Keeping in Touch

I didn’t realize how much of our lives is “instant” until today, when I hadn’t checked my email in two days.

A friend died.

Another friend’s dad had a stroke.

And my SAT Blogger Challenge scores hadn’t gotten in and I didn’t know it.

I feel like I should check my mail every hour and never check my mail again. I wouldn’t have checked it when I did, except the friend with the dad called and asked if I’d gotten the email. She talked for two minutes, while her husband was in the bathroom. He didn’t want her on the phone. (Ouch.)

Reading Mysteries

I began reading Susan Wittig Albert’s China Bayles series yesterday after giving up on the hope of finding all of them at a bookstore. I read two of them yesterday. And the background information on two people changes significantly between the two books.

In the earlier book Blackie is a father and has a son.

In the later book Blackie is a widower without children, but with three nephews.

In the earlier book Sally and Mike share custody of their son.

In the later book Mike has sole custody and Sally doesn’t even see Brian.

I am enjoying the books. But I hate inconsistency.

Today I read a third, Lavender Lies. It’s an interesting book. There aren’t any of the inconsistencies–at least none that I noticed. It’s only my third book, so I might have missed other information.

But the very last paragraph in the book has a mistake. Josephine is the name of the hurricane that threatens to disrupt the wedding. Hernando is the name of the hurricane that threatens to disrupt the honeymoon. But hurricanes are named in alphabetical order so Hernando should be Kasey or some such name.

It was still a good book. And I’m learning lots about flowers and herbs.

Added later: In one of the books I read today (1 of 4), Blackie is a “bachelor” with no apparent history.

And Ruby gets taller and shorter throughout the books. In book 1 she’s six feet tall. In one of the books I read earlier this week she’s six feet tall in her heels. In another book from today she’s “six feet or more depending on her shoes.”

I still like the books. They’re interesting. Don’t know if I’ll ever re-read them, but…

Books I’ve Read

I may have exaggerated a mite. But I didn’t do it on purpose.

I told one class that I read about 1300 books a year. I read 3 yesterday, but only 1 today. Some weekend days I read 20 in a day. It seems like that ought to come out to about 4 a day. But maybe it doesn’t. I should have been much more conservative. I should have said 700. I know I read that many a year for sure.

Thank a Brit, Too

If you’ve been writing cards and sending packages to thank our military, you might also want to send a thank you note to the Brits, whose media isn’t being any more supportive than ours.

I’ll make it easier for you to cut and paste a label for a Brit in Iraq:

British Soldier
c/o G1 Branch
HQ MultiNational Div (SE)
Basra, BFPO 641

And for a British soldier in Afghanistan:

British Soldier
c/o G1 Branch
HQ Helmand Province Task Force
Camp Bastion, BFPO 792.t

Brought to you via Blackfive.

SAT Blogger Challenge: Thoughts on Grading

I graded 35 or so essays yesterday and today for the Blogger Challenge. Some of them were good. I probably would have given a third of them good grades. One would have made in the high 90s if I were grading for my class.

1- Does that mean my grading has gotten too easy? I doubt it. I’ve had at least 15 students of the 70 drop out or just quit coming. Of course, maybe those are the ones who wouldn’t be making it anyway.

2- Do folks not know that an essay means more than a single paragraph? I had multiple single paragraph “essays.” That’s not an essay. I looked carefully and none of them appeared to be an artifact of having written in Word or somesuch and copying over.

3- Why did some of those people do this? They put in one sentence, sometimes not even clearly on the topic. They had twenty minutes to write it. Was that really the best they could do? (There was one person who was clearly trying but does not have mastery of the English language.)

4- Why did the SAT give their sample essay a 6? Was it because the person used examples from psychology? I almost think it has to be that. It certainly had some grammatical errors, but the scoring only requires “free of most errors.” For an essay to get a 6, it has to be insightful. As far as I can tell that means the author has to have an approach to the topic that isn’t common or usual. And that is what makes a 6 as opposed to a 5. I disagree with that, but my opinion wasn’t solicited- only my grading as per the SAT.

