Monday, September 29, 2008

Getting Paid!

End-of-the-month Reminder:

If you want to get paid, either through scholarship, fellowship or work study, you need to turn in your hours sheets. Record all hours you work - topics counts, so do staff meetings and any off-hours conferences. Green (fellowship) sheets go to Tresa, and pink (work study) sheets go to Katie S. - put them in their WC mailboxes or hand them in directly to Tresa or Katie. Okay.

And...random WC pic o'the day:

Tiki Hut Tan - WC Minutes 9/29

After a high calorie, low nutrition meal in the caf, the meeting begins. The agenda: posters and conference groups.

But first...general notices.

Whitney is doing attendance - she says that if you want to be counted and she doesn't know who you are you should make yourself known at the next meeting. She is blonde. She is an ASA. She likes show tunes. Whitney.

The social activities committee has a questionnaire about events for the year. If you want to have input, talk to Ariel. My vote is for haunted house tour.

Hilarious request: Leigh's apartment is being fumigated, and her asthmatic cat needs a home for the day next week. Clarissa steps up.

If you're involved in stuff and want a cheerleader, email Heather with dates. Balloons may be arranged. Feel free also to email someone on the blog committee to have events posted online.

First activity of the meeting is making posters for people off-campus. The WC forgot to do this last year (both semesters!) for the first time in 20 years. Hm. I guess now we're back on the wagon. Marie and I (and presumably other off-campus studiers) are very bitter.

On the bright side, we got to break in a brand new pack of gorgeous markers. Sample colors: moonstone yellow, rambunctious red, fandango pink, for-ever-green, prairie berry, and my favorite - tiki hut tan.

If you weren't at the meeting, stop in the WC and add a message to the posters. Also, we need addresses for peeps abroad: Kevin, Willie, Nathan, etc., so email them to Bob.

Finally, Vegas people meet. If you missed the meeting, be sure to check in with your group.

That's the all of it.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

"Revising" Garfield

Who knew that cutting out the comic's namesake would (finally) make the strip funny?

(courtesy of garfield minus garfield)

- Johanna

Bare my sole(s)

I've begun picking a random day out of the week when I don't wear shoes. Yes mom, I do look out for pieces of broken glass. But I also got to spend a glorious ten seconds shuffling through the fallen leaves between Voorhees and Gage.

[sidenote--Ok, alums of Dr. Bob's walking class, help me out here. It's a compound leaf, the only tree that has changed color (currently goldenrod), and the leaves are tiny and soft. Not crunchy in that satisfying autumn way, just....swishy.]

Anyway, going around barefoot is great. My feet don't smell like shoe, and if they get wet, they dry fast. It's like a foot massage everywhere I go.

Maybe it's a coincedence, but this day was way better than yesterday. No joke. Yesterday, in typical ineptitude, I forgot to get recommendations for my Fulbright. Today, in a spurt of industriousness, I'm writing a blog entry for the Writing Center.

Oh, bare feet. You ground me so.

- Johanna

A Slow Day for WC Minutes 9/22

Despite Dr. Bob's request to us last week, the Lynch Room was sadly not turned into a conference center. Oh, well. Maybe next Monday?

There is talk of the evolution of a new database, but it doesn't exist. Yet. So keep filling out your orchid forms, but don't worry about entering them into the computer. To the database filler-outer person, Casey is apparently missing some vowels. I'm not sure what that means, but take note.

If you're on fellowship, fill out a green sheet every month listing the hours you work (including Topics and Monday meetings); Alonso has retired as record-keeper, so turn your sheets in to Tresa. Work study people: if you don't care about getting paid, don't turn your form in. Otherwise, find Katie S. at the end of the month.

We then split off into committees and discussed things amongst ourselves. If any particular committees have anything particular they want us all to know, let me know and I'll send it out in the minutes next week or post it on the blog

From the blog committee : Read the blog. Andy J. says the blog is boring. We say Andy J. is boring.

Just kidding.

