Archive for the ‘Perspectives’ Category

WordPress offers a daily writing prompt and today, the prompt “Connect the Dots” invited me to find an uninteresting news article and tell how it relates to my life. Ouch.

I could spend the entire day reading articles. I’ve never found one that is totally uninteresting. Maybe that’s because I love information. I’m the ultimate collector of information. Today, I took an 8th grade quiz from 1912 on the Christian Science Monitor website and I now know the geographic location of Montenegro, who discovered the Mississippi River, and confirmed that I know the purpose of the liver and kidneys in the human body.

I also learned that at least one group thinks that bullying can be stopped by teaching empathy, not respect (oookay), that I really do want an Xbox One and huge TV, and the NOAA is quashing rumors of a huge island of tsunami debris floating off the West Coast of the continental United States (whew! I was worried about that).

Somehow, the obituary section of the Daily Independent in Ashland, Kentucky made it to the Bing news feed. While this may not seem relevant to me, it does remind me that I need to call my mom, connect with a relative who has a lot of genealogy information, and live well while I can.

The Daily Post: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/11/08/daily-prompt-connection-2/

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How To Survive a Sociopath Boss

I once had a boss who is described in this article. But the crazy thing was, I really liked and respected him. I even defended him when coworkers would vent. Have you ever had a boss that everyone else in the office hated?

Affecting the Passage of Time

Posted: September 27, 2013 by Nerdy Woman in Perspectives
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1302896127_1c17156215When I was a child, there were few things that could wake me before sunrise and the rest of the family. Christmas morning. A trip to Disneyland. The first day of school. It seemed I had to wait, not for the event, but for other people. Gifts could be unwrapped, the road trip begun, the breakfast eaten and preparations done as soon as other people were ready to participate. Time passed ever so slowly.

As an adult, I discovered joy in fishing. Not the constant activity of fly fishing or deep-sea fishing, but the languid stillness of lake fishing. For those who haven’t done this, it requires two things: patience and stubbornness. Waiting. Waiting for the telltale bend of the tip of the rod, waiting for a sign that a fish had taken the bait. Living on a lake, I fished often and there were many days when the fervently sought movement never came. The sun would be well up before I conceded the fish had been smarter than me that day. Time passed much too quickly.

Perhaps it is an unwritten universal law: If you are waiting to do something, whether it is work or play or going home at the end of the week, time passes slowly. If you are doing something, the clock races and you find yourself wanting (or needing) more time for the activity.

Perhaps the secret to waiting is busyness. Stop sitting and staring at the clock. Do something. Time will fly by and the waiting is past.

The hours and days run together.
I would not know time except for
The light and the dark and
The numbers on the wall.

Submitted to The Daily Post: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/09/27/daily-prompt-waiting/

I Don’t Want to Learn, I Want to Do

Posted: September 22, 2013 by Nerdy Woman in Perspectives
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When I was 8 years old, I told my mom I wanted to play the piano. She would say she was never an accomplished pianist, but to me, she had an amazing talent. I’d watch her fingers fly across the keyboard and hear music, wonderful music. I wanted to be able to do that.

Mom immediately signed me up for piano lessons. Since she worked, I had to walk to the piano teacher’s house. It seemed like a very long distance, but was probably only 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile away. Back then, parents didn’t worry about children being snatched off the street by strangers.

I kept up the lessons for a few weeks, but was frustrated. The finger positioning drills, the basic scales, learning music notation… that wasn’t what I had in mind. I wanted to make music like my mother did. Some years later, I realized the problem was that I wanted to play the piano, not learn to play the piano.

There are many talents which I wish I possessed without the baby steps needed to improve. I wish I could draw and paint. I even took drawing class in college, but the result did not reveal any innate talent. It’s something I should have continued to struggle through.

Both Nerdy Girl and I are perfectionists. We have a picture in our mind’s eye of how something should be. When our efforts are less than perfect, there is frustration and disappointment.

And yet… I sew. I can make beautiful things with fabric. When someone admires the skill (remember skill is learned, talent is a gift), I tell them they can do it, but must decide from the start that the first five garments they make will never be worn in public. They are practice pieces. Ill-fitting and imperfect.

In the end, we should all do what we love. I wouldn’t call myself a talented writer, but I love to write. Does my writing improve with practice? Maybe. Maybe not. I love to sing. That I know is not one my talents, but I do it for myself. And perhaps that is the best reason to do anything, perfect or not.

