Archived news items from November 2003
Since this is old news, some links may be broken.
newer old news from December 2003
Well, I'm back from East Texas. It was a nice, relaxing visit. I'm still unpacking and trying to get to bed early, but I should mention that I was gone for just a couple hours shy of four days, and I received a lot of email in that time.
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Of those 351 junk mail messages, my spam sorter (SpamAssassin) correctly flagged 335, which is a little over 95% accuracy. Go, SpamAssassin!
Super-short update: I'm leaving in a few minutes for East Texas for Thanksgiving, and I'm caught up on my grading (as usual). Back Saturday, after attending my great-grandmother's 100th birthday party. I'll still be checking my email from time to time.
Oh, and Earthlink's tech support sucks.
With my freshly-inspected car I drove up to East Texas Friday night for my nephew's first birthday party. Though the rest of the party was fairly typical, we did set up the classic photo-op: set a big cake in front of the birthday boy and let him flay into it.
This photo is fairly indicative of the experience:
I should add that when he's not carbo-loading, he's now walking around pretty much at will, and babbling a lot, though he's not saying any actual words with meaning yet. And he's still as cute as they come.
I got to see quite a few relatives, several of whom made the trek for the party, and also see my parents' new house, now fairly furnished. It's HUGE and very nice.
I did about ten hours of driving in less than 36 hours, though, so I'm pretty wiped out now and plan to get to bed real early tonight if I can.
At the party I got to talk to my aunt, and she confirmed that it was her doing the lion's share of the voting for the baby names poll, and not her husband ("uncles named 'Buddy'"), so apologies, Uncle Buddy, for unfairly accusing you.
Also, I got my latest round of school photos in with the short hair, so check out my updated photo on my bio page. I'd had a pretty noticable red spot on my nose (from a scab that had recently come off), but my Dad, ever the digital manipulation wizard, managed to make my nose look like it now does in real life.
Today was an early release day at school, and I got my car inspected. That's the short version.
The long version involves:
Everything but the turn signal bulb replacement happened today between 11:00 and 6:30. And overall I spent $314.54.
I'm about to spend another $25 or so to finally get the car repair manuals for my car that have been on my wish list for so long, so you'll have to buy me something else for Christmas... *cough* 15-inch *cough*.
Tutoring was cancelled this evening, so I made a pizza, and it was good. And I hope to get to bed early for a change.
Inspired by Ed Wood, my tutoring family rented and we watched Plan 9 from Outer Space, widely regarded as the worst motion picture ever made. And it was fairly bad in a campy, enjoyable way. However, those who would call it "the worst" have obviously never seen The Creeping Terror, which is less than one-third the movie that Plan 9 is.
This weekend I replaced a burned-out blinker bulb on my car with only my bare hands! And a screwdriver! And today I was pulled over by a cop on my way home from school to be informed that I had a headlight out. (Which must have *just* happened.)
My folks were in town this weekend, so they took me out to eat a couple of times (Jason's Deli and Texas Land and Cattle). Mom was down for the Texas Book Fair, and she got Joe Bob Briggs' autograph. It was good to see them, if only briefly. And I should get a chance to see them again this weekend, as I'm going up for my nephew's birthday.
The end of last week and the beginning of this one have otherwise been consumed with end-of-six-weeks stuff: generating exams and projects and grading them. I think I'm done now. I've entered in the grades I have, so we'll see if maybe tomorrow I think of something I haven't done.
Oh, and Mom brought me a belated Halloween gift of a CD:
Most of the songs that I know I already have on an album, but there are a little over a half dozen songs on there I'd never heard before, so I'm trying to decide if I like them or not. It has cool liner notes, in any case.
Anyway, I've got to try to finish reading Managing the Social and Emotional Needs of the Gifted: A Teacher's Survival Guide before my mandatory training meeting tomorrow after school, or it may not be pretty.
Actually late Tuesday night....
Today I had a meeting about an articulation agreement with Austin Community College for high school I.T. courses. It was at the A.C.C. Highland Business Center (about twenty-five miles away from the high school) from 9:00 A.M. to noon. However, my CS-1 kids in 5th period were also starting their Six-Weeks projects today, and it's their first project of the year. So I got a sub, but stayed at school for the first fifteen minutes of class so I could at least explain things to them properly. And then took off for the half hour drive down to the meeting.
I ended up being only 40 minutes late or so, and from the looks of it, I didn't miss much. Articulation is a good thing if we can get it going, but there wasn't really much I needed to be at that meeting for. At least it got out about an hour early, so I drove back and stopped by H.E.B. and the Wal-Mart to see if either place had the excellent horseradish mustard that apparently has dropped off the face of the earth.
