Engineering Should Come With a Warning Label

Someone I know at school, Islin Moy, posted this note. I felt compelled to share it because it’s basically what I’m feeling right now.

From www.facebook.com:

In your senior year second semester, you will experience stress levels not felt since failing your first test, over a prolonged period of time, at the same intensity.

This is due to senior design and the “random” decision of professors to double your workload, including the ones you took courses from before.

Senioritis and the general decline of your attitude towards school also doesn’t help.

The question is, do you really want to graduate?

If the answer is YES, then forge ahead and take your sleeping pills/other methods to fall asleep at night to wake up 4 hours later! Only 72 days left!

There is no such answer as NO. You got this far.

And it’s actually only 66 days left now. I’m glad to hear other people are in the same boat I’m in.

The Free Range Method

After talking with many great people, I think I finally have a plan.

There are really two parts to this story, however I’m going to tell them in reverse order.

On Monday, I was feeling quite anxious. I’ve been feeling rather anxious all semester and I wasn’t entirely sure why. I went to More on Mondays, which is a targeted “seminar” that The Annex arranges. This past Monday was specifically for graduating seniors and they brought Cindy Smith, a woman who specializes in transition. Cindy usually deals with missionaries, expatriates, and repatriation. But being a senior is not entirely different. She provided us with a slide that shows the major steps of transition and then walked us through them:
transition
Click image to embiggen

This was really helpful. Just realizing that transition, especially on this scale, can be stressful and chaotic. This also helped me realize another thing: transitioning from college/Colorado to mission trip to work/Seattle would be way to much for me to handle. So I pretty much have nixed the idea of doing a mission trip over the summer, and I think it’s a good call.

Second, I talked with Jessica a couple weeks ago. She spent last fall traveling for about two months in Europe, which is great because that’s basically what I want to do – although I may go farther East than she did. I also filled in some important details of my trip. For me, it will probably cost about $4k-$5k, which is a lot, but I don’t think unreasonably so. I saved at least $1000 by using airline miles to fly from the US to Europe (assuming there isn’t some insane “fee” for booking said flight). Keeping cash on hand seems the way to go, which is what I remembered from my trip to Europe a couple years ago (I paid cash for everything…still have some left over, too).

In terms of getting around, Jessica said that using RyanAir (which I’d heard of) and easyJet (which I had not heard of) were probably better than getting a Eurail pass, although I don’t have to make that call just yet. In terms of sleeping accommodations, HostelWorld.com is the site to visit. I poked around it a bit and it seems really easy to use and should fit the bill just perfectly. The Lonely Planet series of books is what Jessica used, I currently have one on reserve at the library to see if I like the format and what they cover. If not, I may just end up using Rick Steves’. Or just wing it.

The plan, thus far, looks something like this: fly into and out of Europe via Paris or Frankfurt using airline miles. Spend several days in each city until I’m ready to move on to another city. Use HostelWorld to find places to sleep and meet new people. Theoretically find some other people travel with at a hostel and join them for a little while. Rinse and repeat. I’m calling this the free range method.

I would like to list out some places that I would like to visit, although I don’t want to attach a particular time or order in which to visit them. I think this will help move my journey along.

One of the other major things that I need to resolve is what I’m bringing. I would like to bring some photography equipment, but I’m not sure what and how much. There’s also the problem about what to do with all my photographs after I take them. Since I shoot in RAW, I need some special equipment and software to do any sort of editing, I can’t just upload them to Flickr. Do I want to just bring a stack of memory cards? I’m thinking about purchasing a netbook1 to bring with me. Costco is currently selling an Acer Aspire One Netbook with 8.9″ display, Intel Atom N270 1.6GHz, 1GB DDR2 RAM, 160GB HDD, no optical drive, and integrated webcam for $299.99. I could load it up with the most basic of RAW viewing tools so I could delete any photos I think are absolute crap and would never keep (e.g. blurry photos) and then upload the rest to a secure storage space online. This way I wouldn’t be completely SOL if the netbook was stolen, lost, broken (not that I’m planning on any of that happening).

Also, how much stuff do I really want to be taking? I want to be nimble.

If you’ve ever traveled abroad in this sort of fashion, what did you bring?


  1. A netbook is a small and cheap computer used primarily to access the Internet 

Ticket #9540124 is a Winner!

While the Colorado School of Mines isn’t sponsoring the event (as the Obama campaign paid for the use of the facility), Student Activities was able to get a hold of and raffle off 140 tickets to students this morning. On a whim, I put my name in the hat. And I won.

Ticket #9540124 is a winner!

But wait, didn’t you just write a scathing letter to the CSM president despising him for allowing this event to happen? you might ask.

I did. And I stand by that letter. However, when life gives me lemons, I try my damnedest to make lemonade. It’s an old cliché, but usually true. Tomorrow morning, I will be putting on my photography/press hat and taking pictures for the Oredigger, making the best of the circumstances.

It’s also worth nothing that a large part of my decision and ability to do this is the fact that my first class was canceled, which will help to alleviate some of the stress and anxiety of tomorrows hoopla. It’s still going to be crazy though.

