Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The question of the day...

Am I brave enough to read all 125 pages of my dissertation?

It's printed -- sitting right over there -------------->

can you see it?

I've reached for it several times... but then found other things to do.

I suppose I'm blogging for courage.

ok... go!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Franklin Covey has fallen a long, long way

My on-line interaction with Franklin Covey started with a cool idea -- a new, customized planner for my birthday.

As you can see below -- (my original e-mail is at the bottom), the process was a pain in the behind. When they asked for feedback, I gave it to them. After a week, I got the following e-mail...

Note -- there was no offer of a gift card or any kind of incentive to try them again once they've got their act together. A complaint about service to our local pizza/pasta place got a response that included a $5 gift card. We'll go back to the pizza place -- I'm not likely to go back to Franklin Covey.


their response... the mistakes and poor grammar are in the original.
Hello ITPF,

Thank you for contacting FranklinCovey Catalog Sales.

Regarding your request, We apologize for inconvenience cause to you.

We appreciate the opportunity to respond to your question. If you need any additional assistance, please feel free to respond to this email or log on to our website www.franklinplanner.com.

Thank you,
FranklinCovey Support.
my complaint...
Subject: comments on the custom planner

The planner itself is great and I will enjoy it this year. I doubt I'll order another one because enduring the process to get it probably wasn't worth the trouble.

Over the course of two days, the program lost my dates several times. I didn't put in as many dates as I'd like, simply because I didn't want the program to lose all the dates I already had in there. The program lost other changes several times.

I never had a response from the on-line chat function.

When I decided that I'd had enough, your website was so dysfunctional that I had to finally call to place my order. I'd been trying to complete my order for three days. The order was in my shopping cart, but the website would not let me proceed to input my credit card. While I was waiting, the binder I had in my cart sold out. I had a similar problem with an order for accessories, but I finally got lucky and your website let me pay for that.

When I went to check on my order, it didn't come up and there was no way to check the order until it had been shipped. I also didn't get an e-mail notice that it had been shipped.

This was supposed to be my birthday present to myself, but I'm not sure I'll do it again.

ME -- my address and complete contact information...

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Tonight -- old friends...

Both friends who are old (like me..) and friends from a long time ago....

We've all become reunited via Facebook. One is in town from Alaska, so we decided a girls dinner was in order.

We'll go back to the old neighborhood -- eat, talk, talk and talk...

Saturday, December 26, 2009

One person...

Recently one person in our apartment conplex has...

1) Has failed to move hir car to permit plowing.

2) Has a car alarm that goes off all the time.

3) Has a "service" dog -- which we can hear whining and barking -- especially in the office.

4) Is the most regular of the smokers outside our door.

This person was also my student -- for a while... grrr. Concerning the "service dog" designation, I know for a fact s/he didn't bring the dog to class, while s/he was a student. Also, the dog doesn't wear one of those vests... I really do wonder about the truth of the "service dog" designation. On the other hand, the dog does seem to be pretty well behaved and s/he seems to pick up the poo... so, what's the harm?

I'm just kind of amazed at the number of small irritations one person can produce -- especially considering the fact that the person doesn't live with me.

Today I also helped out another guy from our building -- it's really icy and we were instructed to move our cars. I saw him fall twice trying to cross the icy lot. I went over and insisted he get in the car so I could drive him the 100 or so yards to his car. Trying to get in the car, he fell several more times right in front of my car. I was stuck for a while because I didn't want to take the chance that I might run over him trying to get out and help him-- eventually he got up and into the car on his own...

Really, I'm pretty sure he was either drunk or on a bunch of pain pills. I'm not sure he was fit to drive -- but, he told me he was moving his car back into our lot... so, I suppose it's ok.

and -- it's snowing again... some more.

Christmas report -- and a kind of weird thought....

First of all -- MIL's black boyfriend decided, due to the snow, not to join us for Christmas Eve. I was disappointed -- as I'd have loved to see him and MIL together, almost as much as I'd like to have seen him interact with the patriarch. The patriarch was in fine form -- so I got to practice playing nice one more year...

Christmas day was filled with tradition as well -- Hubby and I hung out in our PJs, I cooked some food and we watched Christmas TV while hoping the Queen and the Minion don't destroy the tree.

Now -- for the weird thought....

Right now I can see a nice, snowy landscape. It's possible that -- by spring, when I look out to see the the swampy bits and abandoned golf course -- I might have defended my dissertation. This could be my last season with my dissertation... wow.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Imagine this completely hypothetical family situation...

