Monday, September 30, 2013


Rick in Raleigh writes:

This morning, during the 3-4 minutes pre-class, a few people in the front row and I are talking about the Breaking Bad finale we - and zillions of others - watched Sunday night. A girl, at least 15 rows toward the back actually screams "NO!" and covers her ears, shaking her head back and forth.

"DON'T SAY ANYTHING!!!! I'm only up to Season Two..."

Listen, exactly how long does she think we're supposed to not spoil things?

The Job Hunting Snowflake. A CM Playlet.

Flake: I desperately need your help!

DK: I was just leaving since its 5pm on Friday ...What can I do for you?

Flake: I graduated last semester but I can't find a job in Hamsterology!!!

DK: Oh dear! How come you came to see me? I don't remember you from my Advanced Hamsterology class last semester...were you in my large Intro to Hamsters class?

Flake: Oh no, I've never taken a class in Hamsterology! I was a Basketweaving major.

DK: Why not apply for some jobs in Basketweaving?

Flake: Because I want a job as a Hamster expert!!!

DK: Ok, then why not take an extra semester of classes to get a certificate in Hamsterology?

Flake: Because I want a job as a Hamster expert NOW! WHHHYYYY don't you understand?

DK: Sorry I've got an appointment off-campus [with a stiff drink]

Flake: So will you give me a reference?

Atua Bear With an Early Thirsty About Administration.

Recently, a former mentor that I really respect told me that she would go into university administration "for the money." A long conversation ensued about administrative bloat, delayed faculty raises, retirement tied to highest salary ever earned, etc. The road to higher pay, according to my mentor, was to enter administration. I don't deny this, that is, the way to get higher pay is in administration. But, I wonder if we are doing a disservice to higher education by just perpetuating the cycle of administrative bloat...

While I was a undergraduate (now ABD), I challenged my university president numerous times to reject the housing and car benefits that she received on top of an already hefty salary. I was often denied being put on to committees (in particular, committees regarding university audits) because unlike ALL other student representatives I would actually attend the meetings, review the necessary materials, and ask questions (in a respectful manner). I was alone in trying to call out what I perceived to be excess and waste. I wanted my professors to make more than my administrators. Administration always informed me that to make money for the school, the President had to have a nice house. Ironically, many of the fundraising events are held on our beautiful campus. Admittedly, I am not sure why I was alone in this adventure; I like to think most people were afraid to say something. Maybe others were just apathetic? Or, others thought the salary and benefits were justified?

Q: If we go into administration for the money, aren't we just being complicit in the cycle of administrative bloat? Is there anyone that doesn't go into administration for the money?

Dr. Python Wonders About Weekend Accessibility.

Sorry, snowflakes. I am not available every second of the weekend when you send an email or a request that I proof your work due on Monday. I watch football and am drunk most of the weekend. Too bad for you. Anyone else have this problem?

Dr. Python

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Words of Wisdom

from a recent NPR interview with Garrison Keillor. While I've occasionally tried giving similar advice to students insisting that their grade in my class will ruin their transcript/life, I don't think I'm nearly as persuasive.

An excerpt from the "Address to the Harvard Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, Sanders Theatre, June 2008" 
O brave young achievers, you have now achieved the pinnacle
And forgive me if it sounds cynical
But as we gather to celebrate ya and hail ya
It is time for you to think about the benefits of failya.
Failure is essential, a form of mortality.
Without failure, we have a poor sense of reality. 

Story here. The transcript has the full poem in paragraph form, but the audio is a far better way to experience it.

An RYS Flashback to the Greatest Student Excuse of All Time. "The Campus Mascot Ate My Homework." Seven Years Ago Today.

Friday, September 29, 2006

The Campus Mascot Ate My Homework, and Other Whopper Excuses

We've recently had a variety of student excuses from our readers, and our favorites are below:

  • A student turned in a late group report that he was responsible for typing, telling me that he had it done in time, but that he'd stuck it in the arm of his tiger costume - he's the college mascot - and forgot it there, unable to retrieve it for 2 days because it was locked in the sports department offices.
  • Student told me that he missed class because he was sitting in an empty classroom every day for an entire week (he told me he thought it odd that there were no other students present) and finally went to the department office and found out we had moved across the hall.
  • My student sent me a long and labored email about how sick her granny was, and how she was in Atlanta (100 miles away from here) at Granny's bedside, typing on her dad's laptop, and would be unable to meet with me to discuss her exam. The email popped in my email box at 3:42 in the afternoon. At 3:44 I walked out of my office and into one of the college's parking lot and found her sitting on the hood of her car, all pretty, catching some sun, chatting with friends.
  • A student on the verge of being dropped for lack of attendance brought me 6 of his speeding tickets to show me that they had all occurred in the late afternoon nearby, right before my class. "I was on my way," he said, shaking the tickets at me.
  • On a 5 question in-class writing quiz, a student left 1 of the answers totally blank (the one that was worth half the points that week). When I turned them back and asked her about the missing answer, she said her textbook didn't include that information. I told her I'd show her if she'd bring me her book. She said it was in her car, and that she'd bring it to my office later. 10 minutes after class she walked into my office and showed me her otherwise brand new textbook, and turned to the exact location of the information. Indeed, 2 pages were missing from her textbook, evidenced by badly torn edges, some of it still - almost comically - drifting in the air as she unveiled the gap.
  • One of my students asked for a week's delay in taking a major test because her cousin had died. When she arrived for the make-up exam she gave me an obituary notice clipped from the paper (not that I had asked for it). As she started taking the test I noticed that the date of the paper was on the flip side, and it showed June 11, 2004, nearly 2 years prior. I stopped her and noted the date and for a moment she looked startled, and then said, "I know. I just found out."

Saturday, September 28, 2013

RYS Flashback. 4 years Ago Today. Renegotiating Grades.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Shirley From Shelbyville on The Never-Ending Problem of "Can't Me and My Mom Renegotiate My Grade?"

I had two parents contact me at the end of last semester to try to get grades changed for their kids. I know some RYS correspondents are used to calls from parents, but at my urban Big U, I haven't seen much of fact, this was a first, in spite of the fact that I teach large intro-level classes to urchins fresh off the yellow bus from 12th grade.

One parent started quite cordially by asking for more information on why his child had received the specific grade for the semester. Upon learning (1) that his child had not attended office hours; (2) that, while I would not discuss the specifics of any individual student's grade with others, the grade in question placed the student in the bottom third of a large class; and (3) the way that the grades were calculated, the date the student got the first graded exam back, and the fact that the student's grades had been "consistent"...well, by the end of the call, I was actually defending the student from the parent a bit. "You know, they're young, they haven't had a hard college course before, it takes a while to learn the study skills and discipline they need for this, it's easy for them to surround themselves with others who are doing badly and use them as an excuse, they usually do a lot better when they re-enroll, blah blah blah." I think the student had given him the idea that I was just an unreasonable teacher (or grader) and nobody could get a good grade in my course.

