Back to School

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After taking off the weekend to recover from my cold, I dove back into schoolwork with both feet today. Algebra class went well, and even let out a little early, but for the first time I could not understand what was being covered in class. I’m chalking that up to the fast pace of the class and the copious notes that I take there. I was falling a little behind and it just so happened that my instructor was covering this one concept while I was trying to catch up, and I couldn’t make sense of the process once I’d gotten to that point in the notes. So I stayed after and got him to explain it again, and this time it clicked. It’s a fairly simple process once I understood what’s happening, but since I didn’t know what I was doing, I couldn’t figure it out by just looking at the executed process for a change. (First time that’s happened in class, too.) I came home and with today’s lecture fresh in my mind did the take-home quiz that’s due on Wednesday.

Once I’d finished with the quiz, I took a fairly long break to prep dinner and clean up afterwards. Since Monday and Wednesday nights we only have a window of maybe 45 minutes between the time we get home from picking my wife up at work to the time I need to leave for class, we’re starting to pre-cook dinners for those nights, so the only thing we need to do is heat and go. After that, I started in on my biology homework that’s also due Wednesday. I didn’t get very far, but I got the process started, and now there’s a lot of cleaning up and formatting that has to happen, something I’ll get to tomorrow morning.

Biology tonight was an interesting affair. We started with receiving our most recent quiz. I scored a 9.5/10 on it, which took my overall score in the class to 60/60. (I’m a little proud of that.) I took rather thorough notes tonight, partially because I could make heads or tails out of what my instructor was lecturing about and partially because my study partner was having trouble seeing the board this evening to take notes in our shared document. I told her to take it easy and do what she could, and I’d fill in the blanks when I got home after class. The lecture took a turn for the personal for her. She has a rare disease that’s taken quite a toll on her over the past few years, and one of the examples that our instructor was using seemed to be describing her illness to a T. In the document chat, we got off on a tangent about the progress of research for a treatment/cure, and we postulated what advances might be in the works right now.

I asked my study partner if she wanted me to follow her home after class because of her vision problems, but she assured me that she’d be fine, and that she’d text me when she got home. I came home after that and updated the notes in our shared document as promised, and sent her a text asking her to let me know if she needed anything explained.

The rest of the evening has been goofing off at the computer, and wrapping things up before what I hope will be an early night. I have a lot of schoolwork to do tomorrow. I have the biology homework that’s due on Wednesday to knock out, and then I have to start in on the rest of my algebra homework that I’m terribly behind on and that is doe on the 25th. I’m hoping that I can get most of it done before the weekend, since I have weekend plans all day Saturday and part of the day Sunday, and that’s going to significantly eat into any potential study time that I’d have over those two days. I don’t want to stay home this weekend because of schoolwork.

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Day of Grades

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Today in algebra class I turned in my fourth quiz and got back my first homework assignment, my third quiz, and my first test, all in one shot.

The homework assignment wasn’t a big worry, since the answers for most of the questions were in the back of the book, and I checked those questions once I completed them to make sure I was right, or to find out what I needed to change to get the correct answer. These were graded on a ten point scale and I got full marks, 10/10.

The quiz was a concern, however. This was the quiz that I turned in early because of my trip to California last month, and as soon as I got through the lecture that day I knew I’d screwed up. My instructor even told me there was one that he saw on a perfunctory glance that I got wrong, so I went in expecting the worst. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I’d scored an 85 on it.

Then came the test. This was my first closed-book grade in the course and I was very nervous. I took over an hour to get through the 11 questions on it and I left thinking that it could have gone either way. I was worried, though. This one single test represented 21% of my final grade, so if I screwed up even one question, it would measurably affect things in the long run. I flipped the paper over and saw “94 – Very Good!” and I could feel the tension melt away.

The best I can tell, I’m carrying an A average in both algebra and biology, which I’m very happy with at this point in the semester. It’s been a bit of a struggle at times juggling the demands of two classes, but for the most part things have been relatively stress-free. I don’t anticipate that continuing into next semester, however. The plan is to take on a full-time course load, and that’s going to cause some changes in my daily routines. Some things on my checklist will go by the wayside because I just won’t have time to keep doing them. One of those things might be this blog, to an extent. I have written nearly every day this calendar year and I just don’t see me continuing to do that with a 12 credit hour schedule. I’ll likely either drop to a couple times a week, or have to severely curtail how verbose I get here. Still not sure which I’m going to wind up doing. (You guys read this thing, what do you think? Same detailed, long-winded posts less often, or still daily, just with shorter posts? Let me know in the comments or on one of my social media feeds if that’s how you got here.)

We were anticipating a weekend off from being social, but a friend pointed out that the SCA event that’s being held this weekend by the Norman, Oklahoma group is actually taking place in north Texas, which shaves about two and a half to three hours off the drive time, making it considerably more accessible. My wife and I haven’t visited our friends in the north of the kingdom for at least twelve years and we’ve been wanting to find a way to get up and spend some time with them. (For those unaware, the SCA kingdom that I live in is comprised of Oklahoma and that part of Texas in the Central time zone – in other words, basically everything but El Paso, so Oklahoma is north for us here in Austin.) We poked and prodded the budget and made this weekend’s event a possibility, so at this point we’re planning on attending. My therapist would be very happy to hear just how social I’ve been over the last five or six weeks.

