Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Lost and Found

For the last month, I haven't been able to find my check book. I've been thinking about trying to find it, but what with finishing out the semester, I haven't put any actual energy toward finding it. I mean, I rarely write checks, because I pay all my bills online.

Last night, I had a brainstorm and plunged my arm into the depths of my easy chair (note: Slogger has a matching one. We spend lots of time in our easy chairs, working on our laptops while watching NCIS, CSI, and other acronym-named TV shows).

Lo and behold. Plus some old, dirty popcorn.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

I graded ten unit plans today; I have ten more to grade tomorrow. Then four postbac papers, input the grades, and I'm done. Whee!

Of course, I have a massive, pounding headache now. Wine is helping.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

An Open Letter to My Blog

Dear Beloved Blog,

I apologize. I know I made a commitment to you years ago to regularly update you, and I haven't kept up my end of that commitment.

In my defense, this has been a rough semester for me, with my teaching taking up the bulk of my energy and time. Paradoxically, the same classes that have been taking up most of my energy have given me the least back in satisfaction. Now that finals week is over and I can feel my fingers and toes again, I'm back.

I have been thinking about you! Many times, I have had experiences and thought "wow, I should blog that." Here are a few tidbits.

* I attended a small conference at the beginning of December that I haven't been to in several years. It's one I went to almost every year when I was in graduate school, and many of my friends from graduate school still go there. It was great to see so many old friends, and my presentation was fairly well received. But. I had some conversations about tenure requirements at different schools, and I have a feeling that the standards at High Plains U are relatively low, compared to the places my colleagues are getting tenured at. For a few days, this bothered me. But now I don't really care. The reality is that I have tenure here. I'm not looking for tenure anywhere else. And now that I have tenure I have the luxury to imagine my next really solid and long-term research project, without freaking out and grabbing every opportunity that comes along in order to get the requisite number of pubs. That's right: I'm talking about quality now, over quantity.

* As I mentioned, finals week is finally over. I made it through the semester, by the skin of my teeth, without cursing at my students. This I count as a success. Of course, I'll be grading until I'm about 80. Or until next Thursday, when grades are due.

* Today Slogger and I drove up into the mountains to cut down a Christmas tree. That was fun, but since he's still recovering from his heart attack, and I'm dealing with persistent lung congestion, we're both kind of pooped.

* My brother and his wife, and the triplets, are coming to visit us the week after Christmas. Did I mention that we only have one bathroom? And that the triplets are all 5-year-old boys?

So, that's it for now. I'll try to do better in the future, and I sincerely apologize for the past.

Taking a deep breath,

Dr. Bad Ass

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Getting Older

Yesterday there was a good bit of snow -- on the roads, the car, the parking lot, etc. Since I decided not to buy a parking pass this year, I headed off to the bus parking lot, to take the bus to campus. (Can I just say how much I love that? LOVE IT!)

Anyhoo, the parking lot was beautiful, all sparkling with ice and snow. I was bundled up warmly in my red down coat, warm hat, gloves, and scarf. Cozy, with my cup of coffee and keys in my right hand, and my extremely heavy bag of books and ungraded (!) papers dangling from my left shoulders.

Can you see what's coming? A couple of steps across the glittering parking lot, and I was down on my hands and knees, coffee muddying the snow, book bag skidding across the ice, and wind knocked right out of my chest. Not to mention the shooting pain in my knees and wrists, which took the brunt of the fall. My ankle had turned and hey presto! down I went.

The worst part was that a young man was walking across the parking lot behind me TOTALLY saw me fall, and he just walked by like he saw nothing. Nothing. No "are you ok?" "Can I help you?" Nothing. It was like he was so embarassed for me that he wanted to ignore what just happened.

That makes me sad for him.

Needless to say I shuffled anywhere I went yesterday, and I did a lot of walking around campus. I felt like an 80-year-old woman staring at the ground and taking tiny steps. Thus the title of this entry.

So as yesterday wore on, my back got stiffer and stiffer, my knee got more and more sore. Slogger was great about it, forcing me to sit and lean against a hot water bottle, etc. Unfortunately, I leave tomorrow for a conference in Florida, and I'll be carrying bags and suitcases galore. Oh well.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Oh, Screw It.

I tried. I really did. But NaBloPoMo is just not happening for me this year. Obviously.

So, today we are...

* finally finally finally finalizing our Thanksgiving plans. Holy crap, how I hate waiting until the last minute for stuff like this.
* doing football separately. Slogger will attend the football game, standing on the sidelines. I will be attending the football game through the lovely medium of television, while grading my ass off in preparation for said Thanksgiving plans.
* attending a girls' night out, separately. I tried to get Slogger to go, but he will be watching another football game on tv while I attend my friend AJ's birthday celebration.
Here's what I got her for her birthday (it's an earring and necklace holder, available at Ginny's Ear-Nest. (Just so you know, the name of that site always makes me think of the Twilight Zone episode where the guy has earwigs eating through his brain -- ewww. And yes, I know that earwigs don't do that.)
* doing housework: laundry, laundry, laundry, and more laundry. Plus raking leaves.
Fun times!
Oh, also? Thursday of last week, I came closer than I've ever come before to screaming "F^%$%$ off!" at my class and stomping out the door. Whew. I'll be glad when this semester is over.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

NaBloPoMo '08 #20: A Meme for your Pleasure

LAYER ONE:

* Name: Dr. Bad Ass
* Birthday: June 5
* Birthplace: Big City in Texas
* Current location: High Plains City
* Eye color: Green
* Hair color: mostly gray with just a little brown left
* Height: 5'5
* Righty or lefty: Righty
* Zodiac sign: Gemini

LAYER TWO:

* Your heritage: English… and Texan!
* The shoes you wore today: Danskos
* Your weakness: sugar
* Your fears: being alone too soon
* Your perfect pizza: gourmet veggie from Papa Murphy's
* Goal you’d like to achieve: bachelor's degree in geology; promotion to full professor

LAYER THREE:

* Your most overused phrase on AIM: huh?
* Your first waking thoughts: Where's the coffee?
* Your best physical feature: eyes
* Your most missed memory: family camping vacations

LAYER FOUR:

* Pepsi or Coke: duh. Dr. Pepper
* McDonald’s or Burger King: both are gross
* Single or group dates: Single
* Adidas or Nike: New Balance
* Lipton Ice Tea or Nestea: nothing but homemade, baby, with sugar
* Chocolate or vanilla: Chocolate
* Cappuccino or coffee: nonfat latte

LAYER FIVE:

* Smoke: yes, for a couple of years after my divorce
* Cuss: like a sailor!
* Sing: of course.
* Take a shower everyday: no
* Do you think you’ve been in love: absolutely. Still am.
* Want to go to college: been there, done that. Still doing it.
* Liked high school: No.
* Want to get married: Both times
* Believe in yourself: most of the time
* Get motion sickness: No
* Think you’re attractive: Absolutely
* Think you’re a health freak: not in the least
* Get along with your parent(s): sure. My mom is my favorite pal.
* Like thunderstorms: not especially
* Play an instrument: piano, clarinet, bass clarinet, and guitar

LAYER SIX: In the past month…

* Drank alcohol: some
* Smoked: No
* Done a drug: um no except for Lipitor
* Made out: yes
* Gone on a date: Yes
* Gone to the mall: shit, no
* Eaten an entire box of Oreos: No
* Eaten sushi: yes
* Been on stage: No
* Been dumped: No
* Gone skating: No
* Made homemade cookies: no
* Gone skinny dipping: No
* Dyed your hair: No
* Stolen Anything: No

LAYER SEVEN: Ever…

* Played a game that required removal of clothing: yes
* Been trashed or extremely intoxicated: Yes
* Been caught “doing something”: no
* Been called a tease: no
* Gotten beaten up: No
* Shoplifted: yes
* Changed who you were to fit in: yes

LAYER EIGHT:

* Age you hope to be married: Past tense … 26 and 40
* Numbers and names of children: none, but I have two stepchildren and two cats
* Describe your dream wedding: already had it -- married by the captain of a dive cruise boat
* How do you want to die: not sure. Definitely not in a fire.
* Where you want to go to college: University of the High Plains
* What do you want to be when you grow up: never want to grow up
* What country would you most like to visit: Uganda

LAYER NINE:

* Number of drugs taken illegally: 1
* Number of people I could trust with my life: 3
*Number of CDs that I own: no idea. Maybe 100?
* Number of piercings: two
* Number of tattoos: 1, a turtle!
* Number of times my name has appeared in the newspaper: a couple I guess
* Number of scars on my body: 5

NaBloPoMo '08 #19: Scientific Dreams

Last night I dreamed about scientific notation. I was trying to work out (all night, I would add) how scientific notation looks. Not quite like an exponent, but there's an exponent involved.... I was shuffling around numbers and tens and exponents and multiplication signs until the wee hours of the morning until I finally (in my dream) recalled exactly how scientific notation works.

