Archive for December, 2007

 Title Page (free image from www.fromoldbooks.org)

As I prepare to leave my job, I thought of all the things I have seen in my five years working in college admissions (lately, working as the admissions processor). So, I will offer up my sarcastic, cranky thoughts to you, the hopeful college applicant:

  1. If you pay your application fee with a check that has Precious Moments on it or you use little hearts on top of your “i”s, I will put your application at the bottom of the pile.
  2. Since listing your religion is optional, if you don’t know how to spell it just don’t put it on the application (examples seen: Bapist; Cathlick; Agnosetic (my favorite!)
  3. Having an unusual name will boost you to the top of the pile (personal favorite: “Precious Musgrove” followed by “Marajuana War”)
  4. Mysterious stains on your application? To the bottom of the pile!
  5. Application arrives in a teeny tiny envelope folded so many times it looks like an origami frog: bottom of the pile.
  6. If you keep making mistakes and end up crossing out large parts of your application (including your name…) just print out another one and start over, OK.
  7. If your writing is so illegible that doctors admire it, just type it or have a friend print it for you (this is followed closely by: it is probably in your best interest to include your address and phone number on the lines provided if you expect to get an admissions letter).
  8. You really ought to have someone in education give you a second opinion on your admission letter…and not just for spelling and grammatical errors. (Here are some actual bad ideas: mentioning that next week is your five year “Divorcearry”; starting off with “I always wanted to be either a cowgirl or a nurse…” and, finally, writing the letter in pencil and underlining the “important” parts). **look here for 2 amusingly bad college essays**
  9. If you call me over 3 times a day, asking if your transcript has arrived now…say it with me: bottom of the pile. Also, not helpful: leaving a message like, “Hey, this is Sarah wondering if my application arrived. Call me back”…I am supposed to know which Sarah out of the 100’s who applied AND to have memorized your phone number?!
  10. Finally, it pays to be nice to the person who is not only entering your application but will also be typing up your acceptance or denial letter…I wield more power than you know.

Best of luck to you in your education!

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Yes, as an early Christmas present to me, I have accepted a new position as a librarian! Wahoo!

It all happened pretty fast…only took 5 days from the interview to the offer. Although, longtime readers will recall that I have previously interviewed with this system (and am gearing up for more education here). They called up Friday, just as we were heading out the door to travel south for the holiday visits.

(So, if by some means of ferreting out this blog, you are my current boss…consider this your notice). The reactions from people I have told have been varied, to say the least. They range (from those who love me) from ecstatic to bewildered (from those who just know me off-hand).

A typical conversation at a recent party:

Stranger at party: “So…what do you do for a living?”

Me: “Actually, I just got a new job…”

Stranger: “Congratulations! What as?”

Me: “A librarian!”

Stranger:                   ::crickets chirping in the stunned silence::

Stranger: “Uh…that’s great?”

What gives with this response? I was thinking of asking a librarian whose blog I regularly read, Miz Magee, but I am guessing that this is just the general response from people who have NO idea what a librarian is or does.

A number of people asked if I would not get bored checking out and re-shelving books (typically, not a librarian responsibility but that of a paraprofessional…). And, if ONE more person makes a joke about shushing people, I am going to tell them to put their shushing finger where the sun don’t shine! Sigh. (Although, to be fair, I did ask for this as a silly gift many months ago and these look pretty cool, too…)

In case you were wondering, according to the ALA:

“Librarians help people with homework and research questions, decide what items to purchase and to discard, offer programs and training, help people use the internet, build websites, and more. Specialized librarians may run computer systems, work with seniors and non-English speaking populations, become specialists in a specific subject area, or maintain the records for the online catalog.”

Will keep you posted on my new adventures.

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Snow in Town

No, not the usual “I work with incompetent buffoons” (which, BTW, I do…) but something more dire this time. I had to sit in as a witness to a discussion between a faculty member and two students accused of plagiarism.

 Since the students were also rather young, both around 20 years old, there was a lot of, uh, …let’s call it unrestrained emotion. The faculty member had also obviously never had to deal with an issue like this before and was less than tactful. Overall, not a great way to spend an afternoon.

Nothing like watching someones chosen career path crash and burn before your eyes (OK, that’s a mixed metaphor, but you get my drift). The college has a strict policy on these things…one student will be expelled from her program of study (and, effectively, the school) and the other will have the option of starting over from the very beginning and repeating a year’s worth of classes.

Not that I am all soft on those who plagiarize, mind you. As the witness, I didn’t have to do anything except listen to everyone and take notes. It’s just that you kind of feel for these kids, since they were passing the course before this final paper, and it’s not easy to be a hard-ass when they are explaining their side of the story right in front of you.

Still, they clearly did something wrong. Turnitin.com gave their papers a 58% match and the first 7 pages had the exact same quotes from the exact same sources. Oh, and a thing about those “quotes”…the students copied the exact sentences, word for word, from textbooks and did not put them in quotations but instead cited the author at the end of the sentence. So, what looked like a paraphrase was an actual lifting of a sentence. The students claim that they thought this “was the right way” and that that’s what they had been taught.

