31 May, 2012

{this memory} 53

This is the story behind last Monday's {this moment}.

You're in New York - at Utica College to be precise. For nine olympiads the Psychological Society sponsored the Rat Olympics between 1980 and 1987.

It was huge! In its most successful years it was necessary to hold qualifying heats on one day and finals on another, and in 1986, it changed from a spring event to a fall event. Local elementary schools would bring classes to observe. Newspaper coverage from all over Central New York. Television coverage. Only female rats competed, however, because the males were too large to fit through the tubes used in two of the events.

What were the all-time records you ask?

          250 cm Sprint - 1.2 sec - Defiance
          500 cm Run - 2.3 sec - Defiance
          Maze - 3.3 sec - Poco
          Tube Crawl - 1.9 sec - Rosie
          Weight Lifting - 350 gm - Wendy
          Obstacle Course (seen in image) - 5.6 sec - Caution

Remarkable! How does a 200 gm rat lift 350 gm?! I guess you had to be there, but in the face of declining student interest and other pressures, the olympics ceased to exist.

So many wonderful memories - I am a fortunate man.
TGB

30 May, 2012

Long Live Tree

Tree has been a huge part of my life for years as I have endeavored to photograph daily the seasonal changes that annually cycle around me. (See: Desk With A View.) Tree has also become talisman, muse, confidant, inspiration, and friend. Every Saturday I post a photo of Tree on this blog. There are photo collections available for viewing and even a video.

Now I fear Tree is ill. Perhaps it's just old age, but either way, Tree doesn't look well. As dormancy began last fall, Tree's leaves dropped far too quickly, and this spring they have been slow to re-emerge.

I asked our emeritus botanist extraordinaire to take a look at Tree the next time he was on campus. Here are some excerpts from what he wrote me:

This is Carpinus caroliniana: American Hornbeam, Blue Beech, or Ironwood. Birch family. Native to eastern North Americana. Rarely any insect or disease problems.

The site is wet enough, though this is naturally an understory tree with dappled shade. It’s male flowers were produced in early April, and it now has many female flowers. Life span is usually 50-60 years, so it is a “senior citizen.” This specimen was likely planted in mid-1960s.

Three of the large branches are in sad shape with internal rotting as evidenced by those cut previously and by the large hole on the side of the trunk. These are dying and should be removed. The bark at the base of the tree on the south side is dead and flaking. Not a good sign. There is evidence of a good deal of internal decomposing wood.


Alas, Tree is not well. The pruning has been completed, and other modes of treatment, if there be any, are being explored.

Stay tuned and please send your positive thoughts to Tree.

TGB   

29 May, 2012

Poetically Ironic

In January I participated in a "30 poems in 30 days" challenge. On Day 8, the challenge was to write a poem about an ironic situation or moment. I took the classic story by O. Henry, The Gift of the Magi, often used to illustrate situational irony and massaged it into poetry.


          Jim and Della loved each other
               much more than words convey.
          So each resolved to give the other
               a gift that very day.

          When Jim came home, he found that she
               had cut her long blonde hair
          And sold the hair to buy a gift,
               a gift extraordinaire.

          Then Della bought for Jim the gift
               she thought would mean the most.
          It was a chain for his gold watch,
               a fob of which he’d boast.

          In shock, he gave the precious combs
               procured for her that day,
          A gift he tought she’d love to wear.
               “You're beautiful,” he'd say.

          It seems he’d sold his golden watch.
               He had no other choice.
          It was the only way to pay.
               He thought they would rejoice.

          And thus to demonstrate their love
               they gave these gifts so fair.
          The gifts, of course, are useless now,
               and irony fills the air.


TGB     

28 May, 2012

{this moment} 53

A Monday ritual. A single image - no words - capturing a moment from the past - sometimes a place with many moments - but somewhere along my life's Journey over which I wish to linger and savor each treasured aspect of the memories it evokes. If you are moved or intrigued by my {this moment}, please leave a comment. On Thursday in a companion ritual called {this memory}, I'll share the story of this moment.
{this moment}
Copyright © 2012 Thomas G. Brown

{this moment} is a ritual copied and adapted from cath's wonderful blog ~just my thoughts. She, in turn, borrowed it from Pamanner's Blog. Check out their blogs, and if you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your {this moment} in the comments for each of us to find and see.
TGB   

27 May, 2012

Wired For Sound

Back in the days before many churches had wireless microphones, a preacher was wired for sound with a lapel microphone, and as he preached, he moved briskly about the platform, jerking the cord as he went.

