Wednesday, November 29, 2006

NaBloPoMo 29

NaBloPoMo 29 -- RBOC

  • Not posting much because I burned my finger pretty badly. Suffice to say it's pretty lame to turn on the wrong burner, having left a plate on it, and then pick up the plate
  • That new David Boreanaz show, Bones, is a guilty pleasure
  • I'm reviewing a book in my field that I really like so far. It's a good kind of envy, really. Oh -- and it's in English! Really. Not jealous.
  • My cats are driving me up the frakkin' wall.
  • I'm entirely clueless as to how my evaluations are going to go. I'm worried. I think.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

NaBloPoMo 28

NaBloPoMo 28 -- for Acephalous

Because I think Scott Eric Kaufman is funny and bright, I'm allowing assimiliation following instructions doing him a favor and linking to his very important experiment post. Scott's presenting at the behemoth of conferences for Lit people. You know the one. Part of his presentation is on the speed at which memes go 'round the blogosphere. Just so you know, I got this from a friend's Live Journal, Scott!

Anyway, here's what you need to do to help Scott and his work:

  1. Write a post linking to this one in which you explain the experiment. (All blogs count, be they TypePad, Blogger, MySpace, Facebook, &c.)
  2. Ask your readers to do the same. Beg them. Relate sob stories about poor graduate students in desperate circumstances. Imply I'm one of them. (Do whatever you have to. If that fails, try whatever it takes.)
  3. Ping Techorati.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Carnivalesque XXI

Carnivalesque XXI

Hello all -- Carnivalesque XXI is up at Even in a little thing. See what happens when you mix a real-life antipodean medievalist/college prof/sff author with a History Carnival!

re yesterday's post

Came home last night and the internets were broken. My provider, whose owners have recently been indicted (prosecuted?) for raping the profits (it's that provider with the Greekish name, also connects people to the TV nets), has been bought out by a huge other providser that sounds like bombast. Bombast apparently made the switch last night and this morning. How do I know? No internets. Came home, unplugged the modem and router, nada. Called the not-Greek company's service number, which was supposed to work for Bombast. Out of service. Got a number for Bombast. "We are performing a network upgrade. Do not reboot your modem, as you will be unable to reconnect to the network until the entire upgrade is complete. Due to an unusually high volume of customer calls, we cannot take your call right now."

It's finally back up. Just before it appeared, as if by magic, I called the service number again. The message? "Do you know that most connectivity problems can be solved by simply rebooting your modem and re-starting your computer?" Um ... thanks, Bombast.

Friday, November 24, 2006


Road Trip

So this Thanksgiving weekend is the first roadtrip I've taken in years. Lots and lots of driving, but well worth it. We went to Our Nation's Capital -- the first time I've been there for the museums and not for things like job interviews (the AHA was there three years ago). We went to the Sackler gallery and saw the Bible exhibit. On the way, we spent hours talking about teaching and historiography -- and teaching historiography -- and World History and other such things.

Seeing finds from Qumran and Nag Hammadi and Oxyrhynchus all in the same place really helped to separate them all in my mind in ways that they hadn't been before. There were also several Syriac and Georgian mss, which were very interesting. Of course, for me, the coolest things were the Carolingian and A/S exhibits. There wasn't much, but what there was, was wonderful in that it represented a good cross-section of 7th-9th century texts and decoration, including an ivory codex cover from Chelles. There were also a couple of things that made my head fuzzy and confused in a "Charles the Straightforward" kind of way:

  • There were big maps depicting Europe and the Near East in the 9th c. The area that encompasses what I have always thought of as Francia was called "Carolingia."* Um. I'm a Carolingianist. Or so I thought. But I did not get the memo on Carolingia. Am I frakkin' ignorant? What is going on? Did you all know this and not tell me?
  • One of the explanatory panels implied that Christianity became the official Roman religion under Constantine.
  • The exhibit was advertised as mss before 1000 CE. There was a Coptic ms dated to ca. 1400 CE. The text mentioned it as being one of the earliest such illuminated Coptic mss. Ruh?
  • Boniface was everywhere! Gospels glossed in Boniface's own hand (probably)! Gospels sent by Eadburga to Boniface (possibly)! But despite discussions of the Palace School and Alcuin (but not Aachen), and the development of Carolingian miniscule and the importance of Carolingian scriptoria, they only mentioned Rheims, and not Fulda! I don't really like Boniface, but how can there be any sensible discussion of Carolingian education that does not include Fulda??
  • There was an elderly man there who explained to his daughter at length that Charlemagne was a huge supporter of education and brought Alcuin (pronounced AL-sue-in) to France, but was himself quite ignorant and uneducated. Um. Because I am a polite person, I muttered very quietly to one of my friends that that wasn't exactly what Einhard said ... but did not offer my opinion to the world at large.

