Monday, September 29, 2008


I am finishing up two writing projects, and things are going pretty well. Busy, though.



Monday, September 22, 2008

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Long Day

Long day of teaching and prepping. It was a good one, though. I'm getting ready to go see my mother this weekend. It will be good to see her.

Goof of the day: a student from one of my classes called. I got him confused with another student and gave him great advice for the wrong class. OOPS.

Monday, September 15, 2008


Well, school is definitely in session. Things are going pretty well. I have to come up with a way to deal with DeVaca. But things are pretty good.

Anyway, back to work.

Student Evaluations

Well, got some feedback today from my MCTC students. They essentially liked what I was doing. It's been a long day and more to do.


Saturday, September 13, 2008

Supplemental--Nebula awards

Supplemental: I read that my story Primetime made a very long list of stories given at least one nod by a SFWA pro. I'm nowhere near the award. But that my name and Nebula are on the same page, that's nice.


the Chronicle and The Game of Ethnic Identity

Well, I just heard back from the Chronicle of Higher Education. They're paying me 500 dollars for my piece. I'm very excited about this. They even are doing a kill fee if we can't agree on a final version. The article will draw some fire, but I'm quite happy I wrote it.

Jobs: Took a look at the Job Information List at the MLA. Sigh. It's about what I thought. "Ethnic" literature rules. What does this really mean? Actually what it means is minority hires. Now, as somebody who took tear gas at the white house long ago, I'm not exactly a conservative. But this ethnic thing is weird. Obviously, many middle class whites are feeling guilt. About what, I'm not sure.

Do I feel guilt about being white, do I take responsibility for 400 years of slavery? No. One side of my family fought in the Union army. We kicked Southern butt for four years. The other half didn't get here until World War I. So, no, I don't feel guilty at all. My family was part of the solution, not part of the problem. My mother and father were teachers. Were they enslaving poor black people and chaining them in the basement? No, not that I remember.

But some of these ridiculous liberals make themselves feel better about their own status by hiring minorities. And the trouble with this is that we're not talking poor black people being hired from Watts. What we're talking is the children of BUPPIES. Many of these people will say things like, "Hire me because I'm black and pay me more because of it." This is really cynical. And how it serves the ends of social justice is beyond me.

Very few of these people have social agendas that are progressive in any real sense.

I'm absolutely disgusted by this. Indeed, one of the black new hires at the University of Minnesota,told me that the U doesn't give a rat's ass about undergraduate education. It doesn't matter to her anyway. She's too busy with speaking engagements to really care. Indeed, another African American student asked her to be her advisor. She said she was too busy with lecture tour to do it. Is this person the child of sharecroppers? Hardly, her father was in the diplomatic service.

There's also a native American writer at the U. Well, sort of. He's blue eyed and went to Princeton. He's buddies with somebody I know from Harvard. This guy is really pleasant. He turns on his native american identity when it helps him get a job and to get more money. I teach Native American students all the time. They can't turn off their identity. It's who they are. This guy is a sham.

What's really disgusting is that if you look at the salaries of these two (and you can because they teach at a public university), they are much higher than those of their peers. It's not because of their scholarship, but, rather, because of their ethnic identity.

This is gross.

It's almost enough to make me conservative. Well, almost. There is that old liberal idea of a social safety net and a race blind society that I actually do believe in. Silly me. It's identity power politics, baby. And over what? A few fifty thousand dollar a year jobs that essentially are about teaching 18 year olds not to have comma splices. How does this help poor people in any meaningful way? It doesn't. This is what the US attempt at social justice has become.

Shame, shame.

More later, if I don't throw up.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Well, haven't heard back from the Chronicle in a while. Are you out there?

Hopefully, things will be ok.

I'm taking a quick look at the Jobs Information List that the Modern Language Association puts out. Now, I have some hope, but I can guess what I will find: hundreds of jobs for "Ethnic American Literature."

Now, as a white guy who's also a liberal, I'm appalled by this. Why don't the schools simply say, "No White Guys."

