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Author: Spinch

Getting Things Off Of My Chest, Volume I

Getting Things Off Of My Chest, Volume I

Work

If the only thing that your employees gain after a goal is attained is “well, you’ve taught us that striving for goals here is pointless”, you’re doing something wrong.

Reading

I see my friends on Goodreads reading very serious books.  And I’m just sitting here reading stuff about Saturday Night Live and graphic novels.  I’d say that it’s my brain’s safety valve ’cause of all of the science and math and stuff that I’m doing,  But that would be a lie.

The Motorcycle

I’ve been gunshy about getting back onto my bike after The Accident (did I mention The Accident?  I think I did back in the Year in Review post).  The plan is that if the weather is good on Saturday (and I can get at least one page of the research paper I’m working on knocked out), I’m gonna ride to a local empty parking lot (elementary school maybe?) and try to practice some of the stuff I learned in my Basic RiderCourse.  Get that done, make a few short neighborhood trips, and eventually work up to going to school.

School

Unexpected craziness with registration means I’m going to be trying to cram a full Stats course into five weeks… and taking a night Bio course won Friday nights this fall with an early Saturday night lab.  Kill me.

Self

Learning when NOT to fight change is the hardest change of all.

Post-Lunch Addendum:

Nature

I know it’s Spring… because my car is coated in a healthy layer of tree jizz.  HEY PLANTS! THAT’S A 2002 ELANTRA, NOT A PISTIL. NO NEW LIFE WILL SPRING FROM IT. KEEP OFF PLEASE.

 

Confessions of a 31-Year-Old Sophomore: Spring Semester Update

Confessions of a 31-Year-Old Sophomore: Spring Semester Update

I haven’t really written much about school lately, but there were many happenings last semester.  Where did we leave off?  Professor Harridan berating the class and the school administration doing jack shit about it?  I think so.  In fact, I don’t think I covered a thing about last Fall.  So here goes:

Dr. Eastern European Guy

Attempt number two at getting a professor for PreCal was significantly better than attempt number one.  Instead of a shrieking, terrible ex-lawyer, I instead got a mild-tempered, friendly if sometimes difficult to understand gentleman from Bulgaria as my professor.  Dr. Eastern European Guy (EEG for short) did a pretty good job of teaching and was always willing to help with concepts that I didn’t understand. Dr. EEG did totally fit the mold of the Eastern European Guy, though… gold necklace, open polo shirt with copious amounts of chest hair flowing out… I did not ask him if he was a Wild and Craaaazy Guy, but he could have fit the part.  Hell, he even wore a track suit into class one day. I had OK classmates (although there was one dick asked to “borrow” my calculator during a test and didn’t give it back until I got mad at him) and there was really nothing of major note to report.  I’m still not the biggest math fan but at least I kinda-sorta understand what Trig concepts are all about.  I do wish that I would’ve had more time to get help studying, though.  Final grade in that class was my first B.  The streak had to end at some point, right?

Dr. Crazypants

The real trial of Fall semester was Anatomy and Physiology with Dr. Crazypants.  Dr. Crazypants was fresh out of Grad school.  Dr. Crazypants made me feel old as hell when Rhianna’s “Umbrella” started playing on Pandora and she said “Oh, this song reminds me of undergrad!” Dr. Crazypants had (and presumably still has) Big! Ideas! about pedagogy.  Let’s integrate social media into the class!  There will be things that you’ll need to do on Twitter!  Let’s put a bunch of interactive quizzes in the middle of our studies!  Let’s ignore the $200 lab book that was a requirement and free-form things!  Let’s have “real” assignments and “optional” assignments, but you’ll get a C at best if you ace everything that isn’t “optional”! Don’t get me wrong, I did learn a decent amount in that class… but not as much as I feel I could.  Y’see, although the class was mainly three hours of lecture twice a week, Dr. Crazypants’ tests were BRUTAL.  Her rationale for this was that “since we’re all future health professionals, one mistake could KILL YOUR PATIENT!”  I wanted to say “All I plan on doing is slinging pills, I don’t think that not remembering where minute fossas of the cranium lie is gonna kill someone”.  I didn’t.  The first test that we took nearly drove me to tears.  The average score between both of the sections of A&P that took it was a 46.  Out of 100.  We even saw a graph and realized that it wasn’t a case of a few major outliers jacking up the average, the mean was just that damn low.  Of course, this didn’t make Dr. Crazypants happy.  We got lectured at about how we JUST WEREN’T TRYING HARD ENOUGH.  Uh… I’m sorry, Dr. Crazypants.  It’s not us.  It’s you.  Further tests kept up the brutality (although I did do better on some of them).  I don’t think that I got above a C on anything but the final.  Still, with the massive amount of “optional” busywork piled on me, I somehow pulled an A out of the class.  I’m not going to question how even if I don’t understand it.  I’m gonna take that grade and run like a sonofabitch.  And don’t ask me about the structure of the brain… I STILL don’t get that shit.

And just to get it out of the way now that we’re more than halfway through Spring term, let’s look at…

Dr. Medical Miracle

Dr. MM has had damn near everything that could go wrong with her medically go wrong with her.  You know that childhood was rough when stories begin, “When I got back to Grade Four after that first round of chemo…”  Oh, and yeah.  That Grade Four thing.  Dr. MM lived in deepest darkest Canadia for a while— Winnipeg.  While my spittin’ rage at Winnipeg has faded a little bit (you can change the logo on the sweaters, but they’re still the Thrashers and I hope like hell that they keep on missing the playoffs… go Avs, but if not the Avs go whoever knocks them out of the 8 spot), she’s also from Wisconsin.  Yeah.  What is tempering that is that she also got her Masters at the same university that I’m hoping to get into for Pharmacy school and she has given insight about the city to me.  So, torn.  What I can definitely say is that Dr. MM’s A&P class is a completely different animal than A&P was with Dr. Crazypants.  We have a pretty set structure– Lecture for the first two hours, lab for the last hour (or so).  Dr. MM is pretty quiet but I’m near the front of the room so I’m OK.  My classmates aren’t bad, although I’m one of the younger ones. Lab work is from the lab book, needs to be handwritten in a comp book, and 3/4 of the labs seem to be busywork.  The labs that haven’t been have are either very interesting or involve dissections, which I hate.  So far I’ve had to dissect a sheep’s heart, a pig kidney, and I’ve got a big, horrible dissection waiting at the end of the semester… full pig.  I don’t want to cut up a pig, goddamn it.  I’d probably be more comfortable taking a scalpel to a cadaver.  The pig undoubtedly didn’t have a choice in the dissection decision.  Tests have been so-so– I did worse on Test 1 than I would have liked, but I knocked the first lab exam out of the park.  If I can maintain my progress (or better still, do well on the remaining tests + research paper + lab exam) I’m going to end up with an A or B.  Still, A&P has been hard as hell.

Dr. DD

DD is my calculus professor.  DD is from Haiti (as confirmed last week), is a wiseass, and… really rushes through things.  He’s smart, but the entire class is “Here’s a question from the homework, do this this and this and bango, right answer”.  No “Let’s have you guys do one, nothing else.  I blame the fact that I took the class as a hybrid (allegedly, hybrid classes have an online instruction component, this is just “you’re smart enough to figure out how to do calculus with one three hour period a week”) on that.  I have a passable understanding of limits.  Basic derivatives are fine, but when we get into chain rule and stuff like that I’m still lost.  Despite this, I managed to get results in the high eighties on the first two tests an an A on the third.  I still have two more tests to go PLUS a comprehensive final.  Tests and the final comprise 80% of the class grade, so I’m not out of the woods yet.  Still, if I can get past this I can get past anything.  I’m just… nervous.  And I know that things are going to keep on steaming forward whether or not I can handle ’em or not.

