Monday, March 31, 2008

Fantasy vs. reality....

I'm having an interesting e-mail exchange...

Superior says, "I'm not happy with X".... with the not so subtle implication that X is at least partially my fault.

I send one e-mail in reply with a couple of reasons X may have happened -- and suggesting that X was the choice of the person involved, just like Y was my choice.

Then -- I look on-line to see if X actually IS the case ---

and it isn't. This isn't a case of interpretation -- it is a case of a quick mouse-click and a small amount of counting to see if it is or is not the case..... and it isn't.

Who wants to bet that Superior won't really accept that X isn't the case?

Worries about distant relatives....

When I hear about tragedies in far away places, I have a pang of worry that someone I love might be involved in the tragedy... For example, hubby teases me about being worried that after the Omaha mall shooting, the shooter got to his house and was holding him hostage.

I just heard a radio story about a fireworks accident at an Orlando area Wrestle-mania event.

I have a number of relatives in Orlando...

but, I'm not worried that they were there.

Mother Nature -- I cry UNCLE!!!

Dear Mother Nature,

What's wrong? -- you are so cranky with BN state lately...

Today is the last day of March --- tomorrow is know, the month we are supposed to have buds on the trees, tender green grass and the end of winter!

In fact, you and the weather people must be cooperating -- because they are making up new warnings... I've never heard them give a "heavy snow warning" -- not a 'winter storm warning or watch', not a 'blizzard warning' or anything like that...

As it is, I'm sitting here with ProfGrrrl's postcard (which looks warm) a vase full of tulips and SNOW outside.

I've had enough. I'm over it. If I weren't so darned ethical I'd call in sick tomorrow just to avoid the snow.

Is this EVER going to stop?

Am I going to spend my dissertation "summer" looking out at the white stuff?

Am I going to be trapped in my apartment while several feet of snow pile up outside?

Is this going to be the first year the outdoor pools won't open, and I'll be stuck doing water aerobics inside all summer?

come on -- give us a break.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

If you love debating.... leave for a while

So -- tonight there are only four debaters left in the tournament.

--- and there are a lot of new former debaters.

--- and you were good, really good. The best, even for a couple of years... judges voted for you, competitors loved you -- you were popular, maybe for the first time in your life.

Just like all the seniors before you.

And just like this year's sophomores and juniors will be next year.

It is tempting to hang around, coach or judge. To be part of the 'community' -- whatever that means.

Instead --- you should get out... go away. Do something amazing or mundane... but, leave.

The thing is, you'll never love it more than you did this morning -- and in a year or two your arguments will be forgotten -- and in three or four years, nobody will be competing that you competed against.

In 8 or so, some snarky little pip-squeek will say you've never had a connection to debate -- even when you did much better than he ever did at the big tournament.

So -- go, learn something new, move to a new city, get out and see what the rest of the world does on the weekend.

If you really love it, go get a PhD in comm and THEN get a coaching job.... or, at least take a couple years off between now and your MA / assistant coaching position.

The thing is, the coaches who will hire you will also remember you in a year or two. They'll remember judging you (or they'll look up your NPTE record). They'll ask around, call your old coach and then take a good guess at whether or not you'll be a good coach for their program.

And -- if you leave and return, you'll know you are doing it because it is what you want to do -- not because it is all you CAN do.

Let's hear it for the women....

Common wisdom says that female/female debate teams don't win.

The reasons are complicated, including sexist notions about how women should communicate and the fact that women don't often stay in debate long enough and focus on it enough to be highly competitive...

but, the bit tournament has a female/female team in the top 8 (at least one, as there are two teams I don't know...).

They are up against seniors who have been uber-competitive for four years ---- so beating them won't be easy.

On the plus side, what I know of the 5-person panel leads me to think that the panel is a pretty good one for their style.

So -- go FM!!!

NPDA, the saga continues....

It seems there was an appeal of the late round last night.... so, they're already starting late.

I feel bad for those folks out in Colorado... I'm sure the appeals are probably valid appeals --- but, the whole tournament is getting bogged down with them.

I have lots of friends out there, just wanting to get on with it. The build-up of nervous energy is really draining.... the students get their adrenaline going and it doesn't turn off when there is a delay.

Even though some people put NPTE and NPDA in some kind of bizarre competition -- I don't see it that way... I wanted them to have a good tournament. I wanted my coach and competitor friends to enjoy a smoothly run tournament and to have fun together. As it is, I suppose they have plenty of time to hang out and talk -- but, the point is to be debating... they can talk later.

So -- I wish y'all good luck out there --- and I hope it gets moving soon.

Updated to add... postings are supposed to be ready at 10:00.... 90 minutes late, ouch -- that is a hard way to start the day.

Oh lord, what now -- NPDA style....

So my pals in Colorado finally got their last elimination round of the night off...

It was late, but now it is done....

or, not ---- it seems that there is a protest (or perhaps more than one) that couldn't be settled last night. So the results aren't final and thus they can't make the 'judges needed in the morning' list.

I'm sure this is stressful for the teams involved -- while most of the tournament knows if they are eliminated or not -- the teams in the protest round(s?) don't... and probably won't find out until they arrive at the tournament.

Also, this will lead to a bunch of judge 'confusion' -- Many judges will drink anyway and either not show up or show up drunk/hungover. They'll be making terrible decisions they can't explain --- which makes me much more angry than I can express here....

Last time the protests were about the 25 minute forfeit rule (you have 25 minutes to prepare your arguments on the new resolution AND get to the debating room... teams aren't really good at the getting to the debating room part of that). I wonder what this is about.....

Saturday, March 29, 2008

"Be Kind, Rewind"

I finally got around to seeing "Be Kind, Rewind"...

It is a really nice little movie -- funny when it should be, and generally a nice movie in the tradition of 'come on kids, let's put on a show'.

I usually really HATE Jack Black -- but, in this movie he was fun, funny and kind of sweet.

There is no sex and very little -- if any -- profanity.

This isn't an intellectually challenging movie, or one that will change the world -- but, if you like movies, see it.... their "sweeding" of the movies alone is worth seeing the flick.

Wow.... my poor pals in Colorado....

post went poof.. because it was wrong....

but, they're finally getting to round 7 --- about 2:30ish their time... this was the round that was supposed to be posted at 10:40 am...

Good luck y'all --- find the energy and stamina to compete...

Lions and 'spiders' and protests, oh my....

First -- yes, I know it is 'lions and tigers and bears' -- but, 'lions and 'spiders' an bears' is an NCIS reference....

So, now it seems the big national tournament is running pretty far behind -- they are still stalled...

but, I'm confused, I thought democracy was supposed to solve these problems.


Still happy not to be at NPDA...

I'll readily admit to watching NPDA from home (they post the debate assignment sheets and results on-line to keep the tournament working)...... I watch because D1 is competing and I like quite a few of the coaches and debaters at the tournament, so I'm interested in how they are doing.

Watching from home also means that I am seeing them have a pretty long delay... I'd guess they'll be nearly a full round behind by the time the problem is resolved.

For the sake of my buddies out there in Colorado, I hope they get things moving --

Friday, March 28, 2008

Well, that was fun....

Tonight I had drinks and some munchies with 5 philosophers from a variety of BN state CCs.

We have a lot in common and want to do this the fourth Friday of every month....

It was a great chance to meet new people. It is a lovely bonus that they are people with whom I have much in common, and to whom I don't need to explain my job.

Now that we've had a chance to get to know one another --- we are going to aim at having a topic area for discussion.

This was such a good idea, I wish it were mine :). If the group holds together, they'll get blognames......

Some people are pathetic

... and deserve to be toilet papered...

that is all.

Not at NPDA Nationals....

The last 10 years I've coached teams at the big debate nationals.

Today is the first day of the tournament.... about now, in Colorado, alarms are going off in debaters' hotel rooms. They're stumbling into the shower and trying to get it together.

