My greatest regret is that I still have to sleep.
If you ask a few engineering students at any university, you'll quickly
find that sleep -- or lack thereof -- is always a hot topic of discussion.
Many folks wave around their insomnia like banners, trumpeting how they have
gone n hours of sleep. I'm not one of those people. I've only pulled
a few all-nighters during my time here, and they didn't last long past 24 hours.
Maybe that's why this semester is shaping up to be a washout.
I say such things every semester, I know, so you'll have to bear with me.
This time, things are still falling apart. I'm sleeping too much.
I'm writing this update from the depths of Wean Hall, Carnegie Mellon's
large concrete building which houses the Department of Computer Science, among
other things. I've spent way too much time here, living off of a diet that
often consists of little more than M&Ms and Mountain Dew. Needless to say,
this roughly 1000-calorie diet (which I call the "OS diet") doesn't provide
very much energy or nutrition, so I simply don't have the physical resources
to pull those crucial all-nighters. My very late-skewing schedule does not
jibe with most on- and off-campus food vendors', so I have to fend for myself
with unsuccessful results. Even if I could cook, I wouldn't want to.
The ongoing fun with the new roommate continues, as I still have to deal
with the continuing presence of his girlfriend. Fortunately, she doesn't
spend too much time around, although apparently she's the one who
snores. It's not a big problem nowadays, with my skewed sleep schedule and
less hostile attitude towards visitors in my suite. There are now three people
out of five in my suite who regularly have visitors (for business and pleasure)
so I'm used to it. Most come over to do "work," which in the business
department apparently means bringing several laptops to run AIM and ICQ with
the volume turned to the maximum level. Often times, I go to Wean or the
library just to escape the cacophony of shouted Chinese, instant-messenger
sounds, and incredibly poor singing along to Boyz II Men music. As luck would
have it, two of those three folks are graduating; the third, my roommate,
is not scheduled to be in my room next academic year.
Just keep tossing stuff onto the pile of Stuff I Don't Need. Spring
Carnival, normally a very happy drinking sort of time, is coming up this
weekend, but I sure won't be able to enjoy it. With the last OS project
deadline less than two weeks away, and my partner and I feeling overstressed
and uninspired to work on it, we're in a state known casually as "screwed."
class by class
15-412: Operating Systems Design & Implementation
What would happen if I were to fail a class that's worth 40 percent of my
GPA this semester? If I keep things up, I might just find this out.
The midterm this semester was a disaster: the average grade was about 61%,
and there is no curve as a rule in the class. In a very
rare move, the professor offered a second chance. The catch was that the
second grade, if a student chose to retake the midterm, would supersede the
first for better or for worse. I took the test again and walked out of there
thinking that I did better.
I did worse. Eight points worse. Fifteen points worse than failing.
Now I'm at a crossroads of sorts: with less than half of the course grades
in because of inherent back-loading of the schedule, I now find myself in a
hole that I must claw out of. On top of it all, I have plenty of other
projects and exams to not fail, if I want to try and salvage my semester by
any means possible.
Did I mention how the professor is trying to encourage students to work by
striking them with a metal pole in the public computer clusters?
80-311: Computability and Incompleteness
This is the only one of my four classes that has a curve applied to its
grades, and what a curve it is! I fudged my way through the most recent
exam and only answered about 65% of the questions correctly. That was a B,
after the dust settled. Now I face the unlikely prospect of maintaining an A
average in a course where I do not understand a good one-third of the material
being covered. Great.
82-372: Advanced Japanese II
Damn it, I'm behind again. Falling behind on homework in this course is
definitely a losing proposition: even though the course only meets three times
a week, the amount of homework assigned is simply staggering. Top it all off
with a project that my partner and I have barely started, and it's a recipe for
trouble. I also don't know the status of my study abroad plans; a decision
from my one and only school is due next week.
82-374: Technical Japanese
Not a particularly hard course, but I have a project presentation next week
which right now covers about zero knowledge. The key is to maintain at least
some semblance of priority on the class, so I don't fall behind. The funny
thing is that I'm actually running more on time than most students in the
class, for the simple reason that I have substantial first-hand experience in
working with this loosely-structured professor in the past. We'll see what
Time to go to sleep, and feel guilty about it. Good night.