Category Archives: serious

A Vow

I vow not to watch House until (at least) after my physics midterm on Wednesday. It has been too distracting and my 1 episode study breaks too often turn into two episode breaks. That means an hour and a half of House, which is both entertaining yet at the same time distracting me from my main goal of studying.

That is all.

Morale

Well, I’m going home this weekend mostly because I’ve lost a significant amount of morale over the past couple weeks. It’s been essentially university beating me over the head over and over. And it doesn’t seem to want to let up. So it’s time to take refuge for a little while. Don’t get me wrong, I’m going to working harder than I’ve ever worked to try and wrap my head around all the material we’ve been learning. Plus, I really need to improve my basic (relative) math skills. I mean if I forget a thing or two, that’d be normal, but there have been some serious issues with me lately. I feel like I’m actually incapable of picking stuff up. Maybe it’s just info overload or something, but it’s not doing anything nice for my morale. I would probably say it’s at an all time low right now. Much worse than after midterms last semester even. I can hardly wait til that rolls around this semester, which is really only another week and a bit away. Scary I know.

Let’s just say I’m having some serious issues in several of the classes and I’m not sure how much more of a beating my resolve can take. I’m going to have to do some serious thinking this weekend.

It’s serious. I kid you not. It’s not like me saying, “oooooohhhh I failed that test” in high school. This is serious stuff. I don’t know if you’ll believe me. Maybe I cried wolf one too many times already.

Seething

Today was one of the first days in quite a while that I was truly, genuinely pissed off. And I don’t even think it was the actual anger that bothered me so much. I think it was mostly the fact that I knew I was angry and hadn’t felt like that in such a long time.

I started off the TUTWiT blog as something that greatly interested me, tech and the TWiT podcast. Okay, so I’ll admit it probably wasn’t the best idea (uninvited TWiT and all) but I did something I wanted to do and wrote about something I’m interested in. After all, that’s what a personal website is for. Anyways, I got some scathing remarks and comments about the blog that I didn’t think was warranted. To put it lightly, I was bombarded by people sarcastically congratulating me for ‘becoming’ a TWiT and all that sort of stuff. I’ve never found it necessary to personally attack people, but on the net it’s different. You can say things to people you wouldn’t or couldn’t bring yourself to in real life. But that is just one of the many joys of the internet no? The great equalizer. Someone with a big mouth can say anything he/she wants.

As I never liked arguing senselessly, I’ve stripped away just about everything that may allude to the former focus of the blog, TWiT. It’s going to be a generic tech blog just like the other thousands (if not millions) out there. Perhaps that’ll remove me from their radar screens. I can’t take another comment about it. I mean I like any constructive criticism, but this was just unnecessary in my opinion. Hope you’ve got nothing to bitch about now.

Counterstrike Voice: Terrorists Win

While George Bush and his lackey are constantly touting their defeat of terrorism all over the world, all we have to do is look at home to see how little meaning his words carry. Take for example an event that will definitely be well-watched: SuperBowl XL. Now the SuperBowl is lone of the things that makes America… well, America. It’s one of those prestigious events, revered by many and definitely portrays the true spirit of the country. Now what happens when something like the SuperBowl gets caught up in all of this terrorism stuff? They’re expecting over 65,000 fans at the stadium in Detroit this year. But what’s truly remarkable is the fact that over 10,000 security personnel will also be on the scene. Ladies and gentlemen, that’s one in every seven people or so. 1/7. 14.3%. So while world leaders rant and rave that terrorists must not be allowed to win and how terrorism is being defeated, it’s hardly the case when something as symbolic as the SuperBowl is feeling the effects of terrorism.

It hasn’t helped the situation that someone like George Bush is in power at the White House, leading a nation by fear. At every opportunity, he stresses the dangerous world we live in, how you are safe nowhere until each and every terrorist is ‘brought to justice’. The thing is however, fear is a mind-controlling emotion. To shed that fear, people will do almost anything, support almost everything.

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Who Writes These Guys’ Lines?

The War on Terror has dragged on for more than four years now, but the beginning of the Year 2006 has already brought the fight to an unprecedented level. The United States of America has fired on Pakistan, a so-called “ally” in the war.

