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Posts Tagged ‘Academics’

Dear William Shakespeare:

May I call you Wills (like a famous best man)? I feel like I’ve gotten to know you better over the past few days. (And you have a beard, which I like.)

My university has a special week-long “school” for professors to do a deep dive into a text to help us better teach it to students. I signed up for “Othello,” as it is even more relevant today (and I hadn’t read it since I was at this university the first time as a student). (Best part: Watching the Mekhi Phifer/Julia Stiles/Josh Hartnett movie version as homework.)

Anyway, you wrote certain lines in your other plays that people really love and quote all the time. Yet I found some in “Othello” that I’m going to start using regularly:

“Being full of supper and distempering draughts, upon malicious bravery dost thou come to start my quiet?”

I plan to use Brabantio’s line (Act 1, Scene 1) the next time Darryl rings the doorbell after 9 p.m.

“O, gentle lady, do not put me to’t, for I am nothing if not critical.”

I’ll channel Iago (Act 2, Scene 1) with Miles’ mom at the pool this weekend.

“I have drunk but one cup tonight, and that was craftily qualified too, and behold what innovation it makes here!”

Cassio knows a good drinking line when he speaks it (Act 2, Scene 3). As do I. Speaking of drinking …

“I learned it in England, where indeed they are most potent in potting.”

Indeed. Iago speaks the truth (Act 2, Scene 3) about folks drinking in a big way.

“Ha, I like not that.”

Iago delivers a line (Act 3, Scene 3) that is perfect for a variety of occasions.

So thanks for putting words in my mouth. It may have been hard to be the bard, but your efforts still resonate more than 400 years later.

Yours in all kindness,
Beth

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Dear Content Providers*:

To avoid annoying people who care about the English language (i.e., me), please learn how to use apostrophes, when to use “I” and when to use “me,” and what spelling of the word you need for your sentence.

Auntie Beth is here to help. Again.

 

1. Apostrophes

As I have explained before, apostrophes have two uses: to show possession (of things or people, but not by demons) and to show that a letter is missing (sometimes forming contractions).

What the older-looking Faddel (above) should have written is:

“19 years old, financially stable, in shape, family’s healthy.”

That would mean his family is healthy. Instead, he has pluralized “family” and rendered the sentence nonsensical.

To pluralize, you DO NOT use an apostrophe. Ever. (Please stop making me have to explain this.) Perhaps Tybee Island lifeguards are spending all their time training for beach emergencies and not worrying about punctuation, but I believe in clarity.

2. I vs. me

Here it is, one more time with feeling: Use “I” when you are referring to the subject of the sentence, “me” when you are referring to the object. The linguistics scholar above should have known better. She shouldn’t feel too awful though; even Lady Gaga gets it wrong:

3. Homonyms

Homonyms are words that sound alike but are spelled differently.

Trump is not the only one who has trouble with this if my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds are any indication. Please consider carefully which version of the word you need. I don’t want to have to keep going over this.

Thank you so much.

You’re (not “your”) a peach!
Beth

*By this I mean anyone who maintains a social media account, prepares signs, writes to someone else, etc.

Should be “teachers.”

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Dear Famous, Sort-of-famous, Barely-famous and some Just-contextually-famous People:

If I like you and your work, I have no game when I’m around you. None. Just ask Patrick Warburton.*

Forgive me when I report that I’ve had three super fangirl moments that have left me feeling like I need a confessional. And perhaps professional help.

To The Bloggess (aka Jenny Lawson):
I squealed like a toddler getting an Elsa doll when you followed me on Twitter. I’m sorry to all whose glasses I shattered and dogs I made howl.

To Steven Ray Morris, audio slave engineer for the “My Favorite Murder” podcast featuring Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark:
I may have hyperventilated when you liked my reply to you.**

To Dr. Brightman, the person who helped me become the writer I am:
I apologize for vomiting words all over you at your recent birthday celebration. My respect for you is directly proportional to the amount of geeking out I was doing after seeing you again 1020 many years after college graduation.

Me=Overjoyed; Dr. Brightman=Frightened? Bothered? Bored?

So, fair warning: If you meet me, I tend to act like a Golden Retriever. I’m sorry.

I promise I’m harmless.

