lunadelcorvo: (Ferocious rabbit)
Sorry I've been semi-away, but it was a very odd week. For one thing, it's finals for my college classes, and those always get squirrelly; papers to grade (so far actually pretty good this time, knock on wood!), and panicky students...

After my unpleasant Monday, things looked up a bit, in part because himself kept to himself. Then Thursday, I got his with I don't even know what; either the short-lived stomach bug from hell, or I ate something that disagreed with me, violently! I ended up calling in sick to my middle school classes (first time this school year), but was begged to come in for my evening 'other person in the building' shift anyway. Meh - three hours to play games and surf - I can do that. I did feel better by then, after a horrible morning. By Friday I was fine, though I felt like I'd run a marathon, and my stomach muscles were threatening mutiny....

I was able to take Friday easy, but then turned right around and worked my butt off in the yard on Saturday (for which my back has not stopped chastising me...ouch!) Still, good work was done...

Then Sunday was a brief D&D session with the kiddo, his friend, and my cousin. And grading papers. Have I mentioned I kind of hate grading papers? *sigh*

More than you ever wanted to know about my Struggle for the Yard (See, that's me, in the icon, holding back the ebil weeds...LOL): Read more... )

So first final exam given, one to go, then one school DONE! Huzzah!
lunadelcorvo: (DAO Alistair sexy)
Well, the summer is half over (ish) and I'm not sure how much I've accomplished.

I dropped the thesis. It's a long story, but I got painted in to a corner and sort of forced to make a hasty decision. I didn't want to do a second thesis, and I sure as hell didn't want to do it over the summer. The topic is good, but I found out fast that COMM theory doesn't really have the tools to do what I wanted to do. As I explained to one of my advisors, I can cook very well, and I can garden, but even I can't mow the lawn with a frying pan, and that's very much what it was feeling like. So it's tabled for now. Not sure what I will do with the COMM degree, or if I will finish it at all, but you know what? I have a degree, I have a great job teaching, I get fantastic peer reviews, so it's not going to keep me up nights.

I have been working with husbandman and some friends on starting a business. Wow, what a lot of work that is! I think it's going well, and I think we have a really great thing. We'll just have to see if it goes anywhere! But that's been taking up a lot of my time. It's satisfying; I'm getting to do a lot of really good design work, which I do miss, and I have been learning some new skills, too. Of course, the fact that husnabdman is out of the country (4 weeks) makes things harder! LOL

I am also teaching two new summer camps; web design and a movie making one. (NO, I'm not totally qualified, but for 15 hours I can keep middle schoolers busy on these things!) And the extra money over the summer is SO very welcome!

Planning to go to WindyCon with the Niblet this year. He actually asked to go and bring 2 friends for his birthday. So I booked a suite and we are planning costumes right now. He want to be the Demon Hunter from Diablo3, so I am putting myself through a crash-course on making armor! It's a lot of fun so far! Yes, will post pics once I get some stuff together. I'm thinking if I have time, I may do the Wizard from D3 to go along with him. Or maybe the Crusader? But I want him to have his costume first; I've had my day of stealing the show with a killer costume, I want him to have his turn. If I have time for a second one great, if not, that's fine, too.

You may know I have a possibly unhealthy love of RPG video games like Diablo and Dragon Age. And of course, the third installment in the Dragon Age series is due out on the fall. So I have dived into DA2, for the first time. I was really nervous that it wouldn't hold up against DA Origins (the first one), which has been SO important to me. (Heck, I'm giving an academic paper on it in fall!) And in some ways, it doesn't hold up. But nevertheless it's amazing and heartbreaking in so many wonderful ways. So that (and of course, the associated fan-fic binge) has also been eating up a good bit of my time!

And that's about it for now. I've got all manner of ranting and commentary n the political climate, but... I don't know. Some days, it's almost too stressful to get wrapped up in it all. I want to keep writing about it and dialoging and such, but some days I have to put it down. Can one rage-quit citizenship? Meh; maybe I'll put some posts up soon.
lunadelcorvo: (Summer light)
So, I will try to inaugurate my return to LJ not with a meme or quiz, as has been my wont, but with...just life. Here we go!

I'm done with classes for the summer. I got me evaluations, and they are pretty good. My numbers are still above national, institutional, and departmental averages. As far as comments, it's a mix, as it usually is. And it's rarely a surprise, either. There will be one or tow disengaged students that will whine about too much reading, too much writing, too hard, etc. Welcome to college! I'm a big pussycat compared to some of the best instructors I had; count your blessings, you lazy sots! The enthusiastic students will be complimentary, and occasionally offer legit critique or advice, which I actually welcome. The rest can barely be bothered to fill out the eval at all, and therefore refrain from comment. All my peer faculty assessments are glowing, so I'm tickled, all in all!

I'm doing this thesis thing (again!). Still not 100% sure WHY I'm putting myself through the thesis process again, but it's gong well, if slowly. I'm trying to use COMM theory to analyze early illustrated manuscripts of Dante's Divine Comedy. COMM theory is resisting. I'm (slowly) persevering. Good news is, once I beat the theory into submission, the rest is cake; I can talk Dante all day long!

I'm teaching the Photoshop summer camp for the third year, and I seem to have picked up two more, as well: websites and movies (egad! wish em luck on those; I know how to do both, but necessarily how to teach middle schoolers!). But it's quick and easy money, so no complaints!

Otherwise, I am chilling and enjoying the summer! Rather unlike many parents I talk to, I am actually thrilled when my kid is out of school; I hate sending him back in the fall! Although, we are really excited about this fall. He's going to a very small private school that bases its educational framework on classical education and Socratic method. They are amazing, and I am hoping this is what the Niblet needs. He's SO damned smart, but he hates school, largely because he sees he's getting crap for education. Here's hoping this gives him something to sink his teeth into!

So that's it. I'm relaxing between wrestling matches with the thesis, gaming a bit, doing a little Latin and Art with the Niblet, and just living. I like summer. :)
lunadelcorvo: (Dante Alighieri)
...and failing. A lot. Another friend said something that sounded right to me: my life is going pretty well, so I haven't been feeling the need to vent/rant/whinge as much these days. But, I do miss the simple act of chronicling my life, so I'm back, again, for another try.

It doesn't hurt that I'm in a digital media course. That kind of got me all nostalgic for the ol' LJ (which is of course, more DW these days, since LJ continues its drain-circling idiocy and malfunction....

So, what's what? Said digital media course, by the same instructor as my general media course last semester. This is good; she's pretty cool. I really enjoyed the last class more than I expected, so I'm pretty jazzed abut this one.... (It isn't every semester you get to do your semester term paper on a video game you love! w00t!)

And on the teaching front: Dante! At last! I am SOOOOOOO excited about this. At the absolute worst, it gives me a sterling excuse to re-read the entire Commedia start to finish, in detail. I haven't done that in a while. Plus the students seem pretty open and talkative, which is awesome!

I'm also doing another junior-level, a repeat of one I've done a few times, this time at another hospital as part of the RN->BSN program. This is a tough accelerated course, but the students are great, and it's half a semester. In, out, done! Never a bad thing. And I'm still taking Latin, which is good.

My scary little brain is still turning and churning PhD options, but there remain precious few within reasonable distance. There is a perfectly adequate (if not stellar) history PhD about an hour away. There is a truly stellar medieval history PhD an hour and a half away. And, there is a kick-a$$ Dante studies program 5 hours away. No really good options there.... The hour-and-a-half, stellar medieval program is really tempting, but oy. Not sure how I'd structure my life around that kind of commute, especially for the level of work I'd be doing. Phooey. Ah, well, I'll just bide my time, see what DH comes up with when the ink dried on his own PhD, and see what opens up.

Another reason I have stopped posting as much is that I have sort of stopped trying to do commentary on the political sphere. Not because I stopped caring, but because - well, it's almost too much. Where does one even begin to discuss how insane things are? Eh, I might try to get back into writing more (in my copious spare time, of course!)
lunadelcorvo: (Compass Rose Collage)
So finished all my teaching classes, except for finals (and grading of course - ugh!) Also finished up my grad media class! W00t! That was a fun class - did my semester research paper on Dragon Age, which was a lot of fun! (Any game geeks that want to wade through 30-odd pages of academic/geek speak, I'm happy to share...)

I still have a Latin final, but that's no big deal (I have a LOT of studying to do tho! Eeek!)

Speaking of Latin, I also have discovered a wonderful possibility for the niblet for hight school! It's a classical academy, and they base their teaching around Latin, Greek, the Socratic method, and a solid foundation in classic and classical literature. It's a challenging atmosphere, but it's really small, and I think he'd respond well. He's been so disenchanted with school, it's kind of heartbreaking, so I'm really hopeful about this!

In other, sadder news, we lost the grand matriarch of the family last weekend. She was my son's great, great grandmother, and a Winchester, no less! (Yes, those Winchesters...) Not many people get to say they spent time with 5 generations of family in one room! At 104 years old, she was still sharp as a tack, full of piss and vinegar, but equally full of laughter and wit, and a character like only she could be. What an amazing woman. I guess I had sort of started to think she'd be around forever... Here's to you, Sudie; we'll miss you, but with fondness.
lunadelcorvo: (Deadlines whooshing by)
What a year it's shaping up to be! Over the summer, hubby's grandmother has had her health decline rapidly. Actually, this has been along process for years; she had MD, and had been losing strength and mobility steadily for years. THis year it's really been accelerating. Worse yet, her husband, himself in his upper 80s has been unable to let go and put her n a proper nursing facility. One the one hand, I understand this, especially knowing him. He's the epitome of "pride goeth before a fall," except he thinks that means when your pride goes away, that's when you fall. It's meant a lot to him that he's cared for her for so long, and he doesn't want to give up and admit he can't any more. But really, he should have, for both their sakes. Now, however, she's been diagnosed with advanced bone cancer. She's in hospice, she's lost any real kind of coherence, and it's unlikely she'll ever regain it. Heartbreakingly, in her pain and delerium, she rails against Papaw for trying to get rid of her. I can see the damage that does to him every time she says it. He's said outright he doesn't want to go on without her; I suspect he won't.

