So signals the end of summer “fata morgana” break, 2023, an occasion I mark today with a low grade fever, scratchy throat, and raw-rusted cough crossed between smashberried larynx and tetanus positive muffler. However, I did manage both to get the Virginia vehicle inspection tended to this morning AND double back to the DMV for round two of Virginia driver’s license (round one ending with DMV employee chorus singing “systems are down”), so, yeah, not an entirely unproductive day in the category of administering a life, even if I did lie on the couch for a couple of hours watching old Barker-era Price Is Right episodes, while sipping Vernors and thinking I don’t know how to feel about the fact that many of the people on this program (studio audience, contestants, etc.) have by now ferried across the Styx.
Among the goings-on this summer have been
Emptying the Ypsi condo of its last and not least things, carting them to Virginia—notably 500 miles with a tiny Uhaul trailer on the Fourth of July—and then listing the condo for sale. If all continues to go as planned, it’ll close next week.
Hosting several friends and family for meals and get-togethers, which, while altogether enjoyable, has gradually become more of a chicken de-feces-ing ritual, given that the mixed flock frequents the porch and that each of the six defecates on average (like all chickens) 50 times per day.
Sorting out the critter seal-off in the attic of the upper shed, declaring it hardware clothed at the seams and squirrel free by mid-late July, then moving shelves from the lower shop to the back shed, demo-ing gnarly bird-nested insulation in the lower shop, replacing the insulation and fitting replacement wallboard. Good as new? Hard to say. New was 1987, Sheena Easton. But it’s on track for becoming good as well-used, becoming usable and, eventually, useful again. I also confirmed that the electrical overload issues in the lower shop were from the heat lamps for the chicks in April, which likely overloaded the circuit breaker. Wall plugs are on just a 15 amp breaker, and it breaks irregularly, likely needing to be replaced. But in terms of electrical wiring, the rest of it is all fine bzzt and good zzp.
Adding a 9th tattoo, Bitumen on the Run Swing. Thanks to Janet Nelson, on August 1, I had set in ink the moment when Bitumen was spotted out the window taking a first (and only?) turn on the decorative swing in the chicken run, fiercely leaned in but balanced, pumping her wings for max height, a gathering of that rare intense glee of 1980s recesses when swinging highest was a felt accomplishment and highlight of a school day.
iPad Procreate drawing not as much as I hoped to, but something like seven drawings with a few mock-ups in progress.
Ending a ten year turn as Writing Program Administrator, between EMU and VT. From June 30 through July 20 or so, I put up an out of office response, but then I learned that it probably wasn’t necessary, since I was getting so few emails and anyone reaching out to me by that point likely knew I was WPA emeritus. And this is probably as big of a deal as anything else that happened this summer, though Bitumen’s swinging for outer space is far more tattoo-worthy. It’s a very different feeling not to be sitting in an administrative appointment, and especially not to be suffering the swells of unpredictable and unregulated email influxes. I don’t miss that one bit. The next horizon, though, remains somewhat unclear, but for right now I am working on not leaping too quickly or conclusively into a next-nuther big project nor reaching any grand conclusions about hard-set paths.
Attending a couple of webinars on AI and academic freedom, reading around on AI well enough to form an approach I will be morally satisfied with in my teaching throughout the year ahead, and pacing on review tasks for article manuscripts and P&T letters, though I am possibly overcommitted on these and wishing—again!—that I hadn’t taken on as much. Slow to learn risks becoming “he never learned that lesson.”
And more, always more, forever more: a copperhead the chickens alerted us to the other day but that got away before I could reach it, switching from HughestNet to Starlink so we finally have sufficient internet speeds at home, a few UCW meetings related to elections and expanding the message about how unions chance ensuring that a workplace is good for everyone, mowing, trail cams showing bears and deer and more, grand flushes of chanterelles on turkey slope, two wind-toppled trees chainsaw-chunked and stacked, a mushroom propagation workshop with Gnomestead Hollow, and frequent swims and aquajogs at the aquatic center, especially throughout July.
Nothing against St. Louis, Mo., but when–around Friday afternoon–light rain made the streets smell like sweatsock-funk, a few of us speculated that the arch really is a giant’s clipped toenail. No, no, it’s marvelous beyond that: a giant’s clipped toenail fitted with an elevator inside. Blame the odor on the pollen, on the trees being in full bloom fall-veg-detritus-rotting, or on the mighty Mississippi’s effervescence. Credit it to whatever you want and in the meantime plug your nose. No need to plug it forever; it’s fine to breathe again when you come to the ten story cross in Effingham made of blessed and corrugated aluminum sheeting.
I had a great CCCC. So many friends to catch up with, so many great conversations. Proud of how EMU students represented. Proud of the smarts and investment shown by the EM-Journal team. Proud of how Ivo Baltic and his Bobcats went toe-to-toe with basketball giant UNC on Friday evening. I damn close to wept with joy when Ohio surged late in the game and I got to see all the UNC fans next to me in Section 138 Row 22 biting their nails, holding each other’s sweaty hands, looking like they’d encountered a real bobcat in the wild.
The ticket would’ve allowed me to stick around, but I skipped the NC State-KU game and instead walked to Bridge with a few colleagues, enjoyed a sour and an IPA, hummus and tapenade, smoked paprika popcorn that was too salty but ate it anyway.
