Signs & wonders

Snow signal

Red means stop; green means go. When the signal lights “snow,” which way do you go?

This is my belated Day Sixteen submission to a river of stones, a month-long challenge to notice (and record) just one thing every day. I’ll be posting my “stones” both here and on Twitter, where submissions are tagged as #aros. Enjoy!

Hanging icicles

“Beware of falling ice,” one sign warns. “Snow falling from bridges,” a highway sign flashes. So many nudges toward mindfulness.

This is my Day Thirteen submission to a river of stones, a month-long challenge to notice (and record) just one thing every day. I’ll be posting my “stones” both here and on Twitter, where submissions are tagged as #aros. Enjoy!

Could use a coat of paint

They say the cobbler’s children have no shoes, and it seems the proprietors of Pill Hardware in Central Square, Cambridge are so busy helping other folks with their home improvement projects, they don’t have time to give their old sign a new coat of paint.

Sign of spring?

Shall we file this one under “Goes without saying?”

We delete users unfit to date!

Online dating isn’t an exclusively urban phenomenon: there are, presumably, plenty of people in need of a fix-up and looking for chicks in the suburbs, exurbs, and rural areas. But only in the city will you find subway billboards advertising online dating sites, and there’s something ruthlessly urban in this Boston sign promising to “delete users unfit to date.” It’s a jungle out there, people: the Sex in the City crowd isn’t afraid to apply the rules of survival of the fittest in the search for a “keeper.”

Human are stupid

Neither are city dwellers (at least the ones with indelible markers) shy about correcting others’ grammar-goofs. On the same subway ride into Boston this past Saturday, J and I spotted this bit of grammatical repartee on the window-sill of an MBTA green line car. “Human are stupid” says one vandalizing subway rider. “So is your grammar,” responds the second. On this National Grammar Day, it’s intriguing to realize that in the city, even the Grammar Police are willing to indulge in some corrective graffiti every now and then.

This is my belated contribution to last week’s Photo Friday theme, City Life.

They never covered THIS in Driver's Ed

Be careful what you pray for: you just might get it. If you’ve ever been tempted to ask God to give you a sign, be aware that the Deity might take you literally. Does God have a sense of humor? Only if you think having a snowplow-pushed road sign land on some hapless stranger’s car is funny. Or perhaps you have to see the other side of this sign to see the humor:

Is this a sign...

Toppled street signs

Maybe parking in front of the Waban Post Office, even on a Saturday when the one-hour parking restriction isn’t in effect, is never a good idea. During snowplow season, no sign anywhere is safe, so let drivers beware.

Emergency phone / you are beautiful

In times of emergency, we can all use a reminder, even if the message is one we’ve already heard from a black-booted stranger.

Brain Power

Oh, if only it were that easy! I had to laugh when I saw a sign at Whole Foods this weekend promising “Brain Power” by the bottle, as if smarts were so easy to supplement. Maybe only the mentally deficient would be gullible enough to believe that brains can be bought?

Artistic License

Right now I think I could use an industrial-sized container of Mega-Brain as I continue to face the online teaching learning curve I described last week. On Saturday afternoon, it took me about 45 minutes to figure out how to post to Blackboard version 8 a quiz that would have taken me about 5 minutes to post on Blackboard version 6. Why in the name of industrial-sized bottles of Brain Power would the developers who “upgraded” Blackboard think the proper default availability for tests should be “unavailable,” especially in a repeat course in which quizzes had already been created and deployed? Today I’ve experienced deja vu all over again as I tried to accomplish the simple task of downloading student papers from my two sections of College Composition. In Blackboard 6, that would have involved going into my online grade-book, clicking on each student’s ungraded assignment, saving the accompanying file attachment, and being done. Downloading an entire class worth of assignments would take 5-10 minutes, tops.

Standpipe with apple

This afternoon, it took me another 45 minutes or so simply to find the portion of the Blackboard manual devoted to “Assignment download,” which is, astonishingly, not mentioned in the manual’s Table of Contents. Judging from the Table of Contents, instructors “Create” assignments and then “Input grades,” but they never actually download the papers that students submit. One bit of Manual copy helpfully noted that assignments submitted by students via assignment links are accessible to instructors via the “Grade Center”…but there was no indication of how instructors might “access” these file attachments within the mystifying Grade Center, nor any link to the portion of the Manual that actually explains that part of the process. I guess if I had enough Brain Power, I’d be able to grade student papers without reading them, or I’d be able to know telepathically where in the mighty Manual an answer to a perfectly reasonable question might be found.

Nice people here

Only after searching for the term “Assignment” did I find a hidden page telling me how to download assignments from my Grade Center, which is easy enough to do once you know how to do it (although I would have never intuitively “guessed” the process). Happily, this version of Blackboard makes it easy for instructors to download multiple assignments all at once; unhappily, these assignments are saved with default names that do not make it easy to list files alphabetically in their target directory (unless, of course, you set up your grade-book to alphabetize students by first name…and who does that?)

So now that I’ve spent at least an hour and a half this weekend and today pounding my head against the mental wall called “teaching an old dog new tricks,” I think I might need a bottle or two of Brain Power. At least, though, I still have the intellectual acumen to realize the importance of proofreading (or at least spell-checking) a flyer advertising one’s handyman services, especially if red-letter highlighting will only draw attention to your slips in spelling.

Proofread much?

Not exactly full disclosure

The Cambridge police department will gladly share crime alerts with you if you can figure out where to sign up for them.

Say what?

Due to last month’s defeat of a proposed tax increase here in Newton, all branch libraries are set to close this Friday. This morning outside the Waban branch library, a homemade sign urged passersby to “Save our Waban branch library & our librarians.” Unfortunately, yesterday’s rain muted the water-soluble message, leaving one indelible moral: some colors do run.

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