Thursday, October 12, 2017

What is the unluckiest thing that ever happened to you?

I take attendance by having the students answer a question.

What is the unluckiest thing that ever happened to you?

Some people referenced the luckiest thing that ever happened or other earlier attendance questions:
  • bird
  • also existing
  • not existing?
  • I live next to [student X] -- student Y
  • I live next to [student Y] -- student X
  • bird?
Should I be worried about the recurring "bird"s?

Others had medical mishaps:
  • chipped my front teeth when i fell down laughing 
  • a week after getting surgery in preeschool, a kid kicked me in the stomach & I had to have the same surgery again
  • deviated septum during a soccer game
  • appendicitis is the only time my parents ever visited campus
Some cited student-specific concerns:
  • fire alarm night before test
  • having all midterms on same day
  • exponential runtime
  • snapped my oneCard 2 times in 2 days
And then a smorgasbord of miscellaneous bad luck?

  • missed 2 straight connecting  flights
  • :)
  • I got left by my parents in Paris in a train station
  • dropping my laptop
  • dropping my laptop 3 times
  • Hurricane Harvey hit my city on my birthday :(
  • I fell over 5 times in 30 minutes wearing the best boots I've ever worn
  • i once had to wait at a red light

The award for "Sounds Most Like a Cautionary Tale" goes to "brother pushed me in a well".  The "Technically Unlikely but maybe not UnLUCKy" prize goes to "lost twenty coinflips in a row." The tip-of-the-hat for luck-n-privilege awareness goes to "i once had to wait at a red light."

This post is dedicated to students who are perusing the archive in search of something to brighten a day that feels unlucky.

This post's theme word is contretemps (n), "an unforseen and unfortunate occurrence; a disagreement or dispute." Wednesday's child is full of woe; Grumbleday's child is caught in contretemps.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

What is the luckiest thing that ever happened to you?

I take attendance by having students answer a question.

What is the luckiest thing that ever happened to you?

A lot of people are grateful:
  • every day I get to wake up and live a pretty sweet life
  • being here
  • existing
  • ^ that
  • Already written, but existing
  • unoriginal, but existing
  • getting to be here today
  • being born into my circumstances
  • go to Swat
  • My Mom
  • Swat
  • getting lotteried out of ML to take Algo.
Many people briefly summarized what must be a much longer story:
  • meeting the same Spanish traveler twice in one city and finding out he prepared my medicinal bath from the day before.
  • meeting my significant other
  • One time I got a concussion and they thought I had broken my neck and was gonna die but I didn't.
  • Finding a lost friend in Barcelona
  • living with [two other students in the class]
  • Last week I was stranded in Philly and ran into a friend.
  • a star fell on me
Some people kept it brief:
  • e72 pset got cancelled
  • fall break
  • sleep
  • dogs
  • Hi blog!
... yes, that last one is a real thing that an actual student wrote to mark their attendance today. They get the "You Almost Asked for This" Prize.

This post is dedicated to everyone reading it: you exist! Huzzah!

This post's theme word is uberty (n), "abundance; fruitfulness". I went through an uberty of thankfulness while contemplating the tenuous and unlikely events leading to my own existence.

Monday, October 9, 2017

What is the meaning of life? (be concise)

I take attendance by having students answer a prompt. It's usually set up to equally fit serious and silly answers; my strong preference is for students to attend my class (and secondarily be comfortable enough there to be silly).

What is the meaning of life? (be concise)

First of all, thank you to the student who wrote "This is an ill-poised question." for highlighting my deviation from the ends-with-a-question-mark type of prompt for attendance.

Serious students tended towards sentences:
  • improvise. adapt. overcome.
  • Nothing except what we make for ourselves.
  • Sometimes you see a happy dog.
  • Live a fulfilling life
  • Trying to figure it out
Lots of illustrations on this sheet.
  • [three smiley-faces]
  • [drawing of leaf]
  • [leaf emoji, smiley-face-with-double-wink emoji, heart emoji]
... I'm now realizing that last one could be read "live, laugh, love" if you squint through the right emoji-interpreting lens. Is there a word for wordplay when it involves verbalizing emoji? There must be. If you know it, please leave a comment.

