For the past several years I have been a mentor for a young man from Nashville, Tennessee. I signed up for this task through the organization “We Teach Science”.  It’s an excellent service provided by that group of teaching professionals.  Well, my mentee decided to attend the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga as an entering freshman this year.  He is studying Civil Engineering.  Due to the COVID-19 virus, the entire UT system has decided that all students will work online for the remainder of the year.  Graduation will be held online and not in person.  I have no idea as to how this will work but there will be an attempt.

When I called this past Monday to talk to my mentee, I was told that he is packing up; leaving his dorm room and heading back to Nashville to work online.  I had no idea the boarding students would be required to leave campus but it is perfectly logical since students do congregate, work together and socialize everyday-all day.  The advent of the digital age allows everyone to do that with great ease.  You have to have equipment and software but all colleges and universities have that established.   The days of standing in endless lines signing up for your courses is long over.  It’s all done online now. 

The following article is from the USA Today web site.  I’m quoting this in its entirety.

“In the span of roughly two weeks, the American higher education system has transformed. Its future is increasingly uncertain. 

Most classes are now being held online, often for the rest of the semester. Dorms are emptying across the country. Some universities are even postponing or canceling graduation ceremonies scheduled months out. This is all the more surprising given most universities have a reputation for being reticent to change, especially in a short amount of time.

The coronavirus has changed all that. As of Thursday evening, the number of U.S. cases stood at more than 14,200, with 205 deaths

Colleges have tried to react quickly to enact measures that would help to stop the virus’ spread. On America’s campuses, professors and students, many of them international, work in close proximity for long periods of time. Dorm rooms are often shared between multiple individuals, making social distancing next to impossible.

All of those changes could threaten colleges’ existence. Parents and students are demanding refunds for shortened semesters in the dorm. The value and quality of an elite college education is under scrutiny as universities pivot to makeshift online classes.  And its unclear how students will view colleges once the crisis is over and they’re welcomed back on campuses. “

About 2,642,158 students – twelve and one-half (12.5%) percent of all college students – took online courses exclusively, and the other thirteen-point three (13.3%) percent of students combines online studies with traditional courses.  These statistics show that online studies are definitely gaining in popularity.  In other words, they are here to stay. 

If you want to see just what is available and what learning institutions offer online courses, go to the web site “Comprehensive List of All Accredited Online Schools”.  I was amazed at the number of schools providing this great service.  Basically, if a university doesn’t do it now, they will miss out completely in future months and years.  CORVID-19 is accelerating that occurrence greatly.

Now, most of the schools and universities are fully accredited institutions that have been around years and years.  They are not the “Johnny-come-lately” types that take your money and provide a diploma for just signing up.  The course work is real.  Let’s take a look at several.

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga has spent millions of dollars over the past ten (10) years to attract students and compete with other universities.  New library, new dorm room building, new student center, new medical facilities, new athletic facility, etc.  My mentee’s dorm room looks like something you would find in a Hilton Hotel.  He has three dorm mates, all with their own rooms.  A kitchen. A common area. His own bathroom.  Back in the dark ages when I went to school, I had a room mate and common bath facilities down the hall.  Life has changed and probably for the better.  At any rate, the common thread for administrators has been the necessity of providing all of the facilities and even amenities a student needs or feels he or she needs.

There are some courses that cannot be taught online.  All courses that require labs.  Students in pre-med or medical schools where the subject matter must be or should be presented by an instructor.  I have questions about the accessibility of instructors from a question and answer standpoint.  In-class instruction gives you immediate access whereas online not always does.  In the future, and as time go by, these questions and difficulties will be worked out.

CONCLUSIONS:  COVID-19 is only accelerating the online trend.  I do suspect the future will allow most students to take online courses which will somewhat obsolete certain facilities now available to students.  This should bring down the cost of education and hopefully lessen the huge student loan situation that now exists.  Over a trillion dollars ($1,000,000,000,000) in student loans are now outstanding.  At some point, that bubble with burst.

OH, THE PLACES WE WILL GO

October 17, 2019


If you have been reading my posts you know my wife and I recently traveled to Oregon.  Beautiful state!  One of the cities we visited was at the most northern end of the Willamette Valley, McMinnville. 

The map above will give you some idea as to where McMinnville is located.  If you look closely, you can see it is just southeast of Portland.  (I know this is difficult to see so just trust me on this one.)  You never know what you will find when you travel to a place you have never been before but this little city was a great and pleasant surprise. 

Their “official” web site indicates the following:

“McMinnville, Oregon is a warmhearted city of about 33,000 residents located in the heart of Oregon wine country, not too close — or too far– from the bustle of Oregon’s largest cities, Portland and Salem. Our Willamette Valley town is the seat of Yamhill County and officially became a city in 1882. Fast forward to today, McMinnville is a hub for those who appreciate the laid-back style of a small town with great taste. With over 220 wineries to sip at and an overwhelming amount of farm-to-table and artisan dining experiences to be had, you’ll find yourself having little time left to discover the rest of McMinnville’s attractions and charm.  The historic downtown area is the heart of the city and is “Oregon’s Favorite Main Street,” also known as Third Street. Downtown McMinnville is a stroll worthy stop with its tree-lined streets anchored by quaint boutiques, cool coffeehouses, and kitschy antiquaries punctuated with wine tasting rooms, craft breweries and bars, and a tasty mix of award-winning restaurants. Voted among the best main streets in America, the downtown core hosts a variety of events and community celebrations from the annual UFO Festival and Turkey Rama to weekly farmer’s markets. “

I have left the hyperlinks in their web site so you may gain additional information.  Given below is what we first saw when we entered the hamlet.

