Monday, February 21, 2005
It's not often that I troll for advice, but then again, it's not often that I'm faced with a dilemma of this nature, or indeed of this magnitude.
Alreday first day back from spring break and there's so much to do and so much to decide upon. For the most part I've got my things in order. Perfectionist-planned to the last detail. I know where I'm going and I know how I'm getting there. Following the plans so that everything doesn't get last-minute backed up is another issue, but not one that is relevant today. I guess it's time for me to stop stalling and get to the point I'm trying to get your advice on today.
We all know that I'm a table games dealer with Great Canadian Casinos
. We all know that this job pays obscenely well. While hourly I'm only really making minimum wage, I make $8-9/hr in tips in cash, paid to me weekly. That works out to about $100/week in cash in my pocket. The government doesn't get any of it and because I'm a student I don't even have to pay taxes on it (Full-time students are tax exempt). Hell, some weeks I even do better than $100/week if it's the season for giving. In addition to my ridiculous tips on top of my wages, there's the employee investment plan. Every paycheque a set amount is deducted (a set amount of my choice, mind) and it put into an investment plan for my retirement. The company matches
whatever I contribute to this investment plan. In addition
to the investment plan are employee stock options
. Now I've just become eligible for this, but the company matches a third of your investment (i.e. if I invest 75 cents, the company will put 25 cents in for me) when you buy company stock. Company stock is valuable. Not only are we expanding our existing locations, we are also opening new casinos left right and centre. This is a company that has no where to go but up. Plus
there are great benefits. Now, I don't qualify for benefits because right now I'm only working part-time and I'm on Jim's company plan anyway (that really isn't as good...), but this point is relevant because to work off student debt I would be working full-time with the casino.
The downside to this job is that it has absolutely nothing to do with my career goals, neither do I want to alter my career goals to include a future with this company. Don't get me wrong. It's probably the best company you can work for outside of government service on the west coast of Canada. It's just that I'm in school to be a speech pathologist. You know. Helping children with learning disabilities and blah blah blah blah. Oh fuck. I don't even like kids. I'm just in it because there's a global need for speech paths and therefore there's money in the business. Not to mention I love what I'm studying and I'm good at it. Unfortunately it's not like I'm working toward a future as a speech pathologist while I'm dealing mini baccarat. Sure, I mean, my customers sometimes seem
to have learning disabilities, but I don't think that counts.
The kicker is that on a whim I sent my resume to some people who are currently recruiting ABA therapists
. These therapists work one-on-one with autistic kids to try and help their behavioural development. It's very close to what I will be doing as a speech path especially if I want to join the school board after graduation - which I do. I got a call back and this Wednesday I will be meeting the family they want to pair me up with. If all goes well I will become the therapist for this little kindergarten-aged girl with autism.
The job with the little girl is so much closer to my career goals but there are no benefits, no investment plans, no stock options. The wage will be $8/hr to start (minimum wage) and will increase to $10/hr. I don't yet know how many hours I will get a week. It depends on the family and the child's needs and so far I don't know what this little girl needs from her therapist. I hope to know by Wednesday. I think I will be paid under the table, which means that I will be getting all this tax-free, but I will no longer be making the obscene amount of money that I am now making at the casino.I cannot go to school full-time and maintain both jobs and my A average.
God I need a drink.
So here's where you, my esteemed reader comes into the picture. What the hell am I supposed to do? Wednesday is coming up quick and I don't know whether to accept the position should it be offered to me. Accepting the position means that I would have to quit the casino. Quit the casino
I love that place. I love the people. I love my bosses. How many people can say that eh? I even love my customers. Well, some of them. And seriously, as far as I can tell, they love me back. In fact, I had this Taiwanese lady come in the other day and realise I understood Hokkien. Now we're not allowed to communicate with our customers in languages besides English for the plain and simple fact that it's rude to the other customers at the table who don't speak the language you are engaged in. But she knew I understood what she was saying and just had a grand old time talking to me. Apparently her kids only speak English and she hasn't had the opportunity to speak Tai Yi in a damn long time. I'm rambling now aren't I?
