Sunday, September 30, 2007

First Exams Passed

The first exams have come and gone in both my physics classes (math still to come). I did tolerably well (barely, in my view).

In Mechanics, I completely blanked on a very easy problem, which ended up comprising most of the points lost (15 of 21 points lost out of a total of 90 on the exam). Lousy score, but apparently most of the class did much worse, so it should turn into a B or even A - the professor has not stated how he will curve things. E/M went slightly better 88% (B+). No curving apparent in this class, but he is pretty generous on grading.

As always, I will continue to do things at an unreasonably late time period - apparently, one cannot entirely beat procrastination out of one's system. At least I do not (usually) wait until the night before to do homework anymore (although slacked two extra days this week - damned Halo 3!).

Also as always, the Physics and Astronomy Club scheduling is problematic for me. Meeting times are either Tuesday late afternoon (giving me a 3-4 hour break on campus without too much to do - I suppose I could study!) or Wednesday afternoon, which conflicts with Beta's chess club (for which I am a volunteer helper). I'll try to make all I can! Fortunately, Astrophysics & Space Physics Journal Club is perfectly scheduled (mid-day on alternate Wednesdays. Now if I could just get the rest of the world to schedule to my convenience.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Current Publications

Scientific American: Decided to keep this one going. While not deeply useful for astrophysics, it has interesting articles still.

Technology Review (MIT): They changed their subscription to 6 times per year. It is good enough reading to keep it going.

Science: I decided to let this subscription drop. While very interesting, it is nearly entirely over my head (even when the topic is familiar – entirely over my head when on topics I do not study). The weekly delivery also makes for massive data overload for me. If I could learn the trick of only scanning it and cherry-picking the data I pull out of it, it might be more useful. However, it still is mostly over my head, so not really worth the trouble. I will stick with just downloading necessary articles for Journal Club. Oddly enough, even though I let the sub lapse in June and was called in mid-July about it (and told them I would not resubscribe at this time), the magazine kept coming into late August!

Maybe I can find a subscription which is only monthly (at best) but still appropriate for my studies. In the meantime, I get a lot of current science-based news online.

Atypical Non-procastination

In an entirely unusual move for me, I have completely updated the blog from the "diary" I had been keeping (taking out commentary on various persons I have met - not really appropriate for a possibly public blog). I'm all up to date!

Now I just need to survive the semester.

Oh yeah, while I mentioned back an earlier post that I had given up computer games "forever," that of course has not stuck. Some addictions cannot be put off forever. I play one online game mildly (and should even cut that back) and a number of console games. Hopefully I can keep it under control.

Typical Procrastination

In my typical fashion, I have put off any work on this blog until a moment of boredom. This time it took me just shy of a year - that may be a record for computer laziness for me.

I'm in my third semester back at GMU - only two more to go after this one until the B.S. in Physics is mine. While I have slacked on the blogger aspect, I did at least keep a log. Unfortunately, that's on my desktop machine and I am sitting here with my MacBook at Conservatory Conservatory while Beta daughter (second-born of the Twin Dragons for whom this blog is named) takes her lessons, so no reference notes. Look for more details of the past two semesters "later."

This time out, I am taking Classical Mechanics, Electromagnetic Theory and Intro. to Applied Mathematics. The Math and E/M Theory courses required as core courses. Mechanics is on the Electives list - the standard "pick 12 credits from this list of classes" thing. While my preference would be to take something more interesting to me - Intro to Astrophysics is a big one available this semester - my advisors have suggested Mechanics as a better foundation for ANY field of physics I might go into later on, including astrophysics. So here I am.

The big coincidence of the semester is that Classical Mechanics, essentially a sequel to University Physics I (just at a much higher level - Junior level vs. Freshman), is being taught by the same prof who I had for Physics I back in Spring 1999. It's also odd that one student sharing both my physics classes is, by my reckoning, a first semester sophomore and another, also in both of these classes is a last semester senior - a very odd mix for a Junior-level course.

So far, it is not stressing me too much - but the first exams will be in about two weeks (and looks like two on the same day, lucky me). Those always generate stress for me because I usually put off my textbook reading until exam time. (Yes, I should have learned by now. Some things do not ever change.)