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Chinese going to the moon!?

I’m not teaching Earth and Space science this year, but I still like astronomy and space related topics. I’ve been watching for the past several years the Chinese claim to get to the moon by 2010 and the latest development is their launch of taikonauts (Chinese astronauts).

But how reliable are their reports accurate, or should I say true?

Talking to the ones–that aren’t there. Reminds me of the ‘fireworks’ in the opening ceremony or the cute little girl ‘singing’.

We used to say it is no wonder our kids (US) don’t know how to tell the truth, so many CEOs and government officials can’t keep from telling partial truths and bending the truth. Now what do we say…it’s no wonder kids don’t tell the truth–whole countries are dishonest.

We are heading to heck in a hand basket.

San Francisco

Today I am in California, Pleasanton, a town about 30 miles east of San Francisco. We are here for the wedding of Joe Lapp.

For those that care, I am writing this in safari on a big ol mac. We are staying with friends of my wife’s family for the weekend and the man of the house if an IT man for a large company, so he knows his stuff, but of the 3 other computers I’ve seen in the house, this is the only mac. Ok, if you don’t care about the mac/pc debate, that was drivel.

This trip marks the divider between summer work and school. When we return to PA I will be at the school everyday for he next 185 days (give or take a day here and there) excluding holidays and weekends.

Each new year brings memories of a previous year and thoughts about the class that won’t be there. I always miss the ‘lost’ class. But it doesn’t take long to get to know new parts of the next senior class and get to realize the new freshman are a new unique bunch that will be exciting to see walk through the changes of coming closer to adults as they pass through the grades.

To all those that graduated from Faith, let me know what your up to.

On Vacation

I am on the deck of a little house in Hatteras, NC feeling the wonderful breeze after spending time on the beach of the Atlantic ocean. The children are sleeping and we are getting reading to have a bit of cake and coffee. This is the first time my wife and I have been back on this wonderful barrier island since our honeymoon five years ago.

I highly recommend to anyone this destination as a vacation spot. The people are friendly, the next door neighbor (year round resident) told us about a playground for the kids. I love it here. Tomorrow we are going to spend some time on the northern part of the island where the Wright brothers first flew, see the largest sand dune on the east coast… who knows what else.

Before the week is over we will go on the free ferry to Ocracoke island, another great place to spend some time. I like to ocean, but any beach that sports a boardwalk is way to crowded. I like to beaches here, you can find a spot that you can barely see the next group of people.

Visit OBX!

Getting to a trusted system

How do you organize your life? I have a Sony Clie that I use for a date book and a address book. But that was not quite enough. I read some of David Allen’s book Getting Things Done and am starting to use some of the ideas. The idea set GTD has a its own dedicated group of followers, creating sites about and promoting it, how to documents on ‘getting’ getting things done. I’ve been thinking about, trying and adapting some of the ideas. Part of the book is about getting the lingo: tickler, buckets, cranking widgets… the list could go on.

The last several months I’ve included and in basket on my desk at school, it didn’t take long for students to catch on that is where anything to me needs to go, at the end of the day a mini review. I would sort the item into appropriate folders, test for algebra into the algebra folder, quizzes to grade for physics – the physics folder. It means lots of folders, but there is a certain amount of stress that is carried by the folders and not the ‘back of my mind’. Case in point:

I did a field trip the the Franklin Institute with my freshman science class, we took Septa into the city. Planning this event was less stressful that the last time. Everything pertaining to the trip was in a folder. When the tickets came – into the folder, copies of questions the students needed – into the folder when I had them typed and copied, rough drafts of letters informing the parents of the trip – into the folder. When I had a few minutes to work in the planning pull the folder out when the next class started or there was a student needing help with something – sweep everything into the folder. When it was time to work on it again I knew where everything was, I didn’t have to try and remember where I had been putting things. The night before the trip it was a matter of asking “where is the folder?” I knew right away I had everything together and ready, I would show up on the platform with a dozen kids and realize the tickets where in some desk drawer back at school.

Using the memo file of my Palm based PDA has helped me gather loose thoughts throughout the day. I have a notepad file that I put snippits of ideas I might blog about, another has some books I would like to check into (or rather check out of a library), another has ideas I could maybe try to make my teaching better. You have had those ideas, thoughts that seem great but never seem to be around when you could implement them.

Is GTD an answer for everyone? No, but it is helping me get things into a less crazy state. If you can get past the ‘zen’ like phrases the get dropped from time to time and realize this is about creating a method of keeping track of all the loose ends that seem to fly around anyone that is asked to do anything, it might help.