Category: School

Thanksgiving Dinners and Black Eyes

Funny story.

Last week I went home for Thanksgiving break. Got home Tuesday night, worked all day Wednesday, and of course Thursday was Thanksgiving. A regular Thanksgiving day for me entails waking up late, futzing around for a few hours, eating dinner with the folks, sleeping dinner off, then watching football or generally just screwing around the rest of the night. This time around I had a paper to work on, so I grabbed a nap and went back to reading about the relationship between imperial era China and the nomadic and semi-nomadic peoples in the outlying areas. Watched some of the Texas/Texas A&M game while I was at it too.

This went on until about 4AM, right about the point where I started sleeping more than studying. Pulled myself off the couch and went to the bathroom to clean up for bed, and… blacked out. Don’t ask me how or why. Probably a mix of being drowsy and stuffed full of Thanksgiving dinner. Either way, what do people do when they black out while they’re standing up?

They fall.

I woke up a minute or two later wondering what the hell happened and why I was sleeping on the bathroom floor. I stood back up, looked in the mirror, and saw a trail of blood running down my face from a pretty cool-looking zig-zag-shaped cut. Like the skin was torn open rather than just cut. I gathered I hit my head against the sink on the way down, because there was a drop of blood right underneath the sink right about where my head would have hit it.

End result – a partial black eye (not Jimmy Clausen got punched at the bar black eye), a huge bruise on my arm from where I landed, and a hilarious “what did you do for Thanksgiving break?” story.

Leave a Comment


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.

Leave a Comment

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.

Leave a Comment

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.

Leave a Comment

Oh Look

I’m up late. Again. Same reason as last time, too.


Same cause, but different reason.

In the interest of being as vague as possible, I’ll just say I left something undone over a decade ago, and it’s one of those things you think about for years and kick yourself for not taking care of it when you should have. Maybe one of these days I’ll get a chance to tie up the loose ends… or maybe I won’t, and it’ll keep resurfacing every so often to bother the hell out of me for hours or days at a time – long after we’ve all gotten our flying cars. Come to think of it, that whole time frame where this issue originated wasn’t that great for me personally. I was teetering on the edge of being a full-blown basket case, and actually had somebody tell me later on that I came off like I was going to snap at any moment.

Wouldn’t that have been a trip.

Been extremely busy the last week due to the recent round of tests. Had an Asian civ. test last Friday which was a rehash of material from last year, a comp sci test on Wednesday which I’m fairly certain I did good on, and a Chinese history test tomorrow – technically later on this morning – which I’m not entirely sure about just yet. I misjudged how much time I actually had to get ready for the test, and as a result I ended up putting off reading the two books I had to read until last week. In the end I read about 80% of both of them, taking ridiculous amounts of notes along the way. My experience with the tests the professor in this class gives tells me that should be enough. Oh, and there’s a Japanese test next Tuesday.

Leave a Comment