Friday, July 31, 2009

I now know who the most overworked faculty members are....

... at BNCC.

The winner of the title is in Rad-tech.

This person is SO busy they cannot bear the burden of one more "all faculty" e-mail about something relevant to teaching.

In this case, it was about the "teaching naked" idea floating around the internets.

I responded to the sender individually, noting that the context of 'teaching naked' wasn't really about teaching without technology, but rather not letting technology get in the way of interpersonal interactions.

I also recall reading that the author was discussing upper-division seminars with 12-15 students, not large courses with multiple sections and no TA... If anybody at BNCC is teaching like the "teaching naked" author, they'd better keep quiet about it!.

BNCC's overworked faculty person was SO busy, in fact, that s/he used 'reply to all' to voice this complaint....

To quote -- "Take me off of all faculty opinion emails. I have too many important emails to open and respond to.
If technology is so bad then why not these eliminate email exchanges! "

Brilliant, don't you think? How about learning to write -- oops, too busy with "important" emails to do that... hmmm.

I may have just been played...

... by a plagiarizer...

But, if so, s/he did a good job.

The paper was due last night. They turned it in on Wednesday (early). It had lots of plagiarized stuff in it -- clearly so.

This one has the same examples, but is all in her own words. It's less than 24 hours late.

I suspect that the first one was turned in with the hopes that I wouldn't catch it..... and the second was the back-up paper in case I did -- s/he could claim to have accidentally turned in notes etc, and sent the other one to the drop box immediately. I can't tell when it was actually written because when I opened it and saved it to grade it, my system put my time stamp on it...

One way or the other, I did build a bit of a late penalty into the final grade, which is the minimum s/he deserves.

Note to students who want to cheat...

Dear cheaters,

If you want to plagiarize, please do so in accord with the following guidelines:
  • Don't use a website the professor provides for you in course materials.
  • Don't mix your own poor writing with the brilliant writing of professional philosophers.
  • Plagiarize EVERY paper from the same source so your writing style is consistent.
  • If you fail to do the above, plagiarize from someone who writes like you do.
  • Before you hand in your paper, google a distinctive sentence or two, if your sentence appears in the first few hits, start over.
your philosophy prof -- who wishes that you'd either not plagiarize or do so better so that I don't have to catch you and fail you for the course.

On-line teaching suggestions?

First -- and admission -- I'm just recently figuring out our on-line course delivery system. It's weird that it's taken me so long because I'm comfortable with the on-line stuff etc.. but, I also tend not to get into technology until I have to, so having this 'hybrid' course over the summer was the perfect incentive.

So -- I'm new to this -- today I will finish the grades for the on-line course.

BNCC has a really good educational design person who makes us do the work while he coaches us. So -- I don't have any problems getting technical help from him... but, what I do need is some teaching wisdom.

A few questions -- in no particular order...
  • How do you see that "ah ha!!!" moment on-line? When we're with our students, we can see that they understand -- how do you do that on-line?
  • How do you quickly assess discussion posts? We have the usual tool that shows how many they've read and written, but how do you assess quality?
  • What are your best suggestions for writing effective reading quizzes?
  • How involved are you in on-line discussions? Do you just skim them to make sure they're on the right track, or do you get involved in the discussions?
  • How do you keep from making stupid set-up mistakes? Do you have any rituals before a course opens?
  • What's the most clever thing you've done recently?
  • How do you actually deliver the content you'd normally deliver in lecture/discussion? I think this, and the 'ah ha!!' moment are my two main questions. Right now I could stand up and deliver a basic lecture on any part of my ethics and logic courses. I can do a passable job at any part of my intro to philosophy courses and at most of my bioethics course. All this stuff is in my head -- how do I get it out of my head without having to formally type it all...
  • Also -- what are the course caps for your on-line courses?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Yea... I wanted you to do better too...

Dang, why do I answer the phone in my office?

The only D in my logic course called today... twice.

D took my course before.

D wasn't prepared then, nor was s/he prepared this time.

D failed to do homework -- or even try.

D failed a crucial exam the first time around.

D couldn't make the crucial exam re-take.

D's story was that they needed to go to NYC exactly the only possible day I could give a re-take... because D's new school required hir to present themselves in person for these things.. Really? and -- it had to be during this class? In the days of the internet, faxes, e-mail and fed-ex -- does anything have to be done in person?

D didn't maximize extra-credit (for goodness sakes, they could get up to 5% total extra-credit...).

D didn't learn the first time in the class. D didn't learn the second time either -- and I really wonder if D learned anything from this class.

While I doubt D really HAD to be out of town that weekend, I wonder if D's D will prevent her transfer.. maybe s/he will learn better out east -- because D didn't get it this time around.

Sorry D... well, not really.

How not to get student complaints...

I realized recently that I rarely have complaints / grade challenges from students. On occasion I do make a mistake-- and occasionally I'll have a student ask me to review or reconsider a grade, but it's been years since a grade complaint made it to my Dean's office.

I think I know a few reasons why...

I'm very clear about their grades, expectations and what's due. This includes using a grading matrix that is very simple and justifies the grade. I also write the next assignment on the board every class period. I know the little dears won't keep up with the syllabus -- and they often don't arrive on time, so that way they have no excuses. You can't say you didn't know what was expected if it's written on the board at the front of the room EVERY FRIGGING CLASS.

