Sunday, November 14, 2010

A new blog... and a link that works..

So, FB and I decided to start a blog... leftyconcarne

We're going to talk about food, life, politics and whatever comes into our twisted little minds as we navigate life, love and the internet.

Come give us some love -- or, at least put us in your reader... please.

bonus --we refer to one another by our first names -- so, you can figure out that much :).

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A quick update...

  • Classes are going well -- my logic students are kicking butt -- and my ethics students are humming along just fine.
  • Today we talk about stripping in ethics -- always fun.
  • I've lost 54 lbs since June -- exercise and eating less... the boring way..
  • I've joined the gym FB and I go most days. I alternate treadmill and weights -- and am feeling stronger all the time.
  • Hubby's doing well in law school, as expected.
  • Super-Mom's in Flordia for the winter -- although, we haven't really had winter here yet :).
  • The Queen and the Minion are having a complex relationship lately -- lots of spats and lots of cuddles...
  • The hardbound copies of my dissertation arrived -- it's really, really official -- I'm Dr. ItPF... amazing.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Transitions are tricky times... the leaves are coming off the trees, the weather is changing drastically and things are a bit unsettled.

Super-mom is now officially off to Florida for the winter, just in time.

My students are starting to realize that their past work is limiting their future grades -- and that they still have a lot to do.

I'm probably catching a cold -- which sucks, but once you've had chemo, a cold is nothing...

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Packing it up...

... my dissertation materials, that is.

My home office has been a shambles for a while... I realized how long it's been a mess when I saw that my desk pad calendar started with August 1 (btw, the first time FB and I had coffee was noted there... hmmm).

So, I cleaned up and packed away my dissertation paperwork. It feels good.

I left out my current project on cyber warfare, but the rest of it is in a box in the corner -- where it belongs.

I also reviewed my feminist epistemology paper from a few years ago -- I'm presenting it at a faculty brown bag next week -- and I was happy to see that the argument actually makes sense, even three years after I submitted it to fulfill Ph.D. requirements... YEA!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Funny how things wok out...

I had dinner with someone who needs a psuedonym..

For now we'll call her New Girl... she's a new member of our department... and she's pretty cool.

She's from another part of the country -- and she's loving the fall leaves.... she's also looking forward to winter, which is refreshing around here.

Last night we had Vietnamese food -- (our server was the restaraunt owner's daughter -- and a former student who remembered me from 6 years ago :) .

Afterward, we saw an intersting philosophy lecture at a local SLAC -- which got us thinking and talking on the way home..

Perhaps the best part is that I found out that NG loves, loves, loves to write logic problems. I hate, hate, hate to write logic problems -- but, I don't have a problem writing logic text. We agree that the current logic books suck -- so, I think we're going to end up writing a logic textbook together...

What's actually pretty cool is that NG has a bunch of logic problems already written -- so, I suppose I can start writing while she finishes her dissertation... hmmmmm....

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A fun, relaxing Tuesday...

.. so far I've:

gone back to bed for a nap
texted with my buddies
graded some on-line quizzes
sent an e-mail, but haven't checked my school e-mail..
read some blogs and facebook
met FB's parents and watched him bake an apple pie
played with some dogs
shared a subway sandwich with FB
drank a chi tea latte fusion

FB is doing some business now -- and after a while we're gonna go workout...
then, maybe a burger?

not a bad way to spend a Tuesday ---eh?

Thursday, October 07, 2010

On conferences, workouts and life...

A good friend/colleague and I went to a local big-idea conference. It was lots of fun to go, listen to the best speakers and just think and learn. It wasn't in either of our "fields", but we kept finding interesting things about both the presentations and the presenters... lots to think about.

At the conference I met a really fun old-friend of my colleague.... I eventually told her that I had a mastectomy, pointed out the breast form and she asked to touch it... it cracked me up... nobody else has done that...

I've also joined a gym -- the same gym as FB... he's been working out for a while and persuaded me that I really do need to join him -- so, I did. It should be fun --and he'll keep me on track.

Today FB is coming my direction to talk to someone at BNCC about their program. I know he'll be a good fit in it... and I hope he's settled on doing it. It would be a postitive move in his life -- and in the end I know he'll be fantastic at the job.

I'm also stunned that I'm about half way done with the on-line grading stuff for my hybrid class... we're in week 7 of 13... can you believe it? There's more at the end... for some stupid reason we have a 16 week semester... plus final's week... (who thought that up??) -- but, so far I've been caught up on grading all along... which is pretty impressive given how much I've been out of town, playing and generally not paying attention to work :).

Friday, October 01, 2010

Breast Cancer Awareness Month....

Yikes --- for someone with breast cancer, it's a long month.

Frankly, I've had two years and 5 months of Breast Cancer Awareness.... the rest of you are only aware of it in October, lucky you...

I'm aware of it every day, in my pjs I'm lop sided -- in my bra, I can feel the breast form... yep, aware.

I look in the mirror and see the thin hair at the front where it will never come back after chemo... yep, aware.

I feel my left thumb -- where there is a little bit of permanent numbness due to chemo... yep, aware.

I have a clean PET scan report on my fridge.... yep, aware.

I have a lovely oncologist and his nurse's number in my phone... yep, aware.

I have annother check up with my oncologist in January... yep, aware.

Go ahead and do all the fundraising stuff you want, please -- if it helps you, do it. Buy stuff with pink ribbons if you really think part of the proceeds go toward helping breast cancer research. Run, walk, crawl sing or do whatever you want to do to ward off the demons of breast cancer...

I contribute in personal -- very personal -- ways. I was part of a drug study to see if the drug worked on non-metastisized breast cancer. I give individual advice to folks in my life who are struggling with it -- I'm kind of the breast cancer spokeswoman in my circle of friends and students - they come to me when they need to understand, when they need to have something helpful to say to someone they are close to. I do this all year long...

It would be easier, much, much easier for me to spend some cash and buy stuff with pink ribbons on it... and, frankly, I'm very glad that most of you don't have the kind of personal experience with the disease that I have.... so you can't contribute like I do.
Honestly, I'm glad there's a great lobby for my disease. I'm glad there's a fantastic marketing campaign for my disease. I've benefitted from those efforts both directly and indirectly -- and I'm grateful -- don't get me wrong... but, the month of October is long and full of breast cancer talk in the media etc.. and it's a constant reminder of my disease -- that it could come back and kill me.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Breast Cancer -- breast forms!!

I intentionally have a kind of odd title for this post, because I want it to pop up in serch engines..

For quite a while, I resisted getting a real breast form -- I used the cotton filled ones, they looked terrible, but that's just what I did.

One of the reasons I resisted was because the one place I knew to get a "real" one was a kind of weird place, with a pushy salesperson who insisted on putting me in an icky bra first.

It was only last month that I decided to walk in there and stand firm about wearing my own bra --- and now I have a decent breast form... it looks kinda like the real one... which is great.

That isn't the point of the post -- the point is to let folks know about how amazing Nordstroms is...

I went in for a new bra. I hadn't been properly measured etc... and I knew they were the best at it.

I walked in and immediately a sales person took charge -- measured, brought me bras, helped me sort out the breast form and did it all with such a good sense of humor and professionalism that I was completely comfortable.

What's really amazing is that, if you have a prescription for a breast form and/or bras (which mastectomy patients can easily get...), they'll submit all of it to your insurance. My insurance covers a swim form, a regular form and three bras per year -- you bet I'm going to do it...

So -- for the record -- Nordstrom's is the place you should go if you've had a mastectomy or lumpectomy and need some special help to look "normal".... I'm sure that I would have avoided two years of being uneven, had I been able to go someplace as fantastic as that -- I'll even forgive them for being at the Mall of America...

Thursday, September 23, 2010


We're about a month into the fall semester, and it still seems kind of odd..

I'm just not accustomed to having nothing ELSE to do -- work, home stuff, hang with FB -- but, no dissertation chapters to write, revise, send to Dr. Advisor -- while that is more of a relief than anything, it's also kid of odd.

Sure, I'm also department chair, but those activities were part of my non-Dr. ItPF status -- so, they don't feel extra now. For quite a while there I was teaching, dissertating and coaching debate. I quit the debate three years ago, and applied that time to the dissertation.

Now -- the dissertation is defended... I don't have to work on it -- I don't have to write chapters so my students can read them-- they're done.

My classes are on auto-pilot -- in the good way. I'm happy with them and I see no need to reinvent them. I like my assignments, the pacing of the classes and the way the students respond. So, I have no new class prep.

I promised myself that I wouldn't change books until I was Dr. ItPF - and, I didn't... now, I have the same old books... so, again, no new class prep. The thing is -- I'm kind of sure the books I have are the best ones out there... so, again, no need to change.

So -- I find myself with time on my hands -- on a regular basis... it's kinda weird. The way my on-line grading is set up, I can often get it finished on Friday or Monday between classes.... or, in a semi-concentrated span on Monday nights--- or, casually over the weekend.

I suppose things will be a bit different when my logic students start taking proof quizzes... but, I'm also very quick at grading them -- and, really -- it isn't all that challenging.

So -- the question is what's going to be my new thing -- my new challenge -- the thing that replaces the dissertation and debate coaching in my life...

FB had an interesting suggestion -- maybe I need to learn to just be -- to not be so busy. To take time to simply relax, read, enjoy just living and not be so concerned with being occupied ALL THE TIME. Hmmmm.... that's kind of hard -- given my background.

The thing is, since I was 17, I worked and went to school. I took about 3 years off in Denver/Omaha -- in the middle of my BA -- but, since my junior year in HS, I've been working and schooling. The work and the schools have changed -- but, the combo has been a fact of my life for 24 years. That's a whole adult -- a fully-functional college educated adult's life --- I've been working and schooling.

