Monthly Archives: January 2003

The Post-Mortem Report (or, how it went)

Wow, I was one nervous grrrl today, a wreck until about 1:00PM. I don’t think I got more than a couple hours of tossing-and-turning sleep and couldn’t eat anything until supper tonight. It’s wild how anxious I was about this whole teaching gig. I mean, I’ve been teaching on my own for the past year — but with this class I think I put a lot more pressure on myself in my performance. For one, it’s on a subject that is really important to me, so I really wanted to succeed. Two, I was lecturing in an unfamiliar setting, in a classroom where the whole time I have sat in the back of the room, watching the professor lead. So it was a bit odd to all of a suddent have control of the class, especially while the professor sat in the back, recording and evaluating my performance!

But I did well. I think. Granted, I’m so much harder on myself than others. I won’t subject you to a painful play-by-play analysis of what happened, but I’ll hit the highlights. I went over an introductory article on Rhetorical Criticism by Sonja Foss. The article was set up in such a way that it was easy dissecting it with the class. I knew the material inside and out, though I’m afraid I may have hidden behind some of this organization. I wish that I could have interjected more anecdotes and questions into my presentation. While I know that the students now thoroughly know the material, I wish I could have made it a little more engaging for them as we discussed it.

Another thing I really want to work on is my chalkboard presence. I’m a recent convert to using the board when teaching — I used to just type things out ahead of time and make transparencies. I was going to do the same for this lesson, until I was encouraged to change my mind. Dr. MacLennan raised some good points regarding the use of transparencies vs. the chalkboard — she said that it’s usually more effective to literally lay it out for them on the board, together, rather than preparing these overheads ahead of time and making them transcribe like mad. I’m more sensitive to it now, I noticed in my 110 class when the prof put an overhead on, the students basically stopped listening and just scribbled notes. At least while I’m writing on the board, the students are following my trains of thought along with me.

There’s other issues I know I could work on in improving my teaching style. Overall, I’m fairly pleased with how things turned out. There were a couple of really great shiny moments in my lesson! Towards the end, after we had worked through Foss’s definitions of rhetoric and rhetorical criticism, I was able to share with the class different epiphany-type moments in my own life, where rhetoric made a huge difference.

I first told them about how I responded to watching the Opening Ceremonies of the Winter Olympics last year. I had just started my first rhet. class, and I remember watching bits and pieces of the ceremonies one night while I was babysitting. I was amazed (and angry!) at all the pathos appeals being pushed at me. From bringing out the tattered remains of the World Trade Center flag to having the different athletes carrying two flags (their country’s and the US flag), all sorts of emotional appeals were being thrown my way. If I hadn’t been aware of these type of communication techniques, I would have let myself be swept away with emotions, without seeing how manipulated I was being.

The other example I gave them had to do with the feelings I had about this year’s State of the Union message. It was neat to be able to explain to them something that I felt passionate about, while reiterating points I had raised during the article’s discussion.

I had fun, and I think I could get used to teaching rhetoric in an University context!

Other things that happened today: I met with my research prof and team — we’re starting up our project within the week! It’s entitled The Religious Poetry Project, and it entails a team of students (I’m a supervisor, woo) who go through paraphrased Psalms that were published from 1477-1640 and transcribe them into an electronic, XML-searchable database. Right now it’s only in its “pilot” stages, which means we’re doing the grunt work until they can get the big grant money next year. But, it’s extra money, plus it’ll be a gem on the CV I’m constructing.

Speaking of money, still no sign of my loan check. I remember joking in December that I wouldn’t have it until my birthday. Well, my birthday is on Saturday, and I won’t have it. Two months late. Unbelievable. Luckily, next year I won’t have to rely on Sallie Mae for my livelihood. But the story gets better — the registrar girl I was working with in the University office quit her position last week. Now the people that are left there have NO CLUE what is going on. Sigh. And so it goes.

And since we’re on the subject of depressing, did anyone watch CSI tonight? What a downer. Poor Warrick. Still a damn fine show, though.

Must-get-sleep.