Naturally, all of this is, as I said, inevitable. With a condition like hers, we all knew it would end like this. Which doesn't make it one whit less awful to see. And of course, it's bringing back the pain of my mother's death all over. So yay. I feel for hubby, too, as he recently had a good friend who had suffered a long-term illness call hi out of the blue to say goodbye. He said he'd taken a turn, and wouldn't be seeing him again. We found out a few days later he and his wife checked into the swankiest hotel in town, had champagne and then committed suicide together. I made the news. Now his grandmother is past the point of no return, and his grandfather is swearing he won't outlive her.

His father (my father in law) has also been left nearly blind by a failed eye surgery in one eye and a blown vessel in the other in about a four week period. So, universe, if you're listening, we're good now, no more surprises, yeah?

Otherwise, I suppose things are fine. I feel totally overwhelmed with work this semester, but I suppose that's not altogether new either, I really want to finish up the last of the kitchen because, as wonderful as it is, it's been the f-ing elephant on my shoulder for the better part of three months and I'm so ready to set it down. However, it's going to be 8 weeks before the tile comes in for the backsplash, (which yours truly is installing) so it's more or less never going to be finished. (First world problem, especially in light of all the rest, but it's the little ones that bug ya, ya know?)

And I so did not intend to make this a pity party sort of diatribe. Ah well, bucket dumped; look for a slightly more upbeat post next time!
lunadelcorvo: (Can it be A time now?)
This is sort of out of nowhere, but it's actually a long comment I left in response to a poll by "templeghosts" over on LJ. I ended up spending a bit of time on it and thought I'd share. I'm also curious as to your thoughts on this generally.

- I think everyone should go to college, if for no other reason than (here in the US, at least) elementary education has become astonishingly dumbed down. My son has been lucky enough to get into some of the best schools in our area (largely because of where we live; he is still in the public system), but the education he has received throughout has been rudimentary and shallow. As a professor, I also see freshman every year, and their lack of basic reading, writing, and thinking skills together with their overall lack of cultural literacy is appalling. The "basic education" one used to get by the end of high school now requires college. Someone mentioned an MA now being considered the benchmark that a BA used to be? Given the dearth of actual education students receive by the end of high school, that makes perfect sense.

- I also think that there should be some kind of mandatory waiting period BEFORE going to college. Nobody knows themselves well enough at 18 to decide the course of their own lives, and they often don't have a clue about how the world works. Make them go live on their own for a while, travel, practice being a self-sufficient proto-adult, THEN college.

- I do think tuition should be if not free, then affordable. The ways in which universities bilk students for ever more money makes me see red, especially in light of the cash cow that is college sports. Too often, the "academic side" of a university never sees a penny of that sports cash.

- I also think that NO degree program should be without foundational humanities/gen ed content. Yes, pre-med students DO need philosophy, pre-laws do need art, business majors (maybe more than anyone) need history. Maybe Plato and Napoleon have no direct bearing on performing surgery or negotiating a corporate merger, but I don't want to trust my body or my economy to myopic 'vocationally trained' automatons that have never heard of Plato or Napoleon...(or cracked a work of literature, or studied a painting in context). The same goes for basic science, literature, composition, logic, etc. The lack of education in these broad, general, culturally foundational areas is why we have politicians who have no clue what evolution is, or how climate change works, or how women get pregnant.

- No, I have not 'pushed' my son towards college. With two professors as parents, both of whom have completed at least one degree in his lifetime, I think it's inevitable; he sees, first hand, that education is its own reward, and already observes the disastrous lack of education in our public figures. He's also painfully aware of how little actual education he's getting (and he's even in the advanced program, which I note not to brag, but to point to the lamentable state of education at large), and is often frustrated by it.
lunadelcorvo: (Tea Spell High art)
Not much going on, but trying to stick to my (oft-repeated) determination to actually be here!

Classes are going really well; I've just begun to shake up my students, which is always very rewarding. In Utopia/Dystopia, they are having to come to grips with the idea that America is NOT the be-all of a perfect society! It's great when I can lead them to realize this in in their own - that's how minds open! And in Dev. of Christianity, we have just dealt with how little evidence we have outside of the bible for Jesus ever existing, and how very dodgy the biblical 'evidence' really is. Then we went right into an overview of 1st-3rd century heresies. It's funny how easily they can spot the logical inconsistencies there, compared to if I started them on contemporary stuff. But by the time we get to 20th century, they will be used to thinking critically - that, again, is where minds open. So good stuff all round!

Getting the countertops installed tomorrow! Yay; no more temporary counters of old cabinet doors! Of course this means I have to unhook the sink (again) and will need to re-plumb the new one...*sigh* Hopefully no more than one (maybe two) days of no kitchen sink.... First world problems again, I know. LOL

OK, geek moment: Picking up Diablo 3 for Xbox today (been playing on Mac for ages). Whee! Also SO totally psyched for updates on all my favorite games: D3 Reaper of Souls expansion, and Fable Legends both look *awesome!!!!* And still hopeful for Dragon Age: Inquisition - I adored Origins SO, SO, much, and DA:II just really didn't do a thing for me. (Maybe if I'd played it first, but it was a piss-poor followup to the awesome that was Origins...) SO yes - much squeeing for this little geek girl!

Oh, and tea. I'm in a huge tea phase right now - just got a big batch of Jasmine Dragon, and mixed up a new batch of my black tea/berry blend. Gonna float away at this rate, but what the heck - tea is good, right?
lunadelcorvo: (Medieval Scholar)
Well, almost. I have one stack of exams yet to grade, but I'm done with classes themselves, on both sides of the desk!

I had some amazing work from my students this term; I'm really proud and very impressed by a number of them! Who said you can't teach theory to freshmen? Then again, I had more people just blow stuff off than ever before! Whole research papers without a single citation, students not bothering to turn in research papers (20% of final grade! WTF?) or just taking half the semester 'off' and showing up for the exam. Weird. Still, on balance, a very satisfying semester teaching-wise.

I managed to pull off As in both my own courses, somewhat to my surprise in one case. You may recall the 'difficult' prof I mentioned earlier? The arrogant one, who also threatened to take a letter grade off because of my 'absences' a.k.a. going to and presenting at professional conferences. Um, hello? Isn't that kind of central to the business of academia, and THIS is why you want to dock my grade? Like I turned in any bit of work that wasn't an A.... Oi.

The other course was Comm Theory. On the one hand, it was pretty easy; I've studied half this stuff before in the context of the original theories, like Foucault, Sartre, Baudrillard, etc. On the other, it was kind of hard for me to take some of it seriously, more or less for the same reason. "Oooh, you figured out that people choose what to reveal and what not to reveal for reasons of power? That's nice; Foucault did that 20 years before you did, and did it better." On one of my essays RE this theory ("Privacy Management Theory") I attached a few pages of Foucault's chapter on confession and the perpetual spirals of power and pleasure. Arrogant, perhaps. The program seems to keep falling over itself at having an 'academic' in the program (the vast majority are business folks taking this as a first graduate experience for the sake of advancement in their jobs), so the professors I've worked with tend to appreciate that I take a different, and decidedly more 'academic' perspective even where I call bullshit on some of what they are teaching. *shrug* Works for me, I suppose.

I'm getting PhD hankerings again. Oi, again. LOL. First thing is going to have to be Latin - I really need to get my shoddy Latin up to snuff to even be considered most anywhere I want to go (options for which are severely limited by my location). Anything I do will involve a commute of some kind - the question is how far, and how often. So we shall see. No hurry, I can keep chipping away at this COMM MA for now, while I explore the possibilities.

Meanwhile - summer break! w00t! What the heck am I going to do with myself all summer! (OK, try to brush up Latin, but OTHER than that.....LOL)
lunadelcorvo: (DAO Alistair Steamy Bits)
I don't know where to start. For one thing, I've been sick as all get-out. Blech! Head feels like concrete, gunk in my throat and chest, coughing like a demented seal - I think I'm finally starting to shake whatever bug it is, but I'm exhausted.

My classes (taking) are meh. Only they are actually kind of meh with a vengeance. No really, something can, in fact, be aggressively meh, trust me. On the other hand, the ones I"m teaching are going great. I even got nominated for a faculty favorite award by a sorority on campus... o_O Never heard of it before, but it's kinda awesome!

Getting ready to buy a new iMac - w00t! So I'm combing over files and junk accumulated on my HD. I am a packrat! But cleaning house feels kinda nice, even if it'sonly the digital variety; I've been too sick to do the real kind, and I"m not looking forward to getting caught up once I fell better. And how much does that suck, anyway? "Feeling better? Great, here's the mop!" *sigh*

In game world I may be late to the party (seems I usually am, sadly) but I am so very deeply in love with Dragon Age:Origins. This game - if you remember my squeeing over Neverwinter Nights 2, this is much the same (same devs, even) but times a thousand! The depth and complexity of the plot decisions and the characters - I find it truly impressive. I just adore it. The world, the people - just wow. It is similar, I understand, to the connection a lot of people feel for the Mass Effect series (also same devs). I have not played that, because I'm kind of a Sword & Sorcery gal, but I might have to check it out.

