Monday, January 23, 2006

My poor sister

My sister sent me a e-mail from Tokyo Narita Airport this morning.....

I have arrived to Japan Narita airport since Jan. 22, our flight was cancelled due to weather, so I had to sleep at the airport overnight. This morning (Jan. 23), I am still trying to get on a flight to take me to Taipei. So far everything are sold out and completely booked, I might have to stay in Tokyo another day. Ugh. I am so frustrated.
Mom actually went to the airport and waited for me there, I tried to call but it wasn't easy trying to figure out how to use the stupid phone is Japan. I am going to cancel my tour in Japan, I am fed up with the J*%s!
I have not showered since the 21st, I feel so dirty and tired. Pray for me, I believe I will get to Taipei sometime this year! LOL.
Talk to you soon!

She was on her way to Taipei to visit our mom for 2 weeks, and even having been in almost hellish travel/combat situations, I still say that what she's going through right now is just sucky.

Please join me in wishing that her ordeal will be over soon!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

College made me dumber

Study: Most College Students Lack Skills
By BEN FELLER AP Education Writer

Nearing a diploma, most college students cannot handle many complex but common tasks, from understanding credit card offers to comparing the cost per ounce of food.

Those are the sobering findings of a study of literacy on college campuses, the first to target the skills of students as they approach the start of their careers.

More than 50 percent of students at four-year schools and more than 75 percent at two-year colleges lacked the skills to perform complex literacy tasks.

That means they could not interpret a table about exercise and blood pressure, understand the arguments of newspaper editorials, compare credit card offers with different interest rates and annual fees or summarize results of a survey about parental involvement in school.

The results cut across three types of literacy: analyzing news stories and other prose, understanding documents and having math skills needed for checkbooks or restaurant tips.

"It is kind of disturbing that a lot of folks are graduating with a degree and they're not going to be able to do those things," said Stephane Baldi, the study's director at the American Institutes for Research, a behavioral and social science research organization.

Most students at community colleges and four-year schools showed intermediate skills, meaning they could perform moderately challenging tasks. Examples include identifying a location on a map, calculating the cost of ordering office supplies or consulting a reference guide to figure out which foods contain a particular vitamin.

There was brighter news.

Overall, the average literacy of college students is significantly higher than that of adults across the nation. Study leaders said that was encouraging but not surprising, given that the spectrum of adults includes those with much less education.

Also, compared with all adults with similar levels of education, college students had superior skills in searching and using information from texts and documents.

"But do they do well enough for a highly educated population? For a knowledge-based economy? The answer is no," said Joni Finney, vice president of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, an independent and nonpartisan group.

"This sends a message that we should be monitoring this as a nation, and we don't do it," Finney said. "States have no idea about the knowledge and skills of their college graduates."

The survey examined college and university students nearing the end of their degree programs. The students did the worst on matters involving math, according to the study.

Almost 20 percent of students pursuing four-year degrees had only basic quantitative skills. For example, the students could not estimate if their car had enough gas to get to the service station. About 30 percent of two-year students had only basic math skills.

Baldi and Finney said the survey should be used as a tool. They hope state leaders, educators and university trustees will examine the rigor of courses required of all students.

The survey showed a strong relationship between analytic coursework and literacy. Students in two-year and four-year schools scored higher when they took classes that challenged them to apply theories to practical problems or weigh competing arguments.

The college survey used the same test as the National Assessment of Adult Literacy, the government's examination of English literacy among adults. The results of that study were released in December, showing about one in 20 adults is not literate in English.

On campus, the tests were given in 2003 to a representative sample of 1,827 students at public and private schools. The Pew Charitable Trusts funded the survey.

It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.


Tuesday, January 17, 2006

1st. day of work out

Has been weights, for all the major body parts. My work out partner is one tough lady! She's tiny but can lift! I think I'll start to feel my underused muscles pretty soon! The GF was not too happy that today's work out took about 2 hours to do, what can I say, I'm such a novice that it's not funny!

Back home now with the pets and the GF, and waiting for the meat loaf to cook. I feel grateful that, despite my dilemmas with work, money, and everything else, the GF and the pets do their parts to help me feel stable.

Now, if only the dog would stop harassing the cats.....

Monday, January 16, 2006

The new work outs

A friend of mine from work, who is now striving towards a career with the FBI and has also gotten to know the GF and I pretty well, has started a sort of physical training alliance with me. She wanted to make sure that she will be as physically fit as she can be before she goes into training, which can be any time from now, and I wanted to make sure that I can pass the army standard fitness test if I have to take it soon.

The decision about whether or not I should reenlist is still up in the air, supposed I can leave all this military stuff behind, but our savings account is just not where I'd like for it to be right now. I can only hold out for a miracle or a sign from God for like two weeks more, you know?

Back to the workout, we're going to do cardio three times a week, and some weights on days that we're not doing cardio. Today is the first day of the workout and we had to brave high winds and low air temperature, so running one mile felt like one and a half.

I just hope that I'm not going to be slowing my friend down, she's a lot more fit than I am. We'll see how it goes.

If you are reading this, my friend, I wanted to say that you and your hubby have been a pleasant suprise to both me and my GF in this semi-stimulating place called the Midwest. Good friends are hard to find!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The phrase of the new year

is moving on.

What has been going on

Just taking a little break from filing out this ass-long application packet for the US postal inspection service. A bit of a long story about why I'm applying to be a postal inspector...again, back in 02', I had heard about the postal inspection service from someone who was working with the GF at the time. Once of GF's collegues was dating someone who was a postal inspector and told the GF a lot about her GF's job. I never did meet that particular postal inspector, but I did have enough interest gathered to take the test for it. There are three tests that one needs to take before they'll even consider hiring you, and I passed the first two, but not the final one.

