Writing to living or living to write

   Good Saturday morning,

I am trying to manage, arrange, and accomplish all the things that need to be done and have my life in some semblance of order by one week from today. That is my desire and, depending on the moment, such a goal seems modestly obtainable. There are the other moments it seems to be but a pipe dream of the most exponential level of difficulty. As I sit in the corner of Dunkin’ still realizing the changes in my life in the past month, I waver between smiles and tears. When I spoke with Chandra this morning we spoke about the struggling to grip the reality of the morning and the moments where reality seems to be suspended. It is at those moments I find the need to write. 

The interesting and oxymoronic daily routine we commonly call life seems to confound me at times. I am not sure if it because I do not think about things as clearly as I could or if it is because I ponder then too much. It is probably a combination of things and it depends on both the day and the thought process. Maybe it is because there is more truth to a diagnosis I was given in January of 2003 than I would like to admit. I do know I struggle to be consistent in my behavior and my management of life at times. I also painfully cognizant that I take things to heart more than I should from time to time. Learning to let go of the things I cannot control will be something I will always fight. . . . It is now almost 10:30 Monday night, but I am a few hours ahead of EST. I am at about 32,000 feet over the coast of Wales on an Aer Lingas flight to Cork. I was planning to rent a car, but there was an issue, so I am rethinking that. I think if I can get a ride to first nights accommodations, I can walk to the bed n breakfast where I will stay the remainder of the week. I do not really have a plan for the next few days other than get caught up and try to do some writing. Part of the method to my madness on this trip is both what I have been told as well as ancestry.com notes that County Cork is part of my heritage. The article I have been bouncing around for years is about the rhetoric of place. As such, it is entirely apropos that I should write about place on location of my ancestral roots. . . . Two days have past and I have been working on school things and also merely wandering around Cork. It reminds me of my first visit to Poland – just enough to get a flavor and creating a yearning to return. I am merely walking about today. Hard to believe I am on a plane again in less than 48 hours. I love the accents here and I want to come back in the summer. As I have traveled more internationally in the past two and a half years, I am continually impressed with the genuine goodness of so many people. It is easy to become a bit disheartened by some of the lunacy that seems to be permeating America’s own politics, even those campaigning for the nation’s highest office. I am old enough now to remember when political office was something a young person could, maybe should, aspire to. I think that is, in part, at least for me, that I hoped then President-elect Obama had brought back, and while I am certainly not asking him to shoulder all the blame for where we are politically, I believe all branches of the government, as well as the American populace must bear some of the guilt for the monster that has become the 2016 primary and campaign. It has been somewhat eye-opening to listen to the people I have met in Ireland speak about what they see. Their responses have been measured, but their looks are also of almost asking, “Really???” The violence that has occurred at rallies and now the cancelation of them over the weekend, has not really occurred since the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. It would be an interesting political examination of conparing the two reactions. The seemingly-liberal student response to Vietnam and the police an the seemingly-conservative (not sure what term to use) response to our current government appears to use similar tactics. I wonder if these older conservatives were the same liberals of the late 60s? Dr. Strine, it would be an interesting research project and article. 

I should note it is now again a Saturday morning and a week has passed by more quickly than I hoped. I have struggled this week to understand why, even as a veteran and patriotic American, again I seem to be more comfortable outside my country than in it. I am reminded of a line in the movie, The Last Samarai, when Algeran is asked what America had done for him to hate this country so (a paraphrase). I certainly do not hate my country and I am most cognizant of the profound structure created by our founders, structures that allow for the very variety of tactics used in the above mentioned campaign. To have two Cuban-Americans, at one point two women, a Jewish Democratic socialist, or a black neurosurgeon throw their energy into taking on a presidential campaign is certainly inspiring on one level. Yet, there is some disillusionment with the tenor of the campaign and the sound-byte culture that seems to characterize our politics. What happened to actually answering the questions posed? What happened that canned-answers are what we can expect? What happened to thinking and really knowing the issues? I know these are not new questions that I am posing? Is it merely my idealism shining through yet again? Is it my wishing that the good in people might “trump” the foolishness, the ridiculousness, the bullying? It is the lack of decorum and the complete disdain for rhetoric as an Aristotlean art that dismays me. 

