Well, I knew it was coming, and it had to happen, but today I got the email letting me know that my first student loan repayment is due at the beginning of next month. So, for the next 5 years, I’ve got that to look forward to. Unless, I can somehow manage to pay it all back early.

I don’t have a lot to complain about, when you break it all down, I didn’t borrow that much money and the interest rate is reasonable. I managed to get my associate’s degree at the community college for less than half of what I paid for my car.

Of course, I’m only 8 months away from adding my wife’s student loan payments to that monthly mix. Essentially, between the two of us, we’ll be adding another car payment to our monthly bills every month.

The good news, you don’t need to have full coverage student loan insurance.

I wanted to showcase the stuff Lady Ronn made in her 3D Design class. They used a bunch of different materials, and as with most of these school projects, they had some specific guidelines to follow. Which can often lead to some frustration, but I’m pretty impressed with each of these things my lovely wife has created.

A life-size clay bust sculpted from a photograph. A wire and plaster sculpture. A bird made out of cardstock. A chair made out of cardboard that could have no glue, staples, tape, or any other additional fasteners… all cardboard and nothing but cardboard. A sculpture made out of various bits and bobs of miscellania. And lastly, a two piece bit of carving that had to incorporate the excess plaster from the earlier sculpture. Each piece took a lot of effort and each is very nicely done.

The lovely and talented Lady Ronn is taking a video class this semester and has given me permission to share with you, her first two projects from class. Now, I will simply preface this presentation by saying that outside of capturing some home movies on our Super8 camcorder back in the day and some phone video of concerts and family, she has no background or experience with making films. So these are quite literally the first two things she has done in the medium. I may be biased, but I think they’re pretty impressive for a couple of early attempts.

Project #1 “Explore Grand Rapids” is a minute long walk around the city and stars our middle son, Zack. And since this is the first project, we’ll start with it. Enjoy.

Project #1

This second piece I’ve mentioned a few times here on the blog, because, well, I’m the star of this one. This is her take on a 5-minute documentary. It runs a bit long of the 5-minute mark, but that’s to be expected when you’re dealing with me. Here’s Project #2 Ronn McCarrick: Creative Investigator.

Project #2

The music gets a little loud in places and the logo montage I made for this is a mess, but I wouldn’t let her edit any more than she did for school. I’m a big ‘ol jerk like that. Besides, it’d be another 3-weeks before I could share it. Because, of course, she’s still in school and still working on other projects and reediting a thing she’s not getting regraded on would not be at the top of her priority list. So you’re getting to see the same thing her classmates did.

I think she did a great job with both of these and I am both proud to put them up here at arohen.com and happy that she’s willing to let me do that. Besides, if it were up to her this stuff would just sit on her harddrive and no one would ever see it. Which is unacceptable.

My degree has finally arrived. August 16th, 2019 was the big day. September 18th, 2019 they went in the mail. September 20th, 2019 I pulled them out of my mailbox. I have been awarded the degree of Associate of Applied Arts and Sciences Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning/Refrigeration Technology.

Associate of Applied Arts and Sciences


It only took 1,081 days, just 14 days shy of 3 years. I’m glad I did it, but I’m not sure what I get out of it. You know, beyond the satisfaction of going to college, educating myself, and completing a goal. I mean, I’ve been doing HVAC for 20 years, this associate degree doesn’t really change anything. But, I did it!

As an added bonus, and I guess I should have anticipated it, I also received the HVAC technology certificate. I did not actually apply to receive that, so it’s a nice bonus that they saw that I had fulfilled those requirements and sent me that as well.

HVAC/R Technology Certificate

I have to say, the wording on these official documents is a bit lackluster. If I were to tell you that I satisfactorily fulfilled the requirements for anything, I think the base assumption would be that I’d done the bare minimum. I’m sure it’s all in the interpretation, but I’m not going to be impressed.

Despite the cynical tone, I’m very happy to finally have this piece of paper in hand. I put a lot of hours into getting this degree. I enjoyed the college experience and there is a big part of me that wishes I was continuing on to a Bachelor degree, but I just can’t justify it in my mind. It’s a lot more time. The working life of any such degree would be relatively short. But mainly, it’s a LOT of money to go to university and I’m already looking at a not insignificant amount of student loan debt.

