Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Is it chilly where you are...

.. because I'm pretty sure Hell is freezing over around here.

The Queen and The Minion have been at war all day.

They're now snuggled up on Hubby's chair.


Monday, June 29, 2009

A nice thing about renting...

... is that someone comes in and fixes things.

We had a variety of little things pile up -- the screen door, a window, a French door -- all malfunctioned.

Hubby is pretty handy, but he also doesn't really like to do those things -- so, the maintenance dude spent the morning with us.

and we don't have to pay him.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Live blogging from the porch...

.. well, technically it's the "deck" -- as it's two stories above the ground, but I like the sound of porch later -- as "deck" has connotations of privacy, or boats... but porches are often in front -- and my porch faces the parking lot.

The scene:
It's sunny, not too warm and really windy today. I have NPR on the radio, and the cottonwood trees sound like a really loud waterfall.

I have a nice variety of plants on my porch -- flowers, herbs and a semi-sickly looking tomato plant.

The plan:
I need to get some grading done and to finish my ethical theory midterm... so I can post it and it will automatically open when I want the questions released etc...

One of the reasons I like working on the porch is that I seem to give myself permission to do small acts of procrastination, but I generally don't stray too far from my actual tasks. Also, it's pretty, shady and very inviting.... and my neighbors do kind of amusing things...

So far -- I've seen one bunch come home from Costco -- with muffins and boxes of macaroni and cheese.

The far more 'amusing' bit is that someone is moving out -- and it's not me! They're moving from my end of the building, so their truck is directly below my deck. Yesterday seemed to be a comedy of errors, including one of them pounding on the door yelling to be let in... So far today I've just seen a couple of women moving a box spring into a mostly empty truck.

So -- back to work for now, but updates later...

Lots of general coming and going -- along with a little bit of lusting on my part after the patio set on the next porch down.

I wonder about the moving folks -- There seems to be only a couple of women moving things --but, they are kind of big things, stuff that more experienced movers would have put in the truck first -- like couches and beds.

I also don't remember seeing either of these women yesterday. Yesterday's crew was two obnoxious couples... skanky girls and loud boys. Today it's two pretty serious young women, neither of whom are the skanky girls from yesterday.... and, no boys.

I wonder if this is the end of lease break-up move? Their last act as a couple is to rent/borrow a truck to move out of the apartment. He gets it one day, she gets it the next... hmmm....

I'm learning that sitting on the porch speculating about the lives of my neighbors can be kind of fun!

Update - and a secret letter to the dude by the door...
Yo, moron, can't you read the 'no smoking' sign -- that applies to the area near the door... like the sign says. Just because you can't see me, doesn't mean I can't smell your stinky cigs... stop it.

Update --
I've just figured out another advantage to using on-line course management software -- I can hand back papers without having to write grades on them! The grade goes into the program and all I do is write comments on the paper.

For more complicated assignments, I'll include a grading matrix -- but, for this one, I just made comments and assigned grades on-line. Now I don't have to worry that someone will see someone's grades -- blah, blah, blah....

Final porch update --
I'm done with the grading and have a good start on the ethical theory midterm -- so, my porch time was productive.

I've also seen a bunch of icky hicks come and go from my place... I really hope that most of them don't live here, but I'm afraid they do... sigh.

I also saw a daddy and his little girl headed to a birthday party -- or, rather bringing a party to someone. I kind of imagine that they're going to visit Grandma in the home, complete with a birthday cake and presents -- and that the person having the birthday is the little girl. She was adorable in a pink dress and white sandals -- she's probably 4ish.. maybe turning 5.

The best bit, from a hope for my building perspective, was a very well-dressed black family carrying a car seat/infant carrier. They looked like they'd just finished church and lunch with family -- and will now settle in for a bit of reading or a nap all around. The sad thing is that I don't think they live here...

So -- now to bring all the stuff in from the porch and maybe take a nap before steak salad for dinner...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

A taste of summer...

