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RBOC — Sunday Edition

1 February, 2009

RBOC — Sunday Edition

My, it’s been a while, and I haven’t updated in forever. So here’s some random bullets of crap to tide you over.

  • I keep seeing Barack Obama on TV, magazines, newspapers, and every time, I do a double-take. He doesn’t look like a president. By that I mean, he looks like someone I’d actually want to work with and have a drink with. He looks like somebody I’d hang out with. Damn. He looks so young. Actually, he’s a little older than I am. But to me, that’s young. I wonder if this is how people in their 40s felt when JFK was elected?
  • I was going to have my cable TV cut as soon as the election was over. But I seem to have got hooked on Sunday morning news analysis. What I really need is someone to help me analyze my rapidly dwindling TIAA-CREF account. I’m never going to be able to retire. But at least I have a job. And I do need to get rid of the cable. It’s a time such I don’t need.
  • I committed filk for the first time yesterday.
  • I think it’s fairly clear that I didn’t get Dream Job. The history job wiki shows that campus interviews indeed were scheduled, and I didn’t get the golden ticket. I think I mentioned that I thought I’d totally botched the interview — both too nervous, and not nervous enough; three pages of notes and questions that I never took time to refer to because I felt terribly rushed, and also a bit worried that they thought I didn’t want it enough. Well, no. I mean, I didn’t apply because I needed a job. I didn’t apply so I could try to leverage my position at SLAC. I applied because it’s a totally fantastic place, with what appear to be great students and great faculty, a good teaching load and support for research, and the opportunity to work with one of my favourite fellow-bloggers. I admit to a deficiency in Anglo-Saxon (that never came up), but did suggest all kinds of ways my courses could fit into their larger curriculum. But whatever. No golden ticket. I’m really bummed about it, but have to say that it’s a different feeling when you don’t get the interview when you’re already employed in a job you like, working with people you like.
  • Speaking of which, life at SLAC is still kicking my ass. I’m hiding from my publisher (must write tomorrow with update). I think I will be back to work on the book this week, though. I’ve got a good teaching schedule this semester: rather than 4 classes plus a colloquium (and one new, one drastically revised prep), I have a three class schedule, two days a week. One class is a new prep, and the other is again drastically revised but it’s going well, I think. My T&P portfolio made it past the first hurdle, and I should be hearing whether it passed the second one this month. I’m hoping there are no problems. In the meantime, I’m now chair of my department and on yet another new task force which will probably end up being a time suck, but not till next year. And there are benefits to it, at least, although as with most things at SLAC, they aren’t really in tangible form, like course release or money. Having said that, I’m just now starting to feel a little less burnt out.
  • As soon as I find out about the promotion, I think I’m going to start looking for a house. I am not closing my mind to the idea of taking another job elsewhere, but it seems to me that, housing prices being what they are (there are lots of foreclosures in Dabbaville), I might actually be able to have my own place for about what I’m paying in rent, and it would certainly help me in terms of taxes. I spent about $3k last year on research trips and conference travel, and because I don’t have more than the standard deduction, I end up eating that. Also, as much as I hate moving and love my flat, I’d like not to share walls with neighbors. But again, just as I feel no need to run from my present position to a different one, I am not desperate to move unless it really makes sense.
  • My classes seem to be going pretty well this semester, and that makes me really happy. My biggest problem with SLAC is that we admit students who would likely not have a chance elsewhere, but we don’t offer remediation, nor enough tutorial support. This is reflected, I think, in our retention rates. And sadly, many of us feel that this particular message is not one that TPTB want to hear. We also have faculty who seem to think that it’s ok to ‘weed out’ the less qualified, rather than changing their teaching to help these students succeed. It’s hard. I really understand the attitude. After all, we’re supposed to be teaching at a certain level, and if we’d wanted to teach high school (or even middle school) skills, we’d be teaching in the public schools and probably making more money! But you know, once the students are in, they are people we need to teach. My larger question is how this should figure into our outcomes and assessments. I mean, one of my personal learning outcomes is that students will write clearly articulated analytical essays. But when about a third of the students can’t write a good sentence, how do we communicate this to the accreditation agencies? (I think I just found a topic for a post!)
  • I am reading a novel to review here. Bernard Cornwell’s Agincourt. Free book through blogging!
  • I really need to clean up my apartment. I’m doing laundry at the moment, and tidying and cooking come next. If I get a move on, I’ll also get my hair cut and get to the gym AND do work on the book.
  • Speaking of the gym, honestly, I’m feeling old. I really need to start strengthening the muscles that hold my hips and knees in place. And maybe start taking glucosamine?
  • And that’s me for today. I think I’ll write about assessment next. Or maybe about the circus that is being a department chair when you are the most junior person in the department (at least I’m older than half of them!)
6 Comments leave one →
  1. 2 February, 2009 2:44 pm

    Too bad about dream job but you’ll regret it much less since you did apply – and you did make the cut to get interviewed. I know it’s hard not to take it personally but you know from the other side that some individual considerations we know nothing about may have been the decision point. But, pat yourself on the back for trying!You’re brave being a department chair without tenure – most would not even attempt that.And kudos about thinking about a house – may be the best time in our lifetimes to buy as you pointed out.And, I empathize on the “feeling old”. If it fits into the budget, I highly recommend the Wii Fit – it stretches lots of muscles you forgot you had, provides some useful relaxing yoga poses, and gives you some feedback on whether you’re “positioned” correctly. The added bonus is that it’s great for stress relief and, with it in your house, you can run and do ten minutes about any time you like – even if it’s just a quick computer break.

  2. 2 February, 2009 5:18 pm

    I have friends with the Wii fit — maybe I could borrow it or play with it at their house and see how it works for me. As for the chair thing? not really a choice, but I’m trying to look on the bright side and see it as a sign of trust …

  3. 2 February, 2009 9:53 pm

    You wrote: “I committed filk for the first time yesterday.”REPENT! It’s evil! Eeeeeevil!

  4. 3 February, 2009 3:26 am

    I couldn’t help it — there was a zombie filk on Making Light!

  5. 4 February, 2009 1:38 am

    What is this filk that you write of?I’m sorry about the Dream Job, but it sounds like you’re very needed where you are. (Chair! My goodness.)

  6. 4 February, 2009 4:12 pm

    Ann — you can find filk here! Unless you meant ‘which’ filk, and then it’s at Making Light under Jim MacDonald’s Zombie thread from a few days ago.

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