Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Worst Week Ever!


For many of you who know me outside of this blog, you probably noticed that I have been withdrawn and moody as of late. This is because Wednesday 11/12 through Thursday 11/20 was quite possibly the WORST time-frame of my entire existence.

Where do I even begin? This going to be the longest post in history.

1) Wednesday 11/12: Well, you all know by now about Mr. Chesterfield. That kicked off the worst week ever in a big, big way. And his passing probably heightened all the sad, negative, angry, etc. feelings that were to come over me for the next seven days.

2) Thursday 11/13: In a meeting with my boss, I laid out a plan for the job goals for 2009 for both me and the department administrative assistant, who reports to me. Part of the plan involved a detailed table that I created which justified giving me a goddamn title promotion. I've been working at my job for nearly 6 years and I have the same title (Program Coordinator), which does not fully reflect all the programming work I actually do here. And I do a lot, believe me. So he was...let's say not very receptive to either of the titles that I proposed (Director of Academic Programming or Assistant Director of Programs), stating that I don't actually "do" any of the program things I outlined, but rather I "make suggestions" and he or someone else actually does it. This is an outright LIE. I. DO. FUCKING. EVERYTHING. And he knows it.

THEN, he has the audacity to say that my job was "to get him to pay attention to things that need to be done." No, sorry, pal. That is most certainly NOT my job. I was not hired to be your personal assistant. And you know what? All the times when I HAVE gone to him to either remind him or get him to move on something, he tells me to do it. SO...WTF?

The be-all, end-all was when he said that the Dean was planning on changing the titles for all people in our college under the Program Coordinator title. You want to know the title? You really don't. But I'll tell you anyway: Department Administrator. This is the WORST fucking title I can think of for someone with my job. It utterly negates ALL the work I do making the schedule of classes, interviewing seniors, advising undergrads, devising programs of study, registering students, etc., etc. Department Administrator sounds like all I do all day is order office supplies and sign travel-reimbursement forms. WRONG.

It goes without saying that my boss thinks this title is SUPER DUPER! Swell.

3) Friday 11/14: More crap. We have a few faculty applying for sabbatical next year. One of them teaches a course that is required for our majors and needs to be offered twice a year. Well, if this person gets sabbatical (which they will), then there is only ONE other faculty member who could possibly teach it. I asked them. They said no, not unless I pay them more. Nice. Way to serve the students, sporto.

Another faculty member told me that they went to a meeting to discuss adding more elective courses to our catalog. This is a great idea. However, one of the professors in the meeting, someone who I've mentioned before on this blog, who is THE biggest douchebag on the planet, pipes up and says, "We need to come up with a way to schedule these courses so that they don't conflict with one another and the students have a better chance of enrolling in them." Um, hello? Yeah, hi. THAT'S MY FUCKING JOB, YOU ASSHOLE. If I could tell you how many times I've tried to explain to this very same person all the reasons why we have to offer certain courses at certain times and during certain terms, it would make your head spin. They just DO NOT get it. Then they turn around and make a comment like that. As fat as I am, I have a hard time accepting that I am COMPLETELY INVISIBLE. No respect, none at all. Infuriating.

4) Friday 11/14 and Monday 11/17: The Fucking Associate Dean (FAD)
I swear to God, this moron has it out for me. Someday I am going to go all South Philly Italian on the FAD, I just know it. And it won't be pretty.

