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The Shortest Day, Endings, Continuings and on to New Beginnings

(Melissa Williamson) Permanent link

    This was a very busy day. I had errands to run that had to be taken care of on a day when I wasn't working. There were things that needed to be gotten for the household that were just part of the ordinary day-to-day living like eggs and cheese and wondering if I needed to buy bread. It's just an example of what moms and dads do that may not be noticed by their children until it doesn't get done. A month ago when my knee was first sprained, I couldn't get out to the store easily and my kids would suddenly say “We're out of bread!” or “Why isn't there any peanut butter?” No, these things don't appear by magic or grow in the cupboards. It's the behind the scenes work that doesn't get noticed until it's not getting done. Or as the old song line has it “You don't miss the water 'til the well runs dry.”

.     There were also things that I had to get for Christmas like more ingredients to make chocolate fudge. I've only made one batch so far this year and a good bit of it was munched on by my teenagers. But I want to have some more to give to other members of the family when we see them tomorrow. It's a good thing a friend and I started out early today as things were getting more and more crowded as the morning went along. While my sprained knee is much improved, I was definitely feeling it as time went on.


    But in the back of my mind was the thought “This is Thursday. You have a blog to write.” Well, it's the end of the semester and this is my last one, I guess. I'll try hard to stifle the urge next week. But it got to be a habit and I think a good one to write something for this every week. Practicing is the way to master so many skills and writing is definitely one of them. I find myself editing papers or things for work as I write them, thinking “Ow, that's an awkward line.” or “No, don't use the same word twice in two sentences.”


      Thanks to Montgomery College for the opportunity to be a blogger. Thanks to my professors for their critiques of my writing. Thanks to you readers. I hope that everyone has very happy holidays and a good start to the spring semester wherever you may be. I'm going to finish with the last bit of Susan Cooper's poem “The Shortest Day” about the winter solstice, which happened this week, and the joy at the turning of the year.


 “...This Shortest Day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And now so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Welcome Yule!”


 And music





Goodbye for Now?

(Marcia Myers) Permanent link

As I sit here contemplating the semester, I really feel grateful for this awesome opportunity. The Disney College Program has been everything I'd hoped for and more. I've gained so many lifelong friends and skills that I can't see my life without this time. I hope that reading this blog has helped YOU or brought light into one day or another and maybe if you decide to take part in the College Program as well, this has been helpful. I think I really want to end this post with an important statement - This program is what you make it to be.

There are people who left within the first month, there are people who went against the rules and got terminated, there are those who didn't get along with their roommates, those who decided that they hated their job, people who didn't have enough money to stay and people who just got homesick. But if you make it through all of that and you have fun working here at the happiest place on earth I think you can gain a lot - as a professional, a student and most importantly - a person.

Maybe you'll see me around campus this next semester as I come back and I hope you've had as much fun reading as I've had writing! :)  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone!

Don't Think I'll Confess

(Besith Pineda) Permanent link

I began writing this post at the MC café (Rockville campus) after I had trekked my way back from South Building, where I turned in my final assignment for my EN109 class; a 10 minute walk that painted me with specks of white and pride. My semester is officially over.

I don’t think we take enough time to acknowledge the things we do right. On any given day, my thoughts circulate around how exhausting long days at work can be, customers testing my relatively short patience. School work is overwhelming. My family appropriately unappreciative. Born out of sheer survival instinct, I have grown into the habit of simply stopping. I ground myself, relax my shoulders and steal 30 seconds of air, taking into account the things I have accomplished, the things I’ve yet to get to, ordering them in my head in order of importance…and then I go. It’s the act of ceasing to exist for a little bit and coming back to life with a vengeance.

I did it.

This is me stopping for a little while to recognize that as far as the game of life is concerned, that thing where you pay your rent, buy your own food, navigate tricky business relationships, respond to a landlord, handle family expectations, manage 40 hour weeks and 9 credit hours, while maintaining some sort of safe and responsible social life… I did it.

And if you did it as well, then give yourself a huge tap on the back.

We did it.

And this, I suppose, is goodbye for now. Keeping up with this blog has been such an unbelievably rewarding experience, the feedback some of the most encouraging words I have ever been given.

My desire? That universal human yearning for connection; the mad hope that some other kid (or big kid) out there laughed at my fascination with Superman boxers, remembered the terrifyingly thrilling experience that moving out on your own is, was granted access into Montgomery College through the eyes of a student who found redemption there.

Don’t Think I’ll Confess, then, might become my new refuge. The title is heavy with irony, created during a time when my life was riddled with the same. Because what seems like a long time ago, when time was measured by the beats of an aching heart, I vowed to confess to everything. See you there.

In conclusion, never give up looking for the unicorns and have a restful break! 





8 things I did during Finals Week

(Sairam Nagulapalli) Permanent link

These are the things I did during Finals Week

  1. Grew a Finals Beard - Seems to kinda be a tradition. A lot of my friends from high school are updating about their Finals Beards through Facebook
  2. Walked out after 20 minutes (and predictably the first one to turn an exam in) - Being the nerd I am, this was so that I could study for my History and Lit exam
  3. Waited until the last possible minute to turn an exam in - Writing everything that's in your head is hard. Trick is to pick and choose the points that best illustrate your argument. This is something my High School teachers said would eventually become an issue (but conversely they loved my attention to detail)
  4. Freaked out the night before with rest of the Scholars - Group Chat on Facebook is a wonderfully cathartic experience!
  5. Meditated at some point to get a hold of myself - Replace "some point" with a few minutes before the test :)
  6. Wrote a 22 page take home Philosophy Exam (Take that IB Extended Essay!) - Took me 2 entire days but ultimately it was worth it!
  7. Wrote 8 essays in 1 day - Core, Music and Anthropology - Can you get Carpal Tunnel by writing too much? If so I might need a shoulder replacement
  8. Got motivated by the snow to finish an exam - SNOWWW!

