Colin Cowherd Blew My Mind

August 27, 2009

And it wasn’t even for saying something so totally mind-blowing-ly stupid either, which was really surprising. The moment came a few days ago as I was driving from the post office to the gas station and hit some major static on my iTrip. I don’t often listen to the radio anymore these days, especially in Houston. Everything is repetitive and censored to death.

When I do listen to the radio, I often find myself hooked into ESPN’s fairly new station for the Houston area, 97.5 The Ticket. While most of the morning shows are pretty weak as far as content, occasionally Mike & Mike in the morning or Tirico & VanPelt (now just VanPelt) would at least humor me. When I turned on the radio this time, it was Cowherd, my least favorite sports radio guy, okay, maybe second least favorite behind Carl Dukes.

Cowherd is the shock jock type of sports radio personalities. He continually comes up with the weirdest ideas (some of which he steals right from blogs) and is a constant center of hate. He hates everything. It’s his shtick. He gets people riled up over placing blame or calling players worthless. It’s normally sickening.

This time was a little bit different. During one of his regular, non-sport tangents where he talks about life in a rambling and nearly incoherent manner, he said something along these lines (not paraphrase):

The nature of society is that the intelligent become more intelligent while the dumb become more ignorant. Smart people read smart things like the news and the Economist, while the ignorant watch television that is tailored to the lowest denominator. It helps create and steepen the divide between the intellectuals and the non.

This might have been the most intelligent thing Cowherd has ever said, not that it would be too difficult to top.

I think that description perfectly describes my school as well. Being at a community college, I see the two groups put together all of the time. Many of the soon to be ignorant show up in my classes all the time. Each semester there is "that douche" who comes in and acts all big. The kid acts like he’s top of the heap, but all he’s really doing is stalling before he enters the work force at a menial job.

The other example was my English class last semester when I was lectured on how Christian God must exist because "the world is beautiful." Or the girl who spent 20 minutes arguing with me that global warming doesn’t exist. Hell, half the people here in Texas have some sort of screwed up world view, but that’s because when you go out to a restaurant, all they show during the day before sports is FoxNews.

On the other end, there are quite a few at the community college that I relate to as they are there to increase their knowledge. They want to be educated. I had a conversation with a kid just a few days ago on the merits of RSS feeds as a condensed internet content filter. It was pretty interesting.

To bring it back to the point, the thought Cowherd throws out is definitely an interesting one from the standpoint of philosophy and sociology. I guess even sometimes a village idiot can say something truly enlightening.

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Catching Up

August 23, 2009

So, slow posting in these parts of late. Such is life, I guess. The last few weeks have been pretty busy with life, while at the same time, lacked the busy. We’ll make this a recap post of the last 3 weeks.

I Need a Job

I’m still unemployed, but much to my own credit than the market. I’ve not made a super push to get a job, instead looking here and there. I’ve made a few trips out to search for job openings, mainly to the hardware and retail stores close to home. None of the ones I visited were hiring. The lack of income is starting to be felt as school payments are being made currently.

School Days School Days Rotten Golden Rule Days

Speaking of school, it starts tomorrow. The last week has gained me ample experience in EBay, half.com, and amazon both as a buyer and a seller. While I haven’t come close to my record of buying a book for $0.07 (plus shipping), I’ve gotten some pretty good deals so far this term. I’ve also made a profit selling some of my books from last year. So far I’ve sold three books for just over a combined $200 when I paid no more than $120.

So while that’s gone well, my one complaint is the shipping costs. These selling sites do a horrible job estimating shipping. I’ve had to pay out of pocket up to an 200% of their estimated shipping cost. As I’ve played with it, the prices have dropped, but I’m still surprised how badly it can turn out.

