Well, the first day of school is over, and I’m pooped. Mondays are going to be hell for me – class 10:30 to 5:20 with no breaks for food, and TA meeting at 5:30. I survived, but I’m tired. Have to run from LILY to PHYS in 10 minutes, when it’s really a ~12 minute walk (and I usually walk quickly anyway) and then run back to LILY immediately after that. Nothing like being in a hurry to notice every annoying trait of the people around you. People who walk super slow, people who travel in large herds or while holding their significant other’s hand so you can’t get around them, people who smoke while walking so you have to inhale their shit the whole way to class, bicyclists who are manically swerving amongst the pedestrians…ugh.

BIOL 500 (the protein lab) will be…interesting. It’s only four weeks long, but in that time period we have three papers, two exams, two 4 hour labs a week, and a whole bunch of coming in extra. That’s always super annoying about labs. I already have to come in at 7:30 am on Wednesday so our stupid bacteria are fresh. Sadness. Thankfully I have a friend in the class who I’m partners with, so that makes things soooo much better. Nothing worse than having a lab partner who’s a jerk/doesn’t know what they’re doing. Oh, and Prof. Wang produced this lovely quote in one of the first few slides of her Power Point (verbatim):

“What if a protein can not doing its job?”

The grammar Nazi within me died a little. But to be honest, she doesn’t have a thick accent and I can fully understand everything she’s saying, so I won’t complain. I’ve had TAs and Professors where I had no idea what they were saying the entire semester, so…yeah.

Physics was boring as hell, as predicted. Sigh. I mean, the professor explained everything well and had demonstrations and everything, but she was just so…bland. Monotone. Unexcited. I can understand that once you’ve been teaching the same things for so many years it becomes a bit rote, but it equals automatic teaching failure. All of my wonderful teachers were animated and excited and genuinely interested in what they were about to teach us – not that they just wanted to fulfill their requirements and get back to research. I want a teacher with some personality – someone who actually, you know, uses inflection in their voice, laughs, jokes, acts like a human being. Is that too much to ask?

Speaking of which, I really like the Professor who teaches the lab that I’m going to TA. He’s not super animated, but he’s funny in the deadpan delivery/wry humor sort of way that I appreciate and a lot of students don’t get. Anyway, for that lecture I basically sat all the way in the back and ate my lunch while getting a refresher on amino acids. There has been one change in that class since I took it two years ago, though. Before my junior year, Purdue decided to be evil bastards and implement an optional +/- grading system (profs can decide if they want to use it or not). I personally hate this because it helps mediocre students and hurts A students like myself. Why? If you’re taking hard ass biology classes and get an A-, that’s a 3.7. But if you get an A+? Still just a 4.0, nothing extra. So there’s absolutely no incentive to do extra well, but you get hurt for just making it. Not to mention certain classes are easier As than others, as are certain majors, yadda yadda whine whine… but this Prof’s solution?

He has $200 dollars. Whatever students in this class of 400 get an A+ get to split the $200. Last year only two people got A+s, so they each got a hundred bucks.

My immediate reaction was “Kickass! Damnit, I would have tried harder for an A+ to get some cash!” But then I stepped back a bit, and my reaction scared me a little. I would actually try harder for a small short term reword, but not for a big long term reward? I guess that’s human psychology – we’re more motivated for things in the present. But it saddened me that even I thought that way. Yes, if all my classes did this, I would probably put forth the extra effort for some money. There are many times where I didn’t bother studying for a final because I was effectively locked into an A, and a 93 was no different from a 99. But is this just unethical bribery, or should we do it in order for people to try harder? Would it just result in more cheating and more cut throat competition for a prize, rather than your own evaluation? I guess there are some parents who would give money for As on a report card – mine didn’t because they would have gone broke, grumble – but I wonder if that method actually works?