Friday, January 19, 2007

Friday with Murphy

If tonight were a full moon, today would provide some confirmation bias to support the weird tales of lunar lore.

First off, this morning I forgot to put on mascara. Not the end of the world, but annoying. Last week I threw out the mascara that had been kicking around my desk drawer out of some feeling of ophthalmic safety and a fear of germs.

Then in my 8am class, I plug in my laptop to the SMART Sympodium in room 314. It had worked just fine in class on Wednesday. It had worked flawlessly in room 214 yesterday. This morning? Weird problems. It seemed as if there were some sort of scale factor between where I put the stylus and where the mouse-pointer appeared on the screen. If we imagine a set of coordinate axes with the origin centered on the display, if I touched the stylus at a point (x, y), then the mouse pointer would appear at (axx + bx, ayy + by), where 0 < ax, ay < 1. What this meant was that I could only access features in the center of the screen and that the pointer was not under the stylus. It was as if the display and the senser were operating at different resolutions. Fine. I turned off the laptop and used a marker on the whiteboard. Downstairs in 214 for the 9am class? Same problem! Argh. I tried deleting the .plists, but no luck. Eventually I had to wash the board and then teach with a marker. (The person before me leaves the board unusable.) In my office after class I deleted the entire program and reinstalled it. Since both 214 and 314 are in use until 4:30 this afternoon, I tested everything in the Presentation Practice Room in the library. Everything worked. Perfectly. Who knows how things will work on Monday in class.

In the 8am class I forgot to hand out the worksheet that is due Wednesday. Not a big deal, but I absolutely must must must remember to hand it out on Monday.

I gave a reading quiz. I asked a multiple choice question (four choices) for which the right answer was "Srinivasa Ramanujan." Of the three wrong choices, two of them were other Indian mathematicians and the third was a guy who I went to high school with. Almost everyone who missed the question (of which there were many, many people) chose Sanjay Pardinani, infamous among Niskayuna High School students of the late 1980s for "party at Sanj's house." Back in the day Amina Chaudhri did a great impression of Sanj's mom explaining to the police who came to break up the party that Sanj was a good boy and that he was just having a few friends over and wasn't doing anything wrong.

The radiator in my office is a constant source of frustration. Used to be that it was on even if it was off. Finally maintenance fixed that. Then it made horrific banging noises (I think I blogged them over the phone one day). Today maintenance came to fix the banging noises. Something about the trap, the pipes being the wrong size, not having the right valve, etc. Since three maintenance guys fill up my small office pretty well, I leave while they work. I come back later, and my carpet is soaked, the radiator is on even though it is off, and it's making banging noises.

One of the TAs is informing me that there are several students co-enrolled in College Algebra and Precalc. There is no good reason why these students should be doing this. Add/drop ends in 2 hours, so we will not be able to do anything about this.

With computer glitches, meetings with students, errands around campus, and everything else, I haven't yet had a chance to think about class prep for Monday. So much for devoting my entire weekend to indexing my manuscript, working on the other manuscript, and reviving some dormant research projects.