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


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:

Assignment Description:

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?