April 29, 2008
Matchmaker, Matchmaker Make Me a Match...
Today, folks, I had a revelation of grand proportions. I have seen the light and discovered my life purpose... I am a kick-ass matchmaker.

That's right folks, my main reason for being on this here blue and green marble hurdling through space is to bring lovelorn birds of a feather together in bliss and happiness.

It goes something like this.

One of my favorite students last semester, we'll call him J, is this shy quiet kid with a wicked sense of humor. He's the kind of guy that if you didn't have a little brother, you'd want to adopt him just because. I told a group of my more out going female students that they needed to make friends with J because, quite honestly, he needed friends to bring him out of his shell. And he's totally one of those guys that I could picture being all protective and walk them home from the bar and what not.


One of the girls, we'll call her D, took me at my word. D's a really sweet girl--a bit of a drama queen but one of those genuinely nice people. So, she just walked up to J at the library one day, introduced herself, and proceeded to make friends.

That was Term II... fast forward to now.

D stays after class one day and asks if she can talk to me. Now, D had written this piece that made me worry about her a tiny--that she might be a little darker than she let on. After quickly assuring me she wasn't, she tells me she has boy problems.

Now, at this time I'm furiously juggling hats. Do I answer this girl's questions as an instructor, friend, sister...?

At first she tells me that she's having boy problems, that a boy I know likes her. She pauses. It occurs to me that it is J, and that perhaps he likes her and D, having a boyfriend and all, does not reciprocate.

She assures me that this is not the case. She reciprocates. She can't tell any of her friends though, because they already disapprove of the friendship based on the fact that D has a boyfriend.

Silently, by the way, I'm cheering for J because he's finally found a girl that is interested in him. I'm also imagining myself smacking him on the forehead as he's found a girl that, despite her growing fondness, is otherwise unavailable.

To make a long story short, I put on my sister/friend hat and tell D that she has to follow her heart, not to cheat, and to be honest--is she crushing on J because the boyfriend is far away and she likes having someone interested in her, or is she really truly falling for J? She tells me that I've confirmed what she's been feeling and not to worry as she is not rushing into anything. She's going to wait and see if she still feels this way after a week and talking to the boyfriend.

A week goes by and she informs me that not only has she broken up with the boyfriend, but that she is going fishing with J. She's never been fishing. She tells me that she's happier than she's been in a long time and not to worry, she's taking it slow. She hasn't even kissed him yet.

She proceeds to tell me that I'm to blame for this, that J and her discussed my blame extensively. I tell her that she can thank me by inviting me to their wedding.

Truthfully, I'm a little envious of this budding relationship. I mean, I'm very excited for them but I miss that feeling they have right now--being all excited just to spend time with someone, to hold their hand, that weird queasy fluttery feeling in the stomache. I'm glad I had a hand in pushing these two together--however slight a hand it may be--but can't help but wonder WTF, man?! Why the hell can't I make my OWN love life as sweetly, innocently exciting as this?

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posted by Tina at 3:50 PM
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April 19, 2008
More Old Lady Sports
Project First Sweater is coming along just dandy. I'm using Cascade 220 Wool in this medium charcoal gray:

The project itself, after some intense knitting yesterday, is about 7 inches long. Which isn't a lot. But, as this is my first non-scarf, non fingerless mitt project (and because I spent an obscene amount on the yarn... ok, not obscene but more than I'm used to), I'll be damned if this doesn't turn out wearable. By me or anyone else.


posted by Tina at 9:46 AM
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April 15, 2008
Old Lady Sports

Am casting this on a pair of stixs tomorrow. Am hoping it will turn out ok and be wearable. We'll see!

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posted by Tina at 12:49 AM
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Random Blogging Babble...
So... I'm still debating if I want to switch my platform and update the look of my blog. I feel like I need to do something more POW! BOOM! BANG! with it and am just tapped out in terms of fresh ideas. I feel like this blog has gotten away from the fun and sometimes funny slice of life chatter that it may have once been. Its starting to feel both old and juvenile at the same time. And I'm not sure how to fix that. I suppose if I started to post regularily...?

In other blog related news, I'm exploring other platforms from which to launch. I'm not sure if Blogger is cutting it anymore. Though, truthfully, I haven't looked at the new Blogger... does that make me behind the 8-ball?

I need to learn better HTML and get a better computer with fancier programs. (sigh)

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posted by Tina at 12:45 AM
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April 08, 2008
Need a Better Blog?
So... I'm thinking I need to update this puppy. Maybe if I updated, I would write more frequently. And maybe if I wrote more frequently, I'd have more readers. Maybe I need schtick, you know, something all catchy and cool to blog about on a daily basis. Maybe I need to stop being a whiney b*tch so much?

So... dear reader(s), if you have any suggestions for a better platform, better technique, better anything, can you give me a shout?


P.S. I'm serious. Really, really serious. I'd like to get this thing out there more...

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posted by Tina at 3:41 PM
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April 07, 2008
You Can't See It... But I'm Making My "RAR!" Face
Ah yes... the snow has melted, the squirrles have come out of hibernation, and the sounds of agonized college instructors from a certain college calculating their grades proir to them being signed-off on by their craptacular boss fill the air.

That's right folks, its end of Term II and I am rage filled. Why, you ask? Here's a snippet from the email exchange I engaged in with my boss. You'll note, it starts with a simple question:

Me: I understand that you want us to have the portfolios that need to be signed off on to you today. However, here's my quick question. What if a portfolio, based on a rough estimate of grades, is an A- BUT participation and their final grade bump them up to an A, or, conversely, down from an A to an A-?

