Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween Love

There are many, many, many reasons I like our new apartment better than the old one...

This Halloween is just one of them...

At our old place Trick-or-Treating was prohibited, as some residents didn't want to answer the door.

Here they made an official Trick-or-treat sign we could put on our doors if we wanted to participate in Halloween. Problem solved.

Granted, I've only had two trick-or-treaters, but having the option was nice!

Also, when I answered the door, I found a goodie bag FROM our apartment management.... just what we need, more candy... but very nice of them.

The problem with "student government"

BNCC has a lot of students.

Each student pays a per-credit activity fee. I'm not sure what it is -- but, the total dollar amount is pretty big.

"Student Government" controls how that money is spent. Much of it goes to good things, keeping the exercise room open and supporting things like the new student newspaper and intermural sports.

Student clubs also get a pretty decent amount of money -- but it is becoming more and more clear to me that these clubs are not treated equally.

It is also becoming clear to me that the student government doesn't represent the students, that it is run by professional student government types and their domineering adviser... if he doesn't "like" the club, they don't get squat.

I have a funny feeling I'm going to have to have a chat with our administration about this -- and it isn't going to be pretty. Good thing I'm not planning to start or advise any student clubs in the future, as what I have to say will make me pretty unpopular... and I've only been on this committee for a month or so.

Monday, October 29, 2007

What I just received... to paraphrase...


I can't make it to the time you scheduled the quiz. I also can't take the quiz early or, in fact at any time in the same week as the quiz you've already scheduled. I'm sorry my schedule is so complicated, I hope we can find "common ground" for me to take my quiz.

Please note, the e-mail was both polite and well-written -- although it was all in one paragraph.

My response:
Read your syllabus. I don't give make-up quizzes, although you can re-take one quiz at the end of the semester. You may take the quiz with my other class, which meets very early in the morning on the same day you can't make it to the later class.

What I wanted to say:

So --- because it is inconvenient for you to come to class, you should a) get almost an extra WEEK to work on the material and b) I should write a new quiz for you and c) plan time to give it to you.

I think not, dip-shit.

This is hard material and school sometimes requires you to do the work AND show up for the assessment. The quiz has been on the schedule since AUGUST -- plan ahead. I'm sorry that Halloween or whatever will get in the way, but that is a decision your grown-up self will have to make.

I haven't looked at my grade book, but if my memory serves, you've already missed OR f-ed up a quiz already this semester. I hope whatever you've failed to plan for is important enough to take the 0 you'll earn if you don't make it to the quiz.

Letter from a BNstate Grading Jail....

I've learned several interesting things in grading jail:

  • If we lived in a gender neutral society, we would become extinct as a species.
  • "a just war is one that is orally acceptable"
  • Human rights aren't written into any kind of law or constitution, rather they are inside us.
  • Just wars must be won by violating the rights of others, otherwise they are unjust.
  • In Iraq we can't go into, or shoot at a "Mask".

Sunday, October 28, 2007

General conference news....

I'm back from the odd conference in the city where the wind doesn't stop.

The world amateur boxing championships were in town and many of the boxers were staying at our hotel. We saw boxers from all over the world -- they'd jog and spar in the halls and it was really common to see them running on the sidewalks around our hotel. They usually wore their warm-up suits, so we could tell where they were from... Thinking back, I regret not keeping track of the countries we saw -- kind of a modification of the license plate game we played as kids...

For the record, I found that conference weird, probably because of the unusual combination of disciplines that participate -- I saw a few philosophical papers, a few political science papers and a bunch of other (for me) odd papers. I suppose there is a research niche for everyone and there aren't really any bad questions -- but, it also seems pretty amazing that these research questions get funded and have such obviously "no duh" answers.

Also, it was really fun to be at a conference with hubby. I like to see him in his intellectual stimulation mode..

and... while I was there, I got news that I'll be presenting at my first-ever academic conference... YEA!

now all I have to do is to revise the hell out of the paper.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Students don't change so much....

A Kindergarten teacher was teaching addition to Johnny....

KT: Johnny, if you have two rabbits, plus two rabbits, plus two rabbits, how many Rabbits will you have.

Johnny: I'd have seven rabbits total.

KT: Johnny, let's look at it again, there are two rabbits, plus two rabbits, plus two rabbits -- how many do you have?

Johnny: I'd have Seven.

KT: let's try it with apples... two apples, plus two apples, plus two apples.... how many apples would you have.
Johnny: I'd have six apples total.

KT: Johnny, why do you have six apples but seven rabbits?

Johnny: Well, I'd have the six rabbits here, plus the one at home.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Academic / political / blogger geek threats....

Hubby is a major contributor to a political blog. I'd link to it, but he writes under his own name and that would make things just a little less anonymous than I'd like. This year their blog has increased their number of daily and weekly hits significantly. Today something happened that will probably increase their hits to about 10,000 for the day.

