Sunday, October 31, 2004

No Free Lunch

I am still working on homework. I feel like it has been a marathon homework weekend. It would wonderful to be able to report that I have finished it all. However, that just isn’t the way it is. I don’t plan on going to bed until ten or ten thirty tonight, and with this whole daylight savings time, I feel like that will be an achievement. We will see what I can accomplish homework wise before then.

If I do not manage to get all of my homework done tonight, there is always tomorrow. It isn’t that I haven’t been working on it; it is just that there is so much of it. The programming assignment won’t be due until Tuesday morning, and if the math assignment is done by Wednesday, I should be ok.

As my computer science professor noted to my class on Thursday, there is no free lunch. Someone must always pay the price, the details must be covered, and the work must get done. I think that is one of the lessons for the weekend. The devil is in the details.

Enough of a break for me, back to the books! When I report to the world again, I should at least be more on top of things than I am right now.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Proof: Stress is Bad for You

As a student, I find this article particularly interesting. I guess it is just more reason to try and de-stress life.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

At a Blurry Pace


Night Driving
Originally uploaded by CodeFin.
I spent the evening last night studying for my Discrete Math quiz that I had the joy to experience this afternoon. All I can say about that class is that I am glad that I studied as much as I did, and that I should have studied more. The material is beginning to feel more comfortable, but I still have a way to go. The problems feel a lot like mind puzzles, the kind that some people like to solve for fun. I am trying to develop a taste for them, and the more time I spend with it, the more sense it begins to make. So, maybe by the end of the semester I will finally understand all that I am supposed to.

I took this picture a few days ago. I caught it on my way home from school after a night time study session. I like the lines and the colors. Sometimes, life feels like it is zooming past that quickly, everything is a blur. You could say some interesting things about juxtaposing that photo taken on Monday, with the photos that I had taken just 24 hours earlier.

Thank goodness we can usher in the weekend tomorrow. There will still be a lot to do, but I am coming to understand that having a lot to do is pretty much a constant in the life of a student. The score is kept on how well each student can keep all of the balls in the air at the same time, and do well. Surviving and thriving, that is the goal.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

isPalindrome() as a recursive function

I had my first encounter with recursion in programming was in the spring when I was taking Computer Science 2010. We were programming in a language called Scheme, which as I look back on it now was a great experience. At our meager level, linked-lists were the name of the game, and recursion was the way to get through them. We never got access to the notion of the “for” loop, at least not in that language. We spent time developing functions that would count, sort, and find/replace. At first it was hard for some of us to understand why we were approaching programming that way, but when we started working in Java, we certainly appreciated the beauty of the “while” and “for” loop.

Since all of that work in Scheme, we haven’t spent much time with recursion. Now and again, the professor will make mention of it, and remind us that perhaps it would be a way to approach a given programming problem. We spent some time with recursion in talking about algorithm analysis, but really we haven’t had to program with it much. Once one gets the hang of it, thinking recursively can actually be fun. It does however; depend on the programmer understanding the basics of recursion.

In our last class assignment, one of the questions was to write a recursive function called isPalindrome(). The function needed to be able to accept a string, and determine whether or not it was a palindrome or not. Now, for those of you that don’t know, a palindrome is to quote Webster: A word, phrase, verse, or sentence that reads the same backward or forward. With the formal definition out of the way, an example of a palindrome would be “RACECAR”, another would be “Madam I’m Adam.” The function needs to be able to ignore punctuation, and compare character by character to make sure that they are the same.

In a recursive programming one of the most important steps is to be sure that you know what the base case is. If you don’t know the base case, then your function may run on forever and ever. The base case is something that you give the function so that it knows when to stop.

Depending on how you approach the problem you may be able to find different base cases. For example, the way I created this function, my base case was when the string had been reduced to one, or zero characters. If you were given i and j as integers, representing valid indices for the input string, you could test for i <= j as your stopping point. At any rate, you need some way to be able to stop the function, and the base case is the way to it in recursion.

