Wednesday, December 27, 2006

paradigm shift

I spent a fair bit of time at the office today doing some work on my grade program. In the past, everything had been done with a lot of command-line arguments (number of quizzes given so far, number of class days, etc.), and I had two identical copies with different names, because what name you used to call the program determined how detailed was the information you got back. (Someone got too used to having symbolic links in Unix-like operating systems.) But no more! Now all those parameters live inside the student data file (along with all the student data), and the only command-line argument determines what used to be determined by the name of the program (plain output or fancy output). So hoorah!

Friday, December 22, 2006

game show musings on a Friday

Who doesn't know the Beav when you see him? He could be a guitarist, I suppose. College professor?

I wonder why Penn Jillette needed the money and didn't care about his career anymore. Did Kari What's-her-name divorce him and now he owes her some impressive alimony? I don't understand.

And then 1-vs-100 is a repeat from last week. They're already out of episodes?

Friday, December 15, 2006

game show musings for a Friday

I've always liked the red background behind negative scores on Jeopardy!. I am enough of a traditionalist to have really liked the seven-segment displays, but the red background makes up for it.

Duke got some free publicity on J! as well. I remember driving my parents down Erwin past Lemur Lane and pointing it out.

Poem titles: 30 seconds to get from bird to albatross to "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" should be plenty of time, depending on how fast you can write "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" with one of those weird pens. Especially when Alex tells you that "the" is an "important word" that can't be left out.

1 vs. 100: I wasn't completely sure about the Matthew Miller question, but "A" was my favorite as well, since I knew it wasn't "B" and I was pretty sure "C" was made up. Brad Rutter missed it, so hooray.

The static spark question was interesting; it was a good thing that the contestant help eliminated protons, since neutrons was obviously incorrect. (Someone should tell me whether it's possible to build up protons. Obviously the electrons are what flows, but one person would have to be positive, wouldn't they?)

I don't think they've ever shown the next question before on 1 vs. 100. He got it right, although that was an obscure thing (that Southwest trades as "LUV").

And I didn't miss, again, for a show. I'm not going to make a five-minute videotape to get on the show, though.

Thursday, December 14, 2006


Or, perhaps, the role of faith in life. Not faith in Something Higher Than Oneself, but rather faith in one's self. The idea runs something like this: I "know" that X is true, and (double) checking that X actually is true is boring/painful/etc., so I don't check. (Here X should be taken to be a statement about another person's behavior.) The line here between a healthy self-esteem and arrogance, closed-mindedness, condescension, and all the rest is not clear to me. In fact it's not clear that there even is a line; it could all be arrogance, closed-mindedness, and condescension.

This is a bit of a shame, as I do this all the time. Past performance may not be indicative of future results, but I'm such a creature of routine that I automatically assume the same of everyone else. And just because I've been right 347 of the past 349 times doesn't mean that I'll be right this time.

For example, this can make student interaction troubling and time-consuming, as students often ask questions with "false" suppositions. Technically, when a student with a 35 average asks if they can pass the class if they get an A on everything that's left in the term, the answer is "Yes" (depending on your grading scheme, of course). However, the compulsion is strong to answer "Yes, but if you had the ability or drive to get an A in the rest of the class, you wouldn't have a 35 now." I'm usually not that blunt, but I do make the point that you will need an A on everything else, no margin of error, and do you really know what it takes to get an A on a quiz, let alone the final? (Side story: in my current class, I have 175 homework questions assigned throughout, all officially due at the end of the term. I have several students who don't understand why I'm getting on their case about their poor homework record; they have a whole weekend left to do it all. There's only one who didn't even try to start until this weekend; the rest had at least done a set of 15 or so.) And I know if I asked four different higher-ups the appropriate tone to take, I'd get seven different answers. (Five different ones in person, with a couple of carefully-worded e-mails.)

And of course, the same is true in personal relationships as well. (The post is tagged "whiny narcissism" for a reason, people.) I remember arguing with my therapist back in college about whether it was a good idea to cruise bars looking for women. My points back then (and they're my points now too, 'cause I'm that stubborn) were (1) bars are both boring and sickening (that much cigarette smoke gives me large headaches) and (2) "she likes bars and I don't" is not the greatest basis for a relationship that I've seen. Her point was (3) you've got to do something, dammit. The problem is that I "know" what the results are going to be (with a record like mine, who wouldn't?), and I don't like headaches, so why even go out when you can do interesting Google searches?

I need a crisis of faith.

Current number of Christmas presents purchased


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

I'm a geek, week fourteen

9-7 again this week. Still, above .500=good, right?

1. Chargers (10-2, +2) 15.6
2. Bears (10-2, -1) 14.5
3. Cowboys (8-4, -1) 14.0
4. Ravens (9-3, unc) 12.4
5. Colts (10-2, unc) 10.8
6. Patriots (9-3, unc) 10.0
7. Jaguars (7-5, unc) 8.4
8. Saints (8-4, +3) 6.3
9. Eagles (6-6, -1) 5.4
10. Bengals (7-5, -1) 4.8
11. Chiefs (7-5, -1) 3.2
12. Falcons (6-6, +5) 2.0
13. Vikings (5-7, +3) 1.6
14. Giants (6-6, +1) 1.4
15. Rams (5-7, -2) 0.9
16. Dolphins (5-7, -4) 0.7
17. Broncos (7-5, -3) 0.4
18. Steelers (5-7, +1) -0.4
19. Panthers (6-6, -1) -1.4
20. Seahawks (8-4, unc) -2.7
21. Jets (7-5, unc) -2.7
22. Redskins (4-8, unc) -6.5
23. Cardinals (3-9, +5) -7.1
24. Packers (4-8, -1) -8.0
25. Bills (5-7, -1) -8.3
26. Titans (5-7, +1) -8.3
27. Texans (4-8, +2) -8.5
28. Lions (2-10, -2) -8.7
29. 49ers (5-7, -4) -10.1
30. Raiders (2-10, unc) -11.7
31. Browns (4-8, unc) -12.3
32. Buccaneers (3-9, unc) -15.7

Just one week after complaining about the churn at the bottom, the Bucs seem ready to prove they belong at the bottom, taking a huge "lead" over the Browns. Oh well.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

A Quiet Normal Kind of Week

Very little going on here. Meetings. You know. I spent Friday being very tired, but not actually getting any sleep, so I've been off all weekend.

I've started playing mah jongg against the computer without the English numerals/letters on them, because that's the way the tiles will be at Denmark this summer. I can count dots and sticks just fine, and I think I've gotten the numbers down (1-4 are just that many lines, 5 is all complicated looking, 6 is "running man", 7 is an X, 8 is an upside down V, and 9 is a pi). I can tell red from green from white (not colorblind yet!), and I know East and North (the latter just somehow looks like a N to me), but I still haven't gotten South and West yet.

The carpet is scheduled to arrive on the 14th, so I need to get everything in boxes. Fortunately I still have a big piece of plywood in the apartment, from when the utility crew was out pruning trees and broke my window, so I can "extend" my patio to get all the furniture out there without setting it in the big mudhole outside my house. Hopefully.

I think I've figured out how to get double-paid for working over the holiday week (salary + not having to use my vacation + extra pay--granted I do have to actually work), and my frequent flier miles aren't good this time of year anyway, so it looks like I'll be here at the end of the year.