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Must concentrate, must study.

Must concentrate, must study.

Okay, here’s the plan:

Read through the class notes (own and provided) and jot down any important looking equation.

Go through book chapters looking at pictures, diagrams and equations. Write down any that might be on the final.

Compile a notesheet to use on the file from these notes.

Look over old homeworks for what was done incorrectly and equations used. If there is something that was used on the homework not on the notesheet, put it there.

Do the same with the midterm(s).

Re-write the notesheet clearly in an organized fashion to be used on the final.

Make a second notesheet of material that is not allowed on the first one (if applicable). Read this over before going to sleep the night before the final.

Ensure a solid nights sleep.

And that is how I have dealt with every physics final that has allowed notesheets (all of them).

The finals I dread are those that allow calculators and open-note open-book exams. Those scare me to no end. That and take home finals.

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A College Night at Super Cucas in Isla Vista,

A College Night at Super Cucas in Isla Vista,

It is often said that college is the best four years of your life. Now that it is ending for me I can see why this is. It is a time where your financially stable, you are content with living with bare minimums, there are no debts to pay, no long term careers to worry about, relatively buffered from the economy, can choose what you want to do and when you want to do it, you are immediately part of a larger community that offers tons of programs and clubs, friends from all sorts of background and ideally you spend your days learning what you want to learn.

And then it ends.

My friends are looking into what jobs they can get, where they are going to live. Some are decide to stay near the University for as long as they can, others move home where it is cheaper and some take a year off before deciding anything.

I know a lot of people would love to relive their college years, in a way this is evidences with the tons of college based movies glorifying the highlights of a year within an hour and a half.

So I recall something my first physics TA and friends told us the first week he taught us:

This is my first year as a graduate student and it is like my freshman year all over again.

As a result I am not sad or worried that my years as an undergraduate are ending. Instead I see them as evolving into my years as a graduate students. Eventually I am may have to join the workforce of the real world, but I don’t think I will ever need too. I am going to spend the next half a dozen years with rockets, balloons, lightning and space. Afterwards I plan to work at pushing at the edges of space.

If college are the best years why do we stop what makes them great?

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Reflections in Rick Carpenters' art studio.

Reflections in Rick Carpenters' art studio.

It tends to be a dreaded moment when going to purchase books only to find that the textbook for the class is written by the professor. On one occasion I dropped a class because not only was the textbook by the professor but several others were by other faculty members (this was hardly the only reason though). The fact that they have a book is a sign that they know what they are talking about, it is bad because they might just be bad writers and they are assigning it because it is theirs. Furthermore there is then only one perspective for the class: the professor’s.

So when I signed up for Astrobiology the books was written by the professor (Kevin Plaxco) but as it was only twenty dollars used I did not feel so bad. I also skimmed through it and there was fortunately little chemistry diagrams or tables. Since astrobiology is a relatively new field I felt that it would be okay (compared to a professors book in English or Political Science).

The second week of the class the professor did something that I felt was just a good thing to do. He reimbursed everyone of us for the money he made from us buying his book. Turns out he only makes fifty cents a copy sold.

He did this because when he was an undergraduate a professor did it for him and it made a lasting impression, he said that if he ever published a book and taught a class with it he would do the same. Now I am going to say that if I ever publish a book and am lucky enough to teach a class using that book I will also pay back the students the money I make off the book.

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Safety first, then kimwipes.

Safety first, then kimwipes.

It is like herding cats.

The first challenge in coordinating three undergraduate physics majors (2nd, 3rd and 4th years) and one 3rd year biology major is simply getting their schedules. They give you one and then it changes during the first week. Then the second week is spent finalizing schedules and getting their final ones.

With those in hand a table mock up of when they are available with when two can be in lab at the same time is fairly simple. But the challenge is figuring out hours for everyone while trying to consider things like not working with the same person the whole time, time for meals and not assigning random blocks in the middle of their free time (it is better to abut research time to a class).

So I finished a schedule, sent it out thinking it was pretty good.

Three hours later I heard back from one of them, I read what he gave me as time available. It was time he was in class.

By this time my piece of paper with schedules on it has several layers of colors, ink types and notations. If there are any more changes it will require a new weekly calender mock up.

After writing the above I received some more e-mails about the schedule and have scrapped the whole thing and started over. This time I set up four google calenders, one for each person. The calenders are shared between the four of us with each person able to only edit their schedule while viewing the others. The goal is that everyone will put up the hours they will be in lab, choosing times others can be there, and then others will schedule that time as well.

I started by setting up my times so it will be interesting to see how this will go. I also dropped my involvement from ten hours to five hours a week as the stress this was causing is not worth the payoff (which is essentially nothing at this point).

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Boston had a lot of good reflective buildings.

Boston had a lot of good reflective buildings.

Today I volunteered for Spring Insight, the weekend where prospective high school students can come to campus and learn more about majors, colleges, activities and student services. Plus a whole host of events and presentations.

It was great, I got to spend all morning and the first part of the afternoon talking to people about physics, how awesome it is and why they should come here. Sometimes they stayed for only a few minutes but some we cornered and talked at for a good twenty minutes about what it is like at UCSB and why they should come here.

Initially I was only going to be there for half the event but ended up staying the entire time as I was enjoying myself; part of it was that I was essentially just hanging out with friends in the enjoyable sunlight.

I finished the the volunteer work off with a nice nap in the afternoon. The start of the quarter is always rough.

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Fluff

I need more time to take photos.

I need more time to take photos.

I have been told that I need to take fluffier classes. I agree wholeheartedly; for my last quarter I am signed up for fluffy easy classes. Well comparatively easy.

For some reason I don’t think many would consider General Relativity an easy class. I am also signed up for Non-linear phenomena as a fun elective, though I may drop it for a class without homework sets, a final or reading but still a physics course. The problem is that GR is going to be a hard class that I really want to take. I dropped two other classes (I was signed up for 6 classes) until a friend pointed out that I won’t need any of them, the professors are not that good and I could learn the material from the book without the class.

It is just really hard to not sign up for seven physics courses in my last quarter since I want to learn about it all. I suppose I can just take them in graduate school.

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Torrential rain is the best kind at UCSB.

Torrential rain is the best kind at UCSB.

 

 

Rain in Santa Barbara is by far my favorite time of year, I do not know mean the light drizzle or small half hour spurts of water, rather the full day of torrential rain. The campus feels so clear and perfect. Giant pools of clear water litter the ground, streams of water flow over gravel and roots. Buildings gain new stained faces as the water pours down.

A new sound overrides the background of the ocean; the slow drip and splash of water coalascing down trees. Eucalyptus are in full fragrance as water flows over the leaves into fat drops landing heavily onto the ground and unsuspecting heads.

Many people do not know how to handle rain. Plastic bags make an appearance as ponchos and seat covers, over backpacks and shoulder bags. Some embrace the rain to fully absorb as much as possible while others deck out in wellies, umbrellas and jackets. Class attendance drops, everyone stays inside (except the surfers), bike and skateboards evaporate off the paths. Some persist in order to elicit smiles from walkers drier under umbrellas.

And then there is the one person biking around with an umbrella held directly in front.

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