Impulse Control

Whenever I feel a spontaneous urge to do something educational or otherwise beneficial for myself (like learning about a programming language, or reviewing a historical event), I do it. If I’m in the middle of something that can wait, I drop everything and satisfy the urge. If I’m in the middle of something that can’t wait, I make a mental or physical note of the urge and hope the urge remains after I finish my current activity. These urges, when educational in nature, will clearly lead to a more satisfying life for me. I like knowing stuff.

I do have a serious problem with procrastination however, which requires that I focus intently to prevent distractions. Even then, say I’m writing an essay about technology and I realize I don’t recall or never learned how a particular device works, and my curiosity is piqued. Which would have greater net benefit: my completing the essay with time to spare, but possibly with the urge to know faded away, or to succumb to the fickle whims of my mind (a harsh taskmaster) and finish with a hasty conclusion before class?

I need to learn to postpone yet preserve this urge when working on something as critical as schoolwork while on a strict deadline. But when there is time to spare, such as the weekend or a break, I am certain my knowledge of some technology or a quick brushing up of some piece of math will lead to a more satisfying life than whatever mundane thing I might spend time on after completing the piece of schoolwork.

Busy busy bees

Last semester, Algebra II was fun. For homework, all we had were a couple interesting problems, maybe ten or so. Now? We get more like twenty or thirty problems- and these are in-depth, five-minute problems. If I can do these things five or ten times, I can do them twenty times (assuming skills are not introduced within the homework, which would be another problem within itself). This is why I rarely enjoyed classes in elementary school and why I used to read under my desk all the time.
I understand the teacher is trying to figure out how to help the kids who did poorly on the midterm by making them practice more, but this is not a solution. If they failed to understand the material before, what makes you think they will understand better once they copy even more of their friend’s answer, or follow the same set of instructions more times, but still come out with the wrong answer, thus teaching the kid the wrong solution, confusing him and undermining his confidence, and wasting everyone’s time? This just makes them hate the class more than they may have before. Busywork is (almost) never ever ever the answer.

A better solution would be to list problems in addition to a few for homework that are, say, extra credit, or even completely optional. If you fail a test, you must do more homework/worksheets than before the last test (not for extra credit, for a grade- probably just a completion grade). If you pass the next test, the worksheets are optional again.
This teaches kids responsibility- if they need to do extra work to pass the class, and they know it, it becomes their responsibility to work harder until they actually do fail a test, at which point the teacher intervenes. It gives the kid a fair chance to be mature and grow up (several chances, actually) while not leaving their success entirely up to them.

Naturally, special exceptions must apply, such as a kid who misunderstood one critical skill but otherwise excels, and once taught the missing skill demonstrates a good understanding of the material. That was just a summary of what I believe would work better.Богородица

A series of unfortunate events

Last night, I had an idea. I had been considering what the best way was memorize the basics of the periodic table, and I decided I would write a program that would simply generate a number between 1 and 84, and, if I entered the correct abbreviation for the name of the element with the corresponding atomic number, it would give me a happy message saying good job. Otherwise, it would say no, give me the answer, and ask me a different question. I could do some nice rapid-fire studying with that. Besides, my Facebook friends might appreciate the irony of me writing a program to help memorize the periodic table.

So I dig my Netbook out of my backpack and open it up. I resume (it was in sleep mode), log in, surf to a few pages reminding me how to use the rand() function, then my computer sings and a popup appears. This popup tells me I’m running out of battery, but I don’t bother reading it. I know what the sound means. I can plug it in after I get to the end of this paragraph.

Five seconds later, my computer shuts down.

… What?

I plug it in and charge it up, then turn it back on. I load up Windows 7 Starter Edition, thinking of how slow it runs on this machine, and log in. I wait for about fifteen seconds for the operating system to load my desktop- what were you loading before? The box where I type my password?- and finally get to my desktop. My ugly desktop with a smug little Microsoft logo in the middle because I don’t own my operating system and can’t change anything about it because it’s already perfect.

So I start up Visual C++ 2008. It reminds me that I only have 16 days left to register my (free) product, so I give in and click on the popup. This takes thirty seconds because I hadn’t yet connected to wifi (I thought it does that when you log in?) and I had two tabs already open. It tells me to sign in to Microsoft (that’s an interesting way of putting it), which I do. Once that is done, it asks me to fill out a long series of questions, or, if I don’t want to waste my time, I can scroll to the bottom and click cancel. Again, I do so.

This deposits me at a page entitled “help with registering visual c++ 2008″. This is not a guide. It an FAQ. Worse, it’s a forum. Instead of simply giving me a code, it is going to make me hunt down the page that will send me an email containing the code which I will need to enter and send back to them through their product.

Uh, no thanks.

I go back to Visual C++.

I open up the project I already made, and create a new source code file. It objects to my wanting it to auto-generate a simple name for it, forcing me to input something. This makes a reasonable amount of sense, but it wouldn’t be that hard for it to title the file “main1.cpp”.

I go back to the webpages explaining random number generation in C and C++. I watch what they do, and try typing up my own program. I hit F5 to compile the code (make it run), and I get an error message. I frown, go over my code, and see nothing wrong. I copy and paste the code from the tutorial into Visual C++, and hit F5.

I get a freakin’ error message.

This is not some dotcom bubble washed-up site. This is cprogramming.com, a fairly popular and frequented site with very up-to-date tutorials. It. won’t. compile.

Alright, so this compiler’s junk. I was already rather aware of that. So I go to try and download Turbo-C++, just so I know I have a working compiler before the night is out. I successfully download the 3-megabyte file, and hunt through the large list of names, coming upon install.exe at the bottom. I click on it, and…

20111102-223005.jpg

What?

