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2018 October 30

One year later

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 21:57
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Those of you who’ve been following my blog for a while will remember that last year I had my whole head shaved for the St. Baldrick’s cancer-research fund-raiser.  They are doing the fundraiser again this year (on Nov 7), though I’m not participating this time.

I did not get my hair cut nor trim my beard for a full year (I did trim my mustache to keep it out of my mouth and shave my cheeks).  Here is what a year’s hair growth looks like:

A full year’s growth of hair.

Since getting this picture taken, I’ve gotten a haircut, but I’m still trying to decide what length to keep my beard. It can grow a bit longer without getting too scraggly, but not a lot longer. My wife is fine with it being anywhere from about 6-months’ to 18-months’ growth, as long as it remains neat.

So loyal readers, how much should I trim my beard?

2018 October 6

Cabrillo grant for Hispanics in CS

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 21:49
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The Santa Cruz Tech Beat article ETR awarded ‘CS For All’ NSF Grant – Cabrillo College, Digital NEST, Pajaro Valley Unified School District to Receive Funding reports on a new grant of almost a million dollars “to establish computer science and computational thinking pathways for K-14 students in south Santa Cruz County”. That is a good thing to support, and the south part of hte county certainly needs more money for education, so I’m all in favor of the grant and its goals.

But there was one quote from the article that I thought was a bit misleading:

“Research from Lopez & Fry demonstrates that while Latinos make up 19% of all U.S. college students ages 18- 24, they earn only 6% of Computer Science bachelor’s degrees,” said Gerlinde Brady, Dean of Career Technical Education at Cabrillo College. “Offering CS and CIS pathways to dual-enrolled high school students who earn college credit while in high school will increase their likelihood of enrolling in college and becoming CS and CIS majors.”

Those figures may be accurate on a national basis, but are they accurate locally?  I checked the UCSC major head counts for Fall 2017 (the 2018 ones aren’t available yet).  UCSC had an overall Hispanic undergrad enrollment of 27.6% (substantially higher than the 19% quoted), and CS had only 12.9% Hispanics, so there is definitely a gap.  Computer Engineering, however, had 24.9% Hispanics, and Computational Media (the department for the Game Design major) had 14.8% Hispanics.  Combining all three departments, we see 15.8%.  The ratio of Hispanics in CS+CE+CM to Hispanics at the University is 0.57—much better than the nationwide 0.33, but still under-representation in computing fields relative to the overall student population.

Of all the divisions at UCSC, engineering has the lowest representation of Hispanics (17.8%) and the highest of Asians (39.8%). Computer Science is 46.6% Asian undergraduate students, the highest of any department on campus, but the fraction of white students (24.9%) is lower than the campus as a whole (31.4%).

Interestingly, the whitest department on campus is Music at 55.8%.  In engineering, the whitest is Computational Media at 34%, in humanities—Literature at 47.4%, in physical and biological sciences—Earth and Planetary Science at 48.1%, and in social science—Environmental Studies at 48.2%.  The least-white department is Latin American and Latino Studies (3.6% white, 91.9% Hispanic).

Division International Asian-American Hispanic White
Arts 6.5% 19.3% 26.2% 37.4%
Engineering 8.4% 39.8% 17.8% 27.3%
Humanities 1.3% 14.0% 35.0% 40.8%
Physical+Biological Sciences 3.1% 29.0% 29.1% 32.3%
Social Sciences 5.7% 23.8% 33.5% 30.1%
Total 6.2% 27.7% 27.6% 31.4%

Totals aren’t 100%, because I left out four smaller categories of students.

A large part of the differences between divisions comes from the fraction of Asian-American and international (largely Chinese) students in each major, but even ignoring that and looking at just the Hispanic/White ratio, Engineering is low on Hispanic students, and computer science even lower.

Those were all head-count figures.  What if we look at graduation figures, which are what  the quote referred to. (These are for 2016–17, so are more an indication of what the campus was like 3–4 years ago—I would expect a somewhat different mix: probably a little whiter than the current mix.)

Division International Asian-American Hispanic White
Arts 0.7% 16.0% 33.8% 42.9%
Engineering 3.0% 36.6% 17.8% 33.3%
Humanities 1.0% 11.3% 37.3% 42.9%
Physical+Biological Sciences 1.6% 28.5% 25.9% 38.5%
Social Sciences 2.4% 22.8% 37.7% 30.9%
Total 2.0% 24.1% 31.9% 35.3%

The graduation figures are indeed a little whiter, but also more Hispanic (except in the STEM fields).   I suspect that the campus has gotten more Asian largely because admissions has gotten more selective as the number of applicants has grown faster than the number of students the campus admits (which in turn has grown far faster than the facilities for teaching or housing them).