This actually gets me to the title of my blog. It is through writing I reflect; it is through writing that I think the most clearly; it is through writing I believe to understand both the world and my place in it. It almost hurts me when my students say they so dislike writing. It is because writing forces one to think more carefully, more completely, more engagingly? What I realize more and more is that my writing helps me critically understand this complex and shrinking world. People in the Dominican Republic, Poland, the Czech Republic, Ireland, or the Unoted States are not really as different as one might think. We all desire contentment. We all desire opportunity. We all wish for a world where we might be valued. It is what I hope for. It is what I think about. It is why I write. Off to London and then NYC shortly. Time to post.
Thank you for reading,

Michael (aka: Dr. Martin, the wanderer)

The Fundamentals of College (and Life)

 Hello from my office,

We are back to the last week of classes and the finals the week following. This semester has gone much more rapidly (at least it seems to be the case) than any other semester since I first taught the fall of 1992. It has hard to believe that I have been doing this for this long a period of time. Today is the last day of the semester, so yet again it is a couple days since I began this post. Today I met with a student, who like many first year students, the shock of the elevation of expectations and the lack of preparedness from high school is much greater than ever imagined. It is not just that lack of preparedness that concerns me, it is the fundamental lack of critical thinking and the lack of study skills that shocks me. I asked the student about their studying and if they believed everything they had done should have prepared them. They said, yes, but barely passed an exam, twice. When I asked where the problem might be, they could not come up with an answer. In addition, they were somewhat content with where they stood. I understand to some extent the response, “it is what it is.” What I am not sure of is if they were trying to merely move forward, or they had somewhat given up, or they just did not even care. I am hoping it is the middle choice, but I am honestly not sure.

I must also say I do not put the entire weight of this on the student’s shoulders. They certainly have some responsibility, but our system, both public K12 and now the university must bear some of the fault. I see so many freshman under prepared. In this particular group of summer students, we structure them to the maximum in the summer and naively believe they have learned to manage their time and academic demands in six weeks. So in the fall they are left to their own to try to figure it out. Many of them fail miserably. The consequence is academic probation, a grade point they might never recover from, and a sense of disillusionment, where once they believed in a dream of moving beyond where they come from. Of my 22 summer students, it will be interesting to see how they have done. The seven or eight I am continuing to mentor show an overwhelming sense of struggle. Only one is where I think they should be. I wish there was an easy answer to this issue, but there isn’t. It would take a number of systemic changes. Yet, I guess if a couple figure it out there is some sense of achievement or success. It is my idealism wanting everyone to figure it out.

Since starting this post, another shooting, another connection to ISIS/ISIL, another reason to wonder what had happened. Again there is no easy answer and whoever becomes the next president (and I hope it is almost anyone but Trump-well not quite) will have a significant problem on their hands. When I first heard reports of the shooting and got names, the Arabic nature of the names automatically had me wondering. That reaction demonstrates the consequence of 911 and the incidences since then. How is this different from what happened to the Jews in Germany or the Japanese in the United States post-Pearl Harbor? It isn’t and I am mortified that I am in this position. I have Muslim students, one in particular who is like my own child, who are normal,  hard working, and would never want such terror to befall their neighbors and friends. How did one faith that was basically built on prayer and giving become so violent for a particular element of the followers of Muhammad? I do not see a call for violence in their five pillars of faith.  Of course, the same can be said for many who proclaim the Christian faith for whom the golden rule is a fundamental tenet, but certainly do not demonstrate such behavior and treat those who are either different or believe differently with such disdain or hatred.

