Thoughts On Homework

Last night I had do some paperwork for my on-line business; it had to be done, it sucked. It was then that I was thinking about all those hours spent battling homework throughout my life: from grade school, through University, and when I had my little business going before the great melt-down in ’08. Once I completed my accounting and billings, I thought about creating a 3D image of how I felt during all those hours, burning the midnight oil on homework.

When Homework Feels LIke an Interrogation - Jan 10 2016 Weblog Image

Here it is, “The Interrogation Room.”

The human model I created during the holidays, using Blender. The rig for the model is basic, and so is the room and its furniture, but it is, to me, the look and feel of an interrogation room, and that is what I was feeling like last night. A little Tongue-in-cheek statement, using art work, reflecting the moment I was having.

Success! They Passed!

Success! The three I tutored over the last four weeks have written their finals, and received their marks for the full term. All passed; they seemed very pleased at their accomplishments. The Statistics final exam took them the better part of 90 minutes to complete, well with in the time limit, but they all said it was a tough exam.

Grades Graphic Dec 8 2014 Thomasso 01 Weblog Image

It was impossible, from their past performance, to reach stellar marks, but the deal was to get them passed within the time remaining in their course. Statistically, this was possible, and they achieved that goal. Their marks varied from a letter grade of C+ to B-, which are academic passes, a far cry from their projected C- to C grades that they were aligned with from before.

I am happy for them, and I wish them well as they take their winter breaks.

As for future tutoring gigs, well, that is hard to say at the moment. I did put in a huge amount of energy and time with them, and sacrifices were made on my part. Their prof at SFU has not gotten back to me since he requested my reference letters, so I guess he has moved on. So, it is hard to say whether this will lead into something. In the mean time I am happy that my students passed. Success!

Further Readings, see Post “Me, Tutoring Behavioural Statistics? Gasp!” November 22, 2014

A Tribute to a Friend and Teacher: RIP Mr. Allen

A tribute to a man who played a pivotal part in my academic endeavours; may you rest in peace Tom Allen, your life was taken way too soon. He was a teacher, a mentor and a very kind person who gave more than he took. He cared deeply, and passionately, about restorative justice, and he cared deeply about those who were caught in the web of the criminal justice system. As a teacher of Criminology at Kawntlen Polytechnic University, he toughed many, and touched our lives in his classes. I will never forget my time in his classes, and the knowledge and wisdom he passed onto me. After almost a year of fighting leukaemia, he passed away on August 28, 2014.

I wanted to blog about him becuase he was one of the few people who impacted my life in a very positive way while I was an undergrad. He took me aside one day while I was in my third year, to ask me how I was doing after I had written and submitted a paper which I had blasted through becuase of lack of time from my busy schedule. He want to help me, so he reached out. I remember him taking me into the staff lunch room, where it was dimly lit, but very clean and well maintained, and I was thinking that I should not be here. He sat me there and took out my paper out from his bag and said that he could not mark it becuase he knew that I could have done ten times better as compared to my previous papers written earlier on in his class. I explained to him that with work, and other assignments that my time was stretched to the limit, and rather receiving a zero for that assignment, I would “throw a hail Marry” and write the paper that morning. He said, “No, you are going to rewrite it, as I am going to give everyone in the class a second chance because you are not the only one, …but for you, this is out of character.” I did rewrite the paper, as did everyone else in the class, and my mark was substantially grater than before.

My last encounter with him was at my graduation. As I walked across the stage to receive my BA, and greet the Dean, plus the photo op., and just as I walked off the stage, Tom, and one other Prof stood up from their chairs and walked over me. While on stage, they came over to me and shook my hand saying, “well done–you did it!” They were smiling and their faces glowed with excitement. When I sat down, all the graduates around me were asking what that was all about. They said the Dean stopped and paused, looking at what was going at the back of the stage while I was up there. I just told them that I got the true hand shake from my profs.

I first heard of the news on Twitter back on Tuesday from a current student who said that the university emailed everyone of the news, so I emailed the Faculty of Criminology at KPU. The secretary replied, and she gave me a copy of the email. It reads:

Dear Criminology Students,

I’m very sorry to be writing this email and it comes with immeasurable sadness and grief.  Our friend, colleague and teacher, Tom Allen, died on August 28th, 2014.  Tom was diagnosed with Leukemia nine months ago.  Tom didn’t want a lot of pain or to suffer and that was what he was facing.  He’s now at peace.  He spent his last days surrounded by colleagues, friends, and family. 

