Thursday, June 06, 2013

Re-reading books

A while back, I came to the realization that I was reading very few books that I hadn't read before. Instead of seeking out new material or challenging myself, I was re-reading all of the Dresden Files or Old Man's War. As a result, I had a difficult time remembering what I had read that year.

So in 2012, I began tracking every book I read. I tracked genre, page count and whether I had read it before. By the end of 2012, I read 113 books, 39 of which I had read before. Keeping track really pushed me to try new material. I read some books I probably wouldn't have, other wise. I read some books I kind of wish I hadn't (I'm looking at you, Brad Thor). And it prevented me from reading some books just because they were there and I was familiar with them (John Ringo).

I'm not saying that re-reading a book is bad or undesirable. Quite the contrary! Re-reading a book is one of the great pleasures in life. It lets you gain a greater understanding and appreciation for the text. Some books are meant to be read time and again. Some books are just great fun to read and should be re-visited, like old friends.

Re-reading becomes a problem when you're doing it to the exclusion of all else. If the last 10 books you've read didn't have at least one new title among them, you should probably look at your reading habits.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Suckitude and Awesomeness

Last Tuesday, I spilled Coke all over my laptop during gaming. I cleaned it out as quickly and as thoroughly as I knew how. Unfortunately, it was not sufficient. I left backing up my data overnight, just in case. I woke in the morning to see a black screen reading, "Operating system not found." And none of my data had been backed up.

Turns out I fried my hard drive. Scorch marks and everything. My data was not recoverable. I lost my campaign notes, character sheets, movies, TV shows, e-books, thousands of image macros and pages of manga, and a hefty chunk of my thesis. Suckitude.

The awesomeness is that the only thing fried was the hard drive. I picked up a new 160 hard drive for $78 and reinstalled my OS and it runs fine. The keyboard is still a little tacky and some keys are stiff, but $78 is vastly superior to the cost of replacing the whole laptop. Especially when unemployed.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Today was unexpectedly difficult. I attended the funeral of my Mom's cousin. I didn't know him terribly well, but they had been very close. He has three kids, all about five years apart. Matthew is ~16, the same age I was when Dad died. It's so easy to see myself in him. What a stupidly hard age to lose a parent.

The eldest, Rebbecca, is getting married in June. Her Dad won't be there to walk her down the aisle. She bore up under the pressure well today and took excellent care of her little sister. She broke down at the cemetery though. It was planned poorly, and the family didn't get a chance at the grave by themselves. Her breakdown was embarrassingly public. I hope she wasn't embarrassed or ashamed. She shouldn't have been.

The hardest moment in my life was after the graveside service for Dad. There is nothing, NOTHING, so horrifyingly final as watching Dad's casket being lowered.

Friday, February 16, 2007


It's been a while since I posted. I had intended to update everyone on events that have transpired since, what, October? November? But that can wait.

I shall be on this evening. East, as AlferdPacker or possibly sarah_f. See you there.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Roughly New Year's...

This would probably work better as an e-mail. But I don't really feel like opening Gmail.

The last couple of years there has been a gathering of sorts around New Year's. Roughly.

I'd like to do it again. The weekend of Dec. 16th is a good time if people are available. But we're reaching the point where plans are actually having to be made.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

It has been a while.

So much for updating at least once a month. Ah, well.

Actually, quite a lot has happened since I last updated. But we shan't go into that at the moment.

There was something I wanted to say when I opened this tab, but I'll be damned if I can remember what it was.

In the meantime, you should all go check out Pandora Radio. It's definitely worth the time.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Re: Teacher firing in TX

The teacher who was allegedly fired because of students seeing nude art during a sanctioned field trip has been mentioned many places of late. The school board has been lambasted in the news and in people's blogs. However, things may not be as simple as all that.

This is found on NH Public Radio site.

From: Shana McKay-Wortham []
To: Christopher Cantwell
Date: Thu Sep 28, 2006 01:15:32 PM PDT
Subject: Re: In Regards to Sydney McGree

In case you want more information.

A school district is at an extreme disadvantage in the area of personnel matters due to issues of employee privacy and ethical considerations. However, since an employee of the district has chosen to express her concerns publicly in a hearing and in the media since that time, it seems fair that a school district can at least point to facts that were stated in that public hearing. Much has been misrepresented.

This is not about a field trip to an art museum. The timing of circumstances has allowed the teacher to wave that banner and it has played well in the media. FISD is a strong supporter of the arts and the Dallas Museum of Arts – our art program is rich and award-winning.

At issue here are performance concerns and the ability of a supervisor to address these concerns. As early as May 2005 the principal verbally brought to the attention of the teacher that there were some areas for improvement. She suggested at that time that a field trip experience might be a way to strengthen the art program and the Dallas Museum of Art was discussed as a viable option – it was not mandated as has been reported.

During the spring of the next school year, 2005-2006, when the teacher began planning the field trip, the principal suggested that the field trip be delayed until the next school year because she was concerned that the planning process was not sufficient.

When the teacher received her evaluation conference, which was in mid May and after the field trip, some issues of concern, unrelated to the field trip, were discussed and the teacher stated that she didn't think it was fair to evaluate her on expectations that had not been clearly communicated to her in writing. The principal did then document the performance areas that needed to be addressed – at the teacher’s request – but the documentation was not brought on by the field trip; the field trip was not a catalyst for anything or the final straw to get her in "hot water." She was never told there would not be a next year for her or that she was not “Frisco material” as has been reported. No teachers’ job status would be jeopardized based on students’ incidental viewing of nude art.

After the memo was provided as requested, the teacher did file a grievance and also asked to be transferred if there was an opening in the district. The transfer was denied because the central administration felt that if you allow a teacher to transfer after a supervisor has given them guidelines for improvement then you have weakened a supervisor's ability to address performance issues by essentially giving the teacher an "escape hatch" to avoid meeting the expectations of the supervisor.

What is getting lost here is that this is not about a field trip, censorship, or a parent complaint. It is not about age, tenure or salary level as has also been suggested in the media. This is about a school administrator working to help an employee improve her job performance and to improve the educational experience of students. Even someone who has taught for a long time can still have opportunity for professional development. Teachers were never directed to “ostracize” her as has been reported and she was never directed to not discuss her “plight.”

As an aside, the Star Award that is being mentioned in the context of the teacher being an award-winning teacher or Star Award Teacher of the Year 2004 is a recognition that took place periodically in the local paper because a local business wanted to sponsor the monthly ad to show support for teachers in the community – someone from each campus was usually represented. There was no set way employees were chosen at each campus for this ad. Some campuses went by tenure for inclusion, others selected based on something that had occurred that month. Teachers were recognized, as were volunteers, custodians, receptionists, others. FISD does not conduct the Teacher of the Year program. At this time, the teacher has been placed on administrative leave with pay. The Administration and the Board felt that this was the best action for all concerned. A recommendation for the non-renewal of her contract will be forthcoming from the superintendent.