Friday, October 31, 2008

A day of chemo and other errands..

First -- a common sense question... If a professor cancels class, would you think they'll be doing their office hours?

Especially since there was a note on my door about no office hours -- Of course, this girl is double-dense -- and it seems as if she's survived so far by being kind of cute and nice.... She sent me an e-mail this morning saying she came to my office hours etc -- umm, duh, if you'd come to class you'd have seen that I wasn't there... do you really think I'd be there immediately AFTER class? Grrrr

I have four more chemo sessions left after this one.. YEA

I got my wedding rings re-sized (they were a bit tight and I can't wear tight stuff on my right hand/arm anymore, so I hadn't worn them since June...). It only took two hours or so and wasn't expensive... and it was so worthwhile... YEA!

We went to the grocery store for the stuff for a pork chop bake dinner. Mom makes this stuff that is kind of like corn stuffing and bakes the pork chops in the stuffing. Sounds like a perfect Halloween night meal.

We have Halloween candy -- I'll put the sign out on the door in a bit, who knows how many kids will show up... Of course, this requires restraining New Kitty for every knock, so while she's sleeping I'm going to put a leash on her. Old Kitty doesn't even look at the door, and if he did -- he's on the slow side so we could catch him pretty quickly.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I needed that...

... the day in bed, that is.

I snoozed, read and watched several episodes of the first season of Mad Men. If you want to see people smoking, drinking and having sex with their secretaries, this is the show for you!

On Mad Men--- wow -- the feminist in me wanted to scream so many times and the third-waver in me had to stop and realize how much power the women have on that show ---

In many ways I want the show to accurately reflect the attitudes of the time, so that I can say the feminists were f-ing right.

On the other hand, I don't want those attitudes to be accurate -- because so many women were discounted, used for sex and generally made to feel they were only worthwhile for their looks.

I'm probably going to use at least one episode in ethics to discuss cultural relativism and moral skepticism... those attitudes and behaviors were acceptable in that culture, but they no longer are...

Tomorrow is chemo, 5 left!

Calling in tired...

Fatigue is the major chemo side effect --- and I've been feeling it this week.

Add to that the fact that they give me a pretty decent dose of steroids with my chemo, to block the allergic reactions -- and the steroids give me insomnia for the weekend...

I need to take today to spend in bed with a cat or two and a book...

So, I'm calling in tired.

So -- so far for Cancer I'll have canceled two whole days of class. Many folks do that for the flu...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


I really can't say what is so frustrating...

Let me assure you that it does not involve:
  • BNCC in any way, including any administrators -- although, in the end, they might help resolve the problem.
  • My health -- that is all fine and good.
  • My sweet kitties...
  • Me, directly --
It is related to:
  • The financial crisis
  • Idiots who cannot plan for the future
  • Mean people who suck
  • Stupid-ass bureaucratic BS
Send generic good-vibes my way and I'll pass them on as needed.

My logic ladies...

My nighttime logic class is always a puzzle to me..

Overall, my male and female students perform about the same. My top students are a gender mix that is about the same as the class as a whole.

In the first few quizzes, the low scores are equally mixed as well.

But -- about this time of the semester, the students who choose to stay and get extra help -- and who need -- are women. It happens every time.

I suppose one reason for that is that the men give up instead of ask for help. Perhaps asking a female for more help isn't appealing either -- (I'm female as are both of my smart, amazing and dedicated tutors).

I also think my female students are simply less willing to take the class over -- and it isn't uncommon for my male students to be on their second time around in logic, so at this point their scores are better.

That isn't to say that I don't love my logic ladies -- or that they don't end up performing well on the exam, it is just a puzzle as to why the group is female.

Monday, October 27, 2008

RBO -- Good and bad at the end of October...

First -- the bad/sad...
  • The end of Hubby and I spending every weekend together... thanks to our trip to Red State and his Fall Break --- it has been really good to see him.
  • My sister would have been 37 today. Good memories of her, but today is hard -- I kind of want to go out and buy a Halloween cat birthday cake to eat in her honor, but I probably won't...
The Good...
  • Halloween = candy
  • My apartment allows Trick-or-Treaters... maybe I'll get some.
  • The end of "Breast Cancer Awareness Month", in which everyplace I go, I see pink ribbons on some product I'm supposed to buy because I have breasts -- but, I don't buy because I only have one and am VERY F-ing aware of breast cancer, thank you very much.
And -- with November, comes the end of chemo, Thanksgiving and another set of days Hubby and I can spend together (10 days, thanks to a random day off at BNCC).

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Cat blogging....

Send good vibes to Old Kitty -- it seems he has a thyroid condition and has lost a lot of weight. He's looking like an old bag of bones.... So far the medicine seems to be working, as he's able to sleep more and is showing some interest in food.

New Kitty is much younger and doing quite well. Her new favorite hangout is under Hubby's desk next to the UPS and other warm things... She cuddles right up to them, probably because they are warm and don't move.

Old Kitty's illness brought up the perpetual question -- what happens when he dies? Do we get New Kitty a new cat, or should she be an only cat? I'm leaning toward a new cat for New Kitty, but not a kitten -- rather one who is under a year old, but big enough and smart enough to resist her if she turns into a bully. Also, the cat would have to be a male and probably orange... as I've never had an orange cat.

and, now to read about Stripping....

The only book I'm pretty sure my students have read is Diablo Cody's book "Candy Girl" about stripping..

So, I need to review it...

I have the other stuff from my to-do list done...

I printed my paper.
I prepped my PowerPoint on Sex...
I wrote an ethics exam.
I created the student's presentation response form

last night I wrote a bunch of e-mails...

Now all I have left to do is to grade and read --

I can grade tomorrow, today is all about cozy cooking activities, napping and reading a book about stripping.

Well.. that took longer than I thought it would...

... the sabbatical application, that is.

It is done -- at least for now... and I managed to make a pretty decent case for the use of most of my dissertation in my class, as a text. It is about an applied ethics topic, so both the theory and the application parts are relevant. It is also intended, in the long term, as a resource for people outside of philosophy, so I try to keep it as readable as possible...

I also managed to work the experience of writing and revising into an enrichment experience that will translate -- THANKS Julie and others who suggested that one!! I even extended that to the one conference I'll probably go to next year -- because I also assign presentations and, as such, learn what it is like to present.

My dean's advice was to focus on how the dissertation experience will translate into the classroom... the form gives about 1/2 page to explain that --- I went over, (single spaced, small margins and small font) by about two pages.

Hopefully the tap dance will pay off... I'm not sure how many others in my hiring cohort will be applying, so I hope my pre-BNCC teaching at a local CC will help me a little... After writing the application, I really want to write the freaking dissertation.

Hopefully, a year from now I'll be in month 3 of the sabbatical plan -- I suspect I won't be nearly as enthusiastic about the freaking dissertation...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Ready, set, procrastinate....