It's just such a hard decision. Do I give up money and working at a place that I like working at to work with the little autistic girl? I mean I don't even like
kids and I've never
worked with anyone with a disability. Maybe I'll fall for her when I see her on Wednesday. I don't know and I don't think it's fair for me to make any judgments on whether or not I will like being an ABA therapist until I actually do it. It's probably alot more rewarding than taking money away from chronic gamblers. Technically the casino's stand on employees that quit is that if they leave in good faith, they are welcome to reapply for future positions. I don't know how well that applies to me because I haven't passed probation yet. The casino is one bridge that I certainly do not want to burn. Not to mention the casino paid for me to become a dealer in the first place! A right way of saying thank you would be to forfeit their investment in me.
Gosh. Like I said. I don't often ask for advice, but I'm doing it now.
posted by Joie! at
Thursday, February 17, 2005
I got back from Victoria last night and here are the details.
We're in Victoria! That building in the background is Parliment. Interestingly enough, even though Vancouver is really where everything happens, the capital of BC is on the Island.
This is the Empress Hotel. It's a really really big deal although I haven't really found out why. For $40/person you can have tea in their sitting room. $40 for tea crumpets and finger sandwiches. Not to mention a strict, strict dress code. $40 that would be better spent getting absolutely sloshed, IMHO.
The Bug Zoo
Every time I go to Victoria, I make it a point to visit the Bug Zoo. I have this overriding fear of bugs and I figure that through systematic desensitization
I will eventually get over that fear. The Bug Zoo is the best place for me to do this because not only do they have a nice wide array of bugs, they take most of them out of their tanks
so that you can hold them. Look! There's Jim with a Scorpion right now!
If I remember right, I think that scorpion's name is Steve. Oh! and here's me holding Steve. Scorpions never freaked me out so this isn't some kind of break through or anything. My uncle used to breed scorpions twice the size of Steve.
Here's one of my favourite shots:
This one is of Jim and Emma. This trip I actually got up enough nerve to hold Emma and she is such a sweetheart. In fact, now I want a Mexican Red-legged Tarantula. They're fuzzy and gentle and oh so cute. Unfortunately all the shots of me holding Emma are out of focus. Well, that's not true. The only thing in focus in the shots of my holding Emma is my cleavage. Enough said. Here's a top-down look at Emma:
Mexican Red-legged Tarantula babies are currently selling at $100CAN+tax at the Bug Zoo. While they are certainly not dangerous, I think it would not be fair for me to buy one just because the cats would harass her. The reason I say "her" is because although we won't be able to tell what gender the babies are for at least another year and a half the males don't stay as chubby and live for only about 5-6 years. The females always stay fat and furry and can live up to 30 years.
This dude here is Cedric who thankfully didn't come out of his tank to do the whole meet and greet thing. Cedric's venom probably wouldn't have hurt us just because of the kind of centipede he is but I don't think I would have wanted to find out. Not to mention this guy can run like a mofo.
This little beauty here is Pinky and she's the infamous bird-eating spider. You know, the ones that can get up to 12 inches across? Yeah those ones. Well bird-eating is a bit of a misnomer. While it's true that she eats anything smaller than she is (including birds) she doesn't like to lunge for them and certainly doesn't trap them in webs or anything like that. If a bird is stupid enough to land close enough to Pinky then she will eat it. Her diet consists mainly of small reptiles, insects and mammals.
This is a fantastic picture that Jim got of one of the many phantasmids at the Zoo. Phantasmids are an order of insects that can camoflage really well. So leaf insects, stick insects, you name it. Right here we have a phantasmid that's trying to climb Jim:
The female thorny devil that is currently getting very intimate with Jim is a special kind of phantasmid in that she doesn't camoflage that well. That's not really a problem because she's covered in armour and spikes like you wouldn't believe. Which would explain the expression on Jim's face in the picture.
Yes these Katydids really are as big as they look in the picture. Nothing interesting about them here except to note that their bodies are only about as large as an average adult male's thumb. The rest of it is legs and wings.
