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Friday, June 27, 2008

Student Evals

Profgrrrrl had a great post about student evals earlier this month. After ten years of excellent evals, semester after semester, I was slammed with poor evals last semester. Yes, it was only one section; yes, students in the other section of the same course gave me much better evals; yes, I know that I did my best and earned those evals because I demanded quality work, on time. Still, it landed me in a very serious trouble. Worse, it made me doubt myself because I couldn't help thinking if maybe I have lost touch with students, if maybe I lost the ability to reach out to them and make sure they leave my class with valuable knowledge and skills.

Well, one session of this semester is over and I think I did a good job with this particular group of students. Based on their final projects, most of them learned quite a bit and were able to apply new skills to a real-life situation. Student evals have been turned in and I nervously (hate the feeling!!!) await the results.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

My "free" week is almost gone...

I did enjoy not having to rush every day, even though every day has been filled with things to do. There is still a long list of things to finish but I feel rested and ready to face another semester.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Freaking out! :)

I caught myself thinking: Can I get grades done by Monday? What if our plane is late and we miss the train that would cause us to miss another train? Why didn't I pick earlier arrival time?

And so I told myself: Chill, make a cup of tea, and enjoy some quiet time... This semester is almost over... Everything will be OK...

So, I am relaxing on a swing, basking in a sun...

Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Have been wrestling with a nasty bug today... Gingerly sipping tea now, feeling much better. I didn't realize how exhausted I was this semester until the last critical item has been submitted. Can't completely relax yet, though -- have to finish the paper (all written, just need to proofread one more time, with a fresh eye) and grade/submit one more batch of grades. Actually, compared to the grueling race this semester, it feels like nothing.

And it's only 17 days until we take off on another adventure!!! And we are going to Australia in October!!! And maybe Tasmania, too???

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Part II: but I am excited about my summer vacation!!!

We are going to Europe for two weeks!!! Yes, it's for a conference... Stop, why oh why do I have to justfiy the trip? I am pathetic, really! :)

Anyway, we are flying to Geneva and catching an overnight train to Vienna via Milan; spending some time in Vienna; taking another train to Salzburg; coming back to Geneva via Munich and Zurich; taking a trip to Chamonix/Mont Blanc -- glacier, ice caves, wow; and then attend a conference for several days while exploring Geneva.

He-he, four countries will be added to my list -- Switzerland, Italy, Austria, and Germany (only connected there before). Well, technically, France, too -- have to cross Swiss-French border to go to Chamonix; but we have been to France before so it's not as exciting.

When we come back, I have almost a month of flexible scheduling and hope to write my concept paper and study for the comprehensive exam. If I pass the exam this coming fall, I can start the dissertation in, say, December? Can't wait to get done!!!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

One down, three more to go...

Didn't get any sleep last night, at all. Had to finish a paper -- with coded data, it ended up being 53 pages! By the time I finished this morning, there was barely enough time to take a quick shower and get to school. Did a presentation in the morning class, wrote a case study summary for the evening class, then tried to take a nap but it was too hot in the car with windows rolled up so managed to stay awake, don't know how... Finally got home but, it's crazy, fully awake now, even though eyes are burning and brain is not capable of processing any useful tasks.

Still have to:
  • complete a major project
  • finish a research paper
  • grade, grade, grade
  • take one more final

Oh, I need a break; really, really, really need a break...

Sunday, April 13, 2008

You know the project is excessively boring when...

  • you spend inordinate amount of time arranging the items that will be used
  • convince yourself that you are tired and really do need a cup of tea
  • look outside, see the bright sun, and end up spending 30 mins on the swing
  • make the "important" phone call
  • check email (what if students "really" need me, right?)
  • buy more time by posting a blog entry about the experience
  • promise yourself you will "really" get started now!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Stop this semester from running away, please!

Only two weeks left at the University and three plus the finals at the College. Yikes!!!

Still need to do:
  • Finish one paper (not much left but I can't find time to concentrate on it)
  • Write a paper from scratch (have some data but need to finish collecting data, too)
  • One major project (the last one was 25+ pages so who knows how long this will take, won't be posted until next week and we only have one week; grrrrrrrrrrr)
  • Two killer finals; one is comprehensive but the teacher is awesome and so I will be fine, don't mind studying; the other one terrifies me, based on midterm experience and teacher's tendency to just throw questions at us.
  • One presentation (well, actually based on the paper so no big deal)
  • And, of course, lots and lots of grading...
  • And meetings, eating up the precious time...
Whew, now at least I have a list... I can do it, I can do it, I can do it...

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Another busy night...

