Academia says goodbye, all the crazy says hello.

TLDR: I need to do this more often, I’m out of practice, and still brain fried by academia. I also may not be finished.

So I thought things would slow down once I was done with college things. And then I was done with college things, and haven’t stopped since. Which may or may not explain why the last time I did more than keep this site online was before the semester started–and why I’m just now making a vague attempt at solving that problem now.

It was 3 years in the making, but on the 15th of this monthI sat down to write the last ever exam in the last ever course of the last ever semester of my college program. And right on schedule, I walked out of that exam room and straight into the job market. No, there were no offers of crazy high paychecks yet, but since finishing my course I’ve already tossed off half a dozen applications–and half of them have already poked at me, soI’m officially on notice to be available when the calendar turns over. From September to December it’s been a healthy dose of crazy topped with insane and lightly sprinkled with chaos. In other words, perfect. And somehow, despite its best efforts, it did not kill me.

I traded one crazy in for another when exams were over. On top of applying for jobs, I got the hell out of Ottawa. For reasons both related and not to academic things, I needed a vacation. So I’ve been doing the small town thing–which, naturally, means we haven’t stopped since I got here.

I’ve always said I couldn’t live here, despite the fact pretty much my entire family’s essentially right here. Places like this just really aren’t my thing. But that makes my occasional ventures into Crazyville and all the holy hell that comes with just that much more enjoyable (*). And doing it over Christmas basically means close your eyes, hold your breath and dive in, because once we start we do not stop until the guy doing the driving hits the floor. And then that’s only so the next in line can take his place. In the weirdest possible way, quite probably entirely to blame on how I was raised, visits like this end up helping me relax despite the fact they should just about kill me. But, when I return to Ottawa, I’m pretty damn sure I’ll sleep for a week.

I’ll probably do a 2016 in review post one of these decades, but suffice it to say it’s been just a wee bit all over the place. I don’t expect it to get a whole lot calmer in 2017, though I do expect it to get slightly more affordable. That by itself will make inflicting that kind of brain damage on myself more than worth it. Which, in turn, will probably motivate me to take another stab at doing the academic thing next year–I’ve been informed in no uncertain terms that having taken this program just made a few other things about ten times easier for me, and since I like easy, yes please. The end of my academic plan, if it goes the way I’m hoping, essentially guarantees me a foot in the door just about anywhere. Useful, when you’ve got people suggesting places like, say, Edmonton are good for you.

Long story short: I am officially no longer a geek in training. However the first person to declare me an expert is going to receive an essay on why there are, in fact, no such things as experts–particularly in all things geek. In the meantime, if some aspiring project wants to hire me and is willing to actually, you know, pay me…

(*): I always find visits with family to be enjoyable, though usually after I’ve had a few days to recover back in Ottawa. It may or may not be related to the fact that by the time we stop, we’re all about 45 seconds away from passing out where we’re standing, at which point 5 hours of sleep feels like about 5 minutes. I wouldn’t trade it for a thing–but in the new year, I’m gonna want a vacation from my vacation.

So how did you spend your summer vacation?

I’ve managed some kind of personal best–three months or so without having done more than respond to a few comments over here. Well, that and do the usual updating for security reasons and, um, malware prevention reasons. So why have I been quiet? Simply put, I need a vacation from my vacation.

College kicked my ass. so much so that I’ve lined up to do it again in a week and change. so I thought I’d take the summer off and let my brain recharge. apparently, if you’re me, that means you get a poke from a long-time friend a week or so after the dust settles who asks if you happen to by any chance know Linux. I tell her I may have heard of it, and she lets me in on a possible something I might be interested in. This possible something, as it happens, involves setting up an Asterisk phone system for a small startup based in the US. That project ended up branching off into a few other areas of Linux administration, primarily for the same company, and it’s kept me largely out of trouble. Needless to say I’ve had my hands full, and every minute of it has been essentially exactly what I just finished doing the month before I started. And now they’re talking about the possibility of developing a system based on exactly what I just set up that they can potentially sell to businesses who could use a halfway decent system without being whacked over the head by a price in the millions and a contract with Microsoft. So that’s apparently a thing.

When I haven’t been busy with that, which hasn’t been very often, I’ve been busy catching up on all the things I couldn’t catch up on because I pretty much lived at the college. Things like, say, a social life. I’ve been to see the family a handful of times, been actually managing to meet up with some folks I’ve been meaning to do that with for a while, and started sort of reconnecting with one or two people I’ve had to let go of for life reasons. And in and around all of that, I’ve gotten myself mixed up with a completely different sort of project locally–you can sort of see what it looks like over here. That project’s still very much in the initial stages, but the brains behind the operation has plans, so this has the potential to be either incredibly amazing or wickedly embarrassing–and I’m having just a wee bit of difficulty figuring out if I care which. So basically when college does start up again I may just be looking slightly forward to the break.

I had plans for this summer. They mostly involved being lazy. Instead I’ve been up and all over the place. and this is why I just about never make plans. It’s been fun, and I’d do every minute of it over again in a heartbeat, but now I need a vacation. So how was your summer?

So this is what free time looks like…

It’s amazing what happens when you’re having to do all the things. Like, for instance, you’re undoubtedly going to realize you’re running out of room for things. That is my academic life. So when the end of April hit and another semester ended up falling away behind me, this meant all the things that were put off because lack of time during the school year… well… now get to show up front and center and in a big way. so while the time off school’s been nice, today is the actual first day in which I’ve been able to say–and mean–I’m on vacation.

The thing about academia is even when you’re done, you’re not really done. I had exams the last week of April–which clearly did not hurt nearly as bad as I thought they would, but even while that was underway I was fielding questions about my next steps. Would I be coming back for the spring semester? How about the fall? If I’m coming back in the fall, what services will I need access to–hint: exactly the same as I just got finished using. And now that I’ve had time to catch up on all the non-academic things, I’ve geared up to start that whole process all over again. Why? Because clearly, I am insane.

The official last bit of final semester (*) paperwork was submitted this afternoon, in the form of the application to have the government continue to pay for said final semester. That officially signified that the vacation, if you’re me, now has clearance to actually do something useful. Oh, there’ll still be trips back and forth to the college over the next few months I’m sure–it may be 2016, but folks still have this thing with doing as little possible online–but the actual work part of all of this can now sit and spin until I’m good and ready to care about it. And that will be… ahem… a while.

