Wednesday, January 30, 2008

It was 67 degrees yesterday morning. It was 6 degrees and snowing yesterday night.

Guiliani is dropping out of the race, as is Edwards. I doubt anyone is surprised. I think Huckabee/Ron Paul will be the next to go.

I wish I didn't have homework/tests this week because I really want to sit down and do the crossword puzzle and sudoku.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Why cliches are wrong

Overheard in Psychology today:
"The only time you really fail is when you fail to try."

NOTE: No, I did not say/do anything to Mr. Idiot's face. Sorry, Mom.

Let's address the central premise of the above statement. First and foremost, it follows the popular idea that you can do anything if you try hard enough. In other words, nobody is a failure.

I'm sorry to disillusion my fellow precious snowflakes, but you can and will fail.

I refuse to say that failing is rewarding and the best thing that will ever happen to you, because it's not true.

Here's rule 1: Failing sucks.

It's not fun and nobody likes it. As a general rule, people don't set out to fail. Our culture is infused with the idea of the winner. Think about all the heartwarming stories about the kid with cancer who hits a home run in the bottom of the ninth or sinks the winning basket. Oprah talks to the learning disabled kid who goes to Harvard, not the one at the McDonalds fryer. We like thinking about winners. Even when we talk about people losing, it's generally along the lines of Babe Ruth striking out, where losing is a temporary step along the road to success. It's not always like that. Sometimes, you fail and it's the end. Flunk a class, and there will be no triumphant return to a 4.0 GPA. Sometimes, failure is permanent. We don't like thinking about it, but it's true. Failing sucks.

Rule number 2: Failing is inevitable.

Sometimes your best isn't good enough. No matter how hard you work, you won't be a nuclear physicist, an Olympic ice skater, or date the prom queen. Try all you want, but sometimes what you want is not going to happen. And yes, that sucks too.

Rule number 3: You cannot change Rules 1 and 2. Neither can anyone else.

Your mom can't make it better. It's not your professor's fault. There is a finite limit to your abilities in certain areas. Sometimes these limits are imposed by genetics or environment. Other times we impose limits on ourselves, simply by letting opportunities pass us by. (Didn't start practicing until you were thirty? Being a child prodigy pianist won't happen.)

In any event, trying hard enough doesn't make something happen. Failing can and will happen, no matter how hard you work.

Get used to it.

Benadryl and the effects thereof

My allergies and I have an understanding. Namely, I will do my best not to irritate them, and they will periodically revolt and kick my ass. Such a mutiny occurred yesterday.

See, my roommate has a cat.

The cat in and of itself is a fine animal. It's friendly enough, and mostly spends its time sleeping. However, cats as a whole have one defining characteristic--they cause me to die. According to my allergies, me being near to a cat is equivalent to my screaming racial ephithets to the tune of 'Your mother enjoyed the company of Hilter in exchange for minimal amounts of filthy lucor.'

In sum, living where I live is asking for it.

Yesterday began with sneezing (no big deal) and progressed to a runny nose (irritating) and watery eyes (#$%!%^$#!!). It puts a rather abrupt end to one's day when you are forced to beat a strategic retreat to my secret stash of generic claritin and benadryl.

Benadryl is a magic drug. It's the equivalent of pot to my sinuses. They get some and then spend the rest of the forseeable future inhaling ('Ahhh...that's the good stuff') and being too lethargic to move.

As a college student, I prize my sleep. Unfortunately, I prize things like staff meetings and homework as well.

Me: I have three hours of work to finish tonight.
Benadryl: Heh. That's cute.
Me: Pleeeaaase...just let me get through the meeting.
Benadryl: ....
Me: Roommate #2, you need to drive.
Benadryl: That's right. Next time you'll think twice before insinuating that someone's mother was Hitler's cheap whore, won't you?
Me: *asleep at 8PM*
Benadryl: C'mon sinuses, let's go get some Cheetos.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The trouble with group projects

I'm going to preface this by stating that I can be a team player. Thank you.

In my last semester, I am taking a two hundred level computer engineering class, which is semi-required for three different majors. The class itself is relatively simple, although Mr. Professor could benefit from some student-centered advice.

Issue 1: Do not require engineers to choose groups on the second day of class.
  • First, the engineers do not yet understand the format of the class, and have not yet had time to re-establish their cave. This will disorient them, and breed general dislike.
  • Second, the engineers need more time to meet with the people in the class and determine compatibility. Nothing is worse than waking up halfway through the course and realizing that your life would have been incomparably easier if you'd worked with the kid sitting on your left instead of your right.
Issue 2: Limit the number of restrictions on the composition of groups.
  • Let's do the math: In a class of 42 students, it is impossible to have teams of exactly four students apiece. Given this, it is not recommended to threaten groups of five with amputating a member should more students enroll while discouraging teams of three.
  • Interdisciplinary cooperation is great. Unfortunately, if you want 1 Computer Science student, 1 Computer Engineering student and 1 Electrical Engineering student per group, you're going to run into issues when there are 8 CompSci's in the class.
Issue 3: Do not be surprised when students follow the letter and not the intent.
This should go without saying. If we have a group with 3 EEs, 1 CompSci, and 1 CompE, do not email saying that the CompE doesn't count because he's a double major. Likewise, listen to the five seniors in the class who offer to go without a CompSci. (A combined 20 years of programming intensive curricula will, in fact compensate for a sophomore who hasn't finished linear algebra.)

In summary, if the number of restrictions is greater than the number of students in the group, you're better off just assigning teams.

And with those words of wisdom, it's time to go send some emails and try to convince Mr. Professor to give a little bit.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Charlie bit me

Things that will be nice about a 9-5 job

1. I will never arrive before the doors are unlocked.
2. I will have a parking spot.

Maybe I should have titled this post "Things that I will not miss about college jobs"

The Art of Power

The Art of Power by Greene:

Granted, I am about halfway through the table of contents, but I'm intrigued. Greene breaks down the 48 'laws' of getting people to do what you want. Given that I am a rather pessimistic cynic, the appeal of the book should be obvious. (And yes Mom, it is Machiavellian, but sometimes people need a little bit of ruthlessness for the greater good.)

Greene has also written The Art of Seduction and The Art of War. If Power is as promising as it seems, I could be convinced to pick up the rest of the set.