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Journal for 21 Apr 2008

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After such a long period not writing, I’m finding it difficult to get back into it again. That’s unfortunate, as there’s been a lot to write about. Mathias in particular has been going through a lot of changes as of late: He’s standing with assistance, is showing signs of (finally) getting ready to crawl, and has become quite proficient at feeding himself. His mom and I have gotten some (supposedly) expert feedback that we may be going too easy on him in trying to get him to sleep through the night, but we both run into philosophical issues in that area. After all, each of us gets up once or twice a night to get a drink of water or visit the bathroom… Is it unreasonable for our child to want to do the same?

Ah, the complicated trials of parenthood. If we spend all this time trying to figure out how to best handle his sleeping habits, I can’t wait to see what we do as we encounter other issues that are more complicated.

Beyond that, Lisa and I went on a date Saturday night. It was fun, if a bit expensive for our cash-constrained household. We didn’t do much: We started with a tasty but overpriced dinner at Duplex, following that with an hour or so wandering around Uptown and desert at Cafe Latte. None of those things would’ve been unusual 15 months ago, but now they’re rare moments to be enjoyed and savored.

~ ~ ~

No news on my grades yet. Then there’s that immunization hold on my account… Had I started school two years earlier, it wouldn’t be a problem, but because of some apparent discarding of records, I may have to get a whole mess of shots before I can take another class. It would’ve been nice if this became clear a bit earlier in the year so I could have more time to respond to it, but I guess that’s how the U runs things.

Posted in BabyLog,Education,Journal at 10:25 pm

Journal for 13 April 2008: Trainwreck Retrospective

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Had it dawned on me that taking two compressed courses at the same time would be the functional equivalent of taking three full-time courses for the months I’d be in school, I wouldn’t have been stupid enough to do it. But I did, and it was a mess.

It’s kind of difficult to describe how utterly exhausted I am, both mentally and physically. I knew two courses would be a lot of work, especially considering how busy the first few months of the year tend to be at my job, but I was still taken aback by what I got myself involved in. My accounting class in particular was extremely difficult for me, and many weeks I found myself putting in 25-30 hours a week in an effort to keep up. (My Operations class, which I generally found very interesting and happened to be very relevant to my job, definitely suffered as a result.) I tried to tough it out, though, figuring it was a learning experience, it would only be one semester, and I’d know better and stagger my classes in the future. It wasn’t until the last few weeks that it dawned on me that failure–and I mean “fail” quite literally here–was an actual possibility.

98% of my life over the past two months can be divided into one of three categories: Work, school, and, coming in at a distant third, sleep. I barely saw my son the past six weeks; if I was home while he was awake, I was probably studying, and as a result missed so, so much. I kind of feel like I abdicated my responsibilities as a parent, dumping way more than was fair on Lisa. My phone broke, and I basically had to ignore that as I didn’t have time to get it fixed. (It’s still broken.) My body is a case of deferred maintenance: Over the past two months I’ve canceled doctor and dentist appointments, and skipped an orthodontics adjustment and an eye exam, all in an effort to save an hour here or there. For all practical purpose, I haven’t exercised since early February.

And what did it get me? Practically nothing. Even if I do pass my Accounting course–and, again, that’s a very big “if”–I learned very little. My retention for these two courses has been remarkably small. Last semester, when I took only one course in an effort to ease my way back into academia, I had time between my courses and homework to actually think about what I was learning, and how I could apply it to my job, or what I could share with others. And you know what? That was great. I also had time to be with my family, spend the weekends with my wife and son, give appropriate attention to work, and, you know, relax now and then. Last semester, I was reading books that had nothing to do with my class or my job. On the weekends I’d spend my regular hours tearing through the New York Times, watching a movie with Lisa, or going with her and our son for a stroll around the mega mall. My class was adding to my life, not controlling it.

No such luck this semester. Again, I don’t know why I didn’t just drop a class. Maybe that would’ve seemed like giving up, or like failure, but in retrospect it would’ve been an incredibly reasonable thing to do.

Final exams were last week. I don’t feel particularly confident about my closing performance in either one of my classes, but there’s not really anything I can do about that now other than sit around and wait for my grades. Even if I do pass, I’ll likely be on academic probation. Academic probation! I feel like a bad joke.

~ ~ ~

Early March was when things really started to go off the rails. My yearly pilgrimage to SXSW played a part: The second accounting midterm (the class had two) was scheduled for the day I’d be returning from Austin. Knowing I’d be wiped out upon my return, I asked to reschedule my exam, and ended up taking it the morning I’d be heading for Austin, five days before everyone else in the class. Tactically that would’ve made sense if I had control over my work life and wasn’t sick, but I had neither. I’m not going to delve into details about my job, but I will say the first quarter of 2008 was uniquely demanding in ways I haven’t seen at my place of employment in many years. And worse, I was on the trailing edges of the flu that first ran through our household in mid-February. I bombed the exam, in the process making a good grade in the final absolutely critical.

I don’t think I made it. In preparation for the accounting final, I went so far as to take off a couple half days at work when, really, I had no time to be taking half-days. Worse, I got sick with whatever new crappy thing was floating around the office, and as such ended up taking a total of two exams when I would’ve been better off in bed.

I don’t know why I didn’t drop my courses while I still had the option to do so. What was I thinking?

~ ~ ~

I know I’m being extremely unfair to myself with this, but I just feel really dumb. I know a lot of people consider me a reasonably smart person, but I often don’t feel that way about myself–confidently, at least–and with this semester I kind of feel like I’ve finally unequivocally exposed myself for the fucking idiot that I am. Completely overboarding, I know–and, trust me, it’ll pass–but that’s how I feel right now.

