Migraine Day #9: The Fear

Late last Thursday as I was wrapping up my final class of the day, I felt myself growing inexplicably irritated. At first I thought my annoyance was because of a particular student, but the more I thought about it the less that made sense; the student, though annoying in general, hadn’t done anything to provoke the intensity of feeling I detected. The next morning I woke up and still felt off. Eventually I realized I had a headache, an epiphany I greeted with a sense of relief. Yes, my head hurt. But at least I had understanding. Oh. That’s why I’m in a bad mood. Okay. Now I get it.

That was nine days ago. The migraine has not gone away. It’s getting worse. Continue reading

Mailbag questions

questions clouds I’ve posted 200 blogs here over two years, covering subjects from dating to basketball to book reviews to death to asshole ex-landlords to 9/11 to plagiarism to North Carolina. Good times.

One thing I haven’t done is a mailbag of viewer questions and prompts. So I’m opening it up to any and all readers. Is there something you’d like to see addressed? If you know me, maybe there’s a story you’d like to see immortalized in a blog piece. If you don’t know me, maybe there’s something you’ve wondered but never asked. Well, here’s your chance. You have total diplomatic immunity. Take advantage! However you ended up here – Twitter; LinkedIn; bluesofnine; warp zone; tesseract; rabbit hole; the red pill – give me a shout in the comments below and let me know. That rhymed.

Death trending?

My first 34 years of life, not many people I knew – like, really knew – ever died. Only a few, spread out over time. This weekend, a good friend passed away. He’s the sixth person I know in two years who’s now gone. I made music with the first. Partied in college with the second. Laughed a lot with the third. Survived high school with the fourth. Shared blood with the fifth. Shared creative writing and futbol with the sixth.

If you’re reading this and we’re friends, you may want to consider breaking things off with me.

When Plagiarists Keep It Real


This week, at both colleges where I teach, someone posted flyers advertising for a paper-writing service. They marketed themselves as a “current Master’s student.” I was struck by the seeming audacity and doublethink of this. So I called the ad, pretended to be a student, and set up a meeting. I wanted to find out how someone in academia came to the conclusion that writing papers for others is kosher. I also wanted to hear from students about their feelings regarding plagiarism. Check it the story over at the Stony Brook Writing & Rhetoric blog.

The 95 Theses of Keeping your Faith in the Knicks’ rebuild

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In case you have a life, you may not have noticed the Knicks have 4 wins and 18 losses, including their last eight. The fallout’s been predictable: fans are questioning rookie coach Derek Fisher and rookie president/guru Phil Jackson. Haters be hating. Faith be faltering. But that’s the thing with faith: it’s when you really question it that it shines through. So in honor of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses, I wrote a 95 Theses for keeping the faith in the Knicks’ rebuilding effort. Check it out at Posting & Toasting.

The Effect of Foreign and Native Speakers in the Classroom

In addition to bluesofnine here and my fabulous-yet-neglected-classic-middle-child sports blog Page 2 Sports, I’ve added another ingredient to my blog stew: Stony Brook University’s Program in Writing and Rhetoric blog. I posted my first blog there tonight, about how the evolution of a group I founded with two students last year combining English-speaking natives and non-native speakers has benefited the students who attend the meetings and benefited me as a professor by its influence on my classroom lessons. If fluency excites you, this blog post’s for you.

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One Man’s Pets A.K.A. Girls I Have Loved–Jamie Rodriguez

Today it hit me like a shot to the duodenum: I turn 36 in a few months. 36’s almost 40. 40’s almost dead. 
I also realized I haven’t lived at the same address for consecutive birthdays since I was in my 20s. This will be my 7th straight birthday somewhere new from the year before. Accepting that one is aging and noting a propensity for upheaval in one’s domestic tempo are changes that speak to an evolving, maturing individual. On the other hand, as Gandhi famously said, “the internet is a bitch that must be bedded on a mattress of cute pics of doggies and kitties.” So instead of evolving, I’m gonna share my history with pets, and hope that it inspires you to share your own…petstories? Continue reading

Question for Bloggers (especially if you’ve been Freshly Pressed):

When you include photos/videos/gifs in your blog, do you cite where you found them or who created them? I always provide links or attribute credit for articles that aren’t mine, but I haven’t done so with images because…well, because I don’t have a Youtube channel, and I don’t even have a camera, and I don’t know how to create a gif. But I read that WordPress has a list of “don’ts” when they’re screening blogs to be Freshly Pressed, and one of these don’ts is not citing “copyrighted images.” I figured anyone clicking on a photo/gif/video would be led back to the original site. Maybe I’m wrong?

Do you cite every image you use that isn’t yours, originally?

The one (big one) that got away

I was a kid who was really nerdily excited by atlases and maps and geography and numerical limits. That’s partly why space was such a turn-on: I loved learning how hot the temperature on Venus got, and imagining what that felt like; was fascinated by concepts like “absolute zero” and Malthusian growth to the nth power, etc.

One of the super-neat features of WordPress blogs is when you check your stats there’s a map of the world, and whenever you have a reader in a new country, it colors that country in on the map. You know how sometimes you have a text message on your phone, and you’re compelled to read it, not because you really care what it says, but just to get rid of the annoying icon that sits there until you’ve read it? I definitely have some kind of obsessive-compulsive need to erase and fill things in so they’re complete. When I was in junior high and got off the bus at the end of the day, I would make sure the number of sidewalk cracks I crossed with my left foot matched the number I crossed with my right. In college, if someone tapped me on my right shoulder, I needed them to tap me on the left, with the exact same force that they’d tapped the right with. If they touched the left and it wasn’t with the precise same amount of force, I needed them to touch the left a second time, then touch the right a second time–again, with equal intensity. It took a while for me to get over this. This scene from Scrubs, where they torture the guy at the end by never singing the punchline? I understand that man’s pain.

So, what is all this leading to?

On my WordPress map, I have all of North America colored in, almost all of South America (damn you, Paraguay!), almost all of Europe, all of Oceania, and most of Asia. I only have about 10 countries in Africa, but they’re spread out on the four corners of the continent, which leaves the bulk of the middle un-colored and therefore uniform, therefore OK. It’s when something stands out that I get the heebee-jeebies.

It took a while to get Greenland–not a heavily populated place, but when you’re rooting for map colorization, Greenland’s a literal big deal. Russia and Canada fell a long time ago. There’s only one large nation I haven’t been able to breach.


And wouldn’t you know it–this week I created a 2nd blog for my sports pieces, page2sports.wordpress.com. And a mere 24 hours into its existence, what country do you think is the first one (after the U.S.) to get a reader and get colored on that blog’s world map?