Several students tended towards local optima:

  • algorithms
  • attendance
  • Lemmas
  • algorithms
  • runtime
And several more students avoided answering entirely:
  • great question
  • life
  • Absolutely nothing
  • ^life'
  • who knows
  • ?
This wouldn't be a non-empty collection of college students without the mandatory answers of "42" and, apparently, "bird". (Maybe it's just this particular cohort, but I am suspicious some birds have infiltrated my classroom.)

A collection of miscellaneous other answers:
  • laundry
  • the reference
  • Radical Freedom!
  • to uncover
  • to cause chaos and have fun
  • connection
  • ramen
  • music and love
  • continuing next life
Today's "literally correct, figuratively messing with the questioner" Award goes to the student who said that life is "a breakfast cereal."

This post is dedicated to every student out there who would have left this question blank or marked "I don't know" to receive 25% of the credit.

This post's theme word is sententious (adj), "full of pithy expressions; full of pompous moralizing." The sententious prompt received high- and low-brow responses.

Friday, October 6, 2017

If you had to organize a parade, the theme would be:

I take attendance by having students answer a question.

If you had to organize a parade, the theme would be:

  • trans pride
  • colors
  • running
  • birds
  • women in STEM!
  • [name of another student in the class]
  • birds
  • gumby
  • Poros
  • elephants
  • Gudetama
  • all of the above
Some people chose things which already have parades:
  • Thanksgiving 
  • pride
  • parade-themed
  • sports
  • parades
  • mummers
And a lot of students were thinking about food:
  • buttered toast
  • coffee
  • tacos
  • szezhuan [sic] sauce
  • instant noodles
  • gummy animals
  • cookies
  • seafood
  • cuisine
  • sushi
  • elephants
  • sandwiches
  • food

I'd like to see an "existentialism"-themed parade, but... maybe it would take place at night? I don't know enough about existentialism to interpret it through the weird cultural lens of "theme of a parade", but this sounds like the setup to a joke over at Existential Comics.

This post dedicated to the future students who make a useless-blog-themed parade.

This post's theme word is mise en abyme (n), "self-reflection in a literary work, work of art, etc." e.g. a play within a play, a dream within a dream... The hyperlinks on the mise-en-abyme post were infuriatingly both nested and circular.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

What word makes you turn your head because you think it's your name?

I take attendance by having students answer a question.

What word makes you turn your head because you think it's your name?

Publishing the answers that students wrote would go against my general policy of "don't publicly identify people by name without their explicit consent." So instead of writing their actual responses, let me give you a gloss:

  • [student's name, but an alternate spelling]
  • [description of sneezing in another country with different typical accents]
  • [commonly-uttered phrase in a computer lab]
  • [student's name, verbatim]
  • [word that rhymes with student's name]
  • [non-grammatical sentence/series of words that, if spoken quickly enough or muffled, might rhyme with student's name]
  • [list of nine one-syllable names rhyming with student's name] "and eight thousand others"
  • "[student's name] but it's a different [student's name] than me"

I am glad, as always, to have an unusual-but-mostly-pronounceable name. I continue to resolve to name my child "Robert');DROP TABLE Students;--", unless that name becomes too popular among database-saboteur parents.

Today's "I don't think you got it" Award  goes to the student whose attention is grabbed by "Anyone yelling anything and staring at me". You got it, buddy, good job.

This post is dedicated to the diligent and compulsively thorough student readers of the future, who are reading every post here for a reason inscrutable to me. I know you exist. Hello!

This post's theme word is asterismos, "the use of a seemingly unnecessary word or phrase to introduce what you're about to say." Hi-ya! Good morning class, I'm Lila! (<-- be="" delivered="" must="" p="" pronounced="" rhyme="" singsong="" to="">

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

What is your favorite pattern?

