Sunday, December 11, 2011

Nearly through.

Hard to believe my quarter is almost finished. Completed my last big assignment for Building Information Modeling (BIM) at about 3pm. Hoo boy that was a major ordeal. I was in charge of the structural modeling for a sample building project. This didn't seem particularly bad -- I have a background in structures and the tutorial shown by our teacher made the structural analysis program (ETABS) seem straightforward. Boy, was I mistaken. I spent at least 10 hours on the homework project. Possibly more. Almost all of it was in troubleshooting mode, which is not a particularly fun mode to be in. At the end of the day, I still couldn't get the model to work properly. Even after working with my teacher for thirty minutes, we couldn't resolve the problem. He eventually suggested a workaround so I could at least get results from the analysis program that I could interpret for my design. I'm more familiar with the program, but oy at what cost? Not like I'll likely need to know ETABS for the future. Oh well, there's something to be said for keeping practiced in the art of learning new programs.

Then went on to study more for Decision Analysis (DA). The second practice final exam went a lot better than the first. 26 / 60 on the probabilistic portion, up from -2 / 60 on the first. (Yeah, ouch.) If anything, I can say that I'm at least learning important habits or tricks for the exam. I have never had so much trouble with a class before... I am so glad to be taking it pass/fail. I would be a complete wreck otherwise. No longer do I feel compelled to answer problems with great certainty in an effort to achieve a high score.

The probabilistic grading method taught me valuable lessons about characterizing my own uncertainty, but it does not gel with my desire to do well in classes. Sure, I have undue certainty in my answers in the academic realm, but I think that blind surety helped get me to where I am today. It reminds me of a quote from Prof. Griggs, my infrastructure professor. He said it's fortunate that humans have optimism bias (i.e. the tendency to underestimate the risks and overstate the benefits in planning), because otherwise nothing would get done; the greatest endeavors of human ingenuity and tenacity would have been left at the drawing board.

By about 8pm, I was wiped. Just didn't have any energy left to do more work. Then I realized: I'm pretty much done. Just the exam tomorrow. Well, and the NDSEG application, but that's a much less of a big deal.

Hoping to celebrate tomorrow. Drinking, perhaps? Dancing, perhaps? Both, perhaps? Whatever it is, I hope it will be in the presence of good friends. Most folks seem to be hella busy, so it will be surprising if people are actually available.

After a fun family dinner with Ithaka, it was back to St. Stevens. It was only 10:30pm. So I've decided to treat myself to something decadent and watch an episode of "Six Feet Under." Watching a whole hour of television - what a notion! It's nice to do something like that and not feel guilty about it.

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