I Have Many Leather Bound Books

One of the highlights of the last three weeks was revisiting the Barnes & Noble that was going out of business.  For those of you who don’t remember:

I guess it’s also worth noting that before dinner, we stopped at a Barnes & Noble across the street from our restaurant.  We found out the store is closing and about 85% of the merchandise was 40% off.  THIS WAS AWESOME.  I picked up 4 classic literature books for $20.  I could have bought the whole store if I had the money.

Well I went back and got a few more books. I’ve made it through Dante’s The Inferno and most of Aesop’s Fables. The more I read from Aesop, the funnier I find posting on mgoblog’s mgoboard to be. Many of the same logical fallacies of it’s characters show up in every day posting. Perhaps one day I’ll just start posting the parables after dumb comments. Perhaps not.

I’m also looking forward to the collected writings of Thomas Paine and the complete Sherlock Holmes collection. I find it a shame I can’t relate to those who discuss either collection as they are each so important to American politics and literature respectively.

All Your MGoBlogs Are Belong To Us

I’ve made a couple posts at mgoblog over the last few weeks. I’ve got a Women’s Soccer Season Preview, some informative posts, a few baseball updates, and a Field Hockey Season Preview (due out today I think). The transition is going as smoothly as one would expect during football season. I’ve gotten one true hate comment so far. That’s pretty solid, all things considered.

Hopefully posting here should even out over the next week or so. I’m not expecting school to over take too much of my current pattern of writing more on the weekends, but if I do find a job, that could slip as well.


Transitioning Baseball Updates

July 25, 2009

With the transfer to mgoblog in progress, I’m not really sure of the posting etiquette for the next few weeks, if not months.  I’m not sure what is expected and will post things here for the time being.  And since it’s been a few weeks since my last update, this will be a bit long.  Bare with me.  Here’s the last update’s link as of July 4th weekend.  I’m planning on one of these recaps once every two weeks until the season ends, which means one or two more before I can shut it down for the real off season and the football season.

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Options Limited

July 15, 2009

So since I received that email stating I wouldn’t be accepted into UofH, I’ve been doing a bit of soul searching.  While the initial response was all doom and gloom, I think there may be some options for me at the end of the tunnel.

Option A1

The first option I have is to still apply to UH but as an undeclared undergraduate.  From this step, I am faced with another decision: do I beg the Dean of Engineering at UH to accept me despite my grade point deficiencies?  With my recent string of high grades, as well as mass improvements in several classes, I might have a shot at being admitted as a probationary engineering student, but only if the dean is feeling particularly charitable that day.  This strategy really doesn’t carry much risk.  If I get accepted into engineering I win, if I am rejected again, other than a bad taste in my mouth, I’m no further down the ladder than I was.  If anything, at least I’m in a university.

Option A2

If, for some reason, I decide that it’s not worth it to plead to the dean or even if I’m rejected, I’m left with at least two backup majors that interest me.  The first backup major probably makes the most sense, construction technology (CT).  CT is a major that covers most of what I actually want to do with my Civil Engineering major, but it lacks the technical background that would open more doors for advancement and diversify me as an employee.  Civil engineering obviously makes me more versatile, not only as a commercial construction manager, but also as a general contractor who deals with engineers and architects quite often.  CT would teach me the business side, but it lacks several key parts of the actual structure.  That is really the part I’m most interested in, and losing that would be regrettable.

Option A3

My second backup major is a much more drastic change.  Having covered the Michigan baseball team on the blog(s) over the last season, I’ve become slightly interested in sports information.  For those of you not familiar with it, sports information is a department of the athletic departments of universities, or the marketing/media relations of professional teams.  I’ve had several positive experiences with the associate sports information director for baseball this previous season, and I really find his job to be fascinating.  Not only is he working with sports, but he’s also doing it with a flair of journalism.  I’ve found myself entrenched in journalism and media news over the last year.  After sports, journalism discussing journalism is often the next thing I read every day. Probably one of the more important aspects of it are the limited number of semester hours I’d have to put forward towards it.  To get the degree, I’d have to take about the same number of credits as I need for my engineering degree.

