Broken Dreams, Broken Hearts

I never dreamed that I would be writing a post like this, just days after finishing my studies.

I never dreamed on Monday when I was driving through the university grounds and past the annual celebration of Bermuda Shorts Day that twelve hours later some of my fellow students would be gone.

I never dreamed when I drove from the university to a Brentwood drug store and looked into the grocery store beside it that in twelve short hours a young man would walk out of there and change the lives of hundreds of people forever.

I am still dumbfounded by yesterday’s events – the senseless murder of five young students who were only doing what I was doing – decompressing after a long semester. I was shocked when I heard about it, and I’m still shocked – at the loss as well as at the level of violence that was so unexpected.

There isn’t a lot I can say. I’ve been able to confirm that I did not personally know any of the students involved, but that doesn’t help much. The fact is, they were siblings in study, and they did not deserve for this to happen.

Senseless. Sad. Shocking.

Don’t ever doubt it. There is pressure in university life. Youngsters must live up to the standards of a lot of different people even as they try to establish who they are in the world. They work very hard to figure out what is needed, and the best way to get it done. At the same time they are working hard emotionally to finish their own personal foundations and launch themselves into a successful life. Pressures come from everywhere. There is nothing easy about the university experience. It is a purification by fire that no one can fully appreciate until they have gone through it.

I contacted the university as a mature student and offered to volunteer in any way needed. They thanked me, but they do of course have professionals handling it. “Reach out to your community,” they said, so I am.

Pray for the victims and their families, and for the perpetrator and his family. Then reach out to people you know who you feel might be dealing with stress. Make sure they know that you care, and that you can spare time to listen if they need it.

And you: if you need to talk, I’m here to listen. Contact me. I’ve felt and dealt with overwhelming stress in my time, and I can attest to the fact that simply talking about it – no matter what it is – exposes it to the air and makes it seem less important. Two heads are better than one. There’s strength in numbers.

Talk.

No one is completely alone.

You are welcome to re-blog this post if it strikes a chord with you.

* * * * *

Visit the University of Calgary website for further information.

Click here for a gallery of images honouring the victims of this tragedy.

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DP: Movement

And so it continues. My assignments for this semester are now 42% done, and I’m about 55% through the class schedule. 

I have to admit I never did make a point of going in to school to work extra days because I remembered (oh yah!) that I have a perfectly usable and quiet office space here at home, plus I didn’t want to spend extra money on bus tickets  – me being an unemployed bum and all. Staying home for my studies has also saved me the bother of budgeting for campus munchies which, though unquestionably hearty and healthy and not made with any MSGs or sugar whatsoever, are nevertheless money out of my pocket when I indulge.

Right now I’m working on my part of two group projects, and preparing for an exam, all due Monday. It has started to occur to me, now, that I’m actually working on the final projects of my educational career. Because of this, last week when I was readying a short report for submission I decided to go all out, presentationwise. It suddenly occurred to me that once I’m back in the working world (whatever that ends up looking like) I may not get the same opportunities to fiddle with the Word software, so I added a cover page, prepped a contents list, and inserted a subtle watermark – all because I could and because I wanted to, and because it made at least a part of the assignment feel like fun.

I’ve received confirmation that my graduation plans are on track, provided of course that I successfully complete these last two courses. I’m assuming they’ll be fine because I have a habit of just getting things done. 

I’ve also received and completed a survey from the university about my experience there – I barred no holds, believe you me. They know all the niggling little complaints that it is my duty and obligation as an over-confident senior student to divulge.

This afternoon I’m going to send out a resume – what the hey – I’ve got nothing to lose by submitting it. I’m certainly qualified. Anyway, stay tuned for whatever happens next.

 

Giggles

 

And we’re back

A particularly furry little animal

This is week two of the new semester – my final semester – the final steps on the road to the educational grail. 

I’ve waited a couple of weeks before making an entry this time because I wanted to become familiar with my schedule first – you know, rooms, times and so on. It’s a very complicated schedule. First are my Monday classes, from noon to 245pm, and 4pm to 645pm. Then I go home.

I almost feel guilty with this schedule – underscore ‘almost‘. I’m finishing up a second degree but my schedule makes it feel like night school. I mean, I don’t have to get up early, I get a solid hour for lunch in between classes, and I get a six-day weekend every week.

