Thursday, June 20, 2013


Atrophy--the word that has been on my mind all too often as of late. It sits back there like the incessant buzz of a fly over my head while I'm trying to take a nap. Alright, enough of the lame similes, but in all honesty atrophy has been on my mind a lot lately, not so much the word as much as the concept.

As of this post I have been in an intellectual limbo for a little more than a year now. At least that's how I feel. After graduating from BYU in April 2012, I found myself slipping into a dangerous level of cognitive inactivity brought on by the lack of interesting classes to take or a job that challenged me to think creatively and solve problems. This was the very reason I went back to school in the first place. I didn't want to get stuck in a job that didn't require me to think, or worse, a job that didn't challenge me at all. This idea of atrophy has weighed more and more heavily on my mind and my spirit as time has gone by, so I decided to try to do something about it.

Perhaps cognitive inactivity is small exaggeration. I still read. I still follow politics and news and think about the problems we face in this modern world. I still try to inform myself. But there is a serious lack of a forum for me to express my thoughts or a reason to wrestle with a concept or problem and really wrap my mind around it. Once, for a few months I felt this as I did a long-term substitute assignment earlier this year where I was effectively the teacher because let's face it, most substitute jobs consist of watching the same videos (educational or otherwise) ad nauseam or sitting students down to do packets. Not the most challenging job. Those two or three months as a long-term sub were nice, but now I feel an itch, a pulling toward rediscovering habits of writing and learning that I have been too lazy or to distracted to continue.

My proposal, a promise to myself more than anything, is this. Write. If I can't write daily, at least 5 days a week should be enough. Read. Read more actively. In other words do more than just read. Ask questions, find answers, analyze, interpret. All that stuff I was doing in college. Learn. Take on new topics that I am curious about and teach myself, and share on this blog the things that I am learning and the path I take to do it.

Hopefully this works for me. My first project for myself is the study up on Nietzsche.  I've learned a little about his philosophies but I'm curious to know more. Additionally I've got several books lined up that I plan on reading and sharing excerpts and impressions as I go along.

To find these different posts, look at the tabs at the top of the page. On the Home page I will post regular topics and daily information and any miscellaneous posts that don't fit in the other tabs.

What I hope to gain from this: Strengthen lifelong learning habits, clarity in thinking and analyzing, greater ease in expression, and form a daily writing habit.

Please, if you would like to comment or question or answer anything that I write on this blog, you are more than welcome to do so. I appreciate insight and different points of view.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


For my senior capstone class I am taking Frankenstein in Literature and Film.  It's been a good class so far.  Yesterday we screened James Whale's 1931 movie Frankenstein and received the assignment to write an analysis of one frame and on sequence from the movie.  I've decided to share a little of my writings for this class on my blog and to use this as a place to maybe think out loud about the class as we look at the many variations of Mary Shelley's famous monster. So, as introduction I think I'll share what I wrote about a frame from the opening scene of the movie.

The frame I chose is near the beginning of the movie when Frankenstein and his assistant Fritz are digging a recently interred body from the ground. This frame is an extreme long shot which takes in several grave markers, the dark sky, the grave robbers, and the skeletal statue in the back right of the shot. As Dr. Frankenstein and Fritz are bent over digging up the earth, the skeleton, dressed in dark robes and resting his hands on the pommel of an unsheathed sword looms over the men, a silent witness to the desecration of the grave and death itself.
The mis-en-scene in this frame does much to set the tone and expectations for the rest of the movie. The prominent feature in this shot is the skeleton watching over the cemetery as Death himself watches over the dead. Even the grave markers seem to lean towards the statue of Death drawing the eye to him. It leaves no question that Death is the one who rules in the cemetery, protecting either the dead from the living or the living from the dead with his terrible sword. Thus, with their minds on Death, the audience sees and feels the wrongness of the desecration of the grave done by Frankenstein and Fritz  Here we have men stealing a body out from under Death's nose, an analogy for the work Dr. Frankenstein intends to do.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Neil Gaiman: blogging, tweeting, possible projects and his writing process

Ok, so I'm on a bit of a Neil Gaiman kick right now.  I'm enjoying his writing and love how involved he can get online with fans.  The other day he did an interview as part of a tour celebrating and promoting the 10th anniversary of American Gods. This interview is great because he talks about how he uses the internet to promote and connect with fans and how it influences his writing.

Watch live streaming video from neilgaiman at

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Learning Outcomes

How fast time has gone by. I almost can't believe that the semester is over, but let me tell you that I am ready for a break.  Next semester is my last semester of classes at BYU and in the winter I'll be doing my student teaching.  I think that this class has been a great preparation for using tech when I'm teaching, and I've learned a lot about writing and research.  So, as the semester ends, it's time to look at the learning objectives and see how I did.  Our learning objectives were centered around three important aspects of writing in the digital age.
1. Consume.  2. Create.   3. Connect. 

