Tuesday, March 31, 2009

March really is the most difficult month...

  • It's frigging long. It does have spring break in it -- but, even with break, it's long.
  • March is either mud or snow around BNstate.
  • March is full of debate disappointments -- many good/great debaters won't win national championships -- not to say that those who won shouldn't have, but many folks who had it as an achievable goal won't make that goal.
  • Students are starting to figure out that they aren't achieving in class -- and they're really starting to panic.
  • It's hiring/interview time at BNCC-- lots of nerves, hopes and the inevitable fact that some folks won't get hired.
Tomorrow is April -- and soon May will be here.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

I stole an idea from one of you....

... and it worked.

The idea was to modify board games to demonstrate some kind of inequality.

Hubby came in and facilitated a poker game. The students randomly got cups of M & Ms they were supposed to use as poker chips. The cups had vastly different numbers of M & Ms in them. Also, Hubby gave a pretty brief set of instructions as to how to play.

Of course, the point was to demonstrate a couple of ways in which people are unequal -- both in financial terms and in education. The assignment was to make a connection between the game and affirmative action.

Most of them got it -- and more than a few recognized how it might be the case that affirmative action makes things more fair.... or, at least they could see how it might be justified.

So -- to whomever inspired me -- THANKS!

Finally, a sign of spring!

We have some very small wetlands outside our office window.

I just saw two ducks out there...

YEA! Spring.

and.... Secret message to Hubby.... only 4 days until I can use the term "pond" properly....

Grading done... for the moment

I graded 70 papers today. Most of them were in the 3-5 page range....

I'm awfully proud of myself for getting them done.

I think it's nap/stupid TV time.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

"Work" weekend report -- part 1

I took last night off. I also took most of this morning off, and I took a nap this afternoon.

I still accomplished the following:
  • Cleaned my home desk -- because it was really bad. I also arranged things so they wouldn't be so tempting to the Minion.
  • Reviewed a colleague's on-line course.
  • Made the first draft of the Spring 10 schedule room assignments. I couldn't do them all, as some disciplines are making changes -- but, I have the spread sheets set up for each room and I have a pretty good idea about how it's going to work out.
I also watched the big national championship from home via facebook and the the discussion board.... it's kind of fun and kind of frustrating all at the same time.

Now, I think I'll either go to bed or watch some mindless TV.

A modest life goal of mine...

... is never to be dumb enough to be on Judge Judy.

Or, at least if I'm on Judge Judy, I hope I make good arguments.

Friday, March 27, 2009

How did THAT happen??

I've been wearing the same watch for at least three days.

I don't think I've had it on regularly for a while -- mostly I travel wearing the other one.

I JUST (as in 5 minutes ago) realized it was an hour fast.

I'm not sure how that happened.... except maybe that I changed the time on it twice when the time changed....

It is kind of disturbing that I've been wearing it since Wednesday morning and I just noticed... but, it's also nice that I just gained an hour.... kind of.

"Work" weekend....

Hubby and I call our solo-weekends "work weekends". The implication is that we'll get dissertation work done. I sometimes accomplish dissertation tasks, but often that isn't the case.

This weekend is "work catch-up weekend" -- as such I have the following tasks to complete before Monday:
  • Grade a big stack of papers -- probably 80ish papers from Ethics and Bioethics
  • Prep Ethics and Bioethics classes for next week
  • Review a colleague's on-line class
  • Create initial room assignments for Spring 2010
Yea -- that should keep me busy.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

YEA!!!!!!!!!! Hair edition...

Yes, it's been a long few days.

Yes, tonight was my first 'early' night in a week.

Yes, the house is still a mess due to the Minion and the Queen.

Yes, I'm probably getting a cold -- which would make sense as I'm at home this weekend...

but --

drum roll....

I've had many compliments on my hair in the last couple of days


wait for it........

I put my styling products back in the bathroom tonight.

I can go to bed a happy girl.

A little bit of gloating...

NPKUREASTE nationals went well.

We had a good host school, we had good resolutions, we had a fair process for resolving disputes and we ran pretty much on time.

Yea, we kicked *ss.

The 'other' nationals, last year -- was a disaster. I only found out how much of a disaster it actually was after talking with folks at 'our' nationals. We share programs, for the most part, so it pains me to hear that my friends had such a terrible time last year -- BUT, it kind of makes me giggle a little that we are so consistently better than they are. They're older, democratic, and generally look down our noses at 'our' nationals... but, we're innovative, follow our own established rules and fix our mistakes. Clearly, we rock.

Several of my good friends are running the 'other' nationals, so I hope it goes well for them -- really, I don't want them to have the nightmare experience that so many 'other' nationals have been in the past. On the other hand, if it isn't quite as good as 'our' nationals -- that would be ok too....

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Home, sweet home...

It seems that Hubby and I have said too many goodbyes in the Denver airport.

We've had countless trips where we met elsewhere, had a good time and parted ways in Denver.

When we were 'dating', he lived in Denver, I lived in Minneapolis and my step-dad worked for United.... So, as you might imagine, we said many goodbyes in Denver -- granted, it was Stapleton, not DIA -- but, that's just 'cuz we're old.

With any luck, tonight was our last Denver goodbye for a while.

