Thursday, August 31, 2006

Here be Dinosaurs

Here be Dragons Dinosaurs

I know that there are people out there who are quite responsible about the home-schooling of their children in terms of providing instruction and curriculum that is similar or more rigorous than that provided in the public schools. I do not care. Here is why: schools are about more than education. They are about socialization and citizenship. They are about being members of the greater society. Personally, I think everybody should go to public school, but I can accept that accredited parochial and other private schools serve a purpose that public schools don't. And to some extent, I think that private schools still provide that sense of communal belonging and responsibility. But if you care about education at all, and you home school your children, shame on you for opting out. Because while you might be doing a very good job, the eloquent arguments of people like you allow people who
teach stuff like Beowulf, Killer of Dinosaurs! to 'teach' their children at home.

I'm not even going to go into how offensive I find it that home-schoolers frequently demand that their children be allowed to participate in music and sports programs provided in the public schools. You opt out? You're out. I just don't think people should be able to opt out. Education isn't something that should be provided by the non-educated. Parental rights shouldn't trump the rights of children, and the rights of the general public to insist that all our children -- the people who will grow op to live and work with us -- be well educated with us. If you don't like the public schools in terms of facilities, safety, and rigor, get off your ass and do something about it. With the time you are supposed to be spending home-schooling your kid, you could be effecting real change for lots of kids.

(Please note also the blatant plagiarism. That's a good, Christian lesson. Not.)

Monday, August 28, 2006

... and all is right with the world

... and all is right with the world

Today was the first day of classes. I didn't sleep at all well last night. I was too nervous, had a migraine yesterday afternoon, and consequently didn't really get myself as organized for the dread upper division course as I'd planned. All of my classes are on the same days -- which gives me writing days, if I use my time well and carefully. I was a little worried about this, but now? Well, I walked into my first class, and everything just slid into place.

I know I talked a little last week about how this is New Year's for academics. I've noticed elsewhere that other people are writing their Academic Year Resolutions. I'll get to those soon. Really. But it's funny. With all the craziness of the summer, and not getting enough done to feel like I deserved my new job, and panicking about doing the job, I kind of forgot something. I know this job.

So when I walked into my first class -- and boy, were they a tough room: it took most of the hour to get any of them to crack a smile -- I was a little worried. But I thought, it's syllabus day. It's ice-breaker day. You can do this. And I knew I could. What was surprising was that the actual doing of it seemed to lead to a kind of revelation. Nothing particularly stunning, really. In fact, to most of you, it's probably a little lame. But there it was, this complete kind of remembering, of knowing that I not only knew what I was doing in the classroom, but that I knew how to do my job. The whole job. For so long, I've felt like a teacher and make-believe scholar. I mean, I've been calling myself a lion cub, but I've been waiting to be found out and demoted (or maybe just moved) to monkey status. Because They Will Find Out. Every time I've talked about writing a paper, or publishing something, there's been a part of me that felt I was pretending, as though, if I acted like one of the big cats, maybe people wouldn't notice and would let me keep hanging out with them.

Today was different. Yes, I was still a bit panicked about the upper division class (somehow, people kept coming in while I was trying to finish prepping it). After meeting the students (two of whom were there when I gave my job talk, and whom I really liked and want to both impress and not let down), I was a bit more worried, but they all seemed ok with the, "the class is still in development stages, because the schedule to some extent depends on how many students we end up with and how much time we consequently allot to presentations" explanation. Possibly because it's true :-) But somehow, all the second-guessing was gone. I taught. I went over what I needed to get done after classes. I took care of administrative stuff, answered panicky student e-mails, tweaked the Blackboard sites ... and then went to pick up ILL books, e-mailed a panel organizer, thought about ways I might write the abstract that could fit the panel without substantially changing the nature of what I want to look at ... and then I talked to my department chair for a while about course offerings, my responsibilities, program assessment and how the department planned on working together to do well ... And I realized that I'd made this tiny mental shift. Yes, I was checking things off a list ... "I need to do x for class, I need to write this abstract and I have a review due this weekend (Oh crap!), and I have to start checking out editors for the project" But it was a different kind of list. I guess it was a shift from "Here are all the things I have to do to have this kind of job" to "This is what I do, and here are the things I need to get done." It's something akin to a fleeting moment last year when I realised that, as an historian, I am a writer, rather than someone who writes papers.

