Can’t-Get-Right

Something has been getting me down for the past two weeks, and I can’t quite pin it down. I haven’t been particularly short-tempered or grumpy, but just feeling a bit depressed. Unmotivated, anxious, really upset over small things, tired (god…), and I have an overwhelming desire to watch, of all things, television.

I don’t really think this is the result of my disappointment over my grades. I won’t make a 4.00 this term. At best, I can make three A’s and one B+, but I’m not sure what that GPA would be (it’s weighted by the number of credit hours, and B+’s get more points). And I can’t even talk about grades to anyone, because I get laughed at and called an insane perfectionist. But I don’t think I am; these classes are Calculus II, of which some is new, but not difficult, really, Chemistry, the basics of which are review but does get a bit complex for me (molecular orbits/hybridization kicked my ass for some reason, and we don’t even have to do any math), and Physics, which always has been, and will continue to be, my failing (hence the B or B+). But the point is, these are not Organic Chemistry or Quantum Mechanics courses. I should be sailing through. So I don’t think my demands of myself are too high. And yet, despite my goals, I find myself not taking this so nearly to heart as I did my junior year of high school and before. I don’t think I’m a failure as a person, or mentally crippled, or anything so negative (other than perhaps lazy) if I’m not making a 89.5% in a class. (And note that boundary–I have no problem in riding the line, because I am lazy.) I’ve found it’s not such a reflection on my person as I used to think it was. So pulling a 78.5% on that Chemistry test I had at the beginning of the week (class average was 69%; passing is 60%) didn’t send me home in tears. I was rather happy not to have gotten a 30%. Maybe Dr. M was sympathetic because I attended all those recitations and review sessions. I will have to nearly ace the next test and my exam to get my grade back into the A area. But I don’t think academics is what is keeping me down right now, really.

Then there’s the running. I’ve told myself (on repeat) that I will be patient, that I will take this one day and one week at a time, and damn the supposed “schedule”. And I’m generally fine with my slow progress. But right now it seems so slow. Sometimes I just want to visit the doctor and rant and rail and make them look in my lungs and find out why it’s taking three to four times as long for me to get better than it does for anyone else I’ve talked with/read about. I know patience is the key, and persistence, but goddamn it, I’m hitting the treadmill more than five hours a week, and the results are almost exclusively external.

See, this doesn’t normally bother me so much.

And then there’s the weather. It’s been snowy, and cold. This damned cold… I am almost never warm; there’s always some extremity that is pale and frosty, or numb with cold. My furthest outside on-campus walk is to get food, and I’ve been skipping meals to avoid it. I can’t stand it. I can’t (read: refuse to) run outside because of the snow and ice and cold (I shudder to imagine the unexpandable lead sacs my lungs would turn into if I tried to run outside, not to mention the amount of fluid I would hack up later). I can’t drive anywhere, again because of the snow, etc. I’m on a little island, surrounded by a moat of snow. And it’s not even really the snow so much as the single-digit and negative temperatures (in Fahrenheit, no less) that last all day. The afternoon warmup means getting up to a whole 15 degrees.

Last night, I walked out on Thorn at 23:00, having fucked up the Classified page (a page full of ads, and I messed it up), and leaving a two column by half-page block of space on our second news page that I wasn’t sure how to fill, since our lead story was shorter than anticipated (thank goodness, quite frankly) and wouldn’t have spill-over. By the time I left, I’d had two of those weird, frustrating bouts of “Ohmygod, I’m not going to cry over something so silly as this… *swallow*”. I just couldn’t get it together, so I left it in my mini-boss’s hands. I won’t have that luxury next term, as I will be the news editor, responsible for story assignments, editing, and page layout.

