Math; we covered adding and multiplying Matrices and building a matric out of a set of equations. Apart from the "Oh, neat!" factor, I'm not entirely sure where I would apply these; systems of solutions are much easier for me to handle. I do see where the concepts of Matrix math work into building arrays in programming, so there is that.. I got a 97% on the test. Mostly what I missed were silly things. In one problem, I used a "3" instead of a "-3". In another problem, I circled my final matrix as the solution to the problem instead of the ordered triplet. Both of those are silly mistakes but I guess, yes, they were mistakes. Another point was lost when I wrote "Orders do not match." for the answer to a problem that involved adding two matrices together. The teacher counted my answer as "wrong" and said I should have said "Not possible". Uhm... Pretty sure I implied thta by not trying to answer the question, but hey. To move a score from 97% to 98%... not worth quibbling.
Chemistry was stupidly simple. We covered shapes of molecules, hybridization of orbitals, and the ideal gas law. Herp. 103% on that test.
My chemistry is slipping! I only got a 97% on the last exam :o Joking aside, we covered quantum mechanics on single atoms. We're supposedly going to cover quantum mechanics of molecular systems too, but judging by this guys pace compared to the course syllabus, I don't think that's going to happen. We're covering the Lewis dot structure now... I think this course would have been better if we started with that and worked the other direction. If I stop going to class and get a 0 on the final exam, I'll pass the class with a 70% so it's pretty well impossible for me to fail this class.
I got a 101% on the math test; we covered logarithmic and exponential functions, graphed them, split "complicated" logs apart into simple ones, combined bunches of simple logs into "complicated" logs... then of course there was the traditional move the graph left, right, up, down, shrink it and expand it. Next, we're going to look at solving systems of equations and matrices. I got news for her; I learned solving systems of equations and matrices back in middle school >:)
Because my next history test lines up with the 4th exam for my other two classes, I'm opting to say we did not have an exam 3 for history.
I've also seemed to have taken up a new hobby of collecting calculators. I have a simple one that's great for most everything but graphing, and a graphing calculator. Then I lost my simple one so I bought another in the same series but with different features; it does systems of equations and matrices where-as my old one did not. Then I found my lost one. And my graphing calculator is "too awesome" to use on exams so I got another less powerful graphing calculator for tests from my wife, which is odd because the stuff that makes my graphing calculator too awesome is stuff we don't use in this class, so... So that's 4 calculators: TI-36X Solar (my awesome simple one), TI-36X Pro (not so awesome but it does do systems and matrices, so..), TI-83 graphing calculator which my wife loaned me, and a TI-89 Titanium which I can't use because it's too good at doing stuff we're not covering in this class.
Also, as an aside: I have found that my math book has answers for all the odd numbered problems in the back, so when I have to teach math to someone, it'll be that much easier to generate a homework assignment.
Nobody read the book (well, 3 of us did) so we couldn't talk about it in class. This pissed off the teacher os he made the test super hard. I got the highest grade in the class with a 79%.
Now we're off to study Aristotle...
Oh, and weird chick is still weird.
I gave an introductory speech of myself, filled the time slot well, got a perfect 100%. Scored an 83% on the exam afterwards... The way grading works though, even if I bombed all 3 exams with 0's I could get a 70% in the class. So all I need to get an A then is slightly better than a 66% on each exam. But that's automatically a failing grade, so I have to get 70's or better so.... but anyways.
The next speech is a commemorative speech. I'm going to commemorate Shirin Ebadi for everything she has done to advance human rights, children's rights, and prisoners rights.
The teacher likes to make it sound as though every story involves sex, so I threw one over on him. We read a story about a guy who was reluctant to meet a blind person because of some preconceived notions he had from television. In the story, his wife has been communicating with him for over a decade and brings him to the house to stay for a night while he's on a trip to visit his in-laws. The blind guy and the other dude have a moment of bonding while smoking weed and watching tv.
Then we discussed it in class, and everyone was talking about this and that and the other thing... I said it was all one giant metaphor for gay sex.
Class goes "wha?".
The guys wife wanted him to experiment so she found a suitable friend to enlighten her husband with, introduced them, and then the epiphany of the story where he's figuring out that blind people aren't that bad, that's when he's having an orgasm. Duh.
He was dumb-founded, so my job was done.
Do I really think the story was sexual in any way? No. Kind of my point; in the words of Sigmund Freud, "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar".
We had a test, I'll find out my grade on tuesday.
That said, I'm going to make use of every mini-semester I can to get ahead. And summer semester.
