Thursday, November 6, 2014

NETA 2014 Presentation - Using Twitter in the classroom

Earlier in the year my paper "Tweeting you way to improved #writing, #reflection, and #community" was published in the Journal of Economic Education. The paper discussed how I used Twitter to improve writing in my principles of macroeconomics course. Since then, several other economists have joined in the literature regarding using social media in the economics classroom. Data analysis regarding the effectiveness of the pedagogy remains sparse.

In an attempt to fill that void, Dr. Michael Enz and I collected data across three economics classes (two intermediate micro and one principles of macro) in an attempt to measure the effectiveness of the methods detailed in my work in my 2014 JEE article.

We are presenting some of the results from that data collection today at the National Economics Teaching Association's 10th Annual Economics Teaching Conference in San Diego.

The PowerPoint for the presentation is below.

Happy tweeting,

Friday, October 17, 2014

Big week! Mile repeats and meeting the Governor

Although I am currently on Fall Break, this week has been an exciting one.

Over the summer I was appointed to the Governor McAuliffe's Joint Advisory Board of Economists (JABE). We had our fall meeting October 15th in Richmond. What we discussed in the meeting is confidential, but I can share non-confidential items. JABE meets each October. In this meeting, each member of the Board presents their take on the current/future US/Virginia economy. The comments are discussed and used to set the state budget. Pretty big stuff. This year we met in the Patrick Henry Building in downtown Richmond. Once we were settled we were told that the Governor was going to give a press conference mid-day and that we would break our meeting to hear it. His comments can be found here. Governor McAuliffe joined us after the press conference for a few minutes. After he departed we resumed our closed session meeting until around 1:00 pm.

I left Richmond for Wilmington in a downpour, but made it safely to the River City by dinner. Thursday morning I attended my first Without Limits track practice since June. Not only did I attend, but I was able to do the scheduled workout, albeit at a pace appropriate for getting back into the swing of things. We were given progressive mile repeats on the track starting at 7:00/mile and cutting down 5-10 seconds per mile each repeat. Most people did five, but I was told to only do three. Our paces for the first two were 6:52, 6:45. Coach Tom told me that I could push the third one, but not much faster then the fastest pace of my progressive run the week before (6:20s). He of course added "Don't try to impress me yet"... a Tom Clifford regular. I ran perfectly even splits for a 6:10 without totally gassing myself. Success! After the workout we did strength training with weights and resistance bands.

During this post-surgery phase Coach Tom wants me to work on my form. There are three major issues that I am going to address.

1) I lean back, sit in a bucket. I need to run tall and keep my hips tucked in. Currently my drive phase is being minimized. If I run tall and over my hips I will drive forward and not apply the brakes with each step.

2) My right arm flies out to the side. I need to keep both arms tucked in. I am wasting a lot of energy and not prompting my knees to lift with my arm swing.

3) My torso rotates too much. I am expending a lot of energy twisting up top. I need to keep my upper body "quiet". Doing so will also promote the forward drive that I am hoping to accomplish in fixing problems 1 and 2.

Coach Tom showed me a slow motion video of the Boston 2013 elite woman at mile 24. Their from, especially Shalane Flanagan's, is on point. You can see the video with Flanagan here and a great article on running form analysis here.

Perfect mile 24!

The rest of my Fall Break will be spent working on a research project (draft due at the end of the month), catching up with friends and family, and getting in miles in the pool and road.

A summary of my training since the last post is below:

Week #5
Four runs including a 20:00 run Wednesday with the last 10:00 progressive (I got down to the 620s thanks to the help of RVE teammates Steve and Ed), a total of two hours and fifteen minutes of running for the week; 23,050 yards including huge personal bests in the timed 1000 (15:55 vs. 16:58 from three weeks before) and 500 (7:29 vs. 7:54 from three weeks ago).

Week #6 (current)
On pace for five runs including the mile repeats on Thursday and an hour on Sunday for a total of three hours of running for the week; 23,150 yards in the pool including a break through on repeat 100s Tuesday (main set: 10 x 100 on 1:50 to be under 1:30, I went 1:26; 5 x 100 on 1:50 to be under 1:25, I went 1:18, 1:19, 1:19, 1:20, 1:21). For experienced swimmers this looks slow, but for me it was HUGE!! I hoping for some PRs in my swim meet next weekend.

