Some week-ending quick hits

6 February 2009

Mencia:  Kudos to the many bloggers whom I credit for sounding the alarm about that prick.  I don’t know where the line is between acceptable and not acceptable, but he crossed it.  I’m not saying he shouldn’t be allowed to, only that we don’t have to feature him.  Thanks, Orpheus.

Mencia II:  The bummer is that because the krewe explained that it “safety was a consideration,” he can go around the country saying that it’s so dangerous here he can’t even be safe in a parade.  But maybe because the quality of his humor falls somewhere between Dane Cook and that Cable Guy, no one will be there to hear it. BTW, anybody know what happened to this?

Chris Paul’s New Shoes:  Will the pope approve of CP3’s new kicks, since they seem simultaneously to honor the debauchery that is Mardi Gras and his Christian faith?  Religion, in unimaginably sinful NOLA?  Oh, that’s right, Mardi Gras is a Christian event.  h/t Mike (bet I can tell where you got em)

Did He Get an MD or a PhD?  I didn’t even know Bon Jovi was a doctor, but there it is right there in the schedule for May 2 at JazzFest:  “Dr. John, Bon Jovi.”  Oh wait, there’s an H there, and a comma.  Must be two acts.

Last Weekend’s Highlight:  Great job, Editor B and a bunch of other great folks for their efforts on the Beyond Jena forum.  It was a great event, and we all got a lot out of it, especially the many students who came.

This Weekend’s Highlight:  Tomorrow is Krewe du Vieux, and I’m happy to see that Michael will stop scrutinizing the base among us and join the fold.  I’ll bring the initiation sheep.

Students Can Surprise

14 January 2009

A few years ago, a student of mine I’ll call Del graduated.  He took several courses from me.  In fact, he took a couple of them multiple times, if you know what I mean.  Still, Del was a good guy, and I got a bit of a kick of his informality with me.  He’d say stuff like, “Hey Doc, do you have a minute, or were you about to get your walk on?”  He was funny and pleasant in class, but he had a knack for flaking out at the end of the semester.

Eventually, we talked about depression (I’m careful not to try to diagnose someone, but he clearly wasn’t right), which I suspected from his lack of effort late in the semesters, he got some help, and he did graduate.  I was happy for him, and now he’s a detective with the police department.  I’ll bump into him from time to time and enjoy catching up.  Good guy, Del.

One time, he asked me, “Doc, do you always have a student like me?”  I asked what he meant, and he said that he meant a student who was a pain in the butt.  I told him, honestly, that he was never a pain in the butt, and I explained why.  As I told him, he never tried to blame me for his problems.  If he struggled, he knew I was there to help, but he had to take initiative.  He never brought a bad attitude to class to infect other students, and he was always pleasant with me.  So I was serious when I told him that he was the least of my problems, and I was glad to have him, and I was proud of him for graduating.

Well, last month as we were on our way to a Hornets game, we stopped into Slice for some dinner and bumped into Del.  He was eating there with some colleagues, we caught up for a few minutes, and went back to our dinner.  Comes time for the bill, our server told us that it’d already been paid.  I was really surprised, and that kind of gesture makes me tear up.

I bumped into him a week ago and thanked him and told him how unnecessary it was.  He told me how important what I’m doing was and that I deserved it.  When you know you’ll be making enemies of some of your students when exams and papers start coming due, that kind of thing can keep you going.

So thanks again, Del, and what you’re doing is pretty damned important too.

Lunchtime bitching

12 March 2008

As my eyes are scratchy and I try to get motivated to get some work done after my morning classes, I’m opting to take advantage of the opportunity to complain to you, dear reader.  This isn’t about the state of the city or our surrounding incompetence (and incompetents).  No, this one’s all me.  My eyes are scratchy because I got up real early to try to finish grading papers before class (I failed, but that’s partly because my movie buddy Joe was in town and we watched In the Valley of Elah–great flick; lots better than Crash).

I’m overwhelmed.  I have too many things going on, especially for someone as unorganized and lazy as I am.  Here’s a list of the crap I’m involved in that has regular meetings of varying intensity:

  • President of Faculty Association (closest thing we have to a Faculty Senate)
  • Vice President for Academic Affairs search committee
  • core curriculum review committee
  • search committee for our department
  • chair of new academic integrity committee
  • advisor for our honor society
  • PI on a grant that sends students abroad to do research in developing countries
  • coordinating committee
  • and I just “agreed” to be the faculty representative for our accreditation process

All this is in addition to about 40 advisees, papers in all my classes, supervising student research, and trying to make progress on my & E’s Psyc of Disaster book (we hope to finish in October).   How the hell does this happen?  I know other people are busier than I am, but I guarantee they don’t procrastinate like I do, and they have longer attention spans.  When I tell my folks about some of the stuff I’m doing, I make it sound like an honor, but I know the real story–most of the time, someone says, “HammHawk’ll do it.”  Generally, I don’t mind being a supporting player, but I don’t like being the point person, and now that’s becoming more common.  And if the president asks me to do something (like the VPAA search and the accrediting thing), it’s hard to say no, especially because he’s twice my age and has twice my energy.  Still, I can’t help but think there are people around who’d do a better job, and I could use the help.

