Archive for the '[Etc]' category

Random Thoughts: AP Classes

May 05 2015 Published by under Random Thoughts

I hear things. On the radio or television. Random elevator talk. These bits of information can inspire observations too long for a tweet, but not a substantial blog post. Thus, the Random Thoughts category begins...


 

Yesterday I heard a story on my local NPR station about advanced placement classes*. The story examined the possibility that schools were expanding the population of students placed into AP work for a variety of reasons. One result would be less "advanced" AP classes, perhaps resulting in fewer students qualifying for college credit.

Both of my offspring took a number of AP courses and tests. The classes challenged them, and I am sure it looked good on their transcripts. However, these courses would not have saved any significant amount of money in college tuition.

The main advantage I see of coming in with these credits is more rapid advancement of academic rank. In other words, you obtain sophomore, junior, and senior standing sooner if you come in with these credits. This gives the student higher priority in registration for the courses that they want or need.


*Thanks to potnia theron for supplying the link.

 

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Things That Make You Think

Apr 19 2015 Published by under Wackaloonacy

On my way to the hospital today, I heard the Top 40 Hits of this week in 1973. For you youngsters, the Top 40 involved the sales of small vinyl records with 1 song you wanted on one side and something completely random on the other. These small discs turned at 45 revolutions per minute and were often called 45's or singles. Based on sales, they ranked the top songs in the US.

Somewhere in the middle of the pack was the song, Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road :

This begs two questions:

  1. Why would anyone write this song?
  2. How did it make the Top 40?

Thanks to the power of the internet (and Wikipedia), we can answer question 1:

The lyrics describe a dead skunk in the middle of a busy road and the smell it produces for pedestrians. Wainwright said the song was an accident, written in 15 minutes

Question 2 may forever remain a mystery, although I feel it must be a testimony to the economic power of 12-15 year-old boys at the time.

3 responses so far

What I'm Reading: Herding Cats Edition

Mar 18 2015 Published by under What I'm Reading

Even an experienced speaker like Guy Kawasaki says, “Moderating a panel is deceptively hard--harder, in fact, than keynoting."

What makes a good moderator panel? We all know bad ones, or at least bad performances. Now Denise Graveline, an internationally renown public speaking expert who blogs at The Eloquent Woman, fills the gap in panel moderation. Her ebook, The Eloquent Woman’s Guide to Moderating Panels, provides a brief 51 page collection of thoughts and checklists to make moderation successful.

PanelsPanel moderation is too often an afterthought; she encourages planners to engage moderators with speakers early in the planning process. That way ground rules can be set, and the moderator(s) can reinforce his or her plans to enforce the rules. One section of the guide gives the reader 9 reasons to turn down an offer to moderate. For example, women often get asked to moderate groups of male speakers to provide an appearance of diversity. Just say no if that seems to be the case.

The usual roles of moderators are addressed, like better panelist introductions and calling on questions from the floor. One delightful section presents smart ways to interrupt speakers, primarily so you can shut them up and stay on time, for the win.

In about ten days I will join my colleagues in Boston for Experimental Biology 2015. I’m sure I will remember many of these points during symposia at that meeting and others farther in the future. I highly recommend this quick read for anyone involved in meeting presentations.

 

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Christmas Lyrics That Make Me Giggle

Dec 24 2014 Published by under Wackaloonacy

The Carpenters, a 1970s sibling duo, are the only ones I know that covered this song, Merry Christmas Darling (full lyrics here). The following lines always crack me up:

Logs on the fire
Fill me with desire

Read more: The Carpenters - Merry Christmas Darling Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Yeah, wood can do that...

Here's the story of the song:

Richard Carpenter composed the music for this song in 1966 when he was 19 years old. Frank Pooler wrote the lyrics twenty years earlier, in 1946, when he also was only 19 years old. The song Pooler had written was to be a Christmas gift for his girlriend, whom he was missing while being away from her during a visit with his parents at Christmas time. However, their relationship ended before he could present it to her.

Twenty years later, Pooler was the choir director at California State University in Long Beach, when both Karen and Richard Carpenter were members of the choir. Richard and Karen were performing locally and had tired of playing the usual Christmas fare. Richard asked Pooler, their favorite professor, if he had any ideas for different Christmas songs.

Pooler remembered the Christmas song he had written many years before and mentioned it to Richard, adding that he didn't think much of the melody anymore. Richard said he would try his hand at writing new music for the lyrics. Within about 15 minutes he was finished creating a song, written by two teenagers who were a generation apart, that was destined to become a Christmas classic.

The song was first released as a single (yes, a 45) on November 20,1970, and earned gold record status. This song sparked the idea of a Christmas album by The Carpenters, and on October 13, 1978, "Christmas Portrait" was released with this newly recorded version of the song. Karen re-recorded her vocals for the album version as she felt that she could give the vocals a more mature treatment. This newly recorded version was presented on their TV Christmas special in 1978, as seen here, and became a hit all over again.

