Category Archives: education

Unplugging! / Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Photo credit: Crissy Jarvis

I had already begun a tech-related post about social media, (see below) and then found on my Firefox start-up page a notice about National Day of Unplugging

beginning this Friday at sundown. This, then, is the Public Service Announcement segment of the post.

According to one study:

75% of Americans spend 3 or more hours per day on their devices (smart phones, tablets, computers);

48% use the devices 5 or more hours; and

32% check in before getting out of bed in the morning.

I know myself well enough that I will probably not wean myself from my computer for an entire 24 hours, but will try to cut down during that period. (I don’t have a smart phone, and rarely use our tablet.)

Meanwhile, here’s the post I’d already started:  Should I stay or should I go?

A California friend recently posted one last item on her Facebook timeline, saying: “I’m going inactive on FB. A book can change me and THIS ONE DID… Picture the same posts: me baking, fostering senior dogs, meeting up with friends and reading, and watching Netflix, and volunteering, and going to Church. Contact me via email for a while.”

The book in question is Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts RIGHT NOW, by Jaron Lanier, a virtual reality pioneer. From the book’s dust cover:  “Lanier’s… reasons include its tendency to bring out the worst in us, to make politics terrifying, to trick us with illusions of popularity and success, to twist our relationship with the truth, to disconnect us from other people even as we are more ‘connected’ than ever, and to rob us of our free will with relentless targeted ads.” It’s not a huge book, just 144 smallish pages, and he skims over a lot of detail (and gives numbered references to innumerable online articles). I understood maybe 1/3 of what I was reading.

But he’s right about the Big Brother aspect to our current online society. I hate it when I go to, say, a Perkins restaurant (and pay by credit card), and see online the next day (for the first time) ads for Perkins’ Signature Burgers. It’s creepy – I feel like I’ve been spied upon. I’m sure you can all relate similar happenings.

Oxford’s definition of social media reads:  “Social media is computer-based technology that facilitates the sharing of ideas, thoughts, and information through the building of virtual networks and communities. … Users engage with social media via computer, tablet or smartphone via web-based software or web application, often utilizing it for messaging.”

I got on Facebook years ago so I could see photos of far flung relatives, especially the little kids who are growing up so fast. Lately I find myself getting on sporadically, but once I’m on I seem to be addicted for days. I have also been addicted at times to msn.com’s news feed (which is full of junk), and of course I find myself checking emails – and this blog – multiple times on days when I’m home. And I’m starting to play Spider Solitaire more often… Who knows what I’d do if I had a smart phone!

Are you comfortable with your level of involvement on social media?

If not, what would you like to change?

Best Laid Plans

Over the weekend I made thank you cards for the good Samaritans that pulled me out of the snow last week, baked two loaves of zucchini bread, wrapped them and tied them with ribbon. When it was time to go to dog class Monday night, I put everything in a tote bag and took it along.  Neither of my Samaritans was there.  One is on vacation in Mexico, the other under the weather and skipping class.  I left one loaf for the other staff to enjoy and YA has already polished off quite a bit of the second loaf!

When have you had best laid plans go awry?

Mentor

I was so hopeful. For 15 years I have been the only therapist at my agency, indeed the only therapist working west of the Missouri  River (100 miles to the  east) and south of Williston  (a 2 hour drive north) who does therapy with young children. My colleagues all seemed to profess a profound fear of the under-5 crowd and would not treat them, referring them all to me. I plan to retire in about 18 months. I worry about my region’ s littles, and who will see them when I am gone.

Last spring we hired an older,  master’s level social worker who was excited to learn play therapy and who was excited to read all the materials and books I gave her. I supervised her with her cases and she really got it. Now, due to personal issues with her significant other, she is moving to Colorado.  Sigh! It is back to the drawing board and profound hope that someone will show up who I can mentor and support to treat children.

Who have you mentored? How did it work?

Chinese New Year

Happy Year of the Rat!

When I adopted YA from China, there was an enormous amount of support for the new family I was creating. There were adoption magazines, online forums and a very active local chapter of Families with Children from China.  You know me, I dived right in, learning about traditional holidays in China as well as taking part in gatherings with other adoptive families and even subscribing to two adoptive magazines.  We even traveled to Illinois once to go to an adoptive family conference when YA was 3.

