Wednesday, April 30, 2008

a successful (and awesome) student project

[This is the first of the two posts about the week of awesomeness I mentioned at the beginning of April. Click to embiggen the images, especially the one of the actual news clipping.]

I taught English 403 in the Spring semester: Professional and Technical Writing for ESL Students (English 402 is the non-ESL version, although for various reasons that I hope to have a hand in changing, 403 and 402 tend to focus on different things). One of the four projects in the course was a translation project. You might say "Wha?? But this is an English course!" to which I say "and boy howdy did they write a lot in English."

I'll backtrack.

The person who regularly teaches ESL courses got in touch with the university's recycling office about a possible translation project for the instructions/poster/handout on the new single-stream recycling program offered here. Couple that with the time I spent as documentation i18n/l10n manager for a really big tech company oh so many years ago (and my abilities in working with non-English documents and application i18n/l10n as part of my daily work anyway), and it seemed like a good thing to do. I could totally teach the processes and documentation that go into doing a translation project. And I did.

student project 2/3Students worked in language groups across the two sections of this class. Groups ranged in size from 1 (guess that's not a group) to 10, but each group did at least the one page poster and most groups also did a second batch of text that can be used as needed. The documents were translated into Chinese (both Simplified and Traditional), Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Arabic, Farsi, and Spanish. Throughout the course of the project, students wrote the following documents in English (individually): a Memo of Understanding, a Progress Report, and a final Translator's Report. So, while the translation is what you see in the image above, each student might only have translated a hundred words (if even that) from English into their preferred non-English language—and the same student will have written a few thousand words about the translation.

NOTE: Here is the assignment overview document, and if you want to see any of the individual assignment sheets just let me know.

Clearly, the students put a lot of work into this project. student project 1/3 Their documents are going to be distributed by WSU as a public service throughout the western United States, and will help recycling stations communicate important information about what can/cannot be recycled in single-stream recycling projects. I also wanted to provide them with some knowledge about how to do this sort of thing because it is likely that somewhere down the line in their engineering or marketing or whatever jobs, someone is going to find out about their language multicompetencies and ask them to pitch in and help out on a translation—outsourcing translations is very expensive so a lot of it stays in-house.

student project 3/3Anyway, we threw them a little party and had the "client" (head of university recycling) come in and talk to them/thank them/etc. We provided food. We displayed all the work. We invited the press. A lovely student reporter came to the event and talked to the client, to us, and most importantly to the students in the class. Please click through and read the article (you might have to view the large size first).

I was so happy for (and proud of) the students and what they did for the community (and the environment). WSU is not the most diverse school, and it was A Good Thing to get information out there that international and/or ESL students have unique and valuable skills.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

i give in: the music meme

[updated to add: answers]

I've seen these around, most notably from comebacknikki, where I actually knew a few in the spare 15 seconds I had to read her post. Those few I knew promptly got stuck in my head for the rest of the day...thanks so much.

My steps:
Step 1: Put your MP3 player or whatever on random.
Step 2: Post the first line from the first 25 songs that play, no matter how embarrassing the song.
Step 3: Post and let everyone you know guess what song and artist the lines come from.

Your steps:
Step 3a: Post your guesses in the comments.
Step 4: I'll strike through bold them when someone gets them right
Step 5: Looking them up on Google or any other search engine is CHEATING. Don't do it!

My suggestions:
Good luck. I think some of these are really obscure. Then again, I know a lot of you have spectacular taste in music. Then again (again), I did cheat a little by taking out the ones I knew none of you would get—like the one from a CD that sold exactly 246 copies and was released on my record label 12 years ago. I pretty much know the names of all 246 of those people and I don't think any of you are on that list. But that was the extent of my rejiggering of the list.

1) you can get from here to there
2) messenger of fear in sight
3) i don't think you understand
4) see the storm is broken
5) closer, no hesitation
6) let him come into the city
7) who's car am I driving in?
8) another world, another time
9) trying hard to speak and fighting with my weak hand "X & Y" by Coldplay
10) i step off the train "Missing" by Everything But the Girl
11) you spent five years saying you'd come my way
12) someone falls to pieces sleepin all alone "Be Yourself" by Audioslave
13) i'm lying in my bed, the blanket is warm
14) lookin' back on my life you know that all I see
15) life was fun life was great
16) on i wait (i'm a time bomb)
17) well sit right down my wicked son "Holiday Song" by The Pixies
18) some people say such awful things
19) oh, dream about me
20) the possible dream finale of seem
21) up ahead in the distance I can hear the cannon blast
22) now the radio stutters. snaps to life.
23) i'm so tired of being alone "Tired of Being Alone" by Rev. Al Green but as performed by Texas
24) there's a moment in my mind
25) wake up next to you, honest screw.


blogroll updated

Whew. Finally! There are a few things I don't have on my blogroll but are in my feedreader (such as news sites), but the 95 links do represent what I read. Now you all know why I rarely comment: I'm reading a lot. Well, that and the whole seminars, teaching, working, book-writing thing.

