Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Loving the Body We Have With Fabulous Guest . . . . . Destiny Allison!

I'm so excited to welcome Destiny Allison!  Her latest book, The Romance Diet: Body Image and the Wars We Wage on Ourselves, releases next month and, as someone who is always looking for a way to be healthy and happy while still enjoying their wine at night, I'm really looking forward to reading it!  

But enough talk.  Let's hear what she has to say about loving the body we have (which as we all know is not always easy to do). 


Loving the Body We Have Means Having Empathy for Ourselves and Those We Love


Thanks for having me on your blog today, Beth. I enjoy your posts and appreciate your honesty. It takes a lot of courage to share the trials and tribulations of your personal life with an audience who might not always be kind.

I also like your Tell It Like It Is posts. Hmm. 4 items. Right.

When we spoke, you said you were interested in my thoughts on the psychology behind weight gain (and loss), loving your body, and how to lose weight with your hubby and love doing it. I think they’re all tied together. Our bodies mirror the way we feel about ourselves and the stress in our lives. When we’re happy, engaged, and taking care of ourselves, we don’t tend to gain (or worry about) weight. When we’re stressed and unhappy, we tend to blame ourselves for what ails us. That, in turn, contributes to weight gain. 

Weight can be armor against the onslaught of the world and, as we all know, food comforts. Unfortunately, relying on the comfort and protection over-eating affords reinforces the doubt we have about ourselves. When we try to do something about it and our husbands (who are sometimes also overweight) tell us we’re beautiful or complain about changes in the menu, it becomes really difficult to make the changes we seek.

In my new book, The Romance Diet: Body Image and the Wars We Wage on Ourselves, I chronicle the year it took for my husband and I to lose a significant amount of weight. Together, we dropped 120 pounds. We didn’t diet and continued to enjoy our wine at night. Losing weight was the easy part and we had a blast doing it. What we didn’t know, and what we discovered on our journey, were all the ways we’d been unhappy in our lives and marriage. Working through those issues proved the real challenge.

As we delved deeper into them, we learned a lot about ourselves and each other. We thought communication had never been a problem between us. It was. We thought we were both pretty enlightened and equality was important to both of us. Again, we were wrong. Little things, things we both blew off because they were so small, reared giant, ugly heads as the pounds rolled off.

What we came to understand was that our cultural expectations have changed dramatically in the last few decades, but our cultural behaviors haven’t. We’re all trying to figure out who we are and how we’re supposed to be, but many of us don’t have the skills necessary. Men are men. Women are women. We can be equal under the law, equal in our professional pursuits, equal in all the ways except how we relate to each other.


If I’m going to “tell it like it is,” I have to say that men and women are struggling with identity issues that make weight gain easy. Men are in a box. Women are supposed to be everything all at once. When we learn empathy for ourselves and the one’s we love, we move a step closer to having the bodies we want. We might not ever be “perfect” but we won’t need to be. Instead, we’ll have loving, engaged relationships that empower us and the ones we love.


Thank you Destiny!

The husband and I are sure to read this when it releases in January, and I hope you, lovely readers, will also pre-order a copy!


Destiny Allison is an award winning sculptor and author. The Romance Diet: Body Image and the Wars We Wage On Ourselves, is her fourth book and due for release in January 2016. Other books include Shaping Destiny: A quest for meaning in art and life, and two novelsPipe Dreams and Bitterroot. She currently lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with her loving husband and rambunctious dogs. Find out more about Destiny Allison on her blog http://shapingdestinythebook.com/

About the Book:
The Romance Diet: Body Image and the Wars We Wage On Ourselves by Destiny Allison
Sunstone Press (January 18, 2016)

Brave, raw, and unflinchingly honest, this book is a weight loss journey, a love story, a heart beating loudly on the page. Every day we battle against something–injustice, our spouses, our weight. Seldom do we acknowledge the real wars we wage. Repressing feelings and silencing our voices, we suffer under the surface, attributing emotional distress and unwanted pounds to the inescapable effects of hormones or age.

