stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
Keith Humphreys points out that the late Warren Christopher has another distinction: "Who is Warren Christopher?" is the correct question to "The last white guy to serve as U.S. Secretary of State".

(Of course, that may change in a couple of years....)


Feb. 27th, 2010 09:18 am
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
This has been an... interesting week.

Wednesday morning, I realized that the problem I'd had on Tuesday was that I was thinking like an algebraist instead of like a geometer. (Stoutfellow's First Law: Algebra gives knowledge, but geometry gives understanding.) Trying to find the coordinates of the vertices of a polyhedron by brute-force solution of equations was a mug's game from the beginning. Taking advantage of symmetries made the task much more tractable; it does require thinking about the precise behavior of those symmetries, but that's still much easier than the other way. At any rate, I've got the findCoordinates routine working reasonably well now. (There are still problems, and possibly bugs, but so far it's been able to do what I've asked of it.)

Thursday, I'd intended to stay home, but there was a committee meeting I'd forgotten about. I spent a few hours before the meeting fine-tuning things, trying to add further capacities to the algorithms, and revising my table of data - purging it of redundancies and the like. The committee meeting lasted less than fifteen minutes....

Friday, I was planning to give a quiz in my calculus class, but about twenty minutes into the lecture the lights went out. For the third time in three weeks, the campus had lost power; this time, the emergency lights didn't come on in the building I was in. I chatted with the students in the dark for a few minutes, then dismissed class. (Quiz *Monday*!) I went back to the Science Building, where the emergency lights were on, and W and I talked about polyhedra in his office. Power came back on just in time for our scheduled seminar meeting, which was abbreviated: we shared what results we'd been able to achieve in the past week and discussed what our student aide should do for his Senior Project. (I'd already shown each of the others, individually, most of what I'd done - too excited to wait for Friday - but W had some interesting things to tell us. He's going to start writing up our results soon; of course, he'll pass the draft around for comments and revisions.)

And tonight is another trivia night. This is supposed to be a large one, with maybe fifty tables - tough competition.
stoutfellow: (Winter)
This past week went pretty well, all things considered.

Monday: The landscaper completed the drainage job. (Well, almost. There are a number of bare patches resulting from the digging; he'll come back in another week or so to lay down some seed.) Also, I made a big batch of spaghetti all'Amatriciana, and, thanks to Tupperware, was able to take servings to work to eat for dinner Tuesday and Thursday.

Tuesday: The course assignments for 2010-11 are out. In addition to the mandatory section of calculus, I'll be teaching four senior-level courses: Euclidean/non-Euclidean Geometry, Differential Geometry, History of Math, and Advanced Linear Algebra. It's been a while since I last taught linear, and we're using a new text, so I'll have to do some prep work, but that's a pretty good lineup.

Wednesday: Another tiresome faculty meeting, but progress was made, and we agreed not to meet again until after the Thanksgiving break.

Thursday: I finished up the hyperbolic geometry segment in E/NE Geometry, and the students voted, as usual, to go on to spherical geometry. (The syllabus allows either that or a return to Euclidean geometry at this point. I usually manage to fit both of them in, but I like to give the students a choice just in case.)

Friday: The student who's working with us in the geometry seminar has made a breakthrough in his corner of the problem. That just makes it more imperative for us to settle a couple of other questions, which combined with his work would help us settle the problem as regards dodecahedra.

Saturday: I took care of maintenance problem #3, which leaves one more, much smaller one. It was an entertaining hour or so; it went more smoothly than I expected. (I'm not quite convinced the problem is completely settled, but it will take a week or so before I can be sure.) Also, it was trivia day again. The questions were pitched at a reasonable level, and the race was very tight: at the end of the next-to-last round, we were in a three-way tie for first, with two or three more teams within a point or so. The last round was hard. We finished tied for first on points, but lost the tiebreaker. There was a secondary "Survivor" contest: each round, one question was designated as the Survivor question, and missing that question meant elimination from that contest. We were one of two teams to answer all ten Survivor questions, and we won that tie-breaker. On top of that, three of our ten people won door prizes; I got a very nice set of screwdrivers, which would probably sell for about $20. Combine that with the $6 I got in second-place money and the nice blanket which was the Survivor prize, and I more than made up for the $14 entrance fee.

A good week.

Trivia 2

Oct. 4th, 2009 10:38 am
stoutfellow: (Winter)
Last night's contest went pretty well. The turnout was kind of small again, because there were two other contests the same night, but there were enough people to make it interesting.

We had a good team, with a diverse set of knowledge bases - which was a good thing, because the questions were medium-hard and demanded a good range of knowledge. (For example: the answer to the very first question was "The South Sea Bubble".) The topics were spread across the rounds - one question per topic per round - rather than the more usual one-topic-per-round setup.

