Routinized

Exhibit 1.8.26

My Career

Screen Shot 2014-04-09 at 9.23.02 AM

Has been going great in my absence from this blog. Apparently I published a book on business process management. Fire away with any questions on that. Which I know about. So much.

Comment / Posted in Business, Careers, Routinized

Exhibit 14.10

Updated Map of My Neighborhood


Since I last updated the map the city has added several more holes which close off both of my convenient routes to work unless I want to find myself enholed. And by work I, of course, mean going to the plasma center and dropping a few pints to buy a few pints.

It’s okay if you didn’t laugh. That’s just our little plasma donating joke. It’s not for everyone.

Oh, and I discovered which of my neighbors is using a garage to run a home mechanic business which really seems to be booming. I badly want to take my car there, but I feel like there might be a code I don’t know. And my car is working okay. Still, it’s nice to know they’re around fixing cars and using a code.

Anyway, for the moment, my route to work looks like this:

And I don’t even get to drive by the Nehru Memorial Museum anymore.

4 Comments / Posted in Lincoln, Prime Ministers, Routinized

Exhibit 4.18

Countdown to GRE Literature Subject Test.

Days left until test: -2

The GRE Literature Subject Test is either a cruel indictment of the contemporary English department or a hilarious joke we aren’t going to get until later. I like to believe the former, that Dinesh D’Souza and a bunch of people from the Heritage Foundation have infiltrated ETS in order to produce a test with such wide source material that to study anything after the Romantics will become simply impossible. At one point after I finished, thinking over the test in the hallway with a piping hot cup of vending machine French vanilla latte–which, by the way, was delicious–I had begun to come up with a list of authors who weren’t on the test or whose importance was marginalized by the scant number of questions. Then I forgot it all. It doesn’t matter.

The test is a bizarre and pointless attempt to freeze the canon by means of exclusion. With only 230 questions to cover millenia, something has to be left out. This is a natural. Our canon does it perfectly well by itself. Some works hold the public–or at least the academic–consciousness for awhile and then either grow in import, diminish, or disappear. Some are reclaimed, some stay on the margins, some are just gone. Thankfully, technology widens and shallows the canon–just like the Platte!–but it’s still there. What we shouldn’t do, what the test does, is try to retroactively rewrite history to place some works on pedestals for the sake of nostalgia, nostalgia not for the work, understand, but for a time when the work was taught.

Frankly, I’m unconvinced a lot of the work on the test was ever an essential part of anyone’s education, but I know that’s not really the point. I guess the easy critique is that its a test that tests itself rather than your education. In other words, the test is really on the GRE Literature Test and not Literature itself. That’s true. It’s also true that ETS has at least tried to reflect a change in scope, including a few questions on V.S. Naipul and Said, African-American literature, and quite a few on theory. This is a good thing, of course, except to those who appreciate the Great Books focus of the rest of the test. Once questions have to be asked about not just what but how much, the whole goal of the test seems to get muddied. Is it to test how much a person has read? If so, is the goal to test what was learned as an undergraduate or a lifetime of reading? Is it about identifying the works or understanding them? If what’s on the test is important is what’s off the test not?

It’s that last question that ultimately makes the GRE Lit pointless. Ignoring any other motives–and there are motives–ETS is bound to produce at least four (assuming each round of tests uses the exact same test nationwide) different tests a year and they surely avoid using the same questions, making a work given space on one test completely irrelevant to another. It’s defensible insomuch as we’re willing to say what the test is really doing is sampling general knowledge, but it also makes the test completely irrelevant for the purposes of understanding someone’s knowledge of English literature. Unlike, say, physics where the concepts are static and the numbers can be changed, writing a GRE Literature test is about eschewing what might be considered more important knowledge in favor of less important for the sake of question diversity.