(I know. But I've only recently become involved with scientific notation, since I've started down my road to science geekdom.)

And then I went to algebra class this morning, where ....

we were doing logarithmic functions involving scientific notation.

Prescient. And clairvoyant. And scientific.

NaBloPoMo '08 #18: Damn It Again

Forgot to post yesterday. Damn it. I'm so not good at coming up with anything insightful, entertaining, or even remotely interesting.

EXCEPT! That Tuesday I began having second (or perhaps third? fourth? fifth?) thoughts about why my classes haven't been so good this semester. A very good student stayed after class to talk with me about the upcoming student teaching semester (she's scared, but I have every confidence in her) and said,

"You know, Dr. Bad Ass. Most of the students in this class really do care, and are trying hard. We just want to know that you think we can be successful."

I don't know quite how to respond to that. I do think that some of them will be successful. But I think many of them will have to work much, much harder in order to be successful. Harder than they've been working for me. So how do I handle my disappointment in the face of their lack of energy and enthusiasm? Shouldn't I express that disappointment? Or should I put on a happy face and say, yes you'll all be fine?

So. Still not sure how to respond.

Monday, November 17, 2008

NaBloPoMo '08 #17: Momentary Panic

This morning, as algebra instruction, continued, I remembered why I never liked mathematics in high school or college. My instructor started us on logarithmic functions. I do have a faint memory of logarithms from high school. Much more powerful is my memory of overwhelming panic when faced with logarithms.

OK, it's been 20-some-odd years since then, but didn't this morning bring back exactly the same form of panic? Lucky for me, I'm a grown-up now. I still don't exactly understand what's going on, but I know I'm capable of figuring it out. Easily. By reading and working on it.

I wish I could go back to that high school girl and tell her to take a deep breath, bring home her algebra book, and figure it out for herself. That's what the grown-up me will be doing.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

NaBloPoMo '08 #16: On the Downhill Side

Woohoo! Only half a month left until NaBloPoMo is officially over. Until that time, you can expect daily posts full of nothing.

Today was another low-key day for us. After our traditional Sunday-morning coffee shop visit, we raked some leaves, made some turkey chili, finished the laundry, and watched a movie. I worked a bit on writing an evaluation report, but nothing significant.

Now we're drinking some red wine and "chillaxin" as Slogger would say.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

NaBloPoMo '08 #15:

Today was a pretty low-key day for us. I think I stayed in my pjs until about 3,and then we drove over to the animal shelter to visit the dogs and cats, but not to bring any home yet. There were a couple of beautiful border collie mixes, but there's also a mother with a litter of tiny pups -- Slogger is thinking about adopting one of the pups once they are old enough. Breed? Rottweiler. They're big and powerful, but if we bring one up from a puppy, we can work some Dog Whisperer magic on it. The puppies should be old enough after Christmas, so I'll keep you all informed on any dog stuff...

After we got back home, I cleaned out the refrigerator. Yes, that's the kind of fun stuff I like to do on a Saturday night. But then we went to the last home volleyball game, which we won!

Friday, November 14, 2008

NaBloPoMo '08 #14: B Minus Student

This morning I woke up late, skipped a meeting, but didn't skip class. I thought about . Oh, yes, I considered skipping my algebra class, but the good girl in me didn't let go and I went on to my class, though I was about 10 minutes class. When I arrived, the instructor was already handing back the exam. Since said exam was only last night, I can imagine him staying up really late to get it graded.

When I got mine back, I was disappointed to find that I received a B minus. It's odd, really, because on my first exam, I thought I made a B only to find out that I had actually received an A. Then on this second exam, I thought that I had an A only to find out that I received a B. Truthfully, as the instructor went over the exam, I should have had some points taken off, but I chose to keep quiet about that. Several students in my class (freshmen, I think) were quite annoyed with choices made by the graders about partial credit. My take is that partial credit is a bonus, so you should keep your mouth shut about it. Not to mention the points that could have been taken off of my exam and weren't. Was that because I'm a professor? I'm not sure -- I'm chalking it up to a late night and possible inebration.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

NaBloPoMo '08 #13: Algebra Exam and Other News

In about 30 minutes here, I'll be taking my second algebra exam. Just a bit nervous, but not too worried.

I did email my students this morning to tell them that we would not be working with the article, but instead I would give them some time to work on this big massive project from hell that is due at the end of the semester. However, being the slackers they are, most of them didn't take advantage of the time I gave them in class.

Then I got to have a conversation with the student who sits in my class with her angry face on all the time. Huh. Says she's not actually angry. Really? Then why do you look like you're going to pinch someone's head off, as my southern friends like to say?

Hmm?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

NaBloPoMo '08 #12: Holy Crap, What a Day

Non-stop working is going to continue long into the night. Plus I'm feeling might sorry for both me AND my students after re-reading the chapter we'll be discussing tomorrow. What a piece of shit. Why the hell did I think it would be a good idea to read it?

I'm thinking of emailing them all and telling them we'll have a work session on the big assignment for the semester, and not to mess with the reading.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

NaBloPoMo '08 #10: Happy Birthday, Mom

Today is Slogger's mom's 92nd birthday. She is an amazing trooper. We called her this morning to wish her a happy birthday and she told us all about her plans for the day, what her guide dog was up to (a white poodle named Marilyn), etc. She is a tiny woman, about 4'10", but she has a will of steel.

Then I went to work. Sigh.

Once I got home, I started on the rum and Coke. And remembered I needed to blog today. Nuff said. Now I'm watching a bit of TV (The Mentalist) and planning to study, eventually for my algebra exam on Thursday.

Monday, November 10, 2008

NaBloPoMo '08 #10: Script

In one of my courses, students write a variety of pieces throughout the semester, including keeping a writer's notebook that they must write in three times a week. The course focuses on writing pedagogy, and I use this set of assignments to model writing workshop, with the hope that having been involved in a writing workshop as a student will encourage them to use it in their own classrooms when they are teachers.

We've done a memoir, a set of poems, and now they are working on developing a third piece (their choice) that should spring from their writer's notebooks. I'm writing with them, and I've decided that my third piece will be a script... and the setting is my classroom. I'm going to take some of the quirky little things that my students do and push them to the nth degree, make them much wackier.

What do you think? Will this offend my students? And do I care?

Sunday, November 09, 2008

NaBloPoMo '08 #9:

Today I'll be taking my cranky self into the dining room so that I can ...
* grade
* grade, and
* grade.

Perhaps I'll also make a big vat of chicken broth to freeze. Since Slogger's heart attack, I've gotten in the habit of making batches of healthier versions of food, like spaghetti sauce, chicken broth, bread, etc. I'll use the broth that I make to whip up some lovely chicken and dumplings for supper. We've got snow and wintery mix forecast for tomorrow, so some warming comfort food is in order.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

NaBloPoMo '08#8: Napping, Babies, Football, and other Saturday Events

So our house guests came with their babies, we had an enjoyable lunch while watching our High Plains University football team win (!) a game against a massively huge juggernaut of a team, currently down on their luck.

That was great.

Their baby was the cutest, with fat little cheeks that I chose not to squeeze because I was afraid of the spreading of the lung crud still living within me.

And now that Slogger is napping and I have caught up with my blogging, and the house is quiet, I too will go and nap. Looking forward to it.

NaBloPoMo '08 #7:

Yes, it's finally Saturday. I found out this week that a couple of papers that I co-authored were accepted at a massive conference for next spring. That makes me both happy and sad. Happy because I do like going to conferences, especially with friends. Sad because now I have to work on those papers, which I'm not particularly excited about. I do like the papers; it's just hard to imagine working on anything on a Saturday morning.

Today we're having a few friends over for lunch, which means we're undertaking a massive house clean-up. I guess it's good to invite people over about once a month in order to thoroughly clean our house.

Friday, November 07, 2008

NaBloPoMo '08 #6: Dammit

I forgot to blog yesterday, so there go my NaBloPoMo creds. But I'm going to blog twice today!

In other news, I forced myself to finish the online certification program for human subjects research that High Plains University has begun requiring. That was one of my research goals for this week, so I'm almost there.

I'll be spending the rest of the day as follows:
*department research meeting this morning (where I will NOT owe $5, because I was so diligent yesterday {patting self on back})
*math class from 9-10, along with a quiz
*analyzing the rest of the focus group interview transcript
*working with red on survey data for our statewide evaluation

A full day! I hope to get a bowl of soup in there somewhere . . . .

