffirm my will on this person.” This is the meaning of the phrase “I need some muscle.” Apply the last two words, and we get the direction of where the will should be imposed. In effect, this is a direct threat with intended consequences.

Assistant professor Melissa Clark used this phrase with every intent of violence. There is nothing in her statement to dissuade one from seeing any other meaning. She, with this statement, approves of violence, because she cannot have her way with the individual. The fact that she, moments earlier, grasped his camera and possibly him reinforces the belief that she intended to use violence against this person.

In this case, there is no intent to mean bodybuilding, for it is a violent intentions. I am left to wonder about Melissa Clark. Is she truly capable to instructing students in an educational setting? Would it not be better to ban her from any type of educational setting, ever? There are plenty of what ifs. It would be best if she were to just go away. There is no place for people like her in education.

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