Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Goodbye 2008

I'm over 2008.

Hubby and I both had rough years and I'm ready to be done with 2008.

In fact, I'm so over it that I don't even want to do the meme asking me to remember and reflect. Sure, there have been some good things -- meeting some bloggers, making some friends etc -- but, those things will be with me in 2009 --- so, we'll just count them as 2009 events :).

Instead -- I'm thinking ahead and sending out good vibes into the future -- I can do that, right? If I can send good vibes to my pals around the world, I can send them into the future.

So, here are some hopeful predictions:

By this time next year I'll have had 2 clean PET scans and be a full year away from chemo.

By this time next year I'll have a dissertation defense scheduled.

At this time next year we'll be able to pay all of our bills (we can now -- I just want to keep that going :) ).

By this time next year Hubby will have finished his first semester at his first-choice law school.

By this time next year the Minion will have settled down enough so that we can sleep with the bedroom door open and not have to wonder where the squirt bottle went.

Winter break, by the numbers...

14: days since grades were submitted
? (i.e. I'm not frigging counting): days until school starts
? (i.e. I'm not frigging counting) +2: days until Hubby has to go back to Red State
1: number of semesters Hubby has left in Red State (YEA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
3: the total number of years we'll have survived this long distance thing
3: the number of days until my conference paper is due
147,679: the number of days I feel like I need to get this paper right -- but, even if I had the days, I probably wouldn't use them to write this paper.

4: the number of days until we head up north (YEA!!! more snow and cold!!!)
2: the number of nights we'll spend at super-mom's --
1: the number of days we'll have to do mom's list (things that require ladders etc...)
3: the number of nights we have at fun/funky/whatever odd little town on the superior lake
4: the number of syllabi I need to write second drafts of while I'm up north
2: the number of fun books I bought with the 'ladies who lunch', with the intention of taking them up north
? (i.e. I'm not frigging counting): the number of books I'll probably buy i n fun/funky/odd town -- since our hotel is across the street from a good bookstore

2: the number of kitties in the household
43: the number of cats it SEEMS as if we have in the household
2: the number of dishes the Minion has broken in the past month
0: the number of dishes broken by all previous cats
679,899: the number of times the Minion has been squirted by me or Hubby --- this week
?: the number of times the Queen has broken into our office to sit in my chair

4: the number of seasons of "The Office" we've watched since the start of Christmas break. That's a lot of Dunder-Mifflin... we have an itunes season pass, so we'll see the rest of them before the end of break.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Tale of Dessperaux... a warning...

Don't see this movie.. really!

It looks like a cute movie about a mouse with the heart of a lion.

What it ends up to be is a confusing story with too many characters and not enough plot. It takes place in a land that seems to worship soup. The great tragedy that begins every fairy tale was the Queen drowning in a bowl of soup, mostly because her husband is too stupid to pull her head up in time.

It gets worse -- triggering every feminist and body-image trigger I have. Not only is the mean girl fat (and therefore stupid and evil), she's sold with the pigs on a farm..... and the (stupid, but loveable) princess is super skinny -- like her terminally depressed or alcoholic father.... but, they set up the Prince Charming thing and then the prince charming ends up to be a frigging MOUSE.

We went because my sweet Mother in Law likes mice -- and we all like animated movies.

If we hadn't been there with them, Hubby and I would have left to go see whatever was playing in the theater next door -- it really didn't matter what it was.

Cannibalistic Christmas...

The Minion was our big Christmas present this year.

Last night my in-laws gave me a lucky bamboo plant for Christmas -- I could use the luck :).

This morning one of my Christmas presents tried to eat the other one.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Twas the day after the day after Christmas...

... and all through the house, the cats are stirring -- but not chasing a mouse.

after that, I'm out of steam -- sorry.

The Queen and the Minion have developed a bit of a morning routine... they go for a run -- around my apartment. If you happen to be on the couch, you'll feel it. If you are in the recliner, you'll see a small cat and a large cat running directly toward you.

They take about four laps and then collapse.

Today Hubby and I will have 'Christmas' with his mom, sister and the nieces and nephews... it will be fun. His sister will make Sweedish Meatballs -- we'll bring a veggie and the lefse. It will be fun.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Traditions...

... around here include:

  • Cats "de-decorating" the house.
  • Spending a decent and decadent amount of time in our PJs.

Merry Christmas!!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

... from the Queen.

The Minion is currently unavailable for comment, as he's been repeatedly treated to the human discipline tool -- the squirt bottle -- for trying to climb, eat, play with and otherwise cause cat-chaos with the tree.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Today I will....

  • Get Hubby to put up the tree. (done!)
  • Decorate the tree in Minion-proof fashion (thank goodness we had Queen-proof ornaments from last year). (done)
  • Finish my 'read for fun' book (done)
  • Plan Christmas Eve dinner -- and maybe go to the store.
  • Watch as much of The Office, season two, as possible.
  • Write for at least 30 minutes.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Memo to the Queen and the Minion:

Please note, before beginning to fight on the edge of the bathtub, you really should check to see if there is water in the tub. Otherwise, you'll get wet like you did today.