  • Worked on two projects until almost 6:00 a.m. I did finish and both look good!!! :)
  • Had a 40-minute nap
  • Went through the morning routine, mostly on auto-pilot.
  • Arrived at my office by 8:00 a.m.
  • Made copies, created two booklets (copies for my instructor), finished some paperwork, etc.
  • Was on the road by 9:00 a.m.
  • Miraculaously snagged a parking spot after circling only twice -- wow, what a blessing!
  • Ran (wearing high heels today for a presentation) across campus, feeling bad that I would be about 10 mins late for class.
  • Arrived, panting, trying to catch my breath... only to find out that class has been cancelled but our instructor didn't post the announcement until about an hour before -- I know for sure, checked announcements before I left, nothing was there.
  • Now here I am, too tired and sleepy to accomplish any meaningful mental tasks...
  • Have a meeting with a group member at 1:00 p.m.
  • Then a long wait until 5:15 p.m., the evening class
  • We are presenting today, assignment is worth a huge chunk so need to be prepared, just hoping to stay awake...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The evil project is done!

  • at 3:30 a.m.
  • 25 pages and a huge pile of printouts
  • up at 5:30 a.m. for 8:00 a.m. class

Friday, March 21, 2008

Yes, I must be insane but who cares???

I took off on another adventure on Wednesday morning, slamming the door in the face of two projects. All because of one little but important forgotten object... It was an unexpected but a delightful surprise and I had a great time on Wed and Thurs -- shopping, playing with two adorable little girls, running barefoot on the beach, splashing through the water, admiring the full moon, laughing; yes, enjoying life.

Of course, those two projects are still there, waiting to be taken care of but it's OK, they will be completed. I have always been so consumed by school and work so doing something crazy like this is totally new and somewhat unnerving but I enjoyed every moment, have no regrets, and would do it again, anytime.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Back to work!

It was a fun week but now back to work -- and lots of it. Oh well, nothing new; I am used to the never-ending stream (and often torrents) of things to do. Last week was amazing, though. We attended many interesting sessions, met new people, went to The Health Museum, and had fun at the rodeo. And I have a new beautiful necklace, thoughtfully chosen just for me! ;)

Friday, March 14, 2008

Ah, crazy -- but fun -- week!

Attending a conference this week and having lots of fun, even though I am exhausted and two projects are due on Tuesday. I am doing a little each night so should be done by Tuesday, hopefully.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Smart or disoriented?

My university features profiles of students and faculty members on the home page, showcasing various accomplishments. This afternoon, there was a picture of a serious-looking young man, with this note: Two Honor's Degrees, Four Majors

I rarely pay attention to these things and already clicked on the link but went back and checked, just to make sure I am not having a double vision. Sure thing, two honor's degrees and, indeed, four majors. Now, I don't want to sound negative, but can't help but wonder... Is this guy a genius or just disoriented, taking in everything because he can't make up his mind about what his true academic interests? Hmmm... just curious... I am sure he is a hard-working type, though; can't imagine being able to do something like that.

Thursday, March 06, 2008


I had a banana split for lunch... Yeah, a tough week, a tough day...

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Wearing two hats and thinking...

Since I am both a graduate student and a full-time faculty member, I have a privelege of observing classroom practices from both perspectives. Often, when I encounter situations that raise my blood pressure as a student, I look closely at my own behavior as a teacher. One of my pet peeves, I guess, is disorganization. As teachers, we usually know (I hope so!) what we expect from students. However, communication is a two-way interactive process; therefore, just knowing what you want does not help your students. Common sense, right? Alas, not for all instructors, it seems. This semester, two of my instructors are clueless about this basic requirement. If you tell students to write a paper, you have to provide general guidelines. Otherwise, you will get hit-and-miss results. No, I am not saying that we should spoonfeed students -- not at all. However, we should communicate our basic expectations. Brainstorming and creative thinking are awesome but teachers should provide the basic outline of what is expected.

Monday, March 03, 2008

West Palm Beach Shooting

Another senseless shooting... Imagine, returning to get your child's toy and never coming back... losing your Daddy... losing your husband... just like that, in a moment of insanity...

My heartfelt prayers for the families affected by this tragedy...

Check the Prayer Wall

Spring Break!

Ah, today is nice... slept in... enjoyed breakfast instead of grabbing something and running to the car... didn't have to go anywhere... what a bliss...

