Wednesday, August 29, 2012

I wanna be sedated

So yesterday I took my poor cat Timido in to the vet for his teeth cleaning. I'm glad I got it done and out of the way, but I am wondering why I didn't bring him in before classes started. Silly me, not doing all the crap on my to-do list before starting teaching again!

I had no clue that they would need to have him there when they opened at 7 am, for the process of putting him under sedation and then having enough time for him to wake up and recover for when they closed at the end of the day.

That meant that I had to get up super duper early and drop him off --- and of course since I was worrying right and left about them putting him under, I slept terribly and was anxious all day. Needless to say, I am sooo tired now. But my kitty seems to be doing fine! They said his teeth were healthy and we don't have to pull anything. He was a little groggy when I brought him back home, and wobbled about as he went and sniffed everything, but he is acting normal now.

I wish they could have sedated me instead of me having to sit around between teaching classes, worrying my ass off:

Excuse me, I have to go sing "Sheena is a punk rocker" now.

Friday, August 24, 2012

How to assess for P.I.E.

First, before you assess for PIE you must determine which sort of PIE program you are implementing. For PIE with a graham cracker crust you will need to skip these questions and instead do worksheet 67295-Schedule F for flakiness. Savory PIE will not be considered under this assessment, nor will cakes, tarts, crullers or roulades.

The first step is to return to the mission statement for your PIE and compare it to the finished product. Does your mission statement emphasize deliciousness? Or perhaps it concentrates on sweetness, piping-hotness, or freshness of the fruit. Be sure to only evaluate using the categories included in the mission statement --- a lemon meringue pie will not fulfill the criteria of a PIE exit exam that has been calibrated for a blueberry pie with whipped cream, no matter how outstanding it is, and vice versa.

Restate the intended objectives (note: perhaps it is best not to dwell on the "outcomes" once you have "inputted" this PIE) for the PIE along with the measures and criteria for determining outstanding PIE-ness. (PIE-itude?) Will you use a Likert scale for deliciousness or the number of satisfied belly pats after consumption? Will you be counting "mmm"s or assessing their loudness and duration? How will you assess for messiness and are you valuing it as a benefit or a demerit? And why didn't you bring me an extra fork? Asshole. Move over.

Next you should (smack, hmm!) develop and implement an assessment plan: how often will you be assessing (mmm) and who will be conducting this assessment --- part of the department? An outside panel of experts? Professional (turn the tin further, please) pie-makers? As this assessment plan is conducted, the assessment team should (nom) write up the results as a report and distribute the report to (smack) the proper channels. Before beginning actual assessment you should determine who would most benefit from the PIE assessment (no, more whipped cream right there) results: what institutional levels or outside accreditors would benefit from this information? What should be disseminated (urp) to the public or to those involved in the PIE process themselves? (pat, pat) How long will you store the resulting report and who should have access to it?

Also be sure (urp, smack smack) to document the strengths and weaknesses of this PIE and determine improvements that need to be made to future PIEs and the PIE program. This is very important and is called "closing the loop" or in French, pâte à choux. All good assessment programs need to have this even if it may seem irrelevant to PIEs per se.

Having given you an overview of the process, it is time to begin. What? What do you mean you don't have any PIE?!?!?!? You fucking idiot! How do you expect to assess for PIE without actually having a PIE? Completely unprofessional; (urp) I can't believe this. You should be ashamed of yourself. I'm not sure I should even let this program continue at this rate.

This post brought to you by a department meeting that did not serve food.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Tis many a slip betwixt cup and lip

My day would be easier if I wasn’t trying to slice up roasted coffee beans with a knife. 

Let me explain. My niece, who hates coffee, or perhaps has simply not been properly initiated into the wonderfulness that is hot bitter caffeination the morning, teaches private music lessons, and frequently gets little tokens of appreciation like Starbucks gift cards or actual coffee (I assume she gets gifts of chocolate as well but never complains about this; she’s not stupid, you know). At Christmas, she commented that she should just hand me the Starbucks gift cards (!!!OMG yes of course hand them over!!!) but I mentioned that they have some non-caffeinated smoothies and she started drinking them instead. (despair.) 

