Newsletter for 1996

Chris Taylor---January 1996

[This is my fourth in my series of yearly newsletters. Be warned that much of the material in here is based on the assumption that you care about me. After all, I wrote it to people I care about.---CCT]

Dear Loving, Caring, Human Being,

Once again, it is the time of year when I string together a bunch of words and call it my annual newsletter. I have determined to reorder words from my previous three newsletters. Any additional words that were not found in the previous three newsletters will be shown in italics and will attest to my ever expanding vocabulary.

As was the case in 1994, 1995 has been another year of many firsts for me. I taught a full-fledged class, didn't use any soap products for one week straight, celebrated self proclaimed Canine Awareness Day, started dating, discovered that my social security number has only three prime factors, went to a bar, exterminated a fully functioning and alert fly with my bare foot, while in the library I was asked to read a book by an illiterate psychic[1], drove through Chicago (on I90 & I65) without touching the steering wheel with any part of my body above my waist, became so delirious while reading my class notes that I noticed the paragraph structure matched the outline of the state of Minnesota, had my toenails cut by someone I didn't know, was given a surprise final for which I had not studied, received an email message wishing me a happy birthday from a man (a complete stranger) who likes to wear skirts, and was offered a wheelchair ride through the Detroit airport.

1995 was also a year for a number of lasts. (I realize that this is a little dangerous. Since I don't know what the future holds, it may be a touch presumptuous to claim that I will never do these things again, but I am willing to take the risk. If you don't feel that you are able to do this, please skip to the next paragraph.) 1995 is the year in which I took my last math class, took my last qualifying exam, performed my last duties as a teaching assistant, and brushed my teeth for the last time... okay, I'm giving birth to a goat[2] about the last one. If you read my last newsletter, you can probably guess (okay, so I'm not very creative this year) that one of the above firsts or lasts[3] is not true. Your task, should you chose to accept it, is to read the rest of this letter carefully. You should pay particular attention to the presence or absence of the things mentioned or not mentioned above. Before you decide whether or not to accept this task, let me provide the following caution. Although you may feel fully able to dismiss this as a meaningless mental exercise, only by actually doing it will you be able to grasp the true height and depth of its meaninglessness. Are you really sure you want to settle for less?

Every year I am amazed at the graciousness of God in providing wonderful opportunities for living a fulfilling life. This year I am astounded. Although my physical growth has waned (READ: d/dt height = 0, d/dt weight = 0, d/dt waist < 0), I have had opportunities for growth spiritually, relationally, academically, intellectually, professionally, and emotionally.

I don't really know where to throw this in, so I'll get it out of the way here. Some of you may recall from my last newsletter that I had a chance to take my PhD Qualifier exam in January. Things went well enough[4] this time so you can stop holding your breath.

In the spring I met with around 70 students three times a week to tell them some of what I knew about Digital Logic Circuit Design. It was a great chance for me to get some actual experience teaching a real class. It also helped to confirm my desire to eventually find myself in an institution (an academic one, that is).

This summer I ended my teaching career at Purdue and began earning my bread and butter as a research assistant. We have seen some promising preliminary results in the halftoning work that I described in my last newsletter. I have also begun work on a new project that involves modeling the human visual system in order to be better able to predict image fidelity as perceived by a human (rather than a computer). I, along with a few others in my research group, have made a couple trips to Boise, ID to report on our research. It is here that I experienced my first bar... yawn.

I took two classes in 1995. In the spring I took a class in Vision from a psychology professor (who is working with us on the human visual system research project). In the fall semester I suffered through the last math course (Measure Theory) I ever intend to take. Sometime during the semester the class went over my head, but I was able to hold my breath until the end of the semester. (A semester that was cut short by three days due to a surprise final exam.[5]) Fortunately, it appears that the grade I received was based on my attendance. At some point during my final exam, I noticed that my notes for this course contained an outline of the state of Minnesota.

In March I was thrilled to learn that my social security number contained only three prime factors---that is, there are three prime numbers that when multiplied together produce my social security number. For some reason, most of my students were unable to experience the same level of awe when I announced this revelation. The awe seems inescapable when armed with the knowledge that 30,030 (a five digit number) has 6 prime factors while my social security number (a nine digit number) contains only three prime factors!