On tap for Summer is the last liberal arts class that I need as a prerequisite (Human Geography, which sounds very anthropology-ish) plus another class to keep the ol’ federal loan humming along.  Fall brings ABSOLUTELY NO FUN WHATSOEVER.  Calculus-based physics (Let’s get that out of the way while my calculus knowledge is still somewhat fresh) and Statistics (the final math prereq).  From there on out, it’s ALL SCIENCE CLASSES, ALL THE TIME.  Bio 1 and 2.  Cell Bio.  O-Chem 1 and 2.  Microbiology.  Yikestown. Then making sure that I do well on the PCAT, and then making sure that I charm the pants off of the people at the pharm school I want to go to, and then I feel completely overwhelmed.  Wait.  I currently feel completely overwhelmed.  And that’s just for the prereqs to get into that pharm school!  If I wanted to stick around and get my degree (which is required for a lot of the other pharmacy schools and “preferred” for my school of choice), it’d be a mere 35-36 more credit hours.  Two Phys Ed Classes.  Another history (yay!).  The second Calc-based Physics course.  Threeve billion more Bio classes in the 3000 and 4000 levels.

If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to find a wall to beat my head against.

The Yeard: February

The Yeard: February

Yeard Feb!

This is the Yeard, as of February. (The 14th, to be exact.) You’ll see a bit of growth and that it looks a little bit hobo-ish already.  I can’t braid it yet and it’s a bit patchy.  Damn my uneven hair growth!

Other things that I’ve noticed:

  • I’m officially at the length where I can thoughtfully stroke my beard and I only look like 80% of a tool.
  • Beard Oil/Balm and conditioners are your friend.  If I don’t keep it tamed, it gets wiry and terrible.  Maybe as I grow it out it’ll soften?
  • My hair looks terrible in that photo, but in my defense I hadn’t brushed it yet.  Just woke up, so the eyes are extra-squinty.
  • Yes, I’m wearing Mardi Gras beads. Our friend Gladstone (who needs to update his damn blog!) sent two sets of beads and a delicious king cake from Randazzo’s for Mardi Gras. I’ve cropped the photo, because at the bottom of those beads is something rather phallic.  Actually, it’s a miniature plaster dong. Hooray for Mardi Gras!  You don’t want to guess what the other one had on the end of ’em.  THANKS, GLADSTONE!
Ten Questions

Ten Questions

Because I’m a whore for blog post writing prompts that require very little thought from me and simultaneously make it look like I’m paying attention to this poor, neglected place for me to throw words at a wall… I present ten questions, posed by my friend Harriet, who was asked these questions by one of her friends, who was undoubtedly asked the same by one of her friends back to the point where some Egyptian was handed a papyrus asking them if their preferred form of social expression was to erect a pyramid or by obelisk.  Ahem.  Here goes.

1. Twitter or Facebook? 

I like Twitter!  I really do!  I just… have very few friends who actually use it, so I don’t take the time to post things there all that often.  Facebook wins this battle by default, even though I consider nuking my account from orbit at least twice a week.

2. Morning person or night owl? 

I’ll take the night every time.  If I had my druthers, I’d stay up until three every night, reading, playing games, watching movies, et cetera.  Add to that the sad truth that if I don’t get a decent amount of sleep I’ve got the temperament of a badger that just got kicked…

3. How do you drink coffee? 

Black about 90% of the time.  I will, if I’m feeling particularly reflux-y, put a bit of milk in, but that’s rare.

4. It’s 9 pm and you’ve got the house to yourself, what do you do? 

9 pm?  I will have been home for about 20 minutes at that point, so probably shed the work clothes (PANTS ARE TYRANNY!) and think about studying/doing homework but not actually do it.  If it’s a Saturday, I’ll probably be screwing around on the Internet or reading or snuggling with the dogs or all three of those things at once.

5. What’s on your nightstand right now? 

From the right:  Two books, a receipt for a Nintendo New 3DS XL,  a MicroUSB cable, a 3DS charging cable, a Georgia State Parks Geocaching Passport stamp brochure, and the latest in my ever-changing lineup of alarm clocks (the numbers are perpetually too bright for the trembling flower that is KLynne, but the latest model is better, albeit not perfect). (Underneath is a random bin of cables, technology, my Nook, more books, and a bunch of stuff that I could probably throw away and never miss).

6. What smell do you love? 

KLynne’s perfume. Cedar, pine, and sandalwood.  The comforting doggy smell of my dogs.  Roasting meats.  Fresh coffee.  Teatree oil.  Old books.

7. What smell do you hate? 

The random sulfur smell of some bodies of water.  Formaldehyde (and other preservatives).  Cigar smoke (yet I’m oddly OK with the smell of unsmoked pipe tobacco).  Gas station cologne.  Downtown Vegas on a hot day.  Downtown Atlanta on a hot day.  Downtown most places on a hot day, really.

8. Other than your current home, where would you most like to live? 

Close to whatever pharmacy school has accepted me, am I right?  Seriously, though… a cabin somewhere quiet, preferably up in the mountains.  (Just not too far out, I still want my creature comforts.)  Mountain air, great views, a bit of a cool breeze coming in through the windows (there would be lots of windows, of course)…

9. If you could eat only one nationality of food for the rest of your life, which one would it be? 

As a fat guy, I knew this would be the most difficult question out of the ten.  Let’s break down the options…

  • German:  I love German food.  I just think I’d get sick of different kinds of wurst, potato pancakes, pretzels, and spatzle after a while.  And by “get sick”, I mean “die of arteriosclerosis.”
  • British: Any cuisine where black pudding is one of your star attractions gets a pass from me. Still, chips and malt vinegar and brown sauce would be missed.
  • Thai: Mmm.  Thai food.  The problem with Thai food is that after going through the safe options (Pad Thai, Tom Kha soup, various curries) you start getting into stuff that has whole prawns with their heads till on and mysterious alternative meats. I’ll pass.
  • Korean: See Thai but replace “Pad Thai” with “Beef Bulgogi” and “Tom Kha soup” with “Bibimbap”.
  • Indian: I still haven’t explored enough Indian food for me to pick this one, plus I’m still not sure on the whole chutney thing.
  • Japanese: Sush!  Mmm, sushi.  And yakisoba, and teriyaki stuff, and… strong contender. Dessert is a weak point, though.  Have you ever had sweet red bean paste?  I’m not a fan.  We don’t have a win yet.
  • Chinese: I’m gonna rule out really really authentic Chinese here and narrow it down to Americanized Chinese… I love it, I can eat it whenever, but the whole “I’m hungry a few hours later” thing kills it for me.
  • Greek/Mediterranean: I’m wrapping the two up, because shwarma and gyros are close enough in my book but deliciously distinct.  We have good desserts. We have variety in vegetables.  It just doesn’t always agree with my stomach.
  • Mexican: Tres Leches cake! Horchata! Burritos the size of my head! Nachos! Pretty much anything on a corn tortilla!  Delicious, but I’m gonna have to give Mexican food bronze.
  • Italian: I love pasta.  I love chicken marsala.  I love sauces red, white, and in between.  I love calamari, garlic everything, Parmesan cheese, Good vegetables. I can MAKE lots of these things.  We have success on the dessert front, too… Tiramisu.  And cappucino! You’d think that I’d pick this, and you’d probably be right… but Italian loses by a hair to…
  • AMERICAN, SPECIFICALLY SOUTHERN FOOD.
    We have our winner.  And yes, I’m counting cajun food here because Louisiana is in the South.  Cornbread and barbecue and meatloaf and grits and collard greens and po’boys and mashed potatoes and YUMMY.  It’s comfort food for a reason, and there are enough disparate influences that the gourmand in me wouldn’t get bored.
    No One Likes Us Merica

