Thursday, August 04, 2011

Tale of Tech Woe

I've been asked to talk about a tale of tech woe. The number one reason why my devices stop working is that they don't like water. For instance I once put my cell phone through the washing machine. And then I put my PDA through the washing machine. And then there is the tale of my MacBook Pro. The apartment above mine flooded into my apartment. I came home and the MacBook Pro was dripping water. It was a very sad for me. I turned it on it's side and the water was pouring out. I love my technology. Moral of the story: Do not mix water with electronics.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Cut Out the Coke


Towards the end of the school year I decided to stop drinking Coke. I had been contemplating it for a while since I rarely finish a can so it goes to waste. Pouring a lot of money down the drain along with it. I also couldn't help but wonder if it was at least partially responsible for the issues I was having with my blood sugar. So I decided that once the case was gone instead of replenishing the stock I was just going to cut it out entirely. I have now replaced it with Fruitopia. I know some people will criticize that choice since it does have a pretty high sugar content itself (still not as high as Coke). But it also has fruit juice and vitamin C. So at least I am getting something good out of it. And if you do feel the need to complain just be happy I am no longer drinking Coke and let it go.

So how is it going? I stopped in mid April I think. Hadn't had one at all until yesterday. I had one in my fridge and I didn't open it because I was craving it... or even really wanted it. I wanted the iCoke points from it. Right from the first sip I knew I couldn't drink it. So I got through a couple of sips and got rid of the rest. Guess I am done for good.

And the picture? That's a 3 week supply of Fruitopia... I have another 3 containers in the fridge door as well.

New Job

I really am in a good place... finished my semester with high marks... and even before the semester ended I had a summer job lined up on campus. So no stress about not having money and trying to find a job. Much more relaxing and getting better weather so far then last summer when I was unemployed.

So what's the job? I am working on campus in residence as a conference assistant. The only downside (and it's only sort of a downside) is that it's a live-in position. I get my own apartment here. It's pretty decent except that I don't have Az here (I miss my little buddy) and I only have a twin bed. Not sure how it will affect me come tax time since it's considered a taxable benefit (which means that the cost of the room will be added onto my income but would not have been taxed previously). But I am still paying rent on my own apartment which will hopefully help balance it out... plus in the remote chance that I do end up owing money I once again have tuition payments.

I think the job can really be best described as a jack of all trades type job. I really do a little bit of everything. There are 6 residences here, all with 4 floors of suites. Building 1 has the summer students and the office. Now I really have nothing to do with the students. Conferences will be starting this week and they are my primary responsibility. Before they get here I have to get all the keys ready and make sure they work. We had to create signs for each building and each suite. Check to make sure everything is working in those suites. Plus we had to get the rooms ready. The one day I left work pretty battered. From my knuckles to my wrist on both hands were bruised. I looked like I had been in a fight. Once they are here we have to check them in and will be on call while they are here (the reason for it being a live-in position). So some days I can't go to the gym, go home to see Az, or leave the village as it's known. At least I have someone else taking care of Az... as long as they don't wear flip flops again it should be fine. And really it's only July and August that are an issue.... when I will be on call literally every other week. 7 days on.... might have to work something out with Travis to cover for an hour or so to make it to the gym. He wants to go the gym too so it might work out.

We have also had to do room inspections when the students move out. Got to see how trashed some of the rooms were. We had to haul items out of the room. Perhaps we should have done the safety training before this... since as they pointed out the biggest safety issue we would run into is a needle prick injury from cleaning out their rooms. Fortunately nothing had happened... and we were only dealing with large items. Another job was to take the non-perishable food items over to main campus, presumably for their food bank. Travis took the other items to Valu Village except for the TV and bar fridge that they wouldn't take and I ended up adopting for the summer. The colour on the TV is a bit off but it saves me from bringing mine down here... I was going to go without the TV for the summer. I had a bar fridge at home but again it saved me from bringing it down here. Gives me something to put the PS3 on and a place for the cans of fruitopia.

Remember how I said it was the jack of all trades position? We also have to cover the office on occasion. I've also been doing some photocopying. Plus we had to sort through old files and shred anything that was over 7 years old and re-sort the files based on years. Then had to re-file them. Lots of hours spent on that project. Every time I had to go sort through the files I suddenly had trouble keeping my eyes open and it hurt my back a little. But at the end when I had to make sure they were in alphabetical order and re-file them I took my laptop up there and got caught up on some of my shows. Love my job.

Lastly (well last job so far) is doing work for the residence advisor. We have to sort and organize the rez life room... see what is useful and can be given to students and what can't. Get rid of what can't be used. We also have to print off and photocopy inspections, evaluations, and the hockey pool. And then for the back to school we have to call businesses and see what we can get for free stuff for the students and put the welcome kits together.

Lots to do which I love. The days just fly by. Hard to believe I have been here for a month. There are some days when it is really physically demanding but aside from the first day where I definitely did too much it's been okay. I may feel differently when someone is banging on the door at 3 am but I am loving it. The summer is just going to fly by I'm sure and being in rez I don't get many opportunities to go shopping and spend all kinds of money (okay so I did go to the Value Village 50% off sale) so hopefully I will also have money left afterwards... Of course I can always just shop online too.

Marks Are In

Okay so it's a little late but the marks are back:

DNA II - 84
Chemistry II - 90
Biology II - 98
Technical Communications - 98
Data Management - 99
Physics - 100

Needless to say I am quite proud of those marks. Now let's see if I can keep them up next year.

Will There Ever Be Another Show Like Lost?

Last night I sat down to watch the series finale of Lost... a show I have faithfully watched for 6 years. Now that it is all over I can't help but wonder if there will be another show like that. I know that not everyone will be happy with how it ended since there were still unanswered questions but I loved it. Most shows don't get to plan for a finale so the ending always leaves things unresolved and just comes to an abrupt end.... and most shows don't have an end date in mind so storylines can become muddled and disjointed. But Lost has been a one of a kind experience. I am going to miss it.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Now It Makes Sense

I have feeling pretty low as of late... finding it difficult to care about anything. Yet intuitively I thought that I should feel happy. After all we're heading into spring, we had warmer weather, school is almost over for the year, and everything is looking up. And yet I haevn't been able to shake the negativity. I was on Post Secret on Sunday as I am every week. Turns out that March actually has the highest suicide rate. I would've thought it would be January or February... or even December.... but no it's March. So I guess it does make a lot more sense that I would be feeling more blah this time of year... and I have no doubts that it's compounded by feelings that we shouldn't feel this way.... that we should be happier....

Bad Time to Be Sick

Bad time of year for me to be sick. Heading into crunch time. I seriously was thinking I was going to make it through the winter unscathed. I guess technically I did since I got sick just after Spring started. I am sure that stress had lowered my immune system. Then we went from being really warm to colder temperatures just as Spring started but I didn't break out the jacket as quickly as I should've. Spent quite a while outside at the zoo while not dressed for the weather. Could've gotten sick at school too. Either way it has hit me pretty hard.

Had to write a biology test on Friday. I cannot seem to stay hydrated no matter how much water I drink. I drank 2.5 bottles before the test and then 1 during the first hour of the test. Got halfway through and instead of focusing on the test I was focused on just how much I had to pee. It was bad. I rushed through the rest of the test and all I wanted to do was get out of there. I am sure that my mark won't be as good as I would like as a result.

Spent most of the weekend in bed or on the futon. The only problem? I had a chemistry test to prepare for as well. And a physics assignment to do. I gave up on one of the questions in chem during the test... just gave up. If I didn't absolutely have to be here for my other 2 classes today I would leave now so that I could take it easy. But I am a trooper and will stick it out. Maybe I will go have a nap between classes.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Many Shades of Gray... or Perhaps not so Gray After All

I'm not sure if I was just blind (perhaps I should have attended class more often) but there seems to be a lot more cheating (or plagiarizing) in college then there was in university. Yet people don't even seem to think that what they are doing is wrong.

Take tests for example. For certain classes depending on when your lab is will depend on when you write the test. Not sure why but when people write the test first they feel this need to share with the people who write it later... even though they are really shooting themselves in the foot. Or they get asked what is on it and feel the need to share. The issue is that the same tests are given out.

Another example when it comes to tests is when you have to write tests on your own time. So you have a day (or more likely 2) where you can go in and write it. It never fails that once I have gone in and written it someone wants to know what was on it. One time I even saw someone post on FaceBook which questions would be on the test. Are you kidding me?

And then there is the copying of homework and what not which wouldn't have gotten you marks in university but sure does in college. Same goes for assignments, labs, etc. In university I am pretty sure that this would have been considered plagiarism but here it is rampant.

