So, I’m into my second week now. My classes are still fairly easy, and I finished all of my homework for this week over the weekend. My roommate, Brian (see sidebar), went home for Labor Day, so I spent most of that weekend just gaming or working on that homework. But, I did have one of the requisite ‘college’ experiences…
The first football game of season was played Saturday night. Several guys in my dorm had tickets and went to see it. It was apparently kind of disappointing, by the way: Texas won 21-13, or something like that, but they were playing Arkansas State, who they were apparently expected to beat really badly. I didn’t get to see it, because I learned after paying the $70 for a student sports pass that these passes have the lowest seating priority at major events, or, more simply, that I basically never get a guaranteed seat at anything. So I wasn’t able to go. But that isn’t really the point of this story. The point is that one of the guys from the dorm that did go left for a party during the 3rd quarter. He came back to the dorm at around 1:00 a.m., completely drunk. I don’t just mean a little uncoordinated, I mean reeking, rambling, stumbling, completely-out-of-it drunk. And he wanted me to stay awake with him to help him sober up. Even better, some girl he liked was planning to come see him later, so he was kind of freaking out about being drunk in front of her. I found it fascinating that the thing that seemed to be bothering him the most was that he knew he was drunk. So, he obsessively munched (and dropped) peanuts and drank water (he dropped the bottle a few times, too) for the next hour or so. Then the girl showed up, and he stumbled off with her for a while. Thoroughly relieved, I went back to sleep. … Only to have him knock on my door at around 2:30. Now he was back and worried that he would go to sleep, vomit, choke, and die. He explained this to me very rapidly and repeatedly for the next half hour, until his roommate came back from wherever he had been. This roommate had really good timing, as the drunk guy did indeed start throwing up soon after. I was sufficiently exhausted and distressed at seeing a person that messed up that I’m not sure I could have handled that part. I also decided that night that I absolutely hate the smell of alcohol.
Classes started out fairly normal on Tuesday. I went to my computer science class on Java (just ‘Java class’ from here on) in the morning and sat around putting together ideas for my ‘inquiry’ in my Dean’s Scholars (my honors program: DS from now on) seminar about research methods. I was, naturally, already done with the Java homework. Then I went to chemistry, where I realized one of my answers on the homework was wrong (see? finishing early is a really good idea). That afternoon, I had a calculus discussion class, which is where the week got interesting. Once again, I had already done the homework, so I wasn’t really paying particularly close attention. I would occasionally glance at whatever problem the TA happened to be explaining, but that was about it. Then he got to a weird limit problem that had a natural log ("ln") in it. It required using a special limit-finding technique that most of you don’t really care to read about. It’s a technique I understand well enough, so OK. Then the TA tells us that there is a problem with the answer. He is hoping one of us will find it, so I sit up a bit and read his work again. I then pointed out that the ln could be invalid (which is possible for reasons that, once again, most of you won’t care about). This was the only thing I had said aloud in this discussion class so far, since we’d only met once before. It was also completely wrong in this case. You can imagine that I paid attention after that and carefully investigated this problem. I could quickly see that I had been wrong, but I wanted to be sure that this TA knew what he was talking about when he said the problem had no answer. I distinctly remembered finding an answer. It may help to point out here that most of our professors ask us to submit our homework online. We have multiple choice problems and we get more than one try on each of them, so actually it turned out that I had come to the same conclusion he had after initially submitting my wrong answer, I just didn’t remember it.
This morning’s math lecture was basically useless because the professor was gone and the TA was giving the lecture. He’s really bad at explaining math in a lecture. Then physics, which started out harmlessly enough. I got through one interesting, badly worded problem easily enough and even got to explain the problem with the problem to several people sitting around me (it had a “t” and a “T” in it that meant two different lengths of time; the difference was not very clear). Then we worked a similar problem that looked like it was just a bunch of velocities we had to multiply by times to get a distance, except the last velocity had no time with it. I reread the statement with the velocities and times in it, then, after failing to find this missing time, I raised my hand and asked the professor if there was something missing from the problem. In fact, there was a time missing. The one we were supposed to find to answer the question. Rarely have I felt like such an idiot (and all you Tom Bean people know I mean it when I say something like that). Oddly enough, the girl to my left still asked me how I was going to solve the problem a moment later, after the laughter had stopped. Admittedly, it was not particularly impressive laughter; only a few people quickly realized my mistake, and by the time the professor had pointed out that ‘yes, the missing time is the item of interest in the problem’, they were all busy trying to figure out how they were going to figure it out. So, despite my complete lack of awareness, at least one person realized that I do know how to do basic physics.
I did get to feel smart again later, after meeting with my DS advisor, when I just handed a new GCC transcript to the receptionist in the registrar’s office to replace the one Grayson apparently did not send to UT. I have had copies, both official and unofficial, of all of my transcripts in my personal records binder for months now, and have gotten to use them twice. I had the idea to put all of my personal records together in a single binder after I spent about two weeks pulling these records together to fill out the security clearance application I ended up not needing to get my internship at Raytheon.
Now for some insightfulness, right? (“Yes! This means he’s almost done!” Yeah, I know what you’re thinking.) So I did, at least, have a good DS seminar class today. The main professor, Dr. David Laude, a chemist, lectured to us about logic. Yeah, good stuff. And he did it with lots of fun examples involving balloons and about a dozen people in the class being placed under a thin plastic sheet and punching it. Now that would take a long time to explain. Anyway, he concluded this lecture by asking us if we, as logical thinkers in a society that seems too often to be nearly devoid of logic, believe that we should ‘convert’ (that’s the actual word he used) non-logical thinkers to using logic. The initial response was a quiet but unopposed “no”. Then a few people pointed out that non-logical people seem perfectly happy as they are (maybe even happier than logical thinkers) and that regardless, it wouldn’t even be possible. You can’t use logic to convince someone that logic is important. In general, I agree with both of these points. So, what do you think? Should scientists and engineers and other like-minded people try to ‘convert’ the rest of everyone to using logic? I expect comments, as I really am curious to hear what you think of this.