Saturday, October 22, 2005

We're halfway there

Bon Jovi is coming to Seattle in March! I'm still bummed about not being able to see them on their "Slippery When Wet" tour in 1987. I was 12, and my parents thought I was too young to go.

I had to wait until I was 13 to go to my first concert, which was David Lee Roth and Poison at Pittsburgh's Civic Arena. The tickets were only $17.75. Dang. I'd still pay $17.75 to see Poison today.

I did finally get to see Bon Jovi in 1995 when I was in college, in L.A. I was a bit offended by the giant blow up dolls but I guess that's 80s heavy metal cheese for you...

I shouldn't be posting now. I'm in class. Unfortunately our instructor lectures about the same stuff that's in the reading, and I've taken enough writing courses that I've heard all of this stuff at least twice before. This isn't exactly a Technical Writing class as much as it is a general writing class. All of our assignment topics are about technical subjects, which at least gives me some practice writing for a technical audience.

We got our first assignment back today, graded. I got a B-. Boo. The good news is that I have a chance to rewrite it before handing in the final draft. The bad news is that I thought it was decent, and based on the instructor comments, now needs to be completely rewritten. It's his first time teaching the course and apparently we're his "Beta testers" so if the assignment writeups aren't clear, we're paying the price.

I'd be less cranky about this if I hadn't spent every day since 9/26 at work. Rewriting every assignment 3 times isn't something I was really counting on. On the other hand, I just wrote a paper comparing different programming languages and had a great time getting an overview of them via some web research and interviewing my friend Dave via email.

My next paper is about why there are so few women in software development. I found a fantastic study done at Carnegie Mellon a few years ago where they interviewed all the women in the department (those who stayed and those who changed majors) and studied all the factors that contribute to the skewed ratio.

My decision *not* to major in CS at Caltech falls right into this study. (Bummer to be so predictable!) It was the self-confidence issue and the "those guys have so much more experience than I do" argument. Damn. Maybe if I had read something similar at the time, or talked to someone about it, I would have chosen it anyway. Then again, I'd probably *still* be at Tech, trying to pass AMa 95. That was one advantage of majoring in Biology and Chemistry - neither major required that horrendous class.

Another interesting point made in the study was that they found women with a good support system (family, middle class or higher) were more likely to drop out as things got more difficult, while those who felt like they had no choice but to work through it, persisted and were successful because they worked so hard. The authors also made the point that in certain Asian cultures, the value of hard work and repetitive drills, extensive studying, etc. is clearly emphasized, and students from those cultures are much more likely just to stick with it and work hard to reach their goals.

So I am really glad to get a second chance now. And I'm in a good place at work where I love my job. So all in all, Life is Good.


  1. Do you remember when a B- was a good grade?

    I've worked so much harder for B-s at Caltech than I did for As at MIT.

  2. Oh heck yeah. I was just thinking about that too. But there's no way I'd settle for a B- from UW. :)

  3. I loved this post. I think as a culture we are more likely to give up if something is difficult rather than continue to push through. It comes from having all of our desires met at a very young age. The people I know who are the most successful are those who were not given the option to move onto something less difficult. For them, success is more about survival than reaching a pre-determined goal.

    In my very first college class the professor opened the lecture by saying that 80% of the women in the class were there for their MRS. degrees and would not complete the course much less get their degrees. So long as there is this attitude in the culture that women are not expected to succeed in academics or business, they won't. Very few individuals, regardless of sex, have the strength of character to break through cultural structures to achieve the unexpected.

  4. Not to derail the intellectual discussion, but when is Bon Jovi? I want to come! KB

  5. "In my very first college class the professor opened the lecture by saying that 80% of the women in the class were there for their MRS. degrees and would not complete the course much less get their degrees. "

    ???? can't you get fired for saying things like that?

  6. the complaint file against him was thick but as the head of the department he was pretty much untouchable.


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