Thursday, April 30, 2009

Thnking about spring...

... on the deck.

Once Hubby comes home with the Jeep, I'll buy a table :)!! YEA!!

The big question is what kind of plants to buy?

I'll have some flowers, and at least one tomato plant, some basil and chives.. but, I have a lot of pots out there.

I'm thinking about more green plants, catnip, cat grass, extra chives and other stuff that doesn't flower, but is just green. I could also get some spiky stuff, some ferny stuff and other things that are green. The advantage to this plan is that they don't need to be deadheaded, they generally use less water and will survive my neglect more easily.

I like the idea of having a little green patio... hmmm.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Peer paper reviews..

... were a really good idea tonight.

My class tonight wrote some pretty good drafts. I suspect it's because they're writing on a topic they had to research for presentations, so they've been thinking about the topic for a while and have sources to use.

I went out of my way to make a good number of comments because the final paper is worth 25% of their grade. I also had them do a total of four rounds of paper exchanges.

The first round was an experiment -- I paired up students according to their grades on the draft... high/high and all the way down. They may or may not have had similar topics. Their task was to read the paper and tell the other person what it was about. The idea was that hearing another person's reporting the paper would help them to see what the ACTUAL focus of the paper is, not what the author thinks the paper is about.

The next three rounds were paired by a variety of means -- similar topic and position on the topic, complimentary topics and then just people who would give one another good feedback.

Each pair had 45 minutes to read, make comments and discuss. Next time I think I'll reduce the time a bit -- maybe 30 minutes per rotation.

At the end, more than a few students looked at me with some admiration... they actually appreciated the time and effort it takes to read and comment on a paper. When they realized that within 10 days I read about 70 drafts -- they came to appreciate the kind of effort and concentration that takes.

It really was nice to have them recognize the effort -- especially on a night when I'm pretty fried from reading so danged many drafts :).

I think next semester I'm going to do peer paper exchanges earlier in the semester.. I'm not sure how that will work, but I think that reading another student's work is very helpful enough to make time to put it in earlier rather than later.

I'm also toying with the idea of doing a very early, short, argument paper -- with a minimal research requirement. The paper would be pass/fail and I could use it to get students writing help earlier in the semester -- before it's too late.

A day of hope and panic...

.. all in my logic class.

Some of them are finally getting a clue, or perhaps just now figuring out that they've had a clue all along.

Others are seeing that I wasn't kidding when I told them to come to class, do the homework and ask questions.

The differences are amazing -- they've all been in the same class, but the differences betwen their abilities are akin to the differences between a native language speaker and my (terrible!) ability to speak any other language.

Tonight Bioethics will get their drafts back. I've decided to take some mercy on them and devote the next two weeks to working them over...

Of course, that's kind of a trap -- as I'll also expect more of their final product.

We shall see... one way or the other, next week is the last regular week of classes --- then finals and SUMMER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anybody want a Congres person...

... because I'm officially kicking one of ours out of the state.

She's just made a correlation between the current Swine Flu epidemic and the last one -- namely, that they've both happened under Democratic Presidents....

1) Umm.. no, the last one was when Ford as President-- he's one of your guys.
2) What do you really mean, that God hates Democrats and is trying to punish us for electing Obama?
3) If that's your theory... then 9-11 happened under the Republicans --

Really, she's too stupid to remain a citizen of my state.

I'm embarrassed that she went to the same high school my nieces and nephews will all graduate from.

I'm sad that she went to the same college as one of my favorite former colleagues.

She doesn't list her law school on her website -- but, according to Wikipedia, she has a law degree from Oral Roberts (no shock there!).

Every one of those institutions should demand their diplomas back.

Her hometown is a really cute little town over on the river -- can't we just move her onto a sandbar in the middle?? Maybe, just maybe, technically she'd be without a state (I don't want to foist her on cheese state, they don't deserve her).

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Another pile of drafts -- today.

I have at least 25 drafts in my bag and I haven't started yet -- so, why not blog??

I hope this pile of drafts is better than the last one... I have some hope, but I'm also concerned...

I'm working at home today with the windows open -- and the frogs in the wetland outside my window are going nuts... it must be some kind of frog orgy out there.

Other stuff..
I had to go around and beg someone to be the 'second' name put forward for department chair. We have an odd contract provision that says that administration selects chairs from among two names. The problem is, it isn't usually the case that two people actually WANT to be chair. This year we tried to put someone up who will be on sabbatical next year --that didn't fly, so I had to ask the next qualified person I saw. She accepted, with the provision that she didn't want the job and I should make that very clear when I put both names forward.

Also -- I love my department... Yesterday we discussed the 'who votes' question. One of my brilliant colleagues suggested part-time folks get a vote that corresponds to their teaching load. So, if someone is teaching 80% of a full-time load, they'd get a vote that is a .8 of a vote.

This solved the problem of having someone who isn't particularly vested in the college having a vote that equals the vote of someone who is at BNCC forever.

So -- yea them!!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Department votes -- who gets to?

