Friday, October 30, 2015

20151030.0624

Payday has come again, and the pay received has gone again, and more quickly. Most of the month's bills are paid, though, so Sherwood Cottage will stand yet a bit longer, and it will have in it what it needs to have. This is all to the good, but I know that more bills are coming, and it will be long before the "regular" payday comes again; I am fortunate, therefore, that work continues--or will when I return from the conference trip. Aside from the stacks of grading that will await me when I get back--and there will be stacks, as students are turning in papers today and they have an activity to occupy them while I am away--I expect there will be another freelance piece to do. It should prove interesting to juggle such things--and profitable, I can hope.

The weather around Sherwood Cottage is decidedly autumnal. We have not gotten down to freezing yet, so far as I am aware, but things have been chilly and gray. Today is supposed to offer more of the same: chill and damp. It is good that I like such weather, that I tend to thrive in it. Less good is how it affects the Mrs. Sunshine and clear skies work far better for her than clouds and rain. I suppose it is sensible enough, given our personalities; I have been accused of dampening the spirits of those around me, but she brightens every room in which she smiles. And while that is something of a cliché, those who know her know that it is also reasonably accurate; her joy is infectious, spreading rapidly and easily. It is one of many reasons I account myself lucky to have her in my life.

I had a fairly good time with my more professional website yesterday. I was able to post another sample essay for my students to follow. (Whether they do or not, I cannot control. All I can do is make the material available--and not many other professors I know actually write the essays they assign when they make the assignments.) It has attracted some attention already; evidently, the writing reads well for other people entirely. It is the kind of thing I could stand to see more of, and if I could find a way to more effectively monetize it, I would be happy to do so. Alas, I know no such way, at least not one that has a start-up cost I can afford to pay. There are donation buttons set up on the website--well away from where the students look, which may not be to my advantage in some ways but is likely to be helpful in others--and they may yet help.

Until and unless they do, however, or I can manage to get some other stream of income set up, work will have to continue yet further. How fortunate I am, then, that there is always more that needs doing!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

20151029.0654

I saw a thing
Online
Displaying the replacement of pronouns--
I
Me
My and mine
We
Us
Our and ours
You
You
Your and yours
He and she and it and ze and they
Him and her and it and hir and them
His and hers and its and hirs and their and theirs
All that--
In song lyrics
With "Greg"
Saying the results are funny
And they are
But I have to wonder
Why "Greg"
And not another name
The monosyllable makes sense
The replacement has to fit the cadence
For the song still to work
And if the song does not work
The joke does not
Either

Still
There are many monosyllable names
Bob and Jim and Jane and May and Rose and Ed
And others
Many, many others
Earl would work as well
And sounds like a belch, too
So that the joke does more
So why "Greg"
And not another name?

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

20151028.0555

Ms. 8 weathered yesterday's flu shot well. When the nurse swabbed the injection site (there has got to be a better way to phrase that), Ms. 8 complained a bit at the cold. At the point of injection, she squalled a bit, her face first angry at the invasion, then in pain because of the prick, then scared because of the pressure; it was after the third that she worked to cling to me, running to Daddy to make the bad thing go away. But the crying was short-lived; she was soon her bubbly, babbling self again, and all was right with the world. (I think the walk to and from the doctor's office--Sherwood Cottage is less than a mile off from it--helped. The weather yesterday was quite nice, and it was good to be out in it for a bit. I need the exercise, to be sure, and Ms. 8 enjoys being out and about.)

Meanwhile, work continues. Because I ended up getting caught up in other things yesterday, I was not able to get as much done on the freelance piece as I would have liked. The job is due today, and I hate cutting things as close to the deadline as I am at this point. It makes for rushed work, which too often ends up being sloppy, and my professional pride rails against such things (even as it exults in being able to crank out so many words in so short a time as will have to happen today; there is something to be said for being able to do such a thing). I am fortunate that I have no grading to attend to at this point and no conference paper to rehash in advance of this weekend; I would not be able to juggle quite that much. Even I have limits, annoying as that truth is both in itself and in its particulars.

There is, in fact, some temptation to call in to my regular job today in favor of getting the other done. I am not going to do so--for one, I do not know how much more leave time I have accrued, so I am not sure I can afford to take the time off--but I am tempted. The pall that recent events have understandably left on the campus is distracting, as are the vulturine news crews. Some of my generally easy-to-get-along-with friends have railed against the latter, which I have found amusing--from a distance. I have had experience with the sudden rage of the mild-mannered, and while it is a thing of glory to behold from afar, it is far less pleasant at close quarters. (The same is true of many things, I am certain, but I have not the direct experience with them that I have with such anger.)

I suppose I shall have to do better with the use of my time. (It seems I am always making such a claim, and not only in this webspace.) And that means I had better get to work; I am awake, and there are tasks to be done.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

20151027.0621

Ms. 8 will be getting a flu shot today. I do not expect she will be happy about the experience; she has tended not to be pleased to have needles stuck into her, and she has had a fair bit of experience with having them stuck in her in just over twenty months of living. The first happened not long after she was taken out of her mother and brought into the world, and, aside from vaccinations since, she has had to have blood drawn. (Her first birthday saw her at the hospital, and me with her, finding out that she had pneumonia. Nobody enjoyed it--although there are worse alternatives, to be sure. And she is fine now.) And I am again going to be in the position of having to hold her while some other person who smells funny sticks a cold needle into her and pumps her full of some fluid that will leave her sore--but will also leave her better protected than she otherwise would be. It is not the way I would prefer to spend the morning.

It is a fairly common thing in my experience that I must impose some small violence on Ms. 8 now--and helping to restrain her so that another can stick sharp metal into her counts as violence, as do any number of corrective responses to other things--in the interest of forestalling worse problems later. I do not necessarily enjoy the tasks. I confess to some degree of sadism, to be sure; I have taken delight in causing others pain on occasion, and there are still people in whose misfortunes I find joy--and feel that I would find yet more were I able to cause those misfortunes, particularly could I not worry about the consequences thereof. (I have said before that I am not a good person, I think.) Most of those, however, are people who have done me wrong or whom I perceive as having done me wrong; my daughter is not such a person. More to the point, I care about her, which is not the case for a great many others. For both reasons, I find myself not entirely at ease with having to do as I must do, and cause her present pain against future need.

Such a struggle is a small one, I know. I could have much worse problems than having to listen to my daughter cry at getting a vaccination. I could have to listen to my daughter cry in pain as disease ravages her body and leaves her paralyzed in full or in part or hinders her growth. I could have to listen to my daughter stop crying as she stops doing all else; I could have to see her to the grave before me. I do not envy those who have had to do so, certainly. But that does not mean I am happy to see Ms. 8 cry, and it does not mean I am happy to be the cause or complicit with the cause of those tears.