But anyway, wow. I don't know how it affects you all, but there is something really astounding for me to see things that make the people I study and write about so very tangible and real. It's not that I don't think of them as real in the first place, but there's a difference between seeing "stuff from time period X" and "stuff that was commissioned by Y from monastery Z at the time that N was abbot." And in my part of the world, getting a chance to experience that with the MA or LA or Classical world is rather rare. Besides the inherent grooviness of the exhibition, it was also just so cool that my friends enjoyed it, too, and had interesting things to say about what the exhibit said about material culture. After the exhibit, we grabbed a bite, and girded our loins for a weekend of preparation for next week.

*I could understand "Carolingian Empire," but that's not what it said. Carolingia???

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving

Hi all -- Happy Thanksgiving!! In honor of the day -- or more in honor of, "I'm actually reading an article in my field and hanging out with historian friends," I have two questions:

  • So I'm reading the new Early Mediaeval Europe and Geoffrey Koziol has a new article where he says that the "Charles the Straightforward" name (rather than Charles the Simple) isn't really a good translation after all. But what I want to know is who started to call him Straightforward anyway.

  • also, one of my friends, Krautboy, is thinking of starting a blog. He's a historian of Technology and is looking for other bloggers/LJ people in his field. So if you know anybody or any good blogs that historians of S&T would like, please pass them on!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Almost Thanksgiving

Almost Thanksgiving

So, today I went on an extended journey to see my friends Good Witch and Krautboy. We managed to traverse five state lines between us, and ended up at an enormous market, where we picked up the turkey and had lunch. Then a very long drive home in absolutely crap weather. GoodWitch is one of my oldest friends, not in age, but in length of time served. College roommates. Krautboy is a newer addition, but we love him. They're both way too smart, but that's ok! Soon to come -- blogging theircats!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

NaBloPoMo 21

NaBloPoMo 21

This is a wimpy post because I am up too late and haven't yet packed to go away for Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, all of you who are celebrating!

Monday, November 20, 2006

NaBloPoMo 20

NaBloPoMo 20 -- Monday RBOC

  • I need to update my blogroll. Seriously. With luck, I'll get it done this week.
  • marking. I keep finding more
  • Students. I forgot I told my early class they could come up with some ways of re-assigning points. They gave really concrete suggestions for fixing things.
  • I think I'm starting to like Heroes. I've never seen it before.
  • One of my cats has an upset stomach. If it continues, I may not get to go away for Thanksgiving
  • Did I mention the marking?
  • Most importantly, if you're still reading this, I had the most awful margaritas ever with WN and D tonight -- but the food was pretty good, I think. No really. Lime jello-y margaritas. Narsty. But mole poblano enchiladas! And let me tell you, where I last lived, mole poblano tasted like satay sauce. This was pretty decent stuff. Not enough chocolate, but decent.
  • I'm so glad The Boy is going to the vet next week to have his teeth cleaned.
  • I think I'm going to buy these

Sunday, November 19, 2006

NaBloPoMo 19

NaBloPoMo 19 -- Gratuitous cat blogging #2

I'm not sure where the ultra-important ribbon has gone to. I wonder if that's what's been upsetting The Boy. Anyway, today is about watching a film for class and marking. As the film is subtitled, I doubt I'll be multi-tasking.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

NaBloPoMo 18

NaBloPoMo 18

Well, I was going to post a kitty pic, but I'm on the wrong computer. Today, I went to a conference. Really, it was one panel for a conference for an entirely different field of study. A friend gave a presentation on pedagogy, and I went to cheer her on. it was a good presentation. One of the others was really excellent and useful. I learned some things that I can use next year when I teach either Ancient or MA (depending on where I put in the panegyric and hagiography), in terms of getting students to recognize constructions and tropes ...

I wasn't all that impressed with the other paper, though, but I think it had more to do with disciplinary differences than anything else.

