college life

Through My Eyes

I like to post about exciting stuff. I try to post about insightful stuff. Unfortuantely, most of my life is neither, which does leave a gaping hole in my blog, since it is supposed to be about it. It’s also very hard for me to determine what happens in my life at the end of the day, so I figured I would take pictures all day and show you instead what my day is like. So, here are 60 pictures from Wed, Jan 21st. It’s actually a stellarly non-interesting day, and very not busy. Here’s what my iCal had for yesterday:

Time , Event , Location
9:00 AM – 9:50 AM , CS 106B lecture , Gates B03
10:00 AM – 10:50 AM, Phil 151 lecture , 260-113
2:15 PM – 3:05 PM , CS 103 lecture , Hewlitt 200
4:15 PM – 5:30 PM , EECS Colloquium, Gates B01
7:00 PM – 8:00 PM , How I Write , Hume
10:15 PM – 10:30 PM , Dorm Meeting ,

I definitely don’t go to everything on my iCal, but I guess I’ll let the pictures tell…

The most painful sight. I have class at 9:00 MWF and 9:30 TTh, so my alarm is set to 8:00 every morning.

To contrast, my roommate RJ doesn’t have class until the afternoon on TTh, and he only sometimes goes to 9:00 MWF. Today was not one of those days. Just a little envy.

The rest of my room. Standing from the door you see there looking in, our room is tall and narrow, and my bed is at the upper left corner. RJ’s is against the other wall to my left in the picture.

Walking down the hallway to communal bath in the morning. This picture is oddly fitting because when I wake up, my vision is blurry, and everything is far too bright. For those who’ve never had to be in a communal bath, I promise it’s not that bad. Unless someone parties too hard on Friday night, since nobody cleans all weekend.

Me in my sexy pjs with towel. This is the only picture you’ll get to consider the inside of the Lantana 3rd floor boys room.

After cleaning up a little, I go back to my dorm and turn on my computer to catch up on morning news and email. You’ll notice my super-ergonomic setup (which I’m currently enjoying. This way, I neither have to reach up with my wrists or curl over to see my screen. Thank you to the two separate parties who have so kindly bestowed me with free, unused stuff to form my keyboard/mouse setup.

I do eat breakfast, which is usually stolen from the dining hall the night before. You can see the sigg bottle my sister gifted to me, and which I use all the time. Add in an apple and pastry-ish thing with jam in it, and I’m set.

Here’s a typical look of what my screen would look like after getting to my later dailies. I’m an addictive Google Reader user (sorry Bloglines, but you didn’t work very well near the end), and I often have a magic card I’m looking up.

I take a second pass at the washroom to brush my teeth and pop in my contacts, and off to lecture. I leave about 10 mins before any class, so by 8:45, I’m prepping to go. I have this super-cool tiger-patterned bike strap so that my pants don’t get caught in my bike. I tore a nice hole in a pair of khakis before i got the strap, so I figure the dorkiness is worth the safety.

There it is. I literally won’t even go across the street without riding my bike. That’s not lazy, is it?

The hand grips wore off, and they actually got sticky after that, so I’d come away with black residue on my hands after riding. Now, I have blue tape which 1) prevents my gloves from being torn up by the stickiness and 2) makes it easier to find my bike.

I’m not exactly sure what they’re building, but on Serra, there’s been construction since the beginning of the year. They actually have a really cool mountain of dirt there.

This is CS106B, Programming Abstractions. When I said I have class at 9 MWF, I was half-lying, because this is actually the class that I’m section-leading this quarter. I come because I never actually took this course (got equivalent from AP CS AB) and because I get paid for it. I think there are something like 200 kids taking this class.

Today, my buddy is Molly, who I’m sure didn’t even know that I took this picture. I sit by other section leaders, and she, like me, greatly feared teaching this class. But we must all conquer our fears, even if our fears are just programming languages.

Jerry Cain teaches this class this quarter. He’s become infamous recently for teaching CS107, which was the first CS class I took here at Stanford. He’s an excellent, excellent lecturer, well-known for coming into lecture with just his hands in his hoodie, and teaching all of class and writing all of the code from memory. Jerry Cain didn’t learn C++. C++ is shaped around the thought patterns of Jerry Cain.

