Archive for the 'Education' Category
Airman Larry

When I was going through training in the fabled Vincent Hall at Ft. Gordon, Georgia, we were shown a video referred to as “Airman Larry.”  The actual title seems to be “Electrical Trauma.”


Bloodbath Midterm

Let me start by saying that I test very well. I am good enough at taking tests that often I will be able to perform better than I should be able to given my knowledge of the subject being tested. I have, as it were, test skillz.

My Investment Analysis (i.e. “Economics for Engineers”) professor has spent at least a half hour of cumulative class time telling us what a bloodbath the exam is going to be and explaining the reasons why it will be so hard to convince us that he’s not an evil bastard. Ok, actually, I think he describes himself as evil when discussing the exam, but I figure it’s slightly more likely that he’s kidding than not…

Anyway, the midterm is going to be a bloodbath. He assigns grades in the class by class rank, so he needs to be able to tell the top ranking student apart from the second ranking student, etc. This is possible if you don’t have three or four students clustered together with perfect scores on the exam. Therefore, he strives to put the average score at around 50%. The important thing to remember, he says, is that the raw score is only indirectly related to your letter grade. Your class rank is directly related to your letter grade.

And it’s tangent time. Bear with me.

I estimate that while in the Army, I spent about 3 years not dreaming at all. I developed sleep apnea, and I simply wasn’t asleep long enough to enter REM sleep for about three years. It’s been successfully treated, now, with a machine that I strap to my face every night so that I can breathe while I sleep. I dream, these days. However, I don’t remember the dreams very often, and it’s been a long time (before the Army, I believe) since I had a nightmare.

My alarm clock is due to wake me in 10 minutes. However, the nightmare woke me 20 minutes ago. I dreamed that I was taking the exam. Among the many wonderful things I dreamed about the exam were:

  • I had somehow missed hearing the professor tell everyone in the class to get up and move to another classroom. I only realized something was wrong when
  • I realized that instead of working on my exam, I was listening to the audio from a Monty Python sketch. When I rushed to turn off the audio file and pick up where I left off on the exam,
  • I realized that the room was dark and nobody else was there. Finally, in contrast with how most people feel about math problems on exams, I was horrified when I realized that
  • there were almost no math problems on this exam. (What can I say? Math’s what I do.)

I think that the professor has somehow put the fear of exams in me. Or maybe the gods of test-taking finally realized that I’ve been unafraid of tests for over two decades and rebalanced me.

Ah, well. Enough rambling. Time to go turn off my alarm clock and do a little studying for that exam tomorrow.

Phys Ed

Physical Education, how much better you are than your polychallenged cousin Physical Training.

For example, this term, I’m learning to Swing Dance. Try suggesting that for your morning PT, Army folks.

… Extend to the left… march! Ok, first and third ranks, first and third ranks only, about… face! One step forward… march! Ok, partner up, let me start the music…

-hypothetical and highly unlikely PT session

It’s that “partner up” that might cause difficulty, considering the leader-follower ratio of most Army units. Anyway…

I discovered something interesting about my Swing Dance capabilities today. Not something new, mind you; it’s always been there. I was never able to put it into words before, though. Put simply: I have all of the rhythm of a Fremen out for an afternoon stroll, and about 400 times the net sweat output.

School’s going ok, I guess.

I got my first Physics exam score back today.

Before I relate the actual raw score, let me say that there are some mitigating factors here. I am taking Physics II with Calculus. I haven’t had any contact with Calculus in two years. I haven’t had a Physics course before. Ever. I started my Physics career with Physics II with Calculus. I nearly dropped the course the first week and went with an easier one. I decided that I could do it and I toughed it out.

So, now that I’ve softened it up a bit, my raw score was 44.

This may seem low. Consider, though, that the class average was 31. And both my score and the class average were out of a possible 44 points.

I shall now launch into smug, arrogant bragging, so you’ll probably want to just move on to XKCD or something.


Dammit, CNN

I’ve been without a programming language at home for too long. I have, in the past, used bash scripting, perl, php and (only at work!) VBA. I’m sure that at some point soon I’ll be needing a language again. By the time I really, really need it, it will be too late to quickly pick it up again, so this time I’m going to be ready.

Python, I choose you.

This paragraph originally started with “two reasons for Python,” which became three. Then, as I was about to amend it to four before I’d even typed the first reason, I realized that I was quickly getting into Spanish Inquisition territory. Therefore, amongst the reasons for my choice of Python are such diverse elements as:

  • open-source
  • extremely portable
  • CNN recommends it (not the news network)
  • XKCD (of course)
  • fun

So, there we go. While I’ve been typing this, Python has been downloading and installing. It’s now downloaded and installed. Off I go.

Oh. One last thing before I go. I hadn’t seen today’s XKCD when I chose today for my programmer’s renaissance, but it just tells me that I’m making the right choice.

Shifts, occidental et al

So there have been some changes.

I’m effectively no longer in the Army. I’m living in downtown Porland, Oregon. I’m a full-time college student at Portland State University. I’m breathing easier. Let’s take these one at a time, shall we?


trivial data as art is a masterpiece of data visualization.

EDIT: And almost immediately an edit. The mental giant behind WeFeelFine is Jonathan Harris. He’s done other things that I’m probably going to be looking at as soon as I save this entry.

I’m such a sucker for good design, especially since I have so much trouble doing it myself.