The bounty of summer is amazing. I need to make it to a farmers' market before I leave Boston, and see if I can find any in San Fran or Raleigh that might be compatible with my schedule - flashing back to hoisting a giant jug of cider through Rochester with Steve and Karlie and Q, walking down the sunny streets of Hobart with a carrot in each hand, washing down berries with my first bottle of raw milk in Salamanca Square.
Thursday was a good day. In the course of a few minutes talking about and tinkering with the POSSE logo, Mo introduced me to several new fonts as well as agave. Nikki reminded me of Nielsen's usability heuristics, which I haven't seen in years. It shall be useful; I have Fedora websites stuff to do, and I want to do a sprint sometime (hopefully with Andrew) on testing out OSS for ECEs - stuff like http://fritzing.org/, http://www.liquidpcb.org/, and http://chitlesh.fedorapeople.org/FEL/. And Alorah made Jello jigglers, which I don't think I've had in years.
I keep thinking in an "if I just X, then I'll be able to Y" pattern when there's no such actual dependency or blocker. Must fix.
Right now I'm reminded of when I my SAT II tests for college apps. For instance, I had to take a science test, and decided on Physics, despite having taken all of 3 weeks of Physics class in my life at that point. The day before the exam (with some dim notion that it was multiple-choice, but not particularly sure what the test was on), I checked out a prep book from the library and ignored it the entire day - I had homework to do, meetings to go to... finally, after my roommate had gone to bed, I sat on my mattress and cracked open the book and brute-force-memorized all the unfamiliar vocabularly words and formulas. Everything. Moment of inertia, capacitance, density, friction coefficients, how to draw free-body diagrams, optics, special relativity...
Sometime around 5am, I realized a couple things.
- I was getting a little tired.
- I was easily answering every single question I was reading in the book correctly.
- I didn't have the faintest clue how to do physics beyond the mindless plug-and-chug I'd just memorized.
- This was not the kind of physics that I cared to learn.
I promptly pitched the book over the edge of my bed and slept. 2 hours later, I woke up - it was in this sleep-deprived, formula-memorizing zombie state that I took the SAT II Physics test. It was depressingly easy - too easy for me to slip into mindless robot mode and completely ace the test despite not knowing how to do physics at all. I actually felt bad when I got back my score report... if I didn't know how to do physics, I should not have been able to get a perfect score. I should not be able to pass a test by explicitly turning my mind off - that's not the kind of test you want to do well on.
It was a moment where it hit home to me, on more than an intellectual level, that standardized tests measure nothing except how well you can take standardized tests. And that, in fact, most of my reasonable school grades were due to my ability to cram formulae and rules into my short-term memory, regurgitate them, and then forget them - and do that easily and fast enough that I had a lot of time left over to explore books on things i actually did care to learn. Like... real physics. (Ah, Feynman. Thy lectures were a hallmark of my youth, and the reason I learned calculus.)
This is definitely cocky on my part, but such moments are rare and I'll indulge; right now, I'm set to take my GREs in about 8 hours. It's 4:15am; I'll probably sleep soon. I just went to the site to find out whether I should bring a calculator (no) and what kinds of questions are on the test (multiple choice and essay, math and reading comprehension/vocab). And that is all the studying I'm doing, and all the studying I care to do, because I do not want to let my emotions make a bigger deal out of this than my intellect wants to allow. I do not want this to matter to me; I want to not care about doing well, because I don't believe doing well actually measures anything (though I realize it increases my chances of acceptance, I don't want to care about that).
I want to care about... being a fit with the professors, with the program, with the other students. I want to care about my portfolio, my personal statement, my understanding of what going through a certain program would teach me, and what I could bring to it. Important things. Far more important than a number that some company generates after I spend 4 hours clicking things on a computer.
We'll see how much I actually care about what tomorrow, when I finish the test and see part of my score and have (presumably) some emotion run through me at that moment. How I react and how strongly I react will be a fascinating data point to gauge. (Yes, I'm detaching and attempting to be as analytical as possible so that I can keep myself from caring, and go on with more important things in life.)