Thursday, August 31, 2006

Hubby is home :)

Hubby is home for the long weekend.

He had some good flight mojo and came in earlier than planned. Now he's napping in our bed, probably with a cat or two.

Tonight we'll go shopping and to dinner. Tomorrow night Brain will come over for dinner. During the day tomorrow I'll probably talk him into going to the BN state fair. They have the best cheese curds EVER -- and I hear they have deep-fried chocolate chip cookies... wow. They said on the radio today that the llamas would be there, and I LOVE llamas.... so we'll go for a while and then come home for a shower and a nap.

We both have work to do this weekend. I have prep, grading and papers to write. He has lectures to work on and some dissertation things to do. It is nice that we'll do them together.

No more Apprentice for us...

I tried to post a link and it didn't work...

We are currently outraged -- Trump fired Caroline Keptchner from both the show and his company....

Hubby and I are big Caroline fans --- and this won't be tolerated.... not even to watch huge egos get pricked when they lose a challenge.

Caroline had a great sense of humor, lots of grace and more than enough common sense. She made Trump look good, and he canned her. Not just from the show either, but from the company.

He's keeping George Ross in the company --

the worst thing is that he's replacing Caroline and George with his kids -- who aren't at all adequate judges of character and can't have the business sense that his actual advisors have had.

I used to defend Trump, mostly because I figured he did something right in hiring Caroline in the first place -- and was doing something right in keeping her. Now he isn't doing anything right.... and I'm not going to watch his show.

Of butter cows and kitty porn

the extra-toed cat and the clean sheets --- as requested.

and the butter cow from the Iowa State fair, because everyone should see the butter cow once in their lives.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Tempted to send hubby Kitty Porn

I was changing the sheets just now, since hubby comes home tomorrow :).

Because hubby isn't tempted by real porn, I thought about sending him something that would be tempting...

a picture of the extra-toed cat lying on the clean sheets on our bed --

but it would be too mean...

he'll have to wait to see it for himself.

Reading for Pleasure Wednesday -- "Family Baggage"

"Family Baggage" by Monica McInrney is a fun book about a family run travel agency in Australia. The agency specializes in TV theme tours and the story begins when a member of the family failing to meet a tour in England. From there, some people find out the truth about the family and others fall in love.

This is a fun book, certainly not an intellectual challenge or a great novel, but a nicely engaging look at a family who cares about one another. Like most books it has its slow points and unrealistic aspects... One of the unrealistic bits is how the family flies so easily -- given the state of airtravel now, casually hopping on flights here and there without thoughts about luggage, airport secruity and the like.

If you see it at Border's on the 'buy two get one free' sale, get it -- but don't pay full price :).

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Details... people... details -- one more time...

My phone number situation isn't any better -- of course.

It also seems that my Spring 07 schedule request got lost. In a way, it worked to my advantage... but, it still infuriates me.

Last March I missed 4 days of classes to take the debate team to two national tournaments... and, of course, that is when they decided to send around the first draft of the schedule. Since we are a small department, it wasn't a huge deal that I'd miss the entire period the schedule was out -- mostly because the person below me in seniority is very flexible and fair... so, when I got back I picked my classes, had him pick a new one to supplement for one I'd taken from him, and sent my request to my Dean's office.

(where it must have been lost... )

Then, AFTER finals week, we had about a week to proof the 2nd draft of the schedule. Of course, that week was when I was in Colorado.... and I was never left a copy of the schedule... of course, since my Dean's assistant is very good, I trusted that my changes would be on the schedule and all was find.

It wasn't... my Spring 07 schedule is the same as my Spring 06 schedule. I found this out last week.

When they gave us from Thursday afternoon to Monday at NOON to make any final changes.

Of course, it was pretty much too late -- so I got stuck with what I didn't want to teach. Of course, my chair didn't seem to give a crap -- and since the schedule print date was earlier last week -- she's probably been the source of delays all along... and it never happened like this with other chairs... and nobody else has changed.

It means I'll have a total of 6 preps this year. The good news about that is that entitles me to an extra credit -- which, along with the way they count the debate class and my debate release time, allows me to teach only TWO philosophy classes in the spring.

I'd feel bad about this, but the fact of the matter is that I didn't engineer this and I wouldn't have the extra credit if they hadn't messed up the schedule in the first place. When the nosy nellies come to my Dean to complain about my schedule, she'll have to explain the fact that I didn't want to teach intro to Philosophy next semester-- and that the fact that her office messed up allowed me to reach my contractual number of credits while teaching those classes.

Counting, and not counting

I count the things before hubby comes home....

One more 'wake-up' before the day he comes home.

Two more mornings with the bed to myself.

Two more nights with nobody stealing my pillow or warming up my side of the sheets.

Four more classes to teach.

80 quizzes to give and grade.

One more debate coaching session.

One trip to the grocery store for yummy stuff from the butcher.

One bunch of laundry to wash.

One apartment to spiff up.

One more full day.... and two partial days.

and when all of the above are over and done, he'll be home. and then I stop counting -- because I don't want to count the days until he goes back to Red State and I can't count the laughter and the fun we'll have. I won't count the silent moments when we are both working on stuff in the DC. I can't count the number of times the blind kitty will yowl at hubby... nor can I quantify how loud he'll be when he realizes hubby is home and I can't count how much the oldest kitty will shed...

and a couple of weeks after he's gone -- after I've done some more counting -- I'll go see him in Red State.

Sooner or later it will be Red State school's fall break and he'll be home for a week. Even though I'll have to teach, it will be nice to have him here.

Idiots in my building

I'm going to have an irregular series of reports about the dorks in our apartment building.

For example, the dork that drives a huge pick-up truck and parks next to my spot in the garage is the topic of today's report.

Over the weekend he hit the wall of the garage hard enough to cause a crack from floor to ceiling and to knock down some of the cement ceiling tiles above his space... on my side. Why he was in such a hurry is a mystery to me. I suspect that he was backing-up when he did it, as he's one of the ones that backs into their parking space.

I found this out when I had a short chat with the guy building the wall they put up to reinforce the ceiling. The way our building works, that will be a permanent feature.

I hope they revoke his parking spot.

Thank goodness I took hubby's parking spot, so my car has a safe place to live on the other end of the garage.

One more wake-up

Only one more wake-up until the day my honey comes home....

For those of you stuck with the usual calendar, that would be the day after tomorrow... or, Thursday :).

The blind kitty will finally win his long game of blind-cat's bluff.

The extra-toed kitty will have someone new to startle him.

The oldest kitty in the world (almost) will have someone else to shed on and then to ignore.

I'll have someone to help me feed oldest kitty.

It will be good!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Home from Red State

I've concluded that it is better to drive than to fly to Red State while making a connection.

If I can't fly directly, I'll drive.

I was able to come and go on time, because I got lucky with stand-bys both ways. Had UAL had their way, I'd have been home about 2:30 AM -- as my 10:00 PM flight was delayed until 1:00 AM...

Driving, I could leave hubby's at 2:00 PM and be home by 8:00 PM.


I decided that I have two homes -- one here and one in Red State. I don't see the one in Red State very often, but it is still one of my homes. Until it comes time to pack up and leave, it works pretty well.

To call hubby from BN state I don't have to dial an area code. His cell phone is a local call.

I find myself putting on Law and Order X (Elevator Inspection Unit, Traffic Enforcement Unit, Toll Booth Cops... whatever) just so it sounds like hubby is around. He admitted that he's put on home shows to do the same.

As I sit in the livingroom, I can pretend he's at his desk just around the corner.

When we chat in the morning as hubby is on the way to school, I can pretend he's driving to school in BN state, not Red State.

It is harder to pretend at night and on the weekends... but if I work in the DC I can pretend he's working elsewhere.

Hubby will be home on Thursday for the long holiday weekend -- the cats miss him, the blind one thinks it is some bizarre game of blind-cat's bluff, and hubby misses his own bed.

When he's here, we'll pretend he's least until Monday evening.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

YEA El Camino

A Good neighbor, El Camino Community College
took over Comption CC, when Comption lost their accredidation.

The story caught my eye in Inside Higher Ed, because BNCC competes against El Camino CC for national community college debate awards... we hardly ever get to actually debate other CC's, but they do calulaitons to determine rankings -- and ECCC is usually up there.

Way to be stand-up people! We'll see you at nationals :).

Friday, August 25, 2006

Twin Towers, the movie

Hubby and I went to see 9-11 today. I knew I didn't want to see it without him, and I was right.

As a movie, it was amazing. Hubby said it well when he commented on the problem of telling a story we all know and if you are of age to see and understand the movie, you also experienced the day in some way. The thing is, Oliver Stone really does build suspense into the movie, and he does it well.

It was interesting seeing the movie in Red State, because we lived here on 9-11-01. While one of my favorite bloggers, jo(e) said it much better than I, I too had intense memories of that day while watching the movie.

As they were getting up and ready for work, I recall waking pretty early in my Red State apartment. I puttered around a while, quietly, eating some breakfast and petting a cat or two. Realizing I had a bunch of grading to do, I sat on the couch, put the papers on the coffee table and turned on the TV. I saw a clearly disoriented morning show in progress, they were saying that a plane had hit one of the towers at the World Trade Center. A wobbly camera was showing one tower with a huge gash across its upper foors. The newscasters were trying to make sense of it, as were we all. Then the second plane hit, while the camera was facing the towers.

As I saw the world change before my eyes, I decided it was time to wake up hubby. When he realized the magnitude of what I was telling him, we crawled into bed and watched it on the small bedroom TV.... we really couldn't bear to move to the livingroom 10 feet away. We watched there in the semi-dark until the first tower fell.

Shortly after the second tower fell, we began to get phone calls. Calls from friends and family, checking in to see if everyone was ok. As the horror unfolded on our TVs, we reached out to those whom we love to make sure they were ok, to make sure that nobody we love was in NYC for business or pleasure that day. We were lucky to have no suspense in our clan -- everyone was accounted for and nobody was in the area. These days things would be much more intense, as there are two sweet couples in our family who live and work in Manhattan.

