Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Blog Title

This is a topic that vaguely relates to my life in some way. I have a few facts, but most of the things I say are based on random experience or total opinion. I might throw in a few things about how I'm feeling right now too.

Closing statement.

Apparently this is what happens when it's hot out - I stop being able to think.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

If at first the answer is no... ask somebody else

Some of you, such as my sister, or my friend's dad, may have been confused by one of my latest Facebook statuses.

Why is it that I suddenly only have room for 3 classes which are neither major or graduation requirements in my schedule, when I haven't taken any such classes yet? Oh, yeah, because my adviser changed his mind about Mudd Engineering Clinic replacing thesis, so now its an elective which will "compliment" thesis. Wait...

Okay, so I know that a lot of you are confused by a lot of my Facebook statuses, but I honestly don't care that much... sorry.  But this one has a story behind it, and a happy almost ending, that I actually wanted to share.

When I started college, I did so knowing that I wanted to complete a major relating to Environmental Science.  I'd taken the AP course in high school, and my teacher told me I clearly had a passion for the subject and should pursue it (I did have a passion for it, he wasn't just saying.)

Over the summer, I figured out exactly what I wanted to do: sustainable design.  Well, not exactly, that's still horribly vague.  But knowing that I want to design things, as opposed to study the environment, or make laws... that's something I can actually base my choice of major on.

Luckily, the school(s) I go to just compiled all of the environment related majors into one: Environmental Analysis, which has a number of tracks.  (For those of you who don't know me or the school I go to, there are 5 colleges which are in a partnership, so students can take classes at and even major at a different college than the one they attend.)  Environmental Analysis is offered at all five of the colleges, but different colleges have different tracks.  Only one had a track relating to what I want to do: Environmental Physics and Engineering.

There were two problems with this.  I don't like physics (I like learning it, I don't like trying to apply my knowledge).  The school offering this track doesn't have any engineering professors, so all the advisers for it are physics professors.  See the conflict coming?

There are, of course, engineering courses offered at a different school that I can take to complete the major.  I will be completing my major without taking any more physics courses.  Engineering majors at the school which offers those classes do not write a thesis; instead, they do a project called "clinic" which is super intense and results in actually creating something, with a team of people, for a purpose or some customer.  I had heard that I could participate in clinic instead of writing a thesis.  However, my adviser was putting my major requirements in terms of a physics major: I had to write a thesis, even if I did clinic.  Also, I had to take a course which involves prepping for the Physics GRE and probably take the Physics GRE (remember, I'm not taking any more physics courses between now and graduation), and working on thesis.

It didn't make sense.  It was frustrating.  It was stressful.  He wouldn't budge.  I otherwise like my adviser, but something seemed strange.  But he wouldn't budge.

So last night I emailed the head of the department.  He'd initially told me that he didn't see why I should have to do both clinic and a thesis.  So I figured he could clear things up.

I was scared by an out of office email I got.  Apparently he wasn't.  He emailed me back this morning.  Having consulted with another department head.  Agreeing that trying to do both a thesis and clinic would be too much, and I could do just clinic if I wanted to.  Also telling me he'd be willing to talk to my advisor about the GRE prep course, if there were still issues.

Apparently, the right answers are there.  I just have to ask the right people.

(On an unrelated note, one of my professors wrote Economics for Dummies.
He's a nutjob, but still pretty cool. And yes, it was my Econ professor.)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Kissing in the rain isn't all it's cracked up to be

I was lying awake last night listening to the rain.  It's been raining hard the past couple of days, for March in Southern California.

I like the rain.
It makes me cold and wet and uncomfortable.
It makes me wish I didn't have to go outside to get food or go to class.
But mostly, it reminds me of home.

Everyone thinks I came to California for the weather.  People from Seattle are jealous of me, people from California say "oh, you must love all the sun down here!"  I don't know how many times I've heard that.  I don't know how many times I've had to say that I don't, in fact, love living here.  It's too dry, too hot, too everything Seattle's not.

Even when it rains here, its different.  The infrastructure isn't designed for rain, so everything floods.  Sidewalks don't drain, sprinklers stay on... sprinklers exist.  Nobody uses sprinklers in Washington.

I don't know if I've ever owned a pair of rainboots until now.  I didn't really even mean to buy rainboots.  I wanted a pair of boots I can wear in the snow, since I like to go skiing and don't have any good shoes for before and after ski boots (wearing ski boots around is too dreadful to do for too long).  There were boots that looked warm, and then there were boots that looked waterproof.  This is Washington snow I'm talking about.  I went for waterproof: rainboots.

I convinced my mom to buy them for me under the premise that I could bring them down to college and wear them in the rain.  God forbid I should be caught wearing rainboots in Seattle.  You don't need them.  There's never any puddles.  I didn't expect to use them much.  But it's been raining plenty.  And suddenly I love walking in the rain... jumping in the puddles.  Sloshing in the streams.  Enjoying childhood pleasures I swear I never experienced before.  Then going to bed to experience the incredible silence that comes with a rainy night, because when its raining, nobody goes outside.

Of all of the Hollywood romantic moments that I've ever dreamed of, I think kissing in the rain has been there the longest.  It's strange, you'd think with a few and a half relationships and a dozen and a half years of living in Rainy Seattle under my belt that I'd have covered that already.  I suppose you'd think a lot of things that aren't true.  I suppose Hollywood should have been one of those things.  But a girl can dream.

