Wednesday, February 28, 2007

I'm Just Trying to Figure Out Which Gilmore Girl You Are

The current Veronica Mars story arc has ended, but before I get into that, let me digress for a bit.
Do you remember The Tick? The cartoon, not the live series, no one remembers that. Anyway, my favorite episode, "The Tick vs. Dinosaur Neil," involves a giant pair of pants, and General Liar of the National Guard, and towards the end, the pants get caught on power lines and ignite, prompting the Dr. Strangelove-esque Professor to scream, "Liar! Liar! Pants... on fire!" It is comedic brilliance - an entire episode of setup for a single awful pun. This line is edited out of the syndicated version of the show, which just seems odd, because I consider it the central joke of the episode.
This episode came to mind last night as I was watching the end of VM, because it suddenly occurred to me that much of this season was just setup for a single bad pun. Well, sort of. Some other thoughts:
Until someone mentioned it last week, I hadn't noticed that Mindy O'Dell was always blue-lit and shot from below. Now that I have, it's creepy. What's up with that?
I guess it's not all that far, but Keith sure did get to Cabo fast.
Gosh, do I not want to watch Pussycat Dolls: The Search For the Next Doll.

Also, another fifteen seconds of Wallace, I sure don't care about the Logan/Parker relationship, and... well, I guess nothing else happened in this episode. On to the comments!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Women Love A Man Who Can Cook

...or so I'm told. While I'm waiting for my roasted tomatoes to come out of the oven, and for the kitchen to air out (I dropped an oven mitt on the heating element), I thought I'd share tonight's dinner recipe.
A while back, I tried making spinach by braising it in stock. Unfortunately, I used too much stock, so I threw in some extra vegetables and some cheese and cooked it down to an unattractive, but edible, mess. After eating it, though, I realized that I could have just added more stock. This is what I came up with.

Spinach-Feta Soup
1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 10-ounce bag spinach, rinsed
4 roma tomatoes, small dice
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
one handful small pasta (I break spaghetti noodles into small pieces, but orzo works well too)
sea salt
black pepper
dill weed
1 T. balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup feta cheese

heat the oil over medium heat and cook the shallot until sweet (but not browned), 1-2 minutes. Add the spinach, tomatoes, one cup of the stock, the pasta, and the spices. Increase heat to medium-high. Cook until the spinach is wilted, then add the remaining stock, vinegar, and cheese. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the cheese incorporates and the pasta is soft. Serve with crusty bread and additional olive oil, vinegar, creme fraiche, etc.

Additions, substitutions, suggestions? I don't have a fork-rating system, but what do you think?

Friday, February 23, 2007

Use Your Brains To Help Us! Your Delicious Brains...

Every Thursday night, I head over to a local restaurant to participate in their Trivia Night. I was originally invited along as part of a group, but none of those folks go anymore, so I am often a one-man team (my usual team name is "Yes, Ladies, He's Single." No, the irony is not lost on me). And I'm pretty good, if I do say so myself: I walked into the restaurant last night riding a two-week solo win streak. This week, however, I joined a team that I had met two weeks ago, and tried to carry them to the title. We had a big lead going into the final question, but we didn't know the answer to said question, and had to settle for second. There's no way I would have done that well on my own this week, so there's something to be said for team play.
Anywho, I have a couple of friends who were on quiz bowl teams in college, and my parents are good at trivia stuff, so I always write down the questions I miss and send them out to a couple of folks. Well, now, I give them to you, the blog-reading public! Here are the questions we couldn't answer last night, plus a couple others that we did get and I still thought were good questions. If you know them, maybe you should come to trivia night. No fair looking up the answers. I will post solutions later today.

  1. Other than water, what runs through the mouth of the Amazon River and Lake Victoria?
  2. The cities of Cairo, Egypt and Fez, Morocco are generally accepted as having the oldest of what type of institution in the world? (sorry about the awkward sentence structure, I don't write the questions)
  3. What was the name of the strip club in the movie Striptease? (someone at our table did actually know this one)
  4. On the TV show Girlfriends, the lead character, Joan, has a famous real-life mother. Who is the mother? (We got this one right, too, but it was a total guess)
  5. Which cartoon character has nephews named Morty and Ferdie? (I knew this one, but I still like it)
  6. What South Carolina city is the birthplace of former NBA star Alex English?
  7. What does an onomast study?
  8. Which anniversary is the Ivory Anniversary?
  9. Which designer created the "Kelly" bag?