When I first planned on writing this I might have thought it was in the shades of gray since the teachers can't really be that blind to what's going on. And they could change the tests. But then right before one of my tests we got a warning from the course coordinator (who was also the instructor for that class) that if anyone is caught doing any of those things it will no longer be a 0 on the assignment but will be a 0 in the course. Pretty strong words. Wonder if it will make people think twice.

I Miss My Bracelet

Once again I have managed to break my bracelet. Guess this is why you don't wear them 24/7. Actually I broke it over Christmas and I have someone fixing it... just haven't seen them since then. I miss not having it. It was the daily reminder of how far I have come. More importantly, it is the reminder to take one day at a time and not to go back to it... no matter how tempted.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

All Clear

Went to the doctors over reading week for my annual physical. He wrote my prescriptions for the next year. So far I have been given the all clear although there are some test results that he was waiting for. More importantly he gave me the all clear for going to the gym. I remember when I was in physio and I was strictly forbidden to run on the treadmill. I was allowed to walk at most 15 minutes (not that I listened) and there was no way I was going to be running. So I was surprised when he said to go ahead. Now he did recommend the eliptical over the treadmill because it is less weight-bearing but he thinks the cardio is good. Monday I ran 3 miles in 32 minutes and then did 40 sit-ups and 4 miles on the bike. I was quite proud of myself and so far no flare-ups as a result of the exercise. Hope I can keep it up!

Under Pressure

As soon as I thought of the title I thought of the song and now it's going through my head. Feeling a lot of pressure and stress at the moment. As far as academics go I am still doing extremely well. I just put a lot of pressure on myself. I am an overachiever. Mind you, I probably should have been studying instead of watching an autopsy video the night before a test. Well if the test was in biology it would have helped.... but it wasn't.

I know that one of the things that is really on my mind is the fact that if I don't have a summer job then it is possible I will be evicted. I know it's not the end of the world.... but it is still weighing on me quite a bit, and keeping me up at night. My EI will run out at the beginning of June and I think I can safely say that my apartment won't allow me to continue living there rent free... or even on the paltry sum that Ontario Works pays. So I am sincerely hoping that I will have a job and will be able to pay bills. I try not to think about it but that is easier said than done.

This time of year always tends to be hard on me.... Painful memories... and things just always seem to happen around now. Forget SAD it's Spring I have trouble with. LOL

Letter from the Dean

No it's not a letter saying I am in trouble. I got a letter for academic achievement. Quite proud of that and wanted to share. Hoping to get another one this semester! :)

Protector or Just Anti-Social

Az is now 6 years old and he really is my baby. Usually it is just me and him and home and I think he has really gotten used to that fact. I don't tend to have a lot of people over. Either he is just really anti-social or he seems to think I need protecting because he attacks just about everyone that comes over. I don't know what is going on but I really want the behaviour to stop. For one I am getting caught in the crosshairs because I don't want my friends to wind up bleeding all over my floors. And I really don't like it when he attacks and it hasn't been provoked. He was even stalking his prey the other day when a friend came over to study. For the first time ever I had to lock him in my room. Maybe I should have gotten him declawed after all. Open to suggestions if people have them.

Cinderella Complex

I was at the gym the other day (yes you heard that correctly) and was running on the treadmill, wondering if I was distributing my weight evenly as each foot hit the treadmill and wondering if other people thought I looked funny. A little bit later a friend of mine and I were talking about it. Then it hit me that really we are all just self-absorbed and it's nothing more than a Cinderella complex. The irony is that we are all focusing on what other people think of us and really they aren't thinking about you... they are wondering the exact same thing. I certainly don't pay attention to other people who are running, especially people I don't know. And am betting that people aren't really paying attention to me either.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Are You Retarded?

I will preface by saying that I am not about to attack or insult someone. The other day someone knocked on my door. I happened to be walking by Azrael and for whatever reason he freaked. Attacked me. And attacked me again while they were still at the door. Then was fine once they were gone. But by then had already shredded my knee.

The next day the super and the maintenance guy had to come by. I thought it was just to inspect the smoke detectors but apparently they were doing full inspections. Annual inspection? That's new... Haven't had that since I moved in. Love the new super. Any ways, Jeff knew about the killer cat. I always thought that it was at least somewhat provoked since he moved the cat out of the way with a broom. They came in and Az hid under the futon but then she walked by and he hissed and extended claws. Fortunately, she was wearing shoes so he didn't draw blood.

So when I came home she asked me why I hadn't warned her. Well I didn't know he would actually attack and I didn't think she was going to be there. Thought it was just going to be Jeff and the fire inspector. She called him my guard cat. Then asked if he might be retarded or brain damaged.

Why is it that we have this idea that all cats have the same temperament? There seems to be an assumption that cats are docile and love being petted endlessly. It seems that we have forgotten that cats didn't start out as domesticated animals and wild cats are not that friendly. Just like with humans cats (and other pets) they have their own unique personality.

Az doesn't like to be pet for long periods of time. This is pretty common for cats and he will let me know that he doesn't want any more. If I am walking by and he attacks my ankle that is a form of play aggression and is also common. The other time he attacks it's either a fear response or a territorial response. Let's face it this is his domain. Most of the time it's just him here or just the two of us. Not a lot of noise, other than maybe the TV or some music. But if something upsets that he does get thrown off. Now he is usually good if there are just a couple of people but that might also have to do with a) sex of the person who is over (back to territorial aggression... jealous of males) and b) my comfort level with that person.

Yeah he is an aggressive cat. There are certainly times I wish he was more like Tigger and just a big suck. But then he has already outlived all my other cats so that does give him points. Just because he is a more aggressive cat does not mean he is retarded.... It's just who he is.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Disconnect Between Reciting and Truly Understanding

So the labs for physics have provided some entertainment... like shooting a catapult and the blood spatter analysis. But as far as course content goes I am really struggling with it. Worst part is that there is a pretty good chance that I will come out with a good mark in the course and have learned very little in the process. When the class began there were 110 marks to be given out. Even that didn't seem like it was going to be enough when I started the class. Then there was a bonus assignment so another mark which hopefully has put my assignment mark back to 100%. There was also a bonus quiz. And now there is also a bonus test where you can get up to 5% of your course mark as a bonus. So that brings us up to 116 marks... plus 1 that can only go towards your assignments. Plenty of marks.... Gives me hope. At the same time I would prefer to actually understand the material and know why I am using a particular formula and not using the formula simply because that's what the textbook tells me to do.

Last weekend I literally spent about 5 hours working on one assessment. That assessment was worth 3% of my mark. Personally I thought that was a little too much work. In most of my other classes that would be an hour... maybe 2. And sure I can answer the questions on the assessment when it says refer to section x. Bu then I am pretty much like a trained monkey... and not doing it because I know it's what I need to do to solve. So when it comes to seeing the same question on the test, like I will be doing later this week I am screwed.

So I did what I needed to and got a tutor. Wise idea... had one session. The problem? They ran out of tutors and were turning people away. Now I could have just ignored that and continued to get help. But I felt bad and my altruism kicked in. After all I haven't gotten below a 93% on any of the assignments. Sure it's taking me a LONG time to figure out but I am getting there.... Other people are having a much more difficult time and getting a lower mark. So I figured they needed the tutor more than me and I canceled the tutoring. What irks me about that is that I ran into someone that can tutor the class, has an undergrad degree in physics, is tutoring in other classes, and yet he is not being used as a tutor. So why are people being turned away? And why is it that no one who took the course previously (since the tutor they are using is a prof at Fleming) is volunteering to tutor? I know they are busy... but I can't help but wonder if there is more to it than that.

As I said I might come out with a great mark in the class... but the odds of me becoming a tutor in that class is also extremely low. Why? A tutor has to be able to explain it and not just give the correct formula. They need to know and understand why that is the correct formula. And to be honest I am really just trying to survive the course. I've got 28.7% in that course right now. Now that number doesn't really mean anything except that only 29% has been given out... oh and it look the 1.9 I have in bonus marks has not been added in there either. Point is I am doing really well marks wise but have no real understanding of it. I want to understand the context... how it relates... and where you would use this in the real world. I think that would help me in knowing what formula to use and why. Instead all I have is this vague concept that I don't really understand: like say angular momentum... I would still have to look it up to tell you what formula to use. But I have no idea how I would ever use this. I want to know why.... or how.... And without that knowledge I won't even attempt to tutor someone else in it.

