Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Is a Hogwarts education all it's cracked up to be?

Spoilers? You betcha.

I've been obsessing thinking about the Harry Potter series again, and saw the mention in JKR's interview with the Today Show that she saw Harry as the head of Aurors, possibly giving occasional talks in Defense Against the Dark Arts class at Hogwarts. Ever since book 4, I've sort of seen Harry eventually getting the DADA job, solidified in book 5 when he leads Dumbledore's Army, and even moreso with the revelations about Riddle's thwarted desire to teach at Hogwarts. Harry is the anti-Voldemort -- and I see his future as following the path that Voldemort couldn't. He marries, has kids, and (in my opinion) should be a teacher.

Which got me thinking: how good were the teachers at Hogwarts? Hagrid and Trelawny specifically struck me as not very good instructors. Snape, while certainly knowledgeable about his subject matter, really bothered me because he treated his students in such a prejudiced manner. From day one, he clearly favored the Slytherins and went out of his way to antagonize Harry and the Grifs.

McGonegal seems pretty cool. The History of Magic professor was so dull I can't even remember his name. He was a ghost, right? And the long line of undesirables teaching DADA... well, that's part of the curse.

Now, granted, this is a children's book series, written roughly from Harry's perspective, and I understand that between the ages of 11 and 17, most of these kids wouldn't really like or appreciate their teachers. But really, this seems like Hogwarts (or its tenure and hiring system) needs a major overhaul. Hiring Neville to teach Herbology seems a step in the right direction.

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

A Moment of Silence

For two reasons. First, as Neel informed me, Skip Prosser, head coach for Wake Forest men's basketball team, passed away of a heart attack. 56 is too young. So a moment of silence there.

Secondly, and not so sadly, I'm headed out of town tonight for another wedding. So there will be a moment of silence on the blog as well. But hopefully, when we get back, there will be a shot of Quinn in her splendiferous sari!!! (Cross your fingers, A and K.) Catch you next week.

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What do you do when your white yarns don't match?

Two-thirds of the way through my latest blanket, I ran of out white yarn and ran out to the craft store to get some more. No dye lot my ass...

So what do you do? Improvise. I knew I wanted to put a pink border on this, to match a hat I'd made. So I started incorporating stripes of some complementary shades of pink. I think it's working thus far. And I believe a fringe will look nicer than a border on this stitch anyway.


The Wild Boy Finishes Zinn

It was rough going, but we've stripped him of his imperialist perspective on U.S. History.

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Monday, July 23, 2007

Absolutely Tons of Spoilers Here!

Ok, I'm finished. Please feel free to discuss in the comments.


Sunday, July 22, 2007

Absolutely No Spoilers Here!

As I'm sure you've guessed, I've spent just about every waking moment this weekend disentangling myself from the kids in an effort to get entangled in the world of Harry Potter. And I'd been doing a pretty good job. I got WB down for his nap and DQ in her room for her quiet time, and went to my room anxious to get back into the book. Oooh, exciting!

I was 450 pages into it, and then it happened. Page 387. Again.

I turned the page. 388. 389. Et cetera. For about 30 pages, then we jump ahead to 483. Um, WHA???

I flew to the phone and called my friendly neighborhood Borders. I explained the situation (and the woman on the telephone says "Oh my GOD! That's horrible!" -- alas, she understood my plight.) and asked if they had any copies and could I exchange it. She put one on hold for me, and so now I'm waiting... not so patiently... for WB to wake up so we can take a little trip to the bookstore. I'm sorely tempted to help him along in the waking process.

Can you feel my pain??? I feel in need of St. Mungo's already.

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Saturday, July 21, 2007

Time out

Can't blog. Pottering.


Friday, July 20, 2007


Here's a question for all those academics out there: how do you keep enough distance to prevent becoming over-invested in your students, yet still connected enough to help them?

Here's the problem I'm having. My spring term class was fantastic. But one of my students had to take an incomplete for a very defensible reason. She ended up missing the last couple of weeks, but contacted me regularly to let me know what was going on, and we worked out a schedule for when she would turn the last few items in. We agreed to a two week extension for her to complete the rest of the work.

Well, that was a month ago. And nothing. I've heard nothing from her. This is a very good student, one who was consistently on top of things until just now.

