Friday, May 29, 2009

Homophobia sucks...

A friend was fired for being gay... and I think it sucks.

The short story is that he was a really good college debater who had lined up a job teaching debate in Korea.

He was called by the person who hired him because it came to their attention that he's gay.

He was told he wasn't welcome.... later they called him back to tell him that he could take the job, but that the atmosphere would be hostile.

This sucks -- my friend was planning to leave in 7 weeks. He got rid of everything and had invested money in language lessons etc. It's also a simple fact that he'd have been a fantastic instructor. Their bigotry is their loss.

Also -- he's making a pretty public deal about this. I hope they can't get anybody to fill that position.

Another day at the pool...

Today was much better -- lots of girls and only two very quiet guys.

I need to remember to go earlier on Fridays, as NPR has "Science Fridays" at 1:00 -- and I had to listen to some really gross discussion of bacteria on our skin. They used the words "nostril", "moist" and "armpit" in one short period of time-- ick.

A new "normal"

Hubby's been home for two weeks -- and I think we've settled into a new 'normal'.

He tends to work better at the library -- so he goes off to big U on the bus.

I get up early and write most of the morning.

The cats don't seem to think that each time he goes out the door, he's never coming back.

This will all change soon enough, when Hubby goes off to Ph.D. summer camp. I like the fact that his absence will be weird... and not the old 'normal'.

RBO --Thoughts from the pool...

  • Ladies -- if you are on the large side, please, please, please be considerate and keep your legs together. I'm in the pool, in the deep end, and your open legs are at eye level. The others can do it -- you can too.
  • 19 year old boys aren't nearly as attractive as they seem to think they are. The occasion of your barbecue isn't a big deal to us -- please mind your manners.
  • When guys talk about being too drunk to a) 'bang the skank', and b) drive her home, but you did it anyway - it isn't attractive. Look around the pool -- there are about 8 or so women hanging out and getting a tan. These ladies are attractive and there are no men around them... and they hear you talking. News flash, they think you're asshats.
And -- because I was listening to an NPR program about Muncie IN and poverty.. I have a lot of compassion for the folks they interviewed, but careful listening to the program made me ask the following questions --
  • How is money for cigarettes more important than paying your electric bill?
  • Why does your cell phone work, but the gas in your home gets shut off?
  • How is it a good idea to have your boyfriend with a suspended driver's license pick up your kids -- when you aren't doing something more important, like giving birth?
  • If you have enough in your 401K to pay off your house, why didn't that occur to you before it went into foreclosure?
  • A woman 2 years younger than me is the only one in her immediate family to have a job -- She's functionally supporting her spouse, her daughter and son-in-law, and their three kids... She's 38 and has 3 grandchildren.
I suppose the thing that caught my attention most readily was that several of these folks said they made $100,000 with overtime in some years past years -- and they're completely uneducated. The program followed them to a job re-training center where they were taking assessment tests similar to the ones my CC students have to pass in order to get into my class. Yes -- these folks had a LOWER literacy level than my students -- really -- and they made $100,000, with overtime, in prior years.

I know couples with four to six degrees between them (BA, MA, Ph.D x 2) who would be happy with $100,000 between their TWO jobs. I know for certain that two professors work more hours together than this one person worked by himself. When a dude assembling transmissions is making more per hour than a college professor -- and that situation resolves itself -- I have to wonder if that's not an OK thing in the long run.

Folks, you decided to go to work in an industry that didn't require you to be competent at reading, writing or math. The world moved beyond you -- you didn't bother to actually do well in school -- or, even try.

I have compassion for you -- but not for the reasons NPR wants me too... I feel sorry for you that you chose not to get an education. It isn't too late, but it is more difficult and expensive now than it would have been if you'd done it 20 years ago. I feel really bad that you're having a hard time paying your bills -- and that things are more difficult now than they were before. I do wish you well, that you'll find a new career or an educational opportunity that appeals to you. Welcome to 2009... it's rough out here.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Making progress...

Chapter two is in 'percolation' -- it needs some time to brew before I can finish it. I think what I've written so far is pretty good, which probably means it's utter crap.

I'm also working out the kinks in my summer class. Normally, I'd whip up the syllabus a few days before the class starts -- but, I'm not really familiar with the on-line course mechanics, so I'm getting prepared early in case I need help... The course is a 'hybrid' course, so most of it is face to face, but I'm using on-line quizzes, exams and discussions and I don't want to screw it up.

In all, it's been a good day....

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Dear Cats...

You are making me a bit crazy this morning.

You're fighting, yowling and rolling around and distracting me.

Your father will be home this evening -- and you'd better be on good behavior between now and then -- or, well, something will happen.

Seriously, can't you just sleep for a while, I have a chapter to work on.

your cat mom

On Memorial Day

In many ways, Memorial Day is the reason I'm writing my dissertation.

It's about the ethics of warfare and the goal is to make the theory more relevant and coherent.

I really do think answering the question of what makes a war just or unjust is the best way to honor the folks who have served in the military.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

I worry that the Minion...

.... secretly likes being squirted. Part of his morning ritual seems to include a shower from the squirt bottle.

This is bad folks, very, very bad.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Summer rituals..

Today I did two of my favorite summer rituals .. I planted plants and made macaroni salad with tuna.

The deck looks amazing -- local folks are welcome on nice days for a chat :) -- especially if you're teaching summer classes and need a break, as I'm very close to school.

