30 December 2006

I Knit In Public today...

T and I went to the bar, I had recently finished a sock for her, so I brought my knitting for the second sock. I figured I'd sit and knit while we chatted, drank, and listened to music. It was worthwhile, I got about 5" into the leg of the sock...

Of course, knitting in a bar brings its own troubles...

1. The favored server, M, thought it was cool, but it is in her nature to flip shit, so she told me how cold the socks were going to be since they had no toes... (They're being worked cuff-down.)
2. Do not ask me what I'm knitting for you. The first guy was told that he'd have to fight T for it, since they're her socks I'm making. The second guy was ignored. The third? I told him I was knitting him a noose. That seemed to get the reaction I wanted, so I stuck with that response.
3. Apparently, when you KIP, you invite people to stare at what you're doing. Like creepy stare. Dude, I'm knitting. Yes, I understand the very act of knitting in a bar, especially by a late-20s chick is odd, but get over it. Yes, it looks like I'm trying to delicately wrestle a porcupine, they're DPNs and it's how I prefer to knit socks. Go away. Thanks to the nice guys that looked quizzically at me and smiled.
4. If the live music person thinks they know you at all, they will, indeed, work your "oddity" in their songs. I counted no fewer than 14 songs that Pierre sung where he made some reference to knitting, socks, or "the girl knitting in the corner." And no, none of the songs were in the category of "things dealing with knitting or socks." Did Black Sabbath do a sock song?
5. I don't care how interesting my stuff looks, I have personal space, respect it or face my wrath. A guy that was sitting at a table next to us got up from the table, and on his way out, he stopped at our table. Now, T and I had been chatting and laughing, so I was in a good mood. I was expecting another "what are you knitting (for me)?" question. Instead, he picked up my working yarn!! I looked at him and said in my best "mean teacher"* voice: HANDS OFF. It was loud, so he said "huh?" I leveled my gaze at him and said, even louder, "Hands OFF!" He dropped it like I was about to use it to forcibly remove his testicles. And walked away.

However, knitting in a bar is an excellent way to keep yourself from imbibing too much, too quick. Plus, apparently you get to be quite mouthy if you're knitting in a bar. People still associate knitting with "old folks home" or something, so they don't quite know how to react when you start snarling at the drunken ass shouting for "BALLROOM BLITZ BLITZ BLITZ" for the fourth time.

All in all, it was an interesting evening. Let's just say, KIPing is an interesting social experiment, especially in non-standard places.

* Think of the "mom" voice, but with absolutely no love behind it.

10 November 2006

Slowly getting back to normal...

Between moving (again), taking the GREs (did well enough, especially for not cramming my ass off), and the hellish lull between midterm and finals, I'm getting back to standard.

In other news, I hit an all time low for attendance. a little over a third of my students showed for class on Thursday. And it was the students that aren't in desperate need of in class time. Ah well...

And for your viewing pleasure, I give you this link. It's probably NSFW, and it does raise some interesting questions. Like...

1. If you dislike touching condoms, you really shouldn't be having sex.
2. The method of putting on the condom makes me wonder if there's the risk of additional trapped air that might result in an increase in breakage.
3. I'm not sure if the prop or the condom interests me more from a "huh" point of view.

That's it for now. I have unpacking to do because somewhere in the boxes are my plants.

26 October 2006

Ass Deep in Alligators

Posting will resume as soon as morale has been beaten into improvement.

I hate midterms.

17 October 2006

There is a part of me that will always be a student of the law...

You know, when the opinion handed down by the court includes a paragraph like the following one, it's going to be a good opinion... Or at least an amusing one.

"Both attorneys have obviously entered into a secret pact — complete with hats, handshakes and cryptic words — to draft their pleadings entirely in crayon on the back sides of gravy-stained paper placemats, in the hope that the Court would be so charmed by their child-like efforts that their utter dearth of legal authorities in their briefing would go unnoticed...
With Big Chief tablet readied, thick black pencil in hand, and a devil-may-care laugh in the face of death, life on the razor's edge sense of exhilaration, the Court begins."

Yes, indeedy. Read more here.

14 October 2006

I love the DSM IV

For those of you who don't know what the DSM IV is, it's the psychologist's tome of disorders.

Now, I'm not big on self-diagnosis for anything (except for recurrent medical things that you've had before, like sinusitis or bronchitis... If you've had those a number of times, you know what it feels like and what the symptoms are), but damn is it nice to label people, even if it's just to yourself.

Crazy Co-workers? Oppositional Defiant Disorder.
Whacked out Ex? Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Student that scares the shit out of you? Conduct Disorder.

Of course, it gets a little scary when the diagnostic section says "four or more" and you recognize three of them in your behaviours.

But hey, we all have issues. One of mine? I love labeling people. This is why I people-watch. Not because they're interesting, but because I create a running monologue of that person in my head.

I guess we're all a little crazy.

Feminism is the radical notion that women are people, too.

I hate being called a feminist. I don't put women above men, I'd just like to be seen as a person.

And then I run into the students that deliberately place themselves as inferior because they display a need to identify themselves by who else is in their life, rather than who they are.

Me?

I am an instructor.
I am a historian.
I am a college graduate.
I am an avid reader.
I am a voter.
I am a sci-fi buff.
I am constantly learning.
I am me.

Female is a descriptor, much like brunette or blonde. Mother is a descriptor, same as daughter, aunt, or sister.

Don't describe yourself to me, bring me into your world. Tell me who you are. Are you a scientist? Are you a doer or a watcher? Can you be content to let things just be? Does life happen to you or do you happen to life?

Yes, I'll admit that when the hormones are a-ragin', I can look at a person and go down that road of what things would be like. I can let that neurotic chick-girl take over for periods of time, just as all us females can... But that is not the constant me.

Labeling me as feminist is the same thing as labeling me as a conservative. It creates the implication that I follow the party line, no questions.

I was raised with the notion that it is more important to think than to believe. Once you believe something, it interferes with the ability to look at things objectively.

[History Content Ahead]

Currently, my Western Civ I students are exploring the notion that Christianity co-opted many of its holidays from the pagan religions that it encountered in the process of conversion. That certain holidays we celebrate in the United States are based off of pagan tradition rather than Judeo-Christian beliefs.

For example:
Easter is supposed to be about the resurrection of Christ.
Then why are there chicks and bunnies and eggs involved?
It is believed (but not historically proven) that Easter stems from the pagan goddess of fertility, Eostre.
Christmas is supposed to be about the birth of Christ.
Then why do we put up trees in our house and burn the old Yule log?
It coincides delightfully with Winter Solstice, and the pagan holiday of Yule.
Halloween/All Saint's Eve?
Samhain, the Briton belief that this was the time when the veil between the living and the dead was closest.

...and on, and on, and on...

I remember when I was a student at a private Episcopalian school, we took a class on religion. Okay, on "the" religion. There was a lot of bible study and all that other stuff.

At one point, we were asked to write a point-of-view paper from the perspective of one of the people around Jesus at the time of his death. Basically, a POV paper on the Passion.

I was the only student that chose Judas. I held no sacred cows about who Judas was, or is still considered to be in the Christian religion. I was labeled a heretic in my class because I dared to write from the perspective of the killer of Christ. (Though, I suppose he could only be considered an accessory.) I reminded them that Jesus was considered a heretic, too.

...Humanity confuses me.

I do not understand why people are so opposed to living up to their potential as human beings.

I know this was a very disconnected post. There is just so much that I don't understand. I suppose it's time to go through the textbooks and start trying to understand how it's all pieced together at the very least.

12 October 2006

I would love to know more....

Gallaudet students effectively close down campus in protest of new university president.

The article states that some students don't feel the new university president is "deaf enough" because, while she was born deaf, she grew up in a hearing household, speaks, and didn't learn ASL until she was 23. While there is a divide in the deaf community between those who grew up in hearing households and those who grew up in deaf households, I don't think that would be the only reason for a strong protest. No matter how much college students like to protest.

I suspect that the new president of the university doesn't have the (forgive me for using this word, but it fits) gravitas that a school like Gallaudet needs. While part of it may be that she isn't "deaf enough," I suspect that aspect of the argument reflects a concern for her ability to be a bridge between the students and whatever outside entities she would have to interact with as the primary representative of the university.

For those of you that have never heard of Gallaudet before, it's a university that serves the deaf and hard of hearing. Before you start to believe that Gallaudet is strictly for the deaf and HoH, it does not restrict entry to hearing students, but if you're a hearing student without an understanding of the deaf community, you may have a hard time adapting to life at Gallaudet.

Slappyhappy = bad

I really must make an effort to get more sleep.

The students today were interesting. No, no more announcements of psychological disorders. Nope! Today was a discussion of why a student might miss the midterm. "I have a court date, miss, but I'll try to stay out of jail until after the semester is over."

