Archive for the “Asa Jay” Category

It’s all about me, myself, and I.

Another six weeks down and one more class finished toward my degree. The grades were about a week late in coming, finally being posted today. Now with a final passing grade, I feel comfortable in writing about the class and moving on. I have 18 more to go, that’s two less than when I started.

I’m not a “sociology” kind of guy, I’m more technical. Social sciences and humanities courses are the types I have avoided like the plague for years, even decades. I started out finding the class very much against my better tastes; however, as I was determined to make the best of it, I found the material grew on me in a positive way. By the time the course was finished, I was happy I had endured, learned a lot and hopefully became a better person for it.

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I asked a friend at work today “Guess what I looked at last night” to which she replied using a blank stare. I said “Saturn,” and she perked up with interest and said “How many and which models?” Hehehe, I had to laugh, so I said “The one between Jupiter and. . .” I never finished my sentence as it dawned on her.

Last night was a very nice cloudless night near Spokane. I live out on the West plains. It was cold though and I had reservations about taking my new telescope out on the deck to get a look at the sky. I put on a stocking cap, a field jacket and took to the night air. The telescope went up and the notebook computer sat beside it. I don’t have a connection cable to allow the notebook computer to control the telescope, yet, so I used the provided controller already attached.

The first thing I need to do was align the scope. Since it was cold, and I as mostly dinking around anyway, I selected the “Easy” alignment method. Leveling the scope tube and pointing it North I started the procedure. The scope then automagically turned to point at Sirius. Unfortunately it was a bit off so I had to fine tune it by hand, this was part of the alignment procedure. After I got Sirius centered, I pressed [Enter] to continue and it proceeded to seek to another star. I can’t remember the name and I’m not sure I was even pointing to the right one, but I centered what looked good and continued.

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I’m painfully reminded why I’ve never taken a social science class before, it’s very non-technical and involves too much “emotion.” That’s my knee-jerk impression after attending my first night of class for the sociology of death and dying. Why in the world would I take such a course? Mostly for very good reasons, I need to fulfill a social science requirement for graduation and this class appeared to be just as good as any other in the sessions I could choose from. I just don’t think it’s the right class for me.

To start with, the class has 20 people in it, that’s almost twice as many as my last class. The room feels crowded to me, and with so many people I don’t feel the urge to participate, though a portion of our grade is going to be on class participation. My last class I participated in real well, but this one is going to be more difficult.

The second problem, as it relates to class participation, is that I probably have much different beliefs about death and the grieving process. Most folks are big on funerals, viewing the deceased in a casket, making a big deal, crying, wailing, etc. I can understand a bit of emotion tied to the loss of a loved one, it’s happened to me; however, I sometimes wonder if I am more comfortable in my faith because I look at death (of others) as a release from the burdens of this life, a victory which none of us living can truly understand. For me, a funeral is a celebration of life, not death.

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I’ve just finished my Research and Writing course at Whitworth tonight. During our last night, our instructor took some time with us individually to solicit feedback about class, and to give us personalized feedback about her impressions of our writing. I found what she had to say enlightening and that I’m not really what I write, when I write for class.

I’m not really into writing essays. It probably goes back to that “think too much” thing, and the “test anxiety” I’ve had in the past. Here I am writing freely and coming through pretty clear, but when writing an essay, I seem to start “not being myself.” Subconsciously, I think I knew that was going on, but I think it took someone I respected, like my class instructor, to tell me what was really happening and make me see it up close.

Part of our class was spent on our own time posting messages to a discussion board. I did this with quite some zeal. I felt I had a lot of experience that I could relate, and in many discussions I felt I had something to say. My on line writing for the class was read by the instructor and gave her a good impression of who I was through my writing. Unfortunately when she started reading my essays, she started to wonder who had written them because they didn’t seem to be written by the same person.

The point she was making, was that my essay writing was very different than my personal writing. She was encouraging me to try and figure out why I was being different, and to try and overcome that difference so that more of “me” was coming out in my essays. I found it to be some pretty interesting feedback and we talked for a while, with me “analyzing” like I tend to do which was probably the wrong thing to do.

I’m sure my essay writing is stilted, because when writing papers outside of just personal expression, I tend to write in a technical fashion. Hmm, seems as though I’ve transferred that to my essay writing, and I need to stop. As I’m writing this, the words are coming freely and without much “pre-thought” to it. This is the kind of thing I need to bring to my essays. So from now on, I need to keep writing in my blog here, and when I do writing for class, I need to try and write in a similar fashion that I do here.

I think it was very valuable feedback, as I continue to work toward my degree and will be doing a lot of writing in the next two years. I’m a bit embarrassed about it all really, and I do need to concentrate on it more in the future, or perhaps I need to -not- think about it so much and just try to “be myself” when I write for class.

I need to get “me” into my essay writing, wish me luck.

Asa Jay

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How does a person take a critical look at who they are? I don’t really know the answer to that, but the class I’m taking is sure causing me to think. As I continue to read the essays for our first week, I find myself being challenged to evaluate who I am, against what has been written.

Each essay is drawn in a different style; one is an interview, another is from a journalist, another written as a background piece on the person writing it. Although the styles have not provided anything new, the content in each has caused me to think more about my own reactions, to what I have read. Each essay has given me insight into other peoples attitudes, backgrounds, and personalities. When compared against my own ideals, it’s caused me to take a more critical look at myself; a more critical look at who I am.

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Copyright 2014, Asa Jay Laughton