Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Found online

Wil Wheaton has a blog.

The Free Range Librarian reminds me why I am glad to be out of the librarian business.

I am tempted to rate my incoming freshmen using the MAP questions. That way I could judge how (or if) they improve from the beginning of the semester to the end.

Finally, I am registered for my class! I am so excited. Now I just have to pay for it...

Monday, May 29, 2006

Websites I read...

Today, through a number of links, I stumbled across A Brief Genealogy of Cultural Resonance, Science Ficiton, and Technology. Kelly Saxman has put together a short website exploring the influence of Orwell's 1984 on GUI interface design, depersonalization, and embodiement of intelligence. It has the film that Ridley Scott directed introcuding the launch of the Macintosh.

I also found PhD Comics, which are really funny. I think I need some ProcrastinX!

Also, remember back in the 80s when Newsweek ran the story that said: "40-year-old single woman was 'more likely to be killed by a terrorist' than to ever marry"? Well, they recanted.

Linked to the above article was this blog: Academics_anon. Their description says: "This is a community that caters to people involved in (or recovering from) higher education. It probably has an attitude problem." They discuss some of the things that go on in my life, like faculty meetings.

Today, we have spent a lot of time talking about what, acutally, I will be able to do with my PhD. Their website says that graduates will be prepared for: "leadership roles in technical and professional communication, composition instruction and administration, and software development."

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Weekend update

We "showed" the house for the first time on Friday. It went well, but they aren't likely to buy. On the bright side, we proved we could get the house in shape enough to let people see. On the down side, we've been playing "button, button, who's got the button" to find the stuff we shoved "somewhere." One box, bag, and crevice at a time, we have to go through our stuff and decide what we really want to keep.

Yesterday, I went to the Niswonger family reunion at my aunt Rebecca's. Well, technically, this year it was at Shauna's. All my aunts and uncles were there except Lula. Most of the cousins who are my age (or nearly so) were there.Even Craig came. This may be the first reunion he and I have both been to since I moved back from Missouri. Anyway, I enjoy these when people my age show up. Nothing is worse than a family reunion where everyone in attendance is either 20 years older than I am or 20 years younger. Really, I only want to hear about my cousins's births so many times. (To be fair, that is not at all.)

Today, I cooked and painted. I made roast, mashed potatoes, gravy, mixed vegetables and salad. Then, I painted trim in the girls' rooms and touched up the paint in the hallway. More things to check off on my "to do" list.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Working on the house

Today Todd took off work so we could hit the house hard. He has some people lined up to look at it tomorrow. While I am thrilled that someone might be interested in buying our house, I am so exausted. We have finally put the stuff on the walls that we bought to go on the walls two years ago and we painted some odds and ends that we have been putting off. I cleaned the refrigerator, and under the refrigerator, and behind the refrigerator. And then I fixed the refrigerator. It had frosted up on the INSIDE and had to defrost thoroughly. So I let it defrost until it quit dripping water. Then plugged it back in and watched the thermometer and hoped it got cold. It did.

While I realize that the ins and outs of my refrigerator drama are not utterly transfixing, I am so proud of the fact that I figured out what could be wrong with my fridge and I fixed it. Okay, so it did not really require tools or anything, but I still did it.

I need to go and fold laundry. I am too tired to do anything else...

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Around the Internet

I have explored the Honors College Blog Ring (which I have not joined) and found Traci's blog. She was in my creative non-fiction class last spring (05) and then disappeared in December. I had wondered what happened to her. I read her "Goodbye" in the Echo and asked Tim, but he was vague.

Anyway, I also found this: A Teaching Manifesto (A personal view on undergraduate university education) and I am not sure how I feel about it. I understand about treating students as adults and allowing them to fail if they choose to do so, but it is really hard, especially for freshmen. Coming out of high school, most of them are not prepared to manage their time well enough to succeed.

The first year I taught here, I made assignments, explained them, answered questions, and then collected them. Amazingly, a lot of students failed because they did not get their work in. And many more strung out their work for days and weeks after the due date. In fact, I got a paper from one of those classes LAST WEEK (2.5 years late). So I have done more hand-holding and management. And I take attendance and drop students for non-attendance.

I began dropping for attendance this year because last year I had a student who appeared to be having personal problems, so I let her attendance slide. Then she turned around and said on the anonymous evaluations how my Comp II class was "just like high school" and not all that useful. (I don't really know who it was, but she and the evaluator had similar writing voices.) Well, how would she know? She never came. I could have taught those students to write like Michael Chabon and she wouldn't have known. (I still get mad).

Back to the subject at hand, I am not sure how I feel about putting all relevant info online and testing and not requiring attendance. If I lectured, which I don't, I might see more value in this philosophy. None of us, though, like to feel that our only value is that of a scantron machine. We like to believe that we are making contributions to our students. Otherwise, why would we show up every day? It certainly is not the money.

