Sunday, December 16, 2007

Manic Depression

There are so many things to be accomplished over the next several days that I fear a nuclear meltdown. The good news for everyone but me is that I’m referring only to my own nuclei, the ones that make up my cell structure. People who live within a 50 mile radius of my home needn’t worry. Even my neighbors needn’t worry. But I sure am worried. And I’ve got reason to be. And I’m about to tell you those reasons.

Here’s what, theoretically, should be accomplished between now and Thursday night:

  1. I need to write up a three-four page thesis prospectus. In order to complete my master’s degree, I have to write a thesis, but prior to writing the thesis, I have to write a thesis prospectus that basically summarizes what my thesis is going to be about and how it’s going to be structured. I’m even supposed to include a working bibliography. I have to do this prior to spring semester, because this prospectus has to be approved before I can enroll for “Thesis Research,” and I have to complete six hours of Thesis Research in order to graduate. While that’s sufficient reason to complete my prospectus ASAP, I also need to show my prospectus to those instructors who are writing me letters of recommendation for various Ph.D. programs, so they can make more detailed mention of what I’m doing as a master’s student. It’s all very overwhelming, especially since I’m only barely beginning to feel like I have a concrete idea of what my thesis will be about!
  2. Speaking of having people write me letters of recommendation for Ph.D. programs, I should probably complete the bulk of my applications this week. The earliest application is due on January 1st, but it is vital that my letter writers have all of the necessary materials before I leave town on Friday (to go home to Salt Lake City for the holidays). It would probably also be beneficial to arrange for transcripts and GRE score reports to be sent sooner than later to the schools where I’m applying. If these things don’t get to their destinations in a timely fashion, it could hurt me. Ph.D. applications also require a personal statement or statement of purpose that explains my interests and goals. It would be good to have my thesis advisor look it over and give me feedback, so I should probably also finish this before I leave town.
  3. I need to pack so I can leave town.
  4. Thursday, Melanie and I are going to be in court. I pled not guilty to “failing to yield while turning left,” which is what I was charged with when we got into the car accident in September. There’s no doubt in my mind that the other driver should have stopped. Of course, I’m being punished for pleading not guilty because now Melanie and I have to spend time in court that, normally, we would have spent in SLC. If not for this, we probably would have done everything in our power to head back home a whole week earlier. Then again, given the other things on this list, it may be a good thing that we didn’t have the option of leaving earlier. So, not only will going to court probably take up a significant portion of the day, but we do want to get a little bit prepared for the hearing. For example, we still need to hunt down the witness that came up to our car on the day of the accident and told us he thought we were in the right. Interestingly enough, we later found out that the cop that charged us with failing to yield also spoke to this same (and this only) witness before legally condemning us. That means that either the witness was totally confused (since he told the cop one thing and us another), or that the cop was totally confused (and did not understand what the witness was saying about us not being responsible). Either way, it certainly casts doubt on our guilt, which should work in our favor—but only if we can get this witness to help us out!
  5. I need to take a bunch of graded final exams downtown to my school and leave them in the philosophy department for my now-former (is that an oxymoron?) students. Even though dropping off these tests should only take about two seconds, it will require me to train downtown, hobble around a bit, and then train home. I estimate that this two-second venture will require at least two hours of time, assuming everything goes well.
  6. I should probably call my insurance company and find out what’s going on with my coverage. I get cheap insurance through my school as part of my assistantship, but it may turn out I’m getting what I pay for – which is not a lot. While I sometimes get as many as four or five postcards in my mailbox on a single day informing me that the insurance company has received a claim and will let me know if they need any further information, they do not seem all that eager to pay any of these claims. Naturally, the hospitals, doctors, surgeons, anesthetists, emergency response units, and so on are all getting quite antsy to get some financial compensation for their hard work. Now they’re harassing me, telling me they’ve given up on my insurance company and expect me to figure it out. So, despite the bounty of postcards that daily litter my mailbox, I’m finally told by my doctor that the insurance company needs me to fill out and mail them an accident report, giving them the pertinent details of the car crash, before they’ll pay anything. I have long since sent that to them, and I was told by an insurance company customer service representative that they’d go back and have everything re-processed and paid by the beginning of December. Well, it sure doesn’t look like that’s the case. Instead, we’re now getting letters from, among others, the ambulance company, informing us that our insurance company does not cover this type of thing. Um, so the $500 ambulance coverage specifically mentioned in my policy is for what, exactly? It’s all in error, obviously, but the customer is the only one with an incentive to get it straightened out. I should probably figure it out before someone comes along and repossesses my new heel.

That’s a sneak peek at this week. Eek! Is it any wonder I’m about to freak? (And does rhyming make me a geek?) You may wonder why I haven’t gotten much of this taken care of by now. Well, it could have had something to do with giving finals, grading finals, studying for and taking finals, grading final papers, writing up numerous reports of academic dishonesty due to several cases of plagiarism that I discovered while grading those final papers, and so on. The plagiarism cases probably deserve a post of their own, but I tell you, it’s a nuisance to deal with them. You have to write up a report, print off several copies of the student’s paper, print off several copies of the source from which the student plagiarized, highlight any portions that were copied (on both the student paper and the source), set up a confidential meeting with the student, give the student one copy of the report, the paper, and the plagiarized source, listen to them repent and/or gripe for up to an hour, and get several other copies of the aforementioned materials to various other people in the department. It almost makes you want to just let the students get away with it rather than bother. But that’s another story. Thanks for listening to my own griping. Happy holidays!


  1. Holy Smokes..You have my sincerest sympathies. I hate insurance stuff with a passion and I can't begin to fathom all of the other things that you have to do. All I can say is good luck and please don't self destruct, because for selfish reasons I am really looking forward to seeing you soon.

  2. Man, what a mess. Especially at the cost of SLC. At least once you get there you'll have fun. When my sis lived there we went each Christmas. Lots of fun sledding and ice skating -- just think about that. Fun. Not work. I have to work over the holidays too. But maybe not quite as much as you. Hang in there and have a beautiful holiday with your family.

  3. Oh Benny. I do not envy you at all. I wish I could help you somehow. I can't wait to see you and I hope this will all be, at least somewhat, behind you!