Monday, July 31, 2006

The feeding ritual

I live with three cats.

One is ancient, for a cat -- Oldest Kitty is a creaky little white thing who is missing many of her teeth. She sleeps most of the day on a chair in the living room. Even when she isn't in her chair, it is clear that it is her chair from the white cat hair that covers the seat.

The other two cats are larger, male and generally brown tabby-like. Blind Kitty is a bit younger than Oldest Kitty, but much more mobile and active. If Blind Kitty weren't blind, you'd think he was about the same age as the other boy cat. Extra Toes is about 10 years old, and by far the youngest of the three. He has, as you may have guessed, extra toes on all of his feet. I'll post a picture sometime soon, but for now imagine a normal cat foot and add two toes to the inside of each front foot. Where normal cats have 8 toes in front, he has 12. He also has dew-claws on his back feet, for a grand total of 22 claws... he generally gets what he wants.

Oldest kitty needs to eat babyfood --yea, the stuff in the jars -- she likes any meat flavor. I get strange looks in the supermarket when people see me clear out the "chicken and gravy" section of Gerber's food... Since she has very few teeth, she needs to eat baby food to avoid puking most of it up. This is the cat version of Ensure.

The problem is that Blind Kitty and Extra Toes LOOOOVE babyfood. They will more or less push Oldest Kitty out of the way to get at the babyfood we put down for her. Oldest Kitty is very cranky, so we can't just put her elsewhere to eat, because she won't eat it... so -- the feeding ritual goes as follows...

1) Oldest Kitty finds us in the kitchen and demands (via grunts and growls) to be fed.

2) We pick up Blind Kitty and Extra Toes and put them in a bedroom and return to feed Oldest Kitty.

Blind Kitty and Extra Toes have learned that if they are cooped up in the bedroom for about 10 minutes, they'll get babyfood. They go willingly... although each of them is pushing 20 pounds -- I can pick them up with one arm and take them in the bedroom...

3) Oldest Kitty finishes eating and returns to her chair for another nap.

4) We let Blind Kitty and Extra Toes out of the bedroom.

5) Extra Toes goes into kitty-overdrive to get to the kitchen first...

Extra Toes always beats Blind Kitty places, as Blind Kitty no longer runs because hitting something at Kitty Warp 9 hurts...

6) Eventually Blind Kitty finds the kitchen and Extra Toes lets him lick the spoon.

7) All is well... until Oldest Kitty gets hungry again, and we repeat the ritual....

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Home TV - a guilty pleasure

On the theme of playing like it is really cold outside...

Yesterday I went shopping... i've decided I need some new clothes for school and have been really lucky at finding sales etc... I also bought some make-up yesterday.... for those of you who know me "in person", you'll know what a big deal that is...until yesterday I was the original no make-up girl. Since I'll be looking at the Red State job market this fall, I realized I should change my image a little -- to be "more professional" -- so, it is make-up and a little bit dressy for me....

I also bought a foof for my PowerBook -- the dark blue one. Since it is coming from Australia, it will take a while.... it, along with my stuff from Le Sportsac. Since I'll be coming home without hubby, a couple of consolation prizes is ok....

Today hubby and I slept in and then hung out in bed with the cat boys until almost 3:00 PM.... He ways playing a video game and I was reading "Pledge", about the Greek system... When we managed to haul ourselves out of bed, hubby went to longtime friend's to play some video game and I stayed home to make tuna-pasta salad, which is in the fridge getting better as I type.

On TV is something that seems to be more of a trend -- "Flip that House" shows featuring black people as the flippers. They are entrepreneurs who are going into black neighborhoods, hiring black sub-contractors and usually selling to black people. While I'm not at all surprised that this is going on, I'm very surprised that they put it on TV. In the end of these shows, they generally show the flipper making a decent amount of money.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Moving to Red State = A good excuse not to go to camp...

Hubby and I are hanging in the DC, I'm reading blogs and he's filling up the Nano we got free when our favorite niece picked out a new mac as the family graduation gift...

As I browsed Facebook, it hit me -- thanks to hubby's move, we don't have to go to debate camp this year!

Not that I don't looove debate camp -- because, well, I don't exactly love it.

To be more precise, I have a love/hate relationship with it. I've had some fun and had some good conversations with some really nice people. I've met some great coaches and had a good time working with them. I've also had some pretty good results for my students -- D1, D2, and Rex learned a lot last year and the year before Bex and the Woodchuck gained another level of debate ability by going...

On the other hand -- debate camp is long, living in the dorms with undergrads is trying and stressful at best and it takes a long time out of my summer.... and it is a long way away, especially this year when it is in Wyoming. Two years ago we made the 18 hour drive in one day-- passing THREE Cabella's on the way....

Living in the dorm isn't comfortable when you are a late-30s married couple, who enjoy little things like non-worn out twin sized beds, carpets on the floor and our own bathroom.

Last year hubby, a buddy, and I were in charge of camp. Hubby had the audacity to write three rules of conduct, the third of which was simply to say that camp faculty should refrain from **instigating** relationships with debaters. This is in response to the prior year when the faculty didn't have enough brains to do so on their own. As a result, the guilty people from the prior year made things really miserable for hubby --

The year before last, every night of camp, someone was arrested for their use of illegal chemicals -- every f-ing night. At least last year the worst that happend was a pretty strange incident in which a drunken debater bit the ankles of several of his closest friends.

This year I'm sending Herbie and Swear Jar to camp without me. I know they'll probably break a few alcohol rules, but I hope they have a good experience and learn something that will win them some debate rounds next year.

Yea--- that's about right....

You Have Your Sarcastic Moments

While you're not sarcastic at all times, you definitely have a cynical edge.
In your opinion, not all people are annoying. Some are dead!
And although you do have your genuine moments, you can't help getting your zingers in.
Some people might be a little hurt by your sarcasm, but it's more likely they think you're hilarious.

Red State good things...

A week from tomorrow hubby and I will go to Big Red and only I will come home... in order to try to stay upbeat about this, because hubby is excited, nervous, scared, happy and sad all at once -- I'm going to write post about the good things about him being gone... this one is about the good things connected to Red State.

1) Traffic -- they think they have traffic jams there when it takes them more than 20 minutes to cross town. They really don't know what they are talking about. We plan our trips according to missing rush-hour. We watch the news for word of construction etc.. and avoid those areas. I lived in Red State for 9 years, they don't know traffic jams... I commuted diagonally across the whole metro area in 30ish minutes. It often takes me longer than that to get to BNCC, which is on my side of town. I'll put traffic in the Red State wins category for sure.

2) Friends and family -- This is kind of a wash as both of our mothers live here, but we've only been gone for four years, so most of our friends are still around. I have a wonderful aunt and uncle who live in Red State and another uncle who visits a lot because his sweetie lives in Red State. We have lots of friends down there -- and they are people I miss hanging out with and bumping into... so getting back there will be good. In Red State you bump into people much more often simply because the city is so much smaller -- there are only so many things that people like us like to do, so even if we don't plan it we end up seeing people often due to concentration... here we almost never bump into pals because the area is so spread out.

3) Hair --- I have "challenging" hair... it is curly and wild and going gray even though I am only 37. I hate my hair and dread getting it cut because I'm perpetually afraid it will get worse. In Red State I can get a good haircut from people I know have been trained well -- because I scheduled their training (someday I'll write a whole series about the beauty salon industry...). A really good friend of mine is also a fantastic stylist with her own place... so I know I can get a good cut and color from her. It will cost me about $120.00, but it will be well worth it -- if only she needed philosophy tutoring or something we could work out a trade.

4) Restaurants -- even though BNCC is in a much bigger metro area, most of my favorite places to eat are in Red State. The best Indian food in the world yummy , my favorite innovative pub food delish.., and several really good Chinese places that don't have websites... These places are also easier to get to, easier to get into etc...

5) Money -- basic stuff is often less expensive down there.. .and big things are usually less expensive. For the rent we pay for a big but very basic apartment we could rent something really nice down there. The housing market up here is really inflated, so our slightly lower salaries will buy a lot more down there. Also, we have lots of professional pals we can call for some free advise.... I can think of lawyers who specialize in almost everything we'd need, a couple of doctors and some other assorted profesisonals who would help if we needed it... and not charge us a buckt of money. Also, hubby will be making an actual salary down there instead of the gradstudent stippend. I have a feeling that at the lower tax rates, lack of union dues and other things, even though my gross is significantly higher we'll bring home the same paycheck. This will be nice -- really nice. if I can get a similar job down there, all will be VERY nice -- but that remains to be seen.

6) My departments -- I can't quite say this is comletely a Red State wins scenario as I'm tenured at BNCC, but I think once I have my dissertation more fully developed, I'll be likely to get interviews as positions come up. I was an adjunct down there at one school for about 3 semesters and another school for about two years. I was there long enough for them to know that I can teach without causing uproar among the students, but not long enough that they know they'll be able to keep me as an adjunct forever.

