Monday, June 23, 2008

Like, Everything is Connected, Man

This semester, I am taking a class called Modern Navigation Systems, but the class might as well be called Connections. In my experience, most engineering professors are very focused on their specialty. This professor, on the other hand, believes in knowing not just the subject at hand, but the why's and how's of how these things came to be. And the consequences of things being that way. He spends about ten percent of his lecture on navigation and the rest of the lecture jumping from subject to subject, spilling forth random bits of information on everything from the woman Isaac Newton had a crush on to how an MRI works. The stories jump around, somehow relating to one another and ultimately leading to "so the point is...", at which point he'll tell you how this was all somehow related to navigation, or at the very least relevant to our lives.

Since this is a navigation class, tonight I decided I would draw a map. It would not be a map of a physical location, but a map of the paths his lecture would take. My classmate thought I might be drawing a picture of a constellation, but she laughed when I told her what I was actually doing. Each point represented a subject. With each change of subject, I drew a line ending in another point. If he went back to a subject he had mention previously, I'd draw a line from the current point to a pre-existing point. I didn't quite get the hang of it until the end, but I still ended up with quite the sketch. Some things that came up tonight: the Washington Post, the Olympic trials, "This Old House", the guy who played Tarzan, Lords of War starring Nicholas Cage, the Tony awards, South Pacific, Caravans, Afghanistan, the Hollywood sign, Hollywood and Vine, Grauman's Chinese Theatre, the Walk of Fame, The Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind, the New Jersey State Prison, A Streetcar Named Desire, the Simpsons, Curious George, Yellowstone National Park, snowmobiles, and who knows what else.

For Wednesday's lecture, I think I'll label each dot and make a dot darker each time he touches on that subject. Perhaps I can turn it in as part of a class project. Or not.

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