Yep.

I just shook my head. And laughed. Because, what else can you do? Recoiling in horror is a no-go. Then they smell weakness and fear and act like a pack of rabid dogs.

Encourage them not to share so much information? That's just an invitation. Remember gross-out contests when you were a kid? Yep, that kind of competitive spirit just pops up if you tell them "don't share."

Tell them that your friends in your hometown don't believe you when you tell them about your classes here? BINGO! All of a sudden, they seem to realize that their dear instructor has a life outside the classroom. (Okay, I'll be the first to admit, not much of one, but still...) And their antics are being discussed around the world.

Tell them you have a blog? Oh hell no. The last thing this happy Adjunct Slave needs is to have a drove of crazed students scrounging all the blog sites to find this little tidbit.

11 October 2006

Answer to an interesting question...

Someone asked me, "do you miss law school? Do you regret not staying past your first year?"

Yes and no, on both accounts.

If, somehow, I came into a few million dollars and had the ability to not touch the principle and live off the interest and afford to go to back to law school... I'd do it. Under one condition. If I'd get to audit all the courses.

You see, I enjoyed the learning part of it. A different way of approaching things. But I don't think I actually wanted to be an attorney. I'd love to have the opportunity to take all the courses that I wanted to take, without having to worry about the grades. You see, I don't want my MBA, or my JD, but I'd love to go through the Masters in Business Administration courses, and the Law courses simply because I think that the approach goes past just business or just law. Much like even when I get my PhD and teach (hopefully) at a university that offers Masters and other PhD programs, I'll go take a course or two a semester, audited, just so I can learn new approaches to finding solutions.

Do I miss law school?

I miss the learning. Not the stress. Not the inability to sleep more than three hours at a stretch. Not the pimple outbreaks. Not even the information. I miss the learning.

Do I regret not staying past my first year?

Not with the way my life is starting to come together. I've grown a lot in the months since I decided to leave law school without hating who I've become, as was happening when I was in law school. I didn't like me too much. I was snippy. I drank too much. I isolated. Life with myself was generally unpleasant. And I knew that even if I had stayed, I would have pursued my PhD after completion of law school. Now? Now if I decide to go back and get my JD, it will be after getting my PhD and it will be from an educated standpoint.

It is remarkably interesting, though. I know more about the law now than I did when I was in law school. It's had time to sink in, to be understood, and to see where the applications work. When I was in law school, it was all in the abstract. I'm not quite sure if I would have stayed in law school had there been more time for absorption rather than a constant barrage of information that simply had to be memorized and regurgitated. Probably not. If it were affordable? Yeah, probably. I could deal with $70,000 in debt for three years of law school including living expenses rather than $150,000 for the same priviledge. At $70,000, I probably would have thought of it as a fair cost for non-practicing education.

And who knows. I may win the lotto one day. And after I do my investing and round the world cruise, I may decide to invest in having more education.

Resident of BizarroWorld

A co-worker has a furry in his class.

She's only part-time furry when she's on campus. You know, just a tail and a dog collar.

Which brought up dino porn. And my comment that there's a fetish for everything. I'm waiting to see a corset-training man here at SSU. Apparently, last semester heralded not one, but TWO! transvestites.

Ah well, it's a choice.

08 October 2006

I hate this place!

I was just fine with the crazy students, the bizarro radio adverts. But today? Today topped the fucking cake.

Doing my laundry this evening, all of a sudden, my bathroom started spewing shit. Literally. The bathtub overflow drain, the toilet, the sink. All started spewing sewage.

If this happens again, I'm leaving. Fuck my lease. He can deal.

This goes under the category of absolutely horrifying.

You see, I could deal if it was just a water overflow. I really could. But my landlord has failed to do some basic maintainence with this place. One would think that after a tenant runs out on the lease, you go check all the easily viewed things (walls, floors, etc.) to see if there's any damage done. And then you just pay the money to get the stuff you can't see all taken care of. Like drains and pipes. Get them roto-rootered and call it good. Consider it money well spent to avoid a problem like this.

I really really hate this place.

07 October 2006

300

After the piteous showing of Troy and The Last Samurai, I'm hesitant to see movies with a historical overlay. Most of the time they're either poorly done (Troy) or utterly unrealistic to anyone with knowledge about the subject (The Last Samurai)... But 300 is based off Frank Miller's graphic novel. So, therein I'm torn.

I love Frank Miller's work. Brilliant storyteller.

But I'm afraid it will suck. I'm afraid that it will be a horrendous interpretation of the Battle of Thermopylae. I'm afraid that the wonder that is Miller's artistic style will destroy any accuracy that I want. The Battle of Thermopylae was a phenomonal situation that ushered in the democratic city-state of Greece.

Persia presented between 60,000 and 5 million men on the field of battle (depending on what historical record you go with. Modern historians lean more towards the 60,000 - 120,000 mark). The Greeks presented with a little over 5,000. Unbelievable odds.

300 is so titled because of the 300 soldiers that Sparta presented with and the fierce military strength of the Spartans. A favorite attribution of mine is that Spartan mothers would tell their sons to "return with their shield, or on it." The 300 led the Greek contingent against the overwhelming numbers of Persia. Fighting ensued (as it does) and all but the Spartan contingent and the Thebian citizen-soldiers fell back. Ultimately, the remaining Greek soldiers were decimated by the Persian forces, but that was a willing sacrifice. You see, before engaging in this battle, Sparta went to the Oracle of Delphi to find out what the outcome may be.

The Oracle reportedly told Sparta:*
O ye men who dwell in the streets of broad Lacedaemon!
Either your glorious town shall be sacked by the children of Perseus,
Or, in exchange, must all through the whole Laconian country
Mourn for the loss of a king, descendant of great Heracles.
He cannot be withstood by the courage of bulls nor of lions,
Strive as they may; he is mighty as Jove; there is naught that shall stay him,
Till he have got for his prey your king, or your glorious city.

In essence, the Oracle's warning was that either Sparta would be conquered and left in ruins, or one of her two hereditary kings must sacrifice his life to save her.

So, Frank. Please don't disappoint me. I don't mind if you take 'creative license,' but don't go as far as Troy did and completely omit the gods. There are many points of significance with the Battle at Thermopylae, don't omit them for rippling chest shots of whoever your lead is.

*Oracle's statement yoinked from wikipedia.org

I have a suck-up!

One of my students emailed me and asked me:

"Have you written any books? You are an excellent writer."

I will admit, when I write for my students, it's a professional thing. When I blog, it's another form of talking.

I love it! I have a suck-up! And compliments on my writing are so much cooler than "hey, teacher, you're pretty/funny/have a cute wrinkle in your nose"

This almost makes up for the announcement of audio-hallucinatory schitzophrenia earlier this week.

06 October 2006

Losing faith in humanity, one day at a time.

As many of you can see by my link list, I'm fond of Teacher Lady and her blog, Sex Ed in Higher Ed.

Recently, she made two posts that just, well, made my non-existant baby Jesus cry.

The first was "Have we come a long way, baby?" where she recounts the lack of anything smacking of feminism, as she refers to it. Personally, I think it's the lack of young women doing anything that resembles being assertive in their lives.

Case in point:

But (feminist glasses back on) - aren't these young women acting in some ways like, I don't know? Administrative assistants? Mothers? Whether these young men are just lazy, clueless, helpless or all of the above, why did they choose women to step into these roles? Or perhaps the women volunteered - I don't know. But my hunch is that the second time Johnny Student turned to the male seated next to him and said, "Dude, can you hook me up with some paper and a pen?" that "Dude" would have told him to go to hell. Or the nearest Office Max. And Sporto would not have dreamed of asking a guy to hang on to his little slip of paper so he didn't lose it. I'm guessing.

So, I'm curious - although I realize I may be "pole vaulting over mouse turds" as an old boss liked to say when we got obsessed with minuatae, what do you think? No big deal? Or sign of the "Backlash" Susan Faludi warned us about 15+ years ago? Or something in between?

I've seen a number of women in this area of the country being extremely co-dependent. I'm not sure if it's the culture here or if this is the development of young women today. Whatever happened to "I am woman, hear me roar"?

Unfortunately, I am not immune. Get me into a new relationship with some decent sex happening and I run the high risk of turning into a co-dependent sex kitten. Or at least that's what looking at my past would lead you to believe. However, there are still limits and lines that you just don't cross. Does the 17-22 female demographic revel in the fact that they will roll over like submissive puppies for the attention of a guy?
Listening to the 'women' around the campus that I teach at, the answer seems to be a resounding 'yes.' Apparently, having a ma-yun makes you complete. Important. Whatever. He beats you? Bitch to your friends in the middle of the mall (walking, not shopping), but be sure to mention how much you love him and that you know how sorry he is for beating you. And it's okay, because he doesn't beat your two kids from three different fathers... if you even know who sired your brood at all.
He cheats? Explain it away because 'men have needs' and 'it's okay because he always comes home.' And I used to scratch my head in wonder as to why men would cheat. Now, I just realize that they watch how women in their demographic respond and get the clear impression that they can fuck anyone they want, spreading their seed (and other biohazards) just so long as they 'come home.'
He belittles you in front of all and sundry? Shit, hon, that's fine. You just tell me how he treats you so well when no one else is watching. That makes everything better.

I used to lament at being single. Oh, woe is me. And there are occasions where I get a little pissy because there are aspects of life that would be easier with the right person to be there in my corner. But after listening to the news about yet another person shooting/beating/running over their SO... Viva la single life! It's not harder being a single. Hell, given my interesting history with Those That Should Not Have Been Chosen (aka 'the exes'), it's a lot easier being single. But it seems like the majority of young women are terrified of being alone because it makes them less of a person.

To you ladies, I say this. Get a job. Get a life. Get some fucking self-worth. (Self-esteem is different, though it might help, too.) Learn to accept yourself before moving on to someone else. And for the love of god, live on your own between living with the parents and living with a SO. PLEASE!

I regret to admit that I have no idea who Susan Faludi is past being a reference in someone else's blog. I'm not sure if this reality consitutes "Backlash," but it does strike me that a lot of the current generation is running away from reality, using their sex as an excuse. "I'm a mother/wife, that's a full time job!" Yes, it is, if done right. But because you found someone to sign paperwork and figured out how to spread your legs does not mean that you're done with personal, mental, emotional, spiritual, etc. growth. If you want to be a SAHM and you've worked your life out to where you can be, great! But don't think it gives you license to degrade into an amoeba on the couch, hoovering in the bonbons. Get off the couch and interact with your child, the world, pass on the importance of a good education, show your kid what it's like to care and be a decent human being. If you've introduced the next generation into the world, then your job and responsibility starts. Whether you 'wanna' or not.

... Enough ranting for one day, even for me. I'll address the next rant tomorrow.

Oh, how true

Lies Graduate Students Tell

Thanks to the OP and Savage-Cats.

05 October 2006

Hi, I have a student with audio-hallucinatory schitzophrenia, how are you?

Believe me, I wish this was a joke.

Remember Grunting Woman?

Okay, let me backtrack.

I have a student that loves his iPod. Every time he comes to class, he's got those tell-tale white earbuds in... Except today. So I asked him, "hey, where's your ears?"

iPod Boy:"Oh, miss, I forgot to recharge my iPod. So I'm without it today, I'm so out of sync."
Adjunct Slave:"Too bad. Well, you just gotta listen to the music in your head. Remember, music in the head good, voices in the head, bad."
iB"Well, I got those too."
AS:"You do realize that's a symptom from the DSM IV for schitzophrenia... Right?"

Cue Grunting Woman.

GW: "I've got that. But they've got medication for it. Sometimes it works."
AS: "Interesting. You know if the voices tell you to do things, it's paranoid schitzophrenia." (I'm honestly thinking she's just trying to get in on the conversation, and that she's joking.)
GW: "Nope. Mine don't tell me what to do. They just talk to me."
AS *thinking* Holy fuck. Did a student seriously just announce to the class that she has audio-hallucinatory schitzophrenia? Where the hell am I teaching.
AS: "And with that, let's start class. There's some interesting things in the news today..."

...I really need to win the lottery. With as absolutely fucked up as this place is, something good has to come out of it.

04 October 2006

Callipygian

Main Entry: cal·li·pyg·ian
Pronunciation: "ka-l&-'pi-j(E-)&n
Variant(s): also cal·li·py·gous /-'pI-g&s/
Function: adjective
Etymology: Greek kallipygos, from kalli- + pygE buttocks
: having shapely buttocks

I love new words.

I've frequently mused that I would marry the man who tells me I have sexy elbows. However, if I was told that I was callipygous, I'd grin.

03 October 2006

Apologies to the LJ RSS Feed

I just upgraded to Blogger Beta and it appears that ALL my posts had to be relisted.
(That is all. Move along.)

Desk, meet head. Head, meet desk.

Another fabulous day at Small State U.

I hear you now. "Fabulous? Adjunct Slave is saying 'fabulous'? Was there some massive head trauma sustained over the weekend?"

It was a fabulous day because I have to go reprimand a student for her use of colourful metaphors while in class.

Allow me to explain.

I was giving a lecture and the slide said "Check the documentation" - I figured this was an excellent time to introduce the class to the term "RTFM," you know, Read The Freaking Manual. I try to maintain a professional environment in my courses, I think I say "ass" and "crap" at my most colorful. So this student? She repeats, loudly, "READ THE FUCKING MANUAL?!"

"Uh, 'freaking' was the word I used, let's keep this class PG-13 at most, mmkay?"

Look. If I can't do my normal thing of swearing like a sailor who just had his grog stolen by a rabid rhesus monkey, then you can't either, savvy?

Not to mention that this ... individual... is remarkably likely to fail the course. On top of that, she is highly unemployable in the field that we're studying. I understand that when you're missing a great many teeth that situations may arise, but realize that you're grunting with each breath and DO SOMETHING to change it. When your classmates come to me and complain about it... Hell, I don't even know how to approach something like that... "Pardon me, could you, um, stop breathing? Just for the duration of class. Is that do-able for you? It would really help with not distracting your classmates. Thanks!"

At least I have three classes that I'm creating for the web at the lovely tune of $1500 for the creation part. Something I could do in my sleep.

...Haven't signed the contract to teach the second half of this course that I'm complaining about, so I may be all kinds of Dr. Evil and say 'fuckit' - especially if my plan of winning the lottery comes to fruition.

And Adjunct Slave deleted a comment from the previous post. Why? Well, even when I'm not being your lovely anonymous adjunct slave, I don't like having that many things about me out on the internet. Too many freaks out there, thankyouverymuch, so I deleted it for the commentor's privacy. Though as a sum-up from the deleted comment, do hit Komikazee if you're at all comic-geek inclined. Good stuff.

Now? Now it's time for me to curl up with a beloved beer and pretend that all of my students are well-behaved, understand the concepts of decent personal hygiene, intelligent, and thoughtful. Barring that, hopefully there's something great and reality-show-esque on TV so I can watch someone's hopes get dashed this week. Aside from mine, that is.

02 October 2006

Yes, I'm that girl

You know the girl who has the lovely luck of being in a bar, having a conversation with a good friend about anything and is speaking loudly to be heard over the music, and then, right as the music stops, she loudly shares something like "...and then they cut away part of my cervix!"

Yep, I'm that girl.

Case in point.

Once a week, my department has a lunch that one person makes and the rest of us partake in the consuming. (The cook rotates among the department members.) Anywho. So we're having a conversation, and I playfully make a death threat on a person with a high metabolism. The topic then goes to weight loss methods. One of the ladies comments that she lost weight with each child. I state that's not my preferred method of weight loss, thanks.

Then another person who knows I don't have a flaming desire to get knocked up comments that I'm slightly anti-child.

I respond by saying, "I don't dislike children, I just want a sign that says..." cue the silence... "'condemned, do not occupy' on my uterus."

Many pairs of eyes swivel towards me.

At least I didn't use my new favorite euphemism for cramping during my period, thanks to SavageCats...

"Midgets are ice skating on my uterus."

01 October 2006

A little insight into my dark swirly place


And since there's been nothing from me all weekend, I give you my latest celebrity crush. Look familiar? No?

He's the current Dr. Who

This is David Tennant. I first saw him in the creepy BBCA movie "Secret Smile" where he played super creepy guy. And then he pops up as the new Dr. Who. Ack!

And then he smiled. And I IMDB'd him.

At least he and I were born in the same decade! And he's Scottish! Maybe I should just embrace the not-so-hidden Anglophile in me and go over to the UK to stalk date.

When I start the PhD program, I will have to go to the UK for research... I'll have to remind myself to step out of the library every so often so I can go encounter the local wildlife. They can't all hate Americans, can they?

28 September 2006

It's like Nigerian Scamail, but not.

Seriously? Seriously?!

A comment from "Schadenfreude... pie?"

Good work, very nice blog. Seems you enjoy working with/ on the internet. And
if something like that even pays off well, it would be even better, woulnd't it?

I chose you because you convinced meby all the effort you put into it. That
really convinced me.
For further information please look up my site www-franco.blogspot.com Please get more information
on....

Yeah. Because I'm spechul. Because I have tons of free time, what with all the teaching and GRE prepwork and homework and all. Bitch, please.

Schadenfreude... pie?

