I was hoping to elicit a bit more discussion about the exam before posting this link, which many of you wrote in about. Ah, well. On the Urban Legends Reference Pages site, at http://www.snopes.com/spoons/fracture/exam.htm, the 1895 exam given in the previous journal entry is discussed. While I do not contend with very much stated on the page, I don't adopt its generally dismissive stance. While it's true that the exam may not in itself be solid evidence for the deterioration of the American school system, it is still quite useful for a number of things, not the least of which is a reminder about subject areas in which students are grossly negligent. It's also interesting from a purely historical perspective; indeed, the obsolete questions in the exam are the most interesting. The Urban Legends write-up of the 1895 exam explores the historical angle much further, because it is that that gives the exam context for addressing pretty much any other question about the exam and what it means.
As most of you who care probably already found out, the RinkWorks Convention was a flying success, and I fully intend to try to hold future conventions regularly, in a different part of the United States every time. It makes it easier for interested people with limited transportation means to make it at some point, plus gives my wife and I the opportunity to see the country. Our visit to D.C. did feel rather rushed -- there's only so much you can see in a few hours, Saturday being consumed by function hall activities, so Leen and I just might arrive a couple days early or leave a couple days late in the future.
In the past couple days, many of you probably noticed RinkWorks has been a bit unstable lately. The sporadic downtime was due to complications moving the site to a faster server. The move is, as of last night, complete, and everything should work beautifully again and possibly marginally speedier, too. If you tried to send me email, and it bounced, please try again. If you notice anything still broken, please let me know, and I'll fix it as soon as I can.
Moving along. The following is one of those "floating around the Internet" things. It's an eighth grade final exam that was given in 1895 in Salina, Kansas. The exam was taken from the original document on file at the Smoky Valley Genealogical Society and Library, located in Salina. I don't know if this exam was representative of exams given in eighth grade in 1895, but I would not be surprised. Could you have passed eighth grade a hundred and five years ago? I would be delighted to receive email with the thoughts that spring to your minds while reading this.
Three days to go. This Friday, Darleen and I will be waking bright and early to drive down to the Washington DC area, a scant nine hour drive, and staying through the weekend to host the RinkWorks Convention 2000, an event I'm hoping will work out and therefore make it worthwhile to do annually and hosting it in a different part of the country every time. If it works out, the next two RinkWorks Conventions will be held in New Hampshire and California, although I'm not sure yet which will be which. It'll be a small gathering but probably a fun one. Reports and pictures and so forth will be available online sometime after our return.
To travel down, we have two main options. One is to take I-495 to I-90, aka the Massachusetts Turnpike, eventually to I-84, then to I-78, then to I-81, and then slip down to I-66. That's the longer way, but shorter on time. It is also likely to get us there alive. The other way is simply to take I-95 the whole way. I-95 is a remarkable road, travelling from somewhere in the middle of Maine down to Miami, Florida. I-95 would be shorter distance-wise; the problem is that it goes right through the hearts of Boston, Providence, New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington DC itself before taking us to the southerly suburb of DC that we're headed for. Not only would we inevitably collide with multiple vehicles on the way down, get caught in constant traffic, but probably our cars and health would be stolen from underneath us so that, by the time we arrived to our destination, we could change our room reservation at the hotel from a regular room to a closet, as that would be all we'd need for what would remain of our mortal coils.
This will probably be the last journal entry from me until we return on Monday. I leave you with a letter I should have printed a long time ago -- it concerns the not so recent Reader Poll question, is sarcasm an invention or a discovery?
"The way I see it is that sarcasm is a method of communication, linked to but still separate from regular speech. Though the concept of communication is not exclusive to humans, the particular sophistication with which we communicate is uniquely ours (barring extra-terrestrial conversation, but that's an entirely different poll question). I think that it wouldn't be too horribly arrogant to say that we invented our various means of communicating, sarcasm among them.
"I think that sarcasm is a function of our uniquely sophisticated minds. Perhaps one could say we 'discovered' our brains, but we 'invented' ways of using it."