Friday, September 29, 2006

First Week of classes

Well, it's been a while since my last blog entry but I've been very busy adjusting to life here in Oregon and graduate school.  I made it through my first week of classes.  Right now I'm taking Chemical Oceaongraphy and Physical Oceanography (I'm an Oceanography Major in the Marine Geology & Geophysics Department of the College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Studies (COAS) here at Oregon State University (OSU).  I'm also taking a very difficult math course called Matrix and Power Series.  It is actually an upper level undergraduate course but since I haven't taken a bit of math or applied it in any way since my last class in 2000 I'm pretty bad at it... This past week I spent 25 hours studying math alone and I've only made it 30 pages into the text book.  I've apparently forgotten all my elementary math skills but they are coming back - slowly.  It's very frustrating because much of what I'll be doing (my assistantship is studying micro earthquakes off the Oregon Coast) requires a lot of math computation with computers in matrix series.  On the other hand, I knew I would encounter stumbling blocks towards my goals here and this is just one that I'll have to overcome with a lot of hard work.  It's not on my graduate school requirement list (Anne Trehu, my advisor, told me I need to take it to brush up on my math) so I changed it to Pass/Fail which eases my worries a bit. 
    The campus here is amazing.  I've never gone to a school with more than 2,000 people in it and this one has about 19,000 students, nearly 10x what I'm used to.  The facilities here are hi-tech and the rec center just got rebuilt two years ago to now include a bike shop where you can repair your bike, a large indoor track on the 2nd floor, an 18 person hot tub and sauna next to the regulation pool, and a HUGE indoor rock climbing gym.  The rock gym has amazing routes laid out in it, a bouldering cave and the walls around are nearly 50 feet high for belay-assisted climbs.  I quickly got my belay certification done before classes started and have been climbing at lunch time for 30-45 minutes every other day, slowly regaining my hand and arm strength on the wall as well as working on my positioning skills.  On the days when I'm not bouldering in the gym I'm doing lap swims at lunch time in the pool then soaking briefly in the hot tub for a few minutes.  I'm going to keep this up so that I can train my body to be as efficient and as powerful as it can be to tackle some of the big volcanoes out here and backcountry ski descents.  Plus... Everest is still on my mind down the road.  Last week I took a "core abs" class which was free for the first week of school.  Hahaha... big mistake... I walked in a minute late and barely made it into the room where I saw about 25 beautiful (but very young) girls sitting on big blue inflatable balls with only about two other guys in the room.  The instructor had the class warm up by "gyrating" our hips on the balls... oh man...  a room with 360 degree mirrors and girls gyrating on balls all around me... girls that I shouldn't even be looking at at the age of 27... girls that were being born while I was watching Airwolf and Night Rider.  No way... that's trouble... won't be taking that course again.  haha. 
    On thursday I decided to have a get together at my place with all the new COAS people thCimg6136at turnedCimg6130
out to be a great time.  We bbq'd some burgers in the back yard (It's been sunny and 75 to 80 for nearly two straight weeks now) and drank some microbrewed beers from the area.  Gwen also showed up with her boyfriend Cosmo and some
home made brew they had made themselves.  Jason and I let them try the homemade brew Jason hadCimg6141 brewed here as well.  Anna and Eleanor got into a twizler fight that actually left bruises on th
eir skin... (which Eleanor made sure to sign her name to).  Check out the video here:  We all chilled out in our backyard for while with Kenzie running around eating our spare burgers and causing mischief.  It was Brendan, Karen, Bart, Gwen, Cosmo, Anna, Isaac, Eleanor, Greg, Ashley (girl I met at Graduate School General Orientation), Mac, Jason, McKenzie (coolest dog in the world) and I.  There is now a waiting list of COAS people that want to move into my place as soon as Jason leaves.  Everyone was amazed at how much our place has for the little price that we pay.  I'm going to have to hold some serious interviews when Jason moves out!
    I haven't started my assistantship yet with Anne but have been reading up on some papers that she has given me.  Hopefully this coming week I'll be able to get together with her and get started.  She just bought an apple computer with two dual intel cores, 4 terabytes of hard disk, 6gb of RAM, and a beautiful 30 inch cinema display monitor that I'll most likely be solely working on.  Basically it's the most powerful conumer grade computer that Apple makes now and is worth about 10 grand I bet.  Anyway... that's the gist of my first week here... It's beautiful here and hasn't rained yet but they say it will start in about 2 more weeks and from Nov. to May it will be crappy pretty much every day, but what I've seen of the summer (non-stop sun) it will more than make up for the winter.  Anyway... miss everybody back home, especially the beautiful, sweet caring Emily Rigsy, and of course my rents. 


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