Macklin Business Institute - MC Rockville's other Honors program

(Sairam Nagulapalli) Permanent link

Every time I visit the Montgomery College’s website, there’s almost always the ad for the Macklin Business Institute greeting me. MBI is Montgomery College, Rockville's other Honors program and obviously it's only for Business Majors. I was accepted to this too but ultimately choose the Montgomery Scholars because I was having second thoughts in majoring in Business. Plus the Cambridge trip for Scholars was enough to win me over.

Anyway, the MBI program is really great too - especially if you're set on Business. One of the best things about the program is the insistence on experiential learning. MBI students take turns in running the various aspects of the MBI Cafe (The Starbucks on campus!). There's the Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) that everyone participates in. This is essentially mixing Business principles and Community Service. MBI has won many regional competitions for SIFE! I've actually gone to many of the meetings and LOVE what they're doing!

Best of all Mr. Lang - the program's director - is a pretty cool guy. He remembered me (name, school and everything!) when I went to talk to him about participating in SIFE despite never speaking directly to one another!

Applications are due January 14 (same for Montgomery Scholars!). Definitely apply!



Snow, the end of the semester, hazardous cooking and music from the past.

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The semester is nearly over.

      I find that a bit hard to believe, but it's half-past December and that is definitely winter weather outside the window. That added some excitement to the day along with slippery roads. If the Montgomery County schools don't have a delayed opening time tomorrow I will be very surprised. The side streets have a coating of snow so they're slippery and a friend called to tell me that it took her about an hour to go 10 miles from about a mile from the Rockville campus to her house. Any bets on no/one hour/two hour delay for the public schools?

    Whatever happens tomorrow, it's going to be cold but I think that the wind is going to be down, so people won't turn into Popsicles just walking outside for a few minutes. For that matter, do they ever delay opening at any of the MC campuses? I've never had to know that with only having Distance Learning and evening classes.

    I enjoy my classes and I'm glad that I'm working to someday get a degree. But I'll admit that I'm looking forward to about a month off from school. The spring semester is going to be a busy one with another dyad class that is two evenings a week plus Saturday morning lab. So I'll be glad to have a bit of a rest. Not that there will be too much peace and quiet what with the children having their Christmas vacation and then starting up again after the Monday after New Years and all. Maybe once they're back in school I can get somethings organized and cleared out.

    I've really liked being part of the Student Bloggers program, too. It was sometimes a challenge to think of interesting things to write about (at least I hope that some of them were interesting.) But I know that there are older students with children attending MC and I think that it's a different kind of student life. Not better or anything like that. Just different from being 18 or 20 and taking day classes. I've tried to have some variety in the links and videos that I've put in to this blog.some of them weird and some that I liked or found inspiring.  Today I found one that is quite bizarre and as the man says “Don't try this at home.” Who'd have thought that cooking could be so hazardous?



Going from the ridiculous to the sublime this is a piece of music by a French composer Claude Debussy. It's a piano roll that was cut as the composer himself played the piece in 1913! I'd heard of things like this but I didn't know that some of them had survived. This way we can hear how a composer wanted his music played nearly 100 years later! I think this is very cool. I wonder how many other musicians were “recorded” in this way. This is "The Engulfed Cathedral" which comes from a French legend about a drowned city named Ys.


Winter Break Plans

(Sam Cameron) Permanent link

            With my first semester of college successfully under my belt, it is time at last for the much awaited semester break: an entire month of no classes, a luxury for which I have been jealous of my older brother for years. And now the boon is mine at last! I have made copious plans – so copious that I probably won’t be able to complete them all, but I’ll try anyway.


  1. Homework. Yes, I do have homework. But it’s easy. Read a few books (like All Quiet on the Western Front, which I’ve been meaning to read anyway.) And watch a few movies (Such as Apocalypse Now). I also need to do some research on The Congo (sometimes known as Zaire) for a project I have next semester.
  2. Yoga. School has been stressful. I really need to spend some time in peaceful introspection.
  3. Reading. This is not the same as homework. This is reading non-literary, genre fiction just because I want to. Though, since I plan to be a writer, I can actually call this “research”.
  4. Cleaning my room. Just about every year since I was 12, my New Years resolution has been to keep my room clean. It seldom works.
  5. Archery. I haven’t pulled out the bow and arrows in a while and I would really like to. I’ve been thinking I could use it as a meditative activity.
  6. Gardening. This seems like a weird choice of activity considering the frigid weather we’ve had lately, but I haven’t had time to fix up my plants for the impending winter. I’ll probably start by giving my strawberry plants a nice blanket of straw. (If they survived the snow).
  7. Hanging out with friends. I’ve been watching my high school friends writing back and forth to each other over a facebook message and it’s reminded me how much I miss them. I can’t wait to see them again. And I can’t wait to have time outside of school to hang with my MC pals to have all of the movie nights and trips to DC museums that we keep talking about.
  8. Writing. I have a couple of scripts I need to edit. An idea for a screen adaptation of a James Thurber story I’d like to tinker with. The deadline for submissions to MC’s literary magazine, The Red Jacket, is approaching and I’d like to submit work for that. I need to do research for online literary magazines that will accept previously unpublished authors so that I can bolster my writing resume (a big thank you to the blog for helping me with that too, by the way!) But my most important goal for this winter break:




            My last complete draft was three years ago and I really want to start editing a complete piece and sending it off so it can be rejected a million times before becoming an international bestseller. I’ve got five weeks. I can do it. (Granted, I gave myself ten weeks to do it over the summer and then was bombarded by the worst writers bloc ever. But unless I have faith in myself, this book will spend the rest of its life on my desktop collecting cyber-dust.)

            Clap your hands if you believe in novelists, and enjoy your break. 

