Wednesday, July 14, 2010

simply gourmet III

Back in business! (See in business and out of business).

This time as Something Sweet. We went in there once. Chocolates were crazy expensive. Never again. Notice bench has been moved to such a more appealing location. Click on photo for exciting details.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

How to get a teaching license in MA

You can get a so-called "preliminary" license without having to take any education courses. You need to:

--take and pass two MTEL exams
--have a bachelor's degree in or close to the subject.

MTEL exams:

Communications and Literacy. Everybody has to take this one.

Subject matter. If you want to teach English, you take the English test. Math, the math test, etc. Details. Do the registration checklist which includes registering, deciding on which tests you want to take, and paying. Exams are given every three months.

Some subjects have practice tests. Check if your subject has one. If so print it out and go through it carefully. Depending on the subject, that may be all the preparation you need.

Of course, just because you have a license, doesn't mean a public school system will hire you. It only means that they could hire you, if they wanted to. You will be competing with dozens or hundreds of others, many of whom have bachelor's degrees in Education, at least.


Wednesday, April 08, 2009

where are the flagmen?

In the early winter the gas company dug a hole in front of my neighbor's house in Lynn, with a cop doing the flagman's job. Last couple of weeks they've been digging up Bartholomew St. in Peabody, with a cop doing the flagman's job at either end.

What happened to the flagmen? I have yet to see one.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

MTEL/DOE infinite loop, or dead end?

I've signed up to take more MA licensure exams in May, this time Foundations of Reading and ESL. In a similar fit of validation craving three years ago, I took the Communications and Literacy and English Literature exams (described here), which allowed me to get the English Lit preliminary teaching license.

Communications and Literacy is required for all subjects. Foundations of Reading is required for specialties such as Reading Specialist and Moderate Disabilities. In the case of popular tests such as these, the testing company provides practice tests which, if memorized or at least studied carefully, effectively function as source material.

For most exams however, there is no practice test, only a "Test Information Booklet" (list here). The booklets essentially reiterate the requirements set down by the state (here). The booklet for the ESL exam has a couple of example questions. Here is one:

In the early stages of second-language development, which of the following factors in the classroom environment is most likely to lower English learner's affective filters, thereby lowering their inhibitions about using English?

Which brought my little question to mind--where to get a listing of source material to study, to prepare for questions of this nature? I called the DOE and after the usual wait and poke through the menus reached a human to ask this question. As soon as she heard the word "test", she said oh we don't have anything to do with the tests, call the testing company here is their number goodbye.

So I called the testing company (ex-National Evaluation Systems since taken over by Pearson Education Inc., in Amherst MA, to which the DOE has outsourced the creation of all these exams, and which is hiding behind a web site designed to look like part of the DOE) and the woman said, it's all on the web site. Well no it isn't I say. All you list are the requirements--you must understand this, you must understand that, with no corresponding mention of what materials you should avail yourself of, to gain this understanding. It says on your web site after all that "on this site you'll find test preparation materials". She repeated, all we have is on the web site. You could also, she said, check with the school dept. where you're interested in working. I said, I would look for an available job once licensed, not the other way around. Furthermore, it's supposed to be a standardized, state-wide test so by definition not dependent upon the recommendations of a particular school dept. Finally, the school depts. are of course part of the DOE, who directed me to you in the first place!

Frustrated at this dead end, I asked to be connected to a supervisor. You can't do that of couse, but a supervisor will call you back. Which they did while I was out. They effectively repeated what the first woman said (they even said so). Their suggestion was that I ask "coworkers" who had taken the test before, what they had studied. Assuming I have or had coworkers who knew anything about any of this. And that it's their policy not to endorse specific training materials. How convenient for them!

