This was my first semester of college, and on the whole, the schedule wasn't too bad. Classes didn't start until the afternoon on Mondays, so I got basically three days of weekend as far as sleep was concerned. The stretch of three lectures did sometimes start to get old, especially about halfway through Math, when I realized that once class ended, I still had to walk back to my room. But on the whole, this schedule wasn't so bad, and it could have been a lot worse.
- Philosophy 25A
- Course Title: Ancient Philosophy. Although I personally think Ancient Western Philosophy, or even Ancient Greek Philosophy would have been much more accurate, as all we studied was Ancient Greek Philosophy. And the ancient eastern thinkers are no less ancient than are Socrates and his lot.
- Professor David Gill: This man certainly knew the subject matter. Unfortunately, his ability to convey his knowledge to his students was somewhat lacking. He often searched for words or stuttered, and he used hand gesturesa a great deal. On the whole, I gained more from the text than from his Lectures. What I spent the majority of my time in class thinking about was the fact that this man matched my idea of the appearance of an Anient Greek thinker, almost to a T.
- GSI: Suzzanne Obderzalek - She had a reletively thorough understanding of the material, and did a reletively good job of covering the holes Professor Gill left in his lecture. It was apparent, however, that there were gaps in her understanding, but she wouldn't try to bs her way through it. She would simply say that she didn't know, and tell us that she would get back to that next week. She also had a most interesting accent, which I've never heard anything like. I thought it was Irish, but it may have been from Wales or New Zealand, also. I never asked.
- Text: Insert Name Here - This book wasn't so bad, and it was what I learned the most from in the course. But it wasn't exactly a great book, either. The translations were acceptable, and easy enough to understand, and the footnotes were generally useful. Additionally, the chosen excerpts were the most important ones, for the most part. My biggest complaint about this book was that it added a lot of commentary about the philosophers that I didn't find useful in the slightest, and it could have been replaced with interpretations of the work that would have been much more useful. But on the whole, it wasn't a bad book.
- Content: The course started with Plato, focusing on his Socratic writings, and moved on to the Republic. I like Plato, and so I liked this first three sevenths of the class. The Apology is an excellent piece that everyone should read. Next, we moved on to the presocratics, which I despised. Luckily, this was only about one seventh of the class, and we immediately moved into Aristotle. Aristotle takes some getting used to, and some of his writings are better than others. It would figure that we started with the Physics, which, in my opinion, was Not one of the better pieces. After the Physics we moved into the Nichomachean Ethics, which I liked many times better than the physics. On the whole, I'd say about five sevenths of the content was enjoyable, and the other two sevenths was a nightmare. Luckilly, grades were based on three papers, which allowed some freedom in chosing what you were graded on.
- Room: 1 LeConte - This, to the best of my knowledge, is a Physics classroom. I know that immediately before my class there was a physics class in this room. The seats actually had cushions on them, though it did occasionally get a bit stuffy, especially on a humid day. When I saw A Bugs Life, there was a preview for Robin Williams new movie, Patch Adams. I was watching the preview, and a spark of recognition flashed in my mind during a classroom scene. The next time it showed the classroom, I realized it was Actually 1 LeConte. It is a rather distinctive room. It has a clock in the counter across the front of the room, and the counter has two sections in the middle that can be removed for various purposes. LeConte is an old building, though, and that is apparent in this room, which looks like it was last renovated in the 60's or 70's.
- Grade: I got a B+ overall for the class. The grade was based on three papers, with the third paper being weighted more than the second, which was in turn weighted more than the first. I got a B on the first paper, but was graded down 1/3 of a grade because I neglected to sight my sources (all one of them, being the text itself). On the second paper, I got a C+, but the GSI said that the grades she awarded were lower on average than the grades the other GSI's gave, and that she'd consider weighing this paper less. I don't know what I got on the third paper, but I figure it must have been an A for me to get a B+ overall.
- Computer Science 61A
- Course Title: The Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs, or SICP.
- Professor Brian Harvey: This man was an excellent teacher. Not only did he know the material, he knew exactly how to teach it. Anyone taking a course from this man should feel lucky. He claims to be a philosopher at heart, who considers UNIX to be the least evil of the available operating systems, and who likes Animaniacs. He's written an introductory book on Scheme, along with several books on Logo, his language of choice. But I won't hold Logo against him.
- Memorable Quotes: "The Correct editor at 300 baud is logout."
"There's a lot more to the social implications of computers than not killing people, but that's a good place to start."
