Fill Thy Vat of Knowledge!

What do you do when it’s 11 PM on a Thursday evening, you don’t have class tomorrow, and you currently can’t sleep? Why, take to the interwebs, of course! And by the interwebs, I specifically mean the lovely HowStuffWorks.com. There is always time for learning! Knowledge never sleeps! Quench your thirst of information that was not previously known to you! This introductory paragraph has too many exclamation marks, so I sound like a spaz!

Anywho – obnoxious punctuation aside – I love HowStuffWorks. Whenever I feel that my “Useless Trivia” data stores are running low, I know I can just click on the HowStuffWorks icon in my favorites bar and bask in the knowledge feast laid out before me. I won’t emerge from this gluttonous trance until I’ve gone through the main page and ripped through a dozen articles using the Random Post button. “Learn how Everything Works!” is their site tagline. And indeed, they attempt to show you how everything works from describing how to break into a house, to explaining how dying of embarrassment is worse than freezing to death, to enlightening you on what in the world the appendix is for (kind of).

I Heart Guts Appendix. So cute.

Seriously, I’m just here to screw with you.

I first discovered the site when I was in 8th grade whilst looking for science articles for science class (reduntantly redundant) because most of the links the teacher provided pretty much sucked (meaning it was hard to find articles that fit the criteria for the assignments – not dissing the integrity of the scientific reporting, so lay off). It was love at first click, but as with all deep and irrational loves, it came at the price of my self-respect. Soon I was obsessed with the site, coming back to her – I’m just going to pretend the site is female, just because – everyday. She seduced me with her full, shapely articles. My hunger for her knowledge had me coming back again and again until my brain ached and eyes fatigued. The noetic siren had dragged with me into the depths of her surveys, and quizzes, and pages of sweet, sweet information.

Well, that was unnecessarily melodramatic.

But I’m over all that now. The relationship between me and her is totally under control and I am in no danger of succumbing to her know-it-all wiles again. Basically this is a love post – borderline lust post – to HowStuffWorks.com. She fills that emptiness within and is there whenever I need her (and have access to WiFi).

No, not really. This all really was unnecessarily melodramatic. But thanks, HowStuffWorks, for helping me be semi-funny and teaching me how sarcasm works. (Gee thanks)*.

Read these interesting articles from that vixen of a site:

*Sorry, that joke was too easy.

What sites do you like to waste time be productive on? Have a favorite HowStuffWorks article? Share it!

Advertisements

Professor Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Freaking and Love My Finals

And thus, we reach the end of a romance, a thriller, a comedy of errors (thank God for the curve).

Finals weren’t – aren’t – so terrible.

It is with regrettably late realization that I have come to embrace finals. They stir me, quake me, make me feel alive as never before! Finals – essays, labs, exams, and presentations alike – are my sole reason for living. What am I to do this upcoming month? This barren wintry month without your sweet, sweet whispers into my ears as I lay awake at night? All-nighters – where am I to go to become motivated, as you have motivated me, to stay up into the wee hours of the morning to finish the 20-page essay? Where, Darling Finals, am I to turn to to soothe the cortisol withdrawals? The stress! Oh the stress. The brand of stress that the holiday brings is no match for you and your ever looming deadlines, procrastination, and the ring of the alarm clock at 6 in the a.m.  Farewell, Fall Term and Finals, I knew thee well – far too well!

All the studying, the late nights/early mornings, and the hours spent staring at line upon line of text – all gone in favor or normality. What is “normal?” College is life, is it not? College is life and love and everything from here to the moon and beyond. I await the return to school, to winter term, to my new and true “normal.” Until then, let us write writhing, throbbing fan fiction of our fated love: Fifty Shades of No. 2 Ticonderoga

Edward Cullen and Bella Swan sparkling in the forest

Finals and I: Still a better love story than Twilight

Just kidding. Finals create a vacuum.

IT’S WINTER BREAK, MOFOs!

[Yes. Gangsta’ now. Yo.]

Peace out, fellow students, good luck on the rest of finals, and enjoy your break.

-S.O.S.

Got thrilling winter break plans? Or just vegetating in the comfort of your home? Awesome. Share your plans (intimately) below!