10. When you were six years old, what did you want to be when you grew up? 

I was still in my train engineer phase then.  I wanted nothing more than to be workin’ on the railroad, all the live-long day. All of my houses growing up were in relatively close proximity to train tracks (starting with the first that I remember which featured tracks directly across the street from the house) and I LOOOOOOVED trains.  My great uncle, who was a manager in some capacity for Union Pacific, helped feed this by giving me a UP calendar every year and bits of UP memorabilia (a belt buckle, a mug promoting the new GE Dash-8 series of locomotives, an actual honest-to-goodness conductor’s lantern that I still have in my office) and taking me to the train yard in Salt Lake where I was able to see the inside of a caboose and drink a thing of OJ from a fridge inside… I’m not sure WHY this was the most memorable part of the trip, but it was.  Caboose OJ.  This was my de facto future job up until fifth grade or so where I really didn’t have a future plan.  Junior high convinced me that I should be a lawyer, the realization in high school that I wasn’t devoted enough to my studies dashed that plan, and I kept on floating between different possibilities while working tech support jobs until I started down my current path.  I still love trains, though… maybe I need to amend the “where do I want to live?” with the caveat that it be within a few miles of a railroad line?

IMG_2181

 

The Yeard: January

The Yeard: January

I’m not gonna bore the literally ones of you who still read this crap with another series that I’m never gonna actually finish (See:  Thirty Days of Blog).  I am, however, gonna bore you with PICTURES OF MYSELF!

Y’see, I have resolved to do something this year. Not a New Year’s resolution, or anything of that nature.  Something manly.  Something that is 100% NOT APPROVED BY MY MOTHER.  (Sorry, Mom, if you ever read this.)  I’m… growing a Yeard.

“What the balls is this “Yeard” thing?” you might ask, Hypothetical Reader.  I’ll tell you.  It is simply a resolution.  A resolution to GROW MY ALREADY GLORIOUSLY SHAGGY BEARD FOR A FULL CALENDAR YEAR, WITHOUT REDUCING ITS LENGTH.

Normally, people doing the Yeard start from scratch but refuse to touch it with any type of razor or scissors.  I’m not gonna do that, but I am gonna do it with these self-imposed rules:

  • The Yeard shall not have its length reduced.  Ever.
  • It IS permissible for scissors to be taken to the Yeard, but only for the purpose of keeping things even.
    • This is because there’s a patch on the left-hand side of the beard that grows faster than the hair on most of my body, so it looks weird.
  • The Yeard will periodically have beard oil, balm, or conditioner applied to it.
  • Once the Yeard is long enough for me to braid without it look like I’m Captain Lou Albano, I’m gonna braid it.
    • This is contingent on me gaining any vertical length to the damn thing instead of it just poofing out.

So without further ado, allow me to post a baseline photo from my Minnesota trip in January (should I write about that?  I might write about that), taken in the far reaches of Alaska.  Which is actually what they call the very top level of the parking garage at the Mall of America.

10882141_10152646900114895_355599581689139635_n

 

Come, friends.  A glorious Yeard awaits.  (Just wait ’til I start bitching about it once it gets hot.)

Year in Review: 2014

Year in Review: 2014

2014 is a year that happened.  Good riddance to it.  At least I’m keeping the old Year in Review tradition alive, even if no one reads this dusty ol’ thing anymore.

1. What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before?

Rode a motorcycle.  Ice fished.  Got into a car accident so severe it totaled the vehicle. Got into a motorcycle accident.  Became a college sophomore.  Had non-dental surgery.  Went to Gen Con.  Got my passport. Got a second dog.  Had a sibling move in with me.

2. Did you keep New Year’s Resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Shit, I don’t remember making any.  I’m not making any more per se, but I do have goals other than “survive the next few semesters.”

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Yes, a few friends did.  Congrats to them.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Luckily, no– although I was hit pretty hard by Robin Williams’ passing.

5. What countries did you visit?

None other than the US, but I did get my passport!

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?

Simplicity, serenity, and peace.  Although it’s gonna be a tall order.

7. What date from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

Sunday, August 3rd, 2014- the day we were on our way home from the Smokies, pulled off on a scenic overlook at Tallulah Gorge, and had a little animal run out in front of us– the animal now known as Dog #2, Bumi.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Not dying.

9. What was your biggest failure?

There’s a new one (although leaving Veridian Dynamics would be a close second)… not taking better care of myself.  I don’t exercise.  I eat like shit.  I don’t take my medication even though I really need to. I don’t know what my problem is.  I don’t know if it’s depression, or lack of motivation, or what, but I keep on feeling like I’m ignoring my health and I can’t understand why.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Hidradenitis surgery.  I had a bad cold.  Sprained ankle and thumbs from the vehicle accidents.  Road rash and a scar from the bike one.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

I love my Harley, and my Harley loves me.  Even if I don’t ride often enough.

HD Nightster 081511

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

KLynne, as usual, deserves to be venerated as a saint for putting up with my shit.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Big Business.  The government.  Certain people who I can’t name in a public forum although they are improving.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Bills ‘n food, food ‘n bills.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

My motorcycle.  Vacations.  Gen Con.  All of the shit we got at Gen Con.  Dragon*Con (which was a letdown this year, so D*C is OUT.  Also, I insist on using the asterisk.)

16. What song will always remind you of 2014?

I’m a terrible consumer of music.  I don’t know?

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

  • Happier or sadder?  If you asked me a few days ago, happier.  Today, probably even if not a bit lower, but I’m on a downswing today.
  • Thinner or fatter?  Fatter by a bit.
  • Richer or poorer?  Poorer, hopefully that changes soon.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Relaxing in a stress-free environment.  Another personal thing not fit for a public forum.  Riding the motorcycle.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Anger at pointless shit I should have let go.  Reacting to arguments in childish ways. Itching..

20. How (DID WE) spend Christmas?

KLynne and I did Christmas at home

21. Did you fall in love in 2014?

Still in love. Couldn’t be happier.

22. How many one-night stands?

I shall replace this question with this one:

22.  What about the advanced research that Dr. Krieger has done?

23. What was your favorite TV program?

I love myself some Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  Lots of people shit on it.  They are wrong.

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

No.  I can’t think of anyone that I specifically hate.

25. What was the best book you read?

I didn’t read as much as I could.  Probably the Locke and Key series, although I haven’t finished ’em yet.

26. What was your greatest musical (re)discovery?

Again, I sucked at music consumption.

27. What did you want and get?

A million Christmas things.  The arm thing fixed.  The Harley.

28. What did you want and not get?

I can’t think of anything other than an A in Pre-Calculus that I wanted and didn’t get.

29. What was your favorite film of this year?

Guardians of the Galaxy!

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

Turned 31.  We didn’t do anything super-significant.  Just another day, really.  I think.  I don’t remember, to be honest…

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Mo’ money.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014?

Jeans ‘n fishing shirts and/or camp shirts.  Beard- bushier than ever.  I might try a Yeard in 2015…

33. What kept you sane?

Copious amounts of food.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

I don’t even remember who is on my list of five anymore.  I know that Christina Hendricks and Nigella Lawson were on there, because I clearly have A Type, but who else was on there?  Shit.

35. What political issue stirred you the most?

The awful-but-expected midterms and Net Neutrality.

36. Who did you miss?

The friends in Utah.

37. Who was the best new person you met?

Hmm.  MJ?  Probably MJ.

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014.

Don’t take turns too quickly on a motorcycle.