"I have an important announcement. Tomorrow at 9 am is the last new episode of Animaniacs, ever. So be sure to set your VCR."
- TA: Joshua Cantrell: Josh certainly seemed to know what he was doing, but I never went to discussion or lab often enough to be really sure. He had a lot of handouts explaining various things which he handed out and made available on his website, and they seemed very clueful. But I never bothered to look at them. This class was simple, and I didn't feel I needed the discussion or lab to get the A.
- Text: The Structure And Interpretation of Computer Programs: This book was written by a couple of MIT professors, and is also the book they use for their introductory CS class. The title of CS61A was taken from this book, which is considered to be one of THE books in Computer Science. It is a very good book, but it gets bogged down in its mathematical examples from time to time. So if you don't have a strong background in math, you might have trouble following a lot of the examples. It is also very dense in some places, which is forgivable, as it crams an aweful lot into those 5 chapters, the first 4 of which are covered in 61A.
- Content: This course covers darn near every major concept of Computer Science at least briefly. Which seems daunting at first, but it really isn't that bad. All of the projects are enjoyable, and are probably the most useful parts of the class, while the homework was often simply tedious, but acceptable. Harvey tried to avoid the mathematical problems that the book emphasized, but it's only possible to obfuscate so much, and occasionally a problem came along that was a matter of figuring out what they were asking, rahter then what to do with it.
- Room: Pimental - I like this room a lot, and as long as it isn't humid and packed, the breathing is just fine.
- Grade: A. This class, while it managed to teach me some new things and hold my interest, was trivial. I got A's or high B's on all three midterms, 10/10 on all four projects, and only skipped one homework assignment. I got 24/30 on the final, but I wasn't trying that hard, as I didn't have to do that well in order to get the A I wanted.
- Math 1B
- Course Title: Calculus
- Professor Nikolai Reshetikhin - He knew the material, and did a fairly good job of teaching it. The only time I ever had a problem understanding him was when he was having a problem speaking english. He would often tell or a "story" or a joke, which the rest of the class enjoyed a fair amount, and which I usually found at least mildly amusing. He would translate "clear" as "transparent", so he would ask "Is this explanation transparent?". Once, he asked if there were no questions, and when there were none, he said "No questions means one of two things: Is either completely transparent or is not completely transparent." On the whole, a good teacher.
- Memorable Quotes: "No Questions means one of two things: Either completely clear or not completely clear"
Assorted Jokes he told during class
- GSI: Marianna Bogomolny (check spelling) - I suppose she knew her math, but her accent was too heavy, and she had trouble finding an answer to a question on the spot. Additionally, because this was a "Workshop Section" of Math 1B, she didn't actually show us how to do problems. She instead "guided us" as we tried to do the problems ourselves, which certainly was anything but constructive.
- Text: Some Random Calculus Book by a guy named Stewart. It was just a typical mathbook. It wasn't a bad one, just a typical one.
- Content: We covered Integrals, starting with Integration by parts, trigonometric integration, etc. We then moved in to sequences and series, and finished off with Differential Equations. Mostly interesting, but it got kind of dry.
- Room: 100 Lewis. I hate this room. If it wasn't stuffy because it was humid, the chalkboard was broken, or the ceiling was dripping, or there was some buzz making it impossible for me to conecntrate, or a desk would be broken, or... You name it. This classroom sucks.
- Grade: I got a C+, but I chalk that up primarilly to my quiz grades. I got high c's/low b's on each of the midterms, and I don't know what I got on the final. I got 100% on my homework. But when it came to quizes... I couldn't motivate myself to study that much every week, and they were just too early in the morning. So, out of 10, I missed two quizes, did well on two of them (10 and 9 out of 10), and got 3's to 5's on the remaining 6 quizes. I lose. Serves me right. If my quiz grades had been slightly higher, or even if I had managed to to make it to those last two, I probably could have pulled a B or B-.
- Anthropology 24
- Topic: A Virtual Walk Through Time. This was a freshman seminar, which was to focus on Virtual Reality as it is used by Archaeologists. But it got very redundant, very quick, and it was probably the biggest waste of time of my first semester of College.
- Room: 15 2224 Piedmont. It was an alright room, but it barely held 15 people, it was stuffy and the seats were uncomfortable. 2224 Piedmont does have a nice Macintosh lab, though, with about 15 PowerMac G3's...
- Grade: Pass. It was simple enough. All I had to do was breathe.