See Jane Compute

Random bullets, pre-weekend edition

  • Sometimes, when I look at Toddler Jane*, my heart aches over how beautiful she is, inside and out. Nothing in the parenting books, nor the advice and stories from other parents, can prepare you for what that feels like.
  • Call me crazy, but I really do enjoy advising undergrads. It’s a different kind of problem-solving: should I drop this class or talk to the professor? do I have time before I graduate to double-major? if I major in X, will I still be able to take classes in Y? Plus, I really like getting to know the students one-on-one, and getting a glimpse into their lives, their concerns, and their dreams. (I am not sure if I’d feel this way if I had to do this full-time, however.)
  • I’ve decided that next week is the Week of Getting Shit Done. I’ve had such a hard time focusing lately, but when I do finally focus, I work very efficiently. So I’m hoping that by declaring a WoGSD, I will be able to work efficiently more of the time, and not get so distracted.
  • I believe the success of WoGSD will depend on the frequency with which I keep my office door closed. (Note to self: close office door!)
  • My old running injury has flared up again (oddly, I haven’t been running, but I somehow still managed to tweak it in the course of my workouts), and I’ve had to take it a bit easier these past few days. The bad news is that I’ve “compensated” by eating enough sugar to feed a small village for a week. No good can come of this.
  • For reasons I don’t fully understand (full moon? sign of the apocalypse?), a colleague with a completely polar opposite teaching philosophy to mine has recently been engaging me in conversations about…..teaching. And not like the “let me tell you how this subject SHOULD be taught” conversations we’ve had in the past, but more like the sharing-as-equals, I’m-interested-in-what-you’re-doing-and-why conversations. This is one of the colleagues who will be voting on my tenure case, and who is very hard to read, so I’m taking this as a potentially good sign.
  • I have a blog post brewing about underprepared students, how they perform (or don’t) in computer science courses, and what, if anything, we could and should be doing better. I’m having a hard time really verbalizing what’s on my mind without it sounding dippy, uninformed, and/or pessimistic. Not sure if it will ever see the light of day as a result.

* I have decided that Baby Jane is too grown up for the Baby Jane name, and thus should be promoted to full-time toddler status. This is a bit bittersweet for me—she’s growing up, and fast….too fast, sometimes….


  1. #1 nic
    February 13, 2009

    I’m interested in your undergrad post about CS. It is my impression that it is not a major you can enter without significant experience beforehand.

  2. #2 plam
    February 13, 2009

    I haven’t thought about intro CS lately, but I don’t think that very many people get programming experience anymore, due to the way that we usually use computers in the past 15 years. But the way we usually teach intro CS (which may or may not be the way we should teach it), being able to pick up imperative thinking is mandatory.

  3. #3 estraven
    February 13, 2009

    “my heart aches over how beautiful she is, inside and out.”

    My own daughter recently turned nine. All I can say, this feeling you describe strengthens and deepens with time. I’m told you start hating them when puberty strikes :-).

  4. #4 Lewis Williams
    February 15, 2009

    As a CS student I would like to read your post about underprepared students and good luck with your WoGSD.

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