Then he moved to one side, got wound up in the cord, and nearly tripped before jerking it again.

After several circles and jerks, a little girl in the third pew leaned toward her mother and whispered,"If he gets loose, will he hurt us?"
Author Unknown   

26 May, 2012

Tree

Almost every day I photograph this tree near my office window - always from the same angle, the same zoom, and about the same time of day. This is my favorite image from the past week.
TGB   

Copyright © 2012 Thomas G. Brown

To view a video set to music that contains 135 images taken over 12 months, click here.

For the 2010 collection of images, click here.
For the 2011 collection of images, click here.
For the 2012 collection of images, click here.

25 May, 2012

Looking For My Gold Bar

I didn't get it. The gold bar that is.

I'm thinking about it because I'm in Washington to present a paper at a conference (this afternoon, in fact), and whenever I'm here, I find it impossible not to think about all things patriotic, especially the oath I once took.

That gold bar would have been my initial insignia in the US Navy. By the time I was to be graduated from university, I knew I didn't want the navy as a career and that my patience would be repeatedly tested even if serving for only a few years, but I wanted to serve. I owed the Navy a lot.

I was a Navy brat. My father retired when I was ten though, and I didn't have the repeated moves that so many dependents experience. There was only one of any real consequence, but I grew up on or around Navy bases. The Navy paid for my medical care until I was graduated from college, paid for four years of college (tuition, books, and monthly stipend), and gave me a summer job.

Well, sort of a summer job. It was actually training for a couple of months each summer, but it was still paid active duty. I spent the summer of 1967 on an aircraft carrier and rotating through most of the jobs enlisted naval personnel do as we sailed in and out of Norfolk and around the northeast Atlantic off Labrador and south of Greenland. It wasn't all work. Getting shot off a catapult and then landing on a carrier is better than any roller coaster I've ever ridden.

Then there was the summer of 1968 and one month with the Marines at Little Creek Amphibious Base. I can't say I was a fan of the obstacle course or the confidence course, but the mock invasions of Virginia Beach by helicopter and later by sea were interesting. We invaded Yorktown too, by river. Lot of miles of river in Vietnam, after all.

That was followed by a month with the aviators in Corpus Christi. Although we had one training flight in a jet, we mostly had flight lessons in two-seat prop planes (Beechcraft T-34). I liked the touch-and-go exercises, but nothing compares with doing a barrel roll or putting it into a nose dive and counting your revolutions by watching the beaches of Padre Island spin beneath you. It's the loop that caps it all though - especially watching the upside down horizon come back to you as you go over the top. The high altitude and ejection seat experiences were very cool. Hooyah!

My last summer was spent at sea again - June and July of 1969 on a guided missile frigate temporarily stationed in Guantanamo Bay. See: Helter Swelter. Although I enjoyed the training as I rotated through the various officers' positions, I have to admit what I remember best was finding a twenty dollar bill on the floor in front of the bar in the Officers' Club. What would you do with free money in a bar in the middle of some God-forsaken desert?

It wasn't all good. My father had a heart attack while I was there, and I could not get home - although I did manage to talk to him through some kind of radio magic engineered by PO3 "Sparks." It was also in Cuba that I first noticed the lump that would later be diagnosed as Hodgkin's.

There are lots of great memories; that's for certain. At a later time I'll write about my childhood exploits while living on the largest naval base in the world, but today I am thinking about what I owe the Navy. It is no small amount.

I wasn't awarded the gold bar that an ensign wears because of illness as a senior, but I completed all of the requirements. I also took the oath of an officer in September of 1966 when I became a midshipman. It's a solemn occasion and not something one forgets. You might not recall all of the words, but the sense of honor and privilege and obligation is permanent. I would have gladly served my country as an officer and a gentleman - in spite of my dissatisfaction with what was happening in southeast Asia.

