We’re fast approaching the end of 2009, and the end of the first decade of the 21st century as well. To say that a lot’s happened in this departing decade would be an understatement. I won’t waste time making resolutions for 2010, because I think they’re a waste of time and would rather spend my time setting goals for myself. So far, even though 2009 got off to a bad start with the loss of my job, I started school and am progressing towards my goal of becoming Cicso certified as well as gaining various other certifications that I’m hoping will help me re-enter the work force and put some income in my pocket so that I can live, if not in the lap of luxury, at least comfortably. This decade has had a fair mix of good and bad. I’m sure future years and decades will as well, but I can always hope for more good than bad. I’d like to wish everyone lots of prosperity, of whatever kind you need, in this coming civil year, and I hope you all get to spend time concentrating on the things that are important to you and your goals. Happy 2010, everyone.

Spartacus Spartacus by Howard Fast

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Spartacus was a book I wanted to read for quite a while. I’ve seen the remake of Spartacus that was aired as a made for TV movie on USA, with Goran ViÅ¡njić in it, and really enjoyed that, so I was interested in how closely it stuck to the novel.

In the novel, the story is told from the point of view of Romans remembering it, with flashbacks from various characters mixed in with rumored tales. The movie, on the other hand, is told from the point of view of the slaves. Both have their strong points, but I think the movie was better over-all. But the book was definitely a good, lite read, and I would read it again, probably when I’m not smack dab in the middle of a semester with a ton of work to do. It was short enough t read in a weekend. I would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in historical fiction of the ancient world, and especially for anyone who has an interest in the Spartacus saga.

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All through finals, everything has gone well. Have a B in econ, and A’s in PC Hardware and Business Law. So I figured the Office test wouldn’t be a problem, my grades would get updated, and everything would be fine and I could end the semester on a really high note and keep on going to the next semester. Well, it seems I was very wrong. After all the hassle of this semester, all the work and all the meetings put into making this class accomodate ADA needs, I get into DSS this morning and find that I end up with the same final everyone else has. This final doesn’t reflect any of the extensive changes made over the semester. For instance, even though it was determined, with the help of the tech guy at dSS, that Access is completely inaccessible, and the professor agreed that it could be skipped, along with the design of Powerpoint presentations, the Word projects were modified so that I could focus on the accessible parts and dispense with the smart-art and other graphical aspects, it was as if none of this ever happened. The final was dependent on images to answer the questions, and heavy on Access and graphical aspects of Word, Excel and Powerpoint. This meant that I either had to skip questions altogether, or hazard a guess, which didn’t bode well for the grade. Also, none of the modified assignments I’ve done have been entered into Blackboard, so my grade looks like hell in that class. I sent a message to the professor asking about this aspect last night and never got a response. And after the final fiasco this morning, I sent him the following:
After taking my ITEC 2000 final exam this morning, I have major concerns as to its effect on my final grade. As we have met with the staff of Disability Services numerous times during the semester to modify aspects of the course material to accommodate my visual disability, I do not understand why the final exam was also not modified to reflect those areas of change. Final exam questions of specific concern are those relying upon image, chart, and table properties for identification. During our meetings it was decided that Access would be totally omitted along with Power Point presentations as their design by a totally blind person is not an accessible option. We specifically discussed which aspects of Office 2007 would and would not be accessible in determining course modifications. We agreed that designing and working with tables in Word; the Access application; manipulating images; and all other functions which are totally mouse driven were to be omitted. There were questions on the final exam specifically relating to the color of the green circle on an image border; many relating to the Access application; and those that were dependent on seeing an image to choose the correct answer which resulted in my grade of 60. Based on previous modifications made to course materials, it seems logical that the final exam would follow this same pattern in its content and reflect those accommodations. As final grades our due within the next couple of days, I would appreciate your prompt response since I will be leaving town for the holidays on Friday. I appreciate all that you have done throughout the semester to meet my needs; and feel confident that this issue can be resolved.

