Archive for the ‘life’ Category

We Go – not lit related at all

January 29, 2014

A couple of things have hit the news in the past week or so that really stood out to me. One, on a bit of a low note, was China’s lunar rover, Jade Rabbit, dying on the moon.  The second is that Opportunity has been on Mars for ten years now, and is still uncovering new things. Now, there could easily be a nationalistic thing here, with how long NASA’s rover has lasted on Mars, and how successful they have been, versus their Chinese counterparts. I think that would be misdirected, though. To me, it seems as if we have – as a race -always been about exploring. Taking that next step, forever attempting to chase down the horizon.

Except that horizon has already been chased, by and large, on this planet. We still have the sea floor, and we’ll get there some day, too. But where the next great frontier is  will be above us, away from us, towards the reaches where horizons do not exist. there is just the reach of space. In many ways, I think our reluctance to really fund NASA, to shovel money at them and tell them to GO, to inspire, to really start trying to take these next steps has been one of our greatest failures as a nation for the past thirty years. We have sat on our laurels, pointing to our history of manned flight to the moon, to our shuttle program, and then/now to our rovers. All the while, scaling back our explorations because we can’t use it to lord over a big bad enemy across the ocean. When the weaponization of space because less of a necessity (real or imagined) we quit caring. We lost sight of the real point for setting goals for explorations.

Because it is there. Because we will need to go there. Perhaps not a need as in a physical necessity. We may be able to continue finding ways of creating whatever we want/desire right here on this planet. We might all be able to have sixty-five inch televisions, eat the finest food from the nicest restaurants, and drive the nicest cars. Maybe. But there is a need that goes beyond that, an imperative to explore.

We could be on Mars within five years if we wanted to dedicate the resources to it. And compared to the resources we routinely dedicate to finding better ways of killing each other,  the resources for a trip to Mars are not even that large. We could put a base on the moon within two years. And we should. And I’m sure we will. At some point. When we overcome the inertia of not moving, of not chasing the horizon. When we return to our true nature of going, of seeing what’s just beyond the reach of our vision. There is an entire solar system out there, and then more beyond. Some day we will have to start checking out the rest of the neighborhood.


Adventures in Tooth Extraction

August 1, 2013

Well, I finally took the leap yesterday and had something done that my dentist told me to do about a year ago. Apparently my mouth wasn’t large enough to accomodate all of my teeth, so one sort of got shoved to the inside of my mouth and I had a molar come up nearly behind a premolar. This has never caused me any serious problems, and we dumped a lot of money into the kid’s mouth (born without 6 adult teeth, had a couple of teeth pulled to make room, really just a ton of work done and a running fight with the insurance company to pay any of it – they eventually did pay a good chunk) and throwing a big chunk of money into my own dental work was horribly unappealing.

And that was fine with me. Something I have discovered is that, as I’ve gotten older, I don’t take dental work as well as I used to. Most of it I’m still fine with, but whatever the dentist uses that feels like a big slow chisel slowly chunking away at your tooth before he grabs the high speed one that smooths everything out…yeah, that didn’t go down so well the last time it happened.  Going in and having a tooth ripped from my skull appealed to me even less, so I’ve found excuses to put it off.

Until a couple of weeks ago. That little misplaced molar began to wail. and I wasn’t going to put up with it any longer. Also, I didn’t relish going to the dentist for a cleaning and having him seeing that tooth still there and having to be asked why I hadn’t had it removed.  Unfortunately, I had lost the recommendation my dentist had given me so I had to call them to get the number for who I was supposed to go to. Which I did. And then I had the new place get a copy of the recommendation as well as my xrays sent over. All of the normal pre-appointment stuff that everyone goes through before going to any sort of doctor’s appointment they are sent to by their regular doctor/dentist.

So, I get there yesterday. The wife came with me because I had no idea what I was in for, how messed up I’d be afterward,  or if they’d even decide they could do it. I filled out paperwork, and then I was taken back 20 minutes after my appointment was scheduled. they take a paper bib to me – yeah, take it. It had little sticky stuff on each corner, not the rope and gator clips that I’m accustomed to. I filled out some more paperwork. Then I sat there.

The dentist was a young looking guy, and I’m getting older, which probably made him seem even younger.  He was tall, looked reasonably strong, and this gave me confidence that he could rip a tooth out of my jaw with relative ease. Or at least with more ease than a guy half his size and twice his age. Oh, and did I mention he looked like Ryan Reynolds?