Egyptians Killed In Strike – CNN

Understandably, this has caused outrage in the country and a call for the country’s president to step down has been issued by the populace. I mean for as far back as I can remember, attacking a foreign country was essentially a declaration of war. But will Pakistan fight? Of course not. They’ve got a pro-American president (well, the bribes have made him pro-American) and the US is still the only super power. Who would dare touch them? Plus you’ve got all those American politicians babbling about how much the regret the killing of innocent Pakistanis yet have the nerve in the same breath to say that it was justified.

Lawmakers Defend Pakistani Strike

This is really how it goes now isn’t it? The Americans do whatever the hell they want and then as long as they make up a half-assed apology, relating it with the war on terror, they’re off the hook in the world’s eyes. What’s next? Are they going to ban Canada’s beef again sometime and relate that to the war on terror? ‘Uh… in the interests of National Security® we must ban this beef that we believe may contain the chemicals needed to produce weapons of mass destruction.’

Let’s dissect a few of of these lawmakers’ comments. I shall be as sarcastic and cynical as written words will allow so bear with me here.

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Stupid Bandwidth Limits

Damn stupid ResNet bandwidth limitations here at UWaterloo are getting on my nerves. Apparently streaming 128kbps music all day over the internet isn’t be the best idea. Nor is watching high quality keynote presentations from CES. So my weekly bandwidth allotment of 1500MB has vanished. I used up almost 1400MB yesterday alone and I won’t be getting it back until at least this coming Wednesday. This sucks. I’m going to really have to bug my parents about getting a separate line here. But in the meantime, I may venture out to the library or something and siphon the wireless for next few days. Don’t get excited about really reading anything new here for a bit since I’m pretty lazy and walking to the library isn’t my idea of fun. 😀

But since I can’t hang around on the internet, I guess I could read some more and play some Rome Total War… I guess that’s not so bad in itself. 🙂

[tags]bandwidth, University of Waterloo[/tags]

World in my Eyes: Jan. 5, 2006

There’s always lots going on all around the world each and every day, but the following are some of the things that are important in my eyes.

CNN: At least 134 killed in attacks across Iraq

It’s been almost three years now that the Coalition has been in Iraq. For a long time the worse was said to have been over. For a long time it was said that things were getting better, that signs pointed to a better and brighter future. But time after time, those hopes and predictions are shattered by the ear-splitting sound of another carbomb. Today one of the worst attacks in recent history has once more left many dead. Still, there are officials babbling about how the insurgents are being dealt major blows in the war on terror. I found this to be a pretty rediculous quote by one of them:

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Growing Up…

So I was home this past weekend and had a few nice talks with the parents. You know, when you’re at university, you just don’t get the time or chance to do that and you realize how little you really see them. It used to be that I’d go home everyday and you’d just know they’d be there or if not right then a little later. But when you’re no longer at home, it really puts things into perspective. Taken for granted? For sure I’m shamed to say. It’s not until it’s taken away from you that you truly realize what you had.

Okeee… moving on. So where was I. Right, talking with the folks. So we were just finishing up dinner Saturday night and were talking about my housing for the next semester. For those of you who don’t know (I’m surprised, most of you don’t!) I’m going on my first work term this coming semester. So, recently I’ve been on the lookout for an appropriate place to live. Apparently, it’s pretty hard to find a decent place. It’s either living in some person’s basement for a semester or sharing an apartment with several unknowns. All my friends here got jobs elsewhere or haven’t gotten jobs yet. And I can’t realistically wait for them to get jobs. Anyways, the point wasn’t the housing itself. I realized that I’m well, growing up. There used to be a time when you could easily retreat to the safety of home to lick your wounds. Those days are quickly drawing to a close. In a way, living here at residence is really shielding us to the reality we’ll soon have to face. There is still some sense of control and organization enforced onto us by the housing people here. Once we move out, we’re really on our own.