In other news, I'm looking for boots and I'm way behind on marking.

Friday, November 17, 2006

NaBloPoMo 17

NaBloPoMo 17 -- Teaching Carnival PSA

Hey, everybody -- Teaching Carnival XVI is up at Ancarett's Abode. There's all kinds of good stuff, if I do say so myself.

Also, a reminder that the next edition of Carnivalesque (Ancient/Medieval) will be hosted by Gill Polack at Even in a little thing on or around the 25th of November. Also, Gill has a story published in the latest (and sold out, so you can read it online) issue of Subterranean, guest edited this time by John Scalzi.

More cat blogging later today or tomorrow. The Boy and his Ribbon wait in the wings.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

NaBloPoMo 16

NaBloPoMo 16 -- gratuitous Cat blogging #1

This is why the Girl makes me crazy. Third floor balcony, folks!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

NaBloPoMo 15

NaBloPoMo 15 -- Smiling now!

I just looked at my course rosters for Spring. I have a student in one of my survey courses -- well, I have a bunch of students. But this student has seemed bored and discontented in my class. And the student has signed up for the second half. It is not a required course, but the student's coming back for more! Also, in my other courses, I have non-majors who don't need the second half signed up -- and they're ones I like! And my upper division class? Six enrolled (enough for it to go, but I'd like 15), and I know all but one of them. I love repeat customers!

In other news, I'm behind on my book review (still) and have a pile of papers 7" thick to mark before I can get back to working on my stuff. OTOH, one of them contains blatant plagiarism in the first paragraph, so that's one I don't have to spend time on.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

NaBloPoMo 14

NaBloPoMo 14 -- I said what??

Lordy -- just got invited to be on another search committee. I'd really like to, but turned it down. And I got an e-mail from my book review editor. Where's my review? The one due at the end of December? There isn't one due at the end of December. It was due two weeks ago. Guess what I'm doing over the holiday?

In other bloggy news, I am about to spend my hard-earned money on feline dentistry. Turns out that Mr. Soppy's stinky breath isn't just gingivitis. He's got what looks to be a seriously nasty tooth. Not to mention (this is icky) a cyst-like thing that is either not healthy, or like a big super-sized blackhead. Apparently, Schnauzers get these things all the time. Not harmful. But they want to remove it while he's under for the teeth, and make sure. He used to be a fairly inexpensive cat, but by the end of the month, he'll be the approximately $450 or more cat.

Also -- thanks, to everybody helping at the contest and please keep those good suggestions coming. Actually -- maybe that should go to a carnival???

Daily posting to continue -- can't promise quality till I climb out from under this pile, which just reminded me ... I haven't turned on the washer with my clothes for tomorrow yet. Shoot.

Yeah, this is one of those "raw" , "me, me, me" posts. Consider it insight into the life of a swamped junior academic who is feeling very old tonight.

Monday, November 13, 2006

NaBloPoMo 13

NaBloPoMo 13 -- Administrivia

First, there's a contest on, people!!. We have one judge so far, Jonathan Dresner at Frog in a Well. Any other volunteers?

In other news, I got a set of papers back today. Some look fine. Others? not so much. And one of them has an opening paragraph that's loosely paraphrased from an film review. How do I know? Because I've been doing this job a long time, and there are just some comparisons that freshmen will never make. Why? Because for one thing, none of them have seen a film made before 1990. *sigh* So, now I get to go talk to my chair and the dean and find out how much I need to document.

In other news, I've suddenly gone from trying to adjust and get back to researching to an absolute panic about getting my as-yet-not-accepted-but-maybe K'zoo paper done. Why? I have gone from, "how am I going to get enough service on my resume?" to OMG, I've just been appointed to a Big Important Committee, and a second pretty important committee (both university-wide and one very high profile), and oh, yeah, a search committee. And of course, now we're in the wind down of this term, where I have all kinds of marking, and then I'm gone for at least a week during break, and then all new preps for next term plus two conferences (only one of which I'm presenting at, thank goodness, but if I'm lucky, that'll be a paper and a roundtable on things pedagogical). How absolutely crazy am I for really keeping my fingers crossed that my K'zoo paper gets accepted?

Yipes. Just, yipes. And kind of "wow. It's like I'm a real academic like the other kids!"

Good wishes and advice welcomed.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

NaBloPoMo 12

NaBloPoMo 12 -- A Contest!

