In the beginning there was grad school. That ended in 2010. Now what do I blog about?

NEW BLOG - ACADEMIC AMPLITUDE

December 29, 2008

ahhhh...winter break

Its the last week of December. I am enjoying the first of 4 vacation days. I went to the bank to pay the mortgage, stopped to fuel up the Subaru, came home & started laundry and am now catching up on web surfing. The rest of my to-do list includes cleaning out a closet full of unworn old clothes and hauling away branches that fell during the ice storm.

Not having heard from my prof or academic advisor in over a week, I surfed on over to the school website and logged in to see if grades had been posted. I got an A in both classes. Did I earn As in both classes? I don't know. Grading is subjective, isn't it? Prof's grade differently based on the course content, their expectations, overall performance of the class as a group, and individual contributions. I will be a tough grader. I must try to keep my expectations reasonable.

Christmas was fantastic this year. LB and I had an open house on Christmas Eve and a lot of the local rock people came over. At one point we had about 18 people partying with us; otherwise we had 8-10 at any given moment between 3pm and 11pm. It was great fun. Now that the kids are grown and the family dynamic has shifted, we can do this sort of thing. Its quite nice! Christmas Day was tame - thankfully - we went to my brother's house at 1 and left before 5pm, then went to the Malone's and had some laughs until midnight, when we wished Heidi a happy birthday and then headed home. The last Christmas activity was Dan & Gail's annual broo-ha-ha on Saturday. Unusually crowded and unusually rockin' this year. I had a really good time. Overall - the best Christmas I can remember.

Spring classes begin in late January so I have a few weeks to relax, do some knitting and make a dent in the pile of novels I have been collecting to read.

December 21, 2008

Fall 2008



the semester is over. not sure why i am feeling the happy dance. it was not a good semester at all.

one class:
  • didn't learn anything new

other class:
  • no instructor until 8 weeks in
  • argumentative, unmotivated classmates
  • didn't learn anything new

December 03, 2008

I don't want to be that student

I don't want to be a student who is in it only for the diploma/certificate/possible pay raise upon graduation. But with all the CRAP I have been dealing with this semester with poorly organized classes or no classes due to no professor, and then yesterday having met with my advisor who was 45 minutes late because he didn't pay attention to details in his email...well, it just puts me closer to being one of those student checking off the credits and counting down the days.

I am in it to learn. To develop skills. To grow. To become better than I was. In order to do that I must be challenged and taught and paid attention to. Last night, when my advisor finally came to the room he told me to meet him in, he was completely unprepared. He couldn't remember what classes I had already taken or what classes I needed or what classes WE decided I would take when I spoke to him on the phone last month. Geesh! While waiting for me in the wrong room, why didn't he crack open my file (if he keeps a file on his advisees...) and remind himself what's going on with this one student, who he ought to remember, has to travel 180 miles, round trip, for a meeting with him on campus.

My expectations are not too high. I expect professionalism and I expect to be able to rely on my advisor and the school. Silly me.

November 06, 2008

Continuing saga in continuing ed

Recent developments in the class without a teacher. This after I emailed the class telling them I called the program director to voice a complaint:
I can't afford to have this course called into question; I need to finish my program on schedule.
Considering the circumstances, I think [name of school] should not only just give us program credit for this class, but a free class as well.
I'm much more focused on finishing up my coursework and receiving my degree on time than I am in achieving any benefits from this specific class.
I can't afford to retake this class. I don't have the time or the money. I am trying to get thorugh this program as quickly as possible and I am very close to the end of my program (2 classes left).
I can't afford to have this class questioned either. I don't have the time to retake it, nor the money. My feeling is if they give us a new professor this close to the end that person is going to pile on the work and we will all be over our heads, and we will be over our heads because we have done nothing this semester.

My reply:
I'm not surprised to hear that at least 50% of the class doesn't care about learning something in this class, but that makes it no less disappointing to read your replies. We are all in the business of teaching and learning, which makes it all the more difficult to digest your comments.

October 29, 2008

to learn or not to learn

a class email circulating today:

"I haven't seen any new discussions, posts or assignments since the one due on Oct. 18th.
note: the assignment due on the 18th was assigned in Sept. nothing happened between the assignment being released and the due date, so technically, there has been no class activity since mid-Sept.
"Something must be going on with the prof. I certainly hope it is nothing tragic.
"I have also been concerned with missing out but I am trying to see the glass half full and enjoy the extra light workload.
"I've been checking most every day and haven't heard anything either - but hey, I couldn't be happier!
Happy to NOT learn anything? Happy to pay tuition for a class that doesn't have a teacher? 'Extra-light work load'?

Good God.....I am extremely disappointed this semester. This class has nothing happening and the other one I am in is entry-level software apps which is not challenging me at all. Ugh.

What really gets me is that so many people think online programs are diploma-mills and up until now I have been happy to report that I have learned a great deal, have been challenged, and could say with conviction that online learning is intensive. Now I worry that the first three classes were a fluke. What if my next term is like this one and not like last spring and summer? I hate to speculate but I really don't want to waste my time and money. I would consider a transfer.


October 28, 2008

ePortfolio

For my program, I am required to create a portfolio for review prior to graduation. If you recall, dear reader, my final two choices for grad school were one with 80/20 online/F2F learning + eportfolio and a 100% online course with traditional portfolio. I chose the 100% online course with the plan of making an online portfolio, hoping they would accept it and if not, would spend a day printing doc's and making a binder cover.

After 3 complete courses I have material to put into my eportfolio so it was time to begin building. I looked at several free eportfolio tools - RCampus and Epsilen. Both tools are free web-based eportfolios. Both tools offer security features so you can set up accounts for your advisor and professors to view selected components. Both allow for file upload and management. Both have email and calendar/scheduling tools. They are capable of handling multimedia.

I chose RCampus and began building. But after the first day, I didn't like the tools for building - they were clumsy and annoying to work with. There is no way to disable the tool tips, so the build screen is cluttered. I gave it a second try but still felt underwhelmed by the lackluster building experience. So I decided to try Epsilen. I am more happy with Epsilen's build tools and the overall look and feel of the portfolio is good. So far.

The next step is to grant access to my advisor and see if he likes it. When I meet with him in December, when I sign up for spring term courses, I'll talk to him about it.

