Monday, May 31, 2010

Booking It--Bedside

What books do you have next to your bed right now? How about other places in the house? What are you reading?

I think these pictures, and the columns on the left-hand side of my blog, might answer the question. The ladder bookcase is my nightstand. To the right are the books beside my chair. The rest of my books are in different places around the house. Oh, and this doesn't even show all the books in my office.












Saturday, May 29, 2010

What I'm Reading Now

Although Cornwell's last few novels haven't been as good as the earlier ones, I'm too attached to the characters to give up on them now.

F

"Bestseller Cornwell's solid 17th thriller to feature Dr. Kay Scarpetta (after Scarpetta) finds Scarpetta—who's the senior forensic analyst for CNN—probing the murder of a Central Park jogger as well as looking into the disappearance of Hannah Starr, a wealthy financial planner. Quizzed on-air about previously undisclosed details of the perplexing Starr case, Scarpetta realizes that the tentacles of the case reach further than she imagined. Her niece, forensic computer whiz Lucy Farinelli, has her own reasons for digging into Starr's disappearance, along with Lucy's girlfriend, New York County ADA Jaime Berger. NYPD Det. Pete Marino, another series staple, is also in the loop as a member of Berger's task force. But it's the dark past of Scarpetta's psychologist husband, Benton Wesley—particularly his presumed death in Point of Origin and shocking reappearance five years later in Blow Fly—that binds the disparate pieces together and make this one of Cornwell's stronger recent efforts." --Publishers Weekly

Friday, May 28, 2010

Touche'


I've been around farming all my life. My Dad's a farmer, and one who didn't think twice about giving a hard, dirty job to a girl, either. No quarter there. And my husband's a farmer. He has more mercy on me than my Dad did, but still. I'm no stranger to farm-related chores.

The other evening, my husband was loading seed. Now, seed is very expensive. People will steal it, and rain will ruin it, so he keeps it locked up in the shop until he's ready to plant it. Then, each evening he loads down the trailer with the seed he'll need the next day and backs his loaded trailer into the shop, closing the door down as far as it will go to protect the seed.

I sat there, on top of one of the pyramids of seed sacks he'd already loaded, watching him move two 50 pound bags at a time from a pallet in the shop onto the trailer. He was dripping sweat; I was rather comfortable, sitting there enjoying the view and the nice evening breeze.

As I am wont to do, I started thinking. "I wonder," I mused aloud, "how much of my life I've spent sitting on sacks of seed?"

Without missing a beat, my husband replied, "A lot more time than you've spent loading them."

Ouch.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

. . . To This


So, what all did we do? First, we laid a small stone patio off the back of the raised one. Then, we landscaped all around it with crepe myrtles on the west end (which we hope will, in the not-too-distant future, provide shade in the late afternoon and evenings), encore azaleas, firepower nandinas, and mountain snow pierises. We bought urns for the top of the columns and large pots for the stone patio, and we filled them with gorgeous red geraniums.

Of course, this patio-laying and landscaping required multiple trips to Home Depot in Cabot, where we loaded stones, and retaining wall blocks, and capstones, and edging stones onto carts, then loaded them into the back of the truck, then unloaded them from the back of the truck, then lugged them into place (or at least I lugged--my husband seemed to find it much easier to move all that heavy stuff).

A lot of work, but you know the upside? You can skip your weightlifting that day without feeling any guilt. You get a good tan. You feel a great sense of satisfaction when you survey the work that you've done, and that good feeling returns every time you enjoy the new outdoor living space you've created. And, you save a lot of money.

Another thing-- After several consecutive years of intense mental labor, it felt really good to spend a couple of weeks doing physical work instead. Although both types of work are hard, honorable, and make you tired, the tiredness is very different. When I spend whole days reading and/or writing I may accomplish a lot, but at the end of the day my brain is exhausted, my eyes won't focus, and my body feels awful. I usually have a headache, and I'm kind of sick to my stomach. Often, I don't sleep very well--I keep waking up thinking about what I haven't finished or some new idea that suddenly pops into my head. On the other hand, after a day of physical labor, my muscles may ache, but it's a good feeling. My vision's sharp, my head's clear, and nobody has to rock me to sleep.

Here are the results of our labors:




Wednesday, May 26, 2010

From This . . .

We are a family of do-it-yourself-ers. Oh, it doesn't always start out that way. Here's how it usually goes:

1. Decide we want something done.
2. Get a professional to give us an estimate.
3. Be shocked by the incredibly high estimate.
4. Decide that we can do it ourselves.