It's late, and has been a long day, so I know I'm not being as articulate as most of my blogfriends -- or even as articulate as I can be. And frankly, I'm a little out of practice. As New Kid, one of my oldest blogfriends, recently pointed out blogging is a kind of writing exercise, and I'm out of shape! But the New Year has started, and I think I have a better idea of who I am this year. I am someone who might actually know how to do the job I trained for and was (finally) hired for (although apparently, I am not able to avoid ending a sentence with a preposition). For the first time*, I feel like everything fits. It's a weird feeling, but I think I like it.

*professionally, at least.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Carnivalesque 18

Carnivalesque 18

The wonderful Sharon Howard, chief mistress of misrule, has returned to us to put together the latest Early Modern Carnivalesque. I'd tell you more about it, but I have a migraine and have to lie down now ...

I hate Blogger Beta

i hate Blogger Beta

I so hate it. Because since I signed up for blogger, I have changed my name and got a G-mail account under my new name. But now, every time I try to log into my blogger account, my g-mail cookie tries to override my Blogger login. It's seriously annoying.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

I missed my Bloggiversary!

I missed my Bloggiversary!

I even blogged on that day! But anyway, apparently Blogenspiel turned 4 on July 30. Wow.

So, a retrospective --

Year one:
Well -- Finally got the template set up the way I think I might like it...although I can't figure out how to put in a place for comments. Just in case you're wondering, I am another blogging medievalist. I teach at several colleges, including this one, this one, and sometimes here as well. There are lots of blogging medievalists, so why not one more?

Year two:

I somehow stopped blogging from 9 July till 17 September, 2003, so here's the September entry ... Ok, Cranky Professor ... I'm blogging. Well, since last I blogged, I typically missed the deadline to try to write for the
Chronicle of Higher Education"first person" series for money. But that's because I was getting a Full-time Faculty Position!! Woohoo! But seriously folks ... it's a one year visiting position. Maybe two. No more than that, because then I get dangerously close to mandatory tenure-track. So what have I been doing? New faculty stuff.

Gotta say, this may be the best thing to happen -- I get to do all the new faculty stuff, but in a weird, still not really faculty kind of way. So I went to a New Faculty workshop, where we listened to a bunch of really awful people who talked in Edu-jargon (ugh!) and one guy tried to convince us that good teachers and good researchers were in some way mutually exclusive -- and that we Community College professors were in some what morally superior ... The breakaway sessions were pretty good, though, once we got past talk about assessment and outcomes. The crap we don't learn about in grad school ...

CHeck back later for the motivational speaker who drove many of us to question our self-worth and sent us into a lithium-needing downward spiral!

Year Three:

The death of a good friend meant I didn't blog the last couple of weeks in July, but here's my first August post, where I talk about being a good academic/wife.

Year Four:

Doods! Can you believe it? This blog was born three years ago today. It's also my roommate,
Professor Kinsey's birthday. She just started blogging, so there isn't much up there yet. I've never actually celebrated the date before, but Ralph Luker at Cliopatria pointed out a while back that I've been blogging for some time, so I looked it up. Damn.