Unfortunately, spring break at my college does not coincide with my university so I still have to drive to the university on Tuesday and Thursday. Fortunately, the spring break at the university does coincide with Houston conference; it would have been more difficult to make arrangements. So, everything worked out just fine. This week, I will have time to catch up on projects I have been pushing aside and next week I get to play! :)

It's so nice outside, even though a very severe weather system is expected late tonight/early tomorrow. Ah, what a bliss to sit outside; yeah, I am working but soaking the sun, too.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

It all makes sense now... ;)

One of my friends shared this "summary." Enjoy! :)

A simple way to understand the political science differences:
You have two cows. Your neighbor has none. You feel guilty for being successful. Barbara Streisand sings for you.
You have two cows. Your neighbor has none. So?
You have two cows. The government takes one and gives it to your neighbor. You form a cooperative to tell him how to manage his cow.
You have two cows. The government seizes both and provides you with milk. You wait in line for hours to get it. It is expensive and sour.
You have two cows. You sell one, buy a bull, and build a herd of cows.
You have two cows. Under the new farm program the government pays you to shoot one, milk the other, and then pours milk down the drain.
You have two cows. You sell one, lease it back to yourself and do an IPO on the 2nd one. You force the two cows to produce the milk of four cows. You are surprised when one cow drops dead. You spin an announcement to the analysts stating you have downsized and are reducing expenses. Your stock goes up.
You have two cows. You go on strike because you want three cows. You go to lunch and drink good wine. Life is good.
You have two cows. You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk. They learn to travel on unbelievably crowded trains. Most are at the top of their class at cow school.
You have two cows but you don't know where they are. While ambling around, you see a beautiful woman. You break for lunch. Life is good.
You have two cows. You have some vodka. You count them and learn you actually have five cows. You have some more vodka. You count them again and learn you have 42 cows!!! The Mafia shows up and takes over however many cows you really have.
You have all the cows in Afghanistan, which are two. You don't milk them because you cannot touch any creature's private parts. You get a $40 million grant from the US government to find alternatives to milk production but use the money to buy weapons.
You have two cows. They go into hiding. They send radio tapes of their mooing.
You have one cow. The cow is schizophrenic. Sometimes the cow thinks he's French, other times he's Flemish. The Flemish cow won't share with the French cow. The French cow wants control of the Flemish cow's milk. The cow asks permission to be cut in half. The cow dies happy.
You have a black cow and a brown cow. Everyone votes for the best looking one. Some of the people who actually like the brown one best accidentally vote for the black one. Some people vote for both. Some people vote for neither. Some people can't figure out how to vote at all.
Finally, a bunch of guys from out-of-state tell you which one you think is the best-looking cow.
You have millions of cows. Only five speak English. Most are illegals.

Friday, February 29, 2008


I will be done with my core classes this semester -- yeah, let's hope I pass the evil stats! Since our program requires a minor, I need three more electives. Taking one elective now -- and absolutely love it -- but it does not fit well with my prior experience/background and it's too narrow for my future plans. Hopefully, I will be able to pick up at least two electives this coming summer. Then, it's time for the concept paper and the comps! Finally, dissertation! Dare I hope to finish in, maybe, 1 1/2 or 2 years? With a full-time job, it will be tough but, with determination and strict scheduling, it's doable, I think. I just want to get done, it's taking so long...

And my dinner was...


  • 2 lbs lean ground beef
  • 1 large onion, 1/2 finely chopped and 1/2 pureed
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 4 tbsp butter, 1/2 for sauteeing and 1/2 for basting
  • 1 1/2 cups bulgur wheat (Publix)
  • salt (3 tsp for the shell, to taste for filling)
  • pepper (2 tsp for the sheel, to taste for filling)
  • dried mint, 1 tbsp
  • allspice (1 tsp for the shell, to taste for filling)
  • cinnamon (1 tsp for the shell, to taste for filling)

Cover bulgur wheat with about 1 inch of cold water and soak for 30 mins.

For the filling, saute finely chopped onions and pine nuts in butter until onions are soft and pine nuts are slightly roasted (be careful not to burn!). Add 1/3 ground beef and cook until just no longer pink; don't overcook! Season with salt, pepper, cinnamon, and allspice; usually 1 tsp each but adjust to your taste.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Season the remaining ground beef with salt, pepper, cinnamon, allspice, and dried mint. Add pureed onion. Squeeze excess water out of wheat and add to raw ground beef mixture. Mix well until the mixture is elastic.

Spray cookie sheet with non-stick spray. For each kibbee, shape a meatball approximately the size of large egg, press on your palm into a thin patty, place a heaping spoon of filling, and carefully bring edges together, sealing and forming a football-shaped kibbee. Place on the cookie sheet and lightly baste with melted butter. Bake for 25-30 mins.

