Friday, February 27, 2009

Happy Birthday Hubby..

Poor hubby -- he's 41 and had to spend his birthday without me.

Of course, he went out for tacos and drinks with some students he likes.... and (at least according to him...) resisted going to a strip club with them..... (secret note to Sunshine, imagine Hubby at a strip club -- isn't it funny?)... and, when I spoke with him last, was up $500.00 at poker.  I suspect he's had worse birthdays.

Hubby's  birthday is just after the anniversary of our meeting. We met in 1986 (goodness, that's 23 years ago!!).  The first birthday present I ever got him was a stuffed Opus (penguin) --- This year he has to wait until next week to get what I had planned for him...... :).

So -- wish Hubby a happy birthday --- and hope that 41 is better than 40.

Planning a funeral/party I won't be attending....

Since Grandpa wanted to be cremated, we're in no hurry for a funeral.

As Anastaisa as noted -- it's important to have a funeral... and we're having one, just not while I'll be in town.

But -- I've been deeply involved in finding the place, figuring out the food and all the other details -- which I'm sure my family will enjoy.

Instead, I'll be going to visit one of Grandpa's younger sisters in the southern part of BNState. We don't think she should be alone on the day of her last surviving brother's funeral.  

I have to say, I'm ready to come come home... the next cousin down (Aunt S's older child) is here.  She's competent and can keep track of Mom and Aunt S.... they'll be in good hands when I leave.  Even the thought of a ton of snow in BN state doesn't keep me from getting home sick...

Florida is nice, but -- enough is enough.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

All kinds of family drama...

So -- I'm still in Florida.

Yep, the idea was a quick trip down on Thursday night, back by Sunday evening -- a little time with Grandma and I'm done.

Not so fast -- my grandfather threw us a curve ball.... 

He's had an aortic aneurism for a long time -- it's a family thing for the men on his side of the family.  He had the Mayo do some new reinforcing technique to fix it about 5 years ago.

Last week on Wednesday, it burst.  He went into 7 hours of emergency surgery and then the intensive care unit.  He made some progress for a day or two - and then began to slip.  

On Sunday last week, some other family members were going back home -- and it became really clear that Grandpa probably wouldn't last long. That is when I decided to cancel class for the week and stay here.  I knew that I'd be needed by Super-mom and Aunt-S -- and especially since last semester I did breast cancer with only two days of class canceled... the school could survive without me for a week when they needed me the most.

I could see that we'd need to move Grandma to a rehab unit, sit with Grandpa and probably plan a funeral with all the little details that go along with it --- and I couldn't stand the thought of leaving my mom and Aunt S to do all of that.

On Tuesday afternoon, the family made the decision to withdraw treatment and he passed away about 5:45 PM.  

Grandma is doing very well with her recovery -- and now we're planning grandpa's funeral.  

I'll be here until this Sunday -- when I get home, I'll post the details behind why I found myself saying "I'm a medical ethicst and I don't like the way this conversation is going...".  Until then, my internet options are a poached signal from the wine bar or the library.... so, y'all probably won't hear from me until then.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Queen and the Minion....

... really seem to like Sunshine better than me. I suspect she gives them nip, but -- I could do that too....

They give me funny looks, as if to ask where she is and when she's coming back?

Good thing she's coming to stay when I go this weekend ---

Things I'm not taking to Flordia...

1) My computer. I'm going to be off-line from Thursday morning to Sunday night. I don't think that's happened for several years.

2) Any more grading than I can do on the flights down and back.

3) Warm clothes -- I can't help but bring my closed-toe shoes -- but, no coat, sweatshirt etc... I'll wear a sweater down there.

Florida -- tomorrow... wierd...

Somehow it doesn't seem like I'm going to Florida tomorrow.

The laundry I'll need to pack is in the dryer. I'll fold and pack later today.

The cats' other mommy is coming to stay again -- I'm sure they'll like her better than they like me by the time I get home --

The ticket was purchased and - thanks to AMEX points, it was pretty cheap. AMEX points aren't really good for much else, but a big discount on a last-minute airline ticket is a pretty good deal.

