Monday, July 31, 2006

Edubloggers: Lunatic fringe or BlogHer's core constituency?

At the BlogHer conference, when Barbara Ganley of Middlebury College mentioned she is an edublogger, someone mistook her as saying she was an "antiblogger."

She at once embraces and brushes off such a label: "I bet some of the people here (and even in my edublogging world) think this loose kind of essay writing I do is anti-blogging. I know that. I'm okay with that."

There's a definite sense of alienation in Ganley's reflections on BlogHer. And she isn't the only edublogger to have what she calls "mixed feelings" about the sessions at BlogHer.

She writes,
But rumbling through the two days was, as Laura points out, a strong whiff of the almighty dollar. People were looking for hints on increasing traffic to their blogs, making money blogging, encouraging advertisers. In sessions I attended, and in the buzz around the pool, there was a whole lot of attention paid to getting people to your blogs. Fascinating.

Okay, so I learned that my world is indeed what I expected to find out--a bit out of touch. But I expected there to be a huge outcry against DOPA--after all, Danah Boyd spoke on Day Two. But no--NOTHING within my earshot. And in fact, as I went around talking about it, I found out that many, many bloggers, including those in academic circles, hadn't even heard of it. How can that be? I was shocked and not a little bothered--we were surrounded by the sponsors giving us everything from zipdrives to condoms, fake flowers to souped up water; but no talk about legislation that will deepen the digital divide by making blogs and other social networking sites out of reach for kids without computers in the home, and force those who do use the sites underground to form their communities. Read Danah Boyd's inspired research on MySpace and adolescents if you don't believe me.

Personally, I enjoyed the conference, and my encounters with the edubloggers convinced me that these women are have embraced BlogHer's mission to effect meaningful change through blogging. While I share the sense of unease the academic bloggers exchanged over wine, soda, and hard liquor, I can see the appeal of driving traffic to one's blog with the hope of profitting from it. I straddle the increasingly apparent divide between those who blog-for-fun-and-profit and those who blog-to-change-the-world. My little salary as an adjunct instructor doesn't pay the bills, so I need to freelance occasionally, and blogging helps me to showcase my knowledge and my mad writin' skillz.

So I ask: Can't we all get along?

Biz bloggers can learn from edubloggers

Business bloggers, you should know that edubloggers aren't eccentrics on the edge of the blogosphere. There are a lot of academic bloghers. Check out the Research and Academia blogroll here at BlogHer for a partial list.

A subset of those blogs includes the edubloggers, those dedicated and hardworking souls who write about the usefulness of blogging and related technologies to education. These bloggers ask the hard questions about how to bridge the "digital divide" that separates the haves from the have-nots.

Edubloggers take the BlogHer conference's motto of "How are your blogs changing your world?" and ask instead, "How can students' blogs change their worlds?" And by "students," they mean anyone who might otherwise lack a voice.

In short, edubloggers show students and others how to democratize knowledge and participate in conversations about issues that are changing their worlds whether they like those changes or not. They are blogging evangelists because they believe in the power of blogs to transform education.

Business bloggers could take a page from edubloggers' insistence that instructors open up a forum for their students rather than trying to control content and message. For edubloggers, blogging is a reflexive practice constantly open to revision. That means transparency, being open to new directions, and for the love of all that is holy, giving up scripted presentations. (Microsoft Live Spaces and their shills, the ridiculously scripted and bubbly Be Janes, who presented prior to one of BlogHer's sessions, should take note. Dear Home Improvement Barbies: Women with the level of technical prowess in that room aren't likely to be cowed by a router. Hugs, Leslie)

Edubloggers can learn from biz bloggers, too

As much as the staunch liberal arts education purist in me would like to believe otherwise, many of our students haven't prioritized polishing their critical thinking skills and developing broader worldviews. Rather, they enrolled in college to prepare for the working world.

We might, then, take a page from the biz bloggers' books and teach our students the tips-n-tricks of business writing on the web. They can still write about Adrienne Rich and Audre Lorde--they'll just be doing it in a concise, conversational tone with pithy yet informative headlines: "Seven Reasons to Sing the Body Electric." Who knows? Maybe they'll end up "selling" such poets to their metrophobic peers.

Of course, there already is a middle ground between the traffic hunger of the biz bloggers and the idealism of the edubloggers: the nonprofit blogosphere, where bloggers sell readers on worthy causes. There's another skill we could teach our students: how to advocate for others as well as for themselves.

What about you? Where do you fit in? How is your blog changing others' worlds?

P.S. Julie Meloni, the lit student and tech geek extraordinaire of No Fancy Name promises to write a series of posts on the conference, including one on "why more than a few bloggers who attended now feel incredibly ambivalent about blogging." Julie, you've piqued my interest, and I wonder if you're referring to any academic bloggers. Please share your thoughts!

