While parents across the country are lamenting going “back to school” at home today, I got the unbridled joy of spending the day in the office. It’s not the first time I’ve been back since the Great Plague kicked off. Over the course of the last six months I’m probably averaging a day a week actually sitting in cubicle hell. Frankly, I don’t recommend it.
The only saving grace of being in the office right now is that most of your colleagues won’t be there with you. Sure it’s not as conducive to peaceful reflection and deep thought as the quiet of your home office might be, but you aren’t being afflicted with 20 simultaneous and overlapping conversations like you were in the before time. Still, I envy little Bobby and Suzy for their new online existence.
Everyone is awaiting the moment when the world goes back to normal. When their little darlings are back to school and when cube farms are once again filled elbow to asshole. I can’t help but think it’s a case of being careful with your wishes. A school or office full of potential plague carriers, mouth breathers, and assorted oxygen thieves was our collective normal. I’d like to think our new normal could, and should, be something better.
I had a pretty normal undergraduate experience – 4 years, a couple of summer or winter classes, and done. I managed to earn a full academic scholarship at least for tuition, so fortunately I didn’t have to pay the freight for that education. I won’t say I loved every minute of it, but I look back very fondly on those four years.
In the early stages of my federal career I was on the road more weeks than not and opted for an online MBA. I don’t know what the fees for such a thing are now, but back then I was paying $1,850 per six week class, for a total of $24,050 by the time I earned my degree. My impression of online education, based on that MBA experience, is that you could get as much or as little out of it as you were willing to put into it. It wasn’t hard to slip through doing the minimum, but to really learn the subject you needed to put in extra hours beyond the homework and discussion boards. I didn’t love it, but I ended up learning a lot and it served its purpose for a guy whose schedule wouldn’t have otherwise supported getting a degree.
I’m seeing articles indicating that brick and mortar schools largely plan on charging full tuition for their slate of online classes for the fall semester. I fully realize that these schools have sunk costs that they need to keep paying regardless of how instruction is delivered, but at the same time I can’t fathom by what logic an entering freshman would pay full price for severely reduced services. Better I’d think to take your intro level classes from the local community college, save your money, and transfer them on when your school of choice opens back up for learning in the flesh. Under the circumstances, I’d even argue a gap year could be a better investment of time and resources.
Pretending that you’re completely justified in charging full price for the undergrad college experience while providing significantly reduced service feels distinctly like perpetrating a fraud… although if you have a large enough group of people willing to unquestioningly pay the bill, I suppose you can take every cent they’ll willingly hand over.
1. I left the house a little later than usual. Where the street I live on dumps out into the local county road parents and their SUVs were stacked up like cord wood. There they sat, engines running, more or less blocking the road, and making sure their little princelings had enough heat while they waited for the school bus. It was just below freezing, not exactly polar explorer weather. Basically a decent coat and a good pair of socks would have been enough to make it tolerable for a few minutes. I can’t help but remember my own childhood where if you didn’t walk to school you at least walked to the bus stop – and that’s back at a time and place where temperatures below freezing weren’t cause for any particular alarm, being part and parcel as they are of the winter weather season. These kids have never been allowed to run through the woods throwing rocks at each other and it shows.
2. ISIS brides. The last few weeks have been thick with reports of women and girls who ran off from western civilization for the fun and adventure of becoming ISIS brides. Now, with the dream of an Islamic caliphate collapsing around their ears, they come out of the woodwork claiming to have learned the error of their ways. Here they come crawling “home” after years of providing aid and comfort to the enemy. I’m not a scholar of international law nor does my heart bleed for their reaping the results of traitorous decisions. They wanted the wonder of life in the belly of the beast, the best thing that we can do now is let them have it.
3. Fentanyl. I keep seeing news stories wherein a drug ring has been busted in possession of enough Fentanyl to kill 375,000,000 people. Look, I know we can’t really aerosolize the stuff and indiscriminately launch it from a mortar tube, but maybe we hold back on making these arrests for a hot second. I mean, look, people are basically awful so with enough of this floating around in the underground economy it seems to me the problem with those who habitually associate with a culture of heavy drug use could significantly reduce the demand side of the market by simply dropping dead. If a subset of the population is committed to continuing to inject a substance they know full well may kill them more or less instantly, I don’t feel any moral force compelling me to intervene between them and and their apparent desired end state. I’d rather spend a much reduced budget on saving the small minority whose exposure to fentanyl or other high powered narcotics is accidental or that happens in the line of duty. Don’t tell me I never see the bright side, damnit.