I can't remember this beetle's name mainly because I was trying to remember the many names that the world community addresses it by. There's the Rhinoceros beetle, Atlas beetle and Goliath beetle to name a few. I just think it's too cool. Fun fact: this is the strongest animal in the world. Bet you thought that the strongest animal was an ant, didn't you? I could talk all day about bugs but seeing as how this post is really supposed to be about my trip to Victoria I will move on.
All the Other Tourist Attractions
The Royal British Columbia Museum.
Which was surprisingly disappointing. Jim and I had already been there so we were familiar with all the regular exhibits. Due to the fact that we visited during the off season, there was no special exhibit on display. Well, we got to peep through two little holes to watch the construction of the up and coming new exhibit. It wasn't a complete loss though. Behold!
John Lennon's Rolls Royce. That alone was worth the price of admission. On the way back to the car from the museum we saw this:
And thought it was amusing enough to take a photo of. I mean seriously, whoever beheaded the crossing man really has too much time on his/her hands.
Then there were the Undersea Gardens. Relatively unremarkable, but I like fish.
The lighting wasn't picture-condusive, so we didn't get too many shots.
Having already pretty much done everything we could have done in downtown Victoria we headed out to a pub that came highly recommended.
That's the view from our table. That's my hand around the best beer I have ever had in my life. It was so good that I got a little more drunk than I had planned to and so we took a walk outside the pub so that I could clear my head a little. The path outside the pub was very scenic and we took more pictures than I think this blog's audience could care about. Here's a few choice ones.
In this picture Jim and I look so close and cuddly, but that's just because I when Jim ran toward me to get into the shot before the timer went off he bumped me and I was slowly slipping off that rock we were sitting on. I was clinging on to him and vice versa so I wouldn't topple off completely. Remember how inebriated I was.
A strong contender for the GQ 2004/2005 male model of the year:
Now all I need are a few swimsuit shots and his application is set.
After that walk Jim and I remembered that we had bought a pair of mini cigars to enjoy.
What a bad influence Jim is eh? Before any of you get the screaming meemies, I'm allergic to cigarette smoke, not cigar smoke and it's not like I or Jim inhale or anything alright? Besides, Jim's not allowed cigars more than twice a year and I only snoke when he does.
Now that that's cleared up, let's move on!
P.S. Before any of you might have any comments to make about Jim's Hat, you might want to know that it's warm, it's comfortable and that I made it. So there.
This is the picture that a nice stranger took for us at the end of the pier. Jim wanted to set up the timer again, but I wasn't comfortable leaving the camera on the floor where it's accessible to the inattentive public's feet.
I felt like a bit of an idiot posing for this shot mainly because I had no idea what Jim was up to. It's really cool though.
Just before we left Victoria we went up to Mount Tomie which is the place where you can see all of Victoria from. Granted, Victoria's not all that big, but it was nice. It was also cold so we just snapped a few shots and got back into the car.
All in all it was a great holiday. Mostly we wandered around attending to anything that happened to catch our fancy. Considering that the whole point of this holiday was to take time off, I would say Mission Accomplished.
posted by Joie! at
Thursday, February 10, 2005
Half the Fun
Remember this post
? Oh yeah. Yeah baby yeah.
I spent more time than I should have yesterday looking at places to stay in Victoria. Initially I was looking at B&Bs which I thought would be relatively more economical as compared to hotels/motels. I was so wrong it's not even funny. The average price of a room is over $100CAN/night. We were budgeting our mini-getaway around the $35/night that Lisa and David paid when they escaped to the island while they were over here. Of course the official story is that they slept in separate rooms, which meant that they paid $70/night for accomodations in Victoria. Correct me if I'm wrong.