Keep setting your goals high,

Friday, October 3, 2014

Getting a new pair of running shoes has never been so exciting

One consequence of being a marathon runner is the need to replace trainers frequently. Given that I did not run a step for three months, there was no need to replace my running shoes.

I started running September 9th and did two 20 minute runs that week. I noticed that my repaired knee was still uncomfortable running in minimalist trainers and that my trainers with more cushion were done. Each person is different, but I can tell when my shoes need to be replaced in my knees (perhaps because of the hilly terrain around Fincastle that gives the knees a workout.) My go-to "bulkier" trainers are the Brooks Adrenaline which I find are great for easy and long runs. My new pair arrived this week and have been taken on one 35:00 tour of Fincastle.

Usually ordering and getting new trainers is not this exciting, but the fact that I actually needed a new pair of shoes because I was RUNNING AGAIN was thrilling.

The return to running is progressing. After the first week, my dry land training has been as follows (currently running is a cross training activity for swimming:)):

Week #2: 25:00, 30:00, and 25:00 (with Sarah who I missed running with terribly!)
Week #3: 30:00, 30:00, and 45:00
Week #4 (current): 35:00, 35:00, and 50:00

The first run this week was the first run in which I felt normal. Coach Tom Clifford totally called this as he told me on Week #1 that I would feel awkward running until the early part of Week #4. I felt like a moose laboring up the hills until that 35:00 run in which I had a spring in my step. I felt much less moose-like. Swimming and AJing maintained my cardiovascular fitness, but my legs were not used to the impact that running entails.

Swimming has continued to come along as well. I have been hitting 20,000-25,000 yards a week and have my fast 100 yard repeats (on the 1:50) in the 1:20-1:23 range which is a big improvement for me. Thanks to Coach Brett Fonder for all of his help!

Enjoy the fall temperatures on your runs,

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

I can run!

Last week was the first week that I could start running after my surgery. Coach Tom Clifford had three runs for me to do. Each were easy 20:00 runs.

The first (Tuesday) was so exciting. I was finally running again. My legs felt heavy and awkward, but there was no pain in the meniscus and my aerobic capacity was great. Throughout the day I did not experience any swelling or soreness.

I ran again on Friday morning and felt a bit more stiff and still quite heavy. When I finished running, my legs felt like they might give way when I finished, but my lungs/breathing were fine. My knee started to bother me throughout the day, but not where I had my procedure. There was a pinpoint pain where Dr. Moore had seen mild arthritis under the knee cap.

The knee was still bothering me on Sunday, so I bagged my third run. After talking to Coach Tom and thinking about what Dr. Moore told me to expect, I should have run. My knee is supposed to be a bit achy. There is scar tissue and my legs are not used to impact. Additionally, my muscle in the repaired leg has atrophied some, so my stabilizer muscles need building. It is something that I have to get through and stop being scared about.

I continued swimming and had my highest weekly total ever: over 21,000 yards!

This week I have three runs planed, getting up to 30:00. I will finally get to run with one of my favorite running buddies, Sarah Glenn. How I have missed our runs! I also have over 25,000 yards planned in the pool as I continue to improve my swim times.

Kirk YMCA, Roanoke, VA (becoming one of my second homes)

Have you had a surgical procedure on your knee? If so, what aches and pains did you experience as you started running again?

Until next week,

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Race report: Steve Barden Memorial Swim Meet

You didn't misread...this is a race report about a swim meet. I swam my first swim meet in over 20 years and had a ball. This meet was perfect for getting my feet wet (pun totally intended). It was small and low-key with the added bonus of being in a fun town (Asheville, NC) for hanging out afterwards.

I entered this meet over a month ago to give myself added fuel for cross training during my injury. As the meet got closer I sought help for my start and turns and found it in the Gator Aquatic Club and Brett Fonder. Over the last few weeks he has changed my turn, got me over my fear of the blocks, and made me sprint my butt off.

I swam the 50 and 100 yd. races this weekend. Given times that I had swum off the blocks (high 32s for the 50 and 1:14-high for the 100), my goals were to swim 31/32 in the 50 and 1:10/1:12 in the 100.

