Friday, October 31, 2008

A nun, a witch and Peg Bundy...

I just walked by my boss's office where a meeting was taking place. I'm not kidding you...there sat a nun, a witch and Peg Bundy (from Married With Children, of course).

Ahhh, I love Halloween.

I thought I wasn't going to be able to dress up today, as a colleague scheduled a business meeting off-site with a potential corporate client. So, you know, I have to look all presentable and business-like. Completely shot my planned Halloween costume to hell.

So I grudgingly schlepped in today dressed professionally (read: boring) with my little red horned headband that I can remove before the meeting and gazed in awe at my awesome coworkers, whose creativity astounds me. One of our estheticians, Douglas, is Clay Aiken, complete with styled wig and a baby doll strapped to his chest in a harness. My general manager is the witch from Sleeping Beauty (green face, purple eyeshadow, and staff with a vulture). The front desk is a slumber party, which is about the most comfortable costume in the world. My boss is a nun. With fishnet stockings, red shoes and red earrings. Her nametag reads, "Sister Mary Bad Habit."

I was soundly abused for not bringing my camera in to work today. Okay, okay, I get it. I'll run home and pick it up (good thing I live close to work).

That's when inspiration struck. I not only picked up the D100, I also slung the ol' Nikon N80 and a vintage Canon TX over my photographer's vest and changed the plastic nametag holder to read "Liberal Elite Gotcha Media." Of course, I kept the red horns, too.

Happy Halloween...and boo!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Specifically, calculate the cost of my sanity

For the love of all that is holy, can someone please explain costing to me?

You know, single plant-wide cost driver rates based on direct labor hours, departmental cost driver rates based on machine hours for one department and labor hours for another, allocation of service department costs using the direct method, and costs per item using activity-based costing.

Because those are all needed to complete one of my homework problems this week.

And. I. Don't. Get. It.

At all.

The textbook sucks. Our instructor is AWOL. My homework is due Sunday and I've already spent hours and hours on this one problem and have gotten absolutely nowhere. I got nuthin'. Zilch. Big goose egg. Nada.

This, my friends, is what you call "up a creek without a paddle." Or a boat for that matter. Or swimming skills.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

If I'm teaching myself, what am I paying you for?

For those of you who check regularly, don't expect any Zozer pix at school today. She's at Grandma's again. We're hoping we can kick this cold before Halloween, so we thought we'd play it safe and keep her away from all the other little snotballs for another day. She's doing better - was able to breathe (somewhat) through her nose this morning, but now she sounds raspy and she's coughing a bit more.

We put hours into our Management Accounting homework last night and it's still not done. While the class should be relatively easy (especially compared to the hell we went through with Advanced Financial Management), the textbook is one of the worst I've ever seen and that's slowing us down quite a bit. I know that a Management Accounting textbook isn't going to be the best read anyway, but the authors have managed to make it excrutiatingly boring and confusing. The assignments at the end of each chapter aren't formatted for ease of understanding (the questions for each problem look like they're attached to the background of the next problem), and there are no answers in the back of the book so you can check your work. I like to know if I'm at least in the ballpark when I'm working on a problem that takes over two hours to complete, you know?

The prof posted the answers for the Week 1 homework yesterday. Just the answers. He threw the textbook's instructor file up on the discussion board as-is, which means the students get to wade through the 50 problems to find the four assigned for each chapter, then essentially grade our own work.

When I was in elementary school, I had an English teacher who gave spelling tests several times a week. She placed a little tape recorder on a stool at the head of class, and her voice would recite the words we were to spell. After we'd take the test, we'd hand our papers to the person behind us (the person at the end of the row bringing hers up to the first row student) and get our red pens. We were docked points if we didn't bring our red pens to each class. Then, the teacher would push "play" on the tape recorder again and out would come her voice, spelling each word correctly. We would have to grade our fellow students' papers, placing a red dot under each letter as the words were spelled. Then we'd tally up the score and mark it in the top right corner of the paper and turn them all in.

What a ripoff. I was doin' her job. I'm not sure what the heck she was doing during all this (filing her nails? Reading bodice-ripping material from Management Accounting?), as I was studiously taking my quiz and then grading someone else's. Of course, I was in 5th grade so I wasn't exactly in a position to raise holy hell.

But now, dammit, I'm in my 30s (which makes me "respectable") and am a working professional and am paying good money for this class. If something doesn't change soon, I'm going back into my grad-student-from-hell mode. Because for the cost of this class I could purchase a Nikon D300, which would surely bring me more joy and, at this point, knowledge. Hell, by the time you add in the text book, I could get me some bigger memory cards, too.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Milestone: Zozer has caught her first cold at school. She's basically a little snotball with watery eyes...but I think she's already on the mend. We elevated one end of her crib last night, and I held her in The Big Purple Rocking Chair until she fell asleep. Lots of fluids, the humidifier, and two attacks of the Big Green Monster (otherwise known as the aspirator). You'd think we were twisting her nose off by the way she yells when she sees that thing coming.

Today we decided to make it a Jammy Day, because who doesn't like to stay in their PJs when they're sick, and we could pull it off because she goes to Grandma's on Tuesdays. M took her over as he usually does, then departed for work.

He called later: "So I got to work this morning and I went to take off my coat, and there was a bulge and I was like, 'What the hell?' Then a wing poked out." He had forgotten to remove Hoot from his coat pocket after the transport across the yard.

And this, my friends, is precisely why we have back-up Hoots. 2 of 4 came out of rehab and went willingly into Zozer's arms, while 3 of 4 will be spending the day with Daddy at work. We've been talking about putting 3 of 4 on the DL for awhile now, as he's started to look a little ragged, so the timing is actually pretty good.

Anyway, between Zozer being sick and homework last night, I haven't gotten back to the computer to process any images from this weekend. I'm hoping to wrap up homework tonight and then I can spend the rest of the week playing in the darkroom. This class is so much better (read: easier) than last term...and I'm thankful for it! We desperately needed a break.

Sigh. I'm at work now, but I wish I were at home in my pajamas. Doesn't that sound good today?

Monday, October 27, 2008

These MBA classes are really helping!

A fine weekend was had by our little family, complete with barbecue two days in a row (to M's delight), pizza two days in a row (to my delight), being chased by scary mass murderers and zombies (some wielding chain saws, to Michelle's dismay), a train ride, a birthday party, and a visit to the pumpkin patch. Damn, come to think of it, we packed a lot of fun into one weekend!

I also had ample opportunity to impress upon M the utter importance of my owning a Nikon D300, and have laid out a timeline to make it easy: it's to be a Schiller's Christmas as my dad calls it, which means I can put gift cards towards it and still have the new body with plenty of time to adjust before our trip to Yosemite in late May. See how handy that works out? M, unfortunately, does not see the handiness in my planning. I don't know what else the man wants...I'm making it incredibly easy for him to make me incredibly happy. He doesn't even need to wrap it. Or buy it. Or think about it/know it's happening. I'll do it all.