Because when you think pie, you think about how joyous you are at the misfortune of others.

Don't you?

I sure do.

27 September 2006

Sometimes, I love teaching...

Like the look your students give you when you're being stern and slightly cruel...

It's almost like you asked them...
"Is this your childhood dog?"
*PUNT*

It's like Survivor...

...except they vote themselves off the island. Class. Whatever.

Mumbling Boy opted to drop my class.

And before you give me the "you can't reach everyone" speech, let me just say this. I went in and spoke with co-workers about it, kind of down-faced. And they gave me that speech. I pointed out that I was feeling guilty. More of the speech. Then I pointed out that I was feeling guilty because I feel so relieved that he's dropped.

Finally, the class can move forward with a standard pace.

Finally, I can stop feigning that I care about the woes of a student. Because I really don't. I'm here to teach you. Not to be your friend. Not to be chatty. If you want advice in the field, great. If you want to tell me about your issues outside of school? Don't care. Go 'way.

*sticks fingers in ears* lalalalalalaalalalala!

Here's the deal. If I don't get that paper from Student Disabilities that states the accommodations you need, I can't treat you any differently than any other student.

Even when you get all pouty.

And I don't care how special you were in high school. How mommy and daddy say that you're not different, you're unique.

Get me the paper and I'll work with you. Tell me that you're as normal as anyone else, and you get treated as such.

...We'll see who votes themselves off the island next.

26 September 2006

And the hits keep coming...

We all know what's coming next, right? Yes. It's time for e-mail fun!

Dear Benevolent Dictator;

I am writing to introduce myself.

Really? Is that what this is about? We're in week 5. Don't you think it's a little late to be saying "hiya!"?

Im Cool But Late, originaly from Somewhere, ST, and I am meant to be taking your Western Civ class this term. I am XX years old, and have been working as a flight attendant for the last XX-19 years. This is the beginning of my attempt to go to school and complete my degree.

Is this a cultural thing endemic to this part of the country? Does your place of origin matter? Is it spiffy and cool like "I'm originally from Iceland!" or is it 45 minutes up the road and not much more impressive than the location of Small State U? Also, does your place of origin keep you from properly using punctuation marks?

You are meant to be taking my class? I'm not sure if this means I'm supposed to add you (which is unnecessary because if you're able to email me, you're able to access the course), or if it means you're trying to take the course. I'd suggest that you just take the course and see how it goes. As Yoda said, "do or do not. There is no 'try'."

Congrats. You've hit XX without being in a prison web course. And, you know, I really preferred the term 'stewardess' compared to 'flight attendant'. At least then my expectations were suitably lowered. And good for you for coming to Small State U Online to begin to finish your degree... Planning on taking any English courses?

Im glad to be doing so, but Ive been in the process of moving, which has been much more complicated than I expected, and I am now getting a very late start with your class.

You're happy. I'm happy. We're all happy! (The banister's happy!) Yes. Moving is a bitch. Moving cross country even more so. Hey, here's an idea. Move cross country, have a new course dropped in your lap and realize you're going to spend the rest of the semester winging it for that course. Honey, Murphy has set himself up in my guest bedroom... Life sucks. Get a helmet.

This is all new territory for me. I have never done much reading, and have never written a paper or done formal research. I am continuing to fly full time, and although im only taking one class it's still a little overwhelming for me. I am serious about what i am doing, though, and will do my best to continue forward. This week, Ive tried to do as much reading as possible to catch up quickly.

o/~Don't know much about his-to-ree.o/~ It's a 100 level course. If you're thinking there's formal research aside from my Nazi-esque requirement to use Chicago/Turabian citation... You're sorely mistaken. My online course is kinda like being in the National Guard, except you can't get sent over to Iraq. 6 hours a week. 16 weeks a year.

However, you are indeed light years ahead of your classmates. You see, you said the magic word. Read. Reading is impressive. It makes me happy. And for someone to put forth the effort... Makes a world of difference. Hell, I might even cut you some slack.

I finished Assignment X this morning, and am forwarding it to you now. I understand it may be late or even unacceptable, but id like to send it to you anyway for your thoughts.

A week past deadline is 'late'... Anything past that, I don't accept. However, since you're putting forth effort and said the magic word, I'll review it. I hope there's proper punctuation. Oh, and welcome to the slack.

I will get started on Assignment Y as soon as I get through a little more of the reading

Meh. Do you know what it means to me if you don't turn your assignments in on time? It means one less thing for me to grade. This makes your classmates happy because I don't critique like I'm an anorexic hippopotamus on crack.

I like your powerpoints : )

Oh my. Does this mean you're really *not* reading?

Thank you; Cool

You are ultimately welcome.
--Benevolent Dictator

Disappointed Instructor Face (tm) AHOY!

I was mean to the kidlets today.

I put the high, average, and passing score up on the wall-o-whiteboard and was very quiet until they all came in and class started at the designated hour.

I then pointed to the scores and said in my best Disappointed Instructor voice (booming, no less)... "This should never happen again."
...Shocked look on the students' faces
muhahaha
"You have priorities in life. I understand this. This course should be a priority. If you cannot pass my quiz, you will not be able to pass Relatively Easy Certification Exam. So, it's up to you to rethink your priorities... Or explore your options."
...Stunned silence. Kinda like I'd just told them the truth about Santa and what he really does with the reindeer and elves up at the lonely North Pole.

You see, I'm not allowed to encourage any students to withdraw. Or drop the course.

Not even Mumbling Boy, with his IQ of 80. (I'm not saying that to be cruel, my supervisor agrees that he either has a severe LD or an IQ of around 80... I love the people I work with!) Oh, and today in class? Mumbling Boy announced his grade to the class - well below passing - and wandered in and out during lab... Guess who's not getting full points... Three guesses and the first two don't count.

Yeah.

So, if you read the posts from yesterday, you know I had a day. I got home and my brain was broken. Shattered into a million pieces broken. And then a good friend of mine links me something that caused me to give the response of "if my brain wasn't already broken, it would be now."

(Extremely NSFW)

I present to you...
Pterodactyl Porn
and
Tyrannosaurus Sex

Yes. There are officially fetishists for everything now. Of the two, for sheer humor I would encourage you to watch Pterodactyl Porn. It includes pointless pterodactyl puppetry along with costumes.

...And my mom thought furries were odd when she found out about their existence via CSI. I shared the concept of Dino Porn with her this evening while we were talking about the way the retards1 mentally handicapped (can be trained for repetitive menial jobs, but no substantial life skills) students pair up in the dorms. Yes. Pair up as in hook up. Thankfully, part of the program is enforced birth control.

Back to the teaching thing. I think my students are going to believe I have a mental disorder because I started class with a stern lecture, made them laugh during the informative lecture, and then berated them for their quiz scores at the end of class. Then we had lab. A lab that really should not have taken as long as it did. But they were scared. And way overthinking everything.

Good.

Of course, there's talk about canceling my class and refunding my students because the certification exam they have to take is being changed. Now, because it's past the add/drop date, and my class made, I think they'll still have to pay me my contracted amount. Especially because the class would be cancelled for things beyond my control.

1Look, I remember when 'retard' was a proper term for someone with a mental handicap. The mental/emotional growth (and sometimes physical growth) was retarded (retard (v): to slow up especially by preventing or hindering advance or accomplishment) and it was the best descriptor. Now, everyone and their brother has a mental handicap or disability. But you know what? When I say 'retard,' you know exactly what I mean.

To hell with being all politically correct. I fear political correctness and its implications far more than I fear terrorists/the radical right/the radical left/the Shetland Islands.

25 September 2006

A question...

In the event that any other higher-ed people (no offense to my friends teaching in the high, middle, and elementary schools) read this...

I have a question.

Do you ever long to start a class by saying the following to your students?

Look, I'd rather be sitting at home in my PJs, watching trashy TV and swilling beer. But I'm not. I'm here because I have a contract, because I actually *gasp* enjoy teaching, and because I am interested in you having a higher level of understanding. I prepare for this class. When you come into class unprepared, it makes me want to give a quiz. Assign hellish homework. Do anything that might drag your asses into something that resembles a gear that isn't marked 'reverse'. But, hey. If you don't want to be here, let me know. Because I have a pair of PJs, trashy shows on TIVO, and a six pack waiting for me.

...Or is it just me?

Oh, and is "doormat" stamped on my ass?

