Friday, March 31, 2006

Blogweave

Jon is arranging a "blogweave" on Spivak.

"Blogweave": like a carnival, no? But a different tenor. (Or is it vehicle?) Texturized blogging. I like it.

And Jon links to this post at Long Sunday as the source for "blogweave." Don't know if it's a new term or if it's in broader circulation (could do a technorati search, couldn't I?). But the entry at Long Sunday also notes the blog conversations as marking

an autonomy of writing, reading and research from the university that, particularly in times such as these, becomes an imperative


Which is useful to keep in mind, as I recall Jeff saying his department brought up the question of making blogs count for tenure and promotion. I believe Jeff said he wasn't sure he was for that. (Or I could have made this up, who knows. I was pretty sleep deprived the whole time I was at the Cs, so it's possible I hallucinated the conversation.) And, indeed, it does seem useful to keep blogs separate from the writing we do as academics: valuable often because they are separate.

All right, then. What's our next rhetoric weave going to be? Crowley, is it?

Thursday, March 30, 2006

SeeSeeSeeSee

The theme of my Cs? Seeing people. Catching up. Or, seeing, eye to eye, for the first or one of the first times.

So much seeing that it crowded out almost everything else.

First sight: my hotel room. Travelodge. I stayed alone Tuesday, the night I arrived, and had to move to a larger room (which I shared with Ilene)for the rest of the conference. But the best part of my Tuesday-night room? The bathroom doorknob. Classic art deco:

art deco style doorknob

A couple more architectural photos below the fold. But mostly I'm talking about seeing people. I've got some pictures of them, too. Just not here.


Building with owl gargoyles, Sears Tower in background


New Reflecting Cloud in Millenium Park

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Couple of things, fyi

Relevant to the discussion going on at a certain blog (a discussion picked up here and here, and linked to here):
  • an interview conducted by my almost colleague, J Williams, in which he asks good questions about the selective interpretation of certain pieces of data that are also referred to in the blog discussion (in response, it seems, to my questioning of the decline narrative that's appealed to)


  • testimony given by our professed non-pundit for the SAF

Which all leads me to observe: it isn't so much a lit/comp debate we're having here, but a political one. Some lit-types, after all, are taking our side.

And I've still got a C's post to do...

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Up-classed

Got home around midnight, after a late flight from Chicago to St. Louis last night. Because Cs was over (except for some workshops) and I had taken in all of the Magnificent Mile I felt like taking in, I took an early cab (shared with a rep from a trade publishing company well-known in rhet/comp, but who seems only to sell and not to actually know the field) to O'Hare.

I arrived so early that the self-check-in kiosk wasn't willing to generate a seat assignment for me. So after watching some of the Texas-LSU game and tooling around on the internet (because O'Hare had the most reasonably priced wireless access I had encountered the whole trip, and I had lugged my laptop around for all those days, and so wanted to at least feel as though it hadn't been a complete waste of effort), I checked in at my gate (still quite early) and was given a center seat. I protested mildly that I had arrived three hours early, so the agent promised to move me if something opened up.

Something did, and I was given a new boarding pass. But it wasn't until John (who was on the same flight) was telling me about his own recent upgrade to First Class that I realized my new boarding pass was stamped with a large black "FIRST."

So I got to fly (for 45 minutes, since I was going only from Chicago to St. Louis) in comfort. The thing is, once you sit in those seats, you realize that it isn't so much "luxury" as really what anyone deserves, but doesn't get. (Unless you fly Midwest, out of Milwaukee, which offers only First-Class-grade seating, and warm chocolate chip cookies to boot. I miss having ready access to that airline. Sigh.) The seats give you just enough room so that you don't feel as though you have to hold your arms in tight for fear of elbowing the person next to you. You don't have to keep your knees in something between a 90 and 45 degree angle. You aren't almost hit in the face when the person in front of you decides to recline back. You can let your body relax instead of staying unnaturally bound up.

But, no, most of us must stay tensely compact while flying. It can't be a good thing. Meanwhile, in First Class, people relax with free drinks. They read a special airline magazine just for them. (This month's includes an article about Pilates and Yoga. It grieves me that yoga has become a panacea for the wealthy business class.)

Only the rich get to move their bodies freely.

(And I will have more to say about CCCC, no doubt. Although Spring Break was slow in coming, I'm relieved that I have the upcoming week off. I'm always exhausted after Cs, and this year I'll actually have a chance to catch up on sleep before returning to campus. Nice.)

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Two

Missouri Valley Teams going to the Sweet Sixteen. (Sadly, not the Salukis. But at least Becky is happy.)

Rounds required to knock out all "my" teams. (That is, all teams to which I'm sentimentally attached because I've either attended or taught at the institution. Three at the beginning. None now. But at least Jeff is happy.)

Fellow bloggers whose teams beat mine. (See above.)

Cats who are now watching TV. (Might as well let them. I'm not watching it. After all, Missouri is now, sadly, out of the Women's NCAA tournament, too. But at least they made it, eh Chris?)

Days until I leave for Chicago and the CCCC.