I was finishing my grad classes when I was teaching there, so I'm not the perpetual adjunct in their minds. Further, I won't move to be an adjunct --- or, at least I'm going to make them think that -- so if they want me on faculty they'll have to make me a good offer. If I can generate a dissertation (long distance) while teaching a full CC load, they'll realize that I can both do research AND teach their lighter loads and not freak out.

It also doesn't hurt that hubby's department is owed a favor by my department at hubby's school -- and that I was also a good student of the department chair of the other major school... (i.e. the only student to finish his course one semester). This scenario is really odd, because both hubby and I could easily end up teaching at our undergrad schools...

Acting like it is really cold....

So, I'm a northern girl -- I love crisp summer mornings camping when you get up and can almost see your breath. I love having the end of my nose be a bit chilly as I leave the tent go to the potty. I love burrowing under a warm blanket when I go back to bed. Perfect camping equipment for me includes a few pairs of wool socks, jeans, sweatshirt and a jacket.

I don't understand the terms "heat advisory" and "heat warning". They told us that we'd start a heat advisory this afternoon and it would expire Sunday at noon... I thought it would cool down a little on Sunday to only be a heat warning that would last until the middle of next week. No, stupid me -- I just figured out that the heat warning is worse than a heat advisory and that it would get hotter before it cooled off sometime in December...

I live someplace where an only slightly abnormal year sees a temprature difference (in real degrees-- (not heat-index or wind-chill... real temprature) of 130 degrees. It could easily top 100 this week--- and I've seen it down to -30 in the last two years. At my mom's I've seen an alcohol thermometer that goes down to -45 not read anything.... i.e. it is too cold to show. I'd much rather be cold then hot -- you can only take off so many clothes.

Today I went to fancy grocery store because you can drive up for your groceries--- and I wouldn't have to haul them to the car myself...

It struck me, we are more or less living like it is -20 outside.... inside, huddled around the AC like it is a fireplace and we are in a log cabin, only going out when it is most likely to be comfortable (winter, mid-day -- summer, early morning or well after dark) and hurrying from the store to the car like we'd get frostbite if we didn't.

We're now stocked up on cool foods, foods that require minimal heating of the stove or oven, we have some DVDs and the endless internet to keep us entertained and we'll just wait to do stuff outside until things get better.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Good stuff about hubby moving to Red State, I (domestic)

I'm going to do plenty of whining posts about hubby being gone (we leave a week from Saturday and he doesn't come home with me... :( ).... So, I'm going to keep track of reasons why it is a good thing. Please refer me back to these posts when I get too whiney... because I will get whiney :).

These are in no particular order --

Closet space -- hubby will take a bunch of clothes with him. I'll finally be able to clean out the closet without him looking, so I'll be able to get rid of the "Dandy Bar" t-shirt he's had since I met him in high school. I won't have to resort to putting the cat litter on top of the clothes so he won't go digging in the trash like mom has to do to throw out stuff of step-dad's..

Bookshelf space -- we can't throw away books around here... i'm sure you are familiar with the concept. Hubby will take a bunch of stuff with him, clearing up space on our shelves so I don't have to make difficult decisions in order to see the tops of most of our bedroom furniture (somehow the extra books end up in there... hmmm).

Laundry -- only my stuff on a regular basis -- wow -- and I'll be doing it. No more washing red shirts with white shirts... no more washing red sheets with white sheets... no more washing new tie-dye with white stuff... no more washing black stuff with yellow stuff... granted, hubby's learned from these experiments in the laundry room, but generally my stuff has been the white stuff.

Furniture arrangement -- hubby HATES to rearrange the furniture, hates it like you wouldn't believe. Last summer we got in a huge fight about moving around end tables in the livingroom. I still don't know how swaping them out was going to cause an end to civilization as we know it, but it was going to happen.... now I can move the big and little stuff around without going 40 rounds. I'll tell him about it after the fact, on the phone, and by the time he comes home next he won't even notice the difference.

Restaurants -- getting to have Jimmy John's sandwiches and Culver's burgers... he hates them both. I'm not a huge fan or anything, but I like them on occasion. He also hates Mexican food... longtime friend and I can now go out for nachos and burritios without having to make deals with hubby.

In the bedroom -- first, I could rearrange it if I wanted... see above -- also, when I wake up in the middle of the night I don't have to get up and write blog posts, I can turn on the light and read for a while... I'm not sure this won't make me miss him more, -- but that isn't what this post is about, dammit!

Time to go back to bed -- next time I need to do one of these posts, I'll write about the good stuff down there I'll be able to do when I visit...

Tell me why...

A round-trip ticket is about 230.00 from Minneapolis to Red State, but a one-way ticket is 360.00? It would cost me an extra 130.00 to NEVER come back from Red State (eek...)?

I know it has to do with discounted fares etc... but I think it is really stupid.

I should go back to bed--- I'm getting back into the wake up early thing... I hate it. For a while I actually slept until 7 or even 8-- I know this version of insomnia happens when I get stressed, and hubby started packing his books last night --- which I know he has to do, and which will actually help with our overflowing bookcase situation... but, it is stressful anyway.

Today we are going to one of my favorite places for lunch--- a restaurant where we can sit in the shade and watch the boats go by on the river. Then we have a variety of errands to do-- and will generally mess around until it is time to pick up my favorite niece to go laptop shopping for her gradution gift.

We'll have a fun day--- hubby loves to shop.... although he won't admit it. The only thing he doesn't like to shop for is clothing, but he loooves to shop for souveniers... loves it.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

"Class Action" --Reading for Pleasure Wednesday...

Dr. Crazy at Reassigned Time -- whom I read very regularly -- came up with the brilliant idea of posting about what we are reading for pleasure.

I've been reading "Class Action" by Clara Bingham and Laura Leedy Gansler. It is the story that inspired the movie "North Country"... although, the movie doesn't do the book justice.. I'll save that for another post.

For those of you who have missed the thesis of the movie -- in 1975 the taconite mines (a kind of iron) in Eveleth, MN were required to start hiring women. Since jobs in the mines were dirty "men's work", they also paid significantly more than the usual jobs available to women in 1975. Combined with good benefits, miner's salaries were enough to support a family on the Iron Range in northern Minnesota. Competition for these jobs was pretty intense and men hired in the mine tended to stay with the company because there weren't many other jobs in the area. When the women were hired, the general consensus among the men was that the mine was 'no place for a woman' and/or that the women were taking jobs away from a man who needed it to support their families... (the fact that most of the women who applied WERE sole support for their family was ignored by these guys).

The women hired in the Eveleth mine were subjected to a very high level of sexual harrassment. It took every imaginable form, from crude/pornographic materials in common areas, crude graffiti, casual sexual comments to outright assault and stalking. When women managed to get the courage to complain, their complaints were ignored both by the plant management and the union. Eventually, after an EEOC complaint fell apart, three women started a private lawsuit against the company and the union. The book is the story of the women working in the plant, their sexual harrassment and the story of the legal proceedings.

Bingham and Gansler write more in the style of reporting a news story than telling the story as a story itself. At first this bothered me, it seemed to be treating sexual harrassment in a very cold way. By the end of the book I'm coming to see how necessary their tone is.. and I'm kind of grateful for their level of detachment, as the story is so difficult.

I am simply amazed that all of this sexual violence was happening in the state where I grew up, while I was growing up. I can't imagine such behavior being considered acceptable by the time I got my first job at McDonalds in 1986. Less than 200 miles from me, women were being tortured (I have no stronger word -- and I think the harrassment was bad enough to be called torture) when they went to work. It also boggles my mind that they really had no other options, although I know that to be true. The women of the Eveleth mine were so determined to be independent and support themselves and their children that they endured regular and systematic sexual abuse at the hands of their co-workers.

What bothers me most about the story is the fact that some of the men and women in the mine didn't see anything wrong with the non-physical harrassment. Many didn't even see it as wrong when they were asked, 'would you want your wife or daughter exposed to this environment' --- they'd say 'no, of course not' and then go on to say that having porn inside the door of a locker the female miners needed to access on a regular basis was an acceptable situation. Sure, they'd say that any level of unwanted touching was wrong, but not that setting a hostile work enviornment is wrong.

I am also amazed at the lawyers involved in this case. The main lawyers for the mine/union were quite ruthless in the way they treated the women. I realize they were doing their jobs -- but, as an ethicist, I don't see that as an excuse for further dehumanizing (and I don't use that word lightly) the women bringing the suit. The lawyers for the plaintiffs were also amazing, but in exactly the opposite way... their patience and legal smarts were the only hope the women had. They became involved in the lives of these women and set legal precedents that will help women far into the future.

I have to say that the fact that I can go to work without this kind of enviornment AND make a decent living is something I'm not going to take for granted. The fact that my department is 50% female, and the women have seniority is also a good thing... along with the fact that my amazing dean is a woman.