What in the name of root is this? It’s so… Ancient! It’s a DOSBOX program! I haven’t even managed to set that up on 7 yet! Argh!

I came into this with the best of intentions: I was going to write a program (an educational activity in itself) to help me memorize simple parts of the periodic table. Not for some test, but because I have a genuine interest in chemistry. I am, right now, ahead of my class in the course. I was foiled by
a.) Visual C++ and how non-user-friendly it is to a newbie
b.) All those people who swear by Turbo-C++
c.) A download link for a twenty-year-old program

I won’t be writing that studying program tonight.

A useless key

I love my keyboard.

Sure, it’s yellow, purple, red, and blue, and it has pictures on the keys,  but I still love it.

Except for that one button between the left shift and tab. i DON’T THINK i HAVE EVER HIT THAT KEY ON PURPOSE. eXCEPT TO DO THIS EXAMPLE. i’VE ADJUSTED TO HOLDING DOWN THE SHIFT KEY WHENEVER TYPING. I am holding down the shift key right now. Wow, I just realized I type faster when holding it down. And now caps is off. I’ve seen plenty of instances where people can count on their fingers how many times they have purposely pressed down that awful little key.

I thought gym class was supposed to be fun…

It has completely astonished me.

I can’t find a way to put it into words. I’ll just give you an example of a regular gym class for me.

I walk into the room. There is no teacher, or if there is, they are walking in at that moment to turn on the music. I put my bag by the bleachers, then do go to my warmups. I have to evade people standing around talking and occasionally wrestling. I have to run around a big rectangle 3 times, avoiding MORE people standing around talking or just walking. I finish that, then avoid some more people and do a stretch. Afterwards we jump and hit a wall 25 times.

Now either I jump twice as high as everyone else, or I’m the only one actually trying.*

Then (depending on the day) I go do something called a plank, in which I act like I’m going to do a pushup, but am leaning on my elbows. I keep my stomach off the ground. OR we do 15 squats. (Which is rather embarassing to do, especially in middle school.)

________________________________________

|      xxx                                     o                                                   |

|                                                 ZYX                                               |

|                                                 ZYX                                               |

|                                                 ZYX                                               |

________________________________________

I’m sorry, in the actual post this did NOT turn out so well.

The XXX is where we do the planks, with our bodies horizontal. This way the teachers can’t see if we’re doing them correctly or not. So of the few of us who DO the warmups, most cheat.

Next we have 25 jumping jacks or 25 jumprope loops. The jumprope is  pretty fun actually. Then we have 15 pushups (which most of us couldn’t do) or crunches (For the life of me, I can’t find a difference between that and sit-ups except crunches are easier *coughwimpiercough* because you only need your shoulders off the ground).

Then we walk around the gym in a big rectangle, which some apparently interpret as causing general havoc among those who are still doing warmups and going in big clumps, trudging along so those who actually walk have to maneuver through them.

Then the teachers stop the music and see what happens.

a) We stop and politely be quiet and listen. Or as politely as you could expect from middle schoolers.

b) We ignore them and continue talking amongst ourselves and walking.

If a) happens, they tell us to sit on our teacher’s lines, which if you look at my beautiful artist’s rendering above, is line X, Y and Z. They’re supposed to be vertical, as line X is Strittmatter’s class, mine, Y is Walker’s, and Z is Cofer’s. I might’ve mixed up Walker’s and Cofer’s. After sitting down, the teachers go down the line for five minutes, asking the ones they don’t trust- otherwise known as most of them- whether or not they did warmups. After this,  one of the teachers (I think they draw lots or take turns dealing with the terrible horror that we are) stands in front of us and waits for us to be quiet, only occasionally telling people to quit crawling around on the floor, or screaming.

Note that I’m trying not to criticize the teachers here. I think that they’re doing the best they can with a minimal amount of cooperation. I can easily imagine myself in their places.

When we FINALLY get quiet**, we do some activity or another. Today we did 4-square, which would’ve been fun, since we had to pick a number, and whenever we hit the ball, say the next multiple of that number in order. We couldn’t repeat a number.

As I was saying, it would’ve been fun if we didn’t have some horrible, lying, cheating piece of scum in our group who would continue to argue (and insult) even whenever everyone, including himself, obviously knew that he was out. We continue like this until the bell rings, upon which everyone flees the room as if it’s filled with the plague.

So yeah. A regular day in class. Oh wait, I forgot one important thing:

Repeat.

*I’d vote for the latter.

**By ‘we’ I mean most of the class. There’s always those that will talk the entire time and complain about doing nothing.

Awesome

So.

After a few months of nothing disturbing this poor server it’s gotta start working again. Hope it’s up to the challenge, and not too  out of practice. But back to why I’m here.

I was thinking that I couldn’t find much entertainment, so as I soaked in the nice HOT bathtub, I thought “Why don’t I try blogging again?” So here I am. I also thought of some topics, but this is only interesting one. (It’s also the only one I can remember at the moment, so…yeah.)

When I was reading the first Percy Jackson and The Olympians book, which I hear they’re making a movie of,  he referred to something as ‘sick’. Now I know that up north they refer to things as ‘sick’ instead of ‘cool’, which I use 24/7, although I use awesome too.

But I couldn’t help but think, when I’m old and aged, will I hear my kids or the young ones of that age say something like that? And will I fall into the stereotype of  “When I was your age, we didn’t have those fancy PS5s, oh no, we used the PS2 and the Xbox.” Or whatever the case may be. And would I tell them about how we did cool and awesome stuff, and they’d all boggle at me and say ‘Really? Wow, that’s weird. Nowadays we-” Or whatever the case may be.

Just a thought.