Part of me knows that there are many legitimate reasons why she would drop the ball on this -- related either to the pre-existing reason for the incomplete, or something new out of the blue. And I know that lots of people don't think about college as the end-all-be-all of their lives. There are even people (gasp!) who don't care if I give them an F. And that's ok. Not everybody prioritizes college (or simply grades) the same.

My dissertations sisterhood is telling me not to get worked up about this. Of course, that advice came the same day as a flier advertising a campus fundraiser for a student who just awoke from a coma. Here is me trying not to scan the obituaries for my student's name.

My student evaluations tend to praise me for my level of approachability and connectedness; I don't want to lose that. But I need to watch my investment level. Now I've just got to figure out how to do that.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

World of Pop Update: Quarterfinals

Ok, I'm in love. At the tender age of 29, Lucien Eldred's diatribe against the music of 2006 (and all the repartee as both contestants failed to answer a single question) was classic! New favorite moment; new favorite team. Well, especially now that the Cascadian reps, Remo Leen Teen Teen, and Fragilay are out.

Incidentally, I was able to identify one of the songs. Thanks to my attachment to our local dance station on my way home from evening classes, I know my Christina Aguilera.

No, K, I didn't get Sexyback.


Monday, July 16, 2007

I'm shocked! Shocked, I tell you!

Ok, I'm getting a bit obsessed. Just saw Order of the Phoenix (loved it!), just re-read book 6, and am counting the days until book 7 comes out. [Stephen Colbert Spoiler Alert: Hermione's a dude.] Which is rather awkward, 'cause:

What Harry Potter Character are You?

Hermione Granger

You are a smart and intelligent person. You use your smarts to help out friends. You can be emotional at times but you always seem to be in the mood to help someone out.

Personality Test Results

Click Here to Take This Quiz

Quizzes and Personality Tests

As seen as APL's.


Friday, July 13, 2007

The World Series is Back

Of Pop Culture, that is. This year's VH1 Pop Trivia extravaganza is on, and I'm wathcing. Much more voraciously than I did last year, actually.

Last year, I made reference about how the team names were the most interesting part of the competition. This year, I think that may not be true.

Really, the categories are spectacular this year. Stuff like Weird Al, Butt songs, you name it. And in the style of Phantom Scribbler, I give you a bonus conversation:

Spouse and I were watching last night when they got to the tie-breaker on black actors who have won acting Academy Awards. Denzel, Jennifer Hudson, even Sidney Poitier. We're doing well. And then the contestants get down to the last one and there's a distinct pause.

Spouse: "Louis Gossett Jr."
Quinn (shocked): "I think you're right!"
Spouse: "Yeah, I saw this episode last night. Who's Louis Gossett Jr.?"


Thursday, July 12, 2007

28 Days Later

[This post is inspired by some discussion in the comments over at Jade's.]

Once upon a time, I lived in the South. And one of the true hallmarks of living in the South is having extended conversations (sometimes quite personal!) with waitstaff, cashiers, gas station attendants, and other folks you meet in brief, impersonal settings. Such as: The fam went to the Cracker Barrel for some mean biscuits one morning during our recent trip to North Carolina. The waitress of course wanted to know if we were visiting from out of town (yes), if we had flown or driven (flown), if we'd ever been here before (yes, we attended college in the Triangle), which college (Duke), and what we thought of the Lacrosse scandal. Ok, that's going overboard. I don't even want to get into the details of the Nifong situation with my parents, much less the lady at the Cracker Barrel.

But the instance that I will always remember is at a healthy grocery store in Tejas. I was buying a wide variety of healthy fruits and veggies, plus a couple of pints of Ben and Jerry's (like you do.) The cashier complimented my supposed healthy lifestyle, and I mentioned self-deprecatingly that we hadn't gotten to the ice cream yet. "Oh, honey, don't worry about that. Everybody needs it occasionally."

"Yeah, all things in moderation, right?"

"Besides, as long as you've got a regular menstrual cycle, you're doing fine."

All of a sudden, our friendly little repartee had turned into a crisis on my end. I don't have a menstrual cycle. At least, not a regular one. And I wanted to cry, there in the check-out line. What's wrong with me? Why aren't I normal?

