My dear sister Deede and her husband Les have just departed from our house after a wonderful visit of 4 and a half days with us, and, as I always tend to feel after a visit with my family members, I'm a bit melancholy, nostalgic, and a bit disjointed-feeling, but supremely grateful for the time we've shared. They arrived on Thursday afternoon, and Deede and I went to Urbaniak's to get ingredients for the lasagna I was making that day and picked up at Top's the new Erie Reader that had just come out that day. I'm always delighted to see what Nick has on the front page that issue and glad to be in the same town where it's published. Emily and Zander joined us for dinner, and Zander's sweet question,"Is my Campa here?" delighted us, as he ran joyfully into Dan's arms as soon as he spotted him. Apparently, he likes my lasagna, so that's a good thing. The next day we drove around Presque Isle, stopped at the lighthouse, and took the scenic route along Route 5 to spot the random beach locations along the way into New York, along with acres and acres of vineyards. After we returned, Nick came over to join us in singing "Happy Birthday" to Deede and making her blow out the candles on her surprise birthday cake. On Saturday we went to see a play, "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" put on by Dramashop, which was terrific! Then for Sunday we had Spaghetti Bolognese (made with venison and panchetta) and sauteed spinach from our garden. Later that night, we all watched a couple of movies on TCM (Turner Classic Movies), No Down Payment and All That Heaven Allows and then several episodes of Good Behavior from Amazon.
Life sure does take some funny turns. I have a book that I keep starting to read (and RE-starting) called How to Survive Change . . . You Didn't Ask For: Bounce Back, Find Calm in Chaos, and Reinvent Yourself, by M.J. Ryan that seems to capture--at least in its title--what I keep trying to do in the last six years. Since I stopped teaching at Edinboro at the end of Dec. 2011 (officially, as of Oct. 2012), I HAVE been trying to reinvent myself, without completely starting from scratch. I realize some people will end up doing that, but I don't really want to. I don't think I have to, either, to be honest. I just need to reconsider what angle of my talents I am working on at the present moment.
At this time, I have accepted an offer to teach full time (for 10 months) at Wenzhou-Kean University in Wenzhou, China at the Lecturer level. I would have preferred being at the Assistant Professor level at least, especially considering that I had earned my way up the ranks to Associate Professor at Edinboro University, but since I am not in line for a tenure-track position there, just an option to be renewable, I am temporarily content with that. I am also very glad to be able to teach again at the same university as my husband! When we got married, I fully expected to be working at the same school as my spouse, but I accepted that I was marrying a person who could conceivably take me away from a job I loved. (Of course, not without my consent. But in my scheme of what's important in life, I rate my choice of spouse and subsequent commitment to him higher than I rate my commitment to a job.) And that eventually happened, as Dan started working at Northeastern. Those of us who know the situation understand how we ended up back here in Erie, but I have to say that, lately, or at least for the last two or three years, our lives have seemed to be directed by divine forces. Just when it seemed like we would have to make some drastic changes again, we have had opportunities come our way that fit well into the calendars of our lives. If I am seeming a little cryptic, it's only because what I am writing can be seen by anybody, but those who know us will understand better what I am leaving unstated.
I think this space will be a good one for those who want to keep up with what's going on in our lives from afar, although we'll be using WeChat and Skype to catch up with loved ones on a more frequent basis. Meanwhile, I'll keep posting on this blog more frequently now, at least once a week, preferably on Friday mornings until we leave, and then on Wednesdays, which will be my day not teaching.
When I was talking with one of my students about bonus point possibilities, which I have encouraged them to suggest, she mentioned giving bonus points for comments on my husband's blog, Time and Place (at http://danielaustinwatercolors.com). I gave it some thought, and although I'm not sure I'll add that possibility to the list that's growing, I'll incorporate her own suggestion for comments that students make on an online discussion board that I can post on the Blackboard site. That's reasonable and relevant and enhances their thinking about the work they're doing.
That got me to thinking about whether I ought to consider comments to my own blog entries, plus, it might motivate me to post entries more often. I have been so sporadic about posting entries on here, but I should get back into the habit of making regular and more thematic ones (i.e., based on a certain type of theme). The only problem is: my so-called "themes" keep changing!
This week my topic is "GETTING READY FOR CCCC (pronounced "four seas" by those who are not in the composition field, or rather, "4 Cs"). I'm excited about this year's conference, but I hope I have enough stamina to log all those walking miles that inevitably lie ahead.
I've been referring to substantive magazines and journals a couple of times on this blog, and I wanted to add a few more to the list, particularly for those who are working on research projects.
Interesting Journals, Substantive Magazines, and High-Quality Newspapers
- Health Affairs
- The Big Issue
- Free Press
- Toronto Star
- New York Times
- Boston Globe
- Dollars and Sense
- Chicago Tribune
Blogs and Websites
- Public Citizen
- V. Club
- The Top Magazines for Eating
- Everyone’s an Author Tumblr
- Web of Language
- This I Believe
Keep checking back on this site to see any additional sites or links.
