28 February 2011

A Rant Against PowerPoint

The other day I had to do a presentation for my PR class. The presentation was to be based on the Research chapter of our book and was to have "additional visual media" including, of course, a PowerPoint presentation. I moaned and decried the unfairness. I hate PowerPoint (generally) and find it incredibly annoying to have to (by grade requirement) to make such presentations only because the teachers can't imagine a better way of presenting the material (while I've been making effective presentations without PowerPoint for more than five years on a variety of topics). I read and reread the presentation requirements and realized that I didn't have to do a PowerPoint but simply had to have a "visual media" to assist in my presentation (though PowerPoint was specifically recommended).

Instead of a lame presentation, I opted to draw a hierarchy of my presentation points and distribute it to my students. This method, I reasoned, would be superior to a PowerPoint presentation for three reasons: First, because we would be presenting in a crowded room from our laptops, the visual appearance of the PowerPoint itself is difficult to see and wouldn't particularly engaging (bad environment). Second, I feel it is important for students to record the insights they gain and thus wanted the students to have a related piece of paper (as opposed the scratch paper) to record on their thoughts and insights on (a learning aid). Third, I felt that the content of the presentation lent itself very well to a hierarchy, which PowerPoint does a poor job of showing because doesn't show the "big picture" very well (topic constraints).

You may be wondering why it is that I dislike PowerPoint so much. The answers are simple. I have spent far too many hours sitting in classrooms and professional presentations where the presenter would show a slide, look at the slide, read the slide, recap the side, move to the next slide and repeat the process. This might not sound so bad, but more often the process looks more like this: Click. "Oh, why did I include this slide?" (Presenter quickly reads the slide to himself.) "Oh, this slide is saying, 'If you can read this then there isn't really a reason for me to read it to you, but I am going to read it aloud anyway because I think you are as slow in the head as garden slugs,' then with a slight pause, 'When people see things on the screen they tend to read them, and if they read them the presenter should not read the words for them. But I did anyway because my presentation is so low on data transfer that I have to teach you as if you were garden slugs, otherwise I don't think you will understand what I am talking about.'" Click. "Why did I include this slide?" (Presenter quickly reads...

These presentations are not only so incredibly boring that even garden slugs would be bored to death, they also have incredibly low information transfer rates. In the end I am forced to suppress an overwhelming desire to get up and yell, "I'm going to lunch. Send me the slides and I will skim them when I get some time," as I walk out the door.

26 February 2011

Quiet, Subtle Moments

It is in the quiet, subtle moments:

  • When she smiles and mouths “thank you” so quickly that no else notices but you.
  • When all he can barely keep a straight face because he is so excited.
  • When he can’t say anything at all, because words escape him.
  • When she laughs harder than she’s laughed all month.
  • When she stands on a chair because your presence liberates her.
  • When he cries on your shoulder and tells you his woes.
  • When you cry on his shoulder and tell him your woes.
  • When you both stay up so late that you become delirious, but you still don’t want to go to bed.
  • When she already knows you are having a bad day, but asks anyway.

It is in these, the quiet, subtle moments, that one can learn the true meaning of friendship and love.

19 February 2011

Roommate (non-Chinese) Fire Drill

The evidence is plain and clear. In fact, it happens so often that we have a place on our counter to indicate it. The dreaded FIRE DRILL. No, this isn't some process imposed upon us by some overlording and highly paranoid apartment manager. This is a process imposed by neccesity, fostered by roommates cooking. The Fire Drill goes something like this:
  1. Roommate decides to cook (stove or over, doesn't matteer).
  2. The food items are selected, prepared and then the cooking begins.
  3. Distraction insues and smoke begins to build. The nature of the distraction doesn't matter, just that it happens.
  4. Once enough smoke has built up, the Living Room smoke detector goes off. The detector is designed to get you out of the smoky building so you don't die. To make this happen more efficiently, the one alarm that can actually detect smoke, the Living Room, convinces all the other alarms (I think they use telepathy for this) to raise the alarm. Within seconds the whole apartment is blarring with the warning of impending doom.
  5. The nearest, and most able roommate (not all are equally capable of this feat) swiftly climbs a near by bar stool and skillfully dismounts and disconnects the smoke detector (it's all in the wrist).
  6. The smoke detector is then placed on the kitchen counter as an indicator that the fire alarm still works.
After months of this, I am still really bad at these fire drills. Maybe I don't try hard enough.

11 February 2011

Cow Farm After an Alien Invasion

Toward the end of last semester, I started receiving what I deemed an exorbitant number of emails (six in two months) from the university Book Store that all said the same thing: come buy your books from us. Their level of desperation has nearly solidified my resolve to avoid buying books from the Book Store as much as possible (instead, I rent the books and that ends up being far less expensive than buying them and selling them back and it's easier on my cash flow), but that isn't what this is all about.

Since I had six opportunities to view their emails, that general pattern started to sink in and instead of simply reading the distastefully colored email, I began to see something entirely different. I was finally bored enough in my science class to actually illustrate the email the way I saw it. I would suggest starting with the Original Version and then progressing to the Full Version. The Full Annotated Version is a bit of overkill, but I was bored, and overkill is what happens in Alien Invasions anyway.

The Documents:
Original Version

Full Version

Annotated Version

03 February 2011

Why I Learned to Procrastinate

When I first started college, I was amazing. I would get the syllabus and start plugging away through it. My goal would be to complete as much of the coursework as I could, as soon as I could. My school life was a fairy tale; it was a dream. That is, all was well until my teachers started raining on my parade. I kept running into teachers who would repeatedly change the requirements of the assignment. Not usually to make them harder but easier or to change the desired outcomes all together. In the end, I began to realize that it was counterproductive and in some cases a punishment to complete an assignment too early. So, you could say that school has taught me that it is best to wait until the due date is coming near to complete assignments. How sad is that?