Tuesday, March 27, 2007

So pretty

Saturn makes my job easy - Rhea and Saturn, from Cassini

Saturday, March 24, 2007


Monday was the first day back from Spring Break. My first class had just started when one of the students walked in. Before Spring Break, and for at least the year I've known him, he had a long blond ponytail. But this day, his hair was much shorter, and it looked great. The class watched his progress as he walked to his usual seat in the front of the class. One girl's jaw dropped. (And if you're reading this, no, I will not tell you who it was.) From my point of view, it looked like one of those slo-mo scenes out of a high school movie. Just awesome.

On Tuesday I handed back the physics exam I was fretting about last week. It had the lowest average of any exam I've ever given, but also had a lot of high scores. An inverse Bell curve. I was still debating what to say to the class when one of my students came to my office asking if he could make an announcement about a new honors society. I handed his exam to him, telling him that he had the only perfect paper. "Really?" he asked. "Yeah." "But this exam was so easy. Maybe I shouldn't announce the honors society to this class." Between his comments and a helpful talk I'd had with Greg, I felt so relieved. Then I went into the classroom and told them they had three more exams to get their acts together.

On Wednesday, a former student (in fact, the one I ran into at a NIN mosh pit) dropped by my office. We had a nice long chat. He's at one of the state universities now and he's a physics & astronomy major! Yay!

Thursday was a 15-hour day. Started at 8:30 am, ended around 11:30 pm. I had to substitute for one of my AST TAs, so I spent the evening at the university. I must say, I enjoyed eating dinner in the student union, watching the NCAA tournament with all the other folks on campus. And I had a chance to talk to my Padawan about his grad school decision - Brown or UCLA. I think UCLA is the better choice, but this Bruin might be a little biased.

My week ended with an email from a former student, because the following reminded him of me. It does suspiciously sound like one of my lectures. :)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

I can't draw

I just had to give in to the meme floating around. First of all, I can't draw by hand, and on the computer, it's just that much worse. But I was curious to see what it would say if I did the drawing I remember always doing as a kid. Here goes:

drawing personality

What does your drawing say about YOU?

Your friends and associates should generally find you a dependable and trustworthy person.
You are a thoughtful and cautious person. You like to think about your method, seeking to pursue your goal in the most effective way.
You like following the rules and being objective. You are precise and meticulous, and like to evaluate decisions before making them.
You have a sunny, cheerful disposition.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

One Question, One Meme

After grading physics exams, a question came to me: do I kill them or myself? Sigh.

A meme, from EssentialSaltes - Spell Your User Name in Songs. I choose Nine Inch Nails songs, of course:

Dead Souls
Underneath It All
Terrible Lie
Help Me, I am in Hell
I Do Not Want This
Kinda I Want To

Despite the tone of the above, I've had mexican food, cocoa and chocolate cake today, so I'm quite chipper.

Friday, March 16, 2007

King and Queen

I've seen two movies this week - two! There are some years when I don't see that many. (I know. I suck. I am out of touch with mainstream culture.) I enjoyed both movies, but in very different ways.

The first movie I saw was 300. The good: the movie looked absolutely gorgeous. I was also impressed with the pacing, considering the movie was all action. The not-so-good: the depiction of the Persians...um...there could have been much better judgment employed there. Also not a very good representation of women in Spartan culture. Am I the only one who wanted to scream "Just say Thermopylae!"? And am I the only person who thinks chocolate instead of king when hearing the name Leonidas?

The second movie I saw was The Queen. Better late than never, that's what I say. This was a great movie, with amazing performances not only by Helen Mirren, but also by Michael Sheen, who played Tony Blair. I am not much interested in celebrity and seldom have sympathy for celebrities, who know the life they choose. But to be born into a life of scrutiny, all duty and no time for self? It is not a life I would choose for myself. I found this movie to be an insightful love-letter to the Queen, while also showing the royal family at its weakest.

Hmm...maybe I should try to make it three movies this week. Hmm...