It is good to be home. The Queen and the Minion have managed to find more things to scatter around the apartment, so I have some picking up to do -- but, I have no icky messes to clean. I do want to know why the corkscrew was in the middle of the office floor -- and I want to know what happened to some of the stuff that was on top of the fridge... but, I'll solve those mysteries on Thursday (tomorrow is a 13+ hour day, all on campus.... eek!).

Tomorrow starts a long 10 days or so of almost solid work / meetings etc -- and it starts early... so I'd better go to bed.

Debate characters, NPTE at Berkeley style..

First of all -- if I don't mention you, please don't get offended. I'm tired, I'm sure you are a character and all that -- but, you aren't coming to my fingers at this moment....

"Co-ballot bitch" -- the perfect assistant. Really, I could have left her to do it all if she had the authority with the community to get it done... but, she's a competitor and I wouldn't want her to risk offending someone by calling them out as lazy.

She had a perfect sense of timing... working the ballot table is a sporadic job that relies on keeping the pace of the tournament in your head. Really, you sit at the table for 10 minutes or so to get the ballots out. Then the round goes and you are there about 15 minutes or so getting the ballots back in. In that time, it takes two of us to do the job -- but, otherwise my co-ballot bitch can go do what she wants. I've had many helpful student runners in the past, but not one who was as reliable about coming back as her.

She gained her ballot table skills at a huge high school tournament and has a healthy dislike for high school students. So, she's also famous for turning back an endless swarm of high school students on a campus tour. They wanted to come in to use the restrooms and would have disrupted the whole tournament. She put her arms in the air, yelled "no, you are not coming in here" -- and they stopped.

"The amazing host" -- She did a great job getting stuff done for us. She handled food, trash, logistics and all the rest -- and did so with a smile. Her assistants even came to the tab room to ask if we needed them to make a 'Sbucks run. Really -- she did a great job coordinating what could have been a disaster. I've hosted before and I know how hard it is.

"We've been here before -- guy" -- there are several of these folks in the community. We've known one another for a while. We can chat about the merits of this over the merits of that. If given a few more minutes, we can solve all the problems of the debate world -- it was nice to see you this weekend!!

"Former competitor, now coach/judge" -- I noticed this weekend that more than a few of these folks are starting to turn gray... and boy did I feel old.... and I also didn't feel too bad about coloring my hair! This group is generally the most fun for me. A few of them are pains in the butt... but, it's also the case that they're used to dealing with me as a judge, so when I ask them to do something they do it. By now, many of these folks only competed in a world in which NPTE existed -- so they see me as a founder and think that's kind of cool. A few of them had competitive careers that overlapped Hubby's, and so they saw the creation of the NPTE and often lost rounds to Hubby, so they understand why NPTE was needed and they've seen the changes to debate post-NPTE.

During a lull in the ballot process, I went down the list of 64 judges with 'co-ballot bitch'. After a while I found it more efficent to point out the judges I hadn't known as competitors... and, there weren't many. She was amazed until I told her that I'd helped found NPTE almost 10 years ago... then she got it.

"Other dudes" -- and, they're mostly dudes. These are folks who either read or participate on the debate boards. They know what's going on in the on-line community and at least a few of them read this blog as well. I was talking with one of the dudes bout last year's call for Hubby and I to resign. The call came from someone on this dude's squad. I told this dude, and another from that same squad, that I was considering it and if their little punk friend had kept his trap shut, he might have gotten exactly what he asked for. The fun bit is that I know they'll tell him...ha ha!

The 'other dudes' generally smoke and are outside when I step out for some air. They're fun to talk to about non-debate stuff and generally have a relaxed attitude about life in general. One of them is married to a long-time pal of mine, and admitted that he can no longer drink during tournaments because he's getting old. A new memeber of the 'other dudes' crew has shaped up his life since getting married this summer. These guys are in the 'I'm not sure what the heck the rest of my life will bring, but I'm going to make sure it's interesting' camp.

"The women of NPTE" -- Debate is an overwhelmingly male activity -- at least at this level. There are innocent and obnoxious reasons for that, which I won't go into here. Suffice it to say that there are few long-term women coaches and not a large number of female competitors. It have to say that the women of NPTE are my favorite group within the community AND among my favorite groups of women anyplace. They're strong, smart, articulate and have really good senses of humor. The're used to standing up for themselves with the guys while preserving themselves as women. The coaches are used to dealing with sexism and other crap and they just deal with it -- mostly hoping to change the next generation for the better.

One thing we do at NPTE is to use a system of mutually-prefered judging. Each judge is ranked and the goal is to make sure the judges in each round are equally prefered. As a result, we can figure out who has the highest preference. In recent memory, most of the highest preferred critics have been women. There's a reason for that -- they're darned good judges. This year #1 was a man, but #2 was a new female judge.

If you think about the normal challenges women in academia face, in terms of work-life balance and the rest -- now, add 4-9 'weekends' (start on Thursday and often end on Monday) at debate tournaments, you can see how making that balance happen is a challenge. To be honest, I'm not sure why the NPTE women coach -- but, I'm glad they do.

Tired and more than a little homesick...

First of all -- the tired is a) not as bad as usual NPTE tired and b) not nearly as bad as 'end of chemo tired' -- so, it isn't all that bad.