I'm going to finish the book today --- and then I'll start something fiction -- and probably more fun... it couldn't get much worse :).

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

An afternoon of not much...

Having pledged that we would work tomorrow -- really... I'm planning to take the afternoon off.

Golfing was fun, and not as expensive as I recalled -- maybe the middle of the day discount kicked in or something. We played only 9 holes, had to pay for 18 -- but it was getting hot and we were tired at 9, so we stopped.

I figured out that I need men's length clubs. My clubs are women's clubs and they are too short for me -- I played better at the end of the course when I was using hubby's clubs. Now he has plans for me to take his clubs, we'll sell mine and he can get some new ones... always the schemer to go shopping, my hubby :).

In terms of how I actually played -- since I don't keep score, my rating would be partly-cloudy.... or something like that. I swung and missed a few times, but not often. I took a few divots and topped a few (if I could average them, the game would have been mostly sunny).

I only lost two balls -- on the last hole, into the water. They were cheap found balls we keep for those kinds of shots -- my first try almost made it over the water, only to plunk in near the shore. My second try went into the trees on the near side of the water and I think I hit a duck.... or, came pretty close, as my shot was followed by an outraged quack.

I also think, were I keeping score, that I managed to beat hubby on one hole -- I hit short but straight shots and he hit long shots into the trees or over the fence....

We followed golf with lunch at a local chain ... not the place on the river, but I got a promise to go there before August 5.... so I'm happy. We drank enourmous amounts of Iced Tea and had a waiter who looked like a dumb version of a debate coach pal (debaters... think Rob from Willammette/Central Michigan/Truman -- only a bit taller, not so cute and minus about 50 IQ points...). I ordered wings, which were really good... they do take-out there and it is on the way home from BNCC... hmmm.....

This afternoon I'll do some random housework and laundry. Between loads of laundry I'll nap and read "Class Action" -- Hubby has a video game play date with long time friend-- LTF has the newest video game thingy and a HUUUUGE TV, so they play over there and leave me in peace to futz around an lie under the cat with the extra toes.

Today I play...

The plan for today is to play some golf this morning and maybe (secret plan here..) get hubby to go to a restaurant I know he'll like but is out of our way...

Golf and I have an odd relationship. I don't like it because it is expensive and I'm not very good at it. I like the exercise and the walk in a grassy space. Since I refuse to keep score, I'm ok with hubby being compeitive... but, since we don't do it often it is an amusing distraction and a good thing to do once or twice in the summer when we are feeling like slugs.

The restaurant is pretty cool -- a pal of mine told me about it and I took Mom there a few weeks ago. Really good food and an amazing patio -- shady overlooking the river and the lift bridge. By the time we are done with golf (we play slooow) and get all the way up there we could miss part of the lunch rush and get a seat on the deck... it is cool even when it is kind of hot (for here... high in the 90s).

I think this afternoon I'll do laundry and watch a movie or something. I'm also working on reading "Class Action" (the story the moive "North Country" is based on. I find that whole Eveleth mine thing pretty stunning, as those women were being severely sexually harrassed while I was in high school and college in the cities a couple of hundred miles away. It is just astonishing to me... and I believe every word.

Also -- a Debater/blog pal is in Duluth this week -- I found out via her blog. It is cool to see someone else experience the area for the first time.

Syllabi --- out the door

My fall syllabi are on the way to the copy center --- which means they are finalized and I can't change them. I'm happy with the results. I managed to keep stuff that worked from last semester, (presentations and a cool logical fallacy project that got rave reviews) ditch some stuff that didn't work (summaries of reading they didn't do...) and create something new (contract grading for debate).

I also managed to avoid a major snafu by having good follow-up instincts... so Herbie and Swear Jar's tuition to debate camp will get paid. YEA!

I had a good chat with Dog Dad, as usual. I'm really glad we hired him-- he took the family 'up north' for the weekend last weekend and now understands what all the fuss is about. They spent the weekend swimming and playing in the water and their black lab was in doggie heaven...

Recently I've been daydreaming about having a tiny cabin on a secluded lake...I can see the path down to the lake in my head... a narrow dirt path worn in long grass, shaded by some big trees. The cabin itself is just to the right -- two rooms, water, electric and no phone. The inside has as much comfortable furniture as we can find at Goodwill -- and a king-sized bed with well-worn sheets fills the only bedroom. The kitchen, if you want to call it that, is a few cupboards with a small stove and fridge along the back wall. There is a grill outside for most of our cooking and a franklin stove in the corner in case it gets chilly. The only modern conveinece would be a satelite dish so we can get internet-- as that is a necessity for spending my fantasy summer there. In my summer fantasy, kids -- if we had them -- would spend most nights sleeping in a tent, dragging their sleeping bags in to sleep on the livingroom floor when it rained.. and the cats are easily converted to indoor-outdoor kitties, since my fantasy lake is far from any roads other than the slow gravel one past our driveway... sigh--- maybe after we get tenure...

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Hubby's move --

Hubby figured out yesterday that we'd be leaving in two weeks. Somehow it hit him hard when he realized he'd be leaving the cats at home with me. The blind one is really attached to hubby this summer -- so it will be hard on both cat and hubby. Also, my cats aren't exactly good at IM and talking on the phone --so staying connected is more of a challenge

To make him feel a little better we booked his first airline ticket home today for Labor Day weekend. He can be home by 5:30 on Thursday and not have to leave until 6:40 on Monday night... a nice long weekend for us. We've already made plans to go to the state fair on that Friday to eat food on a stick and visit the political booths (yea, we're nerds -- we go to the state fair for the politics, so sue me).

I also figured out that, on a normal week I can be in Omaha by about 5:30 on Thursday and not have to leave until Monday mornings at 7:00.... sure, a 7:00 AM flight more or less sucks and turns my Mondays into marathons (out the door by 5 AM, fly, teach two sections, coach debate at night until about 10PM) -- but, it gives me three full days with my sweetie -- so it will be worth it.

Coffee shop rambles

from yesterday...

Hubby is too distracting (in a good way… but still) so I had to come to the local chain coffee shop to get some work done. No – it isn’t the S chain… a quasi-local chain, Cariboo coffee. Good coffee, decent tables and the staff is decent… but, they make you pay for the wireless – so I’m safe from internet surfing temptation.

As usual, when I’m out in public and in the same place for a while, someone starts to annoy me… this time it is a woman with her older parents. Clearly, she thinks she’s hip and stylish – but, she isn’t. Black pinstripe pants and an ugly turquoise print shirt simply isn’t stylish. Really. Her hair is decent for the mid-90s, but the caked-on make-up isn’t really the look – she looks like a before for “what not to wear”. I’m certainly no fashion plate, but it is also clear from the way I’m dressing and acting that I don’t think I am either. What gets to me is when people think they are something they aren’t.

She’s also stupid. Sorry, but there is no other way to say it. She’s said more obnoxious things to her elderly parents than I care to recount. From giving them a hard time about what they ate for lunch to mocking them because they don’t know a latte from a frappachino. Come one, they are in their eighties – give them a break --- they were old when coffee got complicated.

The object of my irritation also said stuff that is racist, sexist and heightist. She actually said that she’s glad her daughter isn’t tall enough to make the good soccer team because she doesn’t like tall girls.. huh? So, if her daughter hits 5’9 she’s going to not be her favorite any more? Wow… at least the daughter wasn’t there.

So – I’ve finished my homework for my meeting on Monday (a writing assessment project that is pretty interesting..) –now, I’m going to read at least one and no more than three philosophy articles on the topic of my dissertation before going to the swanky grocery store on the way home for some inspiration for a healthy dinner.

Also – for old cat lovers out there – if you have one with a really delicate stomach and/or some bad teeth, baby food in meat flavors is a good alternative to canned cat food. My eldest kitty (Heroin Kitty to my debaters) loves any meat flavored baby food, when she barely touched canned cat food. She also doesn’t puke it up, which is a bonus – AND the multi-toed wonder that is my youngest cat doesn’t have the connection made between the pop of a baby food jar and yummy food on the floor of the kitchen, so he lets her eat in peace – double score.

and.. for the cat people -- do you notice your cats making a high-pitched humming noise in their sleep? One of my boy kitties did this loud enough for me to hear abt least 5 feet away.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Professors and clerical work...

Over at "Dr. Crazy's" and others (still bad with the links.. sorry) there has been some discussion of the change in duties for those of us who are 'professors'. I just woke up from a strange dream in which I made incoherent comments on several blogs on this topic, so if I left some incoherent ramblings about clerical work on your blog -- sorry, I'd like to say it was a drunk-blogging incident, but all I can honestly do is blame it on several Diet Berries and Cream Dr. Peppers.

