Monday, August 31, 2009
The first paragraph, Mad Libs version
I was having luck with just writing and planning on going back through and putting in the dates and quotes and details later. Right now I have about a page of crap, liberally interspersed with _____ or [get the quote from the bio and put it here]. I'm hoping that this will keep my momentum going, as I can make it to the end of my train of thought and of the paragraph, and then go search my 800 different word files of notes and quotes and thoughts to myself later to fill it in. Usually I fill in as I go, and then forget where I am going when I finally have located that quote 30 minutes later.
Unfortunately, two days of hot weather and little sleep mean that I am really crashing. More than my usual afternoon lag. (I had a wonderful time of it last night trying to get my drunken-looking fan to stand upright, and then broke it. Even once I got it cooler in my room my blood was still boiling from frustration.) So I'm going to go home and take a nap (hope I'm good for driving), and rest up and maybe play with the cats if it is not too much of an oven at my place.
Crazy utopian goal for tomorrow: two paragraphs.
Friday, August 28, 2009
Random Bullets of It's Hot and I'm Bored
- It's hot!
- I'm bored!
- Actually it may have cooled off outside but I don't feel like doing anything and that includes moving.
- I should go away from the computer now, especially since it is generating heat, but I can't be bothered to actually do it, only to complain about it.
- We're on fire again.
- But only in a more general "state of the state" kind of way rather than an OMG I have to pack the car and the cats and run for the hills (or maybe away from the hills) kind of way.
- My philosophy is: if it is more than 10 miles away and not located in a canyon that is directly pointed at me, then fuck it. I ain't movin'.
- West Covina? Who would even miss it?
- In other news, I think I should call the landlord about the window screens, as they seem to all have large holes in them that let in the gnats.
- At least my cats are happy about that.
- The landlord still hasn't called back or done anything about my last maintenance request.
- Did I tell you about that one?
- When Cool Scientist Friend was here, one morning I opened a cabinet door and it came right off the hinges and landed on my head.
- The crazy thing was that both of us saw it fall in super slow motion. That made it possible for me to move my arm and block it. But it seemed very strange and dreamlike.
- Like those dreams where you are running away from something but your legs only move in slow motion, like through invisible jelly.
- I hate those types of dreams.
- Also, I drank an extra iced coffee yesterday afternoon.
- Because it was hot.
- But then I couldn't sleep.
- So I don't want to go to bed now, although I am exhausted, because I would like to have a semi-normal sleep schedule. Please.
- Oh, and you know what's crazy?
- Besides the fact that the summer is over and the MLA job list is coming out so damn soon?
- (If it comes out with any jobs on it. The MLA ______ list would be a depressing, and I'm afraid, all-too-likely, situation to encounter.)
- Craziness is looking at the Penn call for papers site and seeing a bunch of calls for next year's MLA panels up already.
- I cannot plan that far ahead.
- Not when I am unemployed,
- and it is too hot to move.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
The Value of Qualitative Information
It’s redundant work for everyone, except for the “Outcomes Assessment” administrators who are paid to make $hitwork up for faculty and students who would prefer to be left alone to get on with the business of studying physical anthropology, or engineering, or zoology, or Romantic literature, or something else that has actual interest and value to people other than “Outcomes Assessment” administrators.Historiann, and the blogger she cites, Clio Bluestocking, and some of the commenters, have the following complaints about Outcomes Assessment: it's a bunch of non-experts coming in from outside and dictating how content experts should be teaching things, it's a process that attempts to standardize content and teaching across departments and colleges and locations, it's a time- and labor-intensive process but departments are usually not granted any extra money or resources to comply with it, it homogenizes learning (through testing) and trains students to be uncreative and timid, and, most important, it assumes that the humanities and the outcome of a humanities class or education can be measured quantitatively. (did I leave anything out?)
