Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bell Curve

Something I need to remember about the bell curve is that the major points are the curve are 2%, 16%, 50%, 84%, and 98%.

Percent Change: Remember This Formula?

Percent change = Difference/Original *100

Percentages--- From Words to Symbols

We all likely know that percent = something over 100, that is x/100.

Did you also know that in a word problem involving percentages, the following conversions can be made:
of, times* (multiplication symbol) varibable (example "x," "k," "s," "b, or "f")

So when a problem says 38 is what percent of 78, it is saying 38= ?/100 (78)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Some Other Advice I am Reading on Statements of Purpose

I've been doing a lot of reading at the discussion forums at Grad Cafe, and below are some of the gems of wisdom I have garnered there regarding Statements of Purpose.

One person from studies in a non-religious field suggested this outline:

I. Introductory paragraph demonstrating academic background

II. Detailed explanation of academic interests and how X school fits into those interests

III. Discussion of the research of a few professors and how my interests/background coincide with theirs.

IV. Senior Thesis (this would be irrelevant to me, as this was not a part of my undergraduate program, which was also in an entirely different field)

V. Concluding paragraph briefly explaining intentions after grad school.

Others have said various things including:
  • Relate the parts of my background that have prepared me for (or given me my inclinations toward) graduate work; don't tell stories from my life that I find fascinating, but which do not relate to my aptitude or potential in my intended studies with the exception of those stories that demonstrate specifics about my ability to overcome adversity.
  • Relate my accomplishments in my field but don't talk about extra-curriculars and/or volunteer work that does not relate my field.
  • Mention the professors with whom I have communicated and how their work relates to my interests, but don't mention students with whom I have communicated, in case they are not doing well in the program.
  • Use a couple of short quotes if fitting, reference an epigraph from an author I will be studying. Cite things in style consistent with discipline (anyone know what that is for an M.Div?).

That's all helpful. I wonder if there are any peculiarities to an M.Div. statement of purpose?

Statements of Purpose/Personal Statements

A friend of mine who was worried about my application to Yale Divinity School, given Yale's relative conservatism, suggested if I was going to look at schools out in Connecticut that I also look at Hartford Seminary. So I went online tonight and browsed around a bit, and I found a sample personal statement/statement of purpose for applications for their Master of Arts program (which is different than the Master of Divinity program in which I am interested, but nonetheless)...

I think it is interesting they include such a sample on their website (they also have very step-by-step application instructions), and I was frankly glad to see a sample because I am having a lot of trouble getting much accomplished on my Statement of Purpose.

What do you think of this structure and approach?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Square Roots to Know By Heart

I need to remember not only perfect square roots and that the square root of 1 is 1, but also:

The square root of 2=1.4 and the square root of 3=1.7.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Timeline Check in For Late October

I am sick. I admit it. I've been in denial, but I am sick and I am fatigued. This is really throwing a wrench into my timeline. My kids are sick too, with my son having been sick for a week or longer now. He couldn't go to school most of last week. I took both kids to the doctor, but apparently it wasn't too alarming at that time.

Why don't my kids sleep more when they are sick? Neither of my kids ever slow down...EVER. Both my kids have been known to alternate vomiting with playing, or hack-hacking with playing, etc. Now my wife G. is starting to feel sick. If she "goes down" there will be no time for anything but keeping the household running. So pray for us because that will really hurt my chances of doing well.

In terms of my timeline, besides continuing studies and all of that, here is what is up this week (the week of October 25th)...

Lingering issues:
  • Make contacts at schools
  • Make a research paper plan
  • Catch up on studies

New issues:

  • Begin working on Statement of Purpose again (yikes!)

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Life and Times of an Adult Prospective Divinity School Student

This post will be a stream-of-consciousness as I begin to drift off to sleep. Please forgive the writing.

Crazy busy and tiring week at work and home. Fell even more behind on all items on my application prep to-do list, including studying for GRE.

However, today I woke up at 5am and drove through rush hour to visit a class over at Harvard Divinity. What a treat as always! It was on religious education and children's literature. Basically as I understand it this class explores how children develop their inner lives in part through reading as well as the religious implications of what children read. Here is the description, though the description doesn't, in my opinion, do the class justice. This week's book was The House of Dies Drear. Equally fascinating was that guest author, scholar, and theologian Donna Freitas spent the morning with us in class. I am eager to read her books, especially the recent The Possibilities of Sainthood, (young-adult fiction) about a 15 year old who is convinced her vocation is sainthood...ideally not a dead saint, and another book which I am having trouble locating online but that I thought was called This Gorgeous Gift.

A Master of Theological Studies student stayed after class and talked with me a bit, which I really appreciated. I thanked the professor for allowing me to observe the class, and I went off on a tangent about something the discussion had made me think of, and then tried to reel myself back in. My wheels were just turning like crazy. Then I remembered that I had met one of the other students late this summer at the "Field Studies" office, so I found her in the lobby of the building and reintroduced myself. Finally I headed out.

Anyway, I wish I had hours to tell you all about the thoughts that raced through my head on my long drive home. There were so many rich and interesting treasures to ponder. One thing I decided was that I really want to start a book group for parents of 4th-8th graders at church to essentially explore the same material as this class explores.

I also listened, on my way home, to a very interesting interview with Cornel West on the radio. My mind raced and raced.

I came home this afternoon to a note on the door that my wife and kids had gone to a friend's house due to there being a power outage in our neighborhood (that's really tough in our home since we cook everything from scratch). Went over to see the kids before going into work, but the kids really needed me-- as they haven't spent hardly any time with me for the past few days because of my work schedule-- and my wife really needed time to take care of some stuff such as go back to the house and get organized to go stay with the kids at her mom's house if the power outage continued for the weekend.

The kids were having fun playing with our friend's kids, but by the time I'd gotten there a number of hours had passed and everyone had just had a little much of each other. I offered to leave several times, but my friend insisted we were not an inconvenience and we were too hungry and tired to insist. The kids had fun, but there were many squabbles on and off and by the time we got back home this evening (to power, thank goodness!), I was utterly exhausted. We did bedtime with the kids, and G. and I watched The Office and 30 Rock on the net because, well, I just didn't have an ounce of energy left in me. Which sounds now like a lame excuse. This is the only day I am going to allow for such nonsense. I must study with more discipline because time is running out.

