Rory's Mind-Grapes

Before I Begin Another Semester

I feel good about what I’ve done thus far in my academic career. I’m glad I didn’t choose the easy way, and something that will force me to be a life-time learner. No pain, no gain. I’ve gained a lot from my pain (including a well-paid permanent internship). However, I don’t feel excited for school to start tomorrow. I know it’s going to be hard. I know there will be many unfair things, I know I’ll have way too many late nights. But the good things will outweigh the bad over time, where my mind stretching will guarantee my family and I peace of mind and a stable future.

These thoughts bring to me to thinking about why I chose the path I did. A lot of it was out of ignorance, maybe a little bit of wishful thinking. However, I made the choice for a few reasons. In October of 2008, the recession hit. Bridgett and I had been married for a few months, and I had taken the semester off to earn some money to pay for school in the spring. When everything dealing with the housing market, banks, and just about everything else hit the fan, I had already been seriously thinking about the future and where I wanted to be to support my new family. The digital media degree I was in wasn’t going to earn anything to support my family and if this recession turned to a depression, I would really have a hard time finding any work with an easy/useless degree in  any job market (including the target job market for the degree). I’ve seen people search for entry level jobs and be denied over and over because they don’t have the education or experience. I don’t ever want to be left out in the cold from work when I have a family to feed, or go to work everyday to a job I hate, or am completely not interested in. It seemed like the harder the education was, the better the payoff in more ways than money.

There were too many people just after a degree, easy ones. Everyone who didn’t know what they wanted to do for the rest of their lives seemed to either just dabble in pointless classes or declare themselves a business major. I wanted to be better than letting indecision take over my future, leading me to personify the definition of mediocre career.

One night I was talking to one of my best friends about the doubts I had with the digital media major, he mentioned to me that I should consider engineering. I wasn’t quite sure what that entailed at the time, but after some research I found that engineers whether mechanical, civil, electrical, biomedical, whatever– they were in high demand all over the world. The pay was nice, the possibilities of what one does with an engineering degree were limitless. Electrical engineering had everything to do with what I was interested in anyway. It sounded like a good switch. After I talked with Bridgett about it, we decided that engineering was something that challenged me enough to be uncomfortable and push me to learn more than I had ever cared to learn in my life about everything. I changed to mechanical engineering, then finding out that electrical engineering could more than match everything I was interested in with recording music, making music, or whatever with music, I changed my major to electrical engineering. I did this all in the month of October 2008.

Over four years later, here I am. It’s taken me so long because I used to suck at math. It took about two years to get to where I needed to be mathematically where an incoming freshman in an electrical engineering program would start. It’s turned out to be a 6 year degree. The payoffs thus far are completely worth it. Paid internships are a guarantee, and and I’m also guaranteed an above average paying job straight out of college just about anywhere in the country, depending on what I want to do.

I’m grateful to have chosen the path I did in October of 2008. I’m glad Bridgett and I were forward thinking enough to make the right choices at the right time (with some extra help from the man upstairs). My future career is brighter than ever at this point, and only getting brighter. I won’t ever have to take an entry level job again, nor settle for entry level pay anywhere in the country. I have a meaningful job, where things are different everyday and I can accomplish much everyday. Currently, I qualify for over 100 different types of electrical engineering internships, which relates to many more possible career choices post college. Not only that, I am challenged to find solutions to engineering problems every day. Those problems range from ethical, mathematical, creative, and so on.  That means brain exercising every day. I attribute my freedom of opportunity to a choice to do something hard. The philosophy “no pain no gain” is directly applicable in this circumstance. On top of all this, I like what I’m doing. If don’t like what I’m doing, I learn something different and do something else somewhere else.

Please note, I’m no slamming on your job, just advocating for taking a harder road for a better payoff. Even now, if you’re 50 years old, learn more and get where you want to be.

New Year, New Semester

I’ve decided to write about the things I learn this semester, both in my life and academically. I’ll try to explain complicated subjects that are on my mind that (hopefully) could apply to everyone. I’ll try to keep it awesome.

This semester, I’m diving into signal processing completely. I’m taking an introduction to feedback systems, and digital signal processing. My goal is ready myself for my future career, and steer myself so that my first job out of the gate after college is the field I want to be in. Signal processing and other electrical engineering topics are very important and for the most part are easy to understand. I want to do this as an experiment to solidify topics that I am learning by explaining the topics to people that may not have any idea what I’m talking about. It helps both of us. Wish me luck. Classes start January 7th.

MIT Free Courseware: Lifesavers.