For three of the last 5 years there was a long-distance marriage -- so, there was working, schooling and driving to Omaha... last year, the dissertation got more intense, but they hubby came home -- so, it balanced out.

Now -- Hubby is really wrapped up in his 2L year -- and I'm much less busy. I think I like it... and I'm seriously considering FB's "just be" suggestion -- but, it's hard --

hmmmm.... maybe that IS my new "project"... because it is hard, it's a challenge -- and once I accomplish it, I can go on to other challenges...

or, does that kinda miss the point?

FB -- if you're reading -- log in and comment please... the rest of you too...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I should be clear... about FB

... because, in a previous post about FB, I was kind of ambiguous.. and I've been thinking about this a lot lately..

If FB and I were a romantic/financial unit -- I'd trust him to manage our money. From what I can see, he's actually quite good with what he has -- I'd just make the assumption that I'd pay all the bills... which would be fine for me.

The thing is, money isn't all that important to FB, which is something I really like about him. He's interested in being able to pay his bills, not buy a huge house in the suburbs -- and impress his neighbors. That's quite appealing. He also knows how to have fun without spending a wad of cash -- which is something I appreciate.

The other really nice thing about FB is that he is quite sensitive to others -- and looks for ways to be helpful / supportive to his friends. Tonight we had a good talk about my post-dissertation life -- and, as usual, he was perceptive and correct... that's why I hang out with him.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

yea -- it's me --so what?

Hey -- you... the person who printed out some of my blog posts and left them in my BNCC mailbox.

Yea -- that's me, so what? Lots of folks have already found it -- and don't care.

I know folks from BNCC read the blog --- and have for years. Frankly, I doubt they read anymore because it's actually a pretty boring and self-serving blog... but, it's mine and that's the way I am sometimes.

I don't know what the point of printing the stuff and leaving it in my box actually IS... because, you see, you didn't leave a note, sign it or anything. Just a pile of printouts from my little blog.

Read back a while, I broke the code kind of -- I have all kinds of identifying photos and other stuff on my blog. I was NEVER trying to hide from BNCC folks. All I wanted to do was to make sure that a) a stranger googling me wouldn't find it and b) my dissertation committee wouldn't get upset and deny me the Ph.D. (like they would -- they're cool, but I didn't know that when I started..).

Further, my hubby, FB, friends, relatives and mom read it -- although, again, I'm not sure why.... so, if you're trying to tell me that you know -- at least be an adult and sign the printouts.

ps... the printouts just went in the recycling.. and I'm done thinking about it. If you have something to say, you clearly know where I am.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Hope for "normal"

Tomorrow I have another check-up with my oncologist.

So far all of my PET scans have been "normal"... and, I hope tomorrow is no exception.

I'm trying really hard to hang onto my own advice of not being worried about medical test results I don't have yet...

I'll let you know how things turn out...

Thursday, September 09, 2010

An unusual situation...

...or, as FB's mother called it, an "awkward" situation... which is what my friendship with FB seems to be from the outside.... as a reminder, FB stands for Fake-Boyfriend -- (or, I suppose Facebook Boyfriend -- because we reconnected via facebook)... not F'ck buddy...

From the outside, it seems odd that a happily married ItPF and a single and straight FB would be very good friends. The kind of friends who communicate every day-- usually via exchange of texts -- who do routine errands together (going to Costco with FB is pretty fun!!), and who support one another in awkward or emotional family situations... FB and I generally travel well together in the car -- and Hubby doesn't have the time to do that stuff..

The thing is, the IfPF/FB thing works -- for us.

Hubby is seemingly what makes this awkward --- from the outside. Oddly enough, this week circumstances made it look as if FB were upset with me for something (he was just napping... for a long, long time -- thus, not responding to texts...) -- and Hubby was pretty concerned that I'd lose FB as my friend... and his.

The thing is, it's impossible to know how the FB situation would have happened -- or IF it would have happened, if I were single. Would we be such close friends with the potential for nookie looming out there? Would we be such close friends if one of us wanted nookie but the other wasn't interested? Would we be great friends who also have sex? It's impossible to know -- I know that FB and I are compatible in many ways that make for a great relationship -- but, incompatible in ways that make for a great marriage... We have very similar values, hopes and expectations of our partners -- but, very different acceptances of financial risk and acceptable spending patterns.

Maybe our friendship is exactly what it is because our compatibilities match and our differences aren't an issue... I don't have to worry that he won't be able to pay the cable bill -- and he doesn't have to be concerned that I'd easily spend $100 on a red leather bag --of which I seem to have a plethora... or $25 on a pedi -- and $75 on a wax...

In the end, there are only four people who really need to be concerned about the ItPF/FB relationship -- The two of us, Hubby and FB's son (with whom I get along with famously..). Those are the people directly impacted by our friendship -- who could be hurt by it if they didn't understand it -- and who see us individually and together on a regular basis... and anybody else who isn't directly concerned can suck it!! :).

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

That good kind of tired...

It's near the end (for me, anyway) of week 3.

Students are digging into the material, getting some grades back and asking good questions.

They're getting more demanding -- but, in a good way.

The clueless ones are starting to figure out that others have clues and they need them too.

Class is becoming more of a cooperative venture -- and each class is taking on its own charachteristics... until now, they were all the same... one blurr of unfamiliar faces... but, now they've got some personality...

Wednesday is a big teaching day for me -- but, not impossible. Tonight, I'm happy that Hubby has an evening class and that FB has guitar students -- because I need a little quiet and will be decompressed by the time hubby gets home and/or FB starts the texting ritual.

In the meantime, I have a good playlist going, a pizza on the way (EXACTLY as Ilike it) and some student administrivia to deal with... while the Minion flips out... good thing he has energy because I sure don't..

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Getting stuffy....

A paraphrased student e-mail, with the real salutation...


I can't be bothered to stay for the whole semester and my friends found a great deal on a trip to Mexico -- where we can drink and get pot easily... so, is there any way to take the final early?

No -- you f'ck nuckloe.. unless you can prove it's an excused absence.... and good luck with that...

Ummm... I'm Dr. ItPF -- or , I'm I -- or even Dr. I, but "hey"... a bit too familiar... just because I use humor in class doesn't mean that I want to be your buddy, facebook friend or confidant. I'm here to teach you s'it... not be your pal.

Monday, August 30, 2010

End of summer...

FB and his son came north with me this weekend to see Super Mom...

Here are FB and FBS, fishing -- something FBS has recently decided is a thing he'd like to do.

It was really a perfect way to spend a couple of hours -- calm by the lake, waves lapping, trees rustling and me with my camera.

The rest of the trip was good too -- seeing Super-Mom, hanging out around the fire and enjoying a beautiful part of the area --- in a whole new context.. You see, FB and FBS are guys, and talk like guys... so, I got a good dose of guy talk and perspective. It was a lot of fun, lots of laughter and occasional eye-watering (either from my companions, or laughter -- I'm not sure which).

Yea -- I'd do it again with those two -- what a pair!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Adventures in blended classes...

I did the first blended Biomedical Ethics class summer before last.. it was only moderately successful... they mostly did the on-line work, we had mostly normal classes and the only reason it was a blended class was because we needed to smoosh it into a time slot...

After that, I did a hybrid class where the students came 2 of 3 MWF class meetings, and I did all three --so, they did an hour's worth of on-line activity and I increased my workload by 1/3. The idea was that smaller class sizes for part of the class would increase class discussion and participation... but, not really.

I tried it again this past summer with about the same results. Now i'm starting three Ethics sessions that meet 75 minutes per week in person, with the other half on-line. Now I have an afternoon and a whole Tuesday to do their grading -- and I see them on Wed and Thurs -- with Thursday being THE Ethics day... with a 2:15 section and a 6:00-7:15 section.

I like this arrangement because it makes them write more -- which means I grade more... but, now at least I have the time to do it.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

saving/selling souls...

Hubby's doing on-campus interviews this week... all at law firms (cuz, that's where lawyers work, mostly...).

Wise Woman made a comment about working the corporate law job -- and the climb to partner... The implication was that hubby had to sell his soul to make it happen...

I wonder if it has to be that way? I can see that it does happen, but I'm also holding out hope that Hubby's age and my status as an ethicist might make his career different...

One way or the other, Hubby's doing the interviews and hopefully will have a nice job as a result.. think good employment thoughts for him....

Saturday, August 21, 2010

end of summer fun...

After Doody Daze (or, duty days... in admin speak), I was worn out and kind of overwhelmed.

On Thursday night I sat and stared into space for about four hours -- mostly because I needed the quiet time...

Friday, I decided that I needed some pal time -- so, I reconnected with old colleagues and welcomed new folks to our hallway -- in other words, I skipped a meeting or two..

Later in the afternoon I met FB to have a drink with an old friend from high school -- We had some good talk about life and love -- and FB drove his 85 Trans Am with the T tops off-- which was perfect summer fun in and of itself...

Afterward meeting our old friend, FB needed to make a Costco run -- which was exactly the kind of activity I needed, lots of laughing and talking -- and he was spending money... while I (for once) wasn't.

Today, I'm meeting another old friend for lunch - then we'll meet FB for coffee... of which he drinks a lot...

after all this fun, I may need to go back to work to get a break from my social life... hmmm...

ps... Hubby is getting good responses in OCI -- which law folks will get :) -- for the rest of you, the equivalent is having a nice number of conference interviews.... think good thoughts for hubby next week.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

the end of summer...

