Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Makes me sad

I commented yesterday how Santorum had lost me (not that he ever HAD me - he's a little too far on the nanny-state-of-the-right end of the spectrum for me). And then I got to thinking: Has there EVER been a presidential candidate (at least, that made it down toward the end) that I was super enthusiastic about and wanted to vote for because he or she was great, rather than vote for because he or she was marginally better than the other person running?

And I realized the last person I felt like that about was Reagan's second term.

And I wasn't even old enough to vote then.

That's really sad.

Monday, February 27, 2012

One little happy thing

I think this is the worst spring allergy season I've ever weathered. I'm just miserable, but am holding it together and coming in to work because the thought of the paperwork to take a sick day doesn't feel worth it.

One happy thing though: one of my intro students, after the exam last week, saw me in the hall. He asked if I had them graded, I said I had just begun them, and then he said, "Well, I'm excited for this exam. I studied really hard and I think I did well."

He earned a 96 - the top score. So he was right to be excited. (So often I deal with people who either think they should get maximum results for minimum effort, who don't seem to give a crap about their education - "studying hard? What's that?", or who totally take for granted earning good grades).

(Also, one drive-by comment: Not that he ever really had me all that much to begin with, but Santorum's "indoctrinating professors" comment lost me forever from supporting him. Yes, I agree that not everyone needs to go to college. And I suppose there are some professors who push their agendas in the classroom. But, HELL. If you go to the movies, if you watch Comedy Central, if you listen to really any of the news channels out there now, you are getting some kind of doctrine pushed at you. I'm really tired of profs getting singled out for this, and I'm getting really tired of working hard at a career where I feel like no one outside the university respects me. I know, I know...I shouldn't expect that. But it just seems to me that back when I was a kid, when my dad was a prof, profs were respected, it was seen as a worthwhile career that helped society. Now we're seen as parasites at best. And yes, ballooning university tuitions are a problem....but none of us on my campus have had a pay raise for some six years (well, maybe the administrators have, I don't know). I make a good living ($60K if I teach summers) but I don't think I'm wildly overpaid.

(As I've said before, I think the ballooning tuitions are a fault of three things: first, increasing unfunded mandates towards things like mainstreaming and green initiatives and stuff, and the administrative structure that comes with them - and then there are also lots of vice presidents that are created positions to honor someone (or conversely, get someone you can't fire but want out of the classroom, out of the classroom). And then also, the demand on the part of students and parents for the Newest and Greatest: cafeterias, new dorms with washers and dryers in every suite, fancy workout centers (not for the athletes; for the average student), computer centers with new computers every other year...all of that costs money. And also the fact that stuff like gas, electricity, all those things are going up)

Then again, are there ANY careers today that seem to enjoy general respect? I mean, other than sports stars and movie stars? One of the reasons I love "Dirty Jobs" is that Mike Rowe treats the people mucking out stables or dealing with garbage with respect - and those are people who really DO deserve respect, as they're the behind-the-scenes folks who do the stuff that keeps our society running. (But still, I'd like for once for professors not to be vilified. Yes, I know, there are the lazy tenured people who make the rest of us look bad, but honestly, on my campus at least, they must be less than 10% of the population...)

Monday, February 20, 2012

The death of fun?

This is something that's been rattling around in my brain for a few days: are we, as a culture, forgetting how to have fun? (Or is it just me?)

I watched a few minutes of a documentary on, of all things, Tupperware, while taking a break during my workout (yes, there's some irony there, as I'll note later). They showed film from the get-togethers that the Tupperware sales people - I guess the top-sellers? had, where people (mostly women, because the people who hosted the parties were women) were water-skiing, and speedboating, and even doing a few reckless looking things (I remember a shot of a boat actually being started up on land, and propelling itself into water).

And yeah, yeah: I know the common belief that the 50s were an awful stifling time to be female (though from what my mom's said, being in grad school and a young-married in the late 50s and early 60s does not sound so bad: she and my dad gave dinner parties with themes, and they learned how to cook different international foods, and they went to plays, and they had cookouts with friends, and there seemed to be a culture of "let's get together on the weekends and hang out or play badminton or something" in the department my dad was in at the time)

But now, so much, it seems that a lot of stuff people used to enjoy is now clearly marked Bad For You. (When was the last time you heard of a cocktail party? I don't remember my parents ever giving them so much, but I do remember when I was a kid and they'd have dinner parties, they did serve a few types of cocktails (they didn't have an extensive bar set-up, they weren't regular drinkers) for the people who wanted them.). Or how many times have you seen someone be served a delicious restaurant meal or dessert, only for them to say, "oh, this looks SINFUL."