First of all, my "Department" at BNCC is comprised of several disciplines. We are all grouped together under one department chair (me, oddly enough). As a result, we don't have to make many decisions as a group. Each discipline is so unique that they all have different ways of conducting business and I try not to get too involved... which is probably what makes me a decent department chair.

But, in case two folks actually WANT to be department chair, we'll need to have a vote. It is also possible that we'll have to make decisions as a group... I'm not sure why, but we could.

The question is, who gets to vote.

The way I understand it, only full-time (tenure track) folks voted last time. This doesn't seem quite right to me, as the department chair's actions impact the adjunct folks as well.

Also, we have some folks who are full-time in other departments (English etc..) who teach one class per semester in my department. Do they get to vote? They are full-time elsewhere, but -- kind of -- adjuncts in our department.

I think now is a good time to talk about this, as I'm pretty sure I'm the only candidate for department chair -- so, there's no need for a vote.

So -- for those of you in departments with a variety of kinds of positions -- how do you decide who gets to vote?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The end of another era...

...or, at least the end of another kind of odd period in my life.

I've learned never to say "never" about Red State City...

When I finished my BA, I said I'd never regularly be back to that campus again -- except, that I was... both as a student and as an instructor.

When we moved out of base housing here, I said I'd never be back on base -- except, the next quarter I was teaching down there (best class, ever -- by the way. They were all in technical jobs in the Air Force and could follow directions!!).

So -- I figure it's best not to tempt Red State to suck me back again.

For now, what I can say is that I've probably had my last visit for love... at least for a while. I may end up back here for dissertation meetings, but for the next three years Hubby will be the one kissing me goodbye and staying home with the Queen and the Minion.

This has been a good weekend... the highlights:
  • Indian food -- YUM!! Enough for dinner on Thursday night and leftovers for lunch yesterday.
  • Good meeting with Dr. Advisor -- it put me on a writing path that should make my summer productive.
  • Good dinner at our favorite brew-pub place Friday. Hubby had leftovers yesterday.
  • Great visit to the zoo. It was rainy and cold, so it wasn't crowded. The zoo here is pretty spectacular for a city this size. It's compact, has several really good ecosystem-based exhibits and is one of the great things about this city.
  • Lovely afternoon/evening longing about reading books -- followed by Hubby getting take-out from our favorite barbecue place.
Today, the plan is to stuff my car full of hubby's things, maybe have some brunch and hit the road with my podcasts of Answer Me This -- which is really funny and more than a bit bawdy...

Answer Me This is clearly not intended for young kids (they'd learn way too many words for male private bits.. for one), or for playing out loud at work. If you like the British sense of humor -- try it. I subscribed to it on itunes and downloaded most of the free back episodes. Each one is about 25 minutes, so if you're driving, you don't need to fiddle with your ipod every 5 minutes... which can get very irritating.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Teaching / dissertation / life balance...

I've been thinking a lot about this lately -- it's a big puzzle.

The one good thing about Hubby being gone so much is that I could work whenever I needed/wanted to. So, I could spend a whole afternoon and evening reading papers and get 70ish of them graded. I could spend the whole afternoon last week giving extensive comments on about 30 (really bad) ethics drafts. I didn't have to worry about Hubby and whether or not I was ignoring him.

I suspect his being in law school next year will create similar circumstances -- but, it's also going to be the case that when he's free-- I'm going to be less likely to want to be working.

This semester I decided I've assigned way too much writing. My Ethics class had 6 3ish page writing assignments and one longer persuasive essay -- that had a few developmental assignments attached to it. That's a total of 10 graded writing assignments, in a class of 50 students.

I think that, from now on, for classes of 50 students I'm going to have no more than 1 or 2 3ish page papers, plus an exam or two. For Ethics and Bioethics, I'm going to keep the persuasive paper at the end, including the developmental assignments and the draft, but maybe only have one or two papers -- and the first one will be pass/fail -- so the students can see if they're writing at what I consider to be college level.

I think what I'm going to add are short (5-10 questions, max) on-line reading quizzes. The quiz will cover the highlights of what I want to discuss in class for the week -- and will close at the start of class time.

I stopped doing quizzes because they were a hassle to write, print, grade and record... but, the on-line system just needs me to write them.... it does the rest. I also didn't like having to take class time to do quizzes because it was wasted time for the majority of students, as they had to wait for their slow classmates to finish. I refused to give make-up quizzes -- so then I had to either drop grades, accept a make-up assignment or listen to a bunch of whining...

My plan is to have the quiz up and available no later than Thursday of the week before the class discussion-- so they have all weekend and until their first class meeting of the week to take the quiz. I'll probably allow them to take it twice, with the higher score counting -- because stuff happens -- but, it should only happen once. I'm not dropping low scores or anything -- they're small points anyway, so dropping one out of 15 isn't all that helpful.

We have good computer labs at school -- so folks without computers / internet at home will need to plan to come to campus to take the quiz. They manage to write papers now using a computer, they can manage to go on-line to take the quiz.

