Friday, December 21, 2012

Life Update Blog – 21 December 2012 – APOCALYPSE EDDITION!

What’s up with me?

For the first year of my life in Seattle, I worked at a childcare center, in a room with 14 one-year-olds. It was depressing and hard work, but I survived. I quit, wrote a book, then got a new job.


also, I met this Lando guy, who produced a little movie called Avatar
It only took me 18 days to find work (which felt like record-time for finding a job).

I resumed writing like a mad man after my successful interview, and on October 21, I put an ending on my novel. It was definitely one of the top achievements of my life.

On October 23rd, I started working at a Big Box Retail Store. I kept applying during my time there (I hate retail, but I wanted to start making money ASAP), to hopefully find something better, which I did. I jumped from that retail job after another successful interview, and now I am working for a local Movie Theatre. I’m getting almost full time hours there, and me and the wife are enjoying the benefits of having free movies whenever we want (which saves us a lot of $$$ on date nights, lol). Also, it’s kinda fun working for a Theatre, because it feels like putting on a show (I used to be a part of a few Dramatic Theatre groups).


At the moment, I’m working my ass off at the Movie Theatre and working my ass off on editing my novel in my free time. After I’ve finished my first set of edits, I’m going to send it to a few of my friends and get some feedback. As the feedback comes in, I will do more editing on my novel. Rinse and repeat, until it is a very shiny document.

Next year, I’m planning on beginning my writing career beyond just my novel. I don’t know exactly how that will happen. Not all of the details on that are complete, though I do have great leads. I know that finishing my novel was the important first step, for me. I had to get that out; the art was screaming at me to create it.

In any time I am not at the Movie Theatre, however, I know I want to try my hand at freelance writing to bring in some extra bucks. Having a job that keeps me late at night is good for this, as I write best in the mornings and during the day (so the day is my own). I want to have a side job, writing on my own time. I also want to build an online presence with social media and blogging. That part will increase for me once I’ve sent my novel out to my beta readers. 



not a brony, not a brony
I also want to start working on other writings, whether it is short stories, poetry, or another novel. I have ideas for all formats, but this is just another cut of my time (that will have to wait for my finished novel to be sent to my betas). For my art time, I know that getting my finished novel published will be the top priority.

Now that I work downtown again, I’ve been doing a lot of reading (I always read on the bus). I finished a friend’s novel, started on another friend’s novel, halfway through the Silmarillian, working on SK’s The Stand, and have dabbled in JKR’s The Casual Vacancy. I’m a spastic reader, and I usually read a bunch of books all at once (for my different moods).

So, that’s me now and my immediate future. You have been updated, officially.




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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Response to Jazz Music

This was an essay I had to write for class, responding to Kind of Blue by Miles Davis. In it, I pretty much explained why I dislike most jazz music. I’m sure you can find the tracks that I talk about on Youtube. I have since modified this essay to a blog format.

To really understand why I hate jazz music, I have to explain one of the fundamental attributes to my existence. I am an extreme visual thinker. In my experience, most people really don’t understand what all comes with being a visual thinker (even though they think they do), so I am going to explain something: Visual vs. audio thinking doesn’t always mean what people’s eyes see vs. what their ears hear. Visual vs. audio thinking is almost absolutely dealing with the conceptual visual and audio that formulates inside of my brain. Often that is a direct translation of what sense organs capture, but it is always a lens over the associations created by the signals the brain is receiving from the sense organs, even if that sense is audio, taste, touch, etc. So when I listen to music I enjoy, it is because that music stimulates my visual thinking.


I am a musician, and when I let fly my fingers across my guitar, I see patterns on the frets. I visualize lines crossing, drawing pictures on the instrument and formulating riffs that become music. When I compose a song, I visualize the different sections of the song like a sliding puzzle. I push a verse here, I slide a chorus there. It’s literally something I visualize. My brain applies a filter to music wherein I can see it. I instinctively interpret music through my “visual” filter.

hit the jump for the rest!

