Monday, January 25, 2016

A Science Guy’s Almanac #16. Year 2. January 24, 2016 PLNC/PLNU kids

A Science Guy’s Almanac #16. Year 2. January 24, 2016

I am a member of the Church of the Nazarene. In October of 1995, I was reading the denominational magazine, Herald of Holiness, when I saw a blurb for “Openings in Nazarene Higher Education.” One of those openings was listed at Point Loma in Education. I remember thinking, “that’s quite a coincidence.”

In February of 1996, the Herald of Holiness had its annual education issue. In that issue, the blurb for the job at PLNC was described in more detail—specifically Teacher Education: Secondary Curriculum. At that point in my “PhD-dom”, I didn’t know much, but if I knew something it was secondary (middle/high school) curriculum. So I asked a lady at my church who work at the college whom I should contact. She gave me a name and phone number.

When I called the number the next day, the phone was answered by a male voice.
“Patrick Allen,” was all he said.

Now, Patrick Allen was the name of the person given to me by my “contact.” But I expected to talk to someone higher than a person who answered his own phone. Never the less, I explained who I was and my interest. He said to send him a letter, which I did. Shortly after defending my dissertation, I was hired as an Associate Professor.

Patrick Allen turned out to be the Vice President of Academic Affairs (also known as Provost). At that point in time, he was the second in command of the whole campus. He just liked answering his own phone for about an hour every day. He was very gracious in convincing the hiring panel to give me one year of teaching credit for every two years of my high school experience, “since it is what he’s going to be teaching.”
When I accepted the position at Point Loma Nazarene College (PLNC) in 1996, I became part of the Teacher Education Department.

While I did take a pay cut to go to PLNC, my youngest son got a tuition-free education there. I was promoted to full professor in 1999.

Inside the Teacher Education Department, I was, at first, the Secondary Education Coordinator. Later I become the Chair of the whole department. While that was not my dream job, I know I was privileged to chair one of the best Teacher Education Departments in California. However, for most of my time at PLNU (the school upgraded itself to University in 1999), I did get the privilege to work in the Biology Department each semester.

Most semesters I taught one section of the lab for Bio101: Human Biology and Bioethics, the General Education requirement. My lab section was specifically designated for Elementary Teacher majors, who, as a rule, don’t like science (or math) much at all. I considered it my goal to have them leave the class willing to at least tolerate the idea of teaching science in their classes. I think I met that goal.

Twice in my tenure at PLNU, I was asked/allowed to teach the lecture section that went along with three of the lab sections of Bio101. We met in a lecture hall. I had 72 students, only 24 of which were in my own lab section. I really enjoyed those times. After the second time I taught the lecture, I received a written commendation for excellence in teaching from the Dean for having “outstanding evaluations” from my students. I’m very proud that non-science students thought enough of me and my teaching to rank and positively comment on a science class.

A highlight of all my teaching is story-telling. I have a great time when I teach if the students will allow it. As long as they are willing to get back on task when asked, I am willing to go “outside the lines” for a time. I have several stories about injuries I have sustained over time. And, I like to paint word-pictures to help kids remember things. For example:
When talking about human female anatomy, one of the caveats I provide is that women need to support their breast tissue during pregnancy. The support is necessary because the breasts are not supported by muscle, only skin. Failure to adequately support the breasts during pregnancy may result in what I call “The National Geographic Look”—you know, that’s where you take your breast measurement and your waist measurement at the same place (here I demonstrate in pantomime how one would have to lift certain assets out of the way while using the tape measure for the second measurement. A brief silence, then snorts and snickers, and finally genuine laughter usually follow this story. I suspect my former students visit the maternity bra tables soon after learning of a pregnancy.

I have a booklet, which I cherish, from two of my PLNU students who dutifully recorded many of my sayings and presented them to me on the last day of class. You can check it out try to guess what might have been the context for each comment.

In my experience, monetary compensation doesn’t come close to what students give spontaneously from the heart.

Next Almanac post: A ruptured Spinal Disk and Giant Snowflakes – Part 1

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Thursday, January 21, 2016

Timeless Truths #3. Jesus in the Book of John-Part 1

3. Jesus in the Book of John-Part 1
January 21, 2016

The book of John is a look into the mission of Jesus during his earthly ministry. The word mission is derived from the Latin mitto, “to send.” This blog provides insights from Chapters 1, 3, 4, 13, 15, and 20. Part 2 concentrates on Chapter 17. All quotations are from NIV.

1:14.        The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. Christ’s mission starts with the words “became flesh.” This shows that the mission was at the heart of God.

Conversations of Jesus
Ch 3 and 4. In His conversations with both Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman, Christ’s makes it clear that our lives and words should bear witness to Him. Although an important concept, this was only part of Christ’s Earthly mission.