At Least These Proffies Weren't Cancelling Class...

Friday, September 27, 2013

Thank you...

Allow me just a line to say thanks for all the kindness, many emails, some with touching stories of fathers and sons. They all meant a lot to me. I cherish this community.

"I Am Covered By Dismay..." A Friday Thirsty That Probes the Inner Psyche of a Community Member.

If nobody comments
on THIS, I'm switching
the gin with poison.
Kidding. No, really,
kidding. Maybe.
I asked Cal to let me post this anonymously. I know it's breaking a rule, maybe his rule, but I need to say something that I think might resonate with others on the blog.

I'm a pretty active member of the page, both as a poster and a commenter.

Sometimes my posts generate a lot of comments. That makes me feel good. It makes me feel like I'm worthy. That's wrong, isn't it?

Then other times I think up the world's greatest witty comment. I work on it. I craft it. I try it out loud.

Then I post it, carefully, right where it will work best.

And sometimes, like a few days ago, nobody replies. Nobody mentions it. People seem to be actively ignoring it, the brilliance, the wonder, the perspicacity.

And you know what I feel then? Shame. Embarrassment. I am covered by dismay and failure.

I swear to myself that I'll quit coming here. Goddammit to hell. You can all go to hell. My hard work, my engagement, it's all for naught.

Q: That's insane, right? Am I alone?

On the Timing of Posts... (Blog Nerds Only.)

I have to ditch my
old Tom Seaver-inspired
avatar. I mean, who am
I kidding?
Leslie K forwarded me two emails and a link to a comment on the blog today about the timing of posts.

One letter reads:
I don't understand why it's so hard for you to even out the appearance of posts. Some days there's nothing at all, and how other days there are 5-6. Good posts, sometimes mine, get buried under a bunch of VidWhatzits, useless linked articles I've already read, and things that should be someone's diary entry instead.
The other reads:
For the love of all that is holy, can you please space the posts out so it's not feast or famine?
And Three Sigma commented today:
I read the site several times a day - and frequently nothing happens for hours, then suddenly there's stuff I've missed that's off the front page. I suspect you're simply the victim of bad timing.
In the goon old days, at RYS, of course this was controlled because the page was fully moderated. During my three years, I'd read through the mail, pick 3-5 posts a day, and put them up. There was a lot more uniformity. Now, I think the best thing about CM is the non-moderation of posting. So I'm not suggesting a change there.

Females lose self-confidence throughout college. From USA Today.

Why the fuck am I here?
According to a study conducted last April, female seniors studying at Boston College left the university with lower self-confidence than when they entered as freshmen.

The study, administered by the Office of Institutional Research, Planning and Assessment at Boston College, examined two surveys: the first of which was taken by students during their freshman year, and the second of which was taken by students exiting their senior year.

Despite reports of high academic achievement, most female students gave themselves weaker self-evaluations in the second survey.

Abbey Clark, a senior and founder of the Boston College chapter of I AM THAT GIRL, a female-empowerment community, says the finding is "startling."

The rest of the misery.

Thursday, September 26, 2013


This should turn your hair white, folks. Lucky enough to get a TT job? Don't worry - they can still find a way to crush you!

The Big Thirsty. Clothes.

Hi. You can call me Fauna the Fashionable. I teach at a decent B-school in California, and occasionally get to visit other parts of the country. It astounds me how differently we dress as professors.

Some of my departmental colleagues dress like F500 CEOs. Some non-departmental colleagues look like they just wandered onto campus from a Juggalo gathering.

Q: What about your clothing, people? What do you normally wear? What's your discipline? Do you have an opinion about the best dressed department? The worst? (It's English, right?)

It's Kimmie! Oh Why...

Yes, I thought I might post once and fade away, but no, guess not.

Why do male colleagues come to me when they want to find out what "women" think? I am tired of translating an entire gender. I not only get asked about women, but about girls or young women in other proffie's classes. Do I have a sign that says, "I understand us!"

Why is that my male colleagues seem needier than my female colleagues? Is it a face they just show me?

Why do I want to smash the face of the new Sociology professor? Seriously, why? She seems nice enough, but her clothing allowance must be double my salary because it's the end of September and I've never seen her wear anything a second time.

Oh, why, why do I stay up late to watch Fallon?

Why do I get so mad when the chair brings brownies or cookies to the meetings? Why are they so bad?

Why did I wake up thinking it was Friday - a non-teaching day - and then allow myself 20 luxurious minutes before I realized, nope, it's Thursday?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Academic Monkey Gives Unsolicited Advice

Today was a sea of precious snowflakes demanding all of my free time. And yet I found a minute before midnight to post a little more unsolicited advice. Something tells me we'll have some extra ideas in the comments -- or a discussion about the sad state of affairs if we can't come up with anything neat and elegant.
~Academic Monkey

Problem Posed:

Do you have any snappy comebacks for when someone says “You only got into [institution of higher education] because you’re a girl?”  I got this a lot when I got into college, and then while in college, and now in grad school.  Apparently all those lonely single dudes out there in their male-dominated labs think this is a good pick-up line?  I tried vocalizing my internal rant in response, but that was a little long so I’d like some help in the brevity department.

Unsolicited Advice:

Shitty Parents for my Shit List

I've already fielded a parent wanting to add me as a friend on Facebook to keep track of their offspring, and two different parents calling to complain that their children wanted to get into a class that has been full all summer. Each wanted to explain why their child deserved to get into my class even though they hadn't registered when it opened for registration (for the record, these were not parents of first-year students!). What happened to sending kids off to college to become independent?

(I use the term "child" because that is how these students are behaving by expecting their parents to step in to fix their "problems.")

Widdle Anxious Suzy:
Today, because I took "too long" to respond to first-year-little Suzy's email about what books she needed for the class, her parent called. For the record, little Suzy had called her mommy to complain that I hadn't responded to email ten minutes (!) after she had emailed me. Yes, the books are listed on the syllabus that I had handed little Suzy earlier in class (and are listed on the college bookstore website, and are sitting pretty on the shelves in the college bookstore). Suzy's mother claimed that I had not responded in a timely manner and that this made poor widdle Suzy anxious. So in the ten minutes between the time Suzy had emailed me, she had found time to rant and rave to her mother, but not to look anywhere logical for a book list. And widdle Suzy's mommy hadn't thought to ask widdle Suzy about other possible ways to find out which books were required, either.

The Woe of Wikipedia Wally. From Luke in Little Rock.

So Wally brings me a reason to write my first post for CM. Thanks, Wally, you stupid shit.

My college has the fancy plagiarism shit, but I never use it. It takes too much work. I just casually Google anything that feels wrong to me.

Wally gave me one of those papers this week. A 2 paragraph section in the middle just sounded off. No sources. Just encyclopedia-y at a point in the essay that didn't make much sense.

