Thursday, 25 February 2010

school rant

It's a common misconception that the British love to queue up for stuff. And on the face of it, there is a great deal of empirical evidence that would support this hypothesis.

This idea is, of course, bunk.

The act of queuing is merely a means to an end. We like to queue because we like to complain. Queuing in supermarkets is the best. We can look at all the other queues moving quicker than ours and complain about that; we can complain about the person in front of us that has filled their basket exclusively with items that don't scan; we can complain about the fact that they only ever open up a new till after we've been queuing for a million years and it's finally our turn to be served; or we can complain about the old boy at the head of the queue that wants to pay for his shopping with a mixture of coupons, buttons and bits of fluff. We don't like queuing; we like grumbling.

Grumbling is our national pastime.

So please bear with me while I indulge in our national pastime and get my grump on. Here's a blow-by-blow/module-by-module account of how school has been giving me The Rage of late.

  • Dynamics, Noise & Vibration.
Dr VC cannot teach. Fact. There's no doubt that he knows his stuff, and I'm sure that in his head it all makes perfect sense, but he is completely incapable of communicating it to anyone else. For most other subjects this isn't a problem; I can just go by the notes instead. But unfortunately Dr VC's notes are just the same deranged stream of consciousness... dig this;

"As indicated above, if the methods of theoretical modal analysis are applied to linear systems, all the methods used for 1-DOF systems can be applied, vis: (complex) algebraic or phasor (Argand) diagrams to obtain the Particular Integral (steady behaviour) for sinusoidal excitation, the foregoing (for sinusoidal) or "common sense" algebraic methods (for non-sinusoidal excitation) plus superposition of complementary function ("transient") and application of initial conditions can be used to obtain the complete the solution; alternatively the Duhamel integral (called the "convolution integral" by many American authors)."

Fuck you, Dr VC.

  • Thermofluid Systems.
Okay, so there's three hours of Thermo each week. The first hour and a half is with Dr TM, teaching one topic. The next hour and a half is with RLF, teaching something else entirely. Then the following week, there's an hour and a half of computational fluid dynamics theory with CT, followed by an hour and a half of actual computation fluid dynamics. And then the next week it's back to the start again, and we all have to try and remember whatever it was Dr TM was banging on about a fortnight ago before our heads were filled with a bazillion different kinds of Thermo. WHY, IF YOU WANT TO TEACH PEOPLE ABOUT THERMOFLUID SYSTEMS, WOULD YOU CHOOSE TO DO IT LIKE THIS?!

  • Operations and Quality Management.
This module is essentially one big group project.

(from - thanks Charlie Cat)

Group projects suck balls.

  • Group Design.
Way back at the start of the year, a bundle of us came back from a year on industrial placements to discover that one of the bastard modules from the second year had been re-named and moved to the third year; which was a problem, since university rules prevent students from earning credits on the same module twice. So the module is cancelled, and the Group Design module is the half-arsed attempt to fill the gap.

And yes, it's another group project.

  • Individual Project.
As the title suggests, this is an Individual Project. As such, everything that's going wrong with it is entirely my own doing. This does not make me feel any better at all, as it happens.

  • Mechanics of Materials.
Seems to be going okay. I can only assume that some dreadful calamity will occur later in the year.

And yet despite all this, I find myself feeling somewhat slightly chipper of late. There must be something very wrong with me...

Friday, 19 February 2010

All is brown exploding into grey infinity

Reason notwithstanding, the universe continues unabated.

My life continues to barrel along at breakneck speed, a dizzying blur of procrastineering, putting receipts in bags and passing out drunk. The Luncheon Club Dedicated To The Destruction Of Stuff has been victorious two weeks running now, a glorious accomplishment that I feel I would celebrate more, had I actually been involved in the slightest way at all. I was still on my way back from the GT when No-Face choked on luncheon-shaped justice; and I missed out on the smiting of Skeletor and his Minions last weekend due to the realisation of a plan that had been some 18 months in the making...

Not that it was a particularly intricate plan. At my grandad's funeral back in 2008, Doctor Sister suggested that it might be nice if all the Brooks cousins could get together for a reason that didn't involve death or marriage for a change, and noisily proclaimed that she would play host. We all decided this was a super idea, and so agreed to get ourselves organised and make it happen. The next time we all met, it would not involve death or marriage.

The next time we all met was at cousin Anita's wedding last year. It was broadly agreed that we'd made a bit of a hash of the whole thing, and that we should definitely get together for a reason that didn't involve death or marriage.

And much to our collective surprise, it actually happened last weekend when everyone turned up on my sister's doorstep at lunchtime - apart from me. I rocked up about an hour and a half after everyone else, owing to the fact that there are better things to be doing at 9am than driving 100 miles down the M4. Snoozing, for example.

In any case, a good time was had by all. There was much drinking and merriment, delicious little duck-filled spring rolls, and no grown-ups. Not proper ones, anyway. The day ended with Doctor Sister attempting to orchestrate the reconstruction of an old photo of all of us, that I think was taken about eighteen years ago at grandad's house.

And here's the 2010 version...

Close enough, I reckon.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

this is how i roll

So with schoolwork piling up and deadlines looming, naturally the only course of action this weekend was to go to Nottingham for a weekend of drunken warhammers at the GT final.