Today is my last real day of summer break.

In some ways, the summer has been unremarkable -- hubby and I didn't take a real vacation.

I spent most of the summer by and in the pool -- which was lovely, but not earth shattering...

On the other hand, it's been pretty remarkable --

I'm now Dr. ITPF --- or ITPF, Ph.D.... however it happens.

I've spent a lot of time with my friends this summer -- and have made a new, very good, friend in FB.

I've lost 30 lbs -- I have a lot more to go, but that's remarkable in and of itself -- as the only other time I was able to do so involved lots of vomit...

So, I'll go back to school thinner, tanner, more well rested and with a new outlook on life and teaching... which is probably the best way to end a summer.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Here are the Queen and the Minion -- in their proper places... he's looking like he's about to get into something, and she's looking at him like he's not worthy of her time... welcome to life in casa ITPF.

This is my garden this year -- two big pots. Those are my recently pedicured toes... The pot on the left is an aggressive bunch of flowers -- they stick outside of the bars on the other side... on the right is about half catnip with some basil, chives and dill in the other half...the viney flowering plant has set up an annex in the other pot -- so it's tendrils are wound around the innocent basil and catnip plants.

This is a photo of FB by the big lake -- at this point, FB really didn't know what he was headed into at Super-Mom's... One of FB's better qualities is that he doesn't judge others -- combine that with being a good sport and a supportive friend and you have a pretty neat person.

FB and I seem to travel well together. Since Hubby's going to be up to his eyeballs in the law for the foreseeable future, FB and I may go roaming around the countryside... So I doubt this will be the last 'back to the camera' shot --

Special message to jo(e) -- FB was quite grateful that I don't require nudity in my blog photos :). That would have been kinda awkward where we were...

Monday, August 09, 2010

The power of facebook...

For every complaint about Facebook, I want you to think about this as a counter..

I went to see Super-Mom's husband over the weekend... FB came along for moral support and because he loves the woods...

When we got there, it became clear to me that Super-Mom's husband wasn't going to meaningfully understand visitors for too much longer.

Early this morning, I sent a facebook message to his natural children -- who live in corn state. I didn't like to do it in a facebook message, but that's the only reliable contact I have with them -- they're my facebook friends.

They're on their way up to see him tomorrow.

The next time someone posts something dumb and you curse Facebook -- also remember that it's a means of communication that is bringing together a father and his daughters, most likely for the last time.

It must be the cycle of the moon... or something...

I seem to be all about new/old friends this summer...

I've had more contact with the Red Head -- and her sister.

Lots more contact with Curly -Red, and more in-depth conversations than we've had since we were 17 and solving the problems of the world on our dock..

FB is also from high school era...

and now, I'm back in touch with a dear friend from grad school -- whom I thought was lost to me forever!!

Also -- I've just now gone out and "friended" a bunch of folks from grad school... I've defended and it's been submitted -- they really can't do anything to me now.... not like they would, but still...

Sunday, August 08, 2010

back from he woods..

It was a good visit..

FB is a wonderful sport --- and very supportive. FB and Super-Mom got along famously..

Poor FB had a pretty short sleep last night, I expect he'll sleep well tonight... the poor boy had to take a nap on our couch once we hit my house..

Saturday, August 07, 2010

A trip to the woods...

I may have mentioned that Super-Mom's hubby isn't well... as in, dying.

Super-Mom has been caring for him since March...

I think it's time for me to go up and see SM's hubby one more time...

In many ways, and for many reasons, it's probably better to take FB with me than Hubby... I know Hubby's there for me in all of this -- but, he doesn't need to make this trip to have that be the case.

So -- today, FB and I head for the north woods... we'll be back tomorrow.

A new character...

So -- there seems to be a new character in my little drama... and they need a psuedoname...

So, I'm going to use Fake Boyfriend -- because, he's male, he's a friend and we don't sleep together... thus, the fake part.

FB was a pal in high school -- and we recently reconnected via facebook. It didn't take long to figure out that we get along and have views of the world that are similar enough so as to be compatible - but different enough so as to be interesting.

FB and I started out on the same life path -- but his journey went a very different direction than mine. That's part of what makes FB interesting.

So -- one of my new projects is to find a girl for FB -- so, ladies -- if you're in my metro, single and have a bit of life on you -- and left in you -- and you'd like to date a great dad who plays the guitar and cooks... let me know...

It may be the case that FB ends up in a program on my campus -- he'd be excellent as an X -- if he decides that's what he really wants to do... So, FB is likely to be a recurring character... and, hopefully he'll have a RG...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

I have very diverse peeps...

I started thinking about folks who I'd consider my "peeps" -- these are people who I'd call if the world fell apart for me. They'd be able to protect me, help me put things together and make sense of it all -- Hubby is the primary 'peep' and my pal Sara will always be an honorary peep, 'cuz if I find myself dead, she'll have to help me-- kind of weird, but true -- .. among the others, they are:
  • Straight and gay
  • Male and female
  • Married, single and divorced
  • Parents -- ages range from 1-22 (I think...), 3 daughters, 5 sons including one transgender f- to m... and another with special needs.
  • Ph.D, MA, BAs, AAs, and degrees from the school of hard knocks
  • More than one has been to jail.
  • Some hardly travel, others have travelled a lot
  • Some have cheated on their spouses
  • Some have been cheated on
  • At least one has been the "other" person...
  • At least one has been a stripper, more than one likes strippers...
  • two are former students, one of whom has cried in my office
  • One I've been friends with since 5th grade, another I knew in 5th grade
  • About half have been in the pool this year, and the rest should get their butts in the pool.
  • More than one has had a substance abuse problem
  • I've travelled with three of them, but I would travel with any of them
  • I've worked with four of them
  • Four knew me before I met hubby.
  • Four knew -- or knew of old boyfriend -- and all told me he wasn't right for me.
  • I tried to teach one of them to drive, and another to debate... the debate went better than the driving.
  • At least two are mildly bi-polar.
  • Three have diagnosed learning disabilities.
  • One refuses to join facebook -- all the others are facebook friends too --- some more active than others.
  • Four have seen me bald, one is bald.
  • Age range -- early 30s to late 40s.
  • Professions range from professor, to accountant to debt collector and music teacher
Really -- among my peeps -- I can't think of anything life could throw at me that we couldn't figure out... it's a good feeling.

Higher ed administration job searches...

So far, I've only done one -- but, I can see some basic things that may help others --

Inside Candidates --
  • Don't assume everyone "KNOWS" you and what you can do. Your search committee will more than likely know of you, but not necessarily know you and all of your strengths -- that's up to you to articulate.
  • When you articulate your strengths, we know you know about them and will draw on them in the future... otherwise, your strong performance so far could be a happy accident.
  • Make sure your materials AND your interview present you in your best light.
  • Prepare for the interview by having specific and achievable areas you could improve.
  • Make sure you come up with at least one question beyond "what's the timeline"?
All Candidates --
  • If the position announcement has a list of specific qualifications and desired qualifications, make sure your materials specifically and clearly address those areas. We won't take time to read into your materials -- trust me, we just won't.
  • Create and project an image of yourself -- are you the serious and thoughtful type? Are you the sort who is able to laugh at just about anything? Have that image in mind when you prepare for the interview.
  • If your degrees are 'academic' then highlight your leadership / professional development concerning higher ed administration.
  • If your terminal degree is in higher ed administration, then highlight your more academic accomplishments.
  • In terms of your job responsibilities -- if you were one of those 'one job, many hats' folks, organize the responsibilities so that they make sense in the context of a semi-manageable job. Otherwise, it seems like you are either unfocused or an extreme job-hopper... neither is something I want in a dean.
  • Acknowledge your areas for growth -- one candidate gave us great and achievable goals that would substantially improve hir effectiveness as a dean. It was attractive because s/he demonstrated that they know they have weaknesses and are willing to work on them.
  • Avoid portraying an us/them mentality toward faculty. Faculty are your team -- without them you'd be working at Borders --- and your students would be roaming the streets in clouds of Axe -- it wouldn't be pretty. Your classrooms would be empty and your FTE would be 0.
  • If you want to work in student services -- apply for those jobs.
  • If this job is a substantial move up for you, be ready to articulate what you think will be the next set of challenges -- and articulate reasons you are ready to tackle them.
  • A sense of humor is nearly as important as good communication skills.
  • Give us examples of working with all the "types" of college folks -- there are four basic "types" -- students, support staff, faculty and administration. It's key that you are able to relate to all of them without trying to be their friend.... (if you are the boss).
  • Have examples of times when you stood your ground on a decision, even when it was unpopular with the folks it impacted -- give the big picture justifications and be ready to explain how the situation worked out.
  • Have examples of times you needed to implement a decision with which you personally disagreed. This is key -- because lower level administration jobs have to do this all the time.
  • Have examples of situations where you needed to help someone improve their performance.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Investing in students..seems to pay off

Perhaps the only thing I regret about leaving debate is the continued, close connection with debaters. Thank goodness for Facebook -- which lets me keep track of some of them... I thought it was time for an update...

D2 -- graduated from his R1 -- and took a long road trip. D2's adventurous spirit demanded a trip like that. He's back home.. but, I'm not sure what he's up to.

V -- is sitting for the bar this week. He has the potential to be a good attorney, but things could also go tragically wrong..

P - went to grad school out of state for a bit -- coached for a bit -- and ended up settling back in BNstate -- He seems to be happy on his own -- which is a good thing.

D -- is in grad school at an R1, in something to do with political activism. He seems to be doing quite well. He's still in transition, or perhaps he's evolving.

