First Day of Winter-Session

Winter Break is over, for me at any rate. I played a lot of video games (damned Steam holiday sales). I played (am playing actually) Mirrors Edge, FTL, a little bit of STO, a lot of Minecraft, replayed The Walking Dead, and fell in love with Closure. I, surprisingly, didn’t play much in the way of Guild Wars 2, though I thought about it a lot. I also added quite a few new games to my to do list (I won’t list them that would get pretty tedious).

I did some stuff, such as going to my folks house for Christmas, with the kids.My folks have lived in the same place my whole life, well my father has any way, there was a divorce and my mother and I moved around the state a bit, then they got remarried and once again live in the same place. They have some pretty nice views now. That wasn’t the case last year. Over the summer there was a forest fire, one of the largest in the country and the deep forest around my folks place was pretty heavily burned back. There were quite a few neighbors who lost their homes, and my father who lost his paper boxes and that’s it gained some survivor’s guilt. Funny that, he fought in World War II, he is roughly of an age with my wife’s Grampa Santa, he never liked to talk about the war, but I never got the impression he had any survivor’s guilt from it, though to be fair I don’t think his ship really lost many men, but this fire in which nobody was killed (one person received some minor burns) has deeply affected him.

We have some family drama going on with the house, there. Continue reading “First Day of Winter-Session” »

Grades Came Out Today

I’m hard on myself. Harder than I should be, but not harder than I need to be. I’m capable of quite amazing things sometimes, but I need to be driven to do it.

I’m sure I’ve posted this in the past, but I slacked off a lot the first few times I tried college. My GPA heading into this semester was about 1.7, pretty terrible. I didn’t try, I didn’t care, I just wanted the piece of paper at the end and I didn’t figure it mattered what my grades were.

That’s why I’ve set my sights so high. I’m aiming for medical school, because I must do well to get there, it’s the doing well I really want. Fortunately so far this time through I have done well. I’ve gone from Academic Probation to the Dean’s List, my overall GPA is now 2.58. That’s not necessarily something to write home about but it is a huge improvement.

My lowest grade was not terribly surprisingly, Geology in which I received an A- or 3.7, across the board everything else that counted was an A or 4.0. My Algebra was an RA+, but because it was a remedial class it doesn’t figure into my GPA, which is a little disappointing given that I did so well.

I knew I was looking at an A in psychology, I hated the course but was doing exceedingly well in it the whole time. I knew I  had an A in Algebra, but wasn’t sure whether or not it mattered. I wasn’t sure what I was going to get in my Biology courses I needed a C+ in both of them and figured I had it and was hoping for a B at least in the lecture, but wasn’t sure if I would exceed that threshold by much for the Lab. Geology I felt like I was drowning the whole time, I was set to be happy with any passing grade just to clear the previous two failed attempts at it from my GPA.

My half-assed attempts will always remain on my transcript, but they will no longer count against my grades. Fortunately I had a chance to speak to my Biology Professor while he and my wife were both a little ill in the same clinic. He told me that my poor performance previously followed by dramatic improvement may actually work in my favor, when it comes to getting accepted to medical school. I hope that he is correct, and I have no reason to doubt him. He’s seen this attempted thousands of times in his over twenty years of teaching he knows how often it succeeds (rarely), and how often it fails (usually). Apparently every Biology major is planning on going to be a Doctor someday, and his usual attitude is jokingly dismissive of them. I always find it amusing because I’ve done the research and I know how few students are accepted each year.

I’m looking forward to taking Anthropology over winter-session, mainly just to get another class out of the way, and hopefully to bump my GPA a bit more.

Completely Done With Rocks

The first two times I went to college I was not a science major. I took Geology 101 to meet my science requirements, because it was widely considered to be the easiest way to meet them. I rarely attended the lecture except on test days, where I showed up completely unprepared and took the test simply on my ability to take a test. I got a C in the lecture class. The lab on the other hand was absurdly early in the morning and I almost never made it to class, so I failed.

When I first tried to come back to school I retook the lab, again it was at about five in the morning and I was working until midnight at the time. So again I failed it.

Of course that means I needed to take it for a third time. I made sure that I got a better class time, and attended religiously. This time though the class is much harder. Over all I was doing pretty well. Going into the final I was looking at a 90% for the class. Though my final lab score was my worst yet, which was disappointing for me since I felt pretty confident about it.

