Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Week Seventeen: Paradigm Shift

Sometimes, you experience a paradigm shift. For many people my age, they experience this on volunteer trip to poor people of world, whether they go to the Appalachian Mountains or to Africa or Asia. For me, I've experienced it here in Germany.

I've written before about how different Germany and America are. Sometimes it really hits you though, and it causes you to lash out as you fight against what you see. Sometimes it doesn't hit you at all, and you continue through life, not realizing how lucky you are to be an American. And not seeing what is slowly happening through a society that encourages laziness and encourages a lack of rebellion.

I've lived in a couple of different parts of America, and each time experienced a sense of culture shock. America is a vastly different country that has fifty very different parts and each of those fifty parts vary wildly in their regions.

But one thing that all fifty parts of the US have, that all fifty states hold in common is a basic, undeniable, right to be free. The right to not have every aspect of your life be regulated, to be able to change your career at the drop of a hat, to go to school for one major and come out with a totally different one.

In Germany, you choose your career when you enter into high school. When you are fourteen, you already make the choice as to what you want to be when you leave your parents home and go out into the world.

Are you what you thought you would be at fourteen? At fourteen, I wanted to be an English Major and be a writer. I still want to be a writer, but I'm majoring in engineering now. Well...both start with an 'e' but that's about the only similarity.

It frightens me that one day America may be so tightly regulated. Businesses claim that new college graduates do know what they need to know for work. Will laws be passed to 'change' this, to 'improve' educations by people who know nothing about the subject? I hope not, but isn't that how it always is? Between the many facets of their jobs, Congressmen and women don't have time to study the many issues they must legislate efficiently. They leave this to their workers, who may not go into it with a full understanding, and may only look at what the general public has to say.

Sadly, the general public has little to say, and only a few lone voice, the outliers, the extremists are heard. Like in a choir where one voice is louder than the rest, these voices demand to be heard, at the sacrifice of so many other voices.

When will the rest of the choir speak up, unified, to make their song be heard?

How can they be heard over these loud voices? And for many, would it be worth it in the end?

I can answer the last one, at least. Yes.

A resounding, earth shattering, mind blowing Yes!

Because even if nothing changes immediately, You Have Been Heard. And you may be surprised who else wants to be heard too.

One Final Byte: Germany is a beautiful country when you visit.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Week Sixteen: Math Out My Ears!

Classes and Quarters

Geez, what a week. Class started, but I had two classes dropped, then had one of my other options dropped, leading to three classes dropped total! Between that and math, I'm going nuts, I swear. Still, it's been a lot of fun!

I've ended up having math start this past Monday, and my other classes are all going to start in September, and be online. It's been an adventure! Still, I had a lot of fun.

I have a desk now, just a basic little metal thing. The backing is super glued on, to my glee. The screws they sent were too fat for the metal holes. I also have a dismantled wardrobe in my room, taking up space, and it's probably a good thing I have a bunk bed, as other wise, I wouldn't have a bed to sleep on. All my clothes are on the bed right now. In other words, I can't find anything! It's driving me nutso.

Next up on my list of things needed: nails, an office chair, and two textbooks.

I know, who gets a desk without a chair? Well, the person who only had room for a desk, not a desk and a chair in the car! That's who. And the desk barely fit, despite being one of the furniture in a box sets that you have to put together.

So. First math class was an absolute blast. All of two people had their text books, and one person had the wrong edition. The teacher said that either edition was alright to have. No, I didn't have mine, oops. I felt horribly ill-prepared, not being armed with a book, and not, you know, having had formal math class in years and years. It was a breeze! I remembered everything, but I do have some tables to memorize that I didn't have to memorize in high school. Squares to twelve, and cubes to five. That won't be hard though, as I have them half memorized already.

I'm catching myself up to speed using Khan Academy of course. It's helping a lot, as we're going over all of three chapters, and the third is going to be trig, which I never took. Gulp.

A bit of advice: Take Trig and Calc in high school, even if you hate math, and don't think you'll need them. You never know, and the Boy Scouts have it right: Always Be Prepared.

I have math year round of course, but I'm hoping I won't crash and fail too hard.