So -- with weekly quizzes, 1-2 short papers, 1-2 exams and maybe a longer paper -- -I'll still be busy prepping and grading, but not quite like this semester.

I know quite a few of you do a lot of on-line teaching -- does my quiz policy/plan sound reasonable to you??

Friday, April 24, 2009

Well, that wasn't as bad as it could have been...

I had a good meeting with Dr. Advisor today...

We discussed the three chapters I gave him and discussed the changes -- and, we agreed on what needed to be done. I haven't read his extensive written comments, but I suspect they'll be quite helpful, as usual.

This writing project has been difficult for me because I'm reluctant to actually write my own philosophical viewpoints. I keep thinking I need to stick to what others have said -- but, that's not what's interesting.

The end result is that much of the 'lit review'ish stuff will go away. The remaining stuff will only be used in select spots.

Also, what was chapter 2 and wasn't 'lit review' will be in chapter 1.

Chapter 3 will be split into chapters 2 & 3 and developed much further.

Three guesses as to what I'm doing this summer, and the first two don't count.

ps -- when I got back to town, Hubby and I went out for dinner -- and I had two whole drinks....which is a lot for me.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Just so you know...

... if you happen to be in Corn State and need night crawlers, you can buy "Canadian" night crawlers at Kum and Go (yes, that's how they spell it... I'm not at all kidding! In southern Corn state there is a location with a Kum and Go and a Quick Lube... really).

They're in a little styrofoam cooler in the drink cooler -- right between the cold coffee drinks and the energy drinks.

No, I'm not kidding -- a box of worms, for sale next to food.

I didn't buy anything from that section.

I do wonder if the worms have a Canadian accent and use "eh" properly?

Just one more weekend in Red Sate!

It's pretty weird to think that after this weekend I won't be back here on a regular basis.

This city has been part of my life since the Air Force sent us here in 1993...

Even when we lived together in BNstate, we ended up here at least once a year for debate tournaments.

After this weekend, I don't think we'll be back here nearly as often. Of course, as soon as I say something like that, Hubby and I will be offered perfect jobs here --- and we'll have a hard time saying no... that's kind of how it works.

I will miss this city, but I'm not going to miss this long-distance marriage thing. If Hubby wants to come down here for a short vacation sometime, we may just do that...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Dear stupid credit card comany

You've changed the due dates for our cards -- I'm sorry -- we missed it...

Your automated system called me yesterday. I made a payment that should post today. If it had been my choice, it would have posted yesterday -- BUT, I couldn't even call you back to talk to a person because I don't have that option. Your system doesn't even give a phone number or a partial credit card number... it just told me we that we owe you money and I paid up.

Today, at 8:07 A -friggin-M, a person called.... and got rude when I asked some questions, like "which of our two Chase accounts is this" and -- why don't you know that your automated system got money out of me yesterday.

I promise, y'all will be the first ones we pay off. We hate you -- your business practices are horrible, your phone staff isn't provided sufficient information when they call asking for money and your interest rates are too high. I'm further infuriated by the high taxes Hubby and I pay and the fact that an obscene amount of bail-out money went to you. The level of fury is topped-off by the fact that y'all helped CAUSE the financial melt-down in the first place.

Really, the least you could do is not to be rude. Why can't you manage to you good customer service and get your stuff together before you call me?

If the Congress fails to pass the proposed Credit Card reform plan, I may just march on Washington. The plan will prohibit most of the practices you are currently using to screw your "customers". I'm all for it and if you manage to defeat it, I'll loose much of my faith in our democracy.

Eventually Hubby and I will be 'upper income' (knock on wood, Law School Gods willing) -- and when we are, you won't be among the companies we EVER do business with.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Never again...

I may be bright, even smart -- but sometimes I just don't learn.

I know better than to allow students to write about abortion.

I've learned this lesson before -- but, it seems that I forgot.

I've read four papers about abortion so far -- one was interesting in the good way... others were "different" -- in the way BNstate residents use "different" to mean icky, sucky or otherwise problematic.

The worst, so far ( I have 5 more to go) translated 'women have a right to choose what to do with their bodies' to mean "woman does not have control over her body until after a male is finished with it, and she has a right when she gets pregnant." -- WTF??????????????????????

5 more will earn me a 30 minute break with the Queen.

Temporary office bliss...

The Queen and the Minion are sleeping under my desk. She likes it down there because I have a fuzzy IKEA rug and he likes to be in the band of sunlight that ends up by my feet.

I have a healthy stack of drafts to read.

The radio is on.

I wonder how long this tranquility will last...

I give the Minion 15 minutes....

Hair update...

I think I've officially moved from,

"oh, the poor chemo patient"


"oh, what an unfortunate haircut, should I ask her who cuts her hair so I can make sure that doesn't happen to me?"

The marker of that move??

Today I used a brush on my hair!!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Cat update...

The Minion is as long as the Queen -- from shoulders to tail, they are the same length.

She's still bigger than he is.

She's still taller than he is.