Someone will pick me up in Orlando -- and I seem to have someplace to sleep....

I finally got a chance to talk with mom last night -- Mom is exhausted and Grandma is doing great. Grandma's not on any pain medication and she keeps wanting to get up to go to the potty... which isn't recommended until today.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

On the road again....

Turns out that this weekend is a good weekend for decent priced flights to Florida, even at this late date.

I'm going down day after tomorrow --- So I can see Grandma and most of the rest of the clan.

I'd go there whenever, but -- the fact that it's supposed to get cold and snowy again here this weekend didn't make me want to stay.

Dang, California and Florida in under a month....

So far...s o good news on Grandma...

My uncle sent an e-mail passing on the news that Grandma survived the surgery and things look good so far.

Thanks for the good thoughts -- I may end up on a quick trip to see her and to help super-mom this weekend...

Of course, the fact that I'd leave on Thursday when it is supposed to be below zero -- and I'd be going to Florida doesn't make any difference..... really :).

Monday, February 16, 2009

Good vibes to Florida for Grandma Joy.... please

My grandmother is 92 -- and has always been a sweet, kind, gentle and wise person.

Recently, she's been failing slowly. Neither her heart nor her short-term memory have been doing very well in the last few years. She's been "lost" in Wal-Mart and Home Depot... i.e. shopping when she's supposed to be walking for exercise on rainy Florida days. She's been a bit foggy, but as always quite sweet about it...

More recently, she's had a bit of a challenge and she's going into surgery tomorrow morning.

My mom is with her. Mom's a nurse and is sure this is the right decision -- even though her mother may not survive surgery due to her weakened heart.

So -- send some good vibes, if you have them to spare, toward a sweet little old lady in Florida. She grew up the middle daughter of a Michigan mining engineer in the U.P. She went to college in Iowa and has a degree in Home Ec (one of the few degrees women could get then). She fell in love with an Iowa boy, had four amazing kids, 9 grandchildren (all with college educations) and 5 beautiful great-grandchildren. When her own kids were grown, she began to help other families as a social worker in the difficult parts of Des Moines. Eventually she and my grandfather retired from the State of Iowa and moved to Florida.

Good vibes, Grandma Joy... we love you!

I hope you English folks appreciate me....

... because, after Spring Break I may be a big cranky with you -- in general.

I agreed to be on an English search committee at BNCC.

Of course, most of the meeting times we've scheduled will make my M and W days 13+ hours...

serves me right for being agreeable.

I probably should have negotiated MW starting times before I said I'd do it.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy VD!!

If you have someone you love in a romantic way, I hope you're with them.

If you don't -- then, I hope you're spending the day with your friends or family...

We're hanging out in Red State, eating excellent chocolates and trying not to be sick.

Tonight we'll get take-out and be really laid-back.... going out to dinner on V-Day is a mess I don't want to get into.

All weekend, the 100% scholarship thing has been sinking in for Hubby --

Have a great day, a relaxing evening and a good weekend!

Friday, February 13, 2009

The unethical nature of the LAC

I think many Liberal Arts Colleges or Universities play a bait-and-switch game with their students and parents.

I'm talking about a particular kind of Liberal Arts College/University --- be it small or large. Let me describe it to you ---
  • Markets itself to parents as a good place to learn, with small classes and lots of student/faculty interaction.
  • Has high tuition ($30,000/ year and above).
  • Has substantial research expectations of its faculty and a standard 3/3 or 4/4 load..
  • Has aspirations to be a research university, thus it makes hiring and P/T decisions based on research and not on teaching ability.
Understand that my criticisms below mostly apply to disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, if only because I understand how they work. They may or may not apply to the hard sciences or other areas.

Also -- understand that I'm not saying everyone at such a place IS unethical, only that the structure of such a place tends to reward unethical treatment of students. Of course, many folks do well by their students in such an institution but that is because they work hard to do so in a system that is not designed to facilitate good teaching.

