Friday, February 24, 2006

The Joy of Computer Lab Days...

There is something extremely satisfying in teaching composition. At the end of the semester (I'm teaching an 8-week version of my class), it becomes so exciting to see all of my students dutifully sitting behind their computers editing and revising their research essays.

They ask each other questions that show that they have paid at least some attention throughout the class: "Would you check this paragraph for passive voice?" or "I know that something is not correct in the predicate here, but I don't know what it is."

The improvement in my CC kids is so drastic that I don't know what to do with myself. It certainly isn't my teaching. There is no real way to force composition down someone's throat. They either pay attention to the book and work hard on drafting and revision, or they don't.

Monday, February 20, 2006

A bit O' Sadness...

I did not get the super cool job at the school north of Boston. It would have been super neat, but I would have had to really hustle to get my work done. Now I have a whole year to get my diss written and send some chapters out for publishing.

A funny thing about my committee...They all agreed that I need to spend MORE time talking to myself.

It kinda makes sense. They said that I was much more adept at teaching my dissertation than i was at communicating it in written form. So they have recommended a combination of me talking with my micro-cassette recorder and getting together with them to just talk about my project, while recording our conversation.

Anyway, just wanted to touch base. For those who are counting, I have picked up another job. So I now kinda have 4 jobs...eeek. It will be ok...Just remember "Don't Sleep...the Clown will eat me."

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A Conspiracy of Gay Witches...

I had a phone call last night from my Grandfather, who is a retired Baptist missionary. I love my grandpa very much, but sometimes he just really confuses me.

First, it is important to note that he almost never calls me just to chat. Generally, he sends e-mails with links to conservative Christian groups that will assist me in fighting off the liberal bias in my university. While he means it to be a form of assistance, I have to take it as something of comic relief.

I don't mean to make light of his beliefs. He is very sincere in his faith, and he has had a long and fruitful retirement career of serving prisoners, which is something that I really think the modern church ignores.

Still, I was a bit surprised when he began to talk about this speaker from the Christian Coalition who had come to urge their church to really strive to vote for a PA bill that would limit marriage to one man and one woman. This in and of itself was not surprising. This is part of the main reason that he calls me, to make sure that I am still a Christian...and a conservative one at that. (If he only knew)

I was a bit surprised when he said that his county had voted democratic in the last election. It had always seemed like such a staid and conservative most of Ohio. I asked him, "How did that come to be?"

His answer was, "Well, just to the east a bit, there is a community where we have a daughter church [I'm not sure what a daughter church is or why it is different from a son church. I didn't know that churches could procreate in that way or have defined gender.]. They are really struggling with the large number of homosexuals and people interested in witchcraft who are really giving them a hard time."

This immediately called to mind an image of a smoke-filled room with a large circular table. Around it sit the cast of Queer Eye, Rosie, a number of people who look like extras from "Manos the Hands of Fate," some fourteen-year-olds in pale make-up and black clothes, and in the gloom, I can kinda see Usher. I don't know which side he supports. They begin to plot and scheme about how they can destroy this small Eastern PA church. Cackles abound.

I know that in many places in the world the Church is really under attack. Christians are daily killed because they are Christians. To equate that experience with being responded to angrily when you try to force tracts down people's throats at an antique fair seems a bit problematic.

Check out Reb. Michael Lerner's "The Left Hand of God".

Saturday, February 04, 2006

What I've been up to...

Hey, All!
How you all doin'? I know that I've been slacking for the past month, but let me explain. I have been super duper busy. Let's see, what have I been up to?

Well, I am applying for a job at Gordon College. I am only recently going to be ABD, but it was the perfect job for me, so I figured, "Why not?" They are looking someone who can teach video production, editing, communications ethics, media studies, and culture studies in media. This is a fairly rare combination, let alone having Christians who can do all of that. So, I feel like I have something of a shot, which is nice.

Secondly, I have been furiously attempting to complete my dissertation proposal and, what's harder, getting my committee to meet all at the same place, at the same time. It looks like I will be defending on Feb. 17th. So those of you who pray, please do so between the hours of 12:30p and 3p.

Thirdly, I have been trying to keep balanced three jobs: two teaching and one online tutoring. I would like to quit one or more, but I need the money and am sick of taking out tons of loans. Fortunately, one of these ends in another four weeks. Then, I'll only have two jobs, yay!

Finally, i have been trying to make time to exercise and relax. Exercising takes tons of time, what with all of the jocks and waifs hogging the good machines for hours on end, while the porcine among us must waddle around the indoor track. I don't mind waddling, but then some speedster comes along and gets all grumpy that we dare to walk while they can run a 6-10 mph for 30 min. I want to just yell, "Hey! We would love to get out of your way, but there are too many fuzzy bunnies chatting about how drunk they got last night rather than paying attention to the 25 min limit."

Not that I'm bitter or anything. I find that a steady diet of music that moves between Johnny Cash's Unearthed, Nirvana's Unplugged, and Ben Harper does a great deal to deal with almost any situation that arises. Music is definitely a blessing....and a curse.

I have also been reading a great deal. In addition to the books for my dissertation, a collection of film noir texts, novels, Sin City, and continental philosophy of ethics, I have been enjoying cheap mysteries. I am currently reading Ian Rankin's The Black Book, Alexander McCall Smith's Tears of the Giraffe, and I just finished listening to Elmore Leonard's The Hot Kid. Fortunately, since they are all mysteries, I can pretend that they are part of my research, since noirs and mysteries have a common ancestry.

You know what else is super cool? Stand-up comedy. Not all of it obviously, I hate Dane Cook, but for the most part, I am really amazed at how diversely the same sorts of issues are raised.

I mean how many comics do a bit about, "You know what the difference between men and women really is...?" Still, there are minute differences that make them hilarious. There are also those moments when the comic does something completely different and unexpected. I love stand up comedy and have since i discovered my parent's Bill Cosby records. "Himself" is still my remedy for even the worst day.

Name that comic: " of the toughest times in anyone's when you have to murder a loved one...because they're the devil...but...other than that though it's been a good day."