Monday, October 26, 2015

20151026.0624

Work continues, of course. I have a freelance piece in process at the moment; I will be reading today and will begin the write-up today or tomorrow, finishing before the end of the day on Wednesday. I am also back in the classroom today, although how things will go in the wake of the weekend is unclear. None of my students appear to have been injured by the incident, at least physically, but I do not know who is related to whom or who was where when it happened, so there may be other issues at work today than I would normally have to handle. I'm a professor, not a counselor, after all, and while I may be sympathetic, I am not the shoulder upon which my students should expect to cry; my training lies elsewhere, and I cannot afford to put myself in a position to be liable.

Later this week, I will be traveling to Nashville, Tennessee, to attend the South Central Modern Language Association conference there; I am presiding over the English I: Old and Middle English panel. I do not have a paper to present this time, though, so I should have an easy go of things--and it is an odd sensation, really, to be making the trip only to carry out service. Perhaps it is a sign that I should be focusing on matters other than conference papers at this point; perhaps I should be working to get more things under review and into press. If I do want to continue my scholarly life, it seems the thing to do--and at this point, I do want to continue my scholarly life. I have little idea of what I could do otherwise, in all honesty; seven years of schooling past the bachelor's and three years working at colleges since tend to narrow professional visions (and, if my rejection rate is any indication, professional prospects, as well).

I am glad that I do not have a conference paper on which to put final polish this week; there are enough other things for me to do without it. My students have a paper coming in at the end of the week, and a tall stack of job announcements still awaits my attention, both in addition to the freelance piece noted above. Ms. 8 gets to have a flu shot tomorrow morning, which should prove to be fun, and I have an online interview to give on Thursday, which should also prove fun; I need to prepare the materials for it (teaching demos are always interesting, particularly ones given to faculty panels rather than classes of students). My other writing has been suffering, and I need to help it, as well, and there are the daily chores to do to maintain Sherwood Cottage. It will all get done, somehow, although I am not sure how I will go about doing it. I suppose I need not worry overmuch; I just need to get back to work.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

20151025.0658

Just so people know who don't already but might actually care: The Mrs., Ms. 8, and I were nowhere near the incident that happened at the Oklahoma State University homecoming parade yesterday. So far as I know, nobody I know was involved in it, either. We are safe and in good health. And I, at least, think that those who want to help should do something other than take a knee and pray (at least those who have not already done so; I am given to understand that first response was swift and decisive, which is all to the good). Send money to help defray the medical and final expenses of those who were hurt and killed by the event. Pray if you want, but the money will be more helpful.

Anyway, on to other things--as though following news of a fatal incident that killed and maimed children is easily done:

Work continues, as ever it must. I spent most of yesterday grading papers; today will be spent similarly, and once I am done with the grading, I have a freelance order waiting for my attention. This is to the good, as Sherwood Cottage and those who live in it can use the money (as ever seems to be the case). Since I have yet to figure out how to be given money just for being who I am, I have to work for that money. But I suppose I am trash because I would like to be paid more for the work I do, perhaps enough that I do not have to spend every spare moment working the equivalent of a second (and sometimes third) job to ensure that my family has enough to eat and a roof over its collective head.

There is probably some other writing I ought to do, as well. While I have not got any conference papers on deck at the moment, there are larger works to which I ought to be attending; I need to be trying to push out articles and the long-overdue revision of my dissertation. There are a few other scholarly projects I ought to work on, as well, and the job search continues, if somewhat raggedly. The stack of job announcements on my desk has not exactly shrunk of late, and things are coming due all too soon. I suppose I have not been sufficiently diligent in getting that work done, either, and so I suppose I deserve what happens to me. That is the way it is, right, that all of what happens to a person derives from their deserving it? If things are not as they should be for any one person, it has to be because that person has not worked hard enough for it--all while others are sucking away at the vitality and earning potential of that person; is that not how the rhetoric runs?

I probably ought to get back on it. There is, after all, much for me to do today.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

20151024.0818

Tall as I am
Hairless as my feet are
Rectangular my doors
I am remaining in my burrow

I am inclined to be
Fat in the stomach
Indeed
And I will scrawl
Thin and spidery lines
On page after page after page
Rather than going out into the world

There are no elves to find
And even if there were
They are jerks and talk funny

Friday, October 23, 2015

20151023.0628

The school at which I teach boasts having the largest homecoming celebration in the country. Whether this is accurate or a clever bit of trademarking (which is true of its health slogan) is unclear to me, but I do know that the university and its associated organizations (alumni groups, fraternities and sororities, and the like) invest much time and effort into homecoming events, and the town as a whole makes quite the big deal about it. I do not recall my graduate school doing so, and my undergraduate school had no football team when I attended, so my direct involvement with homecomings ended when I left high school some fifteen years ago. I did not really understand the thing then--and I still do not, unsurprisingly. Like much else that many other people value, homecoming does not make sense to me.

In my present position, I find it to be an annoyance. It disrupts classes and the work of the school, making my job harder to do than would otherwise be the case. Students already have enough trouble focusing on the tasks they are assigned in my classes--the "I don't need this" phenomenon is prevalent among the students I teach--and to have what amounts to an endorsement of them being distracted from their work makes reaching them all the more difficult. I do not get paid more for the added work, so I think I am justified in resenting the exercise. And while I could well "join in the fun," my doing so would signal approval of the endeavor--and I do not approve of it. As I have said, I do not understand the allure, and I would be a fool to approve of what I do not understand. (And for those who would say I ought not to disapprove of it--it is a fair point. What I do understand about it is that it makes my job harder without offering me added remuneration. It is not a fair trade, and I understand that to be a bad thing, worth condemnation.)

I know that my point of view--get the work done first, dammit--will not be held by many; I know I am not persuasive on this point. I know the school and the town derive much money from the endeavor, and so I understand at least so much of why there is official approval of it. I do not think I see any of that money, though. And I still do not understand what about homecoming prompts the kind of attention paid it. (I can already hear the comments. "You think too much. Just enjoy it." What's to enjoy? I honestly do not understand what there is to enjoy about the matter, certainly not what there is to enjoy enough to do what is done here by as many as do it.) I am not anhedonic; there are things I enjoy, and there are things that make me happy. But none of them are on display at homecoming, and I find it hard to comprehend the whole damned thing.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

20151022.0624

To continue on with the discussion from yesterday and the day before: As I was thinking, again in the shower, about the loss of nerdiness I have been discussing, the thought occurred to me that part of what I have lost in letting my...fixations...on various popular cultural constructions slip away is a certain selfishness that does not work well in family life--and certainly not as a parent. Spending time and resources on mastering minutiae is an inherently selfish act; that time and those resources could easily be put to the tasks of being with and helping others. Some such spending can be justified, perhaps. My own time spent writing in this webspace is not taken from my family--the Mrs. and Ms. 8 are asleep--and the resources spent are of minimal incidental cost. The time and resources my colleagues and I spend on research, whether in the humanities or elsewhere, serves to increase understanding of the world, so if they are selfish at one level, they at least strive to contribute in some measure.

