What Happens after Graduation? Game Nite!

Sean Cordes, who received a BA in English from S&T (then UMR) in May 2000, currently is instructional services coordinator at the University Libraries Western Illinois University at Macomb. Recently, Sean brought the idea of Game Nite to WIU; he also was instrumental in organizing Game Nites at the the WIU library.
The accompanying newspaper story and video clip give more information about Game Nite and about Sean, whose commitment to learning through alternative media is strong. We’d like to think that commitment began when Sean was an undergraduate here in the late 1990s.

Is It Autumn Yet?

Any reader of literature, especially poetry, soon becomes aware of the importance of the seasons of the year in expressions of human experience. The seasons may be the four of the moderate zones or the two or three seasons of tropic zones. For instance, in Indian poetry, the rainy (monsoon) season is the time of love affairs since the heavy rains rule out most other activities. A contemporary poem expresses the traditional theme well.
I began writing this entry on August 2. which is close to the beginning of autumn in some traditional schemes of the seasons. Typically, I’m returning to it on August 9. The temperatures have cooled down, and there’s a scent of autumn in the air. (For my nose at any rate.)
So, has autumn begun? That depends on where you live and whose definitions of the seasons you use. In Japan’s tradition, it is indeed autumn now. The "season word" (kigo) is an important part of the traditional haiku.
An article on Wikipedia discusses various scientific and cultural aspects of the seasons across the world. Of especial interest to lovers of literature is the discussion of traditional seasons. Perhaps you have wondered why, if the solstice in June is the beginning of summer, midsummer’s eve is a little earlier in June, the middle of the season illogically preceding its beginning.
Contemporary climate changes are affecting the literary seasons, as discussed in an article in The Telegraph. At the end of the article, a list of natural phenomena associated with spring shows a common poetic interest with Japanese culture.
The point finally is that the boundaries of the seasons — when they begin and end — are human constructs, depending on climate and culture.

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A Promotion

Dr. Kate Drowne successfully went through the promotion and tenure process in the 2007/2008 academic year. As a result, she has been granted tenure and promotion to Associate Professor. This is good news for the department and the campus as well as for Dr. Drowne. She is an excellent teacher, an accomplished scholar, and an energetic member of the campus community.
Dr. Drowne’s current research project, on the flapper in American culture and literature, promises to be a strong follow up to her book on Prohibition literature, Spirits of Defiance. I recommend Spirits of Defiance: whatever context you bring to the book, you will find it rewarding, written with clarity and grace that not all scholarly writing possesses.
Please join me in congratulating Dr. Drowne in this major step in her career,

Recognizing Effective Teaching

Two faculty members in English & Technical Communication have been recognized by freshman engineering students as with the WE LOVE YOUR CLASS AWARD. Students in the Freshman Engineering program had the opportunity to vote for the their favorite teacher. Dr. Kristine Swenson and Dr. Daniel Reardon were among the top vote-getters,
Dr. Swenson is an Associate Professo in English & Technical Communicationr; Dr. Reardon is a lecturer in the same department.
Congratulations to each of these fine faculty members!

Steel Needles and WiFi

It’s been way too long since I posted here. I hope to post more frequently.
Why haven’t I posted for several weeks? One reason: I’ve been ill for three weeks, culminating in five days in the hospital. (If you go to the site, my room was the middle one on the second floor: just above the apostrophe in "it’s." I had a very persistent pneumonia.
I also had intravenous fluids, including lots of antibiotics. Frequent breathing treatments accompanied the usual check of my "vitals": blood pressure, temperature, oxygen saturation in my blood, pulse. I’m pleased to report that my pulmonary function test (not an easy procedure) showed my capacity to be "normal" for a man of my age, height, and weight.
Anyone who’s spent days and nights in a hospital knows that one’s mortality is foregrounded, even though one’s illness isn’t critical. I had plenty of time to reflect on diet and exercise and make decisions about refinements and changes. Other patients’ coughs and moans punctuate one’s sleep; the med evac helicopter tends to come and go at intervals throughout the night.
I received very good care from the nursing staff, my doctors, and the technicians in various laboratories. The meals were against the stereotype of how awful hospital food is; the food was plentiful and reasonable good, with the exception of some unfortunate vegetables.
Decades ago, I worked in two hospitals (Mt Zion Medical Center in San Francisco and Newman Memorial Hospital in Emporia, Kansas) as an orderly in Central Supply. That lead to two or three interesting conversations with nurses, including one of the younger nurses, who was astounded that we used steel needles that I cleaned, sharpened, packaged, and sterilized. "You’re showing your age!" she said. But I don’t need to talk about steel needles to show my age.
Five days essentially away from computers and news was a real vacation. Actually, the hospital is very computerized. Everyone but housekeeping and the doctors came into my room with a computer. But I didn’t have to use them. The hospital’s Web site says it won "Health Care’s Most Wired" for 2007. I believe that. There is even WiFi for patients, but after one very tiring session with my laptop, I sent it home. (As you can tell, now that I’m home, it’s hard to stay away from the computer, but it does tire me, so that’s it for now.)

