Thursday, October 31, 2013

Six Years Ago

This evening I finally took some time to talk to my husband (even though I'm blogging in the middle of the talking while he's reading about the Red Sox on my phone ;-) and he just remembered something very significant.

We were wondering why we couldn't remember at all the Red Sox's World Series victory back in 2007. Especially since we had watched all games in 2004 when they had incredibly beaten the Yankees after being down 3 games to none (by 19/9 in the third game at Fenway no less!).

Well... it turns out our life was crazy-busy in October 2007 when we had just moved into an old falling-apart fixer-upper house, just before our life as we knew it "ended" on October 31st, 2007. (and just days before that my dad had had an accident in which he hit a drunk man who later died)

I hardly ever think about that day six years ago. I'm glad I sounded so "together" in that post and I'm even gladder that K kept the job for several more months (so I was able to finish the dissertation and earn my PhD in relative calm) and that things only unraveled in March 2009. Sigh...

In any case, K turned to me half an hour ago and said "It was six years ago today that Big Pharma laid me off, no wonder we don't have any recollection of Red Sox's victory earlier that week!"

So I went looking for my diary, but couldn't find it, then turned to the blog and found no mention of baseball, obviously. We were also thinking that we probably didn't have cable either. Sigh.

Six years. A lot has happened in the past six years and thankfully time has healed most of the grief that threatened our lives back in 2007 and then 2009! It's fascinating to look back and realize that things did turn out just fine in the end. Nothing like hindsight, right?

First Time in 95 Years!

I let the boys stay up until past 11 tonight so they could see the Red Sox win the World Series. We'll see how their day will be tomorrow, but we just had to see the Sox's very first victory at home in 95 years! ;-)

I don't ever watch baseball, but once every few years is OK, right?

P.S. I'm just SOOOO busy I haven't found time or energy to write. Sigh... hopefully soon. I haven't decided yet whether I'll post everyday in November or not and/or whether I'll try to post more than last year. We'll see.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

I like this one!

How couldn't I like it? ;-)

Cancelled :( or Something's Gotta Give!

Things are going really well so far -- Thursday's dinner was lovely (I really, really, really want to share some photos & I hope I will) and the visit of the in-laws is going great! It's been so long since they've been here. Sigh...

That's why I had to cancel tomorrow's dinner with my students -- I can't believe I was dumb enough to schedule that on a day I already knew was going to be extra busy. Sigh... yeah, it was totally stupid.

I am relieved now that I sent the email, but I feel awful because I know the students were looking forward to it and that some of them had made arrangements and plans to come. It's only 4 students, though, and I know that it'll be so much better for them to come at another time.

So I had to come and do some blogging therapy. Thanks for listening!

And I do like to cook for friends & family (and even for strangers!), but this weekend was getting out of hand, wasn't it?!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

And this is going to be One. LONG. Weekend. of Cooking... Sigh...

It all starts tomorrow. A friend who left for medical school last July is coming back to town for a few days, so I wanted to have a special "Fall Dinner" for her, so we're having that tomorrow night because...

... on Friday my parents-in-laws will arrive with brother-in-law and family, so it's cooking and more cooking until Sunday lunch.

But, guess what?!

I've decided to have my U#1 students for dinner (only four students, thankfully!) on Sunday night, so... yeah, CRAZY!!

I know it'll be fine and sister-in-law will help me a lot, but still... yeah, all the cooking.

P.S. I need to confess something about cooking though, but I won't do it in this post. Maybe Sunday night after it's all over. (HUGE SIGH.... ;-)

What's up with that, Wordpress?

I hate it when I want to write a quick follow up comment with a correction and Wordpress tells me "You are writing comments too fast, slow down"

BLAH. I finally, on my third time, was able to post the comment, but that is surely annoying. It suggests that the blogging platform is not as fast and good as it should be.

