Tuesday, September 30, 2008

TA Tuesdays: A new pattern emerges

I thought Tuesdays might be a smart day to reflect on the TA adventure and perhaps to vent about the events of my Monday morning teaching experiences. Yesterday I taught for the first time this term, once at 8am and then again at 10. I was surprisingly nervous before the first class began. I think the long summer break had me feeling rusty. 

The 8am class got the squeaky version of my performance. I covered all of the important first day stuff, but it wasn't as snazzy as my typical style. I talked too much and didn't get them engaged enough, but it was too early to think on my feet. It went ok, but not stellar. I give myself a B. 

During the hour between the two classes it occurred to me that the They Say, I Say templates we use in class are very much like a mad lib. They are in fact so clever that you can insert almost any topic into them and come up with something very arguable. To prove this I started ranting about Twinkies. 

Observe (the bold is my addition):

In recent discussions of snack foods, a controversial issue has been whether Twinkies are an acceptable snack. On the one hand, some argue that Twinkies are not healthy. From this perspective, it is clear that if a snack must be healthy, Twinkies will not qualify. On the other hand, however, others argue that a snack need not be healthy to be acceptable and satisfying. In the words of one of this view's main proponents, "A snack is an occasional item, thus a tasty Twinkie is totally acceptable". According to this view, the fact that a snack is a small item, not a staple of the diet, means that anything food in small quantity can be appropriate. 

Realizing this I decided to have the 10am students try this out. I had them get into small groups and gave them 5-7 minutes to draft something. They came up with some really good introductions. Topics included the USC/OSU game, logging, Batman, and McCain v. Obama. 

Tomorrow we'll talk about paper one and MLA. So much to little time.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sustainability and the TA

In an attempt to bring sustainability into my classroom I've turned all of the homework assignments into online assignments using our online classroom component known as "Blackboard". 

Although computers use a great deal of electricity, it is a simple fact that 99% of my students turn in computer produced homework assignments. Since they are on the computer anyway, I figure making the assignments paper-free will cut down on resource use, and reduce the clutter on my desk. I'm all in favor of this. 

I'm also experimenting with some online peer review. While this may not be a move toward sustainability, I want to see how the online portion of my class might be used to facilitate discussions that might not happen face-to-face. I have no idea how this will work, but at the very least it will be a learning experience for me. I think online teaching is a great thing. It is a way to reach students who otherwise might never attend the university. It is also a way to enhance the learning experience of students in traditional classes. Ideally I'd like to teach online courses in the future. Later this fall I'm planning to take a course offered through Chemeketa Community College called Hybrid Instruction. 

Tomorrow it all begins again. The teaching, the reading, the panicked writing, the marathon conferencing, the endless research.

Friday, September 26, 2008


So WAMU has been bought out by Chase... meh.

I was not a huge fan of WAMU since they mismanaged my account and Bird's, but it is sort of distressing to see an increasing consolidation of bank power. How much does Chase control? Seriously?

I'm thinking FDIC insured Federal Credit Union. Or my mattress. Either one seems like a good idea. 

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Summer Tagcloud

Apparently this is how I spent my summer... cool

Pre-Terrm Madness: How to update updates...

The past few days I've been working with Sara J, Peter and Laura to orient the new TA-folk. This has been an exciting and exhausting process for me, and likely for the incoming TAs as well. I sense that many of them might be feeling a bit overwhelmed, but it can't really be helped.

When it comes to my own situation I am at the moment bewildered but indifferent to the challenges of finding the correct classes to fulfill all of my requirements. I've decided to dedicate this term to completing one chapter (and hopefully the preface) of my thesis. I've also compiled about 12 schools that I am "interested" in attending (although really only two or three are totally desirable). The next step is signing up to take and studying for the subject GRE. I am not a big fan of standardized tests, and I typically don't do that well on them, so this is a source of some minor anxiety. To remediate this anxiety (a little at least) I am dropping most of my classes this term and taking some thesis hours to round out the gaps.

My teaching plans are in order so I am happy to say there is no tension surrounding that particular issue.

Wharton, Spanish class, Writing 121 and more Wharton look like the immediate future of my academic life.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Little Ruby

TA Tired

Helping to orient the new TA's has been surprisigly exhausting...maybe I am just rusty. Hopefully.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sustainability Stumbling

So this past weekend I decided it was time for me to get some new clothes for school. Clothes shopping is a huge issue for me for a number of reasons, not the least of which is my dismay over how fashion is used to "shape identity" in the consumer culture. If it were up to me I would own all second hand or hand made clothes, but my well-fed girth prevents the first and my lack of skill prevents the second. This being said I was prepared to spend some money on clothing that was either locally made or union made. 

I purchased a t-shirt at the Eugene Saturday Market from a guy who does batiking. The shirt is great and although it is not organic I felt pretty much ok because I was supporting a local artist. I still needed pants so I decided to find some Carhartts, since for as long as I can remember Carhartts are union made in the USA. 

Upon arriving back home I was dismayed to see that the pants I bought were Hecho en Mexico.

Boo...even Carhartts!!! Is there nothing sacred? I feel a bit bad about buying this gear, but mostly I am irked by the corporate decisions that I've just learned about (too late).

I guess I need to hunt up some sewing patterns...and some time.

New sustainability tub per week of recycling. Reducing packaging even more...yay.

New garden scavenging 5 gallon buckets and old clear plastic shower curtains

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Coastal Waters, Coast Range, Dog Coats

So we've been trying to squeeze the last drops out of summer these past few days.

We went to the coast on Thursday and had a nice time seeing the usual circuit of
places we and the dogs love. Agate Beach was almost empty and the cool clean air was a delight after many days in the smokey valley. The absence of humans on the beach helped to preserve a number of great sand formations, but high tide timing on our part made shell hunting unrewarding. We delighted in the huge driftwood tangles instead.

Today we took Hwy 99 to Eugene for
Saturday Market. The coast range was extra lovely with layers of smoke, cloud cover, and fog. In town we took the dogs to a new dog park and Freyja had a great time exploring the various little swimming pools. Later though we noticed that she was shivering, so we put one of my shirts on her...she was not pleased, however she was warm.

So it goes. Onward to fall!

Friday, September 19, 2008


Greetings on Talk Like a Pirate Day! Although I spent most of this day gardening in true landlubber fashion, I do live in the home of this blessed day, and I tip my ratty tri-corner hat to all of the pirates out there fighting global warming. Because as we know more pirates=less global warming....

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Tagcloud Thursday is here again

Ode to the Wharton-l

So many people on the Wharton-l have offered great responses and suggestions. It seems I am behind the times. No surprise there. Apparently others have also suggested Adams as the location for The Fruit of the Tree.  This is great news. Now I have a place to really center my eco-historical research. 

I contacted the Massachusetts historical society in hopes that they might know of people doing environmental history research on the Berkshires. My aunt has also sent me a number of good leads on information regarding Adams and North Adams. Things are taking shape, or at the very least direction.

I'm reading Hudson River Bracketed right now, and am about  half way into the novel. This novel will present some challenges I think. I am hoping that some more direct water references will be made, but if not I could use this book as an example of how nature is used as an aesthetic. Plenty of room for this reading in the title alone.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Fruit of the Hoosic?

In my efforts to get some more work done on my thesis I've been concentrating my efforts on The Fruit of the Tree. I got myself onto the Wharton-l and started asking around to see what opinions other Wharton reserchers and readers might have. I have gotten back some interesting leads, one suggesting an edition of the novel edited by Donna Campell, and another directing me to a lecture given at the Mount last year by Dr. Jennie Kassanoff. I've emailed Dr. Kassanoff since I've been unable to find a copy of her lecture, and I'm on the look out for the Campbell edition in the University library. 

My theory at the moment is that the novel may well have been based on the Hoosic River Valley. I have a few reasons for this. 

1. The novel is set in the Moosuc River Valley (old spelling of Hoosic is Hoosuc. Similarity?)
2. The city of Adams is along the Hoosic and was the site of a large cotton mill
3. Adams mills were in the news quite a bit during 1906 due to worker strikes
4. Wharton was living in Lenox about 20 miles south of Adams

Even if there is no way to prove that Hanaford is based on Adams I think that I could make a strong case that the descriptions of fictional Hanaford strongly resemble the ecological and social concerns in Adams during the time in which the novel was written. 

My next challenge is finding sufficient environmental history regarding this region. I am particularly interested in how the river was engineered and otherwise degraded to benefit the mill in the time leading up to the 1907 publication date of Wharton's text. I am also very interested in any wetland drainage that may have occured in the area. Some contemporary sources indicate that there are few wetlands in the Hoosic Watershed but several older maps (1930's) show a number of small ponds in the area. This part of the search for information has been slow going so far. I think I might need to get in touch with some history folk for better leads. 

My interest in this wetlands aspect is due to the quote at the end of the novel: 

"And do you remember how we said that it was with most of us as it was
with Faust? That the moment one wanted to hold fast to was not, in most
lives, the moment of keenest personal happiness, but the other kind--the
kind that would have seemed grey and colourless at first: the moment
when the meaning of life began to come out from the mists--when one
could look out at last over the marsh one had drained?"

A tremor ran through Justine. "It was you who said that," she said,

"But didn't you feel it with me? Don't you now?"

"Yes--I do now," she murmured.

He came close to her, and taking her hands in his, kissed them one after
the other.

"Dear," he said, "let us go out and look at the marsh we have drained."

The Importance of Credible Sources Strikes Again

As I wrote a few days back, I've become a bit of a fan of . Every morning, before I read the news I take a look at FactCheck to see what's going on in the world of heinous campaign lies.

Today's entry was not about the lies of either campaign, but about a so called academic who has broken one of the first rules of academic writing. This author has been called out by the Annenberg Political Fact Checkers for using sources that are not credible. Among these sources are unsourced websites, himself, and opinion columns that are presented as facts. If the author was a student of mine he'd be facing an F, but this fella is on the NYTimes bestseller list instead...go figure.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Fruit of the Harvest: part 1

The past few days have been full of harvesting, prepping, and cooking. We've gathered blackberries, plums, pears and apples. We've also had a steady flow of tomatoes from the garden, and some beans have been collected as well. Add to this a great buy on Italian prune plums at the grower's market and that has made for busy times. It's also made for delicious times well worth sharing (click the links for photos of the delight).

4 c Fresh Blackberries
1-3 Tbs of Organic Sugar (some say 1/2 cup, but that is way too much) 
2 & 1/8 cups Organic Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 c Organic Brown Sugar
1/4- 1/2 cup Margarine or Butter
1/2 c Oats
2 Tbs Lemon Juice
Coat the berries with lemon juice, sugar, and 1/8 cup of flour. Pour these into the bottom of a pan 9x13 should do it.
Mix Margarine, the rest of the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and oats until crumbly. Spread this mix over the berries. 375 for 30 minutes.

3 green onions diced
1-2 Tbs diced jalapeno
1/2 onion diced
3-4 ripe tomatoes diced
1 can corn
1 can beans rinsed (black or mixed beans)
1 lime worth of juice
2 Tbs olive oil
pinch of salt
Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl and enjoy. Refrigerate the leftovers.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sustaining Community

Recently, while looking for a plant identification book for completing these vegetation surveys, I stumbled upon a book called Food Not Lawns. The subtitle of this book is,  How to Turn Your Yard into a Garden and your Neighborhood into a Community. This got me thinking.

Being raised in frosty old New England my concept of community is somewhat jaded. At this moment in my life I find that this word strikes the same cord in me as "self actualized", "inner-child", and whole host of other jargony catch phases that make me feel a little queasy. I don't know that I believe community is possible without radical change, change that far exceeds food choices and even ecological choices. 

Maybe I am wrong about this. Unlike inner-children, I want to believe that community is possible. I think Corvallis, while not a "community" in this new-agey sense, does have a unique culture evolving within its borders. The agriculture/food centered culture that exists within this town is unlike any I've ever known, and it seems to be a site of genuine creativity. This gives me hope.

Another thing I've been mulling over lately is elitism. I think that ultimately community fosters elitism and maybe I am ok with that. To be honest, I think my way of doing things is good (though not the only good way), I think it could be improved upon, but I decidedly feel that there are other ways which are not good. I don't mean not good for me. I mean immoral, wrong, not good. Does this make me an elitist? Perhaps, I'm still sorting this out. Opinions are welcome. At any rate I think a group of people who share enough resources and values to be a community will by virtue of those shared resources, values, and collective identity be expressing their sense of a superior way of life that they have found or created.

I don't know. What I do know is that the sustainability journey here at Casa Colibri is going reasonably well. We're deciding to unplug the tv altogether one day per week (it should totally be more, but I have come to love some mindless tv). We've also been put up large quantities of plums, and have harvested many more tomatoes. We've only filled our gas tank once this month (12 gallons), and we're down to 1-2 gallons of trash per week (not compacted).  

The beat goes on.

Friday, September 12, 2008

As readers of this blog likely know, I've been keeping my eye on the political scene surrounding the presidential and congressional campaigns. The two things that I've found most shocking lately are:

1. The willingness of the masses to perpetuate outright lies.

2. The damn near illiteracy of many who voice their opinions in public forums

On the first count I have only one thing to say,  This site disputes erroneous claims made against either candidate. 

On count two... eh... here is a sample taken from reader responses to an article posted on AOL:


06:28 PM Sep 12 2008


Wow! I've always thought participatory democracy is a great idea, and that elitism is bad....ummm maybe not anymore...just kidding... but really.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

"I will lose my mind if I don't get them..."

In the course of preparing my teaching materials I've been reading and thinking about John Taylor Gatto's "Against School". I've especially been mulling over his assessment of the material culture and its relationship to maturity. Gatto writes,  "Maturity has by now been banished from nearly every aspect of our lives. Easy divorce laws have removed the need to work at relationships; easy credit has removed the need for fiscal self-control; easy entertainment has removed the need to learn to entertain oneself; easy answers have removed the need to ask questions. We have become a nation of children, happy to surrender our judgments and our wills to political exhortations and commercial blandishments that would insult actual adults. We buy televisions, and then we buy the things we see on the television. We buy computers, and then we buy the things we see on the computer. We buy $150 sneakers whether we need them or not, and when they fall apart too soon we buy another pair. We drive SUVs and believe the lie that they constitute a kind of life insurance, even when we're upside-down in them. And, worst of all, we don't bat an eye when Ari Fleischer tells us to "be careful what you say," even if we remember having been told somewhere back in school that America is the land of the free. We simply buy that one too. Our schooling, as intended, has seen to it."

This passage is thought provoking on its own, but in combination with a recent Burlington Coat Factory ad they've been playing on TV the passage seems to hit me over the head. 

This ad features phrases like "must have", "gotta have", and "I will lose my mind if I don't get them". All the features of a temper tantrum in the making are attributed to full grown people in this ad. Distressing. 

In other news we went out to Finley today to finish up the vegetation surveys. Today was the toughest of all. We walked all over a 30 acre plot of rose bushes and pitted earth. It was pretty amazing to see so many rose bushes in one place, and so few blackberry bushes after being at EE Wilson where there are tons of them. We took a break under a black hawthorn in the beds of elks. It was so delightful. 

In the end it was hot and trying but we got all 40 plots checked out and made it back to the truck only a bit burnt and thoroughly dusty. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Free Fruits

We went to EE Wilson for the second day of vegetation surveying. Things went smoothly. I saw a lovely dry marsh and plenty of fruit trees growing wild. I ate some Asian pears and apple or two. Bird and I filled her pockets with plums and a big bowl of blackberries. All delightfully free.
a little more fruitiness... is this a Georgia Peach

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Timid Men Prefer the Calm of Despotism to the Tempestuous Sea of Liberty

Although I had been planning to avoid politics today I was the recipient of a "banned book list" that Palin supposedly tried to push for while mayor. Book banning is another one of those issues that gets me up in arms so I had to look into it. Although fact checkers have found that the supposed "books banned by Palin" list is questionable, the fact checkers (even the rather right leaning ones) concede that Palin did ask about how to get books banned from the library in Wasilla. The fact checkers also concede that Palin fired (although under pressure from local citizens she later rehired) the librarian whom she originally asked about book banning. Why did she fire the woman? Because she felt the librarian was not "loyal" enough. 

Loyal enough? Is Palin a duchess or a queen? Since when are librarians expected to swear their loyalty to the mayor? Ridiculous.

To me, book banning is just a vile perversion of what America at its very best might stand for. In some odd way I know that I am deeply "American". I believe in freedom, liberty, and equality as guiding principles. Despite the troubling violent and oppressive foundation of our system I think that these ideas remain woven in the fabric of our national identity, even if they are only something to be dreamed of and worked for, something not yet achieved.

Enough politics for now. Today was day one of our multi-day vegetation surveys. We surveyed 20 plots today at E.E. Wilson. Most of what we saw was thick blackberries and roses, but there was also substantial thistle of several kinds, asters, cow parsnips, apples, hawthorns, and hazelnuts. Outside of the plots we found some pears and brought six or seven home. A lovely but tiring day.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Keep Prayin' I'm Still Queer and I Was Created This Way

It just keeps getting better. The news today is that Sarah Palin belongs to a church that wants to "pray away the gay". Please bear in mind that this is her less fanatical church. Her first church was one where folks speak in tongues. 

Now I am not opposed to churches or speaking in tongues but I think the ultra religious have no place in national politics. I think our nation is too spiritually diverse to be run by anyone with intensely fringe religious beliefs. 

Not that I planned on voting for McCain, but if I had been this would have totally sent me running for the hills. I hope those gay republicans* out there will think seriously about their political allegiances. We have so many enemies in this world, people too small minded to accept the possibility of love beyond gender/sex. 

I encourage the folks in Wasilla AK to keep on praying for God's will to be done in my life because I believe it already has been. I am blessed, happy, bright and healthy...oh yes and queer.

*On a side note I am personally bewildered by gay republicans. I've been reading their web page trying to get it, but I don't get it.  They say that protecting gay families and promoting legal adoptions for gay couples are important, they then say they support McCain, then they point out that "He supported Arizona's 2006 effort to ban marriage equality and roll back domestic partner benefits offered by some municipalities in the state.   McCain opposes hate crime legislation and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).  He supports continuation of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law, which prevents gays and lesbians from serving openly and honestly in the U.S. military".

Sunday, September 7, 2008

A Day in the Park

Today we went to
Avery Park for a walk around the loop trail and down to the edge of Mary's River.  Freyja and Moose had a splendid time swimming around. Especially Freyja who thinks she is part river otter.  

In the course of our walk we saw many delightful things. The rose gardens still had plenty of flowers blooming, and the native plant garden--although well past blossoming-- was fantastic and inspiring. As I walked I thought about this blog and what I might say regarding sustainability. The Avery Park composting display seemed promising, and the apparent health of the River did too, but then this appeared...   
beneath the shrubs between the native plants and the playground. Although by this point in the walk I had already picked up a dozen cigarette butts, a burger king wrapper, a kiddie drink cup, two pull tabs, and a heap of fishing line, I found this particular object worthy of a photograph. In fact upon inspection I found it worthy of two photographs.

This label states that this particular bottle is designed to contain 30% less plastic than the "typical" bottle. While I think this is admirable in someways it is also misleading. Minor efforts like this seem to lull the consumer into thinking that such a purchase is "ecofriendly"-- a positive act. 

Plastics in general are toxic. While they are used medically to save lives as the plastics industry has reminded us in their advertisements, they are not really safe for eating and drinking. They are especially unsafe for children. 

It was only about a year ago when I discovered that many plastics contain toxic chemicals that leech into the foods and beverages stored in them. The main toxin that I have read about are phthalates.  Granted this is only one toxin group but it is enough for me to be very wary. 

Despite the fact that the Phthalate Information Center (a group with panel members from BASF Corporation, Eastman Chemical Company, and ExxonMobile) claim that "Phthalates have established a very strong safety profile over the 50 years in which they have been in general use". I tend to put some stock in the numerous university studies that show a correlation between phtalates and endocrine anomalies, reproductive harm, and carcinogenic effects.

Beyond the toxicity, another issue is the waste of resources involved in the production of plastic bottles. Although plastic is recyclable it can only be recycled so many times before it is no longer usable. Much of what plastic is recycled does not re-enter the consumer market. Most if not all of the plastic bottles consumers purchase are of virgin plastic. Plastic is a petroleum product that is energetically costly to produce. 

Bottled water is especially troubling since it is mostly a "luxury" purchase.


Americans shell out more than $20,000 "every minute of every day" or up to 60 cents for a glass of bottled water

1978 Consumption = 415 Million Gallons**

2006 Consumption = 8.2 Billion Gallons***

For comparison, Worldwide Consumption = 

41 Billion Gallons***

It takes 1,851 gallons of water to refine one barrel of crude oil.**

Twenty-four gallons of water are needed to make one pound of plastic. **

1.5 to 2.7 million tons of plastic used per year to make bottles for bottled water.***

That’s 24gal/pd X 2000 pd/ton x 1.5 million tons = 72 billion gallons of water or 24 times the quantity of water used by the City of Corvallis every year to make bottles that are empty


**Emily Gersema, Associated Press (2003)

***FAO and Earth Policy Institute (2006)

Disturbing. At least to me and to Bird. Although it is seemingly impossible to avoid plastics altogether, it is easy to substantially reduce how much plastic one uses. We've stopped all plastic shopping bag use by bringing our own bags. We've started saving bread bags and produce bags to reuse them. We're slowly but surely converting to bell jars for all of our storage needs, and are in the process of phasing plastic utensils out of our kitchen with the help of our local Goodwill's utensil bin. It's an uphill battle, but a fantastic adventure.