To All the Haters

(Brittany Sullivan) Permanent link

 As an aspiring journalist and broadcaster I understand the gravity that words can carry. That is why I love to read and write, because you are able to grasp such detail that cannot be conveyed in spoken language. However, I learned at a very young age that words also have the ability to hurt and tear someone apart. In journalism there are the facts, and then there are the opinions. “The Montgomery College Students Bloggers Program” asks us to write about our “experiences as Montgomery College students, both inside and outside the classroom. Learn about the ups, the downs, and just about everything in between that makes being a student at the College so uniquely life changing—and challenging.” On this blog I have shared stories about my summer job, my first week observations of MC, failed pick-up lines, and dressing for success. While I know that a few of my blogs may be very opinionated, others are completely harmless and sarcastic.

            Online bullying is a growing epidemic in this country because people feel that they have unbounded power hiding behind a computer screen. This is a platform that has affected me, and I am very passionate about. While I feel that it is important for children and teens to learn to deal with conflict, it has gotten to the point where people are saying extremely malicious things for no reason besides self-gratification. I was fortunate enough to take many lessons from the bullying I experienced; however, others are now turning to drastic measures to stop the abuse. Despite my thick skin, comments such as these still do hurt:

-       “Dealing with people requires more than beauty.”

-       “Step out of your rich white girl shoes”

-       “Some of these kids have gone from private school to private school in Montgomery County throughout their whole lives...I'm not saying I feel sorry for her, just that she's very young and has obviously led a fairly sheltered life.”

-       “there is no place in any blog, especially on a COLLEGE website of all places, for these types of woe-is-me white-whines.”

-       “Oh christ, who cares. You're given a blog and these are the "injustices" you've chosen to write about?”

-       “Here's everyone at MC hoping that your greatest efforts get you further next time.”

I am very thankful to those of you who read my blog and wrote encouraging or helpful comments. For those of you who chose to take an alternative route, I hope that you think about what you write. Attacking people for their opinion in a malicious, rude, and condescending manner will get you nowhere in life and may end up doing more damage than you realize.

Here is a PSA from one of my role models Ellen DeGeneres. Feel free to share it.


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Here are eight things I learned about life. Some of these things you all may already know...but we all learn at different speeds and I have FINALLY seen the "light".

1. People will lie to you about any and everything.

2. You either know everything about nothing, or nothing about everything.

3. "Friends" come and go.

4. Everything happens for a reason.

5.Misery loves company

6. 'Love' loves no one.

7. We are the only ones who can make ourselves happy, sad or angry.

8. Life is beyond unfair

Now I want to try something different. You all always read what I I want to read what you have to say. I would like for eight people to comment on this blog. I want each person to read  and then choose ONE of the life facts I stated above and describe how you came to realize that it was either true or false. I will be waiting!

Whats My Name?????

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WHO AM I? WHAT DO I WANT TO DO WITH MY LIFE? WHY DO THE THINGS THAT HAPPEN TO ME, HAPPEN TO ME?????? These three questions run through my head more than anything else. I haven't came up with a answer that satisfy me yet, but I do have some thoughts and I would like to share them with you all :-).

WHO I AM. On the outside I am Tierra Washington, twenty year old college student, tall , outgoing, bubbly driven and full of smiles. Many would say that I am attractive and very nice: two things that won't really get me anywhere in life. On the inside I am Jade, a vulnerable, scared and shy sixteen year old. I am scared of what the future holds for me, I don't let anyone get too close out of fear of betrayal. I constantly question myself and I rarely have any faith in many of the things I strive to do. I don't like to be given choices...being told what to do and which way to go seems a lot easier and doesn't leave room for scrutinizing myself for making the wrong choice. So am I actually two people? or am I Tierra? or am I Jade? can I be both? or do I hide behind one pretending to be the other?

WHAT I WANT TO DO WITH MY LIFE. I want to talk alllllllllllllllllllllll dayyyy long, every day. I want to teach, persuade and give advice to people. Maybe be an advertiser...I want to stand in a big conference room and talk to co-workers about  what needs to be done to achieve x,y,z. I want to be called "boss lady"... I want to have the final say on everything. I also would like to be a teacher, Kindergarten would be a perfect grade for me. I love kids and they tend to always make me smile no matter what mood I am currently in. Which route do I pursue right now? who knows? once again this is one of the many decisions I hate making.

THE THINGS THAT HAPPEN TO ME. I have no idea how to even begin this section... I have the worst luck sometimes and I always ask myself "really? why in the world did this just happen to me?". A lot of things that I want in life seem to never work out for me, maybe God has other plans at the moment but if he does I just wish he would show me those today...right now would be a great time for him to show me what is best for me. I just want to understand many many things regarding my life and hopefully the future holds the answers.


“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” — Anais Nin



(Sam Cameron) Permanent link

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view – until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”


-Atticus Finch


The focus of the first year MC Scholars curriculum is Global Perspectives. Knowing this, I decided the night before classes started that I should sleep with my head at the other end of the bed. My new position sometimes induces a Schrödingerian sensation when I don’t remember at which end of the bed my head is nor the direction I am facing and so I feel as though my head is simultaneously at both ends of the bed facing every possible direction until I open my eyes and confirm my true position.

            If anything, this sensation proves to me that a true change in perspective can be subtle: my mind does not immediately accept that I am facing a different direction. As the semester is drawing to a close, I think it is time for me to reflect upon the changes in perspective I have experienced.


For Example:


            A couple of weeks ago I was watching Secondhand Lions, a movie starring Michael Caine, Robert Duvall, and Haley Joel Osment. Caine and Duvall play Osment’s great uncles, taciturn, (allegedly rich) old men who pass their time by firing shotguns at traveling salesmen. I don’t want to give anything away (because it’s a great movie and you should all see it), but at one point, to suggest the atmosphere of the stereotypical African jungle, the moviemakers play stereotypical “African” music complete with drums beat in polyrhythm and some kind of birdcall.