I'm all ready to get into my "to do" list... which includes delightful items such as:
  • Sabbatical application form
  • "prep sex" -- which means make a powerpoint about prostitution and stripping.
  • "prep war" -- which is all about my favorite topic...
  • Print paper about war -- i.e. my paper about supreme emergencies... I'm not going to be able to do the chapter in time...
  • Write ethics exam
  • Create presentation evaluation form
  • Grade ethics papers
  • E-mail to: department, philosophers, honors council,
I have a clean desk, complete with a bowl of M & Ms, a glass of water and just the things I need to work.

The ipod is on a shuffle of 16,6698 songs...

So, what do I do -- I sit down to write a blog post --

Also -- I have my desk calendar arranged for the next month or so, and includes "last chemo!" on November 28 -- that gives me the same cozy feeling I got when we moved to Omaha and suddenly Minnesota showed up on the weather maps... no, it is actually better!

now, work, work, work ---- I'm going to turn off the wireless until I make some progress...

see you later!

Winter is coming... we can hear it

Our apartment has unusual acoustics. We noticed it first last winter, when it gets windy outside it seems to humm...

and the humming is back. It is supposed to be cold and rainy in BNstate today with the prospect of a bit of snow tomorrow.

The plan for the weekend is hibernation -- I have a few work things to do, some work on chapter 2 -- so I can start on the chapter I'll be presenting in January -- and perhaps a bit of housecleaning... at least enough so that when my Honors Student/house cleaner comes next week I won't have to scramble to clean so she can clean.

I'm also going to the store for stuff to make wild rice soup and apple crisp.

A perfect fall to winter transitional weekend, no?

Friday, October 24, 2008

My apartment cleaner...

.. is also an honor society member! I'm really proud of her.

She was a good student of mine a year ago. She's a really nice person and owns her own cleaning business. She has a couple of kids and a nice boyfriend.... and, she's really good at her job.

In other words, she's like many of my students at BNCC.... except she's also qualified for membership in Phi Thea Kappa!

So -- YEA cleaning person!!! I'm proud of you!

Counting today -- 6 chemos left!

Today's appointment is later than usual -- my oncologist is taking the day off, so I'll see another one. Normally, we'd just skip the appointment -- but the study I'm in requires a physician visit, so I'll get to meet another oncologist.

The amusing bit is that I'm taking class prep to work on during chemo. The reading is about prostitution and stripping.... I really need to re-read the book about stripping because all of my students seem to have read it.

After chemo, I'll come home and sneak in a nap before a commitment tonight.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

RBO -- a Wednesday... & a potential big thanks!

  • For someone who supposedly has a T/Th schedule (an illegal one, but one I have anyway -- somehow... grr) -- I'm on campus quite a bit MW this semester --- and in chemo on Friday. So much for two days per week...
  • I may have actually learned something useful from my the textbook reps today... a new Logic on-line textbook supplement looks quite promising.
  • I may be on the way to getting the 'finish the dissertation' sabbatical approved. My Dean seems to like the way I've justified the connection between my project and teaching. If it works -- I have y'all to thank... I did a good imitation of a mind-meld with y'all in an e-mail that seemed to be persuasive to her. YEA!
  • I also was a good department chair today. Someone in a different discipline got turned down for something she wanted to do... I suggested an alternative, was supportive to the Dean on her behalf and then brainstormed how to make it work. If we can pull this off, it will be very helpful to this person -- and I'll be happy.
  • I'm really divided about summer teaching -- I kind of want to do it, for the money -- and, if I get the sabbatical, I'll be ok with teaching then... and the money will come in handy. If I don't teach, the dean may pull a couple of classes off of the schedule, which has already shrunk... On the other hand, I want a freaking summer off... I really wish I could delay the decision until we find out about sabbaticals... grrr.
  • I've committed to a short talk for the honor society ceremony on Friday. It should be fun and if it works, I'll have done some good... we'll see.
  • This weekend I NEED to write and finish a draft of a chapter, as my students need to read it... yea -- I'm giving my work to my students to read and comment on. Don't tell me that my dissertation isn't part of my teaching.

New work habits...

I seem to work well early in the morning.

So -- on days that I'm not teaching at 7:45 (yes -- class starts at BNCC every morning at 7:45 AM), I'm going to do at least 20 minutes of reading.

I'll keep the current article on my desk -- for now it is an article about whether or not intentional killing can be morally justified.

I'm also finding that I LOVE the new Sharpie pens -- the fine point ones. They write well, don't bleed and are narrow enough to underline without getting all messy.

A trip to Subway makes things clear...

... about last year...

You see, the local Subway is next door to the liquor store.

One of my biggest snowflakes from last year was coming out with a bottle in a brown paper bag as I went into Subway.

I suspect this wasn't his first or last trip... I also suspect he isn't 21.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Need ideas, how can finishing my dissertation make me a better instructor?

Hello Internets,

I need some ideas --- My sabbatical application is due pretty soon. I'd like to spend the time finishing my dissertation. It seems intuitively obvious that this is a good way to spend a sabbatical. My dean doesn't seem to think so.

I'm kind of in a vicious circle -- I need to justify my sabbatical by answering the question of how my sabbatical will make me a better instructor and how it will facilitate student learning.

Since I don't HAVE a PhD, I'm not sure what the answer would be --- just making them call me 'Dr. Philosophy Factory' isn't sufficient. I can't exactly tell them from experience... thus, the need for a sabbatical to finish.

Dissertation update...

Yes -- I'm still working on it, slowly.

Here's the status...
Chapter 1: short, but what is there is good. The rest will be there when the dissertation itself is done, so it is on hold.

Chapter 2: The basics are there -- kind of like a house without the finishing touches. Good floorplan, new dry wall and no paint. The current plan is to paint and finish it soon.

Chapter 3: In my head. If I'm accepted to a fun conference, it will need to be on paper by early January.

Chapter 4: Underpants gnombs -- ala South Park (if you don't get it, look it up -- it's funny)

Chapter 5: about 2/3 done -- but, what is there is a really good start and a pretty decent argument.


Sometimes I wonder why I bother even trying to work with some folks.

This is unbloggable in an irritating way -- because the specifics are kind of funny and too typical.

The best I can do is a note to X...

Dear X,

Your organizational skills are occasionally brilliant -- but more than often not. The not times are NOT my fault -- ever. I'm good at this stuff. I don't lose things. I also manage to teach a lot and have chemo. Please get your act together. I've been managing just fine, thanks.

Your memory is very selective --- which is irritating as hell. Do you have 'chemo brain'? Oh wait, I'm the one in chemo -- you're the one who has been like this for a while. Learn to deal with it.

Please just follow your OWN guidelines and refer to your OWN notes -- or admit you are or were wrong.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

I wonder why students think....

... that they can change classes mid-semester?

