Sunday, August 30, 2009

What's cooking??

I have aspirations concerning cooking...

I'd like to have a semi-orderly life in which I cook stuff on Sunday and eat leftovers for a couple of days a week, at least.

The image is actually of Hubby and I cooking together -- but today he's gone out, so it's me. Instead of Hubby to keep me company, I'll watch season 2 of 30 Rock -- and I'll try not to feel too much like Liz Lemon.

I'm going to try three recipes, Chili's salsa, Red Lobster's cheddar bay biscuits and Red Lobster's clam chowder. I'm also going to make some chicken pasta salad from leftover pasta and part of a cooked chicken I bought at the grocery store. The rest of the chicken will be in the fridge for salads...

I'll let you know how the stuff turns out :).

Out with the old... updated with photos

Out with the old chair...
In with the new... Super Mom, I suspect you'll have some company in your chair :).

New rules for buying books...

I've bought exactly three books recently --

One was an inexpensive paperback, just because I wanted it. It was a quick read by one of my favorite authors... I couldn't resist.

Otherwise, I've decided that books need to fall into the 'non-disposable' category.

That means things like cookbooks and professional books get to come home for good. They're books that I'll use and refer to after I've read them. If the book is just a "for fun" book -- it has to come from the library -- or be borrowed :).

So -- I've added two permanent books to the household recently -- a cookbook, and a book of recent essays about the ethics of war... So, food and dissertation materials can stay :).

What are your rules, if any, about bringing books into your home??

Out with the old...

the old couch and chair, that is.

At the Queen's last lily-related vet appointment (blood work, all normal!!), we mentioned that we had a couch and chair that we were giving away for free.

Turns out the vet's son works with him --and just got a new apartment but had no furniture. They came to get it yesterday. It was fun seeing the vet in another context -- and meeting his wife.

So -- the vet saves the Queen's life -- then takes our old furniture the next.... ya gotta love it.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Sometimes I wonder...

... if we have anything to complain about concerning our students.

I had a meeting with super dean -- the routine kind. She's smart and easy to work with, so no troubles -- but, we were discussing a part-time instructor.

We hadn't seen the instructor at Doom days. The instructor hadn't picked up their keys.

Super Dean decided to call and check in with the instructor -- to be sure they were planning to teach their Saturday class.

It's a good thing, because the instructor didn't realize that class started THIS Saturday. Somehow, they thought class started the Saturday of Labor Day weekend....

Really, I have to wonder -- and, I wonder how that first class is going to go? She finally contacted the instructor on Friday night.

Friday, August 28, 2009

RBO -- the week

  • Some asshat has parked his truck on the NEW landscaping, twice. Both times it was early -- so it wasn't a desperation park.
  • I won't sign add slips for students who miss the whole first week of class -- yep, that makes me a bitch. I used to do it and the students who added were always 10 times more work -- I don't want to deal with them.
  • I got my first real haircut in over a year last night -- YEA!!!!
  • Today we're going to the State Fair -- the local mecca of tacky dressing, food that's bad for you and people sculpted in butter.
  • The last time I had my tennis shoes on was NYC... from NYC to the state fair, I do kind of live a diverse life...

Time to day "NO"!!!

No, I won't sign add slips.

If they haven't been in class, or bothered to come for a syllabus etc... they don't get added to the class.

Somehow they think my signature is automatic...

and I usually have to tell them two or three times before they understand.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Sometimes I think I shouldn't ask these questions...

.. but, about 38% of my students answered "true" to "attending every class is sufficient to pass the class".

Either they don't understand the term "sufficient" OR they think just coming to class = passing...


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

One thing I think I do right...

... on the first day of class ---

I'm up front about annoying student behaviors -- For me, it's "get up 20 minutes before the end of class and leave because I'm too frigging important to sit here any longer" -- and lying. I tell them this right away, before anybody does it.

The other side of this is that I let them tell me what bothers them about their classmates -- For the most part their complaints are the same -- compulsive texting, pen clicking and side conversations. We also have the discussion about food (my suggestion, nothing smelly or loud) and personal smells -- both perfumish and biological...

