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  • Research Topic

    November 1st, 2009 she Posted in Learning & Education   No Comments »  

    Once again I’m enrolled in a class that makes me feel like an idiot. It’s like taking Stats class all over again – this time without the math. Oddly enough, I remember enjoying Poli Sci classes a decade ago. I must be getting more selective in my old age. Selective. What a polite way to say short attention span, lack of interest, and closed minded.

    I do, however, like the research paper topic I’ve been assigned for the class: Does globalization improve living standards in developing countries, such as China, at the expense of reducing living standards in developed countries? Unlike the first few topics we’ve been reviewing this one does hold my interest. Guess I better start searching the library databases for appropriate readings. End of semester is just around the corner.

    I’ve registered for one of my last mandatory classes for the Winter semester. It doesn’t begin until January and I’m already dreading it. I just don’t have sufficient background knowledge to successfully complete a 4th year course on warfare and tactics. I was hoping to get into the 2nd year survey course on the topic this semester but the application was denied based on the course not fitting with my program of study. Blech! The second year into course I could use doesn’t fit in my program of study but the 4th year course is mandatory? It’s a rare day when I regret my choice of university but it has been happening more and more often of late.

    At least I’ll be done in Dec. 2010. I think. Keep your fingers and toes crossed for me.

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    Doubting my sanity

    September 2nd, 2009 she Posted in It's a Living, Learning & Education   1 Comment »  

    I must be crazy.

    I’ve registered for three classes this semester. Obviously I’ve learned nothing from my experience last semester and am doomed to repeat the experience. Panic. Stress. Too many papers. Not enough me time.

    I’m still deluded enough to think that school is the perfect way to spend my time while Drew’s away (And back. Then away again). What better way to fill up my time than to work through a bunch of 4th year classes like a maniac? Since I no longer need to complete a degree in order to convince the powers that be that I have a clue what I’m doing in the workplace, I need to tell myself something to motivate me through ’til completion. 

    If that weren’t enough, I’ve signed myself up for two back-to-back weekend classes at the college I used to work at. Bye-bye Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I might as well get used to the loss immediately so I don’t feel like it’s snuck up on me while I wasn’t paying attention this semester.

    Why did I think I could manage this? Well, for starters the weekend classes are running over the first two weekends of my university courses. I figure that’s the only time that my work load will be low enough for me to give up an entire weekend. I won’t have any papers due and I’m delusional enough to think I’ll get my reading and weekly assignments done during the work week.

    Secondly, for the first time in years I don’t work in a job where I have to work crazy OT hours in order to pull-off a project committment at the last minute. No more mad dash heroics that, in reality, benefits my employer greatly and me least of all.

    And, of course, it wouldn’t hurt for me to get a better understanding of some of the software I use now. At the moment I stumble my way through editing existing Flash files. What I’d really like to be able to do is develop basic interactions on my own without having to spend hours digging through help files and watching tutorials. Since I just spent a minor fortune and gifted myself with a (student) copy of Adobe’s eLearning Suite I better get off my tush and start taking classes to ensure I can do more than just flounder around in Flash and Photoshop. If all goes well, I’ll take a class in Illustrator through work next month as well. 

    Just call me crazy.

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    Salt in the wound

    July 14th, 2009 she Posted in Learning & Education   2 Comments »  

    Got my final paper in Experimental Psych back today and somehow managed to pull off an A. It’s a tad bit bitter sweet considering my poor performance on my exams yesterday.

    School’s done for the semester. There’s nothing to do but wait until te final marks are in.

    Here’s hoping my performance is better next semester when I get to watch my head explode as I try to juggle Ethics, International Relations, & Leadership type classes.

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    Eep!

    July 12th, 2009 she Posted in Learning & Education   No Comments »  

    Final paper for Experimental Psych submitted. Taking day off work tomorrow to write two exams. Then sweet freedom until September. Here’s hoping I don’t screw up on either exam too badly!

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    overwhelmed

    May 25th, 2009 she Posted in Learning & Education   No Comments »  

    Am quite (mentally) exhausted and it’s only the beginning of the week. My calendar tells me I’ve six weeks left in my current courses and five more papers to complete. Then I have to write both exams on the same day. *shudder* I guess I know what I’ll be doing every evening and all weekends for the foreseeable future.

    It’s a week late but my final grade is in for my Mil Psych course. I managed to pull off an A- despite not recognizing anything at all on the exam. Ok. I admit. It couldn’t have been that bad since I’d have had to have managed a B- on the exam itself to pull off the final grade I did. I just don’t seem to do well on exams. It’s like my mind is a chalkboard and the slate was wiped clean a few minutes before I sit down to write. Very little looks familiar on exams. And yet I manage to do well on papers and assignments…apparently my “off-the-cuff BS” writing skills continue to improve with age and experience.

