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  1. Oh, hey. I dunno if this'll be a thing, but if you have a few choice words to say about the story, you're welcome to do it here. If you want, I guess. Story:
  2. I talked to my advisor today, and told her that I was planning on dropping out of graduate school. Going back over my blog, all I ever do is worry about school, and how hard it is, and how much I need to get my grades up. And for what? To service some future self? Become chained to the hell that is academia for another year of my life? I've been in school since 1991. Maybe it's time to finally say good-bye to it all? I was watching an episode of this show called Greek, and the character of Casey decided that she wanted to leave law school, and just go off to D.C. and find herself there. It made me think about my own life, and how maybe, just maybe...I can just go off to a new area and find myself without worry about grades, or papers...and just...be. I plan on selling everything I have, buying a beat-up old van, and traveling the country. Work some odd jobs here and there, and just enjoy my life. I might get into street performance art...
  3. I had my talk with my advisor with my proposed plan for the second year of grad school. Some things came clear. I won't be doing a thesis. I might work on some publications, but it's not really where I want to go. I also don't want to go into a PhD program, at least for a few years. Which pretty much means I really don't have a chance of working in the community college scene because the job market is so bad that PhD's are fighting over jobs in that field. I want to work in a museum, or I want to try consulting. And it might turn out that I'll get into something that I never would have thought I'd get into. Another thing that became clear is that I really won't be able to keep sleeping in until 11. I'm taking a 10 a.m. class next semester, which means I'll have to wake up at 9:30 a.m. or earlier. Ugh. I haven't had a class before 11 a.m. since fall semester of senior year. I told my professor this, and she pretty much ripped me for not wanting to wake up at 10 a.m. She had a good point, and I will take that class. It's scary to think I'm almost done. It's scary to think that I'm graduating in a dismal economy with a hefty student loan debt. And it's scary to admit that I'm 25 years old and I don't really know exactly what I want to do in my life. What I do know is that I'm interested in a lot, and I want to be a guy who can do a variety of things in a variety of fields. It's just weird. I came into grad school thinking I'd have all the questions figured out at the end, but I'm finding out that I pretty much don't know. I have no clue. Which is why I'm pulling back from trying the PhD track, because I think I need to have a better clue of what I want out of life before committing myself to 7 more years of school. Part of me thinks that I need to embrace the fact that I'm going to run out into adulthood with no clue about where I'll end up. The other part just wishes I could go back to my junior year of college where my biggest concern was whether or not I'd find a good party. I'll try and stay optimistic, but god. It's really hard to be, with this economy and with the knowledge that I'm in a field that's getting clobbered.
  4. Just when I thought UD couldn't come up with even more inane ideas...they proved me wrong..... UD Wants to Close Academy Street See, I get the principle of what they're trying to do- they're trying to create a more closed, Ivy-League like campus(like say, UPenn), and what they have to do to achieve that is to get rid of throroughfares. Still, Academy Street is just way too critical north-south route to close like, especially when you consider the fire station and the ambulance station that use Academy. My belief that the university is doing everything they possibly can to discourage people from commuting to campus just grows more and more- between closing down parking lots and now this? Traffic in Newark is already a nightmare. I can't imagine what it will look like if they got rid of one of the few things that relieved congestion on Main Street and Delaware Avenue during peak school hours. UD pulls crap like this that shows just how much they don't care about the students in the pursuit of looking like an Ivy League college, and they wonder why applications are down 5 percent despite the national commericials they spent loads of money on doing? Between this completely unecessary project, the completely unecessary law school plans, and the millions of other projects they're doing, I'll be shocked if President Harker doesn't drive the school into the ground.
  5. I started my second semester of grad school this week. The workload is pretty intimidating, but I think I got it down by this point. I hope, anyway. One thing that struck me is how much more relaxed I feel as opposed to that first week of grad school. Everything- god I just felt like I couldn't breate. I spent the night before my first classes that semester reading the reflections of a woman who dropped out of her PhD program. I was positive that I would flunk out. And I did pretty well. I think that's given me a confidence going forward. Now I just have to recalibrate and figure out how to balance this new semester schedule.
  6. University of Delaware lost the Division I title game last night at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco. We gave up a second-half 19 point lead for Eastern Washington to come back with 20 points. I'm pretty bummed. It would have been great to see UD get a championship. On the bright side, it was great to see the Blue Hens there, and it WAS a great season for UD. But since our quarterback is a senior, it looks like next year's going to be a rebuilding year.