This semester has really flown by. In fact, you know what, my whole life has flown past when I really look back on it. I can still picture Michael and I standing at the back of the West Kent playground planning the Millenium Group’s eventual conquering of the world. Oh I can still see the maps we made of all our ‘armies’. And we went on that grade 6 trip to Cape Breton when a bunch of the other schools were going to like Mill River (the Islanders will get this one =P). And yeah Mike and Alex, remember that trip?! Haha, see those were good times. Then it was junior high and somehow I became amazing friends with Nick. I don’t even know how it happened and the last time we talked about that, he couldn’t come up with the real progression of our friendship either. I recall our band trip in grade 9 and playing that solo in Shark Bait in that school. Apparently it was really good, but I couldn’t really understand why I was so pumped that day.

Then senior high school at the Gray. Those were the best days of my life. Especially grade 12. Grade 10 and 11 weren’t all that special. I had a weird obsession with school those days. I really let loose in grade 12 and I don’t regret it one bit. Two musicals and four band trips in three years. I will always think back to those days with great fondness. And those were the times when I solidified my friendship with all you special people back home. (Yes, I still think of PEI as home; cute isn’t it?) Oh yes friends, that brings me to my next thought…

I was talking to this person here at university about what we left behind. This person has become better friends with the people here at university than they had ever been with the people back in their hometown. Now this isn’t some loserish person who never became good friends with the people back home. Quite the opposite. I can tell this person would’ve been a very popular person who most likely was well-liked.

I thought about this in my context. Am I better friends with the people here than I am with the people who are still back on the Island (or on exchange)? The resounding answer is no. Oh don’t get me wrong. The people here I’ve become friends with are awesome people. They’re nice and share so many things in common with me. But that doesn’t really seem to matter. The people I’ve left mean something totally different to me. There’s something special with them that I don’t think I’ll ever find in anyone else. Yes, that’s saying a lot, but I’ve met a lot of people and I just don’t see that sort of … element to them. I’m going to be with many of these people for the next 5 years of my life and I will grow very close to some of them, but it won’t be the same. Some people told me when I was leaving PEI that I’d find other friends, other very good friends. I accepted this, but I also accepted the fact that I may never find the friends I had from back home. That’s why I’m so excited to be going to visit next summer for a couple weeks. Yeah, it’s such a long time away, but I’ll be looking forward to it each and every day. I miss you guys and the Island so much that I came the closest to crying this weekend I have in a long time when I was looking at some pictures of my time there. Not even ashamed to say it.

So it’s only 12:10AM but I think I’m going to hit the sack and listen to a podcast or something. This is going to be the earliest time I’ve gone to bed in the past month and I’m definitely looking forward to it. Sorry to all those I haven’t written emails to (specifically Michael, Nick, Alex, Sean, Maryse, and… I think that’s it. You guys wrote me great emails and I feel terrible for not having written back… in some cases in more than a month). I promise to get some out tomorrow. It’s an awfully nice feeling to be finished of assignments in advance of the day they’re due.

P.S. This whole post is actually totally off topic to what I orignally intended. It just started flowing so I thought I’d let it go for now. I’m continue my original train of thought in a later post.

I Feel Like

Wow, the predominant feeling right now is one of despair, wanting to scoop my eyeballs out with a spoon, chopping my hand off, etc, etc. Let me explain. It all started last weekend.

So weekend before the midterms. That’s a busy weekend let me tell you. I spent basically my life at the library studying away for linear algebra. Apparently we’ve learned stuff in that class. So I studied quite a bit for that. Then I worked on my programming assignment for ECE150 class. That was just a generally frustrating time. You see I’m starting to understand it all, but it’s still a new concept to me and I’m not exactly proficient in it. Far from it actually. But after probably 6 hours on that, I finish. Friday night and Saturday night, usually reserved for some sort of social activity was taken up by studying. Well, that’s not true. I’ve been doing a lot of studying with two fellow Computer Engineering classmates and they’re a lot of fun so it’s not like it’s all work. But still, at the end of each day, I felt mentally drained.

