Voracious desire to learn…

What I remember most about my mom was that she loved children and that she was a teacher. From before I even went to school, there were kids and babies underfoot in our house. When I was really little until about second grade, my mom ran a day care in our house. I had a love/hate relationship with her job. I loved the constant and instant access to playdates and friends. I can still remember the names of the children and some of our many adventures on our back porch, quasi above ground pool, outside riding bikes, etc. Even the time when one of the boys proposed to me and gave me a ring, (yes I guess courting starts young doesn’t it?) What I hated – was that I had to share my toys, my bedroom (babies sleeping), and my mom when I came home from school at the end of the day.

A few years later she moved to her main love, teaching elementary school. Again, I had a love/hate relationship. When I was in second grade, she was the secondary teacher in the “other” second grade classroom. For anyone who knows what it was like to have your mom teach in your school, or be highly involved in your school, there were times when you loved that they were nearby, and other times when you were going through growing pains, teased, or gaining your own independence, that you wished you were dropped off at school only to see them at the end of the day.

Either way, we do not get to pick what our parents do for a living or how they are present (or not) in our life. We do eventually have the opportunity to look in hindsight and see what we learn, or how these experiences evolve us into the people we are today. I am grateful to have had those years with my mom, watching her extreme patience (I wish I was granted with such patience). She valued education and learning and even now thinking about it, she got her masters in teaching in her forties, not an easy feat with three growing kids and a job. Maybe that is why I have such a voracious desire to constantly learn new things.

I am not a teacher. I absolutely love children, but I do not think I would have the patience to spend my day in a classroom and then come home sane to my family. I admire, commend, and appreciate each and every individual that teaches in a classroom. You shape the world for so many little (and not so little) beings each and every day. Thank you, mom, for teaching me to solve problems, crave ideas, and to continuously try new things. Miss you.

Have you Spritzed yet?

Have you heard of Spritz? A new app and technology that allows you to speed read. Spritz, the company that invented “Spritzing” defines it as: “…reading text with Spritz Inc.’s patent-pending technology. When you’re spritzing, you’re reading text one word at a time in our “redicle,” a special visual frame we designed for reading.”

I have tried the examples and am interested, although I have to say it does make my head spin a bit. Your eyes do not have to move back and forth across the page, rather your eyes stay in the exact same place and the words move fast right in front of you. Allowing you to focus on the words and thus read faster. Elite Daily explains it well:

“The “Optimal Recognition Point” (ORP) is slightly left of the center of each word, and is the precise point at which our brain deciphers each jumble of letters. The unique aspect of Spritz is that it identifies the ORP of each word, makes that letter red and presents all of the ORPs at the same space on the screen. In this way, our eyes don’t move at all as we see the words, and we can therefore process information instantaneously rather than spend time decoding each word.”

You can try it for yourself on the Spritz website – just “click to Spritz” on the top right part of the page. Here is more Q + A on Spritzing. Currently this technology is only available on the Gear2 and S5 Samsung phones. I have to say it does sort of remind me of Chuck. Did you ever watch that TV show? He would put on these glasses to review intel that would go into his brain very, very fast, and sometimes it effected him for the worse. Are we to the place where we have to absorb words so fast we no longer “read?” Is curling up with a good book a thing of the past? 

What do you think about Spritz?

High heels, sore feet, and kids with books

On Friday, we had the opportunity to go to the “2014 SMART Gala: Dinner, Auction and ‘Make a Difference’ Paddle Raise.” There were a few reasons I was interested in going. One, we never dress up. Last October, Chris purchased his first suit ever in the decade + we have been married, and I purchased a sassy dress, and gulp: high heels. I am not a high heel kind of woman. I think there was a time in my life when I might have gone down that yellow brick road, but that time has long passed. I can manage in high heels for a few hours, but the end of that night means a foot massage is due. I seriously do not know how Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda did it for so many years, especially in New York City. My own experience concludes that a city block in New York is much longer than a city block in Portland.

I digress. The dressing-up part was fun, and I was hoping to end up with some glamorous photos of me and my better half, but the lighting sucked. So here is a so/so photo. So back to the Gala. The second reason I was interested in going is the charity event itself. SMART stands for Start Making A Reader Today, here is an excerpt from their website:

“One child at a time. One volunteer at a time. One book at a time. Since 1992, SMART has been pairing caring, adult volunteers with children in need of reading support and books to take home and keep. SMART volunteers read one-on-one with students weekly during the school year, modeling a love of reading and building children’s reading skills and self-confidence in a positive, child-driven environment.”

