Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Great White Bird Hunt (since 1850)

On Thursday I have an important paper due in Art Appreciation. I know this because there is a "drop box" on our course website that says "White Bird Paper (10% of grade). Drop box closes 8:00 Thursday". This kind of statement makes me somewhat anxious. Not that a paper due in a freshman art class is really that big of a deal or anything. There are 50 students in the class and the teacher hardly speaks English. I doubt any of them will ever even be read. The thing that makes me anxious, as Thursday quickly approaches, is I have no idea what this "White Bird" we are supposedly writing about is. I'm fairly certain it has never been said in class (I know because I have studiously wasted 3 hours of my life every Thursday to make my "35% of grade" which comes from attendance).
I don't know anyone else in the class, but I'm pretty sure everyone is just as lost as I am, so I emailed my instructor neatly telling her that people were pretty confused about what type of white paper bird she wanted to have us place in her special box online. And of course the typical university instructor response that was received was a simple email with the line "Did you even read your syllabus??? -Din" (as in Professor Din, "Din" ironically meaning a cacophony of noise with no meaning or direction). The syllabus she is referring to is a three page long document that appears to have been written in Chinese and then translated to English using Google, and then accidentally translated into Swahili and then written in hieroglyphics, before being interpreted by a young man trying to impress his English major friends. After some sleuthing in the syllabus I found a reference to a book called "the white bird". A few hours of research later and I found it was a story that is included in the wrapper with our text book when you buy it at the campus book store. I didn't know this of course because college textbooks are worthless and horribly written, and therefore I refused to pay $250 dollars for one. But it turns out this is one of the only places this four page document exists in the world.
Today, Andrea and I each spent a large portion of our day hunting the internets for some mention of this "White Bird" which we now knew was written by a British man named John. Some intense detective work lead us to "Harper's Magazine (since 1850)". This "Harper's Magazine (since 1850)" printed the story in its June 2000 issue and was taunting us with thumbnail sized PDFs of the two pages containing the essay. However, you have to pay "Harper's Magazine (since 1850)" a total of $17.50 for a year's subscription in order to blow up the pages to a size where the text is readable. Yeah. Nice. So a few more hours of frustrated searching, and a few hours of procrastination with resulted in the new webpage layout you see here (thank you, thank you), and we finally succumbed to math and logic. $17.50 is less than or equal to $250, also "10% of grade" is greater than or equal to an entire letter grade, logic states that it is impossible to "fake" a two page paper on the subject of an unknown issue, therefore the purchase was made. Thanks to Professor Din and Art Appreciation we now will receive 12 issues of "Harper's Magazine (since 1850)" in the mail over the next year.With great relief I downloaded the expanded PDF files (which turned out to be GIF files... wah?) And boogied over the course website one last time to prepare to write my paper and to read any new blog by my classmates which might be posted there. The only new post was a girl complaining about how the "White Bird" paper was so hard to find. Yeah, I know, I just paid $17.50 for-- "Who would think to look in the folder marked 'reading materials' at the bottom of the drop box directory?" --wait... what? So I scroll to the bottom of this long list of folders online, and click into a box linking me directly to a document called "The White Bird.doc".
Now why, Dr. Lots-a-Noise, did you not include this information in your one line email to me? "Harper's Magazine (since 1850)" had better be super awesome. And I had better start writing my paper. "The White Bird" by the way is a wooden dove. Seriously, who knew?


  1. this makes me want to stay on the mission field forever. thanks james, thanks a lot.

  2. Anonymous5:34 PM

    Hey James and Andrea
    Love the new wallpaper!!
    I also love the story of the white bird project once I read it...oh and by the way....I will take those harpers when you are finished....I like to look at old 1850 magazines!!! :)


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