Saturday, August 28, 2010

I take notes, part III

Here's the next round of Professor Quotes, mostly leftover from last semester. There may be a couple repeats in the history section, but- I'm sure no one will mind.

***

The great Professor M., Western Civ I and II. He retired. I'm tragified. Every time I walk by his empty office, I try to imagine him traveling around the world making waspish comments, and it makes me feel a little better.

*

"Shut your book and listen. And take notes. Don't even bring your books to class. This is not grade-school. There aren't pictures to color in there, anymore."

*

"No leaving the classroom to go to the bathroom. I'm an old man. If I can hold it for an hour and fifteen, so can you. Most of the time you don't really have to go to the bathroom. You have to answer a call from your girlfriend or your drug dealer or someone."

*

"So, I've had a few people ask what year we're starting this course from. We're going by a timeline rather than specific dates. So no more, 'Do we study from what, year zero?'"

*

On the importance of the discoveries in the Iron Age:
"I mean, just think of the importance of these discoveries. We use roughly the same techniques to smelt iron ore, today. Think about it. What are our tanks made of- paper?"
"Actually, a lot of stuff gets made out of plastic, these days."
"I haven't heard of plastic internal combustion engines, and I wouldn't want one in my vehicle."

*

"So, what kind of natural resources did the ancient Mesopotamians and their surrounding neighbors have? I do not want to hear anyone say oil."

*

Chariot wheels were revolutionary in that they had spokes and were lightweight, as opposed to circles cut out of wood. He was trying to get us to guess this.
"What would the wheels need to be like?"
"Round?"
-.-

*

"So, the Hyksos attacked Egypt around 1650 B.C. and established an elite military aristocracy. Do they throw out priests and useful people? No. Only communists are that stupid."

*

"Now, I'm not going to ask you to memorize dates, generally speaking. There will be one or two. I do want you to remember general time frames, though, without getting bogged down. I do not want to hear, 'They're only 500 years apart!' That's like Christopher Columbus sailing across the ocean and introducing himeself to Bill Clinton!"

*

"While this ancient culture on Crete is fascinating, no one can decipher their writing. This creates problems even about naming them. Archaeologists call them the Minoans. We have no bloody idea what they called themselves."
"Cretins?"

*

"Now, Crete has a very different environment than Egypt and Mesopotamia. The island is about 2/3 mountains. It's easier to trade for grown food. There are, though, two things that they did have an abundance of."
"Christmas trees?" "Goats?"
"Grapes and olives, which were considered exotic. Exotic in the sense that you can't live totally off wine and olive oil."

*

"If you haven't looked at the clarifications of the definitions I posted online, you might want to do so before... December."

*

"Most people don't learn from anybody's mistakes, including their own."

*

"In 336, someone murdered Philip of Macedonia. Some Hollywood experts suggest Angelina Jolie did it."

*

handing back an exam:
"Some people didn't realize England is an island. Sometimes I wonder- is anything getting through?!"

*

"So, how do you keep a palaceful of aristocrats happy? You give them special privileges. You allow them to give you your shirt in the morning when you get dressed. You allow some of them to be in your presence. Or sit in your presence. On a stool, or a chair with a back, or a chair with a back and arms. -You think that's funny? You're exactly the same way. People these days will do anything for status. Who the hell is Tommy Hilfiger? I bet his shirts are made out of the same stuff, maybe at the same factories, as the ones that say Family Dollar Store. Or Ralph Lauren. His name used to be Ralph Lifshitz. Why doesn't he put that on his shirts? You think I'm making it up? The last class did. I'm not. Go look it up yourself. People will do anything these days for status."

*

while sketching a rough model of the solar system, a student asked,
"Will we have to know this for the test?"
"Well, if you don't know if Saturn or the Moon is closer to the Earth..."

*

"If your head was the size of a planet, and I threw this marker at it, the marker would fall under the forces of gravity exerted by your head. No offense, but your head doesn't have much mass."

*

on the development of constitutions:
"Obviously, no one would sign a contract that says, 'Make me a slave!' Well, maybe a few kinky people- but we're not talking about them."

