Saturday, February 3, 2007

Getting Schooled...

Ok, time for me to vent a little bit here by telling you what I'm up against here. 

1.  I've gone back to graduate school at one of top research university's in the country after 4 years of being out of school not really using my brain and slowly forgetting what I had learned. 

2. My research involves having a pretty thorough understanding of the UNIX computing environment which I had never worked in before coming here and haveCimg7239
had to teach myself on the side.  If you don't know UNIX let me digress:  It looks like dos.  If you add one extra space to a script or a / or $ where it shouldn't be, the system locks up and you can't do a thing.  This is especially frustrating when you can't find your mistake on pages and pages of numbers or when my advisor leaves for the day thinking that I'll have everything wrapped up for the following morning. 

3.  My research also involves higher level math and physics, examples being matrix theory and applied differential equations and seeing that I haven't had a math or physics course in 7 years I'm pretty lost. 

4.  Because I haven't had math in 7 years my advisor felt it necessary for me to catch up on math so I'm now taking Differential Equations with undergrads which I've been Cimg7241
told here is the hardest undergraduate math course offered and unless I have an expert knowledge of Integral and Differential Calculus I will fail.  Hmmm.... I remember taking integral 7 years ago but have no clue what it involved.  So... I've spent 80 bucks on Calc for dummies books and am in the process of teaching myself the two courses (integral and differential calculus) that are needed in order to pass the Differential Equations course I'm enrolled in...Essentially I'm taking 3 math courses in one right now... and not doing well. 

5. Lets talk about hours here... My research assistantship demands 20hrs/wk.  I am in class 14hrs/wk.  The professors ask that as students we prepare atleast 2-3 hours for each lecture they give.  I'm taking 4 classes.  One of them doesn't have any prep work for it so I'll just use the other 3 which meet 3 times per week.  So.... 3x3 = 9.  So for each of those 9 hours of class (and I'll low-ball it here) I am asked to spend 2 hours preparing for it.  So 9x2 = 18hrs/wk prep for classwork.  But wait... I'm teaching myself Image0031

two other math courses, how to work in UNIX, and learning the background of inverse modeling for my research so we should easily tack on another 10hrs/wk for that as well.  And, I have to work on the side to pay my bills.  The schedule I've attached is the one I would have if I still was bartending.  Now I've found other data entry work that fills those hours up anyway that I'll get paid for.  So, I'll low ball it again and say 10hrs/wk of outside work.  Lets add those hours up now shall we?  20 + 14 + 18 + 10  + 10 = 72 hrs/wk of classwork/work/class/research.  On a week like midterms (this upcoming week I could spend 90 hours).   I'll say that between waking up, showers, breakfast, lunch and cooking dinner it's about 20hrs/wk for that.  72 + 20 = 92.  I also go to Corvallis Mountain Rescue meetings once a week or have training for it all day on saturday so we can add on an average of 4 hrs/wk for that as well 92 + 4 = 96.  I also work out for an hour each day to stay in shape.  96 + 7 = 103.  There.. 103 hours per week.  The rest of the time is is my time.  Now for the fun of it lets break down how much "my time" I have.  24hrs x 7 days = 168 hrs/wk.  I like to get 8 hours of sleep a day.  8x7=56.  168-56 = 112hrs of "awake time".  112hrs "awake time" - 103 hrs "busy time" = 9 hrs/wk "my time".  This is a little over 1 hour a day when my day starts at 8 am and finishes at midnight.  And oh, look... I've just wasted the one hour of "my time" writing this!

6.  At this point in time I should be starting to think about what I want to do with the research for my Masters here.  How can I do this when I don't even understand the research I'm doing?

7.  I think I may be the only one here without a laptop to take with them to class or home to continue work or something.  This is a big disadvantage as I'm a much faster typist than note taker by hand.  Thankfully, Jason has let me borrow his old one but the battery is dead and it constantly needs a wall outlet which leaves me in the back of the room squinting at powerpoint presentations.

8.  I function well socially but now I have no time to socialize.  I find myself meeting everyone out at Bombs on Tuesday night just to run around in circles trying to make quick conversations with everyone I know because I have so little time throughout the week to maintain friendships here.

9.  I'm thinking about switching advisors and my research here.  If you've never been in graduate school let me tell you right now, THIS IS A HUGE MOVE.   It means letting my advisor down so that I can move to an area that interests me more and if I don't do it right it could leave me without funding.  Right now I think I'm going to try to finish out the research I have now until it's done with at the end of the calender year, but I have to start looking around now for something where I can use the skills set I already have to my advantage.

10.  #10 is my personal life.  An elderly father who is sick, a daughter who I love but can't be with, a mother who worries about me and doesn't understand where I'm coming from right now, and a girlfriend whom I love.  All the people I love are on the other side of a continent from me.  The activities that keep me sane - going to the mountains for biking, skiing, mountaineering, I seem to not have time for anymore. 

Thus is the life of a graduate student.  To give you a better understanding of what I'm trying to learn look at the pics and read this:  It's one of the paragraphs in a paper my advisor told me should be an easy read.

" We have used an iterative backprojection method based on that described by Hole [1992].  For the inverse step the model is parameterized in terms of constant slowness cells, the cells being equal in size to the node spacing of the forward step.  The slowness in each cell equals the average of the slownesses of the nodes at the eight corners of the cell.  (1) The ray-path-averaged slowness perturbation for each ray passing through the cell equal to change in t/l, where t is the travel time residual of the ray and l is its total length, and (2) the number of rays passing through the cell.  After the rays are traced the slowness update for each cell through which at least one ray passes equals the first sum divided by the second sum." 

The best part of this is that it doesn't reference to an equation or figure anywhere for a better understanding.  If you understood it please give me a call and explain it to me!


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