I'm Just Sayin'

Updates on what's happening in my life. Thoughts about current events, politics, books, and anything else that I find interesting. Intended for those who know and love me.

Location: Albany, New York

Monday, September 21, 2009

Inane Legislation

The part of the Higher Education Opportunity Act regulating textbook orders for colleges and universities clearly shows the generational gap between our elected officials and our students and/or demonstrates the power of lobbying on behalf of major book distributors. According to the act, professors must now publicly post the required and supplemental reading materials for every course 3-4 months in advance of the semester, supposedly to give students ample opportunity to find cheap books.

First of all, it does not take students that long to find cheap books. See, there's this thing called the Internet that has really sped up shopping. Students normally get a syllabus the first day of class (or a week or so earlier if they are really eager) then they get online and hunt down the cheapest versions they can find. Really, it's just that simple. They do not need additional legislation to help them save money. They are well aware that every penny not spent on educational materials can be spent on their social lives. That is incentive enough to be frugal. Not to mention that fact that at Albany, at least, students change courses so many times before and during the start of the semester that they are not going to purchase any books until they've settled on their schedules.

Secondly, this law now forces faculty at my institution to place their orders at the official campus bookstore, run by one of the big book distributors (Barnes & Noble, I think), although many of us prefer to use the small, alternative bookstore because they are often cheaper and more efficient. Of course, we can still use the other bookstore, but we must use the campus one as well. That's a convenient way to create a monopoly.

Third, this law is entirely ignorant of the way faculty work to design and update courses. Even if I were super-organized and prepared my Spring 2010 syllabus by October 1, 2009, as is now required, it locks me into reading material that I may decide is not ideal by the time the semester starts in late January and it precludes me from adding new material that I may find in those four months, not to mention that it takes time away from my obligations for the current semester. Reading selections are very time consuming and we're now sacrificing quality of education for ... what, exactly?

Sunday, September 06, 2009

You Know You're Old When

You can no longer pull an all-nighter. I'm on my way to the European criminology conference in Slovenia via Amsterdam & Budapest. I had a long layover in Amsterdam so I took the train into town to do some sightseeing. That was between 1-4 am my time and I could barely function. I wandered around taking pictures but all I wanted to do was sleep. 20 yrs ago I would have loved watching Amsterdam wake up but today I found it hard to care. Not to mention the fact that Amsterdam smells like San Francisco (ie, like piss) so I wasn't exactly impressed. I'll return for a full day on my way back so maybe with a little sleep I'll see a different side of the city.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

The Fate of the Blog

I've taken an unexpectedly long break from the blog. I wondered if I'd write here anymore after I got sucked into the weird world of Facebook, but I've been missing my little piece of cyberspace quite a bit lately. Since I'm going to be killing a lot of time at airports over the next 24 hours, this will be a nice distraction. This is also my first blog post from the Blackberry and it's becoming painfully clear that I am not a texter. More to come ...

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Kids Say the Darndest Things

How can I visit my niece and not write about her latest insights on the world? Now that she's 6 we've moved to more logical and nuanced conversations. It's pretty interesting. My favorite snippets from last weekend:

Ciocia: Abby, I have to go to a conference for work for a few hours and then we can play later this afternoon. Do you know what a conference is?
Abby (in her best "answering a question by the teacher" voice): A conference is when the professors get together in a big room and talk about their students -- which ones were good and which were bad.
Abby (as I'm leaving for the conference): I sure hope all of your students are good.
Cicocia: Me too!
(They weren't, but they also weren't my students!)

As I'm getting ready to head back home, my suitcase is near the door next to her backpack. She tries to pick up the suitcase, but can't.

Abby: Ciocia, I know why your suitcase it so heavy?
Ciocia: Oh yeah? Why's that?
Abby: Because it's filled with all of your tears from missing me so much!

Abby's struggling with being a good sport while playing competitive games, like the Wii. We had a tough love conversation about being a gracious winner and loser, which she was resisting with all her might. After a series of "whys" after all of my words of wisdom, I ran out of answers and said:

Ciocia: Because it will make you a better person.
Abby (with pouty cheeks and tears): But I don't want to be a better person!!
(At which point I had to give up because I started laughing.)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Suffering from Severe Flakiness

I have no idea what has gotten into me lately, but I have been so unbelievably flaky these past few months that I am driving myself crazy! Ever since I returned from Europe, I have been forgetting things, losing things, neglecting things ... you name it. Thankfully, none of this has been related to work or anything else really important. It's just been affecting the little things. For example, in the past three months I have lost a ton of stuff -- my watch (a sentimental birthday gift from my mother), my favorite pair of earrings (a gift from Eddie), my sunglasses (for the umpteenth time), my web cam (which I eventually found right under my nose) ... and the list goes on. Just now I spent ten minutes turning my office upside down looking for my post-it flags. They were right under my nose -- in fact, sitting right next to my Diet Coke! Good grief! I really hope this is just a phase.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Little Things Do Matter

This is the semester for finishing up things. I will very happily be wrapping up two edited projects (and have vowed not to take on another one for a very, very, very long time). I am also trying to get several manuscripts out the door. I have papers that are anywhere from 40-80% completed that just need to be finished and submitted. The tenure clock is ticking, after all.

I have a very specific goal to finish up one of these manuscripts this week. It's very close to being done. So today is a full blown writing day. Nothing but this one manuscript on the agenda. No meetings. No class prep. No distractions. Or so I thought ...

A while ago I wrote about the importance of my writing totems. There are certain things that just make it easier for me to write and also let me really enjoy writing. One of the keys is the pen. The writing pen must be a medium, black, gel, rollerball with a rubber grip. After using up two pens this morning, I pulled out a brand new package of pens. They look like the right pens, but alas ... they are ultra fine. Ugh! They don't write in the same smooth way as my medium pens; instead they are hard and scratchy. I have still managed to write a lot today -- and have more to do yet -- but I feel so off kilter by something so seemingly trivial.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

This Is a Lot of Work ...

for a little nipple action:


Really, people, get a grip!