Monthly Archives: December 2006

This is a Test…

I’ve found me a nice gentleman over at WordPress support who has absolutely NO idea what he’s gotten himself into by being kind to me as I fumble my way around this new blogging adventure.

I sent an email to support because my blogroll mysteriously disappeared, and I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out what I’d done to make it go away. After I sent the email, I was poking around and tried something that looked like it might solve my problem, and it did – my blogroll is back! Well, Mark from tech support actually returned my email, saying that he’d checked out my blogs and saw that I was back up with the blogroll. I replied and told him that yes, I’d managed to figure that bit out, but I had a bunch of questions and would he mind being my own personal tech support guy (thereby relieving my husband of some of the pressure of a techno-dummy wife)? Mark said yes, and I sent him a boatload of questions.

I told you that story so I could write a post to see if I can follow Good Mark’s guidance and actually work out underlining book titles in my blog (I should note here that Feather told me first how to do it, but I didn’t understand exactly what she was getting at..). Here goes…ready?

<u>The Scarlet Letter</u>


<u>The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank</u>

Now I’m off to hit “publish” and see if it works!!

**updated** WELL! We can all see how well THAT worked! Seriously – if you’re going to be giving Mrs. Chili computing instructions, you need to talk to her as if she were six years old.

I am pathetic…


Filed under Learning, little bits of nothingness, Questions

I Caved…

While I really, really love the Calvin and Hobbes that I had as my banner, I’d heard enough things from enough people to convince me that I wasn’t really following the rules by having it there.  I’m sad to have taken it down, but I couldn’t figure out a way to have it there legally, so off it goes.

The new banner is a sampling of my bookshelves.  I’ll keep thinking about what to put there long-term (and I’ll take suggestions) but, for now, the bookshelves seemed a theme-appropriate choice.  I really love that I can change the look of the blog whenever I feel like it, and have a feeling that you won’t see the same banner for more than a month or so…

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Filed under little bits of nothingness

Excuse me, Mrs. Chili?

Your geeky is showing…

books.JPGI went to visit my mom yesterday. I was so grateful to have the opportunity to sit with her for a while; she has a particular talent for helping me work troublesome things out and for forcing me, in that loving but oh-so-insistent way she way she has, to clarify my thinking. It was a good visit.

Before I left, she sat me down and asked me how important history is to me. Most of you know – some of you do not – that I was taken in by this woman I call Mom when I was a teenager fleeing an emotionally abusive home. Because of that, I sometimes feel that I have no legitimate claim to a history. She had something she wanted to give me, and she wanted to tell me how to came to her and what kind of path it had traced through my adopted family to come to me. I was all ears.

When she was a little girl, her father would take her to flea markets on Saturdays. It turns out that one of the flea market vendors had a staggering collection of books – thousands of them – and when this man decided to retire from the flea market business, Mom’s dad bought all the books from him (she said that her father’s motivation for the purchase was that he was sure someone had stashed cash within some pages somewhere, but she loved sneaking away old volumes just for the reading of them). When her father died, she inherited the books, and she recently selected a few to pass on to me.

She’s given me five books; a copy of American Prose (I’d underline the book titles like I’m supposed to, but I can’t figure out how to do that. Sorry) which was published in 1880 and has a GORGEOUS quote that expresses exactly why I love Nathaniel Hawthorne so much – I’ll get to that in a minute; Victorian Literature by Clement K Shorter (author of “Charlotte Bronte and her Circle”) published in 1897; English Literature by Alphonso Gerald Newcomer (Associate Professor of English in the Leland Stanford Junior University), published in 1905; History of English Literature by H. A. Taine (translated from the French by H. Van Laun), published in 1879; and the piece de la resistance, the prize of the exhibit, is Lessons in English: A Practical Course of Language Lessons and Elementary Grammar by Albert N. Raub, A.M., Ph.D., published in 1880.

I am SO excited to have these books.

Part of my thrill at having them is that they’re so stinking old. While I don’t often value things simply because of their age, I think books are one of the things that I’m willing to reserve a little age-related reverence for. Feather, over at Tatterdemallion, is thinking about how important it is to have a sense of history when one is studying literature (my mom, I think, would heartily agree with that, and would likely expand the direct object of “studying” to include pretty much anything. It’s all about context). I’m looking forward to spending time with these books to see what pieces were included in them, and to try to get an understanding of why the editors thought these were the important works of writing at the time. The books feel, to me, like little windows into the past. They hold clues about what scholars in my field valued 100-some-odd years ago, and that sense of history and connection is exciting to me as a teacher and as a student.