What is bugging me is that the hubby totally does not get it. At all. To him, video games are a big waste of time and energy. If I were to try to explain to him how difficult it is to choose which contender to put on the dwarven throne, or told him that I really, truly cried when my character's parents died, he'd say that was the stupidest thing he'd ever heard. If I showed him that hundreds, thousands of people who felt similarly, or that spoke of how profoundly that game affected them, he'd say they were all losers who needed to get a life. And he wonders why I get defensive about my games?! Alas.

OK, wasn't trying to make this the game-angst post, so I'll leave it there for now....

(And yes, OK, I am very much smitten with Alistair, what does that have to do with anything? You know me and those paladin/templar/warrior types....)
lunadelcorvo: (Casavir (NWN2))
School is school. I have two classes to teach, and two I'm taking. I'm really enjoying the ones I'm teaching: History of Christianity and Theories of Religion. One is a 9 am, which is tough for getting the students to speak, but we're getting there.

The ones I'm taking are...odd. One is theory. And I am sure most you you know how I feel about theory; it has it's place and can be a powerful tool for understanding things. It is also wildly overused, irresponsibly used, and leads to more or less every stereotype of academic pretension going. So naturally, I have some ambivalence to begin with.

Then there is the whole nature of theory within the communication discipline. It's largely been pinched wholesale from here, there and everywhere, with nary a nod for its source. So here we are, nattering on about what is clearly Sartre's intersubjectivity, or Foucault's perpetual spirals of power and pleasure, only we are pretending Sartre and Foucault never existed. (Or worse, I'm the only one in the room who even recognizes the attribution.) But yet, we still stand on academic integrity. Huh.

Thirdly, this course is taught be a professer of whom I am quite fond, but who happens to be very much to the 'social science' end of the comm spectrum.Naturally, I am as far to the other end as it is possible to be, so it's sometimes hard to keep the right glasses on, if you take my meaning. She's awesome, and very well-respected at what she does, don't think this is in any way a dig. It's just a bit like trying to do philosophy in a chemistry class. I keep having to set aside everything about how I usually do things.

And finally, there is the fact that I"ve had theory courses aplenty, I've been slicing and dicing with theory for years now (I'm even teaching a theory course this semester!) and frankly the "Let's talk about what a 'theory' is" is putting me to sleep. I should be grateful - easy course, yeah? One of these days I'll figure that one out; meanwhile, I'm hungering for a challenge!

Then there is the movie class. Just odd. But I plan on writing my first paper this weekend, getting it in early, and then starting on the big final project. Neither of these are intimidating. Sorry, but a five-page analysis of a theme in a film just doesn't intimidate me.

I do have my conference, which I am pleased as punch about. (If you didn't see it on FB, I've been invited to present at the International Conference on Medieval and Renaissance Thought in April. I'm presenting a paper on the theology of eating in Dante's Divine Comedy.) It's been a while, and I'm really glad to be doing some serious academic work. I've also been asked to participate on a panel as an adjunct faculty representative at my uni, which is a very good sign, particularly since the academic dean, who is also my boss, is the one who recommended me to the organizers! Oh yeah, credibility, here I come!

In other news, I am having so much fun with all the new (to me) games I got for Xmas! I'm loving Diablo 3 to bits. As with many games I tend to enjoy, the touches of humor and wit really give the game some dimension, and after D2 (which I still play) the graphics are breathtaking. So is the sound! Wow! I've never made a habit of using headphones to play, but D3 really does its audio well! I have also gotten a full version of Baldur's Gate (which I played the hell out of back in the day) on the iPad (imagine!).

And of course there's Dragon Age, and yes, I am head over heels for Alastair, I admit it. He's heroic, a little damaged, deeply determined (as all those paladin/templar/warden types I fall for are) but sensitive (ditto). However, he's also sarcastic and snarky sometimes rather adorably dorky. (Look at that WTF? eyebrow. Gotta love it!)

I always really got a kick out of Steve Valentine, Alastair's voice actor, as Nigel on Crossing Jordan, and he does a really masterful job of making Alastair into a dimensional character. (So often these stoic-heroic types are utterly one-dimensional; it's a running joke about the 'captain cardboard' paladin.) I heard the studio wanted Nathan Fillon (whom I also love) to voice Alastair, but I can't see it. The writing is quite good in this game overall, but a lot of Alastair's dialog, especially the funnier bits, would have totally fallen flat without the voice acting. Valentine managed to hit the right blend of goofy, snarky, and sensitive that just works. Very much fun!

Oh, and finally, after years of various jerry-rigged contraptions to keep from sleeping on a mattress on the floor (something I've always hated) we finally have a bed! It gets delivered tomorrow! Here it is: The Royal Bed Whee! So excited!
lunadelcorvo: (Saucy Vintage Lady)
So my first grad film class was Thursday. Apparently, each student takes a class in which they lead discussion on the chapters read for that class, beginning with the very second class. When the prof asked for volunteers, naturally, no one said anything, so I volunteered. For one thing, I do this stuff every day; I'm really just not intimidated by getting up in front of a class-roomful of strangers. And second, I will always go first if possible - the bar is low, and then you're done, and can sit back and smirk at everyone else's nerves.

So my topic is the very first years of film, from the 1890s up to about 1920. Very interesting, actually. Of course, the first thing (well, maybe not the FIRST, but pretty early) I thought of was "What about the porn?" I mean, whenever mankind has come up with a new technology, someone almost immediately thinks of a way to adapt it to sex. It happened with photography, it happened with the internet, it probably happened when the first person realized he cold make a picture by dragging a stick through the mud. But the textbook was utterly silent on the subject. (Well, they mentioned that early films were used in vaudeville shows, and that people found the "flickers" to be disreputable overall, but that's it.)

Curious (as a good scholar ought to be) I did some digging, and found out that I was right. From the first mechanical flip-card machines (mutoscopes), to the first loop-film players (kinetoscopes) adult content was not only there, but according to some, the only reason these things got enough money to stick around. And once longer films came out - whoo-boy! Ain't nothing out there on the internet today that they weren't filming from the get-go; gay, straight, group, you name it! There is some serious, hard-core stuff out there from as early as 1905!

What's really funny, is that these shaky, silent, black and white films, raunchy as they are, still have a bit of that sense of innocence that early film has. (Well, OK, the one where the guy is getting a blowjob and his mustache falls off, which he hastily hides behind his arm and reattaches, never missing a beat *might* have something to do with this...) But it's kind of funny overall. Not sure it would work as porn in this day and age, but still, pretty interesting.

The real dilemma, of course, if whether I mention this in my class discussion! Watch this space.....
lunadelcorvo: (Academic Terms)
I still, despite my resolve, have not been posting as much. For one thing, I don't really have much to add to the political discourse these days. I mean, really, the satire pretty much writes itself these days. And I have gotten a little burned out on it. One can only keep up the incredulity and outrage for so long. Call if outrage fatigue, if you will. Sadly, I think this is one reason the whackos get away with as much as they do. They spring something outrageous, everyone goes apeshit, so they wait out the uproar and then do it anyway.

Classes are going pretty well. It's funny how I have the same exact class as last fall, still with 1st semester incoming freshman, and it's a whole different dynamic. They talk! It's pretty wonderful, really. It's also funny how little different juniors are from freshman, which is somewhat less wonderful. Reading the first round of essays by my 300s was, I must confess, a bit of a let-down.

Then there's my own classes. Feels weird being a student again. Of course the fact that I am really in no sense in tune with this discipline doesn't help. Comm tends to lead the pack in trying to emulate hard science, which is a methodology I don't speak. I mean, I get it, and when it comes to things like global warming, reproductive legislation (how wrong is it that this is even a term?) evolution, etc., I'm all in favor of it. I'm just not convinced statistics, focus groups, and data tabulation have much use in studying Dante, ya know?....

Alas, just as I get typing a real entry, the alarm reminds me it's off to class..... Cheers, all!
lunadelcorvo: (Foucault discourse)
(They are gonna get good and riled over this one!) I recently assigned an essay where my students have to advance a position either in agreement or disagreement with Calvin's Predestination. I have gotten a couple of questions, and my classes have struggled with this essay in the past, so I decided to give them some nudges. It's a care theological question, and one which, to my mind, exposes some of the inherently irrational nature of 'traditional' thinking on the subject of God. So I thought I'd share:

"In response to a student question on Essay 3, I thought is might be helpful to share part of my response.

Consider the augments for predestination we have discussed in class, according to Calvin's Formulation (Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Irresistible Grace, Limited Atonement, Perseverance of Saints) as well as anything you have learned or experienced that seems to argue against it. Then choose a position, and argue it using the critical thinking with which we began our course. Regardless of which side you choose, however, you need to argue your case from a logical, rational, critically-based position, not solely from a faith perspective. Naturally, your position may be informed by your experiences or things you have learned, but one cannot make a rational argument based only on belief.

As you proceed be careful; whether you argue for or against predestination, you must address the very real questions and corollaries that each a position entails. If you argue for predestination, it follows that one does not have the choice to believe or not believe; that too is predestined. Effectual calling turns you to belief irresistibly, you cannot 'not believe.' This is a very different thing than feeling you are a believer because you have been raised to be a believer, or feel strongly about your belief.