I decided to plant only the big pots -- and ended up with exactly the right number of plants, dirt and pots -- which is pretty amazing. I have some flowers and a wide variety of green plants. I've got the obligatory patio tomato plant. I'm also trying a pot of lettuce -- which may give us a salad, or may end up to be just nice color. I have lots of herbs, most of which I chose for the smell and appearance, rather than any expectation that I'll cook with them :). For the Queen and the Minion, I have a pot of catnip.

I found the perfect, and inexpensive round patio table at IKEA (which doesn't seem to be on their website) -- it could seat four fairly well, glass top and white legs -- It fits perfectly in the corner of my deck. Now, it has nice flowers all around it -- YEA!

The food...
The salad is simple -- whole wheat spiral pasta (2 boxes), 1 onion, several stalks of celery, a little bit of pickle relish, 3 big cans of tuna and a dressing that is mostly Kraft's mayo with olive oil, with some yellow mustard and whatever tangy mystery dressing you happen to have handy. I chop sharp cheddar cheese into small cubes and put it on the side (mixing it in makes it slimy) -- I also put frozen peas on top -- because I like them. We'll eat the bowl of salad for days -- and only really get tired of it when it's almost gone.

So -- what are your summer rituals?

The advantages of consistent writing...

I'm at the end of the first of several "dissertation" weeks. I've been to the office once. I 've answered a couple of student e-mails and had a couple of discussions with the dean -- but, that's all. For me -- that's a week off.

One thing I hadn't realized was how much of every writing session during the semester is taken up by getting organized and reviewing what I'd previously written. Between finding the correct file, finding the books, reading my own notes and comments -- just getting to what Hubby so affectionately would call the 'making stuff up' phase took almost an hour.

In some ways this week makes me even more angry about missing last year's dissertation opportunity. I'm sure that if I hadn't had the summer-o-breast-cancer, I'd be Dr. ITPF now... dang it. Losing my left breast and my hair was an inconvenience -- losing that summer writing is what sucked the most.

Friday, May 22, 2009

RBO a snapshot of my year...

Today I have the following on the agenda:
  • Dissertation writing (already did almost two hours!!)
  • Syllabi writing
  • Mammogram (annual -- don't worry)
  • Pool time
  • The deck -- I bought an IKEA table last night -- Hubby's job is to put it together.
A little different than this time last year when I met my surgeon for the first time.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

On the news

The Minnesota kid with cancer, Daniel Hauser and the Farrah Fawcett TV special have me thinking and reflecting on getting chemo. To start, I should say that I realize not everyone has a chemo experience as relatively easy as mine -- so I'm speaking from the position of someone who has been quite fortunate.

In Farrah's case, an off-hand comment about chemo got me thinking. The comment was made by one of her doctors about her hair. In essence, he said that she wanted to avoid kinds of treatments that might cause her to lose her hair. Folks -- that's a very common thing for chemo to do -- mostly because it attacks those fast-growing cells in the hair follicle.... because cancer cells are also fast growing. It makes me sad that she was concerned about that, because the chemo earlier might have been more effective.

In terms of Hauser, I'm very disturbed. Some of the interviews on TV imply that he's making an informed decision about his own treatment. The boy has learning disabilities -- he can't read and has told people that he's not sick. This is because his mother has told him that -- he's not a young adult making this decision -- he's an uninformed child strongly influenced by his nut-job mother.

The mother claims to practice two faiths... Catholicism and a Native American faith... but, she's only a recent convert to the Native American faith. I'm a bit fuzzy on the details, but I'd also be willing to bet a ride to the chemo clinic that they joined the band AFTER Daniel's diagnosis.

Her plan is to fight his cancer with natural medicine and prayer. Some of her statements bought into the worst hype about chemo -- that it's all a part of the cancer-industry's goal of pumping poison into her son. She's deathly afraid of chemo and isn't willing to take the risk that it will save her son. I find this appaling, especially since his cancer has about a 95% cure rate with chemo, and less than 10% without it.

I also doubt the sincerity of their religious objection because the kid had one treatment. IF it were a sincere religious belief, they wouldn't have allowed even the first treatment.

This poor kid is at the mercy of his wackadoodle mother -- and recent reports are that she's left the state and is heading for Mexico to do "natural" treatments.

I suppose what really gets me going on this topic is that these stories get a lot of attention and feed the impression that chemo is a horrific experience. That impression scared the hell out of me about a year ago.... when I was being diagnosed with breast cancer.

I hope to God that poor Daniel survives his mother, just like I hope that Farrah survives her own vanity.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Goal: a chain of Xs...

Someone, someplace (hey, this isn't a paper with cites and stuff...) said that making an X on the calendar every day you meet your writing goals reinforces those goals and makes it easier to get things done.

I'm on my third bright pink X... so far, so good.

The backup plan...

... isn't looking so bad.

Last night we had dinner with Pam's husband. He's really one of the nicest people I know, and I completely understand why she married him... I'm also happy for him, he's got a new girlfriend (FYI... Pam is my sister who died 7 years ago) who sounds really nice. I hope to meet her sooner or later -- don't worry, Super-Mom... I'll check her out!

Anyway-- he works for a law firm here. His social skills are excellent... and he seems to have good relationships with the power-dudes. He casually mentioned that their new associates get a lot higher than the going prof rate.. which would pay off a lot of student loans :).

The pool is open

I love swimming -- especially in outdoor pools.

Today my reward for writing until 11:00 is a swim. A nice, long swim... with my new waterproof radio.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Dissertation, day 2

Yesterday went pretty well -- I'm well into the revisions of chapter 1. I should have a first draft of the new arrangement today or tomorrow.