So, Ryan Reynolds takes a look at my mouth, tells me it should be pretty easy, that it’s usually an easy tooth to come out, and that they should be able to fit me in pretty easily. So, he loaded me up with novocain or whatever it was that they now use to freeze your jaw.  And I sit there for another twenty minutes or so, which sort of worried me because I have a bit of a history of that stuff occasionally  wearing off. It doesn’t happen often, but it’s happened, and once it has happened, you never want it to happen again. That wasn’t a problem, though. Whatever Ryan Reynolds shot me up with, where he jammed that needle, it was magic. It numbed everything from lips to my ear, and I didn’t mind at all.

After about a half hour or so, Ryan Reynolds showed back up, along with an assistant, and began prying at my tooth. Because of where it was, he couldn’t just grab it with a pair of forceps (pliars) and yank it out.  Instead, he told me it was just going to be slow and easy. Pry a little here, pry a little there. Slowly wiggle it around until it got loose enough to just sort of pop out. it sounded like a good idea, and all of us thought it would work, likely for the same reason; the tooth was horribly neglected and likely rotted in pieces.

forty minutes later it wasn’t such a great idea. Ryan Reynolds had pried. He had pushed. He levered. The tooth refused to move. Apparently, it was sort of jammed in by the tooth next to it. This was when he decided to rev up the air tools and get the drill out. Now, here is where my grasp of what happens gets a bit sketchy. It’s not because it was horribly painful or anything. Quite the contrary. Whatever specific thing he did wasn’t painful at all. It was masterful and quick. So quick, I wish he had just done it that way in the beginning, but I’m guessing it’s also (usually) a bit more phsyically traumatic to the mouth, and he was trying to avoid it.

Best I can understand it is that he first when in and leveraged out what bone he could that was around the tooth. Or maybe he drilled a bunch of it off. I’m not sure, but he removed some of the stuff holding it in. Then he apparently drilled a hole right into the side of it so that he could jam one of his tools into the tooth and jerk it out that way. And it popped right out. And the assistant lady was holding it up, exclaiming about how big the root was (apparently it was an abnormally large and deep root for that tooth), and all of us were damn thrilled to be done.

Ryan Reynolds apologized a number of times for all of the pushing and leveraging. I was warned it would be sore and swollen for the next couple of days, and it is, though the vicodin knocks it down pretty well.  Apparently, he has pulled entire sets of wisdom teeth in less time it took to pull this one tooth. It was a massive pain in the ass for just one molar.

And today I have felt like crap for the last half of the day until I broke down and took a vicodin (or larlon?  some weird thing that I didn’t recognize but it’s a codein based pain reliever).  But the tooth is out.  And it should be better in the long run. Anyway. that’s my week so far.

Frustration Continues to Mount

April 19, 2013

Well, apparently I’m not getting a washer/dryer today. I got an automated call at 7am saying that there has been a delay with my delivery “possibly caused by weather” or something else, and that I’d get another call back later to sort it all out with me.  Well, I didn’t get another call back, so I called their customer service. I think we had a bit of a bad connection, but it didn’t help that my call was apparently routed to some place overseas. The woman had an accent, not the thickest I’ve heard, but thick enough with the poor connection.  By the end of the call, despite not being entirely sure what she was saying, I had essentially given up on figuring out what was going on with this phone call. So I then called the store we bought the washer and dryer from, and the guy we bought it from wasn’t in today, but she took my number and that and says a manager will call me back.

that was a half hour ago.

I’m not real thrilled right now with where we bought these things, but mistakes happen. It’s just another mistake/problem, though, tacked on to a laundry list of problems lately.  I think I’m going to give up on getting either today, and go lock up the basement door.


edit: about three hours after my initial call, the lady I talked to from the store called me back and asked if anyone had contacted me. When I told her no, she put me on hold, and got me on the phone with someone. I gave them my information, and they seemed a bit lost trying to figure out what happened to my washer and dryer and offered to call me back in a few minutes. Forty minutes later I got a call from another person who seemed to be part of management who apologized a lot, and told me that the part that needed fixed didn’t arrive when the repairman was there. The part has finally arrived, and the repair guy would be out again next Tuesday, and picked up for delivery on Wednesday. I’ll get it Friday. so. Yeah. My washer and dryer are still at the store. waiting for aknob to be fixed (a knob that requires the entire control circuit board to be replaced). Some day I will have a washer and dryer.

