Friday, June 30, 2006

My New Blog

Yep, I'm starting on another blog. (Okay, okay, what began as an experiment in rhetoric and communication is resulting in an addiction. No, no!! I can stop anytime I want!) Anyway, this new blog is actually a team effort. Jimmy and I are going to be working on this new one together. (Don't worry, it's not a sappy dating blog or wedding blog; it's something even more fun and more interesting.) Tulsa has penguins, and we're going to start 'Chasing Penguins.' The blog will probably consist primarily of photos, but we'll be sure to balance the pictures with brilliant and witty comments. We're just getting the new blog started; it's currently published, but it's still under construction. Hopefully we'll have it looking wonderful and updated soon....

Thursday, June 29, 2006


I bought a Guinness t-shirt when I was in Ireland last summer. One day when I wore it, one of my nephews remarked, "Oh, that's the world record book guy!" Well, yes, sort of. Check out the story; it really is connected.

Another one of my nephews has a Guinness hat; he calls it his genius hat.

We had an unofficial 'girls night out' last night. The weekly location is a little quasi-Irish pub. I've been told that the pub we go to serves the best Guinness in town, but I haven't tried it there yet.

And finally, a picture from last summer, taken at the #1 tourist attraction in Ireland....

Monday, June 26, 2006

Things You Find When You Clean the Office....

I'm spending my afternoon in the office -- cleaning the office, supposedly. Since I'm taking on a new position next year, I'm being moved into a new office. (An office with windows; I'm moving up in the world.) I'm not too excited about moving because I like my position in the building, even though my current office doesn't have any windows. (I'm right across the hall from all three of the professors that I'm working with this next year; it's very convenient.) Anyway, the thing that I think I like least about switching offices is the whole cleaning and moving process. I'm sorting through files and preparing to box up books (which will probably stay in their boxes because I don't have room for them at my apartment and my new office doesn't have a whole wall of bookshelves).

Anyway, when I was sorting through a few files, I came across a couple of sheets of collected quotes from a favorite English professor. They made me smile, so I thought I would share.... Here are some words of wisdom and insight from a brilliant mind:

"A woman seducing a man is comic; a man seducing a woman is tragic." --on romance and anti-romance

"It's like a cat that goes out and kills a rat, then drags it back to show what it's done." --on chivalry, knights, and loyalty to the lady

"Lets learn while you burn!" --on reading and sunbathing

"I forgot what the rest of my sentence was going to be." --on speaking and complex sentences

"Her name was Brittany long before 'Brittany' was popular. I always want to call her Normandy; those are two provinces in France." --on naming

"I hope that some of my former students haven't stolen it." --on her favorite book on Chaucer in the library

"Well, at least we know earth is fallen. I'm not sure about Mars and Jupiter." --on the sinfulness of man

"The Muslims must be kind of like the Baptists.... If you want to get back at the Catholics, bomb the Pope.... If you have a group of fanatic Baptists, who do you punish? It's just not handy." --on retaliation for terrorist attacks

"It was beautiful, but I couldn't understand it." --on Shelley's "Ode to Skylark"

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Hmmm, Summer....

The summer class that I'm teaching ended last week, so now I get to have my summer break. (I still have a few papers to grade and things like that, but everything will be finished by Monday.) I haven't had much luck in finding gainful employment for the rest of the summer, so I'll probably end up doing some volunteer work and attempting to keep myself busy. (I've been in contact with a temp agency; we'll see how that expectations.) I do have a lot of reading and studying that I need to be doing this summer, but I always have trouble motivating myself to do school-type work during the summer. I've read a few fun books so far this summer, but I need to settle in and do some serious reading. I also have a paper that I need to revise for a conference later this summer (more details about that will follow at a later date). I also need to work on my Spanish a bit more -- no hablo espanol bien.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Elvis and Willard

Elvis has left the building, and Willard was forcibly removed....

Elvis is the big black lab who lives with the guy in the apartment across the hall. The guy across the hall is out of town for the summer, so Elvis has a new home somewhere for the summer.

While Elvis left the building willingly, Willard was forcibly removed. Willard was a mouse who moved into my kitchen. (Actually, this was Willard #2. The original Willard moved in at about Thanksgiving and was evicted after a few weeks. It took a while to locate Willard #1; Jimmy says he had the little guy in the witness protection program for something.) Anyway, I learned a few things with Willard #1, so I bypassed all of the snap traps and the fancy traps and just started in with the sticky traps. (They're kinda gross, but they actually work!) So Willard #2 was evicted from the premises yesterday, only a single day after his presence was discovered.... (YAY no more Willard!!)