I, Thomas G. Brown, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.

TGB   

24 May, 2012

{this memory} 52

This is the story behind last Monday's {this moment}.

You're in Virginia Beach. To be precise, the mug refers to Frontier City - a short-lived western theme park from 1961-63. I pretty much lived there in my very early teens.

My mother was the manager of the Longhorn Saloon, the park's restaurant. The first summer I just kind of hung out. I rode all the rides until I was sick of them. I rode horses before and after the park was open, but I also watched and learned.

The owner noticed that I seemed to know how to do everything in the park and hired me to work relief when folks went for lunch or took a break - at least for those jobs that didn't absolutely require an adult. I was only 13, almost 14.

I even figured out how to get the old antique printing press working. I then set type for it and inked it up. What a ball! I had full access to front of house and behind the scenes for two wonderful summers and did it while dressed the part.

I even invented the double cheeseburger. Since I had access to the restaurant's grill, I would make myself lunch and came up with this two patty cheeseburger with all the fixings. Others began to ask me to make them one too. I suppose other companies were also beginning to do it, but I didn't know that. This predates the fast food burgers we have today, by the way. There were only abut 100 McDonalds in the country at the time.

So many wonderful memories - I am a fortunate man.
TGB

22 May, 2012

Listen ...

What a wonderful thought and such healthful positive encouragement!

I passed this black granite bench for the first time about a year ago as I hustled between meetings, and I still see it about every other month. It was etched with the single word you see in the image. What a wonderful idea - to take a moment just to sit and listen to the world. Listen for a child's laughter. Perhaps a distant dog's bark or a nearby bird's song. If it's sufficiently quiet, maybe you can listen to the murmur of a breeze as it whispers sweet nothings in your ear. If you're really lucky, you'll get a chance to listen to yourself. It's centering.

How relaxing. How restorative it would be to do as the bench encourages. We live in a stressful world, and whenever someone tells me "listen," I do anything but listen. It's usually a prompt that generates tension or anxiety.

This "listen ..." is different. Any time I can just take a moment and drink in the melodic sounds of life rather than its noise ... well, that is time well spent.

I recommend we all do it. Every day.    

Make the time ...

                       to take a moment ...

and                                                     TGB


21 May, 2012

{this moment} 52

A Monday ritual. A single image - no words - capturing a moment from the past - sometimes a place with many moments - but somewhere along my life's Journey over which I wish to linger and savor each treasured aspect of the memories it evokes. If you are moved or intrigued by my {this moment}, please leave a comment. On Thursday in a companion ritual called {this memory}, I'll share the story of this moment.
{this moment}
Copyright © 2012 Thomas G. Brown

{this moment} is a ritual copied and adapted from cath's wonderful blog ~just my thoughts. She, in turn, borrowed it from Pamanner's Blog. Check out their blogs, and if you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your {this moment} in the comments for each of us to find and see.
TGB   

20 May, 2012

First Trip To The Mall

An Amish boy and his father were visiting a mall. They were amazed by almost everything they saw, but especially by two shiny, silver walls that could move apart and back together again.

The boy asked his father, "What is this, Father?"

The father responded, "Son, I have never seen anything like this in my life. I don't know what it is."

While the boy and his father were watching, wide-eyed, an old lady in a wheel chair rolled up to the moving walls and pressed a button. The walls opened, and the lady rolled between them into a small room. The walls closed.

Then the boy and his father watched small circles of lights with numbers above the walls light up. They continued to watch the circles light up in the reverse direction. The walls opened up again, and a beautiful 24 year old woman stepped out.

The father said to his son, "Go get your Mother."
Author Unknown   

19 May, 2012

Tree

Almost every day I photograph this tree near my office window - always from the same angle, the same zoom, and about the same time of day. This is my favorite image from the past week.
TGB   

Copyright © 2012 Thomas G. Brown

To view a video set to music that contains 135 images taken over 12 months, click here.

For the 2010 collection of images, click here.
For the 2011 collection of images, click here.
For the 2012 collection of images, click here.