  7. I got 2 A's and a B. That brings my grad school GPA to a 3.66. (IUP does not do A- or B+ grades like UD, so there's a little less inflation here.) I was really hoping I could pull off a 4.0, but eh...I'll live. I have some mixed emotions here- I really did work my ass off in all the classes. I really was hoping for a 4.0. And the B kills it, and makes it impossible for me to ever have a 4.0 accumulative in grad school. I'm pretty disapointed, but I also know that I really did all I could do. The funny thing is that I got the B in the class I thought I'd get an A in, and the A in a class I was sure I was getting a B in. I think if it had been the other way around I could handle this better. Still, it's a good semester, and a 3.66 GPA is pretty good, considering the grading scale at IUP, so I am pleased with myself. I made it through that first semester.
  8. My undergrad, University of Delaware, wants to start a law school by 2015. University of Delaware's Law School Aim I can't tell you how bad of an idea I think this is. Delaware's a small state, and it already has a law school, Widner. Delaware's strength is based on the chemical engineering and business program, and I can't see how adding a law school would do anything to enhance the university. Programs are already getting cut- like the journalism major- and I imagine that will only get worse if they go ahead with the idea. The greater Philadelphia metro area is already so saturated with lawyers. And think about it-Penn, Virginia, Georgetown, GW, Villanova, Temple, Rutgers, American, and the NYC schools (NYU, Columbia, Fordham) are all a train ride away. There are so many top-notch law schools in this area that I can't see how a law school at UD would be anything but a third-choice back-up plan. Plus, University of Delaware no longer offers in-state tuition rates, so why would any state resident want to pay 25k a year for a law school program when they could go somewhere established for not that much more money? University of Delaware is ALREADY planning on building a medical campus(allied with Jefferson), an expansion to the football stadium, expansion to the student gym, a new dorm, a new science building, a new dining hall- all within this decade- and now they want to do this? If UD ends up bankrupt I wouldn't be surprised. I just feel bad for the kids going/will go there who are having to pay for all this stuff. If UD experiences an enrollment drop because of the 1990's baby bust, they're going to be SCREWED.
  9. I'll be working for Habitat for Humanity for spring break '11 in Winter Haven, Florida. We get a pit stop in Atlanta, and we also get that Friday off to go to Daytona Beach. No alcohol, which is a bummer, but overall I'm really excited. And this should go great on my CV. I have never been to Florida in my life, so I'm really excited!
  10. Skidfest, the local charity rock event that has been held every semester in a block of row homes known as Skid Row since 1990, has been denied a permit because of the university bookstore construction going on behind it. I knew this was going to happen as soon as I realized that the construction would take up the two parking lots that surrounded Skid, because it would severely limit access to the event. And you could feel it at the last one that the end was near when the cops closed the event down early because some stupid kid fell off a railing and had to be taken away in an ambulance. This sucks. I went to my first Skidfest when I was a 17-year old reservist townie. I made some great memories there- like when I smoked sage with my buddy Grant while some weird drunken chick kept trying to hit on me, the time I literally got up on a soap box and gave a speech about medicinal marijuana, the time I puked all over my arm because I tried to chug Hurricane, the time I got really drunk and then walked over to the academic building across to Pearson Hall to watch a play...just all those wonderful, precious memories that I owe to this place. The event was more than just a bunch of drunken, stoned kids slobbering over themselves while garage bands played. It was a dedicated charity event in which members of the community-students, alumni, townies- all came together for a cause. It lasted for twenty years, and it became something of an institution not just with the students of University of Delaware, but within the city of Newark. It will be missed, and I hope it can indeed come back in some other kind of fun. The University, in its obsession with obtaining Public Ivy League status, has done whatever they can to kill the party scene over the last 10 years. In doing so they've also killed the local music scene. What they fail to grasp is that it's memories like going to places like , or - those are the kinds of memories that make their average student feel a fondness for the university and turn them into alumni that want to donate. But hey, I guess they're getting what they wanted in shutting down something that was just too great and too wonderful to be allowed to continue.
  11. I had a bit of a faux-paus today where I cracked some joke that I wouldn't let up on, and the professor took me aside and told me that I might not be picking up on the social cues that I was ticking off some of the kids in the class. I felt pretty embarrassed, although it reiterated to me what a great professor I have. It just reminded me that social cues and graces just are never going to be second-nature to me, and that I really have to remember when I should let my guard down and just free-flow or when I should perhaps think about what I'm saying before I say it. She also reminded me that I'm in a different area, and that some things that might be joked about casually where I'm from aren't taken so nonchalantly here. The other dimension to this is that I've been feeling tension with some of the people in my department, and it has been bothering me. There's this dude. I'll call him "Eric". Eric is this arrogant ass who, on the account of the fact that he's somewhat cute and cocky, has several of the girls in our department hanging on to his every word. He doesn't like me, and I've been feeling tension with the guy since week 1. He's got this wingmen, this girl who never leaves his side and likes to snub me right along with him. And they, and to a lesser extent their developing clique, have just made me feel very uncomfortable. I've been snubbed many times before, but experiencing this as a 24-year in the grad school setting just has me flabbergasted. I wasn't expecting to run into that kind of mentality here, and it's left me a little disjointed. I think this, combined with the gentle lashing I got from the professor, really got me down. So tonight after class I just sorta went out with my lone friend there, got drunk, and sang LFO's "Summer Girls" to forget about life for awhile. (As fate would have it, my job is shifting around hours and I don't have the Tuesday shift I thought I had.) I won't make a habit out of Monday Night Drinking, but it really helped to talk my friend and to talk to my roommate. They both basically just said to me, "Don't let the assholes bother you, just continue being you but take a second to think about whether a joke you might crack might rub people the wrong way." Justin, my roomate, was basically like, "JR, you're fine. You're doing your work. You're getting assignments done. You've balancing in your 9-hour job, and you've got the resident hall stuff you're doing. You're making friends. Don't let the few assholes get you down." He's definitely right. It was good to just talk this all out, though- one of the things I learned from life is that not talking about my problems and letting things build- that causes bigger problems in the end. I will take up my advisor/professor's invitation to talk at some point, and just...keep on keeping on, I guess.
  12. And all that jazz. Hope everyone is happy this Christmas Eve day. As for me, I'm doing good. I had my best semester GPA at UD- getting a 2.975- almost a 3.0! I had two As in my 300-level history class, then a B- in geology and a C- in Italian. I'm satisfied with how I did this semester. My 2.975 brings my accumulative GPA from a 2.42 to a 2.53, which makes me feel good to finally have my GPA over the 2.5 line. Now if I can just get it to 2.66, I'll be good because that takes me into the B- range. I'm doing winter session, if I can get the private loan, so let's hope. And then there's my history GPA, which went from a 2.825 to a 3.1. Pretty happy about that- because it now means I'm eligilbe to apply to schools like Salisbury University. I'm also beginning the grad school application process. I'm going to be realistic- I'm not getting into William and Mary with my grades, but there are some schools I could get into. The plan is to go for whatever grad school will take me, do well there, and then go on to a a really good school for the PhD. If I don't get into grad school, I'll change my graduate date to 2011 and take up a political science minor.
  13. So Sister #3 told Sister #1 that I got money from our mother. I got an extremely nasty voicemail from my sister about how I need to stop accepting money from Mom, because I'm too old to do so and I need to support myself. You would think she would have a point, except 1.) the only reason I need money from Mom at all is because my mom used my credit cards for things like keeping on the utilities- nearly everything on my card comes from that, it's why I have to pay 300 dollars a month, and that is why my mom sends me money to pay for it, and 2.) my sister who sent me that nasty voicemail was living with us for very little money when she was bouncing between jobs at the age of 24 to 26. She has no room to speak at all. Sister #3 complains about the power being cut off at the house, but that sure didn't seem to stop her from going on multiple trips to Syracuse, Washington State, and the Outerbanks while not giving any kind of rent money to Mom. And it's somehow my fault that the power got cut off at the house, because of 75 dollars my mom sent to me. Right. I am starting to think that getting away from home for grad school instead of staying close by is the best decision I've made in my life.
  14. Sometimes the best thing to do is face your fear head-on. I've been reading online a bit, about people who are or have failed out of graduate school. What I realize is that I'm not alone at all about feeling scared about failing, or realizing that I went into this process completely blind and uncomprehending about the pitfalls and troubles I could face. There's this interesting site by a woman who left her PhD program four years in. I thought it was pretty interesting: Straight Talk About Graduate School It's good for me to read about a woman who lived through my greatest fear- not succeeding in graduate school- and got through to the other side. This woman was a model student in college- she graduated with a 3.97, and well-loved by faculty. If she could fail, it can happen to anyone- and on the flip side...I remember reading about a guy who graduated college with a 2-something like I did and wound up a tenured faculty member. It really does seem like it's a combination of the individual and the environment they end up in. From her story and from a bit of others....here's what I'm taking to heart, and will keep reminding myself as I go through this experience, for however long it may be. It could be less than one semester or it could be seven years...and I'll keep this all in mind. 1. If I fail, that means that I'm not suited for an academic life. It does not mean I'm stupid or I'm not a talented person. It means I wasn't a right fit. I want a 4.0, and I'll go after it the best I can. If I wind up with a C in all my classes and am kicked out, I will not take that as a mark of me being unable to hold an intelligent conversation or that I have nothing to offer the world because I didn't make it in the academic one. 2. I will not let myself get entirely consumed by academia. I will work my hardest, but I won't make it my entire life. I will try to balance other interests I have- having friends, bonding with family, doing activities like acting, and maybe even occasionally having a beer at the bar. I will not let myself feel isolated, or feel that if I fail this M.A. attempt, I don't have anything else in my life. That could lead to a very dark road with some very dark consequences, and I refuse to go down that. 3. I will continually engage myself into activities that remind me why I fell in love with history, such as going to living history museums and watching re-enactments. I will read or watch something about periods of history that I'm not covering in class for my own personal enjoyment when I have time to spare. There's a Jimmy Stewart museum here, and I'm definitely going to visit it when I get the chance. 4. I will accept that sometimes life takes you in other directions, and what I want at the age of 24 might be entirely different in two years. 5. I will create an escape plan for myself if graduate school does not work out. I'll audit some computer classes, maybe learn about how to temp and work in an office. If I flunk out, I will take community college courses back home and learn some different kinds of trade. Here's a quote from the site above that explains why you need a back-up plan, and it was pretty enlightening: [*]Feeling that you can't leave makes you an easy target for abuse, because the consequences of standing up for yourself could be being forced out.[*]Feeling trapped robs you of perspective on your situation, leaving you with an all-or-nothing, total-success-or-total-failure mindset that is unhealthy and unsound.[*]Feeling trapped adds stress to every decision you make, because when you feel you have nowhere to go, you don't dare make a decision that could force you to leave or get you kicked out. Even relatively minor decisions can carry heavy costs
  15. Okay, so I'm starting school over in western PA at this school called IUP, which is 5 hours away from home. It's pretty far out. I'm not taking my car, so it's not going to be the easiest thing to get a ride to and back. I recently found out that close to my hometown, and at my undergrad school, UD, there are plans to have Jason Mraz perform on September 28th, which is Tuesday. If I skip out on Monday and Tuesday classes, I could prolly swing going to the concert. So herein lies the dilemna. I REALLY want to see Jason Mraz. Like, I love that guy's music. But I also realize that if I'm serious about grad school, it might not be in my best interest to miss two days of school. Do you think if I notified my professors ahead of time that I was going to be back down home, and got the assignments and made sure I did them...it would make everything okay for me to miss school for a truly rewarding, one-in-lifetime cultural experience? *looks at Mark Arbour and Sharon with a hopeful puppy dog face* Hey, I bet you two would think this is a great idea, right? Mark, you would totally encourage me to go, right?
  16. My whole family is bitching at me right now because I'm applying to this school called Millersville Univeristy, which is, at an hour and a half away, 'too far' for me to go, and 'isn't a good school'. They keep bitching at me to apply to a closer school in the area, and look at closer area schools, which I have! They are either too good for me to get into, or they don't have my program. Then they bitch about me about how I need to take educational courses if I'm going to be a community college professor- which isn't even true, because I've asked professors time and time again. They tell me I should apply to my undergad school, like there's a chance in hell I'm going to get in with a 2.64 GPA. They don't seem to understand that I don't have a whole hell lot of options. Ugh, ugh, and ugh.
  17. Does it every just spring up on you? Right now, I'm feeling it. I'm writing up a CV for my professor to get him to write a recomendation, and I realize...I peaked at the age of 20. I haven't done anything noteworthy since 2007. College started out great for me- I was a tutor, I was involved in a sport, I had a job, I was involved in a lot of activities. And then I transfer to UD, and I get it into my head that I'm John Walsh from Fraternity Memoirs, and I don't do anything except party my ass off and go on the occasional burn ride. I was involved with some stuff, but not nearly as much as I used to be. Then I get put on a Dean's Vacation for a year, and I spend it bumming around in community college and partying my ass off in bars and parties. And I come back, and I don't really do anything, at all. I thought I was going to leave behind this great legacy when I graduate from college...and I'm not. No one is going to remember that I was ever there, because I just didn't much while I was there. I had this great opportunity to go to this really fine school, and I didn't do nearly as much with it as I should have. And it's too late now- I'm graduating in 8 weeks baring failing Italian- and when I step off the stage, only my family members are going to clap because they're the only ones who are going to know who the hell I am. I guess all I can do is remember this feeling, and try and do more in graduate school*fingers crossed* than I did during my time here at University of Delaware.
  18. I just spent the day at my alma matter- we had an Alumni Lunch, catered by Capriottis. (It's a chain sub shop with really good sandwhiches.) It was pretty fun- reliving the good ol' days when I was just a kid and my biggest worries were whether or not I could get away with sneaking out of the boring assemblies without getting caught. After the luncheon I just sorta hung out with a few fellow alumni in the front lobby of the school, singing songs and laughing as we reminisced about times gone by and looking at those high school kids, realizing just how long it's been since we were them. Five years. Five freakin' years. (Okay, four and a half, really, but still.) Still can't believe how fast all those years went by- from auditioning to get into that high school all the way back in January '01 as an 8th grader who just fell in love with that school, to those four precious years of high school that went by much too fast, and all those enusing years since I stepped off of the stage as a newly crowned alumni, 19 years old and thinking that nineteen would be forever. Five years now separate me from that boy. Crazy to think that. Last year, I remarked to one of the teachers, "Did I get old, or are these high school kids getting younger?" She replied, "You got old. That's how it always works." And she's right- it seems every year, those 16-year olds just look more and more like babies to me. But I guess it's just me being a decade away from sixteen. Oh, well. I still have those precious memories of youth, and what it feel like to be a kid with his whole life ahead of him where everything was just full of possiblilites and new experiences. And it's not like it's bad being older- I can legally drink now, my mother can't order me to a curfew, and I don't have those vacilitating, turmultuous moods that come with being an angsty teenager. Still, there's just something about growing up...that isn't half as fun as growing up. Anyways, here's a song for the mood I am in. (The rumination of this post completely justifes me breaking the Monday music rules, I think.) "These are the best days of our lives"...man. In a way, it is true. Because your heart is on your sleeve when you are young...the joys and the triumphs and the laughs...they're all felt so much more deeply, because your emotions are closer to the surface as a teenager. Not that you can't feel joy and all that as you get older...but...it's just not quite the same, I think. That's why I think so many authors write about coming-of-age, because that universial experience that we all go through offer such a rich treasure trove of emotions that can really fuel a story. Is anyone hitting up a reunion anytime soon?
  19. The General Baccalaureat 2006 is over. I could barely think by the end of the week. It started last monday with Philosophy - 4 hours. The essay question I answered was Do we duties only towards others? I spent far too longer pondering whether other than others, is there only myself? can I have a duty towards myself? in thinking of a duty towards myself, don't I in fact treat myself as an other? I'm glad I actually wrote a plan otherwise I'd have just been rambling for hours... Anyway, hell week ended on Friday afternoon with three hours of my second modern foreign language - Spanish. In between all the rest: Latin, French, Literature, English as a Second Language, Maths and Computing, Music, History-Geography. At one point I had a nightmare in which I'd mistakenly been entered for Greek and was sitting facing a page of Plato for commentary on his political ideas...thanks be I woke up before it got any worse. I spent quite a lot of Saturday on the phone to the boy. It feels like far too long since I've seen him. I'd fly off right away but I need a couple of days to wind down. Yesterday I took my pod and a dome tent to the dunes and spent the whole day just staring at the sea. I should market it as therapy. I'm still physically a bit stressed so I need to get off this 'puter and get out for a nice slow run to see if I can't unknot at least some of these muscles. I've missed all the GA guys so much. Sometimes I think I miss my boys (and gals of course) almost as much as I miss my boy. peace OUT
  20. There's no meaningul teaching from now until the exams. I'm going to attend very selectively from now on. I am a little worried about one or two exams but funnily enough not the ones I expect to be toughest academically. It's the exams where I think the subject is a bit wooly that worry me. It's difficult to plan revision with confidence when you suspect that the subject matter is largely opinion. Still, the revision will be fun. We've decided to keep the group to 8 so that's me, Chris, Rik and Helen plus Thierry, Marie-France, Guy and one to be recruited. I have to shamelessly admit that after the "core four" decided to study en-groupe we invited other people for specific expertise! Yesterday we spent on English. It's not really difficult for anyone but it was worth drilling ourselves on it precisely because we can all get a really good mark with a little effort. Today is going to be Math/Informatique and hopefully we can get the science bods to help cover up any cracks in our knowledge. I'm off to France for Easter next. I'm going to spend the whole time in bed or as much of it as I can manage. I want to laze and laze with my boy. Who knows, I may even get fat through inactivity. The first exam in June will be Philosopy. These were last years essay questions:
  21. Because, the weather is about to turn very cold and we'll have snow and I'm already wearing long-johns, a bobble hat and down jacket. Next thing I'll be running aboot saying "eh" and eating chips with gravy! I don't mind the cold at all - it's especially OK if it's not wet. I do have to keep my window open at night so that I feel some air movement but with my current set up of two 12 tog duvets, fleece blanky and electric under blanket I have nothing to worry about! I mean aboot! I haven't had time to blog because well, I've just had too much to do. School has been keeping me very busy. I finished the first three exams for the A Level Maths; finished the prepared translation section of the Aeneid book 1 and the Pro Caelio; finished my electronic composition piece for my music performance exam and got my work from last summer holiday accepted for assessment for the Personal Development course. I'm especially glad about the last one because I'm cynical about the course and didn't want to have to join everyone else in finding some fake project to carry out or go and do low level slave labour for some company. I have a long history paper to write about the political development of the 5th Republic and a Spanish translation exercise that I'm halfway through. I'm trying not to coast in Spanish but it's difficult because the level is too easy. I find myself getting really bored sometimes in class. I shouldn't have taken Spanish really but at the time it seemed like a good idea to study a language I already know. For everybody else it's really the only language they study that's truly foreign. Well, I made my bed and I'll lie in it and try hard to participate in class. It has to be said that my Spanish teacher is pretty understanding and I can read most of the time as long as I'm reading a Spanish book. I just finished reading La Casa de Bernarda Alba by Lorca and La Historia de un Escalera by Buero Valleja. I just don't have the heart to start on Cervantes. Everyone says that Don Quijote is a masterpiece but I can't help it it sends me to sleep. Did you know that last year Hugo Chavez handed out a million free copies of the book on the anniversary of its publication to promote literacy? it's dangerous communism I tell you!. In other news, philosophy is going as well as can be expected but Citizenship-Law-Society is bogged down. Nobody seems to have any enthusiasm for the subject - I think it's because people are quite pessimistic about politics right now. Still, it's not like I'm failing! And finally, Sport - school sport is frankly pathetic, it's a good job I'm getting a work out with BMF and at the dojo or I'd be obese in weeks. So school has been taking up almost all my daytime for a change. Then there's aikido three times weekly. I'm really enjoying it again now that I'm back on form but I'm having trouble feeling competitive. We have some tournaments on the horizon and I'm not very motivated yet. I'll have to work on that. Most of the time I'm happy competing against myself to meet my own goals. But I owe the dojo a lot so I'll do my best. Then of course this last week I've been helping out a bit on No-no and Philip's LGBT History Month project. They got all the designs done; they got the permissions for not-for-profit use of the images and wrote the copy for each card - I did some research there for them. I have no design skills and theirs are well, at least marginally better but I think the cards turned out OK, if a bit punk looking maybe. I'm going to scan a couple but I can't see an easy way to put them up here since invision doesn't seem to accept dynamic urls. Well, if I find a way I will. I've been made redundant from my position as Cantor to Noah. He's learning to leyn so he can read a parsha at shul but Uri's taken over coaching him on the quite ridiculous grounds that he's better than I am. I've been usurped - in my own home! By my own foster brother! I don't mind but I'll have to find another way to scrounge time with Noah. I also found some guy called crossingboi who's got some cool if confusing/complicated high school stories on nifty. I'll try to visit more often blog.
  22. OK so I felt well enough this morning to drag myself to school. I had the usual discussion with myself and the parental units about whether it's worth going in for just the Friday but I much prefer to go in than stay at home. And then I get here and...two hours of philosophy classes: cancelled; and hour and a half computer lab: cancelled. Then this afternoon one hour of Latin followed by French lit during which they're showing the second half of a film of a Pagnol novel. So, this gives me a chance for guilt free blogging at school. Every cloud has a silver lining. Our new foster brother has more or less settled in I think. I am going to take up a suggestion from Rigel and ask him if he'd like to write a guest blog entry so that if he wants to he can tell you about himself rather than me talking about him but he said he didn't mind being blogged about so I'll probably mention things from time to time. Like this bit - Uri is staying with us temporarily because he lives with just his Dad who's can't take care of him for a while. If nothing changes then he'll be with us until school finishes for the summer. We've had some good chats about things 'coz he's been keeping me company when he gets home from school so we're getting to know each other. Sebastian has finally installed MSN and has a hotmail id so theoretically we can chat. I say theoretically because my sweet thing just isn't really very good at it. We don't have much basis for small talk since we see each other so little and lit would take forever to explain the detail of what's going on in life to each other and even for us "love you more" gets old pretty quick. But you know what, I actually just get a smile seeing that he's on-line! LOL It's totally stupid but I sit there with a little grin just knowing that we're logged in to MSN at the same time. It's things like this that convince me that love reduces your IQ. The other thing that's happened this week is that I changed my profile, removing the link to the youth web site I used to advertise. I read through the message boards on the site this week and decided to call it a day. I've been hanging out there and peripherally involved in the group for a couple of years. I was quite impressed by them - they did some really good campaigns around gay youth issues. Now tho there are discussions going on on the boards that really turn my stomach. A couple of people - I stress just a couple - seem to be unapologetic racists (one called me a race traitor - guess he didn't work out I'm not of his tribe...) and one is a blatant apologist for Hitler. OK, two idiots - wouldn't matter. What matters is that the guys who run and moderate the boards have had nothing to say about what's being posted except that when these guys have been challenged (including being frankly told off by me) the moderators have intervened to warn us that we can't insult them personally, that we have to respect their point of view, that everyone has a different opinion etc etc etc. Right, OK, so I can take the free speech argument that they have the right to express their nasty little racist opinions and hiterl loving bolleaux, but now I'm being told off for responding? I don't get that. I was brought up a pacifist (more or less...) but my Dad always said that when it came to racists and fascists all bets we're off - any provocation from nazis and he'd be happy to use his fists. I'm definitely a lover not a fighter but I don't see why I have to be polite to these guys. Anyway, I've decided that I just don't want to advertise the site and inadvertantly send some poor gay kid there to read all the racist nazi crap. It's a shame but there's other good sites out there so I'll just have to find another one. Time to go get some lunch. I'll probably write some more later including pointers to some good new stories I've read.
  23. Erm if your offended by shameless boasting look way. I aced the stats exam! Of course I won't get the results for ages but for once I have no doubts about how I did. There just weren't any questions that I was thrown by and on quite a few I was able to show off a bit by doing more than was asked for (oh I know pride is hateful but on one question I even managed to throw in a derivation of a formula that was given and show that it was equivalent and easier to compute! Forgive me crowing but since I don't do specialist maths I was pretty proud of myself). The only moment of fud was realising that my calculator wasn't on the approved list - guess who didn't check? - but as it turned out they were able to supply calculators for those people in that situation so it was ok. It took me a few minutes to work out some of the functions but I got there. Anyway, I can now forgot the hideous formula for calculating the correlation coefficient. Just count yourselves luck that I can't type equations here otherwise I would have to show off by showing it to you and that could frighten the mathphobics! OK. Boasting over. I will now go and find some sackcloth and ashes.
  24. I don't believe I'm doing this. After much goading me Thierry and Rik have signed ourselves up for more exams. I think I must be mad. We're registering for the British Advanced Level GCE in Mathematics. Now this was mad enough I thought until I read the syllabus today. We're gonna be slightly limited in what we can do because we can't do any of the units that require assessed coursework (so no Numerical Methods at least!) To do it in one year it looks like I'll have to take two pure maths and one applied in January and then the same in July. The pure units are no problem at all since we cover most of the syllabus in our Bac classes but the applied: Eek! OK, the choices are Mechanics, Decision Mathematics or Statistics. My only hope is statistics and the syllabus is disgusting. Not only that but I looked at some of the example exam questions and answers and one or two of them just aren't what we're taught. Example: one short answer question asks what to do about missing values. Fair enough - you either code missing values with a dummy (and then filter them before calculating) or you impute a value - the most obvious one being the mean score for the variable. That's more or less what we were taught anyway. Not in this exam. Apparently you should code missing values with a score that will never appear in your data. What? How about mean replacement? The mean could appear in the data couldn't it? Or if you chose median replacement (I can't think of an example but I'm sure it could be right sometimes) then the median might appear in the data. So - what's going on? Do the British do statistics differently? Another example asks you to select a test to apply. The scenario is really simple: the investigator asks school boys and school girls what their favourite subject is and then tests for an association between gender and favourite subject. Easy, two categorical variables, test for independance if it fails - then there's an association - use Chi-squared. WRONG! Apparently you choose Fisher's exact because Chi-squared is unreliable with N<50! Not in my world! I checked my notes and we were told Chi-squared is reliable for N>=30 which applies in the example. GRRRRRRR! Oh well...there can't be so much taught differently that we'll fail and anyway I'm going to have to do some stats cramming before the exam anyway because they do more for A level than we do for the Literature Bac (but then we've done more in previous years I reckon). No-no and Joel both think I'm mad for taking on more work but it's really kind of fun. I wish though they still offered the Philosophy paper though that would have been fun because there used to be a logic paper in there and we don't do nearly enough formal logic for my liking. The nearest they have seems to be something called Critical Thinking which is frankly lame - the syllabus is wooly to the nth degree. One of the key skills is "using linguistic clues"! Well, duh! In further breaking school news, my dad returned my philosophy essay and I heard yesterday that I got a "mention tres bien" and I am unashamedly pleased. If you look at the Bac results, less than 4% get the "tres bien" for the final so it's a pretty good mark. Of course, that's not significant because the subject matter was way off the syllabus. My philo teacher told me - not entirely jokingly - that if the subject of language comes up in the exam I shouldn't answer it in "Anglo-Saxon" fashion. In other words I'll write something suitably French, poetic and obscure . Just finished Alex Sanchez's Rainbow High. I enjoyed it well enough but somethings annoyed me. First, Sanchez seems a bit didactic to me - the books are written as much as guidance counselling as literature and that can get annoying. More importantly in this one, a central component of the plot involves a character whose boyfriend is HIV positive and Sanchez who usually is eager to let us know what is right and what's