But weight gain, anxiety, and marital difficulties aren’t always so easy to explain.
In her poignant and touching memoir, Allison doesn’t offer recipes, exercise tips, or advice. Instead, she shows us how to stand up, express what we want, and develop empathy for ourselves and the people we love. In doing so, she provides invaluable insight for those seeking to lose weight, save a marriage, or make a significant life change.



Twitter: @SFSculptor

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Tell It Like It Is Tuesday . . . the Facebook Passive-Aggressive

On Today's Tell It Like It Is Tuesday. . . . . 

People who air their personal relationship problems on Facebook


I appreciate that you have relationship problems.  Trust me, we all do.  But posting seemingly anonymous messages on Facebook which are clearly directed at someone in your close, personal circle of family and friends isn't fooling anyone.

Hate to break it to you, but I'm pretty sure that person knows you are referring to them.

Also, that makes you very passive aggressive, which I can appreciate because I, too, like to be passive aggressive through blog posts like this one.  But at least I only have 44 followers, so the likelihood that you are reading this is slim to none.

Here's to you, passive aggressive Facebook poster!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Tell-It-Like-It-Is Tuesday

Trying something new this week:  Tell-It-Like-It-Is Tuesday! 

I'll keep the posts short and sweet, where I pass on an honest observation and leave it for you to consider.

This week:

People who take up the entire conveyor belt in the grocery store line with only four items.

This usually leaves me struggling to juggle my head of broccoli, shampoo bottle, case of beer, and frozen waffles, while their four items are strategically spread over the entire length of the conveyor belt, making it impossible to me to set my items down.

Four.  Items.

That is all.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Whole30 and the Redskins Game

Desperate for change, I switched to the Whole30 diet about a month ago, hoping for some way to make my body healthier and lose some weight.  But, in true Beth form, I declined to give up alcohol.

I wasn't sure it would work.  I wasn't counting calories.  I wasn't "watching" what I ate.  Instead, I only ate natural meats, vegetables, fruits, coconut milk and almonds.

In a month, I lost a significant amount of weight.  My digestive issues (I'll spare you the details) improved.  My head cleared.  It totally worked.

Today, I convinced my husband to join me.  As I mentioned in my last post, I've changed my outlook a bit, so will try and focus my future blog posts on healthy eating, the books I'm reading, and my new teaching strategies.  I thought I'd start with my Sunday "Prep," as I've come to call it.

To get ready for the Whole30 week with the hubs, I cut up a watermelon, sliced strawberries and cleaned grapes.

For breakfasts, I made egg muffins.  The recipe goes like this:

1.  Saute desire vegetables (today, I used zucchini, mushrooms and spinach) in olive oil until soft.
2.  Spray muffin tins with coconut oil spray.
3.  Portion out veggies into muffin tins.
4.  Beat nine eggs and distribute between 12 muffin cups.
5.  Use a fork to mix the veggies and egg together.
6.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes.

I only used half the eggs for the recipe above this time, and put them in 6 muffin cups.  For the rest, I mixed pumpkin and pecans into the remaining eggs, and used those for the other 6 muffin cups.  Gotta have variety, right?

I have 1-2 egg muffins a morning, coupled with a smoothie, and am easily satisfied until lunch.

For lunches, I purchased deli meat, and will wrap it around different veggies (green peppers, zucchini, lettuce), coupled with fruit and nuts on the side.  I also roasted a chicken, made my own mayonaise, and created both chicken salad and tuna salad to put in Mike's lunchbox.

I'll try and chronicle my different dinner fores over the rest of the week.

On the alcohol front, we've been watching the Redskins all afternoon, which required a little champagne and shots of Red Stag.  This plan worked initially, but then the Skins, in true Redskins form, deteriorated during the second half.  As a result, we switched to beer and shots of Red Stag.

You can see the mixed emotions from the crowd in the picture, but the game's not over yet.

Here's to a great week, good eating, and a Redskins' win!

Beth - 1
Whole30 - 1
Skins - ??

Monday, September 28, 2015

Healing and Moving On

For the first time in my life, my passwords are not directly correlated to my manuscript-in-progress.

