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SO tired

Another week starts tomorrow. Will I survive?

Classes end November 30...not much longer now...

Administrative work is HARD. That is all.

Feminisms and Rhetorics Wrapup

I had a pretty good conference last weekend. However, one thing that was really lousy was the raging car trouble I had on the way.

I was on highway 167 headed north at about 10:30 at night, 40 or so miles outside of Little Rock. Yes, I got a very late start hitting the road. I was taking it slow, since it was so dark, and I hadn't gone over a bump or anything or made impact with any object, but all of a sudden, my engine started ROARING and there was a tinkling kind of rattle behind me sounding like something in the trunk. I pulled over at a gas station, and a guy there said it was my muffler. He recommended that I go ahead and go to Little Rock but then get it checked out in the morning.

I went on, engine roaring, back of the car rattling, with the occasional sound (and feeling) like someone was under the car shooting me with a rifle, which freaked me out. I was less than a mile from my hotel when I got pulled over by the police and informed that I was dragging a pipe behind me, which was creating sparks. I wasn't surprised, but he let me go the rest of the way to my hotel. I got out of the car and saw about five feet of pipe behind the car.

The tow truck driver the next morning didn't believe me when I said I hadn't hit anything, which was annoying. The subsequent analysis by Midas confirmed that the entire exhaust system was rusted, corroded, rotted out. I guess I have the salt on the Minnesota roads to thank for that.

They put all new pipes and everything in there, so that was great, but I missed a chunk of the conference dealing with all that. But I went to some great panels, one in particular having to do with work/life balance issues and the status of women in the profession, even though it scared me. One presenter, for example, observed that while men tend to be evaluated (for tenure, promotion, merit raises, etc.) on the basis of their performance, women are evaluated on performance plus a lot of other personal factors, including:

  • appearance
  • weight
  • style of dress
  • marital status
  • whether or not she has children (and if she does, how many children she has, and how the children look and behave)
  • home (location, decor, etc.)
  • cooking

I forgot what else, but you get the horrifying idea. I'm going to take Dean Dad's advice and make the lifestyle choices that are right for me, and if it means I don't get tenure, I can be at peace with that.

On a brighter note, on the way back to Lafayette, I saw this monastery. It was a gorgeous morning, and the whole place seemed to have the most beautiful glow around it. The photograph doesn't do it justice at all. Unfortunately, a little after I saw it, I started thinking about that awful MTV cartoon The Brothers Grunt. Is that really how my mind works?

33 today

Okay, the hiatus is officially over, as I am no longer 32. I wish I had a little more to say, but I don't; I'm leaving for Feminisms and Rhetorics early tomorrow morning and must hustle to get ready for the trip. I'll leave you with mentions of the following commercials, which are in very heavy rotation right now and disgust me so much that I have to turn away from the TV when they come on:

  • That Taco Bell commercial for the horrible beefy/cheesy tortilla thing with the revolting strings of melted cheese. **hurl**
  • The pizza delivery chain commercial with that guy who has the beard from eating the Oreo dessert pizza. I'm grossed out not only by the beard, but by the extreme close-up of the Oreo pizza. People actually order those?
  • That Old Navy sweater line commercial. I hate this one because I detest the word chilly (though chili I have no problem with, go figure). "If you are chilly...here, take my sweater..." Ugh.

Just to take some of the pressure off myself...

I'm going to declare a hiatus for the remainder of the time I'm 32. I won't be posting, then, until my birthday on October 3 or very shortly thereafter. Some other writing I need to do is going to have to take precedence.

Oh yeah, but first, my CCCC proposal got accepted, hooray!

Heroes and Poboys

Jonathan declared at dinner just now that we have consumed four feet of poboys today. Indeed, we each had one entire poboy for lunch, and another for dinner. My white bread and fried shrimp quotas have been far exceeded.

Oh, and we are going to watch much more Heroes tonight.

One more thing for lagniappe: I hope you will consider attending The Louisiana Conference on Language and Literature, which will be held in February here in Lafayette.

More bullets, if you can stand them

Even more random bullets of crap -- what a disgrace. Perhaps I should go ahead and tell you that what with my new administrative position, these may be the only kinds of posts I have time to write from now on.

