Monday, April 23, 2007

Holy Maps, Batman!

Looks like GoogleMaps has been updating their databases and rendering engines. You can actually see buildings at the higher zoom levels of Boston, including the parking exit structures on Boston Common. Crazy cool.

Saturday, April 07, 2007


Originally uploaded by tallasiandude.

More later...

For now, I think I'm going to go for a run.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

A list, of sorts

This is just a mild rant. Apologies in advance.

So I've mentioned that I'm studying for the National Certification Exam for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork. Anyway, I picked up the review book at the school that was being used for a review class. Didn't go to the class; figured I'd get just as much info reading through the book, and it'd be easier to schedule my own time rather than block out the time to attend the class -- plus I think I saved fifty bucks.

It seemed like a reasonable enough book -- it broke the subject matter into several sections and chapters and had review questions. I was a bit disappointed that it didn't come with a CD or something, since this was going to be my first time taking a computerized standardized exam (yes, I think that dates me a bit), but my concerns were somewhat mitigated because the book indicated that you could access several practice tests online with a handy-dandy passcode that was protected by that crappy silver stuff that you find on lottery tickets and game pieces at McDonald's. (Do they still do that? Is that dating myself again?)

So anyway, the book.

Basically, I'm unimpressed. I'm going to resist calling it a steaming-pile-o-crap simply because I have no other points for comparison, but really, pretty crappy. But I am going to enumerate (ironically, in an unenumerated list) my issues with the book. I'm hoping to find it at least a wee bit therapeutic. Because, you know, it's all about growth and healing.

Anyway, here we go:

  • The book includes little notes in the text (which they call "display boxes") which provide "practical applications, additional explanations, and real-life examples for the material covered in the book." Great. Seems helpful. Except for the part where the authors consider the information included within them (and solely within them) important enough to create practice questions on them. Sorry, if it's important enough to be tested on it, it's probably important enough to be part of the main text of definitions.
  • Y'know, I'm really glad you provide practice questions -- it's helpful to go through a few questions to see if you've understood a section, or conversely, to determine whether you need to study a certain section of material. Great. It'd probably be more helpful if you'd provide practice questions after every chapter rather than say, after the first 22 chapters, 100 pages into your 300 page review book. Whaddayathink?
  • And while I'm at it, it'd be nice if the questions you're asking for a given section could actually be answered by the information in the chapters that make up that section. (ok, maybe part of this problem was that some of the answers might have been found in those stupid "display boxes" mentioned in item one, er, I mean that first dot there.)
  • But you know, I'll take the ones that were in different sections, if you'd at least make sure the answers were provided SOMEWHERE in your book.
  • Oh, and when you provide practice questions, it'd be really nice if your answer key ACTUALLY HAD THE CORRECT ANSWERS IN THEM. I found 3 errors that I had to confirm by corroborating them with the text and with my old class notes and textbooks. It made me wonder whether some of the other answers were sketchy. Especially when it was unclear what material was being used to derive the answers.
  • and when you say "additional practice exams," I generally take that to mean EXAMS, as in, several exams. If you use the same questions and just mix up the order of the questions and the order of the multiple-guess answers for each question, that doesn't count.
  • And I'm sorry, even if you're going so far as to call a reordered test a different test, um, you're only providing three tests? Way to underachieve, guys.
  • And incidentally, not fond of questions that test for pattern recognition of text rather than understanding concepts. Ever heard of a paraphrase? Especially since I can't be certain that the National Certification Board is going to use the same choice of words as you. An example:
    Name the technique that uses the palpation of tender points to guide the positioning of the body to reduce the tenderness.
    (a) Muscle energy
    (b) Myofascial release
    (c) Strain-counterstrain
    (d) Structural integration

    From the text: "Strain-counterstrain is a technique that uses the palpation of tender points (or trigger points) to guide the positioning of the body to reduce the tenderness, ..."
    Do I really understand that? No. Did I get the question right? Yes. The second time I saw it. Do I feel confident that I'm ready for the real exam? No.
  • And, by the way, the "full index" (that they hype in the preface) is not, in fact, particularly full.
And FWIW, I found the book's overall organization to be fairly poor. But that's probably pretty obvious.

I suppose one way of looking at it is that the authors' choice of organization forced me to review more subject matter because I had to spend additional time scanning through whole sections, multiple whole sections, to figure out answers to some of the questions. Not to mention my own class notes and old textbooks. Hey, thanks guys!

Anyway, annoyed, but done now. Hopefully I'll do alright on the test on Saturday.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

More with the bad timing...

Civic duty
Originally uploaded by tallasiandude.

So, we're pretty much settled into the new house, but there are still boxes of crap littered about, as well as new islets of detritus that are forming where systems have yet to be put into place. We just need a little time, but unfortunately, that's the one thing we don't seem to have much of these days.

Oh, and the bed we bought in February hasn't shown up yet. (We're expecting it this week. Fingers-crossed.)

The SOOTTAD has been managing the final stages of our exit strategy from the old house as well as managing its updates and repairs. But meanwhile, plenty of wedding stuff has begun backing up in our queue. We finally signed a contract with a photographer that we really liked but, um, invites? Right. Yeah, they should probably go out in the next few weeks and we haven't even come up with the wording that's going to go on them.

Oh, and I'm taking the National certification exam for massage (technically, the National Certification for therapeutic massage and bodywork) this Saturday. Which is good, because the National Cert. exam is required for the Newton practitioner's license which I'll need for the space I'm renting with a friend and classmate. It's a room in a Chiropractor's office... and the lease started Sunday. So there's a bunch of stuff that needs to be dealt with for that too.

Oh yeah, and the project at work is in the final two week stretch.

So, of course the last thing I needed was to be selected as a juror in Federal Court.

Lucky me.