May 12th, 2011

And so passes that whirlwind...

Today was the final day of classes for Hofstra's spring 2011 semester. Two of my courses have already been put to bed, and one more will be soon. By the start of the weekend, I expect to be down to one final exam (in a tutorial/independent study class) and one final paper left to close out the term. But the classroom instruction period ended with possibly three of the most taxing days I've experienced in the nearly two years I've been here. It's time for a recap, running diary style.

Monday, 12:00 a.m. - 2:15 a.m.: Read about ninety pages from Steven Johnson's book Where Good Ideas Come From for management. Decide to leave the reaction questions for later Monday.

10:10 a.m.: Philosophy of Law. Our final discussion topic is a paper suggesting that hip-hop can inform punishment theory. Sounds like interesting stuff; I might know if I'd read it. I will eventually, because I'm still one short paper shy of the six required, so I'll have to respond to the question for Wednesday's class.

11:15 a.m.: Lunch, followed by returning to campus and doing the questions for management. Begin to churn through how I want to set up the model for my final project in the class immediately to follow, which is...

2:55 p.m.: Computer Science 132, Simulation Modeling. Go through my raw data from a exit ramp off one of Long Island's parkways, and get some guidance from the professor as to how to model the traffic's behavior. Leave feeling much better about the project, and thankful for the small classes at Hofstra in general, and in engineering in particular. When class ends, I make haste across campus to get to...

4:30 p.m.: Management of Change. This class has left me wanting, and I'm not alone among IE majors in that feeling. We discuss the reading, and watch a video on...something.

6:30 p.m.: Normally by this time I'm well on my way back to Northport, but I'm still on campus because the local professional chapter of the Institute of Industrial Engineers is meeting with the just-reactivated Hofstra chapter. It went well, not least because they fed us. But it was longer than anticipated. The trip home is lengthened by an absolutely imperative need to stop for fuel - I received the "0 miles to empty" warning just before reaching the gas station.

9:20 p.m.: Arrive home and begin to build the model for computer science. I get the basic parameters in, but when I try to start developing the animation, I discover that the demo version of Arena I have doesn't support what I want to do. I therefore have to transfer my work to campus. I'm not too perturbed; in fact, I'm glad I discovered this two nights before the project was due. Had this gone unnoticed until Tuesday night, I might have been seriously screwed.

Tuesday, 2:00 a.m.: I finally fall asleep. I tried to since around 12:30, but the extension of both NBA playoff games into overtime (three in the case of Oklahoma City-Memphis) threw a little wrench into that. Engage the alarm clock, set for 8:15.

8:15 a.m.: Alarm goes off. Hit snooze.
8:24 a.m.: Alarm goes off again. Disengage alarm.

10:45 a.m.: Get up, get ready, have lunch, leave for Hofstra just after noon. This is a large departure from normal practice; my only class on Tuesday and Thursday meets at 6:30, and thus I usually leave much later in the day.

1:00 p.m.: Arrive at Hofstra and park car. Walk from North Campus to Weed Hall, the engineering building, to discover that its computer lab is being used by a class, and so isn't available until 2:10. Proceed to library to study for thermodynamics final exam later tonight.

2:20 p.m.: Return to Weed and continue work on simulation model. The animation is relatively easy, but setting up the recording of a particular desired statistic proved more difficult than expected.

5:10 p.m.: Depart campus for dinner, then return and put in more time studying for thermo.

6:30 p.m.: Engineering 113, Thermodynamics. Final exam. It was tricky at first, but thanks to the professor maintaining an open book policy (with a textbook he co-wrote), I get through it without too much damage. At least, I think that's the case.

9:05 p.m.: Get home - and pop open a can of Coca-Cola, in anticipation of a possible long night.

9:55 p.m.: Begin writing the report for the computer science project. This proceeds quite smoothly, thanks to my familiarity with the parameters that needed to be included in the report. I bang out over 1,500 words in two hours or so.

