If 2020 was horrible and 2021 was, I don’t know, what?, then I think the best description of 2022 was “shows improvement.”
My first prediction of what was to come in 2022 (I made in that last post of 2021) turned out to be wrong: we did not go to the MLA convention in Washington, D.C. because Covid numbers (oh hi, Omicron!) were through the roof. MLA’s approach to dealing with Covid was remarkably reasonable. As I understand it (from what my wife said since she was the one participating), the conference organizers told folks if they still wanted to present f2f they could (because it was too late for MLA to cancel the whole thing), but if people wanted to present electronically and via synchronous conferencing software, then they could do that instead. All the panel chairs/organizers had to do was give the MLA a link to how they were going to do it. In my opinion, that was a smart way to schedule and adjust a conference during Covid: let presenters figure out their own synchronous conferencing software instead of putting all the presentations and materials in a junky content management system behind a firewall. I wish my field’s conferences had taken this approach. Anyway, Annette did her presentation via Zoom with a typical conference audience; D.C. would have to come later.
January was the start of Annette’s and my own faculty research fellowships, and for me, that meant doing a whole lot of interviews of folks who had earlier participated in my “Online Teaching and the ‘New Normal'” survey, which is about the experiences of teaching online during Covid. I ended up doing around 37 or so of these interviews, and I’m still trying to figure out how I’m going to analyze the pile of transcripts I’ve got. The sun rose and I took a picture. Travel included Annette going on a trip with friends to Puerto Rico and about at the same time, I went down to Orange Beach, Alabama where I met up with my parents and my sisters to celebrate my father’s 80th birthday. Movies included the kind of forgettable Midnight Alley and the rest of The Beatles documentary Get Back!
February was work stuff– interviews and also some other writing, but also working off and on on my CCCCs presentation. I had been very much looking forward to going to the f2f conference in Chicago in March 2022, but that was (prematurely and wrongly, IMO) cancelled. I continued to make bread. Did more interviews. Saw (among many other things) Licorice Pizza and The Big Lebowski for about the 90th time.
March was the CCCs Online, which was, um, unpleasant. I think this post from Mike Edwards (where he does quote me, actually) sums up things fairly well. Here’s also a link to my first and second posts about the conference. I won’t be attending this year because (for like the fifth time in a row) the theme for the conference has nothing to do with the kind of research and scholarship I do. But that’s okay. Maybe I’ll go again someday, maybe I won’t.
March also took us on the road to the Charleston, South Carolina area to do something that got us out of the too cold for at least a while. We stopped in Charleston, West Virginia on the way (gross) and then spent a night in Durham, North Carolina to catch up with Rachel and Collin and a lovely meal out at a French restaurant they like. Then we spent a week at a condo on Seabrook Island. It was a pretty good get-away: we got some work done (we both did a lot of reading and writing things), went into Charleston a couple times (meh, it was nice I guess), went on a cool plantation tour, I attended (via Zoom) a department meeting while walking on the beach one nice day, and we did have some good food here and there too. It was all nice enough and I don’t rule out going again, but it wasn’t quite our thing, I don’t think. I started working on this Computers and Composition Online article based on my online teaching survey (more on that later too). Among other things, watched Painting With John on HBO, another season of Survivor, rewatched The French Dispatch.
April and more interviewing, more working on the CCO piece, and starting to work on the Computers and Writing Conference session. I was originally going to go to that (it was in Greenville, NC), but life/home plans got in the way. So once again I was online, and also once again, it was “on demand,” which is to say that I also ended up presenting to the online equivalent of an empty room– not the first time I’ve done that, but still, a group like computers and writing should do better. I posted my “talk” here. I’m afraid I will probably not be able to be there face to face for the 2023 CWCON at UC-Irvine; that trip is still TBA, though those organizers seem more committed to hosting a viable online experience. In April, I saw probably the best movie I’ve seen this year, Everything Everywhere All At Once, and listened to (or started listening to) a book by Johann Hari called Stolen Focus which I’m going to assign in WRTG 121 this coming winter term. Started doing yard stuff, Annette got a kayak, I baked still more bread. Oh, also saw a movie called Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway that was bonkers.
May and more interviewing, more working o the CCO piece, the CWCON 22 happened (I wasn’t as involved as much as I should have been, but I did poke around at some other “on demand” materials that were interesting), started planting stuff in the garden, started golfing some, ate a fair amount of asparagus, etc. And then at the end of the month, we went up north to stay at a fantastic house on Big Glen Lake. We were planning on going back there in 2023, but after a series of events I don’t understand (was the house sold? is there a problem with the rental company? something else?), we’re staying someplace different. Stay tuned for early June 2023. Among other things, we watched Gog.
