Tag Archives: higher education

“I Will Believe in My Glittery Screen.”

Compy goes with me everywhere.

Today I was using the ‘ol computer, typing away at my reinvented hamster wheel and rollerskating through the nets like tomorrow hadn’t been invented yet and I had the life span of an Old Testament patriarch.

I felt magic coursing through my veins as the web opened its doors and welcomed me with the minty breath of an over-eager date. Opportunities pushed me over and grabbed me by the shirt collar, saying, “I’m for you!” Yes, today was different.

It was not like yesterday, when the internet’s waters were grey like grandfather’s liver and my eyes grew weary as they sifted through the words like picking over dance prospects at a honkey tonk after only one drink. Nothing was exciting.

But today, zoom! Bang! Whip! Smash! Crunch! It felt like things were happening.

And then I noticed that my computer screen looked different. It was shining, no, glittering as I sped across the web’s pages. I didn’t think anything of it except for how much of an improvement it was on the dust blanket that eternally covered my monitor in Cairo. And I thought the glitter looked really pretty. It reminded me of when I liked glittery things and the solution to any artistic or decorative dilemma was to rain glitter on that mother effer.

I thought of a conversation I had with my neighbor, a member of a “charismatic” strand of Protestant Christianity, when she told me about a revival at their church. Apparently at the height of the service, some members’ faces and hands started shining with what later turned out to be 24 carat gold.

Maybe I was experiencing something similar, except for it was my computer that was blessed by the Lord and had become a sign to the believers in this household that the Lord does exist and that my computer was an instrument of holy work and had been sanctified for its efforts, that it would now live forever, slowly becoming more and more covered in these glitter specks until it turned into a Mac Wafer, a kind of computer that doesn’t yet exist.

Then I saw a speck towards the right-most edge of the screen that was slightly larger. It looked like a water droplet or something of that nature, but that was impossible, because water evaporates and I hadn’t had any on my computer that day. Oil, however, does not evaporate, and I had been using my computer dangerously close to pots and pans filled with various things sautéing.

My computer screen was not dazzling with flecks of spiritual 24 carat gold. It was cooking oil, either olive or canola, that had splattered onto the screen. My miracle was nothing more than the result of haphazard placement of electronics.

I could choose to be disappointed to think that I merely have a dirty, oily screen that’s no better than the glasses of a fry cook. Instead, I will believe in my glittery screen, will appreciate it for the fact it looks pretty, and will believe that this was still a miracle in its own way, both the fact that I still have a working computer, and the fact the screen looks better now than it ever has.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

A Word Problem: Sleep, Hopelessness, or Success

206.26 words…and it’s all in Arabic.

A word problem:

It is 11:50 pm, and an Arabic student has 206.25 words that she must learn for a test that begins the next day at 8:30 am. In order to pass the test, the Arabic student must go through the entire list of words at least three times, weeding out one third of the words each time. In the first round of reviewing, she has gone through 33.33333% of the words in 3 hours.

Currently, she is at 60% wakefulness. This percentage drops by 8% for every 30 minutes of studying.  If at any point her wakefulness drops below 30%, she will need to take a 20 minute coffee break, followed by a nap of desperation and then a slapping fit upon awaking. This will take one hour, and will raise her wakefulness to 70%, but after recommencing her work, she will move at a pace that is 23% less efficient than her original speed. Furthermore, her wakefulness will deteriorate at a new rate of 16% per every 30 minutes of studying.

One minute in every 6 is lost to facebook and email checking. Every 4 hours there is something new on one of these sites, resulting in the loss of an additional 4 minutes. The student must also write one email, which will cost 24 minutes as and result in a 30% decrease in concentration. The equation for calculating efficiency is e=chilz, with c=concentration, h=hunger levels, i=interest level, l=location, and z=zoo location. The email will be written when wakefulness hits 43%, but will also raise wakefulness levels to 55%.

Her current level of hopelessness is at 20%, but this rises exponentially as she continues studying, at a rate of x to the (1.3h). If her hopelessness ever reaches 80%, she will instantly go to sleep. If she sees her bat friend, it will result in a temporary boost of wakefulness and a decrease of hopelessness levels at a flat rate of 5 and 8 percent, respectively.

Will the student finish studying? If so, how many hours of sleep will she get if she wakes up at 7 o’clock in order to enjoy the new brand of granola her roommate bought?

If not, will she be overcome by hopelessness or sleepiness? If she had to complete at least 80% of the original amount of work in order to make an A on the test, with each ten percentage points below that corresponding to a lower letter grade, what will she make on the test?

What are ways she could avoid having this happen to her again, if the words were given to her over the past two weeks at a rate of 20 words per day, and if she is has 7 hours of free time every day?

