January 22, 2009

Hi y'all

Nope, I'm not dead. Yes, it's been almost two years.

I spent some time uneployed in 2007, while accidentally signing up for the 9-month do-it-yourself version of Biology 1009. I totally dropped the ball. In early 2008 I petitioned for an extension: I totally dropped that ball too.

I took a break last fall, and now in early 2009 I'm re-taking Biology 1009 as an evening course.

We'll see if I drop this ball too. Hope not.

Meanwhile my blogging, not just here, but on my main site, has pretty much dried up. A lot of that is because my contract last year at Best Buy ate all my time (but was very lucrative). My new position seems to be rather lower stress, so I'm hoping I can get back to some writing. But of course, there's class...

February 17, 2007

Researching research

What's this? I'm at the University taking a course in how to use a tool called RefWorks, an apparently-ubiquitous library reference resource. One of the tools that we use with RefWorks is the University's OneSearch tool, which has a "post this reference to your blog" link, which creates entries like this one below...

The man of gold

Author: Barker Muhammad Abd-al-Rahman. M
Date: 1984

I'm working on my research paper on the works of M. A. R. Barker, so that's why there's that particular link.

The link itself is kind of pointless, since the item is not available electronically...

This looks like one of those ventures where I could spend weeks just digging around in these research tools!

January 25, 2007

Two Classes

Okay, we're back.

Well, "we" in the sense that "I" am back.

Got two classes this semester: BIOL 1009 General Biology, IDL or "work at home," and PIL 3251 - How to Do a Project or something like that.

The Biology textbook was $99 in the bookstore, despite being two editions out of date. I dunno, maybe that counts as "antique" in the textbook industry, a trade that ranks right up there with real-estate flipping and used-car sales for integrity and class. Through some fluke, I stumbled across a copy for $9.99 including shipping over the internet (precisely: Textbooks.com.) It arrived yesterday, sans CD, but I don't think that matters. Since I'm presently out of work, that's a welcome savings.

Continue reading "Two Classes" »

November 14, 2006

Register for Spring?

I'm feeling the strain now. Work, which was nearly idle for the last year, has heated up to stupid levels over the past month. Time has accelerated correspondingly, leaving me in the unenviable position of not having my Degree Program done yet, to say nothing of obtaining an faculty adviser.

Spent the last week and a half working very hard on the degree program, whenever time permitted, and despite that I don't have it done today as I had desired. I had hoped to meet with my academic advisor by now or at least to have sent her my degree program already, and be in a position to start contacting faculty advisers starting tomorrow. That would have given me two weeks to find someone before next class.

Instead my academic adviser is out of town next week, meaning that it's really unlikely I'm going to have my degree program done in time. Panic time!!

Continue reading "Register for Spring?" »

November 8, 2006

Learning Journal Assignment

Describe a transitional life experience that was discomforting, disquieting, or puzzling for you.

The day I discovered that I was not really cynical.

The Claus that RefreshesI thought I was a cynic. I thought I was tough. I thought I was a hardbitten realist, a skeptic, a doubter. A man with a steely-eyed gaze that pierced life's illusions and laid bare the reality, however ugly. Like a couple in a bad marriage, life and I had come to an arrangement: life would deal me the truth and I'd play the cards I got no matter how mixed the metaphor.

And then one day life told me something I wasn't ready to hear, a truth I wasn't ready to handle.

One day I found out that Santa Claus wears red and white because he's pushing Coca-Cola.

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Good News Bad News

Well, the good news is that the elections went well yesterday, and with the exception of a couple of inexplicable election results (Hello? Forget Pawlenty: who in their right mind would vote for that freakshow Bachmann?) it has been a very nice slap upside the head for the Bush Administration. It will be interesting to see how they rationalize the situation. Maybe Fox News will blame it all on alien mind-control rays.

While that's the good news, the bad news is, no, I have made essentially NO progress on my Degree Program. My good intentions of Sunday ran into harsh realities, and work has only gotten worse, so here I sit two hours before class and all I've managed to do is the readings, and hopefully here I'll print out my journals.

Continue reading "Good News Bad News" »

November 5, 2006


You know where I said that work was heating up and National Novel Writing Month was upon us.

Well, so much for National Novel Writing Month.

I gave it a try, and I'll keep writing I guess, but 50,000 words in one month ain't gonna happen.

Most of this is due to work, some due to schoolwork also taking precedence.

Unfortunately I haven't gotten a lot of schoolwork done either - been too busy just staying in place at work.

Continue reading "Yargh" »

October 25, 2006

Sticking a Toothpick in it

Well, I think I've by and large got the skeleton of my Degree Program worked out.

The primary criteria focuses on Computer Science, with the secondary on Mathematics. Outstanding in the depth criteria are the "change management" courses that I'm hoping to take as well as projects in prior learning.

