Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Stacking the Deck to Maintain GPA

A couple of Computer Science professors overhead a group of students talking about a 4.0 GPA; the two CS professors looked at each other as one commented, "Obviously not Computer Science students".

When I decided to return to school late in life to pursue a computer science degree I did my first semester back in school at a small branch of the big state university located in my current home town. I was under the miss impression that I would be able to get everything I needed there. I could have done one more semester here before going off to the big campus, but I would have used up a lot of my filler classes and would have not been left with much easy stuff to buffer the extra hard classes required for a BS in CS. Fifteen credit hours of nothing but tough classes is hard to digest. It is nice to have some soft and easy stuff sprinkled among the hard and demanding stuff.

Initially, I didn't know the fine arts, of which a student had to choose two out of three choices, were some of the easy stuff. I took my first fine arts at the little campus, but which one would it be?

There was Fine Arts Music, then there was Fine Arts Visual, and Fine Arts Theater. None of the openings for Fine Arts Visual matched my schedule so I had to choose between Music or Theater. Well, I had no clue what fine arts was all about and I have ZERO musical talent; my wife hogged it all and did a pretty nice job of it. So, I decided I had better try Theater.

My fine arts theater class was at the end of the day. I really enjoyed learning and entered the classroom with pleasant anticipation. The room was full. Finally a haggard looking teacher entered. She had evidently had a long day. She started talking handling her haggard condition well. A couple of things she said set off warning bells in my head. Something then inspired me to look around and survey the room. It was full of women. I was the only guy in the whole class.

The teacher was not a normal fine arts theater teacher; she was substituting because the school didn't have one for the moment. The teacher started talking about the class doing plays, then one of the girls spoke up and said, "What are we going to do about guy parts? We don't have enough guys to go around."

The teacher then said, "Oh, we'll just have to be transgendered. I can't say transsexual, because that would be wrong, but it's alright for us to be transgendered."

I found myself thinking, "I'm not interested in being transgendered. I'm glad I'm a guy. It should be easy to fill a guy part."

Then the teacher said, "Lets do a reading" as she arbitrarily opened the text book to a play and told us where to turn to. The reading started on the far end of the room from me. It was a guy / girl play. It didn't take long for me to realize that I might not have any say or choice as to any part I might be assigned. I started deliberating what I could do. I felt trapped.

The reading continued from student to student as it approached me. The teacher was happily smiling as each student in succession read their line. Finally my turn arrived. I looked directly at the teacher and said, "Teacher I have serious inhibitions about doing a transgendered part! Do you think there is any hope for me?"

When what I had said sunk into her tired brain and she realized it wasn't the line I was supposed to read and comprehension of what I said set in, her happy little smile disappeared. She looked up from her book directly back at me as darts flew from her eyeballs toward me. Then she pointed at me and commanded, "NO! Now read!"

I said, "What? You don't like my ad libbed line?"

She said, "We'll come back to you later", and motioned with her hand to skip over me. The reading continued. As it progressed toward the end of the classroom, the bell rang.


I exited the classroom and went directly to the administration office where I dropped fine arts theater and registered for fine arts music. Fine arts music was a great class. I completed it with an "A". It wasn't noting like I thought it would be.

The following day after dropping theater, I stopped by the fine arts theater teacher's office and told her I dropped her class because I thought it would be better for both her and me. She pleasantly said, "Ah, we could have made it worked." I said, "Well we don't have to bother trying now." It might have been a good class. I didn't hang around to find out. I cut my losses while I could, and bailed on what I discerned could turn into a bad situation. Discretion is often called the better part of valor.

At the "BIG CAMPUS" I now had the choice between fine arts visual or fine arts theater. Given my previous theater experience, I opted for the visual. Nice teacher. Brand new though, yet easy on the eyes and pleasant. The visual stuff seemed very interesting. My gosh! The amount of work and study it required though. I think a lot of brand new teachers have higher expectations than reality allows especially for a class that should have been an easy ride. I worked and studied hard for her first test. I aced it! Woohoo!

The teacher wasn't too happy though with the overall class performance. Evidently the lion's share of the class didn't do too well on her first test. Her boy friend was a chemistry professor that told her, her students just didn't put out the required effort. Wow! I wish I had the luxury to put out the necessary effort all semester her class would have taken to continue to ace her tests. I had a Calculus III class I was also contending with, so I went and dropped her class like I had dropped the theater class at the small campus. I didn't bother stopping by and visiting her office after my drop though like I did the other teacher. I didn't have anything I could tell her that would be useful. I'd imagine she'd figure it out eventually like most do. I kinda felt sorry for her, but that wasn't going to help me stack the deck in favor of my GPA.

After dropping fine arts visual I eventually ended up taking theater at the big campus. Imagine that! This teacher didn't make us do any plays. We just studied theater and learned what thespians are. It was a pretty easy "A". I also did an extracurricular project for this teacher on my own initiative unrequested. I wrote a play titled: "Prettier at Closing Time, A tale from the dark side". I gave it too him with a smile saying I had a blueprint for him. After he read it I found he didn't much care for it. He told me it was a morality play and that they weren't too popular. He also asked me how could you get someone to play the part of LouElla. I just agreed with him and said, "Yeah" with a countenance of disappointment. Every time I watch something now that has a part that could be difficult to cast like "Peach" in Lonesome Dove, I ask my wife, "Now how can you get someone to play that part?"

The inspiration for Prettier at Closing Time came from a dream I had once where I feel the Lord was showing me what I had waiting for me in the hereafter if I didn't change my former debauched and hedonistic ways. The play wasn't the first time I had capitalized on the dream for a classroom project. During my first ever semester in college at LSU in the fall of 1981 we were given an assignment to watch any television show of our choice and put it on paper. There wasn't anything on television I was interested in. Then the idea came to me to write up my dream as if it was an episode of the Darkroom TV series which aired at the time. My english teacher gave me an "A" which you can find at the lower right of the second page.

  1. The Other Side by the Dark Room pg1

  2. The Other Side by the Dark Room pg2

Now that typewriter written paper is an old artifact.

Here is the link to the song in the play: Old Fashion Man

OldFashionMan Album Cover

I came close to changing my major a time or two, but I managed to make it through with a respectable GPA though not a 4.0 because of it being Computer Science you know...

I'd rather be coding (programming), but thanks to my foggy headed days I can handle writing a whole lot easier. Reading Tall Tales is probably a lot easier for others that visit here than reading software code, but then maybe I could have created a farmville, mafiawars, or youtube application that would have scored a billion users like ProximityCast (NOT). Then I might have managed to become a much better host and gotten to travel and see more of you along the way.

Regardless, I've had interesting hands dealt to me to play along the way. When all is finally said and done, having a journey full of tall tales is probably more valuable and entertaining than anything else I could have done. As long as I manage to pass through "the" narrow gate and endure to the end I'll have to consider myself blessed. Thank You Jesus!

It ain't over yet though... Are you ready!



Betty said...

I like this story.

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