Tuesday, February 26, 2008


On Friday, I received a phone call from my dean, asking me if I would be willing to facilitate a small-group discussion during Monday's college faculty meeting. "About what?" I asked. Turns out the college is working on its contributions to a university-wide planning document, so faculty members are beginning the discussion about what our foci and action items should be. (But that's beside the point.) Of course, I agreed, though I was secretly thinking that there were other people (hello! faculty with tenure! or maybe administrators!) who would be more likely to be asked to do this than me. But whatever, I'm in for the good of the order, etc.

So I showed up at the faculty meeting on Monday, a little nervous and really unsure about the process, or even the topic. Turns out I needn't have worried, because here's what really happened.

Two university bigwigs showed up and said that they had an announcement. For Dr. Bad Ass (well, they didn't say that, but they said, you know, my real name). I was shocked and I'm sure turned red. Then the two bigwigs proceeded to read out a letter stating that Dr. Bad Ass had won a highly prestigious (at least at our uni), university-wide teaching award.

Knock me over with a feather. The dean lied to make sure I would be at the meeting.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

CCR Misheard Lyrics

Thanks to nephew Rex for this link.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Bad Ass's Mom

Oooh! I will never say another bad thing about the department here that administers our online courses. Cause my mom? She's gonna be in my class! I'm teaching an online course this summer, on a topic that interests mom, and she's going to audit the class. Should be fun! Did I mention that my mom got her bachelor's degree in literature when she was in her 60s? She's the coolest of the cool kids.

Hi Mom!!

My signature

And here's how I did it.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Registration Woes

Now that I've been at home for most of the last week, coughing up a lung or two, I've had some time to devote to my online courses. I'm teaching a graduate course this semester, with a fairly small enrollment. The course was originally designed for a combination of intensive weekends (Friday evenings/Saturday all day) and online discussion, but I switched it to online because of the low enrollment, after which point the enrollment tripled. Interesting dynamic there. I'm having to put it together on the fly, which means I'm just about two weeks ahead of the class.

One of the techniques I'm using for this course is mini-lectures (voice over on powerpoint) that I record using Camtasia. The process of designing those has been interesting. Usually, I choose a topic that is related to the material in the assigned texts, or one that is only given a small amount of play in those chapters, and provide information on those topics. Only about 15-20 minutes per mini-lecture. I create a powerpoint, write notes underneath, and then record the lecture. Easy.

So now I've had a bit more time -- because of the coughing -- to work on my summer online course, which is on Literature for Young Adults. I teach this course regularly during the school year; this will be my first time teaching it online and my first time teaching it in the summer. It's a lot of work getting the course online, but I think I'll be getting some extra money for the course development (!).

So my beef is that -- because this course is also offered as a graduate course for teachers in the state who are in our literacy endorsement program -- registration is done through our off-campus enrichment program. That's fine, I have no problem with them doing the registration. But. The course doesn't show up in our registration system until the around-the-state folks (who register as graduate students) can register -- not until the end of next month. This makes sense, I guess, because we don't want the class to fill up with undergraduate students before the graduate students get a chance to register.

But the bottom line is that undergraduates are calling me and emailing me, all panicked because the course doesn't show up! And they can't enroll! Is it full? Would I please let them add the class? Because they are graduating in May and this is their only chance for an upper-division course, and if they can't take it the world will end!


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Sick and Snow

So I haven't been at work for the last two days. Instead, I've been sitting in my easy chair, coughing and feeling sorry for myself. I was hoping I would thus feel better by Friday, when I was supposed to drive 2.5 hours to Very Small Village (VSV) to do some professional development. Thing is, I'm not feeling better; in fact, I'm feeling worse. And the road to VSV currently is listed as "No Uneccesary Travel." I've already called the school (and nobody answered, which makes me worry) and left a message that I would not make it there because of being sick, and because of the roads.

In some ways, I feel guilty about it, mostly because I really like VSV, I enjoyed being there the last time I worked with them, and ... one of my former students is an English teacher there. BUT I'm relieved not to be going, because seriously I feel like I'll be coughing up a lung sometime soon, I have a fever, and I really, really, really don't want to get bronchitis again like I did last spring.

I've canceled everything for tomorrow, canceled everything for today except for my algebra exam (which was dead easy). Footslogger made me a delicious Valentine's Day dinner of chicken soup and grilled cheese sandwiches (white cheddar, which makes it gourmet). I will sleep, mess around online, read, and watch my humidifier do its thing.


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Iraq Withdrawal Date: 12,008

OK, I know I may be late on this, but check these out. First, the fantastic video/music/speech by Barack Obama and "various artists." Then the spoof of it focusing on McCain. I'm coughing up a lung, I laughed so hard.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Ten Years Later...

Last night I got an email from the editorial assistant for a journal I had submitted a manuscript to. It's accepted, with no further revisions. That in itself is great, but I have to share the long story on this one:

Fall, 1998: My first semester in graduate school. I'm assigned as a research assistant for a new assistant professor in my department. We decide on a project together, collect data, and analyze it over the following semester.

Winter, 1999 and Winter, 2000: We do conference presentations on our project, which get lukewarm receptions.

2001: We submit our paper to a top-tier journal, get a revise and resubmit, do revisions and resubmit, then get rejected.

2003: Repeat the process, complete with revising, resubmitting, and getting rejected, only for a different journal.

2005: Repeat the process, complete with revising, resubmitting, and getting rejected, only for a different journal. This time, I'm first author, as the assistant professor has now got tenure, and I'm an assistant professor in need of publications myself.