One of the topics involved the moderator reading the last few lines of a novel; we had to identify the novel. (I got most of those: "The Great Gatsby", "Animal Farm", "Frankenstein", ....) Another ("Chanteuses") had the moderator playing a song and asking us to identify the singer. Another of our people is a musician, and he answered most of those: Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Minnie Pearl, .... Musicals, famous losers, people whose names were animal-names, remakes - good topics and tough questions. We won going away; our final score was 79/100, and the second place team only got 56 points.


Oct. 2nd, 2009 07:49 pm
stoutfellow: My summer look (Summer)
So it seems I'm going to a trivia contest tomorrow. It'll be the second one in two weeks.

Last week's was a rather small-scale event; there were only about ten teams. There was a twist to the category selection. We were given a list of about 32 topics, and allowed to buy tickets for drawings, before each round; the holder of the winning ticket had the right to name the topic for that round. It didn't always work to the winner's advantage, though....

Our team did fairly well. Some of the topics, we simply aced - "Animals of the World" and "World Capitals", for instance. (They didn't even do any of the hard ones - Vanuatu, or the FSM, or even Burkina Faso.) In others, we were lucky to get as many as five points (out of ten). With two rounds to go, we were a point out of first. Then disaster struck. Round nine was "The Disco Era". We scored one, count it, one point - and that point was our mulligan. (A mulligan is a declaration, "we don't know, but give us the point anyway". You can buy mulligan stickers ahead of time, but you can't use more than one mulligan per round.)

Round ten was "Comic Book Heroes and Villains", and we came roaring back. (I may have been the only person competing who knew what country Dr. Doom rules.) Ten for ten, good enough to tie for second.

We'll see what happens tomorrow.
stoutfellow: My summer look (Summer)
Sir Arthur Sullivan - as in "Gilbert and..." - was a notable composer of hymns; among his compositions are such well-known pieces as "Crown Him With Many Crowns", "Rock of Ages", "It Came Upon The Midnight Clear", "Nearer, My God, To Thee", and "Onward, Christian Soldiers".

I did not know this.
stoutfellow: (Ben)
So, last night I took part in a trivia contest. My team did pretty well; we finished fifth out of fifty-five tables - out of the money, but still very respectable. I didn't get home until nearly midnight, which is about par for the course.

These contests are as much social events as they are anything else; in particular, everybody brings food. I brought a bag of chips; the people who organized our table - and made up half of it - supplied two buckets of KFC and a gooey butter cake. (This morning brought me intermittent minor GI distress....) Beer and soda were supplied by the contest organizers.

There were also, as usual, other activities - a silent auction, door prize drawings, and so on; the big event was the auctioning off of time-shares in a vacation home in Ireland. (The man who initiated the contest is a history teacher at the local community college; he immigrated here from Ireland twenty-some years ago, and wanted to establish a scholarship for someone following the same path. The contest, with auxiliary activities, raised several thousand dollars.)

The contest itself was pretty good; the questions were reasonably hard, and there were some neat twists. Normally each round has a topic (these included "Ireland" and "Green"), but this time two rounds were "mystery topics"; each answer was a pointer towards the real topic, and naming that real topic was worth bonus points. (The first one had answers such as "lead", "Pistol Pete", "egg white", "billiards/pool", "Candlestick Park", and "the Green Berets". Our table didn't get the mystery topic, but it was groaningly obvious when it was announced.)

It was about as much fun as you can get for $15.
stoutfellow: (Murphy)
During the 1988 campaign season, the major Democratic candidates were derisively referred to as "Gary and the Seven Dwarfs". "Gary", of course, was Gary Hart of Colorado. Try as I might, I can only come up with six of the "dwarfs": Michael Dukakis, Paul Simon, Jesse Jackson, Dick Gephardt, Tom Harkin, and Al Gore Jr. Does anyone remember who number seven was? (Joe Biden?)
stoutfellow: Joker (Default)
The following popular singers have something in common, and share it with no others. There is a (rather obscure) hint somewhere in this post.

Jimi Hendrix; Janis Joplin; Otis Redding; Jim Morrison; Jim Croce; Bobby Darin.

Addendum: And we have a winner in comments, together with an explanation of the hint and the reason for the mood icon.


Apr. 12th, 2005 05:10 pm
stoutfellow: Joker (Default)
I'm curious to see if anyone out there can nail the answer to this one.

Below is a list of names which have something in common, and they are the only names with that common feature. The general topic is USAn history, and the names are given in order. (The inclusion of the last one is debatable.)

The names: Hiram; Stephen; Thomas; John; Leslie; William.

Anyone game?

Addendum: It's been answered correctly in comments, so if you want to think about it you might not want to look.


stoutfellow: Joker (Default)

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