Autoblography Part 13: The Secret of Atlantis

By Shamus Posted Thursday Sep 15, 2011

Filed under: Personal 306 comments

shamus_1983.jpg

“Shamus, you have straight D’s this year,” the teacher says sternly. Unlike when I was little, my sixth grade teacher has the courtesy to meet with me alone during recess, rather than humiliate me in front of the other students when he needs to chastise me. I really appreciate this.

I nod. We’re just about halfway through the year. I knew this conversation was coming. I’m in sixth grade now, and my last two teachers had this same talk with me at the same point.

He looks down at the ledger he uses to to track grades and homework. The grid is speckled with little penciled X’s where kids have missed assignments. At the bottom of the page, next to the name “Young, Shamus”, is a long row of unbroken X’s, marching across through the weeks and months of schooling. It looks like the scorecard of a man who just bowled 50 strikes in a row. I know better than to show it, but I get a bit of perverse pleasure when I see this. I think about all the vast hours of homework I didn’t do, and am relieved.

I still hate school and refuse to bring any of it home with me. When I think of school I think of the bullying and the teasing and the rejection, and I’m anxious to put those things out of my mind when I escape at the end of the day.

“Here is what I’m going to do,” the teacher says. “I’ll erase aaaaall of these missed assignments if you promise to apply yourself and do your work from now on.”

I like this guy. Kind of. He’s not mean, or unjust. He assigns me homework, and I have a bit of a grudge about that, but I understand it’s his job. He works hard to get me to do homework, and I work hard to avoid doing it. It’s nothing personal. It’s like the Ralph the Wolf and Sam the Sheepdog passing each other at the time-clock on the way to work in the morning. I also knew I’d get this deal, because I was offered the same deal the past two years. My record will be cleared in exchange for a promise to buckle down and start working. Deep down, I want to do the work. Or rather, want to have the desire to do the work, which is the key ingredient I’m missing here. I accept the deal with a little guilt, knowing that I’m probably not going to hold up my end of the bargain. Then again, surely he knows how this deal is going to turn out? I can’t imagine these three teachers could all offer me precisely the same deal without discussing it.

I also sense that this whole grades system is probably a sham. The odds of me reliably getting straight D’s in all subjects, year after year, without managing to fail any of them, is shockingly low. I couldn’t orchestrate such an outcome if I wanted, and I strongly doubt it happened by chance. I didn’t know what to make of it before, but now I’m suspecting that these people have decided to pass me, regardless of whether or not I do any work.

Other kids have failed. Every once in a while there are whispers that so-and-so’s older brother was held back a year. I kind of suspect that they were held back because they weren’t learning. I do acceptably on tests, and demonstrate that I’m absorbing some of these lessons in spite of the daydreaming. So the teachers seem to be allowing me to slide by, while doing their best to wring work out of me when they can.

The big change in my schooling is that I have Mr. Markle for Special Ed. He is the finest teacher I’ve ever encountered, or ever will. He wins the kids over with jokes and an earnest interest in our well-being. Once my guard is down, he uses this friendship to trick me into taking a more active role in my own education. I do more work for Mr. Markle than for any other teacher, and I hate letting him down.

As in the past, I leave the regular classroom and visit Mr. Markle for specific subjects during the day. Other kids in grades four through six have the same arrangement. Since the various rooms all keep their own schedule, this results in kids coming and going at regular intervals. Sometimes there are as many as six students in the room at once, which is a lot for a Special Ed class. Mr. Markle has to work with each of us independently, and with a lesson crafted for that specific student. Someday I’ll be married to a schoolteacher myself, and I’ll come to appreciate just how much work this is.

Sometimes he deliberately challenges me with something hard, which I adore. Sometimes he drills me to make sure I retain the basics, which I loathe. He’s often adamant that I need to do my homework – especially my homework from my other subjects, which I routinely neglect. This is often a sticking point between us. He can’t find a way to motivate me to work, and I can’t find a way to avoid making him mad when I refuse to do it.

Fifteen years later, my wife found herself working in this school as a substitute teacher. She reported a very similar impression of Mr. Markle as a boss. He’d risen to principal by then, and was apparently a joy to work for. He was enthusiastic about kids learning, more a teacher of teachers than an administrative manager. He was the sort of guy who, if they had trouble finding a substitute for a classroom, would happily jump right in and teach the class himself. I never saw or heard of a principal doing that, ever, during my time in school.

Heather mentioned me, and he remembered me. “I always knew he was a smart kid,” he said. It made my day when those words made it back to me. It was half my lifetime later, and I still valued his approval.

Alas that he retired in 2009. Still, I hope he’s enjoying the retired life to its fullest, and I hope he gets a double helping of years in which to do so.

This is actually my third year with Mr. Markle, but the past two have been such a smear of stress and misery that I wasn’t really learning so much as enduring. It’s not until this year that I really appreciate just how much I like this guy and just how much I look forward to his lessons.

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a few years know that I wrote that one sci-fi novel. What you don’t know, is that this was my second book. My first book was this one:

My book has an artifact that looks like four interlocking triangles. You can’t accuse me of copying the Tri-Force from Legend of Zelda, since my book pre-dates the first Zelda game by three years.  I had to keep explaining that the cover image was meant to be a montage (a task made harder by the fact that I didn’t know the word “montage” yet) and not a single literal image. My writing has improved over the years, but my drawing has remained largely unchanged.
My book has an artifact that looks like four interlocking triangles. You can’t accuse me of copying the Tri-Force from Legend of Zelda, since my book pre-dates the first Zelda game by three years. I had to keep explaining that the cover image was meant to be a montage (a task made harder by the fact that I didn’t know the word “montage” yet) and not a single literal image. My writing has improved over the years, but my drawing has remained largely unchanged.

Yes, little Shamus, who hated writing, who never did any assignments, who refused to do homework, and who was daunted by a single worksheet, sat down and filled in 130 pages of a blank book with a contrived and thematically disjointed adventure tale.

In one long binge over the course of several months I made up for years of wasted spelling, writing, and penmanship classes by writing a “Choose Your Own Adventure“-style book. Looking at it, you can see all of these skills improve as you progress through the book. (Although the progression is obfuscated a bit by the fact that the book wasn’t written linearly.)

When the book is done, I bring it with me to class one day. My teachers are stunned. I really wish I could hear what they have to say about it in private. Well, on one hand, Shamus doesn’t do his work. On the other hand, here is a massive effort and demonstration of ability. On the other, other hand, we can’t just act as if Shamus did half a year of homework because he shows up with something crazy like this. I mean, even if you did, how would you grade it? But at the same time, this clearly demonstrates the kid is learning and… geeze. I dunno. What the hell is wrong with this kid, anyway?

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Mr. Markle is very encouraging. I loan him the book, and he reads it to some of the other kids in his other classes. This creates a sensation of pure joy that I will not experience again until I become a blogger and have people spontaneously share my work on Reddit, Stumbleupon, and Facebook.

The book is not a brilliant example of the medium. It’s borderline unreadable on the early pages, the story itself isn’t particularly gripping, the choices are arbitrary, and most of the endings are stupid “gotcha” deaths. I’m not even particularly interested in the Atlantis mythos. I just picked Atlantis because there aren’t currently any CYOA books about Atlantis. Despite its shortcomings as a work of fiction, it’s an excellent illustration of the fact that my problem was always one of focus. I am a slave to my passions. I either must work on something, to the point of obsession, or I can’t work on something, regardless of punishment or rewards offered. There seems to be very little middle ground.

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What was the catalyst for this book? Maybe I was capable of this because I’m no longer on so many drugs. Maybe the huge improvement in my home life gave me a safe place where I could be creative. Maybe this was a natural result of my increasing maturity. My Stepfather Dave has a relentless work ethic and doesn’t complain in front of the kids, so perhaps this is my first attempt to emulate him. Maybe I am just one of those kids who needed more development time before I could produce meaningful work. Maybe it was Mr. Markle’s encouragement and dogged instance that I could do better.

At twelve years old, I’m not able to see any of this objectively. When teachers ask me why I wrote this, or how, I don’t really have an answer. I just had to write it.

 


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306 thoughts on “Autoblography Part 13: The Secret of Atlantis

  1. DGM says:

    Hmm. There’s something… missing. A break in the sequence, as it were.

    Superstitious much, Shamus? Is your life story a hotel? :P

    1. Mom says:

      Hahaha I got to the comments after he fixed it I guess. Well done comment.

      1. DGM says:

        Thanks, although I’m actually a little disappointed to find that he wasn’t doing it on purpose. Still, it’s amusing that 13 would be the number he skips by accident. :)

    2. Mari says:

      He probably has a whole chapter that’s supposed to go in between yesterday and today but opted not to post it as an exercise in his 5th Amendment rights. :-P We might have solved the Southside Slayer killings, if only he had posted it…

      1. DGM says:

        Yeah, we missed out on Shamus’s “meddling kid” phase, where he ditched school to run around with a gang of kids and a suspiciously anthropomorphic dog solving crimes. Clearly the whole “pet allergies” thing is just an elaborate alibi to cover up his association with such people.

        Can’t imagine why he left out that chapter of his life. :P

      2. Shamus says:

        I actually cut part 11, and re-numbered subsequent parts. I felt like I was belaboring the point with regards to the dark year. Then I messed up the re-numbering when I posted this.

        1. Mari says:

          I like my theory better. Let me keep my fantasy about how awesome your life as a precocious serial killer was.

          1. DGM says:

            Poor Shamus. He opens up to share his life story and we give it the MST3K treatment. We are such bastards. :P

            1. Mari says:

              I know. I’m a bad, bad person for mocking Shamus’ touching and fascinating life story. Hopefully Shamus knows that I don’t bother to tease and mock people I don’t like.

  2. Jake Albano says:

    I either must work on something, to the point of obsession, or I can't work on something, regardless of punishment or rewards offered.
    I feel this exact way. Glad to see it’s not just me…

    Any chance of the book ending up on the internet in its entirety? :)

    1. Deoxy says:

      I was glad to see that in writing, too – I’m not quite that extreme, but I feel very close to it… especially in the area of creative works (which is one reason my writing has been so completely non-productive for about 2 years now – sigh).

    2. I guess that depends if Shamus decides he needs to work on it to the point of obsession ^^

      1. Isy says:

        How do you deal with this, Shamus? I have the exact same problem.

        1. uberfail says:

          Find ways to profit from your obsession.

        2. Kayle says:

          Possibly symptom of autism or ADD, or at least, those are the diagnoses that various psychiatrists have applied to me. Anti-ADD drugs seem to help a bit.

  3. Vlad says:

    It’s simply amazing how you managed to find both your passions at such an early age, and then stick to them throughout your whole life: coding and writing.

    My mind is boggled. I hardly know what I want to do with my life NOW at twenty-three, never mind when I was twelve.

    1. Mom says:

      He didn’t get it fom me. I am 66 and still don’t have that sense of calling. Alas.

      1. Kerin says:

        HI SHAMUS’S MOM. You raised a fine boy, there.

        1. BeamSplashX says:

          I would echo Kerin’s sentiments, but calling a man older than me “your boy” is odd. He is a good man, though.

          You hear that? You’re a good man, Shamus Young. A damn good man indeed.

          If you want Shamus to fall from grace, turn to page 2
          If you want Shamus to challenge the Trials of Greatness, turn to page square root of -i.

          1. Destrustor says:

            A good man, who has a great life filled with awesome people.
            It apparently only gets better and better over time, you lucky ba***rd.
            I wish you the best. To you and your whole family, Shamus.
            Thanks again for writing this. It’s fascinating.

          2. Chris says:

            Fall from grace! Fall from grace!

            1. krellen says:

              She was a pretty interesting character.

          3. Sec says:

            Being the nerd that I am, I have to chime in that the square root of -i is (1-i)/sqrt(2). Assuming you have imaginary pages, I don’t see a problem with irrational, imaginary pages at all :-)

    2. SolkaTruesilver says:

      I *think* I found mine this year, at 25.

      Never despair, dude. Just keep your eyes open, and never doubt you can do something you really love.

    3. burningdragoon says:

      No worries. Coming up on 24 in few months and I’m in the same boat more or less.

    4. Caught a glimpse of my calling at age 18
      Didn’t recognize it until age 28 (a decade too slow!!)
      Took one TV and broadcasting class in high school (not really much of a class…we did announcements each week, the days in between spending time with video cameras)
      I did a few short movies that garnered me a bit of fame in my school
      Graduated high school, muddled through community college…ended up getting a job as a night security guard
      Decided that “well I can draw decent enough, maybe I’ll get a job doing that”
      Got into art school, went through a storytelling class and discovered the mind blowing joy of story-boarding
      A part of my TV classes was supposed to be story-boarding, but I never bothered to do any of the work
      10 years later, I have a degree in illustration and am pursuing a career in what it appears I was meant to do all along ;)
      That’s a lesson to pay attention to your life more >_O

      1. Sumanai says:

        When I was 13 I thought that I should learning coding, but the teacher was bad at it and it didn’t hold. When I was 14 I felt like writing, but I lost all will to do it since. Coding I’ve done a bit, but despite having better teachers I never got into it for some reason. Now, at 25, it’s occurred to me that both of those are closest to “my calling” than anything else.

