Funny how things keep turning up…

14 September 2009

I had a few emails from my parents last week warning me about the latest and greatest computer viruses, and not to open “that” file. Turns out they were the latest and greatest…of 2006. Thank goodness for Snopes.

It’s funny how things keep turning up. Like the “Inconvenient Truth” math video, which just reappeared in a blog post on Saturday. Can we add this to Snopes?

Some things we can laugh at. Others we wish would just go away.

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Insight and Honesty

22 May 2009

While I was sitting in the waiting room at the urgent care a few days ago, I picked up the April 27, 2009, issue of Newsweek.  The cover story was an interview with Eliot Spitzer.  It was probably one of the most honest and insightful articles I’ve read in a while, from both the author (Jonathan Darman) and Spitzer himself.

A few key points that I think speak to the character of the “natural man”:

Form the author: Among the many odd traits of political animals is that while they tend to find themselves fascinating, they have little aptitude for, and less interest in, analyzing themselves.

That about sums it up, but not just for “political animals.” I think we all can be this way from time to time: very self-centered, and simultaneously unwilling to look at ourselves and see the problems we have.  It’s a painful experience.

From Spitzer: “there is an adrenaline that comes with … attention that is seductive and dangerous.”

I was talking to friend about this yesterday. He asked if I had ever heard of a school administrator having an affair with a teacher at the school. We talked about Sptizer’s comment, and that there are many occupations that are very public and command a great deal of attention. It requires humility to turn away from the “seductive and dangerous” attention and focus on the things that matter most in our lives.

Dialogue between Darman and Spitzer: I asked if … he knew he was doing something wrong.

“Yes,” he said. “No question about that.”

Did he know what the risk was?

“Yes.”

Wow. This speaks volumes. The natural man will do this all the time; it’s part of who we are. We know something is wrong, yet we choose to do it anyway. Most of us would likely not commit a felony, but we might break the speed limit on the way to the store.

Did Aaron know it was wrong to build the golden calf in the desert? Yes. Did he know what the risk was? Absolutely.

Did Peter know it was wrong to deny his association with Christ? Yes. Did he understand the risk? Beyond a doubt.

Finally, this insight from Spitzer: “The human mind does, and permits people to do things that they rationally know are wrong, outrageous … We succumb to temptations that we know are wrong and foolish when we do it and then in hindsight we say, ‘How could I have?'”

I am still amazed at the insight into life offered by this once public figure who has now had an opportunity to step back and examine himself and his behavior.


Minesweeper: Back in Time

29 December 2008

I remember when my family ditched the IBM PC Jr. for a new 386 machine and the wonders of Windows 3.1.  Wow.  Not only could we actually enjoy using the computer, there were all of these free games that came with Windows.  Solitaire; Hearts; and the favorite, Minesweeper.

I remember playing Minesweeper in Windows 95, and then in 98.  When we received our new computer about 7 years ago – replete with Windows XP – Minesweeper was gone, replaced by new games like Pinball (which is extremely enjoyable).

So imagine my surprise when I [finally] found the games folder on our new computer and saw Minesweeper there.  But this is not Gen X’s Minesweeper.  No, sir.  This is the new and improved Minesweeper.

Thanks, Microsoft.  I love it.  (And how often do we get to say that?)


The New Toy (Read: Computer)

27 December 2008

We got a new family computer.  It was time for our old Dell Dimension 4400 to retire after 7 years of reliable service.  It just couldn’t hack it anymore, but it’s still a good computer.

The new machine is also a Dell (I’m still a PC guy, even though I use a Mac at work).  We got a new Inspiron 530.  Here’s the stats if you’re interested:

  • Pentium Dual Core E5200 (2.50 GHz, 800MHz FSB, 2MB cache)
  • 4GB RAM
  • 320 GB hard drive
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit (I debated this, but it’s really worth it)
  • DVD +/- RW drive

I declined the pre-installed productivity software and anti-virus tools, opting instead to install OpenOffice and AVG Free.   The only 64-bit hiccup we’ve encountered is that the 64-bit version of Internet Explorer that came installed on the coputer is not compatible with FlashPlayer.  No problem: we just installed Firefox (32-bit) and all is well.

Everything has worked great, and I actually enjoy using Vista (maybe because it reminds me of my Mac at work).


Christmas Wrap-up

27 December 2008

No pun intended.  Really.

It was a good Christmas this year.  I got things I needed, which is a good thing.  The kids made out like bandits.  Again, that’s a good thing.

So here’s my wrap-up:

  • One red sweater (thanks, Julie and kids).
  • One electric razor.  My old one died.  (Thanks, Julie.)
  • One brown sweater (thanks, grandma Rose).
  • One gift card (thanks, mom and dad).
  • A whole bunch of movies for the family (thanks again, mom and dad).

In addition to these gifts, Julie and I have bought a few “big gifts” in the last month or two.  Namely, a new car and a new computer.  I’m perfectly happy calling these gifts, since they are things that we agreed to have together for our family.

All in all, it was a very good year.


Christmas Insanity

25 December 2008

On December 24, I ventured out into the retail world to claim the last of my gift-giving necessities: presents for my wife.  Yes, I know that I had 364 other days to get this done.  Yes, I should have done it during that time.  No, I did not.

So out I went.  More appropriately, out we went: me, my four-year-old, and my two-year-old.  We had a few objectives in mind thanks to some pre-shopping online browsing.  Our first stop was the game store to pick up a used copy of Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour for our GameCube.  We like games we can play together.  In stock and no waiting in line – so far, so good.

Next was Sam’s Club for a Poirot movie collection.  On target, minimal waiting.  We proceeded to Kohl’s, where we looked for some new clothes for mom.  We saw some nice things, but the line was such that we would be waiting for at least 30 minutes to check out.  Considering that my daughter refused to ride in the cart and my arm was getting quite tired, we left Kohl’s for one more stop.

This final gift stop was Borders, where we found a Gail Carson Levine book for Julie and a small book for the kids (after all, they had been pretty good).  Done.  Only one hour.  Phew.

Julie called and asked us to stop at the local mega-mart for a few things, so thirty minutes later we were truly on our way home.

What kept eating at me this whole time was the fact that not so many years ago – when I was a child – you couldn’t go shopping on Christmas Eve.  Nobody was open.  Our lives are so totally out of control, and our procrastination skills so refined, that we can no longer accomplish these things prior to the day before Christmas.  It is highly dissatisfying to wrap something at midnight that will be unwrapped less than 8 hours later.  I would rather the gifts sit under the tree for a week or two.

My gift-giving resolution this year is to buy early.  We’ll see how I do.  The first trial is next Tuesday, Julie’s birthday.


Endings and Beginnings

12 October 2008

I’ve had both lately:

As of last Thursday, October 9, I have left Greeley-Evans School District 6.  This is the end of a six-year relationship, and while my departure was entirely voluntary, it was still very difficult to leave.  I have so many friends and colleagues who I will miss working with on a regular basis.

And a new beginning: Last Friday (that’s right – no time off) I started my new job as Editorial Director for Math at Sopris West Educational Services.  This is a new adventure for me, one that blends all of my experience in math education with uncharted waters in publishing.  It’s a big change for me and for our family, but I’m excited.  For now, we’ll remain in our current home; it’s only a 30-minute commute, which is only 15 minutes more than my old in-town drive.

And I get to use a new MacBook in my new job.