Went to more sessions than I expected to this week:
*Wed. evening, Master’s Degree Consortium of Writing Studies Specialists
*Thur., A. Digital Pedagogy Posters
*B.20 Technology and Histories of Composition Studies
D.29 Gateways into the Disciplines: Navigating Different Disciplinary Contexts to Support Writing Across Campus
E.Feat. Gateways to Leadership: A Reflective Roundtable on Opportunities within NCTE and CCCC
TSIG.1 Retired Faculty in Rhetoric/Composition/Writing Studies
Fri., G.Feat. Technologizing Funk/Funkin Technology: Stevie Wonder’s Talking Book as a Gateway to a Black Digital Rhetoric
H.13 Latour and Rhetoric: Kairos, Contingency, Techne
I.Feat. “This Stuff Hasn’t Changed Much in 2500 Years, Has It?”: Rhetorical Terms in an Attention Economy
J.03 MA Programs in Rhetoric and Writing as Sites of Transition and (Trans)Formation
*K.31 Think-tank for Newcomers: Developing Papers and Sessions for 2013
L.18 Everyone Knows This is Nowhere: Writing in the Musical Age
M.7 Computational Rhetoric in Theory and Practice
Stars mark the sessions where I had some sort of speaking or leadership role. I have quite a bit more to say about several of the sessions, but I also face the inevitable workswell–a sheer ccccliff–that follows from several days of being online less than usual because who can afford in-room internet: advising emails, an online course to get caught up in, a batch of deep definition essays from graduate students, an article revision due 3/30. Plus, I drove both to and from St. Louis and the Element suffered an effed windshield wiper late last night, so I feel a bit road-weary today and also need to get over to Advanced Auto Parts for a replacement blade. Maybe around the mid-late part of the week I’ll crawl back through my notes and elaborate on some of what I learned at the various sessions, or maybe not. I left St. Louis both exhausted and energized, which is in my eight or ten trips to the conference as much as one can hope for.
I turned in grades almost ten days ago. And ten days has left me enough time to defrag what was the Fall 2011 semester (also enough time to see The Muppets, watch Breaking Bad through season 3, and finish Shields’ Vonnegut biography, And So It Goes). The highlights follow, in no particular order.
I taught three classes, 50+ students altogether: a new (for me) grad class, ENGL505: Rhetoric of Science and Technology, and two sections of ENGL328: Writing, Style, and Technology. 505 went well for the most part; I’ll probably return to Metaphors We Live By and Science in Action when I teach it again in Fall 2012. But I’ll replace The Social Life of Information with Kuhn, Polanyi (lectures), or Darwin. Or Mol, if I can ever get around to reading Body Multiple. Maybe add some of the “rhetoric as epistemic” conversation.
The two sections of ENGL328 ran back to back on Mondays and Wednesdays. One section was in a preferable lab; the other section was in one of the worst teaching labs I’ve ever set foot in. A horrible space. And this was an improvement–an upgrade–from the space into which it was originally scheduled. Consequently I had more conversations than I can count with IT folks about why certain lab configurations work differently than others for teaching. This was one of the most nagging and unavoidable frustrations of the semester.
These two classes were as night and day as any two I can remember teaching. Same projects. Same readings. But drastically different personalities.
My teaching was observed three times in the second week of the semester, and the timing, while somewhat less than ideal in my opinion, had everything to do with the October 15 deadline for my third-year review materials. Why less than ideal? Well, it’s plain to me that my classes are stronger, move lively, and more representative as a scene of teaching and learning in the last one-third of the semester than in the first two weeks. Semesters follow arcs; relationships develop. The observations were overall fairly favorable nevertheless.
Other than teaching, the first half of the semester was consumed with preparing the third-year review binders (which went in without incident and, by all appearances have been well received at the various stop-offs they’ve reached thus far) and planning and organizing the WIDE-EMU Conference.
The conference went well, especially considering it was an experiment in conference-hosting with no costs to anyone, but had I to do it over again, I don’t think I’d both plan a conference and give a talk at that conference–on the same day third-year review materials are due. Too much. Everything went fine, but it left me sapped for the second half of the semester.
In the second half of the semester, I gave a “Tech Talk” to our Art Department on “A Quick Rhetoric of QR Codes.” Basically it was 30 minutes of examples, how-to, and a plea for more discriminating uses. I also carried a digital-installation-qua-“poster” into the HASTAC Conference in Ann Arbor in early December.
I attended commencement, heard George Gervin’s address and saw a half dozen students I’d had in class recently accept their diplomas.
I helped the Honors College revamp its Presidential Scholars essay prompts and assessment tool (as a member of the HC Advisory Council). I also interviewed Presidential Scholar candidates in early December.
I touched up the Masters Degree Consortium site, added a map, and more importantly, collaborated on a survey and all of the required IRB solicitations so we can proceed with circulating the survey in early-mid January.
We released two issues of EM-Journal, one on the first day of the semester, and the second on December 1 at the Celebration of Student Writing.
At our symposium on pursuing graduate education in written communication, I gave a short spiel titled, “Graduate School in Ten Understatements.” Tricky to offer one-size-fits-most advice that avoids 1) being discouraging and 2) meaningless platitudes.
Nudged along a proposal for an online version of ENGL326 I’ll likely teach in the spring term. I think it’s finally, officially approved, and I spent a couple of hours this morning on the course materials.
And then there were a small handful of proposals and ms. submissions at various stages that crossed my desk, that waggled through my in and outbox–one ms. revised and accepted, another conditionally accepted, and two different chapter proposals (one accepted; the other in the eds.’ hands).
For the first time in a long time, I didn’t submit any proposals for a spring conference. No C&W. No RSA. And that’s in small part because travel funds will have long since dried up by then, I have a busy CCCC docket in March, and I’m usually too fatigued by May to feel all Let’s Go! about academic conferences. Might keep an eye out for the WPA Albuquerque CFP though. Or, if there’s a Great Lakes THATCamp this spring, might check it out.