It was a pretty fun assignment; I enjoyed talking with my classmates about the different ways that they approached it. This page shows two different ways to code isPalindrome() recursively in Java.

Cheers for recursion, and the joy of playing with letters and words!




Monday, October 25, 2004

Perception

One of my favorite poems is The Road not Taken by Robert Frost. In high school we sang a song that had been set to the words, as a result, the words have been indelibly written in my heart and mind. I find it interesting to think that whenever there are different paths to take, I tend to think on the words of the poem. Mr. Frost asserts that by taking the road less traveled, it makes all the difference in the journey. This would be true from spiritual, and secular standpoints. That which separates mundane life from the ideal is often an adjustment in perception. Those who are traveling the less trodden road exercise careful judgment in how they see the world. Is the glass half full, or is it half empty? Is the day partly cloudy or is it partly sunny? Two people may see exactly the same situation, and yet, have two diametrically opposite interpretations. This difference is what makes the world a wonderful place. It may not be our position to tell someone which road is less traveled, but personally, it is very important that we choose the less traveled road that our conscience dictates to us. May we all find our personal less traveled roads in order that we may see, feel, and understand that it makes all the difference.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Coach: on infinity

Well, if there was any doubt, we made it to Friday. Welcome to the weekend. Many aspects of the week however, are going to bleed into my weekend. Sometimes I feel like Sisyphus, eternally pushing that boulder up the hill, only to have it roll back down the next day and to get to push the boulder up the mountain again. It reminds me of another story.

In high school, I had the distinct opportunity of taking my college algebra/trig class from a teacher who also just happened to be the head basketball coach. To this day, I still wonder why they allowed the coach to teach math. The stories about math with “the coach” are nearly endless. One lecture came to mind. There comes a time in every aspiring mathematician’s career when one must learn and internalize the concept of infinity. Maybe the reason it took me until college to get a grasp on math has something to do with this lecture.

“Ok class, do you know what infinity is?” The class stared blankly back at the coach, as he preferred to be called. “Well, it is like this… Picture a block of granite the size of the universe, and imagine a little immortal pecking bird pecking at one corner of the giant block.” The coach holds his hand up, and with his index finger moves it saying “tink… tink… tink… all the bird does all day long is tink… tink… tink…” At this point the class doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry, but the story continues. “Suppose that after an entire millennia, the bird has chipped out an area the size of this room, EVEN IF the bird were to be able to chip out the entire universe worth of granite, INFINITY would be LARGER than THAT.” Coach yelled.

Yes, I had a high school math professor that REALLY taught that way. I promise I am not lying.

Anyway, that is the story of Sisyphus and infinity. Hopefully I can break out of the loop sometime soon. The semester was half over this week. It is pretty impressive to think that I have made it this far. Things are good, but it has been a lot of work.

Ideas for future entries:

Well formatted code.
A party thrown by my teenage sister with a whole bunch of pubescent children.
Ten ways to know that a Discrete Math lecture isn’t going well.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Many Solutions

So last week I wrote a blog entry that mentioned an assignment that we had been asked to write in our CS class. I was so pleased by my answer, I was even proud of it. So proud of it, that I posted it here on the web so that you could see it in its glory. Well, as with all assignments in that class, the professor also writes code for the assignment and posts it for us to look at it after we have finished our solutions. All I can say is that comparing his solution to mine was a humbling experience. His approach to the exact same problem was SO MUCH MORE ELEGANT than mine. I guess that is why he is the Phd. I hope someday that elegant, efficient, and beautiful code will fall out of my fingertips like that. Needless to say, I needed to spend some time re-arranging my class files so that I could make this week's assignment work the way that it "should". Maybe later I will post it.

The interesting stuff today was found in collecting metrics on the contains() function in the java collections framework. In class we have discussed the theory behind ArrayList, LinkedList, TreeSet, and HashSet, but we didn't ever do any hard comparisons until today. Processing an input file with 100,000 records, and calling the contains() method 50,000 times you really begin to see some dramatic results. It was some fun computer science. There are still two problems that I need to attack on this weeks programming assignment. One dealing with recursion and palindromes, another with algorithm complexity. Learning is fun, but it takes time.

