Thursday, May 31, 2007

Random things, including vampires!

Lanette tagged me last week with the "Seven Random Things" meme. And since I seem to have taken a week off from blogging, I'll use the meme as a jump start. Here you go, seven things, all random:

(1) The Lost season finale was great--intriguing to move off island, in the apparent future. Just please, don't turn it into a narrative about Jack's redemption or some such.

2. I'm going out of town for part of next week.

3. It's raining today. Lots of rain this spring.

4. The Missouri Supreme Court just ruled that public employees have the right to collective bargaining. Good news for all teachers and university employees.

5. I'm reading Dracula. I'm sorry to say I've never read it before. I tend to avoid vampires and such, having been traumatized by them as a small child. My sisters watched Dark Shadows, and I feared Barnabas Collins.

6. What's prompting me to read Dracula? It's full of characters using shorthand and typewriting. Who knew?

7. Yesterday was Wednesday, and there was no Lost. No Lost until next winter. Ah well. I have other things to occupy me, don't I?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

But wait, there's more

The most fun I've ever had in thinking about copyright law and fair use:

via Krista

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

This blog needs some pictures

But I didn't take my camera to Detroit. No reason. I just didn't manage to pack it.

It's just that I was thinking about how students in 8010 said they thought the blog looked better once they started posting their visual arguments in April. And how they wished they had realized before they could incorporate images into the blog. Images make the blog more appealing, they said.

And they do, of course.

So here you go. An image.

From our visit, last December, to Kansas City. A lamppost in the Plaza.

And a couple more from that trip:

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Taking leave

In the Detroit airport, on my way home. My first Computers & Writing Conference was a good time--just the shot of intellectual/collegial interaction/energy I needed after a fairly exhausting semester.

So, thanks to Collin for putting the panel together. Thanks to my fellow panelists. Thanks to the audience, who asked questions that got us talking with each other.

Some other highlights:
* A frenetically energizing keynote by the inimitable Geoff Sirc
* An introduction to Bio Mapping from Scot
* An Ong panel put together by John
* A presentation by Jackie and Jonathan, that included images of lampshade-headed people and Laurie Anderson!
* Excellent conversations, including a most useful one with P
* Breakfast at Toast with D and H
* A visit to the Institute of the Arts, featuring the amazing Diego Rivera mural

A good time, even if a couple of important folks were otherwise occupied outside of Detroit.

[I'll add links later. Gotta board.]
[Update: Links added.]

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

So sleepy

It makes no sense to be as sleepy as I am today. I turned in grades Monday. Sure, I've been working on my paper for Computers & Writing, but I haven't been staying up to do it.

And yet, this afternoon, on the extremely short drive to campus, I fell asleep. (Don't worry: I wasn't driving.) Bizarre.

It doesn't bode well. I leave my house before dawn tomorrow morning for the flight to Detroit. I never get enough sleep when conferencing. So if you see me there and don't seem to have much going on in the synapse department, you'll know why.

That is, you'll know that I'm sleep-deprived. Even though it isn't clear to me why I should be so sleep deprived before the conference even begins.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Five things I could do, in a parallel universe

Grades are due tomorrow. I've never liked grading, though I have to say this semester it isn't that hard and is even pleasurable. I taught two grad classes, so I'm reviewing teaching portfolios for one class and seminar papers on "the social" in rhet/comp for another. It's more enlightening than difficult.

Even so, last week I was prompted by someone to think about what I might do if I wasn't doing what I'm doing (as in, for work). So this is a list of five things I've thought of doing in my life, and still think about sometimes. Of course, most of these things would require further schooling. And some aren't particularly practical. They're just things that come to mind now and again.

1. Mediator
2. Yoga teacher
3. Psychologist
4. Educational union organizer
5. Physical therapist

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

My first C & W

So I'm heading to Detroit next week (though I still haven't reserved a place to stay...need to get that done) to present for the first time ever at Computers & Writing. I'm calling my presentation "Affective Blogging," and it's going to be based almost entirely on things I've already blogged about. It's basically using Massumi's Parables of the Virtual to theorize blogging. Here are three paths I anticipate going down:

(1) Blogging is intensity before it is genre
(2) Blogging is centrifugal as well as centripetal (a la Collin's "Weblogs as Deictic Systems")
(3) Blogging is more “operative" than instrumental reason

Maybe more later. Just thought I'd put something here about what I'm working on these days.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Call me indulgent

Because I just did one of the most self-indulgent things in the history of my life on earth.

I went to the spa. I had a spa (half) day.

