Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Trouble With Public Awareness

(This post was originally directed at the Land Surveying community.) 
I’m not a professional teacher, rather a professional who teaches. It is a part-time job and one that I find very rewarding despite the extraordinary low pay and the demanding hours. For those that haven’t taught as an adjunct professor (a fancy way of saying part-time college teacher), the first semester is the hardest. After a few semesters of getting your handouts, outlines, exams, and instruction dialed in, you can almost go on autopilot. Teaching gets a little easier and a lot more fun!





That’s all well and good at the college level, but what happens in primary education, locally known as K-12? It seems that each year brings with it a new way to teach those old subjects which had been taught the same for years. Not being a professional teacher and not attending those conferences that your child’s teacher attends during the summer, I cannot comment on the reasoning behind the constant changes in the delivery of instruction. Whatever the reasoning, the results are damaging.


Each semester the number of students who lack math skills seams to increase. I shouldn’t be surprised since I am (was) one of those who skated by, under the radar. My high school had numerous math classes for those who didn’t appear to be academically skilled, such as “business math” (not what it sounds like) or “personal finances”. These classes allowed for us non-intellect-types to still graduate even though we were clearly mathematically disadvantaged. The majority of students entering my classroom are quite capable of learning algebra, trigonometry, and geometry yet few have ever studied math beyond pre-algebra. Why? Is it possible that these highly skilled and educated professional teachers have failed in someway? I am not certain of the cause, but I am certain of the effect.



The first two weeks of our introductory course is spent assessing students math skills or lack thereof. The following weeks are spent trying to get the students up to speed with basic trigonometry. This tends to cause all surveying instruction to be behind schedule for the rest of the semester. It also forces survey instructors to be substitute math and trig teachers which isn’t fair to the students or teachers.



Recently, I learned that surveying is not alone in this anomaly. As it turns out, many other community colleges (and whisperings from university faculty as well) are dealing with the same situation. One solution which I think is really a work-around for the real problem, is to offer a “trades math” or “mathematics for the trades” class. The courses tend to be geared towards carpenters, plumbers, and machinists, but they are also applicable to land surveying. I suppose if one wanted to know just the bare minimum to get by on exams and as a field surveyor, this might be good enough. However, for those who have the vision of becoming professional land surveyors, this may be just the beginning.


That begs the question, what can we do as a profession to help our cause of recruiting quality students to become quality land surveyors? I think we need to dig deeper into the heart of the community.


We, as professionals, not professional land surveyors but simply professionals, need to be involved with our community organizations. We need to be represented and involved in the Lions Club, Rotary Club, Chamber of Commerce, and other organizations that benefit our communities at large. The other professionals in our community, the bankers, elected officials, retail owners, etc., know as little about us as those high school kids; and yet we wish to be accepted as professionals. Most, if not all, can only identify with the "guy in the orange vest and the tripod" stereotype. Generally, the person they see is the technician who may not be our ideal icon of surveying. Think of the old black and white photographs of surveyors in the field, with their instruments, plane tables, and dressed appropriately. Although I can imagine the surveyors with the whiskey bottle and shirt off were avoided, the old photos represent surveyors that I could relate to as professionals, whether in the field or the office. Personally, I don't know of many engineers involved with other-than-engineering/surveying organizations. A few belong to the local chamber of commerce but they don't represent us, the professional land surveyor. We should endeavor to have the public perceive us as the professional we are.








As individuals it is our responsibility to represent the profession in the best light possible. We cannot rely on our field crews to do this for us, especially considering that few field crews have licensed staff. Our presence in the community is extremely limited. Most land development-related contracts are administered through the civil engineer or architect which means the property owner, our parent client, never sees or hears from us directly except when we need access to the site. Let's face it; we have done a poor job of promoting our profession beyond the classroom. The public, which is made up of property owners, retailers, elected officials, bankers, doctors, etc., need to see the face of the professional land surveyor.


