Old News

Archived news items from May 2001
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Monday, 28 May 2001 [23:39 CDT]

Today I slept late, and then went to Buck's Bikes to check out bicycles. As a means to getting in better shape, I've been kicking around the idea of getting one. Now, I've got some idea about what bikes are like these days. Buck's is having a tent sale this weekend, so I guess it'd be good to decide something in time for that.

Afterward, I headed up to the school. I installed SSH on my server and got it working, so now I can log in to it remotely and not have to worry so much about security.

I also figured out how to print from my server to a laser printer in the teacher cubicles next door, sort of. I didn't actually configure anything on my machine, but I did determine that the printer has an embedded FTP server so I can just upload files and they get printed. That's pretty cool.

The tutoring schedule for Jesse will still remain the same over the summer since he's home-schooled and thus not bound by a traditional calendar. Plus, since he's trying to catch up in math, taking the summer off wouldn't serve him very well. So I spent the evening up there, as usual. They were going to lend me Dave to watch (we'd been talking about how the people who are able to get elected are not the same ones you want leading a nation), but I forgot to take it with me. So I guess I'll get it next week.

I did install Half-Life yesterday, and I've been playing quite a bit of that. For the next three days I'll be attending a Java class for computer science teachers all day, so I won't be able to sleep late. In fact, I probably should already be in bed, since I'll have to allot extra time in the morning to get to Round Rock High School and find the room where it's being taught.

Sunday, 27 May 2001 [15:17 CDT]

Well, I spent the day up at school on Friday finishing out my gradebook, so I should be able to do final check-out on Monday (or Tuesday, rather, since Monday's a holiday). Also had good pizza for lunch at Saccone's with current and former LHS tech people.

Graduation Saturday morning was typical. I counted 76 former students that graduated, which means about 15% of the whole class I had taught in some class over the last three years. Afterward, as everyone was talking outside the Erwin Center, a front blew in and it started raining. I just enjoyed standing out in the rain, but most people were weak and ran for cover. So things wound down there much earlier than usual.

Most of the rest of my spare moments on Friday and Saturday were spent rehearsing for the concert Saturday night. It went really well. I played for two hours straight, with only about a five minute intermission about halfway. I played new stuff and older stuff and ended with some praise and worship. I was afraid my voice would give out since I'd been singing so much all day, but it held up and I can even still sing this morning. I ended up getting home around 4:30 and getting about five hours of sleep before going to the late service at church (which was excellent, by the way).

Today after church we had a goodbye picnic for David and Sherry Tolbert, leaders in our church who're moving to North Carolina to start a church. Today was their last Sunday. So there were some teary goodbyes.

My plan for the rest of the afternoon is to install one of the video games I bought last summer but don't ever have free time to play, and then blow up virtual stuff until church this evening (Jerry is showing us footage from his medical mission trip to India). Then I'll go to sleep and won't get up until the next morning.

Thursday, 24 May 2001 [22:31 CDT]

School is now officially over! To think that I'm about to spend ten weeks or so getting paid for sitting around the house. I got the curve figured out for the semester exams and all my grades finalized. Most of my check-out is done; the most difficult thing left to do is get together a readable-by-others printout of my grades this year. I'll go back tomorrow and hopefully get all the other loose ends tied up so I'll be officially free the rest of the summer (and thus all the time I'll spent up there will be voluntary rather than compulsory).

I got home early today, too, and drove down to Borders Books to finally trade out that extra Java Foundation Classes in a Nutshell book that was mistakenly shipped. I then spent the rest of the afternoon playing guitar to get my chops back up for Project Graduation.

Oh, and I got email from another person named Graham Mitchell. There are just a lot of us out there, I guess. I'm too lazy to link to the other Graham Mitchell's that have been mentioned on this page before.

Wednesday, 23 May 2001 [21:48 CDT]

Looks like I had forgotten to put the timestamp at the top of yesterday's update. Sorry about that.

Today was just a half-day at school and was the last of testing for me. So I got all the tests graded and in the computer and was able to head out for the day by about 2pm. I drove down to Austin to pick up a copy of my driving record to finish my deferred adjudication from back in February. Brought it back to the courthouse in Cedar Park, and now my case is officially dismissed.

