Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Stupid should hurt

Okay so as you may be aware, I'm currently working on my MBA.  And this term I decided to do a full-time student course load.  While still working full time.  But I'm a reasonably good student and ridiculously good at sticking to a schedule, so I worked out the study plan and decided I could do it.  All good.   Remember that ;-P

Now while I'm actually getting a ton out of the courses, the school's admin is a disaster.  There are SO many problems and it's super-frustrating.  One of these nightmares is acknowledgement of capabilities.  One of the courses is project management.  The curriculum listed is within my ability to teach, and all stuff I can do in my sleep.   So I applied for an exemption.  They said I'd need to submit my resume and proof of meeting the learning objectives.  Okay cool.   So I send my resume, proof of various courses I've taken, documented how I address all the learning objectives in my day job, sent some sample artefacts w made up data, AND got two sponsors, my current manager and my past manager to all write letters of recommendation specifically addressing the items listed in the "learning outcomes".   Thanks to my awesome people, they were detailed and targeted.  Should be good to go right?

Nope - I get back an email saying that what I sent "demonstrates that she is an experienced and knowledgeable project manager. However, more supporting documents are needed".   So I kept reading to find what they wanted -- well apparently I needed to "provide a list of PM techniques and concepts that you have applied in your work. Also briefly reflect on your experience and explain how utilising these concepts helped you to effectively managing projects as a program/project manager. To support your claims, please submit additional supporting documents which can clearly demonstrate your understanding of the following topics:

- Project definition

- Project scheduling and estimation

- Risk management

- Strategies for successful implementation of a project"

I'm not even kidding.   WTF?   So I have to basically write a fluff paper (which, if I wanted to write a paper, I'd just do the course), and submit artefacts, that I can't submit because they're all confidential and owned by RBC.  And in the school's own policy it says never to use work items without explicit approval.   So yeah - I was super annoyed.  They basically say they know I can do what they're supposed to be teaching, but too bad.  Oh - and on top of that 'we're updating the curriculum so you'll have to resubmit to meet the new objectives'.  I was not amused.

Except -- somebody else let me know if you have your PMP, it's an automatic exemption.  Hmmm okay.  So I verified that and got it in writing - it's a true story.  Right, so I've actively avoided doing the PMP because I really strongly feel it's a test of memorization more than competency.  BUT, it is the most recognized certification in North America (it exists elsewhere too, but other ones outrank it across the pond).  So my options are - do the MBA course, roughly twice the cost of doing the PMP, bitterly resent every minute of it, and not get anything extra out of it.  Or do the PMP, have extra letters after my name, and get out of doing the MBA course.   Right - kinda a no brainer.

Okay so I look into what it takes to do the PMP.  Need to document formal education and 3 years of PM exp, and need 35h of formal training.  Okay no problem.   PM course for MBA is in April, so have to be done PMP by then.  Say by Feb ideally to give ridiculous admin time for back and forth.

Right - except the PMP exam is being revised; the new exam starts being issued Jan 2.   And the new material to learn for the new exam?  Yeah - it's being released in March.   Awesome.  Right, so I don't want to do that.   Sooooo need to get my PMP before Dec.  It was the last week of Nov at this point.

Okay sure.  Look up exam options first of all - is it even possible?  Well COVID win - exam is now done online and very flexible scheduling.   Sweet.  Then course options, found one that runs four days from Dec 7-10.  Huh.  Okay.  So reach out to my boss, "I haven't had any training in 3 years, could I go on this course that's specifically targeted to my job and enables me to get the certification you want me to have?"  While they weren't able to fund said course, they were able to support me going during work time.  So win there too.  And they would pay for the exam if I passed.  Sweet.

Alright so scheduling...   Google says one should study for 3 months for this exam.  I'm sure five weeks will be fine.   And it probably would've been...    Except...  Well, I don't really want to stress over this over Xmas, so let's do it before.  Okay so 4-ish weeks...    So I order a couple textbooks off of Amazon (after a quick research to pick the best ones) and add to my study schedule of how to get this done in with all my course work.   Final assessments are due Dec 10, and the course starts on the 7th.  So I figured out what I'd have to do to have the textbooks read and be prepped for the course and good to go.

bwahahaha right.  Remember that whole FT student thing?  I drastically underestimated what that would take.  The term papers destroyed me.  I put SO much time and effort into getting them done, that there was about one chapter of PMP prep.   *sigh*    Less good, but such is life.  Rejig the calendar to get all my studying in and target exam Dec 21.   Are you tracking with the dates?  We've gone from 3 months to about 3 weeks...