I tell them what I expect and I grade accordingly. Students complain when they're surprised -- I spend a lot of time (perhaps too much) in class making sure my expectations are clear.

I provide a way for them to know where they stand in the class before the last assignment. This lets me clear up any clerical errors I might make (and I do make them), and get stuff in before it's too late. It also prevents the surprise D. They know at least a couple of weeks before I enter it that they're heading to D-land...

I have a minimal number of standards/expectations, but I hold to them. I think I could raise my standards/expectations for writing a bit, at least for Bioethics which is a smaller course.

I have a limited number of 'mulligan' opportunities. This gives students a chance for a do-over -- without becoming a huge burden on me. I want them to demonstrate their abilities, but they also have to -- at some point -- be able to deliver. The combination is important because it allows a student to learn what they aren't understanding about an assignment/topic and then makes them actually do it. The limits are an important part of the 'do it' phase, as some students won't learn until they have to.

I'm also pretty transparent in terms of grading and my own experience / duties as an instructor. So I'll tell them when I expect to get something done -- but, also if it doesn't look likely for a while... if I have a huge stack of papers and another class needs theirs back first, generally classes understand this. Their anxiety comes when a professor promises a specific date and then doesn't deliver. When they realize the time-management game that is being a CC prof, it helps them see and appreciate both the effort that goes into giving a thoughtful grade and helps them understand the time line necessary for giving that grade.

Being transparent about my own time management challenges helps to explain my reason for delay on grading late papers. I tell them that I have a specific time period set aside for grading their papers. When papers miss that time period, the students can't expect immediate feedback... they need to wait for the time period I have reserved for 'misc, grading', which is usually at the end of the semester.

So -- what do you do to make your student relationships easier to deal with???

Sometimes they touch your heart....

... and, for some reason my summer logic class did just that.

Before the last review session, one of my favorites came to me to tell me how much he's enjoyed seeing my intellect on display in class.

He could have been brown-nosing in hopes that it will increase his grade... but, he seemed pretty sincere, and logic is objectively graded... so, it really doesn't help.

but, it was nice to hear anyway.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

One more long day....

... and summer session will be over.

I keep telling myself that I'm earning groceries for the year with this summer stuff, and that's a good thing.

I also don't completely hate my students -- which is kind of amazing at this point. Maybe the end of semester hatred comes when they have more time to do/say stupid things?

Today, my cleaning person will be here -- so, when I come home, things will be nice and orderly.

Monday, July 27, 2009

A good woman has gone...

... by all reports, peacefully and with her friends and family around her. She was English faculty at BNCC.

She died of a recurrence of breast cancer. She was the 'other' breast cancer person at BNCC.. which is probably a wildly innacurate thing to say, but the other folks here who have had breast cancer weren't frineds of my friends, so I don't know about them.

The thing is, I didn't know her personally, yet I feel connected to her because she was a member of the brest cancer sorority.

From what I can tell, as cancer deaths go, hers was relatively good. Not long ago she was living her normal life. Very recently she was noticibly weaker, yesterday she lost consciousness and this morning she slipped away.

Her friends described her as elegant, fierce, inspiring and wonderful. These are women who don't give these kinds of accolades easily, so I'm sure they were true.

For all of us who teach -- think about how to be more like her -- it's a pretty big job to be both elegant and fierce, inspiring and wonderful.

I know that my friends will miss her terribly -- and I hope that they can see that their missing her is both the wonderful and terrible thing about being close to someone. I think it would be really sad if she'd passed and nobody missed her or if those who were close to her didn't feel loss and significant sadness at her passing. Those feelings are our indication that there was a sincere and honest connection to the person who has passed.

For the rest of you -- who, like me, didn't know her. Think about how to be more like her.

...and make sure you do breast exams every month and get your mammagram every year.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Hubby's home...

... and napping, in his own bed :).

Tonight -- dinner from the Farmer's market (mostly):

Corn on the cob
salad with cucumber and carrots & homemade bleu cheese dressing.


Tomorrow -- the last week of summer teaching!

I-80 and I-35...

Hubby realized that, in his life, he's been on all of I-80 from San Francisco to New York City...

and -- all of I-35, from Duluth to Houston.

He's driven nearly all of that -- except the segment of I-80 from Salt Lake City to San Francisco..


A bit less flexibility next year...

As I look at my schedule for Fall, I realize that it might end up to be the case that folks will call meetings at times when I'm not teaching and wouldn't otherwise be on campus.

This is because I'm teaching two nights per week....

You know what, when others are relaxing, making dinner, prepping for class, grading or fooling around on Facebook, I'll be teaching either 40 or 50 students. This means my fooling around / grading time is during the day. "They" (folks who schedule meetings) wouldn't schedule one at 9 PM -- why should I agree to one at 8 AM on the days I teach until 9?

I'm just not going to be available until noon on M & T -- and, if I can help it, not at all on Friday.

One more trip... really...

..there's something about Red State that keeps sucking us back.

Hubby, being a good non-son to the Dr. & Mrs. Housesitting, agreed to swing by Red State for a gander at the house he used to house sit. So, he spent the night there.

The result is that the last leg of our long-distance-ness will be very familiar to him.

The directions home go something like, "go to Corn State City (there's really only one), take a left, find home.

I'm so glad it's over...

and -- for the record -- if I end up going to Nerd-Camp NY, it doesn't count as an extension of the LDR... 'cuz we'll have been together for nearly a whole year by then :).

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Hapy things...

.. there has been some sad news at BNCC... and a bit scary because someone with breast cancer had her cancer return after 6.5 years, and now it's too late. I don't know her, but she's close to many of my friends and colleagues and quite a few of them are deeply saddened by this, so I feel it too.

So -- I think I need to post some happy things, just to get myself thinking about them:
  • The Farmer's Market -- loads of veggies and lots of change leftover from $40.00.
  • The orderly nature of BNcity's downtown drivers... so unlike Manhattan, where I was last Saturday.
  • My cats, all snuggles and sleeping in the sun for the Queen while the Minion (perhaps Prince of Darkness is a better term) is lounging about in the shadows plotting my demise.
  • The Minion/PoD has taught me how to play fetch with him -- using one of several Starbursts stolen from the candy bowl. He brings them to me in his mouth (usually when I'm sleeping) and I throw them out the door to the bedroom. He brings it back and we repeat until I'm awake and he's ready for a nap. For some reason we only play with Starbusts (generally lemon) and we only play in bed.
  • Nice summer weather = hardly any reason to use the AC!!
  • My porch plants have survived (mostly) my travels and still look good. I think I'll spend some porch time this afternoon doing Fall course prep and a little grading.
and -- the big one -- Hubby is crossing all the midwestern "I" states today. That means tomorrow he'll be home!!!!

Friday, July 24, 2009

I'm gonna miss my tutor...

I'm lucky to have a fantastic logic tutor this summer --- I'll have her in the fall as well. Right now the spring is in question.... although, I hope she'll do the Spring as well because that will give me time to find my next tutor.

For the last couple of weeks she's been tutoring a group of students who couldn't pass the first proof exam. I got her a room and she's working with them so they can do the problems and get a C in the class.

She's much more patient than I am. She's willing to sit with them until they figure it out -- while I'm much to quick to tell them which move to make. She's also inventive about doing problems -- last week I saw her involving the whole group in completing one proof. They were taking turns writing the next line.

I had no idea she's be this good when I asked her to tutor... but, I'm glad she accepted the invitation/challenge :).

Thursday, July 23, 2009

In a New York state of mind...

... sure, I've only been there once.

Sure, I spent less than 48 hours total in the city.

Yep, I'm just now recovered from the day spent walking in Manhattan.

I just paid the AMEX bill for the parking, souvenirs and one dinner (don't ask how much, I don't want to think about it).

Intellectually I realize that it's expensive, hard, dirty, a monument to capitalism and income inequity....

but -- I wanna go back.

I want to go back so much I'm watching 30 Rock.. and any other random TV show set in NYC.

I want to go back so much that I've already started looking down my nose at LA (soulless city).

Sure, BNcity is nice and all -- and Chicago is close enough to be tempting -- but, it isn't Manhattan...

I just loved the feeling of being there. I can't explain it -- I must be an addict.

Maybe I just miss Hubby --- NYC was the last time I saw him. I'll let you know if I still have NYC-fever when he comes home Sunday.

I'm sesning a theme...

... I'm over it. Done with it. Sick and tired of it...

There are three main referents for "IT":
  • My summer classes -- they end next week and I'm so ready to grade the last stuff. I'm also over the 'went to Sam's club' student who was also 45 minutes late to class last night. Hir has way too much work to do -- and I see no evidence that s/he is actually trying. S/he left tutoring early again last night... not good.
  • My dissertation -- It's 97 pages, about 40ish of them aren't crap. I want it to be done...
  • Hubby being Long-distance.... He's been at nerd-camp for three weeks. It ends this week, so he'll be home on Sunday or -- at the latest -- Monday.
The class will end next week on Wednesday and Thursday -- if only the dissertation would be done then too... sigh.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Getting excited about weather / nature...

It's funny what folks get worked up about, weather / nature wise.

In BNstate the weather has to have potential to kill you before we get too wound up about it. A bad snowstorm could result in auto fatalities, sub-zero weather means you could freeze to death and tornadoes can kill you -- so, they get excited about that on the weather.

In Red State they never got too worked up about ice storms -- they might happen to mention that there's an inch of ice on everything during the morning weather.... which was pretty irritating, as I was late to work a few times because I couldn't chip my car out fast enough!! They should have been more excited about ice storms, IMHO.

Hubby and I both recently noticed that folks in New York get excited (i.e. worried) about thunderstorms. They want to forgo going out because of a thunderstorm, they track them incessantly on the news (I saw this myself -- and found it funny, as there wasn't even the threat of hail... and it wasn't coming anyplace close to the NYC metro area) and generally get concerned about them.

The guy on the plane home asked about the frequency of thunderstorms in BNstate -- I told him they happen, but we don't get worked up unless there's a tornado involved. He gave me a weird look and changed the subject to snowstorms...

Folks in Florida seem to be pretty complacent about living with alligators and other things that can eat you. Really, they should get more excited about those things...

So -- what's weird about your area -- nature/weather wise?