For under $20.00 I got the following from the farmer's market:
  • 4 tomatos
  • a pint of strawberries
  • lettuce
  • spinach
  • green onions
  • yummy bread
A trip to the grocery store got me:
  • olive oil
  • mozzarella
  • ham
  • garlic
  • steak
On the porch I'm growing:
  • lettuce
  • chives
  • basil
  • tarragon
  • mint
  • catnip
  • lavender
  • sage
  • tomatoes
I've decided to start making salad dressings -- they aren't hard, if you mess them up you've only used a small amount of ingredients, and the homemade ones are both more healthy and taste better.

Today I did mozzarella, tomato, basil salad. It was really good.

This weekend we'll eat steak salad -- at least once. I've found a bunch of recipes for blu cheese vinaigrette, so I'll probably make one up that includes the best parts of a couple of them.

We'll also have chef salad and a few other treats --

Friday, June 26, 2009

ummm... no

One student thought he could just miss the first week of summer without problem.

Another student's MOTHER e-mailed to ask if her little darling (a full-time student at a very conservative Christian college with a so-so academic reputation) could "join" my class in the second week.

Maybe this works for other courses, in non-summer sessions or whatever -- but, in logic they're already taking their first exam next week. There are only 3 exams -- and those points are most of the grade.

I'm NOT meeting with these students before class on Monday to teach them from the ground up.

I'm also not about to let a student into my class that I know has missed too much to be successful, no matter how brilliant his mommy thinks he is.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Farrah and MJ...

... and my childhood.

We 'played' Charlie's Angles -- my best elementary school girlfriends and I. Down the hill from where we were supposed to be on the elementary school playground. I was the only blonde, so I got to "be" Jill.

It was secret, it was kind of subversive and rebellious, and it was fun.

The father of one of those girlfriends (M) was a lawyer, they lived in a big house and had money to buy a VCR well before my family --- and my girlfriend had an actual recording of a couple of Charlie's Angles episodes.

Fast forward to high school --

M and I aren't close anymore -- I was a band geek, she was a cool choir girl --

We were assigned to be locker partners our freshman year.

Our only dispute was about which poster to put up --- I was a Prince fan -- she liked Michael Jackson. We compromised and put up one of each.

Fast forward again to this year --

I TIVO'd the show "Farah's Story" -- and watched it when my own hair was still growing back in... to see Farah without her hair made me feel just a little bit better about losing mine.

I'll be honest, I'm not a Michael Jackson fan. I'm sorry he died suddenly, if only because I know it will be hard for the people who loved him. But -- Farrah -- I'll miss her.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sometimes making a stink...

... works out.

We've been complaining about noise in the primary philosophy classroom for about 5 years. The Administer Selected to deal with Stuff ignored our requests -- even when raised by a dean or two...

The meeting to discuss stuff in ASS's realm was in a time I consistently taught class -- so I couldn't go.

Finally, brilliant new dean suggested I encourage my students to give 'input' to ASS.

Not long before finals week, I went to my students with ASS's contact information. I also went to the group of students who were ALWAYS the problem -- and told them that I didn't like having to tell them to be quiet, that I realized that they were only having fun, but noise in my classroom disrupts 40-50 students at a time and ASS was contemplating making their favorite hang out spot off limits. I gave them ASS's contact information. They said they'd call right away...

Imagine my surprise when I was CC'd on an e-mail with a host of possible solutions -- ASS suggested a few things -- but, he'd done that before and nothing changed -- so, while it seemed like it had potential, I wasn't getting excited.

Until yesterday -- when I walked into the classroom and saw an actual change. A couple of additional changes are in the works, and since they're pretty much up to new brilliant dean I suspect they'll be in place before the problem students come back in the fall.

So -- YEA!!!!! It seems to have worked.

