No Fancy Name
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
meme-ing in the name of science
I've seen Scott's meme request all over in the last two days but didn't get a chance to put up a post until now (see "self-imposed exile to the island of non-bloggers").

So, Scott's running a little experiment to see how fast a meme travels across the blogosphere. It's for a good cause: his MLA paper. Go Scott! Ok so again, here's the description. Posting counts as participating in the meme, but I'd like to offer the following answers anyway:

1) blue
2) sometimes black
3) 12
4) wouldn't you like to know?

Since I've seen this all over, I don't quite know who to credit. I'll just go in alphabetical order through my feed reader and see who I hit first....Bardiac! There you go.

PLEASE PARTICIPATE IN THIS MEME. IT'S FOR SCIENCE! You don't have to be an academic type to do this. All you need to do is:

1. Write a post linking to this one in which you explain the experiment. (All blogs count, be they TypePad, Blogger, MySpace, Facebook,

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 Technorati.

Go on now!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006
i have temporarily exiled myself to the island of non-bloggers BUT...
I passed part II of the comprehensive exam.

I would like to thank my kick-ass study group and lenient exam graders.

Now that stress is out of the way, I can concentrate on the "oh, I've been trying to build an application for the last two weeks" stress, plus paper-writing stress, plus PhD applications stress. The "application" at the beginning of that sentence? That would be application in the "online service for the masses" kind of thing that I do as my actual job.

Stressy stress stress stressful.

But hey! I passed both comps so there you go.

EDITED TO ADD: I finally heard from my group members. We went 4 for 4 on part I and 4 for 4 on part II. Best study group EVER!!!!

Thursday, November 23, 2006
happy thanksgiving!
I have mixed feelings about Thanksgiving since, as trillwing says, "today's holiday technically commemorates a mythical supper that presaged much colonial nastiness."

I am also reminded each year of the words of that sage, Wednesday Addams, who said:
Wait, we can not break bread with you. You have taken the land which is rightfully ours. Years from now my people will be forced to live in mobile homes on reservations. Your people will wear cardigans, and drink highballs. We will sell our bracelets by the road sides, and you will play golf. My people will have pain and degradation. Your people will have stick shifts. The gods of my tribe have spoken. They said do not trust the pilgrims. And especially do not trust Sarah Miller. For all these reasons I have decided to scalp you and burn your village to the ground. [in Addams Family Values....via Mac, as always]
But all that aside, I am thankful for many people and things:

YOU (and you, and you, and you, and even you). My folks. My friends (and the job they still let me have). My cats. My profs, especially those writing rec letters for me, and the ones who have made this semester a hell of a lot better than last semester. My students, who really are a great bunch of students and who have made my first semester of teaching a relatively stress-free time (and a joy).

And because I love me some Thanksgiving food, I am especially thankful for my friend's mom who invited me to Thanksgiving dinner even though my friend/her partner/their kid aren't going to be there this year becauase of an out-of-town soccer tournament. If I'm good, I'll even get leftovers. Score!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006
classroom survey results
I was poking around the internet the other day and came across a survey of first year writing students at Boise State from Fall 2000. I had been thinking of asking my students some of the same types of survey questions—if I had been thinking I would have asked them this at the beginning of the semester.

I asked them this (stolen entirely from the BSU survey):

* Which one of the following do you believe most strongly is the key to becoming a better writer?

a) Studying the basics, starting with sentence structure, then paragraphs, and then the whole compositions.
b) People are born writers. Either you can do it well or you can't.
c) People have to develop confidence in their own writing voices before they can improve.
d) Improving one's writing involves an understanding of the steps involved and practicing each separately.
e) You get better at writing if you read a lot.
f) Developing writers most need to learn how to produce the various forms of writing—argument, exposition, description, etc
g) The best way to develop as a writer is to imitate the writing of others who are better than they are.
h) The key to a writer's development in the fluency. Once a writer can learn to write a lot, he or she will improve.

