Saturday, May 28, 2005

The Grading is Dead! Long Live the Grading!


I’m done grading!

I should feel more wonderful than I do, but I’ve got 2 projects that need to be done now, and I’ll be getting another stack of ~100 papers to grade next week.

But for now I’m done!

How should I celebrate? It has to be quick though. I don’t have time for an elaborate celebration. Pizza? Movie? I would rebuild my desktop and play a video game, but that could turn into a long celebration (dang-blasted addictive personality).

At the very least I’m going to leave the café. I love the place, but I’m becoming more like furniture here than I think is healthy.

Looming Finals

When finals are looming, the two most entertaining places in the world are the library and the near-campus café.

The library is always fun because you get to watch the students who haven’t been in the library since they toured it with their parents when they got the campus tour as a senior in high school. They’ll walk around slowly, clutching their slip of paper that has the location of the one book they need. They nonchalantly try to study the maps while the more experienced students breeze by them.

The other students I like to watch are the poor folks huddled over a laptop, barricaded in their little cubicle by stacks of books that you just know they were meant to read for this class but never got around to it. I always feel for them. They’ll be there all night trying to build a classes worth of reading into a paper.

In the more raucous areas, you get the barely controlled chaos of the group projects. Four or five students who finally decided to get together to plan out their presentation.

They’re usually of two types. One group will be silently sitting together, everyone staring at their notebooks. Occasionally, someone will say, “We could do a PowerPoint thing.” Everyone will suddenly pipe up and agree, but then the group will fall into silence again. The more entertaining group is the one made of all friends who thought it would be cool to do the project together. They probably ordered pizza and snuck it in to the study rooms. They’re loud enough to disturb the quiet group, not that the quiet group would complain. They don’t really talk about the project much, but they have a great time doing it. I should mention that I have no idea how either one of these groups ever get their project finished.

But the café… In the café you usually get a different group of folk altogether. The cafés are usually further away from the campus, so the dorm-bound are excluded. When you walk in, you feel the difference. If there’s a free hotspot, then the laptops spring up everywhere, with tangles of power cables snaking dangerously across the floor.

Here you find the students that have been here all along. They stumble in, order the same thing they always order (preferable caffeinated and refillable), and then fight for a table to occupy for the better part of the day.

Here you have the grad students with piles of bluebooks or neatly stapled printed pages that slowly accumulate their ribboning of frustrated and angry red pen-marks.

Here you get the guy in the corner who may be a student, but you get the idea that he just likes reading Kant, and maybe he wants you to think he’s a student.

Even the person behind the counter has a well-marked copy of The Drowned and the Saved that she looks at in between customers.

The most entertaining visitor is the local. They walk in with a confused look, stepping over-carefully over the power cables. They don’t understand what they’ve stepped into. Why isn’t there a table available at two in the afternoon? What are all these kids doing here? They usually leave quickly without talking much.

Op-Eds and Apricots and Emails, Oh My!

First off, there's more hand-wringing about the state and funding of K-12 in the editorial pages of the now not-so-grey Grey Lady. Enjoy the op-ed pages while you can, they're going pay-only soon.

Apricots have just come in the local megaconglomocorp grocery store. I was very stoked. I bought a lot. I have to admit I’m a bit underwhelmed. Ok, granted, the first one I had was tainted by toothpaste, but number two, with my palette suitably cleansed by a delicate glass of ’05 tap water, was ‘eh.’ Maybe I’m just asking too much of my apricot. Cherries should be coming in soon. Maybe I’ll fare better there.

On the plus side, I’m nearly done with the paper grading, which means I’ve only got three or four other big projects due in the next couple of weeks.

The truly sad part about that is that I’ve already received two of the standard ‘the class is ending and my grade stinks, please save me’ emails. I really don’t know what to do about those. I mean, sure I’ll do what I can to help out, but if you look at their grades and see that it is mathematically impossible for them to pass, or get the grade they need to please the parents, or get into grad school, or stay on the team or whatever, there’s really not much I can do. I always email back and try to give them a fair explanation of their chances to get ‘the grade,’ but I assume they can do the math just as easily as I can. What they’re really asking for is some kind of extra credit, or a curve or some other kind of ‘help.’ Yeesh.

Friday, May 27, 2005


I'm still tying to get the hang of getting pictures online without letting the world know who I am, so I built a nice little sort of anonymous Hello/Picassa account. We'll see how well that works. I'm not particularly happy about the way it automatically puts them in individual posts, but maybe there's a way around that.

Anyway, I was on lunch (dinner?) break and thought I would put up some of my butterfly photos. I took these a couple of weekends ago, when I had the free time to do that sort of thing. Enjoy and think summer-y thoughts!

Great Moments in Eavesdropping

Before I forget...

On the running trail, I'm approaching a couple from their back. They're holding hands. As I pass, the hand-holding breaks, and all I hear of the conversation was the woman say, "Well, I didn't think she was going to do that!"

At the cafe...

"So I'm there, and it's just me and her, and there's all these hot straight guys everywhere!"

The Possible Dangers of Clothing

5k - 27:08!

Yea me! The really nice thing is that I felt that I was running a bit slower than last time, so hopefully that means my body has finally come to terms with starting running again. I also had a mini drop in the poundage. I know it's only water weight from the sweat, but it always makes me happy.

The carpeting was installed yesterday, so I can move all the crap back into my room, but I'm not sure I want to. It has been so long since I had a nice clean organized room, I'm not sure I want to loose it. Then again, I can't find my underwear. I guess it's a toss-up.

Speaking of underwear, I had a visitor that found the site by searching Technorati for 'panties.' I know, all the other blogs get more entertaining hits (I was going to link to Profgrrrrls, but can't find the post), but I just happened upon a great article about the dangers that this type of clothing can present, so I just thought I'd share.

Ya know, if you feel lightheaded, maybe it's time to flip the off switch?

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Why I Run

I wasn’t a runner. I never wanted to be a runner. It’s really weird, I know. I got started running years ago when I was forced to by angry loud men and women in Smokey the Bear hats. I really didn’t like it, but I didn’t have any say in the matter, so I learned to cope.

The problem was that I ended up being pretty good at it. I ended up keeping track of my run times and trying to run farther and faster because I liked looking at the numbers change in my little notebook, and hey, I’ll admit it, it’s an ego/testosterone boost to go out and run faster than other folks. Pathetic, I know. I even got to the point that I did the Honolulu Marathon once. It really hurt, but now I can say I ran a marathon. That’s cool, right?

Later, I kept running to try to keep my weight low enough so that small objects would stop orbiting me. I didn’t think much about it. I was just trying to be a little healthier, and it was the easier choice, because lord knows I’m not giving up nachos.

The reason I give myself for running now is that it actually helps me think. Two or three times a week, I go out for about a half hour, and try to think something through. There is something that brings clarity when I run. There’s no computer. None of my neglected books or papers sit at the edge of my vision like they do in my office.

On Wednesday, I was trying to think through a new approach to a paper I need to write. Sometimes I talk to myself out loud to try out the way a phrase sounds. Maybe it’s the blood rushing all over, but sometimes I think a little more clearly when I’m trying to block out the pain in my legs. And thankfully, the runners I meet on the trail seem to be perfectly ok with guys running around chatting to themselves.

But one even nicer thing about a good run is when I don’t have any baggage at all. I can just think about the basic world as it is. Wind on my sweat. Mechanics of my stride – push the legs out a little farther and see if my breath can keep up. Weaving of the trail through the tall grass. Trail opening up into the big field. Squirrel staring at me like I’m crazy. Cliffs. Ditches. Shade. Sun.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

The Lights Are On, But...

One last thing before I collapse for the night (my room has been entirely cleaned out for the carpeteers tomorrow).

Today I ate like a pig to balance out for the fact that yesterday, I was T.S.T.E! (That’s “To Stupid To Eat.” Thanks much to Dr. H. for expanding my vocabulary.) I actually made it to bed last night before realizing that I was really really hungry. I thought for a bit, and then it dawned on me that I had only eaten a tiny brunch-ish thing about fourteen hours previous. So, should I get up and rumble around the kitchen and build something to eat and then immediately go to sleep and let it sit like a lump in my gut? Nope. Although I have to admit that I don't know if that was out of considerations that it might be unhealthy or out of flat out laziness. In any case, I went to sleep hungry. Before you think, ‘oh, how sad,’ remember that it was my own dumb fault for being T.S.T.E.

Does the Edge-to-Edge Café deliver?

Summer Lovin', Had Me a Blast...

Part of the dilemma that was solved in my meeting today was what to do with my summer. My original plan was to not be here. There was research and such that needed to be done elsewhere, and, more importantly perhaps, there was money for it. In any case, that all fell through, so I’m here for the summer

Here is not a bad place to be, and I am going to be taking a summer session photography course, so that’s cool beyond cool. I made the switch to digital awhile ago, but this class gets back into the fundamentals of film and developing, which I’ve always wanted to know.

Thesis-wise, we decided that I’m going to just power through as much of the technical parts of what I need to do. I don’t need that much supervision for this, just some check-up type stuff, and he said he’d be more than happy to help out, so that’s all good. The upshot is that if all this works out, I’ll be in a great position in the fall to get into the analysis and heavy-duty writing.


Pardon Me While I Gush For a Bit

Working with the right people makes all the difference in the world. One of my advisors once told me that when picking a university, follow a person, not the name of the school. Turn down an ivy if you can find a prof at Podunk U. who understands your subject.

I’ve got a good one.

He’s very good at what he does, and his technical knowledge is eerie at times. I just got out of a meeting with him discussing the technical aspects of my thesis, which is still in its infancy. Every time I meet with him, I come out of it with the feeling not only that what I’m doing is important, but that I’m good at doing it. How amazingly rewarding to have someone you respect let you know that.

I’m sure that I’ll crash in a couple hours back into the despair of slogging through all this, but for now I’m energized and ready to write. Pity I’ve got to go home and take everything out of my room so they can put in carpet tomorrow. Wouldn't it be nice if I could put this enthusiasm in a little bottle and save it for when I actually have time to sit down and write?

Fast Food

Overheard at the fast food stop:

Counter Guy: Do you want any ketchup with your fries?

Distracted Woman With Children Crawling All Over Her: Oh, no. I mean, that doesn’t come with fries, right? I don’t think that comes with fries.

CG: Yes, it comes with the fries. It’s free.

DWWCCAOH: Oh, ok. Great. Sure.

Reminds me of another blog that is really funny, but never updated (hint, hint :) )

Campus Poetess

Campus is a wonderful thing. I was running a bit late today, so I rushed in and I didn’t have time to listen to the poetess who was reading her(?) verse through a bullhorn in front of the bookstore. I really wish I had. I only caught a few phrases. She had a skeptical looking dozen or so milling about at a respectful distance, but I imagine that most people, like myself, at least slowed down a little bit as they rushed on to whatever meeting or class they had. Perhaps a bullhorn is not the best choice for clarity. Maybe that was an artistic choice. In any case, it sounded heartfelt and playful. The world would be well-served by more heartfelt and playful poets reading their verses with bullhorns. Well, maybe bullhorns are being replaced with blogs.

The world would also be well-served if more people wore hats. Real hats, not that baseball cap nonsense.

New Season Record!

5k -27:11

Ok, well the title makes it sound a little more dramatic than it actually is. I think I was inspired by finding out what my times were last fall. Anyway, I kept a close look at my pace throughout the run, and I ended up with 5:25,5:19,5:28,5:15, and 5:39 (the hilliest bits) for 1k splits. I feel a little pooped, but very happy. Now I need to run off to campus. hehe run! I'm so funny!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Running watch

Everyone who runs outside often needs one of these. I've had one version or another for many years now, and it's just so geeky it's cool. I've got the heart-monitor and pedometer, and I download my runs onto the laptop. I make little graphs and charts and...

yes, I'm a geek. Learn to cope.

Grading Through Molasses

I feel like I just can’t get through this pile of papers. I’m about halfway through, but it’s just killing me. Each paper seems to prove that I was wrong when I thought the last one was as dull as it could get. I keep feeling like I should say that the papers aren’t all awful, exactly... In fact, they are getting higher grades than is the norm for papers I grade. Maybe it’s just the topic, which isn’t much to my liking. Maybe it’s that the students all got spooked because of the plagiarism cases last time and so they’re turning in their own, less ‘inspired’ work this time around. Maybe it’s just spring.

The prof just told me that the final is going to be another paper instead of an exam. Joy. I’m sure the students are giddy too. Well, I’m going to set them aside for a bit and work on some of my own work for an hour or three. Maybe I can get into a groove on that. Surely there’s a groove somewhere I can get into.

Fun game – tell your friends to say ‘molasses’ out loud really slowly. Oh, I’m hilarious. Actually I should credit my family. They did that to me and laughed for hours as I tried to find out what was so funny. Hmmm… I really should have stopped trusting them a long time ago

I ain't a fashion plate, but...

If you folks are going to wear your underwear up on your waist and your pants on your hips, at least make sure you wear nice underwear. Grannie panties are not the prefered choice here.

And while I'm at it, can we get a pass on the Ugg boots, please? They really are just ugly. They make you look like a miniskirted Eskimo. When your legs are toothpicky to begin with, giant furry boots aren't going to help matters.

UPDATE: Appearantly the best way to boost hits is to have the word 'panties' appear in your blog.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Monday Run

5k - 28:43

I'm trying to go running three times a week - Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. There's a really wonderful trail right outside my door that's about 5 kilometers long, so that's what I run. It's another reason that I'm really sad to have to leave this condo.

I stopped running during the winter, and just started up again a couple of weeks ago. I felt really pretty good after today's run. I've been hovering around the upper 28 minute mark for the past few runs, and I was pretty happy about that until I took a look at my run times for the same track from last October. I was running the exact same trail in a little over 23 minutes. Well, poop. I guess I've got a target now, eh?

No classes today, just papers and papers and papers to be graded.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Boxing Day

Well, job #3 is done for today, and in fact I won't get any more of these jobs until the fall, which is sad, because I enjoy it and it gives me a little extra cash. Oh well.

The true drama is that my landlords are recarpeting the entire condo. What this means is that I need to get my life into boxes again and make my world mobile. This would be only an inconvenience for a week or so if I were organized, but since I'm never home, I haven't really kept up on the whole day-to-day cleaning and organizing. So, I'm going home early, but only so I can throw everything randomly into boxes. ick.

This is all just preparation for the bigger ick. They're selling the condo. That means I get to move again. I've been there for about two years now and it's the best place with the best landlords I've ever had, and of course I'm only realizing this because I'm looking at new places.

Ah, well, if all goes well, the thesis and all its attached attachments will be done by this winter, and then I'll probably be moving on again. I can withstand a lot if I only have to do it for six or seven months. I hope.

Sidenote: I believe that in all these years, I haven't added 'ick' to my word processor dictionary.

Willkommen Bienvenue, welcome!

Ok, it's just never a good idea for me to have a TV anywhere near my bed. Last night when I got home, I turned on the tube to catch what the perfectly plastic people thought made the news that day. That's never the problem. It's after I get sick of hearing about the news that ain't news (Shiavo, Micheal Jackson, Gay Teletubbies, Paris Hilton...), I usually click around a bit.

I'm a geek, so I linger on the E3 coverage a little bit. PS3 looks like it ought to do well. Looks like the Xbox 360 got off on a really bad start. Nintendo had some odd things out there, but they’ll be ok - there are always people who want cute. I've never been able to get behind any of the platforms. I've never even owned one, but it's fun to watch them fight it out.

What's truly dangerous is that, in a past life, I was also an actor. I did musical theatre too. And, on HBO, for some reason, they were showing Cabaret.

Damn them all.

Is it wrong for someone who is nominally an adult to be singing showtunes along with the TV at one in the morning when he hadn't been drinking? Maybe that's my problem. I just need to drink more. Then my behavior would be more socially acceptable. In any case, it’s a great flick, and very, very sing-a-longable. I tried to do a little work while I watched, but when the songs would vamp up, I had no choice but to break out. I hope my housemates were asleep.

Anyway, after that was over, I finally went to sleep with visions of Sally Bowles in my head (not a good way to try to sleep). When I woke up, I again made the mistake of flipping around a bit before heading job #3. NFL Europe. Oh, jeeze. I haven't seen a football game since the bowl games, and I really needed a shot of it. This stuff was hilarious. It was Berlin vs Hamburg, and there were more fumbles in the ten minutes that I watched than I can remember in a full NFL game last season. Ah... good times... Still, nice to see the armored meatheads smash into each other.

The upshot of all of this is that Television sapped yet more time out of my life. Well, it was more my own laziness, but I'm going to blame it on TV. I've thought about trying to go without, but my brother made the leap to the land of no television, and then he gave up caffeine and sugar. He started eating healthier is generally a better person for it. I would hate for that to happen to me.

Ok off to the job for real!