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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Aaaaaaaah, fix it, pleeeeeeeeease...

Our email server is down and it's a tremendous nuisance -- I can't access any messages which is critical since I am teaching three online courses, my calendar is unaccessible so I am probably missing things I should be doing, and I will most likely have close to 1,000500 messages when (if?) they fix it. It has been down for over 24 hours now, can you believe it? I didn't realize email was such an important part of my life but it is; communication came to a screeching halt and it's driving me nuts.

Update: Email server is up and running!!! However, we lost two hours worth of messages. So who knows what's missing? I am sure I will hear from students sooner or later; just hoping nothing critical has been "eaten" by the server.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Um, what language is that?

My class used Hot Potatoes application today. As many students tend to save documents on the desktop and then forget to delete them, I usually check all computers to make sure files are not there to "tempt" other sections. One filename: Quiz Does (attempt at Spanish?)

Monday, January 29, 2007

Basic needs and darkness...

The maintenance guys are remodeling part of the building so our bathrooms are dark -- there are no windows, so I mean DARK. What fun, huh? Why did I drink that bottle of water??? ;)

Friday, January 26, 2007

Good day so far...

I have 8:00 to 10:00 a.m. office hours on Fridays this semester. Nope, I am not your chirpy morning person; however, given my crazy schedule, this arrangement works out just fine, especially since I teach 8:00 a.m. classes three times a week.

So this morning I actually slept to the last moment, took a quick shower, dressed comfortably (we can wear jeans on Fridays), grabbed a frozen panini, and drove to work. If you haven't tried those sandwiches, I strongly recommend you do; taste good both hot and cold. So, got to work, heated my sandwich, made a mug of Mocha Cappuccino, and now having fun checking out my favorite blogs.

Yeah, better get to work. There are no absolutely critical deadlines but I need to stay on task so those deadlines won't start breathing down my neck.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Ah, not looking forward to tonight...

This week is filled with various International Awareness activities and I was asked to introduce a foreign movie tonight. No big deal, right? Alas, I previewed the movie the morning (it wasn't my choice and I really had no say on the matter) and I absolutely hate it. Not only this movie is bizarre, it also twists the real events that took place. Unfortunately, the choice has already been advertised and I will have to be there. I think I will be honest about it but ask students to make up their own opinions later. Now have to figure out how to do it diplomatically...

Monday, January 22, 2007

Paper, paper everywhere...

I have a stack of articles to peruse so I can write a lit review section for a research proposal. As I work through the stack, I am spreading paper all over my desk. Hmmm... running out of space, maybe use the floor? ;)

Bible Quiz

You know the Bible 100%!

Wow! You are awesome! You are a true Biblical scholar, not just a hearer but a personal reader! The books, the characters, the events, the verses - you know it all! You are fantastic!

Ultimate Bible Quiz
Create MySpace Quizzes

Well, no wonder -- I grew up in a Christian family, grandfather was a pastor for many years, and I do read the Bible every day. It may sound strange but that book contains a lot of good advice -- check it out if you don't believe me. I would start with Psalms.

Thanks for sharing, Musey!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

A quiet weekend...

It has been a quiet weekend -- did some work, started a new novel, enjoyed breakfast in bed (oooh, pecan waffles and Godiva coffee, yum), worked out. Although weekends are never long enough, I feel rested and ready to face another busy week. How about you?

Japanese magnolias are blooming now -- gorgeous, don't you think? While some of you are dealing with snow, our cars are covered with yellow pollen. It has been cool for the past several days but today was nice -- sunny and reasonably warm, 70s.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Our life, a constant motion, one step at a time...

Course Evaluations

Received my course evaluations for the last semester today. Good news there! :) Although ratings are not perfect, the mean is 4.9 (out of 5.0 possible). Just perfect! All comments were positive, too, so I feel good -- looks like I reached most of my students last semester and made at least some difference. That's why I am a teacher, right? ;)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Another very busy week

This week, things are just OK, I guess -- nothing bad, nothing too exciting. So just boring, routine stuff -- nothing to really blog about.

I did find a neat gift for one of my friends.

Monday, January 15, 2007

From a student's email message...

"Ms. Alice, I had a ruff time while working on this assignment because I don't know how to use my email account."

Arrooooo, why are you taking this course online then???

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Advice, anyone?