I don't keep a hit counter, but I know I haven't had that many hits in the past couple of years and that is really ok with me.

I told hubby that I was "selective" with my readers -- as most of my readers either know me in person or know me because I commented on their blogs at some point and caught their interest.

He countered with "I'll link to you with the phrase, 'here's a highly critical article about [insert name of presidential candidate with the initials R. P., whose followers are a bit nuts].

I countered with, "I'll write a post about how you are more obstreperous than R. P.".....

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Short week...

Hubby left for Red State yesterday... while I spent the afternoon in meetings and the evening teaching.

Today was the usual 3 class teach-a-thon, with some good visits from students afterward.
Tonight I went to the gym and managed to exercise in spite of the splashy men in the lanes around me. As a reward I got some yummy Asian food and came home.

Tonight I must, must, must fold that laundry. I've been putting it off for weeks.
It is out of hand.

I'm going to watch Boston Legal while I do so.

Tomorrow, among other things I'll work on some papers, have some meetings and pack for a conference in the big blowy city...

hubby and I will meet there and spend the weekend.... It is lovely to have a hubby whose interests are close enough to my own to justify co-conferencing...

does it count as a conference hook-up if you are married to the person but not living in the same state?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

A little retail therapy / reward...

Thursday I put a version of the Ancient paper in the percolation vault... It will come out tomorrow for editing and sending off to Dr. Ancient for one more look.

Friday I put a version of the Feminist Epistemology paper in the percolation vault (secret note to Julie, check your college e-mail for a version). I'll take it out tomorrow for editing and sending off to Dr. Feminism for one more look.

So, to celebrate -- I did some shopping.

Thursday I went to Russell + Hazel for a cute notebook!
I got a bright pink one to take to conferences... since my typical conference is about war and death, a bright pink one seemed necessary. What was even more lovely was that they were having some kind of party and everything was %20 off. YEA!

Today I decided I needed some make-up. I decide this about once per year, I wear it for a while and decide that it isn't worth the trouble. I'm thinking that a combination of a very simple routine and lipstick that is supposed to stay on forever will keep me on the right path this time.

While shopping I ran into a favorite former student. BNCC is pretty big, so living in the area means I see my students everyplace.

This particular student was in my logic class last year, and had his challenges. The thing is, he kept trying and he got it. For that I really respected him. He was also the one who declared that logic is "the product of an unholy union between math and grammar".... so, I like his sense of humor. He's currently working selling make-up and skin care at the mall. He gave me a bunch of samples of the really good stuff -- because he wanted to make sure it worked for me before I paid for it.

We ended up having a conversation about what he wants to do with his life.... and, what he wants to do is to go to cosmetology school. Since I spent about 10 years in the beauty business, I had an insider's view and encouraged him to go. His problem is that his parents are really uptight and want him to do something "more manly". I explained to him that if he's interested in that end of the economy there are lots of things to do that aren't working in a salon.

What breaks my heart is that he's obviously a nice, young, pretty androgynous person and his parents don't want to see him that way. They'd rather he be macho and working construction than doing hair. I'd guess that he's gay, although he never told me so and the sub-text of the comment about his parents indicates that they aren't comfortable with that option for their child.

Message to those parents: Wise up, he's a good, smart, talented person who could really do well in the hair biz.... lighten up and support him going to cosmetology school. When he's in his 50s, financially secure and doing the hair of all the wealthy ladies in town, that money will pay for the good home --- and he's just nice enough to put you there even though you probably don't deserve it.

I'd bet that he's going to go to cosmetology school. He said he would plan to go visit the school he wants to go to. He'll see people doing what he wants to do and he'll realize that 8 months is really a short amount of time to learn to do all of that -- and that the money is worth it. I know that he's smarter than about 80% of the hairdressers I managed. He's also more organized and nicer than most of them too. He's very creative and very concerned about helping others -- he has all the tools to be a good hairdresser... now all he needs are the skills.

Traditional post complaining about my students...

Yep, it is mid-term here and I'm sick and tired of them. In particular, I'm tired of:

  • "Texting girl" -- this is how I think of her. She sits in the front row and pays way more attention to her cell phone than to our class discussion. She has the nerve to type out long messages on her phone. I wish she'd pay that much attention to her papers.
  • "Airhead boy" -- I have several of these... generally, they are kind of cute (if you are a 15 year-old girl), dress in baggy pants and have a vacant look on their faces. They don't even bother to bring books or paper to take notes. They don't know what the assignments are and they generally don't get it.
  • "Mr. I know it all" -- He's generally in his 30s and doesn't think he needs my class, because he knows it all. At our college he's generally headed to be an EMT or a cop... elsewhere he's generally a business student. He's pretty clearly there to get the grade and not the education. I secretly cheer when he dorks up a quiz or paper, because I then have evidence that he doesn't know it all.
  • "Party girl" -- She's the one who is too hot to hang with "Airhead boy", but she's his intellectual equivalent. It is pretty clear by the way she dozes in the morning class that she's been hanging with a party crowd and that she spends most weekends at the big school across town.
  • "Worry wart" -- She's older and returning to school. I began the semester by admiring her, as she's taking a big risk returning to school. The problem is that she won't use her own voice when she writes, so she puts a citation behind everything. She also can't seem to grasp the parts of the assignment that require her to do original thinking.
  • "Grade grubber" -- "Concerned" doesn't cover her. She'll nit-pick every point missed. She'll do so while walking down the hall, before class, after class, in my office and anyplace else she can grab me.
  • "My friend" -- This is the student who wants to get to know me over coffee. She's sweet, thoughtful and generally a kind person. I suspect that if we'd met in a social situaiton, we'd become friends. The problem is that she's my student, I'm her teacher and I have to be able to give her objective criticism on her work.
Do I really have to come back from Fall break?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

My cats and the Supreme Court...

Tonight we were discussing how long we've had our cats.

Hubby says, "our cats are like the Supreme Court, they just keep hanging around" --- We then started playing the ever so fun game of matching cat to individual justice....

lose some, and lose some...

The BICC meeting didn't go all that well for me today.

They picked nits that oughtn't have been picked. They took time to criticize the wording of their OWN f-ing form and they tried to bring up settled issues.

and, my course size reduction plan didn't work out.... although I was pretty sure it wouldn't.

The fact of the matter is that there is some terrible logic going on in terms of class sizes at BNCC. I'm not sure other disciplines are as messed up as philosophy, but when we have a medical ethics class that is limited to 30 and a regular ethics class with a class size of 50, something is messed up.

When we first started wanting to change class size, the administration told us that it was up to the BICC to change them. Today we were told that the BICC could make a recommendation, but that it was ultimately an administrative decision. I'd like to know which it is. What I do know is that I'm trying to teach material that needs to be written about in order to assess learning and I have classes of 50 students. Those things don't mix and it may be my project to fight this fight.

I have a funny feeling that I'm going to fight this fight this spring. First, I'm going to have to figure out what "writing intensive" means --- if y'all want to tell me what that means at your school, it would be lovely...

Then I'm going to have to figure out what that looks like for our Ethics course and persuade the philosophers that we need to do some version of it... I'm even contemplating a new model, with an assessment method either being revised writing or an oral presentation on a philosophical topic.

hmmm... lots to think about.

Thank goodness for our 1 day "Fall Break".

Why I couldn't do Anicent Philosophy....

Is it sad that I really want to be done with this paper on Ancient Philosophy because I am tired of hauling the HUGE book around?

I have the Hackett version of Plato's complete works -- the Cooper translation.

I've used it since my first Grad school exposure to Ancient phil.

The book is huge and doesn't fit in my bag well...

maybe I'll finish it today.

Monday, October 15, 2007

A gift for you...

If you are quick...

I've seen this on lots of blogs recently and decided to play too...

I'll send you an actual gift by the end of the calendar year -- if you meet the following:

1) Comment on this thread
2) Do the same on your blog.

I've already got some fun ideas....

I hate monopoly air!

So, I'm planning on a conference someplace warm in January (good move, huh -- leave BNstate for a conference that lasts 1.5 days and spend the rest in the sun with hubby... YEA!).

Anyway, Hubby will be coming from Red State and I'll be coming from BN state.

As I looked at airline tickets I found something infuriating. Hubby's tickets will be almost $200.00 LESS than mine.

On Monopoly air, he and I will meet in BN state and get on the same flight. To even take that option will cost me almost $400.00. For him to take two extra flights (to and from BN state) will be about $200.00.

They officially suck.

It is quite possible that we will both have to make connections... him in BN state and me in mountain state. I'll start in BN state, fly to mountain state and meet my hubby in palm-tree central. He'll start in Red State, fly to BN state and then to palm-tree central. That is what is needed in order for us to pay the same airfare.

Monopoly Air claims they are doing a good thing by providing direct flights all over... which is nice if you have a big expense account and aren't worried about managing a smallish professional development budget. What is even worse is that Monopoly air keeps getting help from BN state -- and look how they repay us... by screwing us on airfares.

It almost makes me want to drive to Red State and fly with hubby back to BN state and on to palm-tree central.... just to screw them out of the $200.00. As I wrote that, I realized that if I timed the ticket purchase correctly, I'd be able to fly to Red state, back to BN state and on to palm-tree central FOR THE SAME FRICKING PRICE as I'd pay to go directly!

