Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Deep Throat Revealed?

Vanity Fair claims to know the true identity of the inside source for Woodward and Bernstein known as Deep Throat.

I secretly hope that it's someone else. Something about having B & W reveal his name only after his death seemed right. This is just too close to the world of 24 hour news for me.

Yes, Topor, American Whig Party does discuss the No-Knowings, and at great length. Alas, I've had to put the book down. I'm trying to write - the deadline looms and, like Rob I feel a deep need to move on to the next stage of life.

Words Written: most of the way through comments made by my advisor (may he live forever) on a possible journal article submission. Having made said corrections, I'll mail it out.
Lessons Graded: eight graded, seven others failed for guess what...

Saturday, May 28, 2005

I just can't hide it

I'm so excited. My new book came - well, all right, it's used but new to me. Can't wait to read it.

Then I realized - I am so far into academe that I truly must be a grad student faculty wanna be. (Emphasis upon "wanna be" - how many PhDs have read this book with enthusiasm?) The name of this new and exciting book? The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party.

I am deeply lame. To borrow a line from John Quincy Adams, "I am an unsocial savage." I concede the point.

Excuse me - I have a book to read.

(throws green book gently against the sofa)

Friday, May 27, 2005

the numbers rise

As May winds down to a close, it's proved to be yet another month of hard news from Iraq. I have a lot of former students who are now in the military; presumably some of them are now serving there. Would I recognize a student's name if I heard it on the news?

Both sides thought the Civil War would end quickly, but realized after First Bull Run (sorry, I'm a Northerner and use the Northern names) that the war would be a longer effort. The news this morning mentioned soldeisr who had already served two tours in Iraq and were preparing to leave for a third. I don't think anyone anticipated such a situation after the first month of this war.

I'll allow the senate to approve John Bolton only on condition that he spend a week embedded with the troops, followed by a European vacation where Bolton meets with ordinary people and hears what the rest of the world thinks of America these days. Am I the only one to notie the report that fewer overseas tourists now visit?

Words Written: took last night and this morning off
Lessons Graded: six

Thursday, May 26, 2005

beloved dog

Poor Sam yesterday made his annual visit to the vet. Sitting in the waiting room, he adopted his "I am a good and well-trained dog but that is the only reason why I am sitting quietly when we both know what's coming" expression. The vet, delayed by a previous patient, made us wait longer than usual, and as time went by, the poor fellow began to shake, ever so slightly.

The shots and blood-taking Sam dislikes, but not as much as having to stand on the table and have every inch of him prodded. Luckily the vet is patient and quick. Sam's health is excellent but, quoth the vet, "at his age, Sam really should be eating senior dog food."

Nine - my beloved canine is nine. (sigh) The white increases around his muzzle and tummy... but as long as he can resist the kennel cough vaccination, I'll know he's still in true spirit.

Words Written: doing quite nicely, havn't yet thrown Green Book
Lessons Graded: seventeen

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

important pop culture update

You know that commercial for St Joseph asprin, with a man singing about the various parts of the heart and how they work?

I've just learned that the jingle is sung by Anson Williams, aka Potsie on Happy Days. "Pumps Your Blood" was written for an episode during season six in which Potsie wrote this little ditty to help him get through his anatomy final.

The moment I read this, I instantly remembered the episode - the professor thinks Potsie must have cheated, so Potsie sings the song for the whole class. It's probably twenty years since I last watched Happy Days!

We now return you to your regularly scheduled Wednesday.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Henry Clay Will You Please Go Now!

All right now, let's take this slowly, all you "all the way on one side or the other or else you're terrible" folks. The whole point of a compromise is that no one side gets everything they want. Everypone gives a little and takes a little (and your hearts break a little) and at the end of the day we are a stronger nation for it,

I'm far more concerned about the Surpreme Court than about judges in Texas. Texas gave us GWB and "No Child Left Behind" c/o the so-called Houston miracle, after all. Leave the fillibuster in place, for pete's sake and get back to something important.

