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

Monday, February 27, 2006

100 things about me in 100 days: #31 

31. In grade school, I would write plays whose primary purpose was to give me (as the male lead) the opportunity to kiss my crush (who would of course have the female lead). None of these literary efforts were ever finished let alone performed. I did have a good mind for special effects that could be accomplished with little budget in a grade school auditorium.

100 things about me in 100 days: #30 

Stealing the idea from B*

30: I always wanted glasses as a small child, I eventually got my wish. I guess I thought they looked cool, or something. And my brothers had them, so I wanted them too.

My vision is 20/50 which is actually good enough to drive without them in this state, but not the state in which I grew up. I also made a practice of cheating on driver's license eye tests so that I could, in a pinch, drive even if I can't find my glasses. I've gone through a few extended periods in my adult life where I've done without glasses (the old pair broke and the thought of spending a couple hundred dollars on new ones was too daunting to consider).

Sunday, February 26, 2006

The challenge 

After hearing that my wife's step-father, before he got married, told his maid/cook that she wasn't allowed to repeat any meals that she cooked for him, I decided to take this as a personal challenge:

There are some limitations on the challenge, largely dictated by civility: For example, I won't impose this on my wife. She could cook me beans and rice for the next year and I'll happily (well at least without complaining. Much) eat it. And likewise for dining at friends' houses. It would be awfully rude to pick at the food and say, "I'm sorry, I had Mahi Mahi on September 3rd, I can't touch it again until March." And the cooking and restaurant lists are separate. So I can have Mole Poblano in a restaurant, then go home and cook it as well, if I so choose (and I very well might so choose).

I tend to order the same thing a lot in restaurants (e.g., at Thai restaurants, it's very rare that I order anything but Green Curry with Chicken), so this should be a year of culinary adventures.

I'll be keeping a log here as a way of tracking what I've been eating/cooking.

100 things about me in 100 days: #29 

29: I once started a riot in gym class. Not a real big one, but it was still kind of fun. I had the entire fifth and sixth grade chanting "Mao Tse-Tung" in unison during (I think) a dodgeball game.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

100 things about me in 100 days: #28 

Oh man, it's getting harder to come up with new things here.

28. I was hard-core into Dungeons and Dragons in Junior High and High School. Big time nerd. I had all the AD&D books, big piles of Dragon Magazine. Actually I still do. But apparently most of this stuff has no re-sale value on ebay. The new rules seem to have left me completely in the dust and after seeing other D&D players while in college, I lost interest. I was a big nerd, but not that big of a nerd.

Friday, February 24, 2006

SBC DSL blocking SMTP access 

If you're like me and you get your e-mail via someone else's mail server than your ISP (after all, I want to be able to say good bye to whoever's providing my connectivity with minimal hassles), then this helps explain why you can't send e-mail from your SBC DSL connection. I think that this might also resolve the problems with the connection at the apple store (some not all) and the wifi at school.

Teaching note 

I spent an awfully long time doing some cool overlay stuff in beamer for today's class. It didn't make the material any clearer. Never again will I waste that much time (I hope).I'll have to watch the homework progress carefully to make sure that the kids got it this semester. Last semester, I didn't use beamer for this lesson and I just winged my way through the class and almost everyone aced the variation material on the test. I'm not sure that I'll see the same results next week.

100 things about me in 100 days: #27 

I'm not going to try to catch up with B* any more since I've also got Vanes coming up behind me. I've got internet at home (barely: I've not yet unpacked the wireless router, so I have to actually plug in and only one person can use the internet at a time right now) so I should be back to daily with this now.

27. I play the bass. I started playing bass in third grade in the elementary school orchestra. That means that this fall will mark the thirtieth (!) anniversary of my being a bass player. Maybe I'll do a concert or something to celebrate. Or not. No one who's not a bass player would likely enjoy a solo bass concert.

