Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas and such...

Merry Christmas, y'all. We're in NorCal enjoying the holidays with our families. Hope you're getting an opportunity to spend time with people you love and celebrate Christmas. Also, Hanukkah begins this evening. Light a candle and remember God's preservation of His people and the re-dedication of the Temple after the Abomination of Desolation. His preservation of His people then should give us hope for our preservation and deliverance in the future, too.

Happy holiday.

Friday, December 16, 2005

The Week from Sheol...

Rarely have I had a week such as this. Usually my week and I work together in order to accomplish a maximum amount while still retaining my sanity. However, working alongside your week in such a manner can prove hazardous. Weeks, as they are still largely untamed beasts, can behave unpredictably. Occasionally, if you don’t conduct yourself with the utmost care, a week may even turn on you and attack. Such is the story of this week.

This week had been set aside for the final week of school. Nothing too threatening, just lots to do. This negotiation had been clearly laid out months ago. However, last Saturday morning as I sat studying at the kitchen table so that I could get ahead of the week, suddenly my eyes enlarged to roughly the size of grapefruits. The deadline to pay tuition for next semester was yesterday. Stream of unrepeatable words. I quickly logged on to the website of the school that I attend, which shall remain nameless and for the sake of storytelling convention I will call DTS*. The website has a handy online tuition payment option for situations such as these. Or not quite.

The handy online tuition payment option quickly became a less-than-handy online payment-refusal non-option. Apparently once the deadline passes, they further punish the poor soul who only could have forgotten to pay tuition due to the ridiculous amount of work expected at the end of the semester by taking away the online payment option. Inconvenient. I wondered how much trouble this would cause as I had heard that if one failed to pay tuition on time, the school would drop your classes. Owing to the fact that I’ve pretty much scheduled all of my schooling down to most restroom breaks for the next year-and-a-half (and not a minute more, thank you) this was problematic. So, I quickly went to my spring class schedule online. Ahh, good my classes are still there. I’ll work this out first thing on Monday morning when the business office opens again.

Just for the security of my increasingly tortured soul, I continued to check the website all weekend. All weekend, there my classes sat. Breathing easier. Monday morning I called DTS* and spoke to a delightful lady in the financial office who managed to pull off the difficult task of sounding completely gracious as she informed me that she would, indeed, be ripping out my soul by dropping my classes. I asked if there was any way to pay for them now, because according to the website they still hadn’t been dropped. She said, “No.” Then she added the incredibly helpful, “Those are the rules.” As if I needed to be reminded of the rules. Gracias por nada. I decided that this would not do, and that as soon as I was back on campus on Tuesday I would straighten this thing out.

Tuesday morning, 8:30am in the financial office went as follows:

Lady: “Good morning. Can I help you?”
Me: “Yes, I need to pay for my classes for spring.”
Lady: “Oh, I’m sorry you can’t. It’s past the deadline and your classes will be dropped.”
Me: “I’d heard that, but my classes still haven’t been dropped so I’d like to pay for them.”
Lady: “Sorry, you can’t pay for your classes. It’s past the deadline and we’re going to drop your classes.”
Me: “I understand that, but my classes haven’t been dropped yet, so how about I pay right now and save you the trouble?”
Lady: “Sorry, you can’t pay right now. It’s past the deadline. Your classes will be dropped.”
Me: “But they haven’t been dropped. How about I pay and then you don’t drop them?”
Lady: “Well, you can’t pay because it’s past the deadline and so we will be dropping your classes.”
Me: “Are you telling me that nobody will take my $3,000?”
Lady: “Yes, because it’s past the deadline.”

After this fun with circular reasoning, I was rather upset. I was told I could re-register on Thursday. Fast forward to Thursday morning, 8:00am at the registrar’s office:

Lady: “Good morning. May I help you?”
Me: “Yes, I need to re-register for my classes.”
Lady: “Okay.” Expecting her to turn to the fancy piece of machinery on her left referred to in the common parlance as a computer, I was surprised when she pushed a stack of papers toward me. “You need to fill out one of these.” These being a carbon-copy sheet of paper that amounts to a DTS* course wish list. Carbon-copy. Like in 1983.
Me: (as I am slowly recovering from the time-warp sickness) “Okay. So I just list my classes here?”
Lady: “Yes, and then we’ll put them in sometime this week.”
Me: “Sometime this week? Okay, but, one of the courses that I was ‘in’ and now am not ‘in,’ although as of this morning my schedule on the website still showed me ‘in,’ this course now has a waiting list for me to get back ‘in’ even though technically I’m still ‘in.’ If I can’t get back ‘in,’ I need to take another course. How will I know if I’m ‘in?’”
Lady: “You can just keep checking the website and see if it’s listed under your schedule.”
Me: “Like it is right now?”
Lady: “Yes, but we’ll be dropping those classes because it’s past the deadline.”