Eight soldiers have died in the last 24 hours in Iraq, for example. This seems to me - oh, never mind.

Lemming the unwilling cynic...

Monday, May 23, 2005

here comes the rain again

Yet another dream about the slinky dress, the party and #2. I ran about 10, 000 errands this morning, and kept scanning for red lights so that I would have a few seconds to jot down the ideas popping into my head. (Of course I keep paper and pen within reach at all times, even if having a writing drought. I can be such a goof.)

In other words, this blog is serving its purpose and i'm actually writing again. This isn't the slow, tortured "come on, now, lemming, you can crank out a few hundred words before supper on point x" but the "holy blessed toledo, point x and person z are connected by event d! cool!" feeling.

Naturally this means that I had to spend the afternoon walking students through book reviews and proper use of there and their. Tonight, on the other hand, looks to be free as a bell. I do solemnly swear that I will not look at the tv listings to see what might be on American Experience tonight, lest I be distracted.

Words Written: nine 3'5 cards lined up by the computer
Lessons Graded: their = ownership, there = location

Saturday, May 21, 2005

dream a little (academic) dream

Dreamed last night that I was at a cocktail party. I didn't know anyone there, but I was having a lot of fun anyway (the food was very tasty, though I can't remember what was served and what I ate) and people were asking all sorts of great questions about my dissertation. I even had on the sort of very attractive yet slinky dress that means I must have lost that ten pounds I've been working on, hurrah!

Then I turned around and #2 (who is as nice as he or she is smart) was there. #2 said that they had been thinking of e-mailing me to suggest that I go with our back-up plan (we have a back-up plan for the project?! fantastic! what is it?) but after listening to me describe Roger's version of the diss structure, this was the idea I should use.

#2 also wanted to have the completed dissertation available by Monday.

I am a huge fan of the NPR show Says You! thanks to today's show, I now know that "scruze" means "to squeeze and crush." This is a great word, but I've no idea when I'll be able to use it.

Words Written: ready for a big weekend
Lessons Graded: sixteen

Friday, May 20, 2005

nice work if you can get it

"Wow, Lemming, you're a really great teacher. I mean, usually I hate it when graduate students teach because professors are the ones who really know the material and everyone knows that grad students are stupid and inexperienced..."

No. Professors are the ones with PhDs. PhD does not equate with "good teacher" or even with caring. I have more teaching experience than many PhDs and several more teaching awards. I'm just cheaper to employ because the university doesn't have to give me benefits or insurance. If you want to be taught by PhDs exclusively, go to Earlham or Wabash. Yes, tuition will be twice as much, but that's because you won't be taught by doctoral candidates. You get what you pay for.

Oh, and that's Professor Lemming to you.

Words Written: Green Book sucks
Lessons Graded: after all, I'm only a grad student so what do I know about the material?

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Go Home, Molly Pitcher

Oh, I do not believe this. What on earth? Repeat after me, America: it is not possible to return to our so-called mythical Golden Era (1947-1948) when men were men, women stayed home with the babies, the world admired America and things were perfect. (We also had polio and - oh, never mind.)

Congress is discussing, seriously, mind you, removing women from any position that might take them near the front lines in Iraq. Morning Edition's piece on this pointed out that there really isn't a front line in this war; one woman was killed while eating in the mess hall.

This on the heels of proposals to cut terms of enlistment from four years to fifteen months because it's getting to be difficult to recruit for the military, what with the war and all.

Oh yes, and even though the military is desperate for language experts, it's still essential that we seek out and remove all of the homosexuals in the armed services language programs. After all, what's more important, communication (and understanding an decoding etc.) with people who want to kill us or the culture wars?

Is Congress doing anything productive today? No. They're having yet another debate about judges and the right to fillibuster.

Several women took over cannons in battle during the Revolutionary War, and some were injured in combat. Ladies, on behalf of the deluded souls in Washington, I'm sorry.