Cross-posted at BlogHer.

First illness

We had excellent childcare at BlogHer, but apparently Lucas brought a souvenir home with him: an upper respiratory infection. Woohoo!

His nose started running like a spigot yesterday afternoon, and by 11 p.m. he had a raging fever. So off to the ER we went like good first-time parents. We returned home at 1:30 a.m.

We're all a bit sleep-deprived here, as you might imagine. I feel so sorry for the little guy.

But his illness does give me an excuse to snuggle with him today instead of finishing grading all those papers. Thanks, Luke! :P

BlogHer conference reflections and reports coming soon, I promise. . .

Sunday, July 30, 2006

The book meme

Lucky me! I was tagged by Dr. Free-Ride for this meme.

1. One book that changed your life?
This is hard. Let's say The Norton Anthology of Poetry, 3rd edition. I still have the beat-up copy I used in my intro poetry class my freshman year of college. I liked poetry prior to being introduced to the anthology, but my love for poetry really took off that semester. The resulting string of events:

- I studied poetry throughout college
- I went to my current university for my MA in poetry writing
- When it came time to look for grad school program #3, I chose to return here.
- One day, Fantastic Adviser suggested I apply for a Smithsonian graduate research fellowship. I got it, and it was fantastic.
- Since we would be apart, Mr. Trillwing and I decided that I would spend the three months in DC as the recommended time-off-birth-control-pills-prior to conceiving. It was (very!) shortly upon returning from the Smithsonian that we discovered I was pregnant.
- Had we not conceived that month, we wouldn't have had our--the words of the daycare providers at BlogHer--"perfect baby." So, in a tortuous way, that poetry anthology helped provide the impetus and timing that brought Luke into this world.

2. One book you have read more than once?
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

3. One book you would want on a desert island?
The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats (alternately, a book about surviving on a desert island)

4. One book that made you laugh?
Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore

5. One book that made you cry?
Only two books have ever made me cry: A Separate Peace, which I read in seventh grade, and The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade, which I began reading earlier this year. It was so sad I couldn't get through more than a couple of chapters. I hope someday to find the strength to read it.

6. One book you wish had been written?
Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell

7. One book you wish had never had been written?
I don't know. I won't go so far as to say I wish they had never been written, but with all the conflict in the Middle East, I'm kind of wishing all those holy texts hadn't been adopted so fervently and accepted as worthy of going to war over.

8. One book you are currently reading?
Specimen Days by Michael Cunningham

9. One book you have been meaning to read?
Our Endangered Values by Jimmy Carter

10. Now tag five people -

It's hard to choose just five! I shall choose six! I tag:


"Shellie from the Internet" (sorry, inside joke)



Breena Ronan


Friday, July 28, 2006

BlogHer: Cool people, sucky hotel

OMG! I'm at BlogHer!

OMG! The hotel, the Hyatt San Jose, kinda sucks! (Except for the waitstaff in the restaurant and the housekeeping staff. They're great. Room service, front desk staff. . .not so good.)

By coincidence, my friend, the elusive Fang Bastardson, is here with his Missus. Sounds like he's having some trouble with the hotel as well.

Seriously, the Best Western in Dixon (where we spent Tuesday night because of the dead AC in the apartment) was better than this place. The internet connections have been especially unreliable, which is a wee bit frustrating at a conference about blogging.

I've met some great people here. Aren't you jealous?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

You might be a cultural studies (almost) Ph.D. if. . .

. . .you see your child's blocks scattered across the room and think of them as "a diaspora."

In other news:

AC is back in the apartment. Yay!

I'm heading to BlogHer in a couple hours. Double yay! E-mail me (trillwing AT if you'll be there and want to meet up.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Triply cursed

To review: No air conditioning at home, crappy internet there.

So I came to campus, only to find out that they've shut down AC in all "nonessential" buildings in order to keep the lab animals happy. So the poor administrative staff and faculty suffer, but the chimps and rats and beagles, they're as happy as lab animals can be (admittedly, probably not very happy).

Exception to above: AC is blowing away in the deans' offices. F*ckers.

Fortunately, part of the library is still air-conditioned. The wireless service here also seems weak, however. And I don't have headphones, so I can't listen to the This American Life piece I assigned for homework. It's been awhile since I listened to it, so my memory is dim and my notes, alas, are dimmer.

Seriously, I don't need much in this life: my little family, decent food, the internet, and air-conditioning. Is that really too much to ask for in a first-world country?