So while this sports information (communication) backup major is a possibility that sounds enjoyable, I’m somewhat cautious about jumping at it.  It’s a pretty drastic change from what I’ve been engaged in before, and I’m worried that it might just be a phase I’m going through.  The pros sound good now, but I think it is definitely in the back seat for now.

Option B

My second initial option is something that I’ve begun to mull over more and more of late.  There is a decent chance that Michigan could reinstate me as a student in the College of Engineering (COE).  I’ve taken the initial steps already to find out what this would take, and the returns have been mixed.  While I’ve run into little problem with the Scholastic Standing Committee (SSC) and my previous adviser, I’m not sure how the Civil Engineering Department will receive me.

The way the reinstatement process works is that my advisers, the department I’d be enrolled in, and the SSC all have to agree that I’m ready to attend, and they set up a list of rules and goals that I must achieve during my semester I return.  If I consent to those rules, they will admit me back in under probation.  I’d be limited to 12 hours, couldn’t score below a B-, and required to attend a certain number of hours of advising/mentoring every month.  The good news is one semester of probation would be enough to raise my GPA out of the probationary status.  So things could be good there.

Option B – Problems

One of the problems I see is that all the classes I’ve taken while away from Michigan won’t help my GPA, and many won’t transfer at all.  Of the classes I took the last two semesters, none will count towards my degree at UM.  They will count as electives only.  Of the classes I plan on taking this semester, I doubt any will count either.  I’m hoping that perhaps my taking differential equations might, but that’s only because I made a D in it the first time I took it at UM, therefore earning me credit in the class.  If I take it this semester and get a better grade (one that would count for prerequisites), I’m not sure that it will count.  I’m planning on calling tomorrow to make sure.

Another major con would be the cost.  Michigan isn’t cheap.  The out-of-state tuition rates are $37,389.  That’s just TUITION.  That doesn’t include room and board, books, or other costs of living.  The estimated costs according to the financial aid department is $49,451.  That’s steep.  I’m sure I’d receive a little bit of financial aid, but I’m already behind the curve there.  I need to adjust my FAFSA asap.

Also, when it comes to backups, I’ve got nothing at Michigan.  If I don’t get this Civil Engineering degree, any more time I spend at Michigan is a waste of tens of thousands of dollars.  Not having a backup frightens me pretty badly.

Option B – Am I Ready of It?

After getting past those initial pros and cons, I’ve also have to deal with a lot of “intangibles.”  I’ve got the general thoughts in my head that UM >> UH.  That goes without saying, but along those lines, I have to question on whether I can handle it in Ann Arbor.  I’ve already near failed out.  I’ve tried to rationalize with myself that I’m a different person now.  My time away from campus has seen me grow up quite a bit.  The 07-08 school year working on the road broke me of many 0f my undergraduate habits that were detrimental to my studies.  I’ve spent a year working hard at my academics and even made the Dean’s List in the spring.  I’ve rediscovered what it is to do homework in classes.  I’m just too pessimistic based on my previous results.

The other thought that I’m wrestling around with has to do with quitting.  I quit Michigan.  That doesn’t sit well with me.  I’m not a quitter.  To complicate it, I was failing.  I don’t take failure lightly.  And here’s where things start to get confusing (if they aren’t already).  I’ve begun to second guess myself.  If by wanting to go to Michigan to prove I’m not a quitter/failure, am I just playing to the stubbornness that caused all my troubles the first time I was enrolled?  During my last few semesters on campus, I refused help.  I ignored mandates by the SSC to go to advising, see a mentor, get help.  I wanted to prove to everyone that I could do it.