I was severely tempted to spend $99/night though on this little hideaway that claims to be a mere seven blocks from Victoria's downtown core. It advertised a jet-jacuzzi in the ensuite bathroom and a gourmet breakfast every morning. On the other hand, it meant that we would be spending upwards of $300 on accomodations alone, which is rather ridiculous. Especially ridiculous if you consider the fact that Jim has relatives in Victoria that would house us and give us breakfast for free if we asked (not wanting to impose and wanting to be on our own we didn't ask, but still...). It didn't take too long for me to abandon the B&B listings website.
A google for hotels in Victoria led me to Expedia.ca
. This site is amazing! I've seen commercials for it on TV and in magazines, but never really gave it a second thought. Right now though, I'm officially giving it a free plug. It checks hotels in the area of your choice for availability and was able to give me the best overall rates. I did price comparisons with Cheap Tickets, Hotwire and several other like websites. None were able to match the user-friendlyness or the prices that Expedia offered. Hotwire is especially retarded. You are not allowed to know the name or exact location of your hotel until after you have booked and paid for your stay. Excuse me? Sure, they had some pretty spiffy prices for three star hotels, but as far as I know, it could be pretty far away from the downtown core.
Not that distance from the downtown core was too much of a deciding factor initially anyway. One of the hotels I was seriously considering was the Ocean Front Grand Resort and Marina
. Each of their 55 rooms had a full ocean view. There were spa services plus an indoor pool and hot tub on site. The room would have cost us a mere $55.20/night and was furnished with two Queen or double beds, which could easily have been pushed together for maximum sleeping area. The catch was that it is located in Cowichan Bay which is a 40-45 minute drive outside Victoria. Jim contended that the point of going to Victoria was to do touristy things and if we stayed at the Ocean Front Grand Resort and Marina we would have to be up obscenely early in order to maximize our time in the downtown core. I had to agree, though grudgingly.
The hotel that we finally decided on is the Red Lion Inn and Suites
which Expedia managed to get for us at a scant $44/night. This three-star hotel features an award winning dim sum restaurant (hopefully I will be able to convince Jim to have at least one meal there...) as well as a more casual sports bar. It has an outdoor pool but since neither Jim nor I are Eskimos, I don't think we will be packing our swimming costumes necessarily. Our stay there also features a free pass to a nearby gym (HAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAA) but I somehow doubt that we will be making much use of that particular facility. The best part about this hotel is that we were able to choose from two types of rooms for the same rate. The first was furnished with two Queen or Double beds and a bathroom. The second with a King bed, a Queen sofa bed, a sitting area, a kitchenette and a bathroom. It was a nice no-brainer. I'm guessing the reason we were able to get the suite at the same rate as the room is that it is off-season right now. Most spring breakers go to more exotic locations like New Orleans or Palm Springs, not Retirement Central, BC.
I am so excited there's nothing else I can think of. Even while measuring formant frequency centres and examining formant transitions (tedious and attention demanding work) cannot pry my mind from dim sum and the Bug Zoo. I will be leaving Sunday evening (right after I get off work) and returning only late on Wednesday. I sure hope that all of Saturday and Sunday I will be able to keep my mind on the job, especially because I have a nagging feeling that I'm going to be breaking that stupid pit with Pai Gow (which I have only dealt twice) and Carribean Stud Poker (which I have only dealt once).
posted by Joie! at
Tuesday, February 08, 2005
You Say You Want a Revolution
I guess I wasn't the only one who were harbouring the sentiments that I expressed in this post
because there's been something close to a quiet revolt that's been taking place on the class website.
There have been 5-6 paragraph long posts on the discussion board telling how inconsistencies in lab groups and the inadequate dissemination of information is making this course absolutely impossible. There are even references to the course that was held last year by another professor and how it was run. One bunch of students started it, now there are 3-4 such posts and dozens others just lending support for what is being said. The interesting thing is that most posts on the discussion board are addressed within hours of appearing. There havebeen no responses to the latest messages and they have been there for several days now. It feels like something is brewing. I have this class in 15 minutes, and I can't wait to see if there will be a response.