This is about my life and other random stuff

I wanted to create one more blog for my network, which will house all of the random topics I've considered but did not write because it didn't categorize into one of my current blogs. There will probably be a lot of posts about music on here, as I love performing. I will also repost a few of my taste disorder blogs, and anything else random like that!

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me a long time ago, looking cool in my rented tux for prom

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Will a childcare / nursery / learning center / preschool provide your kid with the social interactions your kid needs? Should I just hire a nanny?


Short answer: It depends

Children who interact socially with other kids and adults will grow up to be better at interacting within the world as adults. However, I say “it depends” mainly because there is an age line. 

This is not scientific, but based off of my person experiences with kids I’ve worked with in daycare. Use this for your own personal ideas: Young toddlers and babies DO NOT need social interactions with others their own age. They need 1 on 1 time with an adult figure. I would say that children don’t benefit much from a full class of other kids until they hit about 2 years of age. 

Hit the jump for more on this!

Babies and toddlers don’t interact with others, much. Honestly, they hardly notice that other kids are in the room. A 1 year old will bite another child, not because he’s mean but because he’s teething or experimenting with his mouth. Toddlers don’t make friends. They don’t form relationships like more advanced kids do. They don’t remember when another child is missing. They don’t really care.

For a baby or a child under 2, I would say a nanny is always a better bet. Personal time is far more beneficial for little ones.

But, this completely changes at about the age of 2 to 2 and a half. Starting then, children DO NEED and DESIRE social interactions with others their own age, and they will be developmentally disadvantaged not to be in a classroom situation.

If you’ve had a nanny, and your child turns 3… It’s time. Nanny is great and all, but your kid needs to know the outside world. Your kid needs preschool. Don’t shelter them, or they will end up being socially awkward. 


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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Passing English Class Writing Series: The Difference Between an Argumentative Essay and a Report


It doesn’t matter if you’re in high school or college, to write an argumentative essay—a collection of paragraphs that makes a point, you need understand the difference between what makes your paper a worthless piece of fodder and a shining example for the rest of the class. I can tell you what that difference is: YOU!

Children write reports when they’re told to write essays. They list a bunch of facts that, at best, makes an all-too-obvious argument. For example:
 
Did you know that there are only 1,600 giant pandas left in the world? I believe that Pandas great and should be saved. People destroy 300 acres of natural forestland every year. This means that there is less room for pandas to live.

Let me be honest, if you’re above the age of 16, you should not be writing like this, but I can help you improve. Let’s look at the argument, which is:
I believe that Pandas great and should be saved. That is technically an argument, but tell me, is that a good argument? Would you read that? If more than 80 percent of the world agrees with what you have to say, then to whom are you really arguing against?

Hit the jump for the rest!

Pandas ARE great and most people would agree that they should be saved. Let’s be blunt—if hardly anyone would argue against you, then you’re not making an essay-worthy argument. Without an interestingargument, you’re making fodder.

Now, if you want to stand out in your English classes, if you want to pass with the +A, then give the teacher something that he’ll enjoy reading
. Many teachers will grade you higher if you’re making an interesting or bold statement (even if they disagree with you!), as long as you’re using sound logic to back up your argument.

Children report on tired topics through essays, but
adults make NEW ideas through essays. Use yourself. Write something ONLY YOU would have considered writing. Make an argument that teeters on the line of what most people would think it truth or normal. For example:

People destroy 300 acres of natural forestland every year. This means that there is less room for giant pandas to live. I believe we can solve this problem by breeding giant pandas to be smaller in size, and therefore they will take up less space in our shrinking environment.
 
 Now this argues for something perhaps the reader would not have been expecting. Shrinking down pandas to make way for deforestation? Sounds crazy, but as a student you can (and should!) make the craziest claims you want as long as you back up your argument with tons of facts that support your argument. High schools and colleges are places to experiment with writing. Make bold, unique claims. Step out of the zone you find comfortable. You’ll be thankful you did.

