Monday, December 28, 2009

Sweet Blood

I feel like Bella in Twilight. Remember how the smell of her blood was irresistible to Edward? Well, apparently the bugs on Koh Lanta feel the same way about mine. I am covered with little red bumps that itch- on my toes, knuckles of my fingers, behind my knees, and about 30 individual bites on my lower left leg alone. Yes, I really counted them.

The funny thing is that when I first started noticing these bites, I asked the rest of the family whether they had noticed a similar appetite among the little critters. The universal response was, "Bugs? Well, I think I might have a bite or two..." with an unconcerned shrug.

I have come to the inevitable solution that my blood is tastier than theirs. Ha! I win! Somewhat of a hollow victory, but I'll take what I can get. Fingers crossed, hoping there's no vampires about. Unless they're as cute as Robert Pattinson.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Exams are my life

Exam 1: Saturday Dec. 12, 8 am

I walk into my Religious Studies exam two minutes before it's supposed to start, still yawning, as I got out of bed about 45 minutes previous. I turn to my friend, Lucas, and ask, "So, is this your first one?" to which he replies, "Nope. I already wrote two. In two hours, I'm free for the semester." I am instantly overcome with a jealous rage. I knew I should have become an Ancient History major and rarely write exams! Then again, I'd have to write term papers. Shudder. I take one of the chocolate chip cookies that our instructor has so kindly provided to take away some of the injustice of the early hour and begin work on my exam. Luckily, my choice of questions is based heavily on the two readings that I had time for the day before and one of the essay-style choices is related to my term paper. Whew. Crisis number one averted as I walk out of the exam 30 minutes ahead of schedule. However, now it's straight to Dad's office to spend all day Saturday studying for Exams (aka Crises) number two and three.

Exam 2: Monday Dec. 14, 5:45 am

I roll out of bed in a panic– I didn't miss my alarm and my exam, did I? A glance at the clock tells me I'm exactly on schedule and I'm off to the University by 6:45 to do some last-minute cramming. By 7:50 am, I'm feeling pretty confident about the Nth-derivative test, total partial differentials, and the Maclaurin series. Unfortunately, my professor has decided (in light of the high average on the second midterm that we all worked our butts off for) to make the final a hard one. When there are only 10 minutes left in the exam, professor walks over to me and asks me how far along I am. Honestly, I've done about half the exam and there's an entire third of it that is indecipherable to my limited mental capacities and I tell him so. This statement prompts a kind gesture on his part to extend the exam time one half-hour. "Blast!" I think to myself. "I needed that thirty minutes to review my Marketing before my exam at noon!" In the end, I hand in an exam which has 6/11 questions completed to my exacting standards, with 3/11 showing some attempts before a hastily scribbled "Not enough time to finish this question" and the remaining 2 questions completed, but with what I'm pretty sure are incorrect answers. It's all okay, though, because I talked to my friend in the class who is a math major and even he had no idea what was going on. Ride the curve, baby!

Exam 3: Monday Dec. 14, 12 pm

I rush out of my morning exam with 1.5 hours until my next one. The back story of my Marketing class is this: I spent the last week of classes working feverishly on my group term project and missed the last two chapters of material because of sickness, term papers in other classes, etc. so I wanted to do lots of studying so that I actually know the material. Inevitably, I end up even more worried about my 8 am Mathematical Econ exam, so I spend my entire Saturday studying that instead. Which leaves me with the (supposed) two hours between exams to learn chapters 12 and 13 from my marketing textbook and review another 5 chapters. I can feel the fun. Fast-forward back to Monday at 10:30 when I rush out of my extended Math final. Forget the textbook, I've only got time for the slides on Blackboard. For the next hour and a half, I create snazzy acronyms and finger games to remember the zillions of theories and steps of marketing process that we have to regurgitate. One of my favourites: to remember the 5 stages of the product life cycle, all I have to remember is that I "DIG MDs" (aka I love doctors...?) and that this stands for Development, Introduction, Growth, Maturity, and Decline. Then I just have to remember what IMC, PMR, SMR, and MRA stand for and I'll do fine. Why does it seem like every class I take from Haskayne involves memorizing an unhealthy number of TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms)?