Apparently it is not the responsibility of either the DOE or the testing company to provide a listing of materials you should use to prepare for one of their tests! It's a perfect closed system--self-contained and impenetrable.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

simply gourmet II

Out of business, alas. Simply Gourmet, we hardly knew ye. Now it is Simply Gone thus, using Perl:

$gourmet="Simply Gourmet";
($gone = $gourmet) =~ s/(.*Go).*/$1ne/;
print $gone;

Simply Gone

For some reason gourmets weren't attracted to this charming location. Their sandwiches were too expensive. The last time I went I got a falafel sandwich. The proprietor didn't have any falafel made, so rather than saying so he made a batch while I stood there for 20 minutes watching Fox News. He rushed the job, made a terrible sandwich-- falafel patty the size of a hamburger instead of smaller ones--too well-fried on the outside, raw dough on the inside. Uck.

This grimy little spot is not conducive to a business with any pretense to the upscale. Who next would like to have a go? Maybe something more along the lines of "Stavro's Fresh Chili Dog's", "EZ Bail Bonds", or "Rocky's Collection Agency".

Saturday, March 07, 2009

recursive label

Pause from your dumpster diving for a moment, to ponder the matter of labels in blogger. What good are they? If you attach labels to blog entries, but do not display a list of all your labels, what is the good of the label? If I create a blog entry, say, this entry, discussing labels and label it "label", what will happen? The usual risk of recursion--that the universe might disappear into its own belly button. Let's cross our fingers and give it a try.

Are we still here?

If you click on the "label" label at the left, you'll arrive here, under the heading "Showing posts with label label." Which, sure enough, is what it's about.

How do you display an image of a label? Labels are by definition labels of something else. Little units of Heisenberg uncertainty. (Oops, put a "conflation" label on that sentence. It's the observer effect.) How do you refer to a label itself? The only thing a label cannot label is itself. With another label I guess, that says "label". Pictured here are labels. That's different though.

Friday, February 20, 2009

the Globe and the material life

The Boston Globe which has historically earned its living publishing materialist porno such as this Decorating DERRING-DO article from a year ago, is having trouble adjusting to the new realities. One of the owners of a "charming property in the Berkshires" makes a token acknowledgment of the virtue of thrift, or rather what a rich person imagines this curious notion of "thrift" might be like. They have "given themselves a renovation budget of just $15,000 a year". A pittance!

"Neither of us likes debt. So if you are looking at faucets, and the one you like is $1,400, you don’t just buy it,” Holben says. “You keep looking till you find the one you like better for $230."

A real pennypincher! Here's a nice Moen one-handle for $229.67 at Home Depot. Acceptable! But Holben's thrift does not extend, of course, to for example the 708 faucets available for less than $100. We do have our standards, after all.

More recently we see an article Closet Case, in which a young woman laments that she has 250 pairs of shoes, and so many clothes that her bedroom closet collapsed. Oh dear! Solution? Re-examination of materialist values? No, silly--hire a consultant to turn an extra bedroom into a walk-in closet!

The current "Spending Smart" series includes an article Gardening, is easy, thrifty, which compares the savings of growing your own tomatoes to the $3 you might pay for a single tomato in "some pricey groceries". And don't forget to plant some fancy heirlooms, to "impress your friends". That's spending smart!

tooting your own cheesy horn

We are lucky to live near the Market Basket in Salem, where can be found Macaroni and Cheese, Made with Real Cheese! Calling attention to the fact that On-Cor, unlike those other producers, proudly declines to exploit an apparent legal loophole that allows a product to be called "Macaroni and Cheese", even if it contains no cheese!

No such deceit for these guys, no sir. In the high stakes world of macaroni and cheese advertising, they've boldly drawn the line at the cheese, and taken their stand by God. Imagine the marketing work behind this. The frozen foods section of the On-Cor account assigned to some junior advertiser (or maybe those high-stakes guys on "Trust Me") who dreamt once, perhaps, of the DeBeers account, pondering the product differentiation. Can't really use a nutritional angle, so comes up with this. Next stop, the ravioli--"Good source of calcium and protein!"