Moving on from Composition Forum

When I wrote about my sabbatical leave, I mentioned setting some things aside to focus my research. That continues. Since my transfer research project continues to take up as much time as I can devote to it, I’ve decided to step down as website editor of Composition Forum. I’ve maintained the web site since Spring 2005, when the journal moved from print to online format. We’ve posted a position announcement and plan for a Summer 2012 transition. I’ll work with the incoming editor or editors to complete CF26 (a special issue on transfer guest-edited by Elizabeth Wardle), then step aside.

I’ve done some interesting things with CF, I think, and I’m proud of the journal’s high accessibility and quality of markup. Yeah, there are some irregularities, if you compare the first and last issues I created, but things are very stable overall, and articles load fast and print well.

Here’s a list of the things I did in my seven years with the journal:

  • Moved the journal from servers at a university to its own domain, publishing redirects for existing articles and building a lightweight content management system for delivering content
  • Built an index in Delicious, providing an easy way to move between subject areas or to see all of a particular type of article in the journal
  • Established standards for metadata, ensuring that articles and profiles have abstracts and keywords
  • Installed OJS and helped Michelle Ballif learn to use it to smooth editorial workflow for articles

What would I like to see incoming editor(s) do?

  • Keep my commitment to high-quality, lightweight, accessible markup.
  • Finish the conversion to OJS, importing existing issues into that system.
  • Add online issues not in our Delicious index (and consider moving away from Delicious to a different platform for indexing).
  • Tackle some of the big projects I started but did not finish—establishing a way to forward link citations between Composition Forum and other journals.

At CCCC this past week, I met with the CF editorial staff and made plans for transition. Just a matter of finding a replacement, getting them started, and handing over the keys.

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Winter brewing

If you can call it winter. It’s been pretty darn mild here lately. Now that the worst of my Achilles injury is behind me (I hope!) Chris and I have started brewing in earnest. We’re looking forward to winter 2012 with a lot of these beers, though a few will be ready before then:

  1. Pale Ale: our standard recipe, using Alexander’s extract, fairly hoppy but balanced with some malty goodness. Your garden variety pale ale.
  2. Hopslam style IPA: I goofed and put a little too much water in this, so it won’t be as strong as Bells’s original, and maybe a little more bitter. But it will clock in at almost 8%, so it’s not a session beer by any means. Three pounds of Chris’s honey, a large amount of hops in the boil (70 IBUs), and we’re gonna dry hop it too.
  3. Porter: the third beer made on a Safale US05 culture. Erin and Gloria love porter, so this is made with them in mind. It’ll be an everyday beer with light to moderate bitterness and nice malty goodness (including some chocolate malt).
  4. Saison: Jeff Moore shared a culture of WLP 566, so we’re going to take another shot at a saison. Hopefully this time it’ll actually be light, not dark. Last year’s effort was made with extract given to us; we realized later it was past its prime. Now, we have some new pilsener malt extract, so we’ll see.
  5. Barley wine: we got a cube of Briess golden light DME (33 lb) from Somethings Brewing. That’s going in about 12 gallons of water–as much as my boil pot can handle–for a barley wine at 1.100 OG. Add in six ounces of the bittering hops I just bought (see below), and we’ll be around 80 IBUs. Yeehaw. We’ll probably start with the Safale US05 and finish with a Champagne yeast.
  6. Belgian strong ale: not sure if we’re going to use the 566 for this, or look for a different yeast, and/or which particular style it’ll be. But we’ve got a cube of Briess pilsener malt ready to go.

That’s enough for now. Perhaps mead and a winter warmer in the future… we’ll see how these go first.

To support this and future brewing, I placed a big fat Freshops order:

  • 1/2 lb Amarillo
  • 2 lb Cascade
  • 2 lb Chinook
  • 1 lb Citra
  • 1/2 lb Fuggle
  • 1/2 lb Mt Hood

And, Sean West saw my post about the hops on Facebook, and pointed me to Nikobrew, who had Simcoe pellets in today. Nice! I still remember the Mikkeller Simcoe Single-hop I had last year. Yum!

