Purposive Rambling

the journey is the reward.

Archive for February 2009

My Network of Facebook Friends

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I found out about about the ability to do this from orgtheory. If you have UCINET, you should try this out.

Here is my network of Facebook friends:

 FB network

I have only six isolates, or friends who aren’t connected to anyone else in my network. And I have four main clusters that correspond to my high school friends, my undergraduate school friends, my graduate school friends, and then family plus the hubs’ fraternity brothers.

The big green node is the hubs. He is connected to all four clusters. I am pretty sure, based on what I know from reality – not from analyzing this network – that he’s the only one connected to all four clusters. I could figure that out, but I’ve used this as a procrastination tool for long enough.


Written by Lisa

February 26, 2009 at 10:05 am

Midterm Evaluations

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I asked my students to complete a midterm evaluation this week. First of all, midterm?! We’re at midterm?! Eek! But, yes, it appears that we have reached that point in the semester. I’m pretty much freaking out about the amount of work that I need to get done and the lack of titina_feyNBCime available to do it. But, that’s not the point.

The point is, I wanted to get some sense of how the students were feeling about the course. Particularly, I wanted to know if there were any major problems that I need to address when we still have time to right the ship.

Luckily, there were no big surprises. The feedback was generally positive, and the suggestions they gave were ones I anticipated. Given the number of students suggesting the same things, though, I am considering making some adjustments to the course. I have preferences for the way I teach and the way that I organize the course and individual lectures. But we’re all in this together. It is a give and take, to some extent. I am willing to meet them halfway.

I did receive one unexpected comment, though. One student said I look like Tina Fey.

I’m not sure that I agree, except that we both have brown hair and glasses. I just hope that I am more reminiscent of the Liz Lemon version of Tina Fey than the Sarah Palin version.

Written by Lisa

February 26, 2009 at 9:09 am

The Wild Rose

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“The Wild Rose” is a poem written by Wendell Berry for his wife in 1986.

Sometimes hidden from me
in daily custom and in trust,
so that I live by you unaware
as the beating of my heart,
Suddenly you flare in my sight,
a wild rose blooming at the edge
of thicket, grace and light
where yesterday was only shade,
and once again I am blessed, choosing
again what I chose before.



I came across it in Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. She is reminded of the poem when thinking about her writing as a person who, “after all these years, still makes sense to me.”

The poem works for me too.

At a conference for aspiring academics on Friday, one of the speakers told us that we had chosen the greatest career. I wholeheartedly agree. But some days it’s easy to take that for granted. When I step back a bit I can see it, though. This is what I am passionate about, what I am good at, and the way that I can make a contribution to the world. I am blessed and I would not change my path if I had to do it over again.

Written by Lisa

February 21, 2009 at 8:25 pm

A Favorite Thing

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Sometimes being a commuter is great. Sometimes I get lost in a great audio book or music or my own thoughts. It’s nice to have some space and time to get ready for the day or to unwind from the day.

But sometimes being a commuter sucks. It can be a bother when I am overwhelmed by work and feel like I barely have time to even sleep or eat or shower.

Regardless of which kind of day I’m having, cruise control is a must. It is, in my opinion, one of the greatest inventions. I often forget how great it is. But then I get caught behind someone who either doesn’t have cruise control or isn’t using it, and it forces me to stop using it.

This is a huge pet peeve for me. I get so impatient when I am behind someone who can’t find a constant speed.

Written by Lisa

February 21, 2009 at 5:06 pm


with one comment

Today’s number is 10.

10 years have passed since the hubs and I shared our first kiss. I was fifteen years old! Talk about young love. It seems so odd to me now that I could have known what love was at fifteen. Fifteen sounds so young to me now.

But I knew that it was different somehow. It was special. He was special. Our connection was special. And it still is.

It has been an incredible 10 years. We are truly best friends. Truly partners. And that spark is still there. The butterflies are still there. The kisses don’t get old. Being with him doesn’t get old.

So one decade down, many more to come.

Happy Kiss Day!

Written by Lisa

February 19, 2009 at 10:35 am

Test Anxiety (from the other side of the desk)

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Last Tuesday I gave my first exam. I’ve proctored plenty for others, but this was the first time giving an exam that I wrote. I put a lot of time into writing the questions and thinking about what I expected from the students. But I was not ready emotionally for it. In fact, I didn’t even think about the fact that I might have emotions about the exam.

After I handed it out to the students and they got started I realized that they were really stressed about it. They had a lot of pained expressions on their faces. I started to get anxious. As more time passed, I got more and more anxious. It was partly on their behalf, but not totally.

I expected at least a few students to finish the exam very quickly. It seems that there are always a few who blast through it. But they didn’t. The first student to finish did so about halfway through our class meeting. I had a moment of relief thinking he would start a chain of students finishing. But, no. Most others didn’t finish until there were only about ten or fifteen minutes left. When I said “time’s up” there were still about ten students in their chairs.

So this whole time I’m worrying about them not finishing and how I’ll handle that. I’m worrying about whether it’s too difficult and what they’ll think about it. And will they judge the entire course according to this exam? Will they judge my performance as an instructor according to this exam?

It was just a little too much to deal with. It was so unexpected.

The good news is that they did finish, and generally, they did very well. In hindsight, then, I think I succeeded in making the exam challenging but not impossible. And I am glad that they took it seriously and did not rush through it. They did report feeling like it was more difficult than they expected and that they felt a little rushed. So the next time around I might tweak things a bit, but I’m glad that I don’t have to start back at square one.

Written by Lisa

February 15, 2009 at 4:13 pm

There’s something about tea…

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…that makes me feel more scholarly. Or, rather, the good kind of scholarly.

I have two images of brainy folks in my head. One is full of coffee and the other tea.

Coffee-intellectual is sleep-deprived and not sure if she ate anything more than a scone today, but wide awake and jittery thanks to a pot of strong coffee. She’s hunkered over the desk, surrounded by piles of unorganized books and papers, scribbling away. She’s working right up to the deadline. Chaotic and stressed.

Tea-intellectual is well-rested, has just finished a bowl of homemade soup, and is ready to tackle the neatly stacked pile of articles in front of her. She has soft music on in the background, pen in one hand and a cup of spiced chai in the other. She is just letting the ideas come to her. Calm and collected.  

I’m not sure why I have these two contrasting images in mind – or why they are associated with hot beverages. But, I realized when having a cup of tea a bit ago, that it flipped a switch for me. I felt productive all of a sudden.

I might just have to institute a daily tea-time for myself. Or multiple tea-times perhaps.

Written by Lisa

February 8, 2009 at 7:48 pm

Posted in Grad School

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