Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Random blogservations

Every blogger ends up on the receiving end of some oddball searches from time to time. I haven't had too many of those. Simon Pretty still draws quite a bit of traffic over here. I hope he's found a donor by now; I haven't seen any updates on his situation. I also get a fair number of searches for various musical effluvia - people looking for chords to 70's pop hits and such. Over the weekend, though, I got one that's not going to be topped for awhile - "Man Gets Pole Shoved Up His Ass In Texas". Somehow, it doesn't surprise me that if such a thing were to occur, it would be done in Texas...


Even crazier than having a pole shoved up your ass: Newt Gingrich may run for President.


Coming home from work this morning, I heard "The Story In Your Eyes", an old Moody Blues classic that doesn't get played much on the radio anymore. As I was listening, it struck me how cheesy the production sounds on those old Moodies records today. For a while in the late 60's and early 70's, the Moody Blues were big business. They were probably the first rock band to record with a full orchestra. Everybody's stoner older brother had their albums. Rich Dalton, a popular St. Louis DJ for many years, made a big deal of his "Nightly Visit with the Moody Blues". They had all this hippie mystique, yet they made records that sound like they were recorded with two tin cans connected by a piece of string. By that time, the Beatles had shown everybody how to make records. Early Pink Floyd classics like Atom Heart Mother didn't sell nearly as well, but they achieved a much cleaner sound. There are some interesting things happening on Moody Blues records like to Our Children's Children's Children, but they're hard to pick up because of the cheap production.


Some great comments on the teaching history thread. I particularly agree that techniques aren't as important as the motivation of the teacher, and that teaching a child to enjoy reading is the key to getting them to enjoy learning. I was fortunate to always have adults around me who encouraged me to read. I wish I had some of that encouragement when it came to writing. I had a seventh-grade English teacher, Mr. Flach, who drilled us on punctuation and grammar like a Marine boot camp instructor. We diagrammed sentences for days and days on end. If you want to kill a kid's interest in writing, make them diagram sentences over and over till their hand falls off.

My high school composition teacher, Mr. Shea, was a stickler for developing precise arguments and rhetoric. Any opinions you put in an essay, you had better have been prepared to back them up - and in detail. Not only were you expected to thoroughly document your arguments, but you had to know and be able to refute all the counter-arguments as well. And your spelling and punctuation had to be perfect - just one spelling error or punctuation mistake, and your paper would automatically be downgraded one letter grade.

These men did make me a good technical writer - I never received a grade lower than B+ for any essay I wrote in college. But they made writing about as enjoyable for me as digging ditches. In college, I would agonize for hours over the use of a single word. I would put off papers until the last minute, and then drive myself almost to the point of breakdown to complete them. Now, at least two or three times a week, I say to myself, "Screw this blog - it just ain't worth worrying over what I write". My original plan was to write when inspiration struck, but to my surprise and delight, Pole Hill in recent weeks has begun to draw a decent amount of traffic. Now I find myself stressing over writing enough to keep the stat counter hopping. Don't get me wrong - I enjoy the attention this blog gets, and I can't ask for a better group of regular commenters - but blogging more often than not feels like hard work, and going out in the garden to pull weeds seems relaxing by comparison.