Getting writing done... what seems to work for me

First of all -- I should be clear about a few things:
  1. I'm writing this post when I should be writing my dissertation -- so I don't always follow my own advice.
  2. I've tried many other alternatives, which worked after a fashion.
  3. I'm not so sure I'm producing good stuff, but I am producing something. The determination of quality is completely separate from the number of pages :).
So -- how to get stuff done in the summer --- my view:
  • The place is important: Wherever you're writing should be comfortable. For me that means the desk only has stuff I need to write -- no teaching stuff, no misc stuff, no bills etc.
  • The atmosphere is important: If you need quiet, or don't -- make that happen. I've recently changed from having chick-talk radio on in the background to ipod playlists -- and Hubby assures me that making playlists counts in dissertation time.
  • Having a schedule is important: Start with an idea of how many hours you want to put into it -- and then plan to do something afterward.
  • Writing regularly is important: This was a huge surprise to me -- but it makes a lot of sense. Even if you can only do a short bit on some days, being consistent means you don't have to go back and remember what you did before -- so it's much more efficient.
  • Counting all writing work is important: You should count the writing, reading and thinking time in your scheduled time. Sometimes I just stare out the window -- it worked for Kant, it might work for me :).
  • Minimize distractions: If you feel compelled to dip into facebook or e-mail, do so -- but don't get into long discussions... also, make a to do list for later.... if you write it down, you'll remember to do it later, so it won't be on your mind when you are trying to think.
  • Stay in the chair / but take breaks as needed: I think of dissertation time as 'chair time', but sometimes, when I'm stuck, I'll get up and walk around to think -- sometimes I'll load the dishwasher or do something else that doesn't require thought. I don't turn on the TV, pick up fun reading or other things that will actually distract me... like writing a blog post :).
  • Have a plan: Set a goal for your project, set sub-goals and then write them on your calendar. For each day that you achieve the day's goals, make a big X on the calendar -- this helps you see your momentum. I've done this on my desk pad calendar... and so far it's worked. Also, have a plan to reward yourself for good behavior.
Now, to do my two hours - then to the pool...

Monday, June 22, 2009

New Summer "normal"

I start summer classes today... The schedule is kind of odd, but it may work out well -- I do a class from 4:00-5:45 MWTh and another from 6:00-9:30 MW.

Both classes I've taught before, and the 4:00 class is partially on-line -- which I have all set up.

The grading shouldn't be terrible -- but, I'll still have 70 students, two preps and 6 weeks to do it.

The trick is that I still want to make progress on my dissertation -- and I'll still wake up early.

So -- the plan seems to be 7:00-9:00 dissertation.
9:00-- maybe pool, maybe go back to bed for a bit :).
12ish -- go to campus to get ready & clean my office.
4:00 -- start teach-a-thon.
9:30 collapse

Thursday, June 18, 2009

0 to...

2,442 words -- in two days.

The Selective Conscientious Objection chapter is taking shape...

My goal is to have a start on all the sections I think I need by tomorrow... which is pretty reasonable.

I start teaching summer classes on Monday, so my writing time will be more limited and thus it should be a good time to do the reading/research necessary to flesh out each of the sections I started this week.

Earlier this week I saw an episode of Voyager in which a medical image of a person emerged starting from the skeleton on out to the fully-formed person. I think writing is this way. The initial ideas and argument are the bones. Adding the muscles, tendons and organs is the hard meaty part of the writing and it's all finished off by adding the skin and clothing that's the polishing part of the writing.

So far chapters 1-3 are fully-formed but skinless. Chapter 4 has most of the basic muscle groups in place, but no organs. Chapter 5 is a weird combination -- kind of like a person with nothing below the waist -- (a transporter accident, perhaps) -- what's there is fully-formed and polished, but it's missing a lot.

Yea -- not a bad place to be for mid-June, eh?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

One icky thing about academic summer schedules..

.. is that people think we have the summer "off".

NO -- you dumb *itch, I've been working (mostly) since 6:45... yes, at my desk, doing work stuff when you were rolling your lazy ass over for another hour of sleep. Well before you got to the office we've had our caffeine. About the time you were rolling into the office and checking your Facebook, I was eating "lunch".