I take attendance by having the students answer a question.

What is your favorite pattern?

Visual patterns:
  • checkered
  • paisley
  • checkered
  • geometric
  • stripes
  • plaid
Math patterns:
  • a hexagonal lattice
  • fractals but only when graphed on the TI-84
  • Fibonacci #s
  • fibonaci [sic] sequence 
  • Mandelbrot set
  • compound interest
  • Minkowsky
  • Pascal's Triangle
  • the one that looks like this [scribbled-out drawing] NVM I messed it up but it's like a fractal with a lot of circles
  • set of interesting numbers
Social patterns seemed to be mostly self-referential descriptors:
  • women self-selecting out of CS (not)
  • sleep, eat, soccer (repeat)
  • sleep, eat, sleep, eat, sleep, eat (repeat)
The uncategorizable "randomness" gets a mention, since: is that a pattern? Ditto to "object-oriented" and the student who wrote simply "hate patterns", as if adding a subject to the verb would take too much effort. You hate so much that it suppresses your verbal skills. Apparently.

A tip of my hat to the person clever enough to say "baldness".

I looked up the symbols to transcribe this as faithfully to the handwritten original as possible: "DΔ7E7AΔ7FΔ7".

The Award for Narrative Convenience and Irksomeness goes to the person whose favorite pattern is "deus ex machina".

The Recurringly Attempting to Get Into the Professor's Good Graces Plaque goes to the student whose favorite pattern is "one of good attendance".

This post is dedicated to the student who diligently checked this blog --- although often through a VPN, so that I wouldn't know who was reading --- and then came to my office throughout the semester to ask me why I wasn't updating it.

This post's theme word is antimetabole, "a literary and rhetorical device in which a phrase or sentence is repeated, but in reverse order." The linguistic patterns woven into the antimetabole dazzled and amazed.

Monday, October 2, 2017

What is your quest?

I take attendance by having the students answer a question. This one has occurred previously.

What is your quest?

References first, of course:
  • To seek the holy grail.
  • blue?
  • blue! no, wait...
  • To catch them all
Then things that might be references, but the Stodgy Professor Didn't Get It:
  • To catch the golden shoop
  • neze!
  • :)
Locally-relevant quests:
  • to participate in a really good high five
  • to pass this class with flying colors
This attendance sheet moved a bit slowly throughout the room, so some people responded with hyper-local, context-sensitive quests:
  • To make sure everyone gets this [attendance sheet] before class ends
  • to remember to fill out the attendance sheet
Achievable, a bit self-centered, but what would YOU say if you were put on the spot for a quest?
  • get the platinum trophy
  • straight As
  • have a good shoulder
  • Have a good time
  • 8 hrs of sleep a night
  • To either see the world burn or live on an island with access to League of Legends servers and golden retrievers.
  • graduate
  • Schedule sandwiches to eat by myself
Noble quests that I hope succeed:
  • To eliminate suffering and stigma caused by mental illness.
Not really achievable, because of the limitations of reality:
  • frisbee around the world
  • to make travelling from US to London as fast as 10 min
  • To do literally everything
  • to reach my asymptote
  • to pet every dog
Quests which can only be awarded retrospectively (after death, or possibly after the end of time itself):
  • to eat as much ice cream as possible
  • Live a fulfilling life
  • Make the best cup of coffee ever

Today's Recursive Award of Recursively Awarding Recursive Awards of ... goes to the quest "to find out my next quest". (Look! You achieved it! Now you achieved it again!)

The Noble Quest that I absolutely endorse and support goes to "To eliminate suffering and stigma caused by mental illness."

This post's theme word is reeve (n), "a local official." Upon her deathbed, Cynthia was delighted to hear the reeve pronounce, "You have officially eaten as much ice cream as possible!" whereupon she died of satisfaction, though the coroner later disputed the fact by stating "Sugar overdose."