            I never really paid any attention to this music until a lecture in my ethnomusicology class called “Representing Africa in Music”. In the lecture, my professor pointed out that the continent of Africa has a landmass larger than all of Europe, China, India, Argentina and the Continental United States combined. Lumping all African music together and labeling the entire continent as polyrhythm and drums is not only narrow-sighted but wrong and completely unfair to the awesome musical diversity of the continent perhaps least understood by the “Western World” (whatever “Western World” really means).

            Or, just now, I was thinking about The Secret Garden, one of my favorite books and realized, that in order for Mary Lennox to change from a sour, contrary child to a demure, well-behaved girl, she has to move from “uncivilized” India, to mother England. The story changes completely when you think about it that way.

            These are the sorts of questions that have been popping into my brain since the beginning of the semester. As my history professor continually tells us, the more layers you peel away, the more complex the story of humanity becomes.

            What makes the story so complex are the people, the characters who have built and continue to build the story. Everyone plays a role in this story, no matter how seemingly insignificant. When you drop a pebble into a pond, the first ripples are small but they grow larger as they propagate towards the shore. As the pebble sinks into the mud, it is forgotten. The waves are the only evidence of its existence.

            Human beings are a bit like the pebble and the pond is like the story of human existence. The more pebbles you drop into the water, the more the mud on the bottom is disturbed and the more convoluted the story becomes. Every human being stands in a different place from every other human being with a different perspective. That’s why the words of Atticus Finch are so important. There are too many perspectives in this world for any one person to understand them all.

            That’s why we should ask questions: so that we can try to understand as many perspectives as possible. That’s why we go to school: not to get answers, but to learn what kinds of questions to ask.  

Hello and goodbye

(Brittany Sullivan) Permanent link

             The economic downturn is sure to be the reason why a percentage of students currently attend Montgomery College. I would be one of them. All the orange and purple attire hanging in my closet, anticipating its travel to Clemson, South Carolina, will continue to collect dust, because next semester I will be attending The University of Maryland. I am not sure how impressive it is to be trading a supposed to be tiger in for a soon to be turtle, but my family is pinching every penny.

            Spending a semester at Montgomery College was never on my radar my senior year of high school, and I am still surprised at the unexpected outcome; however, attending Montgomery College was not all the negative things I had it cracked up to be. As an aspiring Broadcast Journalism major, I had the fortunate opportunity to be the Editor in Chief of The Globe, the MC Germantown newspaper, and help exhume it from its watery grave because it has not been in circulation for over two years. I was also able to participate in the Montgomery College Student Bloggers Program, where I took my first stab at addressing the online community. The experience I received is invaluable, and an opportunity that would have been hard to come by at a large 4-year institution.

            The professionalism and relationships that you are able to build with your teachers here at Montgomery College is also an added benefit of attending this community college. I was able to take a 17-credit course load without a great deal of struggle, but hopefully with much success. All of my teachers know my name, and a few even know me on a more personal level. In a lecture hall with hundreds of students, this would have been nearly impossible.

            My only regret is the absence of a social life. I am an extremely active and involved person, and this becomes increasingly difficult when attending Montgomery College. Despite Student Life’s efforts, not much develops that captures a students’ interest. Needless to say, I am looking forward to the numerous opportunities that are offered at large universities.

            I want to thank Montgomery College and the student body for allowing me to become so involved. Even though it was brief, it is my hope that I made some impact.

            Happy Holidays

Rocking Rockville; Party in Poolesville

(Sam Cameron) Permanent link

            I fell in love with the Rockville library the instant I clapped eyes on it. I felt a little like Belle from Beauty and the Beast during the moment when the Beast leads her blindfolded into a massive chamber filled from end to end, floor to ceiling, with every book imaginable. The already amazing library is particularly awesome in lieu of the Olney library – which will be closing soon for fifteen months of renovations. Fifteen months of no library does not make for a happy Sam.

            Enchanted, I trailed up the wide spiral staircase, gazing through the clear plastic stair boards as I went. Even more awed by the sheer enormity of the place as I reached the second level, I made my way towards the back of the room and the numerous glass-paneled study chambers situated there.

            I found two of my friends waiting, so we pulled out our books and got to work. More friends slowly trickled in: one bearing delicious chocolate and cranberry cookies. We looked something like nineteenth century revolutionaries, sitting around the table, buried in books, papers, and coats, gesticulating madly with half eaten cookies as we attempted to synthesize everything we have learned in Music, Philosophy, History and Literature.

            We were productive for a while, but after a few hours, the study session went south – hey, we had twelve or so people crammed into a small glass box: it was bound to happen. I am surprised but grateful that the staff of the Rockville library didn’t kick us out for disturbing the peace.

            I checked out some books I had been unable to find at Olney Library and then joined my friends at the nearby Five Guys to unwind.

            After dinner, I accompanied my friend Callie on an adventure to Poolesville, where a mutual friend was performing in a ballet recital.

            Poolesville, for those of you who don’t know, is about an hour from Rockville – near White’s Ferry if you know where that is. Without a GPS, without a map, armed only with some handwritten instructions transcribed from Google maps, Callie and I set out on our quest.

            We had to turn around several times. Once we thought we were supposed to be on W. Montgomery Avenue and weren’t. After turning around, we realized that we had, in fact, been going the right direction and had to turn around again. Then, when we were nearing Poolesville, we were pretty sure we had missed our turn onto White’s Ferry Road and drove on for a mile or so trying to decide if we had missed our turn.

            We decided we had and went to turn around in a driveway that ended in wrought iron gate (something like the Beast’s castle, if I may again allude to my favorite Disney movie).

