Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Time Off

After nearly three weeks of continuous paper grading, I finally had two days clear.  Luckily, a delivery of books from Amazon came to suck up the time.

My son asked for some books for his birthday--an Ursula K. LeGuin trilogy and The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett.  I sent the LeGuin trilogy, but received the Pratchett book later.  Since I'd been thinking about reading Pratchett--his Discworld series is popular--I ordered A Hatful of Sky for me.  That, unfortunately, is the second in a series of three books about a witch named Tiffany Aching.  I liked it so much I ordered three other Pratchett books--The Wee Free Men, Wintersmith,  and Good Omens, a book he wrote with Neil Gaiman. 

I finished The Wee Free Men at 3am this morning; I began Wintersmith today.  I've also managed to wash clothes, sweep the entire house, and put the French bread dough on to rise. 

So, why do I feel guilty?  Guilty, you ask? 

As I'm reading my novels, cleaning my house, etc., in the back of my mind, I hear this little voice saying, "You need to be working on coursework.  You have sections to update, schedules to amend, students to pester; the next semester begins in January--it's already October!  Get to work!"

I need to kick my type A gene to the curb.  I work 15 to 18 hours a day, most days; even when I teach on campus, I come home and hit the computer.  My sense of duty/obligation needs to leave me alone for a while so I can enjoy a good book or two or three.  I also have two manuscripts written by my friends that I've been reading, and I have my own writing to ponder.  It's not as if I goof off that often, if one could call "reading" "goofing off."  It's not (she said, defensively).  And NaNoWriMo begins Nov. 1, so I'll have that added, self-imposed pressure. 

I'm trying to convince my workaholic self that I need time off...working all day every day gets tiring.  And I find that I make more mistakes when I don't take time to recharge.  When I'm in work mode all the time, I can' slow down or stop.  I think that's wrong. 

I need to relax.  I'm working on it.

Friday, October 23, 2009

That was the week that was...

I'm behind on my posting, but I've been dealing with midterms, specifically midterm exams.  I gave two.  One went off without a hitch; the other didn't.

I updated my course site with a midterm for my freshmen. I saved it and displayed it in Moodle, and it looked fine to me.

I started grading those midterms Tuesday and became increasingly frustrated because the students weren't following my directions.

I sent the midterms back with a remonstrance.  And then my students started emailing me, protesting my severe grading.  I checked the midterm.  It was not the midterm I posted, but a midterm from the spring.  The date on the exam was March 9; not one student emailed me to ask me if that was the correct exam.  Not one.

I threw the exam grades out.  Regardless of whose fault (I blame Moodle) it was, I wasn't going back to regrade those papers.  It took me two days to grade them the first time, and I don't want to read them again.  The sad thing is removing the grade didn't not impact midterm grades significantly.   

But I learned something.  Always change the filename before you upload it.  Then you'll know that the file you want someone to see is the one he does see.


Okay.  This is how I sprained my ankle.

I worked out in the yard last Saturday for several hours, weeding and planting my "fence" garden.  Here's a picture:


When I did what I set out to do, I came in the house to get a cup of coffee.

I opened the door from the living room to the garage to go back outside.  I have three steps leading down (or up).  I turned sideways to close the door, then proceeded to bounce down those three concrete steps.  I had to sit there in a puddle of coffee for about five minutes before I could move.  I hoisted myself up the stairs butt first and managed to drag myself into the living room.  I couldn't stand up for about 10 minutes; I was too shaken and too wobbly.  My left ankle swelled a great deal.  It's still swollen, and it hurts once in a while, but ice and an ace bandage help.

The coffee cup did not break, just in case you're wondering.

I cannot tell you, really, how it happened.  It just did.  I'm hobbling, but at least I'm moving around and I didn't break anything, as far as I can tell.

Here's what it looked like a week ago:


I'm not taking off the ace bandage to show you what it looks like today!  That hurts too much.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Break? What Break?

I'm sure my students are screaming, too.  If I didn't have a meeting on Monday, Oct. 19, I'd have six days of not having to leave the house.  Unfortunately, as soon as classes resume, I have to be at the college four days in a row--on Monday and Wednesday, I have to come in for meetings, each of which will last an hour or less.  Feh!

