Saturday, October 23, 2010

my take on the bully thing

[as i wrote this i realized that i should note that if you find yourself one of my facebook friends, you're probably not real high on the list of people i'm talking about below. i still remember names, and i am not "friends" with any of them. why would i want to be?]

so i read a series of posts from single dad laughing about bullies. you can, and probably should, read his posts (in order) herehere, and here. a lot of people seemed to like them, and they've made the viral rounds, what with the recent spate of suicides of kids who've been bullied for one reason or another.

i see what he's saying. and maybe he's right.

but i can't bring myself to extend love to bullies.

like many, i was bullied as a child. in elementary and middle school, i went to a tiny (as in 10 kids in my class tiny) private religious school. while the academic curriculum was excellent, the social environment was, for me, totally abysmal. i very quickly became the out kid, and in a school that tiny, there aren't even other out kids to make friends with. the only real relief was in 8th grade, when there were only two kids in my class (and i was one), and there was nobody in 7th grade. i endured all the usual taunts, and had all the usual things done to me. and for a variety of reasons, i had no further social interaction beyond school and the tiny, hostile religious community i grew up in.

sometimes even summer was not a relief. for a couple of years i went to a religious day camp, and was picked on and bullied there. i was from texas, i talked funny (having a draw in chicago makes you stand out, and while mine isn't very thick, they noticed it), i was weaker and slower and didn't know all the games they played and was physically uncoordinated anyway, i was new to the camp, wasn't as observant as they were, and so on and so forth. i was locked in disgusting public park bathrooms, pulled under water in the swimming pools (in an attempt to drown me), had my trunks ripped off so that i had to leave the pool naked, was taunted and punched on the bus, and on and on and on.

in high school it was more of the same. i was the damned nerd, completely unathletic, perceived as gay because i didn't have a girlfriend (what girl would have wanted me?), i was ugly and looked stupid and dressed funny and smelled bad and i was jewish. i lived out of district and didn't have a car and had to take the city bus (not even the school bus) home. when my dad was supposed to pick me up, he was usually late, and i got stuck on the steps waiting for hours at a time. i was taunted and called names, spit on, had my locker broken into and my belongings urinated upon, had my locker's lock broken so that i had to get it cut off (on multiple occasions). as my grades deteriorated, i got bullied for that too. because of my grades i was unable to participate in extracurricular activities, and i got harassed for that as well. when i wound up being classified a junior a second time, it got predictably worse.

in all three places, i had acquaintances, but no real friends. nobody bothered to defend me: not other kids, not teachers, not administrators, not counselors. as my reactions became less and less acceptable, i was punished for my outbursts (and i was taunted for that too), but nothing ever seemed to happen to my tormentors. they continued to feel free to throw food and piss on my stuff and steal my belongings and shove broom sticks up my ass (yes, really).

unlike single dad laughing, i did not mark out my pictures in my yearbooks. i couldn't even bring myself to look at them at all (and i still find pictures of myself horrific). at least for the ones that weren't stolen from me before i even got them home (yes, assholes stole my yearbooks), i threw them on a bookshelf and never looked at them again. in time, i threw them away completely. i did not then, and do not now, ever want to relive that misery. school was never a joy to me; i do not go to reunions, hang out with "buddies," or have nostalgic reminiscences about my life as a high school student. my experience was that every moment was a constant threat, and i was always in fear that i'd be hit, insulted, taunted or degraded at any moment.

i still feel the same way today. most interactions i have with other people feel hostile and threatening, even with my own family, and even if some more normal person wouldn't find them that way. i still don't really have any social friends to speak of, and my life continues to feel like one downward spiral after another. there is no light at the end of the tunnel; there is no tunnel. there is only an endless pit, and the question is not whether or not i will fall into it, but only how fast i will descend.

i told one person a couple weeks ago that our nightly conversations, which happen over skype and which usually end with her falling asleep and snoring in my ear (she's been sawing logs for the better part of an hour as i write this), is the only non-threatening interaction i have in a given day. whether it's work or school, a visit to a doctor or going out on a hot date with a cute chick, i live in terror and loathing and doubt.