While I’ve got the time, this means some overdue personal projects can finally get some attention. Like the overhauling and updating of a resume that hasn’t seen much of an update in a few years. And the casing out of places that might could possibly want to hire me. And somewhere in there, because I have been informed that failure to do so may result in my head becoming detached from my shoulders, there will be trips to see people–mostly because I was informed either they’d pay for my way down there or they’d come and get me, and you don’t generally back away from choices like that if you like breathing. Since I’m rather fond of breathing, as soon as paperwork and other people’s loose ends are squared away, I have travel plans. Considering the year I’ve had, they’re not entirely unwelcome.

Between that, and the fact I’ve still got a fair bit of unpacking to get done post-move, I fully expect I’ll still be far too busy for my own good. But, this is the kind of busy I can live with. And in the meantime, I can maybe possibly become aquainted again with what free time looks like.

Not entirely unrelated: If you know anyone who needs a geek and will pay well, I’m available…

(*): Yes, it took me long enough, but September of this year marks the start of my fourth and final semester in this program. There’s an optional cybersecurity extension program I can go for if I qualify, but I will be finished the program I was aiming for–and therefore significantly more marketable than I was even 10 years ago, and I was pretty freaking marketable 10 years ago. Now there’s just the matter of the upside down economy, but, you know, small progress and all that.

Education: 1 James: 0

Up side: It hasn’t been 4 months since the last time I looked at this thing. Slightly less up side: Academia and I have become incredibly close over the last couple months. to the tune of I may have to tell the next person I’m dating that I can’t marry her on account of I’m married to the college.

I’m in semester 3 of a 4-semester program, and it’s not slowed down for more than 5 minutes since I started. Which is awesome, if you’re me, but slightly less if you’re other people who may want to hear more than the occasional 4 words from me. But on the bright side, I’ve discovered exactly why I wanted this program in the first place–they grade me on my ability to do sysadmin related things. Which, well, I may or may not have had a small amount of experience with before my webfaction migration. Professor says make me an email server, to which my almost immediate answer is give me 5 minutes with Postfix. This is probably the most fun I’ve had at any level of schooling ever–and this stuff people actually want to pay me for. Since when is that a thing?

My time not spent in class is spent toying around with Ubuntu, usually for something exceedingly school related–like, say, the above mentioned mail server, or messing with windows Server 2008 because apparently someone somewhere thinks I want to get paid to set up and fix MS Exchange servers for a living. And that’s the way it goes until April, after which everything becomes optional until September.

Things I’ve had reinforced since this semester started, in no particular order:

  • If you thought being a Windows user was an exercise in headache, spend an hour as a Windows sysadmin. Particularly spend an hour sysadmining a new Exchange server. I have not seen something fail so hard in my life, and I’ve seen a lot of fail. And when it fails, you are not fixing it with a reinstall–unless you’re reinstalling your OS. In short, pray it doesn’t fail. You’ll thank me later.
  • Thoroughly tested does not necessarily mean working. If you’ve tested the hell out of your VM networking setup at home, then bring it into the school environment having passed all your tests, it *will* implode. And sometimes, it’ll look pretty while it does it. Go in with a plan C, because plan B will probably blow up right after plan A did.
    • This is doubly true if you’ve got multiple network cards to play with–VMWare likes to break them both if it disagrees with something you’ve done to one. Then good luck figuring out which one.
  • There are 80000000 ways to accomplish the exact same task. If you decide to do it the overly complicated way, there are 80000001. But if you break something doing it the overly complicated way, there are about 45000000000 possible points of failure.
    • Things you should not do if you get to that point: send your lab partner an email that just says “I broke it”. Your lab partner is very likely to congratulate you and keep working on what he’s doing. Particularly if your lab partner is me.
  • The world really and truly does run on caffeine. I thought it was a myth, even when I was working night shifts handling my 7500th call because the latest Windows update tanked something. Then I came to college. Nope, definitely not a myth. There be people there who consume far more caffeine than I ever have, and I thought I had a lot. Some of it’s justified–the workload will kill a lesser being, and some of these people have families, jobs, and actual social lives to attend to when they’re done. And some of us just don’t sleep. Ahem. *cough* Hi.
  • And lastly: Whatever you do, however and wherever you do it, do not ever dev on the prod box. It is going to break, and break horribly, and when it does, they will hear your frustration down the hall. And some of us, having warned you it would happen, will probably be laughing as we head off to refill our caffeine.

This semester’s not done yet, and I’m already starting to formulate vacation plans and junk for when it is, but it’s things like this that are why I picked this program. It’s also things like this that are why other people tend to hear a whole lot less from me when I’m in the midst of said program–or, in terms of last summer, recovering from having been pasted to the wall by this program. Education is kicking my ass. But if I come out of this mess with even a little more than I had when I went in, it’ll be worth it. Now, about this caffeine thing…

Geek training, now with actual geek tools.

College is awesome, if for no other reason than while I’m not being paid, I’ve still got plenty to keep me occupied during a day. And now, the stuff I have to keep me occupied just became a whole lot more relevant. I’ve been taking this program for pretty much exactly a year, now, but the thing about this program is it’s taken that long just to get to the parts most people who go through it are more likely to use once they’ve found someone who’ll pay them. Not necessarily by choice, but definitely by design–there’s just that much actual background material that needs covered before you get there. You can’t, for example, throw up a web server on a Linux machine if you don’t know how to make Linux do your tellings. Well, you can, but I’m not supporting you. So the first year and change was pretty much this is how you make the things go. Now comes what I like to think of as play time.

The entire reason for me taking this course is to put the skills I already have on paper. I’ve done the Linux administration thing. I’ve done the website maintenance thing. I’ve done the hosting thing. But that’s been a thing I do when I can find both the free time and the spare money–both of which have rather recently come into some shortish supply. So the first half of the program was spent largely covering ground I’ve already covered on my own time and fighting with the occasional professor for reasons far too well known to anyone who’s done the college thing from the perspective of someone with a disability. It’s been fun, but not quite what I signed up for. From this semester onward, though, it gets interesting–and, very likely, significantly easier if you’re me, considering the difference between me and a certified geek is, well, not much.

For instance, one of the courses I’m taking this year is rather self-explanatorily called PC Troubleshooting. Essentially, while there’s a relatively small theory component to the course (there’s only one two-hour lecture a week), the entire point of that course is you walk into the lab, the professor hands you a computer, and your task is to 1: find out what’s wrong with it and 2: fix the damn thing. While all the while being very thankful your professor isn’t quite mean enough to make you nearly relive one of the stereotypical tech support experiences in the process. If you’ve been reading for half as long as the site’s been online, 1: congratulations–I’m impressed, and 2: you probably know on some level this used to be that thing I’d get paid to do, only not in the hands-on sense quite so much–I’d do the finding out what was broken, but then I’d usually be sending someone else with the parts to fix the broken (call center work has its advantages). So this has the potential to be very similar, minus the paycheck.

