Archive

Posts Tagged ‘awkward teamwork’

One Day Summarizes Everything

December 11, 2010 3 comments

Yesterday was the last regular day of the fall semester, and the events of the day have an eerie sort of encapsulating symmetry about them, if you look at them from a certain angle.

The first order of business was the robot competition in ECE 101.  This was held in the big lecture hall in the new wing of Barrows (the same room where ECE 100 seminars were held), and consisted of a showdown in the 4×4 maze for the four teams whose robots had performed best in the preliminary rounds of testing, which were held in the week’s regular lab sessions.

The rules of the ECE 101 robot contest are fairly simple: The robot has to navigate a maze based on 12-inch squares without any outside intervention.  The robot that is consistently the fastest over three complete runs wins.  Grounds for disqualification include manual intervention by the robots’ builders, any attempt by the robot itself to circumvent the structure of the maze (extremely unlikely given the nature of the robots’ construction), and contact with the maze walls.  Keep that last rule, particularly, in mind for the next thing I say:

It may give you some indication of how well the robot Let’s Call Him Matt and I built performed in the preliminary round when I tell you that it ended up being dubbed Harvey.

So, uh, we weren’t participating in the finals.  We did get it to move (the reason it wouldn’t turned out to be a programming problem in one of the header files that was so abstruse even Andy was impressed with its subtlety), but could never find the sweet spot for the sensor gain settings that would lead to any useful navigational abilities.  We ended up just running out of time – the Wednesday lab ended without Harvey having logged a single successful run in the 4×4 maze, and neither of us was able to attend the optional evening session or the Thursday afternoon lab, so Friday morning came with us never having gotten on the board at all.

Regardless, it was fun to watch the finals, and the performance of the robot that won overall was impressive.  The winning team received "production" robots, based on the same design we used for the ones we built in class, but based on a grown-up printed circuit board instead of a forest of Wire-Wrapped pins in plain perf board – not really much more practical than a trophy, since the ECE 101 Maze Robot’s practical usefulness potential is rather limited, but certainly something with more engineering cred when displayed on a shelf.

In the afternoon, I finally managed to deliver my fourth and final speech in CMJ 103 for credit, having done one dry run with it in Zay’s* office on Wednesday evening.  The second run was necessary because the visual aids were unavailable the first time, and it took us quite a lot of fiddling around to line up a room with a working projector.  We did finally get it done, though, and I had the curious experience of delivering an impassioned persuasive speech to an audience of one in what may be the oddest classroom on campus: 44 Dunn Hall, also known as "the airplane".  This gets its name from the fact that it is a curiously long and narrow room that’s been set up as a sort of miniature lecture hall.  It’s got four columns of seats arranged two-by-two with an aisle in the middle and a projector screen at one end, and the entrance is in the middle of one of the long sides, making entering it feel uncannily like boarding a commuter flight.

Even stranger, an hour later after delivering that speech to no one but Zay in a basement room resembling a small airliner cabin, I was on the other side of campus in a big lecture hall, one of the proper auditorium-style ones, delivering it again to a couple of hundred people.  This was because, as I previously mentioned, I’d been selected as Section 003’s delegate to the Oak Awards, a competition among the many (this semester, eight) sections of CMJ 103.

This was… a profoundly weird experience.  I mean to say, performing a set of prepared remarks in a semi-darkened theatre-like room, with my parents sitting at opposite sides pretending not to have noticed each other – it was like being a high school drama nerd again, except there was actually money on the line.  First prize at the Oak Awards is a $500 scholarship.  (And bragging rights for your instructor, who can thus force all the other CMJ 103 instructors for the semester to acknowledge that her kung fu is best.)

I was up second, which I thought was slightly odd since I was representing Section 003, but fine, no problem there.  My slides (or, well, it was actually a PowerPoint presentation, but it contained no clever inter-slide effects, not one single bullet point, and only one font, so my conscience is clear) had been provided to the MC ahead of time, and apart from not being able to control the room lights – which screwed up my planned attention-getting device a little, since it involved simulating an electric blackout – there were no technical problems.  I retired to my seat secure in the knowledge that I had done the best I could do and resolved to let the chips fall where they may.

