Monthly Archives: September 2012

Halloween time!

what a cutie

It’s almost October (the best month), which means it’s almost Halloween (the best holiday)!  I’m pretty excited.  I’m hosting a pumpkin carving and game night at my place, the house where I’m living in sin with Boyfriend (it’s been awesome so far).  Speaking of whom, Boyfriend never dresses up for Halloween.  What a jerk.  Honestly.  So this year I thought of a great costume idea for him, and he’s on board!  He’s going to be a hipster.

We live in Silverlake, and we go to this great pho place nearby that’s like hipster flypaper.  It’s really fun to people-watch.  So he’s gonna wear his tightest pants, a loose v-neck shirt, pointless large-rimmed glasses, and one of my scarves.  I’m going to draw some ironic wolf/YOLO tattos on his arms, and maybe a feather on his neck or behind his ear.  Should be an easy, hilarious costume that he’ll be comfortable in, and our friends will enjoy.  He’ll probably change out of half of it before the end of the night, but who cares!  It’s still progress.

Meanwhile, I’ll be dressing as a lady!!  I’m wearing my Renaissance Faire costume, which I love, and I bet my Ren Faire buddies will wear theirs, too.  I’m wearing it to work too, and if my boss doesn’t like it she can just suck it.  Halloween is for dressing up.  So there.

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I’m turning ingredients into food!

how could it possibly be that bright orange color? did i forget to add the unicorn shit?

I’ve never really tried to cook anything ambitious, so imagine my surprise when I made a soup from scratch the other day and it turned out crazy delicious.  It’s a butternut squash, corn and lemongrass soup, and it’s not difficult (assuming you have something that can puree soft vegetables).  Sister’s really big on healthy food right now, and she loves vegetables (apparently, who knew?), so she went nuts on this soup, which pleased me to no end.  It’s also really pretty, and super healthy.  My first soup made from scratch: Win!

After this one success, I thought to myself, “Self, you can cook anything!  Let’s make something else!”  At which point I started to fail.

Goal: make a delicious pumpkin-themed drink for my pumpkin carving Halloween party next month.  I landed on something called Pumpkin Cider. (see picture)

Actual outcome: brown, slimy, over-flavored, alcoholic muck I was reticent to pour down the drain for fear of angering it. (see picture)

I got all the ingredients together, and read the comments on the website (one person actually complained about it being too thick, but didn’t seem to follow the recipe).  I followed all the instructions, except for the one that said to add the spiced rum after the whole concoction had simmered on the stove for 20 minutes.  That batch quickly turned the consistency of snot, and was unceremoniously thrown out.  I added everything in the right order the second time, and the result was… totally overwhelmingly unpleasant.  It was a combination of things I love (pumpkin flavor, spiced rum, home made whipped cream, pumpkin pie spice, apple cider) that combined to create some kind of diarrhea-colored dream-killer.

Naturally I had boyfriend try it first.  He said something very kind and diplomatic like, “…I wasn’t expecting that flavor.  Let me try it again.”  Then he stopped trying it and said, “It doesn’t know what it wants to be.”  I could not agree more.  Epic Halloween drink fail.

win!

Then I got kinda depressed.  I really wanted this to work out.  I really want a cute little treat for my friends when they come to carve pumpkins and play spooky games!  The pouting went on for a good 24 hours, but I wasn’t about to give up because FUCK THAT.  I LOVE Halloween.  I was going to create something delicious for my friends for my favorite holiday, and they were going to love it, dammit.

So I tried again, this time with something called Liquid Pumpkin Pie.  It used a milk base and significantly less canned pumpkin, which was already a good sign that my ineptitude as a cook would not be manifested a second time in the form of some kind of brown sludge and disappointment.

To my utter surprise, it turned out fantastic. (see picture)  Boyfriend tried it, and nodded furiously with huge eyes, then asked for a mug of it to drink while playing WoW (pandas, ugh).  It even remotely resembled the recipe photo.  Success!


My professor sucked

I thought it best not to post this until a couple of weeks after my grades got posted, lest the professor in question do a search and find my blog.  I can’t say I honestly care anymore, so I’m posting it.  Naturally, names have been changed.

