Archive for May, 2009

A Guy From India

Posted in Uncategorized on May 22, 2009 by Mister A

hyderabad05A guy named Fred (not his real name) from India remotely helped me get my Hewlett-Packard computer fixed earlier this week.  I gave him the controls to my computer and we had quite an interesting conversation as he fiddled with my kitchen desktop from thousands of miles away.  I am a question-asker when something is intriguing to me as any Jokaydian will attest and so will Fred now.  I always wonder why jobs are getting shipped across seas and my conversation helped me understand why.  Fred is a 22-year old college graduate who lives in a town of 1400 thousand people (his number) called Hyderabad.   He has his degree in Mechanical Engineering and is planning on attending graduate school as soon as he can afford it.  I asked him several questions and as I recollect our conversation went something like the following:

Me:  So, what does a guy in India make for fixing my computer?

Fred:  I make about 10,000 rupees a month…

Me:  Wow…not bad…how much is that in US dollars…

Fred:  Right around $200…

Me:  Oh my God, Fred…If you had a job as a Mechanical Engineer in Montana…You would be making that much in a half a day…

Fred:  You are too kind…

Fred seemed like an extremely kind and responsible young man…the kind of guy you would want to hire.  He works 9 and a half hours a day, 5 days a week and must still live at home with his parents to afford graduate school.  If I could get him to work for me for $200 a month, I would not hesitate…Even if I knew that he would only stay on for a week.

194602-R1-18-18AI asked him what school was like for him when he was younger and he shared that there is a tremendous amount of respect for both education and teachers in his culture and also…an extremely low divorce rate.  I wonder if a stronger family structure and a deep cultural respect for education and teachers might have something to do with a student’s success in the classroom.

We were on the phone with each other for a little over two hours so I was able to ask a lot of questions.  I also had my son Edin…play his piano version of the Beatles song – Yellow submarine for Fred.  Although Fred knew who the Beatles were, He had never heard the song before.  He told me that he prefers Eminem.

dad and boysOn a personal note, my last blog post was my 50th and marked the one-year anniversary of my blog.  I know this because I wrote my first blog post on the way home from the 2008 Race for the Cure of Breast Cancer, and last weekend, family and I went to Helena for the 2009 Race for the Cure.  I like taking my family to this race…It is by far one of my favorites as it gives my children an opportunity to remember their Gramma…and me, an opportunity to remember my mother.  And this year, I was able to take my Father as well…the person who was probably impacted the most by my Mother’s battle with the disease…besides my Mother anyway…

On a Soap Box…

Posted in Educational, Personal on May 15, 2009 by Mister A

henny_002I did my first solo Second Life presentation on Monday this week.  I was pretty nervous, but it ended up going pretty well.  I talked about my students’ use of Quest Atlantis in my classroom.  Usually Jokay or someone has been at presentations I’ve been involved with to jump in when I say something stupid or start rambling.  When you are by yourself , you just have to keep on talking, even if you say something stupid.  My hopes are that I didn’t say too many stupid things.  I don’t believe presentations should consist of simply a presenter sending information to his audience.  That is why I believe backchanneling is such a valuable tool.  Both the chat area in Second Life and a new tool called Etherpad were used to accomplish this goal.  When I went back and read the backchannel, I realized how many questions can be answered when people have the freedom to ask people other than just the presenter.  There were some pretty knowledgeable people at the presentation who were answering questions left and right.  Bronwyn Stuckey, my Quest Atlantis trainer/bouy was able to add to the conversation and answer several questions much better than I could have…again demonstrating the effectiveness of a good backchannel.  I also used a Google Doc for the slides I built which made it easy to share the links with others.

Kim Harrison, a good friend in Second Life, was the organizer of my presentation and was very helpful to me in getting things ready.  A lot goes into organizing one of those events, so thanks to both Thunder and Mandie for all your help.  Scott Merrick was also there to add to the conversation and he even took some pictures.  Finally, if you were there, and did not get your personalized flying pig, contact Henny Zimer, and he will give you one.

edin runninOn a personal note, my son recently ran in the 800 meter dash at our divisional city track meet.   I was really hoping that he would win, but he usually does better in longer running events…He just loves to run.  Anyways, I had to settle for him taking fourth which was good enough to qualify for the all city meet.  For him, however, it wasn’t settling at all.  He came to my wife and I and said in a very excited way, “SWEET!!! I took fourth and I get to go to city.”  Winning is not everything to my son…He ran his hardest and loves to run.  For him, that has always been enough…I often wish I were more like my son.

Try not to smile

Posted in Uncategorized on May 2, 2009 by Mister A

On Fridays in our first period class, students are supposed to engage in reading.  Many of my students left to go to a National Junior Honor Society meeting, so I was stuck in my room with several non-National Junior Honor Society types.  I shared with the students an article I read about how smiling is easier on your face muscles than frowning so when I want kids to smile, I tell them to relax their face.  If I want them to frown I tell them to exercise their face.  While explaining this to my students, the majority of them were very amused and smiling except for one.  He just sat there and refused to smile.  He was actually TRYING NOT TO SMILE.  He was doing a fine job until I posed the question…Why would someone TRY NOT TO SMILE?  One of my more digitally literate students responded, “I don’t know, why don’t you google it?” so I did…and the first link that popped up was the following video…

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “funny storm trooper : try not to laugh“, posted with vodpod

Needless to say, Michael smiled…in fact, he laughed out loud…All middle school students love dancing Storm Troopers…even the ones who TRY NOT TO SMILE.