A blog about Politics, Texas, and Academia

Archive for the ‘Academia’ Category

I’m Only On Day 2? Should I Be This Exhausted?

In 2009 Presidential Inauguration, Academia, Barack Obama, Washington D.C. on January 12, 2009 at 3:23 am

theresa-heather-and-abe-11109

The beginning of my second day in DC took off at full speed and never came to a complete stop until I crawled in bed at midnight. Today was a day of reflection, appreciation, and admiration for a nation that we share. At times I found myself tearing up at the various war monuments. The tears were not just an expression of sadness for those who have bravely given their life for our freedom, but also for the pride and progress that we have made in our great country.

This morning’s seminar began with an ice-breaker exercise which allowed us to get to one another. Not only do we have students representing 47 states (plus the District of Columbia and Guam), but also 14 countries from around the world. Students from far away places such as Ecuador, South Korea, and Ghana have made their way to The Washington Center. We have students who have attended the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, campaigned for presidential candidates, and interned for local congressmen. Of course we had the some “Have you ever…” questions as well. Students came up to the stage to do political impersonations: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sarah Palin, and George W. Bush. However, the latter seemed to draw the loudest applause and laughter when the impersonator ducked just as a pair of shoes came flying straight toward him. When the audience was asked if anyone had ever sang the National Anthem at a major event, a student responded and made her way to the stage where she delivered a beautiful rendition of our national hymn.

By looking around the audience and seeing the diversity of such a gathering, I realized that my goal for this week’s seminar would be to learn how we have progressed in civic engagement not only as individuals, but as a nation. I understand that the most obvious example of this progression is the election of our incoming president, but what were the circumstances of progression in this election that stood out amongst all past elections? Was this only a door opening for future progression and is it possible for this nation to continue to move forward in future campaigns and elections? I would hope to walk away from this experience with the confidence that America has only cracked the door open for such a movement, but the fact is that the door IS now open.

We had our official introduction to the Academic Seminar Staff, Senior Faculty and Student Life. A program overview was also outlined. Our speakers then had their turn: CNN Senior Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash and Dr. Michael Genovese of Loyola Marymount U. were today’s guests.

As Bash came to the microphone, I felt excited to see someone on stage that I could instantly recognize. I found her candor to be authentic as she referred to topics such as objectivity and bias in the media, the McCain/Palin ticket–including the turning point in his campaign, and the differences of working “on the beat” for campaigns versus on the elite Capitol Hill. In regards to bias in the media and what seemed to be like preferential media time to Obama, Bash said that media did appear to do so but because of the demand from its audience. She stated that people in general like a new phenomenon such as Obama and because of the factor, the media appeared to give positive preferential treatment to Obama which in turn left Hillary Clinton sitting on the sidelines–just as Saturday Night Live captured  in a skit portraying the two candidates in a CNN debate. Therefore, those that create scandal or controversy will seem to exude negativity from the media. Even this evening I keep hearing Bash saying, “Obama No-Drama and you can’t cover the Clinton’s without drama.”

I’m also looking forward to hearing Dr. Genovese return tomorrow. Just reading the introduction in his latest book made me appreciate how someone with his level of expertise can also stand back and recognize his own pompousness when suggesting a memo to an incoming president. Would his background in academia and research make his memo any better than my own? I’ll soon be finding this out as my own essay assignment is to write a memo to the incoming president.

By the way, the day wasn’t just filled with academic instruction and lecture. In fact, today’s seminar session was over by noon! We had a quick lunch, met with our faculty adviser, then boarded buses according to assigned group names. The groups were named after candidates from the 2008 election.  I got placed in the Edwards group which had to make me laugh when I saw a picture of him and his “I’m so innocent” grin taped to the front window of the bus. Once my Edwards buddies and were seated, Bob our bus driver / tour guide showed us the sites of DC in a little under three hours. Why am I so exhausted? In that short period of time we made our way to and disembarked at the following:

Along the way Bob would point out places such as Arlington National Cemetery, the Watergate Hotel, the Kennedy Center, the George Washington Bridge, the Hay-Adams Hotel (the Obama’s current residence) and the U.S. Capitol (we couldn’t get any closer because apparently there’s some big special event this week 😉 ).

At the WWII Memorial, the VP’s motorcade drove by. Whether it was Cheney or Biden riding behind the dark glass was anyone’s guess, although I have convinced myself that it was Biden. I didn’t have a chance to get cold in the 28 degrees weather because I seemed to drop into powerwalk mode every time I stepped off the bus.

