are you sick of these updates yet? I am.
grad school blah blah blah teaching blah blah blah working blah blah blah.
* Exam #1 is on Friday morning, approx 92 hours from now.
* Excuse me while I spend the next three days re-reading Greek plays, The Faerie Queene, Paradise Lost, and several Shakespeare tragedies. I'm probably cool with them, but these are the works I have nightmares about forgetting when faced with questions about them. I'm cool with Beowulf, Sir Gawain and The Green Knight, several important Chaucerian things, metaphysical poetry, and enough 18th C novels to get me through.
* Unsurprisingly, I'm a hell of a lot more prepared for the GRE subject test (approx 116 hours from now) this time around.
* My students wrote an in-class essay today. They will revise this essay, workshop it, and turn it in all nice and pretty and such. A good idea (in almost all of our 1A classes, essay #7 is a revision of essay #6), except for them to get maximum revision-before-workshop time they should get their essays back on Wednesday. No, I don't know what the hell I was thinking when I made this schedule. Oh well.
* I cooked several things over the weekend, so I have plenty of prepared food in the house for the next week.
* Nothing to read for my two seminars this week. One seminar doesn't meet and the other consists of student presentations. Whew.
* My thesis proposal is finally in the hands of the graduate committee. I had to get a second reader at the very last minute because the logical choice for second reader [out of those people in the department who are allowed to be readers] hasn't even been around campus that we could tell, and thus I couldn't track her down. I think it'll work out better with this new second reader. He's my comp studies prof, and also splits time with the Am Studies dept, and is just an all-around cool guy.
* Back to work. I somehow managed not to enter any time yet in our time tracker tool for the month of October. All my tasks/time/etc indicators are sitting in my sent-mail folder and I have to go enter them into the tool. All 238 of them.
So on Wednesday morning I posted
about how Monday's class was a bummer and I hoped Wednesday's would be better because mentor prof would be there.
My students burst into spontaneous applause.
Once was for their classmate, a quiet (doesn't say a peep in class) but smart (I know that, they don't) girl who read paragraph 14 of "Letter from Birmingham Jail"— the one with all the semicolons. No one volunteered (surprise!) so I picked her. I did it on purpose because I knew she would know all the big words and could read it with the proper emotion. Boy was I glad she did. I was so proud of them for clapping for their classmate. I was also proud of them for having a good discussion and answering all the questions correctly and puzzling out the arguments and what not. You know, like good college students.
The second time they clapped was for mentor prof, who always gives a spiel to 1A classes about the benefits of a liberal arts major or at the very least a liberal arts minor. He's an eloquent speaker. He asked questions, they answered them, and they clapped at the end. Good kids.
rboc, slaphappy edition
* We didn't have a very good class the other day, trying to talk about Thoreau and a modern response to Thoreau. Today I'm tempted to hand out the in-class assignment and say something like "so this is a reading comprehension quiz on Bentham, Foucault, and the panopticon. Everyone's done the reading, right?" Because, after all, I'm trying to get them to think for themselves and as such they should say "what the hell?" But I'm thinking I'm too tired and they're probably too tired to think it's funny. So instead they'll be doing a worksheet on deductive reasoning.
* It's also observation day, so mentor prof will be sitting in the back taking notes about my every move. The good news is that I figured out the whole where to stand/what to do with myself
issue I had when I started doing this.
* On Saturday, my study group officially lost our collective minds. We started coming up with questions for the exam. For instance: "Discuss the case of the missing phallus in four novels from the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. At least one must be American and one must be British." We had noticed a prevalence of "war wounds" as we were discussing things. Or, "Several poets have written poems called 'The Pike'/'Pike' or 'The Fish.' From memory, explicate four such poems. Two poets must be American and at least one poet must be a woman." You get the idea. The scary thing is that these goofy examples aren't far from the actual questions!
* By far, the funniest moment was when we were discussing poems and talking about how our, um, less-intelligent fellow students might discuss them. [Have I told you all the "7th quarto" story? Additionally, surely I've mentioned Wordsworth's "wife," Dorothy, yeah?] For instance, we were reading Philip Larkin's poem "MCMXIV
" and we thought surely someone would ask something along the lines of "Who is this McMixiv person?"
