Small Moments of Glory

Maybe I will start posting about times I have glory on the battlefield of the bulge. Profiles in courage, if you will. Today I went to Subway to grab a sandwich for lunch. I got the meal deal and was torn between the baked Lays and the apple slices. I flipped them around and compared nutritional information. Chips: 130 calories. Apples: 30 calories. I got the apples -- with unsweetened tea and a six-inch steak & cheese sub on wheat. I know there are subs with less fat and fewer calories, but I requested half the usual amount of cheese, and mustard was the only condiment.

Perhaps next time I will get only the sandwich and not the *meal.*

Also, I'm going to eat a BIG salad for dinner so that the bag of greens I got won't end up cash-in-the-trash.

Wide-Legged Gait

Henry started walking right around the end of thirteen months. He's been practicing, and at fourteen months and one week, here's what it looks like. Jonathan noted that he has a wide-legged gait; I imagine many toddlers start out that way.

(I think he became more motivated to walk when he figured out that he can suck his thumb and be mobile at the same time that way -- not so easy while crawling.)

Research Writing Skills

I've been thinking for a while now about all the various skill sets required in order to write a good, source-driven research paper. When I hear the "Johnny can't write" laments, and when I hear teachers complain about their students' failure to meet their expectations, I think of the complexity of what we are asking them to do when we ask them to write research papers (a.k.a. source-based papers, research essays, etc.). In order to do this well, students must have at least these five abilities:

1. the ability to marshal evidence for a specific purpose, or to make a point. This is the highest-order concern: keeping students from turning in a data dump. Students need to know how to be in control of the source information and use it in the service of their own argument
and organizational logic.

2. the ability to find sources (in library databases, on the internet, in the stacks, etc.) and evaluate their credibility. Also, the critical reading ability involved in finding a variety of sources that express a range of viewpoints on an issue, so that the student has a balanced bibliography of sources.

3. the ability to translate or convert another author's style into the student's style, also known as paraphrasing -- never an easy skill to teach.

4. the ability to integrate quoted material smoothly into the student's prose, which includes the use of attributive tags ("Jones argues that..." "According to Jones...") and what some call the quotation cycle, or: setting up a quotation, giving the quotation, and then interpreting the quotation or connecting it to something else -- the whole "don't just stick quotations in and leave them hanging" principle. There's a whole book devoted to just this skill -- though skill #1 is part of that, for sure.

5. the ability to master a documentation style like MLA. "What goes in the parentheses? The author's name and page number? What if there aren't page numbers? What if there isn't an author's name?"

There are probably more; I haven't even touched on audience, context, and purpose of the assignment. My notes here aren't any great contribution, but I just want to get them out there.

Ten things I did today

I'm taking Laura's cue and listing ten things I did today. You will quickly see that my day didn't turn out as planned:

1. Did a bit of administrative work (retrieving and filing articles) for a research project I'm working on. Wrote some other work-related emails.

2. Got a massage.

3. Grabbed tacos at a little taco shack for lunch for Jonathan and me.

4. Upon getting home, realized that Henry was burning up. Took temperature: 102.7. Freaked out.

5. Called pediatrician, who of course was already gone for the day.

6. Gave Tylenol to Henry per nurse's suggestion to just watch him and give him Tylenol/Motrin to keep fever down.

7. Took Henry to urgent care anyway; nurse checked temp, 103.

8. Gave Henry a huge dose of Motrin as the doctor directed.

9. Sat in a hot car worried sick about my baby in the rear-facing car seat in traffic for a solid hour before getting to the pharmacy for antibiotics.

10. Took Henry's temperature several more times; it has returned to normal now.

It's going to be a long night...

Jem and Le Tigre get Sealab 2021'ed

Via Feministing, fabulous:

I would love to see this done with a Go-Gos song.

Technologies of Writing

Jonathan and I were talking the other day about how David Foster Wallace did his writing with pen and paper:

Wallace worked longhand, pages piling up. "You look at the clock and seven hours have passed and your hand is cramped," Wallace said. He'd have pens he considered hot — cheap Bic ballpoints, like batters have bats that are hot. A pen that was hot he called the orgasm pen.

Apparently in another article, something Jonathan had read, Wallace said something else about his choice to write with pen and paper, that his writing was better -- more complex and insightful -- when done with pen and paper than on a computer. Then I find this passage in Betty Friedan's autobiography, Life So Far, a great book, I might add. Friedan was in the process of writing The Feminine Mystique and had a writing carrel at the New York Public Library, where she stored her typewriter. One night after the children were asleep, she had done some reading and took out a pen and legal pad to write (p. 113):

On the living-room couch, I started writing the third chapter of The Feminine Mystique, "The Crisis in Woman's Identity," applying to myself, and the women I'd been interviewing, basic concepts about the self, and identity crisis, as they had not been applied to women. And I got to such a different level of thinking, writing by hand on the yellow legal pad that night -- the crucial chapter in The Feminine Mystique, where I spelled out how it had happened to me personally, a truth that other women could identify with -- that I have literally not touched a typewriter since, let alone a word processor.

I might have to give pen/paper a try, even though it sounds soooo tedious.

Parent Hackage

I'm pleased to say that one of my hacks has made Parent Hacks. I submitted it to them, of course, but still.

I just completed another hack, this time a baby-finger-food-hack. I cooked elbow macaroni, put it on a plate after draining, then topped it with some shredded cheese and microwaved it for a few seconds. The result: mac and cheese that you can pick up and eat, unlike the regular kind that's coated in cheese sauce (and a bit hard to pick up in little fingers).

Summer Projects

It's somewhat exhausting to think about everything I need to do this summer. But maybe laying it out, here in a public space, will help me get all the to-dos out of my head, where they've been swirling around.

Research

1. Book proposal: get it done, send it out.

2. Maybe an article manuscript in response to a CFP I saw. If not that, then definitely a good draft of a Program Profile for Composition Forum, something my department chair has encouraged me to write.

3. Review a manuscript for a journal.

4. Review a book.

Teaching

1. Prepare for first-year writing course I'm teaching in the fall. We are in the planning stages of making some possible changes to the first-year writing curriculum here, and some of us will be class-testing new books this fall. I'm class-testing They Say, I Say with a 102 class.

2. Continue to read and respond to chapters by the authors of the two dissertations and one master's thesis I'm directing.

Home Improvement

1. Clean out dining room closets. Yes, it's wacky to have closets in the dining room, but you get used to it.

2. Acquire and/or create, frame, and hang up some good art for our walls.

3. Clean out/organize closet in guest bedroom.

Miscellaneous

1. Take one-day pediatric CPR/first aid class.

2. Update CV.

3. Read at least two novels. I'm thinking one of these will be by Philip K. Dick.

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