We do it on the first day so nobody gets offended or feels singled out -- and, for the most part it works. I don't have much of a problem with those things... probably because the students bring it up themselves.

I'm pretty sure I got the idea from one of my wise female friends at BNCC (Julie, or Kris -- maybe??) -- but, like most good ideas I've now decided it was my own :).

Last night we watched a Judge Judy excerpt from You Tube as an example of an argument in Logic... that was fun, and they didn't expect it :).

Today is 'day two' for Ethics and Intro -- it should be interesting to see what they're thinking.

This morning my wonder-cleaner comes... got to do the last minute pick-up before the cleaning person...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

And maybe today I'll avoid...

... saying "I couldn't really be a prostitute, I've only got one boob -- so, the mastectomy might have been a bad career move"...

yea --- It's a good thing nobody is live blogging my 6:00 Ethics class....

So -- it's started....

... the Fall semester, that is.

The good news is that I have a lot more hair than last Fall -- of course, it isn't hard to have more hair than BALD. Also, two clean PET scans helps a bunch -- and being done with Chemo and not dizzy /able to drive... yea, a lot better!!

There isn't really much bad news -- except Monday is a teach-a-thon day. I teach 2:15-3:30, 4:00- 5:15 and 6:00-8:50.... two Ethics classes and an Intro to Phil class--- so, I see 150 students in that time frame.

I kind of feel sorry for my 6:00 class, because I'm going to ask them often if I've mentioned ____________, at least until we get to the material we haven't covered in the 4:00 ethics class.

I have a few students who are in more than one of my classes this semester -- we'll see how that goes -- but, I think it will be fine. I have several students from prior semesters, which is much more fun, as they're like old friends who already get me :).

I have one "repeater" -- who was a challenge the first time around. He has a physical disability and last time around he sent a pretty aggressive e-mail about in-class procedures, but this time around I think we'll be able to skip it :) -- now, if he'll only do the assignments we'll be in good shape :).

Today is a long on-campus day with only two classes -- 11:00-12:15 (which means if I'm going to get a parking spot I'd better get my butt in gear), and a 6:00 section of Logic. Tonight I'll have my Super-Tutor -- which makes me smile... she's smart, patient, reliable and has a good sense of humor... all of which are necessary to get along with me.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Lessons from IKEA....

Our new couch requires assembly -- lots of assembly.

It came in two big boxes....

IF you are assembling the couch, the instructions for the whole thing will be in the package with the slipcover. This seems to make sense only to native Sweeds...

You WILL learn to read pictographs... or sit on the floor.

Charging the cordless drill is essential to success.

A really cool couch CAN come in two big boxes.

Quick guessing game...

What do the following have in common --

1) Our king sized mattress
2) My dressers
3) My grandmother's china cabinet
4) The cat tree...

hints -- while the cats rule them all, that isn't the answer.

Also, it isn't kinky.... I promise...

So- what do they have in common?

and Hubby -- you can't answer!!!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A trip to the grocery store...

... turned into a trip to shop for couches.

Hubby suggested IKEA (much to my shock and delight)-- where we found the perfect couch for us.

It will be delivered tomorrow.... and will be much more comfortable for Super Mom to sleep on..

Hubby and I even managed to move the other furniture out by ourselves -- now it's in the garage -- I hope someone will steal it!

Local folks -- if you want a denim couch and/or chair w/ ottoman -- let me know... all you need to do is come get it.

Another thing I don't get...

Hours-long flight delays sitting on the tarmac...

I know the airline uses federal regulations as an excuse.

I know that airports are busy etc..

but -- I also know that it isn't impossible to get people off of an airplane, even if there aren't gates available (and, they can be made available -- if nothing is moving, they can pull a plane back, let people off, and put the original one back in place -- it would take 15 minutes...).

I'm sure there is some set of BS reasons -- a combination of how fees and "on time" departure is calculated.... but, it's simply irresponsible to hold people that long.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Lilies and Irises are Toxic to Cats!!

... the title was just for the benefit of Google-folks...

The good news is that The Queen is officially OK.

All of her values are well into the "normal" range.

