Happy Midsummer Day!

Happy Midsummer Day!

That’s right – it’s the middle of summer. I know it feels like the beginning of summer because school just finished, but the days are getting shorter now, so summer is really half over.

The time is just flying by now. We haven’t taken our 2017 summer vacation yet, and I’m about to book our 2018 vacation. Having a high schooler involved in extracurricular activities means we can’t travel in August anymore. Note for those who don’t have kids in high school yet: plan your biggest/longest vacation for the summer between your oldest’s 7th and 8th grade years. Your flexibility in scheduling dramatically decreases after that.

Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near

Matthew 24:32

Partial STEM Ahead

In my previous post, I commented on how the push to include more variety into STEM education leads to a watering down of the initiative. If you make everything a priority, then nothing is a priority (The Incredibles is applicable again).

But now I want to look at another aspect of the STEM initiative: will it be effective?

The usual comparison is to the US back in the 1960s when the government responded to the president’s vow to put a man on the moon (or sound stage) in that decade. Thus began a STEM-like push.

The problem with that comparison is that it is backwards. The government in the 1960s didn’t push for schools to promote STEM. Rather, the government provided a project (fly to the moon) that got everyone interested. People wanted to be a part of it, so they saw what was needed and did what they could. Kids in school saw pictures of people working at NASA and had something to aspire to. They also saw clips on TV of rocket launches and were captivated. This was all new and exciting and promoted itself.

What is new these days? What can captivate the nation? What will catch kids’ attention and inspire them for their future?

That was meant more as a rhetorical question. I think we as a society have passed that point of national pride and interest. I don’t know that we can duplicate that effort again.

So in the 1960s, we had an exciting long-term program that kids could look forward to being a part of, if they went a certain direction in their schooling.

And now, we have schools trying to point kids in a direction and the kids don’t necessarily know why, or care. Yes, the programs might be fun, but what is driving the kids to continue through college?

I maintain that kids who like that kind of stuff will stay in it, but they would have already been heading that way. I don’t know that the STEM push today will have much of a long-term effect. People don’t have a higher purpose for their schooling now like they did back then. “You can be anything you want to be when you grow up!” That can be inspiring, or it can be ambiguous. Without an overall goal, there’s nothing to guide the ambiguity.

If the government (or industries) wants more college graduates in a certain field, you know how to get them? Good job offers. It’s like they got the supply and demand equation backwards. The STEM push is to increase the supply of STEMmy people, but what’s the demand? Some vague answer such as “The United States is behind most other countries when it comes to science and math knowledge.”

That is rather uninspiring.

My response to that vague answer is: yes, but we’re still the best country in the world, so what’s the problem?

If you want to increase the supply, then provide the demand. Want more math teachers in the high schools? Double their salaries and see what happens. I bet people will magically become more interested in being math teachers.

To throw an old saying in here: the STEM people are trying to lead horses to water. But the horses aren’t thirsty.

Then Jonathan said to him, “Tomorrow is the new moon, and you will be missed because your seat will be empty.

1 Samuel 20:18

Full STEM Ahead

First, there was normal school. Well, maybe not first. But first if we limit our scope to this generation. Kids learned a little bit of everything.

Now, there is STEM. Some people in the industry and/or government saw there would be a need for workers in the Science/Technology/Engineering/Math fields, and they started a push for students to be more involved in those areas so the pipeline of future workers would fill with people who were interested and competent in those areas.

Then some people thought that was a good idea and expanded it to STEAM, with the A being Arts. Because things needs to be designed well, and the arts encourage creativity, and so on. There is some discussion on whether it should be STEAM or just left at STEM.

I’m wondering why stop at STEAM? If pushing for more education in those areas is good, why not bring other areas in?

All those fields are built on what people before us have learned and tried and developed, so it’s a type of history. We could throw H for History in there, so they would know the importance of history and not be intimidated by it. That makes SHTEAM.

But what good is knowledge of a subject if you can’t communicate it? The kids should be mastering Language as well, so they can write and speak to others about their STEM projects and why they’re important. SHTELAM.

