North poles

So I was reading along in my physics book… trying to study for a test.

Electromagnetism is not my friend.

One section was explaining how a compass worked.

I kept reading.

A bit later, I was learning about a rule… that when current is flowing through a wire, if you wrap your hand around it with your fingers pointing the way that the magnetic lines are going, then your thumb will be pointing towards the north pole.

Ok.

I kept reading.

Several pages later… I suddenly realized… that they meant the north pole side of the field created by the current…. not the north pole of the earth like the compass from the other section.

This is when you know that it is time to give it up and go to bed.

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Homes and poles

There’s been a lot of see you at the pole publicity lately.

Of the two really strong memories of pole events when I was younger, the first one that comes to mind around this time of year is always the negative one..

The one of the first year that i tried to attend and instead ended up hiding behind a tree across the street, totally shocked that the christian kids i’d so hoped to meet turned out to be the same popular crowd that were total mean jerks to a lot of the rest of the kids all during the week.

And so disillusioned from the night before… my first time spending the night with a family from the church, and discovering that their lives weren’t all that different from mine. (I still wonder, what kind of deacon actually lets his kids own a ouija board stacked with all of their normal board games?)

But its sort of interesting this year.

One of this big things that has come with the change in pastors is a change in focus… and a big push towards creating homes and lives where god is really in the lead, which then changes the way that the rest of our lives reflect that.

Basically, our homes should look different than a home that is centered around anything else… and for most of us, they really don’t.

So with that being a lot of the focus of sermons lately… and then back to the memory, it sort of has a different effect this year.

I remember feeling not just disappointment with the family and the kids… and a feeling of being alone… but also sort of a sorrow. A sad feeling… kind of a loss of hope that life was going to be any different once I had things figured out a bit more.

And really… in most cases, it hasn’t been. And I think I’ve just accepted that to some extent.

But this time, it hits with a hope. More of a realization that yes, it isn’t… but someday it can be. Not tomorrow maybe, but it can be a tiny bit closer tomorrow. And a little bit more the next day.

And it can be. Even when sometimes its hard for us to imagine what that looks like yet.

And then she was gone

There was a woman who sat next to me in math class for the entire last semester.

I did very well in the class. She struggled, even with the simplifications made by the instructor.

And so about halfway through each assignment, I got hit with questions.

I tried to help her as best as I could, sometimes with mixed success.

But I sort of resented it. I’d rather focus on just getting my own assignment done, and let the teacher try to explain to her again…. especially with only 15 students in the class, and a teacher who regularly went around to answer questions and help on issues.

I helped… but wasn’t all that happy to be called on to help.

So we both made it through the class, though I think it was probably only by the teacher being nice that she got the required C to move on.

And so this semester started… and the next math class up, with the same teacher, on the same night of the week.

And she’s in it again, and she sits right next to me again in spite of lots of open space in the classroom. She has the expensive book… and a brand new graphing calculator… and seems ready to go.

The first two weeks go about the same as last semester did.

But there was a bit of a twist.

I had three classes on tuesdays, each 2-3 hours apart… so I made the decision to just stay on campus all day and use the time between as study time.

So I was in the library before class, and found out that she sits in the study area right when you come in the doors of the library building for the hour before class.

She caught me the first week, and so I got into what felt like a trapped conversation. The next week I avoided it.

So the third week comes around.

I go to the building where our class meets a bit more than an hour early, and I find out that they are serving a random student activities council dinner…. namely, they are being pushy trying to get everyone to take some chicken strips and cookies.

And so… sort of out of nowhere… in spite of my somewhat annoyed feelings about this woman… I follow a random feeling, and decide to go over to the library and tell her about the meal.

So I do.

And we got into a conversation for the rest of the hour before class that was much less forced… and actually went smoothly and was a nice conversation.

And then, the next week, for the first time, she misses class.

She wasn’t there tonight either.

Apparently she dropped… without saying anything to the teacher as to why…. just out of the blue… when she’d seemed to be ready to go for this semester.

My feelings are sort of mixed and confused.

But I’m glad I mentioned the chicken.

Attending

So we started with a new physics professor today.

She seems nice enough.

She seems to really know her stuff, even when this is a really specialized area of physics… and is probably the most qualified person they could have dreamed of finding, even if they’d had more notice.

And all in one swoop… the class went from being a class that was turning out to not be so bad after all, straight to being the class that I’ve feared classes like physics to be.

I’d actually already read this chapter…. and I walked out of the lecture feeling like I understood nothing, when I’d walked in thinking I had a pretty decent grasp of it.

I stopped writing notes after I looked over the page at one point and realized that not a thing that I’d written made any sense at all to me… and if it didn’t now, it sure wasn’t going to magically become clearer later.

Looking around the classroom towards the end of the class (which officially runs up to 4 hours at once due to the professor’s availability being limited to one day a week), almost nobody was still writing by the end.

It had reached that point to where I was so baffled, I didn’t even have enough of a clue where I was to be able to figure out how to ask anything to help figure out what I wasn’t getting.

This is definitely going to be turning into one of those teach myself using just the book classes.

I really wish that they didn’t count off severely for missing classes in this program. If attendance wasn’t taken, I would only being showing up for the tests.

This could be a long semester.

Knowing my name

Things are even more crazy around here than expected.

Including finding out that the head of our department apparently has a brain tumor.

Still not sure what that’s going to mean just yet when there are only three other staff in the department, and none teach even close to the same areas.

But an interesting thing happened.

I went along with my mom to pick up some bags of mulch and such, since my class was canceled for the day.

And as we are leaving the checkout area, someone says my name.

My advisor/instructor for my lab class.

We talk for a couple of minutes.

Later that evening, she calls me… to let me know of some (temporary?) schedule changes that will be announced tomorrow to give me a heads up to plan around them.

I’m sort of in shock…. part from the sudden illness, but another part is actually from the fact that a college instructor would actually admit knowing students in public, initiate a conversation with them, and take initiative to give them an advance warning.

And I got to thinking.

At this point, I’ve attended three different colleges.

One private, one state, and one catholic. (Ok, so I’ve actually taken a couple classes at a 4th community college, but I’m not counting that one here… lol)

I’ve officially had three different majors.

I’ve had three different minors that were all three close to completion before they were dropped for various reasons.

And in all of this…

This is actually the first time that I’ve had an advisor…. the person who is supposed to be in charge of guiding my educational choices…. who has actually known my name.

And the sad thing is… two of my advisors in the past I’d had teaching multiple classes I was in over several semesters. And.. one of them I actually did an independent study project that they were officially the coordinator managing it.

Did they know me by face enough to know that I belonged to the departments and was supposed to be in areas where I was? Yes.

But they didn’t know my name, nor would they wouldn’t have taken the time and effort to give me a heads up on changes that would mess with things in my classes. One could never even remember that I was one of their advisees.

The bookcover saga

I thought that I was completely done with getting kiddo’s school supplies…. so that I could focus on being able to get my own…. when two weeks into the school year, the note comes home.

It says she needs 6 stretch-fabric book covers, 3 normal and 3 jumbo.

Now, when we were in high school, these weren’t even allowed, as we were told that the tension is harder on the spines made them wear out a lot faster… but apparently the tide ha changed now, and they are not only allowed, they are required.

Great.

So I go to store W… where I expect them to be cheap. Instead they were $4 each. Uh, no.

So I check the grocery store, and they are $3. Better anyway.

Then I ended up checking the pharmacy, which is known for coupons and cheap supplies sometimes, and find them on sale for $2. We have a winner! So I got all 6… 3 of each size… each in different colors…. grumbling about the extra $12 for what are pretty much just decorations, but glad to be done.

About a week passes, and I’m in another brand of store W, way on the far opposite end of town… because I had been on that end of town for an errand… and I see a pile of book covers.

On clearance for 50 cents.

Grrr.

So I drive home… unload the other stuff…. mention my frustration at the price drop… and only now does my kid say “oh yeah, i need 3 more of the jumbo ones, the regular sized ones didn’t fit.”

Double grrr.

No big deal… I’ll stop back at the nearby branch of store W, and they will be the same price by now.

And they would have been…. except that they didn’t have the jumbo sizes anymore, only the normal sized.

Extra double grr.

Ok, so I’ll go back to the pharmacy, maybe they will be on clearance now too.

No more to be found there either.

Ok… fine then.

I’ll just stop at the branch of store W that’s close to my college, and get them there.

And they did have the jumbo size there.

But still at full price.

I gave up and bought the stupid things anyway… because I’m totally sick of dealing with bookcovers and don’t have the time to keep chasing them down.

I get them home, and kiddo pouts because two of the colors that they had were the same two colors that I’d already gotten in the jumbo ones the first time.

Sometimes I feel like its the little things like bookcovers that are going to kill me… just a bit at a time.