If one is predestined to be as you are today, are you in effect, 'running on a rail,' following a course set out for you? Are you able to deviate from that course? If you argue for predestination, you must also defend the fact that you are unable to deviate from the course set out for you, much as a train cannot deviate from its track. You may regard decisions along the way as forks in the track, but remember, it is not the train that chooses which route it will take, but the switcher, who routes trains where he wants them to go. Similarly, if salvation is predestined, and grace is irresistible, you do not choose which route you will take; the Holy Spirit moves you in that direction irresistibly. This does in effect deny free will, or at least functional free will (e.g. you can want to deviate from the course set out for you all you like, but you cannot actually do so).

Consider, too, how the notion of God having a plan for each individual life interacts with predestination. Is God's plan for you like those rails, from which you cannot deviate? Or do you have the free will to choose only among possible routes on those tracks? What if you choose a path that does not take you to your predestined destination? Could you even choose such a route? Or is it God's plan a 'plan' in the same way that we might make vacation plans, only to be foiled by the unexpected? Can things turn out differently than God plans them? Can we 'surprise' God? Can we 'foil' God's plans, by will or by accident? If we cannot, can we really say we have free will?

But if we can make choices which God does not expect, does not desire, or did not plan, then we are back to Elie Wiesel's question in the face of the Holocaust, and that of Europe in the face of the Black Death - if God is not in control, then why call him God? If we have the free will to act in ways that God does not anticipate, can we say that God is omniscient? If we have the ability to do things God does not want us to do, or to violate his plan, is he omnipotent? Certainly we would think God's plans far better devised than our own, so how could they go wrong merely because of choices we humans might make? If the fate of each soul is NOT predestined, is God able to save all humans, but chooses not to? Or is he unable to? These are some questions you must address if you argue against predestination.

Remember, these are difficult questions, and theologians have debated them for centuries. However, as scholars and thinkers, as people with curiosity and intellectual honesty, we cannot choose to back down from questions because they are difficult. We cannot simply shrug our shoulders, call it a mystery and walk away. Don't feel you need to solve the riddle (you'd be the first in human history to do so), but reflect on the problem with reason and critical thinking, not faith. Remember, for the purposes of our course, we approach questions as thinkers, not believers."

(P.S. I will take this chance to strongly urge each and every one of you to read Max Weber's Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. It is an absolutely seminal work, and one that I think is of supreme importance an relevance in Western Society, now more than ever. It's a dense read, but worth the work. Really. Go, buy it now! :D
lunadelcorvo: (Keys)
The Good:

- Being a professor, can, if you get on the right mailing lists, mean free books, in just the subjects you love! 'Examination copies' are the best!

- I am loving my new browser. Safari has become an overweight slob, and much as I love it in some ways, I have had enough of the spinny beachball of doom to last a lifetime, kthnxbai. So I took Opera for a spin. Fast, lightweight, very secure. Yay! (It's amazng how much difference this makes in my day, really. Alarming, in fact.)

- I am becoming quite addicted to Pinterest! If anyone else is on it, let me know. If you want an invite to join the insanity fun, I'd be happy to invite ya!

- I am making home made laundry, dish and hand soap. It's easy, and cheap, and more or less chemical free. Time will tell if they work - watch this space.

The Annoying:

- I know I have been letting my son watch more TV than I/we would prefer. I have also been suffering from some ghastly, weather-driven sinus-chest-cough-sneeze plague for weeks now, thank you very much. It's damn easy to tell me I shouldn't and then neglect to offer options, Mr. Teaches 10 classes and is never home.... Argh. Can I get back to my life and breathing soon?

- Related to the above, global warming deniers are cordially invited to kiss my butt. Global warming is rapidly rendering my already allergy-laden hometown unlivable by allergy-ridden me! Can I please have a little winter, just to kill off the last year's crud before a new crop springs up?! And I am SO not looking forward to mosquito hell unless we get a really serious freeze....

- Who knew it's as hard to get into Middle School as it is some colleges? Sheesh! Transcripts, references, essays... It's 6th grade people!

The Unexpected:

- The Spanish Inquisition (sorry, had to; contractually obligated, you understand)

- I may end up a student again. *sigh* I am both tickled and... not by this. I can get a second MA, for free, at the uni where I teach. (I get full class-for-class tuition credit.) There are not a lot of grad programs, but there is Communication. OK, yes, I think an undergrad major in Comm is kind of like 'rocks for jocks,' it's true. But at the grad level with the experience I have? I can kind of make it anything I want it to be. I can certainly use it to do work with the Religious Right in the media, which (if you read here much) I already do a lot. And I think I can even do some interesting stuff with medieval studies. Did I mention free? Besides, it will make those pesky loans go away for a while, too. And, free!

- This one belongs under 'The Good' but wouldn't have made sense until you'd seen the above. My boss (at my uni) literally submitted my letter of reference LESS THAN TWO HOURS after I first e-mailed him about it, entirely out of the blue! And he seemed almost giddy about the idea of my enrolling there. This was a week ago, and I'm STILL waiting for the other one(s) to come in from my alma mater. Just goes to show....

- I keep wanting to make a timely and relevant post about the current political situation, but every time I get something started, someone does something even MORE outrageous and dunder-headed, so I keep having to start over. Working on real content, promise!
lunadelcorvo: (Candleflame)
Wow. I cannot believe it is only 10 days til Christmas, halfway through December, and the end of the year! WTF happened to 2011!?

My classes are all wrapped up for another semester, grades turned in, and all that's left is to archive all my files for next semester. This semester was a learning experience, that's for sure! One class was great, really top-shelf students. Attentive, responsive, engaged, thoughtful. The other one...was not. I just didn't know what to do with that class - I changed tactics, I swapped out turned in essays for in-class work, I gave loads of extra opportunities to earn extra credit... Nothing could get them motivated. Horse, water, only so much you can do, I suppose... I am so glad I had the other class to prove that it wasn't just me! I suspect when my evaluations come back, it will show that they thought little more of me than I did of their participation. (Another reason to be glad for the other to balance it all out!) True, I did have a couple success stories; there are a couple Bs in that group that are more rewarding to me as a teacher than the As in my other class. This spring it's back to just one, so here's hoping it's a good one! It will be my third time teaching the same course, so perhaps that will help.

Otherwise, things are good. I miss my mom so terribly much during this season. I'm so deeply connected to my family via tradition, especially holiday tradition, that almost every holiday thing I do is a stinging reminder that I'm the last one left. But oddly, it hasn't been as hard as I expected it to be. Now I admit, maybe I have an explosion of 'losing my mom' baggage lurking under the surface, but so far, it's been what seems to me a healthy mix of tears and happy memories. (Then again, I always tear up around the holidays! So, I'm a sentimental sot, what of it?)

Maybe it's because it doesn't seem like it's been just a year. OK, I know I just said the year just vanished, but at the same time, everything is so different now. Last year at the holidays I was writing madly to get my thesis done, fighting the powers that be, and writing a final on Italian Art! Now I'm grading papers. It seems like two different lifetimes, almost.

But all in all, things are good. I'm getting ready to begin the holiday baking frenzy, the tree is trimmed, the gifts are wrapped, the house is (well about one third) clean. Niblet has today and tomorrow of school, and then it's full into break. Things are....good. I am, only a little surprisingly, good.
lunadelcorvo: (Run screaming)
Grrr. Just grr. Why? I don't know, just 'cause.

Still coughing my fool head off and getting short of breath every damned five minutes - yuck. Plus fatigue like whoa. I am exhausted, full time, which sucks big hairy you-know-whats through a straw. For serious. I love fall, but it hates me, apparently.

One of the interminable lot of persnickety grandmothers decided to buy us a new bed mattress set, which is lovely, but we were not consulted on it, and really? If I'm going to sleep on it, I'd like to have some input in selecting it. Not to mention, even though we need a new set, I wanted to wait until we could actually get a bed to put them on, which we do not have. Gift horse dentistry aside, could we have maybe talked about this? Planned it out a little? I mean, thanks, but well, damn.

I just do not even have any freaking idea what to do with my life. PhD or not to PhD? Where? Drive 90 minutes each way 3x a week, or say the heck with it? I can't go forever teaching just one or two classes, much as I love doing so, and am pathetically grateful for the chance to do so. Still; bills, baby! And if I don't do that PhD, gonna be some pretty sizable student loan bills comin' round, yo. So I either need to get back into school, or get some grown up money going on.

So while I ponder my money-making options (in the worst economy more or less ever - yay that), I'm looking for conferences to send paper proposals to, and considering substitute teaching (gulp!). I have my doubts about this, really. I mean, the money is OK (not great by any means, but OK), but really, me in a room full of 6-year-olds? More specifically, in a room full of 6-year-olds none of which are mine? I.... dunno... Plus, really early mornings, so not my strong suit. And how in the heck we'll manage Niblet drop off/pick up, I have no freaking clue....

So yep, could be oodles worse, but kinda feeling like the world is spinning a good bit faster than I can run, and it's only a matter of time before I go flying....
lunadelcorvo: (Geek is Sexy Willow)
OK, yes, I am one of those (likely insufferable) geeks who actually gets a huge charge out of going to lectures at symposia and universities and such. (Shocked, aren't you?) Well, I just got a double dose of October geek heaven!

October 6: Eastern KY University, Chautauqua Lectures: Richard Dawkins, "The Magic of Reality"

October 10: University of Kentucky Boone Symposium: Bart Ehrman, "Are Faith and History Compatible?"

*dances happily* Dawkins everyone knows (love or hate him, everyone knows him!) but Ehrman is a prominent scholar of Biblical textual history. His specialty is in researching the history of the Bible AS a text, with all its inconsistencies, edits, mistakes, etc. In fact, he started out as a fundie, but from years of studying the texts of the Bible, he became an agnostic. I've read several of his books, including two specifically recommended to me by Dr. Slavin, whom you may recall is one of my all-time favorite professors. (In fact, I think I will e-mail him and let him know about the lecture.)