I don't know which option I'd pick. I'm torn between c, e, f (not in that order).

The BSU results were:
c) 31%, a) 24%, f) 16%, d) 15%, e) 13%, h) 10%, b) 6%, g) 1%
[the numbers don't add up so I'm not sure how they calculated it]

My class:
a) 39%, c) 17%, e) 17%, d) 13%, f) 8%, h) 4%, b) 0%, g) 0%

I'm glad no one answered "b," but I wonder how many would have at the beginning of the semester?

The fact that the overwhelming choice was "a" makes me a little uneasy since that's not how we did things at all. Sure, we worked on sentence-level stuff but we certainly didn't set out on day one and say "ok, let's write a sentence." I do have a fair number of students (maybe 8-12?) who came down the remedial/developmental/whatever you want to call it track before getting to 1A, and I know those classes do start with "let's write a sentence" and move forward from that.

Re: answer "c," well, I can do something about that. I hope I did. Same with option "e"—we read in our class. Not a ton, but they were constantly exposed to words of all types—essays, historical texts, etc.—and they actually did the reading for the most part. One can only hope some of it sunk in.

I find it interesting that only a few answered option "f" when that's the type of course we teach. Well, the TAs teach modes-based courses. Not all 61 sections of 1A are modes-based. I don't know anything except to teach that type of course (what with my 14 weeks of teaching under my belt) but I'm not against it at this point. We'll see how that changes over time.

Monday, November 20, 2006
why yes, I AM grading in the wee hours before class
So I'm grading argumentation essays. These essays are the last of their out-of-class essays and they are revisions of a previous in-class essay. Perhaps another day I'll tell you about how I had to lecture the poor souls about how their "revisions" were not so good at all, and how a vote re: what to do about it ended in a tie and a compromise. It's not a great story, but it is a story nonetheless.

Anyway, I'm grading these essays and I can't help but laugh during one of them. Luckily, it was the intention of the author that the reader laughs at the absurd example used to counter an opposing argument. They had three options for their argumentation essay and one of them was to argue for or against arming pilots of commercial aircraft. My funny student (who never says a word in class, unfortunately) offered an example of terrorists using as weapons the sporks found in on-board meals.

I think maybe it wouldn't be quite so funny if it weren't 4am.

Soon, I will go off to class and we will discuss Poe's "Philosophy of Furniture." Yes, I'm serious.


Saturday, November 18, 2006
embarrassing confession
I've been shopping at long as it has been around. What's that, eight years? Ten?

Anyway, the design of their logo never clicked in my little brain until just this very second when I looked at the box in which my cat was sitting.

I never noticed the swoosh goes from the A to the Z, thereby, of course, reflecting that the store has everything from A to Z.

If ever you needed an example as to why I have never been part of any corporate branding project at my job, here you go.

In my defense, I notice a hell of a lot of other things in the world. Just not things like this. Also, I know better than to even try this quiz.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006
one down
I guess the exam readers don't want to be burdoned with the exams over Thanksgiving, because our grad coordinator emailed me last night and said I passed the first part.

I would like to thank the authors of the Odyssey, Beowulf, The Faerie Queene, Robinson Crusoe, Tristram Shandy, Wieland, and The Compleat Angler, as those are the works I discussed in the exam. Why yes, you're right: there's no Shakespeare or Milton on that list. I was aghast as well. But that's the way the questions worked out.

Whoo. So anyway, that's one down. The more I think about the second exam, the less lame I think my answers were. They weren't perfect or anything, but they weren't entirely stupid. Maybe it will work out too.

Thanks for all your support!

Monday, November 13, 2006
Performancing for Firefox 1.3.5
The Performancing for Firefox extension, a blog editor, supports the "new" Blogger platform in its latest official release (version 1.3.5).

I have been beta testing the PFF extension + new Blogger for a few months now, and they work just fine together.

