Thinking about Bill HD: Friendship Memories, Momento Mori

My friend Bill Hart Davidson died suddenly on April 23, 2024 of a heart attack while on a run after work. He was 53. Here’s a link to the obituary.

Annette and I (along with Steve Benninghoff– unfortunately, his wife was out of town) went up to The Compound for a dinner party the Saturday before. We’ve gotten together like this many times for the last 20 years, and often, there is some kind of activity or game. This time, Bill and Leslie asked us all to put together powerpoint presentations that are funny, interesting, and/or entertaining. Mine was about our new house. It was pretty lame because I was too busy trying to finish the grading for the winter semester. Annette, similarly busy but with her book, did a presentation about why The Big Lebowski is a perfect movie (totally agree). Benninghoff talked about some genealogy research he’s been doing about his family and some lost history going back to the Civil War, a presentation that ended with a sampling of scotch. Leslie and Bill were much more prepared. Leslie had a great talk about Betty Crocker (I think she’s doing some research for another cookbook sort of project), and Bill’s bit, complete with his bass for demonstration purposes, was about the similarities and differences between beat and rhythm. He won the prize for “most likely to do a TED talk.”

A good time was had by one and all, we talked about how Annette and I will have to host the next one of these get-togethers this summer once we move into our new place, and we all went home. Then we get a call from Benninghoff Monday night; he had gotten a call from Leslie that Bill had collapsed while on a run, and he was pronounced dead the next day.

It’s a lot to process, and so this is definitely very rambling and more personal I suppose than most of what I post here, and ultimately less about Bill than it is about memory and death and friendship. FWIW.

Continue reading “Thinking about Bill HD: Friendship Memories, Momento Mori”

2021 was, I don’t know, what?

I mean, what just happened? Was it better than 2020? Worse? Absolutely no different to the point where we might as well group 2020 and 2021 into one Covid memory?

Hard to say.

I was feeling hopeful and optimistic around New Year’s and with last year’s wrap up/reflection post because a vaccine was on the way. Biden won and Trump lost. Then there was January 6, which at the time seemed like a dangerous bunch of idiots and confused Qanon supporters, but as the year went on and Congress and the media investigated, the insurrection seems to have been a lot more than that. 100 years from now, will people remember this time for this kind of nonsense and Trump or the plague of Covid? Both? Neither?

In late January/early February, my former EMU colleague and friend Clayton Eshleman died– I blogged about it here. He was 85, had been in ill-health, and I hadn’t been getting together with him for lunch for a while. It was still sad to see him go.

But things started getting better in March. Biden was still popular, Covid numbers were down, vaccines were starting roll out. We took a few days to go down to Hocking Hills in Ohio and hung out at a cool airbnb and hiked around a very icy Old Man’s Cave with our friend Michelle.  And then the light at the end of the tunnel: on March 17, Annette and I both got our first doses of the vaccine (Pfizer, it turned out). It was not easy to do. I searched for appointments for us for about a week and finally found a couple at a pharmacy in Coldwater, which is a little town in the very red south central part of Michigan about 90 miles away. I swear every other person there to get the shot was also from around Ann Arbor. We followed that up with shot number 2 in early April, and back then, Annette and I thought of ourselves as “cured” or at least now able to get back to our lives.

We started going back to the gym again (which is still requiring masks), and after the winter semester wrapped up, we were rarin’ to go. I took a long weekend roadtrip out to Iowa to see my parents who I hadn’t seen in person since Christmas 2019. We went to fucking Las Vegas in May— and saying that now after everything that’s happened with Covid since then seems absolutely crazy, but back then, we thought the vaccine would protect us from everything and we were just getting a bit of a head start on what was going to be a great summer.

Then, summer. I’m not going to go into it and it wasn’t all Covid, but stuff got dark. But it did get better. We returned to the same cottage we had near Glen Arbor in 2020, ate some fancy food, saw some nature, hung around the cottage in lovely weather. Before and after that, there was golf for me and kayaking for Annette, and before too long, another semester at EMU. And then August came and after a family trip to see folks in Iowa, it was time for another school year.