You know, no wonder with the efficiency we encounter most everywhere online and which we've grown accustomed to (I've never encountered that problem on blogger, for example), it must be horribly frustrating not to be able to access the Affordable Care Act website. I wish the best of luck to the government as they try to fix their website! And good thing I don't need to use it, or I'd be really mad! ;-)

Monday, October 21, 2013


Introductory note: my husband "K" has three younger brothers, and I've named them "K2, K3 & K4" here in the blog. I have only one brother. 

Back in 2006 I blogged about the pretty incredible family internationalization that took place that year: first, my father- and mother-in-law moved to the U.S., then my brother & his wife moved to China. Later in the year, K's uncle moved to South Africa. The second "wave" happened in 2007 when "K3" moved to Turkey with his wife.

Things shifted slightly in the next few years: first, "K3," K's brother who had spent two years in Turkey moved to Brazil in the summer of 2008 and my brother moved from China to New Zealand. In June 2009, K4 (my husband's youngest brother) and his wife moved to Montreal, Canada and in November 2009 my in-laws moved back to Brazil.

It was quiet for a while, but this year (and last) things started shaking up again! K's uncle came back from Africa (where he'd moved from South Africa to Mozambique 3 years before) last year and my brother moved back to Brazil this past August, but the biggest change is yet to come.

"K2," K's brother who has lived close to us for the past NINE years is most probably moving to Egypt (Cairo) with his family very soon. :( The only thing that would prevent them from going would be a visa denial, but that is highly unlikely.

They are very excited about the move and professionally it will be excellent and challenging for brother-in-law, but we'll miss them a lot! My youngest son will miss them the most because he had the great privilege of growing up for 9 years close to his cousin (they are only 4 months apart). I hope they can interact well online, but it won't be the same at all (playing for hours and hours together many times a year). Sigh...

I hope they have a good experience in Egypt and, most importantly, that the political turmoil there can calm down.

P.S. I also hope that we can't visit them since of all the family members above who moved to different countries we have only visited K4 in Canada (OK, and K3 in Brazil, but that doesn't count because we always go to Brazil!).

Two Years from Today I'll throw a "Back to the Future" Party

Someone posted a Photoshopped Back to the Future photo to facebook just now and a smart commenter remarked that the day Marty arrived in the future in the movie wouldn't be until 2015. I went to check here and she was right!

I'm sure that in two years this movie history "event" will be on the news as well and my husband just said that lots of other people will probably be throwing parties. Too bad it'll be a Wednesday, but I want to do it anyway. K & I (and his brothers) are big fans of the Back to the Future trilogy. Last winter we introduced the movies to K's cousin and it was lots of fun to watch them once more.

Well, this definitely was a "Really Random Stuff" post, right? ;-)

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Wealth-Inequality in the U.S.A.: Mind Blowing Visual Representation

This is very true, and probably hundreds of time worse in Brazil:

It is outrageous, but I think there's no way out of this inequality. It will continue to get worse...

Friday, October 18, 2013

Look what he brought me!

K Arrived safely last night and look what he brought me!
There's only one store for this boutique in Montreal, so he had to take the subway and walk a whole lot to get these. That is love!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Last Day as a (Temporary) Single Parent

I'm exhausted! Good thing K is arriving tonight at 11:30 pm, 'cause I can't live without him, seriously! 

The house is pretty messy (he does most of the tidying up), except for the boys' room. Two days ago the boys put away all their clean laundry -- I was super productive on Tuesday and did two loads, in addition to the one from last Friday.

Our bedroom and the living room are pretty messy (and the kitchen is under control, but needs some work).

OH NO!! It just started raining really hard! :(

I'm afraid that his second flight to our local small airport may be cancelled!! :(

I'll go back to cleaning the living room now and I'll keep you updated. Oh, I'll check his flight first.

Update: So far airline says flight is on schedule. Let's see!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Singing Performing Group - "Dream Stuff" I

I don't think I this dream will ever come true and I had actually forgotten I had it.

I sang in choirs for most of my life prior to coming to the U.S. 17 years ago and I just loooooove to sing in a group. I feel sad that I haven't been doing it for years (except for a 3 year period in Philly when we had a group at church). Sigh...

