Saturday, July 05, 2008

Paralyzing fear

It's not often that I venture in the the strongholds of The Enemy, but sometimes The Mrs. drags me off to one. Thus, yesterday afternoon, I found myself in the Humanities building at The University of Northern Colorado.

I lived here for close to a year before I even knew there was a University of Northern Colorado. Apparently, they don't have a football team that plays CSU, so we never hear about them. But, there it is. Right in the nice part of Greeley.

Or thereabouts.

The Childrens are there for a summer camp this week, and we had to trek out there to register for the class sessions for HannahC. MaxieC is too young to have class sessions. He just has one group all day. HannahC has to change every 45 minutes or so.

It started off badly when The Mrs. called for directions. She wrote them down. This is what they said:
Going north on 11th Ave 1 block past 20th St is
She handed me these directions triumphantly and then added, "We're supposed to look for parking lot L."

OooooooK. I punched up the intersection of 11th Ave and 20th St in her GPS. Nope. Sorry. It was listed as a crossroad, but when I selected it, it didn't do anything. Just ignored me.

So I got out that devil we call TomTom, and it found it right away. Off we go.

As we crossed 20th St on 11th Ave, we had our eyes peeled. Oddly, it appeared to be a residential neighborhood, with the university a block to the right of us, but also behind us. The Mrs's GPS has the university grounds shaded a different color, so I when we got to the northernmost end of it, I swung over a block to where the school was and started tracing the perimeter back the way we came.

In a few minutes, we stumbled across the building we were looking for and the infamous Lot L. Here is what the directions should have said:
Going north on 11th Ave, turn left on 20th St.
Go three blocks and turn left again on 14th Ave.
Go a block and you will be on campus where you will intersect another street which for no good reason is also named 20th St.
Parking Lot L will be on the far right corner, and the building will be on the far left.
You see how much better it flows with that whole middle part about being on 14th Ave, not 11th, and there being two 20th Streets that are parallel and a block apart, on in the city and one on campus? Yes, it's a bit wordier, but still.

The Mrs. and HannahC headed into the building while MaxieC and I sat in the van, and I tried to remember how to create a "favorite" in the GPS based on where I actually was. The Mrs., you see, has to schlep The Childrens back and forth twice a day for a couple weeks, so she'll need the GPS to guide her.

As much as I bitch about the user interface in TomTom, there are things that are simply downright stupid in The Mrs.'s GPS. Like, for instance, adding favorites. It goes like this:

Setup->More->Personal Information->Address Book->The Mrs.->Add Address

See, if you just push "Address Book" on the main menu, you can only navigate to something already in the book. You can't add an entry. Adding can only be done from the setup menu.

Oddly, TomTom separates these two functions as well, however by slightly fewer menu screens. It also forces you through the setup menu. So what is with the f'k on that?

When we head inside, there are throngs of over-parenting parents (this is a summer camp for "high achieving childrens" or something like that. I'm not allowed to call it "genius camp" anymore, on account of The Mrs. doesn't want HannahC to get a big head. We had to submit standardized test scores and references and such in order to get in.) who are pouring over the class listings while their children run around in yellow t-shirts with the olympic symbol on them (which they'll get sued for if they didn't license it, just like Olympics of the Mind did before they had to change their name to Odyssey of the Mind back in the early 80's) and try to get cookies from the free cookies table and are continuously told, "You are only allowed one and only after we have completed your course selections and turned in the paperwork and have had it checked!"

And, you really know you're at the nerd convention when they even have gluten-free cookies available.

MaxieC and I looked around, rolled our eyes, and wandered off. This is when I discovered that we were in the Women's Studies section of the building. Gaah! I quickly checked my T-shirt to make sure it wasn't going to get me mugged. It was just a Bad Boys Bail Bonds shirt, "Because your momma wants you home." Nothing offensive about that. Plus, there didn't seem to be any professors around. Why would there be on the weekend? It's not like there is actually any research involved in Women's Studies. It's largely just a matter of citing "experts" in the field who cited other "experts" who cited you, and no one can figure out anymore at what point the statistic you are talking about was just made up out of thin air because everybody has a long chain of circular references and nobody will fess up to being the first to say it.