Hubby reminded me that I'm still bigger than both of them. I'm worried that I'm not smarter and that they're more determined to get their way.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Burst of productivity... with long periods of slacking/moping

Most weekends we aren't together are supposed to be "work weekends" -- where we get caught up so we can hang out together when we actually do see one another..

This weekend was kind of one of those. I got stuff done on Thursday and Friday, so now I'm ready for the last weeks of school Saturday I started research for chapter 4 -- with the intention of finishing it today.

The whole finishing / making progress bit didn't really work out. I did about an hour of free/pre-writing, but other than that I've been a bum.

I have a hard time being productive when I'm missing my honey. It's been a long and tumultuous year. It's been an even longer three years -- and I'm ready for him to be home. When I realize that this time last year I had all my hair and both breasts -- I realize how quickly things can change and how much we've handled in the last year.

When I think about it, three years ago -- about this time I was getting tenure and Hubby was getting offers from his Red State Uni. He was excited about the chance to teach, we were both wary of the distance, but we knew we'd be able to make it. Now -- three years later I'm waiting for him to come home and very happy he's doing so, even though I'll be giving up my sabbatical and being the sole income.

It's exciting to think about what three years from now will be like. Hubby will be busy preparing for finals / writing papers or whatever 3Ls do.... hopefully he'll have a job lined up, be getting ready to take the bar exam etc... We could be getting ready to move -- or not, depending on where he gets a job.

Maybe he'll have already defended his dissertation -- and I'll be really upset if I haven't defended by then. Three years and a few weeks from now we'll be Hubby, JD, Ph.D. and ME, Ph.D..... won't we be fun to have at dinner parties?

Mixed feelings from 60 Minutes...

Right now 60 Minutes is running a story about job loss, 401K losses and people in their 50s/ 60s...

On one hand, I really feel for those folks. They were in jobs they thought they'd have until they could retire on their 401K funds. They suddenly find that isn't going to be the case. In one case, the 401K has lost a lot, in others they've lost jobs and 401K funds.

Then I hear them talk about when they'd expected to retire -- many in their early 60s and they're angry. One side of me thinks they should be - -and the other wants to smack them.... then, the third side of me wants them to be able to retire so people my age can get their jobs (IF they have them...).

On the other hand, I think about my academic pals -- many of whom have to work at S'Bucks in order to afford to be an adjunct. When I see a former salesperson (whom I'm assuming hasn't put as much effort into his education as is required for a Ph.D...) complaining about having to do that, I want to smack him.

He's of the generation who went to school when it was much less expensive so he didn't have to have student loans -- Either he or his classmates used GI Bill in record numbers, so colleges could increase tuition without loss of enrollment -- and then they left school, I went and have a bunch of student loans. When he and his buddies went to school it was feasible to work enough to pay for it while going to class and supporting yourself. As around, that isn't likely at most universities these days.

Many of his generation were trying to get rich quick by flipping real estate, which drove up prices, which then required riskier loan rates so the homes would sell etc. He was a salesperson who probably worked on commission, so he could take advantage of the economic boom that came before the bust. He didn't seem to acknowledge the fact that riding a wave up means that there's a very real risk of riding that wave back down -- failure to learn from the bubble bursting isn't my fault -- and I'm not feeling sorry for him and his buddies.

I write all of this in my rented apartment. I'm a 40 year old woman with most of a Ph.D., a secure job with a decent salary and a husband who's going to law school in the fall -- mostly because folks in the salesman's generation in charge of his uni failed to adequately manage their resources...

Hubby and I expect to work well into our 60s/70s or maybe even our 80s... (my family's longevity is impressive!) -- retirement isn't even something we daydream about.... what we do daydream about is a time when we've got our student loans paid off and Hubby can do some legal work that doesn't pay all that well.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Notes from my evening... secret notes edition

I rented a few movies, since I had to rent "Rules of Engagement" for class on Monday.

Secret note to the dude in the video store: - If your sweetie wants to control the video decisions, they should come with you to the store. Talking on the cell phone, discussing each movie on the "new releases" shelf is obnoxious. It's triple obnoxious when you blurt out the end of the movie I'm reaching for -- If I see you do that again, I'm going to whip out my phone and have a fake conversation in which I make up spoilers for all the movies you look at... you've been warned.

I went to my favorite Super Target -- found some good food, a collar for the Minion and shaving supplies...

Secret note to hubby: It should be noted that I didn't buy ANYTHING extra at Target... I passed on the cute folding patio table that isn't quite right for the deck but would fit in my car. I also didn't buy any cute notebooks, pens or desk organizing supplies. Passing up the pack-o-Sharpies was a feat of self control in and of itself. I also passed on the refillable catnip sticks because Target wasn't organized enough to have them on the shelf with a price, which you know is typical of our multi-cultural Target.

Tomorrow I'm going to shave my legs for the first time since chemo saved me money on waxing last summer....

Then I watched Marley and Me...

