Posts tagged “Rant

The Past is History…

…the future is a mystery, but today…
today is a gift.
That’s why we call it the present.

Oogway (Randall Duk Kim), Kung Fu Panda

One thing I hear a lot—one thing I’m sure all astrologers hear a lot—is that astrology is fake. The trouble is that the “evidence” they use to draw these conclusions isn’t very sound in itself.

 

“Astrology isn’t (and/or can’t be) scientifically proven!”

Sorry, but how many people on this planet believe in some deity (any deity) whose existence can’t be scientifically proven, yet churches, mosques and temples still dot the world…? (Also, can I find a calculator that can count that high? •chuckle•)

Based on Wikipedia (and I’m referencing that because of too many individual citations), and excluding secular and those that don’t believe in a specific deity or group of deities (such as UUs, who emphasize knowledge), that number is something in the nature of 6.9 billion people. And that doesn’t even include agnostics, who generally believe there’s some sort of deity, but not much beyond that.

That’s more than ninety percent of the planet that believes in something you can’t replicate scientifically.

And you laugh at me for believing in astrology, the numbers of whom are probably a great deal smaller?

‘Scuse me while I laugh right back!

Astrology can’t predict shit!

Isn’t it interesting…

❧ …how a meteorologist can make a prediction based on available evidence and it’s called “a weather forecast”;
❧ …how a scientist can make a prediction based on available evidence (and sometimes not, depending on what they’re studying) and it’s called “a hypothesis”;
❧ …but an astrologer can make a prediction based on available evidence and it’s called “fake”?

So who died and made skeptics the authority on the difference between a hypothesis and bullshit?

 

(I was going to write at least a medium-length rant on how the future is malleable and no one gets it right and so forth, but I think I’ve said quite enough.) (Except I forgot about pointing out that there was a time where generals and kings never went to war without consulting an astrologer, and even saints practiced it once upon a time—check out Saint Augustine.)

The stuff in the newspaper/magazines…

…is pretty much junk and I wonder why they even bother publishing it?

I think most people get the idea that astrology is fake from these alone, and—to be quite honest—I don’t blame them.

 

What you see in periodicals is your sun sign (that I refer to by the Greek name of Helios), which most say describes your inner self. The reason that it never feels like the whole you is because it has never. Once. DEPICTED THE WHOLE YOU!

Even by itself, it doesn’t tell you enough, because where Helios is in the sky (or not, in the case of night births) also factors into your personality. If you’re lucky enough to meet two people who were born hours apart, you can see dramatic differences even without their charts. I went to school with a guy who was born approximately three hours earlier and we were as different as night and day! (Bit of a pun there, since being born in January means there was a literal difference of night and day.)

Depending on what the astrologer puts into their charts, we’re looking at steadily decreasing percentages of the whole picture:

❧ The luminaries are always present – the sun (Helios) and Earth’s moon (Selene)
❧ Modern and Hellenistic (ancient Greek) include the original planets (and exclude us): Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn
❧ The former also includes Uranus, Neptune and Pluto (unlike NDT, we actually consider Pluto viable!)
❧ Western astrologers usually include the ascendant [eastern horizon], the midheaven [zenith], the descendant [western horizon] and the lower heaven [nadir]. (I’ll be referring to these as the four vertices below.)
❧ Not to mention asteroids, Arabic lots (including the Part of Fortune and the Part of Spirit), the North/South Node and whatever else they want to throw up there

The average Hellenistic chart uses 2 luminaries + 5 planets + Part of Fortune + 4 vertices, which equals 1/12 (8.3%).

Even though I’ve been working on that form lately, I use 2 luminaries + 8 planets + 4 vertices in my basic charts, which equals 1/14 (7.14%).

At the most extreme is everything I mentioned above: 2 luminaries + 8 planets + 2 nodes + 2 basic lots (Spirit and Fortune) + the 4 “most important asteroids” (Ceres, Juno, Pallas and Vesta, who I guess were all planets for thirty-seven years) + 4 vertices = 1/22 (4.54%)

Good grief!