I filled out the carbon-copy form, tucked my Rubik’s cube back into the pocket of my parachute pants, popped my Duran Duran cassette tape into my yellow Sony Walkman and left. On the way out I worried that I hadn’t used a Dixon-Ticonderoga #2 pencil to fill out the form but figured it should be okay. When I got to library after this little interaction I checked my e-mail and, what do you know, as of that morning my classes had been dropped. Efficient.

By Thursday evening, the classes I had written on the carbon-copy paper had been magically transferred to my schedule on the website. Even the one with the waitlist, upon which I am #4 of 4. Great. So, I went to my night class contented.

I got home last night and thought, Now that I’m registered for classes, I should check my student account bill. So, I hopped on the handy website and checked my bill only to find that my $1,000 scholarship was now gone. I imagined someone in the business office snickering with glee as they thought about all the carbon-copy paper they could buy with an extra $1,000. I did this right before bed. Due to the fact that I sleepwalk when I’m stressed, I spent plenty of time on my feet in the middle of the night.

All of this took place in my final week of school. As you can imagine, it’s been interesting. Where it all stands today: I’ve gotten back into most of my classes (waitlist one the notable exception), and I spoke to someone today who assured me that once I’m officially registered for 12 units, which would qualify me as a “full-time student,” my scholarship money will reappear.

Through this experience, I have learned that missing a deadline is far more hassle than any paper I could be asked to write, that some things in life just don’t make sense and that anytime you decide to write about an institution in which you are currently enrolled (at least according to the shifty website) and publish these writings in a location that anyone with internet access can see, it is always best to be safe and refer to that institution in tricky terms. Here’s to you, DTS*.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Something once in a lifetime...

I wrote this part this morning, at about 8:30am:

Yesterday all the correct weather factors came together at the same time. About mid-morning, white stuff started falling from the sky. Being from the Central Valley of California, I had heard about this elusive phenomenon but rarely experienced it. The snow fell lightly throughout the afternoon, and it got really cold outside. This meant icy roads and dangerous driving conditions (which already exist anywhere Texas drivers congregate, anyway). So, this California boy was about to switch from rare experience to “that’s never happened to me before.” Here it is:

Today school is closed. Because of snow.

Just re-read that. If you live where I grew up you understand how significant this is. This doesn’t happen. School occasionally gets closed on account of an earthquake or mudslide or something, but snow? Nuh-uh.

Now I’m sitting in my pajamas, drinking coffee with hazelnut creamer and reveling in a day off at quite possibly the most critical possible juncture in the semester. Seriously, I couldn’t have chosen a better day not to have school even if I was the one in charge of snowflake distribution. Yet another reason to thank God for being so amazing.

So, I’m off to get a load of homework done and enjoy this free day.

I wrote this part around 4:30pm, as a bit of a summary:

So, of course, I planned to do disgusting amounts of homework today. That was the plan. As I sat in IHOP with some friends, I thought about the plan. Then I shoveled more eggs into my mouth and tried to put the plan out of my mind.

After IHOP I did, in fact, attend to the plan. Got a little homework done, but then I decided that it was time to do something even less appealing than the plan. It’s not that I hate taking showers (no matter what Greta says), but on days when I have nothing to do and nowhere to be, there’s something somewhat magical about just sitting around in my own filth. But, I caved and decided to take a shower. Let me reiterate that it is cold outside. This means that the pipes are cold. This means that everybody takes really hot showers in the dorm building. And most of them do so before 2:00pm. That means that when Benji decides to climb into the shower, the water is going to be cold. Real cold.

Have you ever been so cold in the shower that you use the blow dryer to warm up afterwards? Me neither. Till today. Remember, this whole snow day thing is new to me.

So, here’s the summary: It snowed, school got cancelled, I developed a plan, I ignored the plan and went to IHOP, I got some homework done, I took a shower and nearly froze, I got warm, got some homework done and even got some hot chocolate out of the deal.

Overall, I’d say this was an ideal way to spend a snow day. Compared to the none that I’ve had before, of course. Hope you enjoyed your snow day, too.