even in my mid-30s i still get harassed some. i pointed out to some students in a college class, on a field trip, that if they were going to talk shit about someone, they should do it when the object of their derision is not sitting within earshot. only one of the people in that discussion had the balls to apologize; the others have acted like it never happened. and this wasn't some when-i-was-20 college class. this was spring 2010, in sedimentology.

i know that today, a lot of my problems with not having many friends stems from my stand-offishness and my chronic depression and the attitudes that it brings. but the things i went through growing up still profoundly affect my outlook on life, and being happy and bubbly and positive all the time simply isn't in my personality anymore. if that ability was ever there, it was crushed long ago. now i am cynical and negative, pretty much all the time. (which is one reason i don't write here much. who wants to read all that drek?)

the only way i ever learned to deal with bullies came from two experiences. the first was at the jewish day camp the first of two years i went, and the second one happened in high school.

at the day camp after four or five weeks of endless torment, i finally got so angry at one bully that i whumped him over the head with the bag in which i carried my things. the bag had my keys in it, and the keys cut his face so badly that he needed a dozen stitches to close the gash. the rest of his friends, and especially his older (and larger-than-me brother) kept on me for the rest of that year and all of the next, but scarface (his face had been badly scarred before -- my 10 stitches were nothing) didn't bother me much after that.

the second was in high school, when i finally got so fed up with some of the assholes on the soccer team that i took a 2x4 to one of them. that didn't result in any serious injury, but it got his attention and he also pretty well left me alone after that.

the lesson i learned is this: bullies respond only to pain. excruciating physical pain. they come to understand that if they fuck with you, you will cause them a great deal of pain, and so they will leave you alone.

so probably dan pearce is a bigger man than i ever will be, and that's okay. but i do not, can not, and refuse to learn to, love bullies. the only lesson in my life about what's worked with bullies has been to hurt them -- quickly, badly, and memorably.

and when, in time, one or more of my children become victims of bullies (and i know it will happen, because i know my children), i'll be the good parent and go through all the usual channels at school to get it dealt with. and when it is not dealt with, because it never is, some bully somewhere will find himself in some pretty serious physical pain, until he learns to leave my children alone. because that's the only language bullies understand.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

with apologies to robert frost

so you know, xkcd is a documentary. this is #312. it helps that it's a fabulous rip-off of one my two all-time favorite poems. smaller than i'd like it, and left-justified, because google is being a bitch.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

my take on the health care law

so since i did a post a month ago about why i hate my country, i guess it's time to update based on the passing of the new law.

i'm still disappointed. we can do better than this.

problem 1: the majority of the "reforms" don't take effect until 2014. so that means that you'll have to hope i live another four years before any of this helps me. in the meantime, i am still sick with my upper respiratory crap, and i still have no health care.

since this is the case, if you're lucky enough to have insurance, you'll still get raped. and if you don't, you still won't.

problem 2: it's still private insurance. we have already seen what happens when we incentivise the lowering of costs over the delivery of good health care. this has not changed.

and as for doctors, they're still incentivised to do more procedures, which does not necessarily mean make people healthier. that hasn't changed either.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

why i hate my state and my country

i've thought about this for a long time, and it's really hard for me to say what i have to say today.

once again, this post is triggered by something cecily wrote a few days ago, about her family and her trials with medical coverage for herself and her family.

i am in her place, only one better.

i, and my kids, are uninsured. first, my kids:

my kids periodically receive medicaid. they are approved for medicaid under their mom's eligibility for a three month stretch. then their eligibility is up and they have to reapply. however, the processing time is so long that they generally go about three months before they're recertified, during which time, they're not covered.

there have been other paperwork snafus too, of course, this being a poorly-run outsourced bureaucracy. like, for example, when they mysteriously determined that my kids were covered both by CHIP and medicaid at the same time. of course, you can only have one at a time, and this is perfectly reasonable. so their perfectly reasonable response was to cancel both at once.

now, it is possible (sometimes) to get medicaid to pay outstanding balances that are less than three months old at the time of certification, but in practice, this only works for emergency room visits. i have yet to meet a doctor that will see you for free, hoping that someday you might get medicaid to pay them.

