Category Archives: Professional Stuff

Checking in

I haven’t written much here lately. I’ve been busy, what with L now four months old and  H and I having returned to work.

We are in the process of buying a house for the first time. Like with the baby, this is occurring a little later in life for us than most folks, but it’s happening. We’re moving back to an area of Houston that we’ve lived in before, fairly far out – we’ve more or less given up on living closer in. Fortunately, we can afford a bigger house that way.

So three of my four goals for the year – baby, tenure, house, new car – are checked off. The car will have to wait a while longer, perhaps several years, while we get adjusted to home ownership.

I am running into some difficulty publishing my latest article. It may be too unabashedly argumentative in its current form to be palatable. We’ll see.


200 days

Recently earned the 200 days of survival achievement in The Long Dark.  I have enough rifle ammo hoarded to go for 300. Perhaps the makers of the game will add more achievements in a future build. In the meantime, I have bloody mastered your game.

Luke is growing and strong. He cries when he’s hungry and sleeps when he’s tired. These things constitute his job.

I’m settling up the grades for the spring right now. I think I did a great job in two courses and a good job in one other.

Got a promising R&R on a recent article, which is a very good sign. I may have some time to work on it later this month. June is going to busy with family activities, though. Max, my soon-to-be nephew, is imminent. I may have to do the lion’s share of the work in July, which is cutting it close.


I have my tenure letter in hand.  It is a yes.

In one sense, receiving it was somewhat anti-climatic, as it is the end result of a very long process that involved a considerable amount of hard work. So, the actual moment is not as transformative or exciting as some might think it, at least for me; rather, it is merely a bright point on a continuing line.

But it’s very nice to have in hand, I have to say, especially with Luke almost here.

Ferguson speech

The prosecutor in the Ferguson case, Robert McCulloch, gave a very interesting speech last night while announcing the grand jury’s decision. I am particularly interested in it because of the extensive use of moderating language, given that I have published a piece recently on moderation.

Over and over again, McCulloch stressed that the grand jury had worked extremely hard and that every piece of possible evidence had been extensively weighed and considered, and that the process was fair and impartial and had considered every angle. This must have been 90% of his prepared remarks and much of it predicated the actual announcement of the grand jury’s decision. The other 10% was criticizing the media. The announcement of the decision was almost anticlimactic given the amount of apology that preceded it.

Needless to say, all this moderating language as an apology for the decision could not have possibly succeeded. Ultimately the speech could do little more than reinforce the beliefs those who believed the shooting was justified, and anger those that thought the incident was some form of murder. In short, McCulloch was in a no-win situation, rhetorically – there is literally nothing he could have said that would change anyone’s reaction to the news. About the only way he could have done worse is to not give the speech at all.

It’s in, and other news

Yesterday was the due date for my tenure file. Now that it’s in, I can concentrate on teaching and on other projects.

I haven’t been writing here much lately, partially because I have starting keeping a private journal on my iPad where I can let loose about whatever, whereas here I am more circumspect.

One thing I would like to share today, though, is that over the summer when I wasn’t teaching, I wrote a novel. I would loosely characterize it as a post-apocalyptic adventure. The idea for it has been in my head for a few years, but I didn’t make the time for writing it until very recently. I haven’t marketed it to agents or publishers yet, as I have some friends reading it over and I would like their input first, but I plan to do so soon.

So that’s exciting, and I’m thinking that since I was able to crank one out relatively quickly during the summer break, writing several thousand words a day, I could conceivably write another next summer.  It wouldn’t affect my scholarly output because I use the long semesters, regardless of teaching load, to write that stuff, anyway.

Also, an important date is coming up tomorrow. H and I will have our tenth anniversary together. We had our first date on Oct. 8, 2004.

Additionally, I would like to announce (though it was already announced on Facebook some time ago) that H and I are expecting our first child next spring.



Glum but cheerful

I moved offices at work. The new office was just fine until the ceiling started leaking sometime today before I got to work, soaking through stacks of current student papers and a pile of papers that I’d just scanned for my tenure file. Oh well. You can’t win every day. Aside from the leak, which is still dripping, I’m fairly cozy here with my new window (which also leaks, unfortunately).

Putting together my tenure file has gotten me into a quiet and reflective mood concerning the last five years.  I’ve taught ten different courses (two graduate) and forty overall, published five articles, one book chapter and an edited collection, with two articles forthcoming, and served on quite a few university and departmental committees, all on a 4/2/3 teaching schedule (the first year was 4/2/4). For the unfamiliar, these numbers refer to courses taught per semester, so 4/2/3 means 4 courses in the fall, 2 in the summer, and 3 in the spring. I always teach in the summer, through June, by choice.

So I’ve been busy and I think the tenure file, as it currently stands, reflects that. So far, it’s been an easier job of assembling the necessary files than I thought. Keeping everything is a minor obsession of mine – I have an overstuffed office full of papers to show for it – so I’m not missing anything crucial.

New publication

Well, the title here is misleading. I have a new article forthcoming on moderation (see the About page) but I co-wrote it four years ago.

It has been quite the journey to get it published. For a long time I considered it an example of how peer review occasionally doesn’t work, because I and my co-author are at that point in our careers when we can smell whether something is publishable or not. And this piece has always had that distinctive smell, but no one was biting. I’m glad that it will have an audience now.

Fall 2014

So I have four classes to teach this fall. Three are my bread and butter – ENG 3302 Business and Technical Report Writing – and the loner is ENG 3318 – Studies in English Grammar.

While I teach 3302 virtually every semester, I haven’t taught 3318 since 2010. It is a welcome return. It is a very meaty course, in the sense that there is a lot of material to cover in a very brief time, and it is a general delight for me to teach grammar.

I’m going to concentrate on teaching this semester, so some writing projects are going to have to rest on the back burner, as they say. But, you never know. Some of my most productive writing has been during semesters when I was managing a heavy teaching load and the mounds of grading that accumulate. It’s odd how that happens.

I hinted in my last post that I had done a lot of writing over the summer. That is true. I’m not yet ready to share what I did, though, so I’ll continue to be enigmatic.