Choose the answer that is most correct:

a. What was the question again?

b. Get back to work.

c. Really, you should stop blogging and study for your test.

d. Why are you still blogging?

e. All of the above

Tagged , , , , , ,

So You Want to Take a Nap in the Student Lounge

This could be you, minus the shoes

You stayed up late last night even though it was a school night. All signs point to an extreme deficit of z-power: your body has forgotten how to digest food, speech is difficult, and you feel like you’ve drunk unicorn blood and are only half-alive. At school, all you can think about is how close to death you feel even as the end of class seems so far away. Despite your best efforts, it appears that no amount of doodling will save you from dozing off in class in front of your less sleepy colleagues.

Fear not. You have a 45 minute break coming up right at 12:00, and you know exactly what you must do. It’s time to get your student-lounge nap on. A nap in the student lounge is a great way to wrinkle your shirt and put creases on your face while also being refreshed by much needed REM sleep. Here ‘s some advice about how you can make your student lounge nap a positive experience for yourself and those around you.

a. Remember that you will be stared at. With this in mind, try to sleep in a funny position in order to further the laughter that will be had at your expense. If going with the flow doesn’t appeal to you, you could put a bag over your face or write a polite note that says “I can see you too.” Generally people like concise, terse notes.

b. Be as suspicious as possible about your nap. Though you are not ashamed of the fact you are napping in a public location, do not mention it to anyone and lie if anyone asks you what you’re doing. Disguise your nap by setting up a magazine, book, or scroll in such a position that you could be reading it. This step is especially helpful for fooling people from behind.

c. Take your shoes off. If you’re comfortable, everyone else is comfortable. People love nothing more than seeing bare feet on public furniture.

d. Set an alarm. If you’re really serious about napping, this is a step that can’t be missed. The alternative is either sleeping through class, or waking up to an acquaintance poking you as you hurry to brush the drool off your face before getting up groggily and then going to class where you say wildly inappropriate things because of your sleepy stupor.

e. Don’t forget that it’s okay to drool, snore, twitch, babble, sleep stalk, and sleep steal. Do everything you would normally do at home or in the doctor’s office. Your colleagues should accept you for who you are, especially in the human state that most closely resembles death.

f. If you have dreams, tell everyone about them. Dreams are great conversation starters, and they will be especially interesting for people who were not necessarily in your dream, but in the same room as you while you were dreaming.

g. Last but not least: have fun! Make this naptime yours! Personalize it! Bring a little nap kit next time or tiny commemorative pillows for everyone who was there! If you don’t get it right the first time, don’t worry! There is no doubt you will be foolish enough to stay up to the wee hours of the morning for no good reason on a school night again.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

CASA Fellow Struggles with Class, Surprises No One

Danger to herself and others

Cairo (Reuters) –  Monday, September 5, 2011

Today another CASA fellow reacted poorly to the beginning of the fall semester.  Anonymous sources had suggested that this student lacked the rigorous level of personal commitment and self control that the program’s recommencement demanded. Throughout the course of the day, all of these suspicions were proved completely true.

At around 8:36 pm on Sunday, September 4th, the student was quoted as saying “I should really try to get to bed early tonight since I want to get up at 5:00 tomorrow morning,” chuckles emanating from her dinner guests, two of which were imaginary.

Later that evening at 12:03 am, September 5th, 2011, she reportedly stated “It’s already 12! I really need to get to bed soon.” As one of her roommates said in a later interview, “She made all these kinds of statements, what about getting up early and stuff, but I think when push came to shove, she didn’t really think she would have classes on Monday, September 5th, and she certainly couldn’t recognize the implications of those classes.”

Her inability to appreciate the reality of classes became especially apparent later on when a hand scrawled note was discovered in the toaster at her apartment. At first glance, the note appeared to be a schedule, which would initially indicate a modicum of order and progress in the student’s life. However, upon closer examination our experts found it to be a rudimentary journal of the student’s thoughts throughout the day. It read:

8:45 am: In class. Everything written in Arabic. Do they think we can actually read this? [Since said student had studied Arabic for 5 years prior to this statement, it can be concluded that she was already delirious.]

10:23 am: So hungry. Who am I? Where did these bats come from? [Further investigation indicates that by bats the student was referring to the black specs she saw swimming in her eyes, a common sign of both sleep deprivation and mad Arabic student disease.]

12:48 pm: Class just started. Very tired. Only 20 days until December [This, of course, is completely false, the meaningless production of a crazed mind.]

1:38 pm: So close to being free. Why is everyone staring at me? STOP STARING AT ME! [Recorded statements of students in her class indicate that these thoughts were vocalized verbally and with no sign she was aware of her own screaming.]

The rest of the note was lost, since it was found in a toaster, but scientists and eyewitnesses have pieced together a few rough details of what transpired the rest of the day. According to blind speculation on the part of her roommate, the student consumed no less than two sandwiches, belted out show tunes to herself within full earshot of passersby on the way home, wandered around aimlessly in a book store, and took a one hour nap.

Upon awaking, she commenced with her homework at once with an unhealthy amount of concentration before staying up again until 3:30 am, having learned nothing from the day before. If you have seen this student, please slap her firmly on both sides of the face and tell her to go to bed earlier. She, the program director, and the world will thank you for your service.

Tagged , , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: