"Lies will flow from my lips, but there may perhaps be some truth mixed up with them; it is for you to seek out this truth and to decide whether any part of it is worth keeping." --Virginia Woolf A Room of One's Own

guns, butter, bombs and blogs

Okay, so maybe those four things in the title don't have that much to do with each other, except they are all running through my mind. The guns and butter comes from the President' fiscal 2007 budget. Once again, it's tax cuts for the well off, spending cuts for the needy and tax increases for the military. Once again, there are huge deficits built into it as well. According to news reports, the budget projects only five years out so as not to show the baloon in the deficit that occurs after that time. Once again our MBA president is acting like he's in charge of Enron or some such company, sexing up the bottom line and skirting the truth.

On bicycle commuting in Spokane

Having grown up and done quite a lot of cycling around Seattle, I'm enjoying my riding and commuting much more in Spokane than I did in Seattle largely because of the rural nature of the area, even though it's something of an urban center for the region. While I'm out on the road during the summer, it's a rare day when I don't get to see some hawk soaring above the wheat fields. During harvest, there are more of them, and lots of squished field mice on the road. I'm assuming the hawks (red tails mostly) are also hunting those timorous little beasties. (That's an allusion to Robert Burns in case you didn't get it.) I'll often spot a Great Blue Heron or many a deer. I'm always hoping to see a black bear or mountain lion, from a safe distance of course, but haven't yet.

On road rash and first aid kits

Today on my way to work, I took two spills, both less than 30 seconds from my destination. There was some freezing fog on the roadway, and when I turned off, or went to turn off, a campus road (I teach at Spokane Falls CC), the bike slid out from beneath me. I was only going about 10 mph, but it was quite a surprise and I got banged up a little. Mostly road rash on my right haunch. Getting up I was puzzled and confused, not knowing why I had gone down on a turn I've made countless times. About 100 feet later, I went to make another turn, and down I went. It was then that I figured out the cold night and morning fog had created slick walkways.

foolish consistency

Ralph Waldo Emerson said or wrote that "A foolish consistency is the hob-goblin of a simple mind." I've just been broad-sided by such a consistency. It has me feeling amazingly frustrated and demoralized. I pity the students whose essays I have to read this afternoon, and grade! I've talked to some folks about this already, so I'm calming down a bit, but I'm not there yet.

So, what's the beef? Well, I submitted a packet of information to our faculty development committee and they rejected it. Flat out rejected it. Why? Because, while we are allowed faculty development funds only every other year, in fact, we get it only every sixth quarter at the soonest.

When teaching sucks

Yesterday I collected my first batch of essays in my first year comp classes. In the afternoon class, when I walked in, there was only one student. Granted, there are only nine students on the roster (it started at 15, was at 13 before the first class even met and as of yesterday, it was at nine), but to walk in and see just a single student five minutes before an essay is due is not a heartening sign. I've been worried that my first assignment expects too much from students too soon. Having to pull an issue from Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America and find a website related to that issue and conduct an analysis of that website is no mean feat.

Critical Mass needs local cyclist support, not the other way around

Such is the claim I make, though not until the end of this letter/article that I sent to Out There Monthly magazine. I'm not sure if they'll print it hard copy, online, or at all, but here it is in all its splendor.

CM Needs Local Cyclists, Not the Other Way Around

As a committed cyclist who logged nearly 4,000 miles last year, one who joined the October Critical Mass ride with great anticipation, I understand why people advocate for better cycling in Spokane and elsewhere. That’s why it was such a disappointment to read Paul Haeder’s clichéd bombast in the January edition of Out There Monthly. I don’t want to spend much time on the Haeder’s failed rhetoric. After all, who can take seriously the notion of bicycling as a radical choice, the idea cycling as an always superior way of transporting one’s self, or that any one cyclist can galvanize solidarity for all repressed cyclists around the world, never mind that that two police cruisers a gauntlet (just barely) make. As Sigmund Freud noted, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar; similarly, sometimes a bike ride is just a bike ride. Unfortunately, this failed rhetoric is just one of the symptoms ailing CM Spokane.

Phew! Made it

Through the first week of classes that is. Everything went about as well as it could, even if there were only three days of instruction. My American Lit class is looking good based on the first set of journals. I don't know if they are just a brighter bunch of students than I had for my Intro to Lit last fall or if I'm more excited about teaching this class so they respond to that or that I am a bit better prepared this time than the last time I taught this class. I have high hopes for this bunch and I sure hope it pans out. My two comp classes look to be a mixed bag, though it's always tough to tell. I'm worried about my afternoon class, mostly because there are only 12 students at this point. If I lose even a few, which wouldn't be unusual, it will be hard to have a decent "critical mass" for discussions. The other bunch, since the class is in prime time, meaning 10:30 a.m., should be okay. My only trouble with them is going to be getting them enough time in one of the computer labs so we can use the blog to the best of its ability. Next week we have three days scheduled on computers, which is what I was shooting for. The only downside is I would rather have Thursday than Friday, but we'll make do. Having them on computers Friday will save me some work over the weekend, so that's a good thing.

A new term and some critical mass mish-mash

Christmas, or Holiday, or make that Winter Break, is over and classes begin tomorrow. I've just finished setting up the blog sites for my classes. You can click on the "bleckblog composition" or "bleckblog literature" links on the right side of the screen, if you are so inclined, so you can see how I use blogs in my courses. I'm thinking of adding a wiki function, but I'm not quite sure how to use it to support learning, other than making it a bit more fun, for me any way. I'm stressed out about the new term. I didn't read nearly as much as I wanted or needed to, but I think I can pull my classes off. The class I'm focusing most on is my Intro to American Lit. I'm a bit weak on the Puritan era, though not so weak as I feared. I've been doing some reading, though not nearly enough.

Right now I'm reading The Puritan Tradition in America, 1620-1750. I also found some interesting early American novels by women, focusing on seduction and betrayal. They should be a good counterbalance to the pious stuff the students will be reading. One novel I'll be using in the book clubs is The Coquette, by Hannah Foster, about a woman who is ditched by two men, both suitors, after the death of her fiance. She becomes the kept woman of one, and dies in childbirth. I haven't read it yet, but to learn that there is this whole seduction/betrayal genre in early American lit is exciting. Tomorrow is day one with students. Yee-haw!

The article I wrote for Out There Monthly, entitled "The Politics of Urban Cycling," (also found here: which I called "Git on Yer Bike!")apparently generated quite a bit of feedback, which is always a good thing for a writer to hear. If only it generated me a good bit of money as well. The negative feedback came from a colleague of mine. As he told me about my recent letter to the editor in the Spokesman, I "missed the point" with regard to the local iteration of Critical Mass. You can read his comments here if you wish: Should Critical Mass Continue?". There are a number of points I take exception to that Paul Haeder makes.

Happy New Year!

Now, if only all the work I didn't get done last year would just take care of itself!

A new computer and cycling in the rain

My wife, lovely woman and person that she is, along with being a kind and gentle soul, bought me a new computer for Christmas! I was super surprised. I was hoping for a flat-screen monitor for what I expected to be my new desktop, but instead, I got a Dell Inspiron 9300. It has a freakin' 17-inch screen and is ready for the whole multi-media whoop-de-do. My previous laptop is just over four years old and the drive is full to the brim. I was planning to move a bunch of stuff to the new desktop to free up space, but now I've got gigs to spare. Am I one of the luckiest people on earth right now? I think so!

Syndicate content