Friday, April 29, 2011

Limping Toward the Finish

Honesty is so refreshing these days
This was the last week of the semester, and I gave oral to women on three different occasions this week, which made things seem incredibly hectic. Now that I have your attention, settle down. My life isn't that interesting!

On Monday I had my final French oral exam. It went well, at least in the beginning, as my female partner and I were reasonably prepared for our skit and art conversation. Things started going downhill once we were required to ask each other questions from a predetermined list of questions in various tenses. The professor started dropping our generally high scores on the grade sheet. At least, we got through it with at least a C.

On Thursday, I had to rent a campus Zipcar for a trip to Wake Tech's Health Education facility for an oral exam that I had promised to do for an old acquaintance from high school that friended me on Facebook. It was okay, although I got there early and ended up sitting in the wrong building for half an hour before anyone came out and asked me why I was there. I was told that I needed to walk to the opposite side of a parking deck from where I was to get to the dental facility. I had some x-rays of my horribly crooked teeth made, but otherwise my teeth were apparently in too good a condition for actual cleaning work to be done. Since it is a teaching facility for dental hygienists, they wanted someone whose teeth were worse off than mine, I guess. At any rate, it was nice to see an old classmate who somehow managed to have a daughter in the intervening years and somehow didn't gain much weight, as so many of my other high school comrades and I have.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Sometimes We Make Sausage, Other Times... Progress

Poe Hall From the Court of the Carolinas
If you happened to friend me on Facebook, you probably already learned that I had a meeting on Monday with a Doctor about PSY 499 work. The good Doctor is a young man, perhaps younger than myself, with a very quiet demeanor. His German accent only adds to his charm, and I described him to a couple of people as "adorable". In fact, even though we have had very little contact with one another thus far, I'd be willing to say I have a little bit of a crush on him. This is hardly a new phenomenon for me, as I have had exactly four crushes on men in my life. Of course the good Doctor is married, and his wife is quite attractive in her own right, if the photo on his desk is an accurate depiction. To be honest, I'm not sure where I was going with that!

At any rate, we only spoke for about fifteen minutes, but it was enough time for me to feel like an idiot, albeit a well-spoken idiot. The Doctor is very intelligent, as are most Europeans when compared with us lowly Americans. He attended the prestigious Max Planck Institute and is currently studying emotion and cognition in adults and the elderly. He asked me simple questions for which I felt like I had no good answer, though I flapped my lips and came up with something to fill the silence. Honestly, how do I get caught up on a question like, "What are your goals for the future?" or "What sorts of things would you like to research?" After giving it some thought, I think it has something to do with motivation.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Fortunes of Futures Passed

Fortune Cookies Are Getting Morose
I'm not one for backup plans. Generally, I make my mind up, I go in a direction, and I see where it takes me. If I end up someplace good, then I'm happy. If I end up someplace not so good, then I'm not so happy, but I deal with it and accept my fate... at least for awhile. However, I'm starting to wonder if I shouldn't start trying to create a backup plan, in the event this whole going to Graduate School and becoming a professor thing doesn't work out.

The thing is, I don't see myself as becoming anything other than a college professor. Well, at least not realistically. I've had a fantasy for years now about creating a company with my friends for the sole purpose of saving the world from itself. That whole God complex of mine enjoys reveling in that fantasy. But, the job of college professor is uniquely suited to what I consider my strengths, while still allowing me to indulge in some of my weaknesses. For instance, I love giving presentations in front of groups of people. I enjoy reading up on some obscure bit of knowledge, breaking that knowledge down into a set of presentation slides, and teaching it to people who didn't take the time to learn what I just discovered. Also, I enjoy being a little judgmental (that would be classified as one of my weaknesses). Asking people to write a literature review paper, or other such assignment, would allow me an outlet for looking down my nose at students who seemingly can't find their ass with a roll of toilet paper.

Friday, April 1, 2011

That Thing I Said... Yeah, Screw That!

Poe Hall Sign
So, I've been trying to come up with themes to reflect the overall trends of each week. While I'm sure that by now I'm exhibiting a clear vacillation in my attitude, if I had to come up with a theme for this week it would be "Let's shit all over Ashe's hopes and dreams!" In psychological research, there is a term called "regression toward the mean" which basically means that even though participants in a study may occasionally exhibit unusually high or low scores on a given examination, during repeated re-tests the participants will typically regress in performance toward their natural average. This week I got grades back on several tests, and I wasn't happy with the results. I made an 86 (B) on the Ergonomics test (a drop from 94 on the first test), a 73 (C) on the Biology test (a drastic drop from 94 on the first test), and an 80 (B) on the Psych Research test (a slight uptick from the 78 of the first test).

I honestly don't see why my grades dropped so much this time. I can't say that I did anything drastically different from the first tests. I take notes, I read the textbooks, I do whatever homework is assigned to me. Admittedly, both my Ergonomics and Biology professors gave smaller curves on these tests than on the first ones, but that wasn't enough to account for a 10-20 point drop in test grades! Some of the material on genetics really threw me for a loop on the Biology test, so that certainly didn't help. I'm just terrified that these test grades may fall into the category of regression toward the mean! And, on top of all that, we had speakers in my Orientation to Psych seminar today talking about graduate school who repeatedly emphasized the importance of a good GPA and standardized test scores in order to gain acceptance. Apparently, it's almost not worth it to even apply if you don't have at least a 3.5 GPA in addition to high test scores.

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