Wednesday, 12:15 a.m.: Finish the computer science report. Start reading the paper on hip-hop for Philosophy of Law. It's an easy read, due to both the material and the fact that some pages are heavily footnoted with citations of rap lyrics.

12:55 a.m.: Begin writing response paper.

1:35 a.m.: Notice a new post in one of my favorite recently discovered blogs: Dork University, written by a current Cornell OR major. This particular post is about all-nighters. I can kind of relate my current experience.

2:03 a.m.: Complete philosophy response paper. Spend the next hour winding down, including the importation of some new (but really old) music into my iTunes library.

10:10 a.m.: Final Philosophy of Law lecture. A good chunk of time is spent on drug legalization. I get to use a few libertarian insights.

11:20 a.m.: Lunch, followed by a stop at the Mack Sports Center to buy a ticket for the NCAA lacrosse quarterfinals at Shuart Stadium the Saturday after next. May the Woofing Gods forgive me. But I'm fairly confident at least one of my two schools will be playing. If they both are, well, that will be just damn peachy.

12:00 p.m.: Read case study for this afternoon's Management of Change lecture. After this is done, I bang out the second of three projects for my tutorial (which is in statistics). I haul ass over to the computer lab in Weed to print out the project report before...

2:55 p.m.: Last CSC 132 session. Everyone is giving brief presentations on the models they developed. One of these presentations is not so brief. I am third to last, and the animation for the simulation is very helpful in illustrating the modeled "process." The last presenters brought Munchkins from Dunkin' Donuts. This may or may not have influenced my decision to rate that presentation as best of those given.

4:30 p.m.: Last Management of Change class, and thus last class of spring 2011. We briefly discuss the case and don't have to write up anything on it, so it was almost a waste of time to read it. After some technical difficulty (which is par for the course in this class), he shows us one final TED talk before wishing us well.

5:30 p.m.: I head to the Hooters near campus for a celebratory dinner. I leave a tip of less than 15%, because eight minutes elapsed between the leaving of the check and someone noticing that I wanted change (I wasn't paying a $9.65 check with a twenty). After dinner, I stop off for some beer on my way home.

While I'm not completely out of the woods yet, that point is much closer than it was Sunday night. I'd like to give honorable mention to Béla Fleck and the Flecktones for their contributions to my ability to run this gauntlet. As I started that first reading Sunday night, I realized that I couldn't have a podcast or pop music in my headphones; those sounds would just distract me. The Flecktones provided a good mellow background soundtrack, but with plenty of variation. I feel safe in saying that I haven't listened to Live Art or Left of Cool from start to finish since the Cornell days. (Those albums comprised the music I was importing very late Tuesday night.)

Speaking of that time, it's less than two weeks until twelve fluid ounces Day! That would be May 21, the anniversary of the commencement of this journal. This will mark ten years of blogging - which began well before the term "blogging" was in vogue. Maybe something reflective will appear.

Oh, by the way - I turned thirty a week and a half ago. It was pretty humdrum; some of my friends from the high school days treated me to dinner in downtown Northport, but that was about it. Well, until the ominous Tweets about a Presidential address to the nation started appearing. I particularly enjoyed those from people watching CNN (as I was) who speculated as to John King's blood alcohol level as he went back and forth with Wolf Blitzer. mhaithaca wrote an excellent post about his feelings, and I'm very much in agreement. I have no need to see those photos; I accept the President's word on the veracity of bin Laden's demise, and those who don't won't be convinced by any photo, no matter how many ways it's authenticated. Mark also wrote that his feeling on bin Laden deserving to die "was never abstract," and the same is true for me, although for different reasons. I didn't know anyone who died on 9/11 within even a couple of degrees of separation. But the events of that day set in motion a chain of events that fundamentally and irrevocably altered the course of my life. I know all the subsequent effects on me were not the work of al Qaeda, but I will always be left with the question of "what if" those attacks had never happened. Anyway, the announcement of bin Laden's death, followed quickly by the Mets' extra-inning win over the Phillies, made it a most pleasant and memorable birthday.