Entering endgame

There is a scene in the film Alien 3 when the hero Ripley seeks out the alien, hoping it will kill her (she knows that she is carrying a queen inside of her, and that she is dead anyhow)  As she sulks through the catacombs under the prison facility she is stranded at hunting for the hunter, she has a monologue (she is addressing the thing that she hunts) … and one part of that came to mind recently:

You’ve been in my life so long, I can’t remember anything else.

That is kind of how I feel right now.  Yesterday was September 3, the four month anniversary of mom’s death, yet it seems like a lifetime ago.  Dealing with mom’s estate has been so central and time consuming that a time when I wasn’t doing that seems like the distant past.  I have been extremely lucky to have had a lot of help from a lot of different people over the course of the past four  months who were there to hep me run the estate sale, and help me move things out of the house.  I absolutely couldn’t have done it without them.  Others made some time to give me a distraction by inviting me over to watch a hockey game or go to a movie.  There were others who were not here in person, but were there to offer a sympathetic ear, and that too was immensely appreciated.

Mom’s house is looking good for a closing next week.  We have nearly finished clearing it out.  After that, I will be shifting to almost strictly working with the accountant to make sure that mom’s IRA’s are properly divided, the taxes are taken care of, and that proper allowance is made for some money to be put away for the benefit of my niece and nephew.

I also have my new grad class underway (school law … which is very interesting).


I don’t talk too much about Quizbowl on this blog, but the Illinois quizbowl community is dealing with a crisis that I have been following very closely.

Last year, I and another official discovered that there was a degree of plagiarism in the questions submitted for competition.

A brief aside …

Aside from just simply being bad as plagiarism, in quizbowl, plagiarism becomes an issue because it could be used as one of the most difficult ways to cheat.  If I were a writer trying to favor a particular team, I know that telling that team about questions in advance would be caught eventually.  I also know that if I hang around practice, and reproduce some questions that I know that team knows well, I will probably also be found out (players tend to be far more honest than coaches, and at least a few cheating coaches have been outed by players).  However, if I knew the source of a team’s study material (the text books they use in class, etc), I could copy verbatim from those sites, and give that team a huge advantage in a way that is not easy to tell, unless the plagiarism is detected.  Even then, I might admit to the plagiarism, but not the cheating.  Back to the story.

My colleague and I were not successful in convincing the head editor that plagiarism was taking place, despite showing the editor websites where information was copied word-for-word.  The editor tried to actually defend the writer.  We pressed the issue, but when the editor wouldn’t budge, my colleague took it to a higher authority.  That higher authority was extremely angry, accused my colleague of poor professionalism and an inability to work with others, and fired him from his work as a writer, editor, and official.  I strongly suspect that a number of players, coaches, and officials will not take this lightly (this is not the first time that a respected member of our community was unfairly dealt with).  Like anyone, I don’t like the drama going on, but it is clear from my standpoint that an injustice has been done.


My classes are underway.  I have the makings of some good classes … but with the increase in mandates and such it is becoming increasingly more difficult to do what it right instead of what the laws demand.  Even though this is supposed to be a year of celebration (our school turns 50 this year), the school is about as glum as I have ever known it, and only a small number of the staff have committed to helping with any celebratory activities.

All in all … it has been a melancholy start to the school year as I wait for my role as “estate executor” to enter into a new phase.


2 Responses to Entering endgame

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Best of luck to you in finishing up with your mother’s estate, Tom. I know that it is hard to process your loss when you are in the thick of the cleanup.

    Educational law is indeed very interesting and complicated. If you don’t know about it already, wrightslaw.com is a good place for war stories and looking up laws and practices.

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