I had largely given up on my kit 18-55mm lens for my Canon camera until I quickly cut up an old chewing-gum container to serve as a flash diffuser, now that lens has new life! If you really wanted to enhance it you could 'gel' it up with different color papers which can easily roll into the container.
No diffuser, harsh light.
Diffuser, warm light.
The course was more plodding than heroic: I did not strive valiantly against doubters but took incremental steps studded with a few intuitive leaps. I was not naturally talented - I didn't sing, dance, or act - though working around that minor detail made me inventive.
From page 3 of Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life.
It strikes me that while Martin was talking about becoming a stand-up comedian this could be anything. Whenever we begin something we rarely if ever see the end. Throughout graduate school I thought for sure I would be teaching more and really enjoying it but I don't. I use very little what I was taught during those two years but rather I use was I built. The skills and experiences.
This is true for being a parent as well. There are no parent of the year awards, no golden tickets. There are no naturally talented parents, we all work around our faults to get better.
We don't waste a lot of food I thought one day as some product on the TeeVee was trying to sell plastic bags or preservatives or some other nonsense. We eat everything, I thought, as I resumed cleaning the living room. But there was nagging feeling of doubt in my mind about how much food we really do throw away. Do we throw away pounds of food? Do we throw away what might add up to an entire meal? For May I decided to find out.
May 5: 1 Cup of broccoli. My kids love broccoli and we are very fortunate to have kids that welcome a green vegetable onto their plate but my wife and I don't care very much for it. What happened was that I made more than the kids would eat for dinner and then forgot to serve it to them before it developed that broccoli smell.
In this gap of ten days I took to heart this challenge and ate everything that was close to getting bad. One night my dinner was half a peanut butter sandwich, a small bowl of chips and salsa, rice with cheese.
Working on the formatting of these posts. My import from Wordpress was a whacky mess, like gum stuck to the bottom of my shoe.
In February 2010 the amount of snow that descended upon the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and Eastern Seaboard were record breaking. Parts of Ohio had snowfall levels that tripled the monthly average for February and the Washington D.C. branches of the federal government shut down for multiple days to accommodate the wintery weather. What happens after each winter storm is the same from Ohio to Maine, children make snowmen, teens go sledding and everyone complains that the snow isn’t removed from the roadways quickly enough.
Snow removal is such a large issues in the winter that infamous D.C. councilman Marion Barry said "Snow, politically, in Washington — in most places — is a very high-stake poker game". Like most services – especially state funded ones – consumers want better service but don’t want to pay for it. In a political climate that promotes harsh dynamic messages, a politician advocating for higher snow removal taxes in September will get vilified in November and validated in February. As citizens we understand the risk associate with driving in the snow but aren’t willing to spend more money for better snow removal methods and equipment.
Flashback to Christmas Day 2009 when the Underwear Bomber arrived at Detroit Metro Airport after terrifying a plane full of passengers and setting himself on fire. Without delay television media began reporting the event and security analysts were immediately summoned to make their cases for what security measure might have prevented a situation like this. Suggestions ranged from highly advanced full body scanners costing $100,000 – 175,000 – ten times the cost of a standard metal detector – to full body pat-downs and chambers that shoot bursts of air which illuminate anything hidden under a passengers clothing. What wasn’t addressed is whether we’re at a similar point with airport security as we are with snow removal. Why are we willing to spend more on airport security to prevent terrorism than pay more to have clear roads?
Both snow removal and airport security are empirical derivatives of a cognitive psychology principle known as the availability heuristic – our judgments of an event are dependent on the accessibility of the event. The availability heuristic is the reason flood insurance applications increase after heavy flooding – regardless of geographic location – and contributes to people attending fitness classes after their New Year resolutions. More recent events and personal events garner more weight in decision making than other events – even if those other events may be statistically more relevant. Airline terrorism is more relevant than snow removal because nearly every American can picture September 11th and include that in their thoughts of new attempts like the Underwear Bomber. Snow removal changes however take time, whether it’s through budget increases in June or ballot issues in November. The time delay between the memorable event and change opportunities makes it less influential in our decision making.
Financially we could clear the snow more quickly. If it mattered to people they would sacrifice their television programming, magazine subscriptions and eat more rice and beans so that other discretionary income could go to paying taxes which fund better snow removal. In reality though we value having each of these things more than cleaner winter streets and similarly, in fighting airline terrorism at what point have we gone too far in our balance of resources? How much cost are airline passengers willing to incur for safety beyond what they have now?
A recent post at The Chronicle of Higher Education about an online paper writer caught my attention, mostly because of how well written it was. Most notably I enjoyed the pacing of the article where it seemed like the process of reading it online was a slightly illicit act that could be punished and I needed to read it quickly.
