Week 1, Day 2

From the classroom: We had another student drop today, due to a family emergency. That makes a total of two. This is a fairly strict program: students are allowed only two absences all summer. We may get two replacements tomorrow, but after that it’s probably too late to begin. We are moving at a very quick pace. We cover much the same material as a first semester college Computer Science course.

Students have all different levels of ability. We have three students who are struggling mightily. One is due to a language barrier, I suspect. If English is a second language for a student, learning a technical subject can be very difficult. As it turns out, technical English is very different from social English, so a student who is socially fluent may not be fluent technically, even if they have way above average math skills. I’m not sure where the difference lies. It may be because although we often use the same terms to describe the relationships both culturally and technically, the technical meaning is often both different and more precise. (Cf. the use of the term “regular” in the next paragraph.)

On the other hand, in the “draw a square” computer lab, many students went beyond drawing just a square and moved on to modify their programs to draw regular polygons with any number of sides, and even further to draw  pinwheels with rainbow colors.

My TAs continue to amaze and delight me by just handling things. Student absent? Handled. Software not installed? Handled. Fifteen extra minutes before lunch? Handled.

From the rest of the city: Chicago is a city of smells. I remember Paris being a city of smells also, but the odors were different. Here’s a list of some of the smells I’ve noticed walking and riding around in the last two days:

  • Sour dough rising. Bruno’s Bakery is about a block and a half from here, and I walk past it nearly daily. It is reported to have some of the best sour dough rye in the city. Sadly, it’s open only 10 to 5, and I am working or commuting beyond those hours.
  • Dog poo
  • Good coffee
  • Maple bacon doughnut – OK I may have stopped at Jackalope Coffee Shop for those last two.
  • Diesel exhaust
  • Really nice perfume – kind of citrusy and spicy – like a citrus curry.
  • Body smell – not unpleasant, just body
  • French fries
  • Mexican food
  • Pot
  • A cherry cigar
  • Seaweed
  • Train smoke
  • Grilled hot dogs and hamburgers
  • AXE body spray. Kind of a lot of it for that early in the morning.
  • Wild flowers – there is prairie restoration going on in a nearby park, and the flowers are amazing.

Trumpery: (that is my new favorite for today – look it up)

  • Dogs are very quiet here. Walk past a fenced dog in Connecticut, and it will bark. I’ve walked past several here who haven’t made a peep. They barely look up.
  • There are a lot more interracial relationships here: friendships, romances, marriages.
  • Even with public transit and a bike, I walk a whole lot.

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