Monday, August 28, 2006


I registered for classes on Friday. Actually, I tried to register for classes on Friday, but I wound up registering for a class on Friday, which I wound up dropping on Sunday so that I could change to different class. Anyway, the point is, starting September 20th, I'm going to be taking classes at University of Cincinnati, which means that I can now (if I so choose) call myself a Bearcat.

Life has a funny way of throwing you curve balls. When I was in high school, I considered applying to UC, but then I visited CWRU and discovered Biomedical Engineering, so I gave up on my plans to study Architecture. (Actually, I was considering Architectural Engineering, which is somewhat different-- Less emphasis on funky-looking buildings, more emphasis on buildings remaining standing over the long haul. As a campus, UC seems to prefer "funky-looking" over "remaining standing" so I'm not sure how much I would have enjoyed that program anyway.)

Luckily, UC has a branch campus just a mile from my house, so that's where I'm going to be taking classes. I took Friday afternoon off of work to go register for classes, and the process was pretty much what I expected it to be:

ENROLLMENT: "Are you matriculating into a program of study, or just taking classes? Fill out this form and turn it in at Station 4."

STATION 4: "Here is your temporary ID number. You can use it to register for classes on-line. You can use the computers over there if you want to register now."

WOMAN WITH THE DESK CLOSEST TO THE COMPUTERS, aka FLIBBERTIGIBBET: "No, that's not a valid student ID number. You can't use that to register on-line. Well, yes, it's a temporary ID number, but I just heard that those numbers don't become active in the computer system for 24-48 hours. Oh, I see. Well, since the class has just one opening left, I suppose I can help you get registered now. Fill out this form and give it back to me."

FLIBBERTIGIBBET, TAKE 2: "The computer is saying that both of those classes are now full, so someone else must have registered for that Biology class in the last few minutes. You can either try to register for different sessions, or you can try to get the professors to sign an override form. OK, well, write those other class numbers on the form, and give it back to me."

FLIBBERTIGIBBET, TAKE 3: "I can register you for the Sociology class, but the Biology class is full. Well, they might be willing to give you an override, but that's really up to them. I can't make any promises. The contact information for professors is on-line. Do you know the One Stop website address? Well, here it is. Go to this menu, then this menu, then this menu, and there they are. No, I don't think they'll be in their offices this afternoon, given that it's a break period between Summer and Autumn terms. Ok, well, good luck."

BIOLOGY PROFESSOR'S OFFICE: "Do not enter. This building is closed for renovation."

SOCIOLOGY PROFESSORS'S OFFICE: "I am out of the office until sometime in September. If you need to reach me, leave a voicemail message."

Getting shut out of classes completely is a new experience for me, and I realized how lucky I had been to go to a smaller school, where registration was fairly easy, or at least I don't remember ever having to get an override from a professor at Case. On the other hand, I entered Case a year after Adelbert burned, so all of the student services had been farmed out to various buildings around campus. There was always a run-around at the beginning of the year that went something like, "Go to Baker to pick up the course listings. Go to Building A to register. You can't register because you haven't paid all your tuition up front. If your parents are paying on an installment plan, you have to get a memo signed by the Cashier's Office in Building B. Go back to Building A to register. Go to Building C to sign up for points for your food plan, but only during the right hours. Go to Thwing to buy your books." So at least at this branch of UC, everything was located in one office, which made the experience relatively painless, and Flibbertigibbet was friendly and helpful.

SIDEBAR: I can't remember the names of the buildings that housed Registration and the Cashier's Office now. I just went to CWRU website to check the map of campus, and those buildings are no longer there. (I think they may have been two ends of the same building, but I clearly remember that you had to outside to get from one place to the other.) Baker building is gone now too, which is not such a tragedy, because the buildings weren't anything special-- Baker in particular was blight in a circa-1960's "modern" style --and they obstructed the views between Case quad and the classic (and proudly rebuilt) Adelbert Hall, not to mention foot traffic from North campus. But it does make me feel a bit older to know that places that I remember are now gone forever.