While I did not experience either of those extremes anytime lately, it is always interesting for me to see how so many are so kind or close when they need something, but otherwise they act quite differently. Students are so predictable. It amuses me on one hand and saddens me on the other. The end of the semester panic (or acceptance) that their poor choices for 14 weeks cannot be fixed by extra credit, tears, or avoidance. The belief that it is just something to do over when they have simply thrown away 1000s of dollars. Part of it is immaturity. Part of it is learned selfishness. Part of it is our willingness in our public schools to give something for nothing. Merely show up, stay out of trouble, and turn in something and you can have an A or B. I am witnessing the consequence every semester. That is not to say there are not strong or smart hard working students, but the overwhelming belief that I should go to college merely because I should is misguided. Not everyone should go straight out of high school. Perhaps most shouldn’t. All I know is the fundamentals of discipline and priorities, which are necessary to succeed in college are not fundamental to many of my students. The consequences are consequential: difficulty in finding a job and significant debt for a piece of paper that guarantees nothing.

Just my thoughts. Thanks for reading.

Dr. Martin

Managing Tenure

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Good Morning from my office,

It is early or late, depending on your perspective. I did get a nap a bit earlier and have been back at the office for about the last 5 hours. I am making progress and, at least for the moment, seem to be pretty lucid and focused. I did decide to take a quick break before getting back to this statement. I have had a productive day and I am down to the last section, which is my service to the university community and the profession. While there is a lot to write it is not difficult, or not as difficult, as some of the previous sections. Perhaps, difficult is not even the correct word: it is tedious and time consuming because of the need to lay out a pretty extensive overview of things like grades, evaluation percentages and everything else that might be included in such things.

I just finished working with a student named Ronie. He is the most wonderful person. He is kind and sincere. He works tremendously hard and he is dependable. He came by for help with his writing and an assignment he is currently working on for his writing class. We spoke about the assignment and what he wants to accomplish. We talked about how to begin to research and how to manage some of that initial thinking. We had an interesting chat about things like Wikipedia or other sources. While I am well aware that some faculty say do not use Wikipedia, I am not sure I agree. I think it is a great place for students to get some initial information and for them to get their proverbial feet a bit wet as they start to research or consider a topic. What happens too often is students have little or no background on a topic and they have an assignment and they merely write some “stream-of-consciousness” garbage as a way to get into their paper. Seldom is that strategy successful. Usually it is frustrating both the student because he or she does not know where to start, much more where he or she might be going. It is frustrating for  me as the professor because the product that needs up being turned in is abysmal. This is why I am not afraid to tell students to use Wikipedia as a first step. If he or she gets something reasonable into his or her head, at least they have something a bit more substantial than a page or so of some sound-bite-out-of- context-piece-of-crap that too often a student believes to be a strong beginning to their assignment. How wrong they are!! Ronie and I have talked about a plan for the last three weeks of the semester. At least I know he will take the advice and follow through. He also had another professor reach out an be willing to help him. What students need to learn is that most professors are willing to help and assist if a student will step up and be accountable or himself or herself. Students would do well to figure that out earlier rather than later. Some have to learn it the hard way. I guess I cannot say too much on that score because I was one of those persons who needed to fail before I realized the value of this educational opportunity. I think the difference now is there are so many ways students can receive help today. I am not sure we had those options.

For two weeks now I have been putting in a lot of hours managing and composing this tenure statement. I am blessed because I have a great department that genuinely wants me to succeed. That is a real gift. They are neither indifferent nor or they out to get me. This is significant because of a past experience I had. While I must admit I am pretty stressed out by this entire process, I know I am not unique in that. I remember watching two of my colleagues in the fall and I know they are glad this part is behind them. Having moving to “January-hire” status because of my medical leave the fall of 2012, I am trying to finish all of this as a semester is being completed. That adds to some of the stress. As I have noted before, it is in writing of this blog and I alleviate some of that. I think I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I am pretty sure it is NOT another train. At least, I sure the heck hope not.

While, again, I can rationally think about where I fit in all this tenure work, I am always amazed by the degree to which you need to focus on each and every nook and cranny of the past five years of existence. I also know that this is important because it is expected that you have done what you need to do to prove your value to both the individual community, but also to the larger profession. As I have noted in earlier posts, you know that there is life on the other side of the process because there are a number of colleagues post-tenure, but it is stressful nonetheless. I was reminded again this evening to be positive in my mindset. It is interesting to receive that admonishment when in so many ways the deliverer seems to trust so little. There is something oxymoronic about that, but perhaps it is because there is this rather pure self-assuredness. I still am trying to figure out the disconnect there seems to be. Perhaps it is like most of us. We can provide the advice to others that we cannot really take ourselves. I am sure that I fall into that trap too often.