Which means, of course, that I'll spend more time driving than sitting in said meetings.  Which means, of course, that I'll have to fill my car up with gas twice in one week.  Feh, I say!

At some point, I wish our U would hold virtual meetings, so I could stay home and "attend" in my pajamas.  I'd like that.  It's not as though I say much in these meetings.  I especially try not to volunteer for anything...unless one of my bosses presses me into service the way the British Navy used to "press" citizens of other countries to serve (in other words, by force).

And, of course, this break is not a "break" for my students, or for me.  In order to cover everything I need to cover, I have assignments due.  Which means I have stuff to grade.  If they've stayed on top of things, though, they should be able to slid those things in early and cop a couple of days of snooze time.  That is, if their other profs haven't loaded them down with work, too.

Yeah, being a student is a drag, sometimes, but my students can rest assured that I don't have much time to slack off.  My only hope is that it rains for six days so I'm not tempted to go out and slog around in the yard to pick up limbs.

Oh, well.  The good news is that my daughter has a full-time teaching position as a traveling art teacher in Austin.  She splits her time between two elementary schools.  She's going to love it, once she gets the hang of working a regular job, with regular pay, regular hours, regular vacations, health benefits, etc.  Her first salaried position.  It's about time, and I'm soooooo happy for her.  Another Smith to shape young minds!  It's a conspiracy, I tell ya!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009


I find myself in a peculiar set of quizzes to grade, but no grading frenzy until Saturday. Wow.

I'll have two or three days of down time, so I'll be able to update my Moodle course sites, read a book, watch movies, play in the yard. Then, I'm back to grading like a crazy person--midterms are here--though I don't have many exams to grade, just two. After fall break, though, I'll have plenty to do, so I'm going to make the most of the down time.


The weather is driving me nuts. Yesterday, the high was almost 90; today, the temp here is about 66 at noon. Tomorrow, the forecast is 90 again, then we revert to 70s for the high and 50s for the low. I wish autumn would decide to stay for a while.


I will finally be able to get a flu shot tomorrow, free, thanks to the college's ties with LSUHSC. At first, we were told that the hospital didn't have enough supplies of the vaccine, but, somehow, they magically appeared. This doesn't cover the H1N1 strain, though, so I still have to watch for that. My students have been great about staying home when sick (however mild!), so I haven't had epidemic absences so far. Actually, attendance in my on-campus classes is great, and the online classes seem to be humming right along.


I have my fingers crossed for my daughter. She's taking one more test today. If she passes this one, she has a full-time teaching position in two elementary schools in Austin, TX. She went back to college for her teaching certification in Art, did her practice teaching, took two Praxis tests and received her teaching certificate. She has to pass the classroom teacher's test in order to have this job. She deserves it. She's spent most of her adult life, so far, working at minimum wage jobs in cafes and restaurants. She's ready to move up. And, if she gets this job, she'll probably make more money than I do! It's about time she stops stressing about money. Besides, she needs to make enough money to afford my retirement home!


Yesterday was a lousy day. I pulled up to the end of my driveway to leave for school and discovered my mailbox flat on the ground. I thought someone had backed into it, but, when I looked at it yesterday afternoon, it seemed that it just fell; my daughter's boyfriend cemented it into the ground in the summer, so the entire thing must have shifted from the road vibrations. One side of my property is a ditch, and the road has a bridge over it right by my driveway. We get so much heavy truck traffic that I think the vibrations just caused the earth to shift. I'll probably have to pull the box up periodically. I can't think of any other way to solve the problem except to have a brick enclosure built around the box. I'll talk to Pete about it. That may be another summer project.

In addition to the mailbox, I misplaced my one pair of glasses; I couldn't read anything, so I borrowed a pair from someone--they were huge and not as strong as mine, so I ended up with eyestrain and a headache. And our bookstore doesn't sell reading glasses--a big mistake with all the older professors and students on campus. I told them that!

I went to the ValueMart here and bought six pair of reading glasses for $5--they had a sale! Lucky me, as long as I don't misplace all of them! I'll leave a couple of pair in my office in case I "forget" to bring a pair with me.


So that's the boring randomness of my life for now! Maybe something more exciting will happen--but not too exciting. I rather like "boring."