Saturday, June 30, 2007

red necked cat...

So, New Kitty wears a red collar.

Apparently it is a cheap red collar.

Overnight she got it wet and the red dye gave her a red neck.

Do y'all have any thought as to how to clean her up?

Friday, June 29, 2007

those darned students...

My summer class was 6 weeks long. My ethics class took one quiz per week. I dropped the lowest score, so the math is really easy.

I started giving participation/discussion points as part of the quiz points and all you needed to do is to show up to get them -- of course, the catch is that you need to show up for the brainstorming session AND when your topic is discussed to get the points, but all you need to do is show up.

The other half of the grade is a paper. We started talking about the paper the first day of class and most of the class got the idea -- they were supposed to read an applied ethics topic in the textbook NOT covered in class. They were supposed to present the most persuasive arguments on both sides of the ethical controversy and then present their own position on the topic and support their answer with an ethical theorist. I gave them access to my old PowerPoint slides that covered most of their possible topics, I offered to read drafts etc.. Most of my students wrote good to excellent papers....

but, there was Student X.....
If your quiz scores are consistently in the F neighborhood, wouldn't you get a clue that the course material contains concepts you aren't understanding? Especially since my quizzes were given AFTER discussion, so in all reality you don't need to do the reading at all if you pay attention in class.

Student X didn't make a peep. He just kept failing to do the reading and thus he failed the quizzes like clockwork. Sometimes X's answers were exactly the opposite of what was required by the question, so if I could have taken bonus points off of his quiz for being a dumb-ass, I would have.

So, if you were X, wouldn't you ask for help on your paper? Your paper is the only chance you have to get a C. You need at least a B on the paper (not that hard to do if you follow instructions) -- but, you don't do that either.

In fact, I suspect that X turned in a paper he wrote for a comp class on Animal Rights. It made the argument that animals should have rights, but it didn't cite ANY authors from the textbook. Since I doubt that X did any of the class readings, I sincerely doubt that X did a whole lot of original research on animal rights. Also, the paper didn't present any arguments against animal rights, which was a major part of the assignment.

I'm sure by now you've figured out why I'm blog-venting about this... I got an e-mail from X asking about their grade.

ummm... duh...

Secret message to X,
you are lucky to get the D instead of having to defend yourself against a plagiarism charge. I'm pretty sure that your paper wasn't original work.

When you re-take the class make sure you are understanding the material.... or, at least recognize you are in trouble.

your ethics prof....

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Done, nearly done and almost done...

Almost done:
Writing assessment project... the bulk of the essay reading is complete, now we just need to read the "tie breaker" essays... maybe 20 of them.

Nearly done:
My feminist epistemology paper. I think it is good and could get better -- but I'm letting it sit for a month or so before I take one last look at it.

I left myself a clean copy of the most recent version and a checklist of stuff to look at later -- essentially notes to myself in a couple of forms -- so that when I go back I don't have to remember what I was doing when I left it to simmer on the back burner.

#1 My teach-a-thon... two semesters, no breaks --

My semester started a few days before everyone else's when I met my debate team in Rocky Mountain state.

My spring break was two days in Red State -- a long nap and a pedicure in my pjs doesn't really count as a Spring Break.

Between Spring and First Summer session, BNCC seems to think that a weekend is sufficient...

Add to that a kind of time consuming search for adjunct philosophy faculty, and the result is a pretty darned long time of teaching...

#2 My time as a commuter -- we are moving to within 5 minutes of BNCC, and not a moment too soon. I spent an extra 30 minutes stuck in traffic today on the highway, all due to a relatively minor car accident -- gack....

For the next few days I'm going to catch up on housework, go to water aerobics and have some fun. No serious academic stuff for me -- my brain needs a break.

ok... this is weird... for the debate folks out there...

I'm in the coffee shop near BNCC.

Right across from me is a big, mean-looking version of Jim Hanson. He has a very similar face and haircut. His beard isn't nearly as nice and he's wearing shorts and scowling at his laptop, things I doubt Jim would do.

I'm a bit weirded out.

Summer semester by the numbers...

4 final exams to grade (the rest have earned their A... YEA!).
23 quizzes to grade
23 papers to read
35 grades to enter

.... and, this is the biggie....
1 more day to commute.
after we move we'll be VERY close to BNCC, so I won't have to get up really, really early to teach at 7:45! That is the BEST thing.... ever....