At Wal-Mart I ran into some friends from church, and they decided to take me out to eat at Taco Cabana, which was a very cool thing. (Thanks, Chris and Valarie!) Even after the long lunch I still got back to school nearly an hour before I had to be, and so even had some "planning" time.
In Computer Science III (the only period I made it to today, other than the beginning of CS-1) the kids are coding a binary search tree (again; they did one last year with more help from me). And I've been working on a Power Point presentation to help explain some of the trickier functions, but it's been several days and it hadn't gotten done yet.
So, not having anything better to do after school, I stayed late (until nearly 9pm, actually) finishing it. I got a good one for "locate" in short order, but the bulk of my time was spent writing "remove", which is maybe the most difficult thing students do in Computer Science II. It's funny to me that I could have written working code for remove in less than fifteen minutes, but it took me over three hours to make a presentation describing it. Which seems to confirm the idea that it's easier to do something yourself than it is to explain to someone else how to do it.
But, now that I've got the presentation done, I can use it in CS-2 and CS-3 for years to come, and that'll save me quite a bit of time in the long haul.
Once I finally got home, I spent another hour or two making a rehearsal track version of Dennis Jernigan's excellent "If I Could Just Sit with You Awhile" for the band to potentially practice to. Or rather, I spent half an hour making the track and an hour and change playing with "fattening" the vocals slightly. After lots and lots of trial-and-error, I've decided the best method is very, very subtle, with a shift of just a couple of samples (which is like a twentieth of a millisecond), and at a reduced volume at that. And even with that slight of a change, for some reason it's causing the vocals to clip occasionally, so I'll need to figure out why that is and see if I can ameliorate it.
And so I'm up too late. Which means I probably won't get to school as early as I'd like tomorrow. But it has been a productive day, which is nice for a Tuesday.
Bleh. I don't like missing updates for so long, because then I feel like I have to make a monster update to catch up.
First big news (which most of you know by now) is that I cut my hair. Short. I donated the 11" ponytail to Locks of Love, and now what's left dries way faster. What can I say but I just got tired of messing with it? I'll put up a new mudshot once I have one.
I've been helping people move: a grueling day a couple of weeks ago involving a pool table, several largish chunks of concrete (with family hand-prints in them) and many other heavy items. And just yesterday a much lighter day with nothing bigger than a non-hide-a-bed sofa. Though I hate moving myself, I don't mind moving other people.
Over the weekend my right front tire developed a leak. I've been carrying around a bicycle pump and manually putting air in it before each car trip, but the stress increased the leak speed (so it'd go from full to almost completely flat in about five miles at the end there), so this afternoon I replaced it with the full-sized spare while the sun was still out. I'll try to take the leaky tire by Discount Tire for a $10 repair hopefully tomorrow afternoon, but they're closed today.
So between moving heavy items, pumping up my tire and then changing the flat, having a shorter (and some would say more manly) haircut, re-reading Wild at Heart, riding my bike some, and successfully push-starting my car several times now, I've been feeling fairly masculine lately. Which is handy, as I am, in fact, a man.
Oh, and it's been about a month, but I did finally mount my speakers back in my classroom, which involved stringing speaker wire through the ceiling and drilling holes in the wall and mounting a shelf I'd made myself. So more TimAllen-esque behavior there, too.
I didn't do anything special for Halloween, but I kind of got my dressing up out of my system with Homecoming Week a few weeks back, where I was over the top with all my costumes, as usual. In fact, I'm pretty sure they've decided to not bother having a "best costume" contest for faculty as long as I'm employed there. Ha! I rule all!
Not to let my masculine side run away with things, I've also been cooking a bit more lately. I've been making pizzas about once a week from scratch (well, the pizza dough comes dry in a bag and all I have to do is add water, so it's not quite from scratch) and even bought some flour this week to try to make a crust on my own. And I regularly make up a batch of dry pinto beans, and my current recipe (involving garlic and cajun seasoning) tastes pretty good.
Some of you know that I now drink beer from time to time, currently at the rate of about three beers per month. (Sometimes as often as one per week!) But I'd like to point out that unlike the swill that most American men call "beer", the brand I'm currently buying most often is quite tasty, if expensive. In fact, mine clocks in at around $2.14 per bottle, which is nearly three times the cost of, say, Shiner Bock on sale, and something like five times that of Miller Lite cans. I'd hasten to add that you get what you pay for. Not to mention that though my four 11.2 oz bottles cost nearly as much as an entire case of some other beers, I'd rather not purchase a quantity that'd take me almost six months to go through.
Probably other things of interest have happened in the last half month, but I can't recall them.
Shortly I'll be leaving to head downtown, because Point of Contact is playing at the Hard Rock Cafe here in Austin. Rock.
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