4 Days = 4 Chapters (Reading)

Word Cloud for Multimodal texts: Multimodal, learn, student, texts, create, words, knowledge, language, ideas, develop
Image Source: http://scalar.usc.edu/works/digital-writing-portfolio1/concept-2

So, I don’t have lot of time today, so this post will be on the shorter side. I didn’t get a chance to blog yesterday because I don’t have internet at my apartment anymore and since it rained and downpoured most of yesterday, I decided not to get out in the mucky weather since I didn’t have to do so.

Multimodal Composition: A Sourcebook by Claire Lutkewitte

I’m reading/rereading a book that I was given to help me with my Prelim exam–more on that at another date. The book in question is Claire Lutkewitte’s Multimodal Composition. Some of you with eagle eyes or elephant’s memories may notice that this book has been in my “currently reading” section down on the side of the blog for a long while now. I haven’t forgotten about that “widget,” but since I rarely log in to Goodreads nowadays (I just don’t have the time), I don’t really get a chance to update it like I should. Well, I told myself that once summer started, I would read a chapter a day from the books on the reading lists in order to be ready for the next preliminary exam and dissertation and so far, I’ve stuck to that plan. I’ve read 4 chapters from the book and will start on Chapter 5 on Monday. As there are 29 chapters total, I will be reading this book through the most of May.

Reading and Writing: Summer Edition

There are, of course a number of things that I want to read/write over the summer. I won’t take the time to enumerate them here, but as I start on them (and most importantly, finish them), I will most definitely list them here and do a small blog post about them. There are a ton of things that I hope to accomplish over the summer, but I know that if I start talking about them, so how they won’t get done, so it will probably be better for me to wait and talk about them once I’m deep into them, like I am with Claire Lutkewitte’s book. I need to remember what works for me, which is starting small and then working my way up to bigger and more extensive projects. Finishing a book may seem hard, but at a chapter a day, well, that’s not quite as hard and who knows, if I have extra time on the weekend, I may be able to squeeze out an extra chapter or two, meaning that I can finish sooner, and if not, then I’m still on schedule to finish by the end of the month. So my goal for this summer = break down as many projects as I can into smaller chunks and get as much down as possible (while still enjoying the summer sun)!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Sidney

Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • Current Work-in-Progress–February 2019: Project Dog  (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 1st Draft — Character Draft “Finished”)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32)

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One Shoulder or Two?

Man carrying ac backpack on one shoulder walking next to some rails in a city on a cloudy day.
Image Source: https://www.filmsupply.com/clips/man-carrying-a-backpack-on-one-shoulder-walking-next-to-some-rails-in-a-city-on-a-cloudy-day/99647

Question . . . do you wear your backpack (if you actually wear a backpack) on one shoulder or two? This is something that I’ve noticed over my years at school. If you wear your backpack over one shoulder then you are (probably) of an older generation (Gen X or early Millennials), but if you wear it over two shoulders then you are (probably) are of a younger generation (late Millennials or Gen Z). Now, obviously this is a gross over-generalization, and not at all scientific but this is just something that I’ve picked up on lately.

One Shoulder

When I was in college, starting in 1991 (& early when I visited college campuses in the late 1980s), the standard placement of backpacks was slung over one shoulder. It really didn’t matter whether it was over the left shoulder or right (probably corresponding to the handedness of the person wearing it), but I found that this was pretty much the standard. I think, at the beginning, I experimented with wearing the backpack with both straps, but it felt so unnatural to me, at the time, that I pretty much slung it over my right shoulder and that was that. As long as I didn’t overload the pack with too many books for class, it wasn’t really an issue. This pretty much was standard all the way up through 2008 when I started my 2nd Masters Degree in Education at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga (UTC). However, I think that began noticing that some students (maybe 40% or so), now wore their backpacks over both shoulders.

Two Shoulders

Fast forward to 2016 and then I came here to MTSU to study for a PhD in English. Now, pretty much EVERYONE wears their backpacks on both shoulders. The style of wearing the backpack on one shoulder is pretty much non-existent. I do see one or two people, every now and again, who wear their backpacks as I do–on one shoulder–but I would say this percentage is very, very small (sub 5% and probably closer to 1%), and (generally) consists of “older” students (students not in the 18-22 age range). Again, none of this is scientific, but as someone who remembers what a lock the style of “one shoulder” had on college campuses (the ones that I visited at least), I can say that the turn around is quite surprising and just shows that generational differences can be real.