It's just before 7 AM --- the house is pretty quiet, although if the Minion would settle down for a nap, it would be better :). The plan is to work until 11:00 -- take a longish lunch break, which may include a trip to the grocery store, and then either do some more writing or work on summer syllabi in the the afternoon. This is about what I did yesterday and it worked out well.

Tonight is dinner with the brother-in-law... which should be fun.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Things I miss about...

Living in Denver... We lived there for the first two years we were married. Hubby was in the air force, I worked for a hair salon.
  • Being close to the mountains was magical for me. I loved that we could be there in 30 minutes.
  • There was a really good salad bar restaurant.
  • Our second & third apartments were really nice. High ceilings with skylights, fireplaces, good sized bedrooms, laundry room etc. I'd move into that exact floor plan again in a minute. Even for the time, the rent was really low.
Living in Red State... We lived there after Denver -- for a long time. Hubby also just got back from being there. We're trying not to say we're done with Red State, because as soon as you say that, it sucks you back. As Hubby said yesterday, "I've now left Red State for good, twice".
  • Friends, family and my good friend/hairdresser.
  • Really good restaurants -- amazing Indian food, good Asian food, great barbecue and fun innovative food.
  • The Air Show at the base we lived on for several years.
  • Not having to think about traffic -- and a metro area you can cross pretty easily. I used to commute diagonally across the whole thing and it took me no more than 35 minutes.
  • College football Saturdays -- if only because it was fun to see everyone getting excited about the game -- so we could mock them.
  • "event" weekends - two of which would immediately remove all doubt about where Red State is-- The fun thing about these events is that people from across the country would come to Red State for a long weekend. While in the state, they'd go out and have a good time... and the Red State folks are very hospitable.
  • The people in Red State are much more well-traveled than the people in BN state. It's kind of common for people here to say "I've never left the state" or "I've only been to neighbor state"... I almost NEVER had someone in Red State say that to me. At a minimum, they've been to the Mall of America (only 6 hours away), Vegas and Disney World... Many of them take a winter trip to Mexico, spring trips to New York and an occasional work trip to Atlanta or Los Angeles.
I would live in either place again -- but, I'd also be happy to stay in BNstate. I can't imagine having never left -- especially not on trips - but, it's a good place to live.

IT -- you've got to wonder...

Last week there was drama with the on-line grade entry system.

First they wouldn't believe folks who called reporting problems.

Then they sent out a message saying it would be slow -- after which I immediately entered my final set of grades with no problem.

Now the e-mail is down -- just when students will be e-mailing with questions about grades.

Way to go, guys...

Edited to add -- AND, grades I'm sure I properly entered didn't "take" in the system... over a week ago. I had no idea that there was a problem until a student sent me an e-mail asking -- and telling me the grades weren't in the system. I had to go to campus, re-enter the grades etc.. Funny how all the other grades I entered were done properly... I really don't think I made the mistake. I sent an e-mail about it and there was no evidence that they'd looked into the problem, just a pat on the head "all of your grades are in ok, thanks for meeting deadlines" -- So, today --when they run the report and see a bunch of folks who haven't entered grades yet-- they ought not be to surprised. I wonder how many other folks entered grades when I did?? I suppose it isn't my problem.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Cleaning/unpacking etc...

... is one way to fight the end of semester anxiety.

Hubby's Jeep + trailer full of stuff is pretty much put away. We're down to two or three stray boxes, some printers that are going to charity next week. One more trip to the trash and to Goodwill will make my apartment will look pretty much like it did Thursday night :).

The good news is that we seemed to get rid of more stuff than Hubby brought home.

Even when I get the laundry all done, we'll have extra room in the bedroom closet.

We have extra room in the spare-bathroom vanity as well as in the hall closet and the linen closet.

We should -- we threw out a lot of junk and will have donated 4 Jeep-loads to Goodwill.

I'm really happy about the way things are turning out -- and it's super-nice to have Hubby home.... plus, he hooked up an old PC to the TV, so now we can watch on-line TV shows from the couch.

Tomorrow -- the new pattern. Up in the morning, do the usual internet puttering over breakfast and then dissertation work until at least 11:00 -- then, a bit of exercise and lunch, then more dissertation or other kinds of work and a nap. Once the pool is open, the exercise will be at the pool -- or, if it's really cold and rainy, in the gym downstairs. If tomorrow is as nice as today, I'll put on my newly found tennis shoes and take a walk :).

Friday, May 15, 2009

Hubby is HOME -- For good!

About 10 PM he rolled into town.

Unloading the Jeep and trailer didn't take all that long -- although, now my rather full apartment is even more full. Our weekend project will be unpacking and we'll likely end up at Goodwill more than once :).

I'm so happy this long-distance thing is over. We were together for 16 years before his adventure in Red State. We're really good together and being apart just wasn't as it should be.

His Law School adventure will be a challenge, both financially and intellectually -- BUT, we're best when we face challenges together.

This time last year....

... I had no idea I had breast cancer.

It's kind of weird -- my surgeon told me the lump had probably been there for at least a year. I had no idea. I felt fine -- but, that's because I was lucky enough to only be stage 2.

Looking back at the calendar -- Hubby felt the lump on the evening of May 19. On May 20 I went to my GP. May 21 I had my first mammogram, a sonogram and the biopsy. May 22 I got the results and met with the surgeon.

This year I plan to spend those days on chapter 1 of my dissertation.... except, I do have a mammogram appointment on May 22.

This time last year I had a full head of curly hair and two boobs... or "bubbies" as the Real Housewives of New Jersey call them :).

Today, I have a lot less hair - (but, it's coming back very well!) and only one "bub" (which I assume is the singular form of "bubbies").

