Thursday, July 29, 2004

why it is so difficult to be me

It's far easier to teach a course when you know nothing about it. It's far easier when someone else can tell you what they think you should do, and you can't argue with their reasoning because you have no beliefs about it. It's far easier to not know...

I hated my first semester teaching. I knew what I was doing was a huge disservice to my students, but I had no information on what else to do. Now I know what I need to do to grow as a teacher, but I am not allowed...

It's awful when someone promises you freedom, tells you how to achieve freedom, and then quickly limits your freedom in ways they don't see as limiting, but threaten to undermine everything you believe in. It'd be far better if they told me I had no freedom from the beginning instead of taunting me with the promise of it...

I'm probably being cryptic. Let me just say that writing a Rhetoric syllabus and teaching this course next semester seems to be one of the hardest things I've ever done in my entire life. And I've done some awfully hard things before...

I've had to resolve myself to turn this next semester over to the universe, hope I don't screw it up too much, know it's going to suck, and trust I'll learn something valuable from all this, if nothing else, how detrimental the mandates of certain people can be to my own sanity and the education of my students. STANDARDIZE STANDARDIZE STANDARDIZE! You'd think we might have learned that doesn't actually work... You'd think the years of Writing Studies theory and the professors here might have been able to teach us that. Unfortunately not. The good news is, this only has to last the length of one semester.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Shameless Music Promotion

I discovered a gem on Friday morning. I was up at 5 (don't ask me why I was up at 5 on my day off, but I was) and listening to WMNF, my radio station in Tampa (they stream on live365) Anyway, the host of the show kept playing music from the Paste Magazine Sampler, and I had to find out what this was. Actually, it's the coolest magazine ever. Every 2 months, they release an issue with tons of reviews of independent singer-songwriter music, as well as a CD sampler with like 20 songs on it (22 this month), all from different artists who are about to release CDs. This month there are songs from Rilo Kiley, Tift Merritt, & Richard Shindell, as well as articles about Kasey Chambers, Damien Rice, & Rachael Sage. Not to meantion the great set of book & movie reviews. I stayed up for a couple of hours reading this thing last night.

Two tidbits about Paste Magazine & this town:

1. Paste also has a radio station that streams on live365. This is great if like me, you can't stand the radio stations in this town (with the exception of WEFT, which I can stand half the time)

2. They don't sell Paste at Pages for All Ages (bummer cuz I have a gift certificate to there) but they do sell it at Borders, and occasionally when you go to buy it there, you might bump into your roommate who is also there buying it for you. You could only be so fortunate to have a roommate like that.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

The real thing

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Blockbuster joins the Netflix like mania

This is so interesting! All the money I paid in late fees to Blockbuster... Only reason I don't want to do this is because they don't have the selection. I really wanted to watch all of the Sopranos, but they didn't have them. I doubt they have Star Trek DS9 either. Plus, I don't feel like driving across town to get my movies when they'll deliver to my house. But sometimes Netflix can be rather slow, especially considering my distant location in Urbana.

powerbook madness

This is my new powerbook. Isn' t it lovely? It shipped today! In a week or less, I should be a MAC user again. Life is great.

Monday, July 19, 2004

things I can't live without

1. A Shrinter
2. A Italian art litter bowl for my cats

The internet is a funny funny place. (Courtesy of other people's blogs)

Saturday, July 17, 2004

The Cross of Interdisciplinarity

Doing interdisciplinary work can be a burden. Now, in CWS at the U of I we're encouraged, in fact, we really can't get by, without doing interdisciplinary work. There's just not enough classes in the English department to make sure we get everything we need. I personally enjoy working in other disciplines: Speech Com, Women's Studies, Art & Design, Cirriculum and Instruction, Library Science. However, as Gail et. al.'s book points out, I'm not the only one suffering from a case of too much interdisciplinarity (and no ability to focus)
Many computers and composition specialists, caught between two worlds, felt an obligation to remain current both in their knowledge of technology and in their understanding of composition studies. (165)
This is definitely a problem for me. I love teaching web design, but in order to do that well, I have to learn Dreamweaver MX and Photoshop thoroughly so I can problem solve for my students, and I have to learn whatever new program is industry standard when it comes out. In other words, I'm always teaching myself new computer programs. I love it, but when do I have time to learn new programs, plus keep up with all the current theory in all of the fields of my interest (which are far too many), plus read back on all the theory I've missed in the last 2000 years before I was born. All this just to become a competent scholar. Boy I wish I was interested in dead people. There's less work to do, and fewer people to argue your claims. These live ones just keep changing and making life more difficult...

