Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Results Are In (25% of Precincts Reporting)

Last couple of weeks have been hellish. I've much more to write about when I get a little breathing room. Here's a brief recap of how the exams went (in the order they were taken):

  • BIO 191 Exam - feces
  • BIO 196 Exam - fair
  • PHY 102 Exam - pretty well
  • CHE 201 Exam - fair

As a result of all the exams, I'm sort of getting used to going to bed around midnight and getting up at 5:00 in the morning. I think I might've mentioned that the general stress was finally getting to everyone causing some general shortness and snippiness among some of the group. Really, if you blow a test or two, it probably doesn't mean that you won't get into a medical school, you know? It's hard for me to believe that some of the folks can maintain their astronomical stress levels.

We got the first test back yesterday: the microbology (191) exam. The prof begins by stating that, out of a total of 75 points, the average score was a 55. The high score was 74.5 and the low score was 24. Yahtzee!!! I'd prepared myself to be at the bottom. Seriously, if you knew exactly how little preparation I put into this one, you'd realize that I'm not underestimating myself. She hands back the exams about five minutes before I was to sit for my Organic Chem exam. Without looking at it, I put it right into my notebook, close it, and went to take the chem exam. I didn't want to be thinking about the bio exam score while taking an exam.

Honestly, I forgot about the thing until a few minutes ago. Sitting alone at my desk with my wife and puppy asleep in another room, I opened the notebook, pulled out the exam (still face-down), and studied the anonymous back of the paper. After a quick prayer, I turned it over to reveal that I'd beaten the average by a point and a half and checked in with a solid C.

Thankfully, I didn't get the 24. Whew! Dodged a bullet on that one.

More results to come.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

All Things Go, All Things Go

Two tests today. Two more next week. I probably should've put in more time at the books but what can you do?

Yesterday was my 3rd wedding anniversary. Instead of studying all night, my wife and I celebrated a little by taking in the Sufjan Stevens concert at The Fox. We had 3rd row seats for what was an amazing show. If you haven't yet, check him out. If, by chance, someone tries really hard to sell you on the opening act, "My Brightest Diamond," you should immediately flee and avoid future contact with that person as they are not your friend.

More soon.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Believe It Or Not

Yesterday, I went to lunch with a few classmates. We drove in my friend's car to this little Jamaican place in Decatur. On the way, we're listening to a mixtape that she'd received from a friend. It was a pretty good selection, by the way. After lunch, we're riding back to campus and "Believe It Or Not" starts playing.

"The Greatest American Hero": one of my favorite shows from 1981-83.

I told them that I had the record (45rpm) and that I loved the short-lived "The Greatest American Hero" television show starring Mr. William Katt. I got nothing but blank stares. I explained that "Believe It or Not" was the theme song to the series. I got more blank stares.

My friend said that she just thought it was a song and knew nothing about the show. Man, that hurt. I explained the premise of the show: nice guy high school teacher receives special superhero suit from aliens and promptly loses instruction manual. He and his colleagues get into wacky adventures fighting crime. I don't think they were that impressed by the premise. From what I recall, considering I was only eight or nine during the series' run, I thought it was really cool.

Fifteen minutes later, we're walking back into the building another classmate admits that she, at that very moment, got the Seinfeld bit about George's answering machine message. Classic.

Believe It Or Not (2006)
Look at what's happened to me,
I can't believe it myself,
Fully surrounded by all of these girls,
Older than everyone else.

Believe it or not,
I'm losing my hair,
never thought I'd be thirty-three
Trying all day to look like I care
About chemistry
Believe it or not, it's just me.

(As a bonus, check out Joey Scarsbury performing 1981's 14th most popular song on Solid Gold! Where have you gone, Joey?)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Rules

Just want to wish a heart felt "kudos" to the heavy-set African-American woman who, yesterday, wore to class a shirt that read:

"I have the pussy, so I make the rules."

Do they make shirts that argue the contrary? If so, could I wear one to campus without incident? Probably not, I think. Anywho, good for her. It made me drop my pencil when I saw it.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Do You Have Any Idea How This Makes Me Feel?