Studiers Abroad

Writing Centerers have studied in places far and wide. Here's a partial list. Feel free to leave comments with edits or additions:

Belgium - Laura Wenk, Patricia Byrne
Cameroon - Brandon Kenhammer
Chile - Patricia Byrne
China – Deborah Kwan
Costa Rica - Malyssa Oblander
Czech Republic - Katie Becker
Egypt - Kathryn McBride
England – Leta Keane, Nathan Barford (London); Jenna Shaw, Johanna Schnell, Whitney Kaefring (Lake District); Abby Pierron, Beth Hayden, Kate Taber, Rob Synovec (London/Florence)
France - Katie Roger, Laura Wenk
Gambia - Hannah Ross-Suits (Peace Corps)
Germany - Alice Obrecht, Nathan Barford
Ghana - Nathan Nass, Nathan Raymond
Greece – Kathryn McBride, Betsy Friedrich, Jenna Shaw, Vaclav Shatillo
India - Katie Blanchard
Ireland – Laura Farmer, Bree Graczyk, Marie Hunt
Israel - Nick Barnes, Kate Taber, Catie Steinman
Italy – Kate Taber, Beth Hayden, Rob Synovec, Trent Edwards, Jane Poynter
Japan - Corrie Ball, Rob Synovec (JET)
Madagascar - Kim Miller
Mexico - Alonso Avila
Mongolia - Alice Obrecht (Fulbright)
The Netherlands - Laura Wenk
New York City – Ezra Stewart-Silver, Jenna Shaw, Brad Bosma, Katie Blanchard, Lilly Vince, Joe Ponce, Tara Richards
Nicaragua -- Johanna Schnell
Nigeria - Kim Miller, Brandon Kenhammer (Fulbright)
Northern Ireland - Kristin Patch, Gen Oroszvary, Sarah Small
Panama - Patricia Byrne
Paraguay - Patricia Byrne
Senegal - Lillian Vince
Serbia - Katie Blanchard, Grant Stevens
South Africa - Geci Karuri
South Korea - Nathan Nass (Fulbright), Marie Hunt, Leta Keane
Spain - Catie Steinman
Sweden – Willie Waisath, Kevin Dyrland
Thailand, Cambodia, Laos - Ezra Stewart-Silver, Johanna Schnell, Kyle Mangan, Dave Woerhle, Andy Decker, Heather Lewis, Patricia Byrne, Andy Johnson, Chris Hughes, Kacie Svoboda, Emily Hipps, Holly Bouma-Johnston (Asia Term)
Turkey – Fatma Zahra, Bree Graczyk, Jenna Shaw
Vietnam - Asia Term peeps (see "Thailand" entry), Jenna Shaw, Iris Garcia (May Term)
Wales – Tanner Curl, Jackie Moore
Washington, DC - Jenny McArdle, Kelly Carlblom

Thursday, September 18, 2008

hi, hi tiger-i!

Let it be noted that the Alpha Nu Literary Society has a cheer. It reads as follows:

"Hi, hi tiger-i! Hoo, rah, hoo! Siss, boom, zigera! Alpha Nu!"


-- Jenna


New thing I've been doing which is agreeable:
Eating lunch from Brewed Awakenings (usually soup - the soup is great) in the Writing Center.

And, yeah, that was a really, shamefully shameless plug.

I've been spending less and less time in the Writing Center. My freshman year, if I wasn't eating, sleeping, or in class, I was here. But since then, I find myself only frequenting Peterson 145 when I work, or need a conference, or have to pull an all-nighter to write a paper I've put off for too long.

But I've been making an effort to be here more often, outside of my working hours. And I'm remembering why I spent so much time here in the first place.

On almost every bit of Writing Center propaganda we produce, there's the phrase coined by WC alum Laura Farmer -- "The Writing Center: the Mecca of random conversations." I've become immune to this statement - it's just something to say to pique interest, a good space filler. But I've been reminded, lately, of how true this statement is. People discuss everything here. I'd give examples, but they probably wouldn't reflect how bizarre and varied the truth actually is.

So I think I'm going to continue this upward trend. I'd forgotten that, when I'm away, I miss being here. It's good remembering.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A cuppa coffee

My relationship with coffee is an intense one. I know that sounds hyperbolic, but hear me out. I won’t forget the first time I got a coffee high. In typical eager nerdyness, I had not only been elected Treasurer of Colere, but I also decided to re-organize the binder of Treasurer information into something coherent. Due to its availability of caffeine, I elected to use the WC as the staging area for this endeavor. Once I lost count of how many cups I’d imbibed, I was giddy, singing, and using the CWC hole punch with extraordinary fervor.

I know, bizarre-o.

During my semester in Nicaragua, I spent three weeks in a village whose main industry was coffee farming. Who knows how many hours I spent with my host family, picking each bean individually. The bean is embedded in the fruit of the coffee berry, meaning that after the coffee has been picked, it needs to be de-pulped. My host family used a hand-propelled depulper, which looked like a circular cheese grater that removed the outer fruit layer so that none remained on the bean.

