Monday, April 27, 2009

Saving The Modern Era

A short post today; I have much to do, and not much time to do it in (Quick! Everything EVERYTHING into the end-of-semester boat! Double-time!)... but I thought this was cool. It is also a cautionary tale about digital media, throwing things away, and making fun of geeks who love technology.

From Old Dirt-New Thoughts, a description (with photos!) of saving the digital archive of the Lunar Orbiter missions in the late 1960s.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Boxes, Oxes, Geese, and Meese

From World Wide Words, a poetic presentation of the perils of plurals in English. By the great author, Anonymous, ca. 1896.

The Poem begins:

We’ll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes,
But the plural of ox should be oxen, not oxes.
Then one fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,
Yet the plural of mouse should never be meese,
You may find a lone mouse or a whole nest of mice,
But the plural of house is houses, not hice.

and, after several further examples of the wonkiness of English pluralization, concludes,

We speak of a brother, and also of brethren,
But though we say mother, we never say methren,
Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
But imagine the feminine she, shis and shim,

So the English, I think, you all will agree,
Is the queerest language you ever did see.

You can read the whole poem via the link above. It made me smile.

Frontloading Wonderment

Now that would be a good blog name, "Frontloading Wonderment."

I love teaching. And I'm always looking for new things to try, new ideas, new ways to present information. I need to break myself of the powerpoint, even though I have good reasons for using it the way I do. The reason, actually, it still good (to give the students an outline of the lecture so they can pay attention to the content and not to copying stuff verbatim)... but perhaps the format for that is wrong. Maybe I'll bust the outline stuff into a separate word document they can download for class, and liberate my powerpoint... Terminal Degree has a post about Using Powerpoint Effectively. The class liked the study guide questions? Huh.

Powerpoint Liberation will have to wait, though. If my class runs this summer, it will be Very Small (as in, PERHAPS 10 students, vs. the 30 I usually have). I hope it runs; I would love to teach this class (even though it's a 101 Drive By Intro to one of the Anthropology subfields) as a seminar. I'll get to try lots of different things, starting with ditching the powerpoint, I think...will see what happens.

Inside Higher Ed recently ran an article about effective lecturing. There is some good stuff in there for me; I especially liked the idea of "Frontloading Wonderment." It's the hook that gets them paying attention (fait attention!). I need to frontload more wonderment in my lectures.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

My Desk Drawer

There is so much going on I am overwhelmed, and I wanted to write more here than that. So, I will play the My Emergency Stash (aka personal stuff jammed into my desk drawer). I ran into this meme over at The Bitter and the Sweet and at Terminal Degree, both of whom target Flavia at Ferule and Fescue as the source of all this.

From memory:

  • Half box of business cards, top missing
  • One mug (after both of my others mysteriously vanished...)
  • One bowl and one metal (not disposable) tablespoon for lunch at the computer (no pilfered silverware, though... Flavia's equipped for higher-class emergency lunches than yours truly)
  • One teabag for some random flavored tea
  • A small container of pushpins (which is remarkable, as there is no corkboard in sight)
  • An extra key to a post office box
  • Napkins
  • An unopened bottle of salad dressing (it has worked like a charm; the salad place up the street has never forgotten to include my dressing-on-the-side since I brought this puppy in!)
  • Advil
  • Benadryl (1)
  • Band-aids
  • A tube of Cortisone-10 (hey, I'm an archaeologist with crazy sensitivity to Poison Ivy!)
  • A half bottle of Burts Bees Milk and Honey Skin Lotion

I still remember a former colleagues' desk drawer.. it had EVERYTHING. She could be locked in her office for a week and not starve nor suffer, and come out refreshed and coiffed. Compared to the others, I am a piker when it comes to office stashery. My car, however, is another story. I don't call it the Rolling Accumulation for naught!

Edit: Apologies to Flavia for suggesting she pilfered that silverware! I just read her comments, and it was purchased.

Edit 2: I checked at work. I also have a pack of tissues and a small box of Tea Tree Chewing Sticks (aka toothpicks).

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Jobs! Fellowships! Negotiating!

There are several excellent and helpful posts out there regarding applying for, negotiating, &tc. academic jobs. I'm currently an adjunct in addition to my regular gig, so I'm not completely disassociated with life in the U. I found much in these posts useful not just for academic jobs, but also in planning educational trajectories (whee!) and even negotiating for regular gigs (and wish I'd read before taking said regular gig).

Historiann and her blog commentators offer advice to Lucky Louie who has been offered a Fellowship, but has other job applications pending. Discussions include: the value of a PostDoc Fellowship vs. non-t.t. jobs (like lectureships) that pay more; how to approach those who are deciding on your applications to encourage a response; and why those with tenure dream of Fellowships.

Dance at Prone to Laughter and several commentators get into the nitty gritty of remuneration that may not appear on your paycheck. Things to ask about: moving expenses, photocopier allowances, travel/conference allowances, new computer, rent credit, course-releases, &tc. Take these into consideration while reading the next post...