Where would I be without MIT courseware? Well, I would probably be paying a tutor to help me out. $15.00 to $20.00 and hours. Anyway, it’s pretty awesome. Any general subject MIT offers, you get the coursework, homework and lecture videos on special subjects. I think I found my favorite teacher, he’s super funny. I have to laugh every time I watch, because he’s like, nerd to the power of nerd times like, nerd. 

My favorite joke, is at 42 seconds. So funny, man, this guy. I think it’s funny because I know people like this. Math is their universe, and outside there’s… Nothing. Maybe a tuna-fish sandwich for lunch.

Hitting the Math.

So, I’m sure that you have heard me talk about math recently. I’ve had a few days off from doing math. They’ve been a good few days. Now, I’m about to continue from where I left off, and I don’t remember anything from it.

Today, Miss Fifi likes bananas. B took out a banana, and Miss Fifi just started wanting it really bad by making those wanting it really bad noises that babies make when they see something they want really bad. So we sang the banana song with her while she ate a banana!

For those who care:

I have not blogged in two weeks. My last couple blogs were enough to make people puke. I think people probably read a part of them, an then were like, “I give up.” Brains turn off. B my last post once. She read maybe five sentences, and went to another web page. I asked why, and she said, “I don’t understand it.” Well, after five sentences neither would I. I figure some of my readers may be in that same boat. For that, I apologize for a boring blog.

So, for those who still care, here’s what’s on my mindgrapes.

  • Miss Fifi is crawling everywhere, jabbering, boosting herself up onto things, opening cupbords, getting stuck in baskets, throwing tantrums, and sticking everything possible into her mouth. Even things ten times her size. I sure do love her.
  • In the last two weeks, I had to correct a final grading error from my last math class. My instructor had calculated my grade incorrectly, and, apart from that, screwed more than half the class out of a higher grade. I called her on my grade, and she changed it thankfully. How many students get the wrong grade and don’t even notice it? I hope not many. Double check your professors. Some of them do break rules.
  • The University calculated my credits taken and GPA incorrectly. I applied to USU on Saturday, and all they needed was my transcript, so before I sent it, I checked it. I worked out manually my credits awarded, applied, some retakes, blah blah blah. The result was that the school had it wrong. So, Monday, I called and complained. Then left voice mails. Sent emails. Sent more emails. I called everyday until today I finally got an email back– they’d fixed my transcript, and for having messed up, they sent a new transcript to USU free of charge. Yeah. So, I’d already spent 15 bucks on bum transcripts. I’ll never get that money back. Moral: Check your transcripts. Make sure they’re right
  •  I probably wouldn’t have done the above things had I not done haggling before. I appreciate Comcast, T-Mobile, AT&T, the Caddo Nation, the Federal Government, and UVU’s very own financial aid department for teaching me how to complain so that something gets done the way it was supposed to get done.  If any of these guys had done their job correctly, I wouldn’t have learned how to assert myself when something goes wrong. Thank you crappy companies. You’re making me a proactive adult.
  • I was asked by a local artist, Rachel Ann, to play guitar for her at her CD release show. Many people don’t care to know this about me, but I can play the guitar pretty well. I can play many different styles. I could be better if I practiced, but isn’t that the case with everyone? I don’t think she’s ever heard me, but she’s showing a lot of faith in my by asking me to play with her band. I’m not gonna lie, I’m stoked. I didn’t think I’d ever play guitar live again with school, responsibility, and Ryan moving to S.C. and everything else that needs my attention. So yesterday she sent me the tracks, and I learned them all in a couple of hours. I felt bad because she was making lead sheets for me and now I didn’t need them. Oh well. They’ll help for memorization. There were only six tracks. I think it will be an awesome show.
  • First Calc 3 test Saturday. Not excited. I’ve gone over and over the stuff, but I still feel like it’s not quite up to par yet. Wish me luck. It’s on partial differentials, and using lagrange multipliers to find the maximum and minimums of 3-D functions. If you don’t know what that means, just be glad you’re not in my shoes. I think I’ll do well, I think I’ve finally learned how to study for tests. Took me long enough.
  • With all this math, I feel like my artistic side is suffering. I feel  like I need an  art vacation.
  • B and I have awesome conversations about society, common perceptions of everyday life, and our goals in life. We have conversations about money, about science, about politics, and about philosophy. I’d like to podcast it. I think we will. But I don’t think anyone would listen. We’ll see. We need to get around to recording something to test. I’ll keep you updated.
That’s really everything that’s on my mind.

