Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Dear Professor,

September 30, 2008

Professor H,

My name is [Cadbury]. I am a student in your CS[nnn] class. I am the bald, older, deep-voiced guy who sits near the front on your left as you face the class.

I am writing to you to explain why my first assignment is not being handed in.

I am not asking for any special consideration, or for anything other than a zero mark as befits a missing assignment.

I am, though, asking that when I complete the first assignment, as part of completing the second assignment, that you or your marker review the assignment and advise me of errors, omissions, or style issues and tips that I should be aware of.

I am addressing the missing assignment in the same way I would address an unfinished task in the workplace – straight up with an explanation. I desire your professional respect. However, this letter is as much for myself as it is for you. To codify the reasons for missing the assignment, and as part of addressing and modifying the conditions and reactions that caused the situation.

I am not handing in my assignment because I did not complete it. I did not even complete any of the functions in a manner that would be appropriate to hand in as stand-alone running routines per your marking scheme.

I am 43 years old. I recently took a buyout from my job to return to University for a year (or so) to take the 9 core classes required to get a CS Certificate. I have two children (son 16, daughter 12). I am in the middle of divorce and settlement proceedings. For two years now… as the system and process grind on ad infinitum.

I would say it is a messy divorce, but it isn’t really - from perspective of the potential for messiness that exists surrounding such events. It is your run of the mill breakdown of the lives of four people – two adults –two children – with all the messiness that ordinary emotions and events can produce – messy for me – messy for my children – even if not quite worthy of television or movie drama messiness.

With 25 years in the computer industry I took your admonitions to begin the assignment early seriously. But left the assignment until last Friday to begin, expecting that at my level of coding capability and focus that I would finish over the weekend with Monday for problem solving room. You see, the first assignment from another class (CS[nnn] [electronic circuit design]) occupied my time until last Tuesday, and life occasionally needs to be lived - or at least maintained – in between assignments.

Friday is the day that we do the “switchover” with the kids. Week on, week off joint custody.

On Friday I picked up my kids. It had been a hell of a week for them.

My ex is somewhat unstable (understatement).

Everything is high drama. Minute-to-minute – hour-to-hour – day-to-day.

Last week had more drama than usual.

My children were positively vibrating when I picked them up.

I spent time calming them down from their wound up state. That is, I am afraid, one of my principle functions as a parent. Soothing their shaken state. Making them feel safe (emotionally) and providing a calm stable environment.

Talking. Cooking for them. Love. Watching a movie and debriefing. Taking a walk and hearing them talk about how they feel – sad – angry – distressed – confused – frustrated.

These are some of the tools.


My son and daughter have various behaviours that are typical of being in that stressful environment: depression, task avoidance, skipping school, drug use (soft), and anxiety. After much difficulty (2 years worth) in getting agreement from my ex (both parents consent is required) I do have them both in counselling since last spring in May. And me – for longer than that. My ex feels she doesn’t need counselling because “Everyone has problems – they should just deal with it.”

This last week was more difficult to deal with than most. As an example: For various reasons my ex is trying to get my son to move in permanently with me (but have my daughter remain living with her – hopefully full-time instead of joint custody). But she doesn’t want to be “responsible” or “at fault” for him moving out – so that she can be the permanent victim – and so that daughter will not blame her and hold that as a reason not to choose to stay full-time with her mother. In one of my ex’s raging moments she told my son to pack and leave. Shortly after that, when he actually began packing, she wailed “Don’t you leave me too…!” and engaged him in a 5 hour straight session of intense emotional drama/discussion where she again alternated between telling him to leave and begging him to stay.

If I were the stronger or better person I fantasize about being, I would be able to calm them and then be able to address my own needs and tasks. The one that Gregory Peck always seems to be every time I see To Kill A Mockingbird.

Unfortunately I am not that person.

My children’s emotional turmoil, and my own after-shocks from a 20 year marriage are fully present. My guts churn, sleep and concentration is disrupted, and depending on how bad or how long the intense period has been I will have a fibromyalgia relapse of varying intensity.

And subsequently I did not have the focus required to do my assignment. Or even be able to move much beyond reading your instructions, reading textbooks, online tutorials, and notes, preparing problem solving algorithms and flow charts – and then staring at the screen of my development environment ([name of environment not included in this post to reduce google derived software hits on this post]).

I take my choice to return to University very seriously – as more than a full time job. I devote enormous energy into my assignments and classes.

Unfortunately events and life have a way of interfering with my choices.

I am addressing the various issues with my kids and myself through counselling, stress reduction and relaxation techniques, and medical intervention. But it all takes time and is not easily fixed.

On the academic front, I hope to be able to review my work with you when it is completed.

I have prepared an assignment cover page and note saying that the assignment is undone for submission to your marker so that the marker will be able to record it as such and not worry that there is a misplaced assignment.

Thank-you for your time,

[student number]


addendum for the blog:

there some other factors that knocked me off stride. during late august i had a collision with Smitten. I wrote her a relatively lengthy letter with regard to the issues i saw/felt.

she gave me her response letter on friday morning - she had completed it after a long while. that letter, while honest and frank, really knocked me off stride

the response took a long time because she wanted to do it right, school started for me, she left her job and returned to university as well, and her father died and she was lead on all the arrangements...

yes - shit has happened and i haven't been blogging much

more later

whenever later is...

