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04 April 2006 @ 06:49 pm
New PAA  
I have a new PAA — Personal Analog Assistant.

I've been thinking about buying a PDA for a while, but the price tag really put me off the idea in a lot of ways. It was ugly, thinking about it for me, especially since so little of that level of tech exists in the schools. So, after thinking about organization stuff, and reading the Thomas Simonicelli (sp?) book on organization for System Administrators put out by O'Reilly, I thought I'd try the PAA described by Tom and also described at , as well.

Mine consists of a couple dozen index cards — some colors, but mostly white, each with a hole punched in the same place, and linked by a loose-leaf binder ring. I also have a blue binder clip at the other end to hold it all together. One page has a make-shift calendar on it; another has my school's period times, others have an attendance sheet for my spring sport, a list of plants I've pointed out to them, and stamps from letterboxes we've found. It's a useful place to jot down demerit and merit points, and I can pull a sheet out to give a kid a pass to the library.

It turns out that there's a simple wiki-scripted HTML page (which you can find at if you're at all interested) that creates specific pages on 3x5 cards, so I can also print out things that I find useful, like long-term to-do lists and table-based grade books for each week, in each of my classes. It's going to be VERY useful.

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( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
Princessprincesspeanut on April 4th, 2006 11:57 pm (UTC)
I almost forgot to tell you!

I spent the weekend less the 10 minutes from you. I'm playing a LARP fantasy based at the 4 H camp around the corner
Andrew B. Wattanselm23 on April 5th, 2006 12:03 am (UTC)
Come visit!
You are spending this coming weekend? Or you spent this past weekend?

You should / should have come by!
Princessprincesspeanut on April 5th, 2006 12:22 pm (UTC)
Re: Come visit!
I spent last weekend out there! I'll be there again around the 12th of may. Lia may be with me as well - maybe we'll arrange to meet you for dinner on friday?

Andrew B. Wattanselm23 on April 5th, 2006 11:11 pm (UTC)
Re: Come visit!
THat would be very nice. I think lovelips and I have plans for the 13th of May, but not yet for the 12th. I'll put you on our schedule, tentatively.
yangvalyangyangvalyang on April 5th, 2006 12:53 am (UTC)
Notecards really are versatile, aren't they? We used to terrorize a friend in boarding school by plastering his room with them and then hiding them in obscure places like his CD player tray.

I remember reading an autobiographical account of a young doctor's residency--I think it was "Beneath the Ether Dome" about Mass General--and he described how the sheer exhaustion made his short-term memory all but disappear. He wouldn't be able to remember a phone call or casual conversation with a friend, like when to show up for a dinner.

And the solution was: notecards! The interns began carrying around notecards to write down every little esoterica of information they picked up during the day. They referred to the method as "ectopic memory."

Oh, hey, I just got into UMass Boston. Am now waiting on letter from UMass Amherst (my first choice), which should be mailed this month.
Andrew B. Wattanselm23 on April 5th, 2006 01:09 am (UTC)
Congratulations! And thanks for the story about notecards. I appreciate that. I've just printed up my grade sheets for the rest of the spring term, and they're totally flexible -- just a quick card for noting down grades, and then an additional card in the stack for each kid, with a front and a back... And printed, let me repeat that PRINTED cards with gradebook grids printed on them, with students' names, followed by M T W Th F blocks for noting down their grades.The name of each assignment goes on the back of the card, so I can tell at a glance which student is missing what -- and then I can check the back and see what they're missing, in terms of the assignment's title.

There are Drum & Dance events in both Boston and Amherst... you remember how much fun my birthday was? They're like that, but with less poetry, more motion, and more wildness.
yangvalyangyangvalyang on April 8th, 2006 01:08 am (UTC)
Yes, I do remember the Drum & Dance bday party you had and it was AWESOME. That Amherst letter could not be here soon enough.
Andrew B. Wattanselm23 on April 8th, 2006 10:44 am (UTC)
Here's the link for Amherst Drum and Dance.
Andrew B. Wattanselm23 on April 8th, 2006 12:13 pm (UTC)
Good luck with getting in to Amherst. I wish you well with that. And maybe we'll see you at a Drum and Dance soon in Cambridge or Amherst!?!
yangvalyangyangvalyang on April 9th, 2006 09:41 pm (UTC)
If I get into Amherst, you can count on it!
Souci: laughin' catasthecrowflies on April 5th, 2006 03:02 am (UTC)
ha! i looooooove the hipster pda! if you would like, i will fashion you a case from colored duct tape =)
Andrew B. Wattanselm23 on April 5th, 2006 11:13 pm (UTC)
Oooh. Colored duct tape....