Weird chick is still weird. Read "Republic" by Plato, it was interesting. Covers population control, subjugation of different classes and genders, who should be educated in what ways, and gets rid of the idea of family units. Instead, mating would only occur one month out of the year as the ruling class saw fit, and only between couples the ruling class arranged. All people younger than yourself would be labeled your "children" and would be off-limits for the following years mating rituals, but your sisters and brothers are still fair game. Awesome, Plato!
Going to cover Mussolini, Machiavelli, and Marx in the course of this semester too.
I have to give a 3 minute speech introducing myself on Tuesday. Piece of cake. Otherwise... rude class is rude; everyone is in a dual credit program for the high school that's inside the college. All of my classmates are 16, 17..
Read "The tell-Tale Heart" by Edgar Allen Poe, had to write a review. Discussed it in class too. I declared that the guy had a subluxation of the C1-C2 vertebrae; that would explain perfectly the ringing in his ears, the dulling of his senses that he perceived as heightening, aural hallucinations, and general craziness.
Teacher was like "Uh... what?"
But I backed it up with explanations on how the nervous system works, how muscle tensions work and affect nerve function, etc etc. He accepted all that, but really... am I the only one who knows how the human body works? Well..... again, this class, too, is full of dual credit students - they're all 16 or 17yo high schoolers.
Weird chick is weird. She'll get up in the middle of lecture and walk around to see what other people are doing, reading their notes and looking at their laptop screens. Then she'll comment on someones (mine) shirt and not understand what the word "pictorial" means when I say it's a "pictorial pun". Or she'll reach down to touch someones steel toe boot, pick something off it, and hand it to the guy.
The attention whore in this class is nowhere near as bad as the attention whore from last semester, but she still intrudes on too many of my conversations with others. Either that or she's "hungry", ifnya know what I mean wink wink nudge nudge.
As far as class material, we discussed Martin Luther King Jr.'s letter from a Birmingham jail cell in class. Covered some of what some "Leo Strauss" guy considers to be "politics". I find it interesting that we've spent 2 days so far doing nothing but covering definitions. Definitions are important; can't have a real discussion that doesn't devolve into hate-filled agreement without them.
No sign of the teacher yet, but we did have a substitute on Thursday. This'll be an easy class; I read through the book and it's all stuff I learned in JROTC. All I really need to learn are the words this particular book uses for concepts I already know. No big deal.
We read some lame story about a woman who had a bunch of potatoes dropped into her kitchen that constantly came back when she tried to throw them out. Turns out her family all died at once and her lover left her behind while seeking employment elsewhere. The potatoes grew into babies that crawled around and followed her everywhere. My take on it was that they were a metaphor for repressed memories that were interfering with her life until she accepted them and embraced them. Lame, really.
I voiced that opinion in class in response to the teacher asking what we thought of it. Nobody else said squat. This is one of those times when I wonder if I'm really smart for seeing the metaphor immediately and everyone else was incapable of seeing it, or if everyone else saw it and thought it was so lame that they didn't bother to say anything about it and I'm pretty stupid for thinking I must be smart for seeing something so obvious.
Speech class... teacher was sick, no class.
English class, Composition II. Obviously this guy has never taught before. And on top of that, everyone in the class with me are in high school. Literally. Dual credit program. So, one of his rules is "no talking during class", which is fine, I respect that. But then he was writing on the whiteboard and had been doing so for 2 minutes. A girl across the room said something to herself so faintly I could barely hear it; prof stopped writing, turned around, stared, and waited for her to say "I'm sorry?" before letting out a "pfffffff." and a shake of his head before going back to writing. Yeah, that is a little bit over the line I think. I'll have to beat him into line. No real assignment yet but we did a "diagnostic essay" today where we had to write about 3 stories we love. I don't read much fiction and I'm not about to recount all the physics books I've read, so I started out saying I don't read but I have amassed a collection of stories about real people, in real current events. I wrote about Shirin Ebadi, Lou Xiaobo, and Martin Luther King Jr. The central theme was that I liked the selfless and peaceful fights for civil liberties. Supposedly it doesn't get graded, which is good because I screwed up Lou Xiaobo's name big time....
I really wish I could have seen the look on my English teacher's face when she looked at my essay on "Color". I quoted all the big names; J.J. Thomson, Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, Max Plank... oh yeah!
Philosophy teacher invited me to an exclusive class next semester because he likes me. It sounds like a fun class too so I'm going.
I listed the good parts of it; we can call each other names when a friend exhibits behavior that's and contradictory to their overall view of the world and they'll understand that we really know they're not that, so they'll laugh and the humor raises spirits.
I also listed all the bad parts of it; it prevents people from discussing ideas or presenting solutions to problems, and if someone is told that their great idea is endorsed by someone else with a name they don't like, they'll drop the idea in a bid to not be like that other person.
The essay itself was crap for structure, format and layout. The thesis was weak so the conclusion suffered. Hard to conclude something you aren't even hypothesizing! Some of my support was a little inconsistent too.