Have I mentioned I'm a hotel snob? So Motel 6 tonight is going to really suck for me? And can you not already see the A/C going out there, too?

Whine, whine. Why isn't it Wednesday? I never seem to have good whines when there are prizes of substance and style to be had!

Doubly cursed

Our air conditioning and the internet connection both went down at the same time yesterday afternoon.

It was 113 degrees.

There are 125 people in line ahead of us for air conditioning service. If the air conditioning is not fixed today, the apartment complex is going to put us and the dog up for the night at Motel 6. Yippee.

It's hot. There's no air conditioning. The internet connection limps along.


(I know there are people with real problems. Honestly, I'm worried more about Lucas and the dog than I am about me or the Internet.)

P.S. Why did the Internet connection die? Because the air conditioning at our ISP stopped working and the servers melted down.

Sunday, July 23, 2006


UPDATE: I was incorrect about the temperature. To borrow from Spinal Tap, this city goes to (one hundred) ELEVEN. Fortunately, today it's only supposed to be 103.

Just a quick post to say that it was 110 degrees here today, and now, at 11 p.m., it's still 92 degrees. Thank goodness for air conditioning.

I hope everyone else has been able to stay cool, too.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Photo meme results (finally!)

Thanks for your patience with me on the photo request meme.

luckybuzz asked to see the object I've owned the longest. Unfortunately, that object--a plush rabbit--is in storage at the moment (I know, I'm not showing her much love), so we'll have to go with objects #2 and #3.

The little green ceramic container came from Knott's Berry Farm when I was a wee bairn. The model horse is Sham from Marguerite Henry's King of the Wind. I believe I received him as a Christmas present when I was 10 or 11 years old. He kicked me into a model horse collecting spree that has stretched (though more off than on) until today. (I should probably write about that sometime. . . The model horse hobby is the topic of my next research project.)

Mon asked for a photo of my favorite kitchen item. That would be these shears. Love 'em! (The food processor is a close second because it's so damn efficient.)

Seeking Solace loves puppy pics. Here's Woody, AKA The Liability. He's 12 years old, going on 2.

Squab wants a photo of what most relaxes me. When the temperature isn't, oh, ONE HUNDRED EIGHT DEGREES, I like to walk down this row of olive trees about half a block from my apartment.

On either side of Olive Tree Lane are some of the university's ag fields.

GrumpyABDAdjunct asked for Luke's favorite toy and my dissertation drink o' choice. The toy is a hand-me-down from Fantastic Adviser. Pretty disgusting on the drink front, I know, but I'm on a diet, and I need the caffeine.

Flossie wanted to see a photo of what I'm most proud of. That would be Mr. Trillwing and Lucas. Here's the latest photo of the little man:

And here's Mr. T:

ScienceWoman wants to know where I sit when I work on the diss.

I'm afraid I'm going to fail Tabitha Grimalkin's request for my favorite drink or dessert. I just don't have those on hand. For the record: a fresh strawberry margarita (blended, with salt) or an amaretto sour (on the sweet side), and just about anything that's dark chocolate, although pear crisp and pineapple upside down cake rate high as well on my Great Desert-o-Meter. (And Tabitha, I already miss your blog! I hope you're recovering from your bronchitis.)

Dr. Brazen Hussy wanted to peek inside my medicine cabinet. Right now, everything's shoved into this funky sliding-door thingy that I can't open all at once, so here's a peek at the entire vanity.

Atop the vanity, l to r: lotions I don't use much, toothpaste, toothbrush, tin o' Carmex, Luke's toothbrush, Luke's diver bath toy, thyroid meds, antidepressants, Flintstones vitamins (a habit continued from prenatal and pregnancy days), birth control pills, UV meter card that came with my new hat, my sunblock (30 SPF).

Inside the cabinet, l to r: antiperspirant (Dove sensitive skin because I'm a delicate flower), floss collection, orthodontic retainer in purple case (I wore braces for EIGHT YEARS, so I'm pretty loyal to the retainer), [other side of mirror now] contact lens case, sample mouthwash from dentist, mint flavored Tums antacid (in bulk, of course), useless wart medicine, generic ibuprofen, nipple salve from early breastfeeding days.

In the cabinet mirror: my cute skirt.

On the sink, l to r: little decorative bas relief bird and tree thingy, pilfered nice hotel soap in cheapo soapdish, lavender-scented hand wash from Cost Plus (mostly for guests, since I don't use antibacterial stuff), plastic cup for taking meds, another contact lens case, Freeman's avocado face stuff I probably should use more often, Simple Green cleaning solution in spray bottle, contact lens solution, baby wash, tissues.