        Sure there are reasons, but missing two things, for over ten years, that I enjoyed and not attempting to make a job out of either of them? Bloody ingenious.

        1. Aldowyn says:

          You had more than a basic computer course available at 13? Huh.

          1. Sumanai says:

            It was very basic programming course that was almost useless. The teacher knew next to nothing about programming and didn’t really teach it as much as show us pieces of codes that worked. Most of the time. One time there was a minor mistake in one that made it not work so she had to ask the IT guy for a fix. And it was an obvious mistake for anyone who knew what they were doing, yet she hadn’t bothered to learn that much.

            Also, I chose the course when I was 13, it started the next year. Don’t remember if I was 14 yet though, since I was born in September and school started in August.

    5. krellen says:

      I shall soon be 35 and I still don’t know what to do with my life.

      1. HeadHunter says:

        It’s comforting to know that I’m not alone in this regard. I often tell people “I’m 44 and I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up”. I’ve been working for over 25 years, I’ve done all sorts of things… but nothing that combines a sufficient earning potential with work that I can do passionately.

        People are always quick to tell you “do what you love and the money will follow”, but one thing I have learned in the last three decades is that dreams don’t pay the bills.

        So I keep hoping for that serendipitous opportunity – and I’m listening more carefully than ever for it to knock.

        1. The Infamous Catbag says:

          I’m just 22, still in University – but I feel a little worried that the “sit tight and wait” mentality won’t work! :P

          I say, if your current dreams don’t pay the bills, you explore. find new dreams, find new loves, explore a topic you haven’t touched in your entire life – then when you find it, find a way to make a living from it, and go for it!

          1. krellen says:

            I’m a bit busy paying bills at the moment.

            1. Alexander The 1st says:

              But it pays off in the end…apparently.

              ~~~~

              For myself, I’m 22, and I started my degree pretty sure what I wanted to do for a job. Then the video game industry changed, there was that uptick in Indie game development, my city is now flooded with more game designers than Medieval Japan had ninjas and samurai combined…and while I *want* to still do it, I want to…well, make money while doing it. In part so I could use the money to make more games.

              If we drop the $60 price fixture, then…umm…I guess I’m going web development. I have more experience there as it is, but…”I’d rather be [game developing]!”

    6. Eärlindor says:

      I’ll be 22 by the end of the year. Same boat.

    7. Irridium says:

      I’m 20, and the same as you pretty much.

      When I was really young I wanted to be one of 3 things though, an Archaeologist due to my love of dinosaurs, an train engineer due to my love of trains, or a robot maker(is that even a job?) due to my love of, well of robots.

      Not really as passionate now though, but now that I think about it, I may look into ’em a bit more. Not like I got anything else going on.

    8. Blake says:

      I’m 25 myself, basically always knew I wanted to do something to do with computers.
      Apparently when I was 4 the people running the preschool realised I wasn’t antisocial because I was weird, but because I was smarter than the other kids and they bored me (I could’ve told them that if they asked). They noticed this when they’d ask what a book was about and they’d all look at me while I read the title.
      So mum took me to the library, made me a read a Dr Suess book I hadn’t been exposed to, I read that and proceeded to find myself a big weighty electronics and engineering book to read to her.

      Around this time we got our first PC (an 80286!) and I was enamored.
      I remember reading the DOS 4 manual at one stage (we had DOS 3 then DOS 5, but somehow the manual for 4 was all we had) and by early primary school was writing BAT files to do clearly awesome things like print giant ASCII welcome messages when you boot up.

      I then got into Berkley Logo, Klik ‘n Play, Microworlds and other such things and knew very early I wanted to make games for a living.

      So I did.

  4. Maldeus says:

    I can’t help but find it a bit ironic that Chapter Thirteen is probably going to be the emotional high point of the autoblography until some time past high school.

  5. Scott Richmond says:

    Something I’ve always felt true was that, in general, you need to have had some long period of having led/been led by a shit life to go and then create some masterpiece.
    “Its our experiences that define us.”
    That, to me, holds the key to the way you are now and the passions and skillsets you have now. I don’t think its any miracle or amazing turn around to see you take a life of extreme introvertedness and generally shit life, if you don’t mind me saying so, and apply it to a creative outcome.
    Thats not to say you should be thankful for the cards you were played of course! But, I believe every experience good and bad have an affect on ones life later on. And I think your creative passion is an outcome of your life as a child.

    1. sab says:

      I second this motion. But maybe that’s just an easy way to relate my current brilliance to some extremely bad events in my childhood ;)

  6. klasbo says:

    He was the sort of guy who, if they had trouble finding a substitute for a classroom, would happily jump right in and teach the class himself. I never saw or heard of a principal doing that, ever, during my time in school.

    I’m not sure if this is a requirement in Norway, but all the principals of the various schools I’ve gone to are educated as teachers, and quite often still have teaching roles (or are capable of taking those when a substitute is needed) in addition to the administrative position.
    The principal of my university also has a doctors degree in a sub-area of marine technology, which means he has had a teaching role as part of that position at the university.

    Is the system different in the US?

    1. Shamus says:

      Principals are (in my experience) chosen from among teachers. It’s just that, once they found their way out of the classroom, they didn’t care to teach again.

      EDIT: Fixed “principle”.

      1. Zaxares says:

        “Principals”! It’s “PRINCIPALS”, Shamus! Don’t make me get out the ruler! ;)

        As for over here in Australia… I’m not completely sure how the system works. Most principals I know do come from a teaching background, but they typically undertake higher learning to become qualified for a principal’s position. I have a friend who’s a teacher. I’ll ask him next time I see him.

        I do remember this one teacher from High School who seemed to have been around FOREVER though, and we were actually told by another teacher that the reason he refused to accept a higher position was because he LOVED teaching. He didn’t want to be stuck in the Admin office when he could be in class with the students, so he constantly turned down promotions to stay in the job he loved.

        1. KremlinLaptop says:

          You should remember it’s PRINCIPAL because the PRINCIPAL is your PAL at school.

          …It’s been what twenty years or so and I still remember this? God dammit. Also apparently one of the worst ways to teach kids things is these memory rule things because they’ll remember the difference, but then probably have no clue what ‘principle’ means.

          As I did for the longest time.

          1. The Hokey Pokey says:

            I don’t know about that. I still remember the difference between its and it’s because of the Strong Bad email song. You know, “If you want it to be possessive, it’s just i t s, but if you want it to be a contraction then it’s i t apostrophe s. Scalawag.” Wow, I just realized that was 10 years ago.

            1. Shamus says:

              This is exactly how I remember it when I have one of those moments of hesitation.

              1. Aldowyn says:

                I just remember that a contraction HAS to have an apostrophe. I do have to actively remember, though.

                In any case, for some reason the principal is really popular at my school (I don’t know why. He just is), but I didn’t exactly hear about him doing any teaching.

                Of course, there’s also like… 4? vice principals? That’s what happens when you have 2000 kids in one building…

              2. Unbeliever says:

                I just remember that HIS and HERS don’t use apostrophes.

                He uses his PC, the MAC is hers, the dog wags its tail.

                It’s just that simple. ;)

          2. Alexander The 1st says:

            You should remember it's PRINCIPAL because the PRINCIPAL is your PAL at school.

            What does the PAL technology have to do with this?

            …Oh. You meant PAL as in “Write to your pen-pal” as opposed to “Why Europe gets their games layef PAL”…Gotcha.

        2. ENC says:

          Generally you have been a teacher before a principal but not always, and usually you apply for the job at other schools rather than ‘ascend’ to the position in Aus.

          Although this is speaking from the son of an Integration Aide, the hardest job a school can have IMHO.

          Has Shamus started coding yet? I can’t recall, and ‘apparently’ you peak at the 10 year mark of starting something like that.

        3. Zagzag says:

          In the UK we don’t have that problem; we don’t actually use the word. We just call them the head teacher.

        4. uberfail says:

          Some teachers at my school have been there for a long time. It’s not to uncommon to hear. “I remember teaching your mum/dad.”
          Even some of the teachers were taught by people who are now their colleagues.

          1. Aldowyn says:

            Ditto. Except my parents weren’t taught at my school.

      2. lazlo says:

        You know, your story of Mr. Markle *really* warms my heart. First of all because good teachers are awesome, but hearing that he was 1) rewarded for his excellence by 2) being promoted to a different position that 3) it sounds like he both enjoyed and did well at is such a confluence of fantastical awesomeness that it’s hard to believe.

        1. Deoxy says:

          Amen to that – that’s a rare jewel of person.

          1. Aldowyn says:

            If we had more really good teachers in schools… our entire country would be a lot better off.

      3. Steve C says:

        Most principals /vice principals I’ve met just kind of suck. They were teachers they can’t teach but can’t be fired either. The result is they fail upwards and become principals. Mr. Markle sounds like exception that disproves the rule.

        Shamus, consider contacting Mr. Markle now. I’m sure he’d appreciate reading this entry and possibly your many other creative and technical accomplishments.

    2. decius says:

      Principals are normally selected from among people who are/have taught, and who apply.

      That selects for the people who want more authority, and against those who enjoy teaching.

        1. MichaelG says:

          A problem with technical managers as well. The ones who love doing engineering don’t want to become managers. Leaving the job to egomaniacs and busybodies who like to run things.

          1. Meredith says:

            I find this is true of pretty much any position of authority. It’s a large part of what’s wrong with politics – the self selection of who even campaigns. ;)

            1. krellen says:

              I want to be involved in politics, but the sheer scale of the work required to do so without a giant pile of money is incredibly daunting. I’m still trying to decide if I want it badly enough.

            2. Alexander The 1st says:

              On the other hand, like krellen said, it’s a whole lot of paperwork.

              I know I worked for a guy who was a manager underneath a manager, and I respected that for every form I had to send him (I was on Co-op education) to get him to fill out half, he had to fill out 3-5 more of the exact same data for everyone else he managed.

              Oh, and he also did programming for a few other projects where I worked.

              Frankly, the self-selection by application is a good screening move – if you don’t want to go through self-initiated application, who’s to say you’d even show up to meetings, let alone do the increase in paperwork you’d need to do.

          2. Mrs. Peel says:

            Speaking for myself, I believe that my job as a technical manager is to create a wall between the engineers and the bureaucrats. I handle as much of the paperwork and stupid red tape (technical, cost, & schedule reviews, internal task agreements, delivery orders, task orders, change requests, etc., etc.) as I possibly can, leaving the engineers to do the actual engineering. I also have enough of a technical background that while I don’t have the ability to design (just…don’t. Wish I did, but I just don’t), I do understand our hardware well enough that I can handle writing the white papers, technical requirements specs, interface definition documents, etc.

            So the only time my engineers have to do stupid paperwork is when they are working on controlled hardware, and typically, by the time we’re doing controlled hardware, the design is advanced to the point where the techs (or I, depending on the situation) do the work. The only time I have a design engineer doing controlled hardware work is if it’s broken beyond my ability to troubleshoot/fix.

    3. Mari says:

      Each US state has their own rules about public education and how principals are chosen and whatnot. Here in Texas principals are teachers who went back to college to learn to be bosses and paper pushers instead of teachers. There’s a whole university degree for “educational administration” that puts you on a different career ladder where assistant principal is the bottom rung and working as a state-level semi-political paper pusher is the top. Most principals here have logged at least a few years as classroom teachers but if they felt early on that they wanted to go into red tape creation they usually log the minimum 2 years and then move on up the ladder.

      1. Heather says:

        Yup. My dad did that (for the better pay), graduated with honors, but from the experience decided he HATED administrators and chose instead to stay a teacher.

      2. Tizzy says:

        To be honest: it is a completely different job. They need to have a modicum of classroom experience for the sake of credibility, but no more.

    4. Aanok says:

      My grandad was principal for a Middle School in my hometown, here in Italy. He didn’t use to actually go and teach in class, but he would attend to other teachers’ lessons, to see if they were doing their job properly or not. Since he had a degree in literature, he had a mathematican as deputy-principal, to cover even scientific subjects in such a way.

      Today something like that would be completely impossible. The teachers would go on a strike or even file a lawsuit against their principal in no time.

      1. Heather says:

        Actually that is considered part of the principle’s job here in the US. They are expected to check on teachers and make sure they are doing a good job (or “good” principles are supposed to.) I did teach with several that actually adored teaching and only took the principleship when there was no one else, and often taught classes in the school they were principle just because they loved it.