Friday random 10 

  1. "Character Sketch", Steve Ball, Piano Sketches
  2. "A Life In Movies", Steve Hackett, Guitar Speak III
  3. "Night Wall (03)", Steve Ball Roadshow, Night Wall
  4. "One Time", King Crimson, Ulster Performing Arts Centre, 14 November 2003
  5. "Wun'erful, wun'erful! (Side uh-one)", Stan Freberg, The Very Best of Stan Freberg
  6. "The Only One You Need", Kevin Gilbert, Point Blank
  7. "Santa Monica", Peter Gabriel
  8. "What Is Life", George Harrison, All Things Must Pass (Disc One)
  9. "Too Much Saturn ( New Version )", Francis Dunnery, The Way Things Are
  10. "Watcher Of The Skies", Genesis, Burp 26 (Disc 1)
Whoa, this is awfully prog-rock oriented this week. And also an awful lot of stuff that's not on easily attained albums. Both sets appear to be equal.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Look, a meme 

Instructions: Bold the ones you've read, italicize the ones you might read, cross out the ones you won't, underline the ones on your book shelf, and place parentheses around the ones you've never even heard of.

Friday, February 17, 2006

An awfully long sentence 

If it took more than one read of
If there is someone on your blogroll who makes your world a better place just because that person exists and who you would not have met (in real life or not) without the internet, then post this same sentence on your blog.
to figure out what it meant, post this on your blog.

100 things about me in 100 days: #26 

But first a couple of shout-outs: First, B*, you haven't posted anything since your visit to the boyfriend. You left off at 36. When I catch up, I'm going to give you a hard time.

Second, Vanes63, welcome to the game. As noted below, blogging hereabouts is a bit sketchy until Tuesday when our DSL gets turned on, but I figured that I'd take advantage of the WiFi in the breakroom at my wife's office (I'm waiting for her to finish while she works late).

So, let's see a new fact: #26. My earliest musical tastes were dictated by two 8-track tapes: Dvorak's New World Symphony and a home-made tape with four halves of Beatle Albums. The latter was made by my brothers with the collaboration of one of their friends (who owned the aforementioned Beatle Albums). They did the old fashioned stack the records in the top part of the turntable and let them fall as each finished and recorded me 90 minutes of Beatles. I'm not entirely sure which albums I had. None were complete, but I think I had the red and blue greatest hits albums and definitely the first half of Sgt Peppers (I never heard the entire second half until I bought the CD. And that happened in 1999!).

I didn't care for any music that wasn't classical or the Beatles until I graduated elementary school and finally gave popular music a try. Fortunately, it was 1982, and while there was dreck like Air Supply, it was also a high point for Top 40, largely courtesy of MTV's playing any video they could get their hands on. I doubt that Devo or even the Talking Heads or anything else out of that late 70s early 80s New York scene would have been as popular without MTV.

The return of Friday Random 10 

  1. "SledgeHammer," Peter Gabriel, So
  2. "Everyman's an Island," Jah Wobble's Invaders of the Heart, Rising Above Bedlam
  3. "Destroy All Monsters," Sum Rana
  4. "I Cannot Believe It's True," Phil Collins, Poplar Creek '85 (Disc 1)
  5. "Baby Won't You Come Home," Jon Randall, Baby Won't You Come Home - Single
  6. "Counting Blue Cars (Unplugged)," Dishwalla, KSCA Live From The Music Hall Vol. 3
  7. "Real Downtown," Vigilantes Of Love, Live At The World Cafe - Vol. 2
  8. "Backlash," Steve Ball, Guitar Sketches
  9. "Bird On The Wire," Ian McCulloch, I'm Your Fan: The Songs Of Leonard Cohen
  10. "I Know What I Like (in Your Wardrobe)," Genesis, Fade 003 - Six of the Best (Disc 1)

Allegedly, we'll have DSL at home on Tuesday. Regular blogging to recommence at that time.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Iconographic representation of "algebra" 

I'm thinking that since my typed homeworks look more or less the same other than a small numeric designation in the corner, that I want to have something striking and visual so that if I'm looking at a stack of homework papers, I can tell which class something is without having to read. I can come up with iconographic representations of topology and complex analysis, but how do I depict abstract algebra? Any suggestions?

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Stealing Becky's idea 

Starting Monday, I'll be meeting with all (twelve) of my students to go over their first test with them. I'm hoping that all goes well with this little plan.

Friday, February 10, 2006

The Law of Below Averages 

This post by Alex Tabarrok is pretty much on the money. I'm always amazed that students who copy on exams manage to pick classmates to copy from who are even worse at math than they are.

And I too have a perfect record of students who ask for incompletes never completing the work.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

A small cat problem 

We're keeping the cats in the large guest bathroom while we unpack and to gradually introduce them into the new apartment (I'm also very concerned about inappropriate urination, which is something that the guys have a history of).

