July 2007


Today was our last lab of this session, and also our second test, about which I have a number of complaints. Considering how common-sensical magnetism and circuitry are, EMF tests shouldn’t have averages consistently in the mid-40s. After walking out of the test this morning, my extremely bright, double-majoring, engineer lab partner just decided to quit the course. Everyone else I’ve talked to thinks they failed, as well, including, for the first time ever, me. Believe me, I studied. At this point I should mention that the professor doesn’t curve.

Secondly, the professor decided to give this exam in-class rather than during the alotted exam time. Class is half the normal exam time, and he didn’t shorten the test. It generally takes us all a full two hours to complete the 22-question exams, so it seems to me that he has forgotten some very basic algebra.

Thirdly, he didn’t actually teach us most of the material. In fact, I think we learned just about everything we know from our TA (who, besides being brilliant, looks oddly like Charlie Epps). Of course, we’re with the professor for six and a quarter hours a week while the TA only gets two. They should reverse that. We don’t get our tests back, so it’s unlikely we’ll know exactly what mistakes we made, and there is no further review of material that obviously didn’t sink in. It’s as if the system doesn’t expect learning beyond the test dates.

Something is very wrong with the way we teach our sciences.

On the upshot, since our final isn’t until Friday next, I now have time to finish the last few chapters of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I was entirely correct about Snape. Brilliant!

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I just got back from working Floyd Fest. Per usual, it rocked up, down, and sideways! We had a number of fantastic bands here for the first time – Scythian, The Waybacks, Carolina Chocolate Drops, the Duhks, and Old Ceremony, among others – joining the old standards – Donna the Buffalo, Railroad Earth, DeVotchKa, etc.. We also got a new secondary stage, built along the same lines as the awe-inspiring Dreaming Creek main stage just up the hill. If the sound was good last year, it was incredible with the new acoustics! Even though it meant putting off studying for my emf test, which logically should be paramount, I happily whiled out my last half-week running myself ragged with the other volunteers. We had a wonderful time making everything run, giving our boss a mental break, and just enjoying the festival. As did most of my friends, I spent all my pocket money on cds (both studio and the live cd-on-demand albums), which, all things considered, is one of the best uses for it. I’ll certainly be a happier person for it.

Floyd Fest is really one of the few music festivals that walks the walk, these days. It’s small, volunteer-run, high quality, clean, friendly, and more than a little hippie. It’s also smack dab in the middle of the Blue Ridges, right off of the Parkway in one of the most gorgeous sections. If you ever get a chance, come up!

Woohoo! Temporary new site design! New links!

Despite the evidence given by my shoddy update schedule (or lack thereof), I’m still alive and kicking. Physics is dishing up electromagnetic forces at the moment, and since our labs have outstripped our lectures, things are slightly tight, schedule-wise. Also, I’m preparing for a fiddling competition this weekend on top of learning Tomaso Vitali’s Chaconne; doing gigs; moving furniture; learning the ins, outs, and s-bends of plumbing; and attempting vainly to have a normal summer.

The highlight of this past month has been taking care of two wonderful, enormous dogs for some friends. The friends are down in Oaxaca filming about the teachers’ riots. Some of you may remember the story from last year of how the Mexican government violently put down the peaceful annual protests, but probably only because a US journalist was killed. That the man investigating his death was shot twice last month seems to have garnered no media coverage. In fact, the anniversary protests seem to have entirely slipped the minds of US reporters, and this makes the teachers’ situation grave indeed. Their success and even survival depend on being able to communicate their plight to the rest of the country and to the world. Currently, they are unable to picket after dusk for fear of disappearing, and their sole video camera, their insurance that the government will treat them fairly in the public eye, has been broken. Unseen and unheard, what can they hope for?