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

How many times
Do we chaff against the repetition
Straining against a fate
Measured out in coffee breaks

How many times
Do we swallow our ambition
Long to give up the same old way
Find another road to take

Keep holding on so long
‘Cause there’s a chance
that we might not be so wrong
We could be down and gone
But we hold on

How many times
Do we wonder if it’s even worth it
There’s got to be some other way
To get me through the day

But we hold on

—Rush, We Hold On
2004 ♦ 2007 ♦ 2008 ♦ 2009 ♦ 20112012 ♦ 2013

The Last Straw

The Last Straw

The relationship that I have with religion is a complex one.  (You can read more about it in this post from 2010 that was part of a never-finished exercise to get me to post more).  If you don’t feel like reading a long, incredibly difficult to write post, here’s the Reader’s Digest version.

To wit, I don’t identify with any religious group and the best way to sum up my beliefs is to say that I am, at least in terms of deities, agnostic bordering on being an out-and-out atheist but I still hope that there’s some kind of life-after-death and that as long as you’re not being a dick about it I’m all for you believing whatever you want, so long as it makes you happy or gives your life purpose.  I, of my own accord, was baptized LDS at eleven, started finding inconsistencies in what I was taught and how people were acting at 14, and quit actively attending church at 17 thanks to several major events, culminating in a bishop trying to publicly shame me because I couldn’t/wouldn’t try to convince the rest of my family to join me at church.

I used to have no problem identifying as a former Mormon.  I didn’t believe what the Church taught, but knew that it helped a bunch of people and does a lot of charity work, so it can’t be THAT bad, can it?  I had LDS friends, they knew I wasn’t active and didn’t try to get me back, and we all shared that inexplicable bond of growing up as a Church member.  Yeah, hypocrisy runs rampant, but where DOESN’T it?  I wasn’t a fan of some of the exclusionary practices that the Church was involved in, but I turned a blind eye.  I thought that the good outweighed the bad.

Then 2008 rolled around and so did Prop 8 in California (for those of you who don’t remember, Prop 8 circumvented an earlier court ruling and amended California’s constitution to state that marriage = one man and one woman).  Word came out that the LDS Church spent a LOT of money trying to see Prop 8 enacted.  Like a whole lot.  And I wasn’t OK with that.  I’m fine with religion trying to restrict people from doing stuff like, you know, murder.  Or screwin’ around on your S/O, or stealing from your neighbor.  Not from trying to restrict people from being equal.  Especially not when so many of my lessons from said church talked about how we’re all Children of God and that we’re all loved by Jesus, no matter what.  You can’t have it both ways.  (And yes, I know that plenty of other churches do the same thing… but I don’t have a close personal attachment to them.).  Further opposition to marriage rights stoked the fires of discontent.  When people found out that I grew up in the 801, I stopped answering the inevitable “are you a Mormon?” question with “Used to be, not anymore” and started a flat “no”.  The good/harm balance was shifting.

Which leads to today.  A group of LDS women have, within the past year or two, have committed the sin of… wanting to be on an equal footing with LDS men… specifically, wishing to gain the priesthood.  The simple act of quietly and non-violently attempting to gain standby access to a men’s-only conference program (for those of you who aren’t LDS, the Church has biannual conferences featuring speeches from the presiding members of the Church, known as the General Authorities… the priesthood session is limited to men only).  The leader of the main group for this movement (called Ordain Women) is a human rights lawyer named Kate Kelly. The members of this movement have simply stated their wishes, posted their beliefs to a website, met as a group, and… that’s it.  No loud protests.  No violence.  A simple statement of beliefs with a logical argument behind them.

The Church brass wouldn’t have it, and put out several dismissive press releases and statements explaining on one hand that women and men are equal because women get to be mothers, and men get to be priests.  Except that men ALSO get to be fathers, and that if you have any questions about it, feel free to discuss it with… a priesthood holder.  (I admit, I’m paraphrasing here.  And yes, in the interest of full disclosure, there is an entire women’s organization within the Church, however, they don’t really hold much authority).  Within the past few weeks, Ms. Kelly’s local church leadership told her that there would be a disciplinary hearing.  Basically, her case would be heard before Church Court.  (Oh, yes. The LDS have church courts.)  Her crime was apostasy, spreading dissension, and contradicting the status quo as laid down by God, Joseph Smith, and the subsequent church leadership.  Her punishment, should it go that far, is excommunication from the church.

Excommunication is the worst possible thing for a devout Mormon.  You are no longer counted as a member.  You can’t speak in church, partake of the Sacrament, go to the Temple, perform Baptisms for the Dead.  All church ordinances are null and void.  You are persona non grata.  Your ticket to the Afterlife no longer includes a visa to the highest kingdom of glory.

Needless to say, this did not sit well with her supporters (and many other people within and without the Church).  Petitions were signed, and statements were made saying that the only sin committed here was stating that people should be treated equally.  A sizable number of people made their voices heard, and the voices pleaded that she not be excommunicated.

KLynne shot me an IM with text copied straight from the newswire around 4:00 today.

PROMINENT MORMON ACTIVIST KATE KELLY HAS BEEN EXCOMMUNICATED BY THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS

And that did it for me.  That is (like the title of this post states) the last straw for me.  I’ve been considering this for a while knowing the pain that the Church has caused to my friends, the undue influence they have making policy back home, but this tipped the scales.

I have decided that I am going to tender my formal resignation from the church.  I want all record of my name to be completely stripped from the membership rolls.  I want no contact from missionaries, ward members, local leadership, or anyone else about the Church.  I will consider any further attempts at communication after I have verified that my letter of resignation has been received to be attempts to provoke me, and will react negatively to those attempts.

This is not a decision that I have made lightly.  The LDS church is no Scientology, but I won’t be shocked if, magically, my still-LDS extended family members will hear about this… and, in turn, they’ll try to talk to Mom and Dad about it (not like Mom or Dad will care). The biggest thing is that I know that seeing me make this decision would have broken Grandma and Grandpa H.’s hearts.  Even thinking about this is making my eyes well up and flooding my head with memories… but I can’t, in good conscience, have anything to do with the church anymore.  The only reason why I’m keeping my Bible and Book of Mormon is because those are two of the three gifts that I still have from those grandparents.

I’m done.

Hidradenitis Is Not Your Friend

Hidradenitis Is Not Your Friend

Warning: I’m probably sharing too much on this post.  If you think that infection is gross, then you’re a normal human being and can stop reading right here.  Hell, I’m not even sure why I’m writing this post.  I’ll post about other stuff soon. If you don’t mind a few mentions of disgustingness, keep on going.

I’m nearing three weeks out from my surgery.  I didn’t die.  Here’s the details.

I have myself a nice little case of hidradenitis suppurativa, which I forget if I’ve talked about in the past or not.  I probably have.  To wit, it’s an orphan disease that involves a susceptibility to infection under your arms, in the crotchal area, and the underboob area for ladies and really fat dudes.  Lucky me, it’s far more common in ladies than in guys.  I have again hit the genetic jackpot.  Mine (fingers crossed) only was in a few spots under my left armpit. It’s painful, embarassing, and a big pain in the ass.  Studies say it might be linked to other autoimmune diseases, like… you guessed it, psoriasis.

Also, I can never properly pronounce the name, so I call it Hidradenitis Superlatina. I’m the only person who finds the slightest iota of humor in this.

Dealing with it basically consisted of using Hibiclens (a common pre-surgical prep cleaning agent… not really soap) in problem areas and potential problem areas, the suggestion of bleach baths every so often (I don’t remember the ratio, I think I blogged it back in the day), and hoping that the side effects of my psoriasis meds helped.

