Tag: college

Thesis by the Numbers

Thesis word cloud

I turned in my senior thesis on Wednesday this week. All that’s left is an oral defense, in early May, and then I can actually graduate, hopefully with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology with honors, Summa Cum Laude. That’s the plan.

For fun(?), I thought I’d share some of the numbers related to the thesis process:

  • Final page length: 103
  • Word count: 20,758
  • Minutes spent editing (according to Word): 6,284
  • References: 56
  • Completed surveys: 447
  • Campuses surveyed: 2
  • Days until thesis was due when I began collecting data: 8
  • Days until thesis was due when I began analyzing data: 2
  • Statistical analyses in final thesis: 5
  • Hours spent learning statistical analysis before April 8: 0
  • Time went to bed on night before due date: 4am
  • Hours spent fighting with Microsoft Word to make thesis print correctly: 3
  • Turned thesis in at: 3:30pm, April 10th, 2013
  • Volume of beer consumed after turning in thesis: [redacted]

It feels good to have a life back.

“In case you get the random urge to do laundry?”

A housemate of mine is coming down the stairs with something in her hand.

“Ah, you going back to the library?” I ask.

She looks at me funny.

Then I realize she’s not holding a backpack– she’s holding a pair of jeans.

Butterfly Dreams

Well, I’ve officially entered the realm of Buffy studies. For my most recent paper in my Encounters class, I decided to study doubt in the Japanese film Rashomon (1950). To do so, however, I got to do something incredibly fun: I brought in an episode of Buffy, entitled “Normal Again,” and used the two texts together to illuminate the use of doubt in both. The essay, in fact, was so fun to write that it was a massive challenge to keep it under the word limit.

Since I didn’t really want to lose all the thought I put into this, here’s the full version of the essay for your perusal. It’s a really interesting topic, and if I didn’t have other things to do in my studious life, I might write even more about it, exploring other episodes such as “Restless.”

A note on citations: At certain points, I cite clips from Rashomon in the following format: (1.1:15-30). This citation refers to the clips of Rashomon on YouTube, as noted in the Works Cited page. The citation given would mean Part 1, from timestamp 1:15 to timestamp 1:30. Hopefully, this clears up any confusion.

The full essay is available after the break.

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Bloggyblogging

Classes have started!

My schedule’s a pretty nice one– I’m taking Elementary Japanese, Encounters (the mandatory first-year humanities course), Social Problems (a sociology class), and Intro to Visual Arts Practices. I’m happy to point out that there are absolutely no math classes in this semester’s lineup. After Calculus II last semester, I’m rather burnt out on math. I’m not sure if I’m done for good, since that depends on both my future whims and the requirements of whatever major I settle on, but I’m done for right now, which is a relief. I’m also fairly lucky with regards to how the week pans out: three days a week, I only have two classes, and am out by noon! Of course, the tradeoff here is that on Wednesdays, all four of my classes meet… but I think I can manage that. All of these courses seem really interesting.

Today I had two classes: Japanese and Social Problems. Japanese was great, as always–Professor Takemoto is an animated and engaging professor, and he helped us brush the dust off, as it were, and start speaking the language again. He also distributed the packet of kanji characters we’ll be learning this semester, which contained quite a few beautiful characters containing strokes and radicals I’ve never seen before. We’re also, unexpectedly enough, reading a 2006 novel in class this semester. It’s an English novel, but it’s by a Japanese-American author, and it has a lot to do with Japanese culture. All in all, I’m looking forward to getting back into the Japanese groove.

Social Problems was interesting as well; the class is large, but there are a lot of people I know on the roster1Large by Whitman standards, that is. It’s about 30, 35 people. I love small schools.. We started by discussing what constituted a social problem, and whether or not cultural/demographic perspective had anything to do with what we classified as social problems. Our first text is entitled Gang Leader for a Day, and it follows a young sociologist as he integrates himself within and observes a Chicago crack gang. We’re also reading texts on the criminal justice system, inner-city poverty and crime, and juvenile crime. Looks like there’s a common theme here, but I don’t mind. All the texts sound fascinating. Also, oddly enough, the class isn’t going to meet this Thursday because the professor will be out of town, so I’ll have only one class that day. Awesome!