Now I must head to bed because I have to wake up at quarter of 5 in the morning to go take care of a couple things at church and then drive out to Providence for the one-day option of this conference on congregational transformations, for which I thankfully received a scholarship since my professional expense budget was cut to $0 this year.

Then I'll zip home and finish a number of Sunday preparations (ack!). On Sunday I have morning worship and program duties followed by a sex ed class (well, it's not like I am teaching, so I shouldn't take any credit for that), meetings, and a fall carnival. The kids have been invited to three (!) birthday parties on that day, and my son blames my work in the church for not being able to attend all of them. I overheard him tell a friend, "We can't go because my mom is always going to church," which makes me feel like his own faith development is being undermined by his feeling that he needs to compete with the church for my time and energy. I do worry about that a lot. Still, I tried to explain to him that even if our lives weren't complicated by my work that three birthday parties in the same afternoon wouldn't be physically possible. Just not sure he accepts it.

Whew. It's just a lot.

Like I said, sorry about the writing here. I am just so darn tired.


Thursday, October 22, 2009


I am scheduled for the GRE!


I am going to take it nearly a week earlier than I wanted - and in Connecticut - because the slots were filling everywhere fast. In fact, I originally selected 11/25/09, but my session timed out before the registration was complete, and minutes later when I went back in that date was GONE! Incredible.

The whole process was actually a nightmare. I really hope testing goes more smoothly. But here I am. In the one month countdown.

(Thanks to the generous donors who made it possible for me to register today before this date too was gone...) I'll be tested 11/24/09 at 1:30-5:30 pm. As of 9:00 am 11/23/09, I am going into isolation for my final 28 1/2 hours of study. That will be complete and total isolation, so please plan ahead if you want to give me a ring.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Reward for My Studies: Some "Me" Time

I didn't get as much studying done tonight as I had hoped...too many distractions including a kid that keeps waking up and not. falling. back. asleep.

But I studied, and I feel good about covering more than one subject tonight, and keeping at it until I could say that I had a fair amount accomplished.

So now I am giving myself the reward of time to reflect on just some of the many things I've learned that can't and won't be tested on the GRE, but that certainly will help me as I journey my way to and through school:
  • I've learned that memory is helpful but also not the definition of intelligence, and that (most of the time) I can find ways to work with my neurological issues and memory loss.
  • I've learned more about the type of life I want to live in my second thirty years, which keeps me excited and motivated to work hard for my family's future.
  • I've learned that I have pretty good intellectual instincts most of the time about many things, and that when I follow my intellectual interests and inclinations, I end up in cool and interesting places.
  • I've learned that I am a more capable learner than I tend to think.
  • I've learned that when I immerse myself in interesting experiences that I become more interesting and also smarter.
  • I've learned that my projects always seem daunting at first, but that if I chip away at things a little bit at a time, I usually accomplish something in the end.
  • I've learned to be more humble, to listen more, and to assume I know less and have more to learn than I once thought.
  • I've learned that if I want to learn something, I have to teach it. Thank goodness I am a mother!
  • I've learned that curiosity may have opened Pandora's box and killed the cat, but that it also has been the foundation of almost every great discovery of all time.
  • I've learned to accept approbation at face value, and to not fear my own joy as much as I once did.
  • I've learned to sit still, be quiet, and lean in (though I am a little out of practice).
  • I've learned to trust only change, and hopefully, I am learning to be less anxious about it.
  • I've learned to be more comfortable with my human need for assistance.
  • I've learned to value relationships, though I am still learning how to make longer commitments to other people without being overcome by ennui or fears of commitment.
  • I've learned that when I am on the right path, I know it.
  • I've learned more and more to open my heart to joy.
  • And I've learned my daughter sleeps better when I am asleep, so I had better be off to bed... :-)

October 21st Vocab Challenge

My challenge is to build a sentence with all three of today's vocabulary words. As with all other vocabulary posts, feel free to correct my use of the words, make suggestions, or anything else that might help me study. Here's my sentence:

At first driven only by the need for approbation, she stuck with a canonical writing style, but it did not take long before she was overcome by ennui and felt the need to abandon all tradition so that her creative instincts could take over.

October 21st Vocab Words

Note that I study all material, even that which is just a review.

Feel free to post challenges for me, make memorization suggestions, correct misused words, or whatever else you want. The reason I am doing this is for the fun of an interactive study experience.

Below are three vocab words, with a link to a sound clip and definition as well as the definition given by my study manual...and several vocabulary sentences made up by yours truly.

approbation (noun): an expression of approval or praise
  • Her appetite for approbation could not be satiated.
  • It's not that I need approbation; I simply don't want criticism.
  • It was long thought that children developed in a positive fashion when they received regular approbation, but the research consistently showed that children became anxious about accomplishing when adults gave such constant feedback to the children.
  • I was feeling very high about my accomplishments, and the approbation I received only boosted me further.
  • To earn her approbation, he worked harder than he ever had in his life, and with alacrity took on any challenge she offered.
  • We don't need your approbation, just stay out of our way.
  • I was surprised to receive approbation from such high-powered, intelligent people who I had for so long admired.
  • Without approbation, she felt lost for a direction, and she regularly questioned her own authority despite an outward appearance of confidence.
  • If you want approbation, try asking your real questions rather than sucking up and hiding your own light by agreeing with everything they say. They may question you back, but they'll respect you for your intelligence.
  • In my parenting style, I try not to demand that my children always have my approbation, but instead that they decide independently what they believe to be right in many situations.

canonical (noun): following or in agreement with accepted, traditional standards (dictionary also indicates a couple other definitions, and it has a mathematical use as well)