Words Written: a few hundred
Lessons Graded: six

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

more on books

John seems obsessed with memes these days and tossing them to me. Nice to know that someone else struggles with writer's block on occasion.

Number of books owned
Ooo, wait now, this means I actually get to use my (pitiful even then) 8th grade math skills. Lesse, if there are about forty books on a shelf, times the number of shelves... (does some work on scratch paper) I've got about 550 books in my office. I have no idea how many are elsewhere, but I'd guess another 500.

Last Book Purchased
Princesses: The Six Daughters of George III by Flora Faser

Last book read
The Green Book and I'm working through Brown Book at the moment

Five books that Mean a Great Deal to Mel
One thing I did notice about the last book meme was that people tended to choose a few books they loved and then others simply because they were long and therefore time consuming and/or appropriate for kindling. Apart from the Bible, the other four books are all dissertation related, so I won't name them here. All of them, read at various points in my academic career, are works that made me sit up, revel in their pages, and want to "go thou and do likewise."

This from the lemming who hasn't had a thousand word day in quite a while. (sighs)

I'll toss this meme out there, for anyone who'd like it.

Words Written: that's next
Lessons Graded: seventeen

Monday, May 16, 2005

two more saints

While on a short break from rereading the less memorable portions of Green Book, I thumbed through a book of primary source documents collection in which women describe their experiences on the 19th century wagon trains. One woman remembered that when her grandmother saw an old man, with little of a house and wearing even less, the grandmother exclaimed, "It's the resurrection of St. Onuphrius!"

All right, Joe, Hugh and John, admit it. St. Onuphrius isn't exactly on your "Sainthood Top Ten" eh? All right, maybe he is and you're all far better read than I, but I loved the name, so looked him up.

St. Onuphrius was a fifth century hermit who lived in the deserts of Egypt for sixty years, clad only in his overgrown beard and long hair. For this reason, he is the patron saint of weavers. His feast day is June 12.

Meanwhile, one of today's saints is John of Nepomuk. He's partron of many things, most of them related to bridges, but is also "invoked against detraction." Huh? sez I, and off to the dictionary. "Detraction" is "the act of desparaging or detracting from the reputation or worth of a person."

Great word.

Words Written: the sermon is proving a great time to jot down ideas...
Lessons Graded: fifteen

Thursday, May 12, 2005

I don't get it

John (CatholicPackerFan) sent this meme my way:

List five things that people in your circle of friends or peer group are wild about, but you can't really understand the fuss over.

My "peer group" is pretty difficult to define at the moment, but here goes. (I hope I don't sound too petulant.)

1) shoes
I am the only woman I know who just doesn't get excited about shoes. I like having comfy footwear and all that, but shoe shopping and admiration are lost on me.

2)Pinot Grigio
Yes, yes, yes, Sideways is an amazing movie and I really should see it someday, but the film seems to have popularized the Pinots, red and white. I dislike the white so much that I have no interest in trying the red. Give me a glass of Chardonnay any day.

3) Ford vs. Chevrolet
I'm throughly baffled by the enthusiasm that truck owners bring to this topic, including the little icons of a boy who used to resemble Calvin (of Calvin & Hobbs) expressing his feelings toward one brand or the other in a very, er, physical and dramatic way. I'm all for brand loyalties, but the frenzy associated with this one seems very silly.

4) Brad Pitt
He's not unattractive, but neither does he make me swoon.

5) contemporary phrasing of the Lord's Prayer
Don't like it, not one little bit - one of my students, a priest in training, tried to convince me otherwise by explaining that the contemporary version is actually older than the traditional one. Apart from the beauty of language issue, the critical word for me is "trespass." Debts are not always a bad thing. I owe several large ones to various people in my life, but none of them qualify as sin. Trespass includes the choices made, knowing that they were wrong (sins of comission) as well as the choices made, unknowingly, that had greater adverse long-term consequences (sins of omission.)