I suppose I am feeling a little defensive about asking our department (division, really) secretary to make copies and do some scanning. I feel that way because some members of my own department get pretty self-righteous about making their own copies etc... My justification for asking her to do so has several points..

1) My office time is between classes and when others are generally also teaching -- which puts us all in the copy room at more or less the same time. Her hours are during our heaviest teaching time, and as such she has access to the copier at low demand times when I do not. I also have larger sections than anybody except other philosophers and the one person who teaches 'humanities' -- so I'll clog up the copier for others if I try to do my copies myself. Thus, it is more efficient for her to make the copies.

2) At least 3 and maybe as many as 5 weeks this semester I will leave campus with a van full of debaters on Thursday at noon and not return until Sunday late at night. This means that nearly all the work I could have done to prep class between Thursday noon and Sunday night needs to be done between Monday morning and Thursday noon--- this is also when I do ALL of my teaching and office hours -- so, see #1 above... I need to be working on preparing to teach, not babysitting the copier, especially when those weekends are on either side of a very short week.

3) Each of us, when we take a job, accepts a set of responsibilities that go along with that job. My responsibilities include 20 contact hours (15 teaching plus 5 office hours) and several subjects in which I have large sections (max of 50, no TA). In order to fulfill those responsibilities I have completed a set of degrees and am working on one more (knock on wood, God willing etc...). Our Administrative Assistant's job duties include making copies. I don't ask her to do a single copy of some random piece of paper -- but, if I have 80 or 100 multi-page exams to give, it is her responsibility to make me copies or send them to the copy center. They don't include running the 'scantron' (bubble sheet reader), entering grades, giving make-up exams and a whole lot of other administrivia, so it isn't unreasonable for me to ask her to do something that is in her job description... and, since I was in on hiring the AA before this one I've seen the job description.

4) The copier sucks and breaks down often. I can easily add paper to the machine. I will reluctantly clear a simple paper jam. I refuse to learn how to add toner and staples. That is in the same zone as cleaning fish for me --(mom says don't learn how to clean fish because then you'll have to do it!). Others have really screwed up the copier via toner accidents and msi-haps with staples. The copier repair guy already thinks we pour pop into the deep inner workings of the copier -- I know this because the freak TOLD me so one day last Spring -- I'm not going to screw it up more. When the copier breaks, our AA has had some basic training via the copy repair guy, she should use that knowledge. She also has the all-important phone number for the copy repair guy and knows how to make him come take the machine apart for several days and cuss at it until it works. If she's gone for the day (she comes in early, leaves early and works less than full-time, by contract), then I have the number to call to get other help... IT hates it, but it is their responisibility to come fix the copier, so I say make them do so.

5) Just because some older/more senior faculty abuse the AA's time, sucking most of it for themselves doesn't mean that I can't ask for some of it. Just because other newer faculty don't do things until the last minute and thus need to make all their copies for class just before class when it is too late to ask for help, doesn't mean that I'm equally disorganized. In fact, when the newer and unorganized faculty are printing out a bazzillion copies of a class handout right before class, they clog up the printer so that I can't get the three page printout I need of the revised PowerPoint slides I did for class. When the AA makes a bazzillion copies, she does them when we are teaching (see #1).

6) Frankly, our AA's computer and clerical skills aren't all that great. She's a nice person and all, but I wouldn't ask her to type something for me unless it needed a typewriter. I don't know if she knows how to use Excell or PowerPoint. I wouldn't ask her to file or purge my files because goodness knows what she'd keep or toss. I wouldn't ask her to clean my office because that is degrading and not her job. I can't ask her to do anything having to do with individual student grades, so a lot of my administrivia has to be done by me. She comes to me to ask how I would do certain projects for others, as she knows I have been in AA jobs in the past. For that reason alone, she can make some copies for me -- because that is what she knows how to do.

For me this isn't a gender issue -- I really think the fact that I don't ask more of our AA is due to age/seniority, not gender. I've seen the members of our department/division (none of them philosophers) who give our AA a lot of their traditional secretarial work. They have been teaching forever -- and are about equally male and female. The faculty members spending their afternoons in the copy room making lots of copies are also about equally male and female.... and haven't been around for as long as others.

I've also been in teaching situations where making your own copies was a given. I suppose part of that was because i was an adjunct and thus low on the totem pole. I'm sure it will be no shock to you that one place said that they had clerical support for adjuncts and then made the process of getting copies so complex that it was easier to make them yourself.

I've also been in a grad department that had a 'copier number' scandal, in which one grad student used another's copier number to make a bunch of copies -- and thus leading the department to impose a strict, 'no copies for grad students' policy. I'm not sure that hasn't changed, but it has lead me to mail two copies of every paper to my grad department rather than send file-attachments which would be printed and copied down there.

I do find it amusing that copies and other kinds of clerical work can get academics all riled up like nothing else.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Debate News:

Ok... one more post and I WILL get off my ass...

The debate tournament I help run has just passed a measure that would make it possible for worthy but challenged debaters to tell their story and be eligible to compete in our naitonal tournament. This is a measure that will only impact a limited number of teams -- but it is an important measure.

Why this is really cool -- Think about that really smart student who has a terrible event happen during your semester with them... say, a parent dies, they get really sick or something equally tragic. Now, imagine that student is also a good debater whose goal is to compete at the most challenging naitonal tournament. Their tragic event would prevent them from competing because competition requires travel and preparation... and they have no time for that during the tragedy.

Our measure would allow that student an their partner to make a special application, tell their story and explain their short competitive season and possibly be able to compete.

Our measure would also assist teams who don't have enough tournaments to qualify due to economic/geograpical restrictions. Since most of debate costs are in travel, enough money can solve geographic issues... This provision would allow teams with these sorts of challenges to possibly qualify. If they do great at the small number of local tournaments they can get to, but can't afford the transportation and hotel costs other teams can... they can tell their story and possibly compete.

I'm quite proud of us for passing this... the basic problem with college debate is that the well-funded teams can afford to be competitive because they attend so many more tournaments. Non-well funded teams in concentrated areas can go to tournaments without paying hotel bills etc... and some well-funded teams are also in tournament-rich areas, so they can afford to do the most. No other national debate organization has done something like this... yea us!

Playing around, planning and genreally being lazy...

My playing around phase started last night with "The Devil Wears Prada" -- lots of fun. Merryl Streep is amaziing in the movie, really evil --- so evil I almost loved her.

The movie was also fun in a freaky way, as it gave me some flashbacks to my time with the hair people... (my main job while we lived in Omaha was with a beauty supply distributor... I took orders and then moved to managing education). My job brought me into the world of the 'hair show'. If you've seen the movie, imagine Streep as a hair stylist and you get the general picture ---Image and trend setting is everything... getting the "cute" model is key to success etc... When Sara Jessica Parker in Sex and the City got a new haircut and color when Carrie went to work at Vogue, I'd seen an even had that cut/color a few years prior...

We went to the late movie, so I justified going back to bed this morning... a nice thing I'll miss in the Fall.

I'm also finishing my syllabi for the fall. They are nearly done and I'm pretty happy with them. I think they'll let me get some dissertation work done, do the debate travel I need to do and the visit hubby travel I want to do.

I've also plotted out the hubby-visit weekends... it looks like we'll get to spend about every third weekend together this fall -- maybe a bit more often if we are lucky and/or lonely... The flights work out well for me to get down and back in time for classes, so it is quite possible that I'll be doing most of the travel.... although, he'll get to missing LTF and the cats, so I'd guess he'll come up a few times. He also gets a fall break -- which makes me insanely jealous (not really -- but, a bit green with envy since ours is one day, a Friday --- so a day I don't teach..) so he'll be up that week as well.

Hubby and I have been summoned to Omaha on August 5th (his first official day to be there is August 15, my family stuff is August 11 & 12 - this week earlier than needed stuff is kind of stupid... but, one doesn't say no to the people who give free housing...) -- The good news is that we'll have some down time during the week, so I'll be able to get a good haircut and color before school starts -- YEA! We'll also be going down the same time as Rex and Bex move to Lincoln -- so I'm sure we'll go down and help them unload the truck and get settled. All and all, a bit more time than I'd like to spend down there, but it will be ok.

In other news...
Update: The vote to preserve privacy on the discussion board passed 21/14 -- YEA!

Coming soon: A list of good things about hubby being in Omaha... to keep my spirits up....

OK --- enough of the STTNG repeats -- time to get to work in the DC on the final versions of my syllabi. I should also be a good girl and do my reading for our assessment project today and not wait until Sunday like last week...

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Your favorite syllabus points?

I recently realized that this will be my 7th year teaching, four at the same school. My all-purpose syllabus is about 5 pages, as every semester it grows with my pet peeves.

In reality, my biggest pet peeve are students who don't bother to read the damm thing in the first place. I decided last semester to give them a take-home quiz on my top 10 most important points. It was a much better semester -- which makes me realize that most of my students don't want to be bozo jackasses, they do it out of ignorance rather than malice...