My crazy dream, though, was/is to be part of a singing/performing group, not a church choir or religious singing group. And this group would not only sing great vocal arrangements together, but perform in the sense of doing some comical sketches while singing or dressing funny/funky during the performances. And, of course, I would rather sing Brazilian music and not predictable showtunes & stuff.

I remembered this dream just now when I was listening to this great vocal arrangement of Estrela, Estrela (Star, Star), by Victor Ramil, one of my (recently) favorite songs -- I would just LOVE to sing that. The arrangement was made for Gal Costa (one of my favorite Brazilian singers) back in 1981 (or around that time):

Oh, there's a name for what I'd like to be part of, "coro cênico," in Portuguese (something like performing choir)

There was a group in Brazil that was awesome, they had the crazy name "Garganta Profunda" (Deep Throat). Here they are a looooong time ago back in 1987 performing the Beatles' Eleanor Rigby (there are very few live videos of them, most on youtube only have the vocals

Well, even I am getting surprised at the "stuff" I'm finding within! ;-)

"From 8 to 80" -- The New Piano Teacher

Yesterday Last week on Wednesday afternoon, very late into the school year, our sons started piano lessons again.

And WOW, what a change!

We have this expression in Portuguese that refers to extreme positions and that is used in sentences like this: "Wow! You cannot be balanced in life! With you things are either 8 or 80!" ["oito ou oitenta"]

So in the "piano teacher for our sons" aspect of our lives we have suddenly gone "from 8 to 80!" (quite literally, see below! ;-)

The boys' piano teacher for the past three years (and Son#2's very first piano teacher) was a "church lady" who came to their school and taught the children there for a ridiculously low fee (10 dollars for half an hour). It was extremely convenient because I didn't have to take them elsewhere (she taught them during school hours in the afternoon) and initially the boys were doing OK. However, in the past year Kelvin had completely lost his motivation and wanted to quit.

Kelvin had another teacher for a year back in Pennsylvania. She was a lady from church as well, but she had the proper training and her own piano and Kindermusik studio in her spacious house. Son#2 only did Kindermusik, but Kelvin had a great start in piano. Two years ago a dear friend who is an orchestra conductor and doctor in music had warned us that we should switch the boys to another teacher if we wanted them to make any progress, but it took us all this time to finally do it.

Our sons are now (as of yesterday) last week, taking lessons with a person with a doctoral degree in music and who happens to be an assistant professor at a local university. (! ! ! even I am surprised!)

I think that she decided to take our sons because of how late we registered for lessons (at the university's music education department). At a dollar a minute I wonder that, given the choice, other families may decide to go with a more affordable instructor!

She is awesome, though. I wish I could link to her website so you could read her teaching philosophy and other statements. I can tell that the boys will learn a lot and, most importantly, be motivated to practice and learn piano on their own. She definitely puts them in charge of their own learning and praises them in just the right way to motivate them and boost their confidence. YAY!

I sure hope their experience with this teacher is completely different from mine!!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

All I Want is to Sleep!

I'm exhausted. And I had to be grading right now, but I'm laying in bed with my computer instead.

I guess this is that time in the semester when I will have to beg my students to be patient with me as I deal with exhaustion and lack of energy to grade their tests.


It doesn't help that I'm home alone once more -- K is at a conference in Montreal (staying at his brother's house!) until late on Thursday night.

(bigger) Sigh...

Weekend update:

We had a good Saturday, though it was tiresome for me to cook for our get-together with our one Brazilian friend in town (I made moqueca (fish stew) since my friend wanted to eat it). We finally watched most of SNL -- Bruce Willis was great and then I tried to watch some of last week's (Miley Cyrus), but started falling asleep in the middle of it.

On Sunday morning the boys and I left slightly late for Pennsylvania where we visited the Railroad museum and the Toy Train museum. We ended the day on a model train store. Sigh... We drove an hour to our friends' house and while our kids played we talked. Then talked some more until close to midnight after the kids went to bed.