Dear Mrs.¹ Benevolent Dictator/Adjunct Slave:
I am sending you my assignment that was due last week2. I know it is late, but I hope I can still receive any type of credit3. I am sorry it was so late, but I have not have any access to a computer because mine has not been working4. I also had trouble finding the Chicago Style type of format so that I could cite my references in my assignment. If there are other sites that will help me find this please let me know. Finally I was wondering if I could still take a quiz for chapters One through Four5. If I cannot let me know. I know this assignment is due past its deadline, but I sent it to let you know that I am still making an effort even though I am in the position I am in6.
Thank You,
Idiot R Procrastinator

¹Strike 1: I am not a Mrs. I am a Ms. or a Miss. Do not assume that I am a Mrs. Do not ma'am me.
2My department (Lawd bless 'em) has a policy that we are required to accept papers up to 7 days late. No more. After 7 days, that's it.
3RTFM, d00d. I clearly state in at least a million places on the course that late assignments are accepted for one week after the due date. Nothing past that. Asshat.
4So sorry your computer is not working. Guess what. You signed up for an online class. It is your responsibility to get the assignments done and turned in on time, regardless of what your computer is doing. Go to an internet cafe. Idiot.
5I'm guessing if my policy for assignments is hard-ass, my policy for re-opening quizzes is going to be in much the same vein. Get a fucking clue, dipshits. I ain't yo mamma. I don't care about your problems.
6All that effort still won't get you a cup of coffee. All that effort and about $2.50 will. I have another stumper for you... Guess who doesn't give out grades based on effort. Oh, that's right. ME!

Adjunct Slave's Actual Response:
Idiot R Procrastinator:
Websites to help you with citing in Chicago format can be found in the Assignment Format document under "Course Documents" on the main page.

The policies of my department disallow me from accepting any assignment in excess of one week past the original due date. I cannot re-open the quizzes for chapters 1 through 4, either.
Regards,
Benevolent Dictator

Do I have a sign on me that says "please tell me your life story"?

As most of you may (or may not) know, I hang out with the smokers. Outside the adjunct office, down the hall, out the doors, and there's the smoking area.

I need to find a new smoking area.

For the third time in two weeks, someone in the area has felt compelled to share their life story with me. This time it was a girl in her early 20s.

What I she told me about herself:
  • Her mother is the mother from "Mommy Dearest"
  • She was born in Sicily, Italy
    • Her grandfather named her in Italian
    • Her Italian name means "The pretty girl that will poison any young gentleman that falls in love with her"
    • Her grandfather is in the Chicago Mafia
      • Her grandfather used to invite people over for a card game where she would serve drinks and receive $100 'tips'
      • Her grandfather also used her to poison the drinks of people he wanted bumped off
  • She is originally from Chicago
  • She used to do heavy (i.e. heroin, cocaine) drugs
  • She was slipped something at a party when she was 15, raped, and bore a child that was the result of the rape
  • She used to have a job, while she was in high school, where she earned $10,000/mo under the table running a cafe
    • She lived on her own when she was 9
    • When she was 16, her mother stole $30,000 of her savings from that job from her
  • She's ex-bi-sexual
  • She's married, kinda. She divorced her husband so she could be on her mother's health insurance to get gastric bypass surgery, but she still lives with her (ex)husband
  • She received and screwed up a full ride to Northwestern through the PhD level
  • Her essays are the model essays found in high school English texts
  • She gave her grandfather a heart attack by telling him she was bisexual at the dinner table
  • Her grandfather beat her grandmother
  • &c &c &c
I have no idea how much, if any, of what she told me was accurate, truthful, or remotely attached to this realm of reality. I think it's safe to say that she has the start of an excellent fictional story, or one hell of an autobiography.

I was gobsmacked. It was like being fifty feet away from a train wreck. You sit there thrilled that it wasn't you, but at the same time, you're just shocked that it happened. And it wasn't this girl's story, it was the mere fact that she was telling me - like I was her best friend, therapist... Something. All I could think when it was happening was "I have to blog this when I get home. I have to. If I don't, I'm going to explode."

Did I mention that she told me all this before I even knew her "Americanized" name? Yep. That kind of special.

Granted, I wasn't wearing my nametag that said "Instructor" on it, but most of the people around there know that I am a teacher-type person.

In other news, I spoke to one of my students today on the way to lunch. He's 17. 17! When did they get so young? While he does speak Southern/Texan (it's a blend, I know they're different accents), he's fairly bright, so I wondered why he was at Small State University. He's finishing up his senior year of homeschooling.
*headdesk*
And then he wants to go to a TV Vocational School because he thinks it'll get him far. I hope I talked him out of it. I suggested that if he wants to stay in the state, he should look at Big State University or Medium State University. I pointed out that I started off at Medium State U (and look where I am today!), and that I knew a few people in the engineering program that he wants to go into... And they did quite well for themselves out of college.

Please, Lawd, save me from "accredited colleges" that advertise on TV.

Tomorrow, I get to go in and be Disappointed Professor (TM) and give my students a stern lecture, then an informative one.

Oh, remember Comm/Theater/English Co-worker? He asked me the question I went in to ask him. "It has to get better, right? When is the last day they can withdraw?" In the hopes that those who really should not be attempting a higher education would, oh, leave.
Then we found out.
Two weeks before final grades are due in.
Two freaking weeks!

Maybe I should change the name of Small State U to Mickee Maus U. It's feeling like it.

24 September 2006

For all the current/former law school peeps

A man sitting for the SD bar for the fourth time requests accomodations because of his ADHD. Link here.

I love that if you fail the bar in SD three times, you have to get special dispensation from the courts to take it a fourth time... What about a fifth?

Disappointment abounds

At Small State U, where I work, I am not allowed to tell students "perhaps you should rethink this career plan of yours, this field does not seem to be a good fit for you." Nor am I allowed to tell students, "you should consider dropping this course before it drastically impacts your GPA, financial aid, and psyche."

Last week I gave my non-history students a quiz. A quiz that I gave the comm/theatre/english guy in my main department and he did better than the mean.

No student scored perfect on the quiz. This is four weeks into the semester. Granted, this is not a subject that is covered in high school, which is why the first quiz was given 1/4 of the way through the semester - give the students a chance to become accustomed to the material. It is all shiny and new for the majority of them.

High score: 19/20 (A)
Low score: 7/20 (F)
Average score: 13.46/20 (D)
Passing score: 12.2/20 (D)
Exams given: 14
Passing scores: 8

I get to go in on Tuesday and proclaim how this is unacceptable. And if SSU would allow me, I would say that some of these students either need to study more and find out where they are running into a hitch, or consider moving into a different program. And it's not like the quiz I gave was subjective. It was multiple choice and terms!

Granted, some of them failed to read the instructions on the terms section, but given the subject, if they can't read the directions, they shouldn't be in the program.

I refuse to drop my standards any more. I suspect a number of them will start to consider withdrawing from my course, and a good portion of those will withdraw after the midterm.

Why? Why dear god of all that is shiny. Why?

This was from last semester.

Summer session. Lasts 8 weeks. Basically, summer session is that lovely time of the year where my paychecks double, and so does my use of Pepto Bismol.

Now, for my online courses, I don't care if you show up. I don't care if you ever log in. I'm not your momma. I don't care if you pass or if you fail.

And I sure as shit don't care about your woes.

Week 6, I get an email from a student. He writes me and explains that he needs to pass this class with at least a B in order to keep his scholarship to Big State U. Crisis McWhiner then decides that I'm the person that he should share his and his family's financial woes with. Mr. McWhiner won't be able to attend Big State U if he doesn't have this scholarship because his parents make too much money for him to take out loans. (Uh... Dumbass. You won't be able to take out non-private loans. Private lenders would LOVE to give you money... Learn how Financial Aid works.) And he's young enough that he's still considered a dependent.

Did I mention that Mr. McWhiner hadn't turned in 3 out of the 4 assignments that were due at that point? Hadn't completed 10 out of the 12 quizzes? Oh, and the kicker? Didn't even bother with his midterm. Oh yeah. We have a whiner on our hands.

I like to consider myself a compassionate person. However, when you tell me you need a certain grade and you haven't earned it, don't talk to me. I hate. Loathe. Despise with the passion of a thousand burning suns. Those students.

Say it with me.

I don't give grades, you earn them.

I have been in so many classes where I have busted serious ass for a "B" and others where I could have walked in, slept, and still gotten an "A". This is the nature of the game.

I've never taken so much joy in entering an "F" for a final grade.

Sideways bitch: I hate it when grapes are labeled as seedless and they're not.

It's so nice to know that it's not just me...

I came across another higher ed blog - Sex Ed in Higher Ed - and I adore this woman.

It also makes me thrilled to know that it's not just me. My students are not the only 'special ones' that cannot read a syllabus. That need to be carried around the campus.

It also makes me realize that I really need to start taking care of business. So, while I go and do that, read her blog. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

21 September 2006

Rapping Professor


Seriously. I would consider going to VT for my PhD or after I get done just to meet this guy. I can't imagine that he's single. But I can dream!

Cell phones are evil, mmmkay?


