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I welcome students readers to this blog. However, be aware that, although I do not use anyone's actual name, the descriptions of behaviors and conversations are not disguised. This is a space in which I may rant, vent, and otherwise express responses that I would do my best to mask or at least tone down in professional interactions with students. This is my personal, gloves off, no holds barred, direct from the gut expression of what it feels like to do my job. If you think you might be hurt or offended or upset by that, read no further. The person I'm ranting about could be you.


Hi! And you are...?

My readership has suddenly blossomed, which is a lovely development--but I don't know who is reading the blog, how you found it, and why you find it interesting. I'd love to hear from you! Please feel free to use the "comment" box at the end of any particular post to let me know what brought you to this page--and what keeps you coming back for more (if you do).

Not you, Barry. You already told me--and thanks!






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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Another quickie

I had such ambition when I came back to the office after class, and a good wodge of time in which to accomplish a bunch of foot-clearing that has suddenly become pressing. We had our first P&B meeting of the semester today, and I was reminded that A) there is still a lot of work that needs to be done on promotion folders and 2) very little time left in which to do it. I've been so derelict in my duties this year, I really want to do something approaching a reasonable job on what's left. And, like I said, it's a lot. I don't want to detail all of it at the moment, but I truly do need to get a lot of other miscellaneous bits out from underfoot, and so far, I've not been pushing. Now I must.

But instead of getting anything done, I ended up talking with Paul for two hours. It was wonderful, and I adore him, and it's always good for my soul to have a good confabulation with my office husband--but all the work I had intended to clear away is still undone. And now I'm about to snarp down some dinner and head off to dance class. So I need to devote some mental energy (possibly in the car on the way to dance) to looking as realistically as possible at how much time I have between now and the next P&B meeting and at all I need to accomplish--and figure out if I already have to call in "sick" in order to keep ahead of the avalanche.

Yikes.

I'm glad I didn't know about all this last night, as this morning, I allowed myself a very leisurely approach to the day: I didn't set the alarm (beyond bliss), and I ran a few long-postponed errands in the morning before coming to the office. I didn't get in until almost noon--a full three hours later than I had originally intended--and I was absolutely guilt-free about it. Nice. And today's class was interesting: there weren't many students there, but those who were there were pretty well up to speed. I did have to have a few words after class with Mr. Irrepressible (the guinea pig analogy from Alice is deeply apt but it feels nasty to use as a cognomen): his enthusiasm is laudable, but the need to repress him is building. One of the other students got pretty testy with him (and rightly); he does tend to act as if he knows a hell of a lot more than he does because of his merit badge. (Favorite moment: after he'd said that from his experience--the two Coyote trickster stories he's read--Coyote doesn't lie, I said, "Well, let me just state: from my experience and what I've read, he does." Irrepressible was momentarily quiet, and the other students were amused. It wasn't quite a burlap bag, but it did do the trick, at least briefly.) In any event, after class I told him that although his enthusiasm was lovely, he needs to learn to keep it in check, so if I hold up a hand to him, he should take it as a sign that he needs to be quiet for a bit. He took it with very good grace--but he needs a lot of work on social skills, poor dear.

Not much else to report, but it was, all in all, a good day--even with the sudden and exponential up-tick in the sense of pressure over things to do. I've got a couple of plans (A, B, and C) in mind. More reports to follow on which ends up being the one that prevails.

My soup is hot. Time for dinner, then dancing. It's going to be nice to get back out on the floor. And we know what Scarlett says about tomorrow.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Brief post

I'm posting rapidly while I wait for my new student assistant teacher to show up, so we can discuss her duties and how it will work for her to be with me in the classroom. Just today I realized she'll only be there one day each week--which is fine, but it does change both what I might ask her to do and how the class dynamics will work.

Nature in Lit went fine today. Two of the students were not participating (of the eight who were there: I hope we haven't lost one already); both said they'd been too sick to do the reading. OK. I told them I was glad they were there, getting what they could out of the class, and that I hoped to get their journals from them by Thursday. We covered things pretty well, only have a little bit more of John Smith in their readers, so I did give them an additional reading; I hope it provides enough for us to have a good discussion on Thursday.

I do find that I tend to toss out a lot of references to other readings, socio-historical background, thoughts and ideas, more than I do in any other class I teach. This is where I can feel the difference between teaching generic courses and teaching my stuff, my field. And I love it--and it frustrates me wildly, because I'm not keeping up with my field, dammit, and I want to be.

