Friday, December 31, 2004

all right, all right

As per John's request that his Indiana blog pals contribute, here's my Death Meme. (Greg! You're next!)

Three names you go by:
Professor Lemming
Your Imperial Highness (RIP, Sir Fred)

Three screennames you have:
Three wha?

Three things you like about yourself:
I have an excellent memory.
I’m a good, if long-winded, storyteller.
I’m compassionate.

Three parts of your heritage:
Illiterate and outspoken peasants.

Three things that scare you:
Large crowds
Cruelty, particularly toward children

Three of your everyday essentials:
Warm socks

Three things you are wearing right now:
Warm socks (red)
Arm splint
Contact lenses

Three things you want to try in the next twelve months:
Eating more vegetables
Reading more fiction
Getting more sleep

I must be getting older if these are the first three activities that come to mind... Obviously I'd like to get the diss done, too.

Three things you want in a relationship (love is a given):
Intelligence (must read books, too!)
Strong religious belief

Patience would also be a big plus, as would a love of music!

Three things you just can't do:
Remember street names
Navigate I-465
Geometry (hmm… any connection between these 3, do you think?)

Three things you want to do really badly right now:
Eat a big breakfast – mushrooms, eggs, toast, jam, sausage and bacon, hash browns, you get the idea – prepared by someone else.
Find out what Sam is dreaming about – his tail is wagging, he’s half-barking, but he’s sound asleep.
Knock off ten pages of my next chapter.

Three careers you're considering:
Interpreter at a living museum such as Old Sturbridge Village
Eccentric millionaire – is anyone hiring?
I don’t think I’m fit for any profession other than what I do right now…

Three places you want to go on vacation:
(I’m assuming that this means “places I’ve never been but would very much like to visit.”)
Northern Scotland
the Oregon Trail

Three kids names:

Not that I would ever actually saddle a child with one of these, but I do think they sound and look fantastic.

Three things you want to do before you die:
Read more books
Tell the ones I love how much I love them
Receive Last Rites

Words Written: zero
Lessons Graded: zero

Thursday, December 30, 2004

the scale of the devastation

Others CPF and TRP in particular) have blogged powerfully about the devastation left in the wake of the 9.0 earthquake.

I'm staggered by the scale of the loss of life. 30, 000 is about the size of a state university. 50, 000 is (I think) the enrollment of OSU, one of the largest in the country. The last I'd heard, the tally stood at something like 67, 000 dead, which is larger than the population of some state capitals.

This string of analogies isn't perfect - the devastation is spread across several countries - but still over-whelming.

Words Written: zero
Lessons Graded: six

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

sad news

You've probably heard this news already, but Jerry Orbach, star of stage, screen and television, has died at age sixty-nine, due to prostate cancer.

I've logged a great many hours watching this man perform, and written countless papers (even graded a few) while listening to him sing. Though Dick Wolf seems to pretty much dominate the few hours of A & E not already given to Bill Curtis, we did need another Law & Order, if only so that I could spend more time with Jerry-Lennie.

RIP, Mr. Orbach. Sixty-nine seems far too young for us to lose you.

Words Written: zero
Lessons Graded: zero

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

four calling birds

I hope everyone had a lovely holiday weekend, short though it was. Best wishes to all who are still digging out from under the snow, and a shout out to Washington for finally having recounted the ballots often enough to have new governor.

On Christmas Eve, I read a long newpaper article about the "new old-fashioned" tradition among many Jewish families to go out to a Chinese restaurant for Christmas. This sounds like an excellent tradition; I'd choose hot & sour soup over turkey any day. Maybe if the turkey were stir-fried in a spicy garlic sauce, that does sound like a nice alternative...

I'm trying very hard to relax during my vacation. Several family members gave me movies (all of them English) or mysteries (all of them set near the Atlantic Ocean) for Christmas. I tried to watch a really interesting film yesterday afternoon, and instead ended up taking a four hour nap. I notice that while some families do exchange Scotch or nice wine for Christmas, no one ever gifts sleeping pills.

Words Written: zero
Lessons Graded: two

Friday, December 24, 2004

to all, and to all

Merry Christmas to all.

Wishing you and yours warmth, love, and safe travel over this weekend.

Words Written: zero
Lessons Graded: zero


Wednesday, December 22, 2004

now it's time to say good-bye

Cue the Cambridge Singers and open the Handel score to the appropriate page. Ready?

"Hallelujah! Hallelujah!"

I am done. Done done done, do you hear?