Part of your family is quite politically conservative -- think, loves Michele Bachman, GW and the rest -- and thinks that Obama, while probably not a Muslim, isn't a good choice by the country.

You've been part of this family for quite a while and have well-worn groves in your tongue from family holiday dinners. The patriarch of that part of the family is quite accustomed to speaking his mind -- and assumes everyone agrees. You realized long ago that fighting with patriarch isn't worth the effort -- and your sweet spouse makes a game of predicting what patriarch will go on about this time.

New wrinkle -- Your wonderful MIL has met and is smitten with a black man. This black man has (according to MIL) a passion for Obama and is quite the liberal democrat.

Normally family dinners are pretty mello -- this year... maybe not...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Another nice thing about on-line stuff...

I can do a lot of the nitty-gritty class prep in advance.

I now have quizzes for my Ethics course complete.

I have discussion topics for the semester all set up.

I have the sign-up discussion process set up for end of semester presentations...

It's all part of that end of semester wind-down. Instead of feeling that little panic like, 'I feel like I'm missing something' -- I've been getting ready for next semester.

Monday, December 21, 2009

'tis the Winter Solstice...

around here the sun will rise at 7:45 and set at 4:30.

My impulse is to crawl in bed with a cat and a book -- but, I've got things to do.

Today will probably be dissertation in the morning, a bit of Christmas shopping in the afternoon and maybe some class prep tonight as Hubby studies for his last final.

They're predicting snow for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day -- YEA!!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas -- maybe??

Hubby and I got our Christmas present to one another a couple of days ago... Now our normal sofa is more like a long sofa -- but, when we move it all comes apart --who knows what the configuration will be in a few years :).

Of course, getting the monster sofa into our living room required us to get rid of other stuff -- so, we did. Well, we got rid of the storage things -- and got another bookcase.

This set off a flurry of other organizational projects, including sorting out photos and throwing out a lot of bad photos and duplicate photos of cats who are now dead-- all of them (the Queen and the Minion are the first fully digital camera generation of cats...).

Now -- Hubby just put up the Christmas tree and will hang some pictures on the wall above the mega-sofa. I'll decorate the tree with my stock of cat-proof (safe) decorations.

Tomorrow --- he'll study and I'll enter grades, do class prep for next year and maybe even write some dissertation... but, tonight it's stuff on Net Flicks and livingroom projects for us.

Friday, December 18, 2009

End of semester reflections -- in RBOC style...

  • The bullets -- because I'm bushed.
  • I'm loving doing on-line exams.... and I finally decided that the short answer essay format, combined with an objective section, is the best way to go -- for now.
  • Papers and short answer essays for all of my Ethics and Intro students, due during finals week was stupid.
  • The move to on-line stuff was easier than I thought -- the platform is pretty easy to use and the students already know how to use it -- or, they help one another.
  • I have revised my syllabus a bit -- to tighten up deadlines for exams and to account for student mailboxes being full.

Dear Students...

The Queen is reading your papers -- you're in trouble...

The Minion has found the place many of them probably should have landed. He's that kind of odd combination of sweet and evil -- depending on your view on animal rights.

Now you've done it, you said "utilitarianism is the greatest good for the greatest number of people.".... you shouldn't have done that to the Minion's mamma...

Ha ha -- Mom gave me an orange Starburst, and all you got was a D. Sux to be you...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Philosophers can collaborate...

Background -- as a discipline, we've always had a seniority based system for choosing classes. I'm #2, so it's been to my advantage to keep it -- but, there is something problematic -- in that all four of us could be at BNCC for the next 20 years -- and thus, the #4 guy could get the schedule leftovers for 20 years... As it is, there isn't a significant gap between #1 and #4 -- maybe a total of 9 years... so, the #4 has grounds for complaint.

The standard alternative is to rotate who chooses first. This is problematic as the #1 and #2 folks do almost all of the administrivia -- and that isn't going to change, as the college won't adjust. So, then the #1 and #2 do extra work because they're senior. That kind of sucks. As a discipline, we aren't big enough to have our own chair (I'm the humanities department chair), with release time etc... so that alternative isn't good either.

We started discussing this last spring -- and agreed that the next schedule we'd try a collaborative way of making it work. We'd all come in with two first choices for classes. If there was a conflict, we'd resolve it by seniority -- which seemed to make sense and give a bit of help to #1 and #2. Then we took turns choosing classes in a rather random pattern. Mostly folks selected one or two classes at a time -- depending on how the sections worked together. We made some adjustments and cooperated to make it all work out -- and we each ended up with schedules we could live with. We also spent some effort to make sure that our adjuncts could have decent schedules.