The exercise of nerdiness is perhaps less easily justified. It serves no end but itself, in my experience as a nerd and around nerds, and its display is most often framed in terms of self-aggrandizing competition. Neither does much good. (I understand the competitiveness, though. When the only thing people see themselves as having is that they know things, that knowing and the certainty of that knowing becomes overridingly important. And that means knowing more and better than the rest.) And it is not the case that it does little or no harm; the display often turns to pettiness and backbiting, enabled to some extent by the anonymity of the online world but hardly original to it. Again, in my experience: I admit to its limitations, and the experiences of others may well give the lie to my assertions in this regard. But I still maintain that being a nerd is selfish, and not a selfish that lends itself to justification.

Being able to focus on the self in such a way as nerdiness allows is a luxury. It is an indulgence, and I was long able to avail myself of it. I cannot any longer; I have responsibilities to discharge, and they are fulfilling, but they do not much admit of putting myself first--as nerdiness does. It is not to be wondered at, though, that I feel a sense of loss; not many readily put aside pleasures found and enjoyed long. Many struggle mightily to quit smoking and drinking, and many fail, and both are far more damaging to the self than nerdiness. Both are missed by those who do manage to give them up, and both, again, are far more self-destructive than being a nerd is. (Drinking still tends to be more socially acceptable. Smoking may still be--I have yet to hear of a smoker getting a swirly or a wedgie for being a smoker as nerds still do for being nerds--but if it is, it is by an increasingly narrow margin.) And so there are things I lament about the lapse in my nerdiness--but I will not be working to get it back any time soon.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

20151021.0624

I wrote yesterday about feeling some disconnection from the nerdiness of my earlier life. That is, I no longer focus on the things I did as a younger person, at least not to nearly the same extent as I once did, and I feel some sense of loss that I no longer do so. It is as if a large part of my identity has fallen away or slipped away, and not because I set it aside (as is true of other things from my youth), but because I stopped nurturing it. The current week does much to remind me of this, of course, with tickets to the new film going on sale yesterday and today being Back to the Future Day. (I am less annoyed by the lack of hoverboards than by the lack of many other things--namely portable cold fusion.) But it is something that, despite my late realization of it, has likely been the case for some time, now.

That being less of a nerd (measured by open passion for a thing indicated by fixation on that thing and the display thereof) now than I used to be is somewhat disturbing proceeds potentially from several causes. There is some sense that I owe what I have to my nerdiness; Dungeons & Dragons did help me get into graduate school, and it was in graduate school that I met the Mrs. It was also in graduate school that I honed the critical faculties that have served me in my teaching (problematic as that construction may well be) and in my freelance work. (I have another piece in progress even now; work continues.) In addition, I have enjoyed myself as I have pursued several of my nerdier hobbies. I consider these good things. For me to have let my nerdiness lapse, then, comes off in some ways as failing to discharge an obligation, and I think it understandable that that would sit ill.

As I think on it, there is also a sense of having missed out. I spent my youth as a nerd, and I suffered for it (although, again, I did little to avoid that suffering and much to attract and enhance it). Now, in the United States, with nerdiness (at least in some forms) enjoying some overt social cachet, I am no longer a nerd (or at least not the kind of nerd that is valorized in popular culture--ineptly and inaccurately, as I have remarked). I am not in a position to benefit from current trends, at least not in my personal life, and something in me chafes at that. Something in me says that, were I a better nerd, I might be getting somewhere. I know that it either lies or is wrong, but knowing that does not silence the voice that says such things. I have been a nerd; I should know by now that knowing a thing does not make the world easier.

I suppose I will have more to say on the topic. There is still much to discuss.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

20151020.0636

I have no witty shower-thoughts today as yesterday. I have the memory of having had such thoughts last night or yesterday sometime, but I do not recall what they were. It frustrates me, but it is as it is.

I am given to understand that a new trailer for the upcoming Star Wars film is out and that tickets for it have begun to go on sale. Somehow, I doubt I will be able to avail myself of them in any real way, and certainly not for opening day. I am not entirely certain where I will be at that point, so I dare not look at buying tickets, and given the constraints of supply and demand, I am not at all certain that tickets remain affordable for the event. I am sure that I will see the movie at some point, and I may well even see it in a theater, but I am not as concerned with it as I once would have been.

That I am not is something I realized last night as I was thinking on a number of things. There was a time when I was passionately obsessed about things such as Star Wars; I have not made a secret of being a nerd ("Dungeons & Dragons got me into graduate school."), and there is no real way I would be able to do so in this webspace or in real life. My sympathies still lie with the nerd community, insofar as it can be described as a unitary entity; I suffered enough for it in earlier years (in large part, admittedly, because I made myself merit suffering), and memories thereof linger. But I am not nearly so much a part of that community now as I used to be. Certainly, I cannot devote the resources to participation in it that I once could, given bills to pay and the welcome obligations of family. I still find myself somewhat entranced by lore, by ferreting out the minutiae of things to understand them better, and the skills I developed in doing so find themselves put to use as my work continues, but I am less and less prone to devoting them to recreation. I am less and less apt to turn them to nerdiness.

In some ways, I experience that change as a loss. A certain satisfaction inheres in mastering bodies of knowledge, after all, and there were bodies of knowledge I had mastered as I engaged more and more fully in my nerdy pursuits. And I still work to master knowledge, to be sure, but no longer attending so much to emergent popular culture (I qualify because the freelance work does still embed me in ongoing mainstream pop culture, at least in some senses), no longer attending to the arcane information associated with nerdiness as I once did, leaves a vague sense of being unfulfilled. There is something missing.

It is something I shall have to consider more fully. I think there is more to say about the matter.

Monday, October 19, 2015

20151019.0619

For having made no updates over the weekend, I apologize. Illness befalls even me from time to time (and I will not be rehearsing the unpleasant details thereof), and although work continues even so (I completed a freelance piece and some paperwork for my regular job over the weekend), my capacity to do other things was greatly diminished. Unpaid work had to give way to paid work, in the event, but since I seem to be feeling all the better now, I can return to whatever it is that passes for normalcy for me. Hence this writing, and hence the return to the job hunt, which had been more or less suspended in favor of getting work done now. After all, I have to get through the now to get to the long term for which I hope to be preparing.