I was glad that--other than the two who hadn't done the reading--everyone participated. Some more than others, of course, but nice that even the more hesitant readers had something to say. It will be interesting to see their journals.

And today's 102 was--hooray!!--lively and fun. We did the little dopey ice-breaker that I do with bigger classes (so I can really start getting hold of their names), then they went into groups, and most of the groups took off. There were two students who missed all of last week--one who hadn't yet registered, one who just was AWOL--and they were more than a little bewildered, being thrown into the deep end, but they'll have to swim like mad to get caught up is all. Ship is sailing onward. They had fun in the ice-breaker, a fair amount of laughing and energy, which carried over into their group work. (It took me many semesters to understand that the segue from ice-breaker to group work was important: no group work before ice-breaker, and group-work immediately after ice-breaker, so the sense of camaraderie carries over. It works.)

And I think we've already lost about three students, maybe four. I'll know more next week.

I realize, too, that I take it as a good sign when students hover after class, wanting to ask questions and check things with me--and when they make a point of saying goodbye as they leave the room. Connections are being made. It makes me happy.

Of course, I'll be bitching as usual once their papers come in, but I'm pleased to report that most of the self-evaluations were pretty good, showed a reasonable level of skill on almost everyone's part. (I was pretty proud of myself that I got them back today, too, despite not having worked on them over the weekend: I'm grateful as hell that things were significantly more quiet in Advisement than last week, so I mostly chipped away at them then.) Now I have a batch of journals to look at, and again, I'll be interested to see how they did. I already know that one or two did a miserably bad job--but I'll let them revise the first two, as I did last semester. Once they get feedback from me, they should have a better handle on what I'm looking for. One hopes.

And I am, again, paralytically tired, body still trying to adjust to the early morning alarm. I have a strong suspicion that I won't be getting much work done during my evening office hour on Mondays: those will be my longest days by far, especially if one counts the hour I spend in the office pulling my socks up and combing the snarls out of my brain before I go to teach my first class. I am in awe of the fact that Paul not only commutes away to his other life each weekend but that he can roll in the office door fifteen minutes before class, grab a few things off his desk, and go teach. Man, I need that hour and I need it here, in this room, or I'm not in my "professor" head. (One might wonder, sometimes, how effective that professor head is--it is certainly absent-minded on many occasions--but I still need to put on that particular mental costume, and it takes time.)

Two pearls of wisdom to end this blog: one from Sir Francis Bacon, one from a student who shall remain nameless.

"One method of delivery alone remains to us; which is simply this: we must lead men to the particulars themselves, and their series and order; while men on their side must force themselves for awhile to lay their notions by and begin to familiarise themselves with facts."

"Reading and writing have been around for hundreds of years. [...] Back in the day, long ago, people even used them for entertainment."

I leave you to decide which was written by whom.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Mixed bag

Had a full house for Nature in Lit today. Some of the students who weren't there the first day may not make it to the end of the semester--even with my stated desire to be as flexible as possible. I still have pretty strict standards about actual learning, and I'm not sure they have the reading (never mind writing) chops to make it through. But we'll see. I may end up shelving a class (or two) to have individual conferences with them, just to give them every possible chance to succeed.

Despite my concern over a few of them, the class went pretty well: some good comments and questions, interesting responses to the readings. The first readings are tough, I think (Bradford's Of Plymouth Plantation and Smith's Description of Virginia): the archaic language is unfamiliar and somewhat uncomfortable, and both men tend to pound their points into the ground (so to speak). But I find that, as the semester progresses, it helps to have been reminded where we began in our relationships to this continent. I spent a fair amount of time today scrounging around to find additional readings, should we need them, for this week and next. It'll be interesting to see how things go when they have done the reading on their own and have completed journals/logs to refer to for the discussion.

By contrast, I had fewer students in Native American Lit: one was there who hadn't been in class last time, but we were missing several who had been there on Tuesday. Still, the discussion was great, if a little tentative at first (other than the Guinea Pig, who needs to be suppressed). Only one student remained silent for the entire discussion; everyone else at least said one thing--though of course a couple of voices were dominant. I'm definitely going to have to be on my toes: the Guinea Pig got an Eagle Scout merit badge in Native American Culture (I feel more than a little concern about the validity of the information that was conveyed, but I need to know what I'm talking about to confirm or counter what he thinks he knows), and another student obviously knows something about Native cultures--from whence, I know not, but it's cool that she does. It may be a class in which I have to confess my relative ignorance on more occasions than usual--but that's generally a good experience.

