Monday, September 29, 2008

Some racing, some stopping

Here’s an excerpt from a recent conversation I had at work:

JV (to ‘student’ B): It’s important to always remember that many companies monitor internet activity and in some cases, e-mail use.

‘Student’ A: Yeah, like this one time I was using the computer at work and they froze it on me. I don’t remember what I typed in, but all this porn started popping up on the computer. I tried to close it but more kept popping up. Then the computer locked up with a message saying that it was frozen due to inappropriate usage. Then I had to call my supervisor and tell her that we had a problem.
It should be noted that ‘student’ A is different from the other guy I mentioned before, and different still from the guy I had to ask to stop looking at porn on the ‘school’ computer. As well, ‘student A’ didn’t normally use a computer at work; he must have a made a special trip. What I don’t understand about these stories is why people feel safer telling only half the story, yet the story is still incriminating. ‘Student’ A might not remember exactly what part of the human anatomy he searched for, but I’d say chances were good that his query brought up exactly what he was hoping to find.
Reason # 178 why I need a new job: pervasive, yet incomplete, porno stories.

Friday, September 26, 2008

whatever bubbles, bubbles up

Norbert Ispin encourages finding the humour in any situation. I’m not sure if this is so much funny as gross but maybe someone will find it amusing:

One of the ‘students’ I work with is rather malodorous. His scent is so strong that it lingers for hours after his departure. In fact, the room he occupies now permanently smells like the den of a wild, and very gamy animal. I wouldn’t say that I have become accustomed to the smell, far from it. But I do at least know what to expect and I also know that the smell’s intensity varies from ‘take your breath away’ to ‘this has got to be a biological weapon experiment.’
Unfortunately, a new ‘student’ at the school is struggling with the transition to this eye-watering/ stomach-churning situation. She finds the smell is giving her headaches and she has taken to eating her lunch outside to avoid her food being tainted. The worst thing is that there’s nothing I can do. The whole centre kind of stinks and the air just doesn’t circulate all that much.

Maybe one day I'll find this funny (the woman's reaction is kind of funny) but for now I’ll call this ‘Reason #216’ for why I need a new job.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

big, bad ghoul

No matter how many times I tried, I couldn't stop a native-English speaker from referring to a tsunami as a 'su-sammy.' He did say it right once and then expressed complete bafflement when he saw the word again. Being that he was reading a passage about tsanamis, he was pretty confused.
I wonder what a su-sammy would look like?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

take only what you need

One of the people I work with is preparing to write a GED test. Seeing the material he’s working through has made me realize how much I forgot, and how much I never really learned in high school. He’s given me a bit of time to relearn how to work with quadratic equations so I can help him understand what they're all about. At this point all I can really remember is that they come out as parabolas when graphed.
I’ve never liked math, and I’m pretty sure it never liked me. We fought each other for years – real grudge matches that scarred us both. Sometimes I gave it an unexpected KO but more often than not it sent me spiralling to the floor.
I think what I most dislike about math is the logic.

Here’s my kind of math question:

You can buy three bags of flour for $9.82. One of the bags of flour says ‘handle with care.’ Another offers first aid directions for 1/5 of its contents and the last bag claims to have a times two field multiplier.
Sally has three brothers, and two sisters, both of whom have Coeliac Disease. Her parents are bitterly divorced and have remarried. She spends ½ the week with her mother, and ¼ of the week with her father.
While shopping, Sally notices the sale on flour. How much flour will she need to buy for the time spent with her mother, and her father?
The answer, of course, is none. The parent’s lack of communication has resulted in not noticing their daughter is missing for part of the week. What’s more, none of the bags of flour sound particularly safe. The bag with a times two field multiplier would probably be deadly for the sisters with Coeliac Disease. Why would something edible need first aid directions for 1/5 of its contents and lastly, most flour needs (pun intended)to be handled, so handling with care just doesn’t add up.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

that dull thud you've gotten used to

Ispin says that "regrets should keep us from making the same mistake twice, but they should never hold us back." With this in mind I've been trying to determine what's been holding me back, and how I can move past it. #1 on that list would probably be the Master's degree I started in 2001 but never finished. As a form of self flagellation, I never took myself off the e-mail list serve. Consequently, I still get almost daily messages regarding guest lecturers and thesis defences. That's probably not healthy, so I have requested to be removed from the list.

