Sunday, April 29, 2012


I mentioned last week that I was taking a computer fundamentals class at Edmonds Community College.   It would take care of five of seven remaining credits  needed to renew my teaching credential.  Normally I avoid anything that smacks of technology. I never learned to program a VCR, still find my DROID beyond understanding,  and yell for help whenever my TV remotes won't respond to a single click of a button. 

But, I use computers daily, write e-mails, cut, paste, design flyers, and write a blog.  Surely I could handle a basic computer class and fill up my deficit gaps, right?  Wrong!   I could give you a day by day rundown of my learning issues, but suffice it to say that my happiest day, since  the first day of school, was finding an on-campus  computer lab with tutors available for folks like me. 

I have no problem writing the papers.  Writing is a strength.  But, the quizzes are something else again.  One big problem is my inability to remember the various terminology, most of which are acronyms for vocabulary words important for understanding. For example, Here are only a few acronyms from Chapter 5 of Technology in Action, 8th edition, (Evans, et al., Prentice Hall, 2012).

OS  -  operating system
CPU - central processing unit
MS-DOS  OR   DOS  (Micro disc operating system)
RTOS   -  Real time operating systems (embedded system)
UNIX  - ?
RAM  -  random access memory
LINUX  -  open source operating sysem for personal computers
GUI - graphic user interface
GNOME  - ?
KDE - ?
OLPC  -  One laptop per child
GB  -  giga byte
PnP -  Plug and play
API  -     application programming interface
POST - power on self test
BIOS - basic input output system
ROM      -  read only memory
CMOS  -  complementary metal-oxidesemiconductor

I struggled  to put meaning to the acronyms.  Several terms were not even in my text book's glossary as you can see by the question marks.  I searched the web and found a computer dictionary which clarifies terminology for  true internet "dummies"  like me. From The Ultimate Computer Acronyms Archive  , which has 178 pages of computer acronyms,  I was able to find the various meanings.
Is your head sufficiently spinning, or are you one of those lucky techies for whom this is totally elementary?  Last week I learned about the digital divide which separates the digital "knows"   from  the "know nots".  I am thinking that  it is not a good thing to be on the wrong side of the divide; but, struggle as I might, I don't  think I will ever truly be "in the know."   However, it might not be too late for you, and you might be more open to this kind of literacy.  Take classes, classes, classes to become  computer literate.  Computers are here to stay and have taken over every aspect of our lives.  It was sobering to me, a simple farm girl, that even cows are not immune.  They probably have  RFIDs  imbedded so that their every movement can be monitored.  I find myself wondering how my deceased father would look at today's technology.  He'd probably just shake his head in disbelief,  then walk out to the barn to give a pat to Bessie as she waited to be milked. 