One on one. Often, while my wife and I are at functions for our son's school, parents will ask what I do for a living. I could say I'm a surveyor and leave it at that, but I'm not one to sit quiet- I love to sell the profession! When they ask me this, my eyes light up. I tell them I'm a professional land surveyor. They get a funny look as their brain tries to add "professional" and "land surveyor" together. I take the opportunity to expand their knowledge of surveying, you know…that "guy in the street". I tend to add my own Hollywood touch about how exciting it is to work on some very cool projects or the necessity to have an affinity for history. For me, surveying really is that exciting and cool, so it is easy to express my fervor for the profession. I seize on the opportunity to impress upon them the importance of consulting with a professional land surveyor. Whether they are considering a minor addition to their home or developing that piece of family property they've been holding on to for years, I want them to know that consulting with a professional land surveyor at the beginning of the project can save significant dollars for them by identifying potential issues before they become significant problems. Often, the public thinks that they can do what their neighbor or friend did on a piece of property. After all, can’t I do with my land as I see fit? Only after hiring the architect with the $30,000 plans and the civil engineer with the $15,000 dollar plans and environmental reports do they hire the professional land surveyor who points out that what they thought were the property lines aren’t really the property lines. And then they scoff at the surveyor's invoice for a $2,000 boundary. We need to get the public excited about what we can do for them. We need the public to realize that they need our professional services. We need the public to appreciate our services. To do so, we must become community partners and show the public what we have to offer our communities as individual professionals.


Perhaps, if we invest our time in our communities, we might show up on the radar of primary educators. Perhaps parents will learn just enough from you about what we do that they will tell their children why math is important and all of the great things that they can do with it.


Help your neighbor help us!

Rio Hondo College President Under Fire From Faculty and Community

Whittier Daily News has reported that Rio Hondo College President, Dr. Ted Martinez, has been given a raise and a boost in benefits. There are some strings attached but is it appropriate to have the administrative leader getting a raise while the faculty and staff are taking cuts in pay? Of course not! But should we blame Dr. Martinez or the RHC District Board Members who voted to give him the raise? I don't think I would turn down a huge raise or the $700 per month car allowance. But perhaps the board members should be reminded of who they represent. Read the whole story from the Daily News at http://www.whittierdailynews.com/news/ci_13631708.  


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mud Slinging in Orange County

It absolutely amazing to see how dirty a local small election has become.  The mud seems to be coming from one side only, Ackerman, and appears to be having a reverse effect.  A recent poll released by Flashreport.org shows Ackerman falling behind significantly.  Click here for the details of the poll. 

This state is in dire straights and it's time the voters clean house in Sacramento.

Greg Sebourn

Orange County Bail Bonds

The Beauty of a Storm

The Beauty of a Storm
Orange County, Ca.

My Grandma - A Eulogy

LET'S TALK ABOUT 1914 FOR A MOMENT.



FOR STARTERS, GRANDMA WAS BORN TUESDAY, DECEMBER 22, 1914 IN HER FAMILY'S ATWOOD RANCH HOUSE.



IT IS WORTH NOTING THOSE ALSO BORN IN 1914:

JACK LALANNE

JOE DIMAGGIO

DANNY THOMAS



AND WHO DIED IN 1914:

JOHN MUIR, THE FAMOUS NATURALIST FOR WHICH NUMEROUS ROADS, PARKS, HOTELS, AND NATURE RESERVES ARE NAMED.



IT IS ALSO WORTH NOTING THAT IN 1914 WOODROW WILSON SIGNS MOTHER'S DAY PROCLAMATION AND BABE RUTH MAKES HIS MAJOR LEAGUE DEBUT WITH THE RED SOX. MOTHER'S DAY AND BASEBALL- TWO OF MY FAVORITES!! (PERHAPS HER NICKNAME "BABE" CAME FROM BABE RUTH???)



GRANDMA WAS BORN INTO A PERIOD OF TIME FILLED WITH TURMOIL. IN JUNE OF 1914 ARCHDUKE FRANZS FERDINAND WAS ASSASSINATED. WITHIN ONE MONTH WORLD WAR I RAGED ACROSS EUROPE. TWO DAYS AFTER HER BIRTH HOWEVER, GERMAN AND BRITISH TROOPS INTERRUPTED WWI TO CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS. (PERHAPS THEY PAUSE KNOWING THAT A GREAT WOMAN WAS BORNE) WORLD WAR I CONTINUED UNTIL THE TREATY OF VERSAILLES IN 1919.



ALTHOUGH SHE WAS ONLY 5 YEARS OLD, SHE SAW THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS CREATED AND THE 19TH AMENDMENT WAS APPROVED BY THE U.S. CONGRESS GUARANTEEING THE RIGHTS OF WOMEN TO VOTE.