Preparation for my ODE test next week still continues, and I didn't work on Discrete Math today, but I must face it in the morning tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Homework Evening

I spent the evening working on ODE's and Discrete Math.

When I got home, I found out that the prof decided that he needed to speed up for the upcoming exam. Instead of having one assignment due tomorrow, there will be two. I guess that means that tomorrow, I get to do the assignment that I didn't do tonight, that was originally due on Friday. Thank goodness there is no penalty if the assignment comes in within 24 hours of the duedate. I get the feeling I will have many more nights like tonight in the near future. The downside is that I have no life. The upside is that I will get good grades. I just have to focus on the positive aspect of studying. When I study, I know the material, it gives me confidence and good grades. (yes I know I am repeating myself)

Today in the discussion section following my Discrete Math class, the discussion leader said: "Genuine happiness is figuring out how to solve the fun problems." followed by, "I make sure that your homework is at the fun level, still challenging, but fun, certainly not impossible."

There you have it. Discrete math is genuine happiness, and my homework isn't impossible.

Now just to convince myself that it is true.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Content Bots

Feeling rejuvenated after having a great weekend, Monday didn’t feel so horrible. I still have a pile of homework to do in order to be prepared for class tomorrow, but it still feels like something that I can do, at least today.

A friend told me that the video that I posted yesterday wasn’t working too well for him. Just for the sake of playing around I rendered it in a few more flavors:
100K 250K 500K.
I don’t think that it looks too good in the 100-250K flavors, but I did fix the volume issue, and for those of us with smaller pipes, it seems to work better.

Much of the work day today was spent answering support calls and finishing up a design document that would further integrate program level security into our application area. I wish that security, and convenient could go together in the same sentence, but it seems that technology isn’t quite yet to the point of allowing that to be a reality. I should probably do some research on security design. One of the current industry buzz words is LDAP, but so far our corporation hasn’t pushed it out to the platform that I do most of my work on. I think that if we were really considering this project from the long term point of view we would more seriously look at how LDAP roles could determine what we could and could not do in my application area. Maybe in a year or so, that will be the next big work project.

There is a really interesting blog entry by a man who works for google about web content. It touches on how consumerism is changing because of the internet, which I found to be somewhat interesting. However, the reason I am bringing it up is because in his last paragraph or so he was talking about content finders, a “smart” internet. This concept really fascinated me. The idea of programming a computer to know when some content is “really good” would be quite the challenge. I think that the advent of advanced search engines, like google are beginning to approach this, but perhaps the author believes that we can do even better.

Maybe the solution is just having smarter people publish more meaningful things?

No. That would be far too discriminatory.

Is not the beauty of the web that everyone has publishing power?

Sunday, October 17, 2004

A Movie?

So... I have been playing around a tiny bit with Sony's video suite. It is pretty powerful. What I have done doesn't give it justice. It was just a throw together to see what was possible. Anyway, if I make two blog entries in one day, does it make up for the days I miss?



(Getting to work it appears that you won't see a movie if you don't have QUICKTIME installed.)

Hopefully it works. I love the John Williams theme, Cadillac of the Slies. Someday I will spend the time to put pictures and video clips to the whole song. This just proves the concept.

So many fun things to do, so little time!

Fire Sky


Fire Sky
Originally uploaded by CodeFin.
I took this picture on my way to the Opera. More on that a bit later, however, the sky was just dramatic and beautiful. The beauty of having a digital point and shoot is that it can go with me wherever I go. What a skyline.

It seems that this weekend I managed to catch up on the sleep debt quite a bit. I also found time to relax at the opera, and to do some visiting. A good conversation with people whom you love and respect can go a long way toward making a great weekend. I am still procrastinating the seven ODE problems that I need to do.

