Archive for April, 2007


Two down, two to go. As academe is wont to do, the most difficult is saved for the end. Sleep deprivation, the mind a jumbled collection of disparate ideas, unable to neatly categorize that which must be regurgitated logically, concisely, and accurately. It is true…….the brain needs time to digest, just like the stomach. As your mother taught you not to go swimming right after that delicious lunch on the beach, fearing a cramp, so is it inadvisable to go to an exam directly after cramming. I fear a major brain cramp. Ohhhh……woe is me!


Time waits for no student, and so it is for this newest member of the hampster wheel. Mercifully, most of my exams are not cumulative, but, still, the volume of material covered since mid-terms, in late February, is staggering.

From being expected to remember footnotes in books, and the when, where, and why thereof, to sweeping questions like the Fall of the Roman Empire and precise execution of the union of functions that are irrational, it is a stressful time for mind and body.

And, for the first time, I get the mind and body thing. Both need rest, and more importantly, exercise. The brain is in pretty good shape, but the body is going to need a lot of attention soon. So, another lesson learned: it’s all about balance and harmony. Keep the mind and body fit, and both will work at high levels for extended periods of time.

Maybe I can get the balance thing figured out in time for next semester.

The Last Day of Classes

Classes are over! Exams are next! Then, 10 glorious days of rest, relaxation, golf, and re-familiarization with my wife before we start all over again.

In honor of the occasion, a little Hamlet:

What is a man,
If his chief good and market of his time
Be but to sleep and feed? a beast, no more.
Sure he that made us with such large discourse,
Looking before and after, gave us not
That capability and godlike reason
To fust in us unus’d (4.5.35-41).

Hamlet didn’t have to write two papers in one weekend, and then study for some difficult exams.

Hamlet vs Haggard

Writing the Hamlet paper. As I think about, and try to put into my words, Hamlet’s lamentation of his condition, Merle Haggard sings softly in the background.

Says Hamlet:

I have of late – but wherefore I know not, – lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercises; and, indeed, it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory….
What a piece of work is Man…
And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me…

Says Merle Haggard:

Wishing all these old things were new…

Ahhh, the human condition.

Crunch Time

Today was the last day of classes for all the Tuesday/Thursday courses. Monday is the last day for the rest. Exams start next Wednesday. Still have two big papers due Monday, hopefully without that all-night nonsense of a few weeks ago, and then the final blast of studying for exams.

You might be asking how I feel. The answer is tired, stressed, mildly confident, and ready to move on. The acquired study habits, and the practice of same over the last 12 weeks, the restoration of the long-term memory and rehabilitation of the short-term memory, plus the knowledge that I have mastered the material of this semester all give me a comfortable sense that I can get through the next 10 days. But it is not about getting through. It is the challenge of maintaining the best possible grades; holding on to the value of the work already committed to the process.

And I’m gonna hold on……

As the late, great Jim Morrison said: “Break on through to the other side”.

Dude, I Was Like Six Years Old

On nice mornings, with coffee mug in hand, I like to sit in the common area of our classroom building before class starts. Today, I sat and watched the college chapter of Habitat for Humanity set up their booth to sell T-shirts to support their efforts in rebuilding homes in New Orleans. As I got up to go to class, one of the students offered me a “reload”, which I gratefully accepted. A brief conversation ensued, I was delighted to be communicating with another student. He told me how terrible New Orleans was, and is, and that maybe the city would yet again be inundated by another hurricane. I chimed in and started to tell him the the story of St. Genvieve and the flood in 1993. He let me ramble for a minute with a look of puzzlement on his face, and finally said:

“Dude, I was like six years old then!”

I guess I forgot how old I am…………

Exams Are in the Air

We’ve rounded the headland, and have our destination in sight. Between we students and Summer lie the perilous seas of EXAMS. Most of us are aware of the dangers and have begun to take the necessary steps to navigate the reefs. One of the most important steps is finishing the papers that are due on the last day of class. The library at my school is thronged with faces that I, a regular habitue’ of the facility, have not seen this semester. Which reminds me of a story that I heard recently, told to me directly by another student that was present at the moment.

At a prestigious university many miles from our humble academe, where the student body hails from all points of the compass and all corners of the globe, my source, also a diligent denizen of her library, overheard this comment from the group of Asian-American students that she regularly sees in the study area adjacent to her regular spot: “Must be close to exam time….all the white boys are starting to show up”.

It is apparently a universal law of the college experience………

“Life’s hard, son. It’s harder when you’re stupid.” — The Duke.

Education is a companion which no misfortune can depress, no crime can destroy, no enemy can alienate,no despotism can enslave. At home, a friend, abroad, an introduction, in solitude a solace and in society an ornament.It chastens vice, it guides virtue, it gives at once grace and government to genius. Without it, what is man? A splendid slave, a reasoning savage. - Joseph Addison
The term informavore (also spelled informivore) characterizes an organism that consumes information. It is meant to be a description of human behavior in modern information society, in comparison to omnivore, as a description of humans consuming food. George A. Miller [1] coined the term in 1983 as an analogy to how organisms survive by consuming negative entropy (as suggested by Erwin Schrödinger [2]). Miller states, "Just as the body survives by ingesting negative entropy, so the mind survives by ingesting information. In a very general sense, all higher organisms are informavores." - Wikipedia

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