Slowly, as the enormity of the situation unfolded friends began to come over. We turned on the TVs to different stations and used our two computers to keep us up on internet news. We ate, drank soda and talked about the implications. We took comfort in having close friends around us and we were glad to act as surrogate families for those who were far from their own parents and siblings.

As a group, we held our breath while President Bush came from Louisianna to Red State and the safety of a very secure bunker. When Air Force One lifted off, as shown by a video camera on local news, we were all a bit relieved that if someone had plans to kill him, he wasn't going to die here. We also watched on the news as local reporters showed our old neighborhood in base housing under tight security. The gates were closed and manned by guys with machine guns. We'd moved out only the month before. Hubby was still technically in the military, as he was on terminal leave --- he wouldn't be fully out until 9-14.

After a while, the news became a bit overwhelming.... we turned down the sound and opened the patio doors. That was when we noticed the silence.... the enormous silence of no flights overhead, very few cars on the road and people hunkering down to see what happens next. The silence of a quiet city is something peculiar, it is like everyone is holding their collective breath until they see what happens. Even though the flights are back in the air, I'm not sure we've let our breath out yet.

As the sun set on a new world, began preparing for class in the morning. Clearly, we would have to talk about the Twin Towers, and I wanted to give my students a good ethics of warfare lesson so that they could understand not only that the attacks were wrong, but exactly why they were wrong. It was a pretty big task for a young adjunct philosophy teacher, but I didn't know enough to realize how big.

For the next few days we waited nervously for word that the military would put a stop on people leaving the military. We knew that if hubby were caught in that decision, there was a good chance he'd have to go fight someplace and wouldn't get to keep his computer job. On the evening of 9-14-01, we realized that he made it out and wouldn't have to go back in. For that we were very grateful... he'd done his time in the military and it was time to move on. In retrospect, we saw that the fact that the Pentagon got hit ment that we had less to worry about than we'd realized, as the Pentago would have to issue the order and it had been evacuated.

At the end Twin Towers, I decided that my dissertation work was too important not to do. Writing about the ethics of warfare is hard work, but it is something so central to the way our lives ought to be lived that it is important that I make my contribution.

RFP Wednesday (on Friday...)

Sorry this is late...

I'd like to highly recommend "Anonmous Lawyer" by Jeremy Blachman.

Imagine reading the blog of the most cynical and possibly evil lawyer you know. Give him a quick wit, great writing abilities and a black heart -- and an anonomous blog.

It is funny and I hope it isn't an accurate picture of how large law firms work. I have plenty of lawyer friends and know quite a few law students. All should read this for the entertainment value alone. It made both hubby and I laugh out loud at the outrageous things he pulls/blogs about. My blog buddies should read it because it is made-up entirely of blog posts and e-mails.

Go get it --

Teaching Revelation from hubby...

"Teaching takes a lot of energy"... hubby, Fall 06.


He was amazed that teaching for an hour was so tiring.... That is something that that I tried to tell him, but he didn't get... nobody does until they do it. Especially the first week of class can be that way.

A few years ago he figured out that grad school wasn't like being an undergrad and really understood for himself what I'd been stressing about for half the time we lived in Red State.

Now he gets the feeling of teaching -- and is amazed at what I do... two classes per day, 30 minute break between and coach debate two nights a week... I have to say that coaching debate, the classroom part of it, isn't as energy intensive as teaching. Still, he was impressed that I taught 7:45-10:45 before going to the airport to see him...

It seems that I'm a pioneer in hubby's world.

Friends in flight

I have the most amazing conversations with people when I fly alone.... especially when there is drama in the system. I'd like to remember these people, and send my thanks into the internets for their interactions with me yesterday... I hope you all made it to where you were going....

They go pretty much in this order:
Girl from Brazille: I admire you for being so adventuresome to go all the way to BN state on your own. Asking a complete stranger for advise on what to do when your flight is messed up is, to us, a brave act. I'm glad your trip was planned to have plenty of time in DC to make your connection, because you'll need it -- and I could see in your face you really wanted to be home. Going out is good, coming home is often even better. I wish you good luck -- because as I write you should still be in the air.

To Retired Computer guy: Thanks for the amazing conversation about teaching. I love the fact that you said your most influential classes were the logic class I teach and the political science classes hubby teaches. I also admire the fact that, in your soul, you are a researcher. You dig back, tracing the intellectual roots of ideas and read the stuff cited in books. Talking to you was fun and informative. I hope that when I get to be your age I can also have your sunny attitude and inquisitive nature. When I get my dissertation finished, if I've included your idea about a duty to have an end-point for the war... or a definition of 'success', I'll have to credit you somehow -- but I don't know your name....

To the NJ nursing student trying to get to Edmonton: Canada will still be there when you get there! Have fun with your friends and I hope you have a safe flight. I'm sad I only got to sit with you a few minutes -- your friends are lucky to have you come all that way to see them. Have a great weekend!

To the healthcare exec from Red State: I hope you run your company with as much care and thought as you put into our short conversation about philosophy. Your perceptions of people are pretty amazing and your work in Africa sounds as if it is a morally good thing, even if it is difficult to overcome cultural challenges. Keep talking to the ethicists at your hospitals. They'll keep you inspired to help those who need it. If my specialty was health care ethics, I'd have asked for your business card -- you are someone I would be happy to work for. I was glad to see you get stand-by on my flight into Red State. I'm sure your family missed you and was delighted to have you back.

To the woman from Alaska: It is very sweet that you came all the way from Alaska to Red State to see your mom. Even if she seems like she doesnt' appreciate it, I'm sure she does deep in her heart. Going shopping to buy a new purse and carry-on bag is a great idea -- kind of like listening to your own husband when he told you the only things you can carry on have to be in a plastic zip-lock bag wasn't such a good idea. Did he think you were going to London? Welcome to Red State, I hope you enjoy your time here.

A day of flights and fondue

The short story is that I made it to Red State and hubby survived his first day of school.... losing his 'teaching virginity' wasn't easy or stress-free, but he probably didn't freak them out either.

The miracle of the day was that I made it here on time... there was a thunderstorm in Chicago yesterday morning, thus there was complete chaos for United Airlines all day.

When I got to the airport, my flight was ok, but the previous two flights to Chicago hadn't left yet -- and should have. That smelled like trouble to me.... for good reason. About five minutes before my flight to Chicago was to begin boarding, we didn't have an aircraft and the gate agents were looking tense.... then, they announced a delay of about two hours.

I immediately did some quick math and realized that if I stuck with this flight, I'd miss my connection to Red State and things would get I grabbed my stuff and went down the hall to where the previous flights were boarding over 3 hours late... after going around the line, some amazingly nice gate agent understood exactly what I was doing and put me stand-by on the flight that was supposed to take off three hours before - and, I was off. At EXACTLY the time I was supposed to leave, on a different flight number..

In Chicago the previous flight was listed as delayed 3 hours and mine wasn't on the board at all. I knew I was on a small plane, operated by a regional carrier, so I started heading for the other end of O'hare.... which, by the way, is a LONG walk... (for those familiar, I went from the end of the C concourse to about E14). Thank goodness I had my rolling briefcase, or I would have been shedding student files and important dissertation stuff all the way.

Eventually I made it to the gate area for the little jets--- and, miracle of miracles, they listed my flight as on-time.... although they ended up cancelling the one that was delayed. It actually left about on time and arrived in Red State on time as well.

After a stop at the house and a quick shower (I smelled like travel... ick) we went out for a late night of fondue at the Melting Pot-- to celebrate my visit and hubby's first day of teaching.

On Sunday I'll dive back into the madness, hoping to make the last flight back into BN state... again via Chicago. For now, hubby and I are haning out in Red State.... which I have now declared my other home.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Good luck sweetie!!

Today marks hubby's first day teaching his own class. He's been a TA and has coached debate with other people... but this is the first day he's going to be responsible for shaping young minds.

Since hubby reads my blog -- and I can't reliably connect with him until later in the day --- here are some words of wisdom from the teaching trenches... Feel free to add your own advise in the comments.

-- Make sure you are on campus early, then relax as much as you can.

-- You know more than they do. They may think they know more than you, but they are wrong... just like you were wrong when you thought that you knew more than your profs :)...

-- If you respect them, they'll generally treat you well. Assume they are maturing adults and treat them accordingly, the ones that don't deserve that respect will show their true selves soon enough. That is when you bring the hammer down.... not before.

--- If your classroom gets rowdy, that's a good thing. Let them talk, but keep control. An engaged class is a happy class. Find ways to alter the grop size and have some fun. College is serious, but that doesn't mean that it has to be serious ALL the time.

-- There is a reason they hired you. In particular, there is a reason they made you a good enough deal to move from the northern paradise to Red State, away from me, the cats and your router :). You are qualified and you are good enough to deserve this.

And above all, treat it like a debate round and "don't suck"*

I love you and I hope you have a good class. I'll see you tonight!

the philosophy queen...
* This was infamous advise hubby got from his first debate coach. We picked it up and have been giving it long after she's on to doing other things...

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

A nice note from my dean...

Today I came into my office and found my tenure portfolio on my desk with a nice note from my dean. I'm happy I have it back in case I need some of the materials for my applications in Red State.

My Dean is very sweet and I wish she'd move to Red State with me....sigh.

Tomorrow... after today

Since Wednesdays are late, as are Mondays, I generally don't go in early. If it were my choice, I wouldn't do it today either -- but, we have the 'involvement fair'....

Let me tell you about that -- it isn't a bad idea, generally -- but for me it is a waste of time.

I've sat at the debate table for four of these things now, and I've only recruited one debater as a result --- and he was Crazy Guy. That isn't to say that I didn't enjoy working with Crazy Guy, but the amount of time I've spent at the table is will now equal the time Crazy Guy spent in actual competition....

When tring to recruit for a high-committment activity like debate -- the only really effective way is interpersonal nagging..... getting some student who only wants to get to the free hamburgers isn't the way to do it.

Perhaps this year I'll leave my flyers on the table and scoot out of there.... if only I have the nerve to actually do it.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Day after Tomorrow...