Now this is how the class usually goes... The handout just lists a bunch of sections from the text book. Then he stands at the front and will bring up that section from the text book... play the little interactive clip (our text book is primarily interactive and has web site access or a CD), provides us with the formula and then moves on to the next topic. Nothing ever really gets covered in depth. I feel overloaded with all the formulas. I know that's what physics is but I don't really feel like we actually covered them, aside from a few random demonstrations in class. I think this will be a lot like automation... well I certainly hope I have the same mark I did in automation (100%) but where I don't take away a whole lot from the course. Here's to hoping I can do okay on the test this week though.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Group Work and the Motivation of Others

We have a major group work project in my DNA class. We had to fill out a survey and based on how we filled out the survey is how we were assigned. The instructor based it on how motivated we are to work towards a deadline. So for the most part the high achievers were placed together and the people who ranked themselves in the middle were also placed together. But he couldn't put the people who gave themselves a 0 couldn't be placed together so they were dispersed throughout the other groups. And the other question that seemed to also determine the group division was how scared they were of public speaking. There is no question that I am a high achiever and for the most part I am with other people that are also high achievers.

I should also point out the marking scheme for this. We have to do the presentation to the entire class as a group. The instructor then assigns a mark out of 13. And if you think it;s a group mark you are wrong... The presentation is out of 15. You assign marks to the other members of your group, out of 2 based on how well you work with your group and whether or not you complete your assigned tasks. And then this is where it gets interesting. Let's say you give someone in your group 2 marks then you get whatever marks he gives you plus the 2 marks. If, however, you give them a lower mark, like say 1 then you only get 50% of the mark assigned by the instructor plus the 1 mark given by your group. And this leads to you failing the presentation.

There is a contract in place is well. If you miss more then 1 meeting 10% is automatically deducted. If you fail to complete any tasks at any meeting you lose 25%. Read: Do your work and complete all tasks.

Now this motivates me to work hard. Not that I am not motivated any ways but this motivates me even more. I want a good mark. Seems that not everyone is motivated by that. Not sure if they think that we will just let them coast or what. Let's see... the first meeting this individual was 15 minutes late. Not because they weren't there but they didn't want to eat with us. The second meeting they missed altogether. They claimed that they didn't know the meeting room was changed. They didn't check the group on FaceBook and then said that they didn't use FaceBook. Should have told us that from the start.... and for someone that isn't on FaceBook they seem to be there an awful lot. So at that point we got her phone number but she didn't bother to get ours. Next meeting she had no choice but to be there... we were in lab. And then she missed the next meeting. This time her ride wasn't there. Now at this point I should point out that by her not showing up it puts the group behind. We had to summarize our part of the paper so that we could proofread and make changes. But she sent it right at midnight which was too late to add it to the rest... so we pretty much lost that week for working on it. The next meeting she was 15 minutes late. Not because she wasn't there... We had class from 8-10 that day and the meeting was at 10. She was late because she was eating. So eat at the meeting... or in the hour afterwards. She is also the note taker and didn't feel the need to take notes during the meeting. Got the initial copy of the summary done and it couldn't be sent to this individual because the person who was putting it together didn't have her email. Which she posted on FaceBook and expected them to see it after saying they don't use FaceBook. We get to the meeting and she doesn't have a copy of the summary... and doesn't ask for one. Three of us leave to go talk to the instructor about how technical he wants it and she still doesn't ask for a copy of the summary to review. Contributes nothing to the group discussion at all. So in 5 weeks we have had to assign her with both tasks to do because of her absences in meetings and the only thing she has contributed is to summarize her portion of the paper. I am concerned about how the presentation will go. After all for as much as it is an individual mark a lot of it is still based on how the group does with the individual ratings being the deciding factor. Seriously hope she doesn't think she is going to pass the presentation. Right now I am thinking .2 out of 2. Not to mention the fact she has missed 2 meetings (so 1 past the buffer... miss one more scheduled meeting and we meet with the instructor) and has not completed her task for at least 1 meeting.

I seriously do not understand the motivation of this person. Maybe it is because I surround myself with overachievers... or at least people who want to put the effort in.... It's not like she has even had to do that much work. Show up once a week for the meeting. Take notes during the meeting. She volunteered for that particular responsibility after all. Instead she is sacrificing 15% of her mark.... Now if we were friends before all this then I can understand (somewhat any ways) the thought that we might be a little more lenient. But I don't know her at all so I have no loyalties to consider.... FAIL

Fun With Physics



Before you ask I did not kill someone and this is not real blood. This is from our physics class this week. I must say the one image looks like a smile. It represents the passive dripping of blood while walking/running. The other one is what happens when blood hits on an angle. And that one is now hanging on one of my friend's fridge as artwork. We're odd I know. Not sure if it makes us just geeks or psychopaths.

Out With the Old & In With the New




So as you can tell from the first couple of images here my backpack was in pretty rough shape. It started with the zipper just separating in the corner. Seems I had overloaded the backpack. My big concern was that this is also where the laptop is. Water + MacBook Pro = Sad Me. So I knew that I needed to get a new backpack as soon as possible. Searched and searched and searched some more and went back to the one I originally found. By the time the new one came in the zipper had separated on the other side and then the zipper busted entirely and as you can see it was being held together by safety pins. Then a friend lent me her messenger bag but it was awkward and put a lot of weight on my shoulder. Then the new one came in. It's smaller then the old one. Only drawback there is that I can't bring my camera with me. But it's comfortable and easy to get my laptop out. And it doesn't scream "Steal me" like a lot of other computer bags.

March 2

Not sure if anyone can help me out but here's to hoping. I have a doctor's appointment in Pickering March 2. Only problem is that I no longer have a ride. Figured I would try here. I could pay for a bus ticket and then try to figure out the local transit. But then I would much prefer getting a ride because it takes less time and because I like company. Would rather spend the time with someone I know. I can pay for gas or for a late lunch somewhere on the way back. So let me know if you can help me out with that.

In a Holding Pattern

I had avoided doing all the small updates on the strike. There was the original strike vote where the decision was to strike. I did comment on that one. Then there was negotiating and actual strike date of February 11 was set. But then the school wanted the faculty to vote on it and a date of February 10 was set for that vote. So the strike date was pushed back to February 17. Now as much as I don't want a strike I really did want the time to review physics and not have to write the test. Then there was the vote. Pretty much too close to call.... 51% voted to accept the offer. However, there are still votes to be counted which could still change things... So... tentatively there won't be a strike. But.... it's still possible that the offer will be rejected in which case they will go back to the bargaining table (hopefully) and a new strike date would be set. Here's the real concern about that... if there is going to be a strike it will now be towards the end of the semester. Not exactly the best time.

The whole "will they or won't they" is putting a lot of stress on me and makes it hard to truly focus on the semester. I am finding it hard to care. I am still doing fine but it is harder to stay motivated. Speaking of which I somehow have to motivate myself to do all kinds of work on physics this weekend... and studying for 3 tests (including physics)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Vote Is In

So it is now official... the teachers voted today on whether or not to strike. The unofficial vote count is that just under 75% actually voted and 57% voted in favour of a strike while 43% voted against it. Those results can be found here. OPSEU has also released a statement here that does not list the actual numbers but they did vote yes to the strike. It should also be noted that the earliest they would strike is mid-February. On one hand that gives them more time to reach an agreement which is good. On the other hand, the later you get into the semester the more it impacts the students which really is what they are going for... maximum impact. More marks are due later in the semester and you start having finals... grades not going in... courses not being completed... people not being able to graduate. Not a good scene. Hopefully it does not go to a strike and they can reach an agreement.

Where We Stand Now

So if you recall my post from New Years it was drama filled but there was a light at the end of the tunnel at least. I could see my freedom at least. Then 3 days later I was back to feeling like a prisoner with no escape possible. I had already made plans with the stalker to run some errands before the drama started. I debated whether or not to keep them but wanted to see where things stood. As I quickly discovered not where I wanted them to.

It was quickly apparent that in his mind nothing had changed. It was like his mind couldn't cope so he had forgotten or was blocking out the fight from New Years. On the way to the chiropractor he said that he was filing a soft bankruptcy because right now he didn't have any money available and therefore was unable to help me out. My heart started to sink as soon as he did that. This is what I was afraid of.

Then he invited himself over. Instead of asking if I wanted to get together at some point he just asked what night was best to watch District 9. How about none? And when he did come over we fought over what I was doing on the computer. When asked what I was doing I just said work. After all if he was so stupid that he didn't see me disconnect the hard drive from the Wii and bring it over then I really shouldn't have to explain it. But he wanted to know exactly what I was doing. Tried to say he thought it was such an open relationship. I am not an open book... especially not with him.

Also when he came over he had bought me a tripod. And that was the point of devastation... right back where we started. Where he thinks he is the knight in shining armour and if he just keeps it up that one day I will come to realize that he is this wonderful guy and I want to be with him (forgive me while I vomit here at the thought). Or maybe he thinks we are already together. Don't like either option personally.

So now I am waiting for him to contact me so I can tell him never to call me again and not to stop by. Thought he was going to call on Saturday which would have been perfect but of course it didn't happen that way. Would have been good because I would have had witnesses and I would have been out of the house at the time. He did call Sunday and I ignored the call. Was utterly exhausted by that point and this is a multi stage process.

See here is what I predict will happen. I tell him to leave me the hell alone and end the call. He calls me back because he wants an explanation and when I don't answer comes over here. Hence why I don't want to be home. Although even if I am not home I then have to be concerned with him potentially breaking in or something. Violence is certainly not outside the realm of possibility. I have seen him angry and it wasn't pretty. He has used threats of violence (that weren't directed at me but other people/places) to control me and keep me from ending things. He has said before that reasoning doesn't solve anything and that you have to go with violence.

I am scared to death of what might happen.... I don't expect him to go quietly. Would be nice if he did though. The whole thing is just filling me with anxiety... to the point where I am exhausted all the time and am having trouble focusing on anything else. But I just want it over. I want to be free. I want the restraining order/peace bond/whatever and then hopefully I can go back to focusing on school and maybe even have a life again. It's a dream... and a nice one.

Win & Lose

Monday I was on my way to class and the super stopped me. I had won $50 in the monthly draw for paying my rent on time. Go to school and take it out of the envelope and put it into my pocket. Then I went to the book store... caf.... another class... and then took the bus home. At some point in there the money fell out of my pocket. :( So I won the money... and then lost it. I checked with the school and no surprise that it wasn't turned in. I am extremely disappointed that I lost the money but the good news is that I had at least hadn't been banking on the money being there.... Seems to be par for the course....

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

FaceBook Friends

After some of the recent drama I decided to up my privacy settings even further as far as FaceBook goes. I started by putting one specific person on a limited profile so that they couldn't see any posts either made by me or made to me. After all I don't need more drama. But then there was an article on Make Use Of specifically on FaceBook privacy. It was an older article so some of the steps were no longer an option but along the way I found myself creating friend lists.... which was largely about where I knew people from. What I quickly realized (not that I am really surprised by this) is that very few people were actually making it to my "friends" list. I reserve that title for the people I am very close to.... There were family members, classmates, acquintances, co-workers, etc. But very few friends. I am okay with only having a few people I truly call friends but it is still very telling when according to FaceBook I have over 200 friends.

I know that a lot of people love the many applications you can find on FaceBook. I use an exporter to get my photos from iPhoto to FaceBook, the application for the BlackBerry, and an exporter so that birthdays are in my iCal. But I don't play any of the games... and don't spend a lot of time on people's profiles or checking out their latest pictures. I swear I am in the minority there. I always have FaceBook open so I check out the news feed a lot. I really wish that FaceBook would give you the option to block all news about external applications. I know you can do it application by application but that is such a pain. I keep thinking about just using FaceBook lite, assuming it even still works. Still works but seems kind of broken with all the new changes in the regular news feed. All the stories it showed me were ones I had replied to or posted myself.

There are also applications like the stalker list and I am not sure if it actually provides a list of the people who have checked out your profile or just makes up names based on your friends list but applications like that concern me. Don't I have the right to stalk in private? LOL There is a concern about privacy and without my consent telling people whose profile I visit most and then broadcasting that. It also makes me wonder how people view the results. Because my name isn't on there does that make me a bad friend? I have already said I tend to limit my FaceBook usage to the main page... doesn't mean I don't pay attention.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Local News Reporting

I was checking out Yahoo which is typically where I get my news from. There was an article on the front page about my town. Now seeing as I really don't pay attention to the news, I find it too depressing, it's not really surprising that this is where I would get the news from. Seems a 17 year old girl was charged in a stabbing from New Years. No additional details so I decided to check out the local papers. The paid paper had no coverage on it whatsoever. But it was in the free paper. There really wasn't any more information but at least they had information on it. The free paper for the win!

Having said that their actual journalism leaves a lot to be desired. Last week there was a report on the economy. While they were saying that few were untouched by the recession, "Peterborough is a regional government hub -- think the MNR, the hospital, the schools boards and so on -- this area was somewhat cushioned from the impact of the recession compared to other communities" Now that is small comfort to those of us laid off in the area.... And I am sure that other areas have schools and hospitals that employ people. Just because we don't have somewhere like GM I feel like they disregarded those of us that were laid off.

Skip ahead only a couple of days and the news headlines is on potential job loss because of the massive deficit at the hospital. There is going to be a peer review to investigate the finances. And the estimates from the union are that as many as 385 people could be laid off.

So we were cushioned from the recession because of jobs at this location and not even 2 days later there is speculation that even as many as 385 of those employees could be losing their jobs in order to get rid of that deficit. Now it's not a direct casualty of the recession per se.... but if it happens is still a major blow to the local economy. Maybe it wasn't so cushioned after all.

I am thinking the moral of the story is that the only way to protect yourself from job loss is to get a government job... a true government job.... somewhere like the MNR. But seriously I can't believe that in one article they are using the hospital as an example of how we were protected from the fallout of the economy and then turning around and saying that layoffs may be coming at precisely that location.

Hot & Cold

Maybe it's because of my biology course but I have really been paying attention to certain things as of late. For instance when I get off the bus at 5:25 and my chiropractor appointment is at 5:30 I am paying attention not just to the time but also to the fact that I am burning lactic acid to generate the movement necessary so that I can get there on time... or close to it. I know this because I can feel the muscles burning.

Something else I have noticed too is that now that the sleep is under control with the medication the biggest predictors of a flare-up (along with stress) is hot and cold. I am sensitive to extreme temperatures. Well probably not even all that extreme actually. I first noticed it one night not to long ago. I woke up (which is actually odd for me... usually I am dead to the world) and was sweating. I got up and lowered the thermostat. Stripped down to next to nothing and went back to bed. But it was too late. I could already feel the effects. I tossed and turned and tried valiantly to stretch it out... or crack something.... in the hopes the pain would go away. But it was all in vain. And as expected the next day I had very little energy. Had to take it easy and the muscles were still inflamed.

Got me thinking about other exposures to heat... when I went to physio they couldn't use heat because the muscles would tense up and not let go which defeated the purpose. As much as I love hot showers I can't take the heat for very long. I think that is actually a combination of dehydration and it causing a flare-up though. And summer without an air conditioner is unbearable. So it makes sense now.

Skip ahead to yesterday. It was -28 degrees Celcius with the windchill. I was all bundled up except for a scarf. I got a bit of windburn to my face. Other then my face for the most part I was warm... except for the gap between my jacket and where my mittens were and eventually my legs since I was wearing jeans. Even then it was really just my behind that was cold. Took a long time and a hot shower to really warm up. But my feet still seem to be a little cold. By yesterday evening I was getting fidgety. I have a messed up sense of pain because of the Fibromyalgia so I would probably say it was more discomfort then actual pain. But I kept trying to stretch it out... or crack the joints.... but I knew it was going to flare. And sure enough today I am feeling it. Going to be another day pretty much confined to the futon.

I will say that Azrael takes good care of me when I am like this. I know some of you now think I am totally insane. But they say that pets can lower your stress level and help you to feel better. The last time it flared up as I was lying in bed I looked over and there he was sitting beside the bed staring up at me. I am sure he didn't want to jump up on the bed for fear of getting kicked as I was thrashing around. Then when I woke up he was lying on the bed beside me. Today I laid down on the futon and he curled up on me... We both had a nice nap. Pet therapy works wonders :o)

Saturday, January 02, 2010

New Project for the New Year

So I decided to embark on a new project for the new year. It was something that was on Lifehacker the other day. It is a photo a day project. Actually I have 2 projects going. I decided to do one that is random items that I may encounter... or whatever strikes me that day... and one of Azrael. So if you want to check them out here are the links : The random images and the one of Azrael Hope you enjoy them. The random one also feeds to my FaceBook account but I could only link up one blog so I couldn't do both.

Bringing in the New Years with a Bang

First I will start with the backstory. I had just finished my tests and with the free time had a bunch of errands to run and things that just kept me busy. On one of those days I had Steve drive me to school so that I could take some pictures of the empty campus and to meet with one of the instructors since I had been talking about a book earlier in the semester and thought it was a great resource. Any ways on the way out there he starts in on how I am neglecting his feelings and not spending enough time with him. This conversation was on the 22nd. I only finished my tests on the 18th and he worked all weekend. I typically go to bed around midnight so I am not making plans for 11 at night unless it involves a bar... and not with him. Actually it has been a very, very long time since I was at a bar any ways. I might have seen him on the 21st but I am not sure. Point is that I hadn't had a whole lot of time. Secondly it was Christmas week when people tend to be busy.

Also I could say the same thing to him about not respecting my feelings. For the most part I want to be alone for the holidays. I'm not entirely sure why.... Probably partially because I remember a lot of fights on Christmas as a kid and there are just a lot of things I don't like about the season... materialism... selfishness... all seem the flourish. And of course I feel guilty because I am perpetually poor and can't afford presents. Also at this point I don't even know when my family is doing Christmas. So he wants to do something on Christmas Day (which if I am not with family is usually my do nothing, talk to no one, spend time with Az day) and is mad that I won't give an answer when I am not sure what plans with family are.

