Sunday, December 31, 2006

2006...

Odd... they say that where you spend New Year's Eve indicates something about how you'll spend the following year.

A year ago today, Hubby and I were on an airplane.

boy -- did that turn out to be right.

We were taking a couple of good debaters (and neat people..) to a tournament in California. We flew out on New Year's eve and were supposed to be in LA by 10:00 PM their time. Of course, that didn't happen and we technically spent midnight in several time zones as we flew west. We landed in LA about 2 AM, made it to the hotel by 3 AM and collapsed.

We spent New Year's day introducing D1 and D2 to the Pacific Ocean.... which they declared 'salty'.... (with a tone of surprise in their voices). They also decided that palm trees are "creepy" and then that those creepy things didn't exist. The tournament itself was good for them -- they performed well, in spite of record rainfall for LA in January.

Little did I know that in 2006 hubby would be moving to Red State and that I'd be much more familiar with both airplanes and the Corn state than ever before.

Hubby and I are spending New Years Eve 2006 in snowy Red State -- tonight he'll pack and I'll go out for take-out at one of our favorite places. We don't do the 'go out and party on New Years' thing -- we don't find it fun or relaxing and we both tend to hate people and drunk people more than the normal person.... so New Year's Eve is a good time to retreat to our cave, eat some good food and watch a video of 7.

We will spend New Years day traveling to desert state. I doubt thast 2007 will find us in desert state often, but I'm sure that it will find us travelling quite a bit -- as it looks like hubby will probably have a job and house-sitting here next year.

By this time next year, I want to be furiously writing the final chapter of my dissertation so I can hand it all in, in person to my grad school. I would also like to be getting an offer to teach in Red State -- and be looking for a cute little condo we could afford with two professor's salaries, minus student loan debt.

So -- tell me, how are you celebrating (or, how did you celebrate if you are cooler than I am and going out to party..)?

Also -- tell me what you want to have accomplished by this time next year?

New thoughts on feminist epistemology...

On the drive down to Red State, hubby and I had an interesting discussion -- as usual (we are infamous for arguing about Rawls for the length of Nebraksa... ).

We got on the topic of topics feminists have decided are closed for debate.... among them: The sex/gender distinction, whether or not abortion should be limited, the experience of girls in education, studies like the one Larry Summers proposed and women doing domestic violence to men... It does seem that the feminist position on all of these stems from the distinction between sex and gender.

In essence, these topics are taboo -- i.e. an acceptable opposition to the feminist position is impossible...

Taboos are signaled by the need to qualify and justify the taboo violating statements -- and the reaction of feminists to the statements themselves.

Taboos seem to rest on moral and epistemic claims of truth. The quesiton then is about the justification for the basis of these claims. Do these claims stem from a separate feminist epistemological process? If there is an alternate feminist epistemolgy, is it sufficient to support the claims it seems to be supporting in terms of taboos? How does this epiestemology mesh or conflict with whatever it is different than?

So -- what do you think about the list of taboos??? Too much, am I missing any?

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Back in Red State

Once again, I'm back in the Red State. We'll hang out tomorrow, spend a quiet New Year's Eve and then go to someplace warm for a symposium (his) and study hall (mine).

On the way down, hubby and I discussed a new idea for my feminist epistemology paper...

The core idea is that there seem to be a few subject areas that are 'third rails' or taboos within feminism. Those subject areas have implied knowledge claims... my paper could look at those areas to see what the claims are... or something.

I'm still working on it...

but, now in another state.

ps... I'm officially a packing ninja. I've packed clothes for two weeks and two climates into a 22inch suitcase, without using the explanding zipper. Yea me!

Friday, December 29, 2006

More on girls, science and math..

The more I wonder about this, the more interesting it gets...

Recently there was a study (vague, I know -- I'm too lazy to dig it up right now) that showed that girls don't really have stronger language skills and slightly higher IQs, it is just that they develop earlier than boys and thus, when tested, test higher because their developmental age is higher.

Of course, in many ways language skills are equated with emotions and in opposition to reason, so the idea that girls are better at language than boys was allowed to stand until this study.

Now I'm becoming even more convinced that we ought to do scientific work on the differences between male and female brains. Think about the options...

1) They find that boys/men and girls/women process mathematical information in exactly the same way.

2) They find that girls/women are less able to learn mathematical information when it is taught to them in the same way as it is taught to boys/men.

3) They find that girls/women have a higher aptitude, but lower results or at least fewer women choose to enter math and science fields.

The thing is that #2 does not mean that women can't do math and science... it means that we aren't effectively teaching girls the concepts of math and science.... and even with poor teaching a decent number of women have managed to make significant contributions to math and science... in spite of their biology. hmmm....

Of course, some feminists would argue that the underlying assumptions and systems of any kind of test rely on sexist thinking... so, as a result, an accurate test would be impossible.

Nature and Nurture.... girls in science and math

As Addie noted in a long and very welcome comment on my previous post -- there has been much research concerning soclialization and the resulting gender gap in terms of math and science. I have no doubt that this is true -- and that the cannon of epistemology and philosophy of science has a lot to do with this socialization. If women are 'emotional' and men are 'rational' -- and math and science are based on reason -- of course more men will wind up in math and science... duh.

I'm 38, and I recall getting the impression that being good at math and science was 'for boys' and being good at language related subjects was 'for girls'. I also recall the way I was instructed in these subjects (by men --geared towards boys). I really think that the reason I'm in a languageish (yea, I make up words) discipline is simply that I learned to read very early and by 4th grade I was off the K-12 scale in reading comprehension etc... For this reason it is hard to say that where I ended up was all about socilization.

What I'm worried about (FYI 'worried' is a technical term in philosophy denoting the central concern..) is the potential for feminist politics to block scientific research that could give us data about how to more effectively teach girls math and science...

I'm also worried that feminism will send the message that women are not rational -- because that simply isn't true....

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Feminist Epistemology... a quandry

A few things seem pretty clear to me at this point in my short study of feminist philosophy... (i.e. they could and probably will change... )

1) Finding any one thing feminist philosophers agree upon is rare. I think they'd all agree that traditional philosophy was done by men and tended to marginalize women in some ways -- beyond that there seems to be no common ground.

2) I think that all well-functioning people do something that is roughly thinking and nearly all of them also reason in some ways. This includes both men and women in about equal proportions.

3) There are a substantial and influential cohort of philosophers who are also feminists that say 'reason' is corrupt because, certainly historically and arguably currently, female points of view are excluded from the class of the reasonable.

4) There are two implications the historical exclusion of feminine perspectives a) views of what is 'reasonable' have been (and are??) used as the basis for oppressive actions, and b) The way in which science is (has been??) done has been harmed.

5) Many influential feminist philosophers conclude that the concept of rationality is so off-kilter that it must be discarded.

Given the above... My quandry....

It may be the case that I have been successuflly brainwashed by the patriarchy -- but it seems as if my thinking process is, essentially, reasoning. According to some versions of feminist epistemology, this makes me male -- or, perhaps tainted by the maleness of my philosophical background -- or, something. I sure feel female -- every day.

What I don't understand, perhaps because I'm a 3rd generation feminist, is how some feminist philosophers can justify elimination of rationality as a basis for knowledge? (It isn' completely clear to me that they do this -- but it does seem as much right now...) They do this in the same basic move as they eliminate the possibility of an objective point of view. While I don't agree with the former move, I do agree with the latter. If the point of feminist thought is to promote a plurality of views, isn't it the case that the view of knowledge based on reason ought to be valued along with kinds of views?

Also -- something I don't understand about sex and gender....

Isn't it the case that, in general, biology provides the foundation for the social constructions of gender?

If this is the case, and if it is the case that there are significantly fewer women in math and science occupations, then shouldn't science seek to understand why? Isn't it possible that, at the points girls and boys learn math and science concepts, their brains are different? If this is the case, and if brain science in education has any validity, then shouldn't boys and girls be taught math and science in different ways -- i.e. in ways that maximize learning in both sexes/genders?

I may be wrong, but isn't this kind of what Larry Summers (former Harvard President) was getting at? Granted, he may have framed the question in a manner unacceptable to most feminists, but would he have had any less of a hassle had his question been properly framed?

I'm still thinking about this -- and would love your thoughts.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Winter Break... the aftermath

When I got home from Mom's, I realized my apartment was a mess. The only clean room was the one we rearranged last week, and all the stuff that didn't go back into the DC is still out of place elsewhere..

So, for the next few days I'll be cleaning. We'll leave late this week for Red State and from Red State we'll go to desert state for two weeks - then I go to mountain state for a debate tournament for a few days before coming home.

I get home on MLK day, have one day off before the new semester starts --- and then we leave for a debate tournament in Red State....

SO, literally, if my place is going to be clean between now and the end of January -- it has to be now.

When I get home, the only messes I want to clean up are cat messes....

I also have to pack for this odyssey -- although, the packing part doesn't really start until we leave for desert state, as I have plenty of things at hubby's in Red State so I don't have to get into my suitcase.

I'm also going to cheat and buy a sweatshirt in desert state so I can wear it in mountain state.

as Mom would say -- uffda

Monday, December 25, 2006

A Northwoods Christmas


The BIG LAKE --- on the way to Mom's.



How the road to Mom's usually looks this time of year....



More of the BIG LAKE...


This year Hubby's family was otherwise occupied and we went to the north woods to spend Christmas Eve and part of Christmas Day with mom and Step-Dad. Of course, being my mother's daughter, I wasn't organized enough to get my camera batteries charged... so, you are missing a photo of our little Christmas tree, and the less than normal snow... It wasn't a huge photographic loss or anything, as I have an inveritable plethora of Northwoods snowy photos...

Christmas with my mom has always been very low-key. When we were kids, she often worked Christmas because it was overtime (she's a nurse) and people need nurses on holidays too. We understood that she often could only pay for Christmas by working Christmas and we'd either go to Dad's, other relatives or later hang out on our own. We'd generally have a Christmas celebration sometime in the vicinity of Christmas -- but often we'd be off by days.

Overall, we had a good Christmas Eve dinner, a good brunch and a lot of talking in between. This has been the year when I've been giving the movie "Little Miss Sunshine" as a gift, so Mom and I watched it last night. I knew she'd love the movie -- especially since she tends to like little girls like Violet.

It is also nice to be home -- away from the smoking step-dad, and the dogs -- both of which give me allergy headaches. Back to my nicely reoganized Dissertation Chamber, and my own ability to check e-mail and control the remote.

I hope your Christmas was as nice and relaxing as mine!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Feminist Epistemology/ Philosophy of Science

So far, I get the gist of the problem... female voices and perspectives have been excluded from epistemology and science in particular. This has lead to 'ways of knowing' that have placed women into inferior positoins in society and society using science to dominate women and other groups. Women, as a result, are seen as irrational etc.

Duh -- I get that and have seen that well before I started reading feminist philosophy.

There are some feminist philosophers who advocate discarding important parts of the philosophical cannon because they did not support feminist positions... I won't go that far, as it seems wrong to expect those dead-white-males to have modern sensibilities. It also seems to me that simply expelling these philosophers would entail rejecting large portions of the background material that supports my ways of thinking.... since I AM female, isn't it the case that I'd have to deny the background to my own epistemology? Thankfully, there are some feminists doing history of philosophy who have interpreted key parts of the cannon so that I can keep some of my favorite dead-white guys.

My feminist philosophy of science prof has written an inciteful, but not yet published paper asking if there are limits to the perspectives science ought to consider? Religious voices surely have things to say about science, as do wiccans and 3rd graders. Should they be included in the scientific community? Is the true advocacy of feminist philosophy of science, science by democracy? If so, we are in trouble....

So, my quandry is this -- I understand that feminist epistemology advocates expanding the basis for Knowldge. What I don't understand is how adding a wholistic perspective would change the science we do now? Accoriding to my prof, feminist philosophers of science are short on alternatives... If we don't need to declare the scientific enterprise corrupt, then what we do need to do is to work to include more trained females in science and philosophy of science/episemology.

Off the top of my head, I can see more than a few things that need to change in order to do this...

1) Increase and encourage girls to explore science and math... and keep that up in their teen and early college years. Doing this is complicated and will involve lots of money and female role-models... and it may not work.

2) Within the structure of higher education, graduate education needs to be more family-friendly. This means higher pay for graduate students, more uniform health-care coverage, reasonable productivity expectations and an overall acceptance that students (male and female) may have lives outside of their schooling.

What ought to be illegal as hell is the way my first-ever graduate advisor questioned me about my family status during our first meeting... I'll talk about that AFTER I defend... I sincerely think that his impression of me after that meeting influenced my time in the department in a negative way -- but, since he's gone and I still need them, it wouldn't be fair or prudent to get into it here.

3) The professional life of an academic also should be more family friendly. Among other things, tenure expetations should be adjusted to allow for parental leave (mothers AND fathers). I also think that major conferences ought not be scheduled over Christmas break. This is because it is often difficult for parents to leave when their school-aged children are out of school. Expecting someone to attend the APA or MLA over break assumes that there is another parent staying home to take care of the kids -- and this expectation is often far from the case for many academic families.

What scares me is feminisim's seeming reaction to the Larry Summers (former Harvard president) incident.... If the end result of feminist philosophy of science is to stop scientific inquiry of any sort, because 'those questions shouldn't be asked' -- isn't it the case that feminist philosophy of science is just as oppresive and narrow-minded as the cannon of philosophy?

Anyway, those are my thoughts now... I'm not sure how this is going to turn into an epistemology paper... but, I'll let you know.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The way to be snowed in...

This morning it was raining hard and about 33 degrees. If it were just a bit colder, we'd have snow up to our backsides... as it is, it turned to freezing rain and then snow about 1:00.

i was lucky, I was on the way home from finishing Christmas shopping, the grocery store and the pet foods store.

I'm ready to be snowed in.

Outside my apartment it is snowing and there is ice on the tree. Inside my apartment, Hubby is home, I have a Christmas tree to decorate, cats to cuddle with and yummy comfort food to eat and good books to read. The electricity, cable and internet work well, as does the phone.

let it snow.... The First Snow does more than cover the nasty brown grass. It provides a fresh clean start for a new season. I suppose I also like winter because all the stuff I'm allergic to freezes and I have the use of my nose again :).

I think it was Garrison Keilor who said that the reason Midwesterners love winter is that it relieves us of the pressure to go out and DO things. When the weather is good, we feel we should be outside getting things accomplished. When it snows, we know we really can't do anyting and we give ourselves permission to relax. Now, with a full fridge and all of us cozy at home, we can relax. In fact, I think I'll go take a nap to celebrate the first snow and the first day of winter.

Snow Envy

I live in BN State.

It is supposed to snow here... a lot.

The photos from Denver are suppsed to be from my state.

I have snow envy.... but, the storm is only supposed to graze us.... darn it.

My cat tried to eat my homework

Do you think the library would mind if my cat chewed on one of my books on feminist philosophy?

yea, I thought so...

I also thought the feminists would object, since the cat is a formerly male cat...

Which is why the following just came out in conversation at my house, "Cat, you can't eat the feminists".

He is now happliy eating a notice from the apartment management.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A bit-o-holiday spirit...

Hubby and I put up the Christmas-to-Easter tree...

I think that the tree itself is a bit too cool to be up for such a short time.

I also know that taking down a tree before New Year's Day discourages Santa.

Since I'll be gone from before New Year's Day until two days before the next semester starts, I doubt the tree will come down before Spring semester starts.

I also know that I' have at least 4 debate trips and several trips to Red State planned for after school starts.

So, I've decided to accept the distinct possibility that we'll have an MLK day tree, a President's Day tree, and a Spring Break tree.

...besides, the cats get used to it and miss it when it goes back into the closet in late spring.

Monday, December 18, 2006

nor will whining

Another e-mail from the homophobic ethics student..

This time she tells me a sob story, and that she didn't have time to put the extra arguments into her paper.

She had an extra 24 hours and the time to make other changes... hmm.

She also took my whispering about the drop-dead deadline as an indication that she was getting some kind of super-secret extension without penalty. No, you stupid woman -- I was respecting your privacy, it is nobody else's business that you'd need extra time.

The truth comes out at the end of the message -- This is my first C... waaa waaa waaa.

She is lucky it isn't her first F.

I'm done with her. I'm also done giving any kind of extensions or making exceptions to my attendance policy.

I hope she learns from this C more than she learned from my class.

No, getting rude won't change your grade

The rude, homophobic ethics student sent another e-mail bomb.

Clearly, I haven't taught her anything, as her third e-mail was just as non-persuasive as the first. Poor dear, the thinks that demaning that I change a grade is going to get her someplace.

I did her a favor by specifically telling her that I needed everything by Wednesday at noon. She turned in her papers 24 hours late and expected not to take a penalty. The nerve ---

Of course, had she come to class and/or contributed to class discussion when she did show up, I may have had a reason to raise her grade. As it is -- a third rude request isn't going to do it.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

We're done...

I spent the day learning about feminist epistemoloy -- and doing laundry.

Hubby finished his grading today and submitted his first -- ever -- set of grades.

To celebrate, we went to see Charlotte's Web.

It was wonderful, exactly like I would have made it myself.

I cried when Charlotte told Wilbur she was dying. Hubby got a little damp in the eyes, but he'll deny it.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

"Process Grades"

Not to brag...

but, yes -- to brag...

I just hit the sweetest electronic button of the semester.

Every 7:45 AM logic class,
Every cup of caffene,
Every powerpoint written
Every exam contstructed and graded,
every curse placed on classroom IT muttered

comes to a conclusion with this....

I love on-line grade sumissions....

The button is the last "process grades" button.

My mind is mine again until mid-January.

Student / Parents

My problem student from the last post just responded with "you knew I was a single parent, I didn't skipp class on purpose" --

This is a real problem for me at BNCC. The problem is that in any section I have many single parents and usually ONE of them takes advantage of that fact to miss a lot of class.

My quandry is whether or not to continue to look the other way on attendance issues.

I've already eliminated attendance points. They don't lose ground on their grade especially for attendance. On the other hand, I do take attendance into account when deciding on close grade increases... and that is where the single parent loses out.

It is my intuition that this is fair, but is it really?