Reading this made me think of my MLA summer newsletter, which made me vaguely worried and uncomfortable when I read it a little while ago, but was unable to put my finger on it at the time (I thought maybe it was because it reminded me that the job list was coming out soon. Eeek!) If you haven't gotten around to reading it yet, here's an excerpt from Rosemary G Feal's column:
Leave the Kleenex. Take the Data.While I am glad that the MLA is actually doing something (Historian's earlier post about a professor who ignored controversial emails attributed to him makes a good case for the dangers of ignoring distasteful developments), I worry that our willingness to jump on the quantitative-data bandwagon will produce some short-term benefits but be hugely detrimental in the long term.
Humanities Advocacy Day, 2009. I am sitting in the audience with the MLA's president, Catherine Porter, and vice president, Sidonie Smith, at a panel called Making the Case for the Humanities. A university president anchors his talk with this little quip from his days as a dean: when faculty members from the sciences came to see him, he took out the checkbook; when faculty members from the humanities visited, he took out the Kleenex. Leaving aside the gendered attitudes and other biases encoded here, I wonder what made him view the humanities faculty as a bunch of whiners without a cause. Is it in part because we are without something the scientists have when they visit the dean: the data?
The scientific community enjoys the benefits of a federally funded data collection project, Science and Education Indicators, prepared by the National Science Foundation's Division of Science Resource Statistics, with guidance from the National Science Board (www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind08/start.htm). Our turn is coming, though. Thanks to the efforts of many ... the Humanities Indicators, a project of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, has recently been launched in prototype form (www.humanitiesindicators.org).
I know it's ironic, coming from someone who is currently compiling a table of incidences and who just posted a picture to her blog to document the quantity of her recent reading (not the quality --- whoo no, there is no quality in that pile of boredom), but I would argue that the essence of the study of the humanities is qualitative. In fact, in the past, the "human" part of the humanities has meant that part of life which cannot be quantified.
I worry that, in relying on quantitative data to justify such a deeply qualitative field of study to our administrators, legislators, donors, and the general public, that we end up commodifying humanistic study ---- that we train those aforementioned people to not value the very subjects and methods we are advocating for, that they will become even less likely to understand the humanities work we do and why it is important. Will relying more and more on tables and charts and graphs of humanities "outcomes" and "excellence" end up devaluing, or transforming, the qualitative types of work we do in the humanities classroom?
After all, what's so great about quantitative data anyway? Well, let's see: it is a fast and efficient way of conveying information ---- it will take you a lot less time to read my charts and timelines of who-was-where-when than it would for you to read all those documents and for us to have a deep conversation about it. (Let's save that for the novel, which is actually worth considering closely.)
We also currently have a strong cultural inclination to value quantitative data as very important and somehow more real or more rigorous (here I could link to Lyotard or Evelyn Fox-Keller or Donna Haraway or whoever made this point first but I'm lazy and don't want to hunt it up). I'd say this trend dates back at least to the invention of the stock market ticker and the mystical belief that somehow throwing around numbers necessarily produces more money (I could link to any number of recent articles about the stock bubble, housing bubble, or Jon Stewart's attacks on Jim Cramer, if you'd like.)
So is outcomes assessment just another part of the factory university speedup? The whole point of humanistic study is to read and think in depth and then to talk about it, and to train our students to read and think in depth as well ---- and then to communicate what they have discovered through writing and speech.* That's it. It's a model that doesn't lend itself well to Taylorization, rationalization and efficiency. It's hard to turn it into a commodity with the attendant cycles of innovation and obsolescence of various bells and whistles, at least hard to do that and have it remain recognizably the same. There's no product, no profits or dividends; ideally these activities --- reading, thinking, communicating, in a humanistic manner --- should be carried out in all aspects of life and won't be easily correlated to getting a job or making X amount of money. In fact, humanistic study is supposed to be so much more all-encompassing and affect so much more of your life than your earnings, that measuring such a limited outcome as wealth, rather than a holistic assessment, should just be silly.
