Created by Magical Gnomes!

Purdue Junior Year ('02-'03) - Semester V

How much busier can my life get? This semester not only did I take a large number of classes, I also had two jobs. I worked at the Division of Financial Aid as a peer counselor, and I was also an undergraduate lab assistant for EE 364. And yes, everything does get worse as you get into higher level classes :-)

NUCL 200 - Introduction to Nuclear Engineering

This class was cool. Really cool. The best part was, though, that it wasn't challenging at all. The homework was very straightforward, as were the tests. We used some of our chemistry background from freshman year and launched into an overview of the nuclear engineering field. We learned how nuclear reactors functioned, the reactions involved, and a bunch of other things. We even took a brief period of time to discuss nuclear fusion, which was by itself incredibly interesting. The professor was great too. She was really friendly and seemed fairly knowledgeable with respect to the entire field of nuclear engineering. This class almost caused me to consider switching majors...almost, but then I remembered that I like Chemistry by itself more and computers even more.

MUS 361 - Music Theory I

I wasn't entirely sure what to expect from this class, but I'm definitely glad that I took it. We had a really nice professor, who incidentally also played the alto saxophone. That was really cool. He brought it in one day and did some improvisation for us all. To top all this off, I actually learned useful things about music in here. I still don't know my key signatures though. Hehe. That's what I get for memorizing scales by muscle movement. I can sure derive them fast from the circle of fifths now, though. We even started playing the piano in this class, sort of. I think I'll try again this summer to find a teacher so I can learn to play the piano. It really strikes me as something that would be really fun to do.

EE 368 - Data Structures

This class covered all sorts of data structures, using C as the language of implementation. It actually turned out to be incredibly useful and informative. We learned about MST's, B-Trees, the Huffman algorithm, hash tables, and all sorts of other weird things. Unfortunately the professor was horrible. I found myself relying almost entirely on the book, and it really degraded the overall experience of the course. Ah well, I guess that happens on occasion. It's still information that comes in really handy when writing programs.

EE 301 - Signals and Systems

Wow. Just wow. I never, in my entire life, thought that I would see so many imaginary numbers. Never. Our professor for this class was really excited; she was like the "Martha Stewart of EE." We covered some really odd things, mostly the Fourier and LaPlace Transforms with respect to signal analysis. I've always hated analog classes. This one was no exception, but the professor at least made it entertaining. I'll never forget sitting in class, looking up at the board, and laughing with my friend next to me as we both observed imaginary numbers and integrals scattered all over the place. It just isn't something that I would have ever expected to see. The most disturbing thing is that I actually understood the material more than some of the previous analog courses.

EE 362 - Microprocessor Systems and Interfacing

Ahh, back to digital land. This class was outstanding. After a brief review of EE 270 from last semester, we launched into assembly language and microcontroller interfacing. It was really a great experience. Assembly language rules. The labs were especially great; since the prelab was basically "do the lab." We'd bring it in, load it onto the Motorola 68HC12, and show the TA that it functioned correctly. Once that was done, we'd leave. My only downfall in this class was that I decided to completely ignore timing analysis for a while, and that kind of hurt in the long run. Ah well, it was still a great class. The professor wasn't too bad either.

BAND 110 - Marching Band

The marching band saga continues. This year I was an Assistant Section Leader in the Purdue "All-American" Marching Band. Disturbing, huh? In some respects that made my life slightly easier. In most respects it made it more difficult. Looking back on the last two years, I never really understood how much stuff the student leaders had to deal with. I definitely do now.

Anyhow, this year Doc returned from sabbatical, so I thought everything went a little better in general. We put on a bunch of great shows and had a lot of fun as usual. Our football team this year was interesting. They could have done so much better than they did, but it just didn't work out. I suspect next year will go much better.

This year we went to Notre Dame for our away trip. That was interesting, right up until the point where we lost. Ah well.

Regardless, we ended up going to a bowl game again, which of course was fun as usual. Ironically we went to the Sun Bowl for the second time. Once again I kept a limited journal of what happened during the trip, and I've included excerpts of it in the following paragraphs.

Well, here we are once to the Sun Bowl. Imagine that! This year I got off to a *much* better start. There were no initial disasters, and everything seemed to generally run smoothly. We took two flights out of the Purdue airport instead of the DC-9 or DC-10 that we took out of Indianapolis last year. Apparently they needed a certain quota of people to fly out of there in order to get the million or so dollars of federal money.

The flight itself was alright, it was sort of annoying though since I got separated from the rest of the people in my room as well as most of the people that I consider friends. Regardless, it was still entertaining. We had the same Mariachi Band from last year, but they greeted us inside the airport instead of on the tarmac this time. After watching them for a while, we boarded the busses and took off to our hotel. Surprisingly, we stayed in a different hotel this was either right next to or one hotel away from the one that we stayed at last year. It had an indoor and outdoor pool and everything, along with a dining room large enough to feed the entire band. That was a considerable improvement over last year in that we could actually eat meals as a group at the hotel room this year.

