Sheltons Organic Turkey

if I empty out all the unimportant stuff here, maybe there'll be more room in my head for important things

name: shelton brett
location: western u.s.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

summer to-do list

A friend was giving me a hard time yesterday about how when summer break begins that I'll have nothing to do. That's a, I better make out a work-related to-do list to see if he's right. This, of course, does not count refinishing the deck, yard work (planting bushes and trees, weeding, bringing in bark and spreading, installing drip lines, repairing and adjusting sprinklers, etc.), car maintenance, and those other domestic things that creep up when the weather gets warmer (anyone seen a wasp trap lately? I need one!).

No, this list is just about work-related things:

1. Finish and submit the absolute stickler of the paper from waaaaay back, dissertation days to the top-tier journal I've always dreamed about getting into (but likely will be hugely tough to do).

2. Write other committed-to journal articles that include 2 on PBL/instructional games, activity-goal alignment from design to development to implementation and results, and the analysis of motivation and gender with a look at classroom assessments and standards for instructional games. That's 4 that fit into this category.

3. Travel to and participate in 2 major conferences, and 1 minor conference. Plus help collaborators prepare for 2 other conference submissions.

4. Finish book chapter for forthcoming models and simulations book on educational gaming.

5. Help edit approximately 12 other chapters for same said book.

6. Re-formulate "presence and perspective" research project, and lead team to collect data, analyze, and wrap up for future article beyond this summer.

7. Write and help coordinate new grants (addressing 4 RFPs) that tackle different components of "educational games and simulations for people with disabilities" project. Approximate length of just the first one? 50 pages.

8. Create new class prep and revamp existing class for fall. The new class prep will involve a number of (new-to-me) important articles and careful thought.

9. Update my professional website to accurately reflect all information, including the new links to projects, research dissemination, and classes.

10. Teach intense 5-week summer class.

Yeah, looks like a nice, fun, relaxing summer.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

savoir c'est survivre

The title means, to know is to survive. I'm concentrating hard on surviving right now, at the end of a long semester and a day that started bad and went downhill from there. My primary frustration at this particular moment is the constant search for external funding.

An important part of my job (that I'm not very good at, but trying hard to improve) is to convince people that the work I do is interesting and important, innovative and makes an impact. And to do my work, I need to manage good people who may have a lot to learn but who also need to somehow live on what we can offer them. Some folks call this process of finding funding "schmoozing," I suppose, but I generally believe that if you have good ideas, and people are out there that want to give money to people to develop their good ideas, then it's just a matter of time and effort before they get together. So I search, research, inquire and wait. Search and wait. Search and wait.

A number of successful people in my area are convinced that it's a matter of time before I receive a windfall from *some source* to help develop my projects. But it's frustrating trying to move forward when no one appears to be buying what I'm selling. So Eddie Spaghetti, my friend, sing me some lyrics that can help me out, and talk to me about how we all feel like this sometimes.

"Rock-N-Roll Records"

I've been workin like a mother just to get this fucker right
I got my ass down in the gutter tryin to irrigate this drought
Have no fear cuz now its here
rock and roll records ain't selling this year

I got my nuts against the grain and you know that it's a bitch
playin' through the pain and watching shit-bands get rich
it's been so clear to all my peers
that rock and roll records--they ain't selling this year

yeah it's a little bit of crummy how the music making money
seems to slip on through to a world full of dummys
I just get jeers for my blood sweat and tears
cuz rock and roll records ain't selling this year

I'm gonna spread it around, and get it all down
ain't gonna flip-flop, hip-hop, suckin on a pork chop
sounds so weird to my ears
that rock and roll records they ain't selling this year

Aow! Yeah, yeah yeah.

So at the end of the day I'm gonna do it my way
cuz I gotta have something good and fun to play
so raise you beer and let's say cheers
to rock and roll records that ain't selling this year

that's right, I'm here to testify on behalf of a rock and roll record

rock and roll records that ain't selling this year
aw, it's painfully clear
rock and roll records…

And just when I think I'm making progress...

...I experience a horrible teaching moment. The story goes like this.

I'm reviewing the assignments in my undergrad class (only one I teach each year) when I notice one particular student's website is lacking many of the requirements of the assignment. Of particular notice is that none of her pages have the images linked properly and none are linked together. Well, I specifically remember going over this with her 2 weeks ago one-on-one and even did one of her links for her as an example. So I figure this is not her most recent version and email her asking her to come in and review it with me. (So, I'm feeling pretty good about what a great guy I am, how many instructors would take the time that I am with this poor girl? not many, I tell myself, giving her the opportunity to review and resubmit, etc.)

So when she comes in, I show her the website she turned in and asked about the images and links that are missing.
"Yeah, I don't know how to do that," she says.

"Well, do you remember us going over it in class, referring to the handout I gave to you, then our one-on-one session afterwards?"

"Yeah but I didn't learn it."

"Oh," I say, somewhat disappointed. "Well, why don't you take another crack at it and then I'll accept your revision."

"But we already have worked on other assignments since then, and I don't remember anything. And I can't learn from the handout," she replied.

"Well, this is a class that's designed to teach you skills to build a website, to add to your resume and hopefully use after the class is over. Are you saying that you didn't learn anything?"

"Yes, I didn't learn anything."

I thought about this for a minute and said, "Well, then the class let you down and I let you down."

She looked at me and said somewhat defensively, "Sorry," paused, then added, "So, what grade did I get?"