The problem is that, in such institutions, the structure of the institution makes it difficult to be both a good teacher and a good researcher. Of course, they make noise about research influencing teaching -- blah, blah, blah -- BUT, unless a) the research is about teaching itself or b) the research is at an undergraduate's intellectual level, it seems unlikely that there is substantial overlap between scholarship and the classroom. It is a rare person who is a good researcher and can communicate complex concepts to undergrads in a meaningful way. Often those folks are discounted as "just good teachers".

The unethical part about this is that the students or their parents are paying a lot of money and they are not getting the education they are paying for. If they were, the professors would either have fewer classes or lower research requirements. As it is, the professor's time is divided between teaching and research -- and when grading is put in the teaching side of the equation, the time for preparation and thought about the classroom experience is significantly decreased. Add to that an institutional structure that expects and rewards research AND the fact that research is generally more interesting, it pretty clear why most people will slight the classroom for the research.

This is different from ACTUAL research universities (R1s)-- in three ways....

1) R1s aren't marketed to parents as being student-focused places for high quality education due to small class sizes and high faculty/student interaction. Instead R1s market themselves as being a place where excellent students can excel. There isn't an illusion of being student-focused. Perhaps you can claim that their marketing implies student interaction with research super-stars, but that is easier to see as bogus than the LAC's claims of significant faculty interaction.

2) The faculty at R1s teach fewer sections and often have TAs to do stuff like grading. Thus, they CAN put some additional thought into the classroom presentation because they don't have to do the grading part. That isn't to say that they DO, but -- if they spend 20% of their work time thinking about classes, then that time is not consumed with grading.

3) Many R1s are state schools, so costs are subsidized by tax dollars and -- as a result, it isn't the case that tuition dollars must be spent on research. The state R1 has two stated purposes, teaching and research -- and thus two benefits to the state. Private R1s are schools that come with a high degree of prestige for their graduates, so it can be argued that their tuition dollars are an investment that buys a name that will open doors and result in higher salaries.

This isn't to say that the CC system (or, at least BNCC) doesn't have unethical elements in it's structure -- my Intro, Ethics and World Religions class sizes are a perfect example -- but, our tuition is lower and the student/faculty interaction is higher. We aren't marketing ourselves as a perfect little educational cocoon in which your precious snowflake will be intellectually nurtured and developed -- rather, our marketing is something like "Our tuition $150/credit hour, their tuition $340/credit hour".

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A couple more times....(maybe three...)

.... are all I'll have to drive Corn State by myself.

Hubby comes up in a couple of weeks -- then March is the Spring-Break-a-thon (ours are back to back, so he'll come home for a week, then I'll come back with him and after we run debate nationals, we'll fly back to our respective places) -- which consumes much of March.

April I'll come down a couple of times -- and then Hubby will be home.

This revelation made my drive down much easier. It also made me see how tired I am of this long-distance stuff.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Scary news about the Minion

Is your cat plotting to kill you?

I took this quiz with the Minion in mind.

The results would be similar, if not higher for the Queen.

Between them -- I don't seem to have a chance....

zombie attack...


I suppose this is also good news -- although I'm not too worried about a zombie attack.

It seems that, in BNstate, someone has figured out how to hack the digital road signs to include zombie warnings. God, I love living here.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

More Awsome News!!!

Hubby applied to two law schools... both of them local.

BN state school, which has a pretty decent ranking and a relatively new but private and respectably ranked school.

We just got a letter telling him he got a full tuition scholarship to the private school.

Hot damm!

Someone just offered us about $100,000.00 worth of tuition.

Of course, the question will be what to do if a pretty good offer comes from the state school. It is more competitive and highly ranked, but it will cost us more.

But -- right now I'm very proud and very happy that there is a good option for my sweet Hubby. He's so smart, compassionate and articulate -- he'll be a great lawyer... and, this takes the sting out of the job market BS that happened this year.

Where I turn into a cranky old woman....

... you know, the one in the neighborhood who yells at the kids to get off her lawn.

Except -- this is a group of "adults" who have repeatedly ignored my polite and then not so polite requests to be quiet outside my classroom.

Yesterday I went out three times in 1 hour.

No more -- I've got the number for campus security and I'm going to use it. It's always the same group being obnoxious and distracting my students. Other faculty have had problems with the same group --- so, this isn't a secret. Clearly, they're blowing us off.

