Upgrading. Finally…


I’ve been thinking about getting a new cell phone for at least a year.  When I got my new car, it came with the SYNC system.  But my phone was too old to sync.  Since I’ll be making my drive to Motown next week, I wanted to get a new phone.  So as you can see, I finally did.  But there’s a funny story here…

I had a student a few years ago that was a master at any kind of cell phone.  Luis knew everything you would ever need to know about phones.  So last year when I was thinking about getting one, I emailed him.   He wrote me back and gave me three recommendations for what he thought I would need.  He even told me which store to go to.  Don’t go into the mall stores, those guys don’t know anything.  Go to the one outside the mall.

So today I went to the store outside the mall.  I was just figuring I’d talk to one of the salespeople and they could help me.  I didn’t have the time to email Luis.  Plus, I was feeling slightly like a loser since I didn’t get one last year when I asked him.

The phone dude helped me pick a plan for my basic needs.  I don’t want to be a slave to my phone, but it would be nice to have a little internet and the GPS app.  After deciding on the plan, it was time to look at the phones.  We turn to go to the wall with all of the phones, and who do I see?  LUIS!

I was so excited to see him!  The sales dude must have thought I was nuts.  Luis was there with his family.  They were getting new phones for themselves.  I ended up getting the phone that Luis had.  (He was there to upgrade).  I was able to find out what he’s studying in college.  Do you know there is now a field called nano technology?  He’s doing great!  To top it off, he gave me a business card so I can contact him if I need help with the phone.

Right now the thing is charging.  I’m sure I’ll have to play around with it.  I’m sure later I’ll be sitting in my car, reading the manual, trying to connect it to the SYNC.  Oh well, at least I’m finally doing it!


Are you SIRIUS?

Do any of you listen to satellite radio?  With my new car I got a free 6-month trial of SIRIUS satellite radio.  I have to admit, I like it.  The new car has the SYNC system also.  But I get tired of the stuff on my iPod and like to listen to other things.  Plus, I don’t necessarily bring the iPod along on every drive I take.

What’s the best part of satellite radio?  No commercials.  I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that there are more and more commercials on regular radio these days.  And it’s not just 30 seconds here or there.  It’s a full 5 minutes sometimes.

I’m still figuring out SIRIUS.  But so far I’m listening to the 80’s station quite a bit.  It makes me laugh to hear some of those songs and remember when I first heard them.  They’ve got a channel for each decade, so you can choose from the 40’s to the 90’s.  BBC Radio 1 is kind of fun too.  I should have figured out more before I drove to Detroit.  But I didn’t have the time research it before I left, so I didn’t use it much.  Now I’m thinking about how to organize my pre-sets.  SAT 1 music, SAT 2 talk, etc.

Now before I’m completely hooked I probably need to make a decision about my future with SIRIUS.  The thing that is deceptive interesting is that in all of the materials you are sent about this new-found friend, there is never the mention of any cost.  No, I haven’t read the fine print on the welcome materials, but a quick scan did not reveal and amounts.  There’s all sorts of info about fees for various scenarios.  I have a feeling that it costs about what my Netflix membership does each month.

Is it worth it?  Do any of you have it?  Any thoughts?

Newspaper Bully

There was an article in the local paper today.  It was one of those opinion pieces by a regular local columnist.  I don’t usually read his column because I have a totally different viewpoint.  It’s pretty easy to tell he sits on the right side of the fence (as opposed to the left).

Earlier in the week I read about some local students going to the City Council meeting and asking for a ban on the sale of candy cigarettes.  They were basically saying that it targets kids for smoking.  The students were praised by the City Council members for bringing it to their attention and that’s about all I remember about it.

So today, this columnist twisted the argument around.  He misinterprets a statement made by one of the students.  He interprets her as saying that she’s a victim of the cigarette companies because she’s being targeted by the candy.  That’s a stretch.  He goes on to blow a bunch of smoke and act like he knows everything (like usual).

The part that really bothers me is that he names the student and treats her like she represents every kid.  I would be bothered by this anyway.  But the student he names is one of my math team kids and a student of mine.  She does not deserve to be the object of his rant.  She is a leader in the school, a great student, and very poised and mature.  I have no idea if she has read the article or knows anything about it.

This is probably something that deserves a response – letter to the editor – or something.  But whatever the case, this a-hole would always have the last word.  What would you do in this situation?

Idiot Proof

My recent road trip lead me to the motor city.   Actually, to Dearborn, the headquarters of Ford.  If you ever visit Dearborn, it’s pretty amazing to see the Ford campus.  The first time I visited, it reminded me of a college campus in its size. There is also the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village if you’re looking for something touristy to do…

Do you have any idea of what those engineers are doing when they are trying to ensure your safety?  I’ll admit that I’ve learned quite a bit over the years.  For instance, part of the reason why the fuel economy isn’t as good as we may like is because of the weight of the safety features.   But what about those safety features?

