Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I signed my contract...

I completed my Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) late for the 2010-2011 academic year. It was supposed to be done around February. I didn't do mine until sometime in July. As a result, I expected that cause some small problems with receiving financial aid on time from Concord.

Shortly after the semester started, I went to the financial aid office to see if anything had come through. I was given an odd answer - "It looks like we've received it, but there's nothing here. I'll make a note of this." I come back a week later and I find out that the problem is that I'm on Financial Aid Suspension.

Basically, that means I've fucked up so badly that they're not going to give me money. It's happened once before - I filled out a form to get an exception, with the requirement being that I work hard and get a certain GPA. That was a couple years ago. I was doing well - somewhat - until last fall. The fall 2009 semester was my last before I took that break in the spring. And, now I'm back.

This time, I'm told that instead of filing a request for an appeal, I have to meet with the Academic Success Center and fill out a contract. I wasn't sure what that meant, but I went and did it. It was an interesting experience, to say the least.

I walk into the office and see a lady. I don't remember her name, but it sounds foreign-ish. Something with a "Z." She seems annoyed that I'm telling her I need to sign my contract to get off financial aid suspension. She looks around for a couple other people before saying, "I guess I'll do it with you." Gotta love her enthusiasm.

We go to a room and she hands me a paper with a bunch of stuff on it that is labled "Contract for Academic Success." Basically, you fill it out saying why you did poorly last semester, then sign it saying you'll do better.

She started talking to me about this stuff, when Eric Lopez popped his head in the office. She then had Eric finish going over the contract with me. This is where I worry about certain aspects of this program. For those who don't know him, Eric is a student at Concord. A fellow student, who now knows how bad of a student I am.

Personally, I'm not worried about that. I've been very open about my shortcomings as a student in the past. In fact, I wrote a newspaper column about it last year. I had a lot of people tell me they liked it. But, suppose I was worried about that. He typed in my social security number and found out that my GPA last fall was 1.2 and that my cumulative GPA is 2.01.

Obviously, I don't care that he knows that. Everybody knows it now. But, suppose somebody wasn't as open about that information as me. I could see the student involvement being troubling for some people.

The thing that I don't like about this is that it makes me feel like a little kid. I now have to meet every Wednesday at 11 a.m. and give a "status update" or something about how I'm doing. I was also given file folders to keep all my school work and syllabi in. You know, kind of like the file folders I already keep that stuff in.

But, I guess I can't complain about this. I kind of put myself in this position by doing so horribly in classes over the years. I don't know, we'll see what happens. Maybe it'll help me. I'll keep everybody updated.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sept. 22, Student Government Association meeting

I have a night class that meets every Wednesday at 4 p.m. That has stopped me from attending Student Government Association meetings this semester. Wednesday, Sept. 22, I did not have to attend class and decided to head to the State Room and see what the SGA was up to.

For a little background, I have attended Concord since the 2004-2005 school year. Yeah, I know. Crazy. I'm a seventh-year student. I was a member of Concord's newspaper staff, The Concordian, from 2004-2008 (with one extra semester in 2009). I held several positions on the staff, ultimately becoming Editor-in-Chief. During those four years on the newspaper staff, I regularly covered the SGA. After leaving the newspaper staff, I continued to cover the SGA in my blog. To see some examples of that, click here, click here, click here, & click here.

One thing I was very interested in was seeing Matt Belcher as SGA President. I've seen him develop in the SGA, starting with that whole Interim-VP deal a few years back, then becoming Business Manager, and then ultimately being elected President. It was cool to see him in charge. Also, it was cool to see Dustin Blankenship back in the SGA. He had been absent for a few years before running for Vice President last semester and winning.

I sat in the meeting and sent out several tweets (http://twitter.com/chris_slater). I'll post those below, with some form of commentary at the end.

* * *

Sitting in the State Room, waiting for the Student Government Association meeting to begin. We'll see how this goes...

Last year, CU library used just under 500,000 sheets of paper, according to library director Dr. Stephen Rowe.

Discussion of possibly instituting a small charge to print. Rowe said he would not implement a change w/o SGA input.

Today is when organizational budgets get revealed. Should be a fun SGA meeting.

Safety committee discussed lighting on campus. That's about all this committee has ever discussed.

I'm not sure who a lot of the people in the room are. Several new SGA members. There are still several I do recognize.