Mr. Trillwing and I have separate bathrooms. It's terrific! :)

Jeff wanted to see Mr. T's superhero collection. Mr. T obliged with this photo, which includes pretty much just this past week's purchases. (FYI, the number is atypical.)

Veronica asked for my most abstruse kitchen utensil. I'm afraid my utensils don't run to the abstruse, so I'll give you this instead. It's a wedding gift, a piece of Tupperware that a friend swears is for onions and tomatoes. I just don't get why it's shaped this way, though, as halved tomatoes and onions keep just fine in flat-bottomed containers. . . Any ideas?

Resolutions for sleep crisis

. . .or, as Mr. Trillwing puts it, "Hardass Time."

Over the past couple of days in dealing with Luke's distressing sleep habits, Mr. Trillwing and I have both come close to breaking down in our own special (but, thank goodness, rare) ways: me through depression and crying, he through displays of anger.

The crux of the problem, besides our obvious sleep deprivation, stems from our parenting philosophies on sleep:

I'm pretty much an attachment-parenting type. I believe that there are times, such as late evening, when Luke is obviously tired, when we should let him fuss and cry himself to sleep. However, during the day, I tend to rush to Lucas's side if he expresses discomfort.

Mr. Trillwing, on the other hand, has become a big fan of the ol' Ferber method of letting the little guy cry it out whenever it appears a nap is nigh.

This afternoon, after some heated "discussion"--we don't argue, and as strange and perhaps unhealthy as that seems, it's worked for us so far--we compromised. Our plan:

1. Mr. Trillwing will continue to rise with Lucas at whatever ungodly hour the boy chooses.

2. Lucas has the opportunity to take a fuss-free morning nap, meaning it's not scheduled and we don't force the issue. If he falls asleep, fine. If he skips this nap (he rarely does), that's fine, too.

3. The afternoon nap, which Luke occasionally skips, becomes mandatory. Around 2:45, Mr. Trillwing will sit down in his comfy office chair with Luke for some quiet reading and soothing music. If Luke falls asleep, Mr. Trillwing puts him in his crib. If Luke doesn't fall asleep, he still goes into his crib. We let him cry it out until he's asleep or until 45-60 minutes have passed. (This is the part of the plan with which I'm least happy, as I hate, hate, HATE hearing the little guy scream during the day, when my nurturing instincts are most powerful.)

4. Mr. Trillwing will continue to go to bed at an early hour (usually 6 p.m.). I'll be better about establishing an evening going-to-bed routine, with the hope of having Luke conk out between 8 and 8:30 p.m. I'll put him down no later than 8:30. If he cries and wakes up Mr. Trillwing, Mr. T will just have to deal with the noise (currently I rock and comfort Luke until Mr. Trillwing wakes up from his evening "nap" around 10-11 p.m.).

5. When Luke wakes up in the middle of the night, there will be no more regular bringing him into bed with us, because once he's in there, he stays for the rest of the night, refusing to go back into the crib. He also tosses and turns, which means Mr. Trillwing can't sleep and ends up on the couch. I'd really like to share a bed with my husband, and that means ending the co-sleeping on the average night.

If Lucas cries in the middle of the night, neighbors be damned. We'll comfort him, but we won't bring him into bed.

We're hoping being strict about this schedule means in we'll have a better sleeper in 2-3 weeks. I'm feeling kind of heartless at the moment (there's much screaming going on as I type), but really, we've reached the end of our rope on this issue. Luke is perfectly easy going about every issue but sleep, and it's time he establishes a human (and humane) sleep schedule.

Comments, advice, and good vibes are welcome!

Dear Spammers

Dear Spammers,

I know you think you're all ingenious by using numb3rs, pun¢tuat|0n, and whatnot in order to evade spam filters on my e-mail. But really, you've gone too far this time, so much so that I only think--but I'm not sure--I can guess what you're selling:

B b est S e el q li g ng W w atc u he b s

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Also, kindly stop tutoring my students on how to write.

M@n¥ th@nk$,


Blue ramblings

It's 11:30 p.m.

The book index I'm compiling was due two days ago. I'm about 1/3 finished with it. I'm depressed about my slowness. I very much enjoyed reading the book, but indexing it is proving far more challenging than the other three books I've indexed. Why? Well, the book is about the intersection of concepts a, b, c, and d with groups of people w, x, y, and z. And it's very common for the author to write in a single paragraph about how concepts b and c affect groups w, x, y, and z. So then I need to index subcategories in b, c, w, x, y, and z. So whereas in other books I might average 2-4 index terms per page, this book has 10-12. I totally underestimated how much time it would take to complete this project, and I'm embarrassed about my tardiness and depressed about how this weekend, which was going to be dedicated to the dissertation, is now completely consumed by indexing. Eeeeeek!

