Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Yes I know....

....I've completely neglected my blog. Please understand it's crazy right now with exams and I promise to post some updates as soon as my exams are over.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Feeling a Tug

I have recently begun to feel a slight tug on my arm. No, it is not Mrs. McGoo pulling at me to go with her to the store or to get out of bed (she pushes me). The tug is coming from a higher power...

I'm not one that is in to looking back on his life with regret, because if I did, I would worry myself to death with all the things I missed out on. However, I did look back on my life in 2009 and was fascinated with all the things I was able to accomplish. It was pretty neat to say that I went back to school and barely missed the Dean's List. It was also pretty neat to say that I got to travel to some pretty cool places. Likewise, it was pretty cool to say that I won my fantasy football league (one of them) and got to cash in some money. Additionally, I became closer to some people and made some new friends.

Here's the thing...
As a man of Christ, who I claim to be, did I further the kingdom last year? I can honestly say that I don't think so. So without that, looking back at everything I did last year; it was an utter failure.

So recently I've felt God tugging on me to be more involved with my church. Mrs. McGoo and I are going on a mission trip to Ethiopia and that's really centrally focused my attention outwardly, but I've realized I'm lacking in community. Sure, I've got a ton of friends and most of them I met at church, but I couldn't tell you the last time I've had a conversation with many of them about what Christ is doing in our lives and it's bothering me. We cook together, watch games together, host parties together, go on dates together, go on trips together, talk trash together, yet when it comes to the single most important thing in our life, nothing.

I recently made a trip to Nashville for a wedding and got to spend some time with one of my best friends who is a pastor for Green Hills Church. It was some of the first meaningful Christ-centered talks I've had with some of my closer friends in quite some time. It was exhilarating. I had almost forgotten what it was like to have the depth and vulnerability. For men, that can be difficult, but this past weekend, it was easy.

So I'm left with the what now. I have asked some of my buddies before about starting a bible study, but it kind of got shot down. Not that people told me NO...just more like I didn't get much of a response. I remember telling my buddy this past week that it seems that time is the biggest factor in it all. I hate overextending myself (the exact opposite of Mrs. McGoo) and therefore I get nervous about how much time I will have to be able to put into a study. That being said, I feel confident that the Lord would not put anything on my plate that I cannot handle. Especially when it comes to serving him and growing closer to him.

Mrs. McGoo has been or is currently in about three or four and this isn't counting our sunday school class we attend. If this were a race, she'd be the equivalent of Usain Bolt and I would be the equivalent of, well, ME. Those aren't good odds.

So I'm throwing the gauntlet down...time to get back in that race.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Dining Dollars = Forced Spending

Last Summer, I was notified by email that the University of Memphis was starting a new program in the fall of 2009 called "Dining Dollars." This is the program description:

Each full time U of M freshman and sophomore is automatically enrolled in the Dining Dollar$ plan. Each semester (fall and spring), your student account will be automatically charged $300 for you to use at on campus dining facilities and vending machines. On the first day of classes, you will be able to use your Student ID to eat a full meal or take a coffee break. Check out our dining and vending locations tabs to see where you can next use your Dining Dollar$!

What this description doesn't tell you is that it is a mandatory charge and is NOT included in tuition. Thus, you've got to come up with the $300 separately and if you do not pay it to your account, you are not allowed to register.

Keep in mind that the university already has a meal program that is called "TigerFunds" which you can optionally put money on an account to use for food or services on the campus. So why, after we already have TigerFunds, would the university want to create something like Dining Dollars? Well, let's go to the quotes:

Why are we implementing Dining Dollar$?
A committee made up of faculty, staff, and students was formed to review dining options in higher education and make recommendations on the future of dining services on campus.Two recommendations were made:

  • The Dining Dollar$ plan would help engage freshmen and sophomores in the university experience, which most often increases student involvement, resulting in higher retention rates and successful scholastic outcomes.
  • The Dining Dollar$ plan would allow the university to develop, with its food vendor, the dining program needed for the new University Center.
Pretty neat huh? The one thing they failed to leave out is what they REALLY created it for....Revenue. How do I know this? Well, I spoke to the Dean of the program last Fall about this ridiculousness. I explained to him my situation, being that we are on a very small income and I did not have an extra $300 to spend on a service that I wasn't going to use. The Dean gave me all this lip service about how it was a great program and there were many things that I would get out of it...blah blah blah. I kindly let the Dean know that I knew exactly what the program was about and it was to increase spending and strong arm people into buying more product.

Look, I understand the need to increase revenue and all. Just don't force me to do something that I'm not wanting to do and try and tell me that I'll enjoy doing it. Needless to say, the Dean was very nice about it and let me know that I could keep it in my account and it would roll over each semester or I could request a refund at the end of each semester, then deposit $300 in my account in the Spring. So, basically, the university is going to have $300 of my dollars for their investment for the next two years because I am not going to spend a dime of that money and give them the satisfaction of making money off of me.

Fast forward to the Spring...

I did not request a refund this past Fall as I wanted to roll it over to the Spring without hassle. Everything seemed to be going fine until this past Friday when I went to speak with my athletics advisor about my classes I was looking to take this Summer and Fall. I got all my classes figured out and then he let me know that I had a hold on my account that would prevent me from registering and that I needed to go to the Bursar's office to get it cleared up. Confused, I went to the office and they let me know that I owed them $300 for Dining Dollars.

Now this is what the FAQ says about rolling over money for Dining Dollars to a new semester:

If I do not spend my entire Dining Dollar$ by the end of the fall semester, what happens to my money?
If you have money left over at the end of the fall semester, it will be rolled over for use in the spring semester. You can request a refund of any unused Dining Dollar$ at the end of fall semester for a specific period of time. Refund requests are only accepted online.

I let the nice lady know that I had already paid for the Dining Dollars in the fall and shouldn't be charged again. She let me know that while the money did rollover, I was charged another $300 for the service and needed to pay it before I would be allowed to register. (Now, let me explain that there are classes that I MUST take in the Fall that are only allowed once and you have to have a permit to get in...which I have. But they are in high demand. So if I were to not get in my classes, it would not be good for my fall semester or my graduation date)

After spending about 2 hours speaking to a few people, I found out that I didn't have a choice in the matter. Yes, I do have $300 on my account. Yes, I was charged another $300 for the Spring semester. No, my money already in the account could not be applied to cover the "new" charge. No, I could not register until I paid ANOTHER $300 to the stupid service. No, I cannot get my current $300 until the end of the Spring semester.

I hope everyone reading these can understand how stupid this really is. Not only that, but I got a lecture from a lady on why I wasn't using this "great program" and "most kids would love to have $600 at their disposal." What tha?!?!?! I asked her if she would like it if Obama made her buy a credit card and continue to put money on it that was only good for her to buy clothes at Walmart. And if she didn't like Walmart clothes, she was just out of luck because it was mandatory. She didn't seem to get my analogy, but I digress...

Keep in mind folks, this is a university of higher learning and their motto is "Dreamers, Thinkers, Doers." Not much thinking going on here. Talk about a complete waste of ones time. So basically I've got to request a refund each semester and then pay it back in the account at the beginning of another semester.

All in all it's a stupid program and a crummy way for them to steal money from people. Basically parents have no choice in that they have to put money on this account for the kids and if the kids spent it, they would have to put more money on it in the spring semester. So there is no way to limit what their kid is spending each semester.

Needless to say, I'll be requesting my $600 back at the end of the semester.

Dreamers, Thieves, Morons