Posts tagged “Tech

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.




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.)


I’m probably the last to admit this (and I don’t know why…I’ve never had any bad experiences, except for accidentally making Sienna think that I wanted to be friends with her only because of her family), but I have a bit of a thing for the Carradines. *cringe*

That being said, it was pretty inevitable that I’d want to watch King of the Nerds. (Duh, right?) The only satellite I have at my place is satellite internet, but the way our viewing culture has evolved, it doesn’t matter–I can catch up with KotN any time I want. (I wouldn’t recommend the TBS site, though. Maybe it’s just my connection, but I can’t get any of their videos to come up.) Since I work Thursdays-Sundays, I grabbed the premiere Monday night (January 21) in that ninety minute block between Two Broke Girls and having the house to myself. (Read: I live on hostess wages and my favorite time of night/morning are when only the cats and I are awake. Ahem.)

Anywho, the starter was a bit slow…but then again it would be, given that they were picking teams and playing giant chess. One of my bandmates tried to teach me chess back in high school, but I never really got it. (Hell, I couldn’t even get it on that five-hour flight to Ireland when I was seventeen!) But this week looks promising: cosplay! I can’t believe that dressing up is considered…well, a sport for the convention-going kind; but then when I see all the work that goes into some of the costumes (and how freaking expensive some pieces are online!), I see it’s as much of a nerdtastic sport as Quidditch. (I can hear some people out there cheering that I made that comparison. And why not? 😉 ) There’s a new preview video out, showing Curtis as a geisha and Bobby as a samurai (I haven’t seen it…*tear*) and all I can ask is, “Why?!” No, I don’t think the concept is horrifying…more that one of my other guilty pleasures is geisha, so I’d prefer to see it the other way around! (Although maybe seeing my favorite male Carradine as a geisha would scar me for life, so perhaps TBS made the right decision…!)

I cultivated a couple of favorites from the premiere. I don’t remember if I saw any guys that I particularly liked (although Virgil definitely has a “nerd next door” thing going for him!), but there was a pair of ladies that caught my attention. The first was Celeste, a passionate gamer and speed cuber. Yes, this woman can speed through a Rubix cube in twenty-five fucking seconds! (I don’t know what her record is, but that’s her time from an interview this morning. I’m impressed that she can not only solve a Rubix cube, but doing it while answering interview questions! Amazing!) I don’t know what was the most attractive…maybe it was simply that she’s huge into gaming and I’m kind of envious, ’cause I gave up my 360 to write novels! (Not that I’d ever have the patience to be a crazy gamer like her, but…) My other favorite–and the one I’m rooting for–is Moogega. When I saw mentions of her on Twitter, I thought her name was a gamer handle or something, but no…Moogega (Moo-jay-guh) is her real name. Moo is a Ph.D. recipient who works at NASA as a planetary defense engineer…and she’s only 26! (I think the BBT boys should be afraid of her…I really do! She could outdo them in a heartbeat!) And she’s cute, too…adorable cute!


My biggest disappointment on this nerd questionnaire? No “what are you reading”! Certainly these people must stick their noses in books from time to time! Sheesh. Oh well…I will proceed to fill out the questionnaire for myself, and you can see how un-nerd-y I am:


  1. Game of Thrones, Walking Dead or Battlestar Galactica: You’d think I’d say BSG, given that my “Hollywood boyfriend” guest starred, but none of them hold a candle to Big Bang Theory!
  2. World of Warcraft or Call of Duty: I got lost in WoW and I thought Halo was cool, until I tried playing it in one player and realized how bad I was. No, if I had to pick a FPS, it would be any of the Doom games. (OLD SCHOOL!)
  3. Math or Science: Science, without a doubt. I am terrible at math and while I’m better with the…what do you want to call it? The “softer sciences”? (Earth sci, forensic sci, etc.) I still enjoy it. Which is probably why I hold a bachelor of science and not a bachelor of art!
  4. Edison or Tesla: I don’t know enough about Tesla to fairly judge.
  5. Asteroids or Ms. Pacman: Neither….I was more into combat games at the arcade.
  6. Favorite Superhero: I read Spider-Girl for a while. I like Spider-Man, but there are so many different iterations of the comics and the movies that a girl can quickly get lost! (If I have to choose between the movies, I’d definitely go old school again and say the originals.)
  7. Favorite Video Game: Lego Star Wars (the Complete Series). How much fun is it to run around and smash furniture with a light saber?!
  8. Favorite TV Show: Big Bang Theory, although Two Broke Girls is a close second.
  9. Favorite Movie: Non-Jamie, probably True Lies or The Craft. With Jamie, I think it’s a tie between Blowback and Sharpshooter.
  10. Favorite Musician or Band: I love Enya, but her CDs have been disappointing lately. The Strange Familiar is great, but so is Adele. <3
  11. Pet: A silver tabby named Lauren (turning five next month)
  12. Celeb on Your Team: Well, if you’re going to make Bobby stay on as a judge, I’d love to have James Remar…even though he’d be distracting!
  13. Aliens: Whatever Moo says…knowing about aliens is her job!
  14. Favorite Game Show: At least I feel properly nerdy with an answer of Jeopardy! I love sitting there and just firing off answers, no sweat. Too bad I’ve never been called for an audition!