  • The canonical texts are certainly of critical interest, but I find studying the apocrypha also to be an important aspect of biblical scholarship.
  • Clearly I have a different idea than she, about what literature is canonical in this day and age in our culture.
  • Though I read constantly, I would not be considered by most to be well-read, as I am unfamiliar with almost all canonical works and tend instead to read obscure and non-fiction pieces.
  • My writing is non-canonical, with lengthy sentences that while grammatically acceptable, most readers find unfamiliar and unpleasant.
  • He considered himself a Christian, but his beliefs, expression, and practice of the religion where far from canonical.
  • Learning the canonical sentence structures was critical in the development of her ability to make clear and cogent arguments in court.
  • The funeral was deeply religious and completely canonical, and we were relieved to know what to expect.
  • If he had been a canonical writer, he would have been more popular but less interesting.

ennui (noun): dissatisfaction and restlessness resulting from boredom or apathy

  • Her professional failures were more a result of ennui than a lack of ability. She simply gave in to her boredom.
  • I was surprised by his ennui. He seemed a bright student who could have made interesting challenges for himself academically if only he had not been so apathetic.
  • Your ennui has, quite frankly, become boring in and of itself. Get a life!
  • The best treatment for ennui is a fresh approach to the same problem.
  • The myths centered on the idea of the suburban so-called "housewife," her presumed ennui, and the mistaken notion that women stir up trouble for the pleasure of doing so.
  • I wouldn't call it a mid-life crisis as much as the result of ennui.
  • Experiencing an unrelenting sense of ennui, he fled the country and spent three years backpacking across Europe.
  • Ennui is the gift that helps us avoid a life of little depth, driving us to challenge our apathetic tendencies with activities of greater meaning.


I just put on a PBS show on the financial mess to listen to while studying, and within the first few minutes, I heard an October 15th vocab word: irascible. Remember that one? It means easily angered; prone to outbursts.

Check it out. Looks like it is going to be a really interesting show:

Midweek Check-In

Earlier this week I reported that I would be catching up on last week's tasks as well as doing additional tasks for this week. Here was the totality of the list:

∆ Study at least 1-2 hours daily for GRE, making up where possible for missed studying
∆ Make at least two contacts at schools, preferably three
∆ RSVP to open houses
∆ Research paper (find or, if not found, decide what to do)
∆ Attend a class or event

It's time to ask, "how am I doing?"
  • Studying has been going so-so. I've not made a full two hours each night, and last night I didn't study at all. But tonight I am able to study for a few hours, which helps.
  • I haven't made any new contacts at the schools. However, I did, as described in another post, get in touch with a professor from a class I'd previously visited at one of the schools. I also reached out to another professor, whose class I plan to attend on Friday, though I haven't heard back (ugh).
  • I did RSVP to open houses.
  • On the issue of the research paper, I have done more hunting. I also called the school where I did my undergraduate studies to see if I could track down the professor who helped me with the paper, just on the off chance he for some reason kept it (doubt it, but I am desperate). I haven't heard back yet. I've yet to face the dark question about what I'll do if I can't find it.
  • I'm scheduled to attend a class for a few hours on Friday. Barring illness, that should get accomplished.

Memorizing Common Fraction, Decimal, and Percentage Conversions

Have you noticed this (?) ...

I tend to use the blog (when studying) for things I need to memorize. I don't work through *how* to do the problems or complexities. I just focus on the basics of memorization here, while doing the rest of my studies on paper. Interesting.

Anyway, along those lines, my study guide recommends memorizing common fractions and decimals in the form of percentages in order to easily eliminate answers that are particularly off the mark.

Some are things I've naturally memorized in the course of my life, and I am sure you have too:
  • 1.0 = 1/1 = 100%
  • 2.0 = 2/1 = 200%
  • 0.25 = 1/4 = 25%
  • 0.5 = 1/2 = 50%
  • 0.75 = 3/4 = 75%

Some are very familiar and perhaps already somewhat memorized, or easy to quickly figure out, even if I have to review them in order to recommit them to memory:

  • 0.01 = 1/100 = 1%
  • 0.1 = 1/10 = 10%
  • 0.2 = 1/5 = 20%
  • 0.4 = 2/5 = 40%
  • 0.8 = 4/5 = 80%

Others I need to spend just a tad more time on to truly memorize:

  • 0.333 = 1/3 (that part is familiar) = 33 1/3% (that I didn't realize)
  • 0.6 = 3/5 (that part I would have had to calculate) = 60% (this I knew)
  • 0.666... = 2/3 (that part is somewhat familiar) = 66 2/3% (that I didn't know)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

This is how I know I'll be horribly disappointed if I don't get in...

Last spring I visited one of the schools to which I am applying, and attended a class while I was there. I emailed the professor today to ask for a copy of his syllabus so that I can use the reading list for a project I am working on, and he emailed me back a syllabus (as well as some helpful correspondence about the project). As I was reading the syllabus, my heart raced with the thrill and excitement. I also felt a pang of sadness, as I won't have time to read even 10% of what was on the reading list. It just all seems so INTERESTING!

I can't wait to begin my studies, and though I am mildly nervous about keeping up with fast-paced classes while parenting my wee ones (and perhaps continuing my work for pay), for the first time in my adult education I am confident I will be met at the appropriate level of long as I get in.

"Oh please, oh please, oh please" goes my prayer :-).

Monday, October 19, 2009

Timeline Check-In

We're on week two of my prep plan, and it's time to check in about how I've done so far with the schedule.

Week of October 11th:
∆ Study at least 1-2 hours daily for GRE
∆ Make initial 1-2 contacts at schools (1 hour)
∆ RSVP to open houses, etc.

Hmmm...well, I didn't do so well. I did study 1-2 hours daily for the most part, so I can feel good about that. However, I missed a day or two of studying, and I also didn't get as far in my studies as I needed.

As for making the initial contacts, I need to make up that time this week. And I also need to take care of the RSVPs. I just forgot those two things were on my to-do list.

Week of October 18th:
∆ Study at least 1-2 hours daily for GRE
∆ Make another contact at schools (1/2 hour)
∆ Research paper (find or, if not found, decide what to do)
∆ Attend a class or event

I've got a full week according to this list, especially since I am making up for last week already. Yikes! I think it is still reasonable, though, because basically I will just be adding one hour to my school contact time and twenty minutes or so for open house RSVPs. That's less than an hour and a half of extra work. That said, I am *extremely* nervous about dealing with the research paper.