Note: I used only 1/2 of ingredients and made 8 kibbee. Kibbee freezes well, too, and can be quickly heated in a microwave as needed.

I served kibbee with...

Tomato-Cucumber Salad:


  • 1-2 ripe tomatoes, chopped -- fairly large chunks
  • 1 pickling cucumber, chopped -- fairly large chunks
  • 1/2 finely chopped onion (small)
  • Salt to taste
  • Olive oil to taste
  • Finely chopped basil, parsley, or mint
  • Optional: finely chopped garlic (just a little bit)

Mix tomatoes, cucumber, onions, and herbs. Salt to taste. Important -- do NOT add oil before salt; salt doesn't dissolve in oil. If you like garlic (I don't), add just a little bit. Add olive oil to taste.

Totally exhausted...

I taught one early-morning (8:00 a.m.) class, finished some paperwork, and went home around 10:00 a.m., feeling totally exhausted, very sleepy for some reason. So I decided to take a quick nap before attacking a mountain of work to be done over the weekend -- oops, didn't wake up until almost 2:30 p.m. What's wrong with me? Yes, it was a killer week, very stressful, still... taking a nap at 10:00 a.m. is not something I normally do.

Next week, I only teach classes as TA and attend my own classes, so won't be as bad. Hopefully, I will make a decent progress on some things that keep getting pushed aside as more pressing issues arise. And the following week -- the conference!!! It's a major conference in my sub-field (teaching these courses only during the summer but they are fun) and so I hope to learn new ideas to be implemented this coming summer. And, of course, I will have a whole week with my very special companion.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Dinner Plans

It's cold today and I am exhausted so comfort food tonight...

Zucchini Soup


  • 1.5 cups fresh zucchini, peeled and diced
  • 3-4 cups chicken broth (depends on desired consistency)
  • 1 can chicken
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1-2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1-2 slices bacon, cooked, drained and crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • Salt, to taste
  • Freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
  • Freshly-grated Parmesan cheese (or your favorite cheese), to taste

Bring chicken broth to boil. Add zucchini and cook on medum heat until tender. Meanwhile, saute onions and carrots in olive oil until golden brown; add flour and mix well; add onions to the pot. Add chicken. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Pour into serving bowls and garnish with Parmesan cheese, parsley, and bacon. Serve with fresh bread.


Ah, another Wednesday...

Yesterday was a tough day, lots of things to do and a horrible midterm exam. Our "wonderful" instructor gave us a wide range of things to study, holding class for almost 30 extra minutes last week (because she was late for class)! And what did that person do? Gave an 8-page exam to be completed in 1 hour and 80% of it came from the LAST lecture which she presented in a hurry, stumbling over the material and correct English words. There were several questions that make absolutely no sense, even now when I am looking through my notes.

On a bright side, one of our faculty members organized lunch for all women in the department so it will be fun later today. All of us are so busy, passing each other every day with just a wave and quick hello. It will be nice to sit down and chat while enjoying lunch together.

And I am going to Houston in 12 days -- yes, I am counting. ;) We are arriving separately but only 30 mins apart, so will meet at the airport. I can't wait... Conference will be fun but spending a whole week together is a main reason for my excitement, of course.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Textbook reps are annoying, really...

I spent over two hours on the phone with one of our textbook reps, trying to figure out the changes coming our way since we are finally moving from Office 2003 to Office 2007. This person had a high-pitched, really annoying, voice, spoke a mile a minute, kept interrupting me, oozed sweetness that was totally overdone, kept placing me on hold to go and check on things she should have known, refused to send materials unless I decided to use their product... Grrrrrrrrrrr...

To make things worse, one of the new simulations didn't work on my computer and so I am not sure if I should mess with it. It's asking for trouble -- if I couldn't figure out how to install it, what would my students do?!?! The textbook rep connected me with their Tech Support guy and he added to the already annoying situation.

TSG: Do you have admin privileges on your computer?
Alice: Yes.
TSG: Are you sure?
Alice: Yes.
TSG: How do you know?
Alice: Grrrrrrrrrrr (silently). I teach technology courses and so IT people trust me.
TSG: I need to make sure. Let's check this, this, and that.
Alice: OK

It was insulting, did he think I was lying???
When he was finally satisfied that I indeed had full privileges (didn't I tell you, you moron???), he gave a link and a password to download an extra file and drop it into program files; the process involved quite a number of steps. Although no big deal for me, it would be difficult for most of my students. When I told him that, he turned 180 and proceeded to ooze sweetness and declare that their Tech Support would always support my students. Yeah, sure!

