Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Saturday away

We spent the strangest day in Pocatello today. The mini-van had to have some recall work done, and there is, of course, no KIA dealership in Twin Falls. So... off to Pocatello we go. We've actually been putting this off for awhile because gas prices have been so high.  A trip to Poky at $4.09/gallon adds up to something like $50. At $1.45 it's more like $18. Quite the difference.

Anyway, we decided we'd take the family and make a day of it. The dealership estimated it would take 3 or 4 hours, so we thought we'd hang out at the mall, get a bite to eat, see a movie, and be done. It turns out that that is exactly what we did, but we didn't count on the temperature being in the teens (and well below that with the wind chill) with drifting snow. With no car (it's in the shop, recall), we're afoot with a two year old and a four year old (in a stroller really), not to mention the 7, 10, and 12 year olds. Who knew a four-wheel drive stroller would actually be a good idea on a day like today. The walk from Wal-Mart to the theaters, which would be a 1-minute drive, literally, took a good 15 minutes and we were walking directly into a biting wind. The babies were howling by the time we got 100 feet. Needless to say, they were fit to be tied by the time we reached the theater. 

On the bright side, however, the movie we saw was pretty good. I didn't have high hopes for Bolt, but it wasn't half bad. The 3D glasses were actually comfortable and the 3D effect was quite good. The movie was clever, funny, and had a reasonably entertaining story. I even forgot, from time to time, that John Travolta was giving the main character his voice. 

Mark Walton, who has done some voice work in a couple of other animated films (Chicken Little and Home on the Range), gave voice to the hamster character. Funny stuff. I hadn't paid attention to him before, but he's a Utah boy, apparently. Born in Salt Lake, schooled at USU, which is a whisker better than being a zoobie. Well done, Mark.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Finals Week

What are you doing this week?

I have a tradition of sorts that I indulge in during finals week. While I’m sitting there, as students labor over the instrument of paper torture that I’ve devised for them, I read. I don’t read just anything, though. I read the headiest, densest, most theoretical stuff I can find that I think will inform my teaching for the upcoming term. Actually, that’s only partly true. I do read theoretical stuff (and really enjoy it), but I also read selections from texts that I am or may be using in the future term. I read ideas from other instructors teaching in the same discipline in similar ways (or in radically different ways, occasionally) to shake up my teaching and to try to stay fresh. I read across genres and try to bring together seemingly disparate things, looking for the amazing and exciting convergences that make our discipline so much fun.

I’ve also been working, this week, on the ways in which technology works in the teaching (and learning) of writing. It’s not a new field, by any stretch, but it is continually reinventing itself. Take, for example, Michael Wesh’s fascinating work on the anthropology of YouTube. That may not look like writing studies at first blush, but the literacy implications make it a very useful “way in” to what computers and the web are doing to us as readers and writers.

I know students are reading (cramming?) for exams. I know my colleagues are reading papers and exams (and I’m reading those, too, of course). What are you reading? What is engaging your attention these days?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Another tag from Peetie

8 favorite TV Shows (in no particular order because my tastes and preferences change)
1. ER
2. M*A*S*H
3. LIFE (I like it too, Peetie)
4. Lost (when it's not in the 18 months between seasons)
5. Music and the Spoken Word (which looks fabulous in HD)
6. Spongebob 
7. Hogan's Heroes
8. Wings 

8 things I did yesterday
1. washed dishes
2. a little Christmas shopping with the little kids
3. graded 999 essays (it felt like)
4. tried to clip the dog's nails (I have the scratches to prove it)
5. worked on my talk for Sunday
6. found out my talk for Sunday has been preempted by a bishopric change in that ward
7. washed dishes again (am I not a good husband?)
8. pulled out a hang nail which made it MUCH worse

8 favorite restaurants
1. Cheesecake Factory
2. P.F. Chang's (try the lettuce wraps and the mongolian beef!)
3. Peking (say it with me, now, Mark - "General Tso's Chicken")
4. La Fiesta (on Blue Lakes in Twin - try the shrimp fajitas)
5. anyplace that doesn't have a "play land"
6. see #5
7. see #6
8. see #7

8 things on my wish list
1. Nikon D90 (or D300 or D700 or, for the very wealthy and generous among my readers, the D3)
2. The Jack Ryan movies on Blu-ray
3. a bigger house (for Keri's sake)
4. a king-size bed (I stole this one from Peetie, too, but it's a good one!)
5. more patience with my kids
6. a boat (just kidding-- what would I do with a boat unless I also had an SUV and a place to park both)
7. a trip away with Keri
8. a trip to someplace fun with the kids (Disney or national park or Grandma's house-- any of the above will do)

Tag, you're it
1. Clint Carter
2. Mandi Womack
3. Kayla Ehnat
4. Mark Brown

Peetie's tag

Peetie tagged me (indirectly, I guess-- I saw this on her blog). Go to your pictures folder. Post the third picture in the third folder.

I cheated though, because the third picture in the third folder was of the RSJHS 7th Grade Girlds Basketball team. None of you care to see that, I wager.

Jake put this together for a school project about his family. It even shows Lilly, the pill dog.
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"Grading Avoidance"

One of my former posts-- actually a draft of a post that I never posted because my blog (not this one) had a hiccup and my draft dissappeared-- was a very funny, very insightful commentary on the kinds of things that teachers to do avoid grading. I really doubt that I can pull off a repeat performance, but I did notice today that a number of my colleagues and friends are posting little bloggy things which mention the fact that papers await. And they do-- they wait, patiently but insistently. 

Instead of grading, I:
  • got a haircut,
  • cleaned my office,
  • spent 15 minutes lamenting college politics and policy changes with colleagues,
  • organized "collected works" folders for students whose OA papers received NP (not proficient) marks from readers,
  • composed a informational document about NULC (the National Undergraduate Literature Conference) to recruit students' literary criticism and creative works for said conference,
  • read 15-20 posts on WPA-L about wierd things that happen on campuses (including teeth mailings and a persistent spitter).
Before I get to the grading I plan to:
  • write an overdue letter of recommendation for a student,
  • review and make suggestions on a "statement of purpose" for another student,
  • write a final exam for my 101 students,
  • get a bite to eat (finally).
In fact, I think I'll go eat now. 

What are you doing to avoid work today?