Harken unto me as I shout from the rooftop (er, backyard patio) and sing to me ye angels (or yapping dog next door.) Final grade are IN and I am DONE.

Well, OK, there's that freelance work that was due three weeks ago, and the honest to gosh professional book review that's due in two weeks. That's different. Way way different. Done!

Where's Mariah when I need her?Heck, I'd settle for Liza M.

Words Written: zero
Lessons Graded: DONE DONE DONE!!!!

first snowstorm of the year

There's inches and inches of snow on the ground. I-465 is (or so says the radio) awash in accidents. Yet the school buses are running and I've already seen two dog walkers. Go Hoosiers!

Words Written: zero
Lessons Graded: eleven left!

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

challenge, joy and sorrow

My Friday afternoon addiction is the "week in review" quiz put up on-line by The Week Magazine. Each Friday a ten question quiz appears, and I get to find out just how conversant I am with current events. The current offering is a slightly longer Year In Review quiz and great fun... also reminds me that I really should keep up with the news!

The publication date for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince has been announced: July 16, 2005. To say that I'm REALLY excited would be an understatement. I've been a fan of the series since the first book quietly appeared (apparated!) in bookstores - back when Scholastic thought it would be a small-seller book and didn't bother with any publicity. (gales of laughter) Anyway, don't expect a post from me on the 15th or 16th, except perhaps "Oh, this is fantastic!" and a yawn or six.

Occasionally students will ask me how I would prefer to be addressed. (Professor Lemming) If the student is above a certain age - say 60 - and seems to have a sense of fun, I'll add the joke, "but I've always liked the sound of 'Your Royal Highness.'" Fred (68 years young) took me up on it - all of his e-mails began with the phrase "Your Imperial Highness" and he signed the messages "your humble servant Sir Frederick of Hoosier." Naturally he was an A student and just as funny in class. An e-mail came this morning from Fred's daughter, to say that he had died unexpectedly this weekend. RIP, Sir Fred.

Words Written: zero
Lessons Graded: more stragglers than anticpiated

Monday, December 20, 2004

Hand Over the Ben & Jerry's RIGHT NOW

OK, I take it back. I love almost all Christmas Carols, hymns and satirical pieces, but I do not like "Grown-up Christmas List" at all. This morning I heard versions of this song performed by Amy Grant, Barbra Streisand and a duet that sounded like Pebo Bryson and Vanessa Williams, and all of them were ghastly. I understand the song's purpose and premise, but it's still awful.

I've been grading non-stop last night this morning, and can now look at the pile in terms of "what is left to do" rather than "what I have done" which is a terrific feeling. After I turn in my final grades on12/22, I get some time off, for which I am deeply grateful.

I say "non-stop" - Sam has decided that he needs to go outside about once every seventy minutes, Once he gets outside, Sam quickly realizes that it is REALLY COLD today and decides that he'd like to come back inside and warm up - naturally warming up is best done by lying down at my feet, which makes me cold all over again. An hour later he forgets this whole experience, and spends ten minutes telling me that he REALLY REALLY wants to go outside. I've even tried remonstrating with him - "Sam, for a dog who is at least 50% border collie, you're being awfully dim today." No go - it's imperative that he go outside, then foolish that he did so.

Maybe that's where he's hidden my Christmas presents.

Words Written: zero
Lessons Graded: twenty-six left to go (the stragglers are still handing things in)

Oh yes - an F for plagarizing turns out of be a zero after all. (grin)

Sunday, December 19, 2004

good timing to be late

I was late getting out the door to church this morning. The weather forecast last night called for "scattered snowstorns, with no more than a half inch acumulating on the ground." They neglected to mention the 30 m.p.h. winds that blew said half inch of snow all over the roads and through the air. This added still more time onto the drive and my lateness.

All was not lost! Today is the fourth and last Sunday of Advent, so the processional hymn was "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" and we sang (of course) all of the verses. I slipped in at the back door halfway through the last one. Whew!

Words Written: zero
Lessons Graded: do you think the dean would notice if I didn't hand in final grades?

Friday, December 17, 2004


I hesitate to admit this - but perhaps it will help others who need support...

ever since Indianapolis lost its 80s station, I have been bereft... until November, when the Christmas music season began. I love Christmas music - all of it. Be it "O Holy Night" or "I Want a Hippopotamus For Christmas" it doesn't matter, I love it. The closer we get to Christmas, the more likely I am to hear Springsteen warble "Santa Claus is Coming' to Town" five times a day and the happier I am.

