Saturday, December 27, 2008

Stuck in Time

I am stuck in San Francisco time. There is really no reason to exit that time-zone, since the kids are relatively stuck there also, and when they wake up, all they want to do is play the new Wii. Which means that wii can sleep (wii!!!).

One of my problems that I have with work is that I want to work on the things that I like doing. For example, I like coding on the models that I create. This is the fun part of my job. But, really, I have all sorts of other crap that I really should be doing. Like e-mailing students who ask about books and grades and crap. I just don't want to deal with it. I want to code and live in a little bubble where I can enjoy my job. I shouldn't have to deal with it on vacation, right?

Well, I am going to code for a few more minutes while ignoring the rest of the world and the 2800 e-mails in my inbox that I should really be going through and filing and crap. I typically take the week between Christmas and New Years to clean out my inbox. I just have no motivation to do that.

Oh well. Maybe tomorrow.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Book List

This is a book list that I saw on The Professor Chaos Blog. The idea is to bold the items that you have read, italicize the items that you started and leave plain the items that you have never read. Interesting stuff....

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling (I read all of these out loud to my kids.)
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee (high school)
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell (high school)
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman (read the 1st one to Crab-Girl)
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller (high school)
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (high school)
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien (a few times, once to the kids)
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger (high school)
19 The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald (high school)
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams (the first one)
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis (something like the first 5 of them)
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne (kids again - I would have to say that this is probably one of the best kids books out there)
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell (high school)
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown (oh the shame!!!)
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving (best book on the list)
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding(high school)
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley (I should try this again)
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck (high school - sad, so sad)
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce (I'm still confused....)
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte's Web - EB White (to the kids...)
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas (I heard an abridged version of the story, I don't think that this counts, though)
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Here are 10 more "classics" that should be added:

101 Cryptonomicon - Neal Stephenson
102 Snow Crash - Neal Stephenson
103 Altered Carbon - Richard Morgan
104 Neuromancer - William Gibson
105 Sundiver - David Brin
106 The Shining - Stephen King
107 The Foundation Trilogy - Isaac Asimov
108 Stranger in a Strange Land - Robert Heinlein
109 Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep - Philip K Dick
110 Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card

Maybe if you copy this, you could add 10 more. Send me a message if you do copy this. It has sort of inspired me to read some of these. Some of my 10 added is from a top 100 SF list.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Complaint Number One

What did I get on my final exam??????? [Answer - not what you wanted.]

I got [blah] on the first exam, and [blah] on the second exam, and did all the homework and missed [a few] quizzes.

I did [the other assignment] also!!!

I don't know why I got a [lower than expected grade], I was expecting to get [a higher grade than I got].

I answered by stating what they got on all of their tests, assignments and quizzes. Then what the average of that was. Which was a solid grade (i.e., 3 points typically separate grades, and they were 1.4 points into the grade.) I am not sure how to reply to this. Uh, you got this grade. Sorry that you don't like it.

Ok, I just figured out how to make a histogram in excel. I gave 20 A+s, 15 As and 16 A-s. I would have to say that this was an easy class. Too easy.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

More SF Fun!

We are still in San Francisco, and are basically being forced to relax. The crablets go to bed every night at something like 7:30-8:00, and since we are staying in America's Smallest Hotel Room (tm), we have no choice but to sit there quietly and read for the next couple of hours until it is our bed time. Ah Shucks.

Last night I did have a stressful event, though. I logged on to the web page to enter my grades and couldn't figure out how to enter them. I looked around and around and around, but couldn't figure it out. Well, it turns out that one of the admin people in our department has to give me permission to enter my grades, and they sort of forgot. And it turns out that I had forgotten my own dongle thing that gives me the constantly changing password. It is in my winter coat in my closet in my mud room at home. The computer people were nice enough to send me a temporary password that would let me enter my grades, but it expired this morning. So, with no ability to enter grades and an expiring password, I was a little stressed out. I let it go though. No cursing. Aren't you proud of me?

This morning, the admin person gave me permission and the computer people gave me an extension. I entered my grades while at the poster session of AGU. Double checked them (only found 2 mistakes - good thing I checked!) and pushed enter. I think (please!) that I am done with this semester! Yeah!!!

Well, probably not. I would imaging that I will hear some complaints. I hope to God not, but I am not too optimistic. I gave something like 15 A+'s, so I would think that it would be hard as hell to get a C in my class. But, some people did.

I think that I have learned an extremely valueable lesson teaching this class - make a grading policy and stick to it like glue. No non-predefined extra credit. No wiggling on how much crap is worth. Make simple statements that can not be argued. I keep thinking that the students are reasonable people who want to learn and understanding that they have to actually work for their grade. Some are. Some are not. It is amazing how much energy you spend on the ones who are not willing to do work themselves.

Change of subject!

Tomorrow we are off to Muir Woods. That should be fun. The kids and Crab Mama have been having a good time in SF. They have been to the Exploritorium and other museums. They have gone to the Aquarium twice. They have taken a couple boat rides (one out to Alcatrez). We think that Crab Boy may have been very nervous about going to Alcatrez, since we think that no one told him that the jail wasn't actually used anymore. Can you imagine being an 7 year old boy and your mom is taking you to jail on an island. Yikes!

Alright, I have to finish some other work for the kid's school, so I should go now....

Sunday, December 14, 2008

San Fransisco Treat

I am now sitting on a bed in a hotel in San Fransisco. Crab-Mama is reading her blogs in the corner chair, Crab-Girl is reading her book in bed, and Crab-Boy is asleep. We are in a hotel room that it probably quite large by European standards, but we are a long way from Europe. We may be closer to Japan. Well, it's bit by their standards too. Sh*t. The room is freaking small, ok? When someone is sitting at the desk, no one else can move in the room.

One of the great things about sharing a hotel room with people that you love is using the bathroom. Enough of that sh*t. Next subject.

I am attending the American Geophysical Union's Fall Meeting, which has about 14,000 people showing up. There are just a crazy insane number of people here. I feel very small when I am in a sea of people who are all scientists "in my field", and I don't recognize anyone. There are just too many freaking geologists in the world!

Last Friday was a complete cluster f*ck. It was a culmination of all sort of crazy things. For example, I held my final exam "make up" Friday morning. Didn't even think to reserve a room, since classes are over and all the rooms should be empty, right? No. They were holding some sort of a seminar on Friday morning at 9 AM in my room. F*ckers! So, I had to figure out where to hold my exam right there on the spot, with a bunch of student standing around waiting for it to start. Nice. So, I happen to see a sign that says the building supervisor's phone number on it, and call him. Nice Guy. Finds me a room right away. Fantastic! Problem solved. Students all take the test and we get on with the day.

Problem number two. I am getting my office renovated. When would be the best time in the world to get your office renovated? While you are on travel! So, they are starting the renovation tomorrow, which is fantastic. The problem is that I had to have all of my stuff out of my office by the time I left on Friday. Everything. Every Freaking Thing. So, Wednesday, I pitch (well, recycle, which doesn't roll off the tongue like "pitch"...) about 4,000 pounds of paper and pack up a lot of crap. Thursday I do a little bit more. And Friday I have to move my computers and my desk and clean up the pile of crap that I can't decide what to do with. Nice.

Problem number three. I am leaving for AGU the next day and have a poster. That means that I have to print the poster. Which means I have to finish the poster. I had a nice blank spot on the poster for a certain project that I was working on, that I had hoped to make more progress on, but alas, I did not have the time (surprised?) So, I found some results from an e-mail that I sent out while on my trip to Finland (hey, you can read about that in my blog!) and stuck those on my poster. Problem solved! Now, I just had to print the thing.

Printing the poster shouldn't be a problem. You just export the inDesign document to PDF and viola, you have a universally transportable document. Bull Sh*t. Everytime I have tried to print a document from a PDF from inDesign, I get screwed. So, this time, I (a) make a PDF; (b) make an EPS; and (c) take the inDesign document and all of the figures and crap with me. Then, when it doesn't work, I can just whip out a new one. Well, crazy thing - the place that I go to (at the university!) doesn't allow you to print to the poster machine from a Mac any more. F*ckers! Turns out that the PDF file looks fine on the Windows machine, but when we print it, it misses the bottom 1/3 of the poster (preview printing, not full up...) The EPS file is missing all of the fonts, so it subs in some crappy looking crap that craps out. Then, printing directly from inDesign appears to work! Hells yeah! Except it doesn't. 35 minutes later, the poster is still stuck in the queue and they don't know why. I spend the next 30 minutes while the guy behind the counter tries 100% exactly the same things that I tried before (PDF, EPS, inDesign - works! come back in a little while.... come back... hey it didn't print - got stuck in the queue....) F*ckers! I blow a freaking gasket at this point, since I was now late to pick up the kids (read problem four below). I stomp over to a Mac, load up my poster and make a gigantic TIFF file at 300 DPI (104 Megabytes). Even f*cking Windows can't screw up a TIFF file. I should have done this about 4 hours before. Next time, no f*cking around - strait to TIFF. Anyways, the poster printed. I ran on the ice to my car and drove like the wind to pick up the kids.