This time last year, if pressed, I could tell you than an oncologist is a specialist who treats cancer. The only oncologist I could name is Dr. Wilson on House.

Today I have my 6-month check up with MY oncologist... so I both have an oncologist and can name several more in the clinic.

It's kind of weird thinking about the time before my diagnosis -- it's like thinking about the "before" life -- my biggest concerns were finishing my dissertation, getting a sabbatical and hopefully getting to live in the same city as my hubby.... eventually.

Today, Hubby and I ARE living in the same city, I'm still concerned with finishing my dissertation, and I have this cancer thing to worry about on occasion. What's weird about it - -and something I would never have expected -- I don't think about cancer all that often. Sure, my body is different. I still have my port and people give me the "where did you get that terrible haircut" look -- but, cancer isn't something I think about every day.

Looking back at my posts from last year -- really, they aren't all that different... but, the ones in between are quite different.

When I met my oncologist for the first time -- when he gave me the diagnosis and outlined how the chemo would go -- I predicted it would be a hard summer and a challenging Fall semester, but after that life would go back to whatever passes as "normal". I'm happy to say I was right... (knock on wood, I do have an appointment today...).

Edited to add: My appointment was fine -- as I suspected. He didn't find anything new and we mostly talked about life :) -- My oncologist honestly said he wants to read my dissertation -- because he thinks it would be interesting. Little does he know -- dissertations are NEVER interesting -- but, when I'm finished, I'll print him a copy anyway :).

Thursday, May 14, 2009

An hour or so left...

... as a long-distance wife.

The Queen is looking out the window for him.

The Minion has no idea what's about to happen.

The apartment is clean and we have food in the 'fridge.

I'm listening to Ugly Betty as I type... someone just said, "I wish I had someone to love me when I'm all bald and stuff" --and -- I do. He's on the way home to me. I'm really lucky.

Dear logic teacher...

Could you please give me a C I didn't earn. I need it to progress with my education.

A student with a tragically low logic grade.

My reply,

I'm sure I didn't miss the 25 additional points you would have needed to earn a C.

Next time, be a better logic student.

Sincerely (not really),
Your exasperated logic teacher

For the record...

  • Missing the final exam because you thought it was at the regular class time -- AND claiming that you looked for me, when I was in my office -- AND making those claims IN my office, shows you're a dumb-ass.
  • Just cleaning up your typos and missed citations, but not actually improving the content of your paper will get you a C. When that brings your course average down to a B, don't be surprised... and don't bother to come by my office to complain -- because I'll give you the paper back and tell you exactly why you got the B.
  • If you're the student whose grade I entered as a C, because your paper was in the wrong folder -- I'm sorry and I've already entered the grade chage.
  • I'm out of here until June!

Endings, beginnings & continuing...

  • The semester, grading and all that jazz -- at least for a while.
  • Hubby's time in Red State, thus the "L" in the LDR... I had my last wake-up call from Nebraska this morning -- which was nice.
  • I even told the Minion that his time as a one-parent cat is over.... he may not like that concept, he just tried to delete this point... hmmm.
  • A burst of dissertation writing. If the goal is to have a complete version to Dr. Advisor by September, I'd better get right on it!
  • Hubby and I having more of a "normal" relationship.... although, we've been far from normal for a long, long, long time :) -- and we kind of like it that way.
  • Hubby's adventure in law.
  • My adventure with on-line instruction -- but only in a "hybrid" course, so far.
  • I'm officially re-appointed as department chair for next year.
  • I'll get to work with my wonderful dean again next year, as she's not returning to the classroom quite yet.
  • Somehow, I've ended up with some travel in my future -- possibly a quick trip out of town to a pal's place -- and a quick weekend in NYC with Hubby... but it will be nothing like the commuter-marriage scenario of the last three years.

Grading early --

So, Super-Mom has a theory -- do things that are kind of mindless and a bit mechanical in the morning before you get dressed... for her, it's things like loading the dishwasher.

For me, this morning, it's grading Bioethics essays.

Because, folks, if I get them done -- then I'll be DONE for the semester!

So, the goal is to grade 26 essays, shower etc... and be on campus for a noon meeting.

I think I can do it.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Leanring to follow directions...

... the hard way.

This semester I started making students tell me they'd be taking the optional final exam.

This afternoon two students showed up for the exam -- but, they hadn't told me they wanted to take it.

I refused to give them the exam. They seemed stunned.

Of course, I announced it in class many, many, many times. It was clear from their grade report last week what they'd need to do in order to take the final etc.

Of course, these two had terrible attendance -- and when they managed to make it to class, they weren't prepared anyway -- so it isn't much of a surprise.

Although, I do wonder if one of them had some kind of learning disability -- or if he was just dense? I'd say things that seemed to be clear to other students and he'd look at me like I was speaking French...

Dear Daddy...

.. this is the Queen... I'm smart, but not yet smart enough to give myself a blogger account, so I'll use Mom's while shes out in the hall.

Mom's in the hall now, leaving me alone with the Minion again. You really need to make her stop doing that. The Minion is a little terror -- and I want you to get rid of him. You can keep the nice black cat -- but the one who opened the blinds this morning, knocked over the lamp and turned off Mom's CPAP machine last night must go. I suggest the trash chute -- it's quick, effective and he can't get back up.

Also, I'm reconsidering the ownership of my person. I've been giving this a lot of thought ('cuz I'm a cat and I have nothing better to do) -- and I think I may take Mom instead. You must realize by now that you have no say in this, I can change my ownership at any moment and that I can be bribed. I also know that Mom keeps the fresh cat nip in the dish cupboard and that you can get it out for me. Mom refuses to do so because that woman who cleans was here last week and she claims she wants the carpet to stay clean.

