Saturday, October 15, 2005

Me + Lectures = Incomprehension

That does it. I can't follow lectures. I can not, as of now, follow lectures. This is not set in stone; I'll reevaluate periodically, but for the most part, it's more worth my while to find some other way to get lecture content instead of trying to find a way to compel myself to focus on them.

The previous comment is being written in - and inspired by - Harvard's Science Center Lecture Hall B, where I'm sitting in the middle of Startup School right now (and as per previous paragraph, not getting anything anyone is saying). To my right are a whole lot of people, mostly young techie males (mid-twenties-ish). To my left are not quite as many people. Specifically, Mark, and then Andrew... though they're also twenties-ish techie males. It's just a curious note. I'm not surprised and don't mind particularly, but I wonder why that is, and how that might be changed (the gender and age and techieness ratio here, I mean). Not that it should be. But I like playing with parameters.

I sound like I'm trying to be a geek right now, don't I? ("When I get my own place, I'm going to get a protoboard and some old electronics parts and solder together a 1337 sign.") (I will, too.)

Anyway, back to lectures. The way it seems to work best is if I get a book and read it during the lecture - that way, I can occasionally catch snatches of things, watch what's being written on the board (or powerpoint), and generally be able to participate if I so choose; I learn material, can take notes, and know who's getting what. Later on, I can debrief with classmates - we'll both know the same basic stuff, but they can fill in the gaps that I missed in lecture, and I can give them additional background and show them where to find things in the book. So this is the protocol I'll be using for the remainder of the semester.

Andrew, bless him, had business card paper and insisted that I take a few sheets. So I have business cards. I feel weird having such things - I do not feel professional in the least, and think that competent people (not teenagers pretending to be such, like I am) should have cards - but he does have a point; we give out our contact information to people a whole lot, and this makes it more efficient.

Next semester's list of Big Things:

HPV. This will get pretty intense as we ramp up to competition. I plan on learning lots of MechE stuff from this.

Next semester's list of things I want to be into - none definite, most probable.

HFID#. DJ and I want to do an extension of the class focusing on prototyping technologies (him) and how they change the way programmers think about design (me, though there is definitely plenty of overlap in both directions).

Political Issues IS: Mark, Andrew, and I - if schedules permit - would like to have a weekly discussion/debate on a different political issue every week... with lots of background reading and research prep before each meeting, and something to show for it (I miss writing) afterwards - and talking to other people on the topic is a completely valid form of research as well.

Chinese. I'd love to audit the Wellesley class. If not, I'll keep up my completely informal independent plugging in the morning, and the cocurricular, and happiness.

Stat!. If our startup goes well, I'll be sinking a lot of time into it.

Work? A part-time job - in industry, preferably - and (very hopefully and preferably) dealing with knowledge management, interfaces, knowledge management interfaces, or how technology influences a work culture - would rock my socks off. I've never formally worked in industry - just academia - and would like to see what that's like before I graduate.

Art. I really want to take Prof. Donis-Keller's drawing class. I loved Seeing and Hearing - it did more for my art knowledge in that one semester than I'd gotten out of anything the previous 17 years - and I sorely miss drawing.

Advertising. I've always been curious about how to make good ads, since I debated between engineering and graphic design years ago - I'm not sure how to go about this. Maybe just make some stuff and ask Duncan what he thinks.

Philosophy or Psychology or Educational Theory. I'm cross-registering, darn it. For a humanities class, darn it. I'm taking AHS, darn it!

ECE Elective. Might as well wrap up my degree while I'm at it, neh?

POE. Auditing, taking, or just peeking in - I'm not sure which. But I'd dearly love to learn how to program a PIC better, and how to hook it to something mechanical.. and to see how the class has evolved (and improved) since us guinea pigs took it sophomore year.

Things I will not be doing next semester:

100% Tech Classes. Never again will I let a semester without humanities pass. Three times is far too much.