That, folks is messed-up.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Notes from Grading Jail

  1. Kant's Categorical Imperative is NOT a "cornerstone of Christianity" . Kant did not live BEFORE CHRIST!
  2. Using the word "ridiculous" to characterize the idea that people ought to be motivated by reason and not bodily desire tells me that you are not capable of reason.
  3. "Absurd" also ought to be banned. Frankly, when I see it, I am enraged at the way in which you mis-understand the philosophical work AND the assignment. The assignment tells you to frame a thoughtful objection to an ethical theory, not to make an ad hominem attack on a well-respected philosopher.
  4. My goodness, how can you people get Kant so f-ing wrong? It isn't that hard -- and I gave you the basic ideas to look for at the end of class last time. Hint, I do that EVERY time because I'm the instructor and thus I know what is coming next. You make my head hurt.
  5. Having "autonomy" does not "imply that all people will think and act alike concerning their duties and obligations." In fact, it is the opposite... having autonomy does not equate to being an automaton...
  6. Follow the directions.... please! Listen in class when I tell you that you don't need to try to mash together Ross' prima facie duties with the reading on Feminist ethics.
  7. "Radical feminists are insane. That communal living stuff may have worked for the Native Americans but when you get all of those women together they'll fight"... yea, that is a good way to argue against feminist ethics, call them crazy... ever heard of an ad hom fallacy?

I'm starting the procrastination early...

I have a few things to do today...

1) Grade papers
2) Clean a litle (laundry and cat box.. yea, the basics :).
3) Work on a final version of my Ancient philosophy paper

I got up pretty early this morning, which was ok because I was done sleeping...

I've accomplished the following:
  • Read blogs
  • checked e-mail
  • wrote a long blog post
  • combed the cat
  • made coffee
  • ordered stamps that should make grading easier
  • sorted out papers to grade
  • counted papers I was supposed to grade
  • graded a few
Yea - I'd better get my act together.... it is a pretty day and my office is nice and sunny.

What every grad student should know...

New Kid has a good post up concerning someone who was disappointed that their graduate students decided to forgo an R1 career...

While I was leaving a comment, I realized that if I wrote everything I was thinking about it, I'd have a full post about what grad students should know...

