February 14, 2008

Dear Chris:

Congratulations! You have been approved to receive a Bachelors' degree from Rutgers University -- Camden effective January 2008. An official transcript is enclosed to verify your degree.

Diplomas will be awarded to graduates at Commencement. THE DATE OF THE CEREMONY IS THURSDAY, MAY 22, 2008, 6:00PM AT THE SUSQUEHANNA BANK CENTER (formerly Tweeter Center).

We hope the you enjoyed you educational experience at Rutgers University -- Camden and wish you success in your future endeavors.

So, I guess I got that thing going for me!

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January 3, 2008

Chris Harris: College Graduate

It may have come a dozen or so years late, but I am officially a college graduate.

The Final Score:


Final GPA: 3.425

It's been a while since I updated this, so I guess I should let you all know now. I got into graduate school. Yep, I got in. Not into a Ph.D. program, mind you.

I'm starting an MPA program at Rutgers-Camden later this month. It's one of those five-year joint BA/MPA deals that schools are offering these days, and it's one that I didn't even know about until a couple of weeks ago.

Although I still have a Ph.D. as my ultimate goal, I feel as though this is my best option now.

Oh yeah, I took the GRE this afternoon.

550 Verbal
590 Quantative


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October 19, 2007

Now this is something you'll never see at an Eagles game.

Somewhere in this gaggle of humanity -- if you look hard enough -- you'll find me.

RU: 27
USF: 30

(I apologize for subjecting the audience to Stuart Scott, but it was the only highlight clip available on YouTube.)

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September 20, 2007

At the Rutgers Football Game.

Tucked away in one of my desk drawers is what I like to call my "Life's To Do List." It's a constantly evolving list as I add and erase entries all the time. Somewhere on "The List" -- in between "Hop a Flight to Cancun and Crash a Wedding" and "Claim that Property in Newfoundland that my Grandmother Told Me about Before She Died" -- I wrote, "Go to a Rutgers Football Game before I Graduate." So when I got an e-mail informing me that tickets to see the nationally ranked Scarlet Knights take on Norfolk State were available, naturally, I took the bait.

Although I attend Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, I had never been to New Brunswick -- the host of the university's main campus. I had no reason to being that I was enrolled at the Camden satellite. However, with graduation coming up and with it the search for a graduate school, it should be natural that I would consider applying here. With kickoff scheduled for 3:30 PM, and wanting to check out the environs, I left around 10:00 AM.

It took me a little more than an hour drive on the Turnpike to get from exit three to exit nine. Then the real fun began. It took about another hour to drive through downtown New Brunswick, and another hour to find a place to place to park. New Brunswick is your typical American college town. It's got the same row of crap bars, hole-in-the-wall pizza joints, and cheap apartments that every other land-grant college town in America has. It kind of reminds me of Chapel Hill, in a way, and that should NOT be construed as a complement.

After parking the car in a public park about two miles away from the stadium -- $15 to park? I don't think so! -- I arrive at Rutgers Stadium. For the next hour or so, I wander around checking out the atmosphere. This was Homecoming weekend, and as such, the tailgating scene was skewed a little older than I expected. Either that, or the student body was getting their drink on back on campus (more than likely). Anyway, the revelry was a bit subdued to what I was used to at an Eagles game. But the Ivory Tower Gentry was getting their drink on, while the student body stammered in from their dorms.

At around 2:00 PM, I begin to notice the Rutgers marching band assembling outside the stadium. Looking bored, the band was killing time until the Rutgers team bus arrived. By my count, I think they played that old Paul Simon song, "You Can Call Me Al" three times.

Then, slowly but surely, the crowd begins to assemble around the band. By this time, the band had been joined by the cheerleaders, who formed a honor guard in front of the stadium. When the team buses arrive, the crowd had grown to about three-deep. All were there to catch a glimpse of the team before game time. They call it the "Scarlet Walk," and they do it before every game. I get a brief glimpse of head coach Greg Schiano.

At 2:30 PM I head to the turnstiles. Out of the corner of my eye I spot Janet Rice, the mother of Rutgers' star running back Ray Rice. I saw the last game, and the announcers said that Ms. Rice was 4' 11". If Ray Rice's mom is 4' 11", then I'm 7' 3"! Anyway, I'd be a bit embarrassed if I were a Heisman Trophy-caliber running back and my mother showed up at my games wearing a jersey with "Chris' Mom" on the back, and a facemask-less helmet.

Over the next hour the stadium would begin to fill. The athletic department sets aside the end zone seats for New Brunswick students, but the tickets I got were all the way in the Upper Deck -- far away from the action. I was kind of expecting more Camden students to make the trip, but I didn't notice anyone in our section. Also, one of my professors (the Chairman of the economics department at RU-Camden) has season tickets on the 50-yard line. But I didn't see him.

Just before kickoff, I make a run for the concession stand, to grab a quick brew and a hot dog. And that's when it hit me. NO BEER!

That's right, you can not buy a beer inside Rutgers Stadium -- which, I guess, explains the empty beer cans and Captain Morgan bottles in the men's room. What the hell kind of country do we live in where you can't get a beer at a football game?

As for the game itself: This week's opponent was Norfolk State, a historically black college that went 4-6 the previous season. This would be their very first game against a division 1-A (or whatever they're calling it now) school, and that would be no coincidence. You see, Rutgers is a "football school" now, and as such it requires some creative scheduling. Outside of conference games, each school is allowed to draw up their own schedule. Usually, that means contracting with weaker 1-A or 1-AA teams by enticing them with a big pay day.