What does it Matter?

In the great scheme of things, not much. However, it does have implications as it means that the style (norms) have changed and that differences that ascribed to different generations may have validity–that these differences are not necessarily made up. While actual research would have to be done on the attitudes and norms that people have in various states of their lives (and as they age), one can’t simply assume that one generation will think the same (act the same, do the same things) as another generation. Knowing what values, norms, and attitudes informs one generation could be helpful in ascertaining and predicting the ways in which another generation might act. For instance, I’ve tried the “two shoulders” regime when I first noticed this in 2016/2017, but it doesn’t work for me. Even though the weight is evenly distributed with two straps, because I didn’t get use to walking with this distributed weight, the bouncing of the book-bag actually throws off my stride and makes it uncomfortable to walk. Although all the weight is on one side with the “one shoulder” approach, I’ve learned how to walk so that it doesn’t affect my gait. As such, no matter how “uncool” it might look in today’s society, I will never move to the “two shoulder” approach. Such a difference marks me as “out of step” with my younger contemporaries, but so be it–I’ll put comfort over style any day.

This, I’m sure, isn’t an earth-shattering revelation, but it is interesting to note that generational differences are out there and may actually affect the way people of one generation may act in regards to other generations. Just something to be mindful of as we all try to coexist through this thing we call “life.”

Sidney

Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • Current Work-in-Progress–February 2019: Project Dog  (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 1st Draft — Character Draft “Finished”)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32)

Weekend Round Up #15

Image Source: https://www.rocketcitymom.com/weekend-roundup-november-8-11/

This blog entry is me formalizing a format that I started earlier in the year of just giving a quick rundown of some of the highlights of my weekend. As I tend to do most of my writing, gaming, and media consumption on the weekends, it makes sense to give a brief summary/overview of some of the more important aspects of my weekend life, considering they all have relevance to my life in general, and the blog, in particular.

Gaming

Nothing major to note. I got closer to finishing the driving game Gravel. Actually, I’ve already finished it (seen the credits roll after completing the main campaign, but I’m hopeful that I can earn the ultimate reward for my dedication, a Platinum Trophy, in which I complete all the required conditions. I’m currently sitting at 97% complete on the game–needing only 2 online trophies to finish the game. However, that might be a hard task based on the fact that no one is really playing the game online anymore that I can see (on the PS4 anyway). We’ll continue to see, however.

Writing

Managed to send off a story (reprint–Faerie Knight) to a YA podcast looking for Halloween, Christmas, and Dinosaur stories (Faerie Knight falls firmly in the Halloween category). I’ve had very little luck (none at all, if I’m honest) in the reprint category–none of my stories have ever been reprinted in a different magazine from their original publication, but since FA was a Halloween story (it takes place on Halloween night), I thought I’d give it a try. In other news, I started planning a short-story “duology” over the weekend. I’ve actually already written the first story (I, Magi) and I now have a “sequel” for it in mind. I will be working with it over the week to get a “rough draft” down on paper and then put it on hold until I finish Project Dog, Project Skye, and Project Independent. I feel as if I have too many outstanding projects and I really need to finish some of them off before moving on to others.

Media

Not much to see here this week. Not into Game of Thrones. I hate the whole “Bad things happen to Good people” sub-genre, no matter the genre (fantasy, sci-fi, etc.), so I refuse to be a part of the cultural conversation here. I did start the Amazon Prime show Hanna, but didn’t actually finish the first episode–although I will. I don’t think it would be right for me to give my impressions until I do, however.

School

So, this is where the bulk of my writing time went this weekend. I had a school assignment due at 11:00 pm Sunday night for my Victorian Literature class (on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol). I finished it right around that time (after working on it since approx. 7pm). I really feel the Sunday night time-frame is a good writing time (when I’m not writing until 11:00pm or 12:00am), so as soon as school’s out (i.e., I’m finished with my classes, I would like to use this time-frame to actually work on some of my (many) “Projects.”