The frustrating part of this has been trying to nail down what the minimums are... I mean, I don't want to play fast and loose with the system, but I DO want to graduate someday, and the more classes I take the longer that is. Fortunately we seem to have narrowed down the requirements to three business courses plus the two projects in prior learning, plus a couple of projects and courses to flesh out the Liberal Arts prerequisites.

Continue reading "Sticking a Toothpick in it" »

October 15, 2006

Slogging and Blogging

So I'm getting there slowly with this Degree Planning process. I've finally figured out all the whys and wherefores to determine that I have several prerequisites to cover: Biology, the Enviroment, Cultural Diversity, and Creation of Meaning. My "Citizenship and Public Ethics" requirement is covered by my old "Perspectives on Computing and Society" class, and my "International Perspectives" requirement is covered, oddly enough, by my introductory theater course from 1980. Whatever: I'll take it!

In reviewing the requirements, I noticed that the description of the "Creation of Meaning" requirement sounds an awful lot like the description of my "Mitlanyal" books. So I sent an e-mail off to my course instructor asking if a pair of books on a fictional culture might count as "Creation of Meaning." My fingers are crossed, because that would leave me needing merely to take a single Biology/Environment course in order to complete my prerequisites.

Continue reading "Slogging and Blogging" »

October 4, 2006

Another Week

Oh man, you can tell that summer is over, and all vestiges of vacationism have left the world. Time has once again accelerated up to frame-rattling speed, and weeks have resumed passing like days. It seems only yesterday that I left class, determined to complete, or at least begin, my homework prior to the upcoming Wednesday.

Which is today.

To be fair, I have spent some time on it. In particular, I've been working on collecting scattered credits from various places where I did not realize they had gone. At Anoka-Ramsey Community College, which I attended once or twice during the Reagan and Carter administrations, I found five credits that I did not remember taking, bringing my total number of undergraduate semester credits above 100. And I searched, possibly in vain, for credits that I had hidden in the Extension College at the University of Minnesota back in the 80's, when I was trying to conceal from the Institute of Technology the fact that I couldn't for the life of me pass Calculus II.

Continue reading "Another Week" »

October 1, 2006

Old Ghosts and Demons

It's October, the month of Hallowe'en and the spooks and spectres of the past. I sit here in my dining room, working here rather than in my office in order that I concentrate on my assignments rather than get distracted by the six million other projects which have representation in my office. And while an unusually sunny-and-warm 80-degree day, one we might have called "Indian Summer" in a less politically correct time, progresses in the yard beyond the window I struggle to make sense of my class and what I'm trying to accomplish here.

So far I understand the need to build my degree program, and I even understand the "Area of Depth" and the "Area of Breadth" and all that. What I don't understand is where to begin in this process today, and also how to distribute my old classwork across the requirements tables.

So I sit and try to read through the various hand-outs, and the returned homework, trying to piece these things together into a coherent set of requirements, and I run smack dab into my old study-habit demons and ghosts.

Continue reading "Old Ghosts and Demons" »

September 26, 2006

Argh! Booklarnin'!

Well, here I am, right back where I started. Our assignment this week included a lot of reading, one element of which was to read pages 3-33 of The Craft of Research.

Now, right off, I'm put off by the name. I'm just trying to be honest here, so this only reflects on me, really, not the book or the authors. But "The Craft of Research" sounds likely to be as dull as death. Nonetheless, starting Thursday of last week, I start carrying it around, trying to get myself to read it.

My eyes skate off the words in the book like Lance Armstrong hitting black ice on a curve.

Continue reading "Argh! Booklarnin'!" »

September 14, 2006

Mailing List

I set up a mailing list for the class today. So far nobody's used it, so hopefully it's not broken, but I included enough contact info in the initial message that someone ought to be able to reach me if they have a problem.

I was starving during the second class. Since I had, as usual, left my homework to the last minute, I ended up having to print it off, and then rush to class with only a moment to grab some food. While most of Minneapolis seems to be crawing with fast food joints, the center of the U of MN campus is surprisingly devoid of commercial food outlets. I didn't want to buy absolute horror-food from the vending machines, so I was forced to stop (and lock up my bike, etc.) at Coffman Union to buy something in the store downstairs. Of course there was a line.

But I got to class okay, and actually ahead of a couple of other people, despite drifting in five minutes late.

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September 13, 2006

Oh look, it's Movable Type

I use Movable Type for my own blog software, so it should be easy to use this. Technologically, at least. Now the question is, can I actually remember to post anything here, and can I remember where it is when I want to do so?

Had my first class last Wednesday, and one of the homework assignments is to keep a "class journal." I toyed with using my own blog for this, and I suppose I could, or still may, but I was curious about what the U has to offer, so what the heck.

Continue reading "Oh look, it's Movable Type" »