In another instance, this semester’s Linux course has a component that will involve you setting up and configuring web and email services. Now, I wouldn’t call myself an expert in the area, but I’ve rolled my own in both cases. I’ve also handed a large portion of that rolling to legitimate hosting software when I’ve needed to–see also: 4:00 AM phone calls because person A needs a new email address. I’ll probably learn something, but I’m expecting this to largely just be that thing I’ll do while half awake and walk off with a decent enough grade to matter. Which means I can give just a little more attention to that component of the program that requires I be able to do the same thing on a Windows server. Because, you know, Windows is precisely what I’d want running my business resources.

We’ve sat through the geek training. And while I’ve discovered not for the first time I suck at the theory portion (this is why me and school weren’t on speaking terms for several years), it’s the practical aspect that will probably concern an employer more than anything else–and I’ve got that covered. Now, we get the actual geek tools. And this, right here, is exactly what I came for. Now, about plans for summer…

In which education kills brain cells and eats sleep schedules for lunch.

So. I might have mentioned it’s been wicked crazy if you’re me. I might have also mentioned that I rather love that it’s been wicked crazy. The problem with education getting wicked crazy, though, is it tends to pretty much force everything else to the back burner. If you’re me and it’s getting pretty near the end of the semester and you’ve still got a nifty little stack of things that need sorted through, doing or just handing in because you’re an idiot and neglected to do so, that kind of eventually starts to include things you’ve been relatively good at holding together–or, at least, faking it ’til you make it in any event. Which, conveniently enough, is how I ended up turning in a paper I’d written in 3 hours… at 6:30 this morning. It’s a hell of a ride, and I’m definitely going to need the 3 weeks I’ve got coming to me after tomorrow’s exam, but this course is exactly where I need to be. I’ve always considered myself mostly a geek in training, though not in any real way that would have ended up with getting me paid–not for lack of my grasping at any straw going. But these classes are a halfway decent excuse to put that training into something that vaguely resembles real practice while adding to it with a logical end goal of an actual paycheck. Even if that process accepts payment in student loans, brain cells and what’s left of my already not quite together sleep schedule. Still, the only loose thread I have to tie up on this semester is tomorrow’s exam, so that’s a thing. I’ll take it. Now about that vacation…

In which life happens and leaves me behind. again.

Not for the first time and not for the last time I’ve gone a small age without actually touching this site. Fortunately this time I’m not coming back to the thing in time to deal with a potential malware infection–I don’t think. Long story short: everything is happening. And because not everything requires a full paragraph’s explanation, coupled with the fact I’m still as lazy as ever, have a thing in list format. Because sure.

  • College: Holy hell on toast the busy. I started my second semester in September. It’s now mid-October. And I just now think I might have a sort of handle on how my schedule looks. In short, I expect to have no social life to speak of between now and approximately 2017 barring complications of the unforseen variety. Love the courses, though. I even love the courseload. Could do without the schedule. In particular, doing the lab work for stuff we haven’t yet spent any theory time on is all manner of fun–particularly when the courses, rather, don’t necessarily come with textbooks.
  • Personal: What hit me? It’s been a very interesting/eventful summer/early fall. Without getting into details that aren’t fit for public consumption, everything is changing and will just keep right on changing. There is yet another move in my near to immediate future. I’m still staying in Ottawa, mind, and will hopefully still be in this end of Ottawa, so there’s that. But, uh, that’s a thing to be planned around. It’s gonna get interesting before it gets stable–hey, kind of like just about anything I touch so far as code’s concerned.
  • Baseball: What the actual? The last time Toronto had a team that was anywhere near the postseason of baseball, I was 10. That year, they won the world series for their second time. Now, we’re playing in the ALCS–and just lost one, but I’m not overly concerned. I say again. What the actual?
  • Related: Hey guys? You picked the wrong year for the #LoveThisTeam hashtag. #ComeTogether is just so very much overrated.

Hockey: don’t–just don’t. My Leafs are rebuilding. It, uh, shows. I’ll watch when I think of it, but let me let you in on a little something. IT doesn’t hurt any less when you know that’s the plan.

Like I said. I probably forgot or skipped past more than a few things. That’s what happens when you just now remember that yes, you can actually do more than check the thing for signs of broken. With a little luck and a lot of miracle, it won’t be 2016 before I remember to do this again. But who am I kidding? It’s what I’m good at. Well, that and coming from behind in the world of academia. Speaking of, ahem… Excuse me.

In which I actually learn things. Who knew?

This thing’s due for an update. I have a couple minutes free in class. Therefore, update. And it’s a something.

Last week, I officially started what I term my geek training. 6 eternities and a forever later, I walked into the first class of a computer systems technician program at Algonquin College. And in that first week and a half, I actually learned something useful–including a couple different keyboard shortcuts for Linux I didn’t actually know existed. Considering how much time I spend in Linux, that’s a something on its own.

The thing I think I’m going to absolutely adore about this program, though, is it’s almost entirely hands-on. For instance: I’m sitting in a Windows course right now. There’s a theory component to it, which is why I’m sitting here writing this (it helps that he’s talking about things I already know), but then there’s a hands-on, lab component to it–where I get to install Windows in a VM, play with it, break it, and generally prove I know how to do the things we just talked about in theory. The same thing applies for the course I’m taking on Linux–which falls right into part of where I want to be anyway, so that works. Our theory classes, plus our lab work, involves connecting to a Linux server on campus–the server runs an instance of Ubuntu, if you’re curious what I get to play with a couple times a week.

That was a problem, I think, in school environments I was in before–my first run at college, and then the upgrading I did last year to get into this program. That was almost all theory, so you had people going on and on about junk and you just got to sit there, kick back, listen and try your damnedest not to fall asleep. Now, they let me play. And they test me on what I’m playing with–so I break all the things, fix all the things, and get graded on it. Only thing it’s missing is getting paid for it. But, I’ll take it. And now, I suppose I ought get back to paying attention to this professor’s droning…

There will be a better entry eventually. But hey, first time since October. Work with me some. College geek is in college.

College. Finally.

So it’s taken approximately three quarters of forever and a small portion of eternity, but effective just as soon as the financial details are sorted, this geek goes back to school–for real, this time. I’d been doing the academic upgrading thing over at Algonquin since last year as just one of the many significant hoops I had to crawl through to actually get into my program. That, at least, ended up being wrapped up in August in a very anticlimactic way. It was a math course, which–as I may or may not have said once or twice–seems mildly pointless considering how much the program I’m heading into doesn’t actually have to do with, you know, math. But it was required, and after completing most of that course then taking an assessment test to kick myself out of the rest of it, I was pretty much in the clear. So as soon as I discovered I was pretty much in the clear, through the door and into the world of college applications I went at breakneck speed.

