Thursday, November 25, 2010

NaBloPoMo 25 -- dinner and big cats

NaBloPoMo 25 -- dinner and big cats

So I am at a friend's/adopted sister's for Thanksgiving. Me, her, and her husband. And the cats. One is rather large .. 27 lbs and about 3 feet long, not including his tail. The other is also not small, but only in a normal not-small-cat kind of way. He's also very orange. We've been talking about life, and teaching, and departmental politics. One of the nice things is that both of them are modernists who sometimes do American history. So they can offer sensible opinions of what normal methodology is for people in their fields. This has been really helpful, both in validating my feelings that all of the people in my department don't mean the same thing when we use the same words (for example, in my world, document analysis almost always requires a close reading of the text, as well as demonstrating an understanding of the context; in theirs, it's far more about context, and close readings are optional at best). It's also been very helpful for my understanding where some of my Americanist colleagues are coming from. Apparently, when Americanists go to conferences, they don't really quiz each other on the use of evidence the way medievalists often do. For me, this is a little weird. I mean, if I went to a panel on Merovingian bishops, I'd expect to hear references to Gregory or maybe Venantius, or... you get the idea. There's a general sort of corpus of narrative history that most of us are at least vaguely familiar with, and we examine the use of those sources as much as anything else, I think. But apparently, this isn't true in all subfields. This explains a lot to me about some of my department's dynamics. It also means I need to re-think some of the ways I teach the methods course, so that the students working with the Americanists will have a better idea of what they need to do on their theses...

ETA: It's interesting that my friend described my approach to what I think of as documents or sources as more akin to a literary approach to texts: very old-fashioned; something that might have been acceptable 40 years ago, but would never be published today. In fact, she intimated, it was like the approach of lit people, where everything is reduced to a text, and context occasionally is missed out. For my part, I said I thought that the other approach was clearly good for synthesis and focusing on context, but the actual primary source evidence seemed to be getting short shrift. In some ways, it seems to me that it's the difference between starting with the primary sources and working outward and starting with a question and the scholarship in working inward. There should be a conversation between the two, obviously, and I doubt I will ever be convinced that the old-fashioned approach is therefore less worthy (in part because I will still always have the attitude of someone who is expected to have more tools in her toolbox to start with, but is also big enough to allow for more tools). But it is probably good to get the perspective of someone else, because this really plays into ideas of academic rigor and assessment.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

NaBloPoMo 23 -- Grading Jail

NaBloPoMo 23 -- Grading Jail

That's where I am. Forever. With a cranky cat. And a pleasant and sleepy cat. Guess which one is lurking over my grading! The weekend will be too short. Aargh!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

NaBloPoMo 21 -- back home

NaBloPoMo 21 -- Home again

Hey all, I'm forgiving myself for the lack of blogging because I was at a conference. I was at the SEMA conference, enjoying myself with people I like. There were some great people there, and some good papers -- especially those I heard on Saturday morning, which included a very nicely put-together one on Hildemar of Corbie and the construction of monastic space and my favorite (and not because it was given by The Cranky Professor): one on Agobard of Lyons and the Magonians. It wasn't really about space aliens, which made it all the better because we got to talk about them anyway.

Given the subject of the conference, it wasn't surprising that there were lots of papers that referred to revenants, ghosts, and other such things. Nor was it a big shock that many discussions included references to the impending Zombie Apocalypse. I was polite, and did not correct the person who used I Am Legend as an example of a zombie story. People. Read the book before seeing the movie. There were also some papers that had some iffy bits, I think. I'm not convinced we should consider John Donne to be a Tudor writer. Really, I think he is much more representative of the unpleasant James Stuart and his religion than any of the Tudors... In fact, there were a couple of lit papers I heard that could have been much stronger had the authors been better versed in the history they used to attempt to contextualize their arguments.

It's a funny thing: most of my friends who are lit people are really pretty damned good with the history. Most of the historians I know who use literature are pretty good at using it, too -- although I will admit that most of us tend to rely on the safer historical interpretations. Because of that, I tend to think of all medievalists and classicists to be interdisciplinary types as a rule. This experience reminds me that interdisciplinarity is not merely about using each other's sources, but having a rather firmer understanding of and rooting in each other's disciplines. It also reminded me that honestly? periodization across the disciplines can be sort of difficult.