Monday: Classes start getting smaller due to people skipping to study. I also receive some awesome news. That interview I went to? Well I ranked it 1 on my job rankings since it sounded like a very nice job that I would definitely learn a lot in and push my abilities. Well, I got it! I was so unbelievably happy about that. However, I forgot to ask the salary at the interview so I have no clue as to what I’ll actually be paid. It’s basically up the road from our university though so at least housing won’t be too expensive. Not like living in downtown Toronto anyways… So I can now officially say I’ll be working for SlipStream Data, a company that has a very promising technology that is already used by a very large amount of customers. I’m very excited and can hardly wait to start there.

Tuesday: The day of my Linear Algebra midterm was a hectic one. Of course being the person I am, I crammed at the last minute for it. Classes were very small. We had probably 1/3 of our class at lectures. See the thing is, these profs don’t stop or slow down cause people aren’t there. They don’t baby you around here. So Linear Algebra wasn’t too bad at all. There were a few tricky questions, but the overall feeling was a good one. The studying definitely paid off fairly well.

Wednesday: Studying like mad for ECE150, possibly my weakest subject. I’m at the library again this day working on old assignments to see if I can still do them. I also read a bunch of the textbook material again since it’s been a while since I had last read it and there was still about 50 pages I hadn’t even looked at. I don’t do badly on the old assignments at all. However remember this is with the help of a computer compiler that checks for coding errors and helps you correct them. Paper isn’t so good at that. I know it’s going to be tough to write out good code on paper. But I understand the concepts and feel okay.

Thursday: Totally utterly crushed. Generally feel like dieing and blowing my face off with a bazooka. If I’m going to fail anything, it’ll be this midterm. Let’s put it this way, I didn’t finish it and left 16 marks out of 90 blank. Totally utterly blank. Zero, zip, nadda, goose-egg, 0. I had an overpoweringly sick feeling. But thankfully it wasn’t just me. Although I’m just a beginner programmer, even the more experienced ones found the exam very lengthy. Let’s put it this way. For this year’s midterm, they shrank the time down to 1:30 from 2:00 of last years. It was longer in terms of actual work and harder than last years… Yeah… So of the parts that I actually did, I did pretty well (I think, don’t want to say that then get totally owned) but the problem is that I didn’t do all of it. However I think I know what screwed me over. I spent too much time perfecting the programs I did work on. If I had of left them semi-okay and moved on, I could’ve finished the exam in its entirety and probably gotten more points for doing all of them half-assed than doing some of it well. Kinda goes against what they taught you in high school no? So I basically wanted to die at that point, but hearing everyone else’s troubles kinda eased my pain as sick as that may sound.

So we’re on to Friday. Today. I had nightmares about the exam last night and I’m pretty ashamed to say it as it shows you how pathetic I am. But I’ve never felt that way before. New experience you know. I’m feeling a lot better now, had a pretty grueling day of lectures again though. I don’t understand why they made our Fridays so deadly. I’m also going back home for the weekend. Even though it’s always nice to get away from the folks and all, when tough times arise, it’s good to know that there’s a safe haven somewhere for me where I can let everything go. Then again, I’ll be studying like hell anyways, so that doesn’t really make much of a difference…

Troubles? Definitely, but I think I’ll be okay. Chances are our final exams will be weighted a lot heavier if we have a marked improvement on them over the midterms. I’m determined to do better on that. But for now, this image adequately portrays my feelings. What’s wrong with this picture now…

Depressed

There’s no way around it. I’m completely, utterly depressed right now. I just came back from a three hour session at the library trying to get loads of work done. I got through about 7 assignment questions in chemistry and did a bit of review for the upcoming midterms. That pathetic little bit of work in 3 hours. God. Why? Cause that chem assignment was handing my ass to me on a silver platter with cheese on the side. Pwned? Noobed? Yes, all of the above please. To make it worse, earlier today when I was working on my calculus assignment, it was much the same. The very first problem had me laboring and laboring. I’m practically dead in the water. I have never known so much difficulty in my life, which is probably something to be glad for, considering I’ve never undergone too much hardship in the past, but this really takes it. The high school to university transition is nothing like what they said. Oh, they told us it would be a big jump, but this isn’t a jump. This is an impossible leap. I feel as though I have my legs stretched all the way across the ravine and I can barely hold on. Either I get a big push over or I’m gonna fall straight down.

