Sunday, September 30, 2007

Soul Crushers on Campus

I've written before about the soul crushing document that I helped write. The full document, our NEASC reaccreditation self-study, is available here. I was the main author for standard four.

Well, this is the big week: our visiting team is here to check us out. Tomorrow morning I spend an hour with this guy discussing the soul crushing document. Although the document is indeed soul crushing, I'm actually looking forward to the discussion. I think the visit could be a good opportunity to get some honest feedback about some of COA's strengths and weaknesses.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Rainbow Benefits

This week we needed to re-enroll for health benefits. Our plan is the same as last year, so this was pretty straightforward--we just had to copy over our information from last year's form. There was one interesting twist, however: Doreen's enrollment form was printed on some sort of rainbow stationary. It was a slightly thicker than usual piece of paper with a large pastel rainbow scene printed on the top half of the paper. Why did Doreen get this special rainbow form? My form was just on a regular piece of white paper. Was someone sending a message to Doreen? It is very, very difficult to imagine that our business office has rainbow stationary. Could it be that somebody else had left rainbow stationary in the photocopier? Also difficult to imagine, but this seems more plausible than rainbows coming from the business office.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Career Choices

Inspired by New Kid on the Hallway, I took a career quiz on Below are the forty careers that are supposedly best suited to my interests and likes.

Too bad that Professor is the 39th best career for me. And what's Horse Trainer doing at #5? Perhaps horse training is similar to academic administration? I also don't think I'd make a very good Butcher (#29), as I haven't eaten meat for 19 years.

  1. Food Scientist
  2. Hydrologist / Hydrogeologist
  3. Agronomist
  4. Computer Trainer
  5. Horse Trainer
  6. Personal Trainer
  7. Cook
  8. Oceanographer
  9. Mathematician
  10. Pharmacologist
  11. Actuary
  12. Database Developer
  13. Pharmacy Technician
  14. Web Developer
  15. Pharmacist
  16. Foreign Language Instructor
  17. ESL Teacher
  18. Music Teacher / Instructor
  19. Meteorologist
  20. Computer Programmer
  21. Business Systems Analyst
  22. Special Education Teacher
  23. Physical Education Teacher
  24. Medical Lab Tech
  25. Geologist
  26. Video Game Developer
  27. Forensics Specialist
  28. Elementary School Teacher
  29. Butcher
  30. High School Teacher
  31. Teacher Assistant
  32. School Counselor
  33. Microbiologist
  34. Environmental Consultant
  35. Paleontologist
  36. Early Childhood Educator
  37. Diving Instructor
  38. Career Counselor
  39. Professor
  40. Nanny

Friday, September 14, 2007

One down, twenty-nine to go

It is the end of the first full week of classes of fall term. The week was much busier than I had expected, but mostly in a good way. I spent lots of time preparing for class and teaching and working with students, which is almost always fun. The first batch of homework assignments roll in today, however, so soon I will be back on the grading treadmill. Grading, while necessary, is surely the least fun aspect of teaching.

Despite not serving as an associate dean this year, I still got almost 100 emails a day this week. But nevertheless it seemed almost managable. I managed to exercise twice this week—Tuesday and Thursday evening—which was good. Last year I was lucky to find time to exercise once during the week. Hopefully I'll be able to continue throughout the term.

I'm currently in my office but soon will head to the Bar Harbor airport where Doreen is arriving after around two weeks away in Amsterdam and Washington DC. I think she'll be home for a few weeks and then away for around three weeks in October. She didn't mention where she'll be going. (Or maybe she told me and I forgot.) My guess is Mexico.

The weather here has been nice. I really like fall in Maine. This morning was crisp, but the hummingbirds are still around, fighting and gorging themselves at our feeders. I suspect that they'll leave within a week or two, not to return until late May. So each glimpse of a hummingbird is especially noteworthy, since it might be my last for over half a year.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


Today I finally started to get back in gear for the school year. I'm not there yet, but I'm getting there. It started in the morning. I was listening to Tiesto's In Search of Sunrise 5: Los Angeles on the way to school trying to get psyched for the day. It's one of the new CDs I bought in China and has been providing much inspiration lately. I was in the midst of JES's People Will Go and I spilled coffee on my pants. Then, as I was cleaning up the coffee (while still driving and listening to Tiesto) I spilled more coffee on my pants. Excellent. The good news is that I was wearing coffee-colored pants. Definitely in mid-season form.

Yesterday I gave a talk to incoming students. I think the talk went well, but I didn't really get to meet any of them; I just spoke to s room of around 100 students and then went on my way. But today I spent a bunch of time meeting new advisees and talking with lots of new students one-on-one about their course choices. It was fun and energizing to meet them and talk about thier past math experiences and their hopes for the future. It's a cliche, but it was a clear reminder of why I teach and why I teach at COA.

So today has been a good day. I'm still feeling behind in getting ready for the term, and I'm still just slightly in shock at being back in the US and back at COA. But I think I've turned the corner and am close to being psychologically ready for the new term.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Back in Maine

I am back in Maine and here to stay. I don't think I have any plans to travel until Thanksgiving. Doreen and I returned from Pennsylvania late Monday, a little less than a week ago. The trip was exhausting, but it was a good thing to have gone. I returned with a strange sinus cold or infection or something. Perhaps it's Pennsylvaniaitis. My sinus under my eye hurt, but only on the right side, and my right ear also hurt, and I generally felt sub-optimal. I was never super sick, but I was annoyingly not at full strength.

Anyway, I spent the week doing housework and errands and trying to deny that the school year is about to start and I have tons of work to do. In many ways it's been an excellent summer. But it ended quite abruptly. I was away from home and on the move from late June until around a week ago. It's been a bit of a whirlwind. All of a sudden it's over and it's time to unpack, settle in, and get ready for fall term.

So last week I was in a bit of a daze, not only because of Pennsylvaniaitis, but also because I just needed some time to readjust to life in Maine and get mentally ready for the new academic year. The weather has been absolutely beautiful, which hasn't made it any easier to focus on work. I did some work work, but mostly I did laundry andyardwork and cooked a lot. Friday Doreen and I went for a short kayak near our house, and I've also been on two short runs. It feels good to be getting exercise again. I hope I can keep it up during the school year.

Although classes don't start until Thursday, tomorrow is in many ways the first official day of school for me. I'm giving a welcome talk to entering students tomorrow at 1:00. It'll basically be the same talk I've given the last few years. Students seem to like it, so I figure there's no need to change it too much. I'll spend the rest of the day getting ready for classes, preparing handouts, and catching up oncorrespondence. I've done some prep for Linear Algebra, but there's still lots to do for my other classes.