Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Instrument of Torture

(also known as a thatch rake)

I spent a couple of hours this morning thatching the grass. That, people, is hard work. I sure hope it helps the lawn.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


  • I LOVE NaComLeavMo. I've never gotten so many comments . . . I know I'm not one of the popular kids, but you guys are making me feel that way. Thanks!\
  • I HATE Chicago Style. Hate, hate, hate. Why did I pick a journal to submit to that requires it? Why can't everyone just use APA and have done? Would someone like to proofread my manuscript (it's really quite short) to make sure I've done the Chicago thing correctly? (I also hate looking like an idiot.)
  • I am AMBIVALENT about Slogger going back to work today. It's officially been 12 weeks (3 months already!) since his heart attack and I'm pretty sure he's ready for it, though I'm also pretty sure I'm not. He actually started back to work last Thursday, but with the tornado, subsequent power outages, and the holiday, today was the first.

That's about it for today . . .

Monday, May 26, 2008

Um, no.

Yesterday I got an email from a student in my online class. "I had a really busy week," this student states, "and I didn't realize that the online discussion and quiz wouldn't be available on Sunday. Could you open them for me so I could access them?"

Um, no. See the previous post containing the "F" word.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


Attention. NaComLeavMo begins tomorrow. We will now continue with your regularly scheduled program.

Friday, May 23, 2008

DANGER: The "F" Word Can Be Found in This Post

Sorry, Jen. But I had to post this.

OK, when I was living in California, I used to have to take the bus. A lot. To work, to school, to the grocery store, to the movies, whatever. One Saturday morning, I was sitting on a bench at a bus stop, minding my business, waiting for the bus. Granted, I do have good legs, and pretty nice knees, and I was wearing shorts (So Cal, natch). This guy rides up on his bicycle, right in front of me, in the street, and stops and stares at my legs. For like, half an hour.

This, friends, pissed me off. I stood up, shook my finger in his face, and screamed at the top of my lungs, "Fuck off! Just fuck off!"

He rode off pretty quickly.

And now for the video that inspired this memory:

Thursday, May 22, 2008

NaComLeavMo: National Comment Leaving Month

Since I enjoyed NaBloPoMo so much, and since I'm generally pretty lazy about leaving comments on other folks' blogs, I decided to join NaComLeavMo, which begins on May 25th. Want to join in the hilarity and fun? Just head over to Stirrup Queen's blog and sign up.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Trail Days, Now Over

Another year of Trail Days has come and gone. As always, we had a blast, saw lots of old hiking buddies, ate too much, stayed up too late, and in general, partied like it was 1999. We left early Friday morning (and I do mean early! we got up at 3:30 AM) drove to Big Western City, through a snowstorm, I might add. Our flight to Newark left on time at 7:30, and though it was a bumpy ride, we made it there. Late. Having only 45 minutes to connect, I was pretty sure my luggage wouldn't make it to Charlotte, but it did. Rented a car, then drove the four hours from Charlotte to Damascus, which put us into our friends Trace and One-Third's home just in time to throw on a jacket and a hat and head out to the campground for the bonfire.

Ah, the campground, also affectionately known as "The Ghetto." It's a section of land outside of town that the city allows hikers to camp in during Trail Days. Imagine a parking lot, some port-a-potties, and then trails weaving in and out of bushes, trees, weeds, and mud. That's where the hikers who pour into Damascus by the hundreds get to camp, and pay $5 for the privilege. I completely understand the city charging hikers for the camping, because they have to pay to clean it up when everyone leaves and to police it while they are there. We are lucky to have had places to stay in Damascus every year that we've gone for Trail Days -- I don't want to camp in the ghetto. Not to mention that, according to rumor, it's a Superfund cleanup site.

Anyway, every year there's a huge bonfire in the Campground. This involves a massive fire, lots of folks gathered around it drinking beer, several drum circles, people playing guitar and singing, drunken shouting, occasional dog squabbles, etc. General hiker stuff.

We didn't see anyone we knew at the Bonfire -- it was mostly this year's hikers -- so we walked all around the Campground, past the Riff-Raff site, Billville, and the Quiet Zone, and then came back to the house for some well-deserved sleep.

The next morning we had a light breakfast and were getting ready to head out when Slogger looked out the window and saw Firefeet walking by (we found out later she was on her way down to the Baptist Church, where they have a trailer with FREE! SHOWERS! for HIKERS!). Now Firefeet has special significance for me, because she and Chickflick saved Slogger from hypothermia when they were all hiking together in 2003. Needless to say, I was excited to meet her.