Everyone is battling some degree of the nerves... Freshmen are worried that they won't win any rounds or that they won't make elimination rounds. Seniors are hoping this year will be 'the year'. Coaches are hoping the tournament doesn't go tragically wrong, as those who have been at it as long as I was have seen this one go really, really badly.

One of the best things about coaching was taking a freshman team to nationals. Last year, despite significant personality conflicts, I was really proud of Swear Jar and Sunshine --- they were eligible for elims until the last prelim round -- where they got beat by D2 and the Dynamo. I was even more proud of Sunshine, D2 and the Dynamo that they could be friends afterward -- and had they not missed the closing time of nature at Pike's Peak, I would never have met the park rangers....

The first set of postings will go up in a couple of hours -- the first round will be announced, cases will be prepped and a whole flock of debaters and judges will scramble to find their rooms. They'll do 5 rounds today, 3 more preliminary rounds tomorrow and a couple of elimination rounds... by Sunday 200+ teams will be down to 32.

I've had several teams in the top 32 -- and higher (hubby was eliminated from the top 4 without debating his junior year... the other team was in finals) -- and getting there requires more than a little luck. Many, many, many excellent teams will be knocked out of the tournament tomorrow night... and more than a few of them could replace those in the top 32 with no change in the level of debate.

If I could give some advise to everyone at the tournament -- do what you can to relax and have fun. It is a special thing to go to nationals --- something you'll never forget. Take a minute to absorb it, to really experience it -- you are coaching/debating for a national title -- that is pretty awesome, even if you don't win it.

Today -- I'm going to the gym this morning, I'll do some errands and come home to work this afternoon. Tonight I'm going for drinks and some food with a bunch of other philosophers....

This weekend I'll be doing dissertation work, a bit of laundry and some other stuff.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

New Kitty and the avocado

First of all, New Kitty is on my 'list'.

Sure, she's generally sweet as well as being nice to Blind Kitty..

but, I'm jealous that she comes when Cat Sitter calls her --- but not when I do. I suppose the fact that Cat Sitter gave her catnip bubbles may help -- but, I'm sure she likes Cat Sitter better because their real names rhyme... and "mom cat" and "dad cat" don't rhyme...

Also, I want to know what she has against my avocado...

My avocado was minding its own business sitting on the island in the kitchen (yep, my apartment kitchen has an island -- it is why we rented the place...) -- when New Kitty decided it was a toy and started to bat it around... and then she knocked it off the island and into the trash.

It's a good thing I was home when she did it -- as I would have been really mystified as to where it went otherwise -- hubby isn't home, and even if he were, he doesn't eat them.....

Still, I want to know what she has against an innocent avocado.

---- yea, I know it is content free... but, I'm tired of ranting about debaters and Generation ME... and I spent way too much time on campus today, so my brain is tired.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

RIP, orange grading pen...

I used up my favorite orange pen...

It makes mean comments on papers (I have little control) -- but, the comments are also right-on and usually what the students need to hear.

It quickly grades logic quizzes -- giving no mercy to stupid logical errors...

I'll miss it.

The green pen just isn't the same -- it is more interested in hugging trees and saving the planet than giving scathing comments and entertaining me.

A hypothetical marriage question...

So, say for instance that you are a 20-something guy.

You've been living with and living off of your stripper girlfriend for a couple of years, at least...

One of your grandparents is ill and would like to see you married before they die...

Is marrying your stripper girlfriend the way to make the grandparent happy?

Do you think the grandparent would be proud to know that you won't work enough to buy her the ring -- So, the wedding ring was purchased with money from earned by stripping?

Is this really ok?

Not that I'm at all against stripping or strippers...but, I don't like to see them supporting no-good men.

Job market question for the English Lit folks out there...

Here's the scoop -- I do water aerobics with the mother of someone who teaches English Lit and comp at the college level on the East Coast.

His mother told me the following things today in the locker room --- which don't seem to add up.

1) He's currently working on his dissertation and he has no other PhD.
[I asked when he was going to defend, she didn't think he was that far along.]
2) "With his qualifications, I'd expect him to be teaching at Princeton."
3) He got many good offers from a variety of prestigious schools .
4) He decided to teach at a CC.
5) He's making more money at the CC --(which makes sense if he was an adjunct someplace or offered adjunct sections).
6) He has plenty of time to publish.
7) He's more or less in charge of the department --- this is his first year at the CC.

It sounds to me that mom is getting the sunny side of things -- perhaps her boy-genius got tenure-track offers from highly ranked schools ABD, but from the sounds of things he's blowing sunshine up her backside to keep her off his back.

I'm not about to blow his cover -- because I suspect his parents made plenty of money in business and she'd give him a hard time if he wasn't successful in her eyes --

but, for my own information -- is this scenario likely?

You know that student....

... who just doesn't get it.

This one sits near the front, but is in his own little world.

He's a bit older and I sometimes wonder if he's had prolonged exposure to party chemicals -- because he often acts like the stereotypical old stoner-guy.

I sometimes feel bad for snapping at him when he asks a question I've just answered, or when I have to tell him that 'no, you can't take a break right now, I'm about to re-start class' -- which I do because I know that if I let him go, I'll spend the rest of the night answering questions about what I said when he was gone....

On the other hand, I can see the class reaction to him -- when he can't. I have to respect them, they are nicer about it than my younger day classes -- but, after a while I can see why they get irritated when he opens his mouth.

sigh -- I can't wait until May.

Lush in the gym bag...

I just spent a bit of money at the Lush at THE MALL.... enough to get one of their black cloth bags.... and a free shampoo bar.

The reason I went this time is that I think the solid stuff will be amazingly good in my gym bag and for travel, so -- of course, I needed more of it.

The person working said she remembered me from the last time....

is it bad when the Lush clerk knows you?

Saying no.... to the dean...

My Dean is usually quite nice and pleasant...

and what she suggested wasn't something terrible -- although she did suggest that I get involved with BICC (big icky college committee).

BICC commitment, for a faculty member, means about a 3 hour commitment EVERY WEEK. That is the same requirement as for a course -- without release time of any sort, at least not for the committee members. Administrators attend meetings every other week, but faculty members do mentoring every week....

anyway, I was expressing a couple of concerns AND I wanted to get them to define 'writing intensive' -- which is a big deal, it turns out... and she suggested I get on the committee...

and I resisted.

I told her that the time it meets would interrupt my dissertation time -- and that I just couldn't do it until I was 'Inside the Philosophy Factory, PhD'.

I'm pretty darned proud of myself... it isn't easy to say no, especially to this dean -- and I did so without hesitation and without any kind of problem.

Mother Nature didn't get the memo...

They are forecasting snow for tomorrow.

According to the radio weatherperson, this time last year it was 81degrees.

.... I suppose this is due to global warming?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Ask nicely, or I won't respond...

So -- it is now really funny to me to watch the little brats on the forum try to stir stuff up. When nobody seems to be agreeing with them, they post elsewhere and try to get something going...

When they ask demeaning questions in snotty ways, I've decided that I just won't answer them. If they actually want to know the answers to the questions, they can ask nicely or forget getting an answer from me.

I'm not about to dignify their tactics with a response.

Frankly, I do hope their asshat-ness comes back to bite them in the butt. I'd love to be on a hiring committee or some kind of interview committee and watch them get nauseated when they realize that I'll have something to say about their future -- 'cuz it wouldn't be good. I don't forget... and, all the nasty people are male -- so the chances of their changing their names is pretty small... and my memory is really, really long.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Corn State Report....

It is still there... all of it... really.

There isn't much snow in it -- just that dirty stuff that lingers in the shadows.

BNstate got a bunch of new snow--- especially a bit south.

Outside my office window looks like mid-winter....

but, I wore my sandals anyway.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!!