A number of roadblocks to STEM problem solving have to do with government regulations or programs, whether federal or local. Or government can help with grants and permits. Either way, a good understanding of Civics is helpful for the future STEM workers. SHTECLAM.

There, now let’s start pushing for SHTECLAM programs. For short, we could just call it school.

Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, And a branch from his roots will bear fruit.

Isaiah 11:1

Cheese Pizza

There have been few “innovations” in the pizza realm over the years: cheese in the crust, cheese to the edge (i.e. no crust), etc.

The only place left for them to add cheese is on the bottom of the pizza. I haven’t seen that announcement yet, so I’m going to invent that here. All Around Cheese pizza. I don’t know that it’s going to be practical, but that can’t stop progress.

You may have some questions, like “Won’t the cheese melt off the pizza and drip onto the bottom of the over?” or “How would you hold it?”

Those are good questions, and I don’t have answers. I’ll let one of the big pizza companies figure it out. One of them must be desperate enough to try it.

honey, curds, sheep, and cheese of the herd, for David and for the people who were with him, to eat; for they said, “The people are hungry and weary and thirsty in the wilderness

2 Samuel 17:29

No Shirt, No Shoes

Finally, someone has closed the loophole:

image of sign saying shirt shoes and bottoms required

I have always thought it odd that stores required shirts and shoes but not pants. I’m glad at least one store out there does.

Now gird up your loins like a man, And I will ask you, and you instruct Me!

Job 38:3

Mind the Gap

Most car critics judge a car’s quality by the panel gaps. The smaller the gaps, the better the car. My 20-year-old Jeep has no such pretenses. In fact, the headlights were designed with a large gap on purpose – to change the turn signal bulbs, you have to remove a screw and the only way to get to that screw is between the bulb covers.

image of headlight gaps on a Jeep Grand Cherokee ZJ

To those who criticize the build quality of this Jeep, what’s your car going to be doing when it is 20? I don’t care as much about build quality as I do about the design quality. If the vehicle was designed to last, that’s the quality I want. I take build quality out of the equation by buying used cars. If it wasn’t built well, it’s either been repaired or junked after 10 years.

I personally think it is a bad user design have the screw there, but I don’t mind the gaps themselves.

I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one.

Ezekiel 22:30

Decent Proposal

I bought a used lawn mower (Hustler Mini Z zero-turn) when we moved into our new house almost two years ago. Hadn’t talked to the seller since then.

Until just recently.

He called me, out of the blue, and asked if I still had the mower. He regretted selling it and wanted to buy it back. And he was willing to pay what I originally paid.

I wasn’t really that attached to the lawn mower, and this guy did seem to be. There was some suspicion that he knew something I didn’t. Maybe it was a collector’s item and he could sell it for double. Should I keep it and prevent him from profiting? Or should I keep it and deny him the joy of using the lawn mower he wants.

I didn’t have a good reason not to sell it, other than a vague suspicion. So I sold it back to him.

My justification was along the lines of this: if he had approached me two years ago with the proposal that I could borrow a zero-turn mower for almost two years at no cost to me, would I have accepted that offer? Sure would have.

It does feel a little different than that offer, but the basic concept is the same.

My wife’s reaction was “But now you’ll have to go buy another mower.”
My response: “You say that like it’s a bad thing.”

So I got a used Worldlawn Viper ZTR. Sounds fancier than it is. It’s slower than the Mini Z was, but it has a wider mowing deck, so the mowing time should even out.

The tires don’t have a good grip (i.e. they slip on the wet grass rather than moving the mower) so I’ll get some new tires with better traction. My plan is to not only get a different tread, but also get a bigger size so the top speed will increase.

What appliances/tools/machines do you have that you wouldn’t sell back for the same price you originally paid?

If a fellow countryman of yours becomes so poor he has to sell part of his property, then his nearest kinsman is to come and buy back what his relative has sold.

Leviticus 25:25