November 22, 2010

I love the rain

It's raining and it's in the 60's today. Who's colder right now, Michigan or say Nebraska? or Utah? It's probably from all of the car plants up here, so there's a greater concentration of carbon dioxide which means there's more global warming up here right now. Don't worry though, the rest of you will catch up eventually.

The other day I was supposed to be studying when I had an epiphelant (a giant epiphany), I needed to get out of the house. The only real problem was that I didn't have the car, Pam was at work with said car. So I went and did the next most logical thing, the dishes. There's something somewhat relaxing about doing the dishes. If I were living back in the days of Attila the Hun and they were attacking our village I would be in a huge panic if I was out in my field and saw them coming. However, if I was in my kitchen, or even out in my yard (I don't think they had kitchen then, but you never know with the Chinese) doing the dishes it would be a completely serene and peaceful scene of massacre and mayhem. Right up until the last moment when I would be run-through or decapitated or taken prison only to be drawn and quartered later, it would be one of the most peaceful moments of my life-current life that is, placed momentarily in life back then. I think it was about then that one of the dogs started chewing on my leg and I notices the dish water running over onto the floor. Peace is not always a good thing-even if you're not republican.

The dish washing reminded me of what I've heard some about-mostly from my family-about the new dish washing detergent not having phosphates in it, unless of course you're willing to purchase it at Walmart (Walmart in Finnish means dirty philandering phish-monger). I don't even know where walmart is out here... apparently michigan is all about the smaller businesses functioning and not the larger national/international-chains (ironic how that went with the whole collapse of the car industry and such). I haven't seen a starbucks anywhere here, though it's fabled there is one on the outskirts of town. There's only one, maybe two, walmarts here and I haven't seen even sign for either one. Mcdonalds is a rarity here, etc. etc. etc. For the large companies it's a good thing that michigan isn't more populous. For being fairly conservative they have some liberal tendencies up here.

But the dish soap, that's what I really want to talk about. I'm supposed to be a chemist so I thought I'd look up what all the hullabaloo about phosphates is. It turns out that they're awful mean and nasty. One official report I came across said that phosphates are responsible for 90% of bullying that goes on not only on the playground but also in the workplace and common everyday life. This just shows how one careless slip of some phosphate and your children will be coming home with black eyes as will your spouse. They also have found that phosphates cause lung cancer in various types of fish (trout, blue gill, pike, submarines and even sharks). This should be alarming since fish usually don't have lungs. Forget radioactive slime monsters crawling up from the ooze of one-mile island to decimate and destroy our world. We have bigger things to worry about like fish that can now breath air and come on land, even if they will die soon from lung cancer and likely can't run very fast due to the same. What if they learn how to use guns though? We'd be in a heap of trouble. Farming communities are the most at risk though of being attacked by lung cancer gun toting fish, seeing as they dump the most phosphates into the environment.

Wait. If we just stopped farming and only used disposable dishes we wouldn't have to worry about the phosphates polutimatizing our ground water and turning our gentle, god-fearing fish into psychotic gun toting psycho maniacs. Life's biggest problems often have the easiest solutions.

November 4, 2010

What are they thinking??

This is a 'conversation' I had with a student of mine recently via email:


Hello Jared,

I have a problem with the last hw #6 correction. I do not believe it's fair for getting marked a point off for just putting problem #9 before #8. I understand you didn't like that but you could have just noted it and I will try not doing it again. But taking off a point for just getting the order wrong for one isn't a big thing.
Sometimes the hw posted by the Prof. is given in the wrong order as well.


The point is taken off because it takes me longer to grade the HW when they are not in order. I have a systematic way that I grade and having to sort through the problems makes grading a more difficult task. The HW that is posted is put in the same order in which I grade it (1, 2, 3, …). If you do not want to miss the point, please put your HW in the correct order. You are at least a junior or senior in college and are expected to turn in work that is of the same level. Not putting them in order is disrespectful of my time and is something I would expect from freshman or possibly sophomores. I have found that without drawing student’s attention to the problem of
putting HW in the incorrect order is only effective when points are taken off, otherwise they see it as inconsequential. It has consequences for me and also for you. I am sorry that you missed that point for something so simple. Please be more careful in the future with your work.



Actually I am a graduate student and haven't had to turn in hw every week like this in a very long time. Sorry for taking so much of your time to notice I mistakenly skipped a problem and did it right after. I am not a freshmen and didn't need you to take off a point for me to notice a note you could have left. And yes the first hw postings the prof put up were not always in the right order. For example HW set #3 has a number of problems in the wrong order. I didn't want to make this a big deal. I was just saying you could have pointed it out rather then deducting a point for something so little when the hw takes soo much time to do.

Other than finding this most amusing and quite ironic, I was also appalled that this person is a graduate student. And here I thought it was mostly the undergraduates that were whiny about having to do actual work to get points in a class-forget the fact that as a graduate student the classes you take are usually ones that you need to know the material in because you're going to use it later-if they're not, you have a crappy committee.

C'est la guerre.