Usually drunken.


April 30, 2009, 8:29 a.m. by Paul Stiverson
So, yesterday I got the best email I’ve probably ever gotten. > Paul Stiverson: > > CONGRATULATIONS! All of your manuscript corrections are done and your forms have been received. You are cleared by the Thesis Office. > > Thank you. What this means is that I am all the way done with my Master’s degree, all I have left to do is walk across the stage. If you would like to read my thesis it is [available on this site](http://thismatters.net/research/thesis.pdf). For those who are unaware, I have been offered another summer position at [Ames](http://www.arc.nasa.gov/), so I will be leaving for California very shortly after the aforementioned stage walking. I am excited to be going back, I sort of need a vacation from school. Sorry I haven’t posted much lately, I would say that I’ve been too busy, but really I’ve been too lazy. I promise to make some good posts soon.

Update (Re: Options)

Feb. 16, 2009, 1:28 p.m. by Paul Stiverson
I [previously posted](http://thismatters.net/ramblings/comment.php?post_id=220) that I was considering quitting graduate school after finishing my Master’s degree. I’m happy to say that I have decided against that plan. My new advisor was able to pull some strings at NASA and get them to open up a fellowship position for me which led to a significant pay increase from my previous salary so I am in a much better financial situation than before. I’m still looking forward to teaching full (or at least mostly full) time, but I can put it off a few more years and muscle through my doctorate. In the interim I will continue to tutor and keep applying to be a lecturer here in the Mechanical Engineering department. As far as research goes I am enjoying my current topic a lot more now that I have funding and time to work on it, but will keep looking for a new and exciting topic for my Ph.D. As part of this development I took my qualifying exams (or [prelims](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preliminary_examination) if you will) last week. I’m happy to announce that I passed them both on the first attempt, so I am now qualified to start Doctoral work.

texas news

Oct. 30, 2008, 9:53 a.m. by Lew
big john!
Today I want to share a few things i found interesting on the internet. Dear my fellow texans, wtf? Why do [23% of Texans](http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/6084678.html) think Obama is a secret muslim? 5-10% of the rest of the country thinks that, but nearly 1 in 4 texas think that. I guess those are the people who think [John Cornyn is a cowboy](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tt05KC3Add8). It some good news [the Bonfire lawsuits are finally settled.](http://dmc-news.tamu.edu/templates/?a=6871&z=15) It seems we are on a path to returning Bonfire to campus. I have mixed feeling about it. If it comes back to campus I worry there won't be any real student involvement in building it. As much as I would love to see it return to campus from its current exile I just don't know how it can be done well and meet liability issues the university will need to deal with. what do you think ags?

Gee, thanks, Sarah!

Oct. 2, 2008, 10:46 p.m. by Sam
Best teacher
Watching the VP debate tonight was fun and frustrating. The part that irked me the most, and I knew it would, was the mere mention of education reform. Wow, Sarah, you think education is good and things should be done to make it better? Great! Ok, what the hell are you going to do? I tutor about a hundred 9th and 10th graders in math (algebra I, II and geometry) and science (biology and chemistry). My list of resources include three biology text books and 3 algebra I books. That's it. My students don't even have books to take home, so they rarely have homework. For a while I showed them cool videos on YouTube of how proteins actively transport molecules across cell membranes and what the inside of a cell looks like, but someone in the technology department found out I was using YouTube and blocked my computer from accessing it. God forbid there be any relevant, useful, and easy to find videos there. Advice I was given from other teachers and admins: just do your best. No child left behind was the most retarded thing ever. This may sound shocking, but some students really should be left behind. I know that sounds terrible, but some of my sophomores are so defiant, nasty, snotty and mean that I've just decided to quit helping them. Sorry. In a class of 25 students, I'd rather help the 5 or 6 who genuinely want help than spend all of my time with those who just refuse help. I did make one breakthrough today. I felt like Jaime Escalante. I have one student who is pretty defiant, but shows a lot of potential. He usually ignored me, so I started ignoring him. Until today when it came up that he's from Alexandria, LA, where my mom is from. When I told him that, he sat his ass down next to me and asked for help with chemistry. Booyah. Stand and Deliver.