When I was a kid, if I could phrase the time in terms of "today" and "tomorrow", it didn't seem to be so far away... a little while later I learned that "the day after tomorrow" also wasn't so long away either.

Finally, I can say that I'll see hubby "the day after tomorrow".

Red State never looked so good!

First day, so far so good...

Yesterday was my first day of classes.... and they went pretty well.

The logic students laughed at my jokes and one commented that it was nice to have an instructor with "personality" -- I hope I didn't scare them too much, but the class is really hard and they need to know that at the start. I'm also UBER bored with the first day stuff, so I go out of my way to have more "personality"-- whatever that means....

My Ethics students are kind of quiet. We'll do a lot of "stand up, stand there while you answer questions" kinds of stuff in class. The class is from 4:00-5:15 twice per week. Most of them come from work --while I'm generally getting my logic students at the end of their school day (2;15-3:30), I'm getting these students at the start of theirs (4:00-5:15), as they'll generally also take a night class that starts at 6:00. These folks usually work during the day, thus get up early to be finished working and in class by 4:00. I used to do almost exactly what they are doing -- and it was hard. Thank goodness this material is rather engating later in the semester..

My debate team is going to be a fun group. Swear Jar and Herbie are my returning debaters. They aren't exactly getting along after camp, so they won't be parters. I'll probably put Swear Jar with Pizza Girl (not sure on these nicknames yet... but she manages a pizza place) and I'll put Herbie with the Golfer.

That leaves me with a problem, tho -- the other two are dating. Dating and debating are generally a bad idea.... although, I'm not so sure it is a bad idea in this case. He's pretty laid back-- one of those bright kids without a fire lit under him. She's kind of quiet but very sharp and motivated. I'm thinking that he'll do his best work if she's his motivation.... and she knows what she's getting into. I'll have a talk with them about the perils of dating and debating and see what they think. I could put them with Herbie and Golfer, but I kind of think they'd be better and more competitive together...

So -- that is the start of my year... I'll meet the rest of my students today, I have a 7:45 class (aargh... sounded like a great idea last fall when we planned this fall.... not so good now!) and a 9:30 class -- and some office hours and then I'm home for the afternoon to work on dissertation stuff! I swear!!! no naps (or, maybe a short one... ).

Monday, August 21, 2006

First day of school fun...

First phone call of the day, (interrupts me playing with my new PowerPoint remote...)

Me: :Philosophy, this is (me)"
Student: "hi, can you find me an open section of Math _____".
Me: "Umm, I teach philosophy, you need to call records and registration" -- I'm thinking, dumbass... but, whatever...
Student: puzzled.. "this isn't records and registration?"
Me: "nope, sorry"

Later -- looking in the student planner -- I see the number for Records and Registration listed... as MY PHONE NUMBER.

No wonder these kids can't proofread papers, the people who work here can't publish a simple and accurate phone list for the college.

Now I'm going to have to change my phone number... and my business cards are 98% out of date... the only correct thing remaining is my NAME!

secret message to hubby: I'm not answering the phone in my office until they fix this! Call my cell :).

Have a good first day... I'm all set to begin a new year in the Philosophy Factory...

Dreams are odd things...

Lately, when I dream about my sister who has died, I dream that we are fighting about something. Last night we were fighting over a wooden bowl full of milk. Just before I woke up, we'd been tugging on it and spilled the milk on ourselves. I woke when my parents buzzed from the front door.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Offical Excuse to read blogs or write a short post...

So -- when an overworked philosopher, whose classes start tomorrow and who isn't ready for said classes is sitting in her favorite, but not close to home coffee shop, and she hears a song she and her long-distance hubby have dedicated to one another, how does she avoid gettiing teary eyed?

Of course, she starts to read blogs that make her laugh... or write a blog post of her very own.

damm sappy songs -- they are bad for productivity

now, back to work -

The Semester by the numbers...50, 80, 6

50 ethics students (2 classes)
80 logic students (2 classes)
6 debaters (1 class)

136 students -- much better than my first semester at BNCC when I had 250.

Some semesters it pays to know how to work the system.

Mom and the first day of school...

For the first time since I was about 16 my mom will be around on the first day of school...

She called just now and will be stopping by on the way home from Corn state with step-dad. Thank goodness the apartment is pretty neat and I cleaned out the fridge yesterday. She's also brining tomatoes from grandpa's garden, YEA!

Cookie, Cookie, Cookie!

You Are Cookie Monster

Misunderstood as a primal monster, you're a true hedonist with a huge sweet tooth.

You are usually feeling: Hungry. Cookies are preferred, but you'll eat anything if cookies aren't around.

You are famous for: Your slightly crazy eyes and usual way of speaking

How you life your life: In the moment. "Me want COOKIE!"

Saturday, August 19, 2006

So--- I couldn't wait...

Tonight I decided I was going to Red State next weekend and planned to drive.... I'm too lonseome and so is he... for a while I even thought about brining the cat, but the cat wouldn't appreciate it.

While on IM with hubby, he confessed to winning some money at poker, so now I'm flying.... yea hubby's poker skills... of course, he doesn't get the benefit of me bringing the bread knife and spaghetti pot down for him -- but he does get me... fresh off of a United Airlines Flight... like old times.

This was much easier and cheaper the first time we did it --- and my step-dad was paying :).

No matter, I'll see hubby on Thursday. YEA!

I have a boatload of work to do before then -- class prep for a couple of weeks, a paper to write... and I'll bring another with me... but, I'll be doing it with hubby around to distract me.

Call from the FBI

So - I'm checking my voice mail at BNCC... something I haven't done since May... and the only message of concern was from a guy who said he was from the FBI.

FBI guy said he wanted to do a background check on a student who graduated from BNCC in 2004. I didn't recall the student, but since I've had a lot of students at BNCC, I was thinking that the student listed me as a reference without telling me. FBI guy also wanted to know a few other instructors that could give a reference for this student.

Since I didn't know the student, I thought it would be best to refer this person to the Dean of Students. She can look at the student's record and see if there were any nasty notes etc... So I looked up the number for the Dean of Students and called him back.

The weird thing was that when I called FBI guy back, the message said, "you've reached the office of (first name, last name), please leave a message" -- nothing on the outgoing message about being in the FBI.

Now I'm super supsicious -- because you'd think that the FBI would have better investigative techniques than to call a random philosophy prof (in the summer... no less) and leave a message. Wouldn't it be standard practice to go to records and registration first?

FBI guy was probably a stalker or bill collector...

Old Debaters.... the first year at BNCC

I was wandering around Facebook (yea, I have an account, it helps me communicate with my debaters and other students.. so sue me)... and I came across the Facebook page for a debater from two years ago... before I started blogging.

Our first full year with a team (we started in Spring of 04...), our team was the following:
Mr. Democrat, NASCAR Girl, Crazy Guy, Mr. Wilson, D1, Rex, and Moonshadow.

I've written recently about the last three... D1 is on scholarship this year, last I heard from Moonshadow, she wanted me to send her to debate camp so she could not debate for me another year and Rex moved to Red State with Bex (awwww, a debate romance, how sweet).

I'm not sure, but I think Mr. Wilson is still at BNCC -- he's not debating, but I saw him around last semester. Last I knew Mr. Democrat and Crazy Guy were at the Big University --- where Crazy Guy is hoping to run into Mr. Democrat... maybe so he can pick a fight and beat him up --- (secret message to Mr. Democrat, if you see Crazy Guy, go the other way...).

The debater I'm thinking about this morning is NASCAR Girl. NASCAR Girl is one of those fun, smart and sassy students you love to have in class. She generally does her homework and usually has a very perceptive question to ask. She came to my team via my Ethics class. She'd say I nagged her until she tried debate, I'd say that I invited her several times to try debate and she finally saw the light of my reason... either way, she joined the team in the fall semester of 04.

NASCAR Girl is a girl with a goal. Last I checked with her, she wanted to go to medical school. She worked at a nursing home and was our walking first-aid station when we were on the road. She selected her four-year school by looking at their med-school placement statistics, then she went about getting the scholarships to pay for it. I'm sure she's going to be a fantastic doctor.

NASCAR Girl is from a pretty rural area just north of the metro area. Her high school wasn't good, so she participated in a program that allows high school students to take college classes and that forces their high school to pay for tuition and books... D2 was in the same program, different high school. Funny, they are two of my favorite debaters... hmmmm.

It was by having NASCAR Girl on my team that I learned of the petty nature of BNstate High School speech. Their state high school extra-curricular governing body has a rule that says that if you have participated or represented a college in ANY way, then you can't do anything at your high school. When she started debating, NASCAR Girl wasn't a very good debater -- she had potential and she tried really hard, but she wasn't a natural talent by any means. She went to ONE tournament with us in the fall semester in Red State (at what would become hubby's school) and someone reported her to the BNstate high school league. It had been her plan to do debate with us for fall and then to do her last year of eligibility in high school speech (where she may have been state champ..) but someone reported her... while I felt terrible for not knowing the rule.. I considered their actions to be beneficial to me, because I got to keep her :).

NASCAR Girl's major mistake in debate was dating Mr. Democrat -- let me tell you, it was a lot of fun when they broke up.... and it was even more fun when her nationals partner, Mr. Wilson, decided he had a thing for her.... add to the fact that she took Rex to her prom --- while Rex was dating Bex, and you'd think she was some kind of tart -- but she isn't. What she is, is a sweet, open and funny girl. She's really the kind of girl every guy wants to bring home to mom....

I miss you NSASCAR Girl -- and I send my wishes of good luck and great success out into the internet for you to grab when you need them.

Friday, August 18, 2006

on how I can fly without fluids...

When I was last in Red State I laid in a supply of all the basic bathroom items, so I could literally walk on the plane with nothing and be right at home in Red State. Since I didn't duplicate make-up I'll be bare faced, but I'll smell good and my hair won't be freaky -- I also left some clothes down there so (much to hubby's dismay) I won't have to be naked while doing my laundry. I really, really, really don't need to wear a gel bra -- so no worries on that front either :).

What is kind of freaking me out is the fact that I bought my Red State supplies a few days before the TSA figured out that someone could mix some hair gel and lip gloss to make a bomb. You'd think I knew what was going on... hmmm.