But when I went and visited the family she brought over all the actual coffee, still in its Christmasy packaging, right before I came back to my outpost in Postdoc Land. Sure, it’s probably old, but it is Peet’s! Oh, Peet’s coffee, how I love you! I have missed you here in the hinterlands! Starbucks just does not provide the same milieu of African textiles, Baroque instrumental music, and hipster pretension! My darling, my coffee, my --- wait. This isn’t pre-ground. It’s whole beans. What the fuck am I supposed to do with three, pound-bags of whole beans? 


When I went to my hippie grocery store I did not buy coffee, since, hello, I have a free supply and could therefore save money. But I also didn’t see any coffee grinders for sale in the little kitchen supplies area. On my trips to pick up cleaning supplies and printer paper and random household stuff (three different places) there were no grinders-of-beans to be found.

I contemplated those pepper shakers that grind up whole peppercorns. 

I was beginning to get annoyed. Besides, I don’t want an extra step in my regular coffee ritual and don’t want to spend money on a grinder to save money on my free coffee. My free white elephant coffee that was starting to mock me as it sat in a pile on my kitchen counter. My positively smug coffee. Chortling evilly, no doubt, as it watched me drop things and fumble about in a caffeine-deprived haze. Oh Peet's, as cruel as you are beautiful! 

When I mentioned my need for a coffee grinder to one of the postdocs, Local Kid Makes Good, things seemed to be looking up. She had one and totally understood the logic of my wanting to borrow it just for the duration of these bags. We forgot the handoff on at least three separate occasions as we went to orientations and met up with various new postdocs and old friends. 

Finally she slid a paper bag across the table of the sportsbar we met up at, all the new and old postdocs. This isn’t quite our regular haunt --- that place has pretty bad food and no hard alcohol --- but if you want to eat food while getting your drink on, this place has good heavy stuff to serve as ballast, as it were, and extend your drinking time. 

We extended our drinking time. And I had more to drink than I usually do. More than I should have. We extended our shouting about various injustices in academia past midnight. We argued about bad pop music and the difference between “Full House” and “Family Ties” into the wee hours. By the end, we had degenerated into mere “Nuh uh!” “Uh huh!” and grunting. 

The next day, I ate toast and called the bar: 

“Mumblemumblemumble _____’s Bar. Last name?”
“Uh, what?”
“I’m over here by the stack of tabs that hasn’t been cashed out. Last name?”
“Oh, uh, no. No, I have my credit card. I was wondering ... did anyone turn in a coffee grinder?”
“Uh what?”
“I’m missing my coffee grinder and...”
Long pause.
“If that’s supposed to mean something dirty...”
“No no I left a brown paper bag behind on the table I was at and wondered if someone had picked it up? It had a coffee grinder in it.”

And you know what? A blender totally doesn’t do the job.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Know Your Chicken

The other day I went to our local art and wine festival. There were crafts. There was (presumably) wine. There was a "food truck alley" where you could buy tickets for meals and the money was split between a bunch of local charities. Alas, my taco truck fajitas were kinda crappy. Perhaps I have been spoiled by the gourmet-food truck phenomenon.

I was walking around seeing the sights with my sister (who doesn't drink --- hence the lack of knowledge about what might have been served there) and we admired various crafted objects and mocked others. There is something about a local fair that really brings out the tacky in terms of crafters. Perhaps it is market driven ---- ie, people turn out in large numbers to buy incredibly ugly clutter. We usually find something for my sister-in-law, since anything covered with flowers and several non-matching country-style prints is right up her alley. We found a nice pressed-flowers picture in a frame and got it for her. Then once I got home I remembered that I had just bought her a Christmas gift when we went to Tourist Town. Dammit!

The art fair also had one really depressing wing on one street, consisting solely of local business selling dental work, window installation, and various homeowner services that you don't really want. I was glad they were segregated off on one side street (because, hello, how are you celebrating arts or crafts?) but it was a very depressing street to walk down, since everyone there was giving the hard sell and there was no one really around but us.

The highlight of my day was when we were walking down a more appropriate street (they did have some nice jewelers there in addition to tacky ones and the ones who hot-glue bottle tops on to string) and we saw some cool kitchy posters, like the old help-the-war-effort posters, except they were for urban farming and organic gardening. Cool. When I went over to ask for a postcard or businesscard, the woman interrupted me and asked if I needed a chicken tattoo.