The event included a silent auction, raffle, and live auction, and at the end of the night they had estimated that we raised over $400,000! I was impressed with the span of ages, and the amount of money that was dropped in the name of literacy. One couple gave $25,000 and offered to match another $25,000 if enough folks contributed during that auction — and they did. Timber Joey (the Portland Timbers mascot) was in attendance, and was part of the live auction. The prize? Timber Joey and one of the players would come and read at the school of your choice.

Such fun. I am grateful for all the individuals that donated money to support children, books, and reading. A cause near and dear to my heart.

Apply to college to graduate high school

One day last week, not long after I arrived at work, a story came on the television that airs the news or sports game in my team’s workspace. They mentioned a high school in Oregon that requires students to apply to college in order to graduate from high school. A few of us that were working away look up to the screen and want to more about the story. Why? Because the school was near us in Portland. I was intrigued. A high school in the Columbia River Gorge (about and hour east of Portland) in the Corbett School District may mandate this ruling for graduation. They want to make sure that students have options for their future. It made me wonder, do some students not know how, or have the support to apply to college, so they just do not even try?

I can remember in high school struggling to figure out the matrix of applying to colleges. For a few reasons. My mom had passed on 1.5 years before and she would have most likely helped me (or so I think). My dad was not really involved in my life at that time. I also did not have the money to send away to a bunch of colleges and universities in the form of an application fee. I had no idea what I wanted to do after college, or what type of school I wanted to go to. So what did I do? I applied to a few local colleges that had no application fee, and I applied to a university affiliated with my high school (again no application fee) to see if I would get in and potentially they could help me with financial aid. Did I really look at my options? No. Did anyone really help me? No. It was in my high school’s best interest for me to get into the affiliated college. They did next to nothing to help me find a school based on my interests. I am not sure the career office even checked in with us to see if we had applied anywhere.

What happened to me? I went to the college affiliated with my high school. I was actually fortunate to receive a large financial aid package based on my family situation. Do I regret it? Yes, and no. I received a good education, but half way through college I wondered what direction my life would have taken if someone had helped me to select a college that was just right for me. Even if it was in the middle of Montana. I worked hard, got good grades, learned a lot, but I often wonder what might life could have looked like with just a bit of guidance.

Oh and in case you are wondering. The Corbett School District indicates that this new requirement would mean that students have to get into a secondary school, however, just because they are accepted, does not mean that they actually have to go. The school will also help to pay for any application fees incurred. So students would learn about themselves along the way, and who knows maybe there are millions of individuals out there that never went to college because there was no one to help them navigate the landscape. Maybe this requirement will set expectations for students to work hard and try to get into college, and maybe their life will be changed because of it. Oh, and by the way, this high school was ranked the fifth best in the nation by Newsweek in 2010, so maybe they are on the right path.

Further reading: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/12/corbett-graduation-requirement_n_4088775.html

Serial Comma User

Are you a serial comma user? I am. Do you know what it means to be a serial comma user? I did a bit of research to figure out whether there was a right or wrong way (or a right side and a wrong side) of the serial comma discussion. There are two camps. The one that says you should use the comma and the one that says it is not necessary, but no clear direction either way. A few months ago I finished reading the book: “How to Not Write Bad” by Ben Yagoda. This is what he says about commas:

“In a series of three or more items, do you put a comma after the penultimate one (right before the and or or)? That’s another trick question. If you are writing for the Associated Press, the answer is no. If you are writing for the New Yorker or the Oxford University Press, the answer is yes. (The OUP is so well known for this protocol that it has come to be referred to as ‘the Oxford comma.’) If you’re writing for yourself, the key thing–as in style choices generally–is consistency: choose a style you like, and stick with it.” page 51

I prefer to add the extra comma for clarity sake, but some have been trained from earlier on in school or their career to handle the serial comma a specific way. It messes with me a bit because I feel that there should be a clear rule on serial comma usage. I know you may think, seriously, Tami is this what you think about? But when thinking about business or corporate communications one wants to follow a standard, but if there is no standard…what is one to do?

Here are a few different takes on serial comma usage. Wikipedia and then an article from NPR. I agree with Yagoda, that when writing for yourself to choose consistency, but I think it really should be the same at work, regardless of if you work for the Oxford University Press, or the Oregonian. Why am I for the comma before the and/or? I feel like when you are listing it, if there is no comma where there should be one that it groups the words together. I will give you and example from “Grammar Girl:”

“Here’s a sentence that could mean different things with and without the final comma: Rebecca was proud of her new muffin recipes: blueberry, peanut butter and chocolate chip and coconut. Without a serial comma, you can’t be sure whether the last recipe is a combination of peanut butter and chocolate chip or a combination of chocolate chip and coconut.”

It is the little things, but sometimes the little things build up over time. Right? What do you think?