Friday, June 24, 2005

feeling old

I feel so old.

I was just in the university bookstore picking up some stamps and a diet Dr. Pepper when I ran into Priscilla. Priscilla is a former track athlete from Barbados who just finished her master’s degree and is working as an Admissions counselor for our university.

She was laughing at one of the cell phones the bookstore had on display. It was an older model -- very large and boxy. The kind that "flipped" open. She called me over to ask if I would ever use something like that. She even offered to buy it for me if I would.

I took the opportunity to explain to her that the phone she was laughing at was quite the rage back in the day when they were referred to as “mobile phones” not “cell phones.”

“Mobile,” she said. “That doesn’t look very mobile to me. It won’t fit in my pocket.”

Then I told her that mobile phones originally came with large battery packs that you had to carry around or leave plugged into your car – at this point she really started laughing.

So, I am now back in my office, sipping my Dr. Pepper, just sitting here … feeling old.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Please dress appropriately for all occasions


And I mean that in every sense of the word.

In a span of about three hours last Saturday morning I got my fill of boobs. From sophomoric freshmen (ha! ha!) trying to act cool and pick up chicks in the college registration line, to … well … boobs, I saw it all.

At our esteemed institution of higher learning we held an early registration event last Saturday for incoming freshmen and transfer students. This event is designed to cut down on the registration marathon that generally takes place two days before classes begin in the fall.

Students complain about the slow, arduous process and how awful it is that they are forced into these situations because obviously they would rather be at home watching reruns of SpongeBob Squarepants than out doing what it takes to ensure a brighter future.

I often explain to them how the registration process worked when I was a student at this same university more than a decade ago. Not that I would ever embellish, but by the time I show them the scars from self-inflicted paper cuts and explain that it was the only way to maintain a certain level of sanity as hoards of university personnel took turns brainwashing and browbeating us into submission, they don’t complain quite as much.

I work a station in the line where we register information about a student’s home town newspapers so we can send press releases home if they have any major accomplishments while in school. We also get them to sign a release saying it is Ok to use their likeness on university publications should the need arise. When we have the necessary information, we sign off on their registration packet and they are approved to move on down the line. All this information can be filled out ahead of time on a card they receive in their registration packets. Students generally like stopping at my station because it takes about 30 seconds and they can get rid of two stops at once because the parking permit people are never there. I basically tell them parking is not important and sign off for the parking personnel as well.

Now, I must tell you that it is hot in Texas in June and students tend to dress according to the weather. This means tanks tops, low cut, spaghetti straps, loose fitting blouses which is all well and good as long as you remain upright. A fact many a young, doe-eyed innocent fails to comprehend. Others are well aware of the fact and simply don’t care, but they usually don’t have their parents standing beside them in the registration line.

It’s always kind of a shock the first time this happens in the registration line. Sitting comfortably behind a table taking cards and information you are never quite prepared for what is about to happen. A young student fails to complete her form ahead of time, waiting to fill out the information when she reaches your spot in line. As said young lady starts to lean over right in front of you, you are suddenly hit with the bug-eyed realization of what is about to spill out across your field of vision.

Now what …

With eyes darting around the room, bouncing from object to object … to object … you try to find anything to grab your attention. After all, the young ladies’ parents are right behind her and you know if this was your daughter you would be glaring at the man behind the table, making sure he wasn’t trying to sneak a peek.

Feeling a little less than comfortable with the situation, you strike up an idle conversation with the next boob in line who just happens to be the aforementioned goofy boy trying so hard to fit in. It’s never a pretty sight.

Oh well, I just wonder what fashions will be like when my daughter is registering for her first semester in college.

Friday, June 10, 2005

I learnt my geometry at high school

It's raining. So with our crack technology, we could lose power at any moment. I just finished sending 70-something emails to various hometowns of little boys and girls who were gifted enough to make our honors lists.

Just as I was about to hit the send button on an email to Odessa, I had a sudden epiphany. I am basically working from a list that gives a student's name, hometown and whether he/she (sometimes its hard to tell from gender ambigous names) made the Dean's list or the President's list. I had just finished typing up my press release concerning Brittany and Sergiy from Odessa. Have you guessed my problem yet? Sure enough Sergiy, whose last name is an extended alphabet soup ain't from around here. I sure am glad they teach't me geometry at my podunk high school cause I figured out all by my self that there might be more than one Odessa on this here spheroid we call home.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Be careful where you clean your guns

So, there I was... Tucked away comfortably in my own little room at a cozy little hunter's lodge in a town of roughly the population of Baskin Robbins at 9 o'clock on a Wednesday morning in mid January in Vermont. When my sister Spookyrach goes on work related trips she gets Houston, Corpus Christi or some other place where the chance of finding a decent bookstore is just a matter of knowing where to look.

Me? When I go on a work-related retreat, I get "Deliverence" country.

There were six of us that made this trip. A chance to get away from the office and brainstorm on ideas to make our division more successful as we seek to compete in the field of Higher Education. My job? Communications. The PR man. Graduated in four years with a BA in BS. If we were looking for a nice quiet place to work, we chose the right location because there were definitely no distractions.

Sitting in my non-smoking room that was operating on a ventilation system that sucked all the cigarette smoke out of the "parlor" and promptly deposited it in the rooms, I chanced to look at the chest of drawers. It was a nice chest. Nothing fancy but decent enough to get the job done in a small lodge that catered to hunters. It was a nice hunter green chest with a faux finish on top. What caught my eye was a sign carefully placed in the center of the chest, under glass that read. "Please do not clean your guns on the towels."

It then dawned on me that I was on the back edge of civilization. Of course, that wasn't the only informative signage strategically positioned in the lodge. As you enter the front door, you are met by a sign that reads "Do not leave beer coolers in your truck."

It doesn't really matter that you leave stereos, jewelry, bags full of money and any other valuables in there, but there had apparently been a rash of beer cooler robberies in town. What else are those wild and crazy kids going to do on a Friday night? Surprisingly, we were told this by a woman at the desk who had a very distinct British accent. Boy did she get lost when they let her off the boat.

And if that isn't enough, the only eating establishment in town, where we dined at breakfast, lunch and dinner for two days, filling up on gravy, chicken fried steak and anything else served with a side order of grease, was named "Crackers." Being of white anglo saxon protestant decent, I'm not sure if I should be offended by that. The food wasn't bad, but we had an interesting group of waiters and waitresses who weren't real sure what we wanted when asking for skim milk.

Our meetings were held in the basement where the proprietor would occasionally wander through, unlock a set of double doors, enter the room, bang around on things for a while, emerge, relock the doors, walk back through our meeting area and return up the stairs as if nothing strange had just occurred. I should mention at this point that the building in question was at one time a funeral home. One of our group members had an aunt who attended many a funeral in said location and always managed to pass out when she came to a certain spot in one of the rooms.

Gee! I wonder where we'll go for our retreat next year?