Tuesday, March 30, 2004

This, too, will do. Auto Inquisition, Part the Three


The 1950's philosopher, life-stylist, and occasional performer,Chuck Berry had a technique for eliciting information. In his treatise, Thirteen Question Method, he noted,
"The thirteen questions method is the one to use.
The Thirteen Questions Method is the one to Use.
The THIRTEEN QUESTIONS METHOD is the ONE to USE. (His emphasis..his repetition)
The thirteen questions method, if you want to have some FUN."

And so, here's a version of that method adapted for college aged children inquiries. If the subject being questioned is flummoxed, note that that answers have been provided so that multiple choices for the questions are available. This procedure can be used as vehicular small talk or as a take-home inquiry in the privacy of your child's dorm room.

The Thirteen Questions Method
"Communications with a Son @ College made easy"

Dear _____________,
Please check the appropriate choice and return the complete questionnaire to the parent most concerned with your current status @ college. This is a multiple choice set-up, to minimize brain-lock on the child’s part and to encourage expediency in response. A pen/pencil is not provided as the parent hopes that the bushel of school supplies purchased by said parent at the beginning of the school year still contains at least one writing instrument. There are no grades given for answers as the only wrong answer is the question not answered at all. As with all matters of the child-parent ilk, speed in providing a completed form is of the essence. All questions of the verbal & written order should be targeted to the parent, who will be most grateful to have any such contact with their offspring, for whom they have sacrificed their lives as (choose one):
a) Nuclear physiological semanticist
b) Cumulative problemist
c) Barry Bond’s Public Relations specialist
d) Mother Theresa’s ex-nutritionist
e) Ghostwriter for Joyce Carol Oates

Let the inquiry begin!

1) How are you?
a) I..........am.
b) Speaking from the cosmic sense, I have been experiencing the total depth & breadth of higher education from the primordial events associated with morning ablutions to the late night howls, hoots, chortles, hackling, and snores that emanate from my semidiurnal awake dorm mates.
c) I am the sponge. College is the spill.
d) It’s not really a question of how I am, but more of how I will be. Since, I am only in my (insert year# here___) year at college, I haven’t decided if my B.S. will be in the field of Prescience. Therefore, any answer I give you would be more of a guess than a true analysis of the situation.
e) I miss home a lot...a REAL lot.   I even miss our non-flushing toilet, our demon possessed neighbor, and our 3 legged dog.   I miss it....I miss it all.

2) How are your studies coming along?
a) Oh, they come & go, speaking low of Michelangelo.
b) Studies imply an active process. This semester, all of my courses have inertness as the center piece of studies.
c) If my studies were our family van, I'd say the car's up on the rack and the mechanic is shaking his head (and phoning his travel agent to say..."Yes, go ahead and book that family vacation we'd been planning to Europe...the cash cow has arrived").


3) How's your roommate? Are you & he/she getting along?
a) Who? What?
b) In grammar school I never got that "seed of Satan", "Beelzubub", "666" stuff. Too hard to visualize. I can safely say that I don't have that visualization problem any longer.
c) What's an alternative lifestyle? Is it, like, O.K.? I guess what I'm getting at, do you think it's alright that I'm sleeping in the student lounge each night and George/Georgette is using my PC all the time because his mantra contains the letters "D" "E" "L" "L"?   I'm just asking you guys; I remember those commune stories you'd let slip out at Aunt Marnie's wedding last summer.

4) How are your grades looking these days?
a) Looking?  It's not polite to stare, so we're at the "just exchanging glances" stage.
b) It's a mutually agreed upon scenario. They are ignoring me.  I am ignoring them.
c) I know it's been a century since you went to college (although you speak of those days to me as if they were just yesterday), but,  you know, college these days is no longer just about the grades.   It's much more than that. It's about evolving into a complete person, what with all that that requires...which, let me tell you is a lot.
d) Do you mean cumulatively or, like, individually?    Be "more clearer" and "more accurater". Sometimes I don't really get your understanding of the question.
e) I was one dimensional when I first got here. I'm now two dimensional. So, I guess, my grades will reflect that.  Don't you think?

5) Are you going to any parties on campus?
a) There are parties here? I am much too immersed in the profundities of second derivatives to be aware of such goings on.
b) I am not Mohammed; I am the mountain. The parties come to me.
c) They are a pre-requisite here. You know…I get graded on them. You'll be really happy to know they're helping to pull my GPA up to a 1.8!

