April 28, 2009

I Missed the Drama: But I Didn't Really Miss It

I totally forgot that this evening was the club elections for next year's officers. I was reminded about it because while checking facebook before bed, certain people that lost the election are crying rivers of salty tears.

*sigh*

I remember running for office at the end of my freshman year, in 1995. I lost. I remember some people throwing a huge fit about losing, and even then I thought that they needed to get a grip. On your grad school or job application, people might be impressed that you were President of the Undergraduate Student Association. No one is going to care that you were President of the largest Special Interests, Sports, and Hobby club on campus.

A similar issue came up in the Marine Corps: in boot camp, being assigned as the platoon guide was a huge deal. When you got to the fleet, no one gave a flying fig.

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April 27, 2009

MAE 311

I wish I had a pocket camera, so I could take fun photos when I see fun things happening.

After my second class of the day, I paused outside, in the glorious weather. I was observing the students from a mechanical engineering class. They had divided into teams of three and four, for their final project: "Construct a Rube Goldberg contraption that flattens aluminum beverage cans to no more than 20% of their original height, without extending their diameter more than 20%. (I.e. crush straight down). The machine must use at least seven transfers of energy."

There was lots of creativity on display. Most machines did the crushing by dropping a weight on the can; one used a rotating tire, and the most frightening one used a to'b'for* with a hinge at one end, powered by springs with 120 lbs of tension. I was afraid that one was going to injure its builders as they loaded the can in place.

It looked like a fun final project, really. I, on the other hand, have a final project that requires me to create a multi-media advertising campaign for a fictional financial institution.

 

* "to'b'for" is an inside joke. Sorry.

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April 21, 2009

Seminar

Hooray, my schedule is now complete, I've been forced into HIS 545. It's a seminar: one prof and up to fifteen students. I'm the eleventh to register, and it's late in the game to get any more.

I love to debate, so this should be fun.

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April 19, 2009

What's With Latin, Anyways?

I've been asked why I'm thinking of taking Latin for Fall Semester, when I'd studied French up till now.

The problem is, I need nine credits worth of language. I've taken two three-credit French courses, so I could take one more and finish it out. The problem with that is that to the best of my recollection, I've had three conversations in French in the last six years. (One with a French Marine in Afghanistan; one with a Slovok combat engineer in Afghanistan; and one with a local in Cambodia.) So trying to take French 201 is not likely going to end well.

Latin, on the other hand, is a five credit hour class. So I can take two semesters of Latin and be done, as opposed to three semesters of French.

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April 18, 2009

Neil Gaiman and Gahan Wilson, Together at Last

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April 17, 2009

Scheduling For Summer & Spring Semester

I've completed my schedule for Fall Semester: I've got 17 credit hours. The one that's going to be a challenge is Latin. I'm wondering if I should start learning my amo amos amat now.

Summer Semester schedule is still pending; I'm trying to take a 500-level class for undergraduate credit, and I need a sign-off from the department head, who doesn't know me from Adam. Luckily the department's Director of Graduate Studies likes me, so I am hopeful I'll get approved. If I don't, I'll need to shuffle classes around in a seriously annoying manner. Summer only has four class slots, and I need to fill all of them to be full time. If I don't get the one I want in slot 4, I'm going to have to take a different class in slot 1, move that class to slot 3… it rapidly spirals out of control.

UPDATE: Upon review, I signed up for the same class in both semesters. I don't think that's a good idea. So now I'm back to shuffling classes.

UPDATE 2: It looks like it might be a bad idea to take the grad class in summer session. Even though it's nominally being taken for undergraduate credit, apparently there are "complications" with regards to financial aid, in that it might make me look like a part-time student. Which is strange, because the whole point of the form is to get undergraduate credit for the class, instead of (rather than in addition to) graduate credit. I'd think that it thus just counts as an undergrad class. Now I need to talk to three more advisors about it. Ugh. (The three are the Military adviser, the Financial Aid Advisor, and my Non-Traditional Student Adviser.)

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April 15, 2009

Kiddie Time

In one of my history classes, the professor's wife is currently overseas, and his child-care arrangements broke down during the Buffalo school district's spring break.

So in class today we had his son and daughter, who looked to be about 1st grade and 3rd or 4th grade. He gave them each a blue exam booklet and a bunch of crayons and markers. They were reasonable well-behaved during the lecture.

For unexplained reasons, one of my fellow students brought in a travel cage containing two pet rats, and set said cage on the table next to her.

I was really getting an elementary-school classroom vibe in there!

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April 14, 2009

Tax Bite 2008

I just turned in my taxes. I am victim of my own sloth, as I'm getting a substantial refund, and could have filed for it months ago. But hey, the gov't certainly seems to be in need of an interest-free loan at the moment.

I was a bit amused at how much retirement money I'd been putting away while in the Corps. My retirement investment worked out to be about 40% of my gross income. When I do my 2009 taxes, I expect to be very depressed by the difference. On the bright side, I'll be able to deduct many thousands of dollars in college expenses!

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April 13, 2009

Scheduling For Summer & Spring Cleaning

I finally figured out UB's online course catalog, and got myself registered for summer session. There are only four class slots, so I can only get 12 credit hours. As it stands now, I've got nine; one of the classes I'd like to attend is at capacity. I am planning to stop by an advisor this week to see if I can get "forced" in.

In unrelated news, the UB gaming club (of which I am a member) is having its annual convention this upcoming weekend. I'm not on the staff, for only the second time ever. (I think I wasn't staff my freshman year.) I did some helping out today, though. The club office needs to become a workspace for this week, and the first step is a thorough spring cleaning.

For 233 years, the Marine Corps has been teaching men (and now women) how to do three things:

  1. Kill people
  2. Destroy property
  3. Clean things

Of late, there has been little call for #2 and no need for #1, so I was glad to do a little #2. I declared it a full field day: all furniture was dragged out into the hall and cleaned; the floor was swept and mopped, all windows cleaned, and all walls scrubbed down. The only thing we didn't do was strip and wax the floor. I wanted to, but the custodians wouldn't let us.

Lastly, I discovered in a corner a pressurized cylinder containing helium that one of the other clubs had used to inflate ballons. It was not secured on a stand nor was it secured to a wall. I twitched, as did my friend Jack, who (as a glass artist) is also familiar with pressurized cylinder safety precautions. We ended up sticking it behind a door where it was no longer exposed to traffic, and extracted a promise that it would be returned posthaste to wherever they got it from.

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April 08, 2009

Do the Roomba

So I got myself a Roomba, a robotic autonomous vacuum cleaner. I set it to start cleaning as I left for class this morning. When I came home, I found it had high-centered itself on a book on the floor of my bedroom. It's just as well, because the little thing's dustbin was quite full. I don't like to vacuum much, so perhaps having a slave robot do the work for me will improve the cleanliness of the floors in here.

When the Robot Uprising happens, I'll be first against the wall. But until then, my rugs will be very clean.

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