so, if my kids get ear infections, or my daughter who has lazy eye needs a checkup appointment with her opthamologist ... too bad. you're fucked. i also can not afford medical care of any sort for ian, who, while nearing his 8th birthday, still uses diapers and shows no interest in using a toilet. schools have given us a variety of diagnoses, but none of them are from an actual medical doctor, and they are frequently conflicting anyway.

and it's not just me. it's also the insured who live in fear of getting sick. and, if you'll read, sometimes it kills them. media is rife with stories about people who had insurance and still lost everything they own. reputable studies that aren't funded by the insurance lobby tell us that over half of all bankruptcies in the united states are caused by medical debt, and two thirds of those people had insurance. what's more, the number of medical bankruptcies sampled by the study rose by nearly 50% in just six years.

i've talked at length about my own health issues and my own lack of coverage. i am uninsurable on the private market, so even if i had the money, i literally could not buy coverage at any price. i have two hopes: full-time employment at an employer that happens to offer benefits in the worst labor market since the great depression, or some sort of comprehensive health care reform that will cover me. as i wrote in september, my hope that any sort of health care reform will cover me is zero.

and i write this as i'm getting sick again. i wrote about my bronchitis, which i finally kicked thanks to some wildly expensive drugs i could not afford, but i'm spiking a rising temperature. job #1 in the morning, now just hours away, is to get into the student medical clinic, hopefully wednesday. i have a field trip this weekend and a plethora of work to do, and so i can ill afford this.

but all of that is well-worn and much commented-upon. and that isn't really why i hate my country and my state, and our elected leaders.

the reason i hate my country and my state are because of our unrelenting hostility to improving the situation. fully 45 years after the passage of the first civil rights act, we remain a nation of homophobic christian bigots who have lost, in the name of "capitalism" and "the free market," the idea of communal good that sustained human populations for thousands of years.

fully half of our nation votes for candidates who obstruct meaningful change at every opportunity, not because they are taking any principled stand or offering an alternative, but because it's more profitable for their political score-keeping or campaign coffers. in texas, this will eventually change because the demographics are inexorable as the state becomes more and more latino (because we know how welcome immigrants, or children of illegal immigrants, are in the republican party).

i live in a country where the police facilitate illegal abortion clinic harassment. i live in a country where a fair segment of the population thinks shooting doctors is good public policy or justified by their religion.

i live in a state where the sale of sex toys can land you in prison. yes, it's true that the 5th circuit overturned that law, but it's also true that courts are still enforcing this law.

i live in a state that enforces morality in law. it's illegal for a car dealership to be open on consecutive weekend days in texas, in addition to the dildo stupidity and alcohol insanity. public opposition to the opening of new hooter's franchises can tie up their liquor licenses for years in pointless litigation.

i live in a state where the governor, the second-longest-serving governor in the nation, and the longest-serving in texas history, believes that texas can leave the union if it wants. i recall that we fought a war over that, and the folks who thought they could leave ... lost.

i live in a nation where a fair number of people take seriously someone who wants to institute literacy tests as a requirement for voting. for my non-existent international readers, you will not know what most americans know: this is code for denying black people the right to vote. we have been down this road before.

a growing chorus of nutballs claims that christians are being increasingly persecuted in the united states. that's news to me. you'd think they'd hide their churches better if that were the case. yet this is at odds with political situations where churches regularly use liturgical justifications for denying marriage rights to gays and lesbians. where have i seen those justifications before?

i live in a place where an attempt to provide health care to every american is though of as socialist at best. yet here we see protests where people use images of the president with a hitler mustache. while it may be true that the pictures originated with the left-wing nutjobs, it's plenty obvious that the right-wing fringe has taken this up as well. (props to frank.)

this stands in stark contrast to documents like the universal declaration of human rights, which, with one side of its mouth, the united states regularly slaps such deserving nations as china, sudan, and north korea. the declaration was adopted in 1948, and yes, the united states signed on.

