When it comes to navigation in unfamiliar territory, do you shun technology, relying on traditional maps and written directions, or do you leave the atlas behind letting GPS and Google Maps guide the way?
We always have a road atlas on hand when we go on road trips to get an overall idea of the route, mileage, etc. When I plan trips (I do the planning, Dale does the driving!), I use a road map so I can map out where to go and how to get there. That way, we can wend our way through a state and see a number of things without having to backtrack. I use the Internet as well as guide books to plan where to go.
However, we use the car’s GPS system (in my car; in his car, we use Google maps on his phone) when we are on the road to make sure we don’t get lost.
This is good because Dale and I have had arguments in the past when we used paper maps – I would tell him to turn right but for whatever reason he turned left because he didn’t believe me. I WAS LOOKING AT THE DARN MAP!! And I was a good navigator too. But when walking, I tend to get mixed up using the GPS on my phone and am better off with a small paper map of the area. I’m thinking of the times we tried to find restaurants in Sao Paulo which were close to where we were staying but somehow the GPS disoriented us and we ended up going somewhere else we happened to find when we were lost getting to the place we were looking for. In Tel Aviv, we stood on a street corner with the phone GPS in hand, arguing about which way we were supposed to go to get back to our hotel after exploring a shopping mall.
I don’t have that problem with road maps or most of the time with the GPS in my car. However, we have gotten lost when the GPS didn’t know the way! Once we were going from Highland Park to Highwood, two north suburbs in the Chicago metro area very close to each other, but the GPS led us way out of the way and after driving for about 20 miles, I said, “I don’t think this is right.” My sister had said the restaurant where we were meeting was five minutes from the place we were coming from. It wasn’t a brand new street address, either, so I don’t know what “Jeanie” (which is what we named the GPS voice on my car) was thinking. The only other problem with GPS systems is that we may enter an address, the official address of the place, but we end up on a busy street with a wall next to us, and we know the place we are going is behind that wall, but where is the entrance?? The entrance is not always the same as the address.
Therefore, I recommend having a paper map if possible as well as the GPS. Locally, the GPS usually gets us where we need to go, even if sometimes Dale takes what he thinks is a shorter way (and turns out usually to be wrong). And imagine if something happens to the phone or the car and technology isn’t available? This can happen in remote areas when there is spotty Wifi service, and then the GPS may not work at all.
My favorite GPS system is Waze.
It’s a free app for your phone and works best when there are two people in the car – one to drive and the other to look at Waze. People can input problems they encounter on a road – police in vicinity, car on side of the road, traffic jams, etc. It also identifies red light cameras so you can follow the speed limit when you are near one! I recommend it for anyone who does a lot of city driving. You can earn points and eventually choose your own Waze avatar!
It’s much less nerve-wracking to have a GPS in the car one is driving than depending on a map and nowadays we can usually count on any rental car we get having one. The GPS in our rental in France was great, once we figured out how to use it – it was very counterintuitive and each time we got it right, we couldn’t remember what we did the next time we got into the car! That GPS voice was British and announced everything in meters and kilometers, of course, but I loved her – we dubbed her “Eleanor.”
Do we control technology or is technology controlling us?
There are humans out there that control technology – they are the technology inventors, software creators, Silicon Valley movers and shakers, and the people in India that you call when you need maintenance on your computer. But the vast majority of the human population in modern society is controlled by technology. Once the technology is put out there with plenty of fanfare and advertising, people feel they simply HAVE TO have it. A lot has been written and speculated about this. Will computers eventually take on minds of their own and LITERALLY control us? AI (artificial intelligence) is a big subject these days.
When I make a call to a company, I get a recorded voice giving me the option of choosing 1,,2,3,4,or 5 and once I’ve made my choice, half the time the call hangs up. Most cars manufactured in the 21st century are computerized – I drive a 2017 Prius and the mechanics who work on it need to be knowledgeable about computers. Most of us are so attached to our cellphones that if we leave home without them, we feel as if we’re adrift at sea! I constantly worry about making sure my cellphone is charged – God forbid if it should “die” when I need it to stave off boredom.
There are both positive and negative aspects to technology. Computers supposedly make our lives easier – which they do, except when they break down! Then we can hardly function until they’re up and running again. Who uses maps anymore? GPS can do the work for us – except when we’re out of range of any satellite. TVs, cars, radios, cameras, copiers, ebooks, you name it, they all need highly trained techies to service them when they malfunction. Things that used to be basic technologically (like cars, books and cellphones) now have so many bells and whistles that you can’t possibly learn how to use them all.
With technology comes software and social media. I know that any social media can be abused, there’s cyberbullying, and people get addicted, but I’m not completely wedded to social media so I enjoy it when I go on Facebook or Instagram (I don’t have and refuse to get Twitter) to see what’s going on with far-flung friends and relatives. My email gets out of hand because I get inundated with junk email (a lot of it political) and the important messages get lost in the deluge. Right now I need to clean out both my email inboxes – they have 1,000+ messages in them that go back two years at least!
I understand that this question was motivated at least in part by Fandango’s frustration with the new Block Editor that WordPress is forcing us to use. I didn’t like it at all at first, but then I didn’t know how to use it either and the tutorials they have you link to are not particularly helpful. As with a lot of things, you have to just try something new yourself and over time, you discover the best way to use it for your own purposes. I still prefer the Classic editor but I haven’t even bothered trying to use it lately because if I want to insert a photo, it defaults back to the Block Editor anyway. The only thing I ended up using it for was symbols, like foreign accent marks, but now that we can’t use Classic anymore, I have no idea how to insert these symbols (They are important for those of us who speak other languages – we don’t want to seem ignorant when we write something in one of those languages and it looks like we don’t know that certain words have accent marks, tildes or circumflex accents.).
something beyond my control, I just have to get used to it and adapt. Being able to adapt to changes in a society that sometimes seems to travel at warp speed is important for me to be able to live life with as little stress as possible. Oh, sure, I’ll complain about a change that I can’t understand the need for, but after awhile, I’ll just…accept it and adapt.
My ability to adapt has been a major theme in my life and something I take pride in. Until 2007, I had spent more than 50 years of life finding ways of coping and adapting to something in my brain that I didn’t have a name for. I had poor memory long before becoming a senior citizen and I have always had issues with distraction, reading and listening comprehension, fidgeting, and organization. In 2007, I was finally officially diagnosed with ADHD. I’d had it all my life and knowing this sure helped me understand a lot of the obstacles and difficulties I’d had over the years, and the decisions I made to either avoid them or cope with them. Those decisions were not always wise, but if I had known this was a part of me that I couldn’t change and had to live with many years earlier, I would have most likely made different choices and learned different ways of adapting. Instead I blamed myself as a failure. I cannot take the usual medications prescribed for ADHD, which are stimulants, due to a heart condition. However, if psychiatrists had known what it was in the early 1960s, stimulants probably would have been helpful to me.
It’s the same with technology. I either have to adapt or get left behind. As a result, I am as dependent on my cellphone as anyone. Having ADHD, being able to do so many things on my phone is additional distraction I probably don’t need, but on the good side, I have games and web sites to entertain me when I am forced to wait – in the car, in the doctor’s office, etc. And changes on WordPress – well, if I want to continue blogging, I guess I’ll just go with the flow.
Fandango’s Provocative Question this week is a topic being debated in the news lately. Our non-leader Orange Man wants all the kids to return to school and virus be damned. Many, if not most, districts have been saying that online learning has had mixed results so far. I can easily believe that. Fandango’s question is:
Do you believe that students should be required to return to school for the new school year? If you are a parent, are you at all concerned about sending your children to school? Or are you relieved to get the little rugrats out of your hair?
Fandango acknowledges this question is one of the most dire dilemmas in the countries where covid-19 is out of control, such as the United States by giving these stats:
He continues, “And with between 60,000 and 70,000 new cases each day and 1,000 or more deaths each day, the virus shows no signs of abating anytime soon.
“Donald Trump, the President of the United States, is trying to pretend that everything is fine and that we need to reopen the country and return to ‘normal.’ To that end, he is demanding that schools physically reopen in the fall, even as the coronavirus pandemic is surging through much of the country and is threatening to overwhelm many health care facilities in the hardest hit areas.“
Being an American, I am coming from this perspective. I am going to answer from the point of view of a former K-5 teacher, whose students were in the majority low income and whose first language was not English.