While some workers were busy aligning what looked like miles of port-o-potties in front of the Lincoln Memorial and the surrounding war memorials, others were busy constructing the platform where Obama will be standing when he gives his speech next Monday, a.k.a Martin Luther King Jr. Day. My roommate and I have decided to brave the weather and early morning hours amongst millions of others on that day to witness Obama’s pre-Inauguration speech. A speech which will be given in the very same place where King spoke, “I have a dream…” Gives me goosebumps to think about such an event.

As Bob told us goodnight and dropped us off at Union Station, I was thankful for not only being given this opportunity to be in DC for such a special inauguration (thank you UST!), but also for having the opportunity to witness and be a part of a transition of power from one party to another in such a manner like no other county does.

Pictured above: My roommate and I with the ginormous Abraham Lincoln

Note: More flikr photos to be posted soon. I maxed out my free account with pictures from today; therefore, I have upgraded to a larger account which will now include video and unlimited photos. Check back tomorrow!

UPDATE: It’s bad enough that our cable isn’t working in the apartment, but as I was working on today’s post the internet connection was lost. I’m now in the basement using a computer room that has limited access to the desktop computers. Thus, I can’t use my thumbdrive to upload pictures. Guess it’s going to be an early morning at Starbucks. Check back Wednesday for a post and pictures. Flikr pics will be loaded as well.

Advertisements

I’ve Made My Way to DC

In 2009 Presidential Inauguration, Academia, Barack Obama, Washington D.C. on January 10, 2009 at 10:45 pm

washington-dc-015

Well, the day finally came. I left Bush Intercontinental Airport at 7:30am this morning and arrived in our nation’s capital a little before 11:00am. My biggest adventure today was just getting from the airport to my apartment on the Metrorail.

Having memorized my route and sporting my neckbrace (for those who may not know, I fractured some vertebrae in my neck so I’m supposed to wear this hideous thing even to Washington DC) I tried to remember all the advice that many have been so kind to give me:

  • walk and act confident; don’t look like a tourist
  • keep your wallet in front of you
  • don’t open your wallet to get your Metro pass out – keep it in your pocket
  • be aware of your surroundings and constantly look behind you
  • never take your hands off of your suitcases
  • don’t eat/drink on the rail…even if you’re dying of hunger and thirst – you’ll get a ticket…seriously

and so on…

I did just as I was told and made my way from Ronald Reagan National to Grosvenor Tower in North Bethesda, Maryland.

I checked in, got my free swag and keys and made my way to the 16th floor. One other roommate had already arrived, but she was fast asleep in the bed that she had staked out. I went to the second bedroom, choose the bed with the window view and settled in. I ditched the neck brace and just sat on the bed, looking out of my window. I was so exhausted having lugged my suitcases around and grimacing with each stubborn start off and on each escalator and rail. I’ve been able to spend the last four weeks doing very little while using pain management for my neck. I almost canceled my trip last week because of the fact that the pain had not diminished. Today’s adventure has taken a lot out of me and has left me in no condition to go exploring this evening. However, there is still plenty of time for that.

There’s supposed to be 6 of us sharing a 2 bedroom/2 bath apartment; however, as of 10:30pm three of them are MIA.

My biggest disappointment so far is that unless you have a car, you cannot walk to anything without taking the Metro. We were not allowed to rent cars because of limited parking space. I have now found out that many people actually reside in these high rise apartments so they get first priority in terms of parking. In any case, the attendants in the lobby said that there is a small little store on the bottom floor of an adjacent building. My roommates and I were off in the freezing rain to get some basics for our empty refrigerator.

After spending twice as much as one should at the grocery store and bringing home very little to show for it, we made our microwavable dinners and skimpy salads. Only after the 6pm orientation were we told that there is a Safeway only two stops down the way via the Metro. Nice tidbit to have known BEFORE I spent $20 on lettuce, tomatoes, oatmeal, water, salad dressing, paper bowls. and plastic ware.

With the apartment to myself (my roomies went out to get mugged exploring). I got in my jammies, put my soft brace on, and crawled into bed. I’ll probably fall asleep while starting my first assignment: reading the first 59 pages of Michael A Genovese’s Memo to a New President: The Art and Science of Presidential Leadership.

I’m glad that I didn’t cancel my trip after all. Even sporting a neck brace and hearing the constant popping and clunking in my neck (what is that???) I’ll be able to share in an event that many thought they would never see in their lifetime.

