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steuard: (lake)
Saturday, May 31st, 2014 08:41 pm
I saw this comic recently.

Somewhere in the house is a box containing the plans I drew up around age 12 for pretty much exactly this. (Without the Oculus Rift part, but instead with a complicated multiple controller setup for large-scale team play.) As I recall, my drawings were heavy on the concepts and light on engineering details. :)

My childhood vision began as "Battlestar Galactica fleet vs. Cylon Basestar fleet in the sky", but I gradually expanded it to include at least two additional very distinct teams. I don't think I quite recognized at the time just how far out of reach my ideas were for the technology of the day, but it's awesome to think that someone could conceivably do it for real right now.
steuard: (Default)
Monday, May 31st, 2010 06:50 pm
I found this worksheet about exercise in a stack of my papers from first or second grade, and my eyes bugged out for a moment before I broke down laughing.

I can only assume that my teacher had the same reaction (and this must have gotten passed around the teachers' lounge). I noticed that my last answer here is the only one (on this page or the next) that didn't get any corrections or comments.

As I recall, it certainly was a lot of exercise!
steuard: (Default)
Friday, May 28th, 2010 12:42 am
My earliest memory is actually almost the memory of a memory: my fifth grade teacher had us write the story of our earliest memories, and I've remembered what I wrote even as the memory itself became less and less vivid. I was three years old sitting behind my mother on her bike as she sped down the steep hills of our neighborhood, and it was terrifying. She went so fast, and all I could do was watch helplessly as she whizzed around corners and parked cars. I still remember the images and feel of it a little, but I know that when I first wrote the story it was crystal clear. I've often thought about that change and what it might imply about memory in general.

Flash forward to two days ago. While sorting through boxes of old papers, I actually found the fifth grade story itself. It was almost exactly as I remembered it, except for one crucial change: I wasn't scared at all. The story said a lot about how exciting it was, but there wasn't the slightest suggestion of fear or helplessness. Now I really want to know what happened (and when) to transform that memory from positive to negative. (For that matter, I want to know when I went from enjoying that sort of thrill to disliking it. And I wonder if the two are related.)
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Tuesday, May 25th, 2010 03:58 pm
I'm spending this week in Nebraska, sorting through the countless boxes of papers and mementos from my childhood that are cluttering up my mother's house. In looking through my old school papers, I've come to an interesting realization: almost everything from my math and science classes ends up in the trash, but I've eagerly sought out and kept quite a few of the stories and essays and other creative works from my arts and humanities classes. (Assignments to write about myself and my life and my plans for the future have been pretty neat to rediscover, too.)

On the one hand, that makes a lot of sense: those science classes were intended to impart a great deal of human knowledge and, more important, a scientific mindset for approaching the world, and those are things that have remained in my head as a major part of my life ever since. They weren't intended to produce "artifacts" that I'd want to revisit later. But on the other hand, it's a bit disappointing that something so important to my life at the time left so limited a "written record" (tests and homework problems really don't count).

So now I'm wondering what I can do in my teaching that will get my students to produce at least a few concrete things that they'll feel proud of, and that they might feel an urge to look back at ten years down the road. Having some sort of major project or report or presentation is probably a good idea in general, now that I think of it. I wonder if there's any way to work more creativity into the mix, though.
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Sunday, December 27th, 2009 01:52 am
I just got a letter from Duke University. Apparently, they want my DNA.

Years ago, Duke arranged for me (and many other 7th graders) to take the SAT. I did pretty well (very well, for a 7th grader). Now, some researchers there(?) are doing a study looking for "genetic markers of intellectual functioning" and they tell me that "There is probably no group of individuals in this country who possess higher measured cognitive abilities than the Duke TIP group to which you belong." (That's just one example of the flattery they've used.)

I'm not sure whether to participate. Being used as a genetic exemplar of brilliance sounds great and all, but I find the premise of the study to be pretty cheesy. They apparently believe that my ability to take standardized tests way back in 7th grade is supposed to correlate significantly with intelligence. That was probably a factor, but especially at that early age I'd think that my parents' habit of reading to me (and encouraging me to read grown-up books) contributed at least as much, to say nothing of the Lincoln public school system's fantastic gifted program (I had already had personal math mentors for several years at that point). It's hard for me to believe that "good 7th grade SAT score" will correlate clearly with anything but "white upper-middle class background".

So, what do you think: should I give them my genes or not?

