A few things:
1. They didn't send us an e-mail of when and where to show up this year. I thought I was running late when I saw the full parking lots, but I turned out to be one of the first faculty there.
2. The speech was not memorable. A couple moments were, though:
a. Non-traditional (i.e., fortyish) woman student graduating. As she walked across the stage, from out of the stands, a teenaged- or pre-teen- girl voice: "WHOOOO! GO MOM!" Made me smile.
b. Young man walks across the stage, his (large) family (seriously: like fifteen or 20 people, all dressed in identical t-shirts) jumps up and starts cheering and hollering. As he walks back to his seat (with his back to his family but facing the faculty), he facepalms and shakes his head in an "I'm so embarrassed" expression.
c. A young woman in a wheelchair, wearing leg braces, even though they had made the stage fully accessible, got a couple of her friends to lift her up and stand beside her as support so she could actually WALK across the stage (one of the marshals rolled her chair around the back of the stage so she could get back in after she crossed). The "I did it" look on her face was priceless. (And a lot of us were holding our breath, hoping she would make it).
d. A Nepalese student I had in several classes (I think from some things he has said that he is Buddhist) did the traditional "namaste" gesture of respect, very briefly, before the president handed him his diploma. He also did it again walking past some of us who had had him in class.
As much as I bitch on here about some of my students, there are a lot of good and heartwarming things that happen on campus.
Here's hoping summer semester (which starts in 3 weeks) is a good one. (I just found out that I will, in fact, have a TA, and it's likely someone I taught with before who is a good, responsible person)
Sunday, May 12, 2013
A few things:
Thursday, May 09, 2013
But here's my FO for the week:
People who always have the need to one-up. To show how they are "better" than you. Or more important. Or that they are "purer" in terms of diet or resource use or not buying things made in sweatshops or God knows what.
Look, I try. I try to be a good person. But dammit, I'm not perfect. I don't need your supposed superiority ground in my face like Jimmy Cagney ground that grapefruit in Mae Clarke's face. Because it hurts and it's not useful to our working relationship and it only makes me think that you are a giant ass for pointing out all the ways you think you are superior. It does NOT make me want to emulate you and go vegan/start writing books instead of doing research/change up what has worked for me in teaching to match what you do/whatever.
Just flip off. I'm tired, I've worked hard this semester, and I just can't deal with your 'tude right now.
Monday, May 06, 2013
I don't carry pencils to final exams any more. I don't carry any writing utensils, for that matter.
Partly because I got sick of losing them - you loan someone a pencil, and unless you are there breathing down their back as they finish up, they often walk off with it. And good pencils (the only kind I will use, and it's increasingly hard to find good pencils, now that Ticonderogas are made in China out of some kind of super-breaky graphite now) aren't cheap.
But there's another issue here: Is it really too much to ask an 18 to 22 year old (or sometimes older) to bring a freakin' pencil with them to the exam? I regularly have people show up to exams with no pens or pencils and frankly, I don't want to give them the test when that happens. Because, how prepared for an exam are you gonna be if you didn't think to bring a pencil? (These are people who do not ordinarily take notes in class - so they don't show up with notebooks and pencils).
One of the classes I teach gives exams as a Scan-Tron test. This is a Gen Ed class with a common exam, so it has to be machine gradeable. Now, I'm not a huge fan of all-multiple-choice, but it does make the grading easier on me. I tell the students: bring a #2 pencil. I put it on the review sheet: Bring a #2 pencil. I put it up on the class webpage: Bring a #2 pencil.
And I still get people who whip out an ink pen and are set to do the Scan-Tron in ink pen. (Oh hell no. I am NOT hand grading scan trons just because someone didn't have the right writing instrument).
But I mean, really: I grew up reading fairy tales where if you broke one little magical rule, you were in big trouble. Or if you happened to have the right thing at the right time, showing your preparedness, you were rewarded. I also remembered being told the story of how J.C. Penney (the man, the one who founded the store) once hired a person partly on the basis that he bothered to taste his food (during a restaurant meal) before salting it, rather than automatically salting it, and Penney assumed that meant he was a prudent man. And later, I remember the story of - was it AC/DC? - who had the clause in their contract that there were to be no brown M and Ms in the bowls of M and Ms in the dressing room, and the idea was that they could tell at a glance if the other things - safety related things - they asked for had been followed by checking the M and Ms.
So I pretty well learned young that Following the Directions Is a Good Thing. And what's more, when I was a kid, there were consequences: If you showed up without a pencil, there was a good chance you would not be allowed to take the test, and the teacher would brook no whining about it.
But now, sometimes, I feel like people are not allowed to suffer consequences for things - and I wonder if that just leads to an increasing number of bad decisions.