Then the day’s harvest ferments overnight to loosen up the outer husk of the bean. The following day, all the beans are washed, and the de-pulped, de-husked beans are set out to dry. Family members will spend hours over the drying trays, picking out every bug bitten, green, or rotten bean they find. Then they sell their crop at a fraction of the price we pay, and arrives to us pre-roasted and pre-ground, contained in a tasteful WC mug.

I don't ask that anyone feel bad, guilty, whatever. What I want to be recognized is that real people have picked every individual bean, and that these beans go through a lot to arrive in our cup. One of the faults of an industrial society is that we rarely know much about the origins of our purchases. It's not like writing a paper, where the writer is painfully aware of its inception and tortuous revisions. This is more like reading a Hemingway novel.

- Johanna

Monday, September 15, 2008

9/15 Writing Center Minutes: a play-by-play

After an intense exchange between Bob “Showdown” Marrs and a chipper Sodexho employee, the meeting begins...sort of. Well, we begin waiting for the meeting to begin. Marie and Ezra embark on a discussion of “man pockets.” Ezra says, “They’re glorious!”

Turns out the real meeting is happening next door with the college accreditation committee, so we spend a while milling between the two rooms, leaving the committee clearly impressed with Coe’s student turn out. Whoo-hoo.

We re-gather, meeting begins. What Bob finds disturbing: Bob Drexler and John Chaimov are absent. Just as we’re about to give up hope, Drex saunters in to a round of applause. He’s here to talk about Spring Semester in Asia, which happens every spring and is “hosted” by various Coe professors. This year it’s John Chaimov, who’s focusing the semester around issues of human rights and environmental issues in Asia.

The rundown on Asia Term:
-10 weeks in Thailand , 3 in Cambodia, 2 in Vietnam, with a trip to Laos.
-While on the term you complete an independent project (examples: cooking, political science, volunteering, art, research project) which can usually be parlayed into counting toward your major.
-Four credits. Counts toward your “off-campus internship special thing”
-It’s a Coe program, so you pay Coe tuition, plus a $1500 fee to cover various expenses. This is a really good deal
-There will be an official informational meeting in ~ 2 weeks
-Contact Bob Drexler or John Chaimov for more information, or to add your name to the “master list.”
-See Ed. professor Terry McNabb’s blog from last year to get a better idea of the term:
-The CWC has several Asia Term alumni: Andy Decker, Ezra Stewart-Silver, Johanna Schnell, Kyle Mangan, Dave Woehrle...I’m not forgetting anyone? Andy became a monk – it was enlightening. Johanna did something for which she didn’t receive polisci credit. Ezra made a lot of curry.
-Everyone is eligible to go (except me, clearly), including freshmen and seniors. If you’re interested, you probably should do it.

Bob says: “Never let your schooling interfere with your education. Your major just doesn’t make a difference. The best thing about Coe is leaving – CR is an okay town, but leave.” This is sage advice. In summary, the reason people go to liberal arts we can go on to graduate studies in other stuff.
-Major + GPA = 2 lines on your resume. They skip over that stuff when applying for jobs. What’s important is what else you do. Apparently more Coe students study abroad than do all University of Iowa undergrads. Also, most Coe people graduate in four years, while only 28% graduate after four years from Iowa. “We can consistently kick ass.” True, true.
-So...go off-campus. In the next couple of weeks we’ll be putting together some information in the WC and on the blog about where WCers have studied in recent years and who you can contact for personal testimonies/opinions about study abroad. As Bob notes, after you graduate to the real world you’ll probably never have the opportunity to take four months off and go explore SE Asia. Unless you’re a college professor, that is.

Other news: Good job, tea committee, at the Reeve reception. It was very nice and Bob is proud of you.

Also, the Marrs family Dickinson-orama in Sinclair last Saturday was great fun – ask Bob for a copy of the powerpoint if you want. He might even break into a rendetion of “Because I could not stop for Death” to the tune of “Amazing Grace.”

There are still a few extra WC keys available for rent. Give Bob a $10 deposit in exchange for a shiny new key opening the door to the happiest place on campus.

Next week: Committee meetings. If you don’t know what committee you’re on, check in the clipboard in the WC or ask Bob.


Friday, September 12, 2008

FD Reeve is the bomb

F.D. Reeve, on dealing with problems by being a poet:
"I have to write. If you can solve your problems by drinking, do."
Reeve came to the Writing Center and gave a brief lecture this last Thursday. He also read some of his poems. The guy was down to earth. Refreshingly so - he didn't wax sentimental or poetic about being a poet. He didn't strike me as someone who was just literary, with no foot in the real world.
He has a sense of humor, he listened, was easy to talk to. You didn't feel like he was lording anything over you. There wasn't a trace of condescension when he talked, no pretense of knowing the great secrets of writing. He wasn't trendy.
His advice on overcoming writer's block was to drink, and if that didn't work, to translate something into English from another language. Weird. Fantastic.