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

NaBloPoMo '08 #5: Winter is Here


I just took this picture out my office window, during a lull in the snowstorm now hitting High Plains City. Unfortunately, I rode my bike to work this morning, so it looks like a chilly ride home.

Anyway, I'm off to put on my down coat (thank goodness I wore that!) and ride home. I'll be warmed inside knowing that FINALLY the guy I voted for got elected! Yippee!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

NaBloPoMo '08 #4: Election-Day Tidbits

I'm LOVING this country right now.

* A colleague came to school dressed in red, white, and blue, complete with shiny red Danskos.

* Slogger left the house this morning at 6:45, worried that the lines at our polling place would be so long that he wouldn't be able to vote AND get to work on time. By 7:10, he was back home for another cup of coffee.

* After my afternoon class, a large group of students walked out the door planning their carpool to the voting booths.

* Near the student union, a group of students were asking people if they had voted, handing out "I Voted" stickers, and offering rides to the polls. As I walked by, one woman saw the signs and flags all over the car they were using, and said "Oh, can I get a ride?"

* This morning a colleague of mine told me that she was wearing blue panties in an attempt to sway the voters toward Obama.

Monday, November 03, 2008

NaBloPoMo '08 #3: Voting and Other Errands

When I woke up this morning, I spent a good bit of time debating with myself. Should I ride my bike to work? Should I drive/take the bus? Should I walk? This was a complicated decision, because of the still-existing chest congestion, needing to vote and get a flu shot today, and also needing to carry back to work the tons of grading that I took home on Friday (only half of it finished), not to mention the framed teaching award that Slogger put together for me this weekend (THANKS, HON!).

I decided to ride my bike, leave the frame at home until tomorrow, and vote at 11 after I got out of class. Voting was a bit of a mess, actually, with tons of people crammed into a little space and lines snaking around everywhere. Luckily, I was already registered to vote, so I got the short line, waited a few minutes for them to prepare my ballot, and then voted. Once that was finished, I decided I needed some soup as a reward for my good behavior, so I rode my bike downtown (three blocks!) to get some lunch. I did grade a few papers during my solitary lunch, but still not anywhere near enough.

Since I was downtown, I decided to go ahead and get my flu shot. IT HURT. But it's all for a good cause, I guess, since I'm in a category required to get the shot. Then I rode my bike back to the office, and now I'm back to the grading . . .

More tomorrow! (Hey, I didn't promise the posts would be scintillating, just that there would be one of them each day in November.)

Sunday, November 02, 2008

NaBloPoMo '08 #2: Football (yes) and some musings about teaching

So yesterday, in spite of my good intentions, I ended up watching several football games. Our (which we won, finally!), our rivals (which they lost, yeah!), and my home doc university's (which we lost, boo). Two happies and one sad. I also did lots of grading, but not enough.

This morning, Slogger and I walked slowly downtown for our weekly ritual of coffee and bagels. Slowly, I say, because his ankle is still sore from falling off a bike a couple of weeks ago (and subsequent coumadin-inspired bleeding/bruising) and because I have little energy as a result of some chest congestion. (Though I should add that the chest congestion is responding well to the Mucinex my doctor suggested. Maybe that is also making me sleepy? Not sure. Anyhoo....)

As we were slowly walking I was thinking about this semester's classes, and the algebra class I am currently taking. I was wishing with part of my self that my courses could be more concrete than they are, that I could just give tests and feel certain that my students are getting everything I want them to get (before they go out and foist their lack of knowledge on the unsuspecting students in high school around the state!).

Well, the truth is, I could give tests. And perhaps I will. I used to give a take-home midterm examination, and I liked the way it helped students to study enough to make the information I gave them concrete, in a much more solid way than asking them to apply the information to a huge project, as I also do every semester. Or perhaps what I mean is that I have more certainty, from looking at the test results, that my students are thinking about the concepts I want them to think about outside of class.

That's probably the bottom line for me -- I want them to engage: in class, out of class, after they graduate.

So, next fall, I might give a mid-term and final. How will that change what I'm asking for in class? We'll see.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

NaBloPoMo '08 #1: No-Football Saturday

Normally, I like college football. Not as much as basketball, mind you, but it's ok. Slogger and I have season tickets to the football games, and normally I would go. But today? Today is a day for grading and cooking and laundry. I've got the crockpot chicken already slowly cooking, the second load is in the washer, and that brings me to my third event of the day:

Grading.

Today, I am planning to work through 14 sets of poetry that my students handed in last Tuesday. I know I should have graded more between then and now, but what can I say? I just didn't get to it. It's actually a fairly simple procedure, and more one of responding than of grading. I just read through their three poems, check to see that they have sufficient peer feedback and multiple drafts, read their reflection letters, and assign a letter grade. Then I record verbal feedback on strengths and possible revisions they might want to make, post them on the website, and go on to the next. I've been doing this audio feedback thing for a while now, and I have to say that I'm pleased with it. At least some of my students like it -- the ones who don't haven't been too loud. I believe that I can be clearer with my feedback, and it seems that my students get more clarity on what they need to work on as well. I wish I could do this with reviewing for journals!

And then I've also got some sets of smaller assignments to grade -- reading responses and the like -- which I will probably do while watching a football game on television.

Good news on the basketball front, because the women's season begins next Tuesday. And really, women's basketball is SOOOO much more fun to watch than men's. I've always liked women's basketball better, since I started teaching high school in California and was the 30-second clock keeper for our women's team. I think that women's teams tend to do team play more than individual, and that's the kind of sport I like to watch.

With the first game being election night, I wonder if they will announce election results at the game? Or ignore it alltogether?

Friday, October 31, 2008

Na.Blo.Po.Mo

Who knew it would come around so fast? Today is only October 31st, but I'm getting in some practice for tomorrow's big jumping-off.

Yes, this is a post.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Flip! and other stuff


Because I am involved in a "use-cool-technology-while-teaching" group here at High Plains U, I was given a Flip Video today (part of the enticement for being a member of the group). It's the coolest, and pretty soon I'll be posting video I've taken with it. Probably of my cats.

Why the cats, you may ask? Well, because I'm not feeling so well lately, so I'm not getting out of the house or office much. I'm in the beginning stages of yet another round of bronchitis, which makes me the opposite of happy and healthy. As of yet, I'm only in the out-of-breath, tight-chest, occasional coughing phase, but I'm looking forward to the all-out, I'd-rather-be-dead, I-really-can't-breathe phase. Fun times! Oh, and did I mention it's advising week?

Certain of my students continue to annoy. Perhaps I will videotape their pissy expressions (with! my new Flip!) and send them video to let them know how they look in class. It's a start.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Enjoying The Freshmen

This morning it was my turn to guest-lecture in our department's 1000-level course, for incoming students in the variety of majors that make up the department. The course is a "topics" course and also serves to meet the university studies description of an Intellectual Community course.

The faculty member who teaches this course on a regular basis has an oddly arranged load, and he consistently asks for other department members to guest-lecture while he is away at conferences. So, that's ok, I don't mind doing it. I always take some aspect of my specialty in the department and has things out, usually with a powerpoint slide of some kind, discussion questions, group work, etc. The common theme I've seen across semesters with this course is the huge difficulty in getting students to have a conversation, to talk, to engage themselves with the content. Perhaps this is unavoidable and understandable, since I'm only a guest-lecturer and these students are (mostly) not in my major.

However. This semester I didn't have much time to prepare, so I just wrote a few notes and headed off to class. No powerpoint, no group work, no fanciness at all. In the hallway outside the room, I took a deep breath, murmured "I am the pack leader," walked into class, and took over. I introduced myself. I asked the students to do a quick-write on two questions, and then we talked about their answers for the remainder of class.

And boy did they talk! It was amazing. Every single student in the class said something. There was one girl in the back who was addictively texting during the whole class, but I could tell she was listening, so I let it go. There was another kid on the right with his feet up on the table, but I decided to interpret that as his casual nature rather than an attempt to be offensive.

I let them out of class five minutes early (in order to walk back across campus in time for my advising appointments) feeling absolutely positive about the class. Cool! I AM the pack leader!

Speaking of pack leaders, here are my current obsessions:
* The Dog Whisperer
* The Dog Whisperer
* The Dog Whispere
* Twilight
* The Dog Whisperer

That is all. Notice the absence of Harry Potter -- I've managed to stop obsessively rereading the series by reading one of the Dog Whisperer books and then moving on to Twilight.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Conferencing Bullets

Ages since I last posted, so I thought I would update with some bullets.