Removing the old favorites like, (more or less) 'I'll remove your ability to bear children if you cheat' kind of statements -- my favorites are about the following -- paraphrased to be what I really think... not the leagalistic language of a syllabus :).

--- Minimum/Maximum grade --- "minimum grade" if you work really hard in my class, ask for help etc --- you won't fail. You'll get a D, but won't fail. I reward honest effort. "maximum grade", if you are an asshat who sleeps in class, is disrespectful, consistently late to class etc... no matter how good your graded work, you will get no more than a C.

--- Attend the whole class meeting -- leaving early is a sign of disrespect and is very disruptive to the flow of the class. Don't do it. If you can't stay for the whole class, don't come -- because I don't want you leaving in the middle. ---- Doctor's appointments should be made outside of class time, I do it and so can you. If your appointment is so important that you need to leave class early, you should make sure you are on time and take the class period off. Yes, it will count against your attendance -- no, I don't care.

--- If you can't handle discussing controversial topics, find another class. ----Don't go complaining to my dean that I had the nerve to have a pair of married lesbians into class to discuss same-sex marriage. They weren't there to offend your senisbilities, they were there to open your closed little minds -- and, by the way, one of those "horrible" lesbians would have been your classmate a couple of semesters ago -- and you probably would have gone to her for help with class material because she's f-ing smart... so there you hateful twit...

What are your favorites -- either that you encountered as a student or included in your own syllabus?

TV -- hubby's addicted to...

Last night I got hubby addicted to "Project Runway". I was watching, he was surfing the net or something and suddenly he's making prediction about who would win etc...

ha ha ----

last year he asked me how someone as smart as me could watch something so brainless... this year he's watching with me.

Also -- last night we spent a pretty large amount of money (for us... at least) on teaching clothes for hubby. He's going to look every bit like the young professor -- he now has plenty of khakis, dress shirts, ties, jackets and a good pair of comfortable shoes to start the year. He won't have comments like "he always wears the same clothes to school"*

I'm a bit sad that his first week of teaching will be in flat state and I can't be there. I'd love to be able to rub his feet and cook him comfort food -- I know how exhausting it can be.

* Funny/strange story: I taught one summer session at a snooty private school. The same sesssion I was teaching at 8:00, the adjunct teaching at 10:00 wore the same yellow pants and yellow shirt every day. My students' friends started to notice in the first week and they clued me in the second week. From then on, it became kind of a mean game to see what the poor guy was wearing... usually we'd take our break after he came in and a member of the class would see him and report back... without fail, he wore the same yellow pants and yellow shirt every day of the entire summer session.

I'm sure there was laundry involved at some points in the semester -- and I kind of felt bad because I know how little adjuncts get paid and that it is possible he could only afford one pair of quasi-dressy pants and shirt... on the other hand, he's a more or less standard size and goodwill has some decent alternatives for almost nothing.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Maintaining Anonymity -- or, the right to control...

So, I'm a participant on a threaded, moderated, discussion board.... yes debaters/coaches THAT one...

On this board we often have lively discussions complete with cantankerous disagreements etc.. Tempers flare, people get snotty - the whole bit. I often wonder why I contribute there at all and find my contribution rate down significantly in the last year or so because, frankly, a few people there are really nasty asshats that ruin it for the rest of us and I have better things to get irritated about.

Recently we've had a discussion and are currently having a vote about a new moderator policy that would, if requested by a contributer, change the use of a full given name to just a first name. The idea behind this would be to prevent those outside the community from being able to 'google' and read messages -- some of which are negative, don't represent the author's real/current positions or what have you.

The nasty asshats think this is an unacceptable restriction on free speech. Others think this is a policy that would act to minimally protect board posters from being found by google and somehow punished for what they say. Since the board also allows anonymous accounts, what the effect would be is to give a slightly larger sphere of control over your own name and internet image.

Personally, as a just-barely-anonymous blogger, I think their demand to be allowed to essentially out people is outrageous and shows their level of both ignorance and arrogance. The fact that this has become a controversy at all outrages me and gives me yet another reason to limit my contact with this bunch of jerks.... of course, that is my own opinion :).

Frankly, I'm really glad I haven't done any complaining about BNCC on THAT board, as my Academic VP found it a while back and probably read at least the most recent posts. I don't know that he still isn't reading.. although the sheer fact that he is uber-busy and really can't be all that interested in our in-group fights makes it unlikely.

If you are a debater on THAT board and haven't voted yet -- please do so, and vote in favor of the change. It is a small thing, but it could be important to some people --

If you are a pseudononomous blogger -- I could use a little encouragement and some new arguments.

A Nice day in the DC

We had a heck of a rainstorm this morning. This afternoon I thought the AC wasn't working because it wasn't running... it has been hot here for so long that I forgot the thing might go off because it wasn't needed...

Imagine my surprise when I opened the door and found it was 70 degrees! I immediately ran around opening all the windows, now I'm really going to get some reading done in the DC (dissertation chamber) -- The fan is brining cool air in (no AC in the DC :( ), the 'chick radio' is on, my new IKEA chair pads are nice and cushy on my tush and the dissrtation cat -- the other 'DC' is on his chair.... and all is well --

no excuses not to work... really, none --

here I go...

ummmm yea...

Clearly, it is goal time -- today I will read three articles on Jus post bellum and enter them into endnote. Then I will be done for the day.

Writing -- lost direction

So -- after putting 80-90 pages of paper out for comment and having no responses yet -- I'm feeling a bit lost as to where to go next. I should start another chapter, but I'm kind of lacking an idea and I'm having a hard time getting one going.

Yesterday I pulled a stack of articles out of the philosopher's index -- some of which are directly on my topic.. Today I sorted them out and categorized them. Now they are all sitting there waiting to be read-- sadly, they won't read themselves.

Part of the good news in all of this is that there seem to be only three articles on one of the more original portions of my dissertation. Maybe I'll read them this afternoon and write a short reaction to get things moving or, maybe I'll let the white cat who so politely sits on me while I blog keep me in this chair a while longer... she's old and thus successufl in her demands.

Just about right....

What Your Soul Really Looks Like

You are very passionate and quite temperamental. While you can be moody, you always crave comfort.

You are a grounded person, but you also leave room for imagination and dreams. You feet may be on the ground, but you're head is in the clouds.

You see yourself with pretty objective eyes. How you view yourself is almost exactly how other people view you.

Your near future is likely to be filled with great successes and accomplishments. You just need to figure out how to get there.

For you, falling in love is all about the adventure and uncertainty. You can only fall in love with someone who keeps you guessing.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Writing syllai and feeling guilty

I went to campus today to work - I had a meeting in the afternoon and I like to work in my office while I'm there... besides seeing Wise Woman safely back from her long trip out west, and getting an 'atta girl' from Dog Dad for not using my computer up north, I spent the day writing my syllabi for next year.

I have a kind of long process for writing them...

I start at the end of the previous semester. I make a table in Word with all the class days and holidays for the pattern of the class (i.e. MW or T/Th), leaving blank boxes for topics, assignments etc. I then print several copies and write in pencil what I think should be in those boxes. I adjust the length of time spent on particular units -- write down assessment techniques and generally pencil in the schedule, then I put it away to percolate.

While it is percolating I sometimes think of good ideas -- or, at least ideas that seem good at the time -- and write them on post-it notes and stick them to the charts. If I'm lucky and my blind kitty doesn't eat them, when I go to write the syllabus for real I'll srot them out and usually discard most of them.

Near the end of the percolation process I spend a day typing it up and making it look official I usually change a bunch of stuff from my first draft. Generally, I add assessments and activities. Today I deleted them.

I made a conscious decision to make my classes as hassle-free as possible due to my dissertation. I really need to maintain sufficient time to write this semester if Im going to be at all competitive in the flat-state job market come fall.

The problem is that my teachiing load at BNCC is such that I need to plan for 66 ethics students, 80 logic students and 6-8 debaters next year. When you realize that once you factor in travel time and other outside of class contact coaching one debater is the equivalent of teaching about 7 or 8 average students... that is a lot. It is even more when you realize that 16 of those ethics students are honors... better prepared but also reasonably expecting more feedback and professorial attention. Even in raw numbers 152 or so is fairly high (my highest was 250, I was new... and gullible). My total contact time is 20 hours per week (15 teaching, 5 office hours) in a 17 week semester. Of course, if my contact hours were all there was too it finishing the dissertation would be a breeze... but we ALL know that isn't the case, huh :).

As a result in Ethics I eliminated all quizzes from my regular section, cut out a paper and kept the low-grading option of group presentations, requiring everyone to do one. I have my honors students writing abstracts pass/fail instead of short papers and only the first drafts of their two longer papers are due during the semester.

