Wednesday, March 29, 2006

I'm a little bit rusty

I guess more people read my blog than leave comments. One of my work colleagues (hi Richard!) made a comment about my Herbfarm post today. I actually forgot to mention the thing that ticked me off the most, so I'll vent, and then never mention the Herbfarm again.

During the long dinner, during one of many looong breaks between courses, TJ and I got up to wander through the "wine museum". We encountered a fellow diner in there, a nicely dressed older gentleman, probably in his early 60s, maybe older. He said, (and I kid you not) "I wonder what the poor people are eating tonight." My mommy raised me to be polite, so while I was thinking "You $!&^% arrogant jerk", I made some lame comment about how I felt guilty about spending that kind of money on one meal. I wanted to be sure he understood I didn't want any part of his self-satisfied, "isn't it great to be rich" conversation. Not sure if I accomplished that. But damn, what the hell kind of person would make a comment like that to total strangers? Perhaps I'm dense and misunderstood some carefully placed sarcasm. One can only hope.

My resolve about priorities melted fast last Sunday when the professor of the class I was planning to take emailed me asking why I was no longer registered, and sent me some more info about the class. And pointed out I would need it to take any of the other classes in the program. Put an academic challenge in front of me and I just can't resist. Good thing I'm not an adrenaline junkie, or else I'd be screamin' down 520 in my little car at 150mph just because someone dared me. Of course, that's also why I chose not to transfer out of Caltech when I was having a tough time sophomore year, because my adviser asked if I really was going to "wimp out" on it. Yes, I'm really that much of a geek.

So I went to the first class yesterday. Note to self: Find some other way than I-405 to get to Bothell at 5:30pm. Traffic was horrendous. I left work way early so that I could get my student ID card, buy the books for the class, and get some hot water to make the oatmeal I was going to eat for dinner. I thought I'd have plenty of time. I had only a minute to spare when I walked into class, though I did manage to get the hot water. Over 4 hours of class without dinner would have been rough. Class was ok, just a lot of the first day review sorts of stuff. C++ looks a lot different from Java so I'm still trying to get my head around some of the weird notation for pass by reference, etc.

The first assignment is a "pair programming" thing where we get a partner and have to work on it together. I always loathe group assignments. I don't think there was more than 1 or 2 times I had to do a group project at Caltech, and honestly, I really work best by myself, at my own pace. But the "writing group" thing in the last class I took worked out really well - those 3 guys really helped me improve my writing, and incidentally, helped me get a kickass grade, too.

My partner seems pretty sharp - she's one of 3 other women in the class of about 25. She's more of a full-time student than I am, so I need to get organized and get started on this stuff so she doesn't think I'm slacking. We'll see how it goes. It seems like the prof matched up the women on purpose. If so, I'm not sure how I feel about that. I guess in the end what matters is what we get done, but the idea of being singled out kind of bothers me. I guess it depends on the rationale for it. For the same reason I'm not totally comfortable with the idea of the "Women's Conference" at Microsoft. Yes, the sessions are helpful, but they'd probably help everyone, not just the women, and I don't want to be in a position where it seems like I need extra help. I have this discussion periodically with my women friends at work and I think most of them think I'm being overly sensitive about it. What do you all think, my faithful readers? Do you think participating in "women-only" activities is a good thing?


  1. Well, I've tried many a way to get to Bothell without using 405 (e.g. 202, winding through Woodinville or Kirkland, or through other used-to-be-remote surface streets), to not much avail. It seems the population really exploded in the last few years so all the old routes are known since housing's sprung up everywhere :(

    Personally I've never felt the need to be part of women-only groups or events, nor the all-Asian ones. Actually, I didn't much care for my all-girls high school either. With no deliberate intention, most of my life has now been spent in majority-guys pursuits -- science, business, finance -- and I guess I've gotten used to it when I'm the only girl in a roomful of guys.

    On the other hand, I don't mind that women/specific group events exist since some people really derive benefit from them. And I can't say I understand when many people (especially guys) react strongly against the formation of these groups or events, such as the ridiculouslessness that happened at Tech when we were there, or even later on at bschool with the comments I heard.

    Guess I'm more like you in personality. I also stuck it out through Tech because I was told (from the head of my girls-only high school math department -- all women too, ironically) that I probably wouldn't make it there.


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