Thursday, October 31, 2013


“The English may not always be the best writers in the world, but they are incomparably the best dull writers” (11).

Chandler, Raymond. The Simple Art of Murder. New York: Vintage Books, 1988.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

When inspiration strikes... just go with it.

I've had these two small(ish) but important writing tasks that have been on my daily to-do list all day long. And I kept putting them off, doing every other thing on the list. At around 9:00, I thought to myself, "Well, I guess they just won't get done today."

So why in the world do I, all of the sudden, start working on both of them, at the same time, at nearly 10:00 p.m.? That just isn't the way I work anymore. Those late-night, writing-all-night efforts? I left those behind in my early grad-school days. Granted, 10:00 isn't "late" by lots of people's definitions, including my own, but it is certainly past my writing timeline. I can read, grade, even do some research after 10:00, but in general, there ain't a lot of writing getting done. So this is weird. 

But again, when you've been waiting all day for the urge to get these things done and the urge suddenly hits, you go with it, I suppose.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Structuralism, houses, lists...

I am taking a temporary break from finishing up a powerpoint presentation for my students on Structuralist Criticism. I know, I know, you are jealous.. Seriously, though, this is not late-night work for a tired brain!

It's been a long day, starting early this morning when I had to get ready for my biggest home-ownership purchase since buying the house itself: replacement of the HVAC unit. After years of worrying about the old unit giving up the battle in the dead of winter, I decided on a preemptive replacement. The crew arrived today at just after 8:00, although I had to be ready for them much earlier, since I was told "they'll be there between 7:00 and 8:00." The guys worked hard and were done by 2:20 and I am now the proud owner of a new unit *and* a shiny new touchscreen thermostat.

Having people here in the house most of the day made it hard to get anything done that required extended, uninterrupted attention (including anything to do with structuralism). But I did get lots of other tasks done, the kind that I could work on in 10 or 15 minute intervals: all my advising prep, a observation report for an adjunct, tons of emails, some department documents, and a couple of letters of recommendation. It always feels good to cross a bunch of items off of my to-do list.

This HVAC replacement has been weighing on my mind as a kind of "big and stressful day" to get through. Now that it's done, I am breathing some sighs of relief.

(Rather boring post, I know. It's mostly a powerpointing-break!)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Midterm grades: DONE!

Another set of midterm grades done. I've still got a ton to do by tomorrow, but it feels pretty good to have this hurdle cleared.

Chair-dancing music...rocking it old school today!

Friday, October 11, 2013

ENGL 102 theme...

Okay: so, after ignoring earlier requests from my department chair, I had to come up with a 40 character or less title for my upcoming ENGL 102 class theme. All I really had was “Zombies!” Headed over to my friend Carrie (a creative writer) for help. Five minutes later, I emerge with “The Writing Dead: Zombies & Composition.” Yay for collaboration and helpful, smart, creative friends. And you have NO idea how much it broke my heart to resist using “(de)composition.” But, in terms of character limit and making sense, it didn’t fit. Carrie said to save it for the syllabus.

Also tossed around “Revising and Reanimating” and “A to Zombie” (that one was my friend Tim’s).

Don’t contact your local congressman//woman to complain about “education these days.” The zombie stuff is just a way to get them in the door and writing about a topic that interests them. Trust me: we’ll be doing lots of cool, research-based, multi-modal writing.

Also, I think your local congressman/woman is a bit preoccupied right now.

"Oversharing" and teaching...

This article bugged me.

Look, I get that professors shouldn't air their dirty laundry or too much personal information in class. Point taken. But the idea that we shouldn't talk about our own academic struggles or failures? Baffling--especially when it comes to writing instruction. Maybe that's a misreading or over-reading of the researchers' conclusions (and I suspect that it is the latter--their use of the ominous phrase "engaged with caution" suggests as much). But if it *is* an over-reading, then their message is, essentially, "Hey, don't do too much of these two things." In this case, those things are over-sharing and talking about your failures because they will damage your credibility and lead to incivility in the classroom. But guess what? I don't need a scientific study to show me that's true. Balance is key. We get it.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Sunday afternoon pictures

 Wesley looks out the window.

Bing looks at a picture of Wesley looking out the window. :)

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Brodkey's "The State of Grace"

I just heard this story for the first time today, on the New Yorker's Fiction podcast. I was listening to it while cleaning the bathroom. Here's my endorsement: its closing paragraphs, without being cloying or patronizing, made my eyes tear up. Give it a listen.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

"The Nullification Party"

As usual, Andrew Sullivan says it better than most. Give this post a read.