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Friday, August 29, 2014

F3 The First Signal

            The mood in ground control had gone from placid to frenetic in a matter of minutes. Carl Jensen had been the first one to notice the signal, and after double-checking it, began to wake up every engineer and supervisor in JPL. Of course, the word spread far beyond those people like wildfire.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Higher Education Paradigm Shift

            I wrote earlier about de-specialization, and I think that is the key to saving higher education. The first two years of any college experience should revolve around showing students how subjects relate to one another, and how to view subjects with a critical eye towards making still more connections. English, math, psychology, history, and art are not separate subjects, but rather pieces of a whole education that is the very baseline of higher thinking. It is for this reason that colleges and universities require subjects in what is termed general education, but the term and lists of classes are as far as anyone has taken it.
            The fact of the matter is that various departments segregate these general education courses from one another. Each department concerns itself only with its internal business and the competition to make it rise above its peers.
            Complicating this structure is that the general education courses within a given department are disdained. They are not real courses that the department cares about. The courses are relegated to teaching assistants and adjuncts as full professors feel such subjects are beneath them.

            It’s time to pull these courses away from their departments to form a new collective group purely for general education. It would take all of these courses from the various departments and coordinate them, teach them in such a way that the connections between subjects are emphasized. Let the individual departments worry about further specializing the students.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Next Semester

            It begins today. I’ve got a couple of more tricks up my sleeve. So I’m optimistic on those fronts. I hope it pays off. Teaching’s harder this time around as my excitement has bled off into other areas, especially my kickstarter. Maybe after that’s over I’ll be more renewed.

Friday, August 22, 2014

F3 Smoke Rings

            They couldn’t see me, or at least, they gave no indication they saw me. I lay prone on a low-hanging cloud over the volcano using a pair of binoculars to stare inside. It had circular caldera, but small, maybe thirty feet across. I had come up here because I never had a chance to stare into a volcano before. I had come far too close to one in Iceland, but that was an emergency.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Next Generation eBookstore

            It doesn’t exist (yet?). But, this is what I would like to see in terms of a physical, electronic bookstore. I think it’s important that a physical place exists where readers can come together to look over books. Perhaps this will be the future of libraries as well. Instead of rows of shelves of physical books, there would be rows of shelves holding digital displays for each author. The display would flash through the book cover of each author’s work, cycling its way around with interactivity to allow for searching or faster cycling.

            Patrons could wander through and see the books on the shelves, able to browse authors nearby, and still preserve the feeling of a bookstore, even if the books themselves are ephemeral files on an electronic device.

Monday, August 18, 2014


            Tomorrow I Kickstart another project I’ve been working on. I’m very excited as well as nervous about the prospect. I believe in my project, and hope I am doing everything I can to promote it and make it successful. So, please, check it out.

Friday, August 15, 2014

F3 Gavel

            The gavel hit with finality, a sound that resonated through the courtroom, and made Flynn wince. He still stood with his counsel, but he felt numb, watching detachedly as the judge and members filed out of the courtroom.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


            I’ve been listening to Lost Enlightenment, which suggests something interesting that I had remembered before and assimilated into my own life, but now I think it needs to be incorporated into higher education.
            The ancient and Renaissance thinkers did not specialize. They didn’t exclude disciplines of thought in favor of one area, or even a sub-area of an existing area. Da Vinci, Newton, Aristotle, Socrates, and others wrote and thought about everything from mathematics to art to philosophy, treating the interactions of what we think of as disparate areas of thought as simply pieces of a larger whole.
            It’s understandable that specialization, or even hyper-specialization in fields of knowledge would become necessary in order to advance even further, but we’ve gotten away from crucial truths that areas of academic interest are all related when it comes to their general spheres of information.

            Why, then, do we treat these areas as specialized at these general levels? I believe that extending the boundaries of subjects and realizing how they incorporate and touch upon these other spheres leads to a greater understanding forces the mind to grow in ways reminiscent of what these great thinkers experienced.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Solace in Books

            I don’t have as much time to read any more. I’ve said this before, and I’m sure my writer friends would be horrified by the very concept. And I can launch into various explanations why, the majority of the reason falling upon grading. But that’s not what I want to talk about. Even with so little time and concentration to spend on reading, I still find solace in books. I still enjoy their presence.
            One of the greatest feelings in the world is to walk around shelves of books, picking one up, and perusing it. The feel of the paper, the weight in the hand, and even the art on the covers and a bold title speak to me. I used to pull out a small pile of books, sit down on the floor next to the shelve, and skim through the words, fully content. To amble around so many of them brings tranquility to me. That’s something that digital vendors aren’t replicating.


Friday, August 8, 2014

F3 Brawl

            Ensign Peter Flynn didn’t know who threw the first punch. He only knew that the marine that had half a meter on him and at least fifteen kilos was set to pound him into the bar. Seeing as he was fresh out of Officer Training and had plenty of classes on tactics, he could have opted to employ those now, except his temper had gotten the better of him when one of the marines had quite literally spit beer in his face.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Stretched Thin

            I’ve been feeling stretched thin this summer with personal responsibilities and projects I hope will become professional. Everything has been coming together in a shoestring net I’m weaving on-the-fly. I’m sure things are getting overlooked because I’m only one person, but I think I’m managing.

            Of course, what I think I need to make it all come back together is a little down time. I need some kind of rejuvenation period. Maybe not a huge vacation, but once a week or so I should just go somewhere peaceful, like maybe a library or a bookstore, and browse around.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Resistance to Change

            People are strange. On the one hand they will wait in line for the newest technological wonder (iPhone, Galaxy, etc.) but on the other they will staunchly refuse to budge when it comes to other things. They embrace the new and will refuse to abandon the old depending on what it is, and this is particularly true of using certain technologies.
            I like to think I’m pretty flexible. I want to see possibilities for how I can use the technology. I will admit, I still haven’t quite gotten the hang of Facebook or Twitter. Mostly because I can’t figure out a way to make it work with my style of doing things. But I’m trying, and I see certain potentials there. But when I see those potentials, when I can make them work with the way I do things, I’m all over it.
            The one thing I never do, though, is flat out refuse to even consider something. I don’t understand that way of thinking. Sure, I still use an old version of WordPerfect for my fiction writing. I like the no nonsense interface. I want a platform that puts words down, and that’s it. I can tweak formatting with Word later on. I know other writers who embrace Scrivener because of all its features with notecards and multimedia, but to me those are distractions. But I still played around with it to see if it was something I could use.
            And that’s as a writer. Artists are eccentric, so they’re supposed to have these quirky usages of tech.
            But as a teacher, I’m baffled that people obstinately refuse to try something new. Of the ones who look at something and simply say “I’m comfortable with how I do it.” This is a kind of closed mindedness that drives me up the wall. It’s one thing to evaluate and then say, “I prefer the way I’ve been doing it,” but to not even give it a chance reminds me of a five year old who has been told to eat brussel sprouts.

            I can’t wrap my head around it, and all I can think to do is quote Bradbury: “I hate a Roman named Status Quo.”

Friday, August 1, 2014

F3 Act of God

            I woke up with a start, making the cat who licked my face pause a moment, then sit down on its haunches before it proceeded to begin licking itself. I ached. Losing consciousness in the park would do that to a guy.
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