Why Hubby is my guy...

I'm revising my dissertation -- right now it's 97 pages of varying quality, but -- for the moment it's a complete draft.

I know that without Hubby's support, I wouldn't be at this place -- and I wouldn't be a lot of other things.

There's a good reason this song is on my Dissertation playlist... it really says it all..

"Because you loved me"

For all those times you stood by me
For all the truth that you made me see
For all the joy you brought to my life
For all the wrong that you made right
For every dream you made come true
For all the love I found in you
I'll be forever thankful baby
You're the one who held me up
Never let me fall
You're the one who saw me through through it all

You were my strength when I was weak
You were my voice when I couldn't speak
You were my eyes when I couldn't see
You saw the best there was in me
Lifted me up when I couldn't reach
You gave me faith 'coz you believed
I'm everything I am
Because you loved me

You gave me wings and made me fly
You touched my hand I could touch the sky
I lost my faith, you gave it back to me
You said no star was out of reach
You stood by me and I stood tall
I had your love I had it all
I'm grateful for each day you gave me
Maybe I don't know that much
But I know this much is true
I was blessed because I was loved by you

You were my strength when I was weak
You were my voice when I couldn't speak
You were my eyes when I couldn't see
You saw the best there was in me
Lifted me up when I couldn't reach
You gave me faith 'coz you believed
I'm everything I am
Because you loved me

You were always there for me
The tender wind that carried me
A light in the dark shining your love into my life
You've been my inspiration
Through the lies you were the truth
My world is a better place because of you

You were my strength when I was weak
You were my voice when I couldn't speak
You were my eyes when I couldn't see
You saw the best there was in me
Lifted me up when I couldn't reach
You gave me faith 'coz you believed
I'm everything I am
Because you loved me

I'm everything I am
Because you loved me

Revising chapter 1...

... in the rain.

Well, it's raining outside -- but, it sounds nice.

I hope it clears up for the afternoon, as I have on-line stuff to accomplish for my courses and I prefer to do this on the porch.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Secret notes to some of the people I met...

To the LGA taxi guys -- and the front desk dude --
Thanks! You made my day and immediately contradicted the image of New Yorkers as unfriendly!

To the variety of 'fashion don'ts' --
While I'm sorry that I saw the gaps between your shirts and pants, I still say 'you go girl' -- don't let other people make you feel self-conscious. Wear that velor track suit, even if it doesn't flatter you. It's ok to wear a mini-dress if you feel good about it. My only bit of advice is that getting in and out of cabs is it's own kind of athletic event and, if you want to look good, you do need to consider how your clothes fit.

To the pushy bitch at the Statue of Liberty --
Don't poke me. I could see that I was next in line... go home and stop being mean.

To the blackberry guy at the restaurant --
Dude, she stood you up because you spend too much time on that thing. You're also a bit too concerned about how you look. Next time, try paying attention to her for a change...

To the guy on the plane --
I really hope things go well for you at Mayo. I didn't ask why you're going down there, because I'm from BN state and we don't generally pry like that. You seem like a really cool guy with a happy family and a solid set of values. I hope that you made it to Mayo safe and sound, that they figure out what's going on and help you out. It's folks like you that make the world go 'round. Good luck!

To the parking-lot-van driver --
You really did treat me like a queen -- and the ride back to my car was fun. I'd love to have you as a student -- you're thinking and applying theory to the world. I know you're probably happy driving that van, because you'd be happy doing whatever you do -- but, I think the world would be better knowing more of you.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

My first hour in NYC...

... I promise not to retrospectively blog every hour -- but, this one was pretty good.

First thing -- we land, I didn't check luggage, so I was headed for the front door of LaGuardia when a nice looking gentleman asked me if I needed a cab? I said yes -- he said, "I'll take your bags" -- which, seemed both nice and troubling.

So -- we get outside and I see the taxi stand. I say -- "wait a second, is this a cab?" He says "no a limo" -- so I say "give me back my luggage" -- while taking it from him and head over to the taxi stand. The guy in charge of the taxi stand is laughing and gives me five for figuring out what was going on...

After a nice taxi ride into Manhattan -- I get to our hotel. the Millennium Hilton, right at Ground Zero -- (hubby's a genius, the rate was really good!) -- when I get there, I mention to the front desk person that it was my 1 year anniversary for starting chemo -- and he gave us an amazing upgrade!! A corner suite on the 38th floor -- facing Ground Zero / the river from one set of windows and looking uptown from the other.

I threw my stuff down and took off for a walk -- up Broadway, down toward Battery Park and back to the hotel for a bit...

Home from The CITY!

dang -- I really like New York.

I can see the appeal of being part of a huge crowd of people -- of all different shapes, sizes, colors and attitudes.

It's amazing how close things are -- if you want to do it, it's there.

The economics of it are amazing to me -- how do people pay those rents?

I can also see why folks are exhausted by it. The city really doesn't sleep.

Hubby took most of the pictures -- and I'll be writing more about some particular parts of it later -- but, suffice it to say that I want to go back.

Friday, July 17, 2009

On-line teaching tip...

... I have one -- I think :).

If at all possible, group sections into one bigger class. That way you have a smaller number of courses to manage...

Do you have any tips for me?

In particular, any ideas about how to write reading quizzes?