Anyway, it was a very great time, and my esteemed colleague from VA Tech and Modern Medieval put on a really good conference. There were blogger meetups without planning them, and I got to report some fun stuff back to a person who probably needs a new nickname, so that was nice.

Otherwise, my weekend also included some interesting prospects on the personal front...maybe. And I have now officially started to worry about my writing commitments.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

NaBloPoMo 14 --bzuh?

NaBloPoMo 14 --bzuh?

The world has conspired against me today. Back tomorrow.

Monday, November 15, 2010

NaBloPoMo 15 -- halfway done

NaBloPoMo 15 -- halfway done

You know, I haven't posted about X in a while. But you know, he is the best proof in the world that sometimes recognizing a bad marriage, or bad compatibility for marriage, is a good thing. We are so much better as friends than we were as spouses. I appreciate him far more as a friend, and he seems to notice far more about my moods than he did as a husband. I'm sorry it didn't work out, but very glad and very thankful that we still have a relationship that is well worth having. I'm also glad that he has a very cool fiance who likes me :-)

Sometimes, life can work out for the best.

All of this is to say that it is good when we are reminded of the things that *are* good in life.

I had two of those moments today, which was a completely depressing and infuriating day in several other ways. I left class disheartened because my students Just. Did. Not. Get. It. In a way that I could not have anticipated.

I mentioned this to a sort-of colleague I met on the staircase (sort-of, because he's another academic, a Political Scientist, but he doesn't teach at SLAC. He's the President's husband who sometimes works on campus). Anyway, I mentioned the thing -- the students really did not get that the Pact of Umar was not something everybody agreed to so that people of different religions could live together in respect and peace, even though they knew it was imposed on Christians after a conquest!.

And he said something that helped to crystallize the issue for me: "They don't understand power."

And so much fell into place for me. I really need to change some of my teaching, especially in those classes where I can because the outcomes are things like "gain multiple perspectives and demonstrate global awareness." It may just be a good idea to start off the class with a set of theoretical propositions and explanations. What happens in pre-20th C wars? What is slavery, really? How do different cultures define race and ethnicity?


Sunday, November 14, 2010

NaBloPoMo 14 -- teaching reading

NaBloPoMo 14 -- teaching reading

(note: flashy auras happening, so spelling/typing likely to be affected)

Hmm. I'm teaching methodology and historiography next fall. Not my turn. Grrr. On the other hand, I'm looking forward to undoing some less-than-effective teaching. Some of that is down to me. I don't think it's that I've been doing things badly, but I haven't really seen what wasn't working as clearly or as soon as I'd like.

But I need to make some changes even sooner than fall. Next term, I'm going to have to start changing my assignments for reading and analyzing primary sources. I'd been focusing on getting students to talk about what sorts of evidence a text could provide, and put the text in context. Mostly, I can get them to talk about authorship and purpose, but more and more, the students aren't connecting those things to the text. There's no overall understanding. So starting next semester, the exercises will focus on context and really giving detailed discussions of how the document fits into the time period -- as well as some discussion of what's going on in them. And I will probably also have to get them to write out vocabulary lists, to be honest. I won't quiz them, but my students are not so good with words.

In the methods class -- and in my future upper-division classes -- I will be working more and more on getting them to read secondary works critically. I was trying to figure out when I learned to read articles, and I never was taught. But as an undergrad, we were assigned a lot of what were then DC Heath Readers (called Problems in European History). For those unfamiliar, the readers focused on a time period and/or series of major questions, and were made up of seminal and/or famous works (abridged) that addressed those things. We were never asked to compare the view of X versus Y, but we were asked to reiterate and discuss the various arguments. So I guess there was some sort of absorption of the ideas of argument and historiography without explication. Me, I'm going to be more explicit and those things are going to be integrated into every class I can manage, and if I can't get pre-assembled ones, I'll just choose articles myself. I'm also going to have to push the vocab skills and the "look up what you don't know/understand" skills. Most of my students simply don't look things up -- they just keep reading. I'm gong to have to tell them (many times) that I still run into references and allusions I don't get, and *i* look things up. And I will have to teach them to recognize the signposts of academic writing: fore example, when do quotes indicate a quote, and when do they (also) indicate an allusion to a larger idea? And what are hermeneutics?