- Leta

monday meeting

After this week's hiatus, we'll be returning to normal meeting times next Monday. Meeting's at 7pm in Lower Gage.

las vegas!

Some news-y stuff for people going to the conference in Las Vegas... (the rest of you should plan to attend next week’s meeting at the normal time and place: 6:00, Lower Gage)...

Las Vegas!

The theme of the conference is, apparently, "roads converging." Due to confusion created by incompetent IWCA organizers, we will not have any speaking sessions, but will be presenting four posters. They’re more fun, anyway. The topics: Writing Across the Curriculum-Longitudinal Study, Faculty Interviews WAC/WID, WC fellowships as recruiting tools, and something called "Assignment Roundabout."

We’re flying Frontier Airlines and, on account of inexplicable airline economics, we’ll be leaving CR in the wee hours of Oct. 29 and driving to Omaha, where we’ll board a plane to Vegas, via Denver. I’m already tired.

Some trip stuff:
-The WC is baggage-free this time: take carry-on luggage only
-Consultants should expect to be responsible for one meal per day: housing and the other meals will be covered
-Evenings will generally be open – you’re free to check out shows, tourist destinations, gambling, chapels (the WC currently has no policies related to shotgun weddings – consider taking advantage of this obvious loophole).
-We’re staying at a resort. Bring your swimsuit.
-Steve Singleton and Dan Lehn are our chaperones for the week: get excited.

...And that’s that.

Monday, September 8, 2008

aladdin recap

as leta noted, dinner last night at aladdin was a jolly old time. here's some pictoral evidence:

a coffee making reminder

          When using the fancy new red grinder, make sure you hold the cup all the way up on it, so the grounds don't go flying all over.
          Also, when the sound of the grinder changes, getting higher pitched, hit the stop switch; it's not that great for it to run without anything to chew on.
          Before you dump the grounds into a filter, hold the cup under where the grinds come out and whack the dangling plate really hard -- I'm serious, ball up your fist and wail on that thing! Some of the more finely ground beans get caught up in the blades and gum up the machine, which is no good. So vent some frustrations on it! It's therapeutic.

  - Leta

a study of place

If I had to pinpoint a specific location in the writing center I love the most, it would have to be the second computer in the WC library. While I of course stay in the main room if I'm working a shift, the area manages to balance both the element of solitude and company when I’m writing. With the door closed, I can concentrate on whatever it is I’m writing at the time. But the second I hit writer’s block, there’s a room full of people just around the corner being PAID to talk to me about my homework. So I grab a cup of coffee on my way to the next room, and start working out the kinks with somebody. What could be more ideal?

  - Johanna

Sunday, September 7, 2008

fine dining

So the first "Dining with the Director" event was pretty fantastic.
          I wasn't sure what to expect from this outing - discussion of Writing Center theories and practices? Or maybe brainstorming ways to make the Writing Center better?
          What actually transpired was this:
          Dr Bob and his wife showed up at the Writing Center in their space-age minivan (the doors open at the touch of a button! Okay, so not really that new or exciting ...) and Jenna, Ezra, Johanna, Chris, and myself piled in. We drove to Aladdin Restaurant and ordered an assortment of appetizers.
          As we ate off of comically small plates (the saucers that came with Jenna and Johanna's tea were larger), we really did just sit and talk. About nothing in particular, really (Ezra: "It makes you alert!" - regarding coffee in the morning). It felt more like a meal between friends, rather than a business meeting. It was just ... satisfying, and fun. It was good to get off campus with fellow consultants and Dr Bob.
          I don't mean to get all warm and fuzzy here, but it was neat to sit there and see how the past few years have brought us together. We've had so many shared experiences, most of them through the Writing Center.
          I'm not sure if this evening went exactly as Dr Bob had planned, but I'm gonna call it a success.

And to echo Jenna's earlier post: spots are still open for breakfast at the Butterfly Cafe on Thursday morning - the sign up sheet is posted on Dr Bob's door. What are you waiting for?

  - Leta

our home, peterson hall

See our Flickr page:


There are still some graham crackers and off-brand marshmallows in the WC pantry left over from the retreat. Spread peanut butter on the graham crackers. Microwave marshmallow 7 secs. Smoosh together. Quasi-s'more deliciousness.

And...change of plans for this week's meeting. Tomorrow (Monday) night, the Writing Fellows will be meeting in the WC at 6:00. At 6:30, the people going to the conference in Las Vegas (departure, Wed. Oct. 29) will meet, also in the WC.

