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Comment Re:No longer slave to the marketing overlords... (Score 1) 285

Are you sure the OTA quality has gone down? In many cases, OTA (digital) is better quality than cable, since the cable companies recompress the signal.

I'm using a ten year old set of rabbit ears hooked up to the digital converter box. The quality will improve when I make a run to Radio Shack...

Comment Re:No longer slave to the marketing overlords... (Score 2) 285

However, it DID take me over a week of arguing with the satellite company to get it disconnected. (go ahead...ask me about it...please...).

So, how'd disconnecting the satellite go? Was there arguing, and did it take a week?

The satellite dish itself was easy...well placed explosive devices are both fun and educational... ;-)

However, apparently, the satellite company has NOT YET TURNED MY SERVICE OFF (I just got another bill today). So I will spend Monday morning with a bottle of whiskey (for my nerves) and coffee (to keep the edge) arguing, again, with Direct TV.

Comment No longer slave to the marketing overlords... (Score 5, Interesting) 285

My daughter summed it up best in a tweet to her friends: (paraphrase)

"wow, now the television doesn't tell me what I want to watch, I tell *it* what I want to watch". Unfortunately, she skewed my Netflix preferences so now I have a bunch of 'one-tree-hormoneville' shows suggested to me...

AND my son has his pick of whatever anime he could ever desire.

It takes a little time to adjust (you can't just plop in front of the tv and turn it on for 'whatever'), but everyone I show it to loves it. And I save US$60 a month!

Other than the quality of my OTA channels going down (a problem I had for awhile with DTV as well), I haven't missed my sat/cable stuff.

However, it DID take me over a week of arguing with the satellite company to get it disconnected. (go ahead...ask me about it...please...).

Comment Re:Christians are in Favour of SOPA (Score 1) 180

As it is always with politics, what you see is just the tip of the iceberg. I'm guessing there are some deals in the background, and these organisations will get something in return. Which is exactly the kind of thing that made me a secularist.

As much as it pains me to say this in defense (I'm against SOPA as much as anyone else here), the Christian businesses listed are doing so for the same reason the **AA and their ilk are--it cuts into their bottom line (from their perspective) Therefore, it is a business decision, not a religious/theological one.

Please keep in mind that most (if not all) "Christian" businesses are primarily that--a business. Just because it calls itself Christian doesn't make it much different than any other business (as I'm sure anyone who has worked for a "Christian" business will attest).

So don't blame being a secularist on Christian business' decision to follow the business crowd. Believe me, those businesses will get hurt more if SOPA passes than most.

Comment Comes with the job (Score 1) 415

Let's see, public school teachers (I was one for 5 years) are expected to spend 50-70 hours a week perfecting their craft and spend 'extra time' tutoring/helping/counseling students. On the plus side, I'm sure thousands of students over the years have been helped by a caring and nurturing teacher; I'm not sure I would've survived high school if it wasn't for a caring English teacher.

However, is it any wonder that teachers feel that the only human contact they get is the children they serve? And when a group of students drag you into their 'drama' (and it happens quite often), it is easy to lose site of your real goal, which is to teach a subject.

Facebook (and other social media, including texts) is just another vehicle to be abused by the side effect of 50+ hours a week with students. Would you, as a teacher, give a student and his/her friends a ride home in the rain? How about some $ for lunch? Advice? What if they call you at home? Of course, there are proper responses to these questions, but the lines get blurred very quickly.

The Missouri law is just a response to this. Popular teachers are often the ones that blur the lines of professional separation. And, in a professional sense, a teacher is often criticized if they are not 'effective'--and popularity is often a side effect of this.

Common sense says a teacher shouldn't friend a student. Professional sense says you should be available to your students. Legal sense says you should steer clear (as I often did). But after 50+ hours a week with teenagers, what time/energy do you have for other nurturing human contact (and often teenagers are very nurturing, sometimes for the wrong reasons admittedly). AND, in many states, getting caught (by photograph but often by a parent) at a bar/party/unpopular political event (including religious) will cost you a fine, a reprimand, your job, and even your license. I like live music--do you know how many times I and my teacher friends had to make sure the club/bar owned did NOT take our pictures for his popularity wall? So where else does a teacher go for 'real world' contact?

(flame shield on)--Obviously, there are things teachers should/could do to get positive relationships. BUT, we are talking about people who, in a general sense, are like you and I: We know what we should do but get away with blurring the lines because we are too tired/angry/desperate to 'follow the rules'-- (flame shield off).

Comment Re:Three Points (Score 1) 387

1)It seems to me things would eventually get better if every grammar school and high school in the country had a basic computer course teaching everyone how to buy a machine, something about the innards, and how to use a machine, including proper computer security, and how to fix the most common problems. I don't know if school systems do that these days, but they should - computer savvy is a basic survival trait these days.

I just took a job doing just that, but not a public school (I'm leaving public school) but teaching computers in a therapeutic day-school (for troubled teenagers and residential foster care) where I'm responsible for the lab and everything I teach. Believe me, basic computer knowledge is a rarity--I know that I will spend more time 'unteaching' kids who think they know everything because they got WoW to work on their mom's computer by doubling the RAM and buying a $200 video card. ( I was once cussed out by my son's friend at midnight because I 'didn't know anything about computers' because I told him that our computer will never get a virus--we run Linux that I've locked down)

Fun part now is finding 'teaching materials' because there isn't a lot that is both accurate and appropriate for my age audience....

Comment Re:I still have a 5.25" floppy from high school... (Score 1) 375

Hey, I not only have the disk, but an old 5.25 drive I'm using as a door stop in my shed! (as well as a 10 *meg* Maxtor drive...)

Same story...wrote a game in Basic and Machine Language (yay Apple IIe!) but didn't get the 'A' because I had too many sub-routines that crashed the system ('you know you can't use more than 64K!' my science teacher would bellow...).

BUT, I also have an archive of all the news articles I wrote for a publications office (back when UPI was UPI) on 5.25.

God, are we that old? Don't they kill us off when we hit 40?

And, yes, my wife complains every time I unpack them...

Comment The System is Broken...(rant from a teacher) (Score 1) 446

I have been teaching over 10 years. Special Education. Behavior students. High School. 2nd Career.

And I'm about to quit.

Paying more money only perpetuates the bureaucracy that puts bad teachers in place. I am tired of working hard only to have more work (and restrictions) put on me because I am able to do it. I am tired of having to dodge lawsuits from parents because I can not prevent their 16 year old from failing or committing felonies. I am tired of other teachers telling me that I work too hard but that they could never do what I do.

And...I am tired of having to defend myself from people who have never spent more than an hour in a classroom telling me that I'm not smart/skilled/politically adept enough to function as a teacher. (I won't bore you with a resume proving I'm smart enough...the ACT score of 30 from 25 years ago should be sufficient).

I know who the bad teachers are. Unfortunately, they are also the most politically/socially adept. They are also the ones who are quick to remind administration that I'm not as good as they are (yet I put in 80 hour work weeks).

We are not rewarded for doing well. We are rewarded for not being a problem. Squeaky wheels get greater scrutiny as does classrooms with children whose parents threaten lawsuits. Those are the teachers who get disciplined.

Want to improve schools and/or teaching? Scrap the system and rebuild from the ground up.

Feel free to continue to blame bad teachers or nurture or poverty or whatever. Reality is that none of it will appreciably change unless enough people realize that the system that served them is no longer serving their children.

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