However.... before doing that, I think I will ask you all to help me. Do you know of any similar collections or titles? Do you have ideas of controversies or subjects on which there are clearly very different interpretations that are also likely to be interested to undergrads? Leave recs in the comments, and I will put together one big "sources for teaching" post!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

NaBloPoMo 13 sleepy

Nablopomo 13 -- sleepy

Dinner. Movie. Wine. No date. Just hanging with a friend. Sleep now.

Hey -- I'm posting...

Friday, November 12, 2010

NaBloPoMo 2010 -12 -- migraines

NaBloPoMo 2010 -12 -- migraines

This is not my typical post. It's not about teaching or history or anything else like that. It is instead all about me. I'm blogging it because honestly, when you only have your own body to compare with, it's hard to know what is normal. So I suppose I might be some freak of nature and you will all run screaming the next time you see me. But probably not.

This odd thing happened to me at the therapist's the other day. She suggested that my brain sounded like it had some form of ADHD, but then retracted that when I pointed out that I can totally concentrate, sometimes almost obsessively, on one thing for literally hours on end, once I'm stuck in. This is so true that I can actually forget to drink or eat. But most of the time, my brain is spinning. I can feel myself trying to shove things aside till I'm in something like 'the zone.' I am not so much able to live in the moment, because there is always so much happening. My students have been known to tease me because I can be writing on the board and talking and, mid-sentence, tell a student to stop texting or sim, and then go back to the same idea. Or I can be mid-sentence and have an image flashing through my mind that takes me horribly off course, and sometime after a digression into why they should all see Casablanca or read the Bible, wend my way back to the topic we were discussing. It's less like being a butterfly than having a magpie in control... "Ooh! Shiny!" or like the dog in Up: "Squirrel!"

What does this have to do with migraines?

Well, I have them. They come in many flavors: the kind with kalleidoscopic vision and bright colors; the kind that feels like someone took a rubber mallet and hit the side of my head; the kind that feels like my head's in a vise... any or all of these can be accompanied by extreme pain and nausea, although fortunately as I get older, it's more nausea and nagging pain that drugs can dull to where it's bearable.

But there's another thing to my migraines. When I get them, I become incredibly sensitive. I've noticed it before, obviously -- these things have been plaguing me for 20 years. But this morning, as I lay in bed, not able to work because I couldn't see and sort of wanted to throw up, I realized that my migraines are like exaggerated versions of what my brain is always doing. Migraine brain is freaky, because so many things are going on, and it's like I can see them close up. My eyes are closed, but there are still the flashy lights of the aura. There are so many things happening -- there's the garbage truck coming down the street, and the signal at the next block has changed because someone is grinding his gears moving from first to second, the little cat is purring, and the big cat's fur is rustling on the pillowcase next to my head while he purrs in a different key. I can feel not only the sheets against my skin, but evey place that my skin touches my skin feels like it's almost burning, or electrified. Meanwhile, I'm noticing and trying to focus, but that only serves to make one thing louder -- everything else is going on. And of course I'm thinking thinky things, about writing this blog post and what I need to do at the office and whether I'll make it to my gym class and how loud everything is. At the same time, I feel entirely disconnected. That may be the sumatriptan, though :-)

I have no idea what migraines are like for anybody else, but for me, they are all about sensory overload. The pain and the nausea are in some ways merely secondary discomforts. I monitor the pain because they tell migraine sufferers to do so, just in case this time it's an aneurysm or stroke. The hard part is the being so conscious of everything -- and then the exhaustion later, both from the pain and, as I realized today, all of that processing.

And I think I know why I feel like I needed to write this down. I wonder if whatever it is that makes my brain susceptible to migraines is related to why I often feel assaulted by noise that other people might not notice, or why I sometimes have a hard time compartmentalizing and focusing. hmmmm. Anybody else out there have migraines and recognize any of this?

Thursday, November 11, 2010





Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime . . .
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.

*photo courtesy of

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

NaBloPoMo 10-- More teaching stuff

NaBloPoMo 10 -- More teaching stuff

Well, I just read one of the worst papers ever -- a primary source interpretation exercise. This is one of the things I have trouble dealing with. The paper was not simply bad because it lacked a thesis, or because the lack of thesis was not supported well, with, like, actual evidence. It was a bad paper because there was no evidence that the student had got past the lower stages of Bloom's taxonomy. By that I mean that the student had barely got past "identify". There was some attempt at paraphrasing the texts themselves, but no attempt (despite the instructions and the fact that, when we discuss texts in class, the first questions I ask are always the ones that establish a bit of context) to do anything more, and no attempt to establish context. Moreover, it's not clear that the student actually understood the context -- or the texts.

