At any rate, I think that everyone should take a moment every day to notice or do something a little bit out of their ordinary. I don't always succeed, but I try. Enjoy.
1998 entries live here.
Well, I figured out why lectures have been bad this week. Mostly it's the fact that I've fallen prey to the dread disease of teachers, content coveritis. This is where you don't really spend enough time doing things right, even though you delude yourself into thinking you are, because the schedule starts running the show instead of you. In my case, this disease takes the form of not giving enough examples -- code examples -- to demonstrate these Great Ideas. This is bad in most fields, but fatal in CS because the stuff we work with is already so softr and fuzzy and hard to get a concrete grasp on. *sigh* At least I think I caught it, and only wasted two weeks or so.
On the way from racquetball, chalked on the sidewalk leading up to the steps of the ISAT building, which really does look to some extent like a cathedral of learning, on a hilltop, tall tower, etc. (but much colder and more austere than any actual cathedral): "Many are called, but few are chosen." It doesn't actually make much sense, semantically, but in the setting... quiet, dark, peaceful... it was really neat to see.
Smashed a wall today playing racquetball, the whole damn side of my body, on a ball I had no chance at anyways. Finished that game and two more, and didn't really think much of it at the time. But now I really, really feel bad, like I want to throw up, curl up, and die. (Note to my students: you do not get an automatic A if your instructor dies, only your roommate. So stop cheering.)
Bad day. Made a student cry, and I don't think I was being mean. Maybe I was and just didn't know it; a lot people who know me are asking, out of the blue, "Dan, are you mad today?" That must mean I'm stressed out.
There is something surreal in playing "Symphony Fantastique" and "Kyle's Mom's a Bitch" at the same time.
Beef and chicken work great together in a stir-fry. They do not work nearly so well when they're leftovers, mixed together with leftover rice and noodles. But they're still ok.
Well, a professor just walked right past me in the hall, without even acknowledging. Of course, this happens all the time, but today there's an excuse: he probably doesn't recognize me because of the slacks and such. Still.
"A "could-you-just-answer-the-question" dart to the CS instructor who gave a smart remark to a simple question considering an upcoming test." I'm not sure if it's sadder that I immediately thought "well, I did do that, that much be for me", or "well, actually, that could be one of a number of people around here."
Well, my dipstick handle broke off in Charlottesville yesterday, and by the time I got home today, it had melted to the dipstick opening. So: 2 hours with a drill, pliers, screws, anything that could get it out without sending little yellow plastic particles all over my engine. No such luck. *sigh* Oil change... 500 miles after the last one... hope everything's okay.
I hate this feeling that I'm working 70 hours a week and not being able to stay caught up. I wonder if most students even care much about comments and attention and getting graded things back quickly. I know some do, I don't know about most.
Yesterday I was here from 8am to 3am. No breaks. Too much.
Wow, that's a long time between entries. It's been almost surreally busy. Many interesting things have happened; one in particular. I keep getting nasty flyers from a nasty company about nasty entry-level computer books. Well, I got another unsolicited package from them, looked like a bubble- wrap mailing envelope. However... I go to open it up and all these fibers spew out. I'm deathly afraid that it was asbestos. I could live with getting cancer from something I really want, but from something I didn't even ask for... it's a bit too much.
So I was tripped in lecture by a student today. It was pretty funny. And I had a really interesting thought about talismans, which I need to sleep on, but will probably appear here soon. If I get to sleep. There is much grading and administrative work to do.
The question of the day: is the red shirt too fruity for me, or is it just the right amount fruity?
An excellent day to be a Steeler fan. Life has been very busy recently with school and stuff, so this has tailed off, and will probably continue to do so for a while.
My glow-in-the-dark band-aid doesn't. I'm very disappointed.
Seen today: a bumper sticker: "Any SEX that can send you to HELL is not SAFE". Whether you agree with the religious viewpoint or not, that's cute. And a guy with a styrofoam pear impaled on the top of his radio antenna.
Saw the ugliest car color I have ever seen today. It was... I can't even describe it. In other news, university departments are providing the same high level of quality service to students that they have become renowned for. Bully for them.
Well, this was an interesting week, but what I really want to talk about is reading a Steeler webpage and getting an ad that asked "Constipation?" in big letters. Major-league tackiness.
Mediocre lecture in 139 today. I felt remedial. We've got to remember that computer knowledge, though perhaps not quite as fast as Moore's Law, is increasing, and people coming into the degree (hopefully) know more every year. I hate when I do things like that.
(Very early.) Not content with having one of the less pleasant days in recent memory (other stuff happened yesterday, too), some sadistic part of my brain said "Hey, let's go through and clean up the old paper mail archives from people who don't care about you any more, and some of whom, in fact, were pretty damn hateful about saying so!" And the masochistic part of my brain said, "CooL! Okay!" The rational part of my brain has clearly been beaten into submission by the chaos of the last few days, and I'm finishing off all the surviving parts with beer at 2 in the morning. This is probably not the way to get ready for the semester, which starts... in 32 hours. On the other hand, things really can't go any direction but up now, can they? And the cats still love me. That's something.
Busy, busy the last few days. I can't believe today, though. I haven't felt that stupid in front of that many people for a long, long time. And although I can claim that it was problems that resulted from depending on other people -- messed up login scripts, a server down, lab computers locked out because of time restrictions allegedly in the name of security -- I just feel... responsible. I should have thought of things, I should have tried to get things done earlier so I'd have more time to check up and fix things. What a wretched feeling. And the bonus is that I did all this in front of 110 freshmen who I'll be teaching and advising all year, who are probably even as I type this writing home long e-mails about the idiot CS instructor today. *sigh*
At least tomorrow should be better.
Saw a ladybug crawling upside down on the elevator ceiling. Pretty cool.
Took the "red-eye" flight home from the conference, stuck between two large men in a middle seat. Pretty wretched experience. My circadian rhythm now has a definite backbeat.
I've been busy. Sue me. The conference went well from a learning about IR standpoint, lousy from a social standpoint. But then, I'm just not good at being social. I did, however, get to hear about an "n-dimensional joke space", which I thought was funny in and of itself. Made a friend, learned that IR people hate users (for the most part), and in general had a good time despite not achieving one of my primary goals, talking to people at U of M. It happens.
Well, here I am in Berkeley for the SIGIR conference. It's interesting... I just don't feel all the way here yet. San Francisco sure is pretty, though. Or, I should say, "The Bay Area". Poor Oakland always loses. Also, the Pittsburgh airport has a mall inside, which is nice, but yesterday was the first time I ever saw a plane have to take a detour around construction on the runway, which was weird. Off to learn whether I like IR or not (besides the fabulously seductive idea of collaborative filtering).
It occurs to me that a page like this isn't something that you can just force... But when you go to a place the Harrisonburg's own Hair Corral for a quality, five-dollar haircut, it just comes naturally. And picture the bumper stickers... "More than OK... the Hair Corral". "High noon at the Hair Corral". It's a funny-looking place inside, too.
Went bowling today. Twisted an ankle, slipped, and took a header right onto the lane in the fourth game. It was weird, because I was the third person who fell, and you don't usually see that.
Why does my bread always come out of the bread machine unrisen and dense?
Oh, one thing I forgot.. we stopped at a place called The Andersons in Toledo that has a really nice selection of single beers (among other nice things). Anyways, I dropped one and the glass cut my leg when it broke. And a couple of months ago I dropped a whole growler jug of some really good stout in Charlotte. Apparently, I can't hold my liquor.
So, 2,946 miles later... not a whole lot happened the last half of the trip. We saw a Steelers training camp practice for the first time. It wasn't nearly as intense as I'd anticipated. Also, we stayed in a horrible motel that was redeemed by an exceptionally cute and friendly kitten that someone had abandoned there. The owner of the motel said we could take the cat, but we were afraid of messing up the chemistry between the two cats-in-residence, Proton and Electron. We liked her so much, though, that we decided to call her Quark. I hope someone else who wants a cat finds her.
I was an audience participant in Comedy Sportz... sort of like Whose Line Is It Anyways?. It was harder than it looks.
Been a pretty light couple of days since I've been on the road. It has been an absolutely marvelous trip, though. There was a guy who had his goldren retriever hanging out the window and needed a "Dog Is My Co-pilot" bumper sticker. And who can fail to appreciate The Bionic Minnow? It has Supernatural action... apparently, it can summon the spirits of dead fish. And I can just imagine the people who came up with it. Saw a minnow, half-eaten by some silly bass... "We can rebuild it! We can make it faster, stronger, better..." (cue theme music).
So what is Mr. Potato Head's first name?
I'm trying to decide whether "They can't code their way out of a paper stack" is far too heinous a pun to ever speak.
Yes, I did bowl a 205 today. Touch that.
I've been a complete diary lamer. So sorry, everyone, but I've been in a crappy mood. I'm so tired of alleged friends blowing off plans, and not really having people around to spend time with.
Well, I thought I had graduated, but apparently not. No one in CS remembered to tell the Grad School that I passed comps via the oral defense at the thesis. And unfortunately, no one in records or at the Grad School bothered to ask me. Nor did any of the CS people. Fuckity-fuck-fuck, as they say.
Wow! That's some big-bubble bubble wrap!
Damn, it's hot. I'm going to be in the CS building All Day Long for the next few days, because it has air conditioning and we don't. Ugh.
Going through my instructor evaluations from this year.
"I really enjoyed listening to Dan lecture. He is an extremely competent instructor/lecturer and knows what he is talking about. However, I get this feeling that I am being scuked into the hell that is Computer Science work. I get a picture in my head of Dan Cosley dressed as the devil standing there basting the carcass of a pig that is being roasted over an open flame. Flames surround him and while tending to the pig he says 'Come and join me! First we will eat then then we will BURN!!!'"Prozac. Prozac, Prozac, Prozac.
Here's a little something to savor: the smell of a freshly sharpened pencil. Try it. Trust me.
Found in the CS breakroom, one box of crackers. Here's what it says.
"At last, there is is gourmet cracker special enough to be served with the world's finest wines, cheese, caviar, and hors d'oeuvres. Bullshit(tm) brand Wine, Cheese, & Caviar Crackers are specially baked one batch at a time to create a delicately balanced cracker that complements your good taste."I'm sorry, but welcome to Velveetaland.
So I'm at CostCo, and I go to the restroom. For some reason, the women's room sign is a circle, while the men's is a triangle. If anyone has a rational explanation for this, I would love to hear about it.
A late birthday present from Mark: one breadmaker. It works fanTABulously. Thank you, sir.
Well, I went to South Carolina over the weekend and bought a car. It was a fantabulous experience, and you're cordially invited to go to Autobytel and check it out if you're interested.
Also interesting was the woman I caught peeing in the park in Greenville SC while walking her dog. I'm not sure I've ever seen butt cheeks quite that way before.
Happy birthday to me. I wasn't expecting much of a day, but Sue was pretty darn thoughtful.
Sue pointed out that for the work I do in July, plus the leftover pay from teaching (I get paid over 12 months), that I could put one hell of a down payment on a new car. Why do you tempt me with that, woman?
The water bill, for the flood... $171 dollars. And that bill doesn't include all the time that we we were gone, either. Ugh.
A rather long trip. A few observations.
Happy graduation to me.
You'd think that, it being the College of Integrated Science and Technology, that we'd be able to fasten the flag down so that it wouldn't flap all over the place. If not, maybe we could get a couple of boy scouts in here.
I got out of the building today just in time to see the last little sliver of sun falling behind the mountains. That was neat, but sad. It's sort of like the semester -- practically over.
*sigh* Temper, temper.
I've decided that the plus-minus grading system conclusively sucks. It gives you three times as many chances to have a dispute with students. I don't know what to do about it, but I'm going to have a couple of free days to consider the issue, and I'm going to figure something out.
Wow, I hate finals week. I don't hate grading. I don't hate taking them. I hate the discussions that are are sure to follow here.
New term: scruplectomy.
On an unrelated note, is it healthy to think "Woo-hoo! The wife's going out of town this weekend! I can grade continuously without being interrupted!"?
Well, I have all the thesis signatures. Turn-in today or tomorrow.
Okay, students, I know that a lot of brains have officially checked out for the rest of the semester. But you have turn turn your stuff in on time. I know you don't care, but I've got a few things to do this week myself, like turn in a thesis, and I don't have time to play wet nurse to you all.
So we're at Yee's place tonight, and they're playing what sounds like great soft Chinese hits from the 60s, 70s, 80s and today. I've always wondered about the lyrics, though. They probably translate to "Hey, fat, lazy Americans, come gorge on our food and clog your arteries, and die young so you don't have to see us take over your country. Thank you for your business!" Or something like that. Plus Yee's has a security camera... pointed at the buffet. They must really be serious about sharing. "FREEZE! Put the Kung Pao down, NOW."
And now there's someone complaining because they only got 100 percent, accusing me of favoritism because I gave out bonus points to a few people. He'd like to see some code examples from the people who did better, but unfortunately he's also anonymous so I'll not be able to do that. It's things like this that want me to ask my friends (both of them) to remind me to never, ever solicit comments again.
Oh, okay, he did attack me, but only verbally in class comments. (Well, I'm not positive it's him, but it's his speaking tone and he's been pretty critical in the past.) That I can handle, and he had some good ideas. But he made some comments about how I may not be willing to put in effort to make the class better, and how I'm "coveting big secrets" of modularity. Perhaps a more rational explanation would be that this is the first programming class I've taught and I make mistakes.
Well, I didn't think over half the class would take me up on my offer for a personal meeting about their code. It worked out pretty well for most people who did meet with me, I think, and it was mostly a win-win situation. One guy I gave a C to -- and it was a questionable C, but he tries hard so he got the benefit of the doubt -- looked like he wanted to attack me.
Got another one. Now I don't feel nearly so special. Besides, I hate being called Danny.
I got a bottlecap from a bottle of Sobe: "Be the Lizard, Danny". Now I know that they couldn't have slipped this bottlecap into Harrisonburg knowing that I'm going to buy it here. So what does it mean?
Great, a Pepsi ad campaign that stars a little girl who gets demonically possessed every time she drinks a Coke. C'mon, spin her head!
Oh, and the whole not-having-a-room 10 minutes before the thesis defense thing was kind of annoying.
McDonald's -- not just a greasy, minimum-wage job, but an education in humanity.
I can think of better places to put an armrail than in the three feet between the steps up and the door.
The warning on the side of the Band-Aid box says to see a doctor in case of a medical emergency. I can just picture some schmoe out there... "Whoa, I cut my finger off! I think I'll put a Band-Aid on it and I'll be okay! Thank God for Glow-In-The-Dark Band-Aids!" Even sadder is that they probably had to put that there because some retarded cretin hired a lawyer to claim that they suffered permanent damage because they thought it was okay to close a 10-inch chest wound with Band-Aids because there was no warning label on the box.
And let me just say that the 12 applets that the JMU grad school page uses as navigation buttons is one of the worst abuses of HTML I've every seen. How about a little less tricking out HTML and a little more content, eh? Thesis guidelines, suggestions, information?
Ack! I bought a collection of early Beatles tunes and recordings. Damn, it's _wretched_. It's painful when, say, a middle school band drops 20 or 30 beats a minute, but it's intolerable in, say, "Shout!".
So I'm driving home, and I see something in the road. It's moving in place, rippling, so I figure it's a bag or piece of cloth or something, and I steer so I'll pass over it. And right before I get to it I realize it's a little woodland animal that's been hit by a car, and it's on its back, and what I saw were its legs, running frantically in the air. It was very depressing. I went back to put it out of its misery but by the time I looped around to it, someone had beaten me to it. Ugh.
The neighbor kids were drawing chalk outlines of their bodies in the road today. Cute kids. Labeled and everything. "Amber's dead body." Of course, it was wearing chalk shoes, too, which normally isn't part of the routine, but hey, they're young.
It's days like this that make you seriously consider running around outside naked all day long. And it's going to be even better Monday and Tuesday. Of course, that means lower class attendance. And we all know what that means...
Well, I'm looking at the tea choices in the drawer... Earl Gray, Peach... English Breakfast Tea. It's morning, so I'll have that one. But I'm not sure why it's "breakfast" tea. What if they called it "Early Gray", would that be a breakfast tea, too?
There's a bottle of baby wipes in the store, with seven or eight naked baby butts, all lined up in a row. I'm sure it's designed to make mothers go "awwww... how cute." But if it were on the Internet, I wonder how long it would take for someone whose grip on reality is a little loose to start screaming about child pornography. Not that child porn is good, mind you; but the perception in some quarters of the Internet as a den of iniquity is troubling.
I'm realizing that I'm in danger of turning into a human server. When people need things -- help, answers to questions, teaching, conversation, whatever -- I respond. Sometimes even when I shouldn't, because I have other things to be doing, I do anyways. Worse, like a server, I have very little initiative. Go out and do something fun? Whatever. I'm almost entirely task-driven, and that works for a while, but not forever.
So wet today, the ducks had come out of the creek and were running around on the road. Bizarre.
So I decide to make breakfast, and I put the biscuits on a cookie sheet and set them on the stove while the oven warms up, and I put on a pot of water for tea, and I turn on the burner and go away for a couple of minutes while things transpire.
I turned on the wrong burner. I hope the smoke is gone by the time I get home.
I was thinking about this the last couple of days, and I've definitely concluded if teaching were an organism, grading would be its rectum. Not even the part about looking at work and making comments -- sometimes that's not fun, either, having to tell someone "Hey, this really isn't very good." But at least that seems to have something to do with helping people. Slapping numbers on things, on the other hand, doesn't seem to contribute a great deal to the educational experience. Point- chiselling replaces learning information, and it all degenerates into a sort of big game with some people. Ugh.
A lecture due,
100 projects to grade.
A cup of oatmeal,
a cup of French pressed coffee.
So I've got this exotic sort of storage medium: square, flat, a couple of notches in it, and it takes ohIdontknow five or six seconds to remember "oh yeah, that's a floppy disk".
Oh, and I wore mismatching shoes today.
I definitely scared her, she's stopped talking to me. Oh, well. I just accidentally slid part of a coursepack into the $5 Big Lots electric stapler and now it can't let go.
"I need to buy a belt and an alarm clock, but it's not time-critical."
I believe I'm scaring the hell out of this nice person I just met. She's reading the website and the revelations are shocking. Poor her.
Wow, this week just flewby. My sister has a new job at the bank, paying about $5,000 more than I'm making. Way to go, kiddo.
I keep getting these course catalogs from companies filled with, essentially, training materials. Some of the books are on things like WordPerfect 6.1. And Windows 3.1. And DOS 5.0. I mean, please. You don't have to be on the bleeding edge, but these are on the festering, disgusting clotted edge.
Alas, the windshields are icy today. Also, did James Madison's friends call him "Jimmy"? It was probably more like "Hey, conn-breath!" Or perhaps, "You bald fool!"
Well, I gave away my little plastic ice scraper to someone today. Poor guy was in the Godwin lot and had an SUV, a lot of windshield, and a lot of ice -- no ice scraper. Not that giving away an ice scraper is the height of generosity, but hey.
Today I saw a fellow at Costco, probably around 50-ish, pushing his shopping cart along, and then gave the ground a big kick and hopped up on the rear bottom bar. Cruising along on his cart in the parking lot, in his dress clothes and tie. It was quite a sight. But very cool.
I really don't like the new student center, but I have to say that the dining room upstairs is a stellar place to eat lunch. Quite the view.
Did I mention that I have a draft zero of the thesis turned in? I do. But before I feel too clever, I'm noticing that all the dates so far this year below say "98". Duh.
My wife, who's said she'd read my thesis three or four times this week, promises to read it today in the car if we drive up to Winchester so she can exchange some Christmas presents. And promptly, upon starting to read it, falls asleep. That's a downer. (Sacrificing half a day of thesis work in order to get this reading and some discussion, and then emerging with nothing, wasn't very exciting either.)
Been sort of busy getting things started with the semester and trying to wrap up at least a rough crack at the thesis. A quick funny: we introduced ourselves in class tonight, and I said I was a sixth semester grad student. One of the other guys, Shen (probably spelled wrong), asks if he stays around for six semesters if he'll get an office, too. I unfortunately did not get to the point of telling him to try it and see.
Harrisonburg: A nice place to live, but I wouldn't want to visit there.
I don't think I mentioned that I won the computer lottery at school. $500 in matching funds. I wish I could talk myself into buying something fun, like a digital camera or CD-RW, or both. But the lottery will cover receipts back through May 1, and so I'll probably just submit $1000 in receipts from the last year and get $500 back. Nothing to sneeze at, I know -- I'm sure most people wish they had this problem. But I need to let myself have a little more fun.
Slept through the new year, as always. Bah, humbug.
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