February 23rd, 2009

bsg gaius

It's Math Contest Week!

This is the crazy Math Contest week for me.

Monday: no contests, but prepping for Math League and seeing if I can score a buzzer system somewhere. And sending out a bunch of math contest related email. And making some flyers/packets for competitions later in the week.

Tuesday: Math League competition at the local elementary school. I've been running the competition for many years. About 80-90 kids in 4th-6th grades usually participate. Luckily, I'm often able to scare up some help scoring contests.

Wednesday: Nothing during the day, but in the evening I'll be visiting the group based at UC Davis that's prepping for the ARML competition. I want to check it out so I can refer local high school kids to it.

Thursday: Math League competition at the middle school (maybe up to 90 kids in this one). Hopefully I'll have grading help with this one. Also, some final prep for the weekend competition.

Friday: No contests, but probably a lot of scoring of contests. There's also a low-key bouldering competition at the climbing place Friday night and A wants to go (partially because they have pizza afterwards). No math involved there.

Saturday: MathCounts regional competition at CSUS. The middle school team is going, and I'll also be helping the competition by running the Countdown contest.

It's definitely a week of numbers. After Saturday's contest, I'll hopefully make it down to Potlatch. Details as the week progresses.
bruce willis

the ups and downs of Las Vegas

The kids were off from school last week (winter break, they say), so we decided to take a small family vacation. We enjoyed Vegas the last time we went, so we decided to head there again.

Ups:

- The Shows. We're not gamblers, nor are we late night club-goers. So the main draw for us is the shows, especially after we discovered the joy of the Tickets 4 Less booth. You can get that night's shows for a discount around 40%. We saw "Ka" (Cirque du Soliel), Blue Man Group, and Penn and Teller. All were really enjoyable. The stage pieces of "Ka", giant chunks of stage that were on a control mechanism and could be rotated and moved and tilted, were astounding.

- The Spectacle. Vegas is a spectacle: lights, buildings, people, events. It wasn't as OMG as it was the first time, but it was still impressive. Mini NY, Mini Paris, massive mirrored buildings, fake pyramids, fake gardens. The place is constantly evolving and constantly under construction and it's mind-boggling to think how they manage to pull it all off. Is there really *that* much gambling/shopping/show/tourist money? Apparently so.

- The Variety of People. Walk down the street and you can hear a dozen different accents and languages. Marvelous. I liked talking to the folks who keep the town running: cab drivers, cleaning people, etc. All of them are from somewhere else and have a story to tell.

- The Scenery. It was crystal clear and cool at night. Our room had a view of the mountains, sprinkled with snow. Couldn't see any stars (see Spectacle above), but still impressive when you were outside.

Downs:

- Injury. I sprained my left index finger taking off my socks one night. Totally lame, that was.

- The Mass of People. People everywhere, all the time. We were constantly working our way through masses of people to get anywhere. Yeah, I know, it's a tourist town.

- Smoke. Specifically, cigarette smoke. Yeah, it's Vegas, but after a while we just got tired of it especially if you're anywhere inside. I forget how spoiled I am to live in California where a small minority (10-15%) smokes. Now I remember.

- Cost. Everything is expensive. Much more expensive. $10 for latte and scone at Starbucks. $15 for a burrito. $3 for a soda. The cheapest meal we ate all week was at the AM-PM mini mart. $5 for a soda and two hot dogs. Now I know how Vegas affords all the Spectacle.

- Twisting, Winding Paths. It's impossible to go between two places in a straight line. Anywhere you want to go you have to wind through things, especially in the casinos. I understand why, but it gets really really irritating after a while, because between the twisting paths and the mass of people it takes forever to get anywhere.

- The Sense of Rushed Desperation. I got the sense that everyone was walking around feeling desperate, desperate to have a good time, desperate that there would be an experience to remember, desperate that their lives might just change forever in the casino, in the club, on the street. Everyone is in a hurry for this to happen, so there's a lot of casual rudeness. Just try using a crosswalk when the cars don't have to stop. You get many dirty looks, if people even look at you instead of nearly running you over.

Overall, I think I'm done with Vegas for a while. Next vacation, perhaps we'll head out to the country. Or, if we want to do shows and see a city, San Francisco. Not much cheaper, but no flight involved!

This time, Vegas left me feeling a little depressed. And that's not exactly what you want out of a vacation.

But I will say, again, that the shows were fun and the set piece work in "Ka" was awesome. Even if I had absolutely no idea what was going on.

Some pictures to follow, in another post.
bald man thinking

read a story a day: Feb 16-22, 2009

Monday Feb 16 - Sunday Feb 22, 2009
Total: 15 stories (0 Flash, 0 for crit groups, 0 in novel)
Top Favorites: "The Chance"; "Locked In"; "Lion Walk"

Stories Read:
"The Chance" by Susan Wardle, Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet #23 [favorite of issue]
"In the Name of the Mother" by Jodi Lynn Villers, Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet #23
"Holden Caulfield Doesn't Love Me" by Daniel Lanza, Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet #23
"A Wizard of MapQuest" by Alex Wilson, Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet #23
"Marie and Roland" by Kirstin Allio, Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet #23
"Ana's Tag" by William Alexander, Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet #23
"The Leap" by Mark Rich, Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet #23
"The Girl with No Hands" by Angela Slatter, Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet #23
"The New York Times At Special Bargain Rates" by Stephen King, F&SF Oct/Nov 2008
"The Gunslinger of Chelem" by Lavie Tidhar, Apex Digest #9 (2007)
"Locked In" by Mary Robinette Kowal, Apex Digest #9 (2007)
"At the 24-Hour" by William F. Nolan, Apex Digest #9 (2007)
"Lion Walk" by Mary Rosenblum, Asimov's Jan 2009
"Bridesicle" by Will McIntosh, Asimov's Jan 2009
"Unintended Behavior" by Nancy Kress, Asimov's Jan 2009

Being on vacation means you get more time to read, especially on the airplane. Finished off the latest LCRW, cracked a superstar lineup F&SF and a nice Apex, and started in on the January Asimov's.

Found several things I enjoyed, including a well-done flash piece by Mary Robinette Kowal, "Locked In" that had a beginning, middle, and end, something you don't often find in flash. "Lion Walk" had a great sense of place and a very appealing character, along with a solid mystery. "The Chance" was a nifty post-something-alyptic tale of people trying to make something good happen out of remnants of the past.
yeff yahoo avatar

tweets for the day

(Posted here for reference. At twitter, I'm "yeff")

  • 06:33 6 AM is, indeed, early. Vacation is definitely over. #
  • 06:50 time to get the kids moving and make breakfast and lunches #
  • 12:25 short lunch/email break, with burrito and birthday cookies at work. Yum! #
  • 17:11 leaving work to get kid, go to grocery store, and go home! #
  • 20:50 as per @MaryRobinette @BethWodzinski, Shimmer is open for submissions! Time for me to whip *that* story into shape. You know, *that* one. #
  • 22:03 email, math contest prep, story revision (eventually), stuff like that... #
  • 22:04 @JeremiahTolbert You're going to try out for a spot in the Blue Man Group. #
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bald man thinking

My 2009 Hugo Nominations

I just entered in my Hugo nominations. Here they are, for perusal, discussion, or derision.

My reading really tailed off about halfway through the year, so my nominations are really stilted towards work that appeared in the first half of 2008. I look forward to the full nominations, so I can discover things I missed.

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