So, for now I’m going to bask in the reflected light from these two pieces of paper, knowing that I accomplished a thing and that I accomplished it with aplomb.

63 Credits / 232.360 Grade Points / 3.688 GPA

And the final score: an Associate Degree from Grand Rapids Community College.

I may have my Associate of Applied Arts & Sciences degree from Grand Rapids Community College, but Ferris State University isn’t impressed. I just took a call from the coordinator of their HVAC program letting me know that he can’t let me into the program and wanting to explain why. Apparently, I do not meet their minimum requirements. I have the science and I have the english, but he says he can’t let me in without more math. Math 107, minimum. Math 107 – Intermediate Algebra, 108 – Trigonometry, and Math 110 – College Algebra, recommended. So, get that done and reapply. The program begins in May.

And that’s just to get in. The coordinator made sure to tell me that there is more math once I get there. But not to worry, the program only goes to pre-calculus. They don’t require calculus to get their bachelors degree. Great.

I took the accuplacer math exam in 2013 when I started GRCC. That came back and said I should start with Math 98 – Elementary Algebra. I took Math 103 – Technical Math as an alternative for the HVAC program and did well (I think a B+). But that’s still a long way from Math 107 and makes Math 110 seem very far away, indeed.

the only subject that counts

At a bare minimum I will need to retake the accuplacer math exam, as it’s only good for a year. Assuming that I do about the same as I did last time I’m looking at MA 98, MA 107. That’s 8-credit hours and I could do one in the Fall and the other in the Winter and get in to Ferris. If I take the coordinator’s recommendation; I take the placement test, MA98, MA107, MA108, and then MA10. Doing that would put me in the Ferris program in May 2021.

The coordinator gave me one other piece of information that I found interesting… Going part-time I can expect to be done when I’m 57, if I start next May. With all the math to do before I even get there, I’ll be looking at 58. Which is still 10-12 years from retirement.

This just started looking like a much bigger mountain to climb.

Things to think about. Back to the basement. Later.

All my math the other day turned out to be right. I earned an A in Biology 101. And I’m very happy with that. I pulled the grades from a different place this time, so they’re formated a little differently… Also, can you imagine how different my life would be if I had worked this hard in high school. I know I didn’t have a 3.688 GPA back then, it was probably more like a 2.something-or-other.

  • Term GPA 4.000
  • Cumulative GPA 3.688
BI 101General Biology4.00GradedA16.000
COM 131Fund of Public Speaking3.00GradedW

The final grade hasn’t been posted, but class is over and all the quizzes, labs, tests, and assignments have been graded and posted to Blackboard. All of the numbers are there. We have all the pertinent information. Let’s see if we can’t figure out how this will turn out.

You know what, wait. I want to show off my test scores first. This will also be a lesson in why it’s important to study. See, tests 1 and 2 I did the bare minimum of reading and studying, which is to say that I did the assignments and that’s it, test 3 I really hit the material hard, and test 4 and the final, I did less studying, but still way more than those first two tests.

84/100 Test #1
84/100 Test #2
98/100 Test #3
92/100 Test #4
98/100 Final Exam

Weirdly, because I didn’t do anything extra that I know of, I also managed to get 102.3/100 for the online MasteringBiology course work. Not sure how that happened. But, as you can see from the scores above, a little studying makes a big difference. Anyhoo, let’s get back to the exercise at hand.

Biology was broken into two classes – the online lecture and the in-class lab. The lecture was worth a total of 660 points. The lab was worth 205 point and counts as a quarter of the total biology grade. The posted grade totals look like this:

Biology Lecture grade 618.3/660
Biology Lab grade, 208/220

Lab seems to have too many points. …checking… …checking… …checking… Okay, got it. Only 13 of the 14 labs are being counted; you’re allowed to miss one. Also, the lowest quiz grade gets dropped. Each lab was worth 5 and each quiz is 10, which would make it 192/205. Hmmm… you drop below 200 and it feels less great. Kinda shitty, really. But let’s see… This is supposed to be 25% of the total grade …doing math off screen… I think I’m looking at a 93-94%. Which means …checking the syllabus… 93-100 is an A, so if my assumptions are correct and my math is right, I should get an A in Biology. And if I don’t I’m going to kick myself for not doing the extra credit work that was posted on Thursday.

do the work

I imagine the official grade will be posted next week and we’ll all find out if I’m right. Later.