The house, the reading, the writing, the web, and other various topics of momentary interest

April 12, 2013

Alright, it’s cold today.  the high is supposed to be 50, which means it’s actually about 45, which means the other side of the house is uninhabitable. I went over to fix lunch and froze my nuggets. Thank god for the microwave.

On the other hand, I finished nearly all of my grading this morning. And I think I tracked down the shut off valves to the second floor shower. At first I thought they would be concealed in closet of an adjoining bathroom, because that would make total sense.  So, I removed a loose panel in the closet, and was confident I would find a couple of knobs to turn. Well, no knobs.  there were these bizarre upside down copper udders, though. Did some looking through Lowes’ website and found that they are supposed to remove knocking in the lines from air. Kinda neat, actually, but an odd thing to see for the first time. I think I’ve found the cutoff valves in the basement, so when it warms up a bit, I can start tearing apart the tub faucet to see what I need to replace. I’m hoping the shower head is just clogged, but I think it’s going to more likely be the cartridge.

Also, I need to fix the toilet in the half bath. It won’t stop flushing once it starts. An easy enough fix, really.

More adventures in the basement. I hauled the majority of rubber backed rugs out of the basement yesterday. We think they played a role in deteriorating the cement in one third of the basement. In the middle third, they covered a couple of spots where it seems a previous owner tried to use a sledge hammer to level out the natural stone floor. Yeah, not sure what the was going through their heads and why they didn’t just go rent a grinder to take the high spots down slowly. Or, if the sandstone floor bothered them that much, why they didn’t just replace it with cement when they poured floors in the two other sections of basement.  It was definitely bizarre, and a bit disheartening to see the floor damage. Right now we’re thinking of hammering out the two spots that are damaged and seeing if we can find replacement chunks of sand stone to drop in.  Then I discovered that they managed to store more…stuff?… in a couple of crawlspaces in the basement under an addition they did. So I have to haul a small step ladder into the basement to boost up into these crawlspaces to haul out lord knows what. Yay.

On the non-house front, ebooks now make up 23% of all book sales. Not only that, but book sales in general were good. the digital market will continue to grow, and it becoming the dominant format is likely inevitable. At the same time, there is a tangible, tactile quality to paper bound books that is undeniable.  I still haven’t bought an ereader or tablet, I’m not sure when I ever will, but the market is undeniable.

Entertainment Weekly has an article up about a possible Shining movie prequel, and they got a couple of quotes from King about it. King doesn’t sound thrilled, and I don’t really blame him. For one, it’s not going to come close to Kubrick’s masterpiece of horror. Secondly, who cares about what happened to the previous caretaker? We know that already. Dude went nuts, axed his family. If they want to do something at the hotel, fine, but just take it out of The Shining world and use new characters and new events.

And Jeff Bezos with a letter that I disagree with. He can try to dress up his shop window and make it look like a part of the community of publishing/writing/etc., but Amazon is the new WalMart. If you were ever against Walmart because of how they drive smaller stores and companies out of business, you have no reason to feel differently about Amazon. While the publishing world certainly doesn’t do itself any favors with how it has approached the digital transition, Amazon has played an active role in hastening their downfall and turning small(ish) mistakes into catastrophes. It’s not all about the customer, it’s about control and it is about dominance, and in the end it’s about making as money as possible. If you’re going to shop there, either admit you don’t care or that you can’t afford to care. It’s okay, I couldn’t always afford to care, either. But now I can, so I make different choices.