Stop it, people. Stop. It. Can't we just enjoy something for once without telling the world how guilty we feel (or, more likely: pretending to feel guilty because we think that makes us look virtuous).

Or: going for a drive. The price of gas now makes that prohibitive but even before that, it seems that just tooling around in your car is now sort of looked down upon; it's something that's "not done" any more. (Of course, some people have such awful commutes that the last thing they want to do on a Sunday afternoon is to go for a drive). But I know Sunday drives used to be a common amusement: heck, when I was a kid (after the oil embargoes ended), my family used to do them occasionally.

And a lot of things that used to seem fun have been so regulated, so controlled, so vetted for safety, that they're no longer spontaneous - look at the playgrounds where things like swings have been taken down, because a kid might hurt himself or herself.

And other things are now made "medicinal" - there's a PSA that runs on the cartoon channel about "Get out and play, an hour a day" exhorting the kiddies to run around lest they become obese. When I was a kid, running around an hour a day was just a given; going outside to play after school was the reward for either not having homework, or getting your homework done. Now it's been turned into something people "must" do. And adults exercise for health - I do an hour-long workout most days, and it's not fun. Oh, maybe the first 20 minutes or so is, but after that, it's just enforced, because I know I need to do it for good health. (If I had more free time in my life, maybe I'd hike. Or I'd bike, if my balance and the horrible potholey streets and the terrible drivers in my town didn't make me feel I was taking my life into my hands). When I was a kid, getting exercise was easy, and we didn't think of it as exercise....

And other things. Certain foods become "approved" because they have health-giving compounds. You "should" eat a certain amount of fatty fish in a week. Or, a small square (but only a small one!) of dark chocolate - because it's good for you.

And hobbies: I know people who take up hobbies not because they want to relax or have fun, but because they've read that Sudoku or crossword puzzles or bridge slows down mental decline.

And stuff like Farmer's Markets....or shopping at local businesses. I started doing it because it was fun, now I'm told it's a virtuous thing to do. And you know? Going to the Farmer's Market is less enjoyable when you have people walking around talking loudly about how much "better" they are than the louts who shop at wal-mart. 

And it seems that any more, we spend a lot of time either apologizing for stuff that seems "sinful" (because it's not expressly good for us) or justifying things as being "good for us." And for me, I don't know, that saps a lot of the enjoyment of things away. It's like we all now have giant checklists of Thou Shalts and Thou Shalt Nots (Or at least If Thou Dost, Thou Must Express Thy Feelings of Guilt).

And the thing is: in a lot of arenas, we aren't really allowed to talk about the things that traditional religions would classify as sins: cheating on your spouse, lying to people, being unkind to others...

And it also seems that there's a frantic but fruitless attempt to have fun - I would argue that a lot of the cheating-on-spouses falls into this category. (And I'd imagine it's not really fun, not in the long run, and causes more guilt, even in the most debauched person, than eating a big slice of chocolate cake would). Or we go after more and more loud, flashy, and in some cases, violent entertainment.

I think of what older relatives talk about having done for "fun" back in the day - they played cards. Or they made popcorn and sat around the table and talked. Or the kids rode bikes all over town. Or they jumped off the railroad trestle into the river and swam (wow, would that ever be illegal now. But my mom said she never heard of anyone being injured or killed doing it...). People had less "stuff" (especially in my mom's family), but they spent more time just enjoying themselves - no one really "exercised" (except for the guys on the football or track teams, and that was to build themselves up to compete), no one really worried about what they ate except for a few people with health problems.

It seems to me we're turning into a nation of worriers...unable to have fun.  That we overestimate some risks (and maybe, underestimate others).

Oh, I'm sure some of this is colored by my own feelings right now: I'm working a really tough schedule this semester, and it seems most days I come home, do what I "must" (Grading, generally) for the next day, and then am too tired (and it's too late in the day, at any rate) for having fun. And it seems the people around me are equally weighed down by work: I can't remember the last time a group of us from the department went out to lunch together (we used to do that several times a semester).

And I don't know how to change things or fix things...

Friday, February 17, 2012

What I need

I think this weekend I need an extended period of time in my sewing room.

I have a quilt top partly done (as in, I was stitching two pieces of fabric together, the phone rang, I went to answer it, and then never got back to it other than to turn off the sewing machine).