My first semester of graduate school is over (except for those two papers I have yet to complete).  Once those are done, I have a week before the next semester starts, at which point I will stop having a life once again, only this time I’m prepared, lol.

The funny thing about learning how to teach is that I’m constantly checking the teaching methods of my instructors.  I took two classes this semester: one instructor was awesome (insightful, encouraging, engaging, the whole nine yards), while my other instructor was… worthy of the anonymous scathing review I just left for him (they could not have been more different.  This semester was weird).  It went something like this:

my professor grading my papers

What are the instructor’s main strengths?
[something about how he got along with another student with a similar upbringing, go figure]

How could the instructor improve?
He should pour himself a stiff drink and read my “additional comments.”

Additional Comments
-He said “friggin a” on the second day of class after becoming frustrated by the questions asked by students (time stamp: between 2:23:40-2:25:13).  The student he said this to was visibly embarrassed.  Toward the end of the semester, that student told me that he was still reticent to speak in this class because of that experience, even though two and a half months had passed since then.

-He did not leave time for students to formulate and ask questions.

-He often spent the first 30-45 minutes of class monologuing about the reading while referring to a PowerPoint presentation, and reviewed the readings almost verbatim.  This is particularly ironic since the necessity of student participation in classroom discussion was often a topic.  We were taught through monologue that we should not monologue a lesson to our students, since this is not conducive to learning. 

-On one occasion, he emailed students 25 minutes before class was scheduled to start that he could not attend, saying he would record the lecture for us to view later.  He sent an email four days later that the lecture was on the website, however it was not.  Two students mentioned that they could not find the recorded lecture on the website two days before class; two more mentioned that they had the same difficulty the day before class, all without response from the professor.  It was not until a student suggested, during class, that he may have uploaded it for private viewing rather than public viewing that he discovered that was the problem.  He blamed the changes made to the online platform.

-Students’ group contributions were cut short and treated as unimportant.  During a week 8 class (time stamp: between 2hr and 2hr8min), we were told to keep it short, and pretend we were calling into a radio show.  He said, “You got 30 seconds!”  He blamed the length of the class.

-Turning in papers early was impossible to do without being punished.  The class before the due date, we always found a problem with the directions that demanded that I alter my paper and resubmit it.  Inept Instructor marked me down in one instance when he said he would not due to conflicting instructions (when I reminded him, he said he would fix it–three weeks later I sent him an email reminding him that he said he would do this.  Only then did my grade reflect the changes he said he would make weeks prior).  He said he needed to check his rubric to see how many points he allots to each portion of the paper in question, then correct his mistake.  The second time there were problems with a paper I handed in early, I resubmitted the paper with corrections, but he graded the wrong one, and asked me to fix problems I had already fixed (and handed in) a week prior.  He blamed the class for not reading instructions closely enough, ignoring the fact that instructions for the various parts of assignments were often found in different documents, and just as often, didn’t match what the other documents’ instructions.

-He incorrectly pointed out a problem with my APA formatting on a paper (and docked me for it).  When I emailed him pointing out the error, his reply was, “That’s awesome.”  He restored one point to my paper, bringing it from an A- to an A.  I heard from another student in the class that he mistakenly docked her for the same non-issue, and recommended that she bring it to his attention.  I’m concerned about how many other students he may have wrongly docked for this same issue, and how it affected their grades.  Although he changed my grade, he never admitted there was a problem, and dodged any blame for his mistake.

-He sent an email to the class reminding us that there would be no class on Labor Day, which would have been very considerate if he had not sent it at 8:35pm on Labor Day.

-He sent curt emails to the students for not handing in their papers on time, only to discover that he could not receive emails from non-USC email addresses.    He blamed his IT department, and took no credit for the mistake.  If a student were to encounter a problem like this, he would be penalized for not checking our systems beforehand to avoid this problem (we are told, for example, that it is the students’ responsibility to check our cameras and audio setup for problems well before class to deal with any potential issues because if a technical problem keeps us from being in class, we are punished by being considered absent, and receive no credit for that day’s class time).

