27 March 2006

Car repair advice

You know, the internet is great for allowing word-of-mouth advertising to reach further than ever before. I've noticed a lot of hits on this blog from some pretty interesting search parameters, so I've decided to post a couple of positive experiences that I've had recently in the area of car repair in Tampa.

Last week, we noticed that the brake lights were completely out. For reasons that I'll not go into here, we thought that the problem was electrical (and not merely burned out bulbs). I took my car here:
Meineke Car Care Center at 7302 West Hillsborough Avenue.
The downside was that the mechanic took a three-hour lunch. The upside is that the owner felt so bad that he only charged me ten bucks for the diagnostic and the repair. In fact, he tried to refuse the money completely! The long wait aside, I was impressed.

Last month, I had my radiator blow. I managed to coast into a radiator shop that happened to be half a mile from where the problem occurred. I'd never even noticed the place:
Westside Radiator at 6537 West Hillsborough Avenue.
He replaced my radiator for a good price and had me on the road in a couple of hours. In fact, the job came back LOWER than the written estimate. Big thumbs up.

As I think many have discovered on their own, I avoid Just Brakes like the plague. They always seem to "find" more than is really wrong.

26 March 2006

The Lake Wobegon effect, cont.

The Major's comment is correct. We are really not teaching personal responsibility much anymore. Students expect that they will always excel. I had a student tell me last semester, "I can't understand how you gave me a B. I've never gotten a B on an English assignment in my life." I wanted to respond, "Then your teachers have had astoundingly low expectations!" Of course, I did not say that istead, I tried to explain that there was nothing wrong with her answer, it just was rather pedestrian.... As my mentor said, "An A should be a paper marked by conspicuous excellence."

Protecting kids from failure is a poor way to prepare them for life. I certainly was not protected from failure. When I was in elementary school, I rarely finished my work for the week; thus, I was unable to go outside to play on Fridays. I was held accountable. This experience did not scar me academically, obviously.

25 March 2006

Back on the job

Okay, I spent all of last week grading midterms. It made for a miserable Spring Break, but I got it all done. It's a bit frustrating dealing with disgruntled students, though. I handed back the papers this week. The grades, by and large, were pretty good. Sadly, grade inflation has reached the point that many students expect an A. I had a young man come to me, very frustrated, complaining about his C-. He said, "But I worked so hard!" I wanted to say, "Well, work harder next time. This was mediocre work at best." Instead, I tried to be encouraging. Sigh. We have created a generation afflicted by the "Lake Wobegon effect," wherein all the children are (or expect to be) above average.

13 March 2006

The only thing that I hate about teaching...

... is the grading. Today I am sitting in the living room with a HUGE stack of midterm exams. I need to get them all graded this week, since the last day to drop is coming up next week. I think that it's only fair that students have an accurate measurement of their progress before the drop deadline. I know what some of you are thinking-- "Quit blogging and get back to grading!" I will, but I DO need an occasional break.

I wish that I knew a way to evaluate the understanding of literature other than essays! This is the only time that I envy math teachers. I would love the ability to use Scantron sheets! I just don't know how to make multiple-choice literature exams. If the main objective were literal comprehension of the texts, that might be feasible, but I am going to a deeper level of learning. If anyone has any suggestions, PLEASE leave a comment.

08 March 2006

truthiness personified

I've been watching The Colbert Report on Comedy Central since the day that it premiered. It's very funny. I realize that it is a parody of The O'Reilly Factor on Fox News. I've never really watched O'Reilly. I am pretty conservative (for an academic), but O'Reilly never really appealed to me. Tonight, I watched O'Reilly. It struck me that Colbert is BARELY a parody. The two shows are nearly identical! The only real difference is that Colbert seems to be joking and also that Colbert seems likeable.... Does anyone take O'Reilly serious since his phone message debacle?

06 March 2006

Oscar reflections

First of all, let me say that Chris Rock was wrong last year-- there ARE straight men who are not in show business who DO watch the Academy awards. I thought Jon Stewart did a pretty good job, though I got a bit tired of the jokes aimed at Jewish people. I thought that the opening schtick was hilarious. The film montages did get a bit out of hand, but I (for selfish reasons) loved the film noir tribute. (The URL of this blog surely reveals my love of that genre.) It was painfully clear that Lauren Bacall was having difficulty reading the teleprompter. I was disappointed that Paul Giamatti did not win (again). All in all, it was a pretty good show.

02 March 2006

What does it look like right now in Wisconsin?

The image above is courtesy of UW-Madison Soil Sciences. The problem is that (unless it's snowing) you can't see how cold it is! The low was fifteen below last week! Aaaugh!

01 March 2006

I'm homeless....

Well, sort of. I sold my house in my old hometown to my sister today. I made a nice profit, but I still got a LOT less than I could have on the open market. It kept the peace in the family, anyway. Regardless, this will allow us to have an absurdly healthy down payment on a house in Wisconsin. They tell me that the check is in the mail....