31 May 2007

Pre-Summer To Do Update

  • Update dates for quizzes
  • Update dates for assignments
  • Update dates for exams
  • Place ID section in MC exam
  • Remove essay sections/documents
  • Rework "Format" dox
  • Double check Syllabus, upload .pdf version
  • Create page 'o links - Adobe Acrobat Reader and Powerpoint Viewer
  • Update supplemental dox for assignments
  • Create supplemental website - doesn't matter if it's rough, just get it up.
  • Note-out mini lectures
The rest of these can be done over the course of the next week. Thank the PTBs.

Stainless Steel Ungulate?

Because of my own marvelous ability to injure myself, I had to switch out my nose screw for a hoop today. Only problem was, the bloody thing wouldn't play nice and go in smoothly, so I went to the piercing and tattoo shop near my house.

The owner gave me a hard time because I begged him to let me in before hours so I could pick up this hoop. Told me that if I needed help with the capture bead, to come back and he'd put it in after he opened. Needless to say that the owner gave me a bit of a hard time, mocking me. I explained to him that I did know how to insert a simple hoop, but it apparently wasn't understanding its role in the entire situation.

So I wander in there, asking for help again. Different guy starts going to work on placing the piercing only to find that there's something strange going on with the back (inside the nose) side of the piercing. The back of the piercing is either closed up, smaller than the entry, or has blown. So he pulls a taper out of the autoclave wrap and tells me "it's not a needle, it's a taper."

That's not what my brain thought it was. My brain went to tapir. Different thing entirely. In fact, it's one of these:

It took me a few seconds to explain to my brain that it would be impossible for a tapir to perform the same use as a taper.

Yeah, it was that kind of special day.

30 May 2007

Pre-Summer To Do List

  • Update dates for quizzes
  • Update dates for assignments
  • Update dates for exams
  • Place ID section in MC exam
  • Remove essay sections/documents
  • Rework "Format" dox
  • Double check Syllabus, upload .pdf version
  • Create page 'o links - Adobe Acrobat Reader and Powerpoint Viewer
  • Update supplemental dox for assignments
  • Create supplemental website - doesn't matter if it's rough, just get it up.
  • Note-out mini lectures

There's only 8?

The eight types of graduate student


Why are we postgrads here? Well, for lots of reasons, says Patrick Tomlin

Tuesday May 15, 2007
The Guardian

When I started this column, I promised myself I wouldn't let it become a monthly whinge about how poor I am. Partly because that would be as boring as if I stood in your garden and recited excerpts from my thesis, and partly because, as graduate students go, I'm not too badly off.

But I have had to make financial sacrifices to pursue my studies. Given that everyone else has presumably had to do so too, I initially figured that we must all be there because of a pure thirst for knowledge. I've since realised, however, that the impulses that draw someone to academic study beyond graduation are a lot more varied than that.

While I've only been at it a short while, I am sufficiently aware of the unwritten columnists' code to know one is expected to make wild generalisations, shun nuance, and present categories in a list format. So, without further ado, I present the eight types of graduate student:

1. The Wannabe Undergraduate

They had such fun as undergraduates that they cannot bear it to end. They prop up the bar, talking to undergrads about their thesis, rather than actually writing it. They judge success by notches on the bedpost and hangovers accrued instead of marks, grades and the intellectual respect of their peers.

2. The Student Who Tried Employment

Some postgraduates have been out into the real world and had a real job, with a desk and a computer and a pay cheque and a lunch break and a pension and appraisals and meetings and everything. And, for whatever reason, they have found it wanting.

3. The Couldn't-Survive-Anywhere-but-at-University

The group most likely to be cultivating eccentricities - keeping a mouse in their pocket or wearing socks with Marxist slogans sewn into them - while still too young to shave.

4. The CV-Filler

Their primary focus is not what they study, but what it will look like on their CV. They believe this qualification will give them "that extra edge". Most likely to end up as accountants or lawyers, never employing the knowledge gained.

5. The Prestigious Scholarship Recipient

Rather than worrying about what the subject they study will look like on their CV, their primary focus is who is paying for it. In a reversal of the usual relationship between funding and studying, in which the former is a means to the latter, the funding is regarded as an end in itself and the studying something that has to be endured to be able to call themselves a [insert name of dead white man] scholar for the rest of their lives.

6. The One Who Just Needs Answers

They really are motivated purely by the desire to find answers about their specific area of interest.

7. The Eternal Student

They are not bothered whether their academic career shows linear progress, they're just collecting qualifications and trying to get every letter of the alphabet after their name.

