Friday, April 28, 2006

Poor, Poor, Pitiful Me

From the person who brought you the extremely nasty tirade against students that I linked to earlier...

Closed for Business

Not to be trite or to add to AP's feelings of persecution, up. Please.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Grading Swamp

I graded 15 research papers today, and I feel like my head has been through the pea sheller (If you live somewhere where you don't have pea shellers, insert your own bad analogy here).

I've got to find a way to step it up. I've only just begun. Lot's more where that came from. And so forth...

I've also got to find a way to keep my sanity for the next few weeks, and I'm assuming most people who read this blog are feeling the same way right about now.

I don't have an answer, but my strategy so far is actually not much different than it was when I was the one turning in the research papers this time of year.

Eat lots of sugar. Drink lots of coffee. Let everything good and good for you in life fall by the wayside as you pretend someone else has been leaving the empty Funyun bags in your office trash can. Forget to go to committee meetings. Sign things only when people follow you to the bathroom waving them in your face. Let the mail pile up for days without looking at it (but obsessively check email). Skip lunch, but close the door and act like you went to lunch. Explain to the cats that what happens in the litter box stays in the litter box. Spend amazing amounts of time procrastinating by thinking about how much has to be done. Eat lots of sugar. Drink lots of coffee.

Did I miss anything?

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Players and Haters

And I thought I was burned out.

Um...if you really hate students so much, have you considered that you may in fact be in the wrong profession?

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


I know there's a lot of hatin' on Turnitin going on out there in the Composphere, and I am sympathetic. I really am. I had my students submit their research papers to Turnitin, though, and I think I'm glad I did. They submitted rough drafts, not final drafts. I wasn't trying to do a "gotcha" thing. I just wanted to have an object lesson in paraphrasing without subjecting myself to reading 3000 (bad) paraphrases.

It's worked out pretty well. They bring me their reports from Turnitin, and I tell them which parts really should be reworded and which parts strike me as insanely silly. It marks things like "in the United States," for example, as plagiarized.

I have noticed that no one yet has submitted a paper Turnitin said was 100% plagiarized. My theory is that the people who were planning to cheat have opted instead to just not turn anything in.

So if I have a point it's that automated plagiarism catchers can be made into useful exercises if the power to decide to take their advice or not is in the hands of the students. That is all I have to say.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

National Poetry Month

My first offering for National Poetry Month--Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting--
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Bad Deeds

This morning I kicked a lady out of my parking place. She was obviously not a student. She looked more like a distinguished guest, but I'm guessing she was here for a workshop or fund-raiser or some special event. She seemed very nice. The only thing I had against her was that she parked in my spot. I'm not that terribly attached to my spot, though I've been parking there a long time. I could find it in me to see other lots. It's just that if I park in another reserved spot, someone will get mad and call campus police. If I park in an unreserved spot, the students will get mad and key my car. It's a lose-lose situation.

And I bet you all thought I was a pretty nice person until you heard about me going all Nazi over reserved parking and making little, old ladies go park in the back forty and walk.

The whole thing made me wonder if parking is just as difficult on other college campuses as I remember and if anybody else out there has a love-hate relationship with reserved parking.

Also, by taking the time to post this, I've delayed getting started on grading by at least five minutes. :)

Monday, April 10, 2006

Write Five Paragraphs, or Lose Your Salvation!

A friend told me today that she once committed the blasphemy of telling her students that they did not have to have three supporting points, and only three and always three, in their essays. A student raised his hand and said, “But my teacher told me that it has to be three, like the Holy Trinity.”

Um…okay. The Father, The Son, and The Holy Thesis have spoken.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Volunteers Needed

I'm throwing this out there just in case...

As you may or may not be aware, there is still a whole lot of work that needs to be done on the Mississippi Gulf Coast to clean up and rebuild after Hurricane Katrina. Many of the families were poor before they lost everything they had. Many of them have lost their jobs and their vehicles in addition to losing their homes. Insurance companies are not always paying out in areas flattened by the storm surge. The only hope these families have of getting out of the cars, tents, and campers they are now living in and back into homes is through volunteer labor.

Often, people in academics have some time in the summer when they can get away. If you are one of those people, and you would like to volunteer, let me know.

If you know of any church groups, civic groups, student groups, or just groups of friends who could come down to work, let me know.

Of course, people who have some carpentry skills are much in demand as volunteers, but even I've been down working on houses, and if I can do it, anybody can.

Keep it in mind. If you can make it down during the summer to work, I will put you in touch with a church group that is working very hard in the recovery efforts. I'll even come pick you up at the airport and lend you a sleeping bag and a tent. :)

Oh, yeah...people need money to rebuild too. If you can't come, but you can help financially, I can put you in touch with the people who will put your dollars to very good use as well.