A big weekend....

...last year, for a different reason. This would be my first of many 'chemo weekends'. I can see why people call themselves 'cancer survivors' -- I don't do that, at least not so far -- because I don't want that to be my identity.... but, when it's happening to you, it's easy to fall into the patient role.

... 40 years ago -- Super-Mom tells me that my first steps around the coffee table took place as they watched Neil Armstrong walk on the moon.

Walking into the chemo clinic wasn't so fun --

Walking around our coffee table as a kid might have been fun, but I don't remember it.

But -- I'm guessing that walking around NYC this weekend will be fun.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Thank goodness for the checklist...

... otherwise, I would have left my NYC guidebook at home.

It's the compact Fodor's "New York City's 25 Best" one.. with several handy maps etc.

It's been on my desk so long that I didn't see it...

A few fun photos...

The evil that is the Minion... there's no context in the photo, but this was taken as he pondered my death or his plot to take over the world -- he does so on top of the cat tree.

My plants on my deck -- which feels more like a porch than a deck. It's one of my favorite things about the apartment. Directly downstairs from the railing is a little swampy area -- and at the end of the deck (beyond the satellite dish) is the land that used to be a golf course and now is home to the deer, possum, etc...

A fight in progress... The Queen was peacefully sleeping in the sun. The Minion snuggled up to her, then the trouble started.

My workplace out on the deck -- I wrote most of my summer course out there -- it's amusing to watch the neighbors while I work. Note the iced tea pitcher and coffee cup -- caffeine helps.

Tomorrow I'm off to NYC -- and I'm super excited. I'm sure I'll have a billion tourist photos...

and sometimes staff isn't much better with details...

My Logic tutor is working with 5-7 students and having her own room with a board is very helpful.

Having a room scheduler who can actually read the room schedule would be helpful...

Last night at 6:00 -- my tutor found out that our very recent room reservation was put in an occupied room.

In response to my e-mail, the room scheduler than wants ME to tell her exactly what course is in there... as if I know. I already told her the course name... but it seems that wasn't enough.

So, I take 30 seconds to look in the on-line class schedule.

She could have done that. I did it from home, in my PJs --

It will be pretty amusing to see how long the scheduler tries to avoid giving us another room or accepting responsibility for making a mistake.

I'm not sure why I'm still thinking about this...

...whole A thing.

I suppose it was the audacity of demanding an alternative time to take the exam.

I wonder if, while trying to be open and approachable, I've given the wrong impression? Did A think that she could somehow demand an alternative time and I'd give it to her?

I suppose it's the combination of A's audacity and F's demand (of my tutor) that s/he be allowed to re-take the exam last night.

F's exam on Monday night was horrific. When your grade is about 15% on Monday, why would you think that taking an exam on the same material Wednesday is going to be any different? I know F didn't magically learn all the material over the 48 hours since the last exam... I wonder if F thinks I'm planning to give exactly the same problems?

On the other hand -- Negative Nancy from a few posts back, got a pretty darned good grade on the exam -- surprising herself...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

They're here for a reason...

.. that's my mantra.

Sometimes they make their own reasons.

A is a student taking logic for the second time. The first time around was a bust -- A couldn't make it to class, wasn't prepared when they were in class and generally was interested in other stuff.

So far, A's had a good attendance record, but clearly hasn't been prepared. I think A is trying to do the course without putting in any time outside of class. That may work for other disciplines, and for other philosophy courses, but logic doesn't work that way.

So -- as predicted, A failed the most recent exam. A knew this exam was a lost cause and started to pester me about a make-up time--- it seems that the time I have isn't convenient.

I pretty much told A, 'tough sh*t' -- and outright asked her if she thought the third time she asked about other times was going to be any different? It isn't my fault that she couldn't pass it when I gave it in class -- and I'm sure as hell not going out of my way for someone who couldn't be bothered to learn it OR make it to the make-up time I so generously scheduled.

Turns out -- A has plans to be out of town early next week... and, clearly wasn't planning to come to class. hmmmm--- sometimes folks don't learn.

Also -- turns out that A took off over break to go to Sam's club... (i.e. out to inconvenient parking situation, down the highway, buy stuff at Sam's and come back)... like the tutor wouldn't notice her 30 minute break.

no -- darlin' I don't think you're going to pass this time around either.

Maybe you should take it from someone else--- oh, no --- that wouldn't be a good idea -- as I'm probably the most lenient (I prefer 'flexible') one teaching it... With anybody else you'd have to really change your ways... oh, wait -- you should do that for me too.

Two weeks from today, the whole shebang will be OVER -- and I'll be a happy, happy girl.

between now and then, I think I'll bitch about my students for a bit -- I hope you don't mind.

I'm suddenly popular with the felines...

Both the Queen and the Minion have been hanging out close to me today...

I'm not sure why. Their food, water and box situations are fine -- so, they don't want anything.

I think they miss Hubby -- who left two weeks ago...

It's hard to tell them that his nerd-camp has another week, then he'll come home to us...

but, at least I can tell myself that -- and, that I'll get to see him day after tomorrow!!!!!! YEA!!!!!!!

this time last year..

Well, technically Friday --

I started chemo.

I hadn't lost my hair.

I hadn't been to the ER three times in 6 weeks.