I took parts of the sentences and Googled them. Found the same paragraphs (scattered around a bit) in a Wikipedia entry

I delighted in the chance to catch Wally, but here's where Wally was so wonderful.

When confronted with the evidence, he didn't even flinch.

"Oh, you know about Wikipedia, right? Anyone can edit those articles. That stuff you found is what I wrote up and submitted last week. It's the same because I wrote part of the Wikipedia entry, too."

It was breathtaking. He said it without even the slightest hesitation. No tell, no grimace. Just a poker face.

Of course I showed him the footnotes on the stolen material, and then brought up those sources as well (NIH articles).

Wally was whipped. At least he didn't whine or wail. That little wag. I'll always be a little wary of anything he writes. (Stop me.)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Students get laid. I get lied to. The unfairness of it all!

Ah, fall time.  All summer, I miss the cool breeze, spectacular colors of leaves, football tailgating and plagiarism.  Er, wait.  What was that last one?

Classes started so I have to deal with the copied lab reports.  Here is a sample of this year's crop of excuses.

10. I didn’t copy the whole paragraph.

 9. Just because I forgot to change the date when I copied last year’s report doesn’t mean I should be caught plagiarizing.

8. I have never copied anything in my life and I’m appalled that you would accuse me of this.

7. There are opening and closing quotes at the beginning and end of the paper. I also referenced the source.

6. It's not fair that I get in trouble for plagiarizing because you never said that you would be checking.

5. I didn’t copy anything. My roommate wrote the assignment.

4. I know that the odds of me writing that paragraph all by myself and it matching Wikipedia are extremely small but it could still happen.

3. I have never copied anything in my life and I’m appalled that you would accuse me of this.

2. This was my first time plagiarizing. I promise to get better.

1. I know now that the syllabus says not to copy lab reports but where does it say that I’m supposed to read the syllabus? You never gave us a handout saying that.

I am not only disappointed that they plagiarize but their excuses reveal a complete ignorance of current events.  If they followed politics, they would use much better lies.

Welcome to Dr. Python: "It's Tuesday; I'm not Hiram, but I am Baffled..." An Early Thirsty for the Ages.

I will pursue this heroic task of substituting for Hiram in my own ... particular .... ahhh ... idiom!!

I love this site, as you all do, a place to lovingly gather to vent over the idiocies and injustices we encounter while we attempt do to good in the world (see, very heroic!). Yet there are those who stand in the way, often adminflakes and dastardly colleagues.

Q: So, here is what baffles me: why is this so? How do adminiflakes, many of whom come from the ranks of faculty, turn into vicious vipers? Insights, anyone?

The Kids Who Trashed the House. An Update Sent in by Burnt Chrome.

Here's a followup to an earlier article about some soon to be college students.

Some flava:
An Open Letter To Parents In Rensselaer County
What planet do you live on?
Last week, word got out that your children had broken into a home in Stephentown and threw a party. More than 300 of them partied and drunkenly smashed windows, urinated on the floors, stood on tables, punched holes in the ceiling and stole a statue that was part of a memorial for the owner’s stillborn grandson. Oh, it gets better. Before, during and after the party, they tweeted about it and posted pictures of themselves engaged in this behavior.
Way to go.
The rest. 

It goes on to say that kids will be kids (which I don't necessarily agree with) but when they act like dipshits it's your job as a parent to make them make amends. So there is at least one radio DJ who gets it.

Monday, September 23, 2013

"My Mean Self Sends Some Email." Dr. Amelia Offers Up Some Old School Smackdown!

Groundhog Day Gary: You know that stuff I wrote on papers 1-3 that you needed to not do any more? You also didn't do it on paper four. So, to answer your question, to get better grades, read what I write is wrong on your papers and STOP DOING THAT THING! SMH.

LMS Lola: It's week 5. It is time for you to learn how to submit your papers in the LMS. If you try this sometime other than 5 seconds before the assignment is due, you can call the helpful technical support number I sent you the last two times you had "problems." I know the LMS is not intuitive. I'm old, and I still learned to use it.

Grubbing Grady: If your assignment is due by 1 p.m. Sunday, don't be e-mailing me at 6 p.m. Sunday asking why I haven't graded it yet. If if you do, for the love of tea and the parties it is served at, do not close with "I hope you had a nice weekend."

Smiling Sheila: That thing in the syllabus about how if you are texting in class, I'm lowering your grade and not telling you? That.

Adminiflake Andy: Yes, I showed up for Parent's Weekend yesterday (part of my nice weekend, Grady - remember you saw me there? Guess what? It's not nice for me). And I talked to flakies' parents. Do you realize that having this coffee for parents and professors mostly means me practicing my happy face elevator speech about FERPA and how I can't tell you how junior is doing in my class?

Loud Larry: Yes, I'm sure the brash class clown routine got you far in high school. Your teachers loved the breath of fresh air you brought into the classroom. Sadly, I don't teach in the comedy major, so you'll have to convince me you know about hamster fur in here.

Today on "Professor Facepalm."

Professor Facepalm brings you tiny, bite-sized misery!

Yes, I said "fuck." Or, more accurately, "So what the fuck was all this shit about a cave and shadows and whatnot really about."

Yes, this is how I teach.

No, I cannot actually "get in trouble" for this.

No, I don't particularly appreciate you expressing your concerns that I would "get in trouble" for this to my boss.

No, I don't believe it was done out of "concern," you passive-aggressive twits.

No, I have not forgotten that you're still sulking from being told on the second day of class that if you keep talking during the lecture I'm putting your asses out of the room.

Yes, my boss knows about that little incident.

Yes, he also thinks you're both idiots.

Yes, we did make fun of you both. Mercilessly.

No, this isn't high school.

(Takers on how many more times I'll have to say that to these two this semester?)

Sunday, September 22, 2013

But the Google is so much easier... A playlet.

Act: Whatever,
Scene: I've lost count

Enter Three Bros.  They do not notice Rosencrantz and/or Guildenstern concealed behind an arras.

Bros (all at once): Dude, Sup?, Hey et cetera

First Bro: Hey, you guys waiting for Hamster Husbandry lab?

Second Bro: Nah, we got that Thursday.

Third Bro: You tried that pre-lab quiz yet?

First Bro: Yeah, you do it online before you go.  It's not too bad.

R/G (aside): Indeed young page, it is but a trifle to ensure you read your lab manual and come to lab prepared.  'Tis nothing to be feared.

Second Bro: Like, what'd it ask?

First Bro: It was almost, like, chemistry sort of. There was one question that was, like, "Is hamster fur made of keratin or chitin?" 

Third Bro: What'd you put?

First Bro: I said keratin.

R/G (aside): Well done gentle squire.  Verily, the fur of mammals is indeed formed from strands of the finest keratin. 

Second Bro: So, like, why do we gotta know that?

