Apr 26, 2013

Because I'm smart?

For my ASL class, my professor wants us to not only learn sign language, but learn about the culture of Deaf people as well. It's kinda cool, I think. I mean, languages aren't this solitary thing that remain the same across time and space. They differ depending on tons of things: where you are, who you're with, history. It goes on. And it's cool, I like it. It kinda comes with the territory of teaching a foreign language; you also have to teach culture.

When I took French in high school, we went on a field trip to the art museum and a French restaurant every year. In my Chinese class, our professor would tell us countless stories about things she's experienced in her 30 something years living in China. When I taught English in China, we celebrated American holidays. The fun thing about ASL is that there's a Deaf community right here in the states. Madame Guzman could tell us all she wanted about getting lost in the Red Light District at night, and she could try to make the classroom feel like a street in Paris, but she couldn't take us to France and let us experience being in France.

However, since Deaf people are everywhere, their culture is everywhere. And I'm sure it's a different culture here than it is in Africa or Australia, but it's still the actual, living culture here. We can actually experience it, and that's just really fantastic, isn't it?

To ensure that we actually do go out and experience it, Peter (my professor) made it a requirement. You have to go to a Deaf culture event and then write a one-page paper about your experience, how you felt, etc. He, then, as the semester went on, he would announce events here and there that we could go to. Plays, Rockies games, Deaf Community Days, and Old Chicago night.

Most of these things you had to pay to go to. Deaf Community Days was a free event, and Old Chicago is kinda free? You have to pay for your food, but to go is free. For that, everyone meets at one of the Old Chicagos on Thursday at 7. It's kinda nice, except that I work every Thursday, so that's not working out for me. The Deaf Community Day event was on a Saturday (which I also work), but it was easier to find someone who could cover that, and it sounded a little more interesting to me.

Well, that's scheduled for tomorrow, and I was going to go, but on Monday, Peter told us that the person in charge of it emailed him to say it's not really open to ASL students who are just starting out. It's not focused much on ASL, but more on building the Deaf Community. So it's for people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, their friends and family, advocates of Deaf people... basically anyone who actually knows ASL well and wants to be more integrated into the Deaf Community. Not a young ASL student.

So, that left me out of luck. This thing that I've been planning to go to for most of the semester is now not open for me, and there's like 2 weeks left where I have to find something to do and write paper before the semester ends. The tough thing about finding someone to cover my Thursday shift is that's when the Climbing 101 class is, and there's only 4 PFS's who know how to teach it (including me), and we're all pretty busy, so it's difficult to get it covered. But, thankfully, one of them texted me the same Monday I found out I couldn't go to Deaf Commity Days, and asked me to cover his shift on Tuesday, and then he was available to switch for Thursday, leaving me free to go to Old Chicago.

It was probably one of the most fantastic things I've ever done. I met a ton of cool people, I got to practice my sign language in real life (not just in the scripted setting during class), I learned a bunch of new signs, someone gave me a sign name, practiced my reception of fingerspelling, and it was just a fun time in general. At first, I was worried it would be awkward because I'm only in ASL 1. I clearly am not fluent, or even really conversational imo, but it was alright because I wasn't the only student there. I guess kids from CU and Front Range go a lot, and there was actually another couple girls from my class who showed up. One of them is super hard of hearing, and she's really good at sign language, but I suspect she's learned some outside of class. The other girl, Tammy, is pretty good, she's probably in the top 20% of the class, but it was interesting to see how she couldn't quite understand the full scope of what we've learned so far. She still did fine, though, and she had fun.

One of the things that I think was so cool, actually, is how accepting all the Deaf people were of us as ASL students. If there was a word or a sign that I couldn't understand, they would try to rephrase it, and if that didn't work, they would fingerspell it. They were just really accommodating for the ASL impaired people who were there. It was cool. Super friendly people, really happy to help us try to learn more. One time, one of the guys was signing to Tammy, asking her what she's studying in school, and she didn't understand, so she turns around and looks at me slightly panicked, looking for help, but before I could help try to clarify, the guy she's signing with taps her and tell her to calm down, it's ok. He teased her a little for freaking out, told her it's fine, and sat there working with her for a couple minutes to try to get her to understand what he was asking, and then they had a little conversation about that.