For the record, your parents think it is funny. We know you don't, but we don't care.

Mom and Hubby

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Winter storm checklist...

  • Got a facial and a wax today.... which entailed driving in the snow.
  • Went for sushi with Hubby...again, driving in the snow.
  • Decided we "needed" cookies, ice cream, bacon and milk -- in case we are snowed in tomorrow.... a third trip in the snow.
Can you tell Hubby won the money for new tires for the jeep?

Friday, December 19, 2008

RBO -- a "duty" day...

  • Sometimes the grade-grubbers are right. I missed including the extra-credit into the grades of two students -- within 12 hours of their grades being posted, they wanted to know why they got Bs instead of As... Of course, they weren't doing nearly as well as they thought they were doing, but -- the extra-credit changed their high B to a low A -- so, I went in and changed their grades.
  • I think today may be the first day I've actually been on campus for the Fall end of semester duty day--- at least since I had a bizzillion 10 page papers to grade in my first year at BNCC.
  • The coffee lady got a bit freaked out when I ordered a hot drink. Clearly, I'm spending too much time and money at the coffee shop --- time to start making it at home.
  • Hubby's home, and so is his stuff.
  • I must have missed some fun -- Hubby is running a bath. Both the Queen and the Minion came into the office wet --- the Queen had a wet back and the Minion had at least two wet feet. I'm sorry I missed his encounter with a tub full of water.
  • I think today is 'plug in the ipod and write' day. It will be hard to resist having it be 'plug in the ipod and play on the internet day' -- which is more fun, but less productive. Also hard to resist will be 'plug in the ipod and take photos of the Queen and the Minion' day and 'plug in the ipod, go to bed and read a book while the ipod plays in the office' day.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

As I write, hubby's on the way home...

Thankfully, they huge ice/snow/blizzard thing hasn't hit us yet.

Hubby's already endured a horrible spring break storm a couple of years ago -- cutting 3 days off of his time at home before making a nearly Arctic trek to get home. I was afraid the same thing would happen this year.

By now he's probably in the BNCC metro area, so I can write this without jinxing him :).

Once Hubby is home I won't be outnumbered and winter break can begin!!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I'm not sure how I'll handle it....

This morning I picked up the apartment and am doing laundry --- with plans to fold during Top Chef!!

This afternoon I put in my last grades -- 30 minutes after their final exam period started.

I also cleaned and organized my office at school. I filled a large recycling bin with old stuff and filed away the stuff I need to keep.

I've done a rough draft of next semester's syllabi -- during my finals yesterday. I like to let the syllabi percolate so that I can see the error of my initial plan before I hand it out.

I did another round of schedule "stuff", and even organized my schedule archives.

Tomorrow, my cleaning person comes and my apartment will be spotless.

Tomorrow night Hubby comes home with a pile of grading.

... and I'm not sure how I'll handle having no real responsibilities....

Of course, I still have a conference paper due January 2 -- which is 10 crappy pages right now... but, after a 4/4, department chair, chemo, long-distance marriage semester -- the prospect of time to do what I'd like is kind of scary.


Secret message to someone,

IF you are going to insist on any changes being on a hard copy, you should get them right when you do so.

That does not mean that you take the changes on the hard copy and screw them up. This creates an endless cycle of paper.

Additionally, when the correction you make ends up to be a mistake, you should take it in e-mail like an adult.

Tomorrow night...

.. Hubby comes home for Winter Break...

and, we could use a break!

This will be the first time he's been home this semester that won't involve chemo!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I love the smell of fresh grades...

I entered grades for three of my four classes.

I have the fourth class poised to go -- as soon as their final exam period comes tomorrow-- I can finish them, enter them and be DONE!

Tripple yippee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Don't be too jealous --- I do teach a 4/4 and am department chair. I had about 140ish students to grade. Tomorrow, I'll clean before the cleaning person comes on Thursday -- and do laundry.

Thursday and Friday -- writing... which I didn't have time to do during the semester. The paper is due Jan 2.

to answer PK on logic....

PK asked in comments about the text I use to teach logic and what I include in my logic class...

So -- if you don't care about teaching logic, go read the next blog on your list and come back later when I have something funny/stupid/sarcastic or profound to say....

In terms of the text, I'm using Hurley right now, but am changing to Baronett (it's a pretty new textf, aimed at improving on Hurley...i.e. stealing Hurley's market). Baronett is well-written and has good examples etc. It also has a good on-line component, so they can do more practice at home. It may be a mistake -- but, I won't know that until spring :).

In terms of course content -- I've done semesters with more critical thinking/fallacies etc... and formal logic. This semester I paired it down to just formal logic -- truth tables and proofs -- mostly because I wanted to leave room in the syllabus in case I needed to call in sick due to chemo. I didn't miss much class AND they don't seem to have done any better... so, I'm not sure which way is best.

Because of our transfer agreement, we need to do formal proofs. The logic course satisfies the 'mathematical and logical reasoning' component of the gauranteed transfer agreement. So, we need to do symbolic manipulation -- categorical logic wouldn't be sufficient.