Skankin’ Pickle Day

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Skankin’ Pickle was a California ska band that performed some rather … interesting songs. One of them is called “You Shouldn’t Judge A Man By The Hair On His Butt!!(Yes, really. Clink the link.) In it, the lead singer proffers that despite outward appearances, well, you shouldn’t judge a man by the hair on his butt. The lyrics are surprisingly sophisticated in places, like “Don’t be fooled, always be fair, this man just might know that E equals m c squared.” But the lyric that always struck me was “Don’t be fooled and change the station, this man just might know that negative b plus or minus square root b squared minus four a c all over 2 a is the quadratic equation.”

I was reminded of this song today in algebra class as today’s topic was quadratic equations and the quadratic formula. I learned a lot today, but I was also writing almost nonstop throughout class, to the point that the quart of water I usually finish by the end of class wasn’t even half gone when I packed up. But because of algebra class, I’ve had this song stuck in my head all day.

Schoolwork is finally starting to quiet down to a dull roar after the screwiness that surrounded my trip to California last month. This week I have another take-home algebra quiz due and a twice-postponed biology quiz scheduled for Wednesday. Around that, I would like to get a head start on the new homework assignment for algebra instead of falling behind like I did with the one I turned in this morning. It’s due on the 25th, so I have some time, but I’d prefer to do the homework as we cover the material in class.

Long Day in the Algebra Mines

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Not that much to report today. I slept very poorly last night so once I got my wife off to work I slept until nearly noon to make up for it. The problem with that is that I have a ton of algebra homework that I’ve put off and the deadline is Monday morning, plus I have an SCA event tomorrow, so I effectively have today and Sunday to get things done.

Once I did wake up and ate lunch, I started in on my homework, and kept my head down into that except for a few breaks until after 10:00 tonight. I am all algebra’d out for the day and am really looking forward to collapsing in bed and having a day off tomorrow.

I’m really going to have to work on my time management better if I want to handle a full 12 credits next semester.

Stress? What Stress?

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Today was my first full day back since vacation, and it was back to the usual grind. The morning’s algebra class went well, and I got to see my friend on the way out, as usual (but not for long, her class ends in a week). I went home to knock out my dailies in Secret World Legends and got a little distracted afterwards, but then got busy on cramming for my biology quiz tonight.

My study partner for biology is amazing. She takes impeccable notes in real-time with Google Docs and even adds diagrams where necessary, and she catches some things that I miss with my chicken scratch. (I have quite neat handwriting, but if I’m in a hurry, the careful practice that I put into a calligraphic-like hand goes out the window into something barely legible even to me.) Since it’s a shared document, we were both in it at the same time and after some conversation agreed to meet before class to get some last-minute studying in. She got delayed by an accident on her way to campus and so didn’t arrive until just a few minutes before class started. We tried to study, but there wasn’t much time.

Turns out, it wasn’t that big of a deal. Our instructor postponed the quiz until Monday, and so the evening was all lecture, which I took notes on the best I could. My partner was editing the Google Doc as she went, and we traded snark back and forth as our instructor went off onto wild tangents from time to time. Somewhere in there, we agreed to head to the local Starbucks after class to catch up on our studying, and that’s what we did.

There were so many students failing anatomy and physiology I that the college instituted an entrance exam for the course. The biology class that I’m in exists solely to prepare the student to take that exam. As a result, our class objectives pretty much mirror the objectives of the exam, and so rather than study more recent material in preparation for Monday’s quiz, we started working on plugging the answers into that objective list, since at the end of the day that’s really what we need to know coming out of this class. We worked together to find answers to bullet points while my partner did most of the data entry and generally had a good time sucking down coffee and studying.

So that adds a wrinkle to my plans between now and Monday night. Tomorrow is the deadline to take my first algebra test, and so I’m going to spend the morning studying before heading to my therapist’s appointment in the afternoon, then picking up my wife from work and heading home to program my radio show. Friday will be spent working on the first algebra homework assignment which is due Monday. Saturday I have an SCA event that I’ll be at pretty much all day, although I’m going to bring my books along in case I can sneak away and get some schoolwork done. Sunday will be spent finishing up the algebra homework and studying in earnest for the biology quiz, and then Monday everything’s due, and things should be returning back to the usual levels of panic and stress in my life.

Third Stage Complete

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(My blog posts for the next couple weeks are going to revolve around two things: my trip to the Bay Area, and my attempts to work my already hectic school schedule around the vacation.)

Going to have to be quick tonight, since it’s almost 10:30 and the alarm goes off in five hours from now, and there’s still a ton of stuff left to do before we’re packed.

Before I get into how my classes went today, let me follow up on the part in yesterday’s blog post where I talked about our water being out. The last I told you was that the water was expected to be turned on around midnight, so we should expect to wake up with running water.