Well, that’s my weekend for this week–hope this week is a good one for both you and me!

Sidney

Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • Current Work-in-Progress–February 2019: Project Dog  (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 1st Draft — Character Draft “Finished”)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32)

The Big Squeeze

Bearded man with a Foot on his Face
Image Source: https://www.nojitter.com/big-squeeze

One of the most frustrating things about graduate school (well, there are many which I’ll probably do individual posts about for the next month or so) is the fact that it is my writing time that gets squeezed in the process of “becoming more educated.” I’m not very appreciative of the fact that, as writer, my time for writing every week gets slowly wittled away as I have to complete more and more assignments which touch on, ironically, writing and the theories and applications of the writing process. My Master’s Degree is in both Rhetoric and Writing and my Bachelor’s Degree was in English: American Language and Literature (with a Concentration in Writing), which just means that I took extra Writing courses on top of the required literature courses. Writing is instrumental to pretty much everything that I am and/or do as an individual and citizen.

We Want You To Write–Just Not What You Want To Write

One of my greatest sources of frustration with the educational process in general, and the way Rhetoric and Writing is treated in particular, is the fact that we privilege the teaching of writing as something that is both special and magical in terms of allowing students to find their own voices/means of expression, but also a craft and requires work through revisions, and yet, the program I’m in does not actively privilege my creative writing endeavors. Only a handful of people in my “community” know that I “Dragonhawk” was accepted for publication and not a ONE of them is a professor. Not to appear boastful or braggadocios, but this is a success that pretty much all my professors of writing should be happy about. I’m able, at a high level, to use the techniques that we teach our students (inspiration, brainstorming, drafting, revision, consideration of audience, and perseverance to see it through to publication) to create and shepherd a work to fruition.

No Conferences = No Credentials

No, I’m not talking about the conferences professors hold with their students. I’m talking about conferences that academics attend to present papers and the like. That’s really the only true measure of graduate student’s success. How many conferences did you attend? How many papers have you presented at a conferences. I both understand and am appalled at the process at the same time. Conferences, let’s be honest, are built for the extroverts who love being with other people. Sure, if you’re an introvert, you can (sorta’) get by just attending panels for the ideas and information. But, to use an old analogy–there’s as much noise (socializing) that occurs at a conference as there is signal (information/ideas). Conferences, while stimulating and fun, are not the end all and be all of an academic’s existence–which is what they are at the moment that I write this.

Value ALL Academic Expression

The main reason why this blog has been spotty this semester and that I’ve had very little time to concentrate on anything writing related, is because I’ve been fully committed to writing, reading, and working for class and for both of my jobs. I’m not really happy as the results for all my hard-work have not materialized the manner that I would have expected after giving so much of myself–and foregoing so much of my creative output in order to do all of this work. I think that if I felt that I could talk to (and get praise from) my professors for the creative work that I have done (and am doing), this would go a LONG way to assuaging the dissatisfaction I feel in that others are being treated better because they are playing the “academic” game, whereas others, who are not, seemed to be “looked down on” (and I’m not okay with this. I’m using the exact same techniques in my own writing life that are good practices (using brainstorming methods to come up with ideas, engaging with the material, drafting–including multiple drafts, getting feedback on my writing, incorporating feedback through revisions, and persevering through multiple rejections until I find a market who is willing to accept the story). The fact that I’m made to feel that my writing endeavors are not worthy in lieu of someone else who simply attends a conference is very distressing to me as a writer.

Hopefully, after this (very) disspiriting semester is over, I can get back to writing (and enjoying the things that I write) more frequently. Right now, I can say that irregularity of the blog is simply a symptom of a larger set of issues and hopefully, regularity will return when I can address the larger problem of being made to feel that my worth as a creative writer is less than someone who just enjoys playing the “academic game.”

Sidney

Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • Current Work-in-Progress–February 2019: Project Dog  (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 1st Draft — Character Draft “Finished”)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32)

Preliminary Exams

Image Source: https://grad.ucdavis.edu/resources/graduate-student-resources/academic-information-and-services/degree-requirements/doctoral
(While this is from the UC Davis Grad School website, it is the closest thing that I could find that simply and accurately explains the process — just change Qualifying Exam to Preliminary Exam and you’ll have a pretty good idea of both where I am in the program and what is still left to be done.)

