Sunday, December 14, 2008

...And The Ones That Mother Gives You Don't Do Anything At All

I haven't been sick in a long time - maybe two years. Until Tuesday, that is - whereupon I was hit by a Mack truck of a head cold and have been pretty much bedridden ever since. My sinuses feel as if I've sucked up a bucket of water through a straw and I have no strength to do much of anything besides lay around and watch TV. Seriously. TV. Me.

Finals for my community college class were over Monday, so that was already out of the way. I did go in and test patient #2 in my tiny shiny new office Thursday morning (pictures soon), and I did let The Girl host movie night at our house again Friday night, but one was for the money and the other was to know where The Girl and her friends were and what they were doing with their time now that the neverending football season is finally over after the Fundietonfieldvilleview Weirdmascosts lost the 4th playoff game - they're usually only good for one or two.

Now, I know the only cure for a cold is seven days - essentially just letting it run its course. I'm not sure what's the wort part about having a cold, though: the sickness itself (for which there is still no cure because people never catch the same variant twice) or the medications available to "alleviate" the symptoms. None of the medicines really seem to "do" anything. The "__-Quil" meds just make me sleep - even the daytime variety. Warm bourbon, honey and lemon makes a great cough syrup if you can stomach bourbon and don't plan to drive anywhere. I also like a good homemade chicken or potato soup when I'm sick or the Lipton noodle soup in the packet - just toss out half of the yellow salt powder before trying to cook it or it's too salty. Ginger ale and Sprite or 7Up are good, too because my mom always gave me those when I was a little kid. So what do you reach for when you're suffering from a cold?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

H.M. Passes

H.M., a very famous neuropsychology patient, who had most of his temporal lobe and hippocampus (the purple bit in the picture) removed from both sides of his brain to control intractable seizures, passed away Tuesday at a nursing home in in Connecticut at the age of 82. He had been the subject of study for over 50 years and brought much new knowledge of the brain and memory to the field. His obituary can be found at the New York Times here.

In the interest of protecting his privacy, Mr. Henry Gustav Molaison was known to the world only as HM. I learned of him in my very first undergraduate introduction to psychology course (yes, the same course I teach at the local juco) back in 1986. I bet if you still have your intro psych text lying around somewhere, you can look up the chapter on memory and find him there. If he doesn't show up in the index under H.M. (which he usually doesn't), look under amnesia, hippocampus or memory, then flip to that section of the text. Go look - I'll wait. Then leave me a comment with the title, author and text where you found him.

A few books from my library that reference HM include:

Darby & Walsh (2005) Walsh's Neuropsychology: A Clinical Approach 5th ed. Elsevier; New York.

Kolb & Whishaw (2003) Fundamentals of Human Neuropsychology. Worth Publishers; New York.

Rosensweig, Leiman & Breedlove (1996) Biological Psychology. Sinauer; Sunderland, MA.

Wood, Wood & Boyd (2008) Mastering the World of Psychology 3rd ed. Allyn & Bacon; Boston. (this is the current intro psych text I use at the juco)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Prop 8 - The Musical

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Anticlimactic Acceptance - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more
Okay, so yesterday I received an email from Giant Corporate University Online that I've finally passed muster and have been accepted into the loving arms of the faculty body. The process, beginning with the request for my resume May 16, has been ridiculously long. I have participated in nearly six months of "training," including several ever-smaller classes and finally teaching my first undergraduate class with someone watching over my shoulder. The last part was a good thing because I had an experienced faculty member to mentor me through the process.

Don't get me wrong. In this economy I'm happy to have another dribble of income. Every little bit helps and I'd really like to keep my car and keep The Girl's tuition current. The Man still isn't working, hay season is over, and we're living off of savings and 401K. We're not starving but that pool of money isn't unlimited. I'm working the community college gig again - 2 Psych 101 classes early MWF, leaving me the rest of the day to see patients or whatever. It's a fun job and I've done it enough now that the class basically runs itself. I have full autonomy to run my classes and my policies as I see fit and can be as hard ass as I please. Interestingly enough, the students meet every challenge I set for them and all of them say I'm their favorite instructor. The GCUO job pays a little more and I can do it in my jammies, but I have to do things in such a politically correct manner and have to worry about the faculty development team snooping around looking for things to hold against me. It's not paranoia if they really are out to get you...

The thing is, I'm just not excited about GCUO. The students didn't seem to have a clue about academic rigor, the importance of using APA format when writing papers (in pursuit of a psychology degree!? -SERIOUSLY??), or even what constitutes a scholarly reference. A couple of the students were adequate but most of them needed to go back to junior high to learn how to write - and use spell check - and follow instructions. They got mad when I insisted that they learn to use the library system, maintain a high level of academic integrity, and do their own work without the expectation that I hold their hands or do the work for them. Then they whined about what a big fat meany I was when they were surveyed. --Yes, GCUO sends out customer satisfaction surveys to the students - and oddly enough their survey responses held a very strong positive correlation to their grades - go figure. The experience reminded me of a phrase I heard once, "Never try to teach a pig to dance. It wastes your time and annoys the pig."

The next few months are going to find me launching my private practice and I may be scraping for patients at first. So I think what I may do is just teach a GCUO class here and there when I need extra cash and wean myself off the corporate teat as my business picks up. At least I'll know up front the challenges that I'll face in dealing with students in a university with an open enrollment policy and no placement tests to sort them by academic level. Send positive energy my way. I'll need it.