SHE LIVED THROUGH MANY NOTABLE EVENTS. LIKE THE 1933 LONG BEACH EARTHQUAKE OR WHEN ATWOOD FLOODED ALONG WITH MOST OF ORANGE COUNTY IN 1938 AND THE FLOOD-WATERS CLAIMED MORE THAN 50 PEOPLE, 43 OF WHICH WERE FROM ATWOOD! ALL OF THIS DURING A TIME THAT WE READ ABOUT IN SCHOOL AND KNOWN AS "THE GREAT DEPRESSION". SOMEWHERE IN ALL OF THAT SHE FOUND THE LOVE OF HER LIFE, GRANDPA LEO, GRADUATED HIGH SCHOOL, GOT MARRIED, AND HAD KIDS!



THEN THERE WAS WORLD WAR II. FROM PEARL HARBOR TO HIROSHIMA, GRANDMA WAS RAISING MY UNCLE BOB AND MOM ARLINE. WITH AIR-RAID SIRENS AND BLACKOUTS SHE WAS A WIFE AND MOTHER. WHAT A TIME TO RAISE CHILDREN! I BET GRANDMA'S PARENTS WERE ABEL TO TELL HER A THING OR TWO ABOUT RAISING KIDS IN WARTIME.



GRANDMA WAS THERE WHEN THE BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA HELD THEIR 3RD ANNUAL NATIONAL JAMBOREE IN 1953. SHE SAW AIRBASES OPEN IN '42 AND CLOSE IN '99. SHE WATCHED WALTER KNOTT START UP HIS BERRY FARM AND WALT DISNEY TURN ORANGE GROVES AND STRAWBERRY PATCHES INTO DISNEYLAND!



SHE SAW THE HORSE AND CARRIAGE FADE AWAY INTO HISTORY AND SPACE TRAVEL EXPLODE BEFORE HER WITH THE FIRST LUNAR LANDING. JUST IMAGINE HOW MUCH TECHNOLOGY HAS CHANGED OVER THE LAST 100 YEARS. FROM TUBE RECTIFIERS TO SUPERCONDUCTORS; FROM TRANS-ATLANTIC TELEGRAPH CABLES TO SATELLITE TV.



SHE SAW MORE IN HER 93 YEARS THAN MOST OF US WILL EVER READ ABOUT, LET ALONE LIVE THROUGH!



OF THOSE 93 YEARS IT IS MY HONOR TO HAVE BEEN HER GRANDSON FOR 35 OF THEM. SHE WAS MY MOTHER WHEN MOM HAD TO WORK. SHE WIPED MY NOSE AND PUT FOOD IN MY MOUTH. SHE LET ME PLAY WITH GRANDPA EVEN THOUGH SHE NEEDED HIM TO TAKE HER TO THE STORE. SHE WAS MY GRANDMA AND I WILL MISS HER IMMENSELY.



JUST LOOK AROUND THIS ROOM; SHE DID THIS. SHE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR BRINGING SO MANY GOOD PEOPLE INTO THIS WORLD AND TOGETHER TODAY. THIS IS HER LEGACY.



A Dedication To My Loving Wife, Stacey. Thank you for all you do for me!

Brad Paisley - I Thought I Loved You Then


I remember trying not to stare the night that I first met you
You had me mesmerized
3 weeks later in the front porch light taking 45 min to kiss you goodnight
I hadn’t told you yet but I thought I loved you then

Chorus
Now you’re my whole life now you’re my whole world
I just can’t believe the way I feel about you girl
Like a river meets the sea
Stronger than it’s ever been
We’ve come so far since that day
And I thought I loved you then.

I remember taking you back to right where I first met you
You were so surprised
There were people around
But I didn’t care I got down on one knee right there
And once again I thought I loved you then

Chorus
Now you’re my whole life now you’re my whole world
I just can’t believe the way I feel about you girl
Like a river meets the sea
Stronger than it’s ever been
We’ve come so far since that day
And I thought I loved you then.

I can just see you with a baby on the way
I can just see you when your hair is turning gray
What I can’t see is how I’m ever gonna love you more
But I’ve said that before.

Now you’re my whole life now you’re my whole world
I just can’t believe the way I feel about you girl
Well look back some day at this moment that we’re in
And I'll look at you and say I thought I loved you then
And I thought I loved you then...

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