Thursday, March 31, 2005

creep, crawl, climb

Spring is creeping in. I like Spring because I can see, surprise surprise, progress.

Sam had a near-perfect day yesterday. The sun shone, which meant a good long sunbathe on the patio. The mailman delievered a package, so Sam could indulge in a good, long bark. Then the Precocious Neighbor Child came by, and scratched his ears for a good half hour. The evening stayed warm, which meant open windows, which meant lying beneath them at the perfect angle to catch each scent and noise until his nose and ears quivered with joy.

Today it is grey and chilly, so he's napping indoors on the sofa.

Comments from #3 on Chapters One and Two arrived today and my advisor (may he live forever) says that he's put Chapter one with his comments in the mail. I have about a month until the microfilm needed for Chapter Three arrives, so I should be revising. Well, that's theory, anyway.

Words Written: not yet
Lessons Graded: twelve

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

deep cleansing breath

Sory about yesterday's angry post, everyone. I stumbled across a web site (a really terrific one, by the way) that it turns out a lot of my students have been using. I don't mind that they use it, I mind when they copy it and submit the site's words as their own work. Hence the large number of Fs yesterday. The juxtaposition of their cheating with my own struggle to get the diss done so that I can go on teaching wasn't a plesant one.

Then of course I did my blogroll and read about the foolish girl whose name is now well-known for trying to get someone to write her paper. (Is this story real, or yet another case of the Internet pulling our collective leg?)

Now I'm calmer. One of my favorite historians has just come out with a new book. Most of his works have the kind of titles and covers that are best read in private, as they tend to attract odd stares. Luckily this one has a calmer title and a nice picture of a house on the front. Maybe he's mellowing with age.

Words Written: zero
Lessons Graded: fifteen

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

to the plagarists

Four years of undergrad tuition: $25, 000 times 4
Four years of classwork tuition: $18, 000 x 4
several years beyond that while I write: $800+ per semester

That's not figuring what I spend on books, photocopies, diet coke, etc.

In my entire academic career, I have lied exactly once: I fudged a footnote on my undergraduate honors thesis, but I corrected it before the thesis went to the archives.

I read all of my own books and write my own papers, however silly the assignment. I've fought to bring excellence to the classroom. I assign books that are worthwhile, the best on the topic. I burn midnight oil to give students the most helpful advice I can. Though I may grade 50 or more lessons in a day, I read each with care and concern.

You say you're busy? I worked my way through college and my way through grad school. I passed or failed on my own merits. In short, I have worked my ass off to earn the titles needed to teach undergraduates, and incurred massive debt in the process.

Write your own damn papers.

Words Written: one hundred and eighty-six
Lessons Graded: irrelevant - I've failed far too many for plagarism today

Monday, March 28, 2005

burst into sunshine

The meeting with #3 was followed by a meeting with my advisor (may his good health and prosperity endure.) As usual, he asked the right questons in answer to my questions, and had some terrific follow-up ideas to what #3 had said. Unfortunately, this was followed by very bad news about two of my (otherwise unrelated) academic siblings. ("Sibling" is the unofficial name applied to people who share an advisor.) The two of us shared a moment of shock and sadness...

after which, I had to do a presentation on the new! and improved! Chapter One to a group of graduate students and faculty. You remember One - the chapter that I really didn't have anywhere near where I wanted it when it was submitted. I haven't discussed my dissertation with so many faculty all at once since qualifying exams; three-fourths of my committee was in attendence.

The meeting showed every sign of beginning poorly, with a difficult word-choice question from #4. Before I'd had time to say anything at all, another student leaped in with a truly brilliant answer... and that's pretty much how the whole meeting ran. Oh, I did some talking, clarified a few points, that sort of thing, but mostly I took notes and listened to the group refine and structure the very general and unformed ideas I'd thrown out. I'd been prepared for the grilling of my life, followed by several choice statements about my inability and unsuitability for the profession (not all academics think that trying to write like a teacher is a worthy goal.) Instead, my advisor (upon whom may the sun shine and the birds sing) called a halt to discussion twenty minutes after the meeting was scheduled to end. Back in his office, he conferred the ultimate compliment: my talk went "very very" well.

I haven't felt this confident in a "very very" long time.

Words Written: two hundred and four (#4 was right)
Lessons Graded: fifty-one (ouch! ouch! ouch!)
Books on Floor: one

Saturday, March 26, 2005

a koala-free lunch

Well, #3 and I finally met. No Australian animals, tree-dwelling or otherwise, were present.