R/G (aside): Err...  That thou mayst take full advantage of the educational opportunities offered forth in this week's laboratory session, which sooth doth focus on the properties of hamster fur.  Saucy knave!

First Bro: Dunno, but my advice is to, like, have your google browser open in another window.  Then it's pretty quick to find the answer and enter it into the web quiz.

R/G (aside): Or thou coulds't but read the fucking manual!  Arrant lout.

Exeunt to sound of R/G gently weeping for the state of higher education.

Haggling over grades (not the usual kind)

Scene: the Department Chair's office. Proffie P reports for his annual performance review interview. Proffies are graded on a scale of 1 (unsatisfactory) to 5 (greatly exceeds expectations) for teaching, research and service.

Chair (looking at P's report): Hmm, well, research is not a problem. You've published long papers in good journals recently and, hmm, I'd say you are, uh, hm, in, I guess, the top 25 percent of the department in terms of papers. So, hmm, you know, I have no problem giving you a 4 for research.
Am I Hank, or am I Walter?

Prof P: Good. I'll do my best to keep that up.

Chair: Teaching however, hmm, you know, continues to be an area of, uh, concern.

Prof P. How so?  I taught two graduate courses, and got two students in them to decide to do thesis work in my area. And for my undergraduate courses: is there anything extraordinary about my success rates?

Chair (looking at report): Well, hmm, you know, actually, both for course A and course B, the percentage of students passing was slightly lower than the mean, but within normal range. But enrollment in course A was, hmm, you know, quite low, and in course B about half of, erm, hmm, what it normally is.

Prof P: I have no control over that, over the number of students who sign up for my classes. This can't possibly be used to evaluate teaching.

Chair: Well, hmm, actually, as a matter of fact you do have some, hmm, er, influence over that, through your SNEF scores. And your SNEF scores for course B were, uh, you know, quite low, especially on this one question we use for comparison (out of 24).

Prof P.  As you know, less than one-third of the students do the online evaluations, and it is safe to guess which third of the class that is, right? We don't even know if all the students doing evaluations were still attending.

Chair. Yes, that's true, but nevertheless you know that, hmm, the administration and, well, uh, you know, students, pay attention to these numbers and so, yadda, yadda, yadda, same old story ad nauseam.

(Prof and Chair kick that around for a while. Then the Chair pulls his rabbit out of the hat.)

CM Flashback: 3 Years Ago Today. Some Smackdown!

A little bit of the smackdown...

Stinky Stewie: Dude, I’m your TA—that’s, like, 1 step removed from your instructor. Most students avoid sitting by the TA like s/he is infected with the Black Death. So why, in this large auditorium full of small, crammed together, uncomfortable seats, did you decide to sit next to me when there were plenty of other seats open? I could have gotten through the two hours of class in close proximity to you, but then you made it your business to comment to me on everything the prof said. Really? I don't care about your interpretation of his statements.

Oh, and P.S.: Your….breath….is….GHASTLY. Do you reserve teeth-brushing only for holidays and special occasions? My God, I could have smelled you from 10 feet away. Less than 10 inches away and I was holding the vomit down. Two words, buddy. ORAL. HYGIENE.

Slacking Sally: I fully respect the need to provide accommodations for those students with disabilities. Most students are pretty responsible about making sure the instructor is aware of their needs the first week of class. So when you email me a week before the first exam to tell me that you aren’t able to take notes and need me to find someone who HAS been taking notes for the past MONTH of class, I really want to tell you to go fuck yourself. Instead, I managed to find a note taker during class that very same day, and then I informed you that I would refer the note taker to the disability student service office so they could handle you. So WHY THE FUCK did you email AGAIN 2 hours after class to ask ME for her contact information? Are you worried you won’t get notes in time for the test? Then how about next time, you take some fucking responsibility for yourself. I am not here to be your personal assistant.

Cohort Cody: I adore my husband. What can I say? We’ve only been married three years, so maybe there’s still a lot of that “newlywed bliss” going on, but I adore him. We have a damn good marriage. I have made these facts abundantly clear to you. You have seen us together at department-related gatherings and student parties, where it is clear we are happy together. So why…the…hell do you send me flirtatious emails? Why do you launch those sly, solicitous looks my way? Why do you look for excuses to touch my arm or my shoulder? I am NOT into you—hell, I don’t even like you as a person. You are annoying and egotistical. Not to mention the fact that you are 17 YEARS MY SENIOR. Sir, you are technically old enough to be MY FATHER. Leave me alone before my husband busts. a. cap. in. your. ass.

- Posted by Candy from Casa Grande

Coming to a College Near You Soon...

all flava and pics from

Former NFL offensive lineman Brian Holloway has a house and 200 acres of property in Stephentown, N.Y. Over Labor Day weekend, while Holloway was away, roughly 300 kids threw a gigantic rager at his house without his knowledge, trashed the place, and stole his stuff. Teens are the worst.

Aside from being the worst, teens are also stupid. They tweeted and Instagrammed photos while at the party, and Holloway easily found out why his house was fucked up when he got back. Instead of being furious—well, maybe he was still angry, justifiably—Holloway created Help Me Save 300, an internet effort to help straighten the paths of the kids who did an estimated $20,000 worth of property damage. Holloway put as many screenshots of tweets and photos as he could find, not in an effort to shame them, but to try and meet and speak with them. These teens had quite a party.


You'll recall Brian Holloway, the former New England Patriots lineman whose vacation home in upstate New York was broken into, urinated on and generally destroyed by partying teenagers. The party became a story because Holloway publicly shamed the 200-300 idiot kids who posted pictures and tweets cataloguing the various ways they mangled his property. Now some parents want to sue him for it. “Some complained that this will ruin their kids’ college plans. Others have threatened me, saying ‘Take my kid’s name down or I’m gonna press charges against you.’


Saturday, September 21, 2013

William "Sun." 1930-2013

My old man died this morning. He was a hard man. He loved very little and not very well.

At the very end of his life he came to live with me. It was not pretty; it was not fun. He denied I was his son several times over the years, but never more so than the last months. He was hateful.

And my heart broke when it was done. He will always be my dad.



A Weekend Thirsty. Share Yer Adjuncting Misery.

Greybeards, Supervisors, Adminflakes, Gradflakes, Students – they all cause us misery! It's even worse when you're an adjunct, a visiting prof or any prof without tenure. What’s the worst thing that’s ever been done to you?

Here’s my own tale of woe to start us off: Back in the day, in my final year of my PhD, I was in dire financial straits and so visiting at a Midwestern teaching school one state over from the school I was enrolled in. My agreed class load was 3 classes of Intro to Hamsterology per semester, repeated both semesters, and I was told there'd be 30 students in each class. Semester 1 went well and I even made progress on my dissertation.

