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And So It Goes

Another year comes to a close just like last December and the Decembers prior and the Decembers yet to come...well at least until 2012 I'm told. I think we at least need to get to 2015 so we can see if we really do end up with hover boards and flying cars like in Back to the Future: Part II. Great Scott, I digress.

Normally this is the time when people decide to turn over a new leaf, to reinvent themselves, to make plans for the next year because it's going to be different. They're finally going to do all those things they've been meaning to do for the past 12 months (and probably 12 years). As cynical as this is beginning to sound, I don't think making resolutions is bad, it's just that we reflect on our failures and vow not to repeat them and then we do just that: repeat them.

I guess it comes down to etymology.

1 intention, resolve, decision, intent, aim, plan; commitment, pledge, promise.
2 motion, proposal, proposition, resolve.
3 determination, purpose, purposefulness, resolve, resoluteness, single-mindedness, firmness, firmness of purpose; steadfastness, staunchness, perseverance, persistence, indefatigability, tenacity, tenaciousness, staying power, dedication, commitment; stubbornness, doggedness, obstinacy, obduracy; boldness, spiritedness, braveness, bravery, courage, pluck, grit, courageousness; informal guts, spunk; formal pertinacity.

So, what, we try to do something or not do something this time around? "Oh, well, at least I tried." Or we are resolved, determined, we are pledging in spirited, spunky boldness to stay true to our commitment to do or not do x, y, and z. But what of our failures and why at this time? New year. New you. But every Monday marks a new work week; every Friday marks a new weekend; and every dawn marks a new day. Sure, make a resolution, or ten. Give it a good shot. Make some improvements for the better, there's honor in that. But in March when the commitment fizzles, remember that you could just try again the next week, the next month, the next day. There's no need to leave all of our resolving for this one 24 hour span.

Do I have resolutions? I suppose I do. They're the same things that have come up at various times throughout the year, throughout the past years. Those "I really oughtta..." things. Are there new ones? I don't know yet. Let's see what comes up in March.


Just to Clarify...

Write a blog post in response to "The Inner Ring" (see previous blog post) before noon on Saturday (or sometime this weekend).

Read and annotate George W. Bush's 9/11 speech (linked on my website)

Read EAA Chapter 19 on Logical Fallacies (I recommend taking notes, but have no specific requirement for you to do so).

We'll be working with both the Bush speech and Ch 19 on Monday and into Tuesday.

You also have a vocab quiz on Monday (students responsible for the definitions and quiz questions really need to get on it, I've only received a few...) and  next week I'll ask to see your "Research Log" for your Blog Study Project. I'm not looking to see that you've invested hours and hours and pages and pages, I am looking to see that you have invested some hours and some pages and that you're pretty well acquainted with your blog of choice at this point. 


The Inner Ring

Please write a response to "The Inner Ring" on your blog by Saturday, let's just go with noon. You may write a response to what Lewis is saying, examples of how it applies to high school, general sentiments on this concept of Inner Rings and/or our motivation for belonging, etc. It need to be obviously connected to and relevant to the speech, but otherwise you have some freedom. You could get a little creative and write from the perspective of a King's College grad who heard the speech.


How do I post a video to my blog from YouTube?

How do I post a video to my blog from YouTube?

Embedding a Video

See previous post for instructions on embedding a video from You Tube.

Another place to find great speeches is American Rhetoric. To embed a video from this site might be more complicated, but many of the speeches are also found on You Tube, so you could start at and find a speech you like then go to You Tube to embed it.

Or you can link to the video, just make it an active link. You must use the link feature (along the tool bar with font choices and formatting options when composing a post). It's right next to the buttons for inserting pictures and video, which you should also experiment with.

If you choose to, you could download a video from You Tube using KeepVid and then embed it in a post using the insert video feature (it's the little black directors "cut" symbol).

In short, you have many options, so please don't just paste the long URL in your post and leave it at that. find a way to actively connect your audience to the speech you found, and say a word or two about the speech please.



