Monday, January 28, 2008

New Layout

I'm too tired to work tonight, so I've been messing around with my blog layout. I'm not happy with how it looks, but I think it's not terrible and is an ok change from what it was previously. I also added a few java-script gizmos in the right column. I should probably stop experimenting and go to sleep soon.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Sunday Miscellaneous

Last week was insanely busy and also a little bit surreal. I had some very strange meetings, none of which are really bloggable. Wednesday was, predictably, particularly weird. The faculty search that I'm chairing is moving forward. Our last candidate will be on campus the next two days. Classes also march forward: gradient vectors in Calc III, estimating CDFs in statistics, and in chaos class we're actually going to get to chaos. There is also another burst of letters of recommendation to write, both for some students applying to grad school and others who are applying for various fellowships.

Yesterday, I played hockey on Somes Pond. The ice and the weather were almost perfect. There was a large COA crowd and the game was a lot of fun. Unfortunately, but entirely predictably, today I'm feeling very sore and my back is a little messed up.

I expect the upcoming week to be equally insane and busy. After our final candidate's visit the committee seeks feedback on Wednesday, and Wednesday late afternoon/night we'll meet to make our decision. I enjoying being on search committees, but it can be nerve-racking work.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


Yesterday I was at the little gym/exercise room in Northeast Harbor working out on the elliptical trainer. I usually listen to some energetic music (almost always Armin van Buuren) and put something on the TV that I glance at while I listen to Armin. Most of the time this is a baseball or hockey game or something. But no sports were on last night, so I was channel flipping. I was about eight minutes into a thirty-minute workout when I saw that Beauty and the Geek was on.

There is not enough space or time to write about all of the things that are horrifying about this show. But I was curious, since I hadn't seen it before. I had heard a bunch about it however, in part because I know Aaron, one of the "geeks" who was on the show. Unfortunately, it was an episode that Aaron wasn't on. So I went to change the channel. And then I dropped the remote. Oops. The machine I was on was too high off the ground for me to pick up the remote. And if I got off the machine it would reset. So, I was stuck watching Beauty and the Geek for the rest of my workout. It was hard to tell what was happening. At one point it appeared that a bunch of the "beauties" -- all somewhat underdressed -- were debating where Iowa was on a U.S. map.

I survived watching the show and I think I only lost a few IQ points. Then, when driving home I was listening to some commercial pop radio station. Some dude called in and was going on and on about how much he wanted to hear "Ice Ice Baby" by Vanilla Ice. It sounded like the caller was serious. The DJ agreed that the song was amazing. Yikes. (This wasn't a Maine show, btw. It's some nationally syndicated thing.) Transfixed, I was unable to change the station. The song is as terrible now as it was in 1990.

(Update: Aaron was on Average Joe, not Beauty and the Geek.)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Week one almost done

I'm almost done with the first week of classes and I can't believe how busy things have gotten. Today I dealt with 115 emails and taught two classes. I'm tired and a little fried, but nevertheless it's been a fun first week. After the long break it's great to be back working with students and teaching.

Around a week ago there were two feet of snow on the ground, and now it's almost gone. It's been an unusually warm week. Hopefully we'll get a little more rain followed by some cold weather. This might make the rink downtown skatable. Playing hockey would be an ideal form of stress relief.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Almost Ready

Classes start tomorrow and I'm almost ready. I still have some prep to do for my afternoon class, but I think my morning class is all set. I'm pretty psyched for both classes, Calculus III and Introduction to Chaos and Fractals. I've taught them both a bunch of times before, I like the material, and I think I have a good group of students in both classes.

Saturday, instead of preparing for classes or working on some of the many writing projects I'm supposed to be doing, I did a bunch of cooking. I tried out a new recipe: pasta with a celery and leek sauce. Sounds kinda weird, but it was actually quite tasty. And aside from the mild tedium of chopping lots and lots of celery, the recipe is quite easy. I also made a warm spinach salad, which has become a standard of mine. Both were tasty. And, I made some brownies (from a mix, but still quite good), and some vanilla ice cream in our ice cream maker. It was nice to have a home-cooked feast, of sorts, before the term gets too crazy.

In other news, it was warm today: mid 30's. And the next few days it could get into the mid 40's. This means that lots of snow will melt and things will be very slushy. Yesterday, in addition to cooking I dug out Doreen's car, which was under a lot of snow. The car started, but alas, the fan belt has snapped. So it looks like we'll be car pooling tomorrow. But given that COA is supposedly the greenest college in the world, I guess I'm supposed to be car pooling. At least this blog uses recycled electrons.

Time to do a little bit more thinking about my Chaos and Fractals class and then get some sleep. A big day tomorrow: the first day of classes always takes a lot of energy.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Back Home

We're back home in Maine. We arrived on Wednesday the 3rd of January. Our flight from Boston to Bar Harbor was cancelled, but fortunately the subsequent flight wasn't so we arrived with only a few hours' delay. There had been a big storm from, I gather, January 1 until the morning of the third, which dumped around two feet of snow. It took a little while to dig out the car at the airport parking lot. Fortunately I had left a shovel in the car, so it wasn't too difficult a task.

It's been quite cold since then, so the snow is still around. It's quite beautiful and an incredible change from Santiago, where it was sunny and around 90 degrees. Two nights ago the low was -9. Brrr. Now it's a balmy 35 degrees and things are getting just a little bit slushy.

Our winter term begins on Monday, and I'm not really close to being ready. The good news is that I'm teaching Calculus III (multivariable and vector) and Introduction to Chaos and Fractals, both of which I've taught many times before, so I don't really have any new prep to do. Nevertheless, I have quite a bit of work to do just to update old syllabi and plan the first few classes.

I will try to post a few pictures from our Chile trip over the next few days. Right now, though, I should return to work on my classes and/or spend some time trying to free Doreen's car, which is right now covered by an immense pile of snow.