Thursday, September 29, 2011

evil professor

Tomorrow I will be making enemies of every student who takes classes with me.

In my freshman course, the students are not particularly fond of our most recent readings. So, instead of me pulling/pushing/prodding them to talk, I will be making them run their own discussion of the chapters we read this week. These guys are turning in their first big paper tomorrow, so I'm sure they'll be thrilled to have to do group work too.

Then, as students in my Intro to Discipline course show up to deposit their first ginormous assignment in my hands, I will be giving them a reading quiz, and we'll talk about the two smaller assignments that are due soon and the exam they have next week.


If only I wasn't planning to suffer just as much, with a big paper and a big problem set to grade, plus a field trip and a research excursion planned for this weekend.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Guess how much work I did this weekend?! None! Or, more specifically, I felt like crap on Friday, lazed about and organized/cleaned my house instead of working on Saturday, and did required-but-not-useful-for-the-coming-week work today. And THEN I went out and had some fun, which was really where everything went wrong.

I will pay for this evening's enjoyment by working like crazy for the next five days. Plus a field trip next weekend, so, make that six days. And I doubt I'll get far enough on posters that need to be done soon, so...7 days? Well, better call it 14 days, to be safe. At least by then I have to go to a conference, so I'll have no choice but to get my ass outta town.

So, life is crazy. But I like that my students balance my moods. Whenever I get particularly fed up with whiny kids who refuse to partner themselves out for a class project, someone gets excited about a research project or a field trip. Whenever I get frustrated by my schedule and my lack of time to do anything well, I get some really good questions about lecture material. As usual, thanks, students, for keeping me sane.

Friday, September 23, 2011


Having never taken a steroid, I was very unaware of the potential side-effects (also, I probably should have read the insert info). Now that I've been done for 24 hours, I'm having some lovely withdrawal symptoms that include feeling like complete shit and freezing my ass off in my office as I attempt to get through the rest of the day. Hopefully my doctor's office will call back soon so I can bitch them out for not tapering the end of that medication.

I won't bore you with the series of additional problems that have been caused by my damned meds. It's been shitty. I was unaware that I was so sensitive to these various pills, and it kinda pisses me off.

In other news, students and organizations are backing out of obligations, I still have too much to do, and I have to work for half of the weekend on non-research.

If I didn't have a film ready for my afternoon class, this day would officially suck.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

awareness failures

I missed an abstract deadline this week; after getting everything ready to submit, I just forgot. Although, in my defense, who the hell puts abstract deadlines on random days in the middle of the week? (probably everyone, all the time...but I would go for a late-submission late fee option, please).

Partner got home last night, and immediately added to my general sense of being befuddled by reality. I was confused that I had been sleeping poorly and sweating at night all week. Partner immediately observed, "aren't you taking a steroid?" So, the person who hasn't even been here is more aware of my life's context than I am.

Hopefully I have the rest of my to-do list in some sort of semi-complete form. I'll never finish everything on it, but if it's all there, at least that's some sort of progress.

Friday, September 16, 2011


This first full week of the term chewed me up and spat me out. I spent all the free time I had dealing with issues for a local group I am part of, and my cat now officially hates me for abandoning her during all daylight hours. And I still have all the things I didn't accomplish during the week to do this weekend.

Amazingly, astoundingly, ALL of my classes have gone really well. This is, of course, just my opinion, but I'm really happy with the time IN the classroom, even if all of the time OUT of the classroom sucked.

Also, I have maintained a decent workout schedule, even when it meant eating at 9 pm. This will probably be harder once Partner gets home (him on a family vacation makes my schedule much more flexible), but in theory things will calm down soon? Small victories, in any case, are better than none.

Monday, September 12, 2011


Having dinner at 9pm means overeating due to extreme hunger.

Pay attention to Target's bulk "deals" - this evening I noted a single-pack of saline solution for $2.99, and a double pack for $6.25. I'm glad they want me to pay them more to save them some cardboard.

My doctor has me on a nasal spray, an allergy pill, an antibiotic, and a steroid, all for a low-discomfort sinus infection. I'm not sure whether this means I should be more concerned, or whether he's gone a bit overboard.

Regardless, I should probably not be having this beer.

Also, Mother Nature, I was all about the cooler temperatures. Taking us back into the 90s is not ok. Take note.