        1. Aldowyn says:

          tsk tsk didn’t we go over this? PrinciPAL! (All in good fun, of course)

          But yeah, teachers occasionally get a principal in to watch for a bit, but since there’s so many teachers, sometimes they can’t and a bad teacher falls through the cracks.

          1. Unbeliever says:

            It’s the “Principal” principle. Given half a chance, most folks will spell principal “principle”. :)

        2. Knight of Fools says:

          Unfortunately, most principals don’t have the motivation to care to check up on their teachers, or do more than berate children when they misbehave. Even in my relatively small middle school of 130 children, the principal was a mysterious figure only the bad kids got to talk to. As I got into progressively larger high schools, it amazes me that we even knew that we had one.

          1. klasbo says:

            My experience was more of the “Oh, she’s the principal as well?”

      2. Zagzag says:

        That is part of the UK education system as far as I know. Teachers are inspected several times a year by the head, and often by other teachers

  7. …that looks more developed than my CYOA I wrote around that age…
    (every section ended basically “choose to go to the next section… or you die”)

    1. Zeta Kai says:

      Many of the professional ones were little better.

  8. Because of my hearing loss effecting my language center, I had help with english for special ed in Junior High (7th to 9th). However since I was taking the highest levels classes in my other subjects, they could never put in the time where Mr. Schnell taught english. So I got stuck in geography, history, math,etc. Subjects that I was good or insanely good at.

    So Mr. Schnell had me do this typing program, (from a book not a computer. This was the early 80s). I tell you that was one of the single best things he could have done. It didn’t payoff right away but when I majored in computer programmer it helped a ton and I was forever grateful for him doing that.

    1. Deoxy says:

      So… you’re a computer programmer… AND you can type? IMPOSSIBLE!!!!

      Seriously, I find it a running gag how badly most (as in the vast, overwhelming majority, in my experience) programmers type, to the point that I’ve been wondering what causes it (the ridiculous syntax of the C language warping their usage of the keyboard is my most consistent theory).

      1. MichaelG says:

        Odd. In my experience, most programmers type quickly, but not accurately. They are too used to having a backspace key.

        1. As a programmer, I can confirm this is how I type. Also I don’t touch type, I just use the first finger on each hand and move them very very fast, which is weird but I’ve learnt it now and I’m stuck with it

          1. Jason Cole says:

            A friend of mine uses only his index fingers to code. People laugh, until they realize he is typing faster with 2 fingers than they are with 10. I’m one of the only people he cannot out-type.

            1. Mrs. Peel says:

              Yep, I type with just a few fingers, at 90-95 wpm. I can also type one-handed at 50 wpm with either hand. Not using the home row method works very well for me!

              (edit: I’m not a programmer at all…I simply learned to type before I knew there was a home row method, and said method still seems ridiculously slow and carpal tunnel syndrome-promoting to me)

              1. Aldowyn says:

                holy ****. I’m at 80+ (slower with numbers), and that’s faster than almost anyone I know, but I type with the home-row method.

                The idea is that you don’t have to move your fingers very far for any individual key. I imagine that typing with one hand is similar (I could not do that at all).

                Of course, I’m ridiculously used to typing normally, so I SUCK at typing any other way. I’d hunt and peck about as quickly as anyone else.

                1. klasbo says:

                  There are different typing methods? I thought you just pushed the buttons in the correct order using the finger that was closest at any given moment…

        2. Elec0 says:

          I think we type quickly, but aren’t as concerned with accuracy because of the fact that we use the backspace button so much, if that makes any sense.

        3. swenson says:

          Kind of true for me, in a warped sort of way. I type very fast, but mess up a lot too and have to backspace. Even with this, my typing speed is very good, but still… if I just didn’t use the backspace key, I’m sure I’d type even faster! I put this down to them trying to teach us touch typing in school, though, the one useful thing I recall from middle school. I don’t perfectly touch type (yes, I look at the keys!) but that definitely sped up my typing speed.

          I do, however, have a slight tendency to want to end all my sentences with semicolons, due to C++… doubly so when I’ve just finished a big project for school.

  9. X2-Eliah says:

    Ah.

    You know, this actually explained to me something that I had been wondering about for past few years.. About people and blogging. Myself, I’ve never enjoyed having my essays & other writing assignments read in class, or, God forbid, having to read them to a class myself. No problem in putting it down, it’s the public exposure that has always been (and to some extent, still is) intimidating. (To clarify.. I’ve, interestingly enough, also no problem about having my work read so long as I am not in the same area.. It’s being present and listening, seeing the reactions and being at the focus of constant attention from the group that’s the bad part…)

    This has led to a situation where I haven’t been able to fully relate to people who are adamant, persistent bloggers.. I kind of intellectually understood they wanted to do it, I just had no idea why. Following your autobiography, and this post making the connection, I now see how blogging itself can be seen as a goal, a hobby, rather than an enforced necessity. So, thank you for that.

    1. noahpocalypse says:

      I concur.

  10. DanMan says:

    Hey Shamus, I know you’re writing this for yourself and all, but I thought I’d make a suggestion from something I’ve learned over the past several months on Reddit: When you talk about school grades, just make a note as to how old you were in years as well.

    It seems like you have plenty of international readers who understand how old you are, but one of the top comments when talking about school on Reddit are people from outside the US asking how old “12th Grade” is.

    1. uberfail says:

      How old is 12th grade?

      1. Audacity says:

        The 12th grade is the last grade of regular education in the States. Students are usually 17 or 18 depending on where their birthday falls in relation to the school year.

        For example I was born in January, right in the middle of the school year, so I would have been 18 in the twelfth grade. Or I would have if my awesome parents hadn’t home schooled me. Which let me finish regular school when I was 16 and jump into junior/community college early when I was 17 with the running start program.

  11. Jarenth says:

    Hah, the art on that book is still better than anything I can draw right now.

    42 different endings, huh? How many of those were “ZAP! You never know what hit you.”? :3

    1. KremlinLaptop says:

      Huh. I guess Obsidian writers invented a time machine and get their endings from a youthful Mr Young.

      No wonder you weren’t doing schoolwork, you were too busy writing the end to Neverwinter Nights 2, Shamus!

      1. noahpocalypse says:

        ROFLOL.

        *snicker*

      2. Mari says:

        I think most of them just read the same books as Shamus. I read them all, too. My favorite CYOA books were the ones where you would take what seemed like a logical path and suddenly “Bam! Rocks fall and you all die!”

        1. Heather says:

          I was the book snob who read two of those and realized, “Wow, the writing in these SUCKS!” and moved on to classics. One of the kids like those books now and they drive me NUTS. Though there are some newer picture book ones with puzzles and whatnot to solve on each page so you have a feel for the proper direction to go– those are much more satisfying and fun to read.

          1. Simulated Knave says:

            Fighting Fantasy gamebooks.

            Cheap, nerdy, probably available on eBay (or where Fine Used Books Are Sold), and generally a lot more logical. And you get to kill goblins.

            And often better written, at that.

          2. Mari says:

            I’m a masochist. I just kind of like books where the end is “Rocks fall. Everybody dies.” My favorite movie is “Fallen.” You know, the one with Denzel? It freaks the hubs out that I love reading and watching things where the end is nonsensical death, tragedy, and carnage with no survivors.

            As far as the CYOA books, yes, the writing does suck. Maybe Shamus should try his hand at one again. With his writing skills, he could probably elevate them to the pedestal on which they belong.

            1. Heather says:

              Mari– I think this is one of the few areas where we are complete and total opposites. I am a comedies only person as tragedies of any sort totally put me over the edge emotionally.

            2. Ramsus says:

              I also loved that movie.

          3. Aldowyn says:

            I don’t usually like what most people consider “Classics” (I’ve had to read the Great Gatsby two years in a row now. Not impressed. Looking forward to Frankenstein, though).

            To be fair, some of the more younger-oriented classics (Tom Sawyer was a lot more fun this time around) are a lot better. I like Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, too.

            For the most part, I’m a contemporary fiction reader, mostly 50’s sci-fi (and 50’s style sci-fi, from guys who actually read and learned from the Grand Masters. David Brin’s Uplift series is fascinating) and fantasy following the Tolkien tradition.

            CYOAs? That’s kid stuff.. :P

            1. Heather says:

              Okay, when I say classics I don’t mean American classics– I mean turn of the century young adult fiction (L.M. Montgomery, Louisa May Alcott, etc) and British classic literature. I don’t like American fiction in general (except for Louisa May Alcott). I have very specific tastes and saying “classics” is simplifying things greatly. Not a fan of Gatsby but love Oscar Wilde, Jane Austen, G.K. Chesterton, Dorothy Sayers, C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, MacDonald. That said if I must read more modern stuff, then definitely make it British– Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams being favorites.

              1. TSED says:

                I am an English major right now, getting reasonably close to holding a Liberal Arts degree of MY VERY OWN.

                And I have no idea how anyone can read anything written between ~1740 and ~1920. Dry, far too demanding in form, meticulously boring… seriously, how do you enjoy this stuff? I’ve had to chew through Frankenstein and A Picture Of Dorian Grey and they were the worst reading experiences in my life. I couldn’t finish either of them and made heavy use of plot summaries, random skimming, and so on to get through those classes.

                Seriously, how do you like that stuff? The kennings in Beowulf are great fun, I am currently enrolled in a full-year course of Shakespeare, I’ve got a class of Elizabethan poetry & prose, one of my favourite classes in my academic career was a look at middle-20th-century British & American drama (and I’m Canadian), I adore modernist and postmodern lit… But Wordsworth, or Pope, or anything from the Romantics just disgusts me.

                HOW?! HOW DO YOU ENJOY IT!? TELL ME YOUR SECRETS!

                1. Mari says:

                  It’s easy for me. I fell in love with a genre of literature that was primarily written during the period you enumerate. No, not the Romantics. Their feel-good ideals annoy and frustrate me. I love the yin to their yang, the Gothics. “Frankenstein” and “The Picture of Dorian Grey.” “The Monk” and “The Castle of Otranto.” It started with the Victorian gothics for me but I eventually branched out into the early pseudo-Medieval texts of the Revolutionary era gothicks and even the 20th century gothics of Faulkner and, of course, Lovecraft. Studying those gothics moved me to compare them to other literature of the same periods which is when I finally started reading the Romantics with anything other than revulsion. Basically now anything I read from the eras you mention is read through the lens of “How has this impacted the Gothic tradition?”

                  1. TSED says:

                    Thanks for your time and insight. I doubt that I’ll be able to replicate that method, but it does make some sense. I haven’t gotten around to reading anything gothic (I am very prejudiced towards that time period, as you may have noticed) so maybe there’s a chance. Some day.

    2. Eärlindor says:

      Heck, I’m amazed he simply did something like that.

    3. Irridium says:

      “42”

      I just can’t get over how perfect that is.

  12. MadTinkerer says:

    “When teachers ask me why I wrote this, or how, I don't really have an answer. I just had to write it.”

    I had a similar experience in elementary school, but I learned to compulsively alter the parameters of any assignment I could to fit what I actually wanted to do. “Creative” assignments usually weren’t a problem. However, time and again I had to be told to hold back on my desire to illustrate science papers, book reports, spelling bees, and math tests with cartoons (often involving horrible visual puns) when the assignment didn’t call for them.

    Unfortunately, there was zero leeway for even a little inappropriate creativity in high school, so I got by on as little work as I could get away with. So high school was a giant step backwards for me in many subjects, despite the fact that I technically graduated with more knowledge than I started with. I don’t consider all of my high school teachers to be incompetent, but as a whole they were not nearly adequately prepared to handle a student like me.

    1. Mari says:

      You would have loved my chemistry teacher who required we keep a notebook for her class that she checked at the end of every six weeks. She also required that we somehow “decorate” each section. I was so not a “decorate” kind of person. Most of my section dividers had Xeroxed “Calvin and Hobbes” strips glued all over them. I hated that stupid assignment.

      1. Aldowyn says:

        I hate mandatory “creative” assignments. Probably my favorite one to date (I was expecting to hate this) was coming up with a drawing out of polar functions (circle-based graphs). I came up with a near PERFECT yin-yang (minus the little circles, had to draw those in).

        I got like 10 points taken off for it not being colorful enough.

    2. Tizzy says:

      When I was a kid, we had these awesome lab notebooks, in which every other page was lined for writing, and the other pages were high-grade (heavyweight) blank paper for drawing figures. Unfortunately, we never seemed to use the figure pages nearly often enough; on the plus side, it meant that you could pull them off at the end of the school year for extra drawing paper.