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

It's good thing we aren't bugged around here...

I'm finally used to having hubby back for the summer... When hubby and I are together we have fun/shocking conversations.

Today, with blind kitty yowling in the background, we had the following exchange:

Me: Did you arrange for the automatic acid drip for his head, he seems unusually happy... and you know how he hates to be happy...

Hubby: No, but I did set up the trip-wires for the booby-traps that will impale him on the spikes I installed under the coffee table.

Me: good, we wouldn't want to lower his paranoia level or leave him without something to complain about...

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

taking the good with the bad...

the bad --
There is one student who is making me a bit nuts this semester.... The thing is that I feel guilty that this person is making me crazy -- because it is clear to me that this person's native language isn't English and that they probably have some developmental challenges I don't understand.

On the other hand, the students with disabilities office doesn't seem invovled with this person, so perhaps the challenges are physical and not intellectual.

One way or the other, this person just seems to be oblivious to what is going on in class -- and makes no obvious (to me) effort to correct the situation. This makes me irritated because it is like they aren't trying. I can understand someone failing this class, it is hard, but not trying isn't acceptable.

I suppose it really makes me angry /frustrated because I tried really hard to teach this person and my suggestions were either ignored or otherwise dismissed. I suppose it is possible that the person didn't understand my directions, but then they need to ask questions to get at what I mean. Don't just nodd your head and then not do it!

the good --
A short conversation with a decent student today who earned her A in the class. She didn't get it at first, she struggled, asked questions and worked hard -- and performed. I suggested she take some honors classes and she said she didn't think she was honors material... well, honestly, if she isn't then I don't know who is honors material.

She's smart, she works hard and she gets into abstract material. Her flaw is that she underestimates her own abilities... Who wouldn't want that kind of student??

After a bit we started talking about the nature of college, how it is about getting yourself into intellectual hot water by finding ideas and areas of study that are challenging. We discussed why a college education is valued by employers and decided that the exposure to situations and new ideas that comes with a college education is the most important thing you can have as an employee, because it gives you a set of resources to use in problem solving...

Finally we discussed her plans for a major (finance) and her love (chemistry). I told her that she should get out and get a good job in finance so she can save her money to do what she wants to do, like go to grad school. I really hope she does save some money and that she goes to grad school in the hard sciences. She's smart, funny, ambitious and becoming more and more fearless... what more could you ask in a scientist?

I feel good today because I did a small bit to increase the cognitive diversity in science...

Monday, June 25, 2007

a bit of sex-positive feminism I'll leave out of my paper...

...from Sex and the City

Samantha: If we perpetually gave men blow-jobs, we'd rule the world.
Carrie: and we'd have our hands free to great dignitaries.

Probably true.

scrambled work dreams

Somehow in my dream just now my current Academic VP was working with me in the hair industry. We were making guacamole in the office of a friend of mine from Chicago...

in other news, New Kitty says:

by flopping down on the keyboard.

Time to start the last week of the teaching marathon that started in January.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

21 years ago yesterday...

June 23, 1986 my passport stamp says that I returned to the US from a trip to Germany and Austria with my mom, aunt, sister and cousin.

I only noticed because my old passport came back with my new enhanced passport.

I remember being more or less on German time for a while that summer, so I got up early and took walks around the lake. I recall hanging out with a girl who was from Germany (at the time West Germany, yea, I'm old) -- She was living here with her father and going to school with us. Her father decided she was getting too Americanized and sent her back. I'd google her, but I don't remember her name. I wonder what happened to her?

That was also the summer that hubby went into the military. I remember him being the first phone call we got when we got home. He didn't seem to believe me when I said we'd been in Europe for three weeks, but he wanted to see me before he went to boot camp. We had a fun week and then he went away -- and didn't pop back into my life until Christmas of 1989.

Got my passport!!

It has been a long time since I've had a valid passport. The new one is much more interesting than my old one, but the photo is significantly worse -- somehow they managed to transform a decent passport photo and make it look like I've just had a severe sunburn.

Oh well -- at least I have it -- now I can go to Canada.

Friday, June 22, 2007

I love the internet...

While camping last weekend I sprayed bug spray on my feet.

