Friday, July 24, 2009

First Thing this Morning

I walked into the Operating Systems classroom a half-hour early this morning, as is my usual habit. I greeted the prof, and then, noting that he had an assignment of mine in front of him, said "Oh. Speak of the devil!"

He looked a little puzzled, so I gestured to the open assignment. "You're marking my assignment" I prompted.

He shook his head, and said no. I tried again. "Oh. Then you're entering my marks."

Again he shook his head. "No" he said, smiling. "I'm using your assignment to mark everyone else's."

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I am my own slave-driver.

We're down to the final push for this semester. Final exams are three weeks away, yet I still have three more "midterm" exams to write. Marks are trickling in and are, for the most part, encouraging. However, the first Java midterm left us all shell-shocked and bleeding from the ears and nose; the class average was 47%. Although I got 55%, that's hardly a mark to be proud of and it might prevent me from making the Dean's List this semester, even though all my other marks are high enough (so far.) I can't believe I'm holding myself to that standard, but, well, here we are. (The prof says he'll bell-curve those mid-term results. That will bring me up a bit.)

I'm tired and crabby. Schoolwork occupies 80% of my waking hours, and a good portion of my sleeping ones, too... I wake throughout the night with snippets of code in my head, working through complex coding problems in my dreams and waking with solutions in the morning. While I admire my subconscious minds' tenacity in problem solving, perhaps I would feel more rested in the morning if I could switch off for a few hours.

While I am still really enjoying the program and the fabulous new skills I am developing, I just wish it wasn't so all-consuming. Those three weeks off between semesters that I have coming up suddenly seem not nearly long enough.

The third semester will be interesting; one less course on my load but correspondingly more homework as the levels become more difficult. As well, there will be preparation for the co-op term, which starts in January and goes until my final semester in September. The co-op term will probably be more restful, except I am an over-achiever and have decided to take night classes while working. The fun class will be more garment sewing lessons; I want to get into ballroom dance costuming and need considerably more skills than I have right now.

The "grit my teeth and do it" class is... French. God help me. I freaking HATE French and hate how it's rammed down my throat and hung over my head, but in order to get my foot in the door at any primo Fed job, I need to improve my oral French skills. (And as clever husband pointed out, I never actually have to speak it on the job... just prove I can by obtaining my profile.)

le sigh. There is no-one in the world who can be as hard on me as I can.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

More Sights of Summer

I was going out of the house this morning, and as is my ritual, I stopped briefly at the sweet peas at the front of the house for a sniff and to bask in the glory of their riot of colour. As I passed, I saw a bejeweled beauty I knew I had to capture, at the risk of being late for school. (These are amazing, if I do say so myself... clickify to view large. Large is always better.)



Other pretty things...



Like XUP commented a while ago... this summer (and I use the term loosely) may be crappy weather-wise but you can't prove it by the flowers.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Remember This in January

Some of my garden lovelies. This album is for me as much as it is for you; to remind me in the middle of winter that growing things did once exist and will again.










Thursday, July 9, 2009

A Little Bit Of Everything

It's been an awesome week.
  • I made the Dean's List for last semester! Although I know full well how hard I worked, getting that letter in the mail brought tears to my eyes.
  • I have income again. Huge relief.
  • I'm booked into Ste. Anne's for three nights in August. After a little dithering I decided to splurge large. I can't wait!
  • My husband and I went to Richmond Nursery and picked over 40 lbs (!) of strawberries. It's all berries, all the time now in the house... most went into the freezer but some were dehydrated and of course shortcake was consumed with copious amounts of real whipped cream.
  • I worked like a dog the last couple of weeks to get the homework situation under control, and now can sit back (just a little!) and relax. However, midterms still continue... pardon my questioning, but doesn't "mid-term" imply that the tests should be... um... in the middle? And not continually throughout? Of course, exams are in a month, too.
  • The garden is insanely fertile. The radishes have come and gone, I planted a second round of rapini, and we're eating sugar-snap peas to surfeit daily. The sweet peas are beginning to perfume the air at the front of the house.
On the "what the hell?" side of the coin is city council's decision to make students over the age of 27 pay full price for bus passes; we're no longer eligible for the student prices. This is apparently because older full-time students obviously have less need for money than the city does. I don't understand this move at all, aside from the blatant cash-grab. I've already written my city councillor.