I better fasten my seatbelt!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

October 18th Vocab Challenge

My challenge is to build a sentence with all three of today's vocabulary words. As with all other vocabulary posts, feel free to correct my use of the words, make suggestions, or anything else that might help me study. Here's my sentence:

She was austere and highly valued modesty in all things, and would even strangely abscond when given the opportunity to speak, which was in stark contrast to the effrontery of her husband.

October 18th Vocab Words

Note that I study all material, even that which is just a review. Feel free to post challenges for me, make memorization suggestions, correct misused words, or whatever else you want. The reason I am doing this is for the fun of an interactive study experience.

Below are three vocab words, with a link to a sound clip and definition as well as the definition given by my study manual...and several vocabulary sentences made up by yours truly.

Abscond (verb): to depart clandestinely; to steal off and hide
  • He had only been charged with a misdemeanor, so why he chose to abscond, I'll never understand.
  • I wouldn't have been suspicious if she hadn't absconded.
  • I plan to abscond as the night wears on, as it is not my desire to be seen by the living.
  • I didn't know what to think of him; he mysteriously absconded before dessert.
  • Like a frightened animal, he absconded.
  • As she was at low risk for absconding, she was granted a supervised release.
  • Each evening he would abscond to feed his need, keeping his meth addiction a secret from his family for at least a few months.
  • Humiliated, the temptation to abscond overcame him.

Austere (adjective): without adornment; bare; severely simple; ascetic (according to the online dictionaries can also mean something of a harshness or sternness, a strictness)

  • Beyond plain, he was austere.
  • An overprivileged, greedy man, he looked down on her austere presentation.
  • Little did he know that her austerity was a privilege of its own kind.
  • She longed for an austere life, free from the burdens of materialism and full of the blessings of spirituality.
  • After giving it fair trial, Siddhartha rejected the most austere life, left the ascetics, and found the freedom he was searching for without subjecting his body to punishment.
  • I was impressed by her austerity, and more than that, the joyfulness she found in a life of unfailing discipline and simplicity.
  • He was an austere father, but lavishly loving none the less.
  • In such an austere setting, we were sullen.

Effrontery (noun): extreme boldness; presumptuousness

  • With this brand of effrontery, there is no doubt why sexism sells.
  • It wasn't idealism that was her downfall, but her incessant effrontery.
  • Brazen, he approached and confronted the dignitary with astonishing effrontery.
  • Her most audacious behavior was the result of effrontery, which had gone unchecked for far too long.
  • It was with little effrontery that she finally asked for what she needed; after all, it had taken much courage and she was still not convinced she deserved to have her needs met.
  • I was taken aback by his effrontery, and it took me some time to regain my composure, let alone any sense of self-assurance.
  • She approached me with such effrontery, that I could think of nothing else to day but "yes...okay," and it wasn't until she left that I began to realize the extent to which I'd compromised my own beliefs by acquiescing to her vision.
  • If it had not been for her effrontery, we would have never finished this project, as sometimes you need the fearless ego of one or two people who know nothing of "no" to push through the resistance.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Brush off Those Multiplication Tables

There are a couple mistakes on this video, but overall pretty good. I feel like if I worked out to it and said the answers as I went that it might help me brush up.

And then there is this this too...


I love these tricks...

And there's more, but it costs $42 to get them! Wah!

Once You Learn This System...

It might help for checking work:

Friday, October 16, 2009

Really Basic Math Review: Math Vocabulary

Factors vs. Multiples

As I recall, in b x c=a, b and c are factors of a

Someone please now explain what a multiple is in a way that does not have me confusing it with a factor. My brain just can't, for some reason, comprehend the difference.

However, these all are straight forward math vocab terms to me that I just needed to quickly review and recommit to memory:

product=result of multiplication
quotient=result of division
divisor=number you divide by
numerator=top number in a fraction
denominator=bottom number in a fraction

Eliminating Answer Choices in the Math Section

Here is one of those tricks to quickly eliminate answer choices from math questions without finishing all calculations for the problem. It involves returning to 5th or 6th grade math and just going through the options and crossing out those that simply don't fit due to basic arithmetic, once the problem is in its simplest form. Of course, it only works for a couple types of problems, that can be simplified into this form, but every bit helps.

pos x pos= positive
neg x neg= positive
post x neg= negative

even + even= even
odd + odd= even
even + off= odd

even x even= even
odd x odd= odd
even x odd= even

If these last two sets are forgotten, just knowing that the rules exist is helpful. Then you can plug in a couple numbers to figure out the rule.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

October 15th Vocab Challenge

My challenge is to build a sentence with all three of today's vocabulary words. As with all other vocabulary posts, feel free to correct my use of the words, make suggestions, or anything else that might help me study. Here's my sentence:

My supervisor, perpetually aggitated and irascible, treated every notion that crossed her mind as exigent, yet she was capricious and on more than one occassion had me re-do work to fit entirely new imaginations, which I did more out of fear of her angry outbursts than a particular investment in the job.

October 15th Vocab Words

Note that I study all material, even that which is just a review. Feel free to post challenges for me, make memorization suggestions, correct misused words, or whatever else you want. The reason I am doing this is for the fun of an interactive study experience.

