Gambling with OSAP

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I’m not usually a betting man, but in the last week I reached a critical point in terms of funding my grad school habit and I had to reconsider some options I had previously ruled out.

On the 7th of September, I received a nasty surprise by email: tuition for nursing school is literally on an order of magnitude higher than I was originally billed. At first, I thought that they were charging me tuition twice—once for my bioethics MA and once for my nursing MSc(A). I went in to the Service Point office to double-check, and it turns out that the tuition fee was accurate. It’s going to cost me about $11,000 for nursing school for this year, when you put together all the tuition, fees, books, uniforms and equipment.

So I went in to McGill student services to see what my options were and if there was anything that they could do to help me. The woman at the desk told me to make an appointment by email. I emailed and McGill student aid actually declined to meet with me to discuss my situation. They no longer respond to my emails.

So at first I panicked, and considered dropping out of the programme just because I couldn’t afford it: I didn’t have the money, I had no prospects of getting a TA-ship or an RA-ship, and I had no collateral for a bank loan. You might be asking yourself, what about the student loans you got in previous years? Why not get another one of those?

It’s true. In years past, in order to make ends meet, I did successfully apply to OSAP for a student loan. I did not apply this year because in October of last year, OSAP sent me a letter indicating that they would not send me any more loans until I sent them a payment of $2222. They did this because I was offered my RA-ship after I had already received my student loan for last year. (For the record, last year they sent me about $5000 to live on for the whole year.) So when I told them that I had an RA-ship after all, they decided that they overpaid me by $2222.

Up until September 7th, it appeared that my tuition would be roughly the same as last year, so I didn’t think it was rational to apply for OSAP: if it would take a $2222 payment just to apply, and they only sent me $5000 last time, it’s entirely possible that I would receive a loan for no more money (or possibly less) than I spent to apply.

Then September 7th rolled around and I found out how much tuition actually costs, which changed a few variables. Since tuition is so much higher this year than last year, I decided to make the repayment and gamble that OSAP will send me more in loans than I’m expending for the ability to apply.

As it stands now, I have sent in the $2222 and I’m waiting to hear back from them about how much (if any) money they plan on loaning me for this year. The size of the loan will dictate whether or not I stay in school.

What’s really annoying about this whole thing is that OSAP has given me a strong disincentive to accept any upcoming offers of legitimate work for this year. For example, if I am offered an RA-ship, OSAP will hear about it and probably do the same thing as last year—demand that I repay a large sum of money. The harder I work, the less help I get. Frustratingly, if I had just sat on my rear end all summer and burned through my savings rather than working and setting aside money for school, I would actually be much less stressed about whether or not I have enough money to make it through the school year.

Anyone need a kidney? Lightly used—like new! Still in original packaging.

BibTeX

@online{bgcarlisle2011-2172,
    title = {Gambling with OSAP},
    journaltitle = {The Grey Literature},
    author = {Benjamin Gregory Carlisle},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2011-09-15,
    url = {https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/09/15/gambling-with-osap/}
}

MLA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. "Gambling with OSAP" Web blog post. The Grey Literature. 15 Sep 2011. Web. 26 Sep 2017. <https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/09/15/gambling-with-osap/>

APA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. (2011, Sep 15). Gambling with OSAP [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/09/15/gambling-with-osap/


Answering my readers’ questions

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Everyone gather ’round. It’s that time again! It’s time for me to answer my readers’ questions!

And by that, I mean, it’s time for me to see what strings of words people have typed into Google that brought them to my blog. Then I look through the search keywords that are (more-or-less) well-formed questions and answer them as best I can. It’s the least I could do, since they took the time to visit my site with these questions on their mind.

“Why can’t the space shuttle leave conventionally from an airport?” (July 26)

Mostly because it’s not an airplane. Those booster rockets that the space shuttle normally uses for take-off are not decorative.

“Is a direct entry master of nursing an okay option?” (Aug 12, 14, 15)

That depends on your career goals.

“If I fired a laser beam at my hand would it come out the other side?” (Aug 4)

Yes.

“How to castle in chess with friends?” (July 31, Aug 7, 14, 17)

Begin a chess game with a friend, castle normally.

“How do you move your king and castle at the same time?” (July 26)

You probably meant “How do you move your king and your rook at the same time?”

“Rook” is the name for the pieces that start at the corners of the board.

In chess, “castle” is a verb. It’s the verb that means to move your rook and king at the same time, two spaces toward each other, provided that the intervening spaces are not occupied and that neither the king nor rook has been moved before in the match (and that you’re not trying to castle out of check).

“Cheat on MCAT tips?” (Aug 1) / “How to cheat the MCAT?” (July 30)

Are you really asking me to help you to cheat on the MCAT? Get out.