Little Miss Sunshine

I skipped school this afternoon and went to the movies -- well, to be more precise I left about 30 minues early... but, it felt like skipping.

If you want to know when the old folks see movies (and, I'm sure you are dying to know that...) -- the answer is that they go in the afternoon. The AARP-set is nice to go to movies with. They don't talk, they laugh in the right places and they don't get up to buy snacks every 10 minutes -- probably because getting up and down the steps in the dark risks breaking something..

Anyway -- the movie, "Little Miss Sunshine" was really good. There is plenty in the movie that will make you smile, laugh and think about your own family dysfunction. All the characters are nicely developed, quirky and engaging. At the center of the movie is a little girl who has worked hard and is excited about the pagent... and who is more brave than most adults I know.

I'm not sure I can do it justice here -- but, when the suicidal "most prominent Proust scholar in the U.S." and the kid who doesn't talk turn out to be the normal ones in the family and the end of the movie makes strong statements about beauty pagents, feminine beauty and the value of the family -- it can't be a bad movie.

Go see it... you'll be glad you did.

Some people shop on-line...

To cheer themselves up, some people buy stuff on-line...

I buy airline tickets....

the pathetic part is that I don't buy them to fun places, I buy them to Red State.

On an airline that could go on strike....

Blog buddies -- we should start our own college

I read a bunch of blogs on a regular basis. It seems that a college comprised only of the people behind the blogs I read would be a really cool place to work. Of course, then we'd all have to get new super-secret blogs so we could complain about one another... but just based on the blogs I read all the time we'd have an amazing (and large) English department, a nice array of science and math courses, a small but mighty political science department, and a few philosophers and other miscenlaneous academics thrown in. We'd also have a kick-ass debate team and more than a few good coaches.

To top it all off, with a little patience we'd have some good lawyers to protect us from lawsuits...

Anybody read the blogs of a really rich guy or some religous affiliation that doesn't have enough colleges??? We need a sponsor!

One more duty day...

We have one more duty day to go... and I'm going to give myself permission to skip all but what is required.... ha. I justify that permission by telling myself the stuff I'm skipping would, if I attended, ruin the innovation inspired yesterday like a cold shower ruins the hot and bothered.

This morning I'm skipping the union meeting. I find them tedious and since I'm paying my dues I should expect them to stand up for me if necessary -- I don't have to go see them posture (this is my leas-favorite aspect of BNCC... sigh, but it does get me my most favorite paycheck, ever!!).

I have to go to the club advisor's lunch -- but, since Dog Dad is an unofficial advisor to an unofficial but very functional club, he'll come with me and it will be ok.

I don't have to go to whatever they have planned in the afternoon -- so I'm not going. I may even sneak out early and go to a movie or something (honey, you didn't read the last part --- and it would be a movie you wouldn't want to go to anyway...).

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Right place, wrong place....

I'm sure I'll complain later, but I have to say that I am really enjoying BNCC this week. A new person said to me yesterday, "BNCC has a great vibe" -- and she's right.

Today was day 2 of 3 duty days... it was significantly less soul-sucking than in prior years.

We started the day with a piano prelude on our new babygrand piano.

Our college president gave the keynote, which really was good. It is so nice to have a former philosophy teacher as the college president -- in some ways it makes me want to be a college president... but then I get over it. He talked about how the profession of teaching is an essential service to human beings, in that we are assisting the quest for knowledge. It was nice, with the appropriate funny bits -- and he ended with poetry.

Next one of our English faculty read some of her own poetry (which I'm not sure I understood... but, it was interesting...) and we broke into a wide variety of break-out sessions that ran until lunch.

After lunch one of our faculty groups presented "The Laramie Project" for the rest of the faculty. They were simply amazing. They've been working on it all summer and really did well with it --(without the help of the Drama person)...

At the end of the day, we ate ice cream in a somber mood and went on our way home.

In many ways I know I'm in the right place to work. My department is really nice, we get along and are open to helping eachother. My division is lively and good natured, and we manage to live on the hall without fights and battles over territory. My dean has great attention to detail and is a very compassionate manager. If, in 20 years, my debaters have as much grace, wit, smarts and charm as my current Academic VP, I'll be proud of them. I've already sung the praises of my college president....

If BNCC were a small four-year school in Red State they'd have to pry me out of there.... sigh. I'd like to write a bit more and teach a bit less. I'd like BNCC to be about 400 miles south and/or west of here..... do you suppose they'd all move with me?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Secret notes to my administrative types...

This is my fourth set of duty days. They are generally the same.... Since I'm only a lowly faculty member who didn't want to go to the meetings to organize duty days, this is my only outlet..... It was pretty interesting to see that the worst duty days offenders were in the old-school category....

So -- my secret notes....

To the College President: I love that you read us poetry to start the year... I'm actually happy that you are our college president. Would you come with me if I get a job in Red State -- they could use you as the head guy in charge wherever I go.

To the Academic VP: Your debater roots are showing and I love it. For next year y'all need to invest in a remote microphone shut-off switch... really. I could see that it bothered you and I appreciate you trying to keep things on time. Thanks! Also, if you could manage a move to be my VP in Red State it would be much appreciated... we could all buy neat little houses near the school and become our own little commune --- think about it.... Hubby and I are good neighbors and we'd cat-sit for you when you went out of town.

To the disorganized woman: If you are on the agenda to introduce new employees, you don't get to make other announcements because you are too f-ing disorganized to request agenda time. If I recall, you did that last year and probably the year before... that is cheating.

To the long-winded pair: Your group got 10 minutes TOTAL, not 10-15 minutes EACH. We don't need to know every detail of every thing you are doing in order to see that you are doing your job... talk to eachother and prioritize before next year.

To Mr. Important long-winded guy: It is a good thing the people you need to deal with on a daily basis weren't in the auditorium... they'd decide that you can't tell time and thus shouldn't be trusted with the amount of money you control. I know your department can afford a stopwatch, please invest for next year.

To the others who went short and tried to get us back on time: You are my heros and I would think long and hard about breaking my no non-teaching or debate activity rule to help you out.

To those who put us behind -- as a group you are on my ignore list. Unless I am contractually obligated to help you out, you can count on me turning you down. I hold a grudge....

Theme for the day -- "'I'm a Survivor"

Today we have our "duty days" --- for one, they need a better and more descriptive name for these things...

In ethics the term "duty" is pretty vague, and pretty specific to the philosopher.... so -- here are my proposed new names for the days...

Call them, "days in which we bore you to tears with monotony and erase all the mental and physical relaxation you fought for over summer, just in time to start a new school year"days instead....

Call them, "spend the day in a cramped auditorium seat wishing for the freedom of the open road, even driving Iowa or South Dakota would be better than this" days instead...

Call them, "we can't tell time in our department and/or we think we are sooooo f-ing important that regular time limits don't apply to us, so we are all going to drag our presentations out to double the time limits and f- with the only bright spot of the day, 'lunch on your own' " days instead.....

Call them, "I should really consider a career in something interesting like being a toll-booth worker or the person who takes money at the State Fair, because they don't have to do "duty days" " days...

Call them, "I'm thinking about my syllabus, the writing I didn't get done and the other stuff in my office from last semester which I should be doing but instead I'm sitting here getting another lecture on how to call in sick" days...

Wish me luck -- this is my fourth round of duty days --- the Red State job market willing, it will be my last....

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Reading for Pleasure Wednesday -- "Stupid and Contagious"

Since I can't sleep and in about 50 minutes it will be Wednesday.... I'll write this now instead of later.

"Stupid and Contagious" by Caprice Crane was a lot of fun... a light romance told in 'he-said', 'she-said' alternating chapters. The characters are amusing and funny, if not particularly deep. There is a bit of tension when they meet and when it looks like she'll end up with someone else. There is also a dog and a few human side-kicks to keep things moving.

This was a nice bit of brain bubble gum and would have been a lot more entertaining if I were into indie rock -- so, if you're someone who is into that kind of music, grab it at Borders --- I found it on the "3 for the price of 2" sale. Sadly, many of the pop culture references were kind of lost on me -- that's what happens when you get married in 1990 to someone who loves the music of the 80s.... sigh.

Tired of being a Gen X'er

I'm a member of Gen X. Today, this has me in a cranky mood...

Dean Dad started a discussion on the grey ceiling, which is the problem of people in my generation facing a long road to promotion because their bosses are in no hurry to leave the company, thus there are no spots open....

In Academia, the problem is a glut of tenured professors of that age hanging out until they can no longer make it to class... I was fortunate to be hired at BNCC at a time of growth (Gen Y increased enrollment) and I'll start my first year as a tenured person this year --- of course, I'm also anticipating giving it all up for love--- to move to Red State, so this is still a concern of mine. Add to this concern the increase requirements for tenure for my generation as opposed to the older generation, and it is easy to see that we face a significant problem.

Generally, I'm tired of being in Gen X -- we are either cast as lazy and spoiled, or we are ignored. When we were in our teens and early twenties -- the whole world was focused on people in their thirties and forties... now we are getting there, and the whole world looks like an Ensure Commercial. Clearly, 50 is the new 30 -- just when we are becoming the current 30...

Drive around most neighborhoods looking for an apartment -- you'll see an attractive and well-maintained building and then realize it is either an assisted living or over 55 kind of place. Try to make a doctor's appointment (this was really bad when we were military) and the clinic is booked by Boomers!

On the other end, Boomer's kids -- Gen Y and the like -- dominate popular culture now... so there was never really a time when Gen X got to be influential and chic.... the Boomers hung on long enough to hand the reins of "cool" over to their spoiled little kids.

Monday, August 14, 2006

lots of my peeps are gone...

I realized today that lots of the people I saw last year on a daily or weekly basis are elsewhere....

Besides the obvious hubby in Red state.... (who shouldn't be discounted)

D1 is away on debate scholarship.
D2 is going to big school.
Rex and Bex moved to Red State.
The Russian is at big school.
Dog Mom has a tt job on the east coast.
Drama guy is also tting on the east coast.
Andyhockey is at big school and working.