I didn't have my beloved CPAP machine.

I think instead of 'celebrating' at the cancer clinic, Hubby and I will meet in NYC... sound like a better option??

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

What a day...

Early -- cats woke me up. I decided to put on coffee and grade.

Realized that grading is sometimes better when you're not quite awake -- and I finished grading before 9 AM.

9:30 - 11:45 -- routine poking and prodding at the hospital. I now have proof that I have a heart, no matter what my students say. I also have an MRI of my brain from last summer, so I have proof of that too...

11:45 - 1:00 Drove back to my neighborhood, lunch at McD's, a trip to Office Max and then a maintenance appointment at the cancer clinic.

1:00 - 2:00 Got vital supplies at PetSmart - and realized they aren't stocking the trays for my automatic cat box -- at least until August... grrr!

2:00 - 4:00, spa time. It was wonderful -- waxed, mani-pedi and then a really good conversation waiting for toes to dry. We traded cards -- it's amazing who you can meet sitting in a spa with a good book.

Tonight -- tested breadmaker and remembered that it doesn't work... it smells great but the loaf is a complete disaster. I suppose that gives me the no-calorie benefit of smelling the good bread, but dang...

Now -- going to bed. "My Sister's Keeper" was a good movie -- but a great book. For the record, there are pretty significant differences between the two -- and I intend to ask my students questions on their final to figure out who just went to the movie.... heee hee... I'm only doing that to make grading fun. I suppose that makes me evil, but so what?

Sometimes teaching scares me...

... like, one student -- I'll call hir K---

K is actually a 'reverse transfer' student.. i.e. K is taking logic at BNCC because they need it for a four-year professional program at a neighboring university.

This profession requires sequential thinking and discipline.

K is not able to do simple proofs.

Worse, K seems to think hi CAN do them --

Also, K keeps trying to game the system to see how much hi can get away with -- i.e. how little work hi can do to pass the class.

The professional program results in professionals who are responsible for things like public safety. They are put in situations in which they need to exercise personal restraint -- discretion an precision in paperwork.

I have serious doubts that K will be able to do that... and, if K manages to pass my class, hi will be on the street...

of course, the good news is that I can probably use terrible arguments to get out of a ticket with K... I'll have to remember hir face....

Monday, July 13, 2009

Today and tomorrow...

Today is teach-a-thon...
  • Writing syllabi for fall (my goal is to have them done and sent off to be copied by the time I finish summer teaching!!).
  • Teaching the first part of applied ethics in bioethics, namely the Autonomy/Paternalism bit...
  • Collect the first Bioethics papers...
  • Exam review and then giving an exam in logic.
Tomorrow is me-a-thon...
  • Morning is routine medical appointments --- testing required for my clinical trial and then a port flush.
  • Afternoon is mani-pedi and waxing... then home to let my fingers and toes dry on the deck while I grade papers.
By Wednesday I'll be all spa'd up and have a whole bunch of stuff to hand back to my students!!

Thursday I teach a bit and then pack for NYC!!!!!!!!!!

The flowers are disappearing...

.. but I'm not telling who did it...

because, it's a young buck --

Last night as I went to bed, I looked out the window and saw a young male deer eating the flowers our apartment complex has lining the driveway.

He had the beginnings of antlers and a pretty soulful look on his face. I'm sure he lives on what used to be the golf course behind our apartment complex.... and, as far as I'm concerned, he can eat all the flowers he wants. I'm not telling the apartment management people on him.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Well, that was fun -- in the woods!!

Last summer I had plans to go to a girlfriend's cabin in the woods.... chemo and other crap got in the way.

She and I get along well -- and have a lot in common, but we've never done something like that before -- so, it could have been horrific --

but -- it was great!!

K and I are good travel companions --- and I really hope we'll be able to travel together more often.

Her place is soothing and comfortable. The woods are beautiful and the company was good. We laughed, cried a bit and formed a really good friendship!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Keep up folks!!

When I say the exam will close at 1 AM on July 10, that DOES NOT mean 1 AM on July 11....

Do I need to explain it to you like this...

You go out drinking for your birthday -- you turn 21 on July 10 --so, you do the 'power hour' from midnight to 1 AM on your birthday. The exam closes like the bar closes at 1 AM...

Don't argue with me because you can't friggin tell time.

Fooling the Felines...

Today I'm headed into the woods for a couple of days of girl talk in the trees.

I'll be back on Sunday and all the activities we have planned can be accomplished in shorts or a swimsuit -- SO... packing was easy.

As I started the packing behaviors, the Queen sat on my suitcase --- but, I didn't need my suitcase, so I fooled her -- maybe.

I may not have fooled her, as I got out the bag for my CPAP machine -- hmmmm.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Could I place ads like this for my classes...

An honest help wanted ad...

Really, if you don't have Criggo on your blogroll -- fix that error immediately. The whole blog is simply posting stuff from the newspaper... and it's all funny!

The differences between me and my students...

I work my backside off before the class and during the week...

So far nobody has had to wait more than about 24 hours for a grade.

So far, I've spent more time and attention on their drafts than they have.

BUT -- this weekend, things are changing.

Today Bioethics students are doing their midterm, and figuring out they should have looked at the questions and asked me about them when they had the chance... mwhhahahah.

