School

Belated post: With Gratitude

I spent Thanksgiving weekend 2010 (nearly two years ago) feeling very thankful. During that time, I started writing the post below, but I didn’t finish. I now present to you my completed (and after) thoughts

On Thanksgiving in 2009 I spent the day with my in-laws. We were at Grandma’s house,  with Hubby’s parents, brother, sister-in-law, Aunt and Uncle, cousins, and (of course) Grandma. We celebrated Thanksgiving in their traditional way; Oyster stuffing (made specifically because Grandma thinks Hubby likes it), Poopernickel Bread (there’s an inside joke here), green bean casserole, turkey, and wine.

That Thanksgiving I had a migraine. While the rest of the family visited and played games, I took my netbook and hid in a dark, quiet room, and started writing (I was hiding because of the migraine, I’m not really that antisocial). I joined WordPress, created this blog, and wrote my first two mediocre posts; one as a brief introduction, the other as a letter of thanks to my friends and family.

Thanksgiving 2010 was spent with my family (4 siblings, 2 nieces, 5 cousins, Mom, Aunt and Uncle, Grandparents, and various boyfriends and girlfriends of cousins and siblings. It was the first time in several years that myself, my 4 siblings, and the 5 cousins had been all together in many years, and it was very nice. [I originally had something witty that I was going to say about my family’s Thanksgiving traditions, but have since forgotten.]

To all of my family and friends, who supported me while I was in school. To Lisa, Michelle, and Keri for being the best team that I could ever hope for in our business simulation project. To my nieces for being my constant source of inspiration to finish school. To Kreg, for always prodding me in the right way to keep me motivated to work toward my dream. To my D&D group, for working around my schedule so that I can be part of the once-per-month drinking and dragons session. To each of you – I am eternally grateful.

The main focus in my life in the fall of 2010 was finishing my bachelor’s degree. To me it was an important step to move my career forward as well as a very important personal goal. While I was mostly doing it for me, I also knew that it was important to my family.

I had no idea how important until my surprise graduation party and later reading something my brother wrote in his blog. I still tear up when thinking about both the party, my brother’s kind words, and how much the support of my friends meant during that time.

Surprise!

I am done with school. For now anyway. I’ve completed my bachelor’s degree and my diploma will arrive sometime next month.

I finished school on the Friday before Christmas. The next week I was busy with Christmas shopping (I’d hardly started while in school). Hubby and I spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at his parents’ house. He spent most of the time curled up on the couch with a nasty cold, while I visited the family and helped his mom make Beef Wellington (yum!).

On Sunday, Hubby was too sick to join me for my Dad’s Christmas party. He really wanted to go, but I made him stay home and rest. I had a great day helping prepare dinner, putting together puzzles with one of my nieces and one of my brothers, decorating the tree, and opening gifts.

After dinner Dad invited me up to his in-laws’ place; he needed to pick up a couple of things and thought I’d enjoy meeting them. We visited for about half an hour and just when I was starting to think that I should really head home soon, Dad received a text. It was his wife wondering why we’d been gone so long. (To make sure I’m not giving the wrong impression: I really like Dad’s wife, but she’s not my step-mom. She is more like Dad’s life partner that is also becoming my friend. Since I don’t use names, I’ll just call her Dad’s Wife.)

When we got back to Dad’s place, the house was dark and the door was locked. Both of which are unusual. Someone unlocked the door from inside, and I stepped in as the lights came on and everyone shouted “Surprise!” and started blowing on noise makers.

The room was decorated in my school’s colors (red and gold/black) with streamers and balloons that said Congratulations, Amanda, and 2010. My younger niece came over and covered my eyes. My sister slid something over my arms while Dad’s Wife messed with my hair. When my niece uncovered my eyes, I saw a black tassel hanging to one side off of what I was sure was a graduation cap (even though I couldn’t see myself) and looked down to find myself wearing a bright red gown.

I looked around the room and saw that all of my immediate family was there; my Dad, my sister and nieces, all of my brothers, even Mom.

I was shocked. I’d been under the impression for a long time that Dad didn’t really care that I was in school and maybe even disapproved. On top of that, Mom and Dad have an extreme dislike for each other. The last time I recall seeing them in the same room was at my wedding reception eight years ago.

I had no idea what to say or do. I am not used to being the center of attention. When I’d had a moment to take it all in, my sister disappeared for a moment and some music started (Pomp and Circumstance, the traditional music that is played at graduation ceremonies).

Dad took my arm and walked with me into the living room, and then someone told me to turn my tassel to the other side. One of my brothers or nieces asked me for a speech.  I had no idea what to say, and was already on the verge of tears.

I said something like “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I was born” (a joke for my brothers). I went on to say “and my mommy and daddy raised me right. And I went off to school, but had no idea what I wanted to be so I dropped out. Then I found what I wanted to be and so I went back, and I worked hard, and I finished. And thank you all for being so patient with me.”

I’m pretty sure I really did sound that dumb.

The party was great. Mom made an amazing cake and gave me a beautiful frame to put my diploma in. Dad gave me a beautiful pearl bracelet and necklace. (I was in shock again. My dad doesn’t do big gifts like that.)

