Monday, October 25, 2010

Teaching Poetry — Teaching College English

Teaching Poetry — Teaching College English: "Teaching Poetry

by Dr Davis on October 24, 2010

This is notes from The Chronicle’s forum on Teaching Poetry.

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Saturday, October 23, 2010

How to be an Old School Journalist [video] - Holy Kaw!

How to be an Old School Journalist [video] - Holy Kaw!: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

714 page views for this BLOG in September

The passive voice should be rewritten

“Passive voice” is a fancy term invented to make writers feel bad for not having a better technical knowledge of grammar. Don’t worry; it’s easy to spot.
If someone’s doing something, it’s active. If something was done by someone, it’s passive.
Passive sentences feel wordy, limp, and lifeless.
Active sentences feel tight, energetic, and immediate.
For example:
  • Passive: The magnificent copy was written by the copywriter.
  • Active: The copywriter wrote the magnificent copy.
Passive voice isn’t always a bad thing, and the Copyblogger police won’t show up at your site and write you a ticket for using it. Just keep it to a minimum.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Short Story Radio - Download free podcast episodes by Talking Bookshelf/Short Story Radio on iTunes.

Short Story Radio - Download free podcast episodes by Talking Bookshelf/Short Story Radio on iTunes.: "Short Story Radio
ByTalking Bookshelf/Short Story Radio

To listen to an audio podcast, mouse over the title and click Play. Open iTunes to download and subscribe to podcasts.

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Game Boyz; Short Story

They worked in the newest building on the base.  No windows  and a heavy, steel door. During the shift, five of them, all under forty, one as young as twenty,  flew drones to targets six thousand miles away, lined up the laser site, and released a fifty thousand dollar missile to take out a couple of guys on the roof top, or an enemy rocket launcher crew hurrying away from some horrible mischief in a beat-up Toyota on a dusty road in Southern Afghanistan. 

Target reported, target sighted, cross hairs on target, light it up with laser, get OK from the duty CO, release weapon.  Just like the kind of video games they had at home or the kind their kids played with.  Click. A few moves of the stick, another click, and the missile was on its way in daylight or the dead of night. Everything was in view, lit by the eerie, green light of the infrared camera.

They sat in comfortable chairs – almost a semi-recliner, in front of big, control consoles. They each had two monitors, lots of switches,  indicator lights, and a heavy black joystick with rubber hand grips used to fly the drone and release the missiles with a crooked index finger and the thumb safety on the stick.

All the men graduated from the Air Force Weapons School  in Nevada. George, Brad, Bud, Larry and Saul were the five men assigned to the duty on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  They worked ten hours each shift and were able to rest and relax on their days off.  All of them lived nearby in new housing developments.  All of them drove fast cars, except Brad – preferring his old Mazda pickup. 

Saul was the joker, and was close to being disciplined for his conduct, but he was never really caught at it, and his workmates kept quiet about his antics while on duty. One day last week he was being particularly silly and manic, and mimed some kid dancing at the local club.  He was sitting, but demonstrating how the kid was grinding his sexy partner.  He took his eyes off the monitor for a minute, and when he composed himself, he forget his last target clearance and went ahead, rushing,  and triggered the launch. He took out a couple of civilian families that had gathered for a wedding party.  Ooops. No one else saw it, as they were too busy with their launch codes and reconnaissance.  Saul kept quiet, knowing enough about his job that it would be hard to prove it was his missile that did the damage. Sometimes Saul would come in with a bad hangover and would report enemy movement where there wasn't any, or would do an extra low flyover for a second look.  He drew attention to his drone one day, and an enemy shot it down with a hand-held rocket.  A four and half million dollar drone blown up with a cheap rocket.  Good thing there was some poor communication from the radar aircraft in the area that afternoon.  Saul escaped another problem and any disciplinary action.

George was the quiet one.  He kept to himself.  At 26, he still lived at home with his mom.  When he left work, he stopped for drinks, and his hands shook until he got the first two or three drinks into him.  He had nightmares about his job.  He kept seeing faces that he had blown up, although it was impossible to see anyone's face with the optics in the drone.  You could see figures, but the resolution was not good enough to see faces – yet he did. He could see the faces of the people he blew up.  He could see the look in their eyes when they realized that a missile was coming right at them at over 900 miles an hour. He imagined that they could hear the sound a fraction of a second before it struck.  Just enough time to open their eyes wide and for their pupils to dilate.  Maybe a quick utterance or silent scream. When George got home, his dinner was ready for him.  He ate quietly, watched the news, and went to his room.  He read a lot of history and let his mind wander into places far away from what he was doing and what he wanted to forget.   He still had the dreams.

Bud would leave his shift without saying anything, jump in his 'Vette and drive home to his house and family.  His oldest boy, Jake, was playing with his game console in the living room. Bud thought, “What a pussy.”  He doesn't have any reflexes at all, and he misses about half of the most obvious targets. That kid is going to be a total looser. He'd never qualify for our school. Pussy!” Bud and Effie didn't have any kids of their own.  Jake and his sister were adopted. Bud could shoot at work, but shot blanks at home.  It had a big effect on his personality.