SAT Grading: A Problem

I’m grading essays for the Blogger SAT challenge. After grading five, with high scores! (Would my students be surprised to find that I graded higher than anyone else?), we were sent more SAT examples, along with reasons why the essays were given their numeric reward.

One of the things that bothered me about their essay which received a 6 is one of the reasons they gave for it being given a 6. Here is the sentence.

After years of introspection, of reading Shakespeare, The Bible, and textbooks, the man actually comes to despise the money he once sought; the money he signed away fifteen years of his life for.

They give this sentence as an example of skillful use of languge and variety in sentence structure. What’s the problem with this sentence?

First of all, the sentence ends in a preposition. That has been considered poor, if not incorrect, grammar for the entirety of the 20th century and, I would suppose, the first six of the 21st as well. It is easily fixed; “the money for which he signed away fifteen years of his life” isn’t unwieldy and makes it work.

Second, a semicolon (;) is basically used to separate either two complete sentences or a list with commas used within the items. In no grammar rule is it used to separate a complete sentence from a single explication of that sentence. I think that gramatically it is wrong. (Rules of semicolon usage can be found here.)

But this is one of their examples of the rich variety of language.

What does that say about their grading? It implies both an incomplete understanding of grammar and that similar errors are ignored.

I think the essay they gave a six had three excellent extended examples. It clearly addressed the question. But, at the least, it had non-standard grammar at least twice. What’s up with that?

Hot Sex

ArmyWifeToddlerMom mentions this MSNBC article on sex. Well, okay, it’s really about one speaker’s view of sex. He’s a Christian. He’s been to my church and spoken.

The article says, “You could be forgiven for thinking “conservative Christian” and “hot sex” are oxymoronic.”

The speaker says, “sex is the most wonderful gift God ever gave Christians.”

Amen. Preach it, brother!

It’s true. God made sex. Sex is good. Sex is great. When you have sex in a marriage, it can be a marvelous gift, fun, exciting.

I am certainly glad for it.

The only part I have a problem with isn’t Joe Beam’s presentation; it’s a comment the news interjects.

Try any position in the Kama Sutra (but refer to drawings, please, not pictures of real people). Wife away on business? Have phone sex. Birth control is good. Even anal sex is OK if (and Beam believes this is a big if) it does no harm to the body.

If you are a married Christian, not only can you do all this, but you should be doing it.

You should be doing this puts it as a requirement. We don’t want to go there.

You should read

Thoughts from a Marine Intel Officer. It’s short, pithy, well-written.

Bravest Guy in al-Anbar Province – Any Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician (EOD Tech). How’d you like a job that required you to defuse bombs in a hole in the middle of the road that very likely are booby-trapped or connected by wire to a bad guy who’s just waiting for you to get close to the bomb before he clicks the detonator? Every day. Sanitation workers in New York City get paid more than these guys. Talk about courage and commitment.

Thank you to the EOD techs who are doing this job. You are in my prayers. And if I get any say in it, your salaries are going up, too.

(Did you read the Army says it’s going to cut family services? We’re at war, folks. Their budget needs to get bigger, not smaller.)

Most Profound Man in Iraq – an unidentified farmer in a fairly remote area who, after being asked by Reconnaissance Marines (searching for Syrians) if he had seen any foreign fighters in the area replied “Yes, you.”

I always think that when I read about foreign fighters. It’s not like Syrians are that visually different from Iraqis. We’re the ones who look odd.

Biggest Surprise – Iraqi Police. All local guys. I never figured that we’d get a police force established in the cities in al-Anbar. I estimated that insurgents would kill the first few, scaring off the rest. Well, insurgents did kill the first few, but the cops kept on coming. The insurgents continue to target the police, killing them in their homes and on the streets, but the cops won’t give up. Absolutely incredible tenacity. The insurgents know that the police are far better at finding them than we are – and they are finding them. Now, if we could just get them out of the habit of beating prisoners to a pulp . . .

Did you read that now that the Iraqis are in charge of Abu Ghraib the prisoners are begging for us to come back? It’s true.

Highest Unit Re-enlistment Rate – Any outfit that has been in Iraq recently. All the danger, all the hardship, all the time away from home, all the horror, all the frustrations with the fight here – all are outweighed by the desire for young men to be part of a ‘Band of Brothers’ who will die for one another. They found what they were looking for when they enlisted out of high school. Man for man, they now have more combat experience than any Marines in the history of our Corps.