Everyone visited and had a great time. Mom and Dad even had some polite and very comfortable conversation.

I regret not having the presence of mind, while I had my whole family in one place, to ask for a family picture. Perhaps in the spring when my niece graduates from high school I’ll get another opportunity.

The reality of being done is just starting to hit me.

Even at the party, it seemed unreal. Then this past week I received an invitation from Capella to attend commencement, and the reality of being done and not being able to actually attend commencement sunk in.

I am grateful to my family in so many ways for the party that they threw me and their support over the past five years. I don’t know how I can ever express it, but I’ll definitely try.

Now to enjoy some of my new found free time.

Monday update; and maybe the last for a while

This last weekend was busy. Saturday afternoon and evening when Hubby and I visited some friends and had a nice relaxing time playing games (the D&D Castle Ravenloft board game and pinochle).

The rest of the weekend was pretty much all school work. This quarter is going to be intense, there is no doubt about it. I spent most of the weekend trying to get comfortable with the simulation software that we’re using and how all the different options in each screen impact all of the others. My brain hurts. It will be a fun project, but it will take a ton of work.

Realistically, I don’t think I’m going to get to do much more than the random lunch-time post for the next couple months. I know I’m sporadic about posting normally, and not having new stuff here never really comes as a surprise, but I thought I’d give some warning.

I hate knowing that the five posts in progress that are just going to sit untouched in my drafts, but school comes first.

My last class! Is it over yet?

It is almost time. I started working on my bachelor’s degree in the spring of 2005. Actually, let me rephrase that. I returned to school in the spring of 2005. I had about one year worth of general credits that transferred from my time at WWU when I started at Capella.

Now, I’m starting my last class. My dreaded last class. I’ve heard rumors about this class over the past year, and it seems the rumors are true.

Holy crap ton of work! I’m not kidding. My textbook alone weighs at least ten pounds.

The course is called “Business Capstone Project”. It should be called “Business Capstone Projects”. Plural.  There are three main components to the class: Discussions (40% of my grade), an individual course project (40% of my grade), and a group project (20% of my grade). Both projects have a strategic focus.

It looks like the group project alone will be as much work as any other class I’ve taken since I returned to school. It looks like it will be fun though. Well, as long as I’m not stuck with a group like my last group project; I did most of the work on the group presentation, we had to give a presentation via a conference call, I had bronchitis, and no one else got the material well enough to present.

My group looks like they will be good though, and the project will be interesting. It is a business simulation that takes place over 8 years, with each week of the course being a new year. This week doesn’t count because it is a practice week.  The entire simulation is strategic business decisions, but it will play out like a game with each team’s strategy impacting the other teams. No cute little avatars dancing across the screen though, that part is a little disappointing.

The discussions are the typical discussions that my classes have had. Read the text, read an article or a case study, analyze them, then discuss with the other students.

I’m a bit apprehensive about the solo-project. It is a critical analysis of the strategy presented by a case study. It is supposed to be no more than 6 pages (including references) and it counts for 40% of my grade. I am not good at being concise, so I expect it to be a major challenge.

Well, this really isn’t what I had in mind when I started writing. Apparently I needed to vent a bit.

Bed time! I’m going to try to get up early enough tomorrow morning to meet up with my east coast team mates for a team meeting before I have a bit of social time tomorrow afternoon.

Would you like one lump, or two?

I haven’t made time to write since last Sunday. So, to keep myself in the habit (and help me sleep better), I’ve decided to share this (relatively unedited train of thought) post. Think of it as the two of us sitting down over tea, and me monopolizing the conversation.

This last week flew by. Work was chaotic (in a verging on maddening yet semi-controlled sort of way), so much that I postponed a day off just so I could take that day knowing that I wasn’t perpetuating my backlog of work.

I mentioned recently that writing here has been helping me sleep better. This past week echoed that reality. I’ve gone back to waking up in the middle of the night thinking about everything and nothing, and having some really strange dreams. I’m sure it is fueled by my excitement for PAX (and then graduation), my eagerness to have a change in my career, and my nervousness about making it happen.

PAX is less than twelve days away now! I’m still fretting about being prepared. My hubby and a couple of our friends have planned what they’re going to wear each day. And they’re guys. I’m trying to get on that bandwagon, but I only have one shirt planned. For the other two, I’ll probably just pick whatever seems appropriate the day before.

I’ve started planning which panels to attend. I’d like to go to all of them, and then have another 3 or 4 days to wander and gawk over/play with all of the games and toys that will be there. The reality is that I’ll probably do a couple of career focused (not fanboy focused) panels per day, and spend the rest of the time exploring the glory that is PAX. Oh, and drinking caffeine. Lots and lots of caffeine.

I did decide to bring “introduction cards” (business cards, but for me – not for any business), because a little help to my networking skills couldn’t hurt. I haven’t decided what to put on them yet though. That may be my next task.

Well, that and completing two weeks worth of school work in the next 10 days.