I get one of these e-mails just about every semester. The form is usually something similar to:

Dear Prof I don't know,

I need to change classes because:
a) my personal life doesn't allow me to attend class at this time. So, although I'm a good student and enjoying the class and was doing well, I'm going to fail because I can't make it to class.

b) I don't understand this prof and my friends tell me you are more clear. I usually get As and Bs, but I don't get this and I'm going to get a C. I can't have a C and get into the program I want -- please help.

Student you've never met

Especially in the case of the b) student -- why do they think they'll do any better in my course? They've now missed the first half of whatever I'm teaching -- so they'd have to understand what was going on in their original course in order to understand my course and do well. Also, why would they think that their grades in the old course would transfer into my course?

The most recent student implied that they're near the end of their time at BNCC -- so they have to know that instructors all construct their syllabi in different ways...

For those of you teaching high school -- is this permitted in their high schools? I suppose if it were, they'd have an expectation that it would be the case in college -- but, that sounds like a recipe for chaos and grade chasing... so I doubt it would work. Also, while it is probably the case that content is more uniform between HS classes, I doubt the schedule would permit easy exchanges of students... so I kind of doubt it is the case.

Maybe they just don't think -- hmmm.

Movies and academic work....

Yesterday, after a nice breakfast out and a drive to see the fall colors (Hubby's idea, he was avoiding grading...)-- we started our 'watch 80s movies and do work' plan.

The idea was that we got to alternate choosing the movies... I'll give you the list in order, who chose first will be obvious...

1) Ice Castles
2) Star Wars IV
3) Dirty Dancing
4) The Secret of My Success

Today we may continue the movie and work thing -- although the local NFL team is playing a rival... so we may do the 'he watches football and grades while I write in the other room and listen to the local NFL team lose another game' plan...

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A working Saturday...

We're going out to breakfast, then to the movie store. The plan is to rent a bunch of 80s movies to watch while Hubby grades and I write.

Before I start writing, I'll have to clean off my desk -- as it is full of other crap and I can't think when it is like that...

This makes me think about our schedule rules at BNCC - We used to be two institutions -- one was a technical school and the other a traditional community college. Sometime in the 90s (i.e. well before we moved back, but after I left in 1990) they merged the two schools into BNCC. This made sense, because the two campuses are across the street from one another...

The complaint from the technical faculty was that the CC faculty 'worked less' than they did. They saw our class schedules and office hours adding up to 20 hours per week and concluded that was the only work we do. I know this was the attitude, and probably still is in some ways, because I've had technical faculty tell me how easy my job is. Those of you who teach elsewhere know that a 5/5 load of 15 teaching hours per week isn't easy -- and that having 5 office hours is fairly generous, but not outrageous.

The AVP at the time put in a set of schedule rules. These rules prohibit back to back classes, mandate a 5-day per week presence on campus and mandate 1 class starting after 4:00 every other year. If you teach TWO evening classes or a weekend class, you are allowed a 4-day per week schedule.

The rules, to me, smack of not trusting folks to be professional and come to campus for a meeting if they don't have a class... they also assume the truth of the technical faculty's complaint.

When the AVP retired, the rules seemed to go away -- until recently. My dean has decided to enforce them -- sort of.

My question is how many technical faculty are spending all weekend doing professional stuff? How many of them were on campus during fall break grading? How many have taken grading to a professional conference, in the summer? Ironically, that was when the technical faculty told me that we only work 20 hours a week. I asked her if she wanted to grade my logic quizzes, because I'd already done my work for the week... she kind of got the picture. I know that others have the picture over there -- because I've talked to them about it. I don't think the rules are justified any more... We'll see what my dean has to say about it.

The difference between New Kitty and Old Kitty

Stolen from the internet and adapted just a little....

Day number 181
8:00 am - OH BOY! Cat FOOD! MY FAVORITE!
9:30 am - OH BOY! A cuddle ! MY FAVORITE!
9:40 am - OH BOY! A nap MY FAVORITE!
10:30 am - OH BOY! A nap! MY FAVORITE!
11:30 am - OH BOY! Cat FOOD! MY FAVORITE!
12:00 noon - OH BOY! THE people! MY FAVORITE!
1:00 pm - OH BOY! I can see THE YARD outside! MY FAVORITE!
4:00 pm - OH BOY! THE people! MY FAVORITE!
Day number 182
8:00 am - OH BOY! Cat FOOD! MY FAVORITE!
9:30 am - OH BOY! A cuddle! MY FAVORITE!
9:40 am - OH BOY! A nap MY FAVORITE!
10:30 am - OH BOY! A nap! MY FAVORITE!
11:30 am - OH BOY! Cat FOOD! MY FAVORITE!
12:00 noon - OH BOY! THE people! MY FAVORITE!
1:30 pm - ooooooo. Dad’s in the bath! My Favorite.
4:00 pm - OH BOY! THE other cat! MY FAVORITE!

Day number 752
My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while I am forced to eat dry cereal. The only thing that keeps me going is the hope of escape, and the mild satisfaction I get from ruining the occasional piece of furniture. Tomorrow I may eat another houseplant.
Day number 763
Today my attempt to kill my captors by weaving around their feet while they were walking almost succeeded, must try this at the top of the stairs. In an attempt to disgust and repulse these vile oppressors, I once again induced myself to vomit on their favorite chair...must try this on their bed.
Day number 765
Decapitated a mouse and brought them the headless body, in attempt to make them aware of what I am capable of, and to try to strike fear into their hearts. They only cooed and condescended about what a good little cat I was...Hmmm. Not working according to plan.
Day number 768
I am finally aware of how sadistic they are. For no good reason I was chosen for the water torture. This time however it included a burning foamy chemical called "shampoo." What sick minds could invent such a liquid. My only consolation is the piece of thumb still stuck between my teeth.
Day number 771
There was some sort of gathering of their accomplices. I was placed in solitary throughout the event. However, I could hear the noise and smell the foul odor of the glass tubes they call "beer". More importantly I overheard that my confinement was due to MY power of "allergies." Must learn what this is and how to use it to my advantage.
Day number 774
I am convinced the other captives are flunkies and may be snitches. The dog is routinely released and seems more than happy to return. He is obviously a half-wit. The bird on the other hand has got to be an informant, and speaks with them regularly. I am certain he reports my every move. Due to his current placement in the metal room his safety is assured. But I can wait, escape and revenge will be mine......

Friday, October 17, 2008

Movies with ethics themes?

So -- I'm not so good with current movies... but, I'm teaching an ethics class and a medical ethics class in the evenings next semester.

I'd like to show some movies and talk about them.... especially since these are three hour classes and talking for three hours sucks, both for me and them.

So -- I'm looking for movies that present ethical problems and/or cover applied ethics topics.

Finding movies to fit into my regular ethics classes isn't too hard ---- but I'd like your suggestions anyway.