Friday, September 9, 2011


I'm already:

- so far behind on emails that I'm accidentally not replying to fairly important student requests in a timely manner.

- so overbooked that I can barely find time to meet with people.

- not getting enough sleep.

- overlooking lab management issues, including timely chemical waste disposal.

- missing the seniors who left last spring (or, in some cases, today).

I'm already:

- thrilled by the fact that my freshmen are taking good notes on their readings.

- looking forward to taking students to new places.

- impressed by the discussion skills and displays of verbal bravery by students who just got here.

- excited that so many students are utilizing a particular skill that I teach as part of their senior work or other projects.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

back to the classroom

Dear students,

You are adorable. But seriously, you need to do some things for me so I don't lose my mind.

a. Double check your course numbers when you sign up for classes. Also read your course schedule, and make sure the things you signed up for are on there.

b. Don't use Internet Explorer. For some reason I expected you guys to be more technologically competent and/or internet-savvy than myself; apparently that was a bad call on my part.

c. Don't back out of verbal commitments made at the end of Spring term.

d. Don't second-guess every single class choice until you've actually gone to one meeting for each class.

e. Don't send me emails without greetings that demand information about "the class" without specifying which class you're talking about.

This term I'm feeling much more like a mentor than I have before. I'm not sure whether this is because I finally feel capable of focusing on that aspect of my position, or whether it's because I'm now that much older than the incoming students. Whatever the reason, I'm more amused by their craziness than annoyed by it, which is probably good progress on my part. Hello Fall 2011!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


I have a new student as an advisee who is basing all of their class decisions on Rate My Professor, the desires of their family members, and the random opinions of the few upperclassmen they've met so far. This is going to be an excellent term for them, I'm sure.

I'm already taking on more independent study students, because I am perpetually a sucker for seniors who have only recently become interested in my field.

This new class is striking me as way more interested, involved and motivated than the new students I taught last fall. Maybe it's just a first impression, but I hope this bodes well.

Saturday, September 3, 2011


As the horrible blogger that I am, I've left this place empty for almost a month. I was off on a variety of adventures sans internet for part of that time, but for the rest all I can say is that I also haven't finished my grant proposal, my manuscript, or my syllabi, and all of this is going to be very bad for me this week.

This summer was probably the best stretch of down time that I've had since coming to SLAC, even with summer students and lab organization and everything else. But, I still fell into the "I wouldn't be doing this work if I was in the field, so why should I do it now?" trap early on, slacking off far more than I should have. I did get a lot accomplished, but much of it remains incomplete, as noted above.

This fall promises insanity and insomnia, as well as far too many conferences. On the list:

- three grant proposals, although one of them will be written primarily over the winter break
- three conferences, with three posters, one talk and one panel between them
- one book chapter and one manuscript; the chapter can be finished in the early spring, but the paper really needs to go in by Nov.
- taking on a more significant leadership role in a professional organization
- taking on primary responsibility for student applications for the field school I work with
- teaching an extra half-credit course plus mentoring a serious independent study student, not to mention seniors doing their research projects. The variability here is something I worry about, since I know the technology-heavy independent study will take a lot of time, but I'm not sure how much the other students will need until they get started.
- teaching the writing-heavy freshman course as one of my regular classes, which I find to be a lot of grading/editing/evaluating if I want to actually help them improve their writing

The extra teaching load this fall will leave me with a lower one in the spring, which is a plus, and the class is something I've taught enough now that it shouldn't be too bad. Still, going over the normal teaching load is always rough. Plus, I'm on research leave for a few months in 2012, and I need to prep for that.

I'm also up for my fourth-year review, which promises a fair assessment of my progress toward tenure, but also means I have to write up materials at some point in the fall. The fall that is already so full of stuff to do that I don't know when I will ever sleep. I am also concerned that I have this nagging sense that I've forgotten about something I'm supposed to be doing this term - I'm sure that will bite me in the ass at some point soon.

Which means I really should have gotten more accomplished over the summer.

On the plus side, I'm getting some data back from my summer efforts, I'm still enjoying the tomato harvest from my garden, and I'm excited about the term now that I've met with some of my incoming students. I love first years, they're so adorable and eager. I wish more of them would keep that excitement past the first term!