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...

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...

What is your inner musical instrument?

You're a Flute. Cute, but vicious.
Take this quiz!

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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...


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


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.


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....


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.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

My cat is the Jane Goodall of cats....

Sometimes I wonder if my cat is really the Jane Goodall of cats.

He was sent by the cat society to live among humans to study their behaviors and society.

He is trying to understand our habits and routines, our sleep patterns and eating behaviors.

Getting locked in the apartment has been both a boon and a problem for my cat. He cannot understand what it is that I do when I leave the door, and he's not allowed to venture into the HALLWAY.... on the other hand, he has unlimited access to us when we are in the apartment.

He has been with the humans a long time. I'm sure that in the last few years the internet has been helpful to him in sending his reports back to the others.... although, the humans have frustrated that effort by developing laptops and then taking them with them into the HALLWAY.

The recent development of the male of the species being in the HALLWAY for long periods has been a new twist to the living arrangements. It has been helpful in that he has been able to observe extensive phone behaviors, as well as having more access to sleeping behaviors than in the past. On the other hand, his observations of human sexual activity have decreased significantly. He is unsure if we have sex when we are in the HALLWAY.

As usual, he is also watching our interactions with the other cats, the 'pet' cats... those cats who are not as intelligent as he, nor as functional. He notices that the blind cat has a recent behavior of waking the human female with random vocal patterns (his ESP has long been disconnected, the victim of his cognitive disfunction). The female pet cat is, as usual, more of a breating stuffed animal than anything. The cat is taking careful note that the human female has continued to feed and care for this stuffed animal, as if she is a real cat.

The cat is currently wondering if the female human has finally detected his experiment. If so, he reasons she'll 'blog' about it, and thus self-report to the cats outside the apartment. He trusts that their superior analytical skills will decipher her messages and add the data to his field reports.

It is time for the female human to return to bed, the cat is indicating as much. He realizes that his superior intellect may be harming the scientific validity of the study by influencing human behavior, but his affection for the human female as well as his personal ethics require that he act in her own best interests.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

almost out of grading jail

It is 9:30 and I have three more to grade...

The cat is telling me I should stop and go to bed, but I just want to be DONE... especially since I'll be able to return these tomorrow and have 24 hours without ANY grading in my office -- for the first time in a long time.

Wish me luck, the cat is really persuasive.....
As seen at Dr. Crazy's and New Kid's

You can only type one word. No explanations.

1. Yourself:

2. Your boyfriend/girlfriend.....

3. Your hair?

4. Your mother?:

5. Your Father:

6. Your Favorite Item:

7. Your dream last night:

8. Your Favorite drink:
raspberry lemonade

9. Your Dream Car:

10. The room you are in:
the DC

11. Your Ex:

12. Your fear:
not finishing dissertation (sorry for extra words, but that is really IT)

13. What you want to be in 10 years:
PhD, Philosophy

14. Who you hung out with last night?

15. What You're Not?

16. Muffins:

17: One of Your Wish List Items:

18: Time:

19. The Last Thing You Did:

20. What You Are Wearing:

21. Your Favorite Weather:

22. Your Favorite Book:

23. The Last Thing You Ate:

24. Your Life:

25. Your Mood:

26. Your best friend(s):

27. What are you thinking about right now?

28. Your car:

29. What are you doing at the moment?

30. Your summer:

31. Your relationship status:

32. What is on your tv?

33. What is the weather like?

34. When is the last time you laughed?

Grading Jail and logic update

First the logic class update...

The other class took their quizzes yesterday and I graded them this morning. They did very well -- so, perhaps it wasn't exactly me or that the material was too hard.

My solution of an extra-credit small-group quiz seemed to work out, or at least give them a combination of some individual help from another student AND some hope of salvaging their grade. They left feeling better and several thanked me for doing it -- perhaps in response to how cranky I was with them last week when I was sick... they seem to have realized that I didn't have to do it and went out of my way to think of an educational solution for them. There was a nice side benefit of having my better students act as peer tutors in class, giving them the chance to explain the logic... Tomorrow I will only see the ones who did poorly, we'll do some remedial work and answer questions before we get back on track.

Today is grading jail day...

After doing my dreaded expense reports and other picky details at school, I went to the grocery store for snacks and the stuff for veggie chili. The veggie chili recipie is very easy... put all the canned veggies you'd want in chili into the pot (don't drain the cans... that is good juice you're wasting...) season it like you would your favorite chili and let it cook a while.

My plan, following a favorite blogger I don't recall off the top of my head, is to freeze the leftovers for lunches in the next couple of weeks. It is very healthy and tastes yummy.... as chili spices have no fat :).

As the chili cooks, I've been in grading jail.

