Archive for November, 2008

In Which Working in Groups Sucks

Warning: stream of consciousness post coming up!  Some parts may not make sense!

Yesterday in my education class, it was my group’s turn to present.  About a month and a half ago, our professor split the class up into 4 groups and assigned each group a book that we had to read and turn into a 50-minute presentation for the class.  We were the 3rd group to go, so we were able to see what the other groups had done, and make sure that we avoided their mistakes like the plague.

I was lucky in that my group was probably the best group in the class.  We all got along really well, everyone was actually interested in doing the work (well, for the most part).  There are definitely some other people in the class that I would probably have killed had we had to work together.

Anyway, we met for the last time the night before the presentation.  This was the first time that we had talked about the book as a whole, since no one had finished it before that point.  We were able to access our classroom and figure out how to hook our computer, with our fabulous powerpoint presentation, to the classroom system so that it would project on the screens properly.  The other two groups had tried to do this, but failed.  Since the presentation was such an integral part of our presentation, we knew we had to make it work no matter what.  And we did!

We met for about 2 hours total, and while some of it was fun, there were other parts when I got so frustrated with how slow my group members were in grasping some of the simplest concepts concerning what we wanted to do during our presentation.  Some of them clearly still hadn’t grasped it by the time of our presentation, but it still went well.

Anyway, looking over the syllabus, we knew we had to create a 2-sided handout for the class, plus write up a process paper, none of which we had written yet.  So we assigned one person to do the front of the handout, another to do the back, and I offered to do the process paper as long as everyone emailed me some ideas over the course of the night to include in the paper.  I also volunteered to collect the two halves of the handout and combine and print them for the class.  I tend to volunteer to do things like this even when (like that night) I really don’t have the time to do them.  I just don’t really trust anyone else to do a good job on it.  Or even a satisfactory job sometimes.  Yes, I am a control freak.  The only other thing I asked of my group members was to email this information to me at a reasonable hour.  Like, say, before midnight.


I finish the part of the process paper that I can do with only my knowledge, such as our meeting times and who did what.  Finally, I get an email with the first half of the handout.  And it’s not to bad.  So I edit it a bit, add a sentence or two, and save it to my computer.  I also email the author back, thanking her for the piece and asking her for help on the process paper.  Fairly promptly, she emails me back a few ideas.

This is the only thing that goes right all night.

Group member # 2, who was supposed to do the second half of the handout, finally emails me a document.  However, the document is what I would expect her notes for her section of the presentation to look like.  Fortunately, I notice she’s online, so I immediately IM her and tell her that what she gave me wasn’t what I needed from her, and explain what it is that I do need.  She apologizes and promises to whip something up really fast and get it to me soon.

Did I mention it’s already 1am?

Finally, she emails me something else, but it’s all bullet points.  And it doesn’t exactly address what we need to address.  So I just thank her for sending it to me and resign myself to writing it all myself.  Which I do.

Did I mention it’s now 2am?

Having still only gotten one group member’s suggestions for the process paper, I email #2 back and ask her for any suggestions.  After about 15 minutes, she IMs me back with some ridiculous ideas.  So again, I thank her, and just go on and write about what #1 and I had discussed via email.

Still no word from #3.

Finally, everything is done, mostly by me, of course.  But at least I know it’s respectable.

Oh, and did I mention that the powerpoint, which was #3’s realm, also had to be changed because we needed it to go in a slightly different direction than she had taken it?  Yea, all me.  Again.

At 3am, I head to bed.  Thank goodness the class isn’t until 11am!

Coming soon: Part II: The actual presentation!

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As you may have noticed, I have not posted for about 3 days now, thus nullifying me from accomplishing NaBloPoMo. I was really excited to actually accomplish it this month, but apparently the fates decided that it was not to be. How else do you explain my hard drive dying the same weekend that I have to go out of town to a place without easily accessible computers?

The good news is that I am back home at school. The bad news is that my computer is still not fixed (or, if it is, the tech guys still haven’t contacted me). The good news is that the library here has plenty of computers for me to use. The bad news is that the library is across campus from my dorm. The good news is that it’s only about a 7-10 minute walk. The bad news is that it’s November, and cold!!!