And next week, there will be a brand new student in 102. Someone dropped (or was dropped) and the seat was immediately snapped up by one of those poor, frantic students desperately looking for a full schedule (or a preferable professor--which may backfire on the poor kid). I sent him/her (?can't tell from the first name) an e-mail with the syllabus, information about the reader, the reading journal form, the self-evaluation assignment: I'm hoping she/he gets it all and that it all makes sense--and if not, that the student has the good sense to contact me and get clarification. I imagine the student being utterly overwhelmed (assuming he/she does get the e-mail), but on the other hand, at least the student has a shot at coming in on Monday ready to go, instead of completely at sea.

But I'm saving the best, most interesting piece of news for last. I just checked my e-mail, and there was a message from a former student: she took Native American Lit from me last spring. I was expecting either one of those charming "I just wanted to say hello" messages (similar to what I got recently on Facebook from a student who was in Nature in Lit the last time I taught it--three years ago)--or maybe a request for a letter of recommendation. I have to quote her e-mail, as I found it astonishing, and moving, and very exciting. After telling me how well she's doing at her new university and her plans to go to graduate school to pursue a career as an English professor, she wrote the following:

I have a proposition for you. I cannot express in words how influential you've been in my development as a student. You have prepared me immensely for my senior thesis. I have continued doing your reading journals for all of my classes because they are an effective form of note taking. I have learned so much from you as your student and I was hoping I could learn from you further because you are the kind of professor that I aspire to be. I have Wednesdays off this semester so if you're teaching any classes on Wednesdays I was wondering if you would allow me to be an observer or an assistant for you. Of course, you would dictate the terms - I could come every week or once in a while, I would just love the opportunity to pick your brain and learn from you. I will not be offended if you say no, I understand you have enough on your plate without having to bear an apprentice, but if you would consider my proposition I would truly appreciate it.

I am, of course, going to give her an enthusiastic yes--if she doesn't mind coming to a 102 class (which is the only thing I teach on Wednesdays). I'm not sure how we'll work out her apprenticeship: certainly she can observe, but I don't want to use her for scut work--nor to grade papers--so I'm not sure how she might assist me. But I'll be delighted to meet with her and talk it out. And I am honored, profoundly touched, that she feels she learned so much from me, my methods, my class. Any time I think about wanting to give up teaching altogether, I'll have to remember this.

And I think that's a good note to end the week on. There is a fair amount of school stuff hovering over my head as I head into the weekend, but the next three days are going to be all about my article, getting it done and submitted and out of my hair. I anticipate needing all three days to do it, but I'll take a little work home, just in case I get the article done more quickly and easily than I anticipate and still have time--and energy and enthusiasm--left over. I leave with the sweet taste of recognition in my mouth.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Day is done

Whew, another manic day. I'm trying to get out of here pretty quickly: I had intended to take a yoga class tonight, but I'm so tired (body not adjusted to the early morning schedule yet) that I may pass this week, try again next. It's very hard for me to put my own physical, psychological and emotional needs first, even though I know how important it is. So it's a toss up: which do I need more, a new physical activity or sleep? I'll ponder this dilemma on the way home, but right at the moment, the idea of an evening of sloth and early bed is awfully damned tempting.

Today started with a demitasse of guilt: I almost never check my voice-mail, but I did this morning--and got a message that the "retention pool" (an administrative paperwork hoop required by the adjunct union) was due yesterday. And it was still sitting on my desk. Last night, I'd realized I'd made an error on one portion of the paperwork, so, thinking I had time to spare, I decided I'd fix it this morning. Which, in fact, I did, just with a greater sense of urgency than I'd have felt otherwise--and I offered abject apologies to anyone concerned for being late with it. No harm, no foul, I'm sure, but when one is asked to handle something, it's a good idea to read the instructions to find out when the damned thing is due.

I finished that task just in time to run to Advisement. When I first arrived, I thought, "Oh, good! It's quieted down significantly"--and in fact, it had, but students still arrived in waves (rather large ones), so although I could nip away at some of my own paperwork, I had to continually stop for a few students, start up, stop again and advise a few more, and so on.

When I got back to the office and checked Banner, enrollment has shifted yet again. I gained one more student in Nature in Lit (and just heard from Paul that another is trying to decide between his class and mine: they're both open and both meet at the same time); I lost two in Native American Lit. They were two of the ones I said yesterday wouldn't make it. I thought they might hang in a little longer--but then again, I did see them looking at the first handout of readings and making ooky faces over the number of pages.... Just as well they're gone. Of course, the enrollment may have shifted yet again by tomorrow morning, but I'll just keep checking and trying to keep up with it.