We had to turn around once more, this time in front of a steel pasture gate and we began to sense a motif. Feeling apprehensive as we drove down the dark winding roads, almost completely bare of indicative road signs, we were intensely relieved to see the festive, rainbow Christmas lights strung across the roads of friendly little Poolesville. When we arrived at Poolesville High, we leapt from the car doing a geeky victory dance because we had found our way without a GPS and with plenty of time to buy our tickets and patronize the lady’s facilities.

Our friend was AWESOME. She made a very graceful – but nightmarishly creepy – ghost of Christmas yet-to-come (great job Bear!)

By nine o’clock, Callie and I were back in the car, ready for the return adventure, which I am glad to report, we completed without significant incident. 

I have a major (maybe)!

(Sairam Nagulapalli) Permanent link

I finally picked a major! I've been undecided for the longest time about a major. Theoretically I'd want to major in Economics, Political Science, Philosophy and History (actually, let's throw in International Relations and Physics for good measure too). MC unfortunately doesn't have majors for most of these - in fact Physics and "International Studies" (which I'm assuming is a little like International Relations). So I've been puzzled for a while...after all, the first thing people ask you after finding out you're in college is "What's your major?” I've gotten sick of saying "Undecided"...because truth is I'm not undecided...I just have too many prospective majors...ya...let's go with that.

I ended up going with "General Studies". I know it sounds a little flaky but it has virtually no pre requisites (I knocked out all the MC required classes with AP/IB classes - woo!) and is apparently the best choice if you want to Transfer to a 4 year college. This way I can still take the wide variety of classes I want without a worry. I'm pretty excited about this. I had the form in my backpack for a while now, but never bothered to actually turn it in. It was a pretty painful process, minus the strong gust of wind and the cold I was battling against. I turned in the form to the Office of Admissions and Records (in the Student Services building) and like that I had a major. Magic.

Though, I talked to Professor Zook (about a class he only teaches for Fall...) and he talked me into the International Studies major. International Studies is something I like plus has tons of flexibility for flexibility. So we'll see how long I'll actually keep Gen Studies as my major.

First (home)work then play (games)

(Melissa Williamson) Permanent link


    My older son thought that I should have something in my blog that wasn't about school or ordinary things but about something special that happened this week. I feel like I need to preface this with:

Hi. My name is Melissa and I'm a gamer.

    I don't do as much as I used to back B.C. (before children) when I played “Dungeons and Dragons” and “Empire Builder”/”British Rail” as well as MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games) like “Asheron's Call”. A few years ago, some friends got us to try “World of Warcraft” and I'll admit it: I have a level 80 warrior. Some of my childrens' friends think that it is so weird that a Mom is going on quests, engaging in combat with monsters and getting new armor and a new mace for her gnome.

     This week the third expansion for the game, “Cataclysm”, was released and, yes, we have it. I've been very good. I did go into the game a little bit to look around and get a couple of new skills for my character. But I explained to the kids that there are still two weeks of the semester and I have to do school work and other things to do. For that matter, they still have schoolwork to do and my husband and I are going to do the parental thing and insist that with two weeks to go until Christmas vacation the homework must be done and handed in.

     By the way, one of the kids' middle school counselors told me a few years ago that by doing my classwork where the children can see me, I'm “modeling good study skills” for them. I hope so because with the oldest a senior in high school right now, there's a lot of talk of colleges for him. It would be a very good thing if he could get really into the habit of keeping up with his schoolwork on his own without being reminded. Do any of you reading this have any ideas or suggestions on this based on how you do your work for class? If you have any advice on things I can pass on to my children about how younger people manage their schoolwork, I'd appreciate hearing about it.

      It gotten rather funny in the last few months. In the last year or so, I've started getting emails and cards in the post from different colleges about a possible transfer when I'm done with MC. Well, since the late summer the number of these messages has increased dramatically and we have to read the addresses more carefully since a lot of them are now for my son. There have even been some from MC that I first think are mine and then see his name on the label. This week I'm including video about WoW with a TV ad and a song about gaming characters.

From "The Guild"


(Theo Eftimiades) Permanent link

 Mannnnnn, so many peeple hatin’ on MSee. 

Cha cha, Haterz, step off!
If yhu engage urself, Msee is a very fun funn place mabee.
I do things like go to my blog class and do these blogs and other things like watch  Over people as they walk by me; they cannot see me when I hyde in the booshes.

I have funnnnn to go to MSEE!

They say “go to school!” I say “I am at school, SILLY!” haha!
Now who looks at who????????????
Yea me! You betch’a!
that’s always when I run, with my new sandwich, to the booshes, where I hide.
have you ever seen me?
haha, probably not!
If you’re the police who always finds me, finding is NOT the same as catching!! Haha!
I alternate to cigarettes sometimes, when I am not in the booshes.
Tobacco free? Yeah, maybe…
I wear the Advocate as a big newspaper hat.

okay okay, if you want to hate on Msee, go away. We don’t want you!
MC is good because it provides a quality education at a great budget price.
Why go to Party City when the dollar store has the same streamers!
When Harvard said “hey, get outta da booshes; come over here, lemme show you.” I said “HEY, how can you see me?” haha, I kid. What I really said is “no.”
you know why?
Harvard costs more money
And so, maybe I got ot Harvard later, maybe not.
My point is the point htat you should Notttt be sooo mean to MC.
MC helps more people than you!!!!
MC taught me to put DOWN the video game controller, and pick up control of my life!
You get it? A play on words! I figured those out in a book from the liberyy called hop on my pop

Don’t be a stinkbug, Cheer for Mc!
Sad n’ sully is all you B!
We are the world, you should say
not the world revolves around ME!
Leed a happie cheer!
not a cheer for less education, more beer!

Where the witty/sad jokesters at?

(Besith Pineda) Permanent link

I embroidered on a hat for a professional clown the other day: the saddest jester I have ever met. It could have been my imagination but he smelled faintly of cigarettes, coffee and disdain. He scowled when he talked, barely looked me in the eyes.