(tosses meme to Swankette, Hugh, and Alison.)

(Throws meme with great force at Greg. Now that the semester is over, we the Indiana bloggers need you to come back.)

Words Written: a few hundred - also eliminated some verbs. Almost threw Green Bookacross the room, but luckily remembered that it is a library book and desisted
Lessons Graded: seven really good, solid, thoughtful book reviews

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

double standard

I've graded ten essays today. All ten of them contained large sections lifted from the Internet. In hopes of improving my mood, I picked up the newspaper and discovered the follow article.

(sorry no link for this - iit's an AP story that comes from a paper newspaper, dated May 6, 2005)

Headline:FDA rules reject gay men as sperm donors
NEW YORK - To the dismay of gay-rights activists, the Food and Drug Administration is about to implement new rules recommending that any man who has engaged in homosexual sex in the previous five years be barred from serving as an annonymous sperm donor.
The FDA has rejected calls to scrap the provision, insisting that gay men collectively pose a higher-than-average risk of carrying the AIDS virus. Critics accuse the FDA of stigmatizing all gay men rather than adopting a screening process that focuses on high-risk sexual behavior by any would be donor, gay or straight..
"Under these rules, a heterosexual man who had unprotected sex with HIV-positive prostitues would be OK as a donor one year later, but a gay man in a monogamous, safe-sex relationship is not OK unless he's been celibate for five years," said Leland Traiman, director of a clinic in Alameda, California that seeks gay spern donors."

I have a homework assignment for the folks at the FDA. They need to read Luise White's The Comforts of Home: Prostitution in Colonial Nairobi. HIV spread in Nairobi thanks to straight men having sex with infected women while working for extended period of time in the city. When they returned home to their wives, the virus came with them.

Words Written: added some verbs. Where is my microfilm?
Lessons Graded: (rolls eyes)

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

oh, all right then...

Spurred on by yesterday's discussion, I did get some writing done again this morning. Green Book will serve the purpose Roger predicted, so now I need to hang the ideas around it. I came up with a good opening paragraph in church last Sunday (hope the rector forgives me) which I'd scrawled on the margins of the leaflet. I typed it up and added Green Book information.

The friend visiting England sent me a postcard rom the Richard III Museum in York. The front has several pictures of the 14th century gatehouse that now houses the museum, and a portrait of said monarch. Though the portrait would probably look majestic in person, when reduced to one inch by one inch, the most noticeable feature is that Richard's shirt is cut down to his navel, and he's wearing a very 1970s-ish necklace. Richard III, first of the hippies...

Best wishes and some oreos to Rob who defends his dissertation proposal tomorrow. Have you considered handing out popcorn or cotton candy?

Words Written: about a thousand (need to add verbs)
Lessons Graded: six (they're getting restless)

Monday, May 09, 2005

on neighborhoods

I've blogged before about the dog walkers around here. There's a core group of us who always walk our dogs, no matter what the season or weather. We all know each other by sight and sometimes by dog names. There's a lot of teasing that goes along with this companionship; I get heckled for walking so quickly, another dog-walker for his willingness to stop and talk to everyone and a third for somehow never remembering to bring along a plastic bag. With warmer weather, more dog walkers have headed out, but I expect most of them to disappear indoors come the heat of July.

My favorite is the man who loves to stop and chat. He's learned that I don't stop, so he'll do the laps around the block with me. He works full time, but also attends night school, so we heckle each other about teacher-student woes. We'd known each other about a year when we discovered each other's political leanings; I think we may be the only liberals around for miles. Last night we tried to solve the fiscal crisis confronting Indiana: education or medical care? We didn't come up with an answer, but it felt good to blow off a little steam.

