Epistola Alexandri
(...I don't even have a little dog Toto...)
And so a new week begins. In celebration of this fact, I got up nice and early (5:30 or so), did some Tai Ch'i -- which I was glad to see the old body still remembered -- and did some reading. Pretty soon I'll head up to the office, get the Magtape that has Peter the Nibbler on it, do some serious printing, and then teach.

I finished a great book this weekend: Kim Stanley Robinson's The Years of Rice and Salt. It's an Alternate History set in a world in which the Black Death all but annihilated Europe, and history continues unabated as a conflict between the Dar-al-Islam, the various Chinese empires, the Sind between them, and a united front of Amerinds. It was one of those books when, upon reaching the end, you just kind of sit there in a glowing daze for a couple of hours, disappointed that the book has ended but so grateful for its existence in the first place. It comes highly recommended.


De Docendo Compositionis Primus
Well, since you folks have asked, and since I've been remiss, here is my impression of the first couple of days of class.
(ear-shattering scream)
Only more so.
Seriously, though, it hasn't been so bad. They're a good bunch of students, really they are, and I'm looking forward to the semester. It's rather a lot like teaching at the Scout Camp was, only they don't go home after a week. I've almost got their names memorized (almost).
Aside from that, things seem to be shaping up vis-a-vis classes and such. I really don't know what to say (which may be an indication of what's going on -- my brain is fried at the moment).
Comments are welcome.


A Century of Fakers
Today will be my first day of teaching. Gods help us all.

More later.


Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner
Yeah, I know I haven't posted anything about the last day of "boot camp", but it's been kind of rough the past few days. Nothing serious, just having to scrap with the Grad School about my status as a Graduate Student (the system has me listed as an Undergrad, and apparently the installation of She Who Must Be Obeyed has caused more trouble than it's worth except to HE my lord the chancellor's dick size). Mea Koopa -- er, Culpa (damn Catlicks).
Anyway, Thursday went rather quickly -- we only took half the day -- but was not without event. After walking down the hill and practically on to Sixth Street to find the key office, several of us discovered that the simpering fool behind the counter would not accept our cards because there was a smudge over part of the signature. Trekking back up the hill, we found Chad in a state of high dudgeon; after he finished chewing out the key shed guy, he signed our cards, and some of us went back down the hill, only to discover that Key Shed Guy didn't have any building or mailroom keys. It's the key office. Shouldn't they have the ability to make keys?
That was Thursday. Friday found me shuffling around the Grad School offices, trying to straighten out my good name -- a feat made impossible by the imposition of ISIS. My paperwork, like so many people's, is lost in the shuffle, but should be sorted out really soon. I'm hoping damn soon, because after next week I'll be in dire straits vis-a-vis financial aid and billing, not to mention the fact that classes start next Monday. I'm going to find the engineer who designed ISIS, as well as the administrators who decided to impose it on us, and I will eject them bodily into space. Perhaps twice.
But I also bought books yesterday, which made me feel ever-so-nice, especially since I'll be in the Grad Seminar on Science Fiction. It'll be like sixteen weeks of candy.


Boot Camp, Day Three: Hurry Up and Wait
Today consisted of a brief meeting with the folks at the Writing Center (where I worked before, of course, and so was well aware of the resources available to teachers and students), followed by going over the papers we had to mark up the night before. For the most part it looks like we've all got some idea of what to look for in a "good paper", as we've reached consensus a lot in terms of grades. After an early break for lunch, we sang "Happy Birthday" to Dr. van Sycoc, who casually mentioned himself to be 78, ending much speculation on our and Dr. Slattery's part. We then did a bit on writing workshops, which I'm still unclear about running but am all in favour of doing in-class, and then he let us go early (quarter to two). While this was a boon for some people, I had to see Dr. Booker at 4:45, which meant I had three hours to kill.
Luckily I had gotten a copy of the York Plays (and the N-Town plays) from HE My Lord the Doctor Quinn earlier in the day, and had those to read & research on, which I did, mostly. I also tweaked the syllabus some more, adding a nifty background and adjusting some of the point values for the assignments. I've also begun to understand why Dr. Dave graded the way he did -- if I've got forty students' five-page essays to grade by the class after next, I'd put a bunch of checkmarks and "Good!"s, too.
No other news to report, as of yet; I'm hoping to get 706 as an office. It's pretty cool in that all of the 7th floor of Kimpel is English faculty and TAs, which makes a pretty tight-knit group as far as I've heard.
It might rain tonight or tomorrow, which would be great, as it means I might sleep continuously from 10-6. Oh, the luxury!
Anyway, I'm off to grade and read more of these essays. Cheers!