Of the Opera, I can tell you first hand that Aida is one of the most beautiful operatic works that I have experienced to date. What a tragically beautiful story. The music is captivating, and inspiring. As I sat listening to some of the arias, a tear came to my eye. Such virtuosity coupled with a tender storyline is hard to resist. One of the many things I love about grand opera is that they just don't skimp on anything. Sets are big, massive, and complete, the lighting is compelling, and everything is done just right so as to match the power of the singing.

I said that I needed a weekend to recharge the batteries. This weekend was just right. I feel like I have the strength to get back on the horse and make things happen. While at the opera Piper Jaffray had an advertisement in the program. I thought it was quite inspiring. Though I am not in a place to invest, the message was right on.

"The dream, the practice, the lessons, the practice, the sacrifice, the practice, the inspiration, the practice, the direction, the practice ... the concert. Successful journeys don't just happen. They require expert guidance, often they require years of both..."

I think that could apply to just about every section of anyones life.

Here's to the journey!

oh... and congrats to the Utes for winning another great game!

The Journey

I took this picture on my way to the Opera. More on that a bit later, however, the sky was just dramatic and beautiful. The beauty of having a digital point and shoot is that it can go with me wherever I go. What a skyline.

It seems that this weekend I managed to catch up on the sleep debt quite a bit. I also found time to relax at the opera, and to do some visiting. A good conversation with people whom you love and respect can go a long way toward making a great weekend. I am still procrastinating the seven ODE problems that I need to do.

Of the Opera, I can tell you first hand that Aida is one of the most beautiful operatic works that I have experienced to date. What a tragically beautiful story. The music is captivating, and inspiring. As I sat listening to some of the arias, a tear came to my eye. Such virtuosity coupled with a tender storyline is hard to resist. One of the many things I love about grand opera is that they just don’t skimp on anything. Sets are big, massive, and complete, the lighting is compelling, and everything is done just right so as to match the power of the singing.

I said that I needed a weekend to recharge the batteries. This weekend was just right. I feel like I have the strength to get back on the horse and make things happen. While at the opera Piper Jaffray had an advertisement in the program. I thought it was quite inspiring. Though I am not in a place to invest, the message was right on.

“The dream, the practice, the lessons, the practice, the sacrifice, the practice, the inspiration, the practice, the direction, the practice… the concert. Successful journeys don’t just happen. They require expert guidance, often they require years of both…”

I think that could apply to just about every section of anyone’s life.

Here’s to the journey!

oh... and congrats to the Utes for winning another great game!

Friday, October 15, 2004

Important Stuff and Other Stuff

Sometimes, it is all one can do just to keep up with the day. Tuesday through today would fit that description quite well. A week full of projects, assignments, meetings, tests and yes, even a little bit of burn out. When running the race of life, it becomes necessary to find ways to keep the batteries charged. I am hoping that this I can do a little bit of that this weekend. If I manage to catch up on my schoolwork, I am sure that I will have a better outlook on things. But as it stands this very moment, I need to have some critical one on one time with the schoolbooks. Sometimes, when a class gets particularly hard I have the tendency to work on other stuff, rather than working on gaining a greater understanding of important stuff. This weekend, I hope to be able to do some of the important stuff. It may even prove somewhat relaxing as some of what I need to do is just reading. It will just be a matter of setting aside the time to do it.

My father has been a large believer in this thing called sleep debt. I however have remained critical of this theory until recently. The fact that I could fall asleep nearly on demand, provided that excessive amounts of caffeine are not coursing through my veins had led me to believe that I need to be better about sleeping. If I intend on getting up each day by 6:16 am then I really need to be in bed by 10:15. For some reason, eight hours seems to be what I need. Any less and functioning is just too difficult. Getting any more is also quite the challenge, as the time just doesn’t seem to be available. Sleep is such a perpetuating problem. Like today for example, I am just dead tired as I sit here writing, but I am afraid to take a nap as if I did, I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep at 10:15. The other thing I have learned, is that drinking a redbull at noon, in order to be awake for afternoon classes isn’t the brightest thing to do either, as it makes it so that I am not tired at normal bedtime.

How do my fellow classmates do it? I really don’t know. All I do know is that I need to sleep more, and that I need to be more diligent about studying the important stuff.
So the weekend is upon us. There is a list of things that must be done, and a list of things that I would like to do. Let’s hope that I can find balance, sleep, and success in the to-do.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Manic Monday

Yes, I am aware that last Saturday I promised you a discussion on discrete mathematics and java programming. Sunday came and went, and I didn’t accomplish nearly what I set out to. However, it was still what I would consider to be a worthwhile day. I finally sat down to start working on the Java stuff around 10:00 PM. I can honestly tell you that one of the reasons that I know computer science is right for me is that I don’t mind spending hours and hours on the assignments. As I said, I started at around 10, and didn’t put it down until just before three AM. The interesting thing is that it didn’t really feel like time was going by. I was just working on the problem and trying to resolve each issue as it came up. The assignment( for those interested in what the class was asked to write) was a good one, dealing with Java IO, and ArrayLists. We are just starting on the Java collections framework, and so far I am very pleased with what it has to offer. I didn’t finish the whole thing until a few minutes ago, but had most of the hard stuff done before my head hit the pillow last night. There is an air of excitement when you compile and run a program that you spent hours working on. It really gives me a feeling of accomplishment. Computers are indeed grand inventions.

I still need to face discrete structures; that computer math class is one of the hardest classes I have had to take in my entire college career. When I finish this blog entry, I will probably take a short break and then sit down to face it squarely. I am guessing that the problems on the “suggested” but really required problem list will probably take me most of the night to complete. Such is the way school goes. No pain, no glory.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Symphony

There are few things that are better than Friday night at the symphony. One of them is Friday night at the symphony when you didn’t have to buy the tickets. Yes, it put off my homework doing by another twenty four hours, but it was really good. Being able to feed the soul two days in a row is something rather remarkable in my life. Coming off the high of working with the Special Olympics, and then having my employer comp me two primo seats to the symphony really makes for a nice fall break.

There is something wonderful about live music. Especially live classical music. It is awe inspiring to sit in your chair and let the music wash over you. I soak in every note, every phrase, if we had wings to fly you could say that the music would be the wind to carry you, soaring with the crescendos, and gliding down with the decrescendos. The symphony is always a special treat, and I feel especially rejuvenated after attending a concert.

Tonight I had the opportunity to hear a world premiere of a timpani concerto. Have you ever heard a timpani concerto? There aren’t very many out there. I had heard about them once on the radio, and always wanted to see it live. It was truly an awesome experience. It was like all of the best parts of your favorite classical pieces all strung into one show with the timpanist as the star.

Good times. Tomorrow, I promise I will have tales of Discrete Math, and Java Programming. I am a bit over-due.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

share the feeling



What an amazing day I had today. There is something about working on a big community project, and donating time that really feeds the soul. I got to campus this morning at seven fifteen this morning, set up my table and got to work. I made more badges, passed out packets, served as a general question answerer, and just had a great time. I spent more time in the sun today than I think I have in the last six months. It was really quite refreshing.

The vignette for the day:
Twenty minutes before dinner was to be served, I was in the food pavilion helping with crowd control and generally answering questions. This young athlete runs up to me and gives me a high five. She can hardly contain her excitement, grinning from ear to ear she says to me, a complete stranger: “I jumped in the pool, and look at what they gave me when I got out”. She showed me her ribbon. I smiled and acknowledged her great work, and then she switched topics to dinner, and opening ceremonies. As I reflect back on the moment now, I am humbled by the Love, Innocence, and Genuine manner with which these special athletes approach the games, their lives, and their relationships with those around them. Perhaps the rest of us have a few lessons to learn.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Fall Break

They call it fall break, but it should really be called fall catch up. You see, I don’t think that I have ever had a fall break where I didn’t have a large list of things that needed to be done for school. This fall break is no different than the others. One nice thing about fall break is that I don’t have to worry about classes for the next two days. On the other hand, it just means that there is no excuse for not being completely on top of my classes when I go back to school on Monday.

