Sunday, December 30, 2007
Happy New Year!
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Friday, December 21, 2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Emphasis is mine; discussion of curriculum and the purposes that informs it was on the agenda for today.
Open Yale Courses provides free and open access to seven introductory courses taught by distinguished teachers and scholars at Yale University. The aim of the project is to expand access to educational materials for all who wish to learn.
Open Yale Courses reflects the values of a liberal arts education. Yale's philosophy of teaching and learning begins with the aim of training a broadly based, highly disciplined intellect without specifying in advance how that intellect will be used.
This approach goes beyond the acquisition of facts and concepts to cultivate skills and habits of rigorous, independent thought: the ability to analyze, to ask the next question, and to begin the search for an answer.
We hope these courses will be a resource for critical thinking, creative imagination, and intellectual exploration.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Last night we hosted a small party for the Chinese teachers who have been visiting DSU and the USA for the past several months. Not all are pictured here, but we offered a traditional holiday meal, with turkey, mashed potatoes, and all the fixings. Little Anna took a shine to Fan, who seemed to enjoy the attention. Bei (left) and Fan have been a part of my World Lit class for part of the semester, watching me at work. They fly out today and will return to Shanghai after the turn of the year.
Monday, December 17, 2007
Apostrophe (to the tune of Oh Christmas Tree)
It’s hers and theirs and yours and its
I wonder why you so confuse
Thursday, December 13, 2007
For 24 hours (ten of them gone already), it's my birthday, so I get cool presents (both useful and not), get a chance to take goofy pictures of the dog thinking inside and outside the box, get good coffee you have to pay for, and get a moment to enjoy the simple pleasure of a sticky Santa on my coffee cup lid. More delights await me, I just know it!
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
On the other hand, he looks like he might be trying to settle in. He won't be there long.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Saturday, December 08, 2007
Friday, December 07, 2007
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
But you're not convinced, even though you sense the beater's now resting in a snowy bed too comfortable to leave. You assess the situation--the ditch ahead seems no more full of snow than where you sit. You'll drive thataway, turn the wheel at just the right moment, but progress seems a little slow, so you gun that sucker. Gun it! You make it two feet forward, which is progress, so you flip it in reverse. Gun it back! It's four feet of tracks in the snow, a little snowy lane for you and your beater, but with no exit, so you gas it forward and try turning the wheel, but damn! It won't leave the track. Maybe going back and forth this way with the engine at full revs for half an hour, snow flying, then dirt flying, then cussing and gunning and the ditch getting a firmer and firmer hold on your transportation while you lose more and more of your patience and time keeps slipping away, and now you're late for work, your car is in the ditch, and you don't even have a coat to wear cause why would you need one; you're only going to work?
So, an hour after your car got frisky and you took a sled ride into the ditch, you're on the phone with a tow truck guy you can't afford and you're wondering about that noise the car was making toward the harried end of your attempt to get it out of the ditch by mashing the gas pedal to the floor time and time again as you shifted from forward to reverse and back again. Was that screechy noise the alternator or the transmission?
Even though much of it was on display outside my bedroom window, ruining the serenity of the morning, I knew my day was off to a better start than his. I've been there; it ain't fun.
Monday, December 03, 2007
The insides of cars and the intricacies of plaster walls have some beauty, little details the speak to the care with which they were built and the processes that they have gone through, but I enjoy more the view from our window, the objects the move forward without gasoline or elbow grease, the trees easing their way slowly into the sky, the sun easing itself into our morning, even the snow turning in circles like a dog in its bed, then settling down with a sigh.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
Deep in the heart of every car, every Corvette or Maserati, every Kia or Peugeot, hundreds of tiny little pieces the size of pencils (or smaller) whirl and spin, bounce and tap, generating the power to drive to the grocery store, listen to the radio, run the heater. A high-end car like a BMW has more little pieces than most. But like every car, a BMW relies on the integrity of those little pieces, and when one fails, even a tiny one no bigger than a spoon, you notice. Think of the impact one little inch of restricted artery might have.
Saturday brought a BMW into the garage in a search for its heart ailment, and the photo here shows the result, after a long surgery that has left the patient in an incapacitated state for now. The fine 7-series BMW was suffering from missing a quarter-inch piece of a valve. (To see how the little pieces go round and round and the role a vale plays, check out the relevant page on How Stuff Works). Having identified the problem, the remedy is on its way.
Saturday, December 01, 2007
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
What's Christmas without "How the Grinch Stole Christmas"? It makes your own heart grow a couple of sizes, making you feel the Christmas spirit even if your shoes are too tight. You can watch it, that's right. You can watch it yes sir, you can watch it tonight.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
What will happen to the book? For many young people, it's a question that doesn't concern them; they don't buy books, and they don't read them. But will an electronic version of the book change that? I don't know. The Motley Fool says it will change the world, and Newsweek says it's the future of reading, but much of that sounds like the jangle jingle that seems always to come when a new technology appears. It's the Kindle, from Amazon. It might be a great thing, but an electronic book is still an electronic device, not a book.
