Tuesday, February 22, 2005

In which I ramble happily

Salt Lake News

I just got home from a long weekend in Denver and my French Praxis scores FINALLY showed up. 192 out of 200. I needed only 181 to "demonstrate compentency". Ha! Take that State Office! :-p

In other recent news, I won the much esteemed Lemon Expert story challenge in the Utah Writing Monkey's1st short story challange. Yay me. I am mostly happy because this is the first time I ever managed to complete a short story, much less one that was any good. So now perhaps I will be able to get the more instant satisfaction of creating short stories rather than exclusively working on novels. I mean, I love the novel writing, but gaaaaah... finishing one is not a daily or even monthly occurance for me. Nice to have some visible progress to mark. Now I have to come up with the seed for the next challenge. To my surprise, I actually have a ton of ideas. But I think I'll try to do something slightly different than last time.

Denver Trip News

I was in Denver to visit one of my college roommates. It's interesting how much we both have changed in the last ten years (we met Freshman year, fall of 1994). We just don't have the same values or goals or... frame of reference. So we get along great while talking about things we shared in the past, or about our families. When we start talking about present or future though... it just felt weird. The feeling like "who is this alien inhabiting my friend's body"? But then, I don't act the same way around her as I do around the people I know from recent years.

Maybe I am just profoundly unable to understand an intelligent, successful woman who repeatedly says things like "I want a baaaaby. I want to get married. I don't want to buy my own house because I just want to get married and have a baby. My biological alarm clock is ringing." and yet is totally unable to appreciate a book of penis humor. Seriously, the girl would not look at the funny book of penises (peni?) (Frankly, I can't think of another body part with quite the comic value... but maybe that's just me.) So I had to ask her: "You, ah, DO know where babies COME from, right?" And she just says... "Oh, Kaatheeee."

College Flashback

Have I mentioned the fact that for the first twenty-two years of my life I went not by "kate" but by "kathy"? Oh yes, it is true. However, we had this roommate senior year at Dartmouth named Ellen. And she was--to put it as politely as possible--a fucking psychopath. Perhaps her inherent instability was tipped over the edge by the fact that she had lost her virginity in our very same senior apartment when she was but a sweet freshman. Perhaps in the quest to erase those memories, she paraded a handful of men through our apartment and her bedroom that year... often we would come home to find her sitting on the futon (my futon) in the living room, watching TV with some guy, oblivious to the fact that her miniskirt had slid up around her hips and we could all see her flower print underwear. She drank my gin. And tonic. And wine. And diet coke. (back when I used to drink Diet Coke like water). But her most annoying habit was to overuse people's names in conversation. "Kaaatheeee, do you understand what I mean?" "Kaaaaatheeee, I don't know what you're talking about." "Have you seen my [butt ugly] scarf, Kaaaaatheeee?" I shudder just to remember it. Gaaah.

End Flashback

So the point of that little tangent is that I cannot FUCKING STAND to be called Kathy anymore. Oh, my family can get away with it. I don't even register when they do it, because they've always called me both Kathy and Kate fairly interchangeably. But there's a way of saying it that just sets my teeth on edge and that's what my friend in Denver was doing.

Other than the personality conflict surprises, it was a good trip. I spent Saturday on my own because KB had an all day conference thingy at her new job. Really nice day - did some grocery shopping, explored the area, went to Washington Park to run/walk, read, and cooked dinner. Second day she and I spent together... went to lunch, went downtown, went to see Finding Neverland which was probably the best movie I've seen since The Incredibles. Though, clearly, quite a different style of film. Monday KB got off work and we had a pretty good day. I went back to Wash Park for a run/walk. KB didn't want to do the park, so she stayed home and had her dad come and take away her old couch (just bought a new one - tough life). We went to Hammond's Candies factory store and took their tour. I think the best part was watching all the little kids with their faces pressed to the windows, watching all wide-eyed at the candy makers working. Of course, we bought a bit of candy on our way out. Only polite. Heh. Dinner we did in Boulder, after browsing their trendy little shops. Ah, if only I had money. And then home again just in time to catch a phone call from my Karlyn and from Sylvan who want to hire me as of tomorrow. Yay.

And with those thoughts (mostly the candy and dinner ones), I think I'll hit the gym before I need to pick Jay up at the airport. It's good to be home.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

When does it become harrassment?

I have received two letters from the USOE in the past three days, in addition to the email I already mentioned. The tone has been unremittantly nasty, continuing to imply that I lied about the number of phone inquiries I attempted, and again claiming that my complaints (aka: whining) has ruined the USOE's relationship with the University of Phoenix. But my questions had nothing to do with the advisement agreement between the two institutions... at the bottom of the web page it says to contact this woman about language skills learned without benefit of transcript proof (or however they phrase non-classroom learning).

I have so far declined to respond to these letters of "apology". I am wondering, however, if I should consult with the U of P or with the teacher's union representative. I feel like these letters are personal attacks, implying that I should have just kept my head down and shut up about my problems. I am so not in the mood to deal with this crazy person. Do I shut up and ignore it, considering that I will most likely not be in this state next year? Or do I reply in a civilized manner, explaining my position? Why do I feel so defensive? I'm pretty sure that I'm not the one who screwed up here...
Crank Relief

Wow. Hmmm. Just rereading some of my more recent entries... now I think I know why I've been in such a good mood in real life lately. I've been dumping all my crankiness here. How unfortunate. Or perhaps not so unfortunate.

