onefixedstar: (academic)
Winter is slowly returning here, after the unseasonably warm weather we returned to last week. We got a little snow on Sunday, and a little more yesterday--enough to lightly coat the ground, but not enough to create huge piles of snow and slush to wade through. The perfect amount, in other words. January and February are always the time when I really feel the length of winter; there's nothing to do but hunker down against the cold and endure. But it's not too bad right now.

I decided to take on a second TA job this term. I got through last term on just one, but only because I had savings from the previous year, and those are pretty well depleted. The new job is for a Soc of Work course, which is an area I've never studied. I'll have to do a bit of catching up, but hopefully it will be interesting. I've been asked to attend class since I don't know the field, but that will have to wait another week as this week and next, I'm guest lecturing a course on the mass media at the Scarborough campus. That particular course has proven to be a bit of a bad luck course--the original instructor went on sick leave at the beginning of the term, and the replacement instructor had to head home to Europe because of a death in the family. Happily, my only bad luck has been not being able to show my slides during the first lecture because I couldn't get the key to open the computer cabinet. (Happily, I don't believe in bad luck, and I do believe in coincidence.)

I may also have some RA work coming my way this term; it doesn't pay as well as TA work, but the experience can be useful. I may get a chance to edit a book coming from conference proceedings, but that isn't certain yet. I may also get to help with another book, though nothing that would get my name on it. It will be a bit more of a challenge to carve out space to work on my dissertation and my own publications, but maybe being busy will force me to be more efficient, something I usually only accomplish in short spurts, right before deadlines.
onefixedstar: (academic)
One of the best features of my (slowly going obsolete) laptop is its amazing wireless reception. I can get reception in places where no one else can. Like the TA room in my department, for example. Or the basement seminar room where I'm currently sitting, invigilating a make-up exam and figuring out the distribution of grades in the course.

Of course, amazing wireless reception can quickly become a liability when one is trying to do boring work, and is prone to aimlessly surfing when bored. Fortunately, I like playing with numbers, so I'm not too bored...yet.

Lap cat

Apr. 4th, 2007 03:29 am
onefixedstar: (cherry blossoms)
The cat was left alone for most of the weekend, as I was at my boyfriend's and my roommate was visiting her sister. Wow, is she making me pay for it! Roommate's not back yet, so it's just me and the cat. Every waking moment for the past two days that hasn't been spent paying attention to to the cat has been spent with her trying to get my attention. Usually by knocking things over and generally being a pest. I've picked up more garbage cans over the past two days than I care to think about. I like having a people-oriented cat, but gah. Oh well, at least she's been letting me sleep in the morning.

And what am I doing up so late, you ask? Marking papers, of course. I really don't think this batch of papers are as good as last year's, but that may be my memory playing tricks on me. Nonetheless, I wish someone would explain to these students the difference between a topic and an argument.
onefixedstar: (academic)
It looks like I'll be teaching tutorials again this summer. That's fine; it pays the bills and it means my TA hours will be spread out instead of all concentrated at the end. Marking would have had the advantage of not tying me here all summer...but at this point it doesn't look like I'm going anywhere anyway. The only big trip I was considering was Italy, and B has decided not to attend that conference after all, so that's already out. I would like to drive to Ottawa with B and his family next month, but I can live with it if the timing doesn't work out. So now my only concern is not letting tutorial preparation take over my life, as it's done in the past. (In the past I've found that the students tend to show up ill-prepared and without their books, which has lead me to over-prepare so that I'm not left with nothing to say when the students can't contribute. But there's also a strong element of procrastination involved there too, and that's what I need to avoid this time.)

On a completely unrelated note, my ceiling seems to be leaking again. I've called the landlords; I'll see what they do.
onefixedstar: (academic)
27 essays down, 40 to go. Well, in theory, if you look at the class list. If I count the ones I actually have in my possesion, there are only 29 left. These essays were due six days ago, with a penalty of 10% per day (excluding weekends). Admittedly, there were a couple of extensions granted for illness, and I haven't checked the assignment box since late Thursday, but...there are either a lot of people who dropped the course recently, or a lot of people who are going to do very badly on this paper.