What about the single mom who has arranged her life and childcare so as to have excellent attendance. This take sher a lot of time and stress, but she manages to accomplish it anyway.... Just like I couldn't randomly give her extra-credit for making extra effort to get to class, it doesn't seem fair to let the single mom without reliable childcare get away with very poor attendance and no consequences.

On the other hand, I'm at a community college. My students are at my CC because they have responsibilities and often those responsibilities hurt attendance.

On the third-hand.. if I had one... Most of my students have other pressing committments and obligations. Who am I to say that one student's childcare challenge is more pressing than a student who is working 4 jobs to support herself or the student whose elderly parents rely on them to get to doctor's appointments etc.

This is an issue that won't go away --

What do you do in these kinds of situations??

JFTFD (just follow the F___ing directions), II

Usually I hate having to anser student e-mails about grades they think they didn't deserve.

I just had an email from the homophobic woman who decided to write about same sex marriage. Her stellar arguments included things like, "gay people know they are doing something wrong, this makes them unhappy and angry and their anger is bad for society' -- blah blah blah. She probably thinks Rick Santorum and Ann Coulter make good, common-sense arguments. She scares me.

In her case, she's actually lucky I didn't drop her from the class for non-attendance. I gave her a break because she's a single mom who says she has a sick kid... I hoped she'd learn from the rest of the class and open her closed little fundy-Christian mind just a crack. I also hoped she'd follow directions and include arguments for same sex marriage in her paper.

She didn't open her mind, nor did she include the arguments in favor of same sex marriage.

Since I can't grade her down for not opening her mind, at least I can grade her down for not following my directions to include both sides of the issue.

Sadly, her grade was below what she wanted to get out of the class... just barely... and her crappy attendance didn't give me reason to increase her grade.

It was kind of fun to write this e-mail. It is more fun since I have tenure and a complaint to my Dean won't go anyplace. Just in case, when I graded her paper, I papercliped her first verion, with my comments, to her final version. If she complains, she can't say she wasn't warned.... haaa haaa. Take that.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Some delicious irony for you.. or signs of a new wave feminist??

Today I met with a wonderful philosopher who is also a feminist thinker. She was kind, thoughtful and supportive. It was kind of like talking one of my blog buddies :).

She gave me some good resources on feminist philosophy and feminist epistemology. I'm really excited to get started with them.

So -- when I returned to the good city in Red State (as opposed to the university 'city'), I hit the library and found all the books she recommended.

Then, like a good wife, I went to the grocery store for food for dinner. Of course, I paid for it with money I earned from working a job where men and women start with equal salaries... so I suppose that was feminist enough for the moment.

Tonight I'm going to cook dinner and be disciplined enough to grade the last set of essay exams so I can enter grades.

Tomorrow, I'm going to reward myself by diving into feminist philosophy... and I'm going to do laundry.

hmmm

Is this what post-feminism or new wave feminisim is about? Challenging ourselves and others while still doing the traditional stuff?

I'll let you know how it is going... if you are really interested I'll give you my reading list :).

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Hanging in Red State

It seems clear to me that one of my area papers is a non-starter. I'm just not sure there IS a solution to the problem I was wrting about -- and as such I'm giving up on it. That left me in a quandry -- what to write about.

The answer, it seems, came from a bit of cyber-stalking the new faculty at grad school. One of the new hires (well, new since I've been there) has listed as one of her interests feminist philosophy. She's also into epistemology and metaphysics. Since I need to write about either epistemology or metaphysics -- I decided to explore feminist epistemology and ask for her help in doing so.

She was kind enough to give me a meeting time tomorrow -- which is wonderful because I'll actually have time to work on the paper over break.

It was REALLY nice of her to give me some time to discuss the topic, seeing as how our time there never overlapped. Maybe we'll end up doing a directed readings kind of thing -- or something. If she'll get something out of it, I'll do it. I have to have X number of credits to finish my PhD anyway -- I have the coursework done, but that doesn't mean I can't do an extra course with her.

It is great that they hired someone with her knowledge base. I had no chance of learning about feminist philosophy while I was in grad school -- I got laughed at for even mentioning it once... grrr.

I still wonder about the basic gender numbers of my grad department. While it is good that two of their recent tenure track hires are female, there is still a significant disparity. What is even more troubling is that there are only two female graduate students listed on the website -- out of about 30.

Teach the Professors...

My biggest beef (by far) is the way higher education abuses adjuncts and adjunct labor.

This is my second biggest beef -- that professors don't know how to teach classes.

I think there are two reasons for this, and they are related.

First, the emphasis on research at elite universities assumes that all new PhDs will spend their time in ivory towers or gleaming labs and not doing the dirty work that pays for that (i.e. teaching). This is because the top people in their field -- who do the graduate education -- do spend most of their time in ivory towers and gleaming labs.

As a result, teaching is extremely devalued on the university level. It simply isn't seen as important or relevant to the work being done in the tower or lab. While the truth of this may vary significantly, teaching can -- and does -- take up time in the work week of the average college professor.

It is also the fact that bad teaching takes more time to do than good teaching. Why?? Because bad teaching creates messes that have to be fixed, complaints you have be answered and is often more work to prepare than good teaching. All of this time is time that could be spent on research, writing or on getting grants.

Finally, bad teaching is emotionally draning and frustrating. Spending even 3 hours per week with a group of hostile post-adolescents who think you are a moron because your teaching sucks can't be good for your mental health. They have ways of dissing you and talking about you behind your back that haven't changed since you were an undergrad.

The simple fact of the matter is that 46% of undergraduates are in two year schools. That means that 46% of professing hours happen there as well. I don't know the percentages at the more teaching oriented colleges and universities -- but the vast majority of students are going to college at schools with a high teaching load. This means that the chances are that any bright, new PhD will end up at one of these places for their careers. Learning to teach is important, if only because it frees you to do other things.

Second, it seems to me that schools or colleges of education within universities are looked down upon as lacking intellectual rigor. Sadly, I tend to agree with the general assessment. The problem with this level of disrespect is that most proessional development on college and university campuses is conducted by schools of education, and by assocition, these seminiars are not taken seriously by the faculty of the university.

I honestly don't know what to do about this problem, except perhaps abolish schools and colleges of education and reformulate them to provide post-BA training. So, someone who wants to teach English in k-12 would major in English and then do a year or two in the post-BA training/student teaching mode. An alternative would be some kind of in-school apprentice program that provides similar training with an experienced k-12 teacher.

I think solving the problem for college instructors is pretty simple... Establish a facilitated peer-mentoring program for the first year of any academic's career. The program would require that the participants meet weekly for 3 hours (or whatever the standard course credit is on the campus). This time is factored into their teaching load and would be mandatory for anybody with less than 5 years independent classroom experience. The facilitator would also have this as part of their teaching load, with the weight given to teaching a graduate course, and would craft a syllabus to cover the basic problems that occur in the classroom. The facilitators would be tenured faculty, not from the college of education.

Academic hiring, at least into full-time positions, is done so far in advance that this could start in the summer and be done electronically. Syllabi could be exchanged etc. The group could meet before the start of the school year and would funciton as a support system for that crucial first year.

The thing is that new professors aren't stupid, mean or wanting to teach badly. They teach badly and are accidentally mean to their TAs and students because they don't know any better. They've never considered basic things like how much information should be on a PowerPoint slide, what would happen if you give a long exam 72 hours before the grade deadline or what would happen to your mental health during finals week if every one of your 200 students is assigned a 5-8 page paper to conclude the semester.

Almost Done...

4 down, 1 to go...

My afternoon logic section didn't end up doing as well as my 7:45 section. Same exam -- their results are so different that I'd be suspicious of a cheating ring, but the afternoon class took the final yesterday and the morning section took it on Monday. If there was cheating, they suck at it -- because the group that took it last had lower scores :).

My honors class did well -- of course... except for one person who wrote the most hateful and bigoted paper against same-sex marriage that I've ever read. The assignment was to inclue both sides of the argument, which she did not do -- even after I told her to do so on her first draft. Really, she scares me a bit -- she's exactly the kind of non-thinking Christian that gives the rest of Christianity a bad name. She's also the kind of hateful Republican most of my friends and students assume all Republicans are.

I'm not sure why she has a bug up her nose about same sex marriage, but she actually made an argument that says that gay people are bad for society because they know their homosexual activity is wrong, this makes them unhappy and unhappy people are bad for society. Ummm... maybe the fact tht b*tches like you seek to destroy homosexuals makes them unhappy? This comment on her paper was ignored -- of course.

Really, she's the only one in that group I won't miss next semester -- and that is really pretty remarkable.

Today we take care of some details and drive to Red State. I'll bring my last section of grading to do, as well as the laundry. I'll play the good academic wife while hubby grades the final papers and exams from his first semester -- then we'll head back to the great north...

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

JFTFD (just follow the F___ing directions)

Why, oh why, is it so difficult to follow simple directions.

I don't see what is complicted about "your take-home exam is due at 11:00 AM on Wednesday" -- or, "do 2 of the 3 problems".

When you show up, burst into the middle of my final exam and the first thing out of your mouth is "I couldn't find your office -- here is my take-home exam", when I tell you it is late and won't count for many points, if anything, saying "F-CK, where did it say that" -- to which I responded by circling it both on your exam and the finals week schedule I distributed -- and you give me the stink-eye... you can assume, that didn't help your case with me one bit.

