Archive for September, 2008

Obama – Biden visit to UMW the night before

Friday, September 26th, 2008

We went to the UMW campus in Fredericksburg tonight to see the arrangements in place for the visit by Obama and Biden tomorrow, on Saturday. We were there a little after 7 PM and it looked like there was still a bit of last-minute work being done.

Ball circle has been transformed from a large open space to one divided into areas for the press, a podium with stadium seating behind, and a contained region for the crowds. There is a very large US flag on the front of Ball Hall. 

Estimates tonight are for 10,000 or more even with the forecast for rain. It looks like there is a relatively small area around the podium. The podium is in front of Virginia Hall and facing Ball Hall. See the map at

As you face the podium there is a larger open area on the left. Rented fences all around Ball Circle. It looks like they are going to try to contain the crowd in there, or maybe they will fill the area first and then remove the fencing. The term barricade might be better to describe the fencing. See

Questions my students ask me (1)

Monday, September 8th, 2008

ruins at arlesI’ve been giving my students the opportunity to ask me questions using an online form.  It seems natural to turn this into a series where I can post the questions and answers.  So here goes.

From students in Introduction to Computer Science, CPSC 110.

questions For Ackermann: How long have you been teaching? Have you always taught at a college level? What is your favorite thing to do outside of class?

I taught HS from Jan – June 1969, and then I taught at Rhode Island College from Sept 1969 – May 1970. That settled it for me. I wanted to do nothing else except teach at a college. I returned to Penn State and got a PhD in Mathematics. I taught mathematics at Muhlenberg College form 1974 – 1978, I taught Computer Science at Gustavus Adolphus College form 1978 – 1980, and came here in 1980. So I’ve been teaching at colleges for about 35 years. Wow! That’s a long time. (Thanks for reminding me how old I am 🙂 )
Outside of class I like to ride my bike, garden, cook, and hang out with my family. unfortunately our kids live in Brooklyn and we don’t get to see them that much.
questions For Ackermann: Will our tests be on paper or taken on computers?

 On paper.

questions For Ackermann: What is your favorite type of cereal?

Homemade Crunchy Granola
2 3/4 cups rolled oats
lots of other nuts and seeds, 1/4 cup each. I use walnuts, pecans, almonds, pistachios, cashews, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds & sesame seeds. 
2 tbls oil (I use olive oil), 1/4 cup honey, 1/4 cup peanut butter, 1/4 tsp vanilla. Heat these together until they are all soft & blended.
Mix this with the oats, nuts  & seeds
Put it all on a cookie sheet and heat slowly with frequent attention at 350-375
All ingredients should be organic and fair-trade where possible.

questions For Ackermann: With python are you able to write programs that have visual aspects and are you able to create a simple game with it?

 Heck yeah. We’ll be doing graphics in chapter 5.
I copied your question to a friend & former student who is a software developer in California. He said “ I’ve used in C++ before, but there’s a python interface to it too.”