The homesick is cumulative -- Since the beginning of 2009 I've been out of town for the following reasons...
January --
1) Short vacation with Hubby to the north shore and to see Mom. Nice, relaxing but still out of town -- about 5 days or so.
2) Trip to Red State -- 5 days (MLK day helped!!).
3) Conference in Cali -- 4 days

4) 5 days in Red State
5) Trip to Florida that wouldn't end -- 11 days

6) Spring Break, split between Red State and NPTE in Cali -- 10 days,

So --- out of about 90 days, I'll have spent 40 of them out of town for one reason or another... and I'm the one that 'lives' at "home" -- of the two of us.

I'm also homesick for a particular combination of having Hubby in BNstate with me. He spent his 'spring' break with me (the ' ' is because his uni does it so early that we joke that you get to go elsewhere to experience spring, but when you come back it's still winter). But --- I want the permanent Hubby back. I want us to be "us" all the time. We kind of get that back over summer and winter breaks, but since he's had to go back to Red State, it seems as if there is a shadow hanging over the fun ( or the not so fun summer-o-cancer). I want that to end.

Really, when it comes down to it, you know how you feel when you've planned a fantastic vacation -- full of beautiful places, good food, pedicures and other treats? But -- it's a ways off... and it seems like it will NEVER come? That's how I feel about Hubby coming home to stay -- that it's right, the good thing to do and it should happen NOW -- darn it -- I want him to get on ALL the airplanes with me today... I want him to come home to see what The Minion did to the apartment this time. That's really what I want to happen.... and it will, soon enough.

Monday, March 23, 2009

and.. as challenging/fun/tiring as this 'weekend' was...

... the time between Wednesday and April 2 is much crazier....

Meetings, grading, schedules etc... are ALL coming to a head in the next 10 days.


well.... D1s out..

I didn't see the round, but I know the results. He lost the round last night.

I'm proud of D1 -- he's come an amazing distance from the student I met in Intro to Philosophy so long ago. I can't even name all the people who've said of him, 'he's the best debater I've seen -- ever'. Not bad for a kid who seemed motivated, although kind of lost, when he more or less insisted that we have a debate team at BNCC.

As a coach I'd like to claim credit for his achievements, but I really can't. I can take credit for a) bringing him to the debate camp where he flipped the 'amazing debater switch', b) pairing him with D2 -- who was also all talent and no experience -- so they could learn together, and c) encouraging him along the way... really, not all that much.

The thing is, I know he had winning NPTE as one of his goals -- so it makes me sad that he won't achieve it. On the other hand, I can be nothing but happy about how good he got and how amazingly well he did this year. I also know that he'll achieve other goals, goals he hasn't even set yet. That's the amazing thing about teaching college -- our students may not achieve their current goals, but they have many other life-goals to go after -- and it's up to us to give them the skills and encouragement to go there.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

So far, so good...

... keep the good thoughts coming.

D1 won another one... YEA!

Think good thoughts...

My last remaining former BNCC competitor, D1 is in one of his last three national championships... and his last NPTE.

He's down one round in a double-elim format -- so, he has to win out to win the thing.

I'm so proud of him and what he's accomplished in life -- and I'm proud to have been his first college debate coach as well. I really didn't intend to have a team at BNCC, but D1 kind of insisted and so I did it. He had a rough semester or two, but then the debate-light bulb went off in his head and he's been really successful ever since.

So -- the round that's going on could be his last, or it could be just one of a series until finals. This is where the drama really heats up.... so think good thoughts for D1.

NPTE, day two... the drama continues

Like many other projects that involve human beings -- debate has its own drama...

Today most of the debaters will end NPTE careers -- many of them have qualified at least three years and a few qualified all four. This is a tournament they've wanted to win -- that has been on their 'goal' list for a long time. Today, it will be over for many of them.

Today is the first of two 'elimination' days --- the first round of the morning, everyone debates one more time. Then we go into the elimination round phase.... Round 6 is often where some teams try innovations -- if they're mathematically eliminated. Other teams do fun stuff because they're safe -- and their opponents are as well. It's the most dramatic for those in the middle. The ones who need one or two ballots to advance. The first round of the morning could end their tournament or mean they get to keep debating.

In the elimination rounds, the pressure increases. We do a 'double elimination' round tournament all the way to finals. That means you need to lose twice to be eliminated -- so, the drama begins in elim 2 -- where the teams who lost the last round (50% of the field) try not to lose again.

As debaters are eliminated -- generally they sulk a bit... have a private fit -- and then they join the crowd of spectators and cheer on their friends, help with prep and otherwise be supportive -- or, they go drink.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Roun 5 is in progress...

... and the squad at the PRB is doing great!

We've had rooms, helpers and food. They've been doing a great job and we can't really thank them enough. Having 'survived' many NPTEs in the past (as in all of them...), I know what it's like to have a host who isn't on top of things.

I'm also quite impressed with our judging pool. They are generally doing a good job at completing the ballots -- and have been good at picking them up and returning them in a timely manner.... and that's all this ballot b*tch can ask for!

Basketball Graduation Rates... suck

The full story is here.

I'm disturbed that there is a 10% graduation rate for two of these schools.

I'm suspicious about a 100% graduation rate for a few others -- including one whose debate team I'm cozy with.

But, what bothers me the most is that at Northridge and Maryland, 50% of the white players graduated in the 5 years of the study and 0% of the black ones graduated.