There was this one guy, Greg, who was signing with me and he would sign pretty quickly (for me anyway, it was a normal pace for someone who actually knows sign language), and if I had a hard time following, he would slow down, then apologize for going so fast, and then tell me to ask him to slow down next time. So the next time he signed too fast, I signed to him asking him to slow down, please. He laughed, apologized again, and then told me that when he's signing with someone, if they don't know what they're doing, he goes really slow, but if they do know, he speeds up, and so with me he keeps trying to go at a normal pace.

Basically it was just a compliment that I'm good at signing. He asked what school I'm studying ASL at, and then asked where I studied it before. So I told him no where, just Metro. And he was really surprised. He double checked with me that I was just in ASL 1, which I confirmed, then made sure again he understood by asking that it only just started in January? Yes, I confirmed again, that's right. And then he complimented me for being so good at signing with such little time. He asked me why I know sign language so well (probably expecting to hear that my dad is hard of hearing or I have a Deaf friend or something) and I'm just like, "I don't know. Because I'm smart?" He just laughed and agreed, and then I told him I just love languages, and he told me it was quite an accomplishment.

It was a lot of fun, and not terribly far away. We told jokes and stories. I talked about school and animals and religion. I watched a bunch of conversations, some people were talking about a shooting, I'm not sure which, but I think Columbine. It was cool to just hang out. I'd really like to make it a habit to go after work on Thursdays. It would be kinda late, I wouldn't get there until probably somewhere between 9:30 and 10, so I wouldn't get any food, but I could get a drink or something, and then hang out with everyone for a couple hours (it's suddenly really really convenient that I don't have school on Fridays). And then when we redo the schedule in a couple months, I can ask if anyone will trade me for my Thursday shift, and I would be able to spend more time there. Hopefully someone will comply!

Apr 15, 2013

I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection.

Excellence, I can reach for; perfection is God's business.
-Michael J. Fox

So here's the thing with mine and Sara's burger rating adventures. We did something very very wrong. Haha. I loved Five Guys a lot, and yet it only got 3.5 stars. So I reconsidered our criteria, decided what was really important, what should we get rid of, what should be worth more or less, and on and on and on. I tried twisting all the different dimensions in every way I could think of to make Five Guys have a higher rating.

I'm not saying that Five Guys is a five-star burger joint. I'm not even saying that it needs to be our highest choice right now (though, it's the restaurant that I've returned to the most, and the best news I've received all week was that they're opening one in Broomfield!! I'm so excited. I've been waiting for this day for months), but I am saying that under no circumstances should Five Guys be rated the same as Carl's Jr. They just aren't on the same level. And no matter how I manipulate things, I can't make it significantly better than a really average burger place.

We've considered what our problem is. I think part of it is that usually when we go out to eat, we're super hungry, so everything tastes fantastic. That's not really something I want to change, though. But it is something we'll have to be more careful about in the future. But also, I'm not sure we've got the right criteria? I'm questioning everything about it. As a reminder, we have:

  Freshness-- which is definitely important to me.
  Juiciness-- also a good one.
  Deliciousness-- I'm not sure about this one. It seems rather vague.
  [Bun-soakage]-- I don't think I can, in good conscience, have juiciness and bun soakage count for and against a burger. If the burger is really juicy and delicious, it's going to have at least a little bit of a soaked bun, and that necessitates that you cannot physically make a 5-star burger.
  Flavor-awesomeness-- I'm not sure how this one was supposed to be different from deliciousness.
  Uniqueness-- though I think uniqueness might be a good quality, I'm not sure it's fair to include in the rating. What if the best  burger in the world is sold in a restaurant that only has this one burger on the menu, the end? Does that make the burger less perfect?
  Condiment-ratio-- ha. I just have no solid thoughts on this one. It still seems somewhat important, but not terribly so.
  [Greasiness]-- still important to me. I don't want my burgers all gross and dripping and like I need to bring Dawn dish soap with me so I can clean up afterward. Sick.
  Appearance-- this is another one that might be a good quality, but is completely unfair. I'm pretty sure we decided to drop it, but all my notes are currently downstairs.
  Side-dish deliciousness and side-dish uniqueness-- first, I no longer think the side dish should be affecting the burger's score. It's not fair. It has nothing to do with the best burger, it's a side dish. And then there's the same "deliciousness" and "uniqueness" problems as already mentioned.
  Price-- this was another one I remember we decided to drop. I mean, if the best burger in the world is a hundred bucks, it doesn't become less delicious. We'll still mention price range, but it's not a factor in how good a burger tastes.
  Fullness-level-- uh, I'm pretty sure we took this one out. Since we've never gone somewhere and not been full afterward. And it was always tricky because you can either still be hungry when you're done (which is bad) or be satisfied (which is good) or be really full (which can easily be bad). Do you down grade them because there was so much food you felt like your stomach would explode? That's just rude. You can't penalize someone for offering more food than you need. Especially if you were dumb enough to force yourself to eat all of it, even though you were full half way though. You could have stopped sooner and not felt like dying.
  [Messiness]-- messy burgers aren't necessarily a bad thing. They aren't necessarily a good thing either, but I think we took this one out.

So what would make a perfect burger? It has to be fresh. It should be juicy. It shouldn't be overly-greasy (but on the other hand, we need to remember we're eating hamburgers, and it comes with the territory a little), and... what? That's it? General happiness?

Once you get down to it, Sara and I are just going to be starting over. We're scraping what we've done so far, and we're going make a better list of criteria, and (re)rate everything.

Which leaves me asking, what's everyone's thoughts? Do we need more people doing the ratings so we can get a better average? That also means not doing them nearly as frequently because we'll have to coordinate more schedules. What makes a burger great?

Please, tell me your thoughts. I can't do it alone.

Apr 9, 2013

I have seen my future.

Guys, guys. Guys. Hey guys, I have seen my future.

I mean, right? Haha. Glad I'm not alone, at least.

[[Side note! I know it says it's 22 minutes long, and the episode as a whole probably is, but unless you pay for it, it'll only show the first two minutes. Which is conveniently exactly the part I want shown.]]

Apr 2, 2013

If it ain't got that swing.

Not that this has anything to do with anything, but I kinda love swing and jazz music, and I love cookies, and I really miss this commercial. I actually remember when it used to be on TV waaaay back in the day, and I think they should bring it back.

Now I'm going to go eat cookies and listen to some Duke Ellington for my music homework.

I will dream if I want to.

And my death is my own affair.

So I definitely forgot to keep everyone updated on my life decisions. I have the one post talking about my problems and asking for help (thanks to everyone who gave me input, btw! I like not having to face challenges on my own), but then never followed up with what I decided to do.

First, let me just start off with saying, that spring break was last week, and it was wonderful. I originally had great plans to read a lot of books-- I was going to finish Game of Thrones, which I'm borrowing from a friend, and read The Lost Gate-- as well as watch some of my favorite movies-- Footloose, Chocolat. But all that got preempted by school work. Not even school work that's due soon, I was just going to do my outline for the paper I'm writing on GHB, and start reading a book on linguistics of ASL for another paper I need to write in a couple weeks.

And then all of that got preempted, as well, by working. Every day. Except for Friday, the only day I had completely off. And since I didn't have to work or school or any other obligations for just that one day, I decided to sleep, and play WarLight, and look at furniture online.

