Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Rainy Day Iris

 taken at the end of a rainy Monday (04/23). It was a pretty dismal day, so this splash of color made me very happy...
 next up... rain-drenched dandelion.

Monday, April 23, 2012

From Lavender to Light Blue

Here's the post about painting our bathroom. I don't really like lavender... I think it's a bit too pale and "dead."


 This blue makes me so so so happy!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

First Anniversary! (with photos!)

One year ago, we moved into our house! It was raining A LOT, just like it was today! The closing had been the easiest, fastest closing ever, and our dear friends drove all the way from PA to help us, together with my parents who were already here with us.
We love our house and we're happy to be homeowners again, our tenth year. It's a relatively small house (1700 sq ft), but it's perfect for us. It's even more perfect because it was extremely well taken care of and we didn't have to do any work (well, except for the roof in the shed). The wall colors were mostly great, except for the dining room's red wall which we painted right away, the master bedroom's bathroom -- see below, and the hall bathroom, which we still need to paint.

On Friday, we rearranged the living room furniture and even some of the pictures on the wall. It made such a big difference in the feel of the room (which probably won't be conveyed by these photos).
This is our dining room, it's fairly small, but I love it!
I was going to share photos of our bathroom, the other painting project my dad tackled for us soon after we moved (he painted the dining room too, I miss my dad, he helps so much around the house! And my mom too, of course!), but I think I'll share that in another post!

Let's end with the kitchen, then, this picture is a little too dark, but you get the idea. I really want a round IKEA table there, but I need to pay for the rest of the furniture first (living room set, cabinet and sideboard for dining room). 
OK, one last photo, the family room downstairs (by now you will have realized how much I love brown, right? Good thing it's very much in fashion right now):
Happy Anniversary to us and our house!

Friday, April 20, 2012


I begin blog posts and leave them as unfinished drafts...

because I don't have enough time to finish them

because I feel guilty spending time here instead of grading... but I've made some progress tonight. At least.

staying up late... again. But I just couldn't help it. After sleeping 7h last night, I felt rested and awake. Now I have to sleep, though... so let me publish this quick, so it breaks the cycle and doesn't become one more draft...

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

when you have to pay, you file on the last day

Last year I made a mistake when filling my W-4 form and I somehow claimed too many allowances (5!), so I only paid about 1% of federal tax and we had to pay over 1K. I already fixed the W-4 and hopefully that won't happen next year. 

Since we had to pay, K filed our taxes Sunday night and the money was withdrawn from our account yesterday. The good thing is that we're getting about 800 back from the state, so we'll be almost even. Phew!

I hope not to have to pay again anytime soon...

Monday, April 16, 2012

maybe tomorrow...

... I'll get to post some photos,

or I'll get to tell you about the conference weekend that was two weeks ago, or the flowers I saw last weekend...

maybe in a few days I'll be able to write a post for my son who had a birthday last month and who has been reading my blog too, I really want to write for him.

... maybe someday I'll be able to post photos daily to the never updated photo-blog... or... write more about Africa.

And these are only the things that have to do with the blog that are hopefully left "for tomorrow."

Life in these times of information overload is depressing. ready access to so much and not enough time to even scratch the surface. And tons of time wasted in superficial things like social media.

I used to teach dystopian fiction/ science fiction and I don't think any of those writers (not that I've read all of them, obviously) came close to imagining the world we have today. The changes are subtle and mostly related to everyone, all around the world, being connected, 24/7, which is a beautiful, but also a mind-boggling, overwhelming thing.

Endless possibilities both for good and for evil. what next?

tomorrow, maybe, we'll know... or the tomorrow after that tomorrow.

... sigh ...

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Caine's Arcade -- A Boy's Creativity Gone Viral

This video made me cry (of course it's really easy to make me cry, as longtime blog readers probably know, but it's still a moving story) and my boys loved it too! It was so nice of Nirvan Mullick to have done this for Caine and his cardboard arcade. I'm also delighted that he set up a scholarship fund for the boy. Thanks for the heads up, Rebecca. Check it out!

Caine's Arcade from Nirvan Mullick on Vimeo.

from grading jail to soccer jail (and facebook is worse than jail)

April and May... I will actually be in both "jails" for the better part of these months... sigh.

