Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A Grading Haiku 4 U

deep in grading gulag
water, sunlight, and green grass
have forsaken me

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Moths, the Home Stretch, and Domestic Bliss

Okay - I've been off-blog for a week now and I'm feeling a tad disconnected from the blogosphere. But my life can be measured out in coffee spoons at the moment, so it will be a random bullet posting at the moment.

1) We have moths. Mutant moths who have attacked my beautiful new shawl (3 small-ish holes). I now have to take it and a few other pieces to Mr. Locke, my alterations whiz, and he will try to repair them. I basically just want the holes kept from unraveling. Because the pattern is so complex, it's virtually impossible to see the holes. I just want them not to get bigger. So, I have gone on a moth-hunting binge and I've taken every wool and cashmere garment I own and put them in air-tight plastic bags, each with their own block of cedar. With the shawl and my cashmere scarf (also a victim), I've put them in the freezer first to kill any of the little f*ckers that might still be on them. This is what Mr. Locke says I should do. The sad thing is that 3 of my wool sweaters that I wore on the job market (they're fine merino wool shells) are now ruined because moths have been nibbling for several years it appears. Blech!

2) I did something highly drastic to my hair, but I love it! I have gone from my old blonde highlights (which I've had since 1992) and I'm now the color "chocolate truffle" with "caramel" highlights. TD had never seen me before as a brunette (which is the hand Mother Nature actually dealt me), but he's very pleased, which is an added bonus.

3) Last class is this Tuesday, then I give an exam. I've got to grade 37 papers by Thursday. Joy.

4) TD is here for the duration and we're DEEP into nesting mode. He's currently making a pasta salad for a BBQ we're attending today. I forgot how awesome it is to see him without getting depressed on Sunday right before he leaves.

5) I got back some suggested revisions to The Article That Would Not Die But Finally Did Die the other day. They were very minor - MHRA format needs to be adhered to a bit more and I use too many passives. Also, I need to push the conclusion a bit further and maybe look at another couple of articles, but that's all she wrote!

6) In anticipation of another year out on the market (TD and I will both go out this year, but we're really hoping something works out here for him!), I've decided to peel off one more article from the Dissertation that Preceded the Egg. So, I'm calling this article, Spawn of Egg. It's not a part of the Egg anymore, but it's still interesting. I'm going to spend a couple of weeks buffing up Spawn of Egg and get that in the pipeline for this year's market. Then I'll spend the rest of the summer and the next year on the Egg proper.

7) Sadly I won't be at K'zoo this year, but I hope all my fellow medievalists have a good time! However, I'll make a pre-emptive call to anyone who's going to the NCS conference in July! I know Dr. V will be there - anyone else??

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Purring of the Prophecy...Random Hairballs of Procrastination



Okay. I'm done with that.

All that's left is for me to read and grade my grad student precis/biblios. Blech. How much to comment? How to grade? It feels like this will be a kind of "do it" grade. I will evaluate how far they are in their research at this point, but I will save the majority of my evaluation for the final paper. It's just a matter of sitting down and actually reading them, ya know?

TD is going through a rough time. He's trying to get ready to come to be with me for a long, lovely time, but he's also stressing a bit. And he's having 2 family crises at once, which is no fun. I wish I could do something to help him, but all I can do is be there for him, so here I am. One fabulous thing is that we seem to have made it through our first long-distance year going strong and I'm insanely grateful for that.

I have a weird rash underneath my wedding band. Seriously, it's red and dry and itchy and when I take the ring off, there's something that looks like a burn in the place where the ring was. Has anyone ever had this from a ring that they wear and never take off? I've cleaned the ring and I've put lotion on the area, but it doesn't seem to be going away. Now I'm not wearing the ring and it's still puffy and red. The ring's gold and I've had it for 3 years, so it's not an allergic reaction to the metal...

Any advice, jewelry hounds?

Friday, April 18, 2008

To Propose or Not To Propose...

And when to do it?

Notorious posted something on this recently and Heu Mihi has also been posting about it. It's got me thinking (or, rather, stressing) about my book proposal and when to write and when to send it out. I know that I should read Germano's book (and it's on my early summer list of things to do), but for me I'm thinking about the timing.