Sept. 29, 2008, 3:28 p.m. by Paul Stiverson
For some time now I’ve entertained the notion of getting my doctorate and going to teach somewhere, lately though—and especially considering my poor financial situation—I’ve become less enthusiastic about it. If you don’t mind I’m going to do some analysis of my situation (if you do mind then skip this post, I’m doing it anyway). Getting a Ph.D. means about 4 more years of education, this in-and-of-itself is a good thing. I like school, and I’ve never had too tough a time with it. Staying in school lets me stay in College Station (or allows me to move just as easily), which is nice because I really like it here. Going for the gusto also means four more years of research, this is the rub, I don’t derive a great deal of pleasure from research—it could be that I haven’t found an engaging subject or any host of other issues, but the fact stands that I don’t get as much out of it as I do from other things, namely teaching. The whole reason that I initially wanted a Ph.D. was that it would allow me to teach at a major university, without the teaching aspect I never would have wanted a doctorate. The other major drawback to getting a doctorate is funding, right now funding is pretty sparse unless you are doing work for an oil company or in defense applications. Since I have ethical problems with either of those routes I am left grasping at the leavings of NSF grants, being funded by my prof, or being a TA. Needless to say none of those are very lucrative. Now, one of the things that I’ve been told about being a grad student is that you shouldn’t be concerned with the amount of money you are bringing in, as long as you can pay the rent you are doing fine. This is fine, it is part of the college experience, and I’ve done fine with it so far, but I do need to consider my financial future. At present I have $0 in savings, that is not an exaggeration. I’m not saying that I have debt offsetting my savings, I’m saying that I have no savings (and debt too). On top of that I have no holdings, I’m a renter so I haven’t any equity. I am literally worthless. My 25th birthday is rapidly approaching and at that time I have to take control of my own insurance (both health, and car), and I’m afraid I don’t have the means to afford to live anymore. I don’t see why it is necessarily impossible to start “Life” (buying a house, starting a family, etc.) while still in school, but it _is_ practically impossible to think about making a major purchase when you aren’t sure where your (meager) paycheck will be coming from in the next 6 months. I’ve been thinking about solutions to this problem, and I think I’ve got a workable plan. This will let me have financial solvency and it will let me teach (which I am wildly enthusiastic about), and eliminate the bullshit about school that I could do without. I’m going to be a lecturer. No research, still in academia (sorta). Optimally I would lecture here at A&M (so I don’t have to leave town), but my department doesn’t have any lecturers. I’m going to build up a case for myself and create an opening for myself in the system. Otherwise I’ll look at smaller schools in the area (SHSU and Blinn). Once I have some funds in the bank I can reasonably look at chasing my dreams (Stiverson Press here I come).

Office Space

Aug. 29, 2008, 3:25 p.m. by Paul Stiverson
Part of my grad school arrangement is that I’m a teachers assistant, and part of being a TA is that they give you an office—well a cubicle—in which to hold office hours, grade, and piddle. Now, they make you turn in your key at the end of each semester and pick it up at the beginning of the new one; they claim that they use the break to clean everything and make preparations for the upcoming semester. No biggie. The problem with this arrangement is that they never have the office assignments ready before the semester starts, this makes it extraordinarily tough to get your office hours nailed down and given to the students (“Hey, these are my office hours, but I can’t tell you where they are located, just guess… good luck, fuckers”). The start of a semester is frustrating enough without having to deal with not having an office to store all your crap. To deal with this I’ve typically just used my previous office until the new assignment comes in (I have always gotten the same cube so it hasn’t been a problem), and that is exactly what I was doing today until the receptionist for the department rolled through and complained about me using my former and future cubicle. “You aren’t supposed to use these until they are assigned to you” she said. “Well, I see that you are holding a sheet with my name on it that belongs to this cubicle, I’m pretty sure you are assigning it to me”, I replied. “That doesn’t matter, I haven’t given you your key yet, it isn’t yours.” “Well, classes have started and I’m expected to hold office hours, where better to do so than my office, perhaps if you assigned them in a more timely manner this wouldn’t be an issue”. I don’t see the harm in using an unoccupied office, especially when you were the last (and next) person assigned to it, but apparently it is a major transgression.

