Friday, September 16, 2005

Coming Up For Air

It is trite, but thank goodness it is Friday. The mere fact that the day is here, and that I am sitting in the math center is a good thing. It means that somehow have almost made it through this week. It doesn’t mean that I am on top of everything, but it does mean that some of the most urgent fires have been put out, and that I can take a quick moment to breathe. I have one more class today, I have to go to work this afternoon and I have to meet with my math tutor this evening. Those are the items currently on the top of the stack.

The thing that makes school complex is that things tend to run in cycles much like the life of Sisyphus, spending time pushing stones up to the top of the hill, only to have to do it again the next day. The only difference between a student and Sisyphus is that the journey of learning makes the student stronger, and though for 16 weeks the tasks are essentially endless, there is usually some benefit to the exercise. Knowing that there is benefit to the exercise should probably make it easier, but that isn’t always true either.

Last night I finally turned in the ‘bits’ lab, after struggling with it for who knows how many hours (I should have kept track), and getting some encouragement from good friends who wouldn’t let me quit, it was relief to hand the thing in completely finished. I got to the bottom of something that I didn’t think I could do, so we’ll call the event of handing the completed assignment in a success. The only down side, is that the next assignment in that class was handed out on Wednesday, so the clock is already ticking.

I am learning a lot along the way. Two weeks ago, I couldn’t have read hexadecimal or binary numbers as quickly as I can today. I also didn’t have as great an appreciation for bit-wise logical operations, or those genius people who implement hardware. I hope that I never take my “high-level” functions for granted again. Have you ever considered the work that has to happen in a processor to make this blog entry happen? If that seems to much to consider, thing about the concept of ‘>’,‘<’, and ‘= =’. Yes, something as simple as a less than operator gets to be quite tricky on the bit level, and that is just comparing numbers. What about the idea that you can compare objects. It really is quite amazing, and I am again humbled by the miracle that is the modern computer. It took lots of great minds to pull the thing off. Again, the concept of ‘no free lunch’ as described in my first CS class comes full circle. Every case must be accounted for at the binary level.

There is a lot to do this weekend. I have homework in every class; I have some ecclesiastical and family duties to tend to as well. And just to top it all off, on top of everything already mentioned, I do have a job, though I am sure they are wondering where I am, even I am beginning to wonder where I am going to make the lost ten hours went this week. Next week doesn’t look to friendly on that front either. Yesterday a co-worker suggested that I needed to figure out how to be more efficient with the time that I have. I agree, but am not sure how to go about it. It seems I am going to have to learn to enjoy small hours like this one where I have written a blog entry. There simply isn’t time to waste. If I could pound down that homework in one of my classes before I go to sleep tonight, we can call the day a success.

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