Friday, July 20, 2012

From the Conductor's Office: Skipped Track

Photo by Bright Idea Photography
Well, there's no axiom, motto, slogan, or heartfelt advice as much true as "if it can go wrong, it probably will".

And, for the past couple of weeks, that's been the case around here, at Neverland Transit Authority. We've had crews out on the line doing their best to keep rails level, while engineers have worked around the clock tending precariously stoked boilers in an attempt to keep things on time, and on track
here at Grand Central Station.

But, eventually, something had to bust. And it busted hard.

Grand Central will be suspending service, and closed, until August thirty-first; when we'll return to Galactic Gun: The Adventures of Justin Bailey and Stuff from the Life and Times of Conductor Chuck. We hope to see you back, then. And, as always, we appreciate your patronage and look forward to serving our ridership, once more.

Charlie Irons
NTA Comics

Monday, July 16, 2012

Stuff: Educated

Yes, once again it's time for another quick dropped edition of Stuff; as another school crisis has surfaced. And this time it's a dozy.

You see, in 1999, I had to basically walk away from my education. The reasons were numbered, but, essentially, I had run out of time and money; as I had to pay out of pocket because, back then, my school told me I didn't qualify for any sort of aid to help me finish. So, just four classes shy of a degree in Animation (Which I didn't know at the time how close I had gotten.) I entered the work field as a building maintenance technician.

Little more than a decade later and, because of the state of the economy, I've had to rebuild four times, until, finally, in 2008, I began to be phased out of the Facilities job market, all together; replaced by outsourced contractors. What little work I could find no longer paid enough to keep a roof over my head, let alone pay any bills, buy food, etc. Thank the California economic mind set for valuing boom and bust style business over dependable, stable job models, I suppose.

So, at the beginning of 2012 I made a choice. And, after some research, found I could finally get the aid I needed to return to school, get an Associates Degree, and start a real career and be able to earn a living and plan a future. Of course, my goals in art had changed, and nearly all my classes were now completely out of date, so I switched gears to the more practical Graphic Design program, and headed back to get educated.

But I couldn't have known how I was going to be punished for those classes from a dozen years ago. The system has assumed, right off the bat, that I am trying to bilk it, I suppose. Because of the old credits, I've been placed on permanent probation; where one false move spells utter disaster. If I so much as miss a class - or even withdraw, my aid is revoked completely. probably forever. Worse, yet? My financial aid funds have been held back till, literally, the middle of this quarter. And, will be continually held back every quarter.

Why? Not for my performance. I came back into the school system with a 2.87 GPA (B-). And, in my first quarter back, took two A+'s and an A. In fact, I don't think I've ever worked so hard in school in my whole life, before. I'm not just going back to school, here; I'm trying to, basically, save my life and future.

I've had to scramble to save this quarter; what with my funds being held, not once, but twice, now, it's cost me the ability to get another "perfect A" quarter (Been bluffing my way through since I can't afford the texts), as well as an internship at the school. The toll on me, financially, has been huge. And emotionally? Devastating, to say the least.

A dozen years ago no one would help me get an education, so I was forced to go to work. Now that the new economy is wiping away my job, I'm pretty much forced to go back to school; regardless if I were to remain in my current job path, or break out into Graphic Design. But the system is trying to push me out every chance it can get.

My school has become the biggest obstacle to my education.

Why? In a world that's so dependant, now, on its citizens having some sort of degree, or certificate, would they actively work to make it nearly impossible? Don't we need well paid workers, in every field, to help us compete in the new global economy? Isn't it important to have financially stable people keeping our economy turning; aiding in its recovery? What's the point of punishing those who try to return to school in order to do better in life, and contribute to society?


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Stuff: You snooze, I lose...

Kim and I are known for some pretty memorable dates. Of course, it helps if you're well rested and your schedule isn't completely packed from sun up to sun down.