link love

The depressing thing is that this, while terrible and unfair, is nothing compared to other racist stuff the police do.  Like this was what I used to think the worst stuff the police did was and it bothered me, but not to quite the extent that, you know, the beating and killing and harassment does.

racist principal

hiring bias

50 year old mystery about measles solved (maybe)

excellent article that is far better than the stupid article that inspired it

This was spot on– they matched the worst hell on that list with my type.  Of course the ESTJ is pretty terrifying too and that’s not me.

The shu box discusses minimalist thoughts, not being a minimalist, and related things.

I’m a classic.  #2 is Radical Red.

Thrift shopping in less than 37 steps.

Fantastic piece about NYC.

grump grump grump

worry work and the possibility of change

deez nuts

poor seal

should you read middle grade books?

the explanations here are hilarious

Ask the grumpies: Dissertation Student from Hades

Stacie asks:

I have this student. She is a PhD student and she gets under my skin! Several months ago I could tell things were not right between us as she was very combative and defensive in class. I tried various ways to figure this issue out in class to no avail. I finally asked for a meeting and honestly felt blind-sided and rail-roaded by her response. When I tried to discuss her behavior, she was quick to retort how she wasn’t the problem, it was me and began to recount my failings [update:  failings were that Stacie is “cold and distant”]. It honestly caught me off guard and I didn’t know how to respond. I ultimately tried to diffuse the situation and talk about how we would work together in the future. I did find out that other students definitely see problems in her behavior in various classes, but have yet to find another professor who will vouch for this. I’ve asked and they say they have no problems with her, but then I hear other students talk about how much this student is being difficult in their classes… (this also drives me crazy!) I talked to my Chair whose overall response to most things seems to be “oh well” so that didn’t really help.

I am really having a hard time keeping my cool around this student who continues to be defensive in class. I am definitely having trouble “teaching others how to treat me” – probably because I don’t like conflict, try to be “nice”, and don’t have great one-liners at the ready to respond to student behaviors.

Yes, I am the newest faculty member, one of the only young females in a mostly senior, male faculty, and have been told I’m the most “human” of any professor we have. (I used to think this was a good thing, but now am not so sure.)

I was wondering if you could help me with how to think about this issue or some phrases I could use regularly with this kind of thing with students or other things I can do to survive this kind of issue. I have a feeling this won’t be my last student who challenges me like this, but I don’t want to always worry or over-think these things. I honestly have some great students, but this one student is the only one I can think about! It drives me crazy!

Well, we don’t have any great advice on this particular student.  Avoiding her completely would be awesome, but it sounds like that might not be an option. Mostly, it sounds like you need a mentor who has handled PhD students at your school for a while and has tenure. They can give you suggestions for the circumstances.  It also sounds like you’ve tried in vain to find such a mentor, and that really sucks.  We’re sorry you’re not getting more support on this.  :(

However, you can also look outside of your department.  Seek out the following resources: 1) talk to the head of the teaching development center at your school, whatever that’s called. (Or teaching & learning, or teaching & Faculty development, etc.) They exist for things like this! 2) talk to your faculty ombudsperson, as they may know more resources and probably have seen similar situations in the past. 3) attempt to get mentoring informally from senior colleagues — if not in your own department then in other departments. You could talk to other people who supervise PhD students, members of the student’s dissertation committee, the Director of Graduate Studies for your department, or the Dean of the Graduate School (or someone in their office). Take them to coffee and ask for advice. It’s good for the future to be friendly with these sorts of people anyway. 4) Outlast the student. Unfortunately this also takes time.

In terms of how to prevent these kinds of things from happening in the future with other students, Teach like a champion is an invaluable resource with tactics that really do work. It isn’t quite as much help for what to do after a problem has started, but it’s great for setting up a professional environment where problems won’t start. We have some posts on teaching tactics from it that you might find helpful if you want to get a taste while waiting to get it from the library.  Maintain control of the classroom, and very strong personal boundaries. Don’t let the turkeys get you down.

Update:  That is an incredibly gendered complaint.  Professors are allowed to be cold and distant and setting boundaries and having a personal bubble helps immensely when you’re a young woman professor.  If you didn’t have such a bubble, students would be complaining about something else because they would perceive you as unprofessional.  There’s no way to win.  Allowing space and distance is the way to go because it isn’t so time intensive or emotionally challenging, even if you get punished for it.