Making quilts - like knitting and embroidery - are things that keep me from getting too "broken." It's what brings me back to who I am, and helps me forget the troubling things of the past week. (Like: one of my disabilities-concerns students called me up ALL ANGRY because I didn't tell him what room the lab met in, and he didn't know where to go. Um....we meet in the room where we always meet. The room that's listed on your schedule. This is someone who was absent for the past three labs and he acted as if I had deliberately moved the lab and not told him....he didn't even bother to check before calling if we were in the same room as we had been in the last time he showed up to lab. And yes, I realize, I have to discount some of the reaction because of the challenges he may face, but: I don't like having long, rambling, hostile, angry phone messages. Also, he called when he KNEW I was in class...actually called while the lab he "couldn't find" was in session.)

It also helps me shrug off some of the bad news that presses on me - like that there's a move afoot to abolish tenure for profs in my state (and apparently that includes ALREADY tenured people...and profs could be let go without clear cause, which is extremely alarming. I mean, I'm a good teacher and I do probably my fair share of research and more than my fair share of service...but still, tick off the wrong legislator and you're gone. Or maybe make a little TOO much pay in one year, and you could be replaced by a younger model. And while in some cases there'd probably be recourse in the form of appeals, still, that makes everyone's lives more difficult. We already have post-tenure review, with the aim of  "encouraging" people to do their best (I've never heard of tenure being revoked for non-performance, but the way our Policies and Principles manual is worded, it sounds to me like it could be).

I try to remind myself  that things will ultimately be OK (even if that "OK" means "only in the Afterlife"), but I'm a born worrier, so it's hard to shut that kind of thing off. But going and working on quilt tops - either sewing pieces together, or cutting a new quilt - does.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Friday has to come early for me this week.

Busybodies. Freaking busybodies.

The people who will intrude in other people's lives and tell them how to live their lives, even when that person is hurting NO ONE (or no one but themselves) with their choices. This news story of the little girl whose lunch was allegedly confiscated because a turkey and cheese sandwich, a banana, a box of apple juice, and a bag of potato chips aren't "nutritional" enough (and in return, her mom was forced to buy a school lunch, of which the girl ate three "chicken" nuggets - and I use the scare quotes deliberately, if the nuggets are like the cafeteria nuggets I've had).

I feel for that kid. If I had been her? I would have cried inconsolably for the rest of the day - I was a little rule-follower, and even when the rules made no sense, I tried to follow them. And I was also an unpopular kid, so I felt like the teachers were my only allies at school - and so, if I felt they turned against me by ratting me out to the Food Police...well. I probably would have begged my parents Never To Go Back To School Ever Again.

The thing is - when we're graduating kids who can't read, who can't show basic respect to another human being, and who can't even minimally take care of themselves - it's WAY overstepping bounds to criticize a lunch a kid's mom packed for her.

 There are so many OTHER busybodies in the world. I fully expect before my career ends, I will see myself forced to either submit my packed lunch for Health Inspection or be required to prove I exercise the amount of time I do in a day - under the guise of "Wellness." (Already, my health insurance company sends me a god-awful nannying "birthday" card reminding me of crap like, "If you're overweight, get your weight under control" and "eat lots of fruits and vegetables and less meat and sweets." And "move more, eat less." RAEG. Like I'm not smart enough to figure out that leading a healthy lifestyle is good for me. (And yeah, yeah - I know, there are people who probably AREN'T. But why harass me? I barely make my deductible by December, it's not like I'm a huge drain on their resources.) Oh, and of course there's the obligatory "limit stress." Well, if stress is the result of a thwarted desire to choke the living daylights out of some idiot who desperately deserves it, the health insurer is a little late on that one.

With all the health-nannying, food-nannying, exercise-nannying kids get, I would not be surprised if in five or ten years eating disorders among teens and young adults becomes even more common, and then people run around going, "How could this have happened? SOMETHING MUST BE DONE."

Also: exercise in the form of running around outside (like I used to do as a kid, and frankly, I was a pretty skinny kid) becomes a lot LESS fun when you have the President's wife coming on television to tell you you "should" be doing it.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Trying to love them.

Mostly, I like my students. (I particularly like my soil science class this semester; they're all pleasant and responsible people. I could probably set up the lab, unlock the door, and let them have at it without my having to be there...and I'd come back to find they'd successfully completed the lab AND cleaned everything up - in fact, left the lab cleaner than it was when they walked in.)

