Success stories that make me happy

Lincoln, AKA Rincon, at his chipmunk watch in the back yard. He is a way more effective chipmunk chaser than his Border collie counterpart.

Once in a while, you have one of those great stories of students, students encountered when they were in your class and have a story.

Just a few years ago, I had a student in my online French course at Oakton who was pushing forty years old. He told me the story of his educational experiences while in high school. He found the experience to be less than fun and actually unpleasant.

While a student in my class, he was working fulltime in Technology at a local major, national company in Deerfield, where I live. He had decided that he was going to do a test run to see if he could complete his education. He was so turned off of education, that he had not finished his undergraduate degree.

His progress in my class was amazing. In talking to him, it was clear to me that he was extremely intelligent. It was also evident that his issues in school were not due to the fact that he was a less than proficient student. I could easily tell that he had been bored in school and acting out. It was also obvious that his intelligence had more than likely been completely intimidating to his teachers.

It made me think of several things that happened to me while teaching. I remember that some teachers were always interested in sharing their experiences with students the following year, when they ended up in my class. Some of my peers would want to sit down and get a blow by blow report of how students had performed in their class. I declined when it came time to hearing these reports as I wanted to have a chance for students to have a ‘clean slate’ when they entered my class and allow me to make a judgment, if I could even call it that. I also remember having students that drove my peers crazy. I found them delightful. It is important, in my estimate, to remember that it is likely that as a teacher that we shall have individuals in our classes who are more intelligent than we are. We just need to know how to work with them and harness their passion and expertise for the benefit of all. When I had them in class, I utilized their knowledge to further mine and the rest of the class. We all benefitted.

Anyway, Alex told me of his dreams and how he thought he would possibly talk to his widowed mom, ask for some financial help, quit his full-time job, and go to school full-time. He had a goal of undergraduate degree, master’s degree, and then his doctorate. I agreed with him that it was a great goal and that he should go with it.

Alex is a very personable, engaging individual, very interested in French, doing very well, and has a passion and desire to succeed. It made me sad that in his educational career that he had never encountered that one individual instructor who might have helped him make sense of the situation which might have allowed him to continue.

Before he completed Oakton’s curriculum, which he did quite quickly, he connected with the President of Oakton, who brought him in for a special evening meal meeting. She loved his story. How could you not?

Just the other day, I got a request on Linked In from Alex. He sent me a message. He is Phi Beta Kappa and soon to graduate from the Undergraduate program at the University of Illinois’ Chicago campus. He is still planning on going to graduate school.

My philosophy: Don’t ever judge people or think that you have enough information to categorize them. I have known way too many students who had sometimes lackluster performance, only to return to see me later with tales of great success. It is wrong to judge. Everyone has different issues; everyone matures on an individual timetable.

Communcating with Alex made my day, maybe even my year. I love stories like that.

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Android vs. Apple issues as a thought during the time of Coronavirus

I know Apple products cost more, but there are benefits to them, certainly enough for me to have made the jump.

It is day seventy-three of Confinement, I am sitting on the patio in the over eighty degree heat that if there were not the high humidity, would be much more tolerable. This is the Chicago area, though, and this is what happens.

This brings me to a subject that I would have already broached in my blog if I had not already been busy ranting about our new routines.

Android vs. Apple…

Has anyone noticed that there are two major camps, in some respects, like the camps we have politically: Android vs. Apple.

I am going to avoid mentioning which political camp Android and Apple are, but I am going to talk turkey and be honest.

I find Apple, myself, to be wonderful. In my teaching career I started out with Apple in school, went to PC when the school switched, and then finally made a turn around due to having an iPhone and went to iPad and a MacBook. I particularly like the fact that, for example, I can have my text messages on my phone, iPad, and MacBook. I like the fact that I can send text messages (only to Apple people) using my MacBook or iPad. I made the final switch in 2013 when I bought my first Apple laptop, which I still have (that was after numerous PC laptops, the last one of which lasted less than two years). I have had very few issues, one being the trackpad pretty much dying, but I was happy with a cordless mouse, so that was okay. Recently, I realized that I need a new battery, as the battery life went from an amazing eight hours to just over an hour. In any case, my MacBook is more than great for my current needs as I have pretty much switched to iPad with a connected keyboard, making it like a pseudo-laptop. I am going to change out the battery as it is still a well functioning laptop. aEnough of this Apple talk…

Most people on Androids, seem (at least in my opinion) to be adamant in their dislike and sometimes even borderline hatred of Apple and Apple products. I get a certain amount of their disdain and dislike of higher prices, but I must tell you that in my opinion and in the way I used laptops, tablets, and phones, that the innerconnectivity is well worth the extra cash.

That being said, I am not adamant and do not say to Android users that I hate Androids and PCs and such. My question is, what makes them react so sometimes hatefully when Apple products are mentioned?

I am still not happy that I cannot send my Android people text messages from my iPad.

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Observations of several previous days from Day 73 of Confinement

The view from the patio table. It is hot and humid and about 82 degrees Fahrenheit, 27.8 degrees Celsius.

