Vito Prosciutto: Teaching community college math on the road to a PhD.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Things to read (bad prioritization edition 

  1. Don Quixote Miguel De Cervantes
  2. Pilgrim's Progress John Bunyan
  3. Robinson Crusoe Daniel Defoe
  4. Gulliver's Travels Jonathan Swift
  5. Tom Jones Henry Fielding
  6. Clarissa Samuel Richardson
  7. Tristram Shandy Laurence Sterne
  8. Dangerous Liaisons Pierre Choderlos De Laclos
  9. Emma Jane Austen
  10. Frankenstein Mary Shelley
  11. Nightmare Abbey Thomas Love Peacock
  12. The Black Sheep Honore De Balzac
  13. The Charterhouse of Parma Stendhal
  14. The Count of Monte Cristo Alexandre Dumas
  15. Sybil Benjamin Disraeli
  16. David Copperfield Charles Dickens
  17. Wuthering Heights Emily Brontë
  18. Jane Eyre Charlotte Brontë
  19. Vanity Fair William Makepeace Thackeray
  20. The Scarlet Letter Nathaniel Hawthorne
  21. Moby-Dick Herman Melville
  22. Madame Bovary Gustave Flaubert
  23. The Woman in White Wilkie Collins
  24. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland Lewis Carroll
  25. Little Women Louisa M. Alcott
  26. The Way We Live Now Anthony Trollope
  27. Anna Karenina Leo Tolstoy
  28. Daniel Deronda George Eliot
  29. The Brothers Karamazov Fyodor Dostoevsky
  30. The Portrait of a Lady Henry James
  31. Huckleberry Finn Mark Twain
  32. Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde Robert Louis Stevenson
  33. Three Men in a Boat Jerome K. Jerome
  34. The Picture of Dorian Gray Oscar Wilde
  35. The Diary of a Nobody George Grossmith
  36. Jude the Obscure Thomas Hardy
  37. The Riddle of the Sands Erskine Childers
  38. The Call of the Wild Jack London
  39. Nostromo Joseph Conrad
  40. The Wind in the Willows Kenneth Grahame
  41. In Search of Lost Time Marcel Proust (read first three volumes)
  42. The Rainbow D. H. Lawrence
  43. The Good Soldier Ford Madox Ford
  44. The Thirty-Nine Steps John Buchan
  45. Ulysses James Joyce
  46. Mrs Dalloway Virginia Woolf
  47. A Passage to India E. M. Forster
  48. The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald
  49. The Trial Franz Kafka
  50. Men Without Women Ernest Hemingway
  51. Journey to the End of the Night Louis-Ferdinand Celine
  52. As I Lay Dying William Faulkner
  53. Brave New World Aldous Huxley
  54. Scoop Evelyn Waugh
  55. USA John Dos Passos
  56. The Big Sleep Raymond Chandler
  57. The Pursuit Of Love Nancy Mitford
  58. The Plague Albert Camus
  59. Nineteen Eighty-Four George Orwell
  60. Malone Dies Samuel Beckett
  61. Catcher in the Rye J.D. Salinger
  62. Wise Blood Flannery O'Connor
  63. Charlotte's Web E. B. White
  64. The Lord Of The Rings J. R. R. Tolkien
  65. Lucky Jim Kingsley Amis
  66. Lord of the Flies William Golding
  67. The Quiet American Graham Greene
  68. On the Road Jack Kerouac
  69. Lolita Vladimir Nabokov
  70. The Tin Drum Gunter Grass
  71. Things Fall Apart Chinua Achebe
  72. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie Muriel Spark
  73. To Kill A Mockingbird Harper Lee
  74. Catch-22 Joseph Heller
  75. Herzog Saul Bellow
  76. One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  77. Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont Elizabeth Taylor
  78. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy John Le Carre
  79. Song of Solomon Toni Morrison
  80. The Bottle Factory Outing Beryl Bainbridge
  81. The Executioner's Song Norman Mailer
  82. If on a Winter's Night a Traveller Italo Calvino
  83. A Bend in the River V. S. Naipaul
  84. Waiting for the Barbarians J.M. Coetzee
  85. Housekeeping Marilynne Robinson
  86. Lanark Alasdair Gray
  87. The New York Trilogy Paul Auster
  88. The BFG Roald Dahl
  89. The Periodic Table Primo Levi
  90. Money Martin Amis
  91. An Artist of the Floating World Kazuo Ishiguro
  92. Oscar And Lucinda Peter Carey
  93. The Book of Laughter and Forgetting Milan Kundera
  94. Haroun and the Sea af Stories Salman Rushdie
  95. LA Confidential James Ellroy
  96. Wise Children Angela Carter
  97. Atonement Ian McEwan
  98. Northern Lights Philip Pullman
  99. American Pastoral Philip Roth
  100. Austerlitz W. G. Sebald
Note: I'll be updating this post as I read books on the list.