Getting grey hair is also good for reducing student challenges. And experience is great for not letting obnoxious students get to you so much. But those strategies take time.

In the mean time, hopefully the academic part of the Grumpy Nation will chime in with additional suggestions.  We’ll also try to get a signal boost from Historiann to get her always helpful readers.

Reader feedback

Let’s see… we probably won’t change the amount of academia posts or feminisms posts because dude, hobby.  We’re not planning on stopping link love.  Hm… what else is interesting…

update:  other doesn’t seem to be posting I the poll as far as I can tell… Please note your “other” in the comments.

A mother’s day rant

1.  If you’re a full-time daycare, don’t have “Muffins with Mom”.

2.  If you decide to have “Muffins with Mom” anyway, don’t put a sign-up sheet in the lobby where everyone can see which moms obviously don’t love their children enough to leave work to spent 30 min eating store-bought muffins with them at daycare.

3.  Also, the next day don’t ask the moms who weren’t there why they weren’t there and then tell them that they were the only mom who wasn’t there and little DC was so upset.  (Especially if the reason according to DC that ze was upset was because ze had to have grapes instead of muffins like all the other kids because ze’s allergic to wheat.  Or maybe especially if that’s not the reason.)

I wonder how many moms are going to show up in Dad’s place for Donuts with Dad, which I assume they’re also having.  Of course, little DC2 won’t have dad there either because he’s traveling for work that week.

I’m actually only slightly irritated, and mainly at the patriarchy.  And to be honest, I would have checked the no box even if I hadn’t had a P&T meeting scheduled a month and a half in advance at exactly that time.  I am willing to sacrifice DC a little bit so that other mothers can also feel free to check the “no” box if they need to or want to.  (And at the time I checked “No” there were two other “No”s, one with a written “I’m out of town” excuse.)  I suppose that makes me a terrible mother, but I don’t want hir to feel like this is a big deal, and based on conversations with hir the evening of the event, ze was indeed upset by the lack of muffin and not at all by the lack of mommy.  (And yes, a “better” set of parents would have brought gluten-free muffins, but DC2 has gf cookies provided specifically for these kinds of events, and I didn’t really realize that it was Thursday until I got to daycare and saw the ladies setting up for the party, because the end of the semester is busy.)

I have the solace that deep down I believe that these little upsets truly are character building and learning to weather having to eat grapes when the other kids have muffins so as to avoid getting a rash is just one of those things that makes a person stronger.  Obviously we shouldn’t try to create character building incidents because that’s sadistic, but it’s not such a big deal when they happen.  Especially when grapes are actually better than grocery store muffins.

or with music

I encouraged my (heterosexual male) partner to have dinner with another woman

… even though we’re planning a wedding!

How’s that for a click-bait headline?  Clickkkk baaaaaiiiiiit.

Seriously though, this is another post on the importance of networking.

My partner’s company was imploding and it was time to get out.  So he tapped a network, went out to dinner, and came back with a referral to a new job that included a raise, a better commute, and three weeks off for the wedding and honeymoon.

Wooo networks!

(And boo patriarchy for allowing the headline of this post to sound even the least bit interesting.)

link love

Academic Cog is totally justified in being pissed.  SRSLY.  What a dick move.

More on this topic next week, probably Tuesday.  (If you want a preview, I left like 8 mildly ranty comments on this wandering scientist post)

I love the meme here.  New study demonstrates shocking truth about faculty hiring.  Also, best practices.  (The articles they cite are SOLID.)

Use in extreme emergencies (such as realizing you left all your red pens and pencils at home and the supply closet is out)

<3 Stephen Colbert

So many books to read

WTF minister? If he’s gonna be like that, he should convert to Catholicism. That’s what the Catholics want. He wouldn’t even have to get a divorce, he could be a married catholic priest. The Catholic church is totally down with that, “Hey Episcopalians, bring us your intolerant, your bigots, we will welcome them with open arms, so long as they’re you know, straight and male.”

The monster at the end of this book, a Sad Puppy Review.

7 days left to fund the Octavia Project.

Howard U alumni clear debt.

