Thursday, March 24, 2011

I KNOW I can, I KNOW I can...

It's amazing how childhood books can still hold lessons and relevance for us today. Take The Little Engine That Could, for example. Almost everyone had this heartwarming tale read to them as a child - the story of a little engine who worked incredibly hard to pull a train up and over a large hill. But as it was read to you, you never thought that you were learning anything.

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can!

Now it's no secret that my first graduate semester has been a wee bit of a challenge. And on an emotional level, it's no secret that its been a wee bit of a challenge for me to come to terms that fact.

But just like the little engine, I've got an amazing support system to help me pull this train up my "academic hill". My mom, my best friend, who's always there to offer wise words - even with a three hour time difference.

And of course, Steven, my boyfriend. He deals with my "academic crazy" on a daily basis, but never gets frustrated (or at least doesn't appear so) and never stops believing that I can get through the semester. He's the perfect voice of reason, constantly reminding me to stop living in my head and just get things done! I don't know what I'd do without him.

I'm truly very blessed, and while I'm facing my first academic "hill" - I know I can chug-a-chug over it. It'll be a lot of work, but I can make it through. This semester may be a hurdle, but I'm learning a lot, and I can confidently apply those lessons to future semesters to make them easier.

Look out world, get ready to see me shine!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Engineers can be cute too!

So many of my female friends with blogs post a lot about their super cute outfits. Now, normally I don't put too much thought into what I wear - I've become a jeans and a T-Shirt type gal. But some days, I actually decide to put on something somewhat fashionable.

One of those days was today!

I don't know why really, but I felt like being cute today. Maybe it was the product training I was slated to do, maybe it was wanting to overcome the dreariness that is outside, or maybe I just wanted to prove that us engineers can also have some fashion sense.

Anyway, the highlight of the outfit, I think it my high-top red Chucks. Seriously. They're my new favorite thing ever - super comfortable and super nerdy!

In other news, I've got a new video posted, where you (yes you!) can learn to program your very own robot. Check it out!

And in final good news - my professor told us not to worry about our test scores. He does curve very generously, so we shouldn't worry about this test's effect on our grades. We just have to do very good on our projects. So good thing it's supposed to rain all weekend, because I need to put a lot of work into that!

Have a good weekend, interwebs! Me? I'm about to take the third part of my Numerical Analysis midterm. And guess what (big surprise) the teacher's late!

Wahoo...I just want to be done already. Sheesh.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wohn, wohn, wohn...

So I bombed my first test last night.

Like, really bombed.

And before you ask, no, this is not some Jessica-mentality where bombing a test means getting an 85%. I mean, I really, epically failed, like I'm hoping for a 65%.

Normal people bombing.

Needless to say, this is more than a little unsettling. As a person that has always been fantastic at school without really needing to try all that hard, this is an extremely humbling moment.

And not a humbling moment like when someone says they're 'humbled' by winning an Oscar. What? No. You're not humbled, you just won a frakkin' prestigious award. That's the opposite of humbling. The other guys who lost, they're humbled. Learn English.

Anyway, there are a myriad of explanations and excuses as to why I did poorly on this test. They're perfectly plausible, and I really shouldn't let this get to me so much. Allow me to take a minute and rant about some of them.

One - The professor mentioned that this would be primarily a design test, so that's what I prepared for. However, as it turned out, the majority of the questions were terminology based, which I hadn't worked on.

Two - I was stuck in traffic for an hour and a half before getting to the exam. And despite leaving work early anticipating a bit of traffic - only to be met with an enormous amount for no reason, I only made it to class with seconds to spare. I was frazzled, and therefore a bit off my game.

Three - I have a tendency to over-think situations, making them out to be more complicated than they are. One of my major flaws, if you will. So on the first part of the test, which I should have nailed, I ignored my gut instinct to cater to my over-thought logic. STUPID! And it will have cost me 15 points.

Four - During the last couple years of my college career, I was spoiled by teachers who allowed open book/open note tests. They realized that the value in engineering was not necessarily memorizing equations, circuits and timing diagrams, but rather knowing where to find the information and how to use them in applications. Definitely not the case for this class.

Now there are two ways I can think of this situation, My first instinct (and what I did a lot of last night) is to freak-out and beat myself up and wallow in my failures, whining about how this shouldn't be happening to me.

Or two, I can learn from my mistakes, focus on the positive, brush myself off and work my toosh off to prove myself and my mastery of the subject matter. After all, success builds character and failure reveals it, right?

So that's what I'm going to do. For example, regarding the first question I so stupidly missed, I will now forever remember that Disconnects A & B are disconnects with data transfers and Disconnects 1 & 2 are disconnects without data transfers. 

And even if he doesn't curve, and I end up needing to drop the class, it won't be the end of the world. Honestly, the course is becoming so specific that it really won't have any practical applications for me outside of the classroom, plus I'll have more time to focus on other things - like side electronics projects, improving my Spanish and exercising.

As the great Benjamin Franklin once said, "I didn't fail the test, I just found 100 ways to do it wrong." 

Everything in life is a learning experience, and me? I'm certainly going to learn from this one.

I can't be Wonder Woman every day.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Happy Anniversary!

Since I have my Microprocessor System Design I Midterm on Tuesday, most of this weekend was spent preparing for that. However, after studying for most of Saturday morning, Steven and I decided to get on our bikes and enjoy the gorgeous weather. We headed over to Fox & Goose Public House for some delicious brunch & Bloody Mary's.