October 21, 2008

Sweet Potato Quesadilla

I made this recipe up this past weekend while planning a party for my girl-friends. It was big hit!
  • Package of Manny's Cafe Style Corn Flour Enchilada wraps (or your fave flour tortilla)
  • Jar of Newman's Medium Black Bean & Corn Salsa (or your fave salsa)
  • Box of Near East Parmesean Couscous (or your fave couscous) - cooked
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • Cup of shredded carrots
  • Cooking spray
  • Spices: minced garlic, salt, ginger, clove, cinnamon, cilantro
  • 1/2 stick real butter
  • Large non-stick skillet
  • Pot to boil potatoes

Peel sweet potatoes and cut into cubes. Boil until fork-tender. Drain. Return to pot with 1/2 stick butter. Mash up with a fork. Season to your taste with garlic, salt, ginger, clove, cinnamon, and cilantro.

  • Warm skillet over med-low heat. Spray with cooking spray. Place one tortilla in the pan.
  • Spread the tortilla with a layer of sweet potato mash - not too thick, but enough to cover.
  • Dot small spoonfuls of salsa onto SP mash.
  • Sprinkle with layer of shredded carrot.
  • Top with light layer of couscous.
  • Top with a 2nd flour tortilla.
  • Let crisp fully in pan before flipping gently.
  • Crisp second side.
  • Remove to cutting board and let stand 3-4 minutes before cutting into triangles.

Very yummy!!! The ginger, clove and cinnamon goes really well a medium-heat black bean salsa.

October 20, 2008

Fall semester

I am sooooo bored this semester. There aren't any weekly assignments, no required reading, no required discussions, no class interaction all, and one of my instructors fails to answer my emails. ugh. It is painful to think of the money I am spending and the time I am investing in comparison to what I am learning, which is nothing.

The basic rules of teaching an online course are these:
  1. Course design:
    1. include goals and objectives not only in the syllabus but in each section of the course and include specific goals associated with an assignment.
    2. provide dynamic course content with links to readings, audio, video and sample work
    3. provide alternative options for self-guided learning - no two people click int he same pattern; make sure all learners can easily access information
  2. Course content:
    1. provide the same information you would in a love session: a presentation, questions & answer time, small group work, open discussion, team projects, individual homework
    2. remember the principles of engaging and educating: MOTIVATE your learners - spark their interest in the topic; INFORM your learners: teach them something; give students opportunities to APPLY new knowledge; and TRANSFORM their learning into new ideas and develop new concepts.
  3. Assessment:
    1. provide assignments which allow students to demonstrate their learning
    2. provide detailed commentary on student work which encourages reflection and further learning
If my fall semester instructors are reading this: GOOD! Read it!

September 30, 2008

The class still haunts me

Here's a video I found on www.i-am-bored.com for you all to enjoy. The feeling you get in your stomach is the same feeling I got this summer during my diversity class.


What Do Kids Prefer, White or Black Doll? Children don`t lie, they show the truth about racial views.


September 29, 2008

One last post before the end of September

So we're nearing the end of September. Leaves are starting to change color. We had the last watery ears of corn from the farm stand up-town. The neighbors are placing pumpkins on their front stoops.
It is an election year. The economy is pitiful. We're paying over $3/gallon of gas and over $3/gallon of milk. National morale is low, and sinking. Not even the possibility of electing the country's first black president can raise peoples' spirits. Unemployment is higher than it has ever been and we are looking at a long, cold, harsh winter in this high-cost of living area we call New England.
My husband and I are counting our blessings while we carefully monitor our combined physical and financial standing. He suffers chronic health problems and although we hope for an early retirement for him, unexpected job loss due would be devastating. I check the job listings regularly, seriously weighing the options of moving away from a job I love in order to make a few extra bucks each month, just in case.
We've done as much as we can to keep the house weather proof, having had work done on the foundation this summer and having had an energy audit done by the state. We are waiting for bids on insulation for the attic and basement and we hope to get that done before the snow flies. We have locked in to a price on heating fuel and will keep our fingers crossed that the small locally owned oil company we chose will not be forced to sell out to the regional oil overlords like our last company did.
I can't imagine how we would make ends meet if I could only mow lawns or drive a school bus. I feel sorry for the families who highest earner is making $8 or $10 or $12 an hour. I cannot imagine what it must feel like to be facing winter with energy prices as they are with that level of income. Scary. Scary as all hell.

September 16, 2008

temporary online obsessions

1) Lipstick Jungle. Thanks to internet television and the networks being ever-so generous with their offerings, I can watch back-to-back-to-back episodes of whatever crap grabs my attention. This week it's Brooke Shields' fem-drama Lipstick Jungle. The sudden whirlwind romance for 'Victory' is so so so silly. Brooke's marital troubles are predictable, but the addition of Lorraine Bracco as her arch enemy is fun; if Bracco can make Tony Soprano cry, think what mentalness she can inflict on Miss Shields! The Nico's (stupid name) hot & sexy fling with a guy named 'Kirby' (another stupid name, but he has great abs) makes this trash-TV, much like Desperate Housewives, so don't look for intellectual fare here. Its pure entertainment; no brain power required.

2) MySpace and Facebook. Although I have had a LinkedIn account for quite awhile, I am the last of our circles of friends to succumb to the lure of social networking on the two most popular sites in the universe. Facebook is more 'real'. Its clean, simple and unobtrusive. MySpace is so Yo!Yo!Yo! and flashy and unreal. For the first week I was totally hooked on both FB and MS, logging into both while watching TV with hubby, anxiously waiting for a 'friend' to come on line, looking forward to seeing what someone might post on my 'wall. I admit the excitement waned quickly and I'm not on all the time now, but I am still curious to see what happens now that I am out there. What ghosts will show up? What skeletons will emerge?

3) The Stock Market. I am making myself miserable by watching my IRAs and 403(b)s plummet. I don't know enough to make hardcore stock market gambles. I know some people get rich during recessions. That won't be me. I just want my accounts to stop giving me updates in (-negative) numbers. It's killing me. I need to stop watching. It's going to continue to slide and then, after we elect a democrat into office, things will turn around. If I work my math skills - which are horrible - I can make it seem like the amount I am losing isn't more than what I would be paying in taxes if I took it off the market.

September 03, 2008

making up is hard to do

Not happy with my summer class, as you can see by reading this summer posts. Was given a B+. I am fighting it. I want an A, and she said she'll give me an A- if I can submit another paper on diversity prior to the due date for final grades. I have a draft done - 8 pages - which I will edit today and get in to her before Friday morning.