In any event, another thought occurred to me while I was in the shower this morning. Academia is often described as an ivory tower, one in which scholars isolate themselves and grow detached from the "real" world. I have written about some aspects of that isolation and that tower in such places as here, here, and here (the last of which I find particularly useful as I move forward in my writing). More seriously, in one other place, I ask off-handedly why the tower is ivory; the question returned to me amid the falsely falling water with which I cleaned myself this morning. To put it more plainly (and in a way that I would shudder to see among the essays my students write): Why is the ivory tower ivory?

Some ideas suggest themselves. The Biblical and doctrinal implications of the phrase--it derives from Song of Solomon 7:4 and is used by later medievals as a Marianic reference--come to mind to a medievalist, given the orientation of all concerned, but I do not think the term as used to apply to academia has so pleasant a set of overtones as purity and the promise of salvation to come. I am sure there are later literary or political constructions that account for the device, as well. I have to wonder, though, if there is not something else going on. Ivory is linked to the elephant, after all, which never forgets, and the scholarly memory is supposed to be long, indeed. It also proceeds from the maiming or killing of the elephant, and there are many who argue that academia, in being overwhelmingly liberal, maims or kills the things for which the elephantine political party in the United States ostensibly stands. (I am aware that there are many problems with such an argument. Academia is not nearly so liberal as many outside it think, and the party in question is not nearly so committed to what it purports to be as it purports to be, as its actions should indicate.)

Is it a thing that can be reclaimed? That should be? I am not at all sure.

Friday, October 16, 2015

20151016.0613

Work continues, as ever it must. I completed one freelance order yesterday, and another one appeared for me within the hour. I am more or less clear to work on it over the weekend, which is good; I continue to need the money my freelance work affords me. The book I am writing up, which I have already started reading, seems to be more in line with much of the reading I would do for leisure than some of the other pieces I have read for the work. (The vampire porn stands out uncomfortably.) I am already having thoughts about it, but I will not publish them here; they will wait for the write-up or for papers that I have yet to write. And there are several of those yet to do, even if I have no formal submission requirements at the moment.

Yesterday, I also made to stock some of the new bookshelves with materials I had had boxed up for some time. There is a certain satisfaction in laying out more of my scholarly apparatus where I can actually access it--although I find there are some issues of journals missing, to my annoyance, and the redistribution of the books that is underway (since I am not yet done with that task) is somewhat disconcerting. There are more boxes to paw through, however, and so I am confident I will find the missing information--and my notes on it. (The marginalia matter.) I am also confident that having my books and journals arrayed will do something to ease my mind; it always does, somehow. I suppose my choice of a field to study is a fitting one, then.

Today, I am back in the classroom, teaching four sections of first-semester composition. Things move along much as expected in them, although I could hope to see better performance from some classes. I know grades are not settled, and I have some wiggle in assigning things, but there are some seeming deficiencies, and they worry me. Today will begin to address them somewhat, as students are being offered what amounts to a completion grade as they make short arguments in favor of one or another option for an exercise I am having them carry out. It is a small thing, to be sure, but the students seem to appreciate having the chance to 1) forecast what assignment they will get and 2) improve their standing through little effort. I get the chance to demonstrate magnanimity, which improves my standing, and to collect data which may factor into other projects--if certain proposals are accepted. Everybody wins.

The Mrs. has adjusted her work schedule against over-staffing on Fridays. Ms. 8 will doubtlessly be pleased to have her mother around a little bit more; she misses her greatly when she is away each day for work. I am not displeased, either, for while it may make my work a bit more...urgent, it also reminds me of why I do the work: ensuring they can be happy.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

20151015.0601

On one of the discussion boards to which I subscribe, there is at present something of an argument going on about the use of singular "they," as in such sentences as "Each one of us should know what they should do." There are many who rail against the phenomenon, raging about pronoun/antecedent agreement and asserting that "they" is a plural pronoun in all events and in all cases; for them, those who use the singular "they" are stupid and ruining the language. There are many others who identify the spread of singular "they"--and its use is increasing--as a simple reflection of the ongoing processes of language change. In such a view, the pronoun is expanding to fill a perceived hole in the language: a useful non-gendered singular personal pronoun, and those who use singular "they" are simply using already-available tools to do new work, much like using a screwdriver as a chisel or a pair of linesman's pliers as a hammer.

I admit inclining towards the second group. Although my usage still keeps "they" as a plural, and when I teach, I urge my students to do the same, I also note that in a few decades, the issue will not be debated so hotly, if at all; the pronoun will be accepted as both singular and plural. In the meantime, however, older readers--who are among the more likely to be signing paychecks--have expectations that must be met if the ideas to be put across are accepted, for which reason I exhort my students as I do. And as the argument rages on--sometimes literally, given some of the inflammatory comments made on both sides (and shamefully; those involved are supposed to be those who know better than to resort to ad hominem attacks), I find that I wonder about a number of things, some of which I list below in nothing resembling a particular order (don't tell my students):
  • "They" seems on track to be accepted as both singular and plural, as is the case with "you" now--at least "formally." But "you" as both causes confusion (which I think is the underpinning of one of the arguments against singular "they," and it is not a bad one), and there is motion away from having a single pronoun for second-person singular and plural use. (Guy Bailey and the late Jan Tillery have an article about one aspect of the phenomenon.) Why this would be, I am unsure.
  • Many of those who rail against singular "they" rail against other points of usage, as well. There seems to be a concept of (American) English having been perfect at some point, an idea of a "pure" form towards which earlier usage strove and since which usage has declined. When this is is never made clear. I would like to see someone argue a particular point at which the English of the United States was at its pinnacle.
  • Related to the previous: Change in language is documented, and with increasing abundance in English since 1476 and the introduction by Caxton of printing to England. The man himself complains of language change in the 1490 prologue to Eneydos, writing "And certainly our langage now vsed varyeth ferre from that whiche was vsed and spoken whan I was borne" (in Jack Lynch's online edition), and five hundred years have not changed the complaint made--which has itself not stopped the changes. Why the language should stop changing at some specific point eludes.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

20151014.0611

Work continues, as ever it must. Yesterday, in addition to grading a stack of papers (and writing a poem about it), I did loads of laundry, vacuumed Sherwood Cottage, drafted two proposals for honors sections of first-year composition (one for first-semester, one for second), and read a novel in preparation for the write-up I mean to do--or at least to do most of--today. All of this was in addition to taking care of Ms. 8 while the Mrs. was at work at the pharmacy, and Ms. 8 has a bit of a head cold or some such thing, which makes her more of a mess than her nearly-twenty-month-old self usually is. So I have been busy, and I will continue to be busy; aside from the aforementioned write-up, I teach today, and the Mrs. works in the afternoon, so I will be taking care of Ms. 8 while trying to negotiate the rest.

