Sunday, September 30, 2012

Visitors

Last week Cassie, Marissa, and Natalie came to visit for a week.

We started off the trip by backpacking in the Grand Canyon. This was an awesome experience. We hiked Grandview Trail to Horseshoe Mesa. It was a grueling, steep, rocky 3 miles and 2500 vertical feet from the rim to the campsite. Then it was an additional 3/4 mile to Page Spring, the nearest water source.








View of Horseshoe Mesa (Flat green area shaped like a horseshoe) from the Rim. Yes we hiked that far!

The rest of the week was much more relaxing. Dinner at Pita Jungle (a truly Flagstaffean restaurant), plate-sized cinnamon rolls, chillin downtown, minigolf, pool, ping pong, hot tub at the resort.






Sunday, September 16, 2012

Teaching

This semester I'm teaching STA 270 Applied Statistics. It's definitely a step up from the class I taught last year in several ways. First, it's quite a bit more work (or a step up in the number of hours I spend preparing for class.) The class I taught last year was very structured. We pretty much were provided a day by day summary of what material we were supposed to cover and were provided weekly quizzes over whatever we were supposed to cover that week. 270, however, is not as structured. We were given a book and told to cover chapters 1-11. And that was it! It's completely up to each instructor how in depth to go with the material, what to skip, and how much time we spend on each topic. Secondly, it's much more fun! Last year I had to cover topics like the equation of a line. You know, y = mx + b. We also did some elementary graph theory. This year it's all statistics, all the time! Thirdly, the caliber of students is a little higher. Last year I had 80-90% freshman. Freshman sort of get a bad rap for being irresponsible and unprepared, which is not far from the truth. This year I have very few freshman and quite a few upperclassmen. This is nice because by the time you are a Junior or Senior in college you know how things work. You know you need to go to class, turn in your homework, etc. Upperclassmen tend to participate in class more, have learned that instructors like it when people laugh at their nerdy math jokes, and don't just stare at the instructor looking terrified.

I am giving the first exam in my classes next week. Here are some review problems I created. Number 6 was inspired by Luke!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Nibbly Buckwheat Cookies

I saw this recipe a few months back and have been wanting to make it ever since. I made several modifications, notably using different flours and adding cranberries and nuts.






They were pretty easy to make. Standard cookie dough then roll into a log and refrigerate. When chilled, take them out and slice and bake. The result is a delicious shortbread-like cookie with bits of chocolate, cranberries, and nuts. Yum!

Nibbly Buckwheat Cookies

3/4 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 cup rye flour
1/8 cup flaxseed meal (ground flaxseeds)
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chopped dried cranberries
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Whisk flours (and flax) together in a medium bowl. Set aside. In a medium bowl, beat the butter with the sugar and salt for about 1 minute, until smooth and creamy but not fluffy. Mix in the cranberries, walnuts, chocolate and vanilla. Add the flours and mix just until incorporated. Scrape the dough into a mass and, if necessary, knead it with your hands a few times, just until smooth.

Form the dough into a 12 by 2 inch log. Wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or, preferably overnight. 

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Line the baking sheets with parchment paper.

Use a sharp knife to cut the cold dough log into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Place the cookies at least 1 1/2 inches apart on the baking sheets.

Bake until the cookie are just beginning to color at the edges, 12 to 14 minutes, rotating the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through the baking. Cool the cookies in the pans on a rack, or slide the parchment liners carefully onto the rack to free up the pans. Let cool completely. The cookies are delicious fresh but even better the next day. They can be stored in an airtight container for at least one month.

Makes forty-eight 2 1/2-inch cookies.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Video Tour II: New Year New Place

This is another video tour. I moved to a new apartment and it's really nice. I mostly wanted to show it off :)

One thing I forgot to mention in the tour is our washer/dryer. It's one unit that both washes and dries. It's pretty bizarre. I thought about redoing the video, but it started raining so I decided not to.

I like living here so much more than where I lived last year. It's nice just having one roommate rather than three. My roommates name is Laura. She's getting a masters degree in literature and is a graduate teaching assistant (like me!) that teaches English classes (not like me!) I think it will be a great year.

video