6) I noticed that there are quite a lot of great speakers coming to your college. Have you had time to attend any of their seminars?
a) See answer# 5 a).
b) Whew! Like they are WAY too smart for me to understand in my freshman year. I'm shooting for my junior year before I'd feel comfortable challenging myself with listening to these type of people.
c) Do they have anything to do with my major? No? Then why would I be wasting my time in the lecture hall with them when I could be chillin' with my crew in my crib (getting sloshed with my frat brothers/sorority sisters in my room).

7) How are you managing with your finances?
a) Woah!  That money thing is pretty complicated. And studying too?  I opted to get all that currency & billing stuff handled by this guy in my dorm who takes care of the entire floor's financial dilemmas. Mr. Minderbinder is a good guy; he wears suits, so I know he means business. Just wish I knew what "M & M Enterprises" stood for? Did I tell you I don't have a mattress anymore? Yeah! Mr. Minderbinder said it's being invested in a Pig farm…but I have an additional share of  "M & M". Milo said he could be helping with your finances too. He only needs $500 to get you your first seat license in the new science building they'll be building…shortly. He said it's best if you wire him the money ASAP to get in on the ground floor...oh, yeah..the seats themselves are an additional $1,500, unless you don't mind sitting on a pillow..on the ground floor.
b) Didn't realize they were "my" finances. I thought we were in this whole college thing together?!
c) I’m Baltic Avenue living like Park Place.

8) The college brochure seems to be festooned with pictures of attractive women & men. Are you involved with any of them? How about others? Ones that may not be featured in that brochure?
a) For an adult, you are so naïve! Those pictures were taken at Stepford U.; I've been duped to go to a place where everyone looks like me.
b) There are no other people here, be they not men...be they not women. I live in a stainless steel clad 8 X 8 room watching the Style channel all day long. These are the Real People and they are all speaking in high falsettos.
c) Sheep say "baaahhh", most of the time…

9) Are you getting enough 1) food 2) sleep and 3) exercise?
a) No to that….cubed.
b) Time management is truly a skill that I'd advise for any entering college type person. It's amazing how many things you can do at the same time…and none of them well. I'm malnourished, dizzy, and barely able to walk. Other than that, things are looking quite spiffy.
c) I used to be so linear when it came to time. Now that I'm more into circumvolving the time issue, I can honestly say yes, with a +/- of 2-3 days.

10) Your mother asked that this question be inserted, so careful on this answer. How clean is your room, in a classical Roman/Greek/Shakespearean way?
a) The Augean Stables have nothing on me!
b) What's a little dirt amongst friends, colleagues, Romans, country men. No need to borrow or lend cleaning products in this crib.
c) Who would have thunk Math can be so useful? My professor, Dr. Vinnie Bimbambush, loves Chaos Theory and has us all involved in some grand experiment. I get to use words like "aperiodic", "nonlinear", & "fractus".  I am also exempt from touching my room as Dr. B says it would mess up my Mandelbrot set. The Doc lives large!

11) Are career options being considered as a factor in your course selections?
a) Don’t you remember? I switched my major from the sciences to the arts. So, this "factor" stuff is not something I’ll be covering. I forget; is "career option" a factor of 5 or was it defined as a function of a square root? I’m really glad I got out of that math stuff.
b) Good thing you guys gave me that gift certificate at Christmas for The Gap. I think that gave me an "in".
c) I checked the IRS website.   "Professional Student" IS considered an "Occupation" for Form 1040 purposes.

12) How are your summer plans shaping up? Any job prospects?
a) I'm "on the job" here at school!? I need the summer for some down time; you know, all that battery charging scenario thing.
b) Did I tell you about my Econ course this year? Useful stuff, that. Turns out that if I did get a summer job, consequences to the labor pool would cause an inverted spike to the Labor Productivity co-efficient. Would you want that to happen? I'll bring home the charts and do a Powerpoint explanation, from the microeconomic viewpoint, detailing the necessity for me to spend this summer down the Shore.
c) It’s good you used the word "prospecting".   When you’re mining for precious metal, sometimes you hit a strike and sometimes you don't. I’m "mining" for a job, but the prospects don't look like strikes to me.

And the final question is…..

13) Still on track for graduating in 4 years?

a) Absolutely!!   Luckily, I'm a sophomore so I just know that I'll be done in
another 4 years.
b) Absolutely!!  Luckily, I'm a junior so I just know that I'll be done in
another 4 years.
c) Absolutely!!  Luckily, I'm a senior so I just know that I'll be done in
another 4 years.
d) Guys, I'm just a freshman...how do you expect me to finish in 4 years!?

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