Jesus washes His disciples’ feet
13:12+    Feet washing brings us closer to the mission of serving described in John’s Gospel.
13:34-35     Loving one another is the sign of being Christ’s disciples.

The Mission is…
In Chapter 15, John shows us that God’s love as the model for our mission. We need to “hang out” in Jesus’ love by loving each other as Jesus loves us.

John’s Gospel is all about mission: sending and being sent.
20:20-22: After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit.”

Thanks to Michael Lodhal, Ph.D. for the teachings used in Jesus in John blogs.
Next Thursday's Timeless Truths Series: Jesus in the Book of John-Part 2
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I'd appreciate your feedback!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Writers Unite!

Writers Unite!

Nearly every independent author around the United States tell the same story.
  • I wrote this great book.
  • I self-published/indie-published that book
  • I’m not selling very many/any books.
  • I’m seriously frustrated!

The reason the stories all have that plot is that more and more books are published faster and faster. There are MILLIONS of books out there NOW and more coming every hour.

What to do?

A group of authors like you and me has started a movement. Writer’s Unite! is a program that will help each author that is willing to follow through with the protocol improve her/his chances for increasing book sales.

Local and/or regional meetings are happening now. The agenda is simple. The process described has been proven to work.

What’s listed below is an outline of the main points of the first Writers Unite! meeting in every location. Details do exist, but one major emphasis of this movement is getting authors to help one another. So, those details will be revealed at the meeting.

Writers Unite! is not a ponzi scam. Neither is it “guaranteed” in any way except that the principles and protocol does work. It’s not a place to sell copies of your book.

Writers Unite! is a time and place to come and learn, engage with other authors, and leave with a strategy to help you book sales and the sales of books of your colleagues.

If you live in San Diego, Imperial, Orange, Riverside, Los Angeles, or Riverside counties in California, I invite you to join me as I host the first SoCal Writers Unite! meeting.

Date: mid-February. Time: Saturday from 10:00-11:30AM.
Location: Liberty Station Conference Center - 2600 Laning Road, San Diego, CA 92106

My next blog will provide the date, contact information, and more details about the Writer Unite! event.

Acknowledge that everyone is in a different spot in writing career. This is not a meeting to talk about your work or the best thing anyone ever said about your work.  It is a meeting to work together to help each other sell more books and make our books more visible.
 Explain Amazon
Book signings.  The truth about sales at signings.
Personal promotion and kick off
Social Media--Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter
What can we do to help each other
Book clubs
The writing process for success.

Next blog: Details On and an Invitation to Attend the First San Diego Writers Unite! Meeting

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

A Science Guy’s Almanac #15. A miscellaneous collection of thoughts from my childhood

A Science Guy’s Almanac #15. Year 2. January 12, 2016

Today’s blog is a miscellaneous collection of thoughts from my childhood. Future almanac posts may or may not follow a similar pathway…

I was born when I was very young. As I got older I grew up.

I always liked school. However, I’ve never liked camping. I think if God would have wanted humans to camp, He would not have created hotels and motels. But that’s beside the point.

This is a collection of stories, remembrances, and excerpts from my life, including the 39 years I have taught science at Monte Vista High School in Spring Valley, California, Point Loma Nazarene University, in San Diego, Ca, and Great Oak High School in Temecula, Ca. There is no overall theme. There is no attempt made to do much of anything chronologically. There was an effort made to “clump” certain types of stories into mini-collections within the whole, but that effort faded to dust.

If I ever publish all the Almanac posts about teaching as my memoirs, they will be titled: “A Room With Tables.” You may want to know why my memoirs would be titled thusly. I’m afraid you’ll have to keep reading. Somewhere in this labyrinth of stories, the meaning can be found. As I write this, I’m not even sure where you’ll find it.

I suspect that it’s because I’ve always liked school, that I can remember nearly all my teachers. Kindergarten was Miss Klostmeyer. She was, obviously, a single woman. If my memory holds, she got married sometime during that year. However, the real story of kindergarten is this: we moved to Bremerton, Washington, when my dad was stationed while his ship was being overhauled.

The only real memory of kindergarten is one where the class was doing some type of interpretive dance. After I did some sort of maneuver, Miss Kilostmeyer said, “Charles, that was very nice, will you please show the whole class what you did?” Of course, I had no idea what I had done or how to do it a second time, and I was never again asked to demonstrate any terpsichorean innovation I might have developed.

Part of the reason for my lack of kindergarten memories is that move to Washington state. At the time, Washington did not have kindergarten, so I have only one “semester” of kindergarten. My mom has often reminded me that part of my problems in life is that I only had “half a year of kindergarten.”
While they have nothing to do with the rest of the content of this book, I do have three recollections from living in Bremerton. I include them here to replace those memories lost by missing half of kindergarten.