* I'm currently in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, attending a regional conference with some folks I like. Next year I'll be the program chair for this conference (!) and I'm actually feeling pretty good about it. I'm pretty organized, and it's a fairly small conference, so ... no worries.
* It's snowing outside. Bummer. But since it's supposed to also be snowing in High Plains City, I think I would be experiencing this no matter what.
* I'm paying $12 a day for the internet, so I'm pretty sure that part of the reason I'm blogging is because I want to get my money's worth.
* My friend Red is now Associate Dean of the college. She's my roommate, and has a bigger travel fund than I do.
* Slogger received an email about a couple looking to find a new home for their 7-month old Miniature Pinscher. I guess he's considering it, but I hope it doesn't turn out to be another Oscar. Oscar was a cute little dog we saw on a Friday a couple of months ago at the local animal shelter. He was perfect for us, but Slogger was hesitant, so we didn't take him. By the time Monday rolled around, Slogger had decided that Oscar was the dog for us; however, when I called the animal shelter Monday morning, Oscar had already been adopted. Much mourning over the lost Oscar ensued.
* My students and I are all thrilled that we didn't have class on Thursday. Thrilled, I tell you! And I'm also letting them out of class the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Thrilled again!
* I think I've already gained 10 pounds at this conference, and it is only the second day.
* I bought these shoes. They should be there by the time I get home.
* Last night I had to finish an algebra assignment before we could go out and have a drink. Took me two hours. Erg.
* There's a candidate for one of our searches(it's a high-powered position and I'm on the search committee) at this conference, and I want to pull him/her aside to talk about the search, BUT I want to do it in a way that doesn't reveal anything to his/her colleagues. Can't seem to find this person alone to do that . . .

And that's about all I've got. Here's hoping that the snow will melt before we're ready to head home . . . .

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Preach It, Brother!

This had me standing in my living room, cheering and crying! Holy crap, do I believe this guy.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Strangely Comforting

Because I'm too freaking busy to post anything worthwhile:




What Your Socks Say About You



You Are:



- Infinitely enchanting

- Simply amazing

- An incredible person

- A true star

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Losing It

No, not my mind.

I got on the scale this morning, expecting to have gained a couple of pounds, due to not exercising, not really paying attention to what I eat (although, see below for a caveat), and generally being stressed and anxious about life and teaching and etc.

Instead, I had lost three pounds.

That is a shocker!

I can only attribute this loss to the daily riding of my new cruiser, the cutting back of carbs and booze in an attempt to lower my triglycerides, and perhaps aforementioned stress and anxiety?

Anyway, I'll take it.

In other news, the students in my college algebra class yesterday had me rolling my eyes and snorting with laughter. First, there is the fact that my instructor is an undergraduate and looks like he is about 12. Granted, he seems to know his math. Then there are the two girls in the back row (and yes, I'm using "girls" advisedly, because they look and act like 8th-graders who are getting to go to the prom with a senior) who NEVER STOP TALKING the entire class. The instructor doesn't take roll, so I'm not sure why they are there. Certainly not to learn anything.

And then there was the poor kid on the back row with a cold, who blew his/her nose at least 30 times in a 50-minute period. No kidding. It got to the point where every time I heard a nose blowing from behind me, I started giggling and couldn't stop. Seriously. I think I even snorted a couple of times.

I'll post more later about the interesting computer system for doing our homework online, which I love but the other students hate.

For now, I'm off to teach a class, attend a meeting (with pizza, which I will not eat), teach another class, attend a meeting, and then go to a volleyball game. Ha. Crazy day.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Celebration/Convocation

Last night was a reception at the President's house (of the University, that is) for all of those who were promoted this year. Slogger and I went, and we enjoyed ourselves. I was hoping that attending this event would allow me to get to know a few of the higher-ups, but it was a bit crowded for that. Really, all I want is for people I have met a couple of times to recognize me when they see me on campus. This rarely happens (the recognizing bit, I mean). Anyway, it was a good dinner, and all of those promoted did get a nice gift, a zippered leather notebook case thingy. Really nice. And it smells like leather (cause it is leather!).

This afternoon is the Convocation. (Footslogger emailed me this morning and asked "Have you convocated yet?" Nope. Not till this afternoon.) The Convocation is an opportunity for all of us who were promoted to be individually recognized, and an opportunity for said President (see above) to make a "state-of-the-university" speech. Should be interesting.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Teaching While Anxious

OK, I know I've been a bad blogger. Really, I know. These first two weeks of classes have been a bit on the crazy side, mostly because of my anxieties. I'm writing journal entries with my Methods I class, so I'm using one of those entries as my blog catch-up.

________________________________________________________________________


I've been feeling this semester (already, in the first two weeks) a sense of anxiety about my classes, my teaching, my students. I'm not sure where this comes from. It could be a normal part of the fall semester, as I enculturate a new group of students into my way of teaching. They are (or many of them are) making a transition -- several transitions, really. From their English classes (largely lecture/discussion) to my methods classes (collaborative, constructivist). From being a student (passive) to being a teacher (active). so some of it could be happening every fall, and I just don't remember it from last year. But then again, perhaps my students last year were so wonderful that it didn't happen.

Or perhaps I have just gone too far down the constructivist highway. I hate seeing certain students looking as if being in my class is painful, something like a dentist appointment. May they are just cranky!

Then again, perhaps I am experiencing a heightened sense of anxiety, because of Slogger's health issues. Overall, I'm feeling more anxiety in my life these days, which can be brought up very easily by the slightest thing. For example, I just walked over to the Education building and back, and as I was walking back I realized that the shows I have on today (brown leather Clark's) were the same shoes I wore almost every day during the 2 weeks Slogger was in the hospital. Just that thought sent a cramping sensation to my stomach and an unwelcome feeling of anxiety and dread. I coudl very well be carrying this into my classroom.

Another possibility is that now that I have received the big university-wide teaching award, I feel the pressure has heightened for me to perform well as a teacher. this is a self-induced torture, however, as I don't believe that many -- or possibly any! -- of my students are aware of the award.

So where to go from here. Let it go (picture me sweeping my hands over my head -- this is a gesture of release for me). Let it go. Take deep breaths before, during, and after class. Slow down. Focus on course goals. Make it concrete when it feels too fuzzy. Refer to future assignments. Realize that none of it affects me in any material way, because I HAVE tenure, I've BEEN promoted and I RECEIVED that teaching award. Ha! So there.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Down by Half!

Yesterday the results of my blood work arrived, and my cholesterol values are CUT IN HALF! IN HALF! I have to say, I love me some Lipitor.

Now for the bad news: my triglycerides are still high. I did a google search on cutting triglycerides, and it looks like I have to cut out all of the stuff I love:
* carbohydrates
* sugar
* alcohol

Yes, alcohol.

I'm bummed. I guess I'll go have a salad for lunch. Cause I'm supposed to eat more green leafy vegetables and lose weight.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Class Tomorrow

Today was the first day of classes. Not mine, which start tomorrow. So I spent today putting out fires and cleaning out files. First fire: the guy from the Benefits office called and left a message that the tuition waiver form for me in their office didn't have the signature from the "appointing authority" -- ie., the Dean. This is something the department secretary should have done. I told her to be sure and send it to the Dean's office before sending it to the Benefits Office; it said on the form that it required another signature. But she didn't. So, I spent a good chunk of today running a duplicate copy of the form hither and yon, getting signatures, etc. Because if it wasn't turned in today, I would end up paying my own tuition. I mean, I could pay my own tuition, but I'd rather not, since the university offers to pay for one course a semester.

I also attended my first (repeat) class of College Algebra this morning. I think the GA teaching the class is about 12.

This evening Slogger and I had salmon cooked on the grill, rice, and green beans almondine. Perfect. But I've been feeling cranky and low. After giving it some thought, I realized that the teaching award I was given last spring has ratcheted up the anxiety level for the first day of class. Now I have something to live up to! Slogger says I need to just approach class as I always have, and that's good advice I'll try to remember.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Not Knocking

I was working in my office this morning when I heard students walking down the hall. The next thing I knew, one of those students were standing in the middle of my office, while the other hung out in the doorway. This student -- one of my advisees -- had walked in without knocking. Without. Knocking. Or even pausing in the doorway.

The shock of it kept me from saying anything about it -- I answered the question and they went on their way.

I have a vague memory of someone doing that during advising week. Now that I know who it is, he will be getting a lesson in etiquette the next time I see him.

Back from Dallas, and some Bullets

I returned home from Dallas on Sunday night, late, and am still recovering. I recognize that it's been over a week since I posted. It's been an emotional week, and I do want to share some of that with you (oh you few) readers.

First, the traveling. I flew from Big Western City into Kansas City, where Sheri picked me up. We then drove the rest of the day to Dallas, talking all the way. By the time we got there, my throat was sore! Needless to say, there are reasons that Sheri is one of my best friends from childhood. She makes me feel like there is someone else out there who gets me. (And she reads my blog, so that was kind of fun -- I would start telling her a story and she would say "Oh, yeah, I read about that on your blog.")

