Saturday, August 11, 2007

Back to Back to School

For some reason I’ve had an incredibly difficult time writing this post. I’ve started it numerous times but failed to finish it, and here I am starting it completely over once again. It shouldn’t be that big of a deal. The main news is that the summer semester is over. As a student, I wrapped up my directed readings course on free will with a successful grade but less than stellar self-esteem. As an instructor, I finished out my first semester of teaching feeling slightly sorry for those students who had to be my guinea pigs. I’m sure I’ll be much better at things the next time around, so this semester was both a blessing and a curse in that regard. Anyway, here’s some other school related goings-on for your reading pleasure:

Great Things Come in Twos
As part of my fellowship, I was guaranteed to teach five classes during my second year as a graduate student—two classes one semester, three classes the other semester. I wasn’t given a choice about whether I’d be teaching two or three in the fall and three or two in the spring. I was really hoping to teach two in the fall, since I know fall will be an incredibly busy semester for me. I’ll be working on a thesis, teaching classes, taking at least one class for credit, and applying out to Ph.D. programs. It’s enough to give me an aneurysm just thinking about it. And so it is that I’m happy to report, I’ve received official word and I will only be teaching two classes in the fall. If only the fall semester weren’t starting so darn soon (August 20th)!

Hey, Where You Going?
Speaking of applying to Ph.D. programs, this is a subject that’s been weighing on my mind quite a bit lately. It will only be a few months before I’ll be buried in the application process, a fact that is simultaneously daunting and exhilarating. I think I’ve narrowed the “definitely applying” list down to six schools, while a few other schools remain on the “maybe” list. To give you an idea of where I might be headed a year from now, here is the “definitely applying” list (in alphabetical order):

Cornell UniversityIthaca, NY
Florida State UniversityTallahassee, FL
Indiana University-BloomingtonBloomington, IN
University of California-RiversideRiverside, CA
University of North Carolina-Chapel HillChapel Hill, NC
University of Notre DameSouth Bend, IN

I couldn’t honestly tell you which school I’d choose to go to if it were up to me. It used to be Notre Dame, but I’m not 100% sure about that anymore. FSU and UC-Riverside are supposedly the best schools for the particular area of philosophy that I am most interested in, which means they should be my top choices. And they probably are. The only thing giving me pause is that these schools are not as strong in my secondary interests, nor are they as highly ranked overall. I don’t know how much those facts should play into my decision. As a doctoral student, I may get too submerged in my main research topic for it to matter what other strengths the school has. But no need to worry about that now. First I have to get accepted somewhere. I won’t know anything about that for another six months at least. I’ll update you then.

No Viagra Needed!
After several weeks of struggling to get it up, I finally figured out how to get the pull-down projector screen to retract after class. You may remember that this was a skill that completely eluded me for the bulk of the summer semester. Finally, I was fortunate enough to witness another teacher work his magic and I immediately realized what I had been doing wrong all this time. I was going too slow. I swear the instructions printed on the handle of the screen tell you to slowly retract it, but that’s apparently very bad advice. You’ve got to do it right quick, like you’re performing some sleight of hand. Sadly I didn’t learn this trick of the trade until just recently, so I didn’t benefit from it much this semester. But watch out this fall, because I’ll be putting the power back into PowerPoint! (Or at least the pow. Or maybe just the p.)


  1. Are you trying to shock me into old age? That Viagra bit almost killed me... until I kept reading :)

    I say come to Oregon! Lots of trees, lots of green living, more like your old home Utah than the other places. I do wish you luck in applying -- I watched my friend who is where you are now go through this and it was hard. I hope the process goes smooth for you and your family. At least you have a little time.

    And at the risk of sounding too poetic; wherever you end up is where you're meant to be.

  2. I agree with the viagra sentiments- I felt quite embarrassed. I must admit to a quick excitement that maybe you were pregnant again, but... very funny. You crack me up! I'm glad your schedule worked out. It's crazy to think of all you will be doing. I pray for you and hope it all turns out right. I'm sure it will and I wish you the best!

  3. Viagra....hahahahahah!!!!that was well done. YOu do have skill with words. Just keep breathing, sweetie. Everything will turn out good. Love you...

  4. Hi Ben, we met once in SLC. I'm with Kendra. What's your philosophical focus? I am a grad. student in philosophy at Colorado State -- will be suffering again soon over Ph.D. apps to places like Notre Dame, Purdue, Wisconsin, Yale, etc. It's like a sick part-time job, or an obsession. But thank God for something.


  5. Hey JT, I know who you are. Wouldn't it be wild if we both ended up at Notre Dame? Actually, UT-Austin was one of my top contenders for a while, so I thought I might run into you in that town, but you've since moved on (as you are well aware).

    As for my philosophical focus, I've been doing the free will thing mostly. I've always wanted to do a lot in philosophy of religion, but I've yet to study it as much as I'd like. I have secondary and/or burgeoning interests in phil of mind, ethics (not applied ethics), and action theory more generally. I'm never sure how everything gets cataloged, but I believe I have a general interest in "rational choice," but I think mostly in ways that I would think can equally be considered action theory and/or ethics. Historically, I'd like to study more ancient philosophy and early modern.

    So how about yourself? Are you looking to do phil of religion? Thanks for stopping by, and feel free to drop me a line via email. Kendra had my email address, at least once upon a time. I'll send her a line and let her know to pass it onto you.

  6. you are the king great benny k...
    hmmm was looking at your list. interesting. if you have the choice and you're a little worried about the secondary courses and its about even and all that, i would sugest looking at where it is located and only then let it factor in as a tie breaker kind of thing. like, where you would like to be, see. or would be better for family. or has less hurricanes or will keep you more peaceful kind of thing.
    good luck, let me know!