Tuesday, February 28, 2012

And... just to complicate things further

February 28th, 2012
From: Harvard Admissions Office

Dear Rachel Ashby,

On behalf of the Committee on Admissions and Degrees, I am pleased to extend to you an offer of admission to the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH).

Monday, February 27, 2012

An Application Risk

February 16, 2012
From: Boston University

Dear Rachel:

We recently received your application to the MPH program at Boston University and wanted to get back to you immediately. We are in the midst of reviewing a record number of applications and like what we see in you. Because our selection process is very rigorous, we want to be sure that the students we admit will add to our culture of challenge and dedication.

Please tell us what you think you can add to our tight-knit community of students and alumni. We’re not looking for a specific answer here; we’d just like to know a bit more about you and why BUSPH is the right place for you.

Please reply directly to this email and keep it short and simple.

I look forward to your reply.

Best regards,

J. E. Hull
Assistant Dean of Admissions

February 17, 2012
From: Rachel
To: Boston University

Ms. Hull –

I am glad to hear you are considering my application and would like to know more about me.

I could tell you that when I visited Boston for the first time last May I fell in love with the city and the feel of Boston University. I could tell you that, although I’ve looked into and applied for other programs, my hopes keep coming back to the International Health MPH at BUSPH. It fits everything that I am looking for in an MPH program, and I believe that my global education and broad work experience are, in turn, what you are looking for.

But as you say, BUSPH has a culture of challenge and dedication… so I would like to show you an example of how I can bring these qualities to your school. I hope you will enjoy this short and simple video that will show you my response to a recent challenge:


Thank you again for your consideration! I look forward to hearing more from you.


Rachel Ashby

February 27, 2012
From: Boston University

Dear Rachel:

I am writing today with some good news. You have been accepted to the Master of Public Health program at Boston University School of Public Health entering in the fall of 2012. In addition, you have been chosen to receive a merit award towards your BUSPH tuition.

In the coming weeks, you will receive an acceptance packet in the mail detailing our offer of admissions, as well as further information about your merit award and additional financial aid and scholarship opportunities.

Congratulations. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Best wishes,

J. D. Neessen
Associate Director of Admissions Outreach

Touching The Ground Is For Suckers

Theo races the ball return at the bowling alley in our friend Jeff's house.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Another fun work conversation...

I had an interesting conversation the other day with a student employee (Mr. A), hired to clean the anatomy lab on the weekends. I did you all a favor and edited this immensely. The entire conversation took about 45 minutes. And that’s only with me. My coworker had been discussing this with him for about 15 minutes before I saved her. And while it may seem like I’m annoyed at some points, I really wasn’t. I found the whole conversation very entertaining. Mr. A didn’t, though. He was very, very serious.

Mr. A comes to my desk.

Mr. A: I got confused on this bi-weekly timesheet, and forgot to add some hours to my last one.

Claire: That’s ok. We’ll get you a new one to fill out, we’ll pay you for those on the next pay cycle, and then you can get back on track. Here, I’ll help you fill it out.

Mr. A: This is complicated. At Safeway, I just clocked in, and out.

Claire: Well, this isn’t that complicated, either. You’ll get used to it. Just write down how many hours you work each day, and get your supervisor to sign.

Mr. A: Well, how do I write down that I worked 4 hours and 39 minutes?

Claire: You need to round to the nearest quarter hour mark. So, write that down as 4.75 hours.

Mr. A: I don’t like that. Why can’t we just write down exactly what time we worked?

Claire: Well, I guess so that it makes it easier on everybody processing payroll. Also, that’s how the payroll system is coded, and that’s the policy of Student Employment. Everyone figures over the long run, things even out.

Mr. A: Sure, but what if I consistently work 5-6 minutes under. Over the course of the quarter that could work out to 30 minutes or so that I don’t get paid for. Or the other way around, what if I DO get paid for 30 minutes that I don’t work?

I do the math, and figure we’re talking about a max of $4.

Claire: - Trying to get things moving- Ok, how many hours did you work on Saturday?

Mr. A: Hmmm. Well….you see. This is where it gets a little complicated. My brother came in to help me. And Dr. G said I could just combine his hours with mine, and I could pay him cash.

Claire: - silence - Um. That’s actually not ok, or legal.

Mr. A gets offended, thinking I’m calling him a liar, and shows me the text message from Dr. G giving him permission.

Claire: I believe you, and we’ll work this out this time, but I’m telling you that Dr. G was wrong to tell you this was ok, and this can’t continue. There are all kinds of liability issues, and employment policies being broken by this, (I'm also thinking of random people let loose in the anatomy lab) and I’m telling you now.

For now, what it comes down to is this: you need to work out with him what he’s willing to pay you, fill out the number of hours you agree on, and have him sign. Then we'll pay.

But no more bringing your brother.

Mr. A goes back to the Anatomy lab, and comes back with a signed timesheet.

Mr. A: You know, this place seems like it makes it really easy for an illegal immigrant to work here.

