The joys of another finals week

Another exam season is finished. They went ok for the most part, but to quote Stefan “I don’t think I’ve ever had a more pointless week of studying.” They weren’t very taxing tests, but those are the worst because they are the easiest to get heavily penalised for the stupid errors that are easy to make.

Propulsions on Tuesday had the most interesting final. 4 of the 5 questions were ok, but the 4th question was a bit of a puzzler. I spent about 2 hours on this one and just an hour on the other 4 put together. The question was about the shock waves in a diffuser at the front of Turbo jet engine, but the picture was a little bit odd. I got very confused. I looked at the picture upside down, back to front, sideways, I even faintly remember smelling it. Only when I turned the page upside down and back to front and held it up to the light that it made sense. The Vibrations exam was frustrating because the second question was something we hadn’t ever covered before. The Solids went pretty much like the rest of the course, easy and trippy. All done now though.

Last Thursday I went to see my friend Halee in the UCSD Woodwind Ensembles’ concert. Mum and Dad like to refer to them as ‘The Halle Orchestra’, but sadly not. The theme for this quarter was English Marches, so I was in my element! They started out with a piece by Vaughn-Williams, followed by ‘A Posy of Leicestershire Folksongs’ (which was very enjoyable) before finishing the first half with ‘Crown Imperial’. This is one of my all time favourites, and it was all I could do to not wave my arms about pretending to conduct this brilliant piece! It gets me right here, and makes me feel very proud to be British. They did a good job, but I have to say I thought they were playing just a little slow. Because of how much I loved it, during the interval I sought out the conductor/director/etc to thank him for picking that piece.

The second half featured favourites, such as the ‘Dam-Busters March’ and Holst’s ‘Woodwind Suite #2’. It was a terrific performance and I left feeling proud of being British and our history. They have none of that in America, and you do start to notice after a while.

The other thing you notice is that some people find it hard to have a conversation here. I was watching one of my favourite TV shows, ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’, the other day when this came up and it made me realise. One of the reasons some people don’t like talking is because they have nothing to talk about – they don’t do anything besides working. This last week has been particularly dull as lots of people have been stressing out about finals. I may have said this before, but everyone seems to be under so much pressure here. I don’t know if it’s from family or society, but I don’t think it’s healthy. Considering that finals are only worth about 40% of the overall grade (compared to 80-90% in Edinburgh) and are not very difficult if you’ve done the homework, I sometimes find it difficult to see why the whole world and his wife shuts down in finals week. To me, although the content is more advanced, the exams are almost like doing A-Levels again.

I’m looking forward to now being on holiday. Thursday was St. Patricks Day, so everything went gone green. People were wearing green shirts; green coats and lots of decorations were up in all the shops. This is another one of those times when I don’t understand it all! Crocodile Dundee was on in the evening, so I watched that, had a beer, sat back and relaxed. I like Crocodile Dundee.

Today I’ve had a relaxing day. I had planned to go swimming, but I never got around to it as I was feeling a tad lazy. After talking to the wonderful children this morning, I did my washing and paid my health insurance and lab fee for next quarter. I then went to the book store and was, as ever, thrown by the addition of sales tax at the checkout. If I buy something that says $20 or whatever on the price tag, it’s only reasonable in my opinion for me to think that I’m covered if I get a $20 note out. As it was, I needed to ferret around to try and find some change to cover the balance. Silly America. Flippin’ daylight robbery if you ask me! I neatly arranged my washing to dry, did some research on the internet for my latest slotting idea/project, and wound down the time until lunch. I made pancakes for myself and Omead, and I think he appreciated them. He liked them at any rate of course. Even if I do say so myself, I’m really making some fantastic pancakes at the moment!

After lunch, my apartment mate invited me to go on a hike in Torrey Pines National Park with him, his girlfriend and one of his girlfriends’ littles from her Sorority. I accepted, and we had a good laugh out and about, walking down the canyon paths to the beach. While me and Omead paddled in the ocean, the girls went to look at some of the rock pools. It’s all very interesting, the life on the beach. One could easily spend all day there. At about 5pm, after getting back to the car it was decided that it was worth a trip up to Encinitas. The traffic was bad, as it was ‘chucking-out-of-work’ time, but ere long we made it. The contemplation gardens which Omead’s girlfriend wanted to visit, or whatever they were called, had just shut as we arrived though. No matter. We drove past two boats that have been made into houses and are just plonked in between a couple of mansions on the side of the street. Only in America. It was getting late, so we just went into a Thai restaurant to get some dinner. It had been a very fun American day out.

Spring break now. Nice!

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