Or, like another student who somehow thought that final exam time was the week that we do things differently concerning the
"Access Center" (students with disabilites office) -- and that you could just show up in class and take your exam down there.... come on, the Access Center guy is consistent if he isn't anything else (which he is... great, wonderful and respectful guy who has helped many students achieve... by the way).

At least the student who came into the middle of my exam on Monday, thinking her exam was that day and time, came on time and on the right day.... and some of the ones I'd been cheering for did the work and got the Logic grades they wanted.

Now... I'm off to grade and turn-in a book review (gets me some cash if they have it by Friday... YEA!).

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

To Ms. Mad about the Final...

Dear Ms. Mad about the Final,

Starting the conversation with "I don't want to talk to you about the final" isn't exactly productive. Shooting dagars at me when I asked questions like, "did you come to the optional days?", "did you see the tutor", and "why didn't you come to me as soon as you had problems" wasn't goint to concince me to give you the C you seem to think you deserve.

It is also the fact that I told you what would be on the exam. With your grades, the total number of possible problems was limited to about 60.... You had about 6 weeks to learn how to do them. That is only 10 problems to master per week.

I'm sorry you didn't choose to come to the optional days -- but, I think that failing two quizzes and not understanding what was going on in class would be enough to get you out of bed for the 7:45 classes that weren't really optional for you.

Additionally, the answers for the exam problems have been available to you on my office door for about a month.

I ment it when I said I was sorry about how your final turned out. What I was really sorry about is the fact that you weren't mature enough to see you had a problem and do something to rectify it. I suppose that is what you are in college to learn.

I should also tell you that telling me I was "lucky" you showed up for class on required days indicates a lot about you. Clearly, you think you were blessing me with your presence and that you weren't doing the homework or making an honest effort at understanding.

I guess you'll bless me with your presence next spring or summer. You'd better get into the spring class, as the summer class meets in the morning -- and that 'isn't a good time of day' for you.

Take care and have a good break --- after our conversation I'll take a little bit of glee in putting your grade in the computer... sorry, but you deserve it.

your logic prof

Monday, December 11, 2006



Check out hubby's new "Grannypants"... they are fleece and in his very favorite pattern. We were at the Mall of America and couldn't resist.

If they are going to be clean between now and spring, I'll have to wash them when he's in the shower.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Ah... finals week

Hubby and I went out with Brain and his girlfriend, Quiet Girl. We went to a place we've never been to before. It is kind of a cool concept -- they serve comfort food with a twist and have a plethora of board games and video games to play.

Brain and Quiet Girl beat us at Outburst -- then Brain beat hubby at Pac Man... and we went home.

It was actually more fun than it sounds -- the atmosphere was fun/funky/casual, the food was good, the company was better and a good time was had by all.

The nice thing was that I didn't have to study for finals -- because I'm GIVING THEM... haa haa.... So, tonight, while I had a nice eveing out with friends, my students had to stay home and study... or at least they should have stayed home to study.

Sure, I have to grade the stuff they turn in -- but that isnt' a big deal. I can handle grading 70 or so logic exams, 13 ethics portfolios and 35 ethics take-home exams...

The logic exams will be extra-easy this time because I reduced the number of problems required of my A students -- as a reward for earning an A during the semester. Their final grades will be easy to calculate, as I determine it by what they get on the final. If they finish only the "C" level problems (the easiest ones...) they'll get a C in the course etc... thus, my final grade calculations are done by the time I'm done grading their exams.

I'm going to have to do some math to figure out which of the Ethics take-home finals I'll need to grade. It is worth 50 points out of 400 or so... which means that just turning it in is sufficient for some students to get the next highest grade... thus, make sure it is worth 5 out of 50 and don't really have to read it.

The only things that will take some time are my honors ethics portfolios. They are worth a large number of points in the class and consist of two revised papers and two abstracts. Having most of the points come from revised papers has kept the class going all semester... so I'll probably do it next time I teach honors.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Special message to HIM

I know you and some of your buddies read sometimes.... so maybe this will get to you out there in Red State.

You were just plain mean to her. You put her in the situation where there is no hope and nothing she can do to try to save the relationship. That sucks, and I hope you know it. I saw a while back that you were the worst kind of jerk -- the kind that looks like a good-guy on the surface, but is really unforgiving and nasty underneath.

She trusted you, she confided in you, she believed in you. She supported you, she tolerated your BS and she encouraged you to be your better self. You weren't man enough to handle it.

So -- go ahead and be the fun party guy. Hang out, smoke and drink with your 'friends'. Cheer at Red State football games and lead your party-boy life. Don't challenge yourself, don't achieve your dreams or live up to your potential.. and, heaven forbid you should grow up enough to deserve a girl like her.

She's such a fundamentally decent person, she was worried about how you are going to get home to BN state for Christmas. She thought that, perhaps you could ride with hubby and me... we'll be making a couple of trips that might be on the right time table for you.

I'm pretty sure I'm not nearly as good a person as she is, as I told her that you'd need to learn some hard lessons. Perhaps spending a lonely Christmas because you can't handle your money will show you what you've sacrificed.

In the future, I see her with a nice, smart and well-educated person. You --- you'll be with the party-girl you deserve. Your Ex will be happy, you and your party-girl will make eachother nuts until one of you calls it quits. I do hope, for your sake, that you eventually grow up and see what you lost -- but I doubt it will happen.

Hugs to two distant friends

I have a couple of friends -- one a face-to-face friend and another virtual friend who are having a really hard time today.

One has had some bad professional news and is facing some big challenges in the near future.

The other's professional life is fine but her personal life is pretty hard right now.

I'm sure that both of these people will come out the better for it and that these challenges will make them stronger -- but, for right now it just sucks.

Neither of them live in the area -- or I'd be in the car to provide hugs and fattening foods.... so, the best I can do, after quite a bit of phone counseling -- is to send out some good vibes over the internets.

so -- ladies -- hang in there -- keep swimming or whatever -- I'm behind you all the way!

Welcome to Hubby...

For those of you who may be confused -- I've given hubby the ability to post.

Open Question

H'okay so...

I have a question for all the IPF readers out there.

IPF, aka Philosophy Queen, wants me to go to a Christmas party given by the Redhead in a couple of weeks. No problem, right? I mean, I don't really like parties and Redhead has hated my guts for approximately 20 years now, but whatever.

Ok, Philosophy Queen had another little piece of news. Redhead also invited Philosophy Queen's old Dumb Boyfriend. This is the guy that treated Philosophy Queen like dirt, and responded to her announcement that she was breaking up with him by saying, "thanks for ruining my weekend" and "what am I going to tell my mom." They even asked him if he would be uncomfortable with me there and he said (no kidding) that it was ok as long as "they aren't hanging on each other."

So, here's the questions: How obligated am I to be nice to Dumb Boyfriend? Don't I get some "rubbing his nose in it" privileges? Or since I won and he lost, am I supposed to be magnanimous even though he still apparently thinks he has some kind of claim on her?

Please also give me your opinions about the best ways to torture him.

Excuses, Excuses..

Usually this time of the year the excuses go from students to teachers. Today it was reversed --

What do you think would happen if I told my debate teamt "my cat ate your debate case, so I couldn't grade it."

Blind kitty has eaten a duplicate of a debate ballot I put in the trash. Now he's actually gone into my briefcase and picked out a case on newspaper monopolies to eat. I stopped him, put the case away and thought that would stop him... no, he actually went back into my bag and got another case out to chew on. These cases were in folders, in the pocket of my briefcase -- I'm not sure how he did it. Both cases were written by Swear Jar -- I wonder if that has anything to do with it... like, he's using catnip paper or something.

I've taken to putting my bag up where he can't get it. It isn't as if I'm really concerned about him eating the cases, it is just that the paper tends to stop him up a bit and then he gets cranky.

On the other hand, if I could get him to eat some logic exams....

I hate Parvity...

So, as part of my birthday-o-sloth -- or, at least as part of my relaxing birthday... I'm watching the TIVOd Survivor from last week.

They are at the point where their family member visiting is a reward. The winner has the chance to send someone to 'exile island'. There is a lazy little girl named "Parvity" who won this time. She hates a guy named Johnathan -- mostly because he's pointed out how worthless she is...

The ONLY survivor with a spouse who came to see them was Johnathan. And, you guessed it -- Parvity sent Johnathan to exile island, just to deny him any chance of spending time with his wife.

She sucks, she's a lazy, stupid twit -- and she's mean. I want her off of the island... NOW.

It's my birthday!

My Pajamagram arrived yesterday from hubby... the perfect pajamas were inside! I'm wearing them now -- and they feel great!

Hubby arrived home from Red State last night... it is so nice to have him home.

I was trying to figure out what seems strange about this birthday, compared to the others in the past... The answer is that I don't have ANY pressing academic stuff to do today. Because of when my birthday is, I usually have to write, take or give finals on my birthday. This went way back to my first undergrad (at BN University), where I had to take a final on a Saturday, that was also my birthday.

Plans for today -- not much. I'm planning to enjoy a day at home with the cats and the hubby. I may do a few minor errands and other tasks that will make my life easier next week -- but, if they dont get done the world won't end. Later today, hubby will get up and we'll have lefse for breakfast. He'll make me a birthday cake and maybe we'll go out for linner (the lunch/dinner equivalent of brunch). Right now, I'm going back to bed.