Before starting grad school...
  • In the humanities, the job market is terrible. It is quite possible that you'll send out lots of applications and not get any interviews. Because of the seasonal nature of the job market, you'll have to wait a whole year before taking another stab at it. This is after you've finished your dissertation.
  • As New Kid notes, your grad school professors aren't interested in training more teachers. Don't tell them you want to teach.
  • Grad school will make you feel less academically able than when you accidentally got registered for the upper-division bio-chem course... but, this is in your major. They'll use a whole new language and when you get your first paper back, you'll be stunned by the comments and possibly by the grade. Everyone feels like this, even if they don't admit it. If you can't handle it, don't start. Get a real job and enjoy the freedom.
  • If you want to make money, go to law school -- or, anything other than grad school.
During course work...
  • Be kind to your department's administrative assistant(s). They can (and will) take you down more quickly than if you'd dissed a senior faculty member. It will also be more painful and less obvious. They know everyone and can make sure everything you need done won't get done.
  • For the most part, those people you see around you aren't your friends. Be careful who you show weakness to, as telling the wrong person about your struggles could have long-term implications.
  • Try to publish and go to conferences. It will cost you money you don't have -- but, do it anyway.
  • Don't burn any bridges with faculty. If you think you did poorly in someone's class, stop by and let them know that you realize you weren't working up to their expectations. Don't apologize, but rather let them know that you did learn a lot from their course that will be applied elsewhere. The reason being is that you don't know who will go and who will be left when you need a committee.
  • Ask around about who is the "hardest" grader or who gives the most extensive critiques of writing. Take this person's class early in your time as a grad student... and plan to take it again as you'll probably get a B the first time. This person will teach you more valuable skills about writing and research in your discipline than you will learn elsewhere and it will be a good investment of your time. I wish I'd had this advise -- it would have helped me a lot.
  • Take any opportunity you see to learn teaching techniques. They will save you time in the end. Don't tell people you are doing this, but do it.
While you are either ABD or working on comps.....
  • Teaching will take a lot of time. I think everyone going on the market should have a full syllabus developed for every introductory class in your field. For each of those courses, you should collect relevant articles and (if possible) powerpoint slides from relevant courses you've TA'd. This is called getting a head-start on class prep. It is something that is pretty easy when you have all of your files handy, but not nearly as easy when the details are less clear.
  • Think about various kinds of writing samples and put them in a file... the hard copies... paper doesn't get corrupted or crash. This will make applications easier.
  • Get done as soon as possible. Your dissertation will be much slower, and the support for your dissertation less easily come by if you end up with a job as an ABD... especially since most of those jobs will be teaching intensive.
When you are on the job market....
  • There are plenty of posts out there that will tell you that being rejected isn't about you and your abilities... it is about fit. As hard as that may be to accept, believe them.
  • Make sure your written materials reflect the wonder that is you. Your warmth and intelligence should come out in the cover letter, as should the way you fulfill the qualifications specified in the ad. This is crucial -- and it means that you'll have to write the bulk of them from scratch... or, at least you should have small pre-written bits that address the common qualifications and preferred categories.
  • Tailor your application to the kind of institution you are applying to. While the research schools will want to know about your research, those with a high teaching load really aren't all that interested in your publication record. This is what they are talking about when they discuss "fit".. At my CC, someone whose letter and CV lists many publications and discusses a desire to do more won't be happy with us. Why should we even waste interview time on this person when the job won't be one where they'll stay?
  • Apply for all the jobs you are qualified to do. You never know what will end up to be your dream job and what may end up to be a nightmare. You can't know this until you are in the job, or at least in the interview.
  • Before any kind of interview, read the college's website. Know the kinds of classes taught in your department. Figure out what sorts of students they attract. Find out what they say their mission is. Develop a list of standard questions and try to answer them yourself.... and base your interview question(s) on follow-up questions to the initial ones. For my school if you were from out of town, an example of such a question would be "I see that your course descriptions for X, Y and Z mention 'satisfies goal 6', what does that mean?"
  • Try to figure out what the standard teaching load is. On my CC's website, that is pretty clear... if you've taught that load in the past, make sure you say so both in your application and in the interview. If you haven't, make sure you are ready for a question asking you how you plan to handle that load. My first-year teaching I taught 10 sections and 490 students.... with no TA or other grading help. When I do interviews, I want to know how someone proposes to handle that kind of load.
As a new instructor... I only know the teaching intensive point of view here... I've had 5 sections per (or the release time equivalent) every year for many years now...
  • Be kind to your department's administrative assistant(s). They can (and will) take you down more quickly than if you'd dissed a senior faculty member. It will also be more painful and less obvious. They know everyone and can make sure everything you need done won't get done. This is important enough that I put it here as well as above.
  • Students of all levels are often stupid, lazy and not worthy of your time. Get used to it...
  • If you run into a student who is pissed at you, tell your immediate supervisor... don't let them be surprised by the student showing up in their office. Your supervisor should want to defend you, but they'll need time to marshal the defense.
  • Faculty members are often not good with details. Accepting that faculty members are often like your students, only with advanced degrees will save you stress later on.
  • Keep a running list of things you'll want to change next time you do the course. It will keep you form making the same mistakes over again.
  • Name your electronic files in an organized and consistent manner. This will help you find what you need quickly.
  • Plan a reasonable preparation load. Don't change books unless you have to. Don't assign writing due at the same time for every class. Figure out how to have a standard writing assignment so you can grade papers quickly.
  • Don't be part of every project or committee. They will ask, you don't have to say yes. Treasure any release time you may have.
  • Keep track of all the ways you contribute to the college and community. This will help the tenure / future applications file.
  • Do your class prep in chunks. On Thursday, think ahead to the next week or two. Make sure you are happy with your PowerPoints and that you have final versions of handouts or quizzes. This lets you have some time to change things if needed -- and to let someone else make your copies.
  • Figure out how to have blocks of time to do your research. It will keep you sane and it feels good to work for the benefit of your own mind as opposed to working to improve your students' minds.
Above all, the chances are pretty good that you won't have the career you thought you'd have when you started grad school. You'll probably have a good career with a lot of satisfaction and many rewards, it just won't be what you thought. This is because you are an intelligent person who has worth and you are giving back to people who won't appreciate it until later--- but, the important part is the giving, not the appreciation.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

and.. the Dean, she shouldn't go there... not tonight...

I had a short e-mail exchange tonight with the Dean.

Normally, she's pretty good but tonight she's on my bad list for two reasons...

1) When trying to help me, she made the schedule thing more difficult. Not really her fault, but I could have done without her "help".

2) Her name was at the top of the memo I saw that indicated our course had a problem. She gave it to the old guy, but not to us. The other discipline named also knew, but we didn't. Not at ALL cool... not even for a second. Had she given us the notice she gave them, we wouldn't have had to rush. I can rush, but I don't like to do it when the mistake isn't mine.

She should probably stay on her end of the building until next week.

and... today it just got "better"...

After yesterday, I figured I'd come in early to get caught up on my other stuff before BICC meeting #1.

I thought I had it all set -- a dozen copies of each revised document were piled on my office table.

Then, I went into the work room.... where I found out that BICC hadn't told us that one of our courses had been questioned as not belonging in the gen ed curriculum.

I had a little fit.... and then had to figure out what to do -- and DO it before 2:30.

Of course, the memo that put our course on the naughty courses list was written in JANUARY and I had to find out accidentally the day of the BICC meeting.

at least I did find out.

So -- we conferenced, we spoke to those who had some insight and I revised the course outline....

in time for the meeting.

To say I'm a BICC-ninja wouldn't be overstating things.

The really shouldn't have had to be a ninja like this... had the BICC committee chair been doing his job --

A cross-post about "Big Block of Cheese" day....

Stolen from the blog about my school and edited to keep me anonymous....

"Today "BNCC" celebrated “Ample Parking Day,” a special event designed to revel in the many joys of a half-empty parking lot.