I am reminded what Dr. John W. Nielsen, my humanities advisor, said to me when I returned to Dana the spring after I had graduated with my first full-blown bout of Crohn’s Disease. I had lost almost 30 pounds in less than 6 weeks and my body was literally tearing itself apart internally. He told me I looked really bad. About a week later I ended up in the hospital in Omaha, Nebraska. What he said to me was simple and profound. After telling me I looked badly, he said, “Michael, let me put this to you in a theological way, a Lutheran way. Your theology of grace works fine for everyone but yourself.” I remember as I stood looking in the mirror at my emaciated body, those words came back to ring loud and clear in my ears. The long-story-short of that moment was it was the first of many trips to the hospital to manage this IBD that fights me. It was the first time I began to understand just how serious my health issues were. I ended up in the hospital for almost three weeks and I ended up on a lot of medication, medication that would have to take for years.

In some ways, tonight I got the secular version of Dr. Nielsen’s admonishment from yet another one who knows me well, perhaps too well. I am rather amazed by the dichotomous nature that seems to permeate most every part of her. She is Luther’s systematic in human form. What is more interesting is how well is seems to be managed. Is paradox logical or is it merely a dialectic? Is it more post-modern? I am sure Luther would not want to be seen in a pomo way. Or would he? Those are musings for another time. At this point, my brain is a bit clearer and I am hoping a few hours of sleep might provide what I need to hit this again one more day. While it is after 2:30 in the morning, I feel much better than I did earlier this evening. I am feeling more positive and capable. See, I do listen? While I might be a bit stubborn about it, I do try to take sage advice and follow it. I will make it through this tenure process. I have worked hard and accomplished a lot of positive things since first arriving at Bloomsburg 5 years ago. I have found support at most every level here and I need to remember that. I can only put things out there demonstrating that I have value. I know I do.

Thanks for reading my trepidations and thanks for reminding me that I have value. I know it, but I struggle with trying to articulate it in a way that sounds appropriate. Time to go home for a nap. Perhaps a couple of hours will get me ready for the rest of the day. The picture is of a previous portion of my life. Amazing that my hair was that color or that I wore glasses full-time then

Dr. Martin

Four Weeks and A Wake-up

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Hello on a cold and rainy April morning,

As I write this, I am not sure what is up with either the weather or my voice at the moment. Yesterday might have been the nicest day we have had thus far this Spring (or the end of the never-ending Winter). I am tired of cold, dreary, and damp. I need some sunshine and I need it now . . . not being as patient as I might be, but I am merely fed up with all of this. I am tired of the winter and what it does to my psyche. At least this rain today is not snow. It might also be affected by the fact that I have minimal voice today and I feel a bit under the weather. Very seldom am I cold, but I think I am today. I am sitting in my office with the heater running and with my jacket on. That is generally not a good sign.

It is hard for me to fathom that we are into the last four weeks of the semester. I worked so hard before spring break to get caught up and I walked into the second half of the semester in relatively good shape. Somehow that has all disappeared and it is not like I have been sitting on my hands over the last two-three weeks. I just wonder where the time goes and then how much more quickly it seems to go. I  know as a student I always found these last weeks to be a bit overwhelming. What I have found out in the last 20 years is that it is not any different on the other side. In fact, while it might be because I am experiencing it now and the other is a bit of a distant memory, I think I might argue that this side of that equation is more difficult. I think there is more responsibility and when we do not do something, the consequences are felt or seen by a lot more people.