Note that I make no mention of lunch, as we didn't have that, either.

Despite having asked to meet for lunch, #3 was very slow to reply to my e-mails about little details, such as the time and place. Since I needed to be on campus anyway, on Thurday night I set up a meeting with my advisor (may he live forever.) Naturally #3 e-mailed me on Friday morning to ask for a meeting at the same time.

(sigh) We did meet. We actually had a pleasant and helpful conversation about the overall argument and philosophy of the diss. #3 had read the new! and improved! Chapter One and we discussed it a little, too. I took lots of notes and came up with some good ideas.

Ready for the kicker? #3 still hasn't read chapter Two. You remember Chapter Two - the one that I sent out in December. #3 didn't realize I wanted comments on it, too.

The day did get better. More on that, later.

Words Written: zero
Lessons Graded: two

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

wake me up (before you Go-Go)

In case you haven't noticed by now, I am a firm believer in the "live and let live" theory. What is right for me may not be right for you. What to me is a normal situation may be odd for you. My ideals are not your ideals. My faith is not your faith. To borrow a line from Douglas Adams, why can't people be nice to each other for a change?

For many years I woke up to NPR. I was news junkie. I watched all presidential debates. I read every page of the Starr report. I followed P.J. O'Rourke. I may be a die-hard liberal, but I was a gosh-darned informed liberal. I was prepared to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. I knew and understood (and sometimes agreed) with the Right. I was a firm believer in everyone's good intentions.


It's harder now.

Let's take the Republican Party at its word. They believe in private property, private privacy and keeping government out of our lives. Great - unless it's the Patriot Act and a list of all the books I've purchased in the last five years. Unless it's getting my ob/gyn records and removing my trust in my doctor, just in case I've been raped and not reported it. Unless I happen to be in a relationship with another woman, we hold property in common and want to make sure that the other inherits.

The news today included the story that the Indiana legislature has approved a gay marriage ban. We already have such a law, but this would be an amendment to the state constitution. As I understand it (from chatting with my neighbors, who love it) the act not only bans marriage and health care benefits, but inheritance, custody, etc. Pendng approval from the governor (as if that's in doubt) and a statewide ballot initiative (hardly in doubt) this is law. Big time law.

Privacy? property? end to big government?

I'll say it one more time, so that the neighbors can hear: my body, my choice. My property, my choice. My family, my choice.

You can legislate morality, but the 1950s were followed by the 1960s. Is that really what you want?

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

I can see clearly now

A while back my left contact lens ripped. This is a catastrophe; that lens has to be special ordered and takes something like three weeks to arrive. What with one thing and another, chapters to write and dogs to bathe, I was slow to make an apointment, and have relied upon my glasses for months.

My new lenses arrived today, and they're terrific. I have peripheral vision again!

Common themes are, well, common among Bloggers, even among folks living in different states or countries. We all watch/read/listen to the same news etc. Nonetheless, I was pretty amused to discover that Editor B is wearing contacts today and shares my delight in peripheral vision.

Words Written: zero
Lessons Graded: two

Monday, March 21, 2005

no easy choices

Following up on a common blogging theme these days (Swankette is particulary good on this topic) the latest news reminds me why I have a Living Will. It's a very specific Living Will, with some ammendments that make it a document with which I am very comfortable.

I know that these added bits might make some of my family uncomfortable, but they matter deeply to me. If for any reason someone in my family tries to get the government involved, please show them this entry and tell them that I outlined what I wanted because it is what I wanted.

A BBC commentator claimed today that the husband wants life support turned off because he wants the multi-million dollar settlement won againist the doctors. You know, that's a great argument, except for one thing; the settlement no longer exists. Some of it went to her health care, but most has been spent on legal bills. (We can rant about legal fees later.) Try again.

I'm usually an altruist. I want to believe that the husband and the parents have stuck it out for this long because they are genuine and sincere in their beliefs. After all, the husband got a nursing degree so that he could care for his wife and understand what the doctors said. The parents have poured everything they have into visits and keeping the legal fight alive.

Yet I can't help returning to the feeling that this is an example of a rocky in-law situation carried to a very public conclusion.

Speaking of which, since when are the Republicans interested in undermining States' Rights? in getting the big Federal Government involved in our personal lives and freedoms? Since when do the Democrats defend States' Rights?

This isn't about the life or death of one woman. This is about politics and sound bites and people who cannot bear to be told that they are wrong. Bless the senator (from TN?) who announced that this story shows all Americans that whatever our age or health, we all need a Living Will.