Bioethics students are doing revisions -- and they ALL have a lot to do.

Logic students have figured out that they should have been doing more homework and that their exam on Monday is going to be tough.

This weekend I'm going to the woods with a girlfriend --- one who gets it, as she also teaches at BNCC.

Next week I'll have a pile of logic exams to grade, the Biomedical ethics exams to grade AND a pile of papers to grade -- but, all that will be done by Thursday, 'cuz I'm going to THE CITY a week from tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Liveblogging the morning... Dear:

  • Minion, you aren't helpful. I'm trying to work, your goal is to get more affection. Wasn't "snuggling" all night enough? go take a nap or chase a paperclip around the livingroom. love, mom cat
  • triple-spacing student. Umm... you think I won't notice the big font and the triple spacing? You'd notice if just a little bit of your pot had been poached by your buddy, because you use it every day. As a proffie, I look at double spaced stuff every day -- you didn't fool me. Your supposedly 5 page draft wasn't sufficient.
  • media -- please stop talking about MJ. thx bye
  • airhead student -- the premise of that essay question occupied about 30 mintues of classtime, and I'm pretty sure you were there. What were you doing, poaching pot from your triple-spacing buddy?
  • 'miss thing' -- I have the paper topic assignment procedure for a reason. If you wanted to write on topic X, why did you say you wanted to write on Y??? Do you lead the rest of your life this way?? If so, the good work you're doing may not turn out that way...
  • 'confused' -- you selected a topic, then you wrote a paper about three different topics. The sad bit is that you don't even realize it -- take a good look at the paper and don't even begin to wonder why your grade wasn't that great.
and-- one for the evening...
  • Negative Nancy: Really, if I hear "I don't get it" one more time... did you even TRY to do the homework -- or just have a little temper-tantrum in frustration? Please, God -- don't be going into anything related to medicine, I wouldn't want you to have a temper tantrum when you are supposed to be saving my life.
  • Russian: God love you -- and I finally understand you... you're trying. You may not make it, but you're getting in the swing of things. When you told me your current profession, it made so much sense -- I worked in a parallel field for years -- I knew you felt familiar. Now we can relate - you and I.

No, I didn't watch it...

... the MJ spectacle, that is.

The audio clip of his daughter was sad --

and the rest of it seemed to be people who either used him, kept him a child or wanted to pretend that he was normal.

plus -- I was just flat out busy... but, I got stuff done.
  • Chapter 4 is in percolation, I'll begin chapter 5 today
  • I rearranged the kitchen -- which was kind of a hassle, but it looks great!!
  • I read 21ish biomedical ethics drafts -- and decided there is no way I'm reading drafts for 100 ethics students in the fall... just, no way. It was probably good that I read this pile of drafts when I'm working on my ethics syllabus.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Adunct Advice...

.. folks, if you like to teach, if you are willing to sacrifice financial and job security to follow your calling -- you should also be prepared to sit down and shut up.

Another adjunct has been fired for being critical to administration...

It's sad but true. I've been there.

As an adjunct I've had craptastic deans who didn't know anything -- and who implemented asinine policies like doing class evaluations at mid-term -- probably so that they could fire the folks with low evaluations in time to replace them for the next semester... This same dean was too disorganized to call me after a phone interview to tell me I had a job -- it was only after a timid, 'sorry I didn't get the job, do you have suggestions for my next interview' e-mail that she roaring back at me demanding to know why I hadn't committed to a schedule.

I had more than one department chair who both expected extensive office hours AND didn't want to actually provide anything close to an office. One of them reportedly said, 'they're just adjuncts, they don't deserve an office' -- when there were several unoccupied offices in the suite. This same person expected me to share an office with an adjunct who, no more than 3 years earlier, as my instructor, said I was in a 'cult' -- I complained to him directly... so he can't say he didn't know.

I had a tenured person with extraordinarily offensive and explicit political bumper stickers on his door -- and on things he brought into the classroom.... I also followed (in a classroom schedule) another tenured person whose 'critical thinking' class was 100% ranting against Bush -- of course, I only knew that because he couldn't be bothered to erase the board.

In all of those situations I kept my mouth shut because I knew I could be not-rehired for any reason - or for no reason at all... so I sure as hell wasn't going to stick my head up and ask to be fired.

What's really sad about all of this is the increase in adjunct labor -- which brings with it a corresponding decrease in the number of voices objecting to truely objectionable actions by administration.

As a tenured person -- and as a department chair -- I think it's my duty to act as a buffer for my adjuncts. I have no real power, but -- I have a position that gives me a little bit of a say in how things are run and a bit more of a position from which to engineer needed changes. All of you who are tenured should do the same for the adjuncts in your area...

As an adjunct -- keep your head down, teach your students and make friends with the admin people on your campus. They hold a lot more power than you'll ever see -- and can save you from numerous problems... just because you've got a few degrees doesn't mean anything. You and I both know the department secretary earns 3-4 times what you do... and s/he knows were all the bodies are buried. In many ways, the admin people in the department are the only ones worth their salaries...

Monday, July 06, 2009

Dear Cats,

4:45 AM is a time most humans like to sleep. I know you sleep all day -- I, on the other hand, work to pay your rent and buy your cat food.