When you see me at the pool around noon, I've already been up for 6-7 hours and worked for at least four.

So -- when I say we might be napping at 3:30, it isn't unreasonable. Especially since we might be up late too.

Don't tell me I have the summer "off" --

Monday, June 15, 2009

In case you're wondering...

... I can cram about 150.00 worth of Costco groceries into my apartment kitchen... but, the formerly empty fridge is no full, full, full!

Domestic day & an afternoon on the porch...

The Queen and the Minion didn't manage to mess things up too bad -- not like other times when the clean-up continued for days...

but, it seems that I'm not quite ready to be back in 'write the darned dissertation' mode either.

So, I decided that we needed a Costco run (which we do, no groceries for a while before my week in Florida = Costco) -- but, I also realized that the fridge was full of stuff that needed to go.

Once I started to throw stuff away, I saw how icky the shelves and things actually are... so, they came out and got washed.

Now, it's all dripping -- while I take a quick break with what we've come to call 'fake Mt. Dew' -- i.e. Roundy's "Mountain FURY".

Plus, we've been here for nearly two years and I don't remember doing this before.... so, it was time.

Soon enough Hubby will be out of the tub, I'll shower and we'll go shop.

Sometime this afternoon will be both porch and pool time.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Home sweet home.....

... where the wild animals aren't lethal.

Seriously, there are alligators all over the state of Florida, sharks in the water and the latest thing was news of a poisonous caterpillar...

Yikes -- no wonder Floridians are either in air conditioning, the pool or in shallow ocean water -- every place else is dangerous.

It was also icky-hot there. 95+ with humidity -- which, by the way, they NEVER talk about on the weather. In BNstate, they give you the temp and the dew point -- which lets you know what it actually feels like.

Either, the humidity wasn't unusual, or they didn't think folks would understand the concept. Up here, it's akin to reporting the wind-chill.... a bit of information everyone needs and expects.

As you can see from Mom's photos... we had a good time. And -- for all I complain about it, I'd do Florida in the summer again -- at least May or June. For now, it's good to be back in BNstate...

maybe I'll spend August in the state boundaries.... hummmm.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

About that shuttle launch...

Included in the plan for the week was a picnic breakfast to watch the space shuttle.

To get to a good place and make sure we saw the sunrise, we left the house at 5 AM.

As we drove down the road -- the news told us the shuttle launch had been scrubbed...

but, we were up.

So, instead we took a drive down the beach and found a good place to see the sun come up.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Mom has a blog!

Go say hi to Mom!!

She's writing a blog from Florida...

and has a photo of my feet up as her first post... hmmm.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

We're going to NYC!!

I hate to admit it, but I'm 40 years old and have never been to New York --

There are a couple of major US cities I have no desire to go to -- Houston, Dallas and Atlanta -- to name them.

I've been to LA, Chicago, Seattle and many of the smaller places --- really, can you call yourself well-traveled domestically unless you've been to Ely, MN?? or Seward, NE??

But -- I've never been to New York -- and that will change in July.

Hubby's doing a 3 week thing in some city outside NYC in July -- so, we're going to meet in Manhattan for a weekend.

It helps that Hubby's been on a poker winning streak that will pay for the trip :).

So, if you had from Friday late-afternoon until Sunday morning in the city, in July -- what would you do?

The cat's out of the bag...

First of all -- remember, Mom reads my blog (HI mom!!)...

Second -- remember, Mom's into month 4ish of a 10 day trip to Florida to visit my grandparents.

Third -- my mom is now taking care of my 92 year-old grandma. Grandma is doing very well, but it hasn't been easy for mom...

So, a while back mom's sister (my aunt) proposed that I come for a visit. I thought it was a good idea, and decided also that we should surprise mom --- because mom likes surprises.