    Because I’m a glutton for punishment I’m signing up for three courses again next semester. There’s a number of classes that I need to graduate that are only offered once every two years. If I don’t take all of them next semester my graduation date will be pushed back by a year. Not something I want to contemplate. So, once more I’m going to subject everyone to listening to me whine and complain about how difficult it is to balance full-time work and part-time school. I really shouldn’t whine so much since thousands of other adults manage to slog through school in much the same manner each year.

    Who am I kidding? I’ll be whining away full-bore until I manage to complete my Master’s degree many decades from now…

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    Saving Private Ryan revisited

    March 30th, 2009 she Posted in Learning & Education, Those Who Volunteered   No Comments »  

    Drew and I saw Saving Private Ryan (SPR) when it first was released in theatres many years ago. At the time I thought the cinematography and direction were amazing but I wasn’t that impressed with Tom Hanks’ acting. On the heels of Philadelphia and Forrest Gump, it seemed to me at the time that Hanks was just wandering aimlessly through SPR and was capable of so much more.

    I recall being annoyed when Hanks was nominated for an Oscar for the performance. At the time, I’d felt he received the nomination not because of his work, but simply because of who he was. I didn’t have the appropriate context to understand just how nuanced his performance was at the time.

    Years passed and I never felt the urge to see the movie again. There exists a number of powerful, well acted movies – each outstanding examples on their own merit – that I believe it’s important to watch at least once. After that I rarely have any desire to watch them again. Large chunks are permanently imprinted on the brain. Movies such as Bastard Out Of Carolina and Schindler’s List come to mind.

    I’ve always considered SPR to be one of those movies because of it’s vivid and frank portrayals of the brutality and often senselessness of war – even if the ultimate cause is considered to be of benefit for the greater good. Unlike many Hollywood war movies, SPR (and, to a degree, Platoon) doesn’t have a shiny happy ending. Even in survival there is a continual sense of loss and conflict. Of wounds that haunt and may never heal.

    This semester I’ve spent significant time studying stress, fatigue, combat stress reactions (CSR) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in my Mil Psych class.

    This has provided me with a new context in which to view the acting in SPR. It is as if I’d watched the film years ago without my glasses and now have seen it, for the first time, in all it’s bare and naked glory. Based on my readings and research Hanks, and many of the other actors in the film, provided realistic portrayals of both positive and negative elements of CSR – sometimes periodically, sometimes for the entire duration – in the film.

    Bravo Mr. Hanks et al.

    I now wonder if the cast members suffered some symptoms of trauma from their experiences? While any symptoms would be unlikely to be lasting as the actual “fear of death” associated with post-traumatic reactions, symptoms can be developed psychosomatically.

    Whatever the case for the actors, elements of the movie’s portrayal of battles and D-Day did have an impact on others who’d experienced war first hand. We know that many WWI and WWII vets, along with other service members, suffered flashbacks and re-newed trauma and required counceling post movie viewing.

    With context has come appreciation. Despite this new illumination, I think it’ll be another 10+ years before I watch the movie again.

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    Save and print

    March 26th, 2009 she Posted in Learning & Education   No Comments »  

    22 hours of solid work later and I’ve finally finished the first of two Stats assignments I need to submit before April 3rd.

    For anyone keeping track, this means I’ve finished and submitted two of six assignments or papers due on or before that illustrious date. Two of the remaining ones are short so I should be able to finish them by the end of the weekend.

    In celebration of this momentous occassion, I’m taking tomorrow off from school related activities. I have a tonne of errands to run tomorrow. Mostly dog related. They need to go to the groomers and I need to go pick up dog food. And at some point I need to drop my pants off at the tailor’s for shortening.

    I’ve already got my “day off” planned for next week. We’re having another Blogger’s breakfast next Thursday and they take up most of the day. As always, I’m really looking forward to spending time with “the girls”.

    I’ll likely spend what’s left of that day doing all my exit stuff at work. I have keys and such to return but don’t think I’ll manage to fit it in tomorrow. Far too many errands on the books as it is.

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    Dirty little secret

    March 25th, 2009 she Posted in Learning & Education, Random Burbling   2 Comments »  

    And no, I’m not writing about how I’d rather buy new socks and gitch instead of doing the laundry tonight. Yes, I can hear a song running around in my head ever since I typed the title. “I’m not Jesus” – Apoctalyptica – if you’re wondering.

    When I started my Stats class the prof told me I’d only need a basic calculator to complete the class assignments. Turns out my basic calculator is a little too basic and I need a simple scientific one.

    Ages ago mcpyper offered to lend me her son’s fancy scmantzy new graphing calculator. He needs it for his math classes in HS but isn’t taking math this semester. I decined the offer since (a) I didn’t want to have to pay for a replacement if the dogs decided it looked yummy, (b) I knew it was far more calculator than I’d need and, (c) I didn’t want to spend hours trying to learn how to use it just so I could finish my homework.

