30 October 2009

All point, no power.

Thankfully the last of the MS Office projects are due in IS101 next week, as I have done an absolutely miserable job on them throughout the course, possibly in the process playing myself right out of a chance at an A in the class (and making myself scramble to even earn an A-minus.) By the gods, there's 40 points of extra credit available (out of 810 total points in the class, a score of 753 is required to get an A, and 40 points can make an A out of a B+). I hope I can do well on the extra credit projects and salvage my shot at a 4.0 for the semester.

Some folks may wonder why I've suddenly shifted from "just happy to be here" to "crazy Lisa Simpson overachiever" and the reason is simple. Besides the obvious "it's in striking distance, might as well go for it" factor, there's another reason. I haven't pulled straight As since 1987, in fourth grade, which also happens to be right after my father died and I threw myself into my schoolwork to try and keep my mind off of losing my dad.

For me to, at 32, reach the very level of success I hit before my life went completely to hell on me in the summer of '87 (combination of no more healthy distractions + mom dating a vile lout of a man)? I can't help but wonder if my old man's looking at me from the afterlife and thinking "You done good, son."

27 October 2009

In Which Our Hero Emerges Triumphant.

I quote my Core Humanities professor, in his evaluation of my midterm (all 4,000 words of it): "Great work, Fox. Thoughtful, thorough, and well-written. 100% A."

I worked my ass off on that paper. I put my heart and soul into it. I (to judge by the tone from about page nine onward) got a little sick of my own seriousness and decided that if the professor were as bored reading as I'd become writing, a laugh would be in order (making references in the fifth mini-essay to Ronseal Quick Drying Woodstain ads and the Dennis the Peasant scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail). To quote from a passage later in that essay (on absolute monarchy):

"Consider the issue of modern health care reform. In the United States, the Congress must deliberate the needs of the public, the insurance companies, doctors, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin's grandmother, left-wing alternative medicine practitioners, the cast of The Office, and every other brain-dead mook who has an opinion. In a monarchy? King Barack would need only say the word and for better or worse the health care industry would have to bow to his will...

"The Forrest Gump principle applies here: "Absolute monarchs are like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get." Still, when you've got a Louis XIV-caliber guy in charge, your nation can run circles around the democracies."

It is very satisfying to put hours of effort into a piece and have it favorably judged. To get the best possible score? That is sweet.

26 October 2009

My brain is overloading; it has a chocolate coating.

Sometimes foresight is 20/20. This is usually unintentional.

Way back in April when I registered for fall classes, I took a look at my required classes and the times I'd need to set aside in order to get into all of them. It just so happened that Accounting is my last class on Mondays and Wednesdays and Statistics is my last class on Tuesdays and Thursdays. These are also the most mind-intensive, difficult classes on my schedule. And by 2:00 every afternoon, my brain is thoroughly fried from trying to internalize all that information; if I had a 2:00 class to worry about I'd probably be operating at half capacity at best. Instead, I blog; what this does to the quality of my writing I leave to the reader to decide.

What's interesting about all of the above is that Accounting and Statistics are the classes I'm also doing the best in gradewise (my 113% average in Nutrition is purely the result of extra credit points; in terms of total points earned relative to total points available, the rank drops to third.) I can wrap up an A in Statistics as early as next week if I totally nail the test down, which is roughly akin to a football team clinching a playoff spot in Week 11 (something that was last done by the 2007 Patriots if I'm not mistaken.) I can do similar in Nutrition (once again, thanks to extra credit points) and come damn close to doing so in Accounting. That leaves Core Humanities (which will depend on my grades on the midterm and on this week's paper) and IS101 (which I'll need either perfect scores or some extra credit to do---this will likely come down to the sort of time point you'd expect from the Minnesota Twins.)

The overall point to this? I can honestly say I haven't a clue. If my gradebook is anything to go by, it would seem that the more taxing on my brain the task is, the better I do at it. The main reason I've got myself in such an awful fix in IS101 is because I mistakenly assumed it would be an idiot simple class, and by the time circumstances proved otherwise I'd put myself behind the eight ball. I was under no such illusion in the math-and-science based classes that are the Rock of Gibraltar to my grade-point average this semester.

Still, it would seem my worst-case scenario will give me a 3.92 grade-point average for this semester and 3.94 overall, so it's not like I'm struggling by any stretch of the imagination. If you want to dismiss this as a nerd whining, I'm not going to tell you any different. After all, it would seem (more news as it breaks---I don't want to jinx anything) that I've attracted some attention from people in higher places by bursting onto the stage with a breakthrough performance.

19 October 2009

What a to-do to die today at a minute or two to two.

...well, OK, I didn't die. I ate lunch at a minute or two to two. But that would get in the way of a good title now, wouldn't it?

Every once in awhile I get it in my head that I've got life pretty easy, seeing as how I go to school, go to classes, and come home, all in far less time than it'd take me under most normal circumstances if I'd just worked a full-time job.

Then there's this past week.

In the last week, I've written a seven-page lab report, written a 4,000-word midterm paper, done three hours' worth of work on an accounting midterm, scored 126 out of a possible 100 on a Nutrition midterm (no, that's not a misprint---I got all the regular points and all the extra-credit points available), compiled a treasurer's report for the campus Entrepreneurship club, written a featured 1,000-word blog post on ESPN.com, done my Statistics midterm, and still found time to work on next week's Microsoft Access project for Information Systems 101 (95% complete, pending email from the prof.)