I haven't been able to work much on the index tonight during the several hours I had set aside to work on it because Lucas is once again not sleeping well. He wants to be entertained, cuddled, fed. And I can't attempt the crying-it-out method because Mr. Trillwing is sleeping.

Because of the index and Luke's refusal to sleep more than an hour or so at a time, I'm two weeks behind on the dissertation. This frightens me a lot because my lecturer gig for the coming year is predicated on my finishing the Ph.D. We're already paying a babysitter to come in about 15 hours/week, but we can't afford any more hours of sitting, so my Luke-free time is limited.

Meanwhile, the apartment is a mess and getting pretty dingy, which is very stressful to me, but I don't have the time to give it a good purging and scrubbing.

(Please hold while I break down crying with Luke and pass him off to Mr. Trillwing. Mr. Trillwing offers to cuddle with Luke and then gives up to let him scream it out at midnight, neighbors be damned. [EDITED to clarify: This letting Luke cry is what *I* wanted to do. I'm not criticizing Mr. Trillwing, who felt a bit wounded by how I characterized his actions.])

On top of this, I'm having career angst.

In the midst of revising Chapter 2 of the diss in order to resubmit it as a journal article more pleasing to the journal reviewers, I was thinking, "Good God, is this really what I want to be doing for the rest of my life? Or even for the next ten years?" And today, sitting in front of 15 summer-school students, at least 10 of whom hadn't done any of the reading for class, again I asked myself, "Why bother?" (And, I remind my bloggy readers once again, the university supposedly is only for the top 12.5% of students in California, so I'm already working with the best available.)

I wonder if I'd be better off in the museum field. The pay is low, but then again the entry-level salaries in academia are nothing to write home about, you know? And there are a couple of jobs for which I'd like to apply and for which I'm definitely qualified, but if I was offered them, I'd have to give up teaching this year, and we all have heard that time away from academia is a bad thing if one ever wants to go back into the ivory tower. Plus I'd piss off a lot of people in my teaching department who have been very good to me; I'd be leaving them in the lurch. So of course I can't do that.

Increasingly, the stay-at-home-parent option is attractive. But totally, totally unaffordable.

Freelancing (which means working from home) is also attractive, but in the past I've ended up with projects that I didn't really enjoy that much.

Plus, it's hot and that makes me cranky because I can't get out and take those nice, long relaxing walks I so very much need in the afternoon or evening. How hot is it? At 7:45 p.m., I checked and it was 102° (feels like 106°) in my lovely town. Right now it's 12:06 a.m. and 88 degrees. Saturday it's supposed to be 108, cooling down to 107 on Sunday. Yay. (As you might imagine, our electric bills have been a tad bit high, and I don't see any relief soon.)

So, to sum up:

- It's hot and I'm frustratingly sedentary.
- Dissertation is stalled because of index project.
- Summer class is going downhill fast because students have apparently lost will to learn.
- I haven't yet put together my new-to-me summer class that begins in a couple of weeks because I had hoped to finish my dissertation by now.
- I haven't yet begun serious research on another new-to-me class for the fall because I had hoped to finish my dissertation by now.
- Apartment is not an environment conducive to working.
- We can't afford childcare so that I can go work someplace else on my diss and course planning.
- Mr. Trillwing is unbelievably busy with work and can't seem to say no to additional work from his current employer because he's worried that would mean he'd they'd send him back to work in the office instead of working from home. Mr. Trillwing needs to work at home for many reasons, not the least of which is that he helps out with childcare when I'm teaching and sometimes when I'm dissertating.

All right. Mr. Trillwing is up and making Luke's formula for tomorrow and he's walked the leaky dog, two of my usual late-night responsibilities. I should be able to work now except that it's midnight and I'm tiring and Luke is still screaming bloody murder in the bedroom.

Anybody want to come over and have an all-night indexing party? Woohoo.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Music recommendations

Mr. Trillwing is largely responsible for introducing me to my current favorite artists. Many of them have come out with albums in the last couple of months, and they're all terrific. If you have the time, head over to your favorite music store or mp3 venue to sample them:

Kris Kristofferson's This Old Road
Neil Young's Living with War
Bruce Springsteen's We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions
Johnny Cash's American V: 100 Highways (nice review here)

Plus, I heartily recommend a new-to-me artist, Antje Duvekot, whose Boys, Flowers, Miles is just terrific.

Sorry I'm not more thorough with reviewing music, but in this household, Mr. Trillwing holds that franchise.

Monday, July 17, 2006

One hundred six degrees

. . .of misery.

That's today's forecast.

