Sunday, October 28, 2007

Conan The Librarian would not be pleased

Won a tiebreaker to pull out second place at trivia night this week. I might have won, but for the first question coming out of halftime, which asked the first name of retired U.S. General Schwarzkopf. Norman, it turns out, is his middle name, which I probably should have remembered.

1. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, what book is most often stolen from libraries?
2. How many full-length Police Academy films have been made?
3. How many Astronauts have walked on the moon?
4. What Revolutionary War general was known as the "Swamp Fox?"
5. How many contestants begin each season of Survivor?
6. What category is classified by the numbers 900-999 in the Dewey Decimal System?

edited to add: Oh yeah, and:
7. What's Schwarzkopf's first name?

The DUE date vs. the DO date

Wednesday night was exam night for my precious snowflakes, and I should have been prepared for the horror. When three students asked me before the exam review, "Does the final replace our lowest exam grade?" (answer: Yes, just like the syllabus says, and like I have said in class after the first two exams ), and then another one asked the same question as soon as we began the review, and then another asked the same question at the end of the review, that should have been a red flag. But I still wasn't ready for the looks of sullen despair, the frequent heavy sighs, the people handing in the test and trudging out thirty minutes early with most of the answers still blank (an aside: leaving early without even attempting to answer all the questions astounds me, and not in a good way. If you are ever in a class I teach and pull this crap, pray that you are not on the borderline between two grades, because you WILL get the lower one). I also was not ready to have to wake a student from a mid-test nap, but that's another story.
After an hour of post-test grading, I couldn't take any more, and went home for a rest. That's when I made the mistake of checking my messages, two of which were from a student who was absolutely flabbergasted that there was an online homework assignment due that night, and was not at all in the mood to work on more material half an hour after the exam.
Now, I should mention that all the homework is online, there's instant feedback if you do something wrong, and if you do miss a question, you can try a "similar exercise" until you get it right. Basically, there's no excuse for getting a low homework score, which is fine by me, because I consider homework to be practice for the exam, and this particular setup is excellent practice. I don't happen to agree with our coursewide due dates, which delays the due dates for several sections until after the exam which includes that section (I think it defeats the purpose of using homework to prepare for the exam; see previous sentence), but it's not a battle I've felt like fighting. Besides, most students are doing the assignments as soon as we cover the material, and sometimes beforehand - the assignments have been available since the beginning of the term.
That's really the thing that wound me up about these messages. I didn't reply, of course - the student was obviously just venting some post-exam frustration - but when the assignment (with due date displayed) available the entire semester, and when we've covered this particular section a full week before the exam, how is one still surprised to find it's due that night?
The final sentence of the second message asked, "from now on, can we be assigned the homework problem sets on days that we don't take a test on?" After several days of mulling this over, I have decided that the student is right, the assignments shouldn't be due right after the exam. I will thus be going against the course policy (with the permission of the coordinator, of course) and changing the due dates for two of the sections.
To the day BEFORE the exam.

Friday, October 19, 2007

There must be a "One Light" pun to be made here

U2 has a concert starting in 17 minutes, and they must cross a darkened catwalk to reach the stage. All four men begin on the same side of the catwalk, and at most two can cross at a time. The band has only one torch (you know, a flashlight), and whoever is crossing the bridge must have the torch with them. Each band member walks at a different speed, and any pair crossing must walk together at the slower man's pace.
Bono takes 1 minute to cross the catwalk.
Edge takes 2 minutes to cross the catwalk.
Adam takes 5 minutes to cross.
Larry takes 10 minutes to cross.
For example: if Bono and Adam cross together, they will take five minutes to cross. If Bono comes back with the torch, he takes only one more minute.

Without throwing the torch or using Bono's superpowers (which, as we all know, include bioluminescence) or any other weird tricks, can all four band members get to the stage in time to start the show?

Some of us had track meets on Saturdays!

I feel trivia night has de-volved over the last year. I loved Saved By The Bell as much as anyone (anyone who didn't really like SBTB, that is), but enough already. Of course, as much as I complain, you would think that, knowing that three or four questions will be about 80s and early 90s cartoons and teen shows, I could brush up. You'd be right, of course, but it doesn't mean that I'm going to take time out of my other activities to study up on Beast Wars and Chuck Norris.
Actually, there was some decent trivia this week, particularly in the second half. The misses:

1. If you saw the short "Mathnet," what show were you watching?
2. What planet did the Thundercats settle on?
3. On Saved By The Bell, what was the name of the beach club where the gang worked?
4. In Beast Wars, what is the name of the Maximal ship?
5. How many men in the U.S. are diagnosed with breast cancer each year?
6. How many U.S. Presidents were born British subjects?
7. What artist's 1997 album was the top selling album of the 1990s?
8. What is the dot over a lowercase i called?

Friday, October 12, 2007

This post has no title - the Duke of Cornwall took it

Mother is in town this week, and with her help, we cruised through the first half of trivia. Unfortunately, the halftime question was "list the exact scores of Clemson's first three home football games." Now, I enjoy football, and I do like that I attend a school with a decent football team, but once the game ends, I couldn't care less what the actual score was. Apparently, I am alone in this, because a large number of teams had scores which would indicate they knew the scores of these games. We could have placed if we knew the answer to the final question, but we didn't.

We got #3 right, but I liked the question.

1) Louis Braille invented a system of writing for the blind. Was Louis Braille blind?
2) How many Noble Truths does Buddhism recognize?
3) What is the better-known title of the man who is also Duke of Cornwall?
4) In what year did Mississippi ratify the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which abolishes slavery?

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

I told them to stop with the Chuck Norris questions, they didn't, I'm outta here.

If you were wondering where last week's trivia questions were, I chose to skip trivia night last week. I had already eaten, didn't feel like drinking, and while some people just drink water and eat the free rolls and don't spend a cent unless they win, I'm not one of them.
As it turns out, however, trivia night was cancelled anyway. I'm sure it had nothing to do with the fact that I didn't show up.
To tide you over until this week's installment, here are two bonus questions:

1) How many states border at least one of the Great Lakes?
2) How many Canadian provinces border at least one of the Great Lakes?