Mom says you'll be home "soon", but I don't know quite what that means -- I'm good at writing, but have no real concept of "math", "tomorrow" or any of that nonsense. Anyway, you should come home. I'll be watching for you, if only so I can begin the thorough punishment you so richly deserve.

The Queen

What makes a good Community College Dean?

This is my 6th year at BNCC -- and my 7th overall in the BN state community college system. I've had three deans. I've worked closely with two of them as department chair.

This morning, my current dean summed up what I want a good dean to do.

We've had a short e-mail exchange about summer classes. Our department told her what we thought should happen. We made some suggestions and told her what we were willing to do.

She just sent us an e-mail saying, in essence, that she'll look at the data, take our ideas into consideration and get back to us soon with a decision. That's what I want a dean to do -- look at the available information, consult with faculty and make a decision.

I don't want a dean to tell us to work it out for ourselves. I don't want a dean to try to get us to do what she's decided we should do -- but doesn't tell us directly, instead we are supposed to guess. I don't want a dean who makes decisions without consulting available data. I don't want a dean who makes decisions without consulting faculty. I don't want a dean who tells me (as department chair) that I'm supposed to "work with" a faculty member to enforce the dean's decisions -- even if those decisions aren't what I think should be done -- because I don't have the authority to make those decisions.

Really -- isn't it a dean's job to gather information, consult the impacted people and make a decision? It seems to me that's why the dean makes more money than I do -- they're my boss. Sometimes being the boss means making the decisions and telling folks what you've decided. Faculty may not like the decision. They may not want to do what you're telling them they need to do. The decision may not turn out to be a good idea. Those are the things you risk when taking the dean's job -- and, if you can't manage those things, you ought not take the job.

Yep --- I'm happy that this dean will be our dean for another year.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Two weeks at once...

The week after finals week can be weird for me, especially in the summer. The problem is that I'm so used to having a whole bunch of things to do, I get some free-floating anxiety. It took me several years to realize this was just me relaxing -- an the anxiety comes because it feels as if I'm missing something.

Right now, I'm having some of that anxiety. It's finals week -- but I have nothing to grade. My apartment is also pretty clean and my offices (home and school) organized. My Administrivia for being department chair is ready to go -- well before the deadline -- so there is nothing I MUST do, RIGHT NOW!

Sure, I'll have more to grade tomorrow -- and I graded 38 Ethics exams this morning and entered their final grades -- but, right now feels like the first day of summer.

I'm also feeling like those last few days before a trip -- because Hubby comes home day after tomorrow!!! It seems like forever, and -- while his Red State experience didn't end as he'd envisioned, I'm firmly convinced that it'll be the best thing in the end.... but, I want all of that to be here NOW!

Oh, and it's not warm or sunny--- it's really pretty cold and windy..... so it's quite confusing.

RBO -- the day...

  • I have about 20 Ethics papers left to grade.
  • I'm debating about when lunch will happen in my day -- I'm really hungry for Chipotle (or, however it's spelled... grrr). Should I finish grading and then go get it on the way to campus, or should I go earlier, take the end of the grading and lunch to campus and eat there??
  • I suspect I need a third point, but I really don't have one -- so instead I'll go read papers on euthanasia.

A good morning to get something accomplished...

I have a stack of about 40 papers to grade -- and then I can go to campus, calculate grades and be DONE with another class.

My favorite radio station is on.

I have a tall cup of coffee (my second... it's becoming a habit!).

The cats are amusing themselves -- The Minion has a Q-tip (which is his favorite toy, and one lasts for a long time), the Queen is watching in an amused and fairly disgusted way.

The trees are leafy and green -- thus blocking the direct sunlight into my window AND the trailer park I usually see.

My desk itself is clean and organized -- with just the right number of pens, post-its and other necessities.

So, instead of digging in - I thought I'd write a blog post.


Monday, May 11, 2009

About what I expected...

... from the logic folks.

A few improved their grades, most did not.

One wrote kind of a snotty note about his having good attendance --- BUT, dude, that doesn't mean you did your homework. Showing up regularly isn't sufficient, you actually have to engage, be awake and ask if you have questions. grrr. Take your D like an adult.

Tomorrow's project is to grade Ethics papers -- which should be kind of fun and rather quick because I've already read their drafts.

For tonight, I'm going to bed.

Ahhh, finals week....

I have to say, I love, love, love, love finals week.

No joke -- the campus is active, but not crowded.

The students are generally pretty focused.

The freaks hanging out in the common area are subdued -- because they are looking at books not a) playing D & D, b) playing music, c) playing hackey-sack, d) wrestling e) jousting f) making out...

There is a light at the end of the grading tunnel.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Celebrity Apprentice Spoiler....

If you care about Trump's latest show -- don't read any further....

Ok.... don't say I didn't warn you.

I've had it with Trump. Yea, I said that when he fired Caroline -- but, he hooked me with the latest Celebrity Apprentice, by putting Scott Hamilton on the show. BUT, as of tonight I've had it with him. He just gave the title to Joan Rivers.

Yea -- that Joan Rivers, the one who has been insulting Annie Duke for weeks. Calling her "worse than Hitler", saying crap like "your friends don't have last names" -- and directly saying that her poker friends were in the mob.

Really, Joan Rivers is a tacky boomer who is nothing but a caricature of herself... the female impersonators trying to look like her are much more attractive and charming than she could ever be.