I'm hoping Baronett being better written will help next semester. Also, I'm not convinced that they need to do the difficult proofs Hurley has in the exercise set. I think next semester I'm going to work on giving them a bit more breadth and less depth -- maybe it will work, maybe it won't... either way, I suspect I'll have something to complain about :).

This week I have no sympathy for...

... the rich folks whose greed lead them to invest their fortunes with one guy, who was playing a shell game with their money. I'm sorry, but I don't feel sorry for folks who have been privileged and now have to go get jobs -- welcome to our world. Really, if I had that much money, I could NEVER trust one person with all -- or even a majority of it.

... the folks in California who are getting snowed on. Boo freaking hoo. They just said the following on the radio, "It may be -25 in parts of Minnesota, but California may get a dusting of snow." Yea -- go away. It is cold enough here that the snot freezes in your nose. We passed the dusting of snow a long time ago. The sad part about living in 'paradise' is that it makes you weak -- and, if you can't handle a little snow, you are weak.

... My logic students. If they'd kept on task until two weeks ago, they wouldn't have to be taking this final -- and I wouldn't be grading 46 of them today. Grrrrrr. Really, I should be grading about 20ish, but the little snowflakes couldn't be bothered to do their homework.

Monday, December 15, 2008

One reason to dislike my short commute...

When it's cold, as in below zero, my car doesn't warm up on the way home.

So, when I enter the heated garage under my apartment building, the windows fog up.

So far I haven't hit anything.... tonight I had to roll down the window to avoid stuff.

I suppose it's the sacrifice I'll make for living almost on-campus.

Community college interviews, the process

So, yes -- the academic job market sucks, and so do the rest of the job markets around the country. This means that MORE people will be going to community colleges. Between the 'going back to school to get a degree' to the 'I'll go here to get my general eds done until my prents can afford to send me to a 4-year school', community college enrollment will probably grow significantly... ours already seems to be up quite a bit for Spring 09.

So, it is quite possible that you'll end up with an interview at a community college. It may be the case that our processes at BNCC are diferent --- so take that into consideration...

How the process is different from interviews at a research university or SLAC:
  • Your interview will be 1 hour long, no more.
  • You'll be interviewed by a group of 6-9 folks, only one or two will be from your discipline. The others are administrators and faculty from other disciplines.
  • You will be given a set of questions about 30 minutes in advance.
  • You'll have to do a 10 minute teaching demonstration.
  • You are expected to pay for your own travel etc...

Notice -- there is NO budget for interview costs. You won't get a meal, you won't have any informal chances to talk to folks etc. In fact, we are instructed to be as uniform as possible -- asking the same questions (the ones on the sheet) and only asking individual follow-up questions if you open the door for us.

This isn't how we'd like to do it -- but, it is the way it is...

So, the thing is -- how to handle this sort of interview?

What not to do: -- know that I've seen all of these kinds of behaviors...
  • Focus on your research
  • Name-drop about your grad school mentors
  • Waste our time -- this includes asking questions you could answer within a few minutes of snooping on the internet.
  • Talk AT us instead of TO us
  • Condesend to us, 'cuz WE have jobs -- and you don't, so talking down to us is a bad move.
  • Read your teaching demo, or go over time
  • Blab on and on without realizing you have lots of questions to answer...

What to do:

  • Watch your time. It will tell us how you manage your classroom.
  • Give a teaching demo you can finish in 10 minutes.
  • Talk to us like colleagues, but understand that only a couple of us are in your discipline.
  • Come with a couple of good questions, as you should have time to ask them at the end.

Later -- I'll do a post about the interview questions and other ways CCs are different from the schools you've attended.

Another reason to love my new bloggy-friends...

... we didn't meet to have a cookie exchange.

We met at a restaurant with a bar.

Instead of making elaborate cookies, we ordered drinks, appetizers and food.... and it was brought to us by a cute young boy (well, he was 24).

yea, I like these women!

Next time, those of you from BNCC who also blog MUST come along, you'll love these women!

Another reason the Internet is bad for education...

These days you can get a list of school closings on the internet... sigh.

When I was a kid, we listened to WCCO for school closings.

On impossibly snowy mornings, we'd listen carefully for our school. The announcers read the most recently added schools first, then read all the closings / late starts in alphabetical order.

On days like today when much of the state is snowed in, there would be no commercials and no other news -- this WAS the news that counted, at least when you are 8.

Snowy mornings and WCCO taught me a few things:
  • Patience -- waiting for your school closings is even more difficult than waiting for Christmas... because you weren't so sure your school would be on the list.
  • Regional geography -- If your local schools were on the list, it was pretty likely that your school would be too... So, it was important to know where most of the schools were.
  • Alphabetizing -- When the difference between staying home for hot chocolate and playing in the snow and waiting for the bus to SCHOOL in icky weather, hinges on catching your school's name in a long alphabetical list, you learn -- quickly.
  • Ortonville, MN is EVIL. I hated them. They were the next school in the list -- they were the ones whose name was read instead of ours. They were the ones who got to go back to bed, smug and warm... and, when my old boyfriend's dysfunctional grandparents ended up living in Ortonville, it should have been a sign.
Today, the high will be -1 with a windchill of -28. Tomorrow night it is supposed to be -15, actual temprature. Not cold enough to cancel things, but just cold enough to be inconvenient.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I love the snow --

Snow, snow, snow!!!