For the last several years, the FAD has been all over my ass about my department not offering enough courses for the students in our Liberal Arts college who are not directly department majors. And FAD picked an AWESOME week to start being a jerkoff about it once again. See, here's the deal: every winter my department has to offer a HUGE number of courses for one particular college---not my college. This has been our scheduling mandate for...let's see... forever. FAD knows this --- or SHOULD know this. Why should FAD know this? Because I've told FAD, oh, about 3947390467676689908040396767675890 x 10 to the 40th power times. That's why. Yet, FAD goes on and on about "we have a responsibility to meet the ever increasing demand of our own students in this college." This is 100% bullshit. I've been MORE than accommodating; they just want everything their way. I've added courses specifically for them in the fall and spring to try to cover this alleged demand. I've released the restriction on a course or 2 in the winter. The cold hard fact remains: the demand just isn't there. How do I know this? Because I did the FAD's fucking job and looked up all the information for myself. I took an hour and a half out of my morning on Friday to run the demand analysis reports for all of the courses in question from last year and this year and the numbers PROVE I AM RIGHT. Last year: There were 630 total seats in the courses. 683 students attempted to register. Well that means that 53 didn't get a seat, poor suckers. Out of ALL 630 students who DID get seats, 7 were students from my college. This is the group of students about which the FAD made our lives a living hell. "OMG BBQ! THE DEMAND!" SEVEN. Oh, but what about the 53 who couldn't get in? Surely those students were all from my college, right? WRONG. Two (2) were from my college. T.W.O. So...where is the demand? So, I'm supposed to open up 630 seats to every student in this college when there are a total of 9 trying to register? Um...NO.


5) Monday 11/17: Refinancing my home with some cash-out so I can make some repairs on my SHITTY-ASS HOUSE. OY VEY. This process literally made me break down and cry on Monday. This, compounded with the OTHER stress of Thursday & Friday nearly made me check myself into an institution. It's been the most stressful, time-consuming, aggravating process and it's not done yet. I think we're in the home stretch. Oh God, I hope.

6) Tuesday 11/18: I was home having insulation put into my attic because the second floor of my house was about 12 degrees cooler than the first floor --- one of those many home repairs I just mentioned. But I checked my work e-mail and was greeted with this:

Hi all,
Following up on an idea that I think was suggested at the last faculty meeting, I'm talking to people at tech support this afternoon about setting up a website for the dept majors. I guess my basic goal is to create at least a virtual community that could spill over into the real world... ideally, the students themselves will be the main participants.

Anyway, if any of you have ideas about the kinds of things you think could or should be a part of such a site, I'm glad to hear them.
Among things I'm already considering:

* a "corner" for Gina to convey administrative info
* a way for faculty to post announcements to students about events, jobs, etc., including off-campus events
* maybe some links related to career options for our majors
* a discussion board: I'm not sure if I/we would need to provide the threads, or if students would just start topics themselves (from the practical to the scholarly).
* a forum to help get the honor societies in relevant disciplines advertised and known; likewise for the various essay prizes, fellowships, etc.
* maybe if we can get the students organized enough... even to the point of having elected officers (!), the officers could use the site.


A. Retard

Well, I went ape shit. We already have this. It's called the goddamn departmental website, of which, I am the administrator (unfortunately). Can I tell you have many fucking times I've asked my faculty to give me information for the website? CAN I? Again, I am completely invisible. Whatever I do here, nobody notices or cares. You know what? Someday when I manage to leave this place, then they WILL notice it when it's NOT getting done. At least my boss agreed with me on this. And this was the ONE thing that actually got solved within hell week.

It bears pointing out that the faculty member who sent this e-mail to the department is the very same person who does not want their picture posted on our website or the dates of any of their degrees, or any of their syllabi because he/she is afraid of IDENTITY THEFT. O...k?

I work with freaks, I know.

7) Wednesday 11/19: 9:00 am I get a phone call from a professor in my department. This person is so angry with me that they can barely control themselves on the phone. The problem? I scheduled two of their classes with a 3-hour break in between them. Yeah. "How could you do this to me?! What am I supposed to do for 3 hours???? (I had a couple of truly AWESOME suggestions, but bit my tongue.) This is ridiculous! I haven't had a schedule this terrible in all my years teaching!!"

Sigh. Here's the real issue: every single fucking professor wants to teach 2 days a week at 11:00 am and 1:oo pm. It is IMPOSSIBLE to accommodate everyone teaching at the same time! Where are we supposed to put everyone? We're not the only department in the university. There are a limited number of classrooms available in any given time slot. Also? What about the students? If the majority of classes are offered all on the same days at the same times, what are they supposed to do? This is basic common sense. Why doesn't anyone get this?!? But, of course, no one gives a rat's ass about the students. It's all about "I HAVE TENURE!" They are big fucking babies.

I told the professor that it certainly wasn't personal and that they were NOT the only faculty to have an "extended" break between classes. Their ranting continued and then they hung up on me.