Of course, the idea that there are whole swaths of life and society that are not about money and measurements and profits makes some people veeery upset. As does the idea that maybe profits and making money don't have to be an important part of your life, or how it is measured. As for me, I think that when a university mission changes from educating students to proving to people that it is educating students, things have gotten really out of whack.
*I know, I know, craziness: the Marxist scholar endorsing humanism? Well, remember that Marx himself advocated that everyone work for 4 hours a day so that they all had time to study and create and entertain. Hell, I'd put in my 4 hours at the communal garden or garbage dump if I knew I had the freedom to think and read and talk about things that interested me in complete security.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
What I did on my Summer Vacation
Look upon my archival might and despair, ye weaklings! This doesn't count the boxes of loose stuff cause I couldn't bring in my camera. I love the UC system and its inter-campus interlibrary loan! Anway, I now know everything there is to know about this subject. I compiled everything in it except the thickness of the motherfucking pages.
Too bad that this type of work, while necessary to create an article, doesn't actually get measured and evaluated as work in and of itself... at least not if you don't have a camera and a blog, awww yeah.
Unfortunately, I can't put "read cubic shitloads of very boring contextual stuff" on my CV, not and have it count for anything anyway. So miles to go before I sleep and all that before this turns into something I can send out to a journal. And I really really need to do that before the job market season starts up again so that I can make it visible. At least, visible to the official, rather than the internet, academic world. You all are bowing and quaking in your boots:
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Based on our conversations and revisiting of old stomping grounds and various adventures I had many moments where I wanted to write up emails to people and really really wanted to tell them everything and see how they are doing. But right now I don't feel like doing that --- as if even emailing someone would be too draining right now. Heh. I hope to have the urge return sometime this week so I can get caught up. I love to get phone calls and emails but am a terrible sender of them myself. Plus, I often verbally or mentally respond to the email as I get it, then think I actually sent a real email, and then not only not write them back, but get all huffy that they are slacking on sending me an email. In response to my imaginary response, you know. Crazy.
I didn't keep track of what I ate on this week of insane celebration, but I saved receipts to add into my creaky old version of quicken, and man! I need to go on both a food and a money diet starting immediately. No eating out, no drinking, as little spending as possible. Whoo! It was crazy --- a couple days I ended up buying food out for all my meals plus snacks! (It involved trying to get my friend places she needed to go and otherwise put out fires, then it was combined with laziness and the lack of a packed lunch to bring along with me. So, as is usual for me about once every three-four months I hereby declare it to be a New Year and am officially Turning Oveer a New Leaf, rededicating myself to the cause, as it were.
That's all I've got. I may tell you some stories of the (obnoxious and bro-ish) people who populate Cool Scientist Friend's department, but I also may be over that and just put them out of my mind. I will just say that the stupid sexist crap you see in an English department is nothing compared to what goes on in some of the other, more science-y, disciplines.
Ok, back to the hermit cave. Whoo-hoo!
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Visit Update 2
Last night Cool Scientist Friend mentioned something about maybe she should try sleeping in her car. Wha??? :( Turns out that if you are not used to cats, them creeping up to you and tickling you with their whiskers, trying to determine what the hell you are, is startling. And if it happens a lot per night you lose sleep. Oh no, we can keep the cats in my room, I say, gathering their food and water and litterbox. And hopefully you will sleep better without them walking all over you.
And that was fine. Actually, as soon as it became clear I was in the room and the door was shut, the cats came out from hiding under the covers and started acting like their normal selves, nosing about, leaping all over things, sometimes scrabbling at the door. But overall it seemed to be fine.
Except I can't go through the night without needing to pee at some point. It must have been around 3 am and I decide to get up. I creep out, shooing the cats from the doorway, and close the bedroom door. I can't get it to "click" but it seems closed all right. So I use the bathroom, without bothering to lock the door. Partway through the door creaks and I see little Timido's head poke in. Oh crap! So when I'm all done and washed up I grab him and cart him with me back to the bedroom and toss him in. And then start to look around in the dark living room. If Timido came out, Loquito must be out there, preparing to make trouble and investigate the strange person.