But that would mean I'd have to give it up for a few days or hours, and that might be awkward. Also, I wouldn't be able to add notecards, because it would have a standard size... Hmm. Decisions, decisions.

People are really looking forward to your visit on Friday. Are there any poems from the new book you'd like the kids to have read or at least heard before you come down?
Souciasthecrowflies on April 6th, 2006 01:23 am (UTC)
heh - we can talk about your pda on Friday,s ee whatw e can work up =)

as for poems, i will more than likely present Recycling in Manhattan, Liberty by Candlelight, and a version (edited for "fuck") of If Money Burns - it nmight be fun to have them read the poems beforehand, to see what they look like & then compare them to what they sound like. do you need copies? let me know tonight before 11 if you need copies, so that i can get them to you - i'll be gone all day tomorrow for the workshop in Great Barrington. ♥


Andrew B. Wattanselm23 on April 6th, 2006 01:25 am (UTC)
Having copies of the poems would be terrific. Especially if you have them as MS-word documents or .pdf files, and I can just e-mail them to the teachers. Two of the school's copiers seem to be down right now, and it's awkward to get things copied.
Souciasthecrowflies on April 6th, 2006 01:35 am (UTC)
on their way to your email right now =)
Souciasthecrowflies on April 8th, 2006 01:00 am (UTC)
thank you so much for having me out today - i had a blast!
Andrew B. Wattanselm23 on April 8th, 2006 10:53 am (UTC)
I'm glad you had a good time...
Dear Souci,

I'm so glad you had a good time. I was worried that it was going to be stressful or un-fun. But the times I saw you, you looked to be having a terrific day. And so you were. It was wonderful to have you here.
rwgillrwgill on April 5th, 2006 11:32 am (UTC)
You were close on the the name. It's Tom Limoncelli. Excellent book and definitely not for SysAdmins alone.
Andrew B. Wattanselm23 on April 5th, 2006 11:42 am (UTC)
Thanks. I suggested it to the tech geeks at my school, and they recommended it to the library. So I read it by borrowing it from the library, rather than filling my already-overburdened personal shelves. I got a lot of good ideas from it, including not checking my e-mail obsessively.

Except that I still check LiveJournal obsessively.
Tomyesthattom on April 6th, 2006 01:29 am (UTC)
Glad you found the book useful!

Tom L.
Andrew B. Wattanselm23 on April 6th, 2006 01:41 am (UTC)
VERY useful!

I now have my own PAA or Hipster PDA, which is great. I tear out half-cards to make into library passes or computer passes, and use the remaining stubs to keep track of who went to the computer lab -- then I can check in with the computer lab monitor and make sure they showed up and did the work they were supposed to do.

I keep a blacklist of people who can't go to the computer lab, too. I printed grade-book sheets for each of my classes (for each week until the end of the term) with lines to write the assignment in on the lined part of each card. So I can grade anywhere and track the grades.

I have a card with the next four months' dates and days on it, and on the other side is the time-schedule for each class.

I have a to-do list, a grocery list, a hardware list, a music list, and a movie list.

There is a card with the phone numbers of all my dormitory kids' parents. There's a paper clip attached to that, so phone message slips can go right into the PAA in an appropriate place. There's a list of plants I've seen on my local nature walks, and a list of birds and paw prints I've seen lately.

Oh, yeah. And I hired a cleaning service, so I didn't have to live in a mess.
Andrew B. Wattanselm23 on April 6th, 2006 02:15 am (UTC)
Oh yeah. I have a question for you about Trampoline. I read about this guy who went and lived on the Scilly Islands, off the coast of Cornwall, Britain, for several months, in order to understand how folks who live in a low-tech environment still network effectively — for example, only the people who are actually traveling, or who work for the ferry company, ever know what time the ferries are leaving on any given day.

Have you seen anything about this, and what do you think?
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )