Making The Grade

Well the suspense is over.  I know you’ve all been chomping at the bit to hear what grade I got on the legendary 5 AM Paper, and I will keep you in suspense no longer.  The grade was posted yesterday and I got a 90.  I re-read the paper and found that most of the mistakes I made were of the kind you’d expect from a paper written almost entirely after the witching hour.  Some sloppy punctuation, a couple of wording miscues, but nothing too severe.  I did however realize the moment after submitting it that I had failed to number the pages, which rendered the table of contents effectively useless and I mistakenly added an “e” on the end of Louis of Louis-Napoleon every time I wrote it.  Think what you will about the French, but Louis-Napoleon was in fact the a male emperor of the Second Empire not the female companion of Thelma (and Louise-Napoleon) on a convertible driven, cross country crime spree.

Anywho, I was pretty happy with the content, it’s shortcomings notwithstanding.  If you care to know what the causes and effects were of the Franco-Prussian War, I’ve posted the paper over on Past Tense.  You can enjoy it there.  Or read it at least.  It’s quite lengthy, over 4000 words, and there aren’t any pictures because WordPress was acting weird, so proceed at your own risk.

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This And That

-This weekend I did something I hadn’t done in a long time.  I pulled an all-nighter.  I had a 10-15 page paper due for my War & Diplomacy class on Sunday and just like in my college days, when I was college age, I put it off until the last possible moment.  I was up until 4 AM on Thursday, 3 AM on Friday, and 5:30 AM Saturday.  I’ve always been a night person and much prefer staying in bed to going to bed, but needless to say I was exhausted for the next few days. However I now know more about internal French politics in the late 19th century and their effect on the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 than anyone could possibly want.  And I like this stuff!  No word on the grade yet.  I’ll keep you posted.

-In my estimation there is no greater invention over the last 50 years than the cell phone camera.  Ok, slight overstatement maybe, but it really is great.  You never know when you might happen across something interesting or odd or shocking or otherwise photo worthy, but now you can always be ready to capture it forever.  For instance, here’s a picture of a the recycled battery bin at my office.  I don’t know, I thought it was neat.

-I was looking for some information about qualifying children for tax purposes, and stumbled across this document.  Its a document explaining various false assumptions people have about taxes, especially in regards to getting out of paying them.  For instance, one such argument is that filing and paying taxes is voluntary.  Um, I think word may have gotten out about his if it were true.  Another contention is that the term “United States” only applies to the District of Columbia, federal territories (like Puerto Rico) and federal enclaves (like military bases).  Therefore, only people living in those places have to pay taxes.  Apparently, these people misunderstand the generally accepted belief that the word “state” does in fact refer to states.  Though we could probably win the title of country with the longest name if we called ourselves the United District of Columbia, Federal Territories and Enclaves.  Nothing like living the in good ‘ol U.D.C.F.T and E.  I read through quite a bit of this thing and its surprisingly funny for an IRS document.  You tax folks may get a kick out of it.

-For those of you not yet on the Netflix train and still renting your movies from a [snicker] video store, I have two things to say to you.  First, what is it like to eschew convenience, and second, feel free to join the 21st century any time.  After the cell phone camera, Netflix has to be the second greatest invention of the past 50 years.  Besides the obvious convenience of getting movies delivered to your door, there are never any late fees.  My monthly Netflix bill is roughly the same as the cost of renting one video from my local Blockbuster after I forget to return it for two weeks.  BN (Before Netflix) Jen and I each had an account at our local video store and it was always a gamble as to which one we should use because we knew one of them had a huge late fee.  But those days are over.  Not only do I no longer live in fear of video late fee collection thugs, but Netflix has literally everything.  New releases are great and easy to find, but try finding Errol Morris’ great pet cemetery documentary Gates of Heaven at your Hollywood Video.  Right now Jen and I are watching an interesting BBC reality show called 1940’s Housethat we never would’ve even known about if it wasn’t for Netflix.  If you like movies, or TV shows without commercials, or obscure documentaries and PBS specials and hate late fees, waiting in line, and zit faced “customer service” associates, you need to use Netflix, or at least one of it’s copy cats.

