Friday, November 30, 2007

White men singing

I can't seem to get enough of this song lately. Lucas has been asking to see a lot of Johnny Cash videos ("Gee-tar! Cash!"), and I'm a huge fan of Willie Nelson and especially Kris Kristofferson. I have to admit that while Waylon Jennings is fun, I'd rather see Merle Haggard in his role. . .

Anyhoo, here's a video of a live performance:

I especially like Johnny Cash as a starship pilot. Make it so, Mr. Cash.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Cutest dino-dragon ever


(I love the tail.)

No pants! No pants!

So. . . I've been taking these unexpected, but not too long, hiatuses. I've been reading blogs like crazy, but I just haven't felt much like writing, nor commenting. Feeling kind of wallflowerish, I guess. (Let's call it "reflective.")

I hope that means more posts are brewing--I think it does.

In the meantime, know that I'm OK, and I'm happy to see that so many of you are doing well, too.

And all that writing and editing I hoped to do this month? Yeah, it's not getting done. Lucas is especially cute right now,* and I can write any time, but he's only this age once.

I'll be back to blogging here soon.

*For example, tonight I had managed to wrestle him into the top of his Superman pajamas set, but he refused to wear the pants. So he took several laps around the house, the whole time yelling, "No pants! No pants!"

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Looking beyond administrivia

I work in an office whose raison d'ĂȘtre is improving the teaching of undergraduates on campus. As part of that, we offer or oversee a couple of instructional programs, a graduate-level seminar on college teaching (which I'm teaching right now) and a first-year seminar program, taught by faculty from across the disciplines, that offers about 100 special-topic seminars each year. Because of this instructional mandate, we have a faculty director with a half-time appointment. This is the case with other offices on campus whose mandate includes undergraduate instruction.

I consider myself extremely fortunate to have come into my job under our current faculty director. Much as I learned about what it means to be a savvy academic and a productive intellectual from Fantastic Mentor, I'm learning so very much about administration from Professor Thoughtful.

We're a very small unit (the equivalent of 6 FTE, plus several graduate student researchers and graduate TA consultants), so when one of our administrative people gave notice yesterday that she'd be leaving us for another unit, I of course immediately thought, "Who the hell are we going to get to replace her? She's terrific!" But today Professor Thoughtful pulled me and my coworker with my same job title (let's call her The Ecologist) into his office and proposed about 30 different ways to reorganize our little unit so that it both functions more efficiently and allows us to collaborate more meaningfully with several other academic departments and administrative units. Obviously, he's been thinking about this reorganization for some time, but literally overnight he came up with all these different reorganization plans, each of which is thoughtful in its own way.

I can't blog about the specifics because what we saw was apparently For Our Eyes Only, but I so much appreciate being included in these discussions, both because I want to have a hand in the reconstruction of the unit and because I really enjoy watching Professor Thoughtful at work. Plus, he very much listens to The Ecologist and me, and I feel he takes our concerns and recommendations to heart.

He also told us that he sees the two of us as the "franchise players" of the unit--and then he had to explain what he meant by that sports metaphor. It's good to know he recognizes our commitment and special skills, and that he wants to provide us with more opportunities to develop professionally. That may mean promotions and a higher salary, or it may not, but regardless of what happens, I'm delighted to be part of this organization.

I read a lot of griping about academia (and have done plenty of it myself), and I wish more academics who are getting the institutional shaft would consider transitioning into positions like mine. There's a huge need, especially at an institution the size of mine, for creative thinkers who not only "think outside the box" but refuse to think about boxes at all.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Smart little poop

CAUTION: This post contains mother-of-toddler poop talk. Read at your own risk.

Today we began toilet training Lucas, albeit with no forethought or real strategy in mind. He's two years and two months old, and all the books say this is about the time to start training.

I saw him grunting during breakfast and put him, fully clothed and diapered, on the potty. He sat there until he was done and then asked to be changed. For the first time ever, he used the word "diaper," totally without prompting.

Usually he poops once a day. After pooping on the potty today, he returned to it twice to poop again. He even threw in a gratuitious non-potty poop for old time's sake.

He must think this is a fun game. I'm not going to be happy, however, if he decides it's fine and dandy to poop four times a day from here on out, especially since I must tend to his modern-day chamber pot. Not cool.

He's going to kill me if this post is still online six or seven years from now.

Feel free to leave toilet-training tips in the comments.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Clearing the decks

Well, I've signed up to participate in International acaDemic Writing Month (InaDWriMo). I've pledged to revise an article that's been sitting around too long, as well as substantively copyedit my dissertation, as well as set up a time to go to an archive that very soon will be moving to a less accessible location. As a bonus, I may finish a book review that I managed to blow off because I've been a slacker a busy mother and 8-to-5 employee.

But before I begin work on those things, I need to spend this weekend clearing the decks--quite literally, as I need horizontal space on which to work. My to-do list:
  • Clean bill-paying stuff and other papers from dining room table. That means finishing paying the bills, of course. . . misc. papers cleared (by moving them to my desk)!
  • Clear off craft table in kitchen. done!
  • Clear papers off my desk.
  • Polish off overdue (ouch) work for freelance client.
  • Do museum studies reading and prep for class.
  • Grade museum studies seminar papers.
Those are the primary must-dos. Other possible distractions that should be done this weekend:
  • Catch up on folding laundry.
  • Vacuum.
  • Clean kitchen floor.
  • Dust living room.
What about you? What's on your mind (or your dining room table) that's keeping you from being productive?