So-- asshats, when the campus security comes around to tell you to break up the party, you shouldn't be surprised... although, since you are BNCC students (probably), you have bad pattern recognition and little retention of material -- so, it may take a few phone calls to train you.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Where were you when....

As seen at Anastasia's

1.) Challenger space shuttle exploded (1986):
Orono High school -- didn't see it, but several classes were watching it live.

2.) Berlin Wall falls down (1989):
I don't remember where specifically -- but, I would have been living in MN going to school and working a lot.

3.) Oklahoma City federal building bombing (1995):

I remember watching the coverage in our tiny third bedroom in our first base housing house at Offutt AFB, NE. It was chilling because Omaha was a secondary target.

4.) OJ Verdict (1995):

At work at the beauty supply company -- with lots of red necks. Their commentary was more ignorant than I'd expected.

5.) Princess Diana dies (1997):
I'm sure I lived in Omaha, but I don't recall finding out. She was beautiful and sweet -- but, I was up to my ears in a crazy school/work combo, so I could only notice so much --- and she wasn't on my radar.

6.) Columbine massacre (1999):
Again, we were in Omaha. The thing that was chilling about it was that my job in Denver included making appointments down in that area. Also, my first job in Denver (cleaning houses -- ick!), was based in a neighborhood very near the school. The woman I used to work for had elementary school kids who would have grown up to go to Columbine. Also, a relative of Hubby's went to school there for a while.

7.) JFK Jr. Plane crash (1999):
I remember sitting on the swing in the back yard of our second base housing house, talking about it with a friend who was in town for a week -- we drank a lot of wine that night --- and she was much more traumatized than was I.

8.) Bush/Gore crazy election (2000):
We watched the returns at Hubby's undergrad (and current uni). After a long while, we left --- the campus was quiet and dark. Hubby didn't really go to bed until the retracted concession.

Funny thing was that four years later we had debaters over for an election night party. One of them was a Japanese exchange student who asked how long this would go -- when we told her that last time it lasted weeks, she kind of thought she'd be staying at our place for weeks :).

9.) September 11, (2001):
I remember this one vividly. I was on the couch in our last apartment in Omaha. Hubby was sleeping and I was going to start on a mountain of grading. The TV was on to the morning news programs when they interrupted things to report the first plane going in. They were showing the first one burning live when the second hit. I then went in to wake Hubby... who asked, "what, another Cesna?"

We spent that day with a couple of debaters and every possible information source on at the same time. One of the debaters suggested going down to Offutt AFB to see Air Force One land. We convinced him that wouldn't be a good idea, as they guys at the gate had real bullets for the first time EVER.

It was also weird to see the neighborhood we'd just moved out of gaurded by guys with real guns -- and to see Bush go into the door where I regularly picked up Hubby.

10.) Space ship Columbia disintegrates (2003):
I don't remember the specifics, but I do recall it --- mostly because it was so different than Challenger.

11.) Hurricane Katrina hits (2005):
Washington DC for the American Political Science conference.

7 more goodbyes...

I just said goodbye to Hubby. He drove away in our little green Jeep Liberty --- the vehicle we've had so much fun in. The front seat is tilted just the way I like it -- my foot rests comfortably on the dashboard.

Every time he leaves, it feels like I should be going with him. Especially now, when he knows he only has this last semester at his uni ---so he doesn't want to go back.... and I know it would be better for him if I were there.

I just counted -- we'll have seven more of these goodbyes -- including the times I leave Red State to return to BNstate and the time in March we'll say goodbye in some airport because he'll be flying back to Red State and I'll be flying back to BNstate.

Seven is a good number -- I can handle it, even if I don't like it.

I'm eager to get on with the next phase of our adventure. I know he'll love law school. I know we can make it on my salary and that my job is pretty darned secure (nothing's perfect, but being tenured at a state college with increasing enrollments does mean that if we "go out of business", things have turned from terrible to horrendous).

I'm looking forward to the more than minor hassle of dealing with all the stuff he'll bring home from Red State.