I’m LOVING the English textbook. Seriously – I’m going to photocopy some of the lessons and pass them on to my own students (and give copies to Organic Mama, who’s teaching grammar classes next term). It’s a hoot and a half. It demonstrates how to graph sentences. It defines the different tenses of verbs with examples like (I kid you not); I might see, Thou mightst have seen, He might see. It’s GORGEOUS.

I flipped open the American Prose book to see what they had to say about Hawthorne a mere 16 years after his death. Remember that bit I gave you about my favorite quote from old Nate and why I love him so much? Well, here’s what I found in the book Mom gave me:

He (Hawthorne) had a strong taste for New England history, and he found in the scenes and characters of that history favorable material for the representation of spiritual conflict. He was himself the most New English of New Englanders, and held an extraordinary sympathy with the very soil of his section of the country….One is astonished at the ease with which he seized upon characteristic features, and reproduced them in a word or phrase. Merely careful and diligent research would never be adequate to give the life-likeness of the images…

Yes, indeed.



Filed under Uncategorized

Coming AND Going

Every time I finish teaching a course – whether it’s been work for my internship, an enrichment class for elementary school kids, a volunteer stint at a summer camp, an adult ed. class or any of the courses I’ve taught for TCC – I always come away with a sort of double-edged sense of well being.  Not only have I taught something, but I’ve learned something, too.

One of my cats decided that 5:30 was a good time to wake up this morning and, not being able to get back to sleep, I had a little bit of pre-dawn quiet in which to contemplate my recent history.  I started out by thinking about the fact that my public speaking class has only one more meeting before we bid each other adieu, and I really hope that they learned half as much from me as I learned from them.

They taught me a lot about teaching adults (well, SOME of them did.  The others were really just high school students in older packages).  I learned that it’s important to make accommodations for students who don’t just ask for them, but who demonstrate that they are determined to succeed and can do so if given half a chance – and, usually, it’s only half a chance they’re asking for.

I learned that it’s important to have a work policy that’s extremely well thought out and articulated, or students – not all of them, certainly, but some – will find loopholes and try to manipulate the system.

I learned that I can’t reach every student.  I have one in this class that I lost toward the end, though I could be argued that I never really had him to begin with.  While I’m disappointed at his failure, I recognize it as his failure.  I can try, but I can’t save them all.

I learned that my love for this work really makes a difference to some of my students.  I’ve had a couple of them come to me to say that they want to do well for me because they can tell I care so much.  I can’t begin to tell you how gratifying that is.

I learned a lot about teaching this particular subject, too; I have a folder full of materials that I can use when I teach another section of public speaking.  I learned a lot of important things from my guest speakers.  I learned how important it is to plan out to the end a course so I don’t miss teaching something important.  I learned a little bit more about how to manage a half live, half online course.

All of these are secondary to the larger lessons, though, and the confirmation that I love this work.


Filed under Learning, Teaching

Copyright Infringement?

Does anyone know if I’m breaking any laws (or bending any ethics) by posting Calvin and Hobbes as my banner?  This is my MOST favorite Calvin and Hobbes (for obvious reasons) and I’d love to keep it up, but will cease and desist if I’m committing a huge no-no here.

Anyone know anything about that?


Filed under Questions

Grammar Wednesday

Okay, here we go: the third weekly Grammar Wednesday. I’m devoting this week’s edition to the apostrophe.

One of my pet peeves (and yes, they are many and varied, I know) is the improper use of apostrophes. Case in point: in addition to teaching English at TCC, I also teach fitness classes at a local health club. An instructor who took a leave of absence has returned to work, and there are bright yellow signs posted everywhere around the club that proclaim:


Dennis is back!! Kickboxing on Wednesday’s at 7:00 p.m.!


It’s killing me. SO, here are the apostrophe rules. Ready?

Use an apostrophe to show posession:

Jen’s favorite holiday movie is A Christmas Story.

If you happen to see her in class, would you return Lisa’s book to her, please?

Wednesday’s child is full of woe.



Remember to use apostrophes when you’re making plural posessives, too:

The children’s room was a disaster after the sleep-over party.

Ties are located in the men’s department, which is to the right of the escalator.

The ladies’ locker room is closed for renovations and will reopen next Tuesday.



Use apostrophes to stand for the missing letters in a contraction:

You can drink that outdated milk, but you’ll be sorry later.

She’s going to the party, but he’s decided to stay home and watch the game.

I would’ve if I could’ve, but I couldn’t so I didn’t.



Please – don’t EVER use apostrophes for plurals, EVER!






Filed under Grammar