Beautiful Steve and I decided to head up on the Friday night, finally arriving at our destination some time after midnight to find that Rich (whose floor we would be sleeping on) and his chums were still out preying upon women; and so we had no choice but to go out and join them. We picked our way through the streets crowded with screeching harridans and boys in designer shirts attempting to assert their alpha-male status by beating the fuck out of each other, and eventually arrived at the horrifying assault on the senses that is Gatecrasher.

A lot of fuss is made in the British press about how cheap booze and drinks promotions actively encourage the binge drinking culture that apparently blights our society; but I don’t think you can rule out the effect of being trapped in a place so abhorrent that sobriety is simply not an option. So I gritted my teeth, got drunk and spent the next few hours filling my hate-hump and attempting to set fire to people with the power of my mind. Eventually everyone was ready to leave (because the place was closing), and by four o’ clock I was on Rich’s sofa, falling asleep in front of children’s cartoons from the eighties and hoping that Gary (a lunatic Scot that was also staying at Rich’s) wouldn’t try and stick anything in me.

The next day actually involved some toy soldiers.

There is a theory that when it comes to Grand Tournaments, it is the heats that are the most competitive since players must finish in the top 45 in order to qualify and get their free ticket for the finals. In the finals themselves, with the exception of the highly competitive few, everyone is just there to have a bit of fun.

This theory would later be proved to be complete bunk, but in any case I’ve always regarded the first day of any tournament as one that I just have to get through, tumbling down the ranks until I start getting drawn against people with armies at least half as rubbish as mine, or some other crippling affliction that prevents them from winning games; like a fear of rolling dice, a tendency to black out for extended periods of time, or an Ogre army. Which is more or less how it panned out.

Game 1: Daemons

This guy had won every single game in his heat bar the last one, which he lost to a mate that was using exactly the same army as him. I killed a handful of angry devil hounds and a couple of wibbly beasts covered in nipples and claws; and he killed my entire army. On the plus side, the game was over in less than an hour; so I went to the bar for a nap.

Game 2: Dark Elves

Much like the Dark Elf army I got rinsed by in the heats, this was a travelling circus of ravenous beasts and transsexuals with machine guns. I wounded a hydra, and killed his sorceress when a load of rocks fell on her as part of the special rules for this particular game; and he killed my entire army. On the plus side, the game was over in less than an hour; so I went to the bar for a nap.

Game 3: High Elves

This was a nice old-fashioned kind of bent army; the kind where you go through your army book, work out what all the best stuff is and then just take lots of that. I killed two guys on horses and smudged his dragon-riding noble’s make up; and he killed my entire army. On the plus side, the game was over in less than an hour; so I went to the bar for a nap.

So I finished the day in second to last place; which was surprising, as it meant that despite me killing less than ten models and having my army wiped out to a goatman three times, there was still someone doing worse than me.

We almost didn't make the start of the first round on day two, largely thanks to an extended evening program of spilling drinks and dancing like pricks at the infamous Rock City that once again saw us not getting in until four...

Game 4: High Elves

Turns out this was the same guy that smashed me to bits in game five of the heats when I forgot, like, the only special rule his army has. I sure as hell wasn't going to repeat the same mistake, and this time around concentrated on charging with lots of chariots that are able to turn his guys into cocktail dresses full of red goo before they would have a chance to stick pointy things in me. As an added bonus, the game was over in less than an hour; so I went to the bar for a nap.

Game 5: Daemons

Normal service was resumed at this point. The thundering lard monster that led his army wielded a Sword of Killing Fucking Everything that went through my beasts like a cat through hot butter. His task was made easier by the fact that my goatmen were particularly ill-behaved, and insisted on charging towards him at every available opportunity. The final insult came (and please forgive me for getting quite specific in my geekiness here) when my Dragon Ogres charged into a unit of ten Pink Horrors, lost the combat and fled off the board. Through a unit of Minotaurs. Who failed their panic test and fled of the board. I killed one gibbering pink tentacled lunatic and a couple of fire-breathing mushrooms; and he killed my entire army. On the plus side, the game was over in less than an hour; so I went to the bar for a nap.

Game 6: Wood Elves

Unusually for a game against Wood Elves, this was one where I felt like I got to play too. I still lost, but I reckon I could have pulled off a draw if I was less of a numpty.

And so that was it for another year. It's difficult to be sure of my final position in the tournament, as all the numbers were cut off from the side of the results sheet we got given; but I was pretty damn near last. I was, however, the most successful Beastmans player at the tournament; helped largely by the fact that there were only two other people stupid enough to take Beastmans teams, and they only managed to win one game between them. I got nominated for Best Army again, and the High Elf guy that beat me in the third round won the award for Biggest Victory in a Single Game (although they didn't say which game, it could've been any of them... ahem...).

Monday, 1 February 2010

the brightening

New words learned this week:

Procrastineering: the act of needlessly postponing the completion of important engineering stuff, by doing something far more interesting, but less worthwhile, instead.

Procrasturbating: as above, but slightly more specific. Also not limited to the field of engineering.

So to summarise: no post for you. I've got other less interesting, but allegedly more worthwhile, things to be doing.