29 Jan: FTL

Tuesday 29 Jan: After teaching two weekends straight (and finishing my programming class, which missed its deadlines more and more as time went on), it was very strongly hinted that I should take some PTO, and I did.  I cleaned my apartment, spent some time with Bunbury, and finally beat FTL.  Later in the day, I tried again and soon paid for my hubris.  Important life lesson: even if you think you’re all that, if you’re caught unprepared in the wrong time and place, you can still get seven kinds of hell slapped out of you.

Thursday 31 Jan: I put a cardboard box back in Bunbury’s x-pen, and he managed to get out again.  *sigh*

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22 Jan: Daring Do

Bunbury got out of his x-pen today.  I left a gap to the “loft” level of my apartment that I thought was safe because it’s above the height of his x-pen.  Unfortunately, it proved to be too inviting for a curious rabbit.  Even removing all tall objects from his pen didn’t work.  I spent the morning rearranging furniture, but I think I’ll need to buy a taller x-pen or build an enclosed hutch.

I haven’t posted for a week because I’ve been working on a project.  It almost fully baked, so it should see the light of day soon.

11-14 Jan

11 Jan: Bunbury has figured out that he can bite the bars of his pen and move them around.  I hope this doesn’t mess up his teeth.  I’m still trying to figure out whether it means he’s cold or whether he’s hungry.  I’m going to guess he’s hungry, because that’s what all his other behavior means.

12 Jan: First visit to the vet.  Bunnies do not like getting their ears examined, but I needed to make sure his headshakes were binkies rather than an ear infection.  He really didn’t like getting his teeth examined, and I noticed more biting of his cage behavior later that day.  He spent much of the day hiding on his favorite chair beneath the table, and after the visit to the vet and the car ride, I just let him be and gave him extra veggies.

13 Jan: Bunbury often gets himself on top of the table then wanders around looking for a way down.  I’m afraid he just doesn’t learn.  What I’ve started doing is kneeling in doggy position next to the table, and he likes me enough that he’ll gladly hop on my back.  Then I lower myself to the ground so he can hop off.  My role in life is, in addition to being the one who brings food and cleans out the litter box, to be a rabbit elevator.

14 Jan: Bunny is getting better at gripping and tossing with his teeth.  This includes tipping over his pellet bowl so now he doesn’t know where to find them.  First he was picky about eating hay, now pellets aren’t enough for him.  I should have named him Angel.

3-year bachelor’s?

University of Toledo offers 3-year bachelor’s degree in certain majors

So here’s an interesting development: A university is offering a 3-year degree.  At least, it’s a plan for a student to complete the requirements of a 4-year degree in 3-years, not a watered-down degree.

My gut reaction is this isn’t good.  This seems designed to appeal to people who think the certification is the goal, and they want to get their bachelor’s as fast as possible to move on.  I’ve had a lot of students who treat courses as a motions to go through to get that diploma rather than an opportunity to expand their knowledge, and this programs seems to reinforce this idea rather than deter it.

On the other hand, the university says up front that this is designed for motivated students (they have to work through their summers, possibly take an increased workload) and come in with credits.  So this isn’t a way for slackers to dodge work.  That said, the students I mentioned above weren’t slackers (Berkeley students, whatever their pedagogical faults, aren’t slackers compared to the average undergrad); they just couldn’t or wouldn’t spend enough time and energy to understand the material rather than absorb enough to pass (by which I mean a B, because that’s the new passing grade).

Now that I write this down, it seems my main beef is student’s attitude toward learning, especially if they really understand what “learning” means, or if our school system has trained them to equate learning with being able to do X on the midterm, and I’m not sure what impact this program will have on that.  University of Toledo says this was motivated by a desire to save students money, not necessarily provide a better education.

Another consideration is, if you’ve got tunnel vision to finish in 3 years, you won’t take the time to explore all that a traditional university campus offers you.  I know I regret not exploring more when I was an undergraduate.  A 3-year program also doesn’t leave room for internships and job experience.  And considering the majors they are offering this program in, barring economics and political science, I think these students will have an uphill fight finding a job in the new economy.

Yeah, let’s just say I’m skeptical how this will work out.

Math celebrities

Why Nate Silver Can Save Math Education in America

I heard somewhere that Nate Silver is thinking of analyzing teacher assessment at some point.  It’s a big problem, there’s no definitive answer, and there’s lots of data (though since most of it is standardized test scores, I find much of it questionable).  Sounds like a place he can have fun.

That’s not what this article is about.

This article is about having math superstars being rolemodels for kids, to answer their questions of, “when am I ever going to use this?”  I feel this is treating the symptoms rather than the disease.  If math was taught as a way to solve problems and explore the world around us — as opposed to drilling computations — students’ curiosity will be a natural source of motivation.  “I want to understand” is a better driver than “I want to be a celebrity.”

The article’s secondary point, that the current curriculum sorely lacking in some departments (like statistics and finance), is something I agree with.

9 Jan

9 Jan: Bunbury is responding well to no veggies and fewer pellets.  He does this thing where he runs around my feet; I’m pretty sure that’s yet another way to ask for a snack, though it is extremely effective.  He’s also learned how to use his cardboard castle to jump onto the living room cabinets.  He keeps doing it even though the surface is slick and bunnies don’t like slipping.  And he doesn’t know how to get down.  What am I going to do with you?

6-8 Jan: Bunburyist

6 Jan: I hit the San Diego House Rabbit Society for supplies.  An puppy pen to spend the day in, litter box, litter, hay, pellets, bowls for pellets and water, wooden toys to play and nibble on.  Then I got to interact with two more rabbits at the shelter.  They were more confident than the ones I saw last week, but still a bit standoff-ish.  Then a couple more stops: Walmart for a rug, and Home Depot for cord protectors.

I spent the night setting up the pen in the room next to the kitchen, but there wasn’t enough space for a high-traffic area, so I moved some furniture (both tables and a couple shelves) so the bunny can have the run of the living room.  Bunny-friendly homes take a bit of work.

 7 Jan: I got some veggies for the bunny and groceries for myself, then it was off to the shelter for a 3rd time.  Another staff member suggested a different bunny.  He was so cute and friendly, I adopted him.

The shelter called him Costello, but I call him Bunbury.  Or Bun-Bun or just bunny because I’m too lazy for three syllables.  The car ride home kind of freaked him out, so I left him in his pen with some veggies so he can get used to it and scent mark the pen as his own.

In the evening, I let him explore the living room.  He liked my pile of cardboard boxes, so I rearranged them into a little castle for him, with landings to hop onto and hidey-holes to disappear into.  But his favorite spot is trying to get upstairs, no matter how much I clap (bunnies don’t like loud noises) or push him away.  This may be because, when I bring him veggies, they come from the kitchen.

The easiest way to make a rabbit your friend is to feed it veggies.  Bunbury really likes kale and bok choy.  Celery, not as much.  He loves sniffing my hands now, looking for a treat.

8 Jan: I had to teach tonight, so I got home late.  When I arrived, Bunbury was so excited, running around and trying to climb the cage to sniff me.  He seemed really eager, so I gave him another load of veggies.  Perhaps too much veggies, as he barely touched his hay afterward and had some weird looking poop.  (As a word of warning, you’re probably going to hear a lot more about bunny poop from here on out.)

But he seems happy.  He likes his cardboard castle, and is hopping onto places I didn’t expect (like the living room chairs and cardboard boxes that are supposed to keep him out of upstairs…).  He sometimes shakes his head, which are either partial binkies meaning he’s enjoying life or his way of telling me something’s wrong with his ears.  I’ve already scheduled a routine vet exam for this weekend.