Robert Watts: Changing Attire to Get Respect in the College Classroom

Robert Watts experimented with wearing beautiful suits every day to work this year and here is what happened to his undergraduate classes.

Classes this year seemed more relaxed, in the best sense of word. Student discussions have been livelier, and comments and questions have seemed more probing and sincere. Where I had thought the suit would create distance, it turns out it has created more trust. Of course, these judgments are uncertain as students change, classes change, and how I act in the classroom is always changing.

In the fall term, I had a record number of students come to office hours for help with papers. These students had the best attitude toward revision suggestions of any students I have ever taught. They didn’t resist or object. They brought questions and sought help.

R2-D2 Observatory Conversion: Star Wars Stargazing

A bunch of hackers planned an elaborate prank. They decided to convert their campus astronomy building into a giant R2-D2. All in all, it looks awesome!

r2d2 star wars building prank fun minnesota carleton college

Read more @ Technabob

The Term Paper Artist

Nick Mamatas tells his story. He’s a term paper writer. He writes term papers for people. He’s partially financed his house thanks to this trade. (via cf)


For some reaon, after having seen the disapointing College, I really wanted to see Superbad again. I managed to watch it last night. It was hilarious. The dialogue between Seth and Evan was priceless. McLovin rocked and Seth drawing penises was great. If I have time, I’ll try watching Old School again.

Crescendo C2 Maximus: A Table that Adjusts to Your Needs


All spaces, especially home offices, need a signature piece of furniture. Something that catches the eye and sets the space apart from all those dreary gray cubicles. In our opinion, even in a modern, technological, gadget obsessed world there’s always a place for large chunks of handcrafted wood. The Crescendo is such a piece. It can fit in either an ultra-modern workspace or a low-tech artist studio. Simple, elegant, and minimal. Something designers, and those who love them, strive for…

Another post I wrote for Unplggd…

Numerical Linear Algebra Assignment

I’m almost done. I’d say about 70%. It’s due on Friday. I spent 6 hours coding with Matlab. I watched the final project presentations of the guys finishing this year. I took some photos.

Confessions On The Storytree

My roommate is a smoker. I barely notice. He smokes a lot less than before. I’ve known my roommate for over 15 years, which is surprising to say the least that we happened to be rooming together for the last few months.

This made me think about other roommate smokers, some of them weren’t as careful as my present one. During my first semester at Sherbrooke University in 1995, I stayed in the dorms. Since I was an undergrad, I was bunking with someone in a double. It wasn’t the best arrangement, since he was a bit strange. Really strange. He was from the Maritimes, but his strange acts are another story.

The next semester, I was off on a paid internship for an aluminum smelter near Quebec. The following semester, I decided to rent a place extremely close to the university with one of my good friends named Ken. He’s an anglophone and in engineering and we got along well together. We signed a one year lease. The big perk was that the apartment was actually closer to my faculty building than the school dorms.

Amazing. It was called Le Montagnais.

Ken was a smoker, but he never smoked inside. He always smoked outside. I was a non-smoker and absolutely abhorred smoking. I hated smelling smoke on my clothes. But we had clear rules for our guests. There were numerous adventures during out stay there.

I was at the apartment off and on since every four months, I had another paid internship. As with all roommate situations, there was also the switching of the rooms which was important to us. One room was a big room. The other room was smaller. We switched periodically. This was common sense.

From time to time, Ken would also get to leave on paid internships. This was what our university was well-known for. I don’t know if this was good or bad, since a lot of undergrads decided to leave before they finished school when they got job offers from the places where they completed their internships. The most coveted internships were at Softimage, a special effects house in Montreal, and in Japan.

It had always been my goal to try and go to Japan on an internship, but things changed as time passed. My interest in Computer Science was stifled when I had my first Machine programming class. Lisp didn’t really help matters either. I changed majors and started in Mathematics, a subject which I had always loved and initially wanted to pursue but didn’t since I thought that there weren’t that many jobs in that field.

It was the duty of the leaving roommate to find a replacement roommate for the apartment. I remember clearly that once I had trouble finding one. I don’t remember when it was, but the only person that I could find was a hard-core smoker, who smoked everyday and he had told us that he would smoke inside. I had put him on my very short list since it was hard finding someone else. In the end, I didn’t find anyone else. So hard-core smoker became Ken’s roommate. Ken wasn’t happy, but there was nothing I could do. The only other option was for me to continue paying half of the rent, while I paid my own rent in Montreal. That didn’t really work.

So the hard-core smoker moved in and Ken told me that it wasn’t a pleasant experience. Then again, Ken was also a smoker so it must not have been that bad.