8. The Polymath

These geniuses could have studied anything, anywhere. They will probably go on to great things across several disciplines, and already understand your thesis better than you do. An unfortunate subset are also charming, witty and good-looking, and therefore hated by everyone.

And which am I? I'd like to think No 6, but I suspect there's more than a touch of No 2 about me, too.

· Patrick Tomlin is researching a doctorate in political theory at Oxford University. His column appears monthly

25 May 2007

Update from State

I've gotten the letter saying "We're looking into your application and we'll let you know what's what" from state. I'm waiting for it to filter past the department head's desk.

At least it's some notification of "we got it."

17 May 2007

Stop telling me lies, students!

We all know the old children's chant...
Ring around the rosies
Pocketful of posies
Ashes, ashes
They all fall down
"The deadly outbreak of bubonic plague, also known as the "black death," that struck Western Europe in 1347 wiped out more than a third of the population. An event such as that was destined to be immortalized in the cultural consciousness, and many of the lines in the nursery rhyme do seem to correlate to the situation (people did think flowers could ward off disease). However, there is little evidence to support this theory. The rhyme did not appear in print until 1881, more than 500 years after the fact, rendering it highly unlikely to have originated during the time of the plague. There are also several recorded variants of the rhyme, most of which do not include the same apparent references to the disease."1

It is a possibility that the chant came about as a remembrance of the bubonic plague, but as a part of the actual history of the black death, the answer is no.

I'm officially tired of students including this information in their papers on the bubonic plague.

From Discovery Channel, Busting Myths quiz on Flowers.

15 May 2007

Done. Done. DONE!

Another semester in the books. I just have to turn in my grade sheets and I'm free!

Well, sort of. I have a lot of things that need to be done during the interim session, I may be teaching an English course this summer if they need another instructor, I have to create my C.V. since I'm no longer in resume-land as far as careers go, and I have to start doing some hefty work on the website.

And then I start teaching summer session sometime in June. I need to break out ye olde calendar and figure out the dates for that and my self-imposed deadlines for the summer. I may be needing to put together a thing in MS Project.

But, my first order of business for tomorrow is to get a manicure done (and possibly a pedicure) and then turn in my grade sheets. Then I'll start making frantic notes and drawing pretty pictures on graph paper to work out the web design. Oh, and clean, because the insurance people are coming in to look over the roof and ceiling on Thursday.

I think I've figured out a system, though. Start from the macro, work towards the micro. Start my lists with what I need to do, then break it down into manageable chunks. I think my brain can cope with that.

14 May 2007

It's a philosophy...

A student* asked me a few weeks ago: "Miss, you're one of those people who's really nice, up until the point where you're just... Well, not... Aren't you?"

I hemmed and hawed for a bit before I looked at her and said, "Well, my basic philosophy on life is this: so long as we all play by the nice rules of polite society, everything is fine. The moment that someone breaks those rules in regards to me, I don't feel like I have to play by them either. I think that's fair."

She just looked at me and said, "I'm not sure if I now really like you, or if I should be scared."

...And yes, I do believe in karma.

*Not my student, just a student on campus.

13 May 2007

Another semester winds down...

A few students surprised me. Their abilities increased over the course of the semester, and a number of them became better at communicating their information. And it's given me some ideas of how to approach my future studies.

I also have a link for you... 7th grader's perceptions of scientists before and after a trip to Fermilabs. Allow me to say that I would have killed for a field trip to a place like Fermilabs when I was in school.

06 May 2007

On DVD August 14.
The appropriateness of the date amuses me.
Need I say more?

So many little posts...

Well, my online classes decided to implode last week. I shouldn't say my online courses, since it impacted everyone at the university that teaches an online or hybrid course, but some of them were my courses... And I've been having to deal with the explosion of "omg, wtf, bbq?!" from the students after the thing went boom...

So, to recover from the mental exhaustion of the last few days, I've been knitting. It will turn into a cute summer top when it's done

A week left until the end of the semester, then I get to work on a pilot program for Fall over the summer as well as reworking my courses for the fall semester textbook change. Whee!

03 May 2007

A solution to one of my biggest complaints

Audacity allows for the recording of audio (free, so I love it) and will convert to OGG, MP3, or WAV.

(Yeah, Adjunct Slave... So what?)

So? SO? So, this means that I can finally create lectures for the online courses I teach.

This is beyond fabulous!

Now to find a sourceforge program that will allow me to pull clips off DVDs and other video files.