I'm looking forward to times when I'm sick of him -- and he of me. That means we'll really have spent some time together... and, like getting caught up on our sleep --- we'll have gotten caught up on each other.

I'm looking forward to coming home from work and finding him here -- even if he's left the laundry and dishes undone because his game got intense. I'll be irritated, but not too much.

I'm looking forward to nagging him to clean the cat box.

I'm looking forward to wanting to be alone for a bit when he or I have to travel -- because then the travel isn't just another weekend we can't see one another.

In short, I'm over this long-distance thing and I want a 'normal' (for us anyway) life back.

Can I have it now instead of May -- pretty please?

Friday, February 06, 2009

"Normal" never sounded so good!

My first oncology check-up today --- my PET scan was completely normal.

So, no indication of cancer. I suppose I'll worry about them every time, but the first one is a good milestone!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Waning, I hold a grudge.... for a long flipping time...

I'm finding that I have a rather unpleasant personality trait.

I hold a grudge.

In many ways I'm easy to get along with. I think I'm generally pretty laid-back, reasonable and respectful. I also have a fairly long fuse -- sure, I get irritated -- but getting me really mad takes a prolonged effort and some serious ass-hattery.

Three-plus years ago -- an ass-hat in the local debate community pissed me off. It took him a while, I tried to play nice and persuade him that his view was not only mistaken but actually anti-educational. He thought he was king-shit and ignored me. I also suspect a lot of sexism -- which would fit the larger picture.

In response, I raised the funds to take my teams out of state to avoid his stupid-ass rules. The one thing I wanted to do was to take the team to the state championships.... which really are kind of a joke, especially since they don't seem to do anything to sort teams by ability (my 'bad' teams win, by actually good team(s) lose predictably). The thing is, not all of my teams were going to nationals, so going to state would be their last tournament and I wanted it to be a decent experience for them.

The ass-hat unilaterally inserted his rules into the "official" event description, counter to the procedures of the state organization. I caught him ('cuz I don't trust him at all), busted him and he had to not only change it but post a retraction of the change. He claimed it was a mistake, but I know better. He was trying to disadvantage my teams and it pissed me off even more than when he fixed two prelim rounds to keep my teams from advancing in his tournament..

Fast-forward to today.... I have no teams in the tournament and no reason to care -- except that I hold a grudge....

You guessed it --- I followed a link and found that the ass-hat included his "rules" to the event description.

I don't know that this wasn't blessed by the organization. If it was, they deserve the stupid-ass rounds they hear.

I did send a couple of e-mails that question the inclusion of his "rules". One went to the sweet and very fair person who is in charge of the state organization. The other went to the one coach in the state who actually takes his teams to debate nationals (aka my only debate coach pal in the state).

IF the ass-hat is pulling a fast one, these two will object like they did last time.

Larger moral of the story --- don't take the effort necessary to really piss me off.... I'll watch you, I'll bide my time, and I'll get you.

Hubby's on the way home!!!

Right now my honey should be past Corn State (as opposed to Corn University).

That means he's less than 3 hours away from me, the Queen and the Minion.

We are all waiting impatiently to see him.... well, to be honest, the Queen may be at least as impatient as I am -- and the Minion is off chasing something small (i.e. an impromptu toy, like a paper clip, penny etc...).

Tomorrow I have my first oncologist check-up. Cross your fingers for me --- I'd love some good news!!

We're also buying a new TV, as the 15 year-old one died in the middle of The Office (i.e. just after the Super Bowl). While he's here, Hubby will also need to take down the Christmas tree.... yea, I know it's February.

Getting myself involved...

... I may be sorry, but I actually volunteered to be on a search committee -- in someone else's discipline.

It's probably because I usually like the person who asked me. We've worked on things before and I find that they have a good sense of humor and don't tend to want to do stuff on Fridays :).

I also think serving on search committees is interesting and difficult, and that someone from their department served on one for us a while back -- so we kind of owe them.

Of course, there will probably be much complaining and whatnot here as the search happens -- but, for right now I'm kind of excited about it.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

I know why the Minion is such a spaz...

... at least since yesterday.

