Thursday, July 21, 2011

The view from my room.
Most of my readers have been following me on Facebook and won't be surprised to hear about a new role I acquired at a new job, The Easterner.
In order to "Hit the ground running," I have flown to Minneapolis for the Associated Collegiate Press's summer workshop.
I ate breakfast in Cheney, lunch in Phoenix and dinner in Minneapolis.
My colleague and I were greeted in high style yesterday. When we arrived at the dorms, so did three fire trucks and a police car. False alarm, thank goodness.
Today's session was a short course in newsroom management.
While my big, albeit, irrelevant question is unanswered, I can say that I'm on the right track.
I know that's not saying much that is new or enlightening, but I'm processing still. I'm learning lots.
The view from my room is of the University of Minnesota Medical Center. I was blessed with a corner room with two windows.
Tomorrow I hope to tell you about Starbucks' sparrows.

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Photo essay- bike ride from Cheney to Spokane

I'll be writing an article about the trail from Cheney to Spokane soon. Here are some photographs that will accompany the story.
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Our view from the restaurant where we refreshed ourselves before catching a bus back to Cheney.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Mail Carrier, or just a job?

Through rain, sleet or snow, the mail carrier is always reliable....or are they? I have had recent experiences that say not so much. Sure, they can deliver the mail, but when it comes to actually picking up the mail you leave out, they are not so reliable.

I have left mail out and nine times out of ten, they pick it up. However, the last three times they just left it there. I contacted the Postal Service, and they told me that they don't have to stop if there is no mail to be delivered, even if your little red flag is up that tells them that there is mail to be picked up. I mean, it's their job, right? At least it used to be. The Post Office went on to tell me that some of the "old school" mail carriers will stop if they see mail clipped to the outside of the mail box, or the red flag is up.

So, whats the point of putting this out if they wont take it? I mean, what if you are someone who can't make it to the Post Office and you have a very important piece of mail? It will just sit there until you have mail for them to deliver, that's what! It is frustrating that they can't just look over and see if there is mail to be picked up, it's job security.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Avoid North Sixth- high school parking lot construction.
If you live in the neighborhood east of the high school, watch out for high speed traffic down North Fifth. It's a small section of North Sixth that is blocked off, but many confused drivers are detouring to Elm.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Community calendar items added on 3/24/11

The West Plains EXTRA has listed the following community events that we've added to the calendar on the WA@2.4K' blog.

March 27: Friends of Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge will hold their Fourth Annual Fundraiser Auction from 1 to 4 pm at the Lincoln Center, 1316 N. Lincoln St, Spokane, Wash. Tickets are $25 for members and $30 for nonmenbers. Food will include a pasta buffet with salad, dessert and a no-host bar. A silent and live auctions will also feature a number of items to bid on. For more information, please contact Joanne Powell at 999-2090, or Louise O'Leary at 235-4531.

April 2 and 3: The 22nd Cooper Jones Memorial Tour of the Frozen Flatlands. Saturday April 2, Time trials on Highway 904 in front of the Cheney Free Press. Later that day, a road race will go from the same area and end at the Fairview Cemetery on Salnave Road. Sunday April 3, a road race will run on roads near Chapman Lake and Williams Lake. For more information, please visit the Baddlands Cycling Club at

April 3: St. John's Lutheran Church of Sprague will hold their 26th Annual Sausage Feed from 11 am to 3 pm at the Sprague Community Hall at 3rd and C street in Sprague, Wash. Adults $9.00, 6-12 $4.00, 5 and under are free.

April 16 and 17: Eastern Washington University's 10th Annual Spring Shootout. The Campus Rec sponsored event brags double elimination and officials on all courts. Entries must be received by Friday, April 1. or call 359-4836 for more information.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

NFL Rule Change Forbids Colored Turf

KHQ's SWX reports that Eastern Washington University's red field is unacceptable by NFL standards. During a decision in New Orleans on Tuesday, owners also voted for automatic replays of scoring plays and changes in the location of kickers during kickoff.

If you find out why the changes were enacted, please report in a comment below!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Cows are Watching

By David McMillin

This was a blog about the naming of my blog, "The Cows Are Watching." As my first post at the WA@ 2400K', it seemed appropriate to talk about my blog and why it is named such.  As a side note this adventure took place at Bonnie Lake.

This blog is about getting out and exploring places whether they are close to home or far away. So why call it, “The Cows are Watching?”  I think the question deserves an answer or, more to the point, a story about one of my little adventures or, more precisely, misadventures. 

This past summer I took my kayak out to a local lake I had read about in one of those books with a list of different nearby adventures. Getting to the lake required paddling up a channel until the lake magically appeared out of the landscape. At least this is what I expected. I got to the the boat launch just fineall excited about my little adventure. The launch was on the side a bridge, and since the lake was not visible from the road and I had failed to examine the map closely enough to see which direction the lake was from the bridge, I decided that going under the bridge was the wrong direction. After paddling through stagnant and narrow waterways, I should have figured out I was going the wrong way, especially when a cow crossed the stream in front of my kayak, I finally decided I was going the wrong direction, mostly because a small waterfall was blocking my route. 

