A few hours after leaving Olin, my laptop crashed. It claims it's missing some vital Windows file or other, and I apparently need the WinXP install CD to fix it. Great timing, right? This is really an indicator that I should use Ubuntu more. But that precludes important things like Solidworks and Photoshop and Evernote from making me happy, even if there are alternatives like Gimp and the supposedly-happening Linux release of Evernote coming out.
So I won't be rewriting my CompArch labs this break, it seems. Yes, I was planning on doing so, just as an educational exercise; I'm not entirely satisfied with what we ended up with because of the lovely world-falls-apart coincidences that led to all our code being rushed and partly broken. And I won't be solidworksing that little project of mine. And I won't be able to give long-distance Simulink help to ECS-ers because I neglected to install Matlab on my Linux partition, though I might still be able to help with explanations and not-too-involved Matlab debugging.
On the other hand, that's not what Thanksgiving break was made for. I've got a brother to catch up with, first of all. Jason's turning 17 tomorrow, and I haven't really been at home for his birthdays since he was 12. In the meantime, he's grown about a foot, his voice has dropped a fifth, and when I walked into the bathroom we both shared as little kids, I blinked because there was a razor and a can of shaving cream standing next to his toothbrush. I'm not sure when my little brother started turning into a young man. It's strange to think that by this point in my life, I'd already sent in my "Yes, I'm Coming To Olin" letter and was getting ready to go to college. That wasn't all that long ago.
Jason's lucky, though. He's got more time. He's an early birthday and he also decided not to skip a grade, which - in retrospect - was probably a wiser choice than the one I made. He knows better what he's doing, he has more time to prepare himself in high school, more time to spend with our parents, more time to think, to grow up, and just more time in general. In the end, he's going to go to college ahead of where I started maturity-wise, and that's good. (No, he doesn't know which college yet; he likes architecture, design, and engineering, and has a strong entrepreneurial/marketing bent. And yes, he's heard of a place called Olin College.)
I also need to get him a present. I was going to give him a nice knife, but he said they're not allowed to carry them in school, where he spends many of his waking hours - and our parents aren't entirely enthralled with the idea of us with Sharp Blades, so nix on that.
Then there are my parents, who haven't gotten to see me grow up since I turned 14 and happily left home for school. I have a much higher appreciation for how hard that must have been now (and how hard it still is). I'm pretty sure it's nowhere near the full appreciation I'll get when (if) I have children of my own growing up someday, but geez.
Talked to my mom about my growing attraction to design and teaching (at the cost of neglecting the stuff I'm "supposed" to be studying). She gave me the "finally, you realize your parents are smart" look and reminded me that about five years ago, both she and my father told me I'd probably end up working for a company like IDEO. Concentrate on your studies now and get a good foundation in electrical engineering, and then you'll be able to bring more to the table when you go into design, she advised. I know it's the best thing for me to do, and I still do love all the ECE stuff - heck, I'm stil fascinated by everything - so as long as I make sure I do a little bit of design and teaching every semester to make me happy and to let me apply all the rest of the the things I do to that, I'll be happy and edjoomacated!
Speaking of which, schedule.
- 6 Books That Changed The World (1st half) and Science Fiction and Historical Context (2nd half)
- 6 Theorems That Changed The World (I hovered between this and Circuits, which arguably is more applicable to my major and would be a fantastic educational experience, not to mention that Brad is teaching it - but I need a semester of things that will make me deliriously happy, and I haven't had abstract math in so long.)
- Anthropology of Southeast Asia (My first class at Wellesley!)
- Robotics (My only Engineering class next semester. This is a drastic change from my past three semesters of only engineering/required lab/applied math classes. Lord, how I welcome this.)
- And.... that's all. 14 credits of mostly AHS courses. You don't know how weird this feels.
- Incidentally, all these classes are on Tuesdays, Fridays, or Wednesday early morning. Wow.
Not Classes (tentative)
- Working in Ozgur's brand-spankin'-so-new-it-ain't-been-built-yet design lab with Eric M and some-other-student-yet-to-be-determined. My design fix for the semester! I might finally have a lab in the AC that I'll practically be living in, the same way Beth's starting to take up residence in the Matsci lab or Jon spends his waking hours in the Robotics one.
- If things work out, I'll be doing a sort of teaching apprenticeship (math, science, instructional technology) at a very cool little K-8 school in Cambridge, one whole day a week. My teaching fix for the semester!
- If things work out, an independent study on the dynamics of design teams, alternating between weeks of reading/discussion and case studies/interviews (trying to actually go out and interview designers and businesspeople).
- If things work out, auditing Politics of the World Economy on Wednesday afternoons, just for fun. I thrive on reading-dependent classes. To give you an idea why, I read the entire Lord Of The Rings trilogy for the first time at a nice relaxed pace between breakfast and bedtime of the same day, and can still quote passages, family lineages, and draw out specific plot points from it years later.
- And continuing to volunteer for Bikes Not Bombs.
- I am not overloading this semester, though. There will be free time. There will be side projects. There will be as little sleep debt as possible, and what debt I do undertake will be happy, voluntary "I'm so absorbed I just can't stop working on this!" sleep debt. This semester is my semester.
Slowly I'm starting to move towards what I really want to do with my life. I'm not sure what that is, but I think this is in the right direction.