I just take the cell phones away until the end of class if they ring while I'm lecturing. I also answer them and tell the person on the other end that the person they were trying to call is in class...

Perhaps I should show this video and allow my students to see what a benevolant dictator I really am.

19 September 2006

Yarr... It be Talk Like a Pirate Day

And I should have told my students to walk the bloody plank.

Another day of people not reading. Another day...

So Thursday, they get a quiz. And homework. And wow was I cranky today. Maybe it was the allergies. Maybe it was something else, but me = ubercranky.

Yarr, bitches.

Did I mention that I threatened a student with bodily harm today? Whoops! Did I mention that I miss the days when you could threaten students?

Yes, I already emailed an apology and explained that his undermining my authority was unacceptable and how if it continued I'd have to go fill out a form about it... And I hate filling out forms.

16 September 2006

Tomorrow is constitution Day

Yes, another federal holiday. Hold on, it gets better... My university is having to disrupt morning classes to go do something around the flagpole. It's mandatory

...By base logic, doesn't granting me the freedom to assemble also grant me the freedom not to assemble?

Yes, with the implementation of Constitution and Citizenship day two years ago, there is a requirement pursuant to Section 111 of an initiative that requires all educational facilities receiving money from the Department of Education to perform some educational program for constitution and Citizenship Day on or around the day (if the 17th falls on a weekend).

At my university, they're also 'requesting' a mandatory wardrobe of red, white, and blue for the instructors. How about I just drape a flag as a cape... Will that work?

I need to find out if the Department of Education provides funding to the school in a way other than financial aide. You see, I contacted my mentor from my undergrad school and they're not requiring their instructors to do anything for Constitution Day. I also checked the email from my former law school and they're not doing anything for Constitution Day, at least not anything that's required for students to attend.

I'm just irked. It's absolute crap to pull students out of classes to do something around the flagpole and enforce an appearance of patriotism for some unknown reason... Wouldn't it be easier to take five minutes and allow the individual professors to incorporate the constitution into their coursework?

And, of course, no one is saying 'boo' about the stupidity of this, or even pointing out the utter logical fallacy of making an assembly to 'celebrate' the constitution mandatory. I swear, it's like watching the inception of Nazi Germany. "It does not impact me, so I will say nothing."

Those who lose out are the students and the instructors. The students lose part of their Monday class-time, when we already lose two Mondays a semester that are not matched by a Tuesday/Thursday loss. And when the students get pissed off about having to go do something other than what was planned, it's the professors that are going to get the irate students. Even if we encourage them to e-mail the responsible party for making this decision, we instructors still get the cranky ones.

And no one wants to say anything because the person responsible for this takes offense SO easily, that you will likely be fired for even breathing a contradictory opinion.

Wherever I am when I get tenure... They're gonna hate me. I refuse to stand by and be silent. I have been requested to at the moment by other members of my department, and I will respect their request, but when I'm tenured, my wrath will be felt.

No one is thinking of the students and what is best for them.

Dumbassedness all around.

11 September 2006

Sie sind zurück! (Sorry, closest I had to Norwegian)


They're back!

Munch paintings recovered

Both of the paintings by famed Norwegian artist Edvard Munch that were stolen two years ago have been found and are now in the possession of the police in Oslo.

Oslo police could finally report the recovery of two Munch masterpieces stolen on August 22, 2004.

PHOTO: FRED GJESTAD

"The Scream"

PHOTO: SCANPIX

"Madonna"

PHOTO: SCANPIX

The theft of the two Munch masterpieces shocked the nation in 2004.

PHOTO: SCANPIX

Related stories:
Calls made for 'as is' exhibit

Both The Scream and Madonna were found Thursday afternoon in what police described as a "successful action" by the Oslo Police District.

Police wouldn't say where the famed artworks were found, but said they think the paintings have been in Norway all along.

The paintings are, according to police, in much better shape than they had feared.

Iver Stensrud, who heads the Oslo Police District's organized crime division, claimed no ransom had been paid, nor had any reward been paid out to tipsters.

Expert examinations of the paintings must still be carried out, but police were confident they had recovered the masterpieces that were spirited out of the Munch Museum in Oslo's Tøyen District on August 22, 2004.

No arrests had been made as of Thursday evening, and none of the men convicted of the theft of the paintings is said to have contributed to the recovery of the paintings.

The theft of the Munch paintings has long been thought to have been part of efforts to divert police attention from their investigation of another armed robbery earlier that year, in which a police officer was killed.

"The Scream" has been valued at NOK 500 million (USD 81 million) and "Madonna" at NOK 100 million, but both artworks were also considered priceless in many ways and difficult if not impossible to sell.

The paintings Madonna and The Scream were torn off their walls at the Munch Museum on a quiet Sunday morning in August 2004. The armed robbery shocked the art world and the country, and meant the loss of two national treasures.

City and museum officials were jubilant that the paintings are back in safe hands.

"I am, on behalf of Oslo's entire population, both relieved and happy," said Gro Balas, director of culture for the city of Oslo, which owns the paintings through the will drawn up by Edvard Munch himself.

Balas said the paintings are owned "by everyone," and that "the whole world has an option on these paintings."

She said she'd experienced being in Germany and having people "come up and offer their condolences after the paintings were stolen."

Ingebjørg Ydstie, acting leader of the Munch Museum in Oslo, told news bureau NTB that experts will now make a comprehensive examination of the paintings, to determine whether they've been damaged. She stressed that the experts so far have no doubt that the paintings found are genuine.

"I feel a great sense of joy on behalf of the museum and a whole world of art lovers," she said. "This is a big day."

Ydstie said she expected the examination to be completed relatively quickly, so the paintings could be put back on exhibit again.

Aftenposten's reporters
Nicolai Heyerdahl
Trond Eide

Aftenposten English Web Desk
Nina Berglund


This is an article from www.aftenposten.no.
Updated: 01. september 2006 kl.12:23
It can be found at this address: http://www.aftenposten.no/english/local/article1441444.ece

Publisher: Aftenposten Multimedia A/S, Oslo, Norway. Telephone: +47 - 22 86 30 00.All rights, including copyright and database right, are owned by or licensed to Aftenposten Multimedia.
© Aftenposten Multimedia.

Interesting observation

(No, I am not posting a memoriam blather about September 11th. It happened, we're still dealing with it. When the world is not terrifying anymore, then I'll do the entire 'oh, woe is me' thing. 'Til then, I'm still pissed.)

The school that I teach at has about 2500 students. The town that I'm in has about 50,000 people. Granted, we have a program for mentally disabled students to teach them how to function in life skills... But the percentage of mentally disabled and physically handicapped students at this small school is astounding. And apparently there's a number of mentally disabled people in this community (aside from just the school)... It makes me wonder why.

Is this another Woburn, MA deal? Too many kids licking lead paint from the walls? Higher levels than usual of mercury in the food/water source? It's just bizarre.

I'm always curious when the percentage of non-accident disability is so much higher than the norm.
I'm missing the relaxation I had in .au... So here's some (snagged) photos of one of my favorite places in Australia - the Blue Mountains.

blackheath_govettsleap
Govett's Leap
katoomba_3sisters
Three Sisters

10 September 2006

Music soothes the savage beast

I honestly forgot how much music calms me.

Now that I've switched out for a good hard drive and have all my goodies reloaded, I've done the wise thing and started doing massive conversion. Right now, I'm listening to Der Kommisar by Falco... Yes, I'm reliving 80s EuroWave. Leave me be.

Today's supposed to be my powerpointing day. I'm trying to get in the mood. I also have to do a translation of The Little Prince for my French course which is starting to overwhelm me.

I also need to do the breakfast thing. Lawdie, but things all start to get piled on if you don't do them during the week. I suppose I'll have to make better use of my time.

Oh, and so this doesn't go too off topic... Today in History, thanks to The History Net.
1419 John the Fearless is murdered at Montereau, France, by supporters of the dauphine.
1547 The Duke of Somerset leads the English to a resounding victory over the Scots at Pinkie Cleugh.
1588 Thomas Cavendish returns to England, becoming the third man to circumnavigate the globe.
1623 Lumber and furs are the first cargo to leave New Plymouth in North America for England.
1813 The nine-ship American flotilla under Oliver Hazard Perry wrests naval supremacy from the British on Lake Erie by capturing or destroying a force of six English vessels.
1846 Elias Howe patents the first practical sewing machine in the United States.
1855 Sevastopol, under siege for nearly a year, capitulates to the Allies during the Crimean War.
1861 Confederates at Carnifex Ferry, Virginia, fall back after being attacked by Union troops. The action is instrumental in helping preserve western Virginia for the Union.
1912 J. Vedrines becomes the first pilot to break the 100 m.p.h. barrier.
1914 The six-day Battle of the Marne ends, halting the German advance into France.
1923 In response to a dispute with Yugoslavia, Mussolini mobilizes Italian troops on Serb front.
1961 Jomo Kenyatta returns to Kenya from exile, during which he had been elected president of the Kenya National African Union.
1963 President John F. Kennedy federalizes Alabama's National Guard to prevent Governor George C. Wallace from using guardsmen to stop public-school desegregation.
1981 Pablo Picasso's painting Guernica is returned to Spain and installed in Madrid's Prado Museum. Picasso stated in his will that the painting was not to return to Spain until the Fascists lost power and democracy was restored.