My roommate and her boyfriend have been hanging out in our room more frequently, which leaves me in an odd predicament. While they certainly aren’t having any kind of wild monkey sex, they are chatting and being boyfriend-y and girlfriend-y and all private and stuff. So I’m like, okay, I’ll leave, because of all the things I may be, an intrusive voyeur is not one of them. My leaving, however, causes Bridget to make a big ruckus about how I don’t need to leave, and makes Theodore feel uncomfortable, because he knows that Bridget would probably bow to my discomfort before his lack of desire to walk all the way back to his dorm, and yet he doesn’t want to make me feel bad. If I come back from somewhere, and they’re chilling, I just don’t come in, and go hang out in the lobby, and it’s usually not a big deal. But if I’m already settled in and entrenched in homework, do I pack up and leave? Do I stay and hunker down in front of my computer with loud music on headphones, trying to acheive tunnel-vision and deafness, so I fade into the background? It’s not like I’m shooting the shit or playing Diablo II–I’m doing homework. One part of this is that Bridget is so much more mobile than I am. If she and Theodore leave, they go to his residence hall, or go on a walk, or any other of about a hundred places, it seems. If I leave, I go… to the basement study room, which has no wireless Ethernet, and limited wired ports. Or the lobby, where the damned television is always on and it’s cold, because that’s where the entrances to the building are. But it frequently seems like I’m just sort of this… lump over in the corner of room–if not class, meals, or workouts, I’m pretty much always there, because that’s where my computer is, and what I do is on my computer. But I’m fretting about this, and Bridget’s loudly declaring that they aren’t doing anything, so how can I be intruding (to which I reply that everyone needs privacy, particularly couples), and Theodore is too lacking in assertiveness to give me any kind to response (subtle or otherwise) at all. Of course, Theodore’s problem could be the fact that the guy only has eight (I’ve counted) facial expressions. He’s a bit hard to read. But it’s just weird and awkward, and it will only get worse next year, when I will be the only single girl out of the four of us that will be sharing a suite. My only rule so far: no hanky panky when your roommates are around. The story of the guy who woke up to hear “boot in wet mud sounds” in the middle of the night–without any advance notice from his roommate–will stick with me forever.

I’m sure I’m not the only one suffering from this bout of feeling down. There are several girls on my floor that have been getting smashed every night this week, despite tests and early morning classes, bringing home weird guys and scaring their roommates. My destructive behavior? I’m missing lunch to write this, sleep has been, ah, scarce this week, I’ve been watching too much Law and Order, and I plan on staying on the treadmill more than two hours tonight. The endorphins can’t hurt, can they?

Uh-oh.

Would someone please remind me why the military isn’t a good option for me? Because I seem to have forgotten. Le sigh. Today was the Internship and Co-op Fair, and I talked to several companies, all of which have facinating opportunities that aren’t out of my depth, and would really help further my “career”, such as it is. And then there’s the military. Insert another sigh. Particularly the Navy. They’ve got a sweet deal for undergrads with technical/engineering majors… Bridget is no help in identifying potential problems, because she thinks there aren’t any. The physical requirements can be worked on (I’ve got three years, after all), and aren’t even that high; minimum requirements are a 15 minute 1.5 mile walk/run (a 10-min/mi pace, or 6.0 mi/h), seventeen push-ups in two minutes (that would be the hard one, but solvable with some weight training), and fifty curls in two minutes (easy). Of course, those are the minimums, so doing better is definitely desired, but that’s a starting point.

And then there’s discipline/respectfulness. Am I so disrespectful that I could not be a member of the military? That’s kind of a loaded question. Can one learn discipline? I’m aware of my own un-disciplined-ness: I enjoy my personal freedom, usually don’t make up my bed, procrastinate, and have skipped a class or two (actually, just about two…). But I also like schedules, and rules, and knowing the limits of my confinement, so to speak, whether in projects/assignments or living space. And I’m not sure how disrespectful I am. I tend to get along with people’s parents and my professors fairly well, even those that keep strict “I’m your superior, call me Dr. Doodad” attitudes. Not a problem for me. But one of the things I like about Rose-Hulman is the fact that few of the profs are really like that. I mean, I would certainly never call Dr. McKnuckleberry “Rich” in conversation (nor do I refer to him as that in my mind), but things are not strictly yessir/no sir, either. But could I adapt to living in a situation that was different in that way from my current surroundings? I may be overly optimistic, but I kinda think so.

