Saturday, November 26, 2005

Dude, don't buy a Dell...

Well. My Dell saga continues... I received an e-mail from them letting me know that my case was resolved and that I would receive a survay. Yes, nice that it ws resolved, now how about telling me how it was resolved? Am I going to be required to pay for some random charge that wound up on my account or not?

So, I went to the website they had listed, and ws asked for my e-mail address and password. Huh? So I went to retreive password and entered my e-mail address (the one where I had just been sent an e-mail). Address not found.

I swear I will make it my life's misson to make sure that no one I know buys a Dell computer. ("Hello. My name is Inigeo Montoya, you killed my father...") But seriously, I am frustrated.

First my hard drive starts to crap out on me. I called Dell. Some dude told me to run a diagnostic, which turned up bad sectors in my hard drive. He then told me to ignore them. As a result, when my hard drive finally crashed, I lost about, oh, I don't know, 40 gigs of data. So I had to get a replacement hard drive (the laptop is not even a year old at this point). I pointed out to Dell that it was responsible for retreiving any data it could from my dead drive because it was Dell's fault that I did not back up the data in anticipation of the demise of my computer storage (I did save some of to disks, but I lost a lot.) It was Dell's negligence is not mentioning to me that bad sectors spread which caused me to lose all that I did. But no, Dell dropped the ball. It did send me a new hard drive (which I have a feeling has already started to crap out) and made me send the old drive back. I asked to keep the drive longer (so I could hunt down some computer nerd to bail me out) but the oh-so-friendly company refused.

Keep in mind that during all this, I was receiving at least two calls a day from Dell asking me to fill out their survay (and telling me to rate its customer service highly).

Next month I receive a bill from Dell. The comp' is all paid off, so I figure they've bunged it up and charged me for the replacement hard drive. So I call. Turns out the change ($139 and some change) is from a third party company and is some save-twenty-percent-when-you-go-to-the-movies deal. I asked how it wound up on my card. They had no clue. So I told them to remove it. The dolt on the line told me it would be taken care of in 48 to 36 hours. So I called four days later to close the account. The new dolt on the other end informed me that I could not close the account because there was a charge on it. Hmm. A 139 dollar (and some change) charge. And no, there was no history of my having called to have the charge removed. But it would have to be submitted to a manager. Meanwhile, I wanted to know, could I close my account so that no more random charges would appear? No. (Of course not). But the manager should make a decision in two weeks. By the way, could I fill out a survey, remembering that the service representitives's ability to feed his sixteen children was dependent upon my giving him an outstanding rating?

Two weeks later I call again. At least this time there is a record of my case. But it will take about two months for it to be cleared up (during which time the charge earns penelties and interest--which I don't have to pay if the case is decided in my favor). At this point I'm having flashbacks to the Army and thinking about Kafka. And yes, I'm still receiving several phone calls (and e-mails) asking me to fill out that damned survey. (Maybe I will send this in lieu of the survey. Yes, I think I will. By the way, I wonder how many calories angry typing burns).

And now this. My mother informs me that if I ever buy another Dell she will disown me. Well, it's not something that either of us have to worry about. Well, we'll see what happens.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


So, in my ever-so-boring Educational Research class last night, the teacher said that, in a recent study, Salisbury was considered one of the most dangerous cities in the USA.

Naturally, I had to check this out.

Fast-forward to the internet search. Hmm. List of America's most dangerous cities... Washington DC, Detroit, St Louis, Baltimore, Compton... hey, where's Salisbury? Where is the big, bad city of Salisbury, MD? Well, let's try another study. And another. And another. (In an ever-so-shocking upset, Baltimore beat out Compton in the dangerous list.)

No luck finding this study. And this is my Ed Reasearch prof! Making up false studies! Claiming that this middle of nowhere is -gasp- dangerous.

Anyway, if anyone finds this mythical study, let me know. I will post it and write an unofficial apology to both Baltimore and Compton for mocking them.