As I wrote about here, my mindset coming into this school year was different (and perhaps not great) because of a lot of the unpleasantness in the previous term and because EMU had a buyout offer which I could have taken. It was the first time in my career where I really thought about retirement– not that seriously because there’s no way I could afford it, but not completely unseriously either. After all, I did have at least one colleague younger than me who took this deal (and good riddance to that person as well), and a friend just a bit younger than me left his job for good too. Maybe it’s all connected to the great resignation, I don’t know.

You’d think after the 2020-21 school year that things would have been better in fall 2021– at least students would be used to the online format of most classes by now. But in a lot of ways, it was quite a bit worse. Some of that is what I’d describe as “the luck of the draw” in terms of the individual students I had, though most of it was just everything that was lingering on, including higher Covid numbers in Michigan than we’d seen before (and we’re climbing again with Omicron too). Everyone was tired and defeated and at least a little (and sometimes a lot) depressed. So it was rough. I certainly didn’t do my best work, and a lot of my students crashed and burned all the way to the end.

And yet at the same time, it also got better. I have been reading about Covid every single day for almost 18 months now, and the reality of the situation as far as I can tell– even now with the Omicron variant and the breakthrough infections it has been causing– is serious illness and death from Covid 19 is almost exclusively limited to the unvaccinated and to people with serious pre-existing conditions. So at some point this past fall, I decided that the worry and anxiety about Covid (not to mention not doing anything in public for fear of the virus) caused by all the preventive measures was worse than the possibility of getting the disease. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t want to get Covid, I always wear a mask in stores or whatever, and I’m still not fully back to doing everything I did in the before-times. I don’t hang around in coffee shops much anymore, for example. But Annette and I got boosted as soon as we could, and with some reasonable precautions, I think we both felt ready to do more things.

So we had friends over around the fire pit, we went back up north to stay at a fancy bed and breakfast, we had a great Halloween. We had the Krause version of Thanksgiving/Christmas in Kansas City, and then the Wannamaker version of Christmas in Naples. And now here we are, at the end of 2021, whatever that was. I have a lot of friends and colleagues who think that all of those outings and roadtrips and airplanes and airports and getting together with folks is just flat-out dangerous. Wait more until it’s safe. But I don’t think covid is ever going to ever completely end, and we’re going to have to start to learn how to live with it.

Last year, I was feeling optimistic because of Biden, the vaccine, and what people were predicting was the beginning of the end of Covid. This year, I’m not going predict much of anything for 2022. Annette is going to be presenting at the MLA convention in Washington, D.C. next week and I’m going along as a tourist. As of today, the conference is still on, I think mainly because it was too late for the organization to cancel (though I don’t rule out some kind last minute change). I was looking forward to a f2f CCCCs in Chicago in March, but that’s been all moved online. I understand that decision, but based on what I read and hear about Omicron, there’s a very real chance that Covid will be a lot more under control by then. Who knows?

There’s only one thing I know about 2022 right now: Annette and I are both are on research fellowships, which means we’ll get a break from teaching until September so we can focus on our scholarship. I’ll be spending my time away from teaching working on the interview and then writing part of the project I started last year, along with other writing, reading, and other stuff away from the office. Crossing my fingers.

My own two body experiences from both sides of the search committee table

Kelly J. Baker has a two article series at Vitae on the “two-body problem”– that is, academic couples. Part one is here; part two is here. I think it’s smart stuff, and while I don’t agree with everything she says, I feel like I can relate both as half of an academic couple and as someone who has been on hiring committees trying to figure out the coupled status of applicants. Though my own two-body experiences have been a bit different.

Continue reading “My own two body experiences from both sides of the search committee table”

Thoughts On Cruising

And by cruising, I do not mean an illicit sexual activity, nor do I mean the sort of thing that high school kids used to do in their cars up and down University Avenue in Cedar Falls when I was a teenager. Rather, I mean cruising as in aboard a ship at sea– specifically, a cruise aboard the Norwegian Cruise Line Getaway.

