Sunday, February 28, 2010

Hubby's birthday surprise..

So, last year Hubby's birthday kind of sucked -- and it was delayed by a week... So, I figured he was owed a birthday.

I told him a while back to clear the weekend. I wouldn't tell him why.

He had all kinds of guesses, all of them were wrong.

He said he'd love to go curling on his birthday -- I told him I couldn't figure out how to make that happen... and, I was lying!

On Friday I picked him up -- and told him to drive to Duluth.

We stayed at one of the classic Duluth hotels -- had a nice Italian meal on Friday night... but, the big fun was Saturday afternoon -- as the Duluth curling club had a free "try curling" session. So -- hubby got to curl at the home of the US men's Olympic curling team!!! Granted -- if we hadn't sucked a bunch this year, it would have been more fun... but -- there also might have been more people there...

After curling, we went back to the hotel for some tylenol and a nap-- then dinner at the rotating restaurant at the top of the hotel. This morning we had breakfast there as well (to see things in the daylight :) -- and, now we're home.

All in all -- a good weekend...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Elevator stink...

Secret message to another resident of my apartment complex,

You wear too much freaking perfume.

When you ride the elevator before me, I can smell you when I'm alone.

Today I caught your stench in the area outside the elevator -- and then I saw you.

Now, I know who you are. You're pretty well dressed, carrying a nice sized designer-like bag.

Why in the world do you need to stink up the common areas with your perfume? What are you hiding?


Your 2nd floor neighbor..

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Dissertation update......

.. the verdict seems to be that there are a couple of important ways it could be better.

There is one chapter that needs more work -- but, that work is manageable.

I'm pretty sure I can get it done before my surgery....

I'm pretty sure, after these changes, it will go to the committee.

Despite both breast cancer and girl-part removal -- I could still be Dr. ITPF by May.

For now, I need to keep my eye on the prize -- and my revision/rewriting skills in overdrive.

Wow... just, um, wow...

Stu is in my logic class... nominally.

Stu comes in late, leaves early and is generally not engaged.

Today, I finally said something to him --and I wouldn't let him sign in.

After class today my uber-tutor told me Stu is coming to her unprepared... mostly it seems that her tutoring hours are more convenient than class time (sorry Stu...), so, he thinks it's uber-tutor's job to teach him what he can't manage to show up for.

So -- I told uber-tutor that I'd handle it, and Stu should come to see me.

Turns out, Stu doesn't have the book yet. Class started January 12 -- it's now February 23 -- 40 days after class started. Stu tells me that he had to pay rent first etc... then he'd buy the book. Folks, I have a custom text that is less than $50.00.

Of course, Stu wasn't motivated or connected enough to round up an old version on Amazon -- for $14.00...

When I asked Stu if there was a reason he was consistently late, he told me he was "intimidated by the material" --

I told Stu it was now his obligation to get caught up, on his own. I taught it once in class, he missed that opportunity. He's going to have to a) get the book, b) read the book, c) figure out how to do the work -- before the exam next week.

I also told him that he can't see uber-tutor until he does the work necessary to catch up.

Really -- I don't expect Stu will be finishing the class... and, I'm ok with that. I suspect Stu is going to have to learn the hard way --- and pulling his head out of his backside is a start.

Monday, February 22, 2010

This weekend is Hubby's birthday...

... and planning a weekend-long surprise is fun... and Hubby deserves every bit of it.

This time next week I'll let you know what we did.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Tenured faculty layoffs...

... are happening in Florida

I'm of about three minds on this bit... and none of this is specific to the Florida situation...

1) What research faculty "produce", in terms of teaching is often minimal. So, trying to balance tuition vs. salary isn't the kind of math most research faculty like to do. So, if the purpose of the institution is teaching -- many of them don't do much of that, so letting them go makes sense. Once a faculty member has tenure, they may decide that they don't want to publish... If the purpose of the institution is research -- then letting go folks who aren't "producing" research makes sense.

2) A small number of hot-shot research faculty have negotiated pretty high salaries -- they do it by getting outside offers, which puts pressure on their institution not to lose them. This means that they earn a lot of money -- and thus can become easy targets. Multiple studies have shown that men tend to be more aggressive in salary negotiations... so, they are easier targets.