I think you had to be there. We were laughing so hard that the people in the study group room next to us banged on the wall to tell us to shut up.
rboc, exams edition
* Jane Dark, real person
* Phone calls should not result in more work
. In this case, we thought of a paper to write together. Well, I said something like "hey, I have this idea for a paper and I don't want to write the British lit half of it."
* Phone calls to other people
should not result in a last-minute addition of a school to one's list of grad apps, especially when said school is outside the geographic bounds one has set. The messed up thing, though, is that I couldn't tell you all if I ended up going there, since it's geographically near certain pseudonymous people. Grrr. Well, let's just hope I get into choice #1.
* Today's class sucked. People don't read. Whatever, though...I already knew that. So, moving on. Hopefully Wednesday will be better, since mentor prof will be observing.
* Doing administrative things and studying things.
* Oh yeah...also WORKING.
In 13 days, 23 hours, and 21 minutes [from the time of this post] I will begin to write furiously on three questions about literature from the ancient greeks until 1800 (give or take).
That's a lot of literature.
I must say that our study group—5-6 hours per week for 15+ weeks—was a spectacular idea. I reserve the right to change my opinion if we all fail, but I don't think we will.
Participating in this group has been like having an extra seminar. Good thing I only took two seminars this semester!
Some faculty had a little Q&A session with 15 or so of us, to answer our questions about the exam (not content, more like test prep). My group had some specific questions, such as "Henry James: American/British wildcard?" and "Thomas Hardy: Victorian/modern wildcard?"—exam questions are often in the following form (actually, this is part of an actual question from a previous exam) so knowing the wildcards is important: "Compose an essay that examines six novels that center on an industrialized city. At least two of the six texts must be American, at least two must be British, at least two must be written by women, at least two must be Victorian, and at least two must be from the twentieth century."
What we didn't
ask is if reading "10 or 15 things from the list" was a good idea, as one guy did...because "that's what I plan to study" and "it's impossible to read everything."
Um, NO. "Plan" to study? The exams are in two weeks. It IS possible to read everything, if you plan ahead, schedule time to do so, etc.
In other words, dude did exactly what one of Dr. Virago's grad students did
, only in a room full of other students and three professors.
I guess the good news is that that majority of us thought his was a terrible idea and never in a million years would have thought to "study" that way. So that's something.
Labels Management for Blogger in Beta
Labels: blogger, blogger beta
I have to write a sonnet for poetry class tonight.
It won't be pretty.
Thankfully this isn't part of the grade. I think it's for "fun."
People sure do have strange ideas of "fun."
teaching is FUN
Since I'd been talking up my composition class by telling my fellow TAs just what a good time we have (we do!), two of my fellow grad students sat in on my class today. One of my classmates was doing an observation for our comp studies class but the other one was just there for kicks (having already done her observations on other folks). They sat in the back and I swear they almost wet themselves from laughing so hard.
Today was "introduction to argumentation" day, in which we talked about persuasion, argumentation, fallacies, blah blah blah.
I was cracking myself up. At one point I dropped to my knees in a dramatic display of "appeal to emotion," and I think it was at that time they all decided I'd lost my mind.
Or maybe it was when I explained about red herrings, aka the "look! a puppy!" fallacy.
Labels: gradschool, teaching
PPP: Blue Monster Puzzle 40
This is a puzzle piece for the payperpostbluemonster puzzle thingamajig. PPP does this thing where they spread little puzzle pieces throughout various blog
s and run a contest wherein the first person to reassemble all the pieces gets some cash.
The puzzles always have something to do with a super secret program or announcement from PPP, and I'm interested in what this one's all about![The views and opinions expressed in this post are my own, although this post was sponsored via PayPerPost. I take my recommendations seriously regardless of payment status. For my views on the matter, please read this post.]
support the commons
I was doing my usual surf-through-the-feedreader yesterday and saw the simple post by Collin Brooke
re: supporting Creative Commons
His post reminded me to do it (and I did, and I will display my sticker proudly on my laptop), so hopefully this post will remind you.
friday cat blogging: the saga of sharing continues...
Max would like to register his displeasure that Deuce has taken a seat on "his" shirt
If cats could talk, I believe Max would be trying to say something like "Mooooooooom, make her move! Now!"
Or, since he's an older cat, it might be something like "tell the bitch to step off!"