Now, apart from the fact that I really shouldn't have to deal with students who cannot do college-level work, it's clear that this is part of a bigger issue. It's not a new issue -- it's one that Sam Wineberg has written about many times -- reading like a historian is natural for some of us, but for most people, it's a learned skill. More to the point, I think it's a skill that requires a person to unlearn a lot before she learns it. It would help if I knew how students learned to read anything!

I've looked around for help on this, and honestly, although there are tons of books and aids to help students learn to write in the field, all of them expect a particular level of reading skills. Some of those skills are really not as clear as we might like them to be. So how do we teach our students to read primary sources? Do you have any ideas?

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

NaBloPoMo 2010 -9

NaBloPoMo 2010 -9 Thinking about what works

Lots going on today, mostly catching up and marking. Lots more to come. One of the very few benefits of being so behind on things this semester is that I'm starting to see some things that the students just don't get -- and also how I am and am not teaching those things. So, for example, I'm trying to get them to do primary source interpretations. For years, I've focused more and more on getting the students to show how a historian could use the information in a given document. Sometimes, this is pretty easy -- If I give the students a set of laws, then they can usually reach the conclusion that society X considered Y an important issue, and give examples of why. This year, I got some really good essays on Ancient Near Eastern societies, based on a couple of law codes, in which a coupe of students said that private property was one of the most important values of those societies -- and they used examples dealing with land, slaves, and women to demonstrate this.

But sometimes, they don't get it. Tonight, I realized that this might be because I'm choosing difficult documents, and perhaps also because what I haven't been teaching well is to contextualize the documents. So next semester, i'm going to change one of the written assignments to have the students place the document(s) in context and discuss authorship. Maybe that will make their final written assignment stronger.

In the meantime, as I mentioned the other day, my students aren't doing a great job with secondary literature. And I honestly don't think any of us are really teaching it. Academic writing is a big step up from textbook writing, even when the textbook is much more a monograph, like Innes' Introduction to Early Medieval Europe or James's Europe's Barbarians, both of which I have used. The students are reading for content, not argument. So I need to work on teaching that, too.

But for now, I need to go to bed.

Monday, November 08, 2010

NaBloPoMo-8 -- Monday Monday

NaBloPoMo-8 -- Monday Monday

Mondays are tough -- four classes, and usually a meeting on top of that. So I'm barely blogging. But tomorrow, I have marking and a bunch of random refreshing on the feudal Revolution/mutation/whatever this week.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

NaBloPoMo 2010 -7

NaBloPoMo 2010 -7 -- where did my weekend go?

Well, I did do one thing I meant to do this weekend. Two things, really. I raked a lot of leaves. And that was just the front. Seriously, what possessed me to buy a house with so many maple trees around? And I proofread a chapter for a friend. That was fun -- it gave me an excuse to read history, for a change. Meanwhile, the evil little cat is trying to ruin my new sofa. AAARGH.

Also, I went for a nice long walk with a friend today, along with dogs. Dogs are fun, but I'm glad that I don't have one. Too much work. Somehow, the weekend got away from me and I got little done in the way of catching up.

Somehow, I think more happened, but I can't seem to remember. Still, words on blog is the point of all this. This week, maybe even words on paper!

Saturday, November 06, 2010

NaBloPoMo 2010 -6

NaBloPoMo 2010 -6 Movie day

Despite having much to do, today was a good day for yard work and a matinee. saw RED, which was fun and funny. Lightweight entertainment provided by heavyweight actors. Tonight, an extra hour of sleep (or really, just the ability to get up at 8 and have it be back to being 7.

Hey -- it's a post, at least.

NaBloPoMo 2010 -- 5

NaBloPoMo 2010 -- 5 -- A little late

I wrote this in my head last night, and then never posted it. I think because I was trying to pay attention to the news. Or maybe a mystery on TV. Yesterday was fun -- unpacking feminist theory with my upper-division students. I saw in most of their faces the same looks I probably had at their ages -- "why do we have to know this? who cares? can't we just READ THE HISTORY??"

Except that the grown-up scholar me understands why. I still don't love theory much. I'm not a huge fan of historiography for its own sake. But, as one of my students said at the end of our hour together, "Some of that article makes more sense now."

