Friday, September 25, 2009

Woe is my classmates

Last night, I engaged in a sample-size debate with my professor that was exciting, and interesting and inspiring until I looked around and saw my classmates doodling and checking the clock.

Balance - where art thou?

Two weeks ago, I felt like I used to feel on the playground in the fourth grade. Now I'm Reese Witherspoon at Harvard. Or I will be after I see Eddie at the salon, later. Well, no, I won't ever be Reese Witherspoon at Harvard with or without Eddie's help. But I won't be that girl in the plaid dress with her finger in her mouth near the swings anymore either, and that's a relief.

I have to digress: I have a fundamental belief about parenting. No matter how old you are, no matter what stress befalls you, no matter what, no matter what, no matter what, it's easier than being a kid in grades four through eight and sometimes ten. It helps to remember, when children are wretched at any point in this range, that it's still easier to be you.

So my own student-child Courtney Dollface and I talked yesterday about the little glow that comes after you speak out in class, engage others, and get that reinforcement in return even if forces you to face your inner praise junkie. It's especially yummy to realize that as long as we engage the world it doesn't end. Ideas that are released into the world - through a novel, in a classroom - create a very inviting place for the new ones.

So I will no longer be thinking about withdrawing after all, for at least five more days.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Woe is me

Woe is me.

I wrote this in response to a reading in my Advanced Cognition class where we talk each week about how we think.

Since the earliest forays into the examination of thought with the unreliable introspective method, studies have turned in the direction of more testable connections, from the observable cause and effect relationships between external variables and behaviors to the scrutiny of neural operations to dissect external influence on internal behavior.

I think it looks great. I just don't know what it means.

Not only that, but after all the queries I've drafted, it looks naked without a hook: "While the clock ticks, and the neurons fire, there is only one question to consider: Will the answer lie in Connectionist Theory? And will it come in time?"

I will be in this Cognition class until December 15. All the high-achiever ghosts in my closet of I-thought-we-were-done-with-this are up from their naps now, unhappy, catching up with each other and looking over at me.

On the other hand, I will be a better thinker, and a more considerate listener. I won't be the guy who sat in front of me in traffic with a bumper sticker that said:
"Don't Blame Me. I Voted For The White Guy."

Now there's a guy who could use a little cognition.

Woe is me, but woe-er is he.

There. Perspective.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Quick, give me your PIN

I'm wondering what the hit rate really is for scammers who paste a bank logo atop an email and send it out like this:
Because of unusual number of invalid login attempts on your account we had to believe that, their might be some security problem on your account
So we have decided to put an extra verification process to ensure your identity and your account security

Breaking this down:
"...we had to believe that..." I just don't like the disappointed tone.
"...their might be some security problem on your account..." Their isint.
"...So we have decided to put an extra verification process to ensure..." Put an extra verification process where? Someone got interrupted while they were typing.

People do go to the link and they do give out their security codes and socials. I can almost not stand to think of someone doing that.

I think I'll write back and tell them that their little scheme and.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

3 out of 2 people have trouble with fractions

A while back I enrolled in classes to finish my degree and God help me, I started them last week. There are two for now: Cognition, and Politics of Crime and Justice. I knew Cognition would help keep my brain limber with all that mental yoga, the other seemed like it would be "Cops" in the classroom - bound to inform future novels if I didn't actually start drafting a character or two.

I was explaining to Sam, our sophomore, how my confidence slipped like a gear on the first night when my professor made the distinction between cognitive theories and cognitive applications (one is whether to dress Barbie in a tennis outfit or a business suit, the other is why we recognize Barbie) and warned that we should all be ABSOLUTELY sure this was the course we wanted. Absolutely sure. I wanted to raise my hand and say "I give up, is it?" Sam told me that I now understand what 99.5% of ALL kids in EVERY high school go through EVERY DAY.

Note: Why do people say 99.5%? It sounds unresearched. People should say, "Now you know how 86% of students in 92% of American schools feel," but anyway.

The first forty-five minutes of last night's class was horrible. The professor talked matter-of-factly about experimental methods in psych research and everyone was nodding like they knew what that was and so please get on with it, except for me because I was having a heart attack.

Like this:

Professor to the class: recall that a within-subjects design requires exposure to a number of independent variables hence the carry-over effect.

Me to me: Recall? I knew this? When did I know that? Why am I here? I’m over my head, I don't remember this. It's a mistake. I’m withdrawing.

Then something happened and I remembered this and that and then more and then a lot from Research Methods fifteen years ago and started raising my hand (Here is where Vivaldi's guitar concerto belongs because it was the psychology class or else it would be the Rocky theme) and I was saying things like “inferential” and “sum of the squares,” and I sailed through the rest without a single other thought of quitting.

I told this uplifting little story to Sam this morning on our ride. He thought it was "awesome." And then he asked me if I knew the only other animal that cries from emotion? I said, "Dear God, don't let it be dogs," then I gave up and he told me it was the elephant.

I looked at him upset, and he read my mind. "That's right. Dumbo was real."

Ha ha ha ha.

Within subjects, 99.5% of us can have a good time with knowledge if we point our cognition in the right direction.