Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Dog Ate My Homework. No, really!

This is Little Bob. To say that he gets into mischief is like saying Dale Earnhardt liked to drive fast.

This newest additon to our pack is lovingly referred to as a chihuahua-terrorist because nothing is safe from his puppy jaws. He has chewed on books, shoes, backpack straps, clothing, rugs, furniture legs, and various yard items he "finds" and brings inside to work on.

He may look cute but he is in BIG BIG trouble.

Sleeping Bags

Despite a plethora of appropriate and comfortable sleeping locations throughout the house, Otis chooses to sleep on a pile of plastic bags.

Occasional movement reassures me that he is not going to get bedsores.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Two eMail Tails

Today I received two eMails from Walden University. (Well, really, it was three, if you want to count the 50th time they eMailed me about the Student Satisfaction Survey - which I won't fill out because I have been in class for exactly 6 weeks now. Hard to claim satisfaction or dissatisfaction.)

The first message said that there is a "credit balance" on my account. They don't "do" credit balances. It just isn't proper. I must contact them RIGHT AWAY. I will have to authorize it, signing in blood and sending a urine sample to verify competency to authorize such a thing. Credit balances are apparently very serious things at Walden University. Who knew?

The next eMail states that my newest tuition bill is ready to view and pay. You can almost hear the cyber-licking of chops in anticipation of a payment that rivals only my mortgage in size and pain. You can almost sense, over the cyber-waves, the glee and delight that accompanies these eMails every month. "Mo' money, mo' money, mo' money!"

So please tell me what is wrong with this scenario. I am going to guess that it is a case of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is up to these days.

If you hit "reply" it goes deep into cyberspace and nobody but God will ever know that you responded. And God couldn't care less about my tuition bill, no matter how large or how painful. Go figure.

If you eMail to ask somebody about it, you will get an "automated response" that is generated whenever these types of questions enter the university's eMail system. The automated response will depend entirely upon the time of day you send it and what color font you choose.

I am in a doctorate program, an endeavor notorious for NOT being cheap. There are people with Ph.Ds all over the world who swear to God they will be dead by the time the outstanding tuition is ever paid off. This is why they buy life insurance - so decendents won't be stuck with the cost of the last year and a half of law school - or whatever. The kicker is that because Sallie Mae - the government -- knows you owe money, adds to the stress level. I am sure there are doctorate people all over the place with elevated blood pressure and premature death rates because of this. But I digress.

How in HELL anybody can have a CREDIT balance when the outstanding bill is as much as the cost of my childhood home is beyond me. My parents paid $20K for a house in Burbank in 1964. They made a whopping $5K in profit when they sold it in 1970. My dad's 1967 royal blue Ford Mustang cost less than those capital gains. But I digress.

I have made 3 payments to date. The first one started before I was ever enrolled in a class - because of the time of month I signed up. The financial aid lady was so apologetic about that. Had I waited a week or so, I wouldn't have had to make that payment. The lesson was to NOT set up your payment plan before they are ready for you to do so. It is best to wait until they start sending out the "collector" after you. Being diligent and setting up early deserves retribution because, as the saying goes, No Good Deed EVER Goes Unpunished.

They don't tell you this in the initial courting phase of the program. This is because they want you to think it is nice and cheap and relatively painless. "Relatively" is the loaded adjective here. Parting with this money every month hurts almost as much as my cesearean sections. In case you are not familiar with that kind of surgery let me explain. A doctor cuts through your abdomen and uterus with a sharp object. Then he sticks half his body into your most private areas, yanks and tugs and pulls with the force of a wrestling match, and emerges victorious with an infant. Then he sews and staples you back up. The UP side is that you get opiates. With Walden tuitoin payments, you get more reading. And huge papers that are due often enough to make me think you are going to have to WORK for this. Go figure.

Walden University is very helpful with the "people to contact" department. There are concierges, academic advisors, instructors, janitors, and Sallie Mae people. The latter tend to be a bit nerve-wracking since they are technically part of the government - people who pay $812 for a toilet seat. But I digress.

Then there is Kathryn. She sends reassuring eMails that preach non-violence and the benefits of Zen and yoga. In a pinch, you have your Walden cohorts - always good for a laugh and healthy commiseration. Usually they just advise wine and a good night's sleep.

But just TRY to get a straight answer to an automatically-generated eMail that has a link with a URL the size of a juvenile gopher snake. I am thinking I might just wait this one out and see if what happens. It's a cyber tug-o-war!

A small explosion might be nice.