I am terrifically excited! I'm also offering my students extra credit for going to either one if they bring proof and write a short summary/reaction paper to the talk(s). Best of all, Niblet is going too, and he, too is very excited.

w00t!
lunadelcorvo: (Can it be A time now?)
1. The Arian Doctrine (a) is alive and well in Christianity today, as most people don't think Jesus is divine. (I have gotten four papers making this claim this week alone.)

2. Most Christians believe that human souls reincarnate into the first living being they come across, be it human, dog, cat, whatever, (c) just as the Cathars believed. (d) However this is wrong because it "can alternate someone's knowledge of what's right and what's wrong."(e)

3. The Episcopal Church split from the Catholic Church in the early 2000s.

4. Priests and ministers today are not concerned with wealth or greed, and the materialism of the medieval church has thankfully been done away with. Likewise, the priesthood lives a far more moral, pure and ethical life than in the past. (f)

5. A personal greeting from the pastor gives a churchgoer a warm and sinister feeling. (g)

6. Harold Camping's end of the world predicament caused a lot of trouble, but was only one of many such predicaments foretelling the end times.

Some days, I hate grading papers. *headdesk*


NOTE: I had to go from asterisks to letters, because once you get up to four or five asterisks, it's just silly.

(a) Named after its intellectual father, Arius, the Arian(b) doctrine teaches that Jesus is a created being, neither fully divine nor of one substance with the father. It was condemned as a heresy by the council of Nicea, thus the origin of the Nicene Creed, recited weekly at an overwhelming majority of Christian churches of all stripes. Ironically, all of my students claim to in fact BE Christians, despite not having a clue what they believe.

(b) Not to be confused with the doctrine of the Aryan Race, the pro-white drivel popularized by the Third Reich. I am actually quite surprised this has not yet happened.....

(c) Wasn't this the premise of a movie with Denzel Washington, but wasn't it some demon that did this?

(d) No, they didn't. They believed you would be born again as a human just as before, and that this was the worst fate imaginable, as the aim of Catharism was to purify the spirit of all taint of the filth of the material world.

(e) Yes, I know it looks like this sentence is written in English, but that just shows how dumb you are and how clever my students are! (I'm currently holding a translation contest: submit your entry on the back of a $20.)

(f) Clearly, my students have never heard a news broadcast.

(g) Actually, on this one, I couldn't agree more!
lunadelcorvo: (Medieval Scholar)
(Originally posted at the Washington Monthly)

Apparently the Pope is now criticizing what he sees as an increasingly vocational concern in higher education. At a meeting of university professors in Madrid last week, Pope Benedict XVI said:
At times one has the idea that the mission of a university professor nowadays is exclusively that of forming competent and efficient professionals capable of satisfying the demand for labor at any given time. One also hears it said that the only thing that matters at the present moment is pure technical ability.

This sort of utilitarian approach to education is in fact becoming more widespread, even at the university level, promoted especially by sectors outside the university. All the same, you who, like myself, have had an experience of the university, and now are members of the teaching staff, surely are looking for something more lofty and capable of embracing the full measure of what it is to be human. We know that when mere utility and pure pragmatism become the principal criteria, much is lost and the results can be tragic: from the abuses associated with a science which acknowledges no limits beyond itself, to the political totalitarianism which easily arises when one eliminates any higher reference than the mere calculus of power. The authentic idea of the university, on the other hand, is precisely what saves us from this reductionist and curtailed vision of humanity.
Wow. Benedict actually said something I agree with.... (So how will we protect our aircraft and overhead lines from all those newly winged pigs?)

Seriously though, much as I hate to admit it, and even though I doubt Benedict's idea of 'something more lofty' bears any resemblance to mine, I agree that post secondary education has increasingly moved away from creating broadly educated, well-read people capable of cultural literacy and critical thinking to turning out trained technicians. And I think this has been to our detriment.

Granted I speak as a professor in the Humanities, but it seems that our public is dangerously lacking in either contextual understanding of current affairs, or the ability to employ reason, logic, and critical thinking to evaluate claims, be they claims of politicians or corporations.

It is the long-standing trope that pre-med or business students rail against the burdensome requirements of courses in philosophy, literature, and the like. But when we yield to these rants, do we not produce doctors and business men with no understanding of anything beyond the tools of their trades? Don't we want a society peopled with thoughtful professionals? True, one may not need to have read Plato to perform surgery. But perhaps Plato might have relevance to when to suggest it in favor of a different approach, or to finding empathy with a patient. Having read Orwell may not enhance one's understanding of markets, but does Orwell have nothing to say to those who shape markets?
lunadelcorvo: (Academic Terms)
[Error: unknown template qotd]MY main language, aside from English of course, is German. I have also studied French, Hebrew, and most recently Italian, which I plan to continue this year. I get free credits at the uni where I teach, and expanding my language base seems a good use of them! (Now if only they taught Latin, I'd be in seventh heaven...)
lunadelcorvo: (Default)

I am a big fan of PBS in general. So when a documentary series covering the history of the Inquisition and some of the major heretical movements in medieval Europe showed up on my Netflix recommendations list, I was cautiously optimistic. (I say cautiously because so far, in my experience, history documentaries tend to be dismal in terms of you know, actual history, having instead an alarming and overwhelming tendency to favor sensationalism over fact every time.) But being PBS, I thought the chances of some actual history leaking in were good. Ah, hope springs eternal! Sadly, I was disappointed.

Read the review below the fold )
lunadelcorvo: (Badass is in!)
And some of them are awesome! I got another class for fall, and the chair told me it was up to me if I wanted to just do another section of the same course, or, in his words "try something different." (That kind of trust and freedom is why I LOVE LOVE LOVE teaching at this university!) So I gave it some thought, and decided to try something completely new and different. Here's the 'official' course description:
Utopia/Dystopia
Literature is full of imagined worlds, some appealing, others terrifying. In this course we will survey Utopias and Dystopias from a variety of sources ranging from Greek myth to Thomas More’s Utopia, the plays of Henrik Ibsen to George Orwell’s Nineteen-Eighty-Four. We will also look at selected examples of utopia/dystopia from popular film and television. The emphasis will be on critical reading of literature, and a thoughtful, unbiased cultural interpretation of utopian/dystopian fiction as revealing social commentary.

In terms of contemporary relevance and critical thinking, we will consider both what an ideal world might look like (and whether such a thing is possible) and what the dystopian visions we encounter tell us about our own fears and the dangers of the societies we hold dear.

In addition to extensive in-class discussion, and several short response or reflection essays, students will apply research skills, thesis selection and argument formation to the completion of a research paper. The research project will include the preparation of a proposal and presentation of their work to their classmates in addition to the final paper.
I haven't quite decided what sort of film/TV I will bring in yet, but I am thinking Blade Runner and The Matrix for film and Dollhouse and Firefly for TV are all top contenders. For Ibsen, I think I will do either A Doll House or Hedda Gabler together with The Master Builder.

The chair said it sounded wonderful, and I am really quite psyched - these are some of my favorite works, so I am totally jazzed to be teaching them! So yeah, sometimes, life is grand!
lunadelcorvo: (Summer Violets)
(In other words, nothing terribly entertaining to report.)

I got a second raised bed built in the back, I am working on another in a back corner for some shade flowers (foxglove, bleeding hearts, lilly of the valley, etc.). I pulled out some rather ugly and sprawling hostas from either side of the front walk, and moved them under the tree in the front lawn (less grass to have to cut if they sprawl there!) and put in an azalea on one side and a small juniper on the other. I still have a few other flowers to plant along the front porch.

Once my seedlings sprout and get big enough, I will plant the second raised bed with peppers, beans, and cucumber. I'm hoping to go snag enough mulch and soil to put tomatoes along the back fence, too. Of course, it also needs to stop raining long enough for me to be able to dig! I am hoping to get everything I have planted this week, weather allowing.

Of course I do stop and teach now and then, which is going so well! Just finished student presentations of their research papers, and for the most part I'm pleased! A few groaners, but generally very good work. Then yesterday we covered the 'spiritual warfare' movement, and they were suitable dumbfounded that people actually go places (from New jersey to Mt. Everest) to battle demons.... I am hopeful that several minds have been cracked open, and some serious questions have begun to be asked. If so, my work here is done!

I told the 'for profit' university thanks, but no thanks. While the cash would have been nice, I feel SO much better having it off my back. Nothing about the whole thing ever felt right, so I'm happy to be free of the whole sordid business!
lunadelcorvo: (Default)
Well, I had my chair in to evaluate my teaching today. *collapses in nervous heap* I wasn't really too wigged about it before hand, and class went fine, but I find I'm a little wound up now, after the fact!

I think it went well. We ended early, but we were reviewing for our mid-term exam, so not much to do about that. It's hard to leave time for students to ask questions, but at the same time, be sure to use all your time.... But my reviewer said he understood, and he seemed pleased. He asked some questions about how the students participate, but said it was good that they were asking questions, and didn't seem afraid to do so. He asked if I had any that just wouldn't talk, and I said there were a few that had only piped up occasionally. He asked if I would pick a student that hadn't talked, and I said I didn't think it was my place to put anyone on the hot seat, but that I would say something like "OK, anyone but these three" or whatever, if I kept getting answers from the same few students. He seemed to like that a lot, too.