She gave me an "A" because I chose a non-typical topic (most people I guess choose things like abortion, gun rights, prohibition of alcohol/drugs, and violence but never venture outside of that sphere) and went into all kinds of psychology on it that she'd never heard anyone talk about before but made sense.
I get to revise it and turn it in again in a few weeks.
The Math test wasn't difficult, but it had a lot of work and not a lot of time. I am confident that I got all the answers I got correct, but I was half way through the last remaining question when he announced he is now leaving and if we didn't give our tests to him immediately (it was passed the end of class and he teaches another class at another college), we'd get 0's. I'm sure I got a 95% on the test, which with the homework and such, would bring me up to a 103. I did calculate that with the two previous 110%'s that I have, I could get as low as a 50% total score on this test and still have a 90 in the class. With the homework, that means I could get as low as a 37%. Yeah right.
The philosophy test was difficult, not because of the material, but because it was multiple choice and all his answers could be interpreted multiple ways - usually two ways. One wrong, one right. I talked to a few people after class, they felt the same and answered the same way I did but were also uneasy about them. We're either all passing or all failing!
I got an A on my last english essay. Easy class. My classmates are not helpful in their peer reviews tho so writing decent papers is hard; I like to bounce things off other people to see if what I'm saying makes sense but they just... well, they mark up what sentences in my paper are topic sentences, which ones tie back to my thesis statement, etc.. except I already knew those things, I wrote it. Ah well.
We'll see what happens.
We had a pop quiz on Tuesday, the question was short and simple but the answer was not. The question was "What did Ortega mean by calling Philosophy a bag of intellectual experiences?"
The answer of course, relates to how philosophy is the practice of asking and answering questions related to how and why we came to be here. Philosophy requires thinking and in the process of thinking, we have intellectual experiences.
We had a test on Tuesday. It was over exponents, graphing functions, solving systems of equations... plbbbt, rather lame actually.
110/100, I would have gotten 114/100 but I made a small clerical error on one question. 0=0 tells me "infinite solutions" but it was a multiple choice exam so I circled "no solution". Turns out he wanted us to write it in terms of (x,2x-8). He even said it right before the test so I should have thought of that but... oh well.
No tests in this class, at all. Turned in an essay today. We wrote an essay, collectively as a class, about "Is it appropriate for Obama to call Kanye a Jackass?". My response was "Is it appropriate to ask if it is appropriate?". I refrained from the actual writing part since I have no interest in the topic, but I did add in my dollar fifty worth of knowledge about how an essay should be written and why certain things were the way they are.
Teacher is a douchenozzel. She actually believes that we are supposed to watch mainstream media and care about what it tells us to care about. whaaaaaaaa? Oh well.
The Eklutna Valley: A Lesson in Life
There are many places that have special meaning to me. Some are places where I played a lot as a child, some are places where important events in my life have taken place, and some are places where I could just get away from everything. The most special place to me, however, is none other than where I go to be alone, recreate, and learn about life. The most special place to me is Eklutna Lake.
A trip to Eklutna Lake involves more than just going there. First, there is the long and arduous drive; 13 miles of windy road that traverses many hills. Dangerously close to both sides of the road, an eroding rock face eats away at the mountain side. One wrong move and you will end up at the bottom of it! For the risks, however, it does offer some very rewarding views. Through a scattering of trees, you can see sunlit valleys, majestic mountains, and an abundance of wildlife! The end of the road is the trail head that takes you to and around Eklutna Lake.
A walk along the trail is a true adventure. Through the summer and fall, squirrels run to and fro while squirreling away food for winter. Eagles and hawks circle above, looking for their next meal. In the fall and through the winter, moose and bear will frequent the trail, leaving their tell tail markings behind. The trail itself is rather foreboding.
Along with watching for predatory animals such as wolves, bears, and foxes, one has to be careful where they walk. The trail is nothing more than loosely packed dirt mixed with a detritus of vegetation that’s been smashed into the ground by heavy footsteps. Whether it’s the melting snow of the spring or the rainy days of summer, water mixes with that loosely packed dirt to make mud which acts like a lubricant on the crushed vegetation. It’s very easy to slip and fall. The trail climbs sharp ridges and descends steep hills; slipping and falling will bruise more than just your pride!
At the end of the trail, all of the danger and toil makes itself worth it. The trail opens up to a gorgeous view of the lake, surrounded by mountains and trees. With the long drive and the walk through the woods, most sounds of civilization can’t make it to the mountains. The mountains deflect most of what does make it, and the trees absorb the rest. What you hear depends on the season; in spring, the air is full of the chirping of newly born birds and the chattering of squirrels poking out for the first time this year; in the summer, the leaves are all aflutter in a constant breeze; in fall, the sounds of moose munching on bark and the occasional cry of an Eagle fill the air. My favorite is in winter when all the animals are asleep or gone for the year and the air is deathly still. In winter, Eklutna Lake is completely silent.