When I started the final I kind of started to freak out a bit, the questions required that I recite loads of Geology terminology, that I had forgotten. It struck me that, that’s one of the things I don’t care for in Geology, there is a lot of memorization. Memorization is not knowledge. I understand the concepts, concepts are easy and make sense and to me I see that as the important part. So where I didn’t know the word I tried to get away with explaining the concept for partial credit.

There is a limit to how negatively that can effect my grade. There where quite a few answers that I did know and I don’t want to give the impression that I feel like I did horribly. I would estimate that I’ll probably get a B on the test which should overall bring my grade to a high B or low A. Celebration is really in order because unless I am severely mistaken, I will never again need to know a god-damned thing about rocks.

Today is my last Final of the semester, in Algebra. I’m feeling pretty confident going into this, there is very little chance that I will come out of this class with anything but a high A. It’s a “Remedial” class so I don’t know how much that can effect my GPA, but we’ll see.

Three Down Two to Go.

I had my biology lecture final today, and received my biology lab final back as well. I did study today and felt pretty good going into the lecture. During the test there were only two questions that I stumbled on (out of sixty-four, if I recall correctly) and one of those was dyslexia related. The question as written just didn’t make sense to me and I was unsure what it was asking. All-in-all though I’m very optimistic about it.

I missed only one question on my lab final, but got the bonus question so there I got 31/30. I still felt pretty bone-headed for missing the question I missed, if i had taken my time and actually looked in my lab notebook I wouldn’t have missed it.

The lower image is in essence what appears in my notebook, and the question was about the nerve cords, which like in most arthropods are ventral, I put dorsal. It’s a silly mistake.

Almost there

I’ve almost reached the end of my first semester back in school after a several year break. It’s time to start reflecting back on it all. Two classes are over and done with.

The way my PSYX 100 class is graded there is no point in attending the final on Wednesday. I’m looking at 431 out of a possible 430 points on the grading scale in that class. Even if the extra credit points don’t work that way I’m still looking at 426/430 which is still in the tier of the highest grade possible. The class allows the lowest score of the five tests administered including the final to be dropped. There is no score that can possibly be gotten on the final that will make a 98% worth dropping.

Aside from that my BIOB 171 (biology lab) class is completely over. I’m not sure how I did in it, I know that my score will be sufficient that I will not have to retake it to continue on in my Major, but I’m not much more optimistic than that. For being only a 2 credit class, it has easily required more time devoted to it than all of my other classes combined. Other sections did not have it this rough, it pretty much comes down to the instructor and what he expected from his students. To be fair I learned from the experience, and I’m fairly certain I will do better in my upcoming classes because of it. I don’t think that trial by fire is the best way to handle a 100 level biology lab.

I have my biology lecture final on Monday. My grades to this point are fine, I’m looking at somewhere in the neighborhood of a B if things continue to go as they have. I would like to do better than that, and I think if I knock my final out of the park I will. I have had problems with studying for the other tests in that particular class, they are all simple multiple choice tests and I am familiar with the material, I knew I would pass every one and had other classes with more immediate demands on my time. Now I really can devote the necessary time to study to do really well on the test.

Then Thursday I have both my Geology and Math finals. I’m not terribly concerned over my Geology final, I’m familiar enough with the concepts to do well enough. If I can replace the failing grade I’ve gotten in Geology in the past with any passing grade I’ll be happy and so will my GPA, that’s a fairly realistic goal. My current overall grade in the class is in the mid nineties, so I don’t foresee any situation that could arise on the final that would greatly change that. Math is more of the same my current grade is in the high nineties, I’m familiar with the material, and I’m allowed a single page of notebook paper hand written front and back of notes to help me with some of the trickier aspects.

Things are in short going well and I expect that trend to continue.

Fallen Behind

I managed to fall pretty far behind on my schoolwork.

I hit a wall of depression and let things lag, that could lag, until I was really far behind and had to scramble to catch up. Yeah, let’s not do that again. I was pretty down on myself about that Algebra test I posted about last time. Well I still got a low A on that test so it wasn’t so bad. It reminded me about some of the test taking strategies that I’ve known forever but wasn’t using.

