Friday, March 30, 2007

Strange Energy

This morning on my drive to work, I felt a kind of weird energy, like a slight charge of anticipation and excitement. It's the kind of feeling you might have after a promising first date. I'm not sure what it's about, but let's speculate.

"Wet bus stop, it's raining, his car is warm and dry"
I got a ride downtown from my professor last night after class, since it was snowing. (It's been very warm lately and then blam! spring snow!) It wasn't that exciting, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to quote Sting.

My software engineering principles class is working on a project, and it hasn't been going that well for a couple of weeks, but last night we really sat down to design our database schema. I love designing databases, so it was right up my alley. But what was more salient was another thing, which is that the one other smart, diligent person in my class (out of the five of us), Warren, was the main one arguing with me about all of the decisions. (Only three of us even showed up - me, Warren, and a guy who isn't too bright.) So Warren, Dr. Paul, and I spent basically two hours hammering out a lot of this database design, and it was wonderful how it worked, the way that Warren and I were able to argue cogently with each other and bring up all kinds of possible situations in which one design or the other might be superior. It's rare that I've had this kind of experience in any group, much less a school project. I've respected Warren for a while, so this was just like a little capper.

Weekend Plans
Near the end of that class, we each committed to "deliverables" for Tuesday. I volunteered to write the code (PHP) to create the database that we hammered out. (Our design of it is not completely finished, but we did complete a lot of the schema.) This is a big deliverable (to judge by the reactions to my suggestion that I would do it), and it should take me a while, but it feels very doable - I know how to do it, and it's just a matter of actually doing it.

Meanwhile, in my Geometry class, we got another problem set. It's due next Thursday, and I'll probably need to spend a fair number of hours on it. Like the exam, the problem sets usually take a lot of both working time and non-working time where my brain can just mull on the difficult problems, so I need to work on this early and often. (If you're curious, you can see the problem set here.)

Meanwhile, our grant project will be winding to a close soon (there are about six weeks left in the semester), and we haven't accomplished much this semester, though overall we've accomplished what seems (from the outside) like a fair amount. Dr. Paul, who is also the advisor for that, wants us to write a small paper for a conference he thinks we can get into, and we need an abstract for that paper next week. So the idea at this point is to figure out what the paper should say (we actually do have enough material/ideas to write a small paper), write the abstract, and then figure out, based on what the paper should say, what we absolutely have to finish to be able to write the paper. (In other words, if the paper should contain a screen shot of a particular thing, we need to make the thing that will create the screen shot.) This is as good a way to organize our remaining work as anything, and a bonus of writing the paper (besides possibly getting into the conference, which publishes a journal of its proceedings) is that we should be able to fairly easily rework it into our final report for the funding agency.

This all adds up to a lot of work I need to do this weekend. Unlike what you might think, I feel pretty energized thinking about getting up tomorrow morning and tackling this stuff.

It's Friday! In addition to the usual Fridayness that everyone can appreciate, Friday night is when I have my date with Mosch. Mosch and I don't get to spend enough time together lately, and he was in Houston all last week, so I'm especially looking forward to hanging out tonight.

I'm meeting another friend (Ed) for dinner Saturday night. It's not quite a date, but should be fun anyway.

My iPod, which plays random stuff from my entire music collection on my desk at work all day, has been choosing mostly Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, and Tom Waits all morning. It seems like it's trying to tell me something, but I'm not sure what. (Be more cynical?)

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