This could have been ugly folks -- really ugly. I can say that I'm lucky and blessed to have colleagues who are genuinely interested in the welfare and happiness of the group.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

9 logic exams away from tragedy...

About 10:45

One of the best slackers in Ethics (of, 'can I miss another class to go hunting fame), e-mails in a panic.

The drop box is closed (it closed at 7:00 AM) -- says uber-slacker. Can I still turn in my paper?

Me -- feeling generous, 'sure, if you can get it to me in person by the time I start grading the stack of ethics papers'. That should be in a couple of hours -- as soon as I'm done with logic exams, I'm grading papers.

day goes on -- I finish grading exams and move to logic exams...

Just now -- knock on the door -- Uber-slacker at the door with a paper.

Me, "you were 9 logic exams away from tragedy".

Yea -- maybe I should have let him fail -- but, he's heading there anyway, so I don't think he needs my help. The late penalty is 15%. I think that's enough.

I'm sensing something odd..

... about generation ME.

Somehow it's better to be killed than to be raped. As if living with the significant trauma of a rape is worse than not living at all. I don't get it.

A new twist -- speeding laws are unjustified because the people who speed should be permitted to take chances with their own lives.... but, cigarettes should be completely illegal for second-hand smoke reasons. Ummm... hun?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

On-line teaching -- 0-55 in two semesters...

I'll confess, I haven't always used our on-line course management software.

I had a bunch of excuses -- ranging from the program was unreliable to cancer... and, of all of them only the cancer one was any good.

Last summer I taught a hybrid course --- out of necessity. We had a schedule challenge and the way to resolve it was to do one hour per week on-line. That seemed to be manageable -- and if things went tragically wrong, I could manage it face to face with them.

That first class was very tolerant of my mistakes. When I'd screw something up in a quiz, they'd tell me... when something didn't happen as I told them it would, they'd send me an e-mail. I expressed gratitude at their willingness to be my 'experimental class' -- and they taught me a thing or two about how the system operates on their end.

This semester the classes are face to face, but all of the exams for Intro and Ethics are on-line. Logic had one week of on-line work -- but that was so that the students who were really behind could catch up.

Next semester I have a hybrid class -- because I want to reduce class size for some of the discussions -- so, I'll see all 50 ethics students on Monday, 25 of them on Wednesday and 25 on Friday. They'll do small-group (for us..) discussions on one topic and have another writing prompt in the discussion section of the course management software.

Writing the syllabus for this one was tricky -- oddly enough, the weeks when there is no class on Monday are ok -- because both halves of the class see me equal amounts of time. The tricky part was when there was no class on a Wednesday or Friday. I decided that the discussions that week would be 100% on-line... and there was often another activity, like watching a movie on their own etc. Not a perfect solution, but a fair one.

They're also doing presentations in that class -- and they're doing them to their discussion group, not to the whole group. I decided that was the way to go for practical reasons -- assuming a bit of attrition, we could do four groups of three in pecha kucha style every class meeting. Each presentation is 10 minutes long, with Q & A -- and the focus of the presentation would be a question I decided -- so there would be little overlap.

I've been thinking about teaching philosophy 100% on-line -- and I just don't think it's a discipline that works in an on-line environment -- at least not for students of our level, doing the kind of work we expect from them. One of our department's primary goals is to assign original source materials in philosophy -- that means that we can't assume they fully comprehend what they read. Over and over again I've had students tell me that class discussion, and my explanations of material are essential to their understanding of it.

Where the 100% on-line model breaks down is on my end -- I'm not sure I can fully and accurately communicate the meaning of the material on-line. What I say in the classroom depends heavily on what they don't understand. If I were the sort of professor who carefully writes out every lecture, then I could do that on-line without any trouble -- but, I'm not. Mostly I'll walk in having prepared a PowerPoint of about 8 slides -- and with a general idea of what I need to cover, but most of what I say in class comes from my knowledge of the topic and is extemporaneous... so writing it out doesn't work.

In many ways I think the hybrid class model is very good -- because it lets me see the students face to face, but also requires a larger degree of class participation in discussion assignments AND more writing than I otherwise have in a class of this size.

Monday, December 14, 2009

RYS prompted me to wonder....

On rejection letters...

Someone asks why committees don't send out rejection letters or e-mails...

I wonder why programs don't have some kind of process meeter on their websites.

When they acknowledge your application, they can include a URL -- then they can simply give an indication as to where they are in the process... It could start with something like "interviews scheduled", then "interviews concluded, committee making a decision", then "position filled". There are other kinds of updates -- but, these are the basics...