*

on the paying of debts:
"But that's the way our country operates. Maybe the money will come from the moon!"

*

on mercantilism:
"Imagine what would happen if we didn't allow imports. What would I be driving? A Chevy Vega? A Ford Pinto with an exploding gas tank?"

*

"--I don't know why I'm writing PETER on the board. You should know how to spell it."

*

"Louis XVI was not a mean tyrant- he was a famously nice person. Not the brightest bulb in the chandelier. Not interested in politics. He really liked hunting and locksmithing. He would've happily spent his life killing animals and picking locks."

*

"You're not ignorant peasants, but you behave surprisingly like them sometimes."

*

"So, how did the aristocrats try to control the peasants?"
"By sending soldiers after them?"
"No. We're talking about all of France, here. That's like trying to kill mosquitoes with your car!"

*

"Now, by fraternity they didn't mean Greek organizations on college campuses."

*

"When the Habsburgs weren't fighting, they would intermarry."

*

"You don't just replace a king like a lightbulb."

*

"So, the Church was often a target of the enlightenment. The Church, they thought, got in the way of 'equality.' So they came up with something that they called the Church of the Supreme Being. Catholicism is outlawed. You have to believe that there's a Supreme Being and a soul that survives after death. And, the Supreme Being is a Jacobin. That's it. This is exactly what you could expect of a religion invented by a government committee."

*

"The 1801 Concordat with the Pope finally ended all the **** that had been going on about forcing people to choose between the Church and the government."

*

"So, Napoleon escapes from Elba in March of 1815. An army is sent to arrest him, and he stands up and tells them that if any of them want to kill him, to just go right on ahead. Now, one of them could've said, 'D--- right! You froze my butt at Moscow BAM!!!' But no one does."

*

"Napoleon comes to the conclusion that he won the battle of Waterloo. That's what politicians do, when they write their memoirs."

*

"Today, no one in Texas picks cotton by hand, unless you have a pet cotton plant in your backyard."

*

"The steam engine is first developed to pump out water from flooded coal mines. Unless you want to go snorkeling with a pickaxe."

*

on materialism:
"Nowadays, people have walk-in closets the size of my living room!"

*

"The way people talk about globalization, you'd think it started only 15 years ago."

*

a student doublechecks,
"There's no Prussia today... right?"

*

"As part of the bargain, the British get Malta, Crete, and Gibraltar. The British love islands!"

*

on Bessarabia:
"I'm somewhat reluctant to even mention it, because people will imagine it's somewhere near Mecca."

*

"William II does something else dangerous. He reads a book. Which is dangerous for some people to do."

*

"If you think terrorism was invented on September 11..."

*

the prof asks,
"Now, what would we do, if we were given an ultimatum like that?"
"We would scoff."

*

"If you even want to use thinking to describe the mental processes of William II."

*

"So, where will the French go if war is declared?"
"Paris?"
"The French are already in Paris."

*

"When people are being stupid, the hardest thing to do in the world is to make them be smart!"

*

"As a matter of fact, there is still a large amount of unexploded WWII ordnance in Belgium today. Their government has to collect it before it maims people. A lot of it is on their beaches. This tends to blow up tourists and teenagers who don't think history matters."

*

"They're not about to just go up and say, 'Hello, ve are de Germans, ve are going to sink you.'"

*

"Eric, would you get the door? Sam isn't here to perform the usual... duties."
"He never misses."
"Yeah- this is the first time."
"He must have a deadly illness."
"Ok, let's get started."

*

"I mean, the Mexican government does not take this seriously. The Germans can't even get to Paris. How are they going to get to El Paso?"

*

"Marxism is adhering to the ideas of not Groucho, but Karl, Marx.

*

"Now, Marx does not believe in utopian ideas. He does not think everyone will live happily with the Easter Bunny providing everything we want."

*

"I will tell you right off, I'm not a Marxist. There's a lot of moonshine in his appeal."