Now, these are upper level students who have taken at least two composition courses by this time in their studies. However, maybe this is more common than I think, since I found this from a paper by Brian Martin

“Undoubtedly, much of the word-for-word plagiarism by students is inadvertent. They simply do not know or understand proper acknowledgement practice. Sometimes they are taught in high school to copy from sources without acknowledgement (Dant, 1986; Schab, 1972) and the problem persists in higher education. Students are apprentices, and some of them learn the scholarly trade slowly.”

They also claimed that their reference pages were the same because they had the same general topic. So, why were the punctuation, capitalization and grammar mistakes exactly the same on both papers then? Why, because they used an online program that automatically loads their references into the needed format. Hmmmmmn….

There is a very good site here with an alternate view…questioning how schools treat plagiarism. The author talks about how this is used in the syllabus at the start of the course:

“My conflict here is that I don’t lead any other discussion with threats, so why one on plagiarism? Why start off scolding? Why build anxiety and fear when I know that I’ll be asking students to learn complex literacy skills, writing skills, and academic conventions? Why make myself a state trooper to their novice driver?”

 The site goes on to offer some excellent advice and resources for educators.

Today’s meeting ended with the comment that I always find amusing: “Well, we will just go to another school then and tell everyone how horrible it is here!” (followed by the inevitable “I’m hiring a lawyer”) Yeah, OK. And don’t let the door hit you on the ass…

And the picture at the top? I just liked it. Also, it is in the public domain so no citation is needed….but I did get it from an excellent site: Liam’s Pictures from Old Books

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stupid instructions

So, I was opening a can yesterday and noticed that there were actually instructions on HOW to open a pull tab can lid. Do we really need that?!

If you have advanced to the level where you can read the written word, wouldn’t it be safe to guess that you have probably encountered a pull tab before? I’m thinking even a five year old could master the skills needed for this without instructions…

Which leads to today’s picture: The Most Inane Warning!

Yes, I took a picture of the actual warnings included with my hair straightener (hey, sometimes even a middle-aged gal likes to look purty!) and number nine made me laugh. I know lawyers were involved with this, but really….IS this a big problem? Isn’t it kind of like saying “don’t operate heavy machinery when you are dead”?

This website, Wacky Warning Labels, was featured in the news a few days ago and it has some truly rediculous warnings. (They also have their own agenda to push, but there is still some amusing stuff there).

The web abounds with this kind of stuff, but one of the funniest responses to the instructions on the box to NOT to stick Q-tips in your ears is found here. Come on, admit it…you used them in your ears, too. Unless, of course, you are my husband or his father, since they use their car keys!

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Gustaf Tenggren 
(Gustaf Tenggren illustration from  ASIFA-Hollywood) I havc this book and used this very picture as the basis for making a model clay Pegasus, which won me an “A” in Latin class…yes, Latin).

Another ice/snow storm (the third in a week!) has led me to do more inside exploring rather than outside once again.

In my last post, I forgot to link to the ASIFA Hollywood Animation Archive. There’s really some amazing stuff there. It’s purpose;

“the archive will be primarily dedicated to the use of artists, voice actors and other creative people working in the artform of animation. It will function as the ultimate artist’s “clip file”, gathering together hundreds of thousands of digital files.”

Not only can you spend hours looking at all the cool stuff there, but if you have ever wanted to learn how to draw cartoons/animated characters they have an entire drawing course all laid out online for FREE. (Well, OK, you do have to invest $8 bucks in a Preston Blair book if you want to get anything out of it…but hey, that seems pretty reasonable).

All of this makes me think of some of my favorite comic strips, like Calvin and Hobbes (and, incidentally Mr. Watterson lives not all that far from me…OK, like 2 hours away…not that I know him or have his address…I’m just saying) and Mutts and This Modern World…..and, oh, so many more.

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The Cat Came Back film

This is kind of the lame way to blog…by putting up YouTube links…but there’s so much good stuff there. I stumbled across this classic animated short and couldn’t resist.

Watched this at a film festival in an historic old movie theater many years ago (with my Mom, so I must have been in high school still). Enjoy!

(It is about 7 minutes long, FYI).

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Ice storm

Had a big ‘ole ice storm today around these parts. So, I stayed inside and watched a few movies: Hot Fuzz {yarp!}; Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang; Mr. & Mrs. Smith {the Hitchcock one in good old black and white!} Happy Feet; Impact {again, in black and white}.

Out of all of those, I had to turn off Happy Feet after 10 minutes. Sorry, not my kind of movie. I found it to be like nails on a chalkboard.

That’s not to say I don’t enjoy my share of schmaltz…in fact, I spent some time today browsing I Can Has Cheezburger and Cute Overload (which somewhat inspired the title…the behbeh part..with this picture from a place just down the street from me).

Also, in an effort to cheer myself up, I have gone back to reading some older Terry Pratchett novels (his new stuff just isn’t cutting it for me…I’ll stick with Granny Weatherwax). Hard to pick just one, but I would rank Hogfather as right up at the top of his best.

Well, it looks very pretty but slippery outside and I expect the commute tomorrow will be a bit tricky. So, with that I’m for bed.

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