I can love the snow because I don't have to shovel it. I also don't have to brush it off my car or deal with it too much...

So, I love watching it come down.

I wonder how many of my students will use the snow as a plea for an extension on their final opinion paper?

I've already had one claim she was up north where it is currently blizzarding (yes, that is a verb!!). Mom's confirmed it is icky up there, so she gets a small extension, mostly because if she died in a car accident I'd feel perpetually guilty -- and, I'm at least 20% sure she's telling the truth.

Budget cuts and debate

Like other schools, BNCC is contemplating budget cuts. We don't anticipate them being drastic -- but, I'm sure things will change a bit.

Right now, I'm glad I don't have to fight for a debate budget. Without a pretty decent budget, BNCC really can't do meaningful debate. BNstate sort-of has a debate circuit, but I decided several years ago --- and after several years of trying to get along/persuade folks to change --- that the local practices were counter to our educational and program goals.

In other words, the folks who dominate debate in this state are -- at best -- backwards and at worst, malevolent and anti-debate. My goal for my students was transfer scholarships. Their goal seemed to be to keep the numbers of their team up and keep the debaters from complaining to adminitration while doing as little actual debating and coaching as possible... not exactly my style.

When we got a travel budget for BNCC, we left and didn't look back.

The problem is that debate is a very intense activity. It changes the lives of the students who participate, but without a local circuit it is very expensive... So, the impact of cutting a program that involves 6-8 students is minimal, but the budget gain is large.

So -- I'm glad I don't have to start defending my debate budget, because I'm not at all sure I could do so if necessary.

I'm also glad I didn't change grad programs in order to do debate -- 'cuz I'd be in deep doo doo right now.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Well, that was fun!!

I have to say, there is nearly nothing as fun as a bunch of smart-ass women bloggers.

I was lucky enough to meet 7, plus an honorary blogger :) -- tonight. And I have Minnesota Matron to thank for organizing us... without her, most of us would still be strangers.

On the way home, I was thinking about how amazing it is that we had such fun talking about some really difficult stuff -- and then I remembered -- blogging women are like that.

I hope y'all have really wonderful holiday celebrations -- even if they do involve your kids :). If not, just think of Snap, Crackle, Pop and Jim -- and go buy yourself a toy.... it will all work out.

The nearly bald one!

The Queen and the Minion scare me...

The Queen is giving the Minion Instructions....

and she's making sure he follows them....

The scary thing is, to my knowledge the Queen has never been up there.... the Minion is exploring new territory -- and she's encouraging him.

this is not good folks --- I need to stay on their good side until Hubby comes home next week.

A semester without PowerPoint

I'll confess, I'm one of those horrible instructors who uses PowerPoint.

I think I do it correctly -- I don't put too much information on each slide. I use the slides for discussion prompts etc... BUT -- I do use it.

My reason is simple -- I generally teach multiple sections of Ethics or Intro to Philosophy. This means that I also write very similar exams for each section -- and I don't want to leave something out of one section that I include in the other section -- and then expect both sections to know it for the exam.

In Spring, I only have one section of Ethics and one section of Medical Ethics. Since I don't need to coordinate multiple sections, I don't need PowerPoint.... or, maybe I don't need so much of it.

The thing is, I don't think that PowerPoint actually increases student learning. They might print the slides and use them to structure their notes -- but, I don't think they actually DO that very often. Instead, when a new slide comes up -- they take their attention away from me or their classmates, they read it and write down what it says. This is pretty irritating, especially when what the screen says is what we've been talking about all along (i.e. I get ahead of my slides...).

I think, instead of having a separate set of slides for every class -- I'm going to have one longer set of slides -- for the whole semester. I may use one or two slides for the whole class (both are evening classes, so that's one or two per night). I'll use the slide to do something like give the bullet points of an ethical theory -- so it is more like an object we'll talk about --- rather than a way of providing an outline for our lecture/discussion.

I'm also considering ways to prompt them to bring their textbook to class -- maybe I'll have a low-point "textbook quiz", in which they get a point or two for writing down what it says on line X of page A.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Cat photos...

Hubby and I should be scared, very, very scared -- That's the Minion and the Queen -- sharing the top of the cat post. His eyes look pretty evil, because they've been plotting something....

The Minion --- in the hat I've been wearing since August....

Of course, he's sitting on my desk. Where else would he be?

The cable guy and cat jail... new ways to procrastinate...

So, I was just getting ready to write when the cable guy came.

His visit requires imposing Kitty Jail on the Queen and the Minion. Generally my office is kitty jail -- as we have french doors and can see what the inmates are doing.

I think this is going to change, as the Queen made not one, but two jail breaks. She had to go to maximum security (i.e. the bedroom). She wasn't happy -- and I'm sure there will be much punishment, as she holds a grudge.

The Minion remained in the office, so watching him yowl and climb the bookcases was entertaining...