One day each semester, daytime classes are cancelled to allow employees and the few students who find a reason to come to campus the experience of readily finding a parking space near the building even in the middle of the day.

The event has been nicknamed “______” by some to reflect the unjustified and exaggerated euphoria experienced by students when they manage to park their cars easily.

To celebrate the rows of unoccupied parking spaces, a variety of workshops, seminars, and open houses are held throughout campus."

You can see why I love this person... whomever they are.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

and... some domestic bliss

I just saw the sweetest thing.

Blind kitty is having a loud night -- lots of complaining/meowing....

New Kitty just went down and calmed Blind Kitty.

Now Blind Kitty is sleeping by the door.

Details, people... details....

Today I felt like everyone's bitch.

Today was "Big Block of Cheese" day -- it has a nicer name, but if you are a West Wing fan, you'll get the gist... if not, imagine a day of seminars intended to help students be better students and faculty having open office hours all day. Sounds pretty nice, right....

except if you are everyone's bitch.

In all honesty, today started nicely. My first student visitor came by with coffee and a muffin. I loved her before, but now I want her to move in with me and hubby.... we had a great conversation about live and love. Her hubby has recently returned from 15 months in Iraq, so she has a lot on her plate.

I then went up to sit at a table for a committee.... and that was actually pretty fun as well. I discussed the program and lots of other topics with a few good students.... after a bit, the chair of that committee asked me to take on one of his responsibilities for that evening. Bells should have warned me, I should have taken my own advise and said no ---- but, he told me a good story about a schedule conflict and a concert and I said yes.

As I was chatting with my 11:00 student, my Dean called.

and the day went downhill.... quickly.

It seems that the chair of a big, important and complicated committee (BICC) can't read a calendar -- or 4 f-ing e-mails, sent at different times in this process. Since August I've been dealing with, and passing on information about a project concerning my division and BICC. It seems that most of the schedule information given to me by the chair of BICC was wrong.

I caught the first mistake when I went to put it on my calendar. BICC traditionally meets on Wednesdays. According to the memo from last spring, BICC chair gave meeting dates that were on Thursdays. When I asked, I was told that the weeks were correct and the days should be Wednesdays, not Thursdays. These were the dates I told my people.

In subsequent e-mails and conversations I asked what was supposed to happen on those dates, when we were to meet on those dates, where we were to meet on those dates and what we should bring on those dates. Every time I asked about 10/10 and 10/24.

Today I find out the actual dates are 10/10 and 10/17!

I wanted to hit someone. The fact that I asked him so many times about various parts of this process and every time he looked at an incorrect date and didn't question it, really made me mad. Of course, I had to go around and get people to come to BICC's second meeting a week earlier than we'd thought. Thank goodness that my faculty are generally sweet and flexible people.

What made me even more mad was that someone in our department also KNEW and didn't bother to tell me I ought to question the dates in my e-mails. He told his discipline but didn't bother to let me know I should tell everyone else.

So, I've made some decisions as of today.

First, I won't deal with BICC chair anymore after this icky project is over. Obviously, I can't trust him to pay attention to his job and I don't want anything to do with him or BICC. For a committee that picks the smallest nits on the forms they deal with, the fact that their chair messes up dates four times AND their previous oversight about the scope of the project -- lead me to believe that I don't want anything to do with them.

edited -- because I really don't think that -- I was just having a general temper tantrum.


115,689 miles, and its all ours...

I paid off the JEEP today...

We now own, outright, a 2003 (i think, maybe 2002) JEEP liberty, green.

It has stains on the seats from countless spilled drinks.

It has worn out floor mats.

There is a big dent in the cargo-area door (hubby backed into a pole)

The back passenger electronic door lock is haunted (sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't).

The heat and AC is either ON or nearly off....

but, it is all ours.

It is also a lot of fun... we've taken it some amazing places. We've camped out of it, moved in it and nearly been stuck in it many, many, many times.

It has never left us stranded and it still looks good.... even the dent isn't really obvious :).

and.. the best thing about it is that it will bring hubby home on Thursday for a full 10 days!!!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Random bullets of complaint and procrastination...

  • Hubby is having more issues with the house sitting deal... there is a never-ending construction project in the basement that is beyond his control, and now the hot water isn't working. We've never paid rent someplace that was such a pain... hmmm...
  • Of course, no hot water means we have to go to the gym -- to shower, so we might as well work out too.
  • I'm avoiding grading -- even looking at curriculum revision documents seemed like a good idea. Now I've read all the blogs in Vienna, so I'm running out of ways to procrastinate reasonably.....
  • Miss Teen South Carolina's phrase "Some US Americans don't haaave maps" has become our code for, "what a dumb-ass". We use it frequently.
  • Hubby's current video game has a voice that sounds like it is saying, "insufficient lesbian gas" -- I suppose some of my friends need to eat more beans or something??
  • I should really do the last of that grading so I can get to my paper revisions.... on the other hand, the grading could be done on the airplane ride home....
  • NO, I can't talk myself out of grading...
  • We saw Halloween costumes for pets at Target this morning. Do I dare get costumes for Blind Kitty, Extra-Toes and New Kitty? Blind kitty wouldn't know what was going on, so he'd probably let me put it on him -- then who knows what would happen. Extra-toes would tolerate it, because he's that kind of cat. He'd just sulk in the corner until I took it off... New Kitty would probably turn into a little whirlwind with claws -- Maybe it isn't such a good idea.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Games we play in restaurants...