On the last show, Joan was so insulting to the party planning people that the firm quit, wanting nothing to do with the Celebrity Apprentice. When they quit, they also refused to do Annie's event. Joan was so effective at shouting down Annie that Trump never got to hear Annie's side of the story. In fact, he seemed to think that they quit because of Annie -- or something. Really, had he watched his own tapes, he'd have seen when it happened.

Annie was a professional all the way -- She raised significantly more money, she kept things organized and had a whole bunch of people willing to help her. Joan had to badger her charity into coming in to help with the event... along with her friends who are party planners.

I actually think that Joan wanted the party planners to quit so that she could bring in her friends to help with the event. Absent that, she wouldn't have been allowed to bring in that level of outside help.

So Trump -- this time you're really fired -- at least from my TV.

Maybe the Minoin is a robot cat?

So, instead of doing dissertation work I'm watching the "Eureka" marathon on Sci-Fi...

One episode has the residents of Eureka constructing robot dogs. The goal is to make the dogs very realistic looking... but, the problem is that the dogs are spontaneously exploding.

That made me take a hard look at the Minion. I suspect he's a robot programmed by a former student who didn't like me much.

I'll let you know if he explodes.

I also think there are really TWO small black cats in my apartment. They take turns being out from under the bed. Right now the nice, sweet, sleepy, purring one is taking his turn out -- pretty soon he'll go tag the psycho, knock stuff off to watch it fall, scratch me, get in the bathroom trash looking for used Q-tips, cat.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

RBO a phone discussion with Mom...

  • Mom and Grandma are doing well -- Mom's still in Florida.
  • There's a sign near the lake that says, "No Swimming do not feed the alligators".
  • Mom and I find this VERY funny -- but any mention of this very funny sign gets blank looks from the Florida folks... don't they see the humor? Mom brought it up with some very funny folks last week and a long discussion of alligators was the only thing that followed.
  • I told Mom she should take a photo and post it on Facebook so the northern relatives could laugh at it.
  • The trouble with the Facebook plan -- Mom claims not to know how to save things on her computer.
  • She also "doesn't do right clicks, except accidentally".
I do miss mom... she makes me laugh.

I'm getting good at talking students...

.. out of taking the final exam.

Today, the consistently low-scoring kid came in wanting to take the final.

Folks, the final is Monday. To pass it, Stu would have to master venn diagrams, truth tables and proofs in four days. He said he wants to try, but I explained that it is unlikely that if he hasn't learned it before now, four days sequestered with his logic book isn't going to do the trick.

I explained that he could take it over the summer -- and I suspect he'll do so.

Also -- the 'my mom says I'm bright but I can't make it to class' girl came in. She's getting a C. This doesn't sit well with her. She has big plans to get a hard sciences degree and then a law degree. Her goal is to make a lot of money -- and somehow that's going to happen if she's doing environmental law?? Since she's on the 'corporations are evil', 'pharma companies are evil' 'I'm a vegan' track -- I don't think she realizes that those folks work for love more than money.

I also don't think she realizes that getting a C in a logic class that isn't all that difficult (compared to most science courses) doesn't exactly bode well for her intellectual abilities...

As we talked, I convinced her that the C wouldn't do huge damage to her GPA (hmm... also, she's in developmental math -- telling me it's hard, but wants to do a hard sciences degree??).

yea -- I'm ready for the end of the semester.

A nice meeting today...

... in which I was told that one of my assignments was "brilliant".

The ego boost was a good way to end the year.

Since the purpose of the meeting was to improve on the assignment, we did figure out how to make that happen -- but, having someone whose project is to improve writing assignments outside the English department tell me my work was "brilliant" was quite nice :).

In which an F is a blessing...

I had an odd conversation with a student last night.

She's of the 'come to class when it's convenient' variety.

When I asked her which section she's in, she told me the wrong day & time the first FOUR times I asked. Finally, I thought to check the other class list -- there she was.

When she got her grade sheet, she knew she was failing the class. Then -- she asked about the final.

I asked if she was taking other courses this semester. She said she had several, with projects and things due next week.

I told her that passing the final would require a lot of work on her part and asked her if she'd rather not take it? The other option is to re-take the class in the summer -- with me.

Her relief was visible.. She started to smile and sat down in my visitor's chair.

We talked about what she'd have to do next time to do well in the course -- things like come to every class, do the homework, get help etc.

I told her about several students who had problems the first time around, but who got A's the second try. The difference is that they changed their habits.

We discussed the possible impacts of having an F on her transcript/GPA for a summer... and, really, they're negligible.

I'm happy she stopped by instead of just accepting her F in silence. I think getting that F has helped her much more than cramming for the exam and maybe getting a pity D.

Signs of the end of the semester

  • I have big piles of grading.
  • My office is fairly clean - -because I clean the office to procrastinate.
  • We're into the emergency back-up cat food... thus, introducing the Minion to canned food.
  • My car is out of gas AND has expired tags.
  • I'm eager to read the last set of papers -- kind of because I want to see what some of them did with their papers, but mostly because I want to be DONE.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

RBO thoughts I had between campus and home...

... it isn't far, but I must be in a mood today.

  • McDonalds' McCafe coffee isn't bad. It is pretty inexpensive... so, I suppose it'll do.
  • Class starts at 8:55. That doesn't mean that you should pull into the parking lot at 8:55. You're now late to class -- and your professor will notice.
  • Being late also doesn't mean that you have some kind of special permission to drive like a maniac -- then get out of your car and saunter into the building like you're on a date.
  • Standing right in front of the front door of the building will cause people to come in behind you. Don't give them dirty looks for doing so. Get out of the way so they don't bump you.
  • You really aren't as cool as you think. You aren't as sexy as you think and you probably aren't as bright as you think. Standing around with your mouth open makes you look like an idiot -- please get out of my way so I can get to my office.
  • People say really stupid stuff in the hall -- not realizing classes are in session and can hear you. Don't be one of those dumb-asses classes laugh at. Shut up!