Finding Medical Ethics movies is more difficult... euthanasia is well-covered, but the rest of the topics, not so much so.

I'll need to make book order decisions soon, so having an idea about topics that will correlate with movies would be helpful.

Weekend plans...

I have a couple of things to do...

I need to finish grading -- not a big project, thanks to the sacrifice of one of my two "fall break" days. It was worth the time.

I need to work on the revisions to chapter two -- so Hubby and I can collaborate on an article.

Overall, the plan is to hibernate -- maybe order some food in and get some good writing done.

Hubby has "a butt-load" of grading to do... Sadly, he always loses the "my grading sucks more" contests. I have more ethics students than he does total...

The cost of having Cancer...

I haven't added up the claims...

but, today I accessed the insurance company's self-serve website.

I've had 108 claims since May 20.

Dang -- 108 claims since finals week last spring. A sure sign of a summer of suckage.

My current chemo would cost me about $3,000 PER WEEK without insurance. The insurance company pays significantly less than that because they have an interest in the clinic -- thus, it is "in network".

The "icky" chemo would have cost me in the neighborhood of $7,000 per session -- I did four. Again, my insurance company got the wholesale rate...

Really, we don't live in a fair country. When my insurance company can pay so much less than an individual without insurance.

And -- the old Republican Presidential candidate wants to tax my health insurance benefits... not that they wouldn't still be a great deal for me... but, that is screwed up.

Chemo report -- #6

I have 6 more to go. Out of 20 total -- and 24 weeks in the process.


All my lab tests are good, as usual.

I got a flu shot and an immunization for a really nasty pneumonia.. So the germ factory aspect of the Philosophy Factory won't be as bad this year.

They rearranged how the patients are placed in the chemo room. So far they let you choose where you want to sit -- BUT, that means that the nurses are often responsible for patients on both ends of a long, narrow room.

Now it works more like a restaurant -- nurses have a section, their patients sit in their section. I think this helped the process be much quicker this time than in previous weeks -- because my nurse could see that my bag needed to be changed and generally keep an eye on me more easily, because I'm sitting in her area... and she's down there more often.

I had one of my favorite nurses today -- M explained that this was a new system and that they just announced it on Tuesday -- no input, no explanations etc. The nurses are a little irritated about the way they did it --- to a lesser degree, but for the same reasons academics get irritated by decisions just announced by administrators.

As we discussed it, I mentioned that all their managers needed to do was to bring up the most pressing organizational problem in their work area -- namely the spread out patients... then the nurses might have actually suggested the change and, since people always take their own ideas for change more easily, the transition would have been clean and easy. As it is, the ones who resist change are resisting a little -- although, I think that when they've worked with the system a little longer they'll like it.

As for the patients -- there are some who insist on having THEIR chair. The nurses are smart and just backward engineer it so that the patient is assigned to the nurse who has THEIR chair in their section. Personally, I don't care -- so whomever they put me with will be fine :) -- besides I only have 6 more to go!!! I'll sit in the car if necessary (and, per Timna's suggestion -- they should let me do it on the road to wherever Mom and I decide to go :) ).

Knock on wood for me!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Hubby's on the way home...

.. YEA!

He'll be here for Fall Break -- which at his uni is a full week.

That means we'll have a whole 10 days together.... for the first time since August.

The big questions are -- 1) when will New Kitty forgive him and 2) What will she do on Monday night when he's still here? His presence will interrupt her regularly scheduled pout. Trouble may follow.

So, I'm Wendy from South Park...

... wanna make something of it.

If so, you'd better watch this: The South Park episode about Breast Cancer

It is pretty funny, and Wendy kicks ass as a Breast Cancer advocate...

plus, I love the thought that I had a "killer titty"....

Really, I don't usually watch it South Park. I had laundry to do and no DVR in the bedroom.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Live blogging, Grading Jail edition...

Topic: Ethics mid-terms
1) 8 "definitions" (one per ethical theory covered in the first half of the semester). Each is supposed to be a brief description of the theory and one plausible objection.
2) Essay question -- they get to choose among 4 questions. The answers are supposed to show their ability to create connections between theories, expand theories, apply them etc.

As of 5:50 PM -- I have 10 sets of definitions left from my large class and 29 from my "small" class.

I haven't started the essays.

The plan tonight is to finish the definitions -- we'll see how that goes. I already have them separated into groups of 5... it isn't good when you are counting and your total to go is 39...

I'm taking a break -- I hope we have some popcorn.

6:45 -- I've graded exactly 5 more sets of definitions.. I've also made popcorn and put in a load of laundry. I also went back to bed for a little bit to read... NOW -- I WILL do 20 more.... before I do anything else AND before the load of laundry is done in the washing machine.

7:45 -- I still want to get the other class' definitions done, but I don't think I'll manage it...

I also suspect plagiarism... so I'll do a little googling to find out. I'll keep you posted... Of course, it is the last one of the large class.... sigh.

8:14 - stupid -ass DVR ruined my plans to watch the debates and grade. New plan is to take dinner into the bedroom and watch Project Runway -- because I don't know the DVR will tape it... and it is the finale...

I hate our cable company.

I'll grade tomorrow.

It is now 'tomorrow' -- I'd intended to eat a little breakfast and go back to bed... but, I decided to eat and grade.

I organized the large class' exams (paired the essays with the definitions and separated them into groups according to the essay question they answered). I then graded 10 of the morning class' definitions.

I have 19 sets of terms and all the essays to grade today.

I think I can get it done -- along with the laundry (about three loads), cleaning up a bit -- so Hubby doesn't come home to a mess -- and a series of naps.

I'm about to do nap #1 :) -- wish me luck!

11:20, the nap was successful -- as was the call to Grad School about money... sigh. I also have laundry in both machines, but I can't manage to get the grading going.

So -- since today is 1/2 of our pathetic attempt at a "fall break" (i.e. the K-12 Union days off, so we get them too, because we belong to that union -- which then turns around and competes with us for funding from the legislature, which is screwed up --- AND our union is now talking about buying its own building, but still paying the K-12 Union dues --which are more than half of the huge amount we pay... and the only justification for the huge amount we pay is that we get administrative support from K-12 union, which will be hard to do when our union moves out...)-- The campus will be quiet today. I can turn on the radio, grade and walk around in my socks.... which, isn't too different from other days... I actually have a fear I'll go up to teach in my socks -- or bare feet.

Anyway, the new plan is to take the grading to school and leave either when they kick me out or when I'm done.

Then I can spend the other half of "fall break" / K-12 union days in chemo. Which will be more fun than grading.

12:14 --- I'm in my office, I'm the only one in my area... it is nice. I have a subway sandwich on my desk, a large diet coke and a pile of papers. The radio is on, my hat and shoes are off -- I'm in grading mode.

After I grade two more sets of definitions, I can eat part of my sandwich.

5 more will earn me one game of solitaire...

