mamamusings: April 1, 2005

elizabeth lane lawley's thoughts on technology, academia, family, and tangential topics

Friday, 1 April 2005

the joys (yes, you read that right) of grading

(No, this is not an April Fool’s post, despite the title.)

I mentioned in an earlier post that this quarter my students in the grad class “Current Themes in Information Technology” are maintaining blogs, in which I’ve got them posting their responses to the readings, and answer to homework questions I pose each week.

Because reading and grading written work by IT students is not always the most enjoyable task, I’ve been putting that off this week. But today I’m holed up in Panera Bread, trying to get through the blog entries.

And it turns out, much to my delight, that some of my students are not only competent writers—they’re downright thoughtful and even entertaining writers. Take, for example, Alexander Pita’s response to one of last week’s readings, a research paper from Bell Labs entitled “Architecture as Metaphor”:

Whoa.

I like to think that I’m a pretty well rounded guy, which a decent appreciation of the arts, humanities, etc…, but I think the authors of “Architecture as Metaphor” need to take a deep breath and read “How to Deconstruct Almost Anything”, by Chip Morningstar [1]. “Grounded theory is based on asking questions about the phenomenon in question.” As opposed to what? Not asking questions about the phenomenon in question? Asking questions about some other totally unrelated phenomenon? “Each concept was captured on a card and thrown on the floor. In grounded theory, this is called open coding.” In English, this is called “taking notes, messily”. Talk about peacock feathers.

It made me literally laugh out loud (which required me then to remove my earbuds and explain to Weez, who’s working across from me, why I was laughing when I was supposed to be suffering the miseries of grading).

And now, back to work…

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more like this: teaching

cloudy weather

Via this meteorological data site, which shows annual averages for cloudiness:

Hard to believe it will be better in Seattle, but it sure looks that way.

Posted at 11:51 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (1)
more like this: Rochester

relocation stress reduction

We’re getting closer and closer to moving time—my official start date at Microsoft Research will be 7/5/05, which means I’ll be moving in about 2-1/2 months. Ack!

We’ll be renting out our house while we’re gone. Rather than moving our household goods cross-country and then back again (a non-trivial expense), however, we’re going to try to simplify the process as much as possible. We’ll be storing our furniture and many of our possessions—some of it in the basement, and the rest in climate-controlled storage at Store-to-Door—they drop off a bunch of storage “vaults” in your driveway, you pack them up, then they cart them away to their storage warehouse. Neat idea, and reasonably priced. It means we don’t have to rent, drive, and unload a truck…just cart things out to the driveway and pack them up.

We’ll ship our personal belongings to Seattle—clothing, housewares, linens, kids’ toys, a few books, some electronics. We’ll rent furniture while we’re there, which doesn’t look like an outrageous expense, and purchase a few pieces for the kids’s rooms while we’re there.

Microsoft is being quite helpful with the relocation process; while the relocation benefits for visiting researchers aren’t quite as generous as those for new full-time hires, they’re better than most people get for a sabbatical year, and I’m so not complaining.

Since I’ll be in Redmond for a couple of professional activities in April, Gerald’s going to come out and join me from 4/20-24 and we’re going to look for an apartment or townhouse on the eastside. I’ve done some poking around online, and it looks like there are a lot of options. We want the Lake Washington or Bellevue school district because of their good support for homeschoolers. We also want an apartment complex with a fitness center and pool and playground for the boys. Rent.com shows a lot of places that meet our criteria, and I suspect the Microsoft relocation folks will have suggestions, as well.

Alex and I will probably drive out to Redmond in mid June in my car, with Gerald and Lane following in the van at the end of the month. That gets both our cars out there, since we’ll need them, but doesn’t involve two kids traveling together. And it means I can get there early enough to settle in a bit before starting work, without forcing Lane to leave before the school year is out—something I’d promised him he could do.

So, it’s getting more real all the time. And the “oh my god how will we do this” is giving way to “this is going to be so cool”—which is a very good thing.

Posted at 1:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
more like this: travel
Liz sipping melange at Cafe Central in Vienna