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Dec. 27th, 2011

phenylalanine

Slinking back in?

Not sure I'll be able to really go back to posting, even if I make it a New Year's Resolution, but I'm thinking of my blogFriends and glad that you post so I can keep up with you. I suspect blogging is dead, with everyone having moved on to Facebook and other media, but maybe it's just going to limp along forever, as these things do. 

At any rate, I have this blog and I might as well use it, at least a little. Suffice it to say a lot of life has happened in the past few years, and I don't feel comfortable summarizing the important points here. 

At the moment I am glad for friends, for family, for health and a body that does what I want, and for the means of all kinds to have what I want and need. 

Feb. 2nd, 2010

phenylalanine

Inspiration

Various inspirational quotes and thoughts:

From the Nike campaign in the movie What Women Want:
You don't stand in front of a mirror before a run and wonder what the road will think of your outfit. You don't have to listen to its jokes and pretend they're funny in order to run on it. It would not be easier to run if you dressed sexier. The road doesn't notice if you're not wearing lipstick, does not care how old you are. You do not feel uncomfortable because you make more money than the road. And you can call on the road, whenever you feel like it, whether it has been a day, or even a couple of hours since your last date. The only thing the road cares about is that you pay it a visit once in a while.

Maria Klawe has three rules of success:
  1. Fail often and openly
  2. Take time to learn to be good at something you are naturally bad at
  3. Suppress jerky behavior
From a woman I know:
Sometimes you have to move forward with/in spite of the fear, especially when you can be pretty sure that it's not fear as a signal of danger but fear as a manifestation of self-doubt.

Nov. 12th, 2009

phenylalanine

Insurance

I have to choose between traditional (and very good) insurance vs a high deductible health insurance plan by tomorrow. It would be a no-brainer except that we will have to shell out approximately $100 per month for the traditional plan while the high deductible plan comes with a health savings account (HSA) into which $100 per month will be deposited, and it is portable. So at some level I have to figure out whether I will use more than $2400 of insurance next year.

In other news, life is stressful, I'm behind on everything and I led a pretty crummy board meeting this weekend. And I'm not running enough.

Last year at this time, I felt equally as bad and I regained a lot of equilibrium over Thanksgiving. I hope that happens this year too. If it doesn't, I might run away.

Oct. 21st, 2009

phenylalanine

Analogies

This weekend it came up that my mother had smoked and drank alcohol while she was pregnant. She said, "It's hard for people to imagine that they didn't know then that smoking was bad for you, but they didn't think it was a big deal!" We started talking about how there are all kinds of things that happen and we don't find out until later that they're bad for you. The conversation was definitely focused on health and pregnancy.

And my father the accountant says, "that's just like investment regulation! Right now investments aren't regulated, but they're going to figure out that's bad and in a few years it'll all be regulated, and after that, no one will be able to believe that it wasn't always regulated!" Which caused my cousin-in-law to say, "we're talking about pregnancy and you have an analogy to investments??"

Oct. 13th, 2009

phenylalanine

(no subject)

The cold and rain are making me crave sweet carby goodness. I've spent a surprising amount of today wishing I could have cinnamon toast. Salad and tomato soup, even very good tomato soup, are not the same.

The Telegraph published a wonderful article on luckiness. Luckiness appears to be largely defined as "open to opportunity" which you might disagree with if you thought about it too hard, but as a working model is quite good. The article included three hints for becoming more lucky:
  • Listen to your intuition. Your feelings can give you hints that your rational mind can't
  • Embrace variety. Always doing the same things will not make you open to opportunity
  • See the positive even in negative events. (Which ironically supports my motto, "the upside of being a pessimist is that things almost always go better than you think they will")

Jul. 24th, 2009

phenylalanine

Headed back west

I can't even keep track of my trips anymore. I thought this was the last one, but that's because I keep forgetting that next weekend I have to go to Atlanta. But then I'm done until at least September and maybe early October. Astonishingly, I might actually be tired of traveling.

