Apologies and Procrastination

September 19th, 2006 by Potato

I know not many of you are checking the site at all anymore, and it has been far too long since I updated. I’ve been very busy of late, and been having a lot of trouble with writer’s block at work that seems to be tranferring to the website as well. Things have been crazy busy there: in addition to all the work for my crazy project, I’m also teaching a class this term (!) which is incredibly demanding. I’m responsible for everything, from planning the syllabus to creating the assignments, delivering the lectures to booking the rooms… and this is a brand-new course, too, so I don’t even have a textbook or anything to use as a guide. The damnedest thing about it is that my first class is today, and I still have no idea if I’m getting paid for this, or if I was suckered into volunteering. It’s a lot of work, so I really hope I’m getting paid, but on the other hand, my new contract prohibits me from moonlighting (on the gripping hand, volunteering would likely count as moonlighting too, if I really wanted to get out of it). I’m stuck, of course, because I want to teach: I think it’s a vital part of getting a PhD, and it’s a real shame sometimes that there aren’t more teaching opportunities around in this department (especially less demanding ones).

So, I’ve had two posts “half-written” (in actuality, it’s far fewer than half the words, but I’ve put some of my thoughts down in point-form so I don’t lose them) for over a week now, and I had hoped to get them up on the weekend. Since they’re not up I don’t want to make any more promises about when they will appear, but will try to return to a frequent updating schedule soon.

In other news, I made some very good-looking cinnamon rolls last week and remembered to take a picture of them, so hopefully I’ll get that off the camera soon and up on the recipes page.

Finally, curling season is upon us again, and I hope to get into at least two leagues this year. It’s a bit of a shame that UWO is taking out its curling ice: it’s putting a lot of pressure on the other clubs in London, and means that a lot of students who found it pricey last year won’t get to play at all, since it was actually really cheap ($75 at UWO last year for 1 game/week; London Curling Club is $170 base + ~$40/league night for students, $420+ for regular members). I’m planning on joining the London Curling Club, and hope to play at least twice a week. One thing I’m not really looking forward to is that they heavily segregate the men’s & women’s sections. There are only two mixed leagues, and I can’t make one of them. It doesn’t really matter, but I found I preferred playing in mixed leagues in the past: they tend to be a lot less competitive, and the presence of women helps keep the banter cleaner. Of course, this will be a proper curling club rather than a university one, so those probably don’t apply… Finally, I don’t know if I told the story of varcity curling here from last year. Basically, I was interested in trying out for the varcity curling league here at UWO last year. I checked the webpage, found the time & location for the information meeting, and went. It was on a Thursday night in the worst rain we’d had in years. I don’t know why I insisted on going, but I went. My shoes were soaked through before I even got to the bridge. At that point I just gave up and enjoyed being soaked right through. When I got to the room, there were 4 other prospective curlers waiting… and waiting. We waited, soaking wet, for about a half hour, and no one showed up. No one came with a message to say the coach was stuck in the rain, or that the team was full. After a half hour, we just started drifting away to go home. I could have emailed or called the coach after I got home, but I wasn’t too interested in working with someone who’d skip an important first meeting like that, and I was a little leery of the whole varcity idea anyway (I was hoping the information meeting would tell me something, such as how much of a time commitment it was). At the end, I was soaked right through my jacket, through my shirt, pants, and even underwear. I was wet. I couldn’t wear my shoes for 2 days.

So tonight was the information meeting for this year’s varcity curling team. I figured I was still somewhat interested and wanted more information, so I marked the day on my calendar. As was fated, it rained today, quite a bit at that. I decided I wasn’t going to be a sucker twice, so I drove up to campus to see if it would be worthwhile. I don’t know if it was the rain or what, but campus was absolutely packed (and this was at 7 pm), and there wasn’t a single parking space near where I was going — even the pay lots were full. There were, of course, spots in the more outlying lots, but most of those are not much closer than walking from my place, and I wasn’t about to do that again. I’m still thinking about emailing for details: being on a varcity team looks good for scholarship applications (I think), and while I have no idea what the commitment is like for the practice schedule, I know that there are only ~8 games in the competitive season, held over 2/3 weekends in January/February, that third weekend only taking place if we win — not too shabby at all in terms of demands on my time.

