Archive for the ‘School’ Category

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Fun night

October 23, 2009

Met with a few of my classmates from ENGL505 as well as Prof. Krause this evening down at The Corner Brewery, and a fun time was had by all. I like having the chance to meet my classmates in person, and I sincerely doubt I’ll ever have an online course where I don’t take the time to go in to meet the instructor at least once. As convenient as the online format is, I think it’s important to have face time as well. I’m convinced that the interactions online can only be improved once you’ve had a chance to just sit and chat for a while.

Beer, of course, is a helpful addition.

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Kenneth Burke has broken my brain

October 18, 2009

Send help, soonest.

On the non-brain-breaking end of the scale is Elisabeth Alford, whose Thucydides and the Plague in Athens: The Roots of Scientific Writing is the very model of readability. Her prose is clear and to the point. More importantly, I don’t have to reference my dictionary every other line. Elisabeth, I’m giving you a 4-star rating.

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Around town

October 11, 2009

I took D to see The Lens of Impressionism: Photography and Painting Along the Normandy Coast, 1850–1874 at the U of M Museum of Art yesterday. It was an interesting exhibit and worth a visit, but man, oh man did the lighting designer screw up on one of the walls. The lights are situated in such a way that there’s a heavy shadow from the top edge of the frames intruding on the paintings themselves. These shadows are so intrusive that at first, it looks as though they’re a part of the painting. I’m calling it a mistake, because paintings on the other three walls don’t have this problem — it’s only the one wall.

Aside from those issues, there were a great many photographs and paintings of Normandy, and what was interesting was how the curator set it up so that the viewer could see the same general image, but from the perspective of multiple artists/photographers. Oddly, it was whilst we were looking at these that I finally understood why Plato (via Socrates) was against art, because it doesn’t accurately portray reality — it portrays the artist’s singular vision of a reality that doesn’t encompass the whole. One of the photographers — Davanne, I think — deliberately framed one of his images of Étratat so that only the fishing boats and ramshackle buildings could be seen. According to the accompanying information, he wanted very much to convey the sense that this small fishing village still retained its rural character despite the fact that beyond the framing, there was actually a fairly large tourist town complete with hotels and casinos.

The stupid thing is, I’ve known this forever, but I didn’t make the connection until yesterday. And the same is true of writing — it doesn’t encompass the whole of the writer’s thoughts, it only conveys a very small and specific portion of the writer’s thoughts. But that’s okay. It really shouldn’t do more than that, because honestly? My brain is a scary enough place as it is, and I don’t think anyone else needs to be rooting around in there. Anyway, it was my little epiphany for the weekend, and I’m happy with it.

Finally, to the campus planners at the University of Michigan: handicap accessible restrooms means that anyone can get through the door, not just the able-bodied. Your restrooms in the basement of the new section of the UMMA pretty much fail this basic test of usability. Hell, I had trouble opening the damn doors, and I’m a healthy adult. D, who is 88 years old and who uses a motorized scooter to get around, could not get into and out of the men’s room without help. Add the electric openers already, would you?

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Plato, oh Plato.

September 17, 2009

I’m reading Plato’s Gorgias, and my initial impression of Socrates in this piece is that he’s a bit of a prick. Gorgias doesn’t come across much better, because he should be able to see Socrates coming from a mile off, but no, he’s letting himself be led down the primrose path, seemingly unaware of the charnel house at the end.

[settles in with popcorn]

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Grumble-mumble

September 14, 2009

I truly hope my textbook for ENGL428 arrives when Amazon claims it will (September 16, for the record), because at the moment, the US Postal Service  is disavowing all knowledge of the tracking number Amazon sent me.

Grr. Argh.

Also, I have a cold, thanks to the little germ traps children who frequent the library. I am to be pitied and made much of.

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Frakkin’ meow

September 12, 2009

I’m writing up my pencil instructions using — yes — a pencil. And I hurt, because carpal tunnel syndrome is the worst. Anyway, two pages down and another four or five to go before I’m finished. It’s due on Wednesday, so if I do a couple of pages a day, I think I can keep my hand and wrist from freaking out too badly. I could dose myself with a dram from my whisky shelf and keep my muscles relaxed enough to write longer, but based on the half of a glass of wine I had while writing out page two, that’s probably not a good idea. Had to use the eraser a few too many times, eh?

~*~*~

It’s Saturday night, and the Sci Fi Channel (I refuse point blank to use that ridiculous new spelling) has a ridiculous and no doubt cheesy movie coming up at 9 p.m. It’s called Lightning Strikes, and I won’t even bother pulling it up on IMDB.com, because Kevin Sorbo stars, and that right there is pretty much the kiss of death in terms of a project having even a small degree of credibility.

Yeah, okay, sentient killer lightning, which is the protagonist in this masterpiece of cheese, is probably the greater sin than Kevin Sorbo, but seriously, the premise plus the actor? Equals bad and badder.

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Productive? Maybe.

September 3, 2009

I’ve started reading On Rhetoric by Aristotle. I haven’t gotten to the text of the translation yet — I’ve only read through the Introduction and am partway through Kennedy’s intro to Book 1, Chapter 1 — but so far, the information seems to be much of what I already know but am now getting the vocabulary to explain what I know. This is a good thing, but until I get my brain into the swing of the language, it will also be a mildly painful thing.

At least I feel like I’m doing something. This three-week break between semesters is for the birds. Seriously. I’m practically climbing the walls right now, and that’s even with a very tiny part-time job to occupy two percent of my brain (I’m a page at the local library, and for what I’m getting in compensation, it kind of feels like volunteer work; on the other hand, I get to take advantage of the library discount when ordering books, so that’s all to the good).

Is it September 9 yet?