The most amazing thing about this revolt is that you are not allowed to post anonymously on the discussion boards. People are willing to put their names out there to protest the quality of our education. Real kudos to those who began it, although to be fair to Carden, he's such a nice guy that I can't see him retaliating to the comments. In fact, I'm pretty sure that he'll be appreciative of the constructive critisms. Whetheror not he will use it to implement some much needed change is a completely different issue.
The thing about this course is that it's not an elective. In fact is it probably the most core course for those who are majoring in Speech Sciences. The Linguistics buggers don't really need
this course for their future, although it would undoubtedly come in very useful. It's one week before Spring break, which means that it's pretty much halfway through the term. I have not learnt anything new. I have not learnt anything - period. You know how there are some courses where you don't really learn anything new, but you go over stuff that you would otherwise forget? Yeah...no. In this course the only thing that I've gone over again is how to kick ass at Solitaire. Since I forgot to charge the batteries on my Dell Axim X50, I won't even be able to further hone my Solitaire skills today.
Then again, even if it were an elective, there is still no excuse for such shoddy teaching.
In honour of those who have raised their voices to speak for everyone in class, here are a few choice excerpts. Note how respectful they are and how focused they are not not assigning blame, but petitioning for change.
"[The inconsistencies] makes it difficult to create a uniform grading standard for the class as a whole, as some students have received more information and guidance than others.
I realize that we can also ask the instructors and TA for guidance, but even there, if we are starting from different basic levels of understanding and information, it becomes difficult to even know which are the questions to ask."
"In reviewing the lab assignment with my partner, who is in a different lab than myself, we noticed that we each had a DIFFERENT lab assignment sheet. The assignment given out on Friday was more detailed and annotated with different requirements than the assignment that was given out on Thursday.
These differences (or 'typos' as referred to by Dr. Carden in Friday's lab) were NOT posted on webct for the rest of the class. No note was made of this in Thursday's lab. I am lucky enough that my partner and I are in different sections, therefore able to take advantage of the fact that two different lectures are given during lab time, and we can combine our information. However, this is a huge disadvantage to anyone who is not in contact with someone from a Friday lab.
We should not have to seek out someone with their lab on Friday to ensure that our assignment from the day before is accurate."
And my favourite one:
"Most of the time is spent figuring out what exactly we are supposed to do, which is rarely clearly explained in lab. This is very frustrating considering last year's 317 lab consisted of assignments that could ALWAYS be finished during lab hours...and regular class time was spent on background information and an explanation of how to do things for the lab.
We dont really get a chance to do any part of the assignments in lab so dont know if we have problems actually doing the exercise at hand.
This is extremely frustrating. It would be helpful to come up with a solution so that we are not wasting our time sorting out what the lab is actually asking for."
There it is ladies and gentlemen. The Ling 317 mass revolt. It's still in its early stages, but it shows much promise. I dedicate this song to the effort:
You say you want a revolution
Well you know
we all want to change the world
You tell me that it's evolution
Well you know
We all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction
Don't you know you can count me out (in)
Don't you know it's gonna be alright
You say you got a real solution
Well you know
we'd all love to see the plan
You ask me for a contribution
Well you know
We're doing what we can
But when you want money for people with minds that hate
All I can tell you is brother you have to wait
Don't you know it's gonna be alright
You say you'll change the constitution
Well you know
we all want to change your head
You tell me it's the institution
Well you know
You better free your mind instead
But if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao
You ain't going to make it with anyone anyhow
Don't you know know it's gonna be alright
Before I get anyone claiming that this song is irrelevant if not for the fact that its title is revolution, consider that it's a song that is pro-positive change and not negative.
posted by Joie! at
Thursday, February 03, 2005
Off My Chest
I try not to rant about professors because it is very often the case that the rant is only relevant to people who share that one same prof and/or understand the course material. However, I am 100% certain that absolutely everyone in the known universe will be able to empathize with what happened in class today. I do have a large essay due tomorrow, but until I've said my piece, there's no way anything is getting done.
No prizes for guessing that the prof who is inspiring this entry is Carden. Those of you who didn't
already guess that should read my blog more regularly. Carden co-teaches my acoustic phonetics course with Bateson
, the other reason I'm tap tap tapping at my keyboard with sharp little jabs. Since I've mainly been complaining about Carden on my blog, I'm going to introduce all of you to Bateson.