This is a big deal for me.  It means I've given up on my current writing project and chosen to focus on something else for a while.  And this hasn't happened in a long time.  

My change in password indicates three significant events.  

First, I've decided to take a break from novel writing.  My latest novel failed to find favor with an agent, which is both heartbreaking and heartbreaking.  

Second, I'm teaching a new class, which has inspired my creative side.

Third, I'm healing my mind and body through positive food changes.

So. . . . . . 


#1 Reading 

One can't be a writer unless they read widely in their genre.  I plan on reading as much as possible in the next six months.  On my short list:




The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff








Conversion by Catherine Howe












The Watershed by Wilden Turk









#2 Lesson Plans

I am creating new lesson plans.  This year, I'm teaching four different classes, and one is a senior AP Language and Composition class.  This gives me the opportunity to branch out and try new things, like college essays, new projects, and new concepts.  I'm excited and terrified, but have high hopes for this class. 


#3 Mind and Body Healing

My physical and mental healing all started with It Starts With Food by Dallas Hartwig and Melissa Hartwig.  

Okay, that's not true.  It started with my friend Sam, whole told me about the Whole30 way of eating.  Since then, I've gone 95% Paleo, including excluding dairy and all grains.  Meat, veggies,fruits and spices it is.  I'm loving it and hating it.  But mostly happy with the results.  I won't lie, though.  I'm still indulging in red wine at night.  It'll be a miracle if I give that up.  


These three changes have helped heal my mind and body.  I physically feel better, and mentally feel more organized. Creatively, I feel happier, and less "forced."  I'm enjoying literature again, and I hope those positive feelings will transfer over to my own writing when I feel ready to dive into it again.  

I've heard that teaching is one of the hardest professions out there.  I've heard the same about writing. Considering I'm a slave to both, there is no shock that I'm usually stressed.  For now, I'm trying to set that stress aside in an attempt to enjoy both of my professions in a way I haven't in a long time.  

If you want to discuss writing and books, I'm ready.  And if you want to talk Paleo and Whole30, I'm all ears. Mostly, I'd just love to hear your thoughts. 

Beth - 1
Beth's Mind and Body - 1
Stressed Beth - 0

Monday, April 27, 2015

Guest Post by WiDo Author Scott Keen: Building the Fantasy World of Your Story

I'm joined today by Scott Keen, currently on a WOW blog tour for his novel SCAR OF THE DOWNERS, a YA fantasy which I can't wait to read!  Below, Scott shares how he created his fantasy world. Make sure you check out his sketches!

About Scar of the Downers:
Branded on the slaves in the Northern Reaches beyond Ungstah, the scar marks each one as a Downer. It is who they are. There is no escaping this world. Still, strange things are stirring.

Two foreigners ride through the Northern Reaches on a secret mission. An unknown cloaked figure wanders the streets of the dark city of Ungstah. What they want no one can be sure, but it all centers around a Downer named Crik.

Crik, too scared to seek freedom, spends his days working in his master's store, avoiding the spirit-eating Ash Kings while scavenging food for himself and his best friend, Jak. Until he steals from the wrong person. When Jak is sold to satisfy the debt, Crik burns down his master's house and is sentenced to death.

To survive, Crik and his friends must leave behind their life of slavery to do what no other Downer has ever done before--escape from the city of Ungstah. 
 

Building the Fantasy World of Your Story
By Scott Keen

My novel, Scar of the Downers, takes place in a land known as the Northern Reaches. I remember when I first started writing the book, I had drawn a rough map (a very, very rough map).  But it was the beginning of something larger. The foundation of a house is usually in the dirt, and the same goes with writing, and in this case, world building.

Since my novel was an adventure-based story, the first thing I had to create was a map. I had to know where my characters were going. So, I sketched one out in about five minutes. As I wrote the story and created new characters, I had to build their home into my world. Little by little I added to the world, creating backstories about parts of the land, giving them their own histories.

One example of this concerns Wester Village, the first scene in Scar of the Downers. Andevin and Fordon are sitting in a tavern in the middle of this village that is surrounded by a wall. In creating the world and writing the book, I drew up a short history of how and why the people of Wester Village built the wall around it. Though it didn’t make it into the final draft of the story, it is there, forming a more realistic and fuller world.