And here is Karen Carpenter performing it in their Christmas special:

Happy Holidays to everyone, and as many logs as you desire...

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Oops: Repost of Subtle Spirit of the Season

Dec 19 2014 Published by under [Etc], What I'm Watching

I accidentally posted this a few days ago in some obscure corner of the Scientopia site. It received little attention, and I'm still looking for movies with a holiday twist that are not in-your-face Christmas movies. To that end, I'm re-posting here.


 

Sure, there are CHRISTMAS flicks, movies that focus on the holiday. Think Elf, White Christmas, Christmas Vacation...I'm sure you can come up with many more.

I would like to collect less in-your-face holiday films. I will start with some favorites, but I would love to collect more. Sometimes you just need a good movie that fits your mood.

  • An Affair to Remember - You youngsters probably learned about this one from its stalkerish spin-off, Sleepless in Seattle. The original starts with two people otherwise committed falling in love on an ocean cruise, then deciding to figure out how to support themselves before marrying. Tragedy ensues, and they do not find their way to each other again until...Christmas! Have wine, chocolate, and tissues available if you do not know the details.
  • Meet Me In Saint Louis - This musical follows the lives of a family through a year preceding the World's Fair in St. Louis, MO. The climax occurs on Christmas eve with Judy Garland singing Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. Everything ends well, of course, at the 1904 Exhibition.
  • Auntie Mame - This one is a year-round favorite, in part because I would like to be "that aunt." Free spirit Mame becomes the guardian of her nephew, despite the general disapproval of her brother and the banker that pays for the boy's upkeep. When Mame loses her money in the crash of 1929, she Needs a Little Christmas Now. Decorations go up in early November (not as early as the stores today) with the song explaining her need for some holiday cheer. Rosalind Russel turns in a wonderful performance, and the scene where she entertains her nephew's fiance and parents will make you wet your pants. If you have never watched this one, stop whatever you are doing and find it.

I will provide one additional bonus film that through chance became part of our holiday traditions. Dogma does not include any Christmas portions, but it came on while my daughter and I were baking Christmas cookies a few years ago. She was aghast that I had never watched it, and I agreed that it was an excellent adventure in religion. She gave me a copy, and it became our cookie-baking flick. It's not for everyone, but keep an open mind. At it's heart, it really has a nice message for the faithful.

What movies do you associate with the season? Comment below!!!

7 responses so far

No Permission Required

Dec 09 2014 Published by under etc

One of the most valuable things an academic can do requires no permission from your supervisor. While some departments and groups perform the activity formally, many faculty do it on their own. It should not be a solo activity, though. Strength comes from input from others.

I am talking about the CV review.

In The Ivory Tower, your CV is your life and the most important part of your promotion and tenure packet.

Hosting a CV review is pretty simple. I have a guest post up over at Tenure She Wrote detailing how you can make this happen. When you're ready to have your event, you can also download a CV review worksheet from the website for The Promotion Game.


 

You can also still score a free copy of the book by signing up for the newsletter or following the book on Twitter. 1 in 5 will win!

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What I Am Reading: Recent Airport Edition

Nov 20 2014 Published by under What I'm Reading

I spent a bunch of time in airports recently (thanks, winter), and I read several books. Instead of trying to review each one separately, I will just list them with a short synopsis of my thoughts. 

The Prince Lestat (Ann Rice)

 Ann Rice abandoned her muse, the bad-boy Lestat, and wrote about other things for several years. I am delighted that the non-sparkly vampires have come back to explore their existence. I have been waiting for her to do a history of the Talamasca since Taltos, the conclusion of the Mayfair Witch Chronicles. Waiting, waiting, waiting…and finally rewarded! If you haven’t read any other books in the vampire series, I would not start here. If you read the first 3, you can jump right into this one!

The Secret History of Wonder Woman (Jill Lepore)

Don’t let the size of this book scare you away; almost half of the text contains notes and other references. This meticulously researched history documents the life and times of William Moulton Marston, a frustrated academic who invented an early lie detector, lived with two women, and belonged to the Harvard Men for Women’s Suffrage. This read provides a fascinating history of the women’s movement in the US, as well as the rationale behind a beloved fictional character (yes, the bracelets, lasso, and invisible plane all have a reason). I was sort of sorry when this one ended; frankly, the story of the Amazons is as believable as that of the Marston clan!

The Secret Place (Tana French)

This is French’s fifth book to solve a death with a member of the Dublin murder squad. If you haven’t read her earlier works, you could start with this one without feeling lost; however, her character-driven novels are delightful, so you will want to read them all anyway. You may as well buy them all and go in order. In this one, an officer working cold cases gets a chance to work a murder. The action takes place in a swanky girls’ school over the course of a day. While I agree with the critics that this is the weakest novel yet from this author, I still found it a wonderful read and recommend it highly.