Maybe he was just tired of practiced happiness. I feel him.

On that note, I love meeting people. Clowns and businessmen and outlaws on the run.

This kind of contradicts my personality, as I happen to be the laziest person when it comes to actually getting to know other human beings. I credited my apprehension to talk to others to unabashed shyness for a very long time, until I realized that I’m just shamelessly lazy. I do not start friendships; friendships are started with me. And this would probably explain why I end up making very few connections to the people around me.

Part of this, I suppose, is the fact that I only truly befriend (because I only truly understand) strange people. I subconsciously look for those who sort of skirt the mainstream, crossing sporadically onto both sides of the line that separates the general population and those secluded few who do not quite fit in. I like people who I can’t read immediately, who have stories to tell and no secrets to withhold. I like those who are boldly politically incorrect but so completely righteous; witty jokesters who can spin laughter out of any event.

My second semester at Montgomery College has definitely brought a few surprises in the friend department. I think it has something to do with the Rockville campus, which is so much bigger than the Germantown campus I attended during the Fall of 2009. I don’t get to spend too much time at school, but every time I set my foot in MC territory I am astounded by the diversity of character I observe. Attitude is palpable.

It’s an amazing to place to be at, MC. I never quite know who I might meet. And who might have the patience to stick around long enough to strike up a few conversations with me. And if you have, know that I'm grateful for the chance.

And so the clown got his hat done, and we talked about the weather a bit, and I he went on his way after a quick handshake. I can't shake the feeling that I want to be his friend.



(Theo Eftimiades) Permanent link

 Emma O’Hara here, helping you to pick out your classes for next semester!

For second semester Freshmanzz, picking your classes is especially hard: Regardless of how effectively you used student/teacher testimony and RateMyProf, you probably ended up with a mix in the quality of the classes you took. Sowwy wittle fweshmanz. 

I’ve gone through that same gauntlet, I’ve taken some good and some bad classes; I’d like to do my part to help you to avoid another mediocre semester, being that you’re my audience, the reason I blog, and because I’m in love with you.

While I do feel I am qualified to identify some of the weaker classes I took, so you don’t end up taking them, I haven’t yet taken a teacher at MC who’s had their heart in the wrong place; I cant sit here and fry good people, when I am no highly-trained, battle scarred, adventure-hardened, force-wielding teacher rater-extraordinaire, anyway.
When I was a kid, my mom used to tell me “if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say it at all” and “don’t pee on the floor in the corner of the house; that’s what the dog does.”
I’ve taken both of these messages to heart.

K, so here ya go—my must-take class list:

HS-113—19th century Utopias—John Riedl
There is more depth to this class than any class I’ve ever taken. There’s so much information and background to the topic of Utopias, you learn a lot. There’s also a lot of work, I should add. You do a group project where you and a few others design a Utopia; that’s a lot of fun. It’s the only group project I’ve ever done where doing the project is fun, so people actually do their work.
John Riedl, the prof., is a very personable and knowledgeable. His lectures are lively, interesting, and funny; he runs the kind of class that gets you out of bed in the morning.
You’ll walk away from this class not only understating the Utopian movement, but also a lot more about American Culture. Every utopian effort is tied in with intellectual currents, celebrities, and/or crazies of the time. If National Enquirer, the Economist, and Time Magazine teamed up 200 years ago, you’d get the sort of information you learn in this class. If you’re an American History fan, this is 100% a class to take; I wasn’t, and I still loved it and took a lot from it.

PS-241—Aram Hessami—Western Political Thought
This class traces the evolution of Western Poli. Thinking, from Plato to Karl Marx. Hessami tries to illustrate how every philosopher’s works were affected by his environment and how they changed that environment, which he does a good job of. What the best part of this class is, though, is Hessami’s ability to foster the capacity for critical thought in his students.  If you intend on pursuing a career or are majoring in anything that rewards logic and critical thought, take this class.
Aram Hessami is the kind of professor whose quality isn’t accurately quantified by That site compiles ratings of a teacher’s ease, helpfulness, clarity, and the rater’s interest (what does that even mean? Interest in what? The class? Interest in the teacher? Like, sexually?) and gives you an overall rating. Hessami is NOT easy, tends not to meet struggling students on a level they understand, dooming him in terms of helpfulness, and, while Hessami does explain things methodically, he delves deep into topics, making what he says seem unclear if you cant follow. I loved his class, though. Hessami boasts an encyclopedic knowledge of the content, influences, and implications of Philosopher’s works. You learn so much about how classic philosophers have viewed the world, which is really perspective changing, because Hessami has so much knowledge that he makes available to you.

BI-105- Evironmental Biology (W. Lab)—Sharon Ward
I am not, nor was I ever, planning to be a Bio major. I took this class because a science w. a lab was required. Content-wise, this course offers a sufficient survey of an impressive number of fields: you’ll learn about the processes that perpetuate nature, the environmental problems we’re facing today, and about the politics behind support for or against environmental change; the course has a whole lot of politics in it. One of the things that sets this class apart from every other one I’ve taken is the field trips. Most of the field trips are for extra credit, minus one or two, which are required, and all of them are fun. She does a good job of finding interesting, topic-related events for students to attend; it can be as much of a course in DC’s Green-culture as it is Biology.
The teacher is what really makes this class memorable, though.  Professor Ward is a concerned teacher and a really nice person. I say “concerned” because she badly wants her teaching to be effective for every student and she’ll work with you if you’re not understanding something; she’ll work with you until you get it completely.
In addition, unlike the other two courses I’ve suggested you take, this is an easy class. Do the assigned reading, which never gets too heavy, and pay attention to the lectures, and you’ll get an A. Easy does NOT mean invaluable, though. If you take advantage of the depth this course offers, you’ll get a lot more out of this class than a kid who does the minimum of what he/she has to get an A.