And then the course was the absolute biggest waste of time I've ever been subjected to.   On the plus side, one of the textbooks I bought was *amazing* - like to the point that I looked up the series to see if they taught any other subjects I might want to learn (I'm moderately considering physics.  I always enjoyed physics till it required calculus *sigh*).  Sadly though most of their subjects are programming related, which I have zero interest in.   If anyone else is, look up the "Head First" series.  It's ridiculous and simplified, and -- actually worked.  So win.  The second textbook was far more traditional, but it balanced out that one and between them I was forcing knowledge into my little brain.   Every moment that wasn't otherwise booked was being used to study and do practice tests.   

And I was a little panicked at first as I wasn't scoring all that well on the practice tests.  A pass is somewhere around 65 and they say you should be doing about 80 on the tests before you do the exam.  At the start I was barely making the 65 but by the end I was pretty consistently over 80, so that helps.

So okay, finished the course, went to book the exam and...  It turns out the whole world wants to get the exam in before Jan 1.   Frig.  My only reasonable time of day option was on Thurs the 17th.  Right -- This was Tuesday and I still had 5 chapters left in both textbooks (out of 10).  Much less time for overall review.  Sure.  Why not.

Well my brain is broken.  But about 2 weeks of studying, 1310 pages (of which I read Every. Single. One. -- I've never been so glad I read quickly), several hours of online videos, 17 formulas memorized, and 1200 practice questions later...  I passed the exam.

I am *the* most relieved person right now.  Also, my brain is done.  It's a good thing work isn't super busy this week ;-P.  I won't get my term papers back till next week, but I'm hoping they'll be reasonable.  Oh and new class work is released tomorrow.  I'm going to ignore it till at least Mon lol.  I feel that's fair.

Also - those 17 formulas I memorized?   I didn't get to use a single one.  I was counting on those as gimmies.   Sheesh.   

And tomorrow I have a Spanish lesson cause I definitely haven't even pretended to study that for the last two weeks (unless working out w Spanish music playing counts?)

But this weekend, there will be no brain power used.

Sometimes you just need a sugar break


They might love me;
Or they might want my Rice Krispie Square...

So I definitely made Rice Krispie squares tonight solely cause I found a bag of marshmallows this am when I was looking for something else and have been craving them ever since.

To put in perspective, in order to acquire the Rice Krispies to made said squares, I ended up leaving class half an hour early (to be fair, it’s recorded) so I could get to the grocery store before it closes lol.

So yeah - it turns out I make really good RK Squares, so I’m pretty pleased at that.  It also turns out if you let the dogs lick the bowl, it’s the same result as when they get peanut butter stuck to the top of their mouths ;)

So today I visited Ireland and got to ride a Pegasus -- what did you do?

So today I visited Ireland.   Or, well, as much as one can travel in 2020 anyways.  Let me tell you, I'm really glad 2019 was the year I invested in VR.

My VR photography skills need some work,
but this is what I managed on my first efforts

But yeah - technology is fun.  My entry-level (non-electronic) exercise bike has cadence and speed sensors duct taped to it (I'm not even kidding) - a relatively inexpensive addition (certainly less than purchasing a fancy bike!).    Combine that with my Quest and some fun software, and I'm set :)

This was today's route
All from my basement.

So today I decided to ride in Ireland -- which I never realized was so hilly?!?!   Yeah, I'm going to be tired tomorrow.   And it was grey and theoretically drizzly at times but given I was indoors, way better than the -3 and rainy that Google tells me it was there today.

My trainer, Josh, accompanied me.  I failed to get a picture of Josh -- I've posted in one of the forums to find out what the trick is to good in-game photos cause I'm definitely missing something.  Lol most of them don't have the obnoxious menu blocking shots and can clearly get action shots, which I cannot.   So new skills to develop ;).  But yeah, Josh randomly tells me when to increase the difficulty or relax for a bit.  It's not actually in any way, shape, or form connected to the terrain, but I could definitely see that coming in another generation.

It is somewhat eerie to glance down and see the pedals spinning on your bike with no legs or feet, lol but otherwise it's v realistic.  Can even see your and/or your trainer's shadow.