How do I make my students include their names in each email they send to me? I included this requirement on my course syllabus, posted on the course website (under Announcements and in assignment directions), and remind them every time they forgot. Alas, I am not. getting. through. Any ideas?

Saturday, January 13, 2007

My Saturday

Overall, it was a pretty good day. I allowed myself to sleep in, then luxuriated in bed for some time, reading and thinking through some issues. Accomplished quite a bit, too:
  • Graded some assignments (yeah, already)
  • Revised a paper
  • Cleared my Inbox
  • Updated class rolls for all classes -- due on Monday night so I am ahead
  • Worked on some preps for next week
  • Completed several of my own assignments; so far, the load is quite manageable
  • Started working on my Spring and Fall schedules (due by 1/22)
  • Started looking for articles -- need to submit a research proposal next week; I think I can finish a rough draft of my lit review by Monday night so I can demonstrate to my professor that I can work independently; he prefers us to work in groups but it's so inconvenient for me -- I live about an hour away from University City and so each trip means two hours wasted on driving.

OK, it's time to exercise -- I lost almost 20 lbs; walking fast at least three miles (usually four or close to four) every night; it feels great!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

My paper has been accepted!

My very first conference paper has just been accepted!!! I have done lots of conference presentations but it's the first time I wrote a full-length paper. Many, many thanks to my major professor who helped me sooooooo much! :)

It's nice working at home and other things...

This semester, I don't have any standing obligations on Thursdays, leaving them free for working at home and occassional meetings if necessary. I don't know how about any of you but I can't get much done at work -- too many phone calls, students, noise... This morning, I woke up early, made a cup of coffee, and already accomplished quite a bit. I am going to treat this day just like any other work day and avoid pampering myself; this way, I hope to be able to stay as caught up on things as possible and don't feel as guilty about treating myself on weekends.

And I do have a lot of things to accomplish this semester. All three courses I am taking require major projects so I better get started right away (actually, already did) and stay on schedule. Teaching seven courses, six preps, three of them online. Attending one international and at least one local (within driving distance) conference.

So, yeah, a lot of advance planning and perseverance but I know I can do it. One more year and I will be done with coursework, so thinking about my dissertation already. Have some ideas but nothing concrete yet; working with my major professor on the mutual topic of interest should help, I think, so I am not worried; things will fall into place -- they always do.

So how is your semester going so far? Have a full plate? I am sure you do. :)

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Ever had a day when everything goes wrong?

That was yesterday for me. My day started at 5:20 a.m. because I had a long drive to my first class at 8:00 a.m. and then a circling adventure of finding a parking space. The lab assistant was late so we had to wait outside for a long time. Finally, with only a few minutes to spare, we were able to get in. So taught my first section -- no major problems.

Then comes my second section and major headaches begin. First, we get a Blogger announcement that new accounts won't be accepted. OK, fine -- can wait until next week. Next, BlackBoard refuses to work so we really can't do anything else. I decided to improvise rather than waste the time and taught a lesson on Word but could not go over the main requirements because BlackBoard is still down. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr... So I had to let my students go early, asking them to login and complete the assignment in Word since I did demo the basic requirements. Not a good way to start your semester, huh?

Drove back to Tiny Town for my office hours, planning to finish an assignment for one of my own courses. Yeah, good luck with that -- phone kept ringing, students kept showing up at my door. Taught a night class. Everything was working fine until AIM stopped accepting new accounts. What's with new account creation today??? We had plenty of other things to do so I guess it was fine.

Do you think my day was over? Nope! My crazy brother decided to spend a few days with me before going back to school on Monday and drove his restored 67 Mustang to Tiny Town. Apparently, he was tinkering with that car the day before and didn't connect alternator wires properly so his pride (piece of junk in my opinion) died halfway down and I had to rescue him. Before I even got there, this crazy redneck approached him at the gas station and offered to jumpstart the car. Alex agreed, not realizing that the guy would demand payment. I get there and they guy is demanding $15!!! Since I don't normally carry cash, I have to withdraw money from the ATM to appease the guy. Do you know what really makes me mad? The guy didn't help at all! The car died again before I even got there because battery was not charging and it was possible to drive only for a short distance before jumpstarting it again.

Anyway, we used my car to jumpstart Alex's piece of junk and he followed me to my house, driving w/out lights to conserve power. Mom and Dad were going ballistic by that time, of course, and so I spent another hour on the phone assuring them that everything was taken care of, that Alex won't go anywhere today since I am working all day, that we will fix the car on Thursday, etc.

