Grading and Kidney Stones

My professor’s email: “The scores for Exam #1 are now posted online. The graded exams and a set of answers will be passed out in class tomorrow. The scores were quite good. The high was 103 and the average was 72.”

At reading that, high school me would’ve immediately passed two kidney stones. As is, I’m still a little shocked. I’m not used to the grading scale in this class- eighty through one hundred is an A, seventy through eighty is a B, and so on. You pass with just fifty percent. It’s bizarre. That hardly demonstrates any sort of passing mastery of the material.

Looking Classy

Saturday night I, donned in my fanciest garb, had dinner in a Panda Express with four girls wearing prom dresses. That’s one of the perks of joining a dance team. Plus, you learn what to do when thrust onto a dance floor at weddings and such. Earlier in the evening I tangoed to the Pirates of The Caribbean theme, and even with the farcical music choice, I felt quite fabulous.

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.

Some good books

I’ll start the list off with Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. Forced to read it in high school as a freshman, I fell in love with it and couldn’t put it down. The language is slightly antiquated and ornate, but it’s certainly quite penetrable. Besides, Dickens was paid by the word. Seriously. That’s why he’s somewhat, ah, longwinded.

Anything by John Green. All his works alternate between hilarious and moving. The Fault in Our Stars in particular is fantastic.

I grew up on the Redwall series. They’re traditional fantasy, gloriously heroic, and very escapist. (By Brian Jacques)

I also grew up on Harry Potter, of course. I read each of the books many, many times. At one point my father actually took away all the Harry Potter books in my room because that was how I was spending my summer vacation, just reading them again and again.

Perks of Being A Wallflower is something I only read recently, but it described high school me perfectly, minus the residual emotional trauma. I didn’t have nearly that good of an excuse to not make friends.

Terry Pratchett is an amazing and hilarious author. It doesn’t matter where you start with his books. He created this world called Discworld, and each of the books is told from somebody else’s perspective. He’s one of those authors you don’t want to put down because the book is always building up for another joke, even better than the last.

Oh, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. I first read it in 7th grade, but I didn’t get all the humor then. I recently reread it and realized just how amazingly brilliant it is. If I could pick any of these books to be required reading in school, that’s the one I would pick. Half of the book is razor sharp humor of a quality I haven’t found elsewhere, and the other half is emotionally moving and discusses some pretty serious business. It’s… an experience.

Slow down before turning, please (AKA pay attention while driving)

Today I was walking to chemistry and rounding the corner of an intersection when I heard squealing. I turned just in time to see a sleek, compact little red car try to make a sharp right turn much too fast. Its wheels screeched as the car drifted sideways, approaching a van in the turn lane of the road it was turning onto. It was one of those vans that a plumber, or an electrician, or some sort of service industry worker might drive. If you’re not getting the picture, imagine a stereotypical unmarked white van with a colorful, comfortably reassuring ‘not a pedophile- but still good with kids!’ logo on the side.
As the car drifted towards the van, I idly wondered if it was going to connect, and how hard. The red car stopped with a quiet crash. It was quiet relative to the prolonged screaming of the brakes, anyway. All was still for a few moments as my fellow pedestrians and I stared. Then, the red car slowly backed up. Its window was rolled down. I heard some raised voices. All I could distinguish was the phrase “get out of the car” said several times. Then, the red car’s engine gunned and it zoomed away. If I recall right, I heard a few quiet expletives before the van drove off when the green light lit.
I want to call that a hit-and-run, but I know that’s only for hitting people. I’m not sure what the police would call it. Leaving the site of an accident, I suppose? It was kind of scary to see because the signal for walking across the crosswalk was still lit. This person might have hit someone, had anybody been crossing. This occurred at one of the busiest pedestrian intersections on campus- in hindsight I’m shocked that nobody was crossing.

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

Currently open tabs- June 12, 2014

This blog, a page of one of UTK’s chemistry professors, Codecademy, email, Amazon Mechanical Turk, UTK registration for orientation, a Youtube video on proper guitar technique, a guide to developing perfect pitch, a website on music theory, a recipe for baking bread, a Google search “how to sing”, career opportunities at Barnes & Noble, a website about dance, another recipe for bread, a recipe for double chocolate swirl pound cake, and UTK housing. I should consider opening a new window.

London, III.

“Hello? Yes, uh, I’m a student from your tour group.”

I frown, thinking. Stupid body and its unquenchable thirst for water… I walk into a nearby shop. It’s one of the small ones against the outer wall of one of the circular rooms in the tube. Nobody’s inside but the clerk, and it still feels crowded. Sometimes I feel like an American.

“Sorry, but have you got change for a ten-pound note?”
“No.”

I frown and half-turn, the merchandise catching my eye.

“Do you have change if I buy something?”
“Yes.”

I glance at the rack and grab something edible. He gives me a handful of change and mutters something about being sorry. I don’t catch it because I’m striding out. I glance at the tube exits and pick the one that seems most familiar. I end up in Piccadilly Circus, which was quite familiar because I was fortunately there last night. I look around for the nearest bright red phone box. I would use a Tardis-colored booth but they don’t seem to exist in London- all the boxes are red. (This fact is the saddest thing my mom will learn from this trip.) Near a statue of three rearing horses with water eternally spitting out of their mouths I find two phone booths back to back.

I enter, read the instructions, and proceed to waste the next twenty minutes dialing and redialing. See, I copied down our guide’s phone number (unlike everyone else bar two) when she announced it to the group, but she gave us fourteen digits. In the US, phone numbers have at most ten. So (after figuring out how to operate the dang thing) I try the full number. No luck. I take the first number off. No luck. I take the next number, and then the next, until I get to six digits which can’t possibly hold all the numbers of just people in London. I eventually call the operator and ask what I’m doing wrong, I’m using a London phone box, I’m not from here, I’m a bloody stupid foreigner, god help me, or rather you, please, and she informs me that I need to put a zero before the fifth digit. Okay, fair enough. I figured it’d be something like that.

*dial, click*
“Hello? Yes, I’m a student from your tour group.”
“…”
“Yeah, when you stopped in the tube to get tickets for the play, I wandered off to find somewhere to fill my water bottle. I came back and you were gone. Yeah- and hey, that was really my fault. Sure, I’ll wait for you here. See ya.”