C -- is the only one who's married -- and he has a child. He'll be a fantastic dad --- he's got a good, goofy sense of humor and a good set of core values. He's also ambitious and willing to take a risk -- and to risk looking like a fool.

Moonshadow -- is quite a puzzle. She's completed a degree at her R1, but now seems to spend a great deal of time travelling... most recently to Scandinavia. I think that, overall -- she's a free spirit, so who knows where she'll end up...

Kat -- is in a graduate program for clinical psych..

Rex -- last I knew, he was living in Red State managing a restaurant... didn't finish a degree and didn't stay with the debater he moved there with...

Sunshine -- died almost a year ago, in a car accident. Last year about this time she was staying with me -- taking refuge from some bad family and men... but, at the very end she met someone special -- and was on the way home to see him when she was killed.

Bex -- She's always had her life together -- at least on the surface. Now I think she's got many things lined up -- a really nice guy who adores her, an academic career path she can achieve. I'm confident she'll finish her Ph.D. from Red State U -- Which will be a great thing, since her greatest fault as a debater was the fact that she didn't trust her own instincts about arguments, so she often defaulted to P's vision of the round.

D1 -- he's the biggest change. From a student in my Intro to Phil class, who barely managed a C -- to a star debater in a super-star debate program (not mine ---), with a full debate scholarship... to a prestigious coaching fellowship at an R1 and writing a thesis on an important topic.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Describe the perfect Dean...

We're hiring a new Dean. New Dean will be the direct supervisor of our division and discipline.... For CCs, the Dean is kind of like a super-sized department chair... they have several divisions and sometimes lots of disciplines within those divisions.

I'll be working closely with this person for at least the next couple of years -- as department chair. This person will also evaluate me, take student complaints against me etc...

So -- if you were me, what are the characteristics you'd want to see New Dean?

What would you shy away from (career administrators, non-Ph.D.s, an MA is the minimum qual)?

What do you think about Ph.D.s in education, public ed administration etc? Especially if they have no teaching experience?

Saturday, July 03, 2010


... my students speak from personal experience.

Usually it's about the death of a parent, child or sibling -- other times it's about being a stripper or having a cousin get the death penalty.

When my students speak of direct experiences in war, it always gives me pause. Many of those experiences are as members of the US military -- but, it's becoming more common for students to start a sentence with, 'when I lived in ________, there was a war'.

It makes me remember that, while I have theoretical knowledge of war and a dissertation on the ethics of warfare, they've been there --- on both sides.

Friday, July 02, 2010

and... a fun committee...

I'm on a committee this summer.

It's an important committee. Yea -- it's summer, I should be writing and sunning - -and playing with the cats -- but, this is an important thing that has to happen quickly.

The fun thing is that the other faculty on the committee are fantastic. They are all experienced, solid and practical. They are also a lot of fun. I've worked on other things with these folks and all have a good sense of what should happen.

I have no idea who the administrators are --- but, the faculty folks will make it good.

Of student emergencies...

X -- has flaked on me before. S/he was an enthusiastic participant in Ethics, until s/he wasn't there anymore. S/he had told me that s/he had a complicated family life -- but, s/he thought the class was possible -- then, nothing.

Surprise, surprise -- X was in my logic class -- until s/he wasn't.

Yesterday was the final -- and, coincidentally, during the final exam X leaves a message of woe -- dead grandfathers in Africa, stolen cars and laptops -- and thus no way to come talk to me before the final -- all of this after being gone for nearly 2 weeks (a third of the class). I really don't know if I believe hir -- since s/he only called after s/he figured out that it was too late to withdraw from the class.

X has earned a D, and that's what s/he will get.

A -- has been a model student. Tuned in to lectures, never missing a class section, doing well on the work and showing improvement.

A e-mailed that s/he had missed a quiz because their spouse chose this week to reveal some really shocking secrets -- that they had been keeping for their whole relationship.

A wanted more time to take the quiz -- and A got it.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Summer update...

... really, it's been a pretty good summer so far.

  • I actually like my summer class students -- not enough to keep teaching them, but enough that I won't have that sinking feeling of doom if one of them takes other classes :).
  • I may have a student who wants to write logic problems for my textbook. He's smart, has an independent source of income, and wants to go to philosophy grad school. I gave him a stack of logic textbooks, told him to look at them all and we'll talk later..
  • My first brain injured student dropped out of logic pretty suddenly. I had no discussions with him before he went away, he just stopped coming to class. I think it was a bit much for him -- which is ok.
  • I found out a bit later that another student is in my class because he's recovering from a brain injury. He's had his own sets of challenges, but I think he'll be fine.
  • I've been in the pool a lot -- nearly every day. It's really nice -- and I'm getting a bit of a tan.
  • I'm revising my dissertation prior to submitting it to the grad school. The revisions are very small -- mostly typos and extra punctuation.
  • Next week I'll be doing a seminar on the ethics of warfare for the faculty at BNCC -- as our common book is about the war in Iraq. That should be fun -- but, I still need to prepare.
  • Tomorrow is my last day of summer class -- then, some grading and it's over!!
YEA Summer!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Time for student stupidity...

.... of the obnoxious and non obnoxious sort.


Student A: my quiz didn't work right. I changed one answer I knew was wrong and got the same score.
Me: no, you gave the same answer the second time around...

Student X: I have no discussion grades.
Me: Clearly, you missed my multiple announcements about one of the discussions -- you'll get a grade eventually. As for the rest, you failed to meet the deadline EVERY FRIGGING WEEK!

grrr. I'll be happy to be done with them.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

All that stands between me and the pool...

... is a student struggling with logic.

S/he is a decent student. They show up for class and seem to get it.

S/he is also a member of a Native American tribe and they're having a ceremony when s/he would otherwise be taking a practice quiz.

This is the first time I've done an alternative practice quiz. The only reason I'll do so is for religious reasons -- even illness doesn't get you a make-up.

So, I really wish s/he would just finish so I can get out of here and enjoy the second day of summer.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

June happenings...

June 1990: I packed my car and moved to Denver to live with Hubby.

June 2008: I had my "boob-ectomy", learned that I needed chemo and met MY oncologist.

June 2010: Dr. ItPF

I think I prefer either 1990 or 2010.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A good Ph.D. advisor...

... is a lot like Tim Gunn...of project runway.

Tim's stated goal is to give direct, honest and respectful feedback.

Wrapped up in that is taking the one-on-one relationship seriously and treating your grad students like young colleagues.

I've had friends who haven't been as lucky as me (A, in particular) -- as a result, I came to appreciate Dr. Advisor.

I'm sure Dr. A would have liked to get it finished more quickly -- but he also understood the demands on my time and he never set hard deadlines for me. I suppose I helped the situation by setting my own deadlines and generally meeting them.

Dr. A read and considered what I wrote. He politely disagreed with me and he realized that the dissertation is my project, not his. He told me early on that the point wasn't to write down what he thought -- rather, the point was for me to figure out what I thought and how it could be justified.

Dr. A also was willing to work outside his regular comfort zone -- because that's what I wanted to do. The fact of the matter is that the number of people in the country who could have supervised my dissertation is pretty low -- so, he told me that if it was going to get done, I was going to have to figure out the state of the field -- and he'd catch up. I hope that supervising my dissertation expanded his philosophical horizons a bit, even though I don't have any illusion that he'd have done that expansion on his own :).

The chances that I'll supervise grad students are quite slim -- but, I can take Dr. A's example and apply it to my own student and mentoring relationships. For that, I and my students owe Dr. A a large bunch of gratitude.

A Ph.D. by the numbers...

... since I started coursework, I've had:

1: sweet Hubby
2: speeding tickets
3: years of LD Hubby
4: surgeries
5: addresses
6: cats
7: hour drive from MN to Lincoln
8:or so years working on the darned thing...
9: (million) times someone asked me when I'd be done.
10: how it felt to finish.. on a 1-10 scale

Friday, June 11, 2010

Some identities revealed...

When I started this blog -- long, long ago, I tried to protect my identity. Many folks who know me in real life figured it out long ago. One of the reasons I did it was so that I could, if I wanted to, complain about dissertation/advisor stuff. Turns out I had nothing to complain about -- I know I'm lucky :).

So, while I'm not going to post my name -- because I don't want Google to find me or Hubby -- I'll reveal some new details --

Red State is Nebraska. The "red" is both political and "Go Big Red" is the common sports cheer.

My new Ph.D. is from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. The only option for a philosophy Ph.D. in the area -- and, it turns out -- a pretty decent choice regardless of the rankings.

BNState is Minnesota. Because it's big and northern.

BNCC -- if anybody cares -- is Century College. It's in a suburb of the Twin Cities.

With this information, if you wanted to dig around a bit and play connect the dots, you could figure out who I am --but, really -- don't you have something better to do with your on-line time? :) --- I hear Farmville is fun, they pictures of cute kitties out there and stuff... and there's always porn ;).

BN University is the University of Minnesota -- although, as I was teasing Hubby -- when Iowa invades he'll be a 2L at Very Northern Iowa University.

Not like it's really all that interesting -- or secret -- but, I don't have a good reason to keep it a secret anymore.

Oh yea -- "The Queen's" real name is Tera -- "The Minion" is Spock. I think I'll otherwise protect their on-line identities... I hear you have to watch out for kitty porn.

... so, go about your day with the happy image of me driving from Omaha to the Twin Cities today in my little brown Corolla, enjoying the wide varieties of green in Iowa -- and grinning from ear to ear.

Celebration tonight...

Hubby has arranged a night out on the town...

"fancy dinner" followed by "fancy hotel".

The details are a surprise.