“Has anyone ever cheated on MCAT before?” (July 28)

No. No one in the history of mankind. No one whose motives were so pure as to aspire to medical school has ever even considered cheating to attain such a goal.

“Grammar is one of the greatest joys in life, don’t you find?” (Aug 8)

Actually, now that you mention it, grammar is the greatest joy in life.

“How do you pronounce ‘couche tard’?” (Aug 18)

“Couch” (like the synonym for sofa)

“Tard” (like the second syllable of “retard”)

“How to avoid getting your bike stolen [in] Montréal?” (Aug 25)

Sell bike, and buy Bixi pass with the proceeds.

“How to get your thesis bound at McGill” (July 27)

You gotta do it yourself, I’m afraid. You can get Acco-Press binders at the bookstore.

“How to take someones fortune?” (Aug 21)

Twitter-stalking.

“I bought wrong grammar?” (Aug 10)

You sure did.

“I might have strep throat I don’t got insurance?” (Aug 7)

That’s quite the predicament! Are you a Canadian citizen?

“Is there a Montréal métro pass for mature students?” (Aug 19)

Nope. No such thing. Once you’re 25, you pay full price, whether you’re a full-time student or not.

“What happens after you accept a TA-ship offer?” (Aug 4)

Heh … Do you really want to know?

“What is giving you the most problems with Microsoft Word?” (July 26)

Thank you for asking! Mostly crashing, interface glitches and the fact that there’s no separation between content, formatting, comments and meta-data.

“Where can i get hasperat?” (July 28)

Bajor, if you want it authentic.

But if you would make the brine for a really strong hasperat—I mean eye watering, tongue searing strong—you’d make an old man very happy.

BibTeX

@online{bgcarlisle2011-2084,
    title = {Answering my readers’ questions},
    journaltitle = {The Grey Literature},
    author = {Benjamin Gregory Carlisle},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2011-08-26,
    url = {https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/08/26/answering-my-readers-questions/}
}

MLA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. "Answering my readers’ questions" Web blog post. The Grey Literature. 26 Aug 2011. Web. 26 Sep 2017. <https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/08/26/answering-my-readers-questions/>

APA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. (2011, Aug 26). Answering my readers’ questions [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/08/26/answering-my-readers-questions/


Student drawings in Contemporary Moral Issues

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Spring has Sprung

Spring has Sprung

This last TA-ship was pretty rough, compared to the others. It was a first-year course, for starters. Not only that, but this course isn’t a part of the core philosophy curriculum—rather, it’s the kind of course that education students and science students take because they need a credit from the humanities, and they figure that Contemporary Moral Issues will be an easy one.

They should have figured out toward the beginning of the class that it wasn’t going to be easy: It said on the syllabus itself that for every conference missed, there was a 10% deduction from the student’s final grade. Attendance was mandatory, and so was handing in a completed set of three questions each week on the week’s readings.

I'm a moral agent

I'm a moral agent

Not only that, but philosophy is a fairly low-grading faculty, at least at McGill. We do our part to fight grade inflation. The average for pretty much any course in philosophy generally tends to be B-.

This comes as a shock to most students.

I think what shocked me was the number of people I caught lying or cheating in some way in the course. (You can make your favourite joke about the irony of lying/cheating in an ethics course now.)

The attached drawings are ones that I found on my students’ mandatory weekly reading questions throughout the semester.

The first drawing was done on a particularly nice Friday—the first really good weather we had this spring. I think the second was done on the week that we covered moral agency and patiency. That, I suppose, is what the student took to be what a moral agent looks like. How would you capture moral agency in a drawing?

BibTeX

@online{bgcarlisle2011-1727,
    title = {Student drawings in Contemporary Moral Issues},
    journaltitle = {The Grey Literature},
    author = {Benjamin Gregory Carlisle},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2011-05-5,
    url = {https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/05/05/student-drawings-in-contemporary-moral-issues/}
}

MLA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. "Student drawings in Contemporary Moral Issues" Web blog post. The Grey Literature. 05 May 2011. Web. 26 Sep 2017. <https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/05/05/student-drawings-in-contemporary-moral-issues/>

APA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. (2011, May 05). Student drawings in Contemporary Moral Issues [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/05/05/student-drawings-in-contemporary-moral-issues/


My apologies

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Sorry for the short and late posts this past little while. April is a busy month. I’m marking essays and exams, holding review sessions for my students, working on a manuscript for a paper that my supervisor wants me to publish and trying to finish my thesis too.

Today, I’m going to go on campus to start marking exams for Contemporary Moral Issues. Once those exams are done, I may never have to mark anything again—ever, depending on what happens to me after I graduate. Then again, who knows? I may even apply for a job as a prof at a CEGEP, end up liking it, and then do that forever, and have to mark essays and exams for the rest of my natural life.

For the time being, though, I’m forcing myself to just work, which means reading articles, mostly on phase IV drug studies, writing about them and also marking stuff for Contemporary Moral Issues.