'Ed Dante' notes he's written frequently for students in the field of education and I can believe it, but I also suffer from but not in my class perspective. In over four years of weekly writing assignments there has bound to have been some plagiarized or paid for work but I never confronted a student because of my suspicions. There has been very bad and very good work but both appeared to originate from the student.
From my experience, three demographic groups seek out my services: the English-as-second-language student; the hopelessly deficient student; and the lazy rich kid
It's the last group that I would estimate the most likely to cheat, especially in classes driven by written assignments. Had a student considered paying a 'doctor of everything' from the first week of the quarter through the last assignment most instructors would probably be none the wiser, especially considering large class sizes, limited knowledge of a class, lack of interaction outside of class and laissez faire attitudes towards grades.
After reading it again the pace still sticks out in my mind and I wonder if it's his ability to write that well for a medium. Do his papers reflect this ability to switch into an academic student tone and as such can instructors figure this out? As noted toward the end, maybe instead of spending our time finding the cheaters - pump handle solutions - and figure out what's wrong with the well.
I wouldn't guess that this is a Gladwell style tipping point toward a wave of cheating, rather a crest in media attention towards cheating but these cases do bring up some similar questions. Previously the Chronicle of Higher Education offered the thoughts of someone who writes papers for pay and then this story occurred at the University of Central Florida, complete with Youtube clip!
There were a few things that caught my attention. First the bravado of the instructor came off as extreme. I empathized with his feelings of betrayal and frustration in having those students cheat but I'm not sure that the entire blame falls on them. What about this class made them decide to cheat? Would those same students have cheated on a basketball exam or quiz on Justin Bieber lyrics? If not, then why? My guess is that students feel there is a break between what they need to know and what's on the exam. Especially interesting because educators generally feels that students' intrinsic motivation decreases through school - sometimes attributed to set curriculum without flexibility for the students - but college is a choice the students makes. They choose their major, classes, course of study, institution, friends, social networks, involvement on campus and so on. Without looking into the literature more my chief question is why do students make the choice to to cheat when they also make the choice to be there?
Last night Boise State lost to Nevada, 34-31 in overtime, ending the Boise State bid to make the college football national title game. I don't think they would have jumped a one loss major conference team, because the computer rankings had them at fifth before the loss. After the game I saw the headline 'Boise State kicks away national title dreams' and after watching the highlights I saw that their kicker missed two moderately difficult field goals - one with a few seconds remaining in the game and another in overtime - both would have given them the win. These plays will be what you see on all the sport highlight and news shows in the next three days but I was wondering how much did those missed field goals actually contribute to the verdict of the game.
Those missed field goal clips playing on SportsCenter overestimate the role they played. Nevada got the ball back with 4:53 remaining the game and proceeded to drive 79 yards in 14 plays for a winning touchdown. Looking at the play-by-play Nevada had plays of 14, 9, 22, 9, 5, 6 & 7 yards during that last drive. To me it looked like the Boise State defense couldn't stop the Nevada offense and any give game the defense has many more plays to change the game than do special teams. With so many plays, players, field conditions and other variables I'd be surprised if we'll ever have some sort of Victory Contributing Variable that carries any weight but I'm pretty sure the kicker will get more than his share.
I wonder at what point the campaign promise that we need to fix our schools and need to fix them now again enters the national debate. My guess for the national level is 2020 but Rahm Emanuel is trumpetting the charge in his Chicago Mayoral campaign.
Rahm Emanuel made a campaign promise last week that if elected mayor, he would install a new math and English language curriculum in Chicago’s public schools by the end of his first term. (link)
I'm not saying outright that Chicago schools are good or bad but do believe politicians use these promises for election purposes rather than educational ones.
How long until nearly live advanced football metrics exist? I would have to guess that to a large extent they are being processed at the team level - someone on each staff inputting data from the current game to existing sets that might predict which way a run will called or when a linebacker blitzes from the weak side. This week the Sunday Night Football broadcast said that Peyton Manning's completion percentage to one of his wide receivers was one of the worst in the league between a quarterback and receiver but why can't that be live and why can't there be more?
Video games have the ability to put circles, numbers, names and other icons below a player's location on the field and I don't see why professional football can't do the same. It would be amazing to see Manning line up in a third and long situation and see the percentage of times he throws to each player in third down situations of nine yards and longer. Even better, once this level of information is available, the viewing experience though a television - or more likely screen with information fed through a computer - would be user based and the statistics displayed could vary.
While on the idea of technological advances in football, I would like to see a chip put in each ball to determine it's speed, rotations, location on the field and vertical and horizontal positions. These data, linked with the official time would end all replay delay as officials could use the rotation per second of a pass, catch and then possible fumble. The league could even institute a standard rotation range allowed and anything over that level would be ruled a loss of possession by the carrier.
The league is too valuable to remain without innovation and my guess is that a more interactive experience - through this data or something else - isn't too far of an experience. Until then we're stuck with the basics statistical measures, 90% of the time.