The 100 Quarter Club

Just got my grades and my TA’s grades in this last Tuesday. Then spent a couple of days getting stuff ready for the next quarter which starts TOMORROW!

Not much of a Spring Break, though that’s always the case. Winter and Spring Quarters just blur into each other making one 22 week marathon.

New quarter makes 93 quarters that I have taught at UCSB. I doubt I will make the 100 quarter club. I will probably retire before that, though if I throw in my time as a Teaching Assistant, I am already there. In the 100 Quarter Club.

Not that there is such a thing.

Imagine My Surprise

I hadn’t thought about it in some time. But my little book, Self-Development and College Writing, came out in 2004. Hard to believe it’s been that long. Perhaps two years after it came out, I was sort of pissed. I mean it sold, I guess, but not very well. It got two reviews–one negative, suggesting it was part of the end of composition studies, and the other very positive. At this juncture, I think it has sold around 500 copies, not like the good old days when you sold at least a 1000 just to libraries, but now libraries are investing in databases.

I was pissed–to repeat myself–because I put a good deal of work into that thing. Lots and lots of writing and rewriting over a four year period. The editor always backed it, but the editorial board had to change nearly completely before it was approved. But it was, and I am glad I wrote it. But still for all the effort I put into it not much seemed to come back. Admittedly, it’s an odd little book. I understand now really, really “old school,”not so much about something called composition studies as about the potential role of writing instruction for the purposes of a liberal education. So it didn’t really fill a niche, least of all a fashionable one, though it did serve the purpose of explicating a relationship between writing and psychoanalysis. Mark Bracher sited it a great deal in his book, “Radical Pedagogy: Identity, Generativity, and Social Transformation.” A good book, also very, very much in the psychoanalytic vein.

As I said I had not thought about it in some time, so imagine my surprise when I tumbled to the fact that it is now on Google Books. Aw, the digital river. Way, way back in 2004 Google Books didn’t exist. But now behold.
Now anybody can punch in and read parts of the book. It’s not all there. It’s a kind of teaser, like those snippets of Mp3 you can hear to see if you want to buy the whole thing.

I recommend it without reservation, though of course I am biased.

Depressed Mothers

The L.A. Times ran a not bad article on the affect of depressed mothers upon their children.  A  selected quotation:

The harmful effects [of a parent’s depression] on children were summed up last year in a report by the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine. Problems begin early, as the infants of depressed mothers cry more than other babies. They have greater fear of strangers and less tolerance for frustration, according to the report. Starting in preschool, kids with depressed parents are more likely than classmates to have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Across all stages of childhood, they have more behavior problems at school and higher rates of depression and anxiety disorders.

By adolescence, children with depressed parents have poorer
social relations than the teens of parents who aren’t depressed, and
they’re more likely to be dependent on alcohol and drugs, the federal
report indicates. Depression in parents also is linked to poorer
academic performance, according to studies in the report.

And some harmful effects of growing up with a depressed parent
appear to linger well into adulthood. A 20-year study following the
children of depressed parents and a comparison sample of kids whose
parents had no mental disorders found that those with depressed
parents suffered about triple the rate of anxiety disorders and
depression by their 30s, were in poorer health than peers and much
more likely to be dependent on drugs and alcohol. The study, believed
to be the longest ever done on kids of depressed parents, was
published in the American Journal of Psychiatry in 2006.

These effects may not only be long-lasting but also
far-reaching. Serious depression affects about one in five American
parents, and 15.6 million children live with an adult who has had
major depression in the last year, according to government data.

They go a little into theory:

About one in 11 infants has a mother with major depression, according to a research update report last December by Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child. Healthy emotional and brain development depends on a “serve and return” interaction, just like a tennis game. Tots engage parents’ attention, prompting parents to respond with words or facial expressions, which stimulate more infant communication.

If caregivers are withdrawn or hostile, this shuts down the
game and may even alter the architecture of the child’s brain.