I’d done this dance, at least, before–albeit it’d been a decade and there were a few new twists I needed to introduce this time around, so in a way it was sort of getting back to the familiar. But with the majority of my headache being out of the way, getting it done and handed off this time did amazing things for my stress levels. That leaves the waiting game, but amazingly enough that’s probably easier than what I just shoved out of the way to get this far.

I took the long way around for a shortcut, largely because I freaking had to, but after way too freaking long, my geek has the potential to wind up showing up on paper. One step closer to making me marketable again, and three steps further from going completely nuts. That second one may change at around approximately March, but I’ll get back to you. In the meantime, it’s about freaking time.

In which I try sidestepping my way into college.

So. This thing got forgotten about again. Largely because math was killing my remaining brain cell. But math is pretty much done with now, so there can be broken. At least until I go back to procrastinating.

So how’d I do with the math course overall? Well, I’m not done as in done, as in completed. I’m done as in I’ve been informed I could have avoided taking the last part of the course, the graphing/extrapolating/brain twisting part of that course, by just sitting down and taking a placement test instead. I found this out escentially two months into the last part of my course. So now, I kick back and cool my heels while the stress of the last year or so goes that-a-way, and set me up to take a placement test. Assuming the placement test doesn’t trick me with misleading sample questions, this oughta go a step towards confirming I’m definitely getting the hell into my geek program in January. Which means this thing can get back to what I was hoping to use it for when I started this version of the site–geek things. Well, okay, and political rantings and God knows what else, but you know. It’s a long way around to get to where I need to be, but I think I can see it now. That’s something. I’ll let you know when I know what that something actually looks like.

On Wikipedia as research method: why not?

The class I take–as in, the one I should be focusing on at the moment rather than doing exactly what I’m doing right now–is sandwitched in between two presumedly highschool level English classes. During one of those classes, I walked in on the tail end of a discussion between the instructor and a student on a research project she was working on. I don’t recall if I heard exactly what she was researching, but the student seemed to be having some issues with coming up with material for that project–particularly online material. Apparently, the only semi-solid resource she was able to track down online was Wikipedia. To which, I could pretty much tell the instructor was doing all manner of shaking her head. that was pretty much confirmed when she escentially advised the poor girl to back away from pretty much anything to do with online material so far as research goes, on account of just about anyone can edit and/or create the material and so there’s no actual honest to god verification of that material. She meant it specificly in Wikipedia’s case, but the impression I got is it could be just as valid for, say, a website/community blog that focused specificly on one specialized subject–like, say, some of the sites hanging out in the sidebar over there. And it kind of got me to thinking. Isn’t that the point?

The disadvantage to a Wikipedia, according to instructor lady, is just about anyone who thinks they know something about a subject can drop an edit on a page related to that subject and have it reflect as part of the “official” record on that subject. I didn’t jump into that conversation, but I was thinking–and apparently I’m not alone with that thought–that that’d be probably one of wikipedia’s strongest advantages, if you were the type to give a thing like that an advantage. I say that knowing for every mainstream subject with 40 or 50 people who actually know their stuff, there’s another 60 to 100 who love the opportunity to theorize, criticize and just generally let it be known they consider themselves experts in the same. Which was probably what the instructor was referring to. But here’s the thing, and this is what I find nifty about a Wikipedia-like environment. More often than not, the fringe folks who can’t actually back up what they’re tossing on an otherwise mainstream page will find they’ve been escentially outvoted and the completely whacked out edits don’t usually last long. Equally usually the actual, solid material is more often than not verified by linking to places where John Q. User can’t create an account for the specific purpose of scraping the record clean. So even if you wouldn’t quote directly from Wikipedia (who would, given the particular passage you quote might not be there tomorrow), you can usually use it as a springboard to move you to places who’s exerpts you borrow will probably still be there in 4 or 5 years, barring a situation wherein the whole damn site blows up.

There’s actually a not entirely objective reason why I’m in the pro-Wikipedia-as-research-method camp. It dates back to before the average person knew what the hell a Wikipedia was. As a research project of my very own when I was doing the highschool thing, I did a profile type deal on what hockey was like in the days of gordie Howe, and ended up overlapping it with a transition to the days when Gretzky pretty much owned the place. The internet was still new enough that the trend of slapping “cyber” on a word and adding it to the criminal code with tripple the sentence hadn’t quite started to become a trend yet, but old enough that places like encyclopedia Britanica were starting to see the light and putting up at least some of their info for online consumption. I actually sort of wish I’d kept a copy of that paper around just so I could remind myself exactly which online sources I scraped for it, but that was several computers and a couple floppy disks ago. But I do remember the traditional dance of hit the library, come back with an armload of textbooks, flip through them, curse and do it all over again was escentially supplemented with stops at magazines with online archives, NHL related stats and history websites, and other people’s biographies of the man in between trips. And every internet source had a URL, exactly like every textbook source had page/chapter numbers and all that jazze. As I recall, even though most people were still trying wicked hard to wrap their heads around this whole internet thing, no one flipped their stack on account of online means somehow less verifiable than an actual, physical copy of the exact same material.

And yet I sat pretty much where I’m sitting now and listened to that conversation wondering if, assuming I’d had her as my English teacher in those days, I’d have passed the class considering my own methods. Surprisingly fewer people actually live at the library these days for research type things, unless they’ve established they can’t pull what they need for material from, well, anywhere else. Why? The simple answer is it’s freaking 2013. there’s internet access pretty well freaking everywhere. And with projects like Google Books having been ruled not in violation of copyrights–suck it, authors’ guild–there’s increasing likelyhood the exact material you’d have gone to the library for a few years ago will relatively soon be searchable, if only in small sections–which would probably suit quoting for research purposes just fine to begin with. That, combined with something like a Wikipedia to potentially get you started with at the very least links to more solidly verifiable–and, apparently, research-appropriate–material, can’t do much but be a huge favour to someone with a nack for finding pieces and fitting them where they go to get across a convincing position. And the only thing I can actually think is where would the harm be in that? Instructor lady figures it’s all over the place. Part of me hopes she runs into this–I wouldn’t mind seeing her show her work.

Death of a 5-year weekend. Or, an epic crash course in college mobility.