Wednesday night we arrived in Dallas, and Sheri dropped me off at my brother's MASSIVE house out in the country. Did I say massive? Uh, yeah. Huge. Anyway, the triplets had stayed up late to see their Auntie Bad Ass, and that was fun to get little boy hugs all around. My mom and stepdad were also there, and that was great. We were all pooped, so we didn't stay up too late.

The next morning was the funeral service, which was an emotional roller-coaster for me. Needless to say, I cried through the whole ceremony. I think the root of those tears came from several places. First was my concern for JR's family, imagining his wife of 57 years now on her own, his children and grand-children and even one great grand-child making their way in the world without him. There was also this piece of me that was remembering my own father's death, which I've never really resolved. Finally, I was imagining myself in the same situation, hopefully after a very long time, losing Slogger. I guess that feeling makes sense as we have gone through a near-death episode only a few months ago. I was sitting next to my younger brother during the ceremony, and just when I would get the tears under control, I would look over and see him bawling, which set me off again. We are a weepy bunch, my brother and me!

After the service, we grabbed some lunch and headed out to the Woods (JR's 40-acre plot of land in East Texas, where I spent so many weekends as a child) to visit with family and friends. That was a great time, though also a bit teary. It was a time of chatting with old friends, including JR's daughter H, who was my first best friend. I also got to catch up with Sheri's sister D, meet her daughters, and spend a bit of time with her brother (also D, but with no good pseudonym yet!).

I don't have time this morning to do an adequate job of writing the whole week, but I'll provide some highlights of the remainder of the week:

  • pizza dinner at the pool with Sheri, D, D, and their kids
  • bowling with triplets! and the triplet named after my dad won!
  • driving back to Kansas City with Sheri, and never running out of talk
  • pulling into a Sonic for an ice cream, and hearing the Wimbleway song on the radio. [Long story about our Scout troop, singing, and this song.]
  • hearing JR's wife (BR) say how much it means to her that "her girls" came to honor JR


And now, back to my regular life. Still some tears now and then, but hugs from Footslogger help. Yesterday was the dissertation defense for the doc student in geology, for whom I'm serving as the outside member. Way, way outside, as I told the other committee members. Three hours? Wow.

I did manage to finish my course syllabi yesterday, but I still need to get ready for the first day of classes, call the vet and get Marty an appointment (she's limping again, and it's probably arthritis, but I want to take her in just to be sure), unpack my suitcase (!), and get some laundry done. Lots to get to. So I'm off to exercise and get going on that -- more later.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Loss

I found out a few days ago that a man who I think of as my second father (JR) passed away, after a short bout with cancer. I'll be traveling to Kansas City next Wednesday to join up with my friend-since-3rd-grade Sheri, and we'll drive together (in her Prius, thank the stars above) to Dallas for the funeral on Thursday. Can I just say that I'm not looking forward to the weather?

JR has been a part of my life since I was 5 years old, when my parents met JR and his wife (BR) at a Mensa meeting. Their children were approximately the same ages, so the friendship among the parents meant friendship among the kids. Years followed of sleepovers, co-family camping trips, week-long vacations camping on Padre Island, weekends at The Woods (their 40-acre plot of land, with a POND!), Scouting opportunities, etc.

JR taught me to shoot a gun safely, that life in the summer without air conditioning can be liveable (barely), and that dancing the fox trot can be fun.

He was as close to a nudist as it comes -- when I took Slogger out to JR and BR's house to meet them, I warned him that we would likely see JR in the skimpiest of Speedo's, rolled down to a mere whisper of cloth. Slogger laughed, but my prediction was accurate. I'll always picture him tanned and thin, wearing his tiny red Speedo, with a Swisher Sweet hanging from his mouth, laughing.

I can't imagine the world without him.

And, of course, his death has ratcheted up my concern for Footslogger's health, as I imagine JR's wife and children coping with his loss and then picture myself in their place. I'm trying not to dwell there, as both Slogger and I plan for him to be around for many, many years.

After the funeral on Thursday, there will be a get-together for friends and family at their home. I'm looking forward to seeing very old friends (most of whom I haven't seen for years) and to being with my mother, brother, and nephews for a few days.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Of Tiling, Asbestos, and a New Diet Plan

Yesterday, our college administrative person (who is utterly fabulous, so I don't blame her for this AT ALL) (really, I don't blame anyone, I'm just whining) emailed everyone whose office resides on my floor to let us know that after noon today, we won't have access to our offices for a week. Why, you may ask, in the middle of getting ready for fall classes, would this happen? Well, we're getting new tile flooring in the hallway and the stairwells. Oh, and in order to take out the existing flooring, they have to do asbestos abatement. Enthusiasm for this project was sparked when we had our accreditation visit last spring (which we passed! with flying colors!). Part of getting-ready-for-the-accreditation-visit was spiffing up the buildings, which included retiling and repainting the hallway on the first floor, where most of the action is. Third floor? I don't think the accreditation visitors ever made it up that far! So anyway, I'll be heading in to the office early this morning, hoping to finish AT LEAST getting the readings lined up for one of my fall courses (the one I'm completely revising) so that I can work on other stuff at home.

Like the 300-page dissertation I have to read from a field completely outside of my knowledge base. I'm interested in this field, but not knowledgeable at all. Remember the science geek attempts? It's in that field: geology/geophysics. I'm the outside member, as in way outside. Let's just say that the title includes lots of things I don't know about, like "lattice-preferred orientation analysis" and "abyssal peridotites." Whew.

The science geek project, by the way, is still ongoing, but I'm in such lower-level courses at the moment that it feels like one of those dreams where you're trying really hard to run, but your body will not move? Like trying to run through big vats of yogurt or something.

Anyway, in other news, I have been running on my treadmill all summer, and not losing any weight (which is ANNOYING!) so I decided I should probably pay attention to my diet as well. I've downloaded this software, which is still in its trial period. But I'm thinking about purchasing it, because I really like the ability to track what I'm eating and how much I'm exercising. If nothing else, it gives me something positive to do in that direction. And -- other than hiking for six months at a time -- this process of tracking intake and output is the only way I've lost weight in the past. So, I'm shooting for losing about 25 pounds by January.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

And While I'm At It . . .

A subject near and dear to my heart: punctuation. Along the lines of a quiz, I turn out to be one of my favorite, and thus most overused punctuation marks -- the dash.




You Are a Dash



Your life is fast paced and varied. You are realistic, down to earth, and very honest.

You're often busy doing something interesting, and what you do changes quickly.



You have many facets to your personality, and you connect them together well.

You have a ton of interests. While some of them are a bit offbeat, they all tie together well.



You friends rely on you to bring novelty and excitement to their lives.

(And while you're the most interesting person they know, they can't help feeling like they don't know you well.)



You excel in: Anything to do with money



You get along best with: the Exclamation Point

I WON! I WON!

Woo-hoo! Brigindo was crazy enough to nominate me for my very first blogging award:









I am so honored, touched, and proud -- especially to be nominated by someone whose writing is so elegant and soothing.

So, here are the rules:

1. Put the logo on your blog.
2. Add a link to the person who awarded it to you.
3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
4. Add links to these blogs on your blog.
5. Leave a message for your nominee on their blog.


And since we all know I'm a rule follower from WAY BACK, here you go:

I nominate the following...

Pamela Jeanne at Coming2Terms
Rudbeckia Hirta at Learning Curves
Life of a Fool
Musey at My Hiding Place
Jen at Oh, And . . .
Russian Violets
Belle at Scattered and Random


wow, that was tough. Hard decisions to make. And if I've left you out of the brilliant party, and you want to be part of it, consider yourself nominated!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Dogs and Mandolins

Now that our lovely fence is up around our jungle-like backyard (it's a small jungle, but a jungle nonetheless), we're thinking about getting a dog.

Thinking about it.

It would be a big change for us, as we've always -- at least since Slogger and I have been together, and that's 10 years -- had just the cats. We've commented many times on how much easier cats are than dogs. We can leave them alone for weeks at a time (with someone to check on them every other day, so don't flame me about that), we don't have to come home at lunch and walk them, etc.

Yesterday after we went to capitol city to buy a few things, we stopped by the dog pound to see if there was a dog there that would speak to us. We saw one that is a possibility, though she will not be adoptable until the end of the month. A black lab mix puppy, sweet and quiet.

Also, some friends just emailed us about a 3-year old black standard poodle who is looking for a home, so that's an option as well.

All of this while we're planning seriously on purchasing a small teardrop trailer for camping trips and trips to visit family. It could very well happen that we'll be taking a dog along with us . . .