Maybe because they are short on agents, if you didn't do well on the last test, you have a chance to retake it in one year's time, or you'll have to start the process all over again. I got deployed to Iraq (what a crazy time that was!) and didn't even think about re-applying for the job again until quite recently. I had just mentioned it in passing to the GF and a friend at work and they all suggested that I write a letter explaining why I couldn't take the retest and see if they'll let me take it again.

So I sent the letter away and almost 2 months later, I get a certified envelope from the inspection service, stating that I have 7 days to fill out and mail back the application packet in order to have a chance at retest. So, working at a almost break-neck pace, I'm going to send the packet away tomorrow and hope for the best.

It's a long shot, it always has been. Looking at my job history, I've held so many mcjobs that it's not even funny. I'm hoping that someone up there is rooting for me. I think it'll help a lot.

The poor GF have to wake up at 4 in the morning so she can get to her class by 6. I think she'll do really well overall, she has always been very smart and intuitive.

Now I must get back to my application packet...ugh!

Monday, January 02, 2006

Changing things.....

Hello everyone! Just got back from winter break and the weather in Austin, Houston, and Dallas were all nice, imagine running around in flip flops in December, while it has been raining and cold in KC.

The GF took the dog with her to her parents' in Dallas and even though she got to see the cute nephew and ate some whataburgers, her mom's addiction to talking non-stop is worth anyone's sympathy. She (the mom) means well, but you just have to be there for about 24 hours and you'll see (or feel) what I mean!

I spent about a week in Houston, and I'm glad to see that my grandparents have been doing better physically than the last time that I saw them. They're still not really up to speed physically, and they'll probably never be, but I'm glad at least none of them are in the hospital, you know?

It wasn't all smooth sailing though, I had a huge fight with my sister over how things have changed. My grandparents' illnesses has put a lot of strains on everyone in the family, and my way of coping with the aftermath is to kind of keep a bit of a distance between myself and everyone in my family, and I suspect that it also might have spilled over to my own relationship with the GF. I got mad with my sister because she became more attentive to the family and became the favorite and in a weird kind of way was "rubbing it in". (She basically was reaping the rewards of her attentiveness, and deservedly so.) By the way, this favoritism thing is and has been something that's kind of underlying between my sister and I in relation to dealing with our grandparents. Now, I've come to admit that.

Now for the other end of the familial problem, I've got a uncle from my father's side who has been nothing but helpful to me as I was growing up, now that doesn't mean that he has been in full support of me and my GF. (That's a whole other horrific story.) He (the uncle) married this lady and they've got 3 kids, who are in their teens now. In the beginning, his wife and I were friendly, then a few years ago, something changed and I guess she really hates me now. No, she's not pelting me with rocks whenever I'd show up to see my grandparents, but she does this thing where she just will not acknowledge my presence. I guess she either got mad or jealous from my uncle having spent so much time in care of my grandparents and caring about my sister and I, or something happened that made her really bitter, I mean, if you saw her from a distance, without even knowing her, she looks miserable.

I've basically adjusted to that display of attitude, I just started to pretend that she wasn't there too. I noticed that she'd be really friendly to my sister whenever we're both around, and it's tolerable but irritating to say the least.

So we've got this really interesting but annoying dynamic going on here. My grandparents may be old, but they're not dumb and they could see/sense the tension between my aunt and I, my uncle for having to serve two masters, his wife and his parents, and my sister, for now suffering from the mistake that she had made in picking a mate more out of not wanting to be alone than anything else. I thought about e-mailing my uncle about all this, but I haven't yet, because who'll really change? He's not going to talk to his wife about her attitude because she'll just bite his head off, and why accomodate to the way I wanted to feel when I'm hardly ever there at home in the first place? I know, that's a lame excuse.

My sister and I eventually talked out our differences, but I'm sure that won't be the end. We're catching up on years worth of differences, you see, we didn't exactly grow up together. We do have on common goal though, and that is to try not to make our grandparents worry too much over us. They're old and tired, and there are some stuff that they just don't need at this point in their lives.

On a lighter note, I did get to eat lots of good Chinese and Taiwanese food though, not to mention some really good local Austin favorites!

I flew up to Austin from Houston to meet up with the GF, not only the plane was late but this one beefy male flight attendant was giving me the attitude, it was like reverse-air rage and of course I did what every concerned customer would do, I called the airline and reported him. I doubt anything would be done in terms of any sort of customer complaint follow through action, but I do hope for him painful and explosive ass-explosions. :-)

We took it easy in Austin, shopped for GF's snow boots, took the dog to his beloved Greenbelt dog park and watched him run himself with joy, until exhausion. We slept in late, ate some really good foods, and even got our tarot cards read at bookpeople, this local book seller. That same guy read for us about 3 years ago. He said that the GF is going to embark on a new career (he's right), and the world belongs to her. I got the death card, indicating change, and I hope it's for the better!

I checked online while on vacation for my pay stub and found that "they" jacked with my pay again, and I think that was the key to helping me decide that I've got to do something different with this job thing. Don't get me wrong, this current job is great, but unless I can get a civilian equivalent of my position there, my pay will never increase unless I get a military promotion, to which I've still got a year before I'm eligible for. So here it goes with the job searches for the new year!

I want to compliment my GF because she has put up with so much from me, and I want to wish her good luck with her new learning/job endeavor. I really suck at expressing how much I love her but I'm trying!