If you could only read 4.54% of a book, watch 7.14% of a movie or 8.3% of a television show, wouldn’t you think it’s absolute crap too?

Let’s break that down (and round up) using popular media:

❧ 5% of The Hunger Games is 19.3 pages of the print version. (I don’t know about you, but I make my decision within the first fifty pages, if not sooner.) In my digital copy (with the font and margins set how I like), that doesn’t even get you to Effie drawing Prim’s name.
❧ A New Hope (Star Wars IV) is 121 minutes long. 7% of the movie is 8.47 minutes. Shockingly, that actually gets far enough to introduce you to Vader, Leia and the droids! But not Luke or Han. And no lightsabers, either. (I skimmed through this video to the 8.5 minute mark to get an idea.)
❧ My new favorite competition show is Crime Scene Kitchen, which is an hour long. That’s only 4.8 minutes—barely longer than one of the commercial breaks!

If you can’t make a decision on something to read or watch with that small of a percentage, how is trying to adjudicate your future that way considered sane?


I could go on about how astrology isn’t fake because there is no such thing as a coincidence (but I’m too lazy to look up the calculations) and there’s often more than one significator in the sky when something big happens (Mercury rules transportation and was in retrograde during the Miracle on the Hudson, but not during the Challenger disaster, which means something else was going on), but I don’t have the patience.

And none of that would convince the skeptics, anyway.


This Amendment Will Not Run and Hyde

Here is the letter to the editor that spurred this editorial, and the short version for when I finally delete the image is that a local pastor (and known homophobe) is concerned that a forty-seven year old budget addendum is suddenly not going to be included anymore, despite surviving this long.

Below is the properly cited edition of my response, complete with formatting, (possibly) more pictures, links…and the last paragraph, since I kind of feel like they’re going to take it out, feeling it’s an attack on men.

What is the Hyde Amendment?

A follow-up to Roe v Wade 410 U.S. 113 (1973) that, “…blocks federal funds from being used to pay for abortion outside of the exceptions for rape, incest, or if the pregnancy is determined to endanger the woman’s life…” (Salganicoff et al., 2021—hereon referred to the Kaiser Family Foundation, or KFF, outside citations). The amendment has never become law, according to KFF; rather, it is a rider appended to the appropriations bill for the Department of Health and Human Services each year.

Is it true that President Biden wants Congress to stop adding the rider?

While the president made such a statement during the 2020 campaign season (Salganicoff et al., 2021), the decision is not ultimately up to him. KFF says, “While campaigning during the 2020 presidential election, President Joseph R. Biden called for the removal of the Hyde Amendment from congressional appropriations bills. While the president may have a position opposing the Hyde Amendment, any change to the policy would require approval by Congress.” (Salganicoff et al., 2021) Meaning that—theoretically—as long as there are lawmakers who are against the government paying for abortion, the Hyde Amendment will continue to be enacted if said lawmakers can find sufficient support.

 

The next question is not in my original draft because I didn’t think about it until after submission. (Plus, they cap you out at three hundred words.)

Doesn’t Biden have the power to veto the Hyde Amendment if (say) Joni Ernst were to add it to the budget and garner enough support to get it passed?

CIVICS LESSON!

The president has ten days to make a decision on any bill as presented to him by Congress (excluding Sundays), at which point, he can sign off on a general veto or simply pocket it. (Line item vetos were discontinued in 1998; more on that in a minute. [Historian of the U.S. House of Representatives, 2021])

A general veto requires the president to return the bill in the ten day period, often writing a note expressing his disapproval. (And it has to be within ten days, or it will automatically become law. [Historian, 2021]) Pocket vetos, conversely, are sat on by the president until Congress adjourns. In that case, the adjournment has to be session and not vacation, as the court system has repeatedly supported Congress on that issue (Historian, 2021).

Continuing to use Senator Ernst as our pro-life example, if Biden were to veto a budget bill with the Hyde Amendment attached, the Historian writes that the senator would have to muster a ⅔ majority in both chambers in order to “veto the president’s veto” (2021).

