Friday, February 22, 2013

Bombs away!!

Well, hell week was last week. And here's the fallout:

History wasn't so bad. I had a quiz over federalists vs anti-federalists, and I got a 90 on that, we had our first test two days later and I got a 90 on that also. I really like this class so far.

I had an online test for my computer class that was just one big cluster. You're only allowed to get into this website that we do our grades on with Internet Explorer. So, I get into my test and take the first half which is just multiple choice questions and I go to to open the other half and... I get an error. I try to fix it, no dice. I get online with my brother who is a computer guy by trade and he can't fix it... Damn!

I think, "Hey, I've got my work computer!". I grab that and get it running and online. Go to the website... error. DAMN DAMN!

I think, well, the school is open, let's see what I can do there. I get there and the only part of the campus that's open is the public library. Get a pass and get on a computer, ERROR. WTF!

FINALLY I go to a friend's house and get on his computer and I figured out what my problem was. I was using Explorer 64-bit which doesn't work for this type of whatever it is that I use to take the test.

So, short story long, I got an 82 on that test.

Now, the elephant in the classroom... Algebra. I don't feel bad about the bomb of a grade I got, because I think I did about the class average on this one. I got such a bad grade, that I'm going back on my promise of full disclosure with whoever decides to read this. Suffice to say it's pretty close to my age. I'm also pretty sure that nobody in my class passed the test.

I did notice this week when we were in class that FIVE people did not show up. Almost positive they dropped.

But a good thing did come out of this. I think that the teacher realized he was doing something wrong and worked more examples, spoke a little slower, and asked US more questions than he has been before. Apparently one girl in my class (who looks like a tough cookie, pretty sure she could kick my ass if she had to) told the teacher before class, "You need to slow the hell down and explain things better." Looks like he listened.

As far as my grade in that class goes, I'm not incredibly worried about it. If I can grasp the new concepts (which I have been) I'll do fine. He is allowing us to use the grade on our final exam as a replacement for our lowest test grade. I had forgotten all about that but when he told us that in class the other day, I almost passed out from relief.

Life is rough right now. I have a ton of things going on at work, and the hours take a toll on me. Going home everyday and seeing my kid laugh and clap her hands when I walk through the door makes it all worth it. I'm thankful to her for making me get off my ass and do this with my life. She makes all my long days and nights worth it. It's her birthday this weekend and I'm looking forward to our little party and having some fun.

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

This Semester Sucks

So, it's been a few weeks. I haven't written much on here because I desperately wanted to give this semester and my teachers and classmates a chance. I've come to find out... most of them don't deserve it. I hate to sound so cynical, but I really can't stand being in two of the three classes that I actually have to attend every week. It's absolutely exhausting.

The one class I enjoy is History. Mr. History is friendly, incredibly personable (he's the only one I have this semester that knows my name) and knows his stuff. He's totally reasonable, but he'll let you know when you're out of line. He had to shut up some people talking in the back row last week. I felt like I was in high school. Although next week is going to suck in that class. I've got a quiz monday (quiz in this class = 1 page essay) and a test on Wednesday. (test in this class = 2-3 page essay) So, that should be fun.

Here's what I don't like about my other two classes that I attend:

Government: Oh man, I think I hate this class the most. The teacher is this crazy weird conspiracy theorist/tea party type guy. He has some of the craziest theories I've ever heard. Greatest hits include "The Soviet Union won the cold war" and "WWII didn't end until 1991." It's our right as citizens of this country to raise questions about the government and speak freely... HOWEVER...

He's teaching a class that has a bunch of 18-20 year olds in it that are pretty impressionable. In my humble opinion he should be teaching the material provided for the class and teaching it on an even keel with no agenda. As crazy and conservative as Dr. Government was last semester, this guy blows him out of the water. (there's nothing wrong with being conservative... I tend to lean that way on the spectrum. It's the conspiracy garbage I have a problem with).