    3. Gravebound says:

      I had the problem that all of my assignments, that weren’t typed out, ended up covered in drawings. After a certain grade (I think 6th) I was told not to draw on my assignments…so I started drawing on the BACK of my assignments. :D

      They had to take it as a compromise, because I wasn’t going to stop drawing.

  13. Mom says:

    ZAP You never know what hit you! Was it a truck? Hahaha

    1. Ruthie says:

      it was a trail-ERRR

      1. X2-Eliah says:

        Well, I certainly won’t have any truck with that kind of pun.

        1. noahpocalypse says:

          Give it a brake!

          1. klasbo says:

            Don’t drive yourself into the ground now.

        1. noahpocalypse says:

          Why did we stop? Did everyone run out of gas?

          1. eaglewingz says:

            Maybe we’re all just exhausted.

            1. modus0 says:

              Now, now, no need to throw any more fuel on the fire.

              1. noahpocalypse says:

                Come on! Throttle it!

  14. Tamayn says:

    I’m sure there’s more at play here, but I think part of it may just be that you had something creative to get out. Sometimes I think the inspiration just hits.

    Your teacher sounds awesome. Part of me wishes there was some way to psychologically test out teachers who either cannot or do not deal well with students. There are a lot of great teachers out there who give a lot of themselves, but there are some people who just shouldn’t be allowed around children.

    1. MichaelG says:

      There’s a really high burn-out rate with teachers. I read something recently that said the average teacher only last 4.5 years. Some of the ones who stay love it. Others probably just get into a routine and coast.

      1. Mari says:

        I don’t know that it’s actually a burn-out rate. I think a lot of young people go off to college, do a couple of years and suddenly realize, “Crap! I’m supposed to have a GOAL and eventually FINISH this!” so they major in education and go teach for a couple of years before they figure out what they “really want to be when I grow up” because in theory teaching must be awesome since you still only work 8-3 and get summers and all the school breaks, right? (And yes, I am aware of how very wrong this point of view is in reality, but I’ve heard those words more than once from non-teachers) Plus I know a lot of young women who do the majoring in their MRS so they opt for education as a handy way to pass the time until they can start a family and become stay-at-home-moms. About 1/4 of the homeschool moms I know taught until they had babies of their own then suddenly realized how much they disliked the entire system, quit teaching and never sent their kids to public school.

        1. Heather says:

          I think this is about right– 2/3 of my fellow education majors were only there because they couldn’t think of anything else to do. And I know I am not the only homeschooling mom who quit teaching because we hated the system and never wanted our children to set foot in that door– in fact I can think of 6 off the top of my head.

          1. Aldowyn says:

            I can agree with this, but (we were talking about this before) no one person (or even two) can teach a child everything they need to know properly, even with a curriculum.

            Not that the teachers in public schools always teach it properly.

          2. Steve C says:

            If you can think of 6 teachers that hate schools, have you considered rounding them up and coming up with your own school-alternative beyond homeschooling? Ditch the system, but keep the synergy of multiple teachers?

            1. Heather says:

              I think homeschooling is a very good way of ditching the system (having been in multiple teachers lounges I can definitely say the “synergy” of multiple teachers is pretty much bull) and encourage others who choose to do so (in fact several people who read this site and interact here are part of a group I run for those on a similar journey with their families.) That said, if there were enough like-minded people locally (there aren’t, not where we live) then a Sudbury school would be awesome.

              1. Mari says:

                As one of those people on a similar journey I humbly suggest that you guys move to Texas and start a Sudbury school with us ;-)

                PS I’m posting this from the girls’ newly rooted nook color. muahahahaha! it’s alive!!!

                1. Heather says:

                  Mari, I concur.

                  I would say much more on education but this is neither the time nor is it the place and I am sure at some point our very odd views on education and politics will come up anyway. I doubt this is the proper forum for me to start a flame war. :P

                  1. Mari says:

                    LOL I’m just campaigning for the Texas move for purely selfish reasons. I want all the kids to be able to play together. Well, that and maybe sneaking access to some of those pre-release games that occasionally come y’all’s way.

              2. Steve C says:

                A Sudbury school was the kind of thing I was suggesting. Not a “teacher’s lounge” kind of synergy but an alternative school kind of synergy was what I was referring to. But if there’s not enough people, there’s not enough.

  15. Jjkaybomb says:

    I think schools got stricter about this, because I remember it being about doing the work or failing, no leeway, middle school onward.

    1. Heather says:

      That depends a ton on the school district. That is how my school was and I am 3 yrs younger than Shamus and went to the neighboring hick-town-high. (200 kids in my senior class.) Everyone knew everyone and we had 7th-12th grade. If you didn’t do the work you didn’t pass. One of my classes had a 20 yr old who was just waiting till he got kicked out when he turned 21. No idea why but there it is. He was only in 10th and just stopped working because he decided he didn’t want to graduate.)

      1. Rayen says:

        i would go so far as to say it depends on the school. My first elementry school 2nd grade and up was no you do it or fail. my second elementry school was a special placement program that had everyone pass unless there was a “real” (i still don’t know what the definition of real was) problem. my middle school was the same, and my high school you could fail a course but you couldn’t be held back a year and at the end of 4 you walked the stage regardless, however they sometimes made you take summer school courses or a sememster long elective that could make up for up to 3 failed credits.

        Also you could fail but teachers were not allowed to make your overall grade under 60. this led to exploitation by me and a bunch of other students who would game the system by doing absolutely no work the first two six weeks periods and for the last one acing everything and getting a top score to squeak out a high B at the end of the semester.

        these were all in the same district and according to friends who went to different schools they had different systems there as well.

        1. uberfail says:

          Weird. In New Zealand we have national standards so there’s more consistency. You don’t have to do ‘work’ to pass you just have to do well in the end of year exams which are sent off to be marked by other people.

          1. Aldowyn says:

            … *cries* Why oh why can’t school be like this EVERYWHERE?

            Note: I am REALLY good at tests, and INCREDIBLE at standardized test.

          2. Tizzy says:

            national exams: great system when you can support it. But it’s a lot of work and very costly, so larger states/countries don’t even dare implement this.

            1. Rayen says:

              ??? most states already have a state standardized tests i don’t think it would be a huge leap to get nationwide standardized tests. Or course we’d have to have a gov’t where education isn’t the first thing on the chopping block every time the gov’t feels a it strapped for cash.

              And as per Shamus’ rules don’t start on in me with political debate. Both parties are equally guilty on this.

              1. Tizzy says:

                Sorry: multiple-choice test are not real exams. period.

                On the other hand, uberfail mentions marking, which I can only assume means hand-grading.

    2. Mari says:

      Errrr…not always. Dunno if you’re familiar with the real story behind “Friday Night Lights” but a large part of the scandal was over teachers being pushed and intimidated into passing football players so that they could stay on the team. In Texas that’s still done. Teachers are “encouraged” to find inventive “extra credit” assignments for certain valued students so they can pass. And I know some of my teacher friends have talked about passing other kids basically just to be shut of them. If a kid fails BADLY there’s not a whole lot that can be done but if they fall in that gray area like Shamus probably did with no homework but reasonably good test scores there are a lot of ways to keep them moving through the system. And that’s not even taking into account special ed where exceptions to pretty much any academic expectation can be written into the Individual Education Plan. These days with a persistent enough parent, Shamus could have gotten the teachers to not even count the x-es because it would be “detrimental to his learning environment” to be held accountable for homework.

  16. noahpocalypse says:

    Huh. When I was in sixth and seventh grade I shared that view, and every now and then the thought of skipping the rest of the problems because I can do a few from every section still pops into my head. After that, I realized how much the homework was affecting my grades, even when I aced most of the tests. After that, I started doing homework and those classes went into the 95-97 range.

    Were you skipping homework a lot to work on the Atlantis thing? If so, I sympathize. I am sophomore right now who’s learning to program in his free time. My school is downtown (my house is not), so I have to take a city bus to the station, then catch a ‘trolley’ to the school, then walk to the school. And I get there half and hour before it starts. So I wake up at 7:10, and get to school at 9:10 (yes, my school starts at 9:30). Once I’m there, I’m stuck with Macs and other non-programming ickiness. School ends at 4:30. I get home at 5:10- thankfully, I only ride one bus getting home. Once home, I tackle homework from three Honors classes, a Latin class, and an AP European History class that’s an elective, and a CP US Gov class. After all that’s done, I need to shower before going to bed, then get in bed by 10:00 or else I’m really tired the next morning. Did I mention I’m learning C++ on a Netbook with Linux installed?

    (Sorry for that last part; I couldn’t resist. It’s true, but it’s not that bad.)

    (Also, sorry for this whole thing. I forgot that this isn’t my blog. :P)

    1. noahpocalypse says:

      Oops. The whole ending wasn’t supposed to be italicized. Just the elective part. My bad. I posted on an iPad, and it won’t let me edit for some reason, even though I can post. Sorry.

    2. Heather says:

      And THIS is why our kids are homeschooled. They get to do what they are interested (and passionate about) WHEN they are passionate about it.

      1. toasty says:

        I suppose there are some values to that mindset. I know that I had a lot of work in highschool that I didn’t want to do, but was forced to do. If it was up to me I probably wouldn’t have taken a single Science class beyond General Science in 9th grade (I took Bio, Chemistry, and Physics. I recall nothing from Bio, a tiny bit from Chemistry, and actually enjoyed Physics because my teacher was awesome and interesting… I think it helped that he was a retired Physics Professor now working part-time). Meanwhile I didn’t take a single history class past 10th grade because I “didn’t have the time” (which I honestly didn’t! Between English, Latin, Science and Math I am amazed I got anything else done. In fact Science and Math probably killed my English Grade. I would have had an A in 12th grade Lit if I actually had the time to work in that class. Instead I got Straight Bs).

        But I graduated with a good GPA and am attending a university I really love. So I suppose everything worked out?

        @the actual blog post: Shamus I’m so glad I was never in your position and I never actually attended a “real school” (homeschooled through highschool, highschool was done via online-tutoring stuff). My dad had a pretty crappy education because of his learning disabilities that were never properly diagnosed (he has minor dyslexia) and my mom suffered very negatively from the “dumbing down” of education that happened at her school (she was born in 60, graduated in 78 I would suppose, so all the stuff you benefited from hurt her cuz its funding was taken from all the honors classes and stuff that she could have been taking) she then attempted to go to a very good university and dropped out after a year because of how unprepared she was for such a competitive and academically rigorous environment. (She mentioned how no one wanted to study with her because they wanted her to fail so they could get easy As because peopled graded on a Curve). She eventually got her degree elsewhere.

        Given my learning disabilities (similar to my father’s but different) I don’t think I would have done very well at school, academically or socially. So I’m really glad that I never attended one. :D

      2. noahpocalypse says:

        In the school’s defense, it is a STEM (Science, Technology, Enginering, and Mathematics) school. It just started this year, so programming clubs and stuff haven’t really started yet. Then again, the school is in East Tennessee. I know at least one student who speaks with a twang. I

        I probably didn’t have a choice in the Honors stuff; I get bored in CP classes, and Hon and AP look good on a resume. My parents would have made me take them even if I didn’t want to. They’re not boring- I’m enjoying it immensely. I just wish I didn’t spend so long going to and from school. There’s so much wasted time I spend staring out the bus window. Sigh.

        1. Exetera says:

          Bring a laptop on the bus with you! Seriously, I used to have a long ride to school. I probably got more writing, programming, etc. done in the 45-minute bus rides than I did in all of the time I had at home.

          1. noahpocalypse says:

            I would love to, but the school assigned iPad 2s to everyone. No IDEs- even if there was one, it would be painful typing on a touchscreen. So difficult to use braces or any special characters. The point is, I don’t want to carry 900 dollars of stuff back and forth every single day.

            I had already of that, and I didn’t consider it beyond that point. But now… I’m fed up. I could be advancing so much faster if I actually got to do anything. So yeah, I’m probably going to start doing that. Thanks. :)

            1. Tizzy says:

              With the metric ton of apps out there, I imagine there must be stuff to make writing code easier.

              1. noahpocalypse says:

                Nope. Apple doesn’t like other companies coding on their devices without that company paying them first, and I’m not doing that. They don’t want really technical apps cluttering the store and confusing the common people I guess?

                1. Tizzy says:

                  Sorry for my ambiguous comment: I didn’t mean coding for the iPad, I meant an app that allows you to write a code that you run on a remote site. You know, cloudy-wimey stuff…

      3. uberfail says:

        What does this actually entail?
        Also what do they have to demonstrate their education, ie what would they put on their CV?
        [/curious]

        1. Heather says:

          In our case it is full life experience, which, when you don’t have “school” means everything is a potential passion, a fascination, and a possible learning opportunity. Right now that means kids obsessed with and studying everything about fish, tadpoles, Minecraft, various aspects of programming (including binary and actual coding), reading everything under the sun (house full of books and they read a lot), one is writing up a business plan for a website business she is planning on opening, you name it.