I did the questions in the order they appeared on the test. That last question on the test was a 10 point question so it was a bad one to stumble on and I wouldn’t have stumbled on it if I had more time to work on it. So in all the tests since I’ve done the high value questions first it reduces the risk. If I don’t have time to finish a question it will be a lower point value question now.

I also delayed doing a two to three page paper for my Biology lab. When I finally did it two days before it was due it had only taken me a total of maybe six hours including reading a number of scientific studies. Again lesson learned.

I am finally on track again and I’m looking at a significantly improved GPA after this semester.

I Hate Today

I had an algebra exam today, I think I did worse than I’ve done on any test since 7th grade. I stumbled on the last question and couldn’t come up with the answer (35/13). It was a 10 point question, the best I can possibly do on the test without that answer is %90 assuming I got every single other question correct, which is a pretty big assumption, I felt rushed on a few of the questions.

Observer Bias

Right, my week.

We received the word on Sunday, that Josie’s Grampa Santa had died in the night. Indeed his funeral is today. Wayne Putz was his name, and he’s a hero, in really a lot of ways. To just touch on the high points, he was one of the earliest frogmen in the navy in WWII. He was also a father and grand father to a lot of good and kind people, so what if my mother-in-law is bat-shit-crazy, other than her his success ratio was pretty high there. In Boulder City Nevada, he was Santa Claus. He could walk into a convenience store to buy a six-pack of beer in shorts sandals and a t-shirt in July and all the kids would still marvel at him and tell their mommies to “look it’s Santa!” He pretty much brought joy with him every where he went. Though I never loved him like my wife and her family does, I will always hold him in very high esteem.

I ended up canceling my hotel and preregistration for the Great Falls Gaming Rendezvous that was unfortunate, I was really looking forward to going and witnessing the birth of a new convention.

School has been a little rough this week, mostly because of the death in the family. I’ve been trying to catch up on my school work as well as be there to comfort my wife and daughter who are taking this particularly hard. My son doesn’t really seem to understand, but perhaps he will understand better when he and Josie come home from the funeral in Nevada. He’s had to endure this without the benefit of having had a pet die, I’ve been thankful that my daughter did have that experience to put this death into context.

Tuesday is pretty much lab day for me, I have my Biology Lab from 0800-1200 and then my Geology Lab (formerly known as rocks for jocks) from 1500-1700. We went outside (in Biology) and attempted some science, which was pretty frustrating for me largely due to the way my group was running around like crazy and not approaching anything in a logical quantifiable way.

I rather thought that when our instructor handed out our syllabus that he was expecting too much from a 100 level class, but I have always done well under pressure so I was basically OK with it. As time goes on we are expected to think like scientists without a frame of reference for what that means, and I find it increasingly frustrating. It’s not that I don’t understand what’s expected, I do, it’s that we work almost exclusively in groups and the others in the group often don’t, and would just rather half ass things than find out or listen when they are told what is expected.

My lecture classes are going pretty much as well as one could expect I think. I did last night have a chance to talk to Psych Girl and I admit that it’s possible that last weeks flirtation incident, the one I recall as “unmistakable” could have been nerves of another sort. We had a chance to chat before class, and I’m glad we did.

Which brings me to the title of this post, Observer Bias, it is possible that I cast the nervous gestures I saw in the light of flirtation, because that’s how I wanted to see them? Going back and looking at the gestures objectively in the context in which they were presented I see a girl who…

  • Is looking at me almost every time I look over at her.
  • She leaned over to ask me a question regarding the test, despite the presence of somebody else as close or closer on her other side.
  • She blinked more than I would consider normal as she did it

The environmental elements that must also be considered are…

  • It was a test day.
  • She had missed the preceding week and therefore two of the three chapters covered on the exam.
  • This years fire season has been not quite as smoky as seasons in the past, but it has been very long, and the air is filled with irritants, the cumulative effects of which are becoming quite harsh and harder to deal with.

In this light I’m forced to ask is this flirtation or not? Our conversation could not necessarily eliminate it as a possibility, but it did certainly open up the possibility that it could have been more to do with the context of the incident than the incident itself.

My goal for our conversation, if I could be said to have one, was to kind of “freind-zone” each-other. I think that can be said to have gone swimmingly, and I am now much less distressed by her presence.

Now I must clean house before people come over for Pathfinder tonight.