Recognizing this, I attempted to wake early, so as to get ahead on the work. The attempt failed; I reset the alarm to its normal time when it went off early. This was despite my having gone to bed reasonably early last night and not having stayed up reading, as I have been known to do. (I do miss getting to read at my leisure. The freelance work goes reasonably easily because I have spent as much time reading for leisure as I have, but I would hate to think that that reading serves no purpose but practice for freelance work.) I do not know what to do about the matter--although I do recall that I have not been treating myself as well as I ought to do. Taking better care of myself seems a place to begin; I should see about doing that. Somehow.

Among that should be my writing practice. It has been a week since I put pen to paper in my physical journal. Doing so was good for me; it eased my mind and prompted me to bring my body into better alignment, which has other benefits. I should probably start doing that again, and not only for the health benefits (physical and mental). Leaving another kind of archive for Ms. 8 to examine in time suggests itself as a good idea--and if not her, then perhaps some student I might come to have in the longed-for future in which I have a tenure-line job and have been able to cultivate long-term relationships with students. I was able to do so to some extent as a graduate student, and the tutee who workshopped a course paper with me for later presentation was moving in that direction; both were good experiences, and I would like to have them again. A record of my deeds and doings, filtered through my reflections on them, seems a thing worth having--but that will not occur if I do not create it, and there are things I write down because I need to exorcise them or remember them past the abilities of my squishy brain that would not read as well in pixels as in pen-strokes.

I would seem to have more to do.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

20151013.0622

Mark a paper
Mark a paper
Mark a paper
Mark a paper
Mark a paper
Mark a
Wait
What
No
Did you really write
That
What do you expect me to do with this
F
Mark a paper
Mark a paper
Mark a paper
Mark a paper
Mark a paper
Mark a
Huh
Hadn't thought of that
Good work
But there are some problems
B+?
Yeah
B+
Mark a paper
Mark a paper
Mark a paper
Mark a paper
Mark a paper
Mark a paper
Mark a paper
Mark a paper
Mark a paper
Mark a paper
Mark a paper
Mark a paper
Mark a paper
Mark a paper
Mark a paper
Mark a paper
Mark a paper
Mark
Wow
...
Wow!
...
Check your spelling
A
Mark a paper
Mark a paper
Mark a paper
Mark a paper
Mark a paper
Mark a paper
Mark a paper
Hm.
No.
No.
Nope.
Nope.
No.
You can do better than this
See me after class

Monday, October 12, 2015

20151012.0628

I have argued against the observance being conducted today, at least under the name it currently carries. That an observance be carried out in early fall is, itself, okay. That it is dedicated to the memory of an important historical figure associated with the place having the observance is, itself, okay. That it is dedicated to the memory of a historical figure whose prominence derives from idiocy and atrocity--and the former is even taught in the "traditional" narratives into which I recall being indoctrinated in my childhood (and "traditional" education in the United States is indoctrination; the concept of American exceptionalism is cultish, indeed, as are the obligations of en masse oaths)--is not, itself, okay. There are more and better things to celebrate than the jackass Christopher Columbus.

Discussions about the holiday tend, to my observation, to prompt considerations of how many others who have committed atrocity are lauded. Comments about the slave-holding lives of Washington and Jefferson come to mind as examples, and they lead to the useful question of how bad a person can be and still be seen as worth praise. They lead also to the useful question of how much good can derive from evil means. Neither offers easy answers, although both easily open up historical figures to inquiry and critique--which is a good thing. "Accepted" truths should be questioned; that they are accepted is revelatory about their acceptors, as is the nature of those truths.

I was going to go somewhere else with this, but I cannot recall where.

What I do recall, though, is that this past weekend has been a good one, overall. Having my parents and my mother-in-law up has been to the benefit of all of us at Sherwood Cottage. Ms. 8, in particular, has enjoyed having access to three of her five grandparents, squealing in delight for hours on end as she has run from one to the other to the other or sat long in their laps, snuggling against them. That it must end is, of course, as it is, although I cannot say I am entirely glad to see it end. For one, it means that I must get back to my continuing work. (I do not get the observance off here, which is, again, confusing.) For another, it means that Sherwood Cottage will be more empty than it has been, and while that will mean I get to sleep in my own bed again, it is good, from time to time, to have company about the place--especially company that works as well as those who have been here.

By tomorrow, then, things will have returned to as much of a sense of normalcy as ever happens here, and I will have been back at the work of trying to make things right for my wife and daughter. The weekend now passed will help with that, I think, at least in some ways, and perhaps other things will fall into place that will allow me to do so far more than might otherwise be the case.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

20151011.0732

Yesterday afternoon and into the early evening, my parents, my mother-in-law, the Mrs., Ms. 8, and I attended the inaugural Chet Baker Festival in Yale, Oklahoma. The event was a pleasant little affair that took up a couple of blocks of downtown streets and offered a few food trucks and music from Tulsa. Some historical paraphernalia were on display, as well, as a relatively small group assembled alongside Baker's son and granddaughter to remember and celebrate one of Yale's storied native sons. It is a fine idea to see put into practice and one that my family and I hope to see continue for many years to come.

One of those lauded at the event was a local historian who had compiled a book of local stories. Her presence, and the general acclaim she received at the event, put me in mind of something. There is a tendency to associate scholarship with urban environments, and with some reason. Population density allows for the dedication of time and resources to scholarly endeavor and apparatus, after all, and the administrative influence that large population centers come to exert over their less-populated surroundings demands training which is facilitated by scholarly bodies. And even in the cases of such schools as the one at which I teach now, which are sizable but not situated amid grand cities and teeming masses, the influence of city life can be felt; schools may be sited where they are specifically to be away from the distractions of urban existence, but they will be close enough to cities that their faculty can access what there is to offer.