Tonight, I left work early and went to the testing center where I took Test #4 and the Final Exam for Biology 101. Not sure how I did, but I feel pretty good about both tests. Afterward, I went to my Biology Lab and did the last of the lab assignments. And that’s it. I’m done.

I think I mentioned that I applied to Ferris a few weeks back. Maybe. Honestly, I don’t remember. Well, whether I mentioned it or not, I did. Last night was their Fast Track to Ferris event at GRCC and I went with transcripts in hand. I was expecting to get the green light and hear I was accepted, but it turns out that my transcripts need to be reviewed by the powers that be in the HVAC program. So, I’ll have to wait until next week to get an actual decision from the school.

If I get accepted to Ferris, I imagine I’ll be back in a GRCC classroom soon enough, as they are about an hour closer to me than the main campus in Big Rapids, and credits transfer between the two schools.

If I don’t get accepted to Ferris… hah, who am I kidding. There’s very little chance of that happening. But if it were to happen, I don’t really have a plan. Maybe I’d take my bachelor’s program in another field of study and at another school.

But for now, and for the summer, I’m done. Grades, and more, to come as these things are revealed to me. Later

A little biology exercise from class last week reveals a few things about me. And as I’m in class tonight, I thought this would be as good a time as any to show what I’ve been up to in Biology 101.

PTC Taster: I am not a taster. OTher than the taste of wet paper, which is unpleasant in it’s own way, I did not taste the bitterness of the phenylthiocarbamide. So, homozygous recessive for this trait.

Tongue Roller: Do I have the ability to roll my tongue into a tubelike shape? Am I a “tongue roller”? Yes. Yes, I am. And I’m not ashamed of that at all. Seems that I have the dominate allele for this trait.

Widow’s Peak: I’d rather not talk about hairlines, but if we must. A widow’s peak is a pointed hairline on the forehead. You know, like Dracula. I don’t have that. Does this mean I’m not a vampire? I’m not, but the reason is because I don’t have the dominant allele for this trait. Yep, another recessive trait.

Attached Ear Lobes: Look at those ears. Look at them. Are them lobes detached from the side of my face. Are they? Look closely. I’d say they are more detached than attached, but I have a fat head and that distorts everything. I’m calling this one another dominant trait, detached ear lobes.

Bent Little Finger: The end joint of my little finger does not bend inward (toward my other fingers). So that means I’m not a martian. No. What it actually means is that I have another recessive trait, this time for straight pinkies. Woot! Woot!

Hitchhiker’s Thumb: Does your thumb bend backward at the end segment when you make a fist and hold your thumb out? Like when your hitchhiking. Not that you’d do that. That’s just where the name comes from. Don’t hitchhike, it may not be safe. There’s a lot of crazies out there. You’ve seen the movies. You know. Be careful. Anyway, back to the test… I do not have a straight thumb. The end segment of my thumb has a slight bend, not much, but enough for me to confidently say that I have the dominant allele for hitchhiker’s thumb. It also improves my chances of catching a ride when the car breaks down and leaves me stranded on the side of the road.

Mid-digital Hair: Each of your fingers is composed of three segments. If any hair grows on the middle segments you’re a martian. Okay, maybe not a full blooded martian, but you have martian ancestors. Not really. This is not an indication of martian blood. But maybe it should be. What it is, if you have this weird finger hair (and I do… a single hair that grows occasionally on both my middle and ring fingers. So weird.), it’s an indicator of a dominate allele for mid-digit hair growth. You and I might want to look at gene therapy for this particular affliction.

