The Pod(cast) people have returned!

satisfactionistThe second part of my appearance on The Satisfactionist Podcast with Ben Olmos has been published. Be sure to also read the blog post about my first appearance.

Once again it was a great experience and, it appears Ben and I might collaborate on future episodes of the podcast; more to come soon!

This is the second of two podcasts in which I will appear (the previous podcast was published one week ago). My interview begins at 22:58; listen to it on SoundCloud below or you can also hear it on Stitcher.

Topics tackled in this episode include:

The “Gig Economy” and my “minor league pitching” experience teaching traffic school where I developed my classroom management skills. This lead to my adventures as an adjunct instructor for 9 years — during which I have taught 3,000 to 4,000 students in 70 courses (with numerous sections) at 16 different universities in 2 countries.

This lead to my work designing curriculum and developing courses that I taught and those I was specifically contracted to create without teaching them. We chat about my favorite word — rubrics — although, as an instructor, I am careful about when I use them to limit students from obsessing about matching their rubric to a specific grade.

We then discuss how I found my way to Dubai where I have been teaching marketing and management courses since September 2014. My expat experience was inspired by the possibility of my participating in a program with UCLA Extension in which I would teach for 30 day cycles in Saudi Arabia.

Unfortunately, that opportunity never came to fruition, but it did make me realize there was an entire world of opportunities outside of the United States — including two opportunities in Kabul, Afghanistan that I decided to pass on.

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We then explore my exceptional experiences living and working in Dubai where I have been widely welcomed by the local population and individuals from elsewhere who call UAE their home. I share details of driving the roads and roundabouts — including some Google Map misadventures!

I discuss the surprisingly temperate weather during the winter months (mid-October to mid-April) along with other aspects of daily life, including the impressive integration of SMS functionality and mobile phones into everything from paying speeding tickets to paying to park.

I also elaborate on my admiration for my students and the effort they invest into their education; they take their role as the next generation seriously and are focused on being prepared for the responsibilities with which they will be entrusted.

Notably, a large percentage of students at my current university — American University in the Emirates (AUE) — are Emirati (approximately 70%) and most of the remaining percentage are from other Arab countries or elsewhere in the world. In total I have students with 30 different nationalities here. It’s a wonderfully worldly experience!

Although it is challenging to be so far from my 10 and 12-year-old sons, traveling 8,000 miles from the life I had known to finally find a foothold in the life I had fruitlessly worked towards in the United States.

Similarly, contrary to the absurdity of the current election cycle in the United States, my experience in Dubai has been a rewarding and enriching one; I am grateful for this unique opportunity and am making sure to maximize the moment.

edx_logo_finalLastly I introduce and explain the ways my book, edX E-Learning Course Development, can be used by teachers and trainers to prepare, produce, and promote a course on edX or Open edX.

I explained my unique approach to starting each chapter with an anecdote, quote, or pop culture reference, additionally outlining how I worked from edX technical documentation, rearranging and re-imagining it in a way that aligns more accurately with the way an individual would create or convert curriculum.

We then boldly go on to discuss my experience as an extra on the upcoming Star Trek Beyond movie where I was on set for 17 hours straight!

Beam me up!

Driving to and from Bakersfield, CA across the “Grapevine” portion of Interstate 5 to teach at DeVry University presents unique challenges I might not otherwise encounter on a more urban commute. It’s not your typical drive, but it is reasonably painless and free of traffic.

However, there is one factor about commuting over the “Grapevine” that has the most impact on my ability to get and return home from work: weather. It is by far more extreme than weather even just a few miles north or south. I suppose being at an elevation of 4,000 feet might have something to do with that! Weather makes or breaks my commute — often without warning.

I’ve already driven through snow once this season (and drove through it three times last year on  January 23, 2008January 24, 2008 and February 4, 2008 — each time without chains). I’ve also driven through rain, sleet, wind and ever-changing combination of these and other phenomena.

For some strange reason I don’t mind the wild weather, though that might change if I ever find myself stuck for a few days in a snow drift!

On the morning of Tuesday, January 6, 2009 I drove through some outrageously thick fog while heading north to the DeVry University center at which I teach. I often drive with my camera at the ready (either the one in my Palm Centro or my woefully inadequate but somehow trustworthy Canon PowerShot A410) and that day was no exception.

I captured the photos and video below as I made my way to work roughly between Gorman and Lebec, CA.