I booked the ticket, then couldn't say anything about it here or on facebook -- lest I ruin the surprise. Meanwhile, mom's planning on buying a new laptop and asking for advice... and it's all I can do not to say, 'we'll do that when I get there'.

Monday afternoon I made a 'checking in' call to mom --- not long before I packed and headed out the door to see her.

Monday night I flew into Orlando. Tuesday morning aunt and I set off for grandma's place near the Atlantic coast (Sebastian, FL to be exact --- between Melbourne an Vero Beach....).

About noon, mom's expecting Aunt or the meals on wheels person -- and I walk in the door.

The look on her face was priceless. She actually was surprised, even though grandma spilled the beans asking when I was going to be there on Monday, mom thought grandma was mixed-up... no, Grandma was right :) -- she just can't keep a secret :).

So -- the person mom hires to sit with grandma when she needs to go out for a while came over yesterday afternoon, and will be here all day today.

Yesterday we got the laptop -- and I figured out how to make the wireless router talk to the craptastic cable modem... (removing the cable modem battery?? not in the help desk's checklist... but, necessary to make it work!!). So, now mom has a spiffy new laptop and can waste as much time as she'd like on the internet!!

Today -- we're doing the beach. Sun and sand, with our books -- until we can't do anymore, then some nature stuff and a late lunch someplace called "Squid Lips".... which comes highly recommended by my cousin.

I'll be here until Sunday....

Monday, June 08, 2009

Cat update...

... or, why my 'office mates' may be more disruptive than yours :).

The Queen (on the right) and the Minio -- on my desk.

I'm pretty sure that they let me work at THEIR desk.

I tried to get photos of them sitting in the same position, so you could see that he's almost her size -- but, he doesn't hold still for very long -- and this was the best I could come up with.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

How to spend a rainy Summer Sunday...

  • Nerd Tv -- a combination of Voyager and Bones
  • Cats -- napping
  • Human naps
  • A quick trip to the library
  • A nice warm dinner
  • A high score on Tetris...

On men's facial hair..

What's the deal with those little patches of hair -- or thin strips of hair around their jaws?

The little patches under their lower lips must be for catching drool.. and someone must have told these twerps that the thin strip makes them look more manly.

guys -- these 'styles' make you look like stupid asses... either shave, or have a decent beard. Don't go halfway -- and, if you can't grow a decent looking beard, admit that you aren't man enough to do so and learn to love shaving.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Another chapter in percolation...

The jus post bellum chapter is in percolation.

Right now, I like it -- which is why it needs to be tucked away for a while so I can see what's wrong with it.

That makes three chapters in pretty good shape, in three weeks.

Now -- I need to work on my summer classes and think about what comes next...

But, for now I'm going to the pool for a bit, then shopping (to spend some of hubby's poker winnings on frivolous stuff from here. There may be a stop at Office Max and/or the container store as well... hmmm....

Then, an appointment with the instructional design guy from BNCC -- who should be able to help with a couple of technical issues...

Monday, June 01, 2009

Another project -- done!

We have a DVD habit.... a bad one.

As a result, the DVDs were threatening to take over our livingroom.

A while back, in an effort to solve the problem, I put all the movies and CDs in those books...

That worked ok for the CDs, because we promptly changed to using our ipods -- so we never look in the CD books for anything.

The DVD books were less efficient and we got into them more often, which resulted in loose DVDs hanging around.

I also didn't do anything with the sets of TV series -- until yesterday.

Hubby and I decided something needed to change -- so we set off for Office Max. We bought paper sleeves and storage boxes. I spent most of yesterday and a couple of hours this morning getting rid of the packaging. All the DVDs are in their own little sleeves, the movies are in alphabetic order (complete with tabs :) , and the TV series are grouped together. I extracted all the important information from the packaging -- it's grouped together behind the neat little boxes...

The only series we decided not to put into the system are the STTNG collector's boxes --

YEA for fininshing a project -- now, back to the big D.