Saturday, September 21, 2013

Livin' the Life

In which, after texting my partner a very exciting message about our three-year-old's most recent potty training success, I shove my phone in my pocket, crushing a forgotten goldfish cracker I stashed there earlier after pretending to eat it out of a grubby kid paw. It don't get much more glamorous than the #momlife, I tells ya.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Fandom as Social Lubricant


Some of you know that I have spent the past year thinking about/observing/participating in/kinda sorta blogging about fan communities. (At some point maybe I’ll write about that here if anyone cares, although most days I am not even sure if I do…)

For me, my personal experience of fandom—with the exception of my ill-fated trip this summer to Comic-Con (another future post possibility; see previous caveat)—has been exclusively virtual. I know some other people who like what I like, but literally not one other person who identifies as a “fan” of the things I love and, uh, “study.”

Recently, however, my fannishness has come in handy in some unexpected ways. To wit:

There is an Accounting professor I am collaborating with on a couple of programs at work. He’s a…challenging personality, shall we say, and our working relationship can be difficult and tedious. He’s also British, a detail which was neither here nor there until a couple of weeks ago when he stopped by my cubicle and noticed my collection of Doctor Who fan art. He confessed his childhood love of classic Who and told me that his daughters are equally devoted to the series in its current incarnation. We talked about Steven Moffat and weeping angels and the selection of the new Doctor. (He even confessed, to my amazement, his deeply held conviction that the 12th Doctor should have been a woman.) To say it was a refreshing departure from our usual chats, which usually consist of his anti-union rants, tirades against various university bureaucratic processes, and demands for more  money from my department, would be a massive understatement. Since then, he brings up Doctor Who nearly every time we see one another. Connection: forged. Fandom FTW!

Meanwhile, the teaching side of my job has brought me into contact with a living, breathing IRL example of the Tumblr fangirls in whose communities I’ve been lurking. Some of you might have seen my tweet about the girl in the front row in the Doctor Who t-shirt on the first night of class. A media use survey revealed that she is not just a Who lover, but a Superwholockian (a member of the sisterhood of fandoms: Supernatural, Doctor Who and Sherlock). That I saw her DW t-shirt and raised her a TARDIS iPhone case + included in my syllabus a section on fan communities clued her in that I would “get” her interests. She approached me for a chat during the break in our second class, and has been permanently perched by my desk before and after class ever since. (She’s even following me on Tumblr, which is…weird, but oh well.) I’ve thus far resisted the urge to scoop her up into a jar and scream, “Let me study yoooooouuu!!” and our mutual fannishness has alleviated some of the usual interpersonal awkwardness that I feel with students at the beginning of each semester.

Fandom: better than alcohol for facilitating social interaction, with the added advantage of not having to be drunk at work. #WINNING

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The High Life

Laying on my couch, in the dark, listening to Paul Simon, realizing I could very well never see my dad alive again. Ah, another joyful Sunday night.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Wild Blue Yonder

I've always loved flying. I have a hazy memory of being two years old and flying for the first time from Wisconsin to Tennessee. My dad used to take me to watch planes land and take-off at Mitchell Field in Milwaukee. These days, my job has me on a plane (more than I'd like, at times), and I still find myself thrilled watching the comings and goings of aircraft (despite the sometimes wretched service).

It's with this background that I discovered the JetHead Blog. Written by a professional pilot, the blog is a fascinating, well written look into the inside of the airline industry. Want to know what it's like to land a jumbo jet at SFO? Boom. Want to know how market forces are decimating the pilot corps? Depressingly, that's there too. But woven through it all is the joy of flying, the pride of being a pilot, and stunning vistas from the cockpit.

Have a read. You won't regret it.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Monday, August 26, 2013

PRM

You have no idea how happy this makes me. Gang of Four.

"He'd Send In the Army"



"I Found That Essence Rare"

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sunday Afternoon Hotdish

1# ground lamb
1 sweet onion
A good number of mushrooms
2 cups beef broth
1.5 TBS butter
2 TBS flour
1 TBS cornstarch
Half bag of tater tots
Tilamook Cheddar Cheese
Salt, pepper

Set the oven to broil.
Brown the lamb. Salt, pepper.
Slice the onion and mushrooms.
Drain the fat off the meat, reserve.
Throw the tots under the broiler.
Get the butter melted in a separate pan. When it's melted, pour in the lamb fat. When foaming, whisk in the flour and cornstarch to make a roux.
When lamb is brown, set it aside, add some oil and/or butter to the pan and saute the onions.
How are those tots doing? You're not trying to cook them through, just defrost them and toast them up a bit. Pull them when they are ready.
Add the beef broth to the roux when it is brown and you don't smell flour. Whisk, whisk, whisk. You're going for a thinkish gravy. Salt, pepper.
When the onions are brown, throw the mushrooms in the pan. Maybe add some more butter, why not? Salt, pepper.
Grate cheese.
When the onions, mushrooms and gravy are ready, put the onions and mushrooms in the bottom of a casserole dish. Put the meat on top. Then pour the gravy in, pile the tots on top. Pile the cheese on top of that. Put the dish in a 350 oven for 45-60 mins.

Drink stout throughout. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The more things change...

I'll be headed down in a little bit for the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. I'm sad, but not surprised, that we'll be marching for the same damn things they marched for in 1963.

Timidly dipping my toes in the water...

...of blogging with others who (whom? Jesus, I should know this) I find palm-swea-inducing, intimidatingly smart.

