Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Beware of the Snow Plow.

This morning, I got hit by a snow plow.

It was not a very big snow plow -- it was one of those little orange ones they use to clear the sidewalks -- but it hit me nonetheless.

When I left my dorm, I found myself upon a two-inch layer of snow that no step had trodden black. This was fine, but when the snow plow came along, I figured I'd walk along behind it so that I would be walking on something plowed. I was walking rather close to the plow, because it was driving slowly and I was late.

Then all of a sudden, as I was walking behind it, the snowplow went into full-speed reverse! I shrieked and grabbed onto the back of the vehicle and ran backwards to avoid getting driven over, leapt into the snowbank as soon as I could, and ran away through the deep snow in the middle of the quad. The snowplow operator called after me, but I shouted that I was fine and kept running.

I was not very much hurt at all; the back of the snowplow slammed into my knees, but otherwise there was no lasting damage. However, when I took the container of yogurt out of my jacket pocket, I found that it was quite smashed.

Let this be a lesson: NEVER follow a vehicle that doesn't know you're there, even if it doesn't have a "do not follow" sign on the back of it. I was lucky.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Super clever math

First, it snowed. Then it rained and froze again and such, so there was kind of icy snow. Then it snowed about 3". Then I went sledding. The first few runs were great -- really fast, and smooth, and all -- but then the snow got "sledded off" so there was just this icy snow stuff. That was perfectly fine for sledding, so I continued. When I looked at my tray afterwards, though, there are all these deep lines in it from the sharp edges I sledded over. Oops! Last year there was so much snow that this was never an issue.

I made the quiz that the regular math students took today, and I made a worksheet that the advanced math students are doing for homework tonight. I was really proud of that worksheet. If they can exert enough effort and brain power to do it, they will learn something without having to explicitly have it taught to them, just like the Exeter math curriculcum. It goes like this:
(5) 6 people are sharing 9 pizzas. (Don’t worry, they’re mini pizzas.)

(a) If each pizza is cut into four slices and everyone eats the same amount, how many slices does each person eat? (6) (slices/person)
(b) If each pizza costs $5 and everyone pays an equal amount, how much does each person pay? ($7.50) (dollars/person)
(c) If each pizza costs $5 and is cut into 4 slices, how much is it per slice? $1.25 (dollars/slice)
(d) Multiply your answers to (a) and (c). Why is this the same as your answer for (b)? (6 x $1.25 = $7.50)
(e) If you didn’t already, add units to your answers. For example, the units of (a) are slices/person.
(f) Redo (d), this time including the units when you multiply. (6 slices/person x 1.25 dollars/slice = $7.50 dollars/person
The answers to each problem are in the parantheses, but of course the students don't have that on their worksheets. The idea is that if they can get through (d), they will make a synapse connection. If they can do and understand (f), they will figure out dimensional analysis (the thing you use to convert meters/sec to miles/hr) before I teach it to them tomorrow. So tonight I have to figure out exactly what I am going to do in class tomorrow. Sounds like fun!

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

My HTML class

Last night I had the first session of my Free U HTML class. I had 30 people signed up for the course, so I actually had to move it to the computer lab in Jesup, and it was good I did -- 19 people showed up! Over half of these were graduate economics students from the graduate department. (Yes, Williams has a graduate department -- to be a student there, you have to be a practicing economist in a developing country, so needless to say, I had some pretty cool students.) So far as I know, one of my students was actually from Afghanistan, and I think another is Bangladeshi. I wanted to take attendance just so that I could ask them where they were from, but I chickened out...

In the two hours, we actually got a lot done. In other words, I told them absolutely everything I know about HTML, and it only took me two hours. They ended up with kind of funny pages, which were generally bright green, had pictures of stretched-out purple cows, and said things like "This is a cow" and "Williams is a really good place." This was because my example page, which I used to explain each thing that I taught, was bright green, had pictures of stretched-out cows, and said things like that. You can see it here because I actually showed them an example of uploading by uploading my own page. I think I obliterated an early version of my Web page by doing that (it was originally hosted at that address) but oh well, these are the side effects of effective teaching.

Next week I plan to have them work independently writing a real Web page, and for our final meeting they will all hopefully have WSO accounts, so I can teach them how to upload to the Internet and update their pages later. Since most of them are in the graduate econ program, they have real motivations for wanting to learn to make a Web page, so I am confident that they will think of good pages to create. My plan is to walk around and answer questions, and look at their code and find the errors when things come out looking wrong. I was so happy about this last night, because I was actually able to find errors! Things like < img scr =... It kind of makes up for my feelings of extreme ineptitude when I was taking CSCI 134 last spring. Kind of.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

A restful day

Today, I got up at 10:30. That wouldn't seem so surprising, since it's a weekend and I'm a college student, but I also went to bed at 10:00. So I slept for over 12 hours. Wow. And the crazy thing is, I wasn't sleep-deprived; I slept for nine hours the previous few nights. The idea of going to bed at 10:00 on a Saturday night is not to be a social reject; I'm trying to move my bedtime earlier so that I will be able to fall asleep when I go to bed at 9:00. This way, when my alarm goes off at 6:30 in the mornings for school, I will be well-rested and not yawn all day.

Today when I was running, I happened to look up at the sky just when a cloud had turned into a rainbow! It was a most amazing sight, one that I have never seen before: the cloud was multicolored! As the wind blew, it spread out the cloud, so the colors didn't last over 30 seconds. I managed to take a picture of it, and the nice people who wrote back to me on my WSO blog post about it have informed me that what I saw was a sun dog. Neat!

I spent the rest of the day in my room, typing up an explanation of the basics of HTML for the Free University class I am teaching. I managed to give a good introduction to pretty much everything anyone would want to know, and I kept it relatively short (eight pages). When I was finished, I realized I forgot to put in anything about page anchors! Oh no! I doubt anyone will ask... I did put in just about everything I know, and certainly everything I use on a regular basis, though. I think it's good to know HTML, because everyone uses the Internet so regularly that it is nice to know how it all works, from the inside.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Williams in the Snow

This morning, after going on a delightful run in the puffy snow, I decided to photograph it. I took some lovely pictures, which you should look at. You can see the ones that relate more to me here and the Williams-based ones on my Ephblog post.

Yes, run in the snow if you possibly can! It's lovely.