Some responses first:
Lucas I think that a cooperative buying hardware is a good idea but I do have some concerns. The biggest is that of critical mass. What is the critical mass of people wanting a specific item in order to get a better rate? Also, it seems that the cooperative would buy in fits and starts. Hardware is not going to be replaced extremely often and thus it seems you are going to need a large user base in order to keep enough people buying hardware at any given time. When I think of cooperative I think of things like food cooperatives and the big difference I see is that the demand for food is constant whereas the demand for hardware is not going to renew itself as fast.
ErikLevy I agree 100%. A great teacher can make the most complex subject able to be understood and a mediocre teacher can turn a simple subject into a nightmare. Like any other profession there are good and bad teachers but is unfortunate that as a society that we don't/can't do more to attract the truly good ones.
srlI agree with you about the laws in Massachusetts but you have to realize that most legislators are only going to spend time on what can be used to get re-elected. You mention Massachusetts, I find it amusing that liquor cannot be sold on Sundays except for those towns are that within a certain distance of the New Hampshire border.
mikeszcz I hate to be the one to break it to you but life is not fair. And you'll find that the further you go in your educational career the more unfair and unreasonable some of the demands on you become. I know the feeling about being overwhelmed though - the best advice I ever got (and consequently found to work) was just to attack things one at a time. Narrow your focus and don't let the big picture overwhelm you.
I have been rather depressed lately. I think part of it is the growing lack of sunlight and the full onset of autumn. An additional possible cause is the fact that I am not being challenged intellectually on all levels. I keep reasonably up to date with tech news but I have been neglecting my interests outside of technology - now I just have to figure out what to do about it. There is a large amount of inertia to overcome with this - I am not sure I want to commit to taking some sort of class at night - I want to learn new information but not necessarily spend a lot of time doing school work again. Also, work is slow and repetetive. I am mostly involved in trouble shooting user problems and fixing them and adding a few minor enhancements rather than doing development work. I think it is time to start pushing to get involved with more development and less trouble shooting. Overall work is ok, not a huge supporter of open source or free software but Perl and Apache are used regularly. Java (specifically servlets and jsp) seem to be the new push - that wouldn't be so bad if we had more than one or two sysadmins who knew who to configure and support it and they don't give lowly programmers permission to do much in that regards. I don't think I am unhappy enough right now to start looking for a new job but I somehow don't think that there are tons of jobs out there in my area that would be better and fit the description of "Programming with Perl in a Linux (or other Unix) environment at a company that is committed to using open source/free software and contributing back to the community."
I'm contemplating the creation of a Games::Schedule::RoundRobin Perl module. The algorithm is pretty simple once I found some place that described and there is not much code to be modularized - I wonder if it is actually worth doing or not.
Is it just me or is accessing sourceforge a crap shoot?