18 May, 2012

Poetically Impossible

In January I participated in a "30 poems in 30 days" challenge. On Day 5 of the challenge, I was to write a poem about an impossible event. As Dumbledore replied "Of course, it's happening inside your head, Harry; why should that mean it's not real?" You decide.


          But what is real and what is not?
          So many disagree.
          And what of that we’re told is just
          Impossibility?

          Perhaps these things are just the things
          Which haven’t yet to be
          Because no one has cared to think
          Sufficiently to see.

          When I am dared to think about
          Impossibility,
          It seems I can’t because I think
          Of them successfully.

          I’ll share my proof with those who care,
          But now I must decree,
          Indeed, if I can think of it,
          It’s real. It’s come to be.

          It’s seems to me the truth of it
          Is that there cannot be,
          At least for those who think at all,
          Impossibility.

TGB   

17 May, 2012

{this memory} 51

This is the story behind last Monday's {this moment}.

You're in Central New York. To be precise, you're looking at my bed post - at least for the last 20 years or so that we've had this bed frame.

Are there memories? Oh, my! But that's not really why I posted this image. It's really about the talismans you see hanging on that bed post.

There is a University of Virginia dog collar. It belonged to Tocco, our black Lab from 1989 to 2001. By the way, that's pronounced 'Toe Ko' - a small town in Abruzzo we had visited that year, and we still have friends in that area. I have many happy memories of Tocco and one more painful one of the last time we were together. C'est la vie.

There is the dreamcatcher I purchased on a Native American reservation in New Mexico. It's a small one, but since hanging it there, I have had no nightmares. They were originally used as charms to protect sleeping children from nightmares. C'est la force majeure.

And then there is Kermit. What can I say? Doesn't everyone want to sleep with a Muppet close by? C'est la joie de vivre.

If you see in this image symbols of love and spirituality and playfulness, then this picture is a symbol of me as well. N'est-ce pas?

So many wonderful memories - I am a fortunate man.
TGB

16 May, 2012

Mighty Finn - Update #1

That's my grandson! He's growing up - having just passed his 1/4th birthday.

When he was here about six weeks ago and about six weeks old, there wasn't a lot going on - eating, sleeping, crying. You know - baby stuff.

But now a personality is emerging, and emotions are differentiating. What begins in all of us as just arousal or no arousal has become happy or distressed or tired or bored or attentive or whatever. He smiles! And in reaction to you. And he reaches for things. What a piece of work is man!

I love this photo and the caption his mother gave it.


Whoa ... I have FEET!
Why didn't someone tell me about this sooner?

And then there is this 27 second clip - which I have watched repeatedly. He offers up a squeal of delight toward the end that is luscious and captivating, and if you don't smile in response to it, well ... your lobotomy worked. That squeal is also the first time I've heard him vocalize other than crying. Ecce homo!

I'll see him again very soon. I can't wait.
TGB   

video

15 May, 2012

William James And Me

It's hard not to be an admirer of William James (1842-1910), especially as someone who professes interest in the history of psychology. He was a legendary professor at Harvard and one of the earliest of American psychologists - at least before dedicating himself to philosophy. You may be more familiar with his brother Henry James, the author.

I was in Boston in May of 2000 as my wife attended a conference. Since I knew the William James's house was being developed into some apartments or condominiums, I thought I ought to head out to 95 Irving Street in Cambridge and see the place for myself. As it turns out, it's only about three blocks from where the Harvard psychology department is.

Anyway - I got there on a Friday afternoon only to find workmen swarming all over the place. I took a couple of pictures to use in my history class, but didn't look around much since "No Trespassing" signs were everywhere and I was in a rule governed mood.

On the subway back to downtown, I said to myself, "You dufuss! A real opportunity was missed." I knew that Thorndike, as James's student, had housed chicks in the basement when the university had no space. This was an important precursor to the Thorndike's famous "cats and puzzle box" period, and as a learning theorist, I should have asked to see it. A few months earlier people lived there, and in a few months new people would be there. Alas, a once in a lifetime chance squandered.