[Edit: Just to be clear (since [livejournal.com profile] patrissimo seems to have missed my point a bit), I recognize that intelligence is a part of why I did well on the test. The genetic markers they identify may well correspond roughly to "smart white upper-middle class" kids. But I have serious doubts about their ability to disentangle those factors.]
steuard: (me)
Saturday, January 10th, 2009 09:02 pm
While I was visiting family in Nebraska this winter, I found a couple of pictures of myself as a kid, both involving music in one way or another. They had a lot of sentimental value, so I took the opportunity to scan copies for myself. Since I happen to think they're kinda cute I thought I'd share them here, but out of consideration for others I'll put them behind cuts. (Is it more or less obnoxious to subject unwilling people to baby pictures of yourself?)

Newspaper clipping of me (age two) 'conducting' a band. )

Me after a choir concert, not pleased to share the spotlight with my sister. )
steuard: (lake)
Monday, December 22nd, 2008 07:57 pm

During my senior year of high school, my English teacher required us to submit a story or poem to the school's literary magazine From the Depths. I thought the assignment was silly (and was probably pretty dismissive of the magazine, too), so I wrote a "poem" over lunch and handed it in. To the great amusement of everyone who was in on the joke, they published it. At long last, I've tracked down a copy, and I'll share it with you here:

The Myth

as I followed the stream
from the mountaintop of
    which it sprang,
I knew then that my hidden
was littered with the broken
of ice

cold, and colder
in the frigid dawn
    the birds flee
to their inner sanctuaries
with nothing greater than
    the sea

bubbling pipes
crying out in unison
calling to the specks
hidden deep in the folds
of a wretched soul

paradoxical musings
flow relentlessly into
vortices of confusion
and fear

the fragile cup
is emptied of its tepid

steuard: (Default)
Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008 11:51 am
[I'm still avoiding LJ because I'm terribly busy, but I want to get this news out there.]

Many of the Mudd people I know will remember Mike Moody, who was the Mudd Math Department chair for a number of years before leaving to become Dean of Faculty at Olin College. I've just heard through the Claremont grapevine that he is quite ill and that he will be taking a leave of absence from Olin while undergoing treatment. I'm not willing to post much more than that publicly, but I'll be happy to pass along all I know over private email to people who are interested. In particular, if you want to pass along your best wishes to him (and maybe catch up on life a little) there's an address for that. Let me know.
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Friday, May 9th, 2008 01:36 pm
Now that I've survived my last week of class, senior finals, and senior grades, I can finally pause long enough to comment on last weekend. Alumni Weekend was great: I got to catch up with lots of friends I hadn't seen (or sometimes even heard from at all) in ages, I got to see several wonderfully cute little kids (whose antics I usually only hear about secondhand), and I unexpectedly got to hang out at an impromptu East Dorm party for a while.

That brought back some fantastic memories, both of fun times at East generally and of Patri's still-famous hedonism party in particular: this one wasn't on remotely the same scale (considering the complete lack of pre-planning), but it had surprisingly many of the same great people and it once again featured Patri playing death chess (shirts vs. skins death chess, at that). It was a little odd being at the dorm as a faculty member: at least a couple of students recognized me (one of them is apparently hoping to take a class with me next year). It made me more actively aware of my responsible side, but I suppose I've never really been one to go wild at parties anyway.

For those of you Claremont people who were there, thanks for coming! (I'm finding myself feeling surprising twinges of "playing host" here, since I didn't have to travel at all.) For those who couldn't make it, there's always our 15 year reunion (or, hey, I'll be here next year as well). I'm very happy to have moved forward in life and to have the opportunities and responsibilities that I have today, but there are certainly things that I miss about college life.
steuard: (Default)
Friday, April 11th, 2008 11:36 am
Ten years ago last night, I proposed to Kim at the end of our last Mudd Occasional Ball. It's a bit scary to think that it's been that long. Definitely one of my better decisions. :)

And while I'm on the subject of ten year anniversaries, let me take a moment to put in a brief plug for our ten year college reunion coming up on May 2-4. For those of you who went to Claremont schools, we'd love to see you if you can make it (even you're not class of 1998, you've got plenty of friends who were, right?).
steuard: (Default)
Tuesday, June 5th, 2007 09:30 pm
Kim and I were shopping at Target this evening, when a woman passing by with her shopping cart paused and asked, "Did you two go to Harvey Mudd?" It was Jeannie (or however she spells it), without whom our dorm rooms in East would have been a disaster (and our laundry would have spent a bit less time nicely folded). We talked a bit; she's working out in Linde these days. The people you meet when you live in Claremont...

[I randomly ran into a great uncle of mine at a local restaurant a few months ago, too. Of course, he lives in Colorado, so that was a little bit more of a surprise.]