Physics, your name is cursed.

Oh what a wonderful week of Mondays! Finally, I found my "oh shit" place for the semester. I predicted that, for everyone in the program, it was Monday plus or minus 72 hours. Seems I was spot on with the estimate. Everyone has been walking around with that dazed look, wondering if we'll make it out of this thing alive.

Next week, I have two Biology tests, back-to-back. A few days later, I follow-up with Organic and Physics. How awesome is that? Pretty good, huh? Right now, I'm just fighting to keep my head above water with this crap. How am I supposed to walk on top of it?

On the plus side, no women have walked into the restroom while I was doing my business.

Colored Chalk Earns Favor, Doesn't It?
So, after two weeks of watching our physics prof scratch his head while drawing increasingly complex graphs and hearing him mutter how he's forgotten the colored chalk once again, I took the initiative to buy a bunch of it an just donate it to the cause. You know, it's only a ridiculously expensive private women's college; no hope for getting any chalk at that place. Hell, I've seen professors eating from dumpsters behind the building because of the lack of funding. Sad, really.

I bought a few boxes for $0.50 each and left them in my locker at school, relishing the idea of taking them to class and offering them at the opportune moment. Today, that moment happened. Instead of waiting for him to begin cross-hatching lines or drawing squiggly ones, I immediately offered up the goodies.

He was genuinely surprised and appreciative. I think the class was appreciative, too. When the prof asked me what it would cost him, the woman next to me piped up with "An 'A'." Not bad, I thought but I wasn't brown-nosing for a grade, I just can understand what the hell he's talking about when the board becomes a Jackson Pollock work in white chalk. Again, he asked me what he owed me.

"Fifty cents," I answered.

"C'mon, really, how much did it cost?," he persisted.

"Really, it was only fifty cents. Don't worry about it. It's my gift."

"Really? How much?"

"You owe me seventy dollars," I told him. "Really, don't worry about it. It's nothing." The class laughed and then enjoyed the wonderful multi-colored vector drawings.

... 5 Hours Later in Physics Lab ...
Later, we're in physics lab waiting. We're doing a lab that, under normal circumstances, would require us to conduct a free-fall experiment and then calculate the velocity, acceleration of the object. Well, the college doesn't have a "free-fall" machine, so he gave us the data to use. We performed the calculations and plotted our findings onto two graphs so that we could see the trends.

Today, no fooling, it took me ages to just get the scale of the axis drawn on the graph. Really, who uses graph paper any more? To make a long story shorter, we fight through all of the plotting, identify the slope of the line using an equation, and work through the given problem set. Before we left, we asked him to sign us out of the lab so we could split. He asks to see our work. Upon receiving it, he immediately commences the ass-whipping. Today, it was my turn to be the recipient. It went something like this:

"Who drew this graph? Why isn't your line smooth?," he asked incredulously.

"I did, sir. I just connected everything out of habit. I added a trend line it's just really faint," I respond.

"Why did you draw it like this? This isn't a straight line; you can't use this graph. How can you get a slope if you don't have a straight line on this?," he continued, throwing his hands up and shaking his head.

"Well, professor, I did add the trend line; I'm used to graphing with Excel. It's been about 15 years since I've done anything like this by hand."

"This is unusable. This is... Do you have any idea how this makes me feel?"

"I think I'm starting to get a very clear picture, sir," I jab.

"This is bad," he added, gesturing and shaking and pointing. He was wild-eyed and furious, a perfect caricature of an old man getting really bent out of shape over something trivial. "What do you mean dinner is served at 4:45pm? It's 4:30! It's always been 4:30!"

At that point, I sort of tuned out to what he was saying. Took a deep breath and watched him conduct his symphony of my deficiencies as a physics student. My proudest moment.

When he walked away, I whisper "But I brought you colored chalk!" and pack my bag, mutter a fantastic string of obscenities, and stagger toward the door.

