What I Did on my Summer Vacation (2011 edition)

In no particular order, here's a random assortment of my summer experiences...

  • On a sad note, one of my teaching assistants from last year, Matthew Ian Helgesen, died suddenly over the summer. My condolences to all his friends and family both here and back in Minnesota.
  • Took the family to Calaway Park for the first time ever. Was it fun? Well, if you like going on the Egg Ride over and over and over... The weirdest activity is the fishing pond (barely mentioned on their website), where you can catch real trout, have them cleaned, and take them home. Yup, at the end of your day of going on rides, seeing magic shows, and eating cotton candy, you can take a dead fish home. Has Disney heard about this!?
  • Calgary Zoo again. You know, I’d really like to see a polar bear one day. Just sayin’.
  • Oh, and Sylvan Lake of course. Sadly, there seems to be less and less beach every time we go. (Maybe it was just all the snow melt this year?) At this rate, there won’t be any beach next year and I’ll just have to sit in the Big Moo drinking iced cappuccinos. Which, come to think of it, doesn’t sound too bad.

  • Festivals, of course. But it’s tough to plan, say, going to the Heritage Festival when someone (not to name names) has to take a nap in the middle of the afternoon. Sustainival at the Fringe was something new. And I learned two things: 1) my eldest daughter loves the Tilt-A-Whirl, and 2) it makes me nauseous. Really nauseous. Where’s the iced coffee?
  • Which reminds me: Had way too many of those $1 iced coffees from McDonald’s. There must be something, like, addictive in those. I mean, apart from the sugar, cream, and caffeine.
  • Swatted mosquitos. A lot of mosquitos. Had to mow the lawn wearing heavy jeans, long socks, T-shirt, jacket zipped all the way up, and a hat--then sprayed Deep Woods Off all over. And: not a single bite! But when I went inside to take a shower what happens? A mosquito lands on me. Slap! Grr!
  • Got a new custom desktop computer. (Geek alert: ASUS P8Z68-V PRO, Core i7 2600K, 8 GB 2000MHz DDR3 Kingston RAM, EVGA GTX 570, 2TB Seagate Barracuda HDD, 240GB OCZ Vertex 3 SSD. Not cutting edge, but then I’m not Fatal1ty.) On the plus side: SSD (Solid State Drive--kinda like a hard drive made up of flash memory) is wicked fast; on the minus side: SSD drive caused BSODs (*sigh*). Flashing the firmware was a bit hair-raising, but it fixed the problem and I didn’t even lose any data.
  • Was so impressed with the SSD, I installed one (OCZ Vertex 2) in the empty drive bay of my laptop (Geek alert: Dell XPS 17 L701x). It didn’t work--the BIOS wouldn’t let me change the boot drive from HDD to SSD (*sigh*). Called tech support (How’s the weather in Chennai?). They didn’t know how to change the boot order either, so I had to tell them: the boot drive has to be the one in drive bay 1. They were very grateful for the info. I didn’t even charge them.
  • I’d like to get a new computer for my office now. My current Core 2 Duo E6400 is a bit slow. (I know there’s a budget crunch, but if UAlberta can afford $250,000 for a new website, can’t I get a new computer every 4 or 5 years? Please? I’ll install it myself--no charge.)
  • Ate a few of Fat Frank’s cheddar jalapeno dogs, tried Filistix’s pulled pork bun, and had an Eva Sweet waffle--all on campus. Allowing food carts on campus was a great idea. Will they still be around in January?
  • Oh, and I made cake pops. And a cherry pie--with cherries from the Evans cherry tree in our backyard. And avocado-lime ice cream. (How was it? Meh. Green. See below.)

  • And of course, did a lot of work, including: went to seminars on Moodle and i>clickers, enhanced the branding of each course website for greater consistency and esthetics, and went through all my lectures to improve the flow and increase understandability.
  • The branding I did means that each course will have a consistent visual style, from website to syllabus to exams. Getting everything to look right on my Website was the most difficult. Although I downloaded some cool Javascript to render custom fonts, I couldn’t get the font drop shadow to work inside of a rounded-corner/drop-shadow CSS3 element. I banged my head against the wall for a week or so on that until I gave up. Still, I think it looks OK (example here).
  • Got Honour Roll with Distinction (modestly) for teaching the two courses I taught in Spring Term. No separate post for that because I don’t think I did the best possible job with one of the courses. I updated my lecture notes extensively, but my Web notes didn’t match the PowerPoints in class a few times. I’ll do a better job next time.
  • Analyzed the research data I collected earlier this year. Hmm, looks like using ebook-textbooks shouldn’t have a negative impact on your grade
Yeah, that’s all. Now I’m craving an iced coffee. What did you do over the summer?

Why aren’t you studying?


Anonymous said...

All sounds quite fun!
I went to NYC, and got evacuated due to Hurricane Irene... Let's just say, people are not calm when natural disasters threaten their region. Who'da thunk? As well, now that I am finished my psych degree, I can say I genuinely miss it :(

Anastasia said...

I started writing a novel about a student who falls in love with her prof, starts stalking him, and then murders his whole family and uses their skin to fashion herself a nice suit.

It's a comedy.

Karsten A. Loepelmann said...

Not the old student-who-falls-in-love-with-her-prof-starts-stalking-him-and-then-murders-his-whole-family-and-uses-their-skin-to-fashion-herself-a-nice-suit story again.

It's been done.

Find It