While down in Austin I stopped off briefly at Mars Music to pick up a nice metal kazoo, in case I need one for any concerts in the next week or so. :-O

I got home around 4:30 and then turned immediately around and left to help friends move from an apartment to their new house up in Leander. There wasn't too much heavy stuff to move, and we got fed nice Subway sandwiches. Of course I just got home, but since tomorrow all I have to do is party with first period, I think a little less sleep is okay. I'll figure out what the curve needs to be on the semester exams tomorrow afternoon, and then I'll pretty much be done for the year except for a few miscellanous check-out tasks. ("And there was much rejoicing.")

Tuesday, 22 May 2001 [19:13 CDT]

I've got an hour or so downtime for a change, so let's catch up on the exciting life I lead. (Ha!) Last Thursday I spent several hours after school talking to a student who needed to talk. It was good, but staying so late meant I didn't get a chance to go home before rehearsal, and so didn't get home until after 10pm.

Friday I rushed off after school was out to make a rehearsal for the Baccalaurate service. We got things planned and songs selected and such, and then I rushed away from there to get home by 6:00, just in time to rendezvous with my family (my brother and my parents) who were in town for the weekend.

Once in the apartment, they loaded me up with early birthday gifts (much to my surprise, since my birthday isn't for another six weeks). My mom brought me hardback copies of all the books in the Otherland series by Tad Williams and a whole box of miscellaneous sci-fi books she'd snagged from the library book sale. My brother brought me Just For Fun: The Story of an Accidental Revolutionary, which is the autobiography of linux creator Linus Torvalds. He also gave me a set of intermediate difficulty cassettes for teaching yourself Russian, which should be just my speed if I ever need to get familiar with the language again. Paul also gave me a CD-ROM of You Don't Know Jack: Volume 2, an excellent "irreverent quiz show party game". And finally, they brought me my guitar amp, which I'd loaned to Paul. I'm hoping to run my green bullet harmonica microphone through it to get that classic blues harp sound.

So after the showering of gifts, we headed off to Texas Land and Cattle to eat, where my and mother's food was excellent (I had the trout) and dad's and my brother's was merely mediocre. Afterward, though we were pretty full, we ate at the new Amy's Ice Cream location, which just happens to be a block from my place.

Paul spent the night with me, and Mom and Dad got a hotel room about a mile away. Paul and I stayed up a bit playing You Don't Know Jack. I bit him pretty handily the first game, but he probably would have won the second if he hadn't thrown it away in the final round.

Saturday we got to sleep in a bit and then went for a late breakfast at IHOP, where we all ate way too much food. Then we stopped by the high school briefly so I could show them my new classroom, and then we headed down to San Antonio to attend a family reunion. My great-grandmother's sister (Estelle) turned 100 on May 14, so this reunion was all her side of the family (which we're only slightly related to) and was a combined reunion/birthday party for her/birthday party for a one-year old. We sort of slipped in late, stayed a couple of hours, had some cake, and then slipped out early. But it was good to see Estelle and she was mighty pleased that so many people came.

Traffic was easy both directions, and we got back in to Austin around 6:30. We went to eat at Chili's, where the food was cheaper and on the whole better. Afterward we went to Krispy Kreme, which was my parents' first time, though we were all too full to eat more than about one doughnut apiece while they were still fresh. We went back to our respective places, and Paul and I were too bushed to stay up late.

Of course, early next morning I was up for church, and I had Paul drop me off since he didn't have a car of his own. He and my parents came to the earlier service and then left for home.

Of course, my busy weekend wasn't yet over: I went straight off after church up for the Baccalaureate service. We met two hours early to rehearse the music, which we hadn't had a chance to do on Friday. No one was really in charge, so I just took over and ran the practice and led worship. The service went well, especially considering the hodge-podge band (consisting of myself on vocals and guitar, former student and senior Brian Hatch on vocals and guitar, his little brother Corey on drums, my student and senior Mandy Arrick on bass guitar and vocals, my student and senior Rachel Pedersen on vocals, and Chris Branscombe, worship leader at Good Shepherd Lutheran, on piano and vocals) had never played together before and each of the six songs we did was new to at least someone in the group.

After the service, I went home to eat and then back up to school for an hour or so to polish my semester final for Computer Science II.

