Is It That Time Again Already?
The second MAT 122 exam is coming up on Wednesday evening (why they schedule these things from 6 to 8 PM I really couldn’t tell you). Oddly, I have so far found the material we’ve covered since the first exam to be easier than what we did in the first section. OK, yes, I did fall down rather badly on this week’s quiz, but that’s because I got complacent and tried to intuit transformations to the graphs of trigonometric functions on the fly rather than actually working them out. That works fine with sine and cosine graphs, but not so well for secant/cosecant and really not so much with tangent/cotangent. Result: that’ll be the quiz that gets thrown out at the end of the semester, and a lesson is learned.
Apart from that little difficulty, I’m feeling more sanguine about this exam than the first one. On the other hand, I managed to pull an 83% on that one despite a feeling of utter impending doom upon leaving the exam room, so what do I know about taking tests? At any rate, there’s a review session in the morning, and then I must rush home and vote. This will probably be more futile than the math review session, since – as usual – no one is running who I particularly think should be holding public office in the first place – but it must be done.
Over in ECE 101, things are… odd. We just finished what Andy insists was the hardest part of the course, which I suppose is the good news (although this week’s homework, which Andy says is easier than last week’s, might as well be in Amharic as far as I’m concerned, so don’t go by me). The bad news is, that means we’re on the doorstep of the part of the course that’s all C programming. The last time I tried to program in C, the year started with a 1 and the first President Bush (remember him?) was running for re-election. And it sucked. It sucked so much I abandoned computer science rather than ever have to do it again, only to discover, to my considerable dismay, that it’s followed me to electrical engineering (all the CS kiddies program in Java now). I really don’t want to do that again.
But really, I should feel fortunate, I suppose. I mean, I only have to come up with enough C to get our maze robot to work, and perhaps my lab partner – who started out as a computer engineering major and has already changed his major to computer science – will do some of that. It’s next semester that I’ll have to take an entire course in the damn thing, ’cause that’s when ECE 177, Introduction to Programming for Engineers, arrives. And, as I may have previously mentioned, it doesn’t matter if you’re not a CE major, or want nothing to do with computer programming ever again; in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, we all float down here.
In the short term, though, maybe the programming section will re-engage Let’s Call Him Matt a little. Since he informed me a couple of lab sessions ago that a) physics sucks b) wire-wrapping sucks and c) Wednesdays suck (and for the record I can’t really argue with any of those), and that as a result he’s changed his major, his participation has been a bit… desultory. He doesn’t technically need ECE 101 any more; it’s not going to do him a lick of good as regards his eventual degree in computer science. He’s still trying to finish it, because this late in the semester it’ll still affect his GPA, but other than that it’s not that important. He’s not explicitly punting, for which I am grateful, but he’s certainly neither bright-eyed nor bushy-tailed.
I sympathize. His Wednesday schedule is such that by the time he arrives for our three-hour lab at 2 PM, he’s been going since 9 AM, and he still has one more class to go to before he’s done for the day at 8 PM. Judging by the state of him when he gets to lab, he doesn’t seem to have time for lunch, either, as he’s always starving. I had a Wednesday that looked like that myself, at the start of the semester, but I dropped the class that would’ve had me in at 9 and out at 8 because, well, I had the leisure to do it. I’m carrying the bare minimum of credit hours required to maintain full-time student classification, because unlike most of these kids, I’m not really fussed about finishing in four years. It’s rather liberating. I can see where it wouldn’t be an option if you’ve got your parents to answer to, though.
Anyway, I wish Let’s Call Him Matt well in his new field, and I hope it’s what he’s looking for and that the reduced science requirement means he no longer has to take any sucky physics courses. (I’m scheduled for the one that’s kicking his ass this semester, next semester.) I just hope he doesn’t check out entirely before the semester’s over, ’cause I’m a fairly slow worker and, left to do it all myself, would probably have our robot working in time for graduation.
Speaking of scheduling for next semester, I mentioned last time that I’ve done it on the school’s "wish list" course reg tool (since I can’t actually register until the 10th). Well, it’s not shot day +1 now, and I can tell you that I still don’t much like what I see there. Picking up only the three courses required on Semester 2 of the current EE curriculum (for a minimum 12-credit load again), I’m still on campus a lot more than I have to be in this 12-credit semester, for some odd reason. Worse, I couldn’t arrange for any blank days during the week at all, something I very much wanted in the winter semester, what with every day I’m on campus representing a 120-mile round trip, 4-6 gallons of gas, and all. But no, it appears there’s no way to take MAT 126 that doesn’t require appearing on campus every single day. Feh.
(And why does PHY 121, Physics for Engineers I, start at 5 PM? Has the prof got a day job or something?)
I remain very tempted to change programs myself, though not until semester’s end, but I’m not sure where to go. EET is a possibility, as is ME, though in both cases there are introductory classes that are only offered in the fall semester, so I’d spend the spring taking electives (which wouldn’t be so bad, actually) and then basically start over again next fall. And there’s still part of me that would very much like to just get the hell away from anything that requires advanced math, but that part has so far been stayed by the grim realities of the graduate employment picture in the humanities these days.
I know I keep coming back to this subject here, and I apologize for that, but it’s because I keep circling back to it in my mind as I consider my future. Because it’s a real Scylla/Charybdis sort of situation for me, knowing that I have the ability to pursue a technical career, but doubting whether I have the passion for it. You know all the hearts-and-flowers talk high school guidance counselors give you about following your heart and money isn’t everything? If my 19 years stumbling around in the private sector without any real qualifications taught me anything, it’s that, uh, yeah, actually, it kind of is. And so I eye the exit wistfully but know that, practically speaking, I’m better off doing something that doesn’t really turn me on.