Changes

Jan. 30th, 2011 11:27 am
pierianspring: A photo of myself. (Default)
So I'm about to begin the second (technically 3rd I suppose) week of classes. I dropped out of 20th century in American Film, and the Philosophy in Literature and Film class. Basically, in both classes a HUGE percentage of the grade was going to be based on participation/presentations, and I do not feel so interested in film that I could talk that much about it in either context (history or philosophy). So I dropped them and instead added Contemporary Latin America (senior research course that picks up where Colonial L.A. left off) and History of Science. I do have to do a presentation of a paper I write for History of Science, but I feel much better and more qualified to speak about scientific advancements than movies. Which brings me to another point...from the short time I spent in the film classes, what I noticed is that it is MUCH more socially acceptable to be a movie geek than it is to be a science/history/academically minded geek.
There were many people in the film courses that had strong opinions, tons of technical knowledge, and knew many names within the film world. In fact this is what intimidated me about those classes even more than the presentations and participation; I felt like I would never be able to get a word in for participation credit because literally EVERYONE was talking to the point of boisterousness about movies! And I don't really care that much about them! I just thought the classes would be "easy." lol.

Ok, so then I switch to History of Science. I go in, and immediately I'm fired up about this class! It took me a long time to pick a topic for my paper/presentation, because there are so MANY things I'd like to do it about (I chose to write about near death experiences and if this is evidence of humans possessing a soul). I'm very happy in the class, and my only complaint is that this professor mainly focuses on the life sciences while I prefer physics/astronomy. Also, he *might* be a supporter of intelligent design "theory"...but I'm still unsure about that. He presented the watchmaker argument in class...without stating the opposing argument. Not sure if he is saving that for later in the course or what, because we are going somewhat linearly. He is from Europe (Dutch, educated in England/U.S.), SO this may be bias on my part, but I believe he is probably not a creationist due to that. In addition, he went to Princeton and was a student of Thomas Kuhn (!!!! I had a braingasm when he mentioned this).  So he HAS to be really smart! I must maintain confidence in this guy. XD

On the other hand, he mentioned he argued with Richard Dawkins before about conflicts between religion and science.

See? So much going on here. XD Either way, I feel like the class will be interesting and I'm looking forward to it.

Anyway, after the first session of His Sci, I get in the elevator with a girl who is in the class with me, and she says "I don't like that class." and she was probing me for MY opinion of the class (which obviously is that it is fucking awesome) but instead of telling her how I really felt I just shrugged and said I "didn't know about it" or didn't have an opinion really. It's not a good thing to be excited about a science related course.
This same girl decided to tackle the topic of Intelligent Design in her paper (we chose these topics from a list he handed out), and immediately asked if she could quote the Bible in her paper. I'm trying to withhold judgment for now because I also quote the Bible in discussing I.D.,  just to show how silly it is. Even if she does argue in favor of I.D., I'll balance it out by attempting to argue that no one has a soul. lol.

Moving on, Contemporary Latin America seems like it will be more focused than Colonial LA was. In Colonial, we wrote 4 short papers over 4 books, in addition to weekly written homework over the textbook chapters or handouts. In this class, we only have 2 books, an online textbook for "background info", and ONE paper. But it is a huge research project. In fact, we have to submit weekly "reflections", which are mini-papers ABOUT what we are doing for the main paper. It will be bigger than my research proposal for Psych. But I'm looking forward to doing this, because of my aspirations for graduate school. It is a mini-thesis, I suppose. I can also use an excerpt from it as my writing sample for applications. So, in short, I kinda need it.
And my topic is going to be something about the Pan-American highway/I-35, which goes from Alaska all the way down to the tip of Argentina or Chile, if I'm not mistaken. Have to narrow it down to something very specific, and do a proposal by February 9th. Eek!


All of that, and I haven't even mentioned that I have 3 other classes, including Stats and Learning! *sigh*
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This life is so amazing, saying that I am lucky is such a monumental understatement. When a person's biggest problem in life is that they are hurting because they LOVE someone so much and can't be with them (though they will be someday), there's really nothing to complain about.