Is this the mindset that I’m succumbing to in my decision to go back?  I’m not sure.  I feel like this time around it’s about proving to myself I can not only do it, but that I can ask for help.  I’ve read so many articles about engineers entering the workforce unable to work well in groups.  While I don’t worry too much about my social behavior, I think I’ve been one of those loner engineers the last few years.  The question then becomes, have I broken that habit?  I’d like to think I have.  Looking back at some of the work I did during my year off from school, I can recognize me working better with groups.  But will that translate to my studies, that’s hard to tell.  The last year didn’t see much of it.  I did things on my own, but that wasn’t because I wanted to; I did things alone because my peers just weren’t up to my level.  That’s the problem with JUCO’s I guess, the people who attend them aren’t generally future engineers.

So I’m left with scant examples of me working well with others.  I think the few examples that I can look at as solid proof of me accepting collaboration has to be my trips to the writing lab for my English paper.  My professor was more of my peer than the students in my class.  We were able to discuss not just the endless grammar lessons she preached in class to the students who continually failed at it, but we also discussed things such as paper writing philosophies.  How to go at it.  It was interesting and taught me more about my own writing (which yes, if you’re still reading, you know how bad it can still be).  So I find that to be at least a slightly positive sign.  Hell, the fact I was even in a writing lab is far and beyond what I would have done while at UM.

Wrap Up

This post has ended up quite a bit longer than I’ve wanted it to be.  I’ve got a few more weeks to decided what I’m going to do.  The deadline for the winter semester at UM is October 1st, but the deadline for UH is December 1st.  I have an appointment to call the Civil Engineering Department at Michigan on Tuesday, so I’ll know more things then.

Meanwhile, I’m only 2 P.E credits and a public speaking class from getting an associate’s degree in General Studies, which, like, who cares?  My other conundrum of the summer is do I pay $533 to get a degree I’m going to do nothing with?  I mean, $318 for the two PE credits.  WTF.  I could pay that and get a gym membership for a year (maybe?).  I find that to be a ridiculous scam.  So yeah, I probably won’t get the associate’s degree, although it would be nice to at least get a degree with my name on it.  I think I’ll just hold out for a bachelor’s.  Bah.


Unacceptable

July 11, 2009

I got an A in multivariable calculus, but it wasn’t enough to get me in.  I was told my GPA was .06 points below what was accepted this term.  Even after the A I’m going to get in my AutoCAD class, I’ll still be .01 points below the cut off.  It sucks to have worked this hard only to be rejected.  Now I’m being pushed back not only the 6 months I have to wait to get into a university, but also another 3 months as I’ll have to finish in a fall semester after a summer break. This puts my scheduled graduation date around December 2011 at the soonest, with a decent chance at May 2012.  I can’t help but think my whole life is going to end up in failure.  By then I’ll be 26 and just entering the real world.  I’ll be 4 years behind my peers.

What makes it worse, I’m not sure I can even get into the engineering programs until next fall as I try to boost my grades as quickly as possible.  If I can’t, I certainly won’t be graduating until at least May 2012, if not later.  With the way things are going, I’m almost wondering if I shouldn’t just change my major.  If I do that, I may have the chance to graduate a least a semester earlier (assuming I don’t get accepted directly into the engineering school).

Life sucks right now.  I don’t really know what I’m doing.  I’m planning on making a couple appointments this week with academic advisors at the JUCO I’m attending.  I’m not sure how much they’ll be able to help me, but it’s just about the last option I’ve got.

At this point, there are only 4 classes I can take to try and boost my GPA: differential equations, physics 1, chemistry 1, and calculus 2.  I’ve got C/C+’s in each of those and could definitely raise them to B+/A’s.  If I do that, I’ll still be a little low on the calculus math, sceince, English and engineering grades needed to make it into the engineering school.  My grades at Michigan in my engineering courses, as well as my several attempts at calc3/diffequ just drag my grade down horribly.  Add that my grades in Chem Lab 1&2 at michigan can’t be raised by retaking them, I’m left scrambling to find courses that will raise that GPA.

I think next semester I’ll be retaking all 4 of those classes to boost my GPA and a technical writing class.  That will most likely have me taking a combined 18 credits at two different JUCO’s.  I’m also debating the idea of adding another class and bringing my credit hours up to 22.