*

"Do you think that the rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer? If you believe that, you're halfway to being a Marxist, whether you know it or not."

*

"The Bolsheviks aren't really about to let just anyone in on the government. You don't want every Tom, Dick, and Ivan making decisions."

*

on Leon Trotsky:
"And who do you think was the leader of the Red Army?"
student in the back: "TOLSTOY!"
[This is the only time I ever heard the Prof genuinely laugh. I thought I was going to die, it was so funny...]

*

on the Versailles Peace Conference:
"Obviously they're not going to come up with a solution that actually works. That's the delusion of diplomats-- they think they can write something on a piece of paper."

*

on Hitler during WWI:
"He suffers just like everyone else. Well, he doesn't get killed, obviously, but..."

*

"Now, Nazi was just a nickname, something the newspapers used. Like Democrats and Dems. What self-respecting Democrat goes around saying, 'Hi, I'm a Dem.' No Nazi ever called himself a Nazi. Except American Nazis; they're too stupid."

*

"All human beings do dumb things; some just do dumber things on a bigger level than others."

*

to a tardy student who's a fan of the defeated ACC team:
"You're not late. You didn't lose the NIT, either."

*

"Most conspiracy theories are nonsense, but there's not always a way to prove them wrong. Just like the Da Vinci Code and other 'historical' books. There's not an iota of evidence to prove it. And that's why some people want to believe it."

*

"Now, don't imagine that the Germans were all appalled and shocked when Hitler came into power. No. They think Hitler is a Savior."

***

Statistics, Mr. M. Imagine a very tall man, so skeletally thin that he looks two-dimensional. Rawboned, gaunt, lefthanded, always wears either black, dead-blood red, gray, or shades of charcoal. His chin juts and nose is sharp and straight, making him almost Greco-Roman, which is helped by his close-cut, thin brown hair that curls slightly on his forehead. He would look natural in a tunic or toga.

*

"Don't move to Estonia; it's the least happy country in the world."

*

"So we have two- oh, I gave it away. How many samples do we have?"
"Two."
"At least you're listening."

*

"If that's a cellphone, turn it off. If it's just ambient music- that's fine."

*

at the school's fall festival, the professors and instructors had to stand on top of posts and beat each other off with padded foam sticks. This is jousting, apparently.
"So, come on this afternoon, watch me get... jousted. -Is that a word?"

*

"All right, so: quiz, attendance, homework, jousting..."

*

"So, why is this sample of happy and sad people not a very good one?"
"It doesn't have everyone in it?"
"I don't know what you mean."
"I dunno... some people might just be angry."

*

"Now I'm going to make up some numbers because I don't remember what the actual results were."

*

"It's much easier to catch mistakes when there's 30 people looking over your shoulder. You don't have that benefit on the test, though."

*

"Sometimes outliers can be disregarded. Like if I took a poll about how many first-cousins someone had and they said 263, you'd think oh, maybe they thought you meant second and third and fourth cousins. Or maybe just misheard and thought you wanted their weight."

*

"This is pretty obviously a left-skewed curve. It'd be more obvious if it was more even. Of course, you can't just randomly draw in higher bars where you need them."

*

"Problem 15? Ok. So we're going to draw a frequency distribution, here. In this column we're going to put the dead guys... and over here, the dead ladies... By the way, if any of you have ancestors who died on the Titanic, I apologize for my... cavalier treatment."

*

"So, looking at this data from the Titanic, about 25% of the female passengers die, and 80% of the male. What phrase comes to mind?"
"Learn How To Swim?"
"Um... actually, I was thinking of 'women and children first.' Apparently, that's really what they did."
"You could've just watched the movie."

*

a student asks,
"What if you were off by one percentage?"
"Well, you would fail the course, for one thing. -Just kidding."

*

"The mode isn't used as much, but it can come in handy when you're working with non-numerical data. Like if you were to ask a roomful of people what their favorite ethnic food was. I'd hate to think what the average of Mexican and Chinese food would be."

*

"61 was a record for homeruns for decades, until people started using steroids. Now the record is 73."

