Ford fattens computer models

Accord­ing to http://ergoweb.com/Ergoweb, the mod­els, which are used in the design of the pas­sen­ger area of Ford’s vehi­cles, are “chunki­er” than pre­vi­ous mod­els, to allow for “a big­ger bel­ly and wider hips.”

The com­pa­ny rec­og­nized it is hard­er to sit in a car if the steer­ing wheel feels too tight, the seat seems a lit­tle too nar­row and there is not enough room for the legs.

Thank you, Ford! Dare we hope that oth­er car man­u­fac­tur­ers, maybe even (gasp!), air­lines might fol­low suit?

Full arti­cle

Learning by Doing

An awe­some arti­cle by Seed mag­a­zine (my cur­rent favorite mag­a­zine!) about learn­ing by doing. Appar­ent­ly that’s how we learn best. When we learn by doing, we retain the infor­ma­tion we’ve learned much bet­ter than if it’s pre­sent­ed to us in an abstract way.

How We Know: What do an alge­bra teacher, Toy­ota and a clas­si­cal musi­cian have in common?

I’se a student! But still a crip, too

Well, I’m offi­cial­ly in school and off to a run­ning limp­ing start. 

I made it to my sta­tis­tics class on Tues­day, but only after a nasty fall. I was only about 20 min­utes late, and the pro­fes­sor was more than under­stand­ing. I was utter­ly lost for the first part of the class, but by the end of it I felt very com­fort­able. I can do this.

My body took over on Wednes­day, though. I slept all day, despite alarms and phone calls. Seriously–I did not wake at all until after 2:30 or so, and I believe that was because my blad­der and need for pain meds final­ly won out over the need for more rest. So much for the week­ly blood test appoint­ment at 11. I did­n’t get much home­work done through the rest of the day, either, though I did try. Hope­ful­ly eat­ing the whole day is enough to appease the fibromyal­gia demon.

So today has been giv­en over to doing all of the week’s assign­ments for tomor­row’s course, Comp100. That’s the “learn to use Win­dows, Word and Excel” class that’s required for every­one at this school. I’m real­ly annoyed at hav­ing to take it at all. There are lots of lit­tle assign­ments, and while I know this stuff inside–out even make­work takes time. 

Right now, I’m tak­ing a din­ner break. I deserve that much.

The biggest chal­lenge of that course (oth­er than fol­low­ing the *exact* direc­tions rather than doing things in more effi­cient ways) is that the text­book is too bloody big and heavy. I had prob­lems with that at my last school, too. I need a seri­ous book­stand, because hold­ing these big texts real­ly is a phys­i­cal chal­lenge for me. They’re increas­ing my pain, which makes it hard for me to focus on read­ing the assignments.

In hap­pi­er news, my admis­sions “advo­cate” called me today to tell me that the tran­script eval­u­a­tors had revised their opin­ion of my cred­its and giv­en me anoth­er 13 cred­its! So I’m anoth­er semes­ter clos­er to grad­u­at­ing. I think that puts me fair­ly close to senior lev­el, which means more finan­cial aid eligibility. 

Katie and I have fall­en into a pat­tern of doing our home­work togeth­er every day. That’s nice, and it helps a lot with my miss­ing the time we spent togeth­er homeschooling.

I’m hop­ing that I can get caught up and stay there by the end of this week­end, and then have time to breathe and do fun things again. This is just a half-time sched­ule, so I real­ly need to build a lot more sta­mi­na before I try to add two more class­es next semester!

You know what I want? A trike. Real­ly. A great big trike with a nice big bas­ket. I think I could ride to school near as fast as I could get there on MARTA. I might have to spend the night there before I could ride back home, but give me some time and sure­ly I’d build up some kind of con­sti­tu­tion again. Eventually.

I know how to ride a bicy­cle, cer­tain­ly, but my bal­ance has gone to heck thanks to the FMS and I don’t recov­er from falls well, so I’ll give in and ask the uni­verse for a three-wheel­er. Sure­ly they’re less expen­sive than the scoot­er I need, right?

Spain bans unhealthily thin models

In a very unpop­u­lar move, Spain has banned appear­ances by fash­ion mod­els who’s body mass index is too low.