Things to do (bad prioritization edition) 

Hmm, here's what I've come up with on the reading list front: Here is a good summary of some of the 20th century top 100 lists and their strengths/weaknesses.

I'm thinking that I should go with the observer's list as it's a more catholic selection than the others. This replaces the current tri-fold reading to-dos. I'm also adding see the IMDB top 250 to the list. This latter is a bit of a moving target, so I'll need to check the list periodically to see how I'm doing. Netflix is helping a bit on this front.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Dumb things 

My wife bought liquid dishwasher soap. I don't know why. I've always only ever used powder. But I've broken myself of that habit so I know to put the liquid in the dishwasher. Except tonight, I put the soap for washing dishes in the sink in the dishwasher. You know what happens when you do this?

Chi-squared question: Need stats wizards 

Is chi-squared the right approach to this problem or is something else? We want to see if conditions A and B are correlated. We set up a table of data something like this:
Where w, x, y, z are the number of observations for each case. Is chi-squared the right tool to use here? What should my null hypothesis be? Suppose my claim is that there is no correlation? Then I would want expected values of w+x 0 0 y+z, which won't work with the chi-squared formula. Any help here? I'm not really an applied math guy.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Things to do 

I have a file on my computer entitled things to do. It's actually two parts: Things to do and Things I've Done. I apparently hadn't updated it in a while since one of the things on the "things to do" list, I had done: Get married. Here's what's left (in no particular order, numbers mostly for reference):
  1. Read the top 100 American novels
  2. Read the top 100 British novels
  3. Read the top 100 European novels
  4. Read the OT in Hebrew
  5. Read Don Quijote in Spanish
  6. Attend a baseball playoff game (preferably the Cubs)
  7. Throw out the first pitch at a major league baseball game
  8. Publish a short story
  9. Publish a novel
  10. Publish a non-fiction book
  11. Have a piece of choral music that I’ve written performed by a noteworthy ensemble
  12. Have a piece of chamber music that I’ve written performed by a noteworthy ensemble
  13. Have a piece of orchestral music that I’ve written performed by a noteworthy ensemble
  14. Visit Africa
  15. Visit Asia
  16. Visit Australia
  17. Visit South America
  18. Visit Antarctica
  19. Meet a world leader
  20. Get a doctorate
  21. Bike around Lake Michigan
  22. Have a student attend the [insert alma mater here]
  23. Raise intelligent, creative children.
  24. Have a piece of music that I’ve written appear on a commercially released CD.
  25. Run a book store/literacy center
  26. Learn to sculpt
  27. Learn to play saxophone
Now that I'm teaching community college, #22 is unlikely and I should probably remove it from the list. Alma mater was a snooty private college which was undergrad only and there weren't a lot (if any) community college transfer students there. On the other hand, it is still possible, so maybe I'll leave it there for now. #24 might happen soon (kind of). An offshoot of my old band is putting together a CD and one song that might be included is one that I co-wrote. They're thinking about including it on the CD. I had put in the "commercially released" part of the requirement so that it wouldn't count for self-released stuff from my own bands, but as this is self-released by a band that I'm not a part of, I'm thinking that it could count. But what can I accomplish this year? I suppose Don Quijote is a possibility. Or perhaps one of the publish series. Doing some composition work might bring me closer to the performance tasks as well... I can't seem to find the top 100 American/British/European novels lists anymore. Can anyone help on this? For the record, here's the Things I've Done list:
  1. Get married
  2. Read the Bible in its entirety
  3. Had an original composition performed at a church service
  4. Played in a rock band
  5. Sung in a rock band
  6. Played on a commercially released CD
  7. Hit a baseball
  8. Played a grand piano
  9. Played (music) in Soldier Field
  10. Attended a football playoff game
  11. Published a magazine
  12. Been paid for magazine articles
  13. Learned to set type by hand
  14. Operated a letterpress
  15. Taught a computer class in Germany
  16. Profiled in the Chicago Tribune
  17. Quoted by Wired and the Wall Street Journal
  18. Graduated college
  19. Finished a Marathon
  20. Biked from [City A] to [City B, 50+ miles away]
  21. Attended presidential inauguration
  22. Lived in a Catholic Worker House
  23. Play bass, guitar, piano, flute, tuba

