Tag Archives: writing

Non-Human Community

My department recently hosted a three-day Teaching with Technology seminar. I feel I’m already fairly plugged in enough that I have most of the skills involved in teaching using the Internet and social media, though sometimes I do need to be exposed to ideas why this might an area in which I’d want to increase my abilities. I have students in my Science Writing class write blogs over the course of the semester, with some mixed results, but by and large I’m a pen-and-paper kind of composition instructor. Part of it is practical: in a large state university, we’re not providing the students with laptops or tablets, and I can’t necessarily count on students having regular and unimpeded access to devices during class-time. I’m also hyper-vigilant about electronic technologies distracting students from the task at hand during the class, and flipping open a laptop screen reveals at times too many temptations to students, and too many distractions to other students seated behind them.

At the same time, I acknowledge and am a living example of how much actual writing going on in the world is occurring on-line, or at the very least, is occurring while a small stream of on-line information is being held at the ready. Even when writing about nature, I find I’ll have several browser tabs open with scientific or natural history information. I think it’s important to get students aware of and working with these tools in a way that strengthens their own arguments and develops a sense of writing as in part a community process.

So I came away with at the very least a renewed commitment to pushing my students more dramatically toward doing their work online, making the Internet part of the classroom rather than simply a distraction, and particularly my more advanced writing students. I’m still on the fence about whether to drop my usual writing journal requirement for my Writing as a Naturalist class in favor of a blog, as there are still so many advantages in getting students in the habit of taking in-the-field notes. Certainly I will make every effort to either get them to bring laptops or if that fails make machines available to them during class to do collaborative peer-editing on Google Docs, so that not only can I see what revision suggestions are for student drafts but I can also share the drafts with the class for discussion and further revision.

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Job search update

Two whole weeks!?! It’s been that long since my last post.

Well, I have been sick. And busy. Very busy at a job that I want to leave very much because of its insistent busyness, an insistent busyness that also keeps me too busy to actively search for other jobs. There is a bit more than three weeks of the semester left, but the job search window is closing fast, and I’ve not been able to complete many of the applications before deadlines. Soon I’ll be able to write and submit proposals to conferences and submit articles to journals and do all the other pointlessly alienated things academics do to raise their profile, and still be too busy the following job search cycle to take advantage of any tentative bites on those offerings.

I’ll also be preparing a non-academic resume and shopping it out to publishers and other preparers of academic and educational services in the hopes that I might be able to find a position there or somewhere like. Part of me is indeed very hopeful that I might be more successful doing that than the academic search. It’s no secret that I’m disillusioned and more than a little bitter about academic work, my inability to escape non-tenure track status, and the current state of the academy in general. I’d like to be getting a little more scratch, quite honestly, and that may be hoping for a little much at this point, but one of the unpleasant truths of academic life is that we are paid far less for the level of qualifications and the amount of work done than any other professional class.

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Cooking meat

I should be grading, or revising my teaching letter to send out for job applications, but the flu has laid me pretty low today. So I’ll make a quick post.

Thanks to those of you who are following along despite my unorthodox approach to the art of blogging. My posts may not be short, but they’re short for the format I’m accustomed to writing in, the academic article/paper. My thoughts were to experiment in writing series of short, off-the-cuff essays on topics that are important to me: namely, the natural world, my ambiguous professional status, writing as an art and discipline, secularism, and cooking. There are so many more I could add, but I thought these choices would give the blog consistency and coherence and still reflect the full presence of a mind.

I’m enjoying it immensely – I honestly do enjoy writing, and my life is too chaotic and fragmented right now for me to find the peace and concentration to write poetry, so the blog has become a welcome companion. I hope that I’m good at it: most of the posts are written in one or two brief sittings, and then edited for spelling and grammar live on the blog the day they’re posted. The one exception is a post on science and belief ideologies I’ve been working on, which, perhaps because it’s more like my academic work, has taken several sittings and may not ever make it up.

I’m constantly tempted to post shorter pieces on the attractive detritus that I find strewn about the Web, because there’s a lot of it and I have lots of interests, but I’m forcing myself to limit those “link” posts to material that fits into the predefined array of topics. Meaning that people encountering the blog are being expected to do a lot of heavy lifting, while I’m simply enjoying having a form to fill with my typically overwrought sentences.

Anyway: cooking meat. I was a strict vegetarian for well over a dozen years, and then when my body began displaying signs of “metabolic syndrome” (hypertension, pre-diabetes, high cholesterol) I added seafood to my diet, thinking that would be healthier for the heart than a strictly vegetarian. That may be controversial, but I’ll stand by that assessment. That lasted for five years or so, and now over the past year I’ve become a full-blown carnivore. Or at least in what I’ll eat out and about. At home, I’m still largely vegetarian in what I cook. Why? Well, partly it’s because that’s still clearly a healthier (and more satisfying) way to live, but also because I’ve got no idea how to go about cooking a piece of meat.

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