At the end of the semester, the Campus Bookstore emailed me- “hey DK, we’re just checking on what book you wanted for your Intro to Hamsterology classes for Semester 2 because 300 books are a lot of books and we don’t want to get the order wrong”.” After much investigation, I found out that at a department meeting, the ProfFlakes had decided that since I had done such a good job with my Semester 1 students, they would consolidate all 10 30-person Intro to Hamsterology classes into 3 large classes of 100 each – all to be taught by me, for no extra pay and with no administrative assistance with grading etc. Not that anyone had actually bothered to tell me this. One younger professor told me he had said in the meeting “DK will never finish her PhD if we do this to her” and the Greybeards had replied “It doesn’t matter because DK is not one of OUR PhD students”. [

I survived but it was a long hard semester]. Now it's YOUR turn.

Q: What the worst thing that's ever been done to you?

friday night drunk decline of civilization

This was a wonderful day.  The person referred to as "Bubbsy" by a worrisomely significant other sat proudly on his horse in line behind a hundred other people outside an Apple Store and bagged the elephant.  He now is supersaturated with bourbon.  Probably 117% or so.  iOS7 knocked him off his rocker, so to speak.  It was "an experience," as one of his fellow travelers would say.

And then, in his drunken stage-7 stupor, he reads the Wall Street Journal on his kitchen table and photographs part of it for the Friday night CM friends.  There are slight moments of insight and clarity, he thinks, although he knows that he is quite drunk.  The world is whirling around.  What a goddamned kick in the pants it all is.

He worries--as he floats around in his drunkenness--about the world and education and all that.  If the future leaders are not smart, then who will feed and care for his four-legged friend after... you know....


As Education Declines, So Does Civic Culture
by Jonathan Jacobs
from the Wall Street Journal

Even as the cost of higher education skyrockets, its benefits are increasingly being called into doubt. We're familiar with laments from graduates who emerge from college burdened with student loans and wondering if their studies have prepared them for jobs and careers. A less familiar but even more troubling problem is that their education did not prepare them for responsible civic life. The decline in education means a decline in the ability of individuals—and ultimately the nation as a whole—to address political, social and moral matters in effective, considered ways.

The trouble begins before college. Large numbers of high-school students have faced so few challenges and demands that they are badly underprepared for college courses. Many who go on to four-year colleges seem to need two years of college even to begin to understand what it is to study, read carefully and take oneself seriously as a student. For many students, high-school-level preparation for college is a matter of having high self-esteem and high expectations but little else.

Wildcats Look To Rebound From Back to Back Money Game Blowouts.

Weber State’s gas tank is about empty after giving up 70 points two weeks in a row to in-state FBS teams. The Wildcats are beat up, tired and left questioning their own abilities after losing to the University of Utah, 70-7, and Utah State University, 70-6.

Sadly, the season-opening victory over Stephen F. Austin feels like it was eons ago, and the confidence from the victory went with it. So, the question is: are the financial benefits Weber State got from playing two FBS teams worth the harm they caused? In short, they are worth it only under the direst of financial circumstances.

I know that FCS programs need revenue from big-money football matchups, and that the money generated from football helps all the other sports, but there comes a time when it is just too hard on the athletes to match up two weeks in a row. Weber State athletic director Jerry Bovee has stated multiple times the Wildcats are getting out of the mindset of playing two, and it is a wise choice. Playing one game is bad enough, as Weber’s game against Utah cost the Wildcats their starting quarterback, Jordan Adamczyk, for the Utah State game because he was too beat up to play.


Hard Henry From Hudson on Snowflakes Who Have The Laissez-Faire Approach to Higher Ed. RYS Flashback: 4 Years Ago Today..

Monday, September 21, 2009

I don't know if I'm just tired or what, but this latest group of student-snowflakes has already worn me down to the nub.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not in turmoil about what to do, or fearful or anything at all like most of your writers who seem determined to be up in arms about whatever, but never do more than write "pretend" letters to you about what they would do only if...

"Only if" doesn't exist for me. I'm old, have tenure, run a tiny department, and have no one to answer to. (The Dean lives on my street and we drink malted beverages 3 nights a week.)

So, my only reason for writing is to say, "Why don't college students make their college education a priority?"

Just this past week I had the following:

  • Baffled Brittany who missed both classes because her mom wanted her to get a flu shot, not just any flu shot, but the one that her family doctor administered 250 miles away in Podunkville. That Dr. Homebody gets the same shipment of drugs as the campus dispensary doesn't matter. Better to miss 2 days of class.
  • Dull Daryl who missed both classes but barraged me with emails telling me he wouldn't be in class, and could I write to him the "jist" of what he had missed. When I tried to reply to him, the school's server replied with: "Student account closed for code violations."
  • Isolated Ike who missed one class and joined the other one 30 minutes in progress. When I asked him where he'd been, he said, "I just let the days get away from me, I guess."
  • Ringing Rodney who twice grabbed his loudly ringing phone and then took calls out in the hallway (small thanks, I suppose). After class I reminded him that it's polite to turn off all electronic devices during class. Rodney replied, "I never hear my vibrate mode. Plus I've got some stuff going on that I need to keep tabs on."
  • Ailing Abigail who came to class to tell me she couldn't attend because she felt that the flu was coming on. I told her, fine, take it easy, go take care of yourself. An hour later after I finished class, I strolled back to my office and spotted her eating a submarine sandwich and chips while sitting on the grass outside our classroom building, talking with friends.

Oh, those examples are probably pretty tame. But, seriously, does anyone else find that students just don't make these darn classes we offer a priority? As I said, I'm not tied in knots about it. I don't let it worry me, and penalties for bullshit are pretty clear in my class. These folks aren't getting away with anything on me, and I'm not going out of my way to help them avoid the work they think they're avoiding, but where does this laissez-faire attention to their studies come from?

Friday, September 20, 2013

Fab Gets the Mail...

We get an increasing number of emails from online sources trying to get us to feature their own articles, which are usually packed with ads and so on. These sources are usually tangentially connected to higher education, but not always.

Usually they come address to a person's name who recently posted on CM. For example, "Kimmie" got an email this morning from a website that features "how to" craft projects. They "loved" her recent post and thought that her blog would be a great fit for one of their articles.