Once you know you haven't been contacted for interviews, you'd know you don't need to check again....

Wish Hubby luck --

-- although he really doesn't need it.

He's taking his first law school final today.

He's smart, he's ready and he responds well to high pressure situations --

but -- some good vibes from the universe couldn't hurt.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

It's getting brutal...

... in the e-mail.

They're taking the objective part of the ethics exam. It's really easy if you happened to come to class. Most of the questions are from the powerpoints and anybody with a semi-decent set of class notes should do well.

Of course, I'm getting "can I re-take this??" -- my response was pretty blunt -- "I suspect that you'd have done better if your class attendance was better"... and, in my head I'm saying 'good luck on the short essays'.

Due to the flu, I stopped doing withdraws for attendance. That doesn't mean that if they deserved an attendance failure, they won't earn a failure on the exam. Sometimes they just need to learn the hard way.

Comfort foods...

.. or, 'on being a good spouse to a law student'...

Hubby is heading into his first finals period in law school.

He's smart, he's been keeping up and he's been outlining like crazy.

My functions seem to be making sure he has something clean to wear and providing comfort food.

Today I'm making his favorite -- tuna/ pasta salad. It will be lunch next week ---

Next weekend I'll be making pumpkin bread for him and his study group... In between I'll be grading like crazy -- and, a week from Tuesday it will be all done for both of us.

There seems to be something else out there... hmm... oh yea, Christmas. I'll think about that after grading.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

How irritating...

... I had a dream that made me so mad I had to get out of bed.

The essence of the dream was that someone doing a BNCC project suggested that the poster giving information about a speaker series on cancer CAUSED someone to go out of remission, thus requiring more chemo.

I had a really good rant about cause and effect, cancer, chemo and the idiocy of blaming a physical disease on a poster.. Too bad I was the only one to witness it ;).

Friday, December 11, 2009

E-mail /voice mail fun...

Dear proffie...

1) Your directions didn't tell me exactly what to click -- since I don't really understand the arguments, I should be able to re-take the exam. Tell me what I missed in e-mail (while the exam is open) -- No, I can't come when you're available.

2) I've had a real family tragedy -- what do you suggest? Me -- incomplete, talk with me later -- go be with your family.

3) I have a horrific attendance record, but I've been in the hospital and am leaving a voice mail on Friday the last day of class. I'll be in class next week (it's finals week -- no regular classes) and want to make-up my work...call me back.


Sometimes things work out...

A while back I realized that my discipline at BNCC wasn't getting recognition at some levels.. It's not that we were exactly disrespected, but rather that we were just unnoticed.

I decided to change that.

My plan started buy proposing additional sections for Spring - I didn't think we'd actually get them, but it would force 'folks' to look at our enrollment numbers earlier.

Well -- turns out that we got the sections. As a result-- a part-time person gets two new sections when he would have had none. The number "two" is important, as he gets on the pay scale with the second course. He's also eligible for health insurance.

So -- now we'll see what happens for fall :).

Bees and bonnets..

The Bee seems to consist of a request that faculty not exceed a particular limit of material stored on the common drive.

The proposed solution was to move older material to a CD/flash drive etc. The IT manager says in the message that we may discuss higher limits as is necessary.

The bonnet is currently being worn by our union.

Yes --our union. I'm not sure, but I highly doubt the contract specifies the right to unlimited digital storage -- but, somehow the bonnet wearer seems to think this is some kind of violation of our contractual rights OR our academic freedom.. or something.

True, I don't recall being told there was a limit -- but, they also aren't threatening to delete any files etc...

I should start keeping a log of these kinds of kerfluffles -- I suspect they arise at times in the semester when certain people have very little to do.

Yea -- I watch it... so, what of it?

"it" is the "Real Housewives of Orange County"...

For the record, I don't watch the Atlanta ones -- ever since the blonde one did that stupid "tardy for the party" song -- which is horrific, she can't sing and she also can't see that people are making it into a joke song..

But -- the OC wives really make me wonder...

  • One household -- had to move out of their RENTED house into a less expensive rented house due to the economy. I'm not sure what the husband does, but the wife doesn't seem to work. They bought their oldest daughter a BMW for her birthday, now the oldest daughter and the wife are getting plastic surgery... on the same day. The only person who seems to have a lick of sense is the 16 year-old -- who asks why they're spending all that money when they have to move to save money.