In Logic I cut the number of quizzes by 6 and plan to revise the logical fallacy project so that the format is easier for me to grade. Generally, logic isn't hard to grade because it is objective -- did they do the problem correctly or not?? There is only one paper-like project and those are quick to read.

In my debate course I'm cutting the number of cases they have to turn-in during the semester and changing the way their textbook homework is accounted for (debaters reading, you'll have to wait to find out ;). I also changed the way I calculate the grade to use an idea I stole from a pal-- there are 5 distinct aspects of their performance I'll take into account. I set a minimum percentage for each, leaving 55% of their grade to assign themselves. I've never done it this way before.. I hope it will help them to be more self-motivated and that it will better reflect each individual's talents and strengths.

But, the thing is that while I'm doing this I'm feeling guilty. I'm revising so that my personal and professional life will be better, not because of any student-centered (I really HATE that term.. but can't avoid it) concerns. I'd guess that my students will like not having quizzes etc -- but that doesn't mean that they will actually learn more, they'll just be happy idiots when they are done. I could probably rationalize my way around it, but it doesn't change the truth of my selfish motives, thus the guilt.

I'm not at all worried about what my department thinks -- as both Wise Woman and Dog Dad have already voiced support for my plan. I'm not worried about my department chair, as she doesn't know my discipline at all and (to be honest) should be the last one to make such criticisms. I'm also not worried about my academic Dean, as she more or less encouraged me to do just this. My Academic VP loves the fact that I started the debate team, so we're on good terms and the president of the college used to TEACH ethics, so he's been there and done that.

No, it is me I'm worried about -- I worry that I'm cheating my students for my own game. I worry that I'm just beginning to justify cutting my workload more and more... and that I'll become the grumpy-ass professor lecturing from yellowed and dog-eared notes -- or their modern equivalent - recycled PowerPoints.

On the other hand, as some anonymous ASShat said to "Professor Bastard" maybe I should just get over myself already and get a life...

Play update

LTF made fish taccos --- and a really yummy corn cassarole. For dessert we had ice cream with warm blueberry sauce... double yummy.

Stalker girl was a bit more normal, although still odd and pretty quiet. She has two wonderful cats which provided some conversation prompts. One is a very friendly spazz of a male cat, an orange tabby -- the other a nice but aloof calicoish female. Neither seemed outright demented, which is a good sign for stalker girl.

After dinner we played Clue, Mille Bourne and Catopoly (a cat Monopoly game). LTF won Clue in a fast kill, I won the last two... beating Stalker girl in the end when hubby had to go to my highly developed property.

I found out that Stalker girl loooooves Lord of the Rings and Battlestar Gallactica --- not really my favorites, but hubby likes them so I've seen them as well.

In the end, I'd go again -- it was fun and not nearly as akward/creepy as it could have been. I also see how she might get the wrong idea about LTF -- for a girl as shy as she is, how he interacts with her could easily be seen by her as flirting. Also, he tends to respond when she gets brave enough to call and propose an activity... which means that he's showing some interest as well.

I'm going to have to talk to LTF about her -- as he could do worse than to end up with her... The real danger is that if he's not very careful he'll end up breaking her heart, which is something I'm sure he wouldn't want to do.

I've known LTF for 11 years and more than a few dysfunctional girlfriends. At least Stalker girl isn't bitchy like the one he pretty much had to move to break up with -- she didn't approve of him spending ANY time with me and hubby... probably because she knew we didn't like her and often pointed out that she and LTF weren't a good fit. She also isn't dysfunctional like the beautiful but f-ed up girls he dated before he dated the bitch.

It is time for bed -- tomorrow I have a meeting in the afternoon and I MUST spend time in the morning working on syllabi... or August will come and I'll be handing out photocopies of my scrawled notes in the first week of class... and that would be bad.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Homework done, time to play

Tonight we are going to hang with longtime friend and the girl who kind of stalks him.

We are going to her apartment to play games, LTF is going to cook dinner. We are brining the insulation against stalker girl.

The thing is that stalker girl is nice, very pleasant -- but doesn't say a whole lot.

She's got to be bright -- at least bright enough to graduate from a good law school. She just doesn't say much.... ever.

Of course, since LTF is a former debater -- the lack of talking/ lack of opinion makes him a bit nuts. On the other hand LTF is also a very nice guy and doesn't want to be rude to stalker girl, so he hangs out with her on occasion.

I have a feeling that I'll be doing some of this after hubby goes to Nebraska -- it could be a good diversion on occasion... I'll let you know how it goes.

Sometimes I feel more like one than this indicates...

You Are 28% Control Freak

You have achieved the perfect balance of control and letting go.
You tend to roll with whatever life brings, but you never get complacent.

Comedy / Theater, S.O.S.

It was about a billion degrees here, so what do we decide to do but go downtown for some theater... without AC.

The thing is, it was fun even though we were hot -- (small space + noisy AC = can't hear the actors... so, no AC = solution..)

The show was "S.O.S". The basic idea was the story of a dating service gone bonkers -- you get the date and then pay them to put you in a dangerous situaiton so you can fall in love. Lots and lots of fun. We'll go back for another show. It is hard to beat a 12.00 ticket to live entertainment.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

More family secrets...

Talked to Mom today... and learned another family secret about Dad's side of the family--

It seems that my Dad's father went back to eastern Europe after WWI to sell tractors and to be kind of an informal US spy or something... while he was there someone gave him a bag of diamonds to hold -- and then that someone got killed. Grandpa had the diamonds and didn't know where they belonged to -- and he aslo wasn't so sure he wasn't next -- so he came home.

When he got here, he sold the diamonds and made a run to represent Nebraska in Congress--- failed, then he founded the American Legion in Nebraska -- and put the rest of his diamond money in the stock market.... before the crash.

I'll always say that my family is an interesting bunch of self-starters, I'll never say they had good timing...

Friday, July 14, 2006

Home --- back to the AC, TV and the internet....

Yesterday at this time I was having afternoon tea in the solarium. It was a warmish day, so the tea was iced. We had cucumber sandwiches, scones and some sweet things. All very civilized. We'd spent the morning walking slowly down the shore, hubby skipping rocks and me trying to learn how to skip them (a boy thing, I've concluded).

After tea I took my book outside to sit in a red adorondac chair in the shade and read while worshiping the BIg Lake.

There is something magical about the Big Lake -- the special color blue it owns and merely rents to other bodies of water. The way the sky and lake blend at the horizon and the way my favorite of its shores are made up of smooth stones, pebbles and rocks of a variety of rusty reds, browns and grays. My fascination with the Big Lake goes way back.

As a 6 year-old I was rather well-traveled. I'd seen the Gulf of Mexico several times and understood the concept of salt water and not being able to see the other side of that kind of body of water. Dad had showed me maps, so I understood...
I grew up on a lake -- a smallish bay of a bigger lake conneccted by a channel to other bays. In my 6 year-old's mind, I defined "lake" as 'a non-river body of water you can operate a boat on and that you can see the other shore of' --- (even then I was being a philosopher, me and my precise defiintions...)... an 'ocean' is salty and you can't see the other side.

That was until I saw the Big Lake for the first time. The Big Lake is often called an inland sea -- and for good reason. Standing on the shore you expreience it as you do an ocean. A rather calm and very cold ocean. The Big Lake has tides and a smell and sounds of its own. Even on the hottest days, down by the Big Lake you can get cool.

I'm not sure if I love the Big Lake more in the summer or winter. Summer it is more accessible, but that is also when everyone else wants to love it too. In the winter it turns a steely-blue color and only freezes in the coldest of winters. It also has amazing storms which have a beauty all their own. In the winter the Big Lake is all mine --

We booked a couple of nights at the lodge in late December. We'll take a couple of TV and internet-less days up there... in a queen sized bed --- and then probably spend a couple of more nights in the area in a more modern and cushy hotel... I can't wait. We'll need it after our first semester separated.

Although I forgot to get photos of the amazing lodge dining room, I got some other good ones I'll post later.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

It's out and so are we...

Last night I sent my second area paper in ---- I'm sure it isn't perfect and it could be a simplistic piece of crap, but it is my simplistic piece of crap and it is done..... if all the papers I've sent to grad school are deemed acceptable, I'll be officially ABD in the fall. YEA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Frankly, I haven't been in a hurry to do write these papers until this summer so they can read at their leisure -- or, in the first two weeks of school ---

I also spent yesterday with my fun summer project committee -- we get along pretty well -- which is a pleasant surprise to me. My blind cat decided to chew on a piece of paper I needed during the meeting --- so telling a colleague that my cat ate his homework was the source of endless amusement.

And... yesterday Swear Jar decided to go to camp in Wyoming... that GOD we aren't going... two weeks living in the dorms at debate camp would make me crazy.... I happily did the paperwork, bought him an airline ticket and sent him on his merry way....

Today we are going to "America's North Coast" -- i.e. the North Shore of Lake Superior... and waaaaaay up the North Shore at that. The first couple of hours of the drive aren't that great, but after that it is a pretty drive and a great destination.

