Monday, February 19, 2018

What is your favorite function?

An open question to my students.

"I'm a big fan of fourth degree polynomials 'cause they can look like us or ws." I don't get it; it seems like not a typo. What's "ws"?

"PBJ function" I am never letting the peanut butter jelly sandwich metaphor go. We talked about them on the first day of class and we'll talk about them on the last day.

In reply to "What was one interesting thing you learned today?", one student wrote, "Lila really, really likes functions" which: yes. If using the professor as part of the narrative helps you learn, then let's absolutely add that technique to our pedagogy. [There's a short story I'm thinking of, that I wanted to link here. I thought it was by Cory Doctorow, but I can't locate it now. The story is in the form of a history lesson, telling how humanity figured out that facts in a narrative are easier to learn and stick in your mind better than a loose collection of facts. The twist at the end is that the entire lecture/story of how the lecturer "discovered" this is, itself, fabricated to take advantage of the technique. Can you source this? I'll credit you with thanks and replace this message with a link.]

This post's theme word is dabster (n), "an expert; a bungler." It can be used both ways! What a mess this is, you're such a dabster; we'll have to call in a dabster to repair it.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

"Write it in your dream journal."

"Write it in your dream journal" is this season's witty riposte. Please help me disseminate it by hurling it --- with disdain, if you can manage it --- in reply to any conversational foray you desire.

For example:

  • Misery poker retort:
    "I have three papers due this week!"
    "Write it in your dream journal."
  • Cut off that annoying conversationalist:
    "I had such a crazy weekend that-"
    "Write it in your dream journal."
  • Conversation ender:
    "Will you help me with this project?"
    "Write it in your dream journal." (accompanied by hair flip and smoothly walking away)

Hello, internet. I often remember my dreams, but the coolness of this is offset by the banality of the dreams themselves. Even to me, they are not that compelling; perhaps I have stringent requirements for characterization, plot, and style --- and my own imagination fails to meet these standards.

I recently had a dream wherein I kept trying to remember what happened in my dream, and almost remembering it, then feeling it slip away. When I woke up, I had this feeling... but then I remembered: that was exactly a dream! So it didn't slip away. I found the bottom of the inception stack, and what was there was, frankly, not that interesting.

I also recently had a dream where I noticed a very vibrantly-colored spider, with rectangular pastel markings that looked a bit like eye spots. It also had a very elaborate web design. (Possibly this dream comes from watching too many nature documentaries.)

... and now: they are written in my dream journal. Of sorts. May my continued public expression of private thoughts please you, my readership.

This post's theme word is: antimeria (n), "a rhetorical device in which an existing word is used as if it were a different part of speech." English is insidious about verbing nouns and nouning verbs, and mushing all together until the meaning must coalesce, as from a dream, out of a certain invoked ambiance.