I see a glimpse of white and go after him, and try to pick him up, but he sinks his claws into the carpet. I've got a hold of him under the belly and I pull, but he doesn't go anywhere, just gets longer and longer like taffy, holding on with his claws. And suddenly this whole situation is hilarious to me and I dissolve into giggles. You know the kind where knowing you can't be making any noise makes you laugh a million times harder? So I'm laughing so hard that I can't hold on to the cat any more, stifling myself, and all these weird little sighs and snorts are escaping me even though I've got my hands over my mouth and I'm trying to corral my cat with my knees, and I'm just laughing harder and harder, thinking, What the hell will CSF think when this wakes her up? How freaked out is she going to be?
Luckily I manage to get my self and my cat under control and we head back to the bedroom, where everybody finishes up the night mostly behaving themselves. And luckily CSF found it hilarious when I acted out my little adventure for her the next morning.
In other news, I think we're going to try to hit all the old favorites and eat out as much as possible. Aww yeah! Tonight will be either Thai or Italian. We may need to save the Italian place with great wine until after she files. Mmm!
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Visit Update 1
So, since I had to be quiet, I grabbed a book off my huge stack of books-I-bought-compulsively-in-a-bookstore-and-now-have-way-too-many-to-ever-catch-up. I'm about halfway through Toni Morrison's Paradise right now and I have to say I am totally rocked. I am always so confused and lost, in a good way, when I read Morrison. She has such a gift for making you think you are figuring out what is going on, then dropping some more details that leave you trying to figure out the actual situation and totally loving the suspense. I know I'm going to have to turn it over the moment I hit the last page and start reading it again so that I can actually put all the pieces together. That's such a great feeling. For some reason it reminds me of In Cold Blood, which I think I read last summer.
Anyway, back to my actual work reading ancilliary stuff for my article. It does not have the same engrossing qualities as Morrison, I must say. :-)
Monday, August 17, 2009
Countdown to Guacamole
I'm a little worried how the cats will get along with someone else here and with unfolding the sofabed and whatnot, but it will all work out for the best, I'm sure. It would be better if CSF loathed cats a little bit less but she at least knows what she is getting into. The cats are napping here peacefully with no inkling of what's going to happen. Cross your fingers that they don't try to get too friendly with CSF and that they won't discover the joys of revenge peeing either.
I suppose with that, I should get back to work. Ignore the seductive sounds of the cats snoozing away all comfy and get... back ... to ... (yawn) ... wor
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Guilt on the line
Seriously people. I keep telling you that I have enough money to get by right now and just do my writing. Why do you have to raise my anxiety level and make me feel like OMG I need to apply to McDonalds right now tonight to cover the rent OMG OMG where's my health care and retirement savings wow what a total loozer OMG!
I can't talk to them right now without feeling like a total failure. And I think this is a game I can't win --- if I get some sort of full-time job they'd move right up the pyramid to my savings and retirement and down payment on a house and getting a husband for the proper production of 2.5 children.
Last time I called them I felt so crappy --- I think I said this before ---- that I couldn't make myself write, couldn't get out of bed, spent hours staring at crappy part time want ads for receptionists and telemarketers with loathing. I just want to cry.
*that's what they call academic articles. And they know that they're not fiction, but maybe they are thinking that it works in the level of newspaper stories, because they do not understand that these things have a slow turnaround at all.
Friday, August 14, 2009
After a long period of struggle in the clutches of my captor, I was only able to free myself enough to move him from one side of my lap to the other. Witness the inhumanity!:
Worst of all was the fiendish glee this hellion seemed to take in my imprisonment:
In truth it was lucky I even got out alive. I should be thankful for my rescue and think the many hours of lost library work a small price to pay for my eventual liberty.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
History department people: is there a single centralized database that indexes most of your journals and is the "go-to" place for starting an article search, like English has the MLA?
I know I have some art history readers and would be interested to hear if they have a specific centralized search database too.