Naturally, I don’t actually pay attention to 106 lecture. Instead, I bring reading. Here’s a page out of Russell and Norvig’s famous Artificial Intelligence book, the textbook for the AI course I’m taking.

The Gates Computer Science building is just a bit away from the main quad, but this is a shot on my way to my next class. I’m on the east wall of the quad heading south, so you can see a little of it on the left hand side of the picture. Taking pictures while on a bike is dangerous; don’t try this at home, kids.

There’s the entrance to the Language Corner of the main quad, the southeast corner. Just next to it is the Intersection of Death.

And here is Phil 151, First-Order Logic, taught by Eric Pacuit (pronounced like a packet of paper). I’m kind of getting my butt kicked by this class, but it’s okay, because Eric’s a good lecturer, and I’m learning a lot. I sit in the front row, so I had to be really sneaky taking this pic.

My notes after 151. I don’t know what it means either.

This quarter, I actually have a huge gap around lunch MWF, from 11 to 2:15. It’s actually the first time ever, I think, that I haven’t had a 1:15 class. Since I had so much time, I took a trip to check my PO box. There’s a nice dedicated post office just off of White Plaza, so it’s not at all inconvenient to get to.

Everyone rides bikes, and there are definitely some people with some very bizarre bikes. This one is maybe about 25% weird. Other famous non-car vehicles include a motorized bike, a lot of parents with a tandem for their kids, one segway guy, weird twisty/gyrating skateboard things, a trumpeting unicyclist, and the jogger.

=( Apparently I wasn’t even good enough for a credit card offer this week.

This is Escondido Road on east campus. It is the home to approximately 20 dorms of approximately 100 undergrads each, so about 1/3 of undergrads live here (origin of those numbers is debatable). Lantana, my dorm, happens to be one of them. Cedro, my dorm last year, was also one of them.

I arrive back in my room right around 11, where RJ is still in pre-morning shower mode. I’m actually a little dissatisfied with these breaks because I don’t have the will to be productive during them. I actually prefer my life when all events are jammed next to each other. It’s a little precarious to make it to everything, but it does mean that I don’t waste 5-10 minutes here and there.

Across the hall are two more sophomores, Alex and Leland. You can see Leland there, being cool. I think we have a somewhat unique situation for Lantana, as both my and their rooms usually have open doors. At any time, we have a straight shot to talk, and I can appreciate Leland’s playlist.

Checking email. I usually keep my inbox pretty clean (<10 messages), and I don't use a notifier or keep my email open all of the time. I find it messes up my productivity. But yes, I have all of my mail forwarded to gmail, so that's my email client. I probably do do enough of a majority of my email from one computer to justify using Mail or Outlook, but gmail is just so slick and portable, I've never found a reason to change. Don't scrutinize the contents of my inbox too much. There might be a potential breach of privacy, so pretend you can't see details.
Here’s something I read during this break. I won’t divulge too much about it, but it’s related to something I’ve mentioned in my blog recently.

Leland come to visit. We’re constantly walking back and forth to see what the others are up to.

Lantana is shaped like a T. I’m in the upper-right hallway, on the bottom side of it. The rest of my draw group is in a triple at the very bottom of the T. It is the designated hang out room, so I spend a lot of time in there. That’s Jordan, our resident video-watcher. He’s an excellent filter for internet content, because if he recommends it, that’s a guarantee that I don’t want to see it.

Relative to the T, the triple is shaped like a L turned 90 degrees clockwise. Jordan has his corner near the door at the bottom, the elbow is where the TV and futon are, and Tom and Ben are in the right-hand part of the room.

Tom is playing Starcraft. This is actually a very new thing (new being this quarter) to have people playing Starcraft again. What is obscured largely in this picture are diet pepsi cans. I think I picked the perfect angle in which you can’t see them as they are everywhere else. No exaggeration.

And of course, we play Magic. That’s Ben, shuffling up. Most of the guys had gone to eat lunch at 11:30 when they open, but Ben was going to meet a Cedroid (dormmate from last year) for lunch at 12:15, so he and I waited. You can see the new futon on the left. Our last futon was somewhat broken. If you tried to flatten it out, it would sink in the middle. And it couldn’t even make it to sit all the way up. Now that I think about it, it was completely broken, because it failed to satisfy either of a futon’s two functions.