My first memory is clam chowder. We lived in Quonset huts while in Washington—and I suppose those are probably my real first memory. A Quonset hut is a corrugated metal building shaped like have a giant pipe. I suspect the one we lived in served as barracks for sailors during WWII.

My dad and I suppose several Navy buddies went clam digging and returned with at least one huge bucket of clams. My mom cooked them up and we had both clams on the half shell and chowder. The smell of the clams, both while in the bucket and while being steamed, was enough to keep me from even trying those on the half shell. However, my parents managed to sneak some clam chowder down my gullet, and I still like that to this day. That's memory #2.

My third recollection of Bremerton is the smell of the place in general. I think there were paper mills across the bay from our Quonset hut and the pungent odor of those mills wafted over the saltwater and attacked our olfactory cells.
Here's a Quonset Hut complete with what looks like a Navy wife hanging laundry outside it. While the boy in the sailor's hat isn't me, I might have been in a photograph just like this one in 1956.
Final memory. One day I was running down a hill, tripped, and fell, catching my hand in a drainpipe. My wrist bent backward. The radius split in what is known as a greenstick fracture. All other traumatic details of the fall and broken arm have been erased from my memory. But, I remember the cast. 

It was a plaster and gauze monstrosity that kept my right elbow bent at what started as a 90-degree angle. I did not have what could be called “good cast care technique.” When it came time to remove the cast after six weeks, the doctor used scissors instead of a saw because the six-year-old boy wearing the cast had just beaten the tar out of it. By the day it was removed, the cast was so soft it could be squeezed and would remain depressed. Looking back, it was like collecting temporary copies of my fingerprints in the plaster.

Next Almanac post: PLNC/PLNU Kids

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Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Reprise: Miscellaneous Musings on The Business of Writing (and some new stuff)

Reprise: Miscellaneous Musings on The Business of Writing

The first part of this blog is a reprint of one from early last year. I was browsing and thought, "this is still pretty cool..." and all too real. 

At the change in font, it's new stuff.  

I’ve been thinking. Here are five miscellaneous musings on the business of writing.
1.             Writing is easy. Sitting at my computer with an outline or a manuscript open is a very cool situation. Most of the time words just kind of bubble up into existence my brain, flow down through my arms, and splash into reality on the screen.
2.            Writing is hard. Managing three projects, while not an impossible task, requires the ability to quickly refocus from one project to another. At times, I find myself trying to remember the last name of character…
3.            The business of writing can be fun. Talking to a the Reader’s Club at a high school or explaining my process and discussing plot ideas at a book signing or author’s chat event is a giant rush. I wish I could do more of that.
4.            The business of writing is a pain. Promoting a book is not easy. You need to beg for reviews on Amazon so their search engine “likes” your book more and more. You need to attract followers on social media—not as easy as it sounds. Oh, yeah, then there’s tracking sales, royalties, expenses…
5.             I’m glad I’m writing. Overall, since I’ve started “writing,” the highs are much higher than the lows. Do I wish I was selling more books? You bet! Do I sometimes berate software programs for their idiosyncrasies? Yep—usually quite loudly. Do I regret being a writer? Not a bit!

What am I doing now?

Last week I published Reverse Image - A Timeless Tale from the Traveler's HOT L Vol 3. This "short read," 130 6x9 pages in print, is the complete cliffhanger from Traveler's HOT L Vol 2.

At this moment, I'm finishing up The 5th Page, a crime/detective/mystery novel. I'm going to submit it to Amazon's new publishing program/competition. I'll report on that later this year.

I've added a weekly Timeless Truths blog. These will be up on Thursdays and are my remembrance of and reflection on sermons from various pastors of mine over the last 15-20 years. This week, January 7, is the premier posting.

I've got to decide on what my next project will be. I have narrowed it to three options.
  1. Update/Edit Traveler's HOT L Vol 2. This will be a major restructuring of the book with the expansion of some stories, re-ordering of some stories, and deleting the cliffhanger altogether.
  2. Working on The Drunk Gene. This sci-fi thriller follows the exploits of a former CDC scientist and a rouge molecular biologist. The rouge is determined to decimate allied military forces by inserting a gene sequence that will convert lactic acid to ethyl alcohol in living soldiers. The former CDC is called in to stop him. Since the CDC scientist hails from Manzanita, California, she hires Phil Mamba to help.
  3. Seriously rework Who Leads the Shepherd? This Biblical history novel follows the life of an Israelite shepherd as his life unfolds during the life of Jesus on Earth.

I'll let you know what I decide.

Next blog: Details On and an Invitation to Attend the First San Diego Writer's Unit! Meeting

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