Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Just keep swimmin ... just keep swimmin

Some observations from a life that's been overwhelmed by grad school in less than a week.

For the local towing company, the fruit has ripened on the vine. The apartment complex switched over from 09-10 parking permits to 10-11 parking permits. They announced this by hanging signs in the club house and made no other efforts to contact residents. For management's lack of effort, McDonald's towing will reap the reward. The sound of their idling rig, strikes panic into me after my car was seized as low hanging fruit last fall. The clank of chains and the sound of the wench send me running to the window to make sure I don't have to run downstairs and save my car from a $150 trip across town without me before they clank the blocks into place behind my front tires and leave.

Teachers battling technology distractions are more effective with carrots than sticks. Walking onto campus the other day, I heard a thin, blond, petulant teenager stating her displeasure with her professor's policy of taking away cell phones. She can't do that. We're not in high school, the teenager kept repeating, her phone cradled in her hand as she walked, like it needed attention and comfort from her after its close call.

Her professor's stick approach -- taking away the phones -- was obviously not causing feelings of goodwill and bettering the learning environment. My carrot approach, on the other hand, has been well received. If the students check in their phone and leave it turned off and on the front desk for each class all semester, they get a three percentage point grade bump.

Of course, carrots and sticks wouldn't be needed at all, if everyone -- teenagers and adults, alike -- could realize that using their cellphones to text, chat, surf or even just to check the time during class (or a meeting, or a dinner) is rude, annoying and distracting for everyone involved.

I may be reciting lines from a fish named Dory, but really, I think I just want to be a cat. Curling up on my pillow with a paw over my nose and ignoring everything I have to do sounds ideal right about now.

Highly Recommended