We did a lot of things ourselves when we were building our house. My husband did all the wiring and plumbing, and we worked together doing all the painting and laying the hardwood floors. And of course we weren't about to pay someone fifteen or twenty dollars an hour to clean up after the carpenters, so we did all that too.

The house was finished in January and we were in a hurry to move in, so the outside--lawn, flowerbeds, etc.--was not completed when we moved in. The first summer, we seeded the yard, poured sidewalks around the front and sides of the house, and landscaped those flower beds. The next summer, I designed a deck for the back of the house, and our oldest son built it (I'm sorry I don't have pictures of the completed deck to show off his excellent craftsmanship). We had not yet landscaped around the deck, though, when disaster struck.

We'd gone to early church one Sunday, come home and grilled out for lunch, and then had gone into town. Somehow, the air vent on the bottom of the grill came open, spilling hot coals out onto the deck, catching it on fire. If not for a wonderful neighbor who cared enough to stop and check as he was driving by and saw the smoke, we'd probably have lost our home. As it was, it destroyed the deck and did some damage to the back of the house, as you can see in the pictures below (The white stuff in the pictures is not snow--it's the foam sprayed by the fire department).

Anyway, to make a long story short, we tore down the deck and took a year to decide what to put in its place. We decided on a raised patio, drew out our plan, got an estimate, recovered from the shock of it, and began work on it late last summer. The only problem was, by the time it was finished, there was no patio furniture to be had (unless we wanted to pay thousands of dollars for it as a specialty store, which we didn't) and no plants left to landscape with.

So, this summer's project was to complete the patio, which we spent the first two weeks of my summer break doing. Tune in tomorrow for pictures of the completed project.





Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Christian Scholars' Conference 2010


Christian Scholars’ Conference 2010 Beauty in the Academy: Faith, Scholarship and the Arts
June 3-5, 2010
Lipscomb University, Nashville, Tennessee

I've really got to get back to work!

Since the semester's been over, I've been doing two things: landscaping (pictures coming soon) and reading for pleasure. But now, it's time to get back to work, at least for a little while. I'm presenting in two different panels at this year's Christian Scholars' Conference:

Paper and Panel Session I:

Mark A. Elrod, Harding University, Convener: “Social Networking and Christian Education”

  • Jeff Baker, Thomas Goode Jones School of Law School: Panelist
  • Edward Carson, Houston Christian High School: Panelist
  • Stephanie Eddleman, Harding University: Panelist
  • Michael Lasley, Pepperdine University: Panelist
  • Jim Miller, Harding University: Panelist


Paper and Panel Session III

Larry Long, Harding University, Convener: “Beauty, Goodness and Value in the Anglo-American Literary Tradition”

  • Leland Ryken, Wheaton College: “Valuing What God Values: The Persistence of Beauty in Christian Aesthetics”
  • Stephanie Eddleman, Harding University: “Physical Beauty in Jane Austen: The Intersection of Aesthetics and Faith”
  • John Williams, Harding University: “’The Light by Which You See’: John Updike’s Antinomian Aesthetics”
Most of the work's already done (it's nice to get a little extra mileage out of that dissertation), but I've got some revising and editing to do. I'm really looking forward to this conference. It's one of the few that I go to that is cross disciplinary, and that certainly makes it more interesting. It's also a Christian conference that's not afraid to ask the hard questions. I find that refreshing.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Booking It--Useful


What’s the most useful book you’ve ever read? And, why?

Man, I don't know. Too broad a question for me today.

Sorry, folks.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Bye, Bye BlackBerry


A little over a week ago I upgraded from a BlackBerry to an iPhone. Of course, I love my new iPhone. With all those great apps, it's just plain fun to use. But that's not the main reason I'm liking it so much better than my BlackBerry. It has to do, you see, with that little red blinking light.

With the BlackBerry, every time I'd get a message--text or email--that little red light would start blinking. And, of course, I'd feel compelled to check it. That red light was a tyrant. The really bad thing was that it blinked for every message. You couldn't set it to distinguish between a text message (which I did want to know about because it was usually from my husband or kids) and an email (which I didn't always want to be alerted of, especially because a lot of emails on my HU account were "colleagues" emails which often had nothing to do with me, at least not in any immediate sense, or because I didn't always want to handle student emails on my off time but after having read them I couldn't quit thinking about them; and emails received through my yahoo account were mostly things I didn't want to have to sort through in my work account, like confirmations of orders or newsletters, i.e. nothing I needed to be "notified" about).

