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Monday, July 30, 2012

Student Autonomy

     In teaching, I've been moving towards policies and methods that focus on student autonomy. It's important for them to feel integrated into the process, and to take ownership of their own education. I remember my own college days fairly well. The struggle was more against myself than the material, and courses that allowed me to take control of how I learned are the ones where I did best.
      I never had courses to the degree of autonomy I'm looking to embrace for my students, but the nature of education has changed over the years. It feels harder to get people engaged, even when I'm trying to teach them what they will need not just to be better writers, but to be better students and employees.
      This movement is not without risks. In order to be successful, students will have to embrace the process, otherwise it will fail miserably. Previously, I had policies that would allow the class to move forward even with minimal participation. Now, if the students remain disengaged, it will be a mad scramble to come up with something that works, and will likely come across as dictatorial, alienating me from the students.
      But I think it's a worthwhile gamble. I'll report back on my results when I have them.

Friday, July 27, 2012

F3 A Crew

     When you do a job, you need people. Small jobs can go for one or two people, but the bigger the pay off, the more people needed. I thought I was done running cons. I thought I could get by in life without them.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Switching Gears

     I've spent a good part of the summer revising a book at the suggestion of an editor. Now that I've finished that, I need to get back to writing. The problem is I've spent so much time in the world of the book I was revising, all I can do is generate ideas and stories for its sequel. It's quite distracting to jot down notes for it when I need to get my head back into another character and universe. It's like going from driving a luxury car to a 4x4. There are certain similarities, but they handle in vastly different ways.
      It's a good thing I've got an outline to work from, rough as it is. That's a pretty new practice for me, too. I used to be a die hard pantser, but over time I've been outlining more and more. It's a good thing, but I'll go more into that in a different post. For now, I have to go off-roading.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Theater Tragedy

     I can't begin to express my feelings over the tragedy of the premier of The Dark Knight Rises. I'm sure many others have already done so, and in more eloquent fashion. I'm sure studies and messages of outcry over what could cause such actions will undoubtedly be explored in every way possible.
      But there's still the aftermath, and all I can think of is the aftermath of 9/11, of the aftermath of Virginia Tech. I remember after 9/11 being asked, "Would you fly again?" Without hesitation, I answered yes. After Virginia Tech I was asked, "Do you feel safe walking around campus?" Again, I didn't hesitate to answer I did. Now, after the disruption in our theaters, in that place that is so common to every day people, I won't hesitate to see movies. I will go and continue to enjoy films. Perhaps, now, I will do so even more, as a form of protest to the actions of one man, who sought to put our world into chaos and turmoil. I will go and enjoy, making light of fear.
      To others, I ask the same. Go and enjoy. The way to fight such terrorism is not more security in our every day places, not to submit to the loss of freedom and fear. Go and watch. Enjoy. Let those who trade in fear know we are not afraid.

Friday, July 20, 2012

F3 The Banshee

     She screamed like she always did, filling the air with a howl that made most people cringe and cover their ears. To me the sound was encouraging, something to be relished. Today there was no one around to discourage the Banshee from screaming, so I let her go to her heart's content. The wail echoed around the inside my garage until I hit the button.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Space Opera

     I am in need of a good space opera on TV. I lament not having the days of Star Trek, Stargate, and Battlestar Galactica. I need great space battles and epic quests in the vastness of space.
      Now, I have a solution. With the popularity of Game of Thrones on television, there should be a series based on science fiction books of an equal caliber. I suggest Jack Campbell's Lost Fleet series. With a six book series and a second series beginning, there is ample material for a series of at least five season (maybe on up to 10 depending on how it's done). So, networks, bring me the adventures of "Black Jack" Geary!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Travel Bug

     I've gone to a wedding already this summer, but I still have the travel bug. The only question remains is whether or not I want to drive or fly. Given my location deep in the Sonoran Desert, finding places to visit within close proximity is difficult. At least places I haven't already exhausted. The latest wedding conveyed to me just how difficult a 10-12 hour drive is a little more than I'm willing to go any more, which means at least one stop to get anywhere interesting.
      While I'd love to visit my friend in Boston, I'm hesitant because I should be seeing him later in the year. Also, I'm eager to strike out in the car to parts unknown, well, because I can. Again, it's the proximity thing. I think I would have to travel out three days to get some place that I'd want to see, or I can take a five hour trip to Boston, the birthplace of the Revolution, where the history geek in me will go absolutely bonkers.
      Decisions, decisions.