2018 March 29

Regrowth: a return to normal

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 17:04
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As those who’ve been reading my blog for the past five months know, in October I had my head shaved as part of a fundraiser for pediatric cancer research, including my beard and my eyebrows.  (I believe that it is still possible to donate at

Since then, I’ve had a photograph taken about every two weeks, to record the regrowth of my beard and head hair, and my gradual return to a normal (for me) appearance.

Before getting shaved, this is what I looked like.

This is what I looked like right after the shaving, wearing the silly medal they gave me for the most funds raised at UCSC for St. Baldrick’s.

After 2 weeks there was some grey stubble on my chin and shorter brown stubble on top of my head.

After 4 weeks the grey beard began to look like an unsuccessful attempt at growing a beard, rather than just stubble.

After 6 weeks, the beard looked deliberate, but the hair on top of my head still looked like it had just been shorn off.

At nine weeks the beard looked more or less normal, though about as short as I’ve ever trimmed it. The pattern of white and dark hair in the beard stands in strong contrast to the uniformly dark hair on top of my head.

At eleven weeks, I dyed the beard to make the color contrast less, shaved my cheeks, and trimmed my mustache.

At thirteen weeks the beard looked ok, if a little scruffy and the head hair was starting to come back, though the “reverse Mohawk” stripe from front to back where they had shaved closer was still visible.

At fifteen weeks the beard dye was fading out (I use a dye that gradually washes out).

At seventeen weeks I had re-dyed the beard to match my head hair.

At 20 weeks the beard was pretty much back to normal (though still substantially shorter than what I started with), and the head hair was getting close to where I have it cut to at the beginning of a summer.

At twenty two weeks after the shaving, I re-dyed my beard yet again, in anticipation of the start of a new quarter. I expect to dye the beard about every 8–12 weeks, to keep it more or less coordinated with the hair on top of my head, instead of the white with darker stripes that can be seen in weeks 4–9.

2018 March 13

Cabrillo College Robotics

Filed under: Robotics — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 13:56
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I just donated to the Cabrillo College Robotics Club, to help them send students to the NASA Swarmathon this year:

I am not affiliated with Cabrillo College in any way (except as a resident of the county which they serve), but I’ve been impressed with their recent attempts to better serve the community, with an extensive Extension program of non-credit courses and a new Makerspace. So I look for small ways to support Cabrillo College.

The Cabrillo College Robotics Club looks like a good opportunity.They are trying to raise $7000 in a month, which may be difficult, given the resources available to community-college students.  The goal is to send the team to the NASA Swarmathon in April.  They won the 2016 NASA Swarmathon Virtual Challenge, and they are hoping to win the 2018 in-person competition this year, but first they need the funds to go there.

2017 October 25


Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 20:10
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In Shaving my head, I announced that I would be having my head shaved, but not my beard.

In Shaving my head (and maybe my beard), I offered to let my beard be shaved if the donations came up to $1000.

In Shaving my head, beard, and eyebrows, I announced that my head, beard, and eyebrows would be shaved, and that the next (and last) stretch goal would be shaving my chest hair.  That goal was not reached, so my chest hair is intact.

Here are some photos: before, during, and after the shaving:

This is what I looked like yesterday, before being shaved.

This is what I looked like after being shaved, wearing the silly medal they gave me for raising the most money at the UCSC event.

Just after I’ve been shaved. (photo by Kishwar Shafin)

Another shot of me being shaved (photo by Kishwar Shafin)

Being shaved. (Photo by Kishwar Shafin)

I was a little surprised by how much stubble they left me—it will save me a week on growing the beard back.  In the meantime, my wife has to put up with living with a stranger.

The pictures of me just after being shaved look to me more like my older brother than like me (he is naturally somewhat bald and stays clean-shaven).

I had to adjust the straps on my bicycle helmet before cycling home this evening—the helmet was a size or two too large without the hair and beard as padding.

On the walk home from dinner this evening, I noticed that I had the shadow of a stranger—I wonder who has my shadow.

With $2386 donated from 70 donors, the average donation was just over $30—it makes me feel a bit like Bernie, with lots of small donors!

Although the shaving event is over, you can still contribute to the campaign, either to express amusement at how I look, or (more importantly) to fund research into pediatric cancer, which does not get the research attention that adult cancers get from the government and major foundations.

The link for donating again:

With late donations, the total by 31 Oct 2017 was $2661 donated.  Thanks, everyone!

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