Friday, December 5, 2014

A suggestion for a college sliding inexorably into decay and mediocrity owing to its shitty "leadership" that the goddam board seems to love

maggot: a soft-bodied legless larva, esp.
that of a fly found in decaying matter

The A400 "Beam Signing BBQ event" is a hit

Click on photos to enlarge them

     As you know, some of us—including the long-suffering (i.e., perpetually facilities-deprived) faculty of the School of Humanities—will be moving into new professional digs in a few months.
     Some sort of milestone has now been reached in the construction of A400—the structural steel/frame is done, more or less, I guess. At today's festivities, designed to mark the occasion, someone asked, hopefully, whether the project is about half-way done. The chief construction guy said, "ish," and that got a laugh.
     Somebody (I know not who) hatched this idea of having the future denizens of A400 sign a construction beam, now that beamage is done. So a corner beam was painted white and, today, after the BBQ (provided, I think, by a local caterer—no doubt paid for by the college I'm now told that the construction folks paid for the food), we wandered over to that beam and commenced scrawlin' signatures and small messages. (Most of them, predictably, were decorous. E.g., "Give us bookshelves or give us death!")

The event was well attended. The construction folks were invited and seemed
to have a good time.
That's A400 in the background.
Vice President for Instruction, Craig Justice, was on hand, as was the Dean of
the Schools of Humanities, Languages & Learning Resources, and Social
& Behavioral Sciences.
Craig noted that some of the faculty who await the opening of A400 were
compelled to deal with "wildlife" this week, a sly reference to our notorious
dead rat episode. Dean Feldhus declared that A400 will be "the most
beautiful building on campus."
Here's the actual beam signing. Diane Oaks was on hand to take a group pic.
Rebel Girl made a point of inscribing the names of the original faculty of the School of Humanities and Languages (1979)
Construction, early this morning

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The maggoty rat, part II

From a DtB post of nine years ago
     Late Monday, I related the adventure of the maggoty dead rat, which played out here in our dreary corner of Irvine Valley College on Monday morning (there is no older and more decrepit zone, at IVC, than that ramshackle addition cobbled onto A200 about thirty-five years ago).
     Naturally, one of the asynaptic cretinoids who persist in monitoring our blog, and who seek to torment us with the occasional illiterate and idiotic "quip," weighed in with the unpleasant suggestion that our ratty fate was our own fault, the result of our leaving out food. But, in fact, the Reb and I are vegetarians and are pretty fussy about food. Further, owing to our aversion to ratitude (and maggotude and mousitude and various other itudes) we are routinely careful not to leave out food. Hence, we long ago acquired a little refrigerator for perishables and a hermetically sealed container for everything else.
     So there.

Wall repair made Thursday morning
Scene of the rat slime
* * *
     Today, I found that our little adventure was a topic of conversation throughout the halls of our benighted little college. One or two instructors informed me that they had discussed "the maggoty rat" with their students, who were much amused. Others with whom I spoke had run into administrators who seemed curiously up to speed on the whole business.
     “Really? They knew about our rat?”
     Today, as I returned from my 9:30 class, I found two colleagues climbing around the dirt and plants just outside my office window. Their eyes were trained on the outside correlative to the inside corner of my office, where I found the aforementioned rat-'n'-maggots blob Monday morning. “Yes,” announced one colleague, “this office is easily accessible to rats right there.” He pointed downward.
     I, of course, was staring at these colleagues from the inside. I glanced down at the portion of the office wall in question: yes, there was something like a hole there. Big enough, it seemed, for rat entry.
     Later, my dean came by. She, too, had heard about the rat episode from various colleagues. She had not, however, read my DtB account.
     “You should read it,” I said. “In my post, I made a point of singing the praises of the maintenance crew who helped us out and saved us from stinkitude and ratitude.”
     She nodded. “That's good.”
     Throughout the day (I stayed until nearly 5:00 p.m.), various colleagues came by to inspect the now-legendary maggot zone, which, in truth, betrays no indication of its recent repulsive state. One colleague said, “Yeah, I popped in yesterday morning, and I saw at least 300 maggots wriggling on the floor there where you grabbed that dead rat.”
     I thanked her for the detail. I hadn't noticed all those maggots on the floor. They were sucked up by the maintenance crew before I had returned to the scene after having grabbed and disposed of the odious rat bundle.
A year or so ago, lots of "cricket shit" was found in some A200 walls.
* * *
     Two or three years ago, during a rain storm, a puddle actually formed in that very piece of real estate now known as the rat zone. At the time, the problem was addressed via large fans placed in the hallway with the air directed outside through the rear door. Those fans roared all day long.
     People said: “OK, that'll dry out the carpet. But why don’t they fix the cause of the problem? The building clearly leaks like a sieve!”
     Supposedly, "they" did fix the problem, but I have my doubts.

* * *
     A year or so ago, our office (along with one or two contiguous offices) were surrounded by red or yellow police tape. Upon these office doors were affixed official notices alerting passers-by to the grave mold dangers within.
     That was, of course, the notorious 2013 A200 mold scare, not to be confused with the even more dire 2005 A200 mold scare (see).