Not only do you have to build histories for the lands and cities, you must also build them for the races that inhabit your world. In Scar of the Downers, there is a race of people called the Dendron that live amongst the trees. They have a story of their origins that they have passed on from one generation to another. It is their history. This is a short write-up of the Dendron’s genesis:

            Ages ago, a wizard, who often liked to wander through the nearby forest, was treading along his well-worn path. Normally, he would bring his staff with him when he traveled, but since he was so close to home he decided to leave it there. What he didn’t know was that a beast had come down from the nearby mountains and was searching for prey.
            It had tracked the wizard on his walk where it attacked him, knocking him down. But with his staff at home, he had nothing with which to defend himself. The wizard picked up the closest thing to him, which happened to be a stick, and with it, he defended himself.
            Grateful for his life, the wizard examined the stick and was thankful for its strength. He then asked the stick what it desired.
            The stick replied, “Life.”
            Returning the stick back to the tree would only guarantee that it would break again. But who would graft it on again? No! That would not do. For saving his life, the wizard promised the stick life by giving him branches that would not be cut off and a life that would not end with the seasons.
            The stick asked the wizard, “How can you do that for I am only a branch?”
            The wizard replied, “I will give you breath. Blood shall flow through your body and a voice shall come from your mouth. The forests will be your home, and where you die a tree shall grow. You blood will be its water, your body its roots.”

From this, a race was born. None of this happened, however, overnight. It took me years to build upon the foundation that I had sketched out. As ideas came to me, I included them into my map and world. And, as I write books two and three of the series, I'm developing things even more, as these side characters move from the periphery to the forefront.

Knowing how your races and land were born is paramount if you want to create a world. It gives stories their depth and their believability.


About the Author: 

Scott Keen grew up in Black River, NY, the youngest of three children. While in law school, he realized he didn't want to be a lawyer. So he did the practical thing--he became a writer. Now, many years later with an MFA in script and screenwriting, he is married with four daughters, two of whom he homeschools. He blogs at www.scottkeenbooks.com.


Visit Scott online at:


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Book Review: Breaking the Silence: My Final Forty Days as a Public School Teacher by M. Shannon Hernandez


Book Stats
Title:  Breaking the Silence: My Final Forty Days as a Public School Teacher
Author:  M. Shannon Hernandez
Publisher: Mill City Press
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1-62652-962-5


M. Shannon Hernandez takes a hard look at the public school system in her memoir, coming to the conclusion that it is failing its students and teachers.  She uses a straightforward approach, capturing education’s major problems by chronicling her last forty days as a teacher.  Her goal is to speak out for educators and students, and to make parents, administrators and policy-makers involved with public school education aware of glaring issues within the system. 

As an educator for more than fifteen years, Hernandez is more than qualified to write on this topic.  Anyone who teaches for even a year will see the same problems with education in the United States.  And Hernandez certainly paints a grim picture.  She is not adequately paid, lacks essential supplies for her classroom, is undermined by her principal and watches her students face unthinkable poverty and lack of familial support.  Ultimately, she makes it clear that teachers are the people “in the trenches.”  If not adequately supported, the students pay the ultimate price.  Ironic, considering all the talk about making students the number-one priority among policy-makers.

Hernandez is extremely candid.  She takes the reader on her journey, sharing her joys, sorrows, successes and failures to prove her point.  Her personal anecdotes, however, ultimately leave the reader feeling quite somber.  It’s impossible to read about the daily struggles of these teachers and students without becoming frustrated. 

Despite the fact that Hernandez worked in an urban environment and my school is quite suburban, as  a fellow educator, many of the problems she encountered are all too familiar to me.  The lack of respect teachers face is probably the most upsetting, as they are sorely underpaid and do not have access to the materials they need in the classroom.  I was most affected when she said, “. . . I realize we are so busy teaching a curriculum that is so scripted, test-heavy, and inauthentic that we have lost the opportunity to connect with students on a personal level.  Instead, we are focused on raising test scores and teaching testing strategies, day in and day out” (36).  What teacher can’t identify with that statement?