So far, today is much better... :)

Monday, January 08, 2007

Drop/Add Period

Like most schools (I think -- please tell me if I am wrong), our school allows students to add/drop courses for a week. In my opinion, it's such a waste of time. Many of our students wait until the first day of classes to register or change their schedules, thus missing at least one class meeting. Since semester is 16 weeks long, missing one class meeting is really missing over 6% of the entire semester (if course meets once per week). I can't afford wasting so much time and so present new material on the first day. Of course, it's a huge headache when students finally show up and want to know what they missed.

Does your school have drop/add period? How are you dealing with it?

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Aaaah, feeling better...

I am feeling much better today after thinking about a lot of things for a week, making some important decisions, and discussing them with several people who mean so much to me. We are going back to work/school tomorrow and, although I would love to have a few more days of vacation, I think getting busy would be good -- it would test my resolve to make certain changes in my life.

Have a wonderful spring semester, everybody!!! :)

Thursday, January 04, 2007

So what do I do when I am feeling blue?

I make hot chocolate for coworkers. Yeah, silly, but it felt good. And we were freezing since Plant Operations apparently decided that we needed AC today; they should have just saved energy since it wasn't cold enough for heat or hot enough for AC.

Although I can't really blog about the situation that made me upset, I can't stay away from blogging, either. Crazy, huh? Although I don't write interesting stuff like many of you, it feels good to just ramble about things, maybe raise some questions. Right now, I am rethinking a lot of things in my life, like some of my negative traits, for example, and how they keep getting me in trouble. I already made some adjustments and it feels good, really good; I am much calmer, both personally and professionally.

Classes start on Monday and I am not freaking out, that's kinda unusual. Amazingly, things keep getting done -- syllabi are ready, copies are made, online courses updated, and even some course assignments are going to be completed tomorrow. I wonder if I kept getting behind because I tried to do too many things at once, tripping all over my own good intentions and worries? Anyway, I am testing myselt -- want to see if these changes are permanent.

Oh, and I lost about 10 lbs. Feels good... :)

Somebody just pointed out a major error in the course syllabus -- I guess I am not as calm as I think. Ah, deep breath -- in, out -- I can do it.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Oh, what is this world coming to?

We felt so safe in Thailand... Please keep these people in prayers. Thailand is known as The Land of Smiles because people are so warm and kind. I will never forget all the wonderful people I had a pleasure of meeting during one month we were there -- from tuk-tuk drivers to tour guides to university professors and students.

Thailand Public Announcement

January 01, 2007

This Public Announcement is being issued to alert U.S. Citizens traveling to and residing in Thailand of a series of bombs that exploded in the Bangkok metropolitan area during the evening of December 31, 2006 and shortly after midnight on January 1, 2007. This Public Announcement expires January 31, 2007.

At approximately 1800 hours on December 31, 2006, bombs exploded at five different locations throughout Bangkok, including Bangkok's Victory Monument, various police traffic control booths, and in the parking lot of a shopping mall. These bombs killed three Thai citizens and injured over two dozen additional Thai citizens.

Shortly after midnight on January 1, 2007, two additional bombs exploded near the World Trade Center shopping mall on Rama 1 Road in Bangkok's main shopping district. One bomb exploded near a pedestrian footbridge and the second in a beer garden. Bangkok's largest New Year's celebration, the "Bangkok Countdown," was to be held at this location, but had been cancelled by local authorities after the bombings earlier that evening. Six foreign tourists and an unknown number of Thai citizens were injured in these bombings.

The U.S. Embassy has confirmed that no Americans were injured or killed in any of the bombings. Additionally, the bombings appear to be limited to the Bangkok area. No incidents have been reported in any cities outside of Bangkok, including Chiang Mai and the popular beach resorts in Thailand.

Given the fluidity of the current situation, the Department of State advises all American Citizens residing in or traveling to Bangkok to continue to monitor events closely, to remain indoors when possible, to avoid any large public gatherings, and to exercise discretion when moving about Bangkok.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Taking a break

I have decided to stop posting for now since I am dealing with a lot of emotions that won't make sense to most of you. Of course, I will still enjoy reading your blogs.

Changed my mind -- I need to talk, even if my posts don't make any sense. Thanks for your support! :)

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