Given that the topic is religion, he asked if I was surprised at their (lack of) background knowledge. I said I was sometimes quite surprised, and had had to make some adjustments on that basis. Then I told him I had had them write a mini-bio first thing, and I was really pleased to see that no one had been at all judgmental, but there was a lot of exchange going on between students of different backgrounds. I think he really dug that. He also said he saw good signs (asking questions, taking notes, looking back in their notes in order to offer answers, that kind of thing). He also seemed to like the way I structured the exam, in that I tried to focus on having them make connections in material over just regurgitating facts.

So, I think I've done the best possible, and I shall simply have to wait and see how it comes out in the written report.... (And I'm clam as can be about it. Really. I am, honest....)
lunadelcorvo: (Manuscript in hand)

The Visconti Hours, National Library, Florence (Slipcase Edition)

by Millard Meiss


This is a gorgeous volume, not quite a facsimile edition, but a richly reproduced selection of plates from one of the most lavishly illustrated Books of Hours. There is a brief but very informative introduction, which presents not only the manuscript itself, but the background of the Visconti family. It is always good to know background, especially with Books of Hours, as they tended to be customized for their owners, but in this case, the background adds immeasurably to the experience of the illuminations.

The Visconti family employed one of my favorite coats of arms: a basilisk devouring a human child. Not only is this a delightful commentary of the rather ruthless nature of the Italian clans in the middle ages, it survives today, on the front of every Alfa Romeo ever made. So it is particularly interesting that the Viscontis, and this Visconti in particular, motivated by an intense desire to legitimize his position (not quite legitimately attained) as Duke, saw fit to plaster that very insignia all over his personal prayer book, making it rather like a game of ‘Where’s Waldo,” assuming of course, that Waldo is a suitable name for a child-devouring basilisk.

On a more serious note, however, the commentary which accompanies each plate makes this an excellent volume for the study of manuscript illumination, and of Books of Hours. If I have a quibble (and it is a minuscule one), it is that the metallic ink, intended to accent those areas which are embellished with gold leaf in the original, cannot begin to convey the glory to which it refers. I might almost prefer to have the unaccented image, lest the poor pigments available damn the original with faint praise. Then again, photographing gold leaf reliably is notoriously difficult, so perhaps the spot ink serves to clarify rather than dim, in which case, I am happy to have it.

In any case, this is a beautiful book, lovingly crafted with regard to both content and production. It’s a volume that should appeal to those with artistic as well as historic interest in medieval manuscripts.

lunadelcorvo: (Golden Gem)
But things are coming slowly back to life.... Bit of shuffling about with fall classes (and may I say how nice it is that this means teaching, not taking these days?) but it will fall out as it will. Honestly, I'm not worried, and I'll enjoy whatever I end up with. (I am totally going to keep working on that Dante Social Justice course though!)

My class is going great so far; I'm really enjoying it. We are finally past all the intro & background (a few snow days will mess up the most carefully plotted syllabus!) and into the real material, and I finally have them talking! Yay! Second stack of papers to grade this evening/tomorrow. This is new enough that I am tickled by it. Give me a year, and I'll be moaning in proper academic tradition, never fear...

Got a new phone (per previous post) and am liking the tech shiny. Yes, it's a 'droid (no iPhone for me - I'd love one, but AT&T IS the evil empire....) Mine, unlike the photo, is a most pleasing shade of purple-burgundy. (Purple smart-phone - yay!) I am now trying to find a hard-shell case for it that does not simply scream 'bling-addled-Twilight-wannabe-fluffball." This is far harder than one might think, so I am thinking basic black may be the answer. Nevertheless, my inner magpie is most pleased, but can someone please tell me where the hell the apostrophe is? *snerk*

Otherwise, there's a few pen happenings coming up that I am ridiculously excited about. I shan't go into the gory details of nib-grinding, section removal, or plunger gaskets; suffice to say it's good days for this pen-geek. Oh, and finally, I will keep it brief, but as a former Cheddar-head, I have to say: Way to go, Packers! My grandpa would be proud!
lunadelcorvo: (Golden Eye)
So, I know I haven't been here much, but I feel as though I'm starting to get back to it. I have been doing some housecleaning around here, too. I cut a bunch of old communities, and I also trimmed the f-list of a handful of journals that haven't been updated in about a year and a half. I think most of them now have journals under different names, and a few have just gone on to other things... (If you were cut and you want to be added back, just let me know!)

There is a post about my mom coming soon, and there will be many more to follow it, I am sure. (I'll probably lj-cut them, since they likely won't be happy ones...) Suffice to say, it's just insanely awful and heartbreaking, but I'm dealing. The hardest part (well, sometimes, there's a lot of hardest parts, really. They sort of take turns.) is knowing it should not have happened this way. There has been so much negligence with her care; it's really infuriating. I'm documenting everything now...

My class is going well so far, and I'm really enjoying it. I may lose one of the ones for fall, but if so, I can always offer it up next time, so it's cool. I may put some feelers out for other schools, too. I'm just really happy to be teaching, at last.

Otherwise, things have been surprisingly....well, calm seems the wrong word given the circumstances, but I'll be darned if I can think of a better one....
lunadelcorvo: (Medieval Halp)
Funny how life kicks you in the head, then hands you a treat. In the midst of the chaos surrounding my mom, I find out I have three courses to teach for fall. One is an intro to American Christianity, the other two are bona fide medieval studies courses! This is really, really awesome. And I'll be really really excited about it any time now... Naw, I really am happy, it just seems odd right now.
lunadelcorvo: (Badass is in!)
What do you know. It's official, done, finished, over. Paper approved, grade entered, semester finished, requirements met, degree awarded. I have a Master's degree. With all the kerfluffle, I'm not sure it's sunk in yet. There hasn't been a 'yowza yahoo' moment, but every time I remind myself (which I do have to do, rather often, in fact), I get this quiet, if intense, shit-eating grin.

And I have had my second day of class, and I like it! "Professor" sounds kind of nice in front of my name, if I do say so myself. I have a small group, which is fine, and they are freshman, most of whom don't like to talk. I hope to open some of them up with time. So yeah. I'm currently holding office hours.* I'm not sure, but I think that's really, really, awesome....

Really, the only drawback I currently have is my concern over my mom. She's got an even bigger array of tests set up over the next week or so than she did over the summer. Having the same cancer appear elsewhere when they thought they got it all out of her lung? Not a good sign. The whirlwind of doctor's appointments starts Thursday. Send her good vibes, and if you have a few left over....

So after I leave here, I'm going to go see her for a bit. Tomorrow I don't have class, but we are having a new dishwasher delivered, so who knows when that will be. This is a very good thing, BTW, because what we have now; is not a dishwasher so much as a dishmoistener. And, since we now own the joint (and we had a kind donor who chipped in!) we decided to invest in a good one; stainless steel interior, steam, the whole nine yards. Being the soul in charge of dish-related maintenance, I find this a very good thing! (Small consolations, yeah?)

*(Yeah, OK, only a n00b hold office hours the first week, so what?)
lunadelcorvo: (Xmas-Rudolph)
Getting back into this thing called life, and so far, it's kind of nice! I've been doing a lot around the house - decorating, cleaning, getting hastily moved piles of stuff sorted at last...

I got the niftiest little space heater for the family room; it looks like a wood-burning stove, and it has those odd lights that look like a fire. It's cheesy, but I love it! And this is now one of the warmest rooms in the house! Yay!

I spent several hours in the basement getting the workbench and all the tools arranged and sorted today. Hubby now has a full set of tools he can take to various projects without leaving me tool-less and irritated. Plus, I now have a nice clean Ms. Fix-it space. W00t!

Father-in-law is recovering from surgery, and doing really well, and Mom is still waiting to hear the results of the biopsy - which reminds me, time to chase that down! But she feels fine, and she's really excited about the new facility she'll be moving into in January.

It's funny - I feel like I've been sort of keeping quiet about everything until I was done with school, even unrelated things. I do have a bit of venting to get off my chest, but that can keep until my revisions are approved. Still, it's weird to think I won't be taking classes in Spring. And oddly anti-climactic! LOL Then again, I am sure that will fade when I am burning the midnight oil getting all my syllabus info together and such!

Ugh. I need coffee, and a shower, then off to pick up the boy, and go visiting relatives!
lunadelcorvo: (My brain hurts)
So, I know I haven't been saying much. Part of this has been complete, utter, unbelievable end-of-semester/MA-almost-finished overloaded/tired/burned out like, whoa. Add on assorted family drama, and a nasty fall for allergies, and it's a miracle I've hauled my butt out of the house the last few weeks.

Not much left, though - one last test (Friday), one final (Wednesday), a short paper (7 pages - oooh!) and a brief essay (due the 9th). Well, and major revisions to the MA From Hell™, but those I actually have some time for. Really, it's not quite as much as it sounds like.

So, provided I can claw my way through the next, say, 6 days, I think I'll make it. Promise to post all the gory details then. Right now, though, solo un po 'più italiano prima di andare a letto. Auguratemi buona velocità, buoni voti, e tanto sonno! Buona notte!

P.S. I had my new faculty orientation today! I are a professor now! *squee* *yawn* (Well, a tired professor, but still...)

P.P.S. Er, when the heck did it get go bloody cold in this house! WTF? *shivers*
lunadelcorvo: (Buried in Books)
And thanks, to the aesthete! Seems I am finished with one of my classes, with a grade of A+! Well, cool! That takes a bit of that foggy funk off of my head, anyway! So, I guess I'm counting down:

- Presentation in Ren. Italian Art
- Last exam RIA
- Take home final RIA
- Presentation for MA
- Presentation in Italian DONE!
- Last exam in Italian
- Italian final
- Final Paper in Theory DONE, no more class!

w00t!
lunadelcorvo: (Halloween Samhain)
Still unpacking. Urgh! If I have to step over/on/around one more cardboard box, I'll..... well, remind myself to unpack it eventually is what I'll do. But I am taking the time to do things right, and trying to sort out a log of stuff as I go. Unfortunately, this equates with stuffing a helluva lot of stuff into the basement until some mysterious, fictional time in the future when I will actually deal with all the heaps of heaven-knows-what-all I haven't a clue what to do with. I need to grow a spine and rent a dumpster..... alas.