My happy creative energy has been put to good use though, just not here. Using one of zette's suggestions for creating timelines from the Two Year Novel project, I've outlined the rest of my 2YN and have been fighting to do the same with my other work-in-progress Retribution. The plan is to finish the 2YN by April, per project guidelines, and finish Retribution before NaNo2005.

Speaking of books and titles... I don't really understand how I can be so quick and certain with naming characters, yet coming up with the name of the book itself is an impossible task for me. Hence I call the book by the overall theme instead of a true title. Ah well. If I ever make it to the publication stage, I will most likely not get final say-so on it anyway. So I'll just stick to worrying about grammar, punctuation, character development, and a tight plot. Truthfully, it's the tight plot thing that hurts me every time.

Now I guess the only question is... do I take 4 hours to go xcountry skiing today, or do I cut that down to 2 hours by going to the gym instead? New snow... freshly groomed trails up Millcreek... I'm leaning towards the ski.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Words Fail Me

So. As I think I mentioned, I actually did get my teaching license in the mail last week. Still waiting for the Praxis scores back so I can add the French endorsement. One of the University of Phoenix education coordinators contacted me to let me know that all I needed for the French endorsement was the Praxis exam and then I would be in. This is not what has left me speechless. I was perfectly ready to let bygones be bygones, move on with my life, forget the incompetence I had encountered.

But then I got this email....

Ms. -----

I would like to apologize for the non-responsiveness of USOE staff. For your information, I have only one message recorded in my phone log for you (Sept. 18, 2003 1:35 p.m.); no other entries in the phone log. If you were forwarded to my assistant, she did not provide any information to me concerning your inquiries. She generally leaves phone message slips of paper on my chair but apparently goofed twice. However, I do take responsibility for my own staff members.


So far, not bad, though she does imply that I'm lying about another call. In fact, I said that I left two messages on her answering service and was twice forwarded to another employee whose name I did not record.

MB ----- does not work in the Educator Licensing Department but rather in Curriculum. Have you completed the reading endorsement application? If so, the application would have been submitted to S---, logged into your CACTUS file, and forwarded to MB who is required by her supervisor to review the application within one week and respond to my department. S---- is a secretary who tracks the endorsement applications; she has no authority sufficient expertise to inform applicants
of endorsement requirements.

Okay, totally missed what I in my email to the U of Phoenix people which was forwarded to her. I said that recently I talked to Mary Beth about another issue, about getting a letter of approval that I was on a endorsement track for reading. It was not about submitting an endorsement request, and I am fully aware that MB is not in licensing.

I mailed a letter to you today with your French endorsement review and by the end of tomorrow, you will have been placed on a State Approved Endorsement Program for French.

While this is nice, it's irrelevent. I'm not teaching French right now and won't be until summer or later. But the next part is where it gets good.

Concerning the four month delay in reviewing your application: it is inexcusable. However, please keep in mind that Utah's Educational system continues to be under funded, my staff members have significantly more work to complete in a 40-hour week than they can accomplish. Easy problems get solved first; more difficult one are delayed. Your problem was delayed
because it involved researching the Dartmouth College French and Italian Department course descriptions. Once your file was placed on my desk, I reviewed the file and made the decision by the end of the same work day. Your complaint has precipitated a change in the working relationship between the University of Phoenix license candidates and the USOE curriculum specialists. As it appears that we do not have sufficient time to complete our licensing tasks, USOE staff will no longer advise any pre-license applicants.

I am completely cognizant of the limitations placed on Education by the chintzy bastards in the state legislature. But this bitching and moaning that it wasn't REALLY their fault because blah blah blah? And as for researching the course descriptions and major/minor requirements? I was able to pull that info off the Dartmouth website in 10 minutes. And they were advising pre-license candidates? REALLY? I thought my problem was caused by the fact that I didn't get any advice beforehand.

The problem of significant delay in USOE review should be solved when the Educator Licensing Department moves to an on-line application process for the ten Utah teacher preparation institutions (July 1, 2006 target date). On the other hand, the Bureau of Criminal Identification (where criminal background checks are processed) is currently experiencing a five-month

Yes, that's why we were required to submit our paperwork for processing a year in advance. (That would be March of 2003 for those of you paying attention.)

Meanwhile, we will begin accepting institutional recommendations over the signature of each university's compliance office by July 1, 2005 so long as the teacher's ETS Praxis scores are submitted with the recommendation. In other works, the ETS score will substitute for the transcript.

Interesting, but what EXACTLY does this have to do with my case and why should I give a flying fuck?

I would like to express my regrets for the mistake in the evaluation of your undergraduate French credits as either a "major equivalent" or a "minor equivalent". B----- may have misunderstood the course numbering system for Dartmouth or may not have reviewed the major/minor of lower division/upper division distinctions when he mailed in your institutional recommendation.

Coordinator, Educator Licensing

Wow. Allow me to translate this one for you people who aren't fluent in Bitch. "I'm sorry you're such an idiot that you didn't realize that your pathetic low-level classes didn't qualify you to teach in this state. Obviously, if you can't decipher the vague directions posted online, then that is not my problem. Oh, and too bad that your advisor was an idiot, too."

So tell me, am I being too sensitive, or was that the biggest non-apology you've ever read?