Apropos of a conversation over at Pilgrim's, today's post is in the order of a contest. Can't promise anything but glory, but oh, what glory it is. We were thinking ... people keep saying that we learn history so we can avoid making the mistakes our forefathers have made, but historians? We're like Rodney Dangerfield. We get no respect. I think that also makes us like the Cowardly Lion, which is probably more applicable. So... I've got a phrase or two, and am looking for someone to put them together in a cool and groovy kind of way so we can make T-shirts a la Cafe Press or some such. I'd also like about 5 volunteers for a panel of judges.

So here's the phrase:

"If we're all supposed to learn from history, why is it that no one ever listens to historians?"

If you don't like that one, we did have a couple of others for people to play with:

"Historians: ignore us at your peril"


"Historians: ignore us and people die"

What do you all think?

Update: New submissions in the comments!

Saturday, November 11, 2006



I saw no one selling poppies this year, but think we might see it again. So far, non-mortal US casualties are approximately 46,000. I couldn't find the numbers for the UK or Canada, the only other countries I could think of where disabled vets sell poppies.

Friday, November 10, 2006

NaBloPoMo 10

NaBloPoMo 10

Almost forgot. And I was going to cat blog today. But instead, I went to a colleague's house, ate well, drank well, and watched basketball. Now I'm watching BSG. It is so good. It is the best thing outside the Jossverse. But I'm very tired, and I'm guessing I won't be up to watch all of the Doctor. See you all tomorrow, when my post will be appropriately somber.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

NaBloPoMo 8

NaBloPoMo 8

I have nothing of consequence to say today. I could say more to clarify what I said yesterday, but I'm working that out. Many of the anecdotes I would use are personal and I'd have to do some serious editing. Maybe tomorrow.

In the meantime, I had a good day today. Good teaching, good marking, good colleagues. I meant to go to bed early, yet here I am. Mostly because I'm kind of hooked on this show, Shark. I should probably watch it on the internets, but it's on right now. It's not all that great, really, but James Woods is really good. He's worth watching.

Also, I guess I need to watch Spiderman 2 because the trailer for Spiderman 3 looks pretty good. Not as good as Casino Royale but good enough. In the meantime, I really want to see The Prestige and the other magician movie -- the Illusionist, isn't it?

I did have one thought, though. Why is it that people always challenge measures that discriminate against gay people on civil rights grounds? I'm asking this because for me, it seems like a clear question of the establishment clause. As far as I can see, all the grounds for discriminating against homosexuals are grounded in religious teachings.* Yet not all religions teach the same thing about homosexuality. In fact, there are religions that bless unions between gay people, and others allow actual marriage ceremonies. So it seems that any law that allows discrimination based on sexual preference, including banning marriage (a contractual legal union -- I think that we should do what countries like Germany do, by the way -- a civil ceremony is the legal one, and if people want benefit of clergy, they can go to their clergyman), privileges some religious groups above others. To me, that seems to go against the establishment clause. But maybe I'm wrong. I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV.

*OK, there's the cynical argument that the insurance companies don't want to allow spousal benefits to anyone they can ...

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

NaBloPoMo 7

NaBloPoMo 7

Not to burst anybody's bubble, but now that they've won back Congress, it might be a good thing for the Democrats to remember than not all of those races were won by landslides. There's a lot of work to be done. Although part of me does tend to think that the average liberal is better informed than the average conservative these days, dismissing conservatives as idiots will do no one any good. We have to take them seriously. I don't know what the solution is. But there are an awful lot of people in this country who don't think anything like what I do. Too many not to take them seriously. I do have one other observation, though. I have a lot more in common with people my own age and a bit older -- basically, other Boomers -- than I do with younger people. In general. These common values cross party lines. I can talk wbout politics with intelligent Republicans in their 50s and we will agree on an awful lot when it comes to civil rights, government intervention in people's private lives, the importance of the Constitution, etc., than with younger people. I don't think it's entirely an age thing, though. I think it's an educational divide. Education in this country is vastly different than it was in my day. These thoughts are rather ill-formed, but they're a start.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

NaBloPoMo 6

NaBloPoMo 6

It's been a very long day. I voted, as did every non-student I saw today. I'm not so sure about my students. I think I've never seen so many people voting, except maybe the first time I voted, when Reagan won. I don't think the election results will thrill me, but there are already surprising ones. I'm amazed at the Pennsylvania Senate result (so far).