I still like the rain.
It makes me cold and wet and uncomfortable.
It makes me want to go inside and snuggle up by a warm fire in a pile of blankets, after splashing through puddles with the love of my life, whoever that may be.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

We like the mooon...

'cos it is close to us.

Tonight, it's closer than usual, apparently, and will look bigger.  So if you haven't heard already, you should go take a look at it tonight.  Assuming it isn't overcast where you are, like it is right now in Sunny Southern California.  Anyways, I'll be out checking for it in an hourish.

So yeah.  Apparently I don't think over breaks.  The reason I haven't posted yet isn't that I'm busy, or even really that I'm lazy... it's almost entirely because I was in denial about the day of the week so I didn't realize Thursday had passed until the middle of the day yesterday.  And then I was busy crocheting.  ... Or lazy, take your pick.

Anyways, in honor of the moon being big tonight, here's a song.  To warn you, it will start playing right away and it's kinda annoying.  But... rathergood.  Smirk.  (I read somewhere that "lol" has come to mean "I smirked a little".  I'm sometimes not even sure I smirk when I write it...)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

It's just Bill Gates!

Word around campus is that Bill Gates is in town.

No, let me rephrase that.

Bill Gates is on campus.  He gave a talk this afternoon.  Everyone was psyched.  Apparently he's a big celebrity or something.

... You know you're from Western Washington when someone says they saw Bill Gates walking around and you think "What of it?"  I mean, I guess I've never seen him in person, but I've seen his house, from a distance.

I did go to the talk, though.  It was a pretty spur of the moment decision made last week or whenever the deadline to get free tickets was.  I mean, he doesn't have celebrity status in my mind, but he's a cool guy.  And I'm really glad I went.

For one thing, he seems like someone who's got a good head on his shoulders.  He's not all in-your-face "I'm rich and don't understand what money is worth" like some people I know.  He's not "I worked my way up to have all this money so I don't see why the poor people can't do that too" like a lot of people who disagree with taxes and social support.

Quite the opposite: he knows that he had a lot in his favor allowing him to end up where he is now.  And he said, very specifically, that those of us in an advantaged position in life need to make the effort to directly give a hand up to the poorest poor, to get them to an acceptable standard of living.  And he's dedicated to making that happen.

For two, he clearly has a sense of humor.  When talking about government spending, for example, he speaks of the schizophrenia of American opinions (okay, he really meant dissociative identity disorder, but I'm gonna let that slide).  If you ask most Americans if the Federal Government is spending too much money, most will say yes.  But if you start listing specific programs - Pell Grants, for instance, or health care for the poor - they'll respond "oh no, you can't cut that!".  So, he says, when you start asking the difficult questions, you start to find that what Americans really have a problem with is arithmetic.

Later, someone asked him how he felt about the defense budget, and he started off "well, there are some things I know more about and some things I know less about.  This really isn't my area of expertise."   He admitted plainly that he didn't understand the concept of military assistance, or what good it does.  He said he didn't get why we thought it'd make people like us.  "Oh great!  They'll really like us!  We'll go in, stay a few years, leave, and in the mean time, we'll have shot some people!"

What I loved best, though, was an amusing matter-of-factness that made him seem aware that he was different, but not trying to brag about it.  When he was talking about budget issues, for instance, he said that we are very close to completely eradicating polio.  Unfortunately, the feds are thinking of cutting the funding towards eradicating polio from the budget, which he says could lead to European countries deciding it's okay if they do the same.  He doesn't think that the budget for polio in the federal budget is very signifigant: "We (the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) give twice as much money towards eradicating polio than the United States Government."  When asked what he would choose as a major if he was a freshman at Harvey Mudd or Pomona College, he started a sentence with "when I dropped out..." (but didn't encourage that for anyone).  Rather, he encourages math and science careers, but also says if his kids choose to do different, he's okay with that, because "somebody has to do the not math and science stuff..."

A good talk.  A pleasant reminder that there are people in the world with the right ideas. ... Did somebody say something about gates?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Poorly Written Number and a Wrong Recipe

I've spent far too large of a portion of my last 26 hours writing an essay, I'm not terribly up to actually writing a detailed post right now.  But a couple anecdotes from my day:

Gustar: in level 1 Spanish, you learn that it means "to like" and has a really strange conjugation form.  Later on, you learn that it actually means "to be pleasing (to)".  So, if I say "A mi me gusta dibujar", I'm saying "I like to draw", but I'm actually saying "Drawing is pleasing to me" or, word for word, "to me (it) is pleasing to draw".  The point of all this is that you conjugate the verb such that the thing which pleases you is the subject of the sentence, so conjugation of the verb indicates the subject of the sentence.  Today in class, the teacher asked a student why he had gotten a particular tattoo.  "Porque me gusto."
The teacher laughed.  "You just said you're pleasing to yourself..."

A Recipe: "Lightly coat a small nonstick skillet with cooking spray and cook over medium heat. Add 1/2 cup egg substitute.  Yes, that's the whole recipe.  I really hope that its safe to eat egg substitute raw.

Wrong Number:  A friend of mine taught me a trick to knowing if a call is a wrong number, now that I'm in college.  If it is from your home area code and you don't recognize it, its probably a wrong number.  So today I got a call from my home area code that wasn't one I knew.  They'd left a message.  Not like I don't have my name in my answering machine message or anything.  A message for Susan, who is on the on call list for the Psychiatric Ward at a hospital in Seattle: someone can't work tonight, so could you come in?

Nope.  Sorry.  Not qualified.  Though I'd be glad to have a job.

Oh, and a new Jesus (bread) joke: leave room for Jesus!