Below are three vocab words, with a link to a sound clip and definition as well as the definition given by my study manual...and several vocabulary sentences made up by yours truly.

exigent (adjective): urgent, pressing; requiring immediate action or attention (according to online dictionary, also "demanding much")
  • The whole thing felt exigent only to me, but nonetheless, I could not sleep until the job was completed.
  • The questions that called me awake in the night were existential ones, and though they were not earthly, they were no less exigent.
  • The letter arrived second-day air, clearly having been seen as exigent by its sender.
  • The judge operated his court without treating any case as more exigent than others, and having waited many hours to have our case heard, we were finally called to our testimony.
  • The pain was acute and exigent, and we made haste to the hospital where he was treated for a hemorrhage.
  • "Exigent circumstance" is a legal term involving entry without warrant because of the belief that potential that harm is otherwise imminent.
  • The circumstances were nothing short of exigent, and we first involved the local police department, followed soon by the public works authorities.
  • By middle school, sexuality education is an exigent matter.

capricious (adjective): inclined to change one's mind impulsively; erratic; unpredictable

  • I'm capricious because I am a Gemini, and I am of two minds about everything I do.
  • If you insist on being capricious, we will insist on a signed contract.
  • The congregation, unusually capricious in nature, hired several contactors in succession and without due process, and eventually the building expansion failed.
  • If she wasn't so capricious, I'd tell my children ahead of time that she said she'd come over, but I'd hate for them to look forward to seeing her only to later be disappointed.
  • I dread shopping with my capricious husband.
  • Fear of potentially capricious member behavior causes most organizations to have limited opportunities for organizational change and for the checks and balances to weigh most heavily on the side of caution.
  • To many, the ruling seemed arbitrary and capricious, but not to those who had carefully followed the case as it made its way through the courts.
  • If he wasn't capricious, and we could count on him, he wouldn't be himself, but he would be easier to live with.

irascible (adjective): easily angered; prone to tempermental outbursts

  • Because he was irascible, he was prone to fulminate, and we usually avoided him.
  • Before begining treatment for depression, his friends regretfully described him as irascible and abusive.
  • I never could figure out why I loved her so much, as irascible as she was and as much as she would fulminate for days on end.
  • We forgave them for being so irascible, as afterall, they were sleep-deprived teenagers.
  • Despite the reputation that my father had of being a crotchety old man, I find that as I age, I am less irascible, more patient and forgiving, and more even-keeled.
  • I was narrscistic and irrascible, and I have no idea how they put up with me for so long.
  • The gorilla, in a state of utter grief over the loss of her child, was irascible and at times violent, and we feared approaching her with the tranquilizer, though she very much needed the medical attention.
  • You'd have more friends if you weren't so irrascible.

Do You Remember "Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally?"


You might remember learning this in your pre-algebra or early algebra days. It's a way to remember the order of operations for problems that require more than one type of operation.

My=M=Multiplication...Dear=D=Division -->mutliplication and division are done together in the same step from left to right
Aunt=A=Addition...Sally=S=Subtraction -->addition and subtraction are done together in the same step from left to right

P...E...M/D -->....A/S -->

Handy to have tricks like that, I think. Good to be reminded. And fun to try a few problems to practice the order. Feel free to challenge me with a few problems to test my ability to follow order of operations.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

October 13th Vocab Challenge

My challenge is to build a sentence with all three of today's vocabulary words. As with all other vocabulary posts, feel free to correct my use of the words, make suggestions, or anything else that might help me study. Here's my sentence:

In an utterly disingenuous defense, they argued they hadn't sought a filibuster but instead had been so moved by the problems with the proposed law that they debated it at length extemporaneously.

Tonight we did "vocab light" because I got a super late start. Unfortunately, math will have to wait, though I did a small amount of non-blog-based studying of math today. Goodnight!

October 13th Vocab Words

Note that I study all material, even that which is just a review. Feel free to post challenges for me, make memorization suggestions, correct misused words, or whatever else you want. The reason I am doing this is for the fun of an interactive study experience.

Below are three vocab words, with a link to a sound clip and definition as well as the definition given by my study manual...and several vocabulary sentences made up by yours truly.

filibuster (noun, but also has verb form): intentional obstruction, especially using prolonged speech making to delay legislative action (also has a specific military definition, according to the linked dictionary entry)

  • Filibusters are a side effect of the importance we place on legislative debate.

  • The late senator was the master of filibusters, and I am not sure she actually wanted to get anything accomplished during her term.

  • In a power play, they threatened a filibuster.

  • Filibusters unfortunately brought to a halt many efforts in the civil rights movement.

  • Is an obstructive filibuster democratic, or even constitutional?

  • Sometimes it is necessary to have a filibuster to communicate the intensity of feeling on a matter.

  • Filibusters can't stop true change in public interest, which will stand the test of time and eventually become legislative change.

  • Filibusters may have a role in the built in system of "check and balance" which is so critical to democratic process.
Extemporaneous (adjective): improvised; done without preparation

  • Her sermons often took an extemporaneous turn, and most of the time they were brilliant, but on occasion her congregation worried she was lost on her own path of words.

  • His advice, which he gave to me often and extemporaneously, was of little value in the real world.

  • In retrospect is was unsafe to take responsibility for her medication routine extemporaneously.

  • My extemporaneous speeches are almost always unnecessarily long-winded.

  • I would like to improve my extemporaneous speaking ability while studying at the university.

  • He was raised in a faith tradition in which extemporaneous preaching was considered the work of God, and if he had come to church with a written sermon, his congregation would have worried the Spirit was not moving in their worship.

  • It was a "pop quiz" and her answers were extemporaneous, which explains her anxiety over the score.

  • I was most inspired by the chapter on extemporaneous preaching.

ingenuous (adjective): artless; frank and candid; lacking in sophistication

(By the way, according to, disingenuous means pretending to be ingenuous, i.e. pretending to be more naive than one is. That is, being "deceptive in the particular way of pretending to be innocent or ignorant of something." If that is the case, it is oft-misused. However, according to other sources it simply means not frank or candid, as in '' insincere."

  • His explanation was ingenuous, but I didn't expect anything different, as his understanding of the material was surface-level.

  • I worried more than anything about appearing ingenuous in front of my colleagues.

  • She was ingenuous in our conversation, and it was clear to me that her role in the murder was incidental.

  • If he had not been so ingenuous in all his other speeches, I would have considered his apology little move than political stunt.
  • I would have preferred to have come off ingenuous than disingenuous, as from the start I was seen as dishonest.
  • It was ingenuous to require all performers to sign in and out of rehearsals, as the cast had only three members.
  • My contributions to the dialogue were unfortunately, in retrospect, ingenuous.

