Friday, August 10, 2012

Life in the Curmudgeon commune - an Olaf update

Olaf's appeals to the math department (I've posted about this here and here) have met with some success. (To summarize, Olaf did not graduate because he suffered from uncontrolled migraines for a year and a half -- yes, he went to the doctor -- lots of times -- there were a couple of ER visits, too -- but Olaf's parents have an HMO and the doctor had no sense of urgency. The doctor wrote all sorts of prescriptions, and none worked. It was not until after Olaf was engaged to Younger Daughter -- and we found out that Younger Daughter was expecting -- that Olaf's mother was persuaded to demand that he son get referred to a specialist who might actually provide useful treatment. Only from Easter on did Olaf's condition improve -- and this was not, sadly, always a straight-line progression.)

While graduation this month is still extremely unlikely, Olaf was allowed to complete one course that had remained incomplete since the second semester of his junior year. He took the final in that course yesterday; his final paper will be turned in some time today. And the department chair relented on the idiotic one hour seminar requirement (her pet course, apparently) that mostly involved going to math lectures outside of school and writing papers about what was said. I argued that Olaf could get as much or more from viewing a couple of math-related TED talks on YouTube. Olaf adopted my argument and the department chair relented -- reluctantly. She liked the group bonding experience that occurred when the handful of math majors went together to these talks. Even yesterday she was trying to sell Olaf on deferring graduation until May 2013 in order to participate.

I would have killed the woman on the spot. My grandchild is coming by early October whether Olaf takes the seminar in the Spring of 2013 or 2257. Olaf refrained from any violence. On balance, that's probably to his credit.

In addition to everything else, Olaf took, and completed, three additional courses this summer. This gives him enough hours to graduate -- but it doesn't get him the math degree. He still needs, in order of increasing difficulty, (1) to complete the makeup work for the seminar, (2) to get a waiver of the 'service learning' requirement (promised now a couple of times because of his physical condition at the time he was supposed to perform the service, but so far not reduced to paper) and (3) to complete one more math elective.

This last may prove the insurmountable obstacle. Olaf was enrolled in a statistics course in the spring that would have fulfilled the requirement. Homework was due at every class and could only be turned in during class. Olaf's uncontrolled migraines made regular attendance impossible. According to the course syllabus, late homework was to be counted at only 50% -- and would be accepted only for a day. Well, Olaf did complete all his homework in the course eventually. As new medication began to take hold, his migraines subsided to the point where he could do serious work again. And he had gotten deadly serious about trying to graduate on time. So he did have everything ready to turn in at the time of the final -- but the teacher wouldn't hear of it.

Besides, there were three tests in the class. Olaf missed the first because of migraine. He agreed with the professor to count the second test double to make up for it. On the day of the second test, though, Olaf was in the grips of yet another migraine. This was in his beginning-to-improve phase and this migraine was not of the vomiting-in-his-bed-and-unable-to-stand variety that he had been enduring. So Olaf showed up for the test -- and failed.

By the final, though, Olaf was ready. His head clear, his coursework completed, he was willing to hazard the final. He showed up, completed homework in hand, ready to go. The professor, however, was not willing to let him take the test. He offered Olaf a choice: I will let you withdraw or, if you don't withdraw, I will fail you.

Olaf withdrew.

And his "voluntary" withdrawal is being held against him as he appeals for an opportunity to complete this class. The professor and, yesterday, the department chair, have rejected his appeals. The academic dean is next -- but the summer semester closes a week from today.

The homework 'rule' in that course is what really frosts me. I can understand the teacher wanting to compel attendance by enforcing such a policy. The penalty makes sense if the student is out singing melodies from "The Student Prince" in local beer halls by night, rendering himself unavailable for class in the morning. But, where the school is aware of a physical condition that is hampering attendance, and gives written direction to faculty to accommodate the student's inability to attend, enforcement of this policy becomes ridiculous -- and possibly actionable.

The problem with 'lawyering up' at this stage is that an August graduation would be rendered impossible -- and it might complicate Olaf's ability to get out in January, too.

I am reconciled, I think, to having Olaf not graduate until January. He can take another math elective and look for work in the meantime. The school will not charge him any tuition for the course (we're told) and he may be able to qualify, as a student, for university-provided health insurance that will protect our grandchild. With his migraines under control, he will be employable.

And they must be under control: If the stress of the last month or so hasn't brought the migraines back, Olaf's medication must be working very well indeed. I wish I could get hold of something that would keep me calm and focused. Long Suffering Spouse would want some for herself, too. I told you early last month that she was already beginning to chafe at our new living situation. She's still chafing. But we'll save that description for a different post.


David Christian Newton said...


Some experience with same. Brown paper grocery bag. Cut one-square foot section. Fold to a nice square...perhaps 4" X 4" and soak in plain white (crystal) vinegar. Let it soak for 15 minutes minimum, squeeze it out, and soak it again for 3 minutes.
Apply to forehead, leaving it for 5 minutes. Repeat the second soaking and forehead application a second and third time.
Do this for a month, at night, every other night. Do not take Tylenol. The tiny aspirin (81mg) one a day, only.
Cured my wife, my brother, and a couple of other folks close to the family (actually family members, 1st/2nd cousins)
Your writings are an excellent waste of time, very easy to follow, and heavy with meanings that people can instantly relate to their own lives.
El Gringo Viejo

The Curmudgeon said...

I will do my best to remember the recipe. Thank you.

"An excellent waste of time" -- this one is going on the dust jacket of the book -- I hope you'll come back and waste more time here in future.