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Monday, October 8, 2012

Parental Protips: 5 Things to Do to Win Over a Teacher That Hates Your Kid


Teachers are human beings and so are your kids. Like in any social situation, some personalities just don’t mix well, and sometimes you might have to deal with a particular teacher that simply can’t stand your child. Maybe that teacher is just an asshole. Maybe your student isn’t as angelic when you’re not around. If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll probably find that it’s a combination of both.

However, success in a class can often be tied to the relationship a teacher has with their student. Students will not listen to teachers they hate; they will tie the subject matter to their feelings for the teacher. On the other hand, teachers who like their students will often fudge grades up a few points just to move a minus to a plus. They will spend extra time on students they like. They will provide extra chances, test retakes, or accept late work more often. I’m not saying any of these are exactly moral practices, but it’s realistic. It happens whether its moral or not, and it’s next to impossible to prove in an argument.

But I’m not here to preach ethics; I’m here to drive your student’s success.

So, what can you do about it? Well, I’m going to list a 5 actions you can take as a parent to improve the relationship between the student and the teacher.

1. Realize that ideally, the teacher would be beyond happy to be loved by your kid and pass them with an A ++++. 
No teacher WANTS to have a bad relationship with their students. Some teachers don’t care if it’s great, but none of them actively want to be hated. I know this goes both ways, but let’s face it; you’re already in your kid’s tank. I don’t have to beg you to love your kid, but it will take a little work to make you love your kid’s teachers. Just, try to understand them. Jobs, no matter how fun they can be, will suck sometimes.

2. Remember Christmas, Teacher’s Appreciation Week, Halloween, and bring in cupcakes on your kid’s birthday.This might seem shallow, but for real: teachers love chocolate, coffee, and stupid little mementoes. Last Teacher’s Appreciation Week, I got tons and tons of 5-dollar giftcards to Starbucks, and you know, I just might have felt a little better about the respective students in my class because of it. You tip the waiter at Red Robin 7 bucks, surely you can find it in you to tip the one who mentors your kid every single day the price of a coffee at Starbucks, and that teacher will remember you for it. Also, if you make enough cupcakes for Mr. Sourface to have one as well, he will think of you for it. Heck, swirl his/her name on it with frosting. Make it about him, even though it’s your kid’s birthday. You won’t regret it. You’ll be surprised how long some teachers will keep Christmas cards, and every time they see it they will remember the name of your student. Doing little stupid things for a teacher can add up.

3. Try to talk with the teacher first, not the principal. Going to the principal is like going to the teacher’s manager. Ask yourself, do you really need to go behind the teacher’s back? Is there really no other resolution? Just try talking with the teacher first, and don’t get all emotional. State things in a matter-of-factly way. Be blunt. Write down your points or thoughts if you need to, and follow it up with, “How can we work together to solve this problem?” Remember this, Teacher+Parent=Success and Teacher÷Parent=Struggle. Fighting with a teacher does absolutely nothing for you or your kid. You’ll only have that teacher for a short time in the span of your life. A semester, a year. Small unit of time, trust me. If you as a parent start to fight with a teacher, it will only affirm your kid’s hatred for that teacher, and thusly they will hate the subject matter of that class and reject anything that the teacher has said.

4. Show up to meetings you set up. Be on time to Parent-teacher conferences. Leave your kid at home (you’ve heard his defense a thousand times, anyway). Show respect to that teacher. Don’t give them reasons to despise you. Be respectful, turn the other cheek (so to speak). If you’re always 100% good, then they will have no argument against you. Be logical, not emotional. Look for results, not your personal brand of justice. I had a mother who would never show up to the conferences we scheduled, and (after setting up and canceling several times) when we finally met, she was disinterested and ignored everything I had to say. I would have rather her not schedule an appointment with me at all. It was a huge waste of everyone’s time, and you know what? The teachers talked about that parent in the teacher’s lounge. If one teacher hates you, then all of the other teachers will talk about how horrible you are every day at lunch. Dislike is infectious. Having one teacher hate you can bleed over to other classrooms.

