Quizzical

So either:

a) I am actually smarter than I give myself credit for and somehow understood the material far better than I ever realized
b) I am monumentally deluded in thinking that my midterms today weren't even half as terrifying as I was expecting them to be, which might be proved upon upcoming receipt of my graded exams
c) My professors dumbed down the midterm questions in the hopes of producing a better class average
d) both "a" and "c"
e) "c" but still also "b"

I'm pretty sure the correct answer in this case is going to be "d" or "e" (and, oho, how them odds are lookin' for "e")– either way, "c" is a likely contender (with strong evidence coming from the fact that before handing out the midterms, both professors addressed the class– almost resignedly– "This is a very easy exam"), and this bothers me. Or it bothers my principles. Or it would bother my principles if I cared more today. My mind's just been elsewhere this past week, dwelling on and churning over everything other than my classes.

And last night, I finally put into words something that I've always felt:

noah: you love studying, i know babe
me: no, I don't love studying, really. I just love going to lectures and getting out of it what interests me. studying means having to really learn all the stuff that doesn't interest me but that is supposedly "good for me" in terms of knowledge.

Or in other words, to this day, all I really want is the SYOAGIGFT.

English majors, rejoice! Though ’tis but a minute victory.

An interesting point came up in my ethics reading tonight regarding semantics (specifically, word choice and phrasing). One of the arguments over the 2003 Columbia disaster was that erroneous decisions on NASA’s part were made based on the inability of engineers to provide sufficient proof that the Columbia was unsafe (after witnessing the foam insulation break off during the launch), and that had the engineers instead been asked to prove that the Columbia was still safe, different choices in further execution might have been made.

You’d think that because the general conclusion– that there were suspected but not-yet-wholly provable safety threats– would be the same regardless of the question posed to the engineers, it wouldn’t matter how the question was worded. But think about it:

Scenario A:

NASA: Prove that conditions are now unsafe.
Engineers: Well, it’s highly possible that this or that might have been affected and could now be unsafe or even fatal.
NASA: But can you prove it?
Engineers: No. Not at this time.
NASA: Then it’s still safe.

as opposed to Scenario B:

NASA: Prove that conditions are still safe.
Engineers: Well, given that it’s highly possible that this or that might have been affected and could now be unsafe or even fatal, we can’t guarantee that the Columbia isn’t at risk.
NASA: So you can’t prove that it’s safe?
Engineers: No.
NASA: Then it’s unsafe.

It’s just another citation of proof: choose your words wisely. Always, always, always.

It’s the mathiest a semester can get without actually including a math class, so needless to say I’m insanely happy

1. One of my classes this semester looks like it’s going to be 10 minutes of taking notes, 5 minutes of trying to stifle giggles, and 60 minutes of Big Eyes, twice a week.

2. I’m taking an upper-division mechanical engineering class, which means I finally get to mingle with the MechE boys. So far, the ones I’ve encountered are everything their reputation has classified them as: goofy, party-loving frat boys who are unquestionably brilliant. They make me laugh.

3. And my MechE professor says the most random things. He was warning us about the deadline for dropping the class and as an example, cautioned us: "So if you decide to go to Alaska to go hunting bears and you come back after the midterm, you will have to get my permission if you want to drop the class then." I like him. I like all my professors, actually– well. No. I’m not the hugest fan of the one who effects my 60 minutes of Big Eyes. The rest, though. I like them.

Now accepting letters of rec and CV’s

Seeking: a dude geoscientist specializing in geomorphology [1] — in particular, the geomorphology of southern Nevada and southern California– amenable to being held hostage in a car for weekend road trips with nothing but M&Ms [2] and water for sustenance. Expert knowledge combined with an ability to explain on educational levels ranging from 2nd grade to post-doctorate required, or a combination of sufficient knowledge and immediate access to further (expert) knowledge. Ultimate bladder control also required, as pit stops will be limited to whenever the car runs out of gas.

*****

The lamest part of this is I am only maybe 10% [3] joking.

The entire drive back today, I stared fiercely out the window trying to decipher the history of the landscape around us. How did those mountains get there? Intrusions? Sedimentary deposits? Thrust faults? What caused those to tilt in that direction? Where did those boulder deposits come from? Is that shale? Plateaus make no sense to me. Where did that lake come from? What feeds it? Were there glaciers here once upon a time? Is it a kettle lake? Are those scarps or just really weird weathering?

It was, frankly, entirely annoying. I used to just enjoy scenic drives without having to think. Now my brain just won’t shut up, tripping over itself with question after damned question.