Okay, so I’m getting tired of writing so much; trim down time; I have other stuff to do. You learn a little about a LOT in this class. More than give you a understanding of the history of philosophy, which he does an okay job of, he knows a lot about contemporary philosophy, which he shares knowledge of with the class. The text he uses is very dense, so you probably wont end up reading what he wants you to read. If you do manage to read the text, you get VERY interesting lectures alongside a background of the history of philosophy. If not, you’re going to just attend a bunch of interesting lectures.
Professor White is a great guy. He loves when people come by to chat with him in the office. He’s a great thinker and would be willing to chat with you about any intuition or idea you’ve ever had, but never really been able to discuss. I will note that he’s pretty disorganized, which is apparent from his occasional repeating of theories he’s already discussed.
All three of you who go to MC and have read this much already are probably more interested in learning than getting a good grade, but I should note that this is the easiest class I’ve taken at MC. It’s like listening to an interesting lecture every class period, rather than the traditional exchange of written work for more information that will go into your next piece of written work. There’s two or three graded assignments, all of which you can find ways to get the grade up for.

EN102—TECH OF RDNG & WRTG II—Ruth Dalton
I cant say enough about this teacher. Professor Dalton is so knowledgeable about everything and SO kind. Professor Dalton is like Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother; that is seriously the only equivalent I can think of, which says strange things about me. If the nicest woman in the world went to the best school in the world, and then had 40 years experience with the best job in the world, that woman would be professor Dalton’s clone.
You walk out of Professor Dalton’s classes with your head hurting, having learned so much, so quickly. She condenses SO much information into night sessions. Unfortunately, Professor Dalton is SUPER BUSY, and so she teaches only one class, and it’s a night class…If SOMEHOW you’re looking for a EN102 class at night, do yourself a favor and take professor Dalton.

SO-206—Sociology of Personality—Dan Wilson
I am really tired, so this one’s gonna be short.
This class fleshes out a very way of looking at interaction between people that’s very applicable in life. The way you look at people interacting around you changes after you’ve been in this class. I walked away from this class with a different perspective on the way I carry myself, act around other people, and how other people react to me. Some of the insights you gain from this class click right in with your own experiences and resonate with you. The class combines Powerpoint lectures and videos in a way that the class is never boring. 

Exam Week Rules

(Sam Cameron) Permanent link

With exams looming on the eastern horizon, I wanted to make the readership aware of the unofficial exam week rules – that is, these are not regulations mandated by the college. These are my rules, or, rather, to give credit where it’s due, these are my mom’s rules that she and her best friend formulated their first semester of college. She passed this wisdom unto me and now I shall pass it unto you.

            The Golden Rule of Exam Week:


            Study as hard as you can, and then go eat ice cream.


            That’s it. That is the only rule. Exams are important but you don’t need to lose your mind over them – that would defeat the purpose. Yes, work as hard as you can and then relax. Deep breathes during the exam will increase oxygen flow to your brain and improve your score. Once you turn in the exam stop worrying about it. If you studied and checked your work, then you know you’ve done everything you possibly can: you’ve done your best and agonizing over what your score might be won’t change anything. It will just make you upset.

            So treat yourself: you deserve it. Go get some ice cream – or frozen yogurt or chocolate or the treat of your choice. It doesn’t even have to be food related. You could start reading the newest installment of The Dresden Files, or sit and listen (really listen) to your favorite Pink Floyd album or watch James Cameron’s Avatar. (Note: these are specific examples of what I would do but you get the idea.)

            When you feel sufficiently relaxed, study for your next exam and repeat the process. Before you know it, the semester will be over and you won’t have to spend weeks worrying about your score.

            Oh yeah, and having faith in yourself increases your chances of passing with flying colors. (That nugget of wisdom is mine.)

Starbucks: Jack Frost's Arch-Nemesis

(Brittany Sullivan) Permanent link

Winter is not really my season. That is why my original intention was to submerge myself in the glorious warm air of a southern college; however, despite my greatest efforts I am here. Of course, December so far is having below average temperatures, meaning that during the day it isn’t breaking 40 degrees, and the winds are 15 mph. How are MC students dealing with jack frost? STARBUCKS!!!

A red steaming paper cup filled with the tantalizing taste of various flavors that Starbucks has to offer is a common commodity that can be seen in the hands of a majority of students on campus. What is my drink of choice you may ask? Grande white chocolate mocha with whip cream please =).  However, if you happen to come during the class change period, you are sorely mistaken. If you only have 10 min to spare it’s not gonna cut it. While the MBI Café may be delicious, efficiency is something they lack. I have definitely spent a good 15 minutes waiting for my morning jolt.

But all in all I have to hand it to all the MBI Café employees. With the cold weather and the high demand you make it happen, and I am sure it is far from easy or enjoyable. As long as you keep making my white chocolate mocha warm and delicious, I don’t mind the wait. 

Impromptu Geography Lesson and Apocalypse Now

(Sairam Nagulapalli) Permanent link

Sorry for not blogging earlier. I had some connection issues earlier and later some inspiration issues. I wasn’t sure what to write about. Nothing particularly remarkable has happened. It’s been a pretty average week. Freaking out about assignments, chilling, messed up sleep habits…you know…the usual.

          Someone in one of my classes was very surprised when I told him India was in Asia. He was under the impression that it was somewhere in the Middle East and “next to Israel”. When I (and almost everyone in the class) attempted to correct him, he shot back asking, “Why we all look alike”. Not sure who the “all” is…but ya. I think this is the first time since Middle School I’ve had to explain that India is part of Asia. Asia doesn’t begin and end with China. Though I did have to explain to someone that India did in fact have roads and newspapers. We don’t jump from tree to tree Tarzan style (though that does sound pretty awesome) and we like to know what’s going on around the world, just like everyone else. Many in the class tried to convince him that he was wrong but some people never give in. Anyway, it might be a good idea to make something like “Intro to Geography” a required class for everyone.

