Fall 07 Weeks seven through 9

Filed Under School Week Journal

Again, I am being bad with this. Can you appreciate that it is hard to have kids and keep up with engineering school now?

Week seven was absolute hell. Monday was a holiday, but I spent it cramming for my fluids midterm. Fluids midterm was hell. There was a question where you had to remember (or derive from the definition of acceleration) the range equation from standard mechanics. Of course a lab was due the day after… all the time Liz was keeping me awake at home. I was averaging about four hours sleep through this period. AVERAGING.

The rest of seven and into week eight was recovery. Yes, a lab was due, and I was uber diligent about getting it off my plate as Liz was rapidly approaching her due date. Wednesday I also got my grade for my fluids midterm, which was abysmal again (just sub-one-standard-deviation). I talked to him to see if I could get a regrade, which precipitated a stern lecture about what should be memorized and what he expects us to just “know”. I brought up the range equation, the problem for which he gave me five points out of twenty five, and showed him that I was attempting to derive the equation from the definition of acceleration… and that I wrote out the steps required to solve the problem from there, and he agreed to give me ten more points. And then lectured me for another ten minutes. At one point he asked me what I learned in high school calculus… I had to point out that I did not take calculus one until I was 30. I reminded him again that I was an “alternative student”… he took some sympathy…

I got loaded when I got home, three TnT’s. Of course, we all know what happened round about midnight. Timing on Cedar’s birth could not have been any better! And he could not have been any more perfect!

Week nine was recovery from the birth. Our final lab in MAE 170 was a doooozy. We spent over thirty hours on the data analysis alone. Our report was total crap, but talking to others it seems that was the average.

Nothing but finals left from here!

Fall 07 Week 6

Filed Under School Week Journal

Monday was pure hell. Not only was there a problem set due for pchem, but there was a pchem exam that night. My weekend was dedicated solely to that exam. I thought I was ready for it, but once she announced the format (which apparently was a surprise even to our TAs) I decided that I studied all wrong. It is hard to explain: there were questions like “here are eight true statements. Check the two that fit this criteria.” … right answers were two points in your favor, wrong answers were negative half-point. That was two thirds of the test. Who cares what the rest of the test was like, that part was a true test of your understanding of fundamental thermodynamics!

Next cram was to get our lab report together. My lab partner and I have really been under the midterm stress, so we slacked off on this one and turned in a barely reviewed paper. From that point forward, it was cramming for my next midterm (fluids), which as it just happens is in less than 12 hours from now!

Off to bed for me!

Fall 07 Week 5

Filed Under School Week Journal

My weeks have been starting out hard with marathon pchem homework sessions Sunday night, this week I got to sleep about 4AM, to wake up at 5:30 to get going again. Monday was spent mostly working on our lab report… high and low pass filter theory condensed into four paragraphs? I smell shenanigans, but apparently there is a “perfect” way to do it… ha. That night my lab partner and I were up to 9 working on the first draft. Tuesday I worked the morning and afternoon on my fluids homework, which for a change I actually understood (go figure). That night was brutal again though, as my lab partner handed me back the second draft of our lab report and it was still a mess. So I was up till 4AM working on it… Wednesdays are our lab day (when our reports are due) and we managed to get a decent report complete in time. The lab itself I was refreshingly prepared for (op-amps) so it went well. Then I raced home to get ready for Halloween. It was nice to have some time with the fam to break up the rat race.

I finally slept. Alot. It was not enough.

Thursday was lectures then work. I spent all my time getting data together for or lab on op-amps.

Friday was chat with my professors day (decide to drop out day). A serious chat. I talked with Sergei (fluids) about the midterm I bombed and the fact that I might miss some class with the baby being born. Turned out he is a grandpa himself. Rare for professors (at lest the ones I’ve met). He cheered me up, told me I would fail if I kept it up, etc. Then chatted with my lab professor (Farhat Beg) and asked him about the baby being born and how it might affect my lab schedule with my partner. He pointed me in the right direction of who to talk to. Good. Then to advising to see about my failure options. They told me I could fail as many classes as I wanted, but that I could only graduate with one on record (meaning any I fail I have to take over, save one).

Fine, I decided not to drop anything and just try to pass what I can this quarter. If I fail pchem or my fluids class though, it pretty much means I am graduating a year later. So, onward!

Been a Bad Student

Filed Under School Week Journal

Ok, so you might notice that I never posted what happened with my statistics final last quarter. Well, it was kind of shocking, but I failed my first class. Yup. Straight up bombed that exam. Got a D in the class, which together with the other two classes (A’s in both) brought my GPA down to BARELY above the 3.0 cutoff for my scholarships and grants.

I have had close calls before (Calculus 2 with Teegarden specifically). But never actually gone this far.

Overall I am still in shock, kind of like how when you get in a car accident you start to doubt your ability to drive safely. It has affected me this quarter as well: I have the exam heebie-jeebies now. My last midterm (fluid dynamics) I totally locked up on, stopped functioning logically, couldn’t recall the simplest of derivations… sad.

Hopefully I get over it, because for the next two weeks (thanks to the fire and missing a week of class) I have nonstop tests: two midterms on Monday, a quiz that Friday, and another fluids midterm the following Tuesday.

And with that, hopefully I can find the time to keep up with this journal thing.

Spring 2007 Week 10

Filed Under School Week Journal

This is it. Just finals left now. Well, two finals.

Most of the week was a blur, what with getting ready for my organic chemistry lab final, which as predicted was hell. I could have studied more, but really there were questions on the final that were unnecessary. Considering how NOONE in a class of almost 400 students received anywhere near a perfect score… that should say something. I myself scored a 71 out of 150. Median was 62. It is a middle-B. But I know these tests are not my strong point (thank god… no employer I’ve ever met values your ability to regurgitate inane facts with 100% accuracy)… and my lab grades it turns out are quite good. I am gunning for the A, but who knows since our lab sections get “normalized”, which is some nefarious process whereby all lab sections medians get set to a global median… and some hand waving… and then you fail the class when you had a C on the back of the napkin, etc.

Statistics. Ha. Funny. Our LAST class, in as it happens to be the LAST TEN MINUTES OF CLASS, Dr. Zeger is asked pointedly by one of the students that sits in the front row: “I know we have been doing this for a while and it is complicated, and you have done a good job of covering the salient points, but we have not had a concrete example in six weeks… can you show us how the central limit theorem is applied to a real world problem?”

You can guess what his answer was.

Markov Chains!

Ok, maybe you did not guess that. Really, it blew my mind that this entire class was just a primer. That nothing we used is directly applicable to anything. That there are no real applications except in statistical modeling, but only after you have taken this work to the next level (or three more levels). He literally said “If you are interested in this stuff, I highly encourage you to read more on Markov Chains and maybe take a graduate level class, because this stuff is really interesting!”

Yeah. Show me the money. I am going to side with Einstein on this one: statistics is a tool for people who have no clue what is going on. Although, I can’t help but reflect that at this level, Markov Chains start to look like fractal sets. I will have to ponder that one more.

History ended with a flourish. Dr. Oreskes got really into lecturing about global warming, so much so that she went over the lecture time by two minutes and almost caused me to be late for my bus!

Oh yeah, and our ACSSA end-of-the-year banquet was good. Liz and I went (a bit too late for Iris)… what should have been dinner with faculty turned into dinner with just us and our new advisor Gourisankar Ghosh, who is a very nice man and was interesting to talk to. Dinner was good, it was at the Barolo restaurant near where we used to live in UTC. Liz had the most amazing pear and walnut ravioli. I had dumplings in pesto, which was good but needed some acid to liven it up.

Ok, like I said, finals now!