Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Random Musings of a Ramblin' Fool L

Almost half a year (5-1/2 months) has transpired since I last posted one of these columns. For those of you who don't know it, the L in the title above is the Roman numeral for the number 50. This blog has picked up over 70,000 more visits and added 209 additional posts since last June 30th's Random Musings. During that time my monthly productivity never dropped below 30 posts per month whereas there were four months in the first half of this year which saw monthly post totals in the teens. July to August saw individual visits to this blog exceed 13,000 each month. This edition of Random Musings will be more Kim-centric than I'd like but I must get you all caught up on things with me since last I opined upon such things here.

Fall 2014 Cal Poly Quarter Synopsis

Last week was finals week at Cal Poly. This is my first week of Christmas vacation which I am thoroughly enjoying. So what happened this just-ended quarter at Cal Poly? I took 15 units which is considered a bit heavy a course load for the first quarter of a transfer from a community college. What courses did I take?

I took a 2-unit History 100 (Introduction to the Study (and Practice) of History) with Dr. Kathleen Murphy. This class is a prerequisite for taking any additional history classes at Cal Poly as it teaches one the basics of how to study history.  In this class I started my research on the Cal Poly Plane Crash which I intend to pursue further in my senior project and Master's thesis. In this class I earned an A-.

I took a 4-unit Spanish 103 (Elementary Spanish III) with Dr. Anthony Rector. I could have taken this course at Cuesta College but it would have required I go to the SLO campus four or five days a week which was a non-starter for me. Consequently, I had to take it at Cal Poly. It is a prerequisite for taking Spanish 201 which I am signed up for next quarter and is a terminal level Spanish class for me (meaning it is as high as I have to go to get a bachelor's degree). I struggled in this class as I do not have an aptitude for learning new languages and my 44 year-old mind is not at the stage of life where it is most apt to learn a new language. Also, I did not work as hard in this class as I could have or should have in hind-sight. In this class I earned a C.

I took a 5-unit History 303 (Research and Writing Seminar in History) with Dr. Christina Firpo. There were two versions of this course offered this past quarter. I took the one which sounded less interesting, to wit, "Race, Sex, and Orientalism in Colonial Southeast Asia." It was the one with available openings although the other version of the class with Dr. Trice sounded more interesting subject matter-wise, but was full. Dr. Firpo's class was the hardest class I have ever experienced and any grade in it (I feel) is equivalent to the next letter grade up if all other factors are considered equal. I also learned more in that class than in any other class I have ever experienced. Dr. Firpo forced me to become a better writer and added multiple additional facets to my writing ability for which I am forever indebted to her. That is true despite the fact I was miserable at times during the class as I was forced out of my comfort zone which was what I needed in order to get better. She also taught me some neat-o research tricks which will be useful to me. In this class I earned a B which feels like an A and I am proud of that B.

I took a 4-unit Geography 308 (Global Geography) with Dr. Peter Osterroth initially and down the stretch with Dr. Meg Streiff. This class started out slow and a bit weird as an over-the-hill and long-in-the-tooth German language instructor who happened to be a geography PhD from way back when filled in for the instructor who usually taught the class as she went on sabbatical. He also taught some sociology classes. As the quarter progressed he got more erratic and began to conflate the curriculae of his geography and sociology classes. Enough complaints filtered in that they shit-canned him mid-quarter and brought back the instructor who went on sabbatical. She rocked and geography clicked so much with me I have decided to make it my minor instead of political science. In this class I earned an easy A.

I ended the Fall 2014 quarter with a 3.093 GPA.

Things I Didn't Do At Cal Poly

I had planned on joining the team of volunteers for the Rose Bowl Float this fall, but due to my time constraints with school and with work for Vino Vice, Inc. I could not make it work. I hope that next fall it will work out for me to volunteer for that project. I also did not make it to a single meeting of the on-campus Christian club this past quarter which met on the Dexter Lawn each Thursday morning at 11 a.m. I fully intend to start making these meetings when my schedule allows sometime next year. Winter 2015 quarter does not look promising, unfortunately, given my schedule. I did not date a Poly Dolly. Perhaps I'm too old for that sort of thing and given I am limiting myself to Christian ladies that may thoroughly eliminate any such possibility... which is fine with me if that is God's will.... but there's nothing wrong with wishing.

I SOARed But Didn't WOW

Last August I attended SOAR (Student Orientation And Registration) voluntarily, but did not attend WOW (Week of Welcome) last September. However, I just discovered via Twitter that starting next fall it will be mandatory for all incoming students to attend both. SOAR is an absolute must for any incoming student which makes this pronouncement a wise thing. However, I'm less certain about WOW. As a 44 year-old single guy I felt that my presence there might have held a creepy factor. I am old enough to be these nascent Polly Dolly's daddy and hanging out with new students and their parents didn't seem appetizing to a guy already slightly self-conscious of his age going back to school and for whom being a multi-decadal local made orientation less useful.

What's Next For Me At Cal Poly

I have signed up for four classes worth 16 units in Winter 2015 quarter. I am enrolled in a 4-unit Spanish 201 (Intermediate Spanish I). I am on the waiting list for a 4-unit History 214 (Political Economy of Latin America and the Middle East). I am enrolled in a 4-unit History 304 (Historiography) which is the next and final history prerequisite for me. It will study historical writing including historical theory such as those of Marx and Foucualt. I am also enrolled in a 4-unit History 322 (History of Modern America). If I don't get into History 214 I will still be doing 12 units in three challenging classes and a slight break might not be a bad thing for me.

Big Changes at Vino Vice

Vino Vice changed hands as the founding owner Jim Davis sold it to my friend Geoff Auslen. This change will allow for continued growth of the business as is already being manifested. Before the change I seemed on track to become a supervisor and that seems to still be the case. Work for this company has been a convenient and invaluable augmentation to my student loans and grants and has offset the loss of my job with Rocks & Relics early last year.

El Niño Or Not, It's Raining Bunches

Climatologists still haven't officially declared an El Niño as the atmosphere does not seem to yet agree with what the Pacific Ocean itself is suggesting about current state of ENSO. However, we are in a wet pattern the likes we have not seen since at least 2005, the last time we got a good El Niño soaking... although that was a weak El Niño like the current one if it even officially becomes one. Just to confuse things it is worth noting that 2009-2010 was a moderate El Niño rainy season, the last previous season for El Niño. No memorable rain patterns or singular storms occurred then such as we have been experiencing in recent weeks in California. Cleary, if we get a lot of rain or not is much more complex a dynamic than merely to El Niño, or not to El Niño.

*Note: I have many more things to discuss in this space but not the time to do it tonight. Hopefully I will post another Random Musings before the New Year.

1 comment:

  1. Good job, Kim, on your first semester at Cal Poly. I'm looking forward to hearing continued success from you. Enjoy your time away from academia. You've earned some serious downtime fun. :-)