Well, do I? Who even needs to ask???

It says "Keep 'em Flying!" but my sister and I had a discussion about whether that should actually be frying.

Anyways, you need to know your chicken, obviously, and so I will end with this completely incomprehensible video from the great 90's band Cibo Matto (go find a diff video with better sound to really get them):

Keep 'em Flying folks! Always know your chicken!

Friday, August 3, 2012

New Dilemma

Got an email begging for help from the new Fruit Studies director. They hired a lecturer soon after hiring me as a postdoc and I guess that person has just announced getting a full-time position somewhere else. Humph. Where's my 11th-hour tenure track job offer?

Anyway, this means the 5 classes that person was teaching are now in the lurch, and are packed to the gills. I've been asked to take on a 5th class, at a percentage rate of my current salary instead of a flat 500 or whatever, and the director swears that would be more money.

Hmph. I'm leaning towards taking it, just to be nice. But damn that's gonna be a lot of extra grading. It won't be any extra prep since they would hand me another section of the same Fruit Studies class (the introduction) and this is the one I have honed to a fine instrument of ... uh, frutification or whatever. Man, that metaphor fizzled out in the middle of the process.

And remember how I just went shopping and spent a lot of money I didn't have? Yeah, having some extra cash would be a big help. But that is going to make my 4-classes-intense-job-market-push-plus-research-and-revise-the-book fall schedule go up into the insane category. Damn. But on the other hand, I picked up the end of a crazy class situation last fall and survived --- and that included being completely unprepped, having people lose the graded materials and assignments, and coming in after at least four or five different subs who all promised totally different things for dealing with that prof's illness.

Maybe if I cut back on the number of little assignments for the class ... or the comp classes. But those are what whip the students into some semblance of shape! I wish I knew what was the bare number of homework assignments and in-class writing exercises that require the book I need to assign before these students get the idea they have to buy the book and actually bring it to class. Will ponder.

In other news, not only are all of the journals I thought of using word count limits of about 9,000 instead of 12,000 words, they all require MLA style, not Chicago. Grarh! I'll look around a bit more for other potential journals.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Argh blargle article rejection

Eh. Whaddaya gonna do?

Poor Floyd has been rejected --- just about exactly 6 months out --- but at least it was a very nice email rejection. They said it was very well-crafted but a bit general/generalist and it included key critical terms of the field rather than complicated them in cutting-edge snazzy ways. Hmph. I can possibly see that, although I could also argue that what the article really is doing is bringing together some subfields that never get brought together, but I think the real reason for rejection is that this is a bit of a cliquey journal and I am not "in" with anybody or anybody's grad student, and my article was not brilliant and shiny enough to overcome their inclination to not go with a new person. My Advisor --- as well as Not My Advisor --- have published in there, but only once and they are definitely on the fringes of this journal's group of "cool people."

I am not too upset. I have just been gunning for that journal and inclusion with the cool kids for a while now. Unfortunately, I just finally decided not to go to that journal's conference this year --- I don't have new stuff and I do have plenty of book chapters to revise, plus fall will be crazy enough with teaching classes and job applications without hopping on a plane and being Conferential for a week, so my plan to weasel my way into the cool kids circle is delayed yet again. It's more of a career-long goal than an immediate one, anyway. Actually, truth be told, it's mostly a "you lost my article for over a year once and then rejected it without any explanation or apology --- fuck you! I will have my revenge!" kind of thing.

So I will probably not revise or look at the article at all, and just email it out to one of the next big journals tomorrow, like Country That I Study Journal or possibly Century That I Study Journal, unless I choose The Journal of Sisyphus's Century Studies. Of course, one of the things I liked about the journal that rejected me is that it has insanely high word count limits, and Floyd is BIG. So I'll have to check if these journals have way lower word cutoffs and, I guess, pick the one that doesn't make me have to cut things. :) It's not laziness, it's planning! I still have much work to do on the book Defender of the Universe.

Also, I went shopping and spent far too much money, which was fun, so expect an update about fabulous clothes here soon.