Teaching. I'm limiting myself to one semester of formal paid teaching positions a year - I love it so much that I put a ridiculous amount of time and effort into it, and it really drains me. Absence makes the heart fonder - plus I'll be a better teacher if I give myself room to grow, too. Semesterly sabbaticals make sense, if not for the mildly disturbing fact that I'm an undergrad and I'm taking teaching sabbaticals already. I do love ECS NINJAing, though.

Back to the normal discussion.

So at about 8pm tonight, I found myself running through the Alewife garage after a tow truck in Andrew's shoes. Almost forgot to tell this story. The plastic ring on my key snapped off, and since I'm used to keeping it on a ring and forgot to put it in my pocket in the interim, I left it on the front seat. Of the locked car. Which we - Mark, Andrew, and I - found out when we got back to the car to go home.

We tried the coathanger-pick-lock solution, I ran around asking the T attendants, parking lot attendants, and Bertucci's people for the AAA number, realized I couldn't understand the phone's voice prompts... in the end, the tow truck came and stuff worked out. But it was an adventure when it happened (we were on the verge of carrying-out from Bertucci's and eating on the roof of the car, since AAA said two hours - but took 15 minutes). And I was wearing Andrew's shoes because my dress shoes are a size too small (I grew) and it turns out that when they get wet in the rain, they leave huge blisters over the backs of my heels that make movement agony. Thankfully, he'd just come back from Paper Bike and had extra socks and shoes in his luggage. Go Andrew. And Mark was the one who actually called AAA when I couldn't understand stuff over the phone. Go Mark. I'm very, very thankful my friends were around.

Andrew and I had an interesting convo snippet during one of the Startup School lectures. One of the participants asked a question about how we could increase the number of engineers produced by the US.

Andrew: *points to his notebook, on which he has scribbled the word "OLIN" in response to the question*

Me: "The question shouldn't be 'How do we make more engineers?' It should be 'How do we get more people to do engineering?' How do we get people that aren't necessarily engineers to do engineering things?"

Andrew: "It ought to be 'How do we get engineers to enjoy engineering?"

Me: "Not just engineers, but everybody. It's like coding - before, it was this specialized academic thing, but now it's -" (and I get cut off by the next speaker at this point, but what I intended to say was that now programming is spreading to the masses; people that aren't professional CS geeks are doing programming stuff as a tiny part of their daily lives. A more extreme example - writing used to be a specialized skill. Look at literacy now.)

My teaching philosophy

Don't give a man a fish. You'll only feed him for a day.
Don't teach a man to fish. You're only telling him what to do.
Give a man a leatherman. Tell him there are these things called fishing poles and nets, that he knows the stream better than you do, and can he help you figure out a way to pull this fishing thing off for his village.

Or put another way - don't help yourself. Don't help people. Don't help people help themselves. Help people help other people. (In order for one person to help another, that person must first be stable and well-off themselves - so you will still have to help yourself, other people, other people to help themselves, etc - but with this end progression in mind.) Viral helping. Yay!

I definitely have a problem with wanting to be The One Who Helps People - I want people to need my help, and I don't want to ever pull help away from someone too early - so I don't push people to be as independent as I ought to be (sometimes I keep them from becoming independent, in fact - it's bad, and I need to fix this tendency before I even think of becoming a mom someday). So I am trying to fix that.

The Swear Jar

Cursing is a recent habit I've picked up - I swear very rarely and only when I'm terrifically upset, but it's still a habit I do not want to continue. Hence...

5 cents - d**n, s*ck, scr*w, h*ll
10 cents - c**p, s**t, holy s**t
25 cents - f**k

All proceeds to go to some good cause I haven't determined yet. It counts when I say it out loud or when I write it down. I may use these words in a non-swear context (for instance, "can you hand me the Phillips? I can't get this screw out" or "in this religion's view, hell is a place where...") without penalty. I have cost myself 70 cents today. (Most of this occured when I found I'd locked my keys in the car.)

And back again.

After getting my car unlocked, we went to Sweet Basil. Good stuff. This weekend is essentially draining all but $10-ish of my Fun Money for the month - which works, since next weekend is Family Weekend and I have no time to do anything anyway.

Okay. I need to sleep. I'm waking up in 3 hours. Time for bed.

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