Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Took the general GRE today. Once again the ETS practice exams from previous years proved a good predictor of actual exam scores. I got a 1500 on the practice exam, I got a 1500 on the real exam. That's a decent score... a 1600 (perfect) would have been nice, just to have something really flashy on my transcript to distract admissions committee members from my GPA, but a 1500 is not bad... certainly higher than the median score of those admitted to ph.d programs.

I don't think it's worthwhile to take the exam again. If I had gotten below a 1500 I would have considered retaking, but considering the only place I can make a signifigant improvement is on the verbal section, I don't think the benefit would outweigh the cost. There are four types of questions on the verbal section of the GRE.

There's the antonyms...

a. passive
b. mantra
c. what you are if you can't answer this question
d. platonic
e. somnulent

...where you must choose the answer most opposite in meaning to the given word. Then there are the analogies...

a. topography : horticulture
b. litmus : perspicacious
c. you the examinee : this exam
d. permutation : urbane
e. vociferous : cognition

...where you have to identify the relationship most similar to the one given. Then there are the fill in the blank(s)...

DESPITE the _ _ _ _ _ _ need for more review before taking this exam, it is _ _ _ _ _ _ that you will receive a decent score.

a. insufferable, unlikely
b. lack of , impossible
c. obvious, still possible
d. inconceivable, I don't think that word means what you think it means
e. understated, improbable

... where you have to fit the word or words into the sentence given. Finally there are the reading comprehension questions...

1 Since maybe like the
middle ages there have
been many differing
opinions on hustle and
5 bustle. This cannot be
denied. It is my intention
to sit down and play video
games for several hours.
First, moving around
10 quickly, and with purpose
is a true sign of character.
Secondly, bustle
(e.g. hustle) yields more
product for the working
15 types. "Hustle and bustle
are like my right and left
arms," said Li'l Spicy in
his famous "Hustle and
bustle are like my right
20 and left arms" speech.
Websters defines bustle
as "an excited and often
noisy activity; a stir."
A stir indeed. Finally,
25 sometimes gross stuff
can be funny.
In conclusion, I,
"The Yellow Dart," think
that I have done a great
30 job illustrating the many
differing opinions about
hustle and bustle, may
they both rest in peace.

The authors reference to "The Yellow Dart" (line 28) suggests the author...

a. considers hustle and bustle to be intolerable vestiges of former injustice.
b. thinks that's one hot looking bird.
c. deserves five, maybe ten extra credit points, easy.
d. prefers hustle to bustle.
e. would rather be playing video games or doing the cheat's taxes than writing this essay.

...where you have to answer questions based on reading a short passage. Anyhow, I seldom get any of the second two types of question wrong. The first two types of question however are not as ammenable to reasoning. If you don't know the definition of words in the question or answers you may have a hard time selecting the best answer. The only real way to improve that score would be memorizing a bunch of low usage english words and their meanings. I'm really not certain that the time invested in that pursuit would be worth a couple notches gained on my score.

Interestingly though, I felt I could spend the time writing up these mock essay questions...

Oh well, now it's just a matter of choosing which schools to apply to. If you have a suggestion of a school or schools, please send it my way, along with you brief (500 words) well reasoned argument as to why I ought to consider attending that particular school. Your proposal reader (who is an actual GRE test taker who is planning on going to graduate school) will evaluate your proposal on:

  • Use of persuasive language to support and develop your argument.
  • Evidence from personal or academic experience properly used to bolster your argument.
  • A proper command of the rules of English usage and grammar.
  • Small unmarked bills attached to the backside of the proposal sheet.

You have thirty (30) minutes. If you finish early, raise your hand and the test administrator will escort you out of the testing area.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

What, am I living in Seattle? That I have to put up with slugs crawling up the side of my apartment?

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

I have to agree with this guy's thoughts about the Ameri-Euro-cetric tunnel vision demonstrated by the folks at NBC. The standard format for every event seems to be

1. Point out the American(s) participating in this particular event or heat, give heartwarming biographical anecdote about said American(s), touch on their previous record in the sport.

2. Point out one opponent in the event who has potential to beat the American(s) competing. Preferably the athelete will be from one of the following countries: Australia, Russia, Romania (if gymnastics event). If not, than the athelete from the nation with the highest GNP of those represented in the event.

3. (optional) Say out loud on the air the name of one or two other competitors in the event.

Now, admittedly some of this bias might be related to the fact that the aforementioned countries have more money to pour into their athletics programs and thus are more likely to produce the top contenders for any given event. But this is America... we love to root for the underdog... we should be making note of the competors from Nigeria and Trinidad...

Failing that, it would be nice if they would do one of their extended exposes on the North Korean olympians (complete with in depth undercover investigation of what conditions are like during training) or perhaps on why an Iranian judo expert dropped out of the games before his first round.

