Monthly Archives: October 2011

“Public” Relation….Ship…

The real title of this post is: “Relationships in the age of social media.”

I’ve been thinking about this post for a while now. I’ve seen some relationships flourish and flounder from my front row seat on Facebook and Twitter. To get the full perspective we should back up a bit. In the 50’s, you went “steady” or you wore their “pin.” In the 60’s you avoided labels, you were just “groovy.” In the 70’s, you we’re their “Cool Cat.” In the 80’s relationships were “Totally bitchin'” and in the 90’s, there were all sorts of labels to define what your relationship was, and a couple of really awesome breakup songs.

Then came Myspace, Facebook and Twitter.

Having recently entered a relationship, I was excited to update my Facebook status. To what, though? The two of us had to have a discussion to what this really meant. Not only were we in a relationship, but how public did we want this to really be? Declaring a relationship has now been given this extra punctuation mark of Facebook. What that means to each relationship is different for everyone. Is it a Period? Is it a question mark, “it’s complicated?” Or is it an exclamation(!!) point?

After you negotiate what and if you’re going to change your status to something, then you have to ask the question if you want to attach the name to it. It’s not if you’re comfortable or not, it’s if you can handle the attention. I tend to live my life in the wide open. I share a lot with you people, all 50 regular readers, but I have 900+ friends on Facebook. Half of those Facebook friends, I’m sure, never see me on their walls, they would never know that I’m in a relationship, or that I’m pretty happy, or that I post a quote of the day, every day. What happens when the person you’re dating isn’t as public, isn’t as comfortable with the media-glare? Relationships are hard enough without the added eyes.

Raylight

Interesting enough, that’s not the end of it. I’ve never been a fan of public displays of affection, (PDAs,) although, I think there’s some appropriateness of sharing your relationship on these networks. A great example, I ran across the other day: Love on social media In the above example you’ll note that there’s a hint of playful, some serious whimsy, and even if you didn’t know them, and I do, you’d think, “that’s sweet, and kind.” It’s not forced.

Too many times, I have seen relationships where the people involved are repeatedly publicly posting how happy their significant other has made them, how truly wonderful they are, how special they feel, how blessed they feel.

The single me would roll my eyes, choke down the bile accumulating in my throat, and move on. The me who is currently in a new relationship, wonders: “Are you telling me, or trying to convince me?”

You know how great a relationship is from the outside on how very little you see being thrust in your face. A good relationship makes you think, as an outsider, “Aw, that’s cute,” not, “Oh god, really?”

Mom&Dad kiss
(Used under creative commons, thanks Tomswift46!)

Others will celebrate your relationship because they see from your conversation how much you respect and adore each other, not because you have to tell them everyday how amazing they are. PDA’s on social media are even more obtrusive. It’s worse than your neighbors at your local bistro swapping their gum without using their hands.

Just something to think about when you’re talking to your significant other in public forums. Is it something that if you saw from the other side of the table, would your response be: “UGH!” or “AWW!”

In case you’re wondering, I love you all and I think you’re fantastic and I want to celebrate your relationships, but I just don’t want to gag on them.

Old Love
(Used under creative commons, thanks Vocalities!) — So CUTE!

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Responsibility

I received this via email from one of my teachers this week. It was sent to the entire class. It reminds me that personal responsibility for your action or inaction is mandatory.

I bet he has to send it out every term.

I sometimes have to say no to my students.

I once had to tell one student that I couldn’t give them credit for submitting the answers for an assignment after the cutoff date. Even though they were sick the day the assignment was due.

I also had to tell a student that I couldn’t give them any points for an assessment quiz even they knew the right answer but forgot to “Save” the answer before selecting “Finish” for the quiz.

Another time, a student missed an final exam cutoff date because they didn’t check the exam dates. Another student forgot about the midterm exam. They wanted an extra day to do the exams. I had to tell those students no also.

Another student experienced internet communication errors when they tried to do their exam at 10:00pm on the last day the exam was available. I had to tell that student no time extension could be allowed.

Another student wanted to do the final exam two days before the deadline, but got sick, and then took a vacation airplane flight during spring break on the last day the final was available. Airplane connections were missed and the student arrived at their destination after the final exam deadline. I had to tell that student no time extension could be allowed.