“Rate My Professors” is Completely Unbiased (My Arse)

Preparing for college means a lot of things. You might be living on your own for the first time, so you stock up on the Ramen, microwave ovens and flimsy IKEA furniture. You have to buy textbooks, which burns a fat hole in your already starving wallet while bookstores laugh at your student poverty. You register for classes, get your photo ID, contact your hopefully sane and not freaky roommate, etc. It’s a lot to do!

And then, when you get your schedule, you scan down the list of classes and think “Wow, freshman year is going to be great. My class is going to be super easy and my teacher is going to love me!”

What? Who am I kidding? You’re probably thinking “Holy shiitake mushrooms, how am I going to handle this schedule?! And…”

And then you look at the professor’s name beside the class name…

“… What the heck is my professor like?”

Cue the chorusing angels and ethereal light beaming down on your head through fluffy parting clouds. Here is where the beauty of the Internet comes in.

RateMyProfessors Logo

If you haven’t heard, there is a website called Rate My Professors, where students – this should be pretty obvious – rate their professors. It’s a pretty popular site and I just had to check it out. It’s so popular, a lot of people schedule/change their classes based on the site’s reviews. Plus, there’s even an app for it. So I couldn’t resist. In general, I try to be an open-minded person, who takes hearsay with a grain – more like a vat – of salt. To really understand something, you have to experience it yourself, yes? This is my philosophy.

However, because I have Antzin-Pants syndrome, which I touched on in this article, I couldn’t help checking out my professors to see what others have said about them.

Boy, did this make me laugh and cry at the same time. 

What I have gathered from this site is that most of the people who leave reviews either really love the professor or really hate the professor, so you don’t get a whole lot of unbiased, “average” ratings. But then again, how am I supposed to know they’re unbiased? Sometimes, it’s easy to spot the begrudged and the smitten:

Excerpts taken from review of statistics professor:

VERY POOR TEACHER, DOES NOT EXPLAIN ANYTHING, BORING LECTURES, TOO MUCH HOMEWORK.

Yeah, he’s hard. Granted this is college. It should be a challenge. The class will go fine is [sic] you pay attention and study. Tutoring will also help. Just ask questions and make him go slow. This man lives for stat’s.

Excerpts taken from review of computer science teacher:

I thought Karla was an extremely boring teacher. Two hours of her was just too much for me.

She is energetic, hot, and ambitious. She has the whole class on the edge of their seat waiting to learn more…too bad she’s taken…

No professor is “one size fits all.” You have people who will go into an ALL CAPS RAGE about a professor and then you have people who will confess a somewhat inappropriate amount of affection for a professor… Seriously, did that review really call the professor “hot?” See, this is the part that makes me laugh.

ROFLMAO

The part that makes me cry (aside from laughing so hard), is the person in my head saying, “But what if it’s all true?” Extremely opinionated reviews are easy to ignore if they’re scattered, but when there is a pattern of reviews indicating a general consensus, you can’t help but wonder if the masses are right. The reviews for the statistics teacher are largely negative. The nicest review was that second one above. The reviews for the computer science teacher are largely – overwhelmingly – positive. There are only a couple of negative reviews and those reviews aren’t even that harsh.

There are keywords in the reviews of my third professor: “brilliant,” “pretentious,” “frighteningly brilliant”, “snob,” “genuinely interested.” I kid you not, almost every review for this professor has one of those words in them. Can 10 pages of reviews be wrong? Let the poster for a mediocre movie do the talking:

Ryan Reynolds is okay

Ok, this was a stupid picture insert.

People fear the unknown. That’s part of human nature. Maybe you’re one of those “gonads of steel” people who laugh in the face of danger. Even then, the unknown still reaches into your core and pokes your huevos ever so subtly, telling you “hey, you have no idea what you’re getting into. It could be nasty.”

So maybe the reviews are right: my stats professor is an unorganized burn-out; my computer science professor is a hilarious and quirky hotty; and my honors professor is a pretentious scum bag, who may or may not be after students’ interest.

Well, you know how I’m going to find out if these are true? I’m just going to go to class. Rule in life: Judge everything for yourself.

Have you used Rate My Professors? How do you feel after reading your professors’ reviews? For non-Freshman: How accurate were the reviews for your professors?

Dissecting the Mind of the Frosh

August – it’s the month when you should be aware of Psoriasis, rev your motorcycles, eat paninis, and examine the quality of your drinking water. It’s also back-to-school season, but despite the fact that this blog is college-oriented, I’m not going to be talking about back-to-school savings and advice, yadda, yadda, yadda. Instead, I’m going to be talking about how people like me think. And not just how I think and perceive the world – I’m not that vain – but how my fellow Class of 2015 thinks and perceives the world.

“What the heck are you ranting about?” You may be asking. Let Beloit.edu do the talking:

Each August since 1998, Beloit College has released the Beloit College Mindset List, providing a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college this fall. The creation of Beloit’s former Public Affairs Director Ron Nief and Keefer Professor of the Humanities Tom McBride, it was originally created as a reminder to faculty to be aware of dated references, and quickly became a catalog of the rapidly changing worldview of each new generation.

On August 22, 2011, Beloit released their 14th “Mindset List” of the incoming college freshman class. The Class of 2015 mostly consists of people like me born in 1993. The list is a general overview of events, ideas, people, and objects that these freshmen take for granted or will never know or experience first-hand. For example, #15 on the list states “O.J. Simpson has always been looking for the killers of Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman.” It is only thanks to Google, Wikipedia, my parents’ dinner table conversations, and pop culture references that I know much of anything about O.J. Simpson and how he would have done it “If [He] Did It.”

According to Ron Nief, one of the creators of the list, the “Mindset List” was a sort of reaction to the suggestion that “students graduating from high school aren’t half as smart as their parents.” Mostly, however, it was a serio-comic warning to educators to adjust their teaching style and references to make education more relatable and understandable to students. In other words: stay up to date. Don’t encourage computer students in your class to back up data using a 1.44 MB floppy disk (whatever that is) instead of a 500 GB portable hard drive. If you want your joke to succeed, don’t punctuate the punchline with “churning butter”; end it with “Poke ‘er Face.”

P-p-p-poker face, p-p-poker face...

Joke: How do you wake up Lady Gaga?

How accurate is the list? Well, it is a general list and it mostly deals with time. It’s not meant to fit every single member of the incoming first years. The compilers take events and inventions dating before or since 1993 and apply it culturally. Here’s a peek at some of the points on the list:

  • (This begins their list. It’s an unnumbered morbid preface:) Andre the Giant, River Phoenix, Frank Zappa, Arthur Ashe and the Commodore 64 have always been dead. I’m going to be honest. I only know who one of these people are and it’s only because of the movie Princess Bride.
  • As they’ve grown up on websites and cell phones, adult experts have constantly fretted about their alleged deficits of empathy and concentration. What? Psh, I don’t think they give us enough credit. I mean, it’s not like you’re reading this instead of doing something important or worthwhile, like homework, right?… Right?
  • All their lives, Whitney Houston has always been declaring “I Will Always Love You.” “I Will Always Love You…: A Ballad to Heroine.” ((rimshot))
  • They’ve always been able to dismiss boring old ideas with “been there, done that, gotten the T-shirt.”

    You have died of Dysentery

    She looks healthy for having died of dysentery.

  • When they were 3, their parents may have battled other parents in toy stores to buy them a Tickle Me Elmo while they lasted. I have nothing to add.
  • They’ve always wanted to be like Shaq or Kobe: Michael Who? They’ve definitely got this one wrong. Remember Space Jam and that awful movie with Lil’ Bow Wow where he wanted to be Like Mike? (It had that cute kid with the crazy hair and big glasses from Jerry Maguire.)
  • “Yadda, yadda, yadda” has always come in handy to make long stories short. This one is so lame. I mean, I never use… Oh. Never mind.

Check out the whole Class of 2015 list at the Mindset List website. (When you watch the introductory video, a representative touts the greatness of the list and doesn’t miss the opportunity to sneakily tell how how wonderfully, butt-kickingly awesome Beloit is because of the mind-blowing, life-changing list. Just warning you.)

What do you think of the list? Amusing? Revealing? Sad? Annoying? Is there anything you would add to or change about the list? Tell me about it in the comments.

Gotta’ Take ’em All [Classes, I Choose You!]

Life… is like Pokemon. Let me explain:

I’m walking along this strangely straight and repetitive 16-bit path, when all of a sudden, a large field of strangely square and repetitive 16-bit grass appears. I can’t go around it. Can’t dig under it. Can’t fly over it. So I have to walk through it. It’s annoying as all get out, but Ash Ketchum’s got to do what he’s got to do.

Awesome Pokemon Graphics

Anyone with a decent childhood knows what I'm talking about.

After two seconds of walking through the 16-bit grass…

A wild HISTORY OF ASIAN ART appears! Holy crap on a cracker! I want that!

That Freaky Glitch Pokemon

We all remember this freak

Class, I choose you! Oh wait. I’m out of pokeballs. To the PokeMart!

Yes, life is just like Pokemon. No, let me amend that statement: picking college classes is just like Pokemon.

In my previous post, I talked about my experience concerning college freshman orientation. It was fun and informational and it’s making me freak out with excitement. However, picking classes was painful. You heard me: painful. I know I said in the previous post that it was way easier than I had thought it would be since all the required major courses were already picked out for me. There’s a flip side: flipping through the book, I had a heck of a time trying to figure out what elective classes I wanted to take because literally two dozen courses looked interesting and amazing. Maybe that’s the academic animal *cough*nerd*cough* part of me, the side always thirsting for knowledge and striving to become a learned, respected “Renaissance [Wo]Man.”

When picking classes, you have to ask yourself a few things:

X-men Beast

Academic Beast

1. How many credit hours do I want to load myself with? This question comes with sub-questions: Am I going to be working one or several jobs this term? How many clubs/activities am I going to participate in? How much homework can I handle? If you are going to be working, you don’t want to take 17 credit hours that term (unless you’re a rabid academic beast with superhuman skills that don’t require sleep and fatigue). It’s all right to take a relatively light amount of classes – but do so with caution. Make sure you’re taking enough to stay on track for graduation. Extra time in college means spending extra moolah, something you may or may not be able to afford.

2. Is this a class I want to take? Maybe you don’t have a choice. You have to take the class whether you like it or not. But if you get to choose, try to pick something you’ll enjoy. If you love art, but hate English, why would you willingly choose “Analysis of Anglo-Linguistics” (is “Anglo-Linguistics” a word?) over “Study of Modern Design?” It’s a no-brainer! However, I know it will be next to impossible to create a perfect schedule with all classes you love. If the class sucks… don’t take my advice; I haven’t even started college yet.

3. Then why am I even listening to you? Okay, for one, you’re not listening to me. You’re reading words on a screen. My mouth isn’t moving whatsoever, so it doesn’t require any effort on your ears’ part. Secondly, I like common sense, so I write about common sense. Novel idea, eh? You might think I lose merit for not having even set foot in a college class yet, but I’m just saying what makes sense. Please, I implore you to correct me in the comments. Seriously.

 Now, if you’re done with your sassiness…

4. Ok, ok, fine. Um, how does this all connect to Pokemon again? Oh. I started with a Pokemon comparison, didn’t I? Now, I have to follow through, don’t I? All righty then, here it goes:

Classes are like Pokemon – I want to take them all. There are so many of them that it would take me a long time to actually take all the classes that I want. I mean, I’ve lost track of how many thousand gazillion Pokemon there are now in addition to the original (the best) 150. Do you remember how excited you were/are when you do the “Pokerap”? As a child fan of Pokemon, that was your goal in life: to catch all 150 (plus 1 if you count Mew – or is it Mewtwo?) Pokemon and be “the very best that no one ever was.”

Masterball is awesome

Masterball. Now we're talking.

Your available credit hours are your pack of Pokeballs. In the game (at least in the Red and Blue versions), you can only carry 6 Pokemon with you, stored away in those inhumane, cramped spaces within the Pokeballs (animal abuse is a whole different discussion). In college, you’re only allowed a certain number of classes. You can’t take 10 classes because, well, you’re just human. And you know what? That’s okay. You don’t need all 150+ Pokemon to become a Pokemon master. To become a master, you need to know how to use yourself and your Pokemon to the best of your ability. Likewise, to become a successful college student, you need to know your strengths, weaknesses, and limits and you need to learn how to use all of that to your ultimate advantage.

So even though you want to catch/take ’em all, you can’t. It’s something us academic animals just have to come to terms with. And if you feel small, overwhelmed and defeated, just remember that this:

Splash does nothing

Splash does nothing

Evolves into:

Gyarados Hyper Beam

Effing yeah.

So are you as excited about the variety of college classes? Care to share what you’re taking or what you want to be taking instead? Finally, what other comparisons can you make with Pokemon relating to college? Let me know in the comments. Unleash your inner child.