She's spunky and got grouchy when the vet tech tried to get blood.... she tried to get into the apartment complex hall this morning and tried to escape the examination room.

in short, she's back to her old self.

Today the vet flat-out said that I saved her life by taking her in so quickly....

I'm just relieved that the lilies didn't kill her. When she'll forgive Hubby and me is another question...

Some things don't change....

Doom day #3 -- report:

The first two days were pretty good. We weren't trapped and forced to listen to an endless string of BNCC bureaucrats "tell" us the same stuff. We skipped the introductions of the "new" staff -- i.e. those hired since last August -- and they went light on the attempts to treat staff and faculty the same... It's always amusing to hear our college president talk, and he did most of it...

On day 1 we actually went to breakout sessions focused on four college initiatives -- they were run by administrators and faculty who are just starting the process, and the purpose was to get input. Even if, as I suspect, the call for "input" was a sham -- at least they had the sense to pretend it was a sham.

Day 2 was conference-style -- with a keynote (probably highly paid) who told us stuff we already knew and/or that didn't apply to our context... so, like most years. I spent the morning session with Kalia Yang - and the afternoon learning about the new technology in my classroom -- I only went because they were holding it IN my classroom... and there had been no notice of equipment changes, so I wanted to see what they did :).

Day 3 -- was just about back to the old style... Same folks, with the same axes to grind -- An administrator who doesn't understand how long 20 minutes is -- so he spent at least 15 minutes on the details of a facility most of us don't work in -- 4 minutes on the parking lot and about 5 minutes on the massive renovation going on in the building we were sitting in... most of which were not so direct warnings/threats about noise complaints...

After that -- we had our faculty union meeting -- and, although I really like our new union president -- the rest was the same old stuff... from the same people... and one thing that deserves it's own post / rant.

The nice thing was that, at 11:00 -- I was done!!

Volunteering for stuff...

... darn it, Doom Days always makes me volunteer to do things.

This year I'm already on our common book committee. The Late Homecomer is an amazing book. The author is our writer in residence this year -- I've already seen her speak twice and both times were really amazing. Go here and here for videos of Kalia.

The common book committee is also the campus conference committee -- so I'll be doing that stuff as well. I don't know how much work either will be, but one of my pals is the chair of both and could use my help.

I also just volunteered to work on a project instigated by my college president. He's a very cool person who has a ton of teaching experience -- including teaching ethics :) -- so we get along. He's proposing developing a system by which faculty will perform advising -- and be paid extra to do so...

In the early 70s or so, our union chose an 8% pay raise, a 5/5 load and no advising duties over a 3% pay raise, a 4/4 load and no advising. We've been doing that ever since. I don't think it's a good idea for our students -- who needs a teaching-faculty advisor more than a community college student in 'I don't know what I want to do, so I'm just taking my generals' studies??

So, this morning, in a moment of weakness, I sent an e-mail to the folks organizing this little venture...

Maybe I need one of those programs that prevents drunken e-mails... but, mine needs to be set so that I can't send the e-mail before 7 AM :).

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cooking advice from mom...

A few years ago (maybe more like 10-15... but to admit that I'd have to admit I'm old..), I called mom to ask for some cooking advice.

Me: Hi -- say, how long should I boil corn on the cob?
Mom: until it smells like corn.

yes -- it's corn season here in BNstate. As I type, I'm waiting for the pot to smell like corn.

On catly intuition...

The Queen is officially "fine". She's had two consecutive clean blood tests. She's getting back to her own sassy self and she's catching up on her sleep.

The thing is, I'm continually thankful that I made the connection between the lilies and her getting sick. She isn't a cat who pukes (we haven't had much use for the spot bot since extra-toes died), so that was a clue. On the other hand, I've been known to write a couple of small puke spots off as an upset tummy and do nothing about it.

From what I can gather, if I'd done that -- and if Hubby had agreed -- she'd probably be dead of kidney failure now -- instead of taking up her normal spot immediately in front of the TV.

The vet said that my quick action (and a bunch of cash for the Emergency vet) saved her life. He told us that the only other case he's seen of cat v lilly ended badly -- because the owner waited a couple of days before bringing the cat in. At that point, the only possible treatment was a kidney transplant -- and they just don't do those for cats.