As I mentioned in the first paragraph, the president can no longer kill the Hyde Amendment by itself and leave the budget bill intact, as decided in Clinton v. City of New York, 524 U.S. 417 (1998) (Cornell Law School, n.d.). In Clinton, the Supreme Court declared that President Clinton’s vetoes of portions of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 and the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 were unconstitutional after six members of Congress failed to persuade the District Court for the District of Columbia of the rightness of their case. (Cornell Law School, 1998)

Is Planned Parenthood the leading abortion provider in the United States?

PolitiFact agrees in a 2017 article that that is the case; however, it’s important to note that, “There’s no complete, centralized database that tallies abortions, much less breaks that number down by providers” (The Poynter Institute, 2017). Furthermore, Planned Parenthood’s 2019-2020 report (the most recent available) points out that only 3% of their services are abortion, while 52% centered around testing and treatment for STDs (Planned Parenthood, 2021). So unless Pastor Royston and his ilk are suddenly concerned with the “abortion” of chlamydia, HPV and others, there is no provable way to determine who racks up the most each year.

As for whether Planned Parenthood is “wealthy”, bear in mind that thirty-three states and the District of Columbia abide by the strictures set out by the Hyde Amendment, leaving women no choice but to use low-cost providers. In sixteen other states, the Department of Health and Human Services (or whatever each state may call it) has its own budget allotment for abortions, which means that low-cost clinics may not make as much money (Salganicoff et al., 2021).

What probably won’t survive is the question of how many men are in Congress.

Why is this important? A complaint I’ve heard time and again is that male lawmakers are pushing laws that make decisions about female bodies without any consideration toward women’s autonomy. Sure, it’s not their fault that 75% of the Senate and 75% of the House is made up of men (for a total of 405 [Congressional Research Service, 2020]), it’s their constituents’; but when you consider that any man has any power at all to make decisions about women’s bodies, the idea is galling.

 

For more information about the Hyde Amendment, select the KFF link in the references section.


References

Congressional Research Service. (2020, December 4). Women in Congress: statistics and brief overview. Federation of American Scientists. https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R43244.pdf

Cornell Law School. (1998, June 28). Clinton v. City of New York (97-1374). LII / Legal Information Institute. https://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/97-1374.ZO.html

Cornell Law School. (n.d.). Line-item veto. LII / Legal Information Institute. https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/line-item_veto

Historian of the U.S. House of Representatives. (2021, January 1). Presidential vetoes. US House of Representatives: History, Art & Archives. Retrieved June 19, 2021, from https://history.house.gov/Institution/Presidential-Vetoes/Presidential-Vetoes/

Planned Parenthood. (2021). Planned Parenthood 2019-2020 annual report. https://www.plannedparenthood.org/uploads/filer_public/67/30/67305ea1-8da2-4cee-9191-19228c1d6f70/210219-annual-report-2019-2020-web-final.pdf

The Poynter Institute. (2017, May 15). Glenn Grothman says planned parenthood is leading abortion provider. PolitiFact. https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2017/may/15/glenn-grothman/glenn-grothman-says-planned-parenthood-leading-abo/

Salganicoff, A., Sobel, L., & Ramaswamy, A. (2021, March 5). The Hyde Amendment and coverage for abortion services. Kaiser Family Foundation. https://www.kff.org/womens-health-policy/issue-brief/the-hyde-amendment-and-coverage-for-abortion-services/


Confessions of the Giftless

or: “I was a Fraud, Therefore, Everyone Else Must be, Too”

I recently reread this article after first encountering it over a year ago, and I must say, the idiocy is astonishing. It’s like…you have no gift so you decided to smear the rest of us? Why the hell did you even start if you didn’t care about what you were doing? If you want to play party games, play party games—don’t make a profession out of something that you don’t actually give a damn about.