After they arrived it was down to dinner. Dinner was fairly good...the food tasted great, but they didn't give us very large portions. I ended up going back for seconds. Anyway, during dinner the altos sat in the back corner of the room as always. It was most interesting. We started out throwing the little star decorations on the table at each other, and then moved on to sucking helium out of balloons. The other table somehow managed to explode a can of sprite, which the balloons were anchored to. It was hilarious. After dinner we had a brief meeting where people discussed random things (mostly "security").

At that point we returned to our rooms, Matt and I went back downstairs to pick up Sun Bowl attire that we had ordered, and then we returned back once again. We went to Traci's room (which is also where Sarah, Whitney, and Caitlin were staying) and decided that we all wanted to go get ice cream. We went outside and wandered over to Denny's where we all ate ice cream.

That being done we returned to the hotel room and rented a movie, "Joy Ride." Actually, not rented but checked out as a free "courtesy" rental. It was entertaining in a "how could that movie have been made" kind of way. Once it ended, we went off to bed.

The next day sucked mostly because I had a cold and wasn't feeling all that well. Regardless, we had rehearsal in the morning, which went fairly well. After that we went back to the hotel, ate lunch, and went on over to the same ranch we had visited last year. It was a fairly fun time; we wandered around and saw animals initially, and then went on the traditional hay ride.

We had the wonderful steak dinner and then once again proceeded to watch the fools sing karaoke. This year the altos did not sing, thankfully.

Once that was finished, we went back to the hotel and we started to watch "Blazing Saddles" in the room, but Joe called and everyone decided to go down there to finish watching it. Both Chad and I stayed in the room because I was horribly sick, and he wasn't feeling well either.

The following day went somewhat better, I felt a little better and rehearsal went really well in the morning. After rehearsal ended (well, keep in mind that for the past couple of days they've been scaring us about Mexico and how you don't want to bother the INS and how things can be dangerous...blah, blah, blah) we ate a tasty lunch in the high school band room and headed off to Mexico.

Mexico was, well to say the least, humbling. There was a wide spectrum of people there, ranging from homeless people to individuals in suits. The environment was just so notably different than what I'm used to in the United States. It really makes you stop and think about how lucky one is to live in this nation. Anyway, we (Traci and I) wandered around for an hour or two...mostly following other medium sized groups of people from Purdue. We ran into a group of altos smoking Cuban Cigars and such, and eventually went back to the US. At least I can say I've officially been to Mexico now.

Once that was all done, everyone went back to the hotel and then the student leaders had a pep band to do for the Alumni at La Hacienda. That was interesting...we marched through the restaurant and ended up outside, where we played some tunes and entertained for 30 minutes or so. After that, back on the busses and then to the hotel again.

Upon arrival at the hotel, we had about 20 minutes to eat dinner (it sucked a lot) and then we were back on the busses going to a "Dance Club." I put that in quotes because it turned out to be a bar and grill, that hilariously enough said "Taste the Fun" on the side of the building. We (a good portion of the altos) left immediately and went to Walgreen's for a bit. After that we got back on the busses and returned to the hotel. Things improved at the Bar and Grill as time went on, or so I heard. People said that they cleared out the tables and others actually started to dance. Apparently the waiters were spraying whipped cream on the girls and either they or other band geeks were licking it off. That would have been most interesting to observe, I'm sure. It's a good thing that we returned to the hotel though. We got a chance to go to Applebee's and eat a real dinner. After that I think most of the people just went to bed. I did, seeing as I was still sick.

Waking up again, we noticed something was snowing outside. That was a little disconcerting. Luckily it stopped after a short period of time. Following breakfast we hopped on the busses and ran out to do a little Pep Rally or something, just like last year. The difference this year was that there were actually people there, which was good. Afterwards we had rehearsal in our blazer uniform. That was arguably unpleasant.

Next it was off to the mountains for another Pep Rally sort of thing. It lasted an obscene amount of time, but was full of entertainment. There was a bugle core that just wouldn't shut up. They kept going and going. Doc finally had the band just get up and leave. During the bugle core a giant pink pig air balloon inflated, and looked like it was slowly hovering towards us. It was one of the most hilarious things I've seen. It looked like something out of a bad horror movie. Once that finished it was off to La Hacienda again for dinner. That was fairly uneventful as well, and I still hate Mexican food. We finally returned to the hotel and went to bed in preparation for game day.

Ah, game day. The weather was great this day. The show also went quite well. The best part of all, though, was the fact that we actually won! The past two bowl games that I'd gone to we lost. It was a great, long, and tiring day. Once we finished up there we boarded the busses, then the plane, and flew back to Indianapolis. New Years happened on the bus at some point, and although everyone else was asleep, the altos weren't. We finally arrived at Purdue, and the Sun Bowl II trip was concluded.

All in all the trip wasn't too bad, although being sick definitely took away from the experience. I do say that I hope we don't go back to El Paso again though. Twice is more than enough for anyone, and there really isn't too much to do there.