Previously on Old Fart Back in School, our hero was seen graduating from his studies with a degree in communications. His flowing gown, colourful sash, and crisply-pressed coiffure were a statement of pride, of confidence and self-respect. His mood was good, his attitude strong. 

But there was doubt about what the future held. Would he be moving soon? Would he find gainful employment back in the race of rats? Or would he return to school, to battle shoulder-to-shoulder with the other kids, for another prize, another point of pride, another feather for his massively oversized cap?

In today’s episode, our hero is proud to announce that the process of the Masters pursuit has begun. Even as we speak, references are being sought and forms are being filled in. The gathering of documents is in full sway, and the gathering of administrative knowledge is under way. 

Of course, the Masters degree is a different animal to the Bachelor’s. It starts with some obligatory courses, proceeds to some elective courses, and finalizes with a year-long research project in support of a written thesis. There are written exams, and at the end an oral exam shows unequivocally whether or not you know your material. 

Our hero has chosen a thesis idea and is proposing it as part of the application process. In essence, his thesis explores the role of technology in the job-seeking process because – as anyone who has applied for a job recently knows – technology is a decidedly complicating factor. 

All too exciting. Stay tuned for further developments!

And now, a picture.




The journey continues. This week I finished two assignments, leaving 11 to go, and I’m currently working on the proposal and annotated bibliography for the final project of the last communications course I will ever take. Exciting stuff. 

Meantime, the house must be cleaned, dinner must be made, the dog must be walked, and the frigid temperatures must be endured. But hey, it’s February: we’re closer to March, now, than December, and that’s a really nice thought. 

Library time!


14 minutes


A random school cap.

Today is Thursday. As of this last Monday all my papers were done. On Tuesday Dr F. handed us our take-home exam and I spent yesterday in my dungeon – I mean, my office – pulling it all together. “Plan to spend three hours on it,” quoth he. “Yah right,” quoth I. I just handed it in at his office, so my COMS and HTST courses are now ‘in the books’.

Now all I have left is my English exam – on the 18th – and let me assure you that I plan to spend far more than three hours getting ready for that – more likely three hours every day; for one thing I have to (if you tell my teacher this, I’ll deny it) finish the actual reading for the course so that I understand precisely what the hell she – who is most wise and knowledgable and erudite – was talking about.

I remember my first two semesters – in my first year here. I had classes six days of the week – I had to be here six days out of every seven for eight months! That was tough – especially as I was getting on the bus at 6am every day to avoid meeting people with the sniffles because a loved family member was fighting prostate cancer. After that year a million sparks flew – I know, because I counted each and every one. This latest term has been a walk in the park by comparison, and a lighter load yet to come. Not that I’ll take it lightly.

Next term will be the last two courses of my program – both on Monday. This means that instead of six days here, I’ll be six days at home – like a six day weekend. Well, it will feel like that, but there’s still the work to do. I’m not worried. I’ll get it done. I’m not coming this far only to skip out at the finish line. Hell, I’ve got family coming to convocation, so I have to get it done! 

I did something this week that I haven’t done for years. After I formally applied for graduation I hauled out my grad ring from York and put it on. Funniest darned thing: it doesn’t fit my finger any more! I didn’t know that gold shrinks. I also started looking around for grad rings from this school. Might as well get one – though who knows how long I have left to actually wear it! Of course, being an unemployed bum for the last three years I must save my sheckles, but it’s something I feel is worth saving for. I put my first nickel in the jar yesterday. 

So now I’m off to my final class of the Fall 2013 semester. Wow. 

Amazing how time flies. 


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!


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?


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. 


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. 


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



WPC: G’mornin

As my schoolhardy response to the Weekly Photo Challenge, here’s one of the University of Calgary concrete mountains taken  last March on my way to an 8am class. I don’t have any of those early starts this term, and I won’t next term either, so for me this view is a thing of the past – unless I decide to go in for a research marathon.

There has been a lot of work involved with getting this degree, and now that I’m getting down to the ‘short strokes’ I’m feeling very much like I want to get it over with. But this is where I must be at my most disciplined. The work must still be done. The assignments this term, and next, deserve the same level of attention and focus as I gave the last ones, even if there are fewer of them. In fact, because there are fewer assignments there really should be no reason for me to not give this term’s work extra attention. Thg first round of deadlines is boiling up now. Fingers crossed.

I will say one thing (what, only one?): I’m much more up to date with my reading this term. 

Good morning



Click here for a good read.  


Alright, it’s a beautiful day, so here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to get a coffee, pull the patio table out, haul my books outside with me and park my ass under the sun. I’m going to get some of my reading done. 

I’m bright and alert, vibrant and keen, so why not? I’m focused – sharp and adept. I’m thinking diligently only of my schoolwork and future successes, of the grades I need to be able to go to an ice cream store and buy one of those sweet, delicious peanut treats with all that wonderful caramel sauce and – 

I’m focused and keen, deliberate and firm of purpose. I think only of my books and my processes, never of those really weird-looking clouds floating by, or of the people talking really quite noisily (rudely so!) while walking along the sidewalk in front of the house. What business is it of mine if the neighbourhood crows want to fight with the magpies? Why should I care if the ants on the ground are making their way closer to me with every passing minute, or if that really attentive bee wants for some reason to settle on my head? Why should it upset me that that stupid helicopter keeps flying overhead – over and over and over again!

I’m keen and determined. The words on my page are clear and concise – the grammar perfect and beautiful. There are no distractions, like wondering what on earth I’m going to be cooking for supper later today. There is nothing whatsoever to prevent me from enjoying perfect, productive, scholarly, retentive, laser-like focus in my reading.

Yes, I’m determined and alert. I’m not in the least tired. Not at all dozy or droopy. No, I’m really not right on the point of falling asleep at all. Not at all. Not in the least. Nope. No way.



One of my favourite photo blogs: click here.

The Wheel

I heard in the news this morning of an elementary school, somewhere in the U.S., which has stopped giving its students homework. In lieu of homework, the little darlings must read – for half an hour, every day – a book of their choice. The goal, the article said, is to teach the value of communication in all disciplines, and the rationale is that reading about things that interest them will stimulate them to learn.

How delightful for those children. No homework! I would have killed (figuratively speaking) to have no homework when I was a boy. Of course, the children think it’s a wonderful thing – as they are wont to do. Having no homework frees them up for the far more important tasks like Nintendo practice and television watching.

I’m sure, too, that the educators in this case feel like pioneers. I mean, this is completely new, isn’t it? No one’s ever thought of having children read before – of handing them a book instead of an iPad, a magazine instead of a video game. No one has ever actually connected the dots of reading and writing before, have they? It has never before, in the history of man, been shown that reading aids writing, and writing aids reading, and that the two combined equal communication. No, this is completely new.

I think these children – all children – would be better off doing at least a half hour of reading every day, plus the homework which helps them learn skills and discover new things. All I can really say is that these kids may enjoy a smooth ride now, but they’re in for a shock when and if they get to university. In university the homework comes thick and fast, and is in addition to the reading. In university, the reading is just the beginning. These kids will not be prepared for that kind of thing, and they will suffer for the experiments of their teachers.

Why do teachers today feel they have to change what has worked for thousands of years? Is it arrogance, or ego? They really should stop trying to reinvent the wheel.

Anyway, today is day two. Today I get to check out my Communication and Food Culture class. I’m excited. I’m reading Ruth Reichl’s Garlic and Sapphires pre-class (half an hour every day!) and am enjoying it thoroughly.


But now I must go. I’m rambling, and it’s cutting into Nintendo time.