Over the weekend I got a number of things done from schoolwork to small projects around the house. I felt pretty productive because there are things I had not really gotten to since I moved into the house. It is hard to believe that it has been almost two years since I moved to Lightstreet. I am pretty content with my dwelling at the moment. It was nice to have my niece there last week, as noted in my previous post. I actually grilled out yesterday and had dinner guests. It was a great evening, in spite of the cancellation of one, who, ironically, was the person who set it up from the outset. It taught be more the differences in people. I am always amazed by those differences, regardless of genetics. When my three eldest nephews and niece (two and one) were small, I babysat them a lot after my brother passed away. I was always astounded by how different they were. In spite of the same genetics, they were profoundly different in their personalities; how they managed their issues; and what they deemed important. To this day that remains as true as it was back then. It is simply the truth. I learned that lesson again this weekend.

During the next week, I have to put together my tenure statement and packet. I have been working on it and I have all my documentation in a pretty organized fashion. Over the next couple days, I need to write and tabulate, collate and whatever other kinds of “ates” I can manage. I am always stumped by the anxiety that comes with these sort of tasks. You know that other people have survived it because they are tenured; they are still here. However, I never imagine that I am going to survive this next gauntlet. I have survived everyone (with one exception or maybe two -Yikes, I better not start counting those!!) and I am still going. It is merely making sure that I manage things in a timely and orderly manner, but that is the secret to life in general. Except, it is not really a secret, though I am not sure one might believe that when they look at what some people do.

The title of the posting is a reminder that these next four weeks that should be my mantra “organization and timeliness”. I know that I have a propensity for that from the outset, but there are times I am certainly not as effective of efficient as I could be. This is certainly not a time for any inefficiency or procrastination . . . and before you say that this is procrastination, it actually clears my head and gets my fingers (which are hurting because of two small cuts on the very tips, which makes typing a pain) moving. I have learned that doing this writing gets the things rattling around in my head out of my head and that makes room for other things. So now to the other things.

Thanks for reading, as always.

Dr. Martin

Running, Jogging or Limping toward Spring Break

IMG_1616Hello from my office,

It is about 8:30 and I still have some work to finish up, especially some recommendations I have promised students by the morning, so that will be my next task. I have been meeting with students or in class most of the day. I do not have classes on Thursdays and because of conferences this week (over 40 of them), I have canceled Friday’s Foundations classes. So, I am effectively done teaching until after Spring break. When I was in college, I never went on a Spring Break excursion. There are two reasons for that: first, I was usually on choir tour when I was at Dana College; and second, even when I was at the University of Iowa my junior year, while there was no choir tour, I worked. I was not a student who either had the money nor someone to foot the bill for me to find my way to a Revenge of the Nerds II or some other __________ (you fill in the blank) style of a Spring Break extravaganza. Even now, I plan to stay here in Bloomsburg for the most part and work. I have three significant projects to get off my plate as well as get all my grading caught up. It will certainly be a working break, and I am okay with that. I do want to have the end of the semester go as well as possible for both sides of that “blank-stare-equation”.

It has been a long day and I have been chugging Gatorade like it is going out of style. Dehydration is a significant issue for me and it has certainly reared its ugly head in the last 24 hours. It is so frustrating to continually battle some of this, but more importantly, I am here to battle, so this is not a complaint (at least not completely) and I am certainly not lamenting my life because I am so fortunate to have the life I do. However, what I am sure of is that, not all that different from my students, is I am tired and therefore, appreciate any sort of respite from the usual requirements of a week.

As I met with my students today, I was reminded of how diverse they are, and this is not a comment about their ethnicity. It is about their educational backgrounds (and more specifically, their writing history). I have some unbelievably talented students and strong writers in all of my classes. I have some exceptionally intelligent students who are not in my classes at the moment, nor have they been in the past, but they are phenomenal students. They value the opportunity they have here at Bloomsburg and they are doing everything they can in their power to “claim their education”. I think one of the best things I have ever been fortunate enough to read about being in the academy is this particular article. It is one based on the address Adrienne Rich gave at Rutgers University some time ago. Rather than seeing the university as the next educational mill, she argues that if one is to “claim” this opportunity to be educated, he or she must consider that “they are joining a scholarly community” (Claiming an Education 2). Certainly some of the students I met during the last three days have understood or latched onto that concept. It is difficult to maintain focus on it all of the time, and I for one certainly know that. However, I think it is one of the most fundamental concepts someone can have if they are going to invest wisely in their education.