Now here's where Pat Sullivan summarizes it all in a moment of pure revelatory genius:
I think that was my learning experience--being interdisciplinary. You have to learn all the languages of the groups that you're dealing with. You have to constantly reframe your project into the questions and interests that each of these groups have. I wasn't very good at doing that when I first started, and I think that my dissertaiton didn't get out to as big as a community because I didn't quite know how to be interdisciplinary--I was learning how to be interdiscplinary. (169)
Pat makes the point that this is why she couldn't get a conference proposal accepted, because she couldn't sell it to the right audience. Oh, I hope that is my only problem! I hope it's not that I'm an incompetent scholar or I really don't know what I'm talking about (because I think I do, and I think it's valuable) but just that I don't know how to talk to my audience. Certainly, I learned how to talk to my students this semester, but I hadn't a clue how to do that last semester. Anyway, we'll see if I can narrow all these disciplines into one dissertation topic, sell it properly to the different disciplinary audiences, and figure out some way to get it published. That will be a big enough feat for me!

Friday, July 16, 2004

Why do I have nothing to say?

A good question, one I can't answer apparently since I haven't posted in over a week, and thus I must make it a theme of this blog post. I've been involved in bargaining the first contract here at the U of I, and we finally have a contract, which the membership still has to ratify. Here is a NG article (if this link works). At this point, I don't know what I can say, so I won't say much else. I'm glad the bargaining is over, and as the article says, we support this contract. It was an interesting process to be a part of.

I almost bought a powerbook today, but I'm going to see if I can get a lower interest rate on it with a certain credit card, so I'll wait a day or three. I'm very excited to have a laptop, especially to return to the world of MACs, which I haven't owned since I was an undergrad. My last 2 computer purchases were PCs, a Compaq laptop (which sadly died in an incident involving a glass of water and my ex-roommates cats) and a Dell desktop. The Dell I love, but I really think I'd be better off with a powerbook. There are things I want to do that Dells can't do. But I'm opting out of the IPod, even though it was going to be cheap. I already have the Jukebox, and I like it, so I'll stick with that for now. Perhaps in 3 years I'll buy a purple IPod, as there are secret plans out there that are in the works.

And thus as I've come across this quote, and am still in the midst of Gail's book, it is so very appropriate:
Apple marketed the small, combined CPU-and-monitor system as the people’s computer and claimed that behind the system’s design lay the assumption that it made more sense to teach computers about people than people about computers (74)
I hope my new laptop will be so well taught about me that I'll barely have to teach it anything. Of course, I'll have to change my programming from a PC, and I'll have to learn to switch back and forth (something like being ambidextrous?), but it's all possible. And I'll be able to bring it to work with me. What a joy!

Thursday, July 08, 2004

things that make me happy

1. One of my students told someone in the hall that she likes my class.
2. I have a number of students who are taking their projects to places I never anticipated, and doing a fantastic job of it.
3. Breakfast in the morning with your roommate at the Original Pancake House for her birthday makes for an excellent in class discussion.
4. Mozilla Firefox is a far superior browser to Internet Explorer. I am in love with the tabs! Brilliant!
5. I am about one step away from purchasing a Powerbook and I sort of rode a bike again for the first time in ages, two things on my Goals list.
6. This semester teaching Dreamweaver (which is in fact the only thing I've taught consistently in my course, with the exception of resumes & cover letters) I'm going to learn more things about the program that I never knew how to do, and be able to make even better websites, and thus teach my students to make far superior websites than my former students.
7. Since tonight is my only weekend night this week (thrilling isn't it?) I plan to eat home made Indian food and watch City of God.

Monday, July 05, 2004

computer classroom issues in english

Gail et al's book, a history of computers in composition, had this interesting tidbit which reminded me of my own recently computer classroom problems:
A further challenge for those wanting to use computers in their teaching was getting access to computers in the face of institutional cultures that saw writing as a trivial activity--relative to the number crunching and data processing. (48-49)
At the U of I, we have ATLAS who runs all the computer classrooms for Liberal Arts and Sciences. Their biggest concern in ensuring that the computers are being used in the classrooms all the time. They want number crunching. Most of their computer classrooms are a screen and huge computer system at the front of the classroom, so big you can't see a short instructor like me behind it. There are a set of computers facing the front of the room. They built a room in English that is a bit more mobile; the chairs move around, and they built a section of the room with tables that you can also move around. However, if you want to lose the computers and sit in that area, you can't see each other very well. They just didn't build enough space over there. It was more important to put the space in the computer area. Sad.

Why aren't labs designed with users in mind? Why aren't computers? These things are supposed to make our lives easier, yes? Well, sometimes they're so hard to use that they just make life far more difficult. So much of it has to do with thinking about computers as only scientific machines, not designed to aid people in their lives, but to have people figure them out and aid them. I wonder how much of it is related to this quote:
I had the opportunity as a very young person working my way through school to use IBM magnetic tape electric typewriters that were available mostly in the business world...I also used line editors on mainframes when I could get my hands on one, usually in business settings. (Burns, 53)
When I think about MAC vs PC, MACs are typically used in education, PCs in business (although this may be changing). MAC has so many innovative programs, but for PCs, you can get only the same types of programs over and over. I was looking for something like Notetaker for PC, but I couldn't find anything, at least not on a quick search. How many software companies still see writing as "number crunching" and "data processing", something to be done with concision, without much consideration of the processes of folks when they're actually writing?