I was sitting in a new Flex.  By me sitting in the passenger seat, there was a sensor that was able to tell that I was over a particular weight.  Because of this, the passenger airbag was engaged.   If you are under the weight threshold, the airbag could be too powerful and therefore will not deploy.  Why is this technology necessary?

I don’t have any kids of my own.   But from what my friends and relatives tell me, it is illegal to have your child riding in the front seat.  Does the law stop people from putting their children in danger and letting them ride in front?  Nope.  In come the car companies…  Creative engineers now have to design safety systems that are idiot proof.

There has been a lot in the news lately about American car companies.  The media doesn’t paint a pretty picture of them.  But really.  If you know anyone working at one, you know that they’re working hard and doing more for less, just like the rest of us.  And they’re looking out for the idiots too.

Piece of Mind

Or is it Peace of Mind?

I’m sitting at my favorite garage. It’s a family run business and I love the fact that I have a place I can take my car and get it fixed and TRUST the mechanics.

My car has been having an issue for at least a year. Occasionally it thinks I’m trying to steal it. There’s an issue with the chip in the key. After awhile, things wear out and the car doesn’t recognize the key. Hence, it tries to prevent auto theft. The “Theft System” light starts blinking and I have to wait for the computer to re-set itself for 10 minutes. For those of you that are wondering what kind of car this is… ’98 Malibu.

I’ve been able to deal with the occasional 10 minute set-back for quite awhile. But now it’s doing it way too often. I’ve put off getting it fixed because it’s at least a $500 fix. I don’t want to buy a new car until the fall, so I’m biting the bullet and getting it done. So instead of going somewhere nice and warm for spring break, I’ll be spending this nice chunk of change on my car and driving to Motown to see my sister and her family.

Even though it will cost me, I’d rather be safe than sorry.

Thick Skin

One really needs to develop a thick skin.  The need for it is much more apparent to me now than several years ago.   In our world of texting, email, social networking blogs and iPods, we have less authentic interaction with people.  We think we are interacting, but are we really?

We do not have the benefit of visual cues.  If we write something hurtful, we don’t have to deal with the fallout directly.  We are desensitized from our actions.  So does that make people behave more poorly?

To a certain degree I think it does.  The lack of true interaction and dialogue means that people don’t actually talk with each other.  How can you really learn of someone else’s opinion without the verbal and non verbal cues in a conversation?

I suppose this could be a long post.  But the reason I started writing was that I’ve witnessed lots of poor behavior lately.  And if you don’t have a thick skin, you could get pretty upset.  Lots of my students have no idea what this means.  They think that they have to respond to every comment and take everything personally.  You’ll go crazy if you do that!

Today I took my turn at a 4-way stop.  It was rightfully my turn.  But the passenger of another car obviously didn’t think so and flipped me off.   A few weeks ago, I turned onto the on-ramp of a highway.  The person turning right onto the same on-ramp had a yield sign.  Clearly, they don’t understand that that means that I have the right of way, not them.  I was also subjected to a flurry of hand signals.  It’s a good thing that I have a thick skin and don’t take things personally.

These instances, as well as some others, make me believe that one has to develop a thick skin.  People are going to make stupid comments when you are wrong and when you are right.  So no matter what the case may be, you need to be able to not let them get to you.  I guess it’s just another lesson in self-preservation that I get to teach to a few unsuspecting kids that think they’re going to learn some math.

Learn to Spell!

Today was the first day of the new semester.  Since we’re on a block schedule, that means that I got all new students.  I generally look on this as a good thing.  As with the beginning of the year, I get to learn the names of all the kids in my classes.  But before that happens, I have to learn how to pronounce them.

I have one request for the world in general.  It’s not that hard…  Really.  Learn to spell!  If you’re going to name your kid after a country or a continent, spell it like it is.  And if you name your kid some wacky name and I mis-pronounce it?  Not my fault!    You are the one that can’t spell and has disregarded all rules of the language.  Names from other countries I have no issue with at all.  But when you make something up, you’re setting your kid up to have some issues.   You better prepare them for the mispronunciation game for the future, because it’s going to happen.

When I first started teaching I had a kid named Shan.  He pronounced it Shane.  Clearly, a mis-spelling.  I have another one that sounds like the (former) country, Taiwan.  It’s definitely not spelled that way.  There’s another with the name of that far off continent in the east.  I would have thought to say it like the name Sasha with how it’s spelled.  Don’t even get me started with all of the apostrophes!  Yikes!

Hopefully I’ll get through the semester without stepping on anyone’s toes.  God help me if I ever call one Zany – like it’s spelled.