So, it's been slightly more than six months since we've been here in Erie, and my head has almost stopped spinning from all the changes in the past two years. And to think I originally moved to this area in the first place 29 years ago because I wanted my life to have fewer changes!
Oh well, many have been good--marrying my wonderful husband Dan at the top of the list! We'll be celebrating our 21st anniversary this year on the 4th with our usual fireworks display ;-) even though everyone always thinks it's for the fourth of July. WW Writing Services is getting busier by the day, what with Thumbtack and LinkedIn ProFinder among the various places people find out about my consulting services. Here's the logo I'm using for it.
LinkedIn's ProFinder sent me 75 referrals in the past WEEK alone!! I just caught up with responding to all of them today! Also discovered that I seem to have two Skype accounts (so that means two separate Microsoft accounts as well): wwaustin and drwendywarrenaustin, and the latter seems more tightly connected to my original Microsoft account and hotmail email address, so it seems to work better, although I had used that one (originally) exclusively for my SNHU students. It looks like I might be teaching again this fall also, so that's not a bad thing that I still have that account. Next post on the blog I'll have some miniature resume samples to display.
Enjoy some interesting reading at these sites:
Exciting changes brewing for next month--a new house, well, really, an new old house! Greater proximity to family, familiar territory, and dear friends!
I just read a very informative article today in the Chronicle of Higher Education's ProfHacker column called "Stop the Spread of Fake News," by Lee Skallerup Bessette. In it he talks about Facebook and how a lot of people say they don't get their news from Facebook, but tend to find out things that they think is news long enough to keep alive that tasty Kool-aid of believability that spreads faster than the news that it's not true. He mentions "Mish" Zimdars' site, "False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and Satirical `News' Sites" which is a goldmine for research writing students!
Another site he mentions is "Fight with Facts, Not With Rumors," written by science fiction writer and blogger, Naomi Kritzer. In turn, she points to another site, " " that includes a list of
American News X
|Being Liberal||The Other 98%||DailyBuzzLive|
|BiPartisan Report||The Freethought Project||GulagBound|
|Winning Democrats||Addicting Info||EmpireNews.com|
|BlueNationReview||Newslo||The Daily Currant|
Among the comments that I wrote in responses to student posts, I mentioned Mom and some of her funny moments. It is so nice thinking about her, so I thought I'd just place a picture here of both of us. I hope I can go visit her soon again.
I'm winding up my last day teaching two sections of ENG 123 for Term 16EW6, although next week starts a whole new term: 16EW1 all over again! No matter how long I teach the short terms for SNHU, I still feel like the length of the terms should be "semesters," 15 or 16 weeks. But I guess that's not unusual, considering I taught for 24 1/2 years with those course time frames. I'm always wishing I could have done a few things differently at these times.
For one thing, I wish I had stressed how annoying it is to have repeated grammatical or punctuation (surface-level) mistakes in a piece of writing, especially one considered a final version. Next term, I should warn students about things that irritate me. Here's a list:
- Unclear or vague pronoun references--it, this, them, that, they, etc..
- Missing commas after an introductory clause
- Too many "there is/are/was/were" phrases in a paper
- Using regular paragraph indentation instead of hanging indents
- Not even thinking about a title for a paper
- Thinking that I don't actually read the papers thoroughly or know when a student is writing a bunch of BS
- there's more, but I don't want to come off sounding like Oscar the Grouch.
- Students who don't bother to read the etext or the directions (Guidelines) for an assignment
- Obvious plagiarism
I'm not happy with the way the Course Modules dumb down the paper-writing experience. More "Design Feedback Tickets" to fill out--ugh! I spend enough time grading, doing outreach, checking the Grade Center, and talking or emailing with students.
I'm glad I didn't see too much blatant plagiarism this time. It's the bad paraphrasing-kind of plagiarism or near-plagiarism that I mostly see, and that's not necessarily a student's fault since they are simply learning how to integrate sources. It's so hard to do that skillfully, but it's 10 times harder when a person doesn't read on a regular basis.
I could easily predict who might get a decent grade in a class if I simply had a questionnaire at the beginning asking students if they read for pleasure at all. The ones you do will probably get a better grade. It's pretty amazing.
I'm going to diverge from this topic for a brief minute and send a shout-out to my brilliant husband whose book was published a couple of weeks ago:
Here's the blurb for it on the publisher page:http://www.wklegaledu.com/focus-casebook-series/id-9781454868064/Business_Bankruptcy_Law_in_Focus
Congratulations, Dan! Quite impressive! (Those people at Wolters-Kluwer need to put a picture of you on their site, too, not just the other guy!!)