When we got back from our bike ride, I got back to studying only to have a patented Jessica-Freak-Out-Moment.  For those of you not aware, these moments happen when I become increasingly overwhelmed with a class, reach a breaking point, think I'm not going to get an A, and therefore decide I can't do it. Thankfully, Steven seems well equipped to deal these freak-outs and he talked me down. (He's just so great!)

Even so, I decided to call it quits on the studying for the evening and just watch a movie.

The next day was our Three-Year of Dating Anniversary (yay)! Steven had to go into the stadium to work an event, which was OK because it gave me time to recover the time I'd lost due to my episode the night before. I put on my new thinking-touque and was ready to hit the books!

I am really quite fond of this hat. It's amazing.

In the light of the new day, my studying went much better, and I even knocked out part of our first project which isn't due until the 29th.

That evening Steven and I went to The Loving Hut for our anniversary dinner. It's a vegan restaurant that just opened in Sacramento in December. I know, you're thinking 'gross!' but oh my goodness it was so delicious! I had the Sauteed Green Beans & Tofu while Steven had the Kung Pow 'Chicken'. I highly recommend you try this place out. (No worries, it's not super fancy, Steven and I aren't really fancy people so we kept it low-key for our anniversary.)

Afterwards, we picked up some dessert to enjoy at home while I knocked out the last bit of my studying. I can honestly say now that I don't know how much more I can prepare for this exam. 

And when I usually feel that way, I ace it. Not to brag or anything, but it did work for my Numerical Analysis midterm.

...And that's just a great feeling!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Family Funtimes!

So my family just left this morning after five days of good times. My parents rented a gorgeous cabin in South Lake Tahoe in the Heavenly area. It was amazing, the living room and upstairs loft had a gorgeous view of the lake. Here's a picture that doesn't do it justice:

Anyway, we had a ton of fun. Here are some weekend highlights: Mollie fell off a cliff, Matthew got kicked out of the casino, and I made 30 cents at the same casino.


A good chunk of the trip was spent snowboarding at Heavenly, which was great except for Mollie falling off a cliff and having to take an unmarked trail back down. And then being lost for about an hour. Ohhhhh Molls. Here's a shot of the Uelmen clan on the lift, minus Mom since she didn't want to go. :|

But my mom and I got to spend some good quality time after I stopped whining about making vegetarian meatballs. Here's us cooking!

My Aunt Peggy & Uncle George also joined us, which of course made the trip all that much more awesome. We played this amazing game called 'Don't Drink and Draw' which was incredibly hilarious, and I highly recommend it.

Anyway, I was super glad to be able take a couple days off of work to spend time with my family. Miss them already!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Graduate School Triumphs/Woes

Today I just took my first graduate school midterm, and despite my professor's best efforts I nailed it! Well, if nailing means getting a 91%. The jury's still out on that one.

Anyway, let me take a minute and vent on how ridiculous this teacher is. First off, this course is meant to provide a means for people that work full-time to attend remotely if necessary. The class normally meets at noon on Tuesday & Thursdays, which as you can imagine is rather difficult for the working professional. Fortunately I have an amazing boss, and am able to attend most of the lectures.

There are, however, times where I just need to get things done at work, and I rely on the recorded lectures to keep up with the lecture. When I started the semester, I thought this was a great option.

However, I only found out about this test on Thursday in my other graduate class because someone happened to be talking about how many tests she had next week. Had this girl not been talking about that, I would not have known about the test, and would have planned to stay in Tahoe with my family for the day.

So I emailed the professor to see what the exam was on, and to politely point out that she had not mentioned this piece of information to the distance students. I also asked if there was somewhere else I should check for this information. She asked if I received an email about next Friday's test.

I didn't even bother telling her that wasn't the point.

Oh, and we can also submit our resume's for extra credit. And attend the Sacramento State Career Fair for extra credit.

The long and short of it is, I don't think this professor realizes she's teaching a graduate course. She treats everything like you're an undergraduate student. (For example, travel is not an acceptable excuse for missing a test.) And especially for a school that advertises how friendly they are to working professionals, that's just unacceptable.

Needless to say, I'll be having a word with the Dean at the end of the semester. Because if all teacher's are going to be like her, I may have to rethink my decision to continue my graduate studies at Sacramento State.

...But until then, nothing shall stop the Jessica Success Train!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Scribble My Name, Scribble My Name...

Since I apparently have gotten into the habit of posting the videos I do for work to my blog, I see no reason to stop now.

So here you have it folks, enjoy!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Nook vs. Kindle

As I mentioned in a previous post, for my make-up Christmas present, Steven got me a Nook Color. Since we're nerds, he also had everything ready so that we could root it.

For those of you that don't speak geek, rooting is the process of taking total control of your device. In this case, replacing the software written for the Nook with the Android OS. Basically, the Nook becomes an Android Tablet, which is like an iPad, but better.

I must say, I love my rooted Nook, it's been working flawlessly. The screen resolution is amazing, and the Android Market even listed the apps that I'd already purchased on my phone so that I could install them on my Nook without re-purchasing them.

Also, both Comics and Android Comic Viewer are awesome for reading comics. Unfortunately, Marvel doesn't sell to any Android apps, but there are still tons of great reads out there. I'm very excited to be able to get back into comics again - which is one of the main reasons I wanted a tablet.

However, I think it does fall short as an eReader. I will most certainly still use my Kindle for reading novels. The E Ink is just so much easier on the eyes and much more pleasant to read for longer periods of time. The LCD screen on the Nook isn't terrible to read on, but it is very difficult to read in sunlight and does hurt my eyes after awhile.

So if you are thinking of getting one over the other: I say if you're looking for a cheap tablet option, go with the Nook. But if you're primarily looking for an eReader, I honestly think the Kindle is the best option out there.