Writing Quote

“A book is made from a tree. It is an assemblage of flat, flexible parts (still called ‘leaves’) imprinted with dark pigmented squiggles. One glance at it and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, the author is speaking, clearly and silently, inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time – proof that humans can work magic.” –Carl Sagan

Nanowrimo 2015 Update

Since this is (primarily) a writing blog, it seems logical to announce that I have an official Co-ML for the Boone region for this upcoming Nanowrimo in November. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Nanowrimo, it’s a writing contest and an acronym. The acronym is National Novel Writing Month and comes from the first two letters in the first two words, the first three in the third word, and the first two in the last word. The challenge is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. The prize is the joy of accomplishing what seems impossible.

I’m pretty psyched to have a Co-ML this year because I am fairly busy with school. We’ve already picked a theme (and no, I’m not sharing! It’s supposed to be a surprise). We’ve also already figured out locations, so most of our work is done. Except for the writing itself, of course.

Last year, I tried to do some in-person workshops to help people prepare for Nano, but I didn’t have many people show up. Time may have been an issue, but I think location was the real problem. I haven’t talked to Su about whether she wants to do any workshops this year or not, but it’s a possibility. If we decide against doing in-person workshops, I may design some internet-based workshops to help people out. It’s pretty easy to use a Nano-flavored workshop and adopt it as a general writing workshop, so that’s helpful.

Another Nano note- I design calendars. I actually have a different blog dedicated to the calendars I’ve designed for Nanowrimo http://nanocalendars.wordpress.com and I take requests. I love designing calendars, and they don’t have to be Nano-themed, if anyone is interested in one.

If you are interested in a Nanowrimo calendar, I need the following information: The word count you’re aiming for (standard 50k or higher), what resolution or paper size (depending on if you want it for a desktop background or printed), a general thematic idea, and as much detail as you want to provide to make it easier to create. I also need to know if you’d prefer a perpetual calendar (one that can be reused each Nanowrimo) or one specifically for Nanowrimo 2015.

If you are interested in a calendar that is not Nanowrimo themed, I need to know what month you want it for and a general thematic idea, along with a general thematic idea and all the detail you wish to provide. I also need to know what resolution or paper size and whether you want a calendar that you can use just for one month in one year (like just September 2015, for example) or a semi-perpetual month calendar that has the dates of the month (1 – 30 for September) but no days.

I am also considering branching out into designing covers this year for anyone who might be interested in that when the time comes. If you are interested in any of these or have a request for me, you can either leave me a message here or you can email me at kyaza18@gmail.com with the subject line: Calendar.

Go Big or Go Home (Music Video)

While it’s pretty obvious this song is about getting plastered, I like to think of it as more of an analogy for life in general. Kind of a “pursue your dreams, don’t wait ’til tomorrow,’ sorta thing. Granted, seeing this song in that view does require ignoring the lines that are very obviously about getting wasted, but hey – we (and by we, I mean humanity at large) are great at rationalizing. Plus, it’s a catchy song. What’s not to love?

Musings on Classes

I mentioned in a recent post that I have the following five classes this semester: Physics I with lab, Statistical Methods I, Calculus I, International Relations, and Psychology of Personality.

Most people look at that class schedule and cringe at the heavy math involved. When I went into the math classes (Physics included), I’ll admit that I was expecting to have a fairly hefty course load. I can already tell, however, that the only class that is going to be homework heavy is the Calculus class. My Physics professor gave the class a hand-out with the homework assignments for the semester, and it’s a fairly light load. Seems like my Physics class is going to be much more hands-on than homework-focused, and I’m okay with that.

Out of all the classes I have, I think the hardest one is going to be Psychology of Personality. The instructor said he only gives three exams, and those exams are designed to be difficult. He also assigns two projects, but he said that those are so open to interpretation that it’s pretty much impossible to lose points. Those two projects are worth 30% of the grade while the exams are worth 70%. When someone laughed, thinking he was joking about how difficult the exams were, he said only three students in his last class performed well.

Now, with my schedule, maybe I should be freaking out, but I’m actually excited. I’m sure it’s a product of spending most of the summer doing nothing, and I may regret my enthusiasm later. However, right at this moment, I am happy with the decisions I’ve made about the classes I chose to take this semester.

School Concerns

Quick Announcement: I will be the Municipal Liaison for Boone, NC again this November for Nanowrimo, and Su is Co-MLing with me. We have some pretty fantastic things planned, which I will discuss when it gets closer to that time of year.

Note: The following information pertains to my real life, so if that doesn’t interest you, I won’t be offended. 

I mentioned in a previous post that I’ve decided to pursue a double major in math and physics. While I’m confident in pursuing math, I’m hesitant about physics because I’ve never actually taken a physics class. I have, however, read books on quantum mechanics, which is a subject that I find fascinating. I’m hoping that fascination translates into an ability to do physics rather than just an interest in it.

