Monday, October 28, 2013

Dead Batteries

I had two quarters in my wallet--just enough to make a 15-minute phone call on the pay phone to the only people whose phone number I have memorized. I told my parents that I was at a 7-11 off S. Golden Road and Quaker and asked if they could please come and get me. Why wasn't I in my car? Because I needed a working phone. I figured a working phone would be available at the King Soopers, which is one of the few places open 24 hours in Golden. The liquor store looked open, but I opted to stay away from there. Instead I briskly walked six blocks in the October night until I hit 7-11. Luckily I wouldn't have to walk all the way to King Soopers. Which brought me to buying a chocolate milk while I waited at the 7-11.

Why did I need a working phone? Because upon pulling off to the side of the road, I reached for my phone, and it promptly died. Well, crap, I thought. After praying for my car's healing for a little while, I admitted that my car was dead, my phone was dead, and with it being nearly midnight on this Thursday night, there was no way I could get home by sitting in my car on the side of the road. My only choice was to walk, and for who knows how long. This side of S. Golden Road is poorly lit, and there was construction going on, so walking conditions weren't that favorable. Worse, I was wearing my slippers. Even worse, I didn't have a jacket. (Good thing it wasn't that cold). Gah! It seemed that everything that could possibly go wrong did.

Why was my car dead? I had no idea. I kept asking myself that same question. I had just gotten the battery fixed, because just a couple of weeks ago that had died. But now, it was not the battery. (My dad later revealed it was the timing belt.) It was such a strange experience, for it just croaked right as I approached the large roundabout by Research Road. Switching from 4th to 3rd gear, it just wouldn't go. Pounding the gas pedal...and nothing. Well, crap. I had to decide whether I had enough kinetic energy to make it around the roundabout, and decided that if I tried, I would probably get stuck in the roundabout and have to get out and roll my car to safety. So that's when I coasted to Research Road and pulled off to the side of the road before picking up my dead phone.

Why was I wearing my slippers? And what was I doing out at this hour? I usually drop my friend off after Bible Study around 8:30, but my friends were having a movie night, so I stopped there for a few hours. Of course no movie night is complete without slippers. So that was why I was driving two hours later than I normally was.

Why did my timing belt break when it did? Funny thing, I actually thought the movie night was at The Unicorn House at first, so I showed up there confused before heading to the north side of Golden. Who knows where I would have died had I not taken that detour. Which brings me to the question...

Why didn't I take 6th? I always take 6th Avenue. It's faster, and I probably would've welcomed the extra minutes of sleep since I had class at 8AM  the next morning. But I remembered that part of 6th was closed for construction the other day on the way back. I'm really glad I took S. Golden after imagining if I just died out on the side of the highway with cars around me going 65 miles an hour.

Why was my phone dying? Because it was Thursday, of course. And Thursdays seem to always find a way to suck this semester. This Thursday was fine, even great until I found myself trekking in the dark towards some store that had a pay phone, more annoyed than afraid.

Funny, but the night before I had been trekking along also, but this time was fearful of rattlesnakes, other wild animals, and tripping in the dark. I had spontaneously driven to the base of North Table Mountain after getting the urge to just go somewhere. So my camera and water bottle tagged along the somewhat short trail that I hadn't walked up since first semester freshman year.

I remember it being harder freshman year. But I also remember not taking as many stops along the way as I did Wednesday...taking pictures is distracting. I took so many pictures that by the time the sun finally sank all the way past the horizon, my battery was almost dead. With the twilight dimming and me not wanting to use my phone flashlight app just yet, I scrambled down the mountain, careful to not be eaten by snakes and such. I took a different path (probably not a great idea in the dark), and beheld the volcanic "crater". I turned my camera on, hoping for one last shot, but right then the battery died. Welp, that's it then. 

With the sky darkening by the second, I stopped wasting time and really scampered back to the parking lot. I wondered if I would have time to eat dinner before IV Large Group. I didn't.

In short, dead batteries equal adventure in some sort and lessons learned in another sort.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

How I See God's Character Revealed Through Math

For those who haven't had the pleasure of hearing me gripe first-hand, let me tell you about Dynamic Fields:

I hate not knowing what's going on. It's the worst feeling.

I need to know what's going on, what I'm supposed to be learning, and what I can expect in the future. One way for me to know what's going on  is to be in charge and in control of it. Many Mines students probably hold this sentiment as well: they've worked hard to get where they are now, and that is now leading them to getting a degree that will make money. We think we can control most of that.

So when we don't know what's going on, we lose control over the future of our academic careers, in a way.

But what's even worse is when that feeling spills over into real life.

Last post I talked about how I actually love turbulence, but I like order. The definiteness and clarity of processes that I desire in real life are probably reasons I went into studying something like engineering and science, fields dominated by process, order, data, analysis, results, and the flowcharts that describe the whole thing.

That's the way I am. And it's a reason I sort of dislike geology, with its subjectiveness and ambiguity and such. Interpreting blurred lines, such as seismic, is sometimes difficult because of some of the same reasons. Now you see how not knowing what's going on is so difficult for me. It's like scrolling through lines upon lines of computer code looking for the syntax error and running it not knowing why your code isn't quite what you want it to be. And you thought your code was so orderly and logical.

I walk down the hall from Dynamic Fields feeling worried, frustrated, lost, even angry, and tired. I feel like I don't belong here, like I want to give up. The area in front of the room for Advanced Engineering Math (AEM) fills up with chatter and complaints about the proceeding Dynamic Fields lecture or nightmare of an exam. I sit down in my usual chair in AEM and after being walked through a few equations on the board, understand that somehow, everything is okay or at least will be eventually. 

Math is constant. It has always been there as a subject, and it is usually a confidence booster. Usually.
But it's structured well. You know what you're supposed to be learning, or know what formulas or methods to use, and know the extent of work you'll have to put in to do well. There's usually a point in Math. And it's the basis of everything we do in engineering and science.

I feel like life sometimes feels a little like Dynamic Fields: messy, complex, incomprehensible, and I have no idea what's going on. I see God's character revealed through math: constant, purposeful, and knowing.

 Realization: life is not a script, function, or lines of code. Of course it'd be simpler if it was. Of course it'd be a great deal more boring.

Sometimes looking ahead in Math, I get a glimpse of a crazy complicated equation with symbols I don't yet understand. Yet I know we'll learn about it and get there...eventually. It's like God when I'm frustrated that I don't know what's going on is saying, "Don't worry, we'll get there....eventually."