The semester is finished -- 05/11/05

In our front yard...

The semester is over.

I really enjoyed taking that Literature of Fantasy and the Imagination with Jill this semester. We read authors ranging from Mary Shelley to Nathaniel Hawthorne to H.P. Lovecraft to J.R.R. Token to Woody Allen. Good stuff.

The trouble was taking the fantasy lit course plus that grad course in Instructional Design. Too much work taking up too many hours on top of my actual work plus all of the usual activities such as grocery shopping and fixing meals and my attempts at getting into shape (a shape that I would like to be somewhat lighter on the scales than the shape I've been in for the past several years).

The past two weeks have been a bit busy with end-of-semester work. The final project was due for Instructional Design on May 2nd. I was trying to finish it off when my right hand began to bother me -- my ring finger on that hand actually turned black and blue -- and I got a bit worried about continuing to attempt to type would make it worse -- so I e-mailed the instructor asking for a few extra days. Then on that Tuesday (May 3rd) we had our final exam for fantasy lit. I think that went okay... anyway, I think Jill and I will both get an A for that course.

Then that instructional design project kept hanging over my head, a sword of Damocles. I just couldn't get back into it... every night, by the time dinner was over I was just too tired to get my brain into gear. Anyway, on the weekend I managed to get myself back to working on it and I submitted it Sunday night (yes, Sunday night -- this is that course I was taking over the Internet from UMassBoston -- so it was an online submittal) and felt a great sense of relief. I don't know what I'll get for a grade -- don't know if she will take off for being late or not -- so I could end up with a B for that course. That's okay, a B is good enough to get my employer to reimburse me for the cost of tuition, but the last time I got below an A was the semester Jill was born.
And Jill celebrated her 23rd birthday yesterday...

Systems Problem Solving Methodologies. That was the course Nancy and I were taking when Jill was born... except the professor pronounced it Zyztems -- imagine a Freudian analyst from Vienna. I somehow had been expecting a very practical course on how to detect and fix problems with computer systems (hey, I can be a very literal-minded guy) and I was working as a programmer analyst in administrative systems for the university and somehow I had convinced myself that this was going to be a very valuable and useful course -- boy, was I wrong! The first night he talked about the meaning of the word "systems" and elaborated on that concept for sometime and then got into meta systems (systems made up of other systems) and then meta meta systems (which were, of course, systems composed of meta systems) -- except, of course, he was speaking about zyztems und meda-zyztems und meda-meda-zyztems. I got through the first night, but after that... uh... This was some kind of high level math-related course -- well, sort of math-related -- you know, the kind of math where you never see any numbers and half of the letters are Greek -- an assumption that everyone speaks integral and differential calculus fluently (I had never taken any calculus course) -- Nancy had been a math major as an undergraduate and I could usually get her to explain math concepts that I had been taught too many years ago to remember or that I had never been taught... but she would have a puzzled look during this class and sometimes would just shrug when I would ask for an English translation. There was a teaching assistant assigned to this course -- one night I asked the TA if he could explain the main points of that evening's lecture and he told me he hadn't understood anything after the first fifteen or twenty minutes.

So Jill's birth came at the end of the semester and we missed the final exam -- which was when you were also supposed to hand in your term paper. We had stopped work on our papers when Nancy went into labor, thinking we would get Incompletes and could finish them during the summer or fall -- but the professor was leaving town in a few days and was going to spend the summer and fall at some university in Austria and didn't want to have to face any leftover grading when he returned in January -- so he absolved us from having to take the final exam, but he wanted our papers -- so we had about two days to get them pieced together and handed in. Nancy's had been almost complete but mine needed [cough, cough] a bit more work -- on the other hand, she had just had a Caesarian section -- but somehow we got them typed and turned in. I got a B, can't remember if Nancy got a B or an A. But that was the last B I got (and, yes, thankyouverymuch, I have taken a number of courses since then).

Anyway, now the semester is over and I can relax a bit.... although nobody can relax quite as thoroughly as a cat lying in the sunshine.

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