After that, I can start grading essays. I think the essays will go more quickly, as I just need to read and assess one basic argument.

3:18 -- I'm done with the terms and have done the first question of my smaller class. For some reason my students think Rawls was influenced by Mill -- but, Rawls expressly rejects Mill -- in the reading they have for class. I suppose that is because both talk about considering others equally... and maximization of happiness. The thing is, Rawls would sacrifice maximum happiness for MaxiMIN happiness-- the idea that those who gain the least should have their gains maximized... not really a utilitarian conclusion... sigh.

Next -- essays on Ross, and then perhaps feminism. That way I'll only have one class' worth of essays to do over the weekend.

4:15-- the last set went much more quickly than I anticipated... I'm going to start the other set. I'll leave when they kick me out or I get hungry...whichever comes first :) --

5:15 -- I have 10 essays left -- all are on Ross. For now, I'm crying "uncle".

I could probably bang them out, but I just don't have it in me. I'm going to get some dinner to take home. Maybe if I put them on the coffee table while I watch trash TV tonight, I'll get them finished.

Besides, I think the security people will kick me out of BNCC in about 15 minutes, as the building is supposed to close then.... "fall break" you know... Don't get me started on the fact that they won't give faculty keys to the building OR that there isn't 24/7 security so that we can get to our offices if the school is "closed". BNCC is a Philosophy Factory for a reason -- the factory workers don't get keys to the factory, do they?

Saturday --

I managed not to grade anything yesterday -- chemo was all nap and watching Mad Men...

I finished the last 10 essays today, in front of an 80s movie -- not a bad way to finish. Although, it does seem that three of the last 10 were confused about the assignment --- in a way that the other 75 or so students weren't... they thought the question about Ross was 'give a short criticism of Ross, without really reading the material and while simultaneously ignoring the actual question on the assignment sheet' --- They had to have the sheet in order to know that there was a question on Ross and which terms were included in the first half of the exam.

sigh. It is good to be done and caught up.

Bad Philosophy on Oprah...

During a program on rudeness... Dr. P.M. Fourney claimed that ALL ethical theories are based on Kant's means/ends formulation.

Ummm--- no, not quite

Dr. Fourney -- you wouldn't have done very well on my freshman ethics mid-term. Ignoring the likes of utilitarianism and virtue ethics isn't a good strategy.

It's disturbing to hear inaccurate things about ethics while grading ethics exams.

The theme of the day is...

... 'thank a feminist'.

I had lunch with the Red Head today. It is always fun to talk to her, probably because we disagree on many things. As was inevitable, her daughter is brilliant -- much like her mom -- and doing very well in school, math in particular. When I noted that she should thank prior feminists for the attitude that girls can do math too -- the Red Head got a peculiar look on her face... good times :).

Also, the Red Head remembers what I looked like with hair. That is a good thing.

Now, I'll nap and then do grading jail for the evening.

Phrases that bother me...

"There is a reason for everything"... usually said when bad stuff happens to someone else.

No -- there isn't a reason for everything. The universe is sometimes a randomly crappy place. Bad crap happens to good people and icky people don't get what they deserve. That is just a fact of life as a human being on this planet -- and if you haven't figured this out yet -- then keep thinking on it.

That isn't to say that a person can't learn from bad stuff -- or that they can't handle the bad stuff in an admirable way. I just think that there is not necessarily always a reason stuff happens.

"This is a free country" -- usually said by someone who didn't get their way. In this instance, by some chick who wanted to park her Mercedes in an illegal spot (on "Parking Wars" :) ).

Really, it isn't a 'free country'. This is a place where you have to live with other people -- and sometimes the rules/laws/norms that make it easier to live with others are inconvenient for you. Get over yourself -- because, what you really mean is that 'I want to do whatever the hell I want, and other people can go to hell'.

"It's just an opinion" -- usually said by a student who doesn't like what someone else has to say. In my case, that 'opinion' comes from a pretty darned smart philosopher.

No -- YOUR position is JUST an 'opinion' -- because you haven't put any thought into it. You haven't read what others have to say so you don't know the other side of the argument. You haven't bothered to look into the actual facts on the topic -- you just parrot what your friends/family/political hero/dotty next door neighbor have to say on the topic.

In reality, the people you are so quickly dismissing are significantly better educated than you are. They've thought about, argued about and pondered the topic while writing the article you so blithely dismiss. Their article is the result of many revisions and reviews by others who know about these things... it is NOT, at all, similar to your poorly-written and not even proof-read "paper" on the topic. In fact, it is so different that the only thing you have in common with the philosopher you are dismissing is that you are writing about the same general area.

Often, if I can untangle your twisted logic, it is the case that you actually agree with the philosopher you are dismissing. You don't even see it -- probably because you don't understand what you are reading and thus can't write about it.

and -- I haven't even started my time in grading jail for today... sigh.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

counting down... and hair news...

Mom and I had a good trip to Red State -- good food, good sleep... and, as usual, lots of good conversation.

We also planned out / divided up responsibilty (between Mom and Hubby) for my last rounds of chemo.

Hubby will be home on Thursday for a week of Fall break -- so he gets the next two.

Mom will come down over Halloween Weekend -- and part of the following weekend -- she'll get the two after that.

In mid-November I'm going to Red State (on my own... gasp, shock... Iowa solo ---- can Chemo Girl handle it?) -- because BNCC has Veteran's Day off... which happens to be a Tuesday, so I get a LONG weekend...

Hubby will come back, then mom gets one more before Thanksgiving... Hubby will be here for the last one, the Friday after Thanksgiving.

Dang -- it was nice to look at the calendars and sort it out to the end.

It seemed so far away in July. I couldn't even imagine the end of chemo --- Now it is right around the corner. You know how, in late August, that the end of the semester will ever come? That's kind of how the Chemo calendar felt to me... complete with the knowledge that, by the end, you'll be tired, cranky and done with it all.

On the hair news...
Hubby looked at me and realized I have really fine hairs. In order to see them, I need to be both back-lit AND have a solid dark background behind me... tricky light conditions to see my hair, but that prompted us to feel for it -- and it was there!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Telling my hairdersser...

... about the breast cancer.

My favorite hairdresser in the world is in Red State. She's been my friend for a long time -- we used to work together in the beauty industry. When my job there dissolved, she ended up working elsewhere as well -- but we kept in touch. Just about the time Hubby started teaching down here, she opened her own salon and I could finally pay her for her haircuts -- and make appointments without guilt.

So, today I dropped in on her. I walked in with my hat on -- took it off and said, "I had a little trouble with my last haircut"....

Then I told her about the cancer and chemo. I'd considered telling her on the phone or via e-mail -- but, it was much better to tell her in person --- because she can see that the rest of me is the same, that I'm dealing with it well, and that things will be fine.