Brad left after everyone else.  He had a little extra work to do this evening.  He was the most responsible, but was also the most paranoid of the group.  He checked and double-checked the system shut down, logs and the security safe. He powered down the equipment, wiped off the consoles, and reviewed the days “kill” stats.  His numbers were always the highest. He had a few years of computer programming under his belt and had hopes for advancement in the next few months if things went well.  Brad even had dreams about flying a drone over his enemies houses and taking them out.  Of course he never uttered a word of this to anyone – especially the base shrink.  If he could take over one of the drones at the base for an hour, he would wipe out all the fools that made fun of him behind his back or that ever pissed him off in high school or college – including the Mayor, most of the City Council, and a half-dozen service people in town – especially the plumber that charged him two-hundred bucks to snake his drain last week. Oh, and the car dealer that charged him so much for undercoating.

Larry was the lifer.  He planned to make the Air Force his career. He was an only child, a confirmed bachelor, and a bit of a perve.  He would drive a  couple of hundred miles to the city on his weekend off, rent a motel room, and call an escort  service for his entertainment.  He liked to dress in woman's clothes, he liked to be humiliated, and he especially liked a black, spike heel shoved into his groin. The rest of the time, back at work, he was “normal”. He was polite, courteous, helpful, conscientious and a model airman.  He performed all his duties at 100%.  He just had a little secret.  No harm. He always made it a point to make church service in town on Sunday, before driving home.

Monday morning, 5AM, Saul was the first one in his chair. He was wearing sunglasses, and the start of a new mustache.  He really wanted to be a jet jockey, but a minor physical problem kept him out of the cockpit. He flipped on the UPS, a couple of power strips and his instruments and monitors buzzed to life.  The weekend crew had shut everything down to do some software upgrades and testing, so it took a few minutes for everything to initialize and come on line. His first assignment was a plane on the ground at the far end of the base.  He was to take it up and track some suspected enemy movements near the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.. In seconds, his drone was in the air on its way overseas, and he had a few seconds to grab a coffee and doughnut from the kitchen area. He put on his reading glasses, checked his log and any notes left for him, and put his eyes on the screens.  Something was wrong.  His joystick wasn't reacting normally.  He pushed the nose up a little and the drone stayed level. He pushed it down, and nothing happened. He was tracking the drone and it kept on a flight path back toward their base in Nevada.  He called Larry the Lifer over to his station and told him the problem.  Larry took the controls, but didn't have any luck adjusting the Drone's path.  He cut the throttles.  Nothing.  In fact, the drone picked up a few knots. He tried a couple of other things before he cut the power.  Nothing.  The drone carried the full complement of missiles and two, 900 kilogram bombs.  The Global Hawk, at fifteen tons, was one of the biggest drones in the bases' arsenal. Most of the crew gathered around Saul's console, except Brad, who was flying “an assignment”. They did some troubleshooting and tried some things, but they couldn't regain control.  Larry got on the radio and reported the problem to the tower, asking that they dispatch a couple of fighter planes to shoot down the Hawk.  The nearest planes available were on an exercise over the California coast, and couldn't get to the drone fast enough. The drone was a few miles out and at ten-thousand feet – making a beeline towards the base at five hundred miles an hour, loaded with bombs.

Brad was in the corner, busy at his console, trimming the flaps and adjusting the flight path on the big Hawk that he now controlled.  The software patches he made on top of the ones made over the weekend let him take control of Saul's drone.  Brad was going to put the drone into a power dive, unleash the bombs, and put the plane right smack into the top of the building they were sitting in.  He'd show 'em. They weren't going to talk about him behind his back any more. He'd show 'em.


Being sad makes you more creative - Holy Kaw!

Being sad makes you more creative - Holy Kaw!: "Holy Kaw! All the topics that interest us

Being sad makes you more creative
Posted Oct 20th, 2010 at 6:09 PM and seen 5326 times

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Watch these 3 annoying online punctuation lapses -

Watch these 3 annoying online punctuation lapses - "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Poem Accepted by NCTE

My poem, "Certain Poems Need to Be Released from Their Cages", accepted by National Gallery of Writing Contribution, Oct., 2010  See:

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Find blogs :: BlogSynergy :: Guest blogging made easy!

Find blogs :: BlogSynergy :: Guest blogging made easy!: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Find Blogs by Category

Find blogs to write for by looking in categories related to your blog.

Google Can Translate Poetry

Google Can Translate Poetry: "Google Can Translate Poetry
Written by: Peter Jalbert on Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Snakes of Summer

All summer I saw them
as they scurried in front
of my whirling mower blades.

Some of them evaded the
metal blades.
The slower ones were halved
and quartered.
The first time this happened,
I was shocked and saddened.
The second time
angry at myself
for mowing the fields
I called home
and thought of 

as my private park.

I made adjustments.
I walked the field with my dog
before I mowed, chasing the
gopher snakes ahead of me to their dens.

These slow moving, diurnal creatures
usually sunned themselves in my field,
readying themselves for active nights
hunting lizards and rodents.

Their prey is suffocated by the
constriction of loops of their
chocolate spotted body, and
then they dine, shyly,
maybe a little remorseful
about what they’ve done.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Gallery of Writing

Gallery of Writing: "- Sent using Google Toolbar" Read published work...contribute. NCTE is the National Council of Teachers of English. I published here last November (09).