8) Wednesday 11/19: The Fucking Associate Dean strikes again.
This one instance could fill a book so I am going to do my best to keep it really brief. Suffice it to say that I missed a meeting that the FAD called about courses for special programs. I hate going to these meetings because at EVERY ONE, the FAD immediately hones in on me and my department and starts stirring up the bullshit. Basically, the FAD makes it look like I don't do my job, the department doesn't know what it's doing, and that we are uncooperative assholes. This is not the case, of course. But FAD obviously enjoys the opportunity to piss me off.

So, I told my boss that I wasn't going to this meeting. I explained my reasoning. After all the nonsense earlier in the week about the winter courses and the OMG WTF BBQ DEMAND DEMAND DEMAND, I just couldn't deal with more bullshit. I told my boss that I was sick and tired of being singled out in a meeting of 20 people and made to feel like an idiot. Plus, after the last few days I was in just the mood to start speaking my mind and that wouldn't have been good for anyone. My boss accepted my decision without hesitation or question.


Later that afternoon, my boss gets a call from FAD. FAD wants to talk to him. So my boss walks by my office and says, "FAD wants to talk to me. Apparently your absence at that meeting today did not go unnoticed." I just sighed. What-ever. About 20 minutes later my boss comes back and comes into my office and shuts the door. Jesus, this can't be good. He says, " guess this meeting was really important, I don't know. ...FAD called you 'defiant'. I just shrugged."

O_o. DEFIANT? Because I didn't go to some dumbass meeting? And since when is the FAD my goddamn boss? RAGE. I threw my arms up in the air and said, "SEE?!" First of all, it was never indicated that this was a MANDATORY meeting. Also? I did happen to have a student in my office just at the time the meeting convened. And they take priority anyway. So even if I didn't decide earlier that I wasn't going, I had 2 valid excuses for not attending anyway.

My theory? FAD was still PISSED as hell that I basically did their job with that demand analysis and that I e-mailed the results to both the FAD and my boss. Spreadsheets are a wonderful thing. So, I made FAD look like the incompetent asshole that he/she is, and they wanted retaliation.

Do you fucking believe this? I'm still incredulous.

9) Thursday 11/20: Assistant Dean advising my major. Observe:
AD: I'm talking to so and so, who is a freshman CRAP major in your department and you registered them for CRAP 101-01 in the winter.
ME: ...yeah?
AD: Well there is a time conflict with that course and a foreign-language course they want to take. So can he/she take another section of CRAP 101?
ME: No. Because it's a freshman and a CRAP major, they are required to take THAT CRAP 101-01, in the winter. The course is designed specifically for freshmen CRAP majors.


AD: But the student really wants to continue with the language....

I really wanted to say, "Yeah? Well I want 100 million dollars and a dozen corgis. BOO FUCKING HOO." I mean this student is a freshman. They JUST entered the university THIS fall. Do we really want them to be all off-track already? They will have plenty of time to take a foreign language, believe me.

ME: Well the only suggestions I can make are: that they either drop the language and take CRAP 101-01 now, like they're supposed to, or keep the language and the student has to wait until next year to take CRAP 101-01.
AD: ...and those are the ONLY options?
ME: Yeah, afraid so.
AD: SIGH. Well I guess I'll give the student those options then.

Yeah, you do that, jerkoff. Better yet, here's an idea: STOP ADVISING MY STUDENTS. I wanted to say, "Look, 'tard. Just send the dumbass up here and I'll take care of this shit." See, nobody wants to say "no." That's the problem. I have no trouble telling an 18-year old, undirected student that they can't have what they THINK they want. UGH.

PLUS I had visits from Iman Idiot this week, the water-delivery people never showed up so we had no water for like 3 days. The imbeciles in the office downstairs use WAAAAAY too much of our water. True, they put some money in our budget to offset the cost. But seriously, one of the people down there comes up to our office 2-3 times a day with what looks like a small crock pot and fills it with water from the cooler. Um...WTF are you doing? This is in addition to all the times the same person comes up to fill their coffee mug or water bottle. I swear, I think that ONE person uses half the water we get in a month, and they don't even work in our department.

