First Week Of Work

It has been a few days since my last post, and it is just amazing how much I have to update on what has gone on up here.  Things have been quite busy, so that is why I have not been able to post much more frequently, but I will shoot to add a new update at least once a week until things settle down.  Well, my first week of work is in the books and was all was not completely well.  The day before my very first class, I put in a request to change classrooms so that I could be in a room that was equipped for podcasting my lectures.  It never occurred to me that the change would go through immediately and (even worse) it never occurred to me that this last-minute change was the reason why I had only half the class show up for the first day.  As it turned out, I was in the “old” classroom while half of the students were in the “new” classroom.  My department head sought me out afterwards just to reassure me and walked away saying that “at least I have a good story” about my first class at UWW.  He was right that I did have a story to tell, though it did not seem that “good” to me.  It also meant a lot the he would take the time to stop by and talk to me after this mishap – which is what I think the lasting impression of that first day will be for me.

So why did I want to switch rooms for podcasting lectures, and what is podcasting?  Well, podcasting is basically recording the audio and video of my lectures (both video of me and of the Powerpoint slides and whatever else I have on the computer) and putting making it available in a file that students can watch again at any time they wanted, either on their computer, iPod, or whatever plays audio and/or video files.  I did something similar the last few years at JSU, but I never recorded actual lectures – I would just sit down in front of my computer and record my voice over Powerpoint slides using screen recording software called Camtasia.  The technology at the new Business building at UWW is amazing, and in these ‘podcasting’ rooms, there is a video camera, a microphone I use, and microphones placed throughout the classroom for student’s voices to be heard – and to make it all happen, all you have to do is click a ‘record’ button to start, and when you click stop, the video will be automatically processed and made available for only my students to access – no work done on my part.  Amazing.  We’ll see how this goes this semester.  So why the podcasting of all my lectures?  Well, I am convinced that there will be some impact this semester in my classes with H1N1 (“swine flu”), so this will be a way to minimize the impact that this could have if any of my students (or myself) is unable to attend due to sickness.  I am sure that having my lectures recorded will also be a good study guide for my students, but really it is about preparing for H1N1.

Speaking of sickness, Ben has had a great time going to daycare at UWW with me every day.  After the second day (last week Thursday), Ben came home with a runny nose and has stuck ever since with an occasional cough.  I suspect this will not be the last bit of illness that he picks up from other kids at the daycare.  Ben really does have a good time there.  Jet was worried about how he might take adjusting to the new place and perhaps being too attached and not wanting to go.  But really, Ben has always wanted to go to “school” and every day that I have dropped him off into his classroom, he goes right to the toys to play and absolutely forgets I am even there.  I have tried getting his attention by saying “good bye”, but to no avail.  Most days when I pick Ben up in the afternoon (I drop him off at 7:30am and pick him up at around 4:00pm), he will run to me shouting “Daddy” and hug my legs.  That really is the highlight of my day.  It has also been great having Ben in the car for the long drive to and from UWW every morning.  For half of the drive we are on the freeway and Ben loves it when I catch and pass trucks – “Daddy – catch him, get him!”.  For the second half, I drive local and pass several horse ranches and farms with cows on them that Ben gets so very excited to see and keep an eye out for.  Also going local, there are a few hills that we go up and down on (Kettle Moraine area) that Ben first would say “Daddy, scared” anytime we approached.  Jet said it was because Ben’s stomach couldn’t take the motion that well.  Now Ben will just say, “Daddy, up-down, up-down”.  Then, of course, Ben and I get to singing in the car too, which just makes the whole drive a blast.  I am so happy that Jet agreed to send Ben to the UWW daycare.

Jet started her first day of work on Tuesday and all this week is just training for her.  The way she described her job to me yesterday, in loan mitigation (her new department) they deal with people having problems to pay off their loans.  There are two sides, one that cuts things off (goes to short sales/foreclosures) and one that helps out (restructures payments, etc.).  Jet is on the side that helps people out so that they can continue to make payments on their loans.  She has said that she will not have much interaction with customers, so I am not sure what role she will play in that process, but I am sure things will become clearer once I learn more about the job after she gets through training.

Still speaking of work, in my ‘introduction to IS’ class today, which all business students need to take, even if they are not a technology major, I will be having a fantasy football draft.  This idea came from another professor teaching the same class who actually doesn’t care much for sports.  My first thought was that it was a bad idea, but the more I thought about it, the more I liked it.  I could use the example of fantasy football to talk about lots of things related to technology, from databases, to information and decision-making, to software, to who knows what.  And when I first brought it up to my class last week on the first day, all of the guys in my class just about jumped out of their chairs with excitement.  It should be a fun project for the students to work on throughout the semester and I have said that I will give awards/prizes out to the winning team.  The biggest challenge is keeping the project manageable and simple because it is the first time I am doing something like this.  With 50-60 students, I had the class get into groups of 8 and I will only have 6 or 7 rounds in the fantasy football draft so that it can be done in one class session.  Hopefully it all goes well and I don’t have another horror story to tell about my first semester at UWW.  I will have story to tell, regardless.