Lesson for the day -- dreaming about peeing isn't the same as actually getting up in the middle of the night to pee.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

I'll miss them...

My Tuesday/Thursday classes were both good groups.

The logic class came in first -- at 7:45 they tried to learn logic. While I worried about them at first, their scores in the end were very close to my other class... an they were sweet. I'll miss the girls in the front who are roomates and worked together to get As. I'll miss seeing the couples snuggle before class started while drinking their coffee. They started out quiet and ended up asking good questions and helping one another learn a complex and abstract system.... all to avoid taking Algebra :).

After logic, I had a 30 minute break. Since my next class is in the same room, I turned this time into office hours and had some really good conversations with students during this break. They'd go out for a smoke and then come back to talk. Sometimes we'd talk about class - but often we'd talk about life. I'd hear their challenges and victories, I'd hear about their lives before coming to BNCC and their plans for the future. Usually my 9:30 class would come in during this time to chat with me or with one another... all we needed was some coffee and we'd have a great coffee house.

Then there was my honors ethics class -- This is the group I'll miss the most. Individually, they were bright, motivated and interesting. As a group, they were welcoming, fun and challenging. They were good critics of one another's work and when it came time for presentations, they'd ask one another good questions and they kept up their pattern of excellent attendance when their classmates were in charge of teaching the class.

We had an ancient guy auditing. He has a long white beard and looks a lot like Socrates. He never spoke in class, but after class he'd ask me questions -- today, after noticing the high level of communication and interaction between myself and the class, he asked me what my favorite word is... sadly, I didn't have an answer.

I have to admit, it is kind of my teaching dream to teach classes like my honors class. Smallish classes with motivated students -- sure, like any CC my honors students had challenges and sometimes they didn't do their homework -- but when they came to class they tried to engage the material even when they hadn't done the reading. They'd come in, turn on their critical thinking skills, and be present for the length of the class. For this, I'll miss them.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The fun to-do list

I'm tired of my to-do list for the end of the semester... blah blah blah grade, write syllabus for next semester, enter grades blah blah blah... talk to students, read papers, copy exams, blah blah blah... end of semester pot-luck (actually could be fun), debate travel plans, organize cases, blah blah blah... clean office, do recycling from last spring semester, blah blah blah.....

I want to think about the glorious time of winter break... a to-do list I really WANT to do...

Travel --
First on that list, and probably the most fun -- travel. Sure, I traveled a ton this semester -- but most of it was without hubby, and as such wasn't as much fun as it should have been.

This break I'll see the following: In about this order...

1) the great plains between BN state and Red State. This includes 3 trips across the 'I don't know math' state. Hubby's place in Red State now has a nice place for me to work in his office -- so we can hang out there, watch DVDs and grade papers together. When we need a break, we'll go get some good food -- or snuggle :). If I’m a really good girl, maybe hubby will take me to the Best Indian Food in the World….

2) The BN state north woods -- we are going to Mom's for Christmas Eve /Christmas Day. The trees, one of the great lakes, snow, wolves, moose, deer and other critters... I really love it up in the woods, if only I could figure out how to make a living up there... sigh. This trip will be a little better than usual, as my step-dad's computer is dead so he can't use it to look at porn on Baby Jesus's birthday.

3) Phoenix, AZ -- and hopefully the desert. Hubby is going to a symposium and I'm going to hang out at the hotel. I'm great at hanging out and I could use the time... really. He has the weekend off and we have rented a car, so we'll go see what there is to see.

4) Denver and the Rocky Mountains -- with my debate team. For 3 of the 4 this will be their first time in the western US. They've never seen the Rockies -- my big challenge is how to show them these amazing things in the afternoon we have to play. Maybe I'll tell them to get to the airport as early as possible and try to stand-by for earlier flights...

Dissertation work..
I know this doesn't exactly sound like something I should be dreaming about doing -- but, it is. I miss the time working on my own brain. My own work feels good to develop and revise. It is also interesting to me... so, I miss it. I'd like to spend some time while we are home and hubby's symposium time in Phoenix working on my own stuff.

Play time..
Reading books
Sleeping in
Getting a pedicure (Phoenix = sandals = need good toes)
Hanging with hubby (starts tomorrow!!! Goes for 1 month, 4 days!!!!! YEA!!!!!


yep -- that is a to-do list I can deal with.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Debate plans...

Last week I made our airline reservations for San Diego in February. We have an extra day before the tournament, just in case ;) -- in case we need to aclimate or something.... really. I used to be opposed to this, until the last time we went to this tournament and flew in on Friday evening to debate on Saturday morning. Trouble was that we didn't actually end up getting to the hotel until very late on Friday evening and had to leave that hotel before 7 AM on Saturday. This time, we'll have an extra day to get used to the time change and stuff -- and, the warm weather, vist the beach and all kinds of other fun things.

Today I tried to make hotel reservations in San Diego. I also spent 30 minutes making reservations for 4 rooms at the Super 8 in the middle of Red State. Talk about two different locations... wow.


I'm pretty sure my debaters will have some culture shock. Their schedule goes like this:

mid-January -- fly to Colorado, play in the mountains that afternoon, debate all weekend and come home on MLK day (Monday)
following Thursday -- leave for Red State (probably fly... we'll see for sure, but we need to get back for class).
weekend off
First week of February -- fly to San Diego, play in the ocen, debate one exhausting tournament, fly home on Monday.
weekend off
Third weekend in February -- drive to Chicago for a tournament.
weekend off

So -- they'll debate in the Rockey Mountains, by the Pacific ocean, in the plains and in the largest midwest city... within just over a month... and I'll go with them.

I think hubby will have to come home on the weekends off, because I'll be in no shape to go to Red State....

Job search materials advise...

For many of you, this is the beginning of the nerve-wracking job search time.... You are dreaming of an interview at the dream R1, the SLAC or any ivory tower that will take you. I really hope that all of you who are in that situation get a job you want and love.... and, of course since you are all brialliant, nice and talented teachers, you will get those jobs you want.

In case you don't -- the community college hiring season seems to be later -- kind of a pool of last resort. I've found BNCC to be an excellent place to work and I hope that you'll find a CC that fits you as well as BNCC fits me.

This is my 4th year at BNCC. I've been on a couple of hiring committees. While the specifics are confidential, I can give some positive advise based on my experiences reviewing materials etc...

First and formost -- don't send the same materials to a CC that you sent to the R1s and R2s you applied to in the fall. CCs are different and your application materials should reflect that difference.

While teaching is either ignored or distained at the R1/R2 level, CCs are actually interested in your teaching experience. Your CV should be very clear about what courses you've taught and when. Don't make the committee guess at how much actual experience you have -- tell them. Use 'sections' as a common unit and tell the committee how many sections of the basic courses you've taught.

Your research, while it may be interesting, isn't nearly as important on the CV you send to a CC as it is to other kinds of schools. This is because your workload doesn't include research and usually getting tenure doesn't rely on research.

While I'm on the topic of research, don't be shocked by an anti-research bias. Actually wanting to do research that isn't somehow pedagogical can be met by a pretty high level of distain. Get used to that. Writing an article once in a while may be tolerated -- a book in your discipline will likely start them wondering how much you have let your teaching slide to work on research. If you lament the quality of the available textbooks, you may be able to write your own textbook...but don't enjoy it too much.

You should carefully read the position announcement. These are written from a boilerplate, but careful attention to how you fulfill the CCs stated needs shows why your particular experiences will make you a good fit at that CC. If your CV doesn't reflect the set of experience requested by the CC in the announcement, include that information in your cover letter.

If at all possible, run your materials by a pal with CC expeirence. Ask how they'd be read by people inside and outside of your field. If they can help you shape your message, you'll have a good chance of getting an interview.

Long-distance semester, by the numbers...

13 trips to or from Red State (between the two of us).

6 hours from here to Red State (if he drives).

5.25 hours from here to Red State (if I drive).

43 minutes in the air on monopoly air, otherwise it varies a lot.

2 x an airline tried to strand me in some strange city.

2 places I have dirty laundry.

2 more teaching days until hubby comes home.

2 more days I'll wake-up without hubby until January 12.

1 wedding anniversary celebrated in Red State

1 birthday coming up (mine :) ) -- we'll celebrate in BN state...

Countless phone calls, for things big or little (last night I called back to tell him a joke..)

Countless dollars saved by our cell-phones having free long-distance.

Dreams about money...

So, the other night I had a dream that BNCC sent me a check for a very nice sum --

The dream was so realistic that I could see the exact figure (over $3,0000) and I seemed to know why I was getting this check... except, that the program doesn't exist. I was so convinced of its existence that I got up and searched on the BNCC website for the program and got nothing.

So -- what does this mean? I'd guess that dreams about getting money aren't premonitions.... but, it would be nice.

Heck, it would be nice if they'd pay me for the summer project I did... it seems we are the first to actually complete one of these projects and the form to report the completion of said projects hasn't been developed yet. So, our project leader made his own form and submitted it. Of course, since it needs to go to BN state first, it could be next summer before I get my money.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Spring 07 starts today...

I'm starting to write my syllabi for Spring 07.

