I spent my first two years at college in the dorms on campus. They were… okay. Community bathrooms at the end of the hall were a mild inconvenience, but no real problem. I may have locked myself out more than once because the doors automatically lock when shut, but that’s what the lockout keys are for. The random roommates were decent. Freshman year my roommate tended to spend most of his time next door drinking, so I usually had to room to myself. Sophomore year was a little more difficult because my new roomie hardly ever left the room except for class and occasionally overnight study sessions at the library, and he had an irregular sleeping cycle that sometimes left him awake all night which I was trying to sleep, but that wasn’t that bad. I’m used to sleeping with earbuds in anyway (shh, don’t tell my mother– she’s always worried I’ll strangle myself in my sleep, but I’m still alive after a few years of this, so I’m not too worried.)

This year I’m living in an apartment within walking distance of campus, against my parent’s advice. We spent a while hashing it out, but in the end I signed the lease. I get my own bedroom (squeal!), share a bathroom with one other guy, and I have a kitchen. It’s a fairly nice place. Unfortunately, I made one critical mistake when looking at my finances to make sure I could afford the new living quarters– the apartment required a deposit of three months’ rent before I could move in, and I foolishly interpreted that to mean three months’ rent up front, as in three months down, nine to go. My finances are well under control now, but that was a lesson I won’t soon forget.

I make fun of my business major friends sometimes, but I have to admit, none of them would have made that mistake. They all know what a deposit is.

Aaaaaall the college students (all the college students)

I consciously know that I’m not the only college student who isn’t drinking every weekend, but talk of alcohol and drugs is so ubiquitous on campus that I sometimes feel rebellious by NOT partaking in these activities. I refuse to conform to the perceived norm. I’m a teetotaling hipster. If everybody sobers up, I guess I’ll just have to take up drinking and drugs.

Theatre Group 5 Project #1

The requirements for this project are: you must mention everybody’s name, age grade, major, and something else (maybe a greatest fear, or some cool fact)

It’s a house party. The only props we had were Solo cups and a guitar, though I substituted a bottle of sweet tea because I was the DD. There are girls standing and sitting around a guy gently picking at a guitar. Most of the girls are ogling the guy. There are two people standing away from the group, gesturing and miming conversation.