Now, on my iPhone, I'm still alerted when I have a text message; however, although I have ready access to my email accounts, there is no immediate alert. I forget about my email for hours at a time and check it only when I feel like it. In my quest for simplification, I'd thought of doing away with mobile email access, just because of the control it seemed to exert over me and the subsequent rise in stress level, but I hesitated to do so because having immediate access to email has often saved me a lot of time and trouble.

iPhone to the rescue . . .

Friday, May 21, 2010

What I'm Reading Now

I LOVE this series:

In the #1 New York Times bestseller Moscow Rules, Gabriel Allon brought down the most dangerous man in the world. But he made one mistake. Leaving him alive…

Over the course of a brilliant career, Daniel Silva has established himself as the “gold standard” of thriller writers (Dallas Morning News), a “master writer of espionage and intrigue” (The Cincinnati Enquirer), and the creator of “some of the most exciting spy fiction since Ian Fleming put down his martini and invented James Bond” (Rocky Mountain News). Now Silva takes that fiction—and his hero, the enigmatic art restorer and assassin Gabriel Allon—to a whole new level, delivering a riveting tale of vengeance that entertains as well as enlightens.

Six months after the dramatic conclusion of Moscow Rules, Gabriel has returned to the tan hills of Umbria to resume his honeymoon with his new wife, Chiara, and restore a seventeenth-century altarpiece for the Vatican. But his idyllic world is once again thrown into turmoil with shocking news from London. The defector and former Russian intelligence officer Grigori Bulganov, who saved Gabriel’s life in Moscow, has vanished without a trace. British intelligence is sure he was a double agent all along, but Gabriel knows better. He also knows he made a promise.

Do you know what we do with traitors, Gabriel? Many things have changed in Russia since the fall of Communism. But the punishment for betrayal remains the same. Promise me one thing, Gabriel. Promise me I won't end up in an unmarked grave.

In the days to come, Gabriel and his team of operatives will find themselves in a deadly duel of nerve and wits with one of the world's most ruthless men: the murderous Russian oligarch and arms dealer Ivan Kharkov. It will take him from a quiet mews in London, to the shores of Lake Como, to the glittering streets of Geneva and Zurich, and, finally, to a heart-stopping climax in the snowbound birch forests of Russia. Faced with the prospect of losing the one thing he holds most dear, Gabriel will be tested in ways he never imagined possible. And his life will never be the same.

Filled with breathtaking turns of plot and sophisticated prose, and populated by a remarkable cast of characters, The Defector is more than the most explosive thriller of the year. It is a searing tale of love, vengeance and courage created by the writer whom the critics call "the perfect guide to the dangerous forces shaping our world" (Orlando Sentinel). And it is Daniel Silva's finest novel yet.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Liar, Liar



According to a BBC report men are bigger liars than women, at least in Brittain:
In a poll of 3,000 people, researchers found that the average British man tells three lies every day, that's equivalent to 1,092 a year.

However the average woman appears more honest, lying 728 times a year - around twice a day.

Top lies for men:
1. I didn't have that much to drink
2. Nothing's wrong, I'm fine
3. I had no signal
4. It wasn't that expensive
5. I'm on my way
6. I'm stuck in traffic
7. No, your bum doesn't look big in that
8. Sorry, I missed your call
9. You've lost weight
10. It's just what I've always wanted

Top lies for women:
1. Nothing's wrong, I'm fine
2. I don't know where it is, I haven't touched it
3. It wasn't that expensive
4. I didn't have that much to drink
5. I've got a headache
6. It was in the sale
7. I'm on my way
8. Oh, I've had this ages
9. No, I didn't throw it away
10. It's just what I've always wanted

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Brontë Sisters Power Dolls


My friend Ian shared this video in a comment on my last "My Latest Listen" post about Anne Bronte's Agnes Grey. This video, however, is too good to stay hidden in the comments. Thanks, Ian!


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I Know You Think You Heard What I Said . . .


This was forwarded to me by a good friend and colleague, Mark Elrod, and, being the literary person
I am, I just had to post it. See what we English teachers are up against?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Booking It--Influence


Are your book choices influenced by friends and family? Do their recommendations carry weight for you? Or do you choose your books solely by what you want to read?

I don't read only books that have been recommended by friends and family, but their recommendations have often led me to some of the best novels I've ever read. I hate to think of books I'd have missed if someone hadn't steered me in their direction.