Obitchuary (Stephanie Hayes)

This came to me as an Amazon featured book that I got for almost nothing. This chick-lit features a young reporter who gains a degree of fame writing in-depth obituaries for selected people. Getting a date for her cousin’s wedding results in murder, mayhem, and the mob, along with finding true love. Good book to have in an airport if you want to forget you are delayed in O’Hare. It has no redeeming social value.

Killing Ruby Rose (Jessie Humphries)

Another Amazon feature and the first book in a series. Ruby Rose is 17, a brilliant high school senior in southern California, and grieving after the death of her ex-marine, SWAT team father. She starts tailing sex offenders who got off on technicalities, planning to get them convicted. She ends up being manipulated to kill them instead. Her family history gets very complicated along the way, and her own life comes under threat. She handles it all with poise; the major criticism with the story is that NO TEENAGER IS THIS TOGETHER, I DON’T CARE HOW SMART SHE IS!!! It’s a fun enough read that I bought the second book (came out last week), but you really have to be able to suspend your disbelief for these reads.

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Almost Home #KidneyWk14

Nov 15 2014 Published by under Travel

Kidney Week is once again winding down. Today I ran my last meeting of the Kidney News Editorial Board. I will miss putting that magazine together, but new blood often generates new invigorating ideas for a publication. The new editor is keeping me on the board, so I still have a voice.

Oklahoma expects snow tomorrow for my return home. My car sits in an open lot, so I will have to clear it off. At least only an inch or two is predicted. I just hope Denver stays clear so I do not get delayed like I did en route to Philadelphia. Reentry to regular life is just that much more difficult when you are sleep deprived.

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Progress Report: 10,000 steps at a time

Oct 29 2014 Published by under General Health, gizmos

A while back I blogged about the addition of a stair stepper to my standing desk set up. I have gotten much better at typing (keyboarding for you whippersnappers) and doing other work while stepping. Working with our electronic record systems and sending email barely slows me down.

Phone calls still require standing still or sitting; the stepper, unlike a treadmill, requires some oomph from me to move. That gets transmitted in my voice, and I don't want to have to explain why I sound weird.

To give you an example of how this changes my activity level, here is today so far:

8:30 - 10:00:  Made rounds with residents. Saw consult patients. Just over 2,000 steps by Fitbit

10:00 -  Noon:  Office work, including charting, reading manuscripts, email and other correspondence. Current steps at 9,264

Thinking it's time you added a stepper? Some things to keep in mind:

  • Keep padded shoes available; if you have been standing at your desk, you probably have something comfortable stashed under your desk anyway. Unlike standing, my ballet flats and loafers do not suffice when I'm stepping.
  • Some steppers squeak. Mine started out quiet, and then became annoying when I put my right foot down. This noise stopped a couple of days ago for no good reason that I can identify. It's best to close your door while you do this anyway, both because of noise and the weirdness factor.
  • If you are prone to feel warm in your workplace, you may want a fan. You really can get warm with this level of activity, even at an incredibly leisurely pace such as I have.

By the way, in the 8 minutes it took me to write that bullet list, another 400 steps have been added to the total.

 

4 responses so far

What I Am Reading: OCP

Oct 21 2014 Published by under What I'm Reading

Click to Amazon

Click to Amazon

Stop what you are doing. Right now. We all should read this book, The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution. Jonathan Eig tells us the story of the intersecting lives of Margaret Sanger, Katharine McCormick, Goody Pincus, and John Rock. Their individual motivations differed, but ultimately their efforts combined to bring about the oral contraceptive pill (OCP), Enovid.

Sanger wanted to make sex as free and pleasurable for women as for men; McCormick wanted women to have more opportunities without being a slave to their uterus. Goody Pincus wanted to be recognized as a great scientist; Rock wanted women to be able to space pregnancies. All were influenced by the health effects of uncontrolled fertility on women, particularly those who were poor.

Their discoveries collided with changing social attitudes around 1960, leading to a revolution in women's rights and attitudes toward sex. The book details the perfect storm that led to the current state of women and sex. When they first began testing the OCP, contraception was illegal in a majority of the United States. They worked around that little problem by testing an initial indication for menstrual disorders! Many previously infertile women in Rock's practice also became pregnant after a few months of regulation with Enovid, so even though it inhibited fertility, it had a possible infertility indication!

Perhaps most importantly, this work reminds us how important the OCP and control of fertility are for women. Women with fewer pregnancies experienced better health. In the years after the OCP became available, women's wages began to catch up to men's; a woman employee was not merely killing time till the stork came! Women also began entering higher education in greater numbers, including professional schools. Women continued their decades-long quest for real equality.

We have other contraceptive options today, but the OCP remains the gold standard. Read this book; you will learn something, and the stories are quite entertaining!

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