Having fun at the UW

Earlier in Q4 when I started paternity leave we did a family trip to the UW on a Sunday and I was reminded how beautiful the campus was. So then I was feeling nostalgic and thinking I could find a day or two to drop in and sit in on some classes during the weekday. I like to live in the past and this seemed like an enjoyable and educational use of time. It would be easy to sneak in to the classes in Kane hall which are introductory, seat over 100 students, and never have a full house.

So that’s exactly what I did.

Parking was OK, it was 4$/hour. Back in the day there would be a parking attendant at both campus entrances, but it looks like now they just have a sign saying to use the PayByPhone parking app. I parked in Padelford. Looks like the higher level parking spots require a permit now, but N20 is still open to the public.

First I stopped by the HUB. This is where I lost countless hours playing Marvel vs Capcom 2. I used to be good at this game. There is only one arcade machine left there now, running a bundle of old classic retro games. Its been replaced by an open space for PC gaming and board games. Sad to see the changes, but such is life.

Next I went to Kane Hall as planned. They provided a nice big TV screen outside the classroom doors that showed the schedule. I attended calc 126. At first I was nervous because there weren’t many people in the class. Then I realized I was 10 minutes early. As I waited the classroom began to fill up. I hopped in with 1 minute to spare. Funny enough, many students came in late, some even 40 minutes late. The latest ones were nerdy looking asians, and this brought back a smile to my face as I fondly recalled showing up late to class because I was gaming. LOL!

Apparently its the week before finals so the professor (or perhaps it was the TA? Not sure) was reviewing the Taylor Series. This was a multi part problem. Part 1: Finding taylor series for f(x) at b = 1, Part 2: finding the taylor series at F(x) = integral from 1 to x of f(t)dt, and then Part 3: and then finding the 5th Taylor polynomial of F(x).

As the teacher worked out the problem, one thing that jumped out at me was that he was writing on a plain old piece of paper. Instead of using the old archaic transparency projectors from decades ago, the school now uses a webcam pointed out a writing surface to project onto the big screen. I guess those transparency projecters will be a nostalgic memory that will only appear in retro shows about the 90s.

There were a large number of questions regarding scoring:
“If we get the first two parts wrong, do we still get partial credit for using the correct equation for part 3?”

The professor (or TA) wasn’t really sure and shrugged it off. Other feedback was that the professor/TA was going too fast. This was an interesting piece of feedback, since I noticed most people were taking pictures of the notes. In fact, most students were on laptops or tablets with stylus. Note taking on pencil paper was a thing of the past. But there was still perhaps 20% of the students who used the old ways. Being old myself, I too took notes on pencil and paper.

After Calc 126 finished, I had to make a difficult choice between the intro Biology, Philosophy, and Psych courses. I popped into Biology since I never took it before, only to find out that it was an office hours. I sheepishly snuck off and popped into Psych 101.

The professor was discussing the sociogenic versus social drift theory of schizophrenia. I noticed that after saying “Homeless” he immediately corrected himself and used the new politically correct term “Unhoused”. Hopefully he didn’t get cancelled.

I got to experience a real time poll, which is a new feature they added to lectures. Professor asks quiz questions in real time, and you respond via phone/laptop/tablet, and the results are shown in real time. The professor asked about the definition of sociogenic theory of schizophrenia, and 30% of students got it wrong. I chuckled a bit. CMON are a third of you sleeping through the class?

The sociogenic theory of schizophrenia is that the stress of being homeless causes schizophrenia. The social drift theory is that having schizophrenia causes one to lose their job and then their home, resulting in homelessness. The difference between the two is which direction the arrow of causality is pointing. What’s interesting to me is that there should be enough data on this to make a definitive prognosis one way or the other.

The lecture then talked about treatment options. The therapy treatment focused on working through the subconscious and reintegration with the conscious mind. This brought to mind Joseph Campbell’s book, Myths to Live By. In Chapter 10, titled Schizophrenia – the Inward Journey, he shared his experience being invited to lecture at the Easlen Institute at Big Sur on the connection between Mythology and schizophrenia, despite his having no knowledge of the former. He agreed and there came in the mail for him a previously printed paper “published in 1962 in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, and to my considerable amazement I learned, on reading it, that the imagery of schizophrenic fantasy perfectly matches that of the mythological hero journey”

But I digress. I finished with a quick visit to Suzallo where I enjoyed the beautiful quiet study room. Then I met some old friends in Wedgwood before heading back home to pick up the kids.

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