Saturday, April 21, 2012


It's 2012 spring quarter at Edmonds Community College, and here I sit one year after completing spring quarter 2011 classes in Spanish and piano. Why? I am finishing up seven credits needed to renew my teaching credential, a requirement of every teacher in order to teach in Washington state public school classrooms.  (School Days, School Daze, April 10, 2011)
Returning to a regular college classroom after fifty years was an eye opening experience a year ago (see blog), and provided a lesson in humility as I bumbled my way around campus where everyone seemed to know where to go and what to do. But I made it with a 4.0, a love and small skill in piano, and the rudiments ,though not fully internalized , of a new language. (Mexican Standoff in a Guaymas Walmart, January 1, 2012)
This quarter I am continuing with piano, and also taking five credits in computer fundamentals.  Feeling a little smug,  I breezed through registration, got my books at the bookstore ( sticker shock notwithstanding) and found parking and both buildings with ease.
It's the third week in the quarter and I am struck again by the ease of navigating the campus and finding any help I need with my classes.  Example:  The piano class has a free tutor just a phone call away.  I learned that over twenty locations have computers available for those in need.  One of them, a tutorial center in Mukilteo Hall, has tutors available to help with specific course needs.  You merely sign in, find an available computer, put your name, computer number and course number on a white board, and wait for help.  It comes quickly in the form of a friendly person with answers to your particular questions. 
Perhaps the most significant difference between today's classroom and those of bygone days is the prevalent use of technology.  Back then I had a portable manual typewriter on which I could type 80+ words a minute.  Now our household has no fewer than two apples and four pc computers in use at one time or another.  This includes two outdated laptops which sometimes seem like old friends when I am struggling with the newer technology available. But having a computer and understanding it are two different things to a person riddled with technological anxiety. Thus, I am taking  BSTEC 130, a  hybrid class which will introduce me to computer concepts, applications, HTML and the Internet using Windows and Microsoft Office, including Word, Access, Excel, and Powerpoint.  Whew!!
It's Saturday morning and I checked "My Edmonds CC" where, after signing in on something called "blackboard", I looked at my class requirements.  I then took a computer quizz and instanly received a grade.  "Ahem."  I took it twice and got 60%.  I think I will take the pass-fail grade option. 
Fifty years ago we went to class, studied, took our tests, and socialized.  I remember it as fun,  punctuated by periods of hard work and panic.  Today, it is hard work, some panic, and not much socializing, even with my poor abandoned husband waiting patiently nearby.  I am thinking that is probably true of many other students, at least in the business information technology department.  If you don't stay on top of it you are left behind.  And in the bigger picture, it's even more true.  Without understanding technology and its importance in our lives today, we will be left behind as individuals and as a country.  I am thinking back nostalgically on the "good old days" at the mid-century University of Washington. Now I find myself wondering what the 21st century students' good old days will look like.  No doubt the kind of computers, cell phones, and techy toys will be a large part.   But enough.  Now I must move on to Technology in Action where I am learning  that technology has taken over business, education, gaming, law enforcement, the military, medicine, the automotive industry, sports, psychology and agriculture.  Nanotechnology is on the horizon.  One big challenge of a digital society will be that of ethics.  Another will be the growing "digital divide" separating the "knows" and the "know nots" with respect to technology.  My head is spinning, but I am going to stay the course. More later.

Sunday, April 1, 2012


There are thousands of boards of directors all over the country doing amazing work as they guide their organizations both non-profit and for profit. One I know well is the Martin Luther King School Dream Foundation which my husband and I founded in 1999. It oversees the disbursement of post secondary scholarships to underserved students in the Seattle area, and has given out over one hundred to date. The board is made up of colleagues and friends who are committed to the good work of the foundation and meet when necessary to take care of foundation business.

In addition, my husband has been very involved with Edmonds Community College, both as a trustee locally and nationally, and also as a foundation board member. Out of his many years of board experience he has written a book entitled Walking the Board Walk which spells out secrets of an enjoyable nonprofit board experience.

Lately I have been hearing about another board of directors for a company called SPIC, (Sandy Point Improvement Company) a "for profit" board serving a recreational community called Sandy Point, north of Bellingham where we own a vacation home. I am concerned that this board needs some training on how to operate effectively for its members.

Right now this unique waterfront community near the Canadian border, seems to be victim to escalating levels of petty crime, drug problems and a disregard of property rights by a few unsavory individuals. It is clear that concern about these developments is growing along with dissatisfaction with the SPIC Board’s response. Some residents feel their complaints fall on deaf ears. Citizen groups including block watchers have been formed and police have been called regularly reporting suspicious activity. Some residents have even experienced intimidation by individuals who carry on their bullying behavior with apparent immunity.

While I know there are a few residents trying to solve the problems, I do NOT see SPIC and others showing leadership in terms of protecting this community and its homeowners, or giving support where needed. Maintaining the community should be at the front of their duties as elected board members. They should be supporting those who are trying to solve problems with the clout of their office and take a "united we stand" approach, by sticking up for beleaguered homeowners and targeting those who seek to destroy the safety and harmonious way of life for this beautiful area.

To those of you on the board, I say this: I think it is important for all of us, as Sandy Pointers, to realize that our ENTIRE community is at risk. Whether one lives on the lake, the bay, the beach, the heights or Neptune Beach, our property values suffer if people believe crime is on the rise and no one is doing what is needed to stop it. Word does get around. Why buy here if there are safer communities with as much to offer elsewhere. Shorthanded police officers are not the answer. Community muscle can be. You are our muscle, and need to step up to the plate of your elected responsibility.

If you need help in being more effective, I know a very good, nationally recognized author and facilitator, with a vacation home at Sandy Point, who can help you become a board to be proud of. Feel free to contact