Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Wow oh wow. Words cannot even begin to describe how incredibly touched I was to see all the supportive comments on my previous post. Thank you so much everyone for all your kind words. Reading your comments really helped lift my spirits during a time when I was feeling very lost.

Apparently I worried a few people with my last post, and I want to apologize. I may have been a bit dramatic. I was going through a very rough patch with my teaching and I may have made it seem worse than it really is. In all honesty, I do enjoy teaching - for the most part. It's frustrating when my students slack off and show little interest in their work, especially when I think about all the effort I put into my classes - I work about 9-10 hours per day during the week and at least 6 hours per day during the weekends. Of course, I have some amazing students, who are engaged and appreciative, but it's difficult to ignore the ones who aren't. Here's an example...

A few weeks ago, I gave a midterm exam for my Operating Systems course (yes, I teach Computer Science and yes, I am a nerd). Here is one of the questions on the exam:

In the context of Operating Systems what is atomicity?

And here is the response from one of my "less-engaged" students:

Atomicity probably has something to do with how processes work with eachother (?? I dunno, maybe? I got nothing).


Let me mention that this student comes to class everyday, sits in the front row, and...falls asleep. EVERY DAY. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I don't mean dozing off every few seconds. I mean full on sleep. Frustrating, is all I can say. Why would you even write "I dunno, maybe, I got nothing" on an exam? Why oh why?

Then there are the excuses. The (what seems like) thousands and thousands of excuses. I've been teaching for less than a semester and I feel like I've heard them all already:

-"I wanted to come to class, really I did, but I accidentally set my alarm for 8pm instead of 8am"
-"I meant to submit the homework, but somehow I just totally forgot"
-"I really wanted to hand in this assignment, but I just fell asleep instead"

These are not jokes. These are actual excuses I have gotten from students. Actual excuses. From real-life students. Frustrating.

OK, I'm done ranting for now. There will be more later, I promise.

I know I'm complaining a lot, and really I shouldn't be. There are so many wonderful things going on in my life and I too often let myself lose sight of them. Remember the BF? Well, he isn't a BF anymore, he's now an F - as in fiancé. And he's officially moving here in January. :)

Here are some random pictures...

I'm also extremely blessed to have the most amazing family in the world. Despite my everlasting grumpiness they've made the long trek from their little pockets in the country to visit me here in the middle of nowhere (Ok, it's not really in the middle of nowhere, I'm just being dramatic again). Which finally brings me to this baklava. I cannot take credit for this dish, because I didn't make it or even help make it. My sister did all the work when she visited me a few weeks ago, and I'm so glad she did. This is an amazing dessert made with wonderful ingredients: walnuts, honey, lemon, and delicate sheets of phyllo. Use a pastry brush to apply thin layers of butter or olive oil, and you actually have a (somewhat) guilt-free dessert. Thanks Didi. :)

Baklava (adapted from allrecipes)


* 1 pound chopped walnuts
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1 (16 ounce) package phyllo dough
* 1/2 cup butter, melted or olive oil (may not even need this much, see below)
* 1 cup white sugar
* 1 cup water
* 1/2 cup honey
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Butter a 9x13 inch baking dish.
2. Toss together cinnamon and nuts. Unroll phyllo and cut whole stack in half to fit the dish. Cover phyllo with a damp cloth while assembling the baklava, to keep it from drying out.
3. Place two sheets of phyllo in the bottom of the prepared dish. Brush with thin layer of butter. Sprinkle 2 to 3 tablespoons of the nut mixture on top. Repeat layers until all ingredients are used, ending with about 6 sheets of phyllo. Using a sharp knife, cut baklava (all the way through to the bottom of the dish) into four long rows, then (nine times) diagonally to make 36 diamond shapes.
4. Bake in preheated oven 50 minutes, until golden and crisp.
5. While baklava is baking, combine sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Stir in honey, vanilla and lemon zest, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.
6. Remove the baklava from the oven and immediately spoon the syrup over it. Let cool completely before serving. Store uncovered.


