Friday, April 15, 2005  


I just came back from having dinner at Some Kinda Pasta, man am I tired. Nothing like a large serving of linguine with baby clams to make you feel sleepy.

I did two interesting things today. First, I picked up my tickets for graduation. I have just enough for my immediate family. At least for my parents, these are the hottest tickets in town. I better keep these in a safe place, I won't need them for over a month.

I also found out my results from my whooping cough test. It turns out I actually never had the whooping cough. I went to see the doctor about this because I like solving a mystery just like the next guy. He didn't really have any concrete answers. He did list a few things like sinusistis, a mild form of pneumonia, and viral infections, otherwise he said he couldn't really blame it on one thing or another. Nevertheless, since I am now much better neither the doctor or myself are worried about it. I was told to come back if it got worse but we'd leave it for now.

I am now going to make a cup of tea.


posted by Erwin | 9:25 PM

Thursday, April 14, 2005  


Alright Carl, here's your post. So last night we had a fantastic turn out for hockey considering it was Wednesday night. We had a good game going on as well, very competitive and fun. About half an hour into the game, a campus security SUV came around to us. The driver leaned out his window and said, "I got a complaint about some hockey players." Because of Joel, we know the right response to that is, "If we see any hockey players, we'll let you know." And that is exactly what I said. The driver nodded his head in agreement and drove off.

This is one of these classic examples of how the real world works. Rules and regulations look pristine on paper and may satisfy some administrator's desire for order, but enforcing those rules and regulations isn't exactly clean and tidy. So it's a convenient understanding that we have with Campus Security. The issue should have ended there, but it didn't.

An hour later, the parking dude from about two months ago, shows up. He's immediately very aggressive, spouting out things faster than I can comprehend. For some reason he asks us if we have a parking permit. I'm not sure why that would matter. If we did, would he let us continue to play? Then he says he's let us play long enough and that we should leave. I'm still confused as to why time is the issue. If we're not allowed to play, shouldn't he be telling us to leave the minute he sees us? Why is it ok to play one minute but not ok the next?

The dude immediately cuts to the chase, "Just let me know, are you going to leave or not?" I think Tyson and Carl answered for us, "No." To which he replied, "Fine, I'm calling the cops." With that, he left.

We were almost done anyways, so we just played out the rest of our current game. We left long before the RCMP arrived. In fact, as I was just arriving at my apartment complex, I saw the RCMP cruiser that was coming to get us. Not surprisingly, it was in no hurry to get to the parkade, making a full stop at every stop sign and with its lights off.

If security is the issue, then I think the parking dude should take a hint from Campus Security. They're the ones who supposedly can make the call on what is safe and what isn't. If they leave us alone, shouldn't that be good enough for him? I doubt this will be the last time we'll see parking dude, but it's a small price to pay for some exercise and fun.


posted by Erwin | 8:14 PM


On Tuesday afternoon, I invigilated my last exam for this year, this degree, and possibly forever. Fittingly, I watched over my own students from the tutorial I ran this semester. Our exam was a short one on Tuesday, with most of my section leaving after only an hour. When the profs told us TAs we could leave, it signaled the end to my TA career.

Over two years, I was a TA for the same first year engineering course three times, having taught nearly 150 students in that span. It would have been four times and about 200 students had my department not screwed me over at the beginning of this year. The course in question was an interesting one, taught as four cases studies over an entire term. It was worth six credits in just one term! I met my students twice a week for two hours each time. It wasn't one of those tutorials where attendance was optional, they had to do assignments in the tutorials and hand them in at the end. I spent a lot of time with my students, 48 hours each during the term. Compare that to a normal TA that might lead a one hour tutorial once a week, that's about 12 hours only.

The case studies themselves were quite interesting, they changed from term to term nearly every time, so it kept me on my toes. I have to say I enjoyed teaching the first years compared to grizzly old fourth year veterans. The first years came to me so fresh and wild-eyed at the whole university and engineering experience. It was pretty cool that I got to teach them some very fundamental engineering techniques such as drawing a proper free-body diagram. Invariably a lot of my students find out that I did my undergrad degree at UBC and they have a lot of questions about how the subsequent years go. Every first year engineer has a huge burden of deciding what department to apply for in second year. It is a decision that can possibly define their career for the rest of their lives. I usually get asked why I chose mech and how that compares with other departments.