All of the above students had 10 days to complete their assigned work or exam. But they had what i call “last-minute-itis”. It has been my experience that roughly 40% of any class waits until the last day that coursework or an exam is due, before they do the work. That is their right to do so. Just make sure that you fully accept the consequences of any such decision – good or bad.

This acceptance of responsibility also applies to being short a few points of getting a better grade due to neglecting to do some of the weekly module coursework etc.

One student had a total of 59.3 points at the end of the term and another student had 79.8 points at the end of the term. Both wanted some extra credit work to improve their grade even though they had not done several discussion topic posts, assessment quizzes, and assignments during the class or had not done well on the midterm or final exam. I had to tell both students no.

I have also had to tell students that even though they did the assignment before the cutoff date, they didn’t submit it by the cutoff deadline. It was their responsibility to check to see if their assignment, quiz, or discussion submission was received correctly and on time. I could not grant one student an exception when there were other students who had the same situation but never notified me and they would not have the benefit of an date extension that was given to another student.

I don’t like saying no. It bothers me and makes me sad that I could not be lenient.

I couldn’t extend cutoff dates or give extra credit work etc. because of two reasons:

1) It would be unfair to all of the other students who didn’t get the same exception.

For example, a cutoff date extension cannot be given to just one student. That would penalize all of the students who had already submitted their work or exam before the cutoff date because they would not have received the benefit of extra time to study for the exam, do the assignment etc. Once the final exam is done, some students never logon again. Giving extra credit work to some students after the end of the class and not to others is unfair.

2) The administration at Portland Community College has expressly told me that I have to follow the syllabus exactly with no deviation for the above reason of fairness. In addition, if a deviation for one student was permitted, all of the other students in the class would have justification for filing a grievance against PCC.

This is why the course syllabus is very explicit about assignment cutoff dates and times, taking of assessment quizzes once, making discussion posts instead of just reading posts by other students etc.

So students should read the syllabus and ALL my emails. Very. Carefully.

This is why the assignments, assessment quizzes, and discussion topics in my online class are each available for 10 days before their deadlines. That is more than enough time to do the work.

That time period means that problems with your computer, internet connection, being sick, on vacation somewhere else, having a job (or jobs), being in an automobile accident, having surgery, being pregnant, giving birth, being stressed, forgot, etc. etc. etc. are not valid excuses since within that time period you would normally be able to communicate with me and overcome any such problems.

The Desire2Learn website is fully functional at least 99.99% of the time. However, there are a tremendous number of hardware devices, software products, and internet communication companies between your personal computer and the Desire2Learn website. All of which can cause problems. And you may also experience communication errors within your own Desire2Learn session on your personal computer such as “Session already running” etc.

If you do your weekly coursework a few days before the cutoff deadline and email me about a problem, I still have time before the cutoff deadline to help you. If you wait until the last day and have problems, I won’t be able to help you because I may not see any email from you until after the cutoff deadline for the coursework.

So any last minute problems on the day before a cutoff date, including technology issues, are not valid excuses. This includes not only the weekly coursework but also the midterm and final exams.

So, if at all possible, always do ANY coursework or exam several days before the last day that it is due.

The only valid excuse for extending a cutoff date that will be accepted is if the student is totally physically incapacitated, e.g. in a hospital intensive care ward, such that it is impossible for them to use a computer and do the coursework.

No extra credit work is permitted because it would be unfair to the students that did not have the same opportunity.

I hate to be so dogmatic and inflexible.

I do care about your success. I want you to do well in this course and will help you understand the course material.

However, I respect all of my students enough to treat them as adults and let them judge how much time they need to do the class work and when to do it so that they meet the coursework cutoff times. Anything less would tell a student that I have no faith in them to act like an adult. And an adult takes responsibility for the consequences of their actions and decisions instead of making excuses.

You can do well in this class. But every student must take responsibility for their own success and fully understand and meet the course requirements that must be applied equally to all of the students in the class. I must let you be the one to determine how successful you will be.

National Coming Out Day?

It’s once again National Coming Out Day. I meet this day with trepidation every year because I think that many people feel pressured to come out and do so fairly publicly.

Coming Out?

Coming out is a very personal decision. It’s not one that should be taken lightly, it’s ok to be who you are but it’s also something that you should ensure that you’re well equipped to handle, it’s not something you should go through alone. Sometimes, Coming out may just mean saying it to yourself, acknowledging it to your friends or maybe it doesn’t. Either way, having the proper support network is essential.

