Post, Chip, Dent, and Bush, A Memorium

This is a post about a post. A wooden bicycle post to be exact. Post stood his post guarding our porch and allowing the rare bike to rest against him for five years. Post was the one thing we knew we could count on to do its job every year no matter what the conditions. Post did his job well. We thought we would be saying our farewells to Post when we finally moved. One last pat on the top of Post’s post…

Post 1Alas, not to be. Yesterday, in the prime of his life as a post, Post was mercilessly cut down. The only warning, a buzzing sound followed by a plaintive hollow wood sound as Post hit the ground. Post was the one thing in this court that did his job without fail. Cement ashtray did not, cigarette butts still outnumber leaves on the ground. Weirdly placed bench did not either, nobody has ever sat on Weirdly Placed Bench.

Post did.

Each winter when the grounds crew inexplicably put students in the driver’s seat of snow plows Post was there to protect our porch as best he could. Post’s post kept the worst of the plowing from ending up on our porch and prevented the snow plow drivers from ramming into the side of our porch displacing it into the front yard.

Post 3This is Chip. Chip used to be a corner of second step of porch. Our first winter here, the snow plow racing down the court pushing a giant pile of snow crashed into second step, birthing Chip. As you can see Chip is quite large, he used to be much smaller, but each year another crash and another growth spurt for Chip.

Post 2This is Dent. Dent is not as old as Chip, three years old if I remember right. Dent was born when a snow plow hit second step, poor second step. Not convinced that the plow stopped for a reason the driver backed up and hit second step not once, not twice, but thrice birthing Dent. Dent has had a hard knock life, growing much faster than Chip.

Post 4This is Bush. I know Bush looks like a tree, but Bush…there used to be a bush where Bush is. Our first winter, a snow plow pushed bush from there over to there (I know you cannot see, but it is a far distance away). The grounds crew seeing the empty spot and trail of dirt decided to plant Bush. Except they did not tell anyone not to hit Bush. Very next day, snow plow hits Bush giving him his characteristic lean. Bush is a good egg (tree) as he has snow piled on top of him every year and he weathers the piling without complaint, just a little more lean the following year.

Post is gone. Shortly after I snapped the photo Post was taken away. I have no idea where, but I said my goodbyes and when we leave I will wish the porch well because without Post there for protection who knows where porch will end up.


500 Words At A Time: As A Teacher, Fin

The last day of a class can be bittersweet. This was more a thank deity someone finally pulled the trigger kind of feel. Tomorrow they present their portfolios. On one hand, I am looking forward to seeing what they do. On the other hand, I know what they have done. There really is nothing more for me to say about that. I was there if and when they needed questions answered or advice. Only a couple of people took advantage of that from myself or PK, when he joined later in the semester.

That being said, this was an experience that I would not change. Had this been the perfect semester I do not think I would have been motivated to apply to graduate school. With the job I hoped I might get out of reach, I applied to get the necessary certification to get the job I want next time.

Working and dealing with the students got me to think about how I teach, what I get out of teaching, and why I like teaching. How I teach is how I like to learn which is a bit of show me what I want to know, learning what I want to learn on my own, and applying both to see what I can get. This method works with some people. At least this time, most of the students wanted to be shown how to do, but did not want to learn why anything was done. Just do for me. Application was in a similar range of doing what was asked, but not to much else. There were exceptions, but the exceptions only proved the rule.

I got more satisfaction from teaching. Even if the student gave me the metaphorical finger (and one did twice), I still got some satisfaction from being able to provide the advice, suggestion, or lesson. The couple of students who worked and wanted to do more were really satisfying. They sought out answers and suggestions; using what was given to them did their own thing. This was very satisfying watching them grow and show-off.

I finally figured out why I like teaching. I have been teaching our kids for approximately 11 years now. Teaching people how to play games for longer than that and over the last couple of years teaching people about one subject or another in a more structured and formalized manner. In all of these instances, the satisfaction and pride watching a students eyes light up with that “AH HA” moment when they go from not knowing or understanding to understanding that is what I like. Even the students who gave me the metaphorical finger had those “AH HA” moments and I enjoyed them just as much. Those moments made many of the struggles worth while and make sense. I will not lie and say I enjoyed every moment, but when that moment happened it put everything into perspective.

While the title of this is post is As A Teacher, Fin, suggesting this is the end. I do not think it is. This is the end of my time teaching as an undergraduate, but I have two children who can learn from me for many more years, lots more games and recipes to teach, and most interesting of all, to me, is that I took the next step of applying to for a graduate program so that should I be accepted and pass I can continue to teach as a professional.

500 Words At A Time: The Same

The end is in sight and on a calendar as well. The question has popped up, “What would I do the same, if I had to do this college experience all over again?” This question has a flip side of “What would I do differently?” and that is how I am approaching this topic, because there are things I would do exactly the same way or at least in a similar fashion. Those things I would do differently, in another 500 Words. 🙂

Program: I would choose the same program, Technical-Professional Communications. The English degree at Ferris is closer to a Literature degree and I like to write. The skills I learned, adjusted, refined, and defined took me from someone who knew enough to be dangerous to myself to someone who can craft many kinds of documents for a variety of audiences. I have seen these skills put into action and the results amaze and please me greatly, and those people who get better grades because of my assistance.

Family First: I would not change my attitude of family first. I missed many classes due to family and while it caused me some issues here and there, I am glad that I put them first. Choosing family over school is a choice that most students will not have to make, but if you do let your professors know up front. They will (or should) appreciate your honesty and if they have children understand your position. College will take a lot from you, try to lessen that impact upon your family where you can.

Grades: I did not care about my grades as many a professor learned. Passing or failing were not things that concerned me, other than for my own sense of satisfaction. I went into re-college as a lark and ended up taking classes very seriously, but at no time did I fret over my grades. A letter is just that a letter. What I learned is more important. I can tell and show you what I learned. A grade is only a letter.

Home: This will show up on the other post as well. Living on campus had several benefits. The best was centralized location. From our home we could walk to main campus, take the kids to school, and grocery shop. Having a roof over our heads that we didn’t have to worry too much about was nice as well. The neighbors for the most part were also good; our girl made her first real friend here and we got to know a few families before they moved.

Friends: I did not make a lot of friends, but the friends I did make I value. I would not change this. Being an older individual, even an outlier such as I, made friendships and relationships with fellow students difficult at times. Older individuals doing the college or re-college thing will have to make up their own mind about making friends with fellow students. I do highly recommend, regardless of age, making friends or at least acquaintances with professors. There are many opportunities and benefits to having a professor as an acquaintance. Many more as a friend.

The list of things I would keep the same may not seem that large, but they are all keystone things that without them I would not have ended up where I ended up and I am happy with this current final destination.



500 Words At A Time: As A Teacher, Slam Dance Edition

What do you do when half the class shows up and the other half (duh, obviously) does not show up? Why you reward those students who showed up with cookies and a bonus to the project that is normally done on Wednesday, but now has been moved to Thursday. This means that those who showed up today have gotten cookies and one extra day to work on the project.

Another thing you do, print off personal projects. Yes, I did that. I admit it and I will do it again…well not so much as these personal projects all relate to projects I am doing for my last semester. Still, you print.

What else do you do? Oh, I know, we talked about lunch. Seems that despite the cookies, the three of us, Professor, PK, and I were hungry. Unfortunately, we were not able to sync our schedules despite some well meaning, “Quit your job” and “Skip your class talk.” Apparently we are serious about our jobs and classes. Who knew?

I spent some time looking over their online portfolios. I have not been keeping up to date on them because;

  1. I was told the deadline had passed and they should be done
  2. More importantly, only three people have listened to ANY advice given to them and/or the deadlines

Which means that my job was done approximately a month ago, but I cannot leave things alone, thus I looked. I feel bad for these students should the presentation audience be half-as-bad (bad in a good way) as last year. Three of the portfolios are could be labeled abandoned. I know that if I was a follower of their portfolio/blog I would have canceled my subscription after a month without any new content or fixing of obvious problems.

Sad thing, is that they have been told this by me, the professor, and PK. Some people care and others care not. I cannot do anything about those who care not or who think they know more. Thus, I closed those online portfolios without a second thought and moved onto to those who are trying.

As I am not a teacher, I can say out loud that I have two portfolio (online and print) favorites with a third that I like and if she takes PK’s suggestion of adding her artwork I will really like. I will be happy to say that I had a hand (even if was just as suggestor (is that a word?) and advisor) in.

Kira has worked hard from the start and her portfolios show that work. If she gets the print portfolio to bend to her will, she will have a stellar presentation.

Nycole, let her freak flag fly and knocked her print portfolio out of the park (I gasped with glee). Her online portfolio took some time but matches her print in quality.

Megan, has quietly asked for and listened to the advice given to her. Her progress has been slow, but steady and then…she revealed that she can draw and now things have changed. If she adds some of her artwork to her online portfolio it will truly be hers.

Please take a look at them and let me know what you think, hell if you can let them know what you think.

Finally, with only half the class there, talk turned, in an odd way, to my past of 20+ some years ago where I dressed the same, had hair down to my ass, carried a large knife, slam danced a lot, and did full contact fighting (slightly more organized that just fighting) on a regular basis. I never claimed to be a good person in my past. Still as I was leaving a student who wandered into the classroom and had been listening to the conversation asked, “What’s slam dancing?”

Just a lot of my misspent youth…sad slam dancer.

So what was slam dancing to me, all of my anger, rage, aggression, sexual energy, and violence put to music…but that is not what I told the student. I referred him to PK, “PK will tell you,” I said as I left with my cookies.

500 Words At A Time: As A Teacher, Part Whatever

The end is in sight and the comment was made that the professor would like to have PK and I back next time. That got me thinking about what I would do differently and after today where a student revealed a hidden talent, drawing, that if the student had revealed in the first week would have made that student’s time a lot more fun.

With that in mind, here is what I would do differently starting day one (no syllabus):

Let your freak flag fly. There was a student who kept their freak (video games…not really a freak, but they seemed to believe so) secret or quiet, who upon revealing and reveling in their freak has excelled. Imagine what that student could have done if they have not hidden their freak flag. To that end, let your freak flag fly. This is your time to shine and as long as your portfolios represent you and your skills you can do anything…even sex.

Some of you will cry. Truth be told, this class should be harder and challenge the students to their utmost, this includes honest critiques of their work. Some students who have not developed thick skins will get their feelings hurt, which leads too…

You will develop a thick skin. Tech-Com students are not artists in the classic sense. They are document artists, as such they will get critiqued, and often, because their work is very visible; if a reader is holding a document that looks like shit or off they will notice and say so . Students  will develop a thick skin and learn to take a critique and make it work.

Take a leap of faith. From day one, take a chance on yourself. Doesn’t matter what it is, if you think you can do it or can’t do it, give it a try. This classroom will likely be the last safe place where you can try something, fail, and recover without getting reprimanded.

You will start to learn who you are and what you are capable of. Done right, this class will cause you to showcase your talents, abilities, and skills (such as mine right there of ignoring alphabetizing). Embrace this time because if you can get on that road now, you will be light years ahead of many people.

Like to Procrastinate? This class is a procrastinators wet dream. Everything has a due date of “later.” Which means having gone through that standard educational process to date, everything can wait until the last minute. Except much of this work cannot. Which leads to…

Be Proactive, not Reactive. The best way to approach this class will be to start on every assignment from the moment it is assigned and work on them until the last possible moment. Successful students will take every available opportunity to learn more, seek out feed back, and refine their work. Unsuccessful students, will wait to the last moment and wonder why their work does not get gushed over.

You represent more than just you. This class is about showcasing you, but in doing so understand that you represent the school and the program. Have pride in your work and present your best work at all times. If you want to phone it in, do not turn it in…much like a good chef, if the food is shit, don’t serve it.

Two last things…

Free your mind and your ass will follow. Stop thinking so much about the little shit that should roll off your back like water off a duck. You do that and a lot of this class will be easier than you think.

There will be cookies. That is all.


500 Words At A Time: As A Teacher, Part 19

Allow me a moment to vent before I get onto the meat of my moment as a teacher, of sorts. I returned from the campus bookstore having paid $120.78 for a fuzzy hat, robe, and tassel. Just one hat, fuzzy. Just one robe, not even fuzzy like from a hotel. One tassel, not even two which would be enough to be a stripper or burlesque dancer. Even worse, she…she being Barb, will only wear this outfit one time. For that price she should be wearing it at a wedding at a minimum. Nope, to standup, walk across a stage, shaking hands, taking a photo, and sitting down. Even better, none of this is considered part of the expense of being in college. It’s not tuition, it’s not a book, thus it is not part of the expense of college. I don’t know about other college students, but $120 for a one time “wearable” (I think it looks like a hospital gown with the back) I don’t have that kind of money to throw around. I did, because I believe that Barb should walk across the stage, shake that hands, and sit down. But that doesn’t mean I have to be happy about how much it costs for her outfit.