The Fool points out that one cool thing is the way they're opening up publishing to anyone. You don't need that pesky editor or publisher to give you the thumbs up; you just take your masterpiece, upload it to Amazon, and voila! a book anyone can download to their Kindle! I suspect they'll sell some to people who want to get that electronic version of their own book.
You sure wouldn't want to drop it in the tub, and I'm glad I didn't have it on some of my travels, but it looks like a cool new thing, and who knows what it might do to readership and literacy? Not much, I think.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Thanksgiving Day decorations aren't up to what appears for Christmas and Halloween, but they're getting there. It's important, if you're going to decorate, however, that you do so with class. Clearly, the first photo, shot clandestinely in the cover of darkness, demonstrates how NOT to present your Thanksgiving spirit to your neighbors. Who wants to look at a giant turkey, his eyes popping out like he's about to meet the ax? Its owners are clearly lacking in the finer sensibilities; one imagines the interior of their homes adorned NASCAR posters, Bud Light neon, a football phone, perhaps even a rug with a college football logo (country music playing in the background).
The second photo illustrates a blow-up lawn ornament offered by those with a much higher degree of taste. Whose spirits wouldn't be lifted by a giant turkey in a pilgrim outfit, his head thrown back in defiance, or perhaps poised as he is just about to leap into the sky to save other hapless turkeys in these dangerous times? Clearly, those within appreciate the finer things in life--good food, fine wines, classical music, a well-tamped cigar.
Finally, a photo that illustrates how, during the holidays, one can appreciate a three-butt kitchen.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Let's hope the Vikings have the right word for victory.
For vocabulary fans, a new site lets you easily text your skills while apparently offering rice to those who need it. Free Rice is simple and direct--given a word, you choose from among four choices to advance in your vocabulary. For every right answer, ten grains of rice are added to a little visual bowl, and after three correct responses, you gain a level. A wrong answer sets you back.
My best level is 46 (yes, with NO CHEATING). Proglottid got me. It's a tapeworm segment. If I'd only known!
Just remember that you have other things to do. It can be captivating.
What some people might call snow pattered onto the lawn yesterday morning, what you might call a snow shower, except that it was really a kind of tiny hail, little snowflake-sized hailstones falling not-so silently, as you might hear in the video provided here.
(I tried to upload the video yesterday using Blogger's own video inputter, but was thoroughly thwarted! Finally I took the footage into Moviemaker, added the title and end, and put it on YouTube, so here you have it. Not worth the effort, but I was determined. )
Saturday, November 17, 2007
DSU is rolling out its new advertising campaign that uses the tagline, "Dare to Do." We'll get TV time, radio play, and a new billboard out of the deal. I look forward to seeing the new TV ad on Monday night on KELO TV.
My sources tell me there's a skydiver featured. We'll see!
Thursday, November 15, 2007
DSU's very able theatrical group put on a hilarious and touching version of A.R. Gurney's play tonight, starring Kari Hofman in the lead role. Director Kelly Macleod managed a skilled group, and the audience was (and will be) rewarded by the performance. It was every bit as good, or better, than the NSU performance I saw last summer. Just don't bring the kids.
The performance was preceded by an event at the DSU Foundation and dinner at El Vaquero, and poetry, music, champagne, and celebratory cake and finger food followed.
If you haven't been, go see it if you have the chance.
Monday, November 12, 2007
It's the day we call Veterans Day, a time we should pause and reflect on the offer that many have made to serve the greater need of country. My family added its share to the roll of veterans, starting with my dad, who joined the Army Air Corps just as WWII was ending. My mom had a brother and sister in the Air Force. Among my siblings, my older sister Rita did her time in the Air Force, then me in the Army, then Jess in the Navy, followed by Renee and Justin in the Army and Jay and Jered in the Navy. We were examples of people with few options taking advantage of the opportunity that the military offered, turning the veterans benefits into college and a better life. Only my little sister had experience with conflict, spending time in the Middle East during the first gulf war. My own time in Germany in the mid-70's didn't seem like much of a contribution, but I did what I was told and thought about my role in the bigger world--not a bad thing for a 20-year-old to be doing.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Yesterday and today both were beauties, especially for this time in the fall--temps over 50, just a bit of a breeze, sun shining. Both days were ripe for motorcycle riding, and yesterday I spun the Concours up to the fading village of Rutland, where a pile of leaves burning on the corner of a lawn was a rare sensation, its smell hearkening back to a time when a leaf-pile in the yard was quickly transformed into a fiery celebration, its embers glowing, inviting a young boy to transform those burning leaves into a giant volcanic inferno. I had to pause there in Rutland and soak it in, then turn and hotfoot it back again to Madison, where this morning the fog transformed our house and yard, a light mist lingering until the sun came on later in the day and set us back safely in the sunshine state.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
The conference, hosted by our own Dan Weinstein, brings together some heavy-hitters, including Dickie Selfe, who has thought and written much about emerging literacy issues. Also in attendance as a sponsor and interested party was Marc Barrot, whose iJot software seems poised for bigger and better things. Marc was especially interesting to talk to, interested in what I was doing with my students and seeking out how his program could better serve our needs. Marc's concept and simple execution of an idea of collapsible and expandable outlines on the web is evidenced in iJot and on pages such as Salon's Slam in Salon. I'm feeling good about all that.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Sunday, November 04, 2007
Some people dabble; others dive in. My colleague Alan Montgomery is a diver, a guy who paints and paints, even as his teaching load, like mine, keeps him plenty busy. I saw him with his students out on the lawn south of Beadle Hall the other day, leading them through an art project. He recently had a show and artist reception at the Museum of Visual Materials in Sioux Falls. But he's also got a lot of material on the web. You can look at his site on SAATCHI gallery here, and he's got his own site here.
