May 3, 2007

CH6 The TVC Tutoring Program

Filed under: Creating, MiniNovel, publishing, TVC, Writing — techish @ 1726 UTC

Helping in classes other than the ones I was officially taking lead to people asking for help outside of class. I began to hang out in the computer labs to help people and this led to awareness that there was a need for tutors in the labs. I don’t recall exactly how it officially came about, but I was offered a student job as a the lab tutor. Since I was spending all my time there anyway, I suppose this was the natural progression of things. I was grateful , however, that I could make a little money doing this now – but that brings out a whole new layer of professionalism in me. When I’m getting paid to do something, I of course take it much more seriously when I am merely volunteering.

The tutoring program took on somewhat a life of its own. There was more demand than I had available hours. There were others in the same program that I was in who also had skills and who were also being targeted for help by other students. I bean to approach them and the director about opening up more positions for more tutors. It was sort of a whirlwind romance in the sense that the more help that was available to other students, the more they wanted, and not all of the help that was needed was just in the areas of which I’d become fairly knowledgeable in, those that focused on graphics, desktop publishing, and web design. There was a need for help in computer hardware and software, networking, MS Office applications, basic computer skills, portfolio preparations.

I was hired in that student position in September 2000. When I left the tutoring program in August 2001 to teach, there were six other student tutors and the labs were manned with at least one tutor, Monday through Friday 10am to 6pm and for at least four hours on Saturdays. I was so proud of being a part of that. Not because of what I got to contribute, but proud of how so many other fellow students and myself were able to come together to offer those hours and the help students wanted, but also extremely proud of TVC for supporting that program the way they did. It showed beyond even a glint of a shadow that TVC really cares about its students and their success.


CH5 Assisting the Instructor

Filed under: Creating, MiniNovel, publishing, TVC, Writing — techish @ 1651 UTC

I’d taken quite a liking to a couple of my instructors. I not only liked their classes, I wanted to more of their classes, more of their instruction, more of their knowledge! The sad part however is that many of the classes offered only offer a beginning. There’s no next step. The only way I would be able to gain more from these instructors would be to either become one of those leachy students that cling like a 3rd grader begging for attention; like the 5th grader with a crush on the teacher, or to find a way to be near them while they teach their classes to other students. Well, I couldn’t relate in either of those scenarios first, but I somehow knew that I couldn’t let them slip away – so I began asking if I could set in on their classes if there were open seats.

Both were very open to the idea, and it’s my nature to help others whenever I can, whether I’m supposed to or not, so setting in on the classes naturally led to me helping out during in class assignments, tasks, etc. It never failed that I continued to learn from the other students, from the instructors, and even from myself while helping others. I really grew to look forward to these opportunities as much as I did my own classes.

Eventually this led to guest teaching some topics and even substitute teaching. I’ll never forget the first time one of my previous instructors, who by now had become more like friends (even though I secretly put them on plateaus as my personal mentors whom I would emulate as much as possible) asked me to substitute teach. For them it’s no big deal because they’ve been doing this a while. For me this was huge – as somewhere deep inside I still couldn’t let go of that person voted most likely to fail and be worthless by some of the most prominent people in my teen years. Who knows why we allow things like that to become so deep-rooted that even two decades later they still hold us back, but in some sense, we all have demons in out past. And those are mine. I took substitute teaching very seriously. I also knew that is was only for one class, one three hour period of time, so there was no pressure to perform again the next week, only the pressure to deliver the proper information in a timely fashion, and by now I’d heard it so many times it was actually me parroting information with a few of my own interjections. But it still felt important.

I haven’t yet nailed this chapter down… as it’s very difficult to portray how much that meant to me and how much that really molded me, without getting off into some deep philosophic rosie-isms. I will certainly need to consult an editor before this chapter will be fit for consumption by others!