Words Written: zero
Lessons Graded: four

Sunday, March 20, 2005


Latest dissertation dream: J.M. Barry has joined my committee.

I've been rereading the monographs upon which I've tried to model the diss. This is mostly fun, as they're books I love, but yet another round of taking notes on these books oes lead me to worry that I've taken these notes before.

Words Written: zero
Lessons Graded: thirty-nine

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

of baths and sleep

Sam is clean. He's not happy about it, but he's clean. Why is it that his loose fur doesn't come off in a brush, but then fills the bathtub? He was still damp at walk time and I worried he'd catch a chill, so in addition to the indignity of being clean, he's now pouting.

No, I don't own a hair dryer, and I don't think Sam would have waited around for me to blow-dry every inch of his fur.

Is anyone else having a hard time getting blogger comments to work? Wait, if you are, then you can't leave a comment to tell me. Oops.

Hardly surprising that after the last push to get the chapter in, I've been sleeping a lot. I sat down at 5:30 last night, intending just to rest my eyes, and woke up again at 9, then went to bed and slept until morning. I haven't dreamed about #3 and the koalas for a while though, which I take as a good sign.

Words Written: zero
Lessons Graded: thirty-one

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

acts of contortion

I took the morning's reading to the local library. My favorite seat (by the window, but not too close, so as to escape the draft) happens to overlook the help desk. Usually the librarians are enganed in library activities: helping people find books, looking topics up on the computers, coding new books into the system.

This morning, four librarians were standing in a little clutch, looking at the front cover of a paperback book. Suddenly, one of them hoisted another over his shoulder. The remaining two looked at them, then at the book again.

Turned out that the book in question has a picture on the cover of a tall and ruggedly good looking man, rescuing a damsel from some sort of distress by carrying her over his shoulder. Two of the librarians insisted that the angle at which the artist portrayed the damsel and the man's hand was physically impossible and demonstrated it. I don't think they realized that I was watching.

Weep for Sam - he is about to undergo that great indignity, a bath.

Words Written: zero
Lessons Graded: nineteen

Monday, March 14, 2005

Five Questions

Five questions for Greg:

1) You've just dropped a dozen eggs on the floor, splattering the remnants everywhere. An impressionable young child is in the room. What are the first words out of your mouth?

2) What three songs did you last hear on the radio?

3) What did you have for supper last night, including beverage and dessert?

4) What's the title of the last book you read voluntarily? Why did you read it?

5) How did you select the title and topic of your blog?

Words Written: a bit of freelance work
Lessons Graded: forty-seven
Books on Floor: two

Saturday, March 12, 2005

of dogs and snow

Sam is outside, barking ferociously at some menace I cannot detect. He's generally a pretty quiet fellow, so this threat must be something more than a passing feline or car driving by.

Yesterday it snowed off and on most of the day, snowflakes the size of quarters, blowing about in a driving wind. Driving home from the grocery store, I stopped for a a golden retriever who was crossing the street. I love to watch big, gallumping dogs walk, but this one was walking laboriously. The wind was fierce, and the dog swerved and veered around without any particular direction in mind. Even with cars coming in both directions, the dog continued to wander in the middle of the street for almost a minute.

I had a leash in the car, so I pulled over and got out. A repairman did the same, since he happened to have handful of dog biscuits with him. For all that the collarless dog moved laboriously, it moved quickly enough that we never got close enough to offer biscuits or offer shelter from the wind and snow. Eventually the dog disappeared into a shed and we gave up, hoping that this was home.

I love my dog very much - he really is endlessly loyal and forgiving, and simply having Sam around is a deep comfort. I do hope that yesterday's dog really did have a warm home, and that his return included towels and biscuits.

Words Written: zero
Lessons Graded: that's next

Friday, March 11, 2005


Chapter got in at 4 on the dot. It's not what I'd hoped for, but it's in. Now to steel myself for the feedback.

I'm one of those teachers who, in additint o correcting mistakes, also litters student assignments with smiley faces and wry asides. Students think it's all for them, and I suppose in a sense it is, but it's also because every now and again I pour days and days (and sleepless nights) into a chapter and kow that my committee figures I'm old enough to take criticism without smiley faces or gold stars mixed in.

You can criticize almost anything about me, and I can take it without flinching, but I'm painfully aware that my writing isn't all that I could wish.

Having cleared the chapter and its associated books from my desk, now it's back to clearing the grading pile and (I hope) another freelance project.

Enough of my self-obsessed neurosis, you're all tired of reading about this topic.

