Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Spring Semester of 2012 in Review

And lo, not only has Winter’s skeletal hand withdrawn fully from the skies, but the birds have returned, the flowers have blossomed, the trees have grown green and full, and the mosquitoes arrange themselves in swarming columns along the roadside, supporting the hungry sky like a vampiric pantheon. 

In short, Kansas summer has at long last arrived.

Vastly different from my time in my old alma mater, Miskatonic U, has been my time at Wossamotta.  


Not mine.

Ah, good old Miskatonic.  Though my time there was brief and rife with tumult (and not, alas, tumultuous and rife with briefs), I remember it as though it were only a meal ago.  Those tenebrous halls, those carefully-constructed corners. Through those fifth-dimensional archways has many a generation of dedicated scholars walked, slithered, or flown when they were only meant to crawl, on to greater glory and illumination.  How we would gather after we had fed Those Who Dwell Below, hands still damp and hearts still racing, to intone our beloved school song:

Miskatonic, Miskatonic
Tentacles so green
Spawn of Yog-Sothoth, Cthulu,
Other things obscene
We shall honour, we shall conjure
Black and greenish hue
Out of light and into shadow
Miskatonic U.

. . . but forgive me.  I was speaking of Wossamotta.

Mondays last semester were full of Dignified Gibberish.  And while I have never been one for rules, I will say that my studies into medical terminology has caused me to question my stance on allowing doctors to write their own prescriptions.  Never since Doctor Stephen Strange decided to write his own eye chart have I encountered such a collection of nonsensical requirements of tongue and wit.  Sometimes in Greek, sometimes in English.  Sometimes named for its function.  Sometimes for its shape.  And sometimes for someone who had waited all his or her life to know that some parasitic growth would be christened in their honour. 

Were it not for Prof. Deist’s fine lectures – all recorded in case I needed to review – I would probably have eaten my textbook in sheer frustration.  

The last week was the worst: human reproductive organs (yay!), but chased down with a double-fistful haul of pharmaceuticals, instruments, body positions and procedures with no system or style whatsoever.  And all the while the book’s authors pretending this rubbish actually made sense.  It was at this point when I actually lost my patience and threw the book across the room.  Cineradiography?  Very well.  Transesophageal echocardiography?  If you must.  But pruritus vulvae?  For a single vulva?  We’re doing pigeon Latin now?  Seriously?

It was therefore with great satisfaction that I ceremoniously dumped the more than three thousand note cards I had accumulated during this class into the Recycling bin.  Final Grade: A.

Tuesdays were replete with Public Shrieking.  While perhaps three students remained in my Dignified Gibberish class, Public Shrieking had a good eight people left standing.  I do not understand why so many measures seem to be making it harder to attend college; so few people seem to have the constitution for it that it's essentially self-filtering.

Public Shrieking was highly enjoyable.  Prof. Apollo was very passionate about what she taught, and encouraged creativity and passion from her students as well.  Medusa made it through to the end, likewise her young Maedar, who not only returned to class but gave several very good presentations.

The last speech was a group project, based around presenting an imaginary product.  This was my only problem with the class.  In addition to homework, studying, whatever jobs we hold and family we work (or vice versa), must we also try to coordinate with multiple other adults outside of class, who are in the same pickle but with different variables?  Fortunately, Internet to the rescue.  We designed the presentation to be completely modular and managed to put together a magnificent display with only having emailed one another outside of class two or three times.

Our product line was fashionable sap gloves for ladies’ self-defense.  Prof. Apollo particularly liked the spokesperson for our product.  Cruella Deville never looked so good.  Final Grade: A.

Wednesdays were for my Early American History class, a condensed look into the politics and power-hungry land-snatching games the USA’s Founding Fathers played from early colonization through post-Reconstruction.  Okay, there was more than that, but . . . distinctly my favorite class.  Prof. Osiris values comprehension over rote.  She sicced us on each other in Socratic discussions, had us do thesis papers and reports, and the tests always had huge, lovely essay questions at the end.

"Vote for Jackson who can fight, not for Adams who can write!"
--Americans tended to be muffin-heads back then, too.

I had to miss a few classes when I caught a flu, choosing between time in History or time in Alchemy.  Freshman triage.  You have to love it.  But nonetheless, between Prof. Apollo’s lectures, the slides she chose (including period art, to give us a sense of the culture), and the very fine textbooks she used, it was a highly enjoyable course.  If circumstances allowed I would take her later History classes, and I might anyway after I get my degree, just for fun.  Final Grade: A.

Thursdays were my bugbear.  Napoleon had Russian winters.  Xerexes had the Greeks.  Julius Caesar had Asterix and Obelix.  And now, I have had Modern Alchemy and Breaking Bad.

Taking Modern Alchemy was like having to memorize chapters out of a book of card games, with lab being the only time you get to actually examine the cards.  Only some of the cards, though, and only some hands.  And no, you can’t take them home.

The first half of the class wasn’t that bad, though as usual I excelled in the lab portion of the class.  I have a knack for problem solving, and many of the exercises we faced were essentially extensions of algebraic thought.  And I got to learn a new way of problem solving, using conversion factors and significant figures.  So it was even kind of fun at first.

Dragon Poker

But about halfway through the class went from playing Bridge and Whist to playing Dragon Poker, while simultaneously increasing speed and workload.  In other words: organic chemistry.  I don’t know how many times I asked a question to clarify my understanding of the system at hand, only to be told that since this was just an introductory class there just wasn't time to go into that kind of depth.  

Of course, I didn't help matters much when I completely lost track of time (as I sometimes do) and suddenly I had twelve hours to turn in a two-week project.

What the hell.  95% is still an A.

I managed to pad my grade enough that my final exam's score still allowed me to keep my overall grade, if only barely.  It dropped from 84.65% to 80.24%.  But I kept it just the same, and it was with satisfaction equal to that of those damned note cards that I recycled my plastic lab goggles.  Final Grade: B.

So, after more than twenty years away from campus life, here’s the final score.

Dignified Gibberish (or: “What Ancient Greeks Called That Thing That Hangs Down at the Back of Your Throat”): A.

Public Shrieking (or: “Never Let Them See You Sweat”): A.

Early American History (or: “Why White People Suck”): A.

Modern Alchemy and Breaking Bad (or, “Why Can’t Johnny Blink?”): B.

Overall GPA: 3.65 (Modern Alchemy was a five-credit class).

So I'm taking the summer off now, thank you, and back into the salt mines in the fall.  My next post should be up Friday as usual.  Until then this is Coyote saying, “If you can’t frighten them off with a show of teeth, then strangle them with your tongue.”

Sometime Again,

(Anakin Skywalker (c) Lucasfilms as everyone knows, but I have no idea who the lovely lady on top of him is; Miskatonic University was created by the late great Howard Philip Lovecraft a long time ago but the Cthulhu picture is courtesy of and in any event, all relevant rights reserved by original creators; "seriously?" coyote pic courtesy of, all rights reserved, say thank ye; the book sandwich is courtesy of but started out as a McDonalds ad in Hungary; the "speech" diagram is courtesy of; Cruella deVille is (c) Disney all rights reserved; the Dragon Poker pic is courtesy in reference to the game inferred / created by Bob Asprin; and Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner are of course (c) Warner Brothers, thankee-sai to Mel Blanc for giving him the perfect voice.)

No comments:

Post a Comment