Time for a Change

I’ll be changing the layout of the blog soon, to reflect a clearer focus: offering good advice to help college students succeed.  I believe that it’s important.  As I grow, one measure of success is how we help other people.  It’s gonna be awesome.

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Time for a Change

I’m changing the way I help college students.  Instead of teaching at a community college, I will create content and offer it in an online community.  This could reach a lot more people more effectively.  Plus, it could let me do more of what I enjoy –teaching and writing.  Right now, there’s a lot of learning and set up.  Of course there will be challenges.  However, I’m excited to pursue this opportunity in ways I haven’t been in awhile.  More in a few weeks!

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The Plants Do All the Work

I’ve been really busy lately studying how to help community college students.  But balance in life is important, and I really enjoy gardening.  I only have very limited space, but here’s a picture.

july16 garden

Eggplant, peppermint, basil, oregano, tomatoes, bell peppers, chives, salvia, ageratum, and lots and lots of marigolds.

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Workshop Project!

Lately I’ve been working on an exciting new project.  I’m learning lots and making progress although trying anything new creates some anxiety.  Some of the best advice I’ve ever received came from an essay by James Collier.  He said, “Do what makes you anxious; avoid what makes you depressed.”  More later.

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Weather Forecast

OK, forecasting the weather has got to be difficult.  My best understanding is that it’s a combination of reading the computer simulations plus trained gut instinct based on what’s physically observable and measurable.  When one variation builds on others over time, it’s got to be tough, and my compliments to anyone who can do it even reasonably well.

However.  Recently, there was a severe thunderstorm warning.  Details included damaging “straight line” winds gusting to 60 mph.  Wind force isn’t linear; 60 mph is way more than twice as damaging as a 30 mph wind.  (Check out the Beaufort scale.)   A 60 mph gust is enough to bring down trees, cause serious structural damage, fling lawn furniture, and shatter windows.  I checked the forecast an hour before the weather, though, so it should have been as close to reality as it was ever going to get.

Our weather here?  Some lightning.  Heavy rain.  Wind?  Yes, enough to sway the tops of the snap peas.  That’s it.

I think forecasts should be a little pessimistic.  After all, a warning doesn’t do any good if it isn’t given.  Maybe the terrible winds missed me.  Maybe that indeed happened somewhere within the forecast area, but local headlines don’t mention it for anyone else.  It appears, therefore, that the forecast was for enormously worse conditions than actually happened despite being only an hour into the future.  Why?  News as sensational entertainment?  CYA?  I’m not sure, but forecasting so far from reality teaches people to ignore the warnings.  It also lowers that source’s credibility for next time, too.

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My community college’s graduation was Saturday.   I’m happy to be part of their success.  It was great to see the graduates on their way after their special day.  Congrats!

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Contents of a Small Container Garden

The small container garden is fully planted for the spring.  It contains:

  • Lots of buttercrunch lettuce
  • 2 or 3 radishes, left for bad bug repellent
  • 12 garlic (they should keep the flea beetles off the eggplants)
  • 2 eggplants
  • 4 snap peas (on the trellis)
  • 1 oregano
  • 1 basil
  • 1 peppermint (a co-worker says the leaves make a great iced tea)
  • 2 cherry tomatoes
  • 10 marigolds (to attract pollinators and repel some of the bugs that get on tomatoes)


It’s cheap therapy, and potentially, lots of healthy salads and even spaghetti sauce.

Garden April 29

Garden April 29

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Recently, I’ve spent some time in problem-solving mode.  Troubleshooting.  Seeking solutions.

Problem-Solving Steps:

  1. Identify the problem (or verify the problem.  No need to replace the whole engine if the just the engine sensor is faulty)
  2. Brainstorm possible causes
  3. Brainstorm possible solutions
  4. Consider the cost of each solution in work, time, and money.
  5. Starting with the easiest solution, try a solution  (or start with the fastest or the cheapest based on whichever you prioritize the most)
  6. Evaluate: Did it solve the problem?
  7. If it solved the problem, success!  Monitor for unintended consequences.  Sometimes the problem disappears for awhile because it’s caused by something people haven’t identified yet.   Monitor for the problem’s return.  If the problem persists, try the next easiest solution.

What was the problem, you say?  These basic steps (more or less) can be found in every profession and walk of life.  The beauty of this process is that it works everywhere.

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Do What You Can See

Sometimes the students in my writing classes really struggle to write an essay.  Sometimes people stare at the blank page, trying to write the first word of the first sentence of the introduction.  Also, sometimes people try to figure out every improvement in revision all at once, and they aren’t sure what will help.  In both cases, the answer is usually to do what they can see.  They can see how to write a body paragraph or a couple of improvements to make.  It’s best to make the progress that they can see how to make.  Once they’ve finished with what they could see to start with, usually they can see what to do next.  That is, making some progress leads to clarity about the next step.  The same works for most things in life, too.

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Kindness Too

Last Friday, I collapsed at work and had to be taken to the hospital by ambulance.  At first, I thought I had just pulled a muscle in my back, but it got so much worse.  The doctor ruled out a lot of unusual, bad things (like a blocked artery, spinal issues, or diabetic complications) and decided it was “just” really bad muscle spasms.  I’ll be fine, although it suggests some changes in exercise and stress.

Anyway, people were kind.  A coworker made sure my bag with my teaching folders was safe in her office.   Students went into first-responder mode (and they did great!).  They also treated me with kindness instead of as just a medical emergency.  Also, there is a small logistical problem common with ambulance rides: how do I get home?  How do I get my car from work to home?  A student offered to pick me up from the hospital, but I was discharged about the time her kids would be getting out of school.  A coworker actually did drive me home.  Then she and my supervisor drove my car home.  People at the hospital seemed kind, too, not just mechanically doing their jobs.

All that compassion gave me comfort in the midst of a really rough day.  When I wrote earlier about the good karma of deliberate acts of kindness, this wasn’t the follow-up I planned to write.  But it’s a really good example!  Thank you to everyone who helped me that day.  May you be blessed!



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