Well, by Saturday, I remembered that it would be easier to get forgiveness than permission, and I had to go back. It was late afternoon, and the workmen had gone home. The front door was secured. My rule governed mood had evaporated, and as I walked around, one couldn't help but notice that the exterior basement door wasn't latched - jammed shut, but not latched. One good shoulder blow and I was in the basement! Of course, it didn't look the same - a new concrete floor had been poured and partitions were going in. Not a speck of chicken poop anywhere. But, I was there.

I should add that also close by is the Swedenborg Chapel (across from James Hall) - a study center for those interested in his mystical philosophy. I couldn't help but note the current proximity to the James's home since Emanuel (1688-1772) had played such a pivotal role in James's father's life (mental health). William later suffered from the same sort of "vastations" (debilitating anxiety) that his father had experienced.

It was an afternoon well spent.
TGB   

14 May, 2012

{this moment} 51

A Monday ritual. A single image - no words - capturing a moment from the past - sometimes a place with many moments - but somewhere along my life's Journey over which I wish to linger and savor each treasured aspect of the memories it evokes. If you are moved or intrigued by my {this moment}, please leave a comment. On Thursday in a companion ritual called {this memory}, I'll share the story of this moment.
{this moment}
Copyright © 2012 Thomas G. Brown

{this moment} is a ritual copied and adapted from cath's wonderful blog ~just my thoughts. She, in turn, borrowed it from Pamanner's Blog. Check out their blogs, and if you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your {this moment} in the comments for each of us to find and see.
TGB   

13 May, 2012

Life in the Rectory


Maria was a nun for a number of years but eventually left the order. When she returned home, she got a job as housekeeper for the local Parish Priest.

One day she came running into the Priest's office, all excited, and said "Father, Father, come quick, there something wrong with my washing machine." The priest said, "Now, now, my child, that washing machine is not yours. Nor is it mine. It was bought by the parishioners for our use, just like everything else in the Rectory. Nothing here is exclusively yours or mine. As members of the Parish everything is OURS. OUR washing machine, OUR fridge, OUR stove. Can you see that, my child?"

"Yes, Father," she said, "I understand that everything in the Rectory is OURS, and I promise I will never say MINE again."

Later that day the Bishop happened to come by and called on the Parish Priest. They were sitting in the Priest's office when Maria came running in, all excited and said, "Father, Father, come quick. There a mouse under OUR bed."
Author Unknown   

Contributed by Claire at Day to Day with Parkinson's Disease

12 May, 2012

Tree

Almost every day I photograph this tree near my office window - always from the same angle, the same zoom, and about the same time of day. This is my favorite image from the past week.
TGB   

Copyright © 2012 Thomas G. Brown

To view a video set to music that contains 135 images taken over 12 months, click here.

For the 2010 collection of images, click here.
For the 2011 collection of images, click here.
For the 2012 collection of images, click here.

10 May, 2012

{this memory} 50

This is the story behind last Monday's {this moment}.

You're in Maine - on the coast, obviously. To be precise - Mt. Desert Island and Acadia National Park. It was a favorite spot when I was in graduate school at Orono and only about 30 miles from school. An easy drive.

What you're looking at - other than my hands - is Miss Bo Jangles, not Lassie. I had two dogs then. The elder was Dixie, a small mixed-breed rescue dog acquired with benevolence aforethought. This purebred collie was purchased from a mall pet store after a dinner during which I probably drank too much wine. Accidents happen - which is not to say Bo wasn't equally loved.

I didn't have her as long as Dixie who was with me from 1972 to 1989, but she was with me for a few years (1973-1976) as we camped and cross country skiied all over Maine and then Central New York. We had a ball - except for maybe that time I threw her in Moosehead Lake. Who knew all that hair would act like a sponge?! I got her out in time though.

And that nose! Even she didn't realize how long it was. She used to bang it on things as she turned around. I also remember the time she lit out after a rabbit on a friend's farm in Luray, Virginia. She was gaining on it until it disappeared through the fence, and it was all she could do to stop in time before she crashed into it. Who knows what woulds have happened if she caught it. I try not to imagine it.

She was a good dog. I miss her.