Though my neighbors' political views sometimes drive me mad, I am very fortunate to live in a truly friendly community. If I fell ill, people would come by with casseroles, offers to walk Sam and general good wishes for my recovery. This wasn't all that unusual a hundred or so years ago, when members of a community knew that they depended quite intimately upon each other, but I think is much more rare today. Some of these neighbors know that I voted for Kerry and oppose the bans on civil unions, but it doesn't matter. We recognize and appreciate each other's good intentions. Oh, they may heckle me, but I know that I can heckle them and they'd still show up with chicken soup.

Oh, and to answer Topor's question - I struggle to balance being an instructor (lessons graded) and completing a dissertation (words written) that will qualify me to become a professor. There's great immidiate satisfaction in moving an essay into the "graded" pile and I am fond of getting a regular paycheck. On the other hand, the number of lessons graded per day, be it one or a hundred, gets me no closer to having Dr. in front of my name. Thus I try to keep a daily record of any "progress" made as I head closer to - er - the great cliff that is the academic profession.

Words Written: zero
Lessons Graded: eleven

Friday, May 06, 2005

hello everyone

Though traffic varies from week to week, this blog continues to recieve no hits at 4 AM.

Sorcerer's Skull is still delightful with plenty of , well, spine-tingling moments. It's maybe not the most approachable of Bellairs' books for the average 12-something today, unless they know about Catholicism, but terrific for me. The local Catholic pastor becomes the book's second hero which is terrific. I confess that I did giggle when he pulled out a guitar and revealed that he knew lots of folk songs.

Words Written: zero
Lessons Graded: eight

Thursday, May 05, 2005

light reading

As a breather after plowing through Green Book and before I begin the joys of Brown Book I've been reading John Bellairs' The Spell of the Sorcerer's Skull. I thought I'd read all of Bellairs' works, so I'm tickled to stumble across another.

I discovered Bellairs by accident, as so often happens with great authors. Stumbling through the children's section on my way to the ladies room, a dust jacket caught my eye. "Hey! That's an Edward Gorey drawing!" (I may not be able to distinguish Monet from Manet, but Gorey I can handle.) Thoroughly intrigued, I checked one of Bellairs' books out, and devoured it in one sitting. Since then I've read and reread them.

Bellairs wrote in the 1980s, but his books are all set in the 1950s. He created several different heroes and heroines, but all of them live in small towns and have befriended older neighbors; together they battle different forces of darkness. Like all great children's literature, Bellairs has one eye on his story and another on his audience. For example, one hero is a Roman Catholic altar boy who often prays in Lation (this is, after all, before Vatican II). Bellairs includes all of the Latin, but then finds a way to carefully slide in a translation or explanation without making it obvious.

They're great stories and sometimes creepy as all get out. I'll go to Brown Book well before bedtime.

Words Written: zero
Lessons Graded: seven

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

civic duty

Twice this morning Sam gallantly alerted me to the terrible danger posed by a cat walking through the yard. On both occasions his barks also alerted the neighbors, whose cats are exclusively indoor animals.

Good dog.

Words Written: holding pattern - need to break out
Lessons Graded: five

Monday, May 02, 2005

someone else's paradise

I'm following the up-coming British elections with much interest. Unfortunately most of what I know comes from listening to the BBC news late at night, so I'm sure many of my gut impressions are slightly off. Tony Blair's voice doesn't help me get back to sleep nearly as quickly as Bill Clinton's dulcit tones, for example.

Last night CSPAN aired the BBC's answer to a debate between the Prime Minister candidates. Each man had about half an hour to respond to questions from the audience and occasionally from the moderator as well. Unlike the 2004 debates in the US, the audience got to boo and hiss to accent their points - fun to hear hisses and applause at the same time.

Immigration, at least to my notice, recieved very little attention in our last election, and I can't recall hearing a single word about people seeking asylum. (Then agian, I live in Indiana, which is losing population, so I suppose we worry less about it than other areas.) Yet the topic came up several times, with lots of nuanced queries and pointed remarks. This, to my mind, was the most interesting part of the evening.

Words Written: zero
Lessons Graded: two