M tried to play the expense card, but once I sat him down (well, not so much sat him down but rather cornered him in the darkroom as he was trying to figure out iTunes on my mac - for the Christmas display, mind you) and started adding up his annual addition to the light display with purchases scattered over several months, he didn't really have much left to stand on. (And I think it's working, too, as I didn't even have to employ "Aim Math," as he likes to call it.) My reasoning is that it's not my fault I choose to spend my annual hobby allotment at one time while he portions his out over the year (and, I think, probably gets more in the process that way).

Besides, he adds to the display every year, and I haven't gotten a new body in over six.

Then I decided to employ some Aim Math to the situation anyway, because, you know, more information can't hurt, right?

So I calculated up how much I'm saving by not frequenting Starbucks. Hmmmm, let's see. One decaf grande nonfat nowhip extrahot mocha at $3.69, versus an $1,800 D300. Okay, so, roughly 488 mochas and I'm there. I went high on the D300 as I want to purchase it from my local camera store (better service, help if there's an issue, etc.) rather than Amazon. Love Amazon, but not sure I want to talk to Joe (the plumber? six-pack?) in the shipping warehouse if I've got a hot pixel.

I've been off the juice for over a week now, and if you calculate one mocha per day (this is Aim Math, you see, so I can do whatever I want), I'm already at a credit of approximately $36.90. Only $1,763.10 more to go.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Define decrepit...

After homework last night I perused, which is one of my most favorite things to do if I can't actually be out making images, or don't currently have anything I feel like futzing with in Photoshop.

So I log in and on the list of posts with the most responses I see this, "Should I upgrade to a D100..."

That's my camera, which I state unequivocally has served me faithfully for, what, seven (?) years now. But, because it's that old (in the digital sense), it doesn't exactly show up frequently on the forums and such anymore. So when it pops up, I like to see what people are saying.

Especially when someone posts "Should I upgrade to a digital camera that hasn't been manufactured in years." That just doesn't make sense. And I always like to be a gear snob (with all the other gear snobs on and snicker at people who post having done no research.

So the woman who posted currently owns a D80, which is a great camera, and much, much newer than the D100 (and is, in fact, still being manufactured and sold)(unlike the D100). Nikon didn't go in numerical order with it's labelling, which is confusing to newbies. So the woman posts that she bought the D80 and it's nice, but she's wondering if she didn't miss out on something by not going to the D100. Then, to let us know how she uses her camera so we can help her make a decision, she posts, "Cost to upgrade again is not an issue. I use my camera primarily to take pictures of my children, and at our second home on Lake Tahoe."

Which is when I wanted to vomit.

Good grief.

I got to laugh as the posts started rolling in, because is full of smartasses like me and it's just fun to watch 'em jump on someone like that. I mean, really, was it necessary to post "my second home on Lake Tahoe?" I think not. I'm pretty sure saying, "budget issues aside, what would you recommend" would have been perfectly fine.

So the Tahoe comment on top of the idiotic question about "upgrading" from a brand new camera to one that's no longer produced and is out-of-date left her wide open.

Anyway, I read the comments so I could laugh along with my fellow p.netters. Only, by the end I wasn't laughing. I mean, yeah, I know that my beloved D100 is old (relatively speaking), but I've made some great images from it and have been quite pleased with its performance. But to hear people talk about the upgrades Nikon has introduced in their bodies since the D100 was released, well, I admit I was drooling a bit by the end.

Then, someone actually tagged "decrepit" in front of the D100 name. "A decrepit D100..." Yikes. Now that's downright depressing.

I've been hearing the D300 call for awhile now and have done a pretty good job of ignoring it. Last night I thought that perhaps I could cure my decrepit D100 blues by checking out the D300 on the 'net. Plus, I was curious now. What could the D300 possibly offer that would warrant giving up the camera body I know and love for a brand new learning curve? Uh, yeah. That's so not a good idea. Gear junkies should not go out looking for confirmation that their current camera is anything but awesome. Because they'll find it. Quickly. And then the lust for the new camera body begins.

M laughed at me as I started making gutteral noises with every new discovery. 12.3 megapixels (versus my current 6.1). 100 frame buffer (versus my current 3). Full-frame viewfinder (versus my current 90-something%). That sort of thing. The kind of thing that causes gear junkies to make Tim Allen grunting noises, and look with disdain at their cameras that just moments before were fine (if not cherished and beloved).

At the same time, I feel a little guilty. I mean, my D100 has been an awesome camera. It's gone darn near everywhere with me and has never failed. It's comfortable and I've got it all adjusted and tweaked just to my specs (it tends to shoot bright, so I set the exposure compensation for -.3 to back it off a bit), and here I am, oogling a a sexy new body just because it boasts a world of improvements. I'm being a bit unfaithful to my steady companion, and it hurts.

But not enough to stop me for asking for a D300 for Christmas. I added it to my Amazon wish list this morning. Because, really, just in case someone decides to drop over $1,500 on me I'd like to make it as easy as possible for them. (Or, rather, him.) (M.) (Hint hint.)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The glass is half-FULL, dammit

In a day filled with utter crapiness (or is it crappiness? I'm not quite sure the correct spelling of crapiness, but one p looks better than two, so we're going with that one)(also, does anyone really know if turd is the correct spelling of turd, or could it be terd? I haven't had the guts to see if it's in Webster's, and I really don't care all that's just more of an idle curiosity...and a firm belief that it could go either way), there were a few bright spots:
  1. We both officially earned A's in Advanced Financial Management. I thought this was a real achievement until I learned that one of the boneheads in my group was given an A-. WTF. I'm pretty confident that my work on the "group" project saved his ass, but whatever. He's not in Management Accounting with us, so I'm pleased.
  2. I got e-mails from some awesome friends who made me laugh (many, many, many thanks to Ping and Ted O. - you guys have absolutely no idea how sorely a laugh was needed this afternoon) and a story from Stef that completely cracked me up (say hi to Keith for me, Pookers!).
  3. My wonderful daughter gave me hugs and smoochies, which makes everything else melt away. And she ate dinner wearing one of her chef hats, which just kills me.
  4. M made me one of my all-time favorite meals (BLTs and tomato bisque) for dinner. He's such a good hubster.

So, all in all, I end this day eternally grateful for the good things in life, the bright spots, the silver linings and the hills that balance out the valleys. And most of all, for the ability to laugh, no matter how many turds (terds?) hit the fan.

Prayers humbly requested, please, for my Auntie B, and, for that matter, for the whole famn damily, too.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine

I laughed so hard at this last night that my gut hurt. Then I did it again this morning. Twice.

Click darn near everywhere, and then click everywhere again (a lot of things change from one click to the next).

It's updated daily until November 4. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

No-warning portraits

Right before leaving for work today, I ran back inside and grabbed my camera bag. Today was the last decent weather day for awhile (til the end of the week, at least), and you never know when a shot might appear.

