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02 September 2010 @ 08:23 am
I cannot imagine that you would want to re-post anything I say to Twitter or Facebook, but please PLEASE do not do so.

PS  Dear LJ, I think this is a stupid, stupid move.
25 May 2010 @ 01:58 pm
Sorry in advance for those of you not interested in the current teaching of undergraduate English.
Feel free to skip this entry.

Those of you who know me IRL know that I'm a pretty laid-back teacher.  I want my students to do well; I want them to feel that they 'run' the classroom (although that is, to some extent, an illusion); I want them to make the grades and progress they are happy with.  In fact, I struggle every single semester between giving the students the grades that will make them happy (and either keeping them hopeful or giving them a false sense of their writing ability) and giving them the grades that I would give their essays if I had no context and didn't know them (and  either making them upset/angry or giving them an understanding that there is room for improvement).  By and large I have solved this dilemma by reference to two competing principles.

First:  That when I assign a grade, it is the equivalent of a contract with every other professor/AI/instructor on this campus.  This contract states that *if* the student puts in the same amount of work for another class that s/he did for mine, this is the level of *written* prowess the instructor can expect.  When I think in terms of this contract, I realize that I'm not doing ANYONE any favours if I assign 'A's willy-nilly.  Such grading will give the students a false sense of what to expect in a Uni classroom, and it breaks faith with the rest of the educational community.  Normally, I'm not overly fond of rules and structure, but when I agreed to teach for this University, I became part of a larger structure that must conform to certain standards in order to function successfully.  Perhaps the two largest components of that structure (at least as far as the day-to-day experience is concerned) are classroom preparation and grading.  I have a duty (and I signed an agreement) to come into the classroom prepared to give my students useful information on how to write in academic genres.  I also have a duty to evaluate whether they meet the standards of those genres.

The second rule/principle is where my "wiggle room" with grading comes in.  It is that I embrace the Browningesque failure.  Robert Browning was a proponent of the theory that there  is no real achievement unless one strives for something beyond one's reach.  His dramatic monologue "Andrea del Sarto" is based on this theory.  It's also reflected in the modern affirmation to "reach for the moon, because even if you fail, you'll land among the stars."  I tell my students--and I truly mean it--that I would rather see them stretch their thinking, wrestle with the more difficult thesis, try to explain ideas they are not quite sure of, rather than turn in a completely uninspired though formally clean essay.  This is the sense in which I grade on effort.  Everyone works hard to write formal essays.  Academic writing is not easy (though it can provide pleasure), so I'm very wary of the "but they worked so hard" grade.  On the other hand, I do want to reward stretching one's brain.  I use this second principle when a student has shown extraordinary effort and a mental leap, but even so, I rarely raise the grade above 1/3 of a letter (a C+ to a B-, say).

I'm rabbiting on about this because one of the instructors from my Department sent out a highly inflammatory email this morning, condemning the Department as a whole and trying to gain support for a sort of resistance movement.  The text that follows is her (expurgated) email, some quotations from her blog, and my thoughts on some of the major issues cited in both.

What is a "student advocate"?Collapse )
01 May 2010 @ 08:36 pm
So, the little country bird went to the big city last week, and had a fabulous time!

I went to stay with the lovely aisling_door   and her family on Long Island.  Such good people.  Her dad immediately started treating me like one of the family, including admonitions to "Eat! Eat!", and I got to meet her younger brother and the bulldog.  Her mum was at a reunion, but I did get to meet her on Sunday and we hit it off, because the poor woman had the misfortune to ask me about Alan Rickman *snort*.  An hour and a half later we were still checking out clips on youtube and chatting merrily away.  Oops.

cut for excessively rambling squeeCollapse )

