Continuing Education in Fits and Starts

lungsAnd now that I have a little distance from the recent class I took at the University of Scranton, I’ll tell you some more about it…

I was concerned, you see, that the instructor might ask for my site’s URL, and maybe even display it on the screen in front of the group.  So, I figured it would probably be a good idea to keep my virtual mouth shut for a while.  But the statute of limitations must surely be expired by now, right?  Right.

The first week I was late, because I couldn’t find the parking garage.  The school sent me a pass to hang off my rear view mirror, along with a warning that I was to park on level two of a certain garage, or my car would be seized, crushed, set aflame, and returned to me.  And I can’t have that.

They also sent an informational flier, with directions to the garage.  And a worst set of instructions I don’t think I’ve ever encountered.  They had me doing turns, doubling back, putting my left foot in, putting my left foot out, etc. etc.  But once I finally got there, I realized it was almost a straight shot from my house.

What in the cafeteria-style hell?!  Those directions could’ve been two simple lines of type, instead of a whole sheet of paper.  Academics:  making the understandable complex!

So, I was late and running through the snow on my first day of class in twenty years.  I felt like an idiot.  Plus, the streets were slick and I almost earned myself a horizontal buttcrack, to go with the vertical one.

But I finally got there, and rode the elevator up to the fourth floor.  I heard the class already in session as I approached, and every head turned when I walked through the door.  Excellent.

The instructor, a man in his mid-fifties I’d guess, told me to pick a PC or a Mac, and handed me a thick textbook.  And once I was finally settled in my seat, I took a look around and saw there was only four of us.  Four students, and one instructor.  Huh, I could’ve sworn there’d been at least twenty people shooting me dirty looks as I clomped into the room.

We were asked to introduce ourselves to the class, and I mumbled some kind of nonsense down the front of my collar.  Then the woman next to me spoke.  And spoke, and spoke some more.  Obviously, this is a person who enjoys talking about herself.

She told us she was taking the class because she owns a small-business, but knows nothing about her website.  She said she’s afraid her webmaster might be “blowing smoke up the pretty blonde’s skirt.”

So, she pontificated for what seemed like thirty minutes, called herself pretty(!), thought she was cute, and coughed her lungs inside-out.  Did she have tuberculosis?  It was certainly a possibility.  And the rest of us just stared straight ahead, with no expressions on our faces.

When the teacher suggested we make “copy and paste” our friends during the two-day course, ol’ TB Mary shouted, “And how do you do that?!”

“How do you do what?” he asked.

“How do you copy and paste?”

There was an audible groan inside the classroom.  This woman was going to be high-maintenance…  She’d apparently done nothing with a computer, beyond Google searches for “the cast of Twilight pitchers.”  And that cough!  Good God, it was terrifying.

The material was pretty easy during the first week, and I had no trouble keeping up.  The teacher was funny and interesting, so that probably helped.  Plus, I benefited from the dingbat to my left, who slowed everything to a crawl.

“Um, I think I did something wrong… tee hee,” was the standard refrain after each of our assignments.  Then the instructor had to spend the next five minutes trying to unravel the mess she’d made.

Lunch was provided by the school, at one of their fancy-pants cafeterias.  It was unbelievable.  They had chefs on-hand, carving turkeys and making stir-fry.  It was almost like the commissary at Warner Bros. studio.   I thought school cafeterias were about soggy pigs in the blanket with mustard packets?

While we were eating, someone asked about TB Mary; she hadn’t joined us for lunch.  The teacher said she’d gone to move her car to the parking garage.  “Well, I hope she’s not trying to do that and chew gum too,” the first guy said.  And we all laughed, including the Authority Figure.

During the second six-hour session, on the following Thursday, things got a little more complicated.  I started to realize HTML is a lot like math, and I probably don’t possess the necessary wiring to fully master it.

Source attributes… nested frame sets… hexadecimal colors…  this modifies that, but not always, and sometimes Y… I could feel myself glazing over, like I was at good ol’ Dunbar High again.

Our friend, Rumble Lungs, didn’t show up for the second class, and I think I might’ve actually pumped my fist in celebration.  Yeah, she provided cover for me, but also caused the sessions to be interrupted and herky-jerky.  What with her dumbassery, and all.

So, I was happy to see her chair empty.  But about thirty minutes into it we all heard what sounded like a person vomiting into an upright ashtray, somewhere off in the distance.  No!  Please God, don’t let it be…

And she came waltzing in, her face all contorted by deep-coughing, carrying a laptop that looked like it had been under a bed since August 2003.  The thing was completely covered in dust, and had what looked like chocolate milk spilled all over it.

Why would a person bring a computer to a roomful of computers?!  It made no sense to me, but she explained at length (relishing her time in the spotlight) that she’ll feel more comfortable on her own machine, and will probably make fewer mistakes.

So the teacher stopped the class and helped get her laptop up and running, while the rest of us waited and rolled our eyes.  Finally he told her to create a new folder on her desktop, and returned to the front of the class.

“How do you do that?” she whined.  “How do you create a new folder?”  And I looked over at one of the other guys, who appeared to be on the verge of a murder/suicide.

I know it’s only continuing education, but there needs to be at least some cursory screening for those classes.  I mean, seriously.  I paid $275, and feel like I was deprived of an hour, possibly more, of instruction.  The chick was dumm — and needed to see a physician about her incessant, phlegm-spangled, deep-lung cough.  Holy shit!

But overall, I enjoyed the experience.  The other two guys were cool, the instructor was excellent, and I liked being around creative people with ambition for a change.  I don’t get to experience that much, where I currently earn my living.  Ahem.

I’m thinking about buying a copy of Dreamweaver, using the substantial student (ha!) discount, and taking a couple more classes there.  Starting with Dreamweaver Basics.

If I wait until next quarter ol’ Sanitarium Bags should be out of the system (she was planning to take Dreamweaver in February), and I’ll probably be safe.

But there’s one in every class isn’t there?  Somehow I know this, instinctively.  It’s true, isn’t it?  Sweet sainted mother of Bonnie Franklin…

I’ll leave you now with the simplest of Questions.  I do this every couple of years, and it’s been at least that long since last time.  I’d like to know where you are:  in what city are you reading today’s update?  And, if you’d like, also give us a one-word description of it.

And that’s that.  I have extracurricular obligations tomorrow, and won’t be able to update.  So, unless I get a wild hair and do something over the weekend, I’ll see you guys on Monday.

Have a great weekend, my friends.

Now playing in the bunker.

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So, who is this guy?

Thanks for stopping by! My name is Jeff Kay, I was born while JFK was president, and it's all very embarrassing and corny. Today I'm a suburban husband and father, who is sometimes accused of being a bit tightly-wound. The West Virginia Surf Report! is my creative outlet, and insurance policy against completely losing my shit. I hope you'll stick around and participate in the lively community of geniuses and curmudgeons who hang out here every day. I love a full 87% of them! And while you're at it, please follow me at Twitter and Facebook.

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