Ummm -- yea. The husband acknowledges that they probably shouldn't be spending the money... but, he "won't put a price on his wife's happiness". I'm sure they got a hefty discount from the plastic surgeon -- but, for goodness sakes, your family is on an economic downturn and you're getting your face lifted and nose done?

I'd love to sit these women down and tell them that the reason they aren't happy with themselves is that they mostly go to lunch and shop -- they aren't doing anything with their time, energy and talents. If you want to feel as if you have worth -- DO SOMETHING to generate worth. Of course, they wouldn't listen to me -- I'm an overweight Midwestern 41 year old woman -- who looks her age -- with one boob...
  • Two husbands refuse to "allow" their wives to travel without them. Both are husbands with smallish children -- both husbands have invited themselves on a 'girls' trip' to Florida.
One woman completely accepts her husband's control -- she says that's the way good marriages are and that God brought her to him. He doesn't mention God when he talks about her role in his life... I think he's more worried that he'll have to deal with his own spawn if she takes off for a day or two.

Another woman is getting kind of feisty about things... she's not exactly happy that her hubby is going on the trip. The real thing she's getting irritated about is the fact that she NEEDS to work to help support the family -- his tequila business is off and they need to put the house on the market -- but, he also expects her to be home with the kids. Umm--just how is that possible.

  • Then there's the housewife who really isn't a housewife at all -- she's blonde and hot.. she was dating a rich older guy who had cancer -- and died this year. Now she's dating the boyfriend of a housewife from the first season. He's a housewife -ho... and she really needs to watch the first season to see what happened...
Oddly enough, this one I kind of like. She was a good support person for her (now dead) rich boyfriend. She didn't seem to get much from the will -- I suspect it went to his kids who are 18 and 21 or so... as it probably should have been... Now she's dating this other dude, which may be a bad idea -- but, she seems to be less obsessed with shopping and working out etc.

Overall -- I'm not sure why I watch this show. I suppose it's because their lives are so different than my own. I also suppose it's because they feed many of the California fantasies... I'm not sure I share them, but I do find the essence of the fantasy itself fascinating.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Fewer, but better....

The semester began with 240 students. I expect to give passing grades to about 190... That's a bit lower than I expected. (FYI -- I have a tutor, but no TA -- all the course work etc.. was done by me... and, I'm department chair.. hmmm....).

I wonder about the differences -- I suspect part of it is that I've started to use on-line exams. When students have chaotic lives, but mange to come to class -- taking the exam outside of class seems to become a problem. This can't be all of it -- because the course with more exams has a higher retention/pass rate.

I suspect the economy has something to do with it as well -- as a college, we're stuffed to the gills... we had more than 95% of ALL POSSIBLE seats full at the beginning of the school year. I suspect some of the students who started the class registered because they didn't have any other options that fit their schedule -- and then they figured out that philosophy is hard.... or they got a job...

I suspect the ethics class has a higher attrition rate because I had a big paper due in the middle of the class. It has three developmental assignments and the requirement that they read and digest arguments we haven't covered. It also requires a fair amount of basic research -- and citations (which were a problem... sigh).

I also think that the large classes (all but logic are 50), combined with the fact that they turn in a lot of work on-line, means that I don't know many of their names. I take attendance by passing around a sign-in sheet. I know some names, but for most I'll just recognize their faces... and, if the instructor doesn't know your name, it's easy to drift away.

I think it will be interesting to compare these completion rates with next semester -- next semester I'll have 3 sections of logic. The classes are smaller and I tend to see individual work more often -- plus hand stuff back in class. I get to know their names... My ethics class has a different schedule -- and is partially on-line, so I'll see the whole class on Monday, then half on Wednesday and half on Friday. I think seeing them in a smaller group will help.

On a good note -- I've had some really good students this semester. Overall, the class discussions have been better than in prior semesters and the students who complete the class seem to be doing better work.

I'm also not all that sure that a lower completion rate is such a bad thing. The fact of the matter is that our class sizes in those courses are unacceptable. If the college really wants to a) prepare students for four-year colleges, b) have students complete courses and c) teach students writing across the curriculum-- having sections of 50 is counter to all of those goals. Lower numbers of C/B/A students might prompt action where my own 7 years of complaints have gone unnoticed.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Ready set... upload?

Four of my five final exams are on-line. This is a change from last spring... and it's kind of weird.

I'm used to writing, printing and distributing exams -- now the work is already done -- I'm used to having piles of exams hanging out in my office this time of year... now, they're all virtual.

I'm also used to getting papers on paper (and I will in the future -- I don't like the drop box...) -- so, I'm used to having piles of grading sitting around this time of year.

