Wednesday, December 15, 2010

RBOC, Transitions (and Buried Lede) Edition

More quasi-random bullets, because that's all I have in me. (Now with subheads!)


  • I'm finishing up my grading for the semester. I'm down to the single digits on my lower-division students' research papers, and then I have their final exams as well. I hope to finish tomorrow, and then submit grades on Friday, assuming I can figure out the LMS gradebook.
  • That means--yay!--I've finished my first semester on the tenure track. Two course preps down for the year, and two to go--though the next two should be significantly less time-consuming than this semester's.
  • One of the students in my public history class said she thinks she's found her calling as a public historian, instead of the schoolteacher path she had always imagined for herself. She's had a really rough time of it lately for reasons that have nothing to do with her academic ability, and it's nice to see her really come into her own as a critical and creative thinker who's willing to try new things. She also discovered her classmates valued her for her informally learned knowledge of local history; they dubbed her "Boisepedia." She talked to the department's internship coordinator today, and I'll be writing her a letter of rec for what sounds like a good position for her.
  • One of my lower-division U.S. survey students wrote me a really nice note that went a long way toward soothing my I'm-not-a-papered-historian impostor syndrome. She explained she had hated history since fourth grade because that was when she first received a B in any subject, and that my course marked the first time she had been invited to engage meaningfully with history rather than memorize dates and consider only privileged people's histories. She said she now "loves history as a subject" and wants to study feminist theory. Also, there's this: "Most importantly, you helped my writing. I never thought that a history teacher could better strengthen the papers I write. I learned more from you than my [redacted] class. You showed me to come to my own conclusions about the sources I had, not let the sources guide my paper. I will apply this in any future writing I have to do. . . So thank you, Leslie, for making history important to me once more." Her note makes me sad about the state of history in K-12, but for now I'll just enjoy the warm fuzzies.
  • I'll be teaching a section of the capstone writing course next semester. Apparently the seminar raises a tangle of issues about students' patchwork preparedness for historical research and writing. This course has, I'm told, been designated one whose products are to be used for assessing the efficacy of the history department in teaching its majors to think critically and write well. In theory, I suppose I should feel some pressure about that. Still, I'm approaching the course more like Icarus than Sisyphus; we'll see how long it takes for me to plummet to the ground, my wings destroyed by my own hubris.
  • I'm teaching a graduate course next semester called "Introduction to Applied History." I applied for a grant to partially subsidize mobile devices for students in the class, so up to 15 of the students (so far there aren't 15 registered for the course) will each be able to buy an iPod Touch at a 50% discount. We'll be exploring the possibilities engendered by existing apps, sort of a "small pieces loosely joined" approach to local digital public history.
  • We'll also be contributing to a very, very large project I began to organize this week. It's a wiki for Boise. It will be modeled on the absolutely fabulous Davis Wiki, but we'll be doing some structured experiments on public history themes as well. I'll also be watching to see what happens when we give members of the public a relatively easy-to-use platform and invite them to create pages on topics of interest to them, as well as edit others' pages. I'm still working on some domain-mapping issues and getting the site ready for launch, but I'll share the link with you when it's ready for a soft launch. There's also some grant writing I need to do related to this project, so it will keep me very busy next semester.
  • I'm really happy here. Like crazy happy. I like the students and adore my colleagues.

Research and Writing

  • Goal #1 for the new semester: Revise an article that was deemed very interesting, but "not a good fit" for one journal, and submit it to one (which I've already identified) that is both a better fit for the article and, really, for my work more generally.
  • Goal #2: Gather and process materials for another article. This will likely involve travel to archives in Northern and/or Southern California.
  • Goal #3: Use materials from Goal #2 to craft a chapter to replace one in my dissertation. I'm aiming to have a draft of a book based on my dissertation by the end of summer 2012.