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

How does this happen? 

How on earth do you misspell words like "labor" in Microsoft Word? Doesn't the program underline the word in red, set off sirens and send that little paperclip out to yell at you every time you misspell a word?

Tuesday, April 19, 2005


A couple quick notes:

Monday, April 18, 2005

I'm ready for the semester to end... 

But sadly there's another month of it to go. It took all my effort to head in to teach this afternoon. It didn't help that I'd done no planning or grading. What really annoyed me was the realization that there was a lot of really fun stuff I could have done with what we were doing today (tessellations, non-Euclidean geometry). I'm also realizing that I didn't talk about fractals at all. That's what I get for not planning. This morning was largely procrastination. Granted I'm procrastinating by doing housework, but it's still procrastination. I'm thinking that I have one last unit with this class. I want to make it a bit more interesting. I'm going to look at the project ideas that they have and see about dedicating all or most of a class to one of the project ideas. I think that the Möbius strip class was something that I need to try to emulate somehow with consumer math. I've also started reading Michael Henle's A Combinatorial Introduction to Topology and realizing that I really need a broader acquaintance with mathematics to really teach this class effectively. The second Master's program will start in the fall. I won't have the residency issue this time around so I won't be forced out this time around. If last fall was any indication I'll be doing Algebra (again, I think that a re-do on that would be helpful) and Complex Analysis. Or maybe I should give in, get an applied math MS and get a regular job. Does it show that I've been feeling a bit depressed?

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Still in the adjunct wilderness 

I got a letter today from my current district: I've not been recommended for an interview for the full time position. Yeesh, what do I have to do to get a full time position? I guess I'll have to make a point of pursuing that PhD...

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Does it count as procrastination if I'm doing something else when I procrastinate? 

I've noticed since I've started the FLYlady thing that I tend to use housecleaning as a means of procrastination. The question, of course, now is whether it's still procrastinating if I'm doing something that needs doing while I put off something of greater importance. Yeah, I thought so. No loopholes for me.

Moebius Stripping 

Today's class was one of my best yet. We spent a bit part of the class doing explorations with the Möbius strip. This is really what I wish all of my classes were more of. I'm thinking that for the fall when I'm teaching this math for liberal arts majors class again, I'm going to redesign the whole class one more time to be less book-dependent. I may, in fact, throw out the book entirely as I'm not entirely happy with it. My experiments with using beamer/LaTeX for classroom presentation seem to work out at least partly. The big problem is that planning takes a lot longer. I need to make sure that I have a traditional legal pad plan for each class before I tackle doing the presentation file. I also tried something new today that I think I will employ in all classes at all times: Having the students grade their own homework. Then I can just scan over the homework (to watch for blatant cheating) and enter the numbers into EGP. This should also help give the students more immediate feedback on what they're doing right/wrong.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Search term art 

A bit of song lyric:
Oh, I'm writing a math teacher blog
with Algebra with pizzazz answers
And I'm being a hound dog
Yeah, "algebra with pizzazz" answers

Let's download Durufle requiem
and some Algebra With Pizzazz answers
Thing ain't what they seem
Where are those Algebra answers?