Consume:  I've learned how to use the internet in conjuction with traditional libraries and databases to find what others are saying about the work I am studying.  During the semester I've searched for information with Google, Twitter, Goodreads forums, fansites, and Diigo bookmarks just to name a few sources.  The value to this is that we can filter our information by finding people who are invested in our research and have already done some of the work on their own. They can be great sources for finding information about a topic of research.  This enhances the research we can do in the library with its databases of scholarly journals.

Create:  I've learned that creating can be part of the process of discovery, but it also gives our research a valid outlet.  Authentic projects have been the name of the game, and that is what we have done with our eBook. I've created content with my blogging and with my Diigo account that has helped me and could also be of use to other people who are trying to learn more about Douglas Adams or making eBooks or even using digital tools and media.  By creating we add our part to a massive conversation and exchange of knowledge that is the nature of both the internet and scholarly writing.  I didn't only consume information about my book either.  I spent hours consuming information and learning about InDesign in preparation for the eBook we would be making.  Blogs and youtube videos and social bookmarks were a great help with finding and consuming that information.

Connect:  I've connected with many people this semester.  First, I've never worked more closely nor been more involved with my classmates work as I have this semester.  It has been great to see their blogs and learn about Borges or Comics or pig farming as the semester has gone by.  Also, the level of collaboration that has taken place has had me emailing, chatting and pestering almost every one of my fellow students in the course as we tried to get this eBook done. It has been a great experience and I have learned a lot.  Connecting with others?  Well, as a class we have been connecting with others to share our work with them.  I had several friends on facebook tell me they were interested in the book we've written and I also sent out a recommendation to some of my friends on Goodreads. Hopefully they will read it and love it and share it with others who are interested.  This is the point of connecting.  This is the way that all of our research and writing and hard work pays off in the end.  Someone will find it useful and share it with others who will also find value in it. It's so exciting.

I think that I've done pretty well this semester.  I've worked hard at getting my writing done and writing often.  I did a lot of research and learned more than just writing skills.  I think that the things I've taken from this class with be assets in my future career.

Our eBook has arrived

Writing about Literature in the Digital Age is now online and available for download.  I wont lie, it has been a pretty stressful and at times frustrating experience, but it has been one that I will always remember with a smile.  My assignment for our eBook was to write a chapter (like everybody else) and to work on the Design Team with Ben Wagner and Annie Ostler to get our book put together in an organized eBook, preferably in the ePUB, MOBI and PDF formats.  These formats, it was decided, would make our eBook available to the most people without requiring us to make too many different versions. Sounds exciting right?  It was, but oh was it hard to do.

We decided to use Adobe's InDesign CS5 to compile and format our eBook into the ePUB and PDF formats.  From the ePUB we converted to a MOBI format for Kindle and I have to say all three formats came out quite nice.  Several different versions of our free eBook can be downloaded here.  Also, if you are on Goodreads, you can download the book here. If you like it, please remember to give us a good rating.

So, what goes in to making  an eBook with InDesign?  It's not as simple as you think.  I'll talk a little about our process.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Works Cited page

I decided to get a jump on the work cited page, although we still haven't finished all of the regular chapters.  I put this together based on what sources where in your final drafts.  We are still waiting on a few chapters to be approved and sent back to the editing team.  Other than that, the work cited on one or two chapters didn't have enough information to cite the pic used.  If this is the case I sent you an email asking for more.  I appreciate comments and collaborations.  The work cited isn't set it stone, and if you can give it an edit, Nyssa, and help make it more uniform I would appreciate it.. 
Take a look at the work cited list for our eBook here.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

URGENT: read and respond ASAP

The design team will be working hard this weekend to try to have the eBook ready to launch on Monday by class time.  Right now we are working and designing each individual chapter for the eBook.  I believe that we have gotten past the few minor problems we were having and everything is looking good.

Now, the reason for the post is to show you all the Table of Contents I am making.  This is the annotated Table of Contents that will be at the beginning of the eBook.  It will look like this barring any changes, but the section and chapter names will have internal links to its proper place in the book.  I had to take liberties with a few thesis statements, especially if you didn't provide the "tweethis," so look this over and find your annotation.  If you don't like it or want to change it I need to know.  Just make a comment on this post and include the changes or new thesis you would like me to put in the final version.  Any other input is also appreciated.  Thanks for taking the time to look at this.

Download the PDF here