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Saturday, April 24th, 2004

Time Event
9:55p
We’re on safari to stay

Not much fresh news on the Nicoll Highway collapse. Services were held for Heng Yeow Peow, and a liberal application of foam concrete is being used to make the debris easier to dig out. Estimates are the highway and bridge will be out of service for around nine months.

I knew I shouldn't have agreed to re-grade a few essays; another student came in just before noon today to ask for a re-grading. But I'd already turned in the course grades, which were due at noon. Perhaps defying all logic, there's no standardized form for this of which I'm aware. Even RPI and Saint Rose had Scantron or fill-in-the-blank preprinted forms. Here, I just print out a simplified copy of my grade spreadsheet, sign it, and go to the department office and wander around until someone takes it.

The one complication is the letter grade assignment. Left to myself I'd just make 90 and A, 80 a B, et cetera; but the school frets about letter grade distributions getting too far away from the bell curve, and so offers guidelines to the fraction of grades that should be A- or higher, the fraction that should be between C+ and B+, and so on. So I spend more time than I want -- that's any time -- figuring out where the deciles of my students are. Last year for this course grades were extremely tightly packed together. I believe the B range was something absurd like 88.3 through 88.9. Nothing that absurd this year, happily, but I haven't finished my other course's grades yet.

I saw an odd Popeye cartoon today -- not, mind, natasha_nelson's movie about Bruce Lee, James Bond, Dracula, Clint Eastwood, and Popeye -- but a plain old Famous studios cartoon. Popeye and Olive venture to Cartoon Jungle Africa and encounter Bluto Weissmuller, and Popeye and Bluto compete in feats of strength in which adorable animals participate (e.g., cute elephants line up to be hoisted by them). They start fighting, Bluto calls on the animals to stomp Popeye while he kidnaps Olive, you know where this is going. The bizarre thing is Popeye doesn't talk. He may have had a line at the start -- I was wrapped in a thick layer of LaTeX writing a project outline so wasn't paying full attention -- but nothing after a minute into the cartoon, when I noticed something was odd. Bluto barely talks too; his one line that wasn't calling animals or growling or such was a Senator Claghorn impersonation, whether by Jackson Beck or another I don't know.

The title I don't know; I can't find a good list of Famous Studios Popeye cartoons with plot summaries. The art style -- and the fact it was funny -- suggest it had to be done during World War II, probably when Jack Mercer was in the Army. I can't think any other reason for a Popeye cartoon without his dialogue in it.

Trivia: For the 71st space shuttle flight, STS-69, each of the five crewmen adopted a dog-based nickname. Source: Space Shuttle: The History of the National Space Transportation System: The First 100 Missions, Dennis R Jenkins.

Currently Reading: The Second World War, John Keegan. I've almost figured out how to play Hearts of Iron, too.

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