  • He was ingenuous but not unintelligent.

The Method to My Madness

A kind person wrote to me today concerned with my focus on studying very specific vocabulary words and math concepts.

If it is comforting to anybody, I am using a highly recommended study guide called Cracking the GRE, which comes from the fairly well-regarded Princeton Review. Basically the method to my madness is their method.

The good news is that even if I don't end up needing their specific vocabulary words on the test, just studying the words and trying to make them into sentences is strengthening my writing muscles, which should help me on things like my Statement of Purpose and application essay questions.

Rest assured that I am also spending a lot of time doing practice test questions. Right now I find that it works better to do those off the blog, but I may experiment at doing some on the blog later on.

Oh yeah, and please don't feel like you need to be a scholar or somehow extra smart to post here. First of all, this blog is largely for the fun of learning together and I'm surely as clueless as you are, and second, any and all comments are most welcome (assuming, of course, they're not cruel or something) including cheerleading, jokes about the material or the process, or whatever else you want to throw into the mix to help make this fun!

Blogger Technical Details

I am breaking from studying in order to post some information that might be helpful to friends I've asked to participate on my blog but who haven't explored this side of the internet yet. :-)

1. Everything on the blog is my work.

2. Yes, I would love it if you would write your thoughts/ideas/corrections right on the blog.

3. Thanks for being willing to try to help!

4. To submit your thoughts on any of the posts/entries, go to the bottom of the entry and click on the comment number. This takes you to a page that will say "post a comment." Write your comment in the text box.

Then blogspot will ask you to select a profile. If you yourself have a gmail address, blogspot blog, or google account, you should select "google account." If you have another type of blog, you can select the type.

However, if you don't have any such accounts, simply select "name/URL" and when prompted type in your first name or your "handle" (handles are those things that look like: "olyfriend09" or "SmartOne" or "comski3341" or whatever).

Then click "post a comment." You may be asked to do a task that verifies that you are a human, not a computer. Your comment won't show up right away because I have "comment moderation" turned on in order to avoid spam-y stuff (folks who post on blogs to advertise something they are selling), etc. But it will show up, and I will be ever so grateful you posted!

Enjoy, and thanks again!

Monday, October 12, 2009

October 12th Vocab Challenge

My challenge is to build a sentence with all three of today's vocabulary words. As with all other vocabulary posts, feel free to correct my use of the words, make suggestions, or anything else that might help me study. Here's my sentence:

Despite her fulmination about the lack of leadership on the issue of affordable housing, the policies she authored enervated those working toward affordability and in fact contributed to the inurement and enhancement of the position of for-profit housing entitities.

By the way, what is the relationship between the intransitive verb and adjective form of inure? I don't understand how they could mean such different things. I want to know the history there!

October 12th Vocab Words

Note that I study all material, even that which is just a review. Feel free to post challenges for me, make memorization suggestions, correct misused words, or whatever else you want. The reason I am doing this is for the fun of an interactive study experience.

Here are three vocab words (this must be depressing vocab day), with a link to a sound clip and definition as well as the definition given by my GRE study manual...and several vocabulary sentences made up by yours truly.

enervate (verb): to weaken; to reduce in vitality (or as adjective: lacking physical, mental or moral vigor)
  • The recession has had an enervating effect on my friend Eli, who has been out of work for months and has yet to get up the steam to begin applying for new work.
  • This particular word enervates my vocabulary studies, as it has no appeal to me when I try to use it functionally in a sentence.
  • Each instance in which she stole a block of cheese or a box of butter from the market enervated her, until her moral substance and will to do right-- let alone her belief that she was worthy of upright behavior--no longer existed.
  • The war was enervating for the troops, and the soldiers returned home broken and disillusioned.
  • The heat was enervating, and we were soon out of water, but we kept up our strength with spirited conversation and the common will that we would all survive.
  • Early parenthood and the resulting disturbance of sleep can not only enervate, but cause something of a temporary insanity.
  • In a self-destructive effort to enervate, he proceeded to create a self-loathing, self-depreciating list of his top 100 worst qualities.
  • Listening to her speech served to enervate rather than motivate her audience of medical interns.

fulminate (verb): to loudly attack or denounce (noun form is a salt that is often explosive)

  • In his attack on the politicians, he fulminated at length the whole lot of them.
  • His lecture was a fulminating one, full of harsh words for all but the top students in his class.
  • At length she fulminated, and by the end of the conversation she had demolished the candidate's rapport with the community activist.
  • If you publicly fulminate in any way, you will no longer be considered a fair and unbiased reporter.
  • She didn't plan to fulminate on the city manager's lack of accountability, but by the end of the city council meeting she had had enough.
  • It was hurtful enough to listen to the fulminating and mini-lectures, but when the direct insults began, I simply walked out.
  • Sometimes, a little fulminating is exactly what is needed, as we tend to look at these issues with too great an apathy.
  • I'll blame my excessive fulmination on the fact that I had just had a very long week and these particular matters stir in me the greatest concerns for our shared future.

inured (adjective): accustomed to accepting something undesirable (an an intransitive verb is inurement, which is to become of advantage)

  • The children in this foster home had all become inured to parental drug use, so the foster parent behavior did not raise alarms and unfortunately was long silently considered as a given.
  • She was so inured to hardship that it became her strength.
  • (Verb form) She wrote the contract for the inurement of the company's interests.
  • Having become inured to the conditions of the classroom, he did not realize that some children had electric lights under which to study and desks at which to sit.
  • In prison he became inured to the constant verbal batterings of those who had authority.
  • Having no idea that the same behavior might provoke in others intense recoiling, she treated her bodily discharges as inevitably public events just as she had become inured during her childhood with her abusive, exhibitionist mother.
  • Inured to the truculence of his father, he had no idea that he could be treated with any manner of kindness, let alone predictability.

October 12th True Confessions

I have a dark secret.

I do not have a memory for numbers. At all. In the 3rd grade we were required to memorize the multiplication table starting from the lower numbers and working our way up. It took me so long to complete the task of committing each to memory that the assignment ended before I was past 5x! I was so discouraged and ashamed that I never did finish. Instead, I developed a math phobia, though fortunately certain multiplication facts somehow did stick with me over the years of math that followed (for example: 6x6=36 and 9x9=81).