He Gonna Be A Doctor Son

June 12, 2008, 10:55 a.m. by Lew
On monday my good friend vince nieto passed his preliminary exams in the microbiology program at t.u.- Austin. I would like to use this entry to say congratulations sir. If you are not familiar with the process of a biology PhD know that it is grueling. I didn't last a year in my program. Vince was in the same time as me and through an herculaian amount of work and a ventnerian amount of genius he has qualified and is now a phd candidate. In addition to be a microbiological champion he maintains a darn good bloog. [madpimpvince](http://www.xanga.com/madpimpvince) check it out after refering 10 of your friends to thismatters.net.

what do i live for now??

May 27, 2008, 9:26 p.m. by Trey
so first off, of course, i would like to thank mr. stiverson for setting me up with the ability to jot down my nonsense every now and then. i really don't know why anyone would want to necessarily read anything i may be thinking, but it gives me something to do... so thanks paul\r\n\r\nso now, which would be the purpose of this entire post, you get to read about my last two days and discover the meaning to the depressing title i gave it\r\n\r\ncall me weird or strange if you must, but i have grown up in a family of aggies; and by family i pretty much just mean my father and my uncle. which, if you are an aggie (and i'm sure anyone reading this more than likely is) you would know that 2 people is 1 person more than it requires to persuade anyone to become a part of this 'cult' if i may call it what it truly is. being raised in various bars by my father, granted that probably wasn't the best [insert good christian raisin' here], it taught me much about life and people (mainly how stupid they are, but that's an entire 'nother post for a much later date). \r\n\r\nanyway, im getting off topic; back to being raised by my father.\r\n\r\nthis is where i think im going to get a few weird looks, i used to sleep (when i was little of course) with my fathers aggie ring on my bed-stand right next to my head, and would stare at it basically until i fell asleep. granted i did not do this constantly, but on several occasions do i have distinct memories of this and some wonderful resulting dreams that have stayed with me through the years.\r\n\r\nwell today, at approximately 9:55 AM i ordered my very own aggie ring. i have been waiting for the ability to do this since i started thinking cognitively, and no that's not an exaggeration; shortly after ordering the ring while walking back to my truck i came to the realization that this is what i have been living for (call it sad if you wish) for many many years now. when i had this enlightening moment of sorts, it came to me as quite a shock because i usually do not put so much meaning on such physical possessions; however all here i think can attest with me that this simple 'physical possession' has a very deep and non-physical meaning to it shared by countless aggies around the world. to sum that entire thing up, my day started off very kick ass and i can't wait until september 19th.\r\n\r\nnow for the end to my day:\r\n\r\ni have been saying for about a year and a half now that the day i order my ring (well i guess it would be ordered now) i was going to get a tattoo. although many thoughts of it ran through my mind, of course it all remained centered around a single thing. texas a&m...duh, but when i sat down and started playing in photoshop the night before i ordered (this would be monday), i decided that i wanted to add a little bit of a texas swing to it. i came up with a couple of fairly good ideas, but was pressed for time and did not get to fully map anything out in photoshop very well. so i just decided i would get the standard block atm on my left shoulder.\r\n\r\nwhen i got to poking you tattoo (which, by the way, impressed the hell out of me) i spoke with one of the artists there named derek. he was very helpful and drew up the sketch for the block atm that i wanted. just as he finished i had a revelation. i had just thought of the perfect addition to this tattoo and quickly asked him if he could do something to implement the idea. he and several other customers in the store caught me completely off guard and made me gag a little bit by their lack of knowledge on the \"come and get it!\" flag. i quickly pulled up a picture of it on his laptop and he had a sketch of something that appealed to me beyond belief within 15 minutes (again, super impressed).\r\n\r\nall-in-all the tattoo went very well, i am extremely pleased with it. as for the pain, i am a skinny bastard, so unfortunately it hurt a little bit even on top of my fairly high pain tolerance, but i really only winced when he had to basically tattoo the damn bone of my shoulder blade.\r\n\r\n i apologize for the extremely long post, but it is my first one and i had quite a bit to share. until next time! -trey
ATM come and take it!