It isn't even my birthday yet and I'm planning for May 2007.

eek.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Ready for finals...

As of this moment I am ready for finals.

On Monday I'll have to print and copy my logic exams and print out my logic grade reports...

Other than that, I'm done with grading and exam writing until finals week.

YEA!!!!!

I think I'll go read Cosmo.... I've earned it.

Star Trek Poetry Saturday, "Ode to Spot"

Data writes bad poetry... this one is an ode to his cat "Spot"

Ode to Spot

Felis Cattus, is your taxonomic nomenclature,
an endothermic quadruped carnivorous by nature?
Your visual, olfactory and auditory senses
contribute to your hunting skills, and natural defenses.

I find myself intrigued by your subvocal oscillations,
a singular development of cat communications
that obviates your basic hedonistic predilection
for a rhythmic stroking of your fur, to demonstrate affection.

A tail is quite essential for your acrobatic talents;
you would not be so agile if you lacked its counterbalance.
And when not being utilized to aide in locomotion,
it often serves to illustrate the state of your emotion.

O Spot, the complex levels of behaviour you display
connote a fairly well-developed cognitive array.
And though you are not sentient, Spot, and do not comprehend,
I nonetheless consider you a true and valued friend.

Data, "Schisms"

The Wall

Bardiac: discusses The Wall here. I think it is ia pretty apt description of what happens at the end of the semester.

We all get tired and those of us with just a little power and/or common sense make some 'adjustments' to the course. Mine was to move to a take-home final exam in my ethics course. It was going to be a multiple choice exam on presentation topics. Now it is an essay exam that has short answers and one essay question.

I did this so I could take off for Red State with hubby on the Wednesday of finals week and not have to hang around on that day to give a final at 4:00 -- also, because I just couldn't face writing the darned exam. I pretty much have the time, but not the willpwoer.

I'm also planning to shorten the logic final exam -- but, this is more because it took my students last semester a long time to finish and this semester they are slower than the last bunch....so, I don't think it is a 'wall' issue...

Now, if it could all be over.... please!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

a little freaked out...

I finished my to-do list today.

I'm caught-up on grading, although I'll get some more to do today and tomorrow morning.

I have a pile of stuff to take to Red State for the weekend's work.

I have written one final exam and am mostly finished with the other.

This is not normal for this time of the semester. I should have more papers around my office begging to be graded. I should have stacks of logic exams to read. I should have exams to be written, people waiting for things and a general frenzy in my office. Instead, my lava lamp is bubbling nicely, and my office is calm.

I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop...

A few questions...

What is the most satisfying household task?
my answer... cleaning the cat box. It is immediate and looking at the smooth, clean litter is somehow soothing.

What small skills make life easier?
my answer... being able to speak to a group and drive a stick-shift car

Are there categories of things that are ok to give as gifts for other reasons (birthday, anniversary, Valentine's etc..) but not for Christmas?
hubby's answer... Christmas gifts stand for gifts to the baby Jesus and it isn't ok to give sex toys to the baby Jesus...
and, no -- I won't give the conversational context... don't worry.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A note from my bad side to my good side...

Dear Good side..

Next semester, in your Intro to Phil class, you should have a take-home final. It should have some short-answer questions and two required essay questions.

The topic of one of the essay questions should be the presentation date with the lowest attendance. You should tell your class that is what you are doing to see what happens.... and the question will be HARD.

That will teach them to come to come on presentation days...

love,
your bad side...

Grading jail interrupted...

This version of grading jail is brought to you by the number 3 --

after today there are only 3 more full days hubby and I will have to spend completely separated this semester. YEA!!!!

I have 3 cats who have kept me company all semester, and who miss their dad-cat

I have 3 more papers to grade (after the current one)...

Today I saw a great presentation by 3 students, all of whom have had significant challenges this semester. I was very proud of them -- between them they have at least 4 or 5 children ranging from 2 to 27. They have ex-spouses who are trouble, major illnesses in addition to the other kinds of usual money and schedule stresses experienced by many CC students. They also did an extraordinary presentation and I'm proud of them. Last week their ringleader and I had a long talk about how focusing on academic work kept her sane this semester.... and she gained a lot of respect in my eyes as a result.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Grading jail -- with "Family Guy"

This is my last set of papers to grade before finals... the last set of detailed comments I need to give (yea!!) and the last set with a really tight deadline.

and I want them done... NOW. I'm watching "Family Guy" as I grade. It helps.

I have 6 left. One on euthanasia, two on same sex marriage, one on intellectual property and two kind of on politics.

Hubby will call in about 40 minutes. I want to be done with the same sex marriage ones by then... leaving me only three to read before I go to sleep.

Between the family guy and the cat with extra-toes I think I can do it.

I actually did play the flute for 8 years...







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You're a Flute. Cute, but vicious.
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Sunday, November 26, 2006

More grading jail...

Hubby and I are doing a virtual grading jail... he's in Red State and I'm in Big Northern state.

It is more like a short confinement, as we have a chat date to watch a TV show at 9:00.

My grading jail has a new feature... a candle. When I moved from Red State, my friend and hairdresser gave me a Boston Harbor candle, butter rum. It smells great -- I burn it at this time of the year -- when it starts to get chilly and I miss having a fireplace. Smelling it makes me think of my friend -- and it is nice to have a companion in grading jail.

back to work... at least the papers on abortion are done. Strangely, none of them managed to actually complete the assignment.... even though I warned them about the topic... hmmm.

Two more teaching weeks...

Hubby and I each have two more teaching weeks until we can say we've survived our first semester apart.

Right now he's in the "I don't know math" state -- (my debaters will get that joke ;) ) on the way to Red State... he called to tell me that 2 + 2 = blue...

On Thursday 11-30 I'll go down and the following Thursday (12-7) he'll be back here for my birthday on Friday (the 8th... yea, I know John Lennon was killed on my birthday... sigh). After my birthday weekend, he'll hang around so I can give my finals, then we'll take off TOGETHER -- for a few days in Red State so he can finish up....

All told we'll only be separated until the 7th of December... and then we'll be together until January 11th.... when I'll leave Tempe, AZ to go to a debate tournament and we'll swing right into our second semester.

Between now and then we have a lot to do -- but it is all within our abilities to do.

So -- between now and then--- I'll
Wrtie a logic exam
Write an ethics exam
Grade a lot of logic
(today) grade ethics drafts
Pull some basic resarch and reading for my current paper

It is my plan to take the following to Red State:
1 or 2 sets of logic exams
1 set of honors ethics portfolios
1 set of ethics exams
Extra-credit for ethics and honors.
Materials to write my syllabi for Spring 07
The laundry (they have the cool washer and dryer...).

I will get all of that graded and the grades entered, on-time... I swear.

Wish me luck...

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The trip home...

5 Thanksgivings ago, Pam died.

She died on the Friday after Thanksgiving, in the evening. I got the news about 10:00 PM.

The year she died, we lived in Red State. Hubby and I had spent a fun day hanging out, eating leftovers and watching the Nebraska vs. Colorado game on TV. We had a bet... if Colorado won, hubby got a large stuffed buffalo.

One of the last normal things I remember doing was ordering that buffalo off of the internet. I went to the University of Colorado bookstore's website and paid about $50.00 for a big stuffed animal. Every time I look at "Ralphie", I think about the day my sister died.

Everything after that was non-normal. I was 33 when she died -- and her death is the dividing line between 'then' and 'now'.

5 Thanksgivings ago, about this time in the morning on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, hubby and I started our trek home.

I remember driving in our red Ford. Crossing bleak, flat states and empty farm fields. The Midwest in the winter without snow is pretty bleak. I felt very bleak -- and the world was brown and grey. There was nothing outside to distract me from the grief.

That trip was the beginning of the time that I learned that human tears are endless. You could literally cry forever, without stopping. I wondered if I'd ever stop. I wondered if I'd ever be normal again. I worried about the future, I was now my mom's only child. I worried about the pressure of caring for her in her old age. It made me mad that everyone in my family had at least one living sibling and now I didn't.

That day we got as far as my in-laws in the Twin Cities. I remember eating their leftover Turkey and dressing and getting lots of hugs from both my mother in law and her wonderful husband. I remember sitting on their beautiful leather couch and sliding off of it (it seems by behind isn't ment to sit on beautiful leather couches).

The next day, the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend, I finally made it to Mom's house.

Mom wasn't there when we arrived. Pam's husband M, his mother C and siblings B and J were there -- as were a bunch of her friends. B and J had to bring M's car keys up -- since Pam was the last one to have them and they couldn't find them in her things... Thank goodness C had her car up there as well. C and J had been cooking and cleaning, so I walked into a home that smelled good and in to people who loved Pam. I couldn't have been anyplace else at that moment.

A few hours after we got there, Mom finally arrived from southern Missouri. I've never been hugged so hard in all my life. Mom was crying and saying things like, 'I was sure you'd be in a car accident on the way up here'.

That day I realized that the universe isn't predictable. That it is very possible for people you love most exist one day and not the next. They can just die without you having the chance to say goodbye. For this reason I NEVER part from hubby without saying "I love you". I end every conversation with him with "I love you". This is because I never want my last words to him to be anything except "I love you".

Friday, November 24, 2006

More on Pam...