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Down and up in 2011

This comes late, but anyway. I’ve offered years in review in the past. 2011 certainly was an up and down year for me and the girls.

  • In January, we traveled to Florida to visit my paternal grandfather, my last surviving grandparent. Two weeks later, he died at age 88.
  • Got our biggest snowfall in Macomb yet–14+ inches on Feb 1. Snow fort time!
  • I enjoyed a fantastic Computers & Writing conference in Ann Arbor, with a great blogging panelFrom A to <A> getting the Computers & Composition book award, and time well spent with good friends.
  • With Neil Baird, I began a writing transfer research project which is helping me to kick-start my research into ease. In May, we got approval for our IRB protocol and a $7,800 internal grant; since that time we’ve build a strong set of case study data to work from, with 10 participants sharing their transition to writing in the major with us this this fall.
  • Erin and I decided to road trip in summer 2011, covering 2,000+ miles on a three week trip which began meeting my brother in Arkansas, then heading west to New Mexico and Colorado. Chama, Ouray, Denver, Gunnison, and points between.
  • As part of my sabbatical retooling, in August I traveled to Hanover, NH for the Dartmouth Seminar in Composition Research. Being away from the girls for two weeks was very hard, but the seminar very much worth it.
  • Madelyn started school, in Mrs. Bear’s kindergarten at Lincoln Elementary.
  • On September 12, we said good-bye to The Big Kitty, returning to a pet-less house for the first time since 1994.
  • Some family issues I don’t wish to share caused us some serious aggravation.
  • Obviously, the low point of the year was rupturing my Achilles tendon playing football. To be specific, the bottom came about a month after that, when I ran out of good cheer and struggled to cope. But now that I’m a month into physical therapy, hopefully the worst is behind me.

Here’s hoping for less not-so-great stuff in 2012.

Posted in Achilles, Family, Research, Running, Travel | 1 Comment

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Pin the felony

For your Super Bowl party, here’s a bit of pure genius from a student, Julie Paxton. One of the joys of working with “non-traditional” students! Don’t expect to hear much about this during the broadcast today…

Pin the Felony on the Football Player!

  1. Which NFL player was convicted for running a dogfighting operation in 2007?
  2. Baltimore Ravens players Ray Lewis, Reginald Oakley and Joseph Sweeting were indicted on charges of murder and aggravated assault following the stabbing deaths of Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar at a post-Super Bowl XXXIV party in Atlanta. Oakley and Sweeting were acquitted. Lewis was the only one to be sentenced. What misdemeanor did he plead guilty to?
  3. Johnny Jolly was indefinitely suspended from the NFL Green Bay Packers in July 2010. What was his crime?
  4. What was Bears player Tank Johnson was arrested for, at his home in Chicago in 2006?
  5. Who is the Minnesota Viking cornerback currently contesting two charges, including domestic assault by strangulation and third-degree assault for attacking his girlfriend in October 2011?
  6. In 2004, Jamal Lewis was indicted for a deal he made in summer 2000. What was he indicted for?
  7. In October 1998, Rams player Leonard Little drank and drove his SUV into Susan Gutweiler’s car, resulting in her death. What felony did he plead guilty to?
  8. This Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver was recently convicted for trafficking marijuana, which carries a sentence of one to four years in prison?
  9. Former NFL player and coach Corwin Brown awaits trial on three separate counts for a singular incident. What was the incident?
  10. What former Detroit Lions running back is serving time at Lovelock Correctional Center for kidnapping, robbery, coercion and conspiracy?

Tiebreaker: According to CBS, what percentage of NFL players have been charged with at least one serious crime, including two murder arrests, seven rape charges, 45 counts of domestic violence and 42 charges of assault and battery?

Answers after the jump. Continue reading

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Go on PT

Great news about my Achilles from my doctor today. My tendon repair feels strong and my range of motion is good. That means I got the set of green lights I’ve been awaiting:

  • I can start physical therapy. I’ll be contacting them tomorrow (barring expected mini-snowpocalypse) to learn what’s involved.
  • I’m ready to start weaning myself from the boot