Friday, August 29, 2008

A case study: Student expression and the employment of "fuck"

Strangely I've read about five student drafts exploring personal memories and three have dropped the F-bomb. I usually don't get this kind of openness till later in the semester and even then at a much lower percentage; seems students often hold onto the rules of high school. I've often had students bashfully approach me with concerns about the language they have in an essay: "Professor, I'm writing about an experience in the military and you know the language in that setting is kind rough..." At this point I usually interrupt, assuring them they can use any language they'd like. And still I get: sh*t and b*%$# etc.

And it's not just the F-bombs in these papers: much of the writing is quite daring for a first assignment. I have no idea what's in the air. Certainly I haven't done anything that different from all the other 1010 sections I've taught. This proliferation of fucks has really brightened my day, giving me hope in the next generation. By fuck, I'm going to read three more papers before I do lunch.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Dancing across Morgan by cool clouded skies

Seth did it! After a couple of years discussing and then several months planning and preparing this summer, Seth completed his 50 mile bike ride which was the last requirement for his cycling merit badge. And along the way he somehow fits into my old cycling jersey and can ride my old bike.

It all started off with Seth, yes my teenage son, waking ME up at 5:15 this morning. We ate some peanut butter toast y and drove up Weber Canyon to Mt. Green and headed out, the back pockets of our cycling jersey's stuffed with Clif shot blocks, GU, peanut butter crackers, and granola bars. From Mt Green we circled around the southeast side of Morgan valley passing through several small towns. At our first stop at a gas station, Seth knew we were in another world: "Hey, did you hear those people? Both people that pulled up knew the woman already here getting gas. And all three of them shewed that dog home by name. That doesn't happen in Layton."

In order to get in the full 50 miles we headed up East Canyon road for about 7 miles or so--quite a climb to East Canyon reservoir. Then we flew down, finally arriving at Morgan where we sat in the grass a bit eating crackers and stretching.

Our only conflict was that Seth got a bit irritated that I kept looking back to make sure he was close and to encourage him to ride my wheel closer--the draft really makes for an easier ride. Eventually he started making fun of me. I guess after looking back about 1,000 times, it really doesn't help much. By mile 40 every time I looked back, Seth would quote lines from that great British comedy, Father Ted: "I don't know Father Ted, what would you like to do?" or call me strange names like Shaniqua.

All in all a great ride: 50 miles, about 3 and half hrs of ride time, max speed 35mph, average almost 14mph, several dead animals and bad smells, and hopefully some good memories we will both carry with us.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Who needs a car anyways? Day 2

Again I left at about 8:20 and for the second day didn’t have time to tell my wife good-bye—the train waits for no one. For this trip I selected my full suspension mt bike because, well, I wanted to go for a mt bike ride with my friend Jason in SLC after work. So instead of biking the 8 miles on my knobby wheels, I jumped on to Trax for my first Trax with bike experience. There didn’t seem to be a place for bikes like on FR so I just tried to lean it against me while trying to read an article out of TETYC. This did not work as Trax stops and jerks a lot more than FR. On one of the stops a seasoned Trax rider got on, stuff his front wheel down the stairs on the opposite side of where the doors open—will do that next time.

Then I rode the three miles to campus; unfortunately I chose the 45th south stop and rode down 45th. Very dangerous. Next time I will take the 39th stop. And after a short 3 mile ride, I arrived safe and sound.

I have to say that I really enjoy being on public transport. It gives me a feeling of connection or something. I know that I have a romantic view of all this as I don’t absolutely have to use public transport—certainly it could be a pain in the ass to always depend on it—but still I can’t yet let go of that romanticism.

After teaching, I headed out thinking I would catch Trax at 39th about three miles away but the 4:03 train didn’t show and I figured I’d make better time on the bike than sitting around. After almost an hour of riding, and a 5 minute stop for Gatorade at a gas station, I arrived at Jason’s house who lives just off 9th south on the east hill above 13th east. We threw the bikes in his Subaru and headed up Millcreek meaning to ride up to Dog Lake but we forgot about the even/odd day thing—personally I think mt bikers should be on odd days. Instead we tried for about .94 miles to ride the steep trail towards Lamb’s canyon. What an unforgiving trail. Wasted we skidded down and went on the much more accommodating Pipeline. I’d been on the lower 2/3s but never the upper part—some of the best, hard packed, fast single track I’ve ever done.

After the ride Jason dropped me off at the central Frontrunner station; again I felt oh so cosmopolitan, loving my look: the dirty, sweat crusted guy reading some sort of academic journal.

So I had a lot of fun but this will never work daily in non-summer mode when I’m actually really busy and need to get places quickly. Never. But twice a week I think I can do.