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Yes, I Would Like Fries

In ten minutes, I am going to be teaching my calculus class. The lecture will start, as it always does, with a three-minute quiz, in which I ask some basic questions about the section we're going to cover today. Half of the class invariably cannot get a single thing right on these quizzes, which only require you to have skimmed the first two pages of the section. This annoys me.
The following thought occurred to me last night, while I was coming up with today's quiz, and grading the previous one: In the statistics class I am taking, the instructor asks us to read the chapter before we begin covering it. Except for the first chapter, I have not done as asked, and so far, it hasn't come back to haunt me. So maybe I should cut my students some slack. But then I had a second thought: If, tomorrow, said instructor were to give us a pop quiz on the stuff we were supposed to have read, that would definitely be the last day I came to class unprepared. I've been giving these quizzes for six weeks now, and every time it appears to be a complete surprise to them.
I get that I'm teaching math, and math is hard, and no one likes to spend a lot of effort on things they're not good at. But when you're a student, that's your job. You, the working public, wouldn't go to a meeting without any idea of the agenda. If your boss asked you for a report, you wouldn't hand him a couple of dog-eared pages on which you've written a series of semi-coherent, unrelated sentences and numbers with no explanation. If you did, you wouldn't be working very long. Maybe that's the point, that the students who feel like they don't need to show up to class, or study outside of class, won't be students very long. I think I've helped a number of them out the door over the last four years.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Say Goodbye, Goodbye Jet City

I started watching One Tree Hill a couple of weeks ago. At first, it was something to do while I was waiting for Top Chef, and then it become something to watch instead of Lost (even though that's actually on afterwards, but now I write lesson plans at 10:00 instead of at 9:00). I was going to stop, because, well, it was weird. I guess all of these people are supposed to be in high school, but they seem to have mid-twenties lifestyles and problems, and everyone appears to live in their own house which is not the same place their parents live, although no one has a job as far as I can tell. And don't get me started on the obsession with sex. Even the Clean Teens have slept around; I guess they're just more discreet about it.
So like I said, I was going to stop watching, but then I noticed that this week's episode was entitled "Prom Night at Hater High," and I've been pimping The Long Winters to my friends for a year and a half now, so I figured I'd give it one more shot. Well, there was no TLW song, but now I'm hooked. This was a glorious trainwreck of adolescents working their way through emotions and situations that almost no high schooler will ever experience. I suddenly realize what people a few years older than I am saw in 90210. Plus, there was a catfight!

A Long Time Ago, We Used To Be Friends

Okay, I do see an opportunity to provide content people want, so, let's talk about last night's episode of Veronica Mars.
We had murder! Suicide! Intrigue! Bloody gloves! Prison tattoos! Logan and Parker! Mac and... uh... that guy! And two consecutive weeks of Wallace!
Beyond all the exclamation points, though, I have issues. Said issues involve local-sherriff-related politics, the foresight of the Coach's killer, and the potential publicity that a wave of mysterious deaths ought to bring. I'll spoil in the comments.

Previously on My So-Called Life...

Blogger archives this stuff, so here, for posterity, is the story of how this page came to be:
There's this site that I visit pretty frequently. One day, one of the posters asked where all of their readers came from. It was a popular post. Then, said poster went and visited everyone's listed homepage. Mine, sadly, linked to my page at the Clemson math department, which is updated by the department, and, at the time, included little more than my name and the fact that I was in the PhD program. I took the publication of this as a challenge, a dare if you will, to provide some content, any content, to the world at large. I chose the name because I had spent the weekend watching "The Critic" on DVD. Also, my first choice (which twelve hours later, I can't remember) was taken.
And now you're caught up.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Your First Lesson: Where To Get a Nice Pretzel

So here I am. Now that everyone but me was named Time's person of the year, I'm joining the blogosphere.
If you're coming here, it's either randomly, or from over at ALOTT5MA. I'm working on the profile; it might give a better indication of who I am, at least when I'm posting here.
Anywho, my first responsibility to you, the viewer, is content. So: What do you want to see? Math stuff? My experiences as a graduate student/teacher? More pop culture? My opinions on global warming, perhaps? I do have something planned for Thursday night (or maybe Friday morning, depending on how much I drink), but until then, let's hear some ideas, folks.