Today's another day of glory or pain...

... depending on if you've been doing your work.

My logic classes will get their grade reports today. Things haven't gone well for a decent number of them -- because they haven't bothered to do the work. I really can tell when they're blowing my warnings off -- because they don't ask questions in class. You only really have questions if you've actually TRIED to do the work.

I'm happy to see that the students who have been busting their backsides this semester are getting good grades. My ESL student who worried about a language barrier seems to have conquered it -- with 100.5% -- the vital extra points earned by kicking butt on the last exam. A student I who didn't know was pregnant had her baby, and then lost him a little over two weeks ago -- she's earning her A--- by doing very well on the exam. The ditzy-looking party-girl in her Uggs and trendy workout clothes earned 7 points extra-credit on the last exam by doing some really hard problems.

The "Ice Fishing Boys" -- not so much so. They're the ones who couldn't answer a simple question about the content of the homework... grrr. They mostly came to class, but they were the perfect example of a set of students who didn't learn because they couldn't be bothered even trying to do the homework.

It's been an interesting semester in Logic -- and, while there are a few things I'll change for summer session, I like the new book and the methods we've been using.

For Bioethics, tonight is 'last day to turn in your misc. stuff day' and individual conferences. Interestingly enough, the ones with the low grades on drafts aren't signed up for conferences. I suppose they think the low grade is because they didn't fully articulate their brilliant argument, not because the argument itself is crap.

The Ethics night of conferences was really fun -- and I think the students who bothered to come will have much stronger papers.

The good thing about their apathy is that I'll probably be done early tonight -- my 7:00 conference canceled... I suspect she knows she's so right in her opposition to abortion that someone like me couldn't really help her improve her paper.... Or, she's decided to decide to ignore whatever I say because I'm a godless-Feminist-bitch... I suppose I'll have to wait until she turns her paper in next week to find out.

And -- a week from tomorrow, Hubby will be home for good!!!! Or, at least until he geeks-out at a 3 week institute in July...

Sending things back...

... to central duplicating.

I sent over a request for 70 logic exams total.

The deadline was noon on Monday. The first exam was Monday at 2:15, the second on Tuesday at at 7:45.

All 70 arrived on Tuesday sometime after noon, by which point I'd already made the copies myself and had given both exams.

I decided to send them back -- with a note telling them that they'd missed the deadline and that I didn't want our department account charged for these copies, as I'd already made them.

Grrr... I sent the request on Wednesday last week, so they had 2 full working days to get it done -- plus the time on Monday morning. 48 hour turn-around, my ass.

I wonder how it will be received -- I suspect my sweet dean will get a phone call.... hmmm. I should drop her an e-mail note.

New morning - same old e-mail, version #2

Dear Proffie,

In retrospect, I've had health issues this semester that have made me miss a whole bunch of your 7:45 classes. I know you and many other members of the class have been getting your asses out of bed to be there at the ass-crack of dawn, but really -- truth be told -- it just wasn't convenient. You see, I have sleep-in-itus compounded by party-like-an-idiot-itus, so even when I manage to get to class I haven't been able to pay attention because I was usually still drunk/high. These conditions also prevented me from doing the homework AND they've caused me brain-damage, so the fact that I failed all the tests I managed to show up for isn't my fault.

You see, I really need to pass the class to: (circle all that apply) graduate/so my company will reimburse tuition/stay on my parents insurance/be able to mooch off of my parents another year/play sports/go to law school/be able to win arguments with my roomates. It's really important that I get credit for learning all the crap everyone else in the class has worked hard to learn, even if I haven't been to class for months.

The last class meeting of the semester is tomorrow, so what can I do to pass the class? You have a comprehensive final exam that replaces the grade in the course... is it hard? I hope I won't be responsible for stuff we've covered in class, because I wasn't there to hear that stuff so I can't be held responsible. What will the exam cover? I hope it isn't all that hard crap on the syllabus that I lost, and that the class has been working on while I've been sleeping in and watching The View while cuddling with my cat.

Please drop everything to bail my stupid-ass out of this hole. I know you don't have anything else to do, even our state Govenor says that college professors are lazy, so get off your ass and teach me the whole semester in your office. I have 20 minutes today at 11:00, I'll expect you in your office then.

the student you thought had been abducted by aliens.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

The Minion and the Thunderstorm...

We're having our first thunderstorm this afternoon.

Since the Minion was only a kitten last summer, this is his first experience with thunder...

So far, he's retreated to his safe place -- the top of the cat tree.

A special version of Grading Jail --

... the Logic-o-rama...

I give a logic exam this morning. While the exam is in progress, I'll be grading the exams from yesterday. By the end of tonight I'll have graded about 70 logic exams, graded all their extra-credit and filled out a grade slip for the little buggars.

I hope to GOD that they do well, because then they won't want to take the comprehensive final.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Pot luck...

I made a pot of veggie chili for our pot luck.

Last time I tried it, the whole thing tipped over onto the floor of my car.

But -- last time my commute was much longer AND I hadn't figured out that you put the croc pot in a box and put the box on the floor....

So -- today, one of my goals is to get to campus without having to scrape chili off the floormats... (for the record, I threw that part away!!).

Sunday, May 03, 2009

New day, same e-mail topics...