Well, the simulation worked -- finally! My next question was about submitting assignments online. More head scratching, placing on hold, etc. Come on, people, can't you learn the specifications of your product?

Anyway, I told the woman I will use the product -- that was the only way to get the review copy. How insane is that?! The only reason I didn't laugh and walked away with thanks but no thanks is lack of decent resources in this particular subject area. So I am going to take a look at the book, play with simulation, and then make a final decision. If she thinks it's a done deal, too bad.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

And so tonight I made...

Salad "Princess"
Plenty left for tomorrow's lunch, too!!! :)


  • 1 chicken breast, grilled
  • 1/2 cup pitted prunes
  • 1/8 cup roasted nuts (I used pecans)
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
  • 1/8 cup white raisins
  • salt and pepper (if needed)
  • Fresh basil, dill, or parsley; finely chopped
  • dressing (I used low-fat Ranch)
Chop prunes. Boil 1 cup of water, pour over the prunes, cover, and let soften for 10 minutes. Meanwhile chop chicken, boil eggs, and roast nuts. Mix softened prunes, chicken, roasted nuts, and raisins. Arrange on a plate. Slice eggs and arrange around the chicken mix. Sprinkle with finely chopped fresh basil, dill, or parsley. Add dressing of your choice or just drizzle some olive oil.
Servings: 2
As seen on Nice Food

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Recipe of the Day

It's been so much fun to cook for somebody special this past summer and then on and off until mid January. Now it's only me again and I don't really like the cooking process; the fun of cooking for me is making somebody else smile, share the meal with a special person. Can't wait to do that again, soon... For now, though, I am going to force myself to cook. I was able to really slim down last year but added some unwanted weight over the holidays, then made the problem worse by eating too much junk food. It's easier to grab something ready-made (or worse, fast food) then come home, tired and having a lot of things to do, and cook dinner.

So tonight it's...

Balsamic Chicken and Pears

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 skinless chicken breast, tenderized
  • 1 pear, cut into wedges
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp cornstarch (or you can use flour)
  • 1/4 cup dried cherries and raisins
  • Parsley, finely chopped

Heat olive oil over a medium heat and cook chicken breast until done (approximately 8-10 minutes), turning halfway through. Remove chicken and cook pear wedges until lightly browned and tender.

Mix chicken broth, vinegar, and cornstarch until well blended. Pour into the skillet with pears. Heat to boiling and then reduce the heat to low. Add dried cherries/raisins and chicken. Simmer for approximately 10 minutes. Garnish with parsley. Enjoy! :)

As seen on

Everybody needs a laugh sometimes...

PhD Comics

Monday, February 18, 2008


I had a very productive weekend, wasn't able to accomplish as much as I really wanted but it's OK. Mainly, I worked on the ongoing research project. Usually, I can't concentrate because of other demands -- grading, projects for the current classes, family stuff, etc. This weekend, I left all books and papers in my car, so I won't even be tempted to do anything other than the research project. It's fun and I wish I had more uninterrupted periods of time to work on it...

Alas, two other projects are due this week... and midterm grades are to be posted by Thursday...

Oh, and it looks like we are going here in May!!! If any of you been there before, I would love to hear from you!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Almost midterm, already...

Time flies in a constant blur of deadlines... My first midterm is next week and, oh my, tons of notes to go through. However, this particular professor is awesome and so I don't anticipate any problems. It's a fun class and so easy to learn the material.

The following week, though, I am taking midterm exam in my measurement course. Now, this one will be a killer. We fly through mostly abstract material (lots of proofs and formulas) and only one page of notes is allowed, so a lot of cramming... What's the point? I doubt the professor remembers those formulas (keeps looking them up) but no choice -- memorize, regurgitate, forget. So useless...

I don't claim to be the best instructor but in my math course I provide challenging situations that test student's mastery rather than ability to memorize formulas.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Cats, anyone?

I was sweet-talked into taking two cats two years ago. Oh, how I regret that decision! Cleaning cat litter and constantly vacuuming my house is NOT something I like doing. Not. at. all! So, I will provide food and litter if somebody, please, get these two rascals out of my house!!!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

On procrastination...

On Sunday mornings, my Inbox is always full of frantic emails, sent late on Saturday night. Why? Because my course deadlines are 11:59 p.m. on Saturday nights. Because students wait to the last moment, again and again. Because Murphy's law still works and problems crop up if you wait to the last moment.

And so I have a long list of complaints -- "grandchild typed in my answers when I left the computer for a few minutes," "virus invaded my computer," "power went out," "became sick," "misread directions..." The list goes on and on... Even though my syllabi clearly state: "No make ups unless there is a valid and documented emergency."