The class is divided into three groups it seems like. There's people that don't know any better and are buying into his theories, the people that just don't care and sit there and chit chat, and the people that don't buy it, and are just there to get his notes and the information pertinent to the test. Well, there's also Sister John Denver who is totally up the teacher's ass, but whatever.

Also... our notes? Lord. Our notes are a list of vocabulary words and "facts and figures". F&F being what percent of Texans live in rural areas, or percent of people doing this or that, years things happened. He might as well just have us read the chapters in the book and discuss it in class without the conspiracy garbage.

As far as Algebra goes, man this guy is something. He works super fast and it seems like he is irritated by us asking questions. He is hell bent on trying to get through the theory of everything just to get to "here's the formula you need to know". Wow, you know how all of this came to be, we're super impressed.

I've spoken with some of the people I work with, one with a doctorate in mathematics, two guys with engineering degrees and I've described what he's doing in class. They have no idea why he is going this far on a freshman level course. It's ridiculous. I learn more from doing my homework with the online help that is available on the website we do our homework on. I need to work my butt off one weekend so I can get ahead of the game and so I'll know what this guy is teaching us each week.

Walking out of class this past week, I spoke with two of the people in that class and they were easily as confused as I was. Nobody gets this guy. It's going to be a harsh reflection on him once the final grades come around or if he gets completely crapped on in his course eval. And if there ever was a reason to do an eval, it's because of teachers like this. He needs to change his tune with the way he treats his classes if he's going to keep teaching.

Furthermore this was the teacher with the 10 minute rule where he supposedly locks the door. What really makes me mad about the situation this past week is that I asked him politely, and respectfully to keep the door unlocked in case my quiz went long a couple of weeks ago and he tried to give me a lesson on time management. The reason he doesn't want people walking in and out of class is that he doesn't want to be distracted.

This past week in class some girl I guess got tired of just standing out in the hallway making faces and trying to whisper to her friend in the front row, so she just WALKS INTO CLASS and has a seat, saying hi to everyone as she entered. SERIOUSLY? I was waiting for him to say something to her but he just said hello and kept on teaching. The whole class was watching her as she walked in and he just lets her in so she can come hang out with her buddy? What the hell is that?

I'm getting close to having to have a chat with this guy one day. It might not be pretty.

I'll be back on here soon enough. My week ahead is going to be great. I've got a test in my computer class that I have to take at home, a quiz Monday in history, a test Wednesday in history AS WELL AS a test Wednesday in algebra.

I did this to myself... but it'll be worth it... it'll be worth it... it'll be worth it...

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Totally forgot about this...

So, re-living my frustration with Mr. Math reminded me of something that happened before I started my last semester. I meant to write about this over the holiday, but I was having too much fun being out of school AND work.

I went in for my initial advising appointment. The lady was great, incredibly supportive and got me going with my GI benefits as well as giving me a copy of the course book that I somehow wasn't supposed to have. I go back to the advising office and meet with a lady that was about as personable as a 2 x 4. I told her I was having a hard time deciding what classes to start with and I could use some help.

Lady: "When during the day would you like to take classes?"
Me: "Evenings, I work during the day."
Lady: "How many hours a week do you work?"
Me: "Full time. Forty hours."
Lady: "How many semester hours are you wanting to take?"
Me: "Full time. Twelve hours."
Lady: "It's not going to work. People who think they can do that wind up not doing well."
Me: "...Great. Can we sign me up for classes?"

Had I said what I wanted to at that very moment, it wouldn't have been very nice. I'm not your typical student at this school. I'm not eighteen trying to save a few bucks on tuition and working my way through school. I'm old enough to manage my time wisely and get through school. I'm not out partying, or anything like that. Pretty sure I'm a grown up. She should change careers because after meeting me for ten minutes and figuring out what I'm capable of and weather or not I'm going to succeed at this thing is an amazing talent. I feel like her time is being wasted in the advising office of this little college.

And on her remark about people can't do it? My dad, my wife, several coworkers, my cousin and many MANY other people I know have pulled off the working/school thing. In your face.