They didn’t.  The spot (there was only one at first) would come back, cause me pain, explode at the least opportune times, leave me with an abcess that would eventually fill in and… get infected again. Lather, rinse, repeat.  I became adept at washing the area, slapping a gauze pad on and taping it to my shoulder area to form a MacGyver bandage, and carrying on.  My dermatologist honestly didn’t seem overly concerned with it, other than occasional checks and wanting to know if it was getting better or not.  Problem is, it was getting worse.  The time between recurrence was less and less… and then Spot 2 formed.  Lower on the armpit.  Spot 2 didn’t burst at first… it was just painful, and I thought maybe it’d go away.  It actually receded a few times.  Then it didn’t.  It turned a color showing it was under pressure.  I treated it gingerly, hoping I could get in to see the Derm. Maybe they could take care of the particulars  The spot didn’t cooperate.  Instead, it decided to kersplode at work… and it didn’t want to stop bleeding. I asked my boss if she could get a promotional T-shirt or something from HR or Sales, but she had a towel she was willing to sacrifice for the cause.  (The first aid kit, of course, didn’t have any gauze I could use.  But they did have like seven foil shock blankets.)

As this was happening, I was hightailing it to my doctor’s office (the Derm was closed, so I went to my GP).  The GP took a look at it, agreed with the diagnosis of hidradenitis, and told me that he used to be a surgeon.  He and his surgical partner had done many surgeries to eliminate the problem. He gave me a referral to his old partner and I got an appointment with him.  The Surgeon and I talked about my Scandinavian ancestry as he looked at the spots.  I was told that I was lucky because there are two forms that he’s seen… one where the spots pop up randomly, one where they tend to stay localized.  Mine were the latter, and he told me that he felt 100% confident that removing the cyst area and part of the surrounding area would solve the problem.  I agreed, and surgery was set for next week. I was also surprised to find that the surgery is something that would require general anesthesia.

Let me sidebar for a moment… I tend to have a LOT of dreams where shitty things happen to me. Getting murdered?  Old hat.  Chased by animals and then eaten?  Been there.  Horrible things happening to those I love due to actions (or lack thereof) that I did?  Yarp.  I’m a helluvalot more likely to remember nightmares.  About a month ago, I had one EXTREMELY vivid nightmare… I was going to be operated on for some reason or another.  I went under anesthesia… and stayed under.  I don’t know if I died or if (worse than that) I was aware but paralyzed.  Yeesh.

I had pre-admission stuff at the hospital the Monday before.  It was your basic “are you who you say you are?” kind of questions, but I was asked if I had an advance directive.  I know that it’s mandated, but that’s NOT the kind of thing you want to hear if you’re irrationally freaked out about anesthesia.  The rest of the pre-admission stuff was standard… height, weight, fill a page or so of medications, supplements, and related that you’re taking, list your maladies, and give a vial or so of blood.

S-Day came.  I got up early and my brother drove my ass to the hospital at too-damn-early in the morning.  I was already thirsty and hungry from the mandated no food after midnight and trepidatious as a Commie at a HUAC hearing. They let me in at 6:30ish, gave me a hospital gown, sat me down in a comfy chair, gave me a thin-yet-warm blanket, and asked me about a thousand questions, verifying that I was me, that I was there for them to take chunks out of my armpit, that I have no religious preferences, basically the same kind of stuff asked during pre-admission.  They plonked an IV into my arm (never had one before that I was aware of, feels weird, man) and I asked for a cold washcloth, ’cause I was sweating like a pig and felt uncomfortably warm.  The surgeon came in, said “hi” and put a star on my shoulder of the arm that was getting operated on, Then the anesthesiologist came in, assuaged my fears (kinda), and left.  Another five minutes of getting hydration via IV, it was go time.  I thought that I’d have to hoist my fat ass onto a gurney, but (to my great surprise), the nurse stepped on a hidden lever and my seat reclined to a flat surface… yup.  SECRET GURNEY.

I met the nurses who would be helping with the surgery, had an O2 mask put on, and was led to not a stainless-steel operating table, but a cushioned table with flexible arms and legs.  I gingerly rested my bulk on the table, and moved my arm into a position that was agreeable to the surgical staff.  I had to give my full name (and one of the nurses said “that sounds like the name of a high-priced lawyer!”), took a hit of the oxygen, was told that the thing that they were about to slap onto my side was a grounding pad ’cause there was about to be some electrocautery up in this joint, and… I didn’t even get a countdown to 10.  I was out.

I woke up at some indeterminate point later in the Recovery… area, chilling out on another one of those recline-a-gurneys.  I was still masked and kept fading in and out of consciousness.  Eventually, I could discern a conversation and (me being me) attempted to add my $0.02.  I had the mask removed a few minutes later, asked for a blanket ’cause I was chilly, and then was wheeled into Recovery II.  I was provided with a sumptuous bounty of a package of Lance Captain’s Wafers (the Peanut Butter Cracker kind, for those keeping score) and a Sprite.  I wolfed the crackers down and drank the Lymon-flavored beverage (sidebar: do they still even mention Lymon in the advertising?), and was provided with more.  I guess ’cause I’m a big boy or some scheisse like that.  My little brother came in later while I sat, still under the effects of narcotics and relaxing.  I had a big-ass series of bandages on my pit and a removable icepack strapped to it.  We talked, he recounted the visit from the surgeon once I was done having bits hacked out of me (“he was weird, but said that it went OK”) and I was given the go-ahead to be driven home, but not before I made a trip to the bathroom.  Once that business was attended to, I had to take the policy-mandated trip out the doors in a wheelchair, climbed into my brother’s Jeep, and… headed straight to the pharmacy to pick up some narcotics.  As those of you who are reading this who have actually gone through surgery know, the rest of the day was spent resting, stumbling down the stairs to change out my icepack, and trying not to think of too much.

KLynne and I visited the surgeon’s office the next morning for instruction on wound care.  The doc took the fancy hospital tape off of the wounds, and removed the gauze packing them.  Since this is a situation that involved infection and the excised areas were of a pretty decent size,  I had to have the wounds packed twice daily.  Each one was about the diameter of a quarter (a little bigger on one, about that size on the other) and somewhere between 3/4 and one inch deep.  Weird as hell.  My long-suffering wife was told that it would be her job to throw on some surgical gloves, take out the old surgical sponge (we were to use the non-sterile open-weave gauze ones), wet part of a new sponge, and snake the moistened gauze into the holes in me.  I got a few more sponges thrown on top of that for cushioning, and then the whole shebang was taped to my shoulder and side.  I had that day and the next off of work, but I quickly found out that that arm was damn near useless for anything major.  Camping, disc golf, or bowling were out.  KLynne spontaneously (because the universe has a sick sense of humor) wanted to do activities that necessitated two healthy arms.  It was not great.

The next few days were more resting, more showering (I had to irrigate the wounds with the shower and use Hibiclens on the surrounding area, which hurt like a sonofabitch), more taking pain meds (I tapered off within a few days to nothing) and more wishing I wasn’t useless.  Plus the packed wounds felt really odd.  Eventually, though, they felt… comfortable?  I know it’s weird, but it felt better with the packing in than with it out… unless the sponges dried up.  Then it decidedly did NOT.

A week and a half ago I went to my first follow-up visit.  The surgeon said that my wounds were lookin’ good and that a wet gauze was not necessary.  Dry was fine.  The holes had filled up significantly in that time.  The dry was rough at first but eventually felt pretty good.  Within this last week, I’ve since switched to extra-wide bandages.  The top hole is mostly filled in and the skin is starting to grow over the top of it, the bottom one not as much.  They itch like any healing wound will, but sooner rather than later they’ll be done… and I can finally, FINALLY wear deodorant on BOTH of my armpits again.  You don’t miss it until it’s gone.  One arm fine, the other arm… I keep down.  Bleah.