Now, I love Bing singing "White Christmas" as much as the next shopper, and yearn to hear Judy's version of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" on the radio again. Yet today I realized a sad truth about my musical enjoyment - and alas for my liberal arts aducation - I want nothing more right now than to hear Mariah Carey. How did this happen? All that I ask from any of the FOUR available stations is thay they play Mariah (or one of her knocks offs) singing the oldie classics... I hide my head in shame.

Words Written: zero
Lessons Graded: forty and counting

Yes, Joe, I did tell a plagarist that F meant zero and she filed a formal complaint that her F should mean 59...
I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

a moment of culture

Despite living in Central Indiana for - er, too long - I've never visited the Eiteljorg Museum. In the interests of keeping my mood positive (tends to mean that I use a slightly more reasonable grading policy) I took the morning off to tour the Lewis & Clark exhibit.

The Eiteljorg is an art museum, so rather than seeing artifacts of the expedition, they have a terrific display of paintings done by a contemporary artist who spent several months driving, hiking and boating their path, and then painting what he saw. Thus some paintings were of woods, valleys and rivers, while others were of the St. Louis Arch, modern day bridges, etc. It was really neat, and just the right length - took me about forty minutes to walk through, reading all of the cards. Eiteljorg specializes in Native American art, so they had lots of information on both sides of the story. They also included lots of quotations from the expedition journals, early 19th century observations and the artists comments. I should have gone sooner, and am excited to visit when the next exhibit goes up.

Words Written: zero
Lessons Graded: There are sixty waiting for me. (sigh)

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Food of Choice

Dear Readers,

A query for all of you, however many that may be this week. If on a road trip, seeking lunch, what would be your ideal restaurant choice? Distance is not an object - all choices will be available, there's no problem with lines or making turns againist multiple lanes of traffic.

I am quite fond of Rallys, and noticed today that they have a sign up announcing that they are the official burger (presumably that means burger-makers) of the Indy Colts. The sign does not claim that the players or trainers or refs actually eat Rallyburgers or Big Bufords, but I tend to think too much about such things anyway.

Yours in a Starbucks-driven caffeine haze,

Words Written: zero
Lessons Graded: I love teaching - it's the grading that becomes a grind

Sunday, December 12, 2004


I've been buried under grading while trying to rest my elbow and hand. This means a lot of time in a splint that makes it hard to type or do anything else, but at least can be hidden under a sweater.

Though most of the time Dave Barry's writing is simply designed to make readers chuckle, every now and then he'll write something or make a point that reminds you he really does have a degree in English and a Pulitzer Prize. One of his introductions notes that as a "trained humor writer" he spends some of his time thinking about which words are funnier than other words. I'm not sure that "weasel" is as funny as he thinks it is, but concede that it is funnier than "hamster".

Today's sermon primarily examined John the Baptist and his place in Matthew's gospel. John being the kind of man he was, a certain amount of violent imagery was included. I noticed that most of the time we the congregation simply listened, but that every time the word "smite" or "smiting" came up, we all laughed, every time. I'd never thought of "smite" as funny word before.

One of my current favorite students (sssh!) is a sixty-something pastor. I'm not exactly sure why he's in my class, as he's never spoken a word, and I don't think he has an e-mail account. I'm partial to him not simply because his essays are clear and thoughtful (and have none of the extraneous prose and parenthesis that are so often found in my own work) but because his use of langauge is so different from the others in the class. Much of his vocabulary clearly comes from his time spent with the Bible (yes, he has used the word "smite") and some may also be explained by generational difference, but his homework is great reading.

Speaking of which (I hope!) the chapter is in the mail to #2, #3 and #4.

Words Written: zero
Lessons Graded: since my last post? (laughs) Quite a lot.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

I see dead people

Actually, the funny thing is that I don't really have a clear picture of what the people I live with so intimately really looked like. Sometimes I know that they were tall or old or "stronger than they look" but rarely does my generally over-active imagination try to come up with a visual portrait. I do have maps to suggest neighbors and my own suspicions about their emotions, but I'm usually pretty detached from my subjects as people.

I say "usually" because lately that hasn't been true. The sheer and stark reality of these big pieces of paper on my wall representing real people, people who lived, laughed, loved and died, only to be forgotten until I metaphorically dug them up and started writing about them, really hit me hard this week. The chapter is in really great shape right now, and I've sent it off to #2, #3 and #4. In all honesty, I'm suddenly more worried about what my subjects would say than what my readers will comment.