I was sitting at my desk at work when my aunt appeared with a cousin visiting from California. "If you have a minute, I'd like you to take our picture." I'm not sure what she was expecting me to use, maybe the spa's clunky point 'n shoot that has perpetually dead batteries and that I absolutely abhor (I inherited it, as it was purchased well before my arrival), or maybe the old Polaroid that we snap employees with at staff meetings in recognition of their years of service (that, again, I'm not super impressed with). Peg isn't the kind of person that really thinks about details like that, so she was nonplussed when I hauled out the enormous D100 with the womping 17-55 f/2.8 that I just happened to bring with me. I think most people ought to bow just for the awesome lens, but no one ever does.

Anyway, I asked her where she'd like the portrait made and she waved her hand around our office. "Oh, I don't know. Anywhere." Again, not one for minor details like making a decent portrait of an 11-year-old in a cluttered office environment. I glanced out the window, "We're going outside."

I hit the door two steps ahead of them and simultaneously scanned for possible backgrounds, open shade and where the sun was angled. Peg, not being a stickler for things like this, has no patience for those who are, and I knew I had limited time to get a decent image before she started getting antsy. "There," I pointed to a grassy area with an ivy-covered hardscape wall in relatively open shade. They gamely picked through the wet grass (damn sprinkler system) and I parked them in front of the wall.

Four clicks later and we were done. Two of Max (full body and head shot) and two of Peg and Max (same arrangements). I chimped as we walked back inside and could tell even on my weensy screen that I had some goodies. I didn't realize quite how good until I processed and printed tonight.

They're all decent, but I'm particularly proud of the headshot of Max. Beautiful, soft Rembrandt lighting (which means half the face is slightly brighter than the other half, leaving full detail in the "shadowed" side, which gives a more realistic feel and some dimension), detailed highlights in his hair, and small catchlights in his eyes, and a background out of focus just enough to make Max really pop.

Now, I'm most definitely not a portrait artist. I actually prefer most of my images to not have people in them. People are messy and hard to shoot and never, ever happy with how they look. I worked for a wedding photographer for a year and swore off portraits forever. I do them at this point only for family, and really only family I like, and with advanced notice. But, you know, when my aunt walks in and she also happens to sign my paycheck, and I'm on the clock, and she says, "Grab yer camera," well, I grab my camera. And hope for the best.

Today, I got lucky and the best happened. On top of it all, I got to play with my camera on work time. How cool is that?

(No, I'm not posting Max's photograph here. I'm not sure his parents even know of the blog, and as a parent myself I'd be a little freaked about an image of my kid floating around on the internet without my knowledge. If you really, desperately, truly need to see my awesome portrait of Max, e-mail me. If not, just trust me. It's good.)


This old Sinclair station near my house
has been vacant for a long time.

It's being torn down now.
Should be gone in the next couple days.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Wheeled Gate

Back to basics

I went back to basics this weekend, and am so thrilled with myself that I could just spit.

I confess, I've been mailing it in for awhile now. Digital makes it so easy to put the camera on "P" and fire away. (P means program, by the way. A means Aperture-Priority, not Automatic, as most people think. Nope, that would be too easy. P is automatic, or the camera's way of saying, "P = Push the button, dummy, and I'll handle the rest.) Metering systems have advanced to the point where the camera can handle 95% of the readings and you'll generally get a decent image. This is fine, except that quite often I'm not shooting typical stuff and therefore have been spending quite a bit of time in Photoshop fixing things in post-processing. And since I'm not all that fantastically skilled at Photoshop (I can hold my own, mind you, but I'm not the resident genius on it), there are some things I just can't fix.

So I've gotten lazy and therefore have been producing sub-par work. Which is disappointing and which, of course, I've blamed on the equipment. Because it's easier that way.

And when the equipment fails, what else is there but to buy more equipment? I decided that I needed to go back to film, and that it would be great to try medium format (MF). This is not just ordinary film...this film is HUGE in comparison to 35mm, and allows beautiful enlargements. Plus, film has more latitude than digital, which means I can screw up a little more and still pull a decent print off it.

I began researching. It didn't take me long to determine I needed a Hasselblad, which can set you back a pretty penny. At first I thought, "I'll just get an old beater to mess around with, so I should be able to get this for $400-$500." Um, no. Sure, you can pick up an old beater body for that, but then you need to add on the lens and the film back. Before I knew it, I was looking at over a grand for a camera in fair to decent shape, that I had no clue how to use.

Then I realized that if I wanted to maintain my digital workflow (which I do, because I barely have time to work digitally these days, much less dealing with mixing chemicals and all the crap that goes along with it - nevermind the incredibly inquisitive 3-year-old in my house who does not need to know what developer tastes like), I'd have to invest in a negative scanner. Which, you know, needs to be a good one if you want to really make use of that dynamic range inherent to negatives. Tack on another couple grand.

All this, and I haven't even shot a single frame yet. Those on-going consumable costs (film and processing) haven't even been factored in.

After a week or so of researching and learning, I had that paper-chewing evening where I got all my filing and budget work caught up. That pretty much put an end right there to any sort of format change. Disappointed, I began to map out when we might be able to afford a foray into MF.

Then, it hit me. "Take the damn D100 off P, you stoopid %&$#." Oh. Duh. I love simple solutions.

So, this weekend, on my two (yes, two! love it!) image-making excursions, I went off P and on M, which is manual. (Not "on M" as in the hubster M, which I'm sure he'd have preferred, but whatever.) I used the spot meter in the camera, and made myself decide which f-stop and shutter speed to use. It took a bit for my brain to engage in thinking like that again. It was like the old rusty gear cogs started creaking and turning, and the spider webs stretched until they finally broke. Eventually I was back in the mode, metering off things here and there and determining what exposure, exactly, I needed to capture both the gorgeous azure sky and the front of the building that was in shade.

I honestly can't tell you if I was more excited about the images I was making or the fact that I was thinking like a photographer again. Both, probably.

Most of my images from this weekend are for the project I started awhile back, which has been sidelined due to work and school and everything else. So I can't share them with you just yet. It's one of those things that I think will be strongest in it's entirety, not bits and pieces throw out every so often...the whole sum being greater than the parts thing. But I did make a couple random images that might be okay to toss out here...I'll see if I can get some (digital) darkroom time in this weekend. My photographic priority this weekend was to capture images and stock up for the long winter months, giving me something to do when it's cold and nasty outside and I don't want to bundle up and go shoot. I have started a decent pile that will be fun to work on later.