And to whomever wrote about my town in that Forbes Magazine "150 cheapest places to live" dealie: it does not cool down at night here due to Delta breezes. Nor is it a cheap place to live.


Ask trillwing: the shared office dilemma

Dear trillwing,

I will be sharing an office with a fellow asst prof when I start my first job this fall. Do you have any tips for managing such a situation while retaining the vestiges of my sanity?

phd me

Dear phd me,

First off, my condolences. I've never officially had my own office, but I find the dinosaur art method works well to fend off colleagues as well as students. Hang your art before your office mate hangs hers!

Beyond that, here are my tips:

1. Be territorial. Remember checking into your freshman dorm room? Use that experience to your advantage. Arrive early to claim the desk by the window and the more comfortable chair. Under no circumstances should you negotiate. Remember: YOU are the alpha professor at the bottom of the departmental totem pole.

2. Leave an empty terrarium with a heating rock in the office. Upon first meeting, place your hand on your cheek. Say: "Oh dear. Have you seen Slither?"

3. During shared office hours, use canned air to shoo the dust buffaloes from under your desk into your officemate's 1/3 of the room.

4. Play "office stalker." Change your office hours every semester so that they always match hers. Begin to dress like her and bring the same lunches.

5. Flatulence. (Failing that, bring in a microwave and heat some 3-day-old Chinese food, preferably something with cabbage.)

6. Intimidation. Keep a large three-ring binder labeled "Tenure Documents" on your desk. Fill it with blank paper. Put a lock on it to fend off prying eyes.

7. Every once in awhile, speak in tongues. Ask, "Did you see the great faith healing by Benny Hinn on TV last night? Boy, can that man ever vanquish unclean spirits." Pause. "Say, you have taken Jesus into your heart, haven't you?"

Please let me know if these approaches to securing your own time and space don't work for you. I'm happy to offer others that have worked for me.

Best of luck with your haunting.


Do you have a pressing matter that only trillwing can address? If so, leave your question in the comments or e-mail her at trillwing AT gmail DOT com. All reasonable, and some unreasonable, requests for advice will be fulfilled.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

New Feature: Ask trillwing

Dear trillwing,

I'm starting a new job this year, and for the first time ever I'll have my own office. As I need to plan four new courses and publish at least two articles this coming year, I'd like to discourage students from return trips to my office hours. Have any decorating tips to help me with this goal?


DIY Dummy

Dear DD,

You've come to the right place. I've been keeping students guessing for seven long years, with nary a repeat visit.

Here's the key: it's all about the theme. You must decorate your office in a motif as distant from your area of study as possible.

Here are some fields and unrelated or inappropriate themes to get your creative juices flowing:

Area of study--Theme
Marine biology--Precious Moments figurines
Music theory--RUSH paraphernalia
Psychology--Pet rocks (at least 200 of them)
Technocultural studies--Angels
Asian-American literature--U.S. Presidential memorabilia
Veterinary studies--Dias de los Muertos shrines
Studio art--Thomas Kinkade canvas giclee
Women's studies--Velvet Elvii

For example, my MA in creative writing + my almost-Ph.D. in cultural studies means I'm a prime candidate for dinosaur art.

Once you have established your theme, it's important to be as inconsistent and inscrutable as possible in your aesthetic choices. With this principle in mind, I selected these prints from

Before you put up your posters, be sure to paint your walls a nice institutional gray. After awhile, you'll find it serene; students will find it depressing.

In addition, it's always a good idea to burn incense to the journal peer review gods. As far as scents go, I recommend Archival Paper, Perfect Binding Adhesive, and Brimstone. Avoid patchouli, as that attracts the dirty hippie students.

I hope you've found this tutorial useful. I'm always available for consultations.

Happy decorating!


Do you have a question, academic or otherwise, for trillwing? Put it in the comments or e-mail her at trillwing AT gmail DOT com. All reasonable questions will be answered, as well as some unreasonable ones.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Busy busy

Last night I finished a complete overhaul of Chapter 2 of the diss. Once Fantastic Adviser returns her comments, I'll send it back to the other readers for their (I hope!) final approval, along with the Intro and chapters 1, 3, and 4. Chapter 5 is still in the works.

This weekend is also chock full of paper grading. Students in my material culture class turned in a batch last week and, while I've skimmed them, I have yet to begin grading in earnest. They're due back to them on Monday, though, so tomorrow will be all about the grading.

Tonight, however. . . Ah, tonight--assuming Lucas sleeps--is set aside for some good, old-fashioned indexing. During my tenure as a grad student here, I get called upon every year or two to index some professor's book. The pay isn't fabulous, but the little extra cash helps. The book this time is about the environmental justice movement in NYC, and so far it's pretty damn interesting, which always makes the indexing more pleasant. And yes, if you have a book in the humanities or social sciences that needs indexing, I'm happy to help--just not this month! :)

I'm looking forward to the BlogHer conference at the end of July. Anyone else attending?