I really loved the months of soccer last Fall, though, especially because the boys enjoyed playing very much. It makes it harder for us to travel on weekends, but I think that won't be a problem, the boys can miss a game or two... we're no longer as dedicated as last year.

Now,  as for the grading... what can I say. It never seems to end. I'm finishing the first paper, more than a month after, and the second paper is waiting for me. And there's also the final project. I know it will end and there's a firm deadline, so I will survive.

This is becoming the most boring blog ever... but I'll keep on blogging, hopefully soon about other more fun topics. It's just that I haven't allowed myself to "go there" much (i.e. have fun on the blog, post photos, spend time writing posts). I have done my best to curb my addiction to blogging. That's why I don't really do Pinterest at all. I already spend (it's not a waste, I'm sure of it) too much time reading some people's blogs.

Now... as for facebook, that is a HUGE waste of time... and addictive too. With a ridiculously bad aftertaste. I know I should stick to blogging, but when you open your email in the morning and see a friend request from a very dear friend you haven't seen in about 15 years and haven't even exchanged emails with in the past 3-4 years, that's pretty joyful!

And then you head there, to that addictive ad-laden, private information stealing and selling place, and see this dear friend kissing his precious, beautiful baby girl and being hugged by a beautiful wife and your heart soars (particularly because this dear friend suffered so much already, having been abandoned by his first wife, having to raise his older daughter on his own for many years...  sigh, seeing him happy like that was just so lovely!). So... yeah...

...what can one do? I'm sure glad to be back in touch with William, though! (I should give him the link to this blog, I wonder if he'd read it).

P.S. my husband was reading on CNN about the hullabaloo that followed Instagram's acquisition by facebook and how incredibly unpopular facebook has become and he's got a prediction that I'm going to share here, just to see if it comes true. he predicts that in 5 years facebook will be done and over with, replaced by another social media network that respects its customers.

Nah... I think, but let's see, only time will tell

One thing I'm not afraid of saying... I hate facebook, I just wish there was something less slimy and disrespectful of my privacy that could bring me closer to dear people in my past and present life the way it does. :(

Friday, April 06, 2012

22 Years Together

Tomorrow, April 7, is our 22nd anniversary of being together!!

We're planning to go to one of my favorite places on earth, Longwood Gardens, leaving the kids with my brother- and sister-in-law. I miss Longwood like crazy and we will probably purchase the membership so we can try to go at least twice more in the coming year.

Now... if only I weren't so sick! I have a nasty virus and while my throat is not hurting anymore (the way it was yesterday and the day before), I have a headache that's not going away with medication and I'm feeling hot and crummy. I hope I'm feeling better tomorrow! We haven't even left for MD yet. :(  But I guess that at this point, the later we leave the better, to avoid traffic.

22 years and a week ago K & I met for the first time, in spite of the fact that he had seen me before and his aunts had been trying to set us up for over six months.

And you can read here what happened on April 7, 1990, 22 years ago (it was also a Saturday!).

It was the best thing that happened in my life and I don't think it can be topped by anything, except for the days our two sons were born (and these wouldn't have happened if we hadn't been together in the first place, right?).

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

when students don't do the reading...

... teaching [ok, trying to teach] them is just the most annoying thing in the world.

In fact... this semester my class sucks in terms of participation as compared to last year's... And in addition to the many unprepared students, even the few that are prepared just WON'T TALK. And lately they won't talk to each other much either when they're supposed to work in groups.

There are three weeks left and I have a feeling that they will very hard weeks to get through! :(

I really don't know what I can do differently to motivate them. I guess I'm simply burned out from teaching GenEd classes in spite of the fact that this is only my second semester doing so here. And that's basically all I can teach (and all I've ever taught in graduate school) at this point apart from language classes. :(

I know that a few of my students are putting good effort into the class, but they too seem pretty apathetic.

BLAH!! Sometimes I get discouraged and think that regardless of all our idealism concerning teaching, it is a useless profession. What are these students getting from their college experience anyway? Many, if not most, are just wasting money and, obviously, waiting my time and their own time.

I know it's just a bad day, but, frankly, I don't have a good feeling regarding the rest of the semester. Because they're not writing a paper on the last book, they think/feel that we're not really doing anything now. One student even asked me, surprised when I mentioned quizzes, "But I thought we were doing this [book] just for fun?" Sure, it will be lots of fun, particularly if you do the reading!