2007: Thinking we have invested too much time in this project to give up now, we revise it again, and submit it to a different journal. We get mixed reviews, and -- of course -- an option to revise and resubmit. We do that, of course, and then one of our reviewers gets a bit pissy. The editors ask us to respond to the reviews.

2008: We respond to the pissy reviewer, pointing out that we actually did do everything he/she asked us to do, and we wait. Then last night, the email! We're accepted! As is, with just one little correction in the reference page!

I'll tell you, I jumped out of my chair screaming when I got that email, and I haven't stopped grinning about it yet. Is this a cautionary tale? A critique of journal reviewers and/or editors? A story of persistence? Yes, yes, and yes. But damn it feels good to see that thing (which I really have grown to love) head out to print. Yeah, us!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Skiing Hungover . . .

... is not much fun. Especially when the wind is huffing and puffing like a huge gang of birthday girls obsessed with blowing out the candles on a million cakes. Whew. Luckily, with our season passes, we can feel comfortable leaving after only a couple of runs. We've already skied enough times to pay for our season passes, so anything else is a freebie.

Now I'm working on grading and commenting on reading logs from students in my online class. Interesting how there are HUGE differences in students' abilities to write summaries. Some are beautiful works of art; others are more like children's drawings on a refrigerator. I've graded four, will grade four more tonight after dinner, and then the remaining four tomorrow morning. Then I'll start on the next set on Monday.

Still, I'm enjoying the online class breather. I have to check in on the discussion every day, and of course there is grading, and lots of email to answer, but all in all, I kind of like this online business. I wonder, though, how it is for students in my classes when they can't see each other or me? I tend to be a "personality" teacher -- I make lots of headway with students based on relationships built over the course of the semester. I've tried to make my online class more like my on-campus classes by providing minilectures recorded with Camtasia, so they can at least hear me talking. I'm not sure how well that is working; when I listen to the minilectures, I notice that I sound like I have a lisp. So the recording is weird. I really don't have a lisp.

Anyway, enough rambling. Maybe I'll take a nap.

Raspberry Mojitos

After a late night of drinking (in which I discovered raspberry mojitos -- yummy! and I had too many of them!) and eating, we're hanging out this morning on our dual laptops, watching CNN, blogging. I've stopped in on my online course (check); Footslogger is hanging out on either whiteblaze. net or scubaboard. We're mentally and physically preparing ourselves for a lovely day of skiing, and hoping that the wind is not going to be too painful up there on the slopes.

I'm hearing good things about the process of my materials through the tortuous maze that is going to shape the rest of my career. You know what I'm talking about, but I can't really write about it here. Still with fingers crossed, but I'm breathing a bit easier at this point . . .

In the meantime, I think I'll be making raspberry mojitos on my own pretty soon ...

Here's the place to see how to do it.

On another topic, the writing has been coming along this semester, thanks largely to the freedom afforded by teaching online. I sent in revisions to a manuscript -- I'm crossing my fingers for that one, as I'm quite keen on getting it published. A colleague and I responded to an editor's query about another manuscript, based on some really pissy reviews; we have high hopes for that one as well. I've also made some connections for writing with a couple of teachers. One short-term (thanks Dawn!) and one long-term (Carol!). I love writing with teachers, for teachers -- it brings me back to what is really important to me -- impacting classroom practice.

OK, enough -- we have to get ready for skiing...

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


Everytime I think about something to write about on this blog, I run into obstacles... most of these are related to the fact that there are people who know me who read this. And I really don't want to ruin friendships, lose my job, or make myself look like an idiot.

But some things are going on that are making me crazy (to the point where I have to literally dig my fingernails into my palms to keep from shouting at people in meetings. I'm approaching some kind of menopausal fevered state, too, which helps absolutely none), and they are related to the following:

  • Accreditation hell. Hell. Hell. Hell. Every time I turn around there is another email in my mailbox, saying "Oh, Dr. Bad Ass? Could you kindly analyze these data and write a one-page summary? And then could you find loads of paperwork from the last two years that you're not responsible for keeping and put them in a folder so we can have them ready in case someone wants to look at it?" I'm pretty sure this is all going to turn out fine, but hell. I'm in hell.
  • Online course stupidity (this is totally me, not my students -- they've been great). I realized a couple of days ago that the rubric in the syllabus for online discussion is not the one that I wanted to use. Um, I had already used it to score online discussions for two weeks. So I had to 'fess up to my students that I made a stupid mistake, change all of the grades, and redo the syllabus. Dumb. I hate doing dumb things.
  • In my College Algebra class (that I'm taking, certainly not teaching). ... oh, wait. I should explain that the last time I took algebra was 27 years ago? And I got a D? And my favorite part of the class was that I had a tutor with a Harley? (That should explain the D. Not much tutoring, but lots of touring around the countryside. ) And graphing calculators didn't exist? ........ OK, so I think I've established the context sufficiently. So there are these wrestlers who were sitting right behind me, until today, when I moved. See, Big Obnoxious Wrestler (we'll call him B.O.W.) (as in W.O.W.) kept putting his massive foot up on the back of my chair. Right behind my shoulder. Dude. I really don't want what you've been walking on to get all over my beautiful red coat. I contemplated telling him to take his size 14s elsewhere, but then just decided to be peacable and move. So today he comes in smelling awfully like he had washed his hair in Jack Daniels. Interesting. Wonder if the coach knows?
There's more, but I can't really talk about it . . . .

All will be well. All manner of things will be well.

It's All About the Pancakes, Baby

I saw this at Belle's and had to imitate...