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Purdue Graduate School ('04-'05) - Semester I

Not having had enough of Purdue and Computer Engineering in general, I decided to continue with my education. The end goal, at least right now, is to be a professor. Of course, that involves spending even more time in class, which isn't always an appealing thought. Then again, I'm spending more and more time doing research and education-oriented tasks as time progresses.

EE 608 - Computational Modles and Methods

Ouch. That's about all I have to say regarding this class. I had the same professor as I did for ECE 369, which was nice in many respects. Sadly we spent more time analyzing algorithms than actually writing them. Since analyzing algorithms involves really annoying amounts of math (boring math, at that), I didn't do as well as I should have. Still, the notes that I'm taking away from the class will undoubtedly be useful in the future.

EE 565 - Computer Architecture

This class was essentially a continuation of 437, taught by the same professor. The first part was review and really nice for those of us that did our undergrad at Purdue. After getting everyone on the same page, we dived into out of order execution, branch prediction, and all sorts of other fun things. Just like the previous class, this one was awesome. I learned an incredible amount about computer architecture while reaffirming the fact that this is something that I really enjoy doing.

BAND 110 - Marching Band

This year I took a "sabbatical" of my own, deciding to not audition for a student leader position. It turned out be a bit more relaxing in some respects and more challenging in others. The challenging part was just that, challenges. Not having done them for the past two years, I had forgotten how much physical effort they actually take. But, I survived. I also joined the Operations office this year, a group of people basically responsible for making sure the marching band runs without problems. That provided yet another source of fun and entertainment.

Our away trip this year was Illinois, and was definitely enjoyable - especially since we won. A small Pep Band also went to Notre Dame, which I was privileged enough to be part of. That too was fun, and we once again kicked ass :). Unfortunately the season went a little downhill shortly thereafter. It was still a blast, as usual. I'm convinced that as long as I'm here at Purdue I will continue to march with the Purdue "All-American" Marching Band.

As you may have figured out by now, this year Purdue returned to the Sun Bowl for a record third time. That's right, three times! I'll admit that I was concerned about how entertaining the trip would be, since I had done it twice before. As it turned out, it wasn't bad at all. In fact, I had a great time. Following tradition, here are some excerpts from the journal that I kept...

Who would have thought? Three times!! Incredible. I'm not sure that's the word I would use, but we'll leave it at that nevertheless. I should point out that this entire journal is being written after the fact, as I had just so much fun that I didn't have time to pull out my laptop and type away. Err, yea...

Regardless, this year they approached the trip slightly different from years past, since we would be departing on the morning of the 28th. Indeed, we had a meeting at 9pm the prior evening where I actually don't remember a word that was said. Quite frankly, after you've done it twice, it's kind of hard to change it to the point where one doesn't have a good idea of what's going on. The meeting over, I returned to my girlfriend's for the evening and prepared to depart the following morning.

This year's trip rivaled the first Sun Bowl in fun. I'm serious, it was actually enjoyable for almost the entire time. There were the usual annoying occurrences, but all in all it was good. On to the trip!

The flight itself was quite entertaining. Security, as usual, took an ungodly amount of time to get us on the plane. Once that was done though, I sat in the back with Michelle, Sarah, and others. Apparently I caused some problems with the stewardess. Not real problems, more like joking problems. We went back and forth for pretty much the entire flight, much to my own entertainment as well as others'. We had a "tasty" omelet for our meal, and finally arrived in El Paso.

In glorious Sun Bowl fashion, we were once again welcomed into the airport by the traditional Mariachi Band. I'm relatively certain that if I were to compare pictures of previous years we'd see many of the same people in the band (the Mariachi Band, that is). In fact, I'm convinced that I recognized the guy who appeared to be "in charge." I was on Flight 1 both ways, which ultimately turned out to be nice. I got to get there ahead of half the band and (theoretically) had time to eat food. Actually, as it turned out I did. However, since I am now part of Operations, it was a bit delayed. Nothing like tasty KFC. For this trip we were on our own for almost every meal. This resulted in a reasonable amount of Perdium (cash from Purdue). Surprisingly, it all disappeared somehow. I'm not sure how that happened.

After a slightly rushed lunch it was off to rehearsal at the same high school parking lot that was used for the past two trips. Is it bad when you know where the bus needs to turn to get there? The rehearsal wasn't too bad for a first bowl rehearsal. Challenges, as usual, sucked. Admittedly, after being a student leader for two years and not having to partake in the challenge block, I'm still having difficulty adjusting. We ran pregame and halftime which, incidentally, were reversed for the actual performance due to "timing constraints." It worked out well ultimately, though.