Again -- I can't say enough for my vet -- locals should go to the Silver Lake Animal hospital -- the vet is amazing, smart, intuitive and good with both people and pets. He also has a fantastic set of vet techs -- and they work well as a team.

Call it divine intervention, or catly intuition - -or just dumb luck -- I'm glad we decided to act quickly. With any luck (and an absence of flowers) she'll live to be an old cranky, disapproving kitty... just as we like her!

Full ---

--- BNCC enrollment is up 13% -- we're very close to 10,000 FTE (full-time equivalent) -- in three modestly sized buildings.

---The whole philosophy department has about 15 seats open -- most of them in the Saturday logic course.

-- I'll have 240 students in 5 sections. No TA, but I will have a tutor for my one logic class. She can't grade, but she can meet with students.

It should be an interesting semester.... I'm not so sure I'm ready for it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

You want to know how my first doom day went...

Click now and save the link -- because it may go poof later... a really, really anonymous but very funny and accurate blogger works at BNCC.... and captured doom days....

Of course, the big question is who is this blogger??

One of my primary suspects is off campus all year... so I need to think about it again.

Doom days


On Profgrrrl's faculty retreat scorecard...

"Doom Days" deserve their name... and start today.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

"Normal" all around...

I had a PET scan last week -- got the results today -- "Normal", YEA!!!!

The Queen had a blood test today -- her kidney levels are "Normal", we can go get her in a couple of hours -- YEA!!!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Cats and education...

I know the Queen can get her diploma -- but, it's still an open question about the Minion...

It's a darned good thing I taught this summer...

... 'cuz some lilies may use up a chunk of that money...

I didn't know lilies were toxic to cats.

I put some on the table -- the next day the Queen yaked... she isn't a yacker.

A quick google search on "flowers poisonous to cats" came up with a strongly worded warning about lilies -- and we were off to the emergency vet for some blood work and IV fluids.

That was Sunday -- and a bunch of money -- it seems that even a small amount of contact can start kidney failure in cats.

We got her out of the emergency vet this morning and took her to our regular vet.

He did more blood work today and one of her kidney numbers was a concern... so, more fluids and another test tomorrow.

The really sweet thing is that the vet is taking her home with him tonight to do more fluids -- as 48 hours of increased fluids seems to be the key.

I don't even want to know how much 'goes home with the vet' costs -- really....

I just want her home. The Minion misses her and the house is way, way, way too quiet without her interaction/disapproval..

Sunday, August 16, 2009

I did it in the wrong order...

... my education, that is -- at least according to a crackead in NYC...

I wonder where law school fits in? Someone needs to tell Hubby he got the sequence wrong too... 'cuz I'm not gonna do it.

Some people will pay for anything...

Including severe weather tourism...

I suppose if these tour companies can get folks to pay to chase tornadoes and hurricanes, it's ok with me...

I do wonder how much they'd have paid to be in our bedroom last night to see the thunderstorms roll in?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Professor's prayer --

with the apartment dweller's ps...

Dear Lord,

As the first day of class approaches, please grant me the patience to tolerate the students who are accidentally stupid, the strength to discipline the intentionally stupid/lazy/rude etc... and the wisdom to tell the difference.

Also-- please God, don't put any of those college age new neighbors across the hall be in my classes.


RBO -- all kinds of shopping...

  • The Farmer's Market is contact shopping -- with hippies. Why, if you are old and slow, do you have to go??
  • Why don't 16-24 year old boys wear pants that fit? Really, I don't want to see your nasty boxers when I'm trying to buy a season of Eureka at Best Buy.
  • Hubby came to the Farmer's Market with me this morning -- so, he then had to go to Best Buy to shake off the 'hot, sweaty, crowded & old' cooties.
  • Why can't Petsmart have cat grass in stock??
  • If you're old -- as in, dottering, probably shouldn't drive and Cub foods scares you -- why go to the store on Saturday morning with the screaming kids and screaming mothers?
I've kind of had it with people for the day -- time to hibernate.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Doom Days..., I mean "Duty Days" -

are next week.