Dr. ItPF -- has a ring to it, no?

The defense was fine -- challenging, but generally went well.

I have to say that I made a good choice with Dr. Advisor. He always gave my work careful consideration. He was timely in his attention to my work and understood when my teaching and medical challenges slowed me down.

Dr. Advisor also figured out a good committee for me. They were thoughtful, polite and generous. I felt that their questions were fair and that they were honest questions not veiled attempts at criticism or 'you didn't do what I do -- why not?' questions.

and -- I left the room as Dr. ItPF, and that's what really matters -- no?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

In Red State...

... without hubby.

It's really, really weird to be in the house Hubby stayed in while working here -- without him actually being here.

Instead, he's in BNstate -- cozy in our apartment with the cats and I'm all alone in a 4 bedroom, 4,000 square foot house. I can see why he was lonely --

I'm here to defend my dissertation. It seems oddly appropriate to stay where I wrote decent chunks of it -- and where I formulated a lot of it.

My plan for the day is to spend some time this morning at the coffee shop getting caught up with my on-line life, then to take some time to look at my notes. I'll leave the house about noon, as I have to apply for graduation before the deadline tomorrow :). Then I'll do some more review and thinking about the points I want to make -- and meet the committee at 3:00.

By the end of the business day, I'll probably be Dr. Steck ( I'm more confident than that sounds -- but I don't want to jinx it :).

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

My bags are packed...

... well, almost.

Your advice was great!! My 'defense day' bag includes:
  • A copy of my dissertation
  • An outline for my talk
  • A cheat sheet listing all of my just war principles
  • A bottle for water & cereal bars for quick energy before the defense that can't mess up my clothing.
  • The appropriate forms & a checkbook to pay fees
  • A pad of paper and a pen
  • My ipod --
I'll also bring a clean top with me, just in case -- I have a nightmare that I'll show up for my defense with a spot on my shirt...
My 'fun' (i.e. distraction bag) includes:
  • Several good books, including the most recent Steig Larsson book.
  • DVDs of old and mindless TV (Mad about You, Will & Grace, Arrested Development)
My suitcase will include several outfit options for tomorrow, pjs and comfy clothes for the rest of the time.

I'm planning to get a pedicure in Red State city late this afternoon, then some good Indian food for dinner.

Tomorrow, after my defense, I have a hair appointment with my favorite stylist / honorary older sister and very good friend. I like that she'll be the first non-committee member to call me "Dr. ItPF" -- in person.

I'm pretty sure I'll have no internet where I'm staying -- so, don't expect an update until Friday or Saturday.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

You can buy anything on the internet....

... including a pretty good fake boob.

Yep, I decided I needed a new one and ordered it on-line.

These things come in various sizes and colors -- and are designated as left or right.

It works.

It's weird, because I now feel lopsided, because I was used to no weight on the mastectomy side.


Dissertation defense advice, please...

So, day after tomorrow I defend.

The standard way it works for my department is for the candidate to give about a 10 minute or so talk about the dissertation. At some point, the committee will interrupt with questions.

Do you have any advice?

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Excuse me while I brag a bit...

... about Hubby.

His grades are in -- and they are really good. Really, really good. One of them is the best possible grade -- and the rest are very high -- in a system with a forced curve for 1Ls.

He also got honors in both of his pass/fail courses -- and he got a "best oral argument" award.

Those of you who knew Hubby the Debater won't be at all surprised by the last one :).

Suffice it to say, if he doesn't make law review, it won't be because of his grades.

I'm really happy about this -- mostly because Hubby has worked really, really, really hard at this. It isn't all raw intelligence, it's the combination of raw intelligence and hard work. I suspect even Kingsfield (from Paper Chase) would be impressed.

Way to go Hubby!!!

Friday, June 04, 2010

Exciting developments... probably...

  • I got my new water radio -- and I made it work!
  • I might be making a love connection between a couple of old friends!! She's someone I hung out with in high school, but we didn't go to school together. He's someone I knew in high school, but we didn't hang out together. They're about the same age, both have kids and both are fun, nice people. I'd love it if it worked out!!
  • We're having a little pool party today!! An old friend, a recent friend and her daughter. It will be a lot of fun!!!

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Read the frigging schedule....

Goodness, for an "on-line" generation, something so simple is turning out to be complex.

I have a hybrid class. It meets together on Monday, then half the class comes on Wednesday and the other half on Thursday.

They can register for MW or MTh -- with the "on-line day" being the other.

Several bozos so far have insisted they registered for one, when they actually registered for the other.

At first I thought the software that pulls the class lists was off -- it's not beyond possible.

It turns out the students are off.

The problem is that I made some class deadlines different for the MW vs. MTh students.

I'm not doing that again -- now, thanks to this bunch of bozos, every hybrid in the future will have the same set of deadlines -- whatever the earlier ones are.


Monday, May 31, 2010

It ain't Disneyland...

BN University wins... a trip to Omaha.

Actually, the College World Series is a lot of fun.

People come every year in their RVs. They crowd downtown restaurants and give the same basic interviews to the local news... "I love Omaha: we never expected it to be so nice here".

Have fun guys --- if I thought you'd be driving the 400 miles, I'd tell you where to stop to pee.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A good teaching day...

... in logic.

I'm shaking things up a bit in logic, mostly out of necessity.

This means that I have a little new prep to do -- and it's actually fun.

  • I changed the first exam from being in-person to on-line. They're taking it this weekend -- and, it's all auto-graded -- YEA for me!
  • We have a document camera in our classroom. I realized that if I did some class prep, essentially preparing flashcards, we could cover some material quickly. It worked.
  • I also realized that my previous students didn't understand why some of the rules worked the way they did -- so, they kept making the same stupid mistakes over and over again.
I really like this aspect of summer teaching - mostly because it lets me do experiments without having to deal with crappy results over multiple sections or over a full semester. Also, a pal of mine observed that summer students are generally better, and I agree. They're more motivated, more focused and generally better prepared than my day students during the year.

Also, in the summer the building is nice and quiet -- and the parking is excellent!

On the spot, in class, I figured out a good way to prove to them why the rules work.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I think there's a date....

... June 10 --

I'll have my shot at becoming Dr ItPF.



The END of the dissertation odyssey.

Who'd have thought it might actually happen.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Oh no you don't....

... add my logic class after the second class meeting, then e-mail me and tell me you won't be there on the third class meeting as well.

Sadly (and stupidly) our system lets them do this for summer courses.

That does not mean that I have to re-teach everything I've taught so far this week -- in my office -- so that someone who can't get registered (or contact me) in a timely manner can pass the exam the class will be taking over the weekend.

Also, I will not set this student up for failure from the start - nor will I waste the first two class meetings (almost the equivalent of two FULL semester weeks) because our system permits this. Summer semesters are compact enough without blowing off two class meetings.

I've identified the first KFAP

KFAP (kid from another planet), claims he ran into "a little car trouble and some traffic" making it back from Chicago -- so he missed class yesterday.

My class is at 7:45 -- Chicago is 6-8 hours away... really, if traffic was part of the equation, you cut it too close KFAP.

It was kind of satisfying to tell KFAP that he had a lot of reading (that those who showed up on Monday got a head start on understanding), a reading quiz, a syllabus quiz and a discussion post to do -- by tomorrow.

We'll see if KFAP does it.... I'm not going to hold my breath.

Friday, May 21, 2010

I don't want to jinx it...

... but, I could have a defense date by the end of June...


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Soem thoughts on partial on-line teaching...

I'm rather new to teaching on-line, at all... even partially on-line.

About a year ago I was figuring out how our on-line course management system works... yea, I'm slow.

In that year, I've picked up many good bits of advice from the internets ---so, thanks!

A few of them are:
  • In the discussion section, make a "class talk" section, so they can ask class questions and they often answer themselves.
  • Using the on-line grade book is helpful because it cuts down on the "what's my grade" questions... leaving only the KFAP (kids from another planet), who probably need to talk to you face to face anyway.
  • They will have good discussions without me.
  • Include your make-up period in the on-line testing period -- and try to give a class period for them to take exams. My CC students are often very tightly scheduled, so if they can use the time they'd otherwise drive to school, go to class etc.. to take the on-line exam, they will -- AND, probably most important, you can deflect the "I didn't have time to do the exam" excuse.
  • The "course copy" function is wonderful -- I love it.
  • Make friends with the instructional design / faculty tech support people. I'm really lucky to have two of them looking out for me -- and solving my vexing issues.
Some things I'm starting this summer --
  • Content quizzes. After every subject they'll take a quiz on class content. This is in addition to the short reading quizzes they have before every new discussion/ reading assignment. Some of these content quizzes are essays (gasp), so I'll have to keep up with them.. but, they are quick to grade so it shouldn't be all that bad.
  • Small, randomly selected, discussion groups. Each group posts on the same topic every week, then a discussant from that group synthesizes and posts the results for the whole class to see.
If they work, I'll keep doing them for the fall -- although, I'm going to think carefully about the stuff I have to grade... I'll have 150 students in three sections...

Misc update...

When I have a week off, apparently I use it to get my stuff in order..

Monday: Planted the two huge pots on my deck.
Tuesday: Filled up the recycling bin at work -- with old student stuff and handouts.
Wednesday: Cleaned out and rearranged the top cupboards in the kitchen.
Thursday (today): working on the bottom cupboards in the kitchen.

-- Currently, nearly all the plastic storage things we own are drying on the counter.

Friday -- will probably be laundry.

Allergy report -- they suck. I'm particularly sensitive to cottonwood, and the air is full of it. So, the weather is nice, my deck is beautiful and I'm inside with the A/C on.