Scallywag | skalē- wag | also scalawag | skaləˌwag|  
a person who behaves badly but in an amusingly mischievous rather than harmful way; a deceitful and unreliable scoundrel; a rascal.

a white Southerner who collaborated with northern Republicans during Reconstruction, often for personal profit. The term was used derisively by white Southern Democrats who opposed Reconstruction legislation.

ORIGIN mid 19th cent.: of unknown origin.

As useful and interesting as the historical definition is, the informal will be my focus.

 Some synonyms that come to mind for this delightful word are the ones that show up in the definition: scoundrel and rascal. But why end there? Knave, rapscallion, rogue, varlet, villain, scamp, imp, hellion, and monkey all can serve as names for someone who is acting a scoundrel. Of these, varlet was less-than-familiar but has since been initiated into my working vocabulary (I accused my cat of varletry).The other familiar synonyms put a smile on my lips because, hey, I love a good moniker, you villainous, impish knave!

What I wasn't expecting when conducting my official etymological research of scallywag was the list of terms used to refer to children. Evidently my sentiments toward wee tots are echoed throughout the world (or at least the English-speaking world). Kid, nipper, tiddler, youngster, tike, tyke, shaver, small fry, nestling, brat, terror, holy terror, young 'un, lad, rug-rat, urchin, ankle-biter, and, guttersnipe all surfaced as possible synonyms for child. An interesting study in diction, perhaps. 

But back to scallywag. It sounds funny. The -lly reminds me of the word silly and the cadence of the word itself makes me think of polliwogs -- a word which I have always found amusing. The original source I consulted maintains that the origins are unknown, but I have seen others that argue the term scallywag, meaning "disreputable fellow," is an alteration of a Scottish term scallag meaning "a rustic and habitual joker" while yet another insists that its origin is Irish or from some province in Northern England but doesn't offer much beyond that. Of course these sources are all of questionable integrity, but they do seem to agree that scallywag is a term used to describe those with a penchant for mischief.


Hi My Name Is...

Just wanted to extend to you a friendly reminder that it actually is possible to change your name to anything you want. This guy in Oregon sure did, and countless celebrities do it (Madonna, Cher, Chaka Khan, Bono, Alicia Keys, Moby, Meat Loaf, Snoop Dogg, Sting, and Vanilla Ice) and some of them multiple times. Enter Sean Combs aka Puff Daddy, Puffy, Puff, Sean "Puffy" Combs, recently known as P. Diddy, just Diddy, and according to some Diddy Dirty Money, and Sean John are on the table as options for a new identity. To be fair, some of these are variations of the same name, and others are only rumored (evidently he did not change his name to Diddy Dirty Money, though I wouldn't put it past him, and it's only a rumor that he wants to be known as Sean John, the name of his clothing line) but still. I've been to the DMV, I've been to the social security agency, I've waited in those lines and filled out that paperwork. It's unpleasant and tedious, why do it more than once? Oh, right, he has a team of employees grunts to do that for him.

In any case, making multiple name changes is absurd. What is perhaps more absurd though is adopting a ludicrous name like Meat Loaf, or Moby. Celebrities have the alibi of needing something memorable and unique, and they graciously bestow this on their children (like poor little Bronx Mowgli or Sage Moonblood). Then there's Captain Awesome. When any "normal" person adopts a bizarre name it's just that: bizarre. It reminds me of the episode of Friends when Phoebe and Mike change their names. Maybe I should change my name. I mean, I did it once, I could do it again. I'll be taking suggestions...

College Board to the Rescue!

The College Board has just recently announced that they are no longer deducting points for incorrect responses on the multiple choice portion of the AP exam. That's good news. Previously on top of just not getting the point for a question, you also lost a fraction of a point for each incorrect response resulting in a lower-than-you-actually-got score. Now, it's fair and square. Huzzah.

In case you haven't yet taken advantage of my links to College Board online, here are a few helpful reminders that they offer about this course and about the exam.

How to Read

How to Write

Last year's exam has been released and you'll be able to find it on their website along with answers and scoring guides. I have others as well. Also remember than the Princeton Review and Kaplan make great study books that have explanations, terms, vocabulary, practice tests with answer keys and explanations. These are worth their weight in gold. Go get one. If you cannot afford one, let me know and I'll hook you up.