Here’s some of the crap The Guardian saw fit to print:

I started off with the cards, but then I found out reading people was just as effective.
Congratulations! Cold reading is exactly what bullshitters like you do. Are you proud of yourself for figuring that one out?

I discovered that most of the time, people didn’t want their future told, they just wanted a listening ear.
So are you telling us that you practiced therapy without a license under the guise of fortunetelling? Did you really just admit to breaking the law? ‘Cause that’s what I’m hearing. (Once or twice is being friendly. Doing it every damn day with most—if not all—of your clients is dangerously close to therapy.)

♑☉ + ♌asc + ♐☾

Astrology is just a word association game. It’s not that hard.
No, but your brain apparently is—only an extremely dense person would think it’s “easy”.

She’s apparently never read through an astrologer’s Twitter feed. It’s a completely different language, with different dialects based on what kind of astrology the person uses.

I don’t know why astrology follows a geocentric model when everyone else went to heliocentric centuries ago.
Because it’s based on what’s in the night sky, you bafflingly brainless bitch! You don’t calculate conjunctions, oppositions, trines, etcetera of the Earth because you’re riding on it!

Just like when we manage to colonize the moon or Mars or whatever, some software developer is going to have to remove the celestial object we’re riding on at the time and replace it with Earth. Only then will the Earth have aspects to the other luminaries.


I hope my future commentary on astrology (and divination) will be a lot better. Hopefully I won’t run into any more morons!

 

Note from 120520: after being introduced to my astrology software, I’ve since learned that a heliocentric model is used for some calculations. However, this woman was complaining about it in terms of “everyone and their brother knows the Earth revolves around the sun”. (Not to mention that a woman who thinks astrology is about “word association” sure as hell isn’t going to be doing complicated heliocentric calculations!)


Welcome to the Drama (partes 1-7)

Honestly, I don’t remember when the first part of this began, so it’s just easier to say there have been seven and go from there.

It became clear from the start that literary theory wasn’t going to be an easy class—and not in the least because the professor and my advisor both said it was the most difficult class in the entire program!

I’ll save you the vast majority of the heartbreak, though (or maybe I’m saving myself), and just fast forward you to the present as best I can.

(I’m also going to warn that this is a rageblog up front. I’m only a few sentences in and I can feel it coming! And it’s a long one.)

I had originally said sometime back that Southern New Hampshire was going to be my last stop on the grad school train, and whether I passed, failed or simply gave up, I’d clear the board1 when I was done, and that would be the end of my educational career.

So I have no clue why I was trying to dip my toe in the water at my alma mater in case I failed Southern, especially since I have very little interest in public health. (Maybe in terms of epidemiology, but not the field as a whole.) Perhaps it was the crazy idea that it would be all over in a year and I’d have a shiny new masters for my trouble?

Yeah, it was crazy alright, but more than I understood.

And I’m about to make it weirder by using my Yelp review to tell the story (with my commentary in Verdana). But rather than initials and Greek letters, I’ll make up names.


Our Players

Sam: the admissions rep that first made contact with me

Catherine: the admissions rep that I talked to briefly one day when Sam wasn’t available

Sally: the admissions rep that actually ended up working with me

Janet: a random admissions rep that randomly horned in on Sam, Catherine and Sally on Monday

Olivia: Sam, Catherine, Sally and Janet’s supervisor. The head of admissions (I think)

Tammy: works in the financial aid department

Liam: some sort of VP…I already forget his full title, because I pretty well blew off his sole email

Jeff: my academic advisor, who is also apparently the dean of students

Blake: some random guy with EU that called on Tuesday in place of Jeff

And, just in case we need them…

Michael: my advisor at Southern, who I’ve recently named my “school husband” (as opposed to “work husband”)

Sander: my therapist

 

Far be it for me to call my alma mater a scam, but this school has gotten really weird over the last decade. It’s like I found an old friend, but instead of being the nice person I knew, they’ve become nosy, secretive, forgetful and a liar.