Procrastination -- live blogging...

So, I'm supposed to be working on a paper today.

I'm also waiting for the cable guy to show up.

Thus, I'm in full-on procrastination mode -- I do have the file off of my laptop and on my desktop AND I have the article printed that I need to reference.

So far I've:
  • Cleaned the kitchen
  • picked up the living room
  • cleaned my desk and the area around it -- including the CATastrophy created by my darling feline companions when I was on the phone with the cable company.
  • Made coffee -- and figured out that a packet of coco mix added to coffee = a decent mocha...
Later procrastination projects:
  • General grading
  • Washing pots and pans
  • Filling out rebate paperwork for Hubby's new phone
  • Calling to pay the electric bill
  • Making a CD for Wise Woman
For now -- I'm going to write until the cable guy shows up.

This is supposed to be a writing weekend -- so, I'll have plenty of time to do my other procrastination projects.

So much for the sabbatical...

I just wrote an e-mail asking to withdraw my sabbatical application.

Hubby's job situation isn't working out like we thought - -and we can't afford the pay cut.

This isn't a new thing ---- but, somehow I'd hoped it wouldn't happen.

Oh well, it is more likely that hubby will go to law school -- and when he's done, we'll be able to afford a sabbatical.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Last day of classes... YEA!

Today was the last teaching day.

Finals are next week -- and my finals week schedule is pretty easy, since most of the Ethics writing has been turned in and graded already... and the Logic final is easy to grade.

My goal is to have all grades entered by sometime late on Wednesday.

Between now and Monday, I'm writing a paper.... really I am. I may have to leave the house to do so--- if only to avoid the distracting cats and the chaos they've caused in my apartment.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Dear Blog Pals,

I'm sorry if I've missed a post or four recently...

I'm trying, but my cats seem to be very good at the "plop down on Mom's keyboard and activate 'mark all articles as read'," or other inconvenient features of my reader.

Recently they've also rearranged how I my reader shows posts and even my desktop.

Since they don't know you, I'm sure it is me they are trying to make a bit more crazy.... so, please don't take it personally. Eventually the Minion will turn into a regular cat who sleeps all the time and expresses his disapproval of my very existence. Until then, there will be chaos in my apartment.

Advice for the day -- erase the blackboard....

I'm going to tell you my own tale of student woe --- just to remind you that, sometimes we proffies actually make a mistake.

About this time of the year, 20 or so years ago, I was a freshman at an R1.

I was in a pretty darned big American Lit class. We had the usual suspects, sweaty undergrads, overworked TAs and a blow-hard, but fascinating professor. It seemed like college to me.

Because I was kind of a smart little cookie, and because I'd had a good high school education that covered much of the material in the class, I was doing well. I was headed for my first college A and knew it.

One day, it snowed and I was a few minutes late to class. It was the first snow, which causes everyone in my home state to lose all ability to drive -- and around the R1, it was even worse.

On the board it said "Final exam, Wednesday, 1:00" -- Dr. Blowhard was lecturing and I took my seat. I wrote down the words on the board, like any good little freshman -- and was relieved to know when the final exam would be.

Fast forward to Wednesday at 1:00. My little freshman self shows up ready for the exam -- only to find another class there.

I panic.

In my panic, I ran into someone from my class -- who asked why I'd missed the final the day before. This person explained the evil that is the final-exam schedule... something they either didn't cover in orientation or I'd somehow missed it... Remember, this is the first quarter for me -- and all my other classes ended with final papers with due dates on the syllabus.

I consult the syllabus looking for the final exam date -- which wasn't there -- but I do find the Blowhard's office. I go over there, only to have Dr. Blowhard not believe my explanation. He told me he thinks I made it up to get extra time.

The final was worth 35% of the total grade -- my A was now a D.

Moral of the story -- don't be a lazy-ass like Dr. Blowhard -- and the prof before him in the room-- ERASE the board.... and realize that it is possible for you to make a mistake.

The Queen and the Minion...

... seem to have a new game.

'Gauntlet' - in which she takes a position on the floor near me and the Minion tries to pass her.

Since the Minion has serious kitty-ADD/ADHD, he wants to frequentlycome and go from wherever I am.

The result is sometimes just a whapping paw from the Queen to the Minion -- other times it is full-on wrestling match, lasting about 5 seconds.... they've had several since I started writing this.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

New game... guess the attendance....

Update: the answer is 20 -- including all the people presenting....

Factors to consider...

Official class size is 30 (drops and odd things made it small...).
Class time is 7:45. We have no dorms, thus no on-campus students.
Today is a presentation day -- 5 students (one group) will be presenting something that is worth nearly 1/3 of their grade (I'm assuming most of them will make it)
The rest of the class will not be responsible for knowing the material, but they will do a feedback sheet worth small points.

the biggie --- we have 6-8 inches of new snow and it is cold and windy outside.

Go ahead and put your guess in comments --- (yes, even you Sunshine, but you have to post it before 7:45) ---

Monday, December 08, 2008

For the record...