Just another thing about that introduction to IS class that I just find amazing.  For the first assignment in all of my classes, I have students post a “student profile” on an online discussion forum that introduces the student, tells when they are available to meet (for future teammates), explains their previous computer background (if any), and something interesting about themselves.  This is a good, simple exercise just to get students using the online tools in the class and a good way to get to know who are in my classes.  There were some really interesting things that students posted, but none more amazing to me than one student in my introduction to IS class.  She said that she was a transfer student from Jacksonville State University.  I had to read that twice and then read it aloud to Dad and Jet because I could still hardly believe it.  In my last class I asked this student to stay behind so that I could talk to her – it was not hard to find her because she had a “Gamecocks” shirt on.  As it turns out, she was originally from Racine and got a full-ride scholarship to play volleyball at JSU, which she did for the past 2 years.  I didn’t ask why she came back to Wisconsin, but she is now playing volleyball for UWW.  She was about as surprised as I was when I told her that I was at JSU the last 3 years.  How amazing is that.  To have a transfer student from anywhere in the world, but come from JSU.  And then there are 6 or 7 different sections of the introduction to IS class – and she happens to be in mine.  Wow.  Just wow.

Last Sunday we spent the day at Uncle Marty’s cabin on Long Lake in Genesse, Wisconsin – a little more than an hour’s drive away.  It is a Labor Day tradition that we have done since I was a kid, but haven’t been able to do for the past 3 years since we have been in Alabama.  Jet and I got into a discussion about whether it was 3 or 4 years since we have been there.  I argued 4 years, but Jet felt it was more appropriate to say 3 because we missed the last 3 outings there.  But if we missed the last 3 outings, it has been at least 4 years since we were last there.  You can see how that discussion just went round and round.  Anyways, we all had a good time there with plenty of food to eat.  Jet even got on the lake, but since she didn’t have a swimsuit with her, did not go tubing.

Looking ahead, Kristin’s birthday is coming up on Saturday, so there are some things planned for that.  On Sunday we are planning to have brunch with Capt’n (Ronnie, my good friend from high school) and his girlfriend at the Apple Holler, which should be a great time picking apples and doing whatever.  Something else related to UWW that I did not bring up earlier is that I have joined an informal basketball pick-up session among faculty and staff that plays during the lunch hour Monday – Friday.  I will likely only play on Mondays and Wednesdays because I have class during that time on Tuesdays and Thursdays and am not on campus on Fridays.  It was something that my department chair invited me to and should be a good way to meet other people on campus and (somewhat) stay in shape.  I played for the first time yesterday and was just awful shooting the ball – not that I ever was that good.  The last time I played was last summer (2008) in Thailand and it showed.  Half of my shots were about a foot from hitting the rim and I probably made 20% of the shots I took – and I took plenty.  At least by the end of the lunch hour my team was prepared for my missed shots and were able to use them to score points.  It was a bit embarrassing, but how can I be embarrassed playing basketball anymore.  I just plain stink.  We’ll just see how things can improve from here.

Just a final word about the home search.  Our house in Alabama has still not sold.  Our agent has been telling us for weeks that she had a guy that would be relocating in the area in the end of August and would be perfect for our house.  That fell through.  There is supposedly another couple that is interested and will look again at the house this week, but we are not holding our breath.  Our agent says that at least we are getting traffic, which is a good sign.  I think all that we care about is getting the house sold, however, and it doesn’t matter how many people look at the house.  I think people are looking for houses that have a “bonus” room, but oh well.  It is what it is.  We are still optimistic (at least I am) that it will sell soon.  We’ll see if that changes in the next month or so.  As for houses up here, it is clear to us that although Mukwonago would be a great place to live, there are no houses there that fit what we are looking for.  With that in mind, we have started thinking about houses in Waukesha again – houses that are closer to I-43 rather than I-94.  There were some that looked good last week and may actually be “the one”, but we will have to go look at them again and maybe take a little time before we make any move.


4 Responses to “First Week Of Work”

  1. Aunt Sue Says:

    GO PACKERS!!!!! Need I say more?? :):):)

  2. lou Says:

    I was there too when you read your student went to JSU. Thanks for including me in the story. Don’t forget to get to Kristin’s earlier on Saturday to set up.

  3. Linda and Donald Says:

    Thanks for the update. We thought you had already forgotten us southerners! Ha! Seriously though, it’s great that things are going so good for you all. Sounds like a lot of fun! Big families are wonderful. I’m sure your house will sell. The right buyer just hasn’t shown up yet. Vacations and holidays are done for a few weeks, so maybe people will get back to house shopping.

  4. Gail Schemberger Says:

    Hi Andy!

    Don’t forget your old friends at UWM!

    Glad you hear you landed a spot at UWW. All seems to go well for you. Lisa and I are so happy for you.

    Can I see one of your podcasts? It would be fun to see you in action.


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