When I peeked at the Air Force and Navy post-graduation, Michael raised the question of my tendency to be, ah, critical of the president/administration. How much dissent is the military confortable with? I mean, it’s not like I’m plotting anything against the government, of course, or anything so… active. But how would that affect me doing my job, whatever that may be? That’s still kind of the open question, although I’m not sure how much of a moral dilemma it would be for me. I probably wouldn’t be directly causing anyone’s death or dismemberment, but any software/systems/whatever I work on or develop would be used for the purpose of killing people, or helping the people that will be killing people. But, then again, I don’t necessarily have an aversion to death/killing. Nor do I see any problem in supporting the troops in our current conflict/war. Our country’s citizens should be protected from harm. But that’s where I go into philosophical debates with myself over the extent of the protection needed, etc. And I’m not terribly inclined to just say, “Well, I’ll just leave that to Mr. President because he’s more qualified.” I don’t know.

I feel like I’m forgetting problems that are deterrents to me doing military stuff. Insert another sigh.

Benefits: a cool job, in pretty much any technical area I want to be in, guaranteed following graduation and passing the Officer Candidate School; $54,000 over three years while in college, just like a normal paycheck; a decently good pay with basics taken care of once I’m out of school; nice life insurance, should I kick the bucket; an interesting life style that mixes the mental and the physical.

Round in round in circles I go. I’m off to visit my friendly neighborhood treadmill.

Resolved – XFree 4.3 Setup

In order to setup XFree 4.3, I made sure to execute the command “VIDEO_CARDS=”radeon” emerge xfree-drm” to install support for the Radeon card in the laptop, then I emerge’d XFree. Then I read a novel. And started another one.

In configuring XFree, I used the configuration file at henrik.org when running xf86config. I later had to edit the configuration file to get my USB mouse to work, and the linked configuration file reflects that, but the resolution and monitor setting are what I set in xf86config to enable me to run 1600 x 1200 resolution in XFree.

Yeah, well…

I have been swallowed up into the abyss of mid-term exams, extra-curricular activities, having two labs this term, normal homework, dinners, work, fixing up my computer, and reading. In other words, college has caught up with me.

Last weekend, I killed my bandwidth allowances by downloading Gentoo ISOs and installing Linux on my machine. Because my computer is so uncool as to not have an XP install CD (although I can buy one at our bookstore for $5), I downloaded BootIt NG and used it to resize my NTFS partition in a non-destructive manner. Then began the Gentoo fun. It took my computer all weekend to compile what I needed to run Linux the way I wanted, including XFree 4.3 and KDE 1.3. Whoo. I got a lot of homework done that weekend, since the alternative was to sit and watch the individual GCC commands scroll on my monitor. I still have to boot into Windows to do some school stuff, because I haven’t tried Wine yet (I’m afraid of that app, given the un-fun I had with it back in RedHat 7). So I had no really usable computer until about Tuesday. Now all that’s left is fine-tuning the kernel, getting more fonts installed for OpenOffice.org (OO.org is getting much sexier these days, too, even if the font selections are miserable), and getting other, smaller apps installed (like Wine, and trying to find an offline blog publishing app). I’m also getting a “Problems and Solutions” page for Gentoo up, since I feel majorly happy I got my PCMCIA’d FireWire external 80GB drive working successfully, and wouldn’t wish that confusing hell on anyone.

About Wednesday, I started working on a new layout for this here site. I don’t like it quite yet. There are still some kinks in the CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), particularly for those running at low resolutions, and for the Mandrake/Book Review layout style. Those may just need to be revamped anyway. Actually, I think I’ll just scrap the whole damned thing and start over.

