Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Not Waving but Drowning

Metaphorically, anyway.

Just when you can't get busier, the Dean announces a special community meeting (for an hour after another unrelated meeting). Chairs sent out multiple reminders. It turned out to be an interesting meeting, and a good chance to see a couple speakers I'd heard about but never seen. But in some ways, given the large numbers of faculty members there, it seemed like preaching to the choir, except not quite such perfect harmony sometimes.

The media was out in force. Well, the school paper, which isn't a bad paper as such things go. One of the student reporters interviewed a couple of us after. The reporter asked me if I thought students here really are getting the kind of liberal education the presenters were talking about, and I tried to make a point that I see real growth in many of my students, especially advisees, especially when we talk about their general education programs.

I agreed with something one of the presenters said about the difficulty of achieving real liberal education with check off the box systems of general education, and then tried to make a point about how important good advising is to develop coherence for individual students.

Afterwards, one of my friends pointed out that I'm bound to be partially quoted there as saying that I think our general ed system isn't well done, or something. Dang, I should keep my mouth shut.

Today, I have a long planned lunch meet up with the friend of a friend of mine. She's just moved to the Northwoods, and is in town for a meeting of some sort, so we're getting together. I'm really looking forward to it. She has what sounds like a fascinating job at another school, and the connection with my other friend should be interesting, too.

Then I have a public thing on Thursday, and I really must prepare well. Before that, though, I have to finish reading a ton of essays for a competition, and yes, we'll be meeting for that on Thursday, too, just before my public thing.

My writing class was in near open rebellion on Friday. We're doing an essay assignment I got from a colleague; it doesn't really feel like "mine" yet, teaching wise, and they're squirming about the topic. I've been putting in serious time reading and trying to memorize laws and statistics so that they're all on my fingertips. And no, nothing to do with Shakespeare, Chaucer, theory, or anything easy.

They're writing an essay supporting or arguing against a proposed law (developed by our class) relating to parental consent for abortions for minors. I'd planned to do this at the beginning of the term, before I started reading about the South Dakota law, or the Supremes deciding to look at the 2003 federal late term abortion law. The focus is about age of consent issues and such, rather than about abortion.

We started out brainstorming about age appropriate stuff and law: drinking ages (which most think should be younger than 21, naturally), age of consent, driving, joining the military, getting married, being tried as an adult, etc. The idea is to get them to think about how society negotiates adulthood, on some level.

All of which reminds me to mention PZ Myer's Pharyngula post about access to abortion in his state of Minnesota. I was happy to see him do the exercise, but also sort of surprised. Am I the only person that makes sure I know what abortion laws are, what access possibilities are, and what they cost when I move to a new area? Or is it a woman thing? (And now I know the laws for a number of other states as well, because that obsessive studying and preparation thing? I have that down.)

And am I the only one who worries about choosing a physician, and finding one who's not rabidly against Plan B, contraception, or nastily judgmental about whatever issues in ways that are going to catch me by the short hairs, so to speak?

(Just getting a primary care physician in this area is DIFFICULT. I'm crappy at such things, but seriously, for whatever reasons, almost no one on my insurance is/was taking new patients, and some physicians are moving away from primary care to become hospitalists, or just moving away period. When you manage to get an appointment after waiting a month or more, do you really feel comfortable quizzing someone about stuff, because what you really need is an immediate problem dealt with? FSM, I'm a doubly damned coward, and my procrastination feeds my cowardice.)

(But, in case I haven't mentioned it, actually having real health insurance makes many things less scary.)

And what the HELL would I do if I had a job or a job offer in South Dakota? Academic jobs are hard enough to find, but now we've got a couple added wrinkles to the search, eh?

Oh, yeah, and the Northwood's Powers That Be are going absolutely nuts about some stuff that's just off the wall related to the university system.

When I make it through this week, my blood pressure's going to drop by 10 points, easy.

Until then, glug glug...


  1. I don't worry about doctors in NYC...Perhaps naive, but if I ever found a doctor who couldn't prescribe me Plan B should I need it, I'd be really shocked.

    On the other hand, one of my good friends is a doctor in NYC. I could probably convince him to get me out of a bind if necessary. But that's neither here nor there. I would take it more seriously if I moved to a different part of the country.

  2. One of the advantages to living in a large city is that you really do have MUCH better access to medical care (and cultural stuff).

    Here in fly-over country, though, it's not the same. And it's not like doctors put a sign on the front door saying they don't believe in birth control, or hate gays, or think people who have sex without a state license are spawn of the devil, or whatever.

    There are good folks here, and not so good folks, but "one may smile and smile, and be a villain," and I can't easily tell. And the religious affiliations of hospitals around here is just scary.

    Okay, great verification: fkheg (short for f*** hegemony!)

  3. I was just thinking the same thing about job offers in South Dakota yesterday.

    Given the scarcity of jobs in academia, getting a decent offer there would be a serious ethical dilemma . . . .

  4. Yep, Ancrene, I agree.

    Unfortunately, SD isn't going to be the only state enacting such laws, and we can't all run to teach only in states whose every law we agree with.

    There IS a movement starting to boycott tourism in SD. Is there enough tourism there that they'd notice?