So far I've graded the extra-credit logic quizzes, done all the logic problems for the next set of rules and I'm about to tackle the first set of papers. These papers are more bulky than they are hard to grade... I just need to get to it --

After I'm done with one set, I'll have chili for dinner...


Monday, November 13, 2006


I don't believe I'm admitting I went to see that movie... but I did.

If it really was intended to represent Kazashstan, it would be sad and scary...

If it was intended to say something about the United States -- it is pretty much right on.

Sure, it has more than its share of gross parts, some of them really gross (the naked wrestling part -- ewwwww). On the other hand, the parts where he's seeing racist and sexist behavior, nasty frat boys in a motor home and having a good night out with a prostitute are a pretty sad statement about our country.

Home for a bit --

Today I'll give a quiz I should have given on Wednesday -- and they probably won't be any better than my other class.

Here is the problem -- and, it is so tricky it is more or less an interview question...

Of 31 quizzes, 17 were either perfect or nearly so, in that they either missed points on simple format issues or they missed one or two important lines of logic. These folks know what is going on and can do the proofs. They'll do fine and are likely to get good grades on the next quiz and the exam.

The other 14 were TERRIBLE. Out of 20 points, I think the highest score was 12.... 60%. They are making up logic or not doing anything at all on them. They aren't asking for help and most of them aren't coming to optional days either. Some of them have admitted to me that they aren't doing their homeowrk --- so, of course their quiz scores suck.

I KNOW the problems aren't too difficult, as they ALL came from their assigned homework problems and they had plenty of time to do them and ask questions... I'm a bit irritated by this -- it isn't like the ones who got perfect scores are just smarter or anything -- it is that the ones who failed didn't try and/or didn't ask questions or show up for class to get extra help. This puts us off the schedule and will make us rush to get caught-up or scale back the final... aaargh.

I'm in a quandry as to what to do about them... nearly half the class doing poorly is problematic to me. What I'm thinking about doing is the following...

Pairing them up -- good quizzers and bad quizzers and having them do an extra-credit quiz together. The ones that need the points will be eligible to earn points to bring that quiz up to a C+, the good quizzers will be able to earn a limited number of extra-credit points. I'm going to ask the bad quizzers to do the writing and ask them to return their last quiz to me as a verification of their handwriting :).

After that, I think I'm going to make Thursday a day the good quizzers don't come to and a day that the bad quizzers must come to....(or what... not sure --) that way it isn't really optional for the ones who need help. I should be able to get the extra-credit quiz graded by then and hopefully they'll be able to see the error of their ways. --- I might give them the same extra-credit problems to do on their own on Thursday and THEN return their quizzes with the good problems on them.


Saturday, November 11, 2006

of high judges and dumb-asses....

So, my boys ended up 3/3 and the girls 2/4... (although, I really think 3/3 -- explained below..).

The boys were 8th seed, so, if they'd done quarterfinals like they'd planned, they would have broken and hit the top seed... which I think they'd beaten in prelims... not bad.

I'm having a bit of an issue with judges. We are in an area that used to do another kind of debate. There two kinds of judges... 1 Those judges think they can judge our kind of debate the same way, and expect the same standards --- but the f-ing event is different. These sorts will make tactical suggestions that make sense with two rebuttals, but are abusive with only one... they just haven't had enough experience and don't realize that there is a body of debate theory thinking on the issue.

2) The ones that think our kind of debate is somehow lesser, and worth less of their attention. One of this sort was actually chemically impared this weekend -- and claimed that one of our teams didn't have any of a certain type of argument that they had about 7 of... What makes me mad about these judges is that, if their prefered form of debate was so f-ing wonderful, why is it dwindling?? As it is, don't disresepct me and my students.... at least we can keep our form of debate alive.

Our next tournament isn't unil January -- and it should be some fun. It will be a nationals-quality judge pool and a lot of fun...

I'll get the tickets next week -- and make the reservations and stuff so the planning will all be done before the crazy end of the semester stuff starts all too soon.

For now, it is nice to know that the next debate trip is mid-January and I can focus on dissertation and grading...

Friday, November 10, 2006

Well, duh I sound like Fargo....

Thanks to Dr. Crazy

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: North Central

"North Central" is what professional linguists call the Minnesota accent. If you saw "Fargo" you probably didn't think the characters sounded very out of the ordinary. Outsiders probably mistake you for a Canadian a lot.

The Inland North
The Northeast
The Midland
The West
The South
What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

A good pal from this state reported getting a comment about how hard it must be to debate in English... they assumed from her accent she was from elsewhere ---

maybe the movie Fargo did one good thing... it showed the accent.

Last tournament of the semester...

I'm in the cheese state for a tournament... our first ever here.

The campus is kind of odd, not much of a campus feel about it, more like a city feel.... oh well.

The weather sucked big-time today. On our walk over to another building it was actually raining ice pellets. Big, hard, frozen raindrops falling from the sky. What a way to start the tournament.

The girls and the boys are 1-1 so far. The boys took a hard beat on the first round, but all is well.

It is a good thing that we decided to come over last night, as some friends from BN state were trying to drive over today and hit some nasty winter weather. It seems that the highway was closed, and when it opened it was still really icky.... then they got into a fender-bender on the highway. I really feel for them -- both their head coach and the coach that is travelling with them are good friends and hitting weather like that sucks all around.

The tournament decided to change the scheudle so that they' only miss two rounds today and we'd do an extra round tomorrow when they could be here. So, tomorrow will be a little longer and today was a bit shorter -- so all is well.

Time for some cold medicine and some sleep.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Secret notes...

To my MTV students,

This isn't an audition for the Real World. Do your homework, don't come to class hung-over and pay attention. Your grade is based on your work, not how cool or sutty you are.

Your phil prof

To Miss-thing,

Don't be mean to people who are doing you a favor. The way you've been acting will get you in trouble and you've made me decide that I won't deal with you anymore.

you know who... or, you can guess.

To Dr. Thing...

If you think the "Dr." or the "PhD" is necessasry within a small community, then you should think about why that is. You may be a perfectly nice and able person, I honestly don't know. What I do know is that adding the "Dr." or "PhD" to your name isn't going to get you the respect and recognition you may actually deserve.

another member of that community...

To 'cool' debaters...

Sorry, y'all arent all that cool. Those 'cool' arguments are actually quite shallow and never would have flown 5 years ago. The only reason they work now is that there are enough shallow judges in the pool that think they are good arguments. Go back to actual arguments and stop being a poser... you'll actually learn something.

your 'non-cool' judge

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

MTV dreams

Being sick, I've been watching TV and eating junk food all day.

Junk TV goes along with the junk food, so it was kind of inevitible that I'd end up watching MTV.

And -- my students make just a little more sense to me now.

The ones that annoy the piss out of me want to be like the people they see on MTV.


The best thing in the world... almost --

Today I called in sick.. I have a cold and feel like crap.

I really didn't feel like going to the grocery store.

thank GOD the best grocery store in the world has an on-line order and delivery service.

The delivery guy is right up there on my list of favorite people... ever.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

So, how about that homework....

Dear Logic class,

Savor today, enjoy the B averages you have... because we both know you haven't been doing your homework and don't have half a clue as to how to do basic proofs.

Tomorrow you'll have a quiz. It will be ugly and you'll leave class wanting to cry. You'll also go out into the hallway and look in your textbook for the quiz problems. They'll be there, just like I told you in class. Then look in your notes for the solutions, they won't be there -- because you didn't do your homework.

In fact, you could have asked me any question you'd like. You could have asked me any of those hard questions at any time -- but, you weren't ready for the answers and you had no clue that you hadn't a clue.

You also could have come for the optional days -- about 1/3 of the class comes... the 1/3 that skipped days I told them not to.... so, they were playing catch-up.

When you want to cry about not getting it, I'll be nice and remind you that we've had this discussion about it being hard. In my mind, I'll be laughing at you -- so there.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

New long-distance marriage challenge...

So -- on the way home from the airport, hubby mentions the election night chili contest at his uni. He says this kind of like, will you be able to tell me how to make you chili -- you know, give me a recipie or something...

Of course, like any good chili cook, I have no recipie. I go to the store, get the stuff and work on it until it tastes like chili... duh...

We discuss the options and end up with me agreeing to make a batch on Sunday as a starter, then we'll eat some and he can add to it as necessary to bring to school on Tuesday.

As a result, I'll probably do well in a chili contest -- while being in another state. Hubby has decided to call it Red State chili ... in reference to my blog term for this ever so odd but sometimes wonderful state...

but -- dammmmm I make good chili. It smells wonderful and should be just about ready to eat...

Saturday, November 04, 2006

A good pedicure does wonders

I have a good friend here in Red State who has opened her own hair salon. Her haircuts are expensive, but worth every penny. She's also like the older sister I never had, so it is always good to see her. Last weekend I got a haircut when I was here.... probably more because I wanted to see her than because I really needed one.

This weekend I went to get a pedicure from someone my hairstylist recommended. Dammm... it was good. Very relaxing, very calm and wonderful. She took care of my feet without complaining about my calouses or the fact that I have a typical Birkenstock ridge on my heel. She did her job well and it was worth the money I paid her.

and, I have bright pink toes....

I don't think I could go to anybody else for a pedicure -- it would be a disappointment for sure.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Burnt Out Adjunct: Kerry, Kerry, Kerry

Burnt Out Adjunct: Kerry, Kerry, Kerry discusses the Kerry situation. Although I left a pretty lengthy comment on his blog, I thought it deserved a bit more.

