Tuesday, June 28, 2011


As part of what I do to help my students perform well, I post examples of the kinds of writing I want to see from them (something I might have already noted, although I do not wish to search through my own blog to confirm it).  Most recently, I posted a short contrastive essay in which I discuss the respective antagonisms of dishwashing and laundry.  Neither is commonly conceptualized as being an antagonist, although household chores are the bane of childhood--and not too fun in adulthood, either.

In any event, I had to actually think about which I find more onerous, realizing that I was not entirely sure of my own opinion on the matter before I set out to write the example.  I did find it along the way--dishwashing is worse.  But it was strange to me to have confirmed it to myself as I was putting together a piece for student use.

The things I do for them...

Writing as discovery...

It is a small thing, I know.  It is a thing, though, that helps me know more of me, and I remain my favorite subject of study.

Friday, June 10, 2011


Yesterday, I attended the annual commencement ceremony at the college where I work.  As I got myself robed and helped a number of my colleagues into their own regalia, and as I watched the proceedings, a few things occurred to me:

  • There is little if any agreement across institutions about the appropriate position of the tassel that attaches itself to the academic cap, whether Tudor bonnet or mortarboard.  This needs to be corrected.
  • A number of the people at the event were unsure how to wear their regalia.  Since the ceremony is a recurring event, and one at which attendance is seemingly compulsory, there ought to be at least a handout given regarding the appropriate display of academic honors.  I would benefit from knowing more about this, myself; I have a lot of regalia from several graduations, and I would like to know what I am allowed to wear and what I probably ought to never display again.
  • New York likes to have people wear hoods.  I know that there is a prescribable bachelor's hood, shorter than the master's, and I have no problem with people wearing it (although I do find it strange, coming from schools where the practice is not current).  I had not been aware that there is a hood (or something very much like it) for the associate's.  Is this simply a local custom, or is this something that had been ongoing and I was simply unaware of it because of unfamiliarity with the associate's, generally?
These are the kinds of thoughts that come to me at odd moments.  Information about the things I bring up will be appreciated.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


I am aware that it has once again been a week since I made a blog post.  The reason is that my parents were in town from the first through the seventh; my wife and I flew them up to celebrate their thirtieth wedding anniversary.

I have commented, I think, on the coincidence of their anniversary and that of the D-Day invasion of Normandy during World War II.  Our activities on Monday were far less bellicose and much more enjoyable, I think, than charging up a beach while under fire.

I am thankful that I got to spend the time with them that I did.  It offered one last breath before I plunge back into the work that awaits me...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


As I write this, my parents are coming up to visit my wife and me for the first time since we got married.  It is a bit intimidating for me, really, as this will be the first time my folks have come to see me with me having a household and being a "grownup," but it is also quite exciting, as I am fond of my parents and am looking forward to their being here.  That we will be celebrating their thirtieth anniversary while they are up only makes it better.

I know that I missed making a post on Memorial Day, and it is not at all because I devalue the contributions made by those who have served and who still serve.  I believe I stated that rather decisively on Memorial Day 2010, at which time I made a substantial statement to that effect.  No, I missed making the post because I was doing one of the things typical of householders, particularly those who come from the part of Texas that I do.

I was barbecuing.

I do not mean by that that I was cooking meat on a grill--although I did do that later in the day, flame-kissing close to three dozen hot dogs and a whole chicken.  No, what I mean by "barbecuing" is that I was slow-smoking chunks of beef and pork, using an offset firebox to heat a chamber to 250-300 degrees F and filling that chamber with sweet hickory smoke.  The beef I treated with salt and black pepper and cooked low, slow, and smoky for seven hours.  The pork sat overnight in a composite of brown sugar, cayenne pepper, salt, garlic powder, ground cloves, and ground allspice, and it cooked in six.  The dozen or so people who came by all enjoyed what they got to eat, but since they were all excellent guests and therefore brought stuff over, we had a lot of food remaining at the end of the night.

It made for good meals yesterday and into today.

A few of the guests asked me about my methods for cooking the meat.  I am happy to discuss such things, although I cannot claim originality for any of it.  Those desiring to get a good take on the history and methodologies* of Texas-style smoking can find a good treatment in the books of Robb Walsh.  Those desiring to launch in will do well to start small, getting a barrel smoker and working with London broil or pork tenderloins until they get the hang of how much smoke they like and how long they need to leave it--which will be longer than expected, I promise.

My wife and I are going to do this again.  We are also looking into smoking peppers and cheese; both seem like they will be fun to try, and if they work, well, that's that much less I need to get special at the grocery store...

*Yes, plural.  Texas is a big state full of proud people, and they do not all agree on the best way to go about setting up a spread.  Most of them are right.