But the book-writing is wrapped up and the 4th edition of the frankenbook should be on shelves in June (I think that's the's either June or July and there's always a promotion, so if you're in a Barnes & Noble and see my name on a book on an endcap, free free to nod knowingly).

The seminars are finished, save for a project due tomorrow and one due on Friday, but they're chugging along.

The teaching is finished until summer session II in mid-June.

The working will never end. But hey, that's life. At least I get a condo out of the deal.

In brief, perhaps now I will actually have time to comment on the blogs I read! How exciting!


Saturday, April 26, 2008

teaching w/ technology - World of Warcraft - holy crap this is good

I am proud to know this guy. This is just 9:52 of awesomeness. Good job, Critter!

Actual info for the movie: "Chris Ritter's philosophy on teaching with technology, with advice for other teachers. Delights and instructs!" and is teh hawesome

[click here if the embed doesn't work]


Thursday, April 24, 2008

yes, that's an ad

The Adoptic ad widget thing you see over there on the right (unless you're reading through a feedreader) is currently a pretty alpha release of an interesting thing. You might have seen it on Dr. Shellie's blog.

I'm keeping it there as I do alpha/beta testing and stuff. If you would like to do alpha/beta testing too, let me know in comments or via email and I will send an invite. There's a set of self-selected communities, including one just for academic bloggers. Or you can ignore thing until it matures a little bit and there's more to say.

It's not my venture (I'm busy enough, thanks!) but I think it's interesting.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

facebook chat

I just tried out the Facebook chat app. I'd been curious since it appeared yesterday, but I didn't want to foist my testing upon anyone. Luckily I didn't have to, because Rana apparently wanted to test it too...because she messaged me just a few minutes ago.

What I wanted to test was whether or not the in-browser/layered version of the app would still consider you active and online if the tab with Facebook wasn't the active tab. If my browser is up (meaning, if I am up...) I always have multiple tabs open and switch around a lot. I could imagine that would be annoying if Facebook considered the inactive tab as "offline."

Well, it doesn't. If you have a tab up with Facebook loaded, and you're working in another tab, and you get a message, the title of the tab changes (dare I say it blinks? because that is what it does...) and says "new message from [person]!"

It's very exciting.

* I don't use the pop-out chat because I need another window open like I need a hole in the head.
* I don't know what happens if you have multiple chat sessions open in an inactive tab. Probably the title of the tab keeps blinking as appropriate.
* I'd like to have an optional sound notification.
* If the chat API is open too, I predict it will take approximately 3-5 days for chat skins and themes to become available for download...with embedded ads. I'm ok with that. Hell, I should do one up. You know, in my copious free time. Whatev. I just want a little ping sound when I have a new message.

If anyone wants to chat, feel free anytime my wee dot is green.

updated 4/24/08: according to the FB FAQs, the API isn't open (yet? ever?), so no skins in the future. Also, Amit Agarwal at Digital Inspiration (who I used to link to a ton at the old blog, and still read daily) has a post about putting the chat client in the sidebar of your browser. I won't do it because I already have Sage in my sidebar and I don't need something else. But it might be useful to some.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

out of sync

Not me—I think I'm ok. But I was just looking at my blogroll and realizing that it does not really reflect the things in my feedreader.

I hereby vow to update it soon. Like maybe next week. Or tomorrow. I don't really know!

I do know that I am entirely finished with two seminars (papers completed, turned in, etc), so only two more projects to finish up this/next week.

Right now, though, I have to grade the final papers in my class. I'll also do final grades because I'm one of those keep-a-spreadsheet-throughout-the-semester people. I also have to remember to get donuts for class tomorrow.

What else? Oh! If you're not on the blogroll and think you should be, let me know! Chances are good you're already in my feedreader, but that's not public. I'm bad at sharing the love right now.

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

in the home stretch

Tomorrow represents the first day of the final week of my first year in the PhD program. After this week, I will have only 4 courses to take (next year: 2/2), exams (Fall '09) and my diss year. Although in years I'm only 1/4 through, it feels like so much more since it was 64% of my coursework.

But this post is not my retrospective of my first year.

Nor is it my explanation of the week of awesomeness I mentioned a few weeks ago.

Those posts will have to wait until this semester is put to bed.

But everything is lovely. I look forward to having the time to return to the gym, to hike around on the weekends, to visit California in a month or so (ALA conference just happens to be there), and to start revising a few papers and working up some conference proposals. You know, like a good little scholar...

In totally unrelated news, I was reading through some stuff on my old blog, and realized that some of it was pretty interesting and useful (mostly back in 05 and thereabouts). I was looking for some stuff I had written 3 or 4 years ago about using little pieces of technology, because some people still think it's "new" and asked me to explain it. Yeah, there's just a little tinge of sarcasm or something in that sentence. But that's for another day.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

trout's a coug!