In neither case is there an association of the scholarly with the small town, and in the United States' traditional conception of small-town life, there will be some few people of a somewhat scholarly bent (the one or two lawyers the town has, the judge, the physician, the librarian, the schoolteacher, clergy-folk, and one older person who lives alone yet somehow serves as the town's children's benefactor), but "of a scholarly bent" is not the same as "a scholar," and those whose inclinations may be towards the erudite have day jobs that are other than those which focus on the development of new knowledge. To see what amounts to a town scholar at the festival in Yale, then, and to see her lauded for her efforts was refreshing--and it points up that there are, perhaps, more opportunities available for those of us in the humanities than might otherwise appear. For Yale, Oklahoma, is not the only small town that has storied native sons and daughters, and even without the presence of those so praised as Chet Baker or Jim Thorpe, there are things to find out and stories to collect and retell, and those of us who come from smaller places can do much to bring them to light.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

20151010.0650

My parents are up at Sherwood Cottage, as I have noted, and things are going well. My dad and I spent much of yesterday building bookshelves, replacing some of the particle-board constructions the Mrs. and I had had in place with actual wood. The shelves are sturdy, although unfinished; we have yet to paint or stain them. Something about the fresh-cut lumber smell satisfies, though, and having to worry less about whether or not Ms. 8 will fall through the shelves as she tries to climb them (she usually does not need to be warned away from the ascent attempt, but there are times...) is a relief. That I have seen how the work is done also helps; I may be able to do similar things in the future, if there is need. (There will be need.)

As I write, my parents, my wife, and my daughter are all asleep. Some part of me thinks that I should also be asleep, taking advantage of the time to get some rest, if nothing else. Another part, not far from it, suggests that I do not do well to take the time to write that I do, that I should instead attend to matters of family. Enjoying the quiet of the morning seems a betrayal to that part of me, a favoring of solitude to company, of being alone to being a family man. It comes off as somehow selfish, regardless of being a thing to which I am accustomed (and that I am thus accustomed seems a confirmation that I am largely selfish, with the implications thereof). It might be different were I bowing even now to the truth that work continues, but I am not--at least, not yet. (I am sure it will come.)

I love my family, certainly. I am glad to have them about me. But I am an introvert; being around even the comfortable and familiar folks who are my family is, for me, and outpouring rather than an indrawing. The well from which I irrigate my fields is one that replenishes in the quiet hours, filling itself with reading and quiet contemplation and writing that encodes ideas found therein. To be sure, much of what there is to read this morning is not of the sort that promotes serenity--although, following my regular practice, I am not going to discuss them much, if at all--but dropping a bucket into the well and pulling it, filled, back up is soothing. The very act of reading, of passing eyes over pages and making meaning from pixels or pen-strokes or print-marks seen thereupon, offers ease and comfort. Or it does to me; I know that there are many who find such things more draining that ditch-digging, and there are times I envy them the bounded nature of their work and the easy camaraderie that many of them have with one another and with others yet. The world is built for extroverts, after all, and being on winning teams tends to be better than the inverse...

But I hear people up and about, now. And, as I have said, I am glad to have them about me. Perhaps I ought to show it them.

Friday, October 9, 2015

20151009.0625

I had a busy day yesterday. Among others, I did address the call for submissions for "age appropriate" materials. Not all of the poems were about food, although the first one was, and I think I did decently at keeping out of the verse things that were asked to be kept out of it. (That said, I am sure a dedicated reader could find a way to make sex out of the words I put on the page. The numbers of ls and ts, particularly if in close association with os and us, could factor into such a reading, and I am sure that some of what I wrote could be read as euphemism for any number of acts. Had I written about tossed salad, for example, I am sure someone could say something against me. I did not, but I could have.) And I also cranked out a complete draft of the book chapter on which I have been working for some time. Whether or not it will read well to the editors, I have yet to find--although I think it will (obviously)--but it is ready to move along to the editors, which is all to the good.

My parents are up from the Texas Hill Country, come to Sherwood Cottage as it stands on the wind-swept plains. Ms. 8 was overjoyed to see them, giggling and spending no small amount of time cuddling up to them and snuggling on their laps. For their parts, they were similarly happy, coming as close to giggling and to the squee as I have seen from them in more than thirty years. They will be here over the weekend, and I am glad of it, as there is work enough for all to do and more, and it continues--I have stacks of papers to which I must attend, as well as a freelance piece, and there is some building work that has to get done over the longer weekend.

That it is a longer weekend is because it is fall break here, something about which I have commented before. Unlike last year, it does not coincide with homecoming weekend, which I lament; yoking the two together minimized disruption to classes, which is something I appreciate. As in my earlier comments, I am confused by the timing of the break (on a Friday rather than on the federal holiday observed, however fallaciously, on the following Monday) and the need for it, but I have every intention of exploiting the time. Obviously so, as noted above; there is much to do in it--and my mother-in-law is also coming up today, which promises to make things interesting for the weekend. I do not know whether to delight in having so many hands to tend to things so that I can tend to specific things or to be worried about having so many heads to butt against one another.

I mislaid my hard-hat a long time ago, after all. Perhaps I should buy another one...

Thursday, October 8, 2015

20151008.0624

I have noted, I think, needing to address a call for submissions of "age appropriate" materials, making the note here. The call does helpfully include a list of things to avoid in the work, namely adult language and references to sex, violence, death, religion, magic, and evolution. This presents something of a problem, as everything serves as a reference to one of them, if examined with sufficient rigor and through a particular critical lens.* My sense of humor also lends itself to treating some or all of the things the call for submissions asks to avoid, and my general aversion to censorship rails against the restrictions (although I concede that my right to free expression does not entail a right to be rewarded by others for its exercise). But I could use the money promised for accepted submissions, and so I mean to offer some; I have been mulling over what to treat for a while now.

One idea came to me in the shower this morning. The Mrs. and I have been eating beans for the past couple of days; we made a large batch of them and, trying to be thrifty, ate leftovers until they were gone. One of the natural consequences of such dietary choices evidenced itself while I was bathing this morning, and the smell of it, making obvious its cause, called food to mind. I was reminded that eating is one of the universal human experiences--even more than sex is, since there are people who remain lifelong celibates--and that, while writing about it could be construed as references to sex or violence,† it is not likely to be unless I spend time and effort making it so. I could write something like "Tongues flicking across the squash / sliding up and down its length / whetting it for the knife that / thrusts" or "I can taste its death as I eat / the coppery flavor of blood spilled remaining / a hint of suffering in the steak / as I take the meat into my mouth," and that would likely get me into trouble, but I need not. There are other things that I can say about food and eating, not less true, but more likely to earn me a bit of compensation for my work.

I am glad to have stumbled into such an idea. Indeed, I already have a good one for the first piece I will compose--and I will do it soon, interrupting other work that does not necessarily pay as well for reasons that ought to be fairly obvious. Others will likely follow after the first, and I will send off something to see if I can sell it. Perhaps I will. But if I do not, I am sure I can find another use for what I would write. I keep records of my writing against the idea of being worth study later on. And, if nothing else, my work might amuse Ms. 8 someday--and that is something I endorse whole-heartedly.