A little overcast when we got there, nevertheless, a beautiful little town.  Since McMinnville is somewhat of a tourist town, there were many really good restaurants waiting to be explored.  One such was La Rambla.  It was great and so great we ate there twice during our three-day visit.  Let’s take a look.

La Rambla:

I would invite you to take a look at their menu.  Hyperlink:  https://laramblaonthird.com/menu/. I won’t print out the entire menu but trust me, it’s worth taking a look.

The first thing you see when you walk in is the bar.

Well stocked with most of the wine produced in the Valley as well as the “hard stuff”.  The entire restaurant was furnished with oak, teak, and mahogany with craftsmanship you would find in historic residences.  It took time to look at the furnishings and wall hangings so we were there about thirty minutes after our meal was served and consumed.  The picture below shows a dining room that accommodates small parties. 

We had the paella and it was simply MARVELOUS.  The dish is shown below.  Our order served two people but a larger order, three or four. 

The following note is given on the menu so you will know you have a slight wait before you can sample the wonderful flavors.

It did take every bit of forty-five minutes but the wait was definitely worth it.  For those of you who need to be refreshed as to the origins of paella:

Paella (Valencian pronunciation: [paˈeʎa]; Spanish: [paˈeʎa]) is a Valencian rice dish that has ancient roots, but its modern form traces origins in the mid-19th century in the area around the Albufera lagoon on the east coast of Spain adjacent to the city of Valencia.  It originated in the fields of a region called Valencia on the eastern coast of Spain. Today paella is made in every region of Spain; using just about any ingredient that goes well with rice.

The dish Paella is said to be a perfect union between two cultures from Spain, the Romans, for the pan and the Arab, that brought rice.

There is an old story of how the Moorish kings’ servants created rice dishes by mixing the left-overs from royal banquets in large pots to take home. It is said by some that that word paella originates from the Arab word “baqiyah” meaning left-overs. The term Paella actually refers to the pan that it is cooked in. All the way back to the ancient Sanskrit language the term Pa means …to drink, and the Roman culture from the Latin made words like Patera, Patina, Patella which could mean a container to drink, or perform other culinary functions.

It would seem that paella might be a natural dish, since rice is grown in Spain, and all meats, and seafood in some regions are plentiful.  Since there are many workers in the fields, cooking it over an open fire also would be the most practical. Spain is not known for forests and lots of timber, so the small available twigs and branches from pruning that are green gave a quick hot fire instead of a slow burning one from logs.


So, the size of the pan grew instead of the depth, so you could get a hot fire a maximum evaporation.

The pan, shown above, is characterized by being round with a flat bottom.
The pan can be anywhere from a LP record 12 inches in diameter to several feet. The one thing that doesn’t change is the height. It is about first joint in the thumb deep as the Spanish would say, so that the rice has maximum contact with the bottom of the pan.  It evolved, starting with a rounded bottom, designed to hang over a fire. It is thought that as soon as some sort of grill or flat top burner was invented that the pans started to become flatter at the bottom.

Our paella was served in the pan it was cooked in and it was HOT with a capital “H”.  I mean we cooled each bit when we started to keep from visiting the local ER.  Our entire meal took well over an hour to eat but that was just fine.  Paella, wine, great bread, great atmosphere, what else could  you want on a vacation?

ACCOMODATING TECHNOLOGY

June 12, 2012


Several days ago I scheduled a short trip to visit a prospective client in Cumming, Georgia.  I knew that Cumming was just north of Atlanta but needed to know what exit to take off of I-75 south.  Needing gas anyway, I stopped at my local BP to fill up AND purchase a Georgia map.  I was somewhat surprised when the attendant told me they no longer sold maps.  “Everyone has a GPS now, no need for maps anymore” was his reply.

 I suppose everyone on the planet has seen the YouTube video of the lady walking while texting.  She is at a mall; absolutely absorbed in the process while heading towards a fountain “planted” in her direct path.  In she goes –head first.   Fortunately, she was not physically injured but I’m sure her pride was definitely affected.  (By the way, she sued the mall for not posting signs indicating the position of the fountain and for releasing the video.  I have no idea if she won or lost. )

These two examples illustrate how technology is affecting our behavior and how we modify our behavior to make accommodations, necessary or otherwise.  One of the biggest problems we have in Tennessee is texting while driving.  The death rate on our highways elevates each year due to this dangerous practice.  I would hazard a guess that none of the messages sent while driving are critical and could certainly wait until the automobile is stationary.   Technology seems to dictate making us the slave and not the master.   Seemingly, we lose control when these communication devices are available.  The urgency does not escape us and we react. 

Our two oldest grandchildren, ages twenty and eighteen, spend hours each week on Facebook.  They both have hundreds of friends, not to mention family, they communicate with on a weekly basis.   I have actually been in their presence as they talk to each other, using Facebook, while sitting on the same couch.  Go figure.   Psychologists in the United States indicate there are 350 million (yes million) people addicted to Face book.  This addition is called F.A.D or Face book Addictive Disorder.  I strongly suspect there is a comparable addiction to Twitter and YouTube. 

Another incredible advance, linking your smart phone with your PC.  This allows you to receive e-mail on your “mobile” while away from the office.  Now I really like this one except for the fact that I’m always working—always!  There never seems to be a waking hour that I am not on call.  This means I am always “reachable” and people expect a return message, night or day.   This, as you might expect, can be a real pain and there no longer is the excuse, “I was away from the office.”

I think behavioral modification first came with the Home Shopping Network, then e-Bay, then Amazon, now Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.  I can’t imagine what might be next but it seems to me millions of hours are blown away each year as we allow these technologies to overtake our lives.  Remarkable and useful as they are, should we not be involved with more meaningful pursuits?  If we don’t do otherwise, would we all be more than wet?  Just a thought.

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