Discussing whether or not non-voting SGA members can co-chair a committee by himself, or whether a voting co-chair needs to be added.

Not sure why that's an issue. I'm going to give that some thought...

People still aren't sure how to properly use a "point of information." Maybe one day... #robertsrulesoforder

"We had a very successful budget meeting last Monday night." - Adam Pauley, SGA Business Manager

"I've held several positions in SGA." I don't know why people use that as a qualification - what if you did poorly in all those positions?

Discussing tailgating at the Homecoming game. It used to be allowed & not a big deal, but was banned several years ago.

Tailgating was banned for a couple years & has now been back on a limited basis for a few years.

Did Concord go trayless in the cafeteria? When did that happen? Why hasn't the newspaper covered it?

I like how the SGA discusses stuff during the meeting that should be brought up in committees.

"Going green" is a joke & nothing more than a buzz word. Conservation should be more than just a fad.

That 2-week appointment deal everybody thought was a great idea a couple years ago has come back to bite them...

... The SGA is voting to suspend that bylaw for a week. I still don't understand why they thought it was such a good idea 2 years ago.

I wish there were more informed voters in the SGA. Just changing an amendment on a whim because somebody suggested it. Not smart.

A commuter senator left to become a justice. New c.s. candidate cannot make interview time....

President is torn b/c bylaws state he has to interview all candidates & must fill a vacancy within 2 weeks...

Discussing which bylaw to suspend - that he must interview all candidates or the time limit.

President Belcher wants to suspend the 2-week time limit. Senator Kiwa Nadas is main proponent of suspending interview process.

Motion to suspend interview aspect failed. Motion to suspend 2-week timeline is in discussion.

Motion to suspend the 2-week time limit bylaw for one week passed.

My first & likely last SGA meeting of the semester is over. I'm not missing anything...

* * *

There are the tweets from the meeting. Recent Concord graduate Mike Mann must have seen my tweets, as he sent the following tweet shortly after the meeting ended - "I will never miss the horrible cliques or messy way the concord sga was ran."

A couple thoughts:

I'm not sure about why their is the thought that the committees need to have a voting member as chair/co-chair. Committees do all of their work outside of the meeting and only provide a report during the actual meeting, when voting is necessary. If anybody has an answer, that would be greatly appreciated. I don't know if I'm over-thinking it or maybe under-thinking it. I don't know if this makes perfect sense or no sense.

The SGA ran into a bylaw snafu at the meeting, as two bylaws got in the way of each other and one had to be suspended. The SGA President has to appoint somebody to fill a vacancy after two weeks. The SGA President also has to interview every applicant. The SGA President couldn't get an interview scheduled with a candidate before the two-week period was up. So, something had to be suspended there.

For these two bylaws, you can look back to the term of former SGA President Wes Prince. He left a position vacant for most of a semester and also gave positions to people without interviewing them. Neither one of those things went over well.

I'm not sure who this intersection of bylaws should fall on. I guess the SGA Affairs committee. I believe they handle constitution and bylaw issues. That committee should look into a way that the SGA can have both of those bylaws without having to suspend either one again. Perhaps something like a line saying that if an interview cannot be scheduled within the two-week period that their application is rescinded.

The SGA budget was announced during the meeting. All student groups get their money from the SGA, who gets its money from student fees. That's why it's important to keep up with the SGA. All Concord students give them somewhere in the neighborhood of $20.

Nineteen groups/organizations requested $25,091.21 and $13,905.13 was given out. Phi Alpha Delta was originally given a full allocation of $1,263.50 but it was taken away after they did not meet requirements.

Allocations are below:

Roth Walk/Run requested $1,198.00 and received a zero allocation.
Banned Book Week requested $995.00 and received $555.00.
Self Defense requested $2,500.00 and received a full allocation.
Eco Club requested $300.00 and received a full allocation.
History Club requested $130.81 and received a full allocation.
Circle K requested $600.00 and received a full allocation.
Alpha Sigma Tau requested $553.00 and received a full allocation.
Elite Dance requested $1,116.00 and received $816.00.
CU United requested $1,200.00 and received a full allocation.
Film Society requested $1,000.00 and received a full allocation.
Pi Kappa Phi requested $2,088.58 and received $1,500.00.
Alpha Sigma Alpha requested $544.32 and received a full allocation.
Student Activities Committee requested $566.00 and received a zero allocation.
Cu Serve requested $1,535.60 and received $1,055.60.
Student Support Services requested $8,000.00 and received $2,000.00.
Baptist Campus Ministries requested $300.40 and received a full allocation.
Sign Room requested $500.00 and received a full allocation.
Game room requested $700.00 and received a full allocation.