            On a lighter note, I have the DVD for Apocalypse Now next to my laptop…well actually, I’m not sure how anything involving Apocalypse Now makes for a lighter note…let’s pretend I was actually talking a movie. My Literature Professor suggested we watch it to better understand Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. It’s always awesome when a Professor recommends watching a good film to understand the angst behind a book. Especially when that movie is something as revered as Apocalypse Now. For those of you who’re not familiar with your Francis Ford Coppola movies, this was (one of) the movie(s) Ben Stiller et al were parodying in Tropic Thunder. Now I can watch a good movie without feeling guilty for not studying for the finals. Victory!

This is still considered one of the greatest war movies ever.

Now is the winter of our discontent or "I'm freezing, Mom. Where's my coat?"

(Melissa Williamson) Permanent link

    It's December and finally getting cold. Time to dig out the sweatshirts and sweatpants and heavy coats and scarves and don't even ask about the knitted hats. For all I know the children made puppets out of them since last winter. Or maybe they were carried off by giant were-moths or went off to where ever the missing socks go. The other problem with children is finding out how much they've grown since last winter and that their warm clothing doesn't fit any more. It's always something.

      It's also time to try and find where the chilly drafts are coming from, lower the outer glass panes on the windows and clear the fallen leaves out of the rain gutters so that the winter rains/sleet/wintry mix/freezing rain or maybe even snow will be able to drain away. Have I mentioned how much I hate freezing rain and “wintry mix”? I'll take plain, old, honest snow any time, thanks.

     But that reminds me that the semester is nearly over and finals week is looming. How many of you remember last year's Fall finals? That was the first time that the glaciers advanced and shut everything down for a week or so. The Montgomery County public schools tried to get the parking lots plowed while issuing assurances that classes would be open in a day or so, but they eventually threw in the towel. As I recall MC was closed for a good bit of the week too. Does anyone recall what they did? That's another advantage of many Distance Learning classes: you won't miss a final due to the campus being closed since you take your tests on-line.

     I hope we don't get as much snow this year as last. That was just too much to have at one time. Our youngest likes to play in the snow, but in February he went out to find that it was up to his chest and it wasn't quite firm enough for him to scoot across the top on a sled. So he stood in the driveway and threw snowballs out across the lawn or at members of his family.

     This week I found a wonderful piece of new Japanese music by Kitaro. It's called “Matsuri” which is the Japanese word that means “festival” or “holiday”. This is a live performance and it features more percussion, including a set of taiko drums which are traditional Japanese instruments. This piece really perked me up one day when I was still pretty immobile with the sprained knee.



    I also came across another very flashy pipe organ player. The piece is John Philip Sousa's “The Stars and Stripes Forever” and if any readers have been in a marching band, they'll recall the really high piccolo part. Well, this man plays it all with his feet on the pedals. That's what I call fancy footwork!



If Comedy is Dead, Austin Powers is the Embalming Fluld

(Theo Eftimiades) Permanent link

First of all, generic complaint about work, or exams, or something else I don’t like.

Helen is my girlfriend's name; she will never read this.

More importantly, when I was a kid, I <3’d Leslie Nielsen’s movies. Actually, to be frank (Drebin,) I actually only watched a few of his movies; a lot of them are rated R, so I couldn’t get my squirrely little paws on them.  The movies I did watch made a HUGE impression on me. Director and Writer David Zucker’s combination of clever word play and situational comedy was fresh and well-executed. Going back to Naked Gun now, I notice two things:

One, a lot of the situational comedy seems tame by modern standards.

Two, the word-play comedy in this movie is something isn’t a part of modern movies.

I’m too lazy to write about number one, sorry.
Here’s some funny clips to make you feel better:






Thinking about number two, though-- Look at the clips I have above and consider what about them makes them funny: A walk off is just the weirdest, somehow-sensical way to determine who the better model is; it’s funny because it’s ridiculous.  The Anchorman Fight Scene is just as crazy. The weapons used are so out of place and the prospect of news crews battling is so outlandish that it’s funny.

These clips, and most of modern comedy, get lauhgs because of the innovation in situational comedy.  Comedy nowadays has an obsession with the comedy of the situation and how just outrageous that can get…

The word joke is rare in comedy nowadays. A lot of the biggest recent comedies (Superbad, the Hangover, Napoleon Dynamite, Borat, Wedding Crashers, Knocked Up) are complete Sit-Coms; these movies are not clever.

                Cleverness and wit are dead, as dominant cinematic comedy forms. If not dead alltogether, they exist only in supplementary to the sit com. Anyone familiar with Leslie Nielsen movies or a Mel Brooks-directed movies knows that there is a balance between the comedy of the situation and the wit behind the jokes. 


                I think there’s been one great mainstream deviation from the sit-com-centric comedy scene, and that’s Austin Powers; that movie had a great balance of clever jokes and comedic situations Austin worked himself into. You’d also think, considering that movies are made with the goal of making money, that Austin Powers’ Box office success would have translated to more movies in its like being made; that never happened. Apparently movie execs don’t agree, because Austin Powers ended up being nothing more than a hilarious deviation from the sit-com norm.   


The comedy Leslie Nielsen, through David Zucker, and Mel Brooks championed is underground now. In the theater’s you’ll catch little snippets of it, but as the balancing ying to the yang that is the sit-com, it’s just not what movie execs put out anymore.

Here's some of what I think are the best jokes from David Zucker's Naked Gun:
(Youtube doesnt have many great clips, but it had a few)


FINALLY, for all Leslie Nielsen or Naked Gun fans, I found this compliation of extended scenes from the first movie. Alot of them are great scenes that I really think shouldnt have been taken out. Anyways, here dey are:









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