The 2014 end-of-year department potluck holiday party (right) and CSE Holiday Skits took place Friday, December 12, and the mood was predictably festive. After the party in CSE, faculty, students and staff crowded into the Calit2 Auditorium to watch their colleagues poke fun of the department, Chez Bob (redubbed CHE Bob in honor of the late great Che Cafe), and above all, two recurring themes: the variation in temperatures throughout the CSE Building (primarily freezing), which necessitated establishment of a faculty Committee on Really Cold Conference Rooms; and the impoliteness of groups who continually interrupt previous groups because their conference room reservation time has expired.
The staff portion of the event was the CSE Staff Pop Medley 2014. The nicely produced video featured staffers smiling, dancing (sort of) and singing off-key to hip-hop lyrics highlighting the difficulties everyone faces in getting their work done in the hurly-burly atmosphere of a dynamic academic department. Special kudos to Jennifer Folkestad who opened the video singing and playing her ukulele -- but her lips and strumming were out of sync, so it looked like a badly dubbed Bollywood film (without the dancing), but it set an irreverent tone that the rest of her staff colleagues echoed.
The second set of skits were put on by CSE students -- some of them wearing faculty masks. "Alex Snoeren" and "Lawrence Saul" sat on a Ph.D. dissertation committee where the goal was to get five signatures on a piece of paper so the student could get his degree. It took a while, but after admitting that none of the panel members had listened to the candidate, they were finally impressed that he had a slide deck prepared. This, even though the Accomplishments slide included three bullet points, for which only the third bullet was filled in: "Think of three accomplishments".
Finally, real faculty members took the floor for a CSE News Network evening news program with anchor Hovav Shacham, introduced by Stefan Savage. It started with a "Gupta Mea Culpa" by CSE Chair Rajesh Gupta, in which he confessed to excesses highlighted by the Graduate Student Association Report on Enhanced Education Techniques. The apologia was followed by a series of guests interacting with Shacham, including recent hire Julian McAuley, who showed up in a UCSD basketball jersey, literally flexing his (not quite convincing) muscles to demonstrate why the CSE department must forget about Big Data, and focus its research effort instead on... Humongous Data. Hovav Shacham also reported on a decision to create new television programming that can make computer science sexy for mainstream America, featuring shows with titles such as "Non-Volatile Storage Wars", "CSE Pawn Stars" and a primetime drama, "Class of Thrones".
As usual, it was the flubs that got the biggest laughs, except for when they announced that the Jacobs School had decided to switch from three different versions of Single Sign-On, to implementing Match.com for CSE and other departments. Savage also got a big laugh when he announced that the department will implement an alternative to tele-presence videoconferencing. The new Tele-Absence technology will allow faculty to miss meetings with students -- and to do so remotely. Pictured on-screen: a video feed of an empty chair in the professor's office.
At the end of the skits, professor Ranjit Jhala was scheduled to do a video spoof, but at the last minute the video was still being edited. The video will be posted here before the campus holiday closure.
Download photos by Keita Funakawa from Flickr.
Watch a video of the live event.
Or, click here to watch the final version of the Holiday Gift video.