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While writing this, I took a break to look at what it would take to get my GPA up to the point where I could enroll in UH’s engineering school.  I need an A in 50 credits of classes.  That’s before I can even enroll.  I think it’s time to find a new major.  I’m so lost.


Vector Calculus: Green’s Theorem

July 7, 2009

Now that we’ve covered line integrals, we will begin to look at surface integrals.  The integrals we look at today involve vector fields over a flat area.  In this case, we’ll look only at flat surfaces that are simply closed (meaning there is no overlap of the line encompassing the area).

Green’s Theorem exists because of the property that integrals over a simply closed surface are equal that that of the integral of the line that surrounds them.  This is a pretty handy property because trying to get pretty integrals out of equations like the following don’t look so easy:

c xy dx + x2 dy over the area between lines y=x and y=x2

In that integral, it means the over the curve C.  In that case C would be a line from the origin along y=x2 until x=2, then back along the line y=2x until it hit the origin.  To do that integral, I’m not even sure where you’d start.  Do you start with integrating one part of the equation?  What then do you do with the other?  I don’t even know.  The best answer, though, is to use Green’s Theorem.  Let’s take a look at what area we’re talking about here.

No, it wasn’t me who drew those arrows in with MS Paint (seriously, it came from a UCLA homework page).  As you can see, the green arrow is the line y=x2 and the red line is y=x.  Now for the fun part of the theorem… Green’s Theorem specifically states, that an integral of the form ∫c M(x,y) dx + N(x,y) dy can be simplified to a double integral over the area.  In this case, M and N are functions of variables x and y.  His formula:

c M(x,y) dx + N(x,y) = ∫ ∫D Nx – My dA

In the formula, N is the derivative of the function Nx with respect to x (I’ll let you figure out what My must be then).  This combines the two awkward integrals of the closed line integral into a simple iterated integral with respect to dx and dy.

Let’s look back at our example from earlier, ∫c xy dx + x2 dy.  This would mean that M(x,y)=xy and N(x,y)=x2.  Using Green’s Theorem, we first find Nx = 2x. Next we find My = x.  Placing them into the intergral we get:

∫ ∫D 2x – x dA = ∫ ∫D x dA

This is a very easy iterated integral.  All we have left is to find the limits of integration, which we find by looking back at the graph above.  I’m going to integrate in respect to y first, but you could integrate in terms of x first if you really wanted to.  I’m choosing to integrate with respect to y first just because we already have the y-limits of integration from the two lines creating curve C.

01x2 x x dy dx

Apologies again for not using a formula editor, but the limits are from 0 to 1 for dx and x2 to x for dx.  Working it out, we have the following happen:

01 ( xy |x2 x ) dx =  ∫01 ( x*x)-(x*x2) dx =  ∫01 x2– x3 dx

Then it becomes a simple single integral, eventually yielding ½ – ⅓ = ⅙.  That’s much easier than being stuck at just the equation.  What’s good about Green’s Theorem is that a variation of it (Stokes Theorem) also works with 3D objects, which we will discuss in a later post (hopefully).

One last note before I go has to do with conservative vector fields.  You’ll notice that if the vector field is conservative, M and N will equal each other leaving you with the integral of ZERO.  That should make sense because the line around the area you are integrating is a closed loop (ending where it begins).  Therefore, if the field is conservative, your integral MUST equal zero.

Next up, if I get to it is creating parametric surfaces and – perhaps – taking integrals of those surfaces.


Vector Calculus: Line Integrals

July 6, 2009

This is section three of my series on vector calculus.  As always, if you are able to follow along and have questions pop up, or a section is totally unclear, drop a comment or email to me.  I’ve got the two exams coming up on Wednesday and Thursday.  I could theoretically bomb the crap out of the Wednesday one, I just have to pass the one on Thursday (matches lowest exam grade with the final).

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