This pseudo-guilt is quickly overcome, however, by memories of my first two semesters in this place when I had to go to campus early, six days a week for eight months. Oh, I know, compared to a five-day week in a full time job it sounds easy, but while work passes quickly because it’s constant, the school process is very irregular, and in my opinion harder because of it. The semester starts with a certain calmness, but then deadlines hit, reading, research, writing, presenting, citing, and all the while the quality must be high enough to make the professor happy. This is a herky-jerky process of compilation and rendition which can be quite taxing at times. The deadlines come in waves. The pressure can be likened to that of a thumb screw – it hurts, but you get used to it, it hurts more, then you get used to it again. 

Anyway, this one-day-a-week thing is easy in one respect, but it calls for more discipline than I’ve ever had to show before. I’ll get it done, I’ll pull my weight – with a lifetime of team play in the workplace behind me I know how to get and keep people moving. But the temptation to coast is definitely there because the pressure won’t ramp up quite as often as in the past and every week I’ll get the chance to decompress. Honestly? I am already guarding against relaxing too much.

Did you see that? I’m trying hard not to be relaxed

Oh, what an odd and furry little animal is post-secondary education.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

History

I just finished my history paper. It was only ten pages in length, but I think it was the most difficult paper I’ve ever had to write. Why is this, you ask? Let me tell you, I answer.

They scare the bejeebers out of you about plagiarism. I’ve never plagiarized or cheated in my life, and the thought wouldn’t even occur to me, but the literature basically says you have to reference every idea that is not your own, or face the wrath of the judiciary! Well, kick me and call me a cowboy, but is there any such thing as a unique idea in a history paper? Surely everything we learn came from someone else!

Sigh. 

Not. Allowed. To. Use. The. Textbooks. 

For some reason the $60 text books are not good enough to be used as sources for this paper. I have no objection to doing research, but the text book should at least be a starting point. The reason given is that they are not peer-reviewed and footnoted, but does that make them inaccurate?

Sigh. 

I had a really hard time organizing my thoughts on this one, and not repeating myself. This is a big deal. Usually I can set paragraphs and talk up a storm, but this time it was hard to organize. Even as I’m writing this I’m trying to figure out why this is and I think because it’s history, and the salient points are relevant in all different directions. Something like this… ‘The decree of 1832 was an influencing factor in the dictum of 1874, and caused Sir Bolt to react as a total loonie against the Foofar tribe of Borneo whose primary modus operandum was the feeding of their families and the pursuit of the Decree of 1832.” You get the picture – it works in all different directions and my poor brain had a hard time, this time, compartmentalizing it. Believe me, I can’t wait for the next paper – it’s a simple, supported opinion piece. 

Sigh.

Chicago style citations. Citations in general drive me crazy, although I do understand their purpose, but most of my degree program has required APA style, so to suddenly throw Chicago at me now I consider a definite hardship. I don’t mind using footnotes – in fact I think they’re pretty cool – but the other stuff is just meshuga. 

Sigh.

Oh, and I had a nasty cold.

Speaking of the next papers – there are two of them due next Tuesday. Each has its challenges, but I’m sure that neither one will vex me like the history paper did. 

It occurred to me today that it’s November the 13th. That means that as of tomorrow there are precisely three weeks left in this semester. Man, how the time flies!

Here’s a picture. Sorry, I couldn’t afford a proper frame. I’m just a struggling student. 

Quiet Study Area

 

 