We miss breaking cat news , but there’s been a whole lotta cuteness on her twitter feed while we wait.

miser mom talks allowances

Ahh, chlamydia + no sex ed…

empathy cards for serious illness (as seen/heard all over the mediasphere this week)

Marvel gets women

Middle class problems

#clickbaitbooks

Friday I’m in Google

Q:  reading site that recommends books compared to others read but not amazon

A:  We like librarything.  (Some people do goodreads)

Q:  do engineers make good husbands

A:  Yes.

Q:  why do humans need comfort

A:  Evolution + humans are social creatures?

Q:  is gifted child a real thing

A:  Yes. A real person even.

Q: write a descriptive essay on a weeding which you attend rescently

A: This is a new one. Usually these little plagiarists are looking for a wedding (and I wonder how many teachers/professors know about my horrible not-really-Catholic uncle now). A weeding is *far* more interesting. Still, kids, do your own homework. Imagine weeding.

Q:  were did our parents live

A: Europe. California. The South. The Midwest.

Q:  answers for a mother’s helper job interview?

A:  Dude, just be honest.  Or find another line of work.  Don’t plagiarize interview answers!

Q:  what is meant by education these days

A:  Um… or maybe

Q:  what do adults miss most about high school

A:  Nothing?

Q:  do engineering faculty teach during the summer

A:  Depends on the university, school, department, and professor.

Posted in Uncategorized. Tags: . 1 Comment »

Random Belly-rubs of Kittens

Because, Kittens!!!

Rawr.

They have grown so fast. Five (!) kittens are definitely outgrowing my bathroom.

Today is the day they are going to get “fixed” and they will be adopted soon after.  The mighty hunter in the picture above also has a small hernia, which will get fixed at the same time he is.  I had an official volunteer orientation at the shelter so now I will go there one day a week for a couple hours too.  I actually think it’s more likely that I will fall in love with a mature cat at the shelter than that we’ll keep any foster kittens… but neither one will happen for a while yet.  Kittens are tremendous work and I like knowing that someone else will give these little guys a loving home.  They chew cords, and we have a million.

Kittens are high-energy.  Last night I brought out the laser pointer but they stubbornly refused to care about it and kept on with their eating-my-shoes game instead.  Oh well.  The tabby is off in his own little world and often plays by himself.  He chases his tail; it gets away.  Sneaky bugger.

Contemplating tails

Contemplating tails

He is fascinated by the crack in the bathroom doorway, I don’t know why. He stares into it. Maybe he sees Narnia?

Also, sometimes he must vigorously wrestle the bedding into submission.  Rawr.

Today’s question for the commenters is:  WHO is a good boy?  Is it yooooou?  Are you a pretty pretty kitty? Kitty!

Thoughts on Brave New World

In college we had to give a writing sample on a book that changed the way we view the world.  I wrote about Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.  I failed that writing test in college and had to re-take the test with a different question (so as not to have to take remedial writing!) because I’m fairly sure the person who graded me didn’t like what I got out of it.  I knew what I was supposed to get out of it, but the tired civilized man dystopia/ wild man utopia always seemed false to me and I felt it must have been tacked on because Aldous Huxley had created a world that, though frightening and different than our own, was too perfect.  Huxley had to come up with a way to destroy its merits, and that destruction fell flat in my mind.  1984 is a far more obvious dystopia; Huxley had to work at destroying his utopia.  Instead, I wrote about how I learned to think like an anthropologist from the book , though I didn’t phrase it as being thinking like an anthropologist.  I just talked about how it showed me that culture shapes the way we view our world (using um, culture’s views of sex being a primary cause of rape as my primary example, which I still know to be correct– if there is no shame to sex, it can no longer be used as a weapon).*

I’ve been thinking about Brave New World and how what I got out of it is different than most literary theory about it.  Anyhow, I think I got something different out of Brave New World for two main reasons:  1.  Although none of the true main characters are women (the one main character woman is kind of a cog who exists to reflect the male main characters), women in that utopia world sure have a hell of a lot better life than women in the real world, even if men don’t necessarily and 2.  I’m an alpha and when I read Brave New World life sucked so much as an alpha and if I rebelled against the social order in Brave New World my punishment would have been to go to a true island utopia populated only by other alphas and oh man oh man that was a dream world for middle-school me (one that came true in high school!).

