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September 21st, 2004

The NCSU library...

Our TIGR meeting was canceled today, with no reason given, but I have no complaint.

We had an area outing from 11:00 -- 3:00 out at the rec center today, which was very fun. We had lunch (catered BBQ Pork and Vegetarian Lasagna, complete with all the trimmings, including banana pudding for dessert), then played some games.

One of the games was a water balloon toss, and Ranjan and I got charged with filling the balloons with water. This was not a fun task. First of all, the balloons were tiny. We had to go to the restroom in the rec center to fill them up.

The first few tore when I stretched the end of the balloon over the faucet, because the balloon was so tiny that its opening could only precariously be stretched so wide. Every once in a while, one would have a hole in it, too, so as soon as water got down in it, it started streaming out into the sink.

I couldn't tie the balloons because of how small they were and how fat my fingers are, so we "updated the process" so that I filled them and Ranjan tied them. My fingers were cramping by the end. Fortunately, Ranjan's a pleasure to work with, so that made it as much fun as it could be.

After eating, we divided up into teams, which were determined by the number (or letter in the case of the jack, queen, or king) on a playing card you were handed. All the ones were on one team, all the twos on the next, etc. I was a King, though some would have argued a queen. Let's just say my card was a king.

I was on Sam's team (who I got to know during my month-long stint in Irvine for IBM), and the "contest" was to see which team could construct the highest structure out of a bag of gummi bears and a box of toothpicks.

We couldn't open the bag or the box at first. We had two minutes of "planning" time, where we discussed what our strategy would be, and then with the ringing of a bell, our three minutes building time began.

Let's just say that gummi bears are not anything like glue or cement. We had such grand plans, none of which worked out. Our team did not win. However, I ate a lot of gummi bears. They were pretty decent in spite of being Food Lion brand. The winners, whose structure was approximately 7" high, received gift certificates to BlockBuster.

Next on the agenda was "Mingle Bingo." Each team got a "bingo card" that had things on it like, "Has at least 2 patents," "Has no siblings," "Owns a motorcycle," "Has published a book or a story," etc. We had to walk around and find people who met a particular criteria and put their name in that square. Only one person to one square -- that is, if someone had both published a story and had no siblings, you couldn't put that person's name down for both.

The first team to complete a "straight bingo" got a prize, and then we continued on for "blackout bingo." The two winning teams read the items from their cards so we got to learn a lot about a lot of people.

The next game on the agenda was the balloon toss. We each picked a partner, picked up a water balloon, and went out on the lawn area. We started with two lines, partners across from each other about three feet apart, all the balloons on one side. When signalled, we each tossed the balloon to our partner, and then they tossed it back assuming it didn't break on the way over. Everyone who still had a balloon took a step backward, and so it continued. It was really quite surprising how far apart the partners of the two remaining teams got before disaster struck one of them.

Being the ambitious crowd that we are, we were ahead of schedule as far as the planned games went, so they added one more. We took our playing card, the one that had been used to divide us into teams, and we lined up. A prize was awarded to the person who could "flick" their card the furthest. Most of them just flapped sideways and landed within three feet of us (mine included). Only one, two, or three at the most went any distance at all, and one went way the hell out -- the clear winner.

That was the final planned game with the rest of the time alloted to either play board games, play an organized kickball game, or play tennis if you wanted to.

Kickball was interesting for a couple of reasons. When Debbie and I went into the rec center to get the ball we had reserved, she said, "That's it? It's much smaller than I remember a kickball being." We laughed that it was probably because we're bigger, not that the ball is any smaller. Debbie and I took the ball up to the shelter and Rich came up, saw the ball, and said, "Wow that's a lot smaller than I remember a kickball being." LOL

The other thing about kickball was that I had forgotten how to play it. I mean when I heard the word "kickball," I thought, oh yeah, we used to play that. In my mind, though, I was thinking about Dodgeball, and started wondering how kickball differed.

When it came time to play, a bunch of folks headed over to the softball field, and I watched as the "pitcher" bent over and rolled the ball to the "batter" who actually "kicked" a home run on the first kick. It all came crashing back to me. Funny how childhood memories can be "kicked" off like that. What fun.

I joked that all the Information Developers (tech writers) had to sit and play Scrabble, one of the board games available for playing.

I ended up playing tennis with Sam and Henry. I was delighted that my racquet was in my trunk. Sam and I hit some while Henry changed. When he arrived we hit some, the three of us, for a little while. Then we played Canadian Doubles, which I ended up winning 10 - 7 - 0. Henry had 7; Sam had zero.

Sam left to play some basketball, and Henry and I played singles for a while. We quit at 4-2 his lead.

At home, I finished my reading assignment for Dr. Dicks' class, and wrote up my question/discussion/observation item for the night. It was on mentoring.

I got to class with just about two minutes to spare. When I walked in, Lars said, "Nice color shirt." It always surprises me when anybody says anything complimentary about clothing to me, and it made me wonder if there wasn't a big old bleached out spot on it or something.

I didn't enjoy class tonight. Too many people asked lame questions about our assignment. I've seen this as a trend in grad school so far. Right before an assignment is due people ask a gazillion questions about it, with a lot of it being, basically, "hey, can you do the work for me."

I guess I'm a little impatient with this particular class, too, though, because it's all stuff that I pretty much know from working in information development for so long. The students asked a lot of questions that if they'd been in the real world at all they wouldn't have asked (that I don't hold against them), but the real annoying part is that they're asking questions that don't have black or white answers, but that's the kind they want.

From class, I went to the library. The NCSU library continues to really, really impress me. I went to the reserves section, where Susan has put two books on reserve for our class this semester. One of them I own, the other one is that $77 book that I returned. I'm going to try just going there to read the sections we need to read, and take notes.

Since it was my first time using the reserves, I waited to ask one of the attendants in that area (are they all librarians?) how the books were organized. There were two attendants there, and both of them were handing laptops to the people they were serving. I found out that while you're there, you can check out a laptop to use -- with wireless capability, to use anywhere in the library, and that there are certain areas that are "hot spots," and for those areas that aren't they give you a cable to connect to the LAN with! How cool is that?

That will be the last time I takes notes in a pad while I'm there! I had 45 pages to read, but only got through 15 of them in a little over an hour. I took copious notes, but that rate has got to improve, or I'm going to have to buy that book.

At home, I worked on my Compensation Plan assignment that is due on Thursday. I got an email from Susan -- she is still sick and won't be able to meet for my conference tomorrow night. I plan to call her at 7:30 and do it over the phone.

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