Lives on the Boundary

Mike Rose, author of tonight's essay, keeps a blog and posts to it quite regularly. While you won't find as much of that entertaining description of his LA Voc. Ed. buddies as you do in his essay, you will definitely see more of his arguments about education, politics, and policy-making.



When were CRJs assigned? Oh, right, SEPTEMBER!



Since I know many you are disappointed with the grade you earned on your Literacy Narrative, I want to take a moment to remind you of a few things:

A) This is one assignment, and this score measures how well you demonstrated specific skills for a specific purpose on a specific assignment.

B) This isn't the end. Next week you will bring in your essay and we will work on it. In doing so, you will be able to improve your score by fixing structural flaws and grammatical errors and you will be able to improve your writing holistically by working through some hard-core revision. This isn't a full "rewrite" per-se, and you won't go from zero to Tolstoy, but I believe wholeheartedly that this will be an important learning experience for you. Remember what I said in my syllabus?

C) The comments I scrawl all over your essays are my honest, in-the-moment, reader reactions. If they are indecipherable to you (you are not the only one), next week when we're looking at your work I will be available to "interpret" for you.

Read my comments and let it all sink in. Be mad at me and complain about how "mean" I am, if you must, but then sit down and re-read your essay. Try to be objective. Is it really your best work? Do you see areas where you can build and change and polish? Am I really just "out to get you" or "impossible"? No, I'm not. Has your writing improved since you wrote it a few weeks ago? It probably has. Bring those new-and-improved skills to the operating table next week. In the mean time, take a deep breath, relax, and enjoy your weekend. I hope it is "spooktacular."


You Might Be Wondering...

In case you see this and in case you were curious, here's the deal:

Mrs. Smith is taking care of you through Monday. Yes, I got a visa and I'm headed to China! So, those poster presentations will just have to be postponed. I know, you're crushed. The documentary you will be watching has some very interesting content if you consider it through the lens of rhetorical analysis and language study, so as you watch it keep in mind the goals of our class. Your vocab quiz on this weeks words will have to be Tuesday when I'm back instead of Monday.


Waiting for Superman

The new documentary,Waiting for Superman is stirring up some controversy and raising some important issues related to the current state of education in America. This article form the NY Times is only one of many articles in response to the release of this film.


English vs American

Listen to the interview (a couple minutes): 

Browse the free online dictionary:

(this is NOT an assignment)


Blog Design

As you're learning the ropes of Blogger, please consider the contrast between your background and your text. Some designs might seem like a good idea until you have a whole page of it...then you find yourself suffering from eye strain. If you have a super awesome background and you've made the background of the posting box transparent, either make sure your text is fully visible and easy to read or consider making the background of the post only semi-transparent. Also, if you're using bright colors for the text color...reconsider. darker text on a lighter background is easier to read. I realize that mine has a dark background and white text, but I'm also not posting essay-length pieces to be read. Few of you will even read what I post anyway. One more thing, when you bold your text and it's small, it all just runs together.

To summarize, read and look at other blogs so you can best design yours to be eye-ball friendly.


Writing Assignment

Due Wednesday 7:30 am on your blog.

Clean up your initial reaction to the question of why I write (something we'll do in class on Tuesday) and be sure to address/include the following:

With which author can you most identify: Orwell, Didion, or Goldberg (from class Tues) and why?
Quote some of the text from that author's piece that demonstrates what you most like about it.
Why do you write? Explore the reasons and/or conditions for your own writing.

This will be officially assigned in class on Tuesday, but those of you who like to know what's coming or want to work ahead, you may do so but you will still be required to be writing something during the alotted time in class tomorrow.

No length requirement but consider this: long enough to be significant, short enough to read without needing to take a Facebook break. This is an informal writing assignment (one of many) but I will be reading it and giving you credit based on your work. It's mostly based on completion, but it does need to be quality completion. The due date and time is because we'll be looking at them in class on Wednesday, so you'll need to have yours done and posted.


Check Please!