Yes, I can be a high-maintenance student. I am a high achiever. I realize this. But honestly, the final paper assignment included a section which specifically asked for an 'action plan' i.e. a way I would incorporate diversity and cultural awareness in the classroom. Before writing the paper I emailed the prof and repeated for the umpteenth time 'I AM NOT A K-12 TEACHER!' and asked for guidance on how to meet the assignment requirements. She didn't give me any clear answer. So I did the best I could and sent it on in. Then she grades my paper with comments along the lines of 'there is no action plan here' and 'the first half starts out strong but then loses focus'. Really? Hmm.

I then began to suspect she has a TA managing the class assignments because the prof doesn't seem to have a clue as to what I do for work, even though I had to mention it in pretty much every discussion so that my classmates would understand where I was coming from with my discussions. Either that or she was unable to veer away from the course outline & assignment rubrics to make slight modifications for my situation. I believe these things could have been tweaked for my situation. (and I find it hard to believe she hasn't had someone else from higher ed in her class before.)

So I have written a lengthy paper on diversity training in medical school. If I edit the text down to the 3-5 pages she wants, the may be two pages worth of footnotes explaining what PPS and LPP is. So be it. I am trying to make it work the best I can.

Lesson learned: contact the prof BEFORE the class starts and make sure he/she understands where I am coming from and why I am taking his/her class. I'll do this for the fall term and see if it works out better. I know someone who works here at my U who is in an MEd program at another big-U (I go to a state college for my MEd) and she has the same problems with profs not seeming to understand why she is in an MEd program if she isn't a K-12 teacher. So its not just me and that makes me feel better.

August 19, 2008

catching my breath

whew! Summer session was very difficult. Tough class - not an easy breezy summer class which I would have preferred. I need to schedule an appointment with my advisor and register for fall classes, which means a trip out to the north shore in the coming weeks while I wait for my final grade for the summer session.

The class on diversity was emotionally challenging and mentally exhausting. All the diversity training have had in my life was ineffective and I was completely unprepared for such intensity int he discussions and debates. I wasn't the only one having some sort of cultural awakening; many of us in the class were exposed to some profound truths, truths which we have been sheltered from our whole lives. I am thankful for the experience and feel much more at ease with the subject now.

Work is busy now. I am gearing up for a meeting with someone to discuss re-grading my position. Comparing what I do and what I make to industry standards, I am way below where I should be. Advocating for change I can do, but advocating for myself is difficult. I am trying to stay focused on it as if I were advocating for someone else, to prevent becoming over emotional, which I tend to do when faced with a personal challenge.

Summer is coming to a close. The last few projects at the house are underway - the front stairs are being re-built and we are set for estimates on the insulation. I can't believe we are planning for winter already.

August 04, 2008

Summer session

I am more than half way through the summer session. It has been difficult. The class is a 'global diversity' course (requirement). I'm not one who's big on diversity issues so I didn't exactly go into the class doing cartwheels.

The first few assignments were trivial. Get to know you's and testing of the waters. Then BLAMO, we get hit with some major black/white readings and assignments. Tough topic. Sensitive issue. Everyone has baggage related to race issues. Me, too. I know I do.

In a diversity class it is all about people and their issues. People get defensive and start playing I'm-not-a-racist-bingo, checking off a square for each lesbian, Jewish, black, Asian and Latino friend they have. The 'free' square in the middle is for anyone who has ever attended an Irish/Italian/Greek/Puerto Rican or gay pride festival. Give me a break.

This week's Post Secret included the following image, which pretty much sums up my thoughts on the subject. Note that the creator's final thoughts, what he/she learned, is covered by a label. This bit of irony is the point - it is what's beneath the label that counts.

mike.jpg PostSecret Aug 2008

Note: Since start of the class, author has been referred to as a social Darwinist, a racist and a meritocratist.

(than you, Raputa, for reminding to update my blog)

June 29, 2008

sigh

I feel weird about my job right now. I love what I am doing, I look forward to what I want to do. Why do I still troll job postings? Compensation. Its true. I want money. More money, I should say.

I have never been one to lust for material objects. I live contently without HDTV and plasma screens and PlayStations. I drive a modest car and wear modest clothing. I don't go out to sparkly dinners at fancy restaurants. Its not really about the Benjamins. Its about compensation - recognition for what I contribute to the department. So what do I do?

I consulted with a couple of friends and went over my dilemma - to rock the boat or not is the question. And if so, how. I have never been assertive for myself. Argue for better equipment or software for the department? Absolutely- fight for it I will. But for money for myself? Never done it. Don't know how.

I need to learn how to be assertive and do it properly and successfully, so I don't grow irritable and unhappy with my employer. If I could hire an agent to represent me and present my case to the department chair, I would, to safe myself the sleepless nights, anxiety and pressure that will surely being to build as I psych myself up for a confrontation.

June 03, 2008

ch-ch-ch-changes & chipmunks

School's out and my new work schedule has begun. I asked for the option of working from home one day a week, to cut down on commute time, fuel costs and related frustrations of driving through that wretched city twice each day. My wish was granted so now, each Tuesday, I can enjoy working in a t-shirt & shorts, in stocking feet, at home. Ahhhhh...

One semester into grad school and my mind is already wandering to the next phase of my professional life. I have been trolling the job boards, at work and in the general public, to find out what is out there and what it is paying. Ideally, yes, keeping my state job would be wise, but I would be foolish to neglect exploration of all opportunities. I have only 3 years in now and will have 5 by the time I have earned my master's and that's not exactly enough to warrant a full commitment to the state. I will thought keep state colleges and universities at the top of my list. And I'm just looking, anyway....

The home improvement saga continues with foundation repairs. Bill and Brett spend the day mixing cement and pointing the field stone foundation of our 80+ year old home. Last week they dug up the old apron, yesterday they had a truck up to pour concrete. Today was finish work.

While making dinner one night, Brett regaled us with tales of his work crew (city folk!) being spooked not only by the nest of snakes they uncovered while pulvarizing the cement stairs but also the den of a fifty chimpmunks they unearthed out front. Little bastards, those chipmunks. It has been they and the little red squirrels who have been pulling stone from our foundation over the last forty years, ruining the mortar and creating pathways for flooding. Evil. I can imagine the collective ire of the den of chipmunks when the backhoe removed the sod roof of their den and their daily respite interrupted with a diesel fueled eviction notice. Au revouir, mes chipmunks.

May 11, 2008

homework-free weekend

I just got my grades - A in both classes. woo-hoo!