But those of you who are familiar with the 'spiel will know that Sundays are days I tend to try to play catch-up. I have much grading to do and a quiz to post. I'm feeling very full after a wonderful birthday brunch in a revolving restaurant, and am suffering the aftereffects of yesterday's really exciting allergic reaction to one of the most useful prescription drugs on the market. Not wanting to post a quiz (lots of cutting and pasting, because stupid McGraw-Hill sucks -- no test cartridge for Web CT. Last time I use their friggin' book. Of course, Web CT is no joy for me to work with, either. If your school is trying to avoid paying the costs of Blackboard (which at least works and is really intuitive), I suggest trying Angel out. Or try Web CT. Some people like it, I hear.

Update: D'oh. Yesterday was the day. I was unable to blog, as I spent all day with my adoptive (in the affectionate sense) nieces, two of whom were in summer camp plays -- Three plays in one day. Noon till 8:30. I am a good auntie.

And now I'm almost a month into year five. Sheesh! But think about it -- This blog has chronicled 4+ years of job searches -- all of which resulted in some kind of employment, a divorce, a couple of moves, a death ... and begun many friendships, resurrected many old friendships, and really -- I believe this -- helped to resurrect my academic career and get me to where I am now. Thanks, everybody!

Monday, August 21, 2006

A New Year

A New Year

Well, the academic year is starting soon for most of us. Some of us have already started classes, some of us are in prep week, trying to get work done between seemingly interminable year-opening welcomes and meetings, and some of us still have a month or so to go! It's also a time when many of us do an accounting of what we've got done -- or not got done -- over the summer, in order to make our new year's resolutions and plans. Lots of depressing self-reflection goes on this time of year, sometimes deserved, sometimes not. Did we use our time well? What should we have done more of, or done better? What will we do next year to avoid feeling this way at the end of the summer?

Well, I'm having a hard time feeling like I've accomplished anything. Objectively, I suppose I have. I've moved across the country and settled in reasonably well in New Town. I'm mostly over the worst of the depression that hit right after I got here. Considering my last year and a half, the stress/depression shouldn't have been a surprise. I've survived my first week of being an official member of the SLAC community. I've got a grip on my classes, although I haven't quite got the syllabi together. Just a couple of days ago, I came up with an idea I want to explore for a paper to give at Kzoo next year, although I can't remember if there was a session in the CFP that looked appropriate for a paper on women and landholding/owning in the eastern part of Francia. (if you have ideas on secondary sources, though, please shoot them my way. This is new territory for me.) Still, I should be able to hammer out an abstract by the 15th, even if it has to go into the general hopper. And I believe (according to e-mail conversations with the RT organizer) that I'm set for a pedagogical panel, which I've been able to use to coordinate a new teaching experiment and will also be using to put in a bid for extra conference money and will with luck result in a write-up for a pedagogical journal of some kind. I hope.

So, not so bad. I've also written the first 500 words of a review. It took about an hour and a half, once I started, and then I just kind of stopped. It wasn't till I read this post at New Kid's that I realised I've really not been writing much at all this summer. One of the parts of adjusting was a very odd kind of withdrawal from my friends and family. I've been reading blogs, but haven't felt much like putting myself out enough to blog about much of interest or importance. New Kid's post made me realise that I really do write more scholarly stuff when I'm blogging about my work. It helps me to settle and to get into writing mode, because I really do compose in my head. I know it doesn't always seem that way, but my blog writing, as informal as it is, is public writing. So as part of my plan for a productive new year, I think you can expect more serious blogging, too. I think I will also try to take at least one vacation where I do not try to work. I need to remember how to have real down time, so I stop feeling guilty and unproductive all of the time.

You know on second thought, I'm not entirely a schlub. I got some stuff done. Not as much as I'd like, but still. Not as much as a Senior Colleague who at last count had written about 75,000 words, but ... hmph. Next time, maybe I'll tell you what I planned to have done by now! It includes having read Heather and Smith on the fall of Rome ... soon, really.

Hope your summers were more productive and that you all have a great new year!