Today, in particular, I'll work until 9:30 at night. This is why I get irritated when you fight on, under and around my bed.

I've been very good about not waking you up during the 22 hours a day you sleep. Could you please let me sleep for 6 or 8 hours?

your sugar-mama

Sunday, July 05, 2009

A much better way to spend the summer...

Seeing "My Sister's Keeper" yesterday was a strong reminder of last summer -- and how things could have been much worse.

Really (knock on the biggest piece of wood around), I got off easy -- but, to say last summer was my worst summer ever would be about right.

By comparison --

Instead of spending a week or so in lumpectomy/mastectomy/hospital crap --- with Hubby and Mom tending me -- I spent the week with Mom playing, swimming and generally beaching it up.

In a couple of weeks, instead of starting chemo, I'll be on the way to NYC for a quick weekend with Hubby. I'm sure he and mom would rather be in NYC /Florida than in the ER with me... as that weekend is also the anniversary of 'weird seizure' /Sleep Apnea diagnosis. Yes, Hubby, I'll lug the CPAP to New York, don't worry.

It's good to plan not to sleep -- rather than have them actually not sleep because they're afraid I'll stop breathing again. Then again, if we aren't sleeping -- why bring the CPAP?? (JK honey, I just wrote that to hear your head explode... :).

Sometime in early August, I should get a haircut -- to commemorate the weekend my hair fell out. I might actually need one by then!

As it is, I'd much rather spend my summer this way -- a bit of travel, a lot of dissertation writing, teaching two classes and hanging out with the cats while Hubby is in New York state for his thing...

Oh good, there's the noon whistle (yea, my weird suburb still has one) -- soon the porch will be shady and cool -- so I can go back out there.

At loose ends....

I have plenty of work to do -- but, I'm having a hard time getting started on any of it.

The plan for today is more class prep -- if I can get the rest of the summer session prepped out, then all I have to do is press "start" and do the discussions... which will be handy, since I'll be out of town a lot in the next few weeks.

The trouble is that weekend radio and TV aren't all that good -- especially on a holiday weekend. I like to have some program to kind of keep me company, but NPR is repeats from yesterday... and my DVR is nearly empty --- since I've seen most of the older "Bones" episodes.... sigh.

I think I'll prep for a while, then maybe do lunch and nap --- then do the computer part of prep on the porch in the late afternoon, when I can see the screen (i.e. the porch isn't sunny!). I've been reading so much Donna Leon, (mysteries set in Venice) that I seem to be adopting their long-lunch work schedule... hmmm.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Another day on the porch..

It seems that I can't do class prep inside -- so, here I am.

It's a holiday, so the people watching should be fun. My porch faces the trailerpark nextdoor, so the random fireworks "shows" should accelerate.

So far one of my neighbors seemed to invite his whole trailer-park family over -- only to immediately dispatch most of them to the pool. I'm glad I saw that, as I don't want to go over there until they come back...

I just saw the 'I'm a white, suburban, teenaged boy who wants to dress like a 'gangsta' ' dude. Really, dude, do you have to have your sag so low that I'm afraid of looking at you for fear that I'll be looking when your pants hit your shoes??

Bills I'm happy to pay...

Dish TV -- better service, better equipment, we control the equipment and -- for the next 6 months, MUCH less than we've been paying for Direct TV... plus, when I had a problem with their stuff this morning (yes -- July 4 at 7 AM) -- I got someone who was both able to communicate with me and who was efficient at fixing the problem.

The radiologist who read my 'normal' mammogram -- $6.36 to be told my remaining boob was cancer free--- really, priceless -- but, better for under $7.00.

The cancer clinic for my checkup -- which is only necessary when I'm NOT on chemo. $27.00 to see my oncologist... not bad.

Various vendors at the Farmer's Market --$24.00 for a heavy bag full of veggies, bread and hummus...

and -- although hubby paid this one --- the cost of his new glasses. Although he needed them, the best part was that a student I had last fall (when I was bald) - -didn't recognize me with my hair!!!

Friday, July 03, 2009

double bad luck??

So -- internets -- a purely hypothetical question...

What happens if your black cat breaks a mirror?
Does it help that his catly companion/supervisor/mentor in evil doesn't approve?

and -- hubby, no, he actually DIDN'T break a mirror, but I put it in our bathroom for safekeeping just in case the internets tell me it's really bad luck...

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

One more little separation...

Hubby's on the way to what I've been calling ' {discipline} nerd sleep-away camp' -- held at a prestigious east coast uni.

He's driving and left in my car just now -- with all the comforts of home, to make his dorm room easier to live in. Packing him up was a lot like packing a kid to go to camp, without having to sew name tags in the back of his shorts :).

The cats and I will miss him.

It will be quiet around our little place again -- but, it's not the same as a trip to Red State.

This year Red State was stressful, camp will be fun. He's also seeing some fun stuff along the way, thus his decision to leave earlier than necessary. I only wish I could drive out with him -- but, summer school = fall bills paid, and I'm in the second week of classes.

I don't have the 'how the heck are we going to live together forever' question at the back of my mind.

and -- I get to visit him in a couple of weeks, and see a city I've never been to... a really big city...

So -- his going isn't nearly as traumatic as others.

I'm going to take a short nap before class...