Still, in high school and college math classes, I depended on my calculator to make up for my basic math deficits. And it did. Until now. Now I don't get a calculator, and honestly, it freaks me out.

It is ironic that in my journey to grad school, the thing I am studying the most is third grade material. It is diminishing to my self-esteem, and I find myself regretful that I am "wasting" time now patching up things I let slip in the past. But this is a timed test, and seconds count. I need to be able to do the basic math almost without thinking so I can do the more complex math without hesitation.

If anyone has any tips for memorizing 5+ in the multiplication table, I am interested. My neice reminded me yesterday that I can use my hands to do 9x every interger through 10. I plan to memorize the 9x, but this is a good tool for double-checking my work so I can practice, say, while sitting in traffic. It also will make it easier for me to double-check my calculations during the test.

Any other ideas?

Friday, October 9, 2009

October 9th BONUS Vocab Word

Note that I study all material, even that which is just a review. Feel free to post challenges for me, make memorization suggestions, correct misused words, or whatever else you want. The reason I am doing this is for the fun of an interactive study experience.

Here is today's bonus word, with a link to a sound clip and definition as well as the definition given by my GRE study manual...and several vocabulary sentences made up by yours truly.

alacrity (noun): eager and enthusiastic willingness
  • I began the effort with alacrity, but my enthusiasm waned as I realized how few people were willing to help.
  • The level of alacrity she demonstrated was encouraging, as we needed a foreman who did not hesitate.
  • He had so much alacrity from the start that his movement into management was inevitable.
  • There is no task I approach with more alacrity than one involving food preparation for parties.
  • As a new attorney, she objected with alacrity, reveling in the use of her hard-earned legal skills to block an unfortunate line of reasoning.
  • He was surprisingly helpful and started out with so much alacrity that I had to slow him down in order to keep up myself.
  • I would have come to my project with more alacrity if I had not been so exhausted from the last one.
  • He felt upstaged by the young interns, who came in with alacrity and ideas on which he had long ago given up but that were now received by the higher-ups with interest.

October 9th Math Review

Do you remember the handy rules for division? Here they are, for review. Since calculators aren't allowed during the GRE, I have to practice and increase my time with basic math.

  • An interger can be divided by 2 if the units digit (the last digit of the number) can be divided by 2.
  • An interger can be divided by 3 if the sum of its digits can be divided by 3.
  • An interger can be divided by 4 if the last two digits form a number that can be divided by 4.
  • An interger can be divided by 5 it the units digit is 0 or 5.
  • An interger can be divided by 6 if it is divisble by both 2 and 3.
  • I don't know a rule for 7 or 8. Do you? Oh wait, I just looked it up and for longer/bigger numbers, they are divisible by 8 if the last three digits form a number that is divisible by 8. Hmmm...not sure how useful that is. 7's rule also doesn't look particularly useful. If you double the last digit and subtract it from the larger number, if that number is divisble by 7 than so is the complete number. I think the lack of usefulness of these rules is why they weren't included in my GRE study guide.
  • An interger can be divided by 9 if the sum of its digits can be divided by 9.
  • An interger can be divided by 10 if the units digit (the last digit of the number) is 0.
  • An interger can be divided by 11 (this one is complicated) if you add the odd digits and add the even digits to get two values, then subtract them, and the difference is an interger that is divisible by 11.
  • An interger can be divided by 12 if it can also be divided by both 3 and 4.

Example by yours truly (please use the rules yourself and check my work):

549,810,653 (a totally random number)

  • Not divisible by 2 because the last digit is a 3 which is not divisible by 2
  • Not divisible by 3 because the sum of the digits, 41 if I added correctly, is not divisible by 3.
  • Not divisible by 4 because the last two digits form a number, 53, which is not divisible by 4
  • Not divisible by 5 because the last digit is not 0 or 5.
  • Not divisible by 6 because it is not divisible by either 2 or 3.
  • Unsure about 7 and 8.
  • Not divisible by 9 because the sum of the digits, 41 if I added correctly, is not divisible by 9.
  • Not divisible by 10 because the last digit is not a 0.
  • Not divisible by 11 because 24-17 (if I did those sums correctly) is 7, which is not divisible by 11.
  • Not divisible by 12 because it is also not divisible by 3 and 4.

It looks like 549,810,653 might just be a prime number. What do you think?

Edited 10/12/09: I found a handy prime number calculator online, and learned 549, 810, 653 is not is divisible by 7. Ah, one of my blind spots.

October 9th Vocab Challenge

My challenge is to build a sentence with both of today's vocabulary words:

I could have stood for the deceit, the prevarication, if he had only not been so truculent, so searing toward me in everything I did and so prone to angry outbursts during the smallest of problems between us. Divorce was inevitable.

October 9th Vocab Words

Here is where the fun begins! This is the first of my GRE study posts. Note that I will study all material, even that which is just a review. Feel free to post challenges for me, make memorization suggestions, correct misused words, or whatever else you want. The reason I am doing this is for the fun of an interactive study experience.

Here are two vocab words, with a link to a sound clip and definition as well as the definition given by my GRE study manual...and several vocabularly sentences made up by yours truly.

truculent (adjective): fierce and cruel; eager to fight
  • By nature she was truculent, and I did not want to provoke her.
  • Because of his truculence, we walked on egg shells throughout the evening.
  • We knew he was truculent, but we had no idea he was violent, and that he had the capacity for murder.
  • That stage of my life was characterized by my reputation for truculence, and I had a reputation as something of a badass.
  • It wasn't as much that she was truculent as that she was not only shrewd but also spiteful.
  • Why such a truculent individual had been invited to what would have otherwise been a pleasant and friendly event is a mystery to me.
  • I am sure they think of her as truculent, but a more compassionate perspective is that she is afraid and verbally lashing out in terror.
  • If only he wasn't so truculent, his wit would be a source of friendship.
prevaricate (verb): to deliberately avoid the truth; mislead
  • He doesn't prevaricate, as he really does believe the things he says.
  • She was rightfully accused of prevaricating. She had indeed set out to destroy their reputations, and she clearly felt prevarication was the most efficient way to do this.
  • It was our president who prevaricated time and again, to the detriment of our national credibility.
  • I regret my prevarication, and the financial ruin I caused many individuals in the process. I intend to be an honest, upright citizen once released from prision.
  • Though I had a tendancy to prevaricate, it seemed only creative expression from my point of view, and I didn't realize at the time the damage I was causing simply through the things I said.
  • If you continue to prevaricate, we will need to dismiss you from your duties, as building trust with our clients is the most important aspect of our work here.
  • It is fortunate he outgrew his tendancy to prevaricate.
  • If you get what you want through prevarication, you don't deserve what you get.