Last of the Photo Meme

Last of the Photo Meme

This is my favorite coffee/tea cup. It isn't the biggest one I use most often, but it is my fave. Posted by Picasa

This is a view from my window. Not sayin' which window, though! Posted by Picasa

This is one of my favourite things about New Town. I didn't take the picture -- it's from the Wikipedia. I haven't been able to get a picture yet. But I see these guys all over, and I don't have a lawn, so they're just big, slow, cute critters to me! I also like the wild rabbits. And there are foxes, too, but I've only seen them dead. No 'possums, though, which is just plain weird. I don't think I've ever gone this long without seeing 'possum roadkill. Roadkill here is way different than I'm used to.  Posted by Picasa

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Quotes Meme

Quotes Meme

Tagged by Medieval Woman ...
Go here and look through random quotes until you find 5 that you think reflect who you are or what you believe. Repost in your journal and tag 5 friends.

  • He felt that his whole life was some kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it. Douglas Adams (1952 - 2001), "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy"

  • That cannot be safe which is not honourable. Cornelius Tacitus (55 AD - 117 AD)

  • God does not play dice with the universe; He plays an ineffable game of his own devising, which might be compared, from the perspective of any of the other players, to being involved in an obscure and complex version of poker in a pitch dark room, with blank cards, for infinite stakes, with a dealer who won't tell you the rules, and who smiles all the time. Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, "Good Omens"

  • Verbosity leads to unclear, inarticulate things. Dan Quayle (1947 - ), 11/30/88

  • I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. James Madison (1751 - 1836)

And, of course, my freebie --- I may be love's bitch, but at least I'm man enough to admit it.

consider yourselves tagged!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

HIstory Carnival 37

History Carnival XXXVII

There's a new History Carnival up at Mode for Caleb. I know I always tell you all to go and read, but I think this may be one of the best carnivals I've seen in quite a while. There's a great post by Tim Burke, something on the sinking of the Vasa, Romanian pyramids ... in short, something for just about everybody. And you should go there anyway, because I always think of Caleb at the beginning of term, when I assign his post on skimming to my students!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

First Official Day at SLAC

First Official Day at SLAC

Was a success? I will blog more later, and will really finish the Photo Meme -- as soon as I find my favouorite thing for P/H. But what with people disappearing from my blogworld lately, I've been going through a little bit of Tribble fear. Weird, since I actually have the T-T job, and I think a couple of people at SLAC know I blog. But mostly, I'm just trying to process all the new information and new experiences, and am feeling torn away from the people I love and isolated (even though I'm meeting lots of nice new people, they aren't my people yet, if that makes sense) and it's weird to be starting a new year without the peeps I know and love and miss, especially the Mathemetician, the Vulcanologist, Professor Kinsey, Purposeful Woman, Computer Goddess, the Geographer, Gastropoda Regina and Chemistry Biker. Of course, the fact that Gastropoda Regina is off to super-exotic locale to teach for a couple of years means I'd have missed her anyway ...

Anyhoo ... I'll update soon.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Carnivalesque XVIII Host Sought

Carnivalesque XVIII Host Sought

It's getting to be that time, and we are still looking for volunteers to host August's Carnivalesque -- an Early Modern edition.

Carnivalesque is certainly not just for historians (or for academic scholars). We welcome perspectives from related disciplines, especially literary studies, archaeology, art history, philosophy - in fact, from anyone who enjoys writing about anything to do with the not-so-recent past. You can nominate your own writing and/or that of other bloggers, but please try not to nominate more than one or two posts by any author, and limit nominations to fairly recent posts, preferably since the last edition (on the relevant period) and certainly within the last three months.

Potential hosts should be regular bloggers with some knowledge of and interest in pre-modern history (though, again, not necessarily academics). If you are interested in hosting an edition of Carnivalesque, please comment below or send an e-mail to Another_damned_medievalist AT-SIGN hotmail DOT com, noting whether you are particularly interested in early modern or ancient/medieval, and telling us a little about your background and historical interests.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

We Interrupt this hiatus

We Interrupt This Hiatus

To say, I had a blogger meet-up today!!!! Tiruncula and I met up, after much travel, in Her Mom's City. She took me all over, showed me all the cool stuff, let me make lots of "ooh" and "aaah" sounds while noting all the cool things, and we got to know each other a bit better. Sooo much fun. Can't wait till we can arrange another meeting.