CH4 Third Semester (Fall)

Filed under: Creating, MiniNovel, publishing, TVC, Writing — techish @ 1612 UTC

I found myself more than happy to be in classes. I was more than happy to do the homework and then some. I was hungry! I was starting! I couldn’t get enough. I just couldn’t believe that I was actually good at this. Man, if I’d just known back in high school that I was capable of this, I might have actually gone somewhere. Oh wait a minute – I DID go somewhere. I went all over the country; from coast to coast and corner to corner. I spent sever years in the US Air Force as an Aerospace Medical Tech and Flight Surgeon Assistant, and had every intention of saying there a full twenty years. But as the Styx song says, “Nothing ever goes as planned; It’s a hell of a notion.”

Those facts in that last paragraph passed through my mind and often lingered for hours on end throughout this whole semester. As time went on those thought s gradually faded away, but it was during this semester that I really had to accept that my USAF career was cut short and there was no getting it back. I’d had a measly 7 out of 20 years and dwelling on it wouldn’t bring it back. I had to focus on this new venture and the new opportunities it would open for me.

I’d barely just begun, but it was very apparent to me that what I would learn in college was still only a beginning. If I really a future in this field, I was going to have to put in just as many hours outside of the classrooms and required homework; if not twice as much. And for the first time in my life – I was really okay with that.

May 2, 2007

CH3 Summer Classes

Filed under: Creating, MiniNovel, publishing, TVC, Writing — techish @ 942 UTC

After my first semester at TVC I’d found or maybe rekindled my love of learning. I’d messed around with Adobe Illustrator some on my own, but as with all Adobe products, the self learning curve is very steep. There was a course up on The Hill using Photoshop and Illustrator. It was literally shocking to me that I was so ‘into it’ when I’d had so many reservations about going back to school. I spent a little time on campus that summer just because I could, and I felt incredibly out of place. But it felt like something I really needed to experience… to feel the awkwardness but stay and take part anyway. This was a short semester so this will be a short chapter, but I learned a lot about myself that summer. The biggest challenge with this chapter was trying to recap those thoughts and feelings as I wasn’t yet blogging or journaling, so I have no written record to refer to. Writing this chapter I had to revisit the campus. I still felt that same awkward, out-of-place ness; I always feel that way up there.

CH2 First Semester

Filed under: Creating, MiniNovel, publishing, TVC, Writing — techish @ 852 UTC

If I can narrow down Ch1 properly then this chapter may not be necessary, but since my #1 goal here is to produce something that’s enjoyable and meaningful to read, it also aims to inspire others in the same boat even of the vessel itself is of another shape or size. In other words, I have to work hard to balance the “about life” with the “about classes”, because I believe they’re equally important. I want to show that someone who has serious problems can still press forward. Whether they be mental, medical, emotional, scheduling, familial, whatever – the issues that may be holding one back should be incorporated instead of empowered.

This chapter speaks of those first classes. What it felt like to willingly enter a classroom for the first time in my life. Those odd feelings that came with being a student again, while part of me still had not truly let go of being a soldier. The anticipation as well as doubt that came with wondering if I was making the right decision – to pursue this computer stuff when I had all those years of extensive medical training under my belt. Was it right to just throw that away? Was I throwing it away, or was I just letting it fall by the wayside while in pursuit of something I would be even better at? It was a very exciting yet uncertain time.

This chapter will also sing the praises of the impact those first instructors / professors / teachers can have on a student. The hardest thing about this chapter is to keep it sincere and inspirational to the reader without gushing and oozing! That’s harder than it sounds because I think very highly of those folks even now.

CH1 Necessary Learning

Filed under: Creating, MiniNovel, publishing, TVC, Writing — techish @ 813 UTC

If I’m following the General/TOC information (see pages) then by this time the history of how I came to TVC has already been explained. This chapter addresses what I’ve taught myself and how, and more importantly it describes how I came to realize that I’d gone as far as I could on my own and that enrolling in college was the only logical next step.