It seems as if I’m always apologizing for stepping away from the blog for various reasons (illness and the like). For the past two weeks, I’ve been in “crunch” mode for reading trying to prepare for my Preliminary Exams. So, what are preliminary exams? Well, they work differently at different schools, but essentially they are the “final exams” that one takes before moving on to the dissertation phase of graduate work.

PhD Student

So a PhD student is much the same as any other Master’s level student as we attend the same classes. The primary difference is the amount of work we have to produce for those classes. Generally speaking (with some few exceptions), PhD students are required to produce longer works and provide more in-depth analysis for scholarly materials. There are other things that we are supposed to do that is more than a Master’s student might have to be responsible for, but in general, we simply produce more volume and are required to use more sources and go into a topic in far greater depth. At the end (or close to the end) of one’s classes, there is some sort of “gateway” (usually in the form of some sort of test) that one has to pass. For me, this is the Preliminary Exam.

PhD Candidate

Once one passes the Preliminary Exam (again, this specific to my program, although it can be somewhat generalized to other programs), one moves from being a “student” to a “candidate.” This means that one either has passed all of the preliminary stages (or in my case, will soon pass) all remaining requirements. For me, I have a couple of more electives that I need to take as I am finishing the last of my “required” courses this semester. My next major responsibilities will be coming up with a Research Proposal/Prospectus for what I want to do my dissertation on and putting together a committee to direct my dissertation. I’m planning on locking this down over the summer.

ABD

ABD = All But Dissertation. Unlike the previous two headings which are official, there’s a third, unofficial heading. When one has completed everything (classes, submitting dissertation proposal, putting together committee, etc.) and all one has left is the actual writing of the dissertation, we informally call that person ABD (All But Dissertation). While technically still a PhD Candidate, ABD just communicates the fact that the dissertation is the last remaining hurdle to complete before that person can graduate.

Right now, I am still waiting to hear back my results from my two Preliminary Exams. I’m hoping to move from the first stage (PhD student) to the second stage (PhD Candidate). If successful, I will use the summer to put together a strong research proposal/prospectus and will try to have a committee in place before the middle of the Fall semester (Sept./Oct. 2019), so that I can spend the rest of the year and the first part of 2020 writing the dissertation.

I know that’s probably WAY more than you wanted to know about my school life, but I hope that it, in some small way, explains why the blog has had to take a backseat for the past two/three weeks due to these Preliminary exams and illness. Well, that’s all I have for right now. Have a good day!

Sidney

Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • Current Work-in-Progress–February 2019: Project Dog  (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 1st Draft — Character Draft “Finished”)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32)

Walmart’s Running a Surprisingly Rhetorically Aware Ad (via Scam Awareness)

Video Source: Scam Awareness — https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDfPhRbYYHKUbVgbaRfAUgQ?feature=embeds_subscribe_title

So, I was standing in line today at Walmart (I went to price TV stands for my apartment at school) and they had this ad running on their TVs over their Money section. I wasn’t really paying attention to it, but I happened to see the captions playing underneath the action and I happened to read it and found it to be very rhetorically savvy, especially for a store like Walmart (no, offense to Walmart or their customers is intended, rather Walmart isn’t, by its own admission and pricing structure, a Macy’s or Nordstroms, or other upscale retailers.

The Best at What It Does

This is an (older) tagline for Wolverine, the marvel anti-hero who is now an icon in popular culture. As a pure brawler/warrior, Wolverine styled himself as the “best at what he does.” The same could be said for this advertisement/PSA as it truly does what I have tried to do in this past semester. I won’t bore you with a scene-by-scene breakdown, but it challenges the viewers perceptions in terms of ethos (credibility of the speaker), pathos (appealing to the viewer’s emotions), and logos (a logical, fact-based argument). I actually want to start with the last one as it pulls a “fast one” by giving a statistic, but then not giving any source for that statistic, but trusting in the viewers’ ability to be swayed by simply throwing numbers/statistics around. The ad acknowledges what it did in a very clever way: it straight tells you what it did and then leaves you, the viewer, to draw your own conclusions from that knowledge. It then makes you question your assumptions. Similarly, with ethos and pathos, the ad makes you question the speaker–is this a “good” guy, does he have my interest at heart or his own, is he trying to scam me or is he just informing about scammers, etc. The authors of this video play with ambiguous lighting, a morally “gray” character, and verbal trickery, to try to mimic the ambiguous nature of scammers and their scams and the inclusion of bits of truth mixed with lies in order to throw you, the mark, off target.