8 people leaving in one summer is a lot...

Visit from D1 & D2

Two of my favorite debaters came over this afternoon -- we went to lunch and had a good long chat about debate, school and life. It was an excellent way to spend the afternoon.

This time last year D1 and D2 were debaters with some talent --- but they weren't necessarily a team. Pretty quick it became clear to hubby and I that D2 was going to be the person to work well with D1.... and a team was born.

Last year both D1 and D2 had some things to learn and sometimes they didn't exactly get along or work well with others. All along they were both nice boys who wanted to do well -- sometimes with a minimum amount of work -- but they still were inspired by competition. I told them that if they won a tournament I'd get a tattoo -- they came close twice and if things were fair in debate I'd have that tattoo... At the end of the year, they qualified for NPQRSDT nationals and did well at NPKQRST nationals.

There is something nice about hanging out with people you've travelled with over and over again--- saying things like "Iowa has the best restrooms" doesn't sound strange among us. When the question about where to go to lunch comes up, it isn't hard to find a consensus (unless you are with "Mr. Wilson") and there is just a level of trust and confidence in one another that can only be gained by the shared experiences of showing someone the ocean for the first time -- or checking into the scariest Econo-Lodge around.... one that makes you appreciate the Super 8 of the weekend before.

In the last year both D1 and D2 changed a lot -- for the better.

D1 now seems to have his stuff in a group and will leave on Friday with a full-scholarship. D1 was my first-ever debater, the one who instigated the team at BNCC and someone I've seen very regularly for the past three years -- even when his life was getting in the way of debate, we still kept a connection. D1 is like a bird who is really ready to leave the nest -- and I'm the momma bird who knows he needs to go and who will miss him around the nest. I'll see D1 on the debate circuit this year, debating against my little chicks --- he'll teach them a lot and I won't mind those losses much... D1's potential both in debate and in life is amazing -- and I'm going on record now as saying that if D1 wins a national title, I'll get that tattoo....

D2 has taken a lot of teasing about being the youngin with grace and good humor. In many ways he's the most mature of the bunch. Although D2 is ready to go to big school, and I know he'll do well there, I wish I had another year to coach him... more because I like him than because I think he has anything to learn. D1 would be a really good senior team member and would be a fantastic person to pass-on the values and attitudes I like to see a team possess. He's also excellent company in the van and has a lot of good music on his ipod -- always plus!

Of the debaters I've coached recently, these two will be the ones I miss the most. They are a great example of the potential of the students at BNCC and they are generally nice to be around.

Good luck boys -- come visit!

An Iowa family reunion

Before i could even check in, I'd been hugged by my Auntie from Florida. My Great Auntie was having a drink in the lobby bar area.... I knew she'd be there for a while, so I checked in and went to get hubby.

In one of the nicer hotels in Ames, IA we began the process of "Family Talk". Some families, like Jo(e)'s do actual activites when they get together, we talk. If talking were a sport, our family reunions would be tri-athalons. We on Friday evening with coctails at the Country Club... this isn't a high-falutin country club -- this is the clubhouse of a farming community's golf course... no glam here.. We talked until the little ones got cranky and the responsible parent had exhausted every way to entertain a 2-year old on a putting green (there are an amazing number of ways). The talk split into smaller groups during the day on Saturday, only to re-join for dinner on Saturday night and to wrap-up on Sunday morning for brunch.

The excuse for the reunion, like we really need an excuse, was Grandma's 90th birthday. Of course, Grandma's real birthday is in December --- but, she's healthy and I'm sure she'll make it. I'm not entirely sure Uncle J told her, as she was kind of confused by the birthday cards we brought with her. Next year we'll gather either in May or August for Grandpa and Grandma's 65th wedding anniversary, which is a good enough excuse.

We had a nearly complete reunion this time -- the only major player missing was Great Auntie's younger sister.... the one I'm named after. Shes' getting older and having a harder time getting out and getting around. She was missed, and those who had passed away were missed even more... Great Uncle J and my sister Pam were present and missed at the same time. Both loved these family things and thrived on Family Talk.

All the cousins were there, with a total of five young children... four brilliant little girls and one little boy who looooves girls!

Cousin E's daughter E is the eldest of her generation of cousins, she's 5 and starts kindergarten this year. Little E is a drama queen, for whom good things are "the best ever" and sad things are immense tragedy. Cousin E thinks she gets it from her father's side, I think she might have a touch of grandpa in her -- there is that streak in our family as well. Cousin E also has little C, who isn't going to stay in her sister's shadow for long. She's two and used to standing-up for herself.

The youngest great-grandchild is little A, she's three months old. Her mom, "Angie 1" and her dad, Cousin N, didn't get to hold her much all weekend. Little A is an easy baby who is sleeping thru the night.... I can really see that Cousin N married up when he married "Angie 1" -- good choice! She's a no-nonsense mom who realized early that her daughter was going to have to learn to sleep while normal houshold noise happens... as a result, little A can sleep in the middle of Family Talk.... good going Angie 1 and Cousin N.

In terms of adult news -- We have four new women in the Family ---- three aren't legally in the family, but brining a date to a family runion is nearly a sign of permanent attachment.... so, ladies -- watch out!

Cousin T has a new wife -- the only non-Anglo in the family. She's sweet, smart and very nice. He's become much more cool since moving to the big city -- but he's still the Iowa boy underneath. I am very proud of my family for welcoming D. Everyone wanted to talk to her -- and I could see that, while she was pretty overwhelmed, she felt comfortable and loved. I think that if she can handle the peace corps in Mongolia, she can handle the Family in Iowa! Both of them have new jobs at good schools in The City and a bright future! D -- I can see that you appreciate Cousin T for his quiet grace and strength -- the strength that can be gained only by growing up as a small person in farm country... where everyone is huge.

Uncle R has a new sweetie. Of course, it is pretty inconveninet for them that she lives in Red State (not far from Hubby...) and he lives in Vacation State. Family talk revealed that he's finding any excuse to come to the Midwest and she's trading trips to trade shows to get into Vacation State. They'll take a cruise together pretty soon and she seemed to really like the Family... she's a keeper! It is cute, because they went to high school together and he had a crush on her then... awww--- Uncle R has been separated for years and recently officially divorced. It has been a hard few years for Uncle R, he deserves to have a good time.

Cousin C has a new sweetie, "Angie 3" -- she's bright, raised in California but seems to be a New York girl at heart. Taking her to the Iowa State Fair was really fun! As an artist, she sees the world in a different way -- and having the heart of an artist and the mind of a scientist gives her the quirky point of view that will make our family see things in a new way. Secret message to Cousin C, "Angie 3" is a keeper! If you can't deal with a huge Family wedding, elope... they'll get over it! I'm really happy they plan to move to DC, we can go visit!

Cousin J also has a new sweetie, "Angie 2" -- Angie 2 is quiet and astute observer of Family ways. I'm sure there were better ways for her to spend a long weekend -- and that 24 hours of driving with Cousin N, Angie 1, Cousin C, Angie 3 and little A in a mini-van wasn't nearly as cool as her recent trip to Istanbul...but she handled it all with grace and charm. As we toured the fair, it was clear to me that she and Cousin J are in love and very into one another... and that Angie 2 wants to see the whole world!

Cousin O has finally finished college -- the family can stop worrying about him. He's got a good job working with a challenged population and, like the rest of us, won't ever get rich doing it... but he'll be happy and make a difference in the world, so it is hard to argue with his choices.

Cousin O's sister Little cousin M is a big girl now -- 19 and having a good time at Cheese U. She's finishing an internship in Hollywood and isn't sure she wants to go back. If Cousin M can figure that out in a summer, I think she's saved herself a lot of grief later on.

I noticed a new pattern in my family -- many of the married couples met in high school. Uncle J and Aunt R, Aunt S and Uncle R, Uncle R and J, Me and Hubby, Cousin E1 and D, Cousin E2 and S, Cousin N and "Angie 1". Oddly enough, Grandma and Grandpa met in college and all but one of their grandchildren and grandchildren's spouses have college degrees.

Overall, a good time was had. As Uncle R said, "We come together to eat, drink and divide up the vegetables. Then we go home."

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Coded message to hubby...

I just ate some of your Coldstone.

ha ha

and my car fits in your parking space...

you can't do anything about it.

Tips for the Iowa State Fair...

Take the shuttle to the remote parking lot. it will seem like you are way out in the boonies, but the bus driver knows where he's going.

See the butter cow (yes, a full-sized cow sculpted in butter) -- but don't stand in line to do so. If you walk down, you'll be able to see most of it around the heads of the people who stood in line.

Eat fried chees on a stick, and don't feel guilty about it.

Go to all the barns, especially the pig barn with the "largest boar" -- almost 1200 lbs this year. The thing has HUGE balls -- it is sick, but you need to see it.

Outside the sheep barn there is a stand selling lamb tacos. Don't miss the irony of that.

Pet the horses, listen to the rooster crow. Look at the prize winning apples and 4H projects. It is weird and fun -- all at the same time.

Make sure you get grilled corn, even though it costs $3.00 and you can make it at home for much less. It is worth the money.

And -- trust me, the Minnesota State Fair is better -- sorry.

Questions for my family...

All -- When will you EVER stop asking when my dissertation will be done? The answer is when I am good and f-ing ready...

Grandpa -- when will you realize that I know you've never actually read the copy of uber-cousin-in-law's dissertation he gave you to suck up, and if you don't stop telling me about it, you'll have it shoved up your 87 year-old ass.... just a warning old man. Just for the record, when hubby and I finish ours, we'll pay ANY amount of money and eat mac and cheese for a month so we can send you a bound copy of our dissertations -- which you'd better f-ing read, 'cuz there will be a quiz.

Most of you -- how hard is to understand when I tell you that after our little family weekend, hubby will go to Red state and I'll come home to BN state with brother-in-law. Don't you think making me explain it on the day we say goodbye for three weeks is a little mean.

Auntie -- I have a good idea that my next year isn't going to be as fun as being married -- and you are right that I'll probably get more work done... but I don't need to be reminded of it. Don't you realize that it isn't nice to make me weepy around everyone else?