(it was slightly emotional driving close to where we used to live. Sometimes I don't feel anything, sometimes I'm close to tears. our time in PA was tough...)

Yesterday we left as early as we could (around 10 am) and went straight to the Choo-Choo Barn (huge model train display) where we spent over an hour before heading to Sight & Sound to see Noah. We returned to the Barn to spend more time looking at the trains & going to the model train store again.

Then I stopped at a couple of stores at the outlet, went to Christmas Tree Shop & drove home.

3 hours and a half.

We only snacked in the car all day and our only meal was breakfast (a bagel, a blueberry smoothie, hash-browns, cooked mushroom -- yum! Thanks to my dear friend (we share a name too!). We got home at 10:20 and although I did have a good night of sleep I'm still exhausted.

Today I took the boys to school, did two loads of laundry & tried to grade (wasn't very successful). It was just SOOOOOO hard to drive to town and teach at U#1. I can't believe I always have to do that during my Fall Break at U#2. :( The boys had to stay in after-school care and the good side of that was that they did all their homework there!! Less drama at home. Piano practice, putting away clothes, dinner, that was it. YAY!

Tomorrow I resume work at U#2 and I'm not looking forward to that at all. Especially because I want to go to bed NOW and I won't finish the grading because I'm just too tired and without energy.


Friday, October 11, 2013

"Dream Stuff"

I'm not a "dreamy" person. At least not anymore, because pretty much everything I dreamed about when I was a dreamy and overly introspective teen came true...

... I found a wonderful guy to share my life with (and I met him just at the right moment!).

... I traveled to the U.S. and saw and did so many things I wanted to see and be able to do (back in 1993 with K & his family).

... I moved to another country to have an experience abroad (we all know I'm still here after 17 years).

... I learned French and spent over a month in my birth-place.

... I traveled to almost every place I wanted to visit in Europe (except for Giverny & the Loire Castles & Carcasonne & some other locations).

and.... the "dream of dreams:" I had two babies of my very own.

And lots of things I didn't ever dream about (but maybe hoped would happen) happened: I earned a Ph.D. (sigh...). we own a house (and have owned 3 others), we have jobs, etc.

Of course I have "wishes," but wishes aren't exactly dreams, are they? So today in class, while my students worked on their exams and I kind of "daydreamed," a student mentioned something about a Brazilian children's book and it came to me...

...This idea that I do have things that I love, that maybe I do have dreams, both feasible and crazy "dreamy" dreams. So I decided I'm going to make a conscious effort to at least "name" this "dream stuff" (or these "dream things" as I had originally titled the post) in my life.

So... another "series" of posts will be coming soon.

P.S. I had to use "stuff" in the title because of Shakespeare's famous Tempest quote:
(. . . ) .We are such stuff
As dreams are made on;

Thursday, October 10, 2013

On *Being* Dreams Come True

I am beginning a new "series" of posts about dreams (not the sleeping kind) and I think this may be a good place to start. 

My sons live with the full awareness that they are dreams come true.

Yesterday, after we got home from an incredibly busy afternoon & evening (more on that later on another post about piano!) I scooped up my youngest son, sat him on my lap and asked him, not exactly expecting a response:

"Do you know what I dreamed of the most in my life?"

He immediately answered, "Children!"

"Yes! You're right!" I responded.

I was not surprised that he knew the answer, though I think that was the first time I'd asked that question directly.

I tell them every day that they were (and are) so incredibly wanted and desired and that they are my greatest gifts and treasures. And I can only hope that all children everywhere can be desired and wanted too because I know that this is not always the case and I'm heartbroken at the thought. :(

I am doing my part with the two I was given.

A Breakfast Date and... Wrinkle Cream (?) :)

Ladies, I have a question for you, please respond!!

Do you use skin products for wrinkle prevention/treatment, etc.? Which one(s)? If not, why not? Would you recommend any specific brands or types of products?