My dear friend Trout, who darn well better update his blog with this news, will be joining me in the PhD program up here in the Palouse. I am SO STOKED, not only because I adore the Trout and Karen (wife of Trout) but because I already know he will be a good colleague and student, and a great guy to have in the hallways, and a great teacher, and blah blah blah. So not only do I get some of my old cooking/eating/drinking/thinking buddies, the university benefits as well! It's a win-win!

Go Cougs! and Trouts!

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

GUEST POST: How New Person Became Theory Whore Became My School Wife

[FROM JULIE: Ok, this is from Michelle, who comments here. Everything in this post (except for this crap in the brackets) is from her. She'd like to say hi.]

Is this thing on? Ha! A little guest blog humor for you guys :)

Okee dokee then. Our fine blogger friend here at Battle of the Ants asked me to write a post describing how she became my school wife. In order to explain such a thing I have to begin at the beginning: August 2007. I entered the classroom of my most favorite professor in the whole wide world for my second graduate seminar with her. Off in the corner I notice a New Person. Now generally I am wary of New People. Especially in said professor's classroom, because very few are worthy to be in her presence. When we did our introductions New Person mentioned that she works in my time period (point for her!), but on white guys who liked to look at plants (minus 5! Ouch!). I resolved to keep an open mind anyway because I'm generous that way. Very quickly we developed a rapport and a realization that we had many things in common, including reverence for aforementioned professor (+10!). In this course we began working with theory immediately and somehow New Person became Theory Whore. I cannot take credit for this awesome nickname as I think it was a classmate who came up with it, but those of you that know Theory Whore know this is a perfect nickname for her! The semester went on and we hung out even more, discovering our mutual love of paratexts, gaps, and potatoes. Then break was upon us. Theory Whore came to my house and met the parents! And the home husband and kids! This is no small feat, as I live in a galaxy far far away and Theory Whore was the first school friend I had who ever ventured out into the Blank to come see my natural habitat.

Enter spring semester and another seminar together. Our first task as students: to interpret a fairy tale through a particular critical lens assigned to us. When I got the email from Theory Whore about the assignment it contained one simple line: I will fight you for textual studies. That cemented it for me! We continued to hang out, discovering more mutual loves: Joss Whedon, BSG (even though she is ridiculously disciplined and won't watch the current season because she "doesn’t have time because of all her school work" so I can't talk to her about all the new developments like how Starbuck is back and Baltar is seeing himself now instead of Six...Woops! Spoiler Alert!), and bumblebees (those well-known bringers of luck). I talked about Theory Whore often to House Husband who has a School Wife of his own. You see, he is a Special Ed teacher and has worked for two years with the same Aide. As there are weeks when he sees her more than me, we jokingly began calling her School Wife. A couple of weeks ago I was relating a Theory Whore anecdote to House Husband and his response was: "you know she's your School Wife now, right?" We had a good laugh, and then I went to school and told Theory Whore who also laughed and thought it was an awesome nickname and so it is official. I look forward to a long friendship with School Wife. Now I have a traveling companion to ALA and Yosemite and have been promised deep-fried Oreos. The best part? Those gap jokes never get old. :)


this is one of those school-related posts that exactly two people will understand. if that.

I'm editing a paper right now (due today, natch), and I'm going through and integrating comments from workshop. In this paper, much like my important one last semester, comments reflect the fact that I always "lose" people when I start talking about Iser. People can hang with Darnton and Ong and McGann, but Iser? I never do a good job of explaining my use of Iser right out of the gate.

There's some irony there that makes me chuckle to myself...and not just at 2:40am.


Friday, April 11, 2008

for Linda...

World Grits Festival Begins Today

Do notice the dearth of references to grits + sugar.


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song chart meme: done!

Not only did Janet tag me for a meme, she tagged me for a really difficult one with creativity and thinking and stuff. Damn her!

But I did it, so there.

This is the song chart meme, in which you come up with a visual/graphical representation of a song or some lyrical subset of it (I stole that language from her.)

Behold! I give you:

I not C

Consider yourself tagged if you are so inclined.



Saturday, April 5, 2008

wowzers. what a week.

Last week was one of the first weeks in a long time when I was more of an employee-of-my-company than a student (because of the workload we had in). It was a pretty crappy time for me, but whatever. That's not the point of this post.

However, in the scholarly realm, Wednesday/Thursday/Friday were pretty damn spectacular. I was really, really tired from work and I'm pretty sure I wasn't making a lot of sense when I spoke to people, but things happened on those three days that were kind of life-altering. Or at least choice-affirming. And fun.

But I have a lot of stuff to catch up on at this moment, and I am still tired and might even take a nap, so I will leave the post-of-awesomeness for later.

In the meantime, I leave you with the Muppets. Beaker in particular...and we all know how Beaker is my favorite!

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