Finally, something else I want to talk about that is a bit off the beaten path: Fox and CBS might become cable networks. The whys of it don’t particularly matter to me, but if you’re curious, it’s a good blog post from SF Chronicle. What I want to do is to pair this with the news that the city of Santa Clara is going to have free wifi. From my understanding of the history of television, the government essentially gave the broadcasting airspace to networks provided they give time back to the public in the form of providing the news. So, for basically an hour a night. And for decades it’s been a steal for the government, in that it has allowed for a populace informed about the nation and the world at a relatively low cost and high access. However, that has changed over the past decade or so. This isn’t about the quality of the nightly news, but the rise of the internet and the connected world. Television has become less important in our every day lives, at least in the sense of sitting down in front of a television and watching your favorite show at 9pm on Tuesdays. If you’re like me and my family, you don’t have cable, dish, or antenna. You just get all of your info from the web. You have a twitter feed you keep track of, you have a facebook account, you’re tapped into various rivers of information.  The problem is that this connection comes with a price. Here it seems to be anywhere from $30-120 a month. Thirty bucks doesn’t sound like a lot, but compare that to the nothing people are accustomed to paying for their broadcast television and their ability to get the news every night for nothing other than sitting through some commercials. And the Washington Post had a report from back in February about how the FCC wants to buy back some of these airwaves from broadcasters to set up a national free wifi network.

And this is why it is important. Not so we can surf gawker for free, but so that our populace – a populace becoming increasingly urban – can benefit from the sort of free access to news and information that previous generations of Americans benefited from. Would it eat into profits for wireless carriers and giant telecoms? Almost definitely, but it’s also entirely in the public’s good to push forward with such initiatives. This isn’t about getting something for nothing, but about knowledge and access.


Where I’m At

April 11, 2013

Okay, it has been a long time since I last updated this place. I see I’m still getting a decent number of visitors every day, so at least the content I do have up seems to get people to drop by occasionally. I haven’t been updating because of a combination of business and apathy. I haven’t felt like writing for awhile. I just don’t feel like I have much to say, or what I do have to say wouldn’t be significant enough (length wise) for a blog post. mostly, the past month or so has just been really busy.

For one, we bought a house. We moved into the house. We’re still in the process of unpacking, cleaning, fixing. And it’s like three and a half weeks later. After we bought the house, the wife got really sick, a boiler that heats half the house essentially failed – rendering said half  uncomfortable as all hell to be in, let alone do all of the things you have to do to move into a place. there was Easter, which was fun but which also killed a weekend. The weather still sucked. We bought a washer/dryer that will now be delivered a week later than it was supposed to because the repair guy couldn’t fix a broken knob and had to order parts. And the kid got sick with something entirely unrelated to what the wife had. So…yeah.  we moved, and life just sort of fell apart the past few weeks.

Meanwhile, I’m still trying to maintain my job, fix supper, etc. To fix supper, I have to journey back and forth between two halves of the house, because it was divided up for an inlaw suite. Right now we’re living in the inlaw suite. The fridge is in the main part of the house. Hence having to go back and forth just to fix a meal.

Sooooooo, I’ve been busy. That’s really all for now. Time to try grading.

Some random post about me, today, maybe some links, maybe some lit type stuff

December 7, 2012

My updates have been few and far between over the past month or so. It’s not because I haven’t been reading (I just finished The French Lieutenant’s Woman), I just haven’t been willing to sit down and talk about what I have been reading. Also, the whole book links thing hit a tremendous dry spot. I just wasn’t coming across anything overly interesting. I tried to do a few posts with some links, but it really just wasn’t enough to make it worth while.

Mostly, though, I’ve just been in a foul mood, and when I am in a foul mood I simply shut down. Over the course of this week, I have been making a more concerted effort to pull myself out of that mood. Yesterday, I forced myself to try working out again, and I got twenty minutes of jogging in. Today, I am forcing myself to wear clean clothes. That sounds ridiculous and maybe a bit disgusting, but I don’t do anything. I rarely leave the house, and I hate doing laundry when clothes don’t seem “dirty” in a, “hey, let’s go dig out a stump and burn things” sort of way. But I’ve sort of realized today, as I sort of have to end up realizing at some point in all of my funks, that I need to change things like clothes to help work out of my funks.