P.S.: There is a Facebook page dedicated to Dr. Moo’s tushie. No, I’m not kidding:

Blogs, Frogs and Other Dogs

I wish I could say that this blog is just about my writing. But it’s not.

I tried that once, you know…a blog for my writing and a blog for my personal life. But I got tired of switching back and forth and it often seemed like I hardly posted in the writing blog, so I just cut down to one.


I’m back to the tablet races, as it were.

Originally, I thought I’d never have much money for a tablet…I probably wouldn’t be able to afford one for many years to come; maybe after I set up my midwifery practice or got a sizable book advance. I figured the best I could hope for would be to buy a Nook and jailbreak it so that I could have an economical Android tablet for around $150 less than the cheapest tablet from any other brand.

Now I find out that I might be coming into a little more money than I expected, which means I can probably shell out for an actual tablet. The question is, which one do I choose?

I researched several models earlier this year and decided that, if I had the money, a BlackBerry PlayBook would probably be my best bet. CNet seemed very favorable in its review and I own a Bold, so I could easily bridge from my phone to the tablet. But I re-read CNet’s review this evening and the PlayBook doesn’t seem appealing as it once did.

So my mind automatically turned to the iPad 2. The iPad seems to be the most popular out there (everyone I see with a tablet seems to have one) and having had an iPod Touch 4G last fall, I thought I’d probably like having an iPad. But when I posted a “wonder” to my Facebook wall, my friend Amber said “not an iPad…I don’t recommend it”. She didn’t go into details, so I wrote back and asked why…still waiting for an answer.

If a PlayBook isn’t all that fabulous and iPads aren’t great either (despite seemingly everyone on the planet having one these days), I guess that leaves me with the Galaxy Tab from Samsung. But CNet’s review wasn’t very favorable on the Tab, so I don’t know what to think.

Actually, I do know what to think. Verizon sells all three, so I think I’m going to march my ass down there when the time comes and say, “Which one do you recommend and why?” That’s the best way.

School is…going.

I loathe medical terminology and ask myself every week why I bothered to take it–outside of the fact that it was recommended to me last fall and I needed another class, of course. I can never seem to remember what I’m supposed to remember every week and I hate having a class where you have to spell your answers perfectly or it’s marked down.

A friend on another site asked what the point was in taking such a class, seeing as I was studying alternative medicine. First, I had to correct her on what I was studying. (I already have a degree in alternative medicine, as you might know, and am now working my way into nursing.) Second, while heavy on terms dealing with tests, surgical repair, etc., med terms also deals with illnesses of various parts of the body. So in reality, I probably should’ve had this class as an undergrad–despite the fact that it wasn’t offered by my school.

Nothing wrong with introduction to diagnostic medical imaging, though. The quizzes are short and untimed, the material is fascinating (and mercifully brief) and I have (or shortly will have) an A in that class. How can I complain?

Work, however, is in a holding pattern.

I won’t specify where I work, despite the fact that I’m only holiday help. Never know when I might want to rant…and I wouldn’t want to get into trouble.

Well, it should probably be “where I will work”. See, I got hired after my interview on Thursday, but the business manager (or whatever she is) who is in charge of scheduling orientation and training was gone by the time I walked out at 5:30–despite the fact that I heard her say she wasn’t leaving ’til six.

So I waited patiently all day Friday, thinking that she would call when she came into work the following day. No call.

Monday afternoon, I called and reached “T”, who said that the computers had gone down over the weekend and that her assistant wasn’t able to fill out the necessary requisitions for the holiday help. The holiday associates can’t be oriented until they’re in the system and T had a conference call coming up at three, so she hoped to get it done later that afternoon, that evening, or sometime on Tuesday.

Today is Wednesday. I spoke to “C”, who told me that T would call me Friday and tell me when it was I would be oriented and trained. Friday. More than a week after I was hired.


I hate being in that nasty little spot where you’re not technically unemployed, but you’re sure as hell not drawing a paycheck, either.

Where the hell did my writing abilities go? Did I finally burn out? I mean, I wrote a pretty decent poem the other day, but what the hell happened to my novel? I’ve worked on it maybe once in the last two or three weeks!

This morning, I talked to my new friend Jamie until 1:45, so I was too tired to even think about writing.

Tuesday morning–mercifully–I wrote. Almost the entire front of one piece of paper.

Monday morning? I had a fresh sheet of paper with the chapter header on it and the date that chapter took place up in the corner and nothing. No words, no thoughts…nothing. I can’t tell you the last time I stared at a blank page and nothing came. It just doesn’t happen to me! (I think the only reason I was able to write yesterday morning was because I looked at a…certain set of pictures for inspiration.)

Before that? Two, two and a half weeks since I’d written.

Being sick was a legitimate excuse, but I’m in a lot better shape now. In fact, if it wasn’t for the occasional food stuck in my throat and the fact that I think my stomach would raise holy hell if I tried to stop taking Prilosec, I’d say I was all better. But that’s beside the point.

Did I finally burn out? I suspected it was heading in that direction. It’s like that epic fit I had when my mother criticized me just blew away all my desire to write and that was the end.

So much for becoming a famous novelista…