Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Ah, Spring in RNC

Saturday it was in the 80s. Monday, it snowed. Today, yes just Tuesday, it's sunny and beautiful, headed for mid 60s. I have dark purple, iris, daffodils and tulips (both from last summer's trip to the Keukenhof Gardens) and lilacs blooming like crazy. (I'm very familiar with crazy, as my lack of mobility leads to an inability to get outside and enjoy my gardens.) From my back windows, I can see a particular set of tulips that began as a deep yellow, and now have faded to a pale yellow with red/orange tips. There are also some tulips out there that are a deep apricot - and must be doubles or triples, because they've been just spectacularly full. Particularly those planted next to my studio - the purple of the studio with that pop of apricot - glorious.

Our search concluded yesterday, as the committee met and voted on who we want as #1, 2 and - oh dread of dreads - #3. I was surprised and pleased that the active faculty within the department had the exact same lists in the exact same order. The retired and out-of-department members agreed that our lists should have more weight, as we're the ones that have to live with our choice. The interesting this was also that while I'd spent the weekend dithering between J and A as to who would be better - every member of the committee had J either at #1 or 2. So while she ended up as #2, if we don't get #1 (very possible) we'd all be very happy with #2. Personally, it would make my life easier (if less interesting) if #2 came, as she'd not need the extra care that newbie #1 will. However, as long as we don't get #3, we're all happy. It is now up to the Dean to get us somebody. #3, as Dino1 noted, would be a bad choice; he described her as "corrosive."

I'm down to 8 class days left. I cannot tell you how good that feels. A week from today I can start putting weight on my foot - which, if there is no pain (oh please please please) means I might be able to start driving again.

Summer break is both deliriously close and terrifyingly imminent. Student papers are all on track - I'm very pleased with the African po-co class projects, which seem to be really good (for this point in the term). These are interdisciplinary team projects and the teams seem to be on task and working well together. This week, they're doing peer presentations/evals, and so far, I'm quite pleased. The Honors class - the whiny group - seems okay. I don't want to think about how bad things can get with them - they are led by a volatile discontent (who is also one of my advisees). And VD can turn on me in an instant - enormous sense of entitlement.

So all in all, these last weeks are on a good, solid trajectory to a good term's end. If we hire #1, I'll be teaching Issues in Women & Gender Studies in the fall. If you were teaching that and wanted to cover the major points and yet do it differently, what would you do? What do you consider the 4-5 major issues students encountering this field need to really spend time exploring? Any readings that you think are both fundamental and foundational, easily accessible and innovative?

Saturday, April 12, 2014

I love Twisty!

Go read this. And herewith is a great quote:

 “Equality” proposes a condition wherein women and men supposedly enjoy identical opportunities socially, politically, legally, etc. But the available opportunities themselves have always been identified and defined by male needs; even if this were not the case, the biological fact of sexually-differentiated physiologies preclude absolutely the possibility of genuine equality.
Liberation, on the other hand, proposes that women cease to accept limitations imposed by male dominance, whereupon we define our own women-specific, ergonomic reality, independent of dudely norms, needs, desires, and fantasies.
In praxis, “equality” has to be legislated and approved of and policed, and will only ever result in an approximation of true liberation. Whereas true liberation, as is usually the case with peoples who wish to throw off the shackles of oppression, can only result from something like an actual feminist revolt.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Ah, Students

"...holy orders emerged which gave monks the right to bare arms..."
  •  and don't you know they really wanted to work on their tans....

On the Magna Carta:
"...since even the peasants were allowed to marry, the family of deceased husbands could not be counted upon to provide for the wido because it would not be in their best interest...the drafters of the Magna Carta assume that the family of the deceased husband would become drunk with power. Widows are intentionally given authority [in the document]... to lessen the power of men...."
  • Even peasants were allowed to marry? Good heavens. No wonder the MC had to be revised. What were they thinking???

On increasing trade in the Mediterranean:
"Trade necessitates social change because men leave to trade while women stay home to trade with the foreign men...."
  • Which is what comes of giving uppity women power! They send their husbands off to play with the furriners.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Privilege, Patronage and Entitlement

That pretty much describes the themes of the second exam I'm giving in my Medieval Europe class AND the attitude of those students. Not just the class and the petition (see the previous entry for that mess), but today I get this from the student who led the petition/complaint drive:

I've heard a rumor that some people are going to try to cheat on the test, and I want it clear that I am not part of the group. I also don't want anyone to know I told you. They're planning on typing their notes and slipping them into the primary documents. They may also be planning to write in their blue books ahead of time. I know there was texting happening during the last test, and that might be the plan for tomorrow, too.

It's not enough that they march en masse to the AD's office to complain and assert that the complaints are unanimous (I've had two come back and say they're quite satisfied with the way things are going, so unanimity was... overstated), but now they are conspiring to cheat. Happily, J is going to proctor, and I've warned her to double-check everything and I will be there via Skype if anybody tries to pull a fast one and tell her I said it was okay. I'm so over this group - ready to turn 'em loose and let 'em fail.

I've chewed on this issue of Honors kids feeling entitled to automatic As for years, and have talked it over with friends in this latest iteration. The ultimate decision is that I won't offer another Honors class before my retirement (4 years, 1 months, 17 days). The immediate aspect is more troubling, but I find solace in knowing I only have this batch for another month. Until then, I have to be completely two/three-faced as I deal with the class. I'm spitting mad, but can't communicate that as they'd then use that as fodder for more complaints. I have zero tolerance for cheats, and knowing that they cheated on the last exam is infuriating - and had to be really frustrating for them, as even with that they did poorly (according to their own expectations - got Bs and Cs). The podcasts? Well, I worked for three frigging days to get them done and up - and as of Monday 1/6 had actually even looked at them.

All of this is just... well, $hit on toast, because the layers are astonishing. I get Stu-behind-petition who wanted to skype a study session, which was fine. But her question was 'what's the difference between privilege and patronage?' which stomped on top of all kinds of buttons for me. I had to work really hard to keep from saying 'well, you are privileged, and think you are entitled to my patronage because you're you.' I didn't, but I came damned close!

Our national search has turned into a search for a 1 year VAP, and campus visits are imminent. VAP down the hall just told me that his department went through the entire process and then, at the last minute, was told they couldn't hire. That's a different version than an earlier one (which posited that they decided that none of the interviewees was suitable). Advising for fall term has commenced, and we've lost one minor even as we picked up another. Students are disregarding my instructions to come with their choices made and schedule prepared (I do this with all advisees, even when I'm on campus), and are appearing in the online chat with nothing, zip, zilch, nada. MsM has decided that she can sign documents in my name (no, of course I didn't give her permission and nobody should accept anything signed by a VAP where there are full time tenured members of the faculty handy).

40 days to end of term. that includes weekends and no-teaching days, as these people have taken up residence in my head & dreams. Gah.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Joys of Aging

Self awareness increases.
Shifting priorities.
Increasing emotional stability.
Slow healing.

Last August, I heard/felt a pop in my right foot. In February I finally realized that the healing wasn't happening, so got the thing broken. Surgically. In a cast for a month, living in wheelchair. Confined to house.

And last week, shingles enter the picture. O. Joy. A very mild couple of spots, but... still. I even had the damned vaccine. Shingles. And stress only makes 'em itch more.

Stress? Oh yes. Online classes aren't working for the students but do they mention it to me? No - they spent more than an hour in the Associate Dean's office bitching. AD then calls me, asks how we can resolve it. We chat, and she determines that podcasts will help. So I spent Wed-Friday working on podcasts; major problems with software before I got them uploaded to YouTube.

Thursday night, a friend tells me that Stu, in same problem class, has started a petition campaign to force the university to hire MsM. I'm astonished that MsM hasn't put an end to that; my friends are astonished that MsM's machinations are so clear. The AD calls it an interesting attempt at academic extortion.

Stress. Shingles. O. Joy.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Yes. Yes. Yes.

One of the reasons Carl Sagan and Neil DeGrasse Tyson have made such an impact on my life, and that of so many of my friends: neither makes me feel dumb.

Go read this. And then, let's all take a deep breath.... and do it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Itching for Spring

Email this morning from TechMom in Michigan showing SciDad shoveling more snow. Brrrr. I look up, over the top of my laptop screen and into my backyard - sunny and gorgeous outside. In the front yard, visible even to the shut-in me, I spy three (!!) crocus in bloom. Spring! Yay! Spring! It's almost officially here! Yay! Since we've all hand a long hard winter, I offer these reminders that spring is on its way:

Soon. Hopefully soon, wherever you are.