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General Update

It has been some time since I post­ed much here, so I fig­ure that I should do a bit of an update. It isn’t as if any­thing has changed in any big way. Sam has the same nice and sta­ble job, and we’re still very hap­pi­ly togeth­er after — oh, wow, it’s twelve years this month.

Katie is a col­lege stu­dent now, and still liv­ing at home (I’m very hap­py about that!) since she decid­ed to attend a local school. Her health issues haven’t gone away, but she’s try­ing so very hard — I wor­ry about her con­stant­ly. She push­es and push­es until she col­laps­es every day and at the end of every week. She has a very active social life (what do you expect? she’s a babe!), and hap­pi­ly she has a great group of friends who are sup­port­ive about help­ing her get to class when nei­ther she nor I drive. 

One of the class­es she was sup­posed to take (French) was can­celed due to inad­e­quate enroll­ment. She was ter­ri­bly unhap­py, and I was a lit­tle dis­ap­point­ed because I was look­ing for­ward to help­ing her with the sub­ject. On the oth­er hand, it was an 8am class, and with­out it her ear­li­est class is much lat­er in the day. I think it worked out for the best for this semester.

I’ve had anoth­er nui­sance come up with my own health, too. Annoy­ing bod­ies. They’re great when you want to taste choco­late, hug some­one, smell flow­ers, etc. but I have some com­plains about a few design flaws. 

That’s enough for tonight. Tomor­row: More about Art!

School & More Reading

Reg­is­tra­tion clos­es tomor­row, so I have to decide before the end of the day whether or not I’m tak­ing class­es for sum­mer semes­ter or not. Bah. I want a break, but if I’m not in school my stu­dent loans come out of deferment.

I’ve been read­ing – and lov­ing–Patri­cia Brig­gs’ Mer­cy Thomp­son books. They’re a lot of fun, so I’m push­ing them at Sam, too.

Brig­gs has some amus­ing infor­ma­tion on her site about sil­ver bul­lets, includ­ing a reprint (with per­mis­sion, of course) of an old Gun World arti­cle, Long Ranger, Go Away!

Blah

That’s pret­ty much my opinoin today. Blah. Blah blah blah. I couldn’t wake up enough to dri­ve safe­ly, so I missed an appoint­ment that will take months to reschedule.

For every assign­ment we do in the tech writ­ing course I’m tak­ing, we turn in a rough draft and receive two peer reviews and feed­back from the instruc­tor before doing the final draft. I got the two peer reviews this morn­ing from the assign­ment I turned in on Sun­day, and they were ridicu­lous. Seri­ous­ly – both reviews were full of non­sense like, “your sub­mis­sion wasn’t dou­ble-spaced” (that’s because the instruc­tions said to sin­gle space it, doo­fus) or “there aren’t dou­ble spaces between the para­graphs” (yes, there are – I dou­ble-checked) or “you have to spell it ‘co-hous­ing’” (not when the author­i­ties in the field spell the word ‘cohous­ing’ kid).

They get grad­ed on their peer reviews, as I’ve been on mine, so hope­ful­ly they’ll get sucky grades. I got count­ed down on one of the first ones I did because I wasn’t harsh enough. Yes, that person’s piece need­ed a lot of work, and I could have ripped it to shreds. I was try­ing to stay “con­ge­nial” as instruct­ed. My true thoughts were more along the lines of, “Why are you in this course? Only TCOM majors need to take it, and oh please $deity do NOT tell me you’re major­ing in TCOM when you can hard­ly write a read­able sen­tence.” That wouldn’t have been con­ge­nial, would it?

The idea behind the peer reviews is that most tech­ni­cal com­mu­ni­ca­tors work in teams now, so we have to get used to giv­ing each oth­er con­struc­tive crit­i­cism and accept­ing the same. I can han­dle that. I don’t, how­ev­er, see why peo­ple who can’t man­age to sort out “there” and “their,” or who don’t under­stand that an apos­tro­phe does not mean HERE COMES AN “S” are even per­mit­ted in the course. They’re all sup­posed to have passed the basic Eng­lish cours­es before tak­ing any­thing in the TCOM depart­ment, but obvi­ous­ly “pass­ing” and “mas­ter­ing the mate­r­i­al” are not close­ly relat­ed concepts.

Diane Duane Rocks

The Sword and the DragonBack when the Meisha Merlin warehouse was being cleaned out, Sam picked up a copy of The Sword and the Dragon, first volume of the Epic Tales of the Five by Diane Duane that MM put out. It contains The Door Into Fire and The Door Into Shadow.

The Door Into FireI've wanted my own copies of the first three Tales of the Five books for decades, since reading an old friend's copies. I'm still disappointed that MM never put out the next volume, which should have included The Door Into Sunset and the never-before-published The Door Into Starlight. But then, there are other people who have far more reason to be disappointed about MM matters than I do, so I can't fuss too much. And I have this volume, and will continue to hold out hope that Duane will find a new publisher who will bring out the others sometime in my lifetime.