I haven’t had a job or anything like it since the recession sent mine overseas. That was in 2008. Since then, I’ve been telling folks I’ve been on one continuous long weekend. Oh, sure, I’ve had the occasional interview that may or may not have resulted in a “don’t call us, we’ll call you”, but then it usually kind of just sat there looking pretty and that was pretty much that. There were education related things tossed in there as well, but they usually fell apart for one reason or another–I’m staring directly at places like Everest College. So since 2008, it’s been weekend.

Effective as of this past Monday, that weekend officially died a death. And my brain went right along with it–did I mention I despise math with the passion of a thousand suns? But the death of a 5-year-weekend was only part of the fun that was getting things started. The rest of it came about when I went to untangle exactly where it was I was supposed to be showing up to kill this 5-year-weekend. As it turns out, you’re not officially a blind college student until you’ve obtained, in your first couple hours on campus, an intense familiarity with the layout of the said campus.

Some background, for background’s sake. Algonquin College is awesome, for the most part–aside from their still unexplained requirement for a math. They’re also, at times, awesomely confusing. So much so that even the fully sighted have been known to admit defeat and occasionally just follow the crowd in the hopes the wall of people in front of them is going roughly in the right general direction for them to just kind of let go and be dropped in front of their classroom. So when I got a phone call last Friday what said I’d be tromping pretty much across campus from where I thought I’d be to actually get to class, I was prepared to do some early morning mapping. My class was at 10, which meant if I could get away with it, I was going to be on campus and trying to see how lost I could get by 9. so I show up at 8:30 to finalise things–apparently, spreading paperwork out so you’re finishing it the day you start classes is not actually unique to an official college program. And I’m told when I get there that no, the person who told me I’d be campus hopping was wrong and that I’d be going this other direction and finding this other room instead. Well. Okay, then. I mean annoying, but at least this other room’s in the same building–so no trompings to places in which one could become mildly confused just trying to aquire the general vicinity, nevermind the specific classroom. Awesome. So I’ll have some free time, says I, to go grab coffee and maybe see if other people are in so May and I can pick brains before I go to class and she does what she does. So I go and I find what I’m told is the new classroom. Not difficult to get to, thank christ. And away I go to get other things done so when the class is over the only thing I need to accomplish is get my ass the hell home and give my brain a rest.

So that gets done, we go about the business of finding and picking at other people to make sure things are in place so 1: I can take this course without falling on my face and 2: May can start her course later on without it blowing up in her face. We manage to mostly do that, then figure it about time for me to show up at class. Give me a few minutes before the start of class to actually have a hi how are ya with the instructor and figure out how we can make this thing happen in a way that ends up being doable for me and not migraine inducing for her. For the record, my instructor is a box of awesome, but more on that in probably a less novel-like post. So it’s back over to that section of the campus so I can get set up, start actually getting my work and yada yada blah. And doesn’t the person I spoke to when I got there catch me. “James,” she starts, “I’m so terribly sorry. It looks like you’ll be going over to this other room after all. Oh but don’t worry, you just go down this hall, make a left, then a right, then straight, and a left, and you’re there.” If I had more than 20 minutes to actually find the new class, I’d have very likely used some of it to throttle the right royal hell out of her. But I didn’t, so I didn’t. I did turn around and bail it the hell out of there before it got too tempting–and also because I only had 20 minutes in which to find a less brainmelting way to find my class and do any interesting little workarounds that need doing to make it happen.

So. I planned an hour for tromping across campus in the event I got my ass lost. I ended up with 20 minutes for trompings and no getting my ass lost room. And I still had little to no actual idea where I was going. Awesome. Okay, time to cheat a little. May knew most of the building the new class was in, just not the specific area my class would be. So, fine. So between the two of us, we got at least to the general vicinity. Then it was ping a random and have it point us in the general direction of the specific room. Fun times all around. And it somehow happened with about a minute to spare. Don’t ask–I have no idea. But before I even started class, my brain was twitching like a crack addict on a cold streak. Not bad for a Monday. Now, let’s have at the rest of this thing. Just, er, hold the general failure, deal? Well, I can dream.

Back to school, the hard way. Or, who’s bright idea was math anyway?

So let’s see. The last time I thought about educating myself, I ended up chasing Everest College around in a near to endless circle and wound up right back where I started. That is, no closer to being educated and no further ahead with working with the school on making things workable so I could get me educated. The entire point? I wasn’t entirely impressed with the way Algonquin wanted me to go about getting escentially the exact same education. I’m still not overly impressed, but given I’ve been in neutral for the better part of too long already I’ve about run out of options.

I’ve been looking for a way to take the skills I’ve already got in the sysadmin realm and put them on paper, more or less professionally, while at the same time probably picking up a few things I don’t already know. Like, say, why anyone in their right mind would choose to run a corporate website on any version of Windows Server, but you’ll have that. Both Algonquin and Everest offer escentially the same course, with at least moderately close to the same results. The key difference–and it’s a difference I’m still having more than a little difficulty wrapping my head around–is the course at Algonquin not only has a math prerequisit, but also runs a single, solitary math course in the first semester of the program. To what end I haven’t a clue, but beyond the first semester I’ll very next to likely never open a math textbook again in my life. That is–unless I plan on following through on my threat and adding some variation of programming skills onto what this program wants to teach me (Can we say professional student, anyone?).

When I brought up that situation with the guy what ran the course at Everest, even he seemed a bit confused by the requirement–you’re not designing the circuitry, for crying out loud, you’re just piecing what’s already been designed together and making sure component A plays compatibly with operating system B. Escentially a more hands-on perspective of what I used to get paid to do, more or less. And I sure as hell didn’t need math to do it then. But, Algonquin seems to have a different opinion on what it takes to be the guy what fixes their equipment, so we do the dance and hope for the best.

And that’s pretty much why, barring a complete failure of just about everything between me and the college campus, on October 15th I get in line for my very own generous helping of brain damage. The first step is to go through their academic upgrading course, because not thinking I’d need to see myself going back to school 10 years after leaving highschool and not figuring the world would escentially implode economically speaking, taking my job right along with it, and knowing you pretty much didn’t need a whole huge heaping helping of extra education beyond a decent ability to learn quickly while sidestepping from one problem to the next meant I got the hell out of highschool at the first chance handed me. It also meant I didn’t see a need to take a math course in my final years–I took an extra English instead so I could graduate when I was supposed to. Awesome decision then. Probably not so much now.

So I finalize things for my upgrading this week. Then, it’s the sit back and wait game until my course actually starts. And between now and then, I’m sure the idea will hit me at least twice. Who’s bright idea was math anyway?

I do believe college just quit me.