I met with my student today to talk about the paper. The student was so receptive to my critique. I thanked them for the insights, and helped them see ways s/he could put forth the same criticisms on slightly different grounds. I also asked them to read some of the sentences out loud. The student could see that there were serious problems, and thought they were due to writing too fast and not proofreading. So, the student is going to go over the paper again and we'll have one more meeting. There is just nothing better than students who are willing to work. It's a good chance that this student might have been weeded out at admissions in many places, but the student is brighter than their writing skills suggest, I think. It's nice to teach at a private SLAC and know that we are not so exclusive that we don't have a chance to make a difference, if you know what I mean.

Monday, November 06, 2006

NaBloPoMo 6

NaBloPoMo 6

Monday about Meme

I've bolded the ones I've done -- nicked from One Bright Star and behind the cut 'cos it's long!

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain Does hiking count?
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said "I love you" and meant it
09. Hugged a tree
10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea - from the shore
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
14. Seen the Northern Lights Very faint they were
15. Gone to a huge sports game
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby's diaper
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten drunk on champagne
24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
32. Held a lamb
33. Seen a total eclipse (lunar)
34. Ridden a roller coaster Many of them.
35. Hit a home run
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer (one's external, though)
40. Visited all 50 states
41. Taken care of someone who was drunk
42. Had amazing friends
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
44. Watched wild whales
45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in Europe
47. Taken a road-trip
48. Gone rock climbing
49. Midnight walk on the beach
50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland not yet
52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger's table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your CDs
57. Pretended to be a superhero not as an adult
58. Sung karaoke
59. Lounged around in bed all day
60. Played touch football
61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud
64. Played in the rain
65. Gone to a drive-in theater
66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken I wish
69. Toured ancient sites
70. Taken a martial arts class
71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
72. Gotten married
73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party
75. Gotten divorced
76. Gone without food for 5 days
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted the Snake River
82. Been on television news programs as an "expert"
83. Got flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage
85. Been to Las Vegas (well, the airport)
86. Recorded music
87. Eaten shark
88. Kissed on the first date
89. Gone to Thailand
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone
92. Buried one/both of your parents
93. Been on a cruise ship
94. Spoken more than one language fluently well enough to have a decent conversation
95. Performed in Rocky Horror (doesn't everybody? I thought it was kind of required)
96. Raised children
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn't stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn't have survived
105. Wrote articles for a large publication er ... some day, large being a relative term?
106. Lost over 100 pounds
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Touched a stingray
110. Broken someone's heart I don't think so, but it's early days -- I hope not, though
111. Helped an animal give birth
112. Won money on a T.V. game show
113. Broken a bone
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Ridden a horse
119. Had major surgery
120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours I was very ill
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat unless that Jack-in-the-box scare was real
127. Eaten sushi as often as possible
128. Had your picture in the newspaper
129. Changed someone's mind about something you care deeply about
130. Gone back to school
131. Parasailed
132. Touched a cockroach more accurately, have been touched by a cockroach
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read The Iliad
135. Selected one "important" author who you missed in school, and read Salinger? useless. Eliot? glorious.
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
137. Skipped all your school reunions
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
139. Been elected to public office
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you're living your dream
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn't know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146. Dyed your hair Guess what colour!
147. Been a DJ
148. Shaved your head
149. Caused a car accident
150. Saved someone's life

Sunday, November 05, 2006

NaBloPoMo 5

NaBloPoMo 5

Remember, remember.

What we didn't know is what our students don't know -- only arguably more so

I'm reviewing a draft for one of my freshmen. The paper is a review of a scholarly article. This may be one of the best drafts I've ever read -- and it's an absolutely crap paper. It's written badly (OMG -- the sentence structure, or lack thereof!). It's hugely self-referential. It's just pretty awful, full stop. But it's teaching me a lot.

The review is of 'Ancient Historian's “Ancient history Article on something Important” '[sic -- ish]. The student picked out the thesis, and then tells me that it's a very bad article. S/he does this in no uncertain terms. Why is it bad? Because the author has included passages in some other unidentifiable language (Student then asks how people are supposed to understand all that and the author should have translated or something). There are also abbreviations (e.g., "Cicero (Att. 14. 13a)" and "SC") that are unclear. The student is very clear in their (I know, but we're doing anonymous pronouns here) complaints, and gives specific examples -- in fact, s/he is doing what s/he should be doing, albeit in pretty bad English.