Ok, I seem to have rambled on excessively here, but I'm just so entirely full of squee that I can't help it.
Oh, and if any of you are friends on my alternate LJ, I'm going to be re-posting this there, so be forewarned....I don't think I can manage another write up  :)
Current Mood: ecstaticecstatic
17 April 2010 @ 01:28 am
1.  I spoke to one of the members of my committee today, so now I have NO excuse not to get these revisions done and get the stupid prospectus in.  This whole saga has been dragging on for far too long.  The meeting really threw me off kilter, though.  This is the member of my committee who is usually the most excited about my project and the most helpful.  Her reactions on this round of drafts have been tepid at best.  I'm hoping that it's just a function of the fact that it's her tenure-review year, she's recently had pneumonia, and the semester is getting to that crazy point where everyone is trying to cram things in at the last minute.  I don't know, but it upset me so much that I came back home, read a bunch of slash on the internet and went to bed.  I didn't get up again until 9pm, but about 11 I went out to Denny's for lunch/dinner/whatever and in addition to my friend who works there, D, three of my other friends that I hadn't seen in a while popped up.  Just talking with them and laughing and gossiping and whatever brought me out of my funk.  I'm also invited to a combined bday party tomorrow for D and one of our other friends.  Woot!  Now I have a reward to work toward tomorrow.  If I can get sufficient progress made on the revisions, I can go to the party......

2.  We've just started the hiring rounds for GROUPS.  I'm really disappointed in the crop of applications this year.  With everyone freaking the hell out about whether the department can give us anything in the fall, you'd think people would be lining up for a summer position like GROUPS that promises work for 3 summers.  *shrugs*  Ah well.  Interviews start Monday and I've got virtually everyone in their preferred time slot.  I'm looking forward to the interviews.  They are pretty casual, and it will be fun to get to know the applicants I haven't really talked to.

3.  I got the best bday package in the mail from the ever-lovely janinwonderland    It was AMAZING!!!  The woman knows me. 
I absolutely CRACKED UP at the card.  She had modified a store-bought card, and...well, just have a look.

This the front of the card:

and the inside:

and now, the modification:

Pretty damn perfect, no? 
Can I just tell you how freaking HAPPY it made me that she thought of that and took the time to doctor the card?  I love it!

This is almost the rest of the package.  The Longing is a CD that janinwonderland  's band recorded.  There was another CD in the package too, but it's in my car's CD player.

Happy Birdie
Current Mood: ecstaticecstatic
11 April 2010 @ 11:15 am

I (mostly) completed my first read-a-thon ever!  I made 21 of the 24 hours...I finally fell asleep at 5 am.  I attribute my success in being awake that long partly to my housemate who handled the caffeine issue and some of the humor.  Witness my midnight cappuccino:

Pretty awesomely hilarious, no? 
In 21 hours, I finished between 80 and 100 pages of Brideshead Revisited (finishing up the book), 35 or so pages of Orchids on Your Budget (again, finishing up the book), the whole of The Moneypenny Diaries:  Secret Servant, the whole of This Rough Magic, and the first 130 pages or so of The Moneypenny Diaries:  The Final Fling

And now I've worked myself into a rather awkward position:  I *have* to finish Final Fling before I can face my work, but I *really* need to face my work, and I'm expecting a (rather LOOOOONG) phone call tonight at 10.  *dramatic sigh*  Oh, isn't my life hard?  ROFL
Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
10 April 2010 @ 09:07 pm
 So, I'm slightly past midpoint--the clock is chiming on the beginning of my 13th hour.
Here is my midpoint survey:

1. What are you reading right now?  This Rough Magic by Mary Stewart (pg 82)

2. How many books have you read so far?  finished Brideshead Revisited (about 80 pgs); finished Orchids on Your Budget (about 35 pages);  read Moneypenny Diaries:  Secret Servant (300-ish pages)

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?  Moneypenny Diaries:  The Final Fling by Kate Westbrook

4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day?  bought snackies and told my housemate to respect the reading.  Also, buried my cell phone.

5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?  Yup, housemate still wants to chat a bit.  It's not too bad.  Landlord has been over.  Lost a little time when housemate and I decided to pack a mini-picnic and head to the park.
6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?  Exactly how much I'm enjoying it.

7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? It's already pretty awesome!

8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year?  Next year I'll plan things out a bit better, because I only found out about this last week.  And I confess I'm feeling pretty guilty about all the work I need to be doing right now.