In response to a comment Lisa made.. This started as a response in the comments section, but I think it deserves its own post...

Lisa,

You are right -- there is something poetic, beautiful, brilliant and moving about writing your name in the sky before you die. That was Pam -- she was a full person with all of those qualities. She could also be prosaic, ugly, stupid and obstinte... much like the rest of us -- only magnified.

I often wonder if she didn't know her time here was short...

She made sure I was with the right guy.... (even though we'd been married 11 years at the time she died... she had to check..)

Not long before she died, Pam and I had a discussion about ourselves and our spouses. What would be a 10 minute phone call with someone else turned into a talk-a-thon with Pam. We'd usually split the costs by occasionally haning up and the other person would call back..

In one of our last discussions, Pam wanted to know about hubby -- whether he was the sort of impulsive and action oriented person she was. She noticed that her own hubby, M was calm and centered like I tend to be -- and she wanted to make sure that Jason wasn't like that... calm, centered and tending toward stodgy... Those of you who know hubby in real life won't at all be surprised that I told her he isnt calm and centered like I am.

Pam wanted to make sure that I'd spend my life with someone who would challenge me and make me go out and DO things.. not just plod along at my own calm pace. Once she had that information, she was satisfied.

She planned her own funeral...

She and her hubby M had long conversations that would start with, "If we died snowed in to this cabin, do you want to know what I'd do with your body??" The answers would usually begin in an outrageous fashion... like, 'I'd cut you up and make stew out of you,' or ' I'd throw you into that snowbank and let the wolves get you -- and take pictures with this camera'. But they would then devlove into discussions about what they wanted at their funerals.

Pam told M that she wanted bagpipes to play Amazing Grace, and that she wanted all of her friends there. That the ceremony shouldn't be elaborate -- but she wanted it at the church where she got married and she wanted people who knew her to talk. Afterward, she wanted a simple party. She also said that she wanted to be creamated and that she didn't want to have people looking at her after she was dead.

At the funeral home, we joked that she'd want the most tacky box -- but, M was right in that she'd really want to have the simple pine option that he chose for her.

Also --
Pam was the one who made sure that her husband's mother came with them to the north woods... She seemed to know that he'd need her there. She was right.

Pam --- if you are out there --- I need an answer to one thing... really, I need this answer and you know it has been making me nuts for 5 years.... where are M's car keys?? You had a set on you when you died -- because you drove home from the bar that night -- but they weren't in your pockets or in your purse. They also weren't at Mom's...

so... where did they go?

If you tell me I promise to tell M.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thankful..

In an effort not to be depressed... I should make the traditional "things I'm thankful for" list.

In no particular order:

A wonderful hubby -- who loves to teach and supports me in both my teaching and my scholarship. He also loves cats, certain TV shows and books -- so we get along great. Many people aren't lucky enough to find someone who engages their heart, soul and intellect -- so I am quite blessed to have him in my life.

A crazy family -- both mine and hubby's are crazy in their own way. My grandparents are still independent enough to think they should drive from Iowa to Florida, she's 90, he's 87. My mom is smart and giving enough to know that she should go with them. My in-laws are sweet and very BN-state-like... in the conservative out-state way. My mother-in-law loves to laugh and continues to laugh even when things are hard. What hubby and I do isn't weird and we aren't being pressured to pop out kids or anything.... We also don't fight with our families or have them asking us for money. All of that is a good thing and something for which I am very thankful.

A great place to work -- I couldn't ask for a group of philosophers nicer or smarter than New Guy, Wise Woman, The (former) Nun and Dog Dad. Getting together with them always leaves me supported and able to teach another day. I even kind of like the comm studies people who live on our hall... what's not to like?? They generally go into comm because they like people... (unlike philosophers...) and they generally are fun to chat with. In addition to an office with a window, I also have good administration whose greatest talent is getting out of our way and letting us teach. Who could ask for more??

Generally, fun students who try hard -- Yesterday one of my students said she asked Santa for help with logic, and he gave it to her -- a "really nerdy Christmas present". The logic students are getting it and the ethics students are showing what they've been working on this semester. It is all coming together and they seem to have gained by being in my class. This makes them happy and they end up thanking me pretty often. Now, if only we can finish the last two weeks of the year and get done with finals.

A dissertation supervisor who is good in e-mail -- Since I'm working on my dissertation long-distance, my dissertation supervisor's e-mail communication skills are necessary to do the work. He writes good and nuanced e-mails as "quick" responses. He's good about being clear and always replies, even when he's on leave.

Material needs met -- I have a job that keeps me fed, clothed and not living in a box or in my car. I get cable, wireless and a cell phone. What more could a girl ask for -- really? Writing a Christmas list for mother in law was kind of hard, simply because there is little that I really want that I don't already have.

Generally, I'm happy with myself -- One thing that living by myself has shown me is that I can be my own good company -- I don't necessarily like it -- but I can do it. I don't have to have the phone pressed against my ear at the earliest second. I don't have to be constantly in IM or other communication with someone. I can just be by myself, reading a book, watching TV with only feline companioinship. Of course, I much prefer to be in hubby's company -- but I can be alone too.

A sad anniversary

For the past five years, this has been a difficult time of the year for me. It is a time I should be happy, but it is also the time of year my younger sister Pam died.

It has been five years, today. She died suddenly and naturally, blood-clots in the lungs. She was 30 years old and a newlywed.

The weekend after Thanksgiving, my sister, her husband and his mother were up at my parent's place in the north woods for some rest and relaxation. She was recovering from pneumonia, but was feeling pretty good. After dinner they went out to the bar and came home pretty early. For some reason -- probably because Pam was always a bit odd -- she decided to write her name in the sky with a sparkler leftover from the 4th of July.

Then, she went inside the house and died.

It was instant -- there was nothing the First Responders could do for her and even if she had been in the hospital at the time, there was very little chance she would have survived.

I miss her every day.
They don't have a word for someone who has lost a sibling, nor do they have a word for someone who has lost a child. I'm not sure it would help to have a word like 'widdow' or 'orphan' to describe my status. It would make things less complicated and perhaps make me feel as if there are others who have lost a sibling that they grew up with.

Pam and I didn't have a perfect relationship. Sometimes she made me crazy -- she could be very stubborn and was often flighty, forgetful and selfish. She was also a lot of fun, had a great laugh and could talk anybody thru anything difficult of sad.

Pam's most recent career plan -- can you tell there had been many?? -- was to become a grief counselor. Her idea was to create a practice in which she would provide grief counseling. The kind of cool thing about her business idea was that the practice would also have people who could handle the more practical things like doing the paperwork after death, cleaning out the deceased closets, taking their pets to a no-kill shelter, selling their car or getting their house ready to sell. She would also have close contacts with attourneys who deal with probate and the other legal matters. In effect, you could call Pam when someone died and her network would take care of the rest.

Of course -- the terrible part of all of this is that she then went and died herself.... before setting up a service we needed badly. She always did have terrible follow-thru....

So, today -- on one of those holidays many people dread -- if you are with your siblings, have some fun with them. You don't have to like them as people... they may make you crazy or angry... but, they are the people who have known you the longest and they are most likely the ones who will be with you when you are old. Take the good parts of the relationship and look past their crappy qualities.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

I love presentation days...

I have to say that my favorite thing about the end of the semester is the fact that I have my non-logic classes do in-class presentations.

They learn a variety of skills, from research, reasoning, presentation and visual aids to group dynamics and leadership skills. I get to sit back and watch them instead of reading a pile of papers on the subject.

This year I added a new twist -- the students in my regular ethics class submit 10 test questions on their topic. I'll select from among those test questions for final exam materials.... so, they also help write the exam.

Yesterday was the first presentation day for my honors ethics class. They did a very nice job on the issue of torture in times of emergency. It included video tape of interviews of random BNCC students on the topic.

Today I'm a little worried about how the presentation will come out. It is my regular ethics class and the topic is same-sex marriage. I had a couple of members of that group in my office asking questions about it on Monday afternoon... way to say, "we've procrastinated and didn't do ANY of the reading to develop this topic...". They were supposed to be putting final touches on the presentation, completing the powerpoint etc -- not starting to think about what they were going to say.

Next semester I'm going to keep the presentation project. I just need to be a bit more clear about the timeline... perhaps I'll have individual 1 page writing assignments due from each member of the group discussing the arguments they plan to make. This would increase the grading, but not at the end of the semester where it hurts most. I could keep a copy in case people drop out.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Random thoughts...

1) Hubby comes home today... YEA! It has been a month and the blind cat just feels like the loser in blind cat's bluff.

2) I did the instructor withdrawls yesterday. It is sad to write students off... but, missing enough class to warrant it is sad in and of itself. I'd rather they get a W than an F they didn't deserve.

3) Today I'll be teaching the 'slow' logic class another level of logic. I really hope the people who got extra help last week took my advise or were scared by what I had to say about getting their acts together to learn proofs.... if not, I'm not stopping the class again for them.

4) I finally caved in to hubby's family pressure and traditions and wrote a birthday/Christmas list. I get asked for it every year at Thanksgiving... this year I'll have something to give them.