It never ends
* * *
     Naturally, this "rat" business has been a source of amusement more than alarm—largely, I think, because we in the School of Humanities (and the School of Languages & Learning Resources) are all looking forward to being moved to a brand new building (A400) in late Spring or Fall.
     We are assuming, of course, that our new digs will be rat- and mold- and puddle-free.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Post-holiday funkitude (a big dead rat avec maggots)

     This morning, after six straight days of holidayness, I entered my office, whereupon I was struck by a severe funk.
     Fish? Fungus? I had no time to identify the source; I grabbed a dry erase marker and rushed off to my first class.
     I returned at 10:50 or so, noticing Rebel Girl down the hall. She had not yet entered our miasma. Natch, it was still stinkin’. Soon, the Reb entered, whereupon I said, “It’s funky in here. Don’t know why.” She crinkled her nose. “It stinks in here,” she said. “Fish?” She started poking around. “Why would there be fish in our office?” she said.
     I too got up and looked around. I soon found what appeared to be an amorphous pile of rat nesting, plus assorted rat turds, in the corner, just below our office window (which is sealed shut, but that’s another story). It was kind of dark back there and the “nest” was gray with hair or something, so I really couldn’t make out much.
     “Looks like a rat’s nest,” I said.
     The Reb was horrified. “A rat’s nest?!” she exclaimed.
     Off I went to a restroom to grab seven or eight paper towels, an ersatz prophylactic. In the meantime, the Reb had gone down the hall, no doubt alerting friends to our entertaining post-holiday predicament. Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor rat-in-office fails to amuse the Reb, our little hamlet's town crier.
     Upon entering the empty office, I reached down behind my desk with my left arm, then semi-blindly covered the “nest” with my paper-protected paw. To my surprise, my hand clutched, not a fluffy nest, but some dense material, with weight. I sensed no movement. I pushed down hard into the carpet and grabbed around the entity, pulling it up. It was stuck to the floor some but gave way.
     I looked at my catch: it was a big dead rat avec maggots. Weren't no nest at all. No sir.
     I immediately registered thankfulness that the Reb had chosen that moment to leave the office. Off I went out the door and out of the building, unnoticed. I attempted a nonchalant stroll toward the trash receptacle twenty or so feet north of the coffee truck, which was crowded with customers. In it went. Nobody noticed a thing. Result!
     After a careful washing of hands (lots of soap and hot water), I returned to my office, whereupon I encountered two or three maintenance workers who had somehow been alerted to the situation. They scrambled for vacuums and sprays and descended upon the hideous corner, which, I’m told, still sported residual maggotry and turds. The Reb and I decided to wait at the nearby faculty lounge while these heroic workers took care of business, which they did with great speed and efficiency. Hell, they even unscrewed our window, and slid it wide open! They wished us well and took off.
     I must say, these guys did a great job. It was service with a smile! After an hour or so, the air in our office was near normal. Whew!
     Tomorrow, when you buy your coffee at the coffee truck (just south of the Admin Building), be sure to visit the trash receptacle on the corner.
     If it’s seriously funky around there, well, it ain't the donuts.

8-14: do you regret all the lying?

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Goals and Values and Twaddle

blather: long-winded talk with no real substance*
The whole concept of MSLOs [measurable student learning outcomes] as the latest fad in education is somewhat akin to the now discredited fad of the '90's, Total Quality Management, or TQM. Essentially, the ACCJC adopted MSLOs as the overarching basis for accrediting community colleges based on their faith in the theoretical treatises of a movement.... After repeated requests for research showing that such use of MSLOs is effective, none has been forthcoming from the ACCJC [accreditors]. Prior to large scale imposition of such a requirement at all institutions, research should be provided to establish that continuous monitoring of MSLOs has resulted in measurable improvements in student success at a given institution. No such research is forthcoming because there is none….
The Accountability Game…., Leon F. Marzillier (Academic Senate for California Community Colleges, October, 2002)
In the summer of ’13, I offered a critique of the awkward verbiage by which the district and colleges explain their values, goals, and objectives —aka SOCCCD'S G&V (goals and values) blather.
I wrote a post each for the district, Saddleback College, and Irvine Valley College efforts. (See the links below.)
This verbiage—stated in terms of “values,” “missions,” “goals,” “visions,” and whatnot—is often badly written. It is sometimes embarrassingly trite.
It occasionally communicates something worthwhile.
No doubt you are familiar with the usual objections to jargon. Higher education, too, has its jargon—an irony, given typical college-level instruction in writing, which urges jargon eschewery.
Sure enough, SOCCCD G&V blather is riddled with jargon and with terms misused and abused. For instance, in the case of the district’s dubious blather, the so-called “vision” is actually a purpose. Why didn't they just call it that?
As one slogs through this prattle, one finds that "visions" tend to be awfully similar to “missions,” with which they are distinguished. The latter in turn are awfully similar to “goals,” which must be distinguished from “objectives.” But aren't goals and objectives pretty much the same thing?
These perverse word games will surely perplex or annoy anyone armed with a command of the English language. In fact, readers will be perplexed to the degree that they are thus armed. Illiterates, of course, will be untroubled.
Here's a simple point: the district and colleges’ G&V blather tends to eschew good, plain English in favor of technical terms and trendy words and phrases (i.e., it tends to be bullshitty and vague). Thus, one encounters such trendy terminological turds as “dynamic,” “diversity,” “student success,” and “student-centered.” Even meretricious neologisms such as ISLOs and “persistence rates” pop up, unexplained, undefended.
Does anyone see a transparency problem with all of this? Shouldn't the public, or at least the well educated public, be able to comprehend statements of the colleges' goals and values?
In the case of the district, to its credit, all it really seems to want to say is that it wants to teach well and it wants students to succeed. Admirable!
So why all the ugly, common-sense defying, buzzword-encrusted claptrap?

Districtular poppycock: our “vision” and our “mission” and our tolerance of twaddle - July 31, 2013

THEY BUZZ: Saddleback College's "Mission, Vision, and Values" - August 4, 2013

IVC’s vision, mission, and goals: nonsense on stilts - August 5, 2013

THE IRVINE VALLEY CHRONICLES: no ideas, just clichés & buzzwords - Sep 30, 2013

*From my Apple laptop's dictionary