At the end of the spring semester I took advantage of the fact that I didn't have any finals in order to spend a couple weeks on the most dangerous highway in the US. I flew in to San Francisco and moved the odometer of someone's[6] nice new convertible from 5509.4 to 8795.3 driving up and down the coast of California. I spent one weekend hiking in the Sierra Nevada mountains with a friend who was co-oping for NASA north of LA. (There is a small reward for anyone who sends me the sock I lost in Fish Canyon.) The other weekend was spent with my brother in Yosemite National Park and San Francisco. A quote from my journal may provide some insight into what my mind does when left to itself for a period of a few days.

Thursday, May 4, 1995

Late in the afternoon I found myself thinking to myself in complete sentences. I guess that being an educated man, I was unable to force my knowledge of its unnecessariness to overcome the desire to form complete sentences. As far as I can tell, I typically don't think to myself in complete sentences. It just doesn't seem to be necessary. Either that or I don't bother to listen to what I am thinking most of the time. Anywho (to borrow a term from a conversation I overheard at the Detroit airport), the most annoying part about it was trying to stop it. I kept telling myself, "Stop talking to yourself." I couldn't give myself a command that wasn't a complete sentence. Even "Stop!" was a complete sentence. My subconscience had somehow mastered my intellect, and I wasn't too pleased.
The summer provided me with a host of new experiences. The most significant was shifting my focus from the Navigators (Navs) group which I had been involved with for the past three years to the Graduate InterVarsity (IV) group. During my third year at Purdue, I began to notice that I was not relating well with many of the Navs. Nearly all of those involved in Navs are undergraduates, and my age was beginning to take it's toll. At the beginning of this summer I chose to shift to the IV group. Although they gave me the wrong meeting place for the first meeting, I didn't take the hint and have been torturing them with my presence ever since. This has been a very good change for me. I have met a number of solid Christians who are dealing with similar stages of life. The fellowship has been great, and I have been encouraged by the Bible study with which I have been involved.

The relaxed pace of the summer allowed for my personal celebration of the First (and maybe last) Annual Allergy Awareness Week. The celebration consisted of abstaining from using any soap products (bar soap, shampoo, shaving cream, etc...). I also managed to step on a fully functioning and alert fly with my bare foot while reading a journal article on visual models.

Although this fall afforded opportunities to celebrate self proclaimed Canine Awareness Day (festivities included howling at our bell tower, visiting a restroom in every building I entered that day (and all the male restrooms in the EE building), and circling three times before sitting down (I wasn't able to remember this one every time, but I did do it when I went to class)), the most significant event for the fall was my genesis of dating activities. Yes, you read that correctly. After 22 years of "Please don't bother me with that", a few years of "I guess I should be getting on with that", and a couple months of "Hmmm... she seems interesting", I have begun dating. Who's the lucky person? Me of course. The other person involved is Catherine Pitts. Due to decisions made by the Committee on Appropriate Content for Newsletters (consisting of the royal we), I am unable to present an in depth description of her at this time. However, I can tell you that Catherine is from near Washington, DC and is working on a master's degree in Agronomy at Purdue. Further information may be made available upon personal request.

The final few stories aren't that interesting so let me just tell you that I was not approached by an illiterate psychic. That means that I did receive email from a guy who likes to wear skirts, I did have my toenails cut by someone[7] I didn't know, and was offered a wheelchair ride through the Detroit airport after asking where I could find a drinking fountain. Also, I managed to drive the last 200 miles (4 hours) of my trip back to Purdue[8] without touching the steering wheel with my hands or arms.

If you would like to hear the last paragraph of this newsletter, begin reading out loud.

Since I created my homepage in 1994, I have had 1,006,013 accesses on it. If you have access to the world wide web, feel free to take a look at my homepage. The URL is:

May your body always do what it is told,

Chris Taylor
525 Hayes St.
West Lafayette, IN 47906

[1] Her reasoning was that she could read my mind, but she couldn't read the book. If I read the book, she could read my mind and in essence, actually read the book. She called it "virtual reading".

[2] kidding

[3] The teeth brushing thing doesn't count.

[4] I passed it.

[5] It was a week long take home exam, but nevertheless, he gave it to us (and collected it) three days early.

[6] National Inta-Rent

[7] A doctor.

[8] This includes driving through Chicago.

May your tongue never sweat,

Chris Taylor ---

This letter is copyrighted 1996 and I (Christopher Taylor) retain this copyright. You may freely copy it as long as this copyright notice remains intact.