Friday, September 24, 2010

Organizational Charts by Teens

House Day. You don't appreciate the work it takes to put the day together until you do it yourself. No, I did not do it singlehandedly, but the Student Prez. and Veep spent many hours preparing and the whole House Day ready to intervene. When the duties for the day were divied up, the task came down to each individual. As a peripheral member of the "Student Gov" through the student paper, I was given the nerdish role of supervising Trivia. My duties came down to this list:

Find your House Members (the system was devised in 1987, before Harry Potter) and mark their hands A- D for rotations.
Ask yourself these questions:
Where this group of kids is supposed to go:
Which group should be arriving next:
Did anyone get lost, voluntarily or intentionally*?
For trivia: find replacements to fill seats left vacant by disappearing souls.

*Note to pundits who think us at the Abbey are nerds: Kids were skipping out of Trivia, not Football.

Even good planning can fall to pieces. I applaud quick response to a fiasco relating to the scavenger hunt. It took the kids 15 minutes (out of 45 planned) to complete the odyssey. After one rotation (of 4), the activity was scrapped and the old standby of "Protect the Wall" resurrected. The kids were grateful, too, that there was one less academic activity for the day.

After finding enough warm bodies to fill Trivia seats, I was getting a little fever for the game myself. Even though Seniors aren't technically allowed to, I got my turn to compete on stage just before the day was over. My brilliance did not overwhelm the other Grade 9-12 contestants, so I wasn't by-lined after answering 10 questions!

A clear-cut test of organizational success is the ice cream service. How long was the wait? Not long at all, since we pre-scooped.

The temperature reached over 90 degrees with high humidity, but no results of heat casualties. Accolades for water service and frequent-enough breaks from activities. By the last rotation at high noon, I received plenty of help for inside the air conditioned theater!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Fall and a Server

Today us in the National Capitol Region experienced the simple delight of cool, clean, crisp air in the morning. A forebearer of fall, the darktime cool will extend into the daytime hours. After plugging college applications for a good part of the afternoon, I decided to learn more about the heart of computer-to computer communication; ie, the basis of the internet.

A student whom some would attest is morally opposed to computers was plugging lines of code into Java for AP Comp Sci. It's easy to teach a young dog new tricks. On that basis, I quickly learned how the digital world works.

The internet is not exactly a bunch of tubes with trucks. It is, however, an efficient post office system of sorts. Your computer request information in a protocol manner and the server responds, possibly asking you for your credit card number. This back and forth happens frequently on your trip to the WWW. These days, the dialogue is continuous. The tube concept derives from this development. In more primitive days, the information would travel via regular phone lines (ohh- graphics were such a pain to load!) By the way, the computer would tie up the phone line while using the internet!

With the advent of DSL, this problem disappeared. I remember the surprise the first time a call came through while looking up info (that's all there was back then!) Back in the dial-up days, blogging might have been done on computer software, then with modem flipped on, the text would be transmitted to the server. Doing work online (ie writing blog posts) was, to my knowledge, not common. Back then we also relied on landline phones and couldn't tie them up for an hour.

Now who wants to be an internet historian?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Patriot's Day ACT

This passage is based on material from practice tests and post predrafted on Sept. 10. I took the test this morning at West Potomac High, South Fairfax, VA; the last available site in the Anselmer's sphere of influence.

The ACT is a great relief for the College Board student. Looking at the prep material, there's a greater patriotic element in the literature comprehension selection than in the SAT. On this chain, the ACT also contains more material which the mainstream of collegebound students would find interesting.
Many of my classmates who scored in the 1800's (of 2400 potential) topped 30 (out of 36 potential). The ACT conversion indicates a 27 would be expected. Thus, it's fair to say that you, too, might do better on the ACT. Is it right for everyone, though?
You ought to have taken math through the Algebra 2 level; and had a thorough teacher at that.

Learn to conceal your laughter at bad grammar
You don't need a big lexicon
While reading passages, think of ways you'd shorten the text
Know that the ACT wants you to be succint and direct,like the archetypical American.
You will spend more time with the calculator
Some problems will resemble math class
Don't get discouraged by the dense language of the intercultural reading passage. The ACT only has one.
You should be able to analyse data and make logical leaps as the time presses short

Is it a forewarner of America's future? The science section was designed to be pressed on time, compared to the english and math sections. The math is at a challenging level for most test-takers. Some pundits have used the ACT as positive proof of poor math and scientific ability in American youth!

A teacher who will remain nameless has the tendency to let his students' essay-writing skills deteriorate after 2 semesters. The east coast SAT- slicker may find the transition back to AP's (especially AP English Language!) Not to fret. While the ACT has been favored upon by talent searches such as John Hopkins U's CTY, more east coast colleges have come to accept the test from Iowa.

Friday, September 3, 2010

In DC? Enjoy cooler weather and track work...

In just a few minutes, the eastern branch of the DC Metro's Red Line will close for major overhaul. Having rode the line a few hours ago, nothing seems amiss on the trackbed. This is the trackkeepers' job; to intervene before the bottom falls out. From my engineering-dad's perspective, there will be a fascinating array of work-crews and equipment on the trackbed from 10pm tonight until 5am Tuesday morning. That's 79 hours of intensive care for the tracks that carry hundreds of trains a day.
Most people won't mind, though. They're out of town, far away from the DC Metro and its temporarily truncated service. If all goes well on the tracks this weekend, my Tuesday commute will be a bit better than before.