I'm starting to agree with Frank about leaving the olympics to losers
I've had the olympics t√ľned in off and on over the past week or so when I've been home in the evenings. I've usually been checking in a few times in the evening while making and eating dinner, that sort of thing. I'm honestly not real excited about any of the events that they show in prime time on network -- they neglect to cover any of the events that involve ranged or melee weapons -- but it is interesting to see just what the human body is capable of as far as speed and endurance is concerned.

Last night though I witnessed something rather shocking. I've always viewed gymnastics as the summer olympics version of figure skating ie. something to avoid watching at all costs, even if the only other shows on all involve Ron Popeil. However, I happened to see some of the men's highbar competition. Rather impressive coordination to be able to be traveling in a circle around a bar, let go, and then not go flying off into space. Anyhow, this Japanese guy and this American guy both go, and I think they both mis-stepped on their landing... in gymnastics taking an extra step is an offence akin to noisy, malodorous flatulence at a wedding... anyhow, this Russian fellow went next and did about five moves in a row where it looked like he was going to break his neck if he missed getting his hands back on the bar. Rahter impressive. I think he took a step on the landing too, and judges gave his a lower score than the first two guys. The crowd went nuts... I've never seen a crowd at that sort of event go crazy before... like throwing watermelons at the opera, it just doesn't seem like something people interested in gymnastics would do. But the crowd kept booing the judges until they finally agreed to up his score in an attempt to placate the crowd. They still gave him a lower score than the first two guys and the crowd continued to make noise... pretty funny to watch some foppish prancibald judges squirming under the glare of a murderous sounding greek mob.

Friday, August 20, 2004

On should not feel this normal after staying up all night. Oh well.. I guess I can't complain.

Last night I caught a couple of episodes of "Family Guy" on... well you know what station. Holy crap, I had forgotten how hilarious that show was. I hope they keep showing episodes. I mean even the Simpsons never made a reference to "Road to Morocco", or any other Crosby/Hope vehicle either for that matter. Reminded me of junior year, watching all the episodes that Roger had downloaded. I still remember sitting in his room watching one more episode when I should have been studying.

Actually a lot of things remind me of junior year right now. It's said that history always repeates itself, first as tragedy, then as farce. Well, I'm really not sure if the order on that is correct or not in this case. We'll see. I definitely feel like I have more options open to me at this point, which is somewhat comforting.

'Rents were in town this past weekend. Had a decent time with them. Had some nice food at a couple of places... visited the Shiloh battlefield in southwestern TN.

Wow, comprehensive update eh? After all that time away....
Guess I'm trying to shunt my creative energies into some different projects at the moment. We'll see if any of those ideas pan out...

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Alright! The pics from last weekend have been posted...
You can see what we did last weekend at The Gus Bus.
Lookin' good...

Also, saw the family briefly yesterday. They were on their way to Macon for my sister's triumphant return to Merer. It was ok, but they got in two hours earlier than I expected them... in hte end that was probably good though, as we were able to have a leisurely dinner together.
I'll have to go visit my sister sometime in her new house...

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Went to Murray for the weekend. Finally, after a delay of more than a year we got around to playing with the American Civil War miniatures that we had hoped to have ready before the end of my senior year. It's a pity that we didn't get to do this at kemper, cause it turned out really nicely. The visual spectacle that we had on the table was greater than any game that our group has done so far. Carl had constructed rail fences out of toothpicks, while I had crafted "worm" fences out of matchsticks. Nicely weathered fences combined with trees, and a generous amount of lichen created our section of the Chickamauga battlefield around the Viniard farm. The miniatures themselves looked great arrayed enmasse, either struggling through the lichen underbrush or deploying across the furrows of a cordoroy plowed field. All the while the miniature flags waved, while cotton ball smoke drifted across the field.

Carl's brother joined us on Saturday and did a great job for his first foray into miniatures. Part of his command was Wilder's brigade of mounted rifles. Historically they were Rosecran's (the Union commander's) firebrigade, and saved the Union army on a number of occaisions during the battle. He used them much more aggressively that I initially thought wise, but because of that aggressiveness they ended up playing much the same roll as they did historically, chewing up most of one Confederate division. I was duly impressed. Just like the war itself, the game pitted brother against brother, as Carl's as the rebels fought against his brother and myself as the yanks. In the end I was impressed that the scenario I had designed ended up being pretty well balanced from a gameplay perspective, and ended up in our case giving a result pretty close to the historical result. When you have a scenario that can create the historical result, but can also allow both sides to win... that's good design if I do say so myself.

I'll get around to posting the scenario design sometime in the next week so that others can test it out (although I'm not certain how much the Fire and Fury community and my blog readership community overlap)

I'm really in the mood for more historical ACW scenarios now... oh well, that will have to wait for an OU break I guess....