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Wednesday, October 30, 2013


            As a writer, I wear a lot of masks. Tons of them, really. It’s not even limited to point of view characters. Characters develop their own quirks and so even when I’m wring one particular character’s POV, I have to take into account all of the mannerisms present from other characters present in the scene.

            For that reason, I like Halloween. I feel like the rest of the world finally gets a glimpse at what my everyday existence is like. I have a chance to—marginally—blend in with the rest of society.

Monday, October 28, 2013


            The longer I live, the more I start to explore other paths, other avenues of my personality and skills and how they all relate to one another. One of the essential truths I’ve discovered is that everything really is connected, you just need to change your perspective to find it.
            This became mostly true when I saw the connections between the life of a teacher and the life of a writer. Lessons from one skill and path applied to the other, with very little need to alter or translate the ideas.
            Though I didn’t really see it that way before, another facet has emerged, almost taking center-state in the last few months. Long unused skills at programming, at logical construction and computer language, have come back to cross the boundary between my hobby of technology to a tool that has become indispensable in teaching.
            I love finding these different facets and connecting them all together.

            I wonder what I’ll discover next.

Friday, October 25, 2013

F3 Masquerade

            I hated Halloween. Everything supernatural in the world would be out and about high on the extra power the day gave them. If I had any brains—which it was clear, I didn’t—I would be locked in my house behind consecration and armed to the teeth with silver and holy water.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


            In a conversation with a colleague, we talked about aspirations. We have them. We’re both attempting to become writers, we have achieved other aspirations with our education and careers, and we reach for more, constantly stretching ourselves.
            This is good. It’s right. It promotes growth. It’s active and creative.
            But what about a population that really doesn’t seem to aspire? What if the only goal is to become rich and lazy through the least amount of effort? What about a population that is completely passive in attempting to reach goals?

            The more I consider this, the more I’m grateful that I do aspire, and that I must do everything possible to not only continue reaching towards those aspirations, but to create new ones.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Online Viability

            I’m a big proponent of using technology as a tool. The internet is wonderful. Computers are amazing. Smartphones are useful. Like any tool, there is a right way and a right time for their use, and using them accordingly improves upon life in many ways, especially education.
            With that said, I’m reluctant to engage in teaching online. I know it’s the wave of the future. I know hundreds of higher education institutions sing their praises and offer thousands of courses and hundreds of degree programs all reached without setting foot outside one’s home.
            I feel there’s something essential, especially in the teaching of writing, in the personal connection that just can’t be replicated online yet. I conduct classes largely of group discussions which depend on the simultaneous participation of the entire class to generate the comments and questions necessary to bring out true insight.
            I’ve never articulated it this way before, but I think that the classroom environment, with so many people, is an attempt at trying to create inspiration. It works more often than you might think (Hey, Socrates knew what he was talking about) but it’s not something that can happen in online.
            The various discussion forums, audio casts, and video feeds don’t provide the same spark for inspiration.

            But part of me continues to wonder when I will break down and begin teaching online. Maybe there is a way to make that spark happen . . . there has to be, right?

Friday, October 18, 2013

F3 The Slide

            Calypso coasted towards the tunnel’s entrance as Flynn ordered the rest of her sails furled. The golden-walled tunnel of the Slide didn’t look menacing like other celestial anamolies. Astrophysicists still struggled to understand the exact nature of the Slide. They knew that the Slide had certain rules.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Sanity Saving

            Through social networks and even a quick Google search it’s easy to find any number of humorous images depicting what happens to teachers as they teach. The calm, composed, and passionate teacher ends up frazzled, injured, and ready for a straightjacket by the end of the term.
            And every teacher agrees with such a depiction, though there is debate on whether it takes the entire term or just a couple of weeks for such a state to come to pass.
            I’ve launched, with the help of some colleagues, something of a new project that has the decided benefit of bleeding off stress and saving sanity.
            I’ve been questioning 1) whether to debut this project here or in its own place to be disconnected from my life as a writer, and 2) whether or not I truly have the time for yet another project amid so many others.

            I will say that this hobby project has been instrumental at saving our collective sanity, delaying the inevitable need for a straightjacket.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Cause of the Distance

            I don’t know why I’m more distant this semester. I could easily talk about students, about the environment, about education in general. I could talk about how I’ve put more attention and importance on other projects (notably writing), but there’s still something else, something I can’t quite identify that keeps me at a distance this semester.

            I keep hoping that conversations with friends, mostly teacher friends, will help unearth the cause, but so far, they haven’t. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

F3 Asylum

She waited just outside the elevator. She stood taller than most Chinese women I had come across, nearly five eight and in silk slippers instead of the heels my more usual female companionship wore. She pulled blue-black hair over one ear to reveal a dangling earring.
A nervous gesture, just as she’s not making eye contact with me.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Getting Immersed

            Most semesters I can motivate myself to engage and immerse myself in the teaching. I genuinely like teaching. I enjoy it when students understand concepts and begin to look at their world with a more critical viewpoint. I love seeing their eyes open when they truly understand. So it’s generally easy to start out motivated. What happens later is not the subject of this post.
            However, this semester has been tougher. I can’t quite do it. I feel like I’m going through the motions more. I’m at a distance, and part of me really likes the idea of being at that distance. I’m quickly able to rationalize it as necessary because I want to keep writing, but it’s also disturbing.
            I don’t want to turn into one of those apathetic professors I had in school. We all know the kind. They read out of the textbook or simply lectured the entire time without making eye contact with a single student. The ones where questions were, if not forbidden, strictly taboo as they broke the professor's pace.

            I’m not there yet. I know that, but how many slippery slopes until I am?

Monday, October 7, 2013


            In my syllabi, I put a quote by Bruce Lee: “Don’t fear failure. Not failure, but low aim, is the crime. In great attempts it is glorious even to fail.” I love this quote. I love it because I live it all the time. I fail constantly. It’s just part of the game, part of life. But the reason I fail so often is because I am reaching. I am trying something new, trying to extend past my limits.
Past the boundaries, in those uncharted territories, there will be missteps. I will fail; often. And I’m fine with that because I know that it’s something great. Moreover, failure is not final. Failure is not the end of the journey, it’s not a cause to stop, but a message to try again because, eventually, I will not fail. I will overcome and master, turning that failure into success.

And then, after I pat myself on the back, take a bow, take a nap, I’ll get up and start it again. I’ve always got something new on the horizon to strive for.

Friday, October 4, 2013

F3 Peasant Justice

            The hat finished making its way to all the students. Alex pocketed the remainder of the slips of folded paper, replacing the peasant hat on his head.
            “Okay,” he picked up his pitchfork, “read your instructions and follow them.”

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Travel Tips: Souvenirs

            Along with photos, I’ve started giving up on the practice of collecting souvenirs while I travel.  It’s not that I’m against souvenirs, or that I think they cost too much (which, in most cases, they do). It’s actually a far more practical consideration of space and weight. I tend to pack very densely to begin with, so I don’t have a lot of space for these items.
            I’ve also grown weary of the typical gift shop fare. Most places all seemed to be stocked with the same assortment of shirts, mugs, magnets, keychains, and other knick-knacks. It’s hard to find a souvenir that really speaks to me, something that will not just sit on a shelf collecting dust. Consequently, I don’t get much in the way of souvenirs, anymore.

            However, when I do find something I want, in today’s world of online commerce, it’s possible to get souvenirs from a vacation well after the vacation. I’ll use my phone’s camera to take a picture of what I want so I can buy it after I get back home.
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