Thumb Crossing: What? Yeah, I know. It’s not that. Clasp your hands and notice whether your left or right thumb is on top. Now switch them thumbs around. That’s not part of this, but it’s not comfortable; is it. Personally, I’m a big fan of the left-thumb being on top. If you feel the same, like me, you’ve got another dominant trait. That’s right, left is the proper thumb crossing way to be. Dominant, baby. Dominate!

Iris Pigment: Is there any color other than blue in your iris? Is there any color other than blue in my iris. Let’s gaze into each others eyes and see. This won’t be weird at all. I promise…. WEIRD. Let’s stop. My eyes are mostly blue, but I think eyes are not really a monochromatic. There’s all sorts of speckles and what not in there. But I guess I’ll call this not non-blue, which means that I have the recessive version of iris pigmentation. And all that staring by you… you’re a freak. I don’t know what’s wrong with you. Just go look in the mirror next time. Weirdo.

Dimpled Chin: A dimple in the middle of your chin is caused by martian blood. For real this time. It is. It’s a scientific fact. Ask your doctor. Okay, it’s not. I lied. Sorry. I shouldn’t do that. It’s just another dominant trait. I’d say I’m dominant in this as well. Not Henry Cavil or Kirk Douglas dominant, but it’s there.

giffing around

There you have it. You’ve learned a little bit about me and maybe about yourself as well. And don’t worry about all that martian stuff. If your blood isn’t green they’ll never know. You can pass as an earth-human. No worries about the martian hunters. We’re good. Later.

I sent an email to my advisor earlier this week asking about why I was unable to register for a math class in the Fall 2019 semester. She could have responded simply and told me that the math assessment is only good for a year and then you need to retake it. But she didn’t. Instead, and I’ll shorten this up for y’all, she said I don’t need it, I don’t need the other fall class I signed up for, and that with this biology class (assuming I pass), I’m done with my degree path and need to register for graduation. And as an addendum, she mentioned that now that I’ve completed my program, I will not be able to get any more financial aid until such time as I enroll in a bachelor’s program at university.

Apparently, student aid does not pay for me to just take whatever classes I want. Go figure.

In other GRCC news, I had no doubt that I had failed my first Biology test, but it turns out that I scored an 84. I do not know how that happened, but I’ll take it.

With just the one class, I’m slightly less busy, but not so much that I have a lot of time for other stuff. Tonight I took a break from school work and did basement work. I started trimming out the shelves in the basement. I managed to get quite a bit done, but it’s not finished. Not by a long shot. I still think it’ll be the end of June before I get back to doing regular stuff for the house and the website.

Enough is enough. This class, or rather this instructor, is too disorganized for me to do this in the short summer semester. I received an email this morning, that was sent out last night at 9:38 PM, with a list of things to do, have done, and bring to class tonight. I’ll spare you the details, but this is an email that should have gone out on Friday so that we had the weekend to do this stuff. Not on Sunday night when everyone has shut off their computers for an hour of TV before bed, work the next morning, and then a quick rush off to school after that. Or at least, that’s my schedule.

Anyway, this email put me over the top. Sure, dropping the class leaves me 2-credits shy of the 6 required for my student loan. And yes, Friday was the last day to drop classes and get full reimbursement, so I’ll be paying for the books and half the class. But I cannot do it. I cannot manage this class along with Biology, work, and life.

So in a bit of a snit, I dropped public speaking this morning. And that’s going to cost me a pocket full of cash. But it’s done. Let’s move on.

This may be rough going. I’ve done two classes each for Public Speaking and Biology lab. I haven’t even started on the Online Biology lecture; that’ll be this weekend. And it feels like a lot to do in this condensed Summer semester. I may have bitten off more than I can chew. Again.

I went and spoke with a college advisor, and that seemed like a waste of time. I am on track for my degree, so I was right about that. He printed me out a page showing me the non-HVAC requirements for the Ferris Bachelors. From this, I did learn that I can take enough transferable math classes at GRCC to keep me here another four semesters. So that’s a thing.

After that meeting I tried to sign up for next Fall’s Algebra class that the math assessment placed me in, only to have the computer reject that request. So now I need to talk to the math department in order to get approval to take the class they told me to take.