Italy is con­sid­er­ing fol­low­ing suit. The lan­guage in the leg­is­la­tion makes it clear that the pur­pose of the ban is to encour­age health­i­er media images, due to the grow­ing inci­dence of eat­ing dis­or­ders diag­nosed every year.

Frankly, I can’t begin to imag­ine the U.S. gov­ern­ment even con­sid­er­ing that kind of leg­is­la­tion. We do have a freer press here (on the sur­face, at least), but that does­n’t explain all the differences.

Traveling tips

I had to share this excel­lent post on Sur­viv­ing Trav­el and Con­fer­ence from Indie. Guz­man-Coop­er, RN writ­ing at Web­MD. She pro­vides a great check­list of things she did to pre­pare for the trip, as well as oth­er bits of wis­dom, such as:

When I arrived to park my car, arrive at the air­port and check-in, I sought out assis­tance. For me this was a new thing since I tend to be an inde­pen­dent lady and tend to try and do every­thing by myself. But I real­ized I need­ed the assis­tance and it was not wise for me to risk any more prob­lems than I was already deal­ing with by being stubborn!

I look for­ward to the sec­ond in this two-post series.

The Myth About Homework

As the days go by, Katie’s time gets more and more pre­cious. I’m not the only one who is miss­ing lazy days of cud­dling up to do our lessons togeth­er at our own pace, doing as much as is need­ed and no more, then going on to Girl Scouts or dance or friends.

Every night, every week­end is full of more and more home­work. Some of it is very obvi­ous­ly work for the sake of assign­ing home­work. She has four class­es, and only two of the teach­ers assign home­work. I can’t begin to imag­ine when she’d sleep if she were tak­ing four “seri­ous” cours­es, but we’ll know next semes­ter, when she adds a third one.

So this arti­cle real­ly hit home. It’s some­thing we railed about when Sam’s chil­dren lived with us, and now it’s an issue for our fam­i­ly again.

Think hours of slog­ging are help­ing your child make the grade? Think again

Too much home­work brings dimin­ish­ing returns. Coop­er’s analy­sis of dozens of stud­ies found that kids who do some home­work in mid­dle and high school score some­what bet­ter on stan­dard­ized tests, but doing more than 60 to 90 min. a night in mid­dle school and more than 2 hr. in high school is asso­ci­at­ed with, gulp, low­er scores.

I sup­pose it’s time to start cam­paign­ing, which means first get­ting involved in oth­er ways. You can’t walk in with a com­plaint and expect to be heard very well if you haven’t already estab­lished your­self as a pos­i­tive asset.

“School days, school days, good old golden rule days”

Is that how the lyric goes? I know, I can Google it. I should be in bed. If I get any­where near a lyric archive, I’ll get sucked in and there’s no promise that I’ll get any sleep at all!

That’s impor­tant, as I have my first class tomor­row! It should real­ly be some­thing that I could sleep through, hon­est­ly, as the school insists that I take “Com­put­er Appli­ca­tions” in prepa­ra­tion for my oth­er cours­es. Despite the fact that I have used the MS Office suite for years (well before it was a suite), and have trained count­less oth­ers to use Word and Excel, I haven’t had any for­mal train­ing in using the appli­ca­tions. Because I can’t show any col­lege work that proves that I can use the appli­ca­tions, I have to take the course, like every­one else. 

I’m try­ing to think of it as an easy A, but that nev­er works out on these things that I feel I should be able to comp. Did you know that if you know a pro­gram so well that using key­board short­cuts is sec­ond nature to you, the com­put­er­ized tests used by temp agen­cies and the like will decide that you don’t actu­al­ly know the soft­ware very well? They’re look­ing for an exact series of mouse clicks, not the key­board short­cuts. I have this dread­ful fear that the course will use com­put­er­ized test­ing in this course, and there will be prob­lems like that. 