In Which Our Author Girds Himself For Summer Semester, Surgery, and Such

In Which Our Author Girds Himself For Summer Semester, Surgery, and Such

For me, at least, Spring Semester is over.  (Long live Spring Semester?)

It has been an eventful one, to say the least.  I survived the non-response to the Harridan fallout.  I managed to get through Chem 1212, which was not the easiest of classes to get through.  My Chem professor, Dr. P, was fantastic, though.  Always willing to talk if we had issues with the work.  Willing to throw us a few bones if we needed help on material.  Hell, I finished the class with an 89% after my final (which I TANKED on, for some reason… KLynne blames a lack of study, and while I agree I could’ve studied more, I blame material that wasn’t covered in as much depth on prior exams/homework/quizzes) and I have a last-second opportunity to possibly bump that up.

I get a few glorious weeks off from school.  (Sadly, I still have work, but you can’t win ’em all.)  I intend to use those to play video games with my bro, get some reading done, and above all, rest… ’cause Summer Semester is in the background, snorting and pawing the ground, ready to charge me.  Despite a muttered “I’m never gonna do THAT again” after last summer, I am again taking two separate Summer Term session classes… each one an 8:00-10:30, Monday through Thursday death march.  History nearly killed me last time with the sheer volume of work necessary for it.  My English papers nearly killed me because I married an English/Creative Writing degree-holder that is employed as a copy editor, and she takes no prisoners.  (I LOVE YOU, SWEETHEART!)

My fist challenger is a prerequisite for the Pharm program that I’m hoping to get into at some point in the future… Public Speaking.  I’ve always felt that speaking in front of others is a strength of mine— my Events of Choice in Debate were Impromptu and Extemporaneous Speaking, after all— but it has been a while since I’ve talked to a decent-sized group, and I’ve got no idea what the class will entail.  With the class so condensed, I’m wondering if our big projects will be two or three speeches… or maybe one each Thursday.  I know not.

If I can survive that, the next combatant is going to be a little more rough… US Government, which is a degree prereq (it has a strong Constitutional component).  Stupid Me never submitted his AP test scores in that class, and they’ve long since been lost in the sands of time.  Not that my test score was that great, mind you.  I do wonder if it would’ve mattered, because I believe that there’s a Georgia Government bit of it somewhere.  Here goes nothing, right?

On top of all of this, it’s looking like one of my many and varied medical bullshit things may require surgery.  I’ll spare you the (literally) bloody details, but I’m going in to get a surgical consult tomorrow morning, and I’m not gonna lie… I’m pretty nervous.  The closest things that I’ve had to surgery were having my wisdom teeth removed and having a liver biopsy, which was scary in and of itself.  This will be in an awkward place (not where you’re thinking, and not in the back of a Volkswagen, either). I will, I’m sure, end up writing about that if a surgery happens.  I’m always looking for ideas on things to write about that require literally no thought new things to muse upon here, even if I never get around to musing upon 90% of ’em.

It isn’t all stress, though.  I might be going camping in a few weeks (YAY!), even if I haven’t really given much thought as to where we’ll be going (and if we’ll take the dog or not).  I’ve been itching to get out there again, and hopefully somewhere that will involve hiking our stuff in.  (Famous last words, right?) I’ll have to prep some cotton balls with Vaseline as a firestarter and/or get some fatwood, get my fancy-shmancy camp cookware ready, and pre-load the GPS with topo maps and geocaches.  It will, hopefully, be Good Times.

So what are you planning?  (Guys?)

 

If I had $1,000,000 (Note: No Green Dresses Are Mentioned In This Post, Save Right Now)

If I had $1,000,000 (Note: No Green Dresses Are Mentioned In This Post, Save Right Now)

A friend of mine posited a very intriguing question:  What would you do/buy with the following amounts of money:

  • $100
  • $1,000
  • $10,000
  • $100,000
  • $1,000,000
Obligatory.

Here’s the catch:  No standard answers like “invest it to make more money” or “pay off debt” or anything like that.  Responsible answers are perfectly fine, but nothing that doesn’t involve an immediate payoff of some type.  Saving for a house is out.  BUYING a house outright is in.  Investing in stock is a no-no. Opening your own small business is go.  Don’t blame me, these are the rules.  I didn’t make ’em.  I agree with ’em, though.

This one could go one of two ways.  The selfish part of me immediately shouted “VIDEO GAMES!”  I know, I am a walking, talking stereotype… but Mario Kart 8 and the latest Super Smash Brothers are coming out.  I could get both for that.  Maybe even have enough cash left over to buy a Diet Coke afterwards, too.  The part of me that stupidly didn’t buy KLynne a card for our anniversary says that I should buy her something shiny.  This same part, for the record, says the same thing for every one of these values, just increasing magnitudes of shininess.  But that’s a story for… well, not this blog.  You all know that I’m a screwup and there isn’t a story there.

Besides, I know that at least for Mario Kart 8, KLynne probably wants it more than I do.

My friend who posted this said that a new mattress would be peachy-keen, and I’m inclined to agree.  The mattress that we have in our bedroom is old, getting worn out, and tilts directly toward the floor on my side.  This is because of a few reasons, the biggest (ha!) being that I’m a wide-ass fatty who is nonetheless pushed to the very edge of the mattress by a 20-some-odd pound dog.  What can I say… whatever the dog wants, the dog gets.  Unfortunately, the dog wants to sleep damn near horizontally between me and KLynne fairly often.  It’s bad enough that I will often sleep with my hand clinched to the headboard to steady myself.  We have a newer mattress (I FINALLY upgraded from my old twin mattress shortly after I started dating KLynne, go ahead, snicker at that) but I USUALLY like my mattresses firm (like cement) and… she doesn’t.  The newer one lives in the guest room where my bro is staying.

So, this one might’ve been different a little while ago.  I could have picked a thousand different things.

Then my friend Alex took me to a Harley-Davidson Boot Camp.  The Boot Camp, for those of you (like me) who didn’t know what it would be, is basically where you are invited to an HD dealership, shown the wares without being pressured, and fed hot wings and shitty beer.  The big thing, though, is that it was tailored toward non-riders and featured a simulator- an actual bike in a stand that was rigged not to give power to the wheels, but still function in all other ways.  I was shown the proper way to mount the bike, give it power, and shift.  Shockingly, non-manual-driving me was able to shift the gears without stalling the thing out once.  I’m not gonna lie, it felt good.  It looked fun.  Aaaand… I want to learn how to ride.  I think I’d really like it.  Of course, a bike is necessary.  I don’t even (necessarily) want a Harley, but something that looks like a classic road bike and won’t set me back financially too badly… maybe $8000 in bike and the rest in buying the appropriate training and gear.

This is the most responsible thing on the list.  With one hundred thousand dollars, I would quit work for a year or two.  (Wait, the responsible thing happens soon.  Don’t worry.) I’d then proceed to go to school full-time.  Pay my tuition up front, hit the books, and get that oh-so-elusive degree.  I’d go from the one-or-two classes per term (hoping to ramp that up to three, we’ll see) to a full credit hour load.  My time would be spent deep in study.  With that much cash, too, KLynne could pay for her classes, too.

Ironically, a windfall like that would, I believe, actually force us to be more responsible with our money.  Having a fixed income would necessitate simplification of our lives. We’d be made to save money by consuming the media that we already have access to, set strict budgets to make sure that things don’t run out, and (since I’d have a little more free time) let us get things organized.  With both of us clutching shiny new degrees after the few years of work, we’d be in prime position for me to go to Pharm school and have KLynne act as primary breadwinner for a while.

Imagine a million of these guys.