Here is a link to a set of pictures on Flickr.

This cruise was a gift to Annette and me (and Will, too) from Annette’s parents, Bill and Irmgard, to celebrate our 20th anniversary and their 50th. It was a generous and thoughtful gift, though I have to say that taking a cruise wasn’t exactly on my list of things I needed to do before I died. I’m glad I had the experience; it just never occurred to me as something I would ever do.

Continue reading “Thoughts On Cruising”

On Harry Potter-land

A picture of Annette taking a pictueLet me first begin with a couple of disclaimers and/or other contextualizing moves regarding my relationship to the whole Harry Potter thing and also to theme parks generally. I like Harry Potter just fine.  I read the first three books, enjoyed them– thoroughly enjoyed the third one– but then I got bogged down in the fourth book and just stuck to the movies after that, some of which make more sense to me than others.  As for theme parks:  it’s complicated, but while I am okay with your typical shopping, shows, and some theme park rides (including motion-oriented ones), I do not enjoy roller coasters one little bit and would generally prefer to do something else.

On the other hand, I am married to a woman who developed a very popular course at EMU on Harry Potter, who has done scholarship on it, and who was even quoted in an eOnline story about the series. And while our son Will hasn’t gotten around to reading them yet, he too is a big ol’ fan of them, having had the books read to him by Annette when he was much younger.  And she is also a fan of roller coasters and he is trying to be more of a fan of them.  So given this, it was just a matter of time before we were going to be visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Orlando on a holiday trip to the in-laws.

Here’s a link to the flickr set of pictures of the trip, most of which was to Harry Potter-land.  A few scattered thoughts about it all:

  • This is one of the “lands” in the large Universal Studios complex of “lands” that included The Simpsons-oriented “Krustyland” (fun ride, btw), a sort of Americana-land, New York-land, Hollywood-land, Marvel comics-land featuring the also fun Spiderman ride and the “no way I’m getting on that thing” Incredible Hulk roller coaster, etc.  So a lot to offer, but it was very clear where everyone was going.  We arrived at the park by 8:30 am and the line for the big HP ride was already 135 minutes long.  So we decided to take in the other things first– Jurassic Park-land, for example.  It was all a ghost town compared to Potterville.  And the rest of Universal was fun and all, but not worth it without Harry Potter.  I have to wonder why a) Warner Brothers didn’t build their own HP-themed park, and b) why Disney didn’t try to get in on that action.
  • In summary, the “Wizarding World” is a very convincing set of the town of Hogsmeade with Zonko’s and Honeydukes (“jokes” and candy, all one big store), the cafeteria-style “inn” of The Three Broomsticks, the wand shop (too much of a mob scene to even contemplate going into), a small and a large roller coaster (Will and Annette rode the smaller one), and the big enchilada, “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey,” aka the Hogwarts ride, aka the castle.  Honestly, if it weren’t for all the damn tourists and palm trees in the distance, you’d think they’d done some of the filming there.
  • Like I said, I like Harry Potter things (and I might get back to the other books after this), but I’m not a fanatic. But I have to say one the coolest things about this place was seeing the hardcore fans interacting with it all. There were a number of kids in Hogwarts robes, for example.
  • Among the many features catering specifically to the HP fan was “butter beer,” which was available “regular” or “frozen” (like margaritas) and which sort of tasted like a super-sweet cream soda with hints of butterscotch.  They also had real beer and pretty decent food– actually, I was surprised all-around at the less than crappy food, though maybe my expectations had been pretty low.
  • As for the big ride itself:  first off, the wait was not nearly as long as advertised out front– more like an hour or 75 minutes rather than two.  Without giving anything away, it is essentially a “motion ride” with some real motion thrown in.  You’re strapped into these seats that move around in many different tilting directions to give you real motion and you watch simulated motion being projected around you. For me after the ride, there was very much a sense of “I don’t really know how they did that.”  It’s pretty intense, but not roller coaster unpleasant, and I enjoyed it, though I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn’t been worried that my keys had fallen out of my pockets during one of the many twists and turns.
  • In a way, the wait wasn’t long enough because they take you through a series of rooms in the “castle” that show lots of very cool Harry Potter geeky things and I kind of felt like we were being rushed by them in the name of getting on the damn ride.  Oh, and it empties out into what is one of the most claustrophobic gift shops I’ve ever been in, albeit one that sells lots of neat HP geekware.
  • So definitely thumbs up.  If I were to do this again (and if they make expansions to the attraction, I assume there will be a next time), I’d do it all in one day instead of two, and I’d do whatever I could to not go right after Christmas, the busiest week of the year for these places.  The crowd got pretty intense a couple of times, but I suppose this is going to stay pretty popular and crowded for years to come.