yet we can not bring ourselves as a nation to implement universal health care at even a basic level, a benefit to the populace that every other industrialized nation has managed. the more observant among you have already looked at the universal declaration of human rights and noted that article 25 says that every human has the right to health care. except, apparently, in the richest nation on earth.

we decry the proposal to make insurance companies pay for counseling about what to do during end-of-life care as a death panel. apparently the entire kerfuffle over the proposal, which would allow your doctor to bill the insurance company for the conversation, has morphed -- on the words of only sarah palin -- into a government plot that will pull the plug on grandma and kill handicapped children. get a goddamned grip.

i have a friend in australia that i love very much, and if the situation worked out, i might even try to persuade her to be my companion. but she says that she will not live in a third world country, and our health care system is why.

what's even more telling is that the same jesus-is-the-way religious nutcases are the same ones opposing health care reform, because it's their god-given right to keep all their money and woe betide anyone who tries to ask for some to make everyone's society a better place. i find it telling how they can selectively ignore what they claim is the inerrant word of god when it suits them:

genesis 4:9 cain and abel -- yes, i am my brother's keeper
luke 10:25-37 the good samaritan
luke 12:16-21 the rich fool
matthew 7 judge not, lest ye be judged.

they quote the 10th amendment to the constitution, saying that the federal government should stay out of health care on that basis. yet they ignore the preamble. if universal health care isn't "the general welfare," i don't know what is. (note that the site linked insists that this isn't the meaning the framers attached to the word welfare, but cites neither source nor alternative definition. i just picked it because it was first on google for the text i wanted.)

these are people who live in fear that their taxes might go up. yet our state governments are chronically under-funded, have billions of dollars of budget gaps, are cutting children's services, teachers, roads, schools, health care, everything in sight, to close the gaps.

yes, i will be pleased to give up half my income, if it means, in return, i get health care when i need it that won't bankrupt me, provided ... you get it too. that is what i want: health care for everyone. there is no reason i can accept that you should have good health care because of the luck of wealth or employment.

we have lost, in this country, a sense of shared duty, shared sacrifice, and shared community. we are so wrapped up in free enterprise and profit motive and all that adam smith shit that we have lost sight of the fact that we all need one another to survive. just like it takes it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a society to look after all its members.

i hate this.

i hate the bigotry, racism, and hypocrisy. i hate the accusation that i want something for nothing. no, i am happy to pay my share, if we all get something out.

i hate living in fear, for myself and my children. and i am tired of it.

if you will excuse me now, i need to go lay down and be sick with my fever, because that's the only health care option i have right now.

Monday, February 15, 2010

a thank you note

an open thank you note to rep. kay granger (r-tx12), rep. joe barton (r-tx6), sen. kay bayley hutchison (r-tx), and sen. john cornyn (r-tx).

wanted to let you know how wonderful and thrilling it is that you've completely sandbagged any chance our state might have had at anything approaching health care reform.

i wonder, though, what the alternative might have been when i got sick a couple of weeks ago. you see, i'm a full-time college student, and i'm too old to be carried on a parent's insurance policy. of course, even if raising the age had passed, i'd still be too old, but we never really got to find out because you didn't want it to pass, so it didn't.

so i went to the student health center, which is free to students, and the only kind of health care available to me in the best health care system you seem to think we have here in the united states. i was diagnosed with bronchitis. over the following weekend, it exploded into a sinus infection, too. i was given antibiotics -- zithromax, which costs about $35 if, like me, you don't have coverage.

this is, of course, a very significant stretch of cash for me. because you see, because you've been so good as to oppose help for the unemployed, help for the poor, and help for students at every opportunity, i've been out of work for nearly two years now. yes, if i'd ever had cobra benefits (which would have been unaffordable anyway) they would have run out long ago. so cutting all of that has really done texans like me a lot of good, and i'm so thrilled you've been there to support us. my entire budget for the remainder of the semester is on the order of $250 (it's now february, so this has to last until may), and i know how helpful all your policies have been. yay tax cuts!