The kicker? Not counting time spent on the bus, all of the above took me my standard 12.5 hours of in-class time, 2 hours for the lab, 3 for the accounting midterm, 3.5 for the 4,000-word paper (I write like Mozart composed, in one big stream of consciousness), maybe half an hour for that blog post, an hour for the E-club stuff, three for the Statistics midterm, and no outside-class time on that IS101 project. Add up all of the above and that means I've spent 21.5 hours actually doing work.

Twenty-one and a half. And I've been more productive than I'd have been at a sixty hour a week job in some mind-numbing corporate drone office.

I am often accused of being lazy, work-shy, and ill-motivated. Bull. I just hate mindless busywork with the passion of a thousand burning suns, and that means I bust my ass when it comes time to actually do something important precisely because I'd much rather people not waste my time just because I'm somehow expected to put in a certain number of hours to validate myself.

If I ever have my own firm I'm going to be rolling in money because my ability to crank out work at seemingly superhuman speeds with no loss of accuracy means I'll be able to keep a larger client list than my competitors, which means more revenue in less time. Or, if I'm salaried for some corporation, nobody needs to know I'm playing Mount and Blade in my office on a non-company laptop just to give the impression that I'm a hard worker when in reality I'm just holding onto stuff until deadline so people don't get it in their heads that I don't have enough to do.

I've got great work-life balance, I just wish the "work" side would quit sticking artificial elephants on their end of the seesaw.

14 October 2009

Midterms? Beaten like a redheaded stepchild.

I've got to take a minute to toot my own horn here. Pardon my arrogance, but I think I've earned it this time.

In Nutrition class, we had a midterm exam on Monday, and the grades came out today. I scored 126 on a scale of 100. Not only did I get all the regular questions right, I also got all the extra-credit points available. Thanks in large part to extra-credit points, my grade is now +34.5 for the semester. That is to say, I could get a 65.5 out of 100 (as in a D grade) on the next test and I'd still have a 100% average---I'm so far out in front that I could get no points at all on the next one and still carry an A in the class! Not that I'm going to do this...I rather like the prospect of being able to clinch an A in the first week of November, which I can do with a similar performance on the next exam.

Other midterms haven't been graded yet, and I'm not out of the woods yet as far as classes I still have some work left to do in (I have to be just about dead on the stick perfect in IS101, for example---if the semester ended today I'd get a B+ thanks to a total, catastrophic screwup on an earlier assignment), but a dean's list (3.5 or better) semester GPA is all but a mortal lock. Three A grades are statistical locks (nutrition, accounting, statistics), an A- is a very likely final result in IS101 (an A if I can find some extra-credit points or get the rest of my grades dead solid perfect on remaining assignments), which gives me 15.7 grade-points on the first 12 credits (15.7/16 overall possible). A 3.5 GPA requires 17.5 grade points out of twenty, which means I need at least a C in Core Humanities. I think I can get that right since I got an A in the prerequisite this past summer. I've even caught the attention of the associate dean of business---I'm starting to make a name for myself around here.

So yeah. I think I've earned the right to pat myself on the back. It might all change tomorrow. But for now? I'm like an NFL team on Monday after a big Sunday win. The players go back to practice on Tuesday, but a day of celebration is well warranted. Same rules apply here. Now then---accounting class starts in an hour, and it'll be right back to work for me.

11 October 2009

My head a splode.

I'm going to be dropping out of the Business Plan Competition my school's currently holding. Besides the fact that my business (an accounting firm serving small business owners with reasonably-priced full-service financial advising and accounting) isn't the breakthrough innovation that the competition committee's looking for and thus stands little to no chance of earning me any prizes, there's also the fact that if I have any more weeks like this one where I'm so overextended that I'm going to have to put in 25-30 hours of work just to get everything done (in addition to class time), there's no way I can put my best foot forward, especially when I have other requirements on my time.

This past summer, when I took three classes in five-week sessions, I told anyone who would listen that I was doing it so I'd have no illusions that school would be easy when fall came around. What I didn't count on was that those summer classes would be a cakewalk compared to what I've got in the pipeline this semester! So much for looking like an iron man. If the semester ended today I'd have a 3.8 GPA for fall (and 3.88 overall), but if I heap anything else onto my plate, who knows how things will turn out---probably badly. This is proving to be more challenging (and ultimately more rewarding) than I ever could've envisioned going in.

06 October 2009

The social misadventure continues.

If I find a better means of passing the time between my last class and the evening workshops I've been attending, it will be a red-letter day for me. Sitting in a lonesome hallway, listening to Strauss when there aren't other students around, and just generally killing time because it's too far to go home and come back is a bit too lonesome and woebegone even for me. I've got to find a game or something to play since it's clearly going to be quite a few of these sorts of days in the months to come.

Once again I remain somewhere between baffled and utterly stunned that someone as introverted and generally disinterested in extracurricular human contact as myself (no, not the Letterman kind) somehow finds himself at the second-rank infantry of a group of dedicated schmoozers and extroverts. May Lord Mercury watch over me and keep me from missteps.