My summer course begins July 7th. That gives me two full months to relax and unwind. I got a call from a woman who wants to hire me to build a website for her production company. I have a meeting with here this week. Depending on what she is willing to pay and how much work it will take , I may or may not take the job. I am looking forward to some time off before the next wave of courses starts. Now that I know how much work grad school requires, I will keep my extra commitments light. even book group was tough during the semester. More than once I scrambled to find time to read the selection. But the night out with the ladies was worth it each time so I will keep book group on my agenda.

This is my first homework-free weekend. I decided to clean my home office. I moved everything except the desk and bookcase. Once the room was empty I decided I hated the McDonaldland colored paint on the walls. So I jumped in the car and drove to Aubuchon Hardware and picked up a gallon of antique white latex.

My husband cautioned I should prime the orange trim, but I was too eager to get rid of it and the yellow walls. I just dove right in to painting. By 6 o'clock, the trim was done - window, doors and baseboard - plus the corners were cut in on the walls.

This morning I woke at 7, but stayed in bed until 7:30, listening to the birds chirping and church traffic driving by outside. I put a pot of coffee on to brew and went to look at my room. The trim definitely needed a second coat and the corners I'd cut were revealing a hint of the gold beneath. I hoped I wouldn't need to get a 2nd gallon of paint.

After checking my email and nursing a few cups of java (and cleaning up cat vomit; poor kitty is sick) I got back to painting. I rolled out the walls with a generous amount of paint, hoping to deter the need for a second coat. I assessed what was left in the can - not much- and began brushing a light coat onto the trim to fill in what little orange was showing. Husband woke and came down and since he is much taller than me, pointed out a few spots above the window and doors which needed a hit of paint.

All in all the project was good one for my first homework-free weekend. My office is brighter and seems bigger with the white paint. It was too chilly to work outside yesterday but the sun is bright and warm today. Since it is barely noon and I am done painting, I will shower, change and go sit out for awhile to enjoy the rest of my day.

May 04, 2008

2 down, 10 to go

My first semester is over. My first two classes are done. My first 6 credits are earned.
I am spent.

It was a lot more work than I expected - more time needed for reading and writing assignments. I am happy to have been challenged and I learned as much as I had hoped. The courses were slightly unbalanced - one being considerably better than the other - but overall it was a good first term.

It was difficult, as I feared, to be a student in an online course when what I do 75% of the time at work is make sure online courses look good, function well and have dynamic qualities to engage the learner. The course environment for my first term was boring. I didn't pick up any new ideas at all. This was disappointing since one fo the classes was called 'Technology in the 21st century classroom'. The online environment IS part of the 21st century classroom and I feel we should have explored that topic.

It was also a little weird, as I expected, to be in classes with K-12 teachers. I wish I had at least one adult educator in the course to chat with. And in the Theories course, the assignments were all based on K-12 learning requirements so I had a disadvantage. But I did well and am satisfied with what I am taking away.

I now have 6 weeks off before my summer class begins. I am looking forward to a full week on the Cape with my husband, and getting some work done in the yard at home.

April 22, 2008

weary in the last lap

This is it - the end of my first semester of graduate school.
This is it - me growing weary of the read-write process.
Here I am - in the final leg of a long 12-week run of 2 courses. I am tired.

My plan is to do 2 - 1 - 2 (spring - summer - fall) so I can finish in under three years. But it seems I have a little issue with one of my courses now, where I am struggling to complete an assignment worth 25% of my grade. I have lost steam, I am looking forward to a few weeks off before the summer session crunch, and I find several new hoops to jump through.

What is the issue? Well, this class has an 'action research project' due and my research question relates to the medical students at work. Come to find out, I cannot do any level of research on students without permission from the institution.

Blaming: I discovered the need for approval early last week and promptly shot an email to instructor for advice. She didn't respond until today, which means I lost a week's worth of time of review process. And in her email, she asks me what I should do. Um, hello? I asked her because I don't know. So I contact the IRb and ask them about it and they sure go ahead, but I have to get a faculty member to sign off on everything, which means trying to find a faculty member to commit to working on this project which means school credit for me and diddly-squat for him/her.

Crying: This totally blows. I just want to say 'fuck it' and take a low grade. But I need to learn how to do research so I should persevere. But it hurts! It hurts to be dependent on so many policies and it hurts to try and operate under strict guidelines. It hurts because I am not used to it. Its a lousy thing to have to get used to...

Biting my lip, sucking air: Instructor hasn't answered my second email. I am at a loss. Unsure of how to proceed. So badly want to say 'fuck it'.

Counting to 10: I need to stop expecting immediate answers and learn to be paitent. That is what research is about - waiting, collecting.

Whining: ...but I don't want this class to drag out for 5 or 6 more weeks...I need a break.....

April 04, 2008

A brief interaction with life

As usual, I left my computer and headed down to the cafeteria with a book to take a lunch hour away from the online world. The cafeteria isn't the most ideal location to read, but if I hit it right, I can get a 2-top in the back corner and at least be able to put my feet up and relax.

Chicken soup was on the menu so I poured myself a bowl and found a few packets of Saltines in which there were more full crackers than crumbs, and chose a milk from the fridge instead of a diet-whatever.

I am reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert and am in the middle, when she finally finds a way to meditate successfully. I am happy she found some peace and success. She has decided to stay at the Ashram for longer than planned, just to further enjoy the new sensation of peace found in successful meditation. AT this part int he story, I leave me table and head back to my office, ready to tackle the remaining 3.5 hours of the workday.

There are 2 sets of elevator banks int he middle of the hospital - the patient elevators and the visitor elevators. There is no such thing as a faculty & staff elevator, so you have a choice of riding up with someone dying on a gurney or the crying weeping family members who are in to visit the man dying on the gurney. Generally I opt for the patient elevator bank and wait until one comes without any passengers - alive or dead - and hope it doesn't stop anywhere between level 1 and the 6th floor.

Today outside the elevator bank there were two gurneys waiting for rides up to the wards, so I walked past and peered around the corner of the visitor elevator bank. There was, as I expected, a large group of people waiting for one of four lifts to arrive. I hang back a little from the crowd, knowing I will wait until they all get on and then push the UP button and take an empty one myself, unless someone else comes along...

So an elevator arrives and everyone squeezes onto it, Styrofoam Dunkin Donuts cups in hand, and I see a woman whip out her cell phone, ready to see if in fact, someone can hear her now.

I see a large woman in a wheelchair a few feet away from this elevator as the doors begin to close. There is a dark haired, 30-something obviously mentally impaired woman behind her, looking around casually. The woman int he chair says, 'Rose? Come on Rose, we have to make the elevator.' I see the elevator doors close. The woman doesn't look helpless or upset, she just looks longingly at the UP button closest to her but is still our of reach. So I walk over and push the button for her. She smiles pleasantly and says,'Another one is coming, Rose. This time we have to be ready.' I wonder how many elevators Rose has missed.

