General Archive

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

TAKS Test Day

Test Anxiety, from again, it's time for the TAKS Test - a single test that elementary school students must pass (within 3 attempts) in order to move on to the next grade. No pressure or anything.

I didn't grow up here in Texas, so these tests were a foreign concept to me when my daughter started taking them, and didn't seem like such a bad thing. Sure, I'd taken standardized tests in elementary school, but they were never so important. But with these tests carrying so much weight for the students themselves, bonuses the teachers will receive, and funding the schools will receive, teachers end up training students specifically to take these tests, rather than giving them a better well rounded education. Since 3rd grade is when students have to pass the reading TAKS, for months part of my daughter's homework last year was to read a minimum amount every week. I actually thought the reading was a good idea. But as soon as the students took the TAKS, that homework disappeared. The students were not being made to read to broaden their vocabulary, improve their comprehension, or foster any type of love for reading. No, as I later found out, they were just being trained to improve their reading endurance, so that they'd be able to get through the test. In fourth grade, it's the writing TAKS. A couple weeks ago I was asking my daughter what she'd learned in each subject that week. When I asked her about science, she said that they weren't doing science anymore, they were just using that time to practice for the TAKS.

Man, the sooner Texas gets away from this type of testing, the better.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Happy Fastnacht Day

Doughnut Picture from Wikimedia CommonsDepending on where you are in the world, you may call tomorrow something else, like Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Day. But from where I'm from in Pennsylvania, it's called Fastnacht Day. Traditionally, you make potato based donuts, called fastnachts, supposedly as a way to empty your larder of all the fatty, sugary foods in preparation for the Lenten fast. My elementary school even used to give out donuts with the lunches on this day. So, in celebration of Fastnachts, here's a recipe on my main site on how to make fastnachts, and a link to the (not so thorough) Wikipedia article.

You're supposed to wake up early to make the fastnachts on Tuesday morning (they're freshest that way), but I usually make them the night before. They keep pretty well in a brown paper lunch bag. I also like to put a little bit of powdered sugar into a ziploc bag, and a mix of granulated sugar and cinammon into another one, to coat the fastnachts just before eating them.

Doughnut Picture from Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

Merry Christmas!However you decide to celebrate the winter solstice, I wish you a happy holiday. And if you don't celebrate anything, just have a good time, anyway.

BTW, with this being a short work week, and with my parents coming in to town next week, I won't have too many lunch breaks to work on this blog. So, I'm taking a brief hiatus. Don't expect any new posts from me until next year.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Another Childhood Goal Accomplished

Woohoo! My first patent:

Rotor Collective Pitch vs. Mu to Control Flapping and Mast/Rotor Tilt to Control Rotor RPM

I guess I'm now officially an inventor. However, when a kid can patent his swinging method, I question just how much confirmation a patent actually is.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Voodoo DollIt's a good thing I'm not superstitious, or I'd think I was cursed.

I live in Wichita Falls. Our local airport (SPS) has a few flights a day to and from DFW airport. Flying the connecting flight from Wichita Falls makes trips so much more convenient - I can spend my time reading instead of concentrating on all the cars around me. It might cost a little more, but if I'm going to be traveling by myself, once you factor in gas for a round trip to Dallas along with the cost of parking, getting the connecting flight isn't such a bad option pricewise.

There's one problem, though. DFW gets hit by a lot of thunderstorms. It seems like every time I try to fly out of Wichita Falls, on the way back home, my first flight gets delayed by weather, and I end up missing the flight from DFW back to Wichita Falls. Thinking back, I'd say that it's worked only once out of the five times I've tried it. I usually end up renting a car and driving back home. So, not only did I spend more for my airplane tickets to begin with, but I get stuck paying the rental car fee and gas on top of that.

Given my past luck, I'd pretty much decided on giving up trying to fly out of Wichita Falls. However, my brother got tickets to the Steelers game for this past weekend, and thought it would be fun for the three of us brothers and our dad to go watch it. So, this was a trip for just me, where my wife and daughter were going to stay behind in Texas. And it was in November. How many thunderstorms hit in November? So I decided to take my chances and fly out of Wichita Falls.

I think you can guess what happened. On the way home, I was supposed to land in DFW at 7:15, and then catch an 8:00 flight to Wichita Falls. I knew it was a little close, but I figured I'd be okay. Well, with a thunderstorm that just sat right over the area, we had to divert to Shreveport to get more fuel where we sat for a while waiting for the weather to clear, and we didn't get to DFW until after midnight. Just a little bit too late to catch my 7:15 flight. Anyway, I was too drowsy at that point to try to drive home, so I spent the night in DFW and flew back the next morning.

I'm not going to say that I'll never again try to fly out of Wichita Falls. However, I'll be sure that I never again schedule the last flight of the day from DFW to Wichita Falls, and to give myself a little more time between flights.


Selling Out