Eric Vatikiotis-Bateson is one of a kind. Or, at least, for the sake of the general public, I hope he is. He smells like old cigarette smoke and stale coffee. I know this because he generally sits next to the students in class while Carden teaches. He is also co-professoring my other class which is about the relationship between language in timing, which means that I have two opportunities to be sitting next to him. He sits in the same place every class though, so now I know to avoid it. Smell is a superficial quality though, and I would be shallow to dwell on it.
Since all the classes in which I have Bateson is team-taught, I get to see how he interacts with the person who is primarily responsible for presenting the material. He interjects with weird tangents at many points, gets halfway through his point, drops it and starts another one. Not that the people teaching seem to mind, in fact, they encourage him. So really, his behaviour might not be that bad. I mean it's all about knowing the people you are working with and what they will tolerate from you. It seems like most of his interjections are welcome and now that I'm used to him, I guess it's alright. When he is teaching the lesson himself, he never seems to have a plan. He gets there in the end though, which evens everything out. I'm just the kind of person that likes to know exactly where things are going and how exactly we are going to get there.
So Bateson could stand to stop smoking and cut back on coffee and his manner takes some getting used to. That's not so bad. What makes him absolutely impossible is his cellphone. That's right. His cellphone. It rings at least once every class. It's a sharp, jerky, characteristic ring. There's no way you can mistake it for someone else's cellphone. Just in case you might be thinking that it is someone else's cellphone, however, he answers it in class
. He answers it not with a whispered, embarassed "hello?" but with a declarative "Hello?
". This is bad enough when someone else is giving a lecture and he's sitting near the front. I guess it's alright that he interrupts other people's lectures though because it's not like he doesn't interrupt his own. Uh huh. Not kidding. He will answer his cellphone in the middle of his own lecture. We've checked. He's not having a baby. There are no outstanding emergencies in his life. He doesn't even have the courtesy to put his cellphone on silent. Goddamn. Bateson, he's a great guy, if not for his bloody, bright orange cellphone.
As you might have guessed, Bateson's cellphone rang again in class while Carden was giving a lecture. No matter. It's not like paying attention to Carden would have done any good.
There was an assignment due today. The unusual thing about this assignment is that not everyone was told how to go about doing it. The class is split into 5 labs, and each lab got its own set of information. In fact there was one section in the assignment which no one
was told how to do. Seriously. It's not like there was too much we could do about it. We could of course have gone to the TA's office hours, if it wasn't already swamped and so early in the week that most of us slackers hadn't begun to tackle the assignment yet. The TA (Ian Wilson, who was my professor last term) is amazing. He's even kind enough to post a summary of the issues raised during his office hours and address them for us on the class online discussion board. The problem though, is that really, no one is sure what Carden wants.
Oh Carden, Carden, Carden. I figured that as I got used to him he wouldn'd get to me as much. Boy was I wrong. Everything I have said about Carden in this post is nothing new. I must have bitched about it a thousand times before, and several times on this blog. I almost come to expect it of him. What he did today, however, is just mind-bogglingly infuriating. Mind-bogglingly.
So someone raised her hand to ask, finally, how to answer the one question on the assignment that no one was taught to perform. I don't even have to post the question, but if anyone is familiar with resonant frequencies in the vocal tract, please, please, please, please, please contact me so that you can help me. That's because this, word-for-word, was Carden's response to the question:
"Now imagine you're a sound wave. Where would you resonate?"
*&^%TRGJHT^&*UYHGHTGBJKIU&^%$EDFCVXSWQWSDCVBNJO)(*&^%$#@#$%&*()P:LMNBGHYU()_ IMAGINE I'M A FUCKING SOUND WAVE?! Imagine I'm a sound wave. Imagine. I'm. A. Sound. Wave.
Well. That makes things perfectly clear doesn't it?
And you wonder why I need a holiday.
posted by Joie! at