So, what book(s) do you recommend that I read? I'm open for suggestions.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Now That's Country

My husband is a farmer, and he also does laser land leveling and pond/reservoir construction. He often gets calls to look at locations and give estimates, and when I can, I ride with him. We've seen some really beautiful locations, places that make you want to build a little cabin and just hide away from the modern world. And sometimes, these back-roads excursions provide great photo ops, like these two shots. Yes, Bubba, the South still lives.


Friday, May 14, 2010

What I'm Reading Now


A Short Synopsis

When Daniel Stone was a child, he was the only white boy in a native Eskimo village where his mother taught, and he was teased mercilessly because he was different. He fought back, the baddest of the bad kids: stealing, drinking, robbing and cheating his way out of the Alaskan bush – where he honed his artistic talent, fell in love with a girl and got her pregnant. To become part of a family, he reinvented himself – jettisoning all that anger to become a docile, devoted husband and father. Fifteen years later, when we meet Daniel again, he is a comic book artist. His wife teaches Dante’s Inferno at a local college; his daughter, Trixie, is the light of his life – and a girl who only knows her father as the even-tempered, mild-mannered man he has been her whole life. Until, that is, she is date raped…and Daniel finds himself struggling, again, with a powerlessness and a rage that may not just swallow him whole, but destroy his family and his future.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

And You Would Want to Do This Because . . . ?

If you want to give yourself a nightmare, and you have an extra $9.99-$19.99 lying around for a "monthly content"
subscription, check out Make Me Old. Maybe it's a conspiracy to make you buy more Oil of Olay.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

My New Listen


Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Narrated by Nadia May
Length: 6 hrs 30 mins

Written when she was 26, Agnes Grey is Anne Bronte's first novel (published in 1847). It tells the story of a rector's daughter who has to earn her living as a governess. Drawing directly from her own experiences, Anne Bronte set out to describe the immense pressures that the governess' life involved: the frustration, the isolation, and the insensitive and cruel treatment on the part of employers and their families.

Too often, Anne Bronte has been portrayed as a saintly, self-effacing shadow of her elder sisters. But clearly she possessed resources of courage and determination equal to theirs, together with a sweetness that was all her own.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

They Just Don't Get It


I've been ranting lately about how students just don't get the connections between hard work, following directions, and their grade. Entitlement mentality rules. Here's further evidence. It's an actual student email, with certain details deleted to maintain the student's anonymity. All wording, spelling, punctuation, etc. is the student's.

"hey miss Eddleman. This is _____, I just check the Final score of mine for this semester, well, it was a D. but there is one thing that I'm planning to transfer to _____for this fall semester, and for the _____student requirement, I need to have a least a C for this class, so I can be able to get in to _____. I just want to know if there is anything that we can work it out to pumps my grade up to C? I know its tough, but I really need it.. so please let me know. Thxs"

I respectfully declined to change the grade. See how unreasonable I am?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Booking It--Half


So … you’re halfway through a book and you’re hating it. It’s boring. It’s trite. It’s badly written. But … you’ve invested all this time to reading the first half.

What do you do? Read the second half? Just to finish out the story? Find out what happens?

Or, cut your losses and dump the second half?



If the story's bad, the writing's bad, and there's no compelling reason to keep going, I'll put it down. Life's too short.

However, I don't always bail out on a book. If it's exceptionally well-written but the story's just not hooking me yet, I may stay with it. If it has come highly recommended but I'm just not getting it yet, I will probably stay with it. This happened to me recently while reading Wally Lamb's The Hour I First Believed. It was very well-written, and there was a lot I liked about it, especially the literary allusions and the ties to current events. But I didn't really like the main character, and the story was depressing me. But I kept going. It wasn't the best book I've ever read, but the story had a satisfying arc, and the author didn't take the easy way out. After finishing it, I was glad I'd hung in there.


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Twins

Today is two of my favorite people's birthday--my Mom and my aunt Marcia. They look a little bit different than this now, but I just love this picture. Happy Birthday to two amazing women!


Friday, May 7, 2010

Hooding in Mississippi


I'm headed to Ole Miss to be hooded tonight. It's kind of anticlimactic, since I defended my dissertation on July 15, 2009 and was considered an August '09 graduate, but they only have one ceremony a year, and I didn't want to miss it. I also can't wait to see some friends I haven't seen in nearly a year. My husband and I have decided to make a weekend out of it. I love Oxford, and any excuse to spend a little time there works for me.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Re: Tuesday's Post


When students who don't follow directions realize that they've earned a zero on their essay, what I often hear is this: "That's not fair! I worked too hard on this essay to get a zero! I deserve some points for all that work!"