Soon I will do something interesting and then I will have some more interesting things to write about on here.

BibTeX

@online{bgcarlisle2011-1698,
    title = {My apologies},
    journaltitle = {The Grey Literature},
    author = {Benjamin Gregory Carlisle},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2011-04-28,
    url = {https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/04/28/my-apologies/}
}

MLA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. "My apologies" Web blog post. The Grey Literature. 28 Apr 2011. Web. 26 Sep 2017. <https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/04/28/my-apologies/>

APA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. (2011, Apr 28). My apologies [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/04/28/my-apologies/


I don’t want to jinx it, but …

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On Friday, I handed back the first essay for Contemporary Moral Issues, the course I’m TA-ing this semester in the philosophy department at McGill. This time, I tried something new: Before I handed back the paper, I told them all to wait at least twenty-four hours before they talk to me or email me to dispute their grades, so that their emotions could settle.

After handing back their papers, I could see a number of furrowed brows and dismayed looks, but (perhaps out of pity for me—I told them I had periodontal surgery that week) none of them tried to demand a re-grading before leaving.

It’s now been about 68 hours (at the time of posting) since I handed back the papers, and no one has emailed me to complain about her mark.

This is wonderful! Could it be the case that all of my students are so mature that they are willing to simply accept my critiques of their papers, take responsibility for their work, and try harder for the next essay without complaining?

I guess I’ll find out tomorrow during my office hours. On the upside, I now have a fresh bottle of prescription pain killers. :)

BibTeX

@online{bgcarlisle2011-1528,
    title = {I don’t want to jinx it, but …},
    journaltitle = {The Grey Literature},
    author = {Benjamin Gregory Carlisle},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2011-03-28,
    url = {https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/03/28/i-dont-want-to-jinx-it-but/}
}

MLA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. "I don’t want to jinx it, but …" Web blog post. The Grey Literature. 28 Mar 2011. Web. 26 Sep 2017. <https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/03/28/i-dont-want-to-jinx-it-but/>

APA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. (2011, Mar 28). I don’t want to jinx it, but … [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/03/28/i-dont-want-to-jinx-it-but/


Rodeo explosions

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On Saturday evening, I arrived at the Bell Centre, ready for an evening at the rodeo.

I turned to my friend, and he asked me, “Why did we come here again?”

“I thought you wanted to come,” I told him.

“What? I thought you wanted to come.”

“We need to work on talking through decisions like this a bit better.”

I think I figured out the rodeo, though, in case you ever wondered: A man sits on a bull, which is eventually released from its pen. If you can sit on the bull long enough, stuff blows up. Oh, and if you’re one of the scantily-dressed girls dancing on a platform at the one end of the arena, stuff blows up for you, too.

While I was there, a couple things passed through my mind. The first was my TA-ship. This semester, I’m a TA for Contemporary Moral Issues. The first half of the semester, we were dealing with the issue of the comparative wealth and affluence of people in the West. Now, we’re working on “The Animal Question.” (The text is actually called that.) Namely, we’re talking about what is owed morally to animals.

I always had assumed that they did something terrible to the bulls to make them so jumpy for the purposes of bull-riding, like hitting them or burning them or something like that. Turns out it’s just that he doesn’t like having a guy sitting on him.

The next thing that went through my mind was my thesis. (Go figure.)

My thesis has to do with non-paternalistic justifications for protections in human research, but it is related theoretically to protections in many other fields as well. I noticed that the vast majority of the bull-riders did not wear helmets. They wore cowboy hats. That said, a rather smallish number of them did wear hockey-style helmets.

I wonder if it’s the case that most bull-riders, if you asked them privately, would say that they would prefer to wear helmets, but because of the culture and their public image and the showmanship of the whole thing, there’s pressure on them not to do so.

It might then be justifiable (and non-paternalistic) to make a rule requiring that all bull-riders wear helmets, since that is what they would actually prefer. It’s sort of analogous to how many justify a minimum wage.

BibTeX

@online{bgcarlisle2011-1394,
    title = {Rodeo explosions},
    journaltitle = {The Grey Literature},
    author = {Benjamin Gregory Carlisle},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2011-03-16,
    url = {https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/03/16/rodeo-explosions/}
}

MLA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. "Rodeo explosions" Web blog post. The Grey Literature. 16 Mar 2011. Web. 26 Sep 2017. <https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/03/16/rodeo-explosions/>

APA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. (2011, Mar 16). Rodeo explosions [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/03/16/rodeo-explosions/


Contemporary Moral Issues at McGill

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I’m one of the TA’s for the Contemporary Moral Issues course at McGill this semester, and I really appreciate Dr. Reisner, the professor for the course. He gives me a lot of freedom in which to conduct my conferences, provides good structure, and never micro-manages. Further, he often anticipates things that will go wrong.