Anyway, I went back to basics this weekend and it felt absolutely wonderful. I'm taking this approach to other aspects of life, too, and so far it's working quite well:
  • Last night I hauled up the old Mr. Coffee that can be programmed to automatically brew up a pot at whatever time you feel like you'll want it. Cleaned it all up and got it ready, then M and I chose our travel mugs and determined how much we'd need. Everything was set, and this morning I left with my old Mizzou Java Joe mug full of caramel-apple flavored Folgers decaf (thank you, CoffeeMate) and didn't even glance at the Starbucks as I went rolling by.
  • My hair dryer blew up recently, and by blew up, I mean quite literally. The thing has been a beater for far too long, since the on/off switch broke off, and the heat selector switch, too (forcing me to use tweezers stuck inside the machine to make adjustments...not real safe). M is a firm believer in using things until they are quite literally unusable anymore, which is generally a good policy but not when one is drying one's hair when one's dryer starts sparking and having flames shoot out of the cord. He snipped the cord before tossing it in the trash and off we went to Target. I looked at all the ion-charged dryers and ceramic-something-or-other dryers and this and that. I got a $14 travel dryer that I absolutely adore. Tons of air, the right amount of heat, and tiny to boot. It helps to have short hair, but, whatever.
  • Can I tell you how thankful I am that we fixed the Zoemobile instead of taking on a car payment? Because the fix is paid off and I get to toodle around in my beloved (reliable) car without worrying about door dings and scratches and whatever. Which is great when I'm driving about looking for photographic material and don't want to be real concerned about where I park. The car is simply a mode of (albeit comfortable) transportation at this point, and has lost any sort of status appeal. I guess I just have different priorities now. I asked M last weekend if he thought the roof could support my weight, plus that of a tripod and camera. He said no. Damn. So the car has one flaw.
  • Most of you know about our habit of drinking a lot of milk. We might as well tether a damn cow in the back yard, we drink so much milk. In an effort to hold off the soda demons that have resurfaced since I ended my year-long moratorium on soda, I brought a little container of milk to work with me last week to eat with my lunch. It. Was. Perfect. I heart milk. Something yummy to drink with my lunch that's not full of caffeine, carbonation and sugar.
  • We went to Shop 'n Save and stocked up on food, which means I have a variety of things from which to choose for my lunch. Having a variety of good food translates to I don't find excuses to go out to lunch every day. What's not to love about a hard salami and colby-jack samich, with romaine and tomatoes? Today it's left-over chili mac, fresh pear and a hard-boiled organic brown egg. And milk (or "meelk" as Zozer has been saying it)! Yum!

Huh. All this back-to-basics stuff means we have more $, which means that I could get a Hasselblad. And here I don't even want one any more.

By the way, since I translated camera dial settings for all of you up there at the top of this rather long-winded post (sorry 'bout was a great weekend), I'll finish with this one: in the photographic term "f-stop," f = fun.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Farewell, Financial Management

M and I, torturing ourselves for one last night, reviewed our finance final, made some last-minute tweaks and adjustments, and turned the bastard in. It was the last piece of the Advanced Financial Management puzzle.

I thought I would feel overwhelming joy and ecstacy. I just feel tired, mostly. And antsy. I need an 80% on the final just to carry my A. M is in a bit better position, requiring only a 68% for his A.

I just looked at the textbook and realized that I never, ever have to open it again. Okay, so that makes me feel a little better. I do wish, however, that we had more than just two days' worth of a break before starting Management Accounting. Which, by the way, went live on our on-line classroom today. I downloaded the syllabus for us. We've already been assigned Chapters 1 and 2 to read, as a "pre-class assignment." WTF is that?

I'll probably feel a bit more positive with the morning light. Today began way too early with a staff meeting at our furthest off-site location, requiring waking at an ungodly hour to get myself ready and Zozer dropped off at school (which, naturally, is the opposite direction of where I have to go for the meeting) and out to the location in time to set up for my presentation.

Meeting days are always rough, because I have to really be on my game right at the beginning since I present at every meeting (we have three meetings each month, one for each location). There's no getting a cup of coffee while the computer boots up, and then sipping slowly while perusing e-mails and getting the day lined out. It's like BAM: showtime! So, yeah, meeting days kinda blow. (At least my knees don't knock and I don't feel like my face is about a thousand degrees any more when I present. You do it enough, you get used to it.)

Tag a finance final on the end of that day and there's some major suckitude going on.

Ah, it's over now, though, and M and I are nearly ready to turn in for the night. So, farewell Advanced Financial Management. You surely will not be missed.

Well, okay.

I logged into my on-line classroom just to take a look around, see what's new, that sort of thing. Sure enough, something new was posted. The grade for the final report on the "group" project.

I immediately started sweating. I always sweat when I'm getting grades, even when I'm sure I aced something. Don't know why. (Drinking heavily at Rolla, by the way, got rid of that annoying trait, except for that mid-term GPA of .8, which was a little sobering. But I digress.)

Nervously, I clicked into the grade reporting section and scrolled down. 25/25.

Wahoooooo! Shazam!

I mean, the statement, "All group members received the same grade" was a tad infuriating, but, whatever. I got my A, and that makes me happy.

The good professor also posted that our rubric was available for download in our group's discussion section, so I eagerly went there to read our feedback.

"Your report met the requirements."

WTF? I put all that time and effort into it (blood, sweat, tears, the sacrificing of my green highlighter when I flung it across the room in frustration) and all I get was "you met the requirements?"

I don't know what I expected, really. Maybe, "Wow, Amy, you're such a good Advanced Financial Management doobie. Great job!" or even a "Good work" or maybe "You seem to have a firm grasp of the concepts taught in this course." Dude, throw me a bone or something. But "your report met the requirements?"

Given that two of the requirements were proper spelling and grammar, I'm not impressed with myself for merely meeting them. In fact, usually I pride myself in surpassing the requirements so much that they ought to create a new grade category just to account for my academic awesomeness. A++ or something. "Meeting the requirements" screams C, or average, to me. I guess I expected more out of grad school.

Oh, who the hell am I kidding? I'm turning in the final tonight and then Advanced Financial Management can go blow it out its ear.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Thank you, sir. May I have another?

Our professor just posted this on the message boards:

I may be teaching a one week finance class in London next summer. A brief is attached. If you have any interest, send me your email so I can keep you informed.

Waaaaaaaaaaaaa haaaaaaaaaaaaa haaaaaaaaaa!

Um. No.

Ding! You are now free to be miserable!

Just called M, as he sits on his Southworst airplane waiting to take off for his day trip to Chicago.

"Effing S____ posted another discussion question!"*
"Oh my gawd. Are you kidding?"
"@#$%. What is it?"
I read it out loud.
"&*%$. &*^$%! What the &*$#?!"

That old saying is true. Misery does indeed love company.

For some reason I feel so much better just from talking to M, and listening to him have the same reaction I did when I saw the post. I so love that we're doing this together, because I can't in a million years imagine being in this by myself. Or with anyone else, for that matter.

*Professor's name redacted to protect the bastard. And, you know, my grade.

The good professor's last hurrah

Our Advanced Financial Management final went live this morning. Six problems, each with at least four parts. Here's one:

Tundra Corporation is interested in acquiring Tantrell Corporation. Tantrell has 2 million shares outstanding and a target capital structure consisting of 40 percent debt. Tantrell's debt interest rate is 8 percent. Assume that the risk-free rate of interest is 3 percent and the market risk premium is 7 percent. Tantrell's free cash flow (FCF0) is $3 million per year and is expected to grow at a constant rate of 6 percent a year; its beta is 1.2. Tantrell has $5 million in debt. The tax rate for both companies is 30 percent. Calculate the required rate of return on equity using equation: rs= KRF + RPM(b).

