Thursday, March 31, 2011

Spring Break--good and bad

Well, I've returned from Spring Break and then hunkered down through another week of school.  Spring Break was a mixture of hellish weather, loooong drives, and then a great few days at the end.

We drove to my parents house, which is 15 hours away. On the way there, we made the trip in two days.  We decided against flying for several reasons. 
I hate making flight arrangements
I hate paying for the flights
I hate hate hate packing--and packing is harder for flights
We wanted to bring the dog
It's nice to have a car (own that isn't rented)

The trip out was windy, but not too bad.  But the weather at my parents' house absolutely sucked. It was the coldest, dreariest weather I can remember for a March.  Snow, but not enough to sled on and too wet and heavy for good skiing.  Too cold for anything else. 

Plus, my son had a terrible stomach virus that he passed on to his dad and his grandma.  And oddly, his cousin also had a stomach virus.  So we couldn't get the kids together to play.  So we just hung out for three days, which was kind of relaxing and then pretty boring.

Finally, it was time for all of us to drive down for a big family 3-day Carnival cruise.  This was the worst point in the trip, as the weather had gotten so bad that we couldn't make it over the mountains!  More specifically, we got up to where snow chains were required. Spent 45-minutes figuring out how to put those on.  And by the time we were back on the highway, it was closed and we had to turn back!  Fortunately, there was another very out of the way route, which involved going the opposite direction and then down through the neighboring state, and back over.  So we made it in at 11pm (started at 9am).

Cruise was GREAT!  I was dubious, and it isn't something I'd ever want to do with just my S.O.  But with my aging parents plus my kids and their cousins, it was all a lot of fun.  And I ate a ton of good food.

Then we drove back the 15-hour trip in one day, which ended up taking 20 hours.  I arrived in time to get two hours of sleep before heading out to teach!

So now I have to get those 48 4-6page papers graded.  I put those off long enough.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Mini fashionista -- And gender concerns

Last week at the mall, when my daughter and I were taking a shortcut to Old Navy via Nordstrom's, we dallied a bit too long over a $38 size 6x (for girls) t-shirt (me expressing shock and mild outrage).  A sales associate approached and just spilled all over herself about the fabulous fashion show for girls coming up. 

It was hard sell.  And my daughter bought it up.

She was so so excited.  Much more excited about it than going skiing.  Or watching her brother's baseball game. Way more.  I was hoping she'd forget about it.  That used to work, but not this time, not any more.  She had committed to memory every detail and asked me about it several times a day.

Soooooooo, my daughter was in a fashion show yesterday.  It was all over in an hour.  And they served coffee and a light breakfast.  Not bad.  Plus, she is over her princess stage (mostly), and didn't go for the pink puffy dress.  She picked out a cool black and white striped dress--a play dress, which she wore with black leggings, black motorcycle boots, and a black fedora.  Coolness. 

And she was so happy! 

I could have refused to let her go.  But I liken this to letting my son play with toy guns.  If I outlawed them, he'd probably yearn for them all the more.  And it would give him something to rebel against.  He knows our value system and all is fine--no special fascination with guns, much less aggressive than his friends, etc. 

So, I'm hoping my daughter's self confidence won't become too wrapped up in beauty, body image, and fashion.  We have to make sure she knows she is valued by other, healthier, things.

Friday, March 11, 2011

I Hate Merit Evaluation Day

Like the title says, I hate merit evaluation day. I am ALWAYS on the committee that evaluates faculty performance in my department.  Raises, if there are any, are based upon this evaluation.  (We've had two years without raises).

I mostly hate it because the other tenured faculty in my department have been racking up lines on their research accomplishments through publishing edited volumes or readers or through publishing in low-profile journals.  (Untenured faculty definitely cannot take that route here).

So I'm resentful because I'm taking a different track--going for top journals (mostly) and also working on a book.  This is a very slow process, with increased likelihood of rejections.  And I'm embarrassed because I don't have much in the way of publications this year.  Actually, I have NOTHING published.  But thank goodness, I just had an article accepted at the top journal (though that won't officially count for my merit raise until 2012, when it comes out).

I have two more articles that I really, really should send out soon (even if they aren't perfect), just so I can go back to working on my book for a while.

Will I actually follow my own advice?  Maybe, maybe not.

Friday, March 4, 2011

When is Spring Break? Not soon enough.

Things were going so well this semester.  I was staying caught up.  I felt like I was doing a good job with lectures, even though one was a new prep.  I was even saying things like, "Oh wow, is it already week 7? Time is flying!"

But then, BAM.  I feel swamped with grading (gave two midterms on Tuesday).  I also have several other grading and reviewing chores stacking up.  And I still haven't sent out that paper I'm writing with the undergrad student, not to mention my other several writing projects.  Now I'm starting to turn that corner and wonder, when is this semester ever going to end?

Eeks.  I wish I could just pull an all-nighter, like I could in college and grad school.  I really could clean off my to-do list in one night, at least the grading--not the writing.  My key to publishing success has been to just keep plugging away, working on it consistently (not such a secret, really). 

And along that train of thought--I never understood about my grad students (or my friends back in grad school) who congratulate themselves on finishing a paper or chapter, by which they mean getting to the conclusion.  It is all in the editing for me.  It means little to have "finished" a paper.  The editing takes longer than the "writing." 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Update on the sock

A few days ago I posted that my dog ate my daughter's sock--just gulped it down unchewed (she's a big dog).  I was worried. If she didn't pass it out the other end, she'd need surgery.

Two days later, my son found the sock on the back porch. Yeah!  The dog had just thrown it up--all in one piece, just like it went down.

My daughter was happy to get her sock back! She's 5 and doesn't seem to understand the physical consequences of eating socks.  She also can't understand why I don't want to pop the sock in the washer so she can start wearing it again.  I get a blank look from her when I say, "But the sock was in the dog's stomach for two whole days!"