Everyone has their reasons

One more odd bit about going to college at my age: I’m much closer in age to the professors than I am to most of the students. (I’ve even been older than a few of them, but that was mostly at my previous school.) This means I’m also much more likely to find teachers and other school employees attractive, although I’m far less likely (as in “won’t do it”) to extend finding someone attractive to a perusing a physical relationship with them. (Never mind the fact that I don’t have time for another partner!)

I bring this up mostly due to a conversation I overheard between two students concerning a friend of theirs who had taken a class purely based on his attraction to the teacher. Now I can say that having a teacher I find attractive can certainly make a class more interesting. I’ve absolutely had classes with instructors that were very much my type, both physically and socially, and under other circumstances I might have at least made some casual inquiries as to their availability. However, I can’t imagine signing up for a class based on nothing more than the physical appearance of the teacher.

So I must create my first poll ever …

Define attractive however you wish – physical appearance, melodic voice, collecting designer bottle caps, whatever floats your boat outside the consideration of class subject! I’m very attracted to geeks, so naturally the person who was waxing poetically about zir Linux system and advocating for strong passwords really caught my attention. If this was the sole factor in a decision to sign up for a computer OS or security class with that person, I think it would be perfectly valid, even if this is a characteristic I find attractive. If I signed up based on the fact that ze was very much within one of my preferred physical categories … well, I think that would be questionable.

A what kind of watch?

Well that was a fun way to end this morning’s class. Our school offers students (and staff) the ability to sign up for text alerts to their phones for weather related events, closings, etc. This morning, with about 15 minutes to go in the class, several students’ phones gave out just such an alert stating that we had a “tornado warning” and that everyone should seek shelter immediately. Note that this warning did not come across the PA system, nor was there any kind of other official announcement. We got the professors attention and she decided that perhaps our lives were worth more than the last few minutes of class and dismissed us a bit early, suggesting that we might consider seeking shelter!

Once outside the classroom, I did note how calm everyone seemed to be and how other classes did not seem to be obeying the instruction to “Take shelter immediately!” The view outside seemed to be one of a clear, albeit cold, Wisconsin day. Now this is not to say that we couldn’t have a tornado this time of year – I have been in the position of sitting in the closet under our stairs for several hours one January evening, but the skies didn’t look anything like they did this morning.

After heading over to my help desk job in the lab and talking with some of the people there, we think what happened is either they were testing the system or they meant to send out a winter weather watch. Tonight we are supposed to get hit yet again with a heavy snow storm along with the expected weather problems in the morning. Still, it’s a lot better than a tornado!

Addendum: a guest from the National Weather Service on our local NPR station this morning did confirm that the error was on their part. They were testing their system and the “tornado warning” had a malformed header tag which caused it to be distributed to the outside world instead of remaining in their internal system. The school alerts (and it wasn’t just us) simply passed it along. Oops!

The first few weeks of the Spring Semester

In my last post the new semester had started, but I had not actually made it to class due to having a stomach flu. That first week I made it to class two whole days – Wednesday and Thursday. I at least got to meet most of my professors, but did not meet my professor for Introduction to 2D Design until the following week as she was out due to having, you guessed it, the flu. There seems something rather symmetrical in that, actually. Just to round out the fun of the first week, I ended up going to the emergency room on Friday with gastro-intestinal issues related to the flu with which I though I had finished.

I can recall with clarity my youth when I loved to be home sick instead of at school, especially when I had something as iron-clad as a trip to the ER to back me up on my legitimate absence. Now I find myself somewhat resenting my body for getting sick and I’d really much rather be in even my least favorite class than at home sick. Around the time I arrived in the ER, I was actually supposed to be interviewing for a on-campus job with technical services. I think it’s more than fair to say that I really would rather have been at the interview!