Dear Ticketmaster et al

Dear Ticketmaster, Tony Bennett, and Deathcab for Cutie;

I’m writing about a concert my wife Annette and I attended on August 24 at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, a show that was supposed to have featured the band Deathcab for Cutie as the opening act for Tony Bennett.  Why didn’t DfC appear, and don’t you think you owe me at least an explanation, if not some of my money?

Don’t get me wrong:  Tony Bennett was great, as I’ll get to in a moment, but one of the the delicious appeals of this show was that pairing of an indy band that’s made it big with the man who is perhaps the last of the great “old standards” singers, unless you count Harry Conick Jr. and Michael Buble and so on, and I do not count these people.  Imagine the possibility of Tony coming out to sing duet on “I Will Follow You Into the Dark,” or Deathcab backing Tony on “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.”  And imagine the crowd!  Finally a show that teens and hipsters might be able to attend with their grandparents!

Alas, that was not to be, and I guess we started to see the signs of what was wrong by lack– a lack of reference anywhere to Deathcab, a lack of merch (and you would think that Tony Bennett would at least be selling some CDs if not t-shirts), and a complete lack of anyone who looks like they had heard of the would-be opener.  Somehow, we were the last people who didn’t get the news that the bill had changed– or maybe it was never actually meant to be that way, and it was some sort of odd snafu in the Ticketmaster systems.

In any event, the show started oddly on time and early with Antonia “so-so singer who happens to be Tony’s daughter” Bennett followed immediately– and I mean “immediately,” as in the same band playing and no break between sets whatsoever– Tony was on the stage, giving his daughter a kiss on the cheek, and getting a standing O just for appearing. Which was great, don’t get me wrong, but again, where were Deathcab for Cutie?

Bennett immediately launched into song after song after song, told a few stories he had obviously told many times before (how Bob Hope was the one who came up with “Tony Bennett,” for example), did a little dancing hear and there, and continually and masterfully worked the crowd over like a warm handful of play-dough.  At one point, Annette said to me “there’s no way he’s 85,” and I looked it up again on my phone on Wikipedia, and damn it anyway, he really is 85.  Eighty-five freakin’ years old and still doing somewhere around 200 shows a year and bringing down the house with a version of “Fly Me to the Moon” he sang in the enormous Fox with no microphone to show off both the acoustics and his voice.

Again, it was a great night all-around.  Annette and I had a lovely dinner at the meat-intense Roast restaurant, had no problems walking around the mostly empty mid-week/early-evening downtown Detroit streets, and hey, how many more chances are we likely to have to see Deathcab for Cutie coming somewhere near a college town like Ann Arbor versus Tony “did I mention he’s 85?” Bennett.  So, okay, I don’t need any money back.

But still, what happened to the opener?  If you could just give us an answer to that, I’d appreciate it.  Thanks,



Professors, time management, and summering

There’s some trouble brewing in Texas about how faculty are spending their time in their cushy jobs, as this Chronicle of Higher Education piece explains, “Efforts to Measure Faculty Workload Don’t Add Up.”  It’s behind the firewall, but basically, it rehashes a lot of the problems that have been around for years about measuring faculty work time.  This discussion is also covered a bit in “Texas Coalitions Spar Over Scholars’ Time, Research, Pay.” And basically, critics of the Texas system are saying that faculty don’t teach enough, don’t work with enough students, don’t work enough in general, etc.