Hubby and I love to people watch.

Tonight was perfect for it. It is a warm weekend in Red State and everyone here is enjoying their last taste of summer-like weather before they get what they call "winter" here (it isn't winter according to BN state standards and their "lakes" aren't even worthy of naming in BN state - -not even with a number)....

Anyway, Hubby and I went to my favorite classy-pub place for a late dinner tonight. It was prime people watching time...

The general game we play is something like: 'I wonder what they're doing here?' The goal is for us to make-up backgrounds for the other tables. For example, at one table tonight Hubby was sure that it was a reunion for a broken-up couple. He wants to date her again, and she's telling him that she's pregnant with his child and wants money for an abortion. At another table we had the friend from out of town meets BFF's new boyfriend etc... That game is good for a lot of amusement and especially in a place like our favorite Pub, there are a wide variety of people to watch.

Our game morphed into "guess who's a paid escort" -- which is a great variation. Our final decision was that the most likely candidate was the pub's hostess. She had exactly the right kind of contempt for the world, and the way she carried steak knives indicated she had considered how to defend herself with a knife.

A different restaurant game, and one that we've only recently started, is "what would Gordon Ramsay say?".... in which we imagine how the chef with a temper and a flair for insults would handle minor problems... We had very few problems tonight, so it was a non-starter. Also, our Pub is very busy an is always busy when we are there -- so I doubt they'll need to go on Ramsay's show.

Finally, we discussed doing an anonymous restaurant review blog for Red State. Who knows if that will happen, but it was fun to talk about anyway.

In case you are wondering, I had a fantastic spinach salad with warm bacon dressing and a Thai lavosh. The salad is pretty basic with red onions, hard boiled eggs, tomatoes and bacon, but basic in that perfect and amazing way. The lavosh is the 2nd most tasty thing in town (first is an Indian dish..) -- Imagine this... on something that is like a large cracker, put basil, cheese, chicken, tomato and peanuts -- plus that sweet/hot red Thai sauce... and put it in the oven until the cheese melts. It is really amazing... if you ever go to Red State you must have one.

yea, it was a good day. I'll work tomorrow.

A quick thought on same-gender mentors

Writing about Dr. Feminism (or, Dr. F from now on...) got me thinking.

Dr. F didn't have to help me. She could have decided to decline the first meeting or tell me that I needed to work with someone with whom I had an established working relationship.

She could have been prickly about time and meeting conditions so that I could never get down to see her from BN stated.

She could have ignored e-mails and generally gone about her business as if I weren't important.

She did none of that. She was willing to invest in a student who won't bring her glory or help her in any meaningful way. She was willing to take time out of her break, sabbatical and summer to read drafts and discuss ideas... because she knew those were the only times possible for me.

Dr. F is on a "9 month contract" (a bogus term, BTW, if you are on the tenure-track or tenured, your salary is annual, even if they don't send the checks in the summer!). She had no explicit obligation to help me. I don't know why she did, but she did.

Dr. F doesn't look down at my CC teaching job, rather she respects what I'm doing and how I do it. In fact, she's impressed at how much I was able to produce while also coaching, traveling for love and teaching.

In many ways, she showed me how to be generous with myself and with my students. I hope that I have always been respectful of her time and I know I've thanked her at every opportunity. I hope she understands how sincere those thanks are.

Many of you are female, quite a few of you are women in mostly male fields.

American Philosophy is extraordinarily a male field -- (there was a recent, shocking APA study on this exact point... I'll find it if you really want to see it). Most of the current grad students at my grad school are male and until this year nearly ALL of the faculty (and, I think all of the graduate faculty until Dr. F) were male.

We also know that men and women relate to the world in different ways. Women, we see it on a regular basis and know this is true -- men, trust us -- the world doesn't look the same to us as it does to you...

So, women -- please take the time to work with female students in your field. Whether they are grad students or undergrads, if most of your colleagues are men, they need you more than ever. Sure, it isn't your responsibility, it may not be in your job description and you may need to go out of your way to do so...

but, they need you to do it. I'll even be so bold as to assert that you have a moral duty to work with women who want to do the work.

Trust me, from the student's perspective, it makes a difference.