Family resemblence is something we hear about all the time, particularly during holiday celebrations - you look just like your sister, you and your mother both love hot mustard, etc. I have blue eyes, a recessive genetic trait, so it's safe to assume that most of my ancestors either had blue eyes or were married to other folks with blue eyes. Do I look anything like my great-great-great-great-great grandmothers? (I know the name of one of my great great great grandmothers, but that's as far back as I can go.) If I could time travel back to 1066, to pick a date at random, would I recognize my ancestors right away?

Words Written: one thousand, five hundred and ninety seven
Lessons Graded: fourteen

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

forgotten and remembered

It's surprisingly warm today for December, even by Indiana Standards. Greg's weather link said 62 degrees last time I checked. Driving rain accompanied the warm weather, along with a fierce wind - except when driving the northern chunk of I-65, I usually forget that the flatness of Indiana is actually prairie. Not today!

Today is the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. A few years ago, a Japanese student dropped by my office on this day. He pretended to have a question about the class, but really wanted to discuss what I thought of the attack, sixty years later, and of the Japanese people. He was surprised to find no mention of the anniversary in the paper or on the news that morning.

WW II was a huge turning point for my grandfather, aka the Pickle Monster. Thanks to the navy, he saw the world, and it changed his life (hence mine, too) for the better. I explained this to the Japanese student, who grinned, the first time I'd seen this all semester. "Mine, too - well, my great-grandfather."

Words Written: eight hundred and sixty three
Lessons Graded: twenty-two

Monday, December 06, 2004

Christmas Time is here, by golly

CatholicPackerFan has set up his tree for the year. I'm partial to blue spruce Christmas trees, but they seem to run $80-$100, at which point I begin to understand the urge to invest in a fake tree. The lights and various glowing displays are starting to go up in my neighborhood. I'm a big fan of lights to line the house, and maybe a small creche (pretend I put an accent on the "e") but the massive glowing sculptures seem to dominate. One house has a glowing bicycle, complete with moving rider. Sam has taken to growling at the flourescent snowmen.

My aunt the English teacher not only approved of my chapter's commas, but said the words every writer longs to hear: I couldn't put it down!

Words Written: that's next
Lessons Graded: thirty-six

Friday, December 03, 2004

so this is Christmas?

Remember this summer when you couldn't so much as walk into a gas station without stumbling over a massive pile of Bill Clinton memoirs?

There's not a single copy to be had at my local bookstore.

Words Written: nine hundred and three
Lessons Graded: nineteen

Thursday, December 02, 2004

poets and the gridiron

I hesitate to blog about poetry for much the same reason that hesitate to blog about sports: I don't know a great deal about either, and know that I have readers who know lots about both. I know enough to enjoy them, though I'd have to give poetry the edge over hockey.

A month or so ago, Mme Q challenged her readers to post a poem, any poem, preferably one we knew well. This was very thought provoking for me, as it led me to realize that while I've memorized lots of lines from poems, there are very few that I can recite in their entirety - and for me, at least, poetry just HAS to be read out loud.

Probably every teenaged girl of a certain intellectual bent goes through a Sylva Plath phase; certainly I did. A few years ago someone wrote a piece for the New Yorker which pointed this out and claimed that her poetry loses most of its power if read after the age of thirty or so. I confess that I don't pull out my complete Sylvia Plath as often as I do my T.S. Eliot, but I still find her lines and verses very, well, powerful in their images.

"I made a fire; being tired
Of the white fists of old
Letters and their death rattle
When I came too close to the wastebasket.
What did they know that I didn't?"

Morning Edition played an interview with Frieda Hughes, Plath's daughter, this morning. A complete edition of the Ariel poems is being issued, including twelve poems that Ted Hughes edited out when they were first published. Hughes Interview Hughes seems to have wonderful sense of peace about having a mother whom the world associates with angst and suicide.

Oh, and CFP -- I think IU should pick a football coach and keep him (are there are female football coaches) around for twenty years. If more effort were put into attracting fans through making the experience fun, more fans would attend, but as all efforts are now concentrated on bringing as much money as possible from the out-of-town spectators...

Words Written: four hundred and six, plus a lot of commas fixed
Lessons Graded: thirty-one

Wednesday, December 01, 2004


What do you suppose Charles Lindbergh thought about during his Atlantic crossing? I mean, apart from the obvious "wow!" and "gee, I hope I get home in one piece" and "this is history in the making" he had hours and hours alone in the plane to just think about, well, stuff.

Words Written: two hundred and twenty six
Lessons Graded: twenty-six (tidy, no?)