Some of these things are kinda fun, and truthfully, I love my job and my employer, so I want to have a voice in what happens.  At the same time, it sometimes leads to unwanted conflict with respected others.   It also allows me a certain level of self-righteousness to say no occasionally and to feel as though if I haven’t been in a meeting with you at least once, you’re not pulling your weight.  Easy, easy, I know that’s not true, but I still think it sometimes.  I love the Demotivators maxim, “Meetings:  None of us is as dumb as all of us.”  BTW, check out their new shirt.

So, I’m bitching, but I know I’m lucky too.  In fact, last week I found out that I’m heading this summer to Spain & Morocco for a seminar on coexisting cultures and to South Africa for a seminar on race & nation.  Pretty damn nice.  So I’m busy, but it’s better than not having anything to do.


15 January 2008

I’m a psychologist, but not a clinical one, much to the chagrin of every person who’s ever sat next to me on a plane, found out I’m a psychologist, and tries to get me to diagnose friends.  As I tell my students, they’re as qualified to diagnose or treat people as I am.

There used to be a convenient distinction between neurosis and psychosis, but it’s considered outdated.  I still like it though.  The idea is that psychoses (which is still a commonly used term for disorders) are severe and keep one from living a fruitful, productive life without medication or other heavy treatments.  Things like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder fall here.   Neuroses, as they used to be called, would be general anxiety, phobias, lower level depression (dysthymia) and so on.  Many of us have some of those.

I have plenty.  I’ve just noticed one of them resurfacing.  I’m one of those people who often has trouble enjoying the present.  When a nice summer break is going on or I’m on vacation, I thoroughly enjoy and relish the first half, but I spend the second half counting down the days til it’s over, failing to enjoy said fun as I should be.  Well, I’m seeing it now with basketball season in full swing.

In case you hadn’t noticed, KU is playing lights-out this year.  This is the best team I’ve seen since the 97-98 year when we were everyone’s pick to win it all til we began our notorious run of tanking early in the tournament.  At least that team (which had NBA-ers Paul Pierce, Raef Lafrentz, Scot Pollard, and Jacque Vaughn, among others–yeah they’re not all all-stars like Pierce, but still…) lost to eventual-champion Arizona, leading to a lifelong resentment of Lute Olson’s smug smirk.  Since then, except for a couple runs to the final four, it’s been disappointing failures after highly successful seasons.

Well, we’re damn solid this year.  I’m not predicting we’ll get beyond the first round of the tourney or anything–once bitten twice shy–but I’m really enjoying watching a balanced, experienced attack.  So where’s the anxiety?

Well, watching last night’s dismantling of OU, I realized that we’ll likely only have one returning starter next year.  So instead of relishing a great team who hasn’t even gotten 3 games into conference play, I’m sweating next year.  That’s no way to live, people.

All Nighter

10 May 2007

Well, I’m pulling my annual pale imitation of Keith Richards, having been awake for 38 hours.  I didn’t sleep a wink last night (literally, not in the “man, I didn’t sleep well” sense), and only about 3 hours the night before, so this is a new record for me.  I had about 60 papers to grade, and I’d only knocked about 15 off before last night.

It’s a weird kind of buzz to stay up and see the sun rise while I try to focus on the papers and tests, and it creates a weird kind of loopiness the next day.  I’m a procrastinator by nature, and this is a tough time for us.  But in a way I like the single-mindedness of the grading crunch.  This is a new one for me though.

Update on the raccoon (speaking of nocturnal):  My neighbor Kenneth said yesterday that he had found a dead young raccoon in his yard, so that explains one of the other thuds we heard Monday night (sort of).  We looked for the source of the third thud, to no avail.  Does anyone know why they would have fallen?  It seems uncanny for them to have fallen from the tree at the same time, but I don’t know why their mother would have chased them out.  The falls seem to have been far enough apart not to be the result of a broken branch (I’d feel awful if our failure to trim the tree was responsible–we’re planning to spend about $2k getting it fixed up this summer).  I’d love some insight on raccoon behavior to let me know what happened.

In other perspectives, one of the perks of my job is seeing students move on to grad school success.  Anyone who’s been to grad school knows that it’s not for everyone, and even though I’ve never been a model student, I take some pride in having plugged through.

Well, last year I had two of the finest students I’ve ever encountered, and now I’m learning that they’ve had very lean offerings for grad school.  I don’t know what the hell’s going on, but it bums me out to an inordinate degree.  I know it’s not my responsibility, but I feel like I’ve missed something when they don’t make it where they want (and, frankly, deserve to be).  I would support my students (and here I’m talking about students I know well and have collaborated with extensively) wherever they wanted to go, but these are two of very few students I’d encourage to apply to even the most selective programs.  And yet, they’re not getting the offers for many of the fallback programs, and I’m irrationally pissed about it.  I’m hoping to get some insight into the reasons.  We all know that fit is huge, but at a time when I usually have some reservations about my students, these guys have it all, and yet they’re not sure where they’ll be.  I guess part of my reaction is guilt over the realization that they’re 5X the student I was, but I got in and they didn’t.  Pretty discouraging.

Well, I hope I’ll be able to post about JazzFest once I get some rest.  G’night.