Anyway, I left voicemail messages for both professors, but then later on I realized that there was another Biology class that (a) sounded more interesting to me, (b) wasn't full and closed, and (c) might fulfill my prerequisite requirements for Ethics as well as Biology, so I signed up for that one instead. And it sounds like the professor is going to let me into the evening session of the Sociology course, so all's well that ends well.

And now I'm a Bearcat, just like my husband, my dad, and several of my friends. Life's funny sometimes.

Now is the time in skiing when we dance...

It's that time of year again...

Every year, toward the end of summer, it hits. A feeling of lethargy, ennui, and wistfulness. I feel altogether tired of the relentless, oppressive heat and humidity of summer. Vacations are over, the pool is closed, so what's the point of this sticky, nasty weather hanging on? I'm eager for the cool crispness of fall, for evenings when you can see your breath while you look at the stars, and for the enchantment that comes from lighting a fire outside on the deck, and staring into the flames while spending time with good friends.

But above all, I'm anxious for winter. I'm not alone in this. I guarantee that if you ask any die-hard skiier, they'll tell you the same thing. We all suffer from feelings of unrest and yearning at this time of year, and there's a ritual that we perform in honor of the change of seasons. Every year, in this time period between the end of August and the beginning of October, I find myself drawn to my ski gear, down in the basement. I drag out my boot bag, and pull everything out of it. I fondly try on my gloves, which conform softly to my hands after years of use. I pet my warm fuzzy neck gaiter, and try on my favorite ski socks. And then I put on my boots, and buckle them up, and tromp around the house for a little while, just wishing, wishing, wishing that ski season wasn't still 3 months away.

I know I'm not alone in this.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Corporate Culture

One of my new co-workers sent around an email that I think neatly summarizes the difference between my old job and my new job.

It has been brought to management's attention that some individuals throughout the company have been using foul language during the course of normal conversation with their co-workers. Due to complaints received from some employees who may be easily offended, this type of language will be no longer be tolerated. We do however, realize the critical importance of being able to accurately express your feelings when communicating with co-workers. Therefore, a list of "TRY SAYING" new phrases has been provided so that proper exchange of ideas and information can continue in an effective manner without risk of offending our more sensitive employees.

TRY SAYING: I wasn't involved in the project.
INSTEAD OF: It's not my ----ing problem.

TRY SAYING: Perhaps you should check with...
INSTEAD OF: Tell someone who gives a ----.

TRY SAYING: You want me to take care of that?
INSTEAD OF: Who the ---- died and made you boss?

TRY SAYING: I don't think you understand.
INSTEAD OF: Shove it up your ---.

I'm not going to include the whole list, because I'm sure you can see where this is going. The point is that at my old job, I would mostly hear stuff from the "TRY SAYING" list. At my new job, I think I've heard every single thing on the "INSTEAD OF" list, and I've only been there for three weeks now. That being said, here are a few "INSTEAD OF" sayings that are special favorites among my new co-workers:

TRY SAYING: We'll have to discuss that.
INSTEAD OF: NO! That's bull----.

TRY SAYING: He's not familiar with the issues.
INSTEAD OF: He's got his head up his ---.

TRY SAYING: Excuse me, sir?
INSTEAD OF: Eat ---- and die.

TRY SAYING: I love a challenge.
INSTEAD OF: This job sucks.

Internally, people at my old job might have been thinking the "INSTEAD OF" stuff, but they would very rarely say it out loud. Although I don't swear much myself, I'm not easily offended by people who do, and I'm finding it kind of refreshing to hear people say what they're really thinking, instead of shrouding everything in layers of corporate euphemisms.

For example, I can't tell you how many times I heard something like, "We need to address some of the opportunities for improvement." No one would ever say that a project or product line had problems. Management might acknowledge "issues" or even "challenges" but they generally prefered to use the term "opportunities," even when describing situations that were completely FUBAR.

Of course, at my old job, people would probably have gotten in some fairly serious trouble for even forwarding an email like this around.