Dissertation report -- still waiting on the readers... sigh.

Summer session starts on Monday, I'm mostly ready for it in terms of preparation, but not intellectually.

Felines: The Queen is the same -- currently sleeping in her basket. The Minion is settling down a little -- currently sitting on Hubby's desk and looking out the window.

Hubby: doing another set of law school homework... away from the chaos, smart man!

Friday, May 14, 2010

More apartment incompetence...

Once again the front door isn't working right.

A new student and a new challenge

I had an interesting phone call this week.

It was from a person who is doing occupational therapy for a client with a brain injury. The client had a heart attack and lost oxygen to his brain for a significant period of time. Prior to his heart attack, he was a mechanical engineer and the CEO of a company. Now, he's trying to recover his cognitive abilities.

The therapist was looking for a way for him to do more theoretical work -- and thought my logic class might do the trick. We had a discussion about the course, the challenges he may face because of his brain injury and I think he's going to register for the course this summer.

I think it's going to be fascinating to see this play out -- I suspect he'll do better than some of my supposedly fully functioning KFAP (kids from another planet) students. He'll at least try the homework, show up for class and he probably won't be stoned while doing so.

I also suspect that he'll know when class meets, be able to understand the concept of their grade as a percentage of the course and have is own book.... unlike this semester's KFAPs.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Stories of KFAP...

Kid from another planet...

is graduating. She can't understand the concept of the on-line gradebook not taking her final exam into account.

It's scary. I explained it to her at least three times.

If 60/205 points are not entered yet, your average isn't going to be good.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A thought from Panera...

... the little twit sitting behind me is whining because she can't pass chemistry. Apparently, she blames the fact that it's on-line for her inability to achieve.

As I type, she's on-line registering for a chemistry class at BNCC.

I know many of the chem people at BNCC. I hope she falls flat on her face -- she's going to BNCC because she thinks it's easier. I suspect the problem is her, not the class.

Obviously, I have a high degree of student dislike -- not unusual for this time in the semester... although, it is kind of odd for me to dislike students who a) aren't in my class, and b) aren't even currently enrolled at BNCC.

Oh yea, her boy-companion suggested the BNCC plan to her. I hate him too...

God, please let her pass ethics and logic at the big school -- I don't want her in my classroom, I'd have to slap her.

I've got a gunner...

... yes, in a CC ethics class.

Generally, the term "gunner" is restricted to law students.

But -- I have a summer ethics class that starts May 25.

I've opened the on-line course management system early so they can take a look around.

Someone has already completed the first two quizzes.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Teach for America ....

They just played a radio commercial advocating alternative teacher certification in my state.

The following facts caught my ear --
1) the low percentage of minority students in my state that go on to college (they say 10% -- seems to be more than that.. but, I teach at a suburban CC...). (edited due to comments, since I wasn't paying close enough attention to the commercial_...

2) the success of Teach for America candidates in bringing up test scores etc.

The implication was that the TFA teachers are more successful because they tend to be minoirites.

Umm -- the little I know about TFA says that they prefer students from elite colleges and univiersites and that many TFA folks are not education majors.

Maybe their success is due to the fact that they are well-educated, non-education majors.

I know a couple of peace-corps folks who are now in teaching positions and I know one TFA person. All of them are quite bright, good role models and I suspect they are great teachers. None of them are education majors -- hmmm.

End of semester drama --

... logic style:
  • Kid from another planet (KFAP) stopped by my office just now. Funny thing about that, since he could never find time to talk with me before, when I wanted to talk about his behavior and the fact that he wasn't prepared to work with Super-Tutor.
  • I had to tell KFAP that, no matter how well he did on his final, his grade couldn't be a C. He also claimed that Super Tutor told him he could get a B -- umm, no. In fact, he had a fit when ST told him that he couldn't get a B. That's one of the things I wanted to talk to KFAP about.
  • Some logic students are kicking themselves for not maxing out their bonus points -- a few points here or there would have saved them from having to take the final. Ummmm, guess what, I know they are busy, but in several cases investing one hour with the tutor would have saved them two hours of a final exam.

... Ethics style:

  • Some students think the last paper is a group paper. I gave them the option to write a paper with their presentation group or individually. A couple of slackers are going to find out the hard way that the students who did all the work on their presentations aren't writing a group paper.
  • Presentation drama -- every presentation day someone has an issue that makes them run late... So, their presentation group ends up nervously watching the door... So far, every tardy presenter has made it.

Bears? really?

There are bears in the neighborhood...

Granted, I've seen fox, deer, opossum, and many geese in the area. We hear coyote on occasion -- but, bears?

This is a suburb -- with tract housing, strip malls and highways. This isn't prime territory for bears.

Our apartment faces an abandoned golf course -- and the apartment people tend to leave the dumpsters out... now I wonder why we haven't seen bears.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Maybe there is a light at the end of the dissertation..

Dr. Advisor said that a couple of the committee members reported no significant objections... and, he's trying to get a consensus so we can schedule a defense.

Wow--- I'll know more in a couple of weeks... but, it could actually happen.

I'm not sure what I'll worry about when I don't have a dissertation to write.. hmmm.

Friday, April 30, 2010

On a different calendar...

Yikes -- Stu ignored e-mails and phone calls from a panicked partner and then flatly refused to admit he did so. Stu's partner and I decided Stu had drifted away.

Today, Stu showed up -- and (contradicting himself), both wanted to present -- without the assistance of his partner AND claimed that he thought he was scheduled for next week.

Then, Stu begged to be allowed to present next week (umm -- no, 50 minutes = 4 10 minute presentations -- that's why we have a frigging presentation schedule -- dumb ass).

Stu really needs to pay attention.

I'm being a softie and letting him write a paper, like his (former) partner. That's only because I can't be sure (former) partner actually had functional e-mail and phone info -- because (former) partner is pretty flaky.

Also, in general, this is the time of the year that they start to figure out how much it costs them to not take the on-line quizzes and participate in the on-line discussions -- in a hybrid class.

I -- on the other hand -- need to keep reminding myself that it's ok to permit them to fail. Their failures are not my responsibility and I know that failing often teaches more than a false C.

Class updates...

  • Ethics students are doing well with their presentations. The presentations take the form of a pecha kucha, in which students have 20 powerpoint slides, each displayed for 20 seconds, to answer a question.. The presentations weren't perfect, but they were original and they moved quickly enough to avoid boredom. The best thing is that I didn't hold their hands in the process, I didn't do a bunch of developmental assignments or anything. They signed up for their groups, organized themselves, did the work and hopefully learned something. I tried to give clear expectations, consult when asked and then check in at the end to make sure the group had something to present.
  • Logic is in a bit of a panic now -- of course, some of them are just now realizing that when I told them to do an on-line quiz for points, I meant it. Not doing that quiz means they don't get to opt out of the final -- AND the final replaces their last two quiz grades... so there. They could still fail... hmmm. These folks really shouldn't tempt me, I can enter an A or and F with equal effort -- and I'll do it.
We have one more week left -- and next week is logic week -- lots of grading, wrangling and begging will happen. I'll consult the syllabus, ask why they think they are special enough to get an exception and deny just about everyone.

Monday, April 26, 2010

My DVR...

.. has better taste in programming than I do.

OK -- I'll admit it, I've been trying to record Jerseyliscious.

I saw about three episodes, then my DVR revolted.

During the first revolt, the DVR locked up when I tried to play the file --

The second revolt gave me an error message.

The most recent attempt was simply a file of 0 minutes length.

hmmm.... I'm trying to trick it today by having it restore what it thinks is a duplicate showing...

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Hubby's the best!!

I've been various forms of "sick" since mid-January... between low hemoglobin, two surgeries and allergies, I've been dragging my ass around since the semester started.

One thing I really wanted to do, but hadn't found the energy to accomplish, was to get rid of all the pots on my deck and start over. The plan is to get a couple of comfortable chairs, two big pots with new dirt and end up with a container garden that needs less work to maintain.

The first step was the most onerous -- clearing out all the old stuff -- and Hubby did if for me this morning. This afternoon we'll go get the furniture -- and, once the weather is a little more predictably warm, the plants will be the last thing...

Then, y'all are welcome to come sit on my deck....

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Chemo had its advantages...

... the advantages of being bald aside -- I don't remember my seasonal allergies (which are equally bad in spring and fall) happening when I was doing chemo -- probably because my immune system was so down, the allergens didn't get me.

So, now when I'm "healthy", I'm also locked in my AC blowing my nose and hoping it rains -- soon!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Home again... from the hospital..

The surgery went well.

We're getting to be a little too familiar at the hospital -- sigh.

I'm considering proposing a punch-card for surgery -- pay for four, get the fifth free -- kind of like coffee, but not as much fun.

We'll have test results by the end of the week or so... but, we have no real reason to be worried.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

It's fun to see your friends...

... quoted in the New York Times..

The article isn't about the form of debate I coached -- but, the second person quoted (Jim Hanson) has been my friend for a long time... we're both on the board for the national championship tournament Hubby dreamed up many years ago.

It's also a very good thing that policy debate teams are going digital -- When the airlines charge $50/ tub, and each two person team has about 6 tubs, you are automatically adding $150/person to a team's travel budget. On most trips, if you don't bring a team's tubs, you can bring another person who wants to actually debate.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Maybe there's a secret election...

... or, perhaps our most senior department member is having a senior moment...

We had a department meeting today. As usual, attendance was sparse -- but, nearly all of our disciplines were represented AND -- (best of all) by the people I really like.

One person came in a bit late and handed me a note.

The note was a proxy vote for Classy Lady. It was from Sweet Old Guy.