The coaches claim it isn't their job to graduate players -- and that many of their players become pro, play in Europe etc...

So -- maybe the coaches need to track 'successful transition to professional-status'.

So far, so so...

We're humming right along....

Another unusual snag this morning -- but, in the end it's all good.

I'm also quite impressed with our hosts in the PRB. The person in charge is doing a good job getting student help and, from their end, it's all going very well. This had me worried, as last time we were here it wasn't nearly so good.

We're currently in round 3. We have two more to go after this one -- so (knock on wood), we'll end the day in the neighborhood of on-time.

YEA us.

NPTE, day one...

Today is the hopeful day.

The day that everything is possible. Every team thinks they can win the tournament. Nobody has been mathematically eliminated. No one has realized their research skills suck.

We'll do a few rounds today and be done before dinner. By this time tomorrow a few teams will be feeling pretty secure, many teams will be nervous and a few will have realized that they're out-classed or at least in over their heads. The 'in over their heads' folks will be looking forward to NPDA -- the rest still think they can win this tournament.

The thing is -- only one team wins. By Monday one team will be taking home the big trophy... and the rest of them will be trying to figure out how to win NPDA.

For now, Hubby and I woke to the theme from Mission Impossible. We'll put on our matching t-shirts that say "What kind of world do you want" and "history starts now" -- and go to work on another NPTE. I'm sure we're running this tournament with a good team this year --- so, we'll be able to solve the problems that inevitably arise.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Travel gripes... so what else is new?

and... some interesting conversation in the restroom...

First the gripes --
  • How many people does the old woman need to call because our flight is delayed 20 minutes? She's up to four... come on, it's only 20 minutes.
  • Dude behind me on the cell phone -- you aren't making any sense.... but, you seem to be speaking English.
  • Why do people think it is ok to call and berate their employees from their cell phones, in a very public place? Talk about tacky....
  • Why does it take so darned long to get from Red State to Dirty-hippie-ville? Maybe it's because we need some time to change perspectives... but, including Hubby's class this morning it will be at least 14.5 hours from the front door to the DHV airport. That isn't counting baggage and rental car hassles. I'm thinking at least 16 hours to the hotel.
Now the interesting conversations --

1) Interesting discussion this morning with Hubby's class -- about the ethics of warfare. They were nice and generally engaged. They were a bit better-informed than BNCC students, but they tended to ask the same kinds of questions as my more engaged BNCC students.

2) Somehow I ended up in a conversation with a Harvard biologist/environmentalist. One of her main complaints was that her students aren't well-prepared for college. Yep, that Harvard --- the thing is, her complaints weren't all that different than my gripes about BNCC students.

So, the big question is how far apart are they -- really? What's the real difference between BNCC students, Hubby's Uni students and Harvard students? We like to think that intelligence, merit, working hard is the diference... but, is it?

From nothing to 64 teams in 9 years...

NPTE is the national debate tournament Hubby and I helped found.

It was his idea almost 10 years ago. I thought it was a pipe dream -- another one of his big ideas...
but then he went ahead and did it.

Sure, I helped. I was elected to the first board and have been on the board ever since.

I was his second set of ears working on the original rule set. We've discussed the changes as they've happened. For the record, we don't always vote together. Also, I'm not a f-ing "mental incompetent" as some jerky former-debater called me when he was rejected from the judging pool. Also, jerky former-debater is also wrong, I've never been hired to judge the tournament -- I always get to do the ballot table ---- so, screw you, asshat!

We'll do it again this year at Berkeley. It will be three days of hard work, two days of travel and at the end some other school will have a national championship --- taking home a traveling trophy that Hubby and I picked out a few years ago.

But --- of course -- debaters have short memories and no sense of history. They don't know what it was like before NPTE. They have no clue what it took to start the tournament. They have no idea how freaking good a debater Hubby was --- but, I really don't expect them to.

What I do expect, because Hubby and I've earned it, is a bit of respect from the little twerps. Not that we'll get it -- but, I think a little respect is due the only two people who have been at every single one of these things....

Sadly, mark my words -- by Tuesday or so there will be twerps complaining about it. If it's like last year they'll "call" for our resignation or some such crap. It isn't that the debaters do this kind of BS that bothers me--- rather it's that their coaches don't take their heads off for doing it. In fact, they seem to encourage it.

So --- I'm off to give the last three days of my spring break to debate. While it's better than last year, it's still a sacrifice. I'm not sure I'll do it next year --- maybe they won't demand my resignation and I can decide if I want to resign or not.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


I had nothing better to do just now, so I "googled" myself.

Besides finding out that I'm a policy adviser in Switzerland, I also found the web-site for someone in my grad school cohort.

I won't get into specifics -- but, suffice it to say it was funny in only the way that a self-aggrandizing personal webpage can be.

yea, it was amusing.

yep, s/he's still a twerp.

Travel -- I end up doing a lot of it....

The year so far... including plans and likely trips....

January: Red State, California
February: Red State, Florida
March: Red State, California (tomorrow... sigh).
April: Red State
May: maybe Red State, maybe Florida
June & July -- nothing planned, yet.
August: Iowa for Grandpa's party...

Maybe I'll get to stay home this summer and fall -- I'd like that.


3 so-so chapters turned into Dr. Advisor for comments.