Clearly, I am in urgent need of a personal geomorphologist. Or a book, a really good couple of books, but in spite of my magical multi-tasking capabilities, I am *not* the World’s Greatest at driving a car and reading a book at the same time. And I don’t do audio books. So, human version of a book, complete with portability on a whim. On my whim. Need one. ASAP. [4]

[1] A sub-specialty in botany would be a major brownie-points bonus.
[2] Or Starbursts. Or Kashi/Special K.
[3] Give or take 70%. Wait. Well– wait. Wait. Can a person be -60% joking? Would that make me 60% un-joking? Uh, okay, yeah I guess that’ll do.
[4] Ooh. Or, like, the Six-Year-Old’s Aspiring Geoscientist’s Illustrated Guide to Field Terminology, emphasis on the "Illustrated". I want pictures. Hand-drawn. Basically, a picture dictionary. For 2nd graders.

Liquefied cow: it’s everywhere! Like in your contact lens solution!

It took me an hour to finish my geo final this morning; about two-thirds of that time was spent artistically perfecting every single one of my Scantron boxes. I don’t know; I wasn’t in any rush to get out of there and it really forced me to slow down and not make careless errors. And not only did the "coded messages from Mars" question make it onto the final, but the very first question on my exam was about liquefied cows. (!)

I almost blew off studying last night in favor of watching "Planet Earth" (*finally* bought it), which, when you think about it, can be justified as studying for a geo exam. Or at least, it can when *I* think about it. In any case, I managed to avoid that temptation… and fell asleep instead. Except I fell asleep at 2 a.m. and I honestly can’t remember what I was doing until then. Reading about the Blackberry Bold/9000 (side note: RIM has lost its mind re: the 9500)? Rereading old monologues and plays? No idea.

The gun-slingin’ ultimate cowboy showdown at the E&M Corral is tomorrow. Less than optimistic about it. Starting around five tonight, I’ll be holed up in my bedroom doing homework problem after homework problem on fields and flux and capacitance and inductors. Or zonked out on the closet floor. Or in Mexico. Either way. *Ugh*.

“This survey was too long and irritating and I wish I had been warned about how long and irritating it was beforehand.” STRONGLY AGREE.

Some weeks back, we had to take this survey at the end of E&M. Well. We didn’t *have* to, but I didn’t have the balls to just up and leave while the dude was passing out the surveys and pencils. And then ten seconds into it, when I realized I absolutely did not want to fill in all those freaking little bubbles (over 100 total!)… I still didn’t have the balls. To, you know, storm outta there in a snit.

"Forget *this* noise!" non-passive me would have huffed, bookbag swishing indignantly from side to side as I made my exit.

Passive, real-life me, instead, remained seated and continued filling in bubbles while silently fuming.

It wasn’t about physics, by the way; it was a general university survey. How’s the faculty? Tuition? Parking? Food? Health center? On and on, and we had to give two opinions per questions. I really wanted there to be a question, or a couple of questions, *about* the survey at the end, but no such luck. Now that’s a survey I would have gladly filled out.

Implied, of course, is that I’ve been making headway with that book. Sixteen more pages!

I’m in the stacks and it’s kind of cold in here. On the window next to me, someone left a right-handprint– a dude, I’m assuming, judging by the span of those fingers. And I’m trying to figure out 1) what provoked him to press his hand so firmly against the window that it would leave such a thorough imprint and 2) why his hands were so oily. Or is the glass just that easily marred? Maybe I should find out. Hold on.

Okay: Yes, it’s a dude’s hand and yes, his hand was greasier than normal. Or my hands are just drier (cleaner?) than normal? I pressed really hard and for a long time, and all I got were prints off my fingertips and the heel of my palm. And even all that is pretty faint.

Tired. Not a whole lot of sleep last night, plus I’m coming down from a 20-hour glow. Maybe longer? Interspersed, though, yesterday, with an afternoon meltdown that I’d been trying to stave off since I’d woken up. But, oh! Today! Today’s just been pulsations of glow and thrill and uncontainable bubbles of laughter and joy. I’m being ridiculous, of course, and likely none of the silly notions in my head today will ever come to fruition, but I like having them there for the time being. They give me hope. And I got to chat with that professor for almost 45 minutes today, and friggin’ biscuits and gravy, that was fantastic. And! I’m starting to catch up on my emails! So, yay, me. I’m having a productive little Tuesday, and now it’s time to get back to class.

One of my favorite quotes of his was from Phil. of God: “Careful, dinosaurs! Don’t step on the zebras!”

I swung a 90 on my geo exam and I’m honestly doubting I could have successfully contested the "coded messages from Mars" answer, so I guess not giving into that temptation was for the best after all.

One of the three reasons I minored in Phil during first undergrad was because of a professor– the chair of the department, actually, who taught the Honors section of Logic, which was the first Phil class I ever took at USD. I adored him so much that I ended up taking every single class he taught while I was at USD, all of which applied to my minor. (The other two reasons being that I really like philosophy and our GE requirements made it so that I only needed to take two or three extra classes to get the minor.)

A geo minor would be different. This professor doesn’t teach that many other classes, and certainly not the ones required to fulfill a minor. He does, however, teach Geo Engineering, which is required by my CivE major, so I’ve at least got *that* to look forward to. And Hydro. He teaches the hydro classes. But in order to take Hydro, I’d have to take three or four extra classes that can’t be applied to CivE, so they would be purely for the hydro classes, and the ridiculous part is I am *actually* considering it. I’m infatuated, plain and simple. If– if he came in a closer-to-my-age-bracket version? I would be all over that. And, I mean, it’s his personality, yes, and his dry humor, but *dude*. He has degrees in geo and physics and engineering and hydro! What in that recipe isn’t to like? I would still be bugging him during his office hours except I’ve been on hiatus from my book and thus have no foundations for a Q-and-A session with him.

On another note, I voluntarily submitted myself to an extra helping of E&M this afternoon by sitting in on the *other* section. I’d heard enough about that section’s professor that I was insanely curious to see the guy in action, and it was well worth the mental anguish of having to listen to another 75 minutes of flux and capacitance and solar radiation. He’s fantastic! But I can’t say that I like him better than my E&M professor. He’s just different, but in a very funny way.

My favorites are the joyous tiny penguins and my least favorites are the big boring butterflies

Sometimes, in E&M, when the lecture gets a little snoozy (you’d think a class on electricity and magnetism would be more *stimulating* and *riveting*– ha!), I try to spice up my notes by putting exclamation marks after my section headers or by scribbling enthusiastic commentary. So my physics notes are littered with things like "Ohm’s Law!" and "quasistatics = reversible work!" and "contour integral! hooray!"

My geo notes have exclamation marks in them all over the place, too, but those are authentic. I mean, how can you *not* get excited about lava flows and foliated metamorphic rocks (gneiss! and schist! HA!!)?

And, oh man, in this week’s civil lab? We were working with PowerPoint and I just started creating ridiculous slides. What other choice did I have? It was that, really, or DIE FROM BOREDOM. But I was so thoroughly amused by myself that I couldn’t stop snickering (but softly?), which, uh, I don’t think the lab monitor (slash-begin-quote-TA-end-quote) appreciated a whole super lot. That, however, is a story all its own.

And I got another of my TAs to put stickers (supplied by me) on my graded lab reports. COLLEGE IS A BLAST!

Ask me about the student newspaper sometime

Classes have started and I’m eye-twitchingly overwhelmed. Sitting in class, wondering, why am I here? Why am I doing this? Why am I learning this? Thinking about the majority of CS and EE majors I personally know who graduated and are now working, instead, in IT or MIS. Terrified that I’m going to work and work and work and end up doing just fine, maybe even doing wonderfully, in my classes– but not retain a shred of information taught to me, only to begin the cycle of premeditated stress and scraping by next semester and the semester after that until my program is over. If CpE 200 is making me want to claw out my eyeballs in the first week, what’s going to happen with CpE 300? Or my 400-level CS classes? And I haven’t even *started* any of my EE components. OH MY GOD, WHY AM I DOING THIS?

*****

I don’t know if it was the classroom setting or the fact that he’s foreign (Swedish, maybe?) or what, but my math professor was wearing white socks with those Velcro sandals and he looked totally normal and non-make-funnable in them. Also, he refused to give us his e-mail address so that if we need to talk to him, we either have to call him or see him in person. Have I just gotten really lucky, or are *all* the math professors here this fucking awesome?

*****

Actually, I think I lucked out with all my professors this semester. They all have this really weird sense of humor, which just makes them doubly funny to me. I like my physics professor– though not quite as much as I liked last semester’s ("the Earf’s gravitational pull"!)– but the lecture hall makes it really hard to hear him. And the protagonist of this class’ studies is going to be, it would seem, the electron. So, you know. Shit on the sub-atomic level. For the next four months.

I am so royally screwed.

*****

Also, I’m getting the feeling that there aren’t a lot of girls in CpE. A good number of ’em in CS and even EE, but… yeah, not so much CpE. I’m the only girl in lab. It’s kind of shitty. And then our lab instructor gave this really lengthy speech on how people get murdered and raped and shot and whatevered on campus and within a mile’s radius of campus and how later on in the semester it was going to be dark by the time we got out of lab and also did we all have a fire extinguisher in our cars? Because we should. And also at least one question on our quiz/exam will be on the fire escape routes from the lab. Oh and we’re working with electric currents so WE COULD DIE IN LAB, just, you know, a heads-up. Phone’s in the cabinet and we all know how to dial 911.

*****

I was standing in the pen aisle at an Office Max once and realized that someone, somewhere, is in charge of engineering new pens. Because every year there are "New and Improved!" pens, pens with smoother ink flow and comfort grips and whatever. And I thought, what an interesting conversation *that* must be: "So what do you do?" "Oh, I’m an engineer." "Really! What do you work on?" "Pens." And THEN I thought, how do you get into that? Is there a college somewhere with a Writing Instument Engineering program? Where you study the frictional relationship between the roller ball and the ink cartridge and the angles of functionality? Because I would totally be all over that and OMFG LIKE SERIOUSLY WHAT AM I DOING.