More on Eating

January 9th, 2008

I made low-fat vegetarian lasagna this evening with lots of spinach, carrots, asparagus and mushrooms crammed into the mix. Wonder of wonders, youngest pronounced it delicious.

This is the child who, until recently, consumed only rice, bread, chicken, cheese, pudding, milk and applesauce.

I couldn’t be happier!

Eating Away at My Time

January 9th, 2008

This term I actually have the luxury of a non-teaching day that isn’t Friday. (Fridays don’t count as non-teaching days for the purpose of getting research accomplished since Fridays are meeting days for both the department and the big, university-wide committee on which I sit.)

Theoretically, Mondays are now my research day during which I can concentrate on all my writing and analysis.

Of course, what day have I been booked up on for the next two weeks with committee obligations I just can’t duck?

You guessed it — Mondays. At least on the 21st they’ll serve me lunch for my troubles. . . .

Cliopatria Winners!

January 8th, 2008

Check out the cracker-jack listing over at History News Network. I was privileged to help judge in two of the categories and I’m sincere when I say it was a privilege.

Writing for the internet is not an easy skill (particularly for academics as we tend to be long-winded). To see so many blogs that do this well and consistently, who’ve challenged our presumptions and entertained us while they’ve educated us? Frankly, it’s exhilarating!

Right now I’m busy adding some of the winning blogs to my own RSS reader. I hope you check out those links and do the same.

Invisible Work

January 5th, 2008

Following on from yesterday’s post, I finished the WebCT site for my senior seminar. Both of the courses I’m teaching this term are pretty complete on WebCT (I just have to review all the rest of my Powerpoints for the 1st year class, tweak or completely revise them to match the changes I’ve made to the syllabus and my approach this time around, and upload those for all the classes past week one).

Still, if you asked to see what I did for work over the past few days, it wouldn’t seem impressive. I’ve created assignments, calendars, pre-seeded the discussion for every class with the opening questions, tweaked or created fresh organizer pages for every seminar with links to articles in databases if they were available, revised the syllabi, etc., etc., etc.

To me, that’s a lot accomplished. However, it lacks the satisfying heft of a pile of papers marked or the ego-boosting effect of a sizable word-count as I work on the next article. Even I have to admit that!

Ah, but there’s method in this madness that makes me anticipate a smoother term ahead. I’m hoping by having front-loaded all this WebCT work to the start of the term that I’ll do away with a lot of the interruptions that crop up when I realize I forgot to upload the latest material to the site and rush off to do so before a class. Worse yet, I sometimes find I’d only drafted the revisions to a Powerpoint file, say, and never completed them, so half an hour before class time I’m frantically editing a file and uploading it to the server!

This time around, I hope that burning the midnight oil on getting my course preps ready as can be before term starts helps me to avoid these mistakes once we’re up and running next week. Because I have a lot of writing that I plan to complete this term, both for work and for pleasure. I’ll do a lot better at that if I’m not frantically working on WebCT or Powerpoint revisions.

This Saves Us Time?

January 4th, 2008

Okay, now that marking is complete for last term, I’m working away on preps for this term. There’s yet another course I’m teaching that I haven’t had a WebCT component for previously (Western Civilization, French Revolution to Present), so I’m spending lots of time and energy getting that organized: setting up the Help Area, creating the syllabus, starting up the online library of overheads, etc.

Of course, what was the most fun was making the header image for the course and deciding on the colour theme. Yes, hopelessly geeky, here!

Auld Lang Syne

December 31st, 2007

It’s that time of year when we wax schmaltzy. Let it suffice that 2007 has been a very, very good year for me and mine: a new house, steady work, lots of writing output and wonderful times with family. If 2008 is only half so kind, we will be blessed, indeed.

Reconnecting

December 28th, 2007

Today was the first day I ventured off the property since, what, Christmas Eve? Mostly I holed up in the house, entertaining, baking, reading, tidying, gaming, playing Scrabble — the usual lazy holiday feeling. Tried not to watch too much news because, oh!, things never seem to get any better, do they?

Gifts were good and are much appreciated. I have new warm and cozy sweaters, a lovely necklace, books to read, DVDs to watch and a happy family who’re enjoying their own holiday haul.

It’s been good to have this relaxing holiday break, but I have to get back in focus. Today we ran a few errands, including taking eldest off to spend her gift card at Old Navy and youngest to do the same at Chapters. I’ve taken down and stowed away all the holiday decorations (see you guys next year!). Still not rushing around, though — I’m slowly building back up to speed and thinking about the world in bits and pieces.

In the Spirit of the Season

December 25th, 2007

Wishing all the best to you and yours.

Two Down, One to Go

December 21st, 2007

Second, almost gigantic class, is completed. Now I just have the exams and final calculations to deal with the senior seminar.

Let me just say that Excel’s automation of grade calculations is one of the best things ever. I ♥ my gradebook formulas!

One Down, Two to Go

December 18th, 2007

Gigantic class marking is finished and will be entered into the system tomorrow. The other two classes aren’t quite so challenging, although it will take me all day tomorrow and part of Thursday to complete the exams and tabulate marks in the not-quite-so-giant-sized class of 80-some. Even with Excel auto-calculation, it takes a while to ensure all the input’s correct and to make decisions about marks on the cusp of the pass/fail and other divides.

I did find that I can use the view student section of WebCT to push their exam and final marks to the students “My Grades” tool. Wonder how long it’ll take before I get the first complaints?