Over the past month, my kid has been a random projectile of confusion and horror. I don’t think it’s right to detail his life here, but he has some social/behavioral issues and this school year has been *very* rough on him and us, the past month in particular. It culminated in him deciding he needed to just leave school one day resulting in a school lock down, a call to the police and a subsequent 45 minute conversation involving him, me, the principle, his teacher, a therapist and a cop. This sucked. Bad. Since then, I haven’t had to talk to any cops about his behavior so I am willing to chalk it up to incremental progress.
We also had, then backed out of, a house. What it can be boiled down to is that we leaped when we should have done some more looking. The place had some problems we didn’t notice before we bid, then the inspector pointed them out, and we quickly said, “well, hell no” and got out of it – much to the chagrin of our real estate person, and probably everyone involved on the seller’s side.  So, that was fun.
My work has been its normal blah self. With my crappy mood, the crappiness of my job sort of mutates and grows exponentially and just sort of pancakes me.
Other than that,  my thoughts have drifted a bit from literature and have centered a bit on movies – strangely enough, mostly superhero fair. My wife brought The Avengers home from the library, and it wasn’t horrible. I thought Whedon did a very good job of making an action/superhero movie entertaining and engaging. I, also, watched bits of Thor, which….yeah. It wasn’t nearly as good as The Avengers, but it was far better than the last two Spider-man movies (#3 and the reboot). Of course, conversations between me and the wife went the only direction conversations between us can go when the Avengers are involved and quickly centered on Hulk. I thought this was the only real way to use the Hulk – small doses, smashes everything, and some jokes like smacking Thor in the head. I just don’t see a lot you can do with the character in a feature film focused solely on him. However, I still prefer Ang Lee’s film over whoever did the reboot with Norton, while my wife things Lee’s film is too cartoonish.  Now, what I didn’t bring up with her is what I’ve been thinking about since: Lee’s approach to “collateral” damage in Hulk. One of her prime contentions is that when the Hulk did things like chuck a tank for a few miles across the desert, that they shouldn’t show the soldiers later climbing out unharmed. My opposition to this is that you can’t show the Hulk slaughtering largely innocent people and still have him work as the protagonist, especially not as a sympathetic protagonist – which he is supposed to be, since he’s dealing with his inner demons, his rage, etc. Her response is that they just shouldn’t have shown the soldiers climbing out.
But I think Lee was doing something that I’m not sure a lot of other superhero movies do, or even both to hint at: he’s confront collateral damage done by superheros doing superhero type stuff. In The Avengers, for example, when Loki’s army eventually invades there are creatures crawling all over walls, there are cops in the street taking pot shots, there are massive armored flying gator things….and I don’t recall seeing any people getting hurt or killed. What exactly are all of these creatures doing? Just hanging out on the side of the building, waiting to be picked off by Iron Man or chucked into the ground by Hulk? You see a lot of people in danger, but I don’t recall seeing any actual harm done to them. Somehow, with armegeddon breaking out all around them, no one seems to get hurt. And this seems more realistic, or less cartoony, than Hulk chucking a tank and not hurting anyone?
Watching Lee’s Hulk, I think that’s part of the genius of it. Lee is saying, “hey, it’s a comic book movie, people are not going to get hurt in this.” He rips away that idea of reality, and institutes his own.   This seems like something that could be interesting to look into, how collateral damage is treated in superhero movies. Lee made a clear choice of saying that he would show the results of Hulk’s strength and rage, but take away the repercussions of it. Even with the dogs, they just sort of disappeared with a green cloud, removing the movie further from the attempts of “gritty reality” that we saw Nolan strive for with this Batman trilogy.  Something that should be differentiated, though, is the ramifications of actions by villains and heroes. I have a feeling that there are far more people shown harmed by villains than by the heroes in any capacity.
Something that has been a major bright spot over the past week has been the videos with Adam Savage at (I’d like the newest, but my internet service is apparently down)(again).  I like Mythbusters. I think it’s an excellent, fun show that does a good job of highlighting science and making it interesting.  I grew up with shows like Bill Nigh the Science Guy and Newton’s Apple, and there are not enough shows out there to do what they did – make science interesting, accessible, and fun. The videos at Tested retain the fun aspect of the show, and Savage in particular, but it also gives us a different side of Savage. He loves films. He loves (LOVES) making stuff, everything from replicas of movie props to Dodo birds. He loves literature and is a huge Murakami fan. He’s engaging. He’s funny. He’s just damn good viewing. If you have the opportunity, look for the Untitled Adam Savage Project, and kill your day at about twenty minutes a clip. You won’t regret it. Check out the whole Tested site. It’s worth it.
Alright, some links.
Amazon is launching a subscription service focusing on hooking kids when they’re young to cheap Amazon content and gutting publisher’s ability to get people to buy books. Yeah, I think damn near any publisher taking part of this is just making a deal with the devil, and it’s going to only be a matter of time before the real payment comes due.
It’s the end of the year, which means the beginning of lists. The Atlantic has a best YA/Middle Grade list up. I browsed through it, interested more in the publishing possibilities and seeing what’s been big this year than any real interest in reading the stuff.  This is probably going to sound offensive, but I just have a terrible time becoming invested in these stories. But they can sell insanely well. So, yeah.