Exam 4: Tuesday Dec. 15, 3:30 pm

Lucky for me, I have a study group for this one. Big Slacker, Awesome Football Guy, Smart Mouth, Has Read and Memorized the Whole Textbook, Skinny Kid With Hemp Necklaces and I all meet in an empty classroom to draw pretty charts of Cournot and Bertrand Best Response Functions, talk about the predatory behaviour of American Airlines in the Dallas Fort Worth hub, solve Stackelberg equilibria, and bemoan the current job market that means that all of us Economics majors will be working in fast food. Smart Mouth and Has Read and Memorized the Whole Textbook, as the lucky ones among us who are graduating in a week, tell us all how inebriated they're going to get this weekend in celebration, and then we work out some critical discount factors to maintain collusion. Eventually, our professor walks into the room, writes "It's just an exam..." on the board, and goes to the back of the room to sort out our examination booklets. Luckily the test is all covering material that I know well and I walk out 30 minutes early, feeling confident.

Exam 5: Thursday Dec. 17, 3:30 pm

This one starts on Tuesday, as I walk through the cafeteria during a break from my entertaining study group. I spy Dr. Game Theory, one of my favourite professors, enjoying his lunch. "Hi, Professor!" I say as I go by. He looks up, asks me how I'm doing and how my studying for his exam is coming along. Chagrined, I admit that I've been pretty swamped with other exams and haven't cracked open my Game Theory notes or textbook yet. "You'd better get started." he replies. "It's going to be a hard exam." Thanks, Dr. Game Theory.
Fast-forward to the day of the exam. It's 1:30 pm and I've been studying for a few hours. I decide to take a little break and in doing so, double-check the location of my exam. Good, it's in SA 106, just like I thought. As I glance away, something catches me eye- the time of the exam. Does that really say 12:00?!? Blast. REALLY?!? After a few moments of stunned disbelief, I realize the implications. I'm screwed. (I ask for the forgiveness of all those whom my language may offend. I'm just trying to give an accurate picture of the words going through my mind.) I quickly make calculations on my head of various natures. I currently have an A in the class... what will happen to me if I can't fix this? If they started at 12, how much time is left in the exam? How long will it take me to book it to SA 106? How much of a mark can I squeeze out of 15 minutes of writing time? And the overlying question... how much does Dr. Game Theory care about one student in his class?
I decide to wait outside the door of the classroom until most of the other students have left, pointedly ingoring anything and everything they're saying about the exam. As I walk to the front of the classroom in which the exam was written, Dr. Game Theory looks up and says, "Louise!" (yes, I go by my legal name at school) "Where were you ? Is everything okay?" Hmm... things are looking better already. I explain my predicament- the somewhat embarrasing fact that I got the exam times mixed up. He looks around at the one or two other students in the room and explains the procedure for deferring an exam and promises his full support in my dealings with the registrar on the matter. As I leave, the last student from the room, he calls, "Wait, Louise..." I turn around and he continues. "Hmmm... I really don't want to have to write another exam. What are you doing right now?"
After confirming the TA's availability and clearing all the papers off his desk, Dr. Game Theory installs me in his office with an exam and two pencils, accepting my profuse thanks. He instructs his TA to look in on me every half hour or so, as "She's not a really a student that I worry about cheating." He wishes me a Merry Christmas and says as he walks away, "We don't have to tell the registrar about this." with a wink, firnly cementing his already somewhat secure status as my favourite professor ever.
And now I'm finished exams, at least for another semester. Let's hope my next set of tests follows a bit more of an orthodox pattern!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


I just had my first relaxing day in a month or more. Yesterday was my last day of classes and the day when I handed in my last two assignments for the semester... now all I have left is 5 exams! Joy! My favourite class of the semester has been my Religious Studies class, "Councils, Canonc, and Creed– the Christian Church 200-800 AD". Even as I registered for it, I affectionately dubbed it "Apostasy 101". It has not been a disappointment.

I wrote my paper on the evolution of the four-gospel canon and had such fun reading papers and books on canonical and apocryphal gospels, Marcion, Tatian and the Diatessaron, Irenaeus, and Athanasius' Thirty-ninth Festal Letter. Did you know that there were three main categories of apocryphal writings and that the third, Supplementary Gospels, is made up of mostly Infancy Gospels? Starting in about the 4th and 5th centuries, people were fascinated with the childhood of Christ and made up the most fantastical narratives about it. Did you know that the first major attempt at creating an official canon was by Marcion, who denied the concept of the Hebrew God and therefore cut out huge portions of the Gospel of Luke and denied the validity of all the other gospels?

I know, fascinating stuff.

While I was on my mission and was only allowed to read certain books, I became quite interested in the early church after reading James E. Talmage's Jesus the Christ. When I found out that the university was offering a course on early Christian history, I had to take it. Overall, it's been one of the best and most interesting classes I've ever taken.