Wednesday, April 23, 2008

This might help someone

At the end of 4 quarters of university, my gpa was just above 2.0. My SATs were really good, so this was a disappointment. I just didn't know how to study. At the end of that quarter, I changed my major to something I was really interested in (that helped!), and equally importantly, began doing the following:

a) I quit cutting class. This is VERY important.

b) I started taking notes. When the prof emphasized something, I would WRITE IT DOWN. This forced me to pay attention and try to understand the flow of the lecture. Some people say that taking notes is an elaborate way of not paying attention. Baloney. It also gave me a WRITTEN RECORD of each lecture. This is also very important.

c) Before each test, I would go over my notes. I would go over them about 5 or 6 times. The first time was slow. It would take maybe 30 minutes. The second time it would take about half as long. The third time, half of that. By the sixth time, I would fly through several weeks' notes in a minute or two. This has the added benefit of being able to add repetitions in very brief odd moments before the test.

d) I would take the test, and be astonished to just walk through 95% of the material in an amazingly short time. I'm a fast test taker anyway, and this would cut the time down to almost embarrassingly short--sometimes I would sit around for several minutes just to make it look good. Seriously!

I graduated with a 3.4 gpa, despite the extremely slow start and the fact that I'm in serious competition for laziest person on the planet. 3.4 might not sound like much in these days of grade inflation, but in 1971 (yes, they had universities then) it was a respectable gpa.

I guarantee that just about any literate person can use the above method and get a B average. Reading the textbook is optional, but recommended if you want A's. Student life is a lark when you've got the system wired like this. It basically spoiled me for everything else I encountered afterward.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

cold spring, continued

Well--it snowed last night, and again this evening. 19th of April. The daffodils are out in their glory, defying the snow and gloom like spots of sunshine, though. Hooray for them!

Wow, Google is a powerful tool. This is not an ad. I was thinking about a phrase I read in a book about 25 years ago, and couldn't quite remember where I read it or who the author might be. So I googled it. I guessed it was from Francis Schaeffer, and the key words were "science" and "gamesmanship". Lo and behold, first line of the search returned the quote from one of his books, and when I clicked on the link, it took me to the page with the keywords in yellow highlight. Whew, this is almost scary. In rereading the passage, I realized that I now understand what Schaeffer was saying much more than when I first read it. It was actually around 30 years ago that I read the book, "The Church at the End of the 20th Century", and I find his writing much more comprehensible now than I did then. It makes me wonder what I had been thinking about up to that time, if anything, that I understood so little and so superficially what he was saying--I was in my late 20's at the time, and should have had the intellectual maturity to absorb much more. It occurs to me yet again what a pilgrimage I've been on for the last 30 years.

The quote was taken from Schaeffer's account of when he was addressing a gathering in the UK. A young man from the scientific world stood up, and said to him, "Sir, what you don't understand is how much the scientific enterprise is only the upper middle class doing science as a form of gamesmanship." Schaeffer's comment was, "I am sure he is right."

At the time, I had recently resigned from my job as a hydrogeologist with the state of Montana to pursue a completely different career path. The young man's statement made a particular impression on me at the time because it rang so true with my own experience. Schaeffer's point was that modern man has lost any expectation that he will discover truth, that truth, if it exists at all, is unfindable. This attitude exists even within the scientific community, and has reduced the search for truth in science to the search for statistical averages. A really good read, even for those who may disagree with Mr. Schaeffer's theology, or even with theology in general.

Friday, April 18, 2008

greetings from salmon falls wa

Kicking off my blogspot "salmon falls". It's a cold, dreary 18th of April here in Salmon Falls, Washington. Spring is unusually late this year. I've been looking at photos from around the Northwest and it appears we've had an unusually snowy winter here, which is good. The ski areas quit for lack of interest the past two weeks, not for lack of snow--

I think I'd like to quit this winter for lack of interest myself. If it would go away, that is.

You know that every day of the year has its counterpart, except the solstices--June 21 and December 21 (usually). The counterpart of April 18th is about August 25th. That is, the sun is at the same height and the day is the same length as Aug. 25th. It sure doesn't seem like it, though!

We've been trying to get some yard work done, but the weather has been hampering our efforts. Last week we left a 5-gallon bucket on the back porch. At the end of the week I was amazed to find about 8 inches of water in it, and realized that with its cylindrical shape, it was an excellent rain gauge. 8 inches in a week. A fairly normal week.