There are four more parts to this problem.

On top of the final going live at 12 a.m. this morning, our butthead instructor posted yet another discussion question on the boards at the same time. Because, you know, assigning a final that will take every spare moment between now and Sunday night when it's due just isn't enough. Discussion is 15% of our grade, so you bet your bippy we have to respond. Here's the discussion question:

Use the page of recent foreign exchange rates from in the lecture to determine how many, if any of the currencies are selling at a premium to the dollar, based on 1 year forward prices. Be sure to take note of the significance of how the currencies are expressed in the market - direct or indirect terms.


I have developed an intense dislike for the professor, simply due to the sheer volume of work the man feels he must assign. I call it, "Death by Advanced Financial Management."

I want this class to be over.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Take On Me. Literally.

OMG, I laughed at this so hard I almost peed my pants.

Probably only anyone who loves 80s music (and videos) will appreciate it, but who knows.

Catching up

I'm in super-high-efficiency mode today. Which means I'm getting a lot done and bugging everyone around me with my perky attitude and machine-gun-style rambling. And I haven't even had caffeine!

Last weekend, having some time that wasn't devoted strictly to school, M and I got a bunch of the little nagging stuff done that's been piling up over the past few weeks. No one thing was huge, but when you add up all the little stuff it becomes a mountain. It feels so good to be out from under it.

Things like remembering to pull the Shop 'n Save coupons out of the 08 coupon books and use them to purchase discounted gift certificates before they expire November 1. Then, you know, actually using one and getting some good food instead of the same five things from Sam's every weekend. Busting through all the paperwork that had piled up. M refilled the sump pump back-up batter with distilled water (also purchased at Shop 'n Save). Getting laundry all caught up (that was last night's project). Cleaning up Zozer's room. I cut a mat for someone who asked for it about a bajillion years ago, and backed up my image files. M has been working on the Christmas display.

At home, now, I just feel like I can breathe again. Everything is put away, and I know where it all is. There aren't piles of anything laying around. There's nothing left that makes me jerk awake at 3 a.m. and think, "Damn! I need to remember to get that done!"

So I carried that feeling in to work and have been doing the same thing here. Just busting through the to-do list whether I feel like doing it or not. My desk is currently a sty, but it's all good stuff that will disappear shortly and leave me all caught up.

I fully expect this wonderful all-caught-up feeling at home and at work to last roughly 1/2 day. But it's all good right now!

Monday, October 13, 2008

All smiles

I'm going through my archives, which isn't exactly the right word for it, as I'm also going through files that are only weeks or even days old, but anyway, I'm going through looking for stuff to play around with. Since, you know, I actually have an evening "off."

Found this one from two weekends ago, when we took Zozer to the park so Daddy could teach her how to fly a kite. They flew it alright...let out all gajillion feet of string so the kite was just a speck in the sky. I snapped away while they flew, and made some nice images. I especially like the one above. Maybe because I absolutely love the subject.

Anyway, it looks like I'll be randomly posting images from my archive here for awhile...whatever strikes my fancy at any given time. I'm a bit peeved with myself for not making more images over the summer to get me through the long winter months, but then again, I also didn't plan on the class we took being as hard as it was. Our final goes live tomorrow and we have until Sunday night to finish it. Management Accounting is up next. People have been saying, "Oh, will you get a break? When does your next class start?" Monday. {insert wretching sound here}


My friend at work likes to make jewelry. Beads are to her what lenses are to me. We have many discussions over lunch about our respective passions, and how important it is to have something that serves so many purposes in your life (joy, time-killer, independence producer, escape, etc.). She shares her passion with me by bestowing jewelry upon me way too often. I'm trying to share mine with her by creating photographs of her work for her. She gets bored after one iteration, so all of her pieces are original, one-of-a-kinds. I once asked her if she had photographs of them, so she could at least remember what she's done. Nope. She just makes 'em and moves on, but isn't that a great idea?

Since I'm learning more and more about studio work, I offered to try my hand at making images of her work. Turns out photographing jewelry is a lot harder than I thought. My lighting sucks on these and I don't do them justice, but I'm learning.

I think my next Schiller's purchase will be a product box: essentially a little tent into which you place items you wish to photograph, and the tent serves to diffuse the light so you get a lovely, soft glow. No harsh highlights or flare or whathaveyou.

I have cropped these to a square format because my colleage makes her jewelry with another woman by the same name, so they call their designs J-Squared. Their business cards are square, and the boxes their pieces come in are square. I'm a kook for consistency, so I cropped the images to square, too.

I'm totally digging this "documentary photography" thing. What a great way to remember things and create a visual record.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Reduced Speed Ahead

Great day today. Little bit of photography, little bit of matting, little bit of Photoshopping, little bit of schoolwork (very fact, all I did was turn in my peer evaluation for my "group" project...after two glasses of wine - hee!), little bit of housework, little bit of errand running, and a whole lot of Zoe Time.

Not that I want to speak for M, but I think he had a great day, too. In fact, I can hear Christmas music wafting in from the other room as I type, which means he's working on the display (first chance he's had in months), and I know that makes him happy. (Since I am not ready for Christmas music just yet, I have settled on some vintage Genesis via iTunes to drown out O Christmas Tree.)

Below are the images I "found" yesterday while we were on our way to Sam's for our second $100 walk in a week. What is a $100 walk, you ask? Well, I'll explain. As you know, we recently purchased a big flat-panel television and Blue-Ray DVD player (M used my wrist surgery recovery as an excuse, but, whatever), and we purchased them from Sam's. That was over 30 days ago, and wouldn't you know it, they dropped the price on both the TV and the DVD player by a hundred bucks each.

Sam's, in their infinite wisdom, will do a price adjustment only within 30 days of purchase, but will take a return within 90 days. Since we were out of the 30-day limit but still within the 90-day limit, we had to re-purchase the merchandise, walk out of the store (getting the Official Highlighter Swipe on our receipts) and walk back into the store (getting the Official Return Sticker on the merchandise we just purchased), to the customer service counter, where we promptly returned just-purchased merchandise with our over-30-day-old receipt. Pain in the ass? Youbetcha. Worth it to save two hundred bucks? Absolutely.

We had to do this two separate times because they were out of our TV at our Sam's, so (thanks to Dad Z) we found them at another Sam's and went there. The DVD player had been taken care of at our Sam's last weekend, in the same manner.

Anyway, on the way to the other Sam's yesterday, I was doing my usual gawking out the passenger window, looking for interesting things to photograph. I caught a glimpse of photographs below as we whizzed down Manchester and returned today (also with husband and child in tow), to which M asked, "How did you see this yesterday?" Just lucky, I guess.

