Today was our fourth "pair event" with the iMentor program at James Lick High School in San Jose. Every time we have one of these events, I grow a little bit. I get exposed to different things, things outside my usual sphere of existence, and things slightly outside my comfort zone.
Tonight, we mentors got to see our mentees' unofficial transcripts. I'm not sure I've seen such dismal report cards or such low GPAs. I've heard of them, but this was for real. It wasn't just my mentee's stats, but many of the other mentors were sharing a very similar story. Mostly, the male mentors, who have male mentees, were reporting what I was seeing with my own charge.
And today, the goal in mind shifted tectonically. No longer does the medium term goal include getting this high school junior into college. It has urgently moved to that of the first goal he listed when we first met back in November: to graduate high school. A school counselor tonight explained to us mentors how to read the transcripts and provided ideas on how to help the students get to graduation. The GPA along doesn't seem to matter too much toward the goal of getting a diploma. What really matters is how many credits they have earned. Failing grades in classes earn no credits.
Since there is another half of the second semester left of his junior year of high school, there is still time. If he were to pass all his classes next year, he could graduate. However, given his history, that's a tall order, and that's cutting it way too close. I see summer school. I see seven periods next year. I also see no sports, which should be the rule since the counselor, as a response to my question, stated that the student may have no F's and at least a 2.0 GPA to be involved with sports. That's a good thing for him, though he won't see it that way.
It's time to get serious. Clock's a-ticking and we have work to do.
Not sure if I mentioned it wide and far enough, but for 2017, I met my running goal. The goal, same as for the prior year, was 400 miles, and this year, I came in at about 403. Last year, I hit well over 500.
Works for me, I hit my goal! Happy new year, everyone!
We live about two miles away from Harold's elementary school, where where have to cross a freeway and negotiate four traffic lights and three four-way stops. There are enough obstacles such that we give him a ride to school every day.
Sometimes, I wish we lived further from school. Some days, we end up having good conversations during that ten minute ride, the two of us. Today, for example, was one of those good days. Let me write about it.
As we were pulling out, I noticed that the morning sun was hitting a neighbor's solar panels just right so that the dust was pretty obvious. I mentioned that they should clean the panels occasionally so that the panels were more efficient and generated more power. Harold asked what the panels do, so I answered, they create electricity so we can charge our devices, run the TV, turn on the lights at night.
Then I was reminded about the rovers on Mars, specifically Spirit and Opportunity, which originally had an expected lifespan of just one hundred earth days or so. The reason for such a short life expectancy is because the planners figured that dust would collect on the rovers' solar panels and then, no more power. As it turned out, Mars also has wind, which is sometimes strong enough to blow dust off the panels, making them able to continue to generate power, for years, in fact. (Note, however, that only one of the rovers is still operating, Opportunity, over ten years since its deployment!)
We then got to talking about if humans, if outside the safety of a space helmet, would be able to breathe, very briefly, the atmosphere on Mars. I replied that no, that wouldn't be possible for several reasons. One, the atmosphere is really, really thin on Mars; it would be like trying to breathe on earth on a mountaintop that's over 40,000 feet in elevation (maybe more). Also, the makeup of the atmosphere is different. Our bodies are used to earth's mix of 79% nitrogen and 20% oxygen. Without that sweet oxygen, we're done for.
Mars is also very cold. Cold, he asked? Yes, very cold, it's further from the sun than earth.
We then got into the positions of the planets, and how there are huge gaps between some of the planets. He knew of the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and he also told me about the other asteroid belt between Neptune and Pluto. I know there is a big gap between the orbits of Neptune and Pluto, but I can't say I was too familiar with a second asteroid belt in that space. Harold insisted that there is, and who am I to refute?
We also talked about Pluto's 'demotion' from a planet to a minor planet, the Kuiper belt, and how Pluto is believed to be a Kuiper belt object.
There were some other bits an pieces that we talked about during that short ride, but it was one of those rides where we actually shared information with each other at a relatively high level. That's always satisfying.
We got to school, a tad later than normal, and I wished him and good day, and he said bye. Sometimes, I wish we lived a little bit further from school.
Image attribution WilyD at English Wikipedia via CC BY-SA 3.0.
At the last minute yesterday, after I completed a 4 mile run from Forbes Mill to the Dam, and after assessing the uncongested condition of southbound highway 17 through LG, we decided to head over the hill and spend the day at the boardwalk.
We go there once, maybe twice a year, and it's always fun, pretty close, and we even sometimes hit the beach. They are always full days.
This day, though, marked a bit of a milestone in Penny's deveopment and young life. She thought ahead, before we left the house, to bring some of her own money, just in case she wanted to buy something special. Maybe she wanted to feel a bit independent. Fine with us, we thought. She does have a bit of a stash of cash since she's been providing flute lessons to the sister of a friend of hers. So she ended up bringing fifty dollars with her, in her own wallet, safely stashed in her own purse.
While at the Boardwalk that day, we haad plenty of treats, from slurpees to ice cream to pizza. Later in the afternoon, though, Penny decided that she really wanted to try some sort of lemon ice type of treat. She also insisted that she will treat the family. We had a stack of coupons that we got from buying a season pass, so that eased the financial burden somewhat, but at the end of the transaction, Penny pulled out her own money, handed it to the attendent, and got the change on her own. The rest of us, well, maybe just mama and me, watched in amazement how maturely she handled the entire event. No drama, no looking to her parents for guidance like she usually does, just calmly ordering, paying and receiving the goods. Nice job.
I was used to paying for everything that day, but this was a pleasant surprise, to get treated by my daughter, with money that she had earned from the outside, ie, not from the family by doing chores. It probably won't happen again for a while, but just the fact that it did, in the way it did, was really cool to see. Priceless.
River raft trip to Cache Creek Canyon in northwest Yolo County over the past weekend. It was another trip organized by Chris Hilton and his merry crew of ex-Adventure Guides families.
Cache Creek is not snowmelt, so it's not cold water. Penny and I both tried our hand at guiding the raft. I was a bit more successful than she was. At the rapids called Mothers, which is just below the bridge, she slid out of the raft and into the churn. We pulled her back in, and found her Grand Canyon hat floating by just past the rapids.