Wednesday, March 14, 2007



  • Went to the gym.
  • Graded at the coffee house.
  • Did laundry.


Good day!

Monday, March 12, 2007


We had a good weekend in Los Angeles. We spent some time down at the beach with the folks. We attended a friend's 40th birthday bash. We managed to grab some time with Kirsten and Aaron and ran into a bunch of friends experiencing the Pinkberry phenomenon. (Hi, Riz!)

I also indulged in a lot of pub food this weekend.

  • Friday - Irish pub - potato chowder
  • Saturday - British pub - Cornish pasty and chips
  • Sunday - German Tavern - sausage and spaetzle

Tasty fare, all, but if I hadn't eaten chorizo and eggs on Sunday morning, I'd be insane. I mean, really, how many days can I go without spicy food and tortillas? None of you want me to find out.

Now I'm back home, where there is plenty of work to be done over the rest of Spring Break, but I'm aiming for plenty of play, too.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Spring Break!

I was taking a poll of the other faculty to see how many of my 45 students would show up to my Friday 1pm AST class on the Friday before Spring Break. The popular consensus was 15 students. I had guessed 22. The result: 28 students showed up! Love my students!

Now I'm in a coffee house in Santa Monica, about to read a friend's script...hoping to hang out with friends later...enjoying the first day of Spring Break! Woo!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Good Test

I'm giving a physics exam to the pre-meds at the university right now. I allow students to listen to headphones, if they let me hear what they are listening to. I cannot tell you how much Christian crap I've had to listen to as a result. One person has walked out, writing only that their time could be better spent elsewhere. If I took a picture of the class right now, you'd see one chick totally ready to burst into tears. Do I write a good exam or what?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Lemons, Lemonade

Today sucked. Sucked on many levels. Sucked in many ways. Sucked, sucked, sucked. My mood is not pleasant, so I shall endeavor to overcome that by noting the following:

  • New NIN songs are available at http://www.myspace.com/nin.
  • One of my university students came over to the community college for two hours of additional help for the exam this week.
  • Even though I was sorry that Greg didn't feel well enough to go to his martial arts class, it was nice to spend the evening on the couch together.
  • Many good folks have good things happening to them, much deserved!

Alright, I feel a little better.

Monday, March 05, 2007

I adore y'all, but...

...if I request that you start treating your TA with more respect, don't say that my email left you feeling "violated."

...please don't show up to class reeking of marijuana.

...don't blame every mistake you make on how the lab is written as opposed to your poor reading comprehension skills.

Thank you for your attention.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Little Things

It's been a pleasant weekend. There was pizza, cake, cookies, and cocoa. There was time at the gym and time on the couch. Last night at the coffee house, I didn't do work, but instead wrote a few pages of fiction. Today, after a walk to the grocery store in the gorgeous weather, I cooked a tasty and satisfying meal. Yes, I am fairly content right now.

I hope y'all had a nice weekend as well!

Friday, March 02, 2007


After posting a few words in defense of college kids, I was rewarded this morning by a student showing up mindboggling shitfaced drunk to my 9 am class.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

For Aaron, Some Hope

Aaron recently linked to the story about how today's college students are more narcissitic than their predecessors. As a college teacher, I have witnessed this behavior in the classroom: reluctance to do homework, expecting As, gasping in horror when test averages fall below 85%... It isn't that they are bad kids, but many of them are B students who think they're A students and have never been assessed an honest grade in their lives.

As a counterpoint to this article, I'd like to relate a story from my office hours today. A student came in for help on physics homework. He's really good and capable, so he was just fine-tuning his understanding. Once we finished up, he asked me a question about the lab course, which I'm not affiliated with. He said, "Why are the labs so easy?" "Easy?" "Yeah, I mean, we go in, take our data, and plug the numbers into the equations. I just think we should have to do more." This young man plans on going into the Air Force and med school, so he can be an astronaut.

It isn't that there aren't good students, with drive and ambition and work ethic. It's just that the others are, well, narcissistic, and just demand more of our attention.