Many of you may not realize that my sweet hubby is former military -- enlisted. He was in the Air Force for 15 years and has been out for 5. Since then he's become ABD at a top-tier political science school and is currently teaching younings at a top-raded liberal arts uni. All in all, he's no intellectual slouch.

While in the military hubby also had a very successful debate career -- and since finishing debate he's been influential in terms of starting an entirely new debate national championship. Suffice it to say, he can out smarty-pants most of the smarty-pants kids on any playground. The nice thing about these accomplishments is that it isn't just me bragging... there are boxes of awards and stuff at home that say my hubby's got a brain-cell or two to rub together... there is a reason I call him my Google.

Having been a military wife for about 10 years and having taught several classes on a military base in Red State, I can tell you that - while hubby is top of the heap -- it isn't as if he was the only bright guy enlisted in the Air Force. This is why Kerry's comments, and the attitude they reveal -- are so infuriating.

The attitude was actually said rather succinctly by a debater nearly 7 years ago, when he told me (as his judge) that 'people are in the military because they can't get regular jobs and didn't graduate from high school'. This is the same sentiment that I see Kerry expressing with his comments.

This sentiment is due to ignorance and and it makes me ill. The ignorance also smacks of elitism, in that the reason most of these yahoos don't know about the military is because the military is generally an option for POOR people (not dumb ones). Thus, they know very few, if any people who have served in the military -- because those people can't afford to live in neighborhoods with the beneficiaries of Big Catsup.

So, while they want to send the military to do dirty work, they won't admit that the people who serve in the military might do so for reasons other than the lack of a good education. Hello -- how about needing a decent job that pays health-benefits, living allowances and pays for school as well. The military has programs that are attractive to the kinds of people they need -- people who are smart enough to use the high-tech equipment Congress buys them, and smart enough not to use it --- even when the use of it could save their own lives (see Colin Kohl in Foreign Affairs Nov/Dec... great article).

The sad thing about all of this is that Kerry isnt on a ballot someplace and that his ignorant comments may be used against good candidates.

Back in Red State

It was good to get off the plane last night. In a very odd sense, I felt like I was going home and not visiting... perhaps because this is the third weekend in a row that I've been here. I'll be in the cheese state next weekend for debate and then back here again to celebrate our anniversary. Hubby will be home for Turkey and then December is a mystery -- but I suspect I'll be back again at least once in December.

I've decided that I will NOT bring this set of papers back not graded. I have to have them back to my students on Monday, as it will have been almost 3 weeks... aak. When I told my class that their papers would go to Red State with me again, one of them quipped, "my paper has left the state more often than I have, EVER"... which is sad in and of itself... but, funny.

For this trip and the next I'm flying on the chocolate chip cookie airline. This involves a stop in the cheese state to change planes before heading back west... this is kind of a pain, but the cheese state airport is really pretty easy to deal with so the extra time involved is worth saving the few hundred dollar differnce between that and the direct flight.

Besides warm cookies in the air and decent seats, the other advantage to this airline is that, in BN state, this airline has been relegated to what was the 'charter' terminal... why is this an advantage?? NO lines at security, close parking at a lower rate and a generally nice, relaxed airport atmosphere.

Yesterday I got to the airport about 90 minutes before my flight. After a quick check-ing and FAST security check -- which would have been faster without the old guy in front of me -- I had time for a nice lunch before my flight. They brought in a local restaurant to run the food service, and the one that came in has their main location very near where I grew up. What was cool about that is that their decor is all about the lake etc.. and under plexiglass on every table is a copy of an antique map of the lake where I grew up... I got to eat lunch looking at where my childhood home was... it was kind of fun.

I also noticed that, when the Red State flight was called -- all the people I suspected of being from Red State got in line. They (and probably I) have a look that screams, Red State. After you see it, you can pick it out of any crowd...

Today I'll polish a paper to submit as a writing sample here in Red State -- then I'm going to grade papers and relax... no real dissertatin work this weekend. I need a short bit of time off, and I'm going to take it.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

A dream dashed...

So, my overly social nature and the fact that I'm so rarely in the office kept me out of my grading jail for too long yesterday.

I did get one section of papers done, but I have several to go.. sigh. At least one of those sets of papers will go with me to Red State again (the third time for this set) -- although, the fact that I'm flying and not driving allows me to grade papers on both flights (a Milwaukee connection saved me over $100.00).

I have also decided that I'm going to take time off from the dissertation-related writing. A version went out on Tuesday night, and I'm going to let it sit for a while and not start something else until I get some feedback. If I can get this current set of grading done, I'll be in good shape until the end of the semester... YEA student presentations in Ethics and Logic that I've taught so many times...