what writing instructors ought to do when their cars break down

(I don’t know why the video keeps coming up as “no longer available,” but here’s a regular link to it.)

At least once a year at the YVCC writing center, we’d talk to the writing consultants about how to use their writing center experience in the future jobs. We’d go over The Bedford Guide‘s Appendix A “Outside Tutoring and Editing Jobs,” talk about ways to leverage apply their skills in various settings — all to help them figure out how to make money, in other words. This song reminded me of that.

It’d be fun to tweak the lyrics so that the mechanic wants advice on his short story or personal statement as part of his application to some academic program. What a great way for a writing tutor / instructor to make some real money. ;-)

Then he said, “Ain’t you that songwriter guy”
I said, “Yes I am.” he said, “So am I”
And he sat down and played me a song by the grease rack
When he finished singin’, he gave me a smile
And I closed my eyes and pondered awhile
And he said, “What do you think?
Now, don’t hold nothing back!”

Well, I gave him my most sorrowful look
And I said, “This song’s got a broken hook.
I can order you a new one from Nashville but it won’t be cheap
And I know you’ve been using a cut-rate thesaurus
’cause your adverbs have backed you into your chorus
Now your verse is runnin’ on verbs that are way too weak!”

But don’t be downhearted, I can fix it for you, sonny
It won’t take too long, it’ll just take money
And I said, “Hold on friend now, I’m not through
I hate to be the one to give you the news
But your whole melodic structure’s worked itself loose
It’s got so many dotted eighth notes in it
I’d keep her under fifty beats per minute
I mean, that’s just me talkin’, it’s really up to you”

“And you’ve got a bad safety problem with
That dominant chord with the augmented fifth
just see how dangerously high it rises you up
So just go on over there and work on my car
I’ll sit here by the fan and chances are
I can straighten this thing out for eigh… nine hundred bucks”

But don’t be downhearted, I can fix it for you, sonny
It won’t take too long
You guessed it, it may be a hit
I like it

Heheh, the part when he says, “I mean, that’s just me talkin’ — it’s really up to you” sounds like a feigned attempt to stick to writing center philosophy: “Oh, it’s your writing, not mine! (but do it MY way and it’ll be a hit!)”


threat of violence closes YVCC again (but only in late April?)

Deb just emailed me to let me know that campus security closed down YVCC today due to a threat of violence. The same thing happened last year. I checked a post I wrote about it last year, and it was almost exactly a year ago. What’s this? Someone gets spring fever and the urge to threaten violence? It was happening at other schools that same day last year, too (which I mentioned in my post). It’s sad and stupid, but it is curious that it’s happening at almost the same time of year.

Here’s the KNDO news story:

Serious Threat Shuts Down Yakima Valley Community College

Posted: Apr 30, 2008 09:33 AM Updated: Apr 30, 2008 11:25 AM

YAKIMA, Wash. – Yakima Valley Community College campus has been evacuated and closed down. Yakima Police is redirecting traffic around the campus.

Campus Security is currently saying that the campus has been closed down after YVCC received a credible and serious threat to public safety. Further details have not been released.

Nob Hill Boulevard is blocked off near the college as police work on getting vehicles off the campus.

Day and evening classes and activities has been canceled for Wednesday. Scheduled classes and activities will resume Thursday unless otherwise notified.

KNDO has a reporter on scene and we will be bringing you more information as it is updated. Watch tonight at 5pm and 6pm for all the details behind this developing story.

here’s the job I left

Here’s the job I left.  The opening just closed yesterday (and wasn’t open very long, I don’t think). I think they’re trying to get the position filled by the beginning of the winter quarter. I’ll be curious to hear who applied and, of course, who gets it.