The other seven speakers were a very mixed bag.  There were two civil engineering students, a nutrition and food science major, a pre-vet biologist, and a couple of others I don’t remember offhand – and one guy who actually was a communications major, who I figured might be trouble?  Except he had that rising intonation thing going on?  That the kids do these days?  Where everything sounds like a question?  Even when it isn’t?  And I may be revealing myself as an ancient fuddy-duddy here, but I just couldn’t take him seriously as a potential rival after that point.

Personally, I think the most interesting one of the seven was the guy who presented some well-reasoned and cogent points in defense of the thesis that recycling paper is a counterproductive waste of time, effort, and energy resources.  Well, I say interesting.  Two of the others were plenty interesting, but not in a "hmm, you know, he’s got a point" way; those would be the two who denounced, respectively, evolution and the Apollo 11 mission photos as scientific fraud.  (The latter actually caused me to facepalm involuntarily, which got me kicked chidingly in the ankle by one of my colleagues in the competitors’ corner.  I suppose it was a bit rude of me, but coming as it did directly on the heels of the evolution speech, I just couldn’t help it.)

So anyway, I won.

(That wasn’t a very dramatic buildup, yeah?  However, it’s roughly equivalent to the way the MC announced it after the judges deliberated.  I’d never seen an award announcement where they started with first place before.  It rather dampens the drama, I have to admit.  Also, while I’m proud of the achievement and the $500 will certainly help next semester, I’m a little disappointed that there’s no certificate or anything.)

So there you are.  In the same day, I – ostensibly an engineering major – failed to even make the finals of a technical competition held as part of an engineering core course, but swept the field and retired covered in glory in a liberal arts competition held in conjunction with a core humanities course.

That, I think, summarizes my whole Weltanschauung nowadays.

On the other hand, I’m not quite done with Harvey yet.  Any further work on the project won’t be useful for credit, since the class will be over on Monday, but I’m hoping to keep fooling with it over break anyway.  It just annoys me to leave the thing unfinished.

This weekend: prep for finals.  I have two, one in ECE 101, the other in MAT 122.  Confidence is moderate for both of them at this time – except I’m not sure when/where the MAT 122 one actually is.  I think the time/place I have in my appointment book is actually the final for MAT 122-0001, the Regular Course with the same prof as the online one I’m really enrolled in; the Office of Student Records claims the one for MAT 122-0990 is on a completely different day, but doesn’t say where it is.  Must email Prof. Zoroya and get that cleared up.

 

 

* Her name is Lindzay, making her the first academic instructor I’ve had who prefers to be known not just by her first name, but by a diminutive form of her first name, by her students.  But hey, whatever makes her happy.

Advertisements

The End Approaches

November 29, 2010 Leave a comment

Today opens the final two weeks of classes for this semester.  Once they’re over, there’s only final exams – of which I only have two this semester, so I’ll be done altogether by early on the afternoon of the 14th.

I got the results back today for the two tests I took just before Thanksgiving break; my scores were 88% on the CMJ 103 one (gods damn ambiguous multiple-choice terminology questions!) and ~86% on the ECE 101 one (I may get a point or two back from some omitted work that wasn’t actually omitted, but eluded the instructor’s notice because I did it on the back of the page and forgot to include a TURN OVER FOR WORK-> note on the front – we’re going to talk it over in lab on Wednesday).  Either way, I am reasonably pleased.  There’s no final exam in CMJ 103, so unless I utterly tank on speech #4, I should have no problems pulling an excellent final grade in that class, and ECE 101… well, that all depends on how I do on the final.

In other news, I got last week’s double homework and attendant quiz in MAT 122 finished with more than a full day to spare – even got some of it done from Chapman, which is a good showing, given the lack of really comprehensive facilities there.  There’s one more week’s worth of homework and one quiz to go in that course, then a week of review sessions and the final exam.  Again, unless I completely blow the final (which is conceivable), I should be well-positioned to make a respectable showing there.

