what would you do if I sang out of tune...

...would you stand up and walk out on me? Sorry blogging has been so sporadic this summer (not like you care). But I was involved in two courses--a two week history of astronomy and astronomers from Copernicus to Newton, and a seven-week German translation intensive. The German class concluded yesterday with our translation exam--a 600-word academic essay in German that we were supposed to translate into English. I'd like to say that given the number of hours I spent studying and the help that I received from Dan (who took the test last year), Simeon (a fluent German speaker), and Dan's magic German-reading pen "Quicktionary II" that I crushed the exam. But in fact the exact opposite occurred. I was amazed at how difficult the test was. I knew maybe 1/4 of the minimum 400 words necessary to pass. Being forced to pass two language exams having had almost no language training since 1992 (junior Spanish) was a primary reason why I feared attempting grad school again. And even though I enjoyed this summer's course, I was more than a little anxious about the exam this week. When I actually got the test, I felt physically ill. (Again, something I haven't felt since the last time I took a language.) I'm not sure if you've looked at a lot of German before, but those crazy people smash words together until they're f'king sentences long. So if you don't get the main noun--that ominously large word--you're not going to get the rest of it. Ugh. Thank God I passed. I was so convinced that I failed that when I received the email from the prof letting me know my status I almost deleted it perfunctorily. So now I get vacation, two weeks of it, during which time I will be reading books for classes I will start at the end of the month. At least I won't be studying German. It's really an irony that academics are thought to have "summer vacation" like other students. We have to work nearly as much during the summer as during the year, with the chimera of vacation always looming out there, taunting us. So we have to work but feel like we're "owed" vacation. I'm not complaining, just observing. Okay, see you in a couple of weeks. Try not to start any major armed conflicts in third-world countries while I'm gone. [note to self: self, write about McKibben article, what I did on summer vacation, Noll's book and what I'm learning about by being in a denominational church, community lite, etc....]


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