And hey! No more midnight madness class for me! Huzzah!

One Final Byte: When you memorize something, memorize it for good.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Week Fifteen: Midnight Classes!

Week Fifteen: Midnight classes!

What a week! Okay, so not really. It's been dullsville here, because,you know, college and all. Those people who swear college will be parties constantly? Yeah right. Only ones with dorms, trust me. All the other colleges are big on, oh, I don't know, learning.

There's been some issues with one of my classes. It didn't get enough students so was dropped. SoI had to sign up for a different one, which isn't working. It's also broadcast all the way from Albuquerque, where it exists as an afternoon class.

This means it starts at midnight and ends at four am for me. In my family, and in human biology, keeping a schedule is very important. In other words, I have to stay up until four am...every night.

This is...not fun. Do you know what happens after 10 pm where I am? Nothing. There aren't even 24 hour gas stations to walk to.

Ah well, it's only until October 7, then I can resume a better schedule. This one is killer. But I will survive! I always do. It's my specialty.

Besides, it's not exactly a hardship, sleeping in until noon. Though I'm still not sure if a midnight class counts as a morning class or evening class.

They've severely slashed my hours at work to account for my college schedule. Sadly, they seem to think I only have weekends free. I have made repeated attempts to disillusion them, to no effect.

One of these days....

One Final Byte: I look like my dog: small and blonde.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Week Fourteen: Medieval Fairs and Wild life Parks

Week Fourteen: Medieval Fair

I know, we went to another one? But each one if different and in different places. This one was totally a tent city and held next to a wild life park. I wouldn't call it a wildlife park so much as a semi-zoo though.

It was fun, I will admit. Both the fair and the wildlife park! The music was entertaining, and they sang everything from distinctly modern drinking songs in English, to medieval music, and all of it was played on really funny looking instruments that I assume were popular way back when.

We had fun looking around, and I decided that since half the people who go are dressed up, I may make a costume for it myself. I say make it because the el cheapo ones cost 80 Euro, and the really nice ones cost close to 300 Euro, or more.

Dudes. No. Not gonna pay that! As awesome as those outfits are, I really don't want to pay that, because I added at least 30% more to get the amount in US dollars. That means physical pain. So no thanks, I'll make my own, or score something awesome at a thrift shop or something.

So, painful prices aside, I can tell you the weather was wet that day, and only one of the four that went, myself included, had a jacket, because we had judged it warm, and it had been sunny...thirty minutes away.

Er, guys. Never travel without a rain jacket in Germany. The fair was fun. They're more like medieval shopping marts than anything else. Occasional music and entertainment, but mostly shopping.

The wildlife preserve was fun also. There were peacocks! They did not display their tail feathers, sadly, though they did walk close to the littlest and I. It was a lot of fun. We fed the goats and the pigs, some ostriches, and miniature ponies, along with some donkeys. Watching the littlest and the fourteen year old hand feed them was great fun. There was some fear they would bit!

Of course, after this, we say the 'don't hand feed the animals' signs.

We says a whole host of birds, mostly owls, and other predator type birds. It was cute, as they had some baby owls and falcons. There were llamas and deer, and reindeer of all things. The reindeer chased some sheep by the way. It was really funny.

Then, as we entered another gated area, with pigs in it, it started to rain. By this time, we had picked up a German teenager, and his younger two siblings, all in period dress. He was, he told us, a Celtic warrior. He talked. A lot.

No seriously.



I think he was excited to meet us? Apparently, it's a yearly trip for his family, and they live in one of the tents. I'm not certain. I was overwhelmed by his sheer exuberance, so my Dad did much of the talking back. I don't think he even noticed.

So, it's sprinkling right, not a big deal, and we're feeding piglets. Then it begins to really storm.

You read about us not having jackets, right? Yeah, we were lucky there was a shelter. We were gong to wait out the storm, but it lasted quite awhile, and besides, I don't think I could have withstood much longer under the shelter with the German teenager.

So we were soaked as we made our way to shelter and then to the car. We missed out on the foxes, apparently. That's just fine. They were foxes. They look like foxes, and would have been asleep anyway, much like the ferrets, but unlike the gerbils.

