Sunday, March 29, 2009

It's spring!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Why I'm mad at BSG

Last night was the final episode of Battlestar Galactica, which Ray and I have watched faithfully since season 1. I'm not much of a sci-fi fan, but I am a fan of good story-telling, character and suspenseful plot development. It's been a good ride, a great ride by some accounts. Until last night.

Rather than geeking out about the specifics, let me instead use an analogy:

Let's say there's a store in your neighborhood that has really good stuff, maybe something like Trader Joe's or Archie McPhee's. You frequent this store not only because of the good stuff they carry, but also because they have regular raffles with pretty decent iPhone, trip to Zihuatanejo, a years-worth of free coffee from your favorite coffee house, etc. Over the years you enter these raffles, not just because you're digging the prizes, but the store also promises to enter you into the Grand-daddy of all Raffles. This is such a Big Deal that they start advertising it a couple years ahead of the actual drawing, and build quite a bit of attention and suspense. Oh boy, I can't wait to see what the prize is! And yeah, I'll enter every raffle that comes along just to up my chances! Woohoo--can't wait!

The day of the Big Deal Raffle arrives. Everyone waits expectantly inside the store. Tension is palpable. The store owner stands on top of the check-out counter, and shakes the sack of raffle tickets. The crowd goes hush, while the owner sticks his hand in the sack and pulls out the winning ticket.

"Before I announce the winner, I'll first tell you about the prize. It's amazing!"

"To this lucky winner," he says, waving the clutched ticket, "...A COUPON GOOD FOR 25%-OFF ANYTHING IN THE STORE!"

He reads the name. No one claims the prize.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Saturday, posing as Friday

It's been a grueling week. Studying and schoolwork (TA responsibilities) have taken up every free moment, with the exception of 7-8 pm when we eat and relax. I stay up late to study, then get up early to keep studying. When finals are over I'm not sure I'll know what to do with myself. Oh wait -- I'll be grading papers and finals. And working on a proposal. But at least it will be much less tension-producing.

Anyway, my three thankfuls for this week:

1. So thankful for spousal unit who supports my weekend study strategy and ups his daddy time with August.

2. As much as I like my teaching and TA job, it will feel like such a luxury next year to focus on research. I'm grateful there's grant money to fund this part of my program.

3. Chocolate cake. I am not suppose to be eating this (gluten! sugar! chocolate!), but damn it it's been a rough week, and I have the BEST recipe for a simple chocolate loaf cake a la Nigella:

1 cup soft butter (or 1/2 butter and 1/2 applesauce; it's just as good)
1 2/3 cup brown sugar (I used less than this, like 1 1/2 cup)
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
4 oz bittersweet chocolate
1 1/3 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup + 2 Tbs boiling water

Preheat oven to 375. Melt chocolate. While cooling, cream butter/applesauce and sugar, then add eggs and vanilla. Beat well, then fold in chocolate. Sift and stir in flour and baking soda bit by bit with the boiling water until you have a smooth and fairly liquid batter. Pour into greased or lined 9x5 loaf pan. Bake for 30 min, then turn heat down to 325 for 15 more minutes.

Let cake rest in pan on cooling rack before trying to get it out. Better yet, just leave it the pan. I shove it in the fridge at the end of the day, and it's even better the next day.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The best teachers

Today I had to turn in draft 2 of my "teaching philosophy" for my instructional development class. I wrote a theme statement and some supporting bullet points, but then decided to take a different approach. I thought about the teachers whose classes I enjoyed the most and who made an impression with their teaching style. I immediately thought about Dr. M. as I have often in the past when thinking about great college classes.

While I was writing I thought: "Why not share this with someone who actually cares?" Dr. M. I mean. So I found his email address (he's still teaching though he must be getting close to retirement), and sent him my paragraph:

"When I think about teaching, I can’t help but recall some of the best teachers I’ve had over the years. In college, I took an Ancient History course taught by Dr. M. Dr. M. was passionate about the subject matter. He could lecture on Greece in 375 BC as if he’d lived there. He could discuss Plato like old friend with whom he’d just met over a beer. He’d lecture without notes and with such enthusiasm that he held his survey course of 300+ student in rapt attention, and we discussed The Last Days of Socrates outside of class like it was the latest and best piece of beach reading. I want to be a teacher like Dr. M.: incredibly knowledgeable, excited, charismatic, and able to bring the subject matter to life."

Dr. M. sent back a response this afternoon:

Well, this certainly makes my day, week, month and so on. The class was History 111, the first class in the Western Civ sequence, and one that I still teach and love to teach, especially since it generates comments such as yours. Above all, thanks for writing. It certainly makes the work worthwhile.

All the best,


Sunday, March 8, 2009

Pretend it's Friday

...and that I haven't forgotten to post my Thankful Fridays entry until just now. Geez, I just started this last week and already I've flaked out.

1. Finished grading 37 papers, and now have evening free to study (this may sound fairly depressing, but it's...well, it's only slightly depressing). I'm so glad they're done!

2. An artist and army of middle schoolers descended on the lab this weekend to paint murals, and I stopped by today to help out. Our sound booth and one wall in the testing room look incredible! I even painted something, which I might post here if I ever get around to taking a picture.

3. I think this week is going to be a manageable week-before-finals. Busy, but not crazy.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

How I covet thee

I've been visiting these boots at for a couple months. They are mine as soon as I find $350 that's not allocated for bills or a new backdoor. They go perfectly with my permanent collegiate lifestyle, but not necessarily with my permanent collegiate budget.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Where the content?

This here's a test post as currently my blog is displaying no content whatsoever. Maybe I should write something meaningful as well.

Hmm, meaningful,'s 6:15 am and I got nothin'.

Hey, that seemed to appeared on the blog in place of the blank space. But why did that happen anyway?