Back on track to finish this semester! Yay! New topic, new committee, new format - it's like all the crap last spring/summer never happened. Well, sort of. But it's forward motion, and I am pretty jazzed about the new topic, so all is good! Classes are proving to be enjoyable and relatively stress free, which is a big plus. I am working with all new profs, even in fairly new departments, which is odd, but all things considered, a good thing.

I don't see much of any of the faculty I used to, aside from the chance passing in the quad and such, but again, for the present, perhaps that's for the best. I'm not entirely over my sense of disillusion and betrayal yet, but I'm getting there. Or at least, I'm leaving it behind, which will suffice for the moment!

We have added to the residents of our "Conservatory" (what my son calls our sunroom). The Conservatory houses all the house plants, the original 29gal fish tank, a newer 20gal tank, and now, a 5.5gal with three hermit crabs! And now my son's class is looking to adopt out a few anoles, so we may end up with a few of them as well.

I never thought I'd add 'zookeeper' to my list of job titles, but I must say, it's quite rewarding. Although, I do wish the mollies would stop already! We are on our fifth batch (spawn? brood? clutch?) of molly babies, and even though we have given away about 35 or 40, we currently have something on the order of 75 mollies! This is sustainable when they are no bigger than this---> • but gets to be a problem when they get to be regular fish-sized....

I think it's time to round up all but one or two of the last brood and take them to the petstore. Unfortunately, I think the gold male has been making eyes at the big silver female, so I am sure we have not seen the last population explosion by a long shot! (Is it dastardly of me to be considering a fish that tends toward the carnivorous? Those babies could keep an Arowana happy for a good long time.... Maybe our home is not the best place to teach the Niblet how the food chain really works....)

Anyway, off to read, cite and write! Cheers!

P.S. We've begun the spookification of the new digs! Whee! I do love Hallowe'en!
lunadelcorvo: (Where is all this stuff written?)
(Albeit a bulleted one)
  • We are moved! Well, mostly. There are still a few carloads of gods-know-what in the storage room at the old place. I am having to leave this up to others, as I have really messed up my wrists & elbows painting, packing, fixing, scrubbing, lifting.... DH has really been a champ; I don't know how he does it, and I'm afraid he's going to drop any second.... But - we have a new home, and we love it, so things are groovy on that front! Squee! (Yes, new house piccies when you can see something other than boxes!)

  • Mom is doing better. In fact, you'd hardly know she went through any of it. She still is a little shaky on her feet, and her back is a bit touchier than before, but even that's getting better with time. She even made it out to the Irish Fest with Niblet and I this weekend.

  • Niblet is loving school like wow! he's having to actually work a little, and I think that's a good thing! He's also loving the new house, and has developed a real passion for celtic music - I thought he'd murder me if we didn't get the the Irish fest Right. This. Minute. LOL! I'm glad; music is a good passion to have, and I'm so happy it's one we share.

  • The semester goes.... well it goes. Italian is actually a lot of fun, and I seem to be picking it up pretty easily. And hey, no papers! Italian Ren Art is fine; the instructor is very passionate and kind of fun, so I'm enjoying it immensely. First test comes back today; let's see if it likes me, too! Theory is...interesting. Some very different persepctives, but I have a paper idea that I think will be fun to do, which the prof seems to like as well. This is a good thing since....

  • Committee? What committee? I have no thesis and no committee. *sigh* Not going to go into it here/now, just busy working in plan B. Which may involve that paper I mentioned for theory class. So, there's that. What a crazy thing this MA is turing out to be....(Please, gods, can I be done nao?)
So, great stuff, good stuff, insane stuff.... sounds like life as usual for the Raven.... More details on all when I have a)time b)sleep c)answers d)all of the above.*

(*You do know it's 'd,' right?)
lunadelcorvo: (Can it be A time now?)
I'm going to maybe try to (cautiously) return to posting a bit more publicly. I finally know what happened in spring, and wow. What a mess! I won't go into detail, but let me say that Dr. B. was completely blameless, and undeserving of any condemnation that found its way here, even when it was voiced only in frustration. In fact, knowing what I now do, I have to say he behaved with all the integrity, decency and professionalism that brought me to admire him so much to begin with. And I will say that I am deeply, deeply disappointed in a great many other people I work with. The lesson I mentioned back then holds: I am far too quick to expect rational, mature, and charitable behavior from others, and to extend my trust. I have got to remember that petty gossip, schadenfreude, and mischief will win out almost every time. But enough about that.

Well, I'm back in school yet again. It's bittersweet this time, for many reasons beyond the above. For one thing, I had wanted to be done by now. I'm over it, but...grr. Still not at all motivated on this thesis business. Plus, classes have been a nightmare! I have one requirement left to fulfill the Med/Ren; an art history course. So, I signed up for Gothic Art - sweet! Along with that, I had Cultural Theory lined up, together with a History of Renaissance Italy that I was quite excited about (what with the Machiavelli, and Visconti and Sforza and all!) Not so fast, grasshopper!

Somewhere during summer, with no notice given, the Gothic Art was cancelled. (Don't know why, but there are some faculty shiftings and such in that department just now, so it may have simply been a question of having someone to teach it.) That means I need to scramble to find another art history course if I want to finish the Med/Ren. There's only one: Italian Renaissance Art. And guess what? It's at the same time as Italian Renaissance History!!!! (Like duh, folks, ever think maybe the same people would want to take both?!??!) So I take art history, but now I have to replace history. OK, I'll take Religion and Media! Oh, wait, BOTH are full. Hello waitlist, here I come. *sigh*

Fast forward to 1st day of class. R&M prof says that his course is set up for exactly 24 students, sorry! So no love there. Art History prof says he doesn't feel right letting me in ahead of the others on the wait list*, but I should ask him at the end of the week. OK, so I look to see what I can replace R&M (which replaced history, except I'm still enrolled in that because art history is full) Oh, Lord, OK. Italian it is. In the morning. Four days a week. Consolation? It's easy. "Uno, due, tre..." I get credit for this? Cool.

Still no word on art history though. So I will either get in and finish the certificate, or not and have a history class of which I have already missed two meetings. Joy.

Oh and then there is the Theory class. heh. You remember how I love theory, right? And this is the 'lizard people, reading auras' theory guy. (Let's call him "The Aesthete." Don't ask why, let's just.) Should be a blast..... Though everyone says it's a pretty low-hassle course, which is a good thing.

Welcome back..... *sigh*

*How about because I'm trying to graduate, and your department yanked out the class I needed without any advance notice, leaving an already full class as my only option? Call me biased, but sounds like a good reason to me..... Or am I back to that thing where I expect rational behavior already?
lunadelcorvo: (Fox on Pilgrimage)
Do you know how there are iconic elements in every story of a journey? Things like the 'call to the quest;' the thing that hits the protagonist and sets him or her out on the journey. We all have it. Maybe it's the life-changing moment, the sudden realization, or the determination to fulfill a lifelong dream.

There is an element of the journey that has become pertinent to me recently. It's the 'place of safe haven.' The seeker finds himself there often by accident, unexpectedly. Maybe she is injured and seeks help from a local wise-woman, or he is forced to wait out the winter in some distant and welcoming place, or are shipwrecked on a pleasant island. Maybe it's someplace discovered by accident, without calamity, and the seeker chooses to linger for a bit. The 'hero' spends time there, rests, grows, learns.

There comes a time when he or she realizes they could stay, even that they want to. They could do good things in this place, maybe even great things. It would be a worthy life, a true path to follow. But it would mean setting aside the quest, the original destination. It's a temptation, but the seeker must bid farewell and journey on.

Well, for me, I think it's time I moved on from medieval studies. I wanted it to have been my destination, I really did. And I love it, I really do. I could do good things here, maybe even great things. It would be a worthy endeavor. But when I began, I had a different reason that drove me; a different path before me. And that path is calling me.

The thing is, it's a nutty world. There are so many things happening in the US, and elsewhere, that need to be addressed. The extreme right-wing; the ultra conservatives; the theocratic, dominionist, and militaristic Christian movements; the abomination calling itself the 'Tea Party.' And then there are the global climate issues, the ever-spiraling levels of corporate corruption and power, the inexpressibly urgent need for us to move to sustainable systems, and those that want to keep us from doing so, so they can keep their slices of power as the world collapses around them, as it will. And a lot of these things are connected, in ways that the media doesn't talk about, and the public isn't aware of. They are connected and they operate in ways that smart, educated, literate people don't get. People here, in academia, don't get it. And they need to! We all need to understand how the forces in our world work, what they want, and how they are getting it, and too many of us don't.

That's why I started this journey. I wanted to be part of that discussion, part of bringing to light the ways in which some of these seemingly disparate entities are connected and how the operate, because our futures may depend on it. My son's future may depend on it. If and when I choose to go further in academia, if I choose to go for a PhD, I've come to realize, it won't be here in the Middle Ages. I love the medieval studies, I really do. And I have learned so much here, and it has made the issues of today that much clearer; I can use what I have learned here out there, in the world as it is now.