I’m also worried that my decision to pursue a double major may result in an extra 1-2 semesters, simply because the list of courses I need for each major are pretty lengthy. Due to that concern, I decided to take 18 credit hours this fall, rather than the 15 I had originally. On top of that, I am working part-time and I’m the president of my school’s Global Students Club.

I’m taking the following classes: Calculus 1, Physics 1, Statistical Methods, International Relations, and Psychology of Personality. I’ve had people tell me I’m overloading myself, since I’m taking what amounts to, essentially, three math classes (counting physics in that). I’m not really that worried.

And there are a few reasons I’m not worried. First of all, I have the same teacher for Calculus and Stats, and I took Precalc 1 with her, so I know that her teaching style works for me. I’ve also talked to her, and she has told me I have nothing to worry about. I still get really anxious about math because in high school, I struggled in math. Maybe because I didn’t really appreciate math back then – I don’t really know. But there’s a remnant of anxiety about math for me, and I worry that I’m not going to be able to handle the classes, despite having no problems with Precalc 1 and 2.

I’m not that worried about stats, as I took it once before for my first associate’s degree in business administration. Since I obtained that degree in 2008, however, I decided to take another stats class just to refresh my memory.

The Psychology course is taught by the best psych teacher at my school – a teacher I’ve never actually had, but I’ve heard a lot of good things about him. In fact, I’ve never heard anything bad. I do know he grades on a curve, and that’s a little weird since most of the teachers at my school don’t use curves. I find psychology pretty interesting, so I don’t expect the course to be that difficult.

I know the International Relations class is an easy A because the teacher told me so herself. I actually worked with her part-time the spring semester, and she highly encouraged me to sign up for the class. She told me her tests are all open note tests, and she even said that buying the textbook isn’t really necessary because her class mostly focuses on discussing current events. Considering my role as the president of the Global Students Club, I decided to take her suggestion.

Now, the last class – the Physics class. Because I go to school at a small community college, there are only three options for science: physics, biology, and astronomy. I hate biology with a passion that transcends words, so taking a class in that division was never an option. That left physics and astronomy, both of which interest me (mostly because I’m interested in astrophysics). And the two classes are taught by the same professor, who, fortunately, is considered one of the best teachers on campus.

I plan to take astronomy at some point in the future (as I need it for astrophysics), but I decided to start with Physics for the obvious reason that I need to take Physics classes for a Physics major. I don’t really know what to expect, so it’s hard to be completely confident about my ability to handle it. Granted, I worry a lot about the difficulty of classes, and I usually find that my worry far outweighs the actual difficulty of the course.

Anyway, that’s it about the upcoming fall semester, which starts August 17th for me. Hopefully, all of my worries turn out to be unfounded.

Pseudo Carpentry

I helped my dad put together a kitchen cart that he bought. Hands-on projects like that aren’t exactly one of my strong points, and trying to decipher the assembly instructions was like trying to translate ancient hieroglyphics. Don’t get me wrong – we figured it out. Took us two hours, but we got the cart put together.

The experience was worth it, though. My dad’s a very hands-on person. He works on cars and household appliances in his spare time. When most people would call someone else to do a job, 95% of the time, he does the job himself and does it better. Except for carpentry. The one table he built, while it lasted for a solid ten years or more, always leaned to the side. Functional, but not pretty. So it makes sense that he chose to buy a cart rather than make one himself.

For other projects, though, he relies on himself. He has fixed my car so many times over the years I can’t even imagine how many thousands of dollars I’ve saved because of not having to pay labor costs. And when I take my car to a “real” mechanic, I usually get told that things are wrong with my car that aren’t wrong at all! One of the last mechanics I saw drove my car and told me my alternator was going bad (my alternator is fine – the serpentine belt needed to be replaced). Recently, my brake lines rusted apart, and my dad made me new brake lines. Like, honestly, he’s a bit of a genius with mechanics.

I won’t say I can’t do anything mechanical – I can, but I get frustrated and mentally fatigued within an hour. Give me a math problem to work on or an English essay to write, and I can spend hours on either with next to zero mental fatigue. But throw pictures at me with no words to explain what I’m looking at, and it’s like my brain just goes into overdrive. I don’t know if other people have this kind of experience, but, if I’m being honest, it’s kind of nice to experience every so often.

Another plus, for me, is that my dad’s not the super affectionate kind – he’s a bit withdrawn emotionally, but I know him well enough to know what he’s feeling. I don’t know how to explain that – he’s not gruff or stand-offish. He’s just someone who minds his own business and doesn’t force his company on anyone else. He works a lot, and he spends a lot of time outside of work, well, working on cars or going to races (he’s a huge racing nerd), so it’s hard to spend any real quality time with him. So, rather than try to get him to do something I like (which is mostly stuff he doesn’t), I decided to help him with one of his projects. And, you know, despite the mental fatigue, I had a lot of fun.