Us playing. We played maybe 3 games in about a half-hour, which is about normal, with a little deck-revision at the end.

This is Manzanita Dining. I’m standing just in front of the register, so except for drinks, cereal, and bread just at the edges of hte picture, that’s the size of the dining area. It’s all buffet-style, for better or worse.

Wednesday lunch is popular because it is pizza and …

falafel wrap day. Manz has it’s ups and downs, but on average, it’s quality.

That actually doesn’t look nearly as delicious as in real life. It may be slightly related to the fact that I took two bites out before I remembered to take a picture.

From the left, that’s Aaron, James, and Ben. Just out of frame is Folake, a dormmate from last year, and one of the most perpetually excited people I know. Usually, it only takes maybe a half hour to eat lunch, but we were enjoying talking so much, we were there for maybe an hour before leaving.

Here’s what my 3rd virtual desktop looks like. The thing that IM and iTunes have in common is that they’re most useful open, but not visible. I can keep firefox or whatever open in my 1st screen, and flip to this one when I need to. And yes, that is my Disney soundtrack. I promise that I’m actually 19, even if I listen to Disney, eat jello, and have juice boxes in my fridge. So there’s some more time-killing between 1:15 and 2:15. When I can’t recall what I did, it means that it was certainly unproductive.

I head back across to the Hewlitt building, close to the Gates building. There’s a pseudo intersection there, with the Hewlitt and Packard buildings on one side, and Gates and Gilbert on the other. I have no idea who Gilbert is named after.

CS103, taught in Hewlitt 200, probably the largest regular classroom and one of the highest occupancy rooms on campus. This is “Mathematical Foundations of Computing” and is currently covering logic, which I did last quarter in Phil 150. You probably don’t care about the details, but basically, the class is huge because of a huge curriculum change in the CS department just this year. It’s taught by Robert Plummer (no, not my high school drum major and Stanford grad student; another Robert Plummer), who is a good lecturer. He’s pretty old, but he still talks strongly and is pretty robust.

Went to high school with Frank, and he’s in CS103 as well. As I mentioned, the lecture is big, so this is the first time I’ve seen him this quarter.

On my right, from closest to farthest, are Lucas, RJ, and Leland. Large class = lots of company.

A different look at the size of the class. Perhaps things are better at other private universities, but I’ve noticed that class sizes at Stanford aren’t really small. There’s a lot of faculty, but I don’t think they all do a lot of teaching. Add in that quarters mean that students can take 1.5 times the number of classes as most and that many classes are only taught once a year, and class sizes aren’t <10. Tragedy, but most good interaciton with faculty is outside of the classroom anyways.
I had talked to a couple people about playing racquetball that day, and I made the mistake of scheduling them consecutively. I got ready for racquetball before 103 lecture and went straight to the courts. The courts are actually a new addition and are thus housed in basically a separate building attached to a larger gym. Only 4 courts, but as long as it doesn’t get popular, that’s not a problem. I first play with Nico and Dan starting around 3:30, and finish 2 games of cutthroat with them.

By the time Ben gets there at 4:30, I’m already really tired and ready to quit. I was having way too much fun though and kept on playing.

Ben and I both started at the beginning of last quarter, and I think we’re roughly equal in skill. That day was really unusual, though, as Ben was cold, and I was really tired. Playing those other games, though, got me exactly in the right mindset and motion to play, and my kills were low and my passing shots landed right in the corner. We played until maybe 5:15, at which point I was dead tired.

Went back to Manz dining, so there’s a shot at the salad bar. Yeah sneeze guards…

The middle station is usually stuff made right in front of you (like falafel wraps or panini), but for dinner, it was pasta. Since cooking this summer, my appreciation for pasta has decreased, and I certainly wasn’t willing to wait for it.

The round tables are somewhat less convenient than the long tables from last year. I don’t think it encourages mingling as much, and it’s awkward when the last person can’t fit in. Numbers were okay, at this point, though, so going clockwise from my left, RJ, Jordan, Dave, Kenan, James, and Leland. Mealtime conversations can be weird. The only topics I can remember coming up were MILFs and GILFs, so yes, weird.