The Timeline

Below is my application to-do list week-by-week. Though it helped to write this out for the purposes of pacing, just looking at it makes me overwhelmed. I have no idea how I'll fit it all in. If only that GRE requirement hadn't been added.

Application Process To Do List

Week of October 11th:
∆ Study at least 1-2 hours daily for GRE
∆ Make initial 1-2 contacts at schools (1 hour)
∆ RSVP to open houses, etc.

Week of October 18th
∆ Study at least 1-2 hours daily for GRE
∆ Make another contact at schools (1/2 hour)
∆ Research paper (find or, if not found, decide what to do)
∆ Attend a class or event

Week of October 25th
∆ Study at least 1-2 hours daily for GRE
∆ Make another 1-2 contacts at schools (1 hour)
∆ Work on statement of purpose

Week of November 1st
∆ Study at least 1-2 hours daily for GRE (including 1st practice test)
∆ Register for GRE if not already done
∆ Take care of transcript requests not yet completed
∆ November 2nd Open House
∆ November 4th Open House

Week of November 8th
∆ Study at least 2 hours daily for GRE (including 2nd practice test)
∆ Make another 1-2 contacts at schools (1 hour)
∆ Work on statement of purpose

Week of November 15th
∆ Study at least 2 hours daily for GRE (including 3rd practice test)
∆ Work on research paper
∆ Attend a class or event

Week of November 22nd
∆ Study at least 3 hours daily for GRE (including 4th practice test)
∆ Take the GRE at end of the week
∆ Send reminders to recommenders, as needed

Week of November 29th
∆ Work on research paper and statement of purpose
∆ Have folks review draft statement of purpose and research paper
∆ Register for GRE retake, if needed…then study
∆ Are transcripts in?

Week of December 6th
∆ Retake GRE if needed
∆ Send reminders to recommenders if needed
∆ Attend class or event
∆ Complete one of the application form sets

Week of December 13th
∆ Update CV and submit to all websites
∆ Complete one of the application form sets
∆ Revise statement of purpose and research paper

Week of December 20th
∆ Complete one of the application form sets
∆ Revise statement of purpose and research paper
∆ Make any additional school contacts needed

Week of December 27th
∆ Complete one of the application form sets
∆ If possible, have folks do a final review of written work/revise
∆ Submit applications by January 5th at the latest

My Stats

Boring really, but just to get it out of the way, for anyone interested, below are some of my stats.

On the timeline through this point:

  • I was last in school summer of 2001.
  • I only decided to take this leap in spring of 2009.
  • In late August/early September I learned the GRE was a new requirement of one of the schools to which I am applying. None of the other schools require it, but I *really* would like the opportunity to study at the school that does require it.
  • One school requires a college research paper. I know I wrote at least one really good one, but due to the time I have been out of school, I have not been able to find it. I also haven't been able to locate the instructor I had for that class to see if he might have it.

On the schools:

  • I am applying for the M.Div program (Master of Divinity).
  • I am applying to four schools: two particularly "prestigious schools," one school for reason of denominational affiliation, and one school that is the oldest theological school in the nation (very historic!).
  • The two "prestigious schools" have an early January deadline for applications. The other two schools have a rolling admissions systems, but I plan to apply to all schools around the same time so that I can compare offers.
On my chances, from an academic standpoint:

  • I graduated as an undergraduate with a 4.0/4.0 GPA. I received a few academic awards along the way.
  • I went to a small university that isn't particularly well-known and isn't in any way prestigious. However, it was a private university rather than a public college.
  • For financial, communting, and other reasons, I did some of my coursework at two different community colleges (at one, I received a 3.8/4.0 one term due to a B in one class) and at a public university.
  • I don't have a language or humanities background, which will be a factor made in the considerations of at least two schools.
  • Most schools ask for two letters of academic reference, and I only have one. I believe it will be a very strong one, but full department turnover at my alma mater has made getting a second letter an insurmountable task (hunted and hunted, but failed to locate my other professors).
  • I have two (actually three for schools that require four total letters) professional letters of reference that I believe will be strong.
  • I have terrible test anxiety and don't do particularly well on standardized tests. That combined with lack of lead time for studying, I think adds up to poor GRE propsects (though I pray otherwise).
  • I really believe I would thrive and do best in a highly challenging academic setting, if that counts for anything.

A little on my life:

  • I am married.
  • I have two very young children.
  • I work full time and pick up side jobs to make my finances work out.
  • I am a night owl.

First, to Explain Why

I am starting this blog because of three realizations today:

1. My GRE study flashcards aren't cutting it for me. As I considered my expanded study options, an interactive blog seemed the least dull.

2. I really need to commit time to doing all the activities involved with my application, especially studying. Blogging about the process publicly is an easy way to hold myself accountable.

3. I made a to-do list last night and got overwhelmed. As a linguistically-focused person, it helps me to hash things out verbally, even on the computer screen, to keep myself sane.

I had one qualm about starting the blog, and that was that I would give away all my good secrets to others trying to get into the same programs. Of course this is ridiculous for many reasons, not the least of which are: (1) that I really don't know what I am doing thus don't have any good secrets, and (2) that chances are I'll be the primary person reading my blog.

So, welcome to my funny little land of grad school application madness!