I know he'll read them with a critical eye --- which is why I like him. I hope he finds some value in them --- and I think he will. I also know that he'll see ways to improve them, which is why he's a good advisor.

Today it feels good to make another step toward being a Ph.D. -- although, the thought of NOT having it to do kind of freaks me out --- I suspect I'll adjust.

I decided this morning that, the semester I defend, my students will need to call me Dr. ItPF for a week.... and Hubby has to do it for a month or so :).

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


... the magic number.

The word count for my first three dissertation chapters, so far.

They are mostly bare-bones and need a lot of improvement. The next step is to get them to Dr. Advisor for some comments.

BUT -- all three make at least a minimally decent pass at being complete arguments.

Not too bad for a year that includes cancer and a 4/4 + department chair AND a LDR.

yikes.... this might actually be over sometime in the next year or so!

The same ol, same ol...

... in terms of the contract.

I suppose the good news is that they are adopting the same language as the last contract -- except, we don't get our 'step' raises.

So -- once again, those hired this year and next will be evaluated and placed on the salary scale at or above the level of folks who are here and have been here for 6-9 years.

This is how it works -- (this isn't my case... ) Say, I've been here for 6 years and am current at step 6. This came about because the credit for my experience was limited by contract --- so, if I had 10 years experience coming in, I'm put at step 4 and have had two step increases.

Someone hired under the new language -- in the past few years and the newly agreed upon contract has 10 years and is placed on step 10. They're now 4 steps ahead of me and will be until they max out. It is also the case that I have 16 years of experience while they only have 10.

In essence, every time we've had a contract that didn't include step-increases -- those years effectively don't count toward experience / money. BUT, doing the same work outside the system is counted.

The earning differences are huge and quite un-fair.

It's also the case that the union leadership is maxed out on the salary scale and don't really care.

BNCC just made my life a little bit more difficult..

.. it seems that the new voice mail system will send notices to my e-mail.

Oh joy -- now I have a more difficult time ignoring my phone and the messages on it.

I really hate talking on the phone. I'd rather e-mail or talk face to face.

Now every time some bozo tries to call my phone, I get an e-mail message about a "missed" call on my office phone.

Just today I had three "missed" calls on my phone, from a textbook rep. Yes, they are doing their job - -no, I don't want to know about those calls. grrrr.

Sometimes progress isn't.

Writing my dissertation has taught me...

... not to question the perfection of "The Google" -- i.e., Hubby when he's in 'ItPF's Google' mode.

To do so may result in 'punishment' -- although Hubby/Google may enjoy dishing it out, I don't have time to take a 'punishment' break... I'm writing. really.

Another odd thing abot Red State...

... they make a big deal of St. Patrick's day.

There are quite a few Irish bars here.

I suspect there are a good number of Irish Catholics here -- so, I suppose it makes sense.

But -- the bars open at 7:00 AM --- and serve breakfast with their green beer.

People take the day off, buy tickets on the bar bus, and spend all day going around to the different bars celebrating St. Patrick's day.

On the radio, they talk about what they're doing to celebrate --- and people get kind of bent out of shape if you aren't wearing green.

Folks -- it is kind of strange.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

YEA haircolor!!!

I am no longer a gray haired woman!!!

So far the color seems to have worked. I'm more of a strawberry blonde.... with a quasi-bad haircut.

The color guru I see in Red State has known me since we worked together at least 15 years ago... so, when I told her we should go for my "natural" color, she knew exactly what color to mix up.... the color my hair was when I was about 25 :).

I'm amazed...

... at what I can do without more distractions.

I'm at Hubby's for spring break -- so, I'm without most of my regular distractions.

Instead, I have my books, a radio and my laptop. Hubby teaches every day this week -- until we go to the homeland of the unwashed hippie on Friday...

Yesterday and earlier this morning I came up with a complete first version of chapter 2.

Just now I came up with the general shape of half of chapter 3. The other half will take more work -- because I need to create jus pre bellum standards out of my own little head....

By the way, Latin scholars -- is "jus pre bellum" the correct term for justice before the war? I want to distinguish it from jus ad bellum -- which may already mean "justice before war" but is used by just war writers to describe the conditions necessary to start a just war-- if so, then I need some other term to talk about the ethics of pre-conflict coercion.

Tomorrow I'll keep working on Chapter 3, Thursday I'll work on Chapter 1 --- and maybe Dr. Advisor will get the whole shebang pretty soon!

Monday, March 16, 2009

It feels good...

... to be writing the dissertation again.

I have chapter two in much better shape. Tomorrow morning I'll finish it before I get my hair done.

Wednesday I'll do a similar job on chapter one.

Thursday I'll spend cleaning up loose ends and send it to Dr. Advisor... who may or may not be happy to see it :).

Chapter three needs more work, including the creation of a whole new set of philosophical principles -- so, that may have to wait a bit. On the other hand, chapter three is about half-done now... So, at the end of Spring Break I'll have a dissertation that has two pretty decent chapters and two half-chapters that aren't half-bad, but that need finishing.

I'd love to have all of my partial chapters finished by the end of the school year. That will give me one or two chapters to write from scratch over the summer.... plus, a whole lot of revisions -- because Dr. Advisor is good at his job :).

Comparative Minimum Equipment Requirements

For lion-taming:
One (1) whip
One (1) chair

For teaching freshmen:
One (1) stick
One (1) gradebook

Don't get me wrong -- I love Red State..