At this point only one option was left, turn the kayak around and paddle back upstream. At the place the cow had crossed in front of me earlier, the spot was a wide little pool with a narrow inlet and outlet, I pulled up in my little 13' wooden boat and realized that there were about 10 cows standing on the rim of the little rise which surrounded the pool, staring at me while chewing their cuds. The whole experience was like something out of a Far Side comic, the cows on the rim of the hill keeping watch over me while their companions are on the other side plotting the conquest of the world. 

So the name of the blog derives from the my experience of the cows watching me as I was paddling my boat the wrong direction. The story does have a happy ending, I did find the lake once I went under the bridge and up a much wider canal.

Monday, March 14, 2011

WA@2.4K' Welcomes Two New Bloggers!

WA@2.4K' has added author Dave McMillin and photographer Jeff Bradford.

     Jeff Bradford is a photographer living with his wife and two daughters in Cheney, Wash.  He has worked as a photo editor for “Knight Life,” the student paper of the Wenatchee Valley College and was named Journalist of the Quarter in spring quarter of 2006.

     Dave McMillin is an adventurer who drafts autocad, instructs college on an occasional, part-time basis and writes on several blogs. He has a degree in history with a minor in mathematics from Eastern Washington University.

We look forward to viewing more from these contributors!

1000th hit!

If you're the 1000th hit to this site, send me a note and I'll buy you a cup of coffee!

Emily Audet: Best of the West Plains Teacher of the Year, Cheney

The West Plains Chamber of Commerce has awarded Emily Audet as Teacher of the Year in Cheney. She teaches science; AVID, which is a college readiness class; and students in action, which is a leadership program. She was nominated by her principals.

Cheney man killed while crossing Highway 904

FOUR LAKES, Wash.—A Spokane teen struck Petrick P. Rogers on Highway 904 with a 1992 Ford Explorer. Washington State Patrol believes the Sunday night accident was weather related. For more information, visit the Krem2 multimedia story.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Every Hour a Golden Hour in EWU's Math Classrooms