Weirdly, from Scalzi a couple of weeks ago, to Barbara McManus and Jo Stanley yesterday, my teaching and scholarship -- and my life -- are moving more and more to questioning, critiquing, and challenging the dominant paradigms.

Thank you to my colleagues in the blogosphere and at Leeds (mostly, although some of you I see more at the zoo) and to the Tea Party for this. I think.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

NaNoBloMo 2010 - 4 what is work?

NaNoBloMo 4 -- What is work?

Today, I went in to the office, and advised a student. For an hour. And then another one. And then I had lunch, quickly. And then I advised a couple more students. In between, I tidied my desk, marked a few quizzes, caught up on my email (sort of, I have 1003 emails in my box that I haven't even read but right now an organization for which I am an officer is having elections, and I have to keep up with the listserv), tried to ring LDW, read three newspaper articles, I took a couple ten-minute breaks (I've got leechblock set) and liked a few things on facebook, checked requirements for a couple of minors for tomorrow's advising, updated Blackboard with revisions for assignments (which required actually reading through some stuff) for the survey courses for the rest of semester. And then my day was over.

I know lots of us have days like this. The thing is, these days always make me feel as though I haven't got anything done. And yet, almost all of that is part of my job. That is, I am paid actual money (albeit not much) to do these things. Nevertheless, admin days and advising days never really feel like productive days. I think this is in part just me, but more, it's our training. Even though we know when we are students that our professors are working when they are talking to us, and that they write, and that they go to meetings -- and teach, obviously -- I'm not sure it ever sinks in properly how much time is sucked away by those things. The messages we get in grad school are to avoid meetings and anything that keeps us from researching and writing. Teaching, when we do it, is the price we pay to be in grad school. For some of us, teaching is in fact why we went to grad school. We wanted to teach. In some ways, that's probably a very good thing. But in others, at least in my case, it meant that i cultivated early a habit of placing my teaching and my students ahead of my research. Research was the price I paid to be allowed to teach.

It's taken me a long time to get to where I not only appreciate, but also enjoy, research. But like most faculty in the US, the primary focus of my position is teaching. This is a wonderful thing, and suits me. In fact, it's the job I would have wanted more than anything in grad school -- a position with minimal publication requirements, a (relatively) heavy teaching load, and (on paper) not too many service demands. And yet on days that I teach four classes (usually two lectures, two seminars, all different levels, usually 3 preps), I come home feeling as if I haven't accomplished much -- except on the really interesting and weird days where the students and I go unexpected places with fun and stimulating results. I can spend two hours in a meeting putting together a policy that will affect the next several student cohorts, or the way we spend money on technology, or facilitating a workshop for my colleagues, and at the end of the day, all I can see is the work, especially the scholarship, that I haven't got 'round to.

I'm sure some of it is conditioned. My professional journals tell me I should carve out time for my own work in the same way the rest of the media tell me I should be thinner. And maybe that's it. It's our work. It serves us, and us alone. We're paid to do it, but for those of us not in serious research-oriented institutions, it's something that is supposed to be fit into our schedules on top of the teaching and service, even when it makes up a significant part of the evaluation process. For me, no matter how many times I read that it's perfectly normal to get little research done during the year, I still feel like an underachiever, especially on days like today. One of the things that sometimes enhances the stress and the guilt is also a gendered issue. At SLACs like mine, I think female faculty are also expected to be more nurturing than the male faculty are. The guys I work with are by and large much better at putting their own work first and saying no to things than are my female colleagues. Either that or they just don't talk about it much. I know in my own case, there is a lot of baggage that comes with me putting my own work first. In fact, I'm working on a homework assignment for my therapist* -- I have to do three nice things for myself this week, things that make me feel like I am being taken care of. And there is a little voice in the back of my head that says that probably, she doesn't mean sitting and reading a journal or writing a review, although those are the things I plan on doing. And maybe buying a Sunday paper and letting myself read through all of it while drinking coffee. Why? I have too much work to to do, even though it's work that will feel like I got nothing done when it's finished!

Anyway, I have no great wisdom on this. In fact, I'd really just like to ask you all how pervasive this feeling is, and what you do to combat it.

*yeah. Work-related stress.

NaNoBloMo 2010 -3

NaNoBloMo 3 -- I taught what today?