.. for a variety of reasons -- but, there are some things that make me crazy...

For one, the radio situation kind of sucks. In BNstate, we have a talk radio station that targets women... While I think they talk too much about movie/TV gossip, it is pretty easy to have as background sound -- and sometimes they are pretty funny. For example, they sent me to this link... about the Count -- they've bleeped every time he says "count".

In Red State, the choices are either conservative talk -- or uber-conservative talk. Nearly 100% men saying the same stuff about how they don't like the stimulus bill. In a few minutes Rush Limbaugh will be on -- oh joy!

BNstate NPR is really good -- in fact, we send out quite a few excellent programs. In Red State the signal is so weak it is hard to get on the radio inside the house, and we're lucky if it isn't some weird jazz instead of moderate-liberal talk.

Maybe I'm just celebrating the fact that we won't be here next year... hmmm.

As much as I complain about my short break...

... it is better than in prior years.

It must have been the first year Hubby was down here. We ran NPKQRSTE nationals the first weekend of my spring break. We got here on Monday night late. I had Tuesday off and then on Wednesday I had to go to the site of NPDARQKR nationals.

Or -- the year we hosted NPKQRSTE at BNCC, I spent the first weekend of break hosting nationals -- which is a major pain in the backside -- then we spent three days doing debate rounds to prepare our team for the other nationals...

So, getting four days to work on my dissertation isn't all that bad.

I'm up to two new and pretty decent paragraphs... not bad, so far -- eh?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

My union is in negotiations again...

... which leads me to wonder how they'll under-serve my cohort this time.

My union dues are almost $50.00 per paycheck (paid twice a month... every other week) so the union dues are something like $1250 or $1300 per year.

Right now there is significant salary inequity, which started in the contract immediately after I got hired. People hired under contracts AFTER me and my pals get paid more -- because their "experience" is rated differently, thus their starting base salary is higher. There is no provision for this to change and our union ignores it....

Now, there's a provision about sabbaticals that increases pay for full-year sabbaticals. The way I understand it, it applies to people who have had one (i.e. the cohort of the union leadership) AND for those hired this fall... in other words, not US.

My question is what's next -- Maybe as a cost saving measure we'll have to double-up with others in the 'employed 6-9 years' range, while the old folks and the new folks get double offices? Maybe they'll cut our professional development funds and give them to the old (out of date?) and new (fresh, eager scholars)?

Since I generally have a pretty low opinion of our union pres and chief negotiator, I'm worried.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The sushi bar and chef's choice...

... were the best idea we've had for a while!

A local radio station has these cool deals -- you go to their website, in my case I paid them $25.00 for $50.00 worth of gift certificates for sushi at our favorite place.

So -- Hubby and I went today and sat at the bar (for the first time!!). We told the sushi chef we wanted $50.00 worth of sushi and he gave us some original stuff... it was amazing.

We got a kind of sushi salad -- with lots of citrus, salmon and white fish -- with spicy stuff in the dressing. We got a really spicy tuna roll -- with a twist and a combination plate with shashimi (however you spell it) a roll and a variation on the citrus/raw fish combo.

It was plenty of food for us -- and very good. The best part is that we didn't have to make any of the decisions and we got much better things than we could ever have ordered.

yea -- we'll do THAT again.

Also --- tomorrow we leave for Red State. After that -- we have about 6 weeks apart and then Hubby will be home for good!

Friday, March 13, 2009

The minion makes me laugh...

My desk is in front of a window.

The window sill is below the level of my desk.

The Minion is sitting on the window sill looking at me from a gap between the things that hold my office junk.

It is kind of like a raptor....

The good news from today...

In no particular order...

  • I paid the cancer clinic over half of my year-to-date out of pocket maximum. I'd rather have it go to them than the hospital, I suppose.
  • The State of MN gave me a "benefits" card worth $250.00 -- to spend on uncovered medical expenses.
  • I got the budget requests in on time.
  • Spring 10 schedules will have to wait until after break.
  • I made an appointment with my favorite hairdresser for next week!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Let me say that one again, in a different way, my hair is long enough to color -- and we're giving it a try!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • I'm so busy after break that it's probably a good thing Hubby will be in Red State, as I'd never see him.
  • The administration decided against creating the uber-Borg department.... We are already a nice version of the Borg -- I didn't want to assimilate the Comm folks.
  • I successfully resisted doing WORK work over break.

grrrr... how to irritate me.

1) Give me a big project to do with little guidance.
2) Keep revising and adding more data at the last minute (as in, the day before the project is due).
3) Don't answer my questions.
4) When I do it -- without a key answer -- but in a perfectly acceptable way, give me the opposite answer and ask me to re-do over break.

NO. Won't do it -- I'm not giving it one more second of thought until after Spring Break. What you have is what you'll need to work with until after Spring Break and NPKQURTE nationals. Spring Break is for my own work -- dammit.

Another reason to love "Spring"

My apartment faces kind of southeast -- more east than south.

In the winter, there is significantly less sunlight than in spring/summer.

The Queen seems to live on sunlight (and a significant amount of food). She can find the sunny spot whenever it happens, but in Spring/Summer they are easier to find and more rewarding.