Uncle who isn't exactly my uncle -- When will you realize that hubby went to grad school, not law school? For godness sakes, you can keep track of when he started well enough to ask how his first year as an attourney has been, why can't you get the fact that he's going for a PhD, not a JD?

To Angie2 and Angie3 (not their real names): please, please, please, will you marry my cousins?... they are both nice boys and I would really love to have you in the family. You are soooo welcome in our crazy clan -- and one of the best things about this weekend was getting to hang with you at the Iowa State Fair.

Brother-in-law -- do you know how sweet you really are? Taking me home, distracting me the whole way so I don't cry as we drive north from corn state -- away from hubby ---and then inviting me to dinner with your mom and brother so I don't have to spend tonight alone, the first night home?? I hope to God you find someone else besides my dead sister who can really appreciate you -- because you more than anybody deserves to have a nice life with a family of your own.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Last day in Nebraska, for a while...

I had a meeting with Supervisor today --- it has been a while since we met, and quite a while since we talked philosophy... like, when I took his class before we moved. It was nice to see him face to face, some things just don't go well in e-mail. I'm going to make a point of getting an appointment with him every visit when we'll both be in town (next planned visit to Red State he'll be at a conference... boo).

After a long, rambling, but oddly satisfying discussion hubby and I went over to see Bex and Rex in their new place. They moved down the same weekend as hubby -- so they were in some chaos, but it will be a cute place for them to live while she's in grad school. I think it is kind of odd that she and I will have graduate degrees from the same place, although in different disciplines. It is also kind of neat -- but neither of us is from Red State and we'll be tied to them forever -- hmmm.

We made Bex and her mom take a break from unpacking and come out to dinner with us for my favorite Indian food -- EVER. It was good, I have leftovers for breakfast!

As we were going around grad-town, we had to make a few jackass moves in the car. Hubby's theory is that our out of state plates will buy us some sympathy.... and I realized he's right, they don't know there are three degrees from this state in the car.

Scary flight stuff

Dr. and Mrs. Homeowner are scheduled to fly from NYC to Dubai tomorrow, I think... it could be today.

i hope things are ok for them -- this is a scary time to be flying and especially any overseas flights. NYC to Dubai is 13 hours -- I do hope they allow them to at least take a paperback or something.

On a practical note, longtime friend... from now on to be known as "Brain" is a smart person who drafted a good contract for hubby. Among the provisions are a requirement for 30 days notice before he'd have to leave the house.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Reading for Pleasure Wednesday -- "Metro Girl"

Metro Girlby Janet Evanovich was a lot more fun than my previous books, "Pledged" and "Class Action" --

I'm generally a fan of Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series -- the quasi-mysteries with the numbers in the titles. This isn't in that series, but it is kind of fun anyway. The basic idea for the book is that the man character, Barney, gets a phone call from her little brother who is in Florida and in trouble. In order to rescue him, she gets herself in a few interesting pickles and other assorted tight places. It gets a little tedious at the end -- but it was generally a fun read.

Barney's side-kicks are, like in the Plum serise, rather fun on their own merits. The main side-kick is NASCAR Guy, who (for the Plum fans) is a little like Ranger -- only with less mystery but the same amount of sex appeal. Evanovich's view of south Florida seems to be dead-on for me... of course, I like Carl Hiaasen's amazingly funny books about South Florida, and Evanvitch's characterizations are similar.

If you love New Jersey and the characters that go with it, you really need to read the Stephanie Plum series... -- Plum is a so-so bailbondsperson. She gets into a variety of situations bringing in people who skip bail. That part is only mildly interesting -- it is the people in Plum's personal life that are a lot of fun. Her family is really funny and the two men in her life are wonderful, and like a characature of the guys you'd like to hang with. This is a fun book and perfect brain-candy for the beginning of the school year... you can find them at used bookstores and on discount racks -- and they are worth it. It kind of helps to read them in order, but it isn't necessary by any means.

I do have to issue a "reading in bed with your spouse, while said spous is trying to sleep" alert -- there are parts of both "Metro Girl" and the Stephanie Plum series, that will probably make you laugh out loud. Doing so when you sweetie is about to go to sleep can disturb them and make them kind of grumpy. Even if you read the passage to them, they won't find it as funny as you do... you've been warned.

I got "Metro Girl" on a discount rack in hardcover at Border's, and the price was about right. I'm really picky about what I'll buy in hardcover because I don't generally go back to them and I read very quickly, so they go by too fast for the money :).

I'm now working on "Anonymous Lawyer" by Jeremy Blachman -- not sure what I think of it so far, but it is fun as it is written in blog post and e-mail style... hopefully I'll have it finished by next week, so more then --- if not, I'll do some of my summer reading.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Old Friends and new hair...

Today was all about me.... I got a new haircut and color in the morning from the best hairdresser in the world --- or at least one of the top 20 or so... really. She's a longtime pal and was very happy to hear that I'd be back on her client list due to hubby's job in Red State. I also got a pedicure and some miscelaneous waxing in the afternoon.

After dinner another old pal -- First Surrogate daughter, for lack of a better name, came over for a chat. She's now a law student -- after finishing an MA in another discipline. She's bright and quite sarcastic -- so a good time was had by all. I've missed both her and my hairstylist friend a lot, so being in Red State often enough to see them is a good thing. I'm starting to wonder if my visits will actually contain time for hubby--- I think I can work him in :).

Also ---- the grapevine tells me that the number of openings in Red State in my field is growing. I have to admit that is a huge motivator for me to get my stuff done. By the time I'll have to submit my apps, hubby will know about longer-term prospects down here. If I can manage to land one of those jobs, things will be nice! The last few days I've come to remember what I liked about living here -- and with both of our salaries in this cost of living, we should be able to manage pretty well.

Tomorrow will be another work day, as I have to get some stuff together for my meeting with Supervisor on Thursday. Hubby will start class prep tomorrow -- so by evening, we'll be ready for some good pub food -- and I know just where to go downtown to get it :) --- Thursday will be the best Indian food in the world... and Friday we go to Ames for family stuff.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

An odd but satisfying day...

Today was a bit odd...

Since we've lived in Red State before, everything is pretty familiar --but somethings have changed in the last four years. We keep noticing them as we go around town.... there is a new Target store here, a new Jamba Juice there -- a Pottery Barn and a Bonefish Grill over that a way... it is kind of odd, like when you realize your kid sister is an adult who can drive and have sex and stuff...

Hubby got the house lesson today, and (bless him) I was excused to go to my undergrad library to get some work done.... which I did. The place is dingy, kind of dark and under construction, but it is like my second home and I love it. I also get good work done there... probably a good vibe or something.

At the library I settled on a new topic --(anybody have insights into the Supreme Emergency Execption to non-combatant immunity in wartime they'd like to share... especially if you are a Kantian or virtue ethics person, speak up..... after a good library session we had dinner with some old friends at a good Italian place.

The friends are up on all the shopping news in town, and they told me that there is an Apple Store coming to Red State --- and that there is significant talk of an IKEA. With an Apple Store and an IKEA, I could live here again without much qualm.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring, probably hubby investigating his new office digs, me in another library working on the paper again. I'm going to make appointments tomorrow for hair, pedicure and waxing -- the general renovation necessary before school starts. Once those are scheduled I'll figure out when we are going to grad school town for Indian food, and if I want to go down there to get books on my own library card :).

Commuter hermit crabs...

I kind of feel like hubby and I are hermit crabs..... in that hermit crabs move into other animal's shells and live in them for a while. I'm the commuter hermit crab, because I come and go from the (shared... not perfect analogy, so sue me) shell, while hubby spends most of his time there.

I'm going to have to come up with a name for the homeowners... because I have a feeling they'll be part of my thoughts and thus part of my blog until June.

Let me tell you a little about the current situation -- maybe a nickname will come...

Hubby's job is to fill-in for Dr. Homeowner at hubby's undergrad school. Hubby was Dr. H's prize student, because hubby is good that way -- really good. Dr. H and Mrs. H are going to a country far away so Dr. H can be a consultant.... because Dr. H is savy in many ways that, it seems, foreign governments are willing to pay for. Dr. H needed someone, and not just anyone, to cover his classes... enter hubby.

After a long set of negotiations, hubby and the department came up with a deal -- the deal making part of it was housesitting for Dr. and Mrs. H. They own a nice, 80s style house in a great neighborhood here in Red State. They designed it themselves and really love their place. Of course, hubby being a housesitter they can trust is ideal.

Yesterday Dr. and Mrs. H had a party for their friends and relatives -- to say goodbye. We met the neighbors, had a really good time (perhaps too much wine punch... :) ) and got a bunch of odd looks -- looks that said, 'oh -- so you're the ones....' Once they started to talk to us, they saw that we weren't exactly the types to come in and start throwing wild parties that would clog up the streets and force them to call the cops -- (we're in our late 30s -- a wild party is playing clue with a Mike's hard lemonade...).

Today we will return the trailer, having unloaded it all into Dr. and Mrs. H's livingroom -- they leave on Tuesday and we'll get settled then... we'll also spend some time with Dr. and Mrs. H -- more to make them comfortable with us living in their home than anything.

I'm kind of hoping to get some work done betwen now and then, but I'm a bit doubtful of that until they get on the plane on Tuesday --

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Writing /Academic -- Nice try... but try again...

I got feedback on both my Metaphysics & Epistemology paper and my ethics paper in the last 24 hours. Great timing, no??

I see their reasoning to reject both papers and understand why they want me to do more work before I'll be ABD -- but I don't really like it.

In some ways I feel as if they passed me along in classes, then when I turn in a paper from that class for advancement purposes it is a piece of crap... I really wish they'd have told me these things when I turned in the paper the first f-ing time. That would have saved a lot of hassle and at least one cycle of readings.

I have a goal set for myself -- a new version of both papers in by late September, so they can be read and I can be advanced by November.