She's a lot like the older sister I never had -- and she took it well, as I knew she would. She has a variety of friends and relatives who are at or past their 5-year disease free rate with breast cancer. She also has a grandchild with a rare brain tumor who is finally on treatment that both works and isn't going to kill him -- so, she's been down the cancer road with a few folks.

She looked at the stubble on my head and said that I probably wouldn't have lost the hair I shaved -- but, it was probably better to shave it than have a male-pattern baldness look... and, she agreed that if the hair falling out made me feel sick -- it was a good decision to get rid of it once and for all.

She's also pretty outspoken, and she agreed that I need a good fake boob. I really need to get to the boob store and pick one out. Maybe next week....

Of all the really important folks in my life, she's the last one I had to tell. I'm glad I did it in person and I'm glad that I could look healthy while telling her --

Friday, October 10, 2008


Post is going poof...

I'm probably going to apply and see what happens...

Wish me luck.

As much as I love BNCC and my amazing colleagues, I'd love that job even more.... and there is a lot of potential there for my sweet hubby.


or, not... the ad on their own website specifies an 'earned doctorate' --- and it is a limited term position... three years to start, to be renewed for up to four more. That makes it less attractive.... I'm not so sure I want to do it again in 3-7 years, especially if hubby would be giving up a shot at tenure to come with me.

Also, the pay would probably be less than I'm making now. The cost of living there is less, but we'd still have at least one year of dual-household living expenses, commuting AND student loans.... So, maybe not.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

chemo -- then Red State...

Tomorrow is another chemo... I've kind of lost count, but I think this will be Taxol #4 -- or maybe #5? I know that, if things go as planned, I'll be done the day after Thanksgiving... definitely something to be thankful FOR...

Also, tomorrow Mom and I are off to Red State. Mom has a reasonable fear that Hubby and I will settle there (as do I.. both think it is likely AND fear it --- kind of )... So, she wants to see it. She was there a few times when we lived there, but generally the visits were quick and didn't give a good feel for the place.

Of course, you know what going to Red State means ---- Indian Food!!!!!!!!!!!!! Go ahead, be jealous. Great mulligatawny soup and mali kafka (however it is spelled) -- good nan... ummmmm. It isn't too spicy for me, it is just right. I really can't find a similar place in the BNcc-metropolis. I've tried every Indian restaurant I can find. None of them are as good as the place in Red State.

oh yea -- I'll get to see hubby too :) --- and probably stop in on my hairdresser, if only to let her know why I haven't been in.

... and our current admin assistant makes my day --

.. I was crabby this morning. Kind of a contiuation of the yesterday crabbys...

She came by my office after class with a small apple... a "crabby apple".

She's quiet -- she has a good sense of humor.

Some days I need her more than others -- and today was one of those days.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Maybe I'm too cranky to be a good department chair...

This week we got some sad news...

When I came to BNCC, the department secretary had been here for eons. She died suddenly this week. She'd been retired for at least 5 years.

Personally, I find it sad in a pretty abstract way -- her retirement should have been longer etc...

I'm probably not more sad because she barely acknoweldged my presence.. She wasn't rude, but she also didn't do anything to help the newbie faculty member..

I suppose that is because she was too busy helping some of the others -- those same others who are currently asking a lot of her successor.

Which is why I get kind of irritated when those others expect ME to coordinate the memorial stuff... really, folks. She saved you a heck of a lot of time by typing your crap, running your scantrons and doing a lot of the stuff I did for myself and STILL do for myself.

Why don't YOU do it -- and I'll slip some cash in the envelope... because, I think she did help me call someone to un-jam the copy machine once in my first year... that's got to be worth something.

yea -- maybe I'm too cranky for this job, but -- if so -- bite me.

updated to add: Since I had to go to the grocery store anyway, I decided that my part would be satisfied by buying a nice card for others to sign. That's enough... 10 minutes in the sympathy card isle and a few bucks...

Extra-credit from New Kitty

New Kitty really is Hubby's cat.

She has one of those automatic litter boxes (best thing EVER!!).

Her favorite toy is a laser pointer.

She has one of those water fountains for cats.

This week, the water fountain stopped working. New Kitty was depressed -- and I was too busy to fix it until this morning. Fixing it entails giving it a good scrub to get all the stray cat hairs out of the works...

Just now I walked by the cat's bathroom. New Kitty was sitting by her fountain admiring it. I paused to speak with her -- and she gave me the most grateful look I've ever had from her.

Getting extra-credit is nice.

Who is really clueless?

... me or Student..

Hint -- I wasn't the one who wrote, "like we discussed in class", in a paper DUE on the date of the class discussion. I suspect the paper came from someone else's ethics class, but I can't prove it. The fact that the paper didn't fulfill the assignment was enough to down his grade substantially.

Hint -- I also wasn't the one who tried to slip his paper on Rawls into the stack on Held. Ummm -- dude, like I wouldn't notice? Since I grade the papers in order, yours wasn't with the Rawls stuff I was handing BACK the day you did it. Why the heck do you think I do it that way -- to catch little cheaters like you.

Besides, the paper you gave me was almost as bad as the Kant one...

Monday, October 06, 2008

Now I'm confused...

... a couple of weeks ago the hospital sent me a collection notice.

I paid them -- what I thought I owed, not what they thought I owed. The difference was $128.00.

Today I got a REFUND check from them for $32.00... because I've over-paid them.

ummmm -- yea.

I suppose the only answer is that the insurance company got the bill "adjusted" by $150.00.

I'm good with that.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Maybe I'll have hair by late January...

... at least I hope so, as my favorite conference seems to be happening!

I've just submitted a paper proposal-- and I think I'll go even if I'm not giving a paper.

So -- maybe by January I'll have some hair AND a paper on justice after the war to present...

of course, now I'll have to write it... but, I'd have to write it anyway.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

A quick trip to the mall...

... becomes more interesting when the power goes out.

The power outage was less than a minute. The chaos at the Body Shop took at least 45 minutes to resolve.

Naturally, while we waited we went to the game store and to Apple -- both to shop and not to buy.

We also went to Bath and Body works -- and ended up with some nice home scent stuff... but, not candles. Thinking about New Kitty setting herself or Old Kitty on fire would surely counter the relaxation promised by the burning candle. Instead, we got something that will plug in and not burn cat fur.

The cat on steriods... a nightmare..

This morning New Kitty seemed to be trying to get into my bottle of Decadron.

I take 2 4 MG the day of chemo. They make me kind of buzzy and spazzy.

Imagine if New Kitty -- who is big for a kitty but small for a person -- got the bottle open and ate them...

of course, the sad thing would be that they'd probably kill her...

but, the image of her going nuts is funny.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Chemo round ? I've lost count...

Just as I'd hoped, chemo is becoming less of an event.

It has all the charm of a really long doctor's appointment -- today was 8:30 - 1:30.

It doesn't have the icky effects on me, at least so far.