08 September 2006

Veto

I'm vetoing the rest of the weekend.

Hopefully, after this weekend is done, I'll be in a better headspace and be back on the posting jag.

Remember, next weekend I get the first round of assignments in, so there may be snippets of inadvertant student humor being posted in two weeks' time.

And remember... I'd never tell you not to do anything I wouldn't do... I'm just going to tell you, "don't get caught."

omg omg omg omg omg *breathe* omg omg omg

It never fucking ends. Next semester, I will at least have the powerpoints in my arsenal of goodies. But then I will have to work on the other supplements.

Teaching 3 courses, taking 2 classes, one of which requires me to work and pay attention (whee, French), and I'm bloody exhausted by the end of the day. Hopefully the face-to-face will get less up-down as the semester wears on.

Back to powerpointing goodness. Oh, and to the author of my instructor's cheatbook for my text:
Love volume II less, and volume I more. 2 page outlines for volume I and 5 page outlines for volume II is obviously textism!

29 August 2006

I survived the first day of teaching.

And it's official. I'm think I'm funnier than my students do.

My Carma Ran Over Your Dogma

"One the other hand my favorite word is Carma, I use it all the time and I strongly believe in how you behave towards others will eventually catch up with you wheather good actions or bad. My girlfriends and I always refer to Carma and that is why it is my favorite word i suppose."

Every semester, I ask my students to give their name, rank, etc... And to post their favorite word.

I'm about to implement a rule. If you can't spell it correctly, it can't be your favorite word.

Yes. It makes my baby Jesus cry.

(For those who don't know, the proper spelling is 'karma.')

26 August 2006

w00t

2 out of 3 powerpoints done.

One to go. Should be easier than the first one because now I have my sooper sekret way of doing it.

I wish I had the time and understanding to turn parts of my Eddie Izzard DVDs into video clips so I could include the riff on Stonehenge for the chapter 1 slideshow.

Next semester. Ah well, at least I have a PG-version of the slideshow for right now. I suspect that I'll be putting the ones with the Eddie clips under a "mature audiences" rating.*

Can't wait til I get into the Connections parts of the texts and slideshows. Again, I'll have to work out how to do the clips, but meh.

*nevermind that I should have a mature audiences rating... hush.

Heinleinean Approach to Teaching

I've discovered that I am involved in the Heinleinean approach to teaching.

Okay, I'm sure most of you are sitting here going "I know who Heinlein is. I've read some Heinlein, but what the hell is the Heinleinean approach to teaching? Do you create a commune with your students? Introduce them to a sentient computer? What?"

The Heinleinean approach to anything is as follows:
You are in a burning building. The flames are licking at your feet and death is nanoseconds away. There is a window. You are on the 17th floor.
The obvious Heinleinean approach is to jump out the window. Why? Though you may die, you are ultimately buying yourself 15 seconds to solve the next problem. As you go whirring by, there is a rope/levitation device/window washer platform. You grab that because it buys you another few seconds to solve the next problem. Rinse. Repeat.

What I'm doing now with the changes I have to do to my courses because of accreditation stuff going on this semester, because of the delay of some of my supervisors, because of people having issues with basic thought processes... Is the Heinleinean approach to teaching. I'm putting together PowerPoints because that keeps the students entertained long enough for me to identify and start working on a solution for the next problem.

Currently, the next problem is the pre-test for my courses, for which I have not received a solid answer. And the lack of any sort of syllabus for the computer course. And the recreation of a course that "oh, we've had people do this before..."

Now, I understand the desire to have your intellectual property protected, but if you're going to toss someone into a course with weeks before the semester, then you'd sure as shit better have something more than "here's the book, here's the labs, here's the CD, have fun!" And then later say "oh, I have a syllabus provided by the textbook company" (gee, thanks. Mightn't you have mentioned that before I started tearing my hair out over this while trying to get my first week of lectures sorted?) "oh, I have the WebCT shell for the e-course supplement also, would you like that loaded?" (No, I've only had access to the current shell for a day, and now it's 4 days before courses start. I love working under this much pressure. Fucker.)

It honestly amazes me at how the Heinleinean approach to life pops up, and it's usually because of some other person's poor planning or bad act.

Amazingly, it's not my students that piss me off about teaching. It's my supervisors and my peers.

25 August 2006

The hiatus continues...

Classes start on Monday. Is your intrepid adjunct ready?

Kinda.

The history courses are going well enough, and I'm trying to get the powerpoints for the first week's chapter all sorted out for those... The computer course I'm teaching... Well, let's just say that I suspect that the department that's in is run by monkeys. I just got an email saying "oh, there's more stuff that I wanted to go over with you at the insanely long meeting, because your classroom is special and you need to know all these things and I'm an ass because I'm dropping this on you three days before classes start. Glad to have you on board!"

Thanks. It took me a week to do development for the lecture. Now you've just set up my e-course supplement (which I haven't looked at yet - I'm afraid) today. Really. Thanks for being so helpful. No, I have no other courses I'm teaching. Of course your department is my top priority. No, I'm not taking any courses this semester, at least not any that are drastically important. I mean, c'mon, I'm here for you. Only you. Those four credit hours I'm teaching that, while outside my field, I am most likely overqualified to teach, are definitely going to cover my rent, food, and other expenses.

Fuckity fuck fuck.

I just want to say, "look, failure of proper preparation on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine." But it's not true. It's like when I was working as a tech geek for the boatload of engineers. A screw-up on their part usually meant that I didn't see my bed until two in the morning. This is the same thing. I come in, hope against hope to be kept in the loop, knowing that I am the adjunct in that department that has any sort of clue, and then realize that I'm constantly on the verge of being screwed.

Now, I knew that the weekend before courses starting weren't going to be all quiet and mellow... But I didn't expect to have to rework the theory of relativity, either. As for now, this little peon is tired.

It's time for me to drag my little adjunct ass to bed and realize that it all starts again in the morning.

TGIF?

...Hardly.

17 August 2006

Hiatus

I am currently ass-deep in prepping lectures for Fall semester. Posting will resume when morale improves.

25 July 2006

Don't invoke Murphy!

Well, dear readers, your adjunct has inadvertantly invoked Murphy. In the process of this move, I've been having a hell of a time just getting things co-ordinated, so in my stupidity, I lamented "what else can go wrong?!"

...My desktop computer is having issues. Major issues. Like I'm going to have to do a partial rebuild issues. Now, it's about that time to do a rebuild... It's been about three years since I've upgraded, but this is not the time. It's end of semester. My students are smack in the middle of finals week...

And then I remember that the university I work for loaned me a laptop. Now, this laptop needs an OS rebuild because a few things are a little slow, but it's not asserting suicide like my desktop is, so on to the lappy I go.

So, the desktop is getting packed away and I will be living on the laptop for a bit. Some aspects of that irk me, but meh.

Now I must go grade like a banshee.

21 July 2006

Bad time to experiment, buddy

I just received an email from a student requesting that past assignments and quizzes be opened so he may have a chance at passing the course in order to maintain his scholarship.

Thus far, he has missed over half the assignments, the midterm, and over 75% of the chapter quizzes.

My policy, as well as the department's policy, is to allow a week slack to turn in late assignments. We're well past that week.

I do my best not to be an ogre. However, I am obligated by the terms of my employment contract to follow the rules of the department. Plus, I'm tired of students not planning out their online courses like they would a regular course. It is a self-paced method of instruction, and for the most part, also self-taught. A core course is not the place to experiment with the concept of "is this a fit for me?"

Now, I cut a lot of slack for students... But I only do this when they've been talking to me and letting me know what's up. Week 7 of an 8 week summer session is not the time to start being chatty. Sorry you're going to lose your scholarship. Sorry that your parents are going to have to fork over money for your education. Sorry about a lot of things...

Perhaps this will be the wake-up call that reminds you that when you hit college, you are officially an adult and have to do adult things.

Bloody prat.