Notably, I also encountered a similarly thick level of fog while coming home from work the afternoon of Thursday, January 8, 2009 — heading south and heading north — so I am unsure what the rest of this winter season has in store:

January 6, 2009

Driving Through Fog on Interstate 5 North (January 6, 2009)

Driving Through Fog on Interstate 5 North (January 6, 2009)

Driving Through Fog on Interstate 5 North (January 6, 2009)

Driving Through Fog on Interstate 5 North (January 6, 2009)

Driving Through Fog on Interstate 5 North (January 6, 2009)

Driving Through Fog on Interstate 5 North (January 6, 2009)

Driving Through Fog on Interstate 5 North (January 6, 2009)

Driving Through Fog on Interstate 5 North (January 6, 2009)

Driving Through Fog on Interstate 5 North (January 6, 2009)

Driving Through Fog on Interstate 5 North (January 6, 2009)

Driving Through Fog on Interstate 5 North (January 6, 2009)

Driving Through Fog on Interstate 5 North (January 6, 2009)

Driving Through Fog on Interstate 5 North (January 6, 2009)

Driving Through Fog on Interstate 5 North (January 6, 2009)

Driving Through Fog on Interstate 5 North (January 6, 2009)

 

Adverse weather is not something we experience very much of here in Southern California.

Usually, whenever there is the slightest hint of moisture in the air our cadre of well coiffed weathermen, meteorologists (I forgot they have advanced training in meteors), start proclaiming armageddon and calling it the “Storm of the Century.”

However, the past few days have actually brought some wild winter storms to the area (see KTLA, KNBC, KCBS, The Signal and Los Angeles Times).

Weather has been a mess elsewhere too — across the country temperatures have plummeted as we seem to be deluged by some kind of nuclear winter (fortunately, without the nuclear part, but the result seems similar). Even Las Vegas is dealing with its biggest snowfall in 30 years!

The California Highway Patrol (CHP) has now closed the “grapevine” portion of Interstate 5 (Castaic through Lebec) and also, quite surprisingly, the Antelope Valley Freeway (14) from Soledad Canyon in Santa Clarita through 10th Street in Palmdale. Several other major freeways have been shut down as well.

It’s been a wild few days.

Fortunately, I quite literally just missed getting stuck in this storm. I was teaching at DeVry in Bakersfield on Tuesday, December 16. In the afternoon, when I drove to campus, there was a light dusting of snow atop some of the higher points in the Grapevine. However, there was no immediate danger or impediment to my progress.

Here are some photos I took that afternoon with my Palm Centro and sent them to my Twitter account using a service called TwitPic. (Note: My orginal desire was to embed the images from my TwitPic account into this page and avoid duplicating them. Unfortunately, that only worked for a short time before the image seemed to expire — so I’ve gone ahead and uploaded the photos to WordPress):

December 16, 2008
Snow on the Grapevine (Interstate 5) @ Pyramid Lake: December 16, 2008
December 16, 2008
Snow on the Grapevine (Interstate 5) @ Lebec: December 16, 2008
December 16, 2008
Snow on the Grapevine (Interstate 5) @ Gorman: December 16, 2008

Later that night, after finishing my classes I headed home. As I approached Lebec at roughly 11:30 p.m., the steady rain that began 30 minutes earlier in Bakersfield transformed into sleet. By the time I reached the Tejon Pass (elevation: 4,144 feet), I was driving into a steady flow of snow.

It got fairly dense at one point, and I became slightly concerned as I was driving my Scion xB and had no chains. Mercifully, the snow began to dissipate once I made it through Gorman. I continued onward and made it home without any problems.

Photos from that adventure follow (taken, as before, with my Palm Centro):

December 16, 2008
Snow on the Grapevine (Interstate 5) @ Tejon Pass: December 16, 2008
December 16, 2008
Snow on the Grapevine (Interstate 5) @ Tejon Pass: December 16, 2008
December 16, 2008
Snow on the Grapevine (Interstate 5) @ Gorman: December 16, 2008

Hopefully my luck will continue the next time a big storm blows into Southern California! Either way I will be sure to post some pictures and/or video from the experience. Stay warm!

One year ago today, September 19, 2007, this blog was born into the online world.

surprise-happy-birthday-giftsAt the time I launched it I wasn’t really sure what to expect or how this experiment would play out. Overall, I have enjoyed writing this blog, though I certainly wish I was able to contribute to it more regularly.

However, my philosophy is “quality over quantity.” I would rather wait to post something substantive than just add more noise to the already overloaded Internet. Hopefully the posts I’ve made have, in some way, contributed positively to the individuals who have read them and, perhaps to the larger academic community.

Statistically speaking, here is some basic info about the blog:

  • Total views: 7,169
  • Busiest day: 126 — Wednesday, January 23, 2008
  • Views today: 14
  • Totals
    • Posts: 38
    • Comments: 34
    • Categories: 16
    • Tags: 858

Developing this blog has been educational and inspirational — I find myself constantly looking for information to distribute or knowledge to share using it.

I have used it twice as an educational repository and tool: once for an English class at DeVry University and another time for my UCSB Extension course. Both times enabled me, and my students, to explore the power of blogging on multiple levels. I hope to continue contributing to it and finding unique and clever ways to leverage the technology.

Speaking of which, WordPress is an amazing tool — bravo to those who make it all work. I have never before experienced such a seamless and mutlifaceted web-based content management system. Using WordPress has definitely been a significant part of why my first year blogging was so positive.

In any case, I am looking forward to “year two” and outdoing my effort in “year one!”