Sunday, November 30, 2008

it's snowing

Our first snow of the season is falling. It's light and won't stay around for long (the ground is probably still too warm) but it's beautiful as it's coming down. So, it's officially the season of winter here after having 80 degree weather only a few weeks ago.

Thanksgiving was a great holiday with the family and also in accomplishing numerous tasks around the farm that I needed help completing. Only the wet weather yesterday slowed us down because it wasn't conducive to getting out the chainsaw.

I have some grading to do before tomorrow as well as some writing but the end of the semester is in sight.

Two football games I watched this week were interesting and spoiled me for watching any the rest of the year - the Arkansas game and the KU/MU game.

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

The turkey and stuffing are in the oven. The stuffing from inside the turkey is still my favorite.

This time last year I was very sad since I had had to say goodbye to my Shadow - my dog of 13 years who saw me through many life changes. In retrospect, I know it was time for him to go even though he as a hardy little trooper until the end.

Molly has now joined the family and has been with me for about 6 months. We're still both figuring each other out. I seem to always adopt somewhat stubborn dogs - a trait they share with their owner and which has both its good sides and its down sides. She's not sure what is going on in this morning but knows the routine is different. Poor girl doesn't know several other family members will be showing up in a few hours.

Yesterday, I learned what a sewage grinder pump is and had to run down to Ace Hardware to get one since it's not something the plumbers carry on their truck. Luckily, I didn't have to try to get the septic system cleaned out the day before a holiday - but that will be on my list over the next few weeks.

Mom is interested in staying more than one day so that is good. I am truly worried that this is our last year with her. I hope I am worrying for nothing. But, now that she is in her 70s and she is increasingly homebound by choice, I have to keep reminding myself as the adult child that these are her decisions. I still think a lot of her health issues are stress-related - that's why there has been no real cure. Much of my family internalizes too much stress and she is sadly the epitome of that. She pushed herself so hard for decades - in many ways she was a single mom given Dad's work being on the road 50,000 miles (driving) each year. And, she just wore out. Plus, she's decided she just has to do what she wants to do and not what anyone else thinks she has to do - something I wish I had learned earlier. (I'm still internalizing it, however.)

I'm watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade knowing that I'll be back in the Big Apple in just a short month. Hopefully the weather won't be too dreadful but New Years Eve will certainly be fun.

Today I'm thankful for health, family, friends, a job and a career, and the fact that we haven't suffered another 9/11 for over 7 years now. While not all of my friends may agree, I thank the Bush Administration for that and hopefully the new administration will continue that success. And, thanks for the troops protecting us around the world.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

"type" via NK

ISTJ - The Duty Fulfillers
The responsible and hardworking type. They are especially attuned to the details of life and are careful about getting the facts right. Conservative by nature they are often reluctant to take any risks whatsoever.

The Duty Fulfillers are happy to be let alone and to be able to work int heir own pace. They know what they have to do and how to do it.

You can try this here. Thanks, NK!

Friday, November 21, 2008


especially as I choose not to engage in childish politics.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Student Assessment

The debate continues - how to effective implement assessment of student learning. This Chronicle of Higher Ed news item explains explains another "new call" for assessment at the college and university levels. Although outgoing Secretary of Education Spellings (and, apparently maybe sooner rather than later) tried to issue this call, there was enough "movement" from the usual crowds to go around it - at least for now.

Ultimately, the accountability measurements (data, data, data) that was first utilized in the business world will be inside our house and not just on our doorsteps. As I asked our dean earlier this semester, "So, isn't all the data and analysis that is downstairs (we're in the main administration building) in the institutional research office something we can no longer ignore and something we will have to start dealing with more effectively?"

I think it surprised my dean that I was this aware. On the other hand, I'm not sure how many of my colleagues understood what I really meant. More than one has spent a career fighting _against_ anything from outside the department (and sometimes within :-) ).

If you follow the comments on the first Chronicle article above, you'll see the usual back and forth between administrator view and faculty view. The reality is somewhere in the middle. And, as I've believed for over a decade, if we as faculty do not get a handle on this, we will be told what handle to hang on to as we go along for the ride to meet the demands of more accountability to the outside world. Sadly, some of our colleagues at institutions with the resources to actually accomplish this, continue in large part to ignore it given their major emphasis on discipline research and not on the larger world of our responsibility to taxpayers, parents, and students. And, some of what happens in the world of teacher education is workable but not necessarily all of it.

Of course, more thoughts are brewing but it's time to get some grading done.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Yes, the semester . . ..

What do you (mostly) use your office for?
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Study of Student Entitlement. The SHOCKING Results.

'Entitled' students expect good marks
by Shannon Proudfoot
Canwest News Service

Most university students believe that if they're "trying hard," a professor should reconsider their grade. One-third say that if they attend most of the classes for a course, they deserve at least a B, while almost one-quarter "think poorly" of professors who don't reply to e-mails the same day they're sent.