My emotions toward my cycle are confusing. I hate the damn thing when it does come. It is evil and I have pretty bad PMS. And yet, there's this belief that I can't shake that its presence represents normality, defines womanhood, shows that my body is functioning. Instead, I can take medications that may or may not restore my "normality" through abnormally supplied hormones. Oh, and to keep my hair from falling out and my blood sugar from doing crazy crap. Is that normal?

Down deep, I know that I'm not defined by my menstrual cycle, any more than I'm defined by my looks, or the size of my breasts, or my (sometimes in-)ability to bear children. And yet... and yet.

Here's more on PCOS if you're interested.

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Monday, July 09, 2007

Historical Question(s) of the Day

Does Cheney's shooting his friend in the face make teaching Aaron Burr's assassination of Alexander Hamilton more relatable to students these days? And who should play Burr in the movie of his life?

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Sunday, July 08, 2007

If Only...

Conversation while watching Live Earth. Ann Curry was interviewing Al Gore, and getting way too leany and touchy and invading-his-personal-spacy.

Spouse: "She should keep her hands to herself."
Quinn: "Will she lean back? She's making me nervous."
Spouse: "Yeah, stop touching the president!"


Quinn: "I love you so much."

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Saturday, July 07, 2007

That's a good question... shut up!

I spent this afternoon working on my syllabus for my "everything under the sun" class this fall. I have the textbooks, so I was starting to draw up weekly topics and readings. Spouse walked in and takes a look at the textbook.

Spouse: "So, do you know all this stuff?"
Quinn: "Hell, no."
Spouse: "Then how are you going to teach it and make it interesting?"


Wednesday, July 04, 2007

"Project Slut"

Happy 4th and all that crap. I'm feeling really pessimistic about the future of the country these days, so I'll just skip over all that and tell y'all that I had a nice anniversary, and get on with other random crap.

T once described herself as a "project slut" or "craft slut," meaning one who moves from one project to another with no serious aspirations of finishing anything. Or maybe just killing time until the next (more interesting) project comes along. But this is really more of craft serial monogamy. And I do it too.

But now, the times they are a changin'. I have become a project slut. I have 2 different blankets going right now, and have "cheated" on both of them to make a hat and three (yes, THREE!) purses.

I am giving these to WB's teachers as end of the year presents. I liked them so much, I made myself a larger one out of the remainder of the yarn.

[Aside: while at the wedding, a debate broke out about whether I was sufficiently granola enough to warrant the title "granola." My response: "I crocheted myself a damn purse! That isn't granola enough?" N responded, "You need a dress made of wheat." Touché.]


Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Wild Boy Learns Geography

We have one of those plastic world map placemats. (Chorus of readers: of course you do, Quinn!) Recently, WB was eating his lunch and noticed something on the placemat.

"Mommy, there's goop!" He said, pointing to some spots in the Pacific and attempting to scratch them off.

"That's not goop. That's Hawaii." I told him.

He tried again to scratch the marks off. When that failed, he bent over and licked the placemat. They still hadn't come off. "Oh, it's Hawaii?"




Monday, July 02, 2007

Rollin' with the Hindus (Part III)

The continuing saga of the wedding of the century! My mom asked me before we left for NC if the groom was going to ride in on a horse. I said, "If anybody would be doing it, it would be him." And yes, there was a horse.

Saturday morning: baraat.

I've always been on the groom's side of the wedding, so I've never seen what the bride's family and friends do prior to the ceremony. But we had a blast out in the parking lot, processing our asses off. We were following an SUV with a hell of a sound system. Spouse was off being a groomsman -- so he had to dance around with the knife and the coconut. Significance? Who knows? I was wrangling the kids and trying to dance occasionally.

We drew a crowd of curious onlookers, and I believe at one point about 30 people were standing in front of the hotel watching the scene. DQ and WB were more interested in the groom's horse. His name was Jack, and both of them got to pet him after the groom descended. (He was actually pretty skittish. Maybe he doesn't like Hindi pop.)

You know the whole Joseph Campbell theory that all cultures and religions have the same elements?

The Hindu version of the Hava Nagila. Minus the chairs = Higher degree of difficulty.

After the procession, we went inside and the actual marriage ceremony took place. Here's the priest bestowing his blessing. Yay! They're married!

Thanks to P-nut for these pictures, since my camera was AWOL. (I give props to those who deserve it, and believe me y'all, she's worth it.)

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