David Sederis ( I think that his how his name is spelled) does a really funny monologue about describing Easter traditions -- the setting is his class on how to speak French... conducted in Paris. They are trying to explain Easter to a Muslim woman and end up in a fight about the logic behind the Easter Bunny and the French idea of flying bells..

So, however you are celebrating or not celebrating this holiday...

Whether or not your candy came via bunny...

or whether or not you can eat a PEEP....

have a good day --- Hubby and I are spending ours in our PJs -- with a simple dinner...

Friday, March 21, 2008

The purpose of a debate coach...

I'm pretty much over the punks on the forum... but, it has lead me to think about some interesting aspects of debate, and this time it is the relationship between the coach and their students.

One school of thought seems to put the coach and students in a peer to peer relationship. Thus, the coach is somehow on the team and their function as a team member is to facilitate travel, get money from the school and lend their knowledge in recruiting and then training debaters. This is the sort of coach who drinks with his students, defends them no matter what they say, and doesn't see themselves as anything more than a moderator of the group.

The opposite school of thought sees the coach more like an instructor who takes her class on extended field trips. There is a closeness between coach and student that isn't possible without extended contact and travel, but in the end, there is a definite difference between the coach and the student -- and both know it. They aren't peers and the purpose of this sort of coach is to improve the debate skills of the debater and to assure the continued existence and competitiveness of their current and future students. This sort of coach would rarely, if ever drink with her students and if those students behaved badly in public (either in a forum or face to face) that coach would call the student out on it.

There are pros and cons to each side -- and many, if not most coaches fall somewhere in between. it is also, clearly the case that administration and those providing debate travel budgets want to think their coaches are not in the first category ---

It seems to me that coaches have a significant amount of responsibility -- (whether or not they want to admit it). That responsibility begins with the fact that they are a traveling representative of their institution's faculty. Their behavior sends signals to other faculty members and those faculty members make judgments accordingly.

Second, debate coaches have responsibilities to their individual students. Among those responsibilities are those you'd expect -- making sure they get the skills and opportunity to debate. They also have the duty to help those students navigate the tricky years between high school and college graduation. Often students have difficulty there, either due to their own choices or their struggle for independence from their families -- but, it it seems to me that a good debate coach will help them navigate those tricky situations, and this often means having difficult conversations. Sometimes those conversations start with 'dude, you messed that up' and perhaps even end with 'maybe doing debate isn't right for you'...

Debate coaches also have a responsibility to their squad as a whole. I've seen many of my close debate coach friends make difficult decisions in which they tell an excellent debater and brilliant student that they are no longer welcome on the team. These conversations are generally necessary to preserve the squad -- and to insure that everyone on the squad has the best possible experience debating. This responsibility to the squad also includes managing the public image of their squad. So, it may include prohibitions on posting on forums, it may include dress and behavior requirements at tournaments or it may require having difficult conversations with students who make the squad look bad via their bad behavior. In debate, more than other areas of academia, perception is reality -- and if your squad reputation is some variation of the 'drunk and disorderly' sort -- that is the fault of the coach who refuses to take charge.

Finally, coaches have a responsibility to the community. They should make sure they are contributing to the ongoingness of the debate community and to the overall academic community to which they belong. Part of that may include traditional scholarly work such as writing papers and serving on committees, but it also includes communicating elements of the past to current squads. So, knowing answers about the history of debate organizations, knowing (even if you were elsewhere) what the debates in distant years looked like etc... This is because the only repository of knowledge about the history and development of debate lies in the coaches...

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spring has sprung...

I'm in Red State... the ice is melting off the body of water Hubby calls a lake and that I consider a pond. Having grown up on a real lake, I really love the water just as the ice is melting. The clear, cold water and the last gray, soft ice means spring to me.

In honor of Spring, I've started wearing my Birkenstock sandals... at least in casual situations. My blue polished toes are out for all the world to see :).

So far there aren't any leaves on the trees or flowers blooming, but the robins (with their big, fat red breasts) are hanging out and looking for worms.

When I came out of the gym today, still damp from the pool, I wasn't freezing like usual.

Next time I'm down may be the last time for the year --- Hubby and I will have to shoot hoops in the driveway and rake a bit...

yep -- spring is here and summer isn't far behind.

I need an on-line spokesperson

If I could hire a spokesperson to respond to the Forum stuff, it would be Dooce

She's much better at the necessary types of responses than am I. I bow to her greatness.

... and things blow over...

As usual -- forum BS ends as quickly as it started.

The newest non-person sent a quasi apology to hubby.... which is nice for hubby (and, really nice for me because I'll let hubby deal with him).

As usual, I wish the debaters, coaches and tournament administrators of NPDA well -- there is sure to be some kind of 'issue' for someone to complain about... I hope the security stuff works out, that nobody is arrested for doing drugs ON the campus of the USAFA and that everyone debates well.

Personally, I'll be watching from BN state and working on stuff.... which is why I stopped doing debate in the first place, so I could be a philosopher instead.

...and support comes from the most unexpected places..

This debate forum kerfflufle has been an interesting experience....

because it showed me where our actual friends are in the debate world, and they aren't where we thought they were.


Jason and I do appreciate that support -- even if we can't say so over there... so, thanks!

That said, I know there are many people out there whose coaches won't let them post on that forum. I know that if I still had a team, I wouldn't prohibit it, but I would strongly discourage it. I also know that if I had seniors, I'd try to disable their accounts for a few days after they drop from the tournament. I've seen too many decent debaters shoot their mouths off on the forum, in a fit of anger at how they were 'screwed', and those words are there forever.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Kick me when I'm down, why don't you...

I think the reason the forum nonsense hit me so hard is that it came at the end of a long and stressful weekend.

I was tired, I'd worked hard at a tournament I didn't have an entry for... so I didn't even get the coach-adrenaline rush I've had in the past.

I was cranky because I knew I had lots of stuff to do.

I was also tired because the trip started with a 6 hour drive after class to Red State and then an early morning flight out to the Pacific northwest.

and... because the person making the accusations had excellent access to information that would have answered his concerns.

Add to that the idea that it was personal and accused hubby and I of both being disconnected from debate AND voting as a block, which is untrue and if it were true is unethical..

yea, it upset me.

Especially when I think about how much debate has interfered in my actual philosophical career. Add to that the actual, out of pocket money hubby and I have spent to help students compete and it was really insulting -- like none of that counts.

Personally, I'd love to tell the little m-f exactly how much 'debate' owes us... from mileage on the Jeep to hotel costs, video tapes, a broken laptop, missed hours at work, food costs, tournament and co-op entry fees and even tuition for one brilliant debater in need. Don't tell me we haven't been connected to debate in the last 8 years.

Then it really sunk in -- and I realized what the little m-f would have to do to even come close to meeting my qualifications to sit on the board of a national tournament.... and I realized that after he starts two teams from scratch, teaches numerous college students to debate without high school experience and starts a kid from his intro to philosophy class on a career path that ends with two consecutive 8th place nationals finishes -- then, and only then, can the little m-f criticize me.

Until then, he's just another GenMEer with internet access and a vindictive, cruel and stupid personality.

The joys and pitfalls of cursing in the car...

The recent audacity and entitlement attitude of some GenMEers has irritated me (duh, if you are reading this, that much is clear).

Today, a particularly obnoxious bit came out into the forum just before I went to pick up hubby.

I got in the car and started to curse out the poster....

I was creative.

I was loud.

I was all alone...

and it felt great.

It is also gone, because I didn't write it down....

A sense of perspective

There has been a lot of verbosity, exaggeration and outrageous use of rhetoric to describe the impact of hubby's mistake last weekend.

It has been called horrendous, amazingly bad and so forth...

Folks, people getting raped, killed, mugged and discriminated against are amazingly bad.

Making a mistake that prevented someone from debating really sucks.

Having a system by which debaters with winning records aren't allowed to advance to elimination rounds is bad.