This is a world and a universe in which so many countless possibilities exist, and for a single human the possibility of even existing is so minute to be a practical impossibility, and then for that existence to actually be a mostly pleasant experience, is more than I can think about sometimes. To have food to eat, to not be brutally victimized physically or mentally, to not have grown up in a war zone or as a victim of molestation/rape. To have learned to read and write, a privilege that very few women before me ever had and many still don't. To have the immense fortune of growing up in a time in which science and technology have made so much progress. To have been born healthy and to have stayed healthy. To have the option to attend college, and to have a job that I choose based on my interests and abilities rather than necessity. To reject religion and not burn. To have all of my teeth. These are things that depending on time and location, you might not get them. They aren't a guarantee. This is my place in life, and I have so much to be thankful for but no one to be thankful to. It's all circumstance and random chance.
To BE thankful to anyone, be it a god or some super/natural intervention, is to claim that I am somehow favored over roughly 90%* of the rest of the world population by a deity, or perhaps the energy of the universe, or our alien overlords, etc. To be thankful is arrogance, because it means I'm somehow better or more special than all those people who were just born in the wrong time or place. It means there is some(thing/one) out there that decides that other people eat dirt cakes while I eat almost anything that I want. Whatever is out there that is making the decisions, is a fucking dick. I'd rather my universe be unintelligent and have everything be natural, coincidental, and indifferent...than be a total jerk who just happens to like me for some reason.
So basically, if I'm wrong about rejecting the supernatural, and there is a god, and this god sends me to hell, I'm fine with that. I'd rather follow my own principles and be damned for it, than to worship a god who is filled with hate and jealousy and has created hell-on-earth for billions of other humans in some sort of "test" for their loyalty to him (or if you are more "old testament", a punishment for something one human did eons ago, OR the work of a nemesis he can't control even though he is supposedly omnipotent...did I cover all the outs you have?). What kind of a god is that?
And to all the spiritual "woo" types who read The Secret and think their ideas are so much better: it's just a more ambiguous way of saying that people in bad circumstances somehow deserved what they got. That you are superior and the universe will grant you your desires because you play along and "believe" in it. It's the same shit with a different brand name.

In short, I know I'm unbelievably privileged. Many people think it is arrogant of me to not bow down to a god (particularly THEIR god) and be grateful for it. But I can't morally or intellectually, because I see the suffering around me now and what the past was like. I can't see myself as any better than other people in worse situations. So I can't thank any imaginary, all-powerful force that sees me that way.


*made up stat. Could be more or less, I don't really know. I'm just guessing.

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 So today I went to speak with the graduate advisor for history. He was nice and we talked about me earning an MA in History as a step toward either teaching or librarianship, and he said that I sound like a good candidate for the program. So I might be staying here just long enough to get the MA. I'll apply to one or two other places as well, and if they all accept me it will probably come down to what would be the best financial decision (cost of attendance vs. funding I would receive). Of course I don't want to stay in Texas any longer, but it might be the smartest choice. 
No matter which school I decide to attend, I'll be moving out. I can't take living at home anymore. I would love to have my own 1 bedroom or studio apartment (Jon can live with me too if he wants, lol, but he is staying put until he graduates), but I think that is probably unrealistic. I never liked having roommates; I need more control over my space and more privacy than that. But even living with strangers seems more appealing than living at home. 

I changed my schedule around a little bit. I am taking the History of Science class after all, a different world history class (because the graduate advisor guy teaches it and I want him to like me, lol), and I dropped the other world history course and the philosophy course. 

I seriously need a haircut, but I'm so broke right now. I have some money, but it is all for Christmas gifts. I think mom will take me out after finals and pay for me to get a haircut if I'm nice to her. Ok, so there are still  some advantages to living at home. XD

Lately I've been interested in reading about early U.S. feminists. I bought The Woman's Bible from Amazon and started reading last night; this is the most excited I've been while reading a book since Unweaving the Rainbow. If I taught a course in American Women's History, I think this would be required reading. 

History?

Nov. 20th, 2010 02:00 pm
pierianspring: A photo of myself. (Default)
Friday we had a quiz in History. I had not read the chapter that the quiz was over, but still managed to make a 100 on the quiz. Dr. Heath looked through our quizzes and was calling out people who had done well. To the others he would say "Good job!" and small things like that. But when he got to mine, he looked up at me and said "Oh, Amanda. I hope you come to graduate school here with me! You don't have to study Latin America!" (his specialty). 

He was only joking a little bit. We have talked about me maybe going for an M.A. in History here before, on visits to his office. He does want me to and is willing to recommend me, but I think he is mistaking my shyness as ambivalence. Like I don't really want to, but I'm being nice about it. Actually I don't know if I want to or not. I'm thinking about emailing him, and seeing if I can come in and talk about it more in depth or something. I'm so torn right now. I feel like I could go in any direction, but Dr. Heath is the first professor who has really recognized any talent in me or supported me. He has become something of a mentor, even though my major is psychology. The psychology department is completely overwhelmed with students, both undergraduate and graduate level. The classes are enormous, and the professors are too busy to meet with people individually much of the time. So I don't know them well and they don't know me. I feel detached from psychology now. I know enough about it to realize how much I don't know. I can't believe I'm about to graduate with a degree in Psychology with how little I actually KNOW about psychology. . Maybe I'm selling myself short.

Anyway, History is more enjoyable to me. Honestly this is not Psychology vs. History, but History vs. Library Science. I wonder if I could just apply to History programs and Library programs. I mean, is it sort of an unspoken rule that you only choose one field and only apply to graduate schools that are in that one field? It seems like when people go through the application process they are already sure of what they want to do. I wonder if that is actually true, or if it is only how it seems. 
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I'm nerding out about the classes I get to take in the Spring...well, a couple of them.

Monday:
6-10 pm: 
Elementary Statistics (lecture and lab; part of psych core).

Tuesday and Thursday

11-12:20: Learning. (part of experimental block for psych)
12:30-1:50: 20th Century in American Film (history elective)
2:00-3:20: History 265 (required world history course)

Wednesday:
6-9 pm: Philosophy Seminar on Philosophy in Literature and Film. (I have two upper level electives to meet the total hour requirement for my degree, and this sounded interesting so I'm using it to fulfill one of those).

I have Fridays off, plus I have no classes during the day on Monday or Wednesday. I'll use those times to work either at my biology lab job or, if I can manage it, get a job at the library instead and work there. As usual, weekends will be for homework. lol. I'm putting off the health class until summer or Fall, because I don't know if I would have had enough of a refund left over to pay for books if I took the health class on top of all of these other classes. Oh well.

pierianspring: A photo of myself. (Default)
I get to begin adding classes at 10:30 tonight...so depending on what is available I've narrowed down a few choices:

Monday 6-10 pm (lecture and lab together, basically) - Statistics. This will get all of my stats out of the way at the beginning of the week. It's a long run, but it would be nice to just work on Stats homework each weekend, go to class on Monday, and be done for the week. That said, this is filling up fast so I will probably end up in the regular daytime classes instead. SO not looking forward to this class. Every time I bring it up that I haven't taken it yet, other psych majors who have taken it always say "It's not that bad." Even if I don't tell them my opinion about it, lol. I guess everyone dreads this class.

Tuesdays and Thursdays - Cognition or Learning, Special Topics in the History of Science (or any other upper level history class that sounds interesting and/or fits my schedule), History 265 (required for my minor).

Online (hopefully): KIN 215...stupid health class everyone has to take. Total blow-off even if I end up having to take the physical class instead of taking it online.


I have to decide between Cognition and Learning. I am more interested in Cognition as a subject, but the class is huge (120 seats) and I'm afraid I wouldn't get to foster any sort of relationship with the professor like I'm hoping to do in my last couple semesters. The Learning class is smaller, and I've taken the professor twice before and got an "A" each time. If I do well in Learning, I could get a good letter of recommendation out of it. Even though Learning is a little too behaviorist for my taste, I'm going to try to get into Learning if it doesn't fill up before 10:30 (since it's smaller, there are less seats). I will take Cognition in the fall if I don't take it this spring; cognition is my favorite part of psychology (besides abnormal psych, anyway).
I'm also afraid of overloading myself the semester I have to take Stats, but I may have to add another history or psy course because it's getting down to the wire. I guess I'd rather add too much and drop than add too little and end up staying an extra semester.

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I'm setting up this journal instead of studying...

I guess I'm another livejournal expatriate. My livejournal is @ http://poptart1017.livejournal.com/ and will still be updated with cross posts of the updates which I will write here. I'll also still be keeping up with friends and communities there so comments on those posts will still be read.

I changed the name from "poptart1017" which was something that I thought up years ago as a teenager while I was creating my livejournal. I don't remember where "poptart" came from, but "1017" was my ex boyfriend and I's anniversary. So it needed to go.

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Amanda

January 2011

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