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!