I've linked your blogs (the ones I have anyway) down there on the right. Check to make sure your blog appears in the appropriate box (block 2 or block 3) and that the link works. I've not checked all of them yet. If your blog does not appear that is because (A) I do not have your URL yet or (B) your URL was incorrect or broken. I've seen some fun titles so far, I like it.


On Blogging

For class, you will each create and maintain your own blog.  I will at times specify a topic for the week or I may leave it open. Open topic does not mean you get to simply ramble about hacking the vids, it needs to have some intellectual merit. Some. Opt to reflect on something related to class, something related to writing, language, rhetoric, media, fishing, facebook taking over the world, whatever. Just make it thoughtful. In the world of blogging, certain formalities are often overlooked, so don't get too hung up on punctuation and grammar, but do not simply throw it out either.

Please note: I have set up a video bar from youtube that features various ever-changing videos with the keywords: writing, grammar, literature for you to peruse. Go take a look, but realize that I cannot guarantee the quality or content of these videos is above reproach. Some are fantastic, others are not.

You will also find links; click 'em.  They're there for you to check out. Your blog should also have links to things you find interesting, relevant to class, school, etc.

I suggest using your isd284 email to set up your blog, so you get in the habit of using it. It also makes it easy for me to identify you. However, if you're still a holdout, use whichever email you're used to using and will remember. I use my personal email and password because it's connected to my other blogs, documents, email, and home page, so it simplifies the process for me. You're welcome to do the same.

Assignment part 1: Create your own blog using Blogger and your school isd284 email (or other). You may have a blog already, that's awesome, keep up with that one, even add a link between that one and this new one. I expect that you will use good judgement when it comes to what you post. Play with colors, templates, fonts, gadgets, and give it a snazzy title -really make it your own. Feel free to personalize it, add gadgets and tools, but do keep in mind that what you publish online must be appropriate as it isn't confidential.

*make sure your blog is fully set up, recognized, and functioning before you send me your link. 

Assignment part 2: E-mail me from your isd284 email account (or the one you used for your blog) so you can snag a space on the much coveted contact list. Put your first and last name in the subject line and put a link (I want the full URL) to your blog in the body of the e-mail.

My URL is this:  
Yours will be similar.

Assignment part 3: Post to your blog! Introduce yourself. Write a fair amount, not just: "Hey, this is my blog, woot woot!"go ahead and write about anything else that might be swimming in your brain too. It's the inaugural post. Go for it. Post by Friday 3pm.



Whoever vs. Whomever

Ryan: What I really want honestly, Michael is for you to know it so you can communicate it to the people here, to your clients, to whomever.

Michael: Oh, okay

Ryan: What?

Michael: It’s whoever, not whomever.

Ryan: No, it’s whomever

Michael: No…whomever is never actually right.

Jim: Well, sometimes it’s right.

Creed: Michael is right. It’s a made-up word used to trick students.

Andy: No. Actually, whomever is the formal version of the word.

Oscar: Obviously, it’s a real word, but I don’t know when to use it correctly.

Michael (talking to the camera): Not a native speaker.

Kevin: I know what’s right, but I’m not gonna say because you’re all jerks who didn’t come see my band last night.

Ryan: Do you really know which one is correct?

Kevin: I don’t know.

Pam: It’s whom when it’s the object of the sentence and who when it’s the subject.

Phyllis: That sounds right.

Michael: Well, it sounds right, but is it?

Stanley: How did Ryan use it, as an object?

Ryan: As an object.

Kelly: Ryan used me as an object.

Stanley: Is he right about that?

Pam: How did he use it again?

Toby: It was…Ryan wanted Michael, the subject, to, uh explain the computer system, the subject–

Michael: Yes!

Toby: –to whomever, meaning us, the indirect object…which is the correct usage of the word.

Michael: No one asked you anything, ever, so whomever’s name is Toby, why don’t you take a letter opener and stick it into your skull?


Mind games & insomnia


A Study of Ironic White Bears...


We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget.
We forget the loves and betrayals alike, forget what we whispered and what we screamed, we forget who we really are.
--Joan Didion

Normally I agree with you, JD, but I don't know about this one.