5) Hubby's funny: the setting was a private booth -- very cozy and very small, with a heating element built into the table -- at the Melting Pot. Hubby and I are getting flirty when he stops to assess the situation... he concludes "there is no scenario in which we could have sex that doesn't end with your backside on the heating element". That's my hubby.

6) How is it that my 7:45 class keeps getting earlier?

Monday, November 20, 2006

Borat and Philosophy

I just got the following e-mail:

hi there,

i'm about to write a paper on borat and philosophy for a college class here in NYC. do you think you might have any ideas to share?

If so, email me, (e-mail address deleted). Looking to create an interesting dialog.

Thanks

I have a few responses...

1) I'm sorry, but I don't have time to get into an e-mail discussion about Borat and philosophy. I don't have these kinds of disccusions via e-mail with my own students, say nothing of a random student from NYC. I have about 125 students right now, if you want to know what I think on this topic, you'll have to enroll in my class at BNCC.

2) It seems to me that while there could be some connections between Borat and philosophy of language -- and those may be somewhat interesting --- most philosophy professors won't have seen the movie. They will also probably think poorly of you for having seen it, so step carefully with this one as the movie could be seen as offensive by many people.

3) Why don't you spend the time you took to e-mail me going to see your professor at your college? Take a draft of your paper and have a short discussion about your thesis. They probably have office hours and, like me, spend that time alone... give it a try.

4) Every e-mail should include capital letters to begin EVERY sentence. I'm not sure who suspended the basic rules for written communication for e-mail, but they were wrong.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

16 years

16 years ago today, my hubby and I were wed in a small ceremony in Colorado. My mother and sister were there, as were two Air Force friends.

When I look at the photos I hardly recognize us. Hubby is very thin with large metal framed glasses. I'm much thinner than I am now with tacky late 80s glasses and longish curly blonde hair. Hubby is wearing his Air Force blue uniform, I'm in my best silk blouse and skirt. There are many sweet photos of us, taken by my sister. There are also many photos of our best man -- because Pam thought he was hot. These are the only photos of our wedding.

We had no money for a big wedding with a photographer, caterer etc... no money for a big white dress, tuxedos etc. We could pay our bills and were living in our own apartment with our cats (two of which we still have, the old one and the blind one) -- but a big wedding was out of the picture. To this day I'm sure we made the right decision.

Our wedding day was sweet and special and focused on our future -- not focuesd on a big party for a bunch of other people. We got married in the new courthouse in our area and one of our favorite wedding photos is us in silhouette against a really pretty window.

We were married by a judge who, in 1990, asked if I wanted to include 'obey' in our vows. I made one of my first feminist decisions when I declined to promise to obey hubby. On occasion I'm sure hubby wishes that I had promised to obey him :) -- but I'm sure that was a good decision as well.

In retrospect, I am amazed at the good decision I made when I was only 21. I look at my students and realize that many of them are the age I was when I got married... and I realize that it probably wasn't intelligence, intution or wisdom that made me say yes when he asked.... rather it was probably a combination of good karma and plain old good luck.

We've lived in three states.... We lived in Colorado for a couple of years after we got married, then we moved to Red State and then to BN state. I suspect we'll finally land in Red State, although if we ended up someplace else all together that would be fine with me too. As long as we are together, we can make anyplace our home.

It seems rather appropriate that he proposed while we were on a trip... Although we've always lived inside the Louisianna Purchase together -- we've travelled quite a bit. We've been to three of the four corners of the country. We've seen all the oceans together and a lot of what is in between. We've been to Canada together, as well as the Grand Canyon and the north woods. We've been to places as empty as Slater, CO and places as populated as LA, Chicago and Washington DC. Over winter break we'll spend some time in the desert, and probably over the summer we'll go to an ocean together again... it has been a while and we are both longing for the salt water and the biggest water there is. I'd like to see New York City at least once, and maybe see New England and Maine while we're in the area.

We've had 4 cats together... one (Piccard) who tried to suffocate me :) -- and three who will be waiting in BN state for me when I return. He had two of the four when we got back together. His story about saving the Old one from freezing to death in a Red State winter sealed the deal for me... I knew then that he had to be mine. Thank goodness my step-dad worked for an airline and I could go visit him in Colorado...

We've been egg-heads together.... Since we've been married we've earned 4 degrees between us (two BAs and two MAs) -- we're both working on PhDs... slowly but surely. We've coached a lot of debate together -- meeting some really wonderful people, as well as many arrogant and nasty people. I'd like to think we are nearly done with that part of our lives... but I do wonder what we'll do instead.

We've had a few jobs -- including working at McDonalds together for a while -- He did several things in the Air Force, I worked as a maid, I answered phones, I did telemarketing, I managed hairdressers and I worked for a credit union before I started to teach.

In the future, I'd love to teach a class with hubby -- he's an energetic and innovative teacher. I think our students would love to have a capstone course on International Relations and the Ethics of War -- if only we could teach at the same place... or even in the same state... sigh.

We've spent today like old married people often do... this morning is none of your business ;) -- this afternoon we've been lounging around the house a bit -- I've been reading "The Bookseller of Kabul" and he's been grading. We went out a while ago for bagles and coffee, bringing them home to watch an episode of "House" while we ate. In a few hours we'll have an early dinner at the "Melting Pot". I'll go back to BN state on the first flight out tomorrow morning. He'll be back in BN state the next evening for Thanksgiving break.

I'm much more sure today than I was 16 years ago that this is the guy for me. He's sweet, pasisonate and supportive. He stands-up for what he thinks is right and sets out to make things better however he can. He's a political moderate with a heart of gold -- and if the world would only bend to his intelligence and common-sense, things would be much better.

In the next couple of years, I'd like to have us living in the same state -- but even if we never achieve that, we'll figure out how to live, love and laugh... and, always to be sarcastic together.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Lessons learned from a trip to the mall

Today I decided I needed some new pajamas here in red state, so I went to the mall.

This is a suburban mall in a nice part of the biggest metro area in Red State. It is where they've recently built a Cheesecake Factory, a PF Chang's etc... This mall has nice stores, a nice mix of people and generally is a nice place to be on a cloudy or chilly day.

Like most other trips to the mall in Red State, today I parked next to a badly parked pick-up truck.

and learned my lesson for the day....

DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, LOOK INTO THE BED OF A PICK-UP TRUCK IN RED STATE.

why, you may ask... a pick-up truck bed is a public space.... what's the worst thing you'll see...

answer ---

a dead possum.

His face frozen in some kind of possum nightmare scowl. His hands curled up into balls... his back feet splayed out....

no, he wasn't just playing possum.

he was dead.

I looked again when I came out of the mall with my new pjs.

it was disturbing...

That is the last time I'll look into the bed of a pick-up truck.

Extensions and meeting deadlines

Of my 14 honors ethics students, 10 turned in papers on the due date...

One of those who turned it in on time had asked for an extension. She said her life was getting crazier and her grown children were in hot water. I told her that the standard extension was until the next class meeting and a 5 point penalty. She decided to just get the paper done and have it over... When she turned it in, she told me she'd spent time in the library to, in essence, hide from her kids while writing the paper. She was really proud to have made the deadline in spite of her challenges at home. I was proud of her.

Three of my extensions were for basic disorganization. They had partial papers but didn't want to turn them in incomplete and needed some extra time. A 10% penalty on a draft isn't a huge deal and I'm sure the comments they'll get will help their final grade to be better.

One extension I didn't assess a penalty for... She's told me all semester about her marital problems. To say he's made her life difficult is a significant understatement. Last time we spoke, she was formulating a plan to get a certificate in something and get a job so she could support herself and her son.

Her teenaged son was giving her a hard time and telling her to just ignore the husband. The son didn't want to move out of their nice house and away from the toys and friends he has... She saw her husband turning her son against her -- and toward the twisted values of his family.

Over the weekend she had to leave because she feared for her life. As of Monday, she had finally landed with a friend who was willing to accept the risk of an irate husband. She commented on how hard it was to write a philosophy paper in the shelter over the weekend, but now she and her son are very happy to be living anyplace that doesn't include the husband.

This student sees that education is her only hope. When I wonder why I teach at BNCC, she is the reason.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Back in Red State

It is our anniversary weekend.

As of Sunday hubby and I will have been married 16 years. I'll probably post on it later -- this is a weekend-long celebration. For now, suffice it to say that I often can't believe we've been married for 16 years. We can't be nearly that old --- on the other hand, it seems odd to think that there was a time when we weren't married, ever.

So far it has been a good trip...

-- I was able to get on earlier flights and got here at 5:30 instead of 11:00 PM. I LOVE Midwest Airlines. Fly them if you get the chance. They treat you like a human being, are willing to hold a flight so someone can make a connection, they have great seats and warm cookies on-board. It is hard to beat them.

-- We went to Borders, as I've finished "Jesus Land" (which you should read... probably). I'm now starting "The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down" -- about a Hmong child. I really should have read this earlier, as many of my BNCC students are Hmong.

--Last night we had another great meal at My favorite Pub... amazing food, nice atmosphere and good service. It doesn't get much better than that! Their spinach salad with warm bacon dressing is really wonderful. For the main courseI had a salmon dish wrapped in filo. It was really, really, really good.

-- Today I'm planning to do some laundry (they have the most amazing washer and dryer, ever..) and read my book. I do have some papers with me, but I may not get to them.