*Indeed, in literature classes I have taught, I have occasionally been challenged to read such things as numbers as signifying sex. The ubiquitous 69 is, of course, easy. The numbers 10 and 11 are perhaps less so--although they can be sexual references. So can the number 52. Or, if Roman numerals are to be used, 30. The students are typically titillated.

†The former shows up in cucumbers and similar foods, phallic in shape. The latter manifests in meat--although particularly devoted pacifists might argue that the harvesting of root and stem vegetables such as potatoes and broccoli might also count as violence, since the plant does not survive in such cases. Not being a gardener, botanist, or pacifist, I cannot say how correct such an argument might be.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

20151007.0649

I get carried away with reading things at times. I have for as long as I can remember. That I have long done so did much to inform my decision to study English at the undergraduate level, and the events of that experience led me to study it at the graduate level. My finances do not thank me for doing so, to be sure, but most of the rest of my life does. It was in graduate school, after all, that I met my wife, and I count having done so as one of the best things in my life. (And it's not even our anniversary--or close to it!) And I doubt that I would be able to do the work I do without the training I received; since I enjoy much of the work as it continues, I would miss out on some pleasure, had I not what I have.

Work does continue, of course. I got a freelance order in this morning, for which I have already bought the book; I have a few things to do that I ought to have done yesterday, after which, I will do the reading and begin the write-up. Among them is work on a particularly interesting job application, not the kind I can crank out in the morning before I head to work--especially not when I have distracted myself with reading before settling in to warm up my writing and thinking. Among them also should be some work on my book chapter, as well as a few other things. Many are the balls I have in the air, and less than skilled at juggling am I--but still, I will make things happen as they ought.

The Mrs. and Ms. 8 are both well. The former has been working diligently at a local pharmacy for some time now, and she excels at the job--although  both of us could stand to see it pay her a little bit better than it does. As I recall, she is due for a raise, and although it is likely to be a relatively small one, every bit of extra helps. At the same time, Ms. 8 continues to grow, displaying new skills that neither her mother nor I recall actually teaching her (although we may have demonstrated them in front of her a time or two--but not as explicit instruction), using new words, and finding new ways to make her presence known and assert her personality. She is generally cheerful and good-natured, but she is also...insistent on many things. Having some more words will be a help to her, I think.

Several members of our families are calling on Sherwood Cottage this weekend. My parents are coming up tomorrow, and my mother-in-law will arrive soon after. Having three of her five grandparents around will also be a help to Ms. 8, I think; she does well to be surrounded by love, and I may well use the fact of so much oversight to my advantage--since I do have more work to do...

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

20151006.0628

The papers I am having my students write this term are, in large measure prescribed by program dictates. That is, there is a required sequence of major assignments in the class I am assigned, one established in the interests of normalization. The idea is that all sections of the class will be largely equivalent to one another, demanding much the same tasks of the students within them, so that those who teach them afterwards can make stable, reasonably reliable assumptions about what skills and training the students have had. The idea is not a bad one, overall, in part because there should be some consistency among iterations of a single course within a single semester, and in part because the normalization allows for some structured guidance for the novice teachers who most frequently teach the course. (That the course is largely ascribed to novice teachers is a problem in itself, I admit; I am convinced by several CCC and College English pieces that argue the point. And I am suddenly reminded that I need to read more from those journals.)

The paper my students are currently assigned is a textual analysis. They are set to pick apart a piece of writing (something recent from the Opinion section of the New York Times), looking at it in terms of its overall effectiveness at fulfilling its evident purpose for its presumed audience. I have to wonder what would result from such attention to my own writing--which is not something I can reasonably provide, being too close to the composition of it to be able to assume the necessary perspective. (Also, I am minded of the...issues attendant on self-critiquing work. Poe's "Philosophy of Composition" comes to mind as an easy example of how such endeavors can go wrong.) That does not mean I am not aware of certain things in my writing, to be sure. My prose entries to this webspace, for example, are usually 500 to 550 words or thereabouts, and they tend to include both a single link and the statement that "work continues." The word count is something I set out to do, as I believe the length is useful as a sort of warm-up for a day of reading and writing, as well as teaching of the same. The others, as well as other features I have seen and do not note here, are largely organic, authentic products of my writing process and development. What they suggest about the audience I explicitly and implicitly try to address, about my expected primary and imagined secondary readership, about what I am trying to do for each, I am not certain--although I know that they are revelatory of things of which I am normally unaware. Whether I succeed in any of it for any of them, I am also unsure. It is to uncover such things that my students are set on the current paper. I have no small hope that they will succeed, even if the pieces they read ultimately do not.

Monday, October 5, 2015

20151005.0616

I was able to get the write-up done yesterday, but I think having pushed myself to do so as I had to do is having effects on me. Something is, anyway, and the effects are unpleasant. They are not enough to stop me from doing what I need to do, to be sure, but that does not mean I am happy to have them befall me. Why would I be expected to be? Even if I acknowledge that they are just and appropriate consequences of my actions--and I am not doing so--I need not be happy with them. We do not condemn those who labor in the fields for noting the soreness of their backs, and yet that soreness is a just and appropriate consequence of their work. Why the same should not be true for the work of the mind that I, and those like me, do eludes me.

One of the just and appropriate consequences of being trained to do the work I do is that I have developed a marked tendency to look backwards at things. I keep records, after all, and although there are many reasons for me to do so, the most accessible of them is to review events and impressions from the past. This day and month have not yielded much in this webspace; indeed, only last year did I write in this blogroll on this day. Matters have changed significantly since I was moving into the L5R Winter Court, and while there was some thought that it might be the last to be run--there is always such a thought--the end envisioned was not the same kind of end that now looms large over the IP. I continue to hold out hope that things will be well, but I know that they will change--which is needful for improvement but admits the possibility of its inverse.

The comment that it is "just a game" will suggest itself to some, I know. They are right, at one level; it is a game (a series of them, really), and there are other, much more prominent things with which to be concerned. It is a game with which I have been involved deeply for some time--since I started undergraduate work, so some fifteen years at this point. It is a game that has allowed me to be a part of an international community, one in which my voice has not always sounded out but which has valued that voice when I have used it. It introduced me to a great many people whose friendship I have valued and still value. The game helped me to graduate with honors from my baccalaureate school and get into graduate school, leading me at length to my wife and daughter, and it gave me somewhat to do to help offset a series of unhappy events at one point. So while it is a game, how just it is is far less certain. At least, it is to me.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

20151004.0719

I feel as if I am behind again. It is perhaps an hour later than I am accustomed to writing my personal blog entry, and it is in part because I slept later than I usually do, striking the "dismiss" button on my alarm rather than the perilous "snooze." (Fortunately, my body, being accustomed to certain things at certain times, decided to wake me not much later, and once up, I find returning to sleep difficult in many instances.) It is also in part because work has already continued, although not the work I would have expected to do. (I completed the freelance reading yesterday, and I mean to push through the write-up today--if I can get myself started. I am somehow reluctant to do so; I do not know why.) I went over a paper for a member of the family, and I did so happily--I am pleased to be of service and valued for it.

