Thursday, June 26, 2008

De Lorean

For a while now, as I am driving to work I have noticed this car parked in the lot of a local mechanic that looked curiously like a DMC-12 (aka De Lorean, ie Back To The Future) and while until recently it only aroused my curiosity and brought back cozy memories from the comfort of the past, I wasn’t fully certain that it was in fact a De Lorean. So, on the ride home this evening I slowed down enough to get a good look, which in turn caused me to stop, get out, talk with a mechanic in the shop about the car, and inevitably take the following picture.

Wow. It was a De Lorean. To get completely nostalgic, I saw my first De Lorean in the movie Back To The Future which seemed like a cool car at the time, only to be surprised at my father’s laughter and entertainment over the fact that the movie creators turned a De Lorean into a time traveling machine. He went on to tell me the De Lorean Motor Company (DMC) story which stayed with me for years. That was in 1985. A few years later I stood next to a De Lorean on the street in Duluth, MN, ogling and drooling over the car and lost in my memories of various stories along with its immortalization in film!

Now, here I am years later standing next to the De Lorean. Wow, still pretty cool, but not nearly “larger than life” as I recalled it seemed in 1985. Somewhere between the stories and movies, and later reading about the real history of the DMC, it just became a neat relic, but not much more. If I want, however, I can remember the feelings of excitement standing next to it on the street a few years after the 1985 movie. I remember wondering what might happen in THIS De Lorean, if it got up to 88 miles per hour? Ah, but now it is just a car. A good car, but a car nonetheless.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

My First NYC Parking Ticket... ouch!

Tickets are no fun. Even if you are out having fun a good solid costly parking ticket can taint the evening. When I was living in Wisconsin, parking in a parking ramp could sometimes be more expensive than a ticket out on the street, so taking your chances was often the most fiscally responsible choice. That is definitely not the case in New York City. Take the following example:

Appleton has basically two parking ramps and a number of coin opperated street parking locations. The ramps cost a few bucks to park in, and a quarter on the street will get you like, 15 minutes, but most importantly the parking ticket only costs $5 (the last time I got one.)

Now, let's talk about New York City. Average parking ramp seems to be around $30 +/- $10 for a few hours of parking. Coin Ops are out there, but as I have learned, they are really just for suckers. By that I mean, if you are enough of a magician to be able to plug the meeter with enough change to generate enough time to actually go do something and correctly estimate how soon you will get back to your car... well, then you are fine. But in my case, I put about $0.75 in the coin op and that gave me a foolish 30 minutes in the financial district one saturday morning. I thought to myself, "What an amazing deal," until 35 minutes later I was walking up to my car noticing that the additional poorly estimated 5 minutes cost me an addition $65, for a grand total of $65.75 to park downtown for 35 minutes. At that point I seriously contemplates consulting a cop to see if I now had paid for hte right to live in that spot the remainder of the day. Rather, I got in my car and drove up by Columbia University to hang out with friends (did I mention I drove around for about 20 minutes to find the right best spot this time?)

Ugh! Never again. So, thanks to NYC and the website, I was conveniently able to pay the unexpected expense online, which leaves me with this beatifully designed momento in viewable form in the top most picture of this blog entry. But this brings me to my final comment on this most interesting experience: paying your parking tickets online!

So, there was this goofy moment after I located my online ticket on the website. The page asked me if I wanted to "add anything else to my basket" -- as in Shopping basket? I figured they were using some cheap e-commerce software and someone simply neglected to rework those interfaces so they would say something more appropriate, like "Do you want to pay another ticket?" or "would you like to add to you credit for future parking violations?" ... you know, something more helpful, like that. But they obviously didn't take the time, nor were they likely too worried about my "user experience" when paying my parking ticket. Finally, once I was certain I didn't want to add anything to my "basket" it asked me if I was "ready to checkout"...


... to which my reply could only be, "Yes. I am all stocked up on parking tickets and am not in need of another thing. Thanks for asking. Let's ... checkout!"

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Past + The Present = The Future

I’ve never been great with names. For some, they seem to be able to absorb names like a sponge to water. I on the other hand require concentrated effort to commit a name to memory, and even then that name has an unreasonable shelf-life of only a few years at best. And so here rests the dilemma. I have lived so many places and known so many people throughout each of those places that the memories fade fast and it is as if those people look more like watercolor painting rather than detailed pencil drawings. In fact I think I could easily pass a lie detector examination pretending that I was an amnesia victim! That is how bad it is now.

Recently I came upon some descriptions of places I lived once in the alternate reality that is my real life (Duluth, MN) and I thought about how I am less than five years away from a twenty year high school reunion. Wow? Get this, that means I have been out of high school for more years than was my age IN high school. On one hand I should hope so, otherwise I would have been one old high school student. On the other hand I can say that I haven’t really been back in way too long.

Here is the think about Duluth, MN. It is the top of the world. And while there are communities that are closer to Canada and the North Pole, Duluth is the kind of place that all people eventually move away from. Some move back I suppose, but everyone moves away, to be certain. Returning to my childhood then would be somewhere between visiting a version of an old home you no longer recognize OR spending time with someone you’ve bumped into whose life just wants to make you cry. I can’t see myself not wanting to go back, but I can’t imagine how I might feel about it.

I mean, I grew up in Florida and frequented Wisconsin (where I was born) throughout my life, but life in Florida was so long ago that it barely counts and Wisconsin is so painful I barely like to go back there in my memories let alone in reality. So Duluth would be the one place left in my imagination where I would want to see old faces (if that were even possible.)
Here is how my mind works. When I am in a place where I once stood long ago a number of thoughts run through me:

  1. I think about my time “back in the day,” remembering old stories in a vivid manner only possible with proximity.

  2. I think about where I am today, and how much my life has changed, or not.

  3. I think about how my world would be different if I had never left.

I’ve known people who for years have lived less than two hours from where they’ve grown up and they hadn’t gone back for a look in multiple decades. I am just not wired that way. I think about the road, both behind me and before me, and how it is shaping me, for good and for bad.

Of those three thoughts that run through me the last though is the hallmark moment. This is where my past bumps into my present and I check my course in life. Am I heading where I want to be heading? Is where I am today better (at least in the right places) than life back then? Am I happy with [a] the decisions I’ve made and [b] my responses to life circumstances that were out of my control? And where do I go from here?

That is the tough inevitable question that comes at the end of reflection. Where do I go from here? Only God knows, and I mean that not in a predestined, predetermined, fate-filled manner. I just mean that it seems that no matter where I go, God is always there ahead of me. Like a loving grandparent sitting by the window waiting for you to arrive, God is already there and sees you coming.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Blog Entries, Instructional Design and Pressure


Once again a co-worker has plaggarized all of my hard work. It totally sucks!

This person I work with who I will leave nameless was discussing ideas around these topics and I had no idea she was going to record my wisedom and write it all down into an article/paper. I am so offended!

For example, when I asked her the question, "What is interactive learning to you?" she said "a powerpoint presentation?" Get THAT!? She answered in the form of a question even! Ugh! I had to explain to her ideas about how the egage the learner on both an intelectual as well as sensory level. Man! She stole that stuff!

Then we talked about other stuff and she asked me, "Steve, in all of your wisedom, would you consider mentoring me?" and I said, "Claud....I mean Ms. X, yes... yes I will help you because that is JUST the kind of person I am. I love to give back!"

And then Clau... Ms. X completely takes my personal wisedom and pawns it off as her own work! What the heck...

Well, if you want to read about the brilliant ideas I've had, you might as well visit her blog, but just understand that these are really my ideas, no matter what she pretends (how troubling!)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

It's Hot

Summer's here and it's hot. REAL hot!