Frankly, with the M & E paper, I'm going to say whatever the f- they want me too... all I need is the pass. With the ethics paper, I'm actually making progress of a sort on my dissertation when I write/re-write or whatever the next version of this... so it isn't that bad. Both of the people I've had reading my stuff have been understanding and surprisingly responsive over the summer and I do know that they want me to produce a good product, it just seems to me that I'm being remediated or something...

and, of course, their timing could have been better -- oh well, it will give me something to do this week while hubby is setting up office etc... and I thought I'd have to pass the time with a face wax, pedicure and haircut/color... now I'll push them into one day and work on papers for the rest of them.

Not so bad...

Today wasn't great, but it wasn't too bad either.

We got up pretty early, finished loading the Jeep and hit the road. 6 hours later we were checked into the Hampton Inn in Red State and on the internet --- then we went to Target for some clothes for hubby, who didn't figure out that if he packed all his clothes but wouldn't have access to them for a couple of days, that he'd still need stuff for the next two days.... sigh.

Then we went to a party given by the people hubby is housesitting for here in Red State. Generally, the party was a good time... the homeowners had good friends, neighbors, co-workers and family down to say goodbye. They head out of the country on Tuesday and won't be back until June.

After the rest of the party went home, we unloaded the trailer into the livingroom. With the help of the homeowners and their family, it was a fast process. Tomorrow we'll go over for a chat -- and probably on Monday as well. The chats will make Mrs.homeowner feel better about leaving things in hubby's hands... a small price to pay for a no-rent place for hubby to stay while he's here.

We're on the way to Red State...

Today we'll be going to Red State ---- Hubby has the trailer all packed and, assuming it is still out there, he'll be taking a lot of nerdy political science stuff with him.

Never being one to pass up an opportunity to get something out of a deal -- I ended up buying a new photo printer yesterday, so I could print a bunch of my photos for hubby to take with him. We ended up with a pretty neat HP 7850 that makes great prints.... now, if only iphoto worked well... I may have to pay for an upgrade to the damm software--- ick.

I told hubby last night that I was planning to rearrange all the furniture while he was gone -- and he wouldn't have anything to say about it.... Hubby double-dog dared me to do a thing I saw on TV to the bathroom floor where a guy used river rock to cover-up ugly tile in the bathroom.... the basic idea is that he walks on a sisal rug and 'to create a spa-like atmosphere' he covered the places where he doesn't walk (behind the toilet, under the sink etc..) with river rock. I'm not sure I'll do the rock thing, only because it looks like a pain in the rear and with my luck the cats would see it as a new form of litterbox, then I'd have stinky rocks in my bathroom... yuck.

I'll be gone for about a week, but I also anticipate having internet access while we are down there.... The nice thing about my PowerBook, as compared to my previous PC laptops, is that she'll hook up with just about any network with a decent strength signal... I suppose that makes her a floozie, but I like her anyway :).

I'm taking my work with me, so I'll be busy while we are in Red State --- if I'm really lucky they'll have a football game soon and i can really mock them well -- getting excited about college football to the extent that they do in Red State is great fodder for my sarcastic point of view.

My to do list before I go...
1) Finish some class prep so I can take fewer books.
2) Print copies of papers I need to work on.
3) Pack computer bag and book bag(s).
4) Feed the cats and turn on NPR for them while we are gone... making the cats into good liberals is a goal of mine... right now they are pretty dammed libertarian -- a week of constant NPR should fix that.

Friday, August 04, 2006

One more day... updated...

Tomorrow hubby becomes LDH (to borrow a phrase from new kid.

Yesterday we fought with the photo printer to print some photos for hubby to take with him... and they still don't look as good as when we printed them from the PC... Next week I may chuck the f-ing thing that never really has worked right and get a new one that really WANTS to work with my mac...

Last night hubby went out to play poker with longtime friend (who needs a better name..), he came home having made some money. He offered me half, but what he doesn't know is that he's going to spend it all on a good dinner sooner or later in Red State --- probably someplace he doesn't like. That will be his price...

Last night Bex came over for a visit. She's also moving to Red State tomorrow to go to grad school. She and Rex are moving in together and she's in a good place about it. They've had all the good moving in together discussions -- -about money, habits and other stuff -- and I'm sure that is going to go well. She's starting grad school at my grad school, although in a very different department. If all goes well we'll both be PhDs from Red State U...

Today hubby packs up the Jeep and I pretend to be ok with it. I can't really be ok with it, yet, but I'll spend the day pretending that it is really ok that this great guy, whom i've lived with for 16 years, won't be here.

I feel like I'm being silly -- he isn't dead, we aren't divorced, he's only moving 5 hours away (the way I drive :) ). I know we'll talk a least every day, if not twice per day. I know we'll IM, play cribbage on Pogo and all of that -- he'll come up over Labor Day and I'll probably go down a couple of weeks after that. He'll be home for fall break etc... and if things go well, I'll be moving myself and the cats in the next couple of years.

But I'll still miss him. I'll miss him when I go to the grocery store and there are other couples there debating whether the recipie calls for cream of chicken or cream of mushroom, I'll miss him when I wake up in the middle of the night and I CAN turn on the light to read for a while before going back to sleep. I'll miss him as a cat feeding partner. I'll miss his laundry in the bathroom where he can't manage to hit the hamper. I'll miss him when I drive by his empty parking space in the garage. I'll miss him on debate trips and at debate meetings. I'll miss him when I'm in the DC... and I'm sure there are numerous ways I'll miss him that I haven't even considered yet.

For all my love of travel, I don't particularly like to do it without hubby -- and I've done the travel to see hubby thing before.... but, not since we've been married. It isn't like he's going to the other end of the earth, Red State is pretty 'different' (as in Minnesota 'different' -- i.e. weird in ways we don't care for) but we've lived there, so while it is strange-- it isn't unfamiliar.

I think I'll get used to it, and I'll try not to cry --- Sooner or later it will become routine, and I'm not sure if that will be a good thing or not.

Update ---
It wasn't all that bad -- a few moments, but otherwise just kind of dreary....

Tomorrow we drive to Red State, meet the family of the person hubby will be housesitting for etc... I suspect that once we are in motion, things won't be so bad. Next weekend we'll spend with a family thing in Iowa. I'll head home with family, he'll head back to Red state.

Thanks for the support --

Thursday, August 03, 2006

A song for debaters....

History --- Hubby and I make a game of re-writing songs to fit particular situations, people or organizations... as we listened to Shania Twain's "That Don't Impress Me Much", we thought that it applied...

Disclaimer -- for the debaters, especially those mentioned by name, it is all done in fun and if your feelings are hurt and/or you'd like me to delete your name for any reason, I'd be happy to do so. We intentionally picked people we knew could take a joke, that had excellent debate careers, good name recognition within the debate community and a good sense of humor. Above all, remeber that Hubby and I probably did vote for you once in a while, so you actually did impress us (or they screwed up :) )..

The song:

Sung to the tune of "That Don't Impress Me Much" --

I've known debaters who thought they were pretty smart
But you've got being right down to an art
You think you're a genius-you drive me up the wall
You're a regular original, a know-it-all
Oh-oo-oh, you think you're special
Oh-oo-oh, you think you're something else

Okay, so you’ve read Foucault
That don't impress me much
So you got the words but have you got the thoughts?
Don't get me wrong, yeah I think you're alright
But that won't get my ballot at the end of the night
That don't impress me much

I never knew a guy who carried a mirror in his pocket
And a comb up his sleeve-just in case
And all that extra hold gel in your hair oughtta lock it
'Cause Heaven forbid it should fall outta place

Oh-oo-oh, you think you're special
Oh-oo-oh, you think you're something else

Okay, so you're Jed Link
That don't impress me much
So you got the looks but have you got the touch?
Don't get me wrong, yeah I think you're alright
But that won't get my ballot at the end of the night
That don't impress me much

You're one of those guys who likes to do line-by-line
You have to shell T before you let a question in
I can't believe you kiss your flow good night
C'mon baby tell me-you must be jokin', right!

Oh-oo-oh, you think you're something special
Oh-oo-oh, you think you're something else

Okay, so you spin your pen
That don't impress me much
So you got the link but have you got the crush?
Don't get me wrong, yeah I think you're alright
But that won't get my ballot at the end of the night

That don't impress me much
You think you're good but have you got the touch?
Don't get me wrong, yeah I think you're alright
But that won't get my ballot in the long, boring, final round
That don't impress me much

Okay, so what do you think you're Perosky or something?
That don't impress me much!

Alright! Alright!

You're Owens!
Alan Tauber maybe.
Matt Contreras.
That don't impress me much!
You Are 36% Lady

You tend to make up your rules of etiquette, throwing all conventions aside.
And while you try to be a lady (sometimes), your behavior is often quite shocking.

Thanks to Dr. Brazen Hussy

Project Runway... spoiler alert!

Dear Project Runway Designers,

I've been watching the show, and I have some words of advise...

Bradley, it isn't the case that your project leader didn't like you because of your beard. Shaving all but your moustache will only make you look more freaky and less reliable. She was worried about you because you are a complete space-case... are you on something, or is that just the way you are? She saw you last challenge nearly not have an outfit to put on your model. Up until the last minute all you had was a pile of fabric and a confused look on your face. She didn't want her outfit to be sunk because you couldn't finish the pants on time.

Keith, dude -- you knew what you were doing was cheating, why do it? Your designs were beautiful, you didn't need the books. It was really sad to see your insecurities be your downfall. Don't be pissy with Kane because he saw the contraband and told on you.

Angela, you are f-ing lucky. Laura and the guy (dont' recall his name... sorry) saved your butt.... your last design was really terrible and you should have gone home instead of Katherine.

Kayne, you remind me of a debate coach pal of mine, so I'm cheeering for you.

Katherine, I thought your dress was really nice. You should see the pattern on reality TV, they don't like the people who are actually nice and don't cause trouble. Think about the way Angela stirs stuff up.... a nice girl from Minnesota has to be a real bitch to make it -- sorry.... you were just too nice.

A river dinner cruise

A while back hubby and I went to lunch at a nice restaurant on the river. While we were there, he told me that he'd never eaten on a boat. He said it while looking longingly at the paddleboats docked just down river from the restaurant. At that moment I recalled several times he wanted to go on dinner cruises (Washington DC, Duluth, MN and others..) and it clicked -- this was one of those, "I want to do ______ in my life" kinds of things.