Secret note to Super Mom: You MUST watch Marley and Me -- it will make you laugh until you cry. Don't eat anything while you're watching. Don't drink anything you wouldn't want coming out of your nose. Make sure you're in a comfy chair you won't fall out of -- this dog is Moose but worse.... really. People who've never lived with a big lab won't know how true this movie is -- It isn't really a spoiler to tell you Marley gets expelled from obedience school, eats socks, underwear, furniture and the wall... that's life with a lab.

ps... you need to start your blog already -- NOW. go to -- then post a comment while you are logged in so I can see your blog....

Now I'm going to bed.... the question of the night is whether I'll let the Queen spend the night with me in the bedroom.

or maybe...

...I'll go to a movie.

Except, all the movies right now suck.

It might be selective conscientious objection...

.. for chapter 4.

One problem is that I tend to spell conscientious as "consientious"... grrr.

BUT -- I think it is a good challenge to a prima facie just war theory.

I'm formulating a new chapter...

.. so expect lots of little posts.

Right now the Minion (all black) is watching an all white cat outside in the field.

What's kind of odd -- from here the white cat looks a lot like the long deceased Old Kitty -- who was all white... and whose death brought us The Queen.

Clearing the decks for actual philosophical thought....

... and drafts.

As of this evening, I have class prepped/planned until the end of the semester!!
  • Ethics and Bioethics powerpoints are done. Class time is planned and now all I need to do is to teach the stuff.
  • Logic -- I have the new proofs done. The master exam is finished, now I just have to select problems for the actual exam.
It's a good thing I'm done with class prep for a while, as I'll get about 70 drafts next week.

But -- the actual weekend will be spent thinking about my new chapter.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The shopping report...

The ever brilliant Hubby suggested IKEA.... because he knows I love IKEA and am Swedish to the core.

I had a lovely walk in IKEA, seeing rooms I wish were mine.

I had the Swedish Meatball lunch with lingonberry juice... the best juice EVER!!

I found the perfect table, for $40.00 -- glass top, sturdy legs etc.

As I stood in line to pay, I realized I should probably measure my car to see if the large box would fit.

It doesn't fit, so I left it in the store.

Y'all can guess what I'm going to do when Hubby brings the Jeep home... besides, if he's home, he can put it together for me :).

I may have to go shopping today....

It's kind of an odd shopping list, but I think I can get it all at Target...

  • A new collar for the Minion. The little boy is growing up and his kitten collar is extended as far as it will go.
  • Razors and shaving cream -- I haven't used them since my hair fell out from chemo, but now it's spring and I've got parts that need shaving...
  • A small table for the deck... the weather is nice, I have both dissertation and class prep reading to do, and I should be enjoying the nice weather.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Umm.. duh...

Tis the season for the flake-outs....

Conversation 1
Me: Stu A, I'm concerned about your absences.
Stu A: I took this class before and had to withdraw, so that part was review for me.
Me: ok, as long as you know what you're doing.
Stu A: I came to ask you why this proof isn't working?
Me: Because you're wrong on lines 3, 6, 7, 8 -- maybe you needed to come to class?
Stu A: Blank Look

Conversation 2 -- context, before class when I'm setting up the PowerPoints
Me: Hey, Ice Fishing Dudes (cuz they always dress like they've just left the ice house -- and wear their jackets for the whole class... kind of weird) -- was your homework to work on these rules?
IFD: blank, stupid looks... umm..
Me: So, you didn't bother to do your homework...

Also -- all three of the IFDs missed the last exam. They're allowed to take a make-up. I suspect they thought they'd get the same make-up, so one would get the questions and tell the others... but, I wrote three distinct make-up exams for them. Hmmm..... it sucks when your proffie figures out your plan, doesn't it fellas?

Other semesters I'd feel bad about having this level of irritation toward my students -- but I really don't feel bad about it at all.

Finding connections is fun...

In casual conversation today, I found out that a new colleague knows some debate folks I know... and she sees them in the same way.

This sort of situation is kind of tricky -- because she knows them from grad school and I know them from debate. Sometimes people seem pretty decent in one situation and not so much in the other.

In one case in particular, a person we both know is someone I refuse to interact with. It's bad enough that I've put them on the very short "X does not exist" -- list. Folks on this list are so different from me in values and worldview that I've decided the only possible interactions with them will be contentious -- and they aren't worth the energy. New colleague sees this person in a similar way... which is nice both because it confirmed my interactions AND I don't have to be suspicious of New colleague's judgment.

The other folks we know in common I really liked and so does she...


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

What do you think about this kind of exam....

It's a logic exam. It's worth 50 points.

3 really easy problems are worth 7 points each
5 easy/medium problems are worth 10 points each
3 moderately difficult problems are worth 15 points each.

I will grade a maximum of 5 problems -- indicated by the students.

Extra-credit is possible.

My only real worry is that my students aren't good at math (that's why they're in this class) and they aren't good at following directions.

Also, if they don't do well on it, they'll need to take the final.... which I don't want.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Another "work" weekend....