5. Pretend to their faces as needed. It doesn’t matter if you think that the teacher is a fluffy bowl of lard or the next Einstein. Pretend the feelings you can’t muster to really have. If you can pretend to respect and think that that teacher is a source of knowledge about the development of a child, they will pretend to respect your kid. They will remember to put aside their personal feelings and grade objectively. Fake it, if you can’t feel it. Remember this, you have nothing to lose by faking it. Pride is overrated and does not make your student successful.

I will almost certainly do a Part 2 someday, so search my blog for it if you found this helpful. Also, if you found value in this, like, share, and +1 this to support me.


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Sunday, October 7, 2012

My Story: Picking the Right Road in Life

In 7th grade I made my mother cry by telling her I wanted to quit marching band. I hated the trumpet. The thing didn’t make sense to me—a visual and haptic learner—because it only had three buttons to press. Visual learning is something I will talk a great deal about on this blog. I’m sort of an extreme visual learner. Things have to visually make sense or else it’s like air in my ears. 


The three buttons on a trumpet didn’t visually make sense compared to the many, many notes you’re supposed to be able to make with it. Therefore, in 7thgrade I had already been faking playing my instrument for over a year. I couldn’t read music (another visual thing that just wouldn’t process in my brain). I couldn’t play.

Fast forward. It’s high school and I want to form a rock band. My four friends all agree to learn rock band instruments. I picked the guitar. This instrument I find to be more sensible. Fingering goes up and down with the tones. Fret gaps get wider and thinner with the pitch. I could see patterns in the chords. It made sense to me. I learned it easily. I formed a rock band (with some other kids, my original friends backed out). It was popular enough to win some battles.


Fast forward. It’s college time and I need to decide my major. Music and rock music has been my life, so I decide to become a music major. I still can’t read music. I go to college on my first day not signed up for any classes. I didn’t know how to sign up. I get directed to someone who is in charge of male vocalists. He’s shocked that I explain that I have no classes. Somehow, (and I still owe him a thousand-and-one thanks) he gets me into all of the classes I need.

 I get placed into a remedial music theory class, and though I pass just fine with an A, I am no better at reading music. Choir is fun, but harder than high school chorus. You need to read music here. It’s hard. Diction class is taught by a lady with a wart on her tongue.

The next semester rolls around and I decide to quit music and try computer science. My mom is a programmer and so I figure I can make a good living that way. I do a semester of basic programming and engineering. I am a B student.

Next semester arrives. I am sitting in my new programming 102 class, imagining myself sitting in a cubical all day typing. Coding is fun, but not a creative thing. It’s like doing a crossword puzzle. I can only half understand my teacher’s thick accent. I’m zoning out. It’s halfway through class. I pack up and leave, wordlessly.

I walked to the English department. There’s a new adviser there, and she’s the coolest, most caring person imaginable. She helps me drop all my classes and pick new ones. I’m now an English major. My grades skyrocket. I’m one of the best in my class now. People come to me for advice and help on homework.

My point is this: School is a place, not only to learn subject matter, but to learn about yourself.
Make bold decisions.
Drop all your classes and change to something new, if you need to. You’re not stuck in your major. If you’re failing, it’s probably because you’re not doing what you really want to be. Only you can decide what roads to take in life. Not your mommy or daddy, not your teachers, not your pet poochie.

Things will get confusing, but college is about overcoming confusion. Just follow your heart (and find a stellar adviser!).

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Saturday, October 6, 2012

Parental Protips: 7 walk-through tour tests to see if a daycare/preschool is right for your Toddler/Pre-K/Infant.

Childcare is a scary thing, the first time you have to send your kid to one. Nobody wants to let go of their child and give them to complete strangers for... all day every day of the week. 

My name is David, and I used to work at a Center for Learning. The ages ranged from infant to pre-kindergarten. I took care of 1-year-olds in my class, but I was regularly transplanted to the other age groups. I want to help you find the best teachers and the best daycare with a few tips of the trade.