It’s amazing. And I thank God for them. And pray for their safety.

Go read Thoughts from a Marine Intel Officer. It’s amazing.

Speech! Speech!

I went to a friend’s graduation today. I might not have made the push to go but she was giving the closing speech. And she did an EXCELLENT job. She was poised, articulate, clear, funny, serious, thoughtful, thought provoking…

She has a gift for speechifying.

I was very pleased to be there and hear her. Many others were also pleased. Her dad was getting her picture and about ten people came up, wanting to speak to her because of her speech. Good stuff.

The sad thing is that the keynote speaker had too many points, was boring, and had an accent that people were having trouble understanding. He’s from Chicago and Detroit and he got some laughs because when he said the students didn’t want to pay student loans the folks listening thought he said stupid loans.

I think I may have attended the graduation of one of my students’ wives. There was a pregnant lady there walking across the stage with the last name of a student whose wife is pregnant. And the cheering was loud and raucous, just as it would be if the student were there. So on Tuesday I intend to ask if I attended his wife’s graduation. (I hope it was her. I think it would be pretty funny.)

It’s Worth What You Pay For It

Friday I was sitting at the college listening to an ex-student and another student talk. One of them said that other student is doing okay because “yeah, flunking, but it’s all scholarship, so it’s not like it’s real money.”

I bit my tongue so that I would not tell them that they were spending MY money while flunking.

Sex in 2006

My son thinks that all teenagers have sex. I have explained to him that this is not true. But he thinks it is. Why? As far as I know he doesn’t know any teenagers well enough to know if they’re having sex.

I think it is because we talk about sex all the time and sex education is offered in schools and people think testing for a sexually transmitted disease should be a requirement.

Not all teenagers have sex. I didn’t. My mother did, but she was married first. My husband didn’t. His mother did, but she was married first. My hubby’s best friend and his wife didn’t. I know lots of adults who didn’t have sex as teens.

I am sure my son thinks this is because I am part of the old fashioned generation. But I was little during the roaring 60s. By the time I hit the teens, the age of promiscuity had blossomed. I still know plenty of people who didn’t have sex as teenagers. I even know some who are teens now and have not had sex.

Want more government?

The CDC is recommending HIV tests for everyone between the ages of 13 and 64. (Apparently sex stops after 64. Or they only have sex with people who are going to die soon anyway. Or if they do, well, we’ll find out they had HIV when we test their younger partners.)

SAT Challenge: Grading Rules

Anyone who argues for more than one side of an issue automatically can’t get higher than a 3.

I wonder if my paper “argues for more than one side” of a position. I looked at places in which success is determined and how. Both on length to goal and on end point. And then I said I thought that end point was the most common and useful definition of success. Only the person, and their close friends and family, would even be interested in the length to goal aspects.

But my first thought on reading the above quote was, “Well, I won’t get higher than a 3.”

SAT Challenge

The idea of the SAT challenge came from this NYTimes article on SAT essays.

You know, they’re not horrible. But they’re not that great either. Essay #2 is weird in discussing what happens in The Great Gatsby. Essay #3 has spelling errors.

I’ve been grading essays for college freshmen the last three weeks. I’ve graded 210 essays. I would say that at least ten percent of them were better than these. Of course, the essays I was grading were written at home and could be revised. (That’s such a common thing among college freshmen, you know? They love to revise.)

Thank a Fire Fighter

Happy Catholic got tapped with a meme for honoring a living hero, which she had to undo, but I like the idea.

Let me introduce you to a firefighter I met on 9/10/06. He’s a big guy, tall, strong. He’s called “Big Tom” but his name is Louis Thompson. He’s been a firefighter for 38 years and will retire fourteen working days from 9/10.

He has one baby granddaughter who likes to chew on her hand. And a daughter and son-in-law who came to church to see him honored as a firefighter.

He’s been working as a firefighter for 38 years. He went to work back in 1968.

I was just a little girl when he went to work. And he’s been working hard all these years.

Thank you, Mr. Thompson.