I like his painting "Codes," shown here.
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Friday, November 02, 2007
Okay, so I'm not working all day today, nor resting, but working, resting, working, etc., etc. Jessica Hagy has been busy with her blog consisting of what she's written on index cards. No, it's not poetry, but it's got her a book deal. Go figure.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Monday, October 29, 2007
My first trial was a success, though Bill Bryson's reading of A Short History of Nearly Everything was a little less clear than I'd like. Either that, or the sound quality on the device is a little muddy.
Either way, the device brings books into a simple, stand-alone device. It worked well on my jog, and I look forward to trying it again.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Last night was our first frost, with the temperature at 27 degrees when I took the pooch out this morning. The tomato plants felt it, but nothing else much seemed affected, except for the bright yellow-leafed maple tree out front, the last one with a full head of foliage. When I went out to get the paper, there it was, giving up its leaves like a slot machine kicking out quarters, or a fountain sprinkling the lawn with its brilliant leaf cover. So I got the camera out and filmed a little action as the tree gave up its gold. I'll try to put it up here a bit later.
Friday the B's and I zipped on down to Vermillion to hear Brian Bedard read a new story, then to join him and the B's and poet Dave Evans and his wife Jan. Good stuff. A night at the motel, and the morning at the John R. Milton Conference listening to Phil Block, Dennis Sjolie, and John Dudley spin their analytical positions, while I gave my take on Indians in video and computer games. More good stuff. Lunch with conferees at the National Music Museum, then a ride back home again to Madison. A quick trip to see DSU get its back pockets handed to it on Trojan Field, then some work, and a quiet night with friends.
Sunday I stayed in and graded papers, then ran the Lake County Historical Society annual meeting where Kelli Wollman sang us some old tunes and we awarded our first Krueger Awards. We're riding the wave of our highest membership yet--215 people.
Sunday evening's been quiet with a little work.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Her mom called this morning to wish her well, and she told the story again of loading hogs the day before and being run over by a wild pig, falling on her belly, and lying in bed later wondering whether her little babe was still okay. Born with a bruise on her butt, the babe was otherwise fine, growing into a fine, still-young woman.
She shares a birthday with Pablo Picasso 1881, Minnie Pearl (Sarah Ophelia Colley) 1912, Bobby Knight 1940, Ann Tyler 1941, Helen Reddy 1942, Matthais Jabs (The Scorpions) 1955, Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers) 1962, Ed Robertson (Barenaked Ladies) 1970. And, in an event that has changed the lives of people throughout the world, today is the anniversary of the introduction of the microwave oven, for home use, by The Tappan Company in 1955.
Now you know.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
The encroaching vines got a big dose of setback today as I did some species cleansing in the lilac bushes, digging, chopping, and pulling trees, shrubs, and especially vines out of what is supposed to be a section for lilacs. The foliage now seems thinner, but next spring I hope to see a thicker crop of lilac bushes.
I moved a few trees, too, and tidied up the yard. Four days of rain had put the grass in overdrive, and I found these mushrooms back in the trees. The wood reminded me of Frost's poem "The Woodpile,"
with the lines, "I thought that only
Someone who lived in turning to fresh tasks
Could so forget his handiwork on which
He spent himself."
The old wood, some of it from an old apple tree in the yard, was giving off the enchanting, musky odor of apple wine, damp and delicious. After a beautiful day, some of it outside, my thoughts often turning to the moment, five years ago, when my wife and I first held hands, I was pleased to turn to the house, its back light lit, the day fading, a good day of work done.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Well, what DO you call a group of English majors? A collaboration? A paragraph? An edition? A collection? We do have a capital group of English majors. They came to our house last night and I think had a very good time, met some professors and other students they hadn't had a chance to talk to yet, and devoured some good eats. Maybe it was the free food that got them here, but they enjoyed each other's company, you could tell. There was evidence, plenty of examples, a fully developed essay full of examples--easy talk, loud talk, game-play, and plenty of laughter. These aren't the greatest pictures, and we missed a few people, but we hope the word spreads that this group deserves an exclamation point.