I'm borrowing this piece from Inward Bound Poetry


The voice you hear when you read silently
is not silent, it is a speaking-
out-loud voice in your head; it is spoken,
a voice is saying it
as you read. It's the writer's words,
of course, in a literary sense
his or her "voice" but the sound
of that voice is the sound of your voice.
Not the sound your friends know
or the sound of a tape played back
but your voice
caught in the dark cathedral
of your skull, your voice heard
by an internal ear informed by internal abstracts
and what you know by feeling,
having felt. It is your voice
saying, for example, the word "barn"
that the writer wrote
but the "barn" you say
is a barn you know or knew. The voice
in your head, speaking as you read,
never says anything neutrally--some people
hated the barn they knew,
some people love the barn they know
so you hear the word loaded
and a sensory constellation
is lit: horse-gnawed stalls,
hayloft, black heat tape wrapping
a water pipe, a slippery
spilled chirr of oats from a split sack,
the bony, filthy haunches of cows...
And "barn" is only a noun--no verb
or subject has entered into the sentence yet!
The voice you hear when you read to yourself
is the clearest voice: you speak it
speaking to you.



No cavities. Not one. First time ever. EVER! I even got a "good job!" I'm in utter shock. The mean lady doing the poking and scraping still wasn't pleasant.


Fear is an odd thing. It's terrible and wonderful. It can motivate us to do things we might not otherwise do, but it can also keep us from doing things we should do, things we need to do, or things we want to do.

I hate going to the dentist. HATE IT. I'm going today, and I didn't sleep much because of the fear and anxiety that accompanies this fateful day that has been postponed a few times since December. I don't know exactly what I fear about it. Well, that's not entirely true. I fear the blinding pain of a root canal, the discomfort of the drilling, the pinch of each novacaine injection, the unbearable tension that seizes every muscle from head-to-toe. But I'm just going in for a cleaning today...that's what they say anyway. That's how they get you in. Then they scold you for drinking coffee, and not flossing, and not doing everything like a dental hygienist would. Sorry, ma'am, but I'm not a dental hygienist. You all have perfectly curved bangs, too much eye makeup and gleaming white Chiclet teeth. I don't have any of those traits nor do I want them. Well gleaming white perfect teeth wouldn't be so bad. Probably not in the cards for me though.

I just want to maintain oral health like everybody else. I brush my teeth, I even floss regularly, and I use a stupid mineral-building Listerine fluoride rinse every night. I've been told that my teeth are pretty white and appear quite healthy. Sadly though, lurking beneath the surface is Evil. Pure Evil. Dramatic? Yes. But seriously, my mouth is just cursed.

The hyperventilation and panic attacks should set in around the end of 4th block. Until then, I'm going to enjoy the coffee sitting on my desk. I will sip it all day just to spite my dentist. Oh, and this doughnut Mr. Guerin just gave me? I'm all over it.

Of course I will repent and go brush my teeth a little later. That's what fear does. Fear of worse damage is what will force me into my car this afternoon and make my foot nudge the gas pedal enough to get to Eden Prairie; what will allow me to catch enough of a shallow breath to exit my car, walk through the door and half-smile at the receptionist with the perfect cavity-free mouth. It's what will compel me to actually open my mouth when prompted and allow the mean lady to jab at my gums until they bleed. It's what will help me endure the verbal bashing of that mean lady and the dentist himself when they tell me I should be flossing ALL DAY LONG to avoid any further tooth decay. Really? I mean, come on, really!?



Personality Types

So, upon cleaning out some (more) files, I came across some materials from my psychology courses in college. Kiersey's personality or temperament types was among them. At that time I scored as an INFP, I'm going to take it again, because one can certainly change over the course of six years. Update to come.

I took it. I was "the artist" this time...but then I took it from a different site and am awaiting the results. So it's not an infallible science, but it's not altogether inaccurate.