Overall, yea I know it's good for the environment -- and it's great that I don't have to deal with any weather related excuses -- but, it's kind of like when a holiday tradition changes -- it may be better, but it's the change that's weird.

about that snow...

... and the end of the semester.

It seems to be snowmageddon out there. It's also the last day of class for two sections.

I'm super-duper happy that my classes are using the on-line course management software.

I'm also happy that my classes don't meet until this afternoon -- and that I just had an exam review session planned for them today.

I suspect about four student will show up.. and they'll be the ones who don't need to be there.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

41... really?

I'm 41 -- yikes.

Last year this time I was pretty darned tired from chemo.

I was bald -- and I spent most of my birthday driving back from Red State.

Today -- I have a pretty decent sized pile of grading to do. Hubby is here (no Red State!!) and I have a full head of hair.

it will be a better birthday...

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Inside and outside, academia and breast cancer..

I just finished kind of silly little novel that really irritated me... I finished it only because I wanted one of the central characters to stop being a dumb-ass...

The main character has breast cancer and she's an English prof at a local university. The author seems to get neither of the basic bits about this character's background right.

First, on the breast cancer: The character has an irrational reaction to even the suggestion of a mastectomy. She says all kinds of stupid stuff about losing her breast, being left scarred. The concept of radiation and chemo after the mastectomy is so impossible to this stupid twit that she'd rather die -- leaving her husband, 3 kids and 4 grandchildren than endure the horrors of chemo.

Of course -- given the last 18 months, I find this a bit implausible. She claims to love her husband, her children and grandchildren -- but -- not enough to have a pretty decent chance at spending another 30 or so years with them? She also claims to be a feminist, a scholar and a hippie -- yet, she's so wrapped up in her current body image she'd rather let her body be eaten from the inside out by cancer than to have a mastectomy with reconstruction (or, without). She claims not to care much about her appearance (even going so far as to wash out the 'up do' paid for by her daughter for a big party), yet -- the concept of losing her hair temporarily is beyond her. I spent about 8 years working in the hair INDUSTRY, and I would have done chemo then...

On the academic stuff... The author is pretty ignorant about the basic job categories in academia -- as well as the fact that it's pretty unusual for someone to go from TA to professor at the same place. The author seems to teach lit (not comp), but is not tenured, nor is she an adjunct or on any kind of limited-term contract. A young department chair is trying to force her to quit with the threat of a schedule full of comp classes -- but the main character doesn't have tenure -- she even complains about a pattern of tenuring less-qualified men (which is probably the only accurate detail), but the main character says she isn't tenured. Plus, as a non-tenured person she has a lovely office, small classes and does no research -- and, she's active in faculty union protests.

Ummm--- most of you know the basics wrong with this little scenario. Really -- by the end of this I was kind of hoping the stupid twit would just get fired by the chair. The chair claims budget crunch and is trying to get the twit to retire -- and the twit is making sure the retirement package includes continuing her health insurance. Y'all know in the 'real' world, the stupid twit would be out on her ear without anything.

Most of the other characters were shallow -- although, the descriptions of the northern Michigan scenery were pretty good. I wish the author would stick to things she knows -- or, at least to things I don't know. I'm glad it's a library book, so I didn't actually pay for it.

An odd day...

There's a post at the end of my spot in the garage. I've been afraid of hitting it for two years... until today, when I actually hit it. To be more precise, the mirror on the driver's side door hit it. I now have one of those 'ghetto' corollas -- with a mirror hanging off. I doubt replacing it is going to be too bad, as all that broke are the plastic bits.

I'm supposed to be working on revising the selective conscientious objection chapter -- but the ideas are still brewing in my head, so I need some time to think about it...

Today's lunch cooking will be Pioneer Woman Cooks' beef stew with mushrooms... Don't you wish you could steal our lunches this week??

I think we'll have clam chowder (ala Costco) and gourmet grilled cheese for dinner (good bread, yummy cheese + bleu cheese... grilled using olive oil on the pan, not butter...).

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Back to Florida...

So --it's cold and snowy... and SuperMom's birthday is in early January... and she's going to be in Florida with Grandma and Auntie S -- a visit sounds like a grand idea, no?

At the worst -- I'll be at the point in my dissertation when I'll be finding typos and other nits to pick. I might as well take the thing to Florida, no? I'm hoping to have had a nit-picking session before I go, so I can just give it one more good, solid read while sitting in the January sun.

I should be all ready to start the new school year before I go -- copies made and everything. I may need to do the course management software work while I'm there, but they have internet too -- being close to campus doesn't matter. I suspect both Mom and Auntie S's wireless works outdoors...