End Of Semester Nerves

It’s gettting towards the end of the semester here in Quebec, and I’m getting antsy.

I’ve got an oral presentation tomorrow in one of my classes, but I’m getting nervous. I’m not that nervous, since I have taught groups of 30 4th graders, but still… I’m a bit nervous. This morning, I woke up at around 6AM, unable to sleep anymore. I think that I was tossing and turning since 5AM.

Part of the day was taken up by coding our last homework in Numerical Analysis. My partner was absent, so I coded for a few hours by myself. I’ve been told that he’s completed his part and I’m anxious to combine them. The assignment is due on Friday.

I’ve got a small test on Thursday in Analysis I. I want to take most of the evening to study. Since I only start classes at 10:30AM, I’ll have part of the morning as well. The test is on mathematical series. It’s perfect practice for the exam next

I’m still amazed at the whole CamelBak and Crystal Castles incidents on my blog. I’d like to say that the Crystal Castles isn’t really my business, though I commented on it and based my opinions from other sources. I’d just like to mention that I’ve been listening to Crystal Castles non-stop since I posted my blog, so maybe that means there is no bad promotion, right? (I really like their music too!)

Google Summer Of Code Redux

Well I managed to squeeze in three full proposals for Google Summer of Code. I don’t know if I will be successful. It was pretty stressful trying to finish the last one on time. Next year, I’ll prepare my proposals well in advance.

I just finished a term paper for Teaching College Mathematics. I should get a good grade. I’ve been writing it for about a month. All that’s left is to create a power point and practice my oral presentation.

I’ve got two last assignments left to finish for the end of the semester. One is due next week and the other is due at the end of the term. On top of that, I’ve got four exams in two days during the last week of class.

I took some photos yesterday. I hadn’t notice that my camera was set-up for night shots. I took ISO 400 shots in sunny weather. They didn’t turn out too well.

Spring is finally here! We’ve lost a few feet of snow already and I’ve ditched my thermal pro insulation layer.

Range On The Storytree

Range At Citizen Cain Taipei, Taiwan

Photo by Jo Rees.

I’ve had my nickname since I was 6 years old. It’s followed me like an indelible mark across two continents.

When I started studying at the École Internationale Schumann on Rue Vauban in Strasbourg, France, I fit in like a glove. Without really knowing it, I was in the midst of diplomats’ sons and daughters. I liked school. I learned cursive writing, the phonetic alphabet. I had German classes. I learned French in about a month. It was pretty quick. I can remember a time when I was learning the language. With the help of other German speaking kids, learning French was easy. At least that’s the way it seemed.

A year later, my parents switched me wisely into advanced English classes. This was unheard of, but years later I could see the wisdom of this. I learned English pretty much the same way that I learned French, without really noticing.

I knew that by the time that I arrived in Quebec in 1986, I was fluent in German, English and French.

Back in Strasbourg, I had this bunch of friends. We all had nicknames. I was aptly called “Le Range“. My nickname had three of the six letters of my real name. I thought that it was cool and adopted it. Back then, it was pronounced the French way, resembling the pronunciation of orange.

I can definitely remember the kissing game we played at age 8 or 9 with the girls of our class. Camille, Hélène and especially Estelle happily joined in.

In 1986 I arrived in Quebec. My bliss at school wasn’t bliss anymore. The kids in Quebec laughed at me because I had a French accent. On top of that, I was a brownie. I was the only non Caucasian in the school and the middle class neighborhood of Cap-Rouge. Primary school wasn’t a happy time. I did make some great friends, some of them I still have today.

Even Germany was less racist that Quebec. I didn’t feel racism in Heidelberg or Strasbourg. Only Quebec. It’s been a constant companion in my life ever since. My regret and sorrow at being yanked away from my friends two times in a few years was palpable. I’ve never really discussed this with anyone. Deep in my heart, I still feel a bit of resentment at my parents for having done this to me.


It took me about 6 months to lose my French accent. In fifth grade, I had a full Quebecois accent. It always surprises the pure-laine Quebecers when I speak.

Secondary school was better, but not great. I was a bit of an outsider since once again I was the only non-Caucasian in a private Catholic secondary school.

By the time I started college, I was rebelling. I had long hair, a beard and listened to heavy metal. I was still doing well in school, but not as well as my parents expected me to do. In the end, I moved out of my parents house at the age of 18 to go to university in Sherbrooke. My parents supported me for a full semester before I started my paid internships in Computer Science and paid the rest of the way myself.

Through all of this, Range followed me. My nickname has been pronounced the English way ever since I arrived in Quebec. It became my DJ name when I started DJing in 1998. A reason for this was that I was really easy to find with my real name. I like the partial anonymity of using my nickname.