Or if nothing else, their disability department did. I’ve been working at getting myself situated so the geekness that is me can exist on paper with a minimal amount of fuss. Which, in turn, would hopefully result in somebody not paid by the government signing my more generous than present paycheck. All would have been absolutely awesome as well, except somebody somewhere who won’t speak up is dragging their feet.

In September, I started the ball rolling with algonquin College to get me set up with the one and only course I didn’t end up actually taking in highschool. It was math, which on a good day is probably my worst subject–maybe second only to science, and only because it’s not science fiction. Everything was in place. The folks doing that course were about ready to bend over backwards to work with me. There was just one problem. You ever tried doing math on a computer with your eyes closed, listening to something electronic trying to explain fractions to you? Yeah, if you’d like brain damage, I’ll give you an hour or so to give that a shot. Go on. This’ll wait.

I already knew exactly what was going to have to happen–they’d need to get their hands on materials from the course. No problem. Within a week of them knowing for sure I was taking this course, they had those materials. Step 2: get them into a format I could actually use. Huge problem. Still on-going problem. I could write a novel.

As I said, it started in September. Step 1 was get me in for an assessment so they’d know where I placed. Awesome. I can do that. They were thinking I could do the assessment then start on October 15 of this year. Turns out no not quite–they ended up pushing me back to take the assessment on October 29, which meant I’d be starting on November 12. Still, not a huge deal, if the Center for Students with Disabilities was on top of things. So I ran with it. Did the assessment, got the results, knew where I was going, yada yada blah. Then it imploded.

By the time a week passed since I did the assessment, the CSD had at least some of the materials I’d be needing. Not all of them, mind you, but it was a start. Problem. They still didn’t have the foggiest idea who’d be transcribing those materials for me. We’re into the first week of November, and they were still waiting on an answer to that question. So, naturally, they also couldn’t tell me when those same materials, in a format I could do something useful with, would be in my hands. Awesome. So I’m sitting here, occasionally prodding the college, and occasionally getting a “we’re still waiting” back. It’s next Monday. I have no texts. And I’m supposed to be starting this course. To say this is unpretty is a mild understatement. So I get a hold of the ones actually doing the math course, let them know the story. My start date’s officially on hold until the CSD eventually, uh, wakes up a little. I let the CSD know this, and–you guessed it–they still don’t have an ETA I can hand to anyone in charge of actually getting me into this course.

Actually, they still don’t have much. And cruising into December, that remains the case. So after hearing absolutely nothing from the CSD for nearly a month, and the deadline for applying to the program I’m taking this course to try and get me into being in february, and with the CSD spending the next few weeks primarily–and rightly–concerned with aranging people’s end-of-semester exams, I knew there was no way I was getting anywhere near finishing this mess before I’d be able to start the program next year. So, eating the $10 I paid to apply to the upgrade program, I withdrew, citing CSD issues. That’s fine. I could deal with that. It was only $10, anyway. It more annoyed me than anything else–and it wasn’t even the fault of the ones running the course.

So fast forward to the day before yesterday. I get an email from the CSD saying they were told I’d withdrawn, and they would continue to work on the materials for me in the event I changed my mind. Wanna know what they didn’t tell me? If anyone was even working on what I’d asked them to work on yet. Or, if not, then when. And when the materials I needed so I *could* change my mind would be ready. Or, really, much of anything. I responded to that email, escentially saying as much. And, again, telling them at this point, they were the only thing keeping me out of that course–and the delay in that department was largely administrative. Much as I had before, I got nothing back from the CSD. No appology for taking 4 months to pull their crap together, no indication their crap was even together, no ETA on when their crap would be together. I’m in the same boat with the CSD now as I was at the beginning of November, except now it doesn’t much matter.

Granted it’d been a few years, but when I went to the college before, they were dipped in awesome. Even last year, according to sources, they were still pretty much the definition of awesome. This year, for whatever reason, I have no earthly idea what up and sucked out all that awesome. But in the span of 4 months, my college, or at least my college’s disability department, just quit me. And we didn’t even kiss goodbye.

Your postsecondary tuition only goes in one direction. Who wants to guess?

Tired of guessing? Here’s a hint. In all but 3 provinces, tuition’s on a larger than life increase. I met up with this larger than life factoid when I started my own trek back to college and, well, we know how that ended.

When I went to college the first time, for a law clerk course I ended up not making it through, for the 2 years the program was supposed to take, it would have cost me about $5000 on the outside, not counting residence fees–I’d chosen to stay in Ottawa for that one. For the course I was looking at taking, which started about 9 days ago now, it would have cost me just about as much for the 3 semesters that one would have lasted–that nevermind all the extra fees Algonquin College wants to tack on, like their $60 per semester for the privelege to access the college network–which is almost mandatory given how much of their crap is handled primarily over the offending internal network. fortunately if I’d gotten in this time, I wouldn’t have been the one paying for it, but still. Ow doesn’t even begin to describe it.

On the bright side, if I do have to go back to college for any reason, I know to do it in Nova Scotia. Their tuition’s apparently decided to buck the trend and go in the other direction. Although even if it hadn’t it’s probably still cheaper out there than it is in Ontario. My wallet’s in tears just at the thought of it–and I don’t even have to be concerned about it at the moment. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. College education scares me.

The college thing bursts into flames, but I’m not done yet.

So you may or may not remember I extended my stay in Rochester for a little over two weeks extra. This a direct result of the fact the conversation I ended up having with Algonquin College’s disability department virtually undid everything I was trying to get all comfortably tied up when I wrote this entry. With pretty much three weeks before the course was supposed to start, and escentially a week past the deadline with second career, disability chick decided completely at random that the course was not going to be accessible. She was even nice enough to tell me she confirmed that with two of the individuals who were directly involved in that program–including mister questionable availability, who I’d already spoken to and got a rather different story from.

Since I only had less than 3 weeks to actually do anything with all this–classes would actually be starting this morning, I pretty much effectively declared that ship sunk after hanging up the phone with her and jumped off it. Not all that long after doing that, I got wind of another way to get me the hell off government paychecks. It involves first getting a hold of ODSP people and figuring out who’s palms need to be greased in order to get them to put up the cash for software that will actually let me do something vaguely resembling work. As luck would have it, person I’m dealing with at second career told me he got wind via someone at the college that the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) might cough up the money to purchase my screenreader of choice for purposes of employment. Handy, considering the company they’re trying to aim me at has absolutely no intention of purchasing it themselves.