Topics will meet regularly on Monday and Tuesday.

Aaaand...a special event. This Thursday at 4:00pm the WC is hosting a reception for a visiting writer, the novelist and poet F.D. Reeve. A short reading followed by a q&a session; the event shouldn't last longer than an hour-and-a-half. Sign-up sheet on the desk. Be there!

Finally, there are still spots open for dinner at Aladdin tonight and breakfast at the Butterfly Cafe on Thursday. Sign-up on Bob's door. Seriously, who passes up on college-subsidized, off-campus meals?


Shameless plug: If you're interested in becoming a part of the illustrious Coe Review staff, come to our meeting this Monday at 7:00pm, 3rd floor of Hickok (Chuck Aukema's office). We'll start packeting and reading this week.


A few changes in the WC (current consultants should have received an email).

Attached to the door separating the two main rooms is a small white board split into days of the week. At the beginning of our shifts we're supposed to consult this board to check for requested tasks. Easy enough.

You'll notice that the logbook looks different - TR shifts are being split by the half-hour, and you write your name as well as initial the beginning of your shift. Very easy.

Orchid forms are also being adjusted slightly - the database will now feature a template so you don't waste time entering the same thing over and over. Especially useful for Writing Fellows. Bob writes:

For those of you who are Writing Fellows or planning to do a bunch of conferences for students from the same class, you can load that template, enter in your name as the consultant, fill out other data common to all the students (such as name of instructor and course title), and print out your own orchid forms. No need that your copies must be on orchid paper, but it would be nice if you could aim for your forms to retain the size and shape of the forms we currently use (thus making our filing system a bit neater). I will also bring to the Writing Center and place in the bottom drawer of the filing cabinet on which our main printer rests some orchid-colored paper, for those of you who want your personal forms to fit with the tradition.

And my very favorite of the new changes to the WC is...dining with the director. Yes! Every week, Bob will be taking five consutants, including at least two newbies (first come, first served), out for a meal off campus for an hour of chatting and chomping. Participation is totally optional, and you can attend multiple meals on the town, dates and times will vary. The first dinner is this Sunday (today!) at 6pm at Aladdin. Next Thursday at 7.30am (!) will be the Butterfly Cafe. Yum.

Also, our green-thumbed director recently donated some fabulous produce to the free-for-all wc fund: baby cucumbers, crispy-fresh green beans, and two of the biggest summer squash I've ever seen. I'm thinking...zucchini bread. Any other suggestions?

-- Jenna

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

I love the WC retreat

For my first WC blog entry, I shall of course cover our recent retreat to the great Painted Rocks. I don't have permission yet to use people's names, so I'm going with first initial until I do.

Before sundown, several beginner consultants, P and J especially, had proven themselves to be superior pyro-technicians at the resort’s fire pit. Confusion ensued when E opened the hot dog box to find them frozen solid. I took action at this point, and micro-zapped the hot dogs until they could be jabbed onto a stick for roasting over the flames. Feeling very proud of myself, I sat around the fire to socialize with the new and returning consultants.

It’s a difficult thing to meet new people. I know I could have done a better job of making the new consultants feel more comfortable. At the same time, I know that as our new consultants work their hours in the WC, at least my face will be familiar and (I hope) welcoming.

Once the fire died out, most were ready for bed. C had the brilliant idea of bringing her pup tent along and I crashed it for the weekend. Nothing like mounds and mounds of pillows for bedding. Below, please note the photograph of me diligently finishing off a tin of baked beans while basking in the extravagant comfort of her plastic shelter.

Saturday, we practiced conducting workshops, conferencing, and writing short papers more or less simultaneously. As a Writing Center Fellow for a First Year Seminar class (so many proper nouns!), I needed the workshop experience so I could later conduct them for the first years as they prepare their Portfolios.

The night’s festivities was a double feature at a drive in movie theater. Passing cars honked vigourously as families, teenagers, and WC consultants enjoyed the canned scripts of The Clone Wars and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2. I personally don’t know whether the success of such terrible writing is encouraging or not. In any case, much tickling and buffoonery ensued. Below, please note some documented merry-making.

We wrapped it up on Sunday with some sage advice passed down from senior consultants to our new recruits (my favorites were from L: always take the comfy chair, never microwave your socks, the WC fish will die), some last revising and conferencing, and the grand finale: the WC skits. My personal favorite was M’s portrayal of Kyn, the Center’s mannequin.

And that was it. My last WC retreat. May the year officially begin.

- Johanna