Thursday, March 25, 2010

In which Alice writes very little about running...

It's Three Things Thursday (or so I've read)

Item 1 - Writing Instruction
As you all know, I teach developmental English at the local CC...Developmental English is code speak for "Bonehead" or "Remedial" English. Really, I don't judge... There are lots of reasons why people get through public school, and heck, through life, and don't know how to write very well. Some might even say I would be among them... Have you seen how many times I rely on parentheticals and ellipses to make a point. What kind of lame-ass writing is that?

So, this past week, I was teaching students how to use specific and vivid examples in their writing,* and I was using a model essay from the textbook to illustrate how to use effective examples.  This particular model is from an article that was, according to the textbook, published in Health Magazine in July/August 2001.** It's about how scents have a psychological effect. The first paragraph is about how scents can boost confidence, and it gives some examples of how athletes who were given something to smell had measurable changes in heart rate and blood pressure, which led to better performance.***

The second paragraph in the article reads:

Other scents have the effect of calming us down. When you're anxious, sniff something that you will associate with a more relaxed time in your life, suggests Will A Wiener, PhD., a psychologist and director of the Institute for Performance Enhancement in Manhattan.

Seriously... WILL A. WIENER?  Director of the Institute of PERFORMANCE ENHANCEMENT?

I think the textbook company is just effing with me.

I am so ready for spring break.

Item 2 - Comedy Workout
A few months ago, Irene loaned me a set of P90X CDs, and they sat on my bookshelf. This week I started (with much, much, much help from Mel, who swears the workout, and has been really happy with the results, 'so I figure, why not) to workout with them.

They're good comedy. I started on Monday with the "Back and Chest" CD, which required me to do pushups of various kinds--regular; wide stance; military; inverted (feet on a chair); hands together in a diamond; and one particularly elegant one which is sorta a combination of the yoga position, downward facing dog, to a pushup, to a cobra stretch.

Would you like to know how many "girl" pushups I can actually do.

I can do 2...sorta...but it's not pretty.

Mel promises me that I'll get better, but for now, I'm glad that there was nobody watching me.

Item 3 - Play Week
My kids are again in a youth theater production. This year they are doing Peter Pan (I think I've written for the last three years about my kids participation in this), which pretty much means our lives are upended this week and our total existence revolves around getting kids to the theater, picking them up from the theater, and being at the theater to watch them perform.

The whole cast...that is a kid hoisted up on wires playing Peter Pan. It's a pretty amazing production.

DramaGirl after opening night last night...Turbo was OUT OF THERE so fast, I didn't get a photo of him as a pirate...but no fear, there are more performances this weekend. I'll get a shot eventually.

* To be honest, I never really get why making up examples is so difficult.

Thesis: I had a crappy run

Examples: Let me describe to you through endless concrete, specific, and detailed examples, the complete and total extent of that particular crappiness****.

What's so difficult about that?

** Even though it is full of excellent and entertaining examples, I could never use examples from Glaven's blog because he uses lines like Fuckety, fuck, fuck, fucking fuck, and even though this is a college class, that would still probably not fly. 

*** So, if we all start sniffing ourselves or each other before a race, does that mean we will run better? I think someone should test this hypothesis this weekend. I would, but I'll be at the theater.

****If you need a model really good examples, look at Glenn's blog in which he thoroughly and convincingly details his experiences running the LA marathon. I'm thinking of using it as a model for future classes. Can I Glenn? And yes, I just footnoted a footnote. What of it?*****

*****GAH! (for you G)


  1. I proudly submit my comment on this post of GQH's.

    You've got everything in there, and no fuckety fuck fucks. You're welcome. Oh, wait, there's n*ts@ckery.

    I do not envy you trying to teach remedial English. 99.99% of what most people read is very very bad examples of written English. (Then we have tweets, which aren't even English.) Part of the problem is that reading requires an attention span that's measured in units longer than microseconds.

    Those P90X's are a cruel hoax. The only reason people don't ask for their money back is that they've shredded their arms and everything else so badly they can't write and ask.

  2. So are you telling me if I get a whiff of a "wacky tobacky" cigarette, it will take me to a much more relaxed place than where I'm at right now??!!!! SWEEEEEEEEEEET!!

    Good luck with the P90X!

    BTW..for the record, my high school graduated 5 students who couldn't read or write basics-that was back in 19....oh hell who needs to know the year right?!!! Just plain wrong to do!

  3. Wow, sister, this post had nearly everything: vivid examples; footnotes; footnoted footnotes; a surprise, tiny-lettered "GAH!" (I did NOT see that coming - THAT'S WHAT SHE SAID!1!); advice on writing; Kanada Keef whoo-wering for his own comments, which is okay because if people follow his link, it'll take them to MY fuckity-fucking blog, which will make ME feel popular and THEM feel as though their eyes had been @$$-raped, assuming they can read; girl push-ups; actual drama (not in the I'm-on-the-edge-of-my-seat-expecting-every-moment-to-be-my-nest drama, but THEATRE drama!) ...

    The only thing it lack was sufficient information to answer the central question it posed:

    Will a wiener what?

    Because I have a wiener, and there's very little it WON'T do, but there ARE one or two things ... and so I can't answer the musical question "Will a Wiener ...?" as posed. Even though I'm dying to.

    Please learn to finish your -

  4. O, fuckity fuck! That should be "every-moment-to-be-my-next"!

    You grade our comments on a curve, I hope.

  5. First of all....GLAVEN???!!!! I thought he dropped off the face of the earth and I didn't know he had a NEW blog. **happy dancing that I can go back to stalking him** That will teach me for working so much!

    The paragraph with Will A. Wiener damn near killed me. hahahaha that is awesome.

  6. Ha ha! I'm blushing now. Feel free to use my blog. And in case anyone says that writing isn't important because they are technical (codespeak for an engineer) remind them that I am one too.

    Will I need to write in complete sentences now?

  7. Hi. My name is Irene and I'm a lame-ass writer.

    You can KEEP those copies of P90X. I ended up with a second set. You will improve over time. Really. I swear. If I can figure how to copy the books without using a ton of toner (dark pages with white print) I'll get those to you, too.

    Cool pic of the Peter Pan cast! That's through JT, right?

    "When you're anxious, sniff something that you will associate with a more relaxed time in your life."
    What if you can't remember a more relaxed time in your life?

    Hmmm... I wonder if anyone has done a blog post with more footnotes?

  8. I have forever said - I am not and will never be a Mrs. Wiener. Seriously, you change that shit. It's not hard! Maybe the wiener is tho...

  9. You just crack me up, your sense of humor is a killer but you aren't too sophisticated if you enjoyed my rabbit heads and a kids' production of Peter Pan. By the way, those kinds of plays and musicals are usually the best. Drama girl has the best smile:) !

  10. that P90x is no joke. Awesome that you are taking that on...looking forward to getting your perspective on it once you've gotten to teh 30,60,and 90 day marks....good luck young skywalker!

  11. I am still 2 weeks out for spring break....*le sigh*

    My favorite student writing is when I try to teach them scientific writing after YEARS of essays. You get gems like this

    "Photosynthesis is a integral, yet fascinating, phenomenon that brings together both the beauty and functionality of life..."

    Oh, for f*ck's sake! *head slap*

    I hope you are on break this week!

  12. Well, I don't think we are supposed to smell *ourselves* before we run - I mean, I know that I personally skimp on deodorant on race morning, so that could be pretty bad...