Saturday, September 20, 2008

up to my ass

i am taking 2 heavy classes right now, and expect to be signing up for two grade 12 correspondence (actually over the internet) math classes in the next few days.

the two computer science classes are an programming class and a circuit design class. one has a substantial workload and the other (circuit design) has a bunch of math stuff that i find quite challenging/difficult. i don't think the same way math nerds do, so the way the prof explains the material doesn't work for me. i have to review the class notes and materials outside of class in order to learn and understand it. i am essentially teaching myself the class - his stuff makes me a little familiar and i get to ask questions, but i just don't like the way he breezes by the material.

i have 3 assignments due before the end of the month. all are relatively difficult.

my arm and shoulder are still pretty bad - today the pain is at least down to a dull ache - the pain has been a siginificant factor in putting me under the gun in terms of understanding my material and doing assignments. the fact that i have constant bad spasms in that quadrant of my body also sees me exhausted by the end of the day.

i will suck at being a blogging buddy for possibly months. i will post when i am able and will try to stay in touch, but i have nothing to spare right now.


Friday, September 12, 2008

more Palin

have i mentioned i do not appreciate Ms. Palin's worldview or politics very much?


""Shortly after taking office in 1996 as mayor of Wasilla, a city of about 7,000 people, Palin asked the city's head librarian about banning books," AP writes. "Later, the librarian was notified by Palin that she was being fired, although Palin backed off under pressure."

"When Sarah Palin was mayor of Wasilla, the city billed sexual-assault victims and their insurance companies for the cost of rape kits and forensic examinations,"

“In 2000, Alaska lawmakers learned that rural police agencies had been billing rape victims or their insurance companies $500 to $1,200 for the costs of the forensic medical examinations used to gather evidence. They quickly passed a law prohibiting the practice.

According to the sponsor, Democrat Eric Croft, the law was aimed in part at Wasilla, where now-Gov. Sarah Palin was mayor. When it was signed, Wasilla's police chief expressed displeasure.

“ ‘In the past, we've charged the cost of exams to the victims' insurance company when possible,’ then-chief Charlie Fannon told the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman, the local newspaper. ‘I just don't want to see any more burden put on the taxpayer.’ Now that Palin is the Republican nominee for vice president, Democrats such as former Alaska governor Tony Knowles -- who signed the rape-kit bill into law and was defeated by Palin in 2006 -- are raising the issue to question Palin's commitment to women's issues and crime victims. Palin appointed Fannon after firing his predecessor shortly after she took office in 1996.”

More Palin Stories - First Read

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Palin's rookie year as mayor

i think these articles give some insights into the character of the latest political celebrity...

"She became embroiled in personnel challenges, a thwarted attempt to pack the City Council and a standoff with her local newspaper. Her first months were so contentious and polarizing that critics started talking recall.

Her first months also exposed threads that would later become patterns -- friends become enemies, enemies become friends and questions get raised about why she fired this person or that person."

Palin's rookie year as mayor was turbulent

- The Seattle Times

" Sept. 11 (Bloomberg) -- John McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate sent a signal that he would end business as usual and cronyism in government. Her record shows the Alaska governor engaged in some of the same practices she and McCain now condemn.

Palin's office approved a state job for a friend and campaign aide with whom she shared a land investment, financial records and interviews over the past two weeks show. She hired a former lobbyist for a pipeline company to help oversee a multibillion-dollar deal with that same company.

She named a police chief accused of harassment to head the state police. And she sent campaign e-mails on her city hall account while serving as mayor of Wasilla -- conduct for which she later turned in an oil commissioner on ethics charges.

These incidents raise ``some serious questions about her judgment and serious questions about her standards of ethics in public service,'' said James Thurber, director of American University's Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies in Washington. Suggesting a real estate investment partner for a job ``may be acceptable in Alaska; it would not be acceptable in Washington, D.C., a place whose norms she wants to change.'' "

Palin's Ethics Scrapes May Undercut Pledge to End Old Politics

- Bloomberg Press

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

carpal tongueal syndrome

what Smitten is afraid i might get

(just thought i'd share the joke)

Monday, September 08, 2008

how cool is that?

Smitten to Cadbury last night:

"Oh my God - with some ups and downs, i think that was a 40 minute long orgasm..."

Cadbury to Smitten:



yes indeed folks, there is a reason that as a teenager i learned to peel a grape using only my lips and tongue (a suggested exercise in the book The Erogenous Man), and learned to do the tongue/lips cherry stem tying trick

(yes - i'm feeling particularly manly today)

Thursday, September 04, 2008

pain and grumpiness

i'm in a lot of pain

my left shoulder and arm have been bugging me since late july and has flaired up into excruciating bursts of pain with excruciating throbbing and muscle spasms in between

it hurts a lot

i have minor surgery and teeth drilled with no anesthetic

not that big a deal...

this fucking hurts

massage, muscle relaxants, more massage hasn't helped

i have an appointment for acupuncture


i got a 63% in my class

fucking bullshit

should've gotten an 80 or 90

i am in discussions with the university's disability office to get extra time to write exams - having a history of not being able to finish exams in the time allotted is not a learning or other disability, but the staffer is sympathetic - once again people who know me and my history (20 plus years of involvement with the university) know i am not bullshitting - and know my ability. we are using my fibromyalgia (and possibly my anxiety diagnosis of a couple of years ago) as the official reason for getting extra time on the exams.

my doctor is sympathetic too - so the doctor's note shouldn't be hard to come by.

i feel comfortable. it's not like i'm asking for more than the chance to prove that i know my stuff - no other consideration - i am just that careful and methodical in my processes

need more time


i have started the fall semester - two classes on campus - two math correspondence

i am energised by each day on compus

so much life

so much enthusiasm and energy

a far cry from the cynicism and grind of the job

i am riding currents of air any time i am out there


when i am not owly and exhausted i will get my vacation photos up and such

it hurts a lot to sit at the computer for very long

this post is very painful, but i wanted to say hi and let you know what's up

see you soon