Thursday, October 22, 2009


Hello all! Fifteen hours after leaving Cedar Rapids and one lost shoe later, the Coe Writing Center has made it to Rapid City, South Dakota for the Midwest Writing Center Association Conference. Woohoo! For the next two days, we'll be here giving presentations on wonderful subjects such as, Writing Center as an NGO, the 15 committees, and Writing Across the Curriculum Research. (We also got to explore the Badlands, caves and Deadwood.)

Here's a picture of us hard at work:

That's enough fun for now.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Ah, will you look at that; fall break has come and gone. How quickly time passes when you're hard at work at Coe. However, fall break was convenient in some respects: I figured out what you, the reader of this fine blog, are entitled to next. Namely, the results of some thinking inflicted on me late one evening.

As it turned out, on that rather dreary Minnesota night, a friend of mine asked me over the internet to take a quick glance at a paper he was working on. This wasn't a particularly unusual request; I've done quite a few things like this for my friends in the past, but on this particular instance, I had some new abilities available to me. Or at least a new perspective. In helping Thomas fix his paper, I this time took a more backseat role and focused on helping him make the paper better rather than on editing. As the paper was going to be subjected to a class workshop the next day, I focused on the type of criticism and commentary that we so often fall back on in the Writing Center here at Coe. It made me think, "I really do belong in the Coe Writing Center."

- Ben Buckmaster '13.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Ladies and Gentlemen...Andy Johnson

- Chris Hughes

They Call Me "Swine Flew"

2814 11.1282

We had a great time on our annual WC retreat a few weeks ago. Returning to Wisconsin (where our retreat was held my freshman year) and the American Players Theatre was a great throw-back for me, but the real treat was the opportunity to once again drive a 15 passenger van. I drove one of these beast my first year at Coe on a going to a Writing Center conference in Houston, and that was quite a trial. At 5’1” I am barely able to see over the steering wheel, and also have to take a running start to get into the driver’s seat. This particular road trip had been very Little Miss Sunshine with each of us stoically playing our parts. I of course got to be Olive, the little girl. But that isn’t so important.

We were driving through the boonies of Oklahoma in the middle of the night. Rob Synovec and Catie Stienman had both gotten too tired to drive, so it was my turn to take the night shift. Driving through the plaines of Oklahoma in the middle of the night is a dull experience, and so Malyssa Oblander was put in charge of keeping me awake. She failed miserably at this job, and about 2:30am Rob switched with her and took up the post of navigator and driver’s entertainment. Around 3 am we decided it was time to stop for the night, and pulled off of the main highway headed toward a town that had signs for hotels. Driving down the unlit road leading from off-ramp to town, a figure suddenly appeared in the road. It was large and bulbous and rather lifeless, but I did not have time to think or react much less slam on my brakes. Instead I proceeded to straddle this creature with the tires of the 15 passenger van. After passing over it, I came to a stop and looked at Rob. I thought I was hallucinating, of course as it was 3 in the morning and I had been going crazy in that van for the past twelve hours. The look on Rob’s face confirmed my sanity when we both realized that I had just run over a dead pig. It wasn’t just any pig, but a very large, very pink, potentially pregnant dead pig. We are talking Blue-ribbon sized pig.

We found the motel a few miles down the road and Rob got out to get us some rooms. Another van pulled up, and out came about 15 haggard looking railroad workers. One of them may actually have been a reincarnation of John Henry. He was in the top five biggest people I have ever seen. I would have liked him to be on my football team. Or really any team for that matter. Once Rob got inside, John Henry leans over to him and asks if he is the one with the van full of women. Rob says yes, and John Henry responds, “You are one lucky man.”

We went back down the same road the next morning, and there was no pig to be seen. Rob and I both saw it though. We promise. Needless to say, I love 15 passenger vans.

-Katie B.

Monday, October 5, 2009

So we here at the Writing Center have a slight problem: while we love baking things, we (more often than not) have no eggs to work with. This was, unfortunately, the case this evening down in the WC when our dear friend Jess decided that it was time for brownies. We lamented the lack of eggs and the absence of baked treats that said lack would cause. That is, until Amelie suggested:

"Hey, why don't you just do a vegan recipe? They don't require eggs or anything like that."

Apparently, vegan recipes (especially for things like cookies and brownies, we don't really aim for healthy things down here) have been an ongoing theme in the Writing Center, especially with folks like Clarissa and Patricia last year. And while I haven't been privy to such knowledge up until now, I am feeling all sorts of educated and ready to munch.

So please, when trying to bake something in our beloved basement abode, think of your fellow consultants: don't let the lack of any one ingredient get in between you and baked goodness. Be creative and even if your concoction turns out to be awful, those in the WC will still appreciate it.

For personal reference, here is a vegan recipe for brownies:


  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Pour in water, vegetable oil and vanilla; mix until well blended. Spread evenly in a 9x13 inch baking pan.
  3. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until the top is no longer shiny. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting into squares.
Fo sheezy

- Chris Hughes '10

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Anne Fadiman Visits Coe

Nationally acclaimed author and essayist Anne Fadiman recently visited Coe College. Fadiman is perhaps best known for her award-winning book The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down. All incoming freshman were required to read this book (myself included). This book covered the account of a young epileptic Hmong – American girl (Hmong is a group of people from Laos and Vietnam) and the cultural misunderstandings between her parents and the American doctors who treated her. The book deals with the very sensitive topic of racial and cultural differences, and has been received in both very positive and negative ways. It, however, did win the National Book Critics Circle Award.

The writing center staff attended one of her speaking events on Sunday, September 20 in exchange for the weekly staff meeting. This event was largely based on question and answer. Students posed a wide variety of queries, and Fadiman addressed most of them. She explained the process of writing her book, which took over eight years to complete. She also answered questions regarding her experiences with writing and education, publishing, her critics, and her writing style.

The following day, Fadiman addressed a larger of group faculty and students in Sinclair auditorium. She spoke for roughly forty-five minutes, talking about the time she spent with the Hmong during her research, and elaborating on the larger themes of her work. There was another question and answer session following her talk.

Ten writing center students also had the opportunity to have lunch with Fadiman on Monday afternoon. This was initially going to be a lunch with faculty, but Dr. Bob advocated the value that students could extract from the experience. Because of this, Dr. Bob was able to produce 10 students from the writing center to have lunch with the acclaimed author.

- Matt Barnd '13