Grandma will turn 93 the day after Christmas. I'm looking forward to seeing her. She can tell me about how her father helped start the Junior College in her hometown -- and about how they had really good teachers because of the crappy economy... and then about going to Iowa to finish school and meeting my grandfather. Every time she tells the story, she adds a few details, so it should be fun.

Now -- all I need to do is finish off the semester, a dissertation, pack, get a pedicure, and "do" the holidays. No sweat...

Friday, December 04, 2009

Dissertation progress...

Chapter 3 is revised -- yes, editing remains, but for now I have two chapters left...

and, in so many ways I have Hubby to thank. Just as I was realizing that I might actually defend next semester, one of my songs dedicated to Hubby came up on my dissertation play list.. Because he loves me...

Of course, because I'm pretty perverse... this came up next... "Life's Gonna Suck"

But -- because Hubby's having a rough day -- I thought I'd include a special message to him...

If you can't handle schmaltzy commentary on the lyrics... stop reading :).

"Because You Loved Me"

For all those times you stood by me
You always stood by me -- I've been blessed to have you on my side for 20 years...

For all the truth that you made me see
like, that I'm actually smart enough to write a dissertation...

For all the joy you brought to my life
we laugh every day -- even chemo days, cancer days, icky days... every day.When we're old, they'll think we're senile -- but, we'll just be speaking our own language of jokes, jabs and unique-to-us weirdness... after 70ish years of marriage, I can't imagine anything else.

For all the wrong that you made right
I couldn't ask for a better advocate -- you'll make one hell of a lawyer...

For every dream you made come true
I couldn't begin to list them...

For all the love I found in you
I'll be forever thankful baby
absolute truth -- no doubt -- even if you make me crazy or cranky, this is still true.

You're the one who held me up
Never let me fall
You're the one who saw me through through it all
Cancer, chemo, the death of my sister and my friend Sara... BA, MA, ABD, soon to be Ph.D... and so much more. You were there.

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
I know that it's simply luck that I have you with me -- I can't have done anything good enough to deserve you. I am so lucky to have you on my side -- now and forever.

You saw the best there was in me
I know I'd never have accomplished what I have without you.

Lifted me up when I couldn't reach
You gave me faith 'coz you believed
Your unwavering faith in me seems to be endless... and for that I love you.

I'm everything I am
Because you loved me
You were the one who felt the lump -- without that, I may have waited years... and may not be here. As it is, I know I wouldn't be teaching philosophy and finishing a dissertation without your love and support.

You gave me wings and made me fly
You touched my hand I could touch the sky
You make me think about things in a new way -- see the world with a new perspective. Everything is possible -- for someone who is often skeptical, you are really a dreamer and I love you for that.

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
When I was bald, tired and had only one boob -- you saw me, not cancer. You encouraged me to think beyond cancer, chemo and the clinic. You encouraged me to work on my dissertation -- not to let the worst summer ever get in my way.

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
Blessed isn't strong enough -- but it's the best I can do. Your love has been a pure gift -- one I don't deserve, but am grateful for every day...

You were always there for me
The tender wind that carried me
Carried, cajoled and pushed when I needed it. You know just how to do it -- I'm not sure how, but you do.

A light in the dark shining your love into my life
even when I'm pretty un-lovable, you've been there.

You've been my inspiration
Through the lies you were the truth
Even if the Jedi Mind Trick doesn't work on me :).

My world is a better place because of you
and I have a hard time imagining my world without you. We've grown up together, we're an amazing team and everything I do to support you in law school could never come close to repaying what you've given me.

Remember -- we're a good team -- law school is just another challenge we'll tackle together.
I love you!!

Middle School Debate..

Really -- it was a lot of fun to judge. The Urban Debate League has a middle school program. Hubby and I (mostly hubby) have been helping to coach in it this year.

The kids kind of knew what they were debating about. The details escaped them, and I really think they'd be better off with a different model of debate -- but, the point is to introduce them to the process.

Most of them spoke well, some were excellent -- a few mumbled and one tried to talk fast without much success.

What's really cool about this program is that a good, private college has started a really good UDL debate scholarship... to qualify you must do four years of UDL -- and middle school counts.

Now -- if they'd only learn that the time to bring up the impact of nuclear war isn't in their rebuttal, things would be good. Also -- discussing their opponents dropped arguments would be a bonus..

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Random musings....

What should I bring to the department pot luck? We're kind of short on outlets and I'm not organized enough to bring it in hot.. so, cold things are better.

