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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Check it out!

Go to your friendly neighborhood Google.

Type in "Rob Sack".

Hit "I'm feeling lucky."

Guess what. You are lucky.

Friday, August 24, 2007


Horyon's sister, Chaeryon, has been staying with us for the last week and a half. It's nice. She's a good house guest; she cleans up after herself, cooks from time to time, and keeps Maxine entertained with a constant stream of statistical data.

Just kidding.

However, Chaeryon is a statistician, studying to be a Dr. Statistician at UNC Chapel Hill, and we did talk a bit about the class I recently finished, which happened to be a statistics class. So there was a statistical connection.

But I think mostly Maxine was entertained by Chaeryon coloring with her, playing blocks with her, and watching Boohbah. And let me tell you, if you ain't seen Boohbah, you're missing out on a free trip of epic proportions. Check out the website I've just linked. Horyon and I agree that it is remarkably like the t.v. show. The basic, slightly pastel colors, the cutesy noises, and the lack of words are all trademarks of this PBS offering. Sound like the Teletubbies? Well, imagine the Teletubbies on perception-altering drugs, with an even stronger implication that the featured... um... performers are aliens. That's Boohbah. And it's easier for a 2-year-old to say "Boohbah" than "Teletubby." I think that's the clincher.

Unfortunately, I have no photos to post commemorating this visit. Our camera has been out of commission for some time now. I've found a place that might be able to repair it, but the place is in Kansas City, and we just need to make time for the drive back and forth. Chaeryon brought her camera, but the battery was not properly recharged, and she didn't bring the recharger because it's quite large. We have borrowed my parents' spare camera. It's four or five years old, practically a dinosaur. We needed to take pictures of some of Horyon's dresses before sending them to Korea.

I am fighting a cold right now. I went to bed Wednesday night at 10:30 and slept until 9:30 Thursday morning when Maxine came in to say hi. I got up, and Horyon made me some breakfast: fried eggs and toast. One of my eggs was a double-yolker. Some say that an egg with two yolks is an omen. For me, it signified that I would go back to bed and sleep until one p.m. I got up, had some lunch, and didn't go back to bed. Well, I went back to bed, just not back to sleep. I've been taking it easy all day, swigging Nyquil and reading a book.

It was nice having Chaeryon here, and not just because she entertained Maxine. Horyon was excited to have someone who shares her tastes in food (lots of Korean dishes, some more successful than others), comic books (cheesy romance comic books, blech), music (Korean pop, also a bit cheesy, but not as bad as the comic books), and t.v. shows. They watched the entire run of a Korean drama on DVD. It did not have English subtitles, but it did have many scenes involving sad piano music while people stared meaningfully into the distance. This, I felt, gave me a deep enough understanding to know that it was cheesy. Ironically, the food was the only non-cheesy thing that they like.

For the few days of Chaeryon's visit, I slept on our sofa bed in the living room so that the sisters could share our bed. Then I noticed a pattern: Horyon and Chaeryon were both staying up until three or four in the morning, talking, watching videos, eating ramyen noodles, whatever. And so it occurred to me that there was no real reason for my side of the bed to remain unused for the first half of the night while I slept on the sofa. (I tried it both as a sofa and as a bed, and found it fairly uncomfortable both ways.) So I moved back to the bed. I'm sorry, Chaeryon!

When she comes back around Christmas maybe we can trade off where we sleep.

Yes, Chaeryon will be here for Christmas. She can only stay about 10 days, but she will arrive before Christmas day. We're looking forward to that already.

And next month, Horyon's parents will come to visit. They will stay for a month. If Maxine could conceptualize events that far in the future, she would seriously be looking forward to it.

That's it for now.



Thursday, August 02, 2007

Class Finished

My class finished last Friday, with the third test two weeks before. I got a disappointing 75%, smack dab between the 1st and 2nd test grades, and (it seemed to me) solidifying my C in the class. I still had an 89% average on homework, but that was worth only 20% of the total grade. We spent the last two weeks of class doing some pretty wacky statistics, comparing two different sets of data under different circumstances, mostly. The final exam had six questions instead of his usual five. I assumed that there would be enough time to do all of the problems if I worked steadily, because it had been true on all three previous tests. Not this time. I didn't finish #5, and didn't even look at #6. I thought I had done OK on the problems I worked on, a definite pass, but very, very unlikely to break me out of the C bracket in which I had been firmly planted.

When the prof called time, half of us were still scrambling to finish. I've been on the prof side of this one, so I wrote my name on the front page and got up to give him my test. By then he was calling a second time for tests, and I was getting a bit annoyed. By his third call he was also annoyed, and I was closer to pissed. Back in Korea, I had to make threats to make my students hand in tests at the same time. I just didn't figure to find that kind of behavior here. And I kind of figure that the prof hadn't, either. I'm sure that if he had seen this kind of thing too many times he would have a proper threat or two ready:

"All right, everyone, minus five percent if I don't have your test on this table in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1." Of course, you accept anything from anyone standing by the end of the countdown, but you have to mark that -5% on anyone who is still sitting by "1". Threats have to be promises, even on the last day. Not so much because of what you will face from students in the future, but because you have to come away with a sense of integrity.

Anyway, I went to see Prof. Stall Monday afternoon (after taking a different test in the morning) to talk about my future courses in the math department. He basically told me that I don't need to audit or re-take Calculus I or II. He figured that if I managed this class (Statistics for Masochists) I could handle anything else on the list coming up. The biggest problems I am likely to face are the ones I've faced here: adjusting to being a student again after 13+ years of not being a student and juggling family and job with school.

While I was there another student came in to ask about his grade. Until that point I really hadn't thought about it. I figured I had my C unless I had really screwed up the final. He offered to give me my test, as he had returned my classmate's. Of course I took it. First I saw 86. Hey! Not too shabby! Then I realized that it was 86 out of 120. Ouch. 71%. I definitely got a C in the class. So when he told me I got a B, I thought he meant on the final. "No," he said. "Your course grade is a B."

I was a bit floored. I thanked him, but didn't ask about it. I wish I had, because I'm curious how he decided that I deserved a B.

And so my return to school has resulted in a very slight boost of my overall G.P.A. Not as much as I had hoped for going in. This fall I will take a 2-hour course. This time I think the A is within my grasp. Assuming work and family don't do me in.

I gotta get going. I'm putting Maxine to sleep these days (nights) and following up when she wakes up. It's only been two days so far, but it is taking a lot out of me. And it's after 10:30. Time for me to get busy with the baby.



A Brief Introduction

Roblog is my writing lab. It is my goal to not let seven days pass without a new post. I welcome your criticism, as I cannot improve on my own.

Here is a link to my cung post, which remains the only word which I have ever invented, and which has not, as far as I know, caught on. Yet.