Friday, October 30, 2009

small school politics

There is some stuff going down here at SLAC, into which I will be dragged at some point (probably early next term), and which has brought up a lot of old feuds between profs who work on my side of campus. It's funny how completely isolated I have been from the campus politics - to the extent that there seemed, at first, to be surprisingly few divisions between faculty at SLAC. And of course that was the very misleading impression of a newby who was not included in the snarky email exchanges and was not provided with a detailed background in the history of so-and-so's relationship with everybody else. That's now changing, and, just like everywhere I've ever been, academics can never get along.

In some ways, in my in-between status and as a recent graduate of a large university, the things the profs here at SLAC get worked up over seem quite ridiculous. They are minor, or they have more to do with semantics and details than seems absolutely necessary. This is a place where I have email or personal exchanges with my Dean at least once a week, and I have a huge say in how the school is run in general (compared to larger universities). I can even voice an opinion on how other people are running things, even if at this point that opinion would mean very little to the powers that be. But they would still listen before throwing my vote out the window, which is more than you can say for the school I came out of last year. In a place like this, you'd think people would be more empowered to effect change and would spend less time bickering, but that is not the case. Maybe I shouldn't be surprised, considering the fact that there are just as many egos and old-timers set in their ways at a SLAC as anywhere else.

Also, it's interesting how a few strong voices can really turn opinion, or create a new faction, since the size of the faculty overall is so small. Again, you might think that this more personalized power would be a helpful thing, but it seems to create more rifts than it mends. Sometimes maybe it's a good thing that someone in a paneled office somewhere just makes a decision, though I'm not convinced of that quite yet. We'll see how long it takes to work through these issues as individuals - if it takes as long as I think it might, I may be revisiting my opinion in favor of top-down decision making.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

new numbers

InaDWriMo 2009 time, according to the venerable Dr. Brazen Hussy, which is good, since I haven't been writing despite my best intentions. So I was at 600-something words and I've set that back to zero, because come on, self, you can do better than that. 3000-word goal. I'll count that from now, I suppose, just to make myself feel better.

A small group of early faculty here at SLAC actually started up a writing group recently. We held a meeting at which we set out two-week goals. And then all of us promptly over-scheduled and missed the two-week meeting. ALL of us. Apparently we need a better system.

If the above doesn't mean anything to you, November is traditionally NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. A few years back this was modified into InaDWriMo, International Dissertation Writing Month, for academics who don't write novels but may need a motivator to keep writing. Since then it's been utilized by academics in general, not just graduate students writing dissertations. Sometimes a word goal is a good thing.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Today a fellow second-year proffie told me that the second year was supposed to be the hardest. I think I believe them. It's been a shitty week or so, and it didn't help that I was away attempting to be a professional during the early portion of last week. I chaired a session at a national meeting for the first time - it was quite fun. My own talk kinda sucked, but it was also pretty repetitive from stuff I've talked about before, so I guess it wasn't going to be great no matter what.

Since then I've been catching up - and spending the majority of my time with students. Which is fine, but once again the one-on-one time is killing me in terms of having time to do anything else. This weekend I succeeded in doing the most important cleaning tasks, and spent approximately 1.5 hours on yardwork. I also watched a movie with Partner, which was sadly the most time we've had to sit down and hang out for several weeks. Otherwise I finally have a field trip organized but I didn't get all my grading done.

Last night I gave up at 2 am and went to bed, which led to a later morning than usual. Which is probably why I forgot my office keys, and had to go back home and get them. Which led to my running late for class, which of course occurs on the same day that every printer on my floor is jammed and I have to run around trying to get my handouts printed. Oh Monday.

And then, of course, it's suddenly 3 pm and I have no idea where the day has gone. I guess I should go home and make dinner. It's probably a good thing that Partner works crazy hours, too.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


We're finally eating our way through the last of the summer garden, so I thought I should update on what we got out of it before I finish it off. We planted three types of tomatoes - red zebras, brandywines, and a generic store-bought plant that we got when we seemed to have destroyed all our seed-grown plants. Some of those seeds made it through, though, so we got some good heirlooms as well as the generic slicers. The brandywines were great when eaten at exactly the right time; otherwise they tended to go bad pretty quickly and the quality went downhill as well. The red zebras were good and fairly hardy; we still have a pile of them ripening on the counter. These guys were affected by some bacterial spots, theoretically due to the wet weather, but they were still good.

The tomatoes could have done better; we had them in a less-than-ideal bed in terms of support and sun. We have plans to improve those things next year, and even with bad placement we had plenty for eating and sauce-making over the past month or so.

The purple viking potatoes did really well, and we have a pile in the basement that should last us through part of the winter. They hold a lot more water than the russets I was used to; I have therefore had to adjust my baking techniques, particularly when making french fries. Mostly, purple potatoes are awesome.

The lettuce failed - we should have started it inside, because we didn't have the time to keep the beds clear and the plants got lost. We planted some strawberries that were not very good - probably we'll ditch those in the future. I think it was a good start considering that Partner was here all by himself all summer and there was minimal time for garden maintenance.

We're planning on some garlic that will go in the ground soon, and in the spring we'll be rotating the tomatoes and potatoes. Lettuce will be started inside and then taken out, and maybe I'll go for some peas. I think we'll do the zebras again, a brandywine or two, maybe find a new heirloom. Another potato variety would be fun. I want some cherry tomatoes.

Otherwise we've been finding some random local foods where possible - there's a farm near Partner's job that has a big fall stand, and I've recently become fairly addicted to a salsa that our local grocery store is selling for a local farm. It has zucchini in it. Yum.

Small steps, maybe. Better than nothing, with life as crazy as it is.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


I've been getting a lot accomplished today. Not writing, but other things that need to get done, so that's good I guess.

Also, I made the mistake of incorporating a famous fantasy novel into a few questions on my Midterm exam. Instead of actually answering the question I asked, students are sometimes providing long discussions of fantasy-novel politics and skirting the topic of -ology entirely. I assume they're thinking something like, "if I show her I'm as big a geek as she apparently is, maybe she'll give me points even though I don't know the answer to this question." Little geeks, you are sorely mistaken.

Friday, October 9, 2009

new information

Did you know? Good boilers cost $10,000. Fuck.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Pieces of Saturday

- Field trip scouting today: big zero. Which means I'll be out there again next weekend. Yippee.

- Comcast sucks my butt and I hate them. Never trust anything they say to you; I knew that already, but now I learned it again.

- Rain, rain, knock it off until I can find a roofer.

- No writing. Ack!

- Partner is out of town in about a week, for about a week. While that's lame, I might be able to spend a lot of time writing while he's gone and save my ass.

- I finally got in a good workout. That makes everything better.