Oddly enough, I'm caught up on grading and I won't get any more tomorrow.... Monday begins a deluge of grading, but now is the calm before the storm.

Also, I generally have laundry caught up and the apartment-cleaning -goddess/fairy who gets paid -- made a visit last week, so the apartment is clean.

I have a meeting with Dr. Advisor later in the month, so I have no feedback on current chapters...

SO -- I think I'll read/outline/think about a new chapter. This is probably a good thing, as part of my meeting should be to discuss this chapter... hmmmm... sounds like the work weekend is just in time.

Spring & Loving my students...

I can see green grass outside my window.

The bookstore is doing a sale and having cheap hot dogs.

One of my students did a great job re-organizing the logical rules... She did such a good job I'm using her sheet from now on -- with credit, of course :).

Life is good.

I'm off to get some cheap hot dogs.

Monday, April 13, 2009

A happy problem -- we need your input, please...

This year Hubby applied to two law schools.

He got into his 'safety' school with a full-tuition scholarship. This school is fairly new but accredited/certified or whatever. It's also not a first-tier lawschool. He was excited, felt flattered that they wanted him etc... He paid the $250 deposit, bought a laptop that would work for them and thought things were settled...

Until recently, he hadn't had any news from the other school. The other school is a state school and top-tier. It has lots of credibility in his field of interest and has a tendency to place people in law school teaching positions, which Hubby would love.

Last week he found out he'd been accepted -- they called him... which I thought was kind of odd.

Today we got their official, written offer -- with about a 2/3 scholarship. Over three years we'll pay about $24,000 in tuition.

The question is -- how important is the rating? It seems like Hubby's personality fits better with the safety school, but the other school has a much longer track-record of getting students jobs etc...

So -- those of you who know these things, what do you think?

The last BNstate goodbye...

Every time -- and I do mean EVERY frigging time --- Hubby gets in the Jeep, it feels to me like I should be going with him. I should be in the passenger seat, dozing, commenting on the scenery or getting a snack out of the back seat. I should have my right foot on the dashboard, my sunglasses on and perhaps a map on my lap -- although, we no longer need maps for most of the surrounding states.

The point is that it feels wrong when he goes back to Red State without me.

Also, when he leaves the apartment feels particularly empty and the cats are cranky. I can deal with that by going out for a while when he leaves -- that works because when I come home I'm back in the 'Hubby's not here' routine.

Today is the last time he'll leave BNstate to go to Red State. The last time folks... I thought that would never happen!! Next time he comes back, he'll be here for good!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!!!

Easter weekend two years ago, the Queen began gracing us with her presence. Now that she has the Minion to do her naughty work, she's become the "good" cat.

This Easter will be kind of quiet. Hubby's mom is coming over. We're going to cook some mushroom risotto, steaks and veggies. The risotto is from the Chef Ramsey cookbook -- so it should be fun.

Otherwise, we'll eat some chocolate bunnies, watch some movies and generally hang out.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Secret message....

... to the kid who is a pretty good debater, but thinks he knows more than he does...

You can choose to ignore my argument all you want.

You can rant and rave on the debate board until your fingers fall off.

You aren't being persuasive and you're kind of making me wonder how you've done so well... good partners, your coach program you well perhaps? I can see how you could fail to win that important round because even with time to think about the argument I'm making, you still can't get beyond your own ideas long enough to see mine and respond. From most accounts, that's kind of what did you in a while back.

I have some news for you -- I have an actual vote on this -- you just have access to the discussion board and a big mouth.

I've stopped responding to you because you're going in a circle -- see, this isn't a debate round and I don't have to continue in an exchange that isn't productive. If you wonder why more people don't use that board, I'll give you three guesses and the first two don't count.

The thing is, you might have persuaded me if you'd taken the time to think about my argument and make responses to it -- I may have come to see things your way. As it is, I'm ignoring the thread... sorry, I have other things to do... and they're more fun that talking to you....

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Pet peeves... e-mail edition

This isn't the normal rant about student e-mails... I have the standard assortment of student-email complaints...

no, this one is about BNCC faculty and staff...

and the dreaded "everyone" e-mails.

Really, I don't mind the original "everyone" e-mail. The messages generally have decent grammar, spelling and punctuation. They also are usually brief and serve to communicate information. In short, they are exactly what e-mails are supposed to be.

No - my problem is with the folks who cannot tell the difference between the "reply" and the "reply to all" options. On occasion the "reply to all" is serves a function -- and that occasion would be when ALL of us care about the information in the message. Otherwise, I don't want to see your individual reply to the author -- volunteering to wipe asses at 4:00 or asking for a turkey sandwich at BNCC re-education day. Many of y'all are repeat offenders -- STOP IT!

I think everyone who confuses the "reply to all" with the "reply" options ought to owe each one of the recipients $1.00 -- to be paid in person during duty days.

Hubby's home -- and crazy cat updates....

All is well here -- hubby's home, the cleaning person came, there is domestic bliss.