Anyway, when I took fall semester off, that was all I did then, as well. I worked constantly. I was at the rec center all the time, and I also was teaching anatomy for a few months. And it was a lot of fun, I enjoyed my life then (not to say I don't enjoy it now). But I really loved working all the time and not having to worry about school and due dates and studying, but also not feeling like a bum with nothing productive happening in my life. So it was nice to be able to spend my spring break feeling like that again.

But it sure made me realize how much I miss not being a student. It's alright, though, summer will be here in 5 weeks, plus a few finals.

Moving on to my life decisions, I'm currently trying to get a second job teaching English at DSST. That's the same place I taught anatomy, though if I get the job, they might put me at a different campus. It would be a high school position-- full time-- and I'm super excited for it. I'd get to make my curriculum, which would have to line up with the districts policies and guidelines, but that's fine. My kids will all read Ender's Game, and maybe once the movie comes out on DVD, we'll watch it, too. And then they can write a paper comparing and contrasting the book with the movie!

I actually already have a ton of plans for what kind of assignments I'd want to give them and what sort of books we'd want to read. There's a lot more that would still need to be developed, of course, but that can wait until I get the job. I think I should. I'm qualified for it, and I've worked with them before, and I really love teaching, and I'm an awesome teacher.

So I've applied for that, and I'm waiting for my application to be reviewed, and if I get the job (but I'm really hoping that's more of a when I get the job), I'll be able to afford moving out on my own! I would move to Broomfield, and I would be able to afford a fancy apartment, and it would be lovely.

While I'm teaching English, I would keep my job at the rec center, but my boss would probably let me go down to one day a week (especially if I picked up some more shifts during school breaks, which is when we get really busy anyway). And I'm still going to be taking a night/evening class (maybe two next spring, but definitely just the one class for fall) so that way I don't lose my standing at school, and I'll slowly-- really really slowly-- earn my degree.

If I don't get this job, then I'll take some classes this fall, but it'll be a lighter load anyway. Probably only 3 or 4 classes. I'll keep working only at the rec center, and move out to a less fancy apartment with a roommate or two. And I'll try reapplying for future English teaching jobs at DSST, because I paid a lot of money to take my Praxis, and I don't want it to go to waste.

As far as what my degree would be, this is actually my third time writing this ending because I changed my mind a couple times. This answer is even different from what I told Chaelomen not two days ago when he asked me, I realized that I think chemistry and physics is really interesting, and I love learning it, but it's always something I've been more interested in when I'm just talking to Chaelomen or my other science friends. I always like learning about criminalistics (which unfortunately isn't offered as its own major at Metro, otherwise I'd be allll over that), but the strictly science-y part has always been most interesting to me when it was something I could take for fun.

Not that I want to completely give up chemistry and physics, and I'm not actually 100% yet, so I might not give up chemistry at all, but I think I'm leaning toward majoring in linguistics with a double minor in criminalistics and psychology, plus taking a chemistry or physics class each semester just for fun. There's a really cool physics of music class I would want to take, and since I'll have all the prereqs for it I would also definitely take survey of p chem. You know, just whatever sounded interesting.

I definitely want to clarify that this isn't something I decided to change so that I would have an easier degree. Maybe it started that way, but I think that's why I was so conflicted about changing. I was trying to convince myself it would be a good idea to change something I loved and found a little challenging (chemistry) for something I liked alright and found easy (modern languages). The degree of my excitement was decreased, and coupling that with how much easier it would be made me feel like a sell-out. But linguistics isn't like that. I looked at all the classes that are offered for the degree there, and they're all super interesting for me. Latin, syntax, semantics.  I once spent like three hours on a Saturday morning trying to figure out the rules for Eastern Street Slang (a fictional slang that's almost its own language from Mistborn) and working on translating it to English and vice versa. Now, I'd be switching out one thing I love for something else I love. The easiness of it isn't even a consideration anymore.

If I get this job teaching, though, that's going to limit what classes I can take, but at least I'm starting to have a path to follow again. I finally have dreams to pursue.