So another small group gathers and several of them hurried people push the already lit UP button and wait anxiously. An elevator opens and everyone gets on. I stick my arm inside and reach around to the HOLD button and call out to Rose, 'Come on Rose! Let's go!' as if I am calling my Dad's dog. Rose smiles at me with her crooked eyes and wraps her chubby hands around the handles of her mother's wheelchair. They barely fit int he crowded lift, but they do and the door closes. 'What floor?' I ask.

Rose's mother tells me 2ICU Lakeside. Damn. I am not familiar with that one. But before I can think differently, the chime pings to announce our arrival on the 2nd floor and so I find myself helping Rose and her mom off the lift and out into the hall. Another young women had to help as well, since Rose couldn't push the wheelchair backwards and I was holding the OPEN button. This women jumped right back into the elevator and was whisked away as the doors closed behind her.

I looked at Rose's mother and asked where she was heading. 2ICU - Lakeside she repeated pleasantly. 'Come on, Rose,' I said. 'I've never been there, but I am sure we can find it.'

'We're visiting my husband,' Rose's mom says.

'My dad!,' Rose says happily.

'He fell and broke his lg in 3 places,' Rose's mom says.

'I am sorry to hear that,' I say to the mom and then again to Rose, looking each one sincerely int he eye and nodding my sympathy.

After roaming the halls for a short time, I flag down a little woman in scrubs and ask for help. We are in the Radiology Department and I know we're not in the right area. I give her the run down of how I met Rose and her mother and that I wanted to help them get where they needed to go. She understood and waved us along. We followed and entered the Radiology area. Rose either heard or saw the word MAMMOGRAM and started reacting in a frightened manner. Her mother tried to soothe her with words, 'Its OK Rose.'

'I don't want Rose to have a mam-o-gram,' Rose whined.

'No mammogram today, Rose,' I said. 'We're just going to see your dad.'

'Going to see my dad!,' she echoed and then bumped the wheelchair into the leg, unintentionally, and I smiled.

The little nurse takes us through the back way to the new Lakeside addition built onto the hospital last year. The walls in the hall are still drywall - not even taped and plastered yet, confirming the nurses' claim that visitors are supposed to go through the new Lakeside entrance and not up through the old hospital. I thank her repeatedly in between encouragements to Rose as we make our way through the bright new hallway, past doorways covered with plastic sheeting.

We emerge into a brand new chrome and teak wood foyer and the nurse leaves after a few more thank-you's from me. I look at Rose's mom and she says this looks familiar. We enter a waiting room through a pair of heavy glass doors which I hold open for Rose and her mother. I think to myself, Rose would never have been able to manage this without help.

I felt suddenly overwhelmed with pity and sympathy for this woman and her daughter. I imagined 35 or more years this woman raised this mentally handicapped daughter - wiping her, cleaning her, feeding her, and now has to rely on her to do the same for her. I cannot imaging how difficult it must have been the last day or two days or however long the husband, Rose's dad, had been hospitalized...and in the ICU! which sounds like the situation is much worse than a couple of broken bones.

We enter the waiting area and there is a hospital volunteer in a red polo shirt who nods at us. Rose's mother asks about the ICU and he points toward the back area. 'Come on Rose,' Rose's mother says and Rose begins pushing the wheelchair in the direction the mother indicated.

'She is here to see her husband,' I said, emotion bubbling up inside me. 'And I think her daughter is mentally challenged. They might need some help. Can you help them?' I can hear a note of begging in my voice as I say this, imploring that this is a serious matter. The volunteer smiles and says he'll be free from the desk in a few minutes and will check on them. He nods affirmatively and I have the feeling he's handles these types, and worse, situations in the past. I am more than willing to pass on my self-imposed responsibility at this point, as I feel a choking feeling in my throat.

I step away but don't leave. I look toward the back of the room and see Rose carefully navigating her mother's wheelchair around other visitors. I see another set of glass doors and I feel compelled to go down there to continue assisting. But I can't. I don't. I don't want to. I want to want to, but I can't. It hurts too much.

I begin walking back to the main hospital, back to my office, back to work. I am emotional. I have that ache in my chest that comes withs sympathy and sadness. I feel like I could cry, if I stumbled upon someone else crying, just to cry out the sympathy I felt for Rose's mom and for Rose. Oh, my heart aches for these strangers and my mind reels from the intensity of the challenging questions which arise in my mind after this brief interaction with life, death and family. Its all too much, this life.

March 27, 2008

In Review

I had my review at work today. The vice chair of my department read his comments off the review form to me and we had a few laughs, especially when he said he couldn't give me all O's (outstanding) so there were a few E's (excellent) in there. We chatted briefly, I asked for a private office, he said that would be almost impossible. I asked for a PDA, he said sure. So all in all, it was a good review. What it will amount to in my check, I have no idea but I am sure it won't be enough to grant my husband an early retirement.

Evaluations are weird. I used to work at a place where the form was five pages long and instructions were to list 3 positives and 2 neutrals or negatives in each section. We as employees were encouraged to do a self eval and submit it to our supervisor. I was fortunate enough to have 5 years to master the self-eval and it ended up that 3 of my annual evals were almost word-for-word copies of my submitted self-eval. I was honest - I gave myself fair assessments. I knew I could improve my camaraderie with coworkers and improve my appearance, so I always put those in there. A few times I had to make stuff up - like attend more student functions or spend more time reviewing company policy (I could quote the manual, but never had the chance to prove it).

At the end was a section for the supervisor to write 5 goals and the employee to state an action plan to reach those goals. One manager noted my anti-social behavior and challenged me to interact socially - and I took it as a valuable challenge. I started going to lunch and chatting with staff. I joined the staff softball team. I volunteered to chair the diversity council. I was organizer for two annual 'fun days' and helped plan a family day. Another supervisor challenged me to dress more professionally. I didn't do too well at that, but I did start getting regular hair 'styles' not just 'cuts', and I increased my shoe collection from 2 pairs to 6 pairs. All good things.

The eval process there, I thought, was a good one. Some give and take, a balance of positive and negative commentary and some goals.

Here, at my current locale, the form is a simple 1.5 page list of check boxes with a few blank spaces for minor comments. Quality of work: Outstanding Interactions with others: Excellent etc. There isn't any space to note that I attended & spoke at a national convention, and attended regional conferences. I want it in writing that I have enrolled in graduate school so I can be of more service to the department and the school (and make more money, of course).