PPP: The PayPerPost Blog
When I was trying to decide whether or not to jump into the PayPerPost fray
, the first thing I did was check out the PayPerPost blog
. If the blog had read like a bunch of smarmy marketing folks wrote it, or if it was in any way more like a press release site than a blog (in which case I would have known I would be dealing with a company who did not "get" blogging), then I probably would not have joined up.
The time has come when companies are judged by the content and voice in their blogs, it's true.
Since I did
join up with PayPerPost, you can imagine the blog passed my personal smell test—it didn't stink. I found a fun, informative, and of all blog. The company has a voice and uses it for good.
So, if you're a blogger looking to take advantage of opportunities from people who wish to advertise on blogs
, and don't know if this whole PayPerPost
thing is cool or not, check out the blog
and get a feel for the people behind it. I don't think they suck.
Plus, they use Blogger, and I'm partial to that platform
. :) [The views and opinions expressed in this post are my own, although this post was sponsored via PayPerPost. I take my recommendations seriously regardless of payment status. For my views on the matter, please read this post.]
teaching MLKing's "Letter from Birmingham Jail"
On Monday, my composition class begins the argumentation section of the course (it's modes-based) and we'll be working with argumentation for the rest of the semester.
In a few weeks, the students will read Martin Luther King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail
," and that's all the scheduled reading they have for the class for that day.
I have some basic things to discuss, but if anyone reading this has used King's "LfBJ" and has some wicked cool activities or particularly useful discussion points, I'm all ears.
all I wanted to do was sleep in for a few hours...
...and do you think I could? No.
Stupid messed-up body clock and all that. Grrr.
And I can't sleep in tomorrow because we have study group at 9am. I will bet good money that I will be asleep today at 5pm, if I even make it that long.
Unless my friends want to go out for dinner or something, which they never do (becuase they too are always busy), in which case I would try to work a nap in there at some point.
One thing I am grateful for is that my cats are not
nocturnal. Well, I guess they are in that they sleep all day, but they also sleep all night
. When they do
get up, they are very quiet. None of that cats-up-all-night running-around-making-noise thing that people report. My cats think they're dogs, and sleep with me, and look at me all funny when I do get up and it's the middle of the night, like "hey, stupid human...it's still DARK OUSIDE."
Oct 29th...don't forget: fall back! One "extra" hour....
PPP: Hosting Zoom's Failover Hosting Packages
Trust me, there are a gazillion web server hosting providers out there. It is very difficult to differentiate between all the various low-cost shared server environments, especially if you aren't technologically savvy and just want "something that works."
"Works" is one thing. "Machines that stay up," "networks that don't drop packets," and "easy to administer" are another story.
Suppose you're a blogger who just wants to publish your blog to a custom domain (via Blogger
, etc.) or you want to set up a basic website for yourself, your business, your academic endeavors, whatever. You probably don't want to deal with anything that isn't push-button or easily admnistered via ftp/ssh/scp/sftp; that is, you probably don't want to play superuser or root user or someone (like me) who thinks this comic
Enter Hosting Zoom
, a hosting provider with an important, differentiating feature
: clustered failover hosting for shared servers. Essentially, this means that every $12.95/mo (cheaper if you pay quarterly or annually) virtual host has the same clustered failover technology that large companies put into place (for tens of thousands of dollars) for their enterprise applications.
Bottom line? It's a freaking great deal.
Take a look at the basic hosting package
and you'll notice all
the good stuff is there (emails, languages, databases, etc). Additionally, all virtual hosts are maintained (by you) via cPanel
, which is my personal favorite control panel software. In addition to cPanel, Hosting Zoom
uses the Fantastico add-on, giving you one-click install access to a ton of things
. I've used cPanel + Fantastico to install several different blogging platforms and other add-ons for various clients. It's good stuff. Also, the name always makes me chuckle
So, if you're in the market for shared server space for your own domain, I'd recommend checking out Hosting Zoom
. [The views and opinions expressed in this post are my own, although this post was sponsored via PayPerPost. I take my recommendations seriously regardless of payment status. For my views on the matter, please read this post.]
The thesis proposal draft is officially in my director's mailbox, as of a few minutes ago.
Note: albatross not dead, just carefully moved to the side. I'm not that stupid.