Speaking of some buggy shit, a negress can’t go away for a week without shit breaking around here. I have no damn idea what happened to cause BlogWorks to break, nor could I fix it (because nothing had changed!). I ended up having to do a re-install of the system Friday night, in the midst of NSBE’s Senior Weekend. Good news about Blogworks XML: this guy may be taking over development. Yay! If I can get my act together and work on this bit of code for the commenting that I’ve been wanting to do (particularly after an incident a couple of weeks ago at another site reminded me of the lack of control I have over commenting here), I might give it to him and see if he wants to incorporate it into the next version of BlogWorks. Of course, I’m not working off the 1.30 Preview, because I have no particular interest in running my normal blog off of alpha software I’d be testing myself, but I may throw up a second installation for testing 1.30 Preview to see what I can do to contribute.

I’m currently using Bloglines to track RSS feeds, but I’m not feeling it. Of course, when my alternatives are AmphetaDesk (bad user interface), the various Mozilla extensions, BottomFeeder (buggy when I used it a year ago), or a Java-based RSS to NNTP server on which development seems to have halted and which won’t work on my computer, I’ll stick with Bloglines for a while. I’d be a happy camper if that NNTP server worked, though.

Am I completely silly for hoping all the snow today may stop professors from being able to come in tomorrow morning…? A three-day weekend (and a postponement of the two major exams I have tomorrow) would be wonderful.

A Week in Review–A Photoblog. Sorta.

This may look oogly for those running 800 x 600 resolution. It’s essentially an experiment involving my Brinskter bandwidth, Bridget’s camera, and the all-eViL Photoshop 5.5. Some of the text/writing may be less clear than I intended it to be. I’m still working on it.

Monday

Chemistry notes on bonding
Ionic and covalent bonding… I remember some of the general stuff from tenth grade, but some is new, so I stay awake.

Tuesday

Calculus notes on integration by parts
Something about this example irks me… That whole “let’s just stick ‘I’ back in there and and do algebra stuff to the get the answer” almost seems to me like it shouldn’t work. Dr. L hasn’t steered us wrong so far, though, and this is kinda simple stuff, so maybe it shouldn’t be harder.

Wednesday

'Qualitative Reduction-Oxidation Reactions' - A Laboratory Report Title
How I spent my Wednesday evening. This lab scared me shitless.

'Qualitative Reduction-Oxidation Reactions' - The redox reaction of permanganate to manganese (IV) oxide and manganate ion
See why I was scared shitless? I had no fucking idea what I was doing, if I was supposed to have more than one ion as a result, if I was allowed to cancel things out the way I did in the balancing, etc. One thing I hated about this lab was that the reaction of the three alcohols in basic solutions all reduced the permanganate to manganese (IV) oxide and managanate ion, so if I fucked it up one, I fucked it up thrice (four times, actually, now that I think on it). The acidic reaction caused something different, but those were the same in the three alcohol reactions as well. Dear god. Well, at least I was consistently wrong, I suppose. Oh, and if you must correct it, be kind. I know I’m ignorant in chemistry. Oh, and ignore that messed up placement of the “2” on the manganese (IV) oxide in the second line. I got it right on the next lines. Shit. Dr. M. said she would grade lightly, though…

Thursday

The Dr. McKnuckleberry's response to my Ginsberg essay.
I like Ginsberg. I got to quote “and who let themselves be fucked in the ass by saintly motorcyclists, and screamed with joy”. That made me happy.

The Thorn's front page
I fucking hate this layout. I’m ashamed to have helped make it and to have signed off on it. Ugh.

The Thorn's pages two and three spread
And don’t even get me started on the heavy inking in this issue. Those pictures looked like black blobs of ink, and we lightened those.

Friday

Oh, the free time!
My idea of a great weekend. (If it’s hard to read, here is the first part, and here is the second part.

All the shit around my desk that must be cleaned.
Homework, books, notes, etc. all accumulate… until Friday afternoon.

The Yours truly.
Yeah, so my hands shake and the picture’s fuzzy. That’s fine. I ain’t takin’ another. This one is already breaking my rule. I tried that shit with flash the first time and almost blinded myself.