My only caution to the reader is that her situation seems insanely difficult.  This is not to say she is exaggerating the problems, because they are real and need to be addressed.  But she seems to have an extraordinarily high number of students living in extreme circumstances, and her principal, without a doubt, behaved in a horribly unprofessional way.  She goes above and beyond for her job and is barely acknowledged for her efforts, which does not happen in my school.  Teachers with her level of dedication are admired and celebrated. I would be interested in seeing the statistics of teachers who encounter problems on this level on a consistent basis.

There are times when I laughed out loud and nodded in agreement, shook my head in frustration and ached for her hardships.  Her story of being unfairly accused of inappropriate contact with a student is one I will never forget.  It is also immensely frightening.  I don’t want to give too much away, but it is certainly an important anecdote for teachers to read.

Teachers will identify with Hernandez, making this a worthwhile read.  However, it is administrators, parents and policy makers who need to read it, and I hope they take her words to heart.  


Rating:  




Find Shannon's website here

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Welcoming Author D.A. Russell and The Problem with the Common Core

I'm joined today by author D.A. Russell, a fellow author and educator, whose book Lifting the Curtain takes a hard look at the education system in the United States.  He is sharing his views on the Common Core, which has not yet come to my county in Virginia, so I found his thoughts particularly interesting and informative!

The Problem with the Common CoreGuest Post by D.A. Russell


When it comes to common core, I will sound as though I am talking out of both sides of my mouth. I like the new math framework, even though I dread seeing it enter my high school classes. For math, at least, it has the potential to be a truly exceptional upgrade to teaching – it goes back 30 years to the idea of having students understand math, rather than remember steps. In truth, the most successful math teachers already use such an approach, despite all the system does to try to dumb down instruction so that “everybody passes.”

Yet our most successful teachers, even us curmudgeonly math types, are strongly against the new core for technical reasons. We are highly concerned that what could (and should!) have been a big step forward in math education has been so mishandled by inept career DoE bureaucrats that it will be just another major failure of a poorly implemented bureaucratic mandate.  

Even if everything else was magically fixed, common core is untenable, even the best parts, because those who are responsible for its implementation were neither qualified nor experienced to roll out and manage a project anywhere close to this level of technical complexity. Common core is a huge project – education averages 25% of all state budgets.

Why am I so pessimistic about common core? Because the implementation fails in so many areas:

Implementation timeline mismanagement:

One technical cause for the rejection of common core by so many states is the typical ineptitude in a poorly thought-out implementation of a new bureaucratic mandate. This year, standardized tests for sophomores in high school will have significant content based upon the new approach in common core– even though those students have just started to see the very different learning approach in their classes.  A sensible and professional implementation and rollout would have been phased over 4-5 years —  starting the content in elementary school, expand it in middle school, and be ready for high school testing when those students had experienced the needed lead-in to the new approach. 

High costs, and weak or non-existent support materials:

The second problem is both the major cost and lack of materials and textbooks for an “immediate” rollout long before such materials can be professionally prepared. Schools are being forced to purchase new books consistent with the new common core, yet many of the “new and improved” common core text books are little more than quick-and-dirty reworks of existing texts by publishers rushing to capitalize on new sales possibilities. Most of these new books are so weak that they will have to be scrapped and replaced (at even more cost) down the line. 

Meanwhile, school budgets have to prepare for the significant indirect expense for the rollout of a new common core – new testing materials, preparation of curricula, and replacement text books all place a very large financial burden on high schools.

Curricula – missing in action:

Third, as usual, the bureaucratic approach to rolling out a new program the scope of common core relied on classroom teachers to pick up the broken pieces and make it work. I spent many days, pulled from my classroom, as my math department struggled to prepare for common core. Every school has had to divert weeks of teacher time to try to create new curricula for all the courses – because the career bureaucrats in state and federal DoEs did not bother to include such materials in their rollout plans.

A laundry list of core standards, no matter how good, is not a curriculum.