While I'm a little upset that the student didn't come to me to ask for help, I'm very proud of them for basically forcing their way through the assignment and getting this done. And I'm actually grateful. Sometimes, we forget what it's like to be introduced to this academic stuff. We forget how alien scholarly writing is to many of our students. Now I know that I need to not just say that a peer-reviewed article (that's the first part of the assignment, to select an appropriate article) is written by a scholar for other scholars, but I need to take the time to point out the challenges that a student might have, and to let them know that it's OK to ask when they hit passages written in other languages. I can also remind them that they should be thinking of themselves as junior members of this scholarly community; while it's appropriate to point out that an article is difficult for a neophyte, the students should also revise their own expectations and their criticisms to reflect an understanding of audience, etc. It's also a good time to point out that the reason I ask them to get some basic books on their article's subject is precisely so that, if they run into abbreviations and other such problematic things, they can look them up -- which should help them to understand how a book is put together. Don't laugh -- many of my students have never really thought about the structure of a book -- why is there a ToC? an Index? a list of abbreviations? a bibliography? Hell, yesterday DV told me that JSTOR is so popular among his undergraduates at Grad U that few of them ever check the stacks!

So this is a painful project, but I really feel fortunate when I am allowed this kind of insight.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

NaBloPoMo 4

NaBloPoMo 4

Oops! I almost forgot!

I learned something really important today. Actually, several things, some good and bad. Good: I really can negotiate the public transport system and city streets of a major and totally new metropolis without getting lost or losing it. Just so you know, I'm not generally comfortable negotiating new cities. well, kind of. It's more that figuring out how much to pay, and whether the charges change depending on time of day and distance, and if there are passes or you have to pay cash, and whether to hand over the transfer or just show it?? I'm fine in Germany -- systems there make sense, but it took me a while to learn them. But I'm embarrassed to admit that I take the tube whenever I'm in London -- at least as often as I can -- because I can't really get the bus system ...

Also, I learned where to get about the best bowl of Tom Kha Gai that I've ever (or in memory) had.

What's more, I learned that I have not lost my ability to do research -- it's just kind of dormant. But ... you know that focus I was worried about? Well, the reason I went to the big city was to go to work at impressive university library. And here's the thing: I went in, with my small list of books, which turned into a somewhat bigger set of books once I hit the catalogue, and went into the stacks -- and let me tell you how obnoxious it is to have the collection divided A-D, DA-H , with two floors between the sections! I didn't get as far as the Ks and the stuff on disputes and feud today. They're also on another floor. But anyway, I grabbed some books (and why did I not know about that Walter Pohl collection of essays on the transformation of Roman frontiers -- there's some good stuff in it!) and sat down at a carrel and just worked. No problems settling or focusing, just work. Apparently, it's important for me to have a separation of work places. My school office is all about the teaching -- partially because it's all about the students, partially because I haven't really finished getting the office together -- it needs plants and things on the walls and more books. And maybe it's also because I have colleagues who play rather loud music? Our library at school is not really set up for research, although considering how many students don't use it, 'm thinking I can start taking things over there if I'll never run into students! At home, it's kind of hard, because there are cats and laundry ...
I'm really relieved, though. I've been so caught up in teaching and campus-y things, that I've not done any real work (I know, teaching is real, but it isn't all I get paid for, even though SLAC is a "teaching school"). I know I went through this last year a bit, and kind of forgot.

I think that those of us with substantial teaching loads find it easier to forget that we do have to make a place for scholarship.* When I was teaching at the CC, it wasn't an issue -- people who managed anything beyond teaching and service were going above and beyond the call of duty. Among my older colleagues at SLAC, there isn't much of a sense of urgency, by and large. Last year, I re-discovered how invigorating it was getting to the library. And then, I kind of forgot. Today, I remembered again. I feel so much better about everything, too. Duh.

So I guess I'll be getting to the library at least once a week from now on. Just think -- I might just get my article finished, plus the two book reviews, plus the paper I hope gets accepted for K'zoo. But I'm starting to think that, if I add in the couple of things I should be doing, rather than diffusing my ability to settle and focus, it might instead force me to spread the load and find some balance.

*like making time to go to the gym, sort of.

