November 17, 2005

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“What should I do with my life?”

What Should I Do With My Life?

The real meaning of success — and how to find it

Those who are lit by that passion are the object of envy among their peers and the subject of intense curiosity. They are the source of good ideas. They make the extra effort. They demonstrate the commitment. They are the ones who, day by day, will rescue this drifting ship. And they will be rewarded. With money, sure, and responsibility, undoubtedly. But with something even better too: the kind of satisfaction that comes with knowing your place in the world. We are sitting on a huge potential boom in productivity — if we could just get the square pegs out of the round holes.

Totally awesome. Read it. Then read it again. Then take a moment to
listen for that quiet whisper, that faint urge. =)


My ears hurt earlier. I guess Canadians have just adapted to the
weather by evolving thicker ears. Mine were almost icy! I am _so_
wearing something fluffy and warm tomorrow. Weather forecast was
-1..2’C, with flurries late. Meep.

Teaching reflections

Yesterday’s class session went well. FINALLY! I felt like I was
_really_ doing something. What made the difference?

  • Attendance. The professor emphasized the importance of the lab, so
    all the students showed up. The previous two lab saw half the seats
    empty, which distracted me a bit. A full house gave me more energy
    to work with and more questions to field during the lab portion.
  • Preparation. I remembered to tell students about the detailed lab
    handouts prepared by the previous teaching assistant. The students
    also spent some time working on the project, which gave them plenty
    of questions to ask.
  • Timing. The students had the theoretical background from the
    lecture _and_ the practical need for the tool (even if it was a
    need created by the project definition). The previous two lab
    sessions were a little too early, and the lack of theory and need
    confused the students. This time, though, everything fit.

That was the third time I’d covered roughly the same material, and the
difference really showed. I learned from my mistakes and a few brave
students’ questions, and I figured out what aspects I needed to focus
on in order to address their concerns.

I was supposed to introduce JESS, the Java Expert System Shell, but I
felt that focusing on Weka for the entire session would leave the
students with better understanding. That was a good call. There’s
enough time to briefly introduce JESS next session, anyway.

What can I do better next time? Preparation is something within my
control: always make sure that learning is motivated by something and
that students have written instructions that they can follow at their
own pace. Attendance and timing are things I can address with the
professor’s help. I’ll also take comfort in the fact that things get a
little easier the more I teach them, so I shouldn’t be too worried
when I completely bomb the first time I teach something! =)

Flash fiction: “Nine Lives to One”

In response to flashxer prompt:



NINE LIVES TO ONE (222 words)
Sacha Chua

Ninety years old and he was still like a child around cats—a mean,
cruel, nasty boy who kicked them and pulled their tails and ‘forgot’
to feed them. His wife loved the cats, but she loved him too, so she
overlooked his cruelties and snuck her little kitties catnip every so

But cats don’t forgive as easily, and they live for a long time.

Age took its toll on the man. He grew frailer and frailer. Bedridden,
he ranted and raved at his wife as she took care of him. She pretended
not to hear his insults.

The cats heard, though. They took to staring at him from the foot of
his bed, silent witnesses to the verbal abuse his wife endured. After
particularly bad nights, she’d find herself waking up to the purring
comfort of cats snuggling under her blanket or rubbing their tiny
faces against hers.

He sickened further, lungs heaving in the crisp night air, arms too
feeble to move.

The cats almost seemed to smile.

One day his wife found him staring straight up, rigid. Dead.

Suffocation, the doctors said. How he suffocated in that bare room, no
one could explain.

But the cats all purred, even the littlest ones as light as feathers
on the nose and mouth and chest of a weak old man…


You can tell when I’m procrastinating something big. I write more
flash fiction.