Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Y-zero-K Problem

Following is a story that I saved from the Y2K "problem" 10 years ago. I wish I knew who deserves attribution. Here goes:


While browsing through some dust-covered archival material in the
recesses of the Roman Section of the British Museum, a researcher
recently came across a tattered parchment. After some effort he
translated it and found that it was a letter from a man called Plutonius
with the title of "magister fastorium," or keeper of the calendar, to
one Cassius. It was dated, strangely enough, 1 BC, January 7--or 2010
years ago (remember, there was no year zero). The text of the message

Dear Cassius,

Are you still working on the Y zero K problem? This change from BC to AD is giving us a lot of headaches and we haven't much time left. I don't know how people will cope with working the wrong way around. Having been working happily downwards forever, now we have to start thinking upwards. You would think that someone would have thought of it earlier and not left it to us to sort it all out at this last minute.

I spoke to Caesar the other evening. He was livid that Julius hadn't done something about it when he was sorting out the calendar. He said he could see why Brutus turned nasty.  We called in the consulting astronomers, but they simply said that continuing downwards using minus BC won't work.  As usual, the consultants charged a fortune for doing nothing useful.  As for myself, I just can't see the sand in an hourglass flowing  upwards. We have heard that there are three wise men in the East who have been working on the problem, but unfortunately they won't arrive until it's all over. Some say the world will cease to exist at the moment of transition.

Anyway, we are still continuing to work on this blasted Y zero K problem and I will send you a parchment if anything further develops.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Cream Cheese Crescent Rolls Recipe

One of our wonderful secretaries brought this sinfully fabulous treat on the last day of school. She graciously shared the recipe, and I'm giving it a try right now. Here's the recipe:

2 pkgs crescent rolls
2 8-oz packaged cream cheese, softened
1 egg yolk (save the egg white separately)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
cinnamon and sugar for sprinkled topping

heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease 9X13 baking pan. Spread 1 pkg of crescent rolls flat in the pan. you may have to trim some of the dough.

Mix cream cheese, egg yolk, sugar, and vanilla. (I found out the hard way that starting with softened cream cheese is important). Spread this mixture over the bottom crust.

Layer the other pkg of crescent roll dough over the cream cheese layer.

Beat egg white and spread it over the top crescent roll layer, then sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until lightly brown.

Refrigerate and cut when cool.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Texas Winter Weather Pictures

Just a few pictures I snapped this morning. For you folks in the north, I know these are pretty tame, but in Southeast Texas, this is pretty rare. You can click on the pictures to open a larger image.

Brown roof covered with heavy frost:
frost on the roof on Twitpic

Front-yard frost:
front yard frost on Twitpic

And my favorite, 3D frost crystals that formed on the hood of my daughter's car:
3D frost crystal forest on Twitpic

Also, here's a link to a local news website with viewer-submitted pics of snow(wo)men:
Houston Snow(wo)men Pictures

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Reading more Malcolm Gladwell, "What the Dog Saw"

I was at Barnes and Noble today looking through the newest releases to pick up something to read over the Thanksgiving break. I've read several books recently, including Raymond Khoury's "The Sign" and Dan Brown's "The Lost Symbol." I was thinking about picking up Malcolm Gladwell's first book, "The Tipping Point" after having read "Blink" and "Outliers." To my surprise, I looked across the bookstore and saw a "Malcolm Gladwell" sign on top of a display of Gladwell's books. Not believing this to be a random coincidence (more like a synchronistic event), I made my way over and found out that Gladwell had recently released "What the Dog Saw." I picked it up, and I'm starting to read it today (after twitpic-ing a picture of it, of course).  I'd never heard of Gladwell until NECC09 this past summer. I'm glad I attended.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

My Top 10 Hammacher Schlemmer Gift Covets

I've been looking through the "Last Minute Gift 2009" catalog from Hammacher Schlemmer. So much unnecessary yet gotta have stuff ! ! !  In case you need some ideas on what to get me for Christmas this year, here is my Top 10 List (in no particular order):

1) The Laser-Guided Pool Cue, $129.95
2) The Desktop Stirling Engine, $379.95
3) The Video Screen Microscope, $299.95
4) The Gyroscope Dumbbell, $69.95
5a) The Remote-Controlled Tarantula, $29.95
5b) The Remote-Controlled Black Widow, $29.95
6a) The Telekinetic Obstacle Course, $99.95
6b) The Jedi Mind Control Game, $99.95
7) The Evaporative Cooling Hat, $24.95
8) The Automatic Canine Fetch Machine, $149.95
9) The Pump Action Marshmallow Blaster, $39.95
10) The Ferrari FXX Pedal Car, $3,000.00

OK, more than 10. Build a bridge and get over it.  Happy Shopping ! ! !

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Today I was PDASed

The formal appraisal system for teachers in Texas is called PDAS, the Professional Development and Appraisal System.  The main portion of this appraisal is a 45-minute visit by the appraiser. Today was my day to be PDASed. Even after all the years I've been in the classroom, I still development the teacher version of test anxiety every time.

The students were doing a small-group lab activity today related to elastic forces using a Hooke's Law apparatus.  After a brief discussion, I turned them loose to work in their groups, and I became the "guide on the side" answering questions, providing hints and suggestions, and checking for accuracy and understanding.  My appraiser, an Assistant Principal, sat in with one of the lab groups for the entire period, which I think is a good thing since she was able to talk with the students and see first-hand what they were doing.  When she left, the only comment she made was, "I can't believe how crowded it is in your classroom."  I have 36 student desks in a classroom designed for 24, and being crowded is a way of life for my students.

Now, the waiting begins.  Our appraisal system is housed in an Eduphoria database, so my appraiser has to enter all of her comments and notations into that database.  When she is done, I will get an email so I can go in and read through her comments and see my overall rating.  Our summative evaluation does not occur until the latter part of the spring semester, but this phase constitutes the biggest portion of the overall appraisal, so I'm relieved that I have this part behind me.

Of course, there will be random walk-throughs (affectionately called drive-bys) during the rest of the year, but I have no problem with those since they always catch me teaching.  That's a no-brainer for me since it's, like, my job, but I guess there are more than a few teachers at my school who don't exactly teach every day of the school year.  I came from a private-sector philosophy of, "Do your job or lose your job."  That sentiment doesn't seem to be very pervasive in public education.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

First Post on BlogSpot

I've finally taken the plunge and created a blog that is not associated in any way with my school. It is my hope to share candid thoughts and views here with the hope that I can find like-minded individuals.