After our chat with Firefeet, we headed out to the vendor area to give it a walk-through and see who we would see. First person we run into: Tangent, our buddy from the Nekton Dive cruises we've been on. And that was only the beginning, as we spent time chatting with Grampie, Texas Jack, AT Troll, AWOL, Carolina Cruiser, Moonshadow, Jack Daniels, Jim Beam, Rain Queen, Karma, Mellow Yellow, Jen, and too many others to name. Needless to say, we did more talking, laughing, and hugging than we did looking at the vendors. It's always fun to be with the popular kid, and Slogger definitely fits that bill. The fact that he almost died this year made it even more special for folks to see him and talk to him.

And that's pretty much the way the weekend went. The highlights were the parade and the reunion dinner for Slogger's class of 03.

The Trail Days parade is both an opportunity for this year's hikers and previous year's hikers to get out and strut their stuff, and an opportunity for townspeople and hikers to blast each other with water balloons, water guns, and everything else wet they can get their hands on. The water fight wasn't quite so big this year, but there were lots of hikers in great getups.

That's 42 in the flowered outfit.

And Mala as the "Harmless Hiker."

All in all, it was a great time. Perhaps we stayed one day too long, as the festival ended on Sunday and we left town on Monday, but it was a chance to rest up, have a nice dinner with Seneca Lou, Tom for Short, and Trace. Monday morning we drove back to Charlotte and did the whole trip in reverse, which still took us 14 hours. Today we are recovering.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Trail Days

Tomorrow morning (early! We're getting up at 4 AM!) we'll be heading off to Virginia for the annual Trail Days celebration, a hiker festival extraordinaire. I've been to Trail Days many times over the years. Perhaps the most memorable was 2001, when I had been injured (see the side panel for the story) and was on crutches for the entire event. Well, not the entire event -- by the end of it I was walking without crutches for short distances, and shortly thereafter I got serious about physical therapy and got back on the trail.

Slogger and I bought our wedding rings at Trail Days, before we were married, for $8 each from a stall.

In 2003, the year Slogger hiked the AT, I met him in Damascus for Trail Days and hiked out with him. That year I was able to hike a month with him, before heading to Texas to visit my brother, his wife Lynne, and the newborn triplets (all boys!).

So, needless to say, we're looking forward to Trail Days. We'll be staying with our friends Trace and 1/3, who visited us in High Plains City a couple of years ago. It should be a blast!

I'll try to take some pics and post them when we get back.

Monday, May 12, 2008

On Reading First

I've hesitated to write about the report out that evaluates the impact of Reading First on the comprehension abilities of children. Basically, the report says that teachers were doing more of what they were supposed to do according to Reading First guidelines, but that all of this had no impact on the comprehension abilities of 1st through 3rd grade students.

And then I read this, which equates Reading First and NCLB with Iraq. Lovely piece of writing.

My concern about Reading First all along, although I am an adolescent literacy type, not so much an early literacy one, is the way the scripted kind of instruction insults and inhibits teachers. Stager gets that spot on. And now we shall see how the focus on scientifically-based research folks handle the results of their own research!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Week O' Meetings

It's been a crazy, finishing-up kind of week, and I apologize for not posting since last Sunday. Some of the things that went on this week:

MONDAY: Well, yes, there was the three-hour meeting. For the most part, it went down as I said it would. I'm sure we must have accomplished something, but I only remember being one of the laptop users, pretending to be taking notes while surreptitiously checking my email.

TUESDAY: A very friendly committee meeting for a fabulous doc student who is just about halfway through her coursework.

WEDNESDAY: A two-and-a-half-hour department meeting (at least it included lunch!) followed by a retirement reception for the outgoing dean. One highlight of the department meeting was watching one easily frustrated department member's face as we considered having an additional meeting in May. Entertaining!

THURSDAY: The last meeting for this year of the advisory council on which I serve (my last year to serve on it, as I will be on the T&P committee next year). This is actually one of my favorite committees to serve on (can any committees be "favorites"?) because we get our business done quickly and almost always get out early. I don't think that will be the case with t&p. I spent the evening at my investment club meeting, which also ended early (only half of us were there, which explains it a bit).

FRIDAY: Members of the t&p committee met with our outgoing dean to elect a chair (not me, thankfully!) and to discuss which of us would be attending which department meetings regarding discussion of t&p in the fall. I spent the rest of the day working on a manuscript that is due at the beginning of June, and on revising my program report for accreditation. My sense is that if I spend 3-4 hours a week on that accreditation report this summer, I'll have it ready by the September 15th deadline.