Here's part of it:

Items that should go into the perfect student care package include:
Baked Goods – Nothing reminds college students of home more than homemade treats.  And unless they live in a sorority house, chances that students have had anything homemade since the first day of class are slim.  Pack some chocolate chip cookies in disposable Tupperware and stick them in the package for an extremely happy student.  Plus, sharing goodies with dorm-mates is a great way for students to meet people.
Non-Perishable Snacks - College students love food, so even if you packed baked goods, including more food is never a bad thing.  Choose fun snacks that especially appeal to college students: flavored chips, beef jerky, and candy are just a few ideas.  Look for brands that have especially exciting names, like “monster meat sticks,” or snacks with strange flavor combinations.  These kinds of snacks are definitely more interesting to unpack than plain old potato chips.
Money or Gift Card - This is the number one thing college students look for in a care package.  Including this can either make or break a care package’s success rate, so make sure to include at least a dollar.  College students are generally broke, so literally any amount of money will be appreciated.  Gift cards are another option for parents who don’t feel comfortable sending cash, and students will be just as grateful.
Card or Note – A cute card or note lets students know they’re missed.  A funny note or story can brighten up their day and is a welcome interruption from homework.  And remember, the best care package cards are the ones that contain cash.
Pet Picture ­-No offense to parents, but college students have been known to miss their pets more than other family members.  Include a picture of the family pet if you have one—students love to bond over missing their pets.
Funny Gag Gifts - Sending students cheap, funny products from pharmacies, such as cartoon character toothpaste or a racecar toothbrush, is sure to bring a laugh.  If a holiday is coming up, consider sending a silly gift like holiday slippers.
Hometown Reminders - Clip out an amusing story from your local newspaper and add it into your package.  Senses of hometown pride grow exponentially in college, so students love reminders of home that will enable them to talk about where they come from.

Advice for Proffies. From A NJ Times Opinion Piece.

So, here’s my list of things for professors to remember as we start a new school year:

1) Your job is to teach whomever is in your class. This might not always include the most engaged and eloquent students. Deal with it. Try to be creative and flexible so that you can help those students become more engaged. If this isn’t your strong suit, seek help. There is no shortage of great journals and books devoted to enhancing teaching skills.

2) Being empathetic to students’ issues and problems does not make you weak. Rather, trying to understand why a student might be struggling and, when appropriate, making accommodations, is a sign of respect. When you treat students this way, they typically respond in kind.

3) Students’ lives outside the classroom can be an important part of their education. We are constantly socialized through our lived experiences. It behooves us to be aware of what is happening on campus so we can help students see the connections between their work, their family lives, even their campus activities and what is happening in the classroom.

4) College education should be about preparing students to create a better world. This is the most important of the four. If we continue to teach the same content and in the same ways as we were taught, we are preparing people to live in a world that is like ours today.


--Laura Finley, Ph.D., teaches in the department of sociology and criminology at Barry University

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Did I Miss Anything?

Professor Monkey,

I wasn't able to come to class today. It wasn't my fault though -- last night's storm scared my dog and he kept me up all night trying to figure out what was going on. It was a pretty scary storm. Did I miss anything?

Samantha Snower-Flakey

An Ode To Samantha, stolen from Tom Wayman

When we realized you weren’t here
we sat with our hands folded on our desks
in silence, for the full two hours     
I gave an exam worth
40 percent of the grade for this term
and assigned some reading due today
on which I’m about to hand out a quiz
worth 50 percent
None of the content of this course
has value or meaning
Take as many days off as you like:
any activities we undertake as a class
I assure you will not matter either to you or me
and are without purpose     
A few minutes after we began last time 
a shaft of light suddenly descended and an angel 
or other heavenly being appeared 
and revealed to us what each woman or man must do 
to attain divine wisdom in this life and 
the hereafter 
This is the last time the class will meet 
before we disperse to bring the good news to all people 
on earth.
When you are not present
how could something significant occur?     
Contained in this classroom 
is a microcosm of human experience 
assembled for you to query and examine and ponder 

This is not the only place
such an opportunity has been gathered
but it was one place
And you weren’t here

Facebook BFFs Forever and Ever... thank you, FERPA!

I don't go on Facebook every day, but when sitting through interminably long meetings with twelve different VPs getting up to PowerPoint their way through their annual goals, I have been known to distract myself by checking to see what my virtual friends are doing, if only to remind myself that others have trials far worse than five-hour long meetings at the beginning of the quarter (yes, the quarter is just beginning for us).

And what a fun greeting Facebook provided: a request from a total stranger. This isn't that strange to me. I've ignored some of these in the past. However, this one was accompanied by a message from the total stranger. It started with:
You don't know me, but my daughter is in one of your classes, and I would love to be your friend so you can keep me updated on her progress...
And that's how far I got before completely shutting down, both electronically and mentally.

This Week's Big Thirsty. Let's Put Aside the Normal Proffie Pet Peeves and Write Some New, Badass Ones.

We get a lot of links like this one, a usually recycled list of proffie pet peeves (you know, don't ask if you missed anything important, don't ask about something on the syllabus). The lineup only rarely changes.

They're actually good for kids going into college, but we've posted things like this so often that I just thought we should start our own CM list. The Real Badass, "Is Walter from Waxahachie A Lot Like Walter White, Beaker Ben Is Going to Set You Up and Stella Is Going to Knock You Down, But You Better Pray Strelnikov Doesn't Get Word About Your Stupidity" Pet Peeves for the Modern Proffie, Proud, Profane, Pissed Off, and Profound.

Q: What is your Badass Pet Peeve About Doing this Gig?

If It's Thursday, I Must Be All Tingled Out.

I follow
Hiram's lead,

and take my leave
from this space.

We all tingle;
we are all baffled.

We fight and fuss
and get fucked.

Our world,
did we choose it?

Do we make it,
or does it make us?

One must wrestle it all,
that is sure.

But should proffies
have opponents?

The Papers . . .

Oh, black heart of chaos, the papers, the papers.  If I burn out from this job it won't be the stupid colleagues (well, maybe), the increasing erratic administration, my sluggish research, or any other minor annoyance of this job.  It'll be the papers.

I would love to reproduce some examples here, but I am paranoid.  I will try to fictionalize without exaggerating.  Let me try to reproduce what I have been reading for the last week, including all of Saturday:

"I beleive on the argument argued by the author of the article 'Hamster Fur: Application and Use' who is John Smith, and when John Smith wrote in his article 'Hamster Fur: Application and Use' that hamster fur had an application and it also had a use, I agreed."

"This is my thesis.  I agree."  (that one is nearly a direct quotation.  I'd fear the kid would identify me, but that requires literacy)

"By weaving the fur, it makes the fabric stronger."  (This construction shows up all over the place: the instrumental followed by the goddamned phantom pronoun.  Gah, I hate it.)

"In reading the story by Smith called 'Hamster Fur' I agreed but I disagreed on the fact that hamster fur is not made of alpaca hair."  (Smith, obviously, never even hints that it might be.  In fact, he says "Hamster fur is very distinct from alpaca fur, for the following reasons."  It's also not a story, goddamn it.)

"Can we ever really understand hamster fur?  it is a mystery, and like a mystery, we embrace it's mystery, and that is why.  I say the hamster isn't in the fact of hamster, but moreso.  Consequently, I agree with Smith."

Some of it is just not being familiar with the discourse of academia.  But a lot of it is the lazy refusal to think or be clear.  They won't -- maybe they can't? -- consider an audience outside of themselves.  And so they can never be clear.