In addition to the above technical and implementation failures, there are many content issues that have been raised by various constituencies – especially in topics such as history, English and biology.  For my area, math, this has not been an issue. Rather than discuss some of those concerns here, I must emphasize the most important consideration for common core:  even if all content issues were resolved to everyone’s satisfaction, common core would still be a failed bureaucratic mandate because of the bureaucratic implementation failures

A dozen states have already rejected common core. The only way to get them back, and prevent further rejection, is to fix the bureaucratic mismanagement of the program to date.





About Lifting the Curtain: The Disgrace We Call Urban High School Education (2nd Edition)

The 2nd edition of the acclaimed look at today's failed education system -- with dozens of teacher submissions from across the USA and nine new chapters! Both KIRKUS and CLARION praise this important book "...from the unique perspective of a classroom teacher" that shows the real problems that have destroyed the education of our children. Few parents or legislators have any chance of seeing the real state of education in our urban schools. It is a shameful disaster -- unlike anything that we, as parents, experienced just 15-20 years ago. The real problems stay largely unseen, because career DoE bureaucrats and school administration are extremely good at hiding their failed policies behind the curtain of the school entryway. In Lifting the Curtain, Russell provides a detailed look at urban high school education from inside the classroom, including three years of research, and the first ever major survey of what students and teachers think of the educational system. If we want a real solution for our children, then for once we must focus on the real problems, the ones carefully hidden behind the educational curtain.


About D.A. Russell:

D. A. Russell has spent the last ten years as a math teacher in one of the urban high schools that is the subject of Lifting the Curtain. He is an honors graduate of Dartmouth College, and has his master’s degree from Simon School, where he was valedictorian of his class. Russell is a decorated Vietnam veteran. He has two children that he treasures, and four grandchildren. His son is a police officer who served in the US Army in Afghanistan, earning a Bronze Star for valor. His daughter is a lawyer and his most passionate fan and honorary literary agent. Russell has a passion for children that dominates his life. He has taught and coached children for decades. Few things are more important in Russell’s view than to cherish the children who are our real treasures in this world. 

He is a contributor for education matters to the Huffington Post, and runs a personal blog at: LiftingTheCurtainOnEducation.wordpress.com, dedicated to letting teacher voices be heard in the real problems with education.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Book Review - The Demon Trapper's Daughter

Book Stats
TitleThe Demon Trapper’s Daughter
Author:  Jana Oliver
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; Original edition (February 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-0312614782

A student recommended The Demon Trapper’s Daughter by Jana Oliver and, being a lover of all things young adult and paranormal, I decided to give it a try.  It follows the story of Riley Blackthorne, the daughter of a demon trapper, who lives in a post-apocalyptic version of Atlanta.  Demons, angels, vampires – you name it, they exist.   When Riley’s father is killed (not a spoiler – more of a focal-point of the novel), it is her job to protect her father’s body so he can’t be reanimated and turned into a slave.  However, she has to contend with her father’s hot partner, Beck, who treats Riley like a kid, and the demons, who all seem to know her name and are singling her out. 

Oliver sets the stage from the beginning, pulling us into this rough world in which Riley lives.  The demons are characters themselves, ranging in size and ferocity.  While some are comical, others are downright scary, but each demon is unique, and her descriptions make it easy to fall into Riley’s world. 

We are in the head of Riley and Beck, almost interchangeably, in every chapter.  Their “voices” are distinct and interesting.  Riley, like a typical teenager, is impulsive and makes some poor decisions.  She can be infuriating at times, but I didn't dislike her.  Beck is by far my favorite character.  He is rough around the edges, charming and engaging, serving as a strong contrast to Riley.

The content is YA appropriate, though I wouldn't suggest allowing a teen under the age of 14 to read it.  While Riley is seventeen, Beck is an adult, and Oliver doesn't hide his feelings (alcohol, sex, etc.).

I enjoyed Oliver’s novel, and the biggest compliment I can give it is this:  In a world full of sequels, I’m more apt to read the first book and not finish the series.  When I re-shelved The Demon Trapper’s Daughter in my classroom library, I immediately picked up the second book, Soul Thief.  I did it less for Riley and more for Beck, because I find him compelling and awesome, and am pretty sure he has more to offer.
  