Tons of good links for sustainablity issues and info.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Of Pie Charts, Pirates, and The Changing Light

I am up to week eight with my daily PowerPoints, which are essentially skeletal lesson plans designed to trigger my memory regarding what I want to teach on a given day. While it might seem neurotic and rigid to do such a thing I assure you that the PPT's are largely tongue in cheek. Each day starts with a pie chart showing how many classes are left in the term. Students seem to find it funny, though maybe they just laugh to amuse me. Either way. 

To pass the time while I slave away there is a random ipod mix playing in the background. The pirate music is especially rousing!

Autumn is coming, and it's not just the TA madness that tells me so. I have been noticing the sad decline in light that crosses my little patio. When we moved in last February there was just a small patch where sun shone for more than an hour or two. This little patch will be my winter garden zone. 

The summer garden is in transition.  The tomatoes on my "Willamette" are ripening and the others are large and yellow-green. Some of the gladiolus, which oddly enough never flowered, have started to brown. Meanwhile the fuchsias and strawberries have decided with determination to bloom again so white and pink flowers abound.

Lots of work to do, both here and at school, between now and November.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Ode To the Polar Bear

Since Gov. Palin thinks Polar Bears don't deserve protection I would like to take a moment to revel in the glories of the Polar Bear.

This past Monday I spent a good amount of time gazing at Conrad and Tasul. These two bears were the highlight of my day. I know I'm "radical" for believing that all life, not just human, is sacred, but that is my stance.
These excellent creatures and their kind deserve our respect.

Tagcloud Thursdays p.4 : The Tagcloud Rides Again

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Cooking and PowerPointing

The night is wearing on and despite the fact that I worked diligently on my teaching materials all day I haven't progressed past week one's PPTs. Maybe it's the fact that at almost 9PM I haven't had dinner yet but I feel somewhat confused and sleepy as I try to recall the events of my day. 

On a high note, there's a 100% homemade pizza in the oven. Ten minutes to soy cheese, tricolor pepper, garlic, whole wheat bliss. It has been a cooking filled day now that I think about it.

In addition to the pizza, I tried to whip up an apple bread with some of the bushel we bought last Saturday. Somehow things were poorly timed and the apple chunks ended up coating the bread rather than permeating it. It's tasty nonetheless. People have been nibbling on it all evening.

Undaunted by that mild culinary setback I made some delicious chocolate chip coconut cookies, and we took some down to the new grad student who lives in our apartment complex.  

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Next Phase. New Books. New PowerPoints

Today I completed my final exam in the Columbia Basin History and Ecology class. For better or worse the class is over and I am ever so glad. I feel like this has in some ways been the anti-summer, although I have had many great adventures it is as though the schooling never ended. 

I suppose I must enjoy it, this protracted intellectual exercise, I only wish I had more time to linger in Edith Wharton novels and think about my thesis as an abstract rather than a reality. Although I had hoped to write thirty pages before the term began I have exactly zero pages written so far. I'm not very concerned. Despite the fact that this coming term promises to be ever so intense, I think winter and spring will be somewhat less loaded and allow plenty of time for Whartonizing. 

Fall term, for certain, will not.

We went and got our books today in hopes of getting the best used copies. Bird found out that she had only one required text book, while Hobbit on the other hand had the worst deal with the most books and least cheap finds. My lot was in the middle with only one exorbitant book. In the world of the English major anything over 50 bucks is unholy. My Spanish text was 109...used. Eh, as if Spanish wasn't trouble enough on its own.

On top of all this I went and looked at the new WR121 packs. They're all shiny and shrink wrapped. I ran into one of my former students and we chatted about the summer. He was a hard worker. I was glad to see him and not one of my slackers. Maybe it is a good omen for the coming term. 

I've already made PowerPoint shows for the first two days of class. I've also decided on borrowing Betjemann's daily reading checks as a way to promote homework completion. The  time of new TA orientation is fast approaching, and I know in the next few days I will be working hard on that. Tonight is for resting, drinking good beer, and watching mindless TV