Thursday, May 02, 2013
Numerous colleges and universities - including, if I read the agenda for our faculty meeting this week right, mine - are going to a program of limiting adjunct hours STRICTLY (including grading time and preparation time) so they can duck the provisions of the Affordable Care Act.
This just....I have no words for this. How many colleges agitated for this Act, even though lots of people said there would be bad unintended consequences? Well, we're beginning to see the unintended consequences.
Thank God I got a full-time job when I did; I suspect full-time jobs are going the way of the dinosaur and instead people are going to be working two or three less-than-29-hours-a-week jobs in order to make ends meet.
Also, this probably means our workload will be going up, as we can no longer rely on adjuncts for grading of the hundreds of GenBio lab reports. Oh well. I will give those lab reports all the attention in grading that the students give them in preparing them.
I hope the American public remembers this the next time we get offered a pig in a poke.
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
What I really need is something to take care of, something that doesn't talk back or make unreasonable demands. One of the problems I have with other people is that they all too often make what I think are unreasonable demands. (I have spoken before about "ask" vs. "guess" culture - I have a mindset where I feel like if someone asks me to do something, they are actually EXPECTING me to do it, and saying "no" isn't really an option, which is maybe why I get to feeling so put-upon)
Anyway. I went home yesterday afternoon. Put my car away. Realized it had been warm and dry so I went out to the garden. I haven't hooked the hose up yet because we've gotten a few late freezes and it's easier just not to take it out, than it is to have to drain it again and put it away again. So I've been using a watering can on my very small garden. (I have beans, tomatoes, and I planted a few flowers. I'm considering planting something else - either trying a fast crop of lettuce (though it might be too late for that already) or some kind of squash). I filled the can and watered everything, checked over the plants for bugs, noticed that the tomatoes are already flowering (no sign of fruit set yet). And it made me feel better. I like having things to take care of that don't make huge demands on me - all the plants require is water, and occasionally some fertilizer, and removal of the weeds that come up. They don't talk back, they don't need things suddenly at the last minute.
I've said before my gardening-fu is not great enough that I could feed myself off of it (even if it was my only occupation; I know I don't keep up with the garden as well as I might but life gets in the way), but I like pretending that I could. I like the idea of telling the rest of the world to take a flying leap and just taking care of myself, without having to depend on anyone else. I don't know why that is; I don't know if it's because when you depend on someone they can turn and make unreasonable demands of you (or withdraw their help at any time). Or if it's just a stubborn, I-want-to-do-it-myself streak. But I've always kind of been this way - I loved the "Little House" books when I was a kid, with all their descriptions of how to smoke meat and dry fruit. And "My Side of the Mountain," which was about a boy who literally ran away from home and lived off the land. And while I realize I couldn't really do that (I'd probably go running back to civilization as soon as the t.p. ran out, or after realizing there was no way I could make my own chocolate or tea from plants I grew), still, the idea of living off the grid as much as possible has appeal. (I couldn't do it here, at least not utility-wise: I NEED air conditioning in the summer as AFAIK, there is no off-the-grid electrical generation that makes enough power to run that).
I think a big part of it is that I would like to tell the rest of the world, "Go soak your head" (or something stronger) and just go hang out in my garden instead.
Monday, April 29, 2013
I had someone "threaten" to lose their crap in my office.
(Yes, I understand that some people really genuinely have emotional issues, but from working with this person before, I get the feeling that they have been patted on the head and told "you're having a panic attack" or "You're so upset right now you can't function" or something every time they got upset over something, so now they believe it, and they use it as a strategy to get what they want. Because people don't like to see people get upset.)
And yes, maybe they do genuinely have problems and I'm being an awful person for my interpretation, but you know, I'm tired. I'm tired of always having to suck it up and be the big tough grownup who puts up with everything. This is someone who, literally every time I have dealt with them, has some HUGE PROBLEM that usually can only be fixed by me bending my rules or putting myself out.
I'm just fed up with it. I've had too many people over the years who have been enabled to use "difficult" or unpleasant behavior with others as a way of getting what they want. It's manipulative and unpleasant and I don't like it. I admit, the threatened "losing their stuff" is not as unpleasant and ugly as some student behavior that I've had to put up with over the years, but still: I told the person in question that the problem they were presenting was fixable, I told them how it could be fixed, I told them it was okay, that they could go and fix it, that they were capable of fixing it....I am at the limit of my sympathy.
(Part of this is when I'm distressed, I have precious few people I feel I can turn to for some shoring-up. I may NEED it but I seldom GET it.)
