Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Battling Homesickness

"Man, it's so great to be on my own at college!"

"I love this place! I never want to go home again!"

"They can close the dorms over winter break, but they'll have to lock me up inside 'em!"

We've all said these things, sure, but what we're thinking is much different:

"This place sucks! I want to be somewhere where my room is bigger than a broom closet!"

"These nights are too damn quiet for me; get me back to where you can't go an hour without a train whistling or a dog barking or a drive-by!"

"My roommate eats all my food, the dorm is always too cold, there's never any place or time to just sit and think peacefully, I can't take a shower without a line forming behind me; dear Lord, get me out of here!"

You can deny it as much as you want, but inside you know the truth: you're homesick. It may not be a constant issue, but it's something that everyone goes through every now and then whether they want to or not. So here's another patented self-help list from ZimmyTech (tm) to help stave away those Home Sweet Home (image, by the way, is courtesy of this site) Blues:
  • Think about everything you don't like about home. Maybe the water in the shower is a little too cold. Maybe the neighborhood is always embroiled in gang wars. Just whatever little irritating thing that only gets at you when you're home. Reinforcing the negative like this will help you focus on the positive of being away.
  • Keep pictures of your family handy. Anytime you get a little blue, just pull it up and think about how much better off they are without your expensive fanny at home sucking up all their food and water. You want your family to be happy, don't you?
  • Make the most of your visits. Many people make regular trips home over the course of the semester. If you're one of these people, spend time with your family while you're there and make the most of your stay so the wait until the next one will be less drawn-out.
  • Watch a few episodes of The Brady Bunch and imagine you're going home to that family. The mere thought should be enough to make you never want to leave campus again.


Let's talk for a second about something that a lot of us have to put up with: commuting (picture courtesy of this site). Commuting is one of those simple little things that just about everyone has to put up with sooner or later, be it for work, school, or whatever. It's not as frustrating as online homework, but it's still not very enjoyable. It's just one of those little irritants that you just have to withstand every now and then.

We all know the procedure: get in car, drive to destination, try not to lose mind in process. I don't know if it's like this for other people, but I absolutely hate driving. Hate. And every time I have to commute, I feel a little bit of myself slipping away ever steadily into the gaping maw of insanity. To that end, I have composed a short list of simple activities you can enact to try to make those commuting hours as bearable as possible; enjoy!
  • Play "Spot the Tree"; every time you see a tree, you scream. With so many trees around here, you'll be so hoarse that you won't even care about that boring commute any more!
  • Wave at the people who pass you in the opposite direction. Give yourself a point for everyone who waves back. Works best for carpools of three or more.
  • Count the reflective bumps on the road. See how many are still there and how many have come unglued. You'll be so nauseatingly sick of this game that you won't be able to contain your excitement to reach your destination!
  • Just turn on the damn radio. Maybe you'll get lucky and a station will play I Heard it Through the Grapevine, and a little CCR can only make your day better

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Scourge of Online Homework

Hey, Kids! You know what time it is? That's right! It's time for...

YOU KNOW WHAT TICKS ME OFF?! Online Homework Assignments.

Have you ever had to put up with these things? If you're one of the lucky ones who said "no," then allow me to expound upon this scourge that is slowly infesting every school in the developed world.

I just spent my evening working on some homework for my College Algebra class. This is a fairly typical occurrence that happens about once or twice a week for me, and every time I do it I walk away from the monitor feeling completely drained and defeated. The agony doesn't stem from the difficulty of the work though, dear reader; oh, how I wish it did! No, what weighs heavily on old Zimmy's noggin is the sheer incredulity I feel that such a process could even exist!

Remember being in elementary school and how you would always get assignments to do in your book or on a sheet of notebook paper? Sure, you thought it was annoying then, but once the Electronic Age took full swing, those days were a thing of the past. Gone is the simple idea of writing on a sheet of paper and turning it in the next day. Instead we have this... this ABOMINATION UNTO ACADEMIA proliferated through such soulless sites such as this for the express purpose of making our lives as students all the more miserable. What's the problem with online assignments you ask? WELL WHERE SHOULD I FUNKING START?!

To begin with, it's not free. In order to get the access code to allow me to start up an account at my class's homework site, I had to plunk down $75 for a kit that had the information. You read that. That wasn't a typo. Seventy-five mother-funking dollars for a six-character password. I've bought designer shoes cheaper than that. When I realized that not only would I have to pay to do my homework, but pay that much, my blood literally boiled. Steam flowed through my veins.

Next is the accessibility. We live in an age where a reliable internet connection is pretty much essential to daily life. What classes like these don't realize is that even now not everyone has direct access to a reliable internet access point. Myself included. The connection at my house crapped out months ago and the one in my dorm is so shoddy it may as well not exist. I do all my net-based work in the school library, which means my access is limited. These assignments are completely dependent on having a connection, and if you don't have access to one by the time the deadline hits, you're just boned! You didn't have to worry about that from a textbook! You get an assignment, you do it, you turn it in. But with this piece-of-scat planning every single assignment carries a calculated risk of incompletion.