I’m sure I did fine on the test, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s a test which encourages not reading the works in question. The only Shakespeare on the test was A Midsummer Night’s Dream and I suppose if I’d read all of his plays just for the test, I’d feel like it was a waste of time right now. The two questions, one of which could have been answered without having read the play but I’ll ignore that, represented a full 1/115 of the possible points on the test. To have read the major Shakespeare would have cost points in the long run since the time could have been better used memorizing character names or rhyme schemes.

Since ranking the work and asking questions weighted to their perceived impact on literature is equally as absurd, there really doesn’t seem to be a viable option to conduct a test like this. Of course, you knew that. Everyone knows that. Oh well.

Things you should know about the GRE Literature Subject test:

  • 1. The actual test is far easier than any of the practice tests. This is mostly because the questions that test comprehension are written much more clearly . Or, at the very least, are written in such a way that correct answer stands out against the field.
  • 2. Every question should be answered. There was only one question where I couldn’t eliminate at least one or two of the potential answers, meaning that the odds were in favor of getting enough guesses right to outweigh the penalty for incorrect answers. That question I didn’t even guess on was a passage about furniture from this guy. Heather knew it because she’s familiar with his chair from Martha Stewart magazines.
  • 3. You can go to the bathroom. And not just in your chair. ETS says you can’t but our people allowed it.
  • 4. Despite the Princeton Review and other books asserting that most people don’t finish the test and to really focus on using your time wisely, neither Heather or I felt at all crunched for time.
  • 5. If I had it to do over again, I would have studied all of the poets differently. Rather than pointlessly trying to understand their rhyme schemes, styles, and influences, I would have focused more on their themes. It would have been much better just to know that a mention of God=by Donne.
  • 6. On a similar note, unlike the practice tests, there isn’t much trickery going on here. I didn’t notice any times when ETS would mix it up by having an excerpt from a work that seemed inherently different than the author’s perceived style/subject matter.
  • 7. The test is much more shallow than you would imagine. Author’s rarely get more than one set of questions (and sometimes only one question) so at most not knowing an author costs you three or four questions. Since the test doesn’t generally reach into obscure work, just know names of characters of the major work.

Favorite question: Was asked to identify the beginning of The Good Soldier. I didn’t actually answer the question but instead just wrote BEST BOOK EVER over the ovals. I’m sure they’ll count that.
Least favorite question: Besides the chair passage, there was also a strange Middle English question which wasn’t about the work itself but about what other excerpted work used the same story. The options for answering this question were literally gibberish.
Bizzare: Heather and I were killing a few minutes in the car before the test, and I happened to make a reference to “The Fall of the House of Usher.” Heather said, “Who wrote that?” I said, “Poe.” She said, “I knew that.” This sort of confused amnesia is the magic of the GRE Lit. So with a few minutes left I glanced at some flashcards and randomly read two or three in a row out loud, one of which just happened to be about Eugène Ionesco.

You probably know where this is going, but there just so happened to be questions that directly asked who wrote “The Fall of the House of Usher” and another on “The Bald Soprano.” Considering there weren’t any questions on, say, the Brontes, Melville, Dylan Thomas, Dante, and only one each for Shakespeare and Dickens, I find this somewhat extraordinary. I mean, Ionesco? Who would’ve thought he would be, literally, one of maybe two or three post-1950 questions.

Also interesting: Cunning readers of this blog who were also test takers would have noticed a question nearly identical to the one from a practice test I posted on the blog before. Oh, Mrs. Proudie, I know nothing about you except you were created by Trollope!

Comment / Posted in Proudies, Routinized, Tests

Exhibit 2.24

Took the Gallup Strength Finder (2.0!) for work and now have a new set of strengths based on questions like:

I am routinized vs. I am zestful

Sadly, “Routinized is an ugly, hateful word” was not one of the options.

My strengths:

Command
Foosball
Finding Coke Machines When Thirsty for Coke
Intellection
Playing as Axel in Streets of Rage 2 and 3 but not 1

That sounds about right
2 Comments / Posted in Intellection, Routinized, Streets of Rage