I mentioned this to the veteran's advisor on campus between semesters when I went to check out things for this semester. I brought it up and she looked on her computer to see who I spoke with. This lady is super cool:

"Well, I'm sorry this happened. She should not have made this assumption about you. That situation she described does happen a lot with our younger students, but my veterans have a great success rate with similar situations to what you're going through. I'll bring it up to her directly, and at our next meeting that we do not need to lump people in as a whole, and we do need to take people on a case by case basis to ensure that we can accommodate them. I'm just glad that you didn't take her advice, and that you proved her wrong with your grades this semester. Keep up the good work."

That made me feel much better about that whole situation. I haven't seen that particular adviser again. I hope I don't. I might not be very polite...

Wednesday: More History and MATH.

So, back to history. Professor is still nice and friendly. Kid is still wearing his tail, douche is still a douche.

Sit in class and take some notes. He gives us an assignment to look up some events, we have a choice of The Great Awakening or Bacon's Rebellion and write a short essay in class as a quiz grade towards the end of class. No big deal. I think I can handle that.

So, history lets out and I make my way downstairs for Algebra. I'm a little nervous, because I have not been able to find ANYTHING on this teacher. I've checked to see what people are saying about my teachers and everything has been positive so far. This guy is nowhere to be found on any website or anything. Which leaves me wondering if this is a bad sign. Oh well, I didn't have a choice. I need to get this class out of the way.

We settle down and Mr. Math comes walking in. Young guy, probably about my age. He waits patiently for everyone to get in, and has us sign a sign in sheet. No big deal, not the first teacher to do this. As we're signing in, a blind gentlemen comes in with a helper that helps him get through his class. I think it's great that he's taking this on. Good for him!

After the sign in process, he wanted everyone to move up into the first few rows. Sitting in the row ahead of me is the blind man, and his helper. She tells him everything that is going on. Even though she is whispering, I have to listen through her to hear what's going on with the teacher. This might not work out.

So, we get our syllabus and I start reading ahead. You've got to be freaking kidding me. This isn't your typical classroom. Most people in here are better than 25 years old I'd say, and he's lined this out like we're fresh out of high school. Here are some highlights-

-You have ten minutes from his arrival time to get to class, after that he locks the door. (This is because it's distracting to him mainly, but also the other students)
-You must sign in and out of class (If you fail to sign out, you are absent)
-Your belongings must remain at the front of the classroom during exams.
-No make up tests
-You cannot use ipads or computers in class.

Regarding the arrival time, it raised a question, so I raised my hand.

Me: "So, the door is locked ten minutes after your arrival?"
Him: "That's correct."
Me: "Ok, I'm in another class before this one that ends at 6:50. If that class runs long and you get here at 6:45, I'm late if I show up right at 7?"
Him: "No, it'll be ten minutes after 7."
Me: "Ok, thanks."

So, we finish up with the syllabus and that's the end of class. Then I remember... oh crap, I have that quiz at the end of class next week. I'll email him in the morning and let him know I might have a time issue.

So, I write an email to him today. Asking him if I can move one row back, to avoid the distraction from the interpreter/helper lady for the blind guy (which he was fine with), and then I wrote this:

"Also- I do have a class prior to yours on Wednesday nights. Next week I have a quiz at the end of class and I'm hoping it does not run late. If it does, I would appreciate your consideration in letting me into class should I not make it quite on time."

I got this reply to that part of my email:

" I do remember you telling me that you leave class at 6:50pm and well my class starts at 7pm giving you a a 10 minute grace period, thus giving you 20 minutes to get to class.  Make sure you time yourself accordingly so that you do not arrive late (after the 10 minute) grace period.  Good luck on your exam."

Luckily, I didn't reply back to him immediately, or I might not be enrolled in his class anymore. Seriously? You're going to talk to me about time management? Pretty sure I've got that under control, friend. I'm not fresh out of high school, I'm 30, and I think I may have picked up the importance of being on time when I was in the Navy FOR FIVE YEARS.