Friday, July 13, 2012

F3 Nightmares

     "The stuff of nightmares doesn't belong to Lovecraftian descriptions of horror, nor does it belong to King's more believable portrayals of the known becoming horrific.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Language Conventions

     The English language is one of the most complex and flexible languages in the world. The permutations in how a sentence can be put together are staggering, especially when compared to other languages with a more stringent grammar and syntax. In many languages that use word order to determine meaning, the word order is rigidly enforced whether it is subject, verb object (as in many romance languages) or with the verb at the end of the sentence, or linguistic variations I haven't even conceived.
      English, though, while it largely follows the pattern of the romance languages, also has flexibility to put words in nearly any order, yet still convey the same meaning, or subtle variations on that meaning. Consequently, there are very few absolute times when a sentence must be phrased in a specific way. There are certainly more effective ways, but sometimes sentences must be written for a specific effect, or to reflect specific speech patterns.
      While sometimes accents in written text can be difficult and distracting, they have always been a fascination of mine, and are topping my list of things to research. I'm hoping I can find some kind of chart that might tell the differences.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Gaming Consoles

     I've been a gamer (of some kind) since days of yore. I had consoles such as the Colecovision, Intellivision, and a Commodore 64 (not technically a console, but it ran lots of cool games). Since those days, I've been a staunch supporter of Nintendo. Now the Wii U is looming, and I have to ask myself if I'm going to buy it as well. I like the premise, but I don't have the opportunity to play multiplayer games with friends as much as I did in college. While I'll always want the latest Zelda, Smash Bros., and Metroid, I often find better uses of my time, such as writing, reading, or just spending some me time. Do I have the wherewithal to continue console wars, especially when I buy only a few games?

Friday, July 6, 2012

F3 The Library

     In movies and TV shows, libraries are sacred halls of knowledge rife with forgotten nooks and corners housing ancient tomes of forbidden lore. The quirky but charismatic bookworm character finds the absolutely vital piece of information in the tome—complete with eerie diagram—right in the nick of time.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Independence Day

     I love July 4th. I love the United States. I've always been a huge history buff, and can rattle off stories about the 13 colonies long past the point when people will listen to me.
      It wasn't until I did a summer of grad school in Juneau, Alaska that I saw patriotism on a personal level. Yeah, I know, Juneau doesn't have colonial roots, and is geographically as far as it gets from the Revolutionary War. Every year, Juneau is proudly the first city in the U.S. to celebrate July 4th. They start just before midnight on July 3rd. The fireworks light up the sky near the docks where all the cruise ships come in, and it is literally standing-room only. The entire town turns out for this celebration of Independence. When speaking with Juneauites (I have no idea if that's the correct term, but it has a cool sound to it), the reason for this celebration is simple enough: the miners got the 4th off for a holiday.
      The origins of their celebration may not have had anything to do with Independence, but how the city celebrates does. They come out as a community both that night, and all day of the 4th. Barbecues, games, and events take place throughout the day. To my mind, nothing could be more patriotic than to spend the day in celebration with families and friends, enjoying the freedom the day represents to the fullest.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Teaching Brain

     My teaching brain is dying. Not because I've just been too long from teaching, but because I've focused on writing. I count this a good thing, overall. I needed the time to expand as a writer and let the stress associated with teaching melt away. Over the winter break I spent the whole time working on teaching, and I think it took its toll on me. I needed the down time, but I pressed on. I made some great innovations in the time, but now it's time to take care of other needs and other skills. Of course, I will need to get the teaching brain back very soon. The end is near.
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