Two days ago I made a buffalo mac-n-cheese mix -- it was pretty icky, don't try it.

There was a lot of extra sauce -- kind of like buffalo-wings flavored soup...

Being lazy and essentially living by myself, I left the sauce in the bowl.

Today I noticed it was gone and the bottom of the bowl was licked clean.

The Queen isn't into human food -- and the Minion is into everything.

It has to be the case that the Minion lapped it up --- thus, he's zipping around fueled by buffalo-wing-like spices...

The meeting with my new dean...

... went very well.

It was nice that we sat down, at the start, and discussed how we should work together.

It was fantastic that we work in the same way -- and that we have the same sorts of expectations for the work.

I figured it would be a good thing, as she's an "acting" dean who has been a colleague on my hall for all the time we've both been at BNCC.... and, she's just a generally nice person.

Also -- it seems the old collection of disciplines -- minus one -- will be back together again in my department. That's a good thing -- as the folks I'm 'getting back' are easy to work with and responsible about meeting deadlines.

Also -- unlike the old dean - this one wants to have a quick meeting every month so we can discuss things and stop problems before they start. That's something I'd have liked to do with the old dean.

Yep - yesterday was a good day.

Wish me luck today -- I have PET scan, which will give my oncologist information for my Friday check-up....

Sunday, February 01, 2009

RBOC: pro football edition...

  • Does it say something about me that I'd rather watch Puppy Bowl?
  • My plans for tonight are to eat a frozen pizza from Trader Joe's and grade while the football is on in the background.
  • I'd skip watching it all together, but The Office is on after -- and I don't want to risk missing it...
  • I also like the commercials -- the game, I suppose I'd be more excited if Green Bay or the Vikings were in it -- but, otherwise.. eh.
  • I think NFL players ought to only be allowed to say they are from _____ school, if they graduated from that school.

Home sweet home...

As much as I like to travel, I also like coming home.

As much as I like San Diego -- I wouldn't want to live there. It's just too much pressure to have all that nice weather all the time. You'd have no excuse to have lazy snowy days... I don't think I could take it.

I also see, in a way, why some folks in southern CA think very highly of themselves -- they somehow think they deserve to live in a place with amazing weather and scenery. I found myself thinking I couldn't live up to all that stunning natural beauty.

I also see why many Californians are terrible drivers. The problem is a basic lack of adequate signs and terrible freeway and road design. As a result, driving becomes a competitive sport for them -- and the rules/playing field is unpredictable.

When I got home yesterday it was up to 48 degrees -- according to my car's outside temp. reading. It was wonderful -- I opened the windows in the bedroom to celebrate!!

The Queen and the Minion have forgiven me -- and so far there's been no sign of extreme-peeing... which seems to be the Minion's new sport. I'm contemplating a short, heavily supervised visit to the bedroom for him.... or, maybe not.

TV meme...

1. Bold the shows you watch/used to watch.
2. Italicize the shows you’ve seen at least one episode of.
3. Bold and italicize the shows you own* on DVD.
4. Post your answers.

50. Quantum Leap

49. Prison Break

48. Veronica Mars

47. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

46. Sex & The City

45. Farscape

44. Cracker

43. Star Trek

42. Only Fools and Horses

41. Band of Brothers

40. Life on Mars

39. Monty Python

38. Curb Your Enthusiasm

37. Star Trek: The Next Generation

36. Father Ted

35. Alias

34. Frasier

33. CSI Las Vegas

32. Babylon 5

31. Deadwood

30. Dexter

29. ER

28. Fawlty Towers

27. Six Feet Under

26. Red Dwarf

25. Futurama

24. Twin Peaks

23. The Office

22. The Shield

21. Angel

20. Blackadder

19. Scrubs

18. Arrested Development

17. South Park

16. Dr Who

15. Heroes

14. Firefly

13. Battlestar Galactica

12. Family Guy

11. Seinfeld

10. Spaced

09. The X-Files

08. The Wire

07. Friends

06. 24

05. Lost

04. The West Wing

03. The Sopranos

02. Buffy the Vampire Slayer

01. The Simpsons