We re-aligned our computer courses last year. Our school formerly was one of the few with a Computer Studies Department, with computer science and computer technology courses all existing under a single banner. Last year the department was dissolved and computer science was put under the Mathematics Department while computer technology was re-integrated with the Technology Department.
I transitioned from Computer Studies Head to a co-head of Technology, but I’m finding working in such a diverse (we cover everything from metal work to food school to digital design) department challenging. With so many horses pulling in so many directions, I can’t help but feel that digital technologies tends to be a second thought. Rather than feel excluded I’ve been finding ways to develop a stronger digital technologies continuum.
The computer lab has always been next to the design lab, though run by different departments. Now that we’re on the same team so to speak, I’ve been re-thinking how digital technologies, always minimally represented in terms of classes, should work within the school. We’ve been developing an integrated digital technologies curriculum in order to facilitate that.
With the dissolution of Computer Studies the realigning of our school’s digital technologies was inevitable. No longer is Technology Design the lone digitally focused technology course in the department. Combined with Computer Technology, our digital technology courses can now offer a continuum of learning across a wide variety of digital platforms.
I initially felt that dissolving the computer department was going to be bad for the discipline, but now I’m feeling a new synergy.
By drawing together our digitally focused technology courses under the many common threads they share we’re able to offer 9-12 curriculum in a wider variety of areas. For students in a rural area where digital-tech doesn’t have the social impact it has in more urban settings this is a big deal.
The first step was to diversify our high-tech offerings. I argued successfully at Heads for Tech-Design to offer Robotics (our tech design teacher has a background in it). I also argued successfully for a Software Engineering option that would allow students interested in the field to experience industry standard practices around software development rather than the mathematics focus offered by computer science.
From the junior grades students get a wide variety of choice in 11 & 12 around what aspects of digital technology they want to pursue. And even if the student isn’t going into a tech-focused profession, they are at least able to develop the kind of digital fluency that will be handy in any 21st Century workplace. Of course, digital-tech doesn’t end at the workplace. If we’re going to graduate citizens capable of communicating in the 21st Century, they need to have digital fluency.
I always felt isolated as the head of computers with only a part time comp-sci teacher who wasn’t interested in collaborating. Now that I’m the co-head of tech, or perhaps Head of Digital Technologies fits better, I’m able to empower our tech-design as well as my own computer-tech fields and build a more complete set of options for our students to benefit from.
Change isn’t always easy, but in this case I feel like it’s led to a good place where teamwork and a common goal has replaced cold, distant collegiality.
Turns out the Concours didn’t need a new bulb, it just needed some more electrical connection cleaning. After replacing the bulb that wasn’t blown I finally took off the fairing only to discover that, like all the other electrical gremlins, it was a matter of dirty connectors.
After cleaning up the wiring harness, suddenly all the lights work again. I posted what happened on the COG discussions and got this pearl:
As usually happens in a case like this, you immediately see the good advice repeated. Only a couple of nights later I was reading Performance Bike Magazine. They do a bit each month on what to look for in finding an older model sport bike, in this case the thirteen year old Honda VTR1000 SP2. In the article they suggest that cleaning and protecting all electrical contacts on a bike that old is a good winter-time activity. If it’s true for well cared for sports bikes half as old, it’s even truer for my field-found Connie.
As WillyP states above, bikes aren’t built to keep out the elements, even the most covered bike is virtually naked compared to a car. Even in the case of a well cared for, covered sports bike, cleaning the electrical contacts is a worthwhile off-season ritual. In the case of a field-found Concours, it’s where I should have started in the first place. A breakdown and electrical cleaning is my go-to next time around.
As a project bike the Concours continues to teach lessons even as it becomes more and more roadworthy.
This changes on a moment to moment basis, but in this moment, here is what I wish was looking back at me when I opened the door to the iron horse stable:
1) An outfit fit for my son and I: A Royal Enfield Bullet Classic with a Rocket Sidecar.
500cc Bullet Classic: $6350
Sportmax Rocket sidecar: $3500+~$1200 installation
The whole outfit would cost about ~$11,000 new… I found a used outfit for $8000, might find another for less.
2) A scooter for my wife: Vespa 946
It’s a dream list so I’ll go for the fantastically expensive Vespa, though Honda makes some mighty nice alternatives for one third the price.