Age Recommendation:  14 – Adult
Genre:  YA Paranormal


Rating:

  

Friday, February 20, 2015

Favorite Books

In my Advanced Composition class, I have my students writing about a book which changed their view of the world.  Naturally, one of them asked which book I would choose.

Picking a favorite book is no easier to pick than my favorite child.  (I don't have one, of course)  But, I believe I can narrow my "favorites" list down to five. Each of these titles has changed my view of the world in a profound way.. I'll try and give you an overview without giving anything away, because I loathe spoilers.

1.  The Giver by Lois Lowry

I think this book left such a huge mark because it was the first time I realized that people who believed they were good and who thought were doing the right thing could be so profoundly WRONG about their beliefs.  Also, an outside view of our world as it is now, both beautiful and horrible, has never left me.





2.  Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

I owe my understanding of this novel to my twelfth grade AP Literature teacher, Mrs. Hukari, because she asked me to analyze the words "The horror, the horror."  When I realized what the words meant (and I won't ruin it for you), I was very moved.  As humans, we work so hard to create an illusion of being civilized.  How common of us.






3.  Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Patterson

I so identified with Sara Louise, understood her desperation to have someone notice her for being the "responsible" child, that I cried for days every time I thought about the end of this novel.  Not everyone will understand, but if you do, we are kindred spirits.



4.  Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

At the end of this novel, a character displays his complete inability to understand how two unlike people could become friends.  In so many ways, I feel his ignorance is displayed in situations I encounter daily, making this an essential read.  The problem is that if you read it and don't understand what I'm talking about, there is little hope for you.  It's okay, though.  I forgive you.








5.  A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle

How an author created a novel like this is still mind-boggling.  She combined some deep science-fiction with complex emotional components which made me read the book at least three times.  The relationship with Meg and Charles Wallace will never leave me, along with the theme of love transcending all things, which also appears in the Harry Potter books years later.





I really encourage you to read these fantastic books, and would love to talk about them more in the comments below!

Beth - 1
People Who Don't Read - 0

Saturday, January 10, 2015

A Generic College Paper - Satire Example Per Request

Hello to the students at today's NMSI Colonial Forge Session!  Per request, here is The Generic College Paper. (Click here for original)

A GENERIC COLLEGE PAPER.
BY JON WU

Since the beginning of time, bullshit, flowery over-generalization with at least one thesaurus’d vocabulary word. In addition, irrelevant and misleading personal anecdote. However, oversimplification of first Googled author (citation: p. 37). Thesis statement which doesn’t follow whatsoever from the previous.

Utterly contrived topic sentence revealing pretty much every flaw of structured essay writing. Therefore, supporting sentence invoking source that exists only in the bibliographies of other cited material (pp. arbitrary to arbitrary + 5). Contemplative question? Definitive refutation paraphrased from a blog found at 2AM:

“MASSIVE BLOCK TEXT TO LEND LEGITIMACY TO THIS SORRY ENDEAVOR.”
— Legitimate-sounding Anglo Saxon name (year between 1859 and 1967)

Obviously, non-sequitur segue. Utter misinterpretation of the only other author researched for this paper. Blind search for evidence reflecting increasing desperation (authors 4, 5, and 6). Moreover, loose observation to try to force coherence. Indeed, an attempt at humor!

Hence, statement violating every principle of syllogism followed by unnecessary semi-colon; forgettable punch line. Open-ended question undoing what little intellectual progress has been made? Filler sentence, which breaks entire flow of argument, specifically designed with maximum complexity in mind so as to solve lingering word minimum concerns.


Unconvincing conclusion statement. Empty belief that prompt has been answered sufficiently and requires no further investigation by anyone, ever. Last sentence, which consumed approximately 95% of the total mental effort dedicated—still reads clunky.


For everyone else, this is an excellent example of satire, courtesy of Jon Wu, which I used to help introduce a concept used by The Onion during an AP Lang lesson today.

Enjoy!