Infinity


In a world where everything is measured to finite time, a finite amount, or a finite frame of reference, it’s very hard to grasp the concept of what something means to be infinite. Sometimes, we just accept the biblical domination of interpretation, and say to ourselves in the back our mind, “Well, we know what forever is– but I don’t want to think about it because that’s not what we’re dealing with. Plus, it’s too hard to fathom.” I think this is a realm of something that might seem like speculation of something people would rather not delve into. However, it’s fundamental principle of the physical world around us. We use infinite quantities to solve problems, describe physical phenomena, and for me and probably most importantly at this time– to pass my math classes.

Truman G. Madsen, in talking about how long eternity was in a lecture I once listened to, had to use a worldly and finite definition which has always made me think. Paraphrasing, he said that an eternity (or infinite time) is like a seagull that flies to the top of Mount Timpanogos every so many years (100 or 10 or 1000 years, I don’t remember) and sharpens his beak on a rock. The seagull would then do this every period of years until that mountain is whittled down to nothing. He then went on to say, that that amount of time is like eternity. No offense to the late Mr. Madsen but to me, this is a forced simile that doesn’t doesn’t even come close to eternity or a precise description of what forever is. You see, a time frame was placed on the time it took for the mountain to break down. There was a beginning, there was an end. Not infinite, but finite.

In my mind, infinity = eternity = forever = never ending = without bounds.  Can we quantitatively describe what we or anyone else has never experienced? It sure is hard. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not speculating anything here, just stating fact. The mathematical quantity of infinity is treated as a number, yet it is not a number, or at least any real number.  You see, it cannot be defined because it is increasing constantly, decreasing constantly, or it is all the numbers in existence with is a never ending sequence. Wait a minute– all numbers? How many is that? Why, infinite, of course! Kind of hard to wrap your mind around? Well lets have some practical application.

∞ is the symbol we’ll use to represent infinity. Okay. Let’s say a we have two men. One man is 53 years old. The other man is 25 years old. How many years older is the first man than the second? Well, we take 53-25=28. 28 years is pretty significant when talking about age. There are quite a lot of things one can learn in a span of time lasting 28 years from start to finish. Now, let me ask you this. What is 53+∞? It’s just plain old ∞. What’s 28+∞? Same thing. Just ∞. Now, assuming these two men live forever, or to ∞, What’s the difference in age between them? Let’s work it out this way. (53+∞)-(25+∞) = what? It’s not 28 anymore– it’s and indeterminate answer. This means that it’s not a finite amount. It’s an infinite amount, or in other words, how can you take something that doesn’t end and subtract something else from it that doesn’t end? Impossible. The amount you find is also never-ending. If there are no bounds set on anything, then there is no difference between different quantities. The differences disappear. What does that say about the two men? Is one still older than the other? Not with an infinite definition, and this is again because infinite things can’t be bounded– that goes for age. In fact, age is irrelevant when talking about infinite time. Time itself is not useful either, seeing that there would be no need for a measurement of time if there is no end to it. You might also note that if there is no end, there couldn’t have been a beginning because if you go infinity backwards, you just get -∞. Forever the other way.

I like to think of things this way: if people lived to be 1,000 years old, would you  still say a 98 year-old woman is old? What about someone who’s 98 years old who lives 1,000,000 to years? would that person still be called old? What about 1×10^100 years old? Would the 98 years even matter? Something to think about.

Circles.

I was talking to B the other day about circles. They are super cool. They are perfect, and they don’t end. It’s kind of a freak of nature. I think circles are the new “now.” Principles of circles are embedded in basically every aspect of our lives. From the shape, to waves, to– well, just about everything.

Check this cosine wave next to me. It’s explaining that if a point travels all the way around a circle once, the cosine changes in time from its value of 1, to 0, then to -1, then to 0, and back to 1 again. It’s exactly like a spring moving up and down. If you were to put a circle on its side and observe the point move, it’s look like a point in spring moving side to side, or up and down.

The slowest that the point is moving is when it is at its most negative, and its most positive point. The fastest it is moving when it is at zero. Those equations are the wave functions– don’t worry too much about those now. As far as actually using a circle to form a wave, the explanation below helps.The word orthogonal is a synonym for perpendicular, or 90 degrees apart. The reason I’m always amazed by this is that everything we know in this life is understood, measured, analyzed, and manipulated with the help from the circle. What things are those that effect us so much? Everything from sound, to light, to anything electronic, and so on. Below is the electromagnetic wave spectrum. It might interesting to note, that our PDA devices function by microwaves, we see with visible light, radio waves are used for communication, and so on. The measurement represented starts at 100 meters in wavelength and goes to pico meters.Diagram of the electromagnetic spectrum showing the relationship of wavelengths from radio to gamma waves.

To understand what this means, and analyze it, you’ll need to all about circles. This stuff is all just a little sample of why circles are awesome.

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