The first meaty chapter may begin something like this:

Time by myself was just what I needed after leaving the Air Force, but almost two years alone in my little dry cabin with my two big dogs was enough. Therapy had progressed enough that I felt I could handle some exposure to people. I’d taught myself all I could using the Internet’s many avenues of information, using Netscape to create HTML pages and Photoshop to create images for the volunteer job I had with Grief Net. Grief Net is a Grief support site which I’d gotten involved with creating memorial images for individuals in memory of their recently lost loved ones. This had been very helpful to me personally as well, since I was still mourning the loss of my own children. But my images took up vast amounts of valuable hard storage space and they were extremely raw as art from a passionate novice often is. It was time to get professional instruction. I needed to know more about this machine I was working on so I didn’t have to call tech support every time I hit a snag in operations. I wanted to know more about the applications I was using and I wanted to learn how to build websites for real, not just images that resemble websites. I’d tapped out my knowledge base. I didn’t even know the questions to ask, let alone how or where to ask them.

But the idea of going back to school, at my age (32 at the time), terrified me. High School was hell. I was an awful student, and the idea of being back in classrooms with those who were smart enough to go to college right after high school, was enough to make me consider spending the rest of my life alone in that cabin. Alas, I knew that was not the answer.

The rest of the chapter talks of how I decided on TVC after speaking to an advisor on main campus. Before I even had to face classes on The Hill I knew that was the place for me to begin my education. It goes on to speak of my first meetings with the director of the program, my need to be upfront with those first instructors, and how someone who is bipolar and suffering from sever panic attacks with agoraphobia comes to the decision to dive into the deep end, head first, by registering for full time classes right out of the gates. At the time, I knew that baptism by fire was the only way to go for me.

This first chapter is much more about the how, why, and who that in is about any of the classes I took. That semester was truly the single most important in the nine years I’ve been attending.


Filed under: Creating, MiniNovel, publishing, TVC, Writing — techish @ 709 UTC

Chapter one proved to be the hardest of all. I want to give a brief history of where I am coming from that leads to my decision to start college, but the chapter should be essentially about how one decides at 32 to go back to school. Or – rather – how when one has never been to college – it’s not really going *back* as much as it is starting over – almost like going to school for the first time. Because at this point in life — everything we think we know about going to school doesn’t apply. What is in our heads is memories of what grade school and high school were like — and college is nothing like that. Yet, because that is all we have to draw from — some of those feelings are still there – and I had to remind myself constantly, “This is college; those people aren’t going to be here and college isn’t like that.”

That brought the question to mind, “What is a Preface?” You know, that section at the beginning of the book that you (I) never read because it’s titled Preface instead of Chapter 1. Is that where the lead in history goes? What is the Preface for exactly? I’m not sure… And why is the Preface often written by someone else? Does that make it an endorsement? Is the Preface intended to give the author credibility by finding someone already highly regarded to write it for the author? How does one find someone to write their Preface? Wouldn’t that feel like asking someone for a Letter of Recommendation (LOR)? I’ve never felt comfortable asking anyone for an LOR, whether I deserved one or not. Maybe that comes from my own upbringing where we were taught that you don’t brag on your own abilities, “If you’re so damned good, then people will know that, you don’t tell them you’re good.” Those are the words of my father. And that’s how I’ve viewed an LOR. Or does someone contact the author of a book saying, “I’d like to write the Preface to your book.”? I don’t know –

It’s difficult (thus far) to find clear and trustworthy explanations and definitions of the anatomy of a book. There are a lot of instructions for how to write a story book or how to write an autobiography… but this venture would be but a single chapter in the light of my life story….

That is why Chapter 1’s title is still to come… because I’m not yet sure of Ch1 should be the history leading up to my start at TVC…. or if Ch1 should be my start at TVC… of course… since this is not yet determined.. then Ch2 might be Ch3… and Ch3 might be Ch4… but you get the idea!

April 30, 2007

The Hardest Part of Any Assignment…

Filed under: Creating, TVC, Writing — techish @ 1556 UTC

The hardest part of any assignment is getting started!  I’ve come up with a dozen title options, and design ideas, and I have written a few hunred pages in the opast couple attampts at this little book. Free written drafts at best, but there is ink on paper… er… text on screen! Trying to disect it and reassemble it into something worthy of sharing is a whole other story!

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