For example, at the beginning of this semester, he had me take the entire first conference of the year to give an open-book “course syllabus quiz.” Basically, I stood up at the front of the conference and explained to everyone all the potentially troublesome sorts of course details regarding cheating and unacceptable conduct so that later on in the course, they couldn’t say things like, “But I didn’t know it was mandatory to attend every conference!”

Not only that, but when problems happen, like catching students cheating or when they want an excuse from doing required work, I can just send them to Dr. Reisner, and he deals with them.

While I can’t tell you any of the details about what happened this week, it has been very eventful, and I’m very thankful for the forethought of Dr. Reisner.

BibTeX

@online{bgcarlisle2011-1309,
    title = {Contemporary Moral Issues at McGill},
    journaltitle = {The Grey Literature},
    author = {Benjamin Gregory Carlisle},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2011-02-19,
    url = {https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/02/19/contemporary-moral-issues-at-mcgill/}
}

MLA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. "Contemporary Moral Issues at McGill" Web blog post. The Grey Literature. 19 Feb 2011. Web. 26 Sep 2017. <https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/02/19/contemporary-moral-issues-at-mcgill/>

APA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. (2011, Feb 19). Contemporary Moral Issues at McGill [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/02/19/contemporary-moral-issues-at-mcgill/


Car accident

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Car accident near Snowdon Station

Car accident near Snowdon Station

I promise—not all my posts from now on are going to be about traffic flow in Montréal. I just happened to surface at Snowdon Station today after my office hours on campus, and the very moment I stepped out of the station, I heard a loud bang. Looking to my right, a car had run into a big white van marked “Incendie.”

No one got hurt, but I bet that put a damper on their Robbie Burns’ Day celebrations.

BibTeX

@online{bgcarlisle2011-1141,
    title = {Car accident},
    journaltitle = {The Grey Literature},
    author = {Benjamin Gregory Carlisle},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2011-01-25,
    url = {https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/01/25/car-accident/}
}

MLA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. "Car accident" Web blog post. The Grey Literature. 25 Jan 2011. Web. 26 Sep 2017. <https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/01/25/car-accident/>

APA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. (2011, Jan 25). Car accident [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/01/25/car-accident/


Metro adventure today

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Metro Adventure

Metro Adventure

It’s getting so that you can’t trust the métro any more!

I was trapped at station Lionel-Groulx for a good long time on Wednesday. Me and a few hundred people and one crazy yelling guy. That wasn’t too bad.

Then today, just after I finished TA-ing my first conferences of the semester, a few minutes before 14h this afternoon, I transferred to the orange line at station Lionel-Groulx, and when my metro car was between Vendôme and Place St-Henri, the lights unexpectedly went out, and the train sort of coasted to a stop between the stations.

A voice over the speaker eventually informed us that we would be evacuated.

Below are a couple of videos that I recorded on my iPod. The first is a short one of us getting off the train, and the second is a longish (30 seconds) one of us walking along the métro tunnel toward Vendôme.

When I got there, I just got in a cab and went to station Snowdon, since I didn’t know what bus to take. A nice old lady shared a cab with me, and wouldn’t let me pay for it, so it didn’t cost me a thing!

According to the STM Twitter feed, service is only just now (15h10) gradually resuming.

BibTeX

@online{bgcarlisle2011-1136,
    title = {Metro adventure today},
    journaltitle = {The Grey Literature},
    author = {Benjamin Gregory Carlisle},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2011-01-21,
    url = {https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/01/21/metro-adventure-today/}
}

MLA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. "Metro adventure today" Web blog post. The Grey Literature. 21 Jan 2011. Web. 26 Sep 2017. <https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/01/21/metro-adventure-today/>

APA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. (2011, Jan 21). Metro adventure today [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/01/21/metro-adventure-today/


Variations on my name

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This is something I forgot to mention while I was marking exams. Apparently my students don’t know what my name is. They were asked to write their TA’s name on their exam book, and when I received them, I got so many strange and fun variations!

A fairly standard one was “Benjamin Murphy,” which is understandable, but incorrect. “Murf” was a common, but charming mis-spelling. The most mystifying one, though, was “Ben Carsdale.”

I should have left that exam for Ben Carsdale to mark. Good grief.

BibTeX

@online{bgcarlisle2011-1065,
    title = {Variations on my name},
    journaltitle = {The Grey Literature},
    author = {Benjamin Gregory Carlisle},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2011-01-5,
    url = {https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/01/05/variations-on-my-name/}
}

MLA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. "Variations on my name" Web blog post. The Grey Literature. 05 Jan 2011. Web. 26 Sep 2017. <https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/01/05/variations-on-my-name/>

APA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. (2011, Jan 05). Variations on my name [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/01/05/variations-on-my-name/


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