The walk-through tour is the ONLY chance most parents really get to make a judgement call about if that daycare is a trustworthy place, and you can't breeze through it. That daycare is ready for you. They schedule and practice to make sure that the best moments are the ones you see. It's all a facade.

Here are a few tests you can try during your walk-through tour to see if the center holds up:

1. Ask the teachers how long they've worked there. Ask all of them--not just one or two.
Consistency is an important part of child happiness while they're at daycare. If teachers are constantly quitting because of poor work conditions, how do you think the conditions are for your child? I worked at this one center for 9 months, and the conditions were so incredibly bad that I had about 9 different co-teachers hired-and-quit in my classroom alone during my (rather short) time there. If you totaled that number of hired-and-quit throughout the entire Center, it would have been an enormous number. My manager kept having to hire nearly anyone to work there that he could (I was shocked, as I wasn't asked any questions at my interview! They just hired me!). Let me tell you, rapidly changing teachers was a brutal frustration for the kids; 1-year-olds having to meet new parental figures every week or two. It stresses already stressed out kids.


2. See if you can get a moment to privately talk to the teachers without the manager breathing down their necks. If anyone really sees your kid for more than just money, it will be the teachers. However, teachers won't be honest or real with you in front of the manager signing their checks. Tell the teacher that you aren't looking for the corporate line, and that you've been wanting for someone to tell them realistic answers. See what their background is. Ask the teachers if the snacks and meals on the menu actually translate to what is served (at our center, we often had vegetables written on the menu, but were served crackers!). Ask them how often they go "out of ratio" (which means how many kids-to-teachers are in the room).

3. Ask how things change every month. Is there a monthly theme or do they move furniture around? How often do the kids get new toys? How often is new art hung on the walls, new pictures put up, does the menu change, etc. Even 1-year-olds get bored. What does the center do to keep things interesting?

4. Feel the surfaces in the room. Are the tables really clean? Or are they just "wiped" minimally to look clean. Feel the surface with your hand. If it is bumpy, that means that food has solidified to that table (even if it is wiped to look clean, it's not).

5. Pick up the toys. Compare how many toys look new and how many old. Look for choking hazards and make sure everything is age-appropriate.

6. Don't just talk to the teachers in your age-range. Really get to know every other teacher in that center, because they will all most likely step into the classroom with your kid. Your teacher takes 10 minute breaks a few times a day. Your teacher has a lunch hour. You better believe your teacher will get sick and use their vacation time. Teachers often go to teach other mini-classes like 30 minute Spanish, music, or art lessons. Also, managers get bonuses if they can send teachers home early. So, who steps into your classroom during those times? Other teachers from other rooms. Also, if you continue with a center for more than a year, your kid might be transferred into a new room with older kids. My point is that you need to trust an entire center, rather than just the one or two teachers in your specific room. The manager is a smiling face, trying to sell you. The teachers don't get bonuses for tricking you--trust them first.

7. Look for dead birds on the playground. No shitting you. Cleaning the playground is expensive, and the managers won't have it done if they are the greedy kind. Look for feathers, dead birds, rotting leaves, pools of muddy water, fungi, and mold around the playground. Look under the equipment (your kid will!). Look behind the playhouse. Look inside it. Look where they place bikes, rocking horses, and slides. Are they next to concrete walls where your kid will get bloodied up? Ask where they keep outdoor first-aid or vomit-cleanup kits. Check to see if they're up-to-date.

Bonus tip: Don't bring your kid to the walk-through, get a babysitter or something. Having your kid there with you will distract you from being able to notice small details. Ask for a separate time to bring your kid in and see how they interact within the classroom, but keep the first walk-through for just you! Remember, there are already kids there for you to observe.

Bonus tip 2: Don't go during mealtimes or naps. This is the time when things are the most laid back, and you should just see the worst of it if possible. Go before 11am or after 3pm. 11-3 is the bad time to go.

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