  • Corn state is bland, at it's best. At it's worst --- it is an icy hell.... like today. Actually, most of Corn State was ok, but the northern part -- the part that is right next to BNstate -- sucked.
  • Southern BNstate was ok. It was snowy, but folks seemed sane and the plows were out.
  • The metro area of BNState was a disaster -- snow coming down during rush hour.... re-freaking-diculous...
  • In case you are wondering, a Coldstone ice cream cake will NOT make it from Red State to BNState in the trunk of a Toyota Corolla. If you like that 'melty ice cream with your cake' stuff, it is great. Otherwise, don't try it.
  • The Queen and the Minion made a mess at home. They actually play with balls of yarn -- and have managed to knock a lot of stuff onto the floor.
  • Just now the Minion gave a loud meow (maybe the cat equivalent of a battle cry) and ran head first into the bookshelf. Don't ask me why he did this -- I think the Queen told him to...
  • I'm going to do a few little details, pick up their mess, and go to bed....

On turing 40

... really, I have nothing special or philosophical to say.

I was born 40 years ago today. Thanks Mom!! I bet you were glad to get me out -- finally.

My 39th year was pretty challenging, so I'd like to move on now -- thank you.

Yesterday I got some pretty good work done on a paper I need to write.

Last night we had excellent Indian food. We also booked a short January get away, which will be both fun and relaxing.

This morning I'll have leftovers for breakfast, along with birthday cake :).

Later I'll drive back to BNstate -- which means spending a significant amount of time in Corn State... which isn't really fair on my birthday.

This week is the last week of classes in the semester-o-chemo.

I'll actually miss many of my students. The whole chemo thing seemed to make them see me as a person -- or perhaps give them an avenue to express that the know I am a person -- and for the most part they were decent, kind and hardworking.

Now, if I could only get those results without the whole chemo thing....

Sunday, December 07, 2008

to avoid the writing thing....

My stuff is in bold... what have you done? -- not bad for almost 40, although I need to travel more...

1. Started my own blog

2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than I can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sung a solo - no, but played many on the flute
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched lightening at sea
14. Taught myself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child -- maybe later...
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown my own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitchhiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors -- does Iowa count?
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught myself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied --- maybe after Hubby is done with law school?
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant - no, but I've bought the person behind me coffee in the drive-thru
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance -- for the only time, this summer.
47. Had my portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle -- no, but on a couple of fast snowmobiles on frozen lakes...
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person -- both sides...
80. Published a book -- eventually the dissertation?
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had my picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House - I assume that seeing it from the outside doesn't count as "visiting"
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating -- mom says not to learn to do that... 'cuz you'll always have to do it if you can...
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life - Mom was choking and I gave her the Heimlich.
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous -- I danced with Hubert Humphrey, after he was VP.
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person -- I was little and freaked out a bit... afraid of ghosts or something.
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake - nope, but I have been swimming in more than one Great Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Ridden an elephant

Undergrads are noisy in every state....


I'm at my BA library in Red State. I'm here to do some dissertation work.... but I can't seem to get away from the interruptions of 18 year-olds....

There are four undergrads in a "study" room near me. They are so loud that I can hear them with my headphones on. The group is two girls and two guys -- I can't tell what the purpose of their meeting is -- but, before the meeting the girls had the most insipid conversation I've been forced to hear in a long time.

They won't stay in the room, don't seem to actually DO any work -- They even come out here to talk on their phones -- you know, where it is supposed to be quiet.

Every once in a while they'll see someone they know -- which only increases the volume ---

Kids, this isn't the common area of your dorm, nor is it the student center, coffee shop or a bar. Please leave your mating behaviors and other obnoxiousness in your own space -- and stay the hell out of mine!

I suppose it serves me right for coming on Sunday, rather than Saturday --- when I know they are too hung-over / watching 'the game' or whatever to go to the library. Really, I'm guessing their project is due tomorrow -- and, being typical undergrads, they haven't started yet.

To be fair to BNCC..

My previous post shouldn't be construed, at all, as a complaint about not being acknowledged or appreciated by folks at BNCC. That simply isn't the case -- I've had plenty of people, both administrators and faculty, show their appreciation when I've taken initiative.

The college President himself decided the debate team was important enough to fund. The person who is the acting President this year was hugely supportive of both me and my team. The question was always, 'what can we do to make this happen?'.

As Chair, I've received many accolades from the folks in my division. They've appreciated my efforts to communicate with them, without having monthly meetings most of them can't attend. They've appreciated my suggestions concerning their options for classes, on-line teaching and other things that made their lives better.

It isn't that I'm even feeling over-worked and under-paid. Of course, I'm in academia and my pay isn't amazing -- but, it isn't bad and I have good health insurance (thank GOD for that, this year I've needed it!!!!!!).

Rather, I'm kind of wondering what it would be like to be someone else? Someone who finds it possible to teach and leave. Maybe it's a function of age and seniority -- at least at BNCC, the people who teach and go home are fairly senior. Most of the ones I know about aren't going home to kids -- maybe a spouse and a pet... but, it isn't as if they are leaving quickly and not involved because they have kids getting off the bus.