          As far as their resume is concerned already our oldest has many experiences that she can put on a resume though if necessary I can put together a high school transcript for them. Most universities as well as businesses welcome homeschoolers with open arms since they tend to really want to be there and are passionate about what they do.

          1. Rosseloh says:

            I can attest to this — I wasn’t homeschooled through high school, only from 4th to 8th grade, but I know we were official, at least according to all the paperwork my mom had to fill out. Fortunately, most job interviews I’ve witnessed don’t involve “where did you graduate from middle school?”, so we’ve never had to test it. ;)

            Not that our homeschooling was as good as the Young’s seems to be. Mine was mostly the same sort of stuff you’d get in public school, just one-on-one. And that didn’t even last; my poor mother ended up getting diagnosed with diabetes and had massive migraines all the time. By the time I was in 7th grade, I was basically teaching myself, which fortunately was exactly what I needed to get ready for high school, when I went back to “real” classes.

  17. LB says:

    I find how much of this I can relate to discomforting.

    Avoiding homework was something I kept up through all high school and college. I just thought it wasn’t teaching me anything, it didn’t really matter and they should cover everything in all that time they steal off me every week day.

    The front cover of your book even looks like my young handwriting. Although your inside page handwriting is better than my current, so hey.

    Surprised you didn’t show off every page of the book and let us all choose an adventure though, haha.

  18. Vextra says:

    Oh wow. This may sound corny, but I had no idea other people had that obsession when they were 12-14. I must have written at least 3-4 complete 200 pahe Choose your own adventures when I was that age. I think i may still have them lying around somewhere. They were of comparable quality to Atlantis, but because I was growing up in the 90s rather than the 00s, my books were subsequently gigantic ripoffs of Final Fantasy, Jedi Knight, and even the Curse of Monkey Island if i recall correctly. They also were heavy on crude pencil illustrations too, and I even invented a crappy cardgame that i included in the 2nd Book as a gambling minigame. I wonder if creating CYOA is some sort of rite of passage for a certain kind of obsessive mind…

    1. Zekiel says:

      Hey I wrote a CYOA book too when I was young! I’m pretty sure it was inspired by the A-Team and involved 10-year-olds beating up bad guys (who I think were supposed to be grown ups). Strange.

      1. Kacky Snorgle says:

        I started to write a CYOA book once…I diagrammed out a bunch of possible plotlines and decision points, and then counted up how many pages I’d need to write to implement them all. It turned out to be about 15. I was stunned and greatly disappointed to realize that my huge, elaborate project was only perhaps a tenth the size of a “real” CYOA book, and I never went any farther with it. :(

        1. Tizzy says:

          See: the trick was to have no plan and just write it as you go along! (yes, I know, makes it somewhat tricky to scramble the pages well.)

    2. Pete says:

      I drew (poorly) videogame levels instead. Does that count?

      1. krellen says:

        I drew maps of fictional worlds I made up. I even sometimes wrote histories for them.

        1. Aldowyn says:

          Ever heard of David Eddings? His most famous series started from a map drawn on a napkin. No, I’m serious.

          He’s also a big fan of preparation. He actually released a volume containing his (fairly elaborate) background for all the nations and people and events in the story.

          1. krellen says:

            I’m assuming you’re referring to the Belgariad as the most famous. I always preferred the Mallorean.

        2. Knight of Fools says:

          I did both of these – Maps of video game worlds and fantasy worlds. I actually had a long series of books thought out, with reasons and scientific “facts” to support magic and everything.

          In fact, I still do all that.

        3. Rosseloh says:

          I did maps AND “screenshots” for videogame levels I was going to make when I became a game developer. So THERE!

          The maps were great — I still love drawing maps. The “pictures”, well, not so much. I’m a terrible artist unless its a map or a diagram of something. Which is unfortunate considering I love graphic design…

  19. Chuck Henebry says:

    This is a great entry. The last few lacked a vivid sense of a life as it was lived””not surprising as you were trying to write about stuff best left unremembered. This one, focused on a joyful act of creation, returns to the vivid writing of earlier entries.

    One minor edit I’d recommend: you should shift into the past tense in the third-from last paragraph, just as you (correctly) do in the second-to-last one. Both paragraphs discuss the book you wrote looking back from the perspective of the present day and so should be in past tense. By contrast the rest of the entry is (by your choice””a good choice) in present tense, suggesting that those experiences are being relived by you as you write them down.

  20. CYOA books were *made* for hypertext!

    Shamus, coding Atlantis into a static webpage would take you what? 30 seconds?

    I bet you could code your AVATAR in the procedural world to code Atlantis in 30 seconds.

    actually what would be really fun would be to do a Choose Your Own Adventure using Youtube videos.

    1. Nick says:

      Well, maybe 30-seconds a page. Depends if you had an efficient enough OCR to decipher the text automatically, so assuming that isn’t around (or that young Shamus didn’t write very neatly anyways) then typing each section out and providing links to the other static webpages, pretty easy.

      But add in CSS, creating the files, and the sheer number of pages and you’re looking at a good 3 hours or more depending on how quickly you enter this kind of stuff. So I would completely understand Shamus not doing this.

      Hmm, though you could eliminate the standard problem of books re-using a ‘death’ number and so you not taking that choice by having all links go to a central page that then redirects to a posted, hidden value in the form, so all you’d see is ‘Go left’ or ‘Traverse the suspiciously rickety bridge’….

      I think I may be overthinking this. Also, obligatory link to homestuck: http://www.mspaintadventures.com/

    2. Gravebound says:

      In 7th grade we had a computer class (on the Apple Macintosh Classic, shiny and new) where the big assignment was to make an interactive CYOA. It required two buttons on every page, three rudimentary images (clip art was acceptable)and at least twelve-or-so pages total.

      Most kids struggled to even fulfill that meager requirement but, for some odd reason, I decided I HAD to make a full-on, graphical point-and-click adventure. It had custom artwork in every setting, working light bulbs and light switches, animated attic and window ladders and a few animated death scenes. It had at least six buttons on every “page” (aka: room location.) It was a trip through the Texas Chainsaw Massacre house. XD Needless to say, death was around every turn. I worked on that thing every day and stayed after school to work on it (my dad had a computer but it was Windows and incompatible). Of course, it was waaaaaaay beyond the scope of the final project time line, but I got about 80% complete (and threw in cheap filler pages to cover the “holes”) and got an A+.

      I don’t remember the program used but I do remember hating the coding portion (the teacher had to help me with that, then I just copied and pasted), even though it was trivially basic. I still hate coding to this day; it confounds me. But I put up with the things I hated (coding and staying after school) to create what I thought was a super-awesome project.

      Sadly, I don’t think kids today would be allowed to make a game like this without being kicked out of school or sent to a shrink, or something similarly severe. :/

      1. Kayle says:

        Very likely Hypercard

    3. Tizzy says:

      BTW, the author of the Lone Wolf series made all of his old books available in html. Much easier to follow several paths at once than when you had to hold your pages!

      1. krellen says:

        I still have that whole series, plus the Grey Star set.

  21. ccesarano says:

    In my school, 4th and 5th graders were forced to “write their own books”. They had hard cover books with blank paper on the inside. You had to come up with a plot outline and everything. Of course, they also required the author to have X number of writing styles or illustrations. They couldn’t just let the kids do as they desired.

    My first draft for a book had death in it, I remember. I think it was a rip-off of Jurassic Park, now that I think about it (I loved dinosaurs, and dinosaurs eating people instead of other dinosaurs was AWESOME). They sent it back and told me no one could die, which was lame. The next year I was a bit more creative. I think I had something in there about the villains having killed the character’s parents. Not sure if they allowed that or not in the end.

    I admire that you were able to hold on to this stuff for so long. Somewhere in my house I THINK I have old comic books that I made when I was younger. I know I threw away a bunch of the Godzilla comics I had made and super heroes, but I kept my Sunday-Funnies style ones (my first comic of the sort being Shyguy and Snifit from Mario Bros. 2 as a sort of Odd Couple).

    What I really wish to find, but don’t know if it even exists, is the notebook I filled up with pages of my first “game design”. I was in third or fourth grade, some time after Final Fantasy 6 came out. It was called “Boy Adventure”, where Aliens came down to my home town and took all the parents away, and girls started to rule. I included myself and all my friends with our own special abilities.

    It was stupid, but at the same time I was surprised by my own level of detail looking back when I was a bit older. I drew up level maps and character art for other game ideas, but never something this detailed and complete.

    Yeah, I don’t think the educational system knows how to deal with creative types.

    1. DanMan says:

      Our school went one worse. In 6th grade, they forced us to write kindergarten books, then shipped us off to the kindergarten to read the books to them. I thought it was so stupid, that I essentially plagirized an obscure children’s book I half remember reading. This was back before I really understood what “plagirism” meant. I just thought I was cheating.

      Never got caught. Probably because the book was so lame that even the kindergartener’s didn’t want to read it.

      1. Gravebound says:

        My school did that too!

        All I remember about it was watercoloring a few of the panda bear illustrations. I cheated and had my mom write the story because she works with little kids and knows what they like to hear. :)

        The book was a hit.

        1. Aldowyn says:

          We had to do that. Mine was lame, and a rip off of quite a few things.

          Oh, and I also have a notebook with game-design related stuff. Also sucky.

          I have learned, and if doing either one I would do IMMENSELY better. (I am seriously considering game design as a career)

          1. ccesarano says:

            Before you consider Game Design, think about the ideal field you want to start out in. When I first started researching on the Internet, everyone said you have to be a programmer first. By time I was in college and learned traditional programming was not my bag, everyone’s advice was “you can start anywhere and climb the ladder, you just need experience”.

            Had I known this instead (if I knew then what I know now…), I’d have gone for something more art-based. Typically level designers can get into the game design field a bit quickly.

            The problem is, most game designers (in the big studios at least) end up being older folk doing it for years. It’s harder for younger folk to get into it.

            At this point in my life, I decided if I want to be involved in the games industry, it would be as a writer or potentially a Creative Director. Anything else would just be too damn stressful and take the fun out of it. Of course, those fields are also tough to get into.

            The games industry just doesn’t seem as if it would be as fun as I used to think.

            1. Aldowyn says:

              Obviously really late but I’m addicted to commenting at this point.

              Yeah, I know, I’ve thought of that. The solution for me is to get a dang good education/portfolio and hope to get junior designer at a smaller studio first, which doesn’t seem that hard. SMU has a graduate program called the Guildhall, which has three main focuses of study: Art, Programming, and Level/Game Design (They call it level design, probably because that’s a typical entry level job, but game design is part of it). So I’m going to undergrad studying physics (I specifically asked it it was a satisfactory major. Besides, I’m good as Physics), and designing a few games, maybe finding a project online somewhere, to add to my portfolio for admission.

              So yeah I’ve thought this through. Thank you though.

      2. Rosseloh says:

        I had to do that as a senior in high school.

        I know it’s horrible to be embarrassed reading to 5-6 year olds, but I hated it, and would hate it if I had to do it again. Probably because I strongly dislike cliche in all forms and pretty much any literature for that age group is nearly pure cliche.

        Oh yeah, and I suck at drawing, and we had to illustrate them. So there’s that, too.

    2. Mari says:

      LOL The school my kids have been going to have a few teachers who do “Scribbles” with the kids to get their creative writing juices flowing. The teacher basically scribbles on a page and the kids have to turn it into a picture and then write a short story about it. I keep waiting to hear from the school counselor about my kids’ stories which involve evil ducks named Bob who eat other animals, fart fire, and shoot lasers from their eyes. Obviously these stories involve lots of death and carnage.

      1. ccesarano says:

        Looking back on it, I guess I can understand why they’d want to make no rules towards death allowed. Most of the other kids wrote stuff that seemed to sound like it came from MTV’s Liquid Television, with no value or whatnot to it at all. Just “Ha ha! His insides are turned out and there’s poop everywhere!”

        Teachers told me the dinosaur couldn’t kill anyone, so I had people breaking their arms and getting slashed and chewed on. The teachers still said no. I threw my arms up in the air and shouted “Then how is it supposed to be scary!”

        It’s amazing how many rules they forced us to apply. I really wish I could remember the vocabulary word, but we had to do the thing where you describe an action like another action. “The hammer flew through the air like a screaming banshee!”, only because we were in fourth and fifth grades much dumber sounding. We were required to have like ten of those in the story, as well as a few other things. Yet they stifled all of my natural instincts into what makes a good story.

        1. Mari says:

          The word I think you’re looking for there is “similes” which is the literary term for comparing two objects or actions using the words “like” or “as.” It’s a linguistic trope of direct comparison which is in contrast to the indirect comparison of the metaphor. /lit geek

          1. Aldowyn says:

            what? That’s like 8th grade english, if that. I know I’m tired of those.