a week goes by, and i'm still not better, so back i go to the student health center, where, i am told, it might be pneumonia. so i get an order for a chest x-ray i can not afford ($40), and an antibiotic i can not afford ($180). but you've so helpfully made it so that i can't have those and i can't get help from anywhere else -- i'm not sick enough for an ER yet. and so now the only thing to do is dose up on cough syrup, sudafed, and advil and hope that holds out long enough so that i don't suffer an agonizing slow suffocating death. hopefully, instead, i'll just keel right over and die.

because we can't have any kind of health care system that would assist people like me. nothing is always better than something, if something isn't exactly what we want (which, interestingly enough, is nothing).

i hope you'll excuse me now. i'm going to go lay back down and wheeze. there's nothing else for me to do, and you've made sure of it.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

god apparently loves some but not others

i repost herewith a comment i left on cecily's blog. for the zero people who read my blog, read the post and consider very carefully what she has to say.

and i've amplified beyond the lines and in the brackets.

---

i'm not a christian. i will never be a christian. i was raised jewish, but i'm not [really comfortable with] that either. a woman i am considering dating (who is a christian) asked me about god, and asked me to take her to a synagogue, so that she might learn [about my belief system and history]. i said that if she wants me to take her to the place i found god, i will be overjoyed to take her to an AA meeting. [as i have said elsewhere, if church is where you find god, AA is mine.]

what offends me most about cecily's experience at blissdom isn't that she felt overwhelmed and oppressed by the conservative christan contingent, or even that she recognizes that her feelings are (at least in part) self-inflicted. i feel that way as well, pretty much all the time, because i live in a place where possession of dildos can land you two years in the can, where it's illegal to sell cars on sunday, and where our state school board actively wants to bring creationism back.

what offends me most about cecily's experience is that the christian contingent is, unintentionally or not, totally oblivious to how their professions of faith affect, offend, and oppress those of us who don't share it ... even in AA meetings, which are supposed to be free of that sort of stuff. to me it speaks of a narrow-mindedness that infuses every aspect of their lives. [see the comment from "Kelly @ Wisdom Begun" on cecily's post to understand exactly what i'm talking about.]

makes me want to whump them with a clue bat.

maybe cecily judges less harshly because she herself is a stripe of [foul-mouthed liberal, feminist, fat, recovering alcoholic, mother, wife, woman, and writer, and imo totally awesome, as christians come] christian. but for those of you who have jesus as your ceo, you might consider sometime whether or not, in a just, tolerant society that respects and welcomes diversity (like, you know, the one we pretend we want to build for our children), you can keep what should be private, private, for a while.

---

when i came to AA, i learned about a merciful god who, if we let him, guides and teaches. but he's not an indian giver, he's not vengeful, he's not mean, he doesn't punish. i'm not a big fan of the "god has a plan for everyone" idea, but i acknowledge that there is sometimes no personal justice in the world. cecily and her experience with her twins, whom she named nicholas and zachary, didn't have a fucking thing to do with any kind of god i learned about in AA, or any kind of god i could ever believe in. instead, what happened to cecily, charlie, zach and nick are a manifestation of the shit happens factor."

that is now, and always has been, my biggest problem with christianity. there's no action involved. if i just believe hard enough, i'll get raptured, and tuff titties to anyone who doesn't.

i can not now, and will not ever, believe in a god who chooses to answer some prayers and not others. god loves everyone equally -- rich and poor, just and unjust, ugly and hot, gay and straight, married and single and fighting-for-marriage, stupid and smart, christian and witch, fat and thin -- or he does not. the rain falls on everyone.

the god i learned about provides comfort, not salvation, and not miracles. sometimes shit happens. humans invented gods to make sure things go right. that the sun would rise every day after its trip through the underworld. that the rain would come before everyone starved. to explain the world around us. even to give us a guide about how to live as reasonable, social people in a way that benefits everyone's survival. so that, really, the wild and crazy and scary world out there has a foundation from which we can take comfort, even when things don't go our way.

or, perhaps i might fall back to an only so-so movie starring george burns as god:

god: [answering tracy's question about why there is so much suffering in the world] i know this sounds like a cop-out, tracy, but there's nothing i can do about pain and suffering. it's built into the system.
tracy: which you invented.
god: right. but my problem was i could never figure out how to build anything with just one side to it.
tracy: one side?
god: you ever see a front without a back?
tracy: no.
god: a top without a bottom?
tracy: no.
god: an up without a down?
tracy: no.
god: okay. then there can't be good without bad, life without death, pleasure without pain. that's the way it is. if i take sad away, happy has to go with it.