I'd love to stay here, with heretics and saints and Dante and crusades and manuscripts. But I can't. I have work to do, and it's work that needs doing. And if I would never dare claim myself anyone's hero, still, I need to do it for myself, and for my son. So, I'll finish building the fence, help bring in the crop, wait for the pass to clear, or whatever it is that remains to be done before the journey can continue, but continue it will.

Like every traveler, I will promise to come back when the task is done. But we've all read the books, and we know it's not likely. Makes it easier to pack up and say goodbye though.....
lunadelcorvo: (Academic Terms)
Had some friends over last night, both of whom have long history in academia. As a group of academics nearly always do, we started sharing horror stories of the dreck and doggerel we've seen from students. In that vein, as the beginning of the semester approaches, I thought I'd share something I found rather amusing. If only one could enforce learning these things for all college (to say nothing of hight school) students, since it is often so badly needed!

Author Richard Palmer offers list of Rules of Grammar for Report Writing:
  • Remember to never split an infinitive.
  • The passive voice should never be used.
  • Punctuate run-on sentences properly they are hard to read otherwise.
  • Don't use no double negatives.
  • Use the semi-colon properly, always use it where it is appropriate; and never where it isn't.
  • Reserve the apostrophe for it's proper use and omit it when its not needed.
  • Verbs has to agree with their subjects.
  • No sentence fragments.
  • Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.
  • Avoid commas, that are not necessary.
  • If you reread your work, you will find on rereading that a lot of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
  • A writer must not shift your point of view.
  • Give slang the elbow.
  • Conversely, it is incumbent upon us to avoid archaisms.
  • Don't overuse exclamation marks!!!!
  • Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences, as of 10 onwards or more, to their antecedents.
  • Hyphenate between sy-llables; avoid un-necessary hyphens.
  • Write all adverbial forms correct.
  • Writing carefully: dangling participles must be avoided.
  • Steer clear of incorrect forms of verbs that have snuck in the language.
  • Take the bull by the hand: always pick on the correct idiom and avoid mixed metaphors.
  • Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
  • Never, ever use repetitive redundancies.
  • Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun with singular nouns in their writing.
  • If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times, resist hyperbole.
  • Also, avoid awkward or affected alliteration.
  • Don't string together too many prepositional phrases unless you are walking through the valley of the shadow of death.
  • ""Avoid overuse of quotation marks.""""
  • For Christ's sake don't offend your readers' sensibilities.
  • Last but not least, avoid clichés like the plague; seek viable alternatives.

(Real update soon, I promise, as there has been a lot going on!)
lunadelcorvo: (Hobbes Dancing)
I happened, through too many successive clicks to list (starting from a post in a medievalist blog ranting against the "useless postmodernist critique of factual knowledge"), upon a perfectly delightful thing. It is SO reassuring as I struggle with the theoretical chaff I have been wading through of late, to see that serious scholars, in a variety of disciplines, are as disenchanted with the stuff as I am.

What follows is the text of an article, written by NYU Physics Professor Alan Sokal, and accepted for publication by an academic cultural criticism publication. The article is utterly meaningless, and was intended to be meaningless. It was submitted as a hoax, to see how far one could push the incomprehensible verbiage of postmodern criticism, and still be found credible. (titles are links to full articles)

"Transgressing the Boundaries: Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity"
This is the original "parody" article, published in Social Text #46/47, pp. 217-252 (spring/summer 1996)

"A Physicist Experiments with Cultural Studies"
This is the article in which the author revealed the parody, published in Lingua Franca, May/June 1996, pp. 62-64.

My favorite quote:
What concerns me is the proliferation, not just of nonsense and sloppy thinking per se, but of a particular kind of nonsense and sloppy thinking: one that denies the existence of objective realities, or (when challenged) admits their existence but downplays their practical relevance.

Social Text's acceptance of my article exemplifies the intellectual arrogance of Theory — meaning postmodernist literary theory — carried to its logical extreme. No wonder they didn't bother to consult a physicist. If all is discourse and "text," then knowledge of the real world is superfluous; even physics becomes just another branch of Cultural Studies. If, moreover, all is rhetoric and "language games," then internal logical consistency is superfluous too: a patina of theoretical sophistication serves equally well. Incomprehensibility becomes a virtue; allusions, metaphors and puns substitute for evidence and logic. My own article is, if anything, an extremely modest example of this well-established genre.
There are volumes more about both articles and the experiment itself, but these will get you started.

Also of interest: The Postmodernism Generator This page will create, fresh for you, a completely meaningless, but very high-minded-sounding essay, employing postmodern criticism in a manner frighteningly similar to how it is done with sincere intent. Now you, too, can participate in the questionable endeavor of postmodern epistemological critique! Enjoy!
lunadelcorvo: (Grrrrr!)
Welcome to the joy of theory. Here is a sample of why I don't like theory.

"Unlike previous historical criticism, which limited itself to simply demonstrating how a work was reflective of its time, New Historicism evaluates how the work is influenced by the time in which it was produced."

Think about that for a minute. Go back, and read it again. Do you see? So you see why I am going frakkin' nuts!!!!! Augh!

And, still no refrigerator. *headdesk*
lunadelcorvo: (Remain calm! I'm a Historian)
So I was out at the bookstore the other day, browsing the history shelves, when I found The Most Holy War: The Albigensian Crusade and the Battle for Christendom. Now one would think this would be right up my alley. So I grabbed it, ordered my mocha, and sat down in the cafe to look it over. (I am always suspicious of scholarly history I find in mainstream bookstores.)

On first look over I was impressed. Written by a professor of history at Washington University in St. Louis, published by Oxford University Press. Nice! Then I got to reading, and soon realized that even names like Oxford and Wash U are no guarantee of quality, or accuracy.

For those who may not be familiar with the Albigensian Crusade, it was a Crusade much like those to the Holy Land, but waged by Christians against Christians, albeit heretical Christians. It was preached (instigated) by Pope Innocent III as a desperate measure to address the growing problem of Cathar heresy in southern France. One of the principle strongholds of one particular variety of Catharism, the Albigenses, was centered, not surprisingly, in the city of Albi. While it was a long, bloody mess which raged from 1209-1229 and left southern France devastated, it was neither the first Crusade, nor (by a long shot) the first instance of sectarian violence in Christendom. It was due in large part to the utter disaster of the Albigensian Crusade that Pope Gregory IX created the Episcopal Inquisition (not at all like the Spanish Inquisition of which we hear so many horror stories) as a better method (better than war, to be sure!) of addressing the problem of heresy.

So, there you have the short version. This guy makes some extraordinary claims, however. Note, that I have not read the whole book, but I will share some of my favorite quotes:
  • The Cathars, according to this author, did not exist. "Everything about the Cathars, down to the name, is utter fantasy. (p. x)
  • Cathars, in the index, have a separate entry "Cathars, as historiographic fantasy" (p. 245)
  • "The town of Albi was never considered a heretical stronghold by the crusaders, and 'Albigensian' does not derive from it." (p. 117)
  • Only AFTER the war (10 years or more) were "Albigenses" implicated in it. (p. 171)
  • The Albigensian Crusade was responsible for the introduction of genocide into the west. (p. 189)
  • (my absolute favorite) "Anti-Semitism (rather, anti-Judaism) in the Middle Ages only occurred after the Albigensian Crusade" (p. 190)

No, no, a thousand times NO! OK, when he first says the Cathars didn't exist, he says it in terms of there not being a Cathar church with a similar structure as the Catholic church. Well, no, it wasn't *quite* like that, but it was damned close! Hell yes, the Cathars existed! Sure, there were political factors both leading up to and playing into the Crusade, but the whole business was still, at its heart, about the Cathars. And if "Albigenses" doesn't come from "Albi" where in heck does it come from, and can anyone explain the amazing coincidence that Albi was one of the towns that the Crusade was raised to regain?

And while I do appreciate the distinction between "anti-semitism" and "anti-Judaism," this bit about anti-Judaism not occurring before the Albigensian Crusades? WTF do you call the massacres of Jews in the First Crusade???? Or that of 1197, ten years before the Albigensian Crusade? Or any of the other dozen or so instances of anti-Judaism before then? Hello? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

I can appreciate daring scholarship, challenging long-held notions, and reexamining old sources with new eyes. But come on, folks. There is a point at which it becomes clear that the author is really just making stuff up! I mentioned this book as a cautionary point to a student who is working on the Cathars, and he made an interesting comment: "If I ever really need to make money, I will write a book on history that is so wrong, and so outrageous, that I know everyone will buy it, just so they can get angry with it."

I think he hit the nail on the head.
lunadelcorvo: (Remain calm! I'm a Historian)
OK, fair warning: this is going to be long, rambling, and likely really nerdish. You've been warned.

I have been in this theory class for half a semester now (egads! Half a semester - Ack! But I digress...) and I find that I have gone from enthused, to intimidated, to confused, to exasperated. I have two gripes here, and while this will make me few friends among Humanities folks, I know at least one prof who seems to agree with me. (And, no, it's not the one I am married to!)

So here goes. )

(Edited with cut, because it got even longer than I expected!)

(Edited again to add This Article, which at least brings up much of what I am saying here... So I'm not alone in my frustration! Good to know!)

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Things I need to remember:
• Asking for help is not, as it turns out, fatal.
• Laughing is easier than pulling your hair out, and doesn't have the unfortunate side effect of making you look like a plague victim.
• Even the biggest tasks can be defeated if taken a bit at a time.
• I can write a paper the night before it's due, but the results are not all they could be.
• Be thorough, but focused.
• Trust yourself.
• Honesty, always.

Historians are the Cassandras of the Humanities

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