            Any clue what a zeugma is? I didn’t! (Wow, my spellchecker knows!)

            My fun one is onomatopoeia. It’s a word that is supposed to sound like an actual sound. (Buzz, for example.) It’s occasionally hard to separate from a word that just means a sound. Like, say, ring.

            1. Mari says:

              Golden lads and girlies all must as chimney-sweepers come to dust.

              Zeugma is a figure of speech which employs ellipsis and parallelism to convey conjunction of parts of the sentence with a common noun or verb. A more common zeugma would be “Fear leads to anger, anger hate, hate suffering, suffering the dark side.” Each clause in the sentence is parallel which allows the repetitive “leads to” to be omitted for a more pleasing lyrical voice.

              And for real fun with onomatopoeia, try combining it with alliteration. Pliant participles pop when perchance paired pleasingly with a plaintive ‘pin pon.’

              1. Rosseloh says:

                I didn’t even know you could “participle” in such a way that it makes a sound.

                1. Mari says:

                  I used a metaphor for bonus points. I did that a lot in school, too.

              2. ccesarano says:

                English was always my strongest subject until we hit vocabulary words like this. The only one of those I have memorized is alliteration, and mostly because, for whatever reason, I like doing that in my writing. Putting two or three words together that alliterate, so to speak.

                I read enough that I recognized all these things, but I couldn’t remember the names for them. It’s why I didn’t always test well, but when essays and reports and other such assignments came along I was top notch. The idea and principle was easy for me to grasp. I just didn’t understand why I needed to give it a name.

                Same goes for History. I find the “Why” very fascinating, and as such I recall events and their importance. Unfortunately, I can’t even tell you the [i]year[/i] of events like the Normandy Invasion, Pearl Harbor or the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, let alone the exact date. I just know they happened early-to-mid 1940’s. However, I understand not only the significance of the events, but what lead to them in the first place.

                Unfortunately, according to standardized test scores, the date is more important than understanding the event itself.

                1. Mari says:

                  I’m the same way in history. I love the whys and the hows but the whens exist to me only to fix them in relation to other events (chronology for me is relative rather than fixed). Like you, I can tell you that the bombing of Pearl Harbor happened in the early 1940s but to narrow it down any more than that I have to find other events to relate it to. (In this case, I suspect that it happened in 1940 or ’41 based on other things that I recall of the same era but I could be wrong). I am, however, fairly certain it occurred in early December based upon the survivors’ stories that I remember, some of which referenced activities associated with Christmas. I guess Pres. Roosevelt was wrong that it was a “date that will live in infamy” huh?

        2. uberfail says:

          I would likely have sent it back with even more death.
          Though it is surprising how morbid most of the Year 12-13 creative writing gets. (these are 15-18 year olds)

  22. Mumbles says:

    …wow this really makes me feel like less of a freak. I wrote books and barely passed school at this age, too.

    I also wrote a lot of Batman fan fiction. A lot of really, really, really bad fan fiction.

      1. Mumbles says:

        YOU CAN’T PROVE ANYTHING.

    1. xXDarkWolfXx says:

      How many of the fanfics were batman and robin pairings? Isnt that like one of the staples of any fanfic universe is to go for the most obvious one?

      1. burningdragoon says:

        But if Batman and Robin are paired up, where does that leave Mumbles?

    2. X2-Eliah says:

      Batman slash-fiction? I mean.. that’s what I think when I hear ‘really really bad fan fiction’.

      1. Chuck says:

        Some slash fiction is well written.

        From a purely literary standpoint, of course :)

      2. Mumbles says:

        Noo it wasn’t anything like that.

        There was however some…self insertion.

        1. X2-Eliah says:

          It’s Okay, don’t worry about it. Everyone’s been wanting to get rid of that boring Batman dude and be Robin’s sidekick.

          1. Irridium says:

            Oh please, we all know all anyone wants to do is chill with Alfred. That’s what I did in my fanfi- I mean… who wants cake?

            Free cake! Free cake!

            1. X2-Eliah says:

              Hm. Which version of Alfred are we speaking of? I mean.. there are some versions which I’d like to chat with, and some Alfreds are just too creepy.

            2. Tjtheman5 says:

              Free Cake? you must be telling a falsehood. That means “The Cake is a …”

            1. RTBones says:

              OK – this makes me LOL. What that was INTENDED to be was a snarky comment about me refraining from making a snarky comment about Mumbles’ self-insertion comment. What came out was no comment at all, which somehow I find more humorous than my comment about not commenting.

              Intentions. Right, back into the handbasket with me.

              1. Jeremiah says:

                Like a comment about how saying “self insertion” isn’t doing anything to dissuade slash fic comments?

                1. ccesarano says:

                  You guys are thinking too hard. All you need is a “bow-chikka-wow-wow”.

                  Comment done.

                  1. Eärlindor says:

                    My favorite part was when he said

        2. Mari says:

          My 12-year-old is working on a self insertion Batman fanfic right now. And that sounds very, very wrong on more levels than I can count.

        3. Ramsus says:

          Was that a euphemism? =)

    3. ccesarano says:

      2nd or 3rd grade. I’m finally old enough to use the downstairs computer. I experiment with MS Paint and stuff, but it’s inferior to my sketchpad, pencil and colored pencils. I open up Microsoft Word. I type on stuff, click on buttons, and discover I can write things to look like The Hobbit. I begin writing my first fictional story ever.

      Godzilla vs. The Power Rangers.

      1. Simulated Knave says:

        So, basically, Power Rangers?

        1. ccesarano says:

          Nah, because Godzilla won.

          That’ll teach their inferior Megazord to mess with the forces of nature!

    4. swenson says:

      I definitely did not write fan fiction in middle/high school. None. At all. And if you search my room and papers, you absolutely cannot find any of that sort of thing at all. I will deny any evidence to the contrary to the death.

      And the idea of me still writing something on occasion? Absolutely preposterous!

      1. noahpocalypse says:

        I wrote several pages of Halo fanfic!

        I’m sorry. Only 20 or so at most…

  23. Irridium says:

    I always ended up with crap grades in the middle of the school year as well. Starting from 6th grade all the way to my senior year in high-school, in the middle of the year, every year, I’d pretty much be failing.

    Not too sure why… I did do most of the homework. I think… did I? Can’t even remember. Must have, since I tend to forget boring things. And homework is really boring.

  24. Vect says:

    I don’t really have much memories of my principals. I do remember that the ones in the Elementary schools I went to (I moved around a lot) use “Dr.” as their title. Dr. Adler (I think was her name) had a thing where once a year for kids who do… Something (it was either reading really well or selling a lot of stuff for fundraisers, I barely remember) she’d read them a storybook while wearing her wedding dress. Dr. Packard I remember always smiled.

    In my experience, the Special Education teachers are generally more personable and get along better with kids due to having a more hands-on approach and usually having to deal with less kids. I usually got on well enough with them since strangely enough I think I normally got along well enough with various different teachers.

    1. Mari says:

      Wow. Dr. Whats-her-name was way nicer than my elementary principal. We had to read to her instead of her reading to us (it was basically a way of getting the two of us that entered kindergarten reading proficiently out of the way while they taught the rest of the class to read).

      1. Vect says:

        I think that she also read to the kids while sitting on a ladder. No I don’t know why and/or any symbolism/tradition involved. I just remembered that tidbit.

        I did remember the principal for my school in Fourth Grade being relatively unpleasant. Then again I acted up a lot at that point in life. I did remember having to go into her office and seeing a lot of books like one of the Chicken Soup books. Otherwise I remember her as relatively humorless, dealing with children in a strictly “professional” manner. ‘Least that’s how I remembered her.

    2. Heather says:

      Probably because one of the options for becoming a principle is to get your doctorate in educational administration.)

      1. krellen says:

        Heather, are you why Shamus keeps misspelling Principal? Bad teacher!

        1. JPH says:

          Also: Closed parenthesis included for no particular reason? FOR SHAME.

        2. Heather says:

          Neither of us can spell worth crap– dyslexia and dysgraphia among other versions of LD on both sides (and yes, both of us diagnosed though our kids aren’t– no point since I was a special ed teacher and we are relaxed so the pressure is off therefore they have worked around those on their own.) Yeah, our kids are total freaks.

          That said, the computer saved both our butts and we can spell to some extent but certain words like principle and principal are ones we forget to even consider checking (you should see the red lines when I am done typing:P partly because I type much too fast for my fingers and the spelling part of my brain to keep together). Took me 10 years of the spell checker pointing out that their is their instead of thier to “get it” and fix it before the spell checker told me. :P

          1. Heather says:

            And yes, I, unlike Shamus, do not proofread before I post– I can’t be bothered as there are too many other things I need to attend to (and multiple other sites where I moderate and constantly post) and I am bound to be interrupted by a child at any given moment so am just trying to get my thoughts out before I have to move to something else. So– run on sentences? Yes. Spelling errors? Probably. Grammar issues? Most likely. And unmatched parenthesis? Undoubtedly.

            At this point you all are lucky I bother to deal with all those dangling -e’s that end up on the wrong word because I am in too much of a hurry.

            1. krellen says:

              It’s a good thing I’m fluent in typoese then.

              1. Heather says:

                Most of the internet is. :P When I write for real I check it (in fact, believe it or not I proof read/edit on occasion for books– horrifying I know), just can’t take the time for constant interaction.

                1. Pete says:

                  Apologies for the off-topic comment, but…

                  SO MUCH GOLD its like a fly-trap for the unsuspecting by-scroller HELP

                  1. Aldowyn says:

                    There is a lot of gold. I feel like you haven’t always been gold, Heather. *shrug*

                    I’m just special in the fact that I have been reading for so dang long and I’m just naturally good at it, I NEVER proofread (Shucks, I often don’t even proofread assignments!) and I get like 2 or 3 grammar/spelling mistakes in a year.

                    1. Heather says:

                      No I haven’t always been gold– but I have been helping Shamus edit so am logged in (I seldom do. :P)

                      Ah, the joys of dyslexia and dysgraphia– my output will always be garbled and need correcting. :)

    3. burningdragoon says:

      Unrelated, but one of the teachers (the one for Latin) in my high school got his PhD (in.. Latin? I dunno) partway the 4 years. The kids taking Latin had to switch from calling him Mr. Iforgethisname to Dr. Istillforgethisname.

      1. Sumanai says:

        Wait, he changed his last name at the same time?

        1. Aldowyn says:

          There’s one teacher that has a doctorate in something, but he teaches something else so he tells people to still call him Mr. Namehere. As opposed to the teacher (who left! sad face) who actually HAD a doctorate in his subject, who we DID call Dr. (Mr.) Othernamehere. (Dr. Mr. Dr. Bloom…)

          There’s at least one more with a doctorate too, who I don’t know, so no comment.

    4. Gravebound says:

      I had four different elementary principals because my family moved a lot. The only one I remember was a lady who would wear a coat completely covered in buttons and pins of various make and size and if you did really well at something, got good grades or just behaved nicely you got to pick one to keep. :)

      1. Mari says:

        I had seven different elementary principals and only moved twice. Hooray for court-mandated bussing.

  25. burningdragoon says:

    I don’t remember what grade I was in, but I remember one assignment where we had to write a CYOA type, um, essay-thing. It was structured so every level of branches you had to use half as much space as the previous level. Not sure what the reason for that was.

    Related-ish. A couple times in high school I got to take an english class with more of a fantasy/adventure/mythology type theme to them. Both with the same teacher. The final assignments for the classes were basically write a story using some of the themes and ideas and um, stuff we’ve learned. I actually received some good marks on those and my teacher even came and told me that I do much better when I get to write something with more action in it, as opposed to normal essays. Of course I’m still pretty terrible at writing, but at least sometimes I do better than terrible when it’s something I’m actually interested in doing.

    1. Aldowyn says:

      … Lucky. I want a class that’s like Interpretation/Comprehension of Fiction. Preferably Fantasy Fiction (since, for some fantastical reason, includes science-fiction)

      While we’re here, I wrote an origin story for my D&D character (named after me. Haven’t gotten it started, yet :/), and pretty much everyone I’ve showed it to has been pretty impressed. It’s deliciously full of tropes and plot hooks, but fairly well written for it.

  26. X2-Eliah says:

    Ah, right. That CYOA thing.. I could never get into that, at all. I once got that sort of a book, and just read all of it page by page. Seemed pretty horrible… and even when going in ‘order’, somehow I felt I was getting seriously less than a normal book would have given.

    1. Meredith says:

      Now that you mention it, the stories must have been really short because they were thin books, but I used to love those things. I’m assuming we all re-read them to choose different options and see all the different endings?