Friday, August 04, 2006

History Carnival XXXVI

History Carnival XXXVI

Aaargh!!! I am just not good with dates when not teaching! History Carnival XXXVI is up at Clews and, despite a glitch in the submission mechanism, it's pretty darned good. Go and read something worthwhile!

But I'm thinking, having looked at the comment traffic there and elsewhere for the July and August carnival(esque)s, that we should perhaps behave like civilized people and take a hiatus in July and August?

August 15th's Carnival will be hoted by Caleb McDaniel at Mode for Celeb. You can submit suggestions to the form or gmail him at calebmcd.

Also, still looking for hosts for the next couple of issues of Carnivalesque Button. interested parties can e-mail me or Sharon Howard or just drop a comment here.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Reading for Pleasure Wednesday Meme

Reading for Pleasure Wednesday Meme

Even though no one tagged me, this meme is going around. I know NK didn't tag me because she doesn't like to enable my procrastinatory habits...

  1. One book that changed your life?

    Tough call. But maybe John Christopher's Tripods series, because it was the first time I think I identified something I was reading as sf, and then started picking up books that said "sf". I'd read sf before, I think mostly Andre Norton, but to me they were just good stories in the way that Zilpha Keatley Snyder and Mary Renault and Joan Aiken were good stories. So, voracious reader that I was, I read all the sf on the family bookshelves. Still not sure reading Stranger in a Strange Land and The Left Hand of Darkness at 12 was something my mother intended -- but I don't think it was her book! The other was at about the same time ... maybe a little earlier. Susan Cooper's Dark is Rising books. I'd like to say that they turned me into a medieval historian, but no. They just opened up fantasy and Arthurian/Celtic legends to me. From there to the Mabinogion, which just helps when I'm reading other stuff.

  2. One book you have read more than once?

    Persuasion (it's one ... I've read all of Austen more than once ... most things I love I re-read). But Persuasion is my favorite Jane Austen, I think because I identify with Ann Elliott more than her other heroines.

  3. One book you would want on a desert island?

    Maybe War and Peace, because I'm never read it, and it's long and it's the Napoleonic Wars that I don't know reasonably well (i.e., not naval or Iberia)

  4. One book that made you laugh?

    Tons. Pretty much anything by Terry Pratchett. And, sadly, Robert Aspirin. But I think the last real guffaws were when I read High Fidelity. NO, wait --- Holy Blood, Holy Grail.

  5. One book that made you cry?

    Again, too many to count. The first? probably Charlotte's Web.

  6. One book you wish had been written?
    Patrologia Latinae for Dummies or maybe The Idiot's guide to Sources for Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. Of course, if such a book existed, I'd be out of a job, so maybe scratch that.

  7. One book you wish had never been written?

    Atlas Shrugged

  8. One book you are currently reading?

    Dürrenmatt, Der Richter und sein Henker

  9. One book you have been meaning to read?

    Iain Pears, An Instance of the Fingerpost and a metric ton of sf. (good thing this is about pleasure reading)

  10. Now tag five people: Seeking five volunteers, please ...

More photos coming. I'm just looking for the right shots!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Photomeme request #3

Photomeme request #3

Out of order, but Wegie's request was easier, since I'd just taken some kitty snaps ... Several pics below the cut!

Two kitties on the porch Posted by Picasa

Girlie on the porch Posted by Picasa

Soppy on the porch Posted by Picasa

Mr Soppy likes the pillows Posted by Picasa

The girl in the hall ... otherwise, she sleeps where you can't find her Posted by Picasa