In between and among all of those meetings, I've been working on getting my online course ready for this summer, finishing up grades for spring, and resolving placement issues for next year's student teachers. Next week is all about the writing and the course. Has to be.

Monday, May 05, 2008


Today I have a meeting that will last from 10-1. At least they are buying us lunch. A few things I can guarantee for this meeting:

* a proposal will be made to "streamline" our master's degree program, which will have huge support from one faction and will elicit extreme negative reactions from another faction. We'll argue about it and then agree to allow a task force to work on it.
* the question of how many advisees each faculty member should have will come up, with some faculty members complaining about getting too many and being overworked, and other faculty members complaining about not having enough students (or any!). We'll argue about it and then agree to allow a task force to work on it.
* a proposal will be made to offer our masters' degree online nationwide. Two faculty members will support this; the rest of us will think it is ridiculous. We'll argue about it and then agree to allow a task force to work on it.

During this time, one faculty member will be typing diligently on his laptop -- it will appear that he is engaged and taking notes, when actually he is writing yet another practitioner article to appear in a widely circulated journal.

I will be texting with my buddy Red, cause that's just how I roll.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

I know worrying is no good for me. It doesn't accomplish anything, in fact it makes me feel unhealthy, stressed, and probably has all kinds of long-term ill effects that I should be . . . um . . . worried about. See the problem?

We just returned from our Sunday-morning-ritual of walking downtown to the coffee shop, having breakfast and reading the newspaper, and walking home. It's a lovely crisp morning, there were dogs in the park, and I noticed one of the hawks swooping overhead as we got close to home. But Slogger seemed tired, and that makes me worry. Thus the pensive post about worrying. It's ironic, because I'm always on him to lower his stress level. I should take notes on my own lectures.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Because I Haven't Done This Meme Yet, And I Know There Is Another Meme I Was Tagged For But I Can't Remember It Or Find It

I've seen this one around a bit, but most recently at Strange New Teacher's blog (new to the blogosphere -- you should stop by and comment).

Here are the rules:

1. The rules of the game get posted at the beginning.
2. Each player answers the questions about themselves.
3. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5-6 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog.
4. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.

Okey dokey. Here we go:

1) What was I doing 10 years ago?

Spring of 1998. I was finishing up my last year of teaching high school English (mostly sophomores and seniors) before heading off to begin graduate school full-time. Footslogger and I had just met and we were spending lots of weekends flying back and forth between the big cities in which we both lived (several thousand miles apart). The senior class had asked me to speak at their graduation, and I was busily writing my speech while inwardly rejoicing that I would never have to teach Julius Caesar again. (I love me some bard, but not the same play every year for 12 years, 6 times a day!)

2) What are 5 things on my to-do list today (not in any particular order)?

polish my nails
make some bread
make a huge vat of marinara sauce to freeze

3) Snacks I enjoy:

chips and salsa
yogurt-covered pretzels
dark chocolate

4) Things I would do if I were a billionaire:

Healthy-selfish things:
take Footslogger to Uganda and introduce him to my second family there;
take Footslogger to Germany and let him introduce me to all the places and people there he knows;
buy a T@B Trailer and camp my way through this continent;
pay off all of my student loans and that of all of my colleagues from graduate school;
finance a repeat thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail for myself and for Footslogger (he could do it -- we'd just have to take it slow).

Philanthropic things:
establish a massive program in this state to encourage, pay for, and support secondary school teachers from all content areas to go through our literacy program and be certified to teach literacy, grades 7-12.
establish a massive program to finance secondary and post-secondary education for kids from Uganda who have lost family members to AIDS
pay off debts for tons of people -- my two brothers, Footslogger's two kids, and others.

This sounds exciting! Anyone want to give me a billion?

5) Three of my bad habits:

eating too much
picking my cuticles
snoring (Slogger says this is my worst)

6) Five places I have lived:

Greenville, Texas
Marietta, Georgia
Hoima, Uganda, East Africa
Pasadena, California
Commerce, Texas

7) Five jobs I have had:

Drug store clerk/cashier/stocker at Page Drug in Dallas, Texas
High school English teacher at a school in a very small town in East Texas
Secretary/receptionist in an academic setting, Pasadena, California
Customer service clerk at Marshall's Department Store in Texas
Cashier at Captain D's (grease, grease, grease)

(I never was a truck driver, though I wanted to be one when I graduated from high school.)

8) 6 People I want to know more about:

Well, I think I'm the last person on the internet to do this meme, so I'm going to open this up to anyone interested. Have fun!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

A Reader for Slogger

Set Slogger up with Google Reader this morning, so he could read my blog and our friend Jeff's AT hike journal.


Hi Slogger!