Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Photos and update

New photos on my flickr site of our lovely home town and the visit by the Family of Wife this past weekend. Check them out. There are a bunch of pictures of alligators. There is a post about it to follow when I'm not up past my bedtime.

School is going well so far. Still pretty early in the semester. The production class is coming along, some days good and some days could be better. But the more time I spend working myself on the projects they'll have to do (yes I am doing much of what I expect them to do) the more comfortable I feel with it. What has been most amazing is that although I haven't been in a tv or radio studio in at least 16 years, I still know what I am doing pretty much. I mean I wouldn't hire me to direct the nightly news or anything but I still have some skills that could pay some bills. In fact I'm making myself available to a fellow faculty member who does freelance production work and he might have some things for me to do. I'm also planning on doing some dj-ing on the campus station this summer. My first time on air since I got booted for on air obscenity in 91. Guess that deserves its own post soon too.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

I can overanalyze anything

Returning to that whole too smart for my own good idea, I have the amazing ability to overthink any decision I need to make. I can see too many sides to it and feel strongly for and against something, going over them in my head. I end up doing nothing because I can't determine enough of an advantage to one or the other. Makes Wife nuts.

As a counter to this I will often get so frustrated with not being able to decide that I will do something impulsive and irrational. Like get a tattoo whether I can afford it or not. Or buy a scooter or motorcycle I possibly don't need. This, also, makes Wife nuts.

Case in point, what to do about the car situation. I can keep the one we have now, paying it off and getting a better trade in next year (after fixing the exhaust). Or I can decide that it will slowly get more beat up and cost more in the long run than I'll get in total trade in value by letting it depreciate more. Which to do? And on top of that, what car do I get to replace it?

The front runners:

Honda Element
Pros: Decent but not great gas mileage, looks cool, can haul scooter when needed, can be cleaned easily if dog makes sick in it.
Cons: Most expensive realistic option.

Toyota Tacoma
Pros: Decent gas mileage, for a pickup truck, can haul scooter at any time, dog never really got sick in old pickup, boderline affordable.
Cons: Wife doesn't want one, would need to get more expensive crew cab model, harder to park when not hauling scooter.

Honda Fit
Pros: Best gas mileage, best price, Mom-in-Law works for Honda.
Cons: Small, no hauling scooter, dog got sick in last car from time to time so risk here.

Mini Cooper
Pros: Looks coolest, competitive price, second best gas mileage. Did I mention looks coolest?
Cons: Even smaller especially for long distance, no hauling luggage?, dog sick in tiny car so no room for smell?, Mom-in-Law does not work for BMW, only two doors.

So there you go, sort that one out.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

I bet this doesn't happen to math professors

Some time last semester I was working in my office and a staff employee asked me about a comic strip on my door. It pokes fun at the career options of people who pursue higher degrees in the humanities. So he asked me what I studied. I told him media.

Here is the thing about studying media. Everyone has an opinion about it. And most of them that feel they need to share their opinions do not think happy thoughts.

He proceeded to tell me what was wrong with the news. I think it was mainly that they ruined Howard Dean in the last election or something. And I made a crucial error. I tried to argue logically. And play devil's advocate a little. I mentioned that if enough folks don't watch something they dislike its ratings will suffer and it will be replaced. Wrong tactic to explain things so simply.

He began ranting at me about other issues wrong with the news. Apparently a common misconception is that I have some level of pull with the networks and can get them to fix things if you complain to me. And I tried to point out that he was trying to argue several different points. And he got more worked up about things stating he was doing no such thing. Then I realized in his mind he wasn't. He was basically making one big argument and that is "Media is bad and you must agree with me about that."

He was was basically hoping I would say, "You're right, media is terrible." And I wasn't doing that. Which just made him more aggressive. I finally told him I really needed to get back to work since I had class in five minutes and I don't really even watch American news programs. I watch BBC America (remember that thing early about if you don't like it, avoid it? I follow my own advice) and pursue news online.

He went away and then came back three minutes later and made what he thought was some sort of sweeping finishing statement that was kind of sad considering he probably spent the whole time thinking it up. "The root word of news is new." Yeah, great. Except like I tried to tell him, finding new gets hard when you have 24 hours of news day to fill. Which means you turn to fluff to get something novel but he hated fluff news too. Way to argue for and against yourself at the same time.

And just in case you were wondering, this sort of thing happens semi-regularly to me. People find out what I study and suddenly they have a face for their harsh opinions about everything wrong with the media. I bet there are other academic fields that inspire similar reactions but I bet physics professors don't ever hear "You know what's wrong with gravity? It's incompatibility with quantum mechanics."

Written while listening to the Replacements. Good times.

New Semester

It starts up again in one week. And I'm teaching a production course. I feel so not ready for it. Though I have gone from feeling terrified to just a general sense of impending doom, so I have that going for me. It's not that I'm not smart and can't figure out how to use all the equipment. I need to figure out the equipment and then teach it to them before they need to use it to complete their projects. And since I don't have a production studio in my office (or in my office building since there aren't currently any available in the Comm Building) I can't really work on it too much during my office hours.

I'll get through it, somehow. Mainly because I always do. I'm mostly worried that the lack of confidence will leak into my demeanor during class. I'm sarcastic/caustic enough in the class room.

Actually it appears that I'm so sarcastic that some of my students from last semester hated one of my classes. I got some of the lowest evaluations I've gotten in years. I got good ones in two classes, average in a third and then the bad ones. The two lower ones were different sections of the same class. And I agree with some of the comments about how to improve the class. It needs an overhaul during the summer. Not that it does much for the students who will be taking it next semester.

But one student even went so far as to say they'll never take another class with me and recommend all their friends avoid me. Someone else in that same class said they loved my teaching. Go figure. I'll give you three guess which comment will stick with me over the next few days. Funny thing, if the person who said they hated me was the student I think it is, they might have gotten a B in the class.

Something else for those of you who read this and have finished your own college experience, you would not believe how often students whine and moan if you don't create study guides. Like it's my job to tell you what is going to be on the test. What next, complaining because I don't take it for them?