Pictures! Yes!


Ever wonder what 40 lbs of strawberries looks like?


What else has to happen after you pick that many berries?


There was baking last weekend... cinnamon rolls with pecans and cranberries. Ooooh yum.


The cat gets everywhere...


...including, on occasion, stuck between the screen and the glass patio door.

Ummm... help? Anybody?

Friday, July 3, 2009

Spa Searching

Now that I know I'll soon be solvent again, I'm starting to look at my upcoming holidays in August. I have three (!) weeks off between my second and third semesters. Mum and Grandma are flying out for a week, but I also want to take a few days at a spa as I did after the first two semester.

Wakefield Mill was lovely, but I am open to new experiences. I'd love to do Ste. Anne's but I'm not quite *that* wealthy. (They have a pretty good package on for the summer, but it ends right as I'd be available to go.) Do you have anything you could suggest to me, within perhaps a three hour drive from Ottawa, or accessible by Via rail?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Week That Was

I found out today that I should be receiving my first LTD payment next week. Even better, and I don't know why I didn't see this coming, it's retroactive from April. *huge sigh of relief*

I had two mid-terms this week. The first, in computer architecture, was two hours of joy... like sitting down on a Sunday and working through the crossword puzzle. It was all on ASCII encoding/decoding, packed decimal format, floating point number format, and some LMC encoding as well... a thoroughly amusing exam and one I know I scored well above 90% on.

Today's Java exam, by the same prof no less, was an exercise in humility. There were an uncomfortable number of questions I simply had to take an educated guess on... it was a brutally difficult exam, despite the fact that it was largely multiple choice. I think I'll be lucky to score 70% on that one.

Though I have assignments due and another midterm next week, I am giving myself the night off. I shall make tea and putter in the sewing room, concluding the evening with a soak in the tub and a glass of wine. I deserve it after this week!

I leave you with random beauty. These orange mini-roses and carnations made my heart glad to look upon them; I'm glad they're frozen in time.


What I Wanted to Be When I Grew Up

I always wanted to do something with computers; I've loved them ever since we got our first one (TRS-80) when I was in my early teens. I have no idea what prompted my father to drop over $800 at Radio Shack that day (for a computer with a whopping 16 k of memory!) , but I was thrilled. I dove in immediately, teaching myself how to program in BASIC and spending hours poring over Rainbow programming magazines. Later on when Macs were introduced to my school I volunteered as a tutor in the computer lab, just so I could spend more time with those magical machines.

I got sidetracked with photography right after high school, not because it was a passion but because I got the job and it paid the bills. However, a friend at the camera store I worked at kept my interest in computers strong by supplying me with hardware that he didn't need anymore and teaching me how to build computers from the motherboard up. I had a 286, then a 386, and continually upgraded and learned as he upgraded and taught. I will always be grateful to him as he taught me to be fearless with computers; to roll up my sleeves and dive on in.

Then I joined the army, because they told me they'd pay me to become a computer tech. Sho'nuff, I spent 13 months training to be an IT hardware tech... and then got shunted away from it with each and every posting. True, I did some very interesting things in the fields of electronic warfare and long-range sat comm, but it wasn't what I really wanted to do, you know?

When I knew I had to leave the army due to a knee injury I had a long period of soul-searching and aptitude tests with the Personnel Development section, until one day I had the revelation that I could now do exactly what I wanted to do: programming. (Every aptitude test I took pointed me strongly in that direction... hello? Clue phone on aisle 8?)

A semester and a half into the program and I know with every fiber of my being that this is where I belong. It's such a good fit for my OCD-leaning, detail- and puzzle-loving logical mind. I am grateful for this chance to pursue my dream and look forward to the journey ahead.