Monday, September 05, 2011
I spent today cleaning/reorganizing my home office. I am trying to make it more user-friendly for doing my classwork. I am happy to report that today I was able to access a class document that would not open on my old computer!
I found some things I forgot had - a couple of keepers but mostly in the trash or donation pile. I filled 4 kitchen-size trash bags and several boxes for the Vets.
I have one thing that I want to give to someone who will use it - a FitBit. Send me a SparkMail if you want it, with your mailing address. It will go to the first person who emails me.
Now to bed, as I am nodding off here...
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Last year I enrolled in a Dietetics program at the local community college. When I signed up I was told that the entire program could be done online but that proved to be untrue. I had to drop one class that required onsite visits at three different types of food service establishments for a several-hour visit and analysis of their system. I could not spare that much time from my 'real job' so I had to drop the class. I also learned that there was a summer practicum which required working many hours in a health care facility under the direction of a dietician. I am not quite sure why no one explained this to me upfront - they knew I had a full-time job - but at any rate, I decided that this was not going to be possible and so I dropped out of the program.
I haven't been happy about that decision. I really wanted to learn something new, expand my horizons, and feel like I could still accomplish something meaningful. A few months ago, on the spur of the moment, I applied for graduate school, not realizing what I was getting into! It wasn't nearly as easy as applying to the community college.
I had to fill out an application and send them my college transcript. Been there, done that, no problem. Then I had a call from the admissions counselor. I also needed to write an essay as to why I wanted to pursue this program (nonprofit management). I needed two letters of recommendation. AND I needed to take an entrance exam - the Miller Analogies Test (MAT). Now I was sweating a bit.
I got the essay done relatively quickly because this is something I am very interested in. My DD is pursuing her MSW and her long range goal is to open a shelter for kids who have been kicked out of their homes due to their sexual orientation. She wants me to help her get it set up and run it, so this degree would tie in perfectly.
The recommendations proved to be a little trickier, because one of the people I asked had several things come up and she never got around to doing the letter. I finally offered to ask someone else to write the letter which she gratefully took me up on, but time was running out. I wanted one of the two letters to be from someone I had worked with in the nonprofit area. The next person I asked said yes, but first she also questioned me on exactly why I wanted to pursue this and what my goals were. OK, got that done.
The final items was the MAT. I have a huge problem taking tests. I really get myself worked up about them and usually do OK in the end, but not without really stressing myself first. This time was no different. I am good at analogies, but this was a little different. Some of the questions had a historical, scientific or mathematical background to them. I bought a book, I paid for an online practice exam, and then found out that the score on that practice test had no correlation to the actual scoring the school would see. Finally I bite the bullet and just schedule the exam, even though I don't feel like I am ready. My score was 426 out of 600, which I didn't think was very good, but turned out to be great on the percentile basis.
I found out the day before our trip to NY that I was accepted into the program! I had some initial heart failure over the cost (what I thought was the price of a course was actually the price of one credit and each course is 3 credits). I thought I was going to have to postpone this for a while. But I applied for a student loan and got that as well. This entire program is online (for sure). Each semester is split into 2 online sessions and I will take one course per session or two per semester. They accepted my undergrad work for all the prerequisites so I have 30 credits to take to complete the program.
I am excited and scared at the same time. This is something I NEVER would have done pre-Spark. Class starts on Monday, so this gives me just under a week to get the rest of my life in order and on some sort of a schedule. I just need to have as much faith in me as my daughter has!
Thursday, August 18, 2011
It has been pretty cool here in Pittsburgh these past few weeks with the filming of the latest movie in the Dark Knight series. I know some people have been complaining about the traffic tie-ups, but this is great publicity for our city as well as lots of tax dollars and we got to see snow in August!
Angie and I had to be at the designated parking area at 5:45 AM on that Saturday morning, so she stayed at our house the night before. We had no problem getting up and ready and arrived on time with no traffic issues. They had things pretty well organized and we were on a school bus over to Heinz Field in no time. We then had to check in with our internet passes and we got 'official' movie set passes for the day. On the way in to the stadium we got a bag containing a bottle of water, a granola bar, a cookie, sunscreen and earplugs.
I was surprised at how comparatively few people were there. The stadium can hold over 70,000 and there were about 10,000 people there. They moved sections of the crowd from place to place in the stands to make it look full. I can't wait to see how it looks on the big screen. For one part of the filming, we were just two rows from the field so maybe we will actually be visible during the movie.
We weren't told where our part of filming comes in the movie but it is supposed to be the home opener for the Gotham Rogues football team, whose colors just happen to be black and gold. Several Steelers made cameo appearances and Hines Ward has a slightly larger role. Most of the guys were there for pictures and then gone but Hines was there for a good part of the day. He really seemed to be enjoying watching the filming as much as the rest of us.
We sat through several renditions of the national anthem and even had to sing for filming too. Then it is time for the kickoff and the kicker for the opposition team was none other than Luke Ravenstahl, the (young) mayor of Pittsburgh. He missed one of the kicks and was roundly booed by the crowd! There were several more takes of the opening kick and return of the ball and this took pretty much all morning into the afternoon. Then it was time for them to set up the explosions.
This took a while and we were entertained by a guy named Dante, who is an impressionist. He does a really good takeoff on the Wizard of Oz - I have been meaning to look it up on YouTube because it was really on target. They also gave out a lot of prizes - tshirts, ipods, comic books, a trip to the premiere and even a car. As I noted before, all we got was a sunburn but that was just fine with us. We weren't there for the goodies anyway.
On to the explosions at this point...I am not going to say much but I understand someone smuggled a camera into the stadium and you can find this on YouTube as well. I have to say I found this part slightly disappointing. They made a big deal about the earplugs and the noise, but the explosions weren't really that loud and we did not wear the earplugs. I have to think they are digitally enhanced in the movie - again, I can't wait to see this on the screen. After the explosions, 'bad guys' came out and held the fans hostage. We had to do some 'acting' at this point but when it was done the guy said we did a good job.
After this, Bane (the bad guy) made his entrance. This was the first time he had been filmed, so we got to see him first. Several short takes again but this time they explained that they were filming the movie in IMAX and those cameras don't hold as much film as 'regular' ones. The last scene we saw was Bane and the bad guys holding someone captive, but they deliberately shut off his mike during the filming and they were on the opposite side of the field from us, so we really couldn't tell who it was. Most people in the crowd thought it was Commissioner Gordon.
The day ended at around 6:30 for us. We were in the first group of people that were taken back to the buses. They were still filming with a small group of people when we left so hopefully we didn't miss too much. All in all, Angie and I had a great day. It was long but we were both very happy that we went.
I am hoping they have some sort of premiere here in Pittsburgh when the movie comes out and that we get to go to it!
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