Solidcitizen asked me if I wanted to write here, I said yes (all the while frantically trying to quell the butterflies of inadequacy beating the shit out of my innards) so here I am.

Not sure what I'll contribute or how, but I am with company I deeply respect and would love to impress (or at the very least, not embarrass), so I'll try to make it not suck.

Since folks are kind of touching on the job thing, and life changes in general, I think I can jump in on that train of thought, as I've had some BIG life changes in recent years, and am pondering a BIG change in terms of my career as well.

And the lucky seven regular readers (as solid put it) will get to come along for the ride.

More to come. Need to let my brain marinate a little longer, and to probably get over myself a little more.

In the meantime, a meme to sum me up, to some extent:



Friday, August 23, 2013

Lex Can Just Keep It To Himself

If you're thinking that a double live album by Jane's Addiction would totally be worth $28, please think again.


Not only does it sound muddy with buried vocals, but Perry Farrell does little bits between the songs that had my lady friend calling him a pretentious asshole. And she's married to me, so she knows from pretentious assholes.

UR DOING IT RONG


That moment at work where you realize you are working on the right things, but approaching them with all the wrong assumptions.

Consider this a placeholder and a promise of a longer post to come about my philosophical differences with/ideological objections to the work I am doing in my present position.

But, getting back to a conversation we were having earlier, this is a thought I would feel more comfortable completing after we move into our new digs or, if we're staying here at Ye Olde Blogspot, after I adopt a more pseudonymous nom de post.

To be continued...

Four on the Floor

Hey.

Solidcitizen texted me last night asking me if I'd consider writing again at the OG, and then told me to take a gander. It could have been a Pink-Floyd-minus-Roger-Waters-style nostalgia cash-in, I suppose. But no, the band is truly back together. And it struck me that I actually DID miss the camaraderie and the exercising of the old writing muscle (beyond the strictures of 140 characters) of the way-back-when.

So fuck yeah, I'll start blogging again. And as a tentative first step back into the deep end, I'll let you know what's been in the intervening years (assuming you haven't been able to piece it together).

  1. Worrying about debt - both personally and professionally, to the point where I'm very likely to ask my doctor about Xanax on my next visit.
  2. Parenting a child with Asperger's Syndrome - a big joy with some challenges thrown in. Nine times out of ten it manifests as drawing some sort of really smart or profound connection. The tenth is usually a socially inappropriate display. 
  3. Being an engaged member of the community - I'll be honest: it took me a long time to feel connected to our little burg near the Capitol City. Like until last year. But now I really do feel like this is home to me, with good friends and a community of support. It's nice to feel that grounding again. And, like a real live adult, I've become involved in community organizations, like being a member of the board of our pool co-op (which has all the teeth-grinding of a regular governing board with the added irritation of being populated by hippies (including myself in that)).
  4. Indian cooking - my saag paneer and pork vindaloo really do bring all the boys to the yard.
  5. Learning guitar riffs - especially sloppy riffs. You'd be surprised how much fun it is to play 70s era Aerosmith.
It's good to be back.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Reoriented


Today I attended my institution’s first-ever new lecturer orientation. It was kinda awesome for a number of reasons.

First, talk about a good idea that is long overdue. More than two thirds of all instruction on our campus is delivered by lecturers. New tenure-track folks get two full days of orientation, as well as ongoing workshops and support activities throughout their first year. But apparently up until now it was assumed that NTT folks didn’t particularly need any information to acquaint them with campus or one another or any available resources. We need these things, one would assume, like we need a living wage or job security or respect, which is to say, not at all. Lecturers, unlike our tenure-line brethren, are capable of figuring everything out without a lot of hand-holding. That’s why we get paid the big bu…oh. Right. Nevermind…

Anyway, the point I was building up to is that previously getting new lecturers on board was the purview of the hiring department. And, as a former very dis-oriented lecturer, I can tell you that some departments seriously could not care less about this responsibility. When I was hired on in DEPARTMENT X, I got one email about my office assignment and another about where to pick up a key and not one thing more. I had no contract, no information about how to get an ID or activate my email account or access my class roster, no guidelines about university requirements for syllabi or how to order textbooks or how to set up my course in the campus LMS, no information about the technology available in the classrooms or how to use it, no introduction to campus resources for faculty or students. I met exactly one person: the department secretary. I had been teaching for three weeks before I met the woman I thought was the department chair; a week after that I learned that she hadn’t been chair since the following spring., which is probably why she never responded to any of my emails. One month in a meet & greet was planned to introduce the faculty and students to the 2 new TTs and 2 new lecturers. It was scheduled during the time that my class met. My class that met once a week. At night. I learned about the lecturer evaluation procedure when I was informed that my review portfolio, which I had never heard of, was two days late. My contract for the semester showed up in my department mailbox during finals week. So yeah, I’d say some formal mechanism for getting lecturers up and running is pretty fucking vitally necessary.

So, even though I’m not technically new and DEPARTMENT Y, to their credit, takes welcoming new NTT folks much more seriously than that other department, I went to orientation. I met other lecturers! I learned a lot that I didn’t know, even after having taught here previously and working on campus full time since January and learning things secondhand by nature of being a faculty spouse! They let us mingle with the privileged ones at the faculty reception! I got handouts! Useful ones! And invitations to future workshops!

I actually left feeling like a faculty member with a day job instead of…whatever it is that I usually think I am [insert self-deprecating comment here; bonus points for incorporating the words "failed" and "academic"]

Yeah, so it was a pretty good day.