A reminder of that sad fact came in e-mail yesterday and hard copy today.

I'm not ready -- really, not ready. Can't I have a couple more weeks of dissertating, swimming and reading for fun?

If one of you has a magic wand, I have a request... it's small, but important -- just change the start dates around a bit...

Monday, have Hubby start law school orientation.

The Tuesday after Labor Day -- have me start Doom Day #1..

um Kay?


We spent the morning getting better internet service -- it will be connected next week.

While we're at it, we're turning off the home phone. We realized that we rarely use it, and people who have our home number also have our cell phones... so there's no reason to keep the land line.

So, YEA!!!!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

My computer makes a nice noise...

... it's kind of a boinging noise.

It happens when I move a file from the desktop to a folder.

This time, the boing was to celebrate chapter 5 going into final percolation.

Now -- each will get one more go over and then Dr. Advisor gets it...

After Dr. Advisor gets it, I'll spend several months revising --then... maybe... I'll get to defend.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Bang ---

-- another chapter in final percolation!

Some sad things are still funny...

... like a woman bitten by otters.

Seriously, who gets attacked by otters?

It's sad that she has to get rabies shots -- and weird that she got bitten by three...

but, otters?

Monday, August 10, 2009

bye by Vienna...

... the reader, not the city (sadly).

I'm tired of the way it won't let me comment on some blogs, so I have to go to Firefox to leave a comment.

I'm tired of it being slow and clunky to use.

I'm tired of it not being portable...

I'm probably the last person on the planet using it -- and I've now defected to Google reader.

Yea-- I know I'm supposed to be working on chapter 4 today -- there's plenty of time for that stuff...

Sunday, August 09, 2009

New, quick and easy meal...

40 garlic chicken..

clean chicken breasts, salt and pepper..
heat oil in large skillet, medium-high (enough to cover bottom and brown chicken and garlic cloves)
brown chicken and 40 garlic cloves -- at least 2-3 minutes per side..
combine 1/2 c white wine, 1/2 cup chicken broth, basil, oregano and lemon juice
pour over chicken and cook until chicken is done (covered) 6-8 minutes
combine 4 tsp flour with 1 Tbs white wine
remove chicken and garlic from pan
use flour/wine mix to thicken sauce
pour sauce over chicken and serve...

My grocery store has bottles of whole garlic cloves for under $3.00 -- about what the regular ones cost -- and, they've been peeled etc... one bottle is enough.

We're having it with oven roasted little potatoes...


So easy even I can do it. Very yummy

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Hint for students...

... when you e-mail your professor, check your e-mail for replies.

We're smart enough to hit "reply" -- answer your question and move on with our lives.

DO NOT -- EVER, Freaking, EVER, EVER, EEEEVVVVVEEEEERRRRR imply that we haven't answered or ask about our answer unless you've checked your frigging in-box first.

and don't even think about sending an e-mail from another account asking for the same information -- then -- don't think about whining in that and subsequent e-mails about not getting an answer to the first one you wrote. And for goodness sakes, don't be rude and demand that I do the stuff on your calendar. FYI -- I have until the 15th to submit ANY grade for your course (I read my e-mails, the registrar says I have until then.. .so ha!). I really don't care that you have to turn your grade into your employer -- they won't care that it's a B instead of an A -- all they care is that you passed.... dumb-ass.

The last e-mail was a double dumb-ass move and I'm really thinking about not changing your grade-- I was kind and said I'd bump you up when I got back on campus. I could not -- don't push it.

A good thing about being Mormon (LDS)...

First of all, I should say that I'm not an active member of the LDS church, although I was baptized..

Anyway, Hubby's family is LDS -- and quite active.

The good thing about the church is the experience of going on a mission. My nephew is currently in South Africa. He's a white boy from suburban BNstate -- went to college at BYU, in a state that manages to be even whiter than BNstate. He's a typical 19 year old kid -- who is now seeing some of the worst poverty and living in an area where they have real concerns about their apartment being broken into while they're gone.

