It’s that time of the year. As people start to struggle to find parking lots in shopping malls, and the store managers busily put on Christmas carols to attract more customers, grad students stay quietly tucked away in labs. Last couple of weeks have been very hectic for me, as I tried to do my class project for Dr. Nagamune’s MECH 522 course (Advanced Controls). I felt like I was back in undergrad trying desperately to finish programming a real-time OS in time for submission. I slept on the cold floors of empty classrooms accompanied by piles of empty pizza boxes that loosely held onto leftover pizza crumbs.
Being cocky, I started working on the project super late. We were given about a month to work on the project, but I couldn’t decide on a cool project that merged the class contents with my thesis project. So I hesitated for a few weeks, until I realized that I had a week left. From then on, it was just a relay of late nighters for me and many of my classmates who also happened to be my labmates.
Coffee, of course, is the liquid of life at times like this. In one of those nights, I was sat in the lab staring at an empty coffee cup trying to figure out how many cups of coffee I had drank that day. To my mild surprise, what I stared at didn’t lead to a conclusive answer to the “how many cups of coffee…” question, but rather lead me to believe that coffee cups lids (that of the picture is McDonald’s) look strangely like a robot’s head. Crazy, don’t you think? I thought so. I thought that I’ve been doing research in robotics for so long that I am totally losing it – everything looks like robots now. But doesn’t it?
Then, Friday came along, and MEGA held the usual coffee social. With the generously donations from the department, we had fortune cookies with coffee which turned out to be quite interesting.
I had been reading lots of papers, doing lots of extra stuff to make my class project fancy and awesome. But what’s all the bells and whistles for, if you can’t even get the most basic thing working? Anyway, the fortune cookies were totally relevant to the project I had been working on. Kind of scary. The first one said “There is a tendency to carry activities too far”. Yup, totally what happened with the project. Can’t deny that…. And then the second one said “Give your undivided attention to things that are basic”… yup… also agree… gotta get the basics down before dreaming about the bells and whistles.
Anyways, I thought it was really funny how fortune cookies for grad students seem so fitting. Or am I interpreting it wrong? I probably am… I mean, the first one ‘carrying activities too far’ could mean some other activities other than things like class projects. It could be fun event planning, or sports or … you know…
Well, Kristy got a funky one though. Hers said “You will master any feelings of inadequacy you may be having”. Hmm… I wonder what that means… But anywho, thank you Jen and Heather for letting us take the fortune cookies for the coffee social. It was a lot of fun! 🙂