3) MANY regular tenured faculty have given up higher salaries outside academia for the security of tenure. When a person with a Ph.D. takes a tenure-track position starting at $40,000 -- (after 8-10 years of college), they clearly aren't valuing money. In some disciplines, (like philosophy) this is probably the best they can do -- but, in disciplines with "industry" options -- clearly security is being bought with lower salary. To have universities take that security away sucks.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


I keep thinking about S's last voicemail message on my cell. She left it about September 13th or so -- the last day I saw her.

The essence of it was that her mom had given S until the 15th to "get her shit out of her house". So, she was collecting her stuff (some of which was here), and wanted to know when she could come by.

On September 13th, S's mom made it pretty clear that she didn't want S around. S wasn't really welcome.

Thank goodness S had recently found a good guy -- one who loved her intensely. S would have been just fine without her mom.

S died on September 16th... the day after she was supposed to vacate her mom's...

Her mom is acting like they were so frigging close. She's all over Facebook spewing her stuff...

I know it's all motivated by S's Mom's underlying issues -- and (although S's mom would never admit it), a well-deserved share of guilt. But -- knowing the truth of the situation, it makes me mad all the same.

I sat with S on the deck in August-- when she smoked countless cigarettes and told me about how crappy her mom and sister were to her.

S came to my office for at least two years at BNCC, closed the door and told me how crappy her mom and sister were to her.

S and I would talk on road trips about how crappy her mom and sister were to her.

All S wanted was a semi-polite relationship with them -- and they wouldn't give it to her when she was here.

Now she's gone, and S's mom really hasn't changed much -- but, now she has a reason to get sympathy. I'm trying to be the "bigger person", and I'm succeeding in being polite and supportive on Facebook -- but, here I can vent a bit.

Grrr ---

Moral of the story -- if you really love someone, don't take advantage of them, push them away and abuse them when they are here -- because, you never know when some dumb-ass 19 year-old in a Honda is going to rear-end them...

oh yea, and S's Mom's biggest complaint about the dumb-ass 19 year old is that the chick didn't have any insurance --

I'm all for public school teachers...

but, sometimes I have to wonder about their union. According to this article, at a failing school in Rhode Island, a high school Principal wanted the teachers to do extra training (for which they'd be paid), and extend the school day 30 minutes. The changes were deemed necessary because the school's graduation rate is under 50% -- and at any given time about 50% of the students are failing. Granted, academic success is significantly impacted by outside factors, especially poverty -- but, isn't that why the additional tutoring time is needed?

The teachers there make $72,000-$78,000 per year, in a town with a median income of $22,000. Stop and think about what it would be like, in your area, to make nearly four times the median income. Heck, stop and think about what it would be like to have a salary of $78,000 and no research requirements. To having that salary while still coming close to actually HAVING the summer off -- even if it entailed working a 50-60 hour week during the school year.
I sincerely doubt these teachers have multiple advanced degrees. Even taking grading etc.. into account, being on campus until 3:00 isn't a horrific punishment... for the salary they make.

The union flatly rejected the changes, even when they were told that if they did so, all the faculty and staff would lose their jobs -- essentially, they'd clean house and hire new teachers.

Of course, it's the union that got them their salaries to begin with -- so, maybe it's "live with the union, die with the union"... hmmm.

Monday, February 15, 2010

the new doctor...

is as good, or better, than I expected.

He took time to answer questions. He seems to know what he's doing and he's a generally nice person.

If anybody is going to root around inside me, I'm ok with him doing it.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Denial of tenure is no "reason" to kill...

... of course.

And clearly Amy Bishop was not right to shoot...

It also seems that the reports in the media are missing parts of this story.

According to some reports, when she was denied tenure, UAH retained rights to products she developed while she was on the tenure track. According to some reports, she was a highly productive researcher who was developing products with significant economic value. According to this page, she had a significant number of publications.

I have to wonder why she was denied tenure? From what I've been able to see, her students liked her -- she had a long list of publications and and active research agenda.

The tenure process itself is really horrific (at research institutions -- at BNCC it's pretty easy..). The thing is, the smallest reasons can be used to deny tenure -- really subjective things like "fit". Or, more or less -- we want a youngster in the department --

In bad economic times, budget cutbacks can be used as a reason not to award tenure -- and then the person needs to go back on the market with the 'I was on the tenure track and didn't get it' stain...

