Monday, January 07, 2008

The Professor

We bought a Christmas Card from a shop over in England that I thought was extremely funny. It has a picture of a little boy playing with alphabet blocks. There are a great stack of them around him .. the caption reads (no kidding) "Dave wonders if he has enough blocks to spell out 'This Christmas present is shite.'" Both Joe and I howled when we read the caption and put the card in a stack of other outrageous, and some obscene, Christmas cards.

I get what the kid is thinking. Joe, wonderful man that he is, isn't the shopper in the family. I'm the gifter. I listen to what people say, know their likes and dislikes, hear subtle hints, and then can spend enjoyable hours finding something I think they will like. Joe doesn't do that. After well over thirty years of buying presents he comes to me each year with a pen and pad and says, "So what am I buying you this year." It's his way of saying, "The only way you are going to get it, you are going to have to order it." And I give him the list.

But I also hint, broadly hint, I really wanted the DVD box set of Deadwood, just the first one to see if we liked it. When I openned my presents this year I got a DVD box set of a television western I'd never heard of, Into the West, I think. I looked at Joe blankly and said, "Deadwood?" He told me he didn't get Deadwood because I wanted it and he thought he'd suprise me with something else. Well, he did. I've learned to smile through these little moments.

But he did get me something on my list. I wanted a Nintendo DS. Throughout our trip in England they'd been advertised on television in commercials that were aimed at adults my age. They showed Jean-Luc Picard (otherwise known as Patrick Stewart) playing a vocabulary game - for one. The idea of having one of this crept up on me because I do like games but video games elude me because I don't really like killing. I find blood, um, icky.

So I've been playing 'My Word Coach' quite a lot. These are games masquarading as education and 'mind building' - but essentially they are games. I've gotten up to a new level where they've given a new game where blocks drop down a grid and players have to pick out a set of words from the letters before the letters reach the top. On easy level, it was easy. It's now gone to medium level and I am having a tough go, last try I got 4 (of twenty) AND a time penalty. This is the worst I've ever done. Up until now I've breezed through the games.

I waited in anticipation for my Word Coach. You have a choice of coaches, I've kept the bald, cartoon professor guy, as the other choices seemed to young. What would he say, my coach. He's there to give instruction and occasional bits of praise. He's been endlessly positive with me, my little computer friend. But now 4 - WITH a time penalty. What would he say, well when he came onscreen to comment on my performance he said, "All you need is a bit more practice." He didn't yell, roll his eyes, or any of those things.

Ah, I think, he's programmed to be positive.

Ah, I think, he's programmed to be patient.

Ah, I think, he's programmed to be endlessly optimistic about the skills of others.

I've been feeling the back of my head, where's the slot for that chip? It'd make life a whole lot brighter - for all those around me.


Tamara said...

Oh - I think I can go get ready for work with a smile on my face now! Yes, I want that chip! And I want to give it to all my son's teachers!

Can I put this in my IEP packet?


Kei said...

Ohhh, a Patrick Stewart ad for DS.. how cool! I'm with you... no bloody games for me. I love word games, numbers.. things that I hope will keep my brain working so I don't feel like I'm getting all senile, no matter what my kids say. ;)

Sometimes I wish people came with a chip to make them a little more optimistic and patient. I could use it too. Or one for filtering what comes out of my mouth.

Unknown said...

What a coincidence, I read Marc Siegels blog daily, and today he's writing about the game "scrabulous" on the Facebook network. He's been playing it for some time together with his brother.
Playing scrabble must be good to preserve our grey brain cells, I've learned this in an interview with a French geriatrist (Oh, is this the right word for what I mean?)

Unknown said...

I laughed my head off at your description of Joe and the pad for presents! Both of us are useless at giving. We just can't get into it, no matter how hard we try! But like you we both laugh it off. We agreed to give thoughtful gifts for our birthdays! I know its a bit wackey....but we don't mind.....its our way! After 27 years with each other we have come to understand the really important things.....

rickismom said...

Gee, the other comments want the chip for teachers, people. I want for myself. With a cranky 13 year old daughter that I am SLOWLY working with on a bunch of obnoxious behavior....I need this myself!

Anonymous said...

It's funny,I had a conversation today with someone who works upstairs. I was talking about how something simple as a change of focus could create a big difference. I was speaking about something I had been working through with a friend about if services focused on supporting people based upon what interests them rather than on money, time and trasport. If they switched the foucs to using money, time and transport to help support those things better then services would be shaped to serve people better.
The person sighed and said "you're clearly an optimist". I said I have been accused of that before. I felt a little brushed off by that comment as if they didn't want to talk about it. But as she walked back up the stairs she called down " it's the only way you'll make change happen" and with a big smile went back to work.

Perhaps it was a refreshing change, the usual convesation on a ciggie break is often about how tired people are or how bogged down with work. I hope that the little bit of optimism, a postive slant on things brought about a little change there.

Dave once again, I find you have blogged about the thing I have been mulling over today! You always amaze me with your insight and you ability to learn from such experiences.


Shan said...

Yes but I think you'll find that he's been programmed not to have any emotion. So I'll skip the chip, I think.
; )

Anonymous said...

Shan. - How fantastic. I want it even more. How many times my emotions scred my work and other's day? I want the chip for other's good.

Yatseq said...

But I want the chip only at work.
Can you imagine? You could listen to your supervisor all day and believe it does make sense what he/she is saying/ or just not get angry.