31 May 2007

Burst Culture (and ed implications)

Wil Wheaton's blog sent me to Warren Ellis' blog and an entry about burst culture.

My favorite line: "Bursts aren’t contentless, nor do they denote the end of Attention Span. If attention span was dead, JK Rowling wouldn’t be selling paperbacks thick enough to choke a pig, and Neal Stephenson wouldn’t be making a living off books the size of the first bedsit I lived in."

Funny guy, Ellis.

The point is web media is of a different type than print media. They have different purposes, different forms. They can coexist just fine because they do different things. Trying to make one into the other won't work.

If Ellis is right, then what does this mean for on-line education and technology integration into education in general?

30 May 2007

Overcoming the little things

I am glad that I don't have to punch a clock; I am grateful I don't have one of those jobs that, if you are fifteen minutes late you get "written up." (I am looking at you, Barnes and Noble).

I left the house in plenty of time this morning to get to work and get going by 8:30. That's a feat in itself with Eleanor, since Sarah and I are still working on our morning division of labor. I just had one thing to do before I came to the office. I needed to deposit a check at the ATM. I stopped by the downtown Wachovia, which is on my way. It was closed for service. No problem, because there is another ATM just up the street from my office. The way across Main Street was blocked by a train, so I went the other way and turned up Oakland Ave, which was also blocked by a train -- a different train! I could see the end of this one, so I thought I would just wait it out. But the last car of the train stopped in the middle of the intersection, blocking the road. I joined the U-turn exodus of cars, hooked around to Charlotte Ave, then went to the bank near the office. Now I am here, after parking across campus again to get in a little walk.

I'd like to think my often sour demeanor is improving, because not so long ago a morning of roadblocks like this would have put me in a bad mood for the whole day. Not now. Now, it's 9:10 AM, I am at work, have a big pile of stuff to work on, have a wonderful daughter and wife at home, and generally am looking forward to the day.

29 May 2007

Bye to Family

I just got back to the office after dropping off Sarah's sister Jen, her husband Robert, and their 8 month old daughter Mikayla at the airport. They flew in on Saturday and spent a long weekend with us. It was a completely baby-centric weekend; we only ate out twice (and once was today on the way to the airport) and stayed home the vast majority of the time. There was a time when I would have been bored out of my skull at staying at home pretty much all the time for three days straight, but that was pre-Eleanor. She's a lot of work and that work is easier to do at home. She needs her routine and that routine is easier to keep at home. But mostly she's just so entertaining in her own right (and doubly so if you include Mikayla) that staying at home is just fine by me.

I don't think I'm turing into one of those people who has kids and then retreats into their homes, never to be seen again. One of the things I am looking forward to the most is taking our children places -- Disney, national parks, museums. But that will come later. For now, home seems good.

27 May 2007

Music Eleanor Likes (pt 1)

Music Eleanor Likes = Music that calms her down when she's fussy or crying
Music Eleanor is Indifferet To = Music that has no effect of her fussiness
Music Eleanor Hates = Music that makes her cry

So far, the list looks like:

Likes: Journey, Ben Folds, REM, Lyle Lovett, her lullabies CD
Indifferent: U2
Hates: Nothing yet

Good taste so far!

25 May 2007

My daughter as the embodiment of 2000 years of philosophy

Yesterday, we drove to Knoxville for my stepbrother's high school graduation from the Tenessee School for the Deaf. In the fall, Andrew is headed up to the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at the Rochester Institute of Technology to learn graphic design. We're very proud of him and know he'll do well.

This was also Eleanor's first big road trip. She does great in the car and did great all the way there. But once we got there it got difficult. Between all the activity, new people who wanted to see the baby, and getting thrown completely off schedule, she was all sorts of fussy. We had to leave the graduation ceremony because she was being fussy and had to drive around for 30 minutes to get her to go to sleep. Even then, she didn't sleep well, which caused Sarah and I to both be tired and grumpy.

Eleanor needs routine -- all babies do. But she also needs to see and experience new things in order to stimulate that growing brain of hers. Yet when she gets too much of that stimulation, she gets very upset. That, I think, is the case with all of us. Sameness, routine, patterns are all necessary for us to function. Habits of action and thought allow us to get through the day, not just with a degree of efficiency, but with a comfort level that keeps us from fraying apart. But too much of that leads to inanition, stagnation, lack of growth -- which is pretty much the same as dying. We need the novel, the unexpected, to prod us to think and act differently upon occasion, to force us to think and adapt. It's a delicate equlibrium between these two forces -- habit and growth -- that we all must maintain.

Certainly that's true for our daughter. Since almost everything is new to her, that balance is even trickier and more important. The results of a lack of equlibrium are also probably more severe. But we're going to keep trying, giving her new experiences while maintaining a routine that gives her comfort and stability. It's hard.

What's also hard is getting her to take a bottle. I keep telling her it's the same stuff just from a different container, but so far she's having none of it.

Coming soon -- The return of the Lost commentary!!

23 May 2007

Eleanor is a rocker

No, not in a rocker. IS a rocker. Last night Sarah, feeling silly I guess, put Journey's Greatest Hits. Eleanor went nuts! She was moving in her chair, waving her arms and legs around, blowing little bubbles, and making cooing noises. Apparently, she likes Journey.

As long as she avoids Air Supply, then I'll be okay.