Finally, and this is what really gets to me, is that it's just excessive. There was never anything wrong with just doing work out of a textbook. But that's just the age we live in. People communicate with each other across the planet every day thanks to wireless technology. People download games and movies and stupid app after stupid app for their cell phones when all they should need is just a phone. We live in an age of electronic decadence where the simple way of things is tossed aside in favor of something needlessly complicated all in the name of "progress." Hell, given enough time people will probably start trying to figure out how to piss electronically.

And that's what ticks me off.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sites, Listservs, Etc.

Here's the material for the 10/19/09 Assignment


Switch Electronic Arts Journal

Illuminating the Renaissance


Arts list run by Mike.Lopinto at usm.edu

RSS Feed

Artshow.com – Drawing and Colored Pencils Workshop

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Art Museum Exhibit Closing Today

The latest exhibit in the campus art museum is closing its doors today after a lengthy showing. As an art major - and just someone who enjoys art in general - I felt it was my duty to pay tribute to it somehow.

The subject matter of the exhibit is Gulf Coast artists. The spotlight is definitely on Walter Inglis Anderson (pictured right courtesy of Mississippi Writers and Musicians), whose work pretty much everyone is familiar with. Anderson seems to be a big name here in Mississippi; he's to art what Elvis is to music down here, and what William Faulkner is to writing. We love him for what he's done and also because he's expanded his name beyond the state borders to an international level. While I do love his work, there are also plenty of other great artists on display, and they're the ones that make the exhibit really worthwhile.

The other figures are George Ohr, Richmond Barthe, and Dusti Bonge. Ohr, the "Mad Potter" of Biloxi, is almost as famous as Anderson, but tends to get the short end of the stick; my guess is because of his eccentricity. Ohr was a strange man. He had a ridiculous handlebar mustache, his workshop looked like something out of the Universal Pictures monster cycle with all the dilapidation and Tesla Coils coming off, and he once actually entered a parade dressed as Christ carrying the cross as a symbol of his own social alienation. What's most interesting about Ohr, though, is his work: his pots (one pictured to the right, courtesy of Antiques and the Arts Online) look as though they've been built up and promptly smashed. The beauty in this is that all of them have been painstakingly crafted to look this way on purpose. All of George Ohr's work has this remarkably odd and surreal, maddening quality to it, and just looking at it will probably drive you that much closer to insanity. I can't think of a nobler pursuit.

Richmond Barthe specializes in powerful sculptures that display the struggles faced by African Americans in the early 20th Century, and all of them have a poignant grasp: they're weary and drained, but hopeful and strong-willed. Dusti Bonge work is more in line with abstract surrealism, constructing bizarre images with dreamlike qualities.

This particular exhibit has sure been an interesting one. With my final sentence, I just want to issue this exhibit a farewell salute and raise my glass to the inevitability of the next one.

De Grummond Children's Collection

I thought it was high time to talk about the De Grummond Collection in Cook Library, a very good exhibit to check out if you're ever in the area. For those of you who may be unaware, the De Grummond Collection is an exhibit of children's books both contemporary and dating way back to classics from before World War II. The highlight of the exhibit is an assortment of original illustrations from the creators of the Curious George series. What I found most interesting was a piece that showed off multiple versions of the same page in various stages of development from the rough sketch to the editor's revisions to the colored format to the complete version that was published. Taking a look at this exhibit is like being given an inoculation of pure nostalgia. Everyone and their mother has heard of Curious George and in all likelihood adored the books as a child. The other pieces in the exhibit are an interesting look at what child-oriented literature was like decades ago and offers a unique perspective on how far we've come as a society since. I give this exhibit the Zimmy Seal of Approval and highly recommend it. Go check it out.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

'64 Again: A Visit to the McCain Library Archives

The trip to the Special Archives on Wednesday was a really eye-opening experience. Having grown up in this fast-paced, technology-reliant, internet-obsessed world, the only thing I’ve ever had for reference on the 60s and other pre-90s periods were my parents, who – despite their firsthand experience in growing up – never really had much to offer visually. Wednesday’s trip changed that. The extensive collection of photographs, books, letter transcripts, et cetera gave me a good window to finally see firsthand just what life was like back during the meaty days of the post-World War II era. One thing that interested me in particular – as did pretty much everyone who saw it – was the old Miss Southern handbook for female students. Kids today complain about their parents if they don’t let them stay out past midnight, but they don’t realize just how lucky they have it. Back in ’64, you couldn’t as much as put your clothes on or choose which door to use to enter your dorm without some collegiate bureaucrat breathing down your neck. The restrictions were simply mindboggling, especially when you consider that they were around in 1964, well past the time when women were allowed to vote and were leaving colleges up north by the droves to bang on tambourines in the nude on some convent. Thinking about the way everyone reacted to the book makes me wonder about how people will react to our own time period decades from now. People will be on their moving sidewalks in their Flash Gordon nylon jumpsuits just laughing it up about how restrained life in 2009 was as they make their way to the public heroin den/tire center.