» read announcement

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Sunday, November 12, 2006
The exam was fair (and balanced). I wouldn't be surprised if I passed, but I also wouldn't be surprised if I failed. I wrote an answer to the first question (poetry) that was 3/4 fine and then became really lame at the end. My answer to the second question (novels) was just fine. My answer to the third question (two passages, talk about the narratives and try to place them in their period) was halfway fine because I was ok on the first passage (from Lolita) and although I talked about the right things re: the second passage, I didn't place it correctly. It was from Hard Times and it didn't scream "Dickens" to me. But such is life.

Several of us were in the range of feeling "iffy" about it, although our buddy Jim nailed the whole thing (it was his second go around). So, those of us feeling iffy also felt perfectly fine with taking it again in the spring, because we know our deficiencies. Unlike the first exam, this exam really brings one's deficiencies to light. And really, I think that's fair.

Our only real complaint about the exam was that the third question wasn't an explication of two poems and the placement of said poems in their period. We feel that's a better test of our analytical skills—and I'm saying that as a person who doesn't dig poetry.

So we'll see what happens. I don't regret for a minute going out with my friends on Friday night, because we had a good time and we rarely get to go out. It didn't affect my performance on the exam, as I got more sleep Friday night than I typically do. Only three of us went out after the exam but we stayed out for a good six hours. It was fun.


Friday, November 10, 2006
so...there's another exam tomorrow
I've not written about this one, really, because I've been terrified of it. "Why on earth?" you may ask, since it is, after all, the stuff I am supposed to be well-versed in: the last 206 years of literature in English. I think I'm terrified precisely because of that. But hey, terror and the sublime and all that. It'll probably end up fine.

One of the reasons we (my study group) are so messed up about this exam is that the sample exam questions from years past are purposefully difficult to unpack and then once they're unpacked you have this matrix of period/geography/gender into which you have to fit your answers. For instance, once you figure out the question and the themes in poetry the question asks you to talk about, you have to pluck half your answers from the Brits, half from the Americans, a couple in the 19th C, a couple in the 20th C, and oh hey, a couple must be by women. On Monday, when our group go together to give the sample questions a shot, we couldn't fill up the matrix. For those of us who don't have the ability to memorize poetry and regurgitate it at will, these are difficult questions. If the questions are about fiction or theory, I'm cool.

So yeah, I guess I'm saying I'm still afraid of poetry. But in my defense, I feel a hell of a lot better about it than I did just three months ago. [whatever] bless Dr. Pollock's poetry seminar. Also, Mel talked me off the ledge yesterday and basically said lookit, focus. Make index cards and get those in your head for the next two days and you'll be ok. I think that's true. I think the distillation of All of Poetry into these 35 particular notecards will be enough to help jumpstart my brain once I get in the exam and have nothing but my bluebooks and a pen.

Of course, I could continue my streak of good luck and the exam could be all about American fiction from 1865-1940. I'd be cool with that...much like the GRE subject test which presented me with no less than 6 questions on Walden, 4 on Emerson, 6 on Melville, 6 on Dickinson, 6 on Paul Laurence Dunbar, and so on...

But no matter to all this stress, as I'm going to a show with my friends tonight in the city. I heartily believe it will be better for my mental health than staring at my notecards all night long. Plus, the band is appropriately literary. I think I can work "Money Made You Mean" into any discussion of economy and commodity in the 19th C. Heh.


Thursday, November 09, 2006
watch this (must appreciate the kitties)

Monday, November 06, 2006
thanks for all the good wishes
I realize I haven't written a blow-by-blow post since part 1 of the comps and the GRE subj test, sorry.

I'm just trying to get a lot of work work done because, um, it's my actual job and it's important right now.

But thank again everyone for popping in and saying nice things and also to those of you who emailed and wanted to know if the exams beat me into submission (they didn't). There's only one more left, on Saturday the 11th. My study group meets tonight as part of our final push for that one.