Last week I invited my husband for a breakfast date since with our crazy schedules we can't have lunch dates and much less dinner dates. We were enjoying our breakfast when my husband looked at my face  -- I suspect that he focused on my forehead -- and said, matter of factly:

"Hmmm... I can see a lot of wrinkles!"

"OK!" I cheerfully responded, "I guess it's time for me to begin to apply wrinkle cream! I just need to let you know that it's expensive, I hope it's worth it!""

Is it really worth it? I have never felt it is. And besides, I will just be stuffing my skin with chemicals! I don't even apply much of anything to my skin to begin with. I rarely use moisturizer and after Katie Allison Granju suggested Garnier's BB cream I bought it and I wear it once or twice a week.

The other problem is that I am TERRIBLE at doing things habitually (except for brushing teeth before bed & applying deodorant -- it's not that bad ;-) and I hate to think that I will have to deal with a night cream and a day cream and blah blah blah.

I am willing to try, though, if I feel that they would do any good. Frankly, for my forehead and brow I think that if I really wanted it to look better I'd just get some Botox. ;-)  (hahahaha... and I was just writing above about putting chemicals on my skin). Nah, I'm kidding -- though I know it does work (I have a family member who's done it before and thinks it's the only way to go regarding one's forehead/brow).

So... if you can take a minute to share what you use and give me any advice, I'd greatly appreciate it!!

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

No rest for the weary, or how did it go...

                        {my apologies for the boring "update" post}
... I'm exaggerating, of course, but I haven't been able to rest after yesterday's cooking marathon and I won't any time soon because of the worries about the grading (I know! only 9 papers!).

The worst part is that I didn't actually do any grading today -- I had/have a good excuse (I have misplaced the rubric and I haven't been given an electronic copy by my colleague/boss), but still...

The dinner was a resounding success. There were plenty of leftovers, but I had bought 15 disposable containers and the students took lots of food home with them! So I had only a little bit of food to take back. Several students also came early and helped me cook, so they started eating at 5:30! And by 7:30 several students had helped me clean as well.

Colleague acted as a "host" and talked to the students after they arrived and were waiting for the food & I was thankful for that. I didn't count, but I think we had almost 50 people, including a party-crasher from Cameroon whom "the kids" liked and who ate a lot, after spilling a lot of pineapple-mint juice (and I had to go finish cleaning).* I couldn't eat a bite because of the stress of it all, but I did drink.

They all loved the food (colleague too**) and all students were thanking me profusely for cooking all that "amazing food" (their words, not mine). And I was super thankful for all their help.

After it was over (the students loaded my car for me!!) I called my family & then headed to a nearby Indian restaurant where my hosts and some other friends, colleagues and two Mexican academics who were visiting were having a meal. I had a mango lassi and enjoyed their fun company. We headed home and I put everything in the fridge/freezer and talked to my friend while she graded.

I had a good night of sleep, just had some really weird dreams... And this morning it was raining crazily and I felt super tired and like I just wanted to stay in bed. But I had to drive to the university, teach my two classes, print out a test and materials for Wednesday's class, then drive straight to my sons' school where I had a 1h "parent advisory committee" meeting...

And at home I did have some down time online & with my sons, but I needed to prepare two syllabi that my dept. chair at U#1 needs to change to U#3 (the "teleteaching" recipient).

Meanwhile, K spent the day away in the D.C. area and he's not home yet, but I'm heading for bed. I will try to hit the farmer's market tomorrow before heading to U#2. I don't know if I'll have the energy to wake up early for that. I'm still exhausted.

* Cameroonian guy asked me whether I was an "average" cook for a Brazilian woman or way above average because he'd like to keep that in mind for future reference. I tried to answer & couldn't help but laugh one of those loud "forced" laughs that try to diffuse the awkwardness of the situation.

** so maybe I have a better chance to be a "keeper" in the dept. since part of my future depends on "hir" good-will (in spite of the fact that s/he mostly doesn't know what s/he's doing, more on that on another time).