And somehow, they expect a good grade.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Death of an adjunct

There are no words.

Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei. Requiescat in pace. Amen.

Death of an Adjunct. From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazzette.

More than 20 readers have sent us this link to share.


By Daniel Kovalik

Duquesne Univ.
Old Main.
On Sept. 1, Margaret Mary Vojtko, an adjunct professor who had taught French at Duquesne University for 25 years, passed away at the age of 83. She died as the result of a massive heart attack she suffered two weeks before. As it turned out, I may have been the last person she talked to.

On Aug. 16, I received a call from a very upset Margaret Mary. She told me that she was under an incredible amount of stress. She was receiving radiation therapy for the cancer that had just returned to her, she was living nearly homeless because she could not afford the upkeep on her home, which was literally falling in on itself, and now, she explained, she had received another indignity -- a letter from Adult Protective Services telling her that someone had referred her case to them saying that she needed assistance in taking care of herself. The letter said that if she did not meet with the caseworker the following Monday, her case would be turned over to Orphans' Court.

For a proud professional like Margaret Mary, this was the last straw; she was mortified. She begged me to call Adult Protective Services and tell them to leave her alone, that she could take care of herself and did not need their help. I agreed to. Sadly, a couple of hours later, she was found on her front lawn, unconscious from a heart attack. She never regained consciousness.

More of this article.
Duquesne student paper.


Update printed in the Duquesne paper: 
In response to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette’s opinions column by Daniel Kovalik posted online today, Duquesne University Chaplain and Director of Campus Ministry Daniel Walsh issued the following statement:

“I was incredulous after reading Daniel Kovalik’s op-ed piece about Margaret Mary Votjko [sic]. I knew Margaret Mary well. When we learned of problems with her home she was invited to live with us in the formation community at Laval House on campus, where she resided for several weeks over the past year. Over the course of Margaret Mary’s illness I, along with other Spiritan priests, visited with her regularly. In addition, the University and the Spiritan priests at Duquesne offered several other types of assistance to her. Mr. Kovalik’s use of an unfortunate death to serve an alternative agenda is sadly exploitive, and is made worse because his description of the circumstances bears no resemblance to reality.”

Google’s Boss and a Princeton Professor Agree: College Is a Dinosaur. From Bloomberg.

Colleges and universities are indecisive, slow-moving, and vulnerable to losing their best teachers to the Internet.

That’s the shared view of Google (GOOG) Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt and Anne-Marie Slaughter, a former Department of State official and until this month a tenured professor at Princeton University. They explored the problems of higher education on Friday in a one-on-one conversation sponsored by the New America Foundation, where Schmidt serves as chairman and Slaughter is the new president.

Colleges have the luxury of thorough, democratic deliberation of issues because “they never actually do anything,” Schmidt said during the event. He cited Princeton, where he graduated in 1976 and once served as trustee, which spent six years deliberating over whether to change its academic calendar—and in the end did nothing. “Don’t get me started on that,” Slaughter laughed.


Academic Monkey Gives Unsolicited Advice

I have yet to meet someone whose personal life and academic career have not conflicted in some profound way. Long-distance relationships, grad-school children, sudden death in the family, and financial calamity are all par for the course on the academic track to get tenure before 35 or 40. This week's problem takes that truism to a new level.
~ Academic Monkey

Problem Posed:
I’m five years into my tenure clock at a mid-size R1 school in the Midwest. I have a good job. The pay isn’t great, but I’m relatively sure I’ll get tenure. Students are very good to me, my colleagues are fantastic, and I’ve had some luck with grants and publications that make everything look good. I'm pretty happy here. But I have a problem: money. Well, money, and love.

Three years ago, my partner of 16 years was diagnosed with a mental illness. The details don’t really matter, and I refuse to give up on him now that he is seeking treatment. However, before we realized what was going on, he did some things that were not responsible. He opened a lot of credit cards and took out a few loans – in my name as well as his – and before I was aware of his mental illness, he was $86,000 in debt. We didn’t have a lot of money and now the debt has ballooned to $130,000. He is now in treatment and I am doing my best to pay down this money while he gets the help he needs.

From Kimmie. Snowflake Essays.

This comes from one of my students, but not from something he did in my class. I have a reputation as someone who'll help student writers even though it's not my main field. This student came to me with a rough draft about a personal essay he was writing in a non-fiction class at my college.

It starts like this:
I don't drive. I don't have a license. Sure, I'm old enough, but I don't want the hassle of a car or insurance or driving my younger sibling around.
So how do I get around? My mom and dad drive me everywhere. They take me to school and to my job - they figure they owe me that. And when I want to party, they drop me at a friend's house and pick me up. No drinking and driving for me.

Odds and Ends (well, more Odd than anything) from Dr Magnus.

Here are a few random odds and ends that I sought might give someone a slight chuckle.

  1. Remark overheard from a student: I love going to school here ... there are so many girls and they aren't my cousins!
  2. Comment from a student: If you fall on that cast iron base and get knocked unconscious, Dr Magnus, we'll follow the fifteen minute rule: if you don't get up in fifteen minutes, we all leave.
  3. Comment from various students: If that TA Sinbad puts on his safety glasses, we know that we ALL need our safety glasses because something is about to go flying through the air. (You can guess that Sinbad was more of a "do as I say, rather than I do" TA when it came to safety gasses)
  4. Seen over a student's shoulder on the screen of their laptop: Latest eBay bids on baby chickens (he was actively bidding, too)
  5. The number of students who were brave enough to play paintball in the woods with Dr HaveEnoughRealFirearmsToArmASmallNation: 0
  6. Student behavior during a tornado warning when everyone is supposed to head for the basement: gather on the second floor open walkway between two buildings and watch for the tornado to approach
  7. Spookiest Halloween costume: Someone dressed up a like scarecrow with a pumpkin head, stood very still in the elevator, then quietly followed people out and peered around the corner at them
  8. Worst Halloween costume: The math prof who dressed up like a nerd AND NO ONE NOTICED

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

You mean we have to learn this by ourselves?

Hi folks.  I've been enjoying the rest of the misery over the past several weeks.  I have things I'd like to post, but too many of them are probably too difficult for me to generalize - much of my personal misery has to do with profflakes and adminflakes, and I know that people at my NSWBLAC love to read CM.  I'd be found out.  Every now and then though, I get a classic from a precious snowflake.  The following really happened just two weeks ago.

I teach a section of Introduction to Hamsterfur Weaving.  We had just completed an activity designed to introduce students in the course to the basic nomenclature of hamsterfur weaves, which is a necessary skill if the students are to be able to identify the different types of weaves discussed during the rest of the semester.

The majority of the students were working together, identifying things like the "rasta hamsterweave", the "trailer park weave", and the "cammullet weave".  I noticed that Sammie Snowflake's hand was raised, so I walked over to see what was up.