Is it any wonder that I had a panic attack in the middle of the night Thursday? I woke up at 3 am convinced I was having a heart attack or possibly a stroke. My left arm hurt, my fingers were tingling and I had pains in my neck so bad that I couldn't turn my head.

The only real highlight of my week?

Stumbling onto this freakin' photo on the Internets:

Sweet Tap-dancing Christ. He has to have a license to be THAT HOT. DAMN.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Gone, But Never Forgotten

My friends, as you can see, I haven't posted in a little while. The last week has been filled with much sadness and aggravation. I don't want to talk about the aggravation part, which I will only say can be mostly attributed to my job and its ever-increasing ability to DESTROY MY SOUL.

I need to talk about the sadness---a sadness so strong that I have been unable to articulate it here for nearly a week. And I'd venture to say that I still can't express it to its fullest depths.

Last Wednesday (11/12) Todd and I had to make the hardest, saddest decision of our lives. We had to have Mr. Chesterfield euthanized.

As you may recall from earlier posts I made over the summer, Mr. C had taken ill---rather mysteriously---sometime in August. He seemed to respond well to the medications and treatments we gave him and appeared to be doing ok all through the month of September and most of October. Sometime just before Halloween I thought that he looked terribly thin. He was not eating as much as usual. He was not nearly as vocal as he used to be. Mr. Chesterfield was a chatty cat, let me tell you! And he still had weird bald patches in his fur, but in different spots than he had before. He also seemed to have a cold and was wheezing. We also noticed that he had rubbed off all the fur on his nose. It was very odd.

However, as is the case with most cats, he never complained or gave us any indication that he was sick or hurting. Sometime in the first week of November we noticed that he wasn't peeing or pooping very much, if at all. His eating declined further. I picked him up one day and it was like picking up a stuffed animal. He felt like he weighed nothing. I could feel his ribcage. I cried that day. We weighed him as best we could and he was about 6.5 pounds. This cat was 12 pounds when we got him a year ago and was a little over 8 pounds when we last brought him to the vet in September.

Something was wrong. We knew we had to take him to the vet, but we were dreading the visit. We loved Mr. C and couldn't face the facts --- he was dying.

For the 3 days before we took him to the vet for his final visit, he ate practically nothing. He couldn't care less about food, water, cat-nip, treats or anything else for which he would normally come running. The only thing he did still enjoy was sitting about an inch away from the mini ceramic heater that we use in the upstairs office in our house. Maybe the concentrated heat on his old bones relieved pain or comforted him in some way. We'll never know.

The day we took him for euthanizing, we tried giving him treats; he refused them. He didn't want anything. We wanted his last moments in his home to be comfortable and the best they could be, so we turned on the heater for him one last time. He stood there, lovely, dignified, with his eyes squinted in delight. Putting him in his carrier after that was quite possibly the most heart-wrenching thing I have ever done.

We got to the vet's office---they knew ahead of time what was to be done---and were met by one of the vet's assistants, Jennifer. She is the sweetest, most considerate, caring, gentle person that you'd ever want to meet. I was immediately comforted that she was there to help attend to Mr. C in his last moments with us. We took him out of the carrier and she weighed him: 6 pounds, 4 ounces. They had placed a thick, navy blue, wool blanket on the exam table for him to lay on. He sat there like nothing was wrong. He was absolutely silent, calm, one paw tucked under and one paw resting out --- it was like nothing I have ever seen.

We waited what seemed like forever for our vet to come in. I think it was about 40 minutes. Todd and I just kept petting Mr. C and rubbing under his chin. We were both shaking, sick with terror at what lay ahead. Our vet came in and she examined Mr. C for herself. She agreed that it was time for him to go. His muscles had atrophied, the infected ulcerations in his mouth were back with a vengeance, and his kidneys were failing him. I believe he had sepsis as well. All the while she poked, prodded, and squeezed Mr. C, he never made a sound or resisted in any way. He remained quiet and peaceful, with his usual dignified expression. He was ready, I believe that now.

We were not.