But I have three students...well, that I probably need an attitude adjustment about (this comes because my women's Bible group last night wound up discussing how we are called to love the unloveable).

Person #1: wrote "joke" answers on the first exam. One "joke" answer I can roll with, sometimes it even makes me laugh. (I wrote, "Nice try but no points" next to his first one). But as I went on, I got the distinct feeling that (a) this person isn't taking this class seriously and (b) he put in some of these answers on the assumption that I wasn't going to READ the exam, just skim and give points for filled-in places. Which irritates me, because that means he assumes I'm not doing my job. (This is someone I've had in class before and he does seem like someone who doesn't take his education as seriously as he could).

Person #2: I actually have an easier time with this person because I understand there are extenuating circumstances. This is someone with multiple learning disabilities (and because of HIPAA, I can't know what they are). They lack "filters" and tend to blurt stuff in class, which makes me tense up and makes class uncomfortable. But they're also one of those bad-luck bears: they've been out sick or injured (apparently this person was in a car wreck last week) quite a bit, and they huffily* told me when I suggested they needed to get over to Disability Concerns and take the test I had dropped off that, "The dean told me I had a week to get everything made up." Interesting, the dean didn't bother to inform the student's professors....Also, this is someone that several faculty strongly suspect has a substance-abuse problem, and I'm coming to see how they see that, and wonder myself. (I just really hope this person can pass my class on the first go, so I'm not dealing with them for multiple semesters). The sad thing is, this is someone who plans to be a neurobiologist/neurosurgeon...and I just don't think they have the ability. They can't focus for very long at a time....

(*I suppose it could be that they're autism-spectrum and I'm interpreting brusqueness that some autism-spectrum people have as "huffiness.")

#3 is the one I have the hardest time with. This is someone who is/believes himself to be very popular: he's in a frat (I think he's even an officer). He wears ironic sideburns. And he's a jerk to me and the other students in class. I've had to speak to him twice (in what, four weeks of class?) about him talking loudly and out of turn in class. And he comes unprepared and then gets upset when he gets 'called' on it, as if "Because I'm in a frat and I'm Mr. Cool, I shouldn't have to do this stuff." He earned a 69 on his first exam and proceeded during the rest of class to crack jokes about "69." Dude, I know what that number represents in the sexual realm. But let me tell you, in the grading realm, in this class? It means that you will need to repeat the class unless you do much better. (I try to have a sense of humor, but there are some things I just can't have a sense of humor about very much.) (I will say if he needs to repeat the class? I will not be teaching this particular class in the fall so I won't have to deal with him. I guess I can take comfort in that.)

So, I realize we're called to pray for our "enemies" (and I don't really regard these as "enemies," just as people I let get under my skin). So I guess I need to try to pray for these people. (And not necessarily pray, "Please let Person #3 not be a jerk today")

Thursday, February 09, 2012

A quick question...

What would your interpretation be if you were driving in to work and the person ahead of you had a U.S. flag on their car antenna, but the flag was upside down?

Is it just someone who's too much of an idiot to put it on correctly? (At that, I will say I'm not fond of flags as car antenna decorations and such - they get tattered very fast and that seems disrespectful to me). Or are they sending a message? I know militarily, a flag flown upside down means "we are in dire distress" but I have also known people who seemed to hate and reject a lot of what the U.S. stands for as flying/wearing flags upside down. Of course, that was during the Bush era, so I don't know. Maybe it means something different now. I don't know. I don't think I'd fly a flag upside down unless my state had been invaded by a foreign army and no help was forthcoming....

So I don't know what to make of the driver in the car. (I didn't see a university parking sticker on it, so I don't think it's likely it's a prof here).

I know we have some serious problems, both in terms of fiscal policy/government spending and also in terms of those in Washington figuring they're entitled to do what they want, regardless of the will of the people (or in some cases, the Constitution), but I still think we have hope as a nation. I also think maybe people are beginning to wake up about the idea of over-reaching government, what with this fight over Obama wanting to require Catholic institutions to pay for birth control for their workers. (I think - and I certainly HOPE - the First Amendment wins here. And I know that, as a Protestant, if I were working at a Catholic institution, I would not expect birth control to be made available to me: you take a job, you accept the fundamental policies of your employer.)

Monday, February 06, 2012

Sugar is the new salt...

Apparently the new bugaboo that needs to be limited is sugar. Because we're not smart enough to limit our intakes ourselves. Or sugar is addictive. Or whatever.