I still didn't have a full house in 102. There were two new students (one new registrant, one who was on the roster from the beginning but hadn't been in class); one who was there Monday is no longer enrolled, and a few were just AWOL. But the class went pretty well today. The students who didn't have their readers with them were sent off to get them--and in a highly unusual move, I actually did go through the reader, explaining the parts, to those who were there and prepared. Then I started reading the first story aloud, had them annotate their texts and get ready for ideas to put in their reading journals. I'm not sure how successful that part was, but they were already getting the idea of the kinds of reactions that I want in journals--and getting the idea that I don't want them to use the journal/log to ask a question they already have answered on their own.

Given the nature of the process (early in the semester, working with the whole class, not the comfort of small groups), a surprisingly large number were willing to talk, which was nice--and they were making good points. And bonus for me: I'm already learning some of their names. Of course, one acted a bit put upon that they are required to read the entire rest of the story (all 7 pages) and do a journal/log on it by Monday; I could tell on Monday she's going to be a problem child. She's already pulling the "I don't have time to do these assignments; I have to work" card. Pretty soon I'll tell her, "You need to make a choice. If you can't keep up with the work of the class-and if you can't get here on time--you need to withdraw and take the class some other time." She'll resist that, but I'll just be as clear as I can be that she can't complain about the work and expect it to change just because it's hard for her schedule. Either stay in the class, show up on time, and do the work on time, or get out. That simple. But as for the rest, I feel less worried about them after today; they were distinctly less lumpy than they were on Monday. Maybe by mid-semester, I'll be writing about how I have to haul them out of the chandeliers.

Blah. I'm done for the day. I can't even sort through my desk to be sure I'm ready for class tomorrow; I'll have to pull myself together as well as I can in the morning and hope it's good enough. Gawd, I can't even think about this any more. I'm going home.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Most of 'em

I've now met most of my students for this semester. The Native American Lit is the usual mixed bag: I was joking earlier to buddy Sara that there is one student who needs to be treated like the guinea pigs in Alice in Wonderland (suppressed by being put in a burlap bag and sat upon: he's a little over enthusiastic and doesn't quite know when enough is enough); there are a few that I can tell right now are headed for withdrawal (I hate to say it, but I know it's true); a few seem bright, engaged, and very interested--and the remainder, who can tell? Three of the fourteen currently registered were missing today: we'll see if they show up on Thursday.

I will say that when we got talking about the things that spring to mind when we think about the terms "Native American" and "American Indian," they came up with a lot of interesting stuff--more than I've often experienced in the past--and they really got into the spirit of the thing, tossing stuff at me as I wrote on the board. Very cool: I love when that happens. And I found myself bringing up some key concepts that I've not hit on so early or so clearly in semesters past. This is the advantage and the downside to the fact that my teaching is so improvisational: I often forget something crucial, or don't deliver it as clearly as I have at other times, but then again, I can be visited by an inspiration that does more than I'd have planned. I figure it all balances out--and it keeps me on my toes, which is the main thing.

Looking back on today, my primary reaction is to be astounded at how little I managed to accomplish. But I do at least have a better sense of what I need to do and in what order, which is comforting. I'll try to get an hour or two of work in before I go to Advisement tomorrow--and I will take work with me, even though I strongly suspect that the panic-stricken mobs will only have increased over the last two days, as more students realize they're shut out of their classes. We also have to attend a meeting with the powers that be over there. We just got an e-mail about that, and the agenda seems to me loaded with unnecessary items (the whole meeting feels unnecessary to me, in fact), but I'll be there anyway, so, enh.

As for the rest of what I'm facing tomorrow and Thursday: there's been a little bit of shuffling in the 102: one student who was there on Monday is no longer on my roster, has been replaced by a new student, and I've got one new student in Nature in Lit, in addition to the two who weren't there on Monday. And who knows what will happen with the students in Native American Lit, now that they've seen the syllabus and the first handout of readings. But the drop-add session ends on Friday; after that, I can't get any new students--though we know I'll lose some. OK, I'll lose a lot, but hopefully I'll keep a solid core group in all three classes.

Not much else to report at this juncture. I'm having dinner with Paul tonight, hooray, so I'm blasting out of here pretty soon. It will be interesting to see what I get done tomorrow.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Ay-yi-yi

I'm still not done for the day, and I've been on the go sinc 8:15 a.m., when I got to campus. I still have to talk with the Managing Director of ASLE about an affiliation issue (long story and I don't fully understand it yet myself), but I'm not sure how intelligent or intelligible I'll be by then.

