Tuesday, August 31, 2004

At the end of the tour

Last week, I had a productive week and an interesting weekend. This week, the semester starts in earnest. Tuesday is the first day of the course that I'm taking this semester (Convex and Nonlinear Optimization); next Wednesday is the first day of the matrix computations seminar; and various paper and presentation deadlines are fast approaching. It was a good summer; and now I'm glad it's over and another semester has begun.

Some lists from the summer now past:

  • Beverages of choice:
    • Hong-Kong style coffee + tea -- This drink, which can be served hot or cold, consists of coffee mixed with English breakfast tea. Both the tea and the coffee are quite strong. When I had it, it was served with milk and sugar; it was a very good combination.
    • Pu-erh tea -- I've learned that the name sounds different in Cantonese, more like po li (though I've likely butchered the pronunciation). Pu-erh has a strong, earthy sort of black tea taste. I got brother Rick some for a birthday gift, and he thought it was reminiscent of beet juice. I think he'll appreciate it more with a little practice brewing it... but I'm biased.
    • Dragon well tea -- This is a particularly tasty variety of green tea.
    • Silver needle white tea -- Pu-erh and white tea are at far ends of the tea spectrum, insofar as it makes any sense to talk about a tea spectrum. White tea is light, and must be brewed at a lower temperature and for a longer time than even the green teas. The flavor is subtle.
    • Black coffee -- Of course! Peet's is offering a new special blend, their African Blend, which I quite like.
    • Hot water with lime -- I bought a new bottle of lime juice about a week ago, and can once again make one of my favorite late-evening beverages. This goes well with honey.
    • Red tea (rooibos) -- This is actually made from a type of African bush. It has a strong, mellow sort of flavor.
  • Games and amusements
    • Eraser hurling -- Why are we scouring Iraq for Whiteboard Marker Dusters when we have so many of them here already? Upon hearing the tale of a professor who hurled his eraser at a student snoring in the middle of the class, I was inspired. Suppose I practiced hurling weighted erasers at a target in some very public place, then brought along a basketful of erasers with me to class. Would students remain awake? Could a potato cannon be adapted to make an eraser bazooka? This is, I think, my best idea in this area since Bread Do.
    • Survivor: College Tournament -- The name, I think, says it all. Survivor and the Jeopardy College Tournament both enjoy some popularity; why not combine the two? Yes, eraser hurling would be involved.
    • Embarrassingly parallel parking -- I'm not sure what this would involve. Perhaps a lot full of inexperienced teenage drivers playing musical parking spots? Alas, if the game was really embarrassingly parallel in nature, it probably wouldn't be very exciting.
    • People watching -- Finally, a real amusement.
  • Books I want to read
    • Hackers and Painters (Paul Graham)
    • Programming as if People Mattered (I'm missing the author)
    • The Blue Bear (Lynn Schooler)
    • Black Lamb and Grey Falcon (Rebecca West)
    • In Season (Greg Atkinson)
    • The American Language (H.L. Menken)
    • Chasing the Sea (Tom Bissell)
    • A Year in Provence (Peter Mayle)
    • Walter Rudin's autobiography