So many wonderful memories - I am a fortunate man.
TGB

07 May, 2012

{this moment} 50

A Monday ritual. A single image - no words - capturing a moment from the past - sometimes a place with many moments - but somewhere along my life's Journey over which I wish to linger and savor each treasured aspect of the memories it evokes. If you are moved or intrigued by my {this moment}, please leave a comment. On Thursday in a companion ritual called {this memory}, I'll share the story of this moment.
{this moment}
Copyright © 2012 Thomas G. Brown

{this moment} is a ritual copied and adapted from cath's wonderful blog ~just my thoughts. She, in turn, borrowed it from Pamanner's Blog. Check out their blogs, and if you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your {this moment} in the comments for each of us to find and see.
TGB   

06 May, 2012

God Loves Drunk People Too

A man and his wife were awakened at 3:00 am by a loud pounding on the door. The man got up and went to the door where a drunken stranger, standing in the pouring rain, was asking for a push.

"Not a chance," said the husband, "It is 3:00 in the morning!" He slammed the door and returned to bed.

"Who was that?" asked his wife. "Just some drunk guy asking for a push," he answered.

"Did you help him?" she asked. "No, I did not. It is 3:00 in the morning, AND it is pouring rain out there!"

"Well, you have a short memory," said the wife. "Can't you remember about three months ago when we broke down and those two guys helped us? I think you should help him, and you should be ashamed of yourself! God loves drunk people too."

The man did as he was told, got dressed, and went out into the pounding rain. He called out into the dark, "Hello, are you still there?"

"Yes," came back the answer.

"Do you still need a push?" called out the husband.

"Yes, please!" came the reply from the dark.

"Where are you?" asked the husband. "Over here on the swing set," replied the drunk.
Author Unknown   

05 May, 2012

Tree

Almost every day I photograph this tree near my office window - always from the same angle, the same zoom, and about the same time of day. This is my favorite image from the past week.
TGB   

Copyright © 2012 Thomas G. Brown

To view a video set to music that contains 135 images taken over 12 months, click here.

For the 2010 collection of images, click here.
For the 2011 collection of images, click here.
For the 2012 collection of images, click here.


04 May, 2012

Poetically Urgent

In January I participated in a "30 poems in 30 days" challenge. On Day 24, I was to write a poem about an urge. So I did.

until they touch

        building slowly
        relentlessly

        magical increments of desire

        inflamed by an occasional word
        perhaps a glimpse
        certainly a scent
        each intensely faint
        together working an ancient alchemy

        and soon
        reason and restraint
        fade in the face of warming whispers
        until finally mere mortals are without defense


TGB   

03 May, 2012

{this memory} 49

This is the story behind last Monday's {this moment}.

You're in Central New York - in the basement of my brother-in-law's home, to be precise.

What you're looking at is a hand-made fire truck -- hand-made by moi over 30 years ago for my nephew. This was before I had children and before I lost the use of my left hand. I got the design from Mother Earth News and decided to fabricate the toy as a Christmas present for him. A couple of years ago I asked to see it so I could photograph it.

His father, by the way, was a fire fighter. Today he is about to retire as deputy chief. My nephew has become a police officer and has a son of his own.

I didn't stop there. In other years, I made a dump truck and a train for him. I particularly liked the truck wheels which I made by cutting sections of tree limb and then rounding them a bit - all with a radial arm saw!

So many wonderful memories - I am a fortunate man.
TGB




02 May, 2012

As Soon As Fred Gets Out Of Bed

I love children's poetry. It's joyful, silly, rhyming, and stimulates the imagination. It doesn't always lead me to profound thoughts or essential truths, but I search for those enough anyway. Sometimes, however, it does reveal a genuine wisdom, and if not, ... well ... it always makes me smile.

To paraphrase someone: I'm happy to grow older, but I refuse to grow up. It's poetry like this piece that keeps me young, and my inner child is very much alive and well. Perhaps it can help keep you young as well, but for today ... I'll settle for sharing a smile.

And if that's not reason enough, perhaps I just need some respite from grading.
TGB   

As soon as Fred gets out of bed,
his underwear goes on his head.
His mother laughs, "Don't put it there,
a head's no place for underwear!"
But near his ears, above his brains,
is where Fred's underwear remains.

