First day of classes, VGA (nooo!), the pleasure of finding things out (truly)
Tuesday, September 05 2006 @ 02:04 PM MDT
Contributed by: emma
If I hadn't previously been a grad student officially, today I became one.
Classes started officially today, although that's a bit anti-climactic, since I only had one class from 1-2:20. But, I got to pass through the van Wickle Gates, which made the first day of my graduate career a lot more exciting than the first day of my undergraduate career (I think I had an 8 am calc class and that was it).
Formal Semantics (the class I had today) was great–I was surprised to see how many people were there for the first day! Polly says that the numbers will decline, but even still, there were 20+ people in the class; I'm used to semantics classes that are dangerously low in course registration. The class is going to be good, I can tell already. I was grinning from ear to ear the entire time :-)
Met the computer guy in the department who was very helpful and nice. I'll be getting a G5 iMac (I'm guessing one of the earlier G5 ones, so not an Intel and without the built-in iSight), but two drawbacks: 1) no CD drive (not a big problem since I have an external flash drive) and 2) only a VGA video output port (so I'll need a VGA-DVI adapter to connect the thing to my big 23-inch cinema display; I'm thinking that I'll just leave it in there to use when I have my laptop in there). Slowly but surely I'll have a permanent office, yay! (They've moved our furniture to the new office, but we may be moving back to our actual office soon.)
I was sitting in Formal Semantics today, very pleased with the class and following along a puzzle that Polly was presenting to the class. Now, I'd seen the puzzle before and I knew its solution for better or worse, so I was coasting along, happy that I understood everything. Then Polly posed a question to the class (something about how to represent "the woman who is the wife of her childhood sweetheart" in basic logical form) and it was sort of obvious to me, but I didn't want to say anything (I don't like answering questions when I know the answer for sure because I feel like it robs the opportunity of actually struggling to get the answer for everyone else in class–that, and I'd feel sort of like a hot shot). Anyways, it was sort of tricky, and a few people tried but didn't get it, so Polly showed them what she was looking for–and there was this cute wave of "ohhhh yeah" amongst the people who were seriously engaged with the puzzle. It was nice, and I felt a bit nostalgic for those days in Barry's intro class when I had no idea what was going on and he would explain something in a very elegant way. That's the pleasure of finding things out that Feynmann talks about, I suppose. For a really long time, I thought the goal was to know all the answers so you could answer every question completely confidently, but I'm now realizing that that's no fun at all. The point of solving problems is to be able to confront a new set of problems to solve.
I think the next five years are going to be great.