Spreadsheets + Writely = Google Docs
If I weren't trying to finish up my thesis proposal right this very second before I go off to teach class (finally, for the freaking love of God, and yes this is the same one I've been working on for a few more weeks than planned, because I suck and hit some sort of weird block about it), I'd say a few works about how Writely (and Google Spreadsheets) is now officially googlized...that is, merged into Google Docs
I have screenshots to show you and I'll post 'em later. I don't have any problems with the merging, but I haven't poked around enough to see if I'll have to re-learn where some buttons are.
In the meantime, read Google Docs merges Spreadsheets and Writely
at Lifehacker (or Reuters
in lieu of content, here's a cat photo
Black cats don't photograph well, especially when said black cat is just curled into a little ball of sleep on your table.
Scratch that...on your shirt
on your table.
What is it with cats and their need to sleep only on shirts (or piles of paper)? Max (pictured here) is a little co-dependent
, and yesterday I really really really needed him not to be. So I tricked him. I put a shirt on the table which (since he is a cat) he promptly claimed for his own.
Two days later, he is still there and I've been able to get some work done.
Deuce, seen in the background, understands personal space.
Everything will be better after November 11th.
You see, part II of the comprehensive exams are held on November 11th. Part I is the week before, on the 4th, unless you're me or my pal Rob, in which case it will be on the 3rd and the GRE subject test is on the 4th.
That's a lot of literature.
I was sitting in the English Society lounge (best couches on campus!) the other day with one of my classmates (Hi Mary!) and one of our former classmates-now-a-lecturer popped in and we were talking about workloads and such. The classmate-turned-lecturer was telling us how the 4/4 composition load is really hitting her hard and that next semester would be worse because of class times and her commute. She asked us about our schedules and I said next semester would be a hell of a lot easier than this semester because I'll just be working at my real job, writing a thesis, and teaching one class.
"As opposed to," I said, "working my real job, taking two seminars, teaching one class, and studying for comps." [and handling some grading duties for one of Janet's classes
but that's like a coffee break]
Well then, they said, I guess when you look at it that way, next semester will
It's all a matter of perspective.
Right now I just really really really really need to finish my thesis proposal draft, the one I said would be done, oh, two weeks ago? Yeah. And I have grading to do, and class prep for tomorrow, and study group prep for tomorrow night.
Yesterday's study group was fun—I gave my "here's what you need to know about Emerson, Thoreau, and Hawthorne's short stories in 45 minutes or less" lecture. For tomorrow night I'm going to talk about Middlemarch
and Great Expectations
. This study group really is like having another seminar (or two!).
Everything will be better after November 11th. [unless I don't pass the comps, in which case next semester will really suck.]
PPP: PayPerPost Perhaps Controversial, But Not Evil
For the as-yet-uninformed, PayPerPost
(PPP) is a consumer generated advertising platform. Essentially, advertisers and publishers open up "opportunities" to bloggers, who then choose
to respond to those opportunities in exchange for cash (or, in what seems to be a little-known but important point, the blogger can donate the payment to the Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, or other organizations).
In a recent TechCrunch post announcing PPP's $3M in VC funds
, PPP is called "controversial." According to Michael Arrington, "The key area of controversy is the fact that advertisers can mandate that posts be positive on the product, and disclosure of payment is optional for the blogger." Both these things are true. Neither of these things make PPP inherently evil.
In fact, PPP specifically puts the responsibility for evil squarely on the advertiser, publisher, or blogger.
Advertisers mandating positive reviews is nothing new. I used to write product reviews for a CNET in the pre-blog years, and at the time (late 90s) it was generally understood that my $300 paycheck for a review was contingent upon the review being published, and in order for the review to be published it had to pass muster by the company, which was really an advertiser. A company would pay CNet to review their product, CNet would pay me (and a zillion others), and so it goes.
I will say I was honestly surprised at the number of PPP opportunities which were designated +/-, that is positive or negative or neutral. Not all advertisers mandate a positive review.
Bloggers, for that matter, don't have to take opportunities which require positive reviews. This is where the responsibility for one's own slimeballness comes into play. I can safely say that I will never take an opportunity that calls for a positive review if I do not have something positive to say. I can also safely say that I will never take an opportunity and talk about something or participate in buzz for something if I don't know anything about it. I will also always disclose which posts are PPP posts by putting "PPP" in the title and labelling it as such in the body. That way, readers can skip over something which, by the sheer nature of being a paid-for post, might offend their sensibilities.