That big push is going to have to come in the form of help from TAs and professors. Even today, I went to our ECE TA’s office and went through the programming assignment with one of them. That helped a lot. I really need to start doing that more. And going to the library too. There are way too many distractions even just in my room. You go to the library and pick out a little booth where you sit and do work without distractions, without noise. I plugged my headphones in and I was away doing work. I can see how some people crawl into a shell when they come to university. The study side of me is telling me to do it. It would be so easy to shun contact with people and just study away. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending) my social side is much stronger. I have to find the right balance.

But it still doesn’t dismiss the fact that I am very down right now. With midterms quickly approaching, I feel as though I’m stuck on train tracks and a train’s bearing down at me. It seems no matter what I do, I can’t untie the knot holding me there. It may only be a matter of time before, SPLAT. It’s times like these when I ask myself, am I cut out for this? Don’t take this the wrong way, I’m still happy with myself as a person, but in terms of my studies, I dislike where I’m headed. And I’m not alone, oh no. A great many people in my program are feeling the same thing. Hell, a great many people in engineering everywhere feel the same thing. I mean just take a look at this article.

Confessions of an Engineering Washout

You know what? I feel frighteningly similar to what he felt just before dropping out. I don’t intend to drop out at first signs of difficulty. In fact, I want to face them and overcome them. Nothing would make me happier or mentally stronger. Plus, I don’t even know what I’d do if I dropped out of engineering. Take arts? No, I’d probably just crawl into a corner and die. See, I’m not cut out for programs like that. My heart is in computers and design. Engineering is my field. I just need to surmount these obstacles, those daunting, enormous obstacles in the way.

And you know what adds to the feeling of being in a hole trying to climb out? The fact that there are no breaks. Sure I had a long Thanksgiving weekend, but a big part of it was spent either doing work or thinking about doing work. I know worrying doesn’t help anything, but it’s awfully hard to get your mind off it when you know there’s another assignment due the day you get back. The assignments never end. Back at the Gray, you’d do a big set of tests all clumped together and have like a month in between when you could slack off. Here, they’re giving out the next week’s assignment before I even pass in the current week’s. And they’re not the do-it-before-class type assignments. As can be shown by my work tonight, I spent a good portion of that 3 hour library stint working on that assignment and I can’t honestly say I’m finished. There’s one question I cannot do for the life of me and another that I’m not too confident in my answer.

I just found a quote that exemplifies how I feel right about now. I did well back on the Island in high school, but here, well that’s a different story.

I entered Cornell as a physics major, thinking I was hot sh** because I had the high-school physics lab named after me (the teach promised that to anyone who got a 5 on the AP and 100 on the NY State Regents exams). I also planned to take a lot of CS.

I proceeded to get butt-raped by Calc 192, “Calculus for Engineers,” as a first-semester freshman class.

Twice.

I don’t think it was as much the fact that I could not understand the material in the allotted time- curiously, I got most of the bonus questions (which tested actual understanding) right on the prelims, but not the bulk of the actual test- I think it was the fact that I had no prior experience at the kind of discipline it took to plow through 6-hour problem sets on a biweekly basis (the kinds of problem types which, of course, made up the bulk of the actual test).” – 5n3ak3rp1mp

I never built up the discipline, much like this guy, to do these multiple-hour long problem sets. Back in high school, you could get away with doing very little aside from the little assignments. So clearly, looking at the hideous amounts of questions we’re ‘suggested’ to do, I just laughed. And now those questions are laughing at me. Because the concepts are new and difficult, only doing problems and more problems will engrain them into my head. But I didn’t realize that until now. And only now am I actually starting to get my ass in gear. Sure it sounds terrible to spend such a large portion of your time outside of class in the library, but it’s the only way it’s going to get done. I wish I could go out and party every weekend, but it’s not gonna happen that way, at least not for now. Who knows, I may develop super good discipline through the week which would give me more time to rest on the weekends. But that can only come with time.

So maybe say a little prayer for me if you’re religious. I think I’m going to need all the help I can get. If there’s one thing I’ve improved on over this semester, it’s that I’m no longer ashamed to ask for help.