At night when Fred goes back to bed,
he deftly plucks it off his head.
His mother switches off the light
and softly croons, "Good night! Good night!"
And then, for reasons no one knows,
Fred's underwear goes on his toes.


by Jack Prelutsky, 2003

01 May, 2012

Test Anxiety

And so it begins.

Today is the last day of classes, and final examinations will begin quicker than a duck on a Junebug.

Oh, the humanity!

Quite frankly, this assessment element is my least favorite part of being a professor. I don't mind making up the tests; that's fun and requires some creativity. What has become drudgery is the grading of those examinations. Students aren't as well prepared as they were a couple of decades ago, and it's been getting steadily worse. It is almost painful to see how little can be learned in spite of your best efforts.

Hope springs eternal though. Perhaps examination scores have bottomed out, and the average student will again be motivated to work.

Assuming they survive my course, many students will be surprised to learn that in addition to their course exams the college has instituted a comprehensive examination that all students must pass before a degree will be granted. Blame it on governmental pressure for greater accountability and pressure to document that our curricula have actually taught our students something.

State Ed is always pecking at us, and we don't like it. So ... I offer the questions ahead of time. Maybe the students will do better.

Wish them luck. How would you do?
TGB   

Senior Comprehensive Examination
Read each question carefully, and answer all questions.
Time Limit: 4 hours.

HISTORY
Describe the history of the papacy from its origins to the present day, concentrating especially, but not exclusively, on its social, political, economic, religious, and philosophical impact on Europe, Asia, America, and Africa. Be brief, concise, and specific.

MEDICINE
You have been provided with a razor blade, a piece of gauze, and a bottle of Scotch. Remove your appendix. Do not suture until your work has been inspected. You have 15 minutes.

PUBLIC SPEAKING
Twenty-five hundred riot-crazed aborigines are storming the classroom. Calm them. You may use any ancient language except Latin or Greek.

BIOLOGY
Create life. Estimate the differences in subsequent human culture if this form of life had developed 500 million years earlier, with special attention to its probable effect on the English parliamentary system. Prove your thesis.

MUSIC
Write a piano concerto. Orchestrate and perform it with flute and drum. You will find a piano under your seat.

PSYCHOLOGY
Based on your degree of knowledge of their works, evaluate the emotional stability, degree of adjustment, and repressed frustrations of each of the following: Alexander of Aphrodisias, Rameses II, Gregory of Nicea, Hammurabi. Support your evaluations with quotations from each man's work, making appropriate references. It is not necessary to translate.

SOCIOLOGY
Estimate the sociological problems which might accompany the end of the world. Construct an experiment to test your theory.

MANAGEMENT SCIENCE
Define management. Define science. How do they relate? Why? Create a generalized algorithm to optimize all managerial decisions. Assuming a Fujitsu K computer at 10.51 petaflops supporting 100 terminals, each terminal to activate your algorithm, design the communications interface and all necessary control programs.

ENGINEERING
The disassembled parts of a high-powered rifle have been placed in a box on your desk. You will also find an instruction manual, printed in Swahili. In ten minutes a hungry Bengal tiger will be admitted to the room. Take whatever action you feel is appropriate. Be prepared to justify your decision.

ECONOMICS
Develop a realistic plan for refinancing the national debt. Trace the possible effects of your plan in the following areas: Cubism, the Donatist controversy, the wave theory of light. Outline a method for preventing these effects. Criticize this method from all possible points of view. Point out the deficiencies in your point of view, as demonstrated in your answer to the last question.

POLITICAL SCIENCE
There is a red telephone on the desk beside you. Start World War III. Report at length on its socio-political effects, if any.

EPISTEMOLOGY
Take a position for or against truth. Prove the validity of your position.

PHYSICS
Explain the nature of matter. Include in your answer an evaluation of the impact of the development of mathematics on science.

PHILOSOPHY
Sketch the development of human thought; estimate its significance. Compare with the development of any other kind of thought.

GENERAL KNOWLEDGE
Describe in detail. Be objective and specific.

*** EXTRA CREDIT ***
Define the universe; give three examples.