Tag Archive for technology

12 Tips for Air Travel

TSA: We Feel For You" Cartoon

In this week’s 12 Series post, I give you tips for airport travel. If you have never flown before, you should definitely read on; you will learn more about airport culture and how to travel successfully. If you travel regularly, you might identify with these tips (and even be able to offer your own recommendations).

1.    Do not, under any circumstance, be early to the airport. Arriving at least 2 hours before your flight will decrease your stress and anxiety levels, but why is that important? It’s better to be stressed and anxious. Arrive early enough to be able to use your tardiness as an excuse to get to the front of the check-in and security lines.

2.    You will have to wait in at least four lines (parking, check-in, bag drop-off, security, buying food, restroom, boarding the plane, putting things in overhead bins, etc.). In one of these places, cut in line. Put your head down and act ignorant.

3.    You MUST be on your cell phone at all times. If you are not talking loudly to your best friend, then make prank calls.

4.    As you are waiting in line (your choice which one), put your head phones on and play Pandora or iTunes really loudly. But do not plug in the head phones. Sing along loudly, and act like you do not notice that everyone else can hear your music as well.

5.    Make sure your bags weigh more than 50 pounds. When the staff tells you that you can either move something to another suitcase or pay a fee for your bags being too heavy, choose Option A—moving items to a suitcase that weighs less. Open up the suitcase on the floor and begin transferring items to the other suitcase. Everyone will be watching you. Make sure to take out your undergarments and other items that will make them as uncomfortable as possible. They are the ones choosing to stare.

6.    When going through TSA’s airport security, misplace your driver’s license or passport and your boarding passes. Dig through your purse, your backpack, your laptop bag, your suitcase. Find them in your jacket pocket. Put them away in a safe place when you are finished.

Airport Security Full Body Scan Cartoon

Image courtesy of The Atlantic (theatlantic.com)

7.    When putting your stuff in the bins, forget to take your laptop out of its bag, your shoes off, and your jacket off. Leave some change in your pocket.

8.    You are next in line to go through the body scanners. Misplace your boarding pass again. When it’s your turn to go through the full body scanner and they ask you to stand there for three seconds with your hands above your head, start dancing.

9.    When they call Group 1 to board the flight and you are in Group 7, go ahead and get in line. If the flight attendant stares at you or gives you a condescending look, smile.

10.    When you board the plane with your one carry-on and one personal item, attempt to put your purse overhead and your carry-on luggage under the seat in front of you. When the flight attendant tells you not to do that, tell them that it didn’t fit overhead. Then, make them tag the too-large suitcase and take it off the plane to be picked up at the gate when you arrive. Smile for winning a small battle: you didn’t have to pay $30.00 to check the bag.

11.    You are now flying in the air. You’ve decided you want a Diet Coke to drink. When the flight attendant comes by your aisle with the drink cart, tell him or her that you would like “Geico” to drink. See what she says.

12.    Fall asleep on the nice man seated next to you. Rest peacefully. You will be at your destination soon.

Disclaimer: Approaching airports and air travel with a sense of humor and a wide eye for irony makes flying the “friendly skies” much more enjoyable.


Inventing a Winning Machine

Earlier this week, I was looking through my 1st grade daughter’s backpack and found a piece of paper from school with Elizabeth’s writing. Elizabeth wrote the following:

“My invention is the mushen that can make you win evry game. I invented the mushen that can make you win evry game.”

Children Racing Black and White

Image courtesy State Library by New South Wales. Flickr's Creative Commons License.

Two sentences. Two sentences that reveal a lot about my daughter. Elizabeth likes to win. She doesn’t like to lose. When given the opportunity to imagine a machine to invent that would make life better, easier, she chose a technology that would make winning at everything possible. (Of course, there are problems with such a tool, because someone has to lose, right?)

(Funny note: One of my friends told me that her invention already exists; it’s called “The Bribe.” Ha!)