An Open Letter to President Scoggins

Bill Scoggins, the President of the Colorado School of Mines, sent out the following email today:

Dear Mines Community:

I am pleased to report that Barack Obama’s campaign staff has rented Lockridge Arena in the Student Recreation Center for a community gathering, free and open to the public, on Tuesday, September 16. Doors will open at 7 a.m., and the program will begin at 9:30 a.m. We were in talks with the campaign for two days, and an agreement was reached Friday evening.

Since many national media representatives will cover the event, this is a tremendous opportunity to showcase our campus, students, faculty and staff–and the exciting work we’re doing here at Mines.

I am proud we were selected as the venue for this event, as it reflects our growing recognition as a leading, world-class research university. Tuesday’s event will increase our visibility even more. I am also proud that we were contacted by Senator McCain’s campaign staff earlier this summer. Although they chose another location for their event at that time, we welcome further inquiries from them about renting a facility at Mines. We should all be proud that our campus is a place where national policies are discussed.

Of course, an event such as this will cause some inconvenience to our Mines community. I feel it’s worth it and think you will agree. We expect 2,000 guests, plus media and VIPs, on Tuesday morning–with everything back to normal by noon. For those morning hours, however, you can expect parking to be a challenge. Please plan to walk, bike, carpool, and get an early start to campus that day. And plan to be patient.

I know many of you will want to attend the program. We have been given a limited number of tickets. This is not a Mines event–the Barack Obama campaign has rented space on our campus to host a public event. Information about the limited tickets provided to Mines will be announced via email later today or early tomorrow morning.

Together we will make this a positive, memorable event.

Thanks for your support,

Bill Scoggins

Initially, I was rather ecstatic to have a major political candidate on our campus. However, after reading Mr. Scoggins email and finally letting the reality of the situation set in, I realized this was bad. This was very bad. I’m going to vent in this open letter, because frankly, I don’t know what else to do.

Dear President Scoggins,

I do not agree with you. I think this event will cause quite a bit more than “some inconvenience to our Mines community.” And I do not feel it is worth it.

And lest you think that the rest of this letter is a rant from some Republican who just doesn’t want to see Mr. Obama on our campus, I can assure that this letter is not that (nor am I a Republican). My political standpoint has nothing to do with my frustration with your decision, nor should it.

I believe you showed an incredible lack of good judgment in bringing the Obama campaign to campus.

While you believe that this is “a tremendous opportunity to showcase our campus, students, faculty and staff – and the exciting work we’re doing here at Mines” and to tout us to the “many national media representatives [that] will cover the event,” I cannot fathom the horribleness that awaits me and my fellow students on Tuesday.

Are you completely blind to the amount of pressure and stress we’re under already? I have 19 credit hours with 10.5 hours of class on Tuesday, I’m going to have a freaking aneurysm.

We do not need the added stress of having to deal with the logistical issues associated with bringing the next potential President of the United States of America to our campus with less then two months until the election in a swing state. Secret Service, national media, local media, VIPs, the 2000+ people that will be flooding our campus. Need I continue?

Let me give you a picture of what I see: CSM is a school of about 3300 undergraduates. Now, for about 5 hours on a Tuesday morning, we’re going to instantaneously increase the number of people on campus by almost 60%. That’s 60% more cars, which we don’t have parking for and cannot handle. That’s 60% more people walking around campus. That’s 60% more commotion while I’m trying to freaking study!

Our school cannot simply absorb that many people and still function as a school!

Please tell me again how this is a good idea?

And then there’s the fact that all of this went down on a late Friday evening and not an official word about it until Sunday morning? Why was there such pisspoor communication? Why was the student body not consulted before hand? Should we expect more disruptions like this in the future?

I fear that making amends will be tough on this one. Yes, the ideal thing to do would be to cancel Tuesday’s event. But we both know that probably won’t happen. I honestly think the next best thing to do is cancel school for at least Tuesday morning and have classes resume around 1pm. While I’m not a fan of this solution, I believe it is the one that will cause the least amount of stress and disruption for all parties involved.

Cordially,

Andrew Ferguson

The Situation

This is a follow up to this mornings incident. This is what the situation seems to be:

The Lady-Downstairs is hearing noises, but can’t identify what they might be. She says it sounds like a printer. I’m upstairs going about my businesses in a reduced fashion in order to be as quiet as possible. He’s the frustrating part, her statements are so vague and inaccurate that A) I don’t know what she’s talking about, or B) She complaining about something that I have the perfect right to do. Either way, I can’t do anything about it.

My hands are tied and she’s bitching and complaining about it.

I have less then 3 months left in this apartment. I’m contemplating considering moving out, I don’t know where. Maybe a hotel or something if they’d cut me a deal. I really can’t have any more of these knocking incidents as they keep me up longer then I want to and cause me great stress, frustration, and anxiety.

As it turned out, I did end up skipping my first three classes today. Mostly due to lack of sleep, also due to the fact that I am sick. I also email my circuits professor and he’s agreeable to let me take the makeup circuits exam next week. That will help with the stress and anxiety of today and tomorrow.