Edited to add: I should mention, by the way, that in my former life with Bad Andy, we had 6 dogs and 5 cats. So I'm not a stranger to dogs . . .
____________________________________________________

In other news, I bought Slogger a mandolin for his birthday, which was last Friday. THIS WILL GO DOWN IN HISTORY AS THE BEST PRESENT I'VE EVER BOUGHT HIM! Seriously. He is crazy about it, plays it every day after work, has already bought all the accessories (he is a serious accessorizer) such as a music stand, a mandolin stand, a mandolin case, a tuner, a strap, and a capo. Pretty soon we'll take our tear drop trailer, our new dog, my keyboard, his mandolin and all his mandolin stuff, and hit the road as a traveling band. Got any ideas for a name?

Friday, July 25, 2008

Achieving (Some) Clarity

In the last couple of weeks, when I've been able to force myself to work, I have been getting lots of work done for my fall courses. I've been teaching these fall courses for the last six years and getting excellent teaching evaluations overall. There is, however, a clear pattern in the comments every fall of a couple of students saying that my assignments aren't clear. In the past, I've always written assignment descriptions in my course syllabi -- assuming that having everything in one document would be simplest for my students -- and handed out rubrics or other grading scales in class. Last year I started making samples of big assignments available to my students (with names removed, of course). I've tinkered around with the assignment descriptions over the years, trying to make them more clear, but this year I've decided to make a drastic change.

I'm creating an assignment sheet for each assignment, in a separate document. In the process of doing this (I'm almost finished) I realized that there was a lot of ambiguity in my syllabi. Lots. Because I had to make all kinds of decisions as I was writing them.

I don't know if anyone is interested in the structure of the thing, but I set each information sheet up in this format:

Purpose:
Assignment Description:
Method:
Evaluation:

When I told Slogger what I was doing, he said, "Sounds like hand-holding to me." Well, this is true. However, in defense of my hand-holding, this is the kind of thing I ask my students to prepare for their (future) junior high and high school students. So I can think of it as a) making my life easier, b) modeling good teaching practice for preservice teachers, and c) having something concrete to point to when complaints arise.

But anyway, I've been so focused on getting this job done that I've neglected to blog. Sorry about that.

P.S. I found out last week that my proposal for a small conference in my field was accepted. This makes me so happy! I attended this conference when I was in grad school, and I am looking forward to getting back into it.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

New! Bike!

OK, I went to a birthday party lunch yesterday for my fabulous colleague, Katie, and after ogling her new cruiser, I decided, yes, I deserve one.


So I walked a block to the bike shop and bought this one:









They're putting it together for me today, and I should be able to pick it up this afternoon.

Oh, and I also ordered chrome fenders and baskets on the back.

I'm so excited! I can't wait to ride that thing to work, in a skirt and heels.

_____________________________________________

By the way, I'm feeling much better after my sleepy and dizzy Zyrtec episode. Back to sneezing and Claritin, which is now just the way I like it. That sounds something like the beginning of the Seven Dwarves, which is interesting for someone whose life is sometimes like a fairy tale!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Oh, Lordy

OK, it's been ages since I posted. In my defense, I wrote a lengthy post over the weekend, only to have it disappear into the blogspot black hole. Annoying.

But here's what's going on now. I usually have some allergy issues in the summer -- sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes and throat, etc. -- and I usually take Claritin for it. Claritin hasn't really been working for me this summer as it usually does, either because I've gotten resistant to it OR because the pollen count is freakin' gargantuan this summer. Lots of rain, etc.

So, I decided yesterday, and Slogger concurred, to switch to Zyrtec. Took a Zyrtec yesterday afternoon, and -- true -- I haven't sneezed much since. However. I've been sleeping on and off, both while in bed and while walking around, for the last two days. AND, on a scarier note, I've had a couple of dizzy spells today. So, needless to say, no more Zyrtec. I'd much rather be sneezing.

But my lack of energy and my sleepiness meant that Slogger prepared dinner tonight. Score! I've been sitting in my chair grading materials on my online course and thinking about the book I'll be reading tonight. Yes, another Harry Potter. Why quit when you've got a good thing going?

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Rethinking Sabbatical Leave

One of my projects for this summer is to write both a sabbatical leave proposal (to be evaluated by the dean of my college prior to being approved or not by the higherups) and a book proposal to publish the results of that research. I made a good start on book of these products earlier this summer, but as time goes by I find myself less and less inclined to work on them.

In fact, I'm beginning to rethink the timing of a sabbatical leave.

The most compelling reason for not taking a sabbatical leave just now is that it necessarily would involve traveling. The proposals that get supported by our administration almost always involve travel -- I suppose the idea that one could stay at home and get work done is considered a fallacy -- and I have been planning to spend most of one semester traveling around the US, working with teachers in different places. The problem with traveling now is that since Slogger had his heart attack, I'm not so keen on leaving him, for any reason. He doesn't like it either.

I'm also not sure, suddenly, that this is the research I want to do. It seems that I have -- beginning with my dissertation and continuing on through my recent tenure and promotion -- been easily shifted by passing interests in research projects. I want to dig in, choose a topic for research, and stick with it. For years. And I'm not sure that this is the area I would like to choose for it.

At this point, I'm thinking of spending this school year figuring all of that out and perhaps submitting a sabbatical leave proposal later. Still thinking about it, though.

Thoughts, internets?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I Know, I Know

Things I haven't blogged about:


* all of the massive gardening and stonework projects Footslogger and I have been working away on every weekend this summer;

* our new fence! which should be completed tomorrow;

* the music meme. Belle tagged me for it last week and I've been THINKING about it, but not BLOGGING about it;

* our fabulous weather, which has finally turned warm and sunny;

* my disgust with James Dobson and his attack on Obama;

* why I can't get myself to work on my sabbatical proposal;

* why I luurrrvvvee my new Blackberry, pictured here:



* and how I am moving up the ranks on Brickbreaker.
All this and more, as soon as I get the energy . . .

Sunday, June 15, 2008

After I wrote the previous post about what looked to be a soul-sucking master's defense and a committee chair trying to intimidate me into signing off on a horrible paper, I got another voice mail from said committee chair. On my cell phone. In the message, the chair said, "I'll be sitting here by my phone, waiting for you to call me back."

Sigh.

I knew that I would get no rest until I called the chair back, so I did. And in our conversation, I realized that this chair didn't really understand that what he/she was doing was verging on intimidation OR that we could get the student to do revisions and then sign, and that it was no big deal to do so OR that I was really not going to change my mind.

So I made all of that clear to the chair (nicely, mind you) and went to bed feeling much better about it. The defense the next morning turned out to be rather nice. We had a great conversation about the topic -- because the student is a great thinker and talker, really, just not such a great writer -- and the student was very willing to make revisions, recognized his/her shortcomings as a writer and in this paper, and all was very civilized and gracious.

In other news, it finally got warm here this weekend (yeah!), which means that we finally finished putting in flowers in our brand new garden out front:

That's silvermound, Shasta daisies, delphinium, columbines, cone flowers, and lavender in the bed. Should be really nice -- in a couple of years!







And it means that the cat mint that I planted last year is blooming nicely.







And it means that we got to go take a short walk up in the mountains.

So, a lovely day all told.





P.S. Today is our 6th wedding anniversary. Yes, we've only been married for 6 years, though we've been together for 10 -- and it feels as though we've always been together. We celebrated with our beautiful walk in the mountains and a breakfast out.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Can You Spell Intimidation?

Tomorrow morning I have a master's defense. The paper is not so good, and will have to be revised substantially before I will sign off. The ideas of the paper are great; there are some good sections, but at both surface and deep levels, the paper has problems.

Today I have received two voice mails (one on my office phone; one on my cell) and two emails outlining why I should sign off on the paper. From the student's advisor.

The latest voice mail asked to meet with me face-t0-face for thirty minutes this evening so we could talk about the student's paper.

WTF?

My response:

I will not return the phone calls. I will not meet with the advisor face-to-face. I will not sign off on the student's paper, I expect to see substantial revisions before I will sign off, and I plan to have a frank conversation with this advisor after the defense is over about the attempt to leverage my signature.

Annoyed, to put it mildly.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Birthday Gifts

Yesterday was my birthday (Dr. Bad Ass is now officially 46 years young) and Slogger went nuts with kitchen appliances, which is cool since I love me some cooking.

Here's the haul:



A food steamer that also serves as a rice cooker. Last night I cooked salmon in it -- tasty! And since we're now on an extremely low-fat, low-sodium, low-cholesterol diet, this will help with the low-fat part.




OK, so the ice cream and frozen yogurt maker isn't so closely connected to the healthy diet. BUT it will make some yummy desserts, and what is life without dessert? I've been looking up gelato recipes to try those out.




This slow cooker is bigger than my old one, so I'll be able to cook a whole chicken in it, or a big pork roast. It's got latches on top, which makes it handy for taking to parties, etc. The spoon is a bit of a cheesy addition, I think -- it's a rather flimsy plastic spoon that doesn't do much for me.