Fast-forward a few weeks and I’m firmly settled into my new routine, including that tech services job. (Yay for Semi-gainful employment!) Monday and Wednesday are my ‘long’ days – starting with my first class at 10:00 with my last class ending at 20:00. The new job has me here a few extra hours, but for some of those hours I was just hanging out in the LGBTQ center chatting with people anyway. (I do still get one day a week which I get to do that. This makes a good balance between being social with other students and getting a little income.)

Being here in Wisconsin it should come as no surprise that we’ve had several days of very hard snow. Thus far, I have only had one class canceled due to snow and that was a decision by the professor, not the school. While the school has closed due to snow twice this semester, both closings were for evening classes and neither affected me directly. The one canceled class did allow me time to catch up on some non-school related activities, although to be honest I kind of wish I had not already been dressed when I saw the email about the cancellation — I could probably use the sleep!

I should also post thoughts on individual classes, but I’m not going to do so right now. (I’m writing this during some down time at work and I’m off to do a walk around before I go home for the evening.)

Now may be better than Then

Although going to college now presents many challenges to me, I’ll say that there are absolutely many advantages over going at an age when I traditionally would have gone. If I had entered college straight out of high school, it would have been in the fall of 1988 and most likely would have been a state college in North Carolina. Both of these bring up several issues on a personal level and some relating to my chosen field of study.

As I said in my introductory post, I am majoring in Computer Science and minoring in Web Design. The field of computers and programming has advanced so much in the last twenty-four years that it’s difficult to know where to even being with the changes. There were certainly programming classes back then and even personal computers, but they were pretty different than what’s offered now. My minor absolutely did not exist yet. The Internet did exist in 1988, but Tim Berners-Lee had yet to write his proposal for  HTTP and the first ‘webpage’ wouldn’t be around for another three years or so. The concept that businesses would one day not only actually pay people to code these things, but really wouldn’t even be taken seriously as a business if they didn’t have one, was as incomprehensible as a business routinely advertising by skywriting.

Speaking of things that (mostly) didn’t exist in 1988 …

After my first actual meeting with my UW student advisor, I was wondering around the student service area – taking care of financial arrangements, making sure I was properly registered, that sort of thing. There was a sign pointing to the different student service departments available and one of the listings was for the Student LGBTQ resource center. I happen to be bisexual, and I’m very comfortable with this fact, but I didn’t come out to more than a very few friends until I was 21 … which would have been about  my third year of college if I had gone in 1988. While I know there were some LGBTQ organizations in the NC area in the late 1980’s, mostly they were at private schools (Duke University being a noted example) and were certainly not officially endorsed by the school! Some histories of such organizations talk about how progress was when the school administration moved from a policy of unquestioningly expelling a student for being gay to “only” strongly suggesting counsellings and other cohesiveness to “correcting” their behavior.

OK, make no mistake, I’m going to school to further my education and to get my degree. Assuming I’m not being actively discriminated against, I don’t think I actually need such a center anymore than I need one for any of the many other subcategories which could be used to describe me. Unfortunately my orientation is one such category which has been used to discriminate against people … including myself. Having such an organization – and one recognized and actively condoned by the school – means a great deal to me. Also, although I didn’t exactly enjoy the discrimination I’ve encountered in my life, I’m glad that I can talk to my younger fellow students and tell them about how things really have changed for the better! (This doesn’t mean we should rest comfortably now, but that whole It Gets Better thing isn’t bullshit. It may take time, but it really does get better!)

I may have waited a long time to get started, but I really do think this was a better starting place; “Now” is better than then.

Finals week …

This is made a lot more interesting by the fact that I’ve also got a work project ending this week. In some ways, this is good, because fewer total classes this week means I have more time to work, but the work pressure means I’ve got a lot less time to study. (The fact that the class I need to study for most has an exam on Tuesday really doesn’t help!)

Time is running short!

I remember when I used to be able to do this …

One very noticeable difference between me and my fellow students, most of whom are significantly younger: I have a lot harder time with ‘all-nighter’ sessions. (Although I do note that I end up pulling them due to my other time commitments and not because I spent the weekend drinking and partying!)

I’m going to go make some more coffee, then review my CS assignment before I submit it.