On this form there is no room for goal setting, no action plan. I don't like that. I need to be challenged. I can't even set a goal to get all O's because I am already there (according to my supervisor today). So what now?

Yes, I am happy that my work is appreciated and my supervisor is willing to gush about me to the big cheese. I'm just a little disappointed that he didn't give me a challenge for this year. If I did a self-eval I would have put, for goals:
  1. Identify solution for cross-campus conferencing; implement
  2. Identify problems with email distribution list; solve
  3. Assess student technology needs; write summary and proposal
  4. Assess faculty technology and training needs; write summary and action plan
So I guess those are my goals. The actual implementation or problem solving I can't guarantee because, since they aren't in my eval I don't have full departmental support. But I can do as much as I can on my end and will learn something in the process and make some headway across the technological divide. The great thing about school and work being so closely related is that I can craft school assignments into work-related projects. A few of the goals listed above could be projects I can get school credit for, so it definitely works to my benefit.

And I am very excited about getting a PDA! Hooray for tech toys!

March 10, 2008

spring break

Beaches. Beer. Bar-b-que. Not for me.

Although it was on my schedule, in the syllabus, I really didn't pay any mind to the scheduled week off. Not until I fell behind in my homework. Then I rallied and made significant headway so that I, too, could enjoy the week off without the worry of unfinished business.

Because life is life and life is like that, this week hasn't been super wonderful. I have been logging on to the course website, just to poke around and peek at replies to my discussions posts even though I promised myself I wouldn't. And I have been stressing out just little because I haven't decided on an 'engaging question' for a research project I didn't know I would be working on. (I did read the syllabus, and re-read it; the information is unclear). But that isn't due until next week so I could put it on the theoretical back burner without guilt.

And it is tax season. So this week I have been working on our household taxes. Oh joy of joys. Why do people who have children get tax refunds and people without children have to leave their money with the federal government to spend? That makes no sense to me. I know it costs money to raise kids, but seriously. That tax credit needs to be dissolved into something either equally beneficial or equally penalizing.

So Sunday is Dad's 79th birthday. I'm not a big fan of family obligations. I hear the death march drumming as whatever event it is draws nearer. Budda-budda-bum, bum, bum, bum, bum. Budda-da-da-da-da-da bum, bum, bum, bum, bum. Its not that I don't love my family and I do enjoy visiting my brother and playing with his rugrats. Its the obligation part of it that bothers me. Everyone waits until its someones birthday and then scrambles to plan a get-together and no one has any idea of each others' schedule because we haven't seen each other since the last birthday. And you can tell just by looking around that everyone has somewhere else they'd rather be, even if its just at home at 3pm on a Sunday afternoon (like me). Not really - I see my brother regularly. I am just exaggerating to support my argument that family obligations aren't really very much fun. Because they aren't.

On the bright side, my office-mate is away for the week with her church, saving the souls of people in El Salvador, or building shelters or digging wells, or whatever. But it means that I have the whole office to myself AND there aren't twenty million people dancing in and out our door to chat with her. I love it. I'd love to have my own office. I had a private office three years ago, and it was a nice one, too, a corner office on a second floor with a view of 100 year old pine trees growing up and around a decaying old state hospital. It was glorious - the privacy, the seclusion, the autonomy. When I started with my current employer, my first position involved a cubicle. It was the worst working environment I could be assigned. It was right near a door, too, so every five minutes someone would enter or exit the suite and that door would slam. My nerves were shot after a few months - I'd jump out of my skin every time I heard the mechanism catch in the door handle. Plus it was a suite - there were four of us in there - one gay male, the boss, and three women. Talk about over emotional wrecks. Ugh. Terrible. But there was always chocolate around.

My office mate now is OK; she is nice, she tries to be friendly. But she is older and on the verge of retirement and she has a classic case of employee burnout - she knows too much, has been there too long, has seen too much change and is ready to leave but can't until she's earned her full retirement so she feels 'stuck' and helpless. She's a miserable pill. She talks to herself constantly, which would be funny except its kind of scary. She lives alone with cats - crazy cat lady? - and rarely takes time off. She might fall down dead the day after she retires because it seems all she has is her job. And her yearly trip to El Salvador. You'd think someone who comes back from a third world country would feel pretty good about life, but last year, she came back in an even worse mood. So I am not anxious for her return and definitely enjoying my week alone. I am having lunch in my office with my feet up on the windowsill. Its great. Even if only short lived.

All in all, everything is well balanced, I think. I am ready for classes to start up again next week. I am glad I had time to do my taxes - in fact, I'll try to remember this next year since it has worked out so nicely. And if my office mate goes away again next year, maybe I'll invite Dad to have lunch with me in my office and my brother and sisters can do the scramble on their own. Its all about learning from experience, right?

February 23, 2008

Procrastination, at its finest

7:30am
I wake up with this ridiculous leg pain I have had for the past few weeks. I am annoyed with this unidentifiable discomfort and also annoyed to be wide awake at 7:30 on a Saturday.

I get up, wash up, and head down to the kitchen. After some stretches and deep knees bends to relieve the leg pain, I turn on the TV, start coffee and take out the knitting project I began last night.

I watch the news and an hour of home improvement shows, knowing full well that hours of homework await me and it would be in my best interest to begin before husband awakens.

9:00am
Husband comes down. We have breakfast and chat. We gauge how long we think it'll take to plow the driveway and shovel the walkways. We check the weather for signs of additional snowfall.

10:00am
We decide there is no need to head outside until lunchtime. I pull out my computer.

After checking email, deleting spam, reading the news headlines and washing the dishes, there is nothing left to do but start homework. Right? No, how about I look for ways to cut back on our monthly cable TV bill. Yeah...that'll kill 45 minutes...

I have a severe case of procrastination, brought by an unexpected bout of lethargy which was a side affect of having the flu for a week. 10 days ago I stayed home from work due to head cold. By the end of that day, I had a fever. The next day, sore throat and sinusitis. I was able to do a little work, thanks to a webcam and video conference technology along with VPN access to my workplace PC.

What I didn't get done was home work. I logged in for ten or fifteen minutes a day, to stay on top of discussion board postings and that was it.

So here it is the weekend, and although my head is still stuffy, I am feeling better and wanting to go out & about but I have 2 weeks worth of homework to do. Ugh. And no motivation to do it.