Ok, let's take a moment to calm down. Breathe. In. Out. In. Out. Stop dropping the F-bomb. You can do it. In. Out.

Ok, I can continue.

Problem number four. Crab-Girl had a play-like thing on Friday evening at the school's curiculum fair. At 5:30. On the night before we leave for 8 days. Well, timing is always key in these adventures. I, like the Dr. Dumbass that I am, agreed to drive all the way across town to pick them up at Grandpa-Eyore's house and take them back to school (Crab-Mama works 5 minutes from Granda's house and 5 minutes from school.) So, in the midst of the poster delema (as revealed above), I tried to call Crab-Mama to ask her pleasantly to please pick the lovely children up and take them to school, since I would be running perhaps a little behind schedule. As later reported, Crab-Mama's cell phone was set to vibrate and she never received my 20 phone calls - the last of which went something like "F****************************!". I call Grampa to ask if he has heard from CM, but he hasn't. So, I drive like a freaking maniac over to his house to pick up said children. But, in the little burb where I hail from, you can't drive like a maniac, because there is really no where to pass people who are driving 5 MPH UNDER the speed limit. F*********************!!!! DRIVE!!! DRIVE!!! COME ON!!!!! HOLY SH*T!! CAN YOU NOT PRESS ON THE LITTLE PEDDLE????? THE ONE TO THE RIGHT!!!!! F******************!!!!!

Breathe. In. Out. In. Out.

We make it with 2 minutes to spare. The "play" starts 10 minutes late.

And that was Friday. Oh, I forgot - we had to pack once we got home.

Saturday we pack up the rest of our stuff and take off to the airport. Now we are in the big city.

One of Crab-Boy's comments was something like "I don't want to stay in one of those big buildings because if an Earthquake comes it could be knocked down." A boy after my own heart.

Ok, I think I am going to go piss my wife off. The 14,000 pound dinner burrito is not really sitting well with the $2 piece of pizza I had for lunch. It sounds like they are having quite an argument. Why couldn't they at least put a freaking fan in the bathroom....

Saturday, December 6, 2008

On a Cold Night in December

Man is it cold outside. Perhaps I am a pansy. Perhaps I am just weak. Perhaps it is really freaking cold. Who knows. I just walked over the the neighbors house to pick up Crab-Boy from his sledding play date. He stayed over there all afternoon and ate dinner over there. We just finished dinner here and all, so I get all bundled up and walk over there. It is probably about a 1/2 mile round trip. Grueling, I tell you. It is also dark. Anyways, I trudge over there, only to find out that they are in the middle of a movie, and can Crab-Boy stay longer. Who am I to deny a little crab some Kung Fu Panda? So I turn around and trudge home. Oh well.

A couple of weeks ago we hosted Thanksgiving. 26 people over. A freshly killed free range organic turkey was the main course, while others brought tons and tons of food. We also made a bunch of pies. Others brought lots of desserts to. I would say that if you didn't count the turkey, we had more desserts than other food. I ate so much food the my stomach hurt all of the following day. It was great to see all of our family members and talk about life. Everyone got along great, and a good time was had by most of the people.

Crab Momma's sister and boyfriend spent the week with us. This was an interesting time. In case you don't know, Crab Momma doesn't really like people. Especially people who are not Crabs (i.e., the 4 of us). And to have non-Crabs spend a week was quite stressful. And there was much arguing. Then, to add a little fuel to the fire, my sister and her husband come up from Miami to spend Thanksgiving with us (therefore they spend the night before and the night of Thanksgiving). My Mom also came over for the same time. So, it was like taking Crab Mamma and putting her in a pressure cooker for a few days. Incredibly, she survived and didn't kill anyone.

The crab-lets are learning to play "Yellow Submarine" on the guitar. Crab-Girl learned how to play the beginning of "Wish You Were Here" today. Guitar lessons are pretty fun for the kids. Their teacher is fantastic. He really knows how to entertain the kids and teach them on the level that is appropriate.

Monday is the last day of class, except for the final exam. I can not express how incredibly happy I am about this. But, with the end of the semester comes the end of class grovelling. Many of the students who are getting crappy grades are now coming to me asking what they can do to not fail the class. I have to say that my class is not hard. It is not hard to get an A in the class. It seems impossible to me to actually fail the class. They have to just do a few things like come to class, do the homework and do a mediocre job on the tests to get a B in the class. Miss a bunch of classes and you might dip down to a C. To get ewer than this, you have to do little homework and royally f*ck up the tests. Anyways, enough bitching about students.

This was a mish-mash post. I am sure that you forgive me.