People who don’t really know what the job is about tend to think that a professor who teaches three classes a term basically works about 15 hours a week:  those classes plus office hours, and that’s about it.  The problem is that the people who don’t now better also tend to be the people who ultimately control budgets:  regents, legislators, voters, etc.  Professors, of course, dispute this, arguing that no-no-no, they work more like 100 hours a week because working as a professor is much MUCH more than teaching classes.  A lot of this is reflected in the “What I Do With My Time: Pamela S. Gossin,” which is a diary of her work in the course of a week at the University of Texas at Dallas.

I’m not going to go into great detail explaining why this notion of “lazy professors” is wrong because a) if you are reading my blog on a regular basis, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve read that here before, b) there are a lot of other places to read about this in more thoughtful ways, and c) anything I say here as a professor will sound defensive anyway.  I have a “reverse ethos” problem.  I’ll just note that for the most part, I agree with the defenses that professor-types make about the amount of work they do, and, whenever I contemplate it, I am always surprised how much of my work really has nothing to do with teaching and even scholarship.  There’s a lot of paperwork shuffling and meetings and such in this job.

I think one of the biggest problems professors have is that we have a lot more in common with people who work out of their homes and/or who are “telecommuters” than people who work in normal white collar settings, even though we’re most visible to people when we are actually teaching and/or on campus.  This is different from K-12 teachers (who are generally at the school all day long, even when they aren’t teaching), and this does vary from university to university and even among faculty in my department.  I once applied for a job at a university where the administrator-type interviewing me said he expected all faculty to be on campus five days a week, and at least one of my colleagues actually uses his school office to work.  And with my department moving back into a newly remodeled building this fall, maybe working in the office will become an increasing trend.

The idea that most professors work outside of their classrooms, labs, and dingy university offices doesn’t register with the popular imagination and/or “as seen on TV” image of professors, and it is also out of sync with most student interactions with professors.  I will run into students in the “real world” once in a while, and it is always a little odd– particularly with undergraduates– when they spot me in a restaurant or on the street or wait on my in Target while I’m buying toilet paper.  It clearly doesn’t fit their assumptions about me (“I thought he only existed on campus”).

The other problem that lots of professors have– myself and Pamela Gossin included– is time management and/or the leaky borders between “work” and “life.”  Here’s a passage from Gossin’s diary:

7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Answered e-mail and coordinated summer research project, a digital-humanities project. Prepared for a forthcoming conference and read reports on a Texas bill that would allow concealed handguns on state-college campuses. Also read new information about the university’s retirement plan.

9 p.m. to 10 p.m. Watched a television special about John Muir for her class in nature writing: “I needed to watch it so I would know if their extra credit was valid.”

10 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Sent e-mails and did more preparation for summer research. Made contact with a research assistant she hoped to hire.

Now, I totally relate, understand, and resemble this work schedule.  But part of the problem that I have (maybe Gossin has this problem too, maybe other academics out there can relate) is I am not good at limiting my email usage.  Not. At. All.  And every efficiency/productivity guide out there will tell you that if you want to get things done, you need to ration/limit the time spent on email.  As with most efficiency advice, this is perhaps a good intention rather than something that can realistically be put into practice, but still.

This diary also demonstrates the fuzzy definition of “work” in academia.  I get what Gossin is saying here about watching that John Muir show:  it is work, but my guess is that she might have watched it anyway.  There’s lots of reading, web surfing, writing (is this entry work?  maybe?) I do that is in that in-between space, which is not surprising because I like what I do.  But generally, people (especially Texas bean counters who want professors to account for all their time) define “work” as “something you would otherwise not be doing if it wasn’t for the job and/or the money.”  So I would bet that if some Texas efficiency wonk sat down with Gossin and looked at that entry about watching the show on John Muir, that wonk would say “that ain’t work.”  And that wonk would be kind of right, kind of wrong.

