Days 50-56: the fall of Viking U.

So now begins the catching-up I’ve promised for a long time, along with a few words of explanation.  The words are pretty straightforward:


Loosely translated, they mean “Oh my God, what have I gotten myself into now?”

By way of background: long ago, when dinosaurs ruled the Earth and I was a seventeen-year-old college freshman, my major was computer science.  The university I attended did not at the time have a computer school as such; the major was part of the math department.  Not surprisingly given that background, computer science students were expected to take a lot of math: nine quarters of calculus and beyond, as I recall.

I really wasn’t expecting to hit a wall academically.  I hadn’t ever hit one before.  But once we got past the section on limits, I was flying completely blind.  With a lot of tutoring from friends who seemed to have no issues with things like integrals and differential equations, I passed: but the experience was profoundly disturbing and disconfirming.

For the past thirty some-odd years, I’ve had something of a phobia about math.  Whenever the subject has come up, I’ve told people that it’s important to know your limitations, and “limits are my limit.”  Pretty much any formula with greek letters in it makes me break out in a cold sweat.  So you can imagine how I felt when I saw that equation staring up at me on Day One of one of my core courses.

It was at that moment that I decided I would stop blogging till I felt a bit more comfortable with academia.  That took a while.

My initial Fall schedule included classes in microeconomics, thermodynamics, and earth systems, all focused on energy technology and markets.  I also had a conflict between two classes: a class in European energy law and a course in surface exploration for geothermal energy resources.  The latter was an all-day course on Mondays and Wednesdays, taught at Islenskar orkurannsóknir (Icelandic Energy Research), also known as Iceland Geosurvey or ISOR: it was designed to teach how you can figure out what’s going on in the Earth’s crust two miles underground before actually digging a hole to see for yourself.

To be honest, the class at ISOR was immediately very attractive.  That may seem counterintuitive:  it focused on geology, geophysics, and geochemistry, three subjects I knew nothing about.  But I came to Iceland to learn from experts, and when it comes to expertise on geothermal, ISOR is the mother lode.  And in a way, the class had a comforting familiarity to it: a prosecutor’s job often is to assemble evidence to understand events that no single witness has ever seen.  So I dropped the law class, planning to take it next year, and kept the class on the mysteries of the Earth.

It was my first decision as a new student in Iceland.  I hoped it would turn out to be a good one.

* “Viking U” is the nickname given Reykjavik University by my old friend and mentor, Kevin Probasco.
I like it, so I’m going to use it from time to time.

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