Saturday, February 23, 2008

Presidential Candidates and Technology

John Dvorak's recent column points to some interesting observations:

Blame Washington that tech will remain flat
By John C. Dvorak
Last update: 2:11 p.m. EST Feb. 22, 2008

Commentary: Uncertainty over presidential race bleeding into market
BERKELEY, Calif. (MarketWatch) -- I don't think it should come as much of a surprise that the market is going sideways with an occasional run-up followed by a small collapse, moving along the sand like a crab waiting to get washed out to sea.
Old-timers will say this is because of the uncertainty as to who will be the next president. The technology sector's particularly vulnerable to this, since none of the three leading candidates is known for tech expertise or appreciation.
Technology needs an Asian candidate or maybe a Swede, or even a white guy from Canada running for president. The three front-runners don't cut it; I'm not hearing a lot of tech vision from any of them, that's for sure.

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Puppy Mills

As I research to be better prepared to adopt a rescue dog at the right time, I am finding out a great deal of interesting information - some of it very hard to swallow but all needs to be acknowledged. If you want to know why you shouldn't buy dogs in pet stores - most buy from puppy mills and not home breeders who specialize in a breed or a few breeds and genuinely care for their pets - they aren't just a commodity - take a look here.

You can also find several recent posts by over at mamamusings about her family's recent adoption of a shelter dog and the joy it is already bringing their family.

There are so many purebreds and unique mutts at your local shelter, please consider checking one out before you decide on a new pet - esp. if they are primarily a pet. With a little time, patience, and willingness to drive a few hours, Just go to (click here) and you can find almost any type of dog or cat that interests you. And they will certainly appreciate their new home!

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Good Monday Morning!

Yes, it's Monday again. Busy finalizing details for afternoon course and taking care of lots of other odds and ends that are work-related.

I spent yesterday afternoon at the humane society primarily playing with the puppies, holding the dog left last week, and trying to help dogs learn how to walk on leashes. At least some of them saw some sunshine for awhile. The staff at our humane society is great with animals and the people who come in. There are definitely some interesting stories. Luckily, no poodles have come in yet or I would have had trouble not taking them home.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

It's Snowing

Wahoo! It won't stick but it's the pretty flakes. Hopefully it will last more than a few minutes.


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Rain not Snow ;-(

If only all the rain were snow . .. . . . I was able to get some outside work done and also relieve some stress in the process yesterday and this morning . . . until it started sprinkling. I was hoping for one more good snow. What we're getting now is supposed to turn into a wintry mix tomorrow morning. We'll see what the roads are like. I decided to go ahead and stay at the farm and just enjoy the time. I was able to get quite a bit done on one project with only one slow-up before dinner when the internet was out for a little bit. (At least this connection is way more reliable than my Cox cable internet connection in town.)

I'm watching No Reservations on PPV. So far it's a good story. The main character is much like me but even more high strung . . . It would be nice to have a large storage cooler to walk into occasionally.

I changed out the wrong gas (with oil) from the 4 wheeler but still can't get it to start. I'll just have to keep trying and also do some internet searches to see what else I can do to work through the wrong gas. This is the time of year I use it most so it's frustrating - esp. when I'm trying to gather wood to burn - it's good exercise but takes a lot longer without the 4 wheeler.

I'm gradually conditioning myself to not be overwhelmed and the next step is to not let others demand so much of me - I already do that enough to myself. I'm trying to take one project at a time and instead of trying to get everything done every day to concentrate on one or two major tasks and consider anything else a bonus. Then, occasionally there are just catch-up days. I'm not going to volunteer to put together any more programs either. I have one I was asked to join, three I've put together and one at one of our big conferences I was asked to put together to be scholarly and teacher-friendly.

I'm really missing having a dog - esp. now that I'm learning to intersperse downtime as a more regular part of my life (ie not working every evening) but with two meetings so close together at the end of April, I will probably have to wait until then. That will give me a good amount of time to bond before my June meetings. If I don't find the right fit in early May, then I will wait until after I meet with teachers for the ten days in June when we do Kansas City and Chicago - esp. since I don't have someone who can dog sit anymore.

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Friday, February 15, 2008

Quite a Week

It's been quite a week on this end. I helped some other departments in the college and university work on submitting a grant to prepare more elementary teachers to effectively teach middle school math and science. And, of course, grant deadlines are always interesting.

Students are finally getting the hang of what to expect in classes and that my classes aren't the "hang out for several weeks and then hurry up and take a test, repeat" and instead require consistently keeping up even if it's a once-a-week F2F class.

Went to a service meeting yesterday - was great seeing everyone - we're getting ready for our next accreditation visit in 2010.

We had 60 something degrees yesterday as another cold front moved in but, sadly, we missed out on the wintry mix.

I'm working on a project all day today and then will enjoy the farm and working out in the cold with frozen, non-muddy ground. And, of conditions are right, I will burn waste wood tomorrow.