So I looked up feminist criticisms of brave new world on google, and after adding the name “huxley” so as not to get so much stuff about modern sex that just uses the phrase, I came up with a few interesting articles.  Margaret Atwood (who literally wrote the book on feminist dystopia) has an interesting article on how it has stood up after 75 years.   This google book has some neat discussion questions from a feminist perspective.

And I wonder about how our perceptions in our current society shape what we view as utopia and dystopia, and how clear it is that we need more authors willing and able to write from different perspectives.  How much literary theory only makes sense from a middle-class white male viewpoint?  How many messages seem shallow when you’re not the intended audience?  Feminist theory shouldn’t be relegated in its own niche and ignored by everybody who isn’t a feminist theorist.  We could all benefit from a little anthropology in our world-views.

How often do you feel like you’re not the target audience?  Do you feel like that has shaped your world-view for when you are the target?  And what did you get out of reading Brave New World?**

*Despite not finishing the make-up test and freaking out about that, the writing instructor who graded the make-up told me that based on that writing, it didn’t make sense that I had to take the make-up in the first place, which made me feel better.  I got asked to be a writing tutor a year later.  So I’m pretty sure whoever graded me just didn’t like my arguments.  Another reason for me to never go into the humanities.  And yes, my formal writing is much less stream-of-consciousness than my blogging.  I’m a big believer in outlines and topic sentences.

**It’s short!  And not as traumatic as say, The Handmaid’s Tale (to me, anyway).

May Mortgage Update: And I might get a month of summer salary(!)

This month (May):
Balance:$24,703.22
Years left: 1.833333333
P =$1,112.22, I =$102.19, Escrow =$809.48

Last month (April):
Balance:$25,815.43
Years left: 1.9166666666666666667
P =$1,107.83, I =$106.57, Escrow =$788.73

One month’s prepayment savings: $0

I’m not holding my breath yet, but since I’m too lazy to dig up before/after pictures of our bathroom and the whole fixing the house up for potential renters is seriously depressing me (as is house hunting for a rental), I thought it would be nice to do a little financial planning based on potential new information.

So, last week I was informed that this service thing that I’ve been doing has a little extra money and that little extra money might translate into a month of summer salary.  Count me in for summer salary!

With me going to half pay next year and our housing expenses potentially going way up we’ve cut back on our savings in order to afford housing (and to keep us from having to worry about what happens if nobody rents our house… also all those additional expenses that come with a temporary move).

Here are the assumptions we made when we figured out what we could afford for housing

1.  stop contributing to my retirement next year other than the required 6% plus match (not counting the changes I made to max out the 2015 403(b)), and 2. stop contributing to 529s, 3. get someone to cat-sit for the cost of utilities rather than rent our house, 4. don’t cut back our frivolous spending, and 5.  stop pre-paying the mortgage

So what should we put that one month summer salary towards?  Well, I assume that I will be able to fill the 2016 403(b) in another year when I go back to regular salary, so not that.  I will still have plenty of room in my 457, so that is probably what should come next.  It is tempting to just continue to fund the 529s because they happily auto-deduct every month, but with DH having crappy retirement options, it makes more sense to max out mine to make up for what he’s not contributing (since we’re no longer IRA eligible).  Retirement is more important than college savings, especially given that DC1 has 80K in hir 529 as of this writing.  (DC2 has 20K.)  If we do rent out our house, then finishing out the 457 for the year will be the next priority, followed by restarting 529 savings.  I guess these priorities are the same if we rent out our place or pay less for rent but don’t get that summer salary!

I don’t think we should spend more than 5K/mo for housing.  If we were going to do that, we should have grabbed that perfect furnished 6K/mo house several months ago.  Yes, I know that’s a sunk cost but loss aversion is real, as is that bias you have to make your current actions cause your previous actions to have been the optimal actions.  But in reality, spending 60K/year on housing already makes me feel a little ill– 72K is just completely implausible, especially when we could get an imperfect place for more like 36-42K/year.  I do hope we find a closer to perfect place in our price range.  But we’ll see what happens a little later this summer.

What are your priorities when you get an unexpected temporary income boost?