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Monday, March 31, 2014

Job Security

            I’m not sure there is such a thing. Between my friends and my own experiences, I’ve seen too many jobs in too many markets simply evaporate to believe that there’s any kind of real security in the job market. Gone are the days when a person could work for a company for 20-30 years with a company provided retirement that could sustain.
            Retirement benefits and health benefits are disappearing left and right from corporations, and even the most highly qualified people can find their jobs disappearing out from under them. They didn’t do anything to be fired, didn’t slip in performance in any way, but the job was dissolved.
            I’ve seen at my school that full professors retire and new ones never take their place. Instead, adjuncts take their place, and the same holds true for other businesses.

            I think the only real job security is in cultivating a variety of skills and talents for when the inevitable job shortage takes place.

Friday, March 28, 2014

F3 Red Star

            I relaxed on the porch of my small cabin, enjoying the relative calm and quiet. It was night, and the forest, while normally cheerful during the day, had taken on the appropriate mien, despite the influence of the Fairy Tale Realms.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

When the Job Changes

            I wrote previously about a job where supervisors asked me to do less than a full job, and how I was turnd off by that. This is in a similar vein. What do you do when the job changes. What do you do when the aspects that you liked about a job, which were what you looked forward to about the job, change and disappear?
            I’ve been writing about this idea for some time, but I largely thought it was on my end, that I was changing or at least learning more about the job, uncovering the murky depths below the idyllic surface. It’s something else entirely when the change is more or less publicly announced, and I’m faced with the truth that while I have been changing, the job definitely did, too.

            So, what’s next?

Monday, March 24, 2014

Soulless Minions of Orthodoxy

            The phrase originated in the episode “In the Cards” of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The man who states it comes across as being something of an oddball, and is decidedly outside of the norm for scientists. His ideas are derided, and he maintains that the establishment is out to get him, adding paranoia to his already odd personality.
            The thing is, I get him. I’ve never been an “inside the box thinker.” I come at problems from a perspective decidedly different from my colleagues. I do have some colleagues that appreciate and understand my approaches, but they are in the minority and never in the upper echelons. Like me, it seems their ideas and approaches are not appreciated by the orthodoxy.
            I can’t help but think that this stifles innovation. How can there be new ideas, new ways, and true progress when certain people and ideas are shut out?

            Or maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m complaining like the character from DS9. Maybe I’m too far outside of what is normal, and I’ll never fit in. So I think I need to relocate myself to find people more like myself. When that happens, I’ll be within a new orthodoxy.

Friday, March 21, 2014

F3 Declaration

            Alex carefully aimed his dart, then let it fly at the memo he had put on his dartboard. It made a satisfying thunk as the dart hit the signature. The department chair, Paul Crateris, had put out the memo. Alex didn’t have much against Paul, but didn’t particularly like the man, either. Just a sycophant, an empty suit trying to kiss up to the higher admins until he can score an associate dean position.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Break Time

            It’s Spring Break. Unlike last year, I have the time off. Unfortunately, I don’t have much in the way of funds to take advantage of it. I have long thought about going to San Diego or Yosemite for Spring Break.

            It always seems to be the case that either time or money is lacking. Need to figure out a way to get just enough of both to take advantage of a nice vacation road trip.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Making Luck

            I’ve come to understand that opportunity, fortune, luck, or whatever you want to call it is more about keeping an open mind and smart, hard work. The possibilities are out there, but without the ability to recognize them or the ability to act on them, luck will pass you by.
            I’m hoping to make new luck, to change directions and fully realize a new possibility.

            Wish me luck.

Friday, March 14, 2014

F3 A Pint

            O’Malley’s was, predictably, an authentic Irish bar deep in the Grind. What set it apart from other Irish bars in Belport were the stones set in the east wall. None of the stones was very large, rarely bigger than a fist, but most were small stones fit for skipping over water. Every single stone came from Ireland, carried by Irish immigrants or travelers.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A New Hand

            I’ve talked about wearing many hats before, but I think I have a different analogy: cards. I keep adding new cards to my deck, and then I deal them out in various ways. The various combinations of those cards produce stronger and stronger hands.
            What’s interesting is I feel that some of my older cards aren’t as relevant to my future as they once were. I’ll never abandon them completely, but I foresee more and more scenarios where I might want to discard them in my current hand to make room for something more useful.

            Of course, whenever you discard, you never quite sure what you’re going to get when you draw, or what you’re up against.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Quality vs. Quantity

            The quality of education is slipping in this country. Everyone knows it. Hardly a month goes by where someone from Washington doesn’t make a statement about the decline of US education, but it always seems to be a matter of left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing.
            Politicians and administrators call for sweeping reforms to improve education, instituting programs that they think (but seldom do) work to correct the problem
            On the other hand, at every level, there is a push to make sure more and more students are retained in the system and progress through it.
            We’re at cross-purposes. Either you can make sure that students receive a quality education, that students progress forward only after demonstrating they have learned something, or make sure that they all make it through the program with the grades and numbers that make the schools, administrators, and politicians look good.

            It’s time to stop looking good. We need to be good. If we hold to a higher standard, eventually we will get the numbers to go along with it, but the reverse cannot be said.

Friday, March 7, 2014

F3 Tradition

            Peter Flynn walked into his new quarters on the Atlas. The yeomen had brought all of his things in, stacking them neatly along the wall. On his bed  sat a various bundles and baskets of welcome from crew and friends, but a bundle in old-fashioned wrapping paper drew Flynn’s eye.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Meritocracy of Mediocrity

            An article I read a few years ago detailed exactly what an A paper should be. Put simply, it’s the paper I become so involved with that I don’t remember I’m supposed to grade it. When I have to (repeatedly) force myself to slow down and look for errors, I know I’m reading a good essay.
            Unfortunately, what I see most of the time are mediocre papers where students expect to get 100% simply for completing the assignment at the bare minimum, regardless of other requirements.

            When did mediocrity gain such high rewards?

Monday, March 3, 2014

Act of Imagination

            I talked about learning communities before. I think they can be good things, but they aren’t immediately easy by any means. They take active acts of imagination to conceive of how one field can crossover into so many others.
            I took part in a workshop where the idea was to brainstorm a way to create a learning community between people present in the workshop. At my particular table, I was partnered with a woman who taught calculus. Now, I am not going to stereotype math professors, but the particular woman I was with didn’t have much in the way of imagination. She saw no way to connect calculus to English composition.
            I came up with the idea of having students read and study the developers of calculus Leibnitz and Newton, possibly even delving into the particular reasons they developed calculus in the first place. I could present them with the practical considerations they dealt with and their time period, and then in the calculus class they could learn about how those problems were solved.
            Back in my class students would write essays detailing the processes used to arrive at the solution and to support the formulae with logical deductions and proof. This, I thought, was doable, even exciting.
            I looked to the woman for more ideas and asked for what teaching methods she uses and what types of problems they would be trying to solve. All she could do was talk about the various equations they would talk about, and that she wouldn’t grade any essays in her class.

            There’s a fundamental mindset in the teaching of certain disciplines that must be addressed before true learning communities can be established.
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