We did not, in fact, wake up to running water.

Late this morning, we received an email profusely apologizing for the long delay in getting the water back online, and telling us that the plumbers were on site from noon yesterday until 6:30 this morning trying to make repairs. They said that they were waiting on the glue to dry and that things should be back to normal by noon, or hopefully before.

Noon came and went, and still no water.

At 1:40 pm I called the office and asked when the water would be turned back on. They said 2:00, so at 2:00 I just calmly walked to the kitchen sink and turned the faucet on, knowing what to expect. Sure enough, no water. So we called them again, and were told this time that the water will be back on at 4:00 pm, and if it’s not, call back and get an updated estimate.

They could not have said “your guess is as good as mine” any louder.

At 4:00 I was at my wife’s office, picking her up, and we stopped for food on the way home, so it was after 4:30 when we arrived. We got in, we finished our food, and I went back to the kitchen, knowing full well what to expect out of the faucet.

And finally, after 28 hours without it, there was water flowing from the faucet. I have never been more happy to be able to wash dishes and rinse reusable coffee filters and refill our four gallons of filtered water we keep in the fridge and all the other things that we use water for.

Anyway, enough about the Saga of the Missing Water, I meant to make this blog post about school, and I’ve failed miserably.

Got my second algebra quiz back. My streak of scores in the 90s is over. I broke it with a perfect 100, so that’s a decent thing. I also turned in the next quiz, since it’s due on Monday, and a lot of that quiz was dependent on today’s lecture. I did not do well on it at all. Fortunately I get to drop the two lowest quiz scores, so I’m hoping this will be a one-off situation and not an indication of my inability to progress further into algebra.

Got my first homework assignment back in biology. Scored a perfect 10 out of 10. The lecture was pretty intense – we’re currently covering the macromolecules and today we finished up carbohyudrates, went through lipids, and started in on proteins. I also got my first notes from my note-taking partner, and they are amazing – in Google Docs, complete with diagrams and illustrations taken from the web, as class was being dismissed. I couldn’t ask for anything better. I’m going to pick up a small souvenir from the San Francisco area for my two note-takers for Monday, and will have to do something nice for my biology partner at the end of the semester.

Well, that’s about all I have to offer at this point. It’s getting later and later, and I still have to pack computers and school supplies. My next blog post will be from California. See you then!


I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge my wife’s birthday is today. Happy birthday, my love. Can’t wait to be on vacation with you tomorrow.

Second Stage Complete

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(My blog posts for the next couple weeks are going to revolve around two things: my trip to the Bay Area, and my attempts to work my already hectic school schedule around the vacation.)

Today I found myself trapped in bed until nearly 10:30 am by our indoor/outdoor boy cat. He’s usually not keen on staying inside until later in the day, but this morning he was waiting on us when we looked outside around 6:30. He came in and beelined to the bedroom, which is his favorite place to be in the apartment, and I went in to join him. He seems to get lonely, and if we aren’t near him, he’ll tend to want to head back outside – but so long as one of us is near him, he’s content to stay indoors for hours at a time. It wasn’t long before I was smooth out, and he quickly joined me. I woke up again around 8:45, pet him a while, dozed back off, and then woke up for good an hour later, where I just stayed in bed while he lounged and slept. Once I finally got up, however, he was pretty much done, and it wasn’t long before he was back outside.

I’ve made it a habit to do my daily missions in Secret World Legends in the morning, and so I spent about an hour knocking them out and trying to manage a situation with the radio station’s stream. Not long after that, my wife called from work for her lunch hour, and so I was on the phone with her while continuing to goof off on the computer doing various things.

Once we hung up, however, it was time to knuckle down and get busy on homework. I have a take-home quiz that I need to turn in tomorrow, and a homework assignment that’s due tomorrow as well, and neither of them were done. I spent a while on the quiz, since some of the questions eluded me for some time before I finally figured out how to get them done – in fact, my wife was home for the evening before I finished things up. I took a break before heading back into the office to knock out the homework assignment, which fortunately didn’t take me long, since I’d already started on it. After that, it’s been an evening of getting my checklist items done and taking it easy.

The day hasn’t been without challenges, however. Sometime around noon, we got an email stating that the water to the entire complex was being turned off immediately so they could fix a broken water line, and oh yeah, they didn’t know when things would be done. Around about 6:00 pm we got a follow-up email stating that they’d found the problem and that they should wrap things up by midnight, barring unforeseen circumstances. So it’s been a long day of minimizing usage of things that require water, and that’s kind of tricky. We went to the store to try and pick up a couple gallons for general use and the shelves were completely empty. It’s been a bit of a challenge remembering that the water’s out, but things should be back to normal by the morning.

Tomorrow is going to be a long day. Algebra class in the morning, where I turn in that quiz, and biology in the evening, where I turn in the homework assignment. Somewhere in there, I need to pack for our trip on Thursday morning. The Lyft is scheduled to pick us up about 4:15 am, so there will likely be sleep somewhere between the apartment and San Jose, since there won’t be much tomorrow night.