If I get a moment today I'll write about the highlights of the exams. There were some comic things (for me) with regards to the subject test, although these same things were kind of tragic for my two friends -- one is a classics/poetics guy and the other is a medievalist/poetics guy. I'm neither of those things, and thus I actually knew all the answers about African-American literature of the 19th/20th centuries...

But the question about Simians, Cyborgs, and Women? Totally missed that. We all did. And you know what? I'm totally fine with it.

Also, if some unknown blog reader sent an iTunes gift certificate to me...thanks! But not putting your name on it really hinders me from returning the favor and thanking you by THANKS, unknown person....I will use it for something relaxing.


Saturday, November 04, 2006
it's a waffle house kind of moment
I've probably waxed poetic before about my love for the Waffle House. If not, all you really need to know is a) I love it, b) without it, I likely would never have made it through college, and c) I miss it terribly.

California doesn't have a Waffle House.

Right now, I really wish I had a Waffle House nearby.

I'm killing time before the GRE subject test. Sure, I could make some cereal or oatmeal or eat an apple or have some toast, but what I really want is a mess of hash browns (scattered, smothered, covered) and some eggs and some chicken. Also, some fricking sweet tea would be great. I haven't had any since I lived in Richmond, so that would be [counting] six years ago. A tragedy to be sure.

Anyway, I'm off to either the Cardinal Lounge or a Flames Restaurant (both known more as places we go after evening classes) or maybe I'll just go to IHOP and carb load on pancakes.

Either way, it's not a Waffle House. :(

Oh, about the subject test? I'm not worried about it. I know I'll do better than I did in the spring, since I've since studied things out of my area...

Then I'll meet up with my buddies who took part I of the comps at the normal time, and I think we're going to a bar in Japantown. Personally, I'd rather come back home and watch football while catching up on my work work and start the final studying push for next weekend, but we'll see. I'll say something more specific about the first test after they've taken it too.

Friday, November 03, 2006
it's all good
more later.

must get lots of work work done since I wasn't around this morning.

Thursday, November 02, 2006
I'm currently in a state of concern that I will:

* forget the name of the king in King Lear

* forget the name of the hero/warrior in Beowulf

* forget Macbeth's wife's name

you get the idea.

I'll be drowning my sorrows by working for the rest of the day, on work know, the things for which I am paid good money.

Believe me, my boss runs a close second to me on the list of people who cannot wait for November 12th (day after last exam) to roll around.


Wednesday, November 01, 2006
what's up with washington? (the uni)
I'm beginning to think there's some sort of mysterious magnetic force around the University of Washington, such that it pulls people northward from California.

I'm applying there, my school chum jimtrout is applying there, and today I got an email from one of my freshmen asking if could work with him on his personal statement because he wants to transfer there.

So, all you UW-ians, if you see a gaggle of San Jose State folks up there next fall, blame the water. Or something.


get your archive on...
04/04 · 05/04 · 06/04 · 07/04 · 08/04 · 09/04 · 10/04 · 11/04 · 12/04 · 01/05 · 02/05 · 03/05 · 04/05 · 05/05 · 06/05 · 07/05 · 08/05 · 09/05 · 10/05 · 11/05 · 12/05 · 01/06 · 02/06 · 03/06 · 04/06 · 05/06 · 06/06 · 07/06 · 08/06 · 09/06 · 10/06 · 11/06 · 12/06 · ???


job / books / new blog

04/04 · 05/04 · 06/04 · 07/04 · 08/04 · 09/04 · 10/04 · 11/04 · 12/04 · 01/05 · 02/05 · 03/05 · 04/05 · 05/05 · 06/05 · 07/05 · 08/05 · 09/05 · 10/05 · 11/05 · 12/05 · 01/06 · 02/06 · 03/06 · 04/06 · 05/06 · 06/06 · 07/06 · 08/06 · 09/06 · 10/06 · 11/06 · 12/06 · ???


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