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02 February 2007

A Newer New System

To those who read and commented on my 30 January post, "A New System," thank you. It's now deleted from this blog. As you may recall, I was fairly negative in that post about a wide variety of topics, having reached a boiling point on many issues. Most of the problems I mentioned in the original post have since been rectified, and the remaining ones are working toward that point. Much like the last time I blogged when I was angry (May 2005, and that's been deleted, too), it received poor reviews. However, this one was exceptional in that it was given a parental rating of "No, Tim."

As such, I must repost an edited version, as a good portion of it was legitimate and not vindictive in the slightest. My only concern is that people would be more likely to miss my shorter post from 01 February, "Feb'y." So if you haven't read that, make sure you do when you're done with this. If you've already read both posts, you may as well stop here; I'll spare you from reading over 1,000 words you've already read. But the rest of you must read on.

And so, for the benefit of those who hadn't yet read it, here is the pared-down version of the original post, "A New System," from Tuesday 30 January:

Right about this point in the term (Week 5), I get to the point where I can no longer "play by ear" what needs done when. I need a functional system. Yesterday, 29 January, being the first time we've had classes on consecutive Mondays, I have realized that I am in need of a new system for Mondays.

As you'll recall by looking at my schedule for this term, my Mondays are quite horrible. Granted, I have hours off at 10:00, 12:00, and 17:00. Generally, however, I spend the 10:00 hour getting ahead (or catching up) on work, sitting in my seat ready for my 11:00 class. The 12:00 hour is spent eating and reprinting my CHEM lab report due at 13:00 after noticing all the errors that got printed the first time. And the 17:00 hour is finally where I can usually squeeze in a break to head back to the dorm to drop all of my books, pick up new ones, and maybe even catch a "Z" or two before heading off to MATH recitation at 18:00. For people like Andrea who are occasionally concerned about me finding time to eat, I typically do that around 18:55 when recitation lets out. The dining halls aren't as crowded then, so I can easily be done in time to make the 19:30 lecture.

During the day, though, it's not what I do that's the problem. It's what I take with me.

Notebooks for CHEM and PS. That makes sense. But then considering the fact that the CHEM lab period is both a lab and a recitation, I also have to bring my textbook, lab manual, data booklet, any relevant papers, my calculator, and my high-impact chemical splash goggle. And yes, if you only have one, it's just a goggle.

My backpack is filled to the brim all day, and in the evening I exchange all but the calculator for one flimsy notebook. Not to mention the fact that if I finish my CHEM lab early, I'm somewhat expected to stay until 16:50 doing calculations in the lab, something that Shane (one of my lab partners this week) mentioned could be done much more quickly using Excel. Which is very tempting because the calculations are half of the work in these lab reports that take me a good portion of the weekend to complete.

It is thus evident that something ought to change in the quite near future. Optimally, now.

Shane's suggestion made the premise of bringing my laptop for post-lab calculations more appealing because, after all, that's half the reason I got a laptop and not something else (by which, of course, I generally mean a desktop). But lugging that around with my textbook doesn't seem so appealing.

Then it hit me: The main reason I bring my textbook to recitation is so I know what the homework problems are. Why not take a small fraction of the time I'd save each weekend by doing post-lab calculations in lab, and use it to scan the two or three pages of homework problems each week, so that I can just carry a couple sheets of paper instead?

That works well. If only I'll remember that plan this weekend when I have to act on it. Which is why I think blogging about it will help. A bit.

But why stop there? For my homework due each Wednesday, I can intersperse something fun on Monday nights and Tuesday mornings. For example, I've been writing this post in small chunks between PHYS problems. I don't know if it'll work in the long run, but I do know that my PHYS homework is getting done already. And I still have another night to do it.

All in all, I'm feeling good about myself, both relating to my new system that may fail after just one week, and to life in general. Granted, staying up late to finish all my CHEM work Sunday night didn't help me get up Monday morning this time around, so it took a good amount of caffeine to get me where I'm at. But we started partial derivatives in MATH last night, so that helped. Because it seems as though I like partial derivatives, and functions of multiple variables in general. At least for now. We'll see what happens on 07 February when I have my first exam.

The first PS paper was assigned on Friday. Seven to ten pages on some recent public opinion polls, and what we would tell the President if we were interpreting the results in terms of how seriously he should regard them and how he might go about the task of making such results more favorable in the future. Not an entirely tough topic, but it might be a tough length. Thank goodness the professor understands, and gave us enough time to accomplish the task. An optional draft is due 09 February, Laurel's birthday, and the paper itself is due 23 February, Craig's birthday. Total time: 4 weeks. He advised us "not to wait 3 weeks, 6 days, and 23 hours" before starting. I certainly won't.

The DRS project is going fairly well, depending on how you look at it. On Friday, we were instructed to borrow a wheelchair and basically go around campus trying to get into various buildings. Some were easy. Some were not. Slush on the ramps didn't help us novice wheelchairers out, either. So on the client side of things, everything is dandy.

It does aggravate us, though, to some degree, that we are the tenth of ten groups in the first session. And the professor goes around to each group each day, starting with the first. As other teams are seen, they get to go out and do their work. But, as time runs out, we rarely get that, which means we have to spend more time outside of class completing our tasks. And because our schedules are barely compatible, that means a short period on Friday afternoons and Sundays. Which may come to be the ultimate demise of my System for Mondays.

Random tangent: Superbowl this weekend. Not as exciting as last year's, though, in my opinion. Although, there's an Illinois native across the hall who will surely be rooting for the Bears, loud and proud. But that aside, I'm really quite happy about things in general. At least for now...


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