January 2010 Archives

Plan A: Make a Plan

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The new semester is about to start, and I am ready. More or less.

I tend to be among the first to order text books, prepare course packages, and submit course outlines. I respect deadlines. I like to know that the "big" prep is taken care of, and that I won't be frantically making copies ten minutes before class begins, or trying to find texts to work with for two weeks while the bookstore tries to track down my last-minute order.

(All of this is notwithstanding unforeseen and uncontrollable issues, such as being assigned courses after the deadline to submit orders, or publishers who discontinue a text but don't inform their customers, or unscheduled machine maintenance at the printshop that takes two weeks... all of which I have experienced firsthand.)

I also spend about a day planning the schedule of major assignments for each course, from which I reverse engineer the reading schedule, and then the quiz schedule, and so forth. This is actually one of my favourite parts to getting ready for the term - I can see the whole semester, planned and precise, and I feel ready. I know where we're going to be by the end, and the path to get there is clear.

Here's where the "more or less" comes in...

It's usually right after I plot the semester, and have that little glow of readiness, that panic sets in - what did I forget? Is there a ped day/holiday/scheduling glitch that I have overlooked? Is there some personal commitment that I have now scheduled a heavy correcting load on top of? Have I scheduled too much? Not enough?

The next wave of panic comes along about then, when I try to figure out how to cope with the first two or three classes (I am convinced I have written about that minefield already, but I cannot find the entry...) and stay on schedule, as opposed to doing next to nothing for a week and a half and then playing catch-up for the next fourteen weeks.

And, as usual, the final wave of panic - how to keep the semester on track despite all the other things I'm trying to juggle? Things are winding down with one project, but I'm submitting my research proposal today for my M.Ed., which means (fingers crossed) collecting and analysing data this semester, and then there's the Liberal Arts curriculum project - I love this project, but so far it keeps getting pushed back onto that back burner by things like cegep a distance and major school change. This semester, though, it has to be front and center.

I'm ready... more or less.

How making a spectacle of yourself pays off

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I've said it before, I will say it again - the Internet is a wonderful thing.

One of my recent net gains (get it?) is the wealth of long-lost friends I've reconnected with through Facebook. I resisted social networking sites for a long time, primarily because all the invitations I got came from students. While I love my job, and most of my students, I don't really think I - or they - will benefit from seeing their celphotos of the bathroom floor of some downtown club with lax doormen.

But then one shiny morning I got an invitation from a long-lost friend. A grown-up. So I bit the bullet and signed up for Facebook.

Lo and behold - this is where they're keeping everybody! It's like Toronto, but on-line. Everyone's there. I have reconnected with high school friends; coming from some one who steadfastly ignored all the 20-year reunion hoopla because "anyone I want to see I see pretty regularly, thank you," this is a big deal. I had forgotten how many great people I went to school with, and I am glad to find them again.

I have also rediscovered friends from my bachelorette days - former roommates, university and college buddies, and theatre cronies. Once upon a time these people were part of my daily life, and it's kind of a shock to realize how easily we lose those people. It's nice to know that it's just as easy to find them again.

One of these is my dear friend Lisa. She and I were once thrown together in a host of theatrical affairs, but once I stopped working in theatre, we lost touch. Now we're back in touch, and all of this semi-coherent babbling has been a lead up to a plug for her new blog, Blob 2 Babe. In her own words:

I eat because it's tasty!! I'm a Taurus, a sensualist by nature. I wanna see, hear, touch and smell stuff and if I like it, I'll taste it! (For all of you that don't think food makes noise - ladies and gentleman, I give you SIZZLING BACON. I rest my case...).

My problem is sheer inertia. This body has not moved too much in two years, so really what did I expect?

But it's that moment, and we've all had it, when we realize that the mirror we're looking into isn't at the carnival. It's an average mirror and this is what we look like.

Yikes! Eep! Yow! And finally, WTF?!?!?

So I've decided to take control and embark on a sane, no-nonsence, slow and systematic course of action. Good old fashioned excercise; cardio, weights, and some yoga thrown in but mainly for the cute clothes. I do not relish the prospect but if I have folks cheering (or jeering) me on, I think I might manifest my destiny of babe-dom.

Not only do I think that Lisa is a good, fun, upbeat writer, I can relate to her objectives, and I believe in the power of going public. After all, 2153 days ago, I started publicly counting my days without smoking, and that seems to be going well.

So go read, enjoy, and cheer, please.

Just don't cast Redford in the title role

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Many years ago, before our kitchen was "done," we had no cupboard space, and I used the top of the fridge as a makeshift storage area. I kept two or three baskets on the fridge, filled with bags and boxes of spices, lentils, noodles, and the like.

One fine summer afternoon, the back door was open to allow the sun and fresh air to come in - and the wildlife, apparently. My friend and I walked into the kitchen to discover a squirrel perched on top of the fridge, reaching for a bag of walnuts.

He looked at me. I looked at him. I said "those are not yours. Put that down and move along."

And he did... my friend promptly dubbed me "Reasons with Squirrels" (a la 'Dances with Wolves').

Now I may have to trade that title in for 'Cat Whisperer.'

About a month ago, the Domestic Goddess rescued three kittens and their mother from under her neighbour's porch, and brought them to the Animal Health department at the college where we both work. The Animal Health people cleaned up the kittens and spayed the mother, then DG took the kittens to her mother's apartment as a temporary home.

The mother, according to the Animal Health experts, was feral and the best thing to do was to release her back into her territory, i.e., the neighbour's porch, since she'd never be tame enough to adapt to living as a pet. I offered to take her home and house her in our downstairs bathroom for a couple of days while she recuperated from the surgery.

So, hissing and spitting and yowling, she spent the first night in our bathroom. The next day, I found her curled up in the sink, and although she hissed at me, she didn't make any aggressive moves. I fed her, and left her alone. Two days later there was still some hissing, but there was also this:
calypso.jpg

Perhaps not so feral, after all?

Within days, I was leaving the bathroom door open and she was rubbing against my legs when I arrived with food. The next step was to open the laundry room door so she'd have access to the whole basement - and she quickly discovered the cat-friendly access to the large storage closet, and took up residence on one of our suitcases.

She's been here almost a month now, and we've gone from hissing and growling to purring and kneading. She's keenly aware that there's another cat in the house (although Heidi is either completely oblivious or completely secure in her position as Number One cat), so she's been very cautious about exploring upstairs, but I think it's safe to say that it's only a matter of time before she's sitting on Colin's homework and demanding water from Dr. T at 3 a.m.

Her name is Mehitabel. 2009-12-10%2014.30.26.jpg

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