Time myself accordingly? It takes less than one minute to get down the stairs from my other class and get down the hall to your room. I was trying to be respectful to his time rule, but I'm not going to sacrifice a grade in my other class just because this guy wants his class to start on time. If he didn't want me to take this remark as an insult, he shouldn't have made it sound so condescending. I'm not looking for a break, just for him to be reasonable and aware of my situation. It's not like I'm asking him to leave the door open so I can sleep in and show up whenever the hell I feel like it.

I'm debating if I should say something to him face to face, email him again, or just bide my time and mention this on his course evaluation. If I do the eval thing, I'm going to save the text that I put in the comments block and email it to him with a "by the way, this was me" email after finals are done.

Tuesday: Texas Government

Yes, I'm from Texas. No, we're not so stuck on ourselves that we think we have to have our own special government course. We've got our own toast, that's enough.

Government in college has been switched from two semesters of Government 1 and Government 2, to one semester of federal government and another of local and state government... and since this is the great state of Texas, it is named Texas Government.

So, this course is at campus #3 where I had music last semester, just in a different building. I get to class and there's a couple of people sitting around. No big deal. I take my usual seat next to the wall, third row back. Some lady comes in who knows one of the girls on the same row as me, but other side of the class. This lady is kinda short, pretty round and well... looks like John Denver's little sister. Glasses and all. This chick, is something else. Here are some things that were actually said-

"I think I want to go for a minor in political science. The president makes me so mad, I just want to punch him in the face"

"I don't see what the point of having a government class is when big brother is just telling the teachers what to teach."

"What does Michelle Obama do, anyway? The first lady always has an agenda, all she does is go shopping?"

Ok, fiirst, go ahead and try that and see how far you get, or rather how quickly you wind up with your ass in the slammer. Second, It's regulated by the state, not the federal government. Third, um, she's trying to get kids back into shape by eating properly and exercising. Something you might want to look into.

I'm sorry if that last comment seems rude, but I have no tolerance for people who make things up to try and steer people towards their own beliefs just for the sake of doing it. I appreciate that she wants to change things, and that's great! However, when you're ignorant (this happens on both ends of the spectrum, folks) and try and push your agenda, it makes you look bad.

Few more people filter in and some dude sits at the end of my row. No big deal. Then one of his buddies from last semester comes in and sits next to him, puts his backpack on the chair next to me and says, "This seat is saved." Wow, ok.

This guy is gay. Seriously, I'm not bashing or making fun of him, I'm stating a fact. He's talking to the other guy and says that over spring break he is going to some yoga school or something for the week. Here's the conversation that followed:

Dude: "Why are you going to that?"
Gay guy: "To expand my inner being."
Dude: "Sounds kinda gay."
Gay guy: "Thanks!"

So the person he was holding the seat for comes in and it's this bubbly chick who works at a health food store. I know this because she mentioned it like four times during the course of the class. She comes in with some food... effing SUSHI. Really? You're going to sit next to me and eat sushi in class? Effing kids man, I tell you...

Instructor comes in and holy crap. Normal looking guy but him and Sister John Denver over there are very like minded. He wants us to all fill out index cards with this long list of information. Name, phone number, address, email address, where we work, work phone, if we have a family at home, if we're a veteran... Here's what my card said.

My full name
My school email address
My phone number
Navy Vet

The only reason I put that I was a vet on there is because he mentioned that he was a former Chief in the Navy. Now, I believed him at first, but some of his ramblings don't quite add up. Maybe he WAS in the Navy, but I don't believe some of the things he was telling me. I'm going to investigate this further, and see what I can find out. I'm not going all investigative reporter on him, I just will ask him some questions to see what he says. I have the feeling he was a lower rank. He said he got out after his time in, he didn't want the pension, he just wanted to serve. I have a hard time swallowing that one.

This guy is something else. He is incredibly opinionated and sounds very conspiracy theory-y. I just made that word up, feel free to use it. There's no other way to describe it. I could have gone back and taken Dr. Government's class, but I hated his test structure and really felt no use in memorizing verbatim all of my notes just to spew them back onto the paper and forget it all the next morning. I could have stayed with a known evil, but I chose to go to a different one. C'est la vie.