Employment specialist’s goal now, what with the college thing going down river without me, is to get me hooked up with a job working for Online Support. I’ve had more than a few dealings with them before, which usually ended in either being outright ignored, or a somewhat appologetic rejection based on they don’t have the kind of financial room necessary to purchase the technology that would make me able to do the job–oh, did I mention they’re a semi-national, multimillion dollar corporation? Yeah, didn’t think so. His current theory is, if we can convince them I’ve got the cost of the screenreader covered, we might be able to squeeze me through the door and into something vaguely resembling a minimum wage job. Which would still be a huge improvement over what I’m getting now. Now we just need to get someone from ODSP to say yes sir and fork over the dollars, then we’ll have something to walk into a room with.

I’ve already put a bug in folks’ ear about it, who according to their voicemail are supposed to be in the office today, so we’ll see exactly what kind of strangely diplomatic 5-page answer I get from them about it. In the meantime, that whole college thing? Stick a fork in it. At least for this year, it’s done. If this employment thing falls through, or if I can find out the second career program will be around next year, I’ll at least have the flexibility to start drop kicking the necessary people to get that ball rolling a lot sooner and with a lot more maneuvering room than this time. ‘Til then, it’s off to find some answers. And maybe possibly beat a few heads together in the process. Hey, that’s always fun, no? And they say I don’t do much during daylight hours.

Well, that was unsurprising. College doesn’t like me.

Remember the assessment of doom I was studying for? The one I only had a week to get everything accomplished accessibility/preparation-wise before it was either going to make or break my attempt at further education? Yeah, that one. It broke. Badly. I got word of the proof of such brokenness last night. It was no shocker, though admittedly part of me was kind of hoping for a small miracle. I don’t think it’s very over yet, though–as I mentioned before, I did the test on a week’s notice. The test included algebra, and the extent of its accessibility after a week’s notice consisted of someone reading the questions to me, me trying to remember the equasions, going over most of them in my head and not having much ability to actually check things on my own. The chick doing the reading told me she was surprised at the result I got considering, well, I had virtually not a whole lot more than what I was allowed to bring with me–the cell phone I was planning to use for a calculator. So was I, but given a half-assed shot at doing it on my own I also know I’d of probably done considerably better.

It’s on that thought that I decided, within about 30 seconds of getting word of that from my side of the border last night, that today would be the day heads rolled. So calls were made, and one of the names on the bottom of the denial letter got to have a very pleasant conversation with yours truely. Surprisingly, there was no yelling/screaming/what have you–I didn’t even curse, though I had plenty of them floating around in the back of my mind just in case. I informed her due to the fact it was either do it on a week’s notice or not at all, in spite of the fact I pretty much told the chick when I was speaking to her I didn’t figure anything could be done in a week’s time to make it any easier for her or me, I was pretty much a step behind from the outset. I was even nice enough to explain to the person in question, who gave me the “I’m just a lowly admissions officer” shpeel, that I asked about having it, and/or my entry date into the program, pushed back to allow for the needed time to figure a way through whatever accessibility issues should so happen to crop up.

Since the decision supposedly came from significantly above her pay grade, she told me she’d speak to the one who ended up making the final decision. I got the slight impression she was sort of being noncommittal, but we shall see. So she said she’d see what she could do, I threw the number here at her where she, or the person(s) above her pay grade who made the decision, can reach me, and now we wait. In the meantime, I’m closing in on the deadline for getting things submitted to second career, and I still have absolutely no idea what if anything I’m about to actually be getting done.

So, I may or may not actually have plans for September. I may or may not actually have the backing for said plans in September. And I may or may not have a bit of time left to try and twist a few arms in order to secure both. It’s a very good thing I’m not averse to doing things the hard way. I’ve a sneaking suspicion I’m about to do exactly that at full speed.

Update: I got my phone call. And surprise, more waiting games. This time, I get to wait until next tuesday, at which point someone *else* I’ll need to get a hold of re: the mess this testing thing’s becoming will be in. If I were the overly paranoid type, I might be slightly suspicious of the fact I got that phone call after writing this. If someone’s trying to tell me something, I don’t think I’m getting the message they think I am.

I came, I saw, I oopsed. Now, I wait.

So. That math assessment I was worried about? Yeah, it sucked. Not quite as bad as I figured it would–just enough to confirm I am, in fact, every bit as weak in the area of algebra as I thought. Which, roughly translated, means I am virtually algebraically useless. Still, I didn’t do nearly as bad as I figured I would on it–the combined score was up into the tripple digits, at least, which was more than I was expecting. A passing score was 140 or higher, which I couldn’t touch–I clocked out with 117. Testing lady seemed semi-optimistic, though, even if she couldn’t tell me whether or not the score was considered still good enough to get me into the program–I apparently have to wait to hear from someone higher up the food chain on that one. Because you all know how much I enjoy waiting for other people to get around to giving me a simple yes or no.

On the positive side, the hard part’s over. Now, I forget the application process even exists until such time as my phone rings with a yes or no and I can figure out what I’m doing from that point forward. I mean, besides spending the next month and a half brushing up on anything and everything related to the exact opposite of what I was studying last week–hey, their study guide didn’t say anything about multilevel algebraic fractions; how was I supposed to know? In the meantime, that vodka? Yeah, that one. I’ll take a double.

I think I’ll forget Monday. Starting… now.

Oh, the insanity. The extra large order of insanity. I’m about to become supremely busy, and probably supremely flustered–all at once. Taking off to sign a couple things re: second career, which will probably be the easiest part of today. After that, and after at least one miniature meltdown in which I sincerely question my sanity for trying to get into a course that apparently heavily depends on material I hadn’t even looked at before last week in roughly 10 years, I run into Pembroke to be assessed on the afore mentioned material. This will be the last of the questionmarks as to whether or not I actually go any farther in the application/registration stage of getting into this program. And, after spending most of last week breaking my brain 6 ways from Sunday, and spending a couple hours this morning giving it a few more good kicks, I’ve reached a rather obvious decision. Either I have it nailed down for sure, or I don’t stand a chance in hell of doing so. Is it wrong to be contemplating vodka before noon?

Now I remember why I avoided highschool math. Ow, my brain.

Because I didn’t need a grade 12 math credit to graduate from highschool, I didn’t take one. Because I didn’t invision me ending up going to college to put on paper skills I’d taught myself in recent years, I wasn’t overly concerned about it. Oopsies. Now, I get to enjoy the result of that oversight. I spent today going through well over 100 algebra-related equasions, getting progressively more painful as I did so. I’m nowhere near finished, and will probably have to devote tomorrow morning to the awesome that is Google in order to wrap my head around stuff I’ve probably completely forgotten in the nearly 10 years since I even cracked open a math textbook. All for the sake of demonstrating on Monday I’m not, in fact, completely math useless. I sincerely hope the 45 hours that will be the math course that’s apparently part of this program are worth it. Otherwise, I see a generous glass of vodka in my future. Possibly more than one. Now, excuse me–I need to go fix my brain.