Having a system which doesn't break brackets, and thus forces someone to stop debating at nationals when they didn't lose a round is bad.

Having to debate a team you wouldn't otherwise have debated at that time in the tournament is unfortunate. It isn't the end of the world, it isn't really even all that unfair, as the team debated had the same record as the team they should have debated. Further, the way the bracket was calculated is one of THREE logically equivalent ways to determine the match.

and... it was only the end of the world because the team lost.

Maybe the best thing to come out of this hassle is that I now see the true character of the coward/enabler/coach. I've seen the temper tantrums and hysterical behavior before, but this one is just beyond my ability to overlook it.

So -- while the debater and coach in question don't have a sense of perspective, perhaps they've given one to me.

thanks guys...

On "democratize the NPTE"

Anybody who wrote that on a ballot last weekend ought to go to the NPDA business meeting.

For most of you, it would be your first time -- I know, I've been there and seen how democracy doesn't help. I also know that y'all weren't there. You were having fun, hanging with your pals or something.

The thing about democratic debate organizations is that everyone has an opinion about how things should go. Being debaters, they assume they are right and that their way will win.

You know what happens when a room full of these sorts gets together? NOTHING happens... because it can't be discussed adequately to get to a vote. Additionally, what's called the "majority cycling problem" happens, in which everyone thinks things should change but no one proposed solution gets a majority. As a result, you have an organization that becomes less and less responsive to changes in the way debate is done.

I know this because I've been at those business meetings. I watched as some tried to make changes, propose qualification systems or other innovations that would make the tournament more fair. They didn't pass -- if they got on the agenda at all... or, they'd get held over to the fall business meeting many of the proponents don't attend.

Do you want to know why NPTE is so good? Because it IS NOT a democracy. Yep, that's the reason. As a result, the board itself can make changes that may not be popular, but are right and work for future competitors. We can act quickly without having to consult the membership --- and we have the freedom to try to make things as competitive and fair as possible.

Hubby and I have been pretty careful about who we suggest as additions to the board. We try to pick people who are from a variety of kinds of schools, different regions and with enough experience to put their decisions in context. We selected some damm good people, don't you think? In fact, they are so good that y'all from that f-ing square state aren't asking for their resignation now, are you? I may be wrong, but after Jim, all the other additions to the board were proposed by Hubby and myself.

You know what, I was thinking about resigning. I was even contemplating doing it after this tournament. I'm much less likely to do so now ---for a couple of reasons.

First, I don't want to let you asshats win. I simply don't. I hate bullies and won't stand for them now that I'm 39 and don't give a hoot what you and your coward/bully coach think

Second, I don't want to try to persuade someone to take a position on the board right now. The way you've treated Hubby and I has shown your true selves and whomever would take my seat now knows exactly the heat and BS that comes with it.

Third, I want to prove that this really is a debate community. That being only one year out from having a team doesn't justify being shunned from the community. That would be a really terrible precedent to set. Many of your favorite judges are no longer associated directly with a program. They come back to a few tournaments per year to judge and be included in the community. If I'm "not connected" to the community, then they certainly aren't. It would be really bad to lose that experience and perspective from the judge pool.

Finally, I actually do want to see if some limited sort of democracy might work for the NPTE. If I resign now, that won't happen. The board will have to replace me (and Hubby) quickly, before the new set of rules revisions etc... happen. One of the proposals we will probably consider (if you bring it...) will be a form of democratic voice in the NPTE. I'll vote for a reasonable one -- but it is quite possible that the remaining members or my replacement won't do so.

Really, stop being such a jerk, go smoke something and relax a bit. You aren't helping yourself or your wider cause with this vendetta, and you are only making yourself look bad.

Civil Disobedience and debate, pt. 2

Let me begin this little tale by explaining the background...

BNstate (you know where BNCC is if you are old enough... you might have been there for NPTE) has a very small local circuit. More or less, it was us, fancy pants college, Catholic College, Good Baptist school and Small Lutheran school doing our kind of debate on a regular basis. Other schools would throw in a token team or two on occasion and come up with an entry for state, but they had no emphasis on debate and didn't travel the national circuit.

BNstate has also produced some excellent high school policy debaters, most of whom leave the state to compete. Some stay to compete with a couple of decent policy schools, but if they really want to be serious about college policy, they go elsewhere.

Hubby and I moved to BN state and I was hired to start the program at Catholic College (CC). I didn't work at Big Northern Community College (BNCC) until the next year -- where D1 and I started the team.... So, we start coaching at CC and preparing students for the small competitions at SL.... and we do so like we learned to do debate on the national circuit, via Red State (Hubby's current employer and BA school).

The national circuit practices included coaching debaters during their 15 minute prep time and later using files of information gathered to prepare cases.

SL thought this practice was pretty much going to ruin debate. They started putting rules in place at their tournaments -- but, like good Lutherans, they were very passive aggressive about it. The phrasing was something like, "teams are not expected to coach in preparation time or to use materials other than a dictionary in preparation time" -- It didn't say "expected not to" -- which is quite different from "not expected to"....

.... Snarky side comment that is kind of out of line -- The director of debate at SL got his BA at SL and debated for them, it is too bad that he didn't get a better education, or he'd have been able to proofread his invitation and realize that "not expected to" and "expected not to" mean very different things...... back to the original story...

So, the last time hubby and I went to SL's tournament and decided to do some coaching in prep. Our students weren't advanced enough (or were too lazy, really) to generate materials to be used in prep.... so our only violation was giving them some constructive advise during their preparation time.

...... explanation for the non-debaters -- "preparation time" is the 15 minutes between the reading of the resolution and the beginning of the debate. Each new resolution requires the team to prepare to support or defend the resolution. It is now normal for coaches and students to confer to some degree about what they'll run. We call this educational and helpful for debaters of all levels.... those who are against it think we are dictating cases to our debaters -- we've tried that at one tournament, it is a horrible idea and we never did it again... back to the story...

Hubby and I know that SL doesn't really approve of coaching in prep, so we did it in a discrete manner. We find corners or empty classrooms etc... We aren't in their face about it and we always get our own rounds started first. We also don't share our advanced knowledge of the resolution with our students, as that is cheating.

In the past two years we tried to discuss the coaching in prep practice with the SL leaders, to no avail. They don't even want to discuss why they object to the practice or hear why it might be a good and helpful thing. The fact that it increases access and increases the levels of both knowledge and case writing in debate fall on deaf ears. We suspect the real reason is that Hubby routinely beat the SL coach as a competitor.... but, never the less, we tried.

At the last SL tournament, SL director got dirty -- he claimed to have seen us coaching during prep for round 5 (but, he couldn't have... anyway), told our opponents and judges that coaching in prep is a reason to drop us -- and that the other team should make the arguments (ummm... isn't that coaching?). For round 6 (since he couldn't make the tab program work to do this) he hand wrote a round 6 posting that gave us judges he knew were very much against coaching in prep. We didn't coach in round 6 (and were very public about not doing so) and (we found later) those coaches dropped our debaters for actions done before round 5. When asked if coaching in prep impacted their decision, they got hostile.

So -- before we knew about breaks (remember, no disclosure of records either) we hatched a plan. The plan was simple -- If one or both of our teams broke, the first constructive speech would begin with a concession of the round. We'd then say that we are going to ignore the topic and begin a debate on the value of coaching in preparation time and allowing research materials in prep. The point was to set-up a situation in which the judges in the round would have to have those arguments played out in front of them... they may not listen to the arguments, but they couldn't help hearing about it.

Sadly, I can't tell you how it would have worked out -- because both of our teams were 3/3 -- with two of their three losses coming in the last two rounds. Some 3/3 teams broke, but we didn't have the speaks to do it....

We asked for our packet and left the tournament.