    2. noahpocalypse says:

      I would start, then at the first split, I went to one page, held that with my finger, then flipped to the other page and read on. Repeat.

      That taught me to always value every single one of my fingers. But not toes. We don’t need no stinkin’ toes.

      1. Mari says:

        That was my approach as well.

        1. Aldowyn says:

          The problem with that is if it happens to ACTUALLY branch a lot (as opposed to just killing you or ending the story), you will almost inevitably run out of fingers and you WILL inevitably get lost.

          1. Mari says:

            Yes, but modern readers of CYOA have a nifty advantage that I lacked in my youth: the color-coded post-it flag. Mmmmmmmm….color-coded flags marking each branch of the path….

            Sorry, kind of lost my train of thought there. OCD? Nope, not at all :-)

  27. Jakale says:

    The end of the second to last paragraph should have “dogged insistence” I assume?
    It should be interesting to hear about college, unless they used to have more homework than what I’ve gotten.

  28. Sean says:

    The book is not a brilliant example of the medium … the choices are arbitrary, and most of the endings are stupid “gotcha” deaths.

    Sounds like every CYOA book I recall reading. :)

    1. What he said. Prolly could have gotten a book deal out of it.

    2. Cuthalion says:

      This. Specifically the deaths. I remember those.

      1. Cuthalion says:

        You know what? I had a weird obsession with gruesome deaths for awhile as a child. Maybe it was the CYOA books’ fault. :P

  29. Tizzy says:

    FYI: 12 years old strikes me as a fairly normal age to start longer-term creative endeavors like a book, a program or a PnP adventure.

    1. Aldowyn says:

      I would agree with you here. I would say about 10 or 11 is the time when you start becoming intellectually more mature (which is why you can start choosing classes in middle school). At least until you hit the roller coaster of idiocy that is puberty (that I just kind of skated through, somehow.)

  30. Patrick the Drismal and Unmotivated says:

    Don’t let him fool you folks. I read the book. It sucked. Truth is most of what he does sucks. In fact the most awesome thing he ever had was that pair of gray and pink slacks….and he ruined them before I got to have them as hand me downs.

    Yes I am still bitter. I probably would have worked this out in therapy but he kept asking about my junk so I set fire to his car. So yea…I’m allowed to be a little upset at the awesome slacks, half assed CYOA and unavailability of recreational anti-depressants on the market.

    So you can all bite me….

    1. noahpocalypse says:

      There are plenty of those! They just aren’t labeled as such. Experiment around, you’ll find them eventually.

      1. Patrick the Drismal and Unmotivated says:

        Last time I experimented I wound up doing a week for disturbing the peace. APPARENTLY…. it is considered a disturbance if you run through them mall throwing lunch meat at the power walkers. And I still say body paint should be considered clothing, too.

        Lock me up for a week just cause I was painted green throwing ham-loaf at senior citizens while singing “…I wish I was an Oscar Meyer weiner….” is just unconstituional!! Stewphanie Meyers gets to write “Twilight” and three more incomprehesible sequeals, BUT I CAN’T HURL MEAT BYPRODUCTS AT PEOPLE WHILE SINGING A CLASSIC AMERICAN JINGLE???!?!

        WTF!?!?

        I swear the terrorists have already won….

        1. krellen says:

          It’s inhuman, is what it is.

        2. noahpocalypse says:

          That’s downright criminal.

          1. Patrick the Drismal and Unmotivated says:

            Ooooh for crying out loud. Quit suckin up to me… I can’t get you and an autographed poster of Shamus, or a hand made dice set, or his toenail clippings or whatever it is you think you can get from being nice to me.

            If you want a used pair of his green socks or whatever it is you groupies want these days, your best bet is to hang out at the Sheetz up the road for a month or two until he makes his seasonal Combos and Pringles run. Watch Heathers FB page to see when she’s going out of town, because for some reason those 2 events seem to coincide.

            1. noahpocalypse says:

              I just want the finished Project Frontier. Is that too much to ask?!?!

            2. krellen says:

              Who’s sucking up? I just find you an excellent spring board for pithy commentary.

              1. noahpocalypse says:

                That too. I might go so far as to call it ‘mocking’.

  31. Paul Spooner says:

    You remind me of Domingo Montoya. Your thirst for challenge. Your creative drive. Your odd hours. Now all you need to do is withdraw from society, reject all but the most challenging commissions, and get killed by a six fingered programmer, inspiring your son to become a Wizard and avenge you.

      1. Van Tuber says:

        No, Domingo was Inigo’s father, and actually died.

      2. Paul Spooner says:

        Oh Mr. Krellen, you have fallen right into my trap. I’ve been patient; I’ve been gracious; And… this mountain is covered with wolves.

    1. Mari says:

      Your geek cred is shot all to heck now. For shame.

      1. Mari says:

        And that wound up in response to the wrong post darnit. I meant to post that to krellen.

        1. krellen says:

          Pff. Like I read what people post. :)

          1. Mari says:

            See, I know better. I’ve argued with you here before ;-)

            1. krellen says:

              Actually, that’s exactly what happened here. I stopped reading at “Domingo Montoya”.

  32. Kdansky says:

    I find it rather shocking that nobody ever realised that forcing a ten-year old to swallow a dozen assorted personality-influencing pills isn’t such a great idea. It is so damn obvious.

    On a more positive note: I also tried to write a few of these chose-your-own-adventure books when I was a kid.

  33. Tharwen says:

    My headmaster (Mr Oldershaw) sounds a lot like Mr Markle. I once had to stay late because my Dad was at work and he played football with me and his dogs.

    He taught cover lessons too :D

  34. I remember being able to scoot by all my early years doing minimal homework cause I would ace any test sent my way. I quickly understood that homework was ‘practice’ and tests were the important part…until I got to 5th grade.

    Suddenly I had a teacher giving me D’s cause I wasn’t doing the homework regardless of how well I did on the tests. That’s when everything changed and I became aware of the shift to the following grading curve that would haunt my entire academic experience:

    60% Homework
    30% Test
    10% Attendance

    I have never viewed this curve as anything other than pure unadulterated bullshit and it made my academic school life as miserable as a my social one. I got more than a few sessions with my step dad’s belt due to this shit system, so it can go right off and fuck itself.

    1. Patrick the Drismal and Unmotivated says:

      the system or your dad’s belt?

      1. The system was bullshit. It proved – right on paper – that school was not about learning, but conditioning. In my eyes, this made it pointless and I felt I’d be more productive if I quit and just got a job. I’d be doing the same thing, but at least I’d be making money…and I wouldn’t have to bring the job home with me.

        While I didn’t like the belt, at least I understood it. “My house, my rules. Break the rules, get the belt.” There was nothing dishonest about it and I could respect that. Of all the times I’d been physically disciplined in my life, I can only recall one where I felt it wasn’t warranted and he apologized for it…sort of. :P

        1. Mike says:

          It sounds like you were one of the small fraction of kids that needed little repetition and lacked test anxiety. Unfortunately, the system you were put through was designed for the vast majority of kids that don’t meet those criteria.

          Disclaimer: my mother is a high school math teacher, has taught everything from 6th grade math through AP Calculus, and has spent countless hours discussing this sort of thing, using me as a sounding board.

          From what I understand there are basically three categories that most students fall into when it comes to homework. Somewhat oversimplified they are the 5-timers, 15-timers and 50-timers. For a given, moderately difficult topic, a small portion of an average classroom takes about 5 repetitions to completely get it. Most of the students take around 15-20 repetitions, and another small portion require 50+. For obvious reasons a one-size-fits-most curriculum is going to focus on the middle group: it satisfies the needs of the 5-timers and the 15-timers, and tutoring/remedial classes can handle the few 50-timers.

          There are also many people who suffer from test anxiety in each of the groups. They know the material, can effortlessly perform it without pressure, but under test conditions either panic and make huge amounts of mistakes, or can’t finish in time. Its not their fault, its just how their brains are wired.

          The 60/30/10 breakdown addresses both of these issues. It provides an incentive to do all of the assigned homework for those who need it (which is necessary for them to understand the material), reduces the impact of test anxiety to a manageable level, and the only real downside is for people like you (and me) who didn’t need to do all of the homework to understand everything, and who have no problems with tests. And the worst impact of that downside is a little extra work.

          Furthermore, particularly once you get to the upper grade levels (usually around 6th/7th grade) and in honors-type classes, homework generally stops being solely about practice and starts having “hidden” lessons in there. As the material to be covered increases in complexity teachers frequently cover only the basics in class and leaves a few of the more complex topics to be discovered by the student during homework. Discovering things on your own tends to be better for remembering them than merely memorizing stuff your teacher told you.

          Basically what I’m trying to say is that there are good reasons beyond “conditioning” or “bullshit” for the grading system to be set up that way. Is it perfect? Hell, no. Would a personalized system be better? Of course (one benefit of homeschooling for those with the time, resources, and temperament to do it). But its not arbitrary or malicious.

          EDIT: intro originally came out snarkier than I intended. Also, sorry for the wall of text.

          1. krellen says:

            The fundamental problem with the system is that it alienates the top performers (those that don’t need the repetition and don’t suffer test anxiety) from education altogether, thus depriving society of their gifts by discouraging them from excelling.

            1. LassLisa says:

              .. and who aren’t motivated by the approval of their elders / admiration of their peers. Of course, ‘admiration of their peers’ is probably unusual (I went to a weird nerdy school) but getting good grades and not disappointing your parents is a major motivator for most of the bright-and-successful kids I’ve known. I think Shamus has noted many times that that motivation made no sense to him as a kid; those are the kids who’re slipping through the cracks.

              I wonder if it would have helped kid-Shamus at all to see or be told about the opportunities that school can open up later. Or maybe the adults in his life just wouldn’t have had any way to figure out what he was interested in… and maybe it wouldn’t have been true anyway.

          2. Sumanai says:

            Like Krellen says, it doesn’t really include the 5-ers. People don’t go into automation the second they know something and people need something to entertain them while they’re idle. I did daydreaming. Problem? I was usually in a half sleep so when the next new thing popped up I was dazed.

    2. krellen says:

      I just did homework in class, while the teacher was talking, or in between classes, because I didn’t have much of a social circle to linger with.

      1. noahpocalypse says:

        This.

      2. Cuthalion says:

        I read novels in classes. I can’t recall ever actually getting in trouble for it. One science teacher in 7th grade or so even asked me if I liked what I was reading after catching me not paying attention. Or after I responded with a yes to his question to the class as to whether we liked reading and he saw the book I had in my hand. Something like that.

        This habit persisted through the end of high school, even in the community college classrooms I was also attending at the time.

        1. Van Tuber says:

          I did the same thing in a couple of my classes. To be fair, I was assigned a seat next to a bookshelf; it was like the teacher didn’t want me to pay attention. An English teacher had us read for about 8 minutes at the beginning of class, then had the audacity to tell us to put the books down.

          1. Heather says:

            Same here– my best friend and I were always reading in class, thoguh we did get in trouble for it though never severely. Of course, I was the kid borrowing other kids assigned reading books because mine were finished, and in “sustained silent reading” where we were supposed to hand in a short report on EVERY book we read… my best friend and I got out of that when the teacher realized we were reading a book a NIGHT compared to the rest of the class who were reading a book a month if that. WHY were we forced to take a silent reading class?!?!?!? We were reading constantly (district mandated stupidness).

            1. noahpocalypse says:

              Yeah, I had to keep a reading journal in sixth grade. I read stuff like Lord Of The Rings; I couldn’t be bothered to write about what I read! I don’t even have enough time! I’m too busy… Reading…

              1. Mari says:

                My kids not only had to keep the stupid reading journal, they had to get a parent to sign it every night to “prove” that they really were reading. Dude, there was no way I could keep track of how much those two were reading. So basically I spent four years lying to my kids’ teachers about how much they read (granted, I UNDERestimated, but still).

                1. Heather says:

                  Yeah, I do that with the library reading program. In fact, most of the time we totally forget to fill it all in because there are SO MANY BOOKS that we forget what was read.

                  1. Aldowyn says:

                    There was one time in like 6th grade I read the first 4 harry potters (coming in at probably around 2000 pages total) in 5 school days… even before that, I REGULARLY read a 150 page or so chapter book every day.

                    I read Atlas Shrugged a couple weeks ago. Dang 1000+ page book took me at least 2 weeks, but I was only reading for 1-2 hours, except on weekends.

                    I DID used to get in trouble for reading in class. In like 1st and 2nd grade. AFTER I was done with the assignment (probably before the teacher came in the door). Math is easy, arithmetic is just dumb.

          2. swenson says:

            Sixth grade in Ms. Maurer’s classroom was the same way for me. Luckily, her class was ridiculously easy, but I do recall taking a test in there once where I actually didn’t realize it was a test because I’d been so engrossed in one of her many, many books that I didn’t hear her say it was a test or even notice that it said test at the top! It was so unfair, though. There were bookshelves all over the place and she always sat me right next to them, how was I supposed to resist?