Today's classes included explanations of the following:

Hagia Sophia ➔ hagiography ➔ philo-sophy ➔philanthropy ➔Anglo-philia➔ bibliophilia

Carnivalesque and Bakhtin explained in part via Disney's Hunchback and how it worked with Hill's 'the world turned upside down' in reference to the idea of a pirate Utopia.

The last one kind of astounds me, given that I have no idea where I picked up anything about Bakhtin in the first place, let alone how to explain it to college undergraduates. But it was there in the article (well, the term 'carnivalesque' was, and I'm trying to get them to understand that they have to recognize allusions to scholarly arguments and theory in secondary sources, rather than simply reading at face value. But we unpacked phrases like "subverting the dominant structure," and I tried to explain things.

And the crickets chirped.

But this time, I asked if I needed to go over things a different way, and one of the students said, "I get it. I'm just thinking. This is ... deep. I didn't know that there was so much more to understanding something like this. " And heads nodded around the table.

So I took it further and said that it wasn't all that different from when I told them that they should all have a working knowledge of the Bible. And someone reminded me I'd also said they should be familiar with Shakespeare's major works. And then someone touched on Milton, and I pointed out that the Biblical allusions in Milton were pretty pervasive -- and that really, Pullman's His Dark Materials is far more interesting to people familiar with both Milton and the Bible (not to mention the history of the Reformation)...

I sometimes wonder what the hell it is I think I'm doing. But it's fun, whatever it is.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

NaBloPoMo 2010 -2

NaNoBloMo 2010 -2

Day two of the whole "let's blog every day" thingy. I was going to write something in response to Notorious, PhD's really interesting post on teaching and sabbatical, but it's been a really busy day, and dammit, there are election returns coming in.

Too many bastards are winning. There are far too many people in office (I'm looking at YOU, Minority Whip Cantor, and YOU, WI MN Rep Michelle Bachman, and a bunch of others) who make me ill. This is not so much because of their politics, but because of the glee with which they refuse to answer questions and/or blatantly lie. I don't really trust most politicians, but today I realized that I am getting increasingly offended by unseemly behavior.

Otherwise, the day was eaten up by student advising, a medical-ish appointment that is part of my way of dealing with crap at work, and VOTING!

I don't really understand what is going on in this country. I understand the anger. In understand feeling betrayed. I don't understand how people can say that these things are down to the Democrats, or to liberals in general. Neither party has covered itself in glory in the past many years, but these bizarre beliefs that we are supposed to be a Christian nation, or that allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire as planned will somehow mean raising taxes for people who make far less than $250k a year, or that corporations are people... that, I can't really understand.

UPDATE: Is anybody watching this crap with Boehner crying about his American dream?

Monday, November 01, 2010

NaNoBloMo 2010 -1

NaNoBloMo 2010 -1

So it's November, and I'm trying to get a bunch of things in order, so what better way to do it than to vow to blog daily for a month. Today's post will be somewhat random, and therefore bulleted...

  • I'm planning to respond to a lot of interesting blog posts this month...

  • Jason Isaacs is terribly attractive,even when playing the dreadfully unpleasant Lucius Malfoy. Gary Oldman is also strangely compelling. But did you ever think that just perhaps we might want to take Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix a little bit more in the way of an object lesson? Because really, every single death in the story is pretty much down to Harry and his amazing lack of self-reflection.

  • Guy Halsall's blog is starting to annoy me, because he's writing really interesting stuff I don't have time to read

  • You may also hear about my going to the gym. This is because I've been terrible about taking care of myself for the last year or so. And that is largely because there has been a lot of crap going on in my life, primarily professionally. That you won't be hearing about.

  • Speaking of which, spinning classes are hard, but not as hard as yard work. I'd forgotten all about that aspect of home-owning

  • again, or still, I'm amazed by how some faculty react when they hear the word "assessment" -- It's as if the word means, "we don't trust you to do your jobs and are going to scrutinize every little thing you do, and if it's not perfect, there will be Consequences!", when really, it mostly just means, "what is it that you want your students to learn, how can you tell if they are learning it, and what do you do if they aren't?" Instead of getting that it's perfectly ok to fail, and then fail better (as long as you document it), they instead talk about "gaming the system" -- even though the system is generally up to faculty to define. I mean really, it boggles the mind.

  • Meanwhile, I'm going to be trying to post boring updates about my research projects, just to keep me honest.

and that is my first post of the month. Sorry it's a bit dull.