All in all, this week has been pretty fun! One of my classes was canceled due to lack of people, but that's okay, I'll sign up for a new one. No big deal. It's college, after all. This stuff happens.

No clue yet. I'll try and go in this week to get ti fixed, but am not certain what day. I did get my eyes looked at. I am no farsighted in both. One day, I will get eye doctors to agree. Until then, I will just accept the prescription they give.

One Final Byte: Base is only really big if you think so.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Week Twelve and Thirteen: Ramblings.

Okay, so whoops. I kind of sort of forgot to post last week! Uh oh! Not much happened anyway, so you'll have to forgive me. I think I had planned a post about, uh, bugs? Yeah seriously, see, not much. So this, this will be a two week post, and you get two final bytes at the bottom to make up for the one I missed.

I'll try and make this one longer too, though no promises! Okay, so. Germany. Land of Wine. Or where I am, it's the Land of Wine, don't ask me about the rest, cause the first answer to Bier, which pretty much makes Germany the land of alcohol, period, full stop. Mind you, I have yet to taste a German beer. There's been no occasion and I am just not tempted to at all.

Having thoroughly lost my train of thought, I shall now attempt to find it. I'm pretty certain it's a hover train dudes, cause this thing wanders off on it's own.

So. As I was saying, I'm in Germany, and even the weeks in which nothing happens are full of fascinating things, like bees the size of my big toe that look like they might be bees, and scare the crude out of me because what if it is African and thinking Homicidal thoughts.

The most fascinating thing I learned this week was about things you are not allowed to say in Germany, and most of them involve World War Two. This includes that man with the funny's mustache and the angry face's name, and his political affiliations or his action upon millions of Jews.

That smacks of stupidity to me. In order to learn from ones mistakes, one has to remember them. Without remembering, it can only happen again and again. In American history we are taught even the most vile things we did in the past, so we know never ever to do that again. We learn about those who died, in sometimes gory detail and are then asked to write about it in an essay or take a test in it so we are sure to remember.

While I am sure there are somethings that aren't mentioned, there are atrocities enough we will admit to having engineered.

That's one of my problems here I believe. That and the lack of a beach. Oh beach, how I miss smelling your salty air and giving up as you steadily ate at my bike. And your sand. And your water. Oh let's face it, Orange Beach freaking rocks!

The other possible topic for last week was the weather, which has been mostly wet and rainy, alogn with cold. That sounds like how London is described to me. Wet. Apparently it's a good ten degree Fahrenheit cooler recently than usual. This is more, I am told, like September last year. Well, September is next month which means- Oh God Winter is Coming.

Those of you from Colorado may or may not remember by reaction to the cold. It made me sluggish at best, grumpy at worst, and please don't let it touch me. Snow is very pretty, and fun to play with, but when it lasts longer than a week then there is some mischief at work. So that's what I'm dreading. And yes, I am already dreading it and summer isn't over yet.

Mostly because I'm not certain most of the time if it is summer. Late spring maybe. The past two days have been warm enough to make me happy, but still. Germany isn't known for it's sun.

Right, so, this blog is technically about my experience in college while in Germany, I just started it over summer break. Classes, by the way, start the seventh of August. I am excited, confused, and slightly miffed. You see, this is a college whose classes are set around working hours, in order to get the most people in it. (A class size of ten is apparently really very big.) I have been working post-working hours...that is, to say, when classes are!

My classes are mostly blended, except for my math class, which is very much not blended at all. This means they are online and at the location. The location won't be too hard to figure out, but the dates! the dates are written military style, so date than month, and sometimes the days of the week change. I have one classes where we meet up six times in person, but everything else is online!

I'm excited but nervous as all get out. There's talk of work on moving me to day shift, and one of day shift to night shift so I can keep working. This would actually work out really well, as they could work me the same hours as my dad, and all of a sudden work and travel gets easier. But the man who normally does that sort of thing is on his honeymoon, so what's going to happen is rather up in the air.