Once back home, I finally had some time to rest, so I cleaned up the place a bit. Then a serious storm blew in and the power was off and on. So I gave up, turned out all the lights and started reading Spirit of the Disciplines by candlelight for an hour or so, and then went to bed early for the first time in a while.

Monday was as usual, except that it was the last time I'll see many of my seniors. Tutoring went well, and Jesse did much better on his lessons than he had last week. Oh, and the food was excellent. I didn't stay around talking as long as I sometimes do, so I got groceries on the way home and was in by 9:00, where I read by candlelight again (though not out of necessity this time). And got to bed early for the second day in a row.

Today was more final exams and goodbyes. After school I sat in on an interview with another applicant for the computer science teacher position. She seemed to be sharp, and I think they offered her a job, so we'll see what transpires.

Normally on Tuesdays at this time I'd be at the church at vocal rehearsal, but I've taken the week off. I plan to do a concert at 1:00 A.M. at Project Graduation (Saturday night), so I don't want to have to get up very early the next morning. Plus, the less-complicated schedule will be nice during the frantic busy-ness of the final week of school, and the free evenings will allow me to put in some practice time for my Project Graduation concert. I'm about to go up to the church for RenaissaUce, though. So it'll be another late night.

Whew. I think that covers everything big over the last week. Summer vacation is coming.

Monday, 21, May 2001 [21:35 CDT]

Okay, as usual final exams have got me updating infrequently. I don't have time to give a full report here, but suffice it to say that school will be out in three more days. It's funny that the weeks when there's a lot of stuff to mention on the web page, there's also not enough time to do it.

Wednesday, 16 May 2001 [23:31 CDT]

I haven't really gotten home before 10pm yet this week. Monday was tutoring Jesse, which went longer than usual because I just spent a while chatting with the whole family. Yesterday was RenaissaUce (I'm told the 'U' should be capitalized), and we also just hung out talking a lot. Tonight I was getting the semester final hammered out. It took me four or five hours, but it's ready to go for tomorrow. And the Computer Science II final needs to be ready by Monday.

I'll probably be out late tomorrow as well because of band rehearsal, and my family is coming into town for the weekend starting Friday. I guess I'll get caught up on sleep this summer.

Another thing contributing to my late bedtimes has been The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which I finished last night. I got some books from Amazon.com on Monday that I plan to read before continuing in the series: The Spirit of the Disciplines by Dallas Willard, and Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster. I'm looking forward to getting some time to read them and maybe (gasp!) develop some discipline.

Sunday, 13 May 2001 [21:49 CDT]

Today I got the last of the projects graded. This means that other than writing the semester exam sometime this week, I don't have any significant grading to do until the first projects of next year, which'll be in September. That's a good feeling.

I'm about to start reading The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy again and then try to get to bed before midnight.

In listening to Don't Censor Me a lyric stuck out which didn't mean much when the album first came out and I was listening to it but may have influenced why I'm a teacher now. It's from the song A.K.A. Public School:

It's Uncle Sam's soul salvation program
Government-funded, paid in full
Also known as your public school
They pay to put you in the classes
It's your chance to reach the masses

Of course, I can't be very initiating, but I'm certainly available if any of "the masses" have questions for me about anything....

Saturday, 12 May 2001 [19:41 CDT]

I slept late this morning and then went jogging again (that's four days in a row, which may be a record). Then I went up to the school and got started on grading the projects. I've done three out of the five classes, so hopefully I can finish things up tomorrow.

In sad news, Douglas Adams, author of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and other excellent humor/sci-fi novels died yesterday after a heart attack at the age of 49. Read the BBC or Reuters version of the story. Of course, I now have the sudden urge to read all the books over again, but it turns out my copies have walked off, so I went to Half-Price Books and bought them all (including the Dirk Gently books as well). While there, I spotted a copy of Audio Adrenaline's Don't Censor Me, for which I have a bootleg tape copy and a concert T-shirt, so I bought it.

I'm about to leave for Leander High School's prom. It always nice to see the kids all dressed up and on their best behavior, plus there's free admission and free food for teachers. Especially since I already own a tux, so it just costs me a little time and some gas.

