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Oh, I’m definitely doing this
Jul 4th, 2009 by alexfaye

Create a blog or Facebook page for a character.  This one here:  Gregor Samsa from Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis.  My AP students will be choosing a character from Brave New World…what a great idea.  I just have to figure out the logistics…should be easy enough.

Big Project #1
Jul 4th, 2009 by alexfaye

Here is what I am doing, and it seems like the right way to go about it, but who knows? I have little experience in these matters.

  1. Use high pressure setting on hose to wash down wooden patio furniture.  Use brush to get cobwebs, smog, and other smud off.  Let it dry.
  2. The pieces we are talking about are:  round table, four benches, adriondack chair and ottoman, chair, side table.  9 pieces.  Good grief!
  3. Snap “before” photo.
  4. Use the sander to smooth out rough spots.  I don’t think I want to try to go down to the bare wood!  But maybe I will have to.  Gosh, I hope not.
  5. Lay down a tarp to protect the bricks, and brush on the new Olympic redwood semi-transparent stain and wood sealer.  Let it dry.
  6. Evaluate.  Discuss.
  7. Snap “after” photo.

If this works, you know what’s going to be Big Project #2?  THE REDWOOD GARAGE DOOR.  It’s a mess, but it could, maybe, be beautiful again with a little work.  Then, after that? My kitchen hutch.  I’d like to sand the sealer off, get to the bare wood, and stain it green (I’d like the wood grain to show, and I saw both a green and a yellow stain that was attractive, that would work) and replace the white ceramic knobs with faceted glass knobs.  I’m sure I’ll be writing about this as I go along.  I’ve never been very handy, but I want to learn.

I’ll never forget when Carlos and I got that hutch at the unfinished furniture store when we were first married.  It seemed like such an adult purchase, and I do believe it was the first piece of new furniture I ever picked out and purchased — everything else had been inherited or scavanged.  We were living in that little one bedroom apartment on Ocean Blvd, and expecting Maddy.  I was enormous — feeling very unattractive and having a hard time getting around.  Carlos had agreed to brush a coat of sealant on the wood, although he confessed that he didn’t see the point, and was just doing it to humor me.  In Southern California, we often will have a bright, sunny day in the middle of January or February, so he hauled the thing out onto the patio, took his shirt off, and got to work.  About an hour later, he came in, all happy and sunny and brown and said to me, his big pregnant wife, “Boy! If I would have known that working on furniture would attract so many women, I would have been doing stuff like this all along! Man! I must have talked to a dozen different women in the last hour!”  Oh, Carlos.  Sweet, helpful, and sort of dumb about what his very pregnant wife would want to hear.  More than twenty years later, I look at that hutch and remember that afternoon.  Yep.  Time to refinish it.

I will paint this on my wall somewhere
Jul 2nd, 2009 by alexfaye

earth+and+sun

This reminds me of how I want to live.  I want to see it everyday.

7/2: a Golf lesson with Bob Silver
Jul 2nd, 2009 by alexfaye

The thing about golf is simplicity.  Every time there is an errant shot, for me at least, it is usually because there is more movement in the body than what is needed to properly execute the shot.

Bob has been telling me to “put my mind into my hands,” and today — finally — I think I understand.  If I make sure my hands are moving around my body properly, the club will naturally follow.  I don’t have to think about the club head or the club face.  I have to put a natural, relaxed grip on the club, and trust the fact that my hands will direct my body — that is, my body will follow my arms, and my arms will follow my hands.  So, I am thinking — during practice at least — only of my hands.  It is simple, and I like that.

He also asked me to visualize a rug hanging in front of me like a curtain, right about at my left toe.  When I come through the ball at impact, I want to make sure that I lay the entire shaft of the club on the rug — not just the club head.  All of the action — the empowered core muscles, the relaxed and neutral shoulders, the steady head, the extended arms — all of that is happening at impact, in front of the body.  The power is at impact and through the ball — not behind the ball, when all of the action of taking the club away and through is generating motion. That must be consistent, of course.  All practice done there is in creating a consistent and steady tempo that will deliver the hands to this one, simple and specific spot.

He taught me a drill today that I know will revolutionize my swing.  Keep in mind that my swing is already pretty good.  I am mid-range golfer, a 17-18 handicap, shooting consistently in the 90s — but like all golfers, I want to move to the next level– and for me, that’s the 80s.  I believe I have fifteen to twenty good years left where I can perform at that level, assuming of course that I at least maintain my current level of fitness, or even improve.  I continue to work on strength and flexibility — cardiovascular fitness has become a no brainer.  But the other aspects of fitness are always a challenge, and there’s always room for improvement.

Anyway, the drill.  Bob asked me to grip the club right above the club head, letting the shaft extend out at the left of my body, and then just swing the club, not letting the shaft touch my body.  (This is what John Wurzer had me doing in his Golf Excellence lab except he had inserted a thin dowel into the grip of the club, and I was gripping and swinging the club normally, trying to avoid hitting myself with that dowel.)  This keeps the club shaft in the proper position, forbids the wrists from becoming too frisky while still remaining “oily,” and puts the hands on the proper path.

It sounds complicated, but it’s not.   It’s much simpler to perform a good golf swing this way, with less action in the arms.  The power comes from the pivot and the core, and the control comes from the hands.  More practice this afternoon — trying to put this sequence into muscle memory so that out on the course, the mind remains simple and calm, focused on the sheer pleasure of the game.

What I’m reading
Jul 1st, 2009 by alexfaye

This one from the UK seems obvious:   Google is forcing us to change our habits.  This article dovetails beautifully with what my students are reading this summer in Neil Postman’s book, Amusing Ourselves to Death. [As an aside, we have a book club at my school, and this summer we are reading Postman’s The End of Education. I’m in the middle first chapter, and as always, I am finding Postman fascinating.  I will write about that book here as I make my way through it.]

And I’m on Twitter quite a bit this summer, chasing down trends in education and technology, so I found this interesting about professors using Twitter in the classroom. We are in the middle of what they call Convergence Culture — or what Alvin Toffler described in his book The Third Wave (1980) — when a new wave (of technology) comes in, previous waves don’t just leave or die out. They thrive on their own terms, and they interact, provide resistance, provide support to new waves…so as new technologies come online, the old ones do not disappear — nor should they! You won’t find me arguing for the Kindle over the book. You’ll find me wanting the Kindle AND the book.

I am someone with one foot firmly planted in both worlds. I am constantly pushing my colleagues and peers toward technology while advising my students to back off. Oh! Speaking of that…here’s another little something by Howard Rheingold about Crap Detecting — the all important skill for young people to develop. In a world with everything at one’s fingertips, what is real? What is useful? What is valuable? And what is — well…crap?

[I crossposted a version of this at the AP Bloggers site.]

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