Am I wrong for cutting out a research paper next semester and putting in a presentation instead? The class is ethics and it's 50 students... plus, they're doing a lot of writing in other formats.

Am I being vindictive (just a little and not in a good way) when most of my short answer essay questions are about movies or TV show episodes we watched in class -- considering the fact that attendance was low on those days??

Is it unrealistic to assign classes next semester to watch Gran Torino and Million Dollar Baby on their own?

Am I going to be able to tell the difference between the middle school UDL debate I'm judging this afternoon and the college debate I'm used to?? Noticing the size/age of the competitors doesn't count...

How in the heck am I going to replace my current Logic tutor?? -- she'll leave sooner or later, but she's so darned good. I asked her to think about being a tutor a couple of years ago because she was helping students in class anyway-- thank goodness she said yes!! Next semester we'll manage 120 logic students together... and I'm going to need her.

Is it weird that I resist Christmas preparations before my birthday?

Is it weird that I'm looking forward to working on my dissertation tomorrow?

3 sets of old friends...

Facebook is a funny thing...

A while back I got connected with some of my dearest friends from my high school/ early college days--- J, J,& P.... we hung out together, were naughty together and surely they fall into the category of 'framily'-- (friends who are more like family). I hadn't seen these women for a long time -- and we're seeing one another regularly... mostly because one of the J's is an instigator :). We weren't really friends FROM high school, as one of the J's and P went to a neighboring school... and the other J was the Red Head's little sister -- but we were close like you can only be at that time in your life. The really amazing thing is that it's like the 15-20 year gap just didn't happen -- Maybe by the time you're 40ish, the gap goes away?? Maybe they're my lifelong pals and it took me a while to get back in the groove.

Just after Christmas I'm planning to have dinner with some friends from high school -- these are girls I went to school with -- the ones I'd chat in the hall with, sit with at lunch or in class and generally giggle with about little things. We definitely weren't 'framily' then-- and I doubt we will be now. I'm looking forward to seeing them, our conversation over dinner will be fun because we all have the same background -- but, I don't anticipate hanging with them on a regular basis.

Last night I saw the brother of a really old friend make a comment on facebook. I sent the 'Hey, I'm ____, are you _____'s brother?' Message -- and he was!! He hasn't changed much -- and she's living in South Dakota -- apparently with a couple of kids. We were neighbors as kids -- she's the first person I ever skinny-dipped with -- and we did all the same kinds of things that neighbor kids did in an age when kids weren't tied to a video screen or doing activities every free moment. Especially in the summer, she was my companion -- and we had a good childhood swimming, playing and generally being kids. I'm sure I haven't seen her since I was about 12 or 13 -- we drifted apart, then her family moved...

All of those connections were due to Facebook -- It's pretty amazing.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

'that time of the semester'...

Oddly enough, I'm ready for finals week.

I have all my final exams either being copied or posted to the course management system.

I'm very close to being caught up on the grading.

My administrivia is trivial.

I'm working on the syllabi for next semester. The nice thing is that my logic classes all meet T/Th, during the day -- so I can write the same syllabus for all three sections. That just leaves me the one ethics section. My goal is to have them done by finals week -- so all I have to do is send them to be copied and I'll be ready to go by spring.

Spring 2010 will be the first semester at BNCC I won't be teaching AT ALL in the evening. For a while there my philosophy courses were in the day and my debate stuff was at night. Some semesters I was on campus 3-4 nights per week -- 2 for debate -- Over the last four semesters (including summer) I've taught a total of 6 classes that started at 6:00.... none of those were debate coaching.

Also-- my actual prep next semester will be minimal. Logic is now a no-prep class for me -- just the grading -- and in Ethics we're covering the same topics as this semester, so it's all done... YEA!!! I can even go in and copy my old course into the new shell -- so all the powerpoints and other stuff will be there for me.

I suppose it's a good thing that next semester will be relatively no-fuss -- as I hope to defend my dissertation next semester... so, I'll be busy :).

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

small YEA for the day...

I just found out that I'll have my tutor next semester.

I love her dearly and she knows what to do -- I don't have to break her in or anything!!

This is really good news as I have three sections of logic next semester -- I'll need her help with 120 logic students.

Now -- on to the first of two optional days -- we'll see who shows up!

e-mail 'reply all' fight...

So, it seems that there's an e-mail brawl going on in my class-- and I wasn't cc'd.

I had to write a message that says, in essence, everyone back to your own corner of the classroom....

I won't see them in person until tomorrow -- and I only found out because my other section was on the cc list - but I was not.

Any tips on what to say in person?