Just not into this right now

July 5, 2012

Ever since the kid has gotten out of school, my routine has been a bit messed up – not that my routine was all that hot to begin with. So this has slipped. I have five or six books piled up on my computer right now, waiting for something to be written about them. I have a handful of links to stories that I wanted to talk about saved away in my bookmarks. I have stuff to throw up here for conversation. But I’m just not doing it.

And now the kid is off to his “dad’s.” So I should have some free time. Except I’m not sleeping worth a lick because the weather has turned awful. I can’t sleep at all when it gets too hot and the meager air conditioner we have fights like all hell to keep the dining room marginally comfortable. Whenever I get too comfortable at my computer, I start drifting off and end up pseudo-sleeping once in awhile.and the wife and I are looking for a house. Last saturday we saw 12 of them. It destroyed me. Felt like crap all evening and the next day. This Saturday, we’re heading out again. It’s funny but all of the houses need work, few have much land, and all of them (imo) are overpriced. I can’t believe the condition of some of the homes we’ve looked at and how people just let them go to rot.

Okay, I think that’s it for the complaining for now. With the kid at away for a week and a half, I’m hoping to get into a bit of a routine that I’ll also be able to keep up once the kid gets back. I hope this blog can be updated more often, and that I can return to being moderately productive. Unless we buy a house, of course. Then I’ll be busy packing, dealing with loans, papers, unpacknig and lord knows what else. Yay. But that’s where I’ve been lately.

Oh, and work just started up again. Teaching just one class this semester.  Looking forward to a paycheck again.

Been Busy

February 11, 2012

I haven’t updated this in forever, and I’ve been feeling bad about it. Life has just been awfully full lately. I’ve been trying to get caught up with it, but it keeps pulling away. My new semester started a couple of weeks ago (in week three already!), and it included getting used to an entirely new setup with the classes, and getting all of the students in line with the new setup, and it’s been stressful and hectic and I’ve wanted to seriously hurt people at times, but it’s also been kinda good. Also, the kid’s been having problems at school, and that’s been eating up time. And, apparently, I’m going to be getting married at some point this year. The woman has been bugging me for awhile about it, and I’ve always told her that if she wants to get married she just has to buy a watch and propose. That sounds like an ass thing to say, but I’m also, essentially, a stay at home dad, and I get crap for not wearing the pants in the family, but that’s because I chafe. But  I figure if I’m going to get crap for not being the breadwinner and that I’m playing the wife’s role, then I should get proposed to. Finally, I told her that if she just plans the thing, I’d probably show up for it. It appears she’s actually going to run with it this time.

Also, I’ve applied to grad school to pursue my MFA. Getting everything sorted out and done and turned in stressed the hell out of me. But it’s done. Stressed the hell out of the woman, too, because I nagged her to read everything and correct all of the comma errors and to make everything sound less like crap. She did awesome work, made me look decent.

AND we had been looking for a place to rent, but we’ve sorta given up the ghost on finding a decent place to rent at a decent price and have decided to start looking at houses to just buy and settle down. And, of course, I don’t look at anything practical. I’m in love with the idea of space, especially after having none of it for the past three years. And after finding a couple of places by the lake, I kinda fell in love with the idea of being on the lake. And just now I found a truly crazy ass thing to get. It’s not near the lake, which has become a strangely big problem with it, but it sorta makes up for it with the sheer bitch ass craziness of the idea of it being our house.

My grandmother passed away a few weeks back. It wasn’t exactly unexpected, and she was miserable as and where she was, but it’s starting to hit me a bit more lately – especially as talk of getting married and buying a house has picked up. I’m 31 now. Most people my age have gotten a bit further down the road in getting a family going and settled into their lives. Now, most of the people on my mom’s side of the family have died and never had great grandkids around or nieces or nephews or anything. They didn’t even have the step kid around much. That sounds bad, referring to the kid like that, but it’s not the same. Not for them.

The Woman has decided that it’s not only  a good time to look at moving, but for getting married. We have a date, apparently, now we just need everything else.