Thanks to Drs. Supervisor, Ancient and Feminism

Thursday night and Friday I had meetings with three grad profs -- At a Starbucks in Red State Dr. Supervisor looked at my paper and instead of critiquing the writing (finally, he was happy with it) he told me I should make more of my own arguments. Yes, he's right. I can make arguments and I will. Revision on that paper will be about a 2 month process at my rate, which puts another version in his hands in early December.

I left the meeting feeling as if I had had good news, even if that news was delete 1/3 of the paper and write a lot more of my own. I felt as if I'd been on Top Chef and Chef Tom told me I had too many ingredients on my plate, but the underlying idea was interesting. I also heard my own writing advise come back at me from his mouth... and he was just as right as I am when talking to my first-year ethics students.

Friday morning I was able to squeeze in a meeting with Dr. Ancient. He has some really challenging home situations and I was lucky to get time with him. Dr. Ancient taught me a lot about teaching, by example. Although I'm not at all in his sub-field, I'd guess that if he observed my classroom, he'd see quite a bit of himself and his passion in my classes. Dr. Ancient told me that he liked the new direction I took, but that the new view of Plato I included sucked.... well, he didn't exactly say "sucked", but what he did say is that while I did an admirable job representing the view, the original holder of the view doesn't explain it well, so it is a loser. His answer was to delete and pump up my own criticism...

hmmmm.... sounds familiar. With a bit more reading and thinking to do on that paper, I suspect I can have it done by early November. Excellent news!

Finally, I got to have my time with Dr. Feminism. She's becoming one of my favorite grad instructors, and I never had her for a course. She's easy to work with and was willing to take on additional work for a student she hadn't met before last winter. She give excellent comments on papers and overall is fun to talk with about doing philosophy and life in general.

Dr. Feminism had the best news yet... More or less we looked at the paper and she had a few small areas in which she thought I could be more clear, and I'm done. The one book I need to look at to make one change I have on my bookshelf at home, so on my next work day I can make the changes and be done with it... (yes, Julie, I'll send it to you -- now that I'm happy with it :).

To say it was a good day in Red State would be an understatement.


Friday, October 05, 2007

8 things...

I got tagged by Lillia (an awesome former debater, now new mom and law-student next year).

"There are "rules"- Post the rules before you give the facts. Post eight random facts about yourself. At the end of your blog post, you need to tag eight people and list their names. Leave the people you tagged a comment on their blog, letting them know that they've been tagged."

  1. I've always lived inside the Louisiana purchase.
  2. I've lived with at least 3 cats since I was 15. They haven't been the same 3 cats :).
  3. Hubby and I met in a high school English class.
  4. I'm a recent Mac convert (the computers, not the make-up).
  5. All of my shoes are Birkenstocks, except my gym shoes.
  6. I think Tony Blair is hot!
  7. Despite going to Red State U for a billion years (as a grad student), I've only been to one football game there.
  8. I almost never do memes, chain letters or pass on e-mail jokes, although I do enjoy reading them.
I'm not tagging anybody -- as most of you have already done this... If you want to do it, do it... if not, then don't. I only did it because Lillia asked me to.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

I wonder...

There is a really funny, very pseudononymous blog about my college.

The writing is spot-on and very sarcastic.

It has the insider's point of view that only those of us inside the philosophy factory can have...

Sometimes I wonder if it is being written by someone high up in the administration.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Top Chef spoiler...

If you haven't seen the finale of Top Chef.

and, if you care...

stop reading now.


aargh... Casey, why didn't you win? Hung is a little twerp with a huge ego.

of course, didn't Marcelle win last time.

If I didn't like the show, I'd be po'd enough not to watch.

I should go to bed.

Dear Students,

Don't be big babies.

Do your work and be glad that you have a philosophy prof who challenges you.

Also, don't just recycle my PowerPoints into your paper. I wrote them, I know what they say.

I can't wait until Fall Break!

until then, be happy that you are getting your papers back REALLY fast and GO AWAY!.


ps, whining e-mails about fictitious illnesses aren't interesting to me.

it's that time of the semester...

When they start to whine.

"this reading is too hard", "I have to work hard on this class" and other variations of waaa, waaaa, waaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

I finally snapped a bit on Monday night -- I told a student that she should go back to all the "easy" classes and demand her tuition back. Clearly, her profs didn't push her and didn't care enough about her education to get her out of her comfort zone. I then told her that if a class didn't push her, she wasn't learning.

Folks, she was whining about having to write a 3 page paper. About two pages is something like, "tell me what the philosopher says" -- and the last page is "give me one problem with this theory". It isn't f-ing difficult, especially since they have PowerPoint slides that outline the readings. All they have to do is to actually work a little --

Maybe I'm feeling this way because it has been a while since I've worked on my own stuff.... That should be better after my meetings at grad school scheduled for the end of this week.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

I love itunes...

If I drive a bit over the speedlimit and don't stop to pee...

I have a playlist long enough to let me sing all the way from BN state to Red State.