Driving School

April 25, 2008, 11:30 p.m. by Paul Stiverson
Today I was driving to Ingleside (where my parents live) and it became obvious that there are a whole bunch of people out there who never learned how to drive at driving school. They learned that they are supposed to keep the yellow line on the left and the white on the right, but they missed all the nuance and subtlety of driving. I’m sure that none of my readers fall into this class of ignorant drivers, but just for posterity I’m going to outline a few of the largely unlearned rules of the road. * Cruise Control: Every vehicle produced since 1996 has the magical ability to maintain a constant speed; accelerate until you reach your desired speed then hit the ‘set’ button and boom, you won’t continuously be passing the same vehicle down the length of highway 77. It is appropriate to use cruise control on any stretch of road with a constant speed limit for 5 miles or more. * Lane Selection: It is never acceptable to cruise in the left-most lane. You are welcome to travel as slowly as you desire, but do so in the right-hand lane so faster moving vehicles can pass you. Should you encounter a slower moving vehicle feel free to pass it on the left, but as soon as you have passed the slower vehicle you should move back to the right-hand lane. This rule only applies to people traveling on a multi-lane road. * Being Passed: It is not an insult to be passed, it just means that another driver is in a bigger hurry than you are. When another driver is passing you it is bad form to speed up, doubly so if other drivers around you aren’t following appropriate lane selection protocol. If you detect that a driver wants to pass you and there is no passing lane then it is acceptable for you to pull over to the shoulder and drive there until they are passed. Note to the passer: if a driver moves aside for you it is appropriate to show your gratitude by waving, or briefly turning on your hazard blinkers. * Blinkers: Always use your blinker to indicate a lane change, an upcoming exit you plan to take, or a turn you are going to make. It is appropriate to turn on your blinker well before you begin braking. Promptly turn off you blinker after completing your maneuver. Feel free to comment with any rules you feel should be added, if there is interest I will expand this to a page of its own. The quote of the day comes from Mandy today: “Jack Ingram’s a dunderhead.”

Stupid Classes

April 17, 2008, 1:44 p.m. by Paul Stiverson
I just caught a glimpse of a [take-home exam](images/Test2-08A.pdf) that a friend of mine is working on. I think it is quite sad that there is an entire course (at a major university) dedicated to computer literacy; further, it is a joke that the students should be taught to use one specific software suite. I feel this way not because of my dislike for Microsoft, but because software is subject to change, the information taught in the class will likely be outdated by the next version of Microsoft Office. Instead of teaching people what menu they should click to find the spell checker, they should be taught how to find what they are looking for when using computers—or better yet, how to spell. Courses that lack any sort of academic credibility ([like this one](http://www.rpts.tamu.edu/courses/renr201/)) aren’t just useless, they are actually harmful because they teach students how to get away with not thinking. They exemplify what is wrong with academic institutions, and thus the minds they shape. Don’t misunderstand my words, I don’t think there is anything wrong with training somebody on a specific piece of software, but the university is not the place for such training. In college people are supposed to learn how to think critically, solve problems, and interpret information effectively.
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