September 23, 2007

Amazon.com sucks

before I begin my tale, thanks and shout-outs go to Karissa and Prof. Jerz...

so after a month, I finally got the book I ordered from Amazon...

the moral of the story, if you ever want to order something from amazon, make sure that You know at least three months in advance what you want, and when you finally decide this, travel back in time (at least) six months before you figure out whatever you wanted, and THEN order it.... pay extra money (tons of money) so that Amazon can deliver it in a day... but I'm sure if you order your book 3 years in advance, you'll have the book at least by the second week of the semester...

in spite of this rant, I'm still glad that I finally got my book (lucky for me, I had the reserve to rely on)... next time, I'll consider my option more, not rely so much on Amazon.com, and actually look for other venues...

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 2:22 PM | Comments (5)

September 19, 2007

witches in weird class

so for my first paper that I'm writing and still trying to connect to my overall goal (of storytelling), I'm exploring mother goose and her possible connection to witches/witch-lore

the concept of weird that I'll be connecting my speculation is the concept that deals with "tales" and some sort of "foreshadowing (educating/advising about future) /divining/warning"

the associations:

elderly woman= typical witch figure (old women in margins of society especially widows)
goose= concept of familiars (do the bidding of the witch in exchange for something belonging to a witch [physical/emotional/spiritual] etc.)

Latin prayers= spells, charms/ rhymes (to educate the illiterate about Catholicism)
Anticatholicism -- catholics=witches (according to English Protestant/Puritans)

okay, I know Wikipedia is fickle (because anybody can put something in it- but it includes scholarly references and I can check them directly and see their credibility-- the archivist was helping me, and she discovered in Wiki, that Mother Goose originated in Boston, reported to have 10 children of her own- around the 1600s (historically this was around the time of witch hunts/trials in England)- Speculation- the witches in Boston could have tried to escape to the New World and settled in Boston, (or they could have been sent there to get rid of them- they could have been banished/exiled)...

here are the connections I'm finding so far, I still have to read more... any suggestions are welcome dear audience...

I met the children's library librarian (Roslin)... she gave me ideas on possible contacts for storytelling classes/teachers/ places etc.

I went to the Education Bld. and found resources for my ESL students- it's overwhelming because there are lots and I don't know where to begin, I got an idea that I can use these resources to help me with my own review for the Spanish language...

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 3:49 PM | Comments (0)

wondering

I wonder why my blog entries are not showing up in the homepage- is it because I'm not writing about SHU? is it because I graduated already and I'm no longer "in" the SHU community? Is it because I'm talking about my new school or I'm writing about graduate stuff? just wondering...

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 3:46 PM | Comments (4)

September 18, 2007

extracurricular activities aka stress-relieving activities

it's not like I'm not busy enough with my own classes and with my teaching, but I'm really putting effort to just have down time... what better ways to do this than pursue one's interests...

so I signed up to be a part of the Polynesian Student Union- I'm really interested in Hawaiian culture and other pacific islanders... I know somehow, I can connect this to my thesis... one of their activities is telling stories through dance...

I also volunteered with Common Grounds- we basically spend time with people with disabilities and have fun in the great outdoors-- we'll be camping and biking and trying to enjoy the weather before the snow comes in... most of their activities are on the weekends...

then there's exercising... Monday is running day (it's a bit difficult because the altitude is higher here, and I'm finding that it's taking me longer to adjust my breathing), Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday are "Core" days, Wednesday night is dedicated to dance (jazz and hip-hop)-- I'm extending my dance vocabulary (for example, I learned what corkscrew and tabletop mean-- they're not alcoholic beverages either)... Friday is free weights day... Sunday is rest day...

I'm falling behind on my readings and I'm using up a lot of time for my teaching (I'm getting used to it though- making lesson plans are sort of getting easier...)

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 6:34 PM | Comments (0)

September 12, 2007

a good compromise

in spite of the craziness, I feel (with a lot of assurance) that I made the right decision picking Utah State University...

it was a good compromise because:
-I wasn't sure if I wanted to go to grad school because I've been in school forever and I needed other types of exposure besides school
-I actually have a real paying job (even if it's only a little allowance), I'm a graduate instructor- I have office hours, I make lesson plans, I attend a concomittant training session while teaching- I'm a tutor at the writing center, I do administrative stuff/record keeping, organization, grading, facilitating- I'm getting a lot of valuable experiences
-everything I'm doing is related to writing- so this is a plus, I need to practice
-even though Logan is not a metropolitan like New York, it has all the resources I need- the beauty of the great outdoors, a huge library, opportunities, networks- it's also nice that I'm not that far away from Arizona and CA- I'll be doing a lot of sight-seeing and visiting family members...
-I'm learning more about folklore- emphasizing the "artistic utilization" of folklore using text and image in a picture book...

I'm content...

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 7:36 PM | Comments (0)

artsy stuff at USU: singing, dancing, and BANDALoop

to keep up with my exposure to different arts, these are the following activities I did...

two weeks ago, I watched "Celebrate America Show"- this is an annual thing here at USU, it includes singing and dance... it's sort of a period piece... the singers and dancers performed songs from the 20s to the 50s- so they explore musical styles made famous by the USA... these styles include blue grass, jazz, blues, gospel, big band, broadway, and more... they have a chorus line made up of tapping girls/young women

the performers were really into it... they made jokes, they had a sterotypical goofy person, the dumb blonde nurse type was present... it was really cheeky and poppy (putting it in today's context, it's almost sugar-coated and naive--- But of course we should be mindful of the times and the different standards)... it was very patriotic- they paid homage to past and current soldiers and service people...

some cultural stuff I noticed (which dealt with the Utah and Mormon culture) before the show began, we had opening prayers--- i'm used to this because I'm been in catholic schools since 3rd grade--- but in my mind, several things were happening: i'm thinking about separation of church and state (since this is public university with an emphasis in Mormon religion), then I'm amazed , I got the sense of unity of same worship, mostly everyone bowed their heads- that was an amazing sight (of course I showed my respect)- I'm slowly finding out and learning more about LDS (latter day saints= mormons) through observations and conferences with my students... I wonder what's going on in their heads... one of the things we talked about are missions (each mormon child especially male has to go to a mission (nationwide or international) at a certain age (17-19)], of course upon hearing this, the first thing I asked them is where they want to go or their preference... sometimes I'll get blank looks especially hearing the words "where they want to go" and "preference"... they just give me the answer that "they go wherever they are sent"- a lot of faith is involved in these missions (then I started reflecting about my own faith, and how much I question things, how much of a sceptic I am) it's a learning experience for me and my students...

also sometimes it feels like Europe here in Logan- the reason, most of my students know the basics of one other language- this is important especially when they go on missions... I met a soldier who spoke Chinese, but while he was in Iraq, he picked up some Tagalog phrases, some Arabic and Spanish-- it still surprises me when a caucasian starts speaking to me in Tagalog (especially after I revealed that I was from the Phil.)... one person thought I was Chinese and he started talking to me in Chinese...

the other artsy fartsy thing I did was watch project Bandaloop- this is a dance troupe that combines the grace and beauty of dance with the athleticism of rock-climbing... so they dance while suspended on buildings or mountains... they train, they have good cores (abs), they don't get as much injury because impact is not so bad... it's just poetic, especially some of their training session... one time they climbed el capitan in yosemite or yellowstone for six days-- they'd actually sleep on the edges of the rock--- they danced at an altitude of 2500, while suspended during dusk and it continued at night during a full moon and they saw peregrine falcons soaring at their sides....

so they danced suspended at USU's library... during rehearsals yesterday, they broke a window that was supposed to withstand earthquakes, and guess what, a 130 lb dancer broke it, imagine that...

I also took part at a historic site specific art performance, it was orchestrated by the bandaloop people...