Of course long before brain scans gave us terms like “brain architecture” psychoanalysts were onto this stuff by simply listening to their clients.  Too bad we needed brain scans to confirm that a non-responsive mother (or father) can especially, in the earliest phases of development, do great damage to the psyche of the infant. That the infant needs to experience itself in a relatively safe environment (Winnicott: good enough mothering) ought to be obvious.

I don’t think I felt all that safe since my mother thought–and I quote–that I am “the devil’s spawn.”


The Agony of Computer Meltdown

Last Thursday, I guess it was, my Old Dell, 5 going on 6 years old, went belly up. I sat down Thursday morning thinking I might resusitate it. I have a couple of fix it utilities. I thought I would run those again and I had already done a complete file check that took forever. But I was stimulated to this move by having seen recently and for the first time on my computer a blue and scary looking blue screen that said something about BIOS and if I couldn’t get it to work to contact my tech support.

Having no tech support, I am it.

So I started trying to clean up and found after a bit the thing crashing and all I could work in was the SAFE MODE, and then, lord knows what happened, the whole computer just went dead. Blank screen, nothing coming up. Just that little cursor up in the left hand corner blinking over and over.

I felt like a spike was being driven through the top of my head. All my stuff gone…for the time being; and student papers were due to roll in and what if I couldn’t relocate my grade sheets. Would I just have to make up the grades? That would be a first.

But I am prudent. I must have sensed the computer was on its last legs about 8 months ago because I signed onto a service called Carbonite that automatically backed up my documents online. So I went to the laptop I recently bought because my other one died, and went online and started the download. But damn it seemed to be taking forever and I wasn’t sure it was working. This went on through the night and into the next day. Finally I contacted support through their chat function and got Natalie. We had the following conversation:

Session Started with Agent (Natalie)

System: “Hello and thank you for using Customer Support Live Chat! How may I assist you today?”

Agent (Natalie): “Hello Nick.”

Nick Tingle: “Hello..I am trying to restore files to a new computer, about 8 gigs, some images and I was wondering how long it might take to downloadd this datea”

Agent (Natalie): “Recovering small amounts of data (a few files here or there) will probably take only seconds or minutes. Restoring all of your data will take longer and depends on how much data you have and the speed of your Internet connection. Most internet service prov
iders will allow you to download about 600-800 MB per hour, or roughly 14-18GB per day. For an average user, complete data restoration is likely to take at most a day or two.

Nick Tingle: “ok That helps it has been taking a while and I was worried about the slowness…I have cable”

Agent (Natalie): “Please allow me a moment while I review your account.”

Nick Tingle: “Thank you. I would appreciate yoour checking to see if I have messed up somehow….”

Agent (Natalie): “Please provide me the email address which you used to register with Carbonite, as I am not able to locate your account using this email address.”

Nick Tingle: “”

Agent (Natalie): “Thank you, Nick.”

Nick Tingle: “May I say you write very clearly and directly and also punctuate accurately. I am a university writing teacher and notice these things. I am screwing up with my sentences”

Agent (Natalie): “Your restore is progressing normally.”

Nick Tingle: “Hey…thank you…and may I ask have you been to college?”

Agent (Natalie): “You are most welcome. Yes, I did.”

Nick Tingle: “Well, I hope you get the career you want. Jobs are had to get these days. Good luck and thanks”

Agent (Natalie): “Nick, thank you for saying that. It was a pleasure assisting you. Thank you for taking the time to chat with us today. If you need further
assistance, please chat with us again at

As you will note, I couldn’t help being a writing teacher, commenting, as I did, on Natalie’s command of punctuation. I have not received a transcript like this before; I wonder if it was generated by voice recognition. If so I must look into voice recognition.

Not to destroy the suspense, but finally I did download most of my files to the lap top.

More later on the computer meltdown.


Slough Update

We have had  more than our annual rainfall here in the Goleta, SB area by a good bit.  So we trucked out through the mud to see how the slough was doing.

Saw some egrets on the way:

egrets1.JPGegrets2.JPGThe slough was really full:
lagoon10b.JPGUCSB is trying to restore the indigenous floral; those little markers mark the indigenous stuff.

We almost stepped in a vernal pool:
vernalpool.JPGRight in the middle of a field.