Words Written: zero
Lessons Graded: zero
Books on Floor: zero

Thursday, March 10, 2005

onward and upward

"I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by."
-Douglas Adams

I didn't get the chapter in by 8 AM, but I will have it in by 4:00. (sigh) Then I am going to take a verylong nap.

Words Written: several thousand
Lessons Graded: none
Books on Floor: none - they're all piled on my desk

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Any chance it could be due at 10?

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...

Joe - sorry to pester you again! A reward is headed your way.

Rachel - you were exactly right about how to handle #4. To you I dedicate my last Girl Scout thin mint.

Words Written: come on, come on, just a few more hours...
Lessons Graded: zero, and they're not happy
Books on Floor: twenty (getting flustered)

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

five questions answered

John at CatholicPackerFan interviewed me for the "Five Question Interview" meme. (Lots of memes circulating these days.)

1. You are a Hoosier blogger, what is your favorite Indiana landmark or place? Why?

Landmark: probably the Soldiers' and Sailors' Memorial in downtown Indianapolis.
Place: I really enjoy visiting downtown Nashville, particularly in the fall.

2. Respond to the age old historical agrument: 'Does the time in history make or break the person/leader, or does the person/leader make or break the times in history?'


Some people are very good at handling crisis and would be good leaders in any situation. Franklin Roosevelt is an easy example of this.

Other people learn when the times or the crisis are thrust upon them; I think these folks often have terrific support from their families in making this transition. Though I don't agree with all that he has done, I think the current president is an excellent example of someone who, when presented with a crisis, has learned to consult with others to cope with the times; had he been president in another era, say the mess of the 1850s, I don't know if he would have dealt as well.

The 1840s and 1850s were not easy times to be president.

3. You enjoy an interest in history, what are your 5 favorite historical books or texts?

You asked for "favorite" rather than best, so here they are:

A MidWife's Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based Upon Her Diary, 1785-1812 by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich - so you think the lives of ordinary people boring? Think again!
Masquerade: The Life and Times of Deborah Sampson, Continental Soldier by Alfred Young - an extraordinary woman in her own right, made mroe so by the time in which she lived
Slaves in the Family by Edward Ball - Ball is from a Southern family, and traces his ancestors back to plantation days. he then traces slave families owned by his and determines that at least some of them are cousins of his.
Theodore Rex by Edmund Morris - it's massive and thick, but well written and loads of fun
Nerd alert! Notable American Women eds. James, James and Boyer - this is a four volume collection of short biographies of, as the title suggests, interesting American women. Some of them are women you've heard of, some are relatively obscure. This is great reading in the same way that an encyclopedia can be great reading; you start by looking up on item and end up reading about a dozen others. I'm also partial to this set because it's very much of its time. The first three volumes drew upon lists composed in the 1960s when our ideas and ideals about women were shifting, and the choices and writing reflect these shifts. Probably some people find this annoying, but the obvious shifts throughout endear the books to me that much more.

4. What are your 5 favorite novels or fictional works?

I reread Pride and Prejudice at least twice a year, so I suppose that makes it my favorite novel. Each time I take away something new.

I don't really have favorite books so much as favorite authors. I'm very fond of the Narnia books and the Harry Potter series. They're adventure stories, with plenty to teach me about bravery in the face of adversity and the many different kinds of love. Ellis Peters' Brother Cadfael mysteries are terrific, as are the works of Robertson Davies. I first had to read his Fifth Business for high school English and liked it so much that I read the rest of the trilogy right away.

5. You are a dog owner, how did you come to own your dog?

Sam is a shelter adoptee and thus a recycled dog. When I walked into the "dog area" there were twenty or thirty dogs, all of them barking and yapping with excitement. Sam simply stood there, looking at me carefully. When I walked up to his pen, Sam wagged his tail and looked happy to see me, but still didn't jump or cause a commotion. I think I adopted him and he me in that moment, before we'd even taken a walk together.

All right, there's mine. We need to complete the Indiana bloggers cycle on this one. Greg and "Rob this means you. Contact Hugh or me for questions - not John, he's already had his turn. Any and all other takers welcome!

Words Written: working as fast as I can
Lessons Graded: five
Books on Floor: three

Monday, March 07, 2005

four days and counting

It has come to my attention that for a second week in a row, this blog recieved no visits between 4:00 AM and 4:59 AM. I am delighted to learn that all of you, whatever your time zones, are asleep, working, or otherwise occupied constructively at that hour.

