austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Say now, I know you rider

One of my department accounts at the old school expires today. It actually should have expired the first of the year, but I asked for a bit of an extension, partly because I'm a sentimental old fool who can't give up anything (else why would he still have his grad school account, four years after getting his diploma, except that it's a very convenient and nearly reliable Usenet provider?), but I asked for an extension on the grounds that students might want to contact me about leftover matters from the last term once they saw their grades and had gotten back on campus. That may sound like a weak reason, but they accepted it. But I don't think they'd buy it again, and really, all I'm getting from it now are notices of events I won't be able to attend, such as the tiramisu workshop. I didn't even know tiramisu was that complicated and now I'll never know the details.

But the account turned out to be useful anyway, as three students did ask for further help from me. One was one of my independent-study students, who's still studying perhaps a bit more independently than before as he tries to find someone else to supervise the research he really wants to do, but nobody left in the department really wants to do. Another is still trying to understand a part of finite elements that I didn't really cover because it was just too esoteric for the course. She'd asked about it a few times, mostly in class, and I suppose I managed to defer the too-difficult-to-explain subject to a time when it certainly won't conflict with my teaching objectives. And another just needs programming help and turned to me because my interests were similar enough to the program's objective and I have a rather friendly, accessible reputation.

And I learn from one of my friends (and references) that he was pulled on short notice in to teach one of the remaining courses from my former, disappeared, department. It was a course I'd taught two times before, with excellent student evaluations and performance (based on those who went on to the follow-up course when I had that too), and probably could do again without breaking a sweat. All this news, of course, pays only in self-satisfaction (or if I were a better person good karma for the next life), but it's gratifying to hear.

Trivia: Lockheed's 1969 ``Phase A'' concept study for a space shuttle orbiter proposed an aluminum-frame two-stage design with silica tiles for handling reentry heat, though at the time neither they nor anyone had working examples of thermal protection tiles. Source: The Space Shuttle Decision: NASA's Search for a Reusable Space Vehicle, T A Heppenheimer, NASA SP-4221.

Currently Reading: Inside Star Trek, Herbert F Solow, Robert H Justman.


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