-Connor is walking past the party; Alec sees him, approaches, and begins a conversation-
Alec: What’s up dude, Connor my man!
Connor: Uh, hi, who are you?
Alec: I’m Alec. (Connor looks confused). A sophomore. (Connor still doesn’t know who he is) I went white water kayaking in the Rocky Mountains for 2 weeks! (Conner remains perplexed)
Connor: Wait, whats’s your major?
Alec: I’m undecided.
Connor : *smiling* Oh yeah, I remember you, what’s up?
Alec: Just hangin’ out. (Alec hands Connor a cup of punch) Here, have some punch that my boy Terry made for us.
Connor: Who’s Terry?
Alec: My theatre teacher.
-a moment passes-
Connor: What’s his major?
Alec: Theatre. That’s the best major! (Guitar stops, everyone gives Terry a thumbs up). Hey man, let me go introduce you to everybody.
-They walk over to the two guys standing apart from the guitarist-
Alec: Yo, these are my pals Noah and Michael.
Connor: *shakes hands with both* Hello, I’m Connor. I’m a junior and a management major.
Noah: *sarcastically* Is there anything else you wanna tell us about yourself?
Connor: I once saved a woman from a burning building.
Noah: *blinks with raised eyebrows*
Alec: But bro, this guy, Noah, he’s an Eagle Scout.
Michael: And I play Frisbee for UT.
Connor: What’re y’alls major?
Michael: Finance.
Noah: Chemistry.
Connor: Oh, y’all must be freshmen.
Noah & Michael: *grin and shrug*
Alec: Noah, man, why aren’t you drinking this Terry Juice?
Noah: I’m the DD.
Brian: Well, I don’t know if you want to be drinking it anyway, this Terry Juice tastes kind of weird.
Alec: *over-the-top slurring words and stumbling* I don’t know what you’re talking about man, I feel great!
-the conversation stops for a moment and the only noise is the guitar-
Connor: Who’s the guy with the guitar?
Alec: That’s, uh, guitar guy. He just kind of shows up at every party. I don’t really know who he is.
Connor: Hey, GUITAR GUY! What’s your major?
Guitar guy: Undecided.
One of the girls ogling the guitarist: *in a lovestruck manner* That’s Brian, he’s a freshman with his own YouTube channel, and he’s my boyfriend.
Another girl ogling the guitarist: *haughtily* No, that’s MY boyfriend!
-both girls stand up-
First girl: Who are you?
Second girl: I’m Caty. Who are YOU?
First girl: Alexa.
Caty: You’re just a lame freshman.
Alexa: You may be a sophomore, but I climbed the Alps.
Caty: Well I’m Miss Knoxville. *gives the audience a fabulous fashion-show pose*
Connor: Hey, what’s y’alls majors?
Caty: *glances at Alexa like “what’s with this guy”* Uh, Business Administration.
Alexa: *shrugs like “I have no idea”* Finance.
Connor: *nodding* Those are cool majors.
Brian: *slowly, smoothly, seductively, erotically* Ladies, ladies, calm down. There’s enough of me to go around. Sit down, I’ve got another song for you. I wrote this one over the summer. I dedicate it to Terry Juice. *impromptu toast* It’s called… “Water”.
-He begins playing the same song-
-A gaggle of girls wanders over to Alec-
Elizabeth: (Elizabeth, Margo, and Jessica are all together)
First girl: Um, excuse me, is this terry juice vegan? Because I’m a vegetarian.
Alec: *grinning and swaying* Well hey there ladies, what’s y’alls name? *puts his free arm around two of them, leaning on them heavily*
First girl: I’m… Elizabeth.
Second: I’m Margo.
Third: My name’s Jessica.
Alec: *takes a long swig of Terry Juice* So, how old are y’all?
Elizabeth: I’m a freshman.
Margo: I’m a sophomore.
Jessica: I’m a freshman.
Alec: No, no, like… *hiccups* How OLD are you?
Elizabeth: 18.
Margo: 19.
Jessica: 17.
Alec: *points at Jessica* Uh, you, go away.
Jessica: What- really? Just because I’m not 18 you’re not going to talk to me?
Alec: *nods* “Yup.”
Jessica: *offended* “Well fine then, I shouldn’t be drinking much more of this stuff anyway because I have softball practice tomorrow. I’m just going to meet everyone else here like a good Communications major then I’ll buzz off. *marches away*
Connor: *Grinning, sticks his head between the two girls currently under Alec’s arm* So, what are your majors?
Alec: Don’t, don’t worry, he just… has a thing with majors.
Elizabeth: Well, since I’m a freshman I’m still undecided.
Margo: I’m a retail major. Duh. No wonder my outfit is on point.
Elizabeth: Hey, is this punch vegan?
Alec: I guess Terry Juice is vegan? Yeah, yeah, it’s whatever you want it to be.
Margo: *steps away from Margo and stares at her* Elizabeeeeeeth, Elizabeth THERE ARE LIZARDS ALL OVER YOU I AM HORRIFIED OF LIZARDS WHY ARE THERE LIZARDS EVERYWHERE *hyperventilating*
Elizabeth: Let’s go sit down, this Terry Juice is getting to you. *guides Margo into the corner where Margo lays down and passes out*
Alec: *rushes over to Margo and poses with a cell phone. SELFIE, THIS IS GOING TO VOL BLACKOUT! *jumps up* HEY GUYS LET’S GO TO COOKOUT! WE’RE GOING TO COOKOUT! YOU DRIVIN’ US NOAH?!
-Everyone looks at Noah-
Noah: *looks around at the inebriation* Duh.
-Everyone except Noah crowds together and starts chanting COOKOUT! COOKOUT! COOKOUT! The chanting slowly fades and everybody slowly falls to the floor-
-Noah nudges Michael’s side with his foot; a long moment passes as he stares at everybody-
Noah: DAMN IT TERRY!… You spiked the punch.

Fall 2014 Classes

I write this for posterity. By posterity, I of course refer to myself in the future, and likely only myself. These are the classes I am enrolled in at the start of my freshman year at UTK.

Calculus I
Hon. Gen. Chem I
Theatre 100
English Composition
Intro. to African Studies

English Questions Suck

I have always hated English tests- especially the ones made not by your teacher but by someone at a desk somewhere. Here is an example of a question:

Ten thousand thousand fruit to touch.”

Is that alliteration or hyperbole? I examined it thoroughly. “Ten” and “fruit to touch” have an alliterative sound to them. “Thousand thousand” does not. So it is a little alliterative (no pun intended), but not completely. So, hyperbole? Well, I don’t know approximately how apples can be picked in a season. On an apple-picking farm (assuming it’s a modern one) I can be pretty sure that there will be several people doing the harvest, and they will have a large farm because all farms are now, due to the fewer number of farmers but the remaining demand for food. Could they pick about 1,000,000 apples in a harvest? I think so- when you consider of how small an apple is, and how many are shipped to various grocery stores, and the sheer size of an orchard, that seems reasonable (to me). So it might be hyperbole, but I am guessing* it’s not.

*This is the problem- if I know what the term is, then it should not be a guessing contest between two answers. Hyperbole means extreme exaggeration, and alliteration is repeating ion of consonants (Sally sells seashells by the seashore). I really, really hate when there is doubt in what an answer is. This one of the reasons I would rather take a math test than an English test, because of the ambiguity of the questions. I do sympathize with the people creating the tests, because there is almost no way to truly test someone’s aptitude at a language. But the test really fails if it represents someone’s knowledge at a lower level than it truly is.

I chose alliteration.

It was hyperbole.


We trust you. No, really.

I had a bad migraine yesterday. It was halfway through the day when I got a buzz in my head, but I shook it off, concentrating on my work and not wanting to leave the day after we got back from Christmas break. This… sometimes… works. This was not one of those times.

My head ached on and off through Government and Algebra II. I would have really enjoyed those classes had I been able to concentrate on them; as it was, I just wanted to lay down in a dark, quiet room and sleep. See, the thing is, I get migraines sometimes. I’m not sure what causes them yet, but I’ve had them for years. And when your head is internally combusting, it’s not pleasant to be stuck among many loud high school students.

The bus ride home was the worst. I managed to drown out all the noise of a bus filled with loud teens rattling along an interstate somehow, but it was still very unpleasant. All of this could have been avoided if I had been allowed to take some Aleve/Tylenol/whatever to get rid of the migraine. “You could just ask the nurse for some”, you might say. “Your parents can entrust the nurse with medication.” True, but that involves leaving class long enough for her to check my temperature, me to convince her I’m not lying, and, if the nurse is being stubborn, me lying down for five minutes after nibbling on crackers and sipping water. All of this could be avoided if I was allowed to slip into the bathroom, down some meds, and walk back to class- they are (usually) quiet and relaxed enough for the migraine to go away. The stress of facing the rest of the day with that pain certainly doesn’t help! I understand The Man (TM) doesn’t want us abusing substances, but there has to be some sort of compromise. If I’m old enough to ride a bus downtown then walk to school (alone) most every day, and I am to start making decisions about where I want to go to school, impacting the rest of my career, AND I am entrusted with a 700-dollar device for my studies, then surely I can be trusted with some headache medicine!

I might have some follow-up posts on this, describing possible compromises.

Educational Punishment

In class today, one of my teachers sent a girl out of the room to do her unfinished homework. If a kid acts up and won’t stop misbehaving, she sends him/her outside of the room for several minutes. Those solutions seem to defeat the purpose of school: to learn. I think that, when deciding how to punish students, they should keep one main objective in mind: keep the student learning. One of the best ways to do this is to keep the student in the room. Then, the teacher can frequently call on them, so that even if they don’t know the answer to the question they are asked, the teacher can kinda-sorta deduce what the student does not know and explain to them what they’re missing. If the student is stuck outside twiddling their thumbs or doing a worksheet, they’re not really learning anything. They probably don’t know the answer to worksheet questions anyway.

If a student fails to complete their homework, do not send them outside of the room to complete their work because of the reasons above. Give them incentive to do it after class (along with any further homework) by perhaps saying that they must sit through ISS or otherwise be punished. Avoid extra homework, because that could easily stack up, creating far too many worksheets to keep track of.