Elizabeth comes by this desire honestly (just like she does her stubbornness, independence, and strong-willedness). She gets it from me. I like to win. But if I could invent such a machine, I would want the opposite of her; I would want something that would never allow me to lose. Because, yes, I like to win, but even more than that, I don’t like to lose.

When Shane and I first moved to Louisville, Kentucky (we had probably been married 4 months), my dad was making a speech in Indianapolis and we drove up to see him. It’s about a 2 1/2 hour drive to the city. We picked him up at the airport and walked around downtown for a while, visiting the statues, parks, and other outdoor sights. Indianapolis has such a lovely feel. We ate dinner and then were heading back to the car (after several hours of walking around).

On the way back to the car, Shane was arguing with me about the route we were taking back to the car. He said the car was the other way; I said it was not, that we were headed in the right direction. This was ten years ago, well before GPS and Smart Phones. Shane kept insisting that we were going the complete wrong way. He decided to ask my dad what he thought.

My dad told him that he thought we were headed in the wrong direction (my way) and that he thought Shane was right and that we had come from the other direction.

Then my dad paused and said, “But I’m going to just keep following her. I learned a long time ago that you don’t argue with Kara. Even when I disagree with her about stuff like this, I have learned to go with it. Why? Because Kara is never wrong. Really, she is always right. But, if she IS wrong, then we can give her a hard time.”

We all burst out into laughter. It was a lesson from the father-in-law to the son-in-law. My daughter/your wife is right.

At this point, I started second-guessing myself. I kept walking the way I thought was the way to the car, and, voila, I WAS RIGHT. We found the car, and, whew, I wasn’t wrong.

I don’t like to be wrong. I don’t like to lose. It comes from liking to play games, just like Elizabeth does. Card games. Board games. Sports games. I’m competitive. I don’t like to lose.

When I win, I don’t gloat. I don’t celebrate. I don’t “rejoice” (this is the term I use for athletes when they start gallivanting down the court after making a basket or a touchdown, especially when they’re on the OTHER team, and I don’t want to see such celebration!). Instead, I act like I’ve been there before.

Because I have. I have won lots of things. Small things. Big things. Things that matter. Things that don’t. Things that had major consequences for me in terms of scholarships, prestige, fame, and recognition.

[L]losing draws on my insecurities of not being good enough, not being smart enough, not being able to do it all. Losing hurts. And it hurts real bad. Not when I lose a card game, but when I lose big things.

[One sidenote: It is interesting when I play games with other people, which I love to do, they ALWAYS strive to beat me. They gang up on me so that I will lose. They target me (in Hearts, Double-9 dominoes, Monopoly, etc.) so that I will lose first. Then, they make big shows of it when they win. They rub it in. They jump up and down. They celebrate. They “rejoice.” I guess that’s what I get for being competitive and winning a lot. I can take it. It’s just a game, right?]

But winning isn’t what motivates me; what motivates me is NOT losing. I’m sure there’s a lot of complexities going on in this statement, but let me just say that losing draws on my insecurities of not being good enough, not being smart enough, not being able to do it all. Losing hurts. And it hurts real bad. Not when I lose a card game, but when I lose big things.

When an article I’ve written gets rejected.

When I don’t get a grant or sabbatical for which I’ve applied.

When I don’t get a position for which I’ve applied.

When I receive a set of negative teacher evaluations.

When someone says something negative about me.

When I compare myself to other moms. 

When my children misbehave and disobey me.

When I fail as a Christian.

My identity is wrapped up in NOT losing. And when I do lose, it hurts. So, if Elizabeth could invent that machine, I would buy it. But I don’t think it would be enough to confront the underlying insecurities of losing.

 


Screens at Bedtime

At our house, we have a bedtime routine (bath, brush teeth, reading and storytime, and prayers).

After all that is done, we also have a “transition time.” Transition Time began a few years ago after we discovered how long it took for Elizabeth to fall asleep once we finished this nighttime routine. She couldn’t fall asleep. Nothing we told her to try worked. Counting sheep. Saying a prayer. Shutting her eyes. Thinking about something. No matter what we tried, she couldn’t fall asleep.

And it was a lot of work for her parents!

So, we instituted Transition Time, a 30-minute period in which she was allowed to play in her room before we turned the lights out. We hoped this time would allow her to unwind before lights out. This transition period has helped her fall asleep faster and sleep better (she used to wake up in the middle of the night, too) than she used to when we did not do such a thing. She is happy; we are happy.

Last year, we decided to institute a similar transition period for Peyton. His bedtime is 30 minutes earlier than Elizabeth’s (he just turned four; she’s almost seven) and he is required to stay in bed, but otherwise it’s the same as his sister’s. Peyton typically reads, stands on his bed, makes faces at himself in the mirror, rolls around, talks to himself (he is ALWAYS talking), plays with his cars, or destroys things.

A few nights ago, Peyton asked me if he could play his Leapster (a gaming system) in bed. I said yes. He played it for 30 minutes until I went and turned off his light.

It took him two hours to go to sleep that night.

He rolled around the bed, whined that he couldn’t go to sleep, got in and out of bed, went to the bathroom, played in the sink, played with his toys, looked out the window, talked to us, asked for more hugs and kisses, went to the bathroom (again), and did just about anything else available at the time in the dark.

After what seemed like forever (!), he finally fell asleep. My husband and I breathed a sigh of relief that we could now spend some time together (and then Levi woke up. Ha!).

The next night, Peyton wanted to play the Leapster again, and I said he could. The same thing happened. The same little blond-headed boy couldn’t fall asleep.

(I still had not figured out what was going on.)

Several days later, I read an article discussing how screens (computer, TV, iPhone) should not be used right before bedtime. They stimulate you. Duh. That was the reason he wasn’t sleeping. He was too wired mentally. The technology had activated his mind. Instead, of providing the winding down for which this time is meant, Peyton was wired.

Now, no more screens during this transition time.No iPhones, Leapsters, LeapPads, computers, or TVs at bedtime. They provide too much stimulation. I don’t know how long we can keep this rule up (our children are young), but I do think our generation (as parents and children) has to consider this much more than previous ones. Yes, we’ve had TV and computers for years, but handheld devices such as mobile phones and gaming systems are much more vivid, bright, and colorful than the Gameboy of my generation.

Today, these devices provide even greater stimulation, over-stimulation to be exact, than previous devices did. It will be interesting to see what some of the effects will be–not just on sleep but on maturity, development, socialization, learning, education, emotions, and so many other areas as well.

What screen rules have you set? What advice do you have?


Teaching Writing in a Digital Age

This semester I designed and taught a new course, “Writing in a Digital Age.” This course will soon become required for all Professional Writing majors, and I am thankful to have been the first to teach it.It tops the list as one of my all-time favorites.

The students were engaged, dedicated, and flexible.
The material was stimulating, new, and exciting.
The topic was relevant, interesting, and practical.
The clients were involved, attentive, and grateful. 

I learned. The students learned. The clients learned. And we all did so with attitudes of openness to the process, which is important when you’re teaching with and using technology.

My students presented their final projects yesterday. They showed us the website they had created for a local small business, and they reflected on the process of writing for the web, working with a client, and transitioning the website and social media pages over to the client. I was fascinated by what they did in six weeks. I am amazed at my students.

A few of the clients were able to come as well. I really enjoyed hearing their perspective about how digital writing matters in small business. A few mentioned that they did not know how much an online presence would matter for their business, but that, in just a few weeks, they can already see how useful it will be for their business. Awesome.

Here are some of the websites my students created:

In the future, I plan to expand this Digital Marketing project to the entire semester. I think students and the client will benefit from doing so, and I can envision many ways to expand the assignment.

Thanks for a great semester, #DW4375!