Sunday, October 06, 2013

All that energy is gone

And I have to cook for 50 people this afternoon. Wish me luck!

I dictated this while I drove to the university, so I'm sharing with you Just for fun!
To do list
 - Prepare juices: Passionfruit and pineapple
 - Put drinks in fridge
- Make passionfruit mousse
- Cook rice & Keep warm in the oven
- Cook fish
- Prepare farofa - Keep warm in oven
- Bake cheese rolls - Serve right away
- Heat the beans
-  Fry cassava - Serve right away

Don't forget to get my pots and pans garlic press and knife

Dinner will be served around five and I have three hours to do all that!

Friday, October 04, 2013

Nine Papers to Grade & Weekend Plans

This is all I have this weekend, but I will be SO INCREDIBLY BUSY that I probably won't get anything done. :(  But I NEED to return those papers graded by Tuesday morning. So I'm blogging about it to see if it'll help me to actually get them done.

Meanwhile... I went on a blogging binge last night and wrote note one, but three posts! ;-)

Weekend plans:

  • friends & their children and his parents come tomorrow to spend less than 24h with us.
  • On Saturday night I need to cook and prepare food for the dinner I'm offering all mine and my colleague's students (over 50) on Sunday.
  • Make sure I have everything packed in the car and leave for U#2 at 12 pm on Sunday.
  • Cook for 50+ people (with some students helping) and have the dinner. Rice, beans, Moqueca, fried cassava, "farofa" (even Martha Stewart has a recipe! ;-), passion fruit mousse and juice, guaraná, pineapple mint juice.  Maybe a few other things.
  • Drive back home, possibly late, because K has to leave super early on Monday for Washington D.C.  :(
And today I have to prepare for all that, make sure all the shopping is done (including several pounds of frozen fish and vegetables, sigh...). 

Where Have I Been? On Discovering Lenine (Brazilian musician)

Last night I was up until 1 am. I needed to do some work, but I just couldn't stop listening to music (on YouTube, so lame, but that's all I can do because not all Brazilian music is on Spotify).

Tonight is more of the same, though for our benefit I also baked!!! Catherine Newman's favoritest "Rhubarb Crumb Bars." And I also got to show most of the music I found last night to my husband who was working on the desk behind me. YAY!

All I could think of as I listened to Lenine's songs over and over last night was "Where have I been that I didn't find out about him earlier?"

Well, easy answer... I live abroad and not in Brazil. I've been here for 17 years and I often don't take full advantage of all that I can access online to be in better touch with my country.

All that matters now is that I finally found Lenine's music, particularly the acoustic and orchestral renditions of his songs as registered in his 2006 DVD Acústico MTV (CD available on Amazon, but it doesn't have the last song below).

It all started when I went to check a song I had assigned for my class to listen to (I'd put it in the syllabus) -- I had found this song sometime in the past year when searching for songs with the preposition "por," "Tudo por acaso" [everything by chance]:

Then I found "Paciência" [patience] and I almost died... (there's a lovely harpist who plays with him, Cristina Braga). This one is in HD!!

And then... "O silêncio das estrelas" [the silence of the stars] -- with an English horn!! Unbelievably, indescribably beautiful.

Wasn't that English horn just amazing? It was played by Victor Astorga, from Argentina.
I think I need to buy this DVD...

Edited to add (my third or fourth edit). I just wanted to say that most of the DVD is mostly upbeat, except for these songs right here. ;-)
This one, "Medida da paixão" [measure of passion] Lenine sings with the bassist from Cameroon Richard Bona:

Thursday, October 03, 2013

On Course Design (and "Learner Based" Pedagogy)

Wow, I actually have something to say about something! Dare I say, something to "contribute"?