It's a win-win for both schools. The bigger school gets an easy win, a full stadium, and a placated alumni (for one week anyway). The smaller school gets a big payday, and the experience of playing against the big boys of college football. Not that long ago, Rutgers was in Norfolk State's shoes, serving as whipping boys for the Notre Dame's, Tennessee's, and Penn State's of the college football world. Now, the shoe is on the other foot and Rutgers is able to play eight of their 12 games at home.

When Norfolk State took the field for warm-ups I thought to myself, "These have got to be the ugliest uniforms I've ever seen." Green and Gold. The Archbishop Don "Magic" Juan must be a Norfolk State benefactor.

Around 3:00 PM the student body begins to trickle in. The school wants everyone to wear red to the game, and many of the students comply. Red t-shirts and jerseys are the uniform of the day. I did see someone in a "Be the Reds" t-shirt, which I thought was kind of cool -- even though it's the wrong sport and wrong country. It brought back memories of staying up until 5:00 AM to watch the '02 World Cup.

Rutgers football fan is a unique breed. A hybrid that takes the pugnaciousness of Philadelphia sports fan, with the arrogance of New York sports fan. Case in point: during the previous home game against the Naval Academy, chants of "Fuck You Navy, Fuck You! clap clap" (Stay classy, New Brunswick!) Fortunately on this day -- in part owing to the "Homecoming" atmosphere -- such chants were not heard by this observer.

As for the game itself, the final score was almost a forgone conclusion: Rutgers 59, Norfolk State 0. It had all the excitement and drama of a fourth-week NFL pre-season game. The only highlight was the Norfolk State marching band.

I think it speaks volumes about the quality of a football game when the only thing memorable about it was the halftime show. Although I have to admit, it made me a bit uncomfortable to see a predominately white audience giving a standing ovation to a uniformed phalanx of dancing African-Americans. Don't get me wrong, those Norfolk State kids gave a hell of a show, and took a great amount of pride in their performance. But it seemed like something out of a Jim Crow-esque minstrel show.

In fact, after the Norfolk State marching band's halftime performance, many began to head for the exits. As do I, to the strains of the Rutgers Marching band playing Paul Simon's "You Can Call Me Al," again.

Lessons learned:

1) New Brunswick is a shit town. Rutgers-NB will be my "safety school."
2) The atmosphere of college football is much different that the NFL.
3) Rutgers' football team is better than Norfolk State's.
4) White people love black college marching bands.
5) I will never be going to another Rutgers football game again.

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September 4, 2007

Final Semester, Day One.

Just got back from that gaggle of humanity known as the "first day line." The first day line is, of course, the queue that forms at the university bookstore on the first day of the semester. Usually immediately following the conclusion of the first set of classes.

I wanted to get in, and get the fuck out, as quickly as possible. So I'm browsing the aisles for my Labor Econ class and see the price tag: $152.

Fuck that, I'm going on-line.

Lowest price on half.com: $115.

Found it at some site I never heard of before for $73.10 (including shipping). The internets rule!

On the other hand, I bought both of the books for my other class: Anti-Americanism. Boy this is gonna be fun because one of them from that a-hole Noam Chomsky. Speaking of which, it's the same book that that nitwit Hugo Chavez held up at the UN.

Yes, Professor Kim Sheinbaum, perhaps the most right-wing professor at Rutgers-Camden, has Chomsky on her reading list. I'm looking forward to her rants already!

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August 20, 2007

Fall Schedule

Mon, Wed & Fri
10:10AM - 11:05AM

Tues & Thurs
9:30AM - 10:50AM

Plus whatever hours I get at the tutoring center.

Current GPA = 3.389


July 30, 2007

Summer Session Grades


I haven't re-calculated my GPA yet, but that B+ pretty much ruins my chances of finishing with a 3.5 GPA.


July 11, 2007

One of Philadelphia's Hidden Gems

One of the joys of taking an on-line course, is not actually having to go to school. On most days anyway. Yesterday was one of those days where I actually had to show up for class.

For those of us who have grown up and lived much of our lives in the Philadelphia area, I think we fail to realize just how much stuff there is to see and do here. Yet for some reason, we never get around to actually seeing and doing it. Think about it: When was the last time you visited the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, The Mint, et al.? Lemme guess, it was probably a grade-school field trip, right?

Well, it was at around 2 PM yesterday, and I just got out of class. I was hungry as shit and was jonesing for some Taco Bell. So to satisfy my craving for a chalupa, I did one of those aforementioned "Philly things" that I always wanted to do, but hardly anybody from around here ever does. I walked across the Ben Franklin Bridge.

Yes, I walked from Camden to The Gallery for Taco Bell. No, I don't know what the hell I was thinking either -- I guess I was crazy from the heat! But let me tell you, if you ever get the chance to walk across the Ben Franklin Bridge, you're in for a real treat. In only takes about forty-five minutes each way, and it's pretty good exercise to boot. Just be sure to bring a camera, and not walk across when it's 95° out.

The two trademark "XXX" towers look even bigger and more impressive standing next to them, then they are driving underneath them. The sensation of standing on the sidewalk with a PATCO train in running directly underneath you is, at first, scary, but an exhilarating feeling as you feel the bridge sway ever so gently. And then there's the view! Standing at mid-span and looking south towards the Walt Whitman Bridge is an amazing sight to behold. Center City and Penn's Landing are to your right; and the Aquarium, Battleship New Jersey, and the fabulous slums of Camden are all to your left. And I'm sure that if weren't so damn smoggy, you'd probably be able to see for miles.

So if you're ever in Philadelphia -- or Camden for that matter -- and have a few hours to kill (or are unemployed and therefore have plenty of time to kill), I highly recommend taking a stroll on the ol' Ben Franklin Bridge. You'll thank me later.

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