I should be dilligently studying my lesson plan for tomorrow right now. Wait, it’s not tomorrow now — it’s later today! I’m really nervous about the whole ordeal. It is my first Rhetoric class I’m teaching – hard to believe that this time last year I was in my undergrad rhet class, and now I’m in the teacher role! I’m anxious about the whole ordeal. Not only will I be teaching a bunch of students I’m not familiar with, but I’ll also be graded and observed by my prof and fellow grad students in the back. Pressure! Ugh.

My lesson consists of going over an article that introduces the concepts of rhetorical criticism, which is something that I’m passionate about. I’m excited about the material I’m going to be presenting, but worried in how it will go over. There’s only so much preparation you can do before you give a lesson. So much can go wrong, with things I can’t really prepare for — it’s really scary, in a way. We’ll see how it goes over.

I’ll appreciate all the good thoughts, prayers, and mojo sent my way later today (1-2:20pm Central Time). I’ll let you know how it goes…




Behold, the all-knowing Oracle of Starbucks

Personality type: Pseudo-intellectual

You’re liberal and consider yourself to be laid back and open minded. Everyone else just thinks you’re clueless. Your friends hate you because you always email them virus warnings and chain letters “just in case it’s true.” All people who drink grande tazo tea are potheads.

Also drinks: Sparkling water

Can also be found at: Designer grocery stores


Dammit, I’m proud to be an American.

But why do I feel somewhat guilty in writing that phrase?

Tonight I watched my first State of the Union address, while living in a foreign country. It was a bit weird. For one, none of the 3 channels in the apartment carried it, so I had to scamper online to find a live feed. While watching the tiny screen on my laptop, I felt all sorts of things. I felt a bit disconnected — I think that is largely due to the fact I’m so far away from home (not necessarily US, but a long ways from GA!). Up here there’s been more protesting about the upcoming military action, so I haven’t been as swamped with newscasts about it like I would be back home. Then again, if I was back home I think I would be feeling the pressure in a different sense — mainly due to the fact Savannah is within an hour’s distance of 2 large Army bases (whose troops have already been deployed).

I think that I’m definitely more sensitive to the language Bush used in his speech. Being away from the American media, plus back in a rhetorical frame of mind, helps with that I’m sure. It was interesting to note the different times he used the ploy “We’re Americans and can do whatever we feel right” along with appeals to the international community and cooperation. I think the former largely outweighed the latter.

That’s where I feel so torn. I mean, America is my home. I love the fact that I can call myself an American — despite the popular notion it is to bash it and condemn its policies. And by bashing it I don’t just mean here in Canada — even back home its sometimes viewed as “academic” to be critical of many elements of “American-ness” (yes, I just made up a word, thank-you-very-much!).

So while I’m proud of my identity in some ways, I’m also very troubled by certain aspects of it.

It bothers me that so much of our nation’s intentions are prefaced by the fact we’re doing this “because we’re America.” Hearing statements like these bothered me:

In all of these efforts, however, America’s purpose is more than to follow a process – it is to achieve a result: the end of terrible threats to the civilized world. All free nations have a stake in preventing sudden and catastrophic attack. And we are asking them to join us, and many are doing so. Yet the course of this Nation does not depend on the decisions of others. Whatever action is required, whenever action is necessary, I will defend the freedom and security of the American people.

[...]

The world has waited 12 years for Iraq to disarm. America will not accept a serious and mounting threat to our country, and our friends, and our allies. The United States will ask the UN Security Council to convene on February 5th to consider the facts of Iraq’s ongoing defiance of the world. Secretary of State Powell will present information and intelligence about Iraq’s illegal weapons programs; its attempts to hide those weapons from inspectors; and its links to terrorist groups. We will consult, but let there be no misunderstanding: If Saddam Hussein does not fully disarm, for the safety of our people, and for the peace of the world, we will lead a coalition to disarm him.

But he did raise some vaild points, regarding Saddam — in addition to the facts he laid out about disregarding UN regulations:

Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option.

While that’s a tad bit overstated, I do think there’s some merit in what’s behind it.