The puzzling bit is that we aren't having an election. As far as I know Classy Lady isn't "running" for anything.

Last week we had a call for folks interested in being department chair. Classy Lady didn't say anything to me -- and she's told me many times that she doesn't want to be department chair.

I'm not sure what Sweet Old Guy thinks Classy Lady is running for -- but, I'm sure Classy Lady will be glad to have his support.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

On being an actual adult... at least on occasion...

Or, to be more precise, someone who has -- at least for a bit -- managed to use time wisely and had it pay off.

Y'all know I had surgery 5 weeks ago -- and was off work for 3weeks plus break.

What I may not have told y'all is that I need another surgery -- it's scheduled for Monday. It isn't a horrible ordeal or anything, more of a precaution -- but, it's necessary. The recovery time is 1 week.

Last week was my first week back to work from surgery #1. I worked my butt off to get stuff ready for my next week off, and to be ready for finals etc. This entailed writing quizzes and exams etc. In fact, I pretty much finished my class prep for the semester.

This week I started on the summer syllabus. I'm not kidding -- don't hate me :).

It's a good thing I didn't procrastinate like my students -- because one of my colleagues needed me...

Dog Dad had a non-life threatening but pretty-danged-painful medical emergency.

On Tuesday night my Dean called to tell me Dog Dad was in the hospital and we needed to arrange subs for him first thing in the morning.

Turns out that Dog Dad has a hell-a Wednesday, and I have one class.

It also turns out that my class doesn't meet when Dog Dad's 4 classes (including a night class) meet -- SO, I could sub for all of them.

Dog Dad subbed for me so I was happy to return the favor --plus we get an hourly rate for subbing and prep time--- so, I made some bonus $$ yesterday...

If I hadn't planned ahead and worked like crazy last week, I'd be up crap-creek this week.

I think it's that kid of planning my students just don't get. They don't see that stuff you'd never expect can throw your plans off in a big way. Yesterday, instead of no prep and 1 hour of teaching I had about 4-5 hours of prep and 7 hours of teaching (his 6, my 1 -- all the prep was his..). I could be flexible because I was ready...

Also -- Dog Dad was well-prepared too. He sent files with teaching notes and the quizzes I gave to his classes. His teaching notes taught me interesting stuff -- and they were an interesting look into how he thinks about topics/articles I teach too. He also had really nice classes -- which is probably a reflection of Dog Dad's overall niceness.

So -- even though I've taught a boatload in the last three days, I'm happy with the results.

And -- I spoke with Dog Dad today. He's planning to be back next week -- and healthy. I'm really happy about that.

People who look like your pets...

.. if, your pet was a person.

There's a young student who hangs out near my office.

Yesterday I noticed that he looks like the Minion would - if the Minion were human.

He's short, Asian and has really spiky black hair (kind of long spikes, straight up..).

Really, he's the human verison of the Minion.

My next move is to get a photo of this student -- hmmm.....

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

E-mail hacks and scams...

Last year an old friend's Facebook got hacked. The hacker sent out a message saying my pal was stuck in London, needed money etc.

The grammar in the message was bad, I didn't think my pal was in London and I wondered why he didn't call his parents who have plenty of money. I actually saw that "he" (i.e. the hacker) was on Facebook as my friend and asked a couple of questions -- the hacker got pissy and I figured out it was a scam.

Just now I got a similar message from an old student. She got mugged in London, send money here etc.. This time I knew it was a scam because her grammar was too good -- and the message too calm sounding. Clearly, it wasn't written by my student -- who couldn't write her way out of a paper bag and was ALWAYS uber-excited.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

They think they live in the country...

but, it really can't count as such -- they are a 70 minute car/train ride from Manhattan.

The story relates tales of folks who moved out there, then couldn't stand the lack of "civilization" and "fled" -- back to the suburbs/city.

ummm--- yea. The complaint was that White Plains NY was 40 minutes away for shopping...

Super-mom's kind of country -- now, that's "country" -- 70 minutes in the car gets you close to Two Harbors, and leaves you about 50 minutes from Duluth. 40 minutes might get you Finland, MN --and a bit more will get you Ely, MN.

Funny thing is, a good number of folks up in Super-mom's area think Duluth IS "the city"... and "the cities", are just too much traffic.

I suppose it goes to show that everything is relative -- but, I still think the folks in New York state are kind of silly, and not really in THE COUNTRY.

Now that's country...

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Um -- duh...

Why in the F would I have a sub for my logic classes and NOT expect students to come to class.

A bozo just posted on the class discussion page asking if he needed to be in class the last couple of weeks.

Bozo has a quiz tomorrow -- all on material discussed in class.

It's going to be fun to watch him take it...

Sunday, April 04, 2010

We got a letter...

... like the rest of the residents in our building.

In essence, it asks us to keep an eye out for vandals. They've been scratching the inside of the elevator doors, making a mess and generally being icky neighbors.

I know how to catch the right quick -- a simple spelling test.

Inside our elevator someone scratched "fagget" -- so, we could just ask folks to write the word -- and, bingo, the bad speller gets evicted.

Dissertation -- now, I wait...

I really wanted it on it's way in March... but, here it is Easter and the copies will be on the way to Red State tomorrow.

It's really lovely not to have dissertation work to do.

Instead, I worry that they won't like it.

I worry that they won't think it's sufficient to call me Dr.

I worry that I made some HUGE mistake which will make them all mad.

I worry that they'll ignore it.

I worry that the only day they can all possibly meet for my defense is a day I can't get to Red State.

On the other hand, it feels really, really good to have sent it. If actually defending it feels this good, I'm happy--

Saturday, April 03, 2010

The dissertation is on the way --

-- or, rather it will be on Monday morning.

It's really, really weird to think that the whole committee will be reading it sooner or later.

It was also kind of anti-climatic to say goodbye to it in a Kinko's... there should have been some kind of cosmic "ta da!!!!".

I think I'll take a nap.

In my neighborhood...

There was so me excitement at the Fleet Farm...

I was wondering why I was hearing sirens yesterday...

Friday, April 02, 2010

Dissertation update... perhaps one of the last!!!

One huge advantage to having surgery is that, while I'm not teaching, I could finish revisions on my dissertation.

Working a couple of hours at a time -- I have all the small content revisions done.

Today I'm planning to do all the formatting stuff required by Red State school.

Tomorrow -- copies, and I'll send them to my committee.


Up early...

... and hearing sounds of spring from outdoors.

Mostly crickets and frogs chirping in the swamp.

Maybe I'll go back to bed.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

My home state...

I'm so proud of BNstate -- we have pervert bears....

The town where this happened isn't all that big -- and I think the location is probably out in the woods a bit...

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Already -- it's only March....

... some student just e-mailed asking if it would be ok for her to miss the first two days of my summer class.

When I said it wasn't a good idea -- I got the expected result... whine, beg for notes etc --

grrr.... couldn't y'all wait until April at least?

Monday, March 29, 2010


D1 (one of my debaters from way back), transferred from BNCC to big-debate school. He came close to nationals finals a couple of times -- but didn't do it.

Now, he's coaching debate at a northwest state school, and his team is in finals at nat's.

I'm really freaking proud of him -- and, I'm sad that my surgery made me decide not to go to that nat's for the first time -- ever. He could probably use a bit of his debate-mom in the hall outside the final round.

Friday, March 26, 2010

More on the "Real" Housewives...

... this time, the ones from New York.

Bethany -- sweetie -- I like you. You have a good head on your shoulders, you have a positive message about healthy eating and all kinds of other good things going for you.

What you need is an editor in your head. I just saw you tell the "Countess" what you think of her.

Take it from me, that kind of a move isn't a good one.

If you really don't trust her, think she's a snake etc -- turn her into one of the "non-people". These folks have a set of values and point of view that is so different from your own as to make them "non-people" -- because, clearly you are a person and they're different enough to be in some other category. Their "different" views make them act in hurtful ways -- and putting them in the "non-person" category is a move of self-preservation and nothing more.

It's pretty simple to deal with non-people -- you smile and nod, and don't trust them at all. They may talk behind your back -- and if they do that to your friends, then deal with your friends and not the non-person.

Interactions go no further than the polite "hi, how are you -- do you like the weather?" kinds of exchanges. Give them nothing to talk about -- and then when they make stuff up, you'll be able to defend yourself with the folks you care about. If -- for some reason that benefits you -- you need to invite them someplace, then do it. Don't invite them anyplace if your goal is to get to be friends again -- they'll never be your friends -- because, non-people are just too different.

So, Bethany -- put the "Countess" in that category and move on. Life is better when you only have real interactions with people.

You'd think I'd have learned...

... that when you give an inch, students will expect another foot or two.

From now on, my on-line exam deadlines are hard and fast -- and I don't give a crap if they were abducted by aliens, they aren't changing.

What I want to know is, how frigging hard is it to take an on-line quiz for which you have OVER two weeks? Also, how can you confuse 7:45 AM with 7:45 PM? One is pretty frigging early for a class, the other is pretty frigging early to go to the bar --

I think next semester I'm going to have TWO syllabus quizzes. One general one -- with the standard policies etc... the other with the major dates. Both can be easily aced by looking at the frigging syllabus and class schedule.

Grrr -- really, how stupid can you be and still find the college on a regular basis? I have to wonder... is this because their high schools just coddled them? Is it because other profs have been marshmallows? Is it because they just aren't that connected or concerned with school? Really -- I'd have to choose all of the above.

Friday, March 19, 2010

I'm sure I've been watching too much TV when...