As Promised a New Post

This week has been a pretty rough one, mostly due to poor decisions I made over the weekend.

I largely opted not to do homework over the weekend. This was knowing that I was going to have two exams on Wednesday. I waited until the last minute to do basically everything. I didn’t do my Prelab work for my Biology lab until the night before. I didn’t finish a reading asignment for my Biology lecture until the day before the exam. I didn’t really finish reviewing for my Psych exam until fifteen minutes before class.

Psych kind of brings up a predicament for me.

Not the class but one of the students. Many students in this class are straight out of high school, very immature, very annoying. This problem student isn’t one of them. Quite the opposite in fact. She seems intelligent, and thoughtful, She was even flying her geek flag the first day of school in a Batman T-Shirt.

That first day she did something that I interpreted as flirtatious. At the time I just chuckled quietly to myself, because she was about the eighth or so girl to do that to me that day. Most of these girls are clearly freshmen, and I don’t know, maybe looking at the older men because they happen to be off the leash for the first time in their lives. I’m not an expert I don’t know why but as a bald thirty something with a big beard, I get hit on a lot.

Anyway I took notice of Psych class girl, there was something about her I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I gravitate towards her, I’m more likely to engage a subject if she is engaged with it. I have started to find it all quite annoying.

Then last week she was absent, a bunch of even more annoying kids showed up, and altogether I was happy with the trade. That ended today, she was back, and unmistakably flirting with me. Tousling her hair, asking what she missed batting her eyes at me. I was really uncomfortable.

Here’s why. She looks like a mid-twenties version of my wife, and it turns out that I have a type.

I guess if the worst problem I have at school is that a girl I find attractive is flirting with me, things are going pretty well.

Now I have about seven or eight homework assignments to catch up on.

New Beginings

Man, it’s been crazy lately.

You may notice that I haven’t updated a damned thing in over half a year. Yeah sorry about that.

I just wanted to take a moment to say where I am, where I’ve been, and where I think I’m going.

First of all a month or two ago, I honestly can’t recall at this point I was very ill for a few days. Not a life threatening thing or anything, just, you know, sick, like a really bad cold. For those few days my online presence dropped to pretty much zero. When I was recovering I had noticed something strange had happened. The world kept on spinning. Fire didn’t rain down from the skies. The oceans didn’t swallow Cuba. Everything was pretty well as I left it.

Before this, I had visited The Boards at Saga-Edition.com every single day since about a week after it’s inception, barring military obligation. I was the first Moderator and later the first Administrator. When the site owner’s real life took off, I kind of felt it my responsibility to make sure everything kept running smoothly. Which I did to the best of my ability, for a very long time. To this end I also promoted a couple of the community’s other members to admin as well as naming maybe half a dozen other moderators over the years. In the month or two before I got sick we started to be inundated daily with dozens of spam threads, that we did not have the permissions to take care of adequately. I really started to feel the burden of running Saga-Edition.com then. I was having difficulty with the concept that I was putting more of my time and effort into running it than the guy who owned it. I did this primarily because I loved the community and too a much lesser extent because I like the Star Wars Saga-Edition role playing game, and now that the license has expired on it, fan sites like ours are the only way to keep it alive.

Then I fell ill, I watched TV, I slept, I read to my children, that was about it for three days.

When I was feeling up to it I got on my computer and pointed my browser right at the boards again. There were a few new posts, I recall, but nothing much had happened. That was a life changing moment for me, it’s strange how often those can be just tiny things. I did something then that I had not done so far as I recall within memory, I pressed the log out button. I haven’t been back. I was running a game there and playing in two others, so I do feel bad about leaving the other folks who were waiting on me in the lurch, but I doubt I’m coming back.

Much of this post has been written as an apology of sorts to The Boards community, as such it’s a bit rambley. Much of this also applies to the folks I play(ed) STO with as well, but I doubt as many of them care as much where I’ve been.

So Here’s where I am now. I am currently enrolled at the University of Montana as a Biology major, Human Biological Sciences to be exact. I’m doing well despite the difficulties of being a nontraditional student. When I’m done here I expect to go to medical school, but it’s a long road between here and there, and it is my intent at the moment to chronicle that road here.

Right now I don’t have any classes on Thursdays so I’m going to attempt to put my week in perspective and post here then.