The everyday blog of Richard Bartle.
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6:40pm on Tuesday, 22nd January, 2019:
It was the first CE217 lecture of the week today. It would have been last week, but we had a new concept introduced this year that cleared the decks for all Computer Science second-year students: Challenge Week. Some students even spent a week on it, although others only began work on the final day and as a result didn't perhaps do as well as they might.
Because of Challenge Week, instead of having 10 2-hour CE217 lectures, I have only 9. This means throwing content out and reordering everything. I quite like the idea of having less teaching to do, but if losing 2 hours of contact time means doing 6 hours of lecture-reorganising, in the end it's a loss for me.
That's not what caused the most disruption, through.
Sometime at the end of last year, one of the second-year students decided to change options and do CE217 instead of whatever they were doing instead. This meant the number of students taking the module went up to 87.
The largest room that the university has with tables that can be moved around in is 86. That one student meant I couldn't teach my game classes in the room for which they were timetabled.
I wanted the movable tables because then we can play and make games. That can't be done in rooms where the tables and chairs are tiered, like in a cinema. Nevertheless, the new room is exactly such a room.
It gets worse. I wanted my classes timetabled for 3 hours rather than 2 hours, because some of the activities I have lined up will take that long. The new room was only available for 2 hours. However, not to worry: I was allocated another room for the final hour, some distance away.
So ... we play games, then 2 hours in we pack everything away, walk to another room, and finish the game there? I think not.
Oh, and some of the students had a clash, so would be stopping after 2 hours anyway.
This has messed up my classes something rotten. It's not as if there ever will be 87 people present in the class anyway. There were 32 in the lecture this morning, with another 5 or so rolling up at various times after I'd started. That's fewer than half the students who should have been there. The timing — 9am — didn't help; many students think it's OK to ignore lectures at 9am, on the grounds that everyone else will. They may even have a point: if half the students fail their exams because they don't come to lectures, then that will be enough for the marks to be scaled so they don't fail. It's safety in numbers.
The students who did show up were actually quite a lively bunch, and actually answered questions when I asked them. I was somewhat taken aback, as this doesn't normally happen. Some of them asked questions, too — quite intelligent ones that pre-empt the content of later lectures. I was quite impressed. Unfortunately, apart from a visiting PhD student who's sitting in, none of them made the effort to be female. That's bad form.
The evening's CE317 lecture was the most boring of the whole module. At one point, four students were asleep at the same time. I don't blame them. I'd have been asleep too if I hadn't cricked my neck this morning; it kept me awake.
Only another two months and it's all over (except for the part where the entirety of Easter disappears in a mist of assignment grading).
7:21am on Monday, 21st January, 2019:
This morning's super blood moon lived up entirely to my expectations.
Every single time there's an astronomical event, there's cloud.
Every single time.
5:27pm on Sunday, 20th January, 2019:
As part of my wife's ongoing quest to visit every furniture shop within forty miles looking for a bookcase that matches her unsatisfiable specifications before ultimately returning to the first shop we went to and buying the first bookcase we looked at, today we visited Ipswich.
To get to the furniture shops, we had to cross the Orwell Bridge, a beautifully-arched high structure crossing the Orwell Estuary that boasts gorgeous views in both directions.
Ah, but because the beautifully-arched structure is high, it gets windy; because it gets windy, vehicles have to be protected from sudden gusts that might blow them into other traffic; because vehicles need to be protected from the wind, the bridge has concrete walls along its length; because it has concrete walls along its length, all access to the gorgeous views is denied except perhaps to those in the cab of an articulated lorry or on the top floor of a double-decker.
The Humber Bridge gets windy, too, but has been so constructed that the wind flows don't require a concrete wall that obscures the view. On a clear day, you can see docks and factories and other assorted works of industry ruining the scenery for miles in both directions. Why couldn't they have done that for the Orwell Bridge, too?
There ought to be laws of bridge construction that insist that if there's a view, you get to view it.
Oh, and by the way, BBC, why are you telling us there's a "super blood wolf moon" tonight when we all know that's just a fancy euphamism for saying it's going to be cloudy?
