Friday, July 22, 2011

English Glitch

In the previous post, I have run into what I think is an odd thing about the tenses of English. Rather, what we have doesn't support a small but necessary (I think) form of usage.

e.g., "I knew someone in the past. He was Japanese." He was Japanese when I met him. and I presume that he still is. Why wouldn't he be??

If I said "I dated the plumber's niece, whom I met through my best friend. They are cousins. We were good friends, it was the best of times...", I think that the tense structure gets all foobared with that construction. On the other hand, saying that "..they were cousins..." seems to imply that they may not be cousins anymore. Which is unlikely.

You see my problem??

Thursday, July 21, 2011

"When is Leelu not in trouble?" (Korben Dallas)

Yes, I know it's "mis-spelled"...

...not really.

A friend of mine replied to an e-mail of mine recently, telling me that "leelu" is not how it's spelled in the production credits for "The Fifth Element". He's right. But, with apologies to Mr. Dallas...

Back when I was in high school (yes, the earth had cooled, plants had begun to grow...) I dated the plumber's niece, whom I met through my best friend. They were (and presumably still are) cousins. She lived about 35 miles west of me, in an area that, back then, hadn't succumbed to development - yet. They lived at the turn of the road, about 1/2 mile from the freeway. As we started spending more time together, I started spending nights in the guest room. (Really.) I was trying to be a Good Catholic Boy, and to make matters worse, her aunt and uncle actually trusted us. What are you gonna do? We didn't act on impulse. OTOH, we did spend a goodly amount of time kissing.

Her grandparents had a ranch a few miles down the road. I spent a Christmas or two there, and many a summer afternoon around the BBQ. It was the most consistent time I had ever spent in a "normal" family environment - parents (OK, uncle and aunt) grandparents, and kids (her and I). There was a lot of teasing ind give and take. Grandpa would call me a "mackerel-snapper", I would call him a "low-life Sinn Feiner", or "Orangeman". It was fun. Protestant vs Catholic. A traditional and time-honored game.

In any case, for reasons I do not know, he hung the nickname "leelu" on me. In my mind, that's how it was spelled. After we went our separate ways, I forgot about the name. Until, of course, when Korben Dallas asked the Fifth Element for a shorter version of her name, and she replied "Leeloo".


So, when I started posting, I of course used the name, but in the spelling I liked. It was always how I thought of it.

And, Mr. Dallas *is* right, regardless of the spelling.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Anti-Social Media

To tell the truth, I was on Facebook for a couple of months. I don't know why, except Preacher at my old job said I should try it. I got two pings from old high school buddies, whom I hadn't seen since high school, and a bunch of invites to friend my students, and play Mafia Wars.

I pretty much ignored it, until Wiley came out with this cartoon:

...which, I think, pretty much says it all. I closed my account, and shall not return.

Click on the post title to read Matt Labash's take.

I agree whole-heartedly.

Monday, July 4, 2011


It seems that I'm correct in my assessment of what's happening at school. They are doing their best to thin the herd of full-time instructors, and replace them with part-timers (adjuncts), who work for much less $$.

I got fired about 2 months ago, and it was my own stupid fault. We were on a field trip to a computer vendor show in DC. It was light on content, I was bored, and there was a bar and grille next door, so I ducked out and had a beer. Like I had done at many a vendor conference before. Most expensive beer of my life. Drinking at any school function is verboten, and I was told that one of the students "complained", and there I went.

In a recent job interview, I was asked what I liked most about the job. My answer was "graduation". It is heartwarming and rewarding to see the students graduate. For many of the families there, this is the first person ever to receive a college degree. And it, temporarily, almost makes up for the chintzy wages.

The I was asked what the worst part of the job was - my answer was how instructors are evaluated on performance. Instructors are measured on two main things: retention, and student success. These are two things that no instructor ever really has any direct control over. In a theoretical environment where incoming students could demonstrate basic competency in the "Three Rs", this would be a sane and valid measure of instructor performance. Sadly, that often isn't the case here in the Baltimore area. Students get dropped, don't turn in any work, so retention and student success numbers are low.

The good news for me is, I'm more relaxed than I have been in about 6 years, my seemingly chronic gastrointestinal troubles have cleared up, and I'm sleeping much better.

I need to say this in fairness: it is quite possible to get a good, solid education there. As I've told my students many times, you need to show up, do the work, and turn the work in. It isn't rocket science - I worked around that for many years, and that ain't it.