The question of whether or not to send kids back to school next month is really a dilemma and let me first say that I am very glad right now that I retired from teaching five years ago. “Distance learning” is OK, possibly even desirable, for college students and to some extent, high school students. Much of the debate we hear is geared toward high school when solutions are proposed, such as having the teachers rotate classrooms instead of the kids.
I say, YES, students should go back to school but with some major changes. Here are some things I foresee.
Masks:Uniform masks should be supplied to all students free of charge. They should be replaced every day. The first thing I thought of when mask wearing was proposed was all the wiggly, fidgety K-3 students I have dealt with over the years I spent teaching. I could visualize them playing with their masks – pulling on the elastic, putting their grubby little fingers all over the cloth surface, trading masks with other kids, or throwing them at other kids. I can see it even becoming a fad to have the “coolest” mask. The kind of thing that was so distracting that I had to ban certain fad items to keep the kids from fighting over them or showing them off, trading, playing with them, etc. I don’t know if little kids can really understand the importance of wearing a mask and some of them I am sure will not be able to get used to them. In a child’s cognitive development, empathy and the ability to think about something from someone else’s point of view do not really come into play until they are 8 or 9 years old.
Physical distancing: Students should be divided so that some go in the morning, some go in the afternoon, and if necessary, restrict the number of in-class days to 2 or 3. As for physical distancing, this too can be hard. Part of school is learning appropriate ways of interacting with other children. Plus, little kids are really into hugs – they LOVE to hug! Especially their teachers, but also their best friends or to comfort a crying classmate. Many, especially the youngest students, would find it unnatural and difficult to adjust to a strictly hands-off policy. But having fewer kids in the classroom at any one time would help.
Another proposal that could be included in this would be to expand the school year to year-round. There are already many schools that have year-round schedules, but this maybe could become the norm. This would make it more viable for the students to be in the classroom longer, because they could be rotated in this way too. So, for example, half the third graders in School X would have spring break in the third week of March, while the other half would have spring break in the fourth week of March. Of course, this will probably draw objections from teachers and from parents who have children in different grade levels with different schedules. These are problems that will have to be worked out by each individual institution or district.
“Virtual” classrooms:Some distance or virtual learning will be necessary, probably close to 50% of the students’ school time.Students will be required to participate in the distance learning activities and submit whatever work the teacher requires. Virtual school can only do so much. Some children don’t have access to computers at home, so they’d have to spend their day in a library, probably in close proximity to others doing the same thing. (And how would they get to the library if no one is home to take them?) Also, as I said before, face-to-face interaction is important especially when the students are young.
Entire curricula for online learning will have to be developed and designed; teachers will need extra inservice and professional development days to learn the programs and set up their virtual classrooms, and then to tweak the programs later on. I have no doubt there are plenty of educational supply companies that would love to find a new source of revenue designing, refining, and updating these curricula. The companies themselves might even be willing to train the teachers to use the programs, but probably not all the ongoing training and updating throughout the school year.
Where would the extra revenue come from? There would need to be funds spent on infrastructure (in some cases), equipment, staff (including an increase in the number of teachers), training, curricula, the expenses involved in keeping schools open for longer periods of time, etc. Would governments, however, be able and willing to spend a lot more on education than they currently do? How many referendums for increased school spending would be approved by voters? Because no matter what kind of solutions will be found and agreed to by school boards and parents, it is going to take MONEY, honey!! Beaucoup bucks! Mucho dinero! Too often, way too often, governments impose new requirements with good intentions, but do not provide funding for them. Schools and districts have to stretch their budgets to incorporate the new requirements.
First, they will have to supply everychild with an iPad or laptop computer to use at home. (It will not work in the end if kids have to share their portable computer with siblings.) Sometimes these items will be abused, broken, lost or stolen. It should work pretty well in affluent suburbs, but what about in inner cities? If something happens to the iPad/laptop, whether or not it is the student’s fault, will (s)he be supplied with another one?