*

"First, turn on your calculator. Is everyone still with me?"

*

"Now, at this point, you have a lot of choices on the screen. If you're not sure, if you're staring at your calculator, and your calculator is staring back at you..."

*

"All right, let's have a quiz!"
[everyone panics]
"But not now..."
[he looks at the clock thoughtfully, and people relax a little]
"...in the last fifteen minutes of class."
[resigned sighs, muttered complaints]
"Next Monday."
[outrage at the cruelty of his little tactic. He did find out which people had studied and which hadn't. Except for me; I hadn't studied, but kept a stony face anyway. Of course, he probably remembers my record from last year, too.]

*

"Ok, so any more questions? Questions about the syllabus, homework, attendance? All right. We don't have anything else to talk about. Except, [with glee] statistics."

*

"This funky E-looking thing is a capital sigma."

*

"You might want to use the graphing calculator to do basic arithmetic as well, but you can probably figure that out for yourself."

***

More statistics, the rest of macroeconomics, and old music classes, coming soon...

Friday, August 20, 2010

Womanly Clothing, Part I

This is not a post in which I will rant about the state of women's clothing "fashion," but in which I will relate how I took action yesterday, for $3.39 and a couple hours.

The local Goodwill is the source of most of my clothing which I don't sew myself. Even with a good selection, it's not always easy to find things that will fit me- and lately I've taken to altering clothes to fit my particular shape.

I needed a plain white button-down blouse for summertime- without superfluous and useless pockets smack-dab in the middle, a constricting and wrinkly-tight bodice, or indecent neckline- to wear with skirts or beneath jumpers, and saved myself some time by not looking for something I knew I'd never find. Blouses are not difficult to sew, but between collars and buttonholing, they can take a while. I purchased a very generic long-sleeved white cotton dress shirt, and transformed it by hand into a modest, charming, and feminine summer blouse.
~*~*~*~
Figure 1. In which is shown the very generic long-sleeved white cotton dress shirt before alteration. Well, slightly after; the cuff is obviously removed. It was stuck back together to show its original aspect.Figure 2. In which the sleeve is removed from the bodice using a seam-ripper or manicure scissors, and the cuff is cut off carefully as close to its edge as possible.Figure 3. In which the seam down the sleeve is undone, and the material spread open.Figure 4. In which the material is ironed to ensure accurate measurements in Figure 5 (see Fig. 5).Figure 5. In which a desirable sleeve pattern is pinned to the old sleeve, taking note of the bias.Figure 6. Which shows the resulting pieces cut from the old sleeves.Figure 7. In which the scraps are displayed, from which shall be cut two sleeve bands, one of which is shown at bottom. The remnants may be used to cover buttons if desired. The cuffs are useless to this project, being the one part of the buffalo we do not end up using. They may be saved for the occasions in which one feels the urge to tear off one's shirt-cuffs and project them at an offender.Figure 8. In which a running-stitch is put at the top and bottom of the sleeve.Figure 9. In which the bottom of the sleeve is gathered to the length of the sleeveband and pinned accordingly.Figure 10. Which shows the sleeveband sewn firmly to the gathered sleeve.Figure 11. In which the bottom edge of the sleeveband is turned under and ironed.Figure 12. In which the ironed edge of the sleeveband is turned up and fastened with a whip-stitch, taking care to remain invisible to the right side of the garment.Figure 13. In which the two sides of the sleeve are sewn together. (N.B.- the seam at far right is the running-stitch from Fig. 8.)Figure 14. In which the sleeve is gathered, pinned to the armhole of the bodice, and fastened in place.Figure 15. Which shows the completed blouse against a rustic backdrop, with specimens of Rudbeckia and Leucanthemum. (N.B. The author wonders why undergarments cannot be advertised in like manner.)
~*~*~*~
I will post more picture-guides of affordable alterations and ideas. It is always nice for college students to have clothing options that cost only 1/38 of a single textbook's price. Someday I hope to be able to offer sewing classes to young women who would like to learn the simple techniques requisite for altering and constructing their own clothing.