(I find it ironic that there is someone running for president who apparently favors legalization of all drugs - even meth - and yet, there are others who would make sugar a controlled substance).

I guess what the would-be regulators want to regulate is processed food that's high in sugar - sodas, candy bars and the like. (I say "guess" because the article is behind a paywall: a link to it is in this Forbes article). But if they really wanted to regulate "all" sugar - wtf? Does that mean fruit becomes contraband? And what about using sugar as a preservative - for many years, jams and jellies were one way of keeping nature's bounty edible by using enough sugar to prevent microbial spoilage of the fruit. (Yes, we have freezers now. But they're bad for the environment: all that refrigerant, all that electricity). And sugar used to be a part of curing meat (it still is, as far as I know). And glucose - hell, glucose is what cells RUN on. Yes, they can make that from non-sugar things, but still. Do they still allow Type I diabetics to carry glucose tablets? I can see regulations on sugar "for our own good" carrying all kinds of unintended consequences.

I don't know. This kind of thing makes me tired, but I suppose if we wind up with some kind of federally-subsidized healthcare for all (and I think that's coming, no matter how hard people are still fighting it), we will be told it's our patriotic duty to submit to these regulations (and others) because we're not smart enough or strong enough to limit sugar intake on our own. That anyone who develops Type II Diabetes (never mind that it's a disease with a strong genetic component) didn't do all they could to keep from costing the government - and by extension, the taxpayers - a lot of money. Public shaming! You get the red D to wear on your chest!

I limit my sugar intake. I don't AVOID sugar, I don't tie myself in knots over "Oh cripes, I WANT this tangerine. But it has sugar in it, and that's bad, and besides, I already had an apple earlier today, I'm probably better off just sucking on this broccoli stem instead." But I don't go crazy with the amount of sugar because, well, it's better for my health to have balance in my diet. (For example: I don't care for soda, so not drinking soda is a convenient way for me to avoid large amounts of sugar. But if you like soda and want to drink it, peace be with you.) I try to take responsibility for my own diet and I am insulted that there are people who are telling me I'm ADDICTED to sugar and need to be made to go cold turkey.

I like chocolate - so I eat a little chocolate every few days. And dammit, I don't want to have to go to Walgreen's someday and ask the pharmacist, and sign a register, like you do for psuedoephedrine.

Here's the thing: a bureaucracy's goal is to perpetuate itself. When we've managed to, I don't know, people starving in the streets (though the ads tell us childhood hunger is still a big problem), bureaucracies have to find something else to do. And since we're (still) a prosperous nation where most of the problems have been solved, bureaucracies manage by demonizing and regulating other stuff. First it was trans fats. Then it was salt (at least in NYC). Now it looks like sugar's next. And then there are those articles out there about how sitting is really, really bad for you - maybe we could lower unemployment by having the government hire people on the dole to hang out in office buildings and scream at workers every 10 minutes or so to get up and walk around.

If we were in the middle of a famine (and God forbid that ever happens), I don't expect we'd see the stories about how "food x is really bad for you" or "food y will give you this disease."

Once again, I think of good old C.S. Lewis: "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their consciences."

Friday, February 03, 2012

What makes it better

There's a fairly new (sit-down, order off the menu, not a buffet) Chinese restaurant in my town. It's pretty good - I've eaten there a few times.

And they do carryout. I realized that for $3.50 I can get a couple pints of hot and sour soup - hot and sour soup that's better than what I can make from scratch at home.

So on my way home at "lunchtime" (close to 2 pm - I have an AWFUL teaching schedule this go-round), I picked a batch up. Ate half of it, have the other half for later this weekend.

I know people sometimes make rude jokes about Chinese restaurants, but several of the ones I've known - run by immigrants - the people running them are super-nice and friendly, and they work really hard to be a success. And the food at this one is really quite good, and they make some effort to plate it up nicely when you eat at the restaurant. I hope they continue to have good success, both because I like having them as a food option, but also because the people who run it are nice and do seem to be hard workers.


Two things:

1. I'm getting really tired of all the Komen stories/misinformation/snarkiness. And this reminds me why I vet charity groups very carefully before I give.

2. I'm irritated at a person in a group I belong to. This group, one of our activities, is that we give out scholarships to students. We have guidelines that we follow. We've been very pleased with past recipients - most have graduated with honors, and a number of them are still in the community, working in whatever field they earned their degree in.