And the Cs can't come too soon. Spring Break is too, too late this year.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Rhetoric of blogs

You know, it's hard to find good stuff on the internet that talks intelligently about rhetorical features of blogs. There's a lot of bare bones prescriptive stuff that ultimately isn't very useful.

Today in my blogging class, I want to talk about "arrangment," and to think about design/arrangement as part of a blog's "voice." Actually, one member of the class speaks to this in a recent post:

I think people look before they read, so it's actually more a function of personal or intriguing design that stops a surfer at your page. It also doesn't hurt if they can see immediately that you post regularly. I do think that occurs to new visitors before they read a whole post--they just scan the dates of your posts on your front page looking for size and number.


Yes, exactly. That's what Malcolm Gladwell in Blink calls "rapid cognition":

[It's]the kind of thinking that happens in a blink of an eye. When you meet someone for the first time, or walk into a house you are thinking of buying, or read the first few sentences of a book, your mind takes about two seconds to jump to a series of conclusions. . . . "Blink" is a book about those two seconds, because I think those instant conclusions that we reach are really powerful and really important and, occasionally, really good.


So the difficult task is to stop and think about those two seconds: how can we talk usefully about what happens in the first two seconds someone looks at our blog? How can we, further, talk about the way design keeps a person coming back to a blog?

It moves to a different level, I think, when we talk about design and the factor of return. One thing that keeps me a frequent visitor to blogs is the surprise factor: I know that all of the posts won't be the same ol' same ol'. Not that every day the blogger has to reinvent herself. It's just that it's nice to have some texture. (Ah, yes. Texture.)

So one thing I asked the class to read for today is the Silva Rhetoricae page on figures of order. I'm curious to think about how we might riff with some of those figures to create entries that play around with order in interesting and unique ways.

So maybe I'll do an experimental entry later that plays off a figure.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

We had some hail

Sunday, I was happily blogging, ignoring the gray day outside. Then the sirens went off. That was my first clue that I needed to stop blogging. Turned on the TV: the local meteorologists were into their third hour of coverage of a storm (storms, actually) moving across Missouri.

"Tornadic activity." One of them was especially fond of this phrase.

Columbia was spared any touch downs, though not all of the state was so fortunate. We weren't spared golf-ball size hail, however. Two episodes of it. My poor car, purchased shortly after I defended my dissertation some years back, is now pocked with shallow dents.

But I won't complain. I have no basement. I huddled with C. and the cats (the two younger ones who were fascinated by the hail and wouldn't get away from the windows were wailing their protest in their carriers) in our very short hallway. I'm grateful we had some hail, and nothing more.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Data

All right, switching gears: Heidi Hartmann was on campus last week to welcome in Women's History Month. I was excited: she is, after all, the author of socialist-feminist classics like "The Unhappy Marriage of Marxism and Feminism" and "Capitalism, Patriarchy, and Job Segregation by Sex," classics that I spent a good deal of time working through in my grad school days.

So, first I will say that going to her lecture last Tuesday helped put me in a good mood. Not because her talk was particularly upbeat, but because I felt at home with the talk. At the same time, though, I was somewhat surprised and a little disappointed that the talk was mostly a matter of showing us various charts and graphs. Little theoretical or even historical discussion. (R says that's what happens when people go to Washington. Hartmann has led The Institute for Women's Policy Research since founding it in 1987.)

Despite being somewhat disappointed, though, I did take home some useful factoids. For example, while the neoliberals would tell you that the increased productivity of the economy has been good for working people, the numbers tell a different story, especially when the numbers are separated according to gender. Once adjusted for inflation, the income for men since 1970 has been pretty stable. No increases. A few decreases. The overall income for women has gone up (though it hasn't caught up with men's). The reason, of course, is that blue-collar jobs are on the decline, with service jobs on the increase. And those jobs tend to be segregated, with men concentrated in the former, women in the latter.

Even so, as men take on feminized professions, they still make more money in those professions. And while part of the reason is wage and salary differentials, the other part of the reason is that women take more years off from the workforce (to take care of children, for example). European countries tend to provide pay for parental leave. Not so much the United States. Hence, women have a harder time reaching economic autonomy.

And that, welfare reformers, is what needs to be changed. Marriage isn't the answer. Economic autonomy is.

Two Suns

One day in the life of first grade: creating a class mural with long sheets of butcher paper and crayons. What my classmates had drawn when I got there: snowmen. Lots of snowmen.

And in the sky: the sun. Or, suns. At least two. Maybe more.

I didn't like it. We never got much snow in Weatherford, but I was sure that if it did snow, there wouldn't be two suns in the sky. Not even one. Otherwise those snowmen (are they going anywhere?) would melt.



This general snowlessness made my hometown seem unreal and undesirable to me. Snow in storybooks. Snow in Charlie Brown's Christmas. Snow was the right thing. Weatherford didn't have snow.

Years later, CWS loaned me Pink Floyd, The Final Cut. He was always loaning me records that he thought would expand my musical horizons (Rolling Stones, Beggar's Banquet, was another one: it did, after all, have that song that mentioned Anastasia, my historical icon. I liked her name. And I liked Russia, because it was the evil empire and so seemed exotic.)