Teaching English as a Second Language

Well, I haven't had any students confess to eating the family dog, but they have still been interesting. There was the girl who got offended when I called her a guinea pig. There was the student who was totally confused by "the right to bear arms" (I could tell by the look on her face that she was struggling with a rather odd mental image). I have students who translate directly from their native language (generally idioms or expressions), usually with mixed results (yesterday it was "lying on one knee" to express giving in to someone).

But this is what I really love:
I will look at a student's sentence, and something about it will seem wrong. So I look at the grammar, but that is fine. Then I start to look more closely at the sentence, and I realize that it is a completely new way of expressing something. And the more I look at it, the better it seems, until finally I can't imagine saying it any other way. There is a certain unintentional poetry that a non-native speaker can occasionally obtain. And this poetry makes me see how much we native speakers are limited by our superior experience.

Really, our perception and expression is controlled by our language. And our language is controlled by our experience.

(By the way, that reference to a student eating the family dog--it really happened.)

English Phonetics.

Why do we have so many vowels in English? When I first started thinking about our large number of vowels, I was quite proud. I mean, when you compare our fifteen distinct vowel sounds with most other language--well, we just seem quite special.

Now I'm not so sure. I've just spent the past half hour trying to decide if I merge my cots with my caughts (I thought I did, but now I think I do distinguish between the two, if only slightly). Add that to the fact that most of our vowels, no matter how we write them, turn into the schwa (just try saying almost any two or three syllable word without the schwa and see how silly you sound) and, anyway, I've decided that we are just careless with our vowels (and I'm including the Brits and Canucks in this). We have this rich variety of vowels and we just "uh" our way through them.



Monday, November 14, 2005

The wonders of wi-fi internet access...

...especially when one is in an exreamely (how is that word spelled anyway? Even the spell check doesn't know) boring evening class...


For the final exam in this class we are allowed to have a sheet of notes, though we have to turn it in to the prof after the exam. I think I may do my note sheet in French. Just for shits and giggles.

Je n'aime pas cette classe. Pourqui? Parce que elle m'ennuie. Et les autres etudiants sont... je ne sais pas le mot en Francais... jocks. Blayt.

Et encore un fois, tous les mecs sont cons.


The people I work with are so fucking rude and unfriendly. I've tried to be nice, but the little shit-heads are just cold. And rude. And they don't seem to be very bright either. Based on their conversations, they do a lot of drinking. Motherfucks.

First of all, everyone completely ignores me. I've tried to be nice, engage them in conversation. No go. (Well, there is one girl here who will actually talk back when I say something. But she is the exception rather than the rule.) I could probably have a heart attack and no one would do anything. Maybe I should try working topless some time--she what happens. In fact, I think I will do that just before I leave. Maybe even gain about fifty more pounds just to gross them out even more. That is, if there were to notice. Ugh.

So, I have this desk in the corner. Obviously my desk, but when I am not here, not only will people use it, but they will leave their shit on it. How very rude is that?
Now, my desk does not have a phone, so I have to treck over to the front desk to use the phone (which is, in itself, not a big problem. I don't like phones very much anyway.) Anyway, today I had to call the help desk to fix an e-mail problem. So I went over to the phone, called the IT desk, and told the guy my problem. Now, he didn't know how to fix it, so he took my name and number and promised to call me right back. Which he did. Only, when the phone rang, one of the shit-heads here answered it and told him that I did not exist. (Keep in mind that there are about nine people who work here at any given time. And then there is me. And I'm here pretty much all the time. Why no one knows me--well, who the hell knows). Finally the IT guy got it through to her that I did exist. So she calls over to me and I go to the phone. Now, to resolve this e-mail problem, I need to be in front of a computer. There is a computer right next to the phone, but shit-for-brains is busy doing something useless. So I treck back to my desk, unplug my laptop, and treck back (and the trecking is not the problem here. I need to be doing more trecking. The reason I am overweight is because I don't spend nearly enough time trecking. But that is not the point here). Well, anyway, turns out I cna't resolve this particular problem unless I am on a Salisbury computer. Well, tough shit. Goat-head is not going to give up her computer so I can fix this little problem. So I get instructions from the guy to fix it on my own (which I just did. It was really easy to do. But again, not the issue here).