In an odd way, I kind of like being at the chemo clinic. I don't have to explain my bald head or anything to do with breast cancer. The doctor and nurses are very nice -- and quite professional at the same time.

I ran into a chemo pal today. She's had trouble with this drug for a while -- she's a bit ahead of me, as she only has two more left. She's having more side-effects and significant trouble sleeping. She's a special-ed teacher and so far hasn't returned to work. IMHO, I think that if she could manage some degree of work -- she'd feel better. She admitted today that sitting around feeling sick is probably part of her overall problem.

So -- while I can use the good vibes, she needs some for the side-effects.

The best thing about last night...

... was that Hubby found someone to proctor his exam, so he came home two hours early!!!

He didn't tell me either -- instead he called me, like he usually does while he drives -- and asked me to come down to help him with his stuff.

Wonderful surprise!

Debate Analysis...

As more than a few of you may remember, I coached college debate for about ten years. You could say I've seen a few actual debates in my time. Of course, this wasn't one -- but there hasn't been an actual Presidential debate in modern TV history... sigh. One of these days some former debaters will be Presidential candidates, and then there will be a throw down the public just can't understand... until then, this sort of thing will have to suffice.

Palin was doing the main thing we tell new debaters to do -- If you get lost, go back to one of your key talking points. I've had debaters in competition with about 5 weeks experience (last week was the first tournament we used to have on the schedule... Palin was nominated about the time we'd have our first set of practice). They only needed to fill 8 minutes, not part of two hours.

What her prep people did with her is more like the 'individual events' (interpretation of lit, informative speaking etc..) coaching for an event called 'impromptu speaking' -- in which the person is supposed to respond to a quotation. Those folks have the students prepare and memorize (although she looked like she was reading note cards -- was she?) blocks of speech on a variety of topics. They'd then put those blocks into a speech and call it 'impromptu'.

Palin and most of the 'impromptu' speakers had the same problem -- they weren't ACTUALLY responding to the prompts they were given. This is akin to students not answering the essay question they are asked. I find both annoying -- although when I judged 'impromptu' I couldn't yell at the TV while folding laundry like last night -- so, in some ways last night was more satisfying than a bad impromptu round.

Of course, the Republicans asked for this -- they nominated someone without the experience needed to have answers to these questions. None of the quesitons were out of line for someone who could easily become President. Debate prep for tonight should have consisted in refining the candidates OWN answers to the questions -- not in TEACHING the candidate the answers.

That isn't to say that Palin didn't have her strengths. She was a lot like the debater who was a 'pretty speaker' -- who can look at the judge and sell whatever they were saying. She has a knack for looking at the camera and making you listen to her -- which is a good qualify for a candidate to have in the age of TV.

I don't think Palin is stupid, in fact - exactly the opposite. I do think she's wrong on a lot of stuff, but not stupid. I think she can develop positions on world and domestic events, she just hasn't yet. Until 5 weeks ago she was like many Americans, who are lucky enough to be able to ignore world events and live in their own little world. Being the PTA president, skinning a moose and being a hockey mom don't demand knowledge of US foreign and domsestic policy. Being mayor and govenor requires a particular set of skills that can prepare you to be VP, but those skills aren't necessary to be mayor or govenor.

On the other hand, Biden smacked her around so hard that she probably doesn't see how badly she lost. He sounded smart -- and Presidential. Even when he was dodging questions, he did it with more skill -- so it was much more difficult to see the dodge. He too used his talking points, but he had many more of them -- so it looked as if he were prepared instead of unable to answer the question asked.

In the end, it was like the novice got taken to school by the up and coming national champion. It happens to all novices, even the most promising of them -- so Palin doesn't have anything to be ashamed of... but, to my eyes, she just isn't ready.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Dear Sara Palin,

Please answer the question.

It isn't hard to do. Listen to what was asked and respond.

I know you are probably pretty smart. I'm sure that you could do this debate, and do it well. I admire you for living by your principles.

But if you don't answer the question, you look like a moron.

I wouldn't give my students credit for these answers. You went to something like 6 colleges, right? If any of them let you answer an essay prompt with an un-related answer, you should go back and demand your beauty pageant money back.

A feminist and a philosopher
and someone who can spot the fact that your answers aren't answers to the questions asked.

ps -- stop sending me e-mails. I'm not voting for you, I'm not giving you money -- especially since you won't answer the question asked -- how can I know you won't blow it on naughty librarian clothes and Tina Fey glasses?

"but I was sick"

I pretty much said "so what"? To a kid who claims to have had a burning desire to write about feminism -- which happened to be the last paper, but who was too sick to turn it in.

When I explained that students manage to be sick AND turn in papers, either before class or via friends, relatives etc, the kid didn't seem to comprehend.

When s/he said that s/he "couldn't control his absences" -- I laughed at her/him.

I was glad to have a chance to call her/him on sleeping in class. When s/he bothers to show up, s/he sleeps. I told her/him that if her/his class participation was good from now on and if her/his attendance is good, that I'd let her/him write a paper to replace the one s/he didn't get to turn in.

We'll see how that works. S/He may drop the class -- it isn't like s/he was participating anyway.

Is cancer making me mean? Am I just badly in need of a sabbatical? Are they really getting worse?

Perhaps all of the above... sigh. I'm glad it is the weekend... and hubby is in "I don't know math" state.

Perceptions of 'a lot of students'

I had an interesting discussion in the work room today.

A colleague from another department commented that she'd like to do writing assignments, but she "has so many students".

Many of you know right where this is going. Rest assured, she was new and I was tired and had my hands full -- I didn't spell out in excruciating detail the systematic inequities and outright bullshit logic that is our course cap policy. I spared her the shame of knowing that the bald one-boobed woman down the hall has a course release and still has almost twice the number of students she does. She's new, she doesn't know what she stepped in -- so I let her off easy.

I know about how many sections she has and how many students are in each one. Instead of the rant I just looked at her and said, "yea -- I know, I have ethics classes with 50 students".

Folks, she has 3 sections, 32 students each ( I know, I just internet-stalked/researched the number). I have about that, after drops, in two of my ethics classes. Plus I have 80 logic students and am department chair. Without the department chair course release I'd probably have another 50ish ethics or intro students.

I assign writing. I don't think I can assess philosophy courses without writing.

Each ethics student will do at least 12 pages of paper writing and about 10 pages of typed take-home exam writing. About 1/3 will do at least 22 pages of paper writing, the other 2/3 will be part of a presentation. Don't do the math - it will make you ill.

Logic students don't do writing, but I grade a heck of a lot of logic quizzes. All of them by hand. They can't be done by machine, at least not with the tools / software I have.

Last week I discussed class size with my dean. She's now taking the position that it's all about money. I think it is really unfair to our students that the educational sacrifices have to come out of their hides.

