"So there are Oliphaunts. But no one at home will ever believe me."
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Staying the Course

Just now finished teaching the first session of our second math improvement class. This class will go much better. One reason is that I learned a lot in the previous course about how to teach the subject matter effectively, but the biggest reason is that in this course we had a large enough population to cut the applicants who were below a 10th grade math level. I had no problem teaching individuals at any level, but in the previous class the population, based on our initial test results, consisted of students performing as low as third grade math to beyond high school level. Since we are all doing our full time job in addition to the class, it was virtually impossible to manage.

I just did an introductory overview today, quickly covering many topics that we’ll later cover in depth, but in many ways it felt like we already went further in this class than we did in two weeks in the previous class.

In other news, I received the news today that I am cleared to spend at least one, and probably two more years in my current assignment and location. Now, we just need to figure out the lodging and commuting puzzle and we’ll be settled.

I’ve started a transition into a completely new job, in charge of computers, radios and communications. I miss my old job dealing with logistics. If I were looking for a different job I would strongly considering making the leap into a new field in some sort of logistical support role. I cannot complain, however, that this new job offers me a lot more free time, and obviously plays to my strengths.

April 26, 2010   1 Comment

Leave, Day 3

A busy Day 3 (events from 2 April 2010).

We got up early, and @agentwool made German Apple Pancakes for breakfast. Around 10:15, we headed into Tacoma. Our first stop was Sushi Revolution. The kids love sushi, and they especially love choosing their own food from the conveyor belt system, pointing out which plate for you grab from the parade of Japanese food (mostly sushi, but there are other bite-sized offerings). The plates cost $1.00 to $3.50 or so, in .50 cent increments, with the price being color coded—cheap, you would think, but the children will eat prodigious quantities and are attracted to the most ostentatious and expensive plates. A lot of the sushi is very non-traditional and geared toward American palates (anything with Krab™, cream cheese, avocado, or smoked salmon), which doesn’t interest me, but some of the innovations involving seared (but still raw) tuna or salmon prepared nigiri style and then drizzled with a wasabi sauce are definitely winners.

Most of us selected the plate of cream puffs for dessert.

From there, we headed to the Tacoma Museum of Glass. I was worried that the kids would hate it right from the start, so we headed to the “hot shop” immediately, where we watched a group of artists collaborate to make a giant glass “tire” by repeatedly heating, spinning and blowing. The furnace was hot enough that the visible light was painful to look at. The kids were actually very interested in this process and watched it for a long time. This is the only area of the museum where pictures are allowed, save for the obligatory gift shop.

The museum is pretty small, and there were only two galleries for display. The first we went to was the Kids Design exhibit, followed by a gallery dedicated to Tlingit artist Preston Singletary. The first exhibit showed glass recreations of fanciful creatures sketched by children. The recreations were very faithful, copying every defect and juvenile asymmetry. In that, they were technically impressive, but still fun. The kids liked it. They didn’t like the exhibit of Tlingit glasswork nearly as much, although they did find a few things to ooh and ah over. I could have spent more time here but it was testing the stamina of the kids. There is some beautiful work here, although I was forced to wonder about the artist’s attitudes about other aspects of the advanced industrial technology needed to manufacture these expressions of traditional Native American art. I noticed some of the same artwork on display at SeaTac when I left the country through there a few days later.

A worthwhile visit, but here is a little secret: the best part of the museum is actually free: the bridge over the highway between the museum and the courthouse which is decorated with some of their best pieces.

Pictures were taken, but not many thanks to the restrictions on photography.

April 20, 2010   Comments Off

Dinner Fabuloso

Planned for 10 April 2010.

As with the last Big Meal I prepared, I cooked this one out of Marcella Hazan’s classic book. We have so many cookbooks, and I have a mildly psychologically defective completist obsession with cooking my way through at least one of them—preferably, all of them. Yes, this is an impossible goal, at least without sacrificing other, more worthy goals. It’s not like food science and human taste buds are changing at an accelerating rate in this modern era, but somehow the embargo against new culinary ideas does not hold. We keep adding to our impossible library.

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April 18, 2010   1 Comment