I see this as a necessity for any of the solutions being proposed. Even before covid-19, school districts were already making the decision to supply (or not) all students with iPads or laptops, because computers have become vital to all of our lives and kids need to know how to use them and learn on them, whether they have physical school or not. Poorer districts, of course, do not have the means to do as much of this. Inequality enhanced by access to technology will become a greater problem than it already is. And what about rural areas where internet connectivity is spotty? Is the federal government going to provide the infrastructure to correct that, so that every single citizen of this country has equal access to the internet? I’m not optimistic, no matter who is elected in November.
Increase in teaching & support staff: Placing the additional burden of both in class and distance learning on the current staff at any given school will cause more stress and higher rates of attrition. Therefore, creative solutions will have to be found. Team teaching is one good solution, in my opinion. Perhaps new positions could also be created for tutors (who would help the struggling students at home, for example). But I guarantee, a commitment will have to be made to hire more teachers, so that the student-teacher ratio can become more like 15-1 than the current 25 to 30 students per teacher.
I know this is a long-winded answer, but I wanted to make it clear that I don’t agree with just sending students back to school without drastic modifications and a commitment to spending more on education. As a former teacher, I also wanted to lend my expertise to my answer. I know there are a lot of issues I didn’t cover or even think of. Thanks to everyone who read this entire post!
Most people on a cruise never get to see what the captain’s perspective is. But last summer, on our Viking river cruise, passengers were invited to go into the Pilot House, also known as “The Bridge.” While the passengers lounge on the deck with a drink in one hand and camera in the other, this is what the captain sees.
Since I am retired, most things I spend time doing are things I like to do. I blog a lot about photography and travel, but not so much on my private pastimes.
A few years ago, the coloring book craze for adults was big. At the time, I acquired several coloring books, but put them aside for a few years. Now I am doing them again, mainly while “watching” the news – instead of looking at a talking head, I have fun with gel pens, markers and colored pencils! It softens the news for me: things will be okay if I can sit here and color. I prefer designs and patterns rather than actual scenes.
I also like to play word games on my cellphone (classic time waster!) I regularly do Wordscapes, Word Stacks and Words With Friends. I was playing so many Words With Friends games that I decided to limit who I play with to people I actually know.
Write a poem or story using a lot of metaphor that sounds like nonsense but has a much deeper meaning. Write something that is actual nonsense, means nothing. Write about the day to day nonsense you have to put up with from other people. Write about an argument or confrontation you had that degenerated into nonsense. Write about a person who is full of nonsense and drives you crazy. Write about a romantic situation that completely turned your life upside down and made you feel as if you had lost your mind.
While all of these options are great ones (which I may pursue later), I have always wanted to follow my phone’s suggested words when I am writing a text. I started a series of texts by writing a word, then let the word suggestions (which I picked at random) lead me where they would. Here’s what I came up with:
Where’s your father now, huh man? You know what to expect to spend Friday night at home. Forget about your accident and your future will be a replica of a Nubian.
What about your brother-in-law that was the last one to come over to our church? Why do we need a ride to a hospital where you are going to have a baby? I thought you could get me involved with this guy and you have to do something else that would get us together for a while.
I’m going to take you out to the airport by the time we come here for the next day or so. Please confirm that the FBI director has been in contact with Europeans and other animals. What would happen if the weather was too bad for me and my pretty face? Always be careful about how many people are definitely candidates for president and then you will need to get to see the gargoyles.
The words in boldface type are the ones I used to get the sentences started. There of course was some choice on my part as to where I let it go, but I always chose from three suggested words and tried to pick words that were first, second, or third at random or which I thought sounded the most bizarre or ridiculous.
The interesting thing about this is that the phone has some of these words (especially the more unusual ones like candidates,Nubian and gargoyles) already in its memory because I have used them in the past, whether in a text, on a Facebook post, etc. Although I don’t use these words in my everyday vocabulary, I’m sure I have used them in Facebook posts during my travels or when I comment about politics. It was quite funny what the suggestions were!
(BTW, I didn’t actually send this text to anyone, but if I had, it would have gone to my husband who already knows I’m crazy!)