wrong allows several central characters to discourage the relationship in question on the grounds that the kid is endangering his health! What? WTF? Why does he allow these people whom he otherwise sets up as admirable paragons of virtue to suggest sexual segregation in this way? Why does the only counterpoint to their prejudice (let's face it, it is prejudice) come in the form of adolescent tantrums? And, on the part of the boy's mother I don't find it plausibe because in other respects she's poster-mum of gay teenager - she even goes to PFLAG meetings? If Sanches is going to, as he says he does, use his writing to provide positive and life-enhancing models for gay kids then he needs to know that if I were a gay teen who was positive I'd be pretty damned angry at this element of the story. On the other hand, I really quite like the jock - Jason. He's human, he stumbles, he's unassumingly brave and except for one slip he's honest. I find it hard to believe in the overtly bigoted and cynical teachers who show up but then I am aware that this is lack of exposure on my part. I can't imagine taking it lying down if any teacher reacted to me that way and I can't imagine my school and my parents not supporting me if it happened. Note to self: smaller blogs more often! g'night blog.
  25. I got my philosophy essay back today. I'd got it down to 2400 words and handed it in on time. I was invited to talk to my philosophy teachers about it at lunch time. Disaster. Well, OK, not disaster but. It turns out that they had misunderstood what I was going to do. The teacher who agreed the topic Are the rules of Chomskyan grammar real? thought that I was going to write about whether or not the rules of grammar Chomsky proposed are correct. I wasn't at all - that wouldn't be philosophy. I wrote about the status of the rules: are they in the brain somehow or are they just generalisations about actual speech or are they like objects in, say QM - we posit their existence because it would explain things, etc. Now, I only even understood what I was doing because my dad gave me a book of essays on the subject that was actually quite readable and understandable. My teachers hadn't a clue tho - and I mean no disrespect saying that. Basically, I've been told that they topic was too technical and that they didn't themselves know enough about the subject to judge my effort. They gave me credit for the writing, structure, bibliography and so on but they can't assess the actual content. And so, dear blog they've done just about the worst thing I can imagine. They know my dad and they asked me if he had helped me and if he'd read the essay. I told them the truth - that he'd given me stuff to read to start me off and that I'd not discussed it further with him or shown it to him. My dad and I get on great but I admit that I'm nervous when it comes to discussing linguistics with him because I feel inadequate. It's not his doing at all - he's really pleased that I'm interested but he doesn't pressure me - I create the pressure myself really. Anyway, I've been asked to show the essay to my dad and ask him if he would assess it. Aaaaaaaaargh! I begged - almost. The fact is that I know in some ways I took on too much and that I don't have what it takes to tackle the topic - at least yet. I also know that he'll understand that I ran before I could walk on this one and be generous but I am soooooooo anxious about showing him this paper. Anyway, I will do it but I'm going to ask him please to just do what he has to and then not talk about it. I'm glad the essay is behind me - I got obsessed and ignored lots of stuff while I was writing it. Now, I have a backlog of things to do. One thing I feel a bit ashamed about is that I realised that I had totally ignored the earthquake disaster in Kashmir. I had a word with a few people at school today and it's not too late for us to do something we just have to work out what. Chris is going to contact a relevant charity and find out what sort of thing they have going on that we can help out with. I don't mind giving money at all but I'd rather do something. We are as usual having a panic about the soon to arrive Christian holiday. We don't celebrate it really, we kind of pretend that it's Hannuka if the two are close enough but we do give presents to non-Jewish friends and in the past we've given small presents among ourselves. Last year we gave each other goats - or rather we each gave to a charity that provides goats to families in need in the developing world. I love the idea that there's a goat out there somewhere with my name on it . This year though I really want to give No-no and Philip something for themselves. I'm thinking of buying each of them an iPod shuffle since they're both music mad. I can't really run to a hard-disk or nano model but I had a look at the shuffles in the Apple shop and they are really cute and with 1Gb they're really as big as you could want. Anyway blog, I'm sorry I ignored you and I'll try to write something more later. tata for now.
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