Any­way, on a brighter note, after I’ve tak­en that class, I’ll be able to log in and start work on my oth­er class’s assign­ments. It actu­al­ly start­ed Tues­day, but I was­n’t enrolled ’til Wednes­day. The school’s com­put­er sys­tems don’t offi­cial­ly “know” a stu­dent ’til she has swiped her stu­dent ID through the atten­dance what­sis in a class­room at least once. Very frus­trat­ing — I’ve been try­ing to get in to that sys­tem since I was reg­is­tered, and nobody actu­al­ly fig­ured out why I could­n’t do so ’til late today. I’ve yet to get any­one to tell me how to con­tact the pro­fes­sor, either, as the idea of just talk­ing to the human (and I assume there is one) to ask about assign­ments seemed an out­ra­geous notion in that world of ultra-computerization. 

The oth­er class is def­i­nite­ly going to stretch me. I’ve nev­er tak­en a sta­tis­tics course before. It’s been, um, near­ly 20 years since I took ANY math class. Please don’t tell me any hell­ish sto­ries about that sub­ject, as I’m ner­vous enough already. If, how­ev­er, you under­stand this stuff are will­ing and able to help me, for good­ness’ sake, speak up! Any help is much appreciated!

I’ve still got to go through the joy of work­ing with the dis­abil­i­ties office. I did meet the coor­di­na­tor, though, and she seemed down­right friend­ly. That was such a shock that I could hard­ly remem­ber the ques­tions I need­ed to ask her! (Good argu­ment for always writ­ing them down ahead of time.)

I am going to have to upgrade my com­put­er, as every course at this school is part­ly online. The min­i­mum tech­ni­cal require­ments start with a proces­sor and video that put my much-loved lit­tle lap­top to shame. I’m unclear as to what they’re expect­ing to do with all that pow­er — it isn’t as if my major is one that involves CAD or any­thing of that sort — and I’m rather annoyed. The geek in me, of course, is thrilled — but the rest of me says, “We can’t afford that!” It’ll mean going back to a desk­top, most likely. 

It isn’t as though my par­ents were pay­ing the first time around, so they aren’t going to help now, either. Any­body wan­na adopt me to send me to school? You’ll get the world’s most mar­velous grand­daugh­ter, and she’s old enough that you would­n’t be asked to babysit, even.

Yes, I’m only tak­ing two class­es. I’m try­ing to be more rea­son­able about pac­ing and tak­ing care of myself this time. Maybe I won’t end up with pneu­mo­nia again 🙂 And to that end, I’m off to bed now.

The Animals Won

Katie is a bit too old to be a Steve Irwin fan, so we were spared most of that craze. Not all of it, of course, since we don’t live in a media black­out and we are exposed to the cur­rent kid cul­ture via oth­er friends’ kids.

Still, I always found the guy more than a few fries short on his Hap­py Meal. And what the hell did those crit­ters do to him? I mean, they’re nasty, yes, but does he need to bran­dish them on tele­vi­sion repeat­ed­ly? What was he teach­ing his view­ers? Bul­ly­ing? Have there been any cas­es of chil­dren being hurt by try­ing to repli­cate his stunts? (I don’t care how many times any­one says “don’t try this!” We all know that some­body, some­where, will.)

And that crocodile/baby thing. Why was­n’t there as much media cov­er­age about that as about Michael Jack­son dan­gling his kid over a bal­cony? Was the man absolute­ly crack­ers? (I’m not talk­ing about Michael Jack­son, as I don’t have any doubts regard­ing his lack of sanity.)

Ger­maine Greer said all of this bet­ter than I have, but she’s the first per­son I’ve ever heard crit­i­cize Irwin in any sig­nif­i­cant way in a major pub­li­ca­tion. Grant­ed, I was­n’t fol­low­ing him close­ly — but did the man have to die for crit­ics to be heard? 

Would he still be alive if he’d been dart­ed with Risperdal on a reg­u­lar basis? Maybe a lit­tle less of a celebri­ty, but san­i­ty is worth some sac­ri­fices. I think he would have been a bet­ter role mod­el had he been less of an extreme risk taker.

I do feel sor­ry for his fam­i­ly, cer­tain­ly. I know from expe­ri­ence that you can nev­er tru­ly be pre­pared for the loss of some­one you love. Still, if I were his wife I would have been on edge all the time fear­ing that I’d get the call telling me that his luck had run out.