Being a misionary is very different from doing a study abroad. He's paired up with South African missionaries and working with families who aren't like him. He'll do it for 18 months. One of his recent converts confessed to him that he used to be a leader of the anti-Mormon group in his hometown... other converts have litte more than the spirit of God in their hearts....but, they share meals with the missionaries.

I really think he'll come home a changed person.... and, while I liked the person who left, I think I'll really like the person who comes home. I think this experience will make his spirit grow -- it will challenge him and reward him like no other year of college experience could. Sure, he'll have the missionary glow about him, but he'll also have seen a very different culture from the inside. Say what you will about the church, or religion in general, I think this is an amazing result -- and I'm all for it.

Friday, August 07, 2009

It's too early in the morning for some things...

... like reading about war crimes trials and genocide.

otherwise -- chapter 3 is pretty darned good... or, it's craptastic and I can't see how craptastic it is.

but -- it looks like Chapter 3 will be done today. I'll also take a look at chapter 4.

I expect that Chapter 4 will need the most work, but Chapter 5 is pretty good.

I've been working on this for so long -- sending it off for comments from Dr. Advisor will be pretty hard... but also a day of much celebration.

For now, the plan is to firm up chapter 4 by the middle of next week, then give each chapter one more day of purely proofreading.

I can do this.

Cutting philosophy...

Philosophy math, Australian style... they say there's a problem...

While I agree that it isn't a good idea to cut philosophy positions, blah, blah, blah...

I'm finding their math less than compelling.

Next year they'll have 4.5 teaching positions -- to cover 12 sections. It was unclear whether or not the number was for the academic year or for a semester. To be generous, I'll assume the semester...

For comparison -- we have 5 teaching positions to cover 25 sections per semester.

The math is less compelling if the 12 sections is over a year -- because we have 5 faculty members teaching 50 sections per year...

The "fact" sheet doesn't include information about grad students... Are there graduate students? Do those graduate students teach? If the answer is 'yes' to the first and 'no' to the second, I have more sympathy -- if only because graduate students demand graduate classes -- which wouldn't be counted in the 12 sections.

Then again, they have two faculty members whose contracts don't require them to teach undergrads at all -- so, they can help with the grad classes, no?

It also doesn't indicate the composition of their philosophy major -- and I do think that other restrictions will hurt their ability to educate undergraduate philosophy majors -- because they are required to offer the same 12 courses every year.

but -- I'm finding their math less than compelling.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Dissertation progress...

I'm supposed to be working on chapter 3 right now....

Chapters 1 & 2 are in their final 'percolation' stage. What remains are chasing down some footnotes and citations for a few empirical details.

I've just read chapter 3 -- and, the problem is that I don't think it's all that bad. This is either because a) it's really not all that bad or b) I can't see what's wrong with it -- but, a fatal flaw is lurking out there.

I have good reason to believe it's a) -- I've actually presented this material and the material is based on the work of others, so it isn't like it is completely original.... like Chapter 2.

but -- for today, I'm taking the afternoon off from writing. If chapter 3 looks pretty good tomorrow, then I'll chase down some details, improve what I see needs it and move on to the next chapter.

The scary (fun kind of scary) is that, while I think chapter 4 is kind of crappy -- chapter 5 is really pretty good (as it should be...).

I might actually make my goal of sending the whole shebang to the ever-patient and brilliant Dr. Advisor before school starts.

I really wouldn't know what to do with myself.... but, I suppose 5 sections/240 students will take care of that.

A defense of PowerPoint...