  • Hubby was home when I got home from teaching last night. He told me it only took the Minion 5 minutes to get kicked out of the office... I told him the Minion must have been sleepy, he usually accomplishes those offenses more quickly.
  • I have a file on my desktop titled "article.doc0p-=" -- it used to be something else -- until one of the cats stepped on my keyboard.
  • The Minion has taken to going high up on the office bookshelves. Being tall people and all, Hubby and I have stuff up there. Right now we have a stereo, a small TV and a thing to put the ipod in so that the sound comes out of speakers... all of this equipment seems to be a tempting obstacle course for the Minion. The Queen looks at him with disgust -- and then fights with him when he comes down.
  • To say that I'm happy that kittens turn into big-fat-sleeping cats is an understatement... when will it happen?

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Unrest at BNCC.... it's really kind of fun...

A neighbor department is being accused of trodding on the territory of "other" department. The thing is, neigbhor department has precedent and national practice on their side. Neighbor department also has a former debater/debate coach as their chair -- and right about now the other department is seeing the results of his excellent research skills. The other department is out-matched, out-witted and outplayed... and they just don't know it yet. The only question is whether or not the committe hearing the question will see the sense of neighbor department's argument.

My colleagues and I have been complaining about classroom noise for years. The problem is that students congregate in an open area that shares a wall with my primary classroom. When my students are trying to concentrate, their friends outside sound like they're inside the room. Finally I decided to stop complaining up the same tree that was ignoring me anyway... and I decided to get the students involved.

I went to the students outside the room and told them that they were in danger of losing their meeting place, but if they contacted a particular administrator, they might be able to save their hang out place.... and I gave them all of his contact information on a little handout.

I also took a stack of similar handouts to class -- and asked my students to contact him if they've been disturbed by noise coming in from the common area. The point is not to get the congregating students in trouble, but rather to get sound insulation installed on the wall... thus solving the problem.

I'm told that this administrator responds to student complaints -- so, we'll see.

Hubby's headed home...!! He'll be here until Monday.

It's nice that his uni is Catholic and takes the Easter break concept seriously!!

Also, my super-star house cleaner is coming this morning. So, he'll come home to a clean place and a couple of surprised cats. I'll be home after class :).

Also, if things go as planned, this will be his last weekend trip home -- EVER! The next time he comes back, he'll be here to stay.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Best reason to want spring to come... ever....

In a conversation with Step-Dad (who lives in northen BN state -- up there by Canada!!).

Me: So, how's the weather up there?
Step-dad: We're still up to our butts in snow.
Me: Yea, that must suck, it is April.
Step-dad: I sure wish spring would come so I can find my teeth.

It seems Step-dad slipped outside around New Year's. His teeth flew out and into a snowbank. It was snowing at the time and he couldn't find them. His teeth have been outside in a snowbank since then.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Breast Cancer awareness..

Maybe I'm just hyper-aware of breast cancer... being down to one boob and still having pretty short hair from chemo and all..

but, I'm kind of perplexed about the marketing campaign for some upcoming breast cancer events.

The events themselves I understand -- generally the funds go toward research or support of breast cancer patients. I love their intent -- and I know I've benefitted from those efforts. Heck, I'm sure that the pretty constant breast cancer awareness messages prompted me to go to the doctor earlier than I would have otherwise...

The problem is that the marketing campaigns use rhetoric that confuses me. They say things like, "I want to take a stand against breast cancer" -- as if there are lots of folks out there takeing breast cancer's side... I fail to see how it's necessary to be vocal in opposition to breast cancer. Who is out there saying "yea breast cancer"? Can someone explain to me?

I'm not saying folks ought not participate in these events -- I just wonder if the marketing makes more sense to those of us who haven't had a breast cancer diagnosis.

RBO the usual prof gripes....

Why is it the case that....
  • every time a local college student disappears, their friends are in my classes?
  • college students can't seem to walk along rivers, lakes, etc.. without falling in?
  • students who can't keep up with the class expect me to do it for them?
  • I don't reject emails, whose entire content is, "I know... I was gone the day we turned them in. but! My topic was about ______."
  • it isn't summer yet?

Friday, April 03, 2009

Another sign it's a wonderful world..

It's a wonderful world when I can do the following:

  1. Call a person from India who has lived in Red State a long time.
  2. Order Indian food from the best place in the world... (don't get me started, it is better than in India --according to some food critic --- but, for sure it's better than your local Indian place in the US).
  3. Get that food in 15 minutes, so we can have it for lunch and the leftovers for dinner.
  4. Have Girl Scout cookies for desert -- while reading a book.

Counting Down the Red State trips...

I'm currently in Red State.

The plans are for me to be here one more time before Hubby comes home.

After three years of being here regularly, this is kind of weird. I actually like Red State quite a bit. The food is good, the people are nice and there is more 'scenery' than you might imagine. It's also quite easy to live here because the city is a manageable size with most of the things you need (they're missing an IKEA).

It isn't as if I'll NEVER be back here again. I have friends here, my grad school is here--- so, I'll have reasons to come back, but not on a regular basis.

