Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Dear Younger Self: Cliched Nonsense

Dear Younger Self,

So I'm going back and reading my older posts with the tag "Dear Younger Self". Two thoughts come to mind:
1. The advice I give my you, my  younger self (or rather students at certain points in college), are pretty cliched.
2. I guess I listened to myself.

The end of the year is always a time for looking back. There are Top 10 Lists of Things in 2013 everywhere. People are talking about the year that was and their resolutions and stuff. And I guess after another successful semester in the books, you're looking for more advice from me, because that's what a cliched end-of-the-year blog post holds.

I could ramble on about the follies of procrastination and how you've seemed to have figured out that you can't NOT procrastinate, that it's in your blood. I can always speak about how very quickly time seems to fly, and how you're nearing the end, so you'd better make it awesome. Or how valuable good friends are. I can give you a heads-up and say things like "can you learn to cook already?", "practice defensive eating during Field Methods", "don't give up on Dynamic Fields because you can make the greatest comeback in the history of ever or something". I could tell my sophomore self that "it gets better; Junior year won't kill you." I could blather about the lessons outside the classroom: about wise time investment, overcoming over-analyzation and over-reaction, learning to have fun by yourself, and letting go of the past (wow, the cliches are killing me).

I could ramble. Because the cliches would all be true, interestingly enough.

But you gotta figure it out without my cliched advice and live it on your own. And maybe, just maybe, after five action-packed semesters, you have figured it out. But most likely there are some curveballs headed your way (gotta throw in a baseball cliche). Still, I hope that Future Self will be writing about the good times that Spring 2014 and Field Session held. Or the crazy things that happened the summer between Junior and Senior Year and the first semester of Senior Year.

So yeah. [Insert cliche phrase that expresses an attitude that one holds when about to embark on a new year and adventures and the such like, that when the phrase is uttered it sends a chill of fear into the heart of the bad guys. Play heroic and inspiring music. Fade out.]
It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard... is what makes it great. ~ A League of Their Own
P.S. For real though, it doesn't get easier. As far as material goes, it gets more impossible. Yet more doable.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

My First GeoRodeo: Post-Meeting Thoughts

I've had two weeks to recover and process the firehose/volcano/tsunami of information that was dispersed at the AGU Fall Meeting. At the time of my mid-Meeting post, I was in awe of how huge the Meeting is, and had not even presented my poster yet. So Thursday morning, I woke up before dawn and then scurried to a cafe with Emily, my internship friend who was also presenting that morning. Both of us had our poster tubes in hand. Being all official scientists and stuff. 
Where the poster-presenting shenanigans occur.
Presenting my first poster at AGU was a great experience. It really highlighted one of my favorite things about the Meeting: The eagerness of scientists all over the world to learn. Nearly everyone I spoke with was super friendly and had great feedback on my summer research. It was crazy both how quickly and slowly the five hours by my poster passed--that's a long time to be talking science. My throat was dry afterwards. 

Me at 7:59AMish, ready to present.
After my presentation, the Meeting for me winded down, as I attended a great talk given by my mentor later that evening, and then a session called "Geoscience Through the Lens of Art" the following morning. It was the perfect ending to a very exploratory experience for me in my first Fall Meeting. 

A few conclusions:
  • I'm more than ever certain I want to pursue a PhD. In what specifically? I have some time to figure that out. 
  • I'm only 63% done with my CSM Geophysics degree, but AGU gave another glimpse of how good the program is, even if I harp on it sometimes about it being very exploration-focused. It was really cool to hop around learning more about different facets of geoscience, but it was cooler that I could follow what the presenters spoke of, from induced polarization as I learned in Electrical Methods and Dynamic Fields to climate change models as I learned all summer. 
  • Sending us to AGU was really the cherry on top of everything from our REU at CMMAP. When I was applying a year ago to research internships, I could not have imagined they would have flown me halfway across the country in an awesome hotel--all for the love of science. Well played, NSF. Well played. It worked. And I highly recommend to my fellow science-lovers to apply to REUs. 
  • Hanging out with the seniors and a couple grad students in Mines Geophysics was really cool, especially since I didn't know most of them before. It's always fun to be around like-minded people who love science for science. But it also reminded me of how awesome the class of 2015 is. I can't wait for many of us to travel to San Francisco next Fall. As far as topics go, there will be something for everyone, and as far as the city goes, we're going to have a blast. 
  • I really, really, really, really love food. Sushi, sea food, sourdough and chowder, and more...You taste amazing, SF. 