Landmark III

иконографияHere’s some more stuff:

AP Euro: We looked at a map, and took some notes.
Band: Percussionists played games while wind players warmed up; at the end of class, she told us how to e-mail a playing quiz to her.
STEM I: After brainstorming locker designs, we looked up a few sample designs, and took pictures of potential areas for the lockers.
Chemistry: We took a quiz on the Metric system, and e-mailed it to the teacher.

So we didn’t do anything totally awesome. It’ll take time to transition to paperless; the teachers have been using paper all their lives.
I like the multitasking system the iPad has; you can double-tap the Home button to bring up a list of all the apps currently loaded. So I can leave the game I’m playing (cue World of Goo), glance at my e-mail, then go back without having to load the whole thing again, or even restart the level. I wish you could split the screen into two. Or perhaps if they sold a second screen you could just connect with Bluetooth or a cable. It could even have a bit of extra RAM to offset the extra screenspace and support the additional data.
As a tablet, it’s extremely convenient. It’s very light and compact, and it’s masterfully simple design (though personally I’d sacrifice that for more versatility). The drawbacks are that it’s very fragile and has a short battery life (depending on what you’re doing).
I think that an iPad would be a better choice for most classroom settings, excluding any but the most basic technology courses. Those need a PC or a Mac.
For my personal use, I still haven’t decided yet. It IS extremely convenient, and every app launches very quickly. As far as games go, if I’m playing a 3D game, give me a mouse & keyboard or a controller over a touch screen any day. That said, there are many, many creative apps out there that are incredibly innovative, and would not work as well on any other type of interface.

Landmark II

I forgot to mention, the iPad came with a case. It’s the ‘smart’ case, meaning the front cover can fold into three plates that can, in turn, form a triangle which is used to prop the iPad up.
And yes, we are allowed to install apps onto it. I’ve already put a few games on it, each of which run a lot faster on the iPad than on my 2nd-gen iTouch. We just can’t play them at school.
Also, they’re iPad 2s.

Here’s a little more info about how we’re using the iPads:
English II: We downloaded ‘Bullfinch’s Mythology’ and started reading it in iBooks. So far, it’s a good read.
Latin I: Nothing specifically. She did mention that we were going to get a Latin dictionary soon, also in iBooks. And she let us take notes on it if we wanted to.
US Gov/Contemporary Issues: We looked up certain parts of the Constitution and it’s amendments to answer questions. For homework, we wrote up a paragraph for each of a few Founding Fathers then e-mailed it to her.
Algebra II: We had the option to use a whiteboard app for our work.

That’s all for now; I’ll have four different classes tomorrow. We’re supposed to be going almost totally paperless soon. That’ll be a relief- then I can stop carrying around eight folders and a binder.


Today, the teachers at the STEM school distributed iPads to all the students. It really is very nice, but I’ll reserve final judgement until I’ve used it for longer than half a day.
I’m writing this up on my iPad. The keyboard is essentially the same, but I can’t hit one key then drag my finger onto another key like I do with my Netbook. (That may not be how I was told to do it, but hey, it works. Pretty quick, too.) To be fair, I sometimes can. It’s not as regular, though. Other than that… Not many problems so far. The screen’s actually bigger than the Netbook’s, which is kinda pathetic. Score one for the iPad.
However, Apple won’t let someone make a Python (or for that matter, any programming language) terminal app. Their coding will let it be done; you can have one if you jailbreak your iPad. They just don’t want it. Maybe legal reasons? Maybe it’s an attempt to prevent someone from screwing their machine up? I’d say they just don’t want it. (It could be legal jargon. That seems less likely, though.)
I felt the need to document this historic moment. It could be the start of a fantastic new school that revolutionizes Knoxville’s education system. I certainly hope so. As far as I can tell, KCS just needs to realize that not all kids learn the same way. A lot of my teachers from years past didn’t seem to get that; fortunately, however, the teachers at the STEM Academy are doing very well with it so far. Especially the math teacher. She came flat out with it, saying she actually enjoyed thinking of new ways to teach the same stuff.
So yeah, I’m hopeful.