If I had to guess, I’d say that after achieving regional accreditation in 2010, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools said, “Great! You’ve done the bare minimum to get here, but now you have lots more work to do.” I realize that doesn’t explain the weird stuff that EU was asking for if none of the other schools I’ve ever been to have done it, but it’s the best idea I’ve come up with.

First, and most importantly, is the lie that their master of public health program will only take a year. Four-week classes, just like when I was an undergrad. That’s what their website says [as of Tuesday], that’s what my admissions rep said…on Monday. Today [Tuesday], Sally agrees with Blake and says, “No, each class is two months.”

I was so surprised at this sudden change in information that I actually sat here and emailed Sally while I was on the phone with Blake!

Can y’all not count? Twelve classes times two months apiece is TWO YEARS! And they’re not going to double-up, because Everglades is famous for its “one class at a time” approach. (More about this shortly.)

That would explain why grad students only start on terms A and C (there are four per semester), but not why the school’s website says the degree takes one year! Plus, I don’t want to double-up! I’ve done it twice with two different schools and it’s a BITCH! (Any school that demands you take two classes per term/semester to keep your financial aid is out of its fucking mind. Find another!)

 

I have to pick up the narrative thread from the review for a minute.

When I first put out a request for information a month or so ago, Sam was the first person I talked to by email, with Olivia following up shortly after. She told me that Sam wasn’t available, but Catherine would be calling me at some point. (I don’t remember if I ever talked to Catherine on the phone, by the way.) I told all three of them the same thing: I look like I’m failing2, but I want to be completely sure, which is why Sam and I agreed to talk on August 31st.

Two weeks or so ago, I heard from Sally from the first time. She interrupted my nap (this is important to the story), we chatted for a few minutes, and I told her the same thing I’d told Sam, Catherine and Olivia.

That was it, until I filed a preliminary application with EU on Sunday (August 30).

Janet emailed me about scheduling a time to chat, and I also received an email from Liam, which I all but ignored because I was already making plans with Janet. We ended up agreeing on six.

About 2:20, Sally calls and I tell her about Janet emailing me. There’s a little (verbal) handwringing on her end, but I say (in so many words) that it’s bullshit, because she called me before Janet. She and I talk until about 2:50, at which point I have to get off the phone, because it’s time for a virtual session with Sander. (The low-cost clinic chain Sander works for is still not allowing its therapists to have offline visits.)

Sally calls again at 4:20 and there’s even more handwringing and many complaints of, “You’ve already talked to Janet and I don’t want to step on any toes…” She didn’t straight up say, “If I take Janet’s student, Olivia is going to be pissed,” but it sure as hell sounded like it.

Again, I try to tell her that it’s bullshit. I haven’t “talked” to Janet, we’ve merely emailed to setup a time to talk. If Olivia or someone has a problem with it, I have a papertrail to prove it.

“Setting up an appointment counts as talking,” Sally whinges, “And I don’t want to step on any toes.” (She literally kept saying that. I was getting tired of her using those words.)

“In that case, Sam or whatever his name is has priority over both of you! I talked to him first, then Olivia, then Catherine. Then you called me during my nap two weeks ago (you or Catherine…I didn’t catch a name) and I told you that Sam and I had agreed to talk today. If there’s any toe-stepping going on, it’s Janet’s fault!”

“Oh, yeah, I guess we did talk two weeks ago. Okay, I’ll tell them.” Olivia and Janet, I guess? No idea. Also no clue why Sam completely left the picture and Catherine isn’t even listed as an admissions rep. (But maybe she’s new…the guidebook I was reading was a year old.)

These dumbasses also tell each other absolutely nothing. I was on the phone for three fucking hours with Sally on Monday, answering questions for my "interview" (which I didn't know was coming) and handling general other things to get started.

When Blake called on Wednesday, he was starting to ask the exact. Same. Fucking. QUESTIONS!

As if that wasn't bad enough, when Tammy called to work on my finances on Tuesday, she whined that she couldn't get a hold of me.

Why?