It's been nice to have a couple days at a slower pace than usual. Well, I should rephrase that. We packed as much as we could into every minute, but it was packed with exactly what we wanted to do, not what was mandated by a syllabus. Reduced speed, indeed.

Saturday Mornings

While this wasn't taken yesterday morning, it was taken on a recent Saturday morning and is pretty typical of our Saturday mornings.

Zozer and I, on Saturday mornings, stay in our jammies and hang out in the darkroom after breakfast. I futz around with photography stuff and she dances, colors with crayons, watches The Zoe Show (my screensaver) or practices typing her name in Word.

She's been busily creating her own space in Mommy's darkroom, and now has her art table, several coloring books, two packs of crayons and a set of colored pencils, and a blanket, which lately she's taken to spreading out and calling "the sandbox." (I don't ask. I consider it personal creative expression.)

She has a standard routine in the darkroom: requesting music (today was the Beatles first, followed by the Chili Peppers...can you see where she gets her taste in music?), pulling my Family of Man book off the shelf and casually flipping through it, spreading out "the sandbox" and pulling a new piece of paper out of the printer to create some new art.

On this particular Saturday, she did all this while wearing her jammies and one of Mommy's necklaces she apparently took a liking to, unbeknownst to me until she arrived in the darkroom wearing it. We took some time out from creating art, as we typically do, and slowdanced to Let It Be, as we typically do, and then laid on the sandbox and talked, as we typically do. She looked so adorable with her necklace and her wild curls going everywhere...

I love Saturday mornings.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Zozo's Treasures

The glow of the laptop screen...

Life is good.

We finished next week's homework today (yes, we're nerds), and my group turned in our group project (that isn't officially due until tomorrow night). All that's left for this class is the final, which doesn't even go live until Tuesday.

So, for all intents and purposes, finance is on break between now and Tuesday night!

We didn't do anything extraordinary today...played with Doodle, ran some errands, and got Amighetti's carryout to have a little picnic in the park. We are definitely taking advantage of this awesome weather: last night we made PB&J samiches and had a little picnic next to the train station in Kirkwood, then perused the farmer's market (where Zozer got a mini-pumpkin for herself and two bunches of Indian corn for her class Monday - how come her projects are way more fun than ours?). I shot a little bit in the studio today (a necklace for a colleague whose passion is beading) while M was on a conference call with his class group, and then grabbed an adorable image of Zozer with one of her great-grandmas this evening. I did see someplace I'd like to shoot while we were out running errands earlier, so I may go back while Zozer is down for her nap tomorrow.

Right now, though, we're sitting on the patio next to a lovely fire M has built in our fire pit, just relaxing. He's watching the Mizzou game on his laptop (since we don't have cable we don't have ESPN2) and I'm surfing on mine. Actually, right now Mizzou is at half time, so he's actually on the phone helping one of our classmates with her homework (from this week...I think we're probably the only ones who already have next week's done). He's a good doobie, helping our classmates. I got to the point where I was spending more time helping others than working on my own stuff, so a couple weeks ago I set my status to "visible/unavailable" as the default. I just took it back to "available" today. I'm feeling magnanimous again, I guess.

Not much else to report. Just feelin' good because finance is almost over and I got to play with a camera today. Think I'm gonna close the laptop, though, and just sit here and veg and enjoy the fire. Go Mizzou!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Paper Tiger

Last night, being slightly ahead in class and apparently ready for some self-flagellation, I dove into our personal finances, which have been piling up for a couple months. We always pay our bills on time, that's not what I'm saying. Everything even got paid right after my wrist surgery, although it looked like a drunk wrote out the checks. It's just that all the paid bills piled up instead of being filed all nice and neat-like in my Anal-Retentive Bill Binder (ARBB). (I should patent the's that effective. You know, when you actually use it.) In an attempt to stave off the chaos about a month ago I created a folder for Things That Just Need To Be Filed. A plain blue folder into which everything that needed filing was crammed, so at least it wasn't sitting on the buffet in the dining room. I could do that one-armed, so it worked for a bit. Until the Things That Just Need To Be Filed folder started rivaling the ARBB in sheer bulk. Sigh. Time to do something about it.

I discovered that there is simply way too much paper in our house. And it's only growing. I sorted things into stacks: grad school, Zoe's school, bills, receipts, etc. The Investment Statements pile was heckling me until I finally looked over a few, then wanted to throw up after seeing how much we lost in one month. Which is why I had avoided looking at them up til now. Stupid Wall Street. I coulda bought a new Hasselblad, the entire Zeiss lens line, and film and processing for years with what I just lost in a month. Bastards.

Anyway, I got everything sorted and hole-punched and filed and put away, although I still don't know what to do with the bajillion different calendars from Zoe's school (Elephant Room calendar, meal calendar, Parents as Teachers calendar, school-wide event calendar...come on, people. Coordinate a little bit and make one giant calendar...hell, I'd pay for that). A pile of paper went to the shredder and another pile went out to the recycle bin. By 11:30 I was so sick of dealing with paper that I called it a night, pleased as punch that my paperwork was once again happily ensconsed in organizational heaven.

I am also pleased to report that I made it through the entire battle with nary a paper cut. I am a warrier, a juggernaut, a high priestess of paper pushing. Paper clips and staples are my ammunition, and the shredder is my armored tank.

Okay, so maybe I've been spending a bit too much time on homework. It's almost week and two days left!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Correction: Fletcher...isn't

Okay, so I have to correct myself. Or rather, my daughter. In talking to her teacher after school today, I learned that Zoe likes to call Drew "Fletcher." So, the little boy in the photograph below isn't Fletcher, as I've been told. By Zoe. It's Drew. And he didn't break his knee falling off his grandma's couch, as I've been told. By Zoe. Are you sensing a pattern here?

Drew has a brittle bone disease, and usually a simple fall is all it takes to break something. He's recovering well from his last break, though, and is now able to get around with a small walker, which is how he got himself over to the little playhouse where he was sitting with Zoe.

Anyway, there is a Fletcher in Zoe's class. That just isn't him below.

She's still new at this whole multiple-friend thing. Up 'til now all she's really had to keep straight was Hoot. Which was difficult only the night she discovered one of the back-up Hoots.

Oh well. She'll get there.

New members of the Z Family!

Nothing makes me smile more than a new baybay.* The only thing that could be better is two new baybays!
Welcome to the world, little Mark and Joseph! M's cousin and his wife are now the proud parents of these darling guys, who arrived healthy and happy Monday morning. Now, with Paul being M's cousin and all, I'm not sure how Zoe and Mark and Joseph are related exactly...second cousins, first cousins once removed...whatever. I say, they're just cousins, plain and simple. And we can't wait to meet 'em!
I feel like it was yesterday that our little Zozer was that small. Now look at her:

I like this photograph for several reasons. 1.) She's happy and having fun. 2.) She's interacting more and more with her new "friends," and talks about them after school. This is Fletcher. 3.) The bright colors make me smile. 4.) This picture will absolutely drive her father crazy because she's with a boy, in what appears to be a little room. I can't wait to hear what he has to say about this!