The Minion is all black -- so the sun warms him considerably -- although, we got him in November, so I don't know how he reacts to sunlight. I suspect that, like other demons, he prefers the dark--- but, he may be solar powered and simply get "more active" on sunny days.... I'll let you know.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Spring Break here I come!!!!

No, it isn't lounging by a pool while a tanned young man brings me fruity drinks.

It isn't climbing a mountain or touring a foreign country.

I'm done with all the misc. department chair stuff (schedule snafus, budgets and the like)... as of a few minutes ago.

I'm done with all the grading I had before my 6:00 PM Wednesday class. That was the class who laughed and cheered when I told them I wasn't bringing their papers on Spring Break with me. I think they'll forgive me if they're a week late.

I'm prepped for class the week after break.

Tomorrow, my only tasks are to copy and turn in the budget forms and get my chemo port flushed (regular maintenance...). Otherwise, I might clean the closet, fold some laundry and read a good book. I deserve a day or two of being a bum.

Sunday we take off for the oh-so-glamorous Red State. The nice thing is that WE are going --

While down there I'll put in 4 days full of dissertation work and then run a national tournament....

Sigh.... maybe next year will be the year I finally get the fruity drinks and tanned boys to bring them to me. More than likely it will be a trip to the Florida "treasure" coast -- whatever that means.... to see Mom/Grandma.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Grading jail...

... almost Spring Break edition...

I don't want to haul a big pile of grading with me on Spring Break.

I need to get this grading done.

I'm on the last 11 (of 50) essays on Euthanasia --- and I then have to evaluate a "brainstorm" activity from the same class, so about 50 of those as well.

When I'm done with them, I'll be finished grading until I get a pile of 30 from my bioethics class.

grrrr. It never ends.

It's nice having Hubby home...

... if only because my time spent talking on the phone has decreased significantly.

For example -- about now, Hubby usually calls me. He's done teaching and is awake enough to talk -- I haven't left for campus yet, as I teach late.

Now -- I can just kiss him goodbye and go out the door... the simple joys of living together.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

One more weird Spring Break for me...

I have two teaching days until "Spring" "Break" --

Both words are in quotes for a reason --

The 'spring' part, because it seems to be kind of winter-like here... if BNCC waited until actual Spring for a break, we'd have it some random week in April.

The "Break" part is simply because it isn't really a break... big frigging shocker there, eh? I'm behind on dissertation work. I have class prep and grading to do and I anticipate my few days of break to be spent doing those things....

As has been the case in the past, I'll also spend most of this break in oh-so-exciting Red State. This should be the last break I spend there... so, perhaps there is cause for celebration.

Also, the last weekend of break we'll do debate nationals -- for NPKQUESTE nationals.. Yes, I'm still involved, no it won't necessarily be fun -- in fact, I predict a bunch of hassles.

To top it all off -- my flight from CA comes in about 10:30 PM, the following day I have three meetings, the first one starting at 7:45 -- AND I teach until 9:00 PM. I'd better get some rest before hand -- right??? ummmm.... yea... right.

'tis the season of doing more with less...

  • More grading with less time
  • More budget cuts with less information
  • More 'workforce training' to plan with less information
  • More students to plan to teach, on less budget

Monday, March 09, 2009

Things I learned on the English search...

among them, English folks have lots of different kinds of degrees!

MAs, MFA, MS in teaching English -- Ph.Ds in many shades...

and don't get me started on degrees in English vs. Lit vs. Creative Writing, non-fiction writing etc...

Really, I find it pretty confusing.

For the record, Philosophers generally have one of two degrees -- an MA or Ph.D. in Philosophy. We may have a funky AOC or AOS - but even then it is usually pretty clear -- 'ethics' 'epistemology' etc...

Really, I love many of you English folks -- but, you confuse me.

Really -- you want to use THAT as an "excuse"

From the e-mail files...

Aparently the deaths of friends grandparents is sufficient to supposedly excuse one from class.

I can almost buy the friend dying the day before class --- BUT, it is kind of unlikely that class and the funeral conflicted --- although that is possible in some traditions.

but -- your buddy's grandparents croak = you are too broken up to go to class.... please.

I got a new chair...

for my office at home. And it vibrates!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Done with the reading and the ranking...

... just in time.

I got better at using the on-line system, but I still don't like it.

Hint to job seekers -- save a copy of your CV and letter as a PDF. Some of us still don't have Word 08 (for Macs...), so your docx files don't open easily.

Family perspectives...

My grandfather's funeral was yesterday -- in Florida.

I spent plenty of time in Florida this month and didn't go down for it -- which was fine by me.

Instead, yesterday I went to visit my grandfather's sister (GS). She's his youngest sister -- she's 82. GS is in an assisted living place, smokes and drinks a bit and has her wits about her.

While I was in Florida, my grandmother had a lot of good things to say about her mother-in-law --- my great grandmother. When my grandparents married and settled in Iowa, GG taught grandma how to can vegetables, cook, take care of the kids and generally do things right. GG was a strong woman who knew what needed to be done and how it should be done. My grandmother needed that kind of help, as she grew up without a mother and without a huge garden... where she lived in the UP, you couldn't grow anything.

When the subject of GG came up with GS, GS had a very different perception of how things worked between GG and grandma. GS thought that GG was pushy, demanding and not very nice to grandma.