Still, it's fun. I'm taking ASCI 300, HUMN 400, and MATH 111. My math courses, or at least the basic ones, will be done in a year, as it just rolls from one semester to the next. After that, I have to start the three calculus courses. And yes, I did say three. I'll take up to five.

Well, I do want to be an Aerospace Engineer. That means I need a lot of math!

So what does all that mean? It means I'm taking Satellite and Spacecraft Systems, Science and Aviation/Aerospace Technology in Society (Which trumps Values and Ethics!) and College Mathematics for Aviation 1.

Oh Marie, what are all those classes about! You ask, not knowing the can of worms you just opened.

This is what my very silly little course catalog had to say about it.

“Math 111
College Mathematics
for Aviation I (3,0)
3 Credits
This is a pre-calculus course designed
for the student of aviation. Topics
reviewed will include fundamentals of
algebra; linear equations and
inequalities; quadratic equations;
variation; polynomial, rational,
exponential, logarithmic, and
trigonometric functions; radian
measure; right triangle solutions;
vectors; and the laws of sines and
cosines. Prerequisite: ERAU
assessment test, or MATH 106”

Math. I haven't had math in five years. And did I mention I don't remember a thing about, oh, logs, sine and cosines, and what on earth is a radian measure and how do I find a vector again. Oh Lord, be with me as I go through this course, and thank you very much for providing me with the link to Khan Academy, because I am going to need the help. And yet I want to be an engineer. How nuts am I?

Well, the path to happiness is not one of sunshine and daisies, but of a pebble strewn road, wild with new delights.

So that's my Math course. Let's go for the humanities one. Everyone needs a humanities, and this has got to trump values and ethics, which I have my bible for, thank you very much.

“HUMN 400
Science and Aviation/Aerospace
technology in Society (3,0)
3 Credits
Throughout history, science and
technology have consistently
transformed society. From medicine
to communications to the arts and all
points between, our culture is very
much a society of science and
technology. A systemic awareness of
how science and technology both
impact and are influenced by society
is critical to function as a responsible
professional in an increasingly
complex world. This course will
examine the interrelated roles that
science and technology play in
society, with a particular emphasis on
aviation and aerospace.”

So they don't know what it's about either, but found an English major from somewhere else to put it up. Nice. I can't tell is this is the history of the industry, or what. I think it's about how it changed the world. I shall let you all know.

Up for my final course this quarter? Yeah, me too.

“ASci 300
Satellite and Spacecraft
Systems (3,0)
3 Credits
Orbital satellites and spacecraft
are discussed according to
their application, design, and
environment. The power systems,
shielding and communication systems
are reviewed along with their
missions, space environment, and
limitations. The course will be taught
at the introductory physics level.”

Woo Introductory Physics! Also, yay! This sounds like a lot of fun. I was totally talked out fo a class in which I would have gotten to work on airplane engines by the way. It was a great temptation. A great, great temptation, especially when I found out, and was rather compelled strongly, to do payment plans. Payment plans! This is an awesome college. I love it already, and totally gave my adviser a huge when she told me that. She deserved it for bringing it up, cause let me tell you, Burger King is fun, but man, fast food will kill you.

Speaking of, work. Work is hilarious and you should all know this. I swore never to work in fast food again, after my last job in fast food, but this is sheer awesome. The coworkers make the job, they really do. And my coworkers make me laugh and make it easy to be happy, even when someone is complaining they are paying way too much for food.

Dudes, it's cheaper than Red Robin, and faster too, and that's what you wanted? We have the only drive thru on base. Do not complain.

Oh yes, I almost forgot to mention that it looks like the littlest is going to be hanging out here long than we thought! So far she has no departure date, but I can't help but be excited that she's here for longer. She's a pretty awesome littlest, and has mean aim with a stuffed animal. Never did a war of fluffy items end with so many headshots.

Oh, and I did forget, but that's okay, cause I'm adding it now. New laptop! It was totally supposed to be a new desktop, but the laptop had everything exactly the same and was a hundred dollar cheaper. Compared to my itty bitty netbook, this screen is so big, I feel like I'm five. I like it!

Week I Missed Final Byte: I see cobblestone sidewalks in every town here.
This Week's Final Byte: The bees here are kind of scary indoors.