This may be one of those questions, similar to the ones like 'I wonder what I'd be like if I were _________ (taller, shorter, had rich parents, were Asian, etc). It is impossible to answer, because you can't actually create the circumstances. Maybe it's the older-sister in me, I can't leave things alone -- it's part of my personality, just like my sense of humor and the stuff that makes me cry (mostly sappy songs on my ipod).

So -- I'll continue to wonder, just like I'll wonder about the folks in other kinds of jobs --- who can mostly leave those jobs at work. Some days I'd love to have that kind of a job, but then I realize that even when I had them -- it wasn't the case that I treated those jobs as 'leave the work at work' jobs.

Sigh... tomorrow I'll be 40, don't you think I could get used to being ME in 40 years?

Saturday, December 06, 2008

What is it about me??

I've been thinking about my time at BNCC.... and, really before that.

It is standard for us to teach 15 credits per semester. For those of us in the philosophy factory, that means a 5/5 load. We have no formal advising requirements, but we do have kind of generic service obligations. We also have very, very, very generic research expectations -- in that we are expected to know what's going on in our fields and to look at new pedagogical methods. There is no publication expectation -- and, frankly, they'd rather we only go to conferences that are pedagogical in nature and not connected to our actual academic interests or areas.

The whole time I've been at BNCC, I've been plugging along on my dissertation. I consider that professional development and thus something that I should be doing, mostly for myself. I won't get a raise at BNCC when I finish it. Although the rest of my department is comprised of Ph.D.s -- I don't feel pressure from them to complete, although they are very supportive.

The first four years at BNCC I started and ran the debate team, in addition to my teaching duties. For part of that time, debate was counted as one class in my course load and the last semester I had a 1 course release. Otherwise, I did debate in my 'extra' time. This included hosting a national championship one year, all the work to establish the team and secure funding etc. I also did all of the expense paperwork, travel arrangements and other administrivia.

About the same time I decided not to do debate, I decided it would be a good idea to be department (really division) chair. This is my second year as chair -- and I kind of think nobody else wants to do it -- so I may have it for a while. Being chair at a CC is different from being chair at a 4-year school. Mostly because I have significantly less power, but I still get the same BS to deal with.

As I drove to Red State yesterday, I realized that I've never had a semester in which I wasn't doing something leadership-ish... I've never had a semester in which all I needed to do in most weeks was to teach my students. Many of my colleagues have this EVERY semester --- 'cuz my campus isn't all that different from yours, you know the ones who teach (maybe grade) and go home. I have them too... and I'm kind of envious of their jobs.

Even if you want to count research -- it seems to me that at BNCC the research is stuff THEY are really interested in, and that will directly benefit THEM with a CV line etc. I put this in the same category as my dissertation -- something they do for themselves. I can't count it as 'leadership-ish' stuff.

hmmmm--- -maybe after Hubby finishes law school -- my 9th year at BNCC--, I'll take a 'ROAD' (retired on active duty -- a military term that fits the teach-and-go folks) to see what it feels like. Until then, I'll need to do the extra to pay the bills... which is kind of ok, since I seem destined to do the extra anyway -- why not get paid for it?


I'm caught up with grading.

I know that is kind of amazing -- especially since next week is "grades" day in logic, so my task was to grade their last quiz and then see if they satisfied the conditions for being exempt from the exam.

Sadly, more than a few who were doing well bombed the last quiz. So, they'll have to take the final. I don' t exactly understand why they didn't perform, but I do know that if they'd done their homework they would have performed -- because the quiz questions come from the homework. It is also the case that they can access an answer key for the homework questions, so they have no real excuse.

So -- at the end of the semester I'll need to:
-- grade logic finals (doesn't take too long, thankfully!). Their final exam grade IS their final grade at this point...
-- read and grade opinion papers from the students presenting today... and do the misc. stuff to calculate grades for my Ethics classes.

If I say "uncle", can next week just BE finals week??? I want to get it over!

Wish Hubby luck!!

Hubby is taking the LSAT today. He also has a cold (darned germ-factory students...grrrr).

His previous high score is too old by a year or two...

Wish him luck -- not that he needs it :).

Friday, December 05, 2008

today by the numbers...

2: the number of youngish cats I left home alone for the weekend. It is scary, as the Minion is good at knocking stuff around and I had to use the squirt bottle on the Queen for similar behavior. They've started to hang around together more -- which can only mean that she's training him and, by the time I get back in town, they'll have cooperated with all the other cats in the building to occupy it until catnip is planted in the hallway. Thank goodness they don't have thumbs, or they'd spend the weekend shopping on the internet and looking at kitty-porn.

too many to count: the number of Minion scratches I have. I needed the weekend to heal...

2: the number of fancy coffees it took to get me down here -- the trick is to buy one cold one and one hot one... drink the cold one first, while the hot one cools down enough to drink while driving...

105, 96, 50, 26: The mileage signs counting down to the city in Red State.

$16.00: What it cost me to drive down here.... I love low gas prices!!

6: the number of wind turbine blades I saw on the road between BNstate and Red State. Each of the blades is HUGE!!!!

67: the number of oddball songs in my "Drive and Sing" playlist...