Apparently in three hours of talking to me, Sally couldn't be fucked to update the system, so my mobile was listed as [two numbers ago], my work was listed as [toll free for library I was at a decade ago and never gave out] and there was no home number. (They also had a license number for me that was dead a good month before I started class with them in 2007.)

Oh, and they're also impatient little fucks: I hadn't even signed off on a transcript request yet and they were already calling my high school for a person that didn't exist outside of the internet back then! Didn't find out about that until someone called from the registrar's office complaining they couldn't find me. (*eye roll*)

think I can jump the review back in at this point:

 

Wednesday

This afternoon, Blake calls. (No idea who he was, because I was told my advisor was Jeff, who pulls double duty as the dean of students.) He [starts asking similiar questions to Sally's] and I give him dull answers. When I finally ask him why we’re scheduling an advising appointment for February if I start class in October, he says, “Do we have a problem?”

“Yeah, I’m starting to think this program has been SERIOUSLY misrepresented to me!”

I already had tears in my voice by the time I hung up.

Sally tried to call me ten minutes later, at which point I was already emailing her.

I yelled into the phone, "I don't want to talk to you!", and the dumb bitch barely waits five minutes to call back.

'Scuse you? "I don't want to talk to you" means that I, Dayanara Sanar Ryelle, do not wish to speak to you, "Sally [Surname]", because I am too worked up and because I'm already pouring out my feelings in an email.

You'd think she'd have given it twenty-four hours and then either answered my email or tried calling to see where we stood on me starting with them (especially as worried as she seemed to be about taking crap from Olivia), but it never happened.

[Paraphrasing this part.]

They also seem to be absolutely fantastic at losing important papers, or at least failing to read the email that they come in on.

At some point before Blake called, I heard from Sally.

"I asked you for two pieces of ID the other day. Where are they and where are your transcript requests and your timeline?"

"I sent you the two pieces of ID and the transcript request. I told you that the timeline file was corrupted. Did you bother to read the email?"

She went looking and found the ID, but complained that the only transcript request she saw was for undergrad.

Yes, they're so addlepated that they needed a transcript request to their own selves for my file. (A friend said it was for FERPA, but they'd already had me sign a FERPA release on Tuesday?)

"I told you in the email that I wasn't going to sign off on the high school transcript request with my deadname on it. They won't be able to find me and it'll be a waste of time."

Some babble about me changing it.

"Can't you change it?"

"No, you have to change it," or "it can't be changed" or some shit.

Seriously?  How hard is it to get a blank form and fill in the information I give you and send it off?

I think it was in response to the corrupted file that Sally said, "I've never heard of that."

Tough shit. I haven't heard of a ".numbers" file, either, but that's what you sent me and it's corrupt!

As if all this wasn't bad enough, they kept asking about shit they had no business knowing.

 

We need a copy of your driver's license and social security card.

Okay, putting your SSN on an application isn't unusual, but why do they need both when I'm an alumna? (If there's any lesson I've learned from all this, it's to be less complacent. Just because you think you know someone/a business/a school, doesn't mean you should get comfortable!)

We need your [high school] diploma and your transcripts.

I get not having my information on file after I've been gone a decade, but…why? Literally no other grad school has ever asked for my high school transcripts.

We need you to sign off on this warning that you're getting close to your max undergrad borrowing limit.

For grad school? (I think I asked about this one, and Tammy blew me off with, "It just a thing they make you do.")

How did you support yourself in 2018?

Why the fuck does it matter? What you need to know is on my FAFSA. What the government needs to know was on my tax return. Why do you think you deserve to know more than the IRS?

But who paid for your car, phone, utilities, etcetera?

I bought my car out of pocket. I don't pay for my phone. My dad pays for the utilities because they and the house are both in his name. I get food stamps.

Oh, well, you can't tell them [whoever "they" are] any of this, or they'll start asking awkward questions. Just say "N/A" for your car and say your dad pays for the rest.