Rehearsal over with it was off to Cattleman's again. Even after two prior visits the place still readily provides entertainment. The evening was spent with some of my friends, namely Sarah, Michelle, Scott, Steve, and Andrew. We began by wandering around and observing, once again (for all of us but Scott and Andrew), all of the caged animals. Then it was on to the traditional hay ride. It was quite entertaining, considering a large number of the Altos essentially took over most of the trailer. We visited the dilapidated movie set and discovered a new rule had been put in place. We were no longer permitted to climb on things! In years past many had climbed atop the fake tanks, helicopter, and other objects. Sadly, not this year.

Once our trip into the desert ended we returned for dinner. Being that we were early and dinner was not to be served for another thirty minutes or so, some of us (including myself, hence the "us") got a drink. I had a tasty long island iced tea. Once some of that had been consumed we headed out and got in line for food. This year, I should note, they switched to a "ticket system" since in years prior we had been screwed out of meals for some of the band members (or some had taken more than one meal, it's hard to be sure). Our food obtained we quickly (except for Michelle and Scott, who may have been having a contest to see who would finish last...we're not sure) consumed it and then resumed wandering the grounds.

Our first line of business: find the Indian Maze so that Scott, who somehow miraculously escaped the second Sun Bowl courtesy a family wedding, could experience its grand simplicity. Hah. Finding the maze was half the journey. That task accomplished, we all became unquestionably lost for a period of time inside the maze. It should be noted that there is a circular section near the center of the maze that is just that, a circle. We traversed it at least twice before escaping. That is, three of us escaped. At which point, we fearlessly returned to rescue the others. Incidentally, one of the first things we found was that damned circle again. Traveling it for the third time, Michelle suggested in a manner that resulted in a great deal of laughter that we do it again. I'm not sure what the thought process was, but I can imagine at least one adverse factor that might have influenced it. Finally, having experienced the Indian Maze in all of its glory, we continued wandering.

This year, we discovered something new. Well, not necessarily new, but at least appealing in the sense that it had never been explored before. That is, a playground. Indeed, what a spectacular playground it was. There were numerous tunnels almost too small to accommodate us, but that of course failed to stop anyone. We ran around for a while exploring, and eventually found an obscure room accessed by one small tunnel. It was at that point deemed the Alto Fort and shortly thereafter came under siege. Fending off the siege, the only casualty was a shoe. I have a picture of that shoe and incidentally, the Fort. It was eventually retrieved (the shoe, that is). Having abandoned the Alto Fort and recovered the shoe, we proceeded to the monkey bars where the guys made valiant, and arguably successful, attempts at hanging upside down on them in grand grade school fashion while pictures were taken. In retrospect, we may have actually visited the playground once before. That, surprisingly, I have difficulty recalling.

Regardless, in traditional child-like style we shortly became bored with the playground and decided that we had not had enough of the desert yet. And so, in what could easily be one of the stupidest things that we've all done in our life, we headed back out onto the trail that the hay ride had followed earlier. Except it was now dark, and there was no hay ride. It should also be noted at this point that earlier we had heard what we thought were Coyotes (elegantly termed "Hyenas," because we know they're native to Texas too ;-)) earlier that evening. Having wandered a considerable distance out into the desert, we once again heard them. This resulted in Michelle, Sarah, and admittedly myself turning around and heading back to the ranch. However, I shortly changed my mind and we attempted to convince them to continue. That having failed, we began the walk back to the ranch. Along the way, I managed to sneak up behind Sarah and do an excellent job of frightening her. Everyone was entertained.

Finally we returned to the ranch, avoided the main entrance, and wandered back to the main area. Just in time, as it turns out, as they decided to load the busses early and depart. This year they did not have Karaoke (thank God), so once dinner had ended many were ready to return to the hotel.

Having awoken and eaten breakfast, we once again headed off to rehearsal, where things once again went relatively well. Probably a bit worse than the previous one, but *shrug*. I found the rehearsal more physically challenging than usual, and I'm fairly certain why. Rehearsal concluded we were set loose in the local area to get some lunch. Kelly, Ashley, and Shelley and I wandered over to a "Sonic" fast food place which was really more suited to drive-ups than walk-ups. They also seemed to be relatively understaffed for the occasion. However, barring a few minor mistakes with the order, we got our food in time to eat it and return to the busses.