The highlight of the speech, for me:

Ladies and gentlemen, seldom has history offered a greater opportunity to do so much for so many. We have confronted, and will continue to confront, HIV/AIDS in our own country. And to meet a severe and urgent crisis abroad, tonight I propose the Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief – a work of mercy beyond all current international efforts to help the people of Africa. This comprehensive plan will prevent seven million new AIDS infections … treat at least two million people with life-extending drugs … and provide humane care for millions of people suffering from AIDS, and for children orphaned by AIDS. I ask the Congress to commit 15 billion dollars over the next five years, including nearly ten billion dollars in new money, to turn the tide against AIDS in the most afflicted nations of Africa and the Caribbean.

This Nation can lead the world in sparing innocent people from a plague of nature. And this Nation is leading the world in confronting and defeating the man-made evil of international terrorism.

Interesting transition — from peaceful relief efforts, right into the bit on terrorism. I really hope he means to follow through on this promise of AIDS relief, and isn’t just using it as speech fodder to lesson the “big-bully” worldview of the US. It’s something we should have been doing *years* ago, in my opinion.

And finally, the big closer:

Americans are a resolute people, who have risen to every test of our time. Adversity has revealed the character of our country, to the world, and to ourselves.

America is a strong Nation, and honorable in the use of our strength. We exercise power without conquest, and we sacrifice for the liberty of strangers.

Americans are a free people, who know that freedom is the right of every person and the future of every nation. The liberty we prize is not America’s gift to the world, it is God’s gift to humanity.

We Americans have faith in ourselves – but not in ourselves alone. We do not claim to know all the ways of Providence, yet we can trust in them, placing our confidence in the loving God behind all of life, and all of history.

May He guide us now, and may God continue to bless the United States of America.

Again with the mixing of God and politics. I’m finding that this is a trait that is very-American. You don’t ever hear any Canadian officials ranting, “God Bless Canada!” It’s definitely a loaded statement. While I hope that God does continue to bless my country, I don’t want that blessing at the expense of other countries. “God Bless America” is an interesting type of enthymeme. In other words, there’s a whole lot of assumptions left out of that conclusion. If “God Blesses America”, does that mean he then punishes its enemies (or at least gives them a disadvantage to the US)? Does that statement mean that God should only bless America? All of a sudden, I’m not so comfortable with that statement’s hidden meanings.

That said, I am appreciative of the fact that I can question my government and country without fear of reprisal. And its late now so I should get some sleep.

(edit: I posted this over at blog sisters, too!)

Mindless Links Monday:

Comb Overs.com — A whole site dedicated to the hair styling masterpieces that are the comb-overs.

Kermitage — A website that has categorized and discussed all six seasons of the Muppet Show!

Newseum — A collection of front news pages from all over the world. Updated daily.

The Great Pop vs. Soda Controversy — Or as I like to call it, “Coke.”

Visual Thesaurus — Whoa, who knew finding synonyms could be so much fun?

The Condiment Packet Museum — and I thought Kurt was lame for hoarding A&W packets! ;)

Am I Annoying.com — rank celebrities on their annoyance factor. My first “celebrity” to rank was Mayor McCheese. Annoying!

It’s so cold in Georgia, some schools closed

ATLANTA (AP) Even though roads were clear of snow, sleet and ice Friday, schools around Georgia closed because of brutal cold.

School officials and parents didn’t want children who were not used to such temperatures waiting for buses or walking to school in temperatures below 10 degrees.

“What is critical to us is how safe is it to operate the buses, and how safe is it for children to walk to school,” said Spencer Ragsdale, spokesman for DeKalb County schools, which were closed Friday.

The temperature dropped to 8 degrees in Atlanta and Cartersville and 7 degrees in Marietta. Most north Georgia school systems were closed Friday – even though there was no ice on major roads.

Central and south Georgia also got hit with a blast of cold air. Columbus and Macon recorded lows of 13 degrees. In Albany in southwest Georgia, Dougherty County schools closed because of a low temperature of 14.

On the coast, Savannah reported 17 degrees and St. Simons Island reported 20.

The last time the Atlanta area experienced temperatures this cold was February 4 and 5, 1996, when the thermometer dipped to 6 degrees.

The deep freeze was expected to loosen its grip Friday afternoon with the mercury expected to climb into the mid-30s . The National Weather Service predicts high temperatures in the 40s Saturday.

heh.