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


* 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


* 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


* 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


* 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


* 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


* 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


* 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


* 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?


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:


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?