The Door Into ShadowAnyway, I had to stop reading to show this bit to Sam. It sums up much of what I love about Duane's philosophy.

…death is inevitable. But we have one power, as men and beasts and creatures of other planes. We can slow down the Death, we can die hard, and help all the worlds die hard. To live with vigor, to love powerfully and without caring whether we're loved back, to let loose building and teaching and healing and all the arts that try to slow down the great Death. Especially joy, just joy itself. A joy flares bright and goes out like the stars that fall, but the little flare it makes slows down the great Death ever so slightly. That's a triumph, that it can be slowed down at all, and by such a simple thing.

The Door Into Sunset

Cohousing?

I’m work­ing on my final project for the tech­ni­cal writ­ing course, which is a com­par­i­son of cohous­ing devel­op­ments to sin­gle-fam­i­ly and more tra­di­tion­al mul­ti-fam­i­ly hous­ing. I’m find­ing it dif­fi­cult to find any of the books I want to use as ref­er­ences in the library (school or two coun­ties). Do any of you who are local hap­pen to have books on the sub­ject? Copies of Com­mu­ni­ties mag­a­zine, maybe? I’d appre­ci­ate a chance to look at such things rather than need­ing to buy them via Amazon!

School Happy

I final­ly got the grades from the first tech­ni­cal writ­ing assign­ment I turned in last week, and the peer reviews I did on two of my class­mates’ rough drafts. I got full points for all of them!

I was wor­ried about one of the peer reviews, because the per­son chose to do a set of instruc­tions for start­ing to cross-stitch. I know too much about that top­ic to eval­u­ate it well from a beginner’s point of view, and that was the intend­ed audi­ence. I actu­al­ly approached the pro­fes­sor with some ques­tions, and won­dered if I should swap reviews with some­one new to stitch­ing. Hap­pi­ly, the pro­fes­sor said I pro­vid­ed a bal­anced review that reflect­ed my expe­ri­ences as a for­mer begin­ner and cur­rent­ly expe­ri­enced stitch­er, and that I was respect­ful through­out. I was try­ing very, very hard to avoid any hint of con­de­scen­sion, and it appears that it worked!

My top­ic was “Cre­at­ing Your First Pod­cast,” and that received full points, too. It had to be done with a Flesch–Kincaid Grade Lev­el less than 8th grade, which was not easy. I got it down to 7th grade, and couldn’t go any low­er. The pro­fes­sor said that was due to the tech­ni­cal terms I had to use, and was per­fect­ly acceptable.

Weekend and School Update

The girl and Sam both had busy weekends. Katie went out Friday and Saturday, playing D&D with friends first, then going to a party with her sweetie during my and Sam's date Saturday night. Sam had a computer to deliver Saturday morning, then ran around picking up some things. He went out again yesterday, to the library for me and to the grocery store and the farmer's market and I'm not even sure where else. Then he did an intervew for his podcast last night.

This is the last week of my classes for the semester, so I did a paper for one class and created my slides for a group project presentation in the other, then had a couple of quizzes. Monday night we do our presentation online, and see the other groups' presentations. That class doesn't have a final, but I do have to take the final for the management class, then I'm done.

Next week I start a class everybody is apparently supposed to take around the beginning of their studies, since one of the assignments involves creating a "plan of study." DeVry seems to have a lot of these "because we said so" classes, which is annoying. I'm also taking my first technical writing course at DeVry, though. It will involve more group projects, a bane of my existence.

It's one thing to work together in a business setting, where people's jobs depend on their performance. It's quite another to be yoked with people who just can't be arsed to pull their weight and apparently think Bs are high grades. I'm absolutely appalled by the number of people in the 400-level classes I had this semester who cannot create a coherent paragraph, much less write a paper.

I had the required "write a research paper" class over 20 years ago, at another school. Either the standards have fallen horribly, or Mercer had higher standards than I realized. (I won't even bother comparing Agnes Scott's standards to DeVry. It's too painful.) Of course, if either of those schools had remedial courses of any sort, I was unaware of them. Those "teach you what you should have learned in middle school" classes are a fact of life in all the University system schools and DeVry. I know that there were some when I took classes at Georgia Perimeter so many years ago, but they seem to be more and more important now. I honestly don't think they belong in any institution of "higher learning." If you can't read, write, and do basic math before you get to college, you have no business being there, because you do not have the essential tools required for success. I suppose that makes me an elitist.

It's going to be odd going back to 100 and 200 level courses next week. By the time most students do get to the 400-level courses, the true dregs have dropped out or risen out of that status. Threaded discussions are such a huge part of online classes that you get far more exposure to your classmates writing than in a face-to-face class, and you quickly find out who can't or won't write and who has no clue about how to discuss issues without degenerating into total nonsense. That part of this semester hasn't been as bad as others, at least. I did still run into nutcases insisting that this country was founded as a "Christian nation," but that's pretty much to be expected anymore.