And I had a partner in crime. You might know her. Her first inital is "R."

I highly recommend the spa day (or half) for anyone who has had perhaps a particularly high stress semester. I can think of some fellow bloggers who might fit that description.

R and I, we had a pretty eventful semester. The shoulders had risen a little too close to the earlobes.

But now I'm wafting essential oils through the air, and the cats are sniffing me.

It's a lovely thing.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

And more seasonal poetry

Back when I fancied myself a poet, I wrote a poem about my birthday. Here's how it ended, as best I recall (although I'm not really recalling the line breaks too well):

They teach me that el cinco de mayo
is the day to fling open windows, to embrace
strangers, to turn wails into shouts of Libertad!

Yeah, well, I was 22 or something. What are you going to do?

Anyway, you all know, don't you, that cinco de mayo really isn't Mexican "independence day," even though that's what my final line suggests? So there's that problem. And then there's the problem of how I say that "my Mexican neighbors" are the ones who teach me this, even though I don't recall ever literally having Mexican neighbors. Maybe figuratively. As in, I grew up in Texas, and so Mexico was my neighbor.

Overall, though, these lines are kind of a good example of something like poetic license. Or youthful pretensions. Something like that.

But Yusef, one of my teachers during my MFA days, liked that I had Spanish words in the poem. He told me I should do that more, that it gave an interesting texture to my poetry.

In fact, I think that's mostly what he remembered about my poems, from month to month and year to year. He would ask me, "Have you written more poems with Spanish in them?"

I did write another poem with Spanish eventually. It was a poem that mocked how little Spanish I actually knew. I took Spanish in junior high and high school. It's not like I was ever fluent.

And then in college I took French, though my professor, can you believe it, was a native speaker of Spanish.

Now I confuse the languages. My niece is married to a young man from Chihuahua, and I like to imagine that I can communicate with him (and his family) in Spanish. Unfortunately, I sprinkle French into my Spanish. As when he was describing a Mexican dish to me that he thought I might like, and I asked, "avec carne?" It was just two words, not even a whole sentence. And I managed to butcher it. (Imagine someone who knows a little German and a little English saying to you, after you've described a delicious dish to them, "Mit meat?") But he answered, without missing a beat. It was only much later that I realized what I had done.

And at the wedding, speaking to his mother (who knows only a smattering of English), I attempted to ask how many children her daughter has. I thought and thought to make sure I got it right, and still I came out with, "Combien de hijos?" (I think that would be like asking "wieviele sons?" to an English speaker, if the person asking the question confused German with English.) I seem to do fine with the nouns in Spanish. It's the other stuff that I can only bring up (under pressure) in French.

And why am I telling you this? Only because it's cinco de mayo. The day to fling open your web browser, to wish Derek a happy birthday.

And, sure--me, too. If you'd like.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Some things I should have already told you

(1) Marcia successfully defended her thesis last week and will be turning in her final, final version to the Grad School tomorrow. Yay, Marcia! It's a very timely argument for WAC to take on digital media.

(2) And TWO weeks ago, Daniel Anderson was in town and gave TWO excellent presentations that folks in my department have been talking about since:

* The first presentation, "The Multimedia Muse: Siren Song or Learning's New Spirit" was a lecture for my department's regular Friday afternoon colloquium series. Primarily attended by tenure-track faculty and graduate students, this talk offered a "low bridge approach to multimedia":

Easy to Build

Easy to Access

Easy to Cross

My chair described it as "inspiring." And it was!

* The second presentation was a 4-hour workshop on Saturday, attended primarily by non-tenure-track faculty who teach first-year composition in my department. This was a "low bridge" approach to integrating video projects into classes. We paired up to create literary or informational videos with iMovie. One group created a really wonderful video on graffiti as folklore.

With a member of my 8010 (Theory and Practice of College Composition) graduate class, I made a video set to Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here," featuring mug shots of all the class members who weren't there. We showed it to the class last week, and it was received with a good bit of laughter. (I would post it here for you, but it includes last names of students. I had hoped to get rid of the last names, but sadly didn't manage to successfully save the iMovie file, only the Quicktime version. So since I want to protect their privacy, I can't share. And, really, it probably wouldn't be as much fun for you as it was for them.)

At any rate, it was great to have Dan here. Thanks, Dan!

(3) I just finished teaching my last class for the semester. Final projects will be coming in next week. And then I'll be done! (This is not an item I could have told you before today. But the previous two items could easily have been on this blog before. It's just been, you know, the end of the semester.)