And then there is summer.  My extended family– who are all college graduates but who are also not academics– have learned by now that the best way to get an earful from either me or Annette is to say something about how it must be great to have so much “summer vacation.”   That’s not vacation, buster– that’s time for the work! the writing, the scholarship, the research, the clawing and fighting to get tenure and then promotion and then beyond– work work work work!

Well, I have a confession to make.  It really ain’t all that bad.

Oh sure, it is true for many academics that the space between winter and fall is time to write and research, and I have a couple of scholarly projects on the back of the stove right now.  While it is technically possible for faculty at EMU to completely check out (we’re on an 8 month contract here, more or less) for the entire spring and summer terms, realistically, there are still meetings, students to advise, paperwork to be done, etc.  And then there’s spring/summer teaching.  We can’t really afford to not teach at least one of the 7.5 week terms (the pay is essentially overtime), so that’s obviously work.

But even with all of that, I can’t really complain.  We’ll be doing some traveling soon, I finished today (while procrastinating and writing this post) my painting work on the back part of the house, I play a little golf, etc.  There is time off, and in a few years– when Will is through Greenhills and onto college (it’ll be sooner than we think)– I am sure that Annette and I will take advantage of all four of those months.

Though oddly, I get antsy for work.  I’ll probably spending some time planning one of my classes for the fall after I post this….

Late spring gardening and out-of-doors around the house

June15-2The end of the spring term is tantalizingly close, just a few days away.  So very very close, almost done, almost done.  I should be grading right now, but I’m almost done, almost….  I’m not quite sure what it is about this term for me, but teaching has been even more this short (7.5 weeks) spring semester than usual.  But almost, almost…..

Anyway, while I should be grading right now (and I will be grading a batch of things for English 444 tomorrow no matter what because I have to get ready for the next waves for both 444 and English 121 on Monday and Tuesday), circumstances got in the way today, including some gardening and “running” with Will, and now we’re off to a function in about an hour.  So I thought I’d post some pictures and such about my garden and yard instead.

Here’s the flickr set.

It has been unusually cold and web this spring, so stuff has gotten in late and hasn’t really taken off yet, so there’s a lot of doubt about tomatoes and basil and the like.  At one point, I had planned on planting an even bigger squarefoot garden in this season up on the frontyard, which is the only spot that gets enough sun to really grow vegetables.  Even though my mother think that its tacky to grow produce in one’s front yard, it does happen around here quite a bit.  Still, it would have been a lot of effort and I’m glad I didn’t do it.  Maybe next year.

Oh, I’ve also included a few pictures of the robins next door.  This is in my neighbor’s tree, but it was probably closer to our house than to theirs, and the way that our windows look out by our fireplace made for fine nest viewing.  Here’s a link to the feeding action.  And that was just a few days ago– they’re all gone now.  Those kids do leave the nest before you even realize it.

#cccc11 recap

This is kind of scattered because I started it over a cup of coffee Monday morning and finished it Wednesday morning before meeting meeting meeting/grading grading grading.  I’m super DUPER busy with wrapping up the winter term.  The last day of classes was yesterday, and I’ve got at least four stacks of things I need to/want to assign grades to by the end of the day a week ago.  I know.

But before I get to more detail than you want to know, I thought I’d make four general comments:

  • Partly in response to Derek and Alex and Kyle and I am sure others:  I’m not particularly grumpy about the quality (or not) of the panels or anything else at this year’s conference.  Yeah, the hotel was too expensive, but that’s why I didn’t stay at the conference hotel.  Yeah, there was no decent wifi and I think that should indeed be addressed, but most major conference hotels have the same problem and I always plan ahead and assume I won’t have decent wifi anyway.  Yeah, I kept running into the same people, but I kind of like that and I always have the odd experience of running into the same people at a particular year of the CCCC and not others– for example, last year I ran into Brian McNely everywhere, but this year, I didn’t see him once.  Etc., etc. I think I preferred the Louisville location to Atlanta for a variety of reasons (though I had a lot of fun in Georgia), but Atlanta was a lot more reasonably priced than New York or San Francisco.  And I don’t want to be too critical because….
  • … I don’t want to get involved.  While I do have some complaints about how the CCCC and the NCTE do business in all sorts of ways (its conferences and a lack of willingness to offer alternative formatted presentations like poster sessions, its publications and its confusion about the paperless publishing world, its view of what an organization is and how it ought to fund itself, its dumb as a bag of rocks view of anything resembling the internets, etc., etc.), I feel like I more or less give up my right to complain too loudly when I am unwilling to do anything about it by getting involved in the organizations’ governance.  I’m not willing to run for the Executive Committee of the CCCC or anything else involving the NCTE.  I thought about it at one point, but it just isn’t the sort of administrative/service work that interests me– at least not now.  So if I’m not willing to pitch and and “make a difference,” so to speak, then I can’t complain too much about the people who are willing to do that.
  • I don’t know if the conference has changed that much or not, but I know I’ve changed.  The first CCCC I went to was (I think?) in 1995, and I attended and presented at the conference pretty consistently through about 2005 or so.  When I was a graduate student and first starting my career down the tenure-track, listening to what people had to say at the CCCC was part of my education and presenting at the conference was real scholarship.  But this year wasn’t my first rodeo, and I’m all tenured/promoted -out.  I still learn some things from panels; but mostly, it’s variations on things I’ve heard before, simply by virtue of the fact that I’ve been around long enough to have heard a lot of stuff before.  I still propose to the CCCC so I can get on the program (and thus some funding for the trip), but I need another CCCC presentation on my CV like another hole in the head.  So sure, the conference isn’t as “new” and as “exciting” as it once was; but neither am I.
  • Having said that, I do think there’s more that the CCCC could do to reorganize itself (more like– dare I say it?– MLA by having subject areas organize panels instead of assuming that we’re all there to talk about freshman comp in some variety; have a wider variety of presentation-types; have published proceedings; etc.); and, in an era in which I can communicate with like-minded scholars all over the world via email and the blogosphere and I can publish a media-rich version of my presentation for free, I think the fundamental purpose of the “academic conference” has to be questioned.  Why do we spend the time and resources to do this anymore?  The answer to me is not panels; it’s being in meet/meat -space with other scholars in the field.

The biggest thing I get out of the CCCC at this point is the incidental contact.  So, along with the actual and direct activities, here’s more or less the order of things as I remember it:

Continue reading “#cccc11 recap”

While Buttoning Down for the Groundhog Day Snowopoloza

Three snowy thoughts:

  • Extreme snow edition #1: circa 1982/3/4, the middle of Iowa:  the worst snow event I can recall happening to me was somewhere in high school.  I recall being a part of a high school debate/speech team event where I ended up being stranded for at least a couple of nights with classmates and chaperons in some ridiculously small Iowa town and equally ridiculous small town motel.  I remember it was about 8 people to a room, we could only eat at the deli counter at Hy-Vee for some reason, and the David Lynch movie The Elephant Man was on repeatedly on HBO or some such thing.
  • Any number of snowy memories/tortures blur together.  There were many other storms in Iowa, including a drive back to the University of Iowa from Cedar Falls on quasi-closed interstates with a classmate who I can’t remember:  I do recall coming back the Sunday after Thanksgiving only to find the university closed on that Monday.  I remember several times in Richmond, VA, where the (comparably modest) snow and/or ice and/or snow ended any sort of normal interaction in the city.  There was a terrible storm in Bowling Green that included -20 degree weather,  snow like crazy, canceled classes, etc.  I am sure there were other such experiences I’m forgetting.
  • And now we have this latest event, which is easily the most hyped snow event in recent memory.  I’m writing/thinking about this post long before this turns truly ugly, but I have to wonder if it’s possible for any weather event to live up to these expectations.  I suppose tomorrow morning will tell.