I still don't think killing was the right response, but I can see why she might be extraordinarily angry. None of that is coming out in the reports...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

I love my department..

They've all stepped-up to cover my classes.

YEA!!! I love them -- no hassles, no begging -- just, "I can do _________".

I have to say -- I think the 5 of us are a good team -- probably because we don't have to work together a lot :).

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Attention Adminstrators..

Having "staff development day" is bad enough.

Having a state conference of two-year schools is also horrible.

Scheduling the "staff development day" the day before the conference is a horrific idea.

Staf development day sucks -- because it's a fake "we're all one community" kind of day. That means that the actual staff miss an opportunity for actual training they may need, and faculty sit around wondering if they can sneak off to grade... The result is that the generic nature of the event is a waste of time for everyone. Plus, pretending the janitor and the Ph.D.s are exactly the same is so bogus.... (notice, I'm not saying one is better than the other -- just that they are different. If the Ph.D. is an adjunct and the janitor has seniority, the janitory has a better income, job security and health insurance...).

The two-year school conference will start with a speaker who was paid way too much -- and then go into break-out groups that are just an excuse to bitch about our students. I can stay home and do that on the internet.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

I've been "unfriended"...

... and I don't feel bad about it.

To be honest, I accidentally requested the "friendship" -- the person is a friend's mother.

A while back she (the mom) posted something ignorant -- about a small issue. She was incensed that people under 25 needed to take a boating class.

As someone who grew up on a lake and knew about LOTS of stupid stuff people have done on boats, I said I thought it was a good idea.

She came back with some ignorance -- and one of her friends/relatives chimed in. I said that boats can be much more dangerous than cars -- especially since you can drown.

I got notice that ignorant friend said something like "well, if you grew up by water like my kids, you'd know it isn't necessary."

When I went to reply, it turns out that I'm no longer "friends" with the person... hmmm. So, for the record: I grew up on a lake. My dad taught me to "drive" a boat when I was 6. I've known people who were almost killed by other people in boats. A friend from high school lost her husband of 2 months (60 days!!) when he drowned in the lake I lived on. I think it's necessary..and, ignorant friend, if your 21 year-old gets hurt in a drunken boating accident, you'll think so too...

so there

also -- in case you were wondering, Facebook does not send a notice that you've been unfriended... I always wondered that.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Quick student rant...

We aren't BFFs...

There are about 190 of you total.

If you don't tell me your name ANYPLACE in the e-mail, I can't answer your f-ing questions.

that is all.

Some thoughts on my favorite junk-food TV show...

The "Real" Housewives of the OC...

Secret messages to:

Simon -- If you have as strong and good a marriage as you think, Vicki couldn't be "in" your marriage. period. Stop blaming her for your marital problems. The real problem is that you are so sure you are right about things, you can't see that you're making your wife unhappy. Vicki is simply being your wife's advocate -- and you don't like the fact that someone is telling her it's ok to be more independent. Plus, your attitude toward your step-son has been pretty crappy for a long time. Your wife loves her older son -- granted, he's a punk and kind of an ass -- but, he's her's to deal with.

Gretchen -- 1) Your make-up line name is tacky. Just because you are pretty doesn't mean that people will want your make-up. Get a real job. 2) Slade is a bum if he isn't working to contribute to your household. Being your bed buddy isn't enough.

Vicki -- you go girl -- you're working hard and having a good relationship with Don (finally -- you did treat him like crap, but you realize that). You've raised two pretty reasonable kids, good for you!

Lynne- Listen to Gretchen, she has insight into your girls. Also - by now you've figured out that you don't have the money to live the lifestyle you want. I kind of feel sorry for you, maybe because you're pretty, you don't think you have to be smart about these things.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Once Again, I heart my oncologist and his nurse....

I'm not going to get into the gory details... and I will say that I didn't have any bad news from my oncologist...

but, I do need to have another surgery.... girl parts... grrr.

So, the gyno I met once referred me to a hot shot surgeon -- who can't see me for a month. After that month, then -- we'll schedule the surgery.... Dr. Hot Shot wouldn't pencil in a surgery during my spring break. This kind of pissed me off -- because she wouldn't take the chance of not filling up that spot. Instead, I'd have to wait for some other time down the road... instead of doing it when it works for my teaching life. I did explain that I have 190 college students, that arranging substitutes isn't easy and if I was going to be off for 4-6 weeks, two of them had better be spring break and the week following -- which was all on-line. None of this made an impression -- and it pissed me off.