I'm not sure I've ever worked in a place quite like this. List of jobs:

Md Renn Fest (food booths): co-workers friendly. Not in a close buddy way, but they would talk to me.
Mailboxes, Etc: Great boss who used to be in a rock band. Nicknamed me the "packing princess" because of my above average spacial reasoning skills.
Army: Okay, this one sucked. But I expected it to suck. Co-workers either two-faced or openly hostile. But they didn't ignore me.
Office job in Arizona: again, good boss (even if he was a republican). It was a work study job, but he wanted me to take over for the secretary when she left. I was appreciated, damn it.
Highs (data entry): Okay. This one sucked. Most of the co-workers were twits. But there were still a couple of co-workers who were nice and spoke to me.
Odessy computers: sucked. Creepy boss. But I could bitch out the computer nerds when they screwed up (they were scared of me. Always a plus.) And I had my totally awsome quitting line (when the boss wanted me to tidy up, I hd to explain to him that I didn't know where things went because I was new. He said [and I do not exaggerate here] that I should be good at tidying up because I was a girl. I looked him in the eye and said: "The only difference between me and a man is that I don't have a penis. Mail me my check."
House of Musica Traditions: Crazy boss (but still pretty cool). I worked with musicians--again cool. With the exception of the occasional folk guitarist who informed me that I was not a real musician becuase I could read music and played the oboe (yeah, I know. How weird is that?) it was a pretty cool job. Totally disorganized though, and drove me slightly crazy in the end.
UMBC Writing Center: good job. I liked the boss (slightly over-stressed English prof) and to co-workers were (mostly) great. We helped each other out and spent way too much time talking about comma and semi-colon rules, dangling participles, and the differences between participles and gerunds.
Linkages to Learning (which was volunteer, but I count it here): Teaching job. Great students. Very rewarding.
Valence IUFM: Okay, the two English teachers were real bitches. And some of the students were clueless. But most of the students were super-nice. And a lot of them offered to show me around or help me with French beaurocracy.

So here I am. Last week the director here was showing around some ENglish prof, explaining to him the purpose of this whole place. Now, granted, I'm not officially attached to this place, but still... She showed him around the space and introduced him to everyone. Expect me. She didn't evne bother to mention to him who I was or what I was doing here. It was like, "and here's the desk. Oh, and here's another desk with a chair. Here are Tom, DIck, Harry, and Jane. Here is my favorite bookcase."

I can't wait to get out of here. I like the program (mostly) but I hate the school. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it. The people here are just way too cold and unfriendly. (Even the people in my classes). There are not a lot of other grad students--in fact, in two of my classes I'm the only grad student at all. So I don't have anyone with whom I can discuss ESL and the classes and the workload and stuff like that. Bleh. Bleh. BLEH!

SO. I'm channeling all this frustration and annoyance into trying to get through the program as quickly as humanly possible. I am starting to wonder if there is any way I could have it done by the end of next summer. Hm, probably not. But if there were a way, I would so be on it. I would be on it backwards and forwards. Bleh. Yeck. Argh.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Just had to say...

Tous les mecs sont cons.


-I bought the latest Shakira cd and I'm enjoying it ware more than I thought I would. I thought it would be kinda nice, in a fluffy pop kinda way. Naw. It is damn good.

Meanwhile, I've asked mom for the latest Negramaro cd (super expensive import). Negramaro is an Italian group that has won awards--awesome group.

Been listening to Carmen Consoli as well (another Italian).

And Khaled (Algerian, by way of France).

And, when I need cheering up, I have my Russian Star Academy (or Star Factory, which I think might be the better translation). Totally pop, but the Russian sounds so cute on it.

So I'm feeling all international now.

I may have to go out and buy another Shakira cd now. Maybe I will wait until I've memorized all the words to the songs on this cd--which will be a challange, as it is all in Spanish.

Damn. I have to learn Spanish.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Still sounds like squeaking to me...

Ultrasonic Songs of Male Mice:

Scroll down the article (long and scientificly boring) and you can hear some audio files. It sounds suspiciously like squeaking to me. If it resembles a bird song, perhaps it is because birds squeak too.