The budgets were determined by the Budgetary committee, which was led by Business Manager Adam Pauley and consisted of: John Fair, Josh Hannah, Julie Meikle, Kiwa Nadas, Jason Sines, Spencer Stevens, and Ginny V.

Also, as a final note, it was announced that Board of Governors representative Josh Lawson was appointed chair of the Higher Education Policy Commission State Advisory Council of Students. That's a pretty big deal. Hopefully you'll read something about it in The Concordian in the next coming weeks.

* * *

That's all for now. Like, probably literally all for now. If another week of my night class is canceled at some point this semester I might stop back and sit through another meeting. If not, hopefully there will be increased SGA coverage in The Concordian. They're doing a decent job of it so far.

Comments, criticism, etc... is welcome. Anonymous comments are allowed. Keep them semi-relevant and mildly profanity-free.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

14 - "Redundant," Green Day

Green Day makes their second of three appearances on the top 50 iTunes list with "Redundant." Their first showed up at number 40 with "Hitchin' a Ride," and they'll finish out in the list at number 7. You'll figure out what that one is soon enough.

"Redundant" is a fun song to listen to. It's got a nice beat and there's just something about Billie Joe Armstrong's voice that I like. The content of the song is pretty deep. It's about being in a redundant relationship. It seems like it has a happy tone to it, though. He's still in love, despite living in repetition.

15 - "Polly," Nirvana

Number 15 in my list of the top 50 most-played songs in my iTunes is probably the most serious song of Nirvana's career. It's one of the few songs that's not about Kurt Cobain's messed up life. It's written about the true story a teenage girl who was kidnapped, raped, and tortured, before she ultimately escaped her captor.

Musically, this is one of the only songs to appear on one of Nirvana's studio albums that is acoustic. "Polly" was recorded about 3 or 4 years before their successful "Unplugged" acoustic performance.

Stylistically, "Polly" is a big shift from what people are used to from Nirvana. I think that's partly due to the serious nature of the song. The message of this song would be lost if there were a lot of distortion and disjointed vocals.

As I've mentioned in a few previous posts about Nirvana, they were a talented band that didn't always get the recognition they deserved. This is another song that showed that they were more than just a loud, generic grunge band.

16 - "Better Man," Pearl Jam

One of the keys to being a success in the music industry is to write songs that are universal. Pearl Jam's "Better Man" is one of those songs. This is something that most people can relate to personally, or know somebody who can. It's a song about a woman who is resigned to the fact that she's stuck in her current relationship - "She lies and says she's in love with him, can't find a better man."

During his performance on MTV's "Unplugged" concert series, lead singer Eddie Vedder said that he wrote the song about his mother's marriage to his step-father.

And, of course, Pearl Jam is just a great band. I think it's hard to find a song of theirs that doesn't sound good. They're one of the most consistent bands around.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

17 - "Death of a Martian," Red Hot Chili Peppers

Number 17 on the list of the top 50 most-played songs on my computer's iTunes is the fifth appearance from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. "Death of a Martian" is the final song from RHCP's 2005 Stadium Arcadium double album.

In an earlier entry featuring RHCP, I wrote that their songs are usually about one of two (or both) things - sex and drugs. This song is one of the few exceptions. Lead singer Anthony Keidis wrote this song about the death of bass player Flea's dog, Martian. Keidis also mentions Flea's daughter, Clara, in the song.

The music in this song is very good as well. The drums catch your attention to start the song, and the guitar work throughout the track is really trippy. John Frusciante is a really underrated guitar player. In addition to that, he's an underrated vocalist as well, as he sings backup on this song and several others on Stadium Arcadium.

The most interesing part of the song to me, and likely the reason it's so high on my most-played list, is the spoken-word rap that Keidis ends "Death of a Martian" with. It's so random and so odd that you need to listen to it multiple times to understand it.

This song is a great ending to a great album.

I need to grow up...