The thing is that we'll be out of internet range until Friday night. That is a looooong time for us. There is also no TV or phone in our room. It is an old-fashioned resort. We'll bring books and probably some boardgames or something... I'm debating about bringing my laptop. I'll probably do so, if only so I can dump my digital photos.

We'll be home for the next heatwave... aargh -- maybe I can convince hubby to stay up there for a while... we'd probably have to move to a hotel with internet :) -- we'll see. The problem is that my little plan would shoot down my plan to go counter to "up north" traffic if we don't come home until Sunday.

now -- time to fill-up the kitty vacation feeders, pack my bag and select my books for the week and go...

Monday, July 10, 2006

Writing -- in the home streach

I'm having to admit to myself that I can't pull an all-nighter and finish this paper tonight. It is now at a good place where all I really have to do tomorrow is to check the details and footnotes tomorrow and send it out. YEA!

I'd love to get it done by tomorrow at 3:00, so I can mail it from BNCC :)... although, I kind of doubt that will happen.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Writing -- at the coffee shop...

I'm in the last stage of my philosophy of language paper -- the hard part when I look at the whole thing to make sure it makes sense and suff... I find it hard to concentrate on that part at home, so I'm in the kind of cool coffee shop with the good food to do it... I only have until 8:00, as they close then... so I'd better get on it.

If I get it finished, I can go home to pet the new slipcovers in the living room -- and we'll go to a movie tonigh. It is time for a "chick flick" so we'll either see "The Breakup" or "The Devil Wears Prada"...

back to work -- I'm either in the place where everything looks good or the paper actually is pretty good... who knows. I do know it is significantly better than the last version, which could be sufficient for me to complete the f-ing requirement.... which really is all I want out of it anyway.

No more Smug for you...

if you don't own a TV but have high-speed internet at home...

Since I love TV, intellectual bubble gum -- lots of yummy flavors -- I've decided that if you don't have a TV, but have high-speed internet and use it a lot, you can't be smug about not having a TV.

The internet is just as much a 'boob tube' as a TV... look around the internet -- you'll see as much useless, non-intellectual crap as you'll get on cable any time.

This little rant was inspired by a guy on NPR this morning who is a soccer commentator who doesn't own a TV, but was keeping up with the World Cup on Yahoo. He was quite proud of not having a TV -- he doesn't get to be.

I'm going to eat breakfast and then clean up after last night :).... while watching HGTV.

A good way to spend Saturday night

Today started out pretty slow -- I slept late... then hubby went to longtime-friend's to play video games while I went shopping and anticipated coming home for a solitary night of putting on the new slipcovers and organizing the living room...

Except -- hubby and LTF came home right after me -- then Ms. B called saying she wanted to visit -- Ms. B was a debater of mine a couple of years ago and is headed to flat state to do grad work (same school as my MA & (sooner or later) PhD). While the boys played more video games, we had a good chat about her new apartment, the fears she has about moving with Rex -- just the usual stuff, nothing unusual --

and then LTF and hubby got the idea to go to Target to buy games.. They came home with CLUE, and we broke out the Mike's hard something and the Linney's berry beer (we know how to party around here ) and played three games... Ms. B won the first game, I won the next two...

Next came Sorry -- which got pretty cutthroat, but Ms. B won all three games in the end. A good night for us girls.

Now Ms. B is sobering up and they are playing a card game -- and laughing a lot.

Tomorrow hubby and I will go back to being serious academic-types. Tonight we are more like our students, hanging out, drinking a bit and playing games... not a bad way to spend Saturday night.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

more on Dr. Dad out of town for research

I started a comment in the thread below, but it was getting kind of long and would probably get more involved...

I suppose one of the things that bothers me is that Dr. Dad presents these kinds of things to Dr. Mom as done deals -- without much exploration of the alternatives and more or less without her consent about timing etc. Were she to make similar decisions leaving the kids at home in his care, he'd have a fit and hire a nanny in about 20 minutes.

I also think about the way in which hubby has adjusted his academic career for me -- he only applied to one grad school, the one near my family... it is a good thing he got in and that it is a top-tier program. On the other hand, I only applied to one as well, the one that was near where he was stationed in the Air Force. He's adjusted the plan for his dissertation so that it will take him less time to complete, and thus shorten the time we'll be doing the long distance thing... (one of us needs tenure, I'm not leaving BNCC until he's at least on the tenure track down there..).

On a broader level -- what bothers me is how the academy makes demands that require someone seeking tenure to either be single/no kids or sacrifice significant amounts of time with them to get tenure. Most older academics assume that men will make that kind of sacrifice when women won't/don't/can't, thus it is harder for them to get jobs. Along with the way adjuncts are treated, this shows that the Academy, while it preaches liberalism -- it does not practice what it preaches.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Stuff I learned from Mom...

A couple of family things I learned from mom today..

My ancestors were Huguenots -- thus the reason my great-great grandmother was very anti-Catholic. It seems that I am a direct discendant of the group that settled in central Ohio and is still there... hmmm.... Odd that I've taught at two Catholic universities and hubby will be at one in the fall. Things change in 400 years...

My father was a booze runner -- when he was 15. Starting when my dad was 15 and continuing for several years, my grandmother on my Dad's side ran an illegal saloon on Lake Okoboji, IA. Mom said that they had a cabin on the lake and would serve booze to the "wild crowd" that would come to the lake to party and be crazy.

At the time Iowa had laws against selling booze by the glass and liquor stores wouldn't sell them enough, so Dad would run over the border to Minnesota and bring it back for the business. He did this summers for quite a while --

Dad was a local cop when he died... again, things change...

Mother's Day in July

Mom and I are busy people... I had a vision of meeting her half-way between her house up north and mine in the city for lunch and a pedicure as a Mother's day present. I figured we'd do this the week after Mother's day -- yea, right...

So... finally, it comes to July --

We had lunch at a great place over on the river -- a river view and sharing of food -- mom ordered a sweet potato and avacado sandwich (sounds odd, tastes amazing...) I got a steak sandwich and we traded halves...

After lunch we went to the salon for pedicures. I have at least a couple per summer --- mom has never had one.

as we were getting our pedicures the bit of family history came up that we never seem to celebrate holidays on the actual holiday and this Mother's Day was no exception. It was nice, none-the-less.

Work/home balance challenges

What do you think about this situation.....

I have a realative on the tenure track whose discipline seems to require a decent amount of travel for research purposes.... I say "seems" because this person isn't in my discipline and he lived in Europe doing research for his dissertation....

This person, now that he's Dr. Daddy, has two daughters. His oldest is 5, the younger one is 2. His wife does not work outwside the home. You can bet your ass she works inside the home -- a lot -- and is trying to start a small business doing photography in their home.

Dr. Mom (she isn't a PhD, an MA from Cambridge isn't bad --- and she earned the PhD along with her hubby... so I'll call her Dr. Mom.) has lived overseas three times with Dr. Dad. She currently lives quite a way from family who can help her with her small children -- although she's smart and makes friends easily so she has built yet another network of friends in her new location. Although she's doing well now, living abroad for a trailing spouse isn't a great deal and she had some pretty big challenges handling it...

This is the same person who can't manage to travel with Dr. Mom and the kids to wherever they go... he usually has some reason to catch up to them -- thus, avoiding travel with young kids... gag....

To add to the picture, Dr. Dad told hubby almost five years ago that he shouldn't take my needs into account when choosing grad schools (I was in a pretty significant life crisis at the time... we were at my sister's funeral... hubby was considering school close to mom and other family... ). His exact quote was, "don't worry about her (me) go to the best school you can get into."

I just found out that Dr. Dad is spending this summer abroad. It makes me mad.

I can't imagine leaving the country for a long period of time when your kids are 2 and 5. It wouldn't surprise me if he's going to be out of town when the older one starts school in the fall....

Granted, I'm not in his field so I don't know that his research couldn't be done via other sources --- and he's been on the track for three or four years -- so I'm sure he has book pressures etc... but it occurs to me that if Dr. Mom were the PhD, he wouldn't tolerate her leaving for the summer to go to Europe, nor would she consider going. I guess that he'd justify it to her and himself by saying that he's doing it for the family etc... and I guess the kids won't be that much older next year -- it just seems a bit selfish to me... but, maybe I'm wrong and too protective of Dr. Mom.

On the other hand, I figured out a while back a couple of things... since hubby and Dr. Dad have an unspoken competition...

1) Hubby's final degree is better in his field than Dr. Dad's is in his (very different... but relative rankings of grad programs)
2) Hubby has the inside track on a tenure track job before finishing his PhD..
3) Hubby didn't have to go on the market at all, the track to the tenure track job called HIM.
4) Hubby's TtTT school is ranked above Dr. Dad's.... they are actually similar schools, so the comparisons hold well there...

and hubby did that while also managing to make decisions that were and are good for me and my extended family.. hmmmm

take that Dr. Dad...