1: (after this one, which I consider to be nearly over) --the number of semesters we have left doing the Long-Distance Marriage thing!

A Friday without Chemo...

I've been doing Chemo on Fridays since September.

Today is the first Friday I don't have it.

Today I:

I don't have to think about exactly what to have for breakfast so that my tummy doesn't get upset.

I don' t have to remember to take the steroids before I leave home.

I don't have to get called from the waiting room three times (hook up the port/draw blood for tests, doctor's appointment, get set-up in the chemo room).

I don't have to get stuck with an inch-long port needle -- and I don't have to remember not to look at it before they stick it in.

I don't have to do the gymnastics necessary to get my port to work.

I don't have to remember to drink more so I can give a urine sample (they seem to think everyone can pee on demand -- I can't, maybe I'm a freak?).

I don't have to get weight and blood pressure checked.

I don't have to answer the same questions every week about my side-effects.

I don't have to have my one breast examined.

I don't have to sit in a semi-comfortable chair hooked into a series of bags of stuff.

I don't have to give my birth date every time I need a new bag of stuff.

I don't have to get IV Benadryl, xanx, Taxol and avastin.

I don't have to wait for the nurse to make my pump stop beeping when a bag runs out.

In short -- I don' t have to get chemo today.

Instead, I'm going to Red State!!!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

"Others" need to mind their own business...

Really, if other folks would pay as much attention to their own duties as they do to the duties of others, my day would have been much better. As it is, things ended well -- but it was freaking exhausing -- and it wasn't my fault. It was the fault of "others".

Those of us in the philosophy factory are too f-ing busy teaching huge classes of un-motivated and often stupid students to go snooping into what folks in other departments are doing... this isn' t the case for "others", they seem to have plenty of time to snoop -- and to bitch about what they find, without actually knowing or asking about the details.

Down in the philosophy factory we are also too busy teaching a 5/5 because we got screwed in the quarter/semester conversion.. so all of our classes are 3 credits. That means that we teach MORE sections, AND our sections are bigger than most departments on campus.... So, every year we teach many more students than the "others" who are snooping around in our business.

In the end, y'all (you "others) need to be grateful that you don't teach under philosophy factory conditions --- because I'd be glad to trade what you think we think we have for your smaller classes and fewer sections. You and I know that teaching a 3 credit section is no more work than teaching a 4 credit section --- that's a dirty little secret I learned at a SLAC. I'd also trade what you think we have for the classroom technology y'all get because you have the political clout on campus that we lack.

Finally -- if some of you "others" did your jobs properly, y'all wouldn't have to worry that we are somehow encroaching on your territory with one of our classes -- 'cuz you'd have the students and we wouldn't. They end up taking that class out of desparation, because you can't seem to teach them the material they need, when they need it. If another group of "others" worried more that your students can't write, my job would be easier.

But -- you don't find me bitching about all of this to anybody ... because I'm too f-ing busy teaching students. Try it sometime -- it may not always be more fun that being a snoopy-ass-bitcher, but it is a lot more rewarding in the long-run.

Also -- look around, your own department(s) have the same stuff going down that you complained about. Solve that first -- then look elsewhere... or, mabye you should just keep your eyes on your own work...

Question for the internets....

I'm taking an informalish poll...

Does your institution or department have a set of schedule rules?

BNCC has the following among their rules:
  • All faculty will be on campus 5 days per week, unless they are teaching TWO night classes (6:00-8:50)... then "an effort" will be made to give them a 4 day per week schedule.
  • No 'back to back' classes... i.e. you can't have a class at 8:50 if you also want to teach one at 7:45 or 9:55.
Some of the others make a bit more sense... but these two?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Hubby had a good night

.... and won a bigger bunch of money at poker than he has before.

We're using most of it to pay debt -- but some of it will go for some R & R in January...

a spa, in a neighboring state.

To say I'm looking forward to it is an understatement.

Grading logic with Spock...

The Minion's real name is Spock.

He's trying to "help" me grade logic quizzes this morning.

Clearly -- he's not as helpful as Mr. Spock -- or, perhaps even Dr. Spock... although, if Spock the cat had a Ph.D. in philosophy, I would put him to work--- or, tell him to get a job.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Common sense updates...

... I have nothing particularly philosophical to say.

  • Two young cats get in more trouble than a young cat and an old cat.
  • The Minion is growing every time I look away -- I think he grew a bunch since this afternoon.
  • My students are tired, I'm tired and we're all cranky.
  • I wish it was December 19.... Hubby would be home, my grades would be done and I could spend the day tomorrow watching the first season of The Office.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Last needle stick...

... until my port flush on December 23.

I had an EKG and MUGA today. I let the MUGA tech put the needle in my arm because I'm not going to need many pokes in the near future...

because, I'm DONE with chemo.

It is kind of weird, because it doesn't seem real -- and probably won't until Friday when I'm not at the clinic.

Until then, I've got a few things to do... finish grading (only 3 papers left -- be jealous...), record a whole lot of stuff in my grade book -- and finish the turkey soup.

But --- I can't do anything until my jeans are dry.