Nearly a month later . . .

I hadn’t realized how much time had passed since the last entry here. Here’s a brief entry:
Dr. Ed Malone, assistant professor of English and Technical Communication, and Director of Technical Communication, has begun writing a quarterly column on the history of technical communication. His column appears in the IEEE Professional Communication Newsletter. The latest column is about Dorothy Dahle, a pioneering woman in the field. The column touches on the difficulties a woman faced entering the field in the 1950s. It’s well worth reading.
The next entry will show up here much sooner than the four weeks between this one and the previous.

Education in Winter

We’re experiencing our third winter storm of the year — with sleet mostly, but also a little snow. The sleet verges on freezing rain. What happens at Missouri University of Science & Technology when we have icy, slushy streets and sidewalks, with more sleet falling as I type?
Many faculty and some students live where it’s dangerous or impossible to drive to campus. Walking, too, is hazardous when everything is coated with ice. It’s fairly quiet in the department this morning, although I’ve seen four faculty members, and talked with three or four students. The department’s administrative assistant, Linda Sands, lives several miles out in the country amid hills that, when the roady is iced over, make driving very hazardous. She’s not here today.
The quiet and relatively few people are somewhat disconcerting. It’s almost lonely.
I drove to campus, as I usually do, although I live within a 15 minute walk. I have walked to campus in worse weather than this, but . . . perhaps I have more (or less) sense.

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Who Wrote the First Computer User Manual?

To learn who wrote the first user manual for computers, go to Ed Malone’s column in the IEEE/PCS online newsletter.
Dr. Malone has agreed to write a quarterly column for the newsletter of the IEEE Professional Communication Society. As this first column shows, Ed has been doing extensive research in the history of technical communication and is able to present the results effectively.

Where Did Your Steak Come From?

People are becoming more concerned about the origins of their foods, including beef. In his PhD dissertation, David Wright (assistant professor of English and Technical Communication) studied the efforts of the US Department of Agriculture to use RFID devices implanted in cattle to trace them from origin to use. The cattle industry was not receptive to the proposal to implant Radio Frequency Identification devices in their stock.
On Friday, January 18, Dr. Wright was interviewed by Wayne Huebner, host of radio station KMST’s TechnoFiles program. You may listen to the full interview in MP3 format here.

Librarian, Trucker, Novelist . . . and Mother

What do English majors do when they graduate? All kinds of things, as I hope to discuss here. One of our graduates, Angelia Sparrow (BA, 1991), has established herself as a writer of erotic fiction. Ms. Sparrow maintains a professional Web site, The Den of Debauchery.
Visitors to the Den will find links to information about Angelia and Naomi Brooks, with whom she shares the site, links to samples of her fiction, to publishers, reviews, and other goodies. The site is well-designed, a relief when so many sites seem to emphasize flash animations and other glitzy effects.
Ms. Sparrow’s fiction — like all fiction — will not be to everyone’s taste. Her fiction covers a range of erotic tastes and experiences. She also presents dark fantasy themes and settings. The sample story I read on her Web site is a crisply written ghost story with a homoerotic theme. The style is simple and straightforward, which presents the ghost-theme quite effectively.
Here’s an excerpt from an email she sent me:

I left the CBU library in 2005, went to truck driving school and now have an auto parts delivery run that gets me home every night.
I sold 14 short stories and a novel last year. My second novel, Nikolai, came out January 18. I have 5 more stories and another novel in the editing process for publication this year. My goal is 20 published pieces this year.

Ms. Sparrow also includes information about her husband, Richard, a physics graduate of Missouri S&T (back when it was UMR) and a high school teacher. Their children are in junior high and high school.

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