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Little Baby Plants

My potted garden is starting to come up already!! I think every lettuce seed that I planted came up about three times, and the marigolds are coming up nicely too. I don't remember which herbs were planted in which pots, but one of them is starting to come up too. My patio tomato seems happy on my little balcony. Since all of the other plants are starting to come up, I think I'll move them from the back porch out to the front balcony; they'll look pretty out there.

And Happy Father's Day!!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Happy Bloomsday!!

I'll borrow from to give the brief explanation of Bloomsday:

"Bloomsday is a holiday observed annually on June 16 to celebrate the life of Irish writer James Joyce and commemorate the events in his novel Ulysses, all of which took place on the same day in Dublin in 1904. The day is also a secular holiday in Ireland. The name derives from Leopold Bloom, the protagonist in Ulysses, and June 16 was the date of Joyce's first outing with his wife-to-be, Nora Barnacle, when they walked to the Dublin village of Ringsend.

The event is commemorated with a range of cultural activities including academic conferences, Ulysses readings and dramatizations, pub crawls and general merriment. Enthusiasts may often dress in Edwardian costume to celebrate Bloomsday. The first celebration took place in 1954 and a major five-month-long festival (ReJoyce Dublin 2004) took place in Dublin between April 1 and August 31, 2004. On the Sunday prior to the 100th anniversary of Bloomsday in 2004, 10,000 people in Dublin were treated to a free, open air, full Irish breakfast on O'Connell Street consisting of sausages, rashers, toast, beans, and black and white puddings, and a pint of Guinness."

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Something Resembling a Summer Routine....

I feel like I'm starting to settle back into something of a summer routine. This week's been relatively uneventful (which is fairly typical for summer). I've been spending part of the mornings at the gym, and I spent a few mornings playing in the dirt and letting the mosquitoes eat me. I'm working on a potted garden; I have a patio tomato and I planted lettuce, basil, rosemary, chives, and sage (and some pretty flowers too). I don't know how much luck I'll have with my plants since I planted them this late, but I'll certainly have fun with them. My summer class met on Monday and Wednesday, and they managed to do okay without me last week. It seems like the summer term's nearly disappeared: one more week and I'm finished with my class. (And I'm still searching for another part-time job to fill some hours for the rest of the summer....)

Monday, June 12, 2006

Talkin' Texan

I went to Texas for a family reunion this past week, and I'm not stretching out my 'i's any more!! (I didn't think I would pick up any of the southern drawl, but I did catch myself stretching some of the vowels when I was talking to people down there....)

I enjoyed my trip down to Windthorst, TX for the family reunion. I hadn't been down for a family reunion in at least 9 years (I think it was 10 actually), and I felt like I needed to go see everyone there again. Quite a bit of the family came up to Kansas for Mom and Dad's 50th wedding anniversary last year, and seeing everyone there made me realize how much I had missed seeing everyone during the years between. The reunion was on Sunday after church. (See the picture of the absolutely beautiful church that's in the tiny little town!) However, the festivities actually began on Saturday night with a fish-fry out at Aunt Margaret's house. (Aunt Margaret lives in the house that used to belong to my grandpa. The house was always a central gathering spot.) I met up with Mom, Dad, and Janet that evening, and we all spent the night at Aunt Grace's house. (Aunt Grace always insists that Mom and Dad stay at her house when they go down to visit. Janet and I got invited too.) I thoroughly enjoyed the reunion, and I got to see lots of people who I hadn't seen in a very long time....

And then today was back to the same ol' everyday routine (or as much of 'the same ol' everyday routine' that actually exists during the summer)....

Friday, June 09, 2006

Florida, In Retrospect....

Okay, I'm back in Oklahoma. Now that I can actually sit in front of a computer for longer than about 15 minutes at a time, I'm going to attempt to describe some of the elements of my trip. As with a previous 'description of a trip' post, I'll use some headings to both guide the reader and the writer....

Scoring AP English Literature Exams
Well, I spent the past seven days reading and scoring English Literature AP exams in Daytona, Florida. Since I've had a few people asking about how the exams are scored, I'll share a little about the process and the experience. First, there were about 1,100 readers there to read and score the exams. (The readers included primarily graduate students, university faculty, and high school AP English teachers.) The 1,100 readers were then divided into three groups (thus that's where I got the 350ish figure that I used in a previous post). Each group was then responsible for reading and scoring all of the essays from a single question of the exam. (In other words, we were all reading essays responding to the same prompt for the entire week.) We read all of the AP English Literature exams that were taken throughout the country (and in American schools overseas). The whole experience was quite interesting, and I learned a lot about the AP program and about student writing. Sometimes the days (particularly the mornings, as I'm not a morning person) felt a bit long, and sometimes I just didn't want to read any more, but, on the whole, the experience was worthwhile (and the check that comes in the mail in a few weeks won't be too bad either). I think I'd do it again....