A little background: my book project is significantly different from my dissertation - I do have the 3 core chapters but I'm changing the focus of those (with little revision, fortunately). I'm writing a completely new chapter and an intro/methodology chapter. Then there will be an epilogue and a baby intro to the book. At least this is what I foresee at the moment. The project has also changed focus even more recently. I've jettisoned a larger issue that I will be dealing with in the epilogue rather than trying to suture it into each of my chapters. I feel like this will make a cleaner and more tightly argued book.

Okay. I've been having this conversation with a colleague of mine recently who is very close to getting a contract with a good press (she's in her 4th year on the t-t). I was saying that I think I need to have a proposal ready to circulate *NOW* and I've had some anxiety about this. She noted the differences between a book prospectus that you write, revise, and tweak for the job market, fellowship applications, etc. AND the actual book proposal (with its attendant Table of Contents, representative chapters, section on competition, etc.) One of the things she suggested is that I send out my proposal to presses when I'm only about 1-2 months away from being able to circulate the manuscript as a whole (or damn close to it). She said, if it's going to take you a year to get them the whole thing, things could change, editors sometimes leave, other similar books get published in the intervening time, etc. This makes sense to me - it's not like I will not write up and revise a prospectus in order to have a sense of the larger project as it morphs, but I feel like sending out an official proposal now would mean that if I got any nibbles, I'd have to wait a fairly long time before I could send them the whole thing to review. My goal is to have this ready by next summer (this might change once I see how much work I get done *this* summer). That would mean that the proposal would be ready to circulate in a year with the full manuscript not far behind. It would be at the first semester of my 3rd yr on the t-t.

So, I ask, what do you all think? I know that (just as there are many roads to Rome) there are many roads to monograph publication, but I'm interested in hearing about other experiences and other rationales. I feel like this one is good for me considering how much the project has changed from the dissertation, but I would really love as much feedback as I can get!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Busy, busy, busy...

Okay, so it's Papa John's for dinner *again* tonight. I know, I'm killing myself slooooowly.

But I gots a lot on my plate.

Met with the thesis plagiarist today who 1) cried, 2) had a bogus excuse, and 3) finally signed the papers so I could report it to the Dean. I was a cream puff with the sanction and didn't fail the student for the whole paper, but I've made them write the thesis again and given a grade-based sanction.

The next 3 days are crazy busy: faculty meetings, strategy lunches, two talks to attend, classes to teach, grad student precis and biblios to read and grade. Blech.

And, I leave at 6!A!M! on Friday to fly to Dutchmanlandia for the weekend. It's still pissy cold there, joy. But then the very next weekend he will be here for the rest of 2008!!!!!!! JOY!

Best of all, next weekend, we will attend the Def Leppard, Styx, REO Speedwagon concert in Detroit (neither of us live there, so it's safe to say where it is). Oh yeah, I haven't looked forward to a concert this much since New Kids on the Block came to my hometown in '88. I envision myself with teased bangs and my leather jacket screaming "pour some sugar on me...." at the top of my lungs.

TD will be very nonplussed at this tidbit of Americana, but he bought the tickets for us, so he's committed.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Random Bits of Goddamit: Teaching Edition

1) I have never been on Rate My Professors before - at all the schools I've taught at over the years. I just saw that I've finally popped up at the Dream Academy....and I have a single blue frowny face!! What the f**k??? It's from last December and for some reason it says that the comment is still under review. Why so long? Did they say horrible things that need to be censored? Now I feel like I have to justify the fact that I am a good teacher to everyone. I *know* this is just a stupid website, but none of my other junior colleagues has a frowny face. I feel annoyed and slightly hurt. On my evals from last semester I got only Very Goods and Excellents. This must have been some spiteful little insect who got a bad grade. In fact, I'm morally certain I know who it was. This self-indulgent little boy who threw a temper tantrum in the final exam because I wouldn't tell him how to answer one of the essay questions. After I'd already turned the grade in and (barely) passed him for the class, he started writing these nasty emails about how frustrated he was during the final exam, how I was unfair and awful, etc. The comment on RMP was entered in the day of the final exam for that class. That little punk. Actually, I feel better knowing that it was almost certainly him. But why is the comment still "under review" almost 5 months later? EEK.