Your No. 1 fan,
Beth

* Warburton was a guest of the Savannah Film Festival just before the live-action version of “The Tick” came out. Always a Puddy fan, I was an even bigger fan of Ben Edlund and “The Tick” animated series. I was at an after party, saw him standing by himself, got two beers and headed over to introduce myself. He shot me down hard by explaining he was on the wagon. (Mortifying Moment No. 1)

As I was working in PR related to the festival at the time, I gave him my card with my cell number on it in case he needed anything. Then I realized it seemed like I was hitting on him. (Mortifying Moment No. 2)

I couldn’t just let the moment go. No. I had to make it worse by SAYING, “I’m not hitting on you.” (Mortifying Moment No. 3)

I will never forget the way he looked at me:

Pity. Disgust. Amusement. All of that.

And this is me, just before slinking away:

** For you non-Murderinos out there, the tag line of the podcast is “Stay sexy, and don’t get murdered.”

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Dear Trump, GOP and NRA assholes representatives,

I am a teacher, and I DO NOT want to carry a gun to class. I’m there to instruct, not take down a “bad guy.” (Armed teachers = unusually bad idea, even for you)

I have one goal in class: Teach. I work with college students, so they are paying my salary. My goal is to give them their money’s worth and more. I want to be the life-changing (life-saving in a different way) professor like Dr. Brightman was for me.

Part of my job is figuring out what each student needs (and I guarantee that it is not an AR-15 in their hands or mine).

Students usually come in a handful of personas. Here’s a field guide:

The Tracy Flick
Hand up first. Already has an A, but wants extra credit. “Overachiever” doesn’t even begin to encompass this student. Also can dissolve quickly if mastery doesn’t come easy.

The Ferris Bueller
Seems like he doesn’t care and isn’t paying attention, but he is smarter than the average bear. Often turns in the best work in the class without even trying.

The Jeff Spicoli
Sigh. What do you do about a student who is paying money to go to college, but is just a complete slacker? Love them anyway.

The Summer “Tinkerbell” Hathaway
This student is suspicious of you from the get-go, but you will slowly win her over if you do, in fact, know what you are talking about. And then she will try to push you to see how far she can go.

The Will Hunting
This student may appear to hate your guts during the class, but he will surprise you later on when he tells you that he learned so much from you. It is an unexpected, but joyful moment.

The John Bender
Hard candy shell with a liquid center. Seems confrontational, but is masking a deep-seated vulnerability. I love to see these kinds in five years when they are all well-adjusted and shit.

The Regina George
This student often is the most challenging because she has created a particular persona, and may resist your efforts to get her to think about anything/anyone other than herself. The trick is to help her figure out how to make assignments interesting enough to her so that she will enjoy doing them (thus learning in the process).

The Steve Stifler
Every female faculty member has this student’s number (meaning we know exactly who he is). No, we cannot have a meeting with my office door closed. No, we are not going together to the fraternity party Friday night. It’s great to see this student mature and even <gasp> get married.

The Sam Baker
This student is smart but can be quiet and thus overlooked. Pay attention to this one. Still waters run deep, as they say. This student often ends up being as close to you as students in the next category.

The Todd Anderson
With this student, you know early on that he/she will be in your life forever — and that is a good thing. You “get” them, they “get” you, and it is a lovely, symbiotic relationship. You start out as professor/student and morph into colleagues and friends later on. Some people in the aforementioned categories will end up in this one, and that is a lovely thing too.

I live to make a difference. And I live for notes like these:

That’s from a student who graduated five years ago. No surprise that she was a Todd.

I want to learn how to better reach every student. I do not want to learn how to better reach my gun.

I want to be accurate with grading. I do not want to be accurate with aim.

I want to get paid to carry full classes. I do not want to get paid to carry a gun.

Please, please, please find a different way to achieve the one goal we all want: peace in schools (and everywhere, for that matter). The answer is not arming teachers.

Thanks,
Beth

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12_Days_of_Christmas

Dear 16th-century Poet Who Wrote the “12 Days of Christmas”*:

I’d like to adapt your song to reference my life as a professor. I hope you don’t mind.

For space’s sake, we’ll skip to the last verse. Please sing to the tune of the standard arrangement by Frederic Austin.

On the 12th day of Christmas, my students gave to me:

12 “strongly agree”s
11 alumni notes
10 brilliant comments
9 rec. requests
8 mangled clauses
7 late-night emails
6 Twitter retweets
5 bacon links
4 lame excuses
3 “utilize”s
2 ampersands
And pride in a job well done!

