During one of my less-than-scintillating lectures earlier this week, I made a to-do list. Lists of things that are going to soak up free time are not the sort of thing I like to dwell on, but this week I needed one. Maybe it helps, too, because I really feel like I've gotten a lot done. That vaguery includes free lunch (nee Grad Student Forum) at Rackham, another delicious international potluck at NAME (the international student in me shared pasties...what a riot!), and that is about it. As at Webb, meal time is down time, 'Corey time' if you will, so having occasion to kick back for a couple of meals in a given day is pretty nice.
Deep thoughts today about how much people are worked up about "getting things done." I'm one of these, as are you (likely) and just about everybody else who reads this. Why do we put such enormous importance on getting things done? What happened to enjoying the metaphoric journey? When did productivity become the grail? Where are 'doing a good job' and 'not sweating the small stuff' these days? Priorities are a tough nut to crack. Maybe I should have taken a philosophy course rather than IOE 583. (There was the tie-in you knew I was heading for. BooooYAH!)
Being a College of Engineering student is where it's at; free printing makes life so much easier, even if I have to run across the hall to the lab to do it. I wrapped up that dicey task known as 'taxes' today and continue to be thankful for Adobe Acrobat, which let me simply type in my answers to questions and change things many times as I figured out what went where.
The blogosphere seems flooded with tax-bashing. Personally, I'm cool with the way taxes work. It seems like there could be easier forms and a centralized tax clearinghouse to avoid state/federal confusion, but I suppose that's pretty tricky to implement when not everybody has a computer. A site I frequent mentioned that the folks who voted 'red' know that a tax return is just the payback of a no-interest loan to the government. The thing is, it's better than figuring out the exact amount you owe ahead of time (which you are technically supposed to do, but, like declaring interstate sales tax, doesn't always happen) and for me it's probably worth the difference to get a lump sum amount that can be stashed rather than petering away that extra few dollars each week. As a capitalist I realize that I'm supposed to go buy durable goods with my returns, but since GWB wants to drill in ANWAR I'm going to save it all out of spite.
Too many meetings to get much done - three in a row, just like that, and then two more in succession this morning. At some point I need to get out of meetings and start getting into work. Some of the work is a "team project" but I'm not sure how four people can possibly work on one Excel-spreadsheet-based optimization. Here's where my Excel minor from Webb comes in handy (or works against me, depending on how you look at it) and I can really make hay.
I noticed, too, that the James' brakes have progressed from the occasional squeak I heard this winter while driving through the ATM or pulling into toll booths into some serious squeeling. Blast! Chad and I were discussing the relative garbage that we put up with in the name of personal transportation and decided that it must really be ingrained into our heads and our culture, otherwise we'd both take our cars (and their maintenance, especially) right to the curb.
This week and weekend have been filled with thoughts of society and entertainment and distraction; are the things we do in the name of entertainment distracting us from the things that matter or have we become so twisted as a society that the things that really matter distract us from entertainment? Is the madness that sports reign over the human condition? We've all been there - this blog is a case-in-point. Ultimately entertainment is easier fodder for commentary, so that's the route we choose.
Take the path of least resistance. Variational calculus. Integrate by parts. Resistance is proportional to the cube of velocity. Find the tension in the tether. Don't snap the riser. Use the absolute values.
It's a busy day here. I've met with four different professors regarding four different undertakings, and I've got team detritus floating around on three different planes in my head. Main objectives for the day include finishing my NA (nee MA) 416 homework, doing some additional write-up for the aforementioned IOE/MFG 583 paper, and blowing up the looming NA570 team design. Yesterday's 570 exam was so low-key that it didn't even warrant bloggage, but in re-thinking it last night I realized that I'd subtracted where I should have added on one portion worth 5%. Thank goodness for partial credit, the protocol that makes engineering education possible.
posted at 11:55 AM - comments
Monday, March 21, 2005
I'm staying at the office late tonight to put some miles on the proverbial tires. There's plenty of work to get done: NA570 AT/B design, NA416 homework that is totally useless, IOE/MFG583 project write-up that is interesting (but as Patrizio says...save the watch, it's too late for the boots!), and the constant various and sundry 'other things' that can get taken care of via the inter-web these days. Tonight's big accomplishment by internets was singing up for an M-Trek for this August. My top choice is The Maine Event, adding that last elusive East Coast state to my list, doing things that I enjoy (except for eating seafood): hiking, biking, kayaking, rafting, and not roasting to death in the Southwest on a horse.
posted at 11:43 PM - comments
Saturday, March 19, 2005
I forgot to blog one of the week's major developments; good news arrived Thursday on the financial aid front. Funny thing, though: I have to basically be a slacker to qualify for the Benford/Zimmie Scholarship for dual masters' candidates. If I stay on my present course I won't be a concurrent dual-degree candidate, so I'm effectively being paid to drop a class and be a slacker over the summer. This means that I'll start business school as somebody who worked for two years and has just a bachelor's degree, but won't it be fun in December to pick up a master's degree for Christmas. Like Merritt said, masters programs in engineering can be a little weird. I don't feel like I've really gained a whole lot of expertise, especially on the technical front, but the university deems that I have and is willing to put it in writing.
More funny/lucky things happened yesterday, too. In the afternoon I was crashing in a major way so I got some Mike & Ike's from the machine. I was getting ready to be really mad when the machine didn't quite dispense my little bag - but when I gave it a pretty good hip-check, out came two bags. Wonder of wonders! Speaking of hip checks, we were standing in line to get tickets to last night's game at the Joe and this lady comes running up and says "hey does anybody want two tickets?" About a half dozen people were like 'sure, how much do you want' or 'where are they,' but I just held my hand out and was awarded two general admission seats - basically $20 free bucks and about 10-15 minutes worth of not standing in line. Miracle of miracles!
I try not to use this forum as an outlet for my angry, previously internal tirades, but today...hang on to your butts.
Just got back from NA 416. What a waste! Three contact hours a week, plus homework and exam prep, totalling maybe 100 hours, and I have not learned a freakin' thing. That this course is an NA offering is a farce, nevermind trumpeting in the announcement that it "is very relevant to ship, offshore, and aerospace structures." In point of fact it is a math class serenading as an engineering course, but with no relevance to the practicing engineer. I don't doubt that what he's scribbling on the board at breakneck speed is relevant and useful, it just isn't relevant and useful to a past (and future?) naval architect. The thing is, I worked in a structures department for a major United States shipyard doing exactly the things he's describing, and they aren't treated this way. When EB needs to move a submarine or find out how highly loaded a plate is, they don't whip out their differential equations books and retire the nerdery with their calculators! Instead, they sit down and objectively look at the situation in a practical and thorough way, supported by first principles calculations. Then, if they conclude an issue may arise, FEA is done with supporting analysis. The output of 416 is the stuff that the code for FEA is written with, not anything a person who knows what a ship should look like would ever touch. To add insult to injury, I asked very early on (day 1) if this course was an applications-based course or if I should take my learning elsewhere and the response came 'oh yes we are all about the applications of our knowledge here!' Baaaahhh! Wasted time, wasted effort, wasted stress, wasted opportunity.
The day's other developments are considerably less maddening: work done, tons of fun. Hockey at the Joe, go team go. Scholarship offered, graduation deferred. Walk in December, if I remember. Tug boat designed, structural calcs declined. In your eye, NA416.
Today was a smashing day which featured many interesting and hilarious bits, and in which there aren't any swallows, although I do believe you could hear and possibly see Canadian geese apparently heading southward on their spring return voyage from the over-wintering grounds -ooolp!
Sorry, sorry. The people responsible hav been sacked. Anyway, it was a very good day, in the sense that it was St. Patrick's Day, but other than that it was a very normal, busy, and worthwhile day during which I feel I accomplished a fair amount. Hopefully that accomplishing will continue into the evening and I will accomplish some laundry, otherwise tomorrow may be a very sad day indeed.
It's late and I'm working on a tug boat. I never thought I'd say this, but the prospects of an articulated tug/barge actually have me pretty pumped up. It's cheaper, more flexible, and still meets or exceeds every mission requirement. In IOE 583 we are learning about machines like this, only they aren't cheaper and they fall short in some areas. Basically, the NA purist in me has died a little, but a ro/ro will never look like a yacht or even a liner so why not go for the best solution. Personally, I think if you paint the thing and put some logos on the side most people wouldn't know the difference.
Tonight I'm at home using the internet. How's that working, you ask? Just fine, thanks. The thing with WiFi is that it still has a couple of teeency little bugs, like if you don't set it up right, your neighbors can use it while you sleep. Online they call it poaching, and I suppose it is. I don't think I'd make a habit of it, but it sure is convenient and it really takes me back to my formative years as a computer nerd slash IT consultant.
Finally, a pic from Nick of the group at Tremblant.
Michigan advanced on an easy shot that finally found the back of the net, an apparent rarity in stark contrast to Friday night. My voice was totally gone, though, and the playoffs are not good for one's general cardiac health.
Sunday after a day of working Jenelle and I headed to Munn to try out new skates for her and get back in the habit for myself. Then a nice dinner and home to play with Ollie. The funny thing about cats, much like dogs, children, or early morning disc jockeys, is that they never tire of the same thing. There's simply no need to create new games, round up new toys, or change scenery...he's totally content chasing the same toy down the same short hallway for at least an hour. Last night we played a rousing round of "get the toy out of a cardboard box" about 20 times and the furrier competitor was bummed when the game was over.