As I think on the matter now, I find that the experience of going over papers in such a way is something between the work of teaching and the work of grading. When I make comments on papers I read for family, I make many of the same notes that I do on the papers my students write. That is, I find the same things need attention across the work, and I make much the same comments in response. Perhaps for family, I explain more in the comments--but they do not typically sit in my classrooms, and so I do not have the opportunity to explain to them as I do to my students. Perhaps that is part of why I find the wok of reading and reviewing what my family writes to be less onerous than the work of reading and reviewing what my students write; I have not told my family the things I have told my students, so I am not as vexed at seeing things in my family's writing that I see in my students'. I do not feel as if I am not worthy of attention when I see my family do things I have warned my students against doing.

There is also this to consider: My family appreciates the comments I make when I review what writing I get. They consider what I say seriously and carefully, knowing why I say it and knowing that I need not take the time to say it. Perhaps the last is not applicable with my students; there is an expectation that I will make comments on what they submit to me, and not only on the students' part. The rest, though, should apply. I stress to them that I offer comments as a means to help them improve, that I want them to write well (in part because I have to read what they write, and reading seventy-something good papers is a chore; seventy-something papers that are not all good is far worse), and they do not believe me. It is almost as if they have all read Zawacki and internalized what he says...

Saturday, October 3, 2015

20151003.0641

With the new month, there is a new tendency in the weather around Sherwood Cottage. It has cooled dramatically; yesterday ranged only into the 70s Fahrenheit, and it was in the 50s when I walked to work. The cool was invigorating, and my teaching persona was significantly more...emphatic as I conducted my classes and sat for my office hours. (In the latter, I worked on my book chapter and on a report, which I finished yesterday evening.) The Mrs. and I had the house open for most of the day, letting the outside air flow through where the air conditioner had long been running and refreshing much of the inside of Sherwood Cottage, which is to the good. Today seems poised to be much the same, which I appreciate, not only because it lowers my bills, but also because there is something nice about having an actual autumn--even for a dedicated indoorsman like me.

I'll not be able to enjoy as much of it as might otherwise be the case, of course, because work continues. (See how I slipped it in there?) I managed to get through the teaching week decently enough, and I spent time working on other projects--which is to the good. But a freelance piece is waiting for me, and although I have scaled back the freelancing to some degree (my client and I are okay with my working on one each week while the semester is on), I cannot let it lapse entirely. I have a novel to read today and a write-up to begin (and, it is to be hoped, to finish tomorrow; I should be able to make it work). Afterward, I have more writing to do, and students submitted papers yesterday; I will need to assess them before too long. (I did tell them I would not be rushing to plow through them, though, so I have a bit of time available to me for that task.)

Among that "more writing to do," aside from a book chapter, job applications, and an email I really need to send out to panelists of mine, is a response to a call for submissions. An email reached me that notes an agency is in search of age-appropriate verse and short prose passages for use in testing--and the pay-out for each accepted submission is more than adequate. It is a thing I need to answer, certainly, even if the idea of me writing "age-appropriate" materials for use on standardized assessments is somewhat...odd. I have long noted prioritizing my family over even my own personal ethics; working to support my wife and daughter takes precedence over other matters for me. I can do work for employers I find...questionable for such a reason. And I am aware that in saying such a thing, I put myself at the top of a slippery slope, indeed; I hope my stance remains steady as I stand here.

Friday, October 2, 2015

20151002.0614

I mourn with the families and friends of those slain unjustly in Oregon yesterday.

As with the unfortunate incidence of similar things before, I will withhold most other comments.
I was not there.
I do not believe anyone I know was there.
I know little about the event.
I have only a small stake in the event.
I have no business saying anything else about it than
I mourn with the families and friends of those slain unjustly in Oregon yesterday.
And neither do most others who speak about it,
Particularly those who speak most loudly about it.

I mourn with the families and friends of those slain unjustly in Oregon yesterday.

"With" may not be the right word,
But I think it is not wrong.
"For" might be a better choice,
But I think it is not right.
"About" just seems stupid,
But so do many things.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

20151001.0608

Rain is falling, lightning striking, and thunder booming around Sherwood Cottage. The weather is welcome, as, despite the wetness earlier in the year, the area is still in something of a rain deficit. The Mrs. and Ms. 8 both sleep soundly through the storm this time; I believe I was roused by it once or twice in the night, which is unusual for me. Or I might have woken at shifting beside me; there are things that call a person out of bed, and getting out of and into a bed where another sleeps may well attract attention. I do not recall fully in any event; I might have roused, but if I did, it was not to true wakefulness.

I am unsure how to feel about that, though. One of the things I am "supposed" to do is protect my home; certainly, of those who live at Sherwood Cottage, I am the most equipped to do so--poorly equipped though I am. For me to sleep as soundly as I do, coming only partly to wakefulness when thunder booms loudly enough that the house moves in sympathy or when someone climbs into bed next to me, bespeaks a certain inability to protect my home and the people in it, one that goes beyond the problems of my insufficient training and underdeveloped physique. Perhaps it is good that I live in such a sedate place as I do.

Work continues, of course. There is a freelance piece for which I need to do some reading waiting for me. There is also a stack of reading for me to do sitting on my desk, not so much student papers at this point (although those are coming in tomorrow), but the works of other scholars that I need to read so that I can build my own knowledge better and perhaps do more to push new knowledge out into the world. I need also to get back to work on my book chapter, which I have left too long neglected, and there are yet job applications to fill out; the stack of those on my desk has been growing, and I have not been doing enough to prune it down. As ever, then, it seems I will have a busy day; I would not know what to do did I not.

I am in a good position to be so, as yesterday was good enough for me to capitalize on. I was able to continue my practice of generating sample papers for my students, writing the kind of assignment I give them. Modeling desired behavior is a commonplace of educational practice, particularly with less advanced students--and all of mine this term are in first-semester composition, with most of them in their first semester of college. It is also something uncommon; I know of few others who do such things, and the rarity of it calls attention to it even in the minds of students whose evaluations loom large in faculty employment decisions. Too, it builds up samples of my writing that I can use for various professional purposes without worry about securing permissions, and such exercises as I completed yesterday equip me to write for at least one journal--which I need to do.