I have almost simplified all of the extra “stuff” out of my life. I stopped singing in a choir, volunteering to be the webmaster of two different websites, finished up several projects that had been hanging out on the peripheral for several months. Today, I finished making badges for the Special Olympics, and tomorrow I will have the privilege of passing them out. This will be the second year that I have volunteered for the Special Olympics. Generally it is a fun and rewarding experience. First of all, it isn’t school. Second, it gets me a day off of work. Third, it is fun to be able to hang out with a bunch of college students and work on something as a team. It will be a fun weekend, and hopefully I will be able to take a lot of pictures, and relax a little bit. When I am finished with this weekend, I think I will be finished with all of my major non-school/work/church commitments.

Aside from the Special Olympics, I also have a pile of school work to do. There is a programming assignment, a math assignment, and an assignment in discrete structures. The only way to get through it all is to budget the time and do it. Sometimes, I feel that I spread myself too thin, and feel that I am not able to meet all of the demands that I have brought upon myself. It is times like those that I feel I shouldn’t be volunteering.

I will spend some time tonight with discrete structures. It will be easier to have fun tomorrow knowing that it is done. My sister asked me today if I ever have time for me. I guess the answer is that yes, I do, but perhaps I don’t spend it as wisely as I should.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Stuck

Maybe it has something to do with watching too many Alias episodes, or perhaps it is because after 9/11 as a nation we think differently. For whatever reason, being stuck between the fifteenth and sixteenth floors of my office building was a rather nerve-wracking experience.

Everything seemed to be fine. At the mall level I pushed 16, as that is where I needed to go. I was assigned to car B, and noticed that there were two other people on the elevator with me, one stopping at twelve, and one stopping at 14. We all entered the car, the door whirred shut and the normal elevator ride began. Just like all other days, we watch the big red number change after you hear the car click by the floor. X is what it reads up to floor seven. Then eight, nine, ten, eleven, as it comes to twelve the car slows and the door opens. One of the gentlemen walks out and I press the “door close” button, as it seems to speed the journey. Thirteen, Fourteen, and the other gentleman exits the car. Then the fun begins. The car starts to move, you hear the click of past 15, and then it stops. No noises, no floor 16, the elevator car is just hanging there in limbo between fifteen and sixteen.

I try to tell myself that it made it to sixteen and that it just hadn’t opened yet, but alas, this was not the truth. After pressing “open door” and “close door” to no avail, I decide that indeed I am stuck. This very scenario had always been one of my anxieties of working where I work. The thought of being trapped in the elevator was never a pleasant one. I have worked too many falling elevator problems in physics. It is just common knowledge that if the car were to fall, I wouldn’t likely survive. My mind naturally is drawn to follow many different scenarios out to their completion, and the falling elevator seemed to be the most plausible. Yes, I know that it probably wasn’t, but I was getting panicked.

Upon deciding that I am stuck, I decide that perhaps I should press the “Call” button. I pressed it, a speakerphone was heard dialing a number, and the elevator started speaking.

“Beneficial Life High-rise, Car B, floor 15.” The sentence was repeated four times and then a real voice comes on.

Voice: Beneficial Life Tower, can I help you?

Me: Yes you sure can. I am in elevator car B, and stuck between floors 15 and 16. Can you get me out please?

Voice: Umm… I will get a look at it in a few minutes.

Click.

So, I am there hanging out in the elevator waiting for someone to come and make the elevator car let me out. Still feeling nervous, I decide to call my home and tell them of my plight. My Dad tells me that if I enjoyed being stuck in an elevator that it would be a bad thing, and that maybe I should sit down and write. And write I did.
Some minutes later, the elevator starts making sounds again, and moves up and down a bit. The display queue filled up with repeated red 999’s. I stared to hear clicking from the elevator shaft, and eventually the floor display came back online. It filled my heart with hope that yes indeed; I was going to survive my stuck in the elevator experience.