Playing on the Beach
One of the added perks of the trip was playing on the beach. (Though I should mention that the reading site will change next year due to the available facilities. Next year the reading will be in Louisville, Kentucky.) I spent a lot of time in the water, getting pushed around by the waves. I don't really like to swim, but it was fun to wade out and play. I enjoyed walking on the coast where the water was about ankle deep; I could see my feet through the water and could also see the little fishies swimming close to my toes. I went out looking for sea shells a few times, and I found some pretty little ones. I went out after dark one evening, and I discovered what jellyfish look (and feel!) like....

Today's Travel
Today was my travel day. I got on a bus just before 8am and my last plane landed in Oklahoma just a little after 5pm. While I was hoping for a peaceful travel day, I wasn't quite so fortunate. My bus was scheduled to leave at 8am, so I checked out of my hotel, walked to the convention center, and loaded my stuff on the bus. Since I was nearly 15 minutes early, I decided to run inside and grab some juice and fruit (something resembling breakfast) to eat on the way to the airport. While the bus wasn't scheduled to leave until the top of the hour, the driver decided that they would leave early; fortunately, a very nice lady let him know that I wasn't there and they waited for me. In addition to the near-fiasco with the bus, both of my flights were delayed. The flight out of Orlando wasn't more than 15 minutes late, but my flight out of Houston was very late. The depart time had been moved back about 35 minutes before we ever boarded the plane, and then we were delayed for another 25+ minutes once we got on the plane. (They told us they were having trouble with one of the engines and needed to fix it. While I'm glad they fixed it and we all got home safely, I didn't really need/want to know that the engines on the plane weren't working just before we were scheduled to depart!) Our 5pm arrival in Oklahoma was about an hour later than the anticipated arrival....

I could probably keep writing and rambling, but I'm a bit tired after my travels. Also, I'm bound for Texas tomorrow (it's family reunion weekend), and I'd like to be well-rested for my drive.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

(B/T)each Bum

Still grading papers in Florida....

The scoring's going well, though I'm a little slow in the mornings. (I do manage to work at a very nice rate in the afternoons though.) Our entire group (all 350ish of us) is a little behind our schedule. We worked an extra half hour today to try to catch up. I'm not too mentally exhausted at this point, but I'm getting tired of reading mediocre essays about Oscar Wilde's Lady Windermere's Fan. (Not all of the essays are mediocre; some are really well-written. However, I'm not all that impressed with most of the writing.) At this point, I don't know how many essays I've read; maybe they'll tell me at the end of the week....

I've been playing on the beach in the evenings. The ocean was a bit rough this evening. I just let the waves crash into me. I also walked around on the beach for a while picking up sea shells. (I didn't find many that were very large, but it was still fun.) I browsed through some of the tourist and beachfront shops yesterday. I picked up a few little things, but nothing too big or exciting.

We finally got the whole hotel fiasco straightened out.... When we--myself and about 150 other people--arrived, we were told that we would not be staying in the main hotel reserved for the ETS program and located right across the street from our convention center. (Apparently the people in charge hadn't reserved enough hotel rooms to accommodate for all of the readers.) Anyway, they ended up putting us up in a hotel nearly 3 miles away, and we were left relying on shuttle busses to get back and forth between our locations. (This wouldn't have been so bad had the busses had consistent schedules. Basically, we knew that they were supposed to send busses about every 20 minutes, but there was never any real type of consistent schedule.) So, after lots of complaints from unhappy people about the inconvenience, they finally moved us to a closer (and much, much nicer) hotel. I'm now just down the street (less than half a block) from the convention center in a very nice hotel room with an amazing view of the beach. I guess this makes up for the inconvenience of the shuttle and all that stuff....

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Papers and La Playa

It's lunch break, and I finally managed to find the little computer lab that's set up for us here.... Anyway, things here in Florida are going well. Our work day goes from 8:30 to 4:45, and then they turn us loose to play. I've been going out to the beach the past few days, and that's been a lot of fun. (I'd never seen the ocean from this side before. I'm enjoying playing in the water and getting pushed around by the waves. Somehow I was a bit surprised when I ended up with the taste of salt water in my mouth after the first wave crashed into me.) I don't know that I'm altering my tan lines at all, but I guess that doesn't really matter....