and besides, i can't imagine a world i might want to create for my children where god doesn't love everyone.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

pearson education is fucked

never let it be said that i am afriad to name names where it's appropriate.

pearson education is yet another textbook publisher that tries to ass-rape students at every opportunity. this semester, i have to deal with them to take the second half of general chemistry. they provide a "custom edition" of the textbook (see one of my many textbook rants for the evils of a custom edition), and they also provide the homework site necessary to do homework and other required activities. like, you know, study for the exam i have thursday night.

so let me set the stage.

last week i started class and one of those evil homework site things is necessary. the code necessary to access the site "free!" came with the (exorbitantly-priced, evil custom-edition) textbook. the instructor supplied the other necessary code, to register for my particular section so that i can view things like, you know, assignments and the instructor can retrieve, you know, grades.

i was able to log in okay and all was well. i was able to access course content, although there really wasn't anything up yet as it was only the first day of class.

there is an exam in this class day on thursday, january 28. all the material on the exam is actually from general chemistry 1, but there is a review (supposedly) posted on the website.

so after class i logged in to retrieve it, and found that i am no longer registered for my section. i dragged out the syllabus, which contains the necessary code to register. i punch it in, and my browser even helpfully remembers it from last time. i get this error:

[code] is deactivated, expired, or closed. Please contact the course instructor.

so i was able to log in last week, but not this week. uh. okay. i verified my class registration on the school's registration system to make sure i hadn't been punted from the class entirely for some reason (not out of the realm of possibility for these dweebs), and then went on to the real issue -- pearson education's fucked up website, masteringchemistry.com.

now, contacting the course instructor has two major weaknesses.

first, it's not very practical at this late date -- i should have access to this material, and i did last week. but the exam is now less than 48 hours away. the only contact i have for her is her yahoo email address, and so i can't tell how long it will take her to receive my message and answer it. if she doesn't check her email until wednesday night, which would be a perfectly reasonable timeframe, that will be entirely too late for me. i can't spend thursday studying, because i'll be spending thursday in class. i need this material now.

second, she's simply not a technical person. to be fair, she is a chemist, not a nerd. but she doesn't really have a good grasp of how to use powerpoint (slides which have been helpfully prepared for her in advance by pearson), and so i suspect that it will actually cost me a great deal of my time to explain the problem in sufficient detail and sufficiently dumbed down so that she can comprehend it, only to find that she will be unable to resolve it, both because she doesn't comprehend it, doesn't know where to go to start fixing it, and doesn't have time before class thursday night anyway, all of which are reasonable situations. again, she's a chemist, not a nerd.

masteringchemistry.com offers two support options: 24x7 email, which offers no expectation of an answer in any time frame other than "within the next business day" if you actually go all the way through entering your question, or 24x7 chat.

understanding that usually chat requires that there is generally a cold-blooded vaguely-humanoid life form on the other end of these chat things, i went for that.

a most unhelpful conversation ensued, which i reprint below verbatim except for changing my real name and editing out the website codes and my email address. with any luck, daddy google might help with some positive search ranking.

also, as you read, remember that i have more than a decade experience dealing with technical support, on both ends of the phone. i have found that while vulgarity doesn't get you your way, being a firm jackass who won't accept anything except the information you need often will. but quick "get him off the phone" responses don't pass the smell test with me. i have been trained in, and used, all of them. this hominid (if i may use the term loosely) spouted several, and every time she did, it made me even more angry. (even angrier than i ordinarily would have been at the plainly obvious international outsourcing here.)

in any event, here we go.

---

Brenda: Hi, my name is Brenda. How may I help you?

Rainbow Warrior: I have apparently been de-registered from my class on MasteringChem. I need this resolved ASAP.

Brenda: We are sorry that you have experienced difficulties in registering for our website

Rainbow Warrior: So ... what do I need to tell you to get this resolved?