Whatever. I just needed to vent a bit. And next I want to talk about that "tele-teaching" thing I'm supposed to do next semester -- surprisingly, it's not that bad!! PHEW! I cannot emphasize enough how relieved that makes me feel...

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Exploited: Here, There & Everywhere

I know, it's pathetic... I just had a fantastic weekend with happy, intellectually stimulating, and all-around wonderful time spent with dear, longtime friends and academic acquaintances all I feel compelled to blog about right now is angsty career issues!?...

But that's one of the things the blog is for me, free therapy! That and the fact that my dear husband, the person I most often talk to, is sick and tired of this subject. He is very understanding, but he doesn't like whining. [sigh] Even if it's "rightful" whining (at least from my perspective).

This post is motivated by the email I just saw in my blog account. It's the second, perhaps the third, in which some clearly uninformed person [i.e. non-blog reader] is pitching content to my blog. Can you guess what they are suggesting I write about? Online education, alternative degrees. The first one was particularly offensive because it suggested that I write about online PhD programs.  Ha, ha, ha!! These folks are knocking on the wrong door! I won't endorse online PhD programs even if they pay me to do it! I mean, in all fairness, there must be some legitimate programs out there, but I'm not so sure. I know "distance learning" seems to be the future of education nowadays, but I'm very skeptical about it, not to say leery of it.

These people pitching content to the blog clearly haven't read this post or this more recent one. Posts in which I look back at my miserable (both regarding the work itself and the pay) "non-work" at an University of Phoenix affiliate (Axia College). Three months in hell, that's what that was for me. My wrath against for-profit education, particularly of the online variety, knows no bounds, that's for sure! I felt intellectually insulted by being forced to use second-rate materials produced by this institution (some of which had typos in them), being constantly monitored by them ["Big Brother" is watching!] and having to deal with, report to and be evaluated by a supposed "mentor" who set me up for failure for scaring me to death in the very first day of my "trial run" by calling me at my house and berating me for not following instructions that were NOT clearly given. (believe me, if there's one thing I'm good at is following instructions). All of that for strenuous work (because I genuinely cared for my students and took time grading their work -- probably way too much time) and extremely  little pay.

That is several years behind me, thankfully, but feeling exploited and "working at the margins" are still at the center of my existence.

This weekend, when I learned how much adjuncts are paid at my graduate institution and the colleges around it (they're affiliated) -- which is DOUBLE of what we're paid here -- I was given pause. I'm teaching 40 students to make the same amount they make for a regular 20-25 student class.

Then, I came back home and my dear husband reminded that this amount is also what HIS department pays here at our institution per class (6K) -- I had totally forgotten that, probably just suppressed the information in my brain so I could just go about my daily work without being too depressed.

I am very happy with the teaching itself, though, and that is 1000% better than how I felt when being exploited by the U of Phoenix. I am also enjoying my interactions with colleagues and the support (financial too) of being able to participate of faculty groups, workshops and symposiums at the university.

There are two things looming in my future, however... the study-abroad program and, more immediately, the "tele teaching" (as I'm calling it). Tomorrow I will go see a class like that in action. I hope I don't get too stressed out after I see it. These extra responsibilities, which in all fairness shouldn't be asked of a "non-employee" like me, make me feel exploited, and I know that within the next semester/year I will take action about it (i.e. talk frankly with my chair. I need to do it it the most political way possible since my situation is pretty good, but still precarious. I have a feeling it will all end well, but I know I will still have qualms about my institution knowing full well how they exploit contingent faculty.

Sigh... it doesn't feel very good to be part of a group that is exploited, here, there... everywhere. :(

Sunday, April 01, 2012


The doctors in NZ decided to wait until later in the week to see how the situation is going to develop (because opening it up might be too messy b/c of the drainage, etc). My nephew is OK, in spite of still having the abscess under his arm. He's content, not showing any pain, doesn't have a fever or other symptoms.

Sigh... I hope this clears up and that it's not really a big problem.

I had a fantastic day yesterday, I met my friend and her family and then went back to the conference and got to hang out with folks from my graduate program (there are a few of them from my last year there who are still around! and I got to meet some other people who had only "heard" [apparently good things] of me and who were happy to finally meet me). People in my discipline, and particularly my school, are all awesome and cool! ;)  (biased much?)