PS --- is it just not common to use the MLA database (whether through Lion or Siverplatter or CSA or whatever --- I know our library switches every couple years for some reason) for searches anymore? Is it now better or just totally normal to browse JSTOR instead? One of the grad students I know was watching me search on the MLA database and was totally intrigued "ooh what's that?" she asked. And had never heard of it's existence And she's ABD, so I look at her a little askance. She's the one who I had troubles with last year of not recognizing the values of discretion and repeating our conversations to our boss, so I was thinking it's another sign of her not being quite all there, but then, I've been totally disconnected from everything for a couple years now and it could just be that I am no longer cutting edge.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Random Bullets Of Nothing in Particular to Report
- Life, friends, is boring.
- We must not say so.
- I've been working, sitting around, and working some more. This summer will go down as being a very low face-time contact sort of summer. Eh.
- I bought a bag of Trader Joe's Spicy Flaxseed and Soy tortilla chips, which is a tragedy. They make me rather ill (flaxseed can do that to you, that and the fiber overload) and yet they are tortilla chips. I bought them becuase they were the only things in the TJ store coated with that ever-so-addicting fake spicy dust crap. So even though they are not so great, and make me ill, I ate half the bag last night. Today I have had some and probably will not stop until the bag is gone by the end of the night, regardless of whether I am hungry. It's just the way I am with chips and salsa stuff. Whatever. I'll just go back to my usual strategy of not bringing it into the house.
- I've been very good about putting full days into working, reading my stuff, combing the sources. I may even be able to train myself out of my need for a midafternoon nap.
- Unfortunately, I am moving slower through this list of stuff to read than I'd like (isn't it always the case?) Even with putting in full days. I want to get through it all and then have a brilliant brainstorm and get my new article all written up so I can send it out before I do the job market and I can list it on my cv. Sometimes I try to add up the time left and worry that I won't be able to do it. Then I end up sitting around and worrying. I've decided my best coping strategy is just to not think about it at all right now. Just read through the list of stuff as fast as I can.
- That doesn't mean I'm reading the book I brought home today right now does it? Heh.
- Also, all the blogs I read are not updating enough. I need some interesting developments, or at least fun and light fluff, to occupy me in the evenings. Get posting!
- Oddly enough, while working all day makes me really crave reading peoples' blogs at night, it does not induce any desire in me to write a post, hence the slow blogging right now.
- What else?
- It's been kinda blah and gray around here, but if the weather gets nicer maybe I'll go over to the beach. Or take a nice hike.
- I always say that, and then I end up sitting around not really doing anything all weekend. Inertia, thy name is Cog!
- I have been going to my spin class regularly though ---- I so need the structure of a class! They keep changing up the format so that I am miserable each and every time, which I never would do, and they always push me --- you should see how lightly I work out on my own. One of the instructors (they rotate) plays music I like, too, music that I don't know (others, I will admit, play pop crap I don't want to listen to, but whatever.) Sometimes she plays electronica ---- like this or this ---- that can totally shut my brain off in a cool way. Like I stop thinking completely. No brain. It's great! Of course, she always fights against it and is pushing for me to "stay present" and really be in the moment because you get the best workout that way. Maybe I should take up meditation. Heh.
- Still no clue what is up for Fall yet. I'm hoping to get something set up that will be the optimum mix of structure and sociability and free time to get all my writing and job-applying done.
- Mmm. Not gonna think about that now, that's for sure. I do not need to hyperventilate over that this evening.
- PS the cats say hi. They are as annoying and cute as usual. Maybe you need some cat pics?
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Starving the UC Budget Link Roundup, WTF Edition
Everyone knows by now that the University of California is undergoing a major budget crisis --- at least that is what the UC leadership want to claim. The total budget for the UCs runs at approximately 19 Billion dollars --- about 3 Billion of which usually comes from the state and which the state is cutting down to 2.63 Billion for 2009-2010. (link)
As protesters at various levels within the UC, from students to staff to faculty, have pointed out, those cuts don't look like a lot when figured into the overall operating budget, especially considering so much of the cuts are going where they directly hurt students the most (besides the fee increases, courses usually taught by adjuncts are being cut completely and those by tenured faculty are being reorganized into large lecture classes. I hear things about how my former department, for example, is trying to figure out the feasibility of switching upper division courses into large lecture format with TAs, and eliminating TAs from the lower-division courses. Imagine, if you please, a Shakespeare course in the largest auditorium you can find graded solely by scantrons and clickers! The mind boggles.).
The UC administration, on its part, argues in a PDF titled "The UC Budget Myths and Facts" (I can't find a direct link, see the download page here) that most of these revenues are restricted and can't be transferred across categories, or, as it so bluntly sums up, "A federal grant for laser beam research can't be used to fund a deficit in the English department." As if English departments, which funnel large numbers of students through the university and have low operating expenses are the problem here.
Having drummed up a huge level of anxiety across the state for months now, garnered numerous national headlines and attention from all the major news sources, the UC --- lead by President Mark Yudoff, about whom I have ranted already here --- announced a tiered system of furloughs:
UC President Mark Yudof has proposed using the following formula to close an $813 million gap in state funding.
40 percent -- Campus layoffs and program cuts statewide
25 percent -- Student fee increases
25 percent -- Employee furloughs
10 percent -- Restructuring debt and other cost controls
Yudof's plan for furlough days would be progressive, meaning lower-paid employees would experience a lower percentage of furlough days and lower percent of lost income compared to high wage earners. Here's Yudof's proposal:
$40,000 and under -- 11 furlough days -- 4 percent of income
$40,001-$46,000 -- 13 furlough days -- 5 percent of income
$46,001-60,000 -- 16 furlough days -- 6 percent of income
$60,001-$90,000 -- 18 furlough days -- 7 percent of income
$90,001-$180,000 -- 21 furlough days -- 8 percent of income
$180,001-$240,000 -- 24 furlough days -- 9 percent of income
$240,000 and above -- 26 furlough days -- 10 percent of income
Source: UC Office of the President
So I'm looking at this whole situation, knowing that the majority of the regents were appointed by our Republican Governor Arnold, and looking at the appointment of Yudoff, who some people argued at the time deserved his enormously bloated salary because he was brought in to do the unenviable job of being a hatchet man (hatcheting who, I'd ask now, because the majority of the top-level positions he promised to eliminate never got eliminated), I say, I'm looking at this whole situation and wondering exactly how much of a conspiracy is going on here.
Is this just a classic instance of the Republican playbook for privatization, or maybe following Grover Norquist's plan to starve the beast until government is small enough to drown in the bathtub? Was all this strategized out long in advance? I mean, I know Republican ideology is that only people who can pay for things for themselves are worthy of being supported in any way and that paying for services is better than public services, but this way of thinking is so foreign to me I can't understand why anyone would want. Especially for a public university system. Wealthy Republicans in CA who don't want the stink of public school on em have Stanford and USC in arm's reach if that's what they're after.
After all, no sooner did the Regents vote Yudoff his emergency powers (maybe this is the Bush 9-11 playbook) and he implemented these furloughs and cuts and student fee hikes, this and this were announced:
On the same July day that the UC Board of Regents cut $813 million from UC budgets - setting in motion pay cuts, layoffs and campus cutbacks - the board quietly approved pay raises, stipends and other benefits for more than two dozen executives.and then this too:
"These are outrageous actions, taken at the same time as UC has been pleading poverty, giving layoff notices, forcing staff and faculty to take furloughs and hinting at more student fee increases," said library assistant Kathy Renfro, chairwoman of the UC Berkeley Labor Coalition.****
New positions have also been created at UCSF - "chief quality officer" and "vice chancellor of research" - with potential salaries between $239,700 and $420,100, plus benefits.
On July 16, the regents also approved requests from other campuses to pay new deans and vice chancellors higher salaries than their predecessors had earned, on grounds that this was needed to attract the brightest leaders. The regents referred to the changes as "re-slotting," rather than as raises.
The cash-strapped University of California - forced to lay off employees, cut pay and offer fewer classes because of deep cuts in state funding - has now agreed to lend the state nearly $200 million.
In turn, the state will pay UC back over three years with 3.2 percent interest and will use the money specifically to help UC get its bulldozers moving again on several stalled capital projects at eight of its 10 campuses across the state.***
To get around the problem, UC took cues from other agencies such as Bay Area Toll Authority and Solano County. With better credit ratings than the state, the agencies borrowed money themselves in the public markets. They loaned the money to the state, which gave the money right back to them to pay for voter-approved infrastructure projects.
UC will lend $199.8 million to the state, which in turn will use the money to pay for voter-approved construction projects at UC campuses. In brief, here is how UC will spend the money:
UCSF: New classrooms and expansion of telemedicine services at the Parnassus campus and at San Francisco General Hospital. $32.4 million.
UC Davis: New four-story Telemedicine Resource Center. $35.1 million.
UC Santa Cruz: New five-story Biomedical Sciences Facility - $64.4 million - and a new Digital Arts Facility - $1 million.
UCLA: Expanded telemedicine services and medical facilities. $19.2 million.
UC Irvine: New biology, engineering and computer science equipment. $6.2 million.
UC Riverside: Equipment for a new science and technology building. $4.6 million.
UC San Diego: New medical training center - $32.7 million - plus expanded telemedicine services and new equipment for a music center. $1.6 million.
UC Santa Barbara: Education and social sciences equipment. $2.6 million.
If you wanted to be head of the largest and most expensive medical facility on the West Coast, Mr. Yudoff, why don't you just spin the damn things off to be completely private (see the dark blue part of the pie chart) and leave us poor students and teachers alone? You can run things as corporate-AIG-style as you want. But the true heart of education is the interaction of student and teacher. I don't see any difference between an 800-student lecture on Shakespeare and watching Shakespeare clips at home on YouTube. Oh wait, yes I do. YouTube won't cost undergrads 9 grand a year.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
I am stupendous and magnificent!
In other news, yesterday I went into the library and, after chasing around a bit jumping through some administrative hoops, I worked. If you count the time I spent enticing administrators to do things for me (both necessary to get my work done and a vital academic skill in general), I put in an entire 9-5, office-life-style workday, minus a nap. It felt weird, btw, as it always does, to come in with rush hour and leave at rush hour and feel like I am in a "regular" clock-punching type job.
Today however, I am very tired and sluggish. And I have yet to do any work. I don't know if it's the heat or that I slept badly for some other reason or it's because in spin class today they made us do an "endurance ride" and I am just wiped out from trying to lower my heart rate while exerting myself, but I am very sleepy and unable to concentrate. In fact, I haven't even tried to concentrate yet today. Heh. I can barely read the paper this morning or a blog post, that's what I'm talking about with concentrating. Oh, and because of the heat and inertia I haven't had coffee today, only cokes, so I'm sure the difference in caffeine levels is a contributing factor.
I could take a nap, or I could load up on caffeine, but I'm trying to be careful and not reset my sleep patterns which are so delicate and hard for me to keep under control. So, no more caffeine or naps at this point: I want to make sure I am tired and sleepy tonight and this means I'm kinda sitting here in a fog this afternoon.
So I think I'm just giving myself the day off and I hope that after a good night's sleep and no spin class I will be able to go in and really make progress on my article tomorrow. Unless I can think of something mindless like photocopying I could do right now ... I'm drawing a blank. Ah well.
Totally unrelated, I have discovered that I have ---- well, ok, first of all I realized that I have only had ice cream once this entire summer, due to my attempt at a diet. And have I lost any weight? No! So screw it --- anyone who remembers previous summers on this blog knows that I love food and I love walking around town and then getting ice cream of an evening.
So, the other night, that's what I did. And I was one of those annoying people who asks for little sample tastes of 8 zillion different flavors --- I swear there was not a line behind me, though. I'm not that bad. But while the lemon and blueberry crisp and French strawberry and bananas foster flavors all were rich and delicious, I didn't want them. Turns out I have a flavor rule when it comes to ice cream: fruit flavors must be eaten during the day, in sunlight, and only when it is extremely hot, whereas chocolate-based flavors or chocolate chip mint are officially "year-round" flavors that can be eaten when it is cold or at night. I had no clue I had formed an entire ice cream philosophy, but there it is!
I had the mint chip, btw.
Monday, August 3, 2009
I've been doing a lot of sitting around, but really that hasn't been very pleasurable. I feel rather purposeless.
It might be just part of summer in general --- I had a rough patch right at the beginning of summer but then settled into a routine that involved both writing and seeing people --- or it might be that being unemployed is wearing on me. You'd think that having enough money set aside to focus on your writing for a little while before you need to get a job again would be relaxing and freeing. You'd be wrong.
My family was giving me shit for a while there, what with Countdowns to Productivity on every phone call and the repeated questioning of how soon the money would run out before I need a job functioning as nagging to go out and get one early, despite their claims otherwise. I found I felt much better just not contacting them right now; I don't need to hear it. And I don't need to spend hours and hours of my day poring over the want ads but then not applying for anything each time I hang up the phone with them, so I'm avoiding them. Really, I got a lot more work done and was a lot happier as soon as I did.
But now I've slipped back into doing nothing, floating through my days. Call me an unspontaneous killjoy, as roommates have in the past, but I need a pretty structured schedule.
The problem isn't that I have nothing to do but that I have an immense list of things to do and no real structure or deadline for doing them, other than "check the MLA list when it comes back up for fall." I have a lot of stuff that needs to be done before that checkpoint but really I've run out of the energy to shepherd myself through it and put in the daily effort to get all the bits together now with an empty schedule that opens up like an abyss --- no one to see any particular day, nothing to hand over to anyone, nobody to care whether this stuff gets written or revised or sent out or whatever.
See that blurry box up in the top corner of the picture there? That's the infamous bag of tools that the astronaut let get away out on spacewalk a while back. That soooo would be me, if I were up there. Or even if I were me down here.
Anyways, I feel like there's not really much point in anything right now, and then I feel bad for wasting valuable time that I don't have to work a shit job in --- you could say I have funded my own fellowship, as it were. Nobody else ever seems to give 'em to me. The problem is feeling guilty for not having written anything does not actually help to make you start writing things.
It doesn't help that I feel like the past year never happened and that I am still a grad student --- who the hell sits around and mopes rather than going to work anyway? If she had finished she would be frantically packing and prepping to move, to go off to her postdoc or job. If she filed and had no job, where is her alternate career and why isn't she punching a clock in an office somewhere?
When I go on campus everyone asks me how the dissertation is going. I've had multiple friends on facebook cheer me on that I will soon be able to think about filing. My advisor asked me if I would be done in time for the market this year or will she have to fudge her letters.
People, I filed the dissertation almost exactly a year ago. You are not helping me feel like I have accomplished anything or am getting anywhere.
I think I once wrote asking for advice about whether it is better to plan the end of grad school around a trial run or a gap year on the market. I now find the whole question laughable, as I did two or three trial runs, depending on how you count them, did a postdoc, and now am embarking on a true gap of a "gap year." As in, the CA community colleges and UCs are simply going to not let people enroll instead of offer people like me the possibility to adjunct. As in, I overheard three people in the coffee shop trying to get application forms. Turns out they are certified teachers laid off from the district. As in, the temp employment agencies in the area all have "for lease" signs in their empty windows. As in, it may be years before I hear back about any of these articles I have sent out into outer space, far too late to affect the job search.
Sigh. Yeah, I think the cat picture worked better.