Tom was KPU Criminology’s social justice heart and soul.  He was one of the most vulnerable/courageous and authentic human beings I had the pleasure of knowing.  I also know that Tom loved teaching.  He cherished connecting with students and challenging and transforming their perspectives.  Tom was deeply compassionate and strived to make the world a better place through his students.  He was going to retire a few years ago, but always returned because he loved teaching and the relationships he formed with students.  Over the years, many students told me that they stayed at KPU because of Tom.  His irreverence, humour, passion for social and transformative justice and ability to connect with everyone in a heartfelt way will be deeply missed by students and faculty alike.  

Tom was resilient.  He would want all of you to go into class this week, connect and engage empathetically with each other and the material and breathe life into your journeys.  And tell ‘Tom stories’…there are lots of them. Please also reach out to each other, and to the members of our faculty. 

A celebration of life is being planned and I will relay the information as soon as I have it.  


Lisa Kitt

Tom lead by example, and taught by conviction, sharing his life with us in those classes. He reminded us that we are human, and that through our humanity we can have a society that is caring and tolerant, but above all else, having equality and understanding as its foundation. I will never forget him, and a part of him will always be with me.


Touting the Tutor Gig

I would have never thought that I would have ended up as a tutor for high school aged kids, or for any young adults or children for that matter, in a million years. This surprise turn of events was the sum result of having major cut backs in hours from my regular employment, and taking on the first opportunity that presented itself to me after the notice from my employer we given. It was last Wednesday when I answered a friend’s plea for help to do tutoring for her, and having gone through the application process, (and being told that I was “over qualified” at one point) I started my first session today, with reservation.

Expectations were very mixed for me before I started. I was scheduled for One hour of tutoring for three high school (Grade Eight) kids: Two very hyper young men, and One very recessive young woman. The lesson material for today was English: “Understanding grammatical relationships, and the conjugation of verbs (using phrasing) in terms of their proper tense.”  And yes, I remembered this torture when I was a wee lad! For me, time flew; for the kids, it was an eternity.

Once I got going with the lesson, I found that there was some awkwardness with presenting the material at the start, but I soon realized that the use of the white-board was not working, so I switched to handouts in which they could follow along as I read through the problems. Once the ice was broken, and everyone seemed comfortable, I felt great progress was finally being made.

The “great question” was asked; the question that kids of all stripes ask when put into a learning task that they do not like to be in: “why do we need to know this?” Thus was the segway into the lesson.

“If you were writing a résumé, and you wanted to tell the reader Three things about you that you think would seal-the-deal of employment, and then follow that by Three awesome accomplishments you had with your last employer, could you write that into Two paragraphs with proper verb-tense usage in each?”

So, off they went, and Ten minutes later they submitted their papers back to me.

The results varied, and were quite remarkable. The Three appeared to have gotten it, but they had all showed signs of writer’s fatigue around Twenty words into their exercise, so the lesson might have been too easy for them, but was too much work for them in total.  Their work did reveal other signs of where they needed help, but that is for another day, another blog post.

I filled out their report/exercise slips, and off I went home to enjoy the time (less) I had from the changing of the clocks for Daylight Savings time.

To Procrastinate: Tacks, Ticks, and More Taxes.

Already I want to throw these forms back in the file folder and leave them for another day. I have procrastinated enough on them though becuase my deadline is approaching. This is the follow up for my final tax submission with my little spat with Revenue Canada, and the forms and organizing of my copies is well over Seventy pages.

Taxing Paperwork Thomasso March 9 2013 a

So, should I do it tonight, to save it for tomorrow?

These forms are due in by the Fifteenth of March, so this gives me One more week to get them done. I am not sure if that includes postage time, or uploading the files on the Net, but either way it clearly states on the forms that Revenue Canada can issue a fine if I miss the deadline. The good news is, the more I go through my numbers, the better it is looking that I do not owe anymore cash to the man than what I have already paid. I do want to get this Ten Thousand Dollar issue fixed, and put that to bed for good.

To procrastinate, or not to procrastinate, that is the question.

Catching Up on Stuff: The Relentless Life of a Working Stiff

It is Tuesday, and it feels like my Saturday—I know weird eh, but that is how I feel. Sure, I went into work today and did my Seven hours and Sixteen point Five minutes worth of work. Sure, I fought traffic getting to and from work. And, sure, I had to get up at a stupid hour this morning to prepare for work. But it feels like Saturday because the Sun came this afternoon, turning the day into a really nice one, and it was nice coming home to a clean place. I did a massive amount of cleaning during Sunday and yesterday, so the place looked sparkling clean when I got in from work.

Ho, yes, the “Stuff.” I had a few things that needed to be taken care of today that were super important. First, my letter of final application and curriculum vitae for the Corrections Canada shortlist that I have being applying for from Seven months ago. Yes, I made it to the shortlist, and have a few more steps to go, and in a couple more weeks I should know where I stand with that. Second, I have a meeting with a Halfway House in Vancouver (Thursday). They had asked me to consider doing some volunteering, working in a workshop with them. The facility manager is a friend of mine from when we took university classes together way back in 2006—that was so long ago. Lastly, I have a work related issue that I need to get cleared up. I have to issue some disciplinary notices/resolutions that are between an employee and the employers. I am hoping that I can get the whole incident resolved with a couple of letters, and hopefully a meeting—though I doubt both sides will come together on this. My timeline on this is before this coming Friday.

To end this post off with, a photo of a young walnut tree just a few metres away from my front door. This tree is just a few years old, and already it is about Four to Five metres high. These trees grow incredibly fast when they first start out. I suspect it will be a few more years before the tree starts to produce walnuts. Of course, I will be long gone, as will the walnut tree, when the property is redeveloped.

June is Over Already!

June 2011 has got to be the most prosperous month I have had in a very long time when I compare it to the last major time period back in September 2008 with the same results. This month, I had graduated, or officially finished being an undergraduate. I then found meaningful employment. And from being at the convocation ceremony, I got leads that could start my post graduate down on the road to my dream career as the doors opened up once the pomp and circumstance cleared the air. On top of all this, the visit by my mother. The support from my friends who wanted to be there with me as I went through transition of graduation was incredible. It was so nice to have everyone that wanted to share the experience of the convocation ceremony with me.

The major mile stone of finishing classes has still not fully sunk in. Even while I was at work today, I was thinking that there was something missing, that I was forgetting something. I was thinking that I may have an assignment, or a paper that needs to be handed in, you know that nagging feeling that you forgot something. In other words, I still carry around that guilty feeling that my work day is too light and that I need it weighed down with numerous tasks of dead-line torture.Yeah, I think I have gotten use to begin over loaded? How sick is that?

Today – with so much freedom, I find myself making more mistakes. I feel so lazy now that I know there will be no one critically marking my work so I get sloppy and careless. I realise that there are critical markers in my life now, they just do not give the feed back that my profs did. Instead they constantly adjust my evaluations that they have of me through passive reactions. I have to vigorously push myself with the same amount of discipline that was driving me during my undergraduate days from my instructors. Is this maturity?

The shock of June was meeting a professor that I had when I was in my first year at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Mr. Richard Floyd, a professor of Sociology at kwantlen received an award as Professor Emeritus. This was a man who truly inspired and touch so many around him. The effect that he had on my life was incredible. I am truly privileged to have been a student under him. He was the first person in my life to “open my eyes” on issues that taunted me like how does the cycle of money really work. He showed us all in those classes the world around us as we focused on what makes our social structure work, and why we are what we are today. That course was focused on looking at several perspectives: the good, the bad and the ugly of our society as it is, and is not, and the illusions that we see of it. I will never forget those classes with him.

But June was, in my mind, the spring of 2011. Literally, in terms of weather in my life. The winter that kept lingering from January, and did not stop until June. So, I like to say, we only had a three week period of spring. Even now that we are now officially in the summer season, the spring weather still lingers. So too did the effect of the convocation have on me as I truly blossomed into my next metamorphoses of life during that ceremony. Wearing the graduation gown and tassel, was, well, a dream like state that only could be appreciated until after I had to take them off. Together, the cool weather made wearing the cap and gown bearable during the convocation worked out in terms of being comfortable. Is not what life is all about, begin comfortable?

Safety Food

My last extreme adventure of the week is over, the Food Safe course that I need. I wrote the exam today at the Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Surrey campus. I was given an hour to write it, and it took me less than twenty minutes to write it. I needed a minimum of eighty percent to pass, I earned eighty-eight percent. This is not too bad for someone who has had very little experience with food handling.