On a bright note, it's a beautiful sunny day and so I am going to ignore these emails and post another reminder, again: No make ups, refer to your course syllabus, please. Smile! :)

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Just thinking...

It's Saturday so I don't have to make myself "presentable" before venturing out. Just thinking, how much time do we spent in our lives just to "face the world"? I mean, the basic grooming doesn't take that long. It's putting all that make-up on, choosing the best outfit, deliberating over shoes, etc. that takes time, right? So this morning a quick shower and basic things like brushing teeth will suffice. No worries about what to wear -- since I keep the temperature high, it's warm and cozy in my house so a pair of shorts and a T-shirt are just fine. All done, in 15 minutes, maybe? Now let's attack a mountain of work, while munching on a banana!!! :)

Friday, February 08, 2008

Fresh pita and hummus, anybody?

Didn't feel like cooking a full meal tonight. I could get something out of freezer -- lots of frozen stuff there, for extremely hectic days when taste doesn't matter as much as nutrition (um, like getting enough calories to keep going). Yet, I was craving something fresh. And so I made fresh pita and hummus. Yum! :)

Pita Bread

Dissolve 1 pkg of quick rising yeast in 1/2 cup warm water. Add 1 tsp of sugar and make sure it dissolves as well. Set aside for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, measure 3 cups of flour (original recipe calls for all-purpose, I used bread flour because that's all I had tonight) into a medium bowl. Add 2 tsp salt and mix. Make a depression in the middle. When yeast mixture is frothy (do wait 15 mins), pour it into flour and salt mixture. Add 1 cup of warm water. Mix until becoming elastic.

Knead dough for 5-10 minutes or until it doesn't stick and is smooth and elastic. Spray a large bowl with olive oil, place dough in the bowl and turn until well coated. Cover and allow to rise for 3 hours.

Separate dough into 10 balls and place them on a floured surface. Cover and leave for 10 mins. Meanwhile, set the oven rack on the lowest position. Preheat the oven to 500.

Roll each ball into a circle (approximately 5 inches diameter) -- I roll out two pitas at a time. Preheat the baking sheet. Place two pitas on the preheated baking sheet. Bake for 4 minutes. Turn and bake for 2 more minutes. Immediately place into a large Ziploc bag.


Drain 1 can of garbanzo peas (chick peas) but reserve the liquid, if you like. Place chick peas in a food processor. Add 1 tsp of cumin, 1 tsp of lemon juice, 1/4 tsp of ground red pepper, 1/4 tsp salt, 1 tsp finely chopped parsley, and 1/4 cup olive oil. Process until smooth. You may need to add some reserved liquid and/or oil in order to achieve the desired consistency. The original recipe calls for garlic but I don't like garlic.

It's Friday!!!

It's Friday?!?! Another week has flown by and, even though I didn't miss any deadlines, I wasn't able to make as much progress on the paper I am writing as I wanted. Mainly because I found some new items and became distracted -- bad idea! I really need to work on my "concentration" skills and stick with what I already have instead of admiring the remaining million or so related things. I realize that I will never be able to include everything I want and so must set boundaries. Ah, working on it...

Today should be a good writing day, though. I only have one class and then no meetings. Yeah!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

I don't understand... excuse

Don't you love it when students fall behind in class and blame it on the teacher, with that best excuses of all, "But I don't understand it...." In one of my production classes, I want students to go through entire chapter and complete all exercises before attempting the assessment at the end. Even though I only grade the assessment, it's virtually impossible to do well on it unless chapter exercises have been completed (or at least reviewed).

During the first week of classes, this student just sat and stared at her book. I offer individual help but, of course, I won't complete exercises for them. In order to get help from me, you have to ask specific questions. You can't do that unless you read the book.

Ms. Alice: "Did you read the book?"

Student: "No, I didn't have time."

Ms. Alice: "OK, read the book and then start working on exercises. If you are still confused, we will address specific issues."

The student is motionless for the next 15 mins... OK, maybe reading???

Ms. Alice: "So, how's it going?"

Student: "I don't understand how to complete this assessment."

Ms. Alice: "OK, did you read the book and attempt simple exercises?"

Student: "No."

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaah! What do you want me to do then?!?!

I haven't seen her for two weeks. Now she is complaining that she doesn't understand how to complete work in my class. Did she read the book? I don't think so.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Moving along...

Even though I stayed up very late last night (well, this morning, I guess), helping Dr. Special study over the phone, I was up at 8:30 a.m. Mainly because my parents are here and I wanted to make breakfast for them. I don't see them that often so it's a treat to have them for a weekend.

My choices weren't that healthy but yummy -- pigs in blankets (made with Parker's roll so soft inside but crispy outside, so good), boiled eggs, and fruit salad. And I love my Tassimo -- everybody had what they wanted, fresh and delicious (tea, regular coffee, and cappuccino).

Now I am working on the list:

  • Update grades (for seven classes, it's a never-ending task)
  • Post announcements for all classes
  • Do homework for two classes
  • Write a 10-page paper
  • Write a case summary
  • Write at least a couple of pages for the on-going research paper
  • Look over the lesson plans for next week and tweak as necessary
  • Write and submit a conference proposal
  • Write and submit another conference proposal (came with this idea last night)

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Relax now, work later...

Wow, another Saturday is here... Every week seems to be a blur of activities as we are hurling toward the midterm, then toward the finals... and then another semester... and another...

There are times when you just have to say -- Stop! I need a moment of peace, just to enjoy life and forget about never-ending deadlines, demands, etc. I am doing this today, even though I am posting a list of things to do, so I don't get too lazy.

I allowed myself to sleep in this morning (ah, 9:00 a.m., what a treat), enjoying a delicious latte now, while waiting for my parents to arrive. We will enjoy each other's company, Mom and I cook lunch together (just like the old times), maybe go for a walk... Just a quiet day, enjoying life, catching up (haven't seen them for over a month).

Then tomorrow, I need to:
  • Update grades (for seven classes, it's a never-ending task)
  • Post announcements for all classes
  • Do homework for two classes
  • Write a 10-page paper
  • Write a case summary
  • Write at least a couple of pages for the on-going research paper
  • Look over the lesson plans for next week and tweak as necessary
  • Write and submit a conference proposal

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

On research ideas...

I am curious about the process of deriving research ideas. Oh, I know the "scientific" way. Still, how do all those bits and pieces fit together to finally bloom at the "Aha!" moment? I think I had one of those moments today when I briefly chatted with one of my colleagues while creating booklets (yep, being artistic today) for one of my classes. The idea has been brewing for a long time; actually, I circled around the general area even before I was admitted to the Ph.D. program. Then I had a conversation with my advisor who gently but firmly (yep, both) pointed me in the right direction... Then I had to come up with a topic for one of my classes... And tonight -- this ABD-wanna-be has a pretty good research topic which might evolve beyond the current class. I am excited and hope it works out by presenting me with plenty of leads to maybe even write a dissertation??? It's nothing earth-shattering, has been discussed with my advisor before, but might just work, at least for now.

Days are flying by...

It seems like days are flying by, at a dizzying speed... It's a constant race to meet deadlines, to meet with students, to attend long meetings... Oh, dreaming of a brief lull when I can pick up a novel, make a cup of tea, and just enjoy the peace and quiet without feeling guilty.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Another busy rainy day...

I woke up to a soft sound of rain and birds busy twittering in the trees outside my window. It was too early to get up (6:00 a.m. on Saturday, are you kidding, especially after staying up late?!) so I snoozed for a while -- only to have a totally weird dream. So, like it or not, I was up at 7:00. Yawn...

Oh well, have to write a 10-page paper today -- just a deadline set for myself, so not critical, but I want to get it out and stop worrying. Made some progress already, so far so good. Treating myself to a latte/blogger break! :)

Friday, January 18, 2008

Phone Bill

Hmmm... It's nice to know that I am taking an advantage of unlimited nights and weekends minutes as well as in-network plan minutes. Dr. Special has a different service provider but we usually talk late at night anyway. My family is using the same service provider so the minutes are free. And I don't make many other calls on my cell phone. However, if not for unlimited nights, I would have to pay a fortune... ;)

Chugging along...

Aaaah, another week of classes... another week of problems... and, of course, successes! :)
Looks like my online course students are finally settling down, having figured what to click and what not to click, how to submit things, and, ahem, how to find deadlines on the course calendar. Yeah, I thought it was simple -- just refer to the last page of your syllabus; apparently, not...

Several students are now begging to get back, having missed the first week of classes. While some schools have mandatory first-day attendance, we submit rolls after the first week of classes; students who are not attending all of their classes are dropped. Well, I have several students who didn't realize that, wow, classes already started, until just a couple of days ago.
Some students who did login on time but missed assignments are now trying to "outsmart" me. Here is an excerpt from one email:
Student: Ms. Alice, why do I have a zero for Assignment X? I did submit it but you didn't grade it!!! (yep, exclamation marks are there)
Um, assignment was due on Saturday, by midnight. You didn't submit it until Monday night and my syllabus clearly states -- no make-up w/out a documented excuse. Sorry, you missed the train.
I do have several bright and motivated students who are already about two weeks ahead. Keep it up!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Ah, scheduling things...

