Monday, January 28, 2008

I Love Teaching

To be completely honest, I very much enjoy teaching, and the possibility of teaching smart college kids undergrad econ in the future is about 90% of my motivation to finish grad school (feeling like I'm DONE and the freedom to think about whatever the heck I want all day--the NFL draft-- make up the other 10%. Oh yeah, plus inertia and fear of getting a real job.)

I don't think I ever posted about how bad my student reviews were after teaching a semester at my undergrad school, but they were pretty bad. (Favorite phrase: "The most arrogant and heartless teacher I've had in my life.") I scored lower on every single question than the university average, the Econ average, and the Econ 110 average. I got over it (it has been a year and a half) but I just discovered a new source of ratings when I googled myself that made me sad all over again, especially because I'm just starting a new teaching (TA) job. Oh well. I'll just keep reminding myself that (a) there's a bias in the sample because only people with really strong opinions are likely to bother making comments, and (b) nobody's going to call the chair of the department and say "Wow, thanks, you hired a cool guy!" Only the complainers call and complain, the complimenters complimented me immediately after class and said they appreciated the Belle & Sebastian reference.

Oh, and if you follow that link, I have a rebuttal for all of the claims: I totally didn't swear in class more than once ("To hell with it.") Yes, I made a reference to Fast Times at Ridgemont High on the first day of class by telling them on the first day they could call me "Teacher Dude." (This part is mostly my fault as I came off deliberately curt the first day because I knew that my style would offend some people regardless of how civil I tried to be, so I hoped to maybe encourage some very sensitive students to take the class at another time. I probably overdid it and scared some of them half to death.) And if reading Karl Popper's definition of scientific from the book Conjectures and Refutations (something that's not falsifiable) and then mentioning in passing that religion, art, and music aren't scientific but don't necessarily need to be counts as "encouraging [them] to question [their] religion," well then, I'm guilty. ANYWAY, I guess the true test will be to see how my ratings turn out after this semester.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Only 935 Lies

Apparently the Bush administration lied only 935 times in the run-up to the Iraq war.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Here Goes Nothing

Ran maybe 20 miles in the rain today, then ran a bunch of errands, also in the rain. I was hoping to have something interesting to say today since school is starting tomorrow, but going to IKEA doesn't lend itself to meaningful pronouncements (although you would totally love my new POS bookshelf) and I haven't finished either of the books I'm reading (Dawkins--The God Delusion, Pollan--Omnivore's Dilemma) so I won't say anything about them yet.

But, yep, school starts tomorrow. I've been out for three semesters. Anybody think it'll go any better this time? I'd like to say "yeah, me neither" here, but I am sort of actually thinking it might. It seems like I might actually be able to handle the Law & Economics field, and that I might actually enjoy it. Pigs might also fly, but we'll have to see.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


These sentences are cool. Probably even cooler than palindromes, and possibly even cooler than funny limericks.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Don't Tase Me, Bro

Today at work I learned that the Don't Tase Me, Bro kid was tased not because he was being obnoxious, and not because police are sometimes big jerks, but because he was trying to expose the truth about a massive conspiracy in which John Kerry colluded with George Bush in order to get Bush re-elected. I also learned that 9/11 was an inside job, but the biggest lesson of the day was that I much prefer it when people base their beliefs on facts and evidence as opposed to, well, nothing. Also, using Occam's Razor and common sense are pretty cool.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Football Controls My Emotions

Virginia Tech got blown out, then the Redskins got blown out, then Ohio State got blown out again, and now Joe Gibbs is retiring. I suppose Cal did win their bowl game, but going 7-6 isn't much to get excited about. Now with the possible exception of March, I suppose I'll just be bored until September. I'll try to keep it in perspective that it also really sucks that two of the foreign countries I've been to most recently (Pakistan, Kenya) seem to be falling apart. Perhaps I should also focus on the positive--when I visited my brother in North Carolina, I discovered the three Christensen brothers actually do have something in common: we all love football.

On a much happier note, Pacence, a friend of mine from the Appalachian Trail, stopped by on Sunday. I hadn't seen him since the trail in '02, so we had a lot of catching up to do. He's been traveling almost non-stop since then, and it was really nice to be able to talk to someone with the same sense of adventure/searching/flirting with running away to Alaska/wanderlust.

Friday, January 04, 2008

CDT Photos Are Up

I finally put up photos and video from my CDT hike. Pictures and video from the CDT hike itself are here, and photos from the road-trip home can be found on my Picasa page.

Apostacy and Pregnancy

Here's what my beard and my new hat look like. Occasionally people ask when I started the beard, and I say August 9. Then sometimes they ask "This August?" I'm pretty happy that I can produce such awesome bushiness, but it's not that bushy.
Here's a few pics from my Christmas Day run from the Embarcadero to the top of Mt. Tamalpais and back. I think it was about 42 miles.
Me and my friend John that ran the part through the city with me

Yes, even 3 years after the election, I'm still wearing the same running shirt.

The top of Tamalpais

The view from the top

The day after Christmas I rode Amtrak to Utah. It was pleasant enough. It would be better in summer with longer daylight hours so you could see more. I had fun in Utah, except for when the missionaries randomly knocked on my friend Paul's door, refused to engage in idle non-religious chit-chat, preferred to discuss my past in detail, said things like "how long has it been since you apostatized?" and "I'm sure I've studied [this] more than you," and sorely tested my resolve not to slam the door on them. But the next day I almost peed my pants because I was laughing so hard, because my friend Elisa prank called Marcus' younger brother pretending to be his ex-girlfriend. She said she'd been stalking him and that she was pregnant, and then asked him "Are you opposed to being a father to another man's child?" She totally sold it.

Then I went to North Carolina and hung out with my brother and his wife. We hiked in the park that the Umstead 100 is in, played with their dogs (confirming my suspicions that I should totally get one, although it likely won't be for a while), ate good food, and watched a bunch of movies:
Transformers--loved it. My disbelief was fully suspended.
Ocean's Thirteen--decent enough, nothing new or special
Simpsons--maybe it was my bro's HD TV, but I did enjoy the better animation, although the story could've somehow been more epic, perhaps by including every single character ever to appear in any episode or something ridiculous like that.
Half Nelson--very good
The Kingdom--much better than I rottentomatoes-expected, but I love this sort of action thing
Hot Fuzz--absolutely hilarious
Zodiac--good and creepy, especially since I live in the Bay Area
Ray--good, but too long
The Lookout--pretty good, interesting premise
Shooter--disappointing. Perhaps it's obvious that it's bad, but I had faith in Antoine Fuqua.

I also saw Knocked Up while in Utah, which was pretty good.

Well, now I've had my post-CDT movie binge that I've been craving and I can go back to normal.