Claire: What do you mean? We verify all employees.

Mr. A: Yeah, but I brought my brother.

Claire: - silence - Good point. But we’re going to rectify that, aren’t we? And it never should have happened.

Mr. A: But I had approval for that!

Claire: Not from me. Dr. G gave you bad information. And UC Davis didn’t hire your brother. You did.

Mr. A: But nothing stopped me.

Claire: Ok, yes. You cheated the system. Congratulations.

Mr. A: It just seems like, a lot of wink, wink, nudge, nudge, under the table, look the other way stuff is happening.

Claire: I’m sorry. Would you like me to remove the hours for your brother? Seriously trying to figure out which side of this argument he's on.

Mr. A thinks long and hard

Mr. A: Ok, yeah. He erases half his hours

Claire: surprised Really?

Mr. A: Yeah. Otherwise, I won't have backup for my point.


Mr. A: There should be a better system.

Claire: Like what?

Mr. A: I don’t know, but it's too easy to just lie about my hours.

Claire: - silence - I don't know what to tell you. You fill out a timesheet, somewhat on the honor system, yes. Your supervisor decides if that seems appropriate time for the work you’ve done, and signs. We pay.

Mr. A: But I could be dishonest!

Claire: Yes.

Mr. A: But it shouldn't be that way!

Claire: What exactly would you have us do? Install video cameras, and then have people watch the footage to make sure you were working the whole time?

Mr. A stares at me, silently.

I stare at Mr. A, silently.

Mr. A: I’m not sure what you want me to say.

Claire: - laughing - I’m just not sure there’s anything we can do for you. I’m not even very clear at this point what you want.

Mr. A stares at me, silently.

I stare at Mr. A, silently.

Mr. A: Well, I shouldn't be able to write down a wrong number.

Claire: We don't live in a police state, Mr. A.

Seriously. Imagine this conversation 6 times as long and convoluted.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

you win some

jack took a long drink of grape juice - lots of swallows in a row and when he had drained the cup he gave a big sigh, put a fist in the air and declared,



while colin is asleep, jack and i will snuggle on the couch and play questions. i ask him one, and then he asks me one. i asked him what 6+2+2 is, then he asks me do i like milk or juice better. sometimes it is light, like when i ask him what the word "lollypop" starts and ends with.

and sometimes it gets very very deep...

"which do you like better: to have owies or not to have owies?"

here is another (he is getting creative):

"which do you like better: to roll the window down in the car? or to get blood all over you?"

And the number one way you know that you have been too lazy in the laundry department is....
me- "hey jack, go put these clothes in your drawer."
jack- (long pause) "i have a DRAWER?!"

ok, one more (jack is funny these days):

jack (after really hurting his leg) - (howling) "my leg hurts so BAD and i am never going to walk ever ever again and for the rest of my LIFE i will be stuck in this CHAIR!!"
me- "well... that is a little silly, don't you think?"
jack (thinking) - "you are right. YOU will be carrying me around."


Friday, February 17, 2012

Thursday, February 16, 2012


Last night I was looking everywhere for my keys. Everywhere.  I was so confused thinking, there's only 3 places I put them down and I know I came in the door with them so where could they possibly be???  I even said a prayer and got no inspiration.
Then the next morning, not thinking he would know, I ask Levi.  You haven't seen my keys have you?  He gets a funny look on his face.  "Oh uh haha, I hid them to trick you."  He crawls into a cupboard.  "They are back here behind the animal crackers."  Wow, I didn't think to look there. 
So I was thinking.  You know that part in the Book of Mormon where the people are cursed and their treasures become slippery?  Maybe those people just had small children.
This is supported by the fact that the drawers in the toy room may be cursed with spewus totallum the self-emptying curse.

Friday, February 10, 2012

A Cat By Any Other Name

The new cats are here, and the name game is well underway. Here is a summary of preferences thus far:

Sisters, et al- Galusha Pennypacker and Cap'n George Backstabber

Lucy- Starbuck and Apollo

Theo- Oopsie and Butterfly

Lucy/Theo negotiated proposal- Starbuck (pronounced 'Starbutt' by some), and Butterfly

Carrie- Whim and Chaos (from a fortune cookie,"A failure to schedule will mean a life dictated by whim and chaos.")

Chris- anything but Starbuck and Apollo

Levi- Fluffernutter and Captain Fuzzypants

Tim- doesn't care so much, as long as we get the anatomy right

Gordon- Sam.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


With February here, and the trees only starting to get leafy, I started to look around for a project. Here is a wrap up of what I have completed so far:

Project #1
Inspiration: the table has had a short leg since we bought it for $100. I found this on Pinterest. Or maybe Amazon Prime.

I liked this idea a lot, and I knew I could do it.

How I did it: Wandered around the playroom until I spotted an old Disney Princess tea set which has fallen into disuse, as most of the pieces are missing. Found this plastic bowl for free and used every inch of it to make this cute thing that will fit for a long time.

Still have to do something with piece of old rice on floor (dumpster find).