Having said that, some people are probably experiencing a great deal of strife as they are considering whether the should or shouldn’t come out. There’s been many statements/videos, from the President all the way down to my little dog and pony blog telling you, that if you’re having a rough time right now, it does get better – life does make you stronger, but sometimes it hits a couple of rough patches. Be wary of those.

There is a greater purpose to this day, something that should reach beyond any one group of individuals, it should reach deep inside each one of us.

o is for open
(Used under creative commons; thank you Michael W. May!)

This extends past a single day dedicated to coming out of the closet. It can mean a lot of things, “coming out” has been monopolized; however, in life we all have things that we may not feel strong enough to express publicly, that’s ok. You don’t have to, you should never feel pressured to do so, in the end, the only person you have to answer to is the one you see in the mirror everyday.

mirror ball
(Used under creative commons; Thank you Lovestruck!)

So today, and every day, be there for someone, even if it’s just saying hello. You never know what turmoil is just below the surface. You never know who needs to see that smile. You never know who would benefit from any of those things. You never know who will benefit from hearing, “You’re not alone, I’m here with you. Let’s walk together.” Maybe we all need to hear that.

It’s easy to make a difference and easy to change the course of someone’s day.

There is no harm in trying.

Roadkill… A Hierarchy

The other day I was out running along my normal route when a couple things happened to me that I really wanted to share. These things only reminded me that there is a food chain to everything.

Now, safety hawks would tell me that running with full headphones is probably not a good idea, I do it anyways. The music isn’t super loud so I would hear horns and sirens over the top of them, but I need a little something extra to help get me though the rougher points of my run. The other day, as I was running through my own path, on a sidewalk, I was scared almost right out of my shoes.
Bike in motion
(used under creative commons, thank you myplacedk!)
From behind, this bicyclist, having seemingly lost full control of his faculties came barreling right next to me, almost catching my right side, no lights, no warning, just him, flying down the street at 6 A.M. Startled but undaunted I carried on.

Towards the end of my run, there is a neighborhood I run through, no sidewalks, a couple hills, lots of trees. It’s really quite peaceful, though it’s pretty dark, and I love its serenity as I am really summoning the last bits of my energy to finally make it home and as it is just barely entering the dawn hour, it’s truly the darkest part of my run. In that last stretch of my run, I tend to go to autopilot, tapping into my music, not really focusing my eyes, just running, listening to my body and talking myself through each step. …And then under my foot I felt a crunch… and not just a stepping on a twig crunch, but something strange, so I stopped and looked back. Upon further examination, I realized that I had just stepped on a squirrel, who, by some other means had been recently made into flapjack.

Squirrel
(Used under creative commons, thank you, Californian Em!)

Uncontrollably, I started laughing, I couldn’t help myself, I don’t know if it was that I had realized that I had done so, or just that I didn’t know what else to do, but as I stood there for a second laughing, I realized that you have to open your eyes, even when life is hard, even when you’re willing yourself to go on, because there are always going to be those who you are larger and who seem to be gunning for you, and there will always be moments when you unintentionally step on someone. The real test is what you do in that moment, if you let it detour you, you miss out on finishing that goal or completing that task.

Be undeterred, be willing to laugh, be willing to shake off the momentary brushes with disaster. Be swift and just, carry on.

Not 10,000 – Just One.

Leagues, that is.

Have you ever been around something so intense that you almost feel that you are out of your elements, a friendship so great that it’s intensity becomes addictive. A moment where you just look around and wonder, how did this happen to me. And realize with gratitude that it is?

sunrise
(Photo used under creative commons, via Sean MacEntee)

I’ve had a couple of moments lately where I feel extremely fortunate to be involved in them, as if I’ve finally done something right to indicate the the universe that I deserve, or at the very least, can handle the moment.

This year has been such a roller-coaster of good and bad. I’ve had some rough patches, but I’ve also had some fantastic moments where, for a second, I’ve had to look around, catch my breath, and wonder, how did I get here? You could probably make some trite statement like: “Good things happen to good people.” Does that mean that when the bad was happening, that I was a bad person? I don’t buy that.

At the moment I’ve been feeling very fortunate and full of gratitude, so I just wanted to say thanks, in one of the many ways I know how.