Another very busy semester... Just a regular schedule below keeps me running all week but add meetings... three online courses I am teaching... and current papers/projects... yep, weekends fly by oh so fast. Still, I am hoping to finish two papers this semester. One conference paper would be nice... One only needs editing. The other is a rough draft that needs a lot of work... Maybe I can try keeping Monday or Wednesday afternoon free...


  • Class (teaching)
  • Office hours


  • Class (teaching)
  • Class (teaching)
  • Class (taking)
  • Class (teaching)


  • Class (teaching)
  • Office hours


  • Class (taking)
  • Free time -- stuck on campus, though
  • Class (taking)


  • Class (teaching)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The weekend is over... What?!

Yep, the weekend is pretty much over. As always, time gallops over the weekend, ignoring long to-do lists, plans to sleep late, truly enjoy that cup of tea or coffee... I woke up early this morning, after a night of tossing and turning, weird dreams (can't remember them, though)... It's not even 6:00 p.m. but I am exhausted, fighting an urge to take a nap. Not a good idea, though, because I will wake up early and won't be able to go back to sleep...

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Come on, get something done!

I don't know why, maybe because it has been a totally exhausting week, but I don't have enough energy to get anything done today. I did empty my Inbox, though -- teaching four online courses so I guess it was "something." Hmmm... Had about twenty emails...

Still, there is a long to-do list:

  • Finish creating and scheduling assignments for my TA course
  • Upload exams for two of my online courses (WP and KI)
  • Finish scheduling assignments for another online course (OP)
  • Upload support files for BM and OP
  • Complete assignments for my own courses (taking three)
  • Post blog links for my students (using Blogger in that course)
  • Complete my annual faculty evaluation
  • Post weekly announcements for all courses
  • Work at least a little bit on the paper that was actually due last semester
  • Patiently wait for the phone call and then enjoy chatting for a couple of hours! This will get accomplished, for sure. ;)

Friday, January 11, 2008

On fun Fridays and wonderful advisors...

Today was a very productive day, I think. I taught one class, then drove to the university for a meeting with my advisor and other TAs. We were able to resolve some issues and, hopefully, next week won't be as bad as it could have been.

Then I enjoyed a delicious lunch with my advisor and she did an excellent job in corralling my research ideas that are flying all over the place. Yep, somewhat organized chaos -- that's me! ;)

After listening to her suggestions, I was able to narrow down my research interest to two potential areas, both somewhat related. One is actually my original plan, the one outlined in the letter of interest submitted to the grad school admissions committee. Somehow, I moved away from it and got tangled in other cool ideas. The other topic reflects my current interests as well as incorporates my previous experience and future plans. Now I have to decide, should I go back to my original plan or pursue the updated version, somewhat related to the original plan but in a different area?

Beginning this semester, I am to wear fashionable blinders. Cool, huh? ;) Oh, I need them, definitely. They are already helping -- have two sound (in my opinion, at least) research interests. I will play with one of them (whichever works best, depends on arrangements) and will make a decision by the end of this semester. Here, it's in writing now so no swerving all over the place. :)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Holding tight!!!

This semester, I had to dive right into the pool of problems, setting up courses, meeting with students, working out glitches with online course setup and textbooks, etc. Rather than picking up speed gradually, the rollecoaster for this semester went right into a terrifying spin, when everything started happening at once.

Yeah, I was procrastinating somewhat. I did revise my syllabi and created new course sites. However, I didn't have time to setup a new program and so now have a number of glitches to resolve. Ah, bookstore orders and chaos associated with them... I have been teaching at this particular school since 2002 and had at least one problem every single semester. Come on, people, get your act together, pleeeeeeease! Most of my students are awesome (echoing Profgrrrl's post here). Some are waiting to the last moment, though, especially if they are taking an online course. I have a number of these individuals who ignored my invitation to the online course orientation and now are calling/emailing me constantly, still refusing to meet with me in person, even though they can't even login to their course! One of our secretaries had a "brilliant" (ahem) idea to give out my cell phone to students. Thank you -- NOT! I don't mind accepting an occassional phone call but having my cell phone ring constantly is not something I really want. Would you?

Anyway, I survived this week so far -- major Yeah!!! Today is crazy since I have several hours between two of my classes and, even though I have a long to-do list, it's difficult to concentrate in a noisy computer lab. But tomorrow is Friday and I will have some quiet time after 1:00 p.m. so, hopefully, will be able to catch up over the weekend...

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