That was the last time we went back to a tournament run by SL. My last two years coaching, I took my students to two tournaments in-state. One was run by a nice but not exactly flexible TD who wanted to handle a large squad not showing up for the tournament by giving byes all over the place (as in, they were in about 1/2 the rounds, so 1/2 of the teams would have had un-earned wins...). Thank goodness Good Baptist's director convinced him to re-pair the tournament. The other was state -- where my best team was 1-3, my worst team was 2-2 and my middle team (but the sweet, smiley ones) broke to elims 3-1.

I had other reasons not to return to our state tournament -- but it didn't help that SL director tried to unilaterally impose his parli rules into the state rule set. I caught him and GB's director made him take them out AND posted corrections with the pairings....

Recently, SL announced that they have canceled a couple of their small tournaments because of lack of attendance. Often the difference between making it and not is a matter of two or three teams.

A major factor in my decision to stop coaching debate was that we had to travel so far for competitions. SL is practically local (90ish minutes), but since I held a firm belief that their tournaments were anti-educational AND a terrible experience for my debaters, I could not take or send my teams to them. As a result, I handed the program over to a wonderful policy coach.

So -- I suppose in the end SL got some punishment for their actions. It really is the case that if they hadn't had such stupid and anti-educational rules, their students would have been able to debate in the tournaments they canceled. It is also the case that if coaching and materials had been allowed all along, the level of debate would be higher and as such, the education gained in each round by the debaters would have been increased.

It is pretty clear how our planned action would have been a full act of civil-disobedience...

1) We identified a real problem with a real solution.
2) We tried to change the system from within (for two years or so, at least...).
3) Had we been advanced to the next round (or had the shenanigans began earlier in the tournament) we would have been civilly disobedient.
4) Our act of disobedience includes taking at least one punishment and may have resulted in others, which we would have accepted and publicized in order to make the point about the rules in place.

So, folks, debating about debate isn't new -- nor is civil disobedience in debate. The difference is that your recent actions weren't exactly costly or difficult for you, although I am still skeptical about how they can produce change...

On civil disobedience in debate, pt 1

Dear Debaters,

Debating about debate isn't new... really it isn't. We've been doing it for ages and things haven't changed as a result. There are several reasons for this, which is the purpose of this post.

The thing is, most 'projects' are akin to acts of civil disobedience... and the reason you aren't effective is that you aren't actually following the guidelines for civil disobedience... go read Letter From a Birmingham Jail

ok.... now, that you've seen there are several parts of civil disobedience 1) identification of the problem, 2) attempting to solve the problem within the system, 3) being disobedient, and 4) taking the punishment for your disobedience --let's talk about how you've tried to do it...

On Identifying the 'problem' (1)-- you've identified something you don't like about NPTE. OK -- but, is there a real problem to be solved, or simply something you don't like. Those things aren't the same. Are there any real harms to not having a democratically elected NPTE board? Do you think that just because someone is elected that they will somehow make better decisions about things? I kind of think not -- but, you think it is a problem, so what should you do about it?

That brings us to (2) working for a solution inside the system. That you didn't do. In fact, your coach has privileged access to the NPTE board and didn't use it to suggest your project. He still does read all of our private board discussions, even though he isn't on the board. He chimes in and often acts like the 6th, (unofficial) board member -- and he didn't make any such suggestion... didn't know that, did you? Also, as a former NPTE board member, he knows the procedures for change we've established AND he knows where our discussions about democratization have lead -- hmmm, didn't know that either did you? At least you could have made a formal proposal to the board, outlining concerns and solutions. You didn't do that, probably because debate projects are too much fun -- and a good excuse not to win the national title as seniors -- thus a way to keep your fragile egos intact. Way to be a GenMe-er... go read the book...

The next step (you know, the one you jumped to) is actually being disobedient (3) -- I suppose you did that. You ignored the side and topic norms and presented your "case" for democratization of the NPTE. But, from what I can understand, you didn't really articulate harms or solvency... you just gave your opinion. That was enough to win you some prelim rounds (probably because the other team agreed or you ended up with critics who like projects or didn't want to drop seniors) -- but I noticed that you were out pretty early in elim rounds... hmm. I was kind of happy to see that D1 beat you on a 3-0... Really, I'm not so sure what you hoped to accomplish -- that you couldn't have accomplished by discussing it between rounds, discussing it on-line or making a formal proposal to the board.

The final step is being punished for your disobedience (4) -- this you didn't do. You didn't even forfeit the round -- you didn't take ANY kind of punishment for your actions. In fact, your actions probably made you more popular among your peers -- because that is what it is really all about, no? Honestly, that is what I'll think until I see a formal proposal from you... you've had some feedback on what it should look like and consider, so the next step is yours. At any rate, you were pretty sure you'd get the ballot --- so you didn't take a risk with this project...

So -- at this point all you've been is naughty.

Stay tuned for a story from a few years ago about a planned act of debate civil disobedience that didn't get off the ground. The plan had all the elements --- and was hatched by Hubby....

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

how to make changes...

... one of the things I'm learning from the Generation ME book (Jean Twenge) is that Generation ME has been taught that self-esteem is all important and when that is somehow violated they become very angry.

Sadly, sometimes in debate people lose rounds -- in fact, at every tournament, in every round there is a winner and a loser. Sometimes people even give constructive (or not so constructive --oops, I just remembered another non-person) criticism to the losers.

I've noticed that over the last 10 years, the likelihood of debaters taking such information well has decreased. Recently, the incidents of debaters taking their anger out in on-line forums has increased.

This can't really be good for the event.... if trends continue, who will be willing to be honest?

BNCC e-mail conversion is f-d up...

If you know me and want to use my BNCC address to talk to me, you'll have to wait.

They replaced the software last weekend, saying it would be down for three days.

They did NOT tell us that the first time we logged in, we'd have to be on campus. There is also no notice of that in the on-line information or sign-in. I've been trying all day and finally called the help desk.

So -- if you need me, use my first name (given, spelled with a Y). my last name @gmail.

How perfect is that... not.

I wonder how they've done with the computer replacements we are supposed to get in our offices? I'm scared to think about it...

"debate is for the students"

Sorry that there are so many debate related posts here -- but it is what I'm thinking and really can't say elsewhere...

It is often claimed that, "debate is all about the debaters". I absolutely agree. Without students benefiting from the activity, there is no reason to do it. Coaches and judges can find other ways to make less than minimum wage. Those of us who volunteer to run national tournaments could easily stay home all weekend and watch NCIS (or, heaven forbid write our dissertations).

Clearly, we do this for love and not money -- and the benefits we personally gain in terms of career and skills stop after about 3 years of coaching and judging. We've now learned to write fast, administer tournaments and listen to people screw up philosophical positions. In terms of judge 'education', we'd be better off spending the time we spend judging reading the New York Times, The Economist and the Onion on our own. It is more efficient to get the full story from the source than to have it be morphed into the debate format. We've met people from a variety of schools who might be able to give us a positive on-campus reference for jobs in our field... yea, that is about it.

So, the love is the love of students. We love smart students and we want them to learn. We want them to have the best and most fair competitive experience possible. We want them to be motivated to explore the world and keep up with current events. We want them to speak well and to formulate brilliant arguments in response to the arguments of others.

That does not mean that what the students WANT RIGHT NOW will achieve those things. Debate can, and should be done with the students' best interest in mind. That does not mean that what comes to the student/competitor mind is how it must be.

In fact, the longer those of us who are willing to hang around do so, the more insight and perspective we can bring to how things ought to work. A group of us started NPTE almost 9 years ago. We've just had our 8th national tournament. For those of you who are seniors in your last season, think about how much you've learned in the last 8 years of debate. That is how long NPTE has been in existence. Every year we've learned things as well. We've adapted and changed the rules, we've figured out a way to run a tournament that was good enough for you to want to get into... and we've had some experiences along the way that tell us that what students want isn't always in their best interest.