Tomorrow's Professor Blog is a discussion of technology in education. I'll be looking more at this one...

PetSmart Nightmare

Yesterday I got the air conditioner fixed in my car (hooray!) and the girls and I spent the day with Craig. That was really nice. Todd came into town, met me, and then we got in the van and picked up Walker.

We drove out on Hwy 64 and looked at a couple of houses.

That is where nice ended. We had to bury our cat, Daisycutter, yesterday morning. He liked to fight too much... Anyway we need a cat to keep down mice, since we live out in the country. So, unsure where to go, we went to PetSmart, a place we thought we could trust. We looked at the cats in the area they have for cat adoptions, and one orange cat watched us and seemed really interested in us. So we asked to play with it. So we went into the cubicle with the cat and the attendant and played with the cat. It was affectionate-- walking from one of us to the next to be petted, purring, and generally acting as though it would ever choose to be with anyone else. Little did we know.

We put the cat in the cardboard carrier, and drove to the truck. Todd and Meleah took the cat home. They got the cat out of the carrier and let him sit in the front of the truck. The cat lay in Todd's lap for a while, then in Meleah's. Then he lay down between them. Again, pleasant, affectionate, happy kitty behavior.

Then they got home. Walker and Olivia and I had gone to Wal-Mart to pick up some supper, so we weren't there yet. Todd got the cat out of the truck. He walked to the porch. The cat looked around, then, without warning, sank his teeth into Todd's wrist! Then he clawed until he got loose. He ran around the porch to the back deck. There Meleah tried to catch him, but he clawed her to rush headlong off the edge of the deck. Never one to give up, Meleah caught him, but then he clawed her again and fell the remaining distance.

This was a horrible, nightmarish experience. But, wait, it gets worse. Todd called PetSmart and told them what happened. The person who answered the phone was horrified and sympathetic, but said that we would need to see Karl Justice in the morning to process the refund. Told us to knock on the door if we got there before they opened this morning.

I got there about 9:15 and asked to speak to the manager. The clerk said, "So are you the one with the crazy cat?" and I said, "Yeah, how did you know?" And she pointed to the bandage on Meleah's arm. So we find Karl Justice. He asked me to describe what happened and I did. Then he started lecturing me on taking care of animals. He said things like, "We always encourage people not to take rescued animals out of the container" (which they hadn't) and "Rescued animals really need to be handled carefully" (as though we weren't). He asked if we had the cat. I told him that we could not catch the cat. That we had not even seen the cat since he had escaped. Then he told me that he would have to call the humane society since they would have to authorize a refund. Then he walked into another office and shut the door. He emerged, telling me that he had to talk to someone else before he could authorize a refund. So I offered him my cell phone number, which he took down.

Then he continued to talk to me as though I were incompetent. The implication was that the cat had run away because we had not treated it correctly. I finally told him that this cat acted nice and affectionate at the store and in the truck, then acted like a barn cat trapped in a sack when we got it home.

I will never take another rescued animal again, and I don't know that I will do any more business with PetSmart.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Today I am trying to register for my class this fall. New university. New registration system. I evidently ticked the wrong box on my application, so the system thinks I live in state. Crazy computer.

I am dithering about how much prep work to do for the summer class I am scheduled to teach. Only two people have signed up for it so far, so I am reluctant to do a lot of prep work when I don't know if the class will make. And I can't just apply whatever I do to next fall because I using a different book.

I have now been trying to register for over three hours. I think it is time to give it up as a lost cause for today. That was actually my only goal for today, and I failed to complete it.

I talked to the powers-that-be upstairs and found that unless enrollment picks up significantly, my class will not make. I was counting on that because Todd's school messed with his contract so he won't actually get an August check. This sudden lack of income promises to make summer budgeting more difficult than I had supposed.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Identifying Animators and Their Scenes

As a Bugs Bunny fan from way back, I think this a really cool website. Identifying Animators and Their Scenes

In the beginning...

In the beginning was the word...

Tonight I am watching Real Genius (1985) with my children. I love this movie. I always wanted to meet a really cool smart person like Val Kilmer plays. In a lot of ways, it reminds me of being in the Honors College at UCA with Jenn, Craig, Willie, Carl & company. I tell my students in my Honors classes that it really does not get any better; the real world is a let-down. (And it is not as though I don't have a good life because I do.)

But back to Real Genius, this movie shows smart people as something other than objects of derision. Unlike the John Hughes films, others perception of them never changes. The characters are who they are and we see them as people, as individuals, not as sterotypes.

Of course the underlying theme that youth are smarter than the corrupt authority is a little heavy-handed, but does provide a plot. And the higher authority is in place to protect us from the evil ones. The deus ex machina overrides the evil professor in the end...