Results in. INFP. I guess I didn't change that much. I wonder about the source that told me I was an artist. The difference was only one letter though: ISFP. So the difference is whether I trust intuition or concrete sensory experience? Well, it depends...hence the disparity, but evidently I'm for sure introverted (do ya think) I definitely rely on feeling over thinking...hello impulsive emotional reactions, and I'm more inclined to perceive than to judge. These things fit very well.

It's the sensing versus intuition (the S or the N) that apparently waivers. That makes sense to me. Sometimes I trust my intuition, other times I don't and I have to rely on concrete sensory observation. This is the same sticking point I had in philosophy when I had to decide between rationalism and empiricism. I wasn't able. I'm still not able. So perhaps my personality is split. Perhaps I'm a little more complicated than Kiersey or Myers & Briggs wanted. Maybe there isn't a clear black or white here, maybe I'm just a lovely shade of gray. At least in one area.

What are you?


A Little Wisdom from Rilke

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.


What is required of us is that we love the difficult and learn to deal with it. In the difficult are the friendly forces, the hands that work on us. Right in the difficult we must have our joys, our happiness, our dreams: there against the depth of this background, they stand out, there for the first time we see how beautiful they are.


People have (with the help of conventions) oriented all their solutions toward the easy and toward the easiest side of the easy; but it is clear that we must hold to what is difficult; everything alive holds to it, everything in Nature grows and defends itself in its own way and is characteristically and spontaneously itself, seeks at all costs to be so and against all opposition. We know little, but that we must hold to what is difficult is a certainty that will not forsake us; it is good to be solitary, for solitude is difficult; that something is difficult must be a reason the more for us to do it. To love is good, too: love being difficult. For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation.


No experience has been too unimportant, and the smallest event unfolds like a fate, and fate itself is like a wonderful, wide fabric in which every thread is guided by an infinitely tender hand and laid alongside another thread and is held and supported by a hundred others.


It seems to me that almost all our sadnesses are moments of tension, which we feel as paralysis because we no longer hear our astonished emotions living. Because we are alone with the unfamiliar presence that has entered us; because everything we trust and are used to is for a moment taken away from us; because we stand in the midst of a transition where we cannot remain standing. That is why the sadness passes: the new presence inside us, the presence that has been added, has entered our heart, has gone into its innermost chamber and is no longer even there, - is already in our bloodstream. And we don't know what it was. We could easily be made to believe that nothing happened, and yet we have changed, as a house that a guest has entered changes. We can't say who has come, perhaps we will never know, but many signs indicate that the future enters us in this way in order to be transformed in us, long before it happens.


I could give you no advice but this: to go into yourself and to explore the depths where your life wells forth.

I Should Be Sleeping

It's late. It's Saturday night and instead of sleeping, I'm watching King Kong on TV. It shouldn't be so convincing, the bond between a giant gorilla and a beautiful woman. But it is. He just wants to save her. He wants her for himself, sure, but he risks life and limb against dinosaurs, chloroform, men with their guns, what appear to be super-sized bats, and more just to ensure her safety. You know the animation is top notch when the pouting and shoulder slump of a make-believe three ton gorilla can make my eyes glisten with tears. That kind of sacrificial love just doesn't happen anymore! Sure he bit one guy's head off, but he was just trying to get to Anne. Sure, he destroyed half of 1920s New York, but he was just trying to have a romantic moment with his unlikely lady friend. No need for the guns and the planes. Poor King Kong. It's time for bed.


Educational Policy

It all comes down to reading. Reading and playing. Who knew?


To Do List

Things I intend to accomplish this month:

1. Finish my grad school application
2. Get my nose pierced
3. Get a haircut (scheduled: Thurs Wednesday 5:45)

4. Actually go to my yoga class...more than once
5. Clean out my closet
6. Go to the dentist (scheduled: next Wednesday 4:00)
7. Do my finish taxes
8. Renew my license
9. Renew my passport
10. Change my name on important documents. It's time.


Gender Roles

"Women hold up half the sky..."

Once a feminist always a feminist. I like how this story ends...


Phonies Mourn Death of J.D. Salinger

Well I guess what I'm gonna do is, I'm gonna suggest that you check this out.

For the record, Salinger really did pass away. The Onion just isn't known for its reverence.