Dr. Crazy at Reassigned Time lays it on the line about how important negotiating your salary is. Even if all you get up front is a "lousy" $1,000 (think compound interest). She also makes a pretty good argument for why it really is worth bucking for Full. The discussion in the comments tackles gender disparities in how negotiating is seen by those being negotiated with: bitchy vs. savvy, and also suggestions for women in making a good negotiation argument (i.e., how not to be "bitchy"). Yes, the fact that such a discussion even needs to take place seriously blows. Forewarned is forearmed, as they say... I just wish I'd read some of this stuff before I took my regular gig!

More discussion about Sex and Salary Negotiations at Historiann.

I do realize I've left out the all-important interview! But I should be grading, not writing, so I will tackle the interview stuff another time.

Candidate for Best Book Title Ever

It arrived in my email today, buried in the list of other books that I always want but must refrain from buying. It made me go read the blurb... and it meets all three of Girl Scholar, PhD's criteria for book titleage in the post I linked to yesterday (which must have still been fresh in my brain)...

Stuffed Animals and Pickled Heads: The Culture and Evolution of Natural History Museums

I like the first part the best.

I also appreciate that this is a real book, unlike the winner of the 2008 Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year, "The 2009-2014 World Outlook for 60-milligram Containers of Fromage Frais." (Ok, ok, best and oddest are not necessarily the same thing). The title was coined by a method and apparatus for automated authoring and marketing (a machine/program designed to eliminate pesky human authors), and does not constitute a real book. For which it should, imo, have been disqualified. This would have left the more worthy titles of actual books with actual authors, like, "Baboon Metaphysics" to take home the prize.

Full disclosure: The full title of "Baboon Metaphysics" is "Baboon Metaphysics: The Evolution of a Social Mind." I like the first part the best, even though it's the second part that will probably get me to read it.

Monday, April 13, 2009

I'm Writing!

I'm working on a book. The biggest challenge has been finding the time to write (I'm in a non-academic job, where I write reports all day. Which has been great for working through writers' block, but left me a little crispy when it came to writing at home).

I'd fret, and fuss, and fret, in an ever-escalating and occasionally paralyzing spiral of "I'M NOT GETTING IT DONE!" I would try to do an hour a day; that never worked. And then, about 6 weeks ago, I came across a blog post. Of course I don't remember which blog, but it was a revelation. It involved a conversation between two faculty members that, according to my quite-possibly faulty memory, went something like this*:

Faculty A: "I'm never going to get this writing done! I never have any time left, I just can't manage to squeak it in."

Faculty B: "Don't you have a writing day?"

Faculty A (and me): "A what?"

Faculty B: "A writing day. Where you don't teach, don't make appointments... you just close your door and write. Or, you know, two half days."


What a fantastic, simple, and I'm-glad-I'm-not-the-only-one-who-didn't-think-of-it, idea! Now, I have half a day a week scheduled for my writing time. Not only is it working, and I'm actually getting somewhere, but it's taken the crushing stress off my shoulders; the stress of not-writing-when-I-think-I-should-be. Less stress is a good thing. It's even a good thing for writing... Since scheduling time to write, I've actually been working on the book outside my scheduled time as well!

Right then. A little of what others have to say about writing books:

Over at Reassigned Time, Dr. Crazy shares her experiences in morphing her Dissertation into a book. She integrated the process into the writing of her Dissertation, with overt support from her adviser, and it was productive. Also helpful: The source of her dissertation inspiration (a flubbed question in her oral exam), focus! (also known as limiting your scope; maybe a century is kind of a long time...), avenues and venues for landing a book contract, and how important it can be to just ask (for assistance, guidance, etc.).

Dr. Virago at Quod She also provides her path from dissertation to book. Like Dr. Crazy, she envisioned it as a book from the get-go. What I love about this post is the nuts-and-bolts of decision making with regards to what to write about, structuring, when to cut off the tangent, when to run with the tangent, and an especially helpful bit about excising the excess (and what to do with the lopped-off-bits).

Girl Scholar at The Adventures of Girl Scholar, PhD gives her criteria for composing a book title. And recounts tale-of-woe of stolen title.

Finally, for this entry anyway, FemaleScienceProfessor answers everything you wanted to know about what should be included in an acknowledgment (book or journal article).

* If you are reading this, and this comes from your blog, please let me know so I can give credit where it's due!

Statement of Purpose

As part of my recent adventures in Paying Attention (perhaps more about that later), I have come across many excellent and/or useful and/or thought provoking and/or just wow blogs and blog posts. The purpose of this blog, then, very generically, is to categorize these in a way that is useful to me (and perhaps to any potential visitors?). And to comment on various and sundry things, which may or may not be related to organizing-the-blogosphere-such-that-I-can-find-things-in-it.