(They drive me crazy, but I love them just the same.)

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Sincerely,
Beth

*No one knows for sure who wrote it.

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Dear Dr. G:

Hello, and I hope you are doing well since I last saw you at AEJMC. I’ve been thinking about you lately for a strange reason.

You once called me a dilettante, which made me mad at the time. It wasn’t really accurate for the situation (as I recall, you were upset with me because you wanted me to focus solely on my doctoral work, but I wanted to keep my full-time job, you know, so I could eat and have shelter).

La dilettante

I know your heart was in the right place, and that you were, in your own way, showing confidence in my ability to do scholarly research full time.

Though it may seem like I am a dabbler, it’s not that at all. It’s the opposite, actually. I throw myself into something fully, learn as much as I can, then I move on to something else. More short attention span than dilettante.

sorry-attention-span-length-apology-ecard-someecards

That’s why I have five degrees (yes, five). It is also why my résumé looks like the life of eight different people.

If I could, I’d have more jobs (in addition to the one I have now, which I love). Some of these jobs include:

  • Flight attendant (A waitress in the sky? Yes!)
  • Travel writer
  • Tour guide for some exotic location
  • Cruise ship social director or bartender  (like Julie or Isaac from The Love Boat)
  • Personal chef (Wait … I think I already am.)
  • Character actress (like Rebel Wilson)
  • Personal assistant to someone nearly crazy (Think of the stories I could tell!)
  • NBC page (that’s one of those unfulfilled college ideas)
  • Beta tester for games
  • Game show host
  • Full-time employee at my university’s study-abroad campus in France (!)
  • Owner of a craft brewery
  • PR executive for Disney
  • Train conductor
  • State senator

Maybe Santa can bring me new names for my contact list to help me accomplish my goals.

So yes, I am interested in many things. Dilettante? No. Focused? Yes, for periods of time. Game show host? I can only hope. Thanks for helping me in one of my pursuits.

Anyway, happy holidays, and I look forward to seeing you in Washington, D.C.

Sincerely,
Beth, Aspirational Polymath

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Dear Readers,

On this day of thanksgiving, I want to share with you the (admittedly random) things for which I am thankful, beyond the usual gratefulness for family, friends and health. I am thankful for (in no particular order):

  1. A husband who isn’t a lazy, fat slob (even if he has gone too far the other way and joined the Crossfit Cult)
  2. Artistic children
  3. The Avengers (specifically Thor and Iron Man)
  4. The ability to visit friends in far-flung places such as Abu Dhabi
  5. A job that I love
  6. Funny and talented colleagues
  7. The words “qi,” “za” and “jo” that are so handy in Words With Friends
  8. Apple (in our house: iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, MacBook Air, two iPads, two MacBook Pros and stock in Apple for obvious reasons)
  9. Bacon
  10. Stan Lee
  11. Adobo seasoning
  12. Full-coverage underwear
  13. Crocs (I know they are butt-ugly, but they are so useful)
  14. This
  15. Honey Boo Boo
  16. Puréed pumpkin in the freezer awaiting pie-making at Christmas
  17. Stephen King and his gloriously messed-up imagination
  18. Parker’s growlers
  19. Facebook and Twitter
  20. The word “moist” (A polarizing word, “moist,” but perfectly descriptive)

Here is what I could do without:

  1. The word “penetration” used in sports
  2. Any recent Patricia Cornwell books
  3. Poetry (Sorry.)
  4. Thongs
  5. Green peppers
  6. Mosquitoes, flies, sand gnats, telemarketers, talk show hosts and other pesky creatures
  7. The 24-hour news cycle that causes the focus to be on the salacious rather than the serious
  8. Men who don’t trim their ear and nose hair
  9. Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr
  10. Any of the “real housewives”
  11. Burlap
  12. Strip malls
  13. Steven Seagal
  14. Fad diets such as Paleo, Zone, Atkins, etc. (just eat more fruits and vegetables, fewer sugary things, and exercise more, people!)
  15. Boys’ pants with unreinforced knees
  16. Knickknacks
  17. Chicago Manual of Style
  18. Anthony Bourdain
  19. Golf
  20. “Talking points” instead of just talking

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
Beth

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