Because of a quirk, this year we have two International students (Well, granted - one of them is in the process, if she has not already achieved it, of earning citizenship here). One person didn't like that and threw a right fit when the second International student was named. (The first one was a "continuing" scholarship - we re-award scholarships until a student graduates provided they keep a minimum 3.0 GPA and are making reasonable progress toward graduating).

It got kind of ugly. At one point (did I mention I'm Chair of the scholarship committee?) I was very tempted to get up, say, "If you can pick people better than the rest of us, then you may have MY place on the committee."

The thing is: there is NOWHERE in the guidelines that we are restricted to U.S. citizens only. We'd have to change the guidelines. And what this person was doing was trying to get us to revoke the scholarship from the most qualified applicant and award it to someone less-qualified simply based on membership in a particular group. Which would not be ethical given the situation.

But, because that person raised a stink and another person joined in, we called a vote: do we keep this recipient or reject her? (I was ready to resign if the vote was to reject - I think that would be very wrong). The vote, with two opposed, was to grant the scholarship.

So, I went to the group president later and said: if we're going to have this problem, we need to address it. If people genuinely have a problem with us awarding to International students, then we have to rewrite the guidelines. (I didn't like the idea, neither did she, but we agreed we had to put it forward to the group).

(I will note my mother's response to all this, when I told her, because it's also kind of my opinion: "If the American kids aren't earning high enough grades or doing enough outside stuff to be the top candidates, then they need to work harder.")

Also, I'll note we get probably a disproportionate number of International student applicants, because so many of the other sources of aid are closed off to them. (Also, I've met a large number of U.S. students with the attitude of "Meh, I'll get loans, I don't have to work for them, and if I can't pay them off when I graduate, let them come after me.")

So anyway: we researched it, brought the issue before the membership, and opened it up for discussion.

Several women pointed out what my mother said. And a couple did remark on the fact that International students have fewer choices.

And then the original agitator spoke up. Now, I tend to be a very literal-minded person, so I did not get what she was getting at at first, using very veiled language. But then, as she kept speaking, I realized what she was saying:

"What if one of our scholarship recipients goes home and becomes a terrorist?"

Okay, that insulted me on three levels:

1. The two "International" students we have, one is from South America, one is from Vietnam. They've been recommended by several professors and community leaders. They hold down jobs in the community. While I am sure some "real" terrorists slipped by the notice of many, so do many American citizens who commit horrible crimes - and for that matter, there are homegrown terrorists. Neither of these kids in question seem to show any kind of ill-will to the U.S. The student from South America, in fact, is working to become a citizen, because, as she said, she was so impressed with the freedom and opportunity we have here and she wants to stay here and build a life.

2. Both of the students are Christians, they noted that in their cover letters. One had a church leader write a letter for her. While I'm aware that some Christians can become violent....most of the violent terrorists we've seen in recent years are not Christian. (Not that their faiths entered any into our decision, other than the fact that the one letter emphasized the conscientiousness and ethics of the student).

3. The thing that made me angriest? What I "heard" her saying was, "I don't think the scholarship committee is discerning enough or smart enough to recognize someone who might later present a problem and dishonor us." That was the point where I really wanted to say, "Okay, fine, lady. You get my slot on the committee; I'm DONE." Of course, I wouldn't really want to do that - as a friend of mine (not in this group) I vented to noted: "You really don't want someone like HER doing the picking, do you?" (The person in question is an attention-hound, someone who's never worked a day in their life, and someone who once berated ME for not doing more volunteer work during the day - even though she knows I teach full time. "Can't you just cancel class occasionally?" was her response. Um, no, not if I want to keep my tenure, I can't.)

I kind of abstained from discussion because at that point I was so nettled that I figured nothing I could say would be helpful.

Finally, we reached a compromise: for every scholarship slot, the committee will have a "top 3" choices which the membership will then vote on. While this will slow things down considerably and mean more work - it also means the people who think we aren't working hard or being careful will see what an effort it is to pick and choose. I'm all for making them read all 15 or however many applications that we need to wade through to pick the applicants.

The only thing is? I suspect in some ways this will spike the chances of International students a little. I know since that one person got so nasty about it I'd think twice, unless the International student was clearly head and shoulders above all the U.S. students. If it's a matter of one activity or .2 of a GPA, forget it - I'll push forward the American kid. Not fair and not right, maybe, but people who are nasty and unpleasant get their way in this world, and I'm too damn tired of fighting and being yelled at.

No good deed goes unpunished. And volunteers are usually thanked with criticism. That's just how life is.