Thursday, September 28, 2006

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Fall 2006: Dynamic Systems

Again, not an exact match, but can you feel the power? This is one of my favorite professors, and this is my sixth class of sorts from him.

This guy is a fan of the long silence. If he wants you to give some input, he doesn't ask for it. He just stops talking and looks at you and waits for you to say something. It makes it so that I always keep a stash of insightful things to say close at hand. They sometimes turn out to be irrelevant.

Well this class is strange. That's as far as I want to go right now.

"The internet is not ready for prime time."

"You are full music and full of math. Some of us are full of bullshit, but also music and math."

"It is a persistant problem for physicists that doorknobs are not equally distributed throughout the universe."

His Website

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Fall 2006: Intro to Programming in Java

Ok, he doesn't look a lot like Ray Romano, but his voice sounds identical. Every time he says something I expect it to be hilariously frantic, clueless, or pathetic (much like that lovable Raymond), but it never is. This distraction is probably why I am already several assignments behind.
Don't expect big things from a programming class. Five weeks in and I am still trying to draw a red circle. It keeps coming out as a square. And I'm supposed to program my own version of Craps?

"Computers are stupid."

Computers are really stupid"

"Java is crazy."

"The people who designed Java are crazy."

His Website

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Fall 2006: Music from the Inside Out

Professor Cottle likes Shania Twain but don't judge him. And his class may be very impractical, but its helping me graduate. Basically we listen to each other's music collections and then talk about it. Then we do that again. Every day. Also: he told us a story about this composer who sold tickets to his concert at carnegie hall. The fans walked into the auditorium and out the back door where they were loaded onto buses that took them to a power station. The fans walked through the power station for a while and heard the buzzing and pulsing, then bused back to Carnegie Hall, and that was the concert. I mean I could have done that, but then there's the whole Columbus egg thing.

"Danger Music!"

"Would you believe we have a word for that? Vocalese."

"I have a PhD, so I can listen to whatever music I want."

He looks like John Locke from "Lost".

More info on this fine fellow.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Fall 2006: Intro to Syntax

I knew on the first day that this class would be alright, because the professor looks just like Ricky Gervais. I like him well enough, but this class is basically diagramming sentences. Remember doing that? And aren't you glad you did? I bet you would never be where you are today without that crucial skill.

Here are some notable quotes from him so far:

"I am a dataset. You are a dataset."

"English and Japanese are the exact same language, except with different words and different structure."

"A big German man lives in the house at the end of the street."

"Who do you wonder what where went?"

Friday, September 01, 2006

Summer Reading Roundup

As part of an effective summer, I have read several books. Now as part of wasting homework time, I will review them.

1. The Prophet
By Kahlil Gibran

This is a short one and easy to read. Basically this guy tells you everything you need to know about life, the universe, and everything (something which Douglas Adams couldn't manage in more than three volumes) and in a very peotic way. If only Gibran were around today, maybe Almistra would ask The Prophet to speak to us of internet dating. 10/10

2. Leadership and Self-deception
By The Arbinger Institute

How can an institute write a book? Answer: Not very well. Okay, the message was good and I agree with it etc. but it is SO BORING. I couldn't finish it. It reads way too much like a corporate training manual because it's a corporate training manual (which I was supposed to read for my job). Might I reccomend books be written by humans from now on?

3. Messiah
By Gore Vidal

I bought this used at that cool enormous used bookstore they have in Portland. That was last August, and that's when I started it. I had a hard time staying awake for the first 50 pages or so, but to be fair I was in a hot tub for most of that time (that's another amusing story, by the way).
So I was turned off to it for a while until I picked it up again in July and finished a couple of weeks ago, fully one year after starting it. Well maybe I've matured or maybe it just got more interesting, but I loved it. And the last two pages were some of the most chilling I've ever read.

4. Welcome to the Monkey House
By Kurt Vonnegut

With a name like that, how can you go wrong? This is, in the author's opinion, a collection of his worst short stories. I liked most of the ones I read though, especially Harrison Bergeron.

5. I Sing the Body Electric!
By Ray Bradbury

If only this book were as groovy as that Weather Report album. Although I did make an important discovery while reading it: I hate Ray Bradbury. I hate the way he can't just come out and say exactly what the hell is going on in his story. "Peter Horn didn't want to be the father of a small blue pyramid." is the first line of "Tomorrow's Child". OH MY SWEET NOTHINGS, WHAT IS GOING ON? TELL ME RAY, I CAN'T TAKE THE SUSPENSE!! I MUST READ MORE!
That sums up how I did not feel reading any of his short stories. And man, this guy can preach. One story (that the collection is named after) is about a robotic grandmother, who after six months of listening to her grandchildren (humans) and squirting jets of water out of her index finger, suddenly starts spouting out her philosophical take on why she exists. Robotic grandmothers are supposed to bake cookies on command, not bore us with metaphysics.

All in all, a successful summer of reading. Even bad books are still pretty good. Especially on a road trip or when you're stuck out in the desert under a juniper (see previous entry).