 

Repeat after me: I do not need to know all this. It is none of my fucking business. As long as Dayanara has a safe, supportive home where she is loved and fed and her mental health issues are kept at bay, I have no reason to demand answers to questions that no one should be asking unless they are authorized representatives of the United States Social Security Administration or the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.


Petey says, "I knew you never meant to leave!"

Michael pulled my withdrawal request before it was processed, so my biggest concerns right now are:

1. My professional identity statement. I went looking for examples and found one from a therapist who went to Western…and it's basically a fancy biography (like something she might post to her Psychology Today listing, if she has one). I'm terrible at bios, and I'm not sure having instructions from a professor is going to help.

2. A new short story. I'm going to send my mom a link to this post, and I can already hear her saying, "You're creative, you'll think of something."

Which I'm pretty sure is momspeak for, "I have no clue. You're on your own, kid." (*chuckle*)

I also have to write a query letter for an appropriate publication for my story; but for some reason, that seems to be my least concern at the moment.

3. Did I screw up my invitation to ΣΤΔ? Theoretically, no, since my withdrawal was never processed, but we'll see. (If it arrives as fast as my NSLS invitation, it will be here on September 8.)

Thankfully, all of those seem pretty small in comparison to the stress of last term.

 

As for Sally? Ten to one, she'll finally call back after I've started term next week. (*eye roll*)


1There is a disability discharge available that would clear all my student loans, but it would also forbid me from ever going back to school again, since it’s nigh on impossible to do so without loans. So that’s why I call it clearing the board.

2If I had failed lit theory, I would’ve failed out of my program, as there was no other option except retaking it. And you know me—I’d never agree to a retake.


Last Week Right Now

Ordinarily, I'd fold a video a little further into my post, but I think it's important to start off with this one from John Oliver for a little background. The entire clip (eighteen minutes) is about standardized testing in general, but it's only the last eight or so that specifically pertain to me.

Last Week Tonight? Mmm…no. Try Last Week Right Now.

I hope you've never been under the impression that the people scoring your children's tests are experienced educators because—at least at Pearson—you'd be sadly mistaken. All they ask for is a bachelors and (probably) proof of citizenship. (I don't even remember if they ever interviewed me the first time.) Oh and the degree has to be in hand…I tried signing up in 2010, but since Everglades wasn't going to mail me my degree until after the project was over, they couldn't hire me.

(I'm not trying to put myself down by including this picture…just using it symbolically to mean "no one special". Incidentally, this was taken eight months after I finished my bachelors.)

John isn't wrong about how Pearson sources their staff, either. When I signed on eight years ago, it was after seeing an ad in the classifieds. (What is Craigslist other than a massive global classified section, anyway?) Despite the fact that I ended up leaving before the end of the project (more on that in a bit), they drew me from the lottery two more times, most recently at the beginning of the month.

 

I don't remember if I ever got a chance to state my preferences the first time. I'm guessing I did, because otherwise, I probably would've ended up with math a lot harder than third grade. I didn't get a chance to say I didn't want full time, though (I didn't know there was a part time option until I was actually there), so I had the wonderful luck to pry myself out of bed so I could be there at eight. I don't know how I ever made it without my anxiety freaking out, but maybe that's because it was saving itself for later…

We were packed almost elbow-to-elbow in what I think was a converted grocery store, because it still had the hydraulic door mats. I'd say there were five rows of five computers each, and then the sixth had three laptops for the supervisors, who sat facing us. The cafeteria—such as it was—was packed even tighter, and we had to take our breaks/meals in shifts because there were so many of us. We didn't have to ask permission to go to the bathroom, but that's probably because they kept it refrigerator cold (undoubtedly so we wouldn't linger).

I spent six. Fucking. Hours staring at triangles! It was supposed to be eight, but the guy to my right was a Pearson vet and warned me that if you didn't do things just so, they'd kick you to the curb so fast, your butt wouldn't have time to blister. My anxiety reared its ugly head so bad that I went home early and never went back.

 

My name came up in the lottery again in 2013 for the same fucking third grade Maryland triangles. I told them to get bent, but stupidly kept updating my application…which is how I got into this mess.