Boss Man: What you're describing sounds like an A-. (Unanswered Question #1)

Me: And I understand that. My question is, what happens if those grades, which are NOT included in the portfolio grade, bump the student's grade up from an A- to an A? Do I need to re-submit to you, or make a case to you, or something along those lines? (Notice, I have just asked THE SAME QUESTION...)

Boss Man: Make a case based on accomplishment rather than improvement. The average number of As per section so far is 1.7. (Notice how adroitly this man has managed NOT to answer my question. Rather than provide a straight answer, he attempts to blind me with lame-o statistics...)

Pause: Dear reader(s), what you need to understand is that the college I work at has this thing with grade inflation. They don't want it to happen. So rather than letting the chips fall where they may, they cook the f*cking books. They put a cap on how many As may be give in a term, and have instituted this new policy where we have to send our boss our A grades in a ranked order so that he may cut the bottom two.

Me: How are you differentiating between "accomplishment' and "improvement,' as those are two very ambiguous words. To me, its a pretty big accomplishment if a student has re-written and revised a paper four or five times to the point where they no longer focus on a summary of texts, but rather argument. This additionally shows improvement as they have improved their academic writing skills from reportage to argument. See what I mean? (You'll note that at this point, I've changed tactics. I'm asking for clarification still, but I'm focusing on words that can be interpreted many different ways...)

Boss Man: If the final result is an A portfolio with no halo effect, then the grade is an earned A. (Go ahead and ask... cause I did... What the HELL is a "halo effect?")

Me: What do mean by "halo effect"? I apologize for the deluge of questions, I just want to make sure that I'm doing right by my students.

Boss Man: Yes, I do understand; but you also must make sure they meet the standards of the Program. I have the same problem every term. (Notice: UNASWERED QUESTION #3... WTF, dude!)

Me: (highly irate by this time... as I've yet to get a straight answer) they do meet the standards. I'm not willy nilly handing out letter grades. I've kept very diligent records of all required elements that this course contains. These are not students who, out of the kindness of my heart, I want to gift an A to. Rather, these are students who, when the accounting is completed (and I've run a few different scenarios) are potentially bumped up from an A- to an A based on the merit of their participation (which is almost equal to the portfolio grade as it is 40% of the final grade). We're talking students who have done every single one of the 27 homework assignments I gave them, haven't missed a single class, scored an A on their presentations, and have diligently revised and reworked all essays, even if the essay already earned an A- or A. These are students who's preliminary portfolio grades add up more than a 1.8 , which when you add that with a possible 2.0 on the remaining grading requirements (participation and a final) they score a higher than an 3.8 overall.

These are contentious, hardworking students who have excelled within the writing program for the simple reason that they consistently make the most effort to improve their writing skills so that they are accomplishing the goals set before them by their instructor and, subsequently, the writing program. This is why, for me, those two words accomplishment and improvement are ambiguous as a select few students have improved to the point that their resulting improvements are accomplishments in themselves.

So when I say I'm trying to do right by my students, do not think that this is an easy task. I've already dumped from A consideration, without remorse, an additional 3 students who received high A- but not high enough (i.e. a 1.7-1.8 combined portfolio grade).

And I'm still unsure what you mean by "halo effect."

Pause: At this point, my boss switches tactics. I'm pretty certain the next email he sent me, under the heading of "Standards," was BCCed to all sorts of grand and powerful people. Take a gander... you'll note that he changes to the use of my full name and pretty much says I'm sh*t walking the earth.

Boss Man: Christina,The short answer is four As in Term I put you on the radar screen with the powers. History shows that three As per lecturer is the average for Term II. Dr. Coleman and I invented averaging the draft grades two years ago to help lecturers prevent grade inflation. If you average the grades for just the 10-pager, I bet you will avoid grade inflation neatly.

And finally... me. Again. And BTW--NOBODY GAVE THEM GRADES ON THE 10-PAGER. We gave what is commonly known as ghost grades so as to motivate the slackers to complete the assignment. Also... who averages grades on drafts, I ask you? NO ONE would ever get an A. And I bet you $10 my boss doesn't do it...

Me: (after slyly hitting REPLY ALL so it goes to The Powers as well as Bossman) This last email has confused me. At the beginning of this term, you informed me that I was one of two new instructors that graded as the department and the college wished us to grade, and thus did not "give away the store" as some of the other instructors did. I was under the assumption, based on the praise that you verbally gave me, that my grading was actually quite rigorous. Was this an inaccurate assumption to make, as it appears that the four As I awarded my Term I students were in fact something that has brought me under scrutiny?

I do not feel as though I am engaging in grade inflation. Rather, I was attempting to raise some, what I viewed, as pertinent questions regarding the grading of ALL elements for this class. I believe for next year the percentages awarded to various categories need to be looked at and evaluated. 40% of their grade is based on participation--if a B+ or A- student (for arguments sake) turns in all the homework, does not miss a single class, gives a really solid presentation, etc., there is a possibility that this participation grade can drive their overall grade up to an A. Like wise, the opposite is possible: a student who has an A portfolio could be a student who's missed a number of class, presented badly, and missed a handful of homeworks. The 40%, if a "bad" grade, can drive the grade down from an A to B+ or lower.

My emails were not intended to incite any sort of verbal sparring. Rather, I was seeking some understanding of how you were going to be evaluating my students portfolio vis-à-vis the grading of the remaining elements (participation and the final). Additionally, all I requested was further clarification of terms and ideas that can, very plausibly, be interpreted differently by individuals.

If this is something that I need to be evaluated or coached on by "the powers," then I am open to that criticism, as it may be helpful to my continuing development as an instructor.

Heh. Lets see what happens. I'm emailing all my A students a congratulatory note anyways so if they don't get the A... they can sick mommy and daddy on the spineless wonder that is Bossman.

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posted by Tina at 6:07 PM
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