“Knowing I get kind of intimidated by math,” says Eastern Washington University senior Dori Simpson, “I signed up with a gal that I had met in lab—a graduate student that I knew I did well with her style of teaching.” But within the week before the start of classes, all the instructors shifted, and she lost her pick for math 115.
Simpson is a nontraditional student with red hair cascading well below her shoulders and large, round eyes. She was still optimistic that she could succeed until she asked a question in class. “‘Well, it’s obvious, isn’t it?’ (the instructor said.) And all I could say was, ‘Well no, not to me it’s not obvious and thanks for making me feel stupid—by saying that, that way,’” says the French and Spanish major through pursed lips.
Simpson swallowed her pride until the first three assignments were turned in together and handed back. Out of a total of 50 questions, she missed three, but the instructor gave her a C. The professor combined the three assignments, valued them at ten points and subtracted the number missed. “Seven out of 10…became a C,” Simpson says. So normally, when you have 50 questions, you would get two points off per question because of how the math works. So I was expecting a low A.”
She is not alone. A student who asked to remain anonymous had difficulty with a math professor early this quarter. “We would ask her what she meant by something, and she would go over it a little bit and then she’d be like, ‘Okay, if you have any other questions, you need to try this problem on your own and come and see me in my office hour, and we’ll talk about it. I personally am not capable of doing it with my schedule.”
On the first two tests, the junior couldn’t figure out what the instructor was asking for, and so put too much information on the test and was unable to finish the first two tests this quarter. She says that if she didn’t use the right method to solve the problem—even if she got the correct answer—or if she placed the answer on the wrong part of the page, she wouldn’t get full credit for it. Her first two test scores were 74 and 66 percents.
Mathematics department chair Dr. Barbara Alvin speaks slowly when discussing success rates. She says students who score 90 percent on a test might not know as much as students in another section. “You can ask more insightful questions to get at student’s lack of understanding and hence you have to give them a lower grade.” She doesn’t understand students’ happiness with class averages above 3.5. “If you’re getting a 3.9 in that class, you don’t look a lot different than the rest of the students. Where if you were in a class where everyone had to learn something to get a grade, you might have some students below the 3.0. Then, when you’re applying to graduate school, you look different from your fellow students.”
“I want (students) to be challenged because they’re going to learn more…If everybody can get a 3.5 or above, then are you asking enough?…I doubt that many of the students that are failing are spending a minimum of ten hours (a week) outside class, studying.”
But Dr. Alvin knows of students’ overall academic challenges. “EWU admits students with lower SAT scores and lower high school GPAs than are admitted at other institutions. A higher percentage of our students are eligible for financial aid, and oftentimes that’s an indicator of future success in college.” Dr. Alvin explains that it’s probably related to the lack of emphasis on education at home, the lack of access to the same schooling prior to going to college and the lack of interest in their studies.
She says that legislature often looks at retention rates and graduation rates, but EWU administrators want them to remember the higher percentage of students on federal financial aid. “(Financial aid students) may be more likely to have to work in addition to studying for their courses…I’m sure there are some courses I would have gotten a higher grade on if I hadn’t had to work because I would have had more time to study.”
“People want to blame a problem on someone else. It’s easier to say it’s in someone else’s control than in my own control…I think it’s true for myself. I think it’s human nature,” says Dr. Alvin, “I’m not saying that we shouldn’t admit to mistakes or ways in which we can do things better, but we shouldn’t take away from students’ responsibility either.”
If students are unable to get additional help outside of class, then every hour with the instructor is critical. “There’s a connection between (department) budget and class size…You can have a lot more interaction with your students if you have a class of 20 than if you have a class of 40.” Dr. Alvin says this gives instructors more time to assists individual students. “In my perception…it’s easier for (students) to sit there and text and talk to their neighbor…and as soon as the students don’t feel accountable, the interactions in class aren’t as good as they would be in a situation where they do feel accountable.”
And maybe students pick up on classroom-size problems. At, 825 votes toward 62 EWU math instructors rated them with an average of 64.7 percent from October 2002 to the present. Hardly a scientific sampling in comparison to the estimated 2,000 math students per quarter; these numbers represent students who have found the rating website and given a positive or negative vote.
When asked for passing statistics, Dr. Alvin said that she and I would need to do an institutional review board request before any information could be released. “We don’t respect students who are writing in because they’re disgruntled. If they’re unhappy, they should come in and talk to us about why they’re unhappy…And students come to me…There are times that students have legitimate concerns. And sometimes there are just misunderstandings.”
Simpson did go in. “I…tried to get permission to switch professors because I knew it wasn’t going to work. I was told you can’t change professors. So I was frustrated because they switched all the classes the week before without any kind of notice…then regardless of the fact they did that, they tell me that I have no option.”
Simpson needed a GPA above 3.7 to keep her transfer scholarship. After speaking with three people in the department office, she dropped the class to join a language class 10 days into the quarter. The biggest problem with the math department, says Simpson, is that there is no advocate for the student. “Policies and people don’t always work in a clear and cut dry way.”
After the two uncompleted tests, the junior who didn’t have time to see her instructor during her office hour talked to her instructor after class. The professor said the junior was her best student, she needed to study more and many of her other students who took the test had walked out a half hour early. The student asked her classmates and students from the other same-level class the instructor taught and found this might not be true. No one she spoke with had finished the test early.
She spoke to Dr. Alvin about test lengths. Dr. Alvin told her that she would speak to the instructor, but that she didn’t know her tactics. The teacher might want the students to know the material well enough to zip through the test.
Now things are different. “She’s changed…to answering the questions of the students as we continue pressuring her to satisfy our question,” says the anonymous student. They had their first review the day before their third test. The instructor told them what work to show. The student thought she aced the test but achieved a passing 85 percent.
Simpson retook math 115 and earned a 3.9 in the class. Her new professor graded differently. He went over homework in class the next day without grading it. The first part of class was devoted to homework questions or concept problems. “He would take a liberal amount of time… so you could see if you were learning a concept. And you weren’t all of sudden going to have your grade suffer because the night before—when a concept was just introduced—you couldn’t figure out how to apply it to three or four different problems.”

What do you think? We would love to hear from you. Please share your comments below. Watch for more stories in this series.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Rollover Accident at Betz and Micheal P. Anderson (Updated pictures)

Emergency vehicles are blocking off part of the intersection. If you need to get through the intersection, give yourself extra time. BetzWreck 003 Click on any picture for a larger view.

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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Inland Power and Light Capitalizes on Kitty

An animal-loving Medical Lake man has been charged almost $400 for almost-rescue of a neighbor's cat off a utility pole earlier this month. The cat had been stuck for four days.

Learn more about Aaron Lawrence's quarrel with Inland Power and Light in a multimedia story by KHQ.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Post Blizzard Pictures (2-25-11)

After the snow settled, I returned to EWU's radio tower and shot pictures of the sunset. It was a day later, but the view was much clearer.

Click on any of the pictures for a larger view.


2-25-11 South Hill/Mica Peak

Morrison Streeter 2-25-11

Water tower 2-25-11

EWU 2-25-11

Steptoe Butte in the distance, EWU in the foreground.

Northern Hill, Cheney 2-25-11

Mica Peak 2-25-11

Mica Peak--the view from EWU radio tower.