Dear Proff,

I'm a dumb-ass who hasn't been paying attention in class. Please go out of your way for me, because while your class is low-priority for me, I should be your highest priority student. You see, I'm too disorganized/busy/stupid/disrespectful/cool (circle all that apply) to keep my crap together for the one remaining week of the semester. Because I see you only work 15 hours per week, I know you have nothing to do but to keep track of my crap for me. Besides, that's what other teachers have done for me all along.

Answer me ASAP, as I send time-sensitive e-mails about assignments due tomorrow at 10:30 at night.


PS - you know that if you don't coddle me, I'll call your boss. I take the school's slogans very personally, I know you want me here.

Don't assume your students are good with word processing...

.. just because they spend their time texting.

Out of 70ish drafts, a majority had problems accomplishing a footnote.

Some would try to type in the header/footer space. They came closest, and I had to give them credit.

Many others did a variety of weird options -- none of which actually looked like a footnote.

A whole bunch of them just didn't bother.

I hope my comments on their drafts are sufficient to make them realize they'd better bother on the final. It's due week after next -- they have plenty of time.

"Swine Flu" -- N1H1....

.. has closed my old High School. There are four BNstate schools closed, my district has 3 of them.

Although my family was far from affluent, the district where I went to school is.

I suppose it makes sense that my old school would close.

Families in the area have the means to travel AND the means to get freaked out about this.

Folks, during my time at that school (K-12... every danged year), they maybe closed three or four times for snow. If they're still like that, they probably have snow days to spare and figured that they shouldn't take the chance.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Dear Garrison --

For the record, you barely qualify as a citizen of Minnesota.

Living and doing most of your show from New York City means that you aren't here. There's a huge difference between being a native of Minnesota and actually being a citizen. You may be the former (because it can't be revoked), but you are barely a citizen.

I know you're making big piles of money pretending to be a Minnesotan, so I hope they make you pay a special penalty tax for being a twerp.

Also, by the way, I'm not going to your bookstore.

Blogging for accountability..

It's 3:30.

I'm on pg 7 of 18 in chapter 1 -- I'm putting Dr. Advisor's comments into the file.

I need to make progress on this -- so, I'm going to stay in my office chair and not on the internet until 5:00.

Here goes...

Later --- It worked. I got the first two chapters worth of comments done by 5:00 -- took a break and then did the third chapter.

I also found out that it doesn't suck as much as I thought it might -- although there is a lot of work to do. The nice thing is that putting the comments in at this point helps me to really understand what he's thinking - -and now, when I go rearrange the files, his comments will be there.

So -- tonight I'm off to get some sushi at the good grocery store -- and then a night of something other than trying to read Dr. Advisor's handwriting. I think I have the hang of it -- but, there are a few words I simply can't read... I wonder if I could persuade him to type comments himself on future versions? He gives really good comments... I'd like to be able to read them :).

Getting an early start...

... provides many more opportunities for procrastination.

So far, I've managed to get the chapters Dr. Advisor commented on out of my bag.

But -- I need another cup of coffee....

I'm not sure I'll get a lot of dissertation work done today, but I am sure that I'll manage to procrastinate plenty :).

Friday, May 01, 2009

The Minion's new game...

It seems that the Minion and I have a new game.

He wants attention, so he jumps up on top of the stuff we have on top of tall bookshelves (radio, TV and a variety of other things)...

He walks around up there meowing until I notice him.

When I notice him, I shake the water bottle at him and he jumps down.

I go back to what I'm doing -- which is usually something on my computer -- and he does it again.

Seriously, he's like a 3 year-old who doesn't want attention until his Mommy is on the phone.


Advice for students...

How to get the benefit of the doubt from your instructors...

1) Never try to lie to them. They may not be able to prove you've lied -- but, they'll suspect it and suddenly they'll enforce every little provision in the syllabus.

2) Come to class -- all the time, unless you actually ARE sick.

3) Be prepared for class -- or, at least be prepared enough to ask a decent question or bring up an interesting point. Also, keep your electronic stuff turned off during class... cell phones, laptops etc. are for before or after class.

4) Turn your stuff in on time, proofread it etc. We want to see that you're making an effort. IF we make note of a mistake on one assignment, correct it for the next time. If we are generous enough to take a revision, make sure the revised paper is perfect!

5) Be respectful, both to your instructor and to your classmates... even if they are complete idiots, take the opportunity fake respect. This is a very important job/life skill -- because you'll be working with idiots and you'll need things from them.

That way, when crap happens in your life, your instructor will be more inclined to give you a break.

I'm thinking about this because I just gave a huge break to a student who has consistently managed to do #1-5. Not doing so would have hurt her grade, but she earned it!

Today... get caught up edition...

Last week -- and part of this week -- was draft-0-paloza...

Next week will be Logic-world. I'll give logic exams, grade them, assess extra-credit and get them course grades by Wednesday afternoon/Thursday morning. Being 100% caught up before my week of logic-hell is vital. By Thursday afternoon next week I'll know how many folks will be taking the logic final, how many will be re-taking the exam from Monday/Tuesday and how many will go away happy with their A's, B's or C's.

Today's challenge is the bag full of miscellaneous crap to grade. Make-up exams in logic, revisions, late stuff and the last regular writing assignment from bioethics.

I think I can get most of it done by about lunchtime... then I'll spend the weekend translating Dr. Advisor's comments into versions of my chapter -- and then rearranging things to see where I stand.

The nice thing about the way the semester ends is that I should have most of next weekend off from grading!!! So I can spend it actually working on the dissertation I'm rearranging this weekend!!!!!

During finals week I'll have a relatively small number of Logic exams to grade and two sets of final papers (with drafts attached!!). I should be done two weeks from today.