2) I am reading thesis statements for my undergrad class and I've already found plagiarism. In their thesis statements!!! I'm a big fan of the several sentence thesis mini-paragraph and so I've given the class instructions on how to construct a thesis. Most of them aren't bad, I must say. But then I saw the tell-tale "cut-and-pasted-from-the-internet-quotation-marks" and I knew I'd caught one. She had taken swathes of her mini-paragraph from some free term paper website; and the rest she'd cut and pasted from a 1991 published journal article that the author had put online! I'm going to report her and fail her for the assignment. I'm debating whether or not to fail her for the entire paper. If I hadn't caught the plagiarism, I have no doubt she would have turned in an entire plagiarized paper - my Chair agrees.

3) I've also recently failed 2 students for my course because they didn't bother to show up for the last exam. Now, I know I'm sounding like a total hardass lately and I really am usually not that bad. But, here's the situation. I have 39 students. On the syllabus, it says that all coursework (excluding quizzes) must be completed in order for the student to pass the class. That means 3 exams and a paper. Okay. I also have a policy that if you have to miss an exam or something after your first 3 free absences, that you have to bring a doctor's note with the date of the exam or missed class on it that says that the student was too sick to come to the exam or class that day. Seems reasonable, no? Okay. I give an exam and 2 students don't show up. Back to the office and no emails explaining why, nothing. So, I email them (this is a Thursday) and ask if everything's all right because they didn't show up for the test. Nothing. No response. Finally, SUNDAY, one of the kids decides to email me a one line email - no greeting, no "I'm really sorry", no signature: "I didn't know we had an exam and I overslept. How can I make this up?"


So, I emailed back and said, "Sorry, I don't give make-up exams for students who oversleep. We talked about the exam in the previous class, which you attended, and the exam is listed on the syllabus. Therefore, you will get a zero. And this brings us to another problem. The course policy is that all work must be completed in order to pass. So, you'll be failing the class." Now, I personally don't think my policies are that frickin' strict or unreasonable. If this kid had gotten up at 2pm or whatever time he'd rolled out of bed, gone to the doctor with a trumped up illness and gotten a note, I WOULD HAVE ACCEPTED IT AND GIVEN HIM A MAKE-UP!! He didn't even bother to email me back for 4 days and then dropped this condescending, totally above it all email into my lap, expecting me to accommodate him. F**K THAT!

(for those of you who can't tell, I'm working myself into a frothing-frenzy of annoyance and righteous indignation).

Then I get a final snide response from him saying: "Well, that was a total waste of 20 hours of my life."

(Breathe, MW, breathe.....*seething*....*seething*.....)

The girl who didn't show up never emailed me back and came to class the next week and said that she'd been "really out of it". I asked if she'd been sick and if she went to see the doctor? "No," she says, "but my roommate gave me strep throat." I said, "Did you go get antibiotics for it?" "No." "Then you didn't have strep throat. You'd be running a horrible fever right now, not be able to swallow, and wouldn't be standing here telling me you were 'out of it'." So, I told her the bad news and she just hasn't showed up since.

If I'm going to have class policies, I have to enforce them, yes? Also, my policies are CARBON COPIES of at least 10 of my other colleagues! These students all just think the rules do not apply to them and they're dumbfounded when they realize that, yes, indeed, they do.

ARGH! I feel lately like I'm having to justify my teaching constantly.

And all I have is a single blue frowny face.

For giving an exam that "upset and demoralized" the student (and that's a direct quote).


Friday, April 4, 2008

In Grading Jail

Do not pass "go"; do not collect $200...

By the way, when do we get those checks from Bushy? I could use an extra $600 right now...

I am under a mountain of present and impending grading: undergrad exams, undergrad thesis statements, gradute student precis and annotated biblios.

Oh my.

I should just bite the bullet and have a standing order at Papa John's. There's nothing for grading except pizza and The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

What a Friday night, huh??