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 7:05 PM | Comments (0)

September 10, 2007

I can't believe it's finally back... tons of stories to tell

so it's 12:00 am in Utah, which means around 2 am in PA... I'm awake because I hit a roadblock, I'm trying to figure out my lesson plan for tomorrow... the irony is that all throughout today I've been pretty productive...I've read several chapters for my own grad classes, and now I'm stuck...

lately I've been attending academic socials to meet with people in the English department here at USU, it's important to network... sadly though, I was sort of brain dead when I went last friday... I didn't reach out to anybody, I just sat comfortably in a circle with the rest of the GIs recapping stories of the week... we ate food... I have an office sort of, in this big room,open space,I share it with 7 other GIs, so I have an implied corner (better than a cubicle, which is so restrictive)... my implied corner has a column of some sort (thus creating an angle)...I have a desk with a giant calendar, a make-shift bulletin board, and a painting by van gogh (starry night- it was the only artistic thing I found in walmart)... I even have office hours (can u believe that?)

tomorrow is the third week of school... the first week was nervewracking... the classes I taught were in the afternoon (which meant that for most of the freshmen, these classes were not their first, maybe their last for the day)... during the first week, I did lots of quirky introductions, which paid off, by the end of the week, I had their names memorized and I learned/heard memorable stories to associate the names with the faces...

I encountered light administrative nightmares- trying to figure out SyllaBase (similar to J-Web), I collected papers from my students, made some sort of file for them... I'm in the process of finalizing the format of my gradebook (can you believe that?)...

All throughout last week, I had 10 minute conferences with my students (44 of them- 75% of them attended, the other 25% will hopefully make up their missed conference tomorrow, Monday)... I just collected their writing notebooks, and read them...I commented and read really fast their entries- I wanted for them to have a good start and a good foundation...

We're learning about the writing process... using writing and reading as inquiry.... we're practicing fastwriting, dialectical thinking, questioning beliefs etc....I'm approaching this sort of like a presentation where I engage my audience, have participation and activities planned and be some sort of facilitator

Being a grad student is so weird... it's weird because I totally forgot that I was a student, I got so immersed in being an instructor, that I forgot that I'm also student pursuing a Master's degree... so far the only difference I noticed is the amount of reading ( alot more in a short time)... I sort of lucked out because this semester i HAVE three seminars, my work doesn't involve too much research paper... my work this semester emphasizes the "process"

(side note- it's scary talking to people about their thesis, once you mentioned the word thesis, their eyes sort of turn hazy and glazed... they are no longer talking to you, they are talking to themselves, they are having a monologue, they are lost in their own thinking, you were once their audience and now, you've been sidetracked... if I ever get like that about my thesis somebody slap me/pinch me gently)...

In my Folklore Theory and Methodology class, we're going over history of the field, researching (using library resources etc- USU's library is humongous, it has four floors plus a ground floor... they modeled it similar to barnes and noble, which means it has its own cafe and those comfy lounge chairs... it has an archive and a huge warehouse where old journals and rare manuscripts galore are kept, it uses the BARN system [roughly an acronym for borrower's automated retrieval network system- something like that])

I'm reading about witches in my "weird" class called "Weird: a Cultural History"... my professor's goal is for us to produce a short paper at the end of the semester which can be submitted to a conference, we're also going to learn how to write an abstract... it can be of our interest as long as we can connect it to any concept of "weird"

In my Teaching Practicum, we're reading and discussing a lot of teaching pedagogies... this is a good supplement for our first year teaching... a good place to get ideas, to reflect (we're keeping a teaching journal)... concomittant to this, we're having writing center seminars... discussing being tutor (not so new for me)...I have to do four observations of a tutoring session, write a paper about it... I work at the Writing center for an hour every thursday starting at 7 pm.... it's a lot but reasonably manageable...

so far I don't see myself as a folklore scholar in a traditional sense, I think I'm leaning towards "artistic utilization" of folklore instead of academia... I'm getting my Master's so I can understand it more and not end up offending folklorists (misused it and make it fakelore)... some famous people who might have use folklore in their arts are, Shakespeare, Keats, Yeats etc.

this wednesday, my class will hand in their first major assignment....

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 2:13 AM | Comments (3)