  • I notice that the same actor plays Gibs (NCIS) father and Booth's (Bones) grandfather -- and I wonder if Gibs is Booth's father.... then, I realize he couldn't be, because Booth's dad was abusive, and Gibs would never be abusive -- So -- then I conclude that Gibs is Booth's uncle, and I feel better.
  • While watching one Canadian home renovation show, I see mistakes that Holmes on Holmes (the Canadian contractor/vigilante) would go nuts about. I then wonder how long it will take before the house shows up on Holmes on Homes...

WE pay a lot of rent... at Cedric's Landing...

... especially considering our apartment's size and location.

One of the things we are supposed to be able to do is to buzz people in from the front door.

We have a code.

We tell them the code.

They put it into the box -- and it rings our phone.

The problem is that our apartment management is a team of morons.

They can't manage to make the door system work. Randomly, (according to them) it will reassign numbers etc..

The management morons can put up flyers telling us about the random pot-lucks they have in the clubhouse -- but, they can't tell us when our door code has changed.


To top it all off -- I called yesterday and was told that the codes randomly change.
Today, Hubby looked up our code, it hadn't changed -- (but, they managed to delete his code), tried it and it didn't work.

I told the management morons this at 10 AM this morning and asked for a call back when it was resolved.

I had to call them back this afternoon.

When The moron who answered the phone called back, it was clear that she only managed to absorb the "Hubby's code has disappeared" part -- NOT the stuff that came before it about my code not working. I also told her to talk with the moron who answered the phone at 10.

When I -- kind of irritatedly, for the third time -- asked about MY code, the truth came out -- nobody had actually moved their moron asses out of the office to check out our problem. Now -- just before the second moron should be going home, I'm making her come over to look at it...

For the record, I'm putting our apartment name into the title just in case someone googles it... If you want a nice apartment, high rent and morons in the office -- move into Cedric's Landing.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Domino's knows me...

We decided that we'd have pizza tonight. knew where I was when I went to the site.

I wasn't logged in.

I know it's because they have my IP -- or something -- but, it's still a little creepy that they know my apartment number.

That doesn't mean I won't eat the pizza "John" is making for me right now....

out sick... kind of...

Recovery from surgery is a weird thing.

The surgery was laproscopic (5 small incisions vs. one big one), so -- unlike my mastectomy there are no drains, no changing of bandages etc. They kind of itch a bit, and ache, but overall they aren't a problem.

I am kind of tired -- but, they make naps, cats and my comfy bed for that.

I know I'm healing inside and all that -- so I'm taking it easy.

I suspect that, if I really had to, I could go back to work next week. I'd be dragging my butt back and forth -- and probably not getting much else done -- but, if the rent were on the line, I could do it -- I'm tough like that.

That's why I'm really glad that I don't have to. I love that my union negotiated a good number of sick days for me -- and that I haven't used them so far (breast cancer + chemo used 2.5 days). I suppose, in a weird way, I'm getting some of the days I should have taken during chemo -- and I'm kind of ok with that.

On the other hand -- I'm not 100% on leave. Whatever can be done on-line, I'm doing. This involves e-mails, collecting info etc, because I'm still department chair. This means answering student e-mails, monitoring and organizing presentations that will happen later as well as monitoring on-line discussions for ethics. Tomorrow I'll go to campus (my first time out of the house since Monday) to pick-up make-up exams. I'll then grade them, enter them and drop them off on Monday for my logic subs.

I'm also, slowly but surely, working on the last set of dissertation revisions -- a couple of hours at a time -- because my incisions ache if I sit too long...

Also -- we found a grocery delivery service -- with lots and lots of yummy stuff!! Our delivery arrives tomorrow evening... yumm!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

I love my state....

at least, the fact that the NCAA hockey tournament has TWO teams from my state -- meeting one another in semi-finals.

It's kind of sad they won't be meeting in finals --- but, one team will be in finals.

Many of these women were Olympians -- for us and for other countries.

yea -- we rock!

Thursday, March 11, 2010


I'm home -- and in very little pain.

It was good to sleep in my own bed last night.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

surgery update

Everything went well.

I'm still in the hospital, but I could go home today or tomorrow.

I love the fact that they have wifi in the hospital.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Undergrad are undergrads all around...

... and debaters aren't all that different.

Most (close to all) undergrads really want to know what's going to be on the exam. That's the gist of many questions, most of which come down to "is that on the test"?

Hubby is in the middle of developing the topic areas for the debate tournament we helped start.

There's an on-line forum connected to that debate format -- and the on-line discussion is pretty much "is there going to be a resolution about that" -- with the variation of "what's the research I need to do to kick-ass"?

Whether or not they admit it, most debaters like to think they are intellectually superior and less lazy than my CC students. What I can't post on that forum discussion is my opinion that they aren't all that different.

Wonderful words to read...

When you are done, send copies to the readers...

Wow --

Today I'll be working on the last pesky chapter -- but, I have a good idea for it -- so, that's progress.

Then -- after my surgery tomorrow - I'll read it for consistency and send it off!

just -- wow!

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Logic cheaters...

Three friends.

Three identical -- WRONG answers.

Three grades of 0 in the on-line grade book.

Two bounced e-mails.

Two seemingly innocent questions about why their grade is "not showing up" on the class discussion board.

Two replies of "we need to discuss your exam in private" -- from me.

Hmmm..... I've given them until Monday to figure it out.

Tuesday I'm in surgery and won't deal with this for a month.

If I can't communicate with them, in person, by Monday afternoon the grades stand.

My best bit of advice for logic cheaters is to copy from someone who actually knows how to do the work. That way, your answers won't be uniquely bad.

Friday, March 05, 2010

From the "other" side of the tracks..

... comes a NEW student exam excuse..

I've been teaching for kind of a long time (7 years at BNCC alone) -- every year I have 400-500 students..

I've never had one tell me that she couldn't make the exam because, an hour before the exam, her mother got hauled off to jail, so she had to arrange bail money.

Yep -- her mom went to jail.

I don't know what for -- and I don't want to ask.

I believe her -- she's friends with my tutor, and apparently called the tutor from the car on the way to the jail...


Thursday, March 04, 2010

I get it...

... and I understand both sides of this problem...

Colleges are eliminating smaller "programs" -- like the 1 person Classics department.

For 22 years this guy has been the only person in the Classics "department". He describes teaching a 4/4 load -- that is mostly small classes... His upper-division classes are considered to have healthy enrollments at 5-7 students.

5-7 students in a CLASS.

He also says that he teaches one section of French.

So (this is all speculation) -- he gets paid about what I do -- for teaching in the neighborhood of 50 students. Tht estimate may be high, because it includes the assumption that his French class has 30... which it may well not...

He has a 4/4 load, so it's likely that there isn't much of a research obligation.

I have 50 students in ONE class. This semester I have 4 classes and 190 students (plus a release for being department chair...).

I also think that -- in the last 22 years -- he could have worked to increase the size of his department. I say that, as the 2nd full-time faculty member hired at BNCC. Wise Woman was #1 -- with a bunch of adjuncts, I was #2, 7 years ago. Together we advocated for two more hires... and it worked.

So -- while I think cutting Classics isn't a good idea -- I also think that he had it pretty cozy for a long time and didn't want to change... until it was too late and the college/economy changed under him.

On having substitues...

I've never taught K-12. I've never had a long absence (a week max..), or - at least one that wasn't planned into the syllabus -- like when I took a long time for debate nationals...

So, having a colleague teach my classes is a new experience for me.

It's required me to openly discuss my teaching methods, my class' abilities etc.

What's kind of odd about it, is that I'm still doing all the grading. I'm still the one who handles all the problems etc.. they are the ones conducting the classes I've planned.

The results will be interesting, to say the least. In Logic I'll give an exam my first week back -- so, my subs will do the teaching of the material and I'll be doing the assessment.

In Ethics, my sub is starting conversations on topics -- and I'll be evaluating their understanding of the topic in essay questions.

I'm really lucky to have fantastic colleagues who will help me out -- and it's quite fortunate that we didn't follow our old dean's requirements for scheduling -- (she wanted us all on campus 5 days/week...), as this only works because my logic subs are off T/Th... when all THREE of my logic classes meet.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Good Cancer news!!

Last week I had a PET scan (no furry beasts, just 30 minutes in a machine with my arms over my head).

The results are good -- nothing unusual -- I'm "normal".

For those of you ahead of me on the "cancer" trip -- you know how good this kind of news feels... and, for those of you behind me -- yes, it does feel as good as you think it will. Hang in there, you'll be there soon enough.

For now, perhaps a celebratory nap?

A thought on failure...

I'm coming to the conclusion that, in order to help some students succeed, you MUST permit them to fail.

Yep -- fail. Fail an exam they aren't prepared for. Fail a paper that sucks. Fail a class they didn't give their full attention to.

At my CC I have many smart, talented and ambitious students. I also have quite a few that can barely make it out of their parents' basement for an 11:00 class...

Their high schools didn't do them any favors by letting them slide by. Other profs haven't done them any favors by holding their hands. My theory is that I can give them the best resources and teaching I can provide - BUT, it's up to them to take advantage of it.

My logic class is a perfect example.

I have a decent book. I'm experienced teaching -- hundreds, if not thousands of students have earned Bs or As with my teaching techniques. I put the answers to ALL the problems on my office door. I take the exam from the problems -- and, last but not least I have an AMAZING tutor.

About 20% of my logic students will fail Thursday's exam miserably. About 2/3 of them will re-take successfully -- and the rest of them will work with my AMAZING tutor --- or drift away.

In Logic -- at least in my class -- you choose to fail.... and I'm all about respecting choices.