Though it's not in my official job description, answering questions like that are among the most pleasant parts of being a TA. Here's a weird stat, after being a TA three times for this class, I have not received a single official evaluation of my abilities as a teaching assistant. The prof for the class just never had the time nor effort to make an evaluation form for his TAs. Officially, I have no idea how I did as a TA. Informally, I think I did alright. I've been thanked by a few students for my efforts. The biggest indicator seems to be the number of students who still acknowledge me when they see my on campus. I get the ocassional nod and whassup, sometimes I stop and find out what department they eventually got into.

I decided a while back it probably wouldn't be that bad if I got a job as an instructor at some community college. Sure, I'd probably prefer to teach at a university, but without the PhD, that's not going to happen. I figure if I don't make it as a software engineer, teaching college kids would be a nice alternative to fall back on.


posted by Erwin | 2:35 AM

Wednesday, April 13, 2005  


Here's an interesting article from the New York Times. It's all about the "man date":

"Simply defined, a man date is two heterosexual men socializing without the crutch of business or sports. It is two guys meeting for the kind of outing a straight man might reasonably arrange with a woman. Dining together across a table without the aid of a television is a man date; eating at a bar is not. Taking a walk in the park together is a man date; going for a jog is not. Attending the movie 'Friday Night Lights' is a man date, but going to see the Jets play is definitely not."

Based on their definition, I'm pretty sure I've been on some man dates but didn't know what it was called at the time. And each time, I was very aware of not "gaying up" the whole evening. I wonder what you call it when like eight to ten guys go out without the crutch of business or sports? Is that like a "sausage train"?


posted by Erwin | 1:53 AM

Tuesday, April 12, 2005  


I played croquet for the first time this year and the first time in months. The weather was just nice enough to play today. After a brief rain delay, the sun came out to shine down upon Bryan, Adam, and myself.

Most of the croquet connoisseurs of SJC have now moved out. Other than Adam, I'm not sure who else plays croquet. We got some interesting looks from some of the residents that moved in during September. Kathleen opened her window and yelled out, "Look at the boys playing their crochet!" We just smiled and nodded.

I was hoping that the rust of the winter would reign in my skilled croquet opponents but this was not the case. Both Adam and Bryan were in fine form. I played a suprisingly conservative game, leaving my go-big-or-go-home strategy for later in the season. In an indication of the level of skill I had to contend with, the boys made the first post just a hair under 15 minutes.

It was not my day to be champion unfortunately. Both my opponents became poison while I still had four wickets to go. I turned in a valiant effort after that, including a sequence where I survived four straight shots at my ball when I lost a turn going through a wicket the wrong way. In the end, the challenge was greater than my early season form and Adam took me out.

Adam won the whole thing in a gutsy move, declining to call a suicide shot and instead, hitting Bryan's ball which was just inches away from the edge of the grass.

I look forward to more games in warmer weather on well-manicured lawn of SJC.


posted by Erwin | 12:42 AM

Monday, April 11, 2005  


Holy crap am I tired. I had four hours of sleep last night with only a small twenty minute nap today. I worked until 6am getting this prototype done for a class project I'm working on. I had to meet my other two group members at 10:30am this morning to discuss our progress. One of my teammates was quite appreciative of my efforts. The other teammate? Not so much. Well, what can you do? Some people go through life with elegance and class, and those are the people we should associate with, not the others.

The meeting took way longer than I thought it would. By the time it ended, I have a few more little touchups to do here and there on my work. There was a break in the schedule that afforded me my short nap, otherwise, I've been working all day. I managed to be lively enough at dinner over at SJC but I've been slowly winding down since about 8pm.

The only reason I'm up now is that I'm waiting for some chicken to come out of the oven. It was vegetarian night over at the College and I was hungry almost immediately upon my return home.

Hey, did you know David Duchovny has a blog? Sure, it partly a promotional tool for his movie, but a blog is a blog. I still have a soft spot for old Mulder.


posted by Erwin | 12:04 AM
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