Photos from the photo meme have been delayed for a few days while I dig through this pile o' work. Many apologies, but they are coming soon. . .

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Looking for a job?

This position seems to have some turnover, as I've seen it advertised twice this year. My comments are in italics.

Puma Capture Specialist (STAFF RESEARCH ASSOC II)
$2,962.00 - $4,767.00/Mo.
(Salary stated is full time, actual salary is based on hours worked)
Final Filing Date 07-11-06
This position is located in: VM: Wildlife Health Center and is represented by a union. Working hours: To be arranged.

Good to know mountain lion wranglers have a union!

The Wildlife Health Center serves the University in the following capacities: an umbrella under which wildlife research is funded and conducted at the School of Veterinary Medicine; an integral instructional resource for veterinary and graduate students; and an information and referral center for wildlife health. The goals of this research project and this position are to: capture, sample and radio-collar mountain lions in California; determine population size and the extent of movements of lions in the study area; and collect detailed puma location data to develop models of habitat use and suitability.

Responsibilities: Serve as the project field leader and provide support for the Wildlife Health Center’s mountain lion project. Oversee day-to-day field activities and personnel. Act as communications liasion with the Wildlife Health Center, Department of Fish and Game, and California State Parks management agencies. Organize field data into computer database; help prepare reports summarizing progress toward project objectives.

Check out the range of skills required for this position: brains, brawn, GPS geekery, and media savvy. Color me impressed.

Requirements: Specialized knowledge and technical training required typically obtained with education at the Masters level or with a combination of education and experience. Extensive knowledge and demonstrated expertise in tracking mountain lions. Skills to recognize signs, tracks, and be knowledgeable about lion habitat use and behavior. Experience with supervision and organization of field staff, collaborators, and volunteers. Experience establishing work plans, assignments and coordinating with multiple individuals, agencies and landowners. Skills to utilize a variety of computer software programs (Word, Excel) for entering biological data and analysis (statistical and GIS). Experience to use advanced VHF radio telemetry and GPS equipment preferred. Skills to use GPS, understand topographic maps, and accurately map locations. Skills to skillfully drive a four-wheel drive vehicle on extremely rugged terrain. Demonstrated public relations experience and experience working with the media on sensitive subjects required. Special Conditions of Employment: Position may, at times, require employee to work with or be in areas where hazardous materials and/or infectious diseases are present. This position is subject to Medical Surveillance procedures and review in accordance with Federal and State Laws and Regulations and University Policy. Overnight Travel required. Restricted vacation during peak periods. Schedule is subject to change with only 12-24 hours notification. Valid CA driver’s license required. Work flexible schedule. Work occasional weekends, evenings, nights, and holidays on short notice. Must be able to work long days, sometimes in excess of an 8-hour day while tracking lions. Physical Requirements: Position requires lifting up to 100 lbs. Must be able to work in the wilderness in all climates and conditions for several days at a time. Ability to hike extended distances and conduct observations in extremely remote and rugged conditions working independently.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

An illustration of why I need Fantastic Adviser's help with revisions

I need to write this sentence here so that I'm not tempted to actually include it in my dissertation:

Come for the stuffed monkeys playing poker; stay for the habitat dioramas.

That is all.

Photos coming tomorrow. . . I'm still snapping away, so if there are any more requests, post them below.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Photo meme

There's a great photo meme going around, I believe inspired by Eddie and first brought to fruition by Maggie May.

Here's how it works:

1. You use the comments of this post to request photos of just about anything in my life. (Use discretion, please. Nobody wants to see a photo of my foot warts, for example.)

2. I post the requested photos.

For example, you might say, "Trillwing, I want to see a photo of Chapter 2 with the reviewer's comments." And I would post this:

(Go ahead, click on it to see the gore. And BTW, if you happen to be one of the reviewers of the journal piece created from this chapter, many thanks. Your comments are making for difficult revisions, but they're all good ones.)

You might ask for a photo of the most expensive thing in my apartment, and I'd give you The Liability:

Make sense?

Delurk and comment, por favor!


Metaphorical: Chapter 2 of the dissertation. It's killing me to revise. Looks like I'll be behind by 1-2 days on my dissertation deadline calendar. Damn.

Literal: On the bottom of my feet. Every two to three summers, as I walk about in sandals, I manage to get several warts. And the over-the-counter stuff never helps.