When I finished, I had to wait around for the rest of the hour while the director came back to officially sign me off as completed. She then congratulated me, and asked me to wait in the front office as she dashed off. She had to print off my certificate.

The director presented me with the certificate, a nice thick piece of paper with a gold sticker on it, and said that I am welcomed back any time. The certificate actually looks very cool. Along with the certificate came the wallet size certificate that you carry on you when at work, plus a source booklet for quick referencing.

I am so glad that it is over and done with. Now I can send off my proposal and see what kind of bites I get with it. With the SCR-course, First-Aid and Food Safe, I hope that I have all my bases covered, as I spent a lot of time a money on these courses. There is no way that I could have done all of this while doing classes and worked at my hourly job. The time and travel restraints were just too great. It was like I almost needed to be in two places at once.

I fulfilled my objective of getting all of this done before February 15, 2011.  Now for the dirty work of Contract Law.

Band-Aid Solutions, Level One

Around 8:35am I was surrounded by seventeen other members of a class that was about to embark on the day long course of occupational first-aid, level one, recognized in the Province of British Columbia, and we were all tried, spending our Saturday morning there, to learn the art of saving lives at the most basic level.  I took the course for many reasons, but mainly to enhance my skill level and add more to my growing arsenal of qualifications needed for my career. With my eyes barely fully awake, I was writing notes on how to do risk assessments on a patient in need of first-aid, and begin the procedures needed to aid that person in distress. Then before I knew it I was standing in a open area with all these people as I was asked to lay on the ground, plant my elbows on the hard ground, and hold the head of the perfect stranger and apply something called C-Spine. At that point of the day, all of this was overwhelming, but mostly because I was still half a sleep.

Half the course was in the classroom, taking notes from the lecture, and other other half was in the open area, doing the practical. Everything from how to the roll the person over, to proper techniques in making sure the patient does not suffer from further injury when the first-aid is being administered, was drilled into us. Then back into the classroom, more lecture, then back out in the open area for more practical, more drills, and so on. During the last half of the class, the training got more gruelling as we got into CPR, dealing with a choking victim who had passed out and now was not breathing and  his  heart stopped beating. We did the CPR manually, and with a defibrillator, which was a totally new experience. That was the first time I ever used one of these devices. The machine talks to you, and also monitors the patient as you perform the CPR! That is cool!

At the end of the class came the little mini exam of twenty questions. Yes, I passed, with a score of one-hundred percent, but surprisingly the class average was about seventy-eight percent. No one failed, but the questions were simple, so I can only figure that people must have rushed through it and got careless as some questions were set up like trick questions. Anyway, before we all knew it, is was dark outside and the whole day had gone by, it was time to leave.

I am happy that I did it. I was reluctant when I first signed up for the course, but now I see this as something that will benefit me, even if I do not use it in my new career. So there, another feather in my cap of work-related merits. Monday I tackle food!

Solstice, Oh Happy Day of the Year

It is finally here, the shortest day, and the longest night of the year, and now the longer days are a coming.

This is going to be a action packed day. Once I’m done with work, I’m off with my friends.

Even though the day looks very miserable, it did show promise this morning when the sky cleared up for a brief moment and allowed the sun to shine. But now as the day progresses, it is probably, more than likely, going to rain, continuously. But that will not dampen our celebrations.

Today is also the last official day of the Fall Semester at Kwnatlen. Yes, there are some who are still writing exams. I feel so sorry for them because the time off starts tomorrow. Most of us were fished our exams two weeks ago, and some, even earlier because of having in class exams. Oh, well, I’m finished, I did my time with it, and I’m not going to rub it in for the next generation of students goring through the bowls of Kwantlen. I wish them good luck and happy times.

Tonight I meet up with some of my old classmates. I am looking forward to that very much. I miss the old gang. We did a lot. We shared a lot. We survived it together. You just don’t throw that kind of friendship out to easily, no matter how far apart our lives will go in our separate carers.

I know, I’m sounding kind of mushy right now. Just a minute…

OK, that’s better.

I’m still waiting on my grades. I thought by today I would have them, but I guess my profs were heavily loaded up with marking. Hopefully by tonight I’ll know where I stand. Fingers crossed. I’m so nervous and excite at the same time!