Education INSTRUCTION AND CLASSROOM SUPPORT TECH 2 Yakima Valley Community College is accepting applications to establish a register for an Instruction and Classroom Support Tech 2 in the Writing Center. This register will be used in all hiring to this classification (i.e., part-time, substitute work, temporary projects, etc.) for a six-month duration. There is currently an opening (75% of full-time) at the Yakima Campus. The hours will vary (alternate work schedule), and may include evening and weekend hours.. Salary: 2,147.25 (75% of full-time per month) plus a full benefit package. Closes: December 20, 2007. For a complete job description and application please visit our college website: http://www.yvcc.edu/hr/employment.asp or you may contact Human Resource Services Department at (509) 574-4670, or write to PO Box 22520 Yakima, WA 98907-2520. E-mail: yvcchr@yvcc.edu EOE
Employment – Yakima Herald-Republic – 12/16/2007

Six tips to help students gain expertise

Hello from my alma mater writing center (at YVCC)! I just found a copy of Nancy Sommers et al’s pamphlet Making the Most of College Writing: A Guide for Freshmen. Nice. I especially like this section, since so often students can’t imagine how they can become scholars themselves or how they can write with real authority. The second one is my favorite. What a simple but great idea.

Six Tips to Help You Gain Expertise [p. 23]

Cluster your courses. This doesn’t mean that if you are interested in the psychological effects of poverty, you should take only psychology courses. Rather, try to build a program of study that allows you to explore this issue from a variety of angles—in sociology courses, in history courses, in economics courses, in government courses, and in the Core.

Write about a topic or text more than once. While you can’t turn in the same essay twice, you can certainly explore the same text or issue with different questions, thereby building on a foundation of knowledge and ideas. For example, you might encounter Nietzsche in a philosophy course and again in a religion course or a history course. The more opportunities you have to interpret a text, the more comfortable you will become developing your own ideas.

Pair your interests in a particular discipline with the appropriate language. If you are interested in Chinese-American relations, consider studying Mandarin. If you plan to concentrate in medieval history, learn some Latin. And if you are passionate about the poetry of Pablo Neruda, take up Spanish. Reading texts in their original language adds immeasurable depth to your understanding and appreciation of them.

Write research papers. Research papers are excellent opportunities for you to orient yourself in a particular field or topic and to build confidence and experience, so you can tackle future assignments in the same general area.

Take the tutorials in your concentration. The tutorial system is designed to train you in the methods of your discipline, as well as to deepen your knowledge about its central sources and patterns of scholarship. It is an invaluable way to build expertise.

Expertise will not come to you overnight. It will take many courses and many essays before you feel you can call yourself an expert—but it is worth the time and effort.

a nice surprise!

Nice surprise today! I was browsing in the bookstore when a guy said, “Excuse me. Don’t I know you?” As soon as I saw his face, I remembered him from the YVCC Writing Center. “Yes! YVCC!” I said. “The Writing Center!” he replied. I couldn’t remember his name, but after we’d talked for a minute, and we’d reintroduced ourselves to each other, I asked him if he was the one who wrote a paper about the flooded falls on the Columbia (I couldn’t remember the name). He said he was. I don’t remember too many papers, especially ones that go back to ’03 or ’04, but I remember this one. I remember learning a lot about Celilo Falls, and I remember thinking that this student was going to make a difference for the Yakama people (he’s a member of the Yakama Nation). And sure enough, he’s almost finished with his forestry degree.

I asked him if he were going home to Yakima for thanksgiving, and he said, “Oh no! Six hours?!” as if to say, No, takes too long! I stomped my foot down and said, “Thank you!” I was happy to find another person who agreed that it can take that long (or longer) to make that drive. Dodie has told me she used to do it — when she went to school here — in 4 1/2 hours. But I just can’t do it that fast. I’m ooooold. I gotta stop and stretch!

Anyway, it felt really good to chat with a YVCC alumnus. Good luck to you, Jonathan!

my alma mater writing center

Found out yesterday that the YVCC writing center had made the local paper last Monday: $3 million grant will help YVCC expand Hispanic enrollment. Yay!

(That’s my former counterpart, Brad Smith, in the photo.)