Too Guillible

Right now, many of our youth–I’m speaking generally here as there are, as always, exceptions to this rule, are simply too gullible when it comes to matters of credibility. They confuse entertainers and having a good time with being a credible source. Just because someone is famous, doesn’t make them credible, and yet, I see it all the time in class. So many students defend stars or people whose methods don’t yield results, simply because they “know” of them, or because they “enjoy” them, but denigrate those who do get results because they are unknowns or because their styles are not a flashy or flamboyant as the “stars.” While I intend to use this commercial/PSA in future classes, I don’t think that it will do much good until we can get students to understand the fact that just because you like what they have to say, doesn’t necessarily make them “credible”–not until you do some digging around on your own to see if they are really as credible as they want to appear to be to you, the viewer.

Sidney




  • Current Work-in-Progress: The Independent (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 2nd Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Project Star (Sci-Fi Short-Story -1st Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32)

Still Life with Stop Signs

speedbumps

On the Road Again

So August 2018 has been a complete wash for me in terms of pretty much everything that I do: writing the blog, writing creatively, reading, video games, etc.  The Work-Life Balance needle swung waaaaaaayyyyyyy to the work side of the meter and I pretty much got nothing done in terms of my own personal projects.  Sometimes its just like that–there’s just nothing that I can do about that except work, work, work.

However (partly due to the holiday and partly due the fact that I bought a Chromebook and I’m now “untethered” from my Ethernet cable of my aging Macbook Pro), I should be back on track for my more creative endeavors–as evidenced by this blog post.  At some point, I’d like to get one of the new Macbook Pros, but right now, the outlay of money for the technology just isn’t worth it.  When I start selling stories, graphic novels, novels, and scripts to make the investment worthwhile, I will, but right now, all I really need is 1) a basic laptop with wifi access, 2) basic word processing, and 3) basic internet surfing.  For this reason, this Chromebook should give me what I need for just the basics and then I can use the Macbook Pro to fill out the more important computing functions that I have.

OtherWorlds

So, during this time, like a lot of YouTubers that I watch, I found myself wondering if what I am/was doing had any merit.  You see, earlier this summer, YouTube changed the payment “scale” for content creators so that basically on those with mega-channels or those with a LOT of followers (millions) were seeing real revenue.  There are YouTubers who used to be able to it as a day job or a hobby job and see real results for their efforts–not anymore, however.  More and more channels are disappearing or changing format and I, like them, wondered if I should change as well.  The answer is, no, Sci-Fi and Fantasy are the genres that I love.  Writing is something that I want to do and documenting my highs and lows (mostly in the writing arena), but also in life in general, and Science Fiction & Fantasy in particular is something that I really need and want to do.  So, I’m keeping OtherWorlds mostly the same.  There will be some slightly changes, but nothing major.  I’ll probably focus on Popular Culture and little more than I have been and I (may) do something with the scholarly blogs that I’ve set up for class (which means that I may try to keep up this as a general genre blog and set-up a more “professional” site and not mix the two as I sometimes do, but I’m still formulating this idea.

Avengers: Infinity War (Part I)

Over the holiday weekend, I got a chance to watch several sci-fi movies.  Some (most), I’ve seen before, but one in particular that I got to see was the latest Avengers movie, Avengers Infinity War.  I will write a review and put it on the list of Marvel movies (the ranking list) later, but I just wanted to let you all know that it was coming.  I still have to process this movie as it does not follow the traditional Marvel movie “form.”  More on this one in the upcoming week.

Hopefully, I’m back to a more regular schedule.  I’m going to cut it short now so that I can save some time for “writing.”  See you on tomorrow’s post (hopefully)

Sidney