I wonder at times if what I do really matters, and I am not searching nor am I fishing for compliments, so please do not go there. It is when I feel like everything I have said has somehow fallen on deaf ears or even more sadly that the student is almost defiant (and yes, I mean that word versus a misspelling of definite), almost daring me to make them learn, or write more effectively, or somehow believe that writing has value. I had some of that tonight and it was difficult for me to maintain a sense of decorum, but I did. I am reminded of my former pastor once telling me that I would do well in college unless I just F$!#@*ed off. What I know now is he was correct. His name was Fred Peters and he was my pastor when I first got out of the service. I think he kicked my back end harder than my father ever did, and I needed it at that point.

So what actually lit the fire under my proverbial ass, and got me to do my work? It was another amazing professor (actually two of them) at Dana College. Dr. John W. Nielsen, the director of the Humanities program, and Dr. Richard S. Jorgensen, my history advisor, together taught me to love learning. What an amazing gift they provided me. I think that up until then I merely did what was expected, if even that. I was content to be what my father noted with disdain “average”. I did not really know what I was capable of, even in spite of my work in the service that had been pretty good work. The demons of my background kept me from believing that I had much to offer. Those demons might not be as powerful now, but they are still, nevertheless, demons. I think there were two specific events in my sophomore year at Dana that fundamentally changed my life. The first was the opportunity given to me by Harold and Dorothy Wright when they paid my way to go to Europe with Dr. Nielsen in January of 1981. The second was the entire Humanities program at Dana College, which was a three semester course. I learned “how to learn”. Between walking the streets with Dr. Nielsen in Copenhagen, Rome, Florence, Barcelona, Aachen, Frankfort, Garmisch Partenkirken, or Paris and listening to his wise counsel in the first class coaches on the eRail, I found that learning was being a sponge. It was soaking up everything possible. The humanities course had prepared me to walk through that European history book. I think perhaps the other thing that changed my life was learning another language. I am still working on adding more. I love to hear other languages and I am so enamored by how language works and how it reveals who we are. I am so envious of those who speak three or four languages fluently. So it is time to learn some more.

That is part of my plan for the next months. I am going to learn Spanish. I am going to make myself be able to at least communicate and be able to comprehend. I want to learn the grammar and the patterns and the vocabulary. It is my hope that I will not sound completely like a “gringo” as I work on my pronunciation. If I do, I am sure someone will let me know. Well, it is time to get back to the recommendations. If you are going somewhere fun during break, have a great time and please do not let me know.

Thanks for reading as always.

Dr. Martin

Taking a Break (from reading to doing)

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Good evening from my office,

Somehow, for the first time since I can remember, I actually had no clue that this morning was the beginning of the switch to daylight savings time. I am not sure how, but when I woke up and it was supposedly 9:00 a.m., I was astounded that I had slept that long. I might even go as far to say I wondered when the time might be changing, but I had no inkling that I had actually missed it. Then I got to the diner and heard about it at the infamous counter. The look of some of the regulars that I had missed it was rather amusing, maybe even priceless.

Today I have been reading student papers the entire day. I did just go out to get something to eat, which was a needed break and probably a good thing as I had not eaten since this morning. I have been really pleased overall with the thought that has gone into some of the papers. I have been generally pleased with the quality of some of the peer reviews. I think students worked really intentionally to provide helpful feedback to their colleagues. What has stumped me a bit is when students did not have a works cited page with their rough drafts. First, it is stated clearly in the syllabus; second, I mentioned it on numerous occasions during class. Third, there was a works cited assignment that was due before they even wrote their first draft, so how do you turn in a works cited page and then not use any of the sources in your paper? I am most confused!! Citation is certainly a problem and something that is so widespread that it is painfully evident that this is not being taught in the public school system nor is it being practiced on a regular basis.