She gave Mr. C a sedative so that he would fall asleep. And then we held his paws and stroked his head while she administered the lethal injection. As he let out a final little sigh, Mr. Chesterfield's sweet, gentle heart stopped beating forever and he was gone.

I felt like someone cut out my heart and tossed it out in the street. I had to try to hold back the
floodgate of tears I could feel ready to come pouring out of my eyes. Whatever grief I showed at that moment was nothing compared to Todd's. He sobbed uncontrollably. He was inconsolable. I managed to sign the paperwork for Mr. Chesterfield's ashes and we left via the side door. I wept in the car.

Today we're feeling better, mostly. I mean, we know it was the right thing to do. But we miss Mr. Chesterfield terribly, and always will. I know I will never meet another cat like Mr. C. I'll repeat what I've said countless times before: he was the sweetest, loveliest animal anyone could ever want as a pet. He is physically gone from this world, but never from our hearts and minds.

We love you, Mr. Chesterfield.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Hideous Knitting 101

All right, here's the next installment of Hideous Knitting:

At first glance, this looks really pretty. I'm a sucker for a nice feather n' fan pattern and I liked the tied, blousy look. In fact, I almost downloaded this pattern (it's free, a big turn-on for me). But then it hit me: wait, those aren't sleeves. OMG. It's a...cape...with a belt...and the belt goes through the knitting to make totally non-functional, pseudo sleeves. WTF. A cape with a belt. Yes. I know, honey.


WHO DOES THIS? Look at how that evil belt pulls most horrifically on the knitting. I am cringing looking at it. I can feel my blood boiling.






&*(#$@^$*&%^*#(@)%^%$#& FUUUUUUUUUUUCK.

Sorry. I just can't stand it.

Ok report card time.

Hideous Knitting 101 report card:
Fit: C- As a cape, it's too long, and as a sweater, the "sleeves" are too short. The model wears it well enough. Although, let's see her lift those arms up, huh?
Color(s): C Meh. Boring.
Yarn: C Naturally Caron Spa. 25% bamboo; 75% acrylic. DK weight. I wish the bamboo content were a little higher and that there were more color options; looks like only pastels. However, this yarn comes in 250-yard skeins, so that's a big plus.
Execution: D The feather and fan looks fine, but again, the way the &*$%^@%# belt yanks on the knitting is awful, evil, and cringe-worthy.
Had this been a real sweater, with REAL SLEEVES, it would be absolutely stunning. I feel like this is a cop out to making sleeves. I mean, nothing against capes, (although I don't particularly like them), but if you're making a cape, then you're making a cape. Don't try to make it into some weird-ass, el-fake-o sweater. I am actually, seriously considering revising this pattern so that it has real sleeves. A challenge, def. But I might do it.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

I Voted.

Did you?

Please VOTE!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Hideous Knitting 101

Introducing a new segment that I will revisit from time to time that I'm calling "Hideous Knitting 101." All examples will be followed by a report card, where each item is graded on the following:

Style: the overall look of the knitted item.
Fit: how well it fits the intended application, not limited to the fit of garments.
Color(s): choice of color(s) or colorway
Yarn: Quality, fiber, and availability of the yarn used for knitted item
Execution: How well the knitted item uses the yarn and represents the skill of knitting.

And here's your first installment:

This trip to seizure town caught my eye the other day on Ravelry. If you click on the picture it will take you to Coats & Clark's free pattern! How delightful. I feel kinda sorry for that Gweneth Paltrow-esque model who had to wear this thing AND be photographed. It's one of the most unflattering knitted garments I've ever laid eyes on and in more ways than one.

Hideous Knitting 101 report card:
Style: D-
Fit: D
Color(s): D
Yarn: C- Moda Dea Sassy Stripes 100% Acrylic; sport weight. (which on the web site says: "100% acrylique," as if Frenchifying it will make it any better).
Execution: C- If you look at the knit samples for this yarn's colorways, they look NOTHING like the nightmare pictured above. I think this is supposed to knit up into a self-striping, fair-isle type of pattern.

Now if we used different yarn, would this be any better? I think only marginally. I'm trying to picture it in a different colorway or in a solid color. But the bad styling and fit is just so overwhelming that I think there's no hope.

Stay tuned for more.