ANDY SAWYER/Yakima Herald-Republic
Brad Smith of the Yakima Valley Community College writing center works with student Judith Johnson earlier this month. The college recently received a $3 million Department of Education grant to help grow its Hispanic programs and enrollment.

Not surprising YVCC got another grant to help Hispanic students. Yakima has a large Hispanic population and YVCC has great learning (writing and math) centers. I’m proud.

Dodie is quoted:

The centers have been popular, agreed Dodie Forrest, noting that students have been flocking to the writing center, which she directs, since the first day of classes this fall. “They come for help with any writing they’re doing — whether it’s rough drafts, revisions or answering questions.”

always beginning the world

Well, I just got back from delivering a few things to the YVCC campus: the two Writing Center thumbdrives that I’d accidentally come home with in my pants pocket last week… and my resignation letter. I dropped the thumbdrives and copy of the letter off in Dodie’s office (thanks to Kelley Chase who let me in). When I got to HR and Phyllis Strain came down the hall and saw me with an envelope in my hand, she said something like, “Ohh, is that what I think it is?” “It’s a resignation letter,” I confirmed. Obviously, the word’s gotten around that I’m leaving and why, and so I keep encountering folks at YVCC who are ready with well-wishes and congratulations. Phyllis was so warm in her expression of sadness that I was leaving, in her explanation of benefits*, and in her understanding of my nervousness about the whole enterprise of leaving a good job, living apart from a partner and a home, and going back to graduate school at age 45 that I was little taken aback.

And she is just one example. I could write a paragraph each on several other people who have also been very congratulatory and full of well-wishes: Dodie, of course, my boss and friend, and many others. And these good energies do help me a lot. I may even need them where others would merely appreciate them, since I don’t usually go off into new adventures in life with much confidence. So thank you to everyone at YVCC. I’m very thankful for my years there. Very thankful. Good place, good people, lots of good work going on to help students learn.

And… I was just realizing today too that I feel similar to the way I felt back in 1995 when I left a good-paying job at Pacific Volt / Digital Graphics ADvantage in Orange County, CA to attend Fuller Seminary full time (working toward an M.Div. which I got in 1998): nervous but happy that I was leaving old friends and a familiar home both of which I’ll see again soon. That’s how my relationship with the folks at DGA turned out, so I’m sure — in more ways than one — that that’s who my relationship with folks at YVCC will turn out. I’ll visit a lot and keep in touch with lots of folks and check in on the Writing Center physically (during my quarter breaks) and virtually (via the YVCC Writing Consultants blog).

I just wish OSU’s quarter breaks weren’t parallel to YVCC’s. Since they are, I won’t be able to conduct surprise visits to the Writing Center! Oh well…

* My network access will probably expire this coming Monday, my health insurance will extend through midnight Sept 30th, I get 100% of the value of my vacation time, my sick leave will be held for three years in case I’m re-hired at a Washington state school again, there’ll be one more check via direct-deposit on Sept 25th, and the final check around October 10th (which will be snail-mailed).

P.S. It all reminds me of one of my favorite songs: “Beginning the World” by Innocence Mission

I was home by the winter.
I was home from the school town, undecided.
And questions came, like,
What did you say you’re doing now?
Well, I… had hopes for my music.
And I imagined their faces said,
Well, you can’t do that, you silly thing.
God, he gave me a brave heart.
But God, he gave me a chicken head.
And I felt I’d failed.

I am always beginning the world,
beginning the world.

Aren’t you bursting with butterflies
on the fourth of September?
Like you’ll have to get on the bus
in your tartan dress, with your lunch box.
Though your body is twenty-nine [or forty-five].
Though your mind is an old thing.
I mean, don’t you ever sigh,

I am always beginning the world,
beginning the world
I am always beginning the world,
beginning the world.

Always the same underdog stance
under the same happy-sad sky,
eternally crying, Am I still shy?

I am always beginning the world,
beginning the world.
I am always beginning the world,
beginning the world, beginning the world