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Belated update

Right now I should be grading or preparing for classes, but honestly I’m three blog posts behind where I wanted to be by now (I haven’t forgotten my WisCon promise to make a post about tabletop roleplaying games) and fighting a pretty nasty headache. So what if I take a short break to make a blog post about the very many things going on in my life?

New job!

First things first: I work full-time now! There was an opening for a full-time Computer Information Technology and Data Analytics professor at the community college where I was teaching as an adjunct (in Data Analytics) in the spring. I knew I liked the students here, my departmental colleagues, and my bosses, so I applied. It’s academia, so the process took all semester and well into the summer, but eventually I was offered and accepted the position! I’m an Assistant Professor! (Hah, yes, again. But as teaching faculty, rather than library faculty, this time.) I get to help build our fledgling Data Analytics program, which is a rare thing for a community college and an exciting development for Southwestern Pennsylvania.

This first semester has been a lot, I won’t lie. I’m teaching five 3-credit classes and co-teaching a sixth with a colleague. Of those, only Python 1 and Data Analytics 1 (the one I’m co-teaching) are courses I’ve (we’ve) taught before, and I had the brilliant idea to go and change the textbook for Python. So for now, my whole life is given over to preparing lectures to go with new-to-me textbooks, wrangling Blackboard, planning assignments/projects/tests, and grading.

Next semester looks a little easier, in some ways: provided things don’t change much between now and then (heh), I’ll solo teach Data Analytics 1, plus a brand new course (Data Analytics 2: Forecasting and Regressions and Stuff … uh, that isn’t the official title, but if that sounds like something you’ve taught or taken, I’d love to see a syllabus!), Python again (without changing the book this time), intro to computers (which I taught this semester), and our HTML/CSS course (which a colleague is generously willing to share materials for). There’s an experimental course in the works, which, if I end up involved, I’ll split with something like three other faculty members for a very small overage; if that doesn’t run, I’ll split an independent study with a colleague, so we can graduate the first student from the Data Analytics program(!!!).

I’m excited to be here! I’m very tired, right now, because it’s so much work to put this many courses together and because I didn’t optimize well for sleep when I was planning my schedule for this semester. But I really enjoy teaching, and I have an excellent officemate (we share offices, here, and I had a lot of anxiety about where I’d be placed, so this is huge). Most of my department has been really welcoming and helpful, and they seem genuinely pleased that I’m here, which feels good. I’ve made some friends outside of the department, too, so coming in to work is always pleasant, even if I happen to be tired and/or headachy now and then. And it isn’t too hard to imagine a future when I’ve taught most of my courses a couple of times and they aren’t quite so overwhelming to put together.

Non-work things

Dale and I have reason to believe we’re going to have to move in the near future. (We haven’t been told anything official by anyone official, but we’ve received some news unofficially that, combined with our current month-to-month lease, is pretty clear in its implications.) The timing isn’t great, given everything I just said about being super busy, but then again, my commute is half an hour without traffic, right now. So we’ve started the process of putting an offer on a house, much closer to my work and still not far from Dale’s work. (It’s so perfect! I don’t want to lovingly describe it right now, in case it falls through, but wow, it would be so fantastic if it all works out!)

We also adopted a bird. Well, two birds since the last time I posted. One was found flying around wild in town. Her name is Pepper, and she is a beautiful girl cockatiel. (The animal rescue named her “Matthew McCockatiel,” which is a great name, but she’s definitely a girl.) She hates hands, so we don’t get to pick her up or anything–we hold out hope that she’ll come to trust us with time–but she likes having us around, and she and Phoebe get along pretty well. The other, someone on the internet posted about needing to find a home for, and I really needed a people-loving bird, since neither Phoebe nor Pepper are especially social with humans. His name is Oliver Scribbner, but we just call him “Mr. Scribbner” or “Scribbner” or “Scribbs” or “buddy” … you know how it is with pets. He wants to hang out with us pretty much the whole time we’re home and he’s awake. He makes microwave sounds when he goes into the kitchen and tries to steal our food and is just generally a great little bird. 💛🧡

Here are three of our four birds (we also have a parakeet who is a cranky old man, but still beautiful and deeply invested in bothering the cockatiels), from left to right, Phoebe, Pepper, and Scribbner:

In my minimal spare time (read: when I am too tired to do something productive but too wound up to sleep) I’ve been watching Star Trek: Deep Space 9 and Star Trek: Voyager with Dale, in preparation for the new Picard series. And also because I’ve never watched them all the way through. We watched Star Trek: The Next Generation this summer. Without bringing this post too far down, I feel like I should acknowledge aloud that I wish I’d done this a couple of years ago, so I could talk about all of my Star Trek feelings with my dad, who was a Trekkie and who would have enjoyed arguing about whether Neelix or Tom Paris is worse and other vital issues. Secretly, I kind of like DS9 better than Voyager, but Janeway is forever my captain, given her science nerd heart and deep need for coffee.

I also finally broke down and bought a Nintendo Switch so that I could play Untitled Goose Game (and ABZÛ and Pokémon and Katamari Damacy and probably Let’s Dance and …). I’ve been enjoying that, albeit somewhat sporadically. I’m looking forward to (fingers crossed! we hope!) playing Switch games for hours at a time in a comfortable reading chair in our new house, or maybe even on a porch(!), this May.

WisCon will hopefully get its own post(s), but (speaking of May?) I do want to say that I plan to attend again next year, and if anyone wants to make any plans around that (panels? fun Madison things? roadtripping or taking the train together?), I’m open to it!

Published inbirdsblackboardccacclassesgaminghiring and employmenton a personal noteprogrammingpythonteaching and learning

One Comment

  1. Steve Johnson

    Happy to read of your new gig, a great change from twenty first century reference, and delighted to learn you have been to WisCon. My last sfnal con was WisCon in 1979. WisCons were more enjoyable than many of the library & archives I attended in life prior to retirement from work. No more cons for me now.

    Have not kept birds since the last of our Monk Parakeets died decades past — though in years more recent than that WisCon! Down to dogs and cat now. No more birds or snakes at home, only birds in the yard: no snakes in Alaska.

    Just read today that a former teacher from Madison days, Kathleen de la Pena McCook, received KN4IJM in 2017. How cool! I am inspired to follow her example.

    Best wishes from past almost a colleague,

    Steve Johnson
    (formerly of ARLIS and USFWS in Anchorage)

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