I thought I got through to him that I wanted to be left alone....needed to be left alone. He called Christmas eve to wish me a Merry Christmas. I missed the call. So I called Christmas morning to wish him a Merry Christmas. Was hoping I would get the machine but no luck. He tried to invite himself over for Christmas dinner. Are you kidding me? I called my parents to wish them a Merry Christmas and found out that Christmas dinner was the next day (I still wonder if I would've been told had I not called). Still having not too bad a day. And then he calls.... He "needs" the computer. I should also point out that this is 9:45 at night. What on earth do you absolutely need to do at 10 at night that can't wait? I was LIVID. The whole thing just seemed so fishy and he knew (or at least I thought he did) that I wanted to be alone. I truly felt like this was all about him and he was forcing his need to be near people on me. So the entire time he was here (25 minutes) he got the silent treatment.

Skip ahead a few days of blissful silence. Granted he also knew that I had plans on Boxing Day (with family) and on the 27th. He had no idea what I was doing then... which was going to see Avatar (in 3D of course) with a good friend of mine. I knew that silence would come to an end. And sure enough on New Years eve it did. He wanted to come over and I guess it was too much to hope that he would actually make plans ahead of time and not the day of. Now I was also invited out toboganning and to a kegger. I told him that I was thinking about going to the kegger but in the end I caved and agreed to let him come over. I am a glutton for punishment I think. It was my guilt for not spending any time with him. So then a little while later I said I was still thinking about going and he asked if I would take him or go alone. Now this was with college friends and most of the people there I wouldn't even know... a house full of people... and I wasn't dating him. I wouldn't feel right taking someone else. So when I said that he asked if I thought he would embarrass me. Truthfully yes... I mean who wants to bring a 40 year old guy that you are not even dating to a college party....

It gets better though... He asked if I have any plans for the new year. I'm a student... so continue working hard comes to mind... do well in school. And that is where my focus is. So he starts droning on about his plans for the new year and one of the things he said was that he had to decide whether or not to have sex. Since he is not abstaining for any religious reasons I am not sure why there is a debate there. And I am not sure why he is telling me. And somehow the topic turns to "us" and if there will be an "us" in the new year. I have known him for almost 7 years and in that time have had 3 relationships, none with him. Granted none recently but still. You would think by now he would've gotten the hint that I don't want a relationship, at least not with him any ways. I won't bore you with the rest of the conversation but suffice to say he feels hurt and used now. I have tried every way I know how to get him to understand it's not going anywhere and never will. But finally he gets it. So then he said, "At some point we will have to get together to divide stuff."

That alone is very telling.... We weren't a couple. This isn't a divorce. It does however tell me a lot about the nature of the relationship. There certainly wasn't any actual friendship there.. He was simply holding out hope for a romantic relationship that was never going to come. That would be like me giving someone something because they needed it and then because the friendship soured demanding it back. What kind of friend does that?

Also when I filed for bankruptcy I put his name down as one of the creditors so that if something like this happened he couldn't come after me for the money... or even the items. That really just leaves the PC, the camera and a few random household items (like the BBQ I've never used that he got for free from the side of the road.... and a couple of lights). As for the camera he called it a Christmas present while in the store and told me not to open it until Christmas day. So if he wants it back he'll be taking me to small claims court and I will be arguing that it was a gift. The computer is his and rightfully so.

Had he not immediately started on the talk of dividing everything up I would probably feel quite differently. But that definitely made it clear that there was no basis for the friendship and no altruism in his gifts. That he expected something from it and is willing to take back anything he can. Certainly not a true friend. And I can't say that I feel any sort of need to continue on with a "friendship" there.

In fact he wants to come over and pick stuff up. I have a better idea... you show up here and make it into the building and I have you arrested for trespassing. I like that idea. Also makes me think that I should move and change my number. Two problems. For one, I like my apartment. I am wondering what will happen this summer if I can't find a full time job... but will cross that bridge a little later. The other problem is that if (or should I say when) they do a credit check they will discover the bankruptcy so the only way that someone will rent to me is with a cosigner.

Regardless the new year might have started out with a bang but the future does look bright. I might finally get my freedom although I suspect that things will get ugly in the process. What a way to start the new year and the new decade.

Some People Need to Grow Up




There is a story here that I should probably explain. At the beginning of the semester I was trying to be nice to this individual, who I will simply call C. If people from school are reading this they already know the story and who I am referring to. But a few weeks in they did something stupid in lab and I had to report it... not because I wanted to get them in trouble but because we couldn't continue on using the equipment as a result of their mistake. Any ways this person got in my face and started screaming at me, calling me a rat among other things and said they better not lose marks. Let's just say it was loud enough that other people turned around to watch the floor show. Call me crazy but that was the point where I wanted nothing to do with her. Not long after that she was insulting my friends and went as far as calling us all "bitches who think we're better then her." So clearly she doesn't think too highly of me.... and at this point the feeling is mutual. So I was surprised when she asked me to help with her computer... and in sending a picture for the lab report. And kind of annoyed since she had gotten in my face and screamed at me.... and called me a bitch and then wanted help. So no I didn't have anything nice to say. The icing on the cake might have been with the presentations... We had to present to certain faculty members what we did in lab. First of all I should say that she isn't even the one that told me so if she wants to start blaming me for the gossip I didn't start it. And I certainly wasn't the only one telling the story. Any ways... she was so busy looking at her paper that they hid on her. it's mean but it's also kind of funny. I mean how do you not notice someone getting up and leaving? I know there is two sides to every story and according to her I'm the two faced bitch. But I never started this so I honestly don't know where she gets that from. I might have agreed when other people said that she was immature but I didn't go out of my way to be malicious. Now after she called me a bitch then it was no holds barred.

Then came these posts... and clearly she is still continuing on with the hate. Spreading lies about me and trying to get other people to stay away. Which didn't work I might add. Not that it really would have mattered to me. I am largely a loner any ways and am okay with that fact. I am perfectly content to just spend time with Azrael. I get it you hate me. You really don't need to keep announcing that fact. This isn't high school. Grow up and move on....

The reality is that she is actually lucky that I haven't filed a complaint. While she may not actually name me it is clear from the messages that it is about a student. And I have had it confirmed by someone that she wrote to that it is about me. "Just be glad you're not in this class right now. You will get it soon." "I can wait until Monday." Call it intimidation.... or actual threats but regardless it is against the student code of conduct. Not to mention the fact the initial messages were written while on school property.

I probably wouldn't have even said anything since I thought we were going to have very few classes together next semester. Now it looks like she will be in a majority of my classes. I sincerely hope that she can just keep the peace and not cause a lot of drama.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Marks Are In

Okay so the marks were actually in before Christmas but I hadn't gotten around to posting them. What can I say my posts aren't exactly punctual.... a little more on the random side these days. Any ways I am quite pleased with my marks. I worked my ass off for these marks I might add:

Biology - 87
DNA - 88
Law - 95
Chem - 91
Automation - 100 (That's right 100% baby)
Math - 89
Computers - 88

So my overall average was 91% and my GPA was 3.882. I loved getting the 100 in automation. Undoubtedly it will be the only time that happens (and I should point out there were 110 marks... so there were extra marks... I had 106 but it was rounded down). But I am really proud of the 91 in chemistry since I have never taken a chemistry course ever.... Hard work pays off. Hopefully I can keep it up but next semester I have chemistry and physics so we'll see. Plus more biology and DNA. Lots of lab work.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Post Secondary: Truly Education or Just Big Business?

First of all I want to say that I am really enjoying my time at Fleming. I love the people... well most of them any ways. There are certainly a couple of people that I will not miss if they do not come back. I love the program and have some really great teachers as well. The upcoming strike deadline of January 13th is leaving a sour taste in my mouth though. And is a not so subtle reminder that it really is a business.

When you are in high school (and public school) your tax dollars (or really your parents) are paying for it. Yes you can drop out but it's already paid for and you get a broad base of courses there. There are guidance counsellors there to help you figure out what you want to do and direct your path for the future. But when it comes to post-secondary education it's in a league of it's own. Anyone that tries to tell you they aren't biased is lying. It is a business and they want maximum capacity. Cha-ching..... They don't care if it is a program that you really aren't suited for. Sure they would like your money for all 4 (or 5... or however many) semesters there are in the program but they hope that you might switch to another program also at their school. Or at worst they get 1 tuition payment out of you. That may be a jaded view but it was also shared by the employment counsellor. While in high school you might go to a guidance counsellor for career advice you are probably best not to go to say the program coordinator.

I am not sure what the dropout rate in university is. In college (or at least at Fleming) 1/3 will be gone from the program after 1 semester. Likely it will be down to 50% after the first year. It's not just my program that those numbers hold true for either.

With the possibility of a strike I can't help but wonder what kind of impact this will have. The strike at York is definitely weighing on my mind. They lost the semester... and the tuition fees. It could also affect my funding. The funding was approved for a 2 year course. The course is a full two years... Well aside from 1 summer off. The big concern then would be running out of funding.... which is a real possibility. If we lose the semester that is... and had to take courses over the summer that is. If I did have to take summer courses that would also mean going for 4 straight semesters with no breaks (since this program is 5 semesters and we have to do a full time internship during the final summer).

I really don't want to think this... but I can't help but think that with the timing of the strike the staff involved (or union pushing it) are a little bit selfish. Why are they not striking over Christmas or over the summer when it will have less of an impact on the students? Because they are using the students as pawns. We are leverage to increase their bargaining position. They know full well that the school does not want to be shut down for long and have to deal with the backlash of students. We are their business.

Up First the Socialist Rant

School is now done for the semester and I am on vacation. I don't have all the marks back yet so will update once I have them. The talk of a potential strike, which I will get to in another post, has me thinking about education and the cost of a post secondary education. I believe that education should be free, or at least affordable to all. The only reason I am back in school is that I was laid off at the right time and the government is paying my tuition.

This thought continues on to other areas as well... I have also been giving some thought to the fact that basic housing should be provided, or rent should at least be geared towards income. Subsidized housing here takes 10+ years to actually get and my name has already been removed from the list as I failed to update them with my information and hopefully by the time that 10 years rolls around I will have moved elsewhere. Right now on EI I get $988 a month. I spend 78% of that income just on housing (if you factor in my notetaking which only helps when I am actually in school I spend 62% of my income on housing). According to CNN financial experts recommend not spending more then 36% of their income on housing. That is a pipe dream for me at the moment. I would love to only be spending $355 on rent... Might have saved me from filing for bankruptcy. Unfortunately, the sky is the limit for rent... and there is nothing to stop it from going up. In fact pretty soon I will be getting a notice in the mail about what my rent will be going up to. It's actually making me reconsider my living options. I really don't want to go back to having a roommate but it is something I am seriously considering, just for the cost saving.

I could even extend the socialist thought to include food. I don't mean that steak dinners and what not should be covered but perhaps the basics should be. Again, perhaps a portion of your income could be taken to cover it and then distributed as something like food stamps to be used for specific products, or at least on a range of products. Perhaps waive these charges if someone is unemployed (either on EI or social assistance). During the summer when I had no extra income I had to get assistance from other people in order to buy groceries. It was a sad state.

I know that the costs would be enormous and that it would never happen but as someone that has been living under the poverty line and struggling just to pay for basic needs to me it would be an improvement. And ultimately it would hopefully reduce at least some of the disparity between the rich (or at least the middle class) and the impoverished.

Impromptu Trip

I got a new camera as a Christmas present. As a result I then had to get a camera case. Me, being me, I am not content just to go with what they have in the big box store that the camera came from. I had to do some investigative work and look for a good case. This is why I have an STM backpack for my laptop and an Otterbox case for my BlackBerry. For once though I didn't have to order it online. I decided to go with M-Rock and fortunately for me it was carried by Quinte Photo Fotosource. Gave me an opportunity to go "home" for the first time in a decade. If that hadn't panned out I might have been driving to Belleville but it all worked out.

On the way into the 'Burg we drove by the old house. That was a little disappointing even though I knew what to expect. I already knew they had torn down the garage and built a new one. To me it looked oversized and gawdy and made the house itself look small. The new garage also emphasized the dilapidation of the barn.

Then it was off to the 'Burg. A lot has certainly changed since I was last there but a lot has also stayed the same. I was really only interested in the downtown. There were new stores but it still felt like home as a lot of those stores and buildings had remained the same. Got a picture of Victoria Hall before heading off to the photo place to get the camera bag. They had 1 in stock of the bag I needed. Then took a walk down by the lake. Walked out as far as I could towards the lighthouse and then back and onto the beach. It was pretty cold and my hands were numb since I was using this as an opportunity to test out the camera and take some scenery photos. I think I am good now until Spring for outdoor shots. LOL I am extremely happy with the results.

Visited a few thrift stores while we were there. Even picked up Monopoly... but it wasn't just any Monopoly. It was the electronic banking edition. Picked it up really cheap. So it was definitely a good day. And it was nice to be back in the 'Burg even if it was just briefly. Hopefully the next time is less then 10 years from now.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

What I Learned About the H1N1 Vaccine

I should premise this by saying that I am not against the vaccine and am not trying to convince anyone not to get it. However, if you have Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) you might want to talk to your doctor.

I had been really undecisive about the vaccine. On one hand with the somewhat compromised immune system that comes with Fibro I knew I was more at risk but this is the healthiest I have been in a LONG time. Out of my friends from school I was one of the few people that had not been sick at least once. And a friend of mine had already had H1N1, along with an instructor so I had at least somewhat been exposed to it before the vaccine was even available. I had pretty much convinced myself not to go.

Then last Friday they were at the school giving out the vaccine. I had gotten out of class early and had some time before my ride got there. Still wasn't going to get it and then I ran into a friend of mine and somehow I ended up waiting in line with him. Was just planning on keeping him company but as it turns out I had time to get it before my ride even got there so I decided to go ahead and get it. As an interesting side note my friend was not able to get it as he had a previous immune disorder.

I was warned that I would feel it in my arm for a few days. Well I was warned of that after I had already had the shot... from someone that had already gotten it. Went grocery shopping... came home... started on laundry... Could definitely feel it in my arm. Then I had a nap. Getting up at 6 am on Fridays is killer... usually end up having an inadvertent nap (read: pass out watching TV/movie). Woke up and my arm was killing me... It was now 100x more painful. I guess injecting a vaccine into an already inflamed muscle is not such a good thing. Caused a massive Fibro flare-up. When it was bed time I went to make my bed and couldn't move my left arm. Was almost in tears as a result. It was bad.

The next day I got up, had breakfast, and went back to bed for 3 hours. Then I got up and put the dishes in the dishwasher. That took all my energy so I laid down on the futon for 2 hours. Needless to say I got nothing done that day. Trying to fight off the pain and the injection took all my energy. It was a brutal reminder of how bad life with Fibro can be... and made me grateful that I don't have too many days like that.

It wasn't until Monday when I was feeling better. Lost the entire weekend. Got no school work done. Fortunately, I didn't have anything that absolutely had to be done for the Monday. I am fine now which is good since I know with finals coming up in a week my stress levels are already going to be elevated from that. But hey... 3 weeks of vacation after that. :)

Not Built to Last

Once again it has been a while since I posted. In my defense I have been busy with school. 7 courses is a lot of work. Will update everyone on that in another post... This is me venting about technology these days. Either I just have the Midas touch when it comes to electronics or they just aren't being built to last. I mean let's take stock here...

I have 2 hard drives (one is 300 GB and one is 200 GB) and never had an issue with either. I also have 2 TB drives and both of them had to be replaced in the first year because they were dead. I am almost scared to save data on them now for fear of losing the information. Granted I keep almost all the data backed up on DVDs as well...

Then there are the USB drives... I have had 2 of them die now. In one case I lost a week's worth of class notes as a result. :( It was a sad day. Fortunately I had the hard copy of those notes but then I had to retype it. Lost an assignment too which I didn't have another copy of.

Not including the water damage my MacBook Pro was replaced 3x for hardware failures. And as of right now this one has a nice, new LCD, new power inverter and new optical drive.

The latest on the casualty list is my digital camera. That one has a failure with the CCD. I wanted to upgrade my camera any ways... but I still liked actually having one. Well I suppose the BlackBerry does take pictures but I like the dedicated camera. Can't afford to replace it so I am going to be without for a while.

Not sure whether I just have a real knack for killing electronics or what... but that seems like an awfully high failure rate. The good news is that everything else is working fine.... Knock on wood and hope it continues that way.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

The Update on Classes

Last post today... and knowing my track record it will probably be 6 months before I post again. LOL But now that the semester is half over I figure it's about time for the rundown on how classes are going. Saves me from emailing people.

Computers

I seriously hate this class. It's easy but painful. They expect you to do 4 hours of work in your own time. It doesn't take me anywhere near that long probably because I have yet to do any of the "independent learning" modules. I read them... isn't that enough? What bugs me most is that I spent almost $200 for a certification I don't even want. I mean seriously... has anyone ever even heard of the "computer driving license?" I haven't and I did tech support for 4 years. You get trained on the basics of Windows XP (Umm... do they release that as of recently 2 operating systems have come out since then?) and Office 2007. Again a new release is coming out shortly. Just seems redundant... and useless... and like I said I am kind of bitter that I have to have the certification to pass the course. I got 90% on my first test but I still have to do 3 tests for Office and 1 for XP. Should do well in that class.