This was a long week. All days spent in a workshop, cramming my head full of programming, with random meltdowns along the way. (I have a long post to put in my other blog about it. Send me e-mail if you don't know where it is and want to.) Almost every night included a multi-mile walk (usually 6-7 miles, I think) with one friend, discussing various things that were tangential to the workshop, but fairly intense in their own way. Basically, I worked a full day, then worked a full night every night, though at least I got fed fairly well. In some ways, my friend was my salvation this week - I'm pretty sure it would have been much worse without him. In other ways, I'm not sure. I'm not sure some things would have been as bad, and over the course of the week he pushed me too hard about a project we're working together on, and now I'm cranky about it too. It'll be really nice to be away from it and let my brain rest and see what I come to with time for reflection.

The best part of the week was that I got to see an old friend (Jenn C) on one of the nights, which was such a wonderful, relaxing break from the rest that I probably can't articulate it. 

I feel like a toddler. You know when they get overstimulated and overtired and they don't know what they want, but they're on the verge of a meltdown? That's me. I don't want to have stayed in Boston but I don't want to have left either. And I really, really don't want to be in Phoenix where there's no decent food available at 7 pm. Seriously. They closed the grill at the sandwich place, so my options are Pizza Hut or going *back* to another terminal *again* for Quizznos. So instead I'm going to pretend that a large iced coffee and granola bar is sufficient. 

Jun. 10th, 2009

phenylalanine

It's never too late

 I don't have a long list of things I want to do before I die, or at least not a long list that I'm aware of. I'd like to go to Australia and France. I'd like to see computer science be a standard high school course. And I"d like to get a PhD.Collapse )

The idea of getting a PhD has been rattling around my head for a very, very long time. As soon as I finished my masters, I knew I would like to go on and get a PhD someday. In the last four years, I've been considering it more seriously. By now it seems like the obvious next career step. I want to know how to do rigorous research on computer science education. I want to know what the best things are to teach and learn, and how to teach and learn them. And I want proof that they're good, not just a vague anecdotal sense.

One thing I'm struggling with is where. First, I have to figure out whether to have my academic "home" be in a school of education or in a computer science department. I am very concerned that if I don't go through a CS department that the computer scientists will never take me seriously since I'll be "only" an education person. However, since my real interest is curriculum and pedagogy, and since I'm most interested in K-12, a school of education is a more natural fit. (Also, very nervous that with no CS background I'll struggle in a CS department. I'm such a girl.)

In either case, I have to find an advisor who is interested in studying something like what I want to study, which means not (for example) technology integration across the curriculum. Or building a new tool, unless it's a new tool that helps students learn. If I go the CS route, my options are limited. In fact, they are two. I can go to Georgia Tech and study with Mark Guzdial, or I can (soon) go to Purdue and study with Steve Cooper. To say that mrcozy isn't interested in moving to Georgia or moving back to Indiana (and ESPECIALLY Purdue) probably doesn't capture the extent of his aversion to the idea. Neither program is perfect, they each have some disadvantages, though for the most part I think either might be fine. Another option is to apply to Stanford and Berkeley's schools of education and do a joint program where I get a PhD in Ed and a masters in CS. Those have the advantage of being local (especially Stanford). I recently met Brigid Barron and her research seems like a good fit, so all hope is not lost. (Plus she has worked with Eric Roberts in the past, so there's some history of Ed-CS collaboration!) A final option is to convince Joanna Goode at U of Oregon to take me on. If there's someone who has studied CS Education, there she is!

A quiet concern I have about a school of ed is that most of them are dedicated to social justice. It isn't that I don't care, it's just that social justice is far from my priority. I'm totally comfortable with creating curriculum for upper-middle class white kids; realistically that's where we're going to have to start. It's more important to me to get CS accepted broadly than to work on equity issues. (My "I believe" statement is, "After literacy, I think computer science is the most important thing for kids today to learn.") 

