Thursday, March 24, 2011

College Wars, Episode IV: I'll take "Kittens" FTW, Alex.

Many people love to rehash their tales of debauchery during their college years. Most of these people went to college when they were in the 19-23 age range, and so their tales of debauchery were really just stupid shit that they did when they were a kid.

My college stories are a little different. You see, I went to college almost entirely online, with a select few exceptions, such as public speaking, where they actually made me (gag) show up in person and (double gag) speak, out loud, in front of people. But, my public speaking teacher was from Georgia and called me "honey" and "babe," which made it both less and more awkward. But, that's not what this post is about.

I also took an Intro to British Literature class, where my teacher had a back problem, cracked a few saucy jokes, and made the occasional drug use reference. Also not what this post is about. Pretty sure even I couldn't come up with an entire post about that, to be honest.

I also took a literature class (funny how I got a degree in Information Technology, but I have to take literature classes, isn't it?) about the influence of technology in modern fiction, which was actually VERY interesting, and which I may actually be able to come up with a post's worth of material about.

Also, on the topic, I never want to read "The Yellow Wallpaper" ever again. (You can read it there. It's sort of interesting if you only read it once, but if you want to write a critical analysis of it, you have to read it until you want to die. Which you can also do via that link, if you so desire.)

But, again, not what this post is about.


"But Shad, that's ridiculous," you might be thinking. "How can you use kittens in chemistry class? Things blow up in chemistry class! You don't want to blow up kittens, do you?!"

I may or may not occasionally want to blow up kittens, but I can assure you, no kittens were harmed in the making of this blog post. So, you can keep on reading apprehension-free, vegans, lawyers, and PETA members.

So, during the course of my nerd schooling, I had to take these things. Called electives. Where you pick something that is almost utterly unrelated to your major, and where you may learn some things, but they are generally only going to be good for playing Trivial Pursuit or Jeopardy. One such thing that They make you take is a lab science class.

Through the wonders of the postal service and the Internet, I got to take my lab science elective online. Chemistry 100 sounded easy, and I could do the experiments in my house? Winning.

As it turned out, the class was actually fun. I got a box full of plastic pipettes of various hazardous and not-so-hazardous chemicals, some test tubes, a little scale, a bit of chalk, some gravel, and so on. It was like playing with crap in the "talented and gifted" class in grade school! (You know -- the room they put the weird smart kids in so they didn't infect demoralize the normal kids with their weirdness intellect? I was totally in that room. I have at least one story about this, too, but that was way before college.)

As an added bonus, the teacher had a sense of humor. Through 11 weeks, I dutifully completed all of my assignments to the best of my ability, and had slightly over 100% of the possible points in the class, due to my overachieving ass taking advantage of the extra credit opportunities to make sure that even if I spontaneously combusted near the end of the quarter, that I would still net an A. I was fairly obsessed with maintaining my 4.0 GPA. (For that one person in Hungary that reads this stuff, that means I was getting nothing but 5s in everything. It's so weird that you can just look up and see what a good grade is in Hungary with very little effort, by the way.)

So, near the end of that term, I was getting pretty worn down -- the chemistry class was a surprising amount of work, and my other classes were also fairly labor intensive that term as well, so I was realizing that I needed to focus on getting 90% or higher, and not on ruining the curve for the other students. So, I started to cut corners.

I only had one lab report left to submit for chemistry class. Now, she (the teacher) would give us a Word document with the tasks to be performed, and the questions to be answered by performing the experiments and reading the text and supplemental material. We would fill out the document and send it back to her.

Fifteen pages into this document, I realized that there was effectively no way for me to not get an A in this class, even if I did nothing more than sign my name at the top of the paper and attach a picture of a kitten. I understood the material. I was totally wasting my time, and not even really enjoying it.

Pay attention: In the next few paragraphs, I will prove that you can use kittens when you don't feel like doing your homework.

As I neared the bottom of the giant now-boring document, there was one task left to accomplish. It was an entire page worth of writing, and a "do it yourself" mini-experiment that proved one of the concepts that we were covering.

As you might imagine if you've read any of my other posts, I saw a blank page and decided to do a little bit of creative writing instead.

Note in the picture below that her instructions indicate that I can include pictures that I "drew." This was clearly an opening. I knew that I was entirely incapable of drawing, but I gave it a go anyway.

So, here is what I came up with:

Imaginary Reader: "Good job, moron. You threw away 7% of your grade and probably spent more time writing a bad joke than you would have spent actually doing the lab work."

Dearest Reader, you are correct on one point. I DID spend more time writing the bad joke than I would have spent actually doing the lab work. If I remember correctly, all I really needed to do was put a solid object in a clear liquid with a different density than water and record observations.

However, you are completely wrong on the other point. She gave me the 2 points, and I got 100% on a lab assignment that clearly included kittens instead of science. She also attached a picture of a snarling wolf. She also went out to lunch with me a couple of months after the class was over. It was awkward, but not awkward enough to be funny.

Thus, when presented with work you don't want to do, kittens are a valid substitute. Q.E.D.

By the way, NOW you can see why I don't illustrate my posts, even though illustration might be greatly entertaining. If you are of the "I have nothing better to do than draw funny caricatures of awkward situations" bent, and would like to assist me with some guest artwork, I'm open to the idea. It pays nothing, and relatively few people will see it, though I will cheerfully credit you for it and if you have your own little corner of the Internet I will use it as an excuse to shamelessly promote your corner. It'll be just like when TV networks take one awful show and one good show and inject characters from the good show into the awful show or vice versa to try and get people to watch the awful one more often. (You can even think of me as the awful show if you want to! I can take it.)


  1. I like your drawing. Heh.

    p.s. I linked you from my fan page on FB. Hope it gets you some more followers. =D

  2. The drawing might have been better if I had tried harder, but I scribbled it and it came out *that badly*, and I decided that it was good enough for college since I was not an art major. ;)

    Thanks for the link! I don't think I have enough people who give a hoot to make a fan page for my blog just yet. Sooner or later, when I take over the world...well, it'll probably require that I teach everyone to have an attention span and vocabulary good enough to read my posts. I need to start buying people phonics monkeys! :)

  3. Your kitten could totally kick the other kitten's ass.