on shoveling barkdust (and my SS Study Guide)

forget failing an exam, *this* is my nightmare

Over the past few days I’ve found myself in a panic induced routine fueled by stumptown and pandora.  As I explained to Mom, a teacher with a bit of a greenthumb, studying for this exam is like shoveling bark dust.  You start with a mound of material, and with each scoop you take, the pile gives way and more falls in front of you.  No matter how much scooping you do it feels like you’re getting nowhere. There’s always something to be picked up until, all of a sudden, it’s totally gone.

Last night, or this morning around 12.30 I should say, my pile had vanished.

At this point I think I’ve done as much studying as I can.  My head is full of random information and my study guide (yes, it’s posted, hang on…) is as good as it’s going to get.  I’m feeling like I have a good understanding of the concepts, but at this point everything is still jumbled around in my mind.  The next few days/nights will be dedicated to the Kaplan Q & A book and review.  It’s my hope that I will finally be able to tighten my grasp on the material as well as memorize the equations that I’ll need to use later.

So, here’s my structures study guide.  It’s 63 pages of fun-filled general/lateral/seismic/wind structural goodness.  While I probably should have included notes on how to solve beams, columns, and trusses, I found using my school notes to be helpful enough as I studied.  Fortunately there are so many resources available via Kaplan and on the arefourm FTP site that it would probably would have been overkill to include anyway.  Like always, I can’t guarantee that my guide covers everything we’ll need to know for the exam, but sharing it is the least I can do to say thanks for all the support and resources they’ve sent my way.  If I find any mistakes as I review with it I’ll update this link and mention it in a new post.

I kicked back at lunch today and finished re-reading FEMA 454 chapters 4/5/8/9, not necessarily for fun, but more as a review for what I’ve already studied.  Strangely enough, it was much more enjoyable this time around.  I guess that happens when you have a snack in your hand and not a highlighter.  Next up is Buildings at Risk – Flooding.  I didn’t get a chance to study that, but from what I gather on the forum, it’s good to know.

I’m sitting on thesis reviews tomorrow night at my grad school alma mater University of Oregon-Portland. Fun fact: crits are way more enjoyable when you’re the one in the chair making comments.  If you ever get a chance to participate in one, I’d highly recommend it.  I’ve fortunately been able to sit in on a few over the past few years and I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t make me miss school.  Studio one of my most cherished memories and experiences.  That being said, it’s amazing what a few years of profesional growth will do to you.  While I still admire the creativity, passion, and innovation of my peers, I find myself appreciating the attention to structure and tectonics just as much.  I suppose that means engineering is becoming as important to me as art.  Perhaps I really am becoming a true architect.

While I still intend to push hard the next few days, I feel like I’m doing so with a calm confidence.  I’ve come to peace with the fact that structures is a difficult subject for me to grasp and it probably always will be.  All I can do at this point is give the exam my best effort and know that I’ve tried my damnedest. That’s really not a bad position to be in, but I’m still keeping my fingers crossed, just in case.

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2 thoughts on “on shoveling barkdust (and my SS Study Guide)

  1. Laura J W says:

    Glad to hear the concepts are finally starting to stick Jenny. Its a 23rd hour kinda thing, I felt the same way. I am also studying for SS and scheduled my exam for Monday. Your study guide is a perfect overall review! Good luck with your exam!!

    • jennypdx says:

      It feels more like the 23rd hour, 45th minute! 🙂 Thanks for the note Laura, I’m glad to hear you found the guide useful, hopefully there weren’t too many typos, you’re one of the first to see it besides myself! Best of luck to you on Monday!!

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