Why am I doing this? Why did I go into this career? I hate dealing with people. I especially hate dealing with people who have been taught dysfunctional ways of dealing with other people or with the challenges of life. How are you going to make it in the world if every small thing makes you fall apart? I hope you have a strong spouse to shore you up. And yeah,. okay. I'm an awful person for saying that. But in some ways, I AM an awful person. I have certain things I am very intolerant of and people wanting to shove their personal problems on to me is one of them. Part of this is sheer jealousy: I have no one, NO ONE I can shove my problems on to. I have to deal with them all myself. Even logistic crap like getting the gutters fixed, I have to keep harassing the repair guy until he's arsed to show up. I don't have anyone to be my "muscle," I can't walk into the repair guy's office and start crying at him how it's UNFAIR he keeps me waiting. I just have to deal with it. And I'm damn tired of dealing with it. If my car gets a flat, I have to change it myself. If I run out of food at home, even if it's a Friday afternoon on the first of the month, I have to venture out to the gee-dee'd Wal Mart to get food - or go hungry.
I'm NOT a nice person, I am only good at pretending to be one. I know that because I cannot feel loving and gracious towards people who make my life more difficult because they don't have their stuff together. I know I'm supposed to go "Oh, that's OK" but even as I SAY it I am seething inside because, once again, I will have to spend more time doing stuff I'd rather not do.
TL:DR: I'm tired and fed up and have no one to help me but I have seemingly hundreds of people nibbling at my elbow wanting me to help them. And I know the Christian thing IS to help them, but dammit, I don't WANT to.
This is our last week of classes. I collect a major paper in one class today, and lab books in another class today. So far I have had no freaked-out phone calls or e-mails about the paper (but that's my mostly-diligent class), so I'm hopeful there.
But the lab books.....a guy just stopped by wanting copies of all the lab exercises because he "didn't keep" his. I hope he kept a record of the results but I know some of the students in that class just write the results on their lab exercises.
Then he asked me: "So.....when are these due again?"
THEY ARE DUE TODAY.
WHAT HAVE I BEEN TELLING THE CLASS FOR THE PAST THREE WEEKS. THEY ARE DUE TODAY.
I swear, I am leaving campus at 3 pm to start grading my humongous papers, if I don't have all the lab books by then, too bad, so sad.
Thursday, April 25, 2013
There's a story making the rounds about two dresses sold online by Target.
The standard-sized one, in a gray color, was described as "charcoal."
The plus-sized one, identical in every way but size, was described as "manatee gray."
People were outraged. Target was attacked online, they took the description down with a mealy-mouthed, "Must have been a mistake; we have some seasonal items sold that are that color"
You know what? I can't be angry about this. Yes, I'm a bigger woman. Maybe not quite plus size these days (I am not sure how Target's sizing on this particular dress runs). But I'm far from being size 6.
And you know? I don't freakin' care if some intern somewhere wants to get his laughs off by referring to the colors of the clothes I would buy using terms to refer to large mammals. It's dumb, and it's juvenile, and it doesn't warrant me being bugged by. The fact that someone, somewhere, may have thought it was funny to refer to a plus-size dress as being the same color as a manatee tells me more about them than it tells me about the women who would wear that dress.
And at any rate: from everything I've read, manatees are pretty nice animals. They're slow moving and peaceable, they take good care of their offspring. They don't attack other animals.
Elephants, also: elephants are smart. They are excellent parents, and even the extended family gets involved. Elephants also appear to mourn their dead - suggesting they might have a higher level of emotional consciousness than the sort of people who think it's funny to compare a fat woman to an elephant.
So, I would just look at someone referring to me as a "manatee" or an "elephant" with a certain amount of pity, and think, "Really? That's the best you've got?"
What bugs me far more are the people who go all concern troll-y about heavy people. Here's a hint: We know we're overweight. You can't go to the doctor even to get a vaccination without them weighing you. And some doctors will deliver a lecture every time. (And it may become mandated that they do, under the new health-care laws: right before the talk about "Yeah, it's really okay for us to arrange to end your life for you if you get too old or too sick").
If weight loss were easy (and physiologically possible, in some cases - like that of people on long-term prednisone therapy), we'd lose weight. Just to shut your sorry asses up.
But it's not that simple.
But I'm not stupid. My carrying around an extra 20-50 pounds (depending on what standards you go by) does not short-circuit my brain. I don't need someone to tell me what I should and should not eat. I do not need someone to pretend to "care" about me when they really just want to control me.
I would allow my family to "concern troll" me, but they don't. They knew I try hard to eat a healthful diet and they know I exercise. And they also know that I come from a long line of heavyset people.
So if my family doesn't, strangers should not.
But anyway: I can't care about the dress I might buy bring "charcoal" or "manatee gray." Actually, "manatee gray" makes me think of the Florida Everglades, and it makes me think of the vacations I've taken there, and that makes me happy. It makes me think of going out for walks on the boardwalk and seeing roseate spoonbills and eating Key lime pie....it doesn't make me think, "Oh, someone is trying to demean me because of my weight." So yeah, whatever snarky little intern thought that might be a funny thing to do - meh, doesn't get my goat.