*Okay, so other things that make me smile include my own baybay, no matter how big she gets, M, and the prospect of getting another piece of photo gear. Which I'm currently researching. I might get to see Mark and Joseph in November, and if I do, I'll be teaching them to say "Hasselblad."

Monday, October 06, 2008

Go West, middle-age overworked married couple

Well, I've purchased tickets and reserved cabins, so I suppose it's actually going to happen.

Yes, boys and girls, after 11 years, M and I are finally taking a vacation. A real, actual vacation. Where we go exactly where we want to go, when we want to go (well, between classes, but still, we picked the specific dates, dammit), how we want to go.

The last vacation we went on was our honeymoon cruise. Since then, we've gotten to travel to some pretty cool places for M's work, and we've tacked a few days on here and there to extend the trip and make it work/pleasure. Those trips were great in that we got to go places we otherwise wouldn't, mostly on someone else's nickel. I earned my keep as companion/wife, doing my share of networking with other wives and introducing our husbands where we thought things might click. It actually worked once, and resulted in M taking a hellacious trip to Prince George, Canada.

We made the most of those trips, M and I. I am so not one of those wives that hang out in the room or around the resort waiting for my husband to get done with business before the real fun begins. Nope, instead I headed out each morning with my camera and had myself a blast. Being alone is really the best way to make images, as you don't have to worry about amusing anyone but yourself. At the end of the day, we'd reconnect and have a great meal and drinks/socializing with M's colleagues. I definitely got the better end of the bargain, as I was allowed to do as I wished while M went from conference room to conference room, seminar to networking session to trade show booth.

We laugh now that we won't actually know how to vacation together, as we're used to traveling pretty independently and hooking up in the evenings. Wait...that didn't come out right...

Anyhoo, we decided that with everything we have going on right now, a vacation is definitely in order. Well, I decided that and then hounded M until he caved.

So, on May 20, 2009 (our next available chunk of time between classes that didn't involve a major holiday) we set out on our grand adventure West. We're taking Amtrak out and Amtrak back, two different routes. While we're there we have three nights in Yosemite (yay!), one in Wawona Hotel and two in cabins in Yosemite Valley. I'm also hoping to stay at Bodie House, which means a whole lot to photographers but probably not much to anyone else. If I don't get to stay there, I'll at least get time in Carmel and will visit Weston Beach. Which, again, means craploads to me and other photographers but probably nothing to most of you reading this.

I'll post more about our plans later, but suffice it to say that planning this trip is what's getting me through the long, bleak nights of Advanced Financial Management. California, here we come!

Saturday, October 04, 2008


Yesterday was one of those amazing days that, after it's all over you sit back and think, "How the hell did that happen?" It wasn't the day actually, but rather late afternoon into the evening.

First of all, I received some creative inspiration via e-mail from an awesome photographer on the west coast. Every time I get an e-mail from him I shake my head in disbelief and think, "How am I so lucky that I get to correspond with this person?!" I still don't know, but damn lucky I am.

After work, M and I had made plans to go to a Pictures of the Year International (POYi) exhibit at the Sheldon Art Galleries. POYi is run by my alma mater, the J-School at the University of Missouri. Each year, the school chooses the most amazing images made during the past 365 days. They are always incredible, and being given the chance to see many of the best in one place was something I was definitely interested in. The e-mail I received about it said that last night was the opening night, and we could expect a lovely little reception with beverages and appetizers. It was to run from 5 to 8, with drinks served 5 to 7. We rushed home, changed, and headed down to Sheldon.

When we walked up to the door, the attendant asked, "Have you been to our gallery before?" I said that I had, once, a year ago when I visited to see an incredible Jennifer Silverberg exhibit. She responded, "Great! Then you know the event is upstairs! Oh, but before you go up, you might want to check out the Pictures of the Year exhibit on the main floor here." M and I shot each other a look...ummmm...we thought the POYi exhibit was the event. We played it off like we knew exactly what we were doing and went in.

The POYi exhibit was incredible. Even M, who normally hates it when I drag him to photography exhibits, liked it, as he recognized many of the images that portray seminal moments in history. After spending some time in that gallery we decided to head upstairs and see what The Event actually was. Why not, eh?

Upstairs, it turned out, was the launch of the exhibit and book for the 40th anniversary of Contemporary Productions, a local music promoter. After we had our fill of cheese and crackers and veggies, and one glass of white wine each, we went in to the gallery. It was incredible. Music was in visual form all over the walls: photographs from concerts, back-stage passes, crew passes, t-shirts, promotional posters, newspaper and magazine articles. We drifted through, exclaiming over our favorites. Bruce Springsteen, Genesis, Journey, Jimi Hendrix, The Temptations, Eagles, REO Speedwagon and more. We laughed at the posters for "Superjam '76," doing the cheesy radio announcer impersonations we knew must have accompanied the on-air promotions for the event. One of the principals of Contemporary (and one of the authors of the exhibit's book) was there signing.

We had passed the gift shop on the way in to the exhibit, and the Contemporary book was displayed on a little easel. On either side of it, laying flat on the desk, were several other books. One of them was Vanishing America, by photographer Michael Eastman. I've followed his work for about 10 years, and I absolutely adore it. Having not had the chance to see Vanishing America yet, I stopped, of course, to look through it, all the while listening to the gift shop attendant try to convince me to look at the Contemporary book instead. "He's here signing it tonight!" I flipped through to appease her, but the Eastman book got far more attention. As we drifted away to hit the Contemporary exhibit, she mentioned the Eastman book was the last one they had. I made a mental note to convince M through the exhibit that I must purchase the book.

We went through several rooms of the Contemporary exhibit and found ourselves in a completely different section of the gallery, surrounded by giant, beautiful color photographs. I thought they might be Eastman prints, and went closer to inspect the description card by one of the images. Sure enough, they were all Michael Eastman's. How cool is that? I had never been able to see his work in person, and here it all was. I started my rounds, M gamely tagging behind (he's such a good hubby).

As I was studying one print, I couldn't help but overhear a conversation going on behind me. Several people were talking, and I heard one man say, "Well, these were all done with a 4x5..." My stomach flipped. "M!" I hissed. "That's Michael Eastman!" "Which one?" "The hippie-lookin' guy with the glasses and the long hair!" I stuck around to confirm my suspicions, listening and trying to covertly sneak good looks to see if it really was him. After I satisfied myself that he was him, I bolted for the gift shop. That last copy of Vanishing America was soon mine, and I was back at Mr. Eastman's side within minutes.

After patiently waiting for him to finish his conversation, he turned to me and stuck out his hand. He was a most genuine person, truly in this moment, kind and gentle and generous. I introduced myself and then M, and we had a 15-minute conversation about photography. I'm pretty sure I grinned like an idiot the entire time. Mr. Eastman signed my book and M finally dragged me away so I wouldn't monopolize his entire evening. I was in heaven.