I don't believe these actions make me a slimeball; I retain my integrity, have something to write about, advertisers get something for their money, readers can skip the post if they want, and everyone wins.
Of course there will be bloggers who do nothing but take every PPP opportunity they can, and who will intersperse their PPP posts within the minimum number of non-PPP posts (PPP posts cannot appear consecutively on a blog, and a blogger cannot blog more than three PPP posts in any given day). PPP puts restrictions on their bloggers so as to reduce the chance that a blogger will become a splogger.
If a blogger goes over to the dark side and becomes a splogger, that is not PayPerPost's responsibility. In the TechCrunch article, Arrington says that one of the investors, Josh Stein at Draper Fisher Jurvetson, "seems excited about the potential profitability of the company while downplaying the ethical issues raised by this and other blogs—the market will sort things out, he says." I agree. If bloggers become sploggers, I think advertisers will stop paying for the posts of those particular bloggers because their review/buzz/etc will be tainted.
The only difference between PayPerPost as a platform and an Amazon Affiliate link is the money: dollars instead of pennies. The Amazon Affiliates network has been around for ages; I've been collecting checks from them for 5+ years now. The biggest difference between PayPerPost as a blog advertising
network and something like Google's AdSense or the BlogAds Network is (besides, again, dollars versus pennies) the control
bloggers now have over what appears on their blogs. Do not underestimate the value of that control.
The last thing I have to say is this: if PayPerPost is evil simply because it provides a platform for people to exercise choices which might good (advertising what you believe in or have thought about, and disclosing that you are doing so) or might be evil (advertising simply for whatever pays you to do so, and/or not mentioning you're being paid for it), then a huge chunk of the internet is evil. Guns don't kill people, people kill people, and all that.
I am going to experiment with PayPerPost
, for reasons I'll write about shortly. The simple version: I don't think it's evil, and I
am in control of what I write about.
What I will do is label all my posts with "payperpost" AND I'll put "PPP" in the title of the post so readers can easily skip past them if they so desire. But I'll address that in the next post.
calling all rhet/comp instructors! survey of grading/response styles [grad student project]
I hereby call on the Academic Blogosphere to help out one of my fellow grad students. If you have taught composition at any type of college/university, as a grad student/adjunct/prof, for any length of time, my classmate would very much like to hear your thoughts on grading papers. She says:
My name is Michelle Perry and I am enrolled in a class at San Jose State University on Composition Theory. I have decided to write my final paper on the grading insights of people in the field of teaching composition. Many theories abound regarding the "correct" way to grade papers, but I am curious to see what people have to say about their own styles and successes. Thank you for your time in answering the questions. I appreciate your time and I look forward to your responses.How to reply:
- anonymously/pseudonymously or not, doesn't matter
- you can leave your responses in a comment below and I'll forward them along OR
- you can email responses to me at email@example.com and I'll send them along OR
- you can email responses directly to her at firstname.lastname@example.org Please spread the word
, if you are so inclined, because I know all the rockstar rhet/comp people I
read have no reason to come to my wee "life and everything" blog, although I do know I am two degrees of separation from them all through some of you who do
hang out here.
Basically, I want Michelle to get some great responses, write an outstanding paper (she's very smart), win the research paper of the year award at our school, then win the CSU-wide research paper award, and then go on to great things. I'm
not writing about anything nearly as interesting for my project in the same class.
On to the questions...
1. How many years have you been teaching?
2. During those years has your grading system or method changed? If so, how?
3. How would you describe your current grading/feedback system on composition papers? Comments? Grammar? Endnotes?
4. How many papers do you grade per semester on average?
5. How much time to you spend, on average, grading each paper? (If your time grading varies depending on the type of essay please provide examples)
6. Does your grading method on papers differ based on the type of essay presented? Descriptive vs. analytical or Final version vs. Draft? If so, how?
7. How do your students react to the type of grading/commentary you provide on their papers? (please provide specific examples if possible)
8. In your opinion, how does your grading process affect your student’s writing? Do you see improvements? Are these improvements consistent?
9. If you had more time and a lighter teaching load would you change your grading style? If so, how?
go to main page
oh so tempting...