I also copied everyone involved at dSS on this. Quite frankly, this situation is really stressful. Going in there and finding that the final was the way it was was like a slap in the face. Maybe I shouldn’t take it personally, but after all the work that was done, it just seemed like that was all erased. I haven’t heard back from the professor yet, but am hoping that all this gets resolved, hopefully before the end of this week. Right now, the grade on Blackboard shows as 33%, which is also a sort of slap in the face given that I’ve turned in all assignments I’ve been given and nothing’s been updated. This is all very stressful and is definitely not how I envisioned ending the semester. I’ll post more as this situation updates.

Happy third day of Hanukah to everyone. So far it’s been a good one for me, mostly because I think I’ve done pretty good for myself this year. I haven’t had to use any additional candles thanks to my not breaking any, (last year I accidentally broke a couple while I was trying to get them into the hanukiah and stable so they could be lit), and I haven’t had very much trouble with the lighter either. I use a lighter for both Shabbat/yom tov/nahalot (Yahrzeits) candles since they’re easier and probably safer in my case. I hope that doesn’t create halakhic issues. I like Hanukah because of all the lights. As we get to the fourth night onward, I can sort of see the light, although not very much. I do wish, however, that I could find a Hanukiah/menorah that takes standard tapers, as those would be easier to light. But I’ll keep looking, as I’m sure one has to exist, and maybe I’ll find one in time for next year.

Here in Greenville, we will light the Hanukah and Shabbat lights a little after 4:30 this afternoon. Before I do that, I’d like to extend wishes for a Shabbat shalom and a Hanukah Sameah (happy Hanukah) to everyone who’s celebrating. I hope everyone has a joyous time, full of good food and closeness with family, and fun too. Enjoy the latkes.

I’m standing out here waiting for the bus. It feels weird not having to carry a bunch of crap with me, but all I have today is my Econ final. I hope I do well on it, but even if I totally screw it up, or even if I ace it, I’m going to end up with a B in the class. He’s counting the four best test grades. I’ll be glad when it’s done and over with. More afterwords.

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This will be quick. Today is reading day and I’ve spent it trying to cram for my Econ final that’s tomorrow at 8:00 in the morning. I didn’t do as well as I had hoped on my exam yesterday. I got 187 out of 250. I’m a little disappointed because I studied really hard for that test. I hope I do better on the final, but if I don’t, I’ll still end up with a B in the class. It’ll be a low one though and I was hoping to be able to raise my grade. But then, the test was worth 250 points and there were only 40 questions on it so the questions were worth a lot and if you miss one then that’s a lot of points. More later on.

Given that I need to be up early, I have no business being up right now writing this. But I wanted to post one of my periodic updates.

We’re in the run-up to finals, and thus it’s very Busy around here. Also, I have a meeting tomorrow morning at DSS to come up with a last-minute Word assignment for the Office class. It’ll have to be something I can do in an evening or less, because I have a test Tuesday morning at 08:00 in Economics, and then the final for Economics on Thursday. Tuesday is the last day of class. I also have some Cavi work to get done, and even though the course doesn’t officially end until June of 2010, I’d like to finish that up before the beginning of 2010. And while I’m at it, I’ll plug Cavi.

Cavi is the Cisco academy for the Visually Impaired. They provide accessible, VI-oriented training for CCNA certification and its prerequisite, and they are a non-profit group. You can get more information about Cavi here. And if you’re feeling charitable, and you’re a technophile, feel free to drop them a donation. They’re doing a good thing for the blind community. I’ve been using their material to help with my on-campus hardware course, and it has been most helpful.

So anyway, back to the subject of this post. Along with the final I have this week, I have my hardware final next Monday, and I get to not take my Business Law final, because I’ve done the extra credit assignment. I’ll be posting the write-up in a few days, but I want to expand it for this space as well as add some hyperlinks, because there is some content here that’s relevant. After the semester ends, I’m off to Florida to visit Wil and Denise and the crew down there. We should have a good time. I’ll be there till after the first of the year, and then it’s back here to start the spring semester and start making plans for the summer sessions.

I’ll end for now, but look for the extra credit write-up in the next week or so.