I've got a "history of classroom discipline"
and I'm coming up with some Math - Bell work
My SQ4R lesson plans never win
Because I feel like being a jerk

I'm multiplying polynomials football field
Here at my math teaching blog
And my pizzazzed algebra will yield
Integral 1/x is natural log

And for those poor souls looking for Algebra with Pizzazz answers, if you can't do the algebra AND you can't figure out the riddle, well, what makes you think that you're going to be able to find information on the internet?

Mention the pope just ONCE 

And all of a sudden all of the ads are for Pope stuff. Looks like the ability of American Capitalism to make money off of dead famous people is alive and well.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Necessary AppleScript for Salling Clicker/Acrobat 

Aha, given that the scripting instructions were exactly as clear as mud, it's nice to find a simple pair of scripts which let me do the basics of what I need for Sunday's class: Previous and next page functionality in Acrobat.

It's OK we know... 

As a Catholic, with the apparently imminent decease of the Pope pushing Michael Jackson out of the news vortex, I find occasional reminders of how bizarrely the rest of the world views us:
In past centuries, popes sometimes delegated authority to Vatican officials who were nephews or other relatives.
It's ok, Catholics won't be offended if you say "illegitimate offspring." We know. Hell, the Pope that JC himself picked was a monumental screw-up, so why should his successors be any better?

(And to give a quick run-down on the usual questions asked of a Catholic liberal these days: (1) Terry Schiavo was dead long before they pulled the feeding tube out. (2) There's no requirement to employ life support techniques. (3) Feeding tubes don't really count as life support in the same way as, say a heart-lung machine. (4) Quality of life isn't really a valid consideration in whether life support should be employed. (5) I'm personally opposed to abortion, but I don't think that prohibition is the best way to prevent abortions in our society. (6) Being a priest (or even a cardinal or the pope) isn't the highest calling in the church.)

Friday, April 01, 2005

Netflix reviews: Pennies From Heaven, Episodes 3-4 

Hmm, I think when I originally saw this, I may have missed episode 4. And I'm pretty sure A&E or Bravo or whoever was showing it edited out the nudity as well. Things have picked up in pace, and I'm eager to see the final two episodes at long last.

Interesting day 

So today the electric company decided to turn off the electricity all day (although in their defense, they did give us advance notice). That's OK. I spent most of the day out of the house.

In the morning I had a first (and it turned out last) tutoring session with a precalc student. For whatever reason, he decided not to continue the tutoring. Not sure why. I'm not too disappointed though because he wanted to do 1 hour sessions and I'd be looking at driving half an hour each way to tutor for an hour.

Thence to the T-Mobile store, where I got my new phone. OK, I don't really care for the games (I think, in fact, that I'll see if I can sell the one that came with the phone on E-bay), but it was free and it has Bluetooth.

Bluetooth means that I can use Salling Clicker to control my Mac from the phone. Now, all I need to do is prepare class presentations using beamer and I'll be good to go for being able to lecture from the middle of the classroom (and to hear the students reasonably well.

First day of class went pretty well. My department chair dropped in unannounced about half an hour into class, watched a few minutes then left. I actually found that this improved my teaching as all the teaching practices that I aspire to employ were brought forward in my consciousness and were employed. I don't think my teaching before that point or my teaching afterwards were quite as good as the time that he was in the room. If only this had happened having my mentor teacher in the room when I was student teaching, I would be a much better teacher than I am now, I think.

I'd be a vegetarian if it weren't for that whole not eating meat thing 

"I think that many people have an idea in the back of their minds that something is not quite right about the treatment of animals but so long as they taste good and there are few substitutes why bring the idea to the forefront when it will just make you feel bad?"

Department of whaaaaaa? 

Today in the comics:

Something's going on.

Wow, what a great post 

Over at My Hiding Place, on teacher prep. I don't really think that I have a lot of (if any) teacher prep students in my current sections, but I'm thinking that some of the ideas are good ones to incorporate into my pedagogy anyway. I'm not entirely sure how I'll do this though, but I like the idea of making the students think not only about how to do the work, but how to teach it.

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