So, I've been trying to think of some comebacks that they can understand (although I realize that they will still be angry, hate me forever, and believe that I am "unmerciful"). Here's my best one so far:


--Do you think that a referee would listen to a player who said, after a touchdown had been called back because of an offensive foul, "But I ran too hard not to get the points!!"


Got a great one to add to my list?


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

What I'm Reading Now


From Publishers Weekly:

Gudenkauf's tightly plotted debut packs a lot of unsavory doings into a few unfortunate summer days in Willow Creek, Iowa. Seven-year-old Calli Clark hasn't spoken a word in the three years since a particularly nasty run-in with her violent, wife-beating father, Griff. During a bender, Griff suddenly decides to haul his mute daughter into the nearby forest, where they get lost. At the same time, Calli's best friend Petra goes missing, and a manhunt is launched, led by deputy sheriff Loras Louis, who still carries a torch for Calli's mother. Gudenkauf moves the story forward at a fast clip and is adept at building tension. There's a particular darkness to her heartland, rife as it is with predators and the walking wounded, and her unsentimental take on the milieu manages to find some hope without being maudlin.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Please Read and Follow Instructions


Dead week almost killed me. Really. Besides the mountains of grading, I got to be the recipient of all that student wrath--and that's always much harder on me than the actual grading.

Dead week's about the time the students start to realize the ramifications (like, "But I'll lose my scholarship!" or "But I'll be kicked off the team!" or "But Mom & Dad will kill me!") of all those poor decisions they've been making all semester (like skipping class, not reading assigned texts, and failing to turn things in). And it's a whole lot easier to be angry at your professor than it is to admit that you're the cause of your own problems.


In Comp classes, the most important paper is usually the last one--the dreaded research paper. There are, of course, those nasty plagiarism issues. They are never fun to deal with. I usually hear "But I didn't know!"s, no matter how much I explain plagiarism in class, and I often see tears. Sometimes there are protests of innocence, even with the proof staring them in the face.


But the issue that gets me the most is students' refusal to read and follow directions. Now, because of past experience, both my syllabus and my Essay Assignment Sheets look surprisingly like legal documents. They include things like:


--Two scholarly sources are required. Failure to cite two scholarly sources will result in a grade of zero and your paper will not be graded.


--A Works Cited page is required. Failure to submit a Works Cited page will result in a grade of zero and your paper will not be graded.


--Photocopies of all sources with the borrowed information highlighted is required. Papers submitted without highlighted photocopies will receive a grade of zero and will not be graded.


--A plagairized paper will receive a grade of zero, with no opportunity to redo the essay.


--Your essay must be at least X# of pages long. If your paper is not a full X# of pages, it will receive a zero and your paper will not be graded.


You get the picture? OK.


So, not only do I spell out the requirements in detail, I also read the assignment out loud, explaining each requirement. I remind them during the process. THEN, on the last day of class before they submit their papers, I give them a checklist for editing and revision. Along with things like "Does your paper have a title? _____", I have questions like "Is your paper a full X pages long? _____ "and "Do you have a Works Cited page? _____" On the list is also "Have you included copies of your sources? _____ Remember, failure to submit copies of your sources will result in a failing grade." Notice the handy spot provided for their yes or no answers.


Elementary, my dear Watson. Or so you'd think.


But, no! I get papers that are half a page too short. I get papers with one source. I get papers turned in without photocopies of sources. And what grade do these papers get? Say it with me class: "Zero!" And to make matters worse, usually these students have written "yes" in every blank of that handy-dandy checklist that I've provided.


Now, here comes the worst part. Do you know whose fault those zeroes are? Are they the fault of those students who didn't read directions? Or who didn't listen in class? Or who assumed I didn't mean what I wrote and said? No! Of course not! It's MY fault. So students get angry and shout "Stupid class!" or slam doors or throw their papers all over the hall. One student told me that I just wasn't merciful.


Another student who hasn't managed to follow a direction all year told me she plans to major in nursing. I'm frightened.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Booking It--Restrictions


God comes to you and tells you that, from this day forward, you may only read ONE type of book–one genre–period, but you get to choose what it is. Classics, Science-Fiction, Mystery, Romance, Cookbooks, History, Business … you can choose, but you only get ONE.

What genre do you pick, and why?


That's hard! Professionally, I know I should pick classics, but for pleasure reading I'd choose mystery, hands down.

You?

Sunday, May 2, 2010