Month: November 2009


First off, the study abroad program is officially a go. After this semester is over with, I’ll be back at home until mid-March working to save up as much money as possible, then I’ll take off and spend the rest of the year in Japan. Should be awesome, as long as I don’t end up dead in an alley somewhere.

We’re down to the last three weeks of class for the semester. All in all, I think I’ve done a pretty good job keeping my head above water. Earlier on I was sure I’d see a dip in my grades but now I’m not so sure of that. The last round of tests netted scores of 90, 92.5, 93, 95, and 95, in spite of two weeks of reduced sleep, increased stress, and a $1,400 housing bill.

All that’s left to do between now and finals week is to give a 10 minute presentation on Chinese coal mines, write a 5-7 page paper on the changes in Chinese rural life, write a 5-6 page paper on the relationship between pre-modern Chinese and their northern (barbarian) neighbors, and a 3-5 page paper for Japanese class on the aging population of Japan. All the reading is done, so all I need to do is write. In fact, the Power Point for the presentation is already done, I just have to roll into class one morning and talk about it. The Japanese paper is half-done – I had a hard time writing it from scratch in Japanese because I couldn’t get my thoughts together, so I just wrote it in English instead with the intention of translating it afterward. That netted about 1700 words’ worth of material (almost exactly as long as my Valkyria Chronicles review from last spring), so I’m sure I’ll be ok there. The other two papers will be written over Thanksgiving break, which starts after my comp sci lab next Tuesday night.

For me, the benefit of having all the reading done up front is that it makes the actual process of writing the paper an automatic thing. I’ve gotten pretty good at preparing for tests and papers over the last year and a half, and it’s showing with the ease which I was able to crank out the “rough draft” of that Japanese paper in about three hours. I had initially expected to need most of the Thanksgiving break to work on outstanding assignments, but now I’m almost thinking I can get them done Wednesday and then enjoy the long weekend.

As I mentioned before, I’ll be heading back out to San Francisco early next month to take the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test). Unfortunately, this visit will be nowhere near as epic as my first trip back in August – I’ll be flying in on Saturday and leaving Monday morning. The plan is to do whatever studying I need to Saturday night, take the test Sunday, swing by Japantown for a little bit afterward, and then go find something else to do before turning back in.

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More late night bloggings

I guess that’s three nights in a row, for the first time in… well, ever? Not sure what the scoop is tonight though, and I’m not sure I actually have anything to ramble about this time.

I actually worked this afternoon, for the first time in a week. The more time I spend getting our internet service database to line up with our billing database, the more I wonder if it wouldn’t just be easier in the long run for the kind folks who built our billing system to provide (or otherwise give me the keys to) an API that we can use to provision all our services out of. It makes sense, or at least it does to me considering it’s 4am. Somebody upgrades their speed, the order goes through the billing system, and bam it’s done. No losing the sheet of paper as it makes its way to the next room where the internet guy fills the order, and theoretically changes the speed. Somebody cancels or doesn’t pay their bill – turned off right away.

I’ve actually been able to roll some stuff I learned in this semester’s computer science class into the big project I worked on all summer. (You know, the project that was my life for 3 months, then 12 hours before it was supposed to go live we noticed the hardware we were going to upgrade at the same time didn’t work. So it got pushed back to Labor Day, then to fall break, then to…) This way in 3 or 4 years after I get lost in the wrong section of San Francisco and wind up dead at the hands of a deranged homeless person, the next person can come in and do whatever the hell they want without needing to worry about the heavy lifting database-type activities.

Ok, I guess I had something to ramble about this time.

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Well then

I tried studying for that Chinese history test some last night, and failed pretty bad. Every time I looked at the notes, my eyes just glazed over and my mind wandered. The comment I made to a friend about the situation was something along the lines of either I was completely prepared for the test and my brain was refusing to let me keep dawdling on what I already knew, or I was completely unprepared for the test and my brain was refusing to let me try to fix a hopelessly broken situation.

I’ve taken enough essay tests in the last year and a half to have a pretty good idea in advance of where my final grade’s going to be sitting. Basically, the longer I had to sit there at my desk and come up with a thesis statement and a couple or three examples offhand to support my answer to the question, the less confidence I have that I did well. Ideally, I want to see the outline in my head immediately or within a few seconds of reading through the question, and then as I write I want to be thinking about the next sentence, or the next paragraph. If I can’t start writing immediately, or if I stop writing because I can’t figure out what to put down next, that’s when I know I’m in trouble.

Thankfully, none of the bad stuff happened this morning. Even considering I spent the last week and a half studying with my back up against the wall, on top of missing a couple of lectures due to not being able to separate myself from the mattress some mornings, the essays went off without a hitch and I was never at a loss for what to do next. So I suspect I probably got an A on this test.

And now, back to procrastinating.

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Running out of gas

I’m so awake that Benadryl couldn’t put me down. That’s sad.

Halfway through the second round of tests for this semester. Had a Japanese test last Thursday which I did pretty good on, an east Asian civ. test on Monday which I did pretty good on, and still to come are a Chinese history test in a couple hours, a music history test on Friday, and a comp sci test next Wednesday. The Chinese history test has eaten up the lion’s share of study time as I had to read two pretty good-sized books cover to cover. I guess I’m ready for the test, but I’m not quite sure what the outcome will be just yet. As for the remaining two tests, I’m not worried about them, but I’m not overlooking them either. Beyond that, I have three papers to write this month, one of which is a Japanese research paper and an accompanying oral report. All are due in about four weeks, then it’ll be about time for the last round of tests. I think I can get out of here in December with decent grades, although I suspect there will be a slight drop from last spring.

Last week I had to go ahead and get signed up for spring classes in Lincoln. Even though I’m still planning to study abroad, the application process is taking long enough that we won’t have the final yes or no from the other school until well after registration here has opened. Next time around (and forever onward, I suppose) I’ll be taking a lighter class load. Studying for five tests has cut far enough into my schedule that while it’s technically still possible for me to work, the coursework leaves me not wanting to waste the spare time I do have on further activities which require actual thinking. This a problem considering I need the money to keep going to school, and my overall GPA isn’t quite high enough yet to apply for the upperclass scholarship. At this point it’s almost worth it more to take the path of least resistance and risk setting graduation back a semester rather than drive myself broke (already done) and insane (getting there) just to finish school.

One thing I will be doing starting next spring (or this fall if I somehow end up not studying abroad) is getting an apartment off campus. The convenience factor is starting to lose ground to the desire for things like my own shower and the ability to eat breakfast before 1030 on weekends.

Also, I would like to add that Windows 7 is excellent. Probably even more excellent is the fact that I bought it for $17 at the school bookstore. That’s how you stop software piracy on a college campus – make the product so cheap there’s no reason not to buy it. Too bad the CDs are the bookstore are still way too expensive. I was around here when Napster was a big thing, and if you’re still selling music at the same jacked up prices now as you were ten years ago, even if those prices are technically cheaper due to a decade of inflation (how the hell does a Snickers bar cost a dollar?), you’re pretty much begging for people to not buy CDs you paid money to be able to stock.

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