I should note that two things of major significance remain in ECE 101: the final exam and the robot testing. (There are also three homework assignments left to do, though they’re fairly short compared to some of the monsters we’ve had earlier in the semester.)  We have two lab periods left; in one we have to complete and program the robot we’ve been building all semester, and in the other there will be a competition in which the robot must navigate a maze and then travel a set distance (not revealed to us until almost go time) in a straight line.  The second actually has potential to be the greater challenge, given that few of the robots, built as they are from recycled parts by fairly cack-handed students, are liable to track all that straight (which makes getting them to travel a set distance and only a set distance not as simple as just saying “proceed forward for $NUMBER motor steps”).

I’m a little nervous about the robot competition.  For one thing, I don’t particularly like competitions in general; for another, Let’s Call Him Matt and I still aren’t finished building ours.  We haven’t slacked off, particularly, but we’re not very speedy builders, and we know for a fact that two of our robot’s four photosensors aren’t working.  We’ve known that for months, actually, but when we first discovered it the TAs said, “Don’t worry about it, you’ll have a chance to fix those later.”  Well, it’s later, and they’re not fixed.  Plus, there’s a certain amount of creative programming required (and I strongly suspect the sample code we’ve been given has some deliberate mistakes in it to force us to debug as we go), and – as we have previously established here – I am crap at that.

So I dunno.  I don’t think you actually fail the course if your robot doesn’t perform very well, but I think it does at least have to work

Oh, and the weather has been so lousy this fall that we’re still not finished with all the observations we’re on the hook for in AST 110, which means tonight – which is forecast to be clear and bloody freezing – we’re up.  Which is why I’m in the library on campus blogging, waiting for it to be 8 PM so I can get my frostbite on.  On the other hand, this late in the year, Orion will actually be above the horizon before the session is over, so I can get my favorite asterism on the board after all.  (And then I get to drive to Moonbase Dad in a car whose heater controls packed up earlier today!  Hooray the Mini’s ongoing electronic senility!)

I’ve got more to say about AST 110-0990, but I’ll save that for an after-semester postmortem.

(Where the hell is all that noise coming from?  It sounds like a high school cafeteria in here.  This is a library, for Christ’s sake.  Kids these days.)

Is It That Time Again Already?

November 1, 2010 5 comments

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.

Sigh.

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.

Victoly!

October 13, 2010 Leave a comment

(So far.)

We got last Friday’s ECE 101 exam back today.  I scored 86 points out of a possible 90, which I believe you will find is (to three significant digits) 95.6%.

I consider that outcome acceptable.

This week’s lab was an open session with no set goals, since it’s a short week and the Monday and Tuesday kids didn’t get their regular lab sessions.  I was there for nearly the whole time anyway, because I was out sick last week and had quite a bit of catching up to do.  This consisted mostly of wire-wrapping, which I’m (let’s be honest) rubbish at.  My magnifying visor helps, but I still end up driving home with an eyestrain headache.

Still, I had a better time than my lab partner.  Let’s-Call-Him-Matt got his exam back in lab today too, and he… didn’t have much to be pleased about.  I wouldn’t know about this, since I’m not one to pry, except that he handed it to me after Andy returned it and said, "Am I reading that right?  Does that say 58?"  I confirmed that that was indeed the number before I consciously registered what the document was, which meant that my tone of voice was probably inappropriately chipper for bad news.  Between that, the news itself, and the annoying, fiddly rigors of wire-wrapping, Matt was in a pretty poor mood for the whole session, and I don’t blame him.  I wish I could’ve been more help, but I fear that in the event, my usual tendency to retreat into mumbling awkwardness in the face of another’s adversity prevented me from being of any use.

It didn’t help that several of our nearest classmates were in an irritatingly cheery mood and wouldn’t shut up about some Facebook game they’re all addicted to, before they switched to baiting our conservative Air Force ROTC TA about some upcoming political rally or another.  That kind of thing grates when you’re trying to concentrate on the wire-wrapping you’re hideously behind on, regardless of what news you’ve just received about your exam score.

The upshot of all that is that we’re still a little behind, though not as far as if we’d just skived off on open lab (which we were technically entitled to do) and tried to get it all done next week.  If I didn’t have an appointment tomorrow afternoon, I’d go in again after math and see about getting the rest of the wire-wrapping done, but alas I do.

Speaking of math, yesterday I started digging through the homework sections for the lectures I missed last week, and I think I’ll be able to catch up there as well, but it’ll take some doing.  Things are getting hot and heavy in precalc-land, and between that and the fact that I seem to be doing well on the practical end in ECE 101, I’m starting to think harder than ever about the possibility of switching to EET, or possibly even MET – though part of me is still whispering that I should get out of the technical fields altogether, simply because while I apparently can absorb advanced math, I don’t enjoy it.  I’m supposed to meet with my advisor sometime in the next couple-three weeks to start planning for next semester (I won’t be able to register for spring classes until November).  Until then, the indecision continues.

In the meantime, the last of the midterm exams is coming up Friday, in CMJ 103.  I’m slightly concerned about that one, not because the class is hard – it isn’t – but because the exam is based on the textbook, which we’re not really using all that much, and the book is extremely preoccupied with terminology, most of which is arbitrary.  Fortunately, the exam is mostly multiple choice; there’s one essay question, but one imagines that can’t be too extensive, since we only have a regular 50-minute class period to take the test.

Day Three: Decrepitude, or, Old in a Young World

September 1, 2010 3 comments

On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings, I have three classes in a row from 9 AM on.  Morning classes at the University of Maine run from the hour until ten minutes to the next one.

When you are an old, slow beast like me, ten minutes is not sufficient time to pack up your books and notebooks and such in your wheelie suitcase (and believe me, you would use a wheelie suitcase if your chemistry book weighed as much as mine), make your way out of one building, trudge across a large expanse of space, enter another building, find the room you want, and get yourself and your possessions squared away in a new space.  Particularly on a gaspingly, sidewalk-softeningly hot day like today, you will find yourself dragging into class at X:05, despite not having dawdled in any way.

I’m not sure what can be done about this, if anything, apart from doing everything I can to arrange my schedule next semester so that I don’t have any adjacent classes.  (I’m not sure that’s even possible, but perhaps it’s worth a try.)  I accept that I am older, slower, and fatter than the timetable designers probably had in mind, but still, I can’t figure out how students with actual mobility problems can possibly manage it.  The buildings my classes in aren’t even that far apart.  The furthest I have to go is from Little to Dunn.  God help me if I had to get from, say, Dunn to Nutting.  (Those unfamiliar with the UMaine campus can get an idea of what I’m talking about from the campus map.)

Apart from creative hydration and involuntary tardiness, today’s core experience was the first of the ECE 101 lab sessions.  Unlike my General Chemistry I lab, ECE 101’s lectures and lab sessions are all part of the same course, with the same instructor.  Our instructor in ECE 101 wants us to call him by his first name; I’m old-fashioned enough that this goes against every dealing-with-teachers impulse I possess.  So far I’ve escaped having to deal with the problem by avoiding situations in which I would have to call him by name.  One of these days, though, I’m going to have to either bite the bullet and call him Andy, or cement my status as the ancient fuddy-duddy of the class by sticking with “Prof. Sheaff”, which is incorrect as he’s not a professor, but does at least err on the side of respectfulness.

Anyway, the ECE 101 labs are held in one of the old laboratory rooms on the top floor of Barrows Hall, the EE building since time immemorial, and there we all found ourselves – 16 of the 60-odd students in this semester’s ECE 101 class, our instructor, and three graduate TAs.  Our task for the afternoon: get started on the semester’s project, which is building a little robot that will ultimately be asked to navigate a maze.

We’re building these from scratch, pretty much.  I mean, we’re not expected to go out and mine the silicon, extrude the wires for the resistor leads, and whatnot, but we’re starting with a piece of perf board and moving on from there.  Today’s session involved gluing component layout diagrams onto both sides of the board, fitting 64 Wirewrap pins, and starting on the soldering-on of the components, which was interesting, since most of us had never handled a soldering iron before, and at least one of us who had (hi) possessed a track record approaching “disastrous”.

Let me just make this part absolutely clear: There were 16 of us (20 if you count Prof. – uh – Andy and the three TAs)  in a room on the top floor of a non-air-conditioned building dating (I would guess) from the 1950s, on a muggy 95° day, soldering.  Yes.  This was one of the occasions when the comedy flop sweat never stopped coming.  And let me tell you, it’s hard to work with any confidence on tiny electrical components when sweat keeps dripping on the table.

Now, here is a fact worth considering: When you have a class of 16 people, and you (as the instructor) direct them to break up into eight teams of two each without providing any sort of guidance as to how this should be done, you will inevitably end up with one team, all the way at the back, made up of the two shyest guys in the room, who find themselves together pretty much by default.  So today that was me and a soft-spoken 20-year-old we’ll call Matt.  (Matt hasn’t actually done anything that would call for him to be anonymized, but he also isn’t aware that he’s featuring in some old guy’s blog, so it’s only common courtesy.)

Yeah, I did say that.  It might not seem like it on the Internet, where everyone’s free to be as big a loudmouth as they like, but I can be paralytically shy under the right conditions.  I’ve more than once received poor marks for in-class participation because I didn’t like to make a splash, and I’ve always been an especially lone wolf in practical tasks like laboratory classes, on the premise that it’s more work, but at least if I screw up, the people around me will only learn about it after the fact.  Sadly, there is no place in the modern educational context for lone wolves; Group Learning and Teamwork are in, especially in the engineering disciplines.  I suppose that’s reasonable enough.  Not many bridges or power stations get designed by one guy working alone in a darkened office at night.  Alas.

Matt and I actually worked pretty well together, despite both being so reluctant to impose that we sat and quietly watched each other commit egregious mistakes rather than risk giving offense by pointing them out in time to prevent them.  Perhaps as the semester progresses we’ll get more comfortable in the roles and stop that.  And we only had to pry out two of the pins and replace them after soldering the wrong component to them, so that’s not too bad for a first attempt, right?  (I was obscurely satisfied to notice that some of our soldered joints actually looked nicer than the one the TA did during his demonstration for us.)

We did make a little conversation toward the end of the three-hour lab period.  It came out in a chat with one of the roaming TAs that Matt’s a computer engineering major.  The two disciplines are slowly merging; in another 20 years there will probably only be “electrical and computer” engineers.  Right now you still have to pull a double major to get both degrees, but even the straight-up EEs (like me) have to take at least one programming class and do a bunch more coding along the way in some of the others.  Later in ECE 101 we’re going to have to do some C programming in order to make the robot work once we’ve built it.  I grumbled that if I’d wanted to be a computer programmer I’d have stayed in computer science, I came to EE to get away from the damn things, and offered to do all the hardware on the robot if Matt would do all the programming, but I think he thought I was kidding.  The TA certainly did, though he did sympathize with my loathing of programming and microsystems in general.  We agreed that Victorian electrical technology was the high point.

Speaking of micro-, I discovered another drawback of being an elderly person in a course of study designed for those freshly ejected from high school: I can’t see anything as small as a resistor resting between two Wirewrap pins well enough to solder it on without coming away from the afternoon with a kinghell case of eyestrain, and it wasn’t just because sweat kept dripping into my eyes.  (And that was with brand new glasses; I picked them up during my lunch break.)  I asked the TAs if they had a magnifying glass and they gave each other dumbfounded looks, indicating that no one had ever asked for such a thing before, but now that I brought it up it would be awfully handy, wouldn’t it?

(Did you know that it’s against University policy for one student to provide any pharmaceutical to another, regardless of said pharmaceutical’s legal status?  I didn’t, until I went to pop some Advil and asked – because it’s only polite – if anyone else wanted some.)

I’m still having my doubts that this is quite the right direction to be going in, partly because I still don’t have any kind of confidence in my math skills.  Of all the classes this semester to end up doing in a vague, arm’s-length, correspondence-school-style fashion, it would have had to be MAT 122, wouldn’t it?  Regardless, Friday is the Add/Drop deadline, so if I’m going to make any changes I’d better be about it.  I foresee spending a good bit of tomorrow groveling around the online course catalog and playing Pauli Exclusion Principle Bingo with section times.  What I have now represents the very best efforts of a very nice lady in Prof. Musavi’s office before the semester began, but perhaps other students have dropped things and opened up some fresh options now.

Oh.  And I think I’ll be looking into getting something along these lines, particularly if I’m going to be doing any more soldering.  Which I am, if I stay in this program or anything like it.

Tomorrow’s my day off, for values of days off that include doing a bunch of online homework and spending some quality time with the course registration tools.