Thus, I have not gotten around to taking care of this blog as I would like to think I would have had I had my computer. I do plan on trying to continue NaBloPoMo as much as possible, and maybe even try to join the group that has committed to posting once a day for an entire year! That would be so amazing if I could do that. Hmmm. Goals are good.

Anyway, in an attempt to sort of catch up on the posts I missed, I think I’m going to go ahead and do a bunch of posts today, but I won’t back-date them, cause I think that’s cheating 😀

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As you may know, I am in Georgia this weekend for my great-grandmother’s funeral.  I had planned to return to school today, but decided to cancel my flight and stay the extra day, driving back with my grandparents tomorrow, since they go right by my school on the way home.  There is just so much that my grandparents and their siblings (my great-grandmother’s three daughters) have to do and take care of in the house that I offered to stay this extra day and get them started on the right track.  Since they all live out of town, and are all leaving on Monday like me, I know we won’t get too much done, but I figured every little bit helps.  The real challenge is going to be when they all finally have time in January or February to get together and sort out what is going where and to whom.  I really hope I will be able to come down when they start this, since I know it will be a real challenge and I think it could be really fascinating for me.

I have a real obsession with history, and exploring the house of a woman who lived to be 100 years old is a treasure trove, not to mention hearing all the stories from my family.  I really love hearing about all of this and am going to miss it so much in the coming years.

But we have a long day today and tomorrow, so I must go and leave the reminiscing for another time!

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If you click on any one of my posts, you will discover a small list of “possibly related posts (generated automatically)”.  While I understand the potential usefulness of this (particularly if one or more of the posts are yours, which they often are not), I wonder if I should take it off my blog.

I don’t get much traffic coming in from other blogs because of my links on their posts, so it’s not particularly valuable in that way.  And it only shows up on the single post pages, not the actual front of my blog itself.  And it doesn’t show up on people’s RSS feeds either.  So is it worth it to have it?

What do you think, dear readers?  Should I keep the “possibly related posts (generated automatically)”, or just let it go and clear up some clutter from my posts?

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I posted earlier about the fact that bad things always come in threes, and I listed the third bad thing as Obama being elected president.  Well, I was wrong.

Two days ago, I turn on my computer and while it is starting up it informs me that there are a few issues it needs to take care of while starting up, so I agree to let it do its thing and everything is fine.  Yesterday when I try to turn on my computer, however, I get an error message saying that a certain file is either missing or corrupt.  It won’t even turn on in safe mode!

So, after class, I head over to the computer help desk, where they have come to know me well in the past few weeks*.  I show them the error message, they say it shouldn’t be too much of a problem, and agree to try to have it back to me before I leave today**, telling me (after I ask) that it shouldn’t affect my hard drive.

This morning, I get a call from the help desk telling me that my computer was making a strange grinding sound and they think there’s something wrong with my hard drive.  So I need to come down and show them that it’s still under warranty so they can fix my hard drive.

If I swore, I would be swearing right now.  I mean, on the one hand, I don’t really have anything too too special on my hard drive right now.  Just a few pictures, since I removed the vast majority to my iPod to save room when I was having space issues on my laptop.  And all of my documents from the beginning of time.  Including my resume.  I mean, I guess none of the stuff on there is really that important, but still.  I’m a packrat.  I want all of my stuff from the beginning of time.  Especially all of the papers and such that I have written over the last few years, considering I’m coming up on the time when I need to write my thesis based on a few of those papers and all that research and notes that was on there.  Grrr.

Today is not a good day.

* Scanning my archives has shown me that I did not actually post about my earlier problems, so here’s a quick run-down: About 2 weeks ago, my computer starts shutting down a few minutes after I turn it on.  Then I discover that I actually get the blue screen of death right before it turns itself off.  So I take it to the help desk and spend about 2 hours there as 2 or 3 technicians look it over and finally discover that my security program has been creating ginormous and unecessary backups on my harddrive, which is filling it up, making the computer too full to run properly.  So they fix that, along with another problem or two that have been plaguing me recently.  Fast-forward a week, and my computer backlight dies.  So I take it to the help desk again, and they discover it’s under warranty still, and so they order and install a new backlight for me.  Fast forward another week, and here we are.