    I have a perfectly good calculator on my iPhone that does everything I need for class. There’s only one problem. I can’t bring my iPhone into my exam in a few months. I need to have an actual calculator and leave the iPhone at home.

    With that in mind I made a short trip to Staples this afternoon to pick up a basic scientific calculator. They had a tonne of them on sale for under $20 so I knew I wouldn’t have to shell out much to get one that would do what I needed. I looked for the function keys to fit my formulas and happily trotted home with my new purchase to read the manual.

    I can’t figure it out.

    I’ve spent hours reading the (extremely poorly) written instruction booklet and googling how to use it. Me. Who used to write step-by-step training manuals for software that I had to teach myself how to use first. I’m usually pretty good at following directions (as long as they don’t involve driving).

    I can’t seem to grasp anything this little manual has to impart. I keep re-reading it in the hopes that it’ll suddenly make sense. In between lengthy sessions of playing with the calculator. I’ve figured out all but one function through this “play until I get it right” method this evening.

    If Drew were home by now I would have flung the calculator into his lap and told him to teach me how to use it when he’d figured it out. After a lot of colourful swearing and stomping of the feet. He reads electrical wiring diagrams on a routine basis. He can likely figure this mess out!

    And it doesn’t hurt that Drew’s a wiz at math. He calculates crap in his head or looks at forumas and knows exactly what to do. Me, not so much.

    I had classes with some brilliant mathmeticians in school many years ago but in 99% of the cases they couldn’t teach worth crap! Sure, they could spout complex formulas and whip off math problems on a chalkboard but they couldn’t break things down to it’s simplest form so that those of us struggling could figure it out. It constantly amazes me that I got A’s and B’s in high level chemistry and physics all through HS but that barely passed gr. 11 and gr. 12 math. Mostly because those classes had some complex math formulas in them too – and somehow they all made sense at the time.

    When thoughts of HS math don’t make me spout smoke from my ears, it saddens me that because I somehow managed to squeak through HS math with passing grades (barely) – I was one of 8 of 32 students who passed my gr. 12 math class – I didn’t have the same opportunity my classmates did. They re-took the class with a different teacher and actually learned – or at least understood to some degree – what they were doing!

    But I digress.

    I’ve spent over six hours trying to figure out how to use this stupid calculator so I can complete one problem. And I’m feeling very stupid at the moment. Perhaps I should have kept my hair dyed red. Then maybe I’d glean some benefit from the “artificial intelligence” jokes.

    And know how to use this calculator by now…

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    psychological fatigue

    March 6th, 2009 she Posted in Friends & Family, Learning & Education   No Comments »  

    Me and the paper apparently. I’m busy writing a paper for my MilPsych class regarding psychological fatigue, its effects and mitigating factors. Sure, the paper is about continuous operations in a combat environment, but I’m more than willing to stretch and say I’m suffering from the effects today as well.

    I’ve been spending way too much time at the library in the evenings trying to get a handle on all my homework. I’m finally starting to understand Statistics – at least those associated with my class – but am not the greatest at memorizing formulas yet. At least I can seem to recognize some of them. I do know I’m NOT a fan of all the graphing and data entry in this class.

    A package from Drew arrived today and brightened my mood considerably. He included a cute little teddy bear, some T shirts, and a gorgeous carved wooden bowl.  Ooh, and a handwritten letter.  Downside of the package was that he also included some cans of pop with Arabic writing on them that froze and exploded some where en route. I’m busy doing laundry at the moment to ensure that the shirts aren’t permanently damaged or stained.

    Enough babbling.  Time to get back to my paper.  Due tonight and all that.  Needed this break though. One of the methods for combating psychological fatigue is a change in tasks and writing for my blog as opposed to writing a paper definitely constitutes a change.

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    Miscellany

    March 5th, 2009 she Posted in Frothing At The Bit, It's a Living, Learning & Education   No Comments »  

    Yeah I know. I missed a day. Life intervenes on occasion.

    Spent yesterday in a training class for a piece of software that I’ve been using for months. Didn’t learn anything new but certainly ended the day feeling dismissed, patronized, and condescended to by the Trainer. Checked with some other co-workers and found they felt the same way after the session. There was a clear bias (although, he categorization of people was unsupported by facts and based on his own unchecked assumptions) between the favoured group and the “others” and us “others” certainly noticed it.

    Big storm blew through Edm last night and now I get to dig out. Oh joy. Where’s a snow shoveling fairy when you need one?

    There’s an abandoned shopping cart on the sidewalk in front of my house. I am not amused. It makes shoveling difficult and looks like an eyesore. I have no idea who left it here. I didn’t check earlier but I’m going to see if the store name is listed on it so I can call tem to come retrieve their cart. I have no idea what I’m going to do if it doesn’t have any identifying marks on it or if the store refuses to come get it. All I know is that it can’t stay here.

    Got multiple papers due Friday evening so it’s time to buckle down and write like a madwoman. Don’t expect to see or hear from me over the next few days.

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