4:50pm on Saturday, 19th January, 2019:
Just as I was about to leave the scan-and-go checkout section in Sainsbury's this morning, a woman went through with a trolley and she set off an alarm. She kept on walking, though, and headed for the main exit.
I figured she'd set the alarm off there, too, which indeed she did. She just carried on as if nothing had happened.
I thought I'd better tell her, because it's not always obvious in big shops who it is who's set off an alarm.
"Excuse me", I said. "You've just set off two alarms. I think you may have a security tag on something."
"I heard them", she replied, "but I don't know what I've bought that would have one."
Err, well why didn't she stop, then?
I had a quick glance at the contents of her trolley. "It's probably the clothes", I noted. "You need to get that taken off, it might cover them in ink if you try it yourself."
I left her to look through and find the offending object.
I perhaps shouldn't have bothered. When I said "clothes", what I actually wanted to say was "big, ugly bra". It would probably have been improved immensely by contact with a colourful ink.
Really, though, if you set off two alarms, you ought to stop just in case, you know, you're accidentally stealing something...
12:54pm on Friday, 18th January, 2019:
While I was out yesterday (or quite possibly while I was in), Amazon stuck this almost the whole way through our letterbox.
What does that say, then?
We had to ask random neighbours until we found the right one.
I wouldn't care, but our what-to-do-if-we're-not-in instructions say to take the parcels round the back of the house. They don't say to leave them with any neighbour whose house lights are on and then drop us a card bearing a message with no resemblance to their name, their house name or their physical location.
It's just as well our neighbours are patient...
6:37pm on Thursday, 17th January, 2019:
There are several of these signs accompanying the roadworks that will be snarling up Colchester until 2020.
So, basically that means CCTV is not in use, then.
3:00pm on Wednesday, 16th January, 2019:
Ah, now I see my mistake.
When Theresa May kept stating "no deal is better than a bad deal", I thought she was saying that not having a deal was better than having a bad deal. Now, however, I realise that all along she was actually saying that there are no deals which are better than a bad deal.
That's cleared that up then.
6:44pm on Tuesday, 15th January, 2019:
It was my first lecture of the new term today, CE317. I had so many people sign up for it that it required a double room, but so few people who attended it that they could have fit in a single room instead.
The lecture was from 4pm to 6pm. This seems to be too late for many students. My second-year lecture, CE217, which starts next week, is from 9-11. If last year is anything to go by, this is too early for many students.
I forgot to upload my slides in advance and forgot to print the handouts my third-years will need to read by next week, so suspect that the lecture is too late for me, too.
3:55pm on Monday, 14th January, 2019:
Hmm, next time I play a JRPG that involves 72 hours of clicking through dialogue, I should check first to make sure it's not the first in a trilogy.
11:10am on Monday, 14th January, 2019:
At the top, a Thornton's white chocolate snowman.
At the botton, the same Thornton's white chocolate snowman after having his head dunked in tea for 20 seconds and then sucked.
3:57pm on Sunday, 13th January, 2019:
It's been awhile since "online" was by default spelled with a hyphen.
12:08pm on Saturday, 12th January, 2019:
This is what happens when I'm given a side order of mayonnaise I don't want and my wife spots it.
I present this as evidence that I am not the person in the Bartle household with the lowest artistic ability.
1:18pm on Friday, 11th January, 2019:
My dad got me a new shirt for my birthday!
I really like it, but it's an extremely tight fit (hence the judicious placement of my phone). It says on the label that it's an XL, but it's more like an M. I can wear it so long as I don't bend down, reach in front of me or breathe.
I may have to consider losing weight.
7:22am on Thursday, 10th January, 2019:
It's my birthday today. I'm 59.
It's definitely preferable to stopping at 58.
4:19pm on Wednesday, 9th January, 2019:
I had two surprises today, one unpleasant and one pleasant.
The unpleasant one was when I returned to my car on the second storey of the car park and spotted that the driver-side front tyre was flat.
The pleasant one was when I realised a few seconds later that I'd gone to the wrong car and mine was parked another couple of spaces away.
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Copyright © 2019 Richard Bartle (email@example.com).