That pretty much sums up everything I could possibly say about both the VP debate from last weekend and the Presidential debate last night. Plus I’ve been ranting about politics way more than I should be of late.
So! Moving on.
In my three-hours-of-sleep post-exam stupor late this afternoon, I was in the Mellon Institute Library working with a fellow Biochemistry classmate on last-minute homework tweaks, when a fellow Computational Biology classmate approached me and asked for help with his programming assignment.
(background: I am the only one in my master’s class who has a Computer Science background. Everyone else is Biology/Chemistry. So it works out well: they tutor me in the organic arena, and I them in the synthetic :P)
He had an exam later that evening over ArrayLists, linked lists, and abstract data types like stacks and queues. Rolling up my sleeves and drawing on two years of teaching assistantship at Georgia Tech doing exactly that, I gave him a one-hour crash course in data structures.
Now, in this M.S. environment, things move a lot more quickly than they did as an undergraduate. I took an entire course in languages and compilers; my M.S. classmates, having hardly any CS background, had to implement abstract syntax trees for their first homework assignment. So tonight, when I mentioned the Java Virtual Machine, you can imagine my reaction when I heard from my classmate that the instructor hadn’t mentioned the mere existence of the JVM, to say nothing of its importance.
Note: For the time being, I will lay my opinion on the teaching mechanics (OR LACK THEREOF *coughhack*) aside, and focus on the sheer awesomeness of graduate school in general.
The people here are among the most eager to learn I have ever met. Even my statistics professor – and I’ve had some pretty awful statistics experiences in the past – explicitly stated that he “[doesn’t] care about the grades. I just want to make sure you’re grasping the concepts.” When I mentioned the JVM and the concept of virtual machines to my classmate, his eyes widened and he wanted me to tell him more about this “magic”, as he said.
So I launched into a rather long-winded but incredibly enjoyable discussion with him on virtual machines and the different implementations, ranging from the Java Virtual Machine to the mighty VMWare Server (both of which I have installed and running on Ronon, my beast of a quad-core desktop :D).
This guy loved it. He absolutely loved it. I recalled a rather lengthy post in a community on a now-defunct LiveJournal-offshoot called Writer’s Rock where I went into a similarly lengthy and detailed discourse about the nuances and advantages of server virtualization (sadly, this entire website was lost to an unfortunate lightning strike that corrupted the MySQL tables…ANDREW = FAIL), and this talk was just as much fun.
The professors, the students, the faculty…they’re all full of life and zest and motivation to learn for the sake of learning. It’s contagious, it’s invigorating, and best of all, it’s freaking fun.
…provided, of course, that I actually survive all these intro classes.
To add to all the fun, I’ll be attending the IBM-sponsored Network Nights next week while they tour New York (obviously I will be visiting someone special as well 😉 ), so I’ll have the chance to showcase my brand-spanking-new-and-updated resumé and see how (potential) employers like it.
Hooooo boy. I could use some sleep.