(The picture is a link to the relevant deviantArt page, by the way.)

(Also, new rule: if I use a permutation of “fuck” more than twice in a post where I’m relating something that happened to me, it’s automatically a rageblog.)


I got an email from Pearson April 2, with an offer to score ninth grade writing for the Texas STAAR, but I had to accept by the end of the day on the third. Thirty-two hours (or so) is a little tight, but I knew I wanted to take it, so it wasn't a problem. (Heck, I was so excited, I was doing a sort of "NO TRIANGLES!" dance! 😂)

Next phase was to get the usual paperwork done. I think they were a couple of days in getting my "onboarding" stuff to me, and even though it violated their deadline, I didn't think it was a problem if they didn't. I ran into a problem doing my i9 (a citizenship form) and I emailed them about it, but didn't get a response. Called scoring support, decided I didn't want to wait on hold and eventually found the place to raise a help ticket. It took them at least forty-eight hours to get back to me. At that point, I was a little concerned because it said I had to have the form filled out by the time I worked for them three days with pay, but I hadn't done that yet, so I didn't think it was a big deal.

In the meanwhile, I was supposed to "certify" (read: prove that I could see/grade papers the way they see them) between the fifth and the tenth. I didn't get the login info for that until the twelfth…and it was only when they said the deadline had been extended to the fourteenth did I realize they were running behind. (Again, no worries, because them being off track means they're not going to dock me for delays…right?) It took me two tries to pass certification, so even though I was originally supposed to do training April 11-14, I wasn't approved for it until the last day. Oh and I was supposed to do live training in one of four sessions…that ended Friday.

"Oh well," I thought, "I'll just do training as quickly as possible and catch up to the live scoring when I can." (The project was supposed to start yesterday and run to May 9.) "If they still want me to do live training, I'm sure they'll arrange something for me."

Sunday afternoon, I signed up for the 3-7 shift for yesterday (April 15). I login to the workspace…"we don't have anything scheduled for you."

Okay, fine. Maybe I dreamed booking myself for this shift.

Went to the booking site…yup, still there. (If you want to work that shift, it will say "submit"; if you change your mind, you hit "unsubmit".) Checked back in the workspace…same thing.

Went to raise a fresh ticket…"your login information is incorrect."

After just responding to the i9 ticket earlier? Ohhkay. Fine.

Called scoring support. After being on hold for a while and the rep taking forever to figure out what was going on, she announced that I'd been terminated April 5.

WHAT?!

THEN WHAT THE FUCK DID I JUST DO THIS WEEKEND, WORK FOR FREE?!

 

Terminated. Less than forty-eight hours after I hired on and before I could do any sort of training or anything.

What. The actual. FUCK?!

That rep said she was going to check into what happened and call back. She never did. (No surprise.)

Got a response to my ticket late last night:

Upon further review, this is to confirm that there is no action needed from your end regarding your Form I9 completion as of now.

Know what I said?

(No, not “your English is terrible”, though I sorely wanted to.)

Yeah, because I found out you fired me approximately 48 hours after I was hired and no one ever told me why.

It was very nice of all of you to string me along for two weeks and not have the gall to tell me until I couldn't login anymore.

If I believed in hell, I'd tell you to go rot in it.

 

I don't expect to get paid.

Or get answers.

Or anything, really.

I'd hire an attorney to go after them for my money, but it's so little that it's not worth it. (I was booked in for eight hours, but only worked a grand total of fifty-five minutes for certification purposes. So that's $96 before taxes at best and $12 at worst.)

Probably going to tell the attorney general, though. She'll want to know, especially if it turns out Pearson is still running scoring centers in the state.

I'll let a month lapse, though, just to be on the safe side. Stay tuned!


P.S. from September: Yes, I got paid, but this fiasco will ensure I never attempt to put up with their bullshit again. (Shame, though—if the certification papers were any indication, some of these kids have thought-provoking answers that would be [and were] a pleasure to read.)