Two suns in the sunset
Hmmmmmmmmmm
Could be the human race is run.


Even Luke Skywalker longed to get away from the twin suns of his ancestral home.




I lived in an imaginary land, long ago, far, far away. Or I lived in an anxious future, with two suns signalling the end of everything.

Restlessness. No place seemed right.

But what could I do? The snowmen were there, in indelible color. And the suns.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Elsewhere


I watched it every Saturday morning when I was a little, little girl. A magical island, with a dragon for mayor. A dragon with kaleidoscope eyes. Yeah. And that name: Pufnstuf. Psychedelic childhood, as long as I stared at the screen.

And a magic flute named Freddy. (One episode, Witchiepoo turned him into a mushroom! Wink. Wink.) It must be that flute that launched my desire to play the flute. (A desire I never fulfilled. But there's still time!)

And who carried the magic flute? My first heartthrob:



Jack Wild!

With two teenaged sisters, I had ready access to TigerBeat Magazine, which often featured him. So I was able to be a teenager before my time, pining after Jack while staring at the slick covers of TigerBeat.

He was quite the teeny-bopper idol, too. Even cut a few albums, though no one in my family indulged me to the point of gifting me with them.

He died last week, after some apparently hard living. It's painful, really, to learn how he died. To see the more recent photo.

RIP, Jack Wild.

Windmills



Taller than most trees in central Texas, they tended to dominate parts of the landscape. Including the line behind my house growing up: there, on her windmill-topped yard, my neighbor kept chickens.

They weren't *real* windmills, I thought. Real windmills were elsewhere.

I didn't think Texas was real. I wanted to be elsewhere. Always elsewhere.

But elsewhere is just where you couldn't get with a windmill. The blades spin, but they don't propel.

More to come

Despite the rain and general grayness, I'm feeling less moody. So the absence of blogging here has less to do with moodiness and more to do with the great time-sucking bog that is the middle of my week. Soon--maybe even later today?--I'll blog for real, probably about one of these things:


1. The death of my first childhood idol

2. Heidi Hartmann's lecture on Tuesday

3. Barn owl sighting (and auditing) on the MKT trail

4. The forsythia is in bloom!

5. Blog as literary genre (*not* blog entry as...)

6. Something that will fulfill the assignment I gave my blogging class today

Monday, March 06, 2006

Moments of moodiness

I've been in a bad mood, on and off, for days. Or maybe it's not really one bad mood, but a series of them. No reason, really, except for the general mid-term blahs that seem to descend when it gets to be--you guessed it--mid-term. (Yes, professors get them, too. I know it might seem that we get to have all the fun--diabolically planning together to make sure that all exams and papers come due around the same time so that students can feel maximum stress. But no. If everything is due at the same time, that means we have a lot of work to do, too.)

Anyway, I thought I would make a list of mood-lifters I've experienced over the past several days. You know, just to see if listing them might add up to another one.

1. Hearing Maria Schneider Orchestra in Jesse Auditorium last Thursday. Beauty-ful music. She says she thinks of music as movement (which it is: the movement of sound in time), and her conducting is a kind of dance. Plus a last-minute fill in on reeds was provided by an assistant professor from (can you believe it) SIU.

2. Chatting Friday afternoon with Chris, who was in town to see his sister's last home game of the season.

3. Indulging in Dim Sum in St. Louis on Saturday with old friends from Carbondale (old as in went to grad school with them in Bloomington before being colleagues with them at SIU).

4. Learning that the SIU Salukis won the MVC Tournament on Sunday and so get an automatic bid to the NCAA men's tournament.

5. Laughing at some of Jon Stewart's jokes on Sunday night: I watched the Academy Awards to get a chance to see him, since I don't see him on Comedy Central, being cable-less.

6. But, really, laughing at Ben Stiller in his green suit was the funniest of all. Apparently, some people were embarrassed for him. But I guess it's the person who's willing to make a fool of himself that really gets my laugh.

7. Hearing that a current grad student who applied for one dream job got it. (Shh...it might not be general news yet.)

8. Hearing that another former grad student got into her top-pick PhD program.

9. And, yeah, writing this blog entry was fun enough.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Teens & blogging: the good news

As part of the Blogging class, Amy just gave a really productive presentation on teens and blogging. Of course, we all know the usual spin: teens are blogging! They better watch out! Bad things can happen!

As Amy notes, however, it's also the case that teens are using blogs for positive purposes: to express themselves, to connect with others. And as part of the in-class presentation (and, I hope, as part of a future blog post), Amy pointed us to some teen blogs that she reads. She regulary searches Technorati to find people who are blogging about books she's reading, and she finds that many of the blogs that come up are teen blogs. (And wouldn't that be pretty fascinating to study: the reception of a given work of literature or of a body of literature on teen blogs?)

So, thanks, Amy, for initiating a productive discussion. I have to admit that when I think about teen blogs, my mind tends to go blank, assuming that I'm going to get the same ol' same ol'. Today, I thought new thoughts!