It’s wrapped in this silence that I find solitude; I’m not expected to be doing anything. Relieved of the burdens of everyday life, my mind is free to wander. My wanderings always start with the same memory. In 1998, I hiked up to the lake in late October. Half-way down the trail, I thought I heard, very faintly, sounds of people talking and laughing. I asked myself, “who are these people who are interrupting my solitude?” Near the end of the trail, the sound was still barely audible and I was eager to see who it was. I hurried along, taking more daring chances with my footing on the trail, and when I got to the end, my eyes scanned for these intruders. Imagine my amazement when I found that it was not people talking and laughing but rather Canadian Geese honking at each other while talking a swim in the water! I watched as they floated softly along in the water that I knew was close to freezing. They floated all the way around to the other side of the lake and disappeared from sight. I spent the night there and the water was frozen across the surface when I awoke and didn’t thaw again until summer.
My mind tends to wander along what it was those geese were honking about. Were they discussing their plans for moving south for the winter? Were they gossiping about the latest drama in the wolf packs? Maybe they already had their plans in order and were telling each other jokes, laughing away the remaining few hours before traveling onward.
Everything around Eklutna Lake has a lesson to tell about the world, about life, and about how to live. The glacier pushes incessantly forward, never looking back. It grabs anything near or in its path, picks it up, and carries it forward as if it’s helping everything along. And help it does; all of the organics that it picks up are deposited in the water shed where it decomposes and turns the silt fertile. Glacial melt and snow melt run down the water shed and to the lake, keeping it plenty full. The lake itself not only provides water for the surrounding wildlife but also the 350,000 people who live in a city about 30 miles west. In this way, the glacier advances everything around it.
The mountains protect the Eklutna Valley. They reach high into the sky on both sides of the valley, preventing the strong winter winds from making their way into it. Massive storms tend to deposit the bulk of their rain or snow on the outer sides of the mountains, keeping the snow pack inside the valley reasonable. Above all, they protect the life giving Eklutna Glacier. Even in summer when the sun is at it’s highest, these mountains prevent the bulk of the sunlight from reaching the glacial ice. These mountains also demand respect; they have rough and jagged ridges, steep slopes, and many loose boulders and rocks. They will punish anyone who disrespects them, but they offer incredible rewards to those are know how to treat them!
On top of the mountains, you can see for hundreds of miles around. To the west, Anchorage and the Cook Inlet sit on the horizon, offering a magnificent sunset view if you’re lucky enough to be there at the right time. To the north, you can see Eklutna Lake, reflecting the summer sun like a mirror. To the south and east, mountains and forest stretch as far as the eye can see. In the fall, when the sun reaches lower and lower each day, the sun shines a nice golden light across the tops of all these trees, making their yellow, gold, and red leaves glow as if they’re on fire.
The forest itself drinks the water from the lake and provides food for the wild life. A myriad of berries provide fruit and the bark on the spruce trees provide the primary source of fiber in every ones diet. In the fall when moose have eaten all the bark off of all the trees, the pine cones begin to fall. This is the forests way of telling every one, “here is one last meal, now hurry up before winter sets in.”
Everything in the Eklutna Valley is different, but despite all these differences, they all work together in a concert that could not work if any single piece was missing. Without the mountains, the sun would take the glacier. Without the glacier, the lake would dry. Without the lake, the forest would perish. Without the forest, the wind would erode the mountain sides and take them away. It’s a giant circle and if even just one piece is missing, the whole thing will fall apart.
Standing on the coast of the lake, I think about all these things and the Eklutna Valley tells me about my problems. The glacier tells me when I’m spending too much time worrying and not enough time moving forward. The mountains tell me if I’m being too weak and need to stand tall against the ills of society or if I’m being too bullheaded and need to stop fighting. The forest lets me know when I am confused and need to pay more attention to the needs of those around me rather than my own. Eklutna Lake reflects my own image at me, showing me whether I’m on a path of good or evil.
There are many dangers involved in getting to Eklutna Lake and the journey itself has another important lesson to teach. Always keep your objective in mind and do not let difficulties stop you from reaching them. Life is dangerous; one wrong move and you could fall. If you allow the fear of falling from the path to stop you from taking it, you’ll never see what life has to offer you. Then, perhaps, you are not living.
Last time I was in college, I made weekly posts. Last time I was in college, I was doing 50 hours of in-class time per week... This time it's only 9 hours a week.
We'll see what my post schedule becomes.