10:55am
Ok, So I grab my notebook and pen and login to my courses. I check one course - list my assignments due and scan the discussion boards. I check another course - my internet freezes up. I Check Mozilla and its working fine. But I have to run a virus scan and make sure there isn't anything wrong.....stupid Microsoft....

11:45am
13 tracking cookies detected by Ad-Aware and a cache of issues detected by SpyBot. I cleaned up my PC and knitted a row on my scarf.

This scarf is a new project and I am very pleased with how it looks and feels - tres shabby chic. Last night, because book club was canceled due to weather, I sat and knotted together all the purple and pink scrap yarn I have collected over the past year. Most of it is soft acrylic, but added in several yards of multi-colored cotton yarn and one long piece of blood red wool blend.
I began knitting on a 30mm long circular needle, size 9. I cast on 320 stitches and began knitting. I haven't been tracking my knit and purl rows, so it has an uneven vertical ribbing along with the varied vertical stripes. The effect is beautiful. I also threaded 10 purple buttons of various sizes/shapes and added those in on one row. I'll do it again, maybe 3 or 4 times, to add some interest. I have quite a bit of green scraps, too, so I may do a green version after this one is complete.

11:50am
Now....I am going ...to look at ...my homework....

12:34pm
I wonder if the reason I am procrastinating so much with homework this week is because assignments for both courses require me to create lesson plans for K-12 students. I do not work in a K-12 environment.

Both courses are focusing on teaching for all student abilities. My technology course homework is to build a UDL (http://www.cast.org/research/udl/index.html) lesson plan.

My theories course assignment is build an MI (http://www.infed.org/thinkers/gardner.htm) lesson plan.

I would argue that it is impossible to teach in these manners more than 60% of the time. Maybe 80% for some courses. I argue:
How do you teach a blind student the color wheel in art class?
How do you create an MI specific lesson in math for a naturalist intelligence?
How much time should a teacher invest in lesson planning to create these all inclusive learning opportunities?

Inclusion in classrooms is fine. Its great. But its not always appropriate or effective. Yes, technology provides almost endless possibilities to teach to disabled students. Without a doubt, screen readers, a keyboard and a mouse break down barriers to learning. But teaching with technology and teaching without to he rest of class seems like a lot to ask of a teacher. Isn't this why they used to have 'special schools'? To make the most of specialists and specialized resources?

Sensitivity to individual personalities and interests is fabulous - but to tailor lessons to each MI for each lesson is unnecessary. It is more reasonable to plan a week's worth of lesson plans to include something for everyone. I have been trying to build this lesson plan and find it ridiculous to have to add in a special project in which 'naturalist's' can track the weight of recycled paper so that I don't exclude their natural intelligence in my math lesson. Couldn't' I just say that the math relay race I designed for the athletics will be played outdoors?

1:06pm
After drafting my UDL lesson plan, to teach addition & subtraction to blind and deaf students, I need a break and am going out to shovel snow.


4:03pm
I just submitted my overdue UDL assignment. Thank God for rubrics. I was able to edit the draft and then re-write to meet the rubric for this assignment. I hope I met the intermediate level. It was very challenging for me to do this. I felt irritable while doing this assignment and would rather have not had to do it. This is very close to what I expected the course work would be considering the program is geared toward K-12 learners. I much prefer the theories of learning, discussing school systems and types of learners and possibilities for change. Writing lesson plans is not fun for me.

I have assignments in theories to look at, now. One I already began, I just need to tweak it. The other I haven't even read yet....


4:57pm
Ouch. Completing that gave me a headache. I need to take a break. Honestly, I need a nap.

8:33pm
I didn't take a nap, but I did get sucked into watching TV and knitting, having a light dinner and doing dishes. Now I am doing my reading assignment, on which I have to write at least a single page reflection on the information.

10:17pm
Completed the overdue theories assignment and submitted it. Did my reading and one of the two written assignments due Monday. I have an outline for the 2nd assignment, which I will finish tomorrow.

I am exhausted. Still recovering from the flu? Tired from shoveling? From putting so much energy into procrastination? Who knows.

But I am now focused on the work. Having completed the over due work and made some headway into the newer stuff makes me feel better, less anxious and more ready to get back into the routine.

February 03, 2008

Your warm & fuzzies make me cry

Not yet finished completing week 3 homework and I am exhausted.

Work has been very busy the last week and a half -- the grant, the proposal, a presentation, web development meetings.

Home life has been unusually busy, with the kitchen & bathroom remodel complete, I am moving boxes of kitchen stuff back downstairs, washing plaster dust off of it, and trying to put it all away in a logical place.

School is going well. I am enjoying learning and processing new information. Both classes are online so I can work on assignments piecemeal through the week, however I am not yet satisfied with a routine and find myself with more required reading to do on Sunday afternoon than I would like. Perhaps once we've settled into normalcy at home, (and my husband learns to leave me alone when I am 'at school')and work projects level out again I'll be able to successfully identify a schedule to complete my school work and still have an afternoon off away from a computer.


Today, I woke early and showered and brought the kitty downstairs with me for coffee. I finished a novel, Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett (this may explain the tone of my first post in this blog). The book has been sitting on my desk with only 20 pages unread, for the past 2 weeks. I then plugged in my laptop and scanned my email, my blogs, my GoogleGroups and the local newspaper headlines. Still too distracted to login to my online courses, I sprayed the waste basket with Mr Clean and scrubbed all the coffee stains off the sides of it. Kitty is fed and curled up, sleeping, on the living room couch. There are no dishes which need to be washed or put away. With a fresh cup of coffee, I sit to login to my online courses.

My first stop is course email. Some feedback from an instructor regarding recently completed assignments. All good. Next, I check the discussion boards to review posts added since my last login late Thursday night. I read through commentary on classmates required posts; I have already posted my 2 required comments and feel no need to comment further. At the end of the new post list, I come to several responses to my required post related to the Bloom's Taxonomy of Cognitive Learning module assigned last week.

I have always been a creative writer. I find it easy to complete a written assignment and am able to add some flair to an otherwise monotone narrative, if it isn't inappropriate to do so. For this particular assignment, I created a reflective piece in which I detailed the process of completing the assignment -
At work this morning it occurred to me (recall) that I needed to do something for school. I was aware (comprehension) that I needed to print a few pages of module content and bring them home to work on because the task required focus and time. I then printed out the pages and put them in my bag to bring home (application).