Submitted to: The Daily Post http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/09/22/daily-prompt-talent/

To Be a Teacher

Posted: September 21, 2013 by Nerdy Woman in Perspectives
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readlistThe word teacher may evoke fond memories or make you shudder in horror. The best teachers are people with great curiosity, interested in learning new things for themselves, and able to encourage the same in other people.

A great teacher must have imagination, able to translate the most complex information into something that makes sense to the learner. To do that, they must understand learning styles because not every learner assimilates information in the same way.

A great teacher is resourceful. Whether it’s using the internet or applying for grants or taking advantage of a cloudy sky to teach about cloud types and weather, teaching requires using every tool available to spark enthusiasm and encourage curiosity.

I remember every one of my elementary school teachers. Only one could be said to be a nightmare, the kind that would be a caricature in a teen angst movie. Sixth grade. She gave me my first F grade. Penmanship. Why? Because I’m left-handed but didn’t write with a backslant. My penmanship was perfect for a right-handed person. I was devastated.

Nerdy Girl’s third-grade teacher is a great teacher. She teaches gifted education in a public school district where money goes to those with learning disabilities, not those who are above-average learners. She recognizes individuality in her students. During quiet study time, Nerdy Girl was disruptive and talkative. The solution? Allow Nerdy Girl to have an MP3 player. Why? Because if Nerdy Girl was listening, she wasn’t talking.

I think Bill Gates would be an excellent teacher. In his book, The Road Ahead (1995), he explained binary numbers in such a way that, for the first time, it was easy for me to understand. He takes complex information and translates it into a simple idea.

I think I’m a good teacher although Nerdy Girl is sometimes amazed at the things I find interesting and worth learning about. I remember encouraging her to read. I did what my fourth-grade teacher did… I read the first chapter of a good book and then set it aside. Nerdy Girl was 6 years old and finished Charlotte’s Web in less than a day. From that day forward, she couldn’t get books fast enough.

A great teacher doesn’t have to know everything about a subject to have credibility. Sometimes, it’s okay to be willing to learn with the student. Bring the resources, the curiosity, the ability to restate concepts in other ways, and the genuine desire to know all that is worth knowing.

Submitted to: Daily Posts http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/09/21/daily-prompt-greatness/

I’ve often wondered how much large companies budget for customer satisfaction handlers. You know, the people who respond when customers complain. Of course, those same people would also respond if you were to send a compliment to the company, but I doubt the company spends any time training them how to do that. Oh, but wouldn’t such a thing make their day?

We’re quick to complain when someone does something wrong, something that displeases us, something that does not meet our expectations. And maybe that last is the crux of it. We expect products to be as advertised. We expect people we work with to look professional and do their jobs. So why don’t we acknowledge companies and people who exceed our expectations rather than only speaking up when they fall short?

Exhale. Look around. Find something that pleases or amuses you. It could be the receptionist who looks professional instead of punk today. Or the Hugh Laurie music playing while you wait in line at Starbucks. Anything. And the day is already a little bit better.

Now, take 5 seconds to tell the receptionist she looks nice. It is NOT harassment to compliment her. She probably agonized for 2 hours getting ready for work, hoping her new appearance would be noticed. And when she smiles, you’ll feel better.

If you’re the boss, acknowledge extra effort from everyone. Let them know they’re appreciated. It’s worth more than a raise in pay.

Dash off an e-mail to a company whose product exceeds your expectations. It won’t take but a minute. It will feel awkward, maybe even goofy, but somewhere out there, your message will be read and a stranger will smile. I’ll bet you’ll be smiling, too.

Ah, we’ve probably all uttered those famous last words. At the Manchester City Games, the people responsible for setting up the hurdles might have said them. They were wrong. Setting up nine sets of hurdles instead of ten led to embarrassment, frustration, and disappointment.

Jessica Ennis won the race. Her time of 12.75 seconds was a personal best. Then an astute runner in the audience counted the hurdles… Event organizers issued profound apologies but, well, it’s not like they could request a do-over. What if another runner won? Jessica Ennis wouldn’t be any happier. I suppose the other runners could request a do-over, but since they were competing against one another and all jumped the same number of hurdles and ran the same distance, Ennis earned her 1st place finish.

With London hosting the Olympics next month, perhaps it is a good thing that this happened. Well, not for Manchester or Jessica Ennis or her competitors, but for the Olympics. Nothing eliminates complacency and encourages diligence like a really bad mistake.

While a job well done isn’t always noticed (those hurdle guys don’t get a lot of appreciation if they do it right), a mistake can be your undoing. Pay attention to the details! No matter what you do, it’s more important than you think.