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

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And our students wonder why it is important to write well.... would you buy a product from someone who can't even write a 5 line message? It seems to me that "excellent written skills" should be a requirement for any spammer job...

Our 4th of July

After as much as we could handle of the Law and Order marathon on Cable,

and after a trip to MGM liquour,

and after a trip to the grocery store for snacks,

and after dinner at Applebees or salads and our favoirte spinach dip,

we watched fireworks...

not the big show downtown with the crowds and the parking hassle

a small show put on by a small suburb
neighbors gathered by the ballpark
an older Latino couple the first ones there
claiming the hill by the powerline
camp chairs and blankets set-up to face the golf course
saving space for those who had to work late

young kids playing tag in the fading light
teenagers with sparklers and music
not too cool for fireworks, yet
all gathered to end their 4th of July weekend

couples cuddled under blankets --- it was kind of chilly-- really
hubby and I playing cards until we couldn't see (I won..)

then the fireworks

some innovative,
some old favorites
bursting colors
in the night sky
between the high capacity power lines
appropriate ooohs and ahhhs
and occasional applause
rising into the night

Finally, the Grand Finale
we could see, smell and feel the booms
explosions of light and sound
a rare display of pride in our northern state

When it was over,
we packed up our stuff in the dark
sat in traffic to get out of the parkinglot
and headed home into the night.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

4th of July in Slater, IA

No -- we didn't go to the motherland for the 4th, but the 4th is always connected to Slater, IA for me...

My mother grew up in Slater, a smallish town between Ames and Des Moines. Slater doesn't have much, not even its own high school these days... but Slater has a park perfect for a 4th of July carnival and a pool perfect for a swim on a hot Iowa afternoon. Slater has a Main Streett he perfect lenght for a 4th of July parade complete with politicians in convertables, firetrucks, and tractors from the John Deere dealership in town -- all throw the mandatory candy. That is, if you pick the right year to celebrate the 4th of July.

Among all the other things Slater has, it also has a neighbor -- Huxley -- where the 4th of July gets celebrated "the other years". Kelly, IA, like the poor relation at Christmas doesn't get a 4th of July at all -- they have to go to Slater.

Later today I'll find and copy a description of a Slater 4th written by my Grandfather's cousin -- an author of books about the prairie.... for now I'll give you some of my memories of a Slater 4th of July... they may not be exactly 4th of July memories, but they are of Iowa in the summer....

Food... early tomatoes and the first BLTs and berries -- lots of berries... on ice cream, straight off the bush into the cereal bowl... One time my sister and cousin went out to pick berries for their ice cream after dark... they put the berries straight onto the ice cream and ate at least part of the sundae before coming inside... they idly wondered what was crunchy about vanilla ice cream and raspberries. They were about 9 -- when they wondered to the rest of the family, we realized they had to have eaten some of the black bugs found on every raspberry bush.

My Grandparent's house -- (it has since burned down, but I refuse to remember that...) A big white victorian in the middle of town --kitty corner from the Lutheran Church. The house had a huge front porch and an amazing balcony. I inhereted my allergies from Grandma, so she and grandpa had window air conditioners that ran all summer... so the whirr and gurgle of those monstorous units is the background to my image of the gold/brown carpet, large dining room and huge kitchen.... my grandpa's Lazy-boy in the TV room and the 'staircase of terror' by which we hazed the younger cousins....

Fireflies -- we never saw them at home -- we lived too far north or something -- but they were thick in Iowa in July. Of course, we'd have to catch them in the warm, soft Iowa night air -- we'd put them in jars with airholes in the lids and some grass and leaves. Of course they'd die by morning. Something so wonderful as a firefly couldn't survive in the light of day.

Fireworks -- of course, with the 4th come the fireworks--- about dusk we'd all tromp to the edge of town and settle in the school yard and around the Dairy Twist (small town Dairy Queen). We'd sit on blankets and doze on eachother's shoulders, sleepy from a day of games, parades, swimming and running all over Slater. Finally, the show would begin -- and we'd each recall how one of our uncles taught us how to properly oooh and awww --- reserving the combo of ohh-ahhhh for the finale. At the end of the show, when we were SURE the finale was really over, we'd slowly walk back to Grandma's house in the cool but humid night air and crawl into our sleepingbags on the livingroom floor... careful to leave a path for Grandpa's early morning routine.

My cousins -- Every summer, at least once, we'd all get together and wreak some havoc.... I'm the oldest, then there's Emily, my sister Pam, Emily's brother Eric, Chris, his twin brothers Nick and John, and Oliver and his sister Martha bringing up the rear of the cousin parade.... nine of us total -- Oliver and Martha were pretty young when we had our last cousin parties-- but we'd always come up with something new and fun to do... or, at least most of the time. I distinctly remember waking up one summer morning, I was about 14, Pam and Em were 11, Eric 8, Chris 7 Nick and John5 --- with ALL of them staring at me... kind of creepy. Their explanation - they were so bored that watching me sleep was entertainment...

Now Emily, Eric and Nick are married with Kids -- Pam has died, Chris is a Shakespearean actor in NYC and Memphis (don't ask... I don't know) John is managing a restaurant in Memphis, Oliver just graduated from college and Martha is a summer intern in the entertainment business in LA... Martha always did know how to have a good time....

I don't miss my cousins on any other holiday but the 4th... on the 4th we were like a big band of siblings that got along great... that, I miss.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Writing -- update

Well, now I have a 10ish page paper and a 20ish page paper on about the same things... although the 10ish page paper is, more or less, what the 20ish paper lacks... Tomorrow I hope to be brave enough to put them together int one 25-30ish page paper.

This is a new way of doing revisions that I kind of like... make a list of what is missing, write it in a separate file and then integrate it into the old paper. We'll see if it actually works. What is kind of odd is that I wrote the original paper 4 or 5 years ago.... and my writing has changed a lot since then.

I'll have to do some revisions, as I changed my tests around a lot -- and thus the conclusions are a bit different. I can keep a lot of the expositoin sections on Lewis and ASL --- and use them to justify (Lewis) or test (ASL) the theory I'm developing.

I've also been able to incorporate two new authors into my framework -- and I have a couple more to go (yea J Stor). This will make it look both less like I'm just makng stuff up and that less like I only read one article for this paper. Both of which will help this be the last philosophy of language paper I have to write (knock on wood!).

If I can get the body of it put together before Mom gets here, I can save the changing of the citatations and all the other picky stuff for after she goes home... and put it in the mail before we go up north next week. I REALLY want to get it done so I don't have to think about it anymore. Frankly, I don't care if they read it now or later -- I just want to think I have my version done and can't change it..... otherwise, I'd futz with it all summer and not get anywhere.

I have a feeling that I'll get some comments from Supervisor about my advancement paper in the next couple of weeks, which will give me something to go on for my dissertation progress. He told me he'd read it, and he generally keeps his word-- although, it is summer and I wouldn't fault him if he didn't... .I know the last thing I want to do during the summer is read student work -- of course, during the school year I'm so busy that I don't give him much to read--- at least, I haven't in the past --- I'd like this year to be different, sigh...

I've either got to stop typing or move to another location, as my fingers are getting that tingly sensation that tells me I've been typing in bad typing posture for too long...

good excuse to quit! besides, there is clean laundry to fold and probably something on the TV to watch while I do it...

ahhh the joys of summer!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Writing -- blogging for discipline... some more...

I took yesterday off, now I feel guilty, so guilty that I slept in -- something I NEVER do -- and have lazed around until now. As I type, I have a smallish pile of articles on the coffee table, a "Kathy Griffin my life on the D list" marathon on Bravo and no motivation to work on my paper on dialects and languages....

Hubby went to longtime-friend's (I've got to get a better name for him..) to play video games. The AC is humming and the cats are all snoozing... I should be able to work.

Today my mission is to read the articles to find the following:

1) A philosophical conception of the term "identity".
2) A philosoplical definition of a "language"
3) Support for the idea that indeterminacy is ok
4) Objections to Lewis -- probably on the application of convention to languages...

I think it is in the 100 or so pages of philosophy (printed from J Stor... YEA J Stor research at home).

i would also like to point out that, thanks to J Stor and other excellent on-line sources, it is much easier to do research now than it was when I was doing my grad classes... At least two or three times per paper I'd have to make an extra trip to Lincoln from Omaha (120 miles round trip) to spend the afternoon in the library pulling and photocopying articles. Hubby doesn't have to do this stuff -- it is either in BN state U's on-line database, or -- at the worst, he takes the stuff to the copy center in the basement of the library, he goes to lunch and comes back to pay for his copies and take them home... no guessing that the copy card has enough on it --- not getting all the article on the copy etc...

ok, enough procrastination on the blog--- to work -- for tonight we eat sushi...