On the busses once again, we changed into our blazer uniform and headed out to Mesilla, New Mexico. Mesilla is what we could easily be called a small tourist trap. Upon arrival we gave a brief concert at their town square, for which we later received numerous complements. That completed, we were unleashed on the town. Kelly, myself, Ashley, and Steve proceeded to wander from store to store until I eventually went mad (I can't handle shopping) and took off on my own for a while. Miraculously I caught back up with them and we made dinner plans at a restaurant called "La Postal." The service there was astounding, especially considering the massive number of band members assaulting the establishment. The food wasn't half bad either. I ordered steak, avoiding the Mexican food, which I have difficulty stomaching anyway. Dinner complete, we shortly thereafter returned to the busses and then the hotel. At that point people were optionally permitted to go to "Grahm Central Station," an endeavor that had taken place during the first Sun Bowl. Kelly, feeling ill, decided to remain at the hotel and I thus accompanied her. Somewhat regrettably, it sounded like the individuals that went had a most entertaining time. However, I wasn't feeling incredibly well either, and as the following days would prove, remaining at the hotel was the better decision. We ordered room service, and I had a tasty slice of cheesecake while kicking Kelly's Cell Phone's ass at a game of chess. The evening near an end, I returned to my room and went to sleep. Not before two of my roommates stumbled into the room drunk, I might add. One of them incidentally somehow managed to break one of the glasses on his way to the bathroom to get a drink of water. The entire debacle was amusing the next day, but I was tired at the time of the occurrence and not entirely pleased.

And thus our primary performance requirements began. The day started with another morning rehearsal, which solidified the show in everyone's mind. We then departed for downtown El Paso for the traditional battle of the bands, which for the second time actually had people (and the other band) there! That performance complete, we returned to the hotel for a couple of hours. We had lunch which, incidentally, was interesting by itself. We ate at a nice pizza place which had delicious cheese stick-like pizza, where parked outside was a truck filled with private medical documents. You know, the folders that they use at doctors offices? I was disturbed, and thus had Kelly take a photograph of me standing in front of the vehicle. That incident complete, we returned to the hotel and dressed for the evening performances.

Our first stop for the afternoon, the traditional Boilermaker pep rally. Although, not as traditional as one might expect. They did things differently this year, having only a short period of time where there were speakers. They also had the football players out and about interacting with fans, which appeared to be nice. We arrived and played some tunes for everyone and then headed outside to sit around for a bit until our next performance.

On to the main event, we arrived at the Fan Fiesta and marched out to the football field in the mountains. It was a long march, one where I made every conceivable error in terms of marching and horn moves. I still don't understand what I was doing, but everyone else seemed to find it funny. This year, sadly, there were no giant pigs of death floating over the Fiesta. Wells Fargo was no longer the sponsor. On the plus side, the bugle corps that was there last year and played forever was also missing. After trading tunes back and forth with the other band, there was an almost impressive fireworks display, less the finale. They also distributed interesting glasses, which distorted light in very interesting geometric patterns. Our entire rank ended up marching out wearing them. It was definitely amusing.

Finally we returned to the hotel, where I packed up all of my stuff in preparation for the following day. Being a member of operations, I was required to get up ludicrously early the next day to ops-like stuff, which really meant I could have slept another hour and everything would have been perfectly fine. Packing done, it was off to bed.

As I mentioned above, I got up ludicrously early and did essentially nothing productive for about an hour. At that point I assisted in the loading of luggage and herding of stupid people. That complete, we headed off to the third Sun Bowl.

Upon arrival we went to our seats, set up seating, and then had lunch. It was a delicious lunch, composed of KFC chicken strips and other tasty things. I should also mention that there was a relatively insane religious person asking everyone if they trusted in Jesus as they walked by, and as we did so, a Jewish member of the band pointed out that he was, in fact, Jewish and that he did not trust in Jesus. The response was fairly unintelligible, mostly due to the fact that we failed to understand what words were actually spoken. Regardless, it provided a topic of conversation for the remainder of the day.

Finally, game time arrived. Of course, in spectacular bowl fashion, our team sucked the entire first half (except for a nice safety). Then we came back, and then we lost. Just like the last two out of three bowl games. Bah. Oh well, the trip was still fun.

The game over, we loaded the semi, boarded the busses, and took off to the hotel. We stayed there for a short period of time before Flight 1 people departed. At that point it was discovered that the charter service had decided to try and save money by not having people there to load our luggage. Since most ops people where on Flight 1, we all rushed through security and did it for them. That complete, the flight itself was uneventful. Once we got back to Elliott we unloaded everything, checked in our uniforms, and took off. Another bowl was complete, and although it was the same as two prior, it was still an experience. It is always an honor and privilege to serve with the Purdue "All-American" Marching Band.