I was absolutely certain that I'd have a ton of time in Advisement today to work on stuff, had a huge list of things to accomplish; Paul and I were bitching about the fact that we were being required to go in (we usually don't have to show up for at least the first two weeks of the semester) and that no one would be there.... Oh, so wrong. The place was packed, mobbed, filled to overflowing. There were several issues: 1) students whose schedules had been canceled because their financial aid wasn't applied to their tuition in time, or (unbeknownst to them) didn't cover the full amount; 2) students who were brand new to NCC and either had no idea how to register, didn't know what to register for--or, in one memorable case, "didn't know that classes started this week." There were other problems as well: students who suddenly realized a class had been canceled, or who suddenly realized they weren't sure they'd registered for the right stuff, or whatever. But 99.9% of the courses are already filled to capacity, so a lot of them either won't be able to sign up at all, or will sign up for stuff that doesn't help them in their specific program, or will only be able to go part time.

And yet the administration refuses to hire back the faculty they let go last spring.

Well, I'm too tired to rant and rave about that at the moment, but I may start saying to students, "You know, you should write to the president of the college and ask him why he fired full-time faculty, and explain to him that his decision to let faculty go means that he's losing you as a student." Maybe. Depends on how energetic--and pissed off--I am by then.

Of course, one thing that results is that some of the flotsam will sweep into my electives. Native American Lit is up to 14 now, and Nature in Lit up to 8. Both numbers may rise further by Friday, when the drop-add period ends. Of course, it's unlikely that anyone who is registering at this juncture is precisely calibrated to do well in my classes, but surprises are always possible.

Today in Nature in Lit, five of the seven registered at that time showed up; I don't know where the other two were. The five who were there seem smart, and all said that they love to read and write--as well as being interested in the subject matter--and I don't think they were brownnosing. It will, of course, be interesting to see how this class shakes out as the semester goes along, but they very clearly are a "self-selected" group, ones who actively wanted to be in the class, as opposed to those who take, say, Early American Lit, most of whom sign up for it because it's the first class on the list.

The 102 worries me a bit, but I'm trying to take comfort in William's conviction that the classes we think will be magnificent usually bomb and vice versa. The students were pretty lumpish and unresponsive, though when I started talking to them about the change thing, and about the desire to appear smart ("smart is sexy"), most of them lit up. One young man already seems ready to challenge everything, seemed to walk in the door with a chip on his shoulder: I'll be interested to see if my first impression is at all correct. A couple were nodding thoughtfully. One surprised me by suddenly grinning at one of my jokes: I'd thought the lights were completely off, but no, he just was hiding them, apparently. We'll see, we'll see.

I left my desk in a completely disastrous wreck: I have no idea what is most important or where most things are in the blizzard of paper that covers every horizontal surface near where I (ostensibly) work. So I plan to get up at 6:30 tomorrow (a whole hour later than today!) and get in way early so I have a ton of time before my class at 2:30. I don't think we have P&B tomorrow, so with luck I can churn through a whole lotta stuff, get my feet--and head--clear.

But now I need to put some food in my belly and stare at the printouts about this ASLE wrinkle until the phone call at 8:45 or so--much much later than I usually like to be "working" but I also want to get this nailed down. Last time this woman and I tried to find time to talk about my position with ASLE it took us months to get it pulled together. I just don't want this to drag out any longer than necessary, and if that means a late night and a hard time letting go of work adrenaline, so be it.

Flinging this up, unproofed--not even spell checked. Dinner is ready.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Miracle!

I did pray, and the prayers were answered. Not the way I thought they would be, but answered: Nature in Lit is going to run. It has all of seven students (though there may be a few last second arrivals), but it's running anyway. Bruce was talking with the dean of our area and said that he felt it was grossly unfair that honors courses run with very low enrollment when A) remedial students also need the individual attention of small numbers in the class and B) that my course was in danger of being canceled with 8 students. The dean knows me, likes me personally, thinks I'm a good teacher--so she was willing to let it run with 8. Seven seemed like asking too much, and we went back and forth about it today (I even called Bright Young Man to see if he could get back into the class--no go, as he has an Honors course conflict), but just 20 minutes ago, Bruce talked to the dean again and she decided to let it run.