9. Are you getting tired yet?  maybe a little.  Time to brew a fresh pot of tea!

10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered? Don't really have any tips, but I would like to express my sincere thanks for my cheerleaders.  You've really been making me smile

09 April 2010 @ 08:13 am

Yup, I'm definitely a glutton for punishment!  I have so much to do this weekend, but it's the 24-hour read-a-thon tomorrow!  How could I resist?  So, yeah, I'm doing it.  That means I've got to actually get a TON of work done today, and get some serious sleep this evening/tonight.  You can find info about the read-a-thon here

Today's goals:  print and read comments on the prospectus (I've done this for 2 of 3 commenters)
make a plan to institute changes in prospectus (again, already done for 2 of 3)
make the quick changes
read and annotate at least 5 articles for the GROUPS list
write my "morning pages"
update my CV for portfolio due 4/15
write a cover letter for said portfolio
gather books and snacks for tomorrow
tidy up my room and office so that I'll have plenty of lovely reading space

Books for tomorrow:  (these are just the ones on-hand; I know I won't finish them all)
Waugh - Brideshead Revisited (finish)
Hillis - Orchids on Your Budget (finish)
Hillis - Corned Beef and Caviar
Spark - The Finishing School
Stewart - This Rough Magic
Seton - Dragonwyck
Westbrook - Moneypenny Diaries:  Secret Servant
Westbrook - Moneypenny Diaries:  Final Fling

Snackage:  carrots and dip
cheese and crackers
LOTS of hot tea
whatever fruit is on sale
probably mac and cheese for lunch or dinner

7 pm...just got back from picnic in the park with housemate.  She drove (and I read).  We had yummy fruit and brie and crackers and eggs and pickles.  Om nom nom.  Finished Moneypenny Diaries:  Secret Servant and Orchids on Your Budget and am on to This Rough Magic

10.45 Sunday:  Well, I think that was a success.  For my first ever read-a-thon, I managed 2 complete books and about 350 pages of finishing up or starting.  I went for 21 hours and had a great time!
Current Mood: excitedexcited
07 April 2010 @ 07:18 pm

I've just joined Book Chick City's "Typically British Reading Challenge".

You're welcome to join too!

For most of my f-list, this should be easy-peasy!

Here are the rules as established by Book Chick City


Timeline: 1st Jan 2010~ 31st Dec 2010. Only books started on January 1st count towards this challenge.


1. Anyone can join. You don't need a blog to participate. 

2. There are four levels:

 • "Put The Kettle On" – Read 2 Typically British novels.
 • "Gordon Bennett" – Read 4 Typically British novels.
 • "Bob's Your Uncle" – Read 6 Typically British novels.
 • "Cream Crackered" – Read 8 Typically British novels.

3. Any book format counts. Must be fiction not non-fiction.

4. You don't have to select your books ahead of time, you can just add them as you go. Also if you do list them upfront then you can change them, nothing is set in stone! 

5. The books you choose can crossover into other challenges.

6. If you decide to join this challenge be sure to create a post telling others, please make sure you add a link back to this post so others can join in.

7. There will be a place for you to link your reviews, but this is optional.

8. Obviously only British authors count!

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise--I'm going for "Cream Crackered"
My provisional list:

1.  Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh  (4/10/10)
2.  This Rough Magic by Mary Stewart  (4/10/10)
3.  The Finishing School by Muriel Spark
4.  The Third Man by Graham Greene
5.  Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
6.  Angel Pavement by J.B. Priestly
Current Mood: determineddetermined
28 February 2010 @ 09:44 pm
I love my boss.
I would trust her with my life.
I'm not sure how I ever got so lucky, but I thank the heavens.

Um, and now for something completely different...on the rule that three things make a post

2.  Query:  Do I have any Wiccan friends out there?  Do you know any spells for unblocking and motivation?

3.  Made a lovely crawfish etouffee last week.  I've been meaning to post about it, but haven't gotten my act together.  I used my step-mom's basic recipe, but next time I make it, I think I'll cut WAY back on the bell pepper, simply because they don't agree with me.  Also, next time I'll probably use shrimp because they are a lot easier to get here than crawfish.

I meant to follow my usual M.O. of taking pictures of the process, but apparently, I was a bit scattered :D  (surprise, surprise).  So this is the only piccie I ended up with

If anyone is interested, the recipe is under the cut.

my stepmom"s etouffeeCollapse )

Yummy, yummy
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Current Mood: anxiousanxious
03 February 2010 @ 08:53 pm
Sorry for spamming y'all with memes.
I didn't want to start a flickr account just in order to do this.
piccies of my shelvesCollapse )
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Current Mood: amusedamused