So I spent my birthday at home, recovering from vastly overeating Italian food the night before. Slogger was still feeling the aftereffects as well -- probably from the saltiness of the sauces and the amount that he ate. He got home from work yesterday and took a two-hour nap.

So today it is back to the office, to get some work done on revisions to my program report and to get started writing my sabbatical proposal (also a book proposal on my sabbatical work). But first to the treadmill . . .

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Photo Meme

So I tried to do a photo meme some time ago, but got extremely frustrated with formatting issues. Here comes Madame Meow, with this lovely and easy idea. So charming! And here you go, me in a nutshell, or, um, a photomosaic...





Here are the instructions if you so wish to do this in your own blog (or just for fun):

a. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.

b. Using only the first page, pick an image.

c. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into fd’s mosaic maker.

_____________

1. What is your first name? Doctor
2. What is your favorite food? Grilled salmon, currently
3. What high school did you go to? NMHS
4. What is your favorite color? yellow
5. Who is your celebrity crush? George Clooney
6. Favorite drink? Raspberry Mojito
7. Dream vacation? Backpacking across Europe
8. Favorite dessert? Pecan pie
9. What you want to be when you grow up? My mother
10. What do you love most in life? The woods
11. One Word to describe you. Dependable
12. Your flickr name. Bad Ass Turtle

Thank you to the following Flickr people:

1. French Doctor Who Poster, 2. Grilled salmon, 3. north mesquite HS, 4. A quest for the most perfect yellow yarn..., 5. George Clooney in Dolce e Cabbana, 6. raspberry mojito..., 7. Vienna, Austria, 8. Pecan pie., 9. My Mother: 25th Anniversary Tribute (2006) by Stephen B Whatley, 10. A Stream in the Woods, 11. Elderly, yet Dependable, 12. Bad-Ass Turtle

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

oops

So Slogger and I decided we would go to this "Italian Night" at a local coffee house -- the word on the street is that the food is quite fine, so we made reservations for 7:30 tonight.

Slogger got off work a bit early, so I called the restaurant to see if we could shift to the 5:30 seating. "Sure," the young woman said. "I'll write you in."

You can see what's coming, right?

We showed up at 5:30, only to find that the young woman who assured us a seat had misread the crowded reservation sheet. The owner assured us that we could come for the 7:30 seating, and that the restaurant would pay for our dessert. So we headed home, and I've spent the last hour fulfilling my NCLM commitment (whew). In a few minutes, we'll head back.

We've often complained about the lack of Italian food in High Plains City, so this had better be good!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Loner is So Not a Bad Ass


I just left Loner at the vet, where he is having his shots and the ABCESS ON HIS SHOULDER cleaned out. See, there's this big orange cat in our neighborhood? Who is about twice the size of Loner? And who -- when challenged to a fight -- will gladly whoop Loner's ass every time?

Short version, Loner got a nasty scratch on his shoulder that got infected and was even starting to smell nasty. So I called the vet this morning and got him in -- he may have to stay overnight if he's a "slow waker."

NOTE: That's Loner on the right, and Marty on the left,
all curled up in Slogger's comfy chair.


Oh, and did I mention that I had a dentist's appointment this morning AND a doctor's appointment? A new doctor, since I haven't actually had a doctor in town for the last four years. This one took one look at my blood work and said one word: Lipitor. That's right, Slogger had the heart attack, and now I'm on Lipitor.

Bummer. Where's my Jack Daniels?

UPDATE: I picked Loner up and brought him home. He's got a big shaved patch, a wound in the middle of it, and he's loopy as all get out. But he's ok. Will he learn not to fight? Um, no.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Yard Work Weekend

So exhausted. Will post a complete list of jobs done tomorrow, along with a few pics. Needless to say, I'm going straight to bed.

After I finish watching Star Trek: First Contact. Gotta love the Borg. Not to mention Jean-Luc. Bald is beautiful, baby!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Instrument of Torture

(also known as a thatch rake)

I spent a couple of hours this morning thatching the grass. That, people, is hard work. I sure hope it helps the lawn.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Today

  • I LOVE NaComLeavMo. I've never gotten so many comments . . . I know I'm not one of the popular kids, but you guys are making me feel that way. Thanks!\
  • I HATE Chicago Style. Hate, hate, hate. Why did I pick a journal to submit to that requires it? Why can't everyone just use APA and have done? Would someone like to proofread my manuscript (it's really quite short) to make sure I've done the Chicago thing correctly? (I also hate looking like an idiot.)
  • I am AMBIVALENT about Slogger going back to work today. It's officially been 12 weeks (3 months already!) since his heart attack and I'm pretty sure he's ready for it, though I'm also pretty sure I'm not. He actually started back to work last Thursday, but with the tornado, subsequent power outages, and the holiday, today was the first.

That's about it for today . . .

Monday, May 26, 2008

Um, no.

Yesterday I got an email from a student in my online class. "I had a really busy week," this student states, "and I didn't realize that the online discussion and quiz wouldn't be available on Sunday. Could you open them for me so I could access them?"

Um, no. See the previous post containing the "F" word.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

NaComLeavMo

Attention. NaComLeavMo begins tomorrow. We will now continue with your regularly scheduled program.

Friday, May 23, 2008

DANGER: The "F" Word Can Be Found in This Post

Sorry, Jen. But I had to post this.

OK, when I was living in California, I used to have to take the bus. A lot. To work, to school, to the grocery store, to the movies, whatever. One Saturday morning, I was sitting on a bench at a bus stop, minding my business, waiting for the bus. Granted, I do have good legs, and pretty nice knees, and I was wearing shorts (So Cal, natch). This guy rides up on his bicycle, right in front of me, in the street, and stops and stares at my legs. For like, half an hour.

This, friends, pissed me off. I stood up, shook my finger in his face, and screamed at the top of my lungs, "Fuck off! Just fuck off!"

He rode off pretty quickly.

And now for the video that inspired this memory:

Thursday, May 22, 2008

NaComLeavMo: National Comment Leaving Month

Since I enjoyed NaBloPoMo so much, and since I'm generally pretty lazy about leaving comments on other folks' blogs, I decided to join NaComLeavMo, which begins on May 25th. Want to join in the hilarity and fun? Just head over to Stirrup Queen's blog and sign up.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Trail Days, Now Over

Another year of Trail Days has come and gone. As always, we had a blast, saw lots of old hiking buddies, ate too much, stayed up too late, and in general, partied like it was 1999. We left early Friday morning (and I do mean early! we got up at 3:30 AM) drove to Big Western City, through a snowstorm, I might add. Our flight to Newark left on time at 7:30, and though it was a bumpy ride, we made it there. Late. Having only 45 minutes to connect, I was pretty sure my luggage wouldn't make it to Charlotte, but it did. Rented a car, then drove the four hours from Charlotte to Damascus, which put us into our friends Trace and One-Third's home just in time to throw on a jacket and a hat and head out to the campground for the bonfire.

Ah, the campground, also affectionately known as "The Ghetto." It's a section of land outside of town that the city allows hikers to camp in during Trail Days. Imagine a parking lot, some port-a-potties, and then trails weaving in and out of bushes, trees, weeds, and mud. That's where the hikers who pour into Damascus by the hundreds get to camp, and pay $5 for the privilege. I completely understand the city charging hikers for the camping, because they have to pay to clean it up when everyone leaves and to police it while they are there. We are lucky to have had places to stay in Damascus every year that we've gone for Trail Days -- I don't want to camp in the ghetto. Not to mention that, according to rumor, it's a Superfund cleanup site.

Anyway, every year there's a huge bonfire in the Campground. This involves a massive fire, lots of folks gathered around it drinking beer, several drum circles, people playing guitar and singing, drunken shouting, occasional dog squabbles, etc. General hiker stuff.

We didn't see anyone we knew at the Bonfire -- it was mostly this year's hikers -- so we walked all around the Campground, past the Riff-Raff site, Billville, and the Quiet Zone, and then came back to the house for some well-deserved sleep.

The next morning we had a light breakfast and were getting ready to head out when Slogger looked out the window and saw Firefeet walking by (we found out later she was on her way down to the Baptist Church, where they have a trailer with FREE! SHOWERS! for HIKERS!). Now Firefeet has special significance for me, because she and Chickflick saved Slogger from hypothermia when they were all hiking together in 2003. Needless to say, I was excited to meet her.