Finally, the car started to move again, and the numbers counted down to 1. The door didn’t open right off, or on the first pressing of the “open door” button, but eventually I the doors opened and I walked out of the possessed car B. I was stuck in the elevator for a grand total of 20 minutes. It felt like an eternity in purgatory, one that I am not anxious to experience again.

Perhaps in the future I will avoid car B.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

In which I conscript my family to do community service.



It really seemed like a simple task, and form the picture you would not think that it was a very large job. However, I assure you that we, well mostly my Mother and Father helped me put nearly one thousand of those badges together. When I signed up for the task, I had no idea it would be so time consuming. Each badge had to be trimmed, laminated, hole-punched, pinned, and sorted into teams. It was a large undertaking to say the least. I am glad that my family was willing to help out. There is no way that I could have ever finished it in a timely matter alone. The Utah Special Olympics is really a great thing. It is really an awesome organization to volunteer for. Their Fall Sports Classic is taking place this weekend. I will have more pictures to say and experiences to share then.

In addition to making 1000 badges with my family, I also had a pretty interesting numerical analysis assignment to complete in ODE’s. It is a good thing that this week will be Fall break at school. I am in need of some time to catch up on my sleep.

Friday, October 01, 2004

The Office

On the bottom floor of the oldest math building on campus there are offices. Offices for teacher's aides, and offices for professors. The building is tired and well used, it is clear that the janitorial staff tries its hardest to keep it clean, but one can tell that many a student and teacher have walked its halls. Every possible nook has been filled with something; chalkboards in the corners would provide places where if one needed he could quickly jot down the solution to a problem that had been percolating in the head for hours. The entire building is floored with linoleum tile, the lighting is fluorescent, and at the end of a maze-like hall you find yourself at the door. Two students are in the corner, a dead end with the aforementioned chalkboard. One stands scribbling, the other sits taking notes. You nod your head to the students and begin to read the tiny blue post-it note on the door.

It reads: Please Homeworks: 7:30, 9:45, 10:50 - under the door.

After reading the scribbled note you knock on the door. Seconds later the door opens, and you are invited into the office. The wall on your right is floor to ceiling book shelves filled to overflowing with books. On your left are two computers on a desk, and a window with the blinds put down. Straight ahead is another desk, and every bit of wall that isn't window or bookshelf is blackboard. The office smells of strong, black coffee. The coffee maker is bubbling away; there is a half eaten cookie on the desk, and piles of papers that never seem to end. It is no wonder that in today's age, professors need graders; otherwise they would never get through it all. There is a chair against the bookshelf and you are asked to sit down. You can tell that you have removed the professor form some distant land of calculation, he is soft spoken, but alright with your presence, as it is office hours.

The office had a feeling to it. Not that you could explain, but it left an impression. It wasn't neat and orderly after the style that the professor taught you to hand in your work, but there must be some method to his apparent disorganized. Asking your questions, he carefully goes through the piles on his desk until he finds what you were looking for. The pleasantries of social etiquette between a student and a professor take place, he wishes you a good weekend, and with a smile you are on your way.

Walking back through the maze, looking at the old floor and walls, you wonder about your encounter. Not that there was anything special about an office visit, just that the feeling of the office was so interesting. The professor is a genius, yet he appears to lock himself up in a solitary cell, not even letting the beautiful and natural outside light into the dark paper-filled office. Curious isn't it? The week before after class, you wished him a good weekend, and he didn't know how to act, it was as if he had never been wished a good weekend before. Today he wished you a good weekend. There must be a person with feelings buried beneath the mounds of mathematical formulae. Perhaps there is more to college than just you being a student and a professor being a professor. Both are people with feelings. In the past, you may have had the expectation that a professor treats you as a person, yet you hadn't taken the time to treat them the same way. An interesting thought. Perhaps, the great mistake is that students don't go to the offices so that professors and students can know each other as people with names, concerns, and feelings.

As I left the old math building, I wondered why in the past I had always been so afraid of the offices, when in reality, the offices seem to bridge the gap between the cold realities of study, and the deeply personal topic of learning.