I have a lecture ready for Monday about German American internment camps in Kansas to help bring home WWII to our students. I saw the Camp Concordia remains this past August . . .. along with finding a neat quilt store.

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Interpreting the USA Today Article about Wineburg's Work

Here's my contribution to the debate. Hat tip to Cliopatria.

One of the critical points here is that Wineburg and others were interviewed for the USA Today article whereas they are the authors of the article that will appear soon in the Journal of American History. One of Wiineburg’s main arguments is that history needs context and we only have surface context for the USA Today article as a preview and should view it as such.

Historical memory and reverence for historical and current figures is an interesting phenomenon to study and leads to much debate, sometimes heated. Wineburg’s historical analogy traveling across time was simply an attempt to cross some cultural patterns and to go beyond the surface reading of “the leaders” will always identify with “the leaders” in another time with his Franklin analogy. Harry Truman wouldn’t identify with either one given that he went home to live with his mother-in-law when he had to leave the White House. But there are personality traits and features to more closely examine to also better understand why people view history in the various ways that they do.

More importantly, this is a good tool to examine how people understand history and themselves. This is quite different from the “greatest presidents” polls conducted among scholars for decades now. History belongs to the people, not just those who research it but also those who read it and think about it in quite diverse ways. We can all learn something here.

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Wichita State chosen to receive Gordon Parks Papers - WSU News

Wichita State chosen to receive Gordon Parks Papers - WSU News: "Gordon Parks and an unidentified girl in the late 1990s at a showing of Parks' work at the Ulrich Museum on the WSU campus.

Gordon Parks
The Gordon Parks Foundation in Chappaqua, N.Y., has accepted a proposal from Wichita State University to receive the collected papers of deceased photographer, author, filmmaker, composer and Kansas native Gordon Parks.

'Gordon would have been very pleased to know that his papers will reside at Wichita State University,' said Peter Kunhardt, president of the Gordon Parks Foundation. 'Under the leadership of Ted Ayres, a comprehensive plan is now in place to permanently place his personal papers and make them available to the public.'"

Friday, February 08, 2008

Archives and Faust's This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War

Reading Archives: "Faust argues that the American Civil War brought with it a new kind of national meaning: “The rhetoric of Civil War mortality statistics provided the language for a meditation on the deeper human meaning of the conflict and its unprecedented destructiveness, as well as for the exploration of the place of the individual in a world of mass – and increasingly mechanized – slaughter. It was about what counted in a world transformed” (p. 265). Although it is not Faust’s intent to write a meditation on the archival impulse, archivists and others interested in archives reading this book will come away with a deeper sense of why records are created and why they are preserved."

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New Data Tools for Historians

Yesterday's AHA Blog pointed to Dan Cohen's post on a new CHNM's new NEH grant, “Scholarship in the Age of Abundance: Enhancing Historical Research With Text-Mining and Analysis Tools.”

Here's Dan's synopsis:

We will first conduct a survey of historians to examine closely their use of digital resources and prospect for particularly helpful uses of digital technology. We will then explore three main areas where text mining might help in the research process: locating documents of interest in the sea of texts online; extracting and synthesizing information from these texts; and analyzing large-scale patterns across these texts. A focus group of historians will be used to assess the efficacy of different methods of text mining and analysis in real-world research situations in order to offer recommendations, and even some tools, for the most promising approaches.

Matrix is developing some similar tools as evidence of similar humanities technology organizations mine the web to assist all of us in better managing information overload and utilize various means of AI to help us find more date faster.

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Teaching World War II

Yesterday, the Modern America, 1941-68 class continued their exploration of the World War II era. We finished up a portion of the FDR film from the American experience after they did an in-class writing on Winkler's Homefront USA. Then we began to examine Japanese-American internment and next week we'll discuss German American internment, including an internment camp in Concordia, KS.

Most of the students are doing quite well with Blogger as part of their "reflective practice" and this week are learning how to insert pictures into their entries or into types of documents, including Word and PowerPoint.

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Saturday, February 02, 2008

Saturday and the snow is gone . . .

At one point, they predicted an unusual 6-8 inches of snow for us on Thursday. Instead of arriving overnight, the snow really didn't get going until late in the afternoon. It was gorgeous while it lasted. There was just enough snow and melted snow turned into ice on the roads to cancel most schools Friday morning and then the rest of it melted yesterday. I was just thankful I wasn't driving long distances in it and it was beautiful.

I went to the eye doctor yesterday and was quite frustrated when the new tech dialated my eyes a) without telling me and b) when they weren't supposed to be dialated this year. So, the doctor graciously did some of the other tests they normally do when eyes are dialated so that I don't have to have them dialated for several years. However, it still meant I couldn't get much work done yesterday afternoon.

The good news is that the doctor has another option for my problem with the contact solution for soft contacts since using the gas permeable solution didn't work out so well. There are now daily disposable bifocal contacts and, although not cheap, beats having to wear reading glasses with plain contacts.

Now I need to find out where our caucus meetings are on Tuesday.

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