The offending graph.
Consequently, I showed it to my dog and he thought it was great.

Friday, September 08, 2006

El Baño de La Diabla

As I've mentioned before, Tuesdays and Thursdays are my "hell" days. Start early and go relatively non-stop through the day. Not really any time to eat, drink, go to the bathroom, or do anything apart from sitting in class taking notes, trying to learn.

When class ended, I was about to pee myself. I left the room and quickly headed into the restroom. I'm taking a leak in this tiny cave of a bathroom. Just when I was becoming confident that my bladder was not, in fact, going to rupture out of my abdomen, a young woman flings the door open and takes a few steps into the room. Confused, I look over at her. She looks up at me, sees me looking at her, loudly shrieks, and runs out of the room.

She was surprised to see me in the Men's restroom.

In fact, I was terribly surprised to see her.

Funny, I never thought that minding my own business and taking a leak in the proper restroom would cause me any more trauma than normal. Either campus security or the lacrosse team is going to be gunning for me, I can feel it. The pandora's box is opened! How long will it take for a sexual harassment charge to be dropped from your record?

Doesn't matter, I'm afraid to go to the bathroom now; I'll always be looking over my shoulder.

Is it safe?

Women have the whole damned campus. Really, can't we at least have the men's restroom as refuge?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Secret Nature of Vectors

"The Secret Nature of Vectors" was the title of today's Physics lecture. It was less of a lecture, really, and more of a discussion of a seemingly disconnected series of random topics. Our professor reminds me of an aged Jeff Goldblum mixed slightly with Richard Lewis and Frazier Crane. He's terribly smart but, in my opinion, has so much going on upstairs that it gets lost in translation on the way out to the rest of us. Going to class is more of an entertaining experience than an informative one. Really, he's a riot.

Anywho, he writes this on the board and I'm thinking that it sounds like the middle chapter of a bad novel.
Chapter 6: The Secret Nature of Vectors
Some noise outside woke him. A cat knocking cans out of the garbage? A gunshot a few streets over? Slowly, he reclined back into the old caved mattress, careful to turn his body so that he springs would miss his spine, his shoulder blades, the healing gunshot wound on his left buttock. Inches below the cracked plaster ceiling, he could make out the dusty fan blades lazily tracing their arc. The medicine was still making him nauseous. After two weeks, he thought it might go away. With each dose, he was surprised to find himself queasy.

Alone in the dark, he rubbed his eyes, yawned, and scratched his lower belly. He replayed the night of the shooting over in his head, as he often did since then. His half-hearted laugh broke the silence when he asked himself why he didn't just continue for another 25 meters 45 degrees north of east. If he had, his net displacement would have certainly put him out of harm's way.

Gingerly, he rolled onto his side, avoiding any pressure on the wound. He felt the bandage and then the mattress for dampness. Again, it had wept through the bandage. Again, he'd have to change the dressing by himself, awkwardly in front of the mirror. He tried to fill his mind with thoughts of her as he buried his face deeply into the pillow and breathed in the fading scent of her hair.
Yes. It's driving me mad. Week two and it's driving me mad. Hopeless isn't it?

Tomorrow is another "hell day." All classes and labs back to back to friggin' back. Maybe we'll continue the discussion of the bee dance in my Animal Bio class. Evidently, we'll be tested on interpreting a bee dance. When a honey bee enters the hive with pollen, it does a dance by doing a little "waggle" of it's abdomen and walking in a figure eight pattern. This dance indicates the direction and distance that other bees should fly to reach the pollen source. Actually, it's pretty cool stuff. I think I'm gonna start doing it in the lobby when classes let out and just see how long it takes me to get tackled by the campus cops.

Gender Ratio
The whole gender ratio hasn't been as bad as I was expecting. I thought I'd be completely overwhelmed by being one of the few men. It's not really so bad. Yesterday, one of the women in the program asked if I thought any of the undergrad women were noticing me. I told her I really hoped so because it's too hot to keep wearing the leather chaps and because I haven't been shaving and oiling my chest for nothing.