This is HUGE

Holy crap. As announced earlier this evening, every single graduate of Kalamazoo Public Schools who has been a student for four years or more (i.e., went to a KPS high school for four years and graduated) will be provided a college scholarship to any public institution of higher learning in Michigan.

This is just HUGE.

Update: Check out The Kalamazoo Promise @ KPS.

Update2: The Detroit Free Press now has a story, and apparently this made the "Today" show on NBC this morning.

posted on 10 November 2005 at 21560 commentstrackback

Now That's Motivation

Various commentators are often heard wondering why the U.S. education system is in such poor shape, and pundits around the country are constantly offering ways to fix it.

Did anyone stop to think that maybe, just maybe, the problem isn't the system?

Anupam Kumar and his family would probably say it isn't the American educational system that's the problem. It's the kids in it. See, when you live in a land where college is practically guaranteed, where you still see the possibility of making a decent living without a college degree, you don't feel the pressure of having to succeed in school at all costs.

My peers in high school would have done well to study this story of Anupam Kumar and give it some serious thought.

posted on 25 June 2005 at 09360 commentstrackback

Essays For Sale

From the "gee i never woulda thought of that and it's such a giant surprise" department, Techdirt is reporting that most essays for sale online are "just plain bad". Of course, there are also starving improv comedians who are willing to perpetrate all sorts of hilarity on the scum of the earth who would dare to perpetuate such a crime against academia.

Do your own work, you lazy sonsabitches. If you just want the piece of paper, I have a couple thousand spams here that describe how to get a de.6ree from a pr3stig.i0us un1.vers1.ty for only $50. Bonus: you save mommy and daddy a hundred grand, or you get a hundred grand you can spend on booze and E.

Yes, I graduated from college, and did a year of Ph. D. work besides.

No, I'm not the least bit resentful toward people who act like the world owes their drunk asses a degree.

Why do you ask?

posted on 07 April 2005 at 03110 commentstrackback

Why I Didn't Become a Teacher

Because I just know I would have ended up like this guy.

(via Dave Barry)

posted on 18 February 2005 at 17580 commentstrackback

Cool Aircraft Accident of the Month

Not that this really has anything to do with school, but...yeah.

I started reading NTSB accident reports about three weeks ago, sort of as an armchair speculator to see how well I could determine a cause from the preliminary report, and partly because as a pilot, I now have a morbid fascination with how (and in what manner) people manage to break airplanes.

A cargo-configured 747-100 wins the Cool Accident of the Month Award for losing an engine over Lake Michigan.

posted on 31 October 2004 at 21410 commentstrackback

It Wasn't Me

I'm fine. I wasn't in the Cessna 206 that crashed over at Herlong today. You can stop worrying now.

The plane, carrying skydivers for Skydive Jacksonville, crashed shortly after takeoff from Herlong, which is still closed. The runway where the plane crashed will remain closed until the FAA and NTSB finish their investigation of the crash site. One person was killed and five others seriously injured. The NTSB has not yet published a preliminary report, but I'll link it when they do.

posted on 30 October 2004 at 23340 commentstrackback

Why I Love Flying

I love flying because I get to see cool stuff like the last launch of an Atlas 2 rocket from the air. Oh, and the sunset last night was spectacular, too. As was the moonrise. As was just about everything else about the flight.

Did I mention I love flying?

posted on 01 September 2004 at 12540 commentstrackback

Why I'm Glad High School is Over

I was just talking with my cousin, who's a senior in high school, on IM, and she told me she's in health class with a bunch of freshmen, all of whom are incredibly annoying and shallow.

Not that this should surprise anyone.

But, well, here, let her tell you:

our health teacher asked us if we made any new friends this week, everyone said yes, then he asked us what we look for in a person when we are trying to make friends....the usual things came up, friendly, nice, good sense of humor......then there is silence and he asks if there is anythiing else and this one STUPID IMMATURE SHALLOW FRESHMAN says, "well i look at the type of clothes they are wearing, if they are wearing the same type of clothes than me than i think, maybe we shop at the same places and maybe shes like me so we could like you know be friends."

Yeah. I would have been struggling to stay in my chair, to say nothing of how difficult it would have been for me not to laugh out loud at that girl.

Oh, and it gets better. Apparently Jackie, from That 70s Show, is also in her class:

this other girl was like, "i look for people who will give me this girl over here who gave me a hair tie"

Now, can't you all just picture the teacher saying this (his actual response, in fact) to the first girl:

" look for things you common."

posted on 21 August 2004 at 16200 commentstrackback

Atlanta, Here I Come

The blog will be taking at least a day off whilst I fly up to Atlanta to deliver some computers tomorrow. No idea when I'll be back, but it's only a three-hour flight one way, so it should be well before dark.

posted on 13 July 2004 at 16110 commentstrackback

Hi, I'm Chris, and I Fly Airplanes

Let the ladies take notice.

(Just kidding.)

But I did indeed pass my checkride with flying colours, so yours truly is now an FAA-certificated private pilot in single-engine land airplanes.

Due to an administrative mix-up, my instructor and I flew down to St. Augustine at 0715 yesterday and waited at the airport for the examiner to show up. At about 0815 he called his "home office" at the airport and said, "I'm up here in Jacksonville. Where are you guys?"


So we hopped back in the plane and beat feet back to Craig, and my checkride got started an hour late. But darnit, I coulda slept in!

Ironically enough, the one thing I wasn't satisfied with on the checkride was my first simulated engine-out landing, which is the one thing I had never had problems with in training. Go figure.

posted on 12 July 2004 at 09590 commentstrackback

Lake City Shuttle Departing in 15 Minutes...

