February 4th, 2006

krazy koati

Let me tell you 'bout the school cafeteria

Taking up some of the space at the canteen in the morning was a group of people practicing their lion dance. There was lots of percussion, a giant mask being waved around, absolutely no attention given by the people sitting in non-dance rehearsal parts of the canteen. That's the sort of thing that makes me love city life. I don't know why they were rehearsing after the Lunar New Year got started, but it might be something for the Chingay Parade of Dreams, which I think is coming up.

My student evaluations from last term came, and in the tiny class I did superlatively well, as I'd expected. In the larger class -- and this really gets me -- my scores came out below the department average, for the first time ever. I'm stunned and, of course, this could only barely have come at a worse time. However, at least one student must have had irrational expectations, as she or he commented that my digressions explaining the history of subjects, or the biographies of the people who worked out methods, were wastes of class time and should have been left in lecture notes if at all. If I had to explain the scores I'd hypothesize that student gave me all zeroes; take that out and my scores jump comfortably up above all the department means again. Besides, I've got many great comments about my dedication, friendliness, patience, approachability, and teaching skill; and those should count more.

Channel NewsAsia's web site a story headlined ``Singapore youths still downloading illegal MP3's: Survey.'' One can almost hear the author's eyes rolling. A Singapore Polytechnic survey of 800 students turned up that 99 percent had hand phones and communicated mainly by text messaging; only eight in ten had MP3 players. ``5 percent paid for the songs they downloaded from the Internet, while 61 percent did not,'' which seems to reinforce Intuitionist beliefs about the excluded middle.

Trivia: James Lancaster, captain of the (English) East India Company's Red Dragon in 1601, had his crew drink a bit of lemon juice every day, avoiding the scurvy that plagued the other ships bound for the East Indies that year. Why this treatment was overlooked for the next 170 years is unknown. Source: Nathaniel's Nutmeg, Giles Milton.

Currently Reading: The Wreck of the Penn Central: The Real Story Behind the Largest Bankruptcy in American History, Joseph R Daughen, Peter Binzen.