21 May 2007


Sarah send this to me while I was away. My daugher is so cute!

Back from the ATL

This weekend I was in Atlanta at the Teaching Professor conference. Unlike most conferences where scholarship is presented and critiqued, this one was more of a workshop type environment, with all sorts of session on things like using podcasting or teaching first year students. I went to several on teaching freshmen, one on podcasting, and one on dealing with "Millenial" students. I picked up a bunch of good tips, but things began to get repetitive toward the end. I probably could have solved that by going to different types of sessions, however, so I'll mark the conference as a success, at least for me.

Since it was in Atlanta, I was also able to get together with Daniel and his new wife Jenna. We met Amy (another friend from Furman) and her finace Anton for dinner and drinks on Friday. Anton is part owner and developer of two restraunt/bar places in the Atlanta neighborhood of Cabbagetown -- the Standard and 67 Estoria. We met at The Standard, which had a cool converted gas station vibe, done in reds and yellows. It was a little crowded, since no one was sitting outside because of the cold (49 in May!), so Anton took us over to another restraunt called Agave. It was a very nice Southwestern place that reminded me of Continental Divide in Charlottesville (complete with lots of different tequillas). Then we headed over to 67 Estoria, which had a neighboorhood bar meets indie rock sort of feel.

At 67 Estoria, they had Woodchuck Pear and Apple on tap. I am a big cider guy, so I was going to get the Apple, but Anton said he had something he wanted me to try. That something was Grey Goose Pear, which he suggested I sip and chase with the Woodchuck Pear Cider. The Grey Goose was amazingly smooth and tasty (which is why you pay more for it, I suppose), and the Pear cider on top of it made for a very nice combination. And since I don't really drink much, I certainly felt the combination.

After that drink (okay, two) at 67 Estoria, we went back to The Standard for a bit. I just had a ginger ale, Daniel tried to pay his wife $1000 so he could have a cigarette, and we left Amy and Anton about 12:30. Daniel and Jenna dropped me off at my hotel and that was the night for me.

A good conference and I had a good time with friends.

17 May 2007

To avoid getting fat(er)

Did you know that fathers put on weight while mothers are pregnant? Yep. I certainly did and things haven't really gotten much better since Eleanor arrived. In fact, most of my weight gain has probably been in the past five weeks -- eating bad food because it's easy, drinking more Coke, and being too tired and out of sorts to exercise. It's probably been two months since I was in the gym. This has resulted in me getting pretty "soft in the middle" (now that my life is so hard. . .). This has got to change. I've begun taking a small step these past two mornings. Instead of parking in the lot right outside Withers, which requires me to walk all of 30 feet into my building, I've begun parking on the other side of campus. I park in the faculty spaces behind Life Sciences and walk to Withers. It's still not very far, all things considered, but it's more than 30 feet. The walk is very nice as well. I go around Byrnes Auditorium and across the front entry to Winthrop, which is populated by several large oaks and green grass. Not only does parking on the other side of campus get me a little more exercise, it integrates me further into campus life. Withers is across the street from most of the university, so it's easy to just come and do my thing without noticing other things on campus. By parking on the other side and walking, I notice more of what's going on -- like the colorful fish "statues" (they look more like kites) someone has erected in front of Life Sciences. The walk now takes 10 minutes instead of 2, but it's worth it for the exercise and the experience of campus.

Here's a Winthrop Map so you can see where all this stuff is. My building is 32 and I am now parking behind 21.

14 May 2007

Summer research

I've got a busy summer planned, work wise. I am teaching two classes, one of which will be wholly on-line. I'm also trying to put my feet to the fire in order to get some writing and research done. I've four "lines" of research going on right now:

1. Continuing to contribute to some qualtitative/qualitative research with some colleagues about ethics and assessment.
2. Beginning a small, grant funded research project on the "moon school" project my students present as their final exam. With some student help, I am going to do some qualatative analysis so look for some commonalities between them. Despite the fact that the schools can be really anything the students want them to be, they end up being a lot like schools today. I find that interesting.
3. Expanding my dissertation research on judgment and epistemology. I've begun to look closer at Catherine Elgin's epistemolgy, particularly at her concept of understanding. Can understanding be an educational goal? How is that different from knowledge?
4. Continue to think about philosophy of education and film.

I've been focused on #3 thus far. It's the most "purely" philosophical and is therefor the most fun for me in a number of ways. One of the things I need to work on in my research is establishing my identity as a scholar. The epistemology project speaks to that the loudest, I think. Still, each of the other three is fun in their own way.

13 May 2007

Mother's Day

It's the first mother's day for Sarah as a mother, and I've done my best to make it a good one. I had flowers sent to her on Friday. We went to church this morning, followed by brunch at Old Town Bistro in downtown Rock Hill. Then, I went to get some groceries to make dinner. I grilled some chili-lime shrimp and some filets, cooked some corn on the cob, and baked some sweet potatoes. Good stuff! And Sarah liked it, which was the most important thing.

Just temporary, I hope

I set up the blogger account as a temporary measure. There's been some issues (the comments section, most notably, with Professorpope.com) and it's taking awhile to sort them out. No worries, as blogger is free and will work just fine for the time being.

I've been toying with the idea of having two blogs anyway -- one for my personal stuff and one for my classes. Once professorpope.com gets repaired, I'll see if I want to carry that idea further.

Now, though, leave comments galore!