I know your attitude is very Generation ME. I'm reading the book right now, so y'all are making some sense. That doesn't mean that I (a Gen Xer) am going to give you your way.

Essentially, saying "debate is for the debaters" is like saying "medicine is for the patients" in that the medicine is supposed to improve the person, just like debate should improve the debater. The thing is, the folks in charge of debate are kind of like physicians. We'll listen to alternatives, we'll consider them in light of our significantly greater experience and preference and we'll do what is really in your best interest. That is the only way debate can really be about the debaters.

Some people don't exist in my world...

... really, there are three former people out there. They look like everyone else and I hope others treat them well. For me, they don't exist.

If you know me, you know that I'm a pretty even tempered person. I'm also pretty forgiving of faults and make plenty of mistakes myself. I hope that I'm able to laugh about them and learn from them -- which I try to do. I also like a wide variety of types of people -- y'all know how hubby and I are similar and different --- and our differences are sometimes surprising to those who know only one of us. I love people who challenge me and make me think --- and political differences that lead to world view differences (or vice versa) are fascinating to me. I also like people of vastly different cultures and religions -- or states of non-religion. As a quasi-Kantian I can even tolerate utilitarians...

But, some people just make me boil. There is nothing I can do about that once they get to that point. Interactions with them just spiral down and the only solution is to put those specific individuals in the 'non-person' category.

Usually these people start out as quasi-friends. I have acceptable interactions with them, perhaps even some level of fun and hanging-out activities. At some point things go south. I see that their world view and mine are so different as to be nearly offensive to be around -- and at that point I don't see the use in trying. I'd rather be alone than to be with them -- and I'd rather do all the work than have to do it with their help.

I don't tell them that they don't exist. There is no need to start any kind of continued interaction in which the non-existing person wants to argue with me and I tell them that they are wrong for this or that. It is a useless and hopeless waste of energy on my part. Frankly, I don't care what they do or don't do. It is no longer my concern. They can fall off the face of the earth, be abducted by aliens or cure HIV/Cancer and the common cold and I wouldn't be impressed or care one way or the other.

These people have taught me one thing -- the opposite of love isn't hate it is apathy. When they are non-persons I don't hate them, I am well past that -- I'm apathetic toward them and I won't interact with them.

It takes a lot to put someone on the 'non-existing' list -- In 39 years only three have managed to do it. They may even know one another or know of one another -- but I suppose they'll never know that they are their own exclusive little club -- and I feel no need to tell them, because that would mean talking to them.

... the consequences of being nasty in public forums...

... is that if you get what you want ( in this case, hubby's and my resignations) those who would replace us may not want to be open to your abuse.

Think carefully about what you ask for, you may well get it.

another debate thought...

There are many people who are coming out of the internet woodwork to support hubby and I.

Although we really can't say it over there -- we're reading what you're saying and love you for it.

If you are wondering if it helps us, it does.


debate reflection...

In 8 short years NPTKQRST has gone from being the Rebel Alliance to being the Evil Empire with hubby as Darth Vadar.

impressive, huh?

Monday, March 17, 2008

"Generation ME"

It is an amazing book -- and quite timely for me, in light of the debate community I've experienced this weekend.

Read it -- Generation ME is in our classrooms and offices.. The book is a pretty comprehensive AND readable explanation of research done on the traits of the students born after 1972 or so...

For me, a Gen Xer, it is a handy guidebook ---

To the debaters...

...who are being snarky on the forum...

Really, you know who you are and if you haven't looked- -- go take a peak -- I'll be here when you get back...

OK... no, you've seen how hubby and I are ruining debate. How the end of free speech and all that is good and smiley will end as a result of hubby and I helping to run one national tournament.

come on folks. Get a grip.

I want to know where you were 8 or 9 years ago?? In middle school or something, right??

I was part of a group that formed to discuss having a national tournament that included a qualification process. Hubby wrote the f-ing rules that started the whole damm thing. It was all his idea. Ask your coach -- he was in the forming group as well (but other circumstances may have impaired his memory).

In fact, the original board was democratically elected -- from people who cared enough about this activity to want to have a qualification based national tournament. Hubby and I are the only remaining board members who WERE ELECTED. We appointed the others and everyone in between.

I want to know where you were 7 years ago at the first tournament? I was paying my own way to Walla Walla to help out... or the next year when we drove ourselves out and paid our own expenses because NPTE was too poor to do so.

I want to know where you were in 2005? If you were at the tournament at all, you were outside the room where we were trying to determine how to interpret an ambiguously worded rule. We argued about it for quite a while, but we came to an agreement. Any of the 5 alternative interpretations would have been seen by an outsider like a 'rule change' (unless, of course we went with your own interpretation... ). It was far from any kind of clandestine secret meeting intended to screw over some debater or another... Really, if you want bad decisions and unethical behavior, look at some other national tournament I won't name ('cuz I'm not like that AND some of their f-ups are public knowledge too).

I want to know where you were during the last few business meetings of the already democratic debate championships? I know you weren't in the meeting working to make a better organization -- no, that would have interrupted your drinking time. I've been at most of them. Ask around about how functional that group is. I won't speak ill of them here, as they are trying to make a good debate tournament just like we are -- and under similar circumstances. Suffice it to say that there were many reasons we started a new organization.

I want to know where your cowardly coach has been for the past few years. If they've had a problem with hubby and I, he knows how to contact us. Further, for someone who calls himself our friend, he sure doesn't act like it. He could have voiced his concerns to us at any time. Our group has been VERY open to input, so you could have spoken to us about your concerns yourself. But, posting on the form is more fun... and doesn't require actually having to answer the questions we've had when we've previously discussed the issue.

I want to know where you were Saturday night -- oh yea, you were drinking while hubby and I were setting up the tournament for today, to make sure things ran on time. In fact, we're still working and sober while you are at the hotel drinking and posting stupid stuff on forums. I won't even comment on the fact that your cowardly coach was probably drinking with you like usual (good idea? -- drinking with undergrads when you are supposed to be the one in charge hmm --- y'all make the call...) and posting on the forum.

Where were you Sunday morning? I was here at 8:30 and sober because I waned to make sure you had a good tournament. You rolled in, ate some breakfast and proceeded to debate and complain -- it was just convenient for you th at you could do so at the same time.

Where were you Sunday afternoon? I was in a long and thoughtful meeting about how to correct an error made two rounds ago. We discussed and debated several alternatives and finally decided that the costs of the only real fix (essentially rolling the tournament back two rounds) wasn't worth the cost to the whole tournament. You complain that we had a long meeting, would you have rather had us decide quickly, cover it up and move on without any comment? In the end, we decided to apologize and get on with the tournament. As it was, we got back to the hotel at 2 AM -- would you like to still be debating today??

Here's the truth -- Hubby was using a really bad tab program that made an error -- and you think it is the end of the world. You debated a team 6 rankings better than you wouldn't have otherwise debated -- get over it. You lost the round. You'd have had to hit them sometime and if you couldn't beat them you wouldn't be national champs. Face the facts, your debate career is over ---- 'tis the season, people will be ending their careers left and right over the next three weeks -- you aren't the first and wouldn't be the last.

For your information, hubby got messed over way back by some screwy rules, so did he complain about it in public and demand the resignation of the people in charge?? No, he started this tournament you want to drive him out of. In fact, the stuff you like so much about this current tournament was a direct result of that -- don't tell me he isn't connected to debate and doesn't know it... he wrote the rules. It really doesn't get much better than that.

And the implication that being married somehow disqualifies one or both of us from serving on the board -- look around at many departments and other academic organizations -- couples occasionally work together to accomplish tasks. It doesn't mean that we vote as a block (like you'd know what happens) and it certainly doesn't mean that we have some kind of bizarre control over things.