Push back

Almost sure-fire recipe to push away a cold

Ingredients

  1. 200 capsules garlic. You didn’t really want a girl/boy friend, did you?
  2. 200 capsules Cold F-whatever. Hold the jar up in two hands, face the camera and smile from ear to ear. 
  3. 1/2 antihistamine tablet daily to aid in nasal aridity. Fact is, it’s only dogs who are healthy when their nose is wet – in humans it’s an undesirable thing.
  4. Tylebuprofenspirinvil as required or according to taste, preferably sprinkled on your morning bagel.
  5. 6 gallons orange juice. Orange juice has a shitload of vitamin C. Drink this while sitting on a tanning bed for maximum dosage and effect.
  6. 14 coffees a day. Coffee is a diuretic and the more often you pee the quicker you expel all the poisons. 
  7. Daily hot bath to sweat the crap out of you. Boil the water in the kettle – when you scream the cold germs run for the hills.
  8. Micro filtering face masks for use on train and bus when sitting next to annoying people who cough and sneeze their crap all over the place. Just be sure to take your mask off to sneeze on them.
  9. Massive doses of distraction to make time pass more quickly – this means interesting but useless books and mindless television. It also means sitting in the hallway at school writing blogs instead of reading school work or preparing for your exam this morning.
  10. Glad-handing freely with people you don’t like. It’s a fact: the more people you share your cold with the quicker you get rid of it. People, this is not the time to be stingy.
  11. Meditation centred on the word ‘no’. Breathe deeply, in between hacking coughs and sniffles. Inhale falteringly as nature intended, then exhale like a death rattle for dramatic effect. The chief benefit of this is that you will be able to ride the elevator alone.
  12. Brandy and lots of it. Nuff sed.
It’s not scientific, but if you do all this you are all but guaranteed to get rid of your cold quickly. 
 
Unfortunately, something else will probably get you.
 
Ok, now I really must study for this morning’s exam.
 

An Old Fart’s Strategy for Cold Management

 
 
(No really: you’re not actually going to do this are you? Please don’t.)

Daily Prompt: Turning Point

Checklist for the start of a new semester
  • Stuff
I’ve got my pens and pencils, my books, erasers, bag and such. I picked up a new phone (got to have one of those for a new school year) and my camera is fully charged. What could I possibly be missing? Oh wait – I’ve got to put the Aspirin back in the backpack, and I must remember to throw in some coffee money.
  • Attitude
I’ve been away from the books and the studies for so long now I almost feel as though I’ve forgotten what to do. Tomorrow will be another in a long line of firsts, though – and I’m sure I’ll pick right up from where I left off. Discipline is a sub-category of the Attitude main – without discipline none of this gets done.  
  • Creativity
At some point I’m going to need this so I’ll just go ahead and tuck it into my backpack right now. Creativity is a vital part of a solid education – without it the process, and so the result, of an education is academic at best. Creativity allows the research process to unfold more easily – search terms, terms of reference, all become more straightforward when approached with a creative mindset. Don’t ask me how this works, but it does.
  • Concentration
A healthy dose of concentration never hurt anyone, but it gets more difficult with age. I’m told that fish oil helps aid concentration and intelligence – but what on earth am I going to do?
  • Patience
Let’s face it – some patience is required when an old fart goes back to school. Is it me being patient with the young’uns, though, or are they being patient with me? I suppose it’s a kind of symbiosis, which – if properly managed – can be mutually beneficial. I bring maturity (hahahahaha) and calm (read, apathy or indolence), and the youth bring energy and enthusiasm and a willingness to accept delegation, no matter how reasonable.
  • Determination
This is it. This is the final push – for me, the final five courses which will hopefully propel me to greater things. Let’s face it – after this there’s nothing but the job search and the working world, and paycheques. And if that’s not an incentive to stay determined then I don’t know what is. 
 
In the spirit of the aforementioned creativity, here is a gothic view some of the old university buildings. Take a good look. These dark and dingy halls are the birthing place of a world of new discoveries. 
 
Here’s to education. 

Gothika

Crank it up

I’m doing everything that the young whippersnappers do to get ready for school.

Last week, for example, I went to campus to renew my student ID card – it’s important to make sure you have everything in order. The security office is in Mac Hall, and last Friday, when I went to take care of this, the line-up was not too bad – there were only about sixty people in front of me.

So I stood in line and watched the juniors and their mommies wait for the line to shrink.

Juniors. It threw me back to this time last year when I was just getting ready for orientation week, and I started to think. I looked at the long line-up and it occurred to me: surely second year and third year students wouldn’t be here with their Mommies. This was a line up full of first-timers!

I was still last in line at this point so I stepped away and got on the phone. I called the security office 100 feet ahead of me and asked: “Do I have to renew the card every year?” “Certainly not,” the nice lady said. “It’s good for five years.”

I stepped even further away from the line up.

You see? Classes haven’t even started yet and already I’m getting smarter!

J.

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