Education


Many moons ago, I was forcibly uprooted from the co-ed, hippie, Montessori learning enclave of my early childhood and enrolled by my parents in Catholic all-girls’ school.  Whereas once I had daily worn teal-and-black animal-print high tops and tee-shirts celebrating the fall of the Berlin Wall, I was suddenly thrust into a world of uniform plaid jumpers, saddle-shoes, and dour-faced nuns.

Orderly rows of assigned desks replaced the colorful carpets on which I was accustomed to lounging.  I was no longer permitted to while away the hours in the library, obsessively consuming comics and books on the Salem witch trials, or scribbling in my journal.  Instead, study time was strictly scheduled and misbehavior was publicly punished.  I was forced to take math beyond pushing a desultory bead around an abacus.

Math, in fact, was the fundamental cause of this disorienting change of course, as recent testing demonstrated that my nine-year-old self possessed the vocabulary of the average college student (thanks to my insatiable appetite for reading) and the math skills of your average three-year-old sorting out Cheerios at the breakfast table.  It seems my parents found this troubling, and despite the fact that I could adeptly weave hammocks from plastic six-pack rings and was extremely disturbed by the Gulf War, some basic educational tenets were lacking in my development.

This alleged inability (or total unwillingness) to learn math was also what prompted my mother to chauffeur me, whining, to Kumon twice a week, while my dad suffered my crying fits over everything from fractions to basic Algebra.  If you are wondering if the extra-curricular Kumon teaching methods are effective, I can only say that my math skills sped from 0 to 60 and the school was later that same year forced to furnish me with a sixth-grade math book – this for the girl who, months prior, had barely mastered basic addition.  In my experience, Kumon is the steroids of arithmetic, and for your math-averse child, akin to a prolonged, pinpointed torture session.  Obviously, I plan to subject my own children to it in the future, when they’ve been very bad.    (more…)

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A week ago I had an appointment with the British Home Office in Croydon to upgrade my immigration status from a sponsored Work Permit to Tier 1 Visa as a Highly-Skilled Worker, for which I am newly qualified.  My reasons for this are two-fold:  for one, I am job-hunting, and this grants me the ability to work for any employer in any industry within the UK, rather than relying on new sponsorship within my current profession; secondly, although I still have over two years remaining on my Work Permit, I thought it best to get in there fast to take advantage of the recently relaxed requirements for Tier 1 qualification before the new Tory coalition government clamps down on immigration policy.  It means that I can continue to live and work in the UK without dependence on a company or a partner, which is a pretty sweet deal, even if it does cost £1095 for the privilege.

Like anyone would, I jumped at the opportunity to combine my passion for navigating bureaucratic red tape with the thrilling roller-coaster ride that is the uncertainty of employment and immigration status.  It’s like visiting the DMV, but with your livelihood on the line!  Already a “highly-strung” personage, I’ve found the experience to be nerve-wracking, especially on top of the dozen job interviews I’ve had over the last couple of months.  I feel like I’ve been living in an uneasy state of limbo and have been hopeful that at least settling this aspect of my existence here in London would bring some clarity.

Alas, it was not to be.  Here’s what’s happened so far. (more…)

Hi!  Remember me?  I used to post things for you to read/ignore/steal/think about/waste conf call time on, but now all I do is dream about being able to do those things.  I know I was all, “Damn The Man!” when I worked corporate and now I work for myself but still need The Man to pay me so I’m all, “Damn my lack of sick days and regulated salary!”  First world problems, ftw.  Anyway, I gotta get back to work because my hand made imported hipster panties made from the inner ear linings of albino unicorn foals won’t pay for themselves, so enjoy some history.

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Recession or not, it’s a hard world out there in general, and there are few things I hate more than turning away eager job applicants.  As a sub-middle-management type (more like the hiring front lines), I am inspired with a great deal of pathos on a regular basis.  I’ve placed a few Monster ads seeking administrative support in my time, which basically makes me a combat veteran (never again).

I’ve suffered the Walmart cashiers applying for highly-specialized technical roles, and the desperate immigrants with PhDs applying for janitorial jobs in a pitiful bid to stay in-country.  Having all these people call you on the phone to plead their cases will make you want to claw your soul out, as you have no lifeline to throw them; your false words of encouragement ring in jaded ears, and you reveal yourself as yet another, seemingly heartless, dead end.  Never include your contact number, for your own sake.

I don’t often find mirth in poorly-written resumes, or people battling for positions above or below their qualifications.  Mostly, it makes me feel sad, and then lucky to have a job, whether I like it or not.  In times like these, a good friend and I sometimes turn to a certain resume that made its way to our inboxes some years ago, and I have decided to share it with you here.

It goes without saying that names and locations have been changed to protect the witless.  However, the content remains unchanged, and so does, I hope, the enterprising spirit of one Miss Petunia Alexander:

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CatGradMiniMy dad sent me a link to a Wikipedia listing featured on BoingBoing about cats with fradulent diplomas.  The Wikipedia article compiles a list of cases in which cats have been enrolled in suspected diploma mills, resulting in degreed felines and prosecution of the academic institutes in question.  To wit:

“Colby Nolan is a housecat who was awarded an MBA degree in 2004 by Trinity Southern University, a Dallas, Texas-based diploma mill, sparking a fraud lawsuit by the Pennsylvania attorney general‘s office.[1]

Colby Nolan belongs to a deputy attorney general. In looking to expose Trinity Southern University for fraud, some undercover agents had the then six-year-old Colby Nolan obtain a bachelor’s degree in business administration for $299. On the cat’s application, the agents claimed that the cat had previously taken courses at a community college, worked at a fast-food restaurant, babysat, and maintained a newspaper route. Then the school informed Colby that, due to the job experience listed on his application, he was eligible for an executive MBA for $100 more. The agents then sent for Colby’s transcript, which claimed that Nolan had a 3.5 grade point average.

Jerry Pappert, Pennsylvania’s attorney general, filed a lawsuit against Trinity Southern University upon learning that the cat had received the degree.[2] In the lawsuit, Pappert also told the diploma mill, which had used e-mail spam to sell degrees, to provide restitution to anyone who had ordered a degree from them. (more…)

Eagerly reading today about Obama’s speech on the healthcare de(bacle)bate in the US got me thinking about the meaning of reform, be it for an individual or for a system, and how reform comes about.  While I haven’t personally read anything comparing the current press for universal healthcare to the civil or women’s rights movements, I do think that there are parallels to draw.

This video is from an interview on popular Australian program Enough Rope with former Imperial Wizard of the Klu Klux Klan, Johnny Lee Clary.  In it, Clary describes the influence of preacher and NAACP state leader Wade Watts on his eventual disillusionment with, and rejection of, the White Knights.

This clip is only a segment of the full interview with host Andrew Denton, and some aspects of it are problematic.  On my initial viewing, I felt like Watts was elevated to Magical Negro status, with his twinkly-eyed cheer winning over the misguided white man.  (more…)

…Brought to you by Weeds and Showtime.  But that’s okay!  Because it’s exactly two minutes long, artfully constructed, and I don’t feel the need to fact check it before posting.  Did you know that Queen Victoria was prescribed mariHUUUAANA for her menstrual cramps back in 1891?  Now you do!  And you can inform those around you next time you pass the pipe.  Please to enjoy:

Feel free to add your own favorite pot facts in comments – knowledge is power!

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