By June, I started having some “interesting” discussions with the editors of the CCO about my article. Let’s just say that the reviewer involved in the process was “problematic” and leave it at that. Eventually, I think the editors were able to give me some good direction that helped me make this into a good piece (IMO), but it wasn’t easy. More interviews, but that was the last of them. There was more gardening, more going out for lunch while Will was visiting, more of “the work,” seeing movies, etc.
July was a lot of travel. We went to D.C.– I suppose because the trip in January was scrubbed– and then to New Haven to see Will, then to New York City via train for a couple of nights (saw our friend Annette, a kind of off-Broadway production of Little Shop of Horrors, and went walking on the high line park and to the Whitney museum), then to Portland, Maine (only for a night– I’d go back for sure), and then to Bar Harbor and Arcadia National Park. It was a really lovely trip. I think I am more fond of the grand “road trip” than Annette is, but she played along. After the cruise (see below), I believe I have two states left on my “having at least passed through” list: Rhode Island (which I figure we can tick off the next time we go out to visit Will) and North Dakota, which might require a more purposeful trip. Among other things this month, watched at least one Vincent Price movie.
August was more travel– and getting ready to teach too. We went to Iowa to celebrate my mother’s 80th birthday party, and then (of all things!) we went on a cruise to Alaska. Among the lessons learned from that trip are if you are going to take a cruise for Alaska, you need to go for longer than just the 5 nights we went. Highlights include actually touching ground in Ketchikan, Alaska (briefly) and a stop in the delightful town of Victoria, British Columbia. Then back here and getting ready for teaching again– for the first time in eight months.
September and EMU started up again– at least for about a week. Then the faculty went on strike, which was the first time that’d happened around here since 2006. I blogged about some of this back here. It was interesting being one of the old hands around here this time around. I got here in 1998, and by 2006, I think we had been on strike or close to it twice before, and the 2006 strike was “the big one.” So 16 years between strikes was a long time. It was disruptive and chaotic and frustrating, but also necessary and probably the most justifiable strike I’ve experienced, and we did end up getting a better deal than we would have otherwise. Oh, and I need to note this here (since I will someday look back at this post and go “oh yeah, that’s right!”): One of the things that really seemed to make the administration want to settle things up is that Michael Tew, who was a vice provost and one of the four or five people who run stuff at EMU, was busted for masturbating while he was driving around naked in Dearborn with all of the doors and the roof off of his Jeep. Classy. Anyway, there was teaching on either side of the few days we had off on striking, and it was kind of a rough start of the term for me. I have said and written this elsewhere: it was like getting back on a bike after having not ridden one in a long time in that I remembered how to do it, but I wasn’t quite sure how to go too fast or to turn too quickly or whatever. My students in my f2f class (first year writing) seemed to feel mostly the same way. Among other things, we watched Shakes the Clown.
A word about Covid here: by the end of the first month or so of the semester, and after a summer of travel that included a LOT of potentially infectious places like crowded museums, restaurants, planes, trains, and a cruise ship, and I still haven’t had Covid– or if I have had it, I never knew it (and that’s perhaps most likely). I’m not saying it is “over” or it’s nothing at all to worry about, and I’m fully vaxxed up (and I got a flu shot too). But for the most part, it feels like Covid is mostly over.
October was more work stuff with a trip up north in the middle of the month. It was both nice and not: “nice” because it’s always good to get-away, we caught up with friends who live up there, saw some pretty leaves, had a Chubby Mary, etc., but “not” because the hot tub at the place we rented didn’t work (and look, that was the point of renting that place) and it was cold and rainy and even snowy. And as is so often the case in Michigan, it was stunningly beautiful weather for like 10 days after our trip, both up there and down here. Also in a note of not being over with Covid but just not worrying about it a lot anymore: Halloween was back to full-on trick or treating– no delivery tubes, for example.
November started off with politics, and that turned out great in Michigan, pretty okay everywhere else. Yeah, the Republicans didn’t do as well as they should have, but they still control the House– well, they have more votes. I don’t think there’s going to be a lot of “control” in the next year or so. Lots of teaching stuff and work stuff, some pie making, and then to Iowa for the Krause Thanksgiving-Christmas get-together.
December and things got a little more interesting around here. I blogged some about ChatGPT and having my students in a class use GPT-3 for an assignment. That post got a lot of hits. If I wasn’t already kind of committed to working on the transcripts of the interviews of people teaching online during Covid, I might very well spend some time and effort on researching this stuff. It’s quite interesting, and given the completely unnecessary and goofy level of freak-out I’ve seen on social media about, it’s also necessary work. Oh, and that Computers and Composition Online article finally came out. I’ll have to read some of the other articles in this issue, too. Then the semester was over and it was time for a trip to the in-laws, who moved into a smaller place. So new adventures for them, and for us too: we stayed at a pretty nice airbnb, actually rented a car, explored new restaurants and dressy dining rooms. And still a fair amount of damage from Ian.
Well, that’s it– at least the stuff I’m willing to write down here.