Daily Reminders of the Past

Note: I started this post yesterday and couldn’t finish it until today. Thinking about all my aches and pains just got too depressing.

Two weeks before I started Grade 8, my family visited my aunt in St. Louis, Missouri. Like many teens in the early 90s, I rollerbladed everywhere. One evening, I was skating around my aunt’s cul-de-sac when one of the wheels got wedged in a crack in the roads. I hinged forwarded and tried to brace my fall while my hands. My right arm gave way and my head crashed into the asphalt.

I don’t know how long I blackout for, but when I came to my aunt and mom were around me. My head hurt, but my arm and wrist were in searing pain. My mom examined it and said it was just a sprain. My parents hadn’t bought travel insurance, so they didn’t want to bother taking me to an American emergency room.

As the days went on, my arm and wrist did not get better. In fact, anytime moved them I was unbearably painful. I couldn’t convince my parents that my arm needed to be checked out by a doctor. Their solution was to get me a sling.

Weeks later I was back in school with a sling and arm was not any better. I finally convinced my mom to take me to the walk-in clinic, even though she still thought it was a sprain. The walk-in doctor thought it was a sprain as well, but since it wasn’t any better after more than two weeks, so he decided my arm needed to be X-rayed. Even though there was no bruising or swelling, it was still possibly a hairline fracture. The x-rays showed I had a hairline fracture in my radial bone and a dislocated wrist. Suddenly, I felt vindicated.

Even after the cast came off, my wrist never was the same. It would become “clicky” and pop out of place. I learned to manipulate my wrist so the joint would move back into place. In the last five years, my wrist has gotten worse. The joint still slips out of position easily, but now it becomes painful when it does. A chiropractor told me the joint is hypermobile, but I can’t find any evidence to support instances caused by trauma. I really should be in physiotherapy for my wrist, but I’m already being treated for shoulder and hip problems. [1][2]

Yesterday, I attended a mandatory first aid course for work. Performing CPR on a dummy multiple times in a short period is terrible on the wrists. Last night I could barely use my hands, so I wrapped my wrist in kinetic tape.

It’s hard to put the past behind you when you’re still dealing with the consequences. Each ache and pain throughout my body reminds me of the physical traumas of my past. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever forget about that hot summer night in August 1991.

1. Can you see why it was so depressing for me to finish this post?

2. The author recognizes that was a lot of buts in a row

Posted in reflection | Leave a comment

The Joy of Missing Out

I check Facebook less, and I don’t regret it at all. In fact, often when I do check it, I wonder why I bothered. I don’t have FOMO, I have JOMO.

I started a new job, and I have very little free time, why would I waste it on social media? Additionally, I’ve reduced my screen time before bed to help me sleep.

It’s calmed down a bit, but I feel like everyone is fighting on Facebook. I unfriended and muted several people, but it didn’t help much. I find checking Facebook so exhausting. I find it a little easier to handle Twitter because I can filter content if it’s stressing me out too much or if I’m short on time:


I receive daily emails twice a day updating me on current events.  Recent events have shown us Facebook is an unreliable source or news, so why bother?

More importantly, I think Facebook was giving me a false sense of keeping in touch with friends and family. I’m tried of so many of conversations based on “Did you see ______ on Facebook?”. I need to talk more about IRL than my Facebook newsfeed.

Posted in social media, technology | Leave a comment

All I remember is the blood

Today I’m working through the online portion of my first aid course. Every time I take the course, I think about the times I actually used my training. In particular, the time I helped an elderly man with a severe cut on his face.

Reading what I wrote 7 years ago, the experience seems so foreign to me now. Snippets of memories remain and all I remember is the blood. The blood was everywhere: on the stairs, on his face, on my hands. I don’t remember what the man looks like, but I remember the shape of his wounds perfectly. I don’t remember crying in the bathroom later, but I remember washing the blood off my hands.

As much as you prepare, you really don’t know how you will react until you’re in the moment. I wish I had put on gloves before I applied pressure to the wound. I was on a bus, so they must have had a first aid kit. It didn’t occur to me until the EMTs arrived and I noticed my bloody hands. Heaven forbid I ever have to deal with a situation like that again, but at least this time I know what I’d do differently.

Posted in reflection | Leave a comment

“I was overwhelmed, and I’m sure of that one”

New Curriculua. New Language. New Job.

At the end of the first day back for teachers, I received a call that the computer science teacher at a local high school quit. Since I had previously covered a long-term subbing stint for this teacher, the principal asked if I would be able to fill the position. Even though I have never taught my own class of computer science before, I’ve been a technology teacher since dial-up internet was the only option. I completed computer science classes in university nearly a decade ago, and that makes me as qualified as you can get these days.

Before I knew I would be teaching computer science this year, I started to learn Visual Basic and more Java. These languages seem outdated now, especially for the brand new computer science curricula.  I made contact with other CS teachers in the school division, and with what resources they were able to share with me, I decided to torture myself by learning a new programming language, Python. Don’t get me wrong, teaching Python was the right decision, it just takes a lot of time to learn a new language on top of developing lessons and assessments for new curriculua. There will be much less prep work next semester when I have a better handle on Python, and I only need to refine my teaching resources.

Here’s what I’m covering right now:
Computer Science 20: Python Mode for Processing

  • I’m trying to focus more on how programming languages can be used for game design, animations, and graphic arts. I want it to be more of a general interest CS class because many students take it for the 20-level science credit for graduation.

Computer Science 30: Python (with more of a focus on science applications)

Posted in education, technology | 1 Comment

Setting Up Python at Home


Step 1: Download and install Python
Step 2: Download Atom
Step 3: Install and customize Atom
How to install and run Windows Command from Atom

* You can ignore the section on how to run Python from the Windows Command (the next video shows a better way).