A funny story I wanted to share:

I was sitting in my journalism night class earlier. It's called "High School Publication," and is a class about how to teach journalism to high school students. It's more of a class for education majors, as opposed to me, but I think it's a cool class.

Since most of the education majors don't have a lot of journalism experience, the professor is mostly just going over the basics. She knows me and occasionally uses me as an example in the class - "Chris knows what I'm talking about, right?" stuff like that.

She was talking about problems with running into having a story that is too short. She was using technical terms. Terms that I, as a 24-year-old adult with some journalism experience, knew. For some reason, I was the only person in the class to have the most juvenile response to them.

"What do you do when you have six inches, but you only have five and a half to fill it with? You've gotta fill that hole with another half an inch. Chris, I see you smiling and giggling, have you run into this before?"

I need to grow up...

18 - "Pruno," Stone Temple Pilots

Some of my favorite songs are about drug addiction and problems of that nature. I enjoy seeing the creative ways musicians can write about the subject. "Pruno," by Stone Temple Pilots, is one of those songs. Lead singer Scott Weiland has been very open about his drug problems in the past. It's well-known that he was a very heavy drug user. He's written several songs about that. This is one of my favorites.

Trivia: "Pruno" is the term for wine made in prison.

19 - "The Unforgiven II," Metallica

Number 19 on my list of the top 50 most-played songs on my computer's iTunes is Metallica's "The Unforgiven II," from their Re-Load album. Last summer, I got into a bit of a Metallica kick, specificially their Load and Re-Load albums, which caused a lot of their songs to be high on the list. As I've explained in previous posts, this list isn't of my favorite songs, it's just of songs I've listened to more than others.

With that said, though, I do enjoy this song. So far, this is song is part of a trilogy, spanning three albums. The first song, "The Unforgiven," appeared on Metallica's breakthrough self-titled "Black Album," and the latest, "The Unforgiven III," is on their most-recent album, 2008's Death Magnetic.

I enjoy a good anthemic, pounding song, and that's what "The Unforgiven II" is.

Monday, September 13, 2010

20 - "Serve the Servants," Nirvana

"Serve the Servants" was the opening track off of Nirvana's In Utero album, the follow-up to their hugely succesful Nevermind disk. This song is partly about what the success of what Nevermind has done to Kurt Cobain. "Serve the Servants" has a bitter tone to it, as success wasn't great to him.

If you want to try and get into Cobain's head a little bit, check out this song and most of the album. Nevermind dealt with most of his problems with life and growing up, while In Utero is a very interesting take on fame and the problems that he's facing. In this song, he sings about problems with the media - the "witch hunt" line is about their obsession with Courtney Love, while "that legendary divorce is such a bore" is him noting that people put too much stock in the fact that his parents divorced when he was younger.

One of the constant negative comments about Nevermind was how "polished" and "clean" it sounds. With In Utero, the band tried hard to create a very raw, dirty-sounding album, and they did that for the most part. This song sort of kicks in, and the rest of the album is like that as well.

This is Nirvana's third song (45, 23) to be featured in the countdown of the 50 most-played songs on my iTunes. They appear one more time before all is said and done.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Things I hate about college...

There's a lot of stuff that I like about college. But, that's not what I want to talk about right now. As we all know by now, I didn't attend college last semester. I got out of the groove of college and that world. Being back for almost a month now, I've gotten reaquainted with the college world. I remember all of the stuff I like. I also, sadly, am remembering all of the stuff I don't like about college.

Here are two things I absolutely cannot stand about college.

People who talk to hear themselves talk. Everybody has one of those classes with that person. You know, the one who feels the need to interject his or her opinion after every point the professor makes.

What's even worse than those people are the ones who think they know more than the professor. I have a history class right now. There's some girl in there who seems like she's glued to the Discovery channel, judging by what comes out of her mouth.

We were shown a picture in class the other day. A student asked a question about a detail. The professor wasn't sure. The girl chimed in, "Well, actually, here's the reason for..."

It would be one thing to know a lot about one area. She started doing this when we were talking about Egypt. If she had said something like, "Well, I know a lot about Egypt," that would be different. But, now we're talking about China and she's still doing it.

She has such an egotistical tone to her when she speaks that it bugs me.

Another thing I dislike about college is the absurd amount of rhetorical questions that professors ask. Rhetorical questions insult my intelligence. One every now and then to make a point is one thing. But, to ask things that so obviously don't need an answer, it just bothers me.