Boot Camp, Day Two: Why Johnny Can't Read
Tuesday's session went fairly well. The morning was spent going over policies and procedures -- our own, mind you -- and looking at Slattery's Teacher's Syllabus, which starts out really explicit and grows more taciturn as the semester progresses. The more I looked at my p&p, the more I began to wonder if I weren't talking over my students' heads. That may end up being a problem. One bit of advice we got on Monday was that it might be good to issue an anonymous survey to your class in the first few weeks, just to see how things are going, and I may try that.
After lunch (provided by the department), we got the general policies and procedures lecture from Dr. van Scyoc, who's somewhere between your ultimate commanding officer and your retired old grandad, and who's definitely a hoot. Actually, in all that plus his facial gestures and his smile-that-turns-into-a-laugh, he reminds me of PawPaw (a lot, really, which is somewhat unsettling). Anyway, there are a lot of do's and dinnae's, some of which are obvious and some not.
We finished out the day with some roundtable grading, which was helpful, in that I'd misread some of the practice papers (and discovered that I've a bad habit of making assumptions about students' papers). Still, that's all part of the process and will come out in the wash, to be sure.
I have also uploaded my policies sheet, syllabus, and the University's Academic Dishonesty sheet to my webspace; go to http://comp.uark.edu/~jcl08/, go to "Composition I", and play around from there. I'll probably jazz it up after a while, but hey, I don't even have students yet.


Boot Camp, Day One: Basics of Teaching

Yesterday was the first day of TA orientation, and for me that meant meeting everyone briefly, then going to the Business college for the general orientation session. There were a few classes on things like ethics, learning styles and teaching tips, and for the most part they were really helpful; the biggest things I learned were that the first day isn't going to be all that bad, and that a well-thought out syllabus can really cover your ass. Then there was lunch, and another session in which Dr. Slattery introduced the department and then outlined how Comp I would go. Last night I spent writing up a syllabus (harder than you'd think, especially since you have to come up with a grading scale, attendance policy, weather policy, and academic dishonesty policy), and then did a little practice grading. I think I was also supposed to start looking for a story to assign the students for their first paper, which I'll do shortly.
[Edit]: I forgot to say that Dr. Quinn approves of my idea to look at vernacular culture in the Medieval Mystery play, and has now commanded me to go forth and find a mystery cycle to work on.
Not much to report aside from that. I'm feeling slightly better about teaching, but not by much.


In the Jailhouse Now, No 2

Well, I'm back. (I know, you were missing the blog so, like a teenybopper without Elvis, like Spinal Tap without their cocaine.) And yes, the rumours are true: I have an assistantship, and will be going to the Uni as a TA for an English MA. I've also moved back into my old apartment, and will spend most of to-morrow assembling shelves, re-organising my apartment, and cleaning up. Right now, though, I'm dead tired, and will have to get some sleep -- just as soon as I've cleared off my bed. Cheers.


This is just a little note to say...


I'm officially putting the blog on hiatus until I get back in Fayetteville, which should be around the *ulp* fourteenth.

Oh, and I did, finally, get an assistanceship, which is why I can return to Fayetteville, my head held high and debt-free.