How to install Atom and customize Atom

* You need to install pip before you can add some of the packages mentioned in this video.
Installing Pip If you want to install some packages like python-autopep8 or, linter-flake8 you need to install pip
How to Install PIP for Python on Windows, Mac, and Linux


Option 1: TextWrangler/BBEdit 12 (Easy)
Setting up the PythonLearn Environment on a Macintosh
– You don’t have to install any software except TextWrangler/BBEdit 12
– You don’t need to use Terminal
– you cannot customize TextWrangler to the same degree as like Atom
– you will be using a different editor at home than at school

Even though Python is pre-installed on Macs, I would suggest updating to the latest version.

Option 2: Atom
Download Atom

* Ignore the end of the video where he shows how to run different versions of Python.

– You can add packages that will allow you to format your code using the Python Style Guide.
– Option for setting the tab to insert 4 spaces
– Code autocomplete option
– You will be using the same editor at home and school (the shortcuts will be different)
– You have to install additional software to run Python
– You have to use the Terminal to install additional programs

If you install the Atom package, platformio-ide-terminal, you can run terminal from inside Atom (otherwise you have to open the Terminal utility separately. Just click on the “+” at the bottom of Atom to open Terminal.

Installing Pip If you want to install some packages like python-autopep8 or linter-flake8 you need to install pip
How to Install PIP for Python on Windows, Mac, and Linux
If Terminal gives you error messages when you to install a package e.g. pip install autopep8
Try to install again but this time use pip install --user autopep8
This method also works for installing other packages.

Troubleshooting Linter-flake8
If you receive a similar message when you install linter-flake8:
The script flake8 is installed in '/Users/janicecotcher/Library/Python/2.7/bin' which is not on PATH.
You need to change the Executable Path in the linter-flake8 setting in Atom.

Open settings/preferences in Atom, and find linter-flake8.

After you open the linter-flake8 settings, scroll down to Executable Path. Currently, it will say flake8 by default. Check Terminal for the path where flake8 was installed (in this example, /Users/janicecotcher/Library/Python/2.7/bin). Add the path name in front of flake8

Posted in technology | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

A Marginally Clever Online Encounter

Dialogue is not just language. The text itself is a minimal portion of the overall conversation. The overall conversation includes the color of your skin, and includes the way I smell, and includes the way we feel sitting here on the stoop with our thighs touching.

It’s not that there’s anything particularly healthy about cyberspace in itself, but the way in which cyberspace breaks down barriers. Cyberspace makes person-to-person interaction much more likely in an already fragmented society. The thing that people need desperately is random encounter. That’s what community has…There’s a big difference between the computer as a typewriter or a giant adding machine, and the computer as telephone or social space. I check my e-mail four or five times a day and I invariably get something utterly unexpected from a part of the world that I’ve never heard of before. That alerts me to the general human condition and makes me feel more connected to the entire species.

– John Perry Barlow, 1995, from http://www.lionsroar.com/bell-hooks-talks-to-john-perry-barlow/


For me, my original source of social media was blogging. Can you call blogging social media? It was the first time I could post something and people from all over the world could comment. I started blogging out of boredom and loneliness. I was working (not very often) as a substitute teacher and blogging allowed me human connections throughout the quiet days at home. Eventually, several friends and family members started blogs and it became our way of communicating from afar.

In the early 2000s, blogging was very different than now. I’d write the most mundane things and would be inundated with comments. My regular commenters were people I already knew until we encountered Roger.

I don’t remember the exact details (it was nearly 15 years ago) but I remember a very silly comment by a man named Roger randomly appearing on a blog post about Mayim Bialik. Intrigued, I checked out his blog Marginally Clever. He was so funny. It began a badge of honour if Roger commented on your post.

Over weeks, months, and years we got to know Roger in a much more personal way. Our communication with him extended beyond commenting via blogs. It was strange to add someone as a Facebook friend that I’d known for years but had never met in person. If he hadn’t made a random, silly comment that one time, we would have never gotten to know him.

In my own life, these type of random encounters is rare. Twice in my life, I had meaningful in-person conversations with strangers to never see them again. Through social media like Twitter, I occasionally have these “micro encounters” with people but it isn’t the same. Now, I feel there is too much competition for interaction and these random encounters are becoming more rare.

Posted in family, friends, technology | Leave a comment

The Day I Won All the Marbles


There’s a scene from Amelie where a man finds a box of childhood treasures and memories start flooding back.

In my early elementary school years, virtually EVERYONE played marbles at recess. The process was almost part marketplace, part gambling for kids. The rules of “Marbles”:

A kid would set up a marble or pyramid of marbles along the school wall. The goal was for other kids to aim their marble and try to hit your marble(s). If they missed, you kept their marble, and if they hit it, then they got your marble.

Since there is so much variety of size and design of marbles, each would have their own value. Kids would negotiate things like how many chances they got to hit your marble and how far they had to stand when throwing. All this depended on what marble they were aiming at and what marble they were using.

I had very few marbles: I had lousy aim, and my marbles were pretty mundane.  On my way to school, I found a small, frosted sea-green marble. It was unlike anything I had ever seen before. At recess, kids lined up for the chance to win my marble. Because of its rarity, I had the power to set my terms: everyone had one shot from about 10 feet away. Kids complained I was unreasonable, but they took their chance anyway.  By the end of recess, I had more than doubled my number of marbles. In about two weeks, I had an ice cream pail filled with marbles. I felt prestigious and powerful for having so many marbles.

Shortly after my winning streak began, playing marbles was banned at my school for causing too many fights.

Posted in reflection | Leave a comment