Tag Archives: Before

Hey, You Kids. . .

by Richard

So Sarcasmo’s graduation was a success. We asked him if he knew the salutatorian. Nope. We asked him if he knew the valedictorian. Nope. But he sure knew the kid who dropped trou and ran across the stage.

Cudos to the school and the auditorium for getting their seventh graduation in and finished in less than 1.5 hours. Very nicely done.

The speaker, however, now that was a different story. It was the graduation-y equivalent of an old guy standing on his porch and yelling, “Hey, you kids, get offa my lawn!”

Seriously, I’m surprised this dude knew what year it was. Most of his talk consisted on encouraging the graduating seniors to abandon their twitters and their facebooks and phones and such and start learning how to handwrite a letter. “Because nothing beats a handwritten letter.”

Basically, what he wanted was for the kids to abandon the wonders of modern technology and go back to the way things were when he graduated all those eons ago. It was a loud, long call to forego the future and embrace what happened to work in the past.

It was, to put it bluntly, the exact opposite of what a high-school graduation speech should be.

In my opinion, high-school graduates and college graduates should be encouraged to embrace the future, to find not what works now or what worked in the past, but what will work in the future. Their lives stretch out before them and they will see changes undreamed of by people of our generation or the previous generation. That is fact.

Trying to cling to the past, encouraging those who will come after you to cling to outmoded expressions of courtesy or personal interaction is just, well, horrible. Lives change. Times change. People should change as well.

Embrace the future. Fight to claim it for your own. Grab on to what’s coming, make it your own and then pass it back to the people who come after you.

And always know the kid who drops trou and runs across the stage.

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Dude Review: The Lost Hero

by Richard

The ancient gods of Western civilization have withdrawn from the world following the epic events detailed in the Camp Half-Blood books, starring Percy Jackson (son of Poseidon), by author Rick Riordan.

Of course, just because the gods say they’ve withdrawn from their interactions with mortals, well, that doesn’t make it true. Knowing those gods as we do, through myth, legend and a great series of books, we can be pretty sure there’s still some godly meddling going on.

And there is.

In The Lost Hero, the first book of a new series called The Heroes of Olympus, we’re introduced to a whole bunch of new main characters, most notably Jason, a half-blood demi-god with little to no memory of his past, a strange tattoo on his arm, and a metaphorical target plastered on his back.

For now, let’s all get down on our knees and thank those self-same gods that Rick Riordan is back with another book set in the same universe as the magnificently wonderful Percy Jackson and the Olympians books. This truly is a cause for celebration. To me, the Percy Jackson books are what Harry Potter would have liked to have been if he had any ambition at all. They’re full of fantastically complex characters, fast plotting, tight action scenes and genuine emotional heft. These are books that all young dudes would love to read or have read to them.

Both my oldest (Sarcasmo) and youngest (Hyper Lad) young dudes loved these books. Zippy the Monkey Boy, who’s of the opinion that a book without pictures is a waste of paper, preferred to read the graphic novel version and leave it at that. His loss.

Anyway. Back to the book.

Riordan takes a bit of a chance with this book, consigning as he does, Percy Jackson to, if not limbo, then at least the literary equivalent thereof. That is, Percy Jackson does NOT star in these books. He’s talked about and missed, but he’s not actually on stage. The main player here is Jason, who’s memory begins on the back of a school bus on his way to a class trip with two people who may or may not be his girlfriend and best friend.

The action here is fast and furious, starting early and pausing only to let the reader catch his breath before barreling headlong into another adventure.

Jason, you see, isn’t like the other children of the gods who inhabit Camp Half Blood. In fact, his appearance at the summer camp for the children of the gods causes quite a bit of consternation among the staff there, and not a little bit of fear. But what is it about Jason’s very existence and attendance at the camp that’s causing this level of panic?

That, dudes, is the question. And it’s got a great answer. (Of course I had it figured out, but, then again, this is written with the younger dudes in mind. The fact that I and most other older dudes can enjoy it is just a happy bit of synchronicity.)

The Lost Hero is a fantastic read. If you’ve got a young dude or dudette who is even the tiniest bit interested in Greek and Roman mythology, likes fantastic adventure and well-developed characters, then you must get this book. Without question, this rates five (5) dudes out of five.

Buy it. Read it. Enjoy it. Then suffer along with me until the next book in the series comes out.

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Freaky Friday: Writing Away Your Fears

by Richard

There’s nothing worse for a student than studying hard, knowing you have a good grasp of the material, then walking in to take the test and choking like you’ve just tried to swallow an entire roast chicken, bones and all.

For a lot of students (and I include myself in that group. Well, when I was a student. . . ) that horrible anxiety of walking in to take a test can overwhelm all the studying and preparation, causing what should be a slam-dunk to end up as that horribly funny miss that keeps getting shown on ESPN highlights for the day.

There is, however, good news. Actual good news. Actual scientifically backed good news. Dudes, I’m telling you there is something you or any student can do that will help significantly decrease your test-taking anxiety and help boost the test score.

And it’s simple.

Students who quickly write down their fears and anxieties just before the test begins, actually score substantially better than those students who don’t write down their fears.

A new study suggests that students who write down their anxieties a few minutes before taking an exam are much less likely to choke on the test. University of Chicago psychologists Gerardo Ramirez and Sian Beilock ran one study for two years at a high school. Students who spent ten minutes writing about feelings and worries about the test scored six percent higher than those who wrote about non-“expressive” topics.

Just on the face of it, this really makes sense to me. I mean, the worry that hurts the most is the one you can’t really pin down. If you actually face your worries, face your fears, I know I can get a much better handle on them and that helps to squash them like the bugs they really are.

The researchers published their findings in the current issue of the journal, Science. Here’s something transcribed from the podcast:

Beilock: There’s work in clinical psychology showing that getting clinically depressed individuals to journal or write about emotional or traumatic experiences in their lives can help decrease rumination. And we have a lot of work in our lab showing that students worry in testing situations, and this is something that can really derail their ability to attend to and remember information they need for the test. So, we hypothesized that perhaps having students write about their thoughts and feelings about an upcoming test before they took the exam might, in a sense, allow them to deal with some of these worries, such that when they were in the actual exam situation they were less likely to pop up.

I’m going to start encouraging both Sarcasmo and Zippy the Monkey Boy to try this out. Sarcasmo especially, as he’s got some severe test worries before most exams. I’ll let you know if it works for them.

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