During the last class, when a student asked where the class evaluation form could be found, Inept Instructor said he had no idea.  He blamed the online platform format for hiding it.  The professor for my other class not only knew where it was, but on the last day of class, directed us to it and reminded us to fill it out.

thank you, interwebz, for reading my mind

-I write this the day after the last class: 1/3 of my assignments remain ungraded.  In addition, none of my class participation points have been posted.  If I have received credit for going to class, I have yet to see evidence of it in the grades section of the online platform.  Of all the forum postings, papers, and class time scores (not counting the final paper, for which the due date has not yet passed), only seven of the 23 scores possible (30%) for this class have been graded and put on the online platform.  When a student asked Inept Instructor a month ago if he would be putting more of our grades up, Inept Instructor replied, “I think you’ve figured it out…I’m slow 🙂 Your analysis papers are graded and posted. I will be assigning individual forum posting and class participation grades.”  The latter statement, at least, has proven to be untrue.  I wonder what he thinks the purpose of the “grades” section of the online platform is, if not to PUT OUR GRADES UP.

One running theme in Inept Instructor’s teaching style was a complete lack of accountability on his part.  Though all these mistakes, both big and small, were clearly Inept Instructor’s fault, not only did he take zero credit for any of them, but the only apology Inept Instructor ever offered was when he apologized for not being able to make it to class.  Of course, he voiced this apology to his camera when he recorded the make-up class, effectively eliminating our ability to respond to him as a group, and sapping the apology of any authenticity. 

I did not find Inept Instructor to be a motivating, interesting, or well-organized instructor.  He did not seem to grasp the concept that, “Just because you’re talking doesn’t mean your students are learning.”  I learned more about what NOT to do in a classroom from watching Inept Instructor than I did from our readings and discussions.  Thanks for a valuable learning experience, Inept Instructor.


Live, damn you!

totally appropriate

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Email: Ur doin’ it wrong

“Have you tried yelling at it?!”

As I’ve previously pointed out, it’s pretty much common knowledge that old people are bad with computers. Sure, there are exceptions, but on the whole, the learning curve is just too sharp for sexagenarians to keep up with.

My boss at Office Job is a member of said group. She has me print out PowerPoint presentations, and tells me to “keep a copy” of digital files. She scrolls through documents looking for names instead of using ctrl+f. She resends emails with the subject “not sure if i already sent this.” She double-clicks EVERYTHING.

Although this is what I’ve come to expect from her age-group, I confess I felt genuine shock when I helped her hunt through her Yahoo email inbox for some attachments. I told her to try searching for the recipient. The conversation went something like this:

“I’m looking at who sent them, I can’t find her.”
“…Try using the search bar… At the top… The top of the page… Right there.”
“Oh! That’s a great idea.”
“It’s very useful. I use my search bar often.”

And so on. I try to be gentle.

Eventually she gave up, got up from her chair and wished me luck. I sat down, went to the top of the page, and froze. She had over 150,000 emails in her inbox.

A hundred and fifty thousand.

If she’s been collecting these emails over the course of ten years, that’s 41 emails per day including weekends and holidays. Every day. For a decade.

I don’t know how long she’s had this email address, but it has the year 2002 in it, so I think ten years is a solid bet. Still, WTF?!!! How does this happen? I get the feeling she has no sense of how an inbox should function, what folders are, how to use them, when an email should be deleted, etc. She has adult kids, don’t they help her with this stuff? Or are they as lost as she is?

What worries me is that even her work email inbox is engorged with messages (read and unread): about 20,000 currently, at least a dozen or so of which are mine, longing to be read and dealt with. They might as well exist outside of time. They might as well accept their fate, and die.


A guide to online comics

I realized I’ve been referencing a lot of online comics to friends recently, and it’s super awkward.  “In this one online comic I read, there’s a character who’s a troll with really terrible gas, and he’s hilarious, but anyway…”  Not what I could call a quality, two-sided conversation.

Flow chart to the rescue!  This is the last week of my first semester in my online Master’s degree program.  I made this during class.  In fact, class is still going on as I type this.  I still have a 10-page paper to do for this class, so I don’t feel too bad about making time to do something fun.

i made this

 


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