Sent my advisor (may he live forever) the first two pages of Chapter One - the one that's due in less than three days. His reply includes the phrase "syntactical nightmare" but does conclude with the phrase "good luck" and his confidence.


Words Written: not enough
Lessons Graded: seventeen
Books on Floor: five

Saturday, March 05, 2005

"Won't Give In" (c/o the Finn Bros)

#4 hates Chapter Two. "It's better than Chaper One" which is a classic example of damning with faint praise.

So I've spent the day revising while annoyed which has, much as I hate to say it, resulted in trimming out lots of dross and fluff.

Words Written: five hundred and ninety-six
Lessons Graded: four
Books on Floor: five
Books thrown across the room: seven

Friday, March 04, 2005

yet another meme

Drew says that you can't count states if you're only driven through them. Sorry, Drew, but the two days spent driving across Nebraska means that it counts, even if I visited zero tourist locations or historic landmarks during that time. (Wait, I take it back; there was a buffalo sculpture made out of recycled barbed wire at one of the rest areas.)

bold the states you've been to, underline the states you've lived in and italicize the state you're in now...

Alabama / Alaska / Arizona / Arkansas / California / Colorado / Connecticut / Delaware / Florida / Georgia / Hawaii / Idaho / Illinois / Indiana / Iowa / Kansas / Kentucky / Louisiana / Maine / Maryland / Massachusetts / Michigan / Minnesota / Mississippi / Missouri / Montana / Nebraska / Nevada / New Hampshire / New Jersey / New Mexico / New York / North Carolina / North Dakota / Ohio / Oklahoma / Oregon / Pennsylvania / Rhode Island / South Carolina / South Dakota / Tennessee / Texas / Utah / Vermont / Virginia / Washington / West Virginia / Wisconsin / Wyoming / Washington D.C /

Go HERE to have a form generate the HTML for you.

Words Written: one hundred and four
Lessons Graded: zero
Books on Floor: floor covered in paper so it's hard to tell

Thursday, March 03, 2005

in threes?

I dreamed last night about my upcoming lunch with #3. We were eating lunch at the zoo, in front of the koalas. (Note: the local zoo is terrific, but has no koalas.)

#3 kept asking detailed questions about the influence of Eric Idle in my fourth chapter (which exists only in my head and has nothing to do with Mr. Idle.) I've had this dream before, though the koalas are new.

When working on my senior honors thesis, I had a reoccuring dream about green monsters jumping around a classroom. During qualifying exams, I frequently dreamed about Mamie Eisenhower. Of the three, I suppose having lunch at the zoo is probably the least alarming.

Words Written: zero in the computer, lots of random jotting on scraps of paper
Lessons Graded: twelve
Books on Floor: nine (really, I'm trying to write!)

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

ten things meme

(catches blogging ball thrown by Greg)

"Ten (OK, Eight) Things I've Done That You Probably Haven't Done"

1) Named a dog after an opera star
2) Read the entire primary documents collection for the Shaker village of North Union, Ohio.
3) Survived an entire Indiana summer without air conditioning
4) Spent more than $50 on photocopies at once, all in dimes
5) Fed milk to baby gerbils with an eyedropper
6) Graded an exam completed in eyeliner pencil (the student ran out of pens)
7) My first legal drink was purchased for me by a priest
8) Written a research paper for which I had to read a hundred or so romance novels

Well, that's eight, at least.

(throws ball back into play)

Words Written: zero (sigh)
Lessons Graded: twenty
Books on Floor: seven

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

theme of the month

February is Black History Month. March is Woman's History Month. I didn't do any special posts on Black History nor will I blog specially about Women's History this month because I am of the obnoxious opinion that both topics are something we should think about every day, not just 28 (29) or 31 days out of the year.

What's really exciting about this obnoxious opinion of mine is that it's now possible. Students who land in my classes may not know how to use the apostrophe correctly, but nearly all of them are at least generally familiar with some important men and women of all colors. I know that this wasn't true 10-15 years ago.

It's my job to broaden what students know. Many have at least heard of Sojouner Truth and her work on the lecture circuit. Few know that she was born a slave in New York, successfully sued to recover a son who had been sold illegally, and lived for a time as the cook for a religious community with some unusual ideas and practices. This means that she's great as an example of several critical trends, movements and changes of teh period, as well as being a woman worthy of attention.

OK, OK, so I did sort of combine the two themes for today's post, but Truth is someone I'd post about in May or Ocrtober, just because she was very cool.

Words Written: zero
Lessons Graded: zero - not good
Books on Floor: one