Storm warning

Every two weeks the Interpersonal Communication professors and graduate students gather for a reading group, in which we review each other’s work to help facilitate submissions to conferences and journals.

Reading group was cancelled tonight due to inclement weather conditions. Inclement weather conditions in IOWA.

Oh shit. This must be serious.

I immediately got online to check the weather conditions and local friends’ Facebook statuses, and found this warning:

I then decided it would be prudent to stop by the store on the way home and stock up on water and vittles, just in case I get snowed (or iced) in.

And I figured I better heed the above warning, so I bought a bottle of Baileys.

So I think I’m ready.

Kerosene heater: Check
Flashlights: Check
Candles: Check
Water: Check
Food that can easily be warmed on the kerosene heater: Check
Electronic items charged: Check

 

Alright midwest, bring it on!

And by “bring it on”, I mean snow like hell so the university will close for a day.

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Midwest hospitality

A friend, who I will appropriately refer to as IronWoman, took these pictures recently. They are just too charming not to share.

I realized that I forgot to mention what a fun time I had with my sister and her husband, who visited a few weeks ago.

But tonight, when I stopped by the grocery store and a man in the truck parked next to me offered to take my cart to the return area, I was reminded of something that happened during their stay.

We didn’t do anything very eventful that week but had a good time watching movies, cooking, and walking down to the pond in the back. The pond is frozen over, like REALLY frozen, so you can walk on it. Anna, as she attempted to slide across the snow-covered pond and do turns like a ballerina, said she always wished she had grown up somewhere where you could go ice skating on the lakes. I remember the lakes freezing over in central Washington, so I’m fairly certain the whole “community comes out to skate, or fish, or play hockey on a pond” thing must be a regional phenomenon. And I’m fairly certain the whole “drink whiskey and clock each other’s snowmobile speed across the lake with a radar gun” is also a regional phenomenon, along with the “tow a sleigh behind a snowmobile to camp on top of a mountain in the snow” thing. But that is another story for another day.

During her visit, my sister discovered another regional phenomenon.

When we came out of the Food Co-op, Anna looked at us and asked us if she had something on her face.

“No”, we responded.

To which she asked, “then why was everyone smiling at me in there!?”

“Because you’re in the midwest!”

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Idiocracy

As usual, this semester started off with daunting reading lists and syllabi that were quickly followed by anxiety and self-loathing. If there is anything comforting about this dysfunctional and completely imbalanced lifestyle, it is that we (my peers and I) are in it together. Nonetheless, it is easy to feel stupid and intimidated. For example:

“We have also obtained modest facilitations of play with peripheral injections of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor antagonist mecamylamine (Panksepp, et al., 1984) and with intracerebral neurotensin and thyrotropin release hormone (Panksepp, 1998)” (Panksepp, 2008, p. 57).

Welcome to my world.

It should come as no surprise, then, that this is my worst nightmare (although instead of toddling on stage like a trained poodle, I am sitting in front of 9-12 brilliant people in a graduate seminar)-

While it’s still possible my advisor will have the same response to something I write, Ms. Teen South Carolina reminds us of two very important points:

1) I could be profoundly more dumb than I generally feel.

2) When I graduate with a PhD in 2014, there will still be a dire need for Professors of Communication.

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Wedding invitation

Today we received the invitation to the wedding we’re attending in Tokyo!

The wedding is being held at the International House of Japan.

http://www.i-house.or.jp/bridal/index.html

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To do list

With Sim away, my “to do” list has grown significantly.

Kill spiders
Shovel snow
Bath and brush dogs
Change flood lights outside
Fix squeaky things with WD40
Lift heavy stuff around the house
Check fluids & tire pressure of Jeep
Pick up dog poop everyday and dispense to side yard poop pile
Cook bones (free from the butcher shop) in oven every 2 weeks
Clip dogs nails (I usually rub their bellies while he clips, so this task has just become increasingly difficult for me + unpleasant for them)
Figure out how to re-attach the handle on the oven door when it suddenly falls off while something is baking inside + anything else requiring the use of my Ikea tool kit

It seems like the list grows every day with tasks that would have otherwise gone unnoticed. The challenge isn’t the tasks per se, but balancing them with graduate classes and teaching commitments. So like last semester, the blogs updates will likely be few and far between.

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Ouch

This semester I am teaching 4 discussion sections of Communication Theory in Everyday Life. The other 8 sections are taught by two colleagues, and the large lecture is provided by our Professor. It’s been a long time since I’ve taught anything besides a stand-alone class (where you teach/manage everything yourself). I’m excited for the change and the subject of class, but forgot how challenging it is to have over 90 students in 4 classes (which are back to back on one day).

The title of this entry doesn’t refer to my teaching load, however, it refers to the day and time of the final exam.

During the first large lecture, our Professor had the task of notifying students of the final exam day and time. He began by prefacing that final exams are scheduled by the Registrar’s Office and are unmovable, and that students MUST attend the final exam.

My colleagues and I knew what was coming. He was about to drop the bomb.

We sat there, feeling sorry for these incredibly unlucky souls. But what was about to be uttered was so horrible that it was funny in a sort of sick and vindictive way. So I sat there, trying not to laugh nervously at what was about to be unveiled.

“The final exam will be on Friday of finals week, at 7:00 PM”

You can imagine the horrible sounds that followed. Undergraduates’ worlds were suddenly turned upside down. This class had somehow managed to receive the absolute WORST final exam day and time.

For those students who will someday become parents and see their children attend college, I can only imagine the empathy they will have.

“You think YOU have it tough!? When I was your age, we walked to class when it was -18 degrees outside and took a final exam on FRIDAY NIGHT of finals week!”

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Lessons learned

Tonight I left campus when it was -18 degrees with the wind chill. That means it was 50 degrees below the freezing level.

So naturally I had to venture outside a cruel and unusual number of times since I was on campus from 9:30-6:30 and had a variety of commitments throughout the day.

Hard lessons learned today:

1) Don’t leave food in your car for after class, thinking it will be a nice snack on the way home. It will be FROZEN, dumbass.

2) Little Hotties hand warmers do NOT work in emergency situations. They take 20 minutes to warm up, so you’ll have to open and shake them in the middle of a class for them to be of any value 20 minutes later.

3) Invest in a heated steering wheel cover, for god’s sake. Mittens can only do you so good.

4) Upon arriving home, do these things in quick succession: Crank up heat. Pre-heat oven. Put water on stove for hot tea. Run hot bath. Put space heater in bathroom to make it extra toasty. Throw leftovers in oven. Make tea. Retreat to bathtub.

The only good of this day was that I got to put the wonderful scarf my sister knitted me to the true test. Anna made me a black and gold (Hawkeye) scarf that contains two layers of wool. She actually calculated the *exact* number of stitches it took. Although I can’t remember the precise number, I know it was in the tens of thousands. In addition to being incredibly thick, it is also nice and wide (yes, I know what Michael Scott would say in response to that), so I can pull it up over my face to my eyes. And on top of it, she made me matching mittens!

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