During dinner, while slurping my soup, I read the instructions and each of the 21 questions very carefully. It was plain to see that solving the puzzle would require reason and the answer could be found with logical deduction (analysis). I finished my soup.
The feedback from my classmates has been postivie; but is tough to accept without doubt. My assessment of posts has been that they are 'nice' posts and not 'honest' posts. Because most of us don't know each other and many are new to discussion boards, people are posting niceties instead of constructive criticisms. Several have made progress through the MEd progam and know each other from on-campus classes, but for the most part, we are faceless personalities in the discussion board. I am trying to pay attention to who is who but their narratives run on into each other and there is not yet any apparent difference between them, for me.

Several of the women in the group have been posting things such as, "Oh my gosh, my cousin lives in your town!" and "Oh wow, I have a baby, too! Aren't they precious?" instead of "My cousin lives in your town; she was arrested last week for DUI; did you see it in the paper?" or "Yeah, I have a baby, too. It's so hard - I had no idea poopy diapers came in so many shades of brown & green!" Yes, I realize that the latter comments are not appropriate for the classroom discussion, however, neither is the first set if its pointless babbling.

That kind of trivial nonsense bores me to tears. Perhaps they find comfort, and feel safe, in volleying warm fuzzies back and forth. Perhaps because the discussions are evaluated by the instructors, they are guarded and trying to remain professional to the point that they refrain from showing their true selves.

Maybe I'm too harsh. Maybe by the end of the course I'll have made an honest connection with one or two people. Maybe next semester I'll post something warm & fuzzy such as, "Oh wow! Hi! We had ED737 together last term. Wasn't that a wonderful course?"

January 20, 2008

Life, death, work, school

I planned my wedding while finishing my undergraduate degree. I was working full time and going to school two nights per week. We had already consolidated households and I had set up a home office. But with the living situation being new plus all the hubbub of wedding planning I had very little quiet time.

I had moved in with my husband who had the first floor of a two-family house. His mother lived on the second floor and he was her primary care giver. This was a big adjustment in itself - us living together, me getting used to the routine, them getting used to someone new to talk to and share dinner with. Compared to my tiny, quiet, and maintenance free apartment, my new living situation gave me a lot less free time and absolutely no alone time, even when squirreled away in an area I set up as a home office.

During this same period, my mother was diagnosed with cancer and began weekly chemotherapy treatments. I alternated taking her to treatments with my Dad. On my week, Mom and I played cribbage until she became sleepy and then I would do homework until her treatment was over. As the wedding neared, we made final decisions for the reception, and answered the nurses' questions about my dress, the food, the band, who was coming, etc.

Our September wedding was wonderful. My sister in-law, who was up from Florida, stayed at the house while we went to Niagara Falls for a week-long honeymoon. We came home and I resumed my crazy routine of work, school, housework, Mom's chemo treatments for three weeks. Then my new mother in-law became ill, and suddenly, quite expectedly, passed away. She left a tremendous void in my husband's life as he had been her best friend and caregiver for over 20 years, since his father died and because she didn't work or drive a car. My husband was sad, lonely, and lost with much less to do after work and on weekends, and missing someone who he shared a great deal of time with. I did everything I could to spend more time with him and help him adjust, and to grieve.

Somehow I was able to squeeze in a winter session class and thereby wrapped up the last of my required credits and graduated the following May. I walked with high honors despite the drama and sadness and family turmoil that had been happening. Mom sat with my father and her father in special seats I had arranged for them right near the stage.

The cancer inevitably won and Mom passed away 8 months later. Instead of taking her to chemo I was taking Dad out to eat once a week so he wouldn't be too lonely without her. That lasted for about a year and then I began weaning myself away, and for the first time in what felt like forever, I had some time to myself.

My husband and I decided to convert the house into a single-family dwelling, and so, having much more space to spread out and find our own forms of solitude and peaceful respite, we mourned and healed and began to look forward to whatever would come next. We accepted the change and challenges life had presented and together we grew stronger and adapted.

Last year I took a trip to Arizona to visit my eldest sister and there, exploring the painted desert, I decided that it was time to go back to school. I realized I now had the time. I had always had the interest and certainly the financial motivation to seek a promotion at work. I returned home satisfied with my decision and eager to begin exploring my options.

And so here it is. A new chapter in my life. Its a good time to reflect. I can't help but remember those days reading textbooks in the cancer clinic. I can't help but remember sitting at the computer at home, my husband stopping at my desk to say how happy he was I was there. I can't help but remember sitting in class exhausted, emotionally drained, tearful and wondering why I was doing what I was doing. And I remember my graduation day and seeing my mom so proud. I knew exactly why I was I doing what I was doing and it was worth every minute.

January 14, 2008

The Story Begins

Today is my First Official Day of Graduate School. It has been a struggle to get to this day as the Gods of Education have seen to making the Road to Career Advancement difficult and treacherous. But here I am, victorious in my Quest for Enrollment.

The God of Administrative Bullshit was the first to demonstrate his power. With his Roll of Red-Tape in one mighty hand and the Irony of Murphy's Law in the other, he blindsided me as I merrily tripped my way to Sir Registrar with signed documents from my lord, the Earl of Employment. You see, in my village, anyone who wishes to attend school is granted a reduction in tuition. This is a great benefit and one which should be pursued at all costs. Once I was accepted into the program of my choice, I declared to my lord my intentions and he gladly made his signature on documents allowing a tuition reduction. The only condition of this arrangement is that the documents must be hand delivered to Sir Registrar at the school of choice. A journey, for sure, but one I expect to make just once per semester.

Documents in hand, I jumped into my trusty Subaru and made way to the North Shore. A tiring two and three quarter hour journey, but I was happy to wind my way between buildings toward Sir Registrar's Office. There I presented my Class Enrollment Forms, my identification, and the precious signed documents as described above.

Well, here is where the God of Administrative Bullshit stepped in.

'Oh, no!' he bellowed.' You cannot take this class! It is not for you! You are not in the right program for this class!'

'But I was told by my Advisor that these were two classes required for my degree!' I whined pitifully, the weariness of the journey catching up with me.

'Well, then, take it up with your Advisor!' he replied harshly. 'And come back when you have this sorted out.'

Come back? Come back? It was a half days journey to get there and back! And would I have to revisit the Earl of Employment to acquire new documents? And for what other class? Oh, I drove home disheartened.

The following day, I retold my story in a long email to my Advisor. He went, soon after, to meet with the Dean of Education, who declared that I could go ahead and take the course I was denied and I could register over the telephone. When my Advisor related this to me, my heart grew light again and I soon began to smile and look forward to today, this day, this First Official Day of Graduate School.