Friday, July 02, 2004

blog edited collection

Super exciting! It's an edited collection online, and you can comment on it. Oh, and I know someone else published here from my university, not associated with Writing Studies, but ICR, where I will be taking a class next semester. Very exciting. I'll look at these articles in more detail and comment on them later.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

too fun to pass up

via culturecat

*Bold the ones you've seen

*Italicize the ones you've seen a bit of

*Add three movies to the bottom of the list

(not in the directions, but I'm going to bold & italicize all the films I own on this list)

01. Trainspotting
02. Shrek
03. M
04. Dogma
05. Strictly Ballroom
06. The Princess Bride
07. Love Actually
08. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings
09. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

10. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
11. Reservoir Dogs

12. Desperado
13. Password Swordfish
14. Kill Bill Vol. 1
15. Donnie Darko
16. Spirited Away

17. Better Than Sex
18. Sleepy Hollow
19. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

20. The Eye
21. Requiem for a Dream
22. Dawn of the Dead (The Old One)
23. The Pillow Book
24. The Italian Job (the original version)
25. The Goonies
26. The Basketball Diaries

27. The Spice Girls Movie
28. Army of Darkness
29. The Color Purple
30. The Safety of Objects
31. Can't Hardly Wait
32. Mystic Pizza
33. Finding Nemo
34. Monsters Inc.
35. Circle of Friends
36. Mary Poppins
37. The Bourne Identity
38. Forrest Gump
39. A Clockwork Orange
40. Kindergarten Cop

41. On The Line
42. My Big Fat Greek Wedding
43. Final Destination
44. Sorority Boys
45. Urban Legend
46. Cheaper by the Dozen
47. Fierce Creatures
48. Dude, Where's My Car?
49. Ladyhawke
50. Ghostbusters
51. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
52. Back to the Future

53. An Affair To Remember
54. Somewhere In Time
55. North By Northwest
56. Moulin Rouge
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
58. The Wizard of Oz

59. Zoolander
60. A Walk to Remember
61. Chicago
62. Vanilla Sky

63. The Sweetest Thing
64. Don't Tell Mom the Babysitters Dead
65. The Nightmare Before Christmas
66. Chasing Amy
67. Edward Scissorhands

68. Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert
69. Muriel's Wedding
70. Croupier
71. Blade Runner
72. Cruel Intentions
73. Ocean's Eleven
74. Magnolia
75. Fight Club
76. The Beauty and The Beast

77. Much Ado About Nothing
78. Dirty Dancing
79. Gladiator
80. Ever After
81. Braveheart

82. What Lies Beneath
83. Regarding Henry
84. The Dark Crystal
85. Star Wars

86. The Birds
87. Beaches
88. Cujo
89. Maid In Manhattan
90. The Labyrinth

91. Thoroughly Modern Millie
92. His Girl Friday
93. Chocolat
94. Independence Day
95. Singing in the Rain
96. Big Fish

97. The Thomas Crown Affair
98. The Matrix
99. Stargate
100. A Hard Day's Night
101. About A Boy
102. Jurassic Park

103. Life of Brian
104. Dune
105. Help.
106. Grease
107. Newsies
108. Gone With The Wind

109. School of Rock
110. TOMMY
111. Yellow Submarine
112. From Hell
113. Benny & Joon
114. First Knight
115. Panic Room
116. UHF
117. Amelie
118. Three Amigos
119. Muppets From Space
120. Babe
121. An American In Paris
122. X-Men

123. Spy Game
124. 12 Monkeys
125. Citizen Kane
126. What's Eating Gilbert Grape?
127. Life as a House

128. The Broken Heart's Club: A Romantic Comedy
129. Life is Beautiful
130. All Over the Guy
131. Quills
132. Dances with wolves

133. Van Helsing
134. Hidalgo
135. Ned Kelly
136. Wilde
137. Blazing Saddles
138. A Walk on the Moon
139. Brotherhood of the Wolf
140. The last unicorn
141. Imitation of Life
142. Jaws
143. Starship Troopers
144. The Shawshank Redemption
145. Drunken Master
146. The Good the Bad and the Ugly
147. The Exorcist
148. Don't look now
149. Braindead
150. The City of Lost Children.
151. The Abyss
152. Annie Hall

153. Almost Famous
154. Secretary
155. High Fidelity

156. Paris Is Burning
157. Pitch Black
158. The Graduate
158. But I'm a Cheerleader
159. Better than Chocolate
160. Kissing Jessica Stein