2 Responses to “Apologies and Procrastination”

  1. Robin Says:

    You know what drives me nuts in general. How companies seem to enjoy making it so hard to keep track of your hours. I mean…maybe it’s just me, but I find that every job I have seems to have a more complicated pay stub then the last. What’s the deal with that? Why is it so hard to just say, “Here’s how much we pay you per hour, here’s how many hours you worked, and here’s how much you’re getting this paycheque.” ? It seems to always be such a disaster trying to keep a personal log of my hours and get to get that personal log to match up with what I actaually get paid.

    While I”m on the subject, why do companies seem to keep things related to your pay so secret, even to you!? I’m working at Rogers Cable now, and finding out when I was going to receive my first pay cheque has been a complete nightmare! Everyone just says they are not sure, and that I shoudl ask someone else…I just keep getting passed around. It has now been 4 weeks since I started working here, and if I don’t get paid this week, heads are going to roll. (mainly mine because my landlord will knock it off)

    End rant.

  2. Potato Says:

    Yeah, even aside from this teaching issue, lots of people working with me have had pay problems and other weird issues. For example, I get paid on the last Thursday of every month… except August, when I got paid late, on the first Thursday of September. Which is really weird, because August actually had 5 Thursdays… And, since I work in a hospital, there’s a bit of mandatory training, and a bunch of immunizations and blood tests they do for new employees. Not everybody gets that stuff though: if a student is paid through the university and just happens to work in a hospital lab, nobody ever bothers to say “hey, maybe you should get checked for TB”. It happened to me: my first year the university paid me, then my pay switched to being handled by the hospital, and all of a sudden I was a “new employee” and had to go through all this stuff, and it really made me wonder how many other people might be out there spreading disease amongst the patients simply because they only seem to know you exist if you’re in their payroll system…

    An update on the class situation: I’m not going to be getting paid. What a sucker I am, eh? This raises an interesting dilemma: how good can this course possibly be if it’s being designed by someone who has next to no experience and is working on a volunteer basis? And note that I said designed, not just taught: if this were first year physics or something, then there would be virtually no problem because a curriculum would already be in place, there would be a pool of previous assignments and exams to work off of, and most importantly, a textbook to serve as a guide and to help buoy the students when the instructor fucks up. For this class, I have no resources at my disposal. I’ve had to come up with a curriculum, try to plan some lessons, create assignments, and basically pull all this stuff out of my ass. Plus since I have no teaching experience to speak of, I have a very poor concept of how much material neatly fits into a 2 hour timeslot: I was thinking my first class would be finished early, maybe just over an hour. I ended up running about 5 minutes late! That means I’ve got to take the time to practice this stuff with my cat or something, which adds at least a few hours a week to the burden…

    So, a nightmare all around. Naturally, I’ve stopped putting nearly as much effort into this since I found out. I’ve also been frantically scrabbling for guest lecturers to help shoulder some of the burden. I’ve already got 4 lectures covered by guest speakers (of ~14), and hopefully my supervisor will come in to speak on his own topic of research for a class…

    As for curling, I signed up for 2 nights as a full player and 2 nights as a spare, with the goal of playing 2 nights per week. My thinking was that they might have trouble placing me as a single, so I’d be lucky to get a permanent spot in one league, and then have 3 leagues to spare in which should average out to one a week… I think I vastly underestimated the demands for free agent players. I hadn’t even finished signing my cheque at the curling club before someone came over having overheard that I was a player without a team for the monday night league, and he just happened to need a 4th… I think I’m going to have all the curling I can handle without worrying about varcity.