But last night, the cats learned how to open the door. They slipped out twice. The first time, I caught them sneaking into the living room while I was doing some late night homework. Not a problem: I gathered them up, and put them back in. Then, just to be safe, I made sure that the bedroom and office doors were closed and also closed the door that connects the hallway that the bathroom is in with the living room. Half an hour later my wife shows up in the living room. They opened the bathroom door and the bedroom door, and she was awakened by one of the guys walking across her face.

When cats start opening doors, you know that it's only a matter of time before they start hotwiring cars.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

My average zip code 

Invented by Kate, I heard about this from My Mind Is Open. I modified it a bit. I did the weighted average of zip codes, then, because my original answer didn't actually exist as a zip code, I looked for the closest zip code which did, and used that. So for all the places that I've lived, here's the weighted average.

100 things about me in 100 days: #24 & #25 

Uh-oh, I'm in catch-up mode here again (so now, B*, I'm not withdrawing my moral support).

24. Growing up in the seventies, I was naturally drawn to wishing I lived in other eras. In particular, I was a bit enamored with the styles of the 1920s (with a touch of the 1890s thrown in for good measure). I would have been happy to go around driving a Model T while dressed like I was on my way to sing in a barbershop quartet.

25. I would get TV shows mixed up. It took me a while to realize that MASH and Hogan's Heros were different TV shows. Likewise Welcome Back Kotter and Chico and the Man.

Should I drop real analysis? 

Pros: Cons: The drop deadline is tomorrow. Feedback is welcomed.


Can some one stop by the new apartment, get the box with the packing materials that I left there this morning and bring it to the old apartment?

Monday, February 06, 2006

The move that just won't die 

We didn't get the kitchen finished in time for the movers. Nor did I finish it yesterday when I went back. So Mrs Prosciutto is heading over to the old apartment after work and I'll join her after class so we can finish with the packing and the cleaning. Current box count is 202, with a predicted final box count of 210. We have, however, unpacked 8 boxes already.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Packing (and unpacking) 

If you're looking at the site, you'll notice that there's a new progress bar, "boxes unpacked". What's more, it's even got a tiny green sliver. We took a box of dishes to the new apartment last night and unpacked it so the unpacking has already started even though the packing is still under way. 79 boxes so far and counting.

100 things about me in 100 days: #23 

23. My childhood crushes would last for years. I was remarkably faithful for those extended periods (if I had a crush on G, then no other girl held any interest for me). It wasn't until I started junior high that I began to move towards year-long and then shorter crushes.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Getting things done == solving word problems (!) 

Perhaps it's just a coincidence of juxtaposition, but I was struck by how similar the steps offered in getting things done for planning, well, just about anything (what David Allen calls "Natural Planning") matches up remarkably well with the steps for doing word problems offered in my text book (which are themselves a variation and elaboration on Polya's problem solving strategy).

Everything is connected.

Happy Groundhog day 

Angry Professor celebrates by eating Pancakes (mmm, pancakes, ...). But Mrs Prosciutto and me will be celebrating by sleeping on the floor of our new apartment. And doing some cleaning and dealing with a couple carloads of stuff. Although pancakes does sound really good.

My Groundhog pick of the year.

100 things about me in 100 day: #22 

22. Reading a book perceptibly changes my personality, at least temporarily. As a child, reading a book on a subject would make me very enthusiastic about the subject, be it Conestoga Wagons or Ancient Chinese Inventions. I tend to acquire personality ticks from novels that I read (when I read Henderson the Rain King, I was a rather unpleasant person to be around). I hate to imagine what Ulysses is doing to me and I'm thinking that Lolita might be a dangerous choice of reading material.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

100 things about me in 100 days: #21 

21: I invented a perpetual motion machine* I was sufficiently concerned about polution as a kid that I wanted to come up with a solution. So I designed a perpetual motion machine, based on electric motors, but using permanent magnets, so that people would be able to drive without polluting the air. I was going to sell it to GM since Cadillac was the most profitable car division in America at the time and I wanted a piece of those profits in exchange for my invention. I also expected them to make their car bodies using designs from the 1920s because I thought those were the best looking cars ever made.

* Which, of course, would not actually work.

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