Monday, February 26, 2007

Introducing the Electronic Absence

Pre-rant apologia: I hate that I'm becoming this person, too. Chances are that you will read this and cluck over my power mongering. That's cool. Last week I would have done the same to you if you wrote this post, or one like it. I would have told you that you're about a minute away from having been an undergrad yourself. I would have asked you if you make fun of twelve-year-olds for not understanding calculus. I would have secretly mumbled about some people needing to remember that we are all students of our disciplines and of life, and some are just further in the process.

That said, they totally started it.


There was a bit of an explosion today. The gist of which is that beginning tomorrow, ANY student of mine who EVER sits in my class with an ipod or similar device hanging out of their ears will be automatically marked "EA" for "Electronic Absence." There will be no discussion. I will not remind adults or late adolescents that listening to ipods during class time is a waste of my time and theirs. That is, or should be, understood. I will not tell Mr. or Ms. Chillin' that they have been marked absent. It's not my job to notify people that they aren't in my class. They should know that themselves.

Ditto cellphones, blackberries, et. al.

And yes, those absences do count towards the absence limit in the attendance policy, and no, they aren't negotiable.

And I swear to the FSM, if just one more of these people tells me that they work harder than every student in the class, and it's not faaaaaaiiiiiiir that they should get a B when some guy who is lazy and stupid and probably a drug addict, but also their very best friend got a B+, I may start twitching.

Post-rant: I really do love teaching. I really do love most of my students. But, man, some students get to college thinking that education is Burger King have-it-your-way-right-away land. And they have got to be convinced otherwise quickly. Or else their future will be completely, er, yswived. And that's not what they came to college for.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Random Bullets of Information Ranging from Crap to Non-Crap. In No Particular Order

Things you probably noticed already:

  • I figured out how to work the bullets!
  • Google got me. The bright side? Now I have the ability to put labels on my posts. The not so bright side? I hate being coerced. Hey Google! I thought you said you wouldn't be evil. What's the big idea with the blatant and unrepenting exercise of juridical power over my blogular freedoms, then, huh? Isn't that evil? (Yep, read Foucault recently.)
  • There have been deletions from the blogroll. Blogs that haven't posted for several months are gone, though I hope the bloggers are happy and healthy. The blog with the commenters who gave me the willies is also gone, because I don't need that kind of ugly in my life. Not even tangentially.
  • There have been additions to the blogroll. Every day more people with more great things to say about, well, everything come to my attention. About 18 months later, I add them to my blogroll. I know there are blogs that ought to be there now, and aren't. I promise they will be someday.
  • There's a new section of the blogroll entitled "They wonked." There are wonky blogs there. I have no idea why it is in bullet format.

Things you may not have noticed yet:

  • Six weeks without smoking!
  • And I've finally 'earned' that crypt rubbing I bought myself as a treat at the end of week one.
  • And, come to think of it, quitting smoking might have contributed to my extra-negative take on the world of late.

Things you have no way of knowing until I tell you:

  • After a full day wrastling it down, and changing to 3/4 inch margins all around, I have completed the updating of my resume (accent aigu x 2 there). Holy shit, I've done a lot of stuff these past few years! No wonder my to-do list seems to have it in for me. I am now prepared to paper the state with applications for employment beginning with the work listed in the Sunday papers. Ta-da!
  • I had a party this weekend, and about half the people I expected showed. I am now in a fix. What does one do with leftover bad merlot? (Seriously, never trust the wine guy.)
  • If the people on the big committee I serve on don't stop yelling at each other about "taking action," when they mean "writing letters," I may have to stab myself in the head in the middle of the next meeting to relieve the pain.
  • The people on the big committee really hate it when you say stuff like that to them during the meeting so that your objection is in the minutes and everything.
  • The people on the big committee will always remember to be offended by that sentiment, but continue to yell at each other about "taking immediate, decisive action" as soon as you stop talking. ESPECIALLY if the immediate, decisive letter they want to send addresses an issue outside of the big committee's narrow range of influence.
  • The people on the big committee think Words = Deeds, and Volume = Validity. I hate them. A lot.
  • The insurance company has elected NOT to fix my car, that their client bent, because it's an old car. They will send me a check for the "fair-market" value of my car instead. They will then spend the next 5 years charging their client as if they had fixed my car, and fixed it with pure platinum. I hate them. A lot.
  • I have changed banks. Because the banking business that exists on campus is worse than a pack of thieves, and I told them that. Seriously, I am not one to be shocked by greed, but the business practices of this bank were absolutely horrifying. And their 'justifications' for these practices? "That's how we make money." Not from me, they don't.
  • My niece to the second power visited. She's even more adorable than ever, now that she's more than a little poop-machine, that is. Though she did scream blue murder if she was put down on the carpet when there were clearly people around who could be holding her and doing her wee baby bidding. Unsurprisingly, she has not learned to crawl.

That's all for now.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Guilt!

I'm sorry about the spotty posting, folks. I've been experiencing a full-scale guilt attack for weeks now, and, as you may have been able to tell from my half-assed posts recently, this attack has been preventing me from thinking properly about anything. Mostly because I can't *do* anything without thinking of how many other things I ought to be doing, how everyone else in the whole wide world would be able to do whatever I'm doing better than I, and damn it shouldn't a grad student be able to do X faster/ more thoroughly/ more thoughtfully?!

Then there's the guilt over the real-life stuff, and the guilt over the not my-life stuff. So, I should be a better student/ teacher/ scholar as well as daughter/sister/aunt/friend and while we're at it, I should be a better political advocate for the stuff I truly believe in, and I should never lose my patience, etc.


One hopes that soon the guilt attack will pass, and I'll be back to whole-assed posts.

Monday, February 05, 2007

On Language

The genesis of the following post, for those of you keeping track of invention, arrangement and revision strategies at home, is multifaceted. That's grad-student speak for "I've been ruminating over some ideas, based on other ideas already floating around, and now I'm not sure how to introduce this topic which is only tangentially related to this other stuff."

So, to quote Inigo Montoya, "I 'splain. No, there is too much. I sum up."

You know what? No. Even summing up is taking this places it oughtn't go. To one-under Montoya, I'll just allude. How's that?

These be-phudded people got into a conversation about the state of the field of Old English studies, and the people with Y-chromosomes among that cohort got a batch of language bees in their bonnets. And they said "language language language," and then the people with matching alleles said "There's other stuff too, and here's why." And then the mismatching alleles ones said "language, and here's why." And then the whole conversation, which looked like it might get really interesting and productive, just petered out. I hate that. (They didn't align themselves by gender; I did that. I'm not sure that there's a connection between the sex of the critic and his/her view of what must be studied in this case. Just seemed odd -- and perhaps noteworthy? -- that it fell that way.)

At the same time, but unrelatedly, Anhaga wrote a rather beautiful post about The Wanderer, which is my very favorite go-to poem for almost-ineffable melancholy. I mean that in a good way, of course. I love melancholy, especially when it's of the sort that sits right at the edge of human language's ability to codify it.

Then I was reading a blog entitled "Slouching Towards Extimacy" and I thought, "Geez, extimacy is a great word. Neologisms can be fun. I love great new words. Wait, I love great old words, too."

So, as you can see, I was chased through blog-readings right into the Old English - Planctus -Language - Cool Words nexus, quite without intending to get here. It's not exactly a Lorelei Gilmore "monkey, monkey, underpants" moment, but it'll do.

Now, once in the OE-P-L-CW Nexus, I began listing the really old words I find cool:
Cwaeth was there, but you had to know that
gefrunon is a big one, love that one (meaning asked and/or understood, but also suggesting having learned something through hearing)
beot...vow, very nice
gliwstafum (joyful speech, literally: glee-letters. I ADORE this word.)
larcwide .. teaching words

You do see where this is going?