Automation

The course is on the use of robotics in a DNA lab. The only problem is that the prof is all over the map. No idea what he is talking about. For this class I don't really look at my average (which I got 75% on the midterm) but how many marks I have lost so far (4.5) since there are actually more then 100 marks in the class. I don't think I will have 100 when I get out of the class although it would be nice. Since I really haven't lost that many it is still possible... and I still expect to do well in the class.

Math

Been over a decade since I took a math class and when I was in university I don't think I really attended class or learned anything. It was really only the algebra that had me going, "WTF?" but once I figured that out life was golden. What was funny is that I had asked someone to help me with it and instead of helping they went ahead and did it. Now that wouldn't be funny except that it took them forever (okay so that might be a slight exaggeration... but it took like 3 days to do 10 questions) and we did not get the same answers. I got the right answers... Him... not so much. So moral of the story: Do your own homework. Other then the algebra it's been pretty easy. And I got 99% on the midterm. Some stupid mistake I am sure tripped me up. But I can't complain about that mark!!!

Law

Law is an easy class... for me at least. Got 90% on the first test and have gotten perfect on all the homework assignments (3% per class... pretty much just for doing it and what she called bum in chair). I know a couple of people that have 100% in the class so I am not doing quite as well as them. Maybe next time I will take more then 11 minutes to complete the test... since that is where I lost the marks. Still can't complain when the marks are over 90% for the course.

Chemistry

This was the class that undoubtedly scared me the most going back to school. The last time I took anything that involved chemistry was grade 10 science and that was 15 years ago. I dropped chem at Trent because I felt it was over my head. So far I've gotten perfect on all my labs and got 82.5% on my test. Not too shabby for a course that I was shaky on going into it. One of the challenges as a notetaker is that sometimes it becomes more of a stream of consciousness then actually being able to process what is being said. For instance we were naming compounds and discussing molecular formula and I was so busy with subscripts and superscripts that I had no idea how you figure out what it is. So this week while I was off I really took the time to go through it... and the light bulb went off. Nice when that happens. Still wondering if I should have a chem tutor because I struggle with the polyatomic acid and knowing what the hell the formula for something like sulfuric acid is (had to Google that one).

Biology

This just might be my weakest subject which seems kind of all considering I have absolutely no background in chemistry, haven't taken math in a decade and completed half a biology degree. According to Ashvin, DNA should be the hardest course... Nope... Biology seems to be. And I am not alone in that. One of the girls has a 98% average in DNA and has a biology degree already and on the last 2 labs got like 70% and 75% (maybe 80%). Still beat my 60% and 75% but still seems really low. Of course we do the labs as groups and then the instructor accused the entire class of plagiarism. Are you kidding me? If it were a couple of people then you have a case... but the entire class? Oh sorry she actually accused both her labs (so about 50 students) of plagiarism and went through the whole academic speech of how if it happens again you get a 0% and then a 0% in the course and then booted from the school. I am still angry about the whole thing... I mean clearly if it is the entire class then something else is going on... I don't like being threatened, especially when that threat involves expulsion. I also think she is a hard marker but I really don't know since we do the lab as a group and only one person's is marked, with the exception of one question where we are marked individually. But by the time we get them back it's a few weeks later and we're focused on getting the current lab done (and usually running out of time) so I never end up seeing it. Plus as soon as we get them back it's a bitch fest about the instructor and her marking. What makes it worse is that she could be my lab instructor for Biology 2 (I am seriously rethinking my course exemption for that) and for both microbiology and toxicology.

DNA

Last but not least is DNA. This is probably my favourite class. It is taught by the course coordinator and he is tough but fair. I find it interesting... which is good since it is kind of the main focus of the program. LOL When it came time for the first test in that class I had a doctor's appointment in Pickering and had to rush back for it. Just got back in time. Still got a 90% on the test. And they were stupid mistakes that tripped me up. Last check I had a 93% average in the class... definitely in the top 10 there. :) I would've said top 5 but I don't know how many people were over 90% from the third section... but top 10 is a safe bet. Now since then I got a 75% on a lab (good thing it's only worth about 2%) and then got perfect on the library assignment that is worth 5%. So I am assuming that it's still about the same.

Obviously I can't complain about my marks... C'mon dean's list.... Definitely hoping the rest of the semester goes as well as the first!

Happy, Healthy & Doing Well

The semester is now half over and I am just finishing up reading break #1. In another 7 weeks it will be time for Christmas break. Wow how time is flying. Knock on wood but I am one of few people in my classes not to have been sick so far. Considering how poor my immune system has been in the past that is a bit of a surprise. But so far it's doing an excellent job.

I know that your emotional well being is tied into your physical well being. When you are stressed out... depressed... etc. it lowers your immune system and causes you to get sick faster. Working in a call center was a combination of emotional negativity which lowered your immune system and it was just a breeding ground for viruses... everyone sharing the same computers, the cleaning crews were lax to say the least and people were coming to work that shouldn't be because they couldn't afford the time off. a recipe for disaster. I hate to see what will happen if people who have H1N1 are going into work.... Company wide shutdown perhaps?

So on an emotional level I am much, much happier... which in turn is keeping up the immune system. I've also gained a little weight... still not up to where I want to be but I am getting there. I am sure that also helps. Plus I am now on the right medication combo. I am on Nasonex for the allergies and more importantly Trazodone for the Fibromyalgia. The pain is still there some days... but it's much better. I can sleep through the night and not feel totally groggy like other medications.

Life is good.... Loving every minute of it. Hope it continues on. :)

Potluck


This picture was just one of many taken last week at the potluck held at my place. We were all in the BTF (or Biotechnology-technologist forensics) program at Fleming. We really have a close knit group... well my section (there are 3 sections) any ways. Thought it would be fun to get together... have some fun... food... and drinks. Oh yeah and the Wii. Can't forget the Wii. Lea playing Kawasaki Jet Ski... was an epic fail moment... But she did much better with Mario Karts. And Greg was just a superstar. I am sure he likes the ratio... out of the 15 people that were here (good thing I have a spacious apartment) only 2 were male and 1 of them was married. But they were also the first to leave. Place was cleared out by around 1. I think Az had a lot to do with that. They called him the demon cat. He was seriously not happy to have that many people here. He curled up on my lap but not because he was content. It was like it was the only place he felt safe. As a result a few people left with scars. I had warned them ahead of time... As soon as there were only a few people left he calmed right down and put on a show. Started playing fetch with his bear and humping it even. The other reason I am sure it cleared out is that it was a Monday night and we did have class the next day... granted not until 3 which is why we decided to hold it when we did. And there was only one person that was really intoxicated and no it wasn't me. Mind you I will say that the sugar content in 2 pitchers of strawberry daiquiris did give me a headache. Drank a full litre of water before bed to stave off any sort of hangover and was good to go. It was a good night and nothing got damaged or destroyed. We used disposable plates and cutlery for the potluck so clean-up was a breeze. Thinking we'll have to do it again.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Left Hand Does Not Know What the Right Hand Is Doing

Been off school all week and thoroughly enjoying the time off. I still had readings to do and assignments to work on... they really don't like giving you a free week. LOL Things were going well until yesterday. I was down to creating some flowcharts for my DNA lab and reading over the computer independent learning (I refuse to actually complete them... way too basic for me). But I had to fill out my EI report. Odd thing I like having money to live on. I was assuming that I would have to say I was in school for the first week and off for the second week but wanted to make sure. Didn't want to risk not getting paid. I was even tempted to just put that I was in class and save myself the hassle. So I decide to call in. Call #1 goes something like this...

Me: "I have a dumb question. I was off school this week and want to make sure that I should be filling out the EI report indicating that I was off school."
Rep: "Okay so you were off school this week"
Me: "Yes it was closed for reading week. No one had classes" (Guess that is important to note since I could've been off with the flu... or H1N1 even)
Rep: "So what you are going to need to do is fill out the report online (Now I called the telephone reporting service... is it not their job to assist with this???) and then call back to have it escalated so that they can confirm there was a break. It will take a little longer to get the money but you should have it by Friday."
Me: "Okay will do."

End call... I go ahead and fill out the report and sure enough get a warning that I need to call in. Call #2 did not go nearly as smoothly.

Me: "I just filled out the report and it told me I needed to call in. I already spoke with someone since we were off school all week and was told I needed to fill out the report and call back to have it escalated to confirm the school was closed. So now I am calling back."
Nadia: "Okay well let me pull up your file."
Gets security info and pulls up the file.
Nadia: "Oh I am sorry. I do not see anything in your file indicating that there was a break. There is nothing that I can do. You will have to go back to whoever approved the request to go back to school to resolve this."
Me: "But I was told to fill out the report and then call back in to have it escalated."
Nadia: "I am sorry but there is nothing I can do. Your file does not mention you having a break."
Me: "I wish I had been told that a few minutes ago when I called in. I would have held off filing the report until I could get in touch with them."
Dead silence... she may have even hung up on me at this point. Not that I waited long before hanging up.