  1. O WOW! Congratulations, Ms. Meanie!!! How exciting!

    I felt bad for you up until the part where you mentioned the engagement. I still feel for you when it comes to the slackers, but hopefully the good news will pull you through all the lazy excuses.

    Your pictures are beautiful, as usual. Both the baklava and the fall scenery. It's comforting to know that, no matter where we are, we can always rely on the leaves changing their colors with the season. A gorgeous tree can take us right back home again. :-)

    A huge thanks to you, and your sister for this recipe. I'm slightly intimidated by phyllo dough, but I love baklava. Maybe I'll brave this recipe.

    Again, Congratulations! ♥

  2. Ms. Meanie! Yeah, you're engaged-that's awesome. Now you'll have someone to bitch about your students to in person (smile). Yes! By the way, I'm fine with your grumpiness. It's totally normal for a person to feel and act out the way you did in a new situation. Things take time...
    Oh, and teachers have always had trouble with uninterested students-no doubt. However, this new generation is a bit 'special'. I'm reading a book about by an Emory professor called 'The Dumbest Generation'. It's about people under 30 at this point in human history. Ooh, I hope you're not under 30 (smile). Anyway, I have no doubt that you are dealing with a stronger and more idiotic disinterest than many teachers of yore.
    Oh, and, by the way, your baklava looks wonderful! I wish I could eat one with a cup of coffee and you. You sitting next to me, not eat you...:)

  3. Congrats Ms. Meanie (soon to be Mrs.)! Between your fiance, your family and this baklava, it sounds like things are pretty swell on your end. Life rules.

  4. Oh my gosh! Congrats on getting engaged chica! I'm SO SO SO happy for you!

    I think we all have those moments where we just despair. it's totally normal and totally understandable, in my opinion.

    This baklava looks amazing! I've always wanted to learn how to make it!

  5. Congrats on your engagement!! Not all students are actually in college/class because they care. Don't let their stupidity bring you down - this apathy will bite them in the ass when they recommendations or try to get jobs. I'm sure there are still plenty of good students who appreciate all the work you put into your classes.

    You take some really gorgeous photos. What kind of camera do you use?

  6. Congrats on your engagement! I'm very happy for you.
    As far as the kids are concerned, you SHOULD be upset. It's frustrating. I hope you have some bright and responsible students that help balance out the equation.
    I dunno....what IS atomicity?
    Here's what I found out: Atomicity states that database modifications must follow an “all or nothing” rule. Each transaction is said to be “atomic.” If one part of the transaction fails, the entire transaction fails. It is critical that the database management system maintain the atomic nature of transactions in spite of any DBMS, operating system or hardware failure.

  7. congrats on the engagement and on finding the strength to deal with difficult students! your baklava is gorgeous. :)

  8. OMG, I can't even finish reading your post. Recipes, what, where, why? I don't care ;) Not now, that is.
    The BF is an F, I can't believe it, I'm soooooo soooooo sooo happy for you! Congrats! You're even forgiven the tin,y split-second heart attack you gave me when I was worried that the BF is no BF any more for less joyous reasons. WOW, that is such good news.
    OK, maybe I'll finish reading your post now, I love your recipes.

  9. Yay! A huge congratulations to you! Having the F move there will make everything brighter.
    As for your students, I work for a school board that only recently made it possible for teachers to give a 0 for work not completed. Apparently the students graduating didn't have a very good work ethic and were struggling at work/post-secondary. I think you just have to be amused by the excuses and not think it's because of your lessons. I'm a substitute teacher and I spend my days convincing/coercing/begging/threatening students to get them to do anything at all. Maybe this is why all the teachers I know like wine so much!
    Anyway, I have phyllo in the freezer, and this may be the kick in the pants I need to make a baklave--your photos are stunning.

  10. Congrats! Your posts are a really fun read. Keep em up! Looking forward to reading more about your teaching episodes!

  11. Hey Ms. Meanie! Thanks for your sweet comment. I know you're really busy lately. I'll be back here soon to see what you post next-no pressure though (smile).
    Oh, and you need to make yourself a homemade pumpkin or sweet potato pie. They are too good to miss each year at this time-me thinks at least;)!
    I will be back...