Friday, 11 May 2001 [23:24 CDT]

Today was a surprise holiday. It's a bad weather make-up day, but I'd forgotten about it until one of the kids mentioned it during first period yesterday. There's nothing quite like the feeling of having a day off you weren't expecting.

A couple things happened on Tuesday that I neglected to mention. Probably most significant is that my computer science II students took the Advanced Placement test. Since I've been pretty busy with teaching and other stuff, I'd forgotten the date of the exam, so the students didn't even know about it until Monday afternoon. This is not good and is one of the reasons that getting an additional computer science teacher would be a Good Thing.

I was planning on helping the students "cram" for the test that morning during class, when, lo and behold, a guest speaker showed up that I'd scheduled months ago. Of course, I'd forgotten about that, too, and it really couldn't have happened on a worse day. She'd come prepared to speak for an hour or so, but was willing to give a nutshell version of her talk and took only about twenty minutes. She had even brought doughnut holes and cool IBM swag for everyone. I felt badly about it, but the kids really needed that review time. Yet another reason why an additional teacher to reduce my teaching load would be a Good Thing.

Unfortunately, I found out last week that the computer science teacher who we'd interviewed decided not to take the job. So we're back to the drawing board to find someone else.

On a more positive note, Lakeline is looking at possibly moving to a new, larger facility sometime in the next eighteen months, so yesterday the leadership of the church went to check out a potential new location. Much to my delight, it's actually closer to my apartment than the current location, which means I can still walk there and back for some exercise. It looked pretty nice and would certainly give us some much-needed growing room. I think we will be deciding in the next month or so where we'll move, if anywhere.

Speaking of exercise, I've gone jogging three times in the last three days. Wednesday I walked/jogged 2.5 miles, yesterday I went about a mile and a half, and this evening I went to church and back (3 miles). My watch has a countdown timer that will automatically restart, so I've had it going off every minute. Then I'll jog for one minute, walk for a minute and so on. Since I usually start off walking (and end walking, as well), I walk for a little more time than I jog, but since I cover more ground when jogging, a three-mile trip usually consists of two miles of jogging and one mile of walking. Hopefully I'll keep in the habit and can get in some better shape. I'm fully twenty pounds heavier than I was in college, and the extra weight is not muscle.

Besides jogging, I spent some of my holiday at school, where I rolled over my gradebook for the sixth six-weeks. I entered in all the grades for this six-weeks that I have, so I'm now caught up and ready to grade the end-of-year projects, which I may start on tomorrow.

I also dropped by Best Buy, and spurred on by this discussion on slashdot, I bought a 100-pack of CD-Rs, a 5-pack of CD-RWs, and some CD envelopes. I don't use blank CDs that often, but there's no sense passing up a great deal (the 100-pack of 700 MB/80 minute CD-Rs was only $30).

The end of the school year is fast approaching. We've only got two calendar weeks left. My students have discovered TetriNet, and lots of people have been playing both before and after school. In fact, since we're not quite ready to study next-year's material, we've been playing a lot in AcaDec, and we even spent the class period in computer science II on Thursday playing to give them a break from the breakneck pace we've been doing in that class for the last month or so.

Inspired by the link-ful blogs of one of my former students, today's entry is rife with links.

Tuesday, 8 May 2001 [23:05 CDT]

I meant to update yesterday, but I guess I didn't. Oh, well.

Yesterday evening was Senior Awards night, where they recognize all the things they don't have time to mention at graduation. I was there to give my Computer Science award and also just to watch. They announced the top ten, and this year I'd only taught about five of them, which is the fewest I've ever had.

This week I'm lecturing on the fundamentals of the internet and am teaching my students how to make web pages. They were disappointed to hear a long lecture today, but the theory is important to me. Plus, I want them to not say things like "log on to bleen.com!"

The literary magazine is out, and I'm published in it! My poem/puzzle thingy that I showed at Renaissauce a few weeks ago got selected for inclusion. In fact, not wanting to give that away is one of the reasons I was intentionally vague about the nature of the piece previously. I'll put a text version up here soon, though it loses a little when you don't see the physical thing.

Sunday, 6 May 2001 [22:35 CDT]

By the way, despite my prediction last night, I did not run through my harmonica solo and get to bed; I stayed up way too late playing Elastomania. Even after nearly three years I'm still quite addicted to that game. Also, I'd had a largish cup of coffee that morning and I could still feel the effects over twelve hours later. My harmonica solo went really well, though.

Sunday, 6 May 2001 [22:12 CDT]

Today I went grocery shopping and didn't have Bolero stuck in my head. At least at first. I had Linus and Lucy (a.k.a. the Peanuts Theme) stuck in my head until I noticed, after which it was either Bolero or Do Not by John Reuben. It was raining buckets when I left and so I got pretty soaked putting the groceries in my trunk and unloading when I got home.

Tomorrow is my brother's birthday and Senior Awards night. Yesterday was Cinco de Mayo, when Mexico celebrates their victory over French invaders. And today is Sunday.

Saturday, 5 May 2001 [22:26 CDT]

Today was quite productive. I got up early for a Saturday to make the monthly Men's Theology Coffee House at Barnes and Noble. We had a good discussion of the role of the Holy Spirit, with a little side trip to talk some about spiritual gifts, and then picked a new topic out of the hat: the differences between the Old and New Covenants. We spent a lot of time talking about the Sabbath, and I think next time we're going to cover those who speciously argue that homosexuality is now okay under the New Covenant.

This afternoon I got my oil changed, did laundry and really straightened up the place, which had become quite a disaster area. Then after some dinner (or a late lunch) I headed up to the school to play John in The Merry Wives of Windsor. Since my appearances were few and far between, it was mostly just a lot of hanging around backstage trying to remember if a scene with me was coming anytime soon. It was fun to hang out with the cast, though, and I really hammed up my brief moment as a "trophy wife" when Master Slender dragged me back on stage to complain that he'd been duped. There were a few more dropped lines this time than last, but the scenes that went well went really well. As I mentioned last time, there's one more performance tomorrow afternoon at 2pm, and it's worth checking out if you can get there.

I'm going to run through my harmonica solo quickly and then go to bed.

Friday, 4 May 2001 [23:06 CDT]

It's raining! I've got the sliding glass door to the balcony open (but the screen closed, of course) and my cats are enjoying the view. Some kids down the street are running around getting soaked and screaming about it. Rain is good, because it rinses my car. Okay, and maybe for other reasons, too.

Today my students turned in their End-Of-Year Projects, which means we're done with C++ for the year (except for some questions on the semester final). I'll spend the remaining (6!) class days grading the projects and teaching web page design. This will be a welcome change, as HTML is much easier (and more fault-tolerant) than C++ and the kids get to be designers rather than problem-solvers.

Tonight I went to see the Shakespeare Through Performance class present The Merry Wives of Windsor. As is typically the case with me and Shakespeare's works, I knew nothing about the play going in. The play itself is a riot and it was done well. And, as most of my students know that I'll be making a cameo appearance in the play at tomorrow night's performance, where I get to deliver two lines, act dumb and dress like a woman. What more could you want for $3? It's at 7pm in the atrium, if any of my readers in the area want to make it. There's also one more showing on Sunday at 2pm, though I won't be in it then.

And speaking of Shakespeare, Jesse (the kid I tutor) was Prince Hal in a homeschool theater production of Henry IV, part II at Zach Scott theater this week. Unfortunately it was during the day, so I wasn't able to make it and will have to get a report.

I feel like mentioning that in rare form, I woke up early both yesterday and today, and got to school actually ten minutes before I'm required to on both days. This is unusual for me, but it was nice to be able to leisurely get ready in the morning and get to school before the crowd gathers outside my door. May it continue.

Wednesday, 2 May 2001 [22:17 CDT]

We had a power outage at school today, which brought down my server which had had over 150 days of uninterrupted service (the blackout lasted longer than the UPS). Of course, the students were a bit stressed since they don't save as frequently as I do. I'm reminded of the "Jesus saves" joke about Jesus vs. the devil in a computer applications contest. Not theologically accurate by any stretch, but a good pun nonetheless.

Also tonight was the last of the Behind the "Left Behind" Hype classes. We spent most of our time looking at all the scriptures pertaining to the so-called "intermediate state" and trying to make sense of it. The upshot is, we just don't know and there's not enough information there to be sure exactly what things are like. We know how it ends, at least.

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