Monday, March 26, 2012

For Extra Credit...

... describe what is wrong with the following sentence:

"The National Park System is well endowed to commemorate Women’s contributions to American Society."

(At the time I posted this, this was the very first sentence on the Wiki page for Women's History Sites (National Park Service)). Click to embiggen.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Thoughts on Writing and New Ideas

There were recently a series of posts online that took a different look at the horrible writing that we as instructors sometimes (often) have to grade (and by extension, the horrible writing that we, as students, hopefully less than often, hand in). I especially appreciated the discussions about how writing style can go down the toilet when people are struggling to make sense of new ideas. I am appreciating it as a student, as I find myself writing in circles as I tussle with new ideas, theories, and applications. And I'm appreciating it as an instructor, as I know my students are encountering ideas and information completely foreign to many of them (physical anthropology; 'nuff said). Here are the links; I recommend each of them.

Tenured Radical, So You Think You Can Write During The Semester. Well, yes I did. And it's difficult to the point of not happening, at least not re: The Book. Though I have written other non-class stuff, including conference papers, an article, a book review, and two grant proposals. All of these are good, productive things, but they've also been procrastination about The Book. There is navel-gazing going on over this issue that will hopefully result in unjamming the jam. Back to TR! Though a lot of what she writes is about academics and squeezing in the writing, I saw several places where prof and student writing lives were not that different (last minute-ness; hopes for a social life; being unprepared...).

And two really great posts from Dr. Crazy about evaluating writing and why it's important (and where students need more direction, specifically: take what you learn here and apply it Over There...) and about writing quality when students run up against Unfamiliar Things:

Yes, English Majors Submit Crappy Papers, Too
I Know This Sounds Weird, but Thank You Dr. Crazy for the C-

And Flavia with a follow-up: Bad writing ≠ bad writer.

I think I'll talk with my students about some of this in class on Monday, and share with them some edits on one of my (not bad but still inked-up with edits) papers.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

*That's* Not Good!

I'm working on a grant proposal. Of course there was hardly any time between when I found out about the grant and when it is due. I finished a draft late Thursday and sent it off for comments.

The comments I got back from someone who I trust to know these things included "yikes," "dreadful" and "horribly awry." I have some serious re-writing to do...

Update 3/13/12: 5 drafts later, it's much better and on it's way. Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Good to Know... order to boil water for much-needed morning coffee, it is necessary to not only put water in the kettle, but to turn on the stove.

Yes indeedy, it is one of those days.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Surprised in the Wilderness

Potomac Falls, Maryland/Virginia, February 18, 2012.

Well, it wasn't *quite* the wilderness... but there were trees and water, and a few surprises. Friends and I went for a hike near DC, vising the falls of the Potomac River, which is really quite stunning. 

Maryland Gold Mine, Great Falls Park, February 18, 2012.

The surprises? There's gold in them thar hills. These mines in the hills outside DC were operated until the mid-twentieth century. Over 5,000 ounces of gold were extracted. That's somewhere around $7.5 million at recent gold prices. Dang. I shouldn't have been surprised at gold in the hills; after all, there are emeralds not far away in North Carolina and a silver mine underneath Sing Sing prison. What surprised me was gold mining practically in sight of the National Mall into the late 1940s.

Finally, there was a Barbie Doll Murderer in the vicinity. We came across two, count them TWO, Barbie corpses. One death by drowning, one death on the rocks. I know they're only toys, but it was a little disturbing. 

Death by Drowning, Great Falls Park, Maryland, February 18, 2012.
Death on the Rocks, Great Falls Park, Maryland, February 18, 2012.