            And that’s the story of how I read Animal Farm and 20,000 Leagues under the Sea when I was in sixth grade… 20,000 Leagues under the Sea was better.

            Bizarrely, I did pretty well in middle school despite never paying attention–I was too busy reading! I think this may be in part due to my parents essentially forcing me to sit down and do my homework, and a little latent perfectionism.

      3. Mari says:

        I had an hour and a half bus ride each way between school and home. This was homework time. Except for that one time when the kid behind me set fire to my English paper. I didn’t finish my homework that day.

        1. Aldowyn says:

          I wish I could do homework on the bus. Not likely. That bus is so jam packed, not to mention that some seriously bad stuff occasionally happens.

          I tend to do homework (essays at least) in my 1st hour graphics programming class, since she’s never actually teaching anything. (she teaches off of power points. That occasionally tell you NOTHING about what actually makes the assignment difficult)

          1. Mari says:

            Yeah I get the crowded/bad bus thing. We usually started the ride with 3 in each seat so I waited until it emptied some to start my work plus I have an uncanny ability. to hyper-focus to the point of failing to notice a small tornado destroying the windows one one side of the house once. Not sure you could work through fights, noisy sex, and whatever else happens on a bus otherwise.

      4. Steve C says:

        Teachers frequently cover only the basics in class and leaves a few of the more complex topics to be discovered by the student during homework.

        I hated that. I can’t learn that way. I did well in school except I started butting up against that bullshit in highschool. I thought it was unfair as a kid and I still think so now.

        I loved it when I could do homework in class. I can still remember Grade 11 math. Mr Bruce was the only one who always wrote the homework assignments at the start of class. I’d ignore everything he was saying during the lesson. (That was the basic stuff I already understood.) While doing the homework I’d come across something more complex that I didn’t understand. I’d tune back into what he was telling the class long enough to ask a question relevant to both what he was saying and what I wanted to know. (“What if X is…” etc) Not only did I get an A+ but I’d have more than half of each class to sit there and read stuff like the Dungeon Master’s Guide.

        Contrast that to my worst math prof who taught statistics in university. He taught us nothing but mathematical proofs (something we were never tested on) and when asked which homework problems from the textbook to do said “all of them.” Which was 30 questions per chapter, 2 chapters per week and took about 1 hour per question. (yes 60hrs/week) I got a final grade of less than 10%. When I took it a 2nd time with a different prof I got a A-.

        Point of this rant is a statement to teachers: Reread the quote above. The idea that you can teach basics and let your students learn the hard parts on their own is STUPID. Don’t do that. If someone has trouble with the basics then they aren’t going to figure out the hard parts on their own. If someone gets the basics then you are wasting your time, and theirs. But even though they get the basics they still won’t be able to do the homework!

        Teachers should never purposely fail to teach something and still assign it as homework for the student to “learn on their own.” It doesn’t accomplish the goal of imparting knowledge and it’s very dangerous when it fails. It can frustrate the student to the point it turns them off education entirely. There needs to be a clear chain between 1) what’s taught, 2) what the student works on and 3) what’s tested, with no hidden missing links to stump and frustrate.

        1. Rosseloh says:

          Bingo — this has always been my problem with math. Nevermind that I don’t have a knack for it; every math teacher I’ve ever had has been a brilliant mathematician first and a terrible teacher second. It got to the point where in my calculus 2 classes in college (how I ever got that far, I don’t know, but calc was required for my degree) I could not understand the stuff we went over a week before, let alone today’s lesson, and the homework was always harder than what we went over in class. One-on-one sessions with the teacher didn’t help at all. It eventually got to the point where I didn’t care enough and only showed up for the tests, and somehow still passed the class with a C.

          Then again, part of my problem is probably that I can’t stay awake in a standard “lecture” (droning professor up at the blackboard, which unfortunately was most of my high school and college classes). If you can’t make it interesting I’m going to doze off, and calc was NEVER interesting. But the problematic math teachers definitely didn’t help.

          (on a second read through, that drifted a bit from the point. sorry)

        2. Mike says:

          There’s a difference between difficult and complex. I wholeheartedly agree that difficult to understand topics should be taught in a classroom, carefully gone over until the vast majority of the students understand. But covering every nuance of a subject and every combination of techniques within a subject is both infeasible timewise and negatively impacts the critical thinking skills of the students. Why actually think about how to solve a problem if the teacher is just going to tell you how to do it?

          The best way I can think of to describe it is with legos. The teacher’s job is to give you new and interesting pieces to use, and to illustrate in general how they tend to fit together. Homework assignments are like partially built models with chunks taken out. A few problems in each set should be missing one piece, with the student’s task figuring out which one to use and what orientation it should be. But many of the problems should be missing multiple pieces with the student’s job being to figure out not only which pieces to use, and how to orient them individually, but also how the pieces themselves fit together.

          A teacher should never leave a student to create their own lego piece: its long, time consuming, won’t fit quite right, frustrating, and most kids won’t have the tools or experience necessary to do it. Nor should a teacher toss the kids a semi-organized box of bits (textbook) and expect them to figure out which one to use where. And a teacher should definitely point out a few less-obvious uses or connections (like the fact that the holes in sides of the technic blocks are exactly 1-stud wide) to get the students thinking. But getting the student to figure out on their own how to put the pieces they know about together to solve a variety of different “holes” is something useful in its own right, and IMHO well within the scope of a homework assignment (particularly when before/after school tutoring, office hours, homerooms, and websites like the Kahn academy make help available to students at virtually any time of day).

          Of course, that’s not to say every implementation of this idea is good: your stats prof (and I’ve had quite a few just like him) was just bad at creating assignments (and it sounds like teaching in general). Figuring out a good homework assignment is much more art than science, and also depends greatly on the teaching style and material covered by the teacher/prof. And if the results of a homework assignment show that a substantial portion of the class didn’t get that you could put pieces X & Y together, then the teacher should point that out rather than let it pass by, particularly if the X+Y piece is important for the next stage of the building process. But that doesn’t mean that the teacher shouldn’t at least try to get the students to figure it out on their own.

          PS: Sorry for another wall of text. Apparently I have lots to say on this subject.

          1. Steve C says:

            Homework assignments are like partially built models with chunks taken out. A few problems in each set should be missing one piece, with the student's task figuring out which one to use and what orientation it should be.

            That can work on a per student basis when it’s tailored to that student. It can work if it’s not homework and a teacher is present to guide the student through finding the missing piece on their own. As a general way of assigning homework however, I vehemently disagree with you.

            When it’s homework assigned to 20-30 students one piece missing can be 4 pieces missing to one student or zero to another. Learning should not be a struggle. Of course you don’t want students to be bored and see no point to it (Shamus’ worksheets for example) but there’s a big difference between keeping students engaged in the learning process and purposely leaving out missing pieces for them to trip over.

            I’m reminded of the story of Temple Grandin. What was hard for her to learn and understand was easy for others and vice versa. It was extreme in her case due to her autism but it’s true of everyone. (Good movie btw.)

            Ever built something from IKEA and had a missing piece? It might be satisfying to build but the missing piece doesn’t help the experience. It frustrates it.

            I’m the exact opposite to Shamus when it comes to learning stuff. I’m definitely not an autodidact. But if you give me a fully complete complex problem as the starting place and show me how to solve it then I will know how to solve all the various permutations of that problem too. I use the solution as the template to solve other problems. Break my ability to make a template then you break my ability to learn effectively.

            Covering every nuance of a subject and every combination of techniques within a subject is both infeasible timewise and negatively impacts the critical thinking skills of the students.

            I disagree I have myself to back up my reasons. I was generally a B student when in school. That math class was perfectly taught to what I needed. I got an 98% and fully understood everything that was going on. It wasn’t easy or hard, just it was just taught in a manner I could absorb. It was the best grade in math I ever got. Compared to the following year in highschool when I barely got a B- and struggled with it the entire time even to the point where I got a tutor and still never fully “got it.”

            I can look back on my entire education and think about each class in turn. I got good marks in classes where the material was taught as I’ve described, and I got bad marks where it wasn’t.

            1. Steve C says:

              Note that the huge difference I’m talking about was the difference between the teacher writing the day’s homework assignment at the start of class instead of the end of class. All it did was turn homework into classwork. That was it but it made all the difference to me. Pretty minor change for a major outcome.

  35. Sumanai says:

    Incidentally, I feel like Ralph the Wolf in any PvP game. Including board games.

  36. Naota says:

    “I am a slave to my passions. I either must work on something, to the point of obsession, or I can't work on something, regardless of punishment or rewards offered. There seems to be very little middle ground.”

    This is pretty much me to the letter, and it’s a constant torment when undertaking a large product such as a novel when my interest begins to diminish part-way through, attracted by other ideas, as naturally the creative process often works faster than one’s mere mortal hands when attempting to manifest it in reality… except when you have the drive and the free time, where of course the exact opposite occurs. As a result I can be quite productive at some times and nearly useless during others.

    Not that I expect some mystical panacea of an answer which will solve this problem forever, but I am curious what feat of madness or genius you leveraged to remain focused and interested over the course of a whole novel.

    …The latter-day one, that is. Not to admonish your epic tale of Atlantis as anything less than a true work of literary masterpiece.

  37. Jeysie says:

    Your attitude towards homework reminds me somewhat of mine, Shamus. Although in my case it was less that I hated school (I got bullied a lot, but somehow managed to separate my love of learning from that), and more that to me, school and home were… separate. I had absolutely no issues with working my tail off while at school, but when I was at home I wanted to be relaxing and doing home stuff, not still thinking about school.

    As a result, homework ended up being one of my problems too, whenever it wasn’t feasible to squeeze in somehow doing it while still at school. (I still remember the time I wrote an entire lab report in the span of 20 minutes the period right before the Chem class it was due in… and still got an A on it. I’m still not entirely sure whether that said something about me or something about my teacher.)

    (I have the same attitude at my jobs, really… I’ll work as hard as you like up until the shift ends, but I refuse to stay extra without really good reason, and definitely am never bringing work home. Fortunately I’m efficient enough that I’ve always managed to never have more than a very little not-done work at the end of a day.)

  38. Aldowyn says:

    Homework. Me. Hmm. Until recently (as in 11th grade), I never minded (except for the occasional poem or outline), because they took me about 10 minutes to do, and only a couple classes ever have homework. (I still can’t figure out how my sister can find enough homework to spend all day doing it in 9th grade)

    Past couple years are a different story. For one, I got more involved in the internetz, and for two, I started taking a lot of AP courses (4 last year, 5 this year. Yay.) Those AP courses, especially Chemistry last year, had a LOT of homework. The homework itself wasn’t too bad, but outlines (I HATE doing outlines. They’re made to force you to read the chapter, which just isn’t a problem for me), and lab reports (I tend to be very unorganized in recording data, and even when I do it’s on the paper, instead of the lab notebook, so I have to transcribe). I ended up getting a c and a few b’s, making my class rank dive 18 spots.

    The classes themselves? Tests are ALWAYS easy, but especially in Math… homework is the only problem, because I’m so involved on the internet and with clubs and stuff (Check out FIRST, it’s an awesome program based on increasing awareness and recognition of science and technology)

  39. William Curtis says:

    Your life story bears so much resemblance to my own in a lot of ways that I wonder if I fell into a parallel universe and you are me… :)

  40. BTW! Shamus, grats for being among the top 200k sites in the world currently. :)
    http://stuffgate.com/shamusyoung.com

    (roughly calculated your site is in the top 1% of sites)

    Alexa is interesting but weird too http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/shamusyoung.com#
    74% of the sites out there are faster than your site.. (outch),
    the number of people that bounces (single pageview only) is 73% (is there a link between these two numbers?)
    Your site seems to be popular in Paraà±aque. (*shrug*),
    and Germans seem to be your most frequent visitors. (scratches head).
    Told ya it was weird :)

  41. Alex says:

    I either must work on something, to the point of obsession, or I can't work on something, regardless of punishment or rewards offered. There seems to be very little middle ground.

    I cannot be the only person who read that and said: “That’s me!”

    I can relate to that. When I’m not absolutely invested in something, you have to drag me kicking and screaming. When I want to do something, I do the s— out of it. All or nothing.

    I don’t know if that’s a sign of Autism or what.

  42. Neil Roy says:

    More similarities to my own life. I used to love those books.

    You need to take this Atlantis book of yours and make an adventure game based on it! :D

  43. Charlette says:

    I like how you wrote your story in secret so it would be a surprise! I like writing stories too. I almost always draw pictures.

  44. Leah says:

    I like it that you have so many endings! Your trap door looks like a beach chair.

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