That bug spray is the amazing new stuff that doesn't leave you stinky or sticky, but does repell the bugs... It works -- and it also contains cornstarch or baby powder that won't come off of my favorite red birkenstocks...

I now have a new favorite pair of camping birks but I need a new pair of birks I can wear in civilization.


I found exactly what I wanted -- Deep red three-strap (Florida??) style birks.

They offer free overnight shipping and if they don't fit, their return policy is excellent (according to Mom)

I expect to see them on Monday.

I am excited... and all I had to do to get hubby to pay for them was to promise to give away the birks I own but am not wearing.

I suppose that is reasonable.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

SAT analogy time...

Mom, Hubby and I were in the car talking about how he's liked his first year of teaching...

Hubby was saying he likes the teaching part, doesn't like the grading part... (ummm, duh... who likes the grading part?)

Mom's reaction was more or less to say that nursing is the same way, she likes the nursing part but doesn't like the wiping up dirty bottoms part.

So, grading is to teaching like wiping dirty bottoms is to nursing.

got it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Class update...

Ethics -- I kind of doubt they are doing the reading at this point, but we are having decent discussions about the economic justice topic. Next time we'll discuss "Nickle and Dimed", which should be interesting, especially since the wife of one of my students runs her own house cleaning business.

Side note: My student's wife works in the area we'll be moving to in August -- YEA! I was a bit iffy on the last cleaner, as she didn't do some things I thought were basic and that I did when I was cleaning houses -- like make the bed, clean ceiling fans and wipe the inside of the fridge door.... and she was coming from across town, so it wasn't convenint for her AND her boss was very difficult to deal with on the phone. I was never sure it wasn't a "Merry Maids" kind of situaiton -- but, I know that my student's wife is a genuine small business and that she pays her employees 45% of what she bids to clean the place. I also like that she bids on the job and doesn't charge by the hour, so whether or not someone is a slow cleaner doesn't change what I get done.

Logic -- Sometimes students just go beyond what you think they'll do. This group of 10 may be the first group to get almost all As in the class. The class started at 12, 2 students droped the class, but were doing fine when then did -- so who knows why they left... Nine of the The remaining ten are really getting it. The outlier seems to be trying hard, but I think some cognitive and language issues are making it really hard. The other Nine are doing at least the medium to difficult problems in the most advanced section.

I'm really proud of them -- especially a girl I'll call M. M didn't get it, really, really, really didn't get it. She's one of those nice, social and funny people who hasn't disciplined her thinking and wasn't used to doing so. In the past couple of weeks she's tried very hard to understand the material, having done poorly on a couple of quizzes, and she actually got it. In the last few class periods she's been the one telling me how to solve the problems we are working on, she's come up with intersting and innovative solutions and generally she's got it.

Even Miss R -- (i.e. Miss Resistent) is getting into it and solving problems. She asks excellent questions and gets to the heart of what she doesn't understand when she asks them. I think I like her style of student and I think as an undergrad I was like her, but a bit less vocal about not having done the homework :).

It is nice to be near the end of the teaching marathon. I realized today that I haven't had a real break since before our debate tournament trip to Mountain State in January -- as Spring Break was spent doing two debate nationals... So, I'm ready for some summertime off.

Of course, we'll be moving in August-- but that is kind of soothing in comparison. I'm in control and it is just putting stuff in boxes or getting rid of stuff. It isn't trying to drive complex theoretical material into the minds of sleepy undergrads -- I'll go back to that from a new apartment :).

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A few random observations...

-- The tops of UPS trucks are now white. Probably to keep it from getting so hot inside... smart.

-- Recently it seems to me that making fun of GWB is just too easy... some would say it is like picking on the developmentally delayed kid in school, but it seems to me more like it is easy to be critical and that when easy criticism turns into cynicism, there is nothing he could possibly do right.

-- I work well on writing projects first thing in the morning. I wish I could regain that focus later in the day.

-- Our front driveway and parking have been ripped up for a month with no end in sight. This is because our management sucks. I'm glad to be moving.

-- Hubby and I own more camping stuff than some people own stuff. Bisquick now has a single-batch system where you add water to the container, shake and make pancakes.. This is great for camping, not so efficient at home.

