MonthOctober 2007

a busier than expected fall, so far

I kind of thought that this fall was going to be easy. You know, maybe not as worry-free as the summer in Berlin, but certainly mellower than the insane write-a-paper, pass-a-qual, get-married spring I had. I guess it is, a bit.

This semester I’m a TA for the first (and, in all likelyhood, only) time. The class is James’ graphics class. So far, I’ve actually had a lot of fun. I find myself looking forward to office hours and discussion sections. It’s a totally different ball game than what Leslie had to go through teaching: I can ignore the students who don’t care, no one talks during class, and for the most part people actually want to be there. Granted, mostly they are interested in their grade, but occasionally I can distract them with some interesting chunk of knowledge, and that’s pretty satisfying. Also, it turns out that it’s not too hard to be a much better TA than most–so I tend to get positive feedback.

The downside is that I’ve probably been spending far too much time with my TA hat on and not enough time doing research. I’m on the home stretch now, and if I actually want to graduate in the spring I’ve got to keep the ball rolling as much as possible on writing my thesis (and hopefully one more paper). The job I do as a TA, beyond fulfilling the requirment, is kind of immaterial. It has been fun to work through the assignments, though. For example, I wrote a ray tracer along with the rest of the class just to keep their questions fresh in my mind, so I get to make silly pictures like this again:

raytraced ellipsoids

Leslie is out of town again, sigh. At least this time I’ll be gone for part of the time as well; I’m leaving on Sunday for a conference in Seattle to give the talk on my tet paper. It’s at one of those fancy W hotels, so that should be fun.

I’m also taking my very last final class ever this semester. It’s a class on solid modeling, meaning designing actual solid objects that could be made. The best part is that we get to print the parts out on the 3D printer in the mechanical engineering building. It’s pretty cool… one step closer to The Diamond Age every day.

Last weekend we had a blast celebrating Doug’s birthday with Fedexed-in BBQ from the County Line and, the next day, a surprise trip to the local renaissance fair:

renaissance fair fun

Hopefully things will settle down a bit after the beginning of November, when we’re treating ourselves to a weekend trip to see Ali and Karen in Ann Arbor.

dancing tetrahedra

It’s not as glorious as my smoke videos of old perhaps, but I’ve finally got some decent video of my current research work. What’ you’re seeing is a tetrahedral mesh of a cube with the tetrahedra (pyramids) colored according to their quality. As the quality improves, their colors shift toward green, and when they’re good enough, they disappear. At the bottom right is a histogram of qualities for the entire mesh. Should be a fun little clip to show when I give the talk at the International Meshing Roundtable in Seattle in a couple of weeks.

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