So -- I called my oncologist's nurse because that's the most efficient way to talk to the oncologist. If you recall, I think he's wonderful. I also think his nurse is fantastic -- they're really a good team. Funny thing was that Dr. Hot Shot's practice is at annother branch of my oncology clinic -- the one my oncologist helped to start. Dr. Hot Shot was in diapers (or, not even) when my oncologist started practicing. When I told the nurse that I'd been referred to Dr. Hot Shot, she said "oh, really.. hmm".

So -- I explained the schedule problem to my oncologist's nurse. She got my records, spoke to my oncologist, got his recommendation, called the OB my oncologist likes and called me back to tell me the other office will call me -- all in less than 3 hours. You see why I love them both -- no nonsense, no BS, no taking my time for granted...

Of course, when I got home I had to google the new recommendation -- From what I can tell, he's the OB/GYN/Surgeon version of my oncologist. Perfect -- I love being taken care of by the 'old guy' team. I also know that my oncologist wouldn't recommend him if he didn't think he was both a good surgeon AND a good person.

There is a very remote possibility that I'll end up in more chemo -- but, it isn't likely at this point... and, if I do -- then I'm happy with the fact that my OB/GYN/Surgeon and my oncologist are buddies. Really, the chemo is inconvenient - and what I dislike about it is the prospect that it didn't work -- not the chemo itself.

So -- think good thoughts for me... and cheer on the old guys who will be taking care of me for a while.

Update --- Dr OB/GYN/Surgeon called me tonight PERSONALLY... not his office, he called me. He said he was pretty sure we can make it happen to take my spring break into account -- that I should call his office to schedule an appointment next week and to schedule the surgery.

Yea -- say what you'd like about the patriarchy and old-boy-networks -- I'm darned glad that I'm plugged into this one.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

It's "job" season out there...

Wish Hubby luck -- he's getting interviews!!

The 1L summer associate market is rough, unless you fall into a firm's "diversity" program. The economy forced cuts at law firms and 1L slots were easy targets -- BUT those same firms need to keep their "diversity" numbers good. Hubby is wonderful, but he's white, straight and male... so he doesn't fit into most of the categories for which many firms are hiring...

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Good thing I get up early...

Student e-mail -- 2:15 am...

Dear Proffie, my friend died and her funeral is inconveniently during your class. I can take the quiz on Wednesday, or any other time than 111:0-1:00.

My reply -- at 5:40 AM

Dear slacker (she's a second-chancer whose attendance hasn't been good this time around), you may come at 7:45 or 2:15 to take the quiz with another section. I don't do make-ups for quizzes.

ha --- she thought I wouldn't check e-mail until it was too late for the 7:45 option... we'll see if she checks her e-mail... or, if her mailbox is full.

Groundhog's Day in BNCC

"According to folklore, if a groundhog emerging from its burrow on this day fails to see its shadow, it will leave the burrow, signifying that winter will soon end. If on the other hand, the groundhog sees its shadow, the groundhog will supposedly retreat into its burrow, and winter will continue for six more weeks." -- From wikipedia

Today, in BNstate it's snowing.... an it has been snowing for almost 24 hours.

I'm not sure about the forecast, but I doubt the local groundhog will see his shadow -- and I'm SURE winter isn't going to end "soon" -- if "soon" is less than 6 weeks.

As a kid, I was confused -- I thought seeing his shadow was good -- in early February, winter ending in mid-March was a nice surprise. Usually mid-March brought an icky snowstorm... I can't even count how many "spring" breaks were spent in snow.

Monday, February 01, 2010

A weekend away....

We needed a weekend escape -- and we actually took one!

A nice B & B, on a frozen/snowy lake. A king bed, fireplace and jacuzzi tub -- in the woods. It really was perfect.

Hubby went to play poker at the casino (he broke even, which was fine with me... I like that he has a hobby that generally doesn't cost us much money :).

I found a potter and bought a couple of pieces. I also hung out by the fire and read my book.

The B & Bness of the place was a little weird -- eating breakfast with strangers and feeling like you are coming and going from someone's house -- but, it was a nice, quiet place to recharge.