[that's the sad sad sad fate of adjuncts and lecturers, this perpetual feeling that we will never EVER be able to have something to contribute because we're not "chosen" by the system to be paid to do scholarship. Sigh... We don't have the time anyway, we're so busy teaching. My angst is always there, under the surface, friends, waiting to emerge.] :(

In any case, my friend Leslie blogged just today about mandatory professional development and universities' "teaching centers" providing course design institutes. Her commenter Jonathan Rees then wrote
I find mandatory administration-imposed course design institutes absolutely terrifying. You're the expert on how to design a successful history course, not some "learning scientist" . . . . Professors are trained professionals. We should be allowed to do our jobs however we see fit.
I agree, only up to a certain point. First of all, I don't think these institutes should be mandatory and they are not in the two universities where I teach. I also agree that each scholar is an expert in how to design a course on their area. Now as to whether we're trained professionals, I'm not so sure about all of us. (And generally universities do let us "do our job however we see fit" in spite of having us do institutes, etc).

My experience participating of multiple professional development events and institutes at two universities in the past 4 years (only one year at U#2) is that there are actually plenty of "trained professionals" out there who could actually use the help! Universities have many "old school" professors who do things the "old way" and who could use a fresh perspective in their teaching.

I think that people such as Ken Bain (of What the Best College Teachers Do fame) actually do have a lot to "teach us about teaching" (Bain came to our campus & I actually got to "hang out" with him thanks to my "insider status" as a member of a faculty fellowship). I have also learned a lot from scholars who argue for a "learner-based" approach to course design such as Dee Fink in his Creating Significant Learning Experiences: An Integrated Approach to Designing College Courses (this was the book we were required to read for my course design institute).

How do the two universities I am involved with approach such faculty development initiatives? The first one pays faculty extra money to participate of these institutes (up to a thousand dollars!). First, the faculty member has to apply and present a compelling case to be selected to take part on the institute.* Then, they provide meals and materials (books and such) and the resources -- extremely well organized presentations and mentorship. And then no one keeps tabs on whether you're following what you designed or not! But they do keep track of us and last year I was actually invited with three other faculty to come speak at the last day of their second institute to share how the implementation of my new course (or redesigned course) had gone.
* I was lucky enough to have been part of the very first one -- taught by folks from my current university, this was so helpful when I missed most of the new-faculty orientation last year!!

The second university actually requires that faculty interested in such professional development opportunities PAY in order to take advantage of that!! They do encourage people to take part in it (and the people who organize the institute are actual professors with years of experience in the classroom, not administrators). Full-time faculty can use their educational benefit to pay for it, but still, their approach is the opposite of U#1.

Last, but not least, I consider myself a pretty good professional, but I don't think my training was exceptional or anything. I had plenty of experience teaching during graduate school (3 years as T.A. 3 years teaching on my own), but mentoring was less than ideal in my graduate institution. I think I can design pretty good literature classes, but I'm sure I can definitely learn new ways to make my courses more relevant. And if I can be paid to do so, wow, that's great!

So these are my 2 cents on this subject!

Edited to add:  I could write on and on and on about the multiple, all compensated, professional development opportunities in pedagogy and in instructional technology that are made available for faculty at U#1-- for both full-time and part-time adjuncts such as myself! I participated of a two year faculty fellowship on learning (don't want to get too specific), and before that I was part of a "blended learning" institute. The technology training is not as good as the teaching one, but the "being paid" part is just a great incentive. ;-)

Curly Hair Woes

When you have curly hair...

... you have a haircut (a few inches off in the back!) and nobody notices (my sons said, "It looks the same to me!" I don't know if students noticed, maybe they were too polite to say anything? Nah... It doesn't make too much of a difference, really).

... your hair always looks undone, messy & even crazy... (because if you actually comb/brush it it'll look even worse!)

... you can't even think of washing your hair at night (unless you're going to blow-dry it straight).

... longer hair always looks way shorter (and my hair won't ever grow long anyway*)...

... even when it's not bad-hair-day for other people it's always slightly bad for you and when it is an actual hyper humid bad-hair-day, whoa!!!