This is the big one.  With a million dollars?  I’d want the vacation to end all vacations.  We’d get a nice RV.  We’d drive across the US (and maybe even Canada), doing all of the tourist-trappy things that we’ve always wanted to do.  We’d visit the National Parks.  All of ’em.  We’d go geocaching across the US.  We’d do it all.  And then?  We’d go overseas.  Visit where KLynne lived during the early 90s in Germany, then branch out to the rest of Europe from there.  We’d take all the time that we could, see everything possible that we wanted to, take a schload of photos, and have a million stories to tell for the rest of my life.

That, my friends, would be the best.

 

I’m A Teepee, I’m A Wigwam

I’m A Teepee, I’m A Wigwam

After the Harridan fallout (which hasn’t stopped… I now need to do Loan Exit Counseling), Spring Break happened.  It was a nice rest.

Then Fate decided that I’m not stressed enough.  For Chemistry, we had a series of experiments and a report.  Pretty standard, except for the fact that this is our BIG PROJECT (it has to deal with spectrophotometric analysis of food dyes) worth a good chunk of my grade… like 15%.  High stress.  Took the better part of a week after work meeting with my lab partner at Starbucks, analyzing data, throwing it into Excel, writing, re-writing, cursing my life, and writing again.  We turned it in (thank Glob that it was ONLY the report and not a presentation, like it was in Chem 1211) and we managed to get 100%.  Exhale.  Feel good.  And then BWAHAHAHA, YOU HAVE A TEST THE NEXT TIME YOU GO TO CLASS! ON STUFF YOU HAD ISSUES WITH!  SUCK IT!

This week has been a week of study, and redoing homework,and procrastinating when I should be doing MORE study, and neglecting the dishes.  Oh, man.  Don’t look at our kitchen.  It looks like a homeless camp.  (Dirty Mike and The Guys say “Hi”).  It’s Friday, class is tomorrow, and I THINK I have the stuff for Chapter 13 memorized.  Too bad it’s on 13-15.   (In all honesty, I think I’m good on the second half of 14 and all of 15, but time will tell).  Post test?  I plan on relaxing.  Playing some Stick of Truth.  And… making the kitchen look less hobotacular.  It’ll be a great minor break, because then…

MY LITTLE BROTHER IS MOVING IN (for a little while at first but maybe like six to nine months)! Y’see, the Parental Units are, for reasons too lengthy to get into here, temporarily relocating from Vegas to Utah.  As my little brother doesn’t want to live in Utah, he’s coming here to the Peach State to try to find gainful employment.  He wants a Tech Support job. Hopefully, he gets one.  We’ll help him as much as we can, but he needs to put in the effort.  I’m pretty sure he will.  If he doesn’t find anything in a month, he’s gonna go back to Vegas.  If he does… new roommate!  Permanent third player for our board games! WHUT WHUT.  If not…  it’ll be nice to have him visit for a while.

Confessions of a 30-Year-Old Sophomore: Not With A Bang, But A Whimper

Confessions of a 30-Year-Old Sophomore: Not With A Bang, But A Whimper

I realized that I never shared the results of the Harridan situation. I ended up speaking with the Provost’s office, who told me that in all issues like this, she defers to the Dean. So basically, I was told to pound sand. I dropped the class. The Man 1, me nil.

The good is that Financial Aid hasn’t noticed that the class is missing, and I don’t owe anything… I still keep a weather eye on my account to ensure that I haven’t been stealth-dropped from my classes, a la my experiences at the former UVSC.

Chemistry keeps me busy. I managed 100% on my first (of three) tests, so go me… but I’ve run into a place where I have serious issues… chemical kinematics. I have issues figuring out the order of reactions. I have issues determining the value of k. I suck at finding out what units k is measured in. I know that it will eventually crystallize in my brainmeats, but that day has not yet happened.

Hopefully, my day off tomorrow will help me devote more time to study that and WON’T be spent napping while KLynne is in class.

Operation Quit Spending So Damn Much Money

Operation Quit Spending So Damn Much Money

It’s Tax Season again.  You can tell because the poor bastards dressed up as Uncle Sam or the Statue of Liberty (or, in once case, Captain America) are out on the street corners, frantically waving signs urging you to get your taxes done with whatever company they’re shilling for.

As soon as I get my copy of TurboTax (yes, I’m a brand partisan) and The Wife’s W2s, I’ll get our crap filed, and hopefully reap a sweet, sweet refund.  We’ve already figured out the main purpose of the refund: build up our savings.  We’re not choking on debt like so many of our peers- we’ve got a few credit cards, none of them maxed out but all of them with balances that are heftier than I’d like (AKA “not zero”) and for the past few years, we’ve thrown a chunk of that refund at the debt, only to have unexpected expenses come up.  I can’t say that this was my idea— my wife was the one who pushed hardest for the cash to go into savings rather than toward the cards— but I’m happy to go with it.

With that in mind, she proposed a completely novel idea:  how ’bout we QUIT BUYING STUFF.  I know, it’s groundbreaking, the world’s economists might scoff at our audacity and bleeding-edge thinking, but it makes sense.  Here are the things that we figured out:

  • We’ve got a huge backlog of movies, video and board games, and TV shows that we’ve acquired but haven’t yet consumed.  Years and years worth.  I can’t even count the number of video games that I’ve started and then put down. And books? Don’t even get me started on books.
  • Getting new stuff is awesome, and it’s going to be hard to quit acquiring new stuff.
  • If we don’t have debt and cut down on things, there’s the chance that I could take some other kind of job and get further along in my education.  Doubly so once my wife gets her second degree.
  • Maybe, just maybe, I don’t eat out so often on lunch at work.  I should brown-bag it more.

Paired with this, we’re going to try to stash away some extra cash on each paycheck to keep that savings account strong like bull.  I’d love to eventually have half a year’s salary locked up in there in case the worst happens, but that’s gonna take time.  Lots and lots of time.  Still…

This isn’t to say that we won’t be paying more attention to the previously mentioned credit cards.  We need to get back on our old plan of using the Snowball Method to get rid of the debt on the cards.  I mean, how awesome would it be to not have to pay bills?  How much more cash would we have?  It’s gonna be worth it.  And (based on prior experience) it doesn’t really cramp our style.  I just need a general awareness of what money is or is not budgeted toward stuff, and work around that.

We can do this.

Confessions of a 30-Year-Old Sophomore: Harridan Fallout

Confessions of a 30-Year-Old Sophomore: Harridan Fallout

After all of the bullshit regarding Professor Harridan, I (at the urging of damn near everyone on Facebook) contacted the Dean’s office.  I figured that something as serious as accusations of harassment would be dealt with quickly.  Boy, was I wrong.

I didn’t receive an e-mail until 12:30 today.  The Dean’s message was curt- it amounted to “I’m sorry you feel that way, I’ll let her supervisor know (note: said supervisor was not only ONE OF THE RECIPIENTS of the message, but was specifically addressed in the message) and you are more than welcome to withdraw from the class “if you feel that way”. So, basically, I was told to go fuck myself. 

I can’t simply withdraw from the class, because that will put me below the number of credits needed to receive Financial Aid.  I can’t go back to class, because the professor will know that I filed a complaint about her.  And honestly?  I don’t really like the idea of going to a school where complaints like mine are ignored.

Fuck me.

Confessions of a 30-Year-Old Sophomore: Professor Harridan

Confessions of a 30-Year-Old Sophomore: Professor Harridan

Brace yourself, this is a long one.  I need to write to get this off of my chest.