At this point you can insert tears. I mean we are talking about $500 being on hold.... And me being caught in the middle of 2 different government departments. Not to mention the fact I was being told 2 very different things. What makes it even worse is that the last time I emailed Murray (my case worker with the ministry of training, colleges and universities - MTCU) it took a month for him to get back to me. So I really did not need this. November is going to be hard enough financially, what with a week without pay because of the vacation. I called Murray and got a message saying he was out of the office until Monday. The message also gave a number of someone else to call if it was urgent... only she too was out of the office until Monday. That's helpful. I left a message for Murray and emailed both of them.

Now I get that the MTCU should have told Service Canada when the breaks were. After all I had to submit them as part of the application... so that I would still get paid during that time. But that is not my fault. And now I am caught in the bureaucratic red tape of privacy laws... Frustrating to say the least.

I decided to call EI back.... after all there was no one at the MTCU that can help me until Monday (at the earliest) and I was told 2 different things when I called EI. For all I knew Nadia was just being a bitch who didn't want to be helpful... or didn't know procedure. I've worked in the call center I know how it goes. This time I was told that it would be escalated to the local office. She even put me on hold to confirm.... and I was told to check in on Wednesday (either online or by calling in) and see what the status was. At least then I was able to breathe a bit of a sigh of relief. The money will be delayed but at least it won't be on hold until the 2 government agencies decide to play nice and share information. I sincerely hope that Christmas break does not go the same way!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Best Job in the World

Not only am I back to school but I also have a job. It, I think, is the best job in the world. I am a note taker. Now I was already going to these classes and taking notes any ways. Now I just get paid for it. Great incentive to make it to class. the only difference is that now I bring the MacBook Pro to class since I can't even read my own writing so how can I expect anyone else to be able to. And then those notes go to people that have some sort of disability that prevents them from being able to take notes. So it's a job I also feel good about.

Goes back to what I said in my last post about how I would be a career student. If I actually could do it I would probably make a career out of being a note taker. I wonder if there is such a thing. LOL Getting paid to attend class... taking notes.... always be learning. How cool would that be? And the income helps too... even if it is only for 10 hours a week (less if I have tests obviously and no money for reading week).

I'm Back....

I had to laugh when Suzanne was commenting on not posting... It's been almost 4 since I last wrote. But for the most part over the summer it would have been [Insert negative comment here]. Spent the summer unemployed and struggling to get by. I still have no idea how I made it through. And towards the end of the summer I was really stressed not knowing if I was going to be going back to school or if I should be focusing all my time and energy on a full time job, which is really hard to come by when you are in the middle of a recession and were laid off at the same time as about 200 other people.

I am back in school now. Never thought I would be saying those words! But I LOVE it. I really do think that if I could be I'd be a career student. I just love learning new things and being in class.

Since people always want to know what you are taking... I am enrolled in the Biotechnology Technologist - Forensics (or BTF) program at Fleming. It is a tough course, no question. I spend 6 hours a week in the lab for life sciences (so for DNA, chemistry and biology) and another 2 in lab for automation. In total I am in class (or labs) for 21 hours a week which is a far cry from the 15 (max) that I was in class a week in university. There are a lot of differences between when I was in university and now although some of those changes are just because of the advent of technology. For instance I get a lot of my lecture notes printed off for me or available online to be printed. I don't have to kill my wrist writing out all these notes. I still take notes, just not as many. I also find the teachers to be more open and available and willing to just talk about anything. I mean I have the course coordinator on my Facebook friends list and there is a group set up specifically for BTF students. My chemistry teacher is on my BlackBerry messenger. It definitely is more hands on and using different equipment then say when I started my biology degree. I took a course on genetics and the labs were shorter and not as in depth. In the year and a half I was at Trent I don't think I ever even saw a pipette and in my DNA class we've used it for 2 different labs already. And then there are assignments... If it is due at 8:00 and you hand it in at 8:01 it's late and a 0. Definitely learning not to procrastinate unlike university where my papers were on average 3 days late in my first year. So far so good.

Obviously it's a biotechnology course so the possibilities afterwards are wide open. I can go do water testing (or really anywhere that does testing.... like for e. coli), research in genetics, a wide assortment of lab positions really. But you might have also noticed that the program title included the word forensics. So yes there is also a focus on forensics. The first lecture in my DNA class was on the CSI effect and what they are doing wrong. Makes for good television but really isn't that accurate. Sorry to burst people's bubbles. Next year we even get to put on the bunny suits and really do evidence gathering. The program also has a focus on automation. So we get to learn about robotics and how to use them to make our lives easier.

Just wrote 3 tests this week, have 2 next week, and 2 the following week and then a week off. When these marks start coming in that's when I will really be able to see how I am doing. Well the law test was open book and I already know I got 90%. DNA I thought went well but could be wrong. And chem we were allowed a cheat sheet which meant I didn't study as much as I probably should have. There were a few multiple choice questions that I wasn't as sure about as I would have been. Live and learn. Have to see how it goes.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Financial Assessment

As I mentioned before I was meeting with a bankruptcy trustee. First off I want to say that I should not know more about the process and the law then the person doing the consultation. While researching options and what it would mean if I do file for bankruptcy I had discovered that the laws regarding student loans had changed. If you were out of school for 7+ years then your loan would be automatically* discharged (See note later on about this) and then if you had been out of school for 5-7 years then you could apply to have it discharged based on undue hardship but it was up to the court to decide if there really was hardship and if even after the bankruptcy you would not be able to repay it. But when I was doing the consultation she told me that my student loan would not be affected and I would need to contact them after the bankruptcy was discharged to apply for loan forgiveness. Now I thought maybe that part of it hadn't gone into effect yet so I let it go... But when I looked at the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act later on it was listed there.

No real surprise they were recommending that I file for bankruptcy. After all I am now unemployed and even when I was working I was losing money every month. But it's not like you just file for bankruptcy and wipe the slate clean. I can't afford to pay my bills (and am now behind on a few credit cards and my student loan) but I can't afford consolidation or bankruptcy. Bankruptcy costs $1800 in total so $180 month. They said that they would work with me as far as payments go at the moment but I would still have to make up those payments for it to be discharged. More importantly then the cost is how long it stays with you. For 9 months my credit report would show an undischarged bankruptcy and then it would stay on my credit for 7-10 years. Now it's not as bad as it once was... You can get pre-paid credit cards if you do need a credit card for something... or a secured credit card. But it's still bad. This one comes into play more because I am job hunting at the moment.... It also impacts your ability to be bonded. Sure I would pass the criminal check and there is nothing in my background about fraud or anything but the bankruptcy could hurt me... Just think about all the jobs that involve handling money that I would have difficulty getting: Banks, Retail, Call Centres... most jobs that I can think of. So if I am going to do it then I want to make sure I either have a job or am going to be waiting and hoping that my most recent job does recall us. Obviously not an easy decision but I need to do something.

I am supposed to meet with the trustee in a week or so. I will definitely be finding out if they are aware of the recent changes in regards to student loans and if they are not fighting to have my student loans discharged then I will not be making use of their services. I am also going to touch base with them about the issue of bondability. Then I will actually make a decision.

*NOTE: While the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act does say that the student loan would be automatically discharged after 7 years every creditor has the right to oppose the discharge and can claim that you did not make a reasonable effort to make a proposal. And from what I havve heard that is exactly what is happening. They challenge the discharge and will then prolong the length of time you are bankrupt for AND the student loan may not be discharged at all.

Highs and Lows

I currently feel like I am bipolar. I am not but emotions are running high so it seems to be going from one extreme to the other. At first the thought of losing my job was actually a good thing. There are still a lot of positive aspects to it but as reality set in it was accompanied by a depression. I applied for a couple of jobs and my mood improved. I had a glimmer of hope. Then there was a crashing low as I did not hear back within a few days and was also facing the fact I had no idea how I was going to pay rent in July. Back to the high as I sold off my TV shows and liquidated my CD collection and made enough to pay my rent. Another high when I got a call back from one of the jobs... although I was still reserved on that one as it was with my former company. Things were looking good until today when I got a call from them. Yesterday they said I needed to complete an online assessment and then my information would be forwarded to the local office to set up an interview. But today they said they had all the information they needed and if anything else was needed they would contact me. Sounds a little ominous and like they took a second look at the application and decided not to pursue it. Now I don't know that for sure... but the high from yesterday has been replaced with anxiety and another low. I really want this roller coaster to end and just to go back to work.

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