The reason why this is titled "never too late" is because of my first experience thinking about getting a PhD. When I was in high school, I had a friend whose mom was getting a PhD in nutrition. I've never forgotten it. I thought it was so great that if you didn't decide on a career in academia (or whatever required a PhD) right away after college, that you could do it later, even when you had kids and they were pretty old. Every time I think about getting another degree, I think about her. I should try to find her and let her know that she's been my inspiration all this time. I have a friend who got her PhD at age 50. My mom is pushing my dad to go back to school now that he's retired for the second time, and I think it's great. I can't imagine thinking I was too old to go back. (I can imagine FEELING old once I got into a classroom surrounded by people much younger than myself, but that's no reason not to do it!) 

May. 3rd, 2009

phenylalanine

Possible Navel-gazing Here

 There are things I only talk about when asked. I will talk about them openly and tell you whatever you'd like to know, but you have to ask. 

I am getting better about asking people about themselves. I used to think it was rude to ask personal questions. I now know that it depends on the boundaries of the person you're asking, and that it can be hard to know. But I have come to believe that expressing interest in a person has value. Sometimes I still get scared off. I am very interested in other people.

Tomorrow I'm going to a meeting that should be interesting but that I can't explain. I think it might be part of changing the world. I have a vision for how I want to change the world, and other people have my vision too, and I think we'll do it in my lifetime. It's a pretty exciting time to be in my life.

I thought I was going to get to see my friend A tonight, but it didn't work out; he was too tired. (This is less of a cop-out than it sounds like.) I am sad about this, because I would really have liked to see him, but sad in a way that isn't all that sad. I feel unusually un-disappointed, given that I was looking forward to it. Instead I got to spend time with my friends R and then D. D moved away last summer, and we hung out until long after we should have been abed, relishing in reconnecting over silly student mistakes, what our friends are up to, and in general chatting. 

Apr. 20th, 2009

phenylalanine

In NY

Last week was crazier than usual. I feel like I always post saying how busy I am, but it's always the first thing that occurs to me. It's a major reason why I rarely post.

I decided on Saturday that I should focus more on the positive and not the negative. This is harder than it seems! Snark is fun and entertaining.

I gave a teacher training in LA on Saturday. I was so, so nervous about it beforehand. I didn't think I knew the material well enough, I was worried I would be asked questions I don't know the answers to, and I was very worried that the teachers would be bored. But once I got started I took a deep breath and turned on the dazzle. It went well. Of course, I handed out robots and who wouldn't have fun when they have hours to play with robots? Really the teachers stopped listening once the robots came out. But they seemed engaged before that too, and the people who hired me were happy. So I'm happy.

It was great to get back in time to see Simms, too. And I really, really enjoyed seeing Kat and Katie and Noah and Grace. I can't believe how long has passed since I last saw them. Hopefully it will not be that long again.

I am writing an award proposal that would get my school $10,000. I hope we get it. It's due tomorrow. It's not done. I'm procrastinating. However, if we submit and don't get it, we can resubmit next year.

Also? I'm in NY, where I have a day of meetings tomorrow, then fly home tomorrow night. Not sure when I'll have time to submit. Which is okay since I don't have the password to Fastlane. Nothing about this has been easy. However, all of it has been possible. (see? focusing on the positive!)

Mar. 13th, 2009

phenylalanine

Home for now

This sat open all day yesterday and even though it isn't finished, I'm just posting anyway...

I still haven't totally made time to think through my visit to Chattanooga, but overall it was good. In some ways it was the worst ever, but in other ways it was great. Perhaps the highest point wasn't at the conference at all but was on Saturday morning when I went for a run by the river and called my aunt because it reminded me of her. The weather was great and the scenery was beautiful. 

I have started working on a project with someone else and we spent a lot of time talking to people about it, which distracted us from the conference but in a way that was okay. I'm not sure how to refer to my collaborator. "Partner" sounds weird with its multiple meanings, "friend" isn't professional enough, and "collaborator" is long, though currently the top contender. Thinking about what words to use distracts me from the obvious problem, which is what our next step is. We need to figure out what we want to do - our options are everywhere from pull something little together and distribute it all the way to get a PhD. (Not sure how that works... it was almost midnight by the time someone suggested it and I missed the transition.)


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