As I've grown up a little bit and matured a little bit, I can realize how stupid this is, but I used to quit going to classes if I didn't like them. I didn't like the way the professor taught, so I just figured I'd take it later. Do you know what happens with that? You wind up being a 24-year-old, seventh-year college student.

It seems like such lazy teaching for a professor to lecture about something and then ask about it. To teach a subject for half an hour, then ask a question about it irks me.

A professor will lecture for half an hour, then give an example of something and say, "Why do you think that is?" I'm just sitting there shaking my head, thinking to myself, "Because of what you just fucking said 10 minutes ago!"

A personal example involved me earlier this week. I was in class with Dr. Corey Williams. He's also my academic advisor. He's a good professor. I like him. He just threw out a rhetorical question to me and I purposely tried to mislead him to see how important my answer was.

We were talking about careers and things that people need to be succesful in their careers. Dr. Williams first asked somebody what they wanted to do with their career and the guy said "sports agent." Dr. Williams then talked for a minute about what one needs to be a succesful sports agent. Then, perhaps realizing that he didn't know a lot about that, he looked at me.

"Chris, what do you want to accomplish in life?"

I knew where he was going with this, and that he was just using me to set up his next point. So, I said, "I'm not sure."

Without missing a beat, Dr. Williams responds, "What does it take to be a succesful journalist?"

It's just me, but I think college would be a lot easier if every class just had people sitting there and a professor talking. I don't like student interaction. I don't like dumb questions. I don't like hearing from fellow students who need an ego boost.

I don't like a lot more about college, but I feel like this is enough for now.

Friday, September 3, 2010

TNA Reaction - Interesting concept, great content

Total Nonstop Action wrestling was formed in 2002, by wrestler Jeff Jarrett and Jerry Jarrett, his father and famed wrestling promoter. Fast forward eight years: Jerry Jarrett is no longer with the company and Jeff is now a minority owner. The company is run by Dixie Carter, who came on board a few years ago.

A lot of changes have been made to TNA since then, some positive and some negative. One of the most positive changes to be made to TNA is the introduction of a new series, called "Reaction." It's only a few weeks old, but if it catches on, this has the potential to revolutionize how professional wrestling is presented.

"Reaction" is a reality-based wrestling program. The first 8 minutes of the most recent show is embedded above. The concept is that they follow the wrestlers around after the show ends, getting their reaction to what just happened. The "show" is over, and the "reality" begins. For the most part, the wrestlers are still in character. It's a unique addition to TNA's main show, "iMPACT."

"Reaction" airs every Thursday at 11 p.m. on SpikeTV, immediately following "iMPACT," which airs 9-11 p.m.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

21 - "Bullet With Butterfly Wings," Smashing Pumpkins

Despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage. Truer words have never been spoken. "Bullet With Butterfly Wings," is an anthem of sorts for an angst-ridden generation. You're so pissed off at the world, but there's nothing you can do. You hate your job, but you can't quit it. You hate your life, but you can't leave it.

The world is a vampire. He's saying that life sucks sometimes and drains away at you. This song sums up the feelings of just about anybody at any point in his or her life. No matter who you are, you've felt like this. Hopefully not for a long period of time, but it happens.

On top of the message being delivered, this song just has a great beat to it. The guitars build up to the chorus, on top of the pounding drums. Sometimes a song just works, and this one does. This is one of the classics from that mid-90s, post grunge alternative rock landscape.

You can check out lead singer Billy Corgan's twitter account by clicking here. Interesting fact (for some...), Corgan is a huge fan of professional wrestling. The Smashing Pumpkins wrote an original song for use on a TNA pay per view a few years ago. In addition to that, "Bullet With Butterfly Wings" was used as the theme for TNA's "Lockdown: 2009" pay per view. If you're into that kind of stuff, click here to watch a promo video for the event. All the matches took place inside a steel cage, which gives new meaning to the "rat in a cage" line.

And, just as a bonus, click here to listen to a clip of the Foo Fighters covering this song. I'm not sure if it's live or in the studio, but it's just them goofing off with the chorus. It's pretty funny.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

22 - "Glide," Stone Temple Pilots

Number 22 in my list is my all-time favorite Stone Temple Pilots song, "Glide." I'm not really sure what it is about this song, but I enjoy it a lot. Give it a listen, it's pretty good.