Hopefully this class gets a little more serious next week. There were three conversations going on at any given moment which caused my ADD to spiral out of control. I might move to the front of the class just so I can get the information I need to study with.

Holy crap this is going to be a long semester.

First Day Back: US History I

Well, here it is. The first day of the rest of this semester... or something like that. I'm back at campus number one, but a bit earlier this semester. Since this campus is much closer to where I work, I will just leave work and hang out there since my class starts at five. Makes no sense to go home, I'd just have to turn around as soon as I pull up in the driveway.

So I get there and find a seat next to the window and play my favorite new game on my phone. (Hill Climber. Look it up, it's tons of fun.) After waiting and having a soda, I get to my classroom. I even saw Mr. Geography from last semester on the way there. He's in the same classroom this semester.

I get in, and it's just the instructor. Nice enough guy, has a voice that sounds like a radio DJ. We talk for a second and he teaches history at the high school around the corner from my house, which is one of the other high schools in the district I went through. Sitting there and people start to filter in. Why is everyone so late, it's like ten after five!

Turns out... class starts at 5:30, not 5:00. Awesome. Well, at least I'll have some quiet time twice a week to study or catch up on homework should I get behind somewhere.

So, sitting in class and another kid comes in... probably fresh out of high school, the kid is kind of chubby. I notice he's wearing a red dog collar with a tag on it. Ooookkk... whatever dude. Then, he turns to find a seat and the kid is wearing a bright orange fluffy tail. What the... ok. I'm not sure what that's about, but hey, whatever floats his boat. One day, I'm going to wind up asking him what this is all about.

The class winds up being absolutely PACKED. Full house of 32 students. The guy sitting next to me is sort of a douche. Reeks of Abercrombie cologne (Yes, THAT cologne.), and is wearing a short sleeve shirt when it's about forty degrees outside. This was probably by design so that he could show off the asian symbol tattooed on his arm. He probably thinks it means 'strength' or 'power' or something along those lines. I'd be willing to bet it means 'princess' or something. You laugh, this happened to a friend of mine.

We cover a few things and are out of there on time It's just an hour and a half of class, I have it twice a week. Traffic on the way home is BULL at 7pm. Freaking Houston...

Work tomorrow, then Government.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Been a while!

Hi people! Been a while, I know. The semester ended and I was off of work for quite a while, so  I took the time to relax, hang out with my wife and baby girl and do the whole Christmas and New Years thing with the family. It was a very nice break. I'm back at work now, and I have one more week of "easy street" and just having to worry about work before school starts again in a little over a week.

Here's the "report card"-
Geography- A
Government- B
English- B
Music Appreciation- C

A freaking C!!! WTF, MAN!?

Got in touch with the guy after my grades posted online and apparently my essay for my final wasn't up to par, and neither was my journal that I have to write in and discuss all of the music I was listening to for the class. Whatever. C's transfer and it's a BS class. I got D's on those two grades, and with the final weighing so much, it drug me down. I'm not saying he was wrong for giving me the grade he did, he has his reasons. In other words, I earned that C, he didn't "give me" a C. I'll move on to the next semester and focus on what has to be done.

Speaking of next semester, I got registered this morning and well, my schedule could be WORSE I suppose. Monday I have US History I (Everything up until 1877, I think?)
Tuesday is Texas Government. They broke up government from just being two semesters that explain everything to one semester that does federal and the other to do state and local.
Wednesday is the second half of my week in History and it's also... COLLEGE ALGEBRA! That's the gorilla in the room this semester. Hopefully I can manage it, I think I'll be ok.

I'm also doing into to computers as an online class. The adviser took it and said it's simple, so did someone in my office actually. It's just Microsoft Office. The teacher will email assignments and say I need these pages done by such date. You go to those pages and it tells you step by step how to create the document they want. Easy-peasy. Watch though, I'll get a C in that class like I did my "easy class" for last semester.

Be back when I have my first days in my new classes, hope you all had a great holiday and a good start to your new year.