I have been in contact with some former youth and a friend from my former state of Wisconsin. Along with another person here in Bloomsburg, I guess I can refer to them as “Tres Melissas” and between the three they cover the entire continent: Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and California. They are very different and yet all similar: All strong willed and yet unbelievably kind. The Greek mythological meaning is honey bee. I also looked up the meaning of the name and for them, it certainly rings true. I think about the fact that I have had more than one first name in my life time. What is interesting is that I have characteristics of both of the names, but the name Michael and the name Melissa have many of the same characteristics. I guess that would be an interesting thing because when I was speaking with one of the Melissas about colors, we had the same color also. It is interesting that all of this is out there and I wonder how it all fits together sometimes. I am reminded of a book I once read called The Celestine Prophecy and The Tenth Insight. I actually enjoyed both books because they made me think. I remember some people condemning me for dabbling in New Age Philosophy because I was a Lutheran pastor at the time. I do not believe God is that fragile. That is what I told people at the time.

As I work with the idea of a higher power, creator, God, or whatever other term some might be more attuned to, I am always amazed how we try to “own” this entity. He (or she) is OUR God. We too often believe we have some inside track to the creator and our agenda is God’s agenda. It is a bit laughable when you think about it with any degree of critical thought. Of course, my favorite philosophy professor would argue that any thought of God is a lack of critical thought, especially if you are to argue for such existence. I have found myself pondering all of that more than I might have imagined at one point in my life. When I am working on things, my brain is always going. Unfortunately, it seldom shuts down. That can be a problem. However, it always provides something interesting to ponder and examine.

Well, I need to get back to the papers, so this is a short entry, but it does give some insight into what I do when I am taking a break.

Thanks for reading as always.

Miguelito (as Marco calls me)

Wisconsin Weather in Pennsylvania

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Good Morning from my office,

I am still working on housekeeping details for the new semester and this little corner of the world, known as 119B Bakeless, has seen more of me than any other place. For the last 13 days, it seems I have spent more time at my desk and worked on more things than one might imagine. At this point, I have met with three of my four sections of class (only my Writing for Multiple Media class has yet to meet) and it was pleasant to see so many emails as students tried to work on the first of some of the technological items they have to manage for the first week of class.

In the first six years that I have been blogging, I have watched the importance and the variety of blogs become quite an interesting thing, I initially blogged as a sort of journal. I was working in the Miraflores winery that summer, which is located outside of Placerville, California. I had the pleasure and great fortune of meeting Marco Cappelli, one of the most truly Renaissance persons, I have ever gotten to know. He is amazing. Here are a couple of links you might so you might have an opportunity to meet him also (http://www.winesandvines.com/template.cfm?content=57321&section=features) (http://www.sacmag.com/Sacramento-Magazine/May-2009/On-Wine-Putting-the-Foothills-on-the-Map/). The summer I spent out in the Sierra Nevada Mountains changed my life.

When I came back to Wisconsin, I continued to blog and my blog at that point took a sort of cultural/philosophical personality. I wrote about things I noticed everyday and things that caused me to step back and wonder. In someways those blogs were both cathartic and freeing. I had a space to say things that I believed somehow needed to be said, while I did not ask for a following, I imagine some people did read because I got comments. I should also note that it is not that I believe I am that wise or profound that people need to listen to, or read texts about, things I believe need to be said. Yet, I do believe that I am willing to see a bigger picture often. During the time I have been here at Bloomsburg, I have not been as disciplined about the writing. That is sad because I think it has affected my writing. I find it harder to write, more difficult to get started, and infinitely more frightened about whether or not I have something worth saying. I should note that this seems to be the same across all of my writing.

So, while I have written a bit more regularly in this WordPress blog, I plan to be even more disciplined. I will write at least three times a week. In those posts, I will try to cover three things: things I am observing in my class will provide some of the text that I want to consider in my writing. I want to reflect on what is happening in my classes as well as do some scholarly work with that reflection. Second, I am going to be doing some other needed writing and I want to use this as a sort of sounding board (for my own mind, if you will) for that writing as well as a sort of discipline to say this is what I am accomplishing. Third, in being as I have always been, to be somewhat reflective on what is happening in and around my life.

At this point, I am headed off to a meeting with various constituencies and the dean about the certificate, the minor, and the proposed major track in professional writing. I hope you have a good day and can stay warm.

Dr. Martin (aka: Michael)