On the other hand, I won't miss the regular 12 hour round-trip to see my hubby... and I KNOW he won't miss the drive to see me, The Queen and The Minion.

Think about it this way-- in order to make this whole thing work this semester my work schedule ended up being 16 contact hours (12 teaching, 4 office) over 4 days -- with two night classes and one 7:45 in four days -- plus department chair duties. If I were a 'normal' faculty member.. it would be pretty manageable because I would have Thursday afternoon and Friday to get caught up -- and then have a weekend. Now, add 12 hours driving into the mix.... 6 on Thursday, 6 on Sunday. That takes out a lot of the 'get caught up' time--- thus moving it into the actual weekend.... sigh.

To put it another way -- think about your weekend. Now add a 6 hour car trip at the beginning and a 6 hour car trip at the end-- in other words, subtract 12 waking/working hours.

To be fair, actually 'packing' for Red State takes me about 5 minutes, as I have clothes and things here.... so it isn't as if I'm living out of a suitcase. Getting things ready so the Queen and the Minion can stay alone for a few days takes about 10 minutes more, so it I don't have the packing/unpacking hassles of most car trips.

The other general challenge is also getting things done around our place in BNstate. I'm still there during the week, making messes, wearing clothes that need to be washed etc. The Queen and the Minion are there right now scattering things around just to show their displeasure.... and all of that will be waiting for me on Sunday night when I get home.

Overall, the LDR works for a few reasons... 1) we're within a 6 hour drive of one another. It isn't airline ticket range... which would have ended up with fewer trips and costing a lot more money. 2) we don't have kids, since we only have ourselves and two cats to worry about -- it is much less complicated. 3) We re-started our relationship as a long-distance romance. He was in Denver, I was in Minneapolis and my step-dad worked for an airline, so I could go visit. Between times we talked on the phone a lot. We started out knowing how to do this.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

and the best post-chemo advice is...

.. not to worry about bad news you haven't received yet.

In some ways the post-chemo period is stressful -- in a new way. Once you're done with the active treatment, it remains an open question as to whether or not it worked. And, 'worked' is relative -- because cancer is sneaky and mean-- (if it has a personality..) and it can hide out and come back later.

But -- right now I can't worry about that. I can't worry about test results I don't have back yet. When they come, they'll either be good or not -- and if it's not, we'll deal with it.

Of course, I can feel this way because my oncologist is really awesome... and in case a 'next step' is necessary, I know he'll help me sort it out.

Good use of a personal day....

Every year BNCC has a 'gathering' of what I've come to call 'BNCC re-education day'.

I suppose the timing of the day has something to do with my cynicism. It's generally in early April, thus I'm worn out by the semester and debate nationals. This year it's at the end of a marathon that started with debate nationals and ended with an intense committee obligation that had me on campus for many long days.

I'm also not someone who participates easily in these kinds of group activities. There's generally some kind of theme and usually speeches and poorly run group 'activities' intended to communicate this theme.

A few years ago we were pretty much told we were racists and ignorant about the world and others unlike ourselves. This was based on the results of a survey that seemed to be very poorly designed. For example, if we teach about diversity issues, international issues or other 'diversity' topics, we got no 'credit' for that activity toward our racist/non-racist score (it wasn't an option, neither was extensive travel, having an exchange student and many other options). Further, when we were asked to describe our attitudes toward X, Y, Z -- in each scenario we were given only two or three options, none of which were adequate to describe my attitudes...

Careful listening to their description of how the survey was scored revealed that, pretty much the only way not to be a xenophobic ass was to have lived in a foreign country. So -- someone who lived in Winnipeg is worldly, but someone who teaches classes like international politics isn't... hmmm.

When I looked into the credentials of the person running the 'day' --- it turns out her qualifications were pretty much that she was a grad student at the local U. So -- I'm supposed to sit by and be insulted by a grad student who can't design a research survey? I think not.

Since then I've ended up opting out of the day for a variety of reasons... at least one day I was sick enough that others advised me to go home. One year the food made me sick -- and today I'm taking a personal day.

Of course, today will be the spectacular day I missed... oops. I think I'll go see Hubby in Red State instead.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Tonight was fascinating...

Tonight my oncologist came to my Biomedical Ethics class.

Talk about interesting....

First of all -- having him in a new context was fun in and of itself. He got to see where I teach etc -- and have the experience of talking with my students.

It was much more fascinating hearing him talk about relationships with patients. How he has made conscious decisions to connect with his patients... and how it is difficult when they don't do well.

I could never have given my students what he gave them tonight. He's been an oncologist for 35 years -- he started working in oncology when it wasn't really a recognized sub-specialty. He shared his 35 years of treating people in what is probably the most stressful part of their lives.

More than a few of my students found him as charming as I do -- and I suspect that more than a few of them would work for him if given a chance.

After he left, we discussed his talk and then we watched an episode of "House" -- who is the exact opposite of my oncologist.

yea, it was a good night.