I blow-dried my hair  straight for almost a year and then went curly as the humid weather started back in June. I decided not to go back to straight for the school year and I had a haircut yesterday (first one since early summer). Not that it makes any difference. Sigh...

yeah, hair issues, big time! :(

* the biggest source of my "hair issues..." I will never ever have long hair and that makes me very sad. (my hair is too thin, fine & breakable to ever go below my shoulders in any decent way. It runs in the family -- paternal grandmother & dad)

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

"Your license and registration, please?"

Yeah, it happened today, a year into my daily mega-commute,* I was caught speeding.

And it was not on the highway. :(

As a matter of fact, I was about half a mile from home. Sigh...

I left the house late. Generally the latest acceptable time to leave is 9:30 am, that way I can get there at least 20 minutes before my 11 am class, but this morning I left at 9:40. And I was caught at 9:42...

What happened was that right before I did a left turn into our town's main street (a minor highway that stretches all the way from PA to GA) I had to impatiently wait for this Cadillac in front of me who was turning left, but who was oh, soooooo slooooow! So when I turned I immediately stepped on the gas to get a head start on my 1h10min commute. Just as I accelerated a city cop drove past me in the other direction and I immediately knew!

He began flashing his lights, turned around and I knew he was coming for me, so I slowed down and pulled over. (HUGE sigh... & that horrible sinking feeling).

He told me I was going 59 in a 35 zone... I frankly don't know if I was going that fast, but who am I to argue with a cop's radar?

I explained that I was late for me job in town relatively far away and that I had left the house late preparing my breakfast (and I pointed out to my buttered bread and bowl of grapes by my side).

As I waited I texted K, but I didn't need to have texted him because he'd actually PASSED me on his way to work! :( I ate some grapes, and got online to email my students before I got moving again. I wrote the most unprofessional email in the world. 3 lines:
I left the house late and the police stopped me around the corner.
I may be a few minutes late, please wait for me in class.
You can continue working where we stopped yesterday.
I was 5 minutes late to class -- not that bad!

When the cop, who patrols our street daily so I know him, came back, he told me he wasn't giving me a reckless driving ticket, only a speeding one (phew!). Then he asked about my record (squeaky clean, thanks to going to court twice before) and when I told him he again (like the previous two cops) said I should go to court (Nov. 4, 10 am -- gotta find someone to teach  my classes) because he'd say that I was cordial and stopped immediately.

So, yeah. I will once more get away, phew! The second, and last time was much more disagreeable, on the day of our move from Pennsylvania. I had just driven nearly 5 hours and I was unaware that the speed limit on our new street was 25. I also accelerated slightly when I saw our new rental place (with the truck parked in front) and BAM! was caught by the most disagreeable lady cop in this whole entire state (she is notorious in this whole area, people avoid driving through that town if they can!). She was pretty nice in court, though, especially considering that I really had just moved and didn't know the road or limit!

The worse part was facing my cute, fresh-faced students. "Professor, you weren't speeding, were you?" They said, pretending to be shocked. ;-)

*Not daily in the Spring, though I still commuted everyday, but two of them to the closer university.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

The Longest Day

Tuesdays are the longest days for me, but I don't mind them too much, especially because the day begins and ends with enjoyable activities, namely: going to the farmer's market & a yoga class.

I have to get up and leave extra-early (7:40, ideally 7:30 am) to go to the farmer's market because I teach a class at 9:30 am. As you may remember, I teach until 1pm at U#2 and then I drive back to U#1 and teach from 2:30 to 5:15. Then I go to yoga.

I know, exhausting! Oh, yeah, and I eat both breakfast & lunch in the car -- generally just a slice or two of multi-grain bread and fruit. Today I brought a few othe things such as trail mix and grissini (Italian breadsticks). And I had a yummy and authentic Salvadorian veggie & cheese pupusa from the farmer's market for breakfast! (three weeks ago I actually saved it for lunch!).

All right, I had more to say, but I need to eat something before bed (and try to grade some tests too... sigh. New ones from today, it never ever ends!!!).