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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Beaver hilarity!!

Okay, so for the people who follow me on twitter you may remember me whining about writing a paper on beavers back on the 22nd of February. Bah, I have to write a six page paper on beavers. No, that is not a euphemism for anything. (tweet) So anyway, around 2am I really hit my writing mojo and wrote a pretty nice paper and I even got to have 3 hours of sleep before having to wake up for work. After work I proofed my paper and headed off to class feeling very positive I'm feeling pretty great about my beaver (essay), so I'm off to class! (tweet). I should not have felt so flipping positive, lol.

In order to understand why the story I'm about to tell you is so funny, you need to read the description for the paper we were supposed to write. If I had the ability to get embarrassed about anything, this would be one of my most embarrassing moments ever.

Problem Based Learning: Problem 1 Beaverville

My name is Mark Miles, and I have a problem. I work at a camp up in the Poconos of Pennsylvania, and I run the adventure programming of the camp, both on site with a low ropes course and several different high ropes courses, and any off-site climbing trips. The camp has two different lakes, one that is used for swimming and boating, and another that is used only very occasionally for fishing (and is downstream from the first). This second lake is the issue, as a couple of weeks ago I noticed the water level getting much higher (a foot or more). This is a problem, because our low ropes course is located on an island in that lake, and both the approach (stepping stones and planks) is getting flooded as well as starting to flood the ropes course itself. When I did a walk around the lake, I discovered the reason for the raise in water level… There was a huge beaver dam at the one end of the lake, and several beavers swimming about and adding even more branches to the dam! It is April, and tons of groups are coming in to do low ropes, and will be unable to do so if they have toe swim to use the course. I’m also worried about the trees on the island (eastern pine and hemlock)… if they are flooded, will they die? The wires and logs that make up the low ropes course are attached to those trees, so this is a vital question! Trying to move the ropes course to a new location would cost at least $10,000, which is money the camp doesn’t have.

Ok, so…legally, what can I do (in regard to killing the beavers, or removing the dam)? Will the beavers stop building the dam at some point, or will the situation continue to get worse this year and in the years to come? Why are the dang rodents doing this in the first place – what benefits do they get from building a dam? Will flooding kill the species of trees we have on the island? Where did the beavers come from – they couldn’t have just popped up from nowhere – how did they end up at our lake? How are the beavers able to construct such a dam so well in an aquatic environment? What are my different options for a solution to this problem? Which is the best option (to you), and why (both practically and ethically) would you recommend that option?

So after having read that I needed an angle to write my essay. Obviously fact dumping is easy, but it is also the most boring thing to do. Instead of fact dumping, I read it over and over again, and finally started to really despise Mark Miles and his almost snide tone in the problem. He seemed like an arrogant jerk, so I decided that my approach to the essay would be to correct the guy by saying how stupid he is and ruining his credibility. Here are a few examples of what I did:
  • Stated the beavers are nocturnal except during certain times of the year, so it was unlikely that the guy ever saw beavers in the time frame described unless he was prowling the campground like a creepy stalker or serial killer.
  • Proved that he was overexaggerating his problem with the low ropes course by looking up actual prices of the courses.
  • Said that maybe he was turning greedy after spending too much time with corporate head honchos (low ropes courses are used in those silly corporate retreats that you see in sitcoms)
  • Made a comment about how the guy would probably just want to kill the beavers illegally

    I'm pretty sure there were some other things in addition to the ones above, but I can't remember them now. Anyway, we turned the papers in on the 23rd and someone in the class asked what the solution should be.

    "This was actually a real problem. Just replace Mark Miles with my name and this was me a few years ago," he said. *cue to me wanting to headdesk repeatedly* I eyed the papers on his desk and wondered if I could ninja mine off of there. But oh no, it got even better. "Mark Miles is a buddy of mine that let me use his name. I used to work at a bible camp in the Poconos, so every single thing in your problem was what I was dealing with." I wanted to die. I was considering finding a shovel just so I could bury myself and have a tombstone that said, "Here lies Shae, she is dumb."

    The next week I was anxiously biting my nails, waiting to see if I would be shunned out of existence because of my terrible paper (which honestly, I still thought it was funny, but I do not want to get a bad grade in the most easy science class I've ever had). The prof tells us that he didn't get a chance to grade the papers, maybe he will the next week.

    So last night I went to class, still anxious about my paper, and the teacher told us that he had only graded half of the essays so far and if we wanted to know what we got we could see him after class. Well, I'm curious that way, so I got in line with all of the other people and waited to see how hard I failed. (Tidbit of info: the professor has us write our names on the backs of our papers and quizzes so he doesn't see a name and grade them higher or lower because he has trouble being biased considering one of his real life friends is in the class)

    So I got up to see him at his desk and told him my last name. He starts looking through the papers, sees mine, turns it over and goes, "YOU!! You had that smart alecky paper, and just, grrr."

    Of course, I burst out with an "I am so sorry!" Then saw my grade (100! woot!) and he said, "I really should have taken off points for it." I replied with the only thing I could think of, "You really should have!"

    But yes, awkward times. XD
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