  • My blog reading habits have changed a bit lately. I've especially been reading a lot of good DIY/money-saving/consumption-cutting blogs such as Lifehacker and the blogs on the LifeRemix network:

    Behance

    Cranking Widgets Blog

    Dumb Little Man

    Freelance Switch

    Happiness Project

    Ikea Hacker

    LifeClever

    LifeDev

    No Impact Man

    Pick the Brain

    Success From the Nest

    Tim Ferriss' Four Hour Workweek Blog

    Unclutterer

    WiseBread

    Zen Habits

  • I've learned a lot about placement in the last week, as 95% of my time has been devoted to analyzing various cases. We use a system which places students in writing courses (basic, intro, or honors) according to their test scores, but we also have teachers assign a diagnostic essay on the first day of class, which we use as triangulation to make adjustments to the placement decisions if appropriate. To be sure, I'm no embracer of high-stakes testing and teaching to the test; however, I haven't been able to help but notice that the quality of the writing samples has been consistent with ACT and SAT verbal scores in most cases I have reviewed. The exceptions are the cases in which the test scores are okay, but the writing reveals problems; I suppose these cases demonstrate the need for writing-to-learn approaches over drill-and-test approaches.
  • Next up on the administrative agenda: syllabus review. This check is going to be pretty basic; I and other members of the first-year writing committee are going to look for the following:

    1. Is there a breakdown of how the grade will be calculated?
    2. Is there a brief description of each assignment? (Note: something like, "Essay 1, personal narrative, 3-4 pages")
    3. Is the attendance policy clear and in accordance with university policy?
    4. Is the plagiarism policy clear and in accordance with university policy?
    5. Are the appropriate textbooks in the "required materials" section?
    6. Does the instructor provide contact information and office hours?
    7. Is there a course description?
    8. Are emergency evacuation procedures listed?
    9. Is the disability policy clear and in accordance with university policy?

  • After syllabus review comes faculty development workshop planning. We're already planning a diversity workshop, and there are other possibilities. Others have expressed interest in workshops on responding to student writing and on plagiarism, and of course I will take instructors' needs into consideration when deciding on topics for workshops, but those two topics have been done and done and done some more (though I have some good ideas for how to shake up a plagiarism workshop and make it new). One I'm interested in would be a workshop on monitoring students' mental health. After the tragedy at Virginia Tech, this is especially important, and I'm convinced that things are going to change for writing teachers because of it. At stake are students' privacy and freedom of speech, weighed against the safety of the student body. What should writing teachers do when they are disturbed by student writing or believe a student is mentally disturbed? Is a recommendation to talk to someone in student mental health services enough anymore?
  • Also: I HAVE TO work on research, sometime, somehow -- I'm devoting this weekend to it, actually. It's been so hard to set boundaries these first couple of weeks, when so many (very nice and collegial, mind you) people need to talk to me. Everyone in my department and on the WPA listserv has said that it gets better, that the beginning of the semester is the busiest time, and I hope they're right.
  • Oh yeah, and I'd like to exercise today. I'm thinking about going swimming in our apartment complex pool.

The Piggly Wiggly, the Tan'n'Browse, or the laundromat?

Phil Campbell, Alabama is 34 miles from where I grew up, and every time we go to my grandmother's house, we pass through it. Now there's a hilarious video about the annual Phil Campbell Hoedown:

You should check out the other videos by Magical Pudding as well.

Dans la Louisiane

We've been in Lafayette for several days now, and we're settling in. We have, of course, loved the food. We've had some excellent Greek and Thai food, but my favorites are probably Poupart's Bakery and Lafayette's. We had the Cajun lunch buffet at Lafayette's, which was outstanding, and I can't wait to have the Sunday brunch there. Going around doing all the new-job things, like setting up email accounts and voice mail, getting faculty IDs and parking passes, and moving into offices has been draining, so I haven't had much energy to blog lately. Hopefully that'll change. For now though, some photographs from the UL campus, mostly of the swamp:

Turtles in swamp on UL Lafayette campus

Turtles in swamp on UL Lafayette campus

Turtles in swamp on UL Lafayette campus

Turtles in swamp on UL Lafayette campus

These turtles are SO CUTE. They saw us leaning over the brick wall, and they swam over expecting to be fed, but we didn't have any food on us.

swamp on UL Lafayette campus

swamp on UL Lafayette campus

swamp on UL Lafayette campus

swamp on UL Lafayette campus

My undergraduate campus had a live lion in a cage, and now I'm a professor at a university with an alligator habitat.

UL Lafayette campus

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