Monday, March 20, 2006

A long rant

There's something that I want to bitch about tonight, and that is my theoretical/computational neuroscience course. It is pissing the hell out of me. Why? Well first of all the lecture slides provided by the prof suck. And I mean they suck hard. He introduces variables into his equations everywhere and doesn't explain them. Some are just constants, but he doesn't give us any clue what the values of those constants typically are! This is frusterating as hell when it comes time to do the homework. And half the time I can't figure out what the crap his equations mean. Normally you'd think x^2 would be the square of a value y, right? Oh no no no! x^2 is the second input vector to a network. Where's the damn bold-face font or little arrow thing that clearly states "Hi! I'm a vector!" And since when did superscripts get used for things other than exponents? This is just the tip of the iceburg people. Not only are his conventions non-standard and lacking vital information about the equation, but his conventions aren't even consistent either! In the same context as the previous x^2 I talked about, there is also a y^2 which isn't a vector, but rather now the super script is supposed to indicate that that is the second element in the vector y. You can not even fathom the pain I have to go through just to understand a simple equation in this course. There is no reference text either, and Google/Wikipedia usually doesn't help much since the stuff we're studying is so esoteric. I've complained to the professor about this once before, and today to the TA, but I don't think the prof realizes how serious of a problem this is. (The professor himself isn't a bad guy though and I don't hate him, although sometimes I wish he was a bad guy so I could hate him). The homework assignments are also disgustingly vague. For example, one particular problem was "code a BCM neuron with 2 linear independent inputs". Okay.....but what the hell do you want to see for the output? A graph? A truthtable? A weight evolution? WHAT!? I hate assignments that have such vague problem statements like that.

I think the material in the class is actually kind of cool, but I feel so frusterated when I do the homework or study for it that I hate it. I hate this class! This morning when I was working on a homework assignment I was beginning to consider dropping it just out of sheer frusteration, even though dropping it would make it even mroe difficult for me to graduate in August than it already is. My procrastination and complete-ness of the work I do has been going downhill for a while now, but they have sunk to an all time low with this class. I just hate doing the work so much. It's no fun when I spend 80-90% of my time on a homework trying to figure out what the hell the professor is saying in his lecture notes, or what he wants me to do in the homework. I've been putting off these homework assignments until late the night before, or the morning before it is due. And it's not like I'm too busy. Hell, I had my entire Spring break to do it, and it was in the back of my mind, but I never did it. It's so bad now that it's almost like I physically can not get myself to do it until the last minute, or even after the last minute!

On the subject of procrastination/motivation, I've been thinking about that a lot lately. In high school and while I was at Purdue, I was (usually) very motivated and rarely procrastinated. My first semester at UT (Fall 2004) I was the same, and I studied hard then. And now thinking back to it, it was sometime in the first quarter of 2005 that my motivation/procrastination for school work began going down hill. But what I don't understand is, why? What changed me? Is it because I started working at Freescale in January 2005 and somehow that unconciously began lowering the amount of time and effort I devote for school work? I can't think of what else it might be. Why didn't I get back into doing well on my school work in August last year after I became a full student again? Was it because I was so burnt out, or maybe even if I wasn't burnt out the same thing would have happened? I mean, I don't feel burnt out right now, and my school work ethic is lower than ever. That might partially be because I realize now that grades aren't that important for grad school, and especially since I already have accepted a job offer with Freescale. (On the other hand though, these neuroscience classes are important if I want to apply for a neuroscience program again in the future).

I want to get it all back. I want to be like I was in 2004 and earlier in my life. Those were the times where I worked hard and enjoyed it (at least to some degree). I felt happy and I was content with my life. I had a good, healthy amount of self-confidence. I felt like I was really learning, and I felt like I was an intelligent person. Now it's all upside-down. I still work hard, but not as hard as I used to. I get no enjoyment out of any of the work I do now, except for working on Allacrost (although lately that isn't as much fun for me either). My self-confidence hasn't been this low since my early days of high school. I feel more and more stupid and that I'm unable to design solutions to problems in a timely/efficient manner that used to be a piece of cake for me. And one thing I really don't like about it is even now people keep telling me I'm smart. My boss at work tells me that. A lot of my relatives gave me that kind of praise over winter break. NO! No I am not! Not right now anyway. I know that I am where I am now because I used to be intelligent in addition to being a hard worker, but now it's like I'm trapped in a hell of mental anguish. Imagine what it would be like if you were an average or below-average student in elementary school, and then suddenly got thrown into senior high school classes. This is often how I feel these days, and it is a horrible feeling. Even the nice girl I met at the sleep clinic said that to me at one point when we were sharing with each other what we do (I wasn't trying to brag or anything; I never brag about myself).

Actually, meeting that girl helped me realize something. She made me realize how lonely I am. I mean I have people I know at school, at marathon practice, and at work that I talk to and occasionally meet for lunch, or play a game of volleyball or something. Technically I guess they are my friends, but this girl made me feel like I didn't have a friend in the world. I think I feel this way because I can't just call up someone and say "Hey, want to go see a movie?" or something equivalent. My weekends I spend hole'd up in my apartment working on Allacrost, or just reading/watching random things online (I'm an official Wikipedia addict, and lately I've also picked up the habit of watching tons of videos on Google video). It's not that I don't want to go out, it's that I don't feel I have that kind of relationship with anyone. I've never been very good at making friends, and after moving to a new place it usually takes me a long time (several months to a couple years) before I can find some friends that I enjoy hanging out with. But a day or two after meeting that girl, I was just so pathetic. I was so lonely and desperate for companionship. I was checking facebook, myspace, and craigslist looking for random people I thought I might like. I don't think I've ever felt that lonely before.

But anyway, back to the girl. Yeah, I guess I must really like her more than I thought I already did. It's not that she's on my mind 24/7 (she was for a day or so). I don't know. I guess it's because she was incredibly nice and I felt so connected to her. I've been thinking about calling her when she's at work and asking to see her again. I'm afraid to though, for several reasons. First, I know she already has her own friends and I guess I'm just intimidated by that. Second, I'm afraid that she might not turn out to be who I think she is. I mean I don't know that much about her, so after meeting her I kind of built up a model and filled in the missing parts with what I would like her to be, and I'm afraid of finding out who she really is. For example, if she's a smoker, heavy drinker, or one of those girls that likes to party and go hang out in bars/clubs, that's a huge negative thing for me (she doesn't seem like she would, but you never know). One strange thing though is I can't remember her face. Honestly. Even though we were together for a few hours and I saw her sitting there talking to me. All I can remember is she had thick, long black hair, she was hispanic, and she had a necklace with a cross on it. There are other people that I met there and I can't remember what they looked like either. Forgetting names is one thing (and I did forget her name at least 20 times), but not remembering a person's face is totally different. Honestly, it's scaring me.

Okay, I should shut up now. Sorry this was such a long rant (if you read the entire thing, you are either really bored or..... really bored). I just wanted to say some of those things.


Blogger Jastiv said...

I know how you feel, like being lonely in a crowd. It is often lonelier when there are other people around because you feel so different from them and then they go around thinking you are something that you are not. I hated it when people said how smart I was and expected all these things out of me I just couldn't do. You need to be your own person and not someone else's ideal.
Sometimes, for your own well being, you just have to stop caring what other people think about you and what you do.
About the girl. If I was in your shoes, I would call her up and ask her out. The worst think she can do is say no. I know it is hard to think about that she won't live up to your fantasy about her, but then if you don't ask her out you will always be wondering later if it could have worked out. You don't want that nagging at you later.

4:49 AM  
Blogger Tyler Olsen said...

Wow, I'm surprised someone actually read this. And I'm even more surprised you actually wrote a meaningful and insightful comment. Thanks for that. :D

Yeah, I want to be my own person. But it's really hard to be that person in my current life. People want me to be something I'm not. My boss wants me to commit more to work (actually I do too, but I have school and junk), my advisor wants me to spend all my free time working on my thesis or research, and even people I meet in real life want me to go out drinking and partying with them, and those just aren't my things. I've resisted trying to be everything to everyone, but it's just really hard to forge positive relationships with a lot of the people I meet.

7:37 PM  
Blogger Blogman Dan said...

What about us poor stupid people who would like to have a brain as smart as yours but don't? That's my complaint. Yet, I have other skills. Such as I know a real good christian who created a website that helps people with broken credit. It is...

12:31 PM  

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