Of course it worked out that the applications for the astronomy summer internships I was interested in required three academic letters of recommendation. Three. Getting two was pretty easy — I asked my major advisor and my mentor from my internship last year.
But three? Who else could I ask? My professors, you say? Ha! My performance in their classes precludes my asking any professors in my major.
How about a former employer? I realized that if one makes the mental connection, “Astronomy, astronauts, rockets, fireworks,” then I had pretty relevant job experience. The summer after my freshman year, I worked at the Hollywood Bowl and wired in explosives for the fireworks spectacular that accompanied concerts given by mariachi bands and Peter, Paul and Mary.
But then I remembered that my boss at the Bowl lived with a Vegas showgirl and was incapable of uttering a sentence that didn’t contain at least three expletives. On top of that, he hated me and thought me incapable of even the most menial tasks. He probably wasn’t the best recommender.
So I thought, “Hey, maybe I could get a letter of recommendation from my dean!” But then I remembered that I live in Davenport.
Who was I going to use for my third letter? I thought of everyone I knew and had come into contact with and slowly but surely crossed out the names. Ultimately, it came down to choosing between my grandmother and Ida, the lady that cleans the bathrooms in my entryway. The choice was easy.
Ida wrote a very nice letter about how I always wash my hands after doing my business. Sure, it was an exaggeration, but that’s what people do in recommendation letters, right? To give the letter academic relevance, she mentioned that I love to read while on the toilet.
With my letters taken care of, I sent in my applications and waited. Well, I didn’t get into the Puerto Rico internship program. But I knew they had probably rejected me even before they got my application, because last year I applied saying how excited I was about the possibility of “working in Costa Rica.”
Eventually, I got rejected by the University of Hawaii as well. In retrospect, perhaps I should have applied to astronomy programs with less tropical — and therefore less competitive — locales, such as the University of Wyoming at Laramie. Hindsight is always 20-20.
So I’m not sure yet what I’ll be doing this summer. But I’ve recently found out that “President” Bush may have a job for me. The way things are going right now, I’ll be drafted into a war against China by mid-July.
What with selling arms to Taiwan, building a missile defense system and now crashing a spy plane in their backyard, Bush has not been doing so well with Sino-American relations. At least by giving the Chinese a “grace period” in which to decide how best to deal with the spy plane situation, he’s probably avoided irritating them more than he already has.
But for Pete’s sake, must we be so whiny about the Chinese looking at our spy equipment? Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell act like this is some sort of personal violation. Dubya wants the plane back “without any further tampering.” People, we were spying on them! It doesn’t matter that the reconnaissance aircraft was in international air space when it collided with the Chinese fighter jet. We were still spying!
I’m a little worried Bushie’s going to go in over his head on this one. Everyone just needs to calm down. Because for those of you with your heads buried in capitalist sand, I’d like to point out that having World War III against the People’s Republic of China is not exactly in our best interests.
China is the most populous country in the world. Its military is friggin’ huge. Thanks to their own spy program, which seems to be a little bit more effective than ours, it already knows all our nuclear secrets. And on a related note, it makes most of the fireworks we used at the Hollywood Bowl. China’s no slouch.
I hope this situation resolves itself soon. But if it doesn’t, at least I’ll have something to do this summer.
JP Nogues is a junior in Davenport College. His columns appear on alternate Wednesdays.