 I will be back next year, San Francisco. I will be back. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Bigness of Geoscience: Mid-Meeting Thoughts

From charges lying on bacteria in the ground to kilometer-sized gravity anomalies on the moon, geoscience is HUGE. The AGU Fall Meeting is huge too, but maybe on a couple orders of magnitude less than huge. The amount of coffee consumed here is HUGE, but not as huge as the amount of knowledge consumed. There are so many talks on so many topics, and a million (I may be off on my estimate) more posters on more topics. The titles of said talks and posters have so many words in them. There are thousands of important earth scientists concentrated into a two-block radius. Everything is so big.

In case I haven't explained the reason of my excitement to you in person, the AGU (American Geophysical Union) Fall Meeting is an annual earth science conference held in San Francisco. I have the privilege of attending because of the research internship I had this past summer with CMMAP (Center for Multiscale Modeling of Atmospheric Processes) at Colorado State University. They are paying me to basically be in science heaven and present my research among the thousands others. It's pretty cool.

For those who have attended a Career Fair, particularly the one at Colorado School of Mines, imagine a super-duper-sized Career Fair, but instead of talking about getting oil, everyone is interested in science. That is only the exhibit hall. And there's the poster hall which takes forever to walk across from. And the countless talks simultaneously occurring.

It's overwhelming because as a third year undergrad, I don't really know exactly where in geoscience I want to go. Being a Geophysics major seems so general here. So the Meeting is a sampler of sorts. On the other hand, I am really grateful for my Mines education that has taught me so much, and my internship that taught me other aspects of earth science. I've attended lectures on Climate Change, Modeling, Induced Polarization in Bacteria, gravity remote sensing on the moon, numerical methods, and I've been able to somewhat understand them with my background knowledge. Until my coffee runs out. But AGU understands us scientists and our need for free coffee.

It's not just the caffeine in my blood: I'm excited about earth science right now, not gonna lie. Gotta go get more free swag and/or knowledge now. Over and out.

Monday, December 2, 2013

What Happens When You Cross Dead Week With Finals Week?

Answer: a very crazy engineering student.

Due to awesome circumstances that will have me flying out to San Francisco next Sunday to attend the AGU (American Geophysical Union) Fall Meeting, I have to take all my finals early. In short, this week gonn' be cray. 

This week, I'm going to do a daily log like I did freshman year Fall semester here. See you on the other side, brother. 

Sunday, December 01, 2013 6:09 p.m.
Mental stability: Fine
Hours of sleep last night: 8

So this is what stands between me and being done with this semester:

I'm so unmotivated and want it to be next week already, but lab reports don't write themselves, so...yeah.

Monday, December 02, 2013 5:48 p.m.
Mental stability: Meh, alright
Hours of sleep last night: 7

Blehhh....this paper on elastodynamics that we have to read for extra credit for Dynamic Fields makes me want to punch myself in the face. Who knew math could be so aesthetically appealing yet comprehensively challenging at the same time?

Wednesday (but still Tuesday since the sun hasn't risen), December 04, 2013 1:32 a.m.
Mental stability: confused, caffeinated and yeah
Hours of sleep last night: 6 (I'm sensing a pattern here).

So in the midst of studying for our Dynamic Fields final tomorrow, the school got an email that the campus would close tomorrow, or basically we would have a snow day. So we were like, "woot", and then I was like, "Oh, hmm that means we won't be done with DF forever, oh wells." And then there was an email saying school IS NOT cancelled, and then we were all like "Noooooooooo," but a few of us have mixed emotions because I just want stuff tomorrow to be over with. Else, I'd have to reschedule stuff and that is very hard this week. Anyway, I buy into the theory that the first email was hacked and this was some cruel prank.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013 10:39 p.m.
Hours of sleep: 6
It's too cold to study. Bleh.
Also, I have forgotten how to study alone. I have zero motivation.
On the bright side, Dynamic Fields is over forever.

Thursday, December 05, 2013, 12:34 a.m.
Mental stability: alarmingly calm (not caring)

After the catastrophe (that did prove to be a hacking of some sorts), Facebook was flooded with very angry posts by very angry people, and my Snapchat was also flooded with crying and sad faces. A tragedy, indeed. However, I somehow felt pressured to hate the school, and how dare they not give us a school day, even if it was barely precipitating (but deathly cold), especially after we received an erroneous email!!!!!!!

Um, okay.

Honestly, I remember a day when I really used to care about school, when it was life and doing well was everything. This might have been way back in kindergarten, but why have we lost this love of learning so much, that we would rather do nothing on the day in which most would have critical review sessions, and for us, final exams that are a huge part of their degree. We pay so much money per credit hour; I would have been really mad had we not been able to go to school today. I don't want to sound holier-than-thou because I did really enjoy that snow day freshman year in February, but that was not one of the last days of class, there was way more snow on the ground, and the "brilliant idea" for a snow day was not put forth through a hacking.