Oh--last night's chicken turned out wonderfully. I used the brown at high temperature, then cook at moderate temperature method and stuffed the cavity full of lemon and onions and garlic and fresh rosemary. And put butter seasoned with garlic and rosemary and sage under the skin, and a bit of olive oil on the skin to help with the browning. Not healthy, but very tasty. The gravy, sadly, did not turn out so well, so my goal for next time will be to work on that. And test the slow roast method. In the meantime, B's fridge is full of rich gold chicken stock, and I'll be heading back there later this week for some homemade chicken noodle soup.
onefixedstar: (mystery)
Essay marking proceeds apace, with a few good papers, and a lot of papers demonstrating that students don't know how to properly cite material. The maximum length for the papers was 20 pages, double spaced, and I think that's probably too much for an undergraduate course. My guess is that only one-third of the students actually hit 20 pages, and many of those are stuffed with extraneous material. However, since I'm but the lowly TA, I don't get to determine the assignment parameters, and so it doesn't really matter what I think.

Much more exciting for me is the chicken we bought yesterday to roast today. I've been reading through roasting recipes in between essay marking, and now I want at least three or four chickens to roast so that I can experiment with different methods. First, there's the question of whether brining really makes the difference in moistness that some people claim. (Since I haven't started it yet, I won't be doing that this time.) Then there's the heat question--how high do I go? Start really high for really crispy skin, and then lower it down to 350 or so to cook the meat? Cover the breast at the beginning so that the meat stays moist, and then brown the skin at the end? Cook the chicken entirely on low heat for a very long time, as this recipe suggests? (Look at those reviews; there must be something to it!) And of course, there are seasonings to consider. Rosemary, garlic, onion, and lemon is popular. (Possibly with a bit of thyme or sage.) But then there's the spice mix in that other recipe. And probably many more possibilities if I were to look around. Oh, the choices!

Roast chicken! Chicken soup! Chicken fajitas! Chicken enchiladas! Chicken salad sandwiches! Yum, yum, yum.
onefixedstar: (academic)
I was invigilating a first year exam today. It was in one of those lecture halls that have tightly packed seats with little pull up desks, and so we made the students leave their bags at the front of the room. We ran into problems when two students protested that they didn't want to leave their laptops at the front of the room. Eventually they did, and we promised to keep an eye on them, and nothing bad happened. But I can see this becoming an increasing problem as more and more students bring laptops to school, and I'm not sure what to do about it.
onefixedstar: (academic)
While prepping for my Soc 101 tutorial, I noticed that the author of the first reading in the supplementary reader seems to have a rather strongly negative attitude towards qualitative research. "Okay," I thought, "this isn't the attitude I'd present to first year students, but I'm sure future articles will balance it out." I'm still waiting for that future article. The rest of the articles have all taken one of two positions: they ignore qualitative research, or they talk about it as a good preliminary technique that's useful for identifying the variables you're going to study once you get down to the serious, quantitative work. So far, there's not a single article that treats qualitative research as a legitimate enterprise unto itself. I'm disappointed, but not terribly surprised. The qualitative-quantitative divide remains a major one in sociology, driving otherwise reasonable people to do completely idiotic things like quit their job upon the passage of a proposal that enabled Ph.D. students to include a qualitative section on their methodology comprehensives. At this year's Annual Meeting of the Canadian Sociology and Anthropology Association, the discussant for the "Future of Anglo-Canadian Sociology" suggested that the meeting really ought to divide the panels by paradigm rather than substantive topic, on the grounds, one imagines, that people would be more likely to attend panels if they knew they wouldn't be subjected to a conflicting ontological position. My current school falls even more heavily on the quant side of the spectrum that my previous school (the one from which those foolish faculty departed so as not to have to bear graduating doctoral students with a knowledge of both qual and quant), and so I suppose it's only to be expected that the textbooks we use would parrot that message.

Up with numbers, down with Verstehen!

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