The 100 was first and it did not go well. My start was fine, but 15 yards in I realize that I am not sprinting. I was doing exactly what Brett said not to do...pacing myself. I tried to change gears but it resulted in rushed turns and messy form. I swam 1:14.56. I won my age group...but there were only two of us:)

Next was the 50. I wanted to redeem myself. I executed the race just as Brett suggested and was doing well until I started hitting the lane line the last 15 yards. I could not get off that thing! I finished second in my heat in 32.67. Within my goal, but that lane line cost me a few tenths. I am in lane 4 with the red cap on in the video below (second in from the bottom):


The times are a place to start and I had a blast. I have already signed up for another meet in November:) The meet is in Virginia Beach in a 25 meter pool. I entered the 50, 100, 200, and 400.

I get to start running on Tuesday, but I am going to continue to swim at least five times a week and work with Brett with a goal of improving and moving up to distance events (since I do not have a lot of fast twitch muscles!)

Hammer on and don't be afraid to try something different,

Friday, September 5, 2014

August Real Estate Index: The market is strong

Each quarter, in addition to the Consumer Sentiment and Price Expectations Report, I also produce the Real Estate Index using the methodology developed by the Sienna College Research Institute.

The figure below illustrates views on the real estate market in Virginia.
A measure of zero indicates an equal share of respondents feeling optimistic as those who feel pessimistic about the housing market. Perceptions of the market remain strong since the second quarter of 2014 with the only loss occurring in beliefs about buying in the next year. The Fed is likely going to raise rates in 2015 which is a potential determinant of the loss in optimism. 

You can read the entire report here.

The next set of reports will be released in November,

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Two weeks of aqua training, lots of writing, and the start of the new school year

Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines...I need them. Luckily I had deadlines for two projects. One was the second draft of the gender inequality in Papua New Guinea for the ADB. We turned in a 131-page document on Friday. Whew! The project and results are interesting, and considerable inequalities exist in the country across a variety of issues. One that I analyzed was the gender differences in mode of transportation to health facilities. Below is one of the graphics I generated:
Of particular interest was share of urban male patients with TB taking public transportation. At advanced stages TB is quite contagious via coughing/sneezing, thus taking the bus puts others at risk. What else do you notice in this chart?

The second deadline was the August Consumer Sentiment Report which was released last week. An earlier post discusses the findings. Interestingly this report generated interest from some new media outlets including Clear Channel in Richmond, the Roanoke Times, and the Roanoke Star. The Times actually did their own write-up about the report rather than just reproducing our report. 

The 2014-15 AY began this week with faculty contracts beginning the prior week. I was elected the Faculty Moderator for the year so I had two obligations over the last two weeks: our first FAC meeting (which I Chair) and the first Faculty Meeting of the year. There is something terrifying about standing in front of a room full of Faculty and speaking, but once the first few minutes were over I was more relaxed. Thankfully there were no major goofs.

Training in the pool continued to be fun and challenging. I am going to swim in a small meet next Saturday in Asheville, NC, so I sought out help for my start and turn. It has been over 20 years since I last started off of the blocks. I found a great resource in the Roanoke area: the Gator Aquatic Center. I had two sessions with Brett Fonder and it is amazing what a more efficient turn can do for your time! He totally changed my turn, so that I push off from the wall on my back and do not roll over (freestyle) until I am away from the wall. We also worked on my start off the blocks. I am no longer terrified:) During a series of 50 free's off the blocks we got my time under :34 so I am hopeful that I can swim 32-ish in the meet next weekend. For real swimmers that is slow, but hey, I have been out of it for a long time! I am also entered in the 100 which will be a PR because I have never raced the event. 

Training over the last few weeks included several weight sessions (I can now do single leg squats on my leg that I had surgically repaired which is promising), AJ workouts, and swimming. Since I have missed a week, I will not bore you with two weeks of a daily training log, but I did have several sprint oriented swim workouts from Brett in preparation for the meet. I got in over 16,000 yds swimming this week, but a bit less the week before due to a crazy work schedule.

Here is to my goggles not filling with water in my races next weekend,