I know how my brain works, so a bit of a prediction: If I fail accounting, I’ll take it as proof of my own stupidity. If I somehow manage to pass, I won’t give myself credit for it, and instead will chalk it up to luck.

Posted in Education,Journal at 10:46 pm

SXSW: Almost Here

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With everything going on the past few days, it wasn’t until a coworker reminded me this morning that I realized that SXSW starts next week. Holy crap. So much for going in prepared.

~ ~ ~

I am never taking two full-credit courses at the same time again. Never.

Posted in Education,Journal,SXSW at 10:36 am

Journal for 20 Feb

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Well, there’s good news and bad news on my first accounting midterm.  The good news is I got an 87%, which is a pretty strong B, but the bad news is I kept myself from getting an A by a couple incredibly boneheaded mistakes, such as neglecting to put the year in the the title of an income statement.  That’s kind of like writing a pretty strong term paper, and then getting knocked down to a grade due to forgetting to put the date and class on the cover sheet.  Argh.

The other area I got hit was with a written question that I thought was a trick question, but… wasn’t.  My journalism and English backgrounds may have left me a bit exposed in that case, as I tend to treat much of what I read with a continuous suspicion:  This is what so-and-so seems to be writing, but what is the hidden subtext?  Then again, this is accounting we’re talking about, not a study of Faulkner or O’Connor (thank god), so I should probably try to relax a bit.

Posted in Education,Journal at 10:55 pm

Journal for 14 Feb 2007: Operating at 30%

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I had an embarrassingly absent-minded day today. This morning at work I actually managed to forget that someone on my team had recently married, and this evening managed to mix up the days of the month Mathias was born and Lisa and I were married. I also momentarily spaced on my own birthday, although that last one I was able to figure out.

I blame excessive studying for crowding everything else out of my brain. The lack of sleep this week probably didn’t help much, either.

~ ~ ~

Regarding my accounting midterm, I think I may have actually done OK, although there were a few questions that gave me a lot of trouble. I should know in about a week.

~ ~ ~

Also noted: Don’t get Lisa started on cupcakes.

Posted in Education,Journal at 11:20 pm

Journal for 11 Feb 2008: Midterms

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School may finally be getting to me. I’m feeling completely overwhelmed this week. I have the first of two accounting midterms this Wednesday, and I can’t even remotely claim to be ready for it. I tried doing one of the practice exams a few hours ago and failed miserably.

The weird thing is I’ve studied everything included on the test. I’ve read the book and handouts, and have done more than the required practice work, and yet I feel like I’m retaining nothing. On the practice test I found myself looking at a question asking me to write a reconciliation of retained earnings for a specific case, and I couldn’t even remember what the format of a retained earnings report looks like.

I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong here.

Back to studying, although I should probably get some sleep soon…

Posted in Education,Journal at 12:23 am

Journal for 30 Jan 2008: A Long Wednesday

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There are few things as disconcerting as getting up and heading off to work while it’s still dark outside… On what will probably turn out to be the coldest morning of the year.

I had a long day today. There was an all-day offsite for work that started by 7:00 this morning, immediately followed by my class at the U this evening. My class got done on time at 9:05, but some unseen problem in the parking ramp delayed my exit until a few minutes before 10:00.

My next meeting starts in just over nine hours. Probably time for me to hit it.

Posted in Education,Journal at 11:58 pm

Journal for 27 Jan 2008

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I’ve spent about 10 hours reading for my accounting class this weekend, and I haven’t even started the exercises yet.  I need to get those done tomorrow, because after that there’s operations management reading to do.

Other than that, the weekend in review:  Friday night brought a fun evening with coworkers at Dave & Busters up in Maple Grove.  (It’s always kind of disconcerting to drive out to the middle of nowhere and then find a huge development like that.  Seriously…  Why are there so many people up there?)  Saturday and Sunday brought errands around the house and a few attempts at getting out and about with Lisa and the baby.  Beyond that, well, someone apparently kicked the front license plate holder off of my car–again (!)–giving me another thing to address when the Saturn goes in for its next tuneup.

It’s going to be a busy week.  Tomorrow will be packed at work, and Lisa has pilates in the evening, meaning I need to get home early for baby duty.  I’ll be staffing a booth at the StarTribune job fair on Tuesday and then have an offsite for work and my accounting class on Wednesday.

So, see you next week.  Or something.

Posted in Education,Journal at 11:49 pm

Journal for 23 Jan 2008: Financial Accounting

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I have the distinct feeling that if I’m not careful my Financial Accounting course will kick my ass.

Posted in Education,Journal at 11:07 pm

Journal for 22 Jan 2008

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“Did you see that Fred Thompson dropped out?”

“Yeah,” I said, glancing at the TV. “Good riddance.”

“I can stand McCain, but he looks like he needs some medical attention.”

“What? Lisa, he’s just old.”

“But he doesn’t look good. We need someone younger. And with a vagina.”

~ ~ ~

My spring courses start tomorrow. I’m taking two 11-week classes for six credits, so I should have plenty to keep me busy for the next few months. I’m on the wait list for one other class as well, but as it’s slotted for the second half of the semester, it may be a few weeks before I find if I can get in or not.

I encountered a chipper fellow working at the U of M Bookstore tonight. “Oh, someone only needs one book. Lucky.” He rang up the book. $132. “Oh, maybe not.”

The inside of Coffman Union is still ugly.

Posted in Education,Journal at 9:46 pm
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