I dropped the magazines early on; they were really depressing, overwhelmingly focused on all the negative aspects of adoption and very few of the joys. Then when YA was about five and I was signing us up for another “culture camp” (these were annual weekends), she said “Do we have to go?  They’re boring.”  So that was the end of culture camps and big FCC gatherings.

When she was in middle school I was informed that the Chinese delicacies that I had taught myself to cook for CNY weren’t that great. Could we just have take-out instead?  Okey dokey.

Then when she was in high school and I was in a whirlwind of cleaning before Chinese New Year (it’s traditional to really clean the house before CNY so the kitchen god and goddess give a good report on your household to the emperor of heaven), she said “You know, I don’t really care about this, so if you’re doing it for me, you don’t have to.”

So here I am, several years later, still caring about this holiday that I embraced when she was a child. I still have little figurines of the kitchen god and goddess; I still try to get the house spiffed up before the new year and I still have a my best friend and her hubby over for a nice take out dinner to celebrate the new year.  I don’t put out a lot of decorations, although there are a few things I’ll put out.  I had a toilet tank topper made from some fun Asian-designed fabric last year, so that’s a must and a great dragon flag for the front of the house.  I do make a few CNY cards.   YA just rolls her eyes.

What will you be up to while I’m celebrating the Year of the Rat?

RIP Terry Jones

Amid all the insanity this week, the saddest news to me is the passing of Terry Jones.

I discovered Monty Python when I was in high school. This was before the television show but I had all their record albums.  One of favorites was Eric the Half a Bee:

Another favorite was An Elk:

By the time I got to Carleton, the television show was airing on Sunday nights and I was a founding member of the 4th Burton Penguin Society:

We got together every Sunday night to watch the show and drink Fosters (do not ask me why we thought we needed to drink Australian beer while watching an English comedy show – I don’t remember at all). All of us in the “club” had a small ceramic penguin; I still have mine and keep in my studio

When Monty Python and the Holy Grail came out, I laughed until I cried and went back to the theatre three times in the next couple of weeks. I have it on DVD but it loses a bit on the small screen, especially the moose credits at the beginning.  YA doesn’t even begin to understand the appeal of Monty Python.  But I loved the irreverence, the silliness, the fun graphics and the craziness of some of the sketches.  This was a great team.  It was sad to lose Graham Chapman too soon and now Terry Jones.  I gave all the record albums to tim last year because I didn’t have a turntable anymore, but I am enjoying the tv shows that are running these days and, of course, you can find a lot of it on youtube, but it’s not quite the same as crowding around a small black and white tv set in a dorm room on 4th Burton, seeing them for the first time.

Who has made you laugh over the years?

 

Space Discovery

Photo credit:  NASA/JPL-Caltech

For all space geeks, the news this week is that a high school student, on his third day of interning at NASA, discovered a planet. For all Star Wars geeks, it turns out that it’s not just your ordinary planet, but a very rare circumbinary planet with two suns, like Tatooine, the planet where Luke Skywalker grew up.

He made the discovered this past July at the very beginning of his internship; he and other astronomers have spent the last six months confirming the find. The planet is now called TOI 1338b and looks to be almost 7 times bigger than Earth.

Apparently not only are circumbinary planets rare, they are even rarer to find since the way that most planets are confirmed don’t work due to timing of the planet passing in front of its stars.   So this is quite an auspicious start for the high-schooler who has said that he does intend to continue his studies in astronomy and astrophysics.

If you could be known as the discoverer of something, what would it be?

Tissue Time

I went over to Tom and Lori’s last night to help them with some last-minute packing. When I got there, Lori handed me a small bag with my name on it.  “We got this for you at the State Fair.”  What you need to know is that Lori and Tom love the State Fair as much as I do.  We usually meet up once or twice a year, although we don’t spend long periods of time together, as we like different things.  They love to shop in the Grandstand and Lori loves to sit through lots of radio shows.  Oh and she loves Math on a Stick.

When I started to open the little bag, I said “this isn’t going to make me cry, is it”? They both said no but as you can guess, it did make me cry.  A little rock with the Chinese character for friends.  It’s exactly the kind of item that I would never acquire for myself but will now keep forever.

So we cried a little last night and I’ll go home mid-day today to wave goodbye as they depart the neighborhood – so probably some more tears at that point too. Remind me to take tissues.

What can make you tear up?