Monday, July 31, 2006

Lesson from the Flea Market

It is getting harder to make ends meet. What with the rising cost of gas and everything else, we have tried all sorts of things to increase our earnings. This weekend we tried a flea market. Tracey is very artistic and has created some beautiful jewelry and other crafts that should attract some great interest. I decided to bring some used computer equipment and put it up for sale. We learned some valuable lessons on our first day. First, do not get there too early -- customers do not arrive until later in the day. Second, be ready for intense heat -- fortunately, we were pretty ready (plenty of water in a cooler, plus some fruit for snacking, and a nice fan). Third, make sure you have all the needed equipment -- Mr. Geek forgot a keyboard and mouse for the demo equipment (do I hear a big DUH from the audience?). Fourth, be ready to call it an early day if there are no significant sales (especially in the hot days). Fifth, talk with your neighbor vendors -- you learn a great deal by being sociable.

This last lesson, however, can be extended to many other aspects of life. It is through communications with other, more experienced players in a chosen field, that we shorten our learning curve and gain experience more quickly. Talking with others with an open mind is a very valuable lesson indeed. Above all, have fun doing whatever you are doing at that moment -- it will never happen again.

Monday, July 17, 2006

About Peace

Peace seems to be the one goal that human beings keep pursuing without achieving. It is commendable that we keep trying; goal setting is fantastic. Yet, setting goals without achieving them is an exercise in futility. The Middle East is constantly at the center of violence. Every time violence erupts there I feel humanity's overall energy is drained once more, and humanity as a whole suffers. I have friends with roots in Lebanon and Israel; I have learned from them the hurt that comes from each of these conflicts. I am sure it is the same in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and every country in which violence prevails. When we, as a race, finally challenge our anger into more productive activities we will realize the brightest of futures. May peace be with you wherever you are.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

About teaching and teachers

This week has made me gain even more respect for anyone that teaches. I taught a five-day course covering the complete Linux+ certification. Overall, the course went fantastically. As I expected, there were as many lessons learned by me as by the students. I encourage you to consider teaching a class on any subject you are interested in. You do not have to be an expert on the matter. As I learned, you do need to make a serious commitment of time and effort. You need to prepare for the whole class ahead of time. You need a plan of action for each part of the course. Each day, you need to thoroughly prepare for the next day's session, as well as review the previous day's class to make sure you covered all critical points. If this sounds like a lot of work I confess that it is. In the end, however, it is all worthwhile when students thank you for your efforts. And do not expect perfection in either the classroom, the equipment, the students or yourself. Strive for excellence, not perfection. Things will go wrong and your students will respect you if you calmly tackle each problem; enlist their help and you will begin to build a team. Finally, you do not have to know it all or have all answers to all questions. Encourage your students to research those along with you. Always give honest answers, even if they sometimes may be "I don't know but I will get back to you with a response." Above all, have fun!