In some ways, I think both are probably correct -- From their different perspectives they interpreted GG's actions in a different light. Grandma thought GG was being helpful. Grandma realized that she didn't have any clue as to what to do with babies, lots of vegetables or a big old house in Iowa -- these things were in GG's realm of expertise. Grandma needed help and GG gave it to her. GS saw GG as being pushy and telling Grandma what to do -- which was probably also true -- because GG was that way...

Friday, March 06, 2009

Can you believe it??

Jason's on the way home.

We'll be together for 19 days --- in a row!

His Spring Break is this week, mine is next week -- and then we go to debate nationals at Berkeley -- so we have a couple of extra days....

So, the next time we'll have to say goodbye is March 24th -- in Denver.

After that -- just over a month of this 3-year LDR odyssey remains.

Sweet words...

... on the phone, Hubby -- "I'm in the car"--- which means he's on the way home.

... on my computer screen -- "you are at the end of this page of applicants"!!!

I'm making progress.... slowly.

BTW -- secret from me to you.... Hubby is getting a 'from scratch' birthday cake and some other things... including alligator jerky for his birthday.

He doesn't know this.... 'cuz he's in the car :).

Thursday, March 05, 2009

The Minion isn't helping...

... me read these applications.

As much as y'all hate sending the on-line things, I hate reading the whole lot of them.

The old 'print them out and put them in a book in HR' sounds good to me!!

Aargh --- search committee edition...

A lot has changed since the last time I read applications... namely, we bought one of those on-line application systems.

Reading an application used to take me a few minutes, now it takes forever...

and, of course we have a long list of them. grrr.

1 down, many to go.

BNCC English folks, it's a good thing you are among my very favorite people -- I wouldn't do this otherwise :).

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

One more trip this year... sigh.

I really feel like I've been out of town more than I've been in town this semester.... Hubby's "spring" break will be a wonderful break for me, because we'll be home together! Sure, I'll be working and doing English search stuff -- but, I won't be packing, schlepping etc.

I just finished booking our trip for debate nationals -- I know Berkeley will be nice, but just getting the flights, car and hotel has made me want to crawl into bed and not come out until May.

I really would like to know why Hubby's round-trip flight from Red State to Oakland was 268.00 and my trip that starts in Red State, goes to Oakland and ends in BNstate was 409.00. Especially since BNstate is a larger market. I'll blame it on Monopoly-Air's impact on the market. They claim to be so frigging good for us, but every time I book a trip like this, Hubby's ticket is less expensive than mine... FOR THE SAME FLIGHTS. Hubby and I part ways in Denver. He goes to Red State, I go to BNState. The difference (driving) is just about 400 miles. Why is his ticket $141.00 less....


Loss of old folks...

Although I'll miss my grandfather, his passing really isn't sad or tragic.

He was 90. He was active until he collapsed and was only in ICU for a week. At the end of his life, he was being reassured by my mom that we were all ok and that we'd take care of Grandma.

Since we all have to die, it seems to me that his life and death were the best possible scenario for him. It would have been much more tragic for my grandfather to have lived, but with significant physical or intellectual limitations. He would have been a burden on his children (especially Super-Mom) and his beloved wife -- and although he was cantankerous, he wouldn't have wanted that to happen.

I suppose my take on all of this is skewed because I'm comparing it to other deaths -- my father died when he was 48 and I was 13. My only sister died when she was 30 and I was 33. Both of their deaths were sudden and unexpected -- and I'd put them in the "tragic" category.

So, I suppose when you can honestly say that a person had a long and happy life, that they leave behind a family with good values and who will probably make their corner of the world a better place, and that their passing wasn't long or painful -- it isn't sad or tragic -- it's just life.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Death tips...

My trip to Florida taught me a few things:
  • It's ok to throw things away -- especially if you're 90 -- sooner or later your grandchildren will have to sort it out for you.
  • Leave clear instructions -- about your finances AND your health desires. Also tell your family if you want to be cremated, where you want to be buried etc. If you can't have the conversation, write it all down and put it in an envelope with "open when I die" on the outside.
  • Keep your current bank information in an obvious place ---- don't make your children hunt for it.
  • Don't buy an urn from the funeral parlor -- instead order it from Costco.com. If you really want to plan ahead, order your own urn -- it's just a box and isn't at all creepy until the ashes are inside.
  • If you want anything specific played or said at your funeral, tell someone. If you're old and cranky, pick the most schmaltzy hymns -- because they'll have to sing them.
  • When you do powers of attorney -- if you're old, don't name your equally old (or older) spouse.
  • When you get old, make sure you have the name of a younger person you trust on your bank accounts -- that way they can pay the bills if you can't.

Monday, March 02, 2009

For a place with no snow...

... people in Florida seem to watch the weather channel a lot -- especially when it's snowing in the north.

It seems like their purpose is to justify their decision to flee the north for the palm trees.

Maybe this summer, when it's icky-hot in Florida (like, May...) I'll watch the weather channel to justify staying where the weather is civilized...

or... maybe I'll just enjoy our good weather while it lasts.

Home... finally

The three day quickie trip that turned into 11 is finally over.

I'll have more comments on Florida, airline travel and the weirdness of ordering your own grandfather's urn from Costco.com... As well as a really pushy doctor.

For now, I'm happy to see The Queen and The Minion have been well cared for by Sunshine!

and -- I can't wait to get into my own bed.