The software is admittedly first-generation lol.  Lots of obvious refreshing and semi-regular glitchiness.  But still WAY more interesting than staring at a wall in my basement.   But then, far more fun, are the games.  lol the other day I was racing a car, but honestly going in circles is both boring and frustrating.  So today I flew a pegasus!  lol.  I seem to recall playing a Pegasus game where I actually got to ride it (and there's definitely a horse game that you get to ride) but this one was a weird - slightly behind/above view.   Still did get a reasonable feeling of flying though and certainly exercise time passed quickly as I was flying around collecting coins and other things...  Why?  I have no idea.  I honestly am not sure what the objective of the game is.  lol but it was good exercise that didn't feel like exercise so I'm deeming that a win.

This just in - FB forum told me the trick to taking pics without the obnoxious menu.  Win :)   So next time I'm adventuring I'll try to get some more interesting shots.

Down the rabbit hole

So I've been having way too much fun with my marketing assignment.  Lol that might be a first — and this is my *cough* fourth degree, so that’s saying something ;).  And no, it's prob not actually a first, but a rarity at least. 

So here’s the thing — it started with “create a persona” — which, let’s be honest, is just creative writing.  So I was moderately entertained doing that.  But then you need data to back up all the details of your persona.  

This is Sarah, my persona.  
Turns out Marketing papers can include pictures!

Now usually I hate finding sources.  I always write my paper first and then look for other people who’ve said roughly the same thing (let’s be honest, for better or for worse, you can find research to support pretty well any opinion you want).  And I pretty bitterly resent the fact that somebody else saying it legitimizes it, but me saying it isn’t good enough.  I am totally fine with it when they do actual work to prove it though.  lol - a lot of these are science-based research, in that case, I'm all for it. Proof for the win!   But when I was writing English papers and it was their opinion about a dead guy's writing vs mine...   Really?  Less interested.  Arguably if they already thought of it, it meant to me that my paper wasn't creative or interesting enough.  lol I had some interesting debates with my profs in uni.

Anyways -- I was somewhat confused why I was enjoying this one so much, until I realized it’s very similar to when I was writing and went down random rabbit holes to ensure the accuracy of some obscure, likely to be cut in the editing process, detail.

For instance — the first part of the persona needs to be “A day in the life”.  Cool, flash fiction 101 - no problem.  Had to keep it marginally reality based, my “semi-fictional” persona couldn’t stumble upon a magic coffee shop, or find an air-conditioned cape on a hot day, but other than making for a remarkably boring story it’s the same premise.   But then, anything that you’ve stated in the story, needs data to back it up.   AND data goes in footnotes, which means it doesn’t go against my word count, which means Win!

Lol so let’s see….  She wakes up, rolls over, and turns off her alarm on her phone.   Okay - well CRTC says 90% of Canadian’s have cell phones.  Win.  She gets up and dressed, and on her way down the stairs pounds on the doors of her daughter (age 14) and son (age 12).    Oh so much there — I had the average age a woman is when she has her first child (hint - in Canada it’s 28) and did the math to validate daughter’s age.   Average number of children.  Sleep cycles and circadian rhythms in teenagers and impact on their parents.

You get the idea.  So far my google hole searches have found such things as:

  • Sleep patterns in adolescents 
  • Most popular Canadian sports for boys
  • Top selling luxury vehicles
  • Motivations for participation in equestrian sports
  • Use of internet in higher-income households
  • Commuting within Canada’s largest cities
  • Commensal eating patterns (this was to justify my persona having lunch w a girlfriend to vent about work/family/etc)
  • Eating out - how often and why
  • “Fertility — Fewer children, older moms” - seriously, that's what the stats can article was called
  • Average number of pets in households where at least one person rides (in Ontario it’s 1.8 dogs and 2.5 cats.  I’m not even kidding - I found the stat for that.  Well, as of 2010 anyways ;)
  • Body Image Distortion in women
  • Productive laziness?!?!   This sounded like it would be awesome.  It was not.  And arguably more applicable to my ops paper than my marketing one.
  • Physical and mental impact on working mothers
  • Imposter syndrome
  • Impact of exercise on stress
  • Impact of animals on stress levels
  • Equine Assisted Therapy

Admittedly the sources I need to have in the next section of the paper are the far more traditional text-book marketing theory type references, but this section was all kinds of entertaining.   Also my max 3000 word paper is currently sitting at nearly 6000 words - but thanks to the magic of footnotes, I only really have to cut about 400 of them ;).  And, well, 10% margin, so really, 100 of them.  That's not even a challenge (to put in perspective, I cut nearly 800 words from my first draft of my ops paper).   But that game is for tomorrow Lauren to play.