Classes, Magic, and Freshpeople

So the habit of regularly posting appears to elude me, but nonetheless, I’ll try to keep the blog updated from time to time.

So, when last I wrote, I was preparing to go back to Hopkins for my fourth year; I am now here, having finished nearly the first week of class (we started on a Thursday) in my epic let’s-not-attend-class schedule.

Perhaps I should explain.

At the moment, I’m taking a maximum overload– twenty credits. That might slightly dip, but not in ways that concern this article. However, I only have ten hours of class per week– 2.5 hours a week for each of four courses, divided in various ways into seven class meetings a week– and no class meetings at all on Tuesdays.

So then, dear reader, how does this not translate into the laziest year yet for Brendan?

Well, the other parts of my day are taken by a staggering research load; I’m signed up for three credits of research with Professor Terzis for his lab (sensor networks), and three credits for my research, toward my thesis. So while technically I’m not going to class much, it’s not like I’m not doing anything. And as usual, violin lessons at Peabody.

What other things have kept me away from blogging?

Well, the first meeting of the JHU Magic Club, for one thing– a smashing success. We had seventeen people show up for our first booster draft, and we hope to have even more in the coming weeks. I wasn’t the Tournament Organizer for this one, but I will be on the 22nd.

The other really exciting thing was that I spoke on the New Engineering Students panel, for the third year in a row, last Monday. It’s an interesting group– ordinarily, it’s been run by Tau Beta Pi, the Phi Beta Kappa equivalent (National Collegiate Honor Society, basically) for engineers, and staffed almost entirely by their membership– almost, because the JHU chapter doesn’t allow CS majors, and thus I’ve been the pseudo-Honors student invited to fill in that gap. This year, it was only run by Engineering Advising, and I was the only student there who was in their honor society (Upsilon Pi Epsilon). Ah, how things change.

But it was a good time. Shannon, my sister, was the moderator this year, one of several BMEs on the panel– and the usual assortment of the rest of the engineering groups. Lots of questions about how students can do research, one amusing one from a student who’d been told by his parents that 18 credits wasn’t nearly enough (Shannon set him straight about the horrors of ultraloading), some questions about activities. What I thought was interesting was that this year, the other students on the panel told all the students not to do many activities, not to exert themselves, not to experiment– a complete about-face from last year’s panel, where everyone (myself included) told the students to try everything, do research early and often, and join what they wanted now and cut back later. I, for one, kept to my same position, which Shannon shared– but we were the only two. I wonder if there’s some correlation between being honors students and that opinion… :-)

I was also able to get in a few plugs for the JHU Magic club, which got quite a lot of attention; several students came up to me afterward and asked me how to join. As at that moment the website wasn’t operating, I just gave them my contact information– on my new MooCards, which I got on David’s advice (or rather, mention on his Twitter instance), and which I greatly enjoy; I have my cartoon representation on the front, and a bare minimum (name, website, email, GPG index) of contact information on the back. This worked well (and they thought the cards were really neat-looking), and soon I had many freshmen ready for Magical corruption.

So then, what next? Well, I’ve just been informed that I’m the new Head TA for my usual school-year job, 600.107 – Introduction to Programming in Java. Should be lots of fun, although whether it’ll be fun for me, or fun for the students, remains to be seen. :-) Tomorrow’s also the first meeting for one last class, with the inimitable Professor Daniel Deudney, which should also be quite interesting. And this Saturday, I get to meet the Mid-Atlantic DCI Judging contingent, at a judging seminar– excellent!

And then we’ll see if, somewhere amid the chaos, we can’t get the blog updated more often.