After our chat with Firefeet, we headed out to the vendor area to give it a walk-through and see who we would see. First person we run into: Tangent, our buddy from the Nekton Dive cruises we've been on. And that was only the beginning, as we spent time chatting with Grampie, Texas Jack, AT Troll, AWOL, Carolina Cruiser, Moonshadow, Jack Daniels, Jim Beam, Rain Queen, Karma, Mellow Yellow, Jen, and too many others to name. Needless to say, we did more talking, laughing, and hugging than we did looking at the vendors. It's always fun to be with the popular kid, and Slogger definitely fits that bill. The fact that he almost died this year made it even more special for folks to see him and talk to him.

And that's pretty much the way the weekend went. The highlights were the parade and the reunion dinner for Slogger's class of 03.

The Trail Days parade is both an opportunity for this year's hikers and previous year's hikers to get out and strut their stuff, and an opportunity for townspeople and hikers to blast each other with water balloons, water guns, and everything else wet they can get their hands on. The water fight wasn't quite so big this year, but there were lots of hikers in great getups.






That's 42 in the flowered outfit.













And Mala as the "Harmless Hiker."













All in all, it was a great time. Perhaps we stayed one day too long, as the festival ended on Sunday and we left town on Monday, but it was a chance to rest up, have a nice dinner with Seneca Lou, Tom for Short, and Trace. Monday morning we drove back to Charlotte and did the whole trip in reverse, which still took us 14 hours. Today we are recovering.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Trail Days

Tomorrow morning (early! We're getting up at 4 AM!) we'll be heading off to Virginia for the annual Trail Days celebration, a hiker festival extraordinaire. I've been to Trail Days many times over the years. Perhaps the most memorable was 2001, when I had been injured (see the side panel for the story) and was on crutches for the entire event. Well, not the entire event -- by the end of it I was walking without crutches for short distances, and shortly thereafter I got serious about physical therapy and got back on the trail.

Slogger and I bought our wedding rings at Trail Days, before we were married, for $8 each from a stall.

In 2003, the year Slogger hiked the AT, I met him in Damascus for Trail Days and hiked out with him. That year I was able to hike a month with him, before heading to Texas to visit my brother, his wife Lynne, and the newborn triplets (all boys!).

So, needless to say, we're looking forward to Trail Days. We'll be staying with our friends Trace and 1/3, who visited us in High Plains City a couple of years ago. It should be a blast!

I'll try to take some pics and post them when we get back.

Monday, May 12, 2008

On Reading First

I've hesitated to write about the report out that evaluates the impact of Reading First on the comprehension abilities of children. Basically, the report says that teachers were doing more of what they were supposed to do according to Reading First guidelines, but that all of this had no impact on the comprehension abilities of 1st through 3rd grade students.

And then I read this, which equates Reading First and NCLB with Iraq. Lovely piece of writing.

My concern about Reading First all along, although I am an adolescent literacy type, not so much an early literacy one, is the way the scripted kind of instruction insults and inhibits teachers. Stager gets that spot on. And now we shall see how the focus on scientifically-based research folks handle the results of their own research!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Week O' Meetings

It's been a crazy, finishing-up kind of week, and I apologize for not posting since last Sunday. Some of the things that went on this week:

MONDAY: Well, yes, there was the three-hour meeting. For the most part, it went down as I said it would. I'm sure we must have accomplished something, but I only remember being one of the laptop users, pretending to be taking notes while surreptitiously checking my email.

TUESDAY: A very friendly committee meeting for a fabulous doc student who is just about halfway through her coursework.

WEDNESDAY: A two-and-a-half-hour department meeting (at least it included lunch!) followed by a retirement reception for the outgoing dean. One highlight of the department meeting was watching one easily frustrated department member's face as we considered having an additional meeting in May. Entertaining!

THURSDAY: The last meeting for this year of the advisory council on which I serve (my last year to serve on it, as I will be on the T&P committee next year). This is actually one of my favorite committees to serve on (can any committees be "favorites"?) because we get our business done quickly and almost always get out early. I don't think that will be the case with t&p. I spent the evening at my investment club meeting, which also ended early (only half of us were there, which explains it a bit).

FRIDAY: Members of the t&p committee met with our outgoing dean to elect a chair (not me, thankfully!) and to discuss which of us would be attending which department meetings regarding discussion of t&p in the fall. I spent the rest of the day working on a manuscript that is due at the beginning of June, and on revising my program report for accreditation. My sense is that if I spend 3-4 hours a week on that accreditation report this summer, I'll have it ready by the September 15th deadline.

In between and among all of those meetings, I've been working on getting my online course ready for this summer, finishing up grades for spring, and resolving placement issues for next year's student teachers. Next week is all about the writing and the course. Has to be.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Three-Hour-Meeting

Today I have a meeting that will last from 10-1. At least they are buying us lunch. A few things I can guarantee for this meeting:

* a proposal will be made to "streamline" our master's degree program, which will have huge support from one faction and will elicit extreme negative reactions from another faction. We'll argue about it and then agree to allow a task force to work on it.
* the question of how many advisees each faculty member should have will come up, with some faculty members complaining about getting too many and being overworked, and other faculty members complaining about not having enough students (or any!). We'll argue about it and then agree to allow a task force to work on it.
* a proposal will be made to offer our masters' degree online nationwide. Two faculty members will support this; the rest of us will think it is ridiculous. We'll argue about it and then agree to allow a task force to work on it.

During this time, one faculty member will be typing diligently on his laptop -- it will appear that he is engaged and taking notes, when actually he is writing yet another practitioner article to appear in a widely circulated journal.

I will be texting with my buddy Red, cause that's just how I roll.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

I know worrying is no good for me. It doesn't accomplish anything, in fact it makes me feel unhealthy, stressed, and probably has all kinds of long-term ill effects that I should be . . . um . . . worried about. See the problem?

We just returned from our Sunday-morning-ritual of walking downtown to the coffee shop, having breakfast and reading the newspaper, and walking home. It's a lovely crisp morning, there were dogs in the park, and I noticed one of the hawks swooping overhead as we got close to home. But Slogger seemed tired, and that makes me worry. Thus the pensive post about worrying. It's ironic, because I'm always on him to lower his stress level. I should take notes on my own lectures.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Because I Haven't Done This Meme Yet, And I Know There Is Another Meme I Was Tagged For But I Can't Remember It Or Find It

I've seen this one around a bit, but most recently at Strange New Teacher's blog (new to the blogosphere -- you should stop by and comment).

Here are the rules:

1. The rules of the game get posted at the beginning.
2. Each player answers the questions about themselves.
3. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5-6 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog.
4. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.

Okey dokey. Here we go:

1) What was I doing 10 years ago?

Spring of 1998. I was finishing up my last year of teaching high school English (mostly sophomores and seniors) before heading off to begin graduate school full-time. Footslogger and I had just met and we were spending lots of weekends flying back and forth between the big cities in which we both lived (several thousand miles apart). The senior class had asked me to speak at their graduation, and I was busily writing my speech while inwardly rejoicing that I would never have to teach Julius Caesar again. (I love me some bard, but not the same play every year for 12 years, 6 times a day!)

2) What are 5 things on my to-do list today (not in any particular order)?

laundry
polish my nails
exercise
make some bread
make a huge vat of marinara sauce to freeze

3) Snacks I enjoy:

chips and salsa
yogurt-covered pretzels
dark chocolate

4) Things I would do if I were a billionaire:

Healthy-selfish things:
take Footslogger to Uganda and introduce him to my second family there;
take Footslogger to Germany and let him introduce me to all the places and people there he knows;
buy a T@B Trailer and camp my way through this continent;
pay off all of my student loans and that of all of my colleagues from graduate school;
finance a repeat thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail for myself and for Footslogger (he could do it -- we'd just have to take it slow).

Philanthropic things:
establish a massive program in this state to encourage, pay for, and support secondary school teachers from all content areas to go through our literacy program and be certified to teach literacy, grades 7-12.
establish a massive program to finance secondary and post-secondary education for kids from Uganda who have lost family members to AIDS
pay off debts for tons of people -- my two brothers, Footslogger's two kids, and others.

This sounds exciting! Anyone want to give me a billion?

5) Three of my bad habits:

eating too much
picking my cuticles
snoring (Slogger says this is my worst)

6) Five places I have lived:

Greenville, Texas
Marietta, Georgia
Hoima, Uganda, East Africa
Pasadena, California
Commerce, Texas

7) Five jobs I have had:

Drug store clerk/cashier/stocker at Page Drug in Dallas, Texas
High school English teacher at a school in a very small town in East Texas
Secretary/receptionist in an academic setting, Pasadena, California
Customer service clerk at Marshall's Department Store in Texas
Cashier at Captain D's (grease, grease, grease)

(I never was a truck driver, though I wanted to be one when I graduated from high school.)

8) 6 People I want to know more about:

Well, I think I'm the last person on the internet to do this meme, so I'm going to open this up to anyone interested. Have fun!