Other parts of campus life have been similarly easy and enjoyable to readopt, such as living in the dorms. My section met last night, and our new RAs introduced themselves. Although they might not have quite the charisma as last semester’s beloved Daichi, Hayley and Bailey seem to be a couple of pretty cool characters. Bailey also mentioned, as he spoke to us, that while sections usually get smaller at semester breaks, as students change their housing situations, 4-West actually got bigger–so big, in fact, that his room is actually in 4-East, the neighboring section. Like I mentioned before, I’m really proud to be part of a section that’s got such a strong family vibe.

I’ll write some more about school when something more interesting happens here.

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. Large by Whitman standards, that is. It’s about 30, 35 people. I love small schools.

What I Learned From my First Semester at College

2009 is over. With that, the first decade of this new millennium is over– as well as my first semester at Whitman College.

It’s certainly been an unusual ride, and one filled with many great stories and experiences to boot. Although I can’t possibly hope to retell every one, I figure the least I could do is make up for my sparse and uninteresting blog posts during the semester and give you a notion of the many things I learned during my first semester at Whitman.

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Bewildered, Part II

Exclamation point

Stale Content Alert!

This post was written a long time ago, and my views have almost certainly evolved since then. Please keep that in mind while reading, commenting, or sharing.

Recall.

Only this time, it’s the rough draft of a Core paper, not a philosophical essay.

Nevertheless, it’s pretty much the same situation all over again. My brain won’t come up with original thoughts, or when I think I have a great idea, it gets completely and totally locked in my head the moment I sit down and try to write it. I can think about it, but the words just won’t flow in the slightest. I end up trying to back up my ideas with multiple snippets of quotes or episodes, rather than honing in on selective episodes and picking them apart for detail like I know I should. I know I should be doing close reading, analyzing smaller parts of the text, using a “microscope rather than a panoramic lens,” so to speak, but my brain just won’t do it. I don’t know how, or at least I feel like I don’t.

My brain feels like it’s not working at all– or if it is, it’s deliberately working against me.

What has gone wrong with me? Why, all of a sudden, am I unable to think well– or express my thoughts through words?

And again, I doubt my being here; and again, I feel hopelessly lost and crushed.

Bewildered

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Stale Content Alert!

This post was written a long time ago, and my views have almost certainly evolved since then. Please keep that in mind while reading, commenting, or sharing.

I’m going to sleep tonight feeling as crappy as can be.

I have incredibly severe doubts about myself right now. I’m doubting my own capabilities, my supposed talents, and really anything that I once thought made me special. (Yes, it’s true, this is that kind of blog post.)

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Levenger Circa

Because Organization is COOL.

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Stale Content Alert!

This post was written a long time ago, and my views have almost certainly evolved since then. Please keep that in mind while reading, commenting, or sharing.

I am currently geeking out about this:

It’s called the Circa Notebook System, by Levenger. It’s basically best described as an intensely customizable notebook/binder/organizer. The design of the binding allows pages to be easily removed and replaced however necessary, without popping open binder rings or tearing pages. Dividers, a million different types of filler paper, and tons of other options are available in order to customize your notebook just as you need it, and you can buy a Circa hole punch so that anything can fit securely inside.

The idea of super-flexible, modular, and simple notebook/binder-type organization really appeals to me.


Header image: “My Levenger Circa notebook” by Jaime Wong. Original licensed under a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license. Modified: desaturated, edited exposure. My modification is released under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

Moving In

Dear Spencer:

Congratulations! I am delighted to inform you that you have been admitted to Whitman College for the class entering in the fall of 2009

So began the process, almost nine months ago. Or, perhaps, so began another step in this journey, a journey that started years ago as I sat on my couch opening envelopes from various colleges, trying to pick the gems out of the garbage.

Whatever.

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