Those are among the revelations in a newly published study examining students' sense of academic entitlement, or the mentality that enrolling in post-secondary education is akin to shopping in a store where the customer is always right.

The study asked approximately 400 undergraduates aged 18 to 25 whether they agreed with these statements:

* If I have explained to my professor that I am trying hard, I think he/she should give me some consideration with respect to my course grade - 66.2 per cent agree

* If I have completed most of the reading for a class, I deserve a B in that course - 40.7 per cent

* If I have attended most of the classes for a course, I deserve at least a grade of B - 34.1 per cent

* Teachers often give me lower grades than I deserve on paper assignments - 31.5 per cent

* Professors who won’t let me take my exams at another time because of my personal plans (e.g. a vacation) are too strict - 29.9 per cent

* A professor should be willing to lend me his/her course notes if I ask for them - 24.8 per cent

* I would think poorly of a professor who didn’t respond the same day to an e-mail I sent - 23.5 per cent

* Professors have no right to be annoyed with me if I tend to come late to class or tend to leave early - 16.8 per cent

* A professor should not be annoyed with me if I receive an important call during class - 16.5 per cent

* A professor should be willing to meet with me at a time that works best for me, even if inconvenient for the professor - 11.2 per cent.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The week begins

The students who presented yesterday all continued to improve and are almost ready for student teaching next semester.

I still find it interesting that when you email students two weeks ahead of time suggesting their options for what courses to take in the upcoming semester, they still wait until a few hours before their enrollment windows open to check to see if they can come by to talk to you more. (Hint: It's time to start making some of these decisions on your own. I'll be glad to put together your entire schedule but you won't like that it includes courses before 10 am . . . . :-) .) I wish there were way to help them understand that they are actually adults when they are in college and responsibilities come along with the freedoms. Because of administrative guidelines, I do the "here's what I suggest you take at a minimum" (ie keeping in mind prerequisites - especially when they affect a string of more than 2 years of courses and, almost as important, taking required courses before options/choices from larger groups so you don't get yourself in a corner. And, while I clearly understand we can't "make them" (signatures on a piece of paper before computers didn't guarantee that either), it's their responsibility to understand that they can easily prolong their stay at the university if they choose not to. We know their brains aren't always fully developed on the "long-term" scale until they are past college age (that's actual brain research, BTW) but there is a time for them to learn consequences if they haven't yet (and most have).

It was winter cold yesterday. I'm almost ready for that but would like a few more fall days first.

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Sunday, November 09, 2008

Three Reasons

The November 17, 2008 issue of Businessweek has a column by Jack and Suzy Welch listing three reasons Obama won. All three seem quite plausible and point to strengths on the Democratic side and weaknesses in the Republican column. The authors tie this back to three principles of business leadership:

1. A clear vision

2. Clean execution

3. Friends in high places

The third principle refers primarily to the media and most definitely the media was rooting for Obama. Some were even giddy talking about the victory and the multimedia presentations were a bit over the top although I did appreciate their celebratory nature in regard to the larger picture of democratic processes at work. And, history has been made with the nation's first African-American president.

I'm considering having students in my class tomorrow write a time capsule of how they will remember this event in later years.

I also don't remember seeing "The Office of the President-Elect" as an official office before but, given the challenges and complexity of presidential transitions, maybe the time has come. That's another strength of democracy -the ability to adapt to change.

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Saturday, November 08, 2008


I headed out to the farm after I picked up Molly so that I could check on the landscaping and do any watering that might be necessary before the ground freezes. I was probably safe not having to water but am glad I came out - was able to try a new citrus stripper that actually seems to have worked on most of orange overspray from the weatherproofing a friend did last year (his workers didn't cover the windows as I asked over and over - lesson learned, they can't do work here without my being here next time since these things only seem to happen when I'm not here). I went back over everything with Glass Plus so hopefully there was no caustic residue that would cause problems later because the stripper wasn't cleanly wiped away.

The best news is that the landscaping seems to have really taken well - the ivy has "popped" like it has successfully taken root - even the pieces I moved that were growing up the side of the front porch.

The steroid shot is already showing great progress and less red itchy skin. And, of course the hydrocortisone cream. The lesson learned here is that next time I go get a cortisone shot at the urgent care clinic before I leave town - esp. for such an important meeting.

And, of course, there's always laundry

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Friday, November 07, 2008


The President-Elect is giving citizens a chance to peer into the transition here. Interesting use of technology

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Thursday, November 06, 2008

Post-Election in DC

It was interesting watching the election returns come in while in the nation's capital. However, I was disappointed with the outcome. The good news was that it was a clear and not cloudy victory.

I am trying to figure out about the concept of "change" given all the people being appointed to transition positions who came out of the Clinton administration . . . .

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Sunday, November 02, 2008

A Blast from the Past . . .

A Blast from the Past . . .

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