Archive for May, 2011


15 May 2011 at 5:09 pm
by Berck

Okay, here’s my route, for now. Who knows how well I’ll be able to stick to it. I’m hoping that Google link keeps working…

Preparations for Departure Mostly Complete

13 May 2011 at 8:07 pm
by Berck

I spent all of today and yesterday wrenching on Yoshiko. She now has new tires, a new chain, new spark plugs. Her timing, points, cam chain, valve tappets and brakes are freshly adjusted. She’s got new stock-sized jets so she can handle all that high-pressure sea-level air. I loaded her up this evening to see how packing would work, especially since I never found a luggage rack that worked:

I feel a bit like I’ve been run over by a truck since I’ve been crawling around on the concrete. But it feels good, and I’m confident that I’ve done everything I can do to make this trip go smoothly. Short of taking a 737, anyway.

I took a short test-ride, and everything felt great, especially the new tires and chain. It’s a lot more stable at speed now–not that I thought it felt bad, but there’s a noticeable improvement now that I didn’t know was needed or possible.

I’m cooking German food for Neal tomorrow evening, and I’m thinking I’ll leave Sunday, but probably not early. I wanted to spend the day with Jonah, but the extra day on the road is probably good insurance.

Another semester bites the dust.

11 May 2011 at 7:06 pm
by Berck

This one pushed me to the edge. I was worried I wouldn’t get through it. I may not have gotten through it with my 4.0 GPA intact. I just took my final final. Two of my grades have posted thus far: I have an A in Assembly Language as well as an A in Discrete Math. I keep hitting refresh on the grades page every half hour or so. I’m not sure why I care so much–I’ve always thought the carrot/stick method of education is a worthless way to go about the whole thing, but I suppose that’s the game I’m paying so much money to play.

I didn’t think I’d get an A in Assembly Language. I scored a 58% on the first exam and it put me in such a funk I seriously contemplating quitting school. After all, the airlines are slowly starting to hire–if I can fly, why do I need this crap? The professor is, in his own words, a cantankerous geriatric. I really thought I was going to enjoy the class–both the subject matter and the professor seemed promising. For once, a professor in the computer science department who not only knew more than I did, but professed to be a UNIX bigot. He even refused to accept homework e-mail submissions that contained HTML. I thought this would make him my kind of guy. Unfortunately, the lectures ranged from dull to excruciating, his grading was whimsical at best, and the work was nearly impossible. I finally decided not to worry about it, do my best, and accept the inevitable C (or maybe B if I was lucky). I went into the exams with an attitude of resignation and completed the assignments as best as I could. I scored an 88% on the second exam (which was heavily curved) and an 85% on the final exam (which may or may not have been curved). According to his emailed grade report, I achieved the highest score on the final exam, and my final average of 88% ranked me second in the class. He awarded two A’s: one to me, and one to whomever managed to score higher than me.

Calculus III also proved to be extraordinarily difficult. There were two sections of the class being taught this semester, and discussions with people in the other section have revealed that the two sections have little in common. The other section is being described as “an easy A”, whereas before the final in my section, I was only 5 people (of 40 or so) with scores higher than 90%, which is what’s required for an A-. I enjoyed the lectures, I found the professor to be quite competent, but her standards to be a bit unreasonably difficult. I spent, on average, 18 hours per week on the homework assignments alone. My average homework scores were in the neighborhood of 70%. I suspect that I did well enough on the final to merit an A-, but I don’t know if it’s enough to get an A. Annoyingly, UCCS doesn’t award A+, but an A- is only a 3.7 GPA.

My final final was in C++. This is the worst professor I think I’ve ever had. I learned next to nothing in the class, and I have no idea what my grade will be. I’ve gotten an A on everything so far, but I worry about the final. He assigns essentially essay questions (he has us write in a blue book!) for the exams. I initially scored a C on the midterm, but after I went and complained about the grading, he changed it to an A. Most of our grade is apparently based upon the term project, for which I was awarded a score of “96%”. No comments whatsoever about the project, the presentation, the demo, the coding, the user manual, the proposal… Just a “96%” written on my paper. Worthless.

But now I’m done, and I couldn’t be more relieved. I’m already dreading the summer a bit: I’m attempting Differential Equations, Linear Algebra and Computer Networking, all in 5 weeks. They tell me this is insane. I hope to prove to them that while I may be insane, I’m also competent. I’m a bit excited about Computer Networking: the book is written by Andrew Tanenbaum!

So, speaking of insanity, here’s the project I’m starting tomorrow:

Let the insanity begin...

As most of you know by now, my Dad is recovering from bypass surgery . He just got home from the hospital today, but is going to need a fair amount of help for the weeks to come. My sister is there now, and I’m planning on leaving in a few days to go stay with him at his new place in BFET. (East Tennessee)

I was planning on visiting before he found out he needed bypass surgery. For some reason, I got it in my head that the way to take this trip would be on Yoshiko. This isn’t exactly a rational decision, but I’m not getting any younger. As Ben said, “If you don’t do it now, when?” Good question.

I’ve been re-reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance in preparation for my journey. I last read it when I was 16, had never been on a real road trip, and certainly never a motorcycle. I suspect that the book is partially responsible for my choice of a small, 38-year-old Honda. I didn’t know until recently (as it’s not mentioned in the book), that Pirsig rode (and still rides) a Honda CB77, which is the precursor to the CB350.

I’ve been trolling the internets trying to figure out how to go about 1,300 miles on an old motorcycle, and ordering spare parts and travel gear on the internet. I was unable to secure a luggage rack for what I (well, Jonah) thought was a reasonable price, so I’ll be strapping a bag, tent, sleeping bag and sleeping pad to the rear seat/fender and hoping it works out. Tomorrow I’m going to attempt changing my own tires (the ones I’ve got probably wouldn’t make it that far) so that I’ll be able to fix a flat on the side of the road should I need to. I’ve also got things like a set of stock jets for the carburetor (mine’s been leaned out for the altitude), a new chain, and so on… Depending on how it goes, I could leave as early as Sunday, but won’t be leaving later than Monday. I’ve got dinner with Neal on Saturday, and I’m very much looking forward to that.

I’m in serious need of not thinking about anything school related for these few weeks.