Archive for June, 2017

Writing Efficiently

Delta got himself in trouble the other day. That doesn’t really narrow it down, as he gets in trouble every day. But my wife took the opportunity to combine his punishment with schoolwork, so he had to write “I will do what is right” 5 times.

image of paper on which a child has written I will do what is right

He admitted afterwards that he wrote it more than he was supposed to because he cheated.

While drawing one straight line for the Is, the Ls, the Ts, and the Hs was an admirable display of efficiency, I must say my favorite was the Gs – one continuous curly line.

But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good.

2 Thessalonians 3:13

Fun Trucks

I recently drove a 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT. That was a fun vehicle to drive. I’m used to my 16-year-old Buick (capable of moderate acceleration) and my 20-year-old Jeep (not capable of moderate acceleration), so to have a vehicle that powerful was pleasing. My usual vehicles don’t always do what I want, but that JGC SRT did. Want to accelerate? No problem. Want to stop? No problem. Good times.

I have also – about a dozen years ago – driven a Dodge Ram 1500 SRT. That was the SRT-10. Ten whole cylinders of engine, instead of the puny 8 cylinders found in the JCG SRT. And 506 cubic inches instead of 390 (that’s 8.3L compared to 6.4L, for those of you who are mathematically impaired metrically inclined.) With that vehicle, the hype was bigger than the fun. While it had an impressive top speed, I was never able to approach it, seeing as I was always on public roads with speed limits. So the only thing I was able to use that power for was acceleration. However, the gears in the transmission has such long ratios in order to reach a top speed of 180mph that they were not well suited for acceleration.

That brings me to the final vehicle of today’s post: the Dodge Ram 1500 R/T. Its engine is nothing special – the standard 5.7L Hemi that’s used across many of Chrysler’s vehicles. But the transmission is geared for quickness. Actually, if you want to be technical: the transmission is normal, it’s the final drive ratio that makes it quick. That R/T seemed a lot faster off the line than the SRT-10. And since I was accelerating from 0 to 40mph, that’s about all I could do. This was also many years ago. I believe it was a manual transmission back then. I know they’ve kept selling the R/T 1500 for all these years even as the SRT-10 dropped away, but they’re only in automatic transmissions now.

To summarize: Ram 1500 R/T = most fun.

I’m sure there are sports cars that are more fun, but as far as SUVs and pickups go, the R/T gets my vote.

He caused their chariot wheels to swerve, and He made them drive with difficulty; so the Egyptians said, “Let us flee from Israel, for the Lord is fighting for them against the Egyptians.”

Exodus 14:25

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