It is day seventy-two of confinement. We all mention, when we see on television: people shaking hands, embracing, eating in restaurants, how odd it all seems. It is kind of like, ‘Remember when…’

Yes, there is the new norm. The new norm is a total change. When the Confinement started, we were set for a six week or so period of time in which we would have to have changed lives. Little did we all know that it would last this long and that it will, in fact, continue for much longer.

One wonders how it will go. Clearly, as the heat ramps up for the summer, it will probably be less of an issue. However, I am sure that it will be an issue in the fall and winter. It is certainly questionable as to when we shall have a vaccine or even truthfully understand it. Meanwhile, we shall have to practice social distancing as best we can and have our masks and gloves handy.

I just got back from walking the dogs and saw a Disaster Clean up vehicle in the driveway of the neighbors to the north (not the malbor). I also was not admitted through the front door of my house, so my first thought was that despite my having already checked out the entire house earlier (because I was opening windows), that something had happened. At our house, we had just gotten a delivery from Oberweis (during the night). I had totally forgotten about it this morning so I did not attend to it. Our son was bringing the milk in, and because it was wet from the rain and condensation from being cold in a warm atmosphere, the bottle slipped out of his hand and crashed and exploded on the threshold. Not the most auspicious way to begin the day. Thankfully, it wasn’t me, but I know how those bottles are, engineered in such a way to be heavy and difficult to carry. Why Oberweis doesn’t make a metal, clamp on handle available (even for purchase) is beyond me.

Such is life under the new norm. At least I had a bouquet of lilies of the valley that I took from a public area around a tree in the middle of the street.

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The Sunday before Memorial Day during Confinement 2020

I transplanted more of these yesterday to the area adjacent to the fence and next to the garage. I remove the plants growing where they shouldn’t be and put them where I want them.

It is Sunday, Day seventy-one of confinement and we are starting the eleventh week.

It is strangely sunny and warm, almost odd after a week of very cool days, too much rain, and storms that are on the border of frightening. I am about to put on the dehumidifier as I am thinking that we want to keep the possibility of mold down.

My days are a strange routine of coming down and opening up all the windows, merging my going up and down the stairs with activity as I put things away and clean up here and there. During the day I spend time studying Hungarian with Duolingo, I cannot believe that I have been doing it for over three months straight. My screen time is high because I do Duolingo and read my Zane Grey books on my iPad. There is a lot of time spent with the granddaughters and the rest of the family. Puzzles are at a bit of a standstill as is my paint by number canvas. The current puzzle situation is at a standstill because of my frustration with the current puzzle. It has many pieces that fit in more than one place and look absolutely perfect. Somehow, that has psychologically affected my working with it. I am a bit disappointed with the paint by number since the canvas is not even well marked, it is clear that the imprinting was shoddy and that I will have to make judgments of even which color paint to use in certain parts of it. The canvas itself is hard to work with as I cannot seem to ‘paint a straight line.’

We are all frustrated at not seeing family members with the regularity we had and I am finding it especially hard regarding the two grandkids in Highland Park since we are still social distancing. There are no easy answers here.

Such is life in the time of Coronavirus.

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Transplanting on days 69 and 70 of the Confinement in the Time of Coronavvirus

Several years ago, this was a lush area filled with yarrow and very tall phlox (from an original hybrid I bought that has seeded all over the yard). Now, it is a desert.

It is day seventy, the day after my second installment of root canal. Yesterday was a nice day, although not nearly as warm as expected. We had our apéro on the patio and Laura (our ‘daughter’) and I had to sit in the sun. I even resorted to wearing a hat as I sometimes do as my bald pate gets cold faster than the rest of I do.

I did some transplanting during the afternoon, a great après root canal activity. Last year, I decided that my war against wild violets was a waste of time. First, I like the violets, it is just that they always grow where you don’t want them. Now I am transplanting them, something I have never done before.

I have several areas that are tough for plants. The tiny space adjacent to my garage and between it and the sidewalk is the first one. I pulled out the currant and gooseberry bushes and donated them to my son. They were really not suited for the water and sun position. I then planted some bits of sedum taken from my other plants in the plot between our driveway and that of malbor. They mysteriously, like all of the plants I have placed there, do well for a while and then start to wither and do poorly. Next to the fence where I have had numerous plants that have done well and then ‘malfunctioned,’ I have planted the violets. I transplanted many. They seem to survive the onslaught of chemicals that must be coming from malbor. I had wondered why the area on the other side of our fence in malbor’s yard was empty and deep, without flowers. Malbor has flowers everywhere. He just filled it in with some excessively ugly, red-brown volcanic stones. I now realize I think he was putting something like plant poison in there and it was leaching into my side. Now having ‘decorative stones,’ he can easily do it. My back yard cameras do not see what he is doing there.

So violets, as resilient as they are, are the new choice of plants for next to the fence. I have planted yarrow, coral bells, phlox, poppies, and all have been fabulous for a while and then wither.

Evil, evil, everywhere, your next door neighbor, the government itself…

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