We did make it up to the third floor during our wanderings, and there we found a couple anthropology professors actually at work. There is still a branch of anthropology that could be considered scientific, but I can't imagine it will last long if housed in the humanities building.

I like to peruse the cartoons that professors put up outside their offices. Humanities professors aren't known for their humor. Not like physicists. Physicists are a f-ing hilarious bunch, if you can understand the jokes as, like fine British humor, it's not actually funny.

Not JackAss 2 funny, at least.

Physicist 1: "I'm pretty sure there's a new subatomic particle. I'm going to call it a neutrino."
Physicist 2: "Cool. What's it like?"
Physicist 1: "Well, it's so high-energy that it blasts right through everything except for very, very dense objects."
Physicist 2: "Like Senator Proxmire?"
An old joke, I suppose. But I don't hang with any physicists cuz all we can ever scare up are semi-conductor physicists, and since they're the bunch of physicists who have actually found application for their work in the real world, their craven drive for monetary compensation has removed a lot of their humor value. Plus, they tend to be a bunch of dorks, and I hang with my fair share of dorks already, thank you very much.

One professor had a political cartoon about the evils of standardized testing, only it was photocopied onto a piece of paper, and then numbers were written on the cartoon and underneath it had a deconstruction of the cartoon. (1) The roof of the building represents that barrier created by standardized testing. (2) The child caught in the roof represents a creative child trying to break free of the bonds of conformity. (I'm paraphrasing here.) Blah blah blah.

Another had snippets from a feminist coloring book. The cool thing about that was that it was modern enough to have an URL. I spent some time pondering this cartoon from a coloring book called, "Girls Wll Be Boys Will Be Girls Will Be..." which I know to you, my loyal readership, sounds more like a nasty Brazilian porn site than the title of a feminist coloring book. First, of course, I was quite offended by the portrayal of a boy wearing a lacey apron. But once I got past that, I got to thinking. I said to myself,
"Self, is this a one-dimensional portrayal of a situation where the sex roles [I know I'm supposed to say "gender roles" in this context, but just because an entire field of study has endorsed a forced grammatical incorrectness does not mean that I, an outsider, have to subscribe to that incorrectness.] are reversed? Because if so, it is a rather feminized portrayal of how a boy would actually act - talking about making drums rather than actually doing it. Oh but wait, perhaps the author is deeper than I have assumed, and instead she is portraying how a girl would act if she had interests similar to a boy's - talking and building consensus rather than just taking over a pot and spoon and starting to drum. But if so, doesn't this endorse the politically-incorrect idea that girls and boys are innately different, thus undermining the thesis of the book?"
Imagine that. Finding a conundrum in a feminist coloring book.

To get back to the point that inspired the title, not long before we were leaving, HannahC handed me two pieces of garbage. One was a napkin, and the other was a scrap of paper. I located a garbage can by the cookie table and went to throw them both out. Then, suddenly, I realized the scrap of paper was recyclable.


ellie said...

This could be the resurrection of diversity blogging. . .

ellie said...

Did you see jackass 2.5?

Manly Lesbian said...

So what subjects did the genius child choose???

Wife said...

She chose (and got!) American Sign Language, Art that Cares (art from recycled stuff and the history of doing that), Survival of the Fittest (biology), and It's a Small World (world cultures).

CherkyB, Myster Diversity, has a problem with the course names and descriptions.

blogauthor said...

Oh dear, that is scary stuff. You should have run away at the mention of gluten free cookies dude for next are the horn rimmed glasses and beating of tom tom drums to capture one's inner feelings.

Seriously though, that coloring book is just dumb!

Oh, and I had the SAME experience at Duke a few weeks back. I thought I was going to lose my friggin' mind trying to find the friggin' Fuquay School of Business.

Manly Lesbian said...

Fuquay School of Business? With a name like that, no wonder they did not want to have a lot of signs posted.