In the past, this affliction has meant going to the campus "wart clinic"--yes, they actually have one--where the self-described "wart nurse" administers torture liquid nitrogen, bearing down into my flesh with the freezing-burning cotton swab. I scream for several minutes and then limp for a couple days afterward. After five or six treatments over a period of two or three months, the warts are still there, but I earn a referral to the very gatekept dermatologist, who then tries one more cheapo liquid nitrogen treatment before prescribing a topical ointment that makes the warts go away pronto.

But. . . I now have a CHOICE in doctors, since for this summer I have both student health insurance and Mr. Trillwing's insurance. Wheeeeee!

So I'm thinking that I'll skip the liquid nitrogen torture and instead make an appointment with Dr. Wonderful. Unfortunately, her office is busy, and unless I convince the receptionist that these are warts! of! imminent! doom! I may have to wait a couple of months to get in.

Once I do get an appointment, though, I may have trouble convincing her that the ointment I'm seeking is really for my feet.


Because the stuff that works on my feet, as prescribed by the campus dermatologist, is none other than genital wart cream.

Just imagine my first personal visit to Dr. Wonderful (who, to make things more awkward in this case, I've befriended outside the office): "Yeah. . . It's great to see you again. How are the kids? Hey, can I get some of that genital wart cream? Really, it's for my feet. Really."

Sunday, July 02, 2006

I believe. . . I believe. . .

Many academics have mentioned blogging about something they had lost and then poof! the lost object appears.

So: Dissertation "Exhibitions" folder, come hither! Mama needs you!


Query: How does one write a dissertation on museums if the "exhibitions" folder (containing photocopies from archives on the opposite coast) goes AWOL?

Dissertation update

Because I know you're all waiting with bated breath, I've published a wee dissertation calendar in the right-hand column. I've given myself a two-week buffer, as the official grad studies deadline is September 15.

As you can see, the schedule is tight, but there's a bonus: my program has no dissertation defense. Woohoo! (That omission definitely helps to make up for the friggin' grueling quals we have to take: six essays in three days--I wrote, I think, close to 60 pages--plus 3-hour-long orals with a panel of five people one week later.)

Last night I revised chapter 4, and tonight, if Lucas sleeps, I'll finish my revisions of Chapter 3 (formerly known as The Chapter That Refuses To Be Completed). Chapter 2 will be a bitch to revise because the readers' comments are all about theory. Once Chapter 2 is finished, Chapter 1 and the Intro should be a breeze.

Chapter 5 is still being written. I've been trying to schedule interviews with some very, very busy women and figure out how to use my new voice recorder on phone conversations. Still, it will be (for me) the most interesting chapter, so I'm looking forward to working on it a bit more.

This photo of me with Fantastic Adviser, who signed off on my walking at commencement even though I hadn't officially finished the diss, is keeping me going:

Mixed in with all this writing and revising is course planning for summer session II and for the fall. SSII I'm teaching intro to American Studies; in the fall, I'm repeating intro (only with 100 students instead of 20, and I'll have two TAs!!!) and teaching a new course on the 1950s.

And while I'm teaching those new courses, I'll be applying for jobs. Yay. Oh, and Lucas will probably be walking by this time.

In other words, I'm screwed.

Back to writing. . .

Hey, yogamom!

I tried contacing you to set up a get-together, but I'm not sure I have your current e-mail, and you're not in the phone book (understandably!).

Kindly contact me at trillwing AT gmail DOT com.

Muchas gracias!

Tom Waits? Is that you?

While I tried letting Lucas cry it out a few times, it only ever worked that once, when he crashed in just under half an hour. The other times, either he was too persistent and too loud or it was too late in the evening for us to allow him to cry it out, as we live in an apartment and there are people on two sides and above and below us. So I've pretty much given up on our half-assed Ferberizing.


Mr. Trillwing, unbeknownst to me, had not. When I'm teaching three times a week--conveniently during Luke's afternoon naptime--Mr. Trillwing has a few times tried to let the little guy cry himself to sleep once he appears to be drowsy.

Last week it apparently got a little bit out of hand. Mr. Trillwing and Lucas had a stalemate for an hour or more, and Luke still didn't fall asleep.

The problem? Now Lucas is more than a little bit hoarse. I pointed this out to Mr. T, and my husband actually smiled.

"He sounds like a miniature Tom Waits," he said.

"Which would be fine," I replied, "if he was, say, 50 years old instead of 10 months."

". . .Like he’s been gargling glass shards and smoking three packs a day since the Eisenhower administration," Mr. Trillwing rhapsodized.

"Well," I said, "if his regular voice doesn't return in a few days, we'll have to. . ."

"Get him singing lessons?" he asked hopefully.

Stay tuned for another episode of Will Dr. Wonderful call CPS?"