1. First Amendment. It doesn’t mean what people seem to think it means. The 1st guarantees that the government shall not muzzle or punish speech except in the most extreme or dangerous circumstances. It means that government won’t stop you from saying any stupid thing that crosses your mind. It does not protect you from the consequences of saying that stupid thing, however. It doesn’t in any way prevent popular backlash against your asinine idea. Your friends are free to shun you. Companies are free to no longer sponsor you. Other people are free to call you a sanctimonious asshat. See, you’re free to say what you will, but you are far from free of the social consequences of stupid things that fly out of your mouth. Sometimes the right to speak is best expressed by using it to say nothing at all. More people should avail themselves of the opportunity to just shut the fuck up.
2. School start date. I’m perplexed at the at why the day public schools open across the state of Maryland is this an issue for the governor. I vaguely recall Republicans being the party of small government. And this is precisely the kind of issue that’s best decided at the local level. I like Hogan. He’s an iconic red governor in a blue state. But on this one I’m just wondering why on earth he’s decided to wade into this non-issue.
3. Quite frankly I’m starting a four day weekend just now, so there is absolutely no third thing that annoys me at the moment. There may well have been earlier this week, but now it’s simply faded into the background of a million other annoying things that I don’t need to deal with or in any way think about until Tuesday.
OK, team, for the record tomorrow is a federal holiday. That means that the sooner we get our shit together this afternoon, the sooner we can begin enjoying an extra day off this week. This is a pass-fail course, so no one is grading you on how many cute pictures you can put into a briefing. I hate to break it to you, but no one cares. You’re not being graded on this assignment and they guy who does your yearly evaluation will never know that you had 12 slides instead of 10. I grow weary of trying to nudge the discussion from “what sound lobsters make when they’re boiled” to something slightly more productive. I appreciate that you want to be a hard charger and do great things… but this is a mandatory training course, not your actual job. We all have enough garbage to deal with back at the office, so why are you trying to make life harder than it needs to be when we’re on TDY? Sorry, but there’s just no good reason that we should have been working at 4:00 today when they cut us loose to build a briefing at 10:30. You, my dear teammates, are asshats.
I didn’t wake up this morning until 7:45. Yes, for me that counts as sleeping in. After a solid ten hours of sleep, my outlook on the world has improved dramatically. It’s the first Saturday in a long time when my schedule wasn’t preset by class work so at the moment, I actually have absolutely nothing on my “must do” list.
Let me give you the set up on this one… I am leaving for Italy next Tuesday and will be missing all of the last week of my current grad class. Not a problem. The instructor knows I’ll be gone, blessed it, and even gave me some delightfully evil ideas about how to subvert the electronic attendance tracking system, so I could still get credit for the week.
Knowing that I would be missing the final team assignment, I made a proposal to my teammates last night that I would be willing to take on this week’s assignment solo and post a rough draft for everyone to edit as a way to compensate the group for not contributing to the product next week. Fine. Great. Everyone loved the idea to more or less balance the workload over the next two weeks… That is everyone by the one chick who thinks the purpose of an MBA is to “actually learn something.”
Personally, I see the purpose of the course and the overall MBA program as much more fundamental: Pass. Simply put, it’s a resume line I need to move on with the next steps of my career. Sure, I am learning a good deal along the way, but at the same time, I live in a world where the phrase of the day is “go along to get along.” Honestly, if any of us were really all that serious, we’d be at Wharton or Tuck… not at the damned University of Phoenix… and online to boot. So before you get all high and mighty about diminishing your educational opportunities, let’s consider the big picture for a bit… bitch.
I realized this afternoon that it has been a while since I posted anything. I think this might actually be the first time since I started blogging that I’ve let five days go between getting some thoughts out here. It’s also one of those things that I realized I missed when I didn’t do it. With that said, I’m back for a quick update before dinner.
A lot of the really hard decisions have been made already. The house is where it is, the finance people are doing their thing, the lawyers are drawing up the necessary paperwork and I’m running from pillar to post here in Memphis working the detail stuff.
In the last week, here’s what we’ve managed to accomplish: carpet picked and installed; linoleum picked and installed; washer and dryer purchased and delivery scheduled; refrigerator purchased and delivery scheduled; cable, electric, gas, service change scheduled; cable, electric, and gas service in Maryland terminated, blinds measured and order. There are a bevy of other issues resolved that I can’t remember in detail.
Here are the major things still to accomplish by the end of the month: Install washer, dryer, and refrigerator; put the punch list together with builder and do walk through; fly back to Maryland; finish packing and close out the apartment; get an estimate from the movers; actually do the move; drive back to Tennessee; unpack; collapse.
Oh, and I almost forgot squeezing 10 hours a day in for work and grad classes. Can someone tell me why the hell anyone ever inflicts a move on themselves?