Last night we had dinner on a boat. A big paddlewheeler... the food was so-so, but the scenery was great.

We boarded about 5:45, it was about 80 degrees and breezy. We found a table on the top deck near the AC compressors. At 6:15 on the nose we left the dock, made a couple of huge circles in the river and then went under the lift bridge on the up-stream part of our cruise.

Going under a lift-bridge is neat... especially one like this where they lift the actual road-bed up in one chunk, as opposed to breaking it in half and rotating the halves up to let the tall stuff go under.

Eventually they told us dinner was ready -- we ate chicken, prime rib and some overcooked baked potatoes (didn't think that was possible, but they were nearly liquid they were so mushy.. ick) while really pretty scenery passed by.

After the cruise, I want a smallish boat that can get us to campsites only accessible by boat. They were amazing -- I could see spending some serious relaxation time there.... reading a book, hanging out on our own little beach etc...

Hubby and I talked about getting a houseboat. His only requirement is that we have access to the internet. I suppose it is possible with the internet equivalent of a cell phone and, if we could afford a houseboat we could afford the internet as well... then we started to imagine living on a houseboat. We'd cruise the rivers, ending up in the south over the winter, as far north as we could get in the summer etc...

All was wonderful and peaceful in our imaginations until we imagined living on a houseboat with three cats. Even the nicest houseboat is stil smaller than our apartment -- and cats don't like motion OR water, so it isn't as if they'd be all tranquil and accepting of the move to the houseboat. We decided that a vacation place on the river would be a better idea.

As the sun fell in the sky, we made the turn and went downstream for a while. On the way up we saw the Minnesota side, on the way back the Wisconsin side -- not that there is much difference :).

Dusk settled onto the river as we docked. We came home, turned on the AC and went to bed.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Pirates --- so what?

Went to the 10:30 showing of Pirates... left at midnight. Didn't get what all the fuss was about and more or less didn't mind if Jack Sparrow died.

Perhaps we aren't the target demographic of this one?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Reading For Pleasure Wednesday -- "Pledged"

Tomorrow may be a bit crazy, so I'll write this on Tuesday instead...

"Pledged" by Alexandra Robbins is an undercover look at sororities. Robbins does a month by month review of a year in a sorority house by using some direct observation and via interviews of four members. She says she tried to get typical members and typical houses, and if she did, the system is terribly broken.

After an MTV program on sororities, the "National" offices of every sorority put every house on notice that they were not to talk to the press. Their excuse was that they wanted to shelter the girls, when the true worry was probably the PR nightmare they were trying to avoid.

Robbins paints a picture of a high degree of alcohol abuse, drug use and generally degrading behavior within the houses. Further, she described both Rush/pledging as more of a means to continue the "look" of each house, rather than to try to get to know new members. She described the parties and festivities as more fraternity centered than anything else and described how the typical sorority was much more interested in getting drunk than doing community service or getting good grades. If only 1/3 of what Robbins saw was typical, I'd highly discourage any bright young female student of mine from joining a typical Greek-system sorority and unless I can be convinced of change, I'll refuse to pay any sorority dues for the daughters I don't have yet.

What was refreshing to read about were the traditionally black sororities. They seemed to have a much stronger sense of sisterhood and focus on community service. Robbins also used the traditionally black sororites to contrast the false claims of post-college networking potential. While the white sorority sisters didn't seem to have much connection after graduation, the black sorority sisters maintained strong networks with one another and strong involvement in their houses.

This was a good book and generally well-written Robbins seems to go out of her way to try to be fair in reporting the lives of the four girls she tracked. I think that anybody who is teaching on a campus with a Greek system really should read this book. If the Greeks have any power or presence on your campus, you should know what the system is all about. Robbins shows how it can be harmful to both the social and academic lives of women in your classes and especially if you advise women in sororities, you should be aware of the issues Robbins discusses.

Hubby's blog...

My sweet and ever articulate hubby has decided to blog about his adventure into Red state...

Read First Year Prof, support him, argue with him or whatever... he could probably use the help and advise of more than just me...

In all this moving stuff, what I am most sad about is that I won't be around for his first week of teaching. Think about your own first week -- how exhausting, scary and exciting it was all at the same time. I should be there to rub his feet and make him sphaghetti, but I'll be teaching at BNCC...

Travel Advise...

As a child my family traveled a lot -- my step-dad worked for a major airline, so we could fly for next to nothing, and we did. As an adult I do a decent amount of travel -- most of it is by car/debate van, but often also by air. Since hubby leaves for Red state on Saturday, I'll be doing even more travel than in previous years.

I really enjoy travelling, although I sometimes don't enjoy the people I meet. I also love to watch "Airline" -- and some recent episodes have prompted me to write a post some travel hints and tips....

1) Alcohol -- a major problem for some people. I know y'all may like to drink, but being drunk in the airport will keep you off of a flight more reliably than not having a ticket. If they can smell the booze, you won't get on. I'm amazed when I watch "Airline" and nearly every episode has some bozo who is too drunk to fly and Southwest denies bording. Good for them!

2) Firearms -- no, they won't let you on with that gun/knife/big scissors in your bag. Don't be a twerp and fight with the Homeland Security people.... Also won't let your 90 year-old oxygen dependent grandma on the plane, as her oxygen becomes dangerous under pressure. Don't blame the airline for ruining your vacation... you were the person who didn't plan.

3) Porn -- Read a pal's blog tale of second-hand porn on an airplane -- in short, looking at porn in public isn't cool. In the car, having it on the DVD player installed to hang between the front seats isn't cool either --- other cars can see you watch "Girls Gone Wild", especially at night, during a traffic jam.

4) Drugs ---- illegal, don't be an idiot and try to take them with you past security. Legal, KEEP THEM WITH YOU at all times. If your life depends on the medicine and you can't buy it at Wallgreens without a prescription, then keep it handy. Airlines do things like lose and destroy bags all the time. People get delayed and their bags sometimes go without them. If you are going to die without your pill, keep a few days in your pocket or something.

5) Kids -- amuse and control them, please. You should have a new thing for them to do for every 30 mintues of flight time. Don't assume they'll go to sleep, unless you plan to drug them. At a minimum, try to keep them from kicking the back of my seat on a cross-country flight.... If I hear you say once in a while "say, Devil Child, you shouldn't do that irritating behavior" then I actually will be less irritated. Also, if your kid is 3 feet tall, the don't need to recline the seat all the way. That cuts into my personal space and they don't need it to be comfortable. If your child is under the age of 2 and you expect them to fly for free, have a copy of their birth certificate handy to prove their age. Don't fight with the counter person who doesn't know your monster kid is 23 months old.... she wasn't there for the birth, you shouldn't expect a kid who looks like a kindergartner to pass for 2 just because you are still carrying the baby weight.

6) Be early --- Airports have long lines, the traffic and parking are often bad and security can be a nightmare. Make sure you are early enough to go home if you were a dork-ass and left your wallet on the counter. Make sure you are early enough so that if you need to change terminials because the airline moved to the carter termial, you won't miss your flight. Make sure you leave early enough so that if you get a flat tire you can still make your flight. All of these have happened to me -- and more. Being early has helped me make more flights than I can remember. I've never actually missed a flight (knock on wood) and l fly pretty often.

7) Know the baggage rules -- Leave the kitchen sink at home, or -- if you have to bring it with you, check it. Trying to wrestle the largest allowed suitcase into an overhead is a pain in the butt, for both you and me while I stand there waiting for you to do it. They also don't fit into some overheads -- so figure out how to cope. Also, a big suitcase that is full might push the weight limits. Pack a lightweight duffle bag in case that happens to you -- don't pay the airline the $50.00 it wants for a bag that is 5 pounds over the limit -- take some stuff out and check a second bag..

8) Know where you are going, be flexible and polite to airline staff -- I can't tell you how many times I've been re-routed etc. I've always actually arrived where I was going, sometimes later than expected. I've also been upgraded and given good seats because I was nice to the people working the counter. When there is weather in the hub city, the person working the counter is having a bad day. A nice smile and a very polite request for a change will get you TONS of good will. Of course everyone in line NEEDS to get there NOW, otherwise they wouldn't have bought the ticket -- so, if you can be nice and sweet, make an actually funny joke or show that you know the airline employees are people too, you'll get what you want much more efficiently than the blow-hard in front of you.

9) Things are different -- Where you are going, things will be different, strange or otherwise not like home. Do some research and plan accordingly. Things like food, weather and accents are obvious, things like rental car company requirements and other things are not. Make sure you know what you'll need to show them when you rent a car. Some states won't rent a big van to a school (accidents or something) others require you to be over a certain age etc... Some places won't take a debit card to secure a vehicle, although they'll let you pay with one when you return it. Also, when renting a car, make sure you know where to return it --- many places hide their rental car return lots around the airport and there may not be signs. They may not be open either early or late when you need to return the car -- that is why you need to find this stuff out before you go.

10) Have a contingency plan -- Don't take the last possible flight home from Vegas before your midnight shift at the plant. Travel is unpredictable and flights are often over-booked, delayed by mechanicals or weather. Sometimes you have to spend the night someplace before you can get home. Don't cut it so close that you'll get fired if you don't make that flight. Your failure to plan isn't the airline employee's fault, don't expect them to show much sympathy. Make sure you have some extra money or a credit card for exactly these kinds of emergencies... sometimes the airline will put you up, other times they won't. If you don't want to spend the night in the terminal, have the money to spend on an extra night in a hotel. If you don't have this, either don't complain or you can't afford to travel by air.

PS -- f-ing pay attention --if your flight is delayed, they may call your flight at any time. Don't go to the bar -- don't go do your Christmas shopping in the airport stores and don't go out for a smoke. If your flight is on-time, they will start boarding about 20-30 minutes before the scheduled time, watch for movement toward your gate. Listen for them to call your flight and get in line. If the rest of the people on your flight get on the plane and leave without you, it isn't the fault of the people working the desk.