As well, I sent a professor from the program an e-mail:

Professor X, I was student of yours, taking IDS 001 in 2001. You may not remember me but I will always remember you. During my last class with you I had asked a question that prompted you to go on a 25 minute rant. At one point during your speech you said that we could have a conference and invite the foremost thinkers in the field of IDS and at no point during that conference would anyone ask the question I had just posed. I dropped your class that same day. I did not enjoy being ridiculed by you for 25 minutes. Moreover, there is no excuse for such derisive treatment. You may be well respected in your field but that doesn't give you the right to treat people the way you treated me. Ultimately what I would like is an apology. And, I would like to remind you that as an educator your actions can have far reaching consequences. You can take heart in knowing some good came out of my experience with you. I will use you as model for how not to act as an educator.

It was at this point that I accidently hit send instead of save. Maybe it wasn't an accident. I had to send another e-mail with my name on it so the professor could at least know who his attacker was. His response back was not at all what I expected. It was a sincere apology.

For some reason I fell apart in the Masters program. It has weighed heavily on me for years but no more. I've been thinking that I would actually like to teach in a post secondary institution. I've been thinking a lot of things but I'm not ruling this one out.

Monday, September 22, 2008

heaven restores you in life

Not long ago I stumbled across Creative Fusion: 9 Steps to Reshaping Your Life by Norbert Ispin. I’m not normally one for self help books – they all seem to repackage the same information, and I think they're a waste of time. However, this book was in the bargain bin and my life is in need of a little restructuring. As well, I liked the quick preview of Ispin’s view of the world on the book's jacket. I may be violating several copy write laws but here’s an excerpt:

Humanity is caught in a lonely trap of its own making. On one hand we scour the far reaches of space, hoping that we will come across something that proves we are not the only sentient beings beyond earth. On the other, we explore the smallest particles of our planet, hoping to unlock the mystery of our existence. Neither pursuit has provided us with the answer of why we are here, nor do they make us feel any less alone.

We see these same ideas reflected in religion. Depending on you what you believe, you may either look out to heavens or into yourself. Religion is, of course, far more complex than this but I am using brevity to help make a parallel. Regardless of whether someone has faith, or believes in evolution, or something in-between, we are all searching for meaning. Without it, we feel alone and the loneliness spurns the search and the cycle repeats again.

I haven’t read much yet but I’m interested in how Ispin believes people can find meaning and reshape their lives. Of particular interest is his first step in which he says “infuse your world with life where you need it. Create that which is important to you, whether it's something tangible or exists only in the ether of human consciousness."

Go Ispin - you tell 'em.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I'm just sitting on the shelf

I recently came across The Nine Lives of Charlotte Taylor in a bookstore. Capital M didn’t share my indignation at the title, nor did she agree with me that the author had blatantly copied my idea. Now that I think of it, I'm not sure I explained the idea of the book to her. And, I know that I really haven't made an effort to maintain the theme of my blog's title. However, there's no denying a certain similarity between our works - that's poor form Armstrong, poor form indeed!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

It's me, I'm back again.

When we last left Jesse V. aka ‘the naturewitch’ he felt confident that he would find a new job, a better job, by August ’08. However, it’s now the middle of September and we find Jesse still at his old place of employment. Let’s go now and try to unearth the reasons for this troubling situation.

Investigative Team: Jesse, what happened? Why are you still working at a job you can’t stand? Are you not living in a city of millions, surely there have been better opportunities.

Jesse V: Maybe we can talk about this when I’m not at work.

IT: But the people want to know. What’s been happening in your life and are you leaving your job soon?

JV: I may be forced to leave my job if you don’t quit asking me these questions while I'm working.

IT: (laughs) Well said old boy, well said. Rumours have been circulating that you referred to your Bachelor of Education as a ‘Bachelor of Unemployment,’ is there any truth to this?

JV: (Chuckling) ahh yes, I have said that on a few occasions.

IT: So no luck with the school boards then, but what about other jobs. Surly you’ve applied at other places – any luck there?

JV: If by luck you mean unmitigated failure, then yeah I’ve had a lot of ‘luck.’

IT: How intriguing. Do you find it paradoxical that your current job requires you to have a B.Ed, or even more absurdly, a master’s degree?

JV: Yes, yes I do.

IT: Is it also true that you stopped updating your blog on account of your job dissatisfaction?

JV: It's complicated.

IT: Well maybe your blog can now outline your quest to find your purpose in life, or at the very least a better job. Maybe your blog could focus on life #9?

JV: Maybe...