Take it easy for a week and it all catches up.

I’ve been talking off and on about doing the college thing. I even went so far as getting set up to apply. Yes, 2 months ago. Things finally got rolling on that prospect around the beginning of June–after finally, after much arm twisting, getting my transcripts back from the highschool of doom. Application was sent off, money I didn’t have was paid, got the standard we’ll get back to you response, yada yada yada. Fast forward to this morning.

I get a letter from the college in my mailbox dated June 29. It’s all official like, and I consider that I might have actually been accepted to the course I’m considering taking. Get it open, have a read, and okay, there goes that idea. Instead, they’re requesting and requiring my presence to take a math assessment before they decide whether or not to accept me into this course. And, in typical Algonquin College fashion, this pre-admission assessment requires I pay them more money I don’t have. Woohoo–I struck gold. On top of that, because I’m not yet done receiving the wicked awesome news, the course I’m looking at starts at the beginning of September. Tuition for courses starting in September is pretty much due on Thursday. The second career program, who’s epic failure of logic I’ve already mocked, wants proof of acceptance before they’ll cough up a red cent towards my confirming my current education. I see a small problem here.

The problems just keep adding up, though. Lady I’m talking to has very little to no info on the course I’ve applied for. Indeed, most/all of the questions I asked her received as a response a simple “I’ll get back to you”. This includes how/when we might discuss the possibility of tweeking the course in such a way that I might actually be able to take it without inflicting a small series of strokes on me, the professors, and the folks over at the disability center–of which there is apparently only… um… two. Most if not all of those answers I am now waiting on depend on her getting in touch with someone involved with that program–who’s availability is, at the moment anyway, questionable at best. And who’s availability will probably be questionable at best for the next while. All this for a course starting in September.

I inquired on a precautionary basis about the possibility of shoving my effective application date back to the winter session, as they appear to offer a start for that particular program in that particular semester as well. And, again, she’ll get back to me after she gets a hold of mister questionable availability. That’s becoming the new catch phrase. And I think I’ll slap the next person who says it.

So, at the end of all that, I’m no farther ahead except I have one more phone number to add to my list and a whole lot of rather off-pissing questionmarks. The only potential bright spot in this one is she’s pegged tomorrow as when she expects to get back to me. At which point we can probably just do this all over again.

I was telling Jess earlier this afternoon it’s a very good thing I haven’t gone anywhere near politics–the burocracy would drive me to drink long before anything else did. As it is, the average joe burocracy that goes with doing just about anything is making me consider going postal. Fortunately I won’t have to debate doing just that for another day or two. In the meantime, I’ll be waiting on someone who’s waiting on someone else so I can tell someone else to stop waiting on me, and then wait on them to get me money so I can eventually, finally, get this whole being educated thing over with. Can it get much more messy?

I’m not exactly sure what my dream job is, but I know what it’s not–any job that largely depends on having to rely on other people. That, if things like this are any indication, would just succeed in pissing me off to no end. And inducing that small series of strokes I’m still trying desperately to avoid.

I didn’t want things done the easy way anyway.

For the better part of two weeks or so, I’ve been on a hunt for a non-painful way to get hold of my highschool transcripts so I might go back and start on the path to putting my geekness on paper in the form of an actual college-level diploma–something I admittedly should have done when I was messing around in college anyway, rather than the program I ended up picking. It required playing phone tag with the highschool, and then playing phone tag with the college, and now going back to the highschool in question.

The school I went to and graduated from is presently 6 hours away from where I live, give or take. Which escentially means I can’t much walk in with money in hand, and walk out with a copy of my transcripts. Since I’m looking at applying to Algonquin College here in town, and I’d already attended the Ottawa campus, I figured they might still have the transcripts that were submitted to them roughly 7 years ago–my credentials re: highschool haven’t changed since then, so I might as well make it easy on everyone, right? If you agree, then apparently you’re as wrong as I am. Apparently, transcripts are only kept at the college for a year.

So, after two weeks of back and forth with the voicemail of someone who apparently hasn’t been in her office since December, a couple days of back and forth with the voicemail at the college’s reception desk, and finally getting someone with half a brain to call me back, I’m right where I started two weeks ago. Monday, I call the highschool yet again, and probably land in their voicemail, yet again. And we somehow work out an arangement in which they get their money and I get my proof of education in under a month. Hopefully these folks are a tiny bit more familiar with the concept of email than they were when I actually went to this school, but I’m not holding my breath on that one. Thanks, educational administrative folks. I was trying not to do it the easy way. You’re so accommodating. So when do you start working *with* me?

Logic goes on vacation at second career HQ. Go figure.

So, remember when I said I just needed to fill out some paperwork and I should be good to go? Apparently not quite. The second career program, in its infinite wisdom, has apparently decided that in order to even possibly maybe be approved for funding, you must already be enrolled in the course of your choosing. Not exactly a tough expectation to meet–if you’re not applying for funding because you can’t invent it on your own. I’m not sure how it works outside of Ontario, but here, just to submit your application off to a college ends up costing you nearly $100. Not much if you’re working a minimum wage job with the same kind of bills I’ve got, but a bit of creativity will be required for anyone who has the pleasure of not having a minimum wage income. Like, for example, just about anyone who qualifies for second career funding.

So now, you go off and pay the non-refundable $95 application fee, apply to your college(s) of choice, get accepted, then wait for the government to decide if they’re going to let you actually be able to aford to take the course in question. Their reason? They want to see exactly what kind of fees they’ll be stuck on the hook for paying while I go through this course. Um, which I thought was the point of me walking into the office with a listing of the applicable fees for the course I’m thinking about taking already.

Logic has clearly gone on vacation this week. Now, I go attempt to spit $95 worth of quarters. Maybe I’ll get lucky and the lottory ticket I bought a couple days ago won’t turn out to be a complete waste of $6. Hey, I can dream, can’t I?

A gentle nudge to Ontario colleges.

College admins, take note. I’m trying, via Ontario’s second career program, to give you money. I’m actually standing here with my hand out, with untold dollars in said hand. We have just one problem. Your websites do not tell me how much of said untold dollars you want for courses and/or residence fees where applicable. Nor, I’ll add, do you respond to my phone and email requests for same. In fact, if I didn’t know better I’d say you were trying to make me not want to give you money. You’re succeeding.

Congrats to the two colleges that actually volunteered, either via their website or via telephone inquiries, tuition and/or residence information where necessary. Can you please educate some of the others on doing same? I’m looking at you, Seneca. Your email. Read it. Respond to it. Thank you.