Our student association
wants to give a 10-minute presentation to all our 1A/1B classes (because everyone has to take those classes) about all the things the organization offers to students.
I'm fine with that. I'm all for developing community at a commuter school, registering people to vote, and so on.
But I swear to god, when the person comes to give the presentation I want to hand over the contact and follow-up emails all marked up in red ink. If you were going to send a message to a bunch of English instructors, don't you think you'd proofread your work? Seriously.
* "As an update, we are currently matching Directors' to class meeting times." good for you. what are they possessing?
* "I will send you a conformation email early next week!"great! I'm sure you will build a lovely email, all symmetrical and such. However, when will you CONFIRM the time?
test from PFF
This is a test of Performancing for Firefox
1.3dev20061006, a test build with Blogger Beta integration.
* This build works for both Beta and normal blogger account. Finally pff should not care which one you are talking to and set them up the same.it does
* The PFF theme should now look more like what your os theme looks like. (i.e. the background color).it does
* If you use Master Passwords in Firefox, it should now only ask you once, (not 10 times)yes
* For blogger BETA accounts, you can now add Labels to your post!! You can do this under the 'Category' tab (Categs.)yes
* You can also edit older posts and change their categories by unchecking them and adding more.yes
* Drafts work, but only for NON beta accounts. This is an issue on beta.blogger.com that they are looking into, so it might start working whenever they fix it.duly noted
All signs point to yes!
Labels: blogger beta, extensions, performancing
teaching...it's JUST LIKE THIS
So I was walking down the hall the other evening and I happened upon one of my fave profs in his office. I never see him in his office, so I stopped to say hi. He asked, in his sarcastic yet kindly way, "how are the little bastards?" (for he is a venerable prof and "little bastards" is a reasonable thing to call freshmen). I said, "oh, they're not little bastards to me just yet, but today I found out they have issues with critical thinking." (which is true, but I still adore my students). He says, "aye, dumb little bastards," and I laugh (because he's a crack up, really).
Then he promised to send a clip from an old Saturday Night Live episode featuring Jerry Seinfeld teaching a history class. Clearly he followed up, as it's embedded below. The clip is from 1992 (wow, the year I graduated from college...that clip IS old!) and the sketch is called "Make You Think."
It's funny because it's TRUE.[happily sucking bandwidth from MySpace. Click here if the embed doesn't work for you.]
today the freshmen will be reading ...
... "What's the Point of a College Education
You see, they've been eased into this whole "critical thinking and reading" thing. We discussed the concept and strategies for performing such types of thinking and reading, and then they promptly biffed the in-class exercise, en masse.
The in-class assignment was to read the following (I took it from the Handbook for Writers
chapter on thinking/reading/writing critically):
It is the first of February, and everyone is talking about starlings. Starlings came to this country on a passenger liner from Europe. One hundred of them were deliberately released in Central Park, and from those hundred descended all of our countless millions of starlings today. According to Edwin Way Teale, "Their coming was the result of one man's fancy. That man was Eugene Schiffelin, a wealthy New York drug manufacturer. His curious hobby was the introduction into America of all the birds mentioned in William Shakespeare." The birds adapted to their new country splendidly. – Annie Dillard, "Terror at Tinker Creek"
After reading it, they were to list all the literal information, all the implied information, and all the opinions. Let's say there are 18-20 different things that could be listed (total). The most anyone came up with was 6. Not a good ratio.
After hearing me try to beat "you can't comprehend something if you don't know the meaning of words and thus you should have your dictionary handy" for weeks, a fair number of the students turned in their papers clearly not knowing that a starling is a bird. So I said to them, "the first thing you should have done was raise your hand and say 'hey, what's a starling' but instead you chose to wallow in ignorance
." Ok, I didn't say the last part. But really, we had just discussed how you need to take control of your own brain and ask questions.
So today we will be reading Janet's essay
and their instructions are to: underline any words or phrases whose meanings are ambiguous or otherwise unknown to them, note in the margins any questions you might have about a particular statement or example used, identify the thesis of the essay, and finally write a substantial paragraph about what it means to think and read critically (talk about how you have or have not practiced critical thinking/reading in the past, and how you plan to implement critical thinking/reading in the future).
I thank Janet for her very timely teaching tool!