Sunday, October 22, 2006

confessions of a committee whore

It was a good weekend, if a busy and exhausting one, in Sacramento, where we went to attend the CFA Assembly (Lauren always comes with me, because, as she describes herself in introductions, she's the "union groupie"). Before we left, I agreed to be nominated for an ad-hoc committee on the faculty constitution at Stanislaus. I've been on Academic Senate for 5 years now, and I want to be part of this committee in order to continue to push for broader governance rights for lecturers.

We took off early on Friday so I could get to the CFA Elections Committee meeting at 3-5 pm (I only met my class about half an hour and then had them break into groups to work on coming up with social justice arrangements à la John Rawls). The next morning I had to be up for the 7:30 am Faculty Governance and Lecturer Recognition Subcommittee, that I co-chair and that I instigated about 18 months ago. At that meeting we came up with the proposal to start another subcommittee, on lecturer employment status, permanency, conversion to tenure-track, etc. At the Lecturers' Council meeting I moved to start that committee, and that was approved.

The Assembly did a lot of business, most of which I'm not yet at liberty to discuss. This morning I had to get to the Assembly promptly at 8:30, because of the elections. We nearly beat to death with amendments a resolution, but I jumped onto the speakers' list for discussion and moved to close debate and call the question. I never received an ovation for a parliamentary maneuver before. On the way back to my seat from the microphone, I pumped my clenched hands over my head victoriously to the cheers; one delegate leaned back and told me I was her hero. The Vice President and the Treasurer of the union both shook my hand in thanks.

The Assembly completed work just before noon, and we got home about 1:30 or so. Since then, I've already written and sent out a draft of the charge for the new subcommittee and nominated myself to be the initiating chair. Lauren chuckled at this. I complain, a lot, often, about having too much going on - some days I can't even tell what day it is. I promised not to chair any other committees at the same time, and she chuckled at that, too. But she does it in a loving and supportive, if also slightly ironic, manner.

Monday, October 16, 2006


I had a decent time in Philly. The conference went well, I survived both the red-eye and general lack of sleep, and aside from some minor hallucinations due to exhaustion, I've come out of the whole trip in one piece. I also managed to get in a walk around the Independence Hall and Society Hill areas.

I don't normally take good pictures, I don't really know why. But this turned out well. The building in the foreground is the Independence Living History Center, a National Parks joint. The brick tower thingy (my pal Dennis described it as "quasi-Bauhaus") and the reflecting glass wall are utterly out of step with the surrounding Colonial and early American architecture, for instance the revivalist First Bank of the US that it reflects in the picture. Weird. And in the background is the Art Deco 1935 US Customs House.

More of that part of Philly seems to be 19th century rowhouses...

... like this one.
Where these have been torn down, to a satisfyingly great extent they've been replaced by buildings that fit the scale, and many,...

... like these, that mimic the spatial configuration. This is part of a long block of rowhouses, built as one big building without variation in roofs or fronts, except for the colors of the front doors. But it felt right, across the street from the old rowhouses.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Yes, the City of Thirteen.

I leave tonight for Philly, to attend the Society for Phenomenology and the Human Sciences. I'm taking a red-eye, which I booked because it was about $100 cheaper, and because it will shave a night's stay off the $150 hotel room.

I'm presenting a paper on phenomenology, pedagogy, and technology. I think the idea of the panel was to present papers offering phenomenological descriptions of teaching with technological devices, but I'm not doing that, at least, not in the expected way. I'm presenting a paper interrogating phenomenological approaches to pedagogy (that is, I'm working up a critique of phenomenology itself) and interrogating myself as a working piece of teaching technology. That, and I'm looking at the paradoxical relation of teacher to students when someone attempts to break down the usual institutionally-sanctioned way that relation is supposed to run.

Well, we shall see how it goes. I get to present the paper on however much sleep I can manage on a plane between Sacramento and Atlanta (since, in addition to a red-eye, I'm also changing planes in Atlanta to get to Philly. Say what you will about air travel in the US; it sucks).

And I've been sick for a few days now, in the usual manner for me: I feel rotten, but other than that, I have no identifiable symptoms. And Lauren won't be with me.

And I don't even like Philly. And I hate the Flyers. Maybe I'll bring my vintage Penguins Jaromir Jagr jersey to wear, just to cheese them off.