The amount of mediocrity that I've seen at the University of Minnesota English Department is awful. Some of these idiots see the job of being an English professor as teaching their own racial identity. No wonder nobody gives a shit about the humanities any longer.

Diversity is good, but what happened to the idea of being judged according to the quality of one's character and not the color of one's skin. Who said this? Why, Martin Luther King.


Sunday, September 7, 2008

Chronicle of Higher Education

Well, I sold a piece on Friday to the Chronicle of Higher Education. The piece is called "How to make 100k a year as an adjunct English Instructor." It was a fun piece that I pumped out in about three hours. A few glitches, but it was pretty good.

I tutored this morning and now have to prep for class. Time to go.


Monday, September 1, 2008

Labor Day

Well, I'm beginning a new school year. Lots to do. Let's see. I'm trying to revive an old relationship. Will I succeed? I don't know. I've been known to attempt the impossible. Sometimes I fail miserably. Other times, I pull it off. But one never knows. Keep the faith. Enough about that.

I'm teaching nine classes this semester. I'm truly privileged to be able to do this. I hope I can keep the faith with all of my students.

I'm also privileged to be trying the job market again this year. I'm pulling in my very extended network. Maybe it will work. Maybe not. Who knows. I'm making twice what I would as an assistant professor. Maybe the right thing to do is to be willing to ride the waves of the free market.

The question I have for myself is why I would want to try this. Unlike my advisor, who has accomplished very little in twenty years and unlike most faculty members that I've met at the University of Minnesota, I think I would publish twenty articles. No more than that and twenty reviews. I'm a much harder worker than most academics in English. No doubt about that.

We'll see.

I sumbitted a piece to the Chronicle of Higher Education yesterday. We'll see how that goes.

I've been listening to Rich Idiot CDs this morning during my morning walk. It's clear that while I'm doing pretty well financially right now, I am still in the foothills. The first major milestone will be a net worth of 100,000, which I should hit in about 18 months, if I'm lucky. That's my first goal. That's doing very well. Now, I need to focus on helping people and growing myself into a better person. Truly, that's the goal of all goals.

Yesterday, I spend a morning doing some values clarification work, figuring out my goals. I recommend such work for everybody.

Here's what I came up with. For the next 19 years, I want to focus on teaching, writing, direct mail copy work and building a life with somebody probably here in Minnesota. I also want to start and sell a small publishing company.

After that, I'm going to be 60. God, it's hard to even talk about that age. But it will arrive. The question is what shape will I be in when it gets here. I'd like to be worth about three million dollars and in very good health and with a teenaged son (and daughter). I'd like to move back to Erie at that point in my life, move into a house right on Lake Erie. I miss the sunsets over the lake and the expansiveness of the lake. Even thought I live in Minnesota, I miss the snow. I also miss Pennsylvania. I want to be in the middle of a wonderful marriage (with somebody dedicated to loving me as much as I love about her). At that point, I would want a son to attend Cathedral Prep, the school I went to. My parents gave me that gift, and I'd like to give it to somebody else. And I want to give back to Erie. I want, at that point, to teach a couple of classes a year at PSU Erie or some other place and spend the next twenty years concentrating on writing fiction and direct mail full time. Of course full time for me right now means 90 hour weeks. I'd like to slow down at that point and work 40 hour weeks and spend one month a year traveling in style to some place I've never been. I've never been to Africa. I don't have much desire to see Asia. I'd like to go back to Greece, to which I traveled when I was twenty. I'd like to see South America, probably Argentina. And I'd like to see Spain again. But all this--and the lakefront house I want--is going to take a lot of money. So, for the next 19 years, it's work, work, work.

When I leave this world, hopefully in my 90s, I want to be able to say to the world: "Well, folks, I was here. Here's what I've left you. Thousands of students taught. Thousands of readers, maybe millions of readers, entertained. Millions of dollars givevn to charity because of my fundraising work and personal contributions. A wife loved, children brought up right, who see their mission as serving the world. This is what I did with what I was given. I made mistakes but I tried to correct them and love and serve given my abilities. How about you? What are you going to show us?" That's the way I want to go out, to whatever is beyond.

Begin in with the end in mind.

Off to work.