You haven't really lived until you've cheered the goal count: "Ready! One...two...three...four...five...six...seven...eight...nine...ten! We want mooooooore goals! Sieve! Sieve! Sieve! Sieve! Sieve! It's all your fault! It's all your fault! It's all your fault! It's all your fault!" During the second period it looked like Webb baseball out there, with pucks finding twine roughly every 3 minutes.
It snowed overnight and today the campus is bright and shiny outside my window as I work on team projects hither and yon. Incredibly there is already a nearing-the-end-of-semester push which just feels weird to somebody who is used to getting out of college in late June. The good news, though, is that MFG583 team meetings have been fruitful and Team B decided how many ships to use.
Police-themed media are forever pushing this idea of "tell it to the judge." Hopefully, muttered under the breath of each of these characters, off camera and away from the microphone, is a warning that judges, on the whole, are not a very sympathetic bunch and that you might as well save your Thursday morning and not even go downtown to Courtroom #2 because honestly all that will happen is you'll waste $1.75 on a parking meter, get scolded by a grownup in a robe, and wind up being deliciously dissed and dismissed.
The West Wing is a topic that received an above-average portion of bloggage around here, but that's cool because it is such a good show. This week's Super Tuesday episode contained a rare black-box moment, though, which I didn't like. (Not that kind of black box...jeez what do you think NBC is, the CBC?) Usually the Wing is well written to the extent that every event is thoroughly supported, but this week Matt Santos made a somewhat mysterious rise to the top of the California primary in one of those 'that kind of thing never happens' moments that plague regular TV.
Even though Michigan's train-wreck-on-hardwood basketball season(s) are over, it is a happy day in Wolverine sportdom. Firstly, the aforementioned peach-basket-disaster-squad doesn't have to play Illinois. Such a blessing. More importantly, though, the men's intercollegiate ice hockey team starts their playoff run tonight, under the riveted rafters at Yost.
Please rise. Can you pay today? Time limit two hours. Time remaining is forfeited. Remove cardboard backing. Balance due now. You've got mail. Wrong server. Wrong password. Kerberos! AFS! There you go. Website, website, website. Doug at LFM. Robin at Thailand. Parents at Alta. Game at 7:35. Let's...Go...Blue! Best of three series. Super Six. How is Alaska central? Thin plates, thin shells, thick head. Vortices, tugs and barges, AHP, inspection devices, Navy After Next. Meet at Mujo. Meet at NAME. Meet at Yost. Let's...Go...Blue!
The day is winding down...it was productive, though not as much as some. This evening holds several endeavours, most of them academic, which should keep the ball rolling. Other than that, it feels like the middle of the week after spring break, with projects starting to loom and team meetings starting to creep up again. Just another day in academia, I suppose.
posted at 5:05 PM - comments
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
Academic advising is a wonderful thing. Sometimes things don't go (academically speaking) according to plan and in those situations it is good to have somebody to say "hey that's cool, here's what you should do!" Professor Spicknall is a good one for that, since he and I see eye to eye on pesky academic details like GPA, passing, and other potentially bothersome parts of university life.
Back at home, I laundered all of the clothes that I stank up with skiing last week, read some GSRA-type stuff, and admired the prop which is now on the wall and uplit.
posted at 1:31 PM - comments
Monday, March 07, 2005
There was an editorial in Canadian Ski magazine on the coffee table in #2180 that was all about a day spent in the sun on long, lower-rated cruisers, arcing things out, carving things up, and having a blast. The closing line said 'we got better because we were high on green.' That was really the story with our week at Tremblant...not as technically challenging as last year, but lots of carving, lots of fast, lots of fun. They aren't called T-Power Vipers for nothing; I muscled into the race bindings and drive plates atop my Rossis and let fresh wax and sharp edges bring on the fun run after run all week.
Off the slopes, apres ski, we enjoyed the pedestrian village of St. Bernard: Le Diable, L'Petit Caribou, and L'Farge. Wednesday night was a great French meal in Mont Tremblant - duck with orange sauce and creme brulee for dessert. Friday we spent in Montreal, scouting the city and trying (often in vain) to stay warm. The highlight for me may have been the Contemporary Art Museum and it's fixed chalk-drawing-film installations.
And when the trip was over, the last run had been run, the last drink drunk, the last flight flown, it was nice to be heading into a Michigan airport once again. Jenelle likened it to "old times," and it certainly felt that way. Sunny ride home, lunch in the tent at Zingerman's with Jimmy Wants Rosemary's Baby, which lost out to the superior Dave's Open Road. It really felt like vacation on both ends of the week. posted at 1:03 PM - comments