But after celebrating for 30 minutes while being diappointed, I read the email and was disappointed and celebrating again. Then I studied more at The Stoop with Shane, which is a good thing because two-fifths of the questions that appeared on the final would not have been studied otherwise.

Also, something something about wishing upon a sigma-star (real and imaginary part of conductivity).

But anyway, I rocked my I Love Mines mug today with coffee in it. Rebecca glared at me. I rambled about how much I love my education.


Friday (Thursday really), December 06, 2013 1:41 a.m.
Hours of sleep last night: like 8 (No Field Methods, woooo!)
Mental Stability: Pretty good

My predicament this deathly cold week in which I have realized that I would hate living in Hoth:

The cold and the need to study makes for an interesting combination. But they both add up to caffeine. Once consumed in the late evening, they both make for a night of sparse sleep. Once awake in the morning, the need for studying is heightened. However, my internet is slow and I cannot download the lecture slides. So I need to venture out into the cold. The cold intensified the need for a hot drink. And such and such.

Twelve more hours!

Saturday, (Friday really), December 07, 2013 1:38a.m.
This day combined everything I loved and hated about this semester and this school.

Sunday, December 08, 2013 11:16 a.m.
But yeah, as I was saying...
I woke up to take my AEM final, but made coffee first. I also needed to make my notecard. I had not studied at all. Then it was two cold hours in the Geophysics Reading Room trying to remember Partial Differential Equations because I had forgotten to put PDE stuff on my notecard. Then I went to Subway. Then I went back to Green Center and took the Electrical Methods test. After 40 minutes, I emerged, and was done with exams. Woot. After my professor told me again of how awesome of a class we were, I walked to across the hall and started the last homework coding assignment for Electrical Methods. My classmates had been working on it for hours. The Linux Lab was buzzing. And it would end up taking me 12 hours to complete. Thankfully not 12 straight hours, as I left at 5 to go to Bob's Atomic Burgers with Jayden and only worked for five hours on Saturday after sleeping in. After getting back to coding, we also had the Moonlight Breakfast (free food!) at Slate to look forward to. At about 11p.m., I headed to The Loft and got to hang out with a few IV people.

But as I told Rebecca Saturday evening while at Panera, it's been an awesome semester. How did Saturday (and the whole week) combine everything I love and hate about Mines? I hate the craziness, but love the craziness. I'm still in awe of how I've made it through it all, the five finals in three days with homework and stuff--not to mention three straight semesters with 18 or more credit hours. I love the craziness because it really brings people together. By studying with my geophysics friends and goofing off and going to Moonlight Breakfast at Slate, I can see that we've built an awesome community. I haven't had that much fun studying since freshman year in Maple 159, the Maple 1st study room. And Shane, upon learning that I'd leave the Linux Lab to eat and not help him with MATLAB said, "Why are you always going to dinner with friends?! Do you bribe them?". Haha, no, but I'm glad that I've been able to hang on to old friends too in the midst of craziness.

Next semester is going to be so fun. Spring semesters hold baseball, E-Days, Spring Break....and hopefully good times in geophysics and good times with old friends (oldies but goodies).

But for now, school's over and I'm out.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Late Semester Blatherings

Lately I've had this feeling that I need to write something profound whenever I find the inspiration, time, and willpower to throw together a blog post because of the scarcity of said posts of late. But that is ridiculous. So here goes unprofoundness.

Well, it's November already, and the end of it at that December, wow. The amount of homework assignments and exams can fit on a decent list. Things are coming to an end, thank God. As much as I'm so ready to be done with this semester and any class with the word "Field" in it, I can honestly say that I've had the best time since freshman year. (Part of that may have to do with the lack of good time I had sophomore year, but whatever.)

Is it because we've finally attained respect for being a Junior? In past years, there were only torments of how it gets worse and how we should "just wait til Junior Year".

Is it because I've stopped caring? Possibly. And it's not like I don't care, because I do. I just care about stuff other than school more.

No, I think the reason is that we've finally built a strong community that's going to stick together until graduation. And I'm slightly biased when I say this, but I believe our class of 30-something geophysicists are the coolest class to ever have class in a while.

We all knew the day would come when we would have all the same classes together. We looked forward to the time when we would probably be learning real stuff about our major. And here it is, complete geophysics. Well, except math.

There are good things, there are bad things. Best of all is that the so-called "Junior Hell Year" is a week away from being halfway over. Woot.