Wackiness Level: Red. Severe!
There'll be some physics stuff coming up soon-ish, once the Week From Hell ends. Also, as Trent Goulding has caught up to and passed me, I'll be updating the book log soon, so as not to look like a complete slacker.
Until then, though, I leave you with frivolity from the "Sidelights" section at Electrolite. I used to read Slate regularly, but it's fallen off my regular Web rotation unless someone points out a particularly good article. As Patrick did, linking to their travel series on visiting Japan.
This is a topic near to my heart, and the author, Seth Stevenson, does a really nice job describing his various adventures, and really nails some of the weirdness of being a Westerner in Japan. I particularly like this bit from Tuesday's entry on anime:
On the seatbacks in the express train to the airport, there is a three-panel cartoon strip. In Panel 1, a frog is reading a book to a tiny, humanoid hot dog. In Panel 2, the frog is driving a truck. In Panel 3, the frog is sitting on a suitcase, crying, while the hot dog looks on in dismay. What does this mean? I'm not sure. (This is a great thing about Japan. At least once a day you see something, or someone does something, and you cannot for the life of you figure out the purpose or meaning. It's refreshing, at times, to have no idea what's going on.)
Other good bits include musings on the lack of addresses in Tokyo ("[P]eople don't give you addresses here to find things (because there are no addresses). They give you schematics."), and reflections on eating in a whale-meat restaurant that strongly reminded me of my own experience at a place that served only eels. He also mentions ba-sashi (raw horse meat), which I had several times (it was the strangest thing on the menu at my regular Friday hangout, and other patrons would amuse themselves by sending me orders of horse sushi to see if I would eat it. It's not as bad as you might think.).
But enough of my yakkin'. Read the whole thing.
Apologies for the exceptional boringness lately. We've hit a really hellish stretch of the term, where I'm doing two weeks of a team-taught course in addition to my regular class. The two sets of lectures have essentially no common material, and they neatly bracket lunch Monday, Wednesday, and Friday (10:50-11:55 and 1:35-2:40), which means I've been running frantically all morning getting everything set up for both classes, and collapsing into a heap at about 3:00. Tuesday and Thursday have been only marginally less hectic, as I try to account for all my other responsibilities.
Last Wednesday was the absolute low point, as I had agreed to cover a colleague's class while he was out of town at a workshop. That class was at 8:20 in the morning, and had zero overlap with the other two, making for a tremendously fun day. I hope not to do that ever again.
This has been good for one thing, though: it's given me new respect for my father, who spent thirty-odd years teaching public school. I'm ready to fall over after teaching three classes of college students-- he spent thirty years teching the equivalent of five or six classes a day to sixth graders, five days a week. The mind boggles.
Really, anybody who wants to pop off about the Eeeevil teacher's unions and how they're the source of all the problems in education today ought to be forced to teach two classes a day for a week. It's a real eye-opener...