Let me paint the sort of classroom in which PowerPoint isn't appropriate...
  • The instructor doesn't have multiple sections of the same course.
  • The students are well-prepared and/or at least able to effectively take notes.
  • The class size is under 30.
As you might imagine, this isn't where I teach -- none of it. So, let me tell you why using PowerPoint is more like a survival mechanism.
  • I know that roughly the same material is covered in every section... because the PowerPoint provides a structure for the lecture/discussion. I know that if I got to the end of the slides for the day, my students were exposed to the material and thus I can expect them to know it -- or, at least to be able to ask intelligent questions about it. In my 'pre-PowerPoint' days, with multiple sections I repeated myself more often than was necessary OR I skipped material because I'd recently (as in, the last week/hour) presented it to a different section. This isn't good.
  • My students can use the PowerPoint slides to:
a) structure their notes. They print the slides and then write down the relevant
stuff from the discussion/lecture.
b) structure their reading -- the PowerPoint gives them a brief outline of the
direction of the discussion so they can figure out what is really relevant within the
reading. Philosophy uses readings in multiple ways, especially the canonical
philosophers, so figuring out how a particular reading applies to your course
isn't always easy.
c) recall/study/write exam answers or papers. This way they get it right -- they know
we discussed X concept in class, they can go back to the reading etc..
d) see how I've analyzed other issues -- I keep the old PowerPoints available so that
ethics students writing on a topic not covered in class can get a brief introduction to
a topic we aren't discussing.
e) catch-up or review material discussed in class. I don't use the publisher's slides for
my logic textbook. They move too slowly and some of the information is wrong -- but,
since I used them once, corrected the problems etc... my students who need more
information can use them as a reference.
  • In large classes PowerPoint helps make things clear. Students can see the text more readily than they can read what I've written on the board. The basics are explained so the dumb-asses don't have to waste the whole class' time asking basic questions. I can go back if something I've said later makes an earlier slide confusing. I can also tell them to look at the PowerPoint when the miss class, because I'm not re-teaching them...
So, yea -- if I were teaching at a SLAC -- say on a cushy 3/3 load with 75 or so students per semester--- who can read, write and think at about the same time... I'd probably think PowerPoint was a crutch for a lazy prof... because it isn't needed to teach in that environment.

I also tend not to use PowerPoint in professional contexts -- and, if I do, I only use it to display the main argument in my talk. One to three slides at best -- and they are simple. I agree that PowerPoint isn't useful or helpful in those contexts -- and I can see why members of the military are quite wary of it.

But -- I'll defend it's use in particular teaching environments. It helps me help my students by making the basic points so that we can move on to the more complex ideas.

To the PowerPoint haters...

I know the arguments against PowerPoint-- and, I can see how some people use the tool poorly.

I also know that some people use hammers poorly and for the wrong things, but bloggers and administrators don't object to hammers...

I went to college in a non-PowerPoint time. As an undergraduate we had computers in the lab, but not in the classroom. As a grad student I don't think there was even a ceiling projector in our seminar room, although I could be wrong -- but, I don't recall anybody using it -- ever. I'm not sure any of the rooms even had a whiteboard -- so we didn't even have colors... just chalk and slate.

As a student I had plenty of bad and boring teachers -- NONE of them were able to present their boring stuff using PowerPoint.
  • The sociology prof who couldn't speak English had to write the whole lecture on the board -- in fragments.
  • The religion teacher who called my current religion a 'cult' and refused to stop when I told her I was offended wrote everything on the board.
  • The woman teaching the humanities class on 7 Saturdays who just split up her USED overheads into 7 sections and droned on -- all would have been helped by PowerPoint.

The sociology prof could have let us download his PowerPoints, at least then we'd be able to follow along and he'd have been able to cover the material on the syllabus. Also, we'd be able to read the PowerPoint slides instead of guessing what his handwriting said...

The religion teacher could have included some amusing graphics while she slandered my chosen Christian sect. She also could have put in clips of "Big Love" to complete the insult. I also could have had hard evidence that she'd called us a cult, so I could complain about her beyond the department chair 'Dr. I don't give a hoot'. The religion teacher was an adjunct who richly deserved to be fired... she couldn't even justify the B+ she gave me -- because she lost my final paper -- which had to have been a C---- to 'earn' me a B+ in the course. She still teaches there...

The humanities prof could have saved valuable time by keeping her slides in order -- unlike the way she "lectured" -- not taking questions and often having her used overhead sheets out of order. She could have included images to show us the stuff she's talking about -- rather than just describe it, poorly.

My point is, poor teachers are poor teachers no matter what tools they use. Don't blame PowerPoint for the academy's horrific failure to teach professors how to teach. That makes as much sense as blaming the hammer when I decide to use it to open a bottle of wine...

Wednesday, August 05, 2009


... is the amount my health care bill would have been without insurance.