To be honest -- if they'd add two students to the large department's significantly smaller courses, we wouldn't have to have 50 per class so that the college can make ends meet. We could actually help teach writing across the curriculum. As it is, I make minimal comments about form and focus on their demonstration of understanding the content.

But -- back when these things were decided, someone who is no longer at BNCC -- and hasn't been for 6+ years -- didn't have the political clout (or guts, perhaps?) to object to having such large classes. As a result, philosophy students at BNCC will continue to get the short end of the pedagogical stick -- at least in Ethics, Intro to Phil and World Religions.

Summer is officially over...

... I just dug my 'winter Birkenstocks' out of the closet.

This has been the summer of the red Birkenstock sandals.

They've been to chemo with me.

They've been to Vegas and Canada with me.

Now it is time for them to rest up for next summer, which will be a whole new adventure.... although, if we end up someplace warm this winter you can bet they'll come out of their hibernation.

You know it's time to go to Costco...

.. when you choose the bathroom to use based on how much toilet paper is left on the roll.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

This time tomorrow night...

... Hubby will be about to walk in the door.

I miss him -- a lot.

The big question is when New Kitty will forgive him... ah, the suspense and drama of having a highly interactive, intelligent and ambitious kitty. She's either causing chaos or having a good pout. Sometimes she does both, and then our best bet is to leave the house for a while.

Grading jail -- ignorant, sexist pig version...

Today I'm grading papers on Held -- she's a feminist philosopher from the 1990s who writes about the feminist idea of the ethics of care.

So far I've seen an amazing amount of sexism from my students... Out of four papers, I've been told that "these feminists are ruining philosophy", that "men are more logical than women and thus men should be in charge" and that "if a woman were elected president, she'd look out for women and not for the whole of the country." The fourth paper doesn't even understand the theory at all, so his objection doesn't make any sense.

This pile of papers is really making me ill...

Please, internet feminists -- grant me the strength and wisdom to deal with this crap -- and the professionalism to refrain from writing "go to hell you little sexist asshole" on their papers...

Today could be a long, long, long day. I have 14 more to grade-- and some of my favorite students are in the pile -- maybe it will get better.

Edited to add...
The papers actually did get better -- after the first few rants, in which feminists were blamed for the woes of the world, the papers turned into the usual mix of brilliance and misunderstanding... which was a relief.

Presentation groups

Today one of my tasks is to create presentation groups. They will present ethical dilemmas -- and they'll be responsible for all of the content for a part of the class.

I've learned a couple of good lessons -- among them, not to have drug legalization as a possible topic. Last time I did it, I ended up with all the pot heads in one group. Counter to the stereotype, they fought like cats and complained to me -- even tossing them bags of cheetos didn't work. Predictably, the presentation was a complete flop.

The other problem I've had is that the groups shrink at unpredictable rates. Students drop or disappear from some groups and not from others. I've ended up with groups of 3 and groups of 7 all getting the same amount of credit. That just didn't seem fair.

So -- I decided a few things might help...

1) Giving an option to write a 10-15 page paper as an alternative. This removes the students who hate group work and thus would be the most trouble.

2) Asking the students to give me names of their preferred group members, so the ones with good habits can work together.

3) Having the students rank all the presentation topics so that I can get a feel for their preferences as to topics.

4) Asking a set of true/false questions designed to get to know them a bit better. They are things like "I am good with PowerPoint" or "I am afraid of public speaking".

5) Waiting until later in the semester to divide them into groups. Many of the ones who are going to withdraw have done so already.

6) Looking at whether or not they've turned in other work before assigning groups. I announced that the folks who haven't turned in either of the assignments so far may not be placed in groups at all. I have no indication as to whether they'll do the group work if they haven't done the individual work.

Hopefully, it will all work out.... of course, I can't know how this will help until the end of the semester, but I think it will lead to less of a hassle than in other semesters -- if not for me, then for my students...

Plans for the day...

First of all, thanks to the plagiarist, the logic jerks who took the shared photocopy off of my door and the concerned nephew of the breast cancer person, I've developed a new goal. The goal is pretty simple, don't hate my students. Remember that most of them are good folks trying to get along and some of them are actually trying to learn something. I need to keep that goal in mind today.

My cleaning person is coming today -- YEA! I've done the 'before the cleaning person comes' cleaning and things are all set for her to create a little spot of domestic tranquility and cleanliness.

Since I've actually BEEN the cleaning person, I know it is easier and faster to do if nobody is home.. so, I'll be on the way out as soon as she gets here.

Today I need to do the following:
  1. Grade the last set of ethical theory papers. I really should bring my laptop along, in case I need to google any more suspicous sentences.
  2. Sort out my ethics classes into presentation groups.
  3. Go to the gym.
  4. Meet with the philosophers at 3:30 for some assessment stuff.
I think I'll start with coffee and grading. This will get the biggest icky thing out of the way and let me get some caffeine.

I should stop by campus for a few minutes to print a copy of my grade book for my ethics classes -- because that will let me do the presentation stuff as well...

Someplace in there I'll eat lunch and then go to the gym. The sweet time at the gym is about 2:00 -- after the "exercise at lunch" folks and before the swimming nazi and his minions get to the pool after work.

If I'm in the pool at 2:00, I can be at the 3:30 philosopher's meeting. After our meeting I'll record all the grading, make the slides that show each group and make sure I'm ready for class tomorrow.

By the time all of that is done, my cleaning person will be finished here and I'll come home to a nice clean apartment.

"Student" senate... and BNCC

It seems that BNCC has "elected" a new student senate.

The "elections" were open from 11:00 to 1:00 on a Tuesday.

None of the "candidates" posted any campaign posters etc.

The student senate adviser is getting back to me about how many students actually voted. We'll see if he does.Last time it was something like 90 students -- out of a total of over 12,000 bodies eligible to vote.

Last Spring I asked my day and night classes about the election. One student actually voted, most of them didn't know we had a student senate, the vast majority of them weren't available during the time the polls were open.

This is an issue that really, really, really bothers me at my school. Student government has the power to set student activity fees as well as the power to distribute them. They control the budgets of all the clubs and demand that the clubs send members to their meetings. The meetings are on Wednesday afternoons at 2:30... if you don't have someone available at that time, they'll cut your funding. If you wanted to have a club of evening students, it could never get funding because it would be impossible for them to make the meeting.

When the debate club (before we were a team) had a member on the executive council, that wasn't good enough for them -- they wanted another member to attend on our behalf. The adviser pretty much made up his own rule to justify cutting our budget. I'm sure that he's done the same to others.

BNCC Student Senate bothers me like any other sham that gets to distribute hundreds of thousands of dollars. I'm guessing that their adviser gets a decent amount of release time. I suppose he needs it because controlling these students the way he does, plus being politically active at the state level takes a lot of his time. I'm sure he wouldn't be satisfied with the $250.00/ semester I had for several semesters when I started, coached and traveled with the debate team...