There’s dinner. Salad, vegetable pot pie, and a chunk of chicken. The first 90% of my meals are usually a nice tasting of various parts. By the end, though, I get lazy and just mix everything together and hope that the combination is good. It all ends up in the same place, right?

After dinner, I did my reading for moral philosophy. The excerpt was two chapters on utilitarianism by John Stuart Mill, and although it was only a couple pages, it took me an hour and a half to finish. Not only was the content dense, Mill just has a weird writing style. It’s not really old English, but the sentences are really long. He tends to, at completely inappropriate moments that don’t make sense, cut up his sentences, which could easily be 2 or 3 separate thoughts, by interjecting phrases and clauses between, say, the subject and the verb, so it, although perhaps similar to how we talk, makes it really hard to follow and maintain a single line of thought.

As I was finishing my response paper around 8:30, George came by to visit. He was in our draw group, but ended up taking a year off to work instead. He’s just off campus, though, so he visits Lantana a couple times a week. We talked for another hour and a half about random things, though primarily about games and the inauguration. I recommend that if you can, you watch the Family Guy clip about “Aladdin 4: Jafar May Need Glasses.” It’s one of the most hilarious clips, I think.

As dorm president, I’m responsible for determining food for house meeting and leading house meeting. That sounds impressive and time-consuming until I also add in that 1) I actually just tell the RAs what I’m feeling that week and they drive to get the food and 2) I go to visit the RAs just before house meeting (around maybe 10:05) to ask them what I’m supposed to say. And of course, the RAs go to house meeting as well, so my position is largely worthless. But I try.

Food this week was Dominoes pizza, which was a large part in boosting attendance to perhaps a Lantana-high of almost a third of the dorm! It was gone very quickly, but I can’t think of a better use for dorm funds. Maybe we should just blow it all to go to Vegas for a weekend…

We didn’t get drinks for house meeting, but fortunately, Tom brought some Cactus Cooler back from SoCal. Excellent pop, and highly recommended if you end up in that area.

There was some unproductivity after house meeting, such as this shot of us watching videos online. I think that’s the timewaster for my generation of college students.

I finally get into bed at 12:06, which is pretty normal, I think.

I’ve been reading Robert Heinlein’s “Time Enough For Love” before sleeping, and it’s really quite good. My copy is very old, and it broke right down the middle, though I guess that means I only have to hold half a book open to read it. While I think some parts of his writing is compelling, I’ve also realized that all of his books are the same. There’s typically a pragmatic, somewhat rude, perceptive older male as the main character, and all of his books definitely have a political message in there. Starship Troopers really emphasizes his belief in a meritocracy, and all of his future societies believe in ultimate sexual freedom and a kind of no nonsense frontier style method of living.

I clearly enjoy it quite a bit anyways, though, as I read for about an hour before finally kicking it.

So this has taken me far longer to write than I thought it would (almost 2 hours?), but if nothing else, it’s been fun for me to take a step back and look at what I’m doing with my life. I don’t think I changed what I did in a day because I knew I’d be putting it all up on the internet, but I certainly don’t make any promises about my unconscious. Anyways, I hope it was interesting enough for you as well to make it all the way to the end!

2 replies on “Through My Eyes”

I enjoyed this blog post … and am a little surprised that it only took 2 hours. I must spend more time editing photos down than you did. (The largest photos I have are from a 10MP camera).

The classes and biking around campus are pretty standard … if the weather permits it.

It occurs to me that I haven’t had to endure cafeteria food for very long. When I was in university, Grandmother’s house was closer to my classes than living on campus, so (a) I’ve always had home-cooked dinners, and (b) I would usually pack a sandwich for lunch, if I wasn’t at home.

Now that I’m a working person, but assigned as mobile — which means that I haven’t had a cubicle since the early 1990s — lunch at home is fairly regular. It’s a bonus to go into the office, because there’s a Taiwanese mall next door that has an excellent selection of Asian cuisines, all vary cheap.


Actually came across your blog googling for Jerry Cain (the awesome awesome CS Professor) and yet can’t find his “space” on the web. (And I thought I was somewhat better off than most at googling)

But I did find an (equally) awesome blog!
Keep up the good work!

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