Now with that out of the way.

Today was a slow day in class. The subject was research papers, research posters, ethics, which inadvertently crossed into work ethic…theirs not work ethic as a topic. My role was to sit at the back of class and participate by adding to the conversation.

Problem with that is that the students do not view me as an expert on much of anything. Oh sure they will take the advice that I write out on post-it notes and stick to their projects. But when it comes to listening to me speak to them in person I either get, “Him again?” or “The old guy is talking again?” or my personal favorite, “What could he possibly know?” Today was “The old guy is talking again.”

I get it, I was young once and believed that I knew more than anyone else, especially someone “old.” From that stand point I do get it. I also understand that many younger people do not want to here “how it was.” Except in this case “How it was” related to the projects that they are working on. Historical context is necessary when writing an analytical paper that has historical context. Thus, the “old people” can provide that context because we were alive during that time period or have read more and can provide additional information.

However, when given “That old person is talking again,” look I am inclined to either not say anything or embellish the story. Yes, you read that right on occasion I will embellish (lie, inflame, exaggerate, or otherwise FUCK) with the information just to see if they are paying attention and because it makes me laugh. Did they notice? I don’t know. They will if they do the work. The work that they should be doing and would have been a lot easier if instead of giving the “old people” attitude they had listened. But I will be looking for signs of embellishment, mine, in their next papers. Maybe then they will listen to what an “old person” has to say…either that or I spend my life communicating with “young people” via post-it note.

500 Words At A Time: Looking Around

This will be the last post in the 500 Words book. This is not the last 500 Words post. Did that make sense?

I was sitting in our bedroom looking around and had a wistful moment where I thought to myself, “I will not see this again in a few months.” That spiraled into all of the other things that I most likely will not see again in a few months. I know I have been very “can’t wait to get out of here because this place sucks,” but there are things that I will miss. After all, five years is quite the while to stay in one place.

The Scenery: Hills, trees, and blue skies. While this is not Montana beautiful (a whole other story of mine), Big Rapids and the campus has plenty of scenery to marvel at. At one point most of my Instagram was pictures of trees, sunsets, snow, hills, bushes, and wildlife that I took while walking around.

There is nothing preventing me from coming back, but most of what I saw only happened because I was walking from one place to another-random life moments-and those are not easy to reproduce. Thus the experience will be different. While I am writing about scenery and photos, my favorite scenery moment was the only time my camera decided not to work; I stepped out of class to find a car stuck in a bush. The driver was okay, looked like they misjudged how slippery the road was and buried their car into a newly planted row of bushes.

Chalk that up to my odd sense of humor. The scenery will be one thing I miss.

The Wildlife Museum: This is a small and stupid thing to miss, but Ferris has a wildlife museum. A closet of space filled to the brim with stuffed animals, the vast majority of which are not local unless at some point Ferris was in the middle of a jungle, savannah, or swamp. I would cut through the Arts and Science building just to pass the stuffed bear in display case and when I needed a break from people visit the museum.

Walking Across Campus: I like walking across campus. I don’t do it as much as I used to due to my schedule, but when I can I walk across campus. Other than bad weather days, the view is nice (see scenery above), people watching is fun, and there was something fun and good about walking up and down the hills to get to my destination.

Bumping Into People: Related to walking and scenery is that I have gotten to know enough people that I bump into people I know. Some, like the professors, I will take a few moments to chat with before we move on, others I wave at, and others I keep on walking. Still nice to bump into people I know in one way or another. Outside of Ann Arbor of 20+ years ago, I haven’t had this experience. I like it. Now when I bump into people, it will be because I am visiting them. Just not the same.

The Porn Store: This isn’t related to the college directly, but it is. On days when everything went to shit, I could travel to the border of town where the only porn store was located. As long as one saleswoman was there it was the most fun anyone could have…provided you enjoyed talking about life, sex, and sex toys with a very funny woman in the middle of a pornslashpot store. Think what you want, but laughing about sex toy trends, people who visit the shop totally unprepared for sex, and life in general always turned a bad day around. After all if you can’t get a laugh out of sex and sex toys you may want to check your pulse.

In the end what I really will be missing are the memories…well I guess I can’t miss memories, but you get the idea. In some way, despite how much I have bitched, complained, groaned, moaned, and wanted to get out of here, this place has left an impression upon me. I know I have left an impression on this place so it is only fair.