I have to burn 10 hours of solo cross-country time in the next five days. Well, I did before yesterday. Having completed three round trips from Craig (KCRG) to Lake City (KLCQ) in the last 36 hours, I've accounted for 4.9 hours of that time. Anyone want to fly over to Lake City again? I think I could about fly this route in my sleep now.

Oh, and cruising at 7500 feet is wicked fun. It just takes for freakin' ever to get there!

Checkride next Friday...wish me luck...

posted on 03 July 2004 at 13390 commentstrackback

Clear the Sky!

If I hadn't been so busy and with Bluetooth-only Internet access earlier this week, this would have been posted sooner...

I had my first solo flight last Tuesday, at Fernandina Beach Municipal Airport (55J for those of you tracking airport identifiers). Wahoo!

Sicne then, I've been doing lots of Jax-area and SE Georgia cross country flying. As of yesterday, my logbook shows 31.2 hours total time, with 101 takeoffs and landings. (Yes, I've been doing a lot of pattern work.)

Always remember: takeoffs are optional. Landings are mandatory.

posted on 27 June 2004 at 15080 commentstrackback

Step One

After three hours at the doctor's office, some minor mix-ups, including someone losing my audiogram, which it later turned out didn't matter anyway, I am now the proud holder of an FAA first-class medical and student pilot certificate.

Oh, and my vision is better than 20/20 in each eye, nyah nyah nyah.

posted on 24 March 2004 at 20220 commentstrackback

Would You Like Fries With That?

I only ask because some student-athletes at the University of Georgia might be getting really familiar with that phrase. That's the phrase they're going to need after they "graduate," if they graduate.

See, in the fall of 2001, former UGA men's assistant basketball coach (and son of head coach Jim Harrick, Sr.) Jim Harrick, Jr. was teaching a class entitled "Coaching Principles and Strategies of Basketball." Three scholarship members of the men's basketball team were in the class, and all three were given a grade of A, despite being allowed to miss several class sessions AND the final exam.

The very difficult final exam.

Consisting of multiple-choice questions like "How many points does a 3-point field goal count for in a Basketball Game?" or "How many halves are in a college basketball game."

This was a real final exam, in a real college class, for real college credit, at a real accredited college. These real grades are going on real college transcripts and will contribute to people getting real degrees.

Does this bother anyone else?

posted on 03 March 2004 at 23340 commentstrackback

Things Not To Do

Here at the University of Michigan, we have an e-mail alias for all the graduate students in the chemistry department. This gets used for seminar announcements, "anyone got [whatever] chemical" queries, etc.

About half an hour before lunch today, though, this came in:

Date: Thu, 26 Jun 2003 11:23:45 -0400 (EDT)
From: Matthew James Kidd <>
Subject: Mustard for Sandwich

Hi, I made a sandwich today (roast beef), and I forgot to put mustard on it. Does anyone have any mustard that I could borrow? I'm getting really hungry, since lunchtime is fast approaching.

Sorry about the mass email.


Some of the more amusing suggestions heard around the lab:

Let's hang onto the e-mail for a month and all reply 'No' at the end of July.

Ask him if a mustard-coloured chemical would be an acceptable substitute.

Reply with a comment about how much mustard sucks.

posted on 26 June 2003 at 16460 commentstrackback


Well, got my group meeting methodology presentation out of the way. There's a nice weight off my back.

Now if only I wasn't so damn bored for the next few hours before I go to bed...

posted on 25 June 2003 at 22550 commentstrackback

Real Genius

Ever seen that movie? It's a must-see for any grad student, or potential grad student. But I really hope I never turn into this guy...

posted on 06 April 2003 at 00150 commentstrackback

And Now the Wait Begins

The Supreme Court heard arguments in the two University of Michigan affirmative action suits today. A decision is expected "by late June," according to CNN.

Hint to protesters on both sides: the nine judges on the Supreme Court don't give a damn what you say, so shut the hell up for the next three months. OK?

posted on 02 April 2003 at 00240 commentstrackback


Only chemistry folks will truly appreciate this, but it's funny so I'm posting it.

We had to grade a Chem 125 exam this evening, and one of the reactions they had to discuss was a redox reaction between tin(iv) (as the chloride salt solution) and cobalt metal, which produces (reduced) tin(ii) and (oxidised) cobalt(ii). The chloride ions are spectators, obviously. Well, a certain rather significant subset of the students apparently don't understand the concepts of a net ionic equation and spectator ions. So we had a lot of students writing some sort of reaction that gave cobalt(ii) chloride as a product in aqueous solution.

Problem is, a significant fraction of these don't write elemental symbols with particular care, which means their cobalt atoms look more like carbonyl (CO) ligands, or, in the case of elemental cobalt (Co), carbon monoxide (CO).

The observant reader can probably predict where this is about to go. Cobalt(ii) chloride, if written carelessly, looks like this:


Anyone remember the little segment of Square One Television, the great math series on PBS in the late 1980s, that was called Oops!, and "brought to you by erasers," of course? Yeah, well, oops. Let's just say that if these students - and the overwhelming majority of them are pre-med and engineering - ordered some of the above chemical, better known as phosgene gas, instead of cobalt(ii) chloride, or accidentally ingested some, well, I wouldn't want to be anywhere in the immediate vicinity. Melting lungs are not a pretty sight, and in addition to hydrolysing to produce copious hydrochloric acid in the lungs, the other byproduct of aqueous phosgene decomposition is (drum roll please) ... carbon monoxide.

Is anyone really surprised that phosgene was used by the Germans in World War I as a chemical agent?

I'm going to have to remind my students to be more attentive to their handwriting in the future. Then again, we did get a great laugh out of some of the rather preposterous answers to that test question. I didn't know CO(s) had a +2 charge...then again, I didn't know Ag3+ or Cl4- ions existed (or were good reducing agents!), either.

posted on 12 March 2003 at 01200 commentstrackback