The words the Anglo-Saxons had for language are as much fun for me as the approximately 473 words they had for sorrow. I'm fairly certain that this is not simply because I'm a language nerd, although that must help. The ways in which the Anglo-Saxons foregrounded language in their writing/composing has always been interesting for me. Well, sure, they were either composing in language or recording spoken words, so language was their medium. However, their rhetorical choices of when and how to reference language, and to what end, are infinitely fascinating to me.

The Wanderer, for one, uses references to language rather ingeniously. He seeks those in whom he can confide, he looks back wistfully at the kind and wise words of his lost lord, he imagines the words he would use if he encountered his lord again. Like anhaga, I have some trouble reconciling the sundor aet rune moment at the end with the remainder of the poem, because it is the first time the Wanderer is alone with language. Every other reference to language has been about the value of language to the community. Who ought to speak, and who ought not to speak, for the best interests of the community. Bjork argues, famously, that the Wanderer's exile is voluntary at that moment. I'm not quite sure I agree with that assessment, because it seems pretty clear to me that the Wanderer is arguing for inclusion, all throughout the poem, based upon his inclusion and favored status in the past, and based upon his special knowledge of the suffering of loss. In fact, he seems to turn the whole system on its ear, suggesting stating outright that those who have not suffered as he has speak too much, and that those like him ought to be privileged speakers rather than suspected ones.

Rhetorically, he's quite good, that Wanderer. I am OK because I used to be valued, and now I've lost all the people who valued me, and therefore I'm OK because I've suffered and know better. You young folk talk too much, and know too little.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Well, That Doesn't Suck

My performance on a quiz created by Anniina at Mischievous Muse

You Got 93% Right!

Impressive! There's barely a book on the list that you haven't read. You give me hope for the survival of civilization. Bravo! Give yourself a good pat on the back. You've earned it.

Famous First Lines Quiz
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Apologies and Excuses

I apologize for neglecting the blog this past week. But, seriously, I have solid excuses for my negligence.

1) I signed up for an extra course this semester, assuming I would choose to drop one course once I got the syllabus and/or decided the professor offended me through the wearing of bad shoes or something. (That's a partial joke. There was once a professor I swore I couldn't hear over his deeply unfortunate neckties.) I have not been able to choose a course to eliminate, and will be taking an overload. Just for kicks. So, apparently, the only thing necessary for me to start enjoying the university is to decide to leave it for a bit. Huh.

2) Somebody slid on the ice and crunched my car. All parties are healthy, and my car is still almost fully functional (there's a door that will not close when opened without the help of a very large, very fit man; my car door is now sexist), but I'm a little pouty about it. For all the wrong reasons, actually. Here's the deal: while my car was in pristine condition, I could pretend that I was driving a super-old car in a sort of ironic retro-cool gesture. Now, with the clear impression of another car's nose in my super-old car, it has been demoted from ironic retro-hip to junky old car. Damn it, I hate that. I am impressed in another way, though. You oughtn't to be able to smush my tank with a little zippy car, and you certainly shouldn't be able to do so without damage to your car. So, someday, when I have all the books I want, and lots of extra non-book money, I will buy the type of car that smushed mine. 'Cause, wow.

In other news:
* I may have a slightly inappropriate crush on Terry Eagleton now, because -- thanks in large part to his book -- I'm beginning to understand what people are talking about when they get all jargony.

* Slightly related question: Does anybody know which section of Poet's Corner one looks in for all the references that I can't find in British Critic's writing? I've looked at footnotes, and chapter notes, and endnotes, but I still can't find justification for some of the rather startling assertions that show up in "We're all English gentlemen here, and we all know X" form in the writing of British scholars. Well, maybe I don't need the location of the crypt in Poet's corner so much as The Complete Yank's Guide to Accepted English Gentleman's Knowledge. Does Amazon carry that?