More of a dark turquoise-- 03/24/00

Just a few odds and ends I guess. I was very busy this week teaching a class, etc. but I've made use of little snips of time at lunch or whatever to type into Notepad, and so some of the comments that follow were entered during the week, and the rest tonight.

I've fallen into the habit in the morning, while waiting for the coffee to finish dripping, of checking the email account I use for this page ( -- which I also use for some notify lists that I am on. [Yes, I have thought about setting up a notify list for this site but a combination of inertia and fear (what if I set up a notify list and nobody subscribed!) have kept me from doing anything about it.] I enjoy getting email (from real people, that is, not from spammers). So whilst the coffee is brewing I can check the one or two or three pieces of email I might have, a brief note from someone or perhaps notification of a new entry posted on someone's journal that I can read. Just a brief ten minute interlude before I have to run around doing wake-up calls and getting everyone ready.

At least most mornings since back in November, I've not had to worry about driving the kids to school. When I bought my new Toyota Corolla back around Halloween, I gave my daughter my old Honda Civic to drive. It took her a few weeks to work her way through the high school bureacracy to get her parking permit (only seniors with parking permits can park on campus and there are almost no legal on-street parking spaces for at least three or four blocks around the school).

The blue Manic Panic dye that Jennifer used on Sean's hair is not a permanent dye; that is, it will gradually fade with repeated washing. I could notice each day that it was not quite as dark as it was on Sunday morning. It now looks more blue than it did because originally it was so dark that from a distance it looked almost black; now the blue shows up better. (Yes, he was playing an MP3 of Blue on the computer while she was dying it.) By now (Friday evening) it almost looks as if his hair has been frosted with dark turquoise highlights (hence the background color selected for this entry... sort of a mix of this dark turquoise and maybe some silver-blue and some blue-green tones).

Jennifer and Sean were leaving with friends just as I pulled into the driveway about quarter to six today. Eventually I started fixing dinner for just Nancy and me (shrimp cocktail, fish and chips, steamed brocolli, some nice crusty Italian bread, cold Killian's Irish Red lager). When I was in the middle of preparations, the kids popped back in, but apparently it was just for a pit stop. They had snacked in the late afternoon (Ramen noodles) and weren't interested in eating now, maybe when they came home or maybe they and their friends might stop somewhere (probably for pizza)... so I gave Jennifer some money because she only had five bucks and her car needed gas. So Nancy and I had a nice quiet dinner -- interrupted only by Tiger barfing on the dining room carpet, chunks of green leaf and stem proving that he was, indeed the culprit who had been attacking and eating some plants (as if there had been any doubt).

We did make plans for a movie date tomorrow night -- last Saturday we saw Erin Brocovich but I'm not sure what we'll see this week. Mission to Mars and Cider House Rules were playing in the same theatre last week and we'd like to see both of them... well, whatever, I'll probably say something about it here on Sunday.

I'm exhausted from this week. The kind of teaching I do is very intense, very demanding, very technical material being delivered to a group of technical people. I'm essentially on my feet all day -- both literally and figuratively -- presenting and explaining the material. I'm not standing there reading bulleted points from some instructor manual. I've been co-author of the instructor's manual and the student manual for each release of this course (and the sole author of the latest revision) but I don't use an instructor's manual... just project a diagram (or project a live computer screen as I demonstrate) and talk to the people, discuss the topic, answer questions, etc. As I noted here earlier this week, this is a five day class, but people always want to leave early on Friday, so I start each day a little earlier than the scheduled time and run anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour and a half later so that I can be finished by noon on Friday. That means I can have a relaxed Friday afternoon to recover, to clean (everything from cleaning the whiteboards for whoever will use the room next to rebuilding computer files for the next time I will teach), reviewing the evaluation forms completed by the students, doing various bits of administrivia, etc. Today, however, I had agreed to do some special one-on-one training for one of the students, a programmer from one of our customers in Denmark, covering information from a course that we were unable to schedule for him. So I spend Friday afternoon condensing a two day course into about three and a half hours. Rather successfully I might add, but I am really tired.

Okay, so maybe this is bragging, but it's not like you really know me in Real Life, so my claim is that it doesn't count as bragging... Just wanted to share a comment from one of my students on the evaluation: "Jim was excellent -- very professional -- good product knowledge and good IT knowledge" I just love it when people add comments like that. Another comment: "Just like to say that the student notes are excellent and very comprehensive and clear." And since I think most of that material is my doing, I am also pleased read that. You might have thought that nobody pays much attention to those evaluation forms that you fill out at the end of a class, but let me assure you that we do. All of the instructors with whom I work are very eager to see the evaluation forms after a course. We use a two-sided form -- one side to evaluate the instructor and the other to evaluate the course -- questions in the form of statements followed by checkboxes for Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree, Strongly Disagree, Not Applicable. I strive to get everything in Agree or Strongly Agree. Well, to be honest, my goal is to have greater than fifty percent in Strongly Agree, especially for statements about the course such as "The course focused on content that is useful in my job" and "I would recommend this class to someone else" because we want our customers to feel that our training is worth the considerable expense they go through to take it (the tuition for this five day course is $2500 per student and then there are the expenses of flying to Rhode Island, hotel, car rental, meals, etc.) and the time away from their jobs, etc. I have similar goals for the instructor questions... and this year I have been striving to improve my weakest area ("Stayed focused on the course objectives") by limiting off-topic discourses (and succeeding, my recent scores in all areas of the instructor evaluations have been seventy-five percent in Strongly Agree and the rest in Agree)... Of course I would like to get one hundred percent Strongly Agree for every question.

Ten p.m. -- I'm going to post this and finish cleaning the kitchen, then go read in bed for a little while and get some sleep. The weather forecast for tomorrow (Sat. 03/25/00) is for sunshine and a high temp. near sixty, a beautiful day and I want to get up early and be able to enjoy as much of it as I can because I have task to start tomorrow that will keep me indoors for part of the day -- Taxes! Yes, I have been procrastinating even though I've had my copy of TurboTax for weeks and weeks, must get started tomorrow, get it finished and filed soon. (I'll probably file electronically, wonder how smoothly that will go...)

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