  • I attended Friends meeting again, and I'll likely be going again this Sunday, er, First Day.
  • I've been adding blogs by Quakers from across much of the Friends spectrum--from liberal, unprogrammed Friends to orthodox plain folk--to my RSS reader. I've also been lurking on the forums at QuakerQuaker.
  • As I wrote in my initial blog post about recent developments in my faith journey, what I suspected would happen did indeed come to pass: some folks are seeing my attendance at Quaker meetings as a sign I'm going to be "born again"--that Friends meetings are but a first step toward my permanent embrace of their own denomination. This is incredibly frustrating for me--like I-want-to-scream frustrating because of the arrogance and presumption.
  • In case any such people are reading this blog, allow me to say this: I'm committed to the Friends for now. If that doesn't work out, I'll likely take some path through Unitarian Universalism, the United Church of Christ, and the United Methodists, with a seasoning of Daoism. Any church that uses the phrase "Bible-believing" as a primary way of differentiating its members is not even on the list. I don't mean any offense to friends or blog readers who attend such churches; it's just not my path, and I don't want anyone to have any delusions that it ever will be.
  • Another sign that the Friends General Conference may be a good home for me: the yearly meeting takes place at my alma mater. Out of all the tiny towns in the U.S., they pick one that matters tremendously deeply to me. I haven't checked to see how the meeting jibes with my summer teaching schedule, but the seed has been planted. . .


  • I've been watching The Wire. Fang has all five seasons on DVD, and I'm one episode from finishing season 4. It took me half a season to appreciate the series, but now I give it my highest recommendation. The writing and character development are impressive.
  • Because of how busy I've been, this year's Christmas shopping is being (literally) brought to us by Amazon Prime. How I adore that program!
  • I need to get back with the Weight Watchers program. After initially losing 15 pounds, I've put a few pounds back on because I became lax about counting points. I eased myself back into it today by having meals that I know are reasonable, but I didn't count the points. Tomorrow I'll begin accounting for points again, which will initially be a headache under the new points system, but I'll adapt.
  • Lucas went in for his annual well-child check-up, where he was treated to five separate vaccinations. I had, finally, the new Tdap vaccine for adults. Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while know I had some whooping cough fun earlier this year; I was also diagnosed with pertussis a few years back. The injection site on my arm is still sore, so I can only imagine what Lucas's legs must feel like, as he was due for another round of DTaP, chickenpox, and MMR vaccines; a polio booster; and--according to his records, though I vaguely remember him already having one--his first Hep A shot. The clinic staff were terrific, though; the entire sequence of vaccines--administered by two nurses synchronizing the injections--took less than 45 seconds. Still, it's not easy to hear him howling with every new stab of the needle.
  • I went to a birthday party with Lucas last night and connected with some more local parents. That's a very good thing.
What are you up to these days? Toss me some random bullets in the comments.


Andy Jones said...

* Our Christmas tree is up, if a bit lopsided, and it is well-adorned with lights and ornaments. Geneva and Truman have enjoyed decorating it, with all the breakable ornaments placed near the top. Jukie has done a mostly good job of not vandalizing the decorations, but of course the ones we care about, or the dangerous ones, are up beyond his reach. To him the living room resembles a Christmas museum, and we are the guards.

Laura said...

Sounds truly wonderful. I'm so glad to hear you're in a good place--physically and mentally. Things are pretty darn good here, as you know. I am looking forward to the break, though. I need to recharge my batteries so I can face some serious buckling down next semester. And, can I tell you nice it is to have the summers off? It's way nice. :)

Anonymous said...

My heart sings to hear you say that you are crazy happy. It is a wonderful feeling to find your place in the world and know that you are where you need to be.

Anonymous said...

This is a lovely post. I just have to say that I find it completely bizarre the assumptions people are making about your faith journey. I mean, if you actually talk to people about their faith, you figure out pretty quickly that people's spirituality often takes a really quirky, idiosyncratic path. So the idea that a Friends meeting (of all things) is going to lead you to a Bible church? I'm just confused.

Anyway, I'm certainly interested to hear where you go from here because, really, it could be anywhere at this point.

Susan M said...

How I love spiritual journeys! Good for you!

On my own plate:
Now that I've quit one of my (three) jobs, I can finally get back to that dissertation proposal. For one of my other jobs at the research center on women & gender, I'm preparing to do oral history interviews of local women activists & am super excited about it.

stacey said...

Hoping your Southern California travels lead you to our neck of the woods...

johnson said...
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