The semester is still young, yet I already have run into major issues. I have two classes, Chem II and Pre-Calculus.  Chem is a known quantity (same bat-Prof, same bat-time) but PreCalc is a new situation for me.  I’ve never attempted any kind of math like this, but I felt confident after finding out that the A I got in College Algebra doesn’t stand for “abysmal”.  PreCalc is a necessity for damn near every degree that I could possibly hope to get and isn’t even close to the level of math that I’d need for either a degree or the prerequisites for the program that I’m hoping to get into (a year of Calc and a year of Stats are required for that, not to mention that the Physics pre-requisite has to be calculus-based). From the second that I got into my PreCalc class, I felt a little bit uneasy.  The professor (who I shall refer to as Professor Harridan) explained that she’s got her JD and maintains an active membership in the State Bar, but she prefers teaching math.  She’s from New York and I noticed immediately what I consider to be a stereotypical New York attitude- she’s loud, she’s in-your-face, and she’s not particularly nice.  (Disclaimer: I’ve met plenty of people from NY who are nice, low-key, and stuff.  Remember, stereotype.) She spoke long and loud about how homework must be done, study must happen, and gave plenty of warnings about how if you don’t do your work, you should DROP THIS CLASS.  I wasn’t sure if she was just trying to drum out the slackers or not, so I continued. Class two happened and I immediately noticed a few things.

  1. She’s a fast-talker.  REALLY fast.
  2. She shows many, many ways to solve problems.  While this is good for some people, I’d rather learn ONE way to solve a problem and learn it really, really well.
  3. She hates technology.  I understand her ban on laptops (I usually take my notes in Microsoft OneNote because it’s easy to use, I type more quickly than I write, and I’ve got my stuff on me at all times since it’s saved to The Cloud™— she immediately put the kibosh on that), but then she got on me for my choice of calculator.Our syllabus (and, indeed, the standard rules for all Math and Science classes at my school) clearly states that we can use any calculator that we want so long as it isn’t capable of automatically solving symbolic algebra.  Specifically banned are the TI-89, 92, and Voyager 2000.  I use the standard, non-CAS version of the TI-NSpire, which was meant to be TI’s successor to the 82-83-84 series.  It uses a GUI and has a few extra features (It can handle logarithms with bases other than 10 or e! It has a bigger screen! It lets you do 3D graphing!) but basically the same functions.  My other professors (science and math) have had no issues with this when I explained that to them.  Not Professor Harridan.  She said that she doesn’t want me using it and that I need to use a TI-84.  Luckily for me, one of the cool features of that device is that it can be converted to an 84 with a special keypad, otherwise, I’d be shit out of luck.
  4. Even though this is an 8:00 class, we’re expected to be there by 7:45- at least.  I got in at 7:50 and she had already started discussing the lesson.

My wife, being the person with great foresight that she is, suggested repeatedly that I drop the class and find someone else.  I resisted, because RateMyProfessors had shitty ratings for the other person teaching the course, and Professor Harridan had 4 out of 5 in all of the categories.  I thought that I surely just got off on the wrong foot with her… so I continued.  Yesterday was the final day of Add/Drop. It passed, despite my wife’s final suggestion that I go for the other professor. This morning’s class was not a good one.  I had finished my homework on MyMathLab (which is another thing that grinds my gears, but that’s a post for another day) needing minimal assistance from the software (and my wife) to finish it.  I was feelin’ OK, since this is stuff that is technically review (but I still struggled with- fractions within fractions and factoring are two of the things that I can’t get to gel in my mind).  I signed the roll sheet, sat down, and was told to form a group.  We were given four problems— stuff like this:

and were told that we had 15 minutes to solve this.  I can handle questions like that (as can the rest of my group, I know)… but it’s going to take me a while, and I know this.  I let my other group members know this, and said that I’ll do whatever I can (maybe start the other equations) but I’m slow and will probably need help.  They were fine with that.  Professor Harridan was not.  She stalked through the class, proclaiming loudly that it was “obvious that none of us had done any studying or homework” (wrong), that “most of us were guaranteed to fail her class”, and that “we must be kidding if we ever think that we’ll be doctors, or scientists, or anything like that” and that even if we DID pass her class, the rest of the school of Science would “drop us like a hot potato”.  She grabbed my paper (before time was up), looked at it, proclaimed loud enough for the entire class that I was wrong, and said that “I must be stupid”.  She then (after snatching up all of the papers) spent another few minutes berating us, saying that “this is Math 99 stuff, if you can’t get this, should you even be in college at all?” and things like that.  Fun times, right?

I realize that I’m not great at Math. It’s something that I have come to accept, and I know that it’s going to be a long, grueling uphill climb for me.  I know that I’m going to be relentlessly bugging my wife for her help on questions when I’m working at home, and that I’m going to have to study my balls off for the tests and weekly quizzes that we’ll be given.  I don’t, however, need to be publicly shamed; I already don’t think that I’m any good at math.  Having an authority figure who, mind you, MY TUITION IS PAYING FOR, reinforce this fact by berating me and calling me stupid is NOT OK WITH ME.  If I wanted to feel inadequate, depressed, and self-harmy, I’d talk about my weight with my mother. Why Professor Harridan could have done something constructive- like saying “OK, this is wrong, let me help you with this” or even quietly saying “Meet with me before class on Friday and we can look at this, you need to do some more work here.”  I can handle that.   I would, obviously, still be disappointed in my lack of skill, but that’s me.  Instead, my mind is alternating between BEZERKER RAGE! and “GIVE UP, FIND A HOLE TO CRAWL INTO, AND DIE” mode.  It took an enormous amount of restraint to bite my lip and not let hot tears of shameanger stream down my face.  The only math that I could think of was what’s shown on drop tables from state governments based on my height and weight (the drop would be 5′, for those counting).

I survived the rest of class (we moved onto something that I’m not terrible at, word problems and the equations formed to solve them) but had to immediately leave.  One of my fellow students talked me down as I left and agreed that what Professor Harridan did was no bueno.  As I headed to the parking lot, another student (the older guy from either Laos or Cambodia, I can’t remember which) approached me and said that he was upset and angry with how he was treated. I was in a bad enough state that (rather than going to the library to study/kill time before having to leave for work) that I had to go home, wake up my wife, and talk to her about everything that went down.  I need to get my oil changed, but I didn’t want to break down in front of some poor mechanic because I’ve basically been told that my hope at getting out of the hole that I’m in is useless.

My wife provided hugs, confirmation that what Professor Harridan did was wrong-wrong-wrong-wrong, and discussed talking to someone at the school about what happened.  The worst part here is that Add/Drop passed yesterday, so I can’t withdraw without my transcript showing a big ‘ol W… and I can’t get into another class to keep my enrolled credit hour level above what I need to keep on getting my Stafford.  My best hope was to talk to someone at the school and figure out a way to get into another class (or at least have the issue addressed in some way, shape, or form).

I searched my school’s website and the closest thing I could find for a good number to contact was the Registrar’s office.  I was promptly told that I would need to speak to the Dean of the particular school in question (In this case, STEM).  I was transferred to a person who I was told was the Dean, but (I later found out) that it was someone else entirely.  My story met with disbelief, I was told that Professor Harridan “doesn’t act like that” and is “really nice”, and that for a problem like that I would have to speak with her directly.  I said that I don’t feel comfortable doing that, particularly after I was called out in front of everyone.  I was told that only after speaking with her if there was no resolution I could e-mail the Advising Committee and that “it would get into the right hands”.  I asked if there was, because there has been a CLEAR breach of the list of Student Rights (and, honestly, if I want to lay it all out on the table, a threat of being failed), there was a chance that I could be removed from that class.  I was again told that I would need to speak with Professor Harridan and/or send an e-mail to the Advising Committee.  So basically, I’ve been told to cram it up my ass, because I’m a lying liar who lies all the time.

At this point, I’m wondering if it’s even worth it to keep going on.

TL;DR: Professor shames me in front of entire class, tells us all we’ll fail, School Admin refuses to do anything about it.