Oh -- and I can't remember the bad parts at this point.

Friday, November 03, 2006

NaBloPoMo 3

NaBloPoMo 3

I know I was going to post something interesting todya, but y'all will have to wait. It's BSG night! So instead, can I just say:
  • Cybermen: yeep!
  • Nomination to what I think is a scary-important committee -- why can't I keep my mouth shut? Always have to have an opinion, me.
  • In order, my classes today: sucked, did very well, rocked. But the students who showed for the first class did well, too. There's a post coming on this.
  • I like my colleagues
  • I like my job
  • I think life might be good

Thursday, November 02, 2006

NaBloPoMo 2

NaBloPoMo 2

Pilgrim asked me what I wished at the moment I read her question. At that moment, I wished I was on top of things. I've been dog-paddling a lot this term. I think some of it adjusting. Normally speaking, when my life is full of immediate stress, I just keep going, but at some point, usually when things calm down a bit, I just sort of shut down. I haven't really done that, but I'm having a hard time focusing lately. I'm starting to think I really needed the slightly reduced teaching load -- and thinking I need to make more of it instead of just surviving. So I wish I were more on top of my job and getting to the gym and eating properly ...

But if you asked me that same question right now, I'd say that I'd really like it if I could connect to my school servers. Tomorrow, I think I might talk about my classes. Or research. Or both. Unless, of course, there are more requests.

Teaching Carnival 15?

And by the way, there's an amazing Teaching Carnival up at New Kid's. You should go read it!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Writing practice -- NaBloPoMo

Writing Practice -- NaBloPoMo

Ok, I'm going to try this. Y'all can post your requests, which I'll try to honor, and I will try to post more serious stuff that will help me to get my head back in the writing game, because this semester and the new preps are kicking my butt!

Catching Up

Catching Up

Wow -- it's been a while since I blogged. Personally, it's been an interesting week or so. In a fairly surprising turn of events, I've been invited to visit a friend who lives in an exciting and cool city, so I get to travel many miles (note to self -- must check partner airlines and (finally) update my name on my frequent flyer programs, 'cos I'll be getting miles for this!

Also, I've been shopping, and bought this jacket -- for $99! Not bad for a jacket that retails for $250. It's not glamorous, but it looks good for icky weather. Apparently, it's not all that good for snowboarding, but I don't snowboard.

Also, and this is probably TMI, my cat has nasty bad breath. He's washing himself a couple of feet away, and I can smell his breath from here. I think I need to get a kitty toothbrush. Or maybe just kitty toothpaste. I hear that if they eat it, it still helps, and Mr. Soppy is not really good about having people play with his mouth. He turns into Mr. Fetal Position.

School-wise, I have one class that makes me want to bang my head against the wall. There are some very bright students, but the energy level is so incredibly sucky that even when I run through a set of questions that point back directly to things that I or the students have said in the previous 40 minutes, no one can or will answer. When I mention this, someone will invariably say, "It's [insert day of week]." My other survey never ceases to amaze me. I thought that this would be the class from hell, but after I gave them the, "OK, this is college and these are the expectations you need to get used to" speech, they responded in really wonderful ways. They are fairly brave, there's some cameraderie, and if they don't understand something, they ask. I don't just mean about historical stuff, but they ask basic mechanical questions about how class works, and what they are supposed to be doing. Some of them are infuriating in that several of them are barely starting the paper that's due on Friday, but they are trying and engaged -- and some of them are really stretched. I can honestly say I have little to no respect for many of the people in charge of athletic programs. We have one coach on campus who actually thinks that our athletes may practice too much -- he thinks that they have a harder time getting up their energy for real games because they're always practicing. This is not true for some of the other coaches, who have their students eating and sleeping and drinking sports -- so much so that they really are not able to take proper breaks to eat and sleep, let alone keep up with classes.

Ok -- I have to stop for a minute. I've got some crime show on right now in the backgrouns, and how stupid is it that they keep talking about athletes getting Fulbright scholarships??? Are there Fulbrights for athletes?

That's about it right now. Just thought I'd mention that I was still here, still working, panicking about getting in a bunch of little grant applications so I can go to conferences and maybe get some summer research funding...

And by the way, does anybody know what the timeline is for finding out if my K'zoo paper has been accepted -- I had to submit to the general sessions, because I kind of waited till the deadline.