sleep guilt

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 happens.

Time to go to sleep, and feel guilty about it. Good night.