The comp courses have been alright, for a change. Still trying to get all of the ducks in a row with the getting the tech and the materials. It’s surprised me how smoothly it’s actually went.  Also, it appears I have more freedom to edit the look of the course and to add materials. With everything else going on, I haven’t had much of an opportunity to look around and find extra materials, but I think the new course setup is much more open to this than the old class setup.

With any luck, I can begin settling back into a schedule and get caught up on some work, like updating this place.

I’m an adjunct and it’s killing me

September 6, 2011

I’m not good at it. I think it’s fair to put that right out there. But, under fair circumstances, I do alright. This fall has been hellish so far. I’ve been teaching comp pretty much non-stop for the past year and ahalf. Maybe two years. Which really isn’t all that long. I know this, too. Except I teach online.

You don’t get to see the faces of your students. They don’t get to see you. The entire reward of working with people is fairly obliterated by the computer screen. Having two discussion threads and 25 papers littered with basic spelling and grammatical errors per class , per week, week after week, can be fairly dehumanizing. After awhile, all that you know is that this massive pile of incredibly tedious work descends on you every sunday night and you just wish it would stop. While your employer pushes for greater retention, you just want them to disappear, one by one, until you’re left with something a bit more manageable, or at least a bit less soul  crushing with its omnipresent weight of tedious repetition.

And that’s under the best circumstances, teaching online, at least for me, anyway. This fall has already fallen into the “worst circumstances” category.  The institution (business?) I’m working for decided they needed to revamp their email system for this fall. So, in August, I got instructions for setting up my new email account to use in the fall. Assuming I had a job, which hadn’t been confirmed when all of these emails were going out, but I assumed it was a promising sign. So I set up the account and then pretty much set it aside, believing it was for the fall.

Except for one of my bosses, and I mean “one of,” as in, I have several. And all of are able to simply nip into my class and observe me quietly from afar and all of my students have ready access to complain to them over any real or perceived slight. With a little imagination, you are probably beginning to grasp how nerve wracking this existence could be, with this idea that Big Brother could be omnipresent and that anyone can turn anyone else in and have it given weight, after all, because retention is key.

This one boss was using exclusively this new email address while the summer semester was still going on, while there was still three weeks left in the summer session. So I missed out on his email saying that the class I’m teaching was being revamped. I missed out on the email offering a workshop in all of the new stuff they’ve crammed into this thing. And I missed out on the email reminding me to get the new books for the new course, just in case I didn’t notice that the entire course has been altered for the fall.

Frankly, I was too burned out to care too much by Aug. 8, and I still 17 days in the summer semester. And when that Summer semester ended, I had to simply bottom out for a few days. So, I was pretty much fucked when I opened up my new classes the day or two before they were to begin and saw the whole damn thing changed. I’ve been playing catch-up ever since. My students are miserable and bitchy because the campus bookstore can’t manage to send them any of their books on time, so they can’t access half the work. I’m in a horrible mood because I still haven’t gotten all of the books myself and my students are freaking out because of something I essentially have zero control over. But that hasn’t stopped them from bitching to me about it.

And the worst thing is that I sort of like the new class layout so far. It actually seems easier if Ihad my book or if mystudents had theirs or if any of these emails that I missed had been sent to the email account my other bosses and department secretaries were using.

And what does all of this have to do with writing or literature? I don’t have time for it right now. I’m trying to make time but it’s just not there and when I do find free time, I’m so stressed and angry and tired and just thoroughly unhappy with what I’m doing for a living that I can’t concentrate on anything I really care about. Instead, I continue to just need to crash. To bottom out. To push everything aside for a bit and engage in some mental.emotional candy like obsessively scouring ebay and craigslist for specific toys for the kid or trying to figure out what that song by the cranberries is that I have stuck in my head from 15 years ago (it was Zombie) or watching Ghost Hunters International on Hulu while also bitching about the regular Ghost Hunters no longer being on Hulu.

The thought of picking up pen and paper or opening an office document file and diving into serious editing and revisions is damn near impossible at this point.

Alright. Piss and moan over. Back to the world.

The Wheeled Library

July 29, 2011

Detroit Bookmobile Brings the World to Shutins.


I’ve been wanting to post this for awhile. I don’t have much to say to go along with it, but I just thought it was a nice story about how books form a community, even among those who never leave their house.