-- BN state in the summer is great! I'm very happy to be staying in the state this month.... of course, hubby and I are planning a long weekend in NYC in October, since we have some free airline tickets and our Fall Breaks overlap... shock of shocks.. and we don't have to do debate tournaments anymore.... YEA.

-- (related) It is going to be odd to be in NYC and not Red State that weekend -- we've been at that tournament for 10 years and, while I won't miss seeing a certain someone there, I will miss seeing the original Dog Dad, Hubby's first debate coach and the generally fun group of people that end up there at that time. On the other hand, maybe I won't miss them that much...

-- We're going camping tomorrow for a couple of days. The JEEP is very happy about this. I have a few things to pack before we go, but hubby is doing the car load etc... so we can go as soon as I get home.

New pool.. wow!

Hubby and I went to a new location of our health club today. It is in a fast-growing suburb on the road to Red State.

It is really, really, really nice -- and huge. Like, the size of a small shopping mall huge.

The pool was the best part.

They have an indoor lap pool and an indoor recreational pool that has water slides, lap lanes and 0 depth on one side. The great thing about this is that the recreational pool gives the kids someplace to go so that they aren't wanting to mess around in MY LANE. I hate it when any people (big or small) get into MY LANE.

The really cool thing is that they have all the same stuff outside -- in a very similar configuration, only larger. Today I got to swim laps and do my own water aerobics class outside, not in some dank, half-dark kind of echoing room where creepy old guys sit in the sauna and whirlpool and watch you swim.

Also, the locker rooms and showers were nice, they have a large salon and caffe - etc...

What may be the best part is that their new location in Red State will be similar to this one. So, when I'm down to see hubby I can go to the good gym -- and when I'm home I'll have the choice between the close gym (which isn't bad, just isn't the good gym) and a longer drive to the good gym.

I can't wait until next week -- Mom is coming to spend the night on Tuesday and we'll go to water aerobics at the good gym on Wednesday morning.

After I'm done teaching I think I'll do the 9:00 class every morning. That ought to get me in shape in no time...

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Why don't my students believe me?

I think the problem is that other faculty members cry wolf....

not that their courses aren't hard for some students -- every course is. Rather, my logic course is simply hard. Very few students manage to do it without doing enough work to grasp the concepts. When I tell them it is hard, and I do -- over and over again, they don't believe me until about mid-term.

Then it is some kind of revelation for them... like today.

I was talking with an older student who said "yea, you told us it is hard, but everyone says that and their courses aren't hard, but your course really is hard."

For the first three weeks this student sent out the 'I'm resisting everything you say' vibe, along with the 'I don't understand this, didn't do my homework and it is your fault' vibe. She didn't get it, but at least she tried in class -- I think the challenge was enough to kick her into gear, and lo and behold she did her homework last weekend --- and she got it.

Maybe I really was exaggerating along with the rest of the faculty, and all she really needed to believe was that she should do her homework.

Monday, June 11, 2007

The Great American Pastime... or, how I ate 100% junk food for dinner...

BN state has two pro baseball teams... one Major League and one not...

We prefer the not.

Tonight we went to the Not-MLB field. The tickets, in excellent reserved seats were $10.00 apiece. The brats, lemonade and cheese curds were excellent and moderately priced -- and hubby went to get them for me.

The stadium is outdoors, and it was a perfect night for baseball -- The NMLB team was playing the team from Red State and Grad School City -- so, there was someone to cheer against :).

I'm not a huge baseball fan, we mostly go to these games for the fun, the announcers and the wacky stuff they do between innings. We sat in the stands, cheered on our home-town low-paid athletes and ate our brats. We were lucky to be on the shady side of the stadium and in a generally uncrowded part of the stands.

We left before the 7th inning, because we were tired and weren't all that interested in how the game came out. When we left, they were tied 2-2 -- but, we were done. We'd heard the announcer heckle the opposing team and we'd heard him announce a few passing trains and it was time to go home and go to sleep.

Not a bad way to spend a Monday night.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

New Kitty Update.. including photos

Here she is...
Posing as a towel.

And a paperweight

and a snuggle-buddy for Extra-Toes

and as desk toy.

Friday, June 08, 2007

The search for the perfect backpack...

Wise Woman and I had a conversation a while back that is resonating with me lately. She recounted a time when she was looking for the perfect backpack. She kept buying them and for some reason she'd need another because that one wasn't perfect. It became clear to her that she was looking for the backpack that would make her happy, but no backpack would make her happy if she wasn't already happy.

You can see why I call her Wise Woman.

For some reason I've been spending money like I'm printing it. I think I'm going after the perfect backpack or something and it has to change. If I had to guess, I'd say it is a habitual stress reaction to the first year of a long-distance relationship combined with dissertation stress. Neither of those things will go away with the purchases I've been making.

I'm going to put away the American Express card. The good thing about the AMEX is that it makes me pay the bill in full every month, which is much better than paying interest on the money and getting deeper into debt. The bad thing is that the end of the billing period is just far enough away that it doesn't quite seem real and thus I spend more than I should. This month, even with extra money for summer teaching, it will still take a huge chunk of my monthly salary to pay the bill. I end up being worried about being able to pay it, which adds to the stress loop.

So, for this month I'm going to live within my immediate means. I know that if I suck it up for the next four weeks, July will be easier because I won't have a huge AMEX bill to pay. That will get me off of the AMEX treadmill of using it for little things (that all add up, but that I HAVE to have), because I don't have the cash to get them...

I think this summer I'm going to work on developing a new habit of being better about money. Hubby and I make enough money to live nicely and we certainly make enough to do what we need to do as well as what we want to do.

If I can get in the habit of going to the gym AND get into good money habits, I'm only left with being a lazy housekeeper and lax about my writing... and I doubt those are going t change soon :).

Thursday, June 07, 2007

movies about sex.... as class prep

This week we talked about war, next week we'll talk about sex, porn and homosexuality. We might include sex-workers as well.

My class will read a variety of philosophical articles on sexual morality issues and then on Thursday we'll watch a movie.. so, the question is which one?

Do you have suggestions? Especially suggestions I can rent at BlockBuster :).

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

workout update...

About 2 weeks ago we joined a gym.

It is kind of expensive, but it is nice. There are plenty of machines, a nice pool and plenty of towels. They have classes, most of which are included in our membership fees, a cafe, free wi-fi and other nice things.

All of which is to say that they make it as easy as possible to exercise, and I've been doing it. So far I've developed a routine for working out in the pool that includes swimming and some water aerobics. I think this is my favorite thing to do, but it also takes more time than doing the treadmill. Hubby has played raquet ball a couple of times and plans to join a league.

It struck me today on the way out of the gym what a luxury it is to be able to exercise for recreation. We pay to go to the gym, we take unpaid time to move our bodies and we don't produce anything at the gym except sweat. We also have the energy to workout after working at our regular jobs.

Monday, June 04, 2007

one weekend down....

I've passed the first weekend of my goal of spending the whole month in the state.

Of course, I'm finding this a bit difficult, as I have itchy feet and am not used to staying put this long. On the first of the month hubby and I were having a discussion about my little goal and I tried to reason that I should be able to start my month in BN state starting in mid-may -- the day we came back from the city of wind and cheese state.

Hubby, a lawyer / debater at heart, told me my stated goal was for the month of June, not 30 consecutive days.

Of course, not 10 minutes later he was discussing a trip to Canada -- provided we reach some of our own writing goals and our passports arrive when expected....

Sunday, June 03, 2007

I wonder...

How much time I've spent doing the following....

looking out the window in the dissertation chamber?

staring at my lava lamps, either on my desk at school or in the dissertation chamber?

looking up at the ceiling in the dissertation chamber?

picking up, petting and putting cats off of my desk in the dissertation chamber?

It seems like a lot of philosophy is done while staring off into space...

Friday, June 01, 2007

signed the lease...

We've signed the lease on our new place.

For those of you who know me in real life (whatever that is :)...

If you go from BNCC to the interstate, cross the interstate and take a left by the gas station, you'll be at our new complex in about 30 seconds... My commute is going from 20-30 minutes to 1-2 minutes.


Yea, it will be worth the summer classes in November when I teach at 7:45...

New Kitty adventures, photos to follow...

Once I have an hour or so to deal with iphoto, I'll post a few New Kitty photos.

For the meantime, why does she want to get out into the hall??

Why would she want to walk on top of the bookcases in EVERY room (we're both academics and have lots of books)...

Why would she want to walk (three times) on top of the shower door?

Why doesn't she fall off of any of these places?

I really don't get it -- she's odd.