18 July 2006

Seven Deadly Sins of Students - Sloth

Sloth: Students often postpone required readings and assigned preparations, making it hard for them to understand their classes the next day. Gradually, lectures and discussions that were once interesting start to seem boring and irrelevant, and the temptation to skip classes becomes greater and greater, especially when the classes are in the morning. Sometimes students arrive late with -- in my opinion -- insufficient shame, closing the door behind them with a bang. Slothful students regard themselves as full of potential, and so they make a bargain: "I will be lazy now, but I will work hard later." Like St. Augustine, students say to themselves, "Let me be chaste, but not yet." More on lust later.¹

Professor's Take:
We've all done this. Something was more important. A crisis came up. It was just too boring to get through. I will say that the one good thing that came out of my time in purgatory law school was learning how to read things that were dry and boring, and take notes on them.

Yes, your dear professor was one of those students. I would frequently attend class in undergrad having either just skimmed the material, if I'd read it at all. And yet, I did quite well in my history courses. But the reason that not reading the material is such a problem is that the lecture is designed to supplement the text, and vice versa. One does not equate to the other.

As an instructor, my frustration with this comes when that student that hasn't even dented the spine of their text comes to me and complains about their grade. Midterm, final, or even just a quiz or an assignment. You know the saying "if you didn't vote, you shouldn't bitch"? It's much the same way with doing the assigned reading.

Many students fail to realize how doing the reading helps them. Mainly because it is not an immediate gratification issue, and we all love our immediate gratification. If you have read the text and taken notes (more on this later), then you are better prepared to participate in the discussion. Or, at the very least, ask questions at the appropriate time during the lecture. And if you've taken notes while reading and while in lecture, when you go to office hours (which you should!), you can bring in your notebook with the unclear concepts marked and your professor should be able to explain the answer in a number of ways until there is one that makes sense to you. (If they can't, then you have a shit prof and I'm very sorry.)

Once you have a failure to understand the information, or be able to follow what's going on during lecture, it's very easy to 'zone out.' It's even easier to decide that you're better off not going. The original author is correct. It's a slippery slope and if you attend a university that does not have attendance requirements, or at least there's not one for the class, then it is very easy to set yourself up for failure.

And then come in and blame the instructor/professor for your poor performance. Don't do this. It makes you look like an asshole and it doesn't endear you to your professor. Academics are notoriously codependentt. If you come to us and ask for help, we're going to bend over backwards to help you. Except when you expect us to do the work. I remember writing a report in 2nd grade and asking my mom to 'help' me with it. Of course, my version of 'help' was for her to read the books, take notes, and create the outline. I have never forgotten what she said to me. "Honey, I've done second grade. I don't have to do it again."

Laziness is no excuse. Man up, take responsibility for your part, and do what you gotta do.

The door thing.

My biggest pet peeve ever. I loathed people like this as a student, and as a professor, it irritates me more. A few reasons. It interrupts my train of thought. It also makes me have to work harder. Students miss whatever I've been saying because of the interruption. And then they come up to me after class or during office hours and I have to rewind to where the hiccup was. As well as interpret the student's notes.

I think when it happens next², because it will, I'm going to pull a parental. I'm going to make them get up and go out and back in and close the door properly. And I'll do that to every student that makes that critical error. Yep. It's an interruption, but maybe something that's missing from the university experience is a little bit of social stigma for bad behaviour.

In short, the original author has hit Sloth right between the eyes. Students are notoriously lazy, especially new college students. It's amazing what huge amounts of freedom do for one's sleep habits, and one's awareness of time. I think a lot of this problem, on the student's end, could be solved with learning basic time management. Think Scotty on the original Star Trek. When he would have a problem and it needed to be solved, he would always quote a time much longer than what he thought he would need. Papers and reading are like that. Figure out how long you think it will take, then add 50-150% to it. Set aside the time, even if it's not all at once, and just do it. And have a hard copy schedule in which you write down due-dates. Remember to look at it. Stick to your timelines and schedules and you will probably find that you have more time than you anticipated, because you won't be spending so much time trying to work yourself up to doing what needs to be done. The semester is cumulative and unless you are expert at cramming or turning out 5 beautiful pages of prose in two hours, 'working harder later' just doesn't fly.


¹ Benton, Thomas H. 2006. The Seven Deadly Sins of Students. The Chronicle of Higher Education, May 12, 2006. http://chronicle.com/ (accessed July 18, 2006).
² One of the joys of being a web professor is that there are no doors to slam. I do have personal experience with this, though, for a previous teaching gig. Major pet peeve.

17 July 2006

Coming up next...

For the next class, I mean post, I would like you to have read 7 Deadly Sins of Students by Thomas H. Benton, as published in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Why?

Because I am going to take on each sin, and give it to you from a professor's point of view... And that of a recently-been student.

Because I don't ramble and rant as much when I have a topic.

And because no one has gifted me with a question/topic to rant upon, so I have to find my own amusement.

And we have a review!

"A must read for anyone who has ever attended college, talked to a professor, or otherwise suspected that our instructors are not necessarily as benevolent as they seem, here is History Is Hell."

While my students have occasionally (and erroniously) referred to me as 'benevolent,' I always suspected that it was in the vein of Vizzini from The Princess Bride. You know. "You keep saying that word, I do not think it means what you think it means." [And here we pause for some fangirl happiness. Mmmm.]

Yes, there are times when I'm willing to cut a little slack. "Aw, you're PMSing really bad *and* your favorite cucumber patch has blight? Okay, three day extension."
But there are times when I'm not. "So this is the fifth grandmother that's died this year, right?"

Basically, here's the deal. Here's the Dirty Little Secret, part 2.

Professors.
[looks around]
Are.
[drops into a conspiratorial whisper]
People.

No, you idiot. Not like Soylent Green is people. ...Okay, thinking on some of my co-workers, kinda like Soylent Green is people. I digress.

I teach a social science, soft science, whatever you want to call it. If I don't take the chicken shit route and base my student's grades on rote memorization of dates and events, then whatever I have to grade on is subjective. Sorry. That's the way of the world. However, I am preparing them for the cruel, hard world of peer reviews, employee reviews, middle management with an IQ of a very inbred ferret, and dealing with the public in general.

C'mon. Why should *I* have all the fun of being based on a subjective standard. Share the love, I say!

So yes. If I am having a shitty day, your paper may get marked down. Thankfully, my shitty days are usually 24-hour shots, and I will go back and reread to see if that "D" I gave was appropriate for the quality presented. Another tip. If you email me or call me or drop in for my office hours and you're immediately aggressive to me, it really makes me want to grab the nearest fire axe and bury it in your developing noggin. I understand that constructive criticism can sound so horribly mean at times, but I'm actually writing it so you can do better and get a higher grade. Not because I want to see if I can make you cry. If that was my intent, I'd make you come up and pick up your papers during office hours and then I'd go over them with you.

...I'm tangenting again.

Let's rewind and use bullet points, shall we?

Students, here are some vitally important lessons.
  • You do pay tuition, but you do not pay my salary. If you, as an individual, don't sign up for my class, my pay rate doesn't go down. Get over the little power play you think that will create.
  • There is no discernable difference between a 92% and a 99%. Both register as "A's," and when I enter grades, there is no percentage value that the university accepts. It's a letter grade. Perfectionists be warned.
  • Similarly, some professors just do not give out perfect scores, or if they do, it is a rarity. Here's the reason: the grade is based on mastery of the topic, not regurgitation. Insight is key.
  • Personal responsibility goes a LONG way. If you've fucked up, missed the deadline because you didn't write it down, decided that things were more important than school... It happens. Take responsibility for it. Now, I'm not saying that you should be Washingtonian in your admission, but don't blame it on someone else. Ever.
    • As a female that is out in the dating pool, this rule also applies to you boys out there that happen to be adults. Maturity is a good thing. Use it.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate. If you have been one of the lucky ones to be granted an extension, don't squander it. If you think you're going to blow the extension, for the love of all that is Heinleinean, talk to your professor. Don't tell me that your son died trying to swallow the family hamster, just tell me that you have a family crisis, or a death in the immediate family. I don't need details, but I do need you to keep talking to me. I am not a mindreader.
    • Conversely, do not assume that I care about the little things in your life. I am not your friend, though we may become friends after you graduate. I am your instructor, possibly your mentor, but while you are attending the school that pays my wages, we are not peers. No matter how close your extended family is, I don't care about what happened to your fourth cousin, twice-removed and how Buffy is all upset and has been calling you day and night. That's your shit. Deal.
  • Do not assume that college is like high school. Do not assume that you don't have to learn new skills to keep up with your classload. Look into helpful books, like What Smart Students Know. Also, if you have an LD like dyslexia or ADHD, inform yourself as to methods that help you retain information and better your study habits.
    • Also, for those with LDs, take advantage of your school's ADA-required assistance. It is a resource and one that those with any type of LD, even ones that you consider 'minor,' can work to their advantage.
I'm sure at some point I will go back and re-edit this into a cohesive expression of thought. But until then...

Class dismissed.