I take the implication that I blindly follow hubby as a personal insult. Really, if you knew me at all, you'd know it wasn't the case. Further,the reason financial institutions don't allow relatives to serve as peers in positions of trust is because they are worried about embezzlement. F-ck, hubby and I are lucky to get all of our expenses back every year. Many years we've paid for the pens you twirl ourselves.... I can't even calculate how much money the tournament probably owes me. Neither of us is in control of the group's check book.

In fact, we've been doing most of the work (at large personal sacrifice) BECAUSE we want to let those coaches with teams in the tournament have the time to coach their teams... we get no thrill from having that kind of responsibility, really, we should be writing our dissertations and getting on with our lives. Instead, we spend our time and personal energy so that your entitled little asses can enjoy a tournament... and you turn around and attack us.


also -- for the record, the new user who is defending us DOES know what they are talking about... they were in the tab room for most of the tournament.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


D1 is still going strong....

Keep those good thoughts coming, this is the round he dropped in last year....

by all reports he's debating very well --

Send some good wishis D1's way...

D1 got his nickname because he was my first debater at BNCC...

He's a tall blond dude who is a little shy and wicked smart. He's also an amazing debater and a senior...

At NPKQUREAS he lost a close round in the first elimination round and now he needs to keep winning to stay in....

and -- if he wins (or if D2 wins a national tournament) I'll get a tattoo...

Of course, my real motivation for wanting him in finals is not to have write a final round ballot...

Thursday, March 13, 2008

bounce into Red State....

... and bounce right back out to the Pacific Northwest to do NPKQRSTLM nationals....

I arrived about 8:30 (lots of stops to wiggle, I was sleepy... and then I drove fast..).

Our flight out leaves at 6:45 AM.

We'll be back on Monday night, late.... and then I can start my first spring break without debaters --- really, I think I've been in some kind of debate prep on Spring Break for the last 10 years, which makes the school year really freaking long.

So, how will I spend my break ---

  • Grading late stuff --- because I said I'd do it when it was convenient for me.
  • Looking at new textbooks --- because I'm really not happy with my logic book -- and because I'm always looking for better ethics books.
  • Reading dissertation stuff -- trying to decide if it fits or not....
  • Reading for fun.
  • Sleeping and watching NCIS.
  • Crocheting.... I brought all my extra yarn, I wonder how much I'll use.
  • Going to the gym --- our BN state gym has a location here. It is really nice and not too far away. It is kind of weird, though, because it looks EXACTLY like the gym I go to in the summer with the outdoor pool. The locations both opened last June and were built from the same basic design.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Be careful on Mexican Grehound....

The photo isn't the greatest (I had to shoot it from inside the Mexicali bus on the way back from Tijuana) -- but, if you look closely, you'll see their Midwest geography is a bit off....

Feminism and political goals..

I don't often blog about politics -- and this isn't supposed to be directly about Clinton vs. Obama...

I love that Senator Clinton is a serious candidate (really, I don't know Hilary, so I think it is respectful to use her title...). She spent plenty of time supporting President Clinton and adjusting her career for him. She's a smart and passionate politician and from most reports, a good Senator.

Senator Obama (I don't know him either, so first names seem less than respectful) also seems to have had a great career in public service, although not as much time in government. He seems to be smart and passionate --- and from most reports, a good Senator.

It is an amazing choice the Democrats are able to make -- female or black man. Within my lifetime, the prospect of either being a serious Presidential candidate was slim...

The one blessing of having the primary/caucus season go on so long is that we've had a good chance to get to know them and their supporters. In a long race, the influence of political operators starts to wear off and we begin to see the real person.

When we elect a President, we are choosing a person who will use their own judgment to do what they think is best. As a public, we cannot predict the challenges a candidate will face, so knowing their current positions is only a partial guide to what they'll actually DO. What we are doing is picking someone whose character is important and will serve to guide and shape us in many ways...

I LOVE the fact that Senator Clinton is a serious candidate, for the top slot. That does not mean that I love her or will vote for her because she's a woman. That isn't want my brand of feminism is all about. I didn't support her in BNstate's caucus, because I thought Senator Obama would be a better candidate. It wasn't sexism, rather it was a choice of mine as to the candidate whose character I think will be a better guide for the country.

What REALLY bothers me is the idea that feminism = vote for the female candidate -- and failure to vote for the female candidate is an indication of sexism. That isn't what earlier generations of feminists wanted.

My grandma's sister was active in the push for the ERA -- I do wish my great aunt was alive (she'd be 105 years old... but she was sharp and feisty to the end) -- because I'd love to run the idea past her of voting for Senator Clinton based on gender. I think she'd laugh -- and say that the past system based on gender didn't do us much good, so why change the preferred gender but keep the same broken way of making decisions?

People I heart.... other than hubby...

I've discussed how much I like my colleagues ...

Since I spend a lot of time here complaining, there are a couple of other people I heart --- besides hubby...
  • UberTutor/Super Cat sitter -- really, a very cool person. She'll help me teach logic and stop by to see if the fur children are doing well.... and both the critters and the students are better for the interaction. She also has a good sense of humor, an amazing sense of perspective and a lot of motivation. I'm happy to have her in my life -- and seeing who she ends up to be when she grows up will be fascinating.
  • My new cleaning person -- She's a former student who works for herself cleaning houses. She came for the first time yesterday -- and was worth every penny. She'll come once a month until one of us moves... :). I have a lot of respect for her -- someone who is willing to work hard as an independent business person and go to school at night... and a dammed good cleaning person to boot...She takes pride in her work and there is something really good about that. I spent a short time cleaning other people's houses, so I understand that it is hard work and rewarding in its own way-- and she did a better job on my place than I did for other people...

On students 'not getting it'

Teaching logic is always tricky.... Every semester, about this time, I begin teaching logical proofs. Every semester varying numbers of the class understand how to complete one and then move on to learn more of the rules of induction and substitution rules ----

and a few of them "don't get it".

This semester I've started doing practice quizzes with my evening class. The concept is simple -- they do one problem, complete it and I grade it when they turn it in. I tell them if they have made a mistake (but not what the mistake is or what it should be... because the others would hear...). They are pass/fail and they need to pass 3 of 4 of them to be exempt from the final exam.

The catch is that if they don't pass the first time, they can come back after break to correct their error and work on more problems. If they pass, they get to go home early. As a motivator to work earlier than they normally would, this seems to be working out!!!

Last night my Uber-Tutor led a small group practice problem session in the classroom and I took the two who 'don't get it' into the hall to work on the basics. This was a smart move on my part... UT had a few more people, but they all got the basic process and could make progress on their own, so she'd help them along but didn't have to start over from scratch teaching them how to do proofs.

I took the hard two for some one-on-one time.... which is something I haven't had the chance to do before. Both of them failed the quiz and had received that quiz back last night -- and they were motivated to learn. After spending over an hour working with them, I've come to some conclusions....

First of all, they aren't dumb. I've had students who were just unable to complete the course because they didn't have the cognitive ability. These two seem to be averageish students, clearly not the intellectual shining stars (they were at home watching NCIS), but not at all the ones who shouldn't be in college.

I also don't think they are really lazy -- or they wouldn't have stayed. I'm not so sure they've both really tried as hard as they can, but I also don't think they know how hard they can try. That is often something my course teaches students -- and it it surely is what taking logic taught me -- exactly how hard I could work my brain to accomplish something way outside my comfort zone. And --in many ways they are lucky to come across a class that does this for them now, rather than in grad school when it happened to me....

I do think they haven't really absorbed the techniques I've been discussing in class to overcome the learning challenges involved with doing proofs. I don't think they thought they needed to do these things until they failed a quiz. I'm sure they haven't actually tried to do those things -- as when I explained them again, they acted as if the techniques were new...

I think they are easily frustrated. These are students for whom frustration leads to quitting.... So, when they can't make progress on a problem, they stop working problems all together -- instead of moving to the next one to see what they end up with.

They also seem to be unwilling or wary of taking intellectual risks. So, they don't write down something they think could be wrong, even if it is correct... These are the same students who may have a creative thought for a paper and take the safe path instead. They may have something unusual or provocative to say in class and not say it.

I'm sure these students are typical of the students who 'don't get it'.

I hope they learned something from me last night -- because I'm sure I've learned something from and about them.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

lovin' the traffic report this morning....

Ever since we moved close to campus, I've loved to listen to the traffic report... this morning was particularly amusing...

If I were on my regular commute, I would be delayed by an accident ... which is nothing new, especially since the rich neighborhood to our west has restrictions on both speed and trucks that force the trucks and a lot of traffic onto my old road -- (grr, really, the interstate has a 45MPH speed limit and semis aren't allowed, but on my older state highway the limit is 55 and LOTS of trucks -- but, it traverses the minority neighborhood...).

The fun part is the accident across town -- a semi-truck rollover. The truck was full of sunflower seeds. The seeds are all over the road.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Sometimes I wonder....

...what the deal is with my apartment management.

They reassigned our front door codes -- but didn't tell us about it. So, when the pizza guy came last weekend, he couldn't get in and hubby had to meet him downstairs. Today my back-up cat sitter came to meet the cats and it didn't work again... and I finally called them about it. They acted as if it was nothing unusual --- umm... there is a whole building with new door codes, you'd think keeping it a secret is a good idea?

The call also got us something we want...

When we moved in, they tried to put us in a parking slot that had been assigned -- so we took one quite a ways down and have been schlepping our stuff ever since. They promised we'd only be there for a little while, but then they forgot.... I don't really blame them.

Recently I noticed a much better slot seemed to be vacant -- so I asked if we could move -- and they gave me the ok... in fact, they told me to move into one that is much closer than the one I'd noticed was vacant. I do wonder how long our new spot has been vacant and who is going to try to move in there later---but, I'm there now and I'm not moving back... the new people can schlep..

Sunday, March 09, 2008

hints of spring...

  • I'm with a few of you, I like having more light in the evening... especially this week, as I'll be driving to Red State. It is quite possible that I'll be driving into the setting sun when I turn west, but that is much better than having it be pitch-dark well before I get to Corn State's only "city". Right now it is 7:00 and just starting to be twilight -- so, I'll be able to get most of the way to Hubby's before dark..
  • I'm sure I can handle the week before Spring Break -- it doesn't look all that bad... some discussions of proofs in logic, a discussion of animal rights and a debate about doing medical experiments on animals... not much to grade... yea, I can deal with that.
  • Wednesday I'm also having my first visit from my new cleaning person. She was one of my ethics students in my favorite class last semester... and one of my favorites in that class. During a class discussion she mentioned that she has her own business cleaning houses--- and I decided then and there that once grades were in, I'd hire her. She's pretty busy, so it has taken us a while to connect -- but, we've finally made a deal and she'll be here... YEA!
  • In many ways this has been a good winter -- mostly because we've always had some snow on the ground. I hate winter when it is really cold and brown outside -- a little white makes everything seem shiny and new, so it is ok...
  • On the other hand, spring will be a welcome break from the cold. I'm really looking forward to getting a little patio furniture and a few plants for my deck. I don't want many, but a couple of pots of flowers and a tomato plant would be wonderful.
  • I'm really, really, really looking forward to my gym opening the outdoor pool. Doing water aerobics outside in the morning is the best.. really, you get some sun, have fun and get in shape without getting hot, sweaty or dirty. Afterward we hang out in the hot tub and watch the families start their day at the pool. Yea, it will be good.
  • I have a lasagna in the oven -- I haven't made one for many years, so it should be fun -- tonight hubby and I will watch more of NCIS (we're close to the end of season 4, I think...). We've skipped a couple of episodes, but not many...
  • I finished our scarves this weekend. I made them in sections and then joined the sections together. Both are outrageously long, so I could probably have omitted a section or two, but the point of them was to keep warm when we are wearing our leather coats -- so I suppose long is good.
  • I'm starting on a random afghan, the only guidelines are that the sections will be as long as my crochet hook --- they'll be various widths and then I'll lay them out and hope it turns into an afghan... if it doesn't, I'll know what shapes to make to make it work out and I'll work them to fit... or, maybe I'll fill the gaps in with material or something... All the yarn is of similar weight and consistency, so it should go together ok...
  • I'm going to start another smaller afghan from the yarn I used on my scarf - it is really soft and fuzzy, so it isn't easy to work with. I'll make it in chunks too -- but it will be just big enough to go on my lap and over my knees -- maybe just down to my feet -- so I can use it in the office to cover my knees...

Friday, March 07, 2008

Feeling a bit odd...

....because I'm caught up at work.

I have some grading I could do -- BUT, I'm not going to do it because they are late or make-up exams and I want to make a point. I warned them about this in my syllabus and I'm sticking to it... I'm going to grade that stuff over Spring Break, so it all sits in a folder until then and I'm not looking at it. The students who took the exams and turned the papers in together got them back very quickly -- usually the next class meeting, or as with the 25 or so essay exam, two class meetings later -- but when they take the quiz or exam on their own time, I'll grade it when it is convenient.

My class prep is done for next week and my logic quizzes are written for the next section, which will take me until after break.

My Department Chair duties are light right now -- a new schedule will be out over break -- so, I have little to do until then.

I suppose this seems odd because over the last 10 years I've been coaching debaters for nationals in March. That means extra practices, research assignments and general work in terms of making arrangements etc... it also means all the complexity of coordinating and executing group travel plans. I don't have any of that to do.....

and it feels kind of odd --

Now that my Feminist Epistemology paper has passed and my Ancient Philosophy paper has passed -- I don't have to be concerned about revising them....

I have some dissertation stuff brewing in my head -- and I suspect it will come out on paper sooner or later -- but, in general, it is kind of a weird feeling not to have a gazillion things to do RIGHT NOW!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

more good news...

... the people I sent my paper to in November have decided it passes.


Now I can get on with the rest of the project...

I was really dreading a 'revise this one more time' response. I might have driven to Red State to deliver the fingers in person....

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

and now for something really depressing...

As seen at Just Me's place...

1. I can’t believe I’ve never…

been to New York City....

2. Every time I think about … I still cringe.

being drunk enough with my cousins to puke in my purse -- I was 25.....

3. I wish I’d …when I had the chance.

hung out more with my sister

4. I’ve never felt so out of place as when I…

first started graduate school.

5. … is/are my guiltiest pleasure.

The Millionaire Matchmaker

6. I hope … knows how grateful I am for …

hubby .... supporting me over a billion years of grad school

7. In my darkest hours, I secretly blame … for my dysfunction.

my father's death

8. … changed my life forever.
My sister's death

Monday, March 03, 2008

note to self...

Dear Self,

If someone who usually is very good about e-mail responses stops responding for a few weeks--- don't assume the worst...

Especially don't assume any of the following:
  • the person is dead and nobody thought to tell you.
  • the person hates you and never wants to hear from you again.
  • the person thinks you are an idiot and no response is possible.
  • that you are just being a neurotic grad student who needs to get a life.
  • that you are being jerked around like your blog-pal...
  • that you'd been kicked out of the 'club' and the person was waiting for you to get a formal letter telling you you'd been kicked out.
Instead, after a week or so without a response, use your g-mail account. It isn't beyond what is reasonable to think your BNCC account is screwed up, and you aren't getting the responses you've come to expect.

Really, self, you will save yourself much trauma this way.


lazy weekend...

After a wonderful meal at a really nice restaurant (Hubby's real birthday present --- the bill was in that range, y'all...), we've spent the rest of the weekend watching NCIS.

Seriously, I've seen almost all of the second season and most of the third....

Today we may leave the house ---if only to play mini-golf at THE mall...

Tomorrow, back to the usual.....