Tomorrow will be another adventure indeed.

My Journey to D.C. Will Begin Soon

In Academia, Barack Obama, Election 2008, Politics, Washington D.C. on December 1, 2008 at 1:25 pm

bush-uhaul

A whirlwind of events have occurred since I last blogged. My fellow Houstonians and I have somewhat recovered from Ike, our nation has a new president-elect, Halloween and Thanksgiving has come and gone, and we are quickly approaching the Christmas season. Work and family have kept me busy along with my graduate studies. Additionally, my husband just received orders for a deployment to Iraq next year so any free time that I’ve had is now spent with the National Guard Family Readiness and Yellow Ribbon Programs.

However, I did receive some good news In October. I was awarded a scholarship to attend an academic seminar that will take place in Washington, D.C. in January. The Washington Center is offering the Presidential Inauguration Academic Seminar which explores the new administration and the role that the media has in the process of the campaign, election, and presidency. The best part about the program is that it concludes during the Presidential Inauguration; therefore, I will be in the nation’s capitol to witness the historical swearing in of Barack Obama as the U.S.’s first African American president.

Once I found out that I would be making the trip to D.C., I got on the phone and began contacting the offices of my local senators and representatives to get my name on the list for inauguration tickets. I’m glad that I did this early, but we’ll see how that pans out. Even if I don’t get an actual ticket, I’ll be able to see the parade and attend some other parties/balls. I’m even going to dinner at the Chamber of Commerce while I’m there.

As part of my scholarship and the graduate credit that I’ll be earning, I’ll be blogging from the capitol daily and presenting a paper at our annual research symposium on campus in the spring. I’ve agreed to some local PR and a contribution the university magazine. For someone who never enjoyed writing anything longer than an I.O.U., I have found myself in the land of research and journal papers.

For now I’ll be doing the occasional blogging about events related to the big January day such as shopping for a ball gown (oh dear God),  an inauguration ticket confirmation, and maybe an Obama staff appointment or two.

The end of the fall term and January is right around the corner; there’s still so much to do.

I’m off to reserve a U-Haul truck for our current sitting Prez. 😉 (Is it just me or did Bush look like he was ready to hand over the White House keys right then to Obama during the recent tour?)

Humor: Academic Salaries

In Academia, Humor on October 22, 2008 at 8:57 am

😀 From PhD Comics:

How to Fail Tests with Dignity

In Academia, Humor on October 9, 2008 at 2:11 pm

😀

Should Assistant College Professors Get Paid More Than Tenured Professors?

In Academia, College, Education on September 7, 2008 at 4:31 pm

Here’s the question: Should assistant professors be paid more than tenured ones? James Miller of Inside Higher Ed defends this argument and examines how this concept may benefit colleges (while ticking off a whole bunch of tenured profs!):

Assistant professors in many ways have harder jobs than tenured professors do. They have more pressure to publish. They usually spend more time on class preparation because they have taught their classes relatively few times. And, keeping in mind their looming tenure bids, they often feel compelled to be more deferential to their senior colleagues than they would prefer. Those who care about economic fairness consequently should support the idea of assistant professors making more than tenured professors. And those who care about markets should understand that the less pleasant the job, the higher salary you must pay to attract top talent.

Job security is a large part of tenured professors’ compensation. So even if a tenured professor has a somewhat lower monetary salary than an assistant professor does, he probably, over all, receives more total compensation than his non-tenured colleagues. After all, I suspect few tenured professors who are not superstars or close to retirement would agree to exchange, say, $3,000 in extra salary in return for abandoning tenure.

I can see the whole logic behind the busyness of assistant professors but hmmm… I know a few tenured professors that work just as hard, but also know of several that are nothing but slugs. Besides, isn’t part of the reward of being tenured is that you’ve already worked your tail off to get there?

This discussion leaves me wondering what UST professors think…

Read the rest of his article here.

TGIF Humor – Cluelessness

In Academia, Education, Humor on August 29, 2008 at 9:03 am

As we head into a three day holiday weekend, I thought that we could all use a little humor. For all of you who work or go to school, you’ll appreciate this.

From despair.com:

 

 

 

College Humor: Ninjas vs. Professors

In Academia, College, Humor on July 9, 2008 at 10:42 pm

From PhDComics.com:

Heh 😉

Grad Student Humor: What Do You Do?

In Academia, College, Humor on June 17, 2008 at 11:23 am

From June 16th’s PhD Comics: