a la mode

I remember back in the day when I used to blog a couple times a week, just to update cyberspace with the important happenings in my life. Things are so obviously different now – are my priorities different, or does nothing important happen? Let’s just say it’s a mixture of the two so I don’t have to let my thoughts linger on either one.

I think I mention this every couple months or so… but I’ll say it again since it crossed my mind recently. There’s a website called FutureMe.org that allows you to write an email to yourself that won’t be sent until the date you specify. I discovered the site in the middle of my freshman year, so to be cool, I waited a few weeks until leap day. On the rare 29th of February, I wrote myself an email in which, if I recal correctly, I described the person I was and my aspirations and goals. The last thing in the email was a list of names of people that I hoped I would keep in touch with by the time I recieved the email.

I’m one of those people that spends a lot of their spare time thinking. My mind wanders from old friends to new friends, how and why things change, mysterious futures, and how and where I think I’ll end up. I don’t often regret the things that have happened (as a direct or indirect result of my own actions) but there are a few distinct occasions that I’ll probably remember for a really, long time. I’ll remember them until long past after I receive that email in two years.

How did I decide what was important enough that I would want to ensure my memory of it in four years? I’m forgetful, indecisive, and extremely fickle even after a decision has been made. (I always wonder, are those the characteristics of most female teenagers?) I often find myself asking other people whether they really think they’re doing the right thing, where the “right” thing is the one that would give them the most happiness. I am totally aware that for many (like myself), it’s difficult to make a selfish decision. If a path taken leads to one’s own happiness but someone else’s suffering, is it still the correct one? I think in the end, despite the disparities in defining rightness or wrongness, it must be the most selfish decision that one sticks to. Others will/should adjust accordingly. If someone else’s happiness clashes with mine, well, I guess we just have to fight for it. In such a situation, avoidance means losing. If that’s your thing, then by all means, take the next exit to avoid the upcoming crash.

I’ve been involved in a handful of hypothetical accidents, and have done some swerving. I’d like to hope that the road I’m on continues to be as well-paved as it has been. Maybe it’s still under construction, but I haven’t come to that point yet. For now, I know where my next cue point is, and will be making my way towards it in the mean time.

Now that it’s the end of the quarter and all I have to do is study and review what I’ve learned, I’m definitely realizing how amazing my classes have been this quarter. Now that I’m deeply nested in upper division courses, everything applies and relates to each other. The importance of the subject material is obvious, which makes it easier to concentrate. My CAD class, although frustrating and time consuming, definitely taught me something worthwhile. I made a Ford Model T for my final project. Heat/mass transfer is so applicable to… everything… that it makes me proud of being an engineer. It’s awesome to realize how and why the physical changes to your environment are happening. And fluids, although slightly less applicable, are still fantastic.

I attended a seminar held by Eric King, who recently got his PhD from the Earth & Space department at UCLA. Our MAE department organized a series of seminars in the field of Fluids/Thermo this quarter, and I noticed a poster for this one and decided to go. I was lucky enough to chance upon one where the presenter explained things in a way that undergrads not well-versed in the field would still understand. He talked about the effect of rotation on the vertical convection of heat – ie, how heat from the rotating earth’s core reached the surface. He proposed a new method of differentiating weak and rigourous rotation, and how they affected convection. I’m glad to have gone – maybe in a few years I’ll find his name next to a correlation in a textbook.

Although I’ve only taken a few classes on the topics of heat transfer and fluid dynamics, I can pretty surely say that it’s the field I’ll be staying in. I definitely wouldn’t mind going on to graduate school to do research in the field, or something. Dynamics are definitely not my thing, and structures aren’t really more interesting than the next topic. So… we’ll see. Next step: finding an undergrad research opportunity.

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