-We’ll end this bizarre post with a couple links.  The first is to the Film Chat blog, a good site for movie news, and this post with a video showing the trailer for the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight, side-by-side with what may or may not be a trailer for the original Batman movie.  Whether it is the actual original trailer or a clever edit job, its pretty cool.  If you like Batman.

I saw the headline for this post on the WordPress sign-in page.  Could this be the most delicious business deal of all-time?

So Many Choices

MortarboardWhenever someone wants to pick on collegiate jocks for their often less than taxing academic requirments, it seems the “class” most often mentioned is Underwater Basket Weaving.  Regardless if this is or ever was an actual college course, I never understood why it was the one people always seemed to bring up, as it sounds incredibly difficult.  I’ve always had a weird kind of facsination with college catalogs, thumbing through them to see what other bizarre or interesting classes may be offered at the country’s halls of higher learning.  My current institution of choice, American Military University, has trumped them all I think.

While looking at the list of available classes to find which electives I might like to take, I found some very interesting possiblities.  It has run-of-the-mill type courses like American Literature before the Civil War, nestled between Weapons of Mass Destruction Incident Command and Forecasting Terrorism.  Ok, I guess those could come in handy.  Let’s see after my class in Microeconomics I have to be sure to finish my reading for Unconventional Warfare.  There’s one class called History of Space.  Not History of Space Flight, or Space Exploration, or Space Observation, but Space itself.  How does that work?  And doesn’t a class on the History Military Rentention sound intriguing?  Or how about Small Unit Leadership?  You could dominate in your next paintball sortie.  Don’t think you won’t regret not taking Port Security.  Its like not taking college level Chemistry.  You don’t think you’ll ever need it, until you do.  Why study Meteorology and become just another weather man when you can take a course in Space Weather and be just another weather man who knows about space weather?  Can’t find where those punk kids hid your keys?  Should have taken that class on Interrogation.

So, I’ve decided to have a little fun with this.  When my schooling is nearly complete and I only have one class left to take, somewhere around 2012 I’m guessing, I am letting you, the Reader, pick from a list of five unusual classes which one I will take.  Assuming I am at a point where my academic record will not be too badly besmirched should I bomb it.  I have placed a link to a poll in the sidebar to the right under the heading The Question——->.  Unfortunately at the moment WordPress doesn’t allow javascript on their blogs (or only certain things anyway) so I can’t display the poll itself, but they tell me they are working on this, so hopefully soon it will be available in the sidebar.  For now, click the link and vote for your fave.  When that day finally arrives, and I have the good grades to warrant such a stunt, I will take the class that has received the most votes.  I think I’ve picked some pretty good choices.  I’ll write them here, but don’t forget to vote. 

Spycraft

Space Station Systems & Operations

Intelligence & Assassination

Airport Operations

Mind of a Terrorist

RE: Wednesday Review: My History Final

American Military UniversityResult:  266 out of 300 possible points, 89%.

Verdict:  A little disappointing.

It’s amazing what a little (or a lot) of maturity will do to the way you perceive your grades.  (Maybe its not maturity, but a realization that another decade of college does not look so good on a resume without some magic letters after the name, ie. PhD, MBA, etc.)  There was a time not so long ago when I would’ve gladly danced a jig for an 88.  Now all of a sudden I care; not only that I pass, but by what the margin of passage is.  Weird.

 Oh, why not just develop this into a full post…..