The Vespa? $9999 for a year old new one (!?!)
(the similarly spec-ed Honda PCX150 comes in at $3899). I’ve found clean, used scooters for about $1000.
3) State of the art Hyper-bike:
This has always been a Hayabusa, though I’d chuck it all in for the new Ninja H2R.
Ninja H2R: ???
4) A Light Weight, Swiss-Army Knife dual purpose bike:
The Suzuki DR-Z400S: $7299
Over 100lbs lighter than a KLR, a super capable, light weight enduro machine that can manage weight, still has good power, but follows the Austin Vince minimalist ethos: nimble, efficient, ultra-capable off road. Found a used one in good nick for about $4000.
5) A matching off-road bike for my son:
Not sure of the spec on this one. It would have to be the one he feels most comfortable on because he’s a cautious fellow.
~$2-3000 new – there seem to be a lot of used ones about for ~$1000
I’d be looking at about $50,000 in new (dream) gear. On a budget I think I could pick up (used) the two dirt bikes for $5000, a hyperbike for $7000, a scooter for $1500 and an outfit for $3-5000. So $16-18500 for a more realistic dream stable…
Inclusivity is what I’m aiming for with this collection. We three could go for a putter on scooter and outfit. My son and I could go off roading together. Only the Hayabusa really smacks of selfishness.
Of course this will all change again next week, so I’m not holding my breath.
We had a tough week at work. A colleague, the kind of guy who you assume will outlast you because he does everything right, was killed last weekend in a motor vehicle ‘accident’. I put accident in quotes because it’s not really an accident when the other driver blows through a stop sign while speeding and kills you and your wife (and himself).
You’d be right to say I’m a bit angry about this, but I’m also rather desperately looking for a reason for it. That things can happen for no reason bothers me, but they do. They did nothing wrong. They were driving home after dropping their son off at university. They were driving in an SUV with a five star safety rating. I want there to be a reason (the guy who hit them was drunk, distracted, somehow incompetent), but I fear there is none; there is no reason why they are dead other than the most basic one: motor vehicles are inherently dangerous and a number of people who operate them aren’t able to do so well enough to ensure your safety.
If we are going to let pretty much anyone strap themselves into a metal box powered by exploding gases and shoot themselves down roads at high speed, we have to accept that there is an inherent risk, no matter how capable they may be, of death. Whenever you get into any kind of motor vehicle you accept this risk, or you don’t get into the vehicle.
It’s generally understood that getting on a motorbike makes this calculus so obvious that people can’t help but tell you (over and over) how dangerous it is. Those same people will go out and buy five star rated SUVs thinking they’ve beaten the odds. Those big vehicles mean you’ll always come out of a minor incident, and if you find yourself in a lot of minor incidents then I suppose they make sense. Better to spend the money on a bigger vehicle rather than making efforts to reduce your inability. Driver training courses are significantly cheaper than operating a large vehicle, but pride prevents most people from considering them. We end up in an arms race with the most distracted, incapable drivers operating larger and larger vehicles for their own safety.
I’ve been trying to suss out government safety statistics. I have a feeling that people who have taken motorcycle safety training have fewer accidents than the general public. The kind of defensive driving presented to new motorcycle riders is foreign to most drivers in cages who don’t respect the dangerous position they are placing themselves in. I suspect that there would be way fewer accidents if everyone had to ride a motorbike for the first year of their license. Exposure gives you a healthy respect for the dangerous mechanics of operating a motor vehicle at high speed.
Were I in my mini-van with my wife and son, I would have probably driven into this disaster just as that colleague of mine did. Were I on my motorbike, I’d approach that intersection with the same everyone-is-trying-to-kill-me attitude that I’ve adopted since my initial motorbike training course. On a bike I’d have sworn at the idiot who ran the stop sign after braking hard to avoid him. In an insulated motor vehicle, remote from the world around me, I’d have assumed I was safely following the laws of the road until it didn’t matter any more.
Followup: just to make things weirder, this past week I died in a car accident (same name, similar age, lived about 100kms west of me) and a guy who started teaching at the same time I did and is a year younger than me also passed. Maybe this is just what getting older feels like, you see others around you dropping out of life and can’t help but wonder why you’re still here.