Brenda: One moment please while I investigate your issue.

Brenda: Are you trying to enroll in the new class?

Rainbow Warrior: I had enrolled in it last week. I tried to log in tonight, because there is material I need for an exam on Thursday, and I am a) no longer enrolled, and b) when I try to re-enroll, I get an error that the course ID has been deactivated.

Brenda: We verified that your course compass subscription has expired.

Rainbow Warrior: Could you restate that in English?

Brenda: Unfortunately I do not have a troubleshooting tip to resolve your issue.

Brenda: I am going to advance your incident to our next level support.

Brenda: They will contact you via email at the earliest possible time.

Rainbow Warrior: BZZZT, wrong answer. New book, new code. WRONG. I need this resolved *NOW*. I have material on that site I need *NOW*.

Brenda: Can I have the course ID?

Rainbow Warrior: [code]

Rainbow Warrior: The code I got with the purchase of the textbook was: [another code]

Brenda: We verified that you have successfully registered with the access code.

Brenda: I will advance this issue to our next level.

Brenda: Your course compass has expired on DEC-14-2008.

Rainbow Warrior: And my renewal last week ... evaporated?

Brenda: You have registered for the course.

Rainbow Warrior: Yet I can't access the content.

Rainbow Warrior: [code] is deactivated, expired, or closed. Please contact the course instructor.

Brenda: Can I have the text book title and edition for which you are trying to register?

Rainbow Warrior: McMurry/Fay General Chemistry: Atoms First, 1e

Brenda: We verified that you have successfully registered for McMurry/Fay General Chemistry: Atoms First, 1e

Rainbow Warrior: So logging in, http://session.masteringchemistry.com/myct, I get Join Course, which produces the error I pasted above. Assignments and Scores are greyed out.

Brenda: I have sent the login details to your registered email ID [address]

Brenda: Sorry. We understand that you are unable to view the link for Assignments and Scores .

Rainbow Warrior: I got it but I hadn't

Rainbow Warrior: I didn't have a u/p problem.

Brenda: Please contact your instructor regarding this issue.

Rainbow Warrior: Asking my instructor to help with this problem, which she was unable to do, is akin to asking a three year old to perform brain surgery with a stick and a plastic shovel. I was able to access this content last week. That isn't an instructor problem.

Brenda: What error you are getting in that/

Rainbow Warrior: In what?

Brenda: You have not de registered with your mastering chemistry.

Brenda: Your instructor should post assignments there.

Brenda: Then only you can view it.

Rainbow Warrior: I log into MasteringChemistry. I am presented with this URL: http://session.masteringchemistry.com/myct My options on the left are "Join Course," assignments is greyed out, scores is greyed out, eText is available, Study Area is available. When I Join Course with the listed course ID, I get: [code] is deactivated, expired, or closed. Please contact the course instructor. I was able to successfully view content last week -- Assignments were available, although nothing was actually open yet. This week I can not even get that far.

Brenda: We verified that you have no issues with your account.

Rainbow Warrior: So who's going to fix this? Magic pixie dust will fall out of the sky and resolve this sometime in the next 10 minutes so I can study for my exam Thursday?

Brenda: Your error itself saying to contact your instructor.He has to post assignment in that course so that only you can view it.

Rainbow Warrior: I contacted the instructor. She sent me to you guys. Her answer amounted to, "Uh, I dunno." She's a chemist, not a website developer.

Rainbow Warrior: So since you're obviously not the right person to discuss this with, who at Pearson is?

Brenda: We are sorry. I am going to advance your incident to our next level support.

Rainbow Warrior: And I expect to have this time-critical and grade-critical issue resolved ... when? And when that doesn't happen, I contact who, how?

Brenda: I have mentioned as urgent.They will contact you soon.

Rainbow Warrior: Which doesn't actually answer my question. Should I bug the Higher Ed support people, or should I skip straight to Upper Saddle River, NJ?

Brenda: We are sorry.

Brenda: If I have the resolution I will help you.

Brenda: I found no issues with your account.

Rainbow Warrior: Whelp. Google is gonna love this one.

You have disconnected.