Five O'Clock Somewhere

Welcome to Five O'Clock Somewhere, where it doesn't matter what time zone you're in; it's five o'clock somewhere. We'll look at rural life, especially as it happens in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, cats, sailing (particularly Etchells racing yachts), and bits of grammar and Victorian poetry.

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Location: Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, United States

Friday, December 21, 2012

Gettin’ edjicated


Been on the receiving end of a lot of schooling lately …

I just had a really odd dream. I dreamed that the community college where I teach and the university just up the road got together to provide a workshop for instructors working to prepare students for careers in film production, not just instructors in the film programs, but those teaching such things as English (e.g., script writing) and accounting (production budgeting, etc.). It was a really intense workshop, a week long, and it involved not only classroom work but field work as well; participants were picked up from their campuses by bus and taken to each day’s lesson site. One day involved going out on the water in boats – the one I was assigned to was a nasty green aluminum runabout that seemed designed to make sure its occupants ended up soaking wet and very cold.

At the end of each day of study, there were gatherings to dine and socialize in a large banquet hall at the university. At the end of the final day of the program, spouses were invited, and all went well until Pat tried to hog all of the bread in the bread basket on the table. Then he was told he had to pay for the bread.

As the gathering broke up, many of the participants said they would be looking forward to the next year’s program, but the folks running the show said there would be no repeat – this had cost too much money and was too much hassle to put on.

As Pat and I were hiking out to where he had parked the car, it was uphill. And then it was even more steeply uphill. And I was tired, and getting more and more tired, and my muscles were aching. And the path kept getting steeper, and I kept getting more tired, until finally, I couldn’t stand up anymore, and I was crawling toward the car, which kept getting farther and farther away.

I woke up, and I was still aching. Ugh.

But the whole idea of a workshop like the one I dreamed about really seems like a good idea, since New Mexico is trying to encourage the film industry to produce more movies in-state. We already have good programs in place to train support personnel, and it would be great to have more higher-level personnel close to home.

In real life, Pat and I have been spending a lot of time lately in classes, although these classes are related much more to sailboat racing than film production.

In early November, we headed up to Denver, where we took two workshops over the weekend, one on race management, and one on race judging. Our time there coincided with the first snowstorm of the season, small by Colorado standards, but still enough to ice things over. One of the highlights of that weekend was meeting people from regional and national organizations, including a bit of information about changes in the rules that will be taking place in the new year. We also enjoyed the company of some of our classmates, such as the commodore of the Aspen Yacht Club (yes, there IS a yacht club in Aspen!), and some people we’d already worked with at regattas in Colorado. Part of the idea is to get people doing race management in places other than their immediate home waters, in order to get regional race management certification.

Later in November, we came to Arizona for another workshop. This one was put on by the Arizona Yacht Club, and it featured Dick Rose, who is one of the people who actually wrote the new rules. It was great to learn not only what the major changes in the rules are, but also why those changes were implemented. For example, there is a new rule (although I suspect the vast majority of sailors were already abiding by the practice) that bans intentionally putting trash in the water. There are some adjustments to rule changes made four years ago, for example, fine-tuning the rules about outside assistance.

Once my fall teaching was over, it was back to Arizona for a long-term stay and another training session, this time in handling powerboats and in operating such boats in support of a sailing regatta. There were two four-hour classroom sessions, and then there was a day out on the water, in order to learn hands-on how to operate a powerboat, and in particular how to operate the boats that belong to the Arizona Yacht Club – after a couple of incidents, the club decided to make a rule that those who wish to serve on race committee duty must learn how to operate the boats. The classroom sessions went well – they covered a lot of material, very quickly, since the people attending the class were already reasonably familiar with boats and the water.

The on-the-water session, however, was another story. It was cloudy and rainy, and although the forecast said the weather would be clearing out by midday, it never did. We worked on low-speed maneuvers, and we began to do the capsized-boat recovery, but by that time, it was raining heavily, and it was breezy as well. I was on the first team to attempt the recovery, on a nasty green aluminum runabout that seemed designed to make sure its occupants ended up soaking wet and very cold. The 14-foot boat that we were to recover didn’t just capsize; it turned all the way upside down, making the recovery even harder. One of my classmates on the boat commented that the instructor had certainly arranged realistic conditions, unlike the videos we had seen in the classroom, shot in calm water and clear weather. The instructor decided to declare a break, go to the marina restaurant to dry off, warm up, and decide what to do next. Eventually, the decision was made to finish the training at a later date, with better weather.

Every year, I get a performance evaluation at work, and one of the things I am supposed to do is show how I plan to improve as an instructor in the coming year or two. Continuing education is one potential way to do that. I’m not sure, however, that my supervisors would count dreaming of an intensive film program workshop or taking sailing race-management courses toward that requirement. I guess I’ll have to find something else.


Oh, and one more thing. … I did participate in National Novel Writing Month this year, and as usual, I did get to 50,000 words, with “Murder at the Wedding.” I got to bring back some of the colorful characters from the family reunion a few years back, and various confusions, including a couple of neo-Nazi skinheads who were attempting to assassinate a cat, only to find out that the feline was more than their match. Even worse, the skinheads were the last people (other than the murderer) to see the murder victim alive, so they really didn’t have a good day.

And yes, I did, as usual, participate in National Cat Herders Day, although I was so busy herding cats that I didn’t get a chance to put up my usual post.

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