**I’m leaving today for Georgia to go to my great-grandmother’s funeral.  So I may not be able to post tomorrow.

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I have discovered proof that no matter what your interest, you can find a niche community on the internet.  How else do you explain Cats in Sinks.com?  I came across this fascinating project on a forum I frequent, and was strangely enthralled, I must admit.  I am a subscriber to i can has cheezburger, which is amazing/genius, even to a pendant like me, but I never would have imagined anything like this ever existed.

A quick Google search led me to find that this is not the most unusal site around.  Take, for instance, Stuff on My Cat, which posts pictures of cats with some sort of props, whether they be situational or costumes of some sort (which I personally classify as cruel and unusual punishment for the most part!).

If you think that’s odd, the next page of Google results turned up Cats That Look Like Hitler! I think the name pretty much says it all, but still.  Seriously?

Fortunately, these are the oddest ones in 13 pages of Google results.  Anyone else know of any odd pet sites?  Or contribute to any?

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Today was my second day of leaving work at the Writing Center and discovering that it was completely dark out.  At 6pm.  Welcome to daylight savings time, folks!  It’s a tad discombobulating, I must admit.  I don’t remember the change being so dramatic last year.

I wish I had more to comment on currently, but it’s just not in me right now.  I’m planning on spending most of tomorrow writing.  I have a paper due on Friday, and I want to write up a few posts that will publish while I’m in Georgia for my great-grandmother’s funeral.  Plus, I need to write some more emails and just get stuff done.  So tomorrow is my writing day.  Hopefully, you’ll have some lovely long rants to read soon enough instead of these short snippets!

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They say bad things come in threes:

  1. El boyo’s last grandmother died on Sunday.
  2. My great-grandmother, with whom I was actually quite close, died this morning.
  3. Obama was just announced president.  Granted, this isn’t terrible.  I actually like Obama as a person, I just don’t agree with most of his politics.

Forgive me if I don’t feel particularly verbose right now.

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My number one, absolute most favoritest thing about being a college student is taking whatever classes happen to catch my eye in whatever department I want, and having them fit together!  For instance, this semester, I am taking a class on Ovid’s Metamorphoses*, in the original Latin, even though I am neither a Latin major or minor but simply enjoy the language and this particular topic (and professor!).  For those of you who are not classicists, The Metamorphoses is an epic poem with dozens of stories about gods changing humans into different things (usually birds and trees), and we get many of our myths from this text.  If you’ve ever heard the story of Arachne, for instance, you can thank Ovid.

Anyway, so we’ve spent all semester talking about transformations and underlying meanings and all that jazz.  The actual focus of the class, in fact, is on allusion in this text.  It’s fabulous!

Meanwhile, I am also taking a class on Victorian fantasy (as you may be able to tell from my occasional posts on some of the books we have read).  We are currently discussing Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.  If you have read the books or even seen the Disney movie, then you probably know where I’m going with this.

Throughout Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, Alice undergoes a series of transformations.  In Wonderland, those transformations are physical, what with all the growing and shrinking from the various cakes and drinks and mushrooms she eats.  In Looking Glass, however, Alice never changes physically, but she does become a queen at the end, having made it across the chessboard successfully.  Thus, the transformation is more inner than outer, if that makes any sense.

I’m actually not too sure where I am going with this except to point out that there are metamorphoses in both my Latin and my English classes, and fabulously interesting discussions on the meanings of said metamorphoses.  And this is what I love about a liberal education! Pure happiness 😀

* The version I link to here is a beautiful translation that I read for a class in a previous semester all about Greek and Roman mythology, but now that I have the chance to compare it to the original Latin, it is clear that the translator knows very little Latin!  But, it’s still a beautiful translation, and it does help me understand the gist of the Latin when I am totally lost.

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