That's one minor doctor's visit and the follow-up check-ups for last year's cancer.

Most of it was for one PET scan ($5,638.00) --

I can't imagine facing even these significantly smaller bills without health insurance.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Quick updates...

Friend is doing pretty well -- for the most part. When she keeps her forward momentum going, she's in good shape. She had three interviews yesterday and has several more leads/interviews the rest of the week. Keep the good vibes going for her, she can use all the positive energy she can get!.

I'm still processing my visit with S. It was good in that she's still sweet -- and she seems quite happy. It was weird because I haven't talked to my step-mom (it's hard to even type that, since I rarely think of her) as an adult.

It was hard because I had to tell them about my sister's death. That put things on a weird note right away as they processed things. After that, it was good to see that both seem happy and healthy -- stable and settled etc.

It was hard because S's mom was only married a month before her 4th hubby had a massive heart attack which left him with significant brain damage. She's been his caregiver for 9 years. S became a certified home health aid and her job has been being her mom's back-up. It's fantastic that S can be paid for her work and, since she's working for family she can bring her kids to work. It's hard because they seem to have a pretty limited circle -- so, it must be difficult and lonely to live their lives.

I'm thinking about ways to make things easier or better for them. They have their basic needs met -- but, it seems like there is a big gap there that I don't quite understand.

It's weird to see a woman who, if he had lived, might have been married to my dad. My dad's been gone 27 years -- and he was only 48 when he died. So it's hard to imagine what their lives would be like -- or what mine would have been like had he not died.

Monday, August 03, 2009

On life experiences and compassion....

A good friend is having a bit of a crisis -- it's been on and off for a while, but generally she's having both economic and emotional challenges. She's a good person, a great friend and very smart --- she's also unlucky.

What frosts me is that she's had people around her that have no compassion or basic understanding about how life can take a good person and repeatedly poo on them. Between her family and some of her (supposed) friends -- they just aren't any help. So -- she's with me and Hubby... and we'll help her get her poo in a group.

So, today she's off looking for a job. She's cute as hell, smarter than most people I know and she has killer interpersonal and supervisory skills... She also has 3+ interviews scheduled this week.

Send her good vibes -- she only wants what the rest of us want... a decent place to put your stuff, a sweet kitty to cuddle with and a car that works.

and -- if there is any truth to the idea that this is a meritocracy, she'll kick ass in one of these jobs, make a big pile of money and tell her friends and (supposed) friends to kiss her cute backside when they ask her for help..... 'cuz they will.

Old friends and old relatives...

So Saturday I had dinner with three women I hung out with when we were in high school. They all went to a neighboring school -- I met them thanks to my sister.

It was the second time we'd seen one another this summer -- so we were over the 'this is how my life has gone the last 20ish years, so how have you been' phase.

We got down to -- who are you still in contact with?

One of them was in contact with S, whom the others hung out with in high school. For some reason I either didn't know that when we hung out together, or I'd forgotten.

Anyway -- S's mom was married to my dad when he died. S and I are about the same age and were good friends when our parents were married. After Dad died, we didn't see one another very often --- and eventually drifted apart.

So, Saturday night I sent S a facebook friend request -- she confirmed it this morning and we've set up a time to meet...

today, 4:30 -- at her mom's house!!!

Exciting, weird and a little scary all at the same time.

So -- wish me luck!

A combination dream...

I'm sure you've had the following dreams:

1) You're naked someplace public.

2) You're late to something.

In my most recent dream, I was supposed to teach a 6:00 PM Logic class.

At 6:20 I'm sitting topless in my office when I realize I needed to be upstairs 20 minutes ago.

So, I pull on a t-shirt and go upstairs to apologize...

When I get up there, I realize I haven't put my bra on -- and thus have only one boob.

then, thank God, I woke up.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

D's a wanna-be....

So, it turns out that D (the logic student), was applying to a non-academic school in NYC...

I wonder if we'll see her on Project Runway or Top Chef sooner or later.

If so, I'll point at the screen and laugh --

I hope she has to make food for an uber-picky eater -- or clothes for 'real' women... or, gasp, even men or kids....