Sammie Snowflake:  "So, do we have to learn this by ourselves?"

Zeke: "........"

2 minutes later...

Zeke: "Class, Sammie Snowflake just asked an interesting question, 'Do we have to learn this by ourselves?'  Thank you Sammie, for asking.  Yes.  Yes you do.  In fact, anything you learn, you have to learn by yourselves.  Otherwise, you haven't learned it."

Sammie sat and stewed while the rest of the class got on with the process of learning.  By themselves.

Can we please just stop? From Dr. Amelia.

We are well into the semester, now. I'm lesson planning, getting ready for two conferences this fall, dealing with proofs and, oh yes, going to a hellish series of meetings that seem to have no discernible point. To wit: we are changing up the hamster fur weaving major. This is requiring 3 meetings every week for the first 6 weeks of classes. For a curriculum that just won a national award for being super awesome.

So we are taking what clearly already works, and breaking it in the name of being innovative. Or maybe not. It seems like all we are doing is taking a group of people who seem like they all got along and agreed, and forcing them into cage matches over minutae. Should the 3rd level course use 1/8 in. combs or 1/16 in? Do students still need to learn hand weaving? Each meeting is turning in to a bunch of hurt feelings and griping past each other.

And why are we doing this? I am not sure. Cynical Dr. A. says it's because we have too many administrators, and they need something to do and these meetings are something to do. Nice Dr. A. says we should make sure we are always doing well. But here's the thing. Most people thought we WERE doing well. But that wasn't an option in this whole revision process. And now we all look warily at each other and one of the things that made working here fun - great colleagues whom I really respected, is diminished.

So can we please just stop?

Speedy Rant

Seriously, why can't they follow simple directions?

Me:  "Submit your comments to Blackhole Board."

Jimmie:  "I emailed it to you, is that okay?"

Kylie:  "I printed it out, is that okay?"

Billie:  "I prefer Google Drive.  I submitted it there, okay?"

Davie:  "My mom submitted it for me, is that okay?"

Dannie:  "I emailed it to the chair of the department, is that okay?"

I seriously cannot understand their absolute inability to follow directions.  It's like they're deliberately pushing to see how much of their work I'll do for them.  And then they get huffy.  "I emailed it to you, didn't you get it?"  Um, I have a lot of better things to do than do your work for you?  Like, say, grading papers, teaching classes?  "Huff!"

"I couldn't submit it!  The computer wouldn't let me."  No, time wouldn't let you.  At my back I always hear, time's winged chariot hurrying near, but you evidently are deaf to deadlines.  The deadline is past.  That ship has sailed.

Seriously, you'd think people with doctorates would be better at following directions.  I can't wait for my term as secretary of faculty senate to end.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Socratic method at work

"SUBJECT re: exam 1
hello, i am back from my trip and i have a few questions.
i was confused to how it will be formated. we have been looking at XYZ in class, will the exam be a compilation of XYZ from the covered material that we will be asked to identify or what?
also i know you hate answering this question, but i am a little behind due to my absence... what are the chapters i need to be reviewing. i am in the process of going through the book to fill in the handouts i missed.
thank you
john smith"

"Hi, John.
Did you get a copy of the exam study guide (it's up on Blackboard if you didn't)? Should make most things clear."

"i actually found right after i sent you that.
as far as format tho, is it a scantron test?"

and immediately,

"well shit i just found that out too.......sorry.

My job here is done.

No More Games: Read the Fucking Syllabus

We are on the quarter system, which means we have not started classes yet (but remember, we don't get out until the end of June!). Here's my current misery in the form of an email exchange that started a month ago:

Can you tell me the book we are using in your class.
Thank you.
[No Name]


I teach several courses. I'm not sure which one you are in. Please let me know which course you have signed up for and I will email you the course syllabus, which has a list of books you will need.


I am in your Treedecorating course.

Today’s typical college students often juggle work, children and bills with coursework. From the WashPost.

That idea of a college student spending four luxurious, carefree years studying is passe. Of the more than 20 million students enrolled at thousands of two- and four-year colleges and universities across the nation, only about one-third fit that traditional description.

About 40 percent of all college students are older than 25, according to U.S. Education Department data. More than a third attend classes part-time. Nearly 20 percent work full-time. About 60 percent enroll at four-year public and private schools, while the rest mostly attend community colleges or enroll at for-profit colleges. Very few attend the well-known universities topping the U.S. News and World Report rankings.


Recognize these Colleagues from Hell?

Slimey Sam: I can’t believe I was stupid enough to go to your presentation on “My Porn Addiction Revealed as Research on Hamster Art” It’s great to finally be able to understand why you spend all those hours huddled in front of your pc in your darkened office. Thanks for not sharing the pictures.

Lazy Lisa: Every year you co-lead projects on Teaching and Learning about Hamsters and appear to be doing ALL the work, while your co-leader appears to be doing nothing. Guess what? We’re all smart enough to know you ALWAYS take credit for your co-leader’s work so that’s why every year you need a new co-leader because everyone knows you are the laziest person on the planet.

Idiot Ian: Hey I saw you grilling my gradflake in the hallway, trying to find out what my current research is all about. Go for it. You don’t know how to do research and you won’t be able to publish from my work, even if I gave you a file with all my data in it.

Sunday, September 15, 2013


Oh, sarcastic joy!  My online class has arrived at our World Hamster Comparative Religions unit. At the beginning of this unit each semester, I check my bank account to make sure the university's check has cleared.  Those sweet, sweet digits are all that get me through the existential terror that always results from viewing a week's worth of incorrigible religious ignorance and provincialism.

The assignment, of course, has nothing to do with personal religious beliefs.  It asks the students to analyze the emergence of some major world religions in their historical contexts.

This year I've had to read the following.

A Tale of Two CCs

I'm working for two different community colleges this semester. The experiences are... distinct...

Updated Statistics on the Misery

I enjoy reading this graphic -- not because I am a masochist who loves pain and misery, but because it puts in rather stark terms the struggle we or our colleagues are facing, right now, at all of our institutions.

If only there were an easy solution.

[Clicking on the original link below and opening the graphic there may provide easier reading. Or try CTRL + to make your screen a bit bigger.]

Twit Tweet.

What to Do? A Special Sunday Thirsty.

Hey CM, It's been awhile, I know. The summer got a bit out of hand. Long story short, my path through adjuncting led me to a full time, tenure-track position. Apart from a chair who is crazy, things are unfolding quite well. Let's just say I've learned to be seen and not heard around the department.

However, I've been thinking about the post by Krabby Kathy last week.  I'm a full timer, but I'm not interested in having my ring (or anything else) kissed. I used to be there myself, and it was only luck of the draw that I ended up full time.

Q: What can I do as a new faculty member to help out our hardworking adjuncts? Please remember that 1) my chair is crazy, 2) I don't have any authority over decisions of workload and salary, and 3) my chair is crazy.