I sing thanks and praise, hosannas and praise. Now I have to quickly pull out a syllabus and some assignments (based on what I did millennia ago) and probably get to Kinkos for copying, as I won't be able to get that done today before I have to run off to a doctor's appointment. And now I face a semester of ungodly early mornings, which I'll probably bitch about. But it's so worth it, completely worth it, utterly worth it to teach my dream class. Gratitude is streaming out of me in waves.

But I have to nail down a few things now that my schedule is finally final and then blast off to see the doctor. Happy, happy, happy me.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Shot out of a cannon

Happy New Year, y'all, and here I am, back at the blog, first post of the new year and new semester.

Even before I returned to campus for a few days last week to help Bruce with adjunct scheduling, I'd actually been doing a fair amount of work at home, chipping away at the article I want to get published (which, of course, turned out to need a lot more work than I thought, once I started reading it with actual attention), chipping away at other bits of work stuff. I'm still unsure what my schedule is going to be. The miracle that would make Nature in Lit fly looks increasingly unlikely: it only has 8 students registered right now, and it needs at least 13 to be allowed to run--and even that would be a fight. And there's one more day for students to register. Native American Lit is also a bit dicey: we'd hit the magic number, but then two students dropped out (or were disenrolled because they hadn't paid their tuition in time)--but I'm choosing to believe that class will, in fact, be allowed to proceed, even with the low numbers. And I've not stopped praying for that miracle on Nature in Lit.

Ostensibly I was supposed to help Bruce today, in the last flurry before contracts are signed, but I ended up having to help schedule the full-time faculty (one of the full members of that committee couldn't make it today, so I stepped in as alternate). We got schedules built for everyone with amazingly little tearing out of hair, and tomorrow the full committee members will check everything over and with luck find at least most of the mistakes. So I'll be on tap for Bruce again, if he needs me (and he may, to resolve my schedule at least)--and whenever he doesn't need me, I'll be up here in the office, trying to get everything typed up, printed out, and photocopied for the next few weeks.

I've gone back and forth about 40 times about how to structure assignments for Native American Lit, how to weight the grades and how to handle the mini-papers, and as I lay awake this morning at 5:30 a.m., I decided to stop fussing with it and essentially do exactly what I've done the past few semesters. I did reword the mini-paper assignment slightly, to try to emphasize the role of those papers in working toward the larger essays (I did the same with the reading journal/idea log form), but I had contemplated a much more in-depth reconfiguration. I decided against it because even I thought it sounded too hard. I'd rather give the students more freedom in their early assignments, as I think they need opportunities to try out things that don't work without feeling too horrified by the ensuing crash and burn.

But having been back and forth on all of that so many times, I now feel I need to proofread every handout extremely carefully to be sure I haven't made any howling blunders. And I can't do that on four hours of sleep and at the end of a relatively manic day. So that's for tomorrow.

I'll spend a lot of tomorrow and part of Friday at the copiers, no doubt. I hope it's a good sign that the repair guy was in today, that he's got everything tuned up so I can get my licks in before the machines go south again. (They are getting old and over-used, and so they break down far too frequently for one to feel sanguine about last-second copying.) How reliant we've become on such technology! Remember ditto-masters? Mimeographs? (Are those the same thing? One would check on Wikipedia, but because of the legislative bruhaha, one can't....)

I also already have some student stories for this semester, before things have even begun. One is a student in one of my 102s, who contacted me I think almost two weeks ago to ask about the textbooks for the class. Clearly an eager beaver, but I've had mixed results with that sort. Some come through and do well; more fall apart when the pressure hits. We'll see. The other is the Bright Young Man from last semester. He's been e-mailing me regularly--for a while there, virtually daily--to keep me up to speed on his thoughts regarding transfer. He's got top-notch schools in mind (and rightly so), and he just got accepted into the Honors program here, which should help his applications. He was in Nature in Lit but (wisely) decided to take an Honors English course instead, one that is at least somewhat more likely to run. I'd rather hoped I could snag him for Native American Lit, if Nature in Lit fell apart, but I applaud and support his decision to do what's right for him. It's been interesting to hear what he's thinking, and to watch a young man's intelligent indecisions. I do like it when students want me for a mentor: that makes me more proud than just about anything else I do.

In any event, I'm now fading relatively quickly. I'll need to noodle around here a little longer, just to sort my brains out enough that I know whether I'm heading home or out to dinner from here. I may blog again tomorrow, depending on how the day goes. And maybe Friday, if there's anything of interest to report. And then next week, it all begins. Ay-yi-yi.