I chattered the entire way home. M, I'm sure, was desperately wishing he was packing ear plugs. Near home, my cell rang. It was Stef, and before she could even get a word out, I exploded with what had happened earlier. She was, as every best friend should be, thrilled for me. Then she said, "I have an etiquette question."

Basically, she had been invited to a colleague's wedding. She had been planning to attend the reception with her boss and his wife, but learned at the wedding they wouldn't be going to the reception. She had no date, as her girlfriend is in Ann Arbor (hi Nicole!) and she hadn't lined up a friend as she didn't want to appear rude. "Hi, I figure I'm going to be bored at your wedding reception, so I'm bringing a friend to keep me amused." Since she was now going to the event completely alone, and knowing no one but the groom, she was in a pickle. "How long do I have to stay?" I told her all she had to do was greet the happy couple and then she was free to leave. She sighed, "I should have asked someone to go with me. I was going to ask you but you're too busy with school and everything."

Ironically, M and I had gotten all our work done early this week, so I had no other plans for the evening. M said, "Hell, you should go. You're already dressed for it!" I asked Stef where she was, and she was relatively close (in St. Louis terms, anyway), so she came by and we were off, and soon I found myself crashing my second event of the evening.

It was a very nice reception, especially considering I didn't know the bride or the groom. I don't know about Stef, but I had a blast just getting to hang out with her for a night. We should crash wedding receptions more often, I say. Good food, open bar, fun music, and cake! What's not to love?

So, that's the story of my sleepy Friday evening that wasn't. Just another confirmation of how lucky I am.

Friday, October 03, 2008

I'm for ______.

You know, I wrote a whole giant rant about the debate last night, and the two contenders for VP, and I decided not to post it. Why, you ask? Because I am a giant weenie. It's the same reason I won't put campaign signs in my yard (don't wanna get egged) or campaign magnets on my car (don't wanna get keyed).

I don't really want to have friends and family members trying from now to the election to change my mind. I'm a raving independent and perfectly capable of making up my own mind, thankyouverymuch. Which I have. For the most part. Unless something gigantic happens between now and election day. And just FYI, it's not so much that I'm for anyone. I'm mostly just opposed to a particular someone.

I have the post saved, mainly because I hate to delete anything I spent more than five minutes writing. So who knows, maybe at some point I'll bust it out. But today is not one of those days. I'll remain a law-abiding citizen of Weenieville and keep my opinions to myself. Except to M, who knows exactly how I feel. Although he doesn't really want to. It's just that he can't help but overhear as I'm standing next to him, screaming at the television.

This weekend is supposed to be beautiful, and M just told me he's likely to be working on a presentation all weekend. I'll try to get out with Zozer and hit the park, and take the camera with me. I haven't been able to shoot much lately and it's taking a toll on my mental well-being. Plus, I know our beautiful days are numbered and I'd really like to get a stockpile of images to work on throughout the dark winter months.

We cranked extra-hard this week and got our homework and quiz done and turned in Wednesday night, which feels really good. Huge weight lifted knowing we don't have to cram all weekend to get it done in time. After this, only two weeks left. No more quizzes. Just two weeks of homework, the final project, and the final exam. The end is in sight. Thank gawd.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

I'm too old to pull all-nighters

I have met academic hell, and its name is Financial Management.

We are in the 7th week of a 9-week term, and the end cannot come soon enough. Last night's, or rather, this morning's since we were up until 2 a.m., foray into determining the present value of futures hedges devolved into alternate screaming and crying. M mostly screamed, I screamed and cried. I like to diversify.

We weren't mad at each other, mind you, but at the mind-crushing amount of work required by this class. One, one, homework problem last evening took over 3 hours of work. By each of us. Our prof (who I imagine sports horns and carries a three-pronged smoldering pitchfork with the Weighted Average Cost of Capital formula branded on it) posted to the discussion boards yesterday that last week's homework assignment average was 79%, and that if people need help they should be posting or e-mailing. Given the flurry of last minute posts that went up near Sunday's deadline, M and I decided that people simply wait until the 11th hour to start working on their homework, at which point it's pointless to try to get help. And in this class, hooey, everyone needs help. Which, you'd think, most students would figure out by, oh, the 6th week of a 9 week term.

We, of course, beat ourselves silly throughout all of last week to get the homework done in a timely fashion (and yes, I ended up having to email the prof about five times to get help and clarification), and had it turned in even before other people started posting about their problems. We, of course, earned 100% on our assignment. We, of course, are nerds and curve-wreckers. M more than me, as he has the higher A by over 2%. He's a SuperNerd.

Why bother to take a class if you're not going to do the required work to learn from it? This class is harder than any other I've taken, but I've learned a helluva lot. Including how much work I'm capable of producing and how little sleep I actually need to function. Turns out they're inversely proportionate. Of course, I don't know how long I'll be able to keep this up, exactly, but we'll see. We both managed to hit our respective 9-minute-long snooze buttons from 5:30 through 6:45 this morning without realizing it, if that tells you how tired we are.

Today at Starbucks (I treated myself to cope with last night's mental flogging - get over it, M) I watched a woman in a big SUV with private school stickers plastered all over it make a total idiot of herself in the drive-through. Apparently she didn't realize that when one goes through the drive-through, one must actually roll down one's window and place an order for one's beverage (decaf grande nonfat no whip extra-hot mocha, thankyouverymuch). She rolled right past the large post with the speaker/microphone and the sign that said, "STOP! Place your order here!" ("idiot" being implied, I think).

She sat quite near the post for several minutes, while the barista plaintively called, "Hello? Can I help you? Hellooooooooo! Welcome to Starbucks? Hello?" I could hear it in my car, 10 feet away, with the window up. Not sure how she could miss it, unless she had Yanni blasting through the Bose speakers and was busy applying mascara and talking to her dear friend Bitsy on the cell phone. It wasn't until she was completely past the post that she rolled down her window, stuck her (blonde...did I mention she was blonde?) head out and looked back with a completely puzzled expression.

Dear God, lady. I'm flat-out exhausted and need caffeine more than anyone right now, and I know when and where to order my damn coffee.

Some supersecret shout-outs:
  • Shawn: get better already. Please. Worrying about you is so not helping me study. ;-)
  • Beans: hang in there...we love you!
  • Saara: dying to hear how the new life is going. You're working from home for Pete's sake, which means, of course, you're not really working, so e-mail me already.
  • Stef: lunch? sometime? anytime?
  • Ted O.: I hope one of us is creating new art. God knows it's not me right now which means it's all up to you...please send inspiration as soon as possible! I'd love to see your new work, or even work-in-progress.
  • Tiff: my Wally World pix will be done this weekend...can't wait to pick them up and remember how much fun we had. Miss you! Love to D-Fresh. He put spinners on that new ride yet?
  • Mom Z: a belated thank you for all your help when M was out of town. You have no idea how much that meant to me. And M. And Zozer. And, what the hell, Max and Tachi, too.
  • Mama: Hmmmm, anything, um, bugging you right now?!
  • Papa: ee-ya-ee!