~ Amanda

A few PAX related links

A little piece of serenity

One of my brothers is staying with me. On Friday, I volunteered to give him a ride to work Saturday morning. It was good for both of us. He didn’t need to take the bus and then run from the bus stop to work to get there in time and it forced me to get out of bed at a normal time so that I could get an early start on my studies.

My brother works about a 25 minute drive from my house. We stopped and got coffee on the way, and by 9:00 I’d dropped him off. It was a beautiful morning and I really wanted to be outside enjoying the glorious summer weather. I had my textbook and notebook in the car, so Instead of going home to cuddle with a kitty while reading, I decided to go to my favorite Bellingham place to study: Lake Padden park.

Several years ago (shortly after I returned to school), I had worked out with my boss so that I could take a day off every other week. On those days, I would go to the park (as long as it wasn’t any more than misty) and find a picnic table or nice dry piece of grass and read. I would bring my laptop, with assignments and supplemental reading downloaded, so that once I’d finished reading my text I could move on to writing papers. I even borrowed a broadband wireless card from work any time I one was available so that I wouldn’t need to leave the park.

Often, once I was done studying or when I needed a break, I would slip my books and laptop back into the car and go for a walk around the lake. During that time, I also visited Lake Padden every two or three days just for a brisk walk around the lake. The trail that loops around the lake is 2.6 miles and very hilly. It is mostly in the shade of trees and is well maintained, so while it is a good workout for couch potatoes like me and it is also so serene that it doesn’t feel like work.

Studying at Lake Padden was always a nice way to make homework less work and more relaxation. Yesterday was no different. The laughter of a little boy on the dock learning to fish, happy dogs jogging along the trail with their humans, and the chirping of birds were the only sounds over the rustling of leaves and the small lake-waves on the shore.

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#GamingIs where I want my career to lead.

There’s a movement on Twitter today to get #GamingIs trending. It seems to be started by @theKevinButler (and probably also Sony and PlayStation since he is their spokes person in the same way that Isaiah Mustafa is Old Spice’s spokes person). I hesitate to join in because it really is about a company trying to use social media to build a marketing campaign.

On the other hand (more…)

Setback

I had big plans yesterday. I got up bright and early, went out for coffee and to drop my brother off at work, did a little shopping, and came home and paid bills. I planned on doing a mission in STO, reading some more from my textbook, and then going to get my hair done.

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Too long

It has been too long since I last wrote here. I got distracted and neglected writing here.

What have I been up to? The school quarter ended a week ago. I took Monday of that week off to write my final paper. I also watched all of the E3 press conferences that streamed on Monday. Disappointing, but it was my first time watching it “live” so it was pretty interesting.

I spent the rest of that week sick. I worked from home and slept. And I played Oblivion.  I tend to only play MMOs, even though I really enjoy other games too. This generally happens because of my lack of time and because my hubby plays games soon after they are released, and I don’t like playing a game when I already know what is going to happen and how my decisions will impact the story.

But then years pass and a friend (the same friend every time) introduces me to a game that I absolutely have to play. And she’s always right. I finally played Portal a few weeks ago. I loved it. I finished it in one 4 hour sitting. Steam says that I’ve now played Oblivion for 61 hours. It is an amazing game.

Now I’m one week into my early summer break. Next quarter starts on July 12 and ends the week after PAX. I’m probably going to regret saying this but I’ll say it anyway: it should be an easy school quarter. I will be taking Fundamentals of Finance & Accounting. I already know a fair amount about finance and accounting from my work, so I’m hoping to be able to complete most of the work in the first couple weeks so that I can essentially have the whole quarter off.

Anyway, That’s what I’ve been up to. I’ll be writing more soon.

~Amanda

A student’s appreciation for Google Books

One of the things I’ve always hated about writing essays is trying to find the material that I want to reference. Often, I know the basic gist of the excerpt I want to quote, I know it was in a specific section of the book, but I don’t remember exactly where it was or exactly what it said.

Today, I had exactly that happen. I was writing a paper on Corporate Social Responsibility for the Ethics course I am taking this quarter. At some point early on in the text, I am certain that the author said something about people starting businesses because they believe in the product or service rather than to get rich.

I wanted to use that quote in my paper but I’m horrible about highlighting (I either over do it or under do it). I flipped through the book without finding that I’d highlighted the quote, and then went directly to Google books and typed the ISBN of from my textbook in the search box.

Google books, being the amazing Google search engine that it is then allowed me to search within the book. I searched every key word from what I remembered of the statement. With each search the results would display a snippet of the text from where the word or phrase was found.  If the publisher has given Google permission to share the full text, the preview can be clicked to show the full context. If not, at least you have the page number so you can find the quote in your physical book.

In the past, this has saved me countless hours of flipping through book after book . Trying to find that one pesky quote from three quarters ago that I really wanted to use. Trying to find a chapter from a book that I read two years ago that might be relevant for this paper. Even when I’ve read something for school that would be great to share with a coworker.

Today, Google Books didn’t help me find that one special quote. On the bright side, searching for what I thought the quote was helped save me from misquoting based upon memory.