In my younger years I was very content just to pass.  I wasn’t a D student or anything, but I was the king of the slide-by, to the chagrin of my parents and at least one uncle who all knew I could supposedly do better.  In high school I found I could (nearly) maintain a B average with minimal work and a carefully calculated class schedule.  I managed to avoid the sciences beyond what was required by the state.  While the rest of my junior class was taking Chemistry second period, I was playing errand boy for the office staff.  I wrastled my way through Algebra II, thanks in no small part to a tutor, who also happened to be one of my best friends, who although was instrumental in me barely passing, derived endless entertainment from making me do problems involving imaginary numbers, an absurd concept to any rationally minded human person in the first place, which we actually studied in class for a grand total of about two weeks at most.  If I were to protest my “friend” would yell to my mother, “Mrs. Bauer, Andy won’t listen to me.”  You still have not sufficiently answered for this, Scummmmmmmmmmmmmmm.  Beware, I have friends in San Diego.

By the time I got to junior college, my study habits were in a shambles if they had ever existed at all.  I had learned to rely far to heavily on my uncanny ability for trivia retention, which works great for most social sciences, not so much for actual sciences or math.  Not to mention that any usable knoweldge had to first navigate the wasteland of my mind dodging Simpson’s quotes and the batting average of every Anaheim Angel from 1986 to the present.  My first semester or two I was able to fake my way through, but that B average quickly dropped to a C average as the degree of difficulty increased.  Before long I was heedlessly ditching or dozing through classes.  Coupled with not doing the reading I should have been, unsurprisingly, I struggled.  Often I would use the excuse of, “Well, this anthropology class is teaching things that are contrary to what I believe the Bible teaches about the origins of man.  So I’ll sleep through it.”  Yes, quite a witness I was.  When life gives you lemons, ignore them and take a nap.  Where was that in the Bible again, II Hesitations?  (FYI, there is no II Hesitations.  Or I Hesitations).   After my first couple semesters I never took a full load of classes again, managed to lose my Doyle scholarship which was paying me to be there, and got the first F of my academic career, in the aforementioned Anthropology class.

Fortunately, I was only a scholastic deadbeat.  I worked full-time and eventually moved out of my parents house.  I took classes here and there; the ones that interested me, like film, radio station operation and history, I did fairly well in.  The ones I didn’t find as interesting like math and astronomy were more of a struggle, but after those first couple years I was able to squeak by…or drop before they’d end up on my permanent record. There were extenuating circumstances for some of the struggles, such as switching to the graveyard shift at work in the midst of a 7:30 AM math class, but not enough to justify taking six years to get a two year degree.  In the summer of 2002 I finally vanquished my arithmatic enemy, scoring a B in the last math class I would ever have to take and fulfilling the last requirement for that much coveted AA degree.  However, I did not receive my diploma for another year and a half because I hadn’t paid my $2 transcript forwarding fee.  Its always something with these people.  “He didn’t pay his fees!  He shows up two minutes late!  He snores during my lectures!”  Pppbbbbbbbbbbbbtt.

I took one class at Sonoma State University a couple years ago and enjoyed it.  I was all set to continue there, and actually excited about it now that I’d decided to wholeheartedly go after a BA in History, but of course something had to go awry.  I had my classes planned out and my work schedule all…scheduled, and I called SSU to register.  The woman on the other end of the line took the wind right out of my sails.  She was very curt and said, “Sorry all classes are filled.  You’ll have to wait until next semester.”  It sounded rehearsed.  Apparently there was some kind of faculty/administration row going on and I was a victim.  Just like that some random, disgruntled State University employee completely deflated my budding enthusiasm for school and I put it off another year and a half.

 Now I’m back in the saddle thanks to the American Public University system.  Originally intended for those in the military to be able to finish college while deployed, all classes are 100% online.  I get my books for free, can go to class in my skivvies (don’t dwell on that too long), my work picks up 75% of the bill up to 5K a year, and I don’t have to look another professor in the eye again.  I love it.  I still can’t study worth a darn, but I’m determined to get this done.  And in about two years, give or take a month or six, I’ll have completed my 12-year plan.  What then?  I’m working on a new 12-year plan for that.