November 23, 2005

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Reflections on the lab

([[[[2005.11.23#2]]]] [[[[teaching#5]]]] [[[[TeachingReflections#23]]]])

I discussed the grading scheme for the Decision Support Systems class
today. One of the good things about being a teaching assistant is that
you get to see work by lots of students, turning up a lot of good
ideas in the process. <grin> I showed off a project that got
perfect marks from me because it was well-thought-out and creative.
All students worked on a Microsoft Excel decision support system for
investments. (Yes, I spent a small chunk of my life showing how to
make Microsoft Excel do strange things.) I particularly liked that
project because the group made an effort to adapt the interface to the
personality of the user, and they also coded a simulation that
randomized the ups and downs of each investment according to its
volatility. That was cool. =) Nice graphs, nice user interface.

As for project 2: I’m a little concerned about the spread of the
class. Some of the students have finished their project already. They
either leave the class after my explanations or continue working on
their other projects. Others are just now asking me about little
details I thought I pointed out a number of times in the past few
weeks. Hmmm. I wonder if this has anything to do with attendance or
seating arrangements, or the fact that I taught a slightly different
mix of things in a slightly different way each time I went over the
basics (thrice!). The students who experimented a bit on their own
seemed to do very well, but then students like that almost always do.

Cook or Die

The dearth of recent CookOrDie posts doesn’t mean I’ve figured out how
to cook consistently well. Rather, it means that I just haven’t been
blogging much. <sheepish grin> Diane reminded me that some
people find my narrow escapes from food poisoning actually _amusing._
Sickos. ;b Well, that’s not what she said, but I’ll take the hind.

I have so far managed to survive my cooking. I consider that one of my
major accomplishments. This is what I’ve survived this week:

Bean soup—no, bean heap

I _meant_ to prepare bean soup last Friday: a nice, warm, nutritious
meal before we headed off to Pride and Prejudice. Soup mix, lots of
water, a bit of chicken stock powder for flavor. I left it simmering,
covered, and set the stove alarm to go off after the time indicated on
the soup mix packet. I then went to my room to talk to my research
supervisor over Skype. By the time I checked on it again, all the
water had evaporated. Oops! I quickly threw in more water, pushed it
around a bit, then turned off the heat.

Verdict: Still palatable. Pleasantly crunchy and textured, even. Needs
a bit more flavor. Probably better in small portions.

Almost-lemon dill chicken

One of the suitemates bought too much dill, so I searched the Net for
recipes involving dill and I settled on lemon dill chicken. I
remembered to buy the chicken, but I forgot to buy lemons. Oops. So I
reached for the nearest liquids: olive oil and balsamic vinegar. (What
was I thinking about? French bread?!) I mixed the oil and vinegar with
garlic and dill along the lines of the original recipe. I dunked the
chicken in the mixture and broiled the chicken again according to the
recipe. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the chicken actually
got cooked, although I wish I had seasoned it with something slightly
more flavorful (salt and pepper?) or marinated it or something like

Verdict: Edible. A bit bland.

Too-dry rice

Oops. I put in too little water when I cooked rice.

Verdict: So far I’ve come up with several ways to use very dry rice.
=) Butter helps a bit. Heat helps a bit. Mixing it in with everything
else helps a bit.

Garlic fried rice

Doesn’t quite work yet. I probably should’ve added the rice before the
garlic browned. Maybe even at the same time?

Tomato, onion and cheese omelette

I’m getting better at these omelettes. =) This one was okay, too. I
sauteed the onions before making the omelette because I didn’t feel
like biting into crunchy raw onion at the time. Might be fun making a
salsa omelette, though.

Leftover stirfry

Chopped up remnants of that weird chicken thing + green beans I’d
nearly forgotten about + carrots I’d forgotten about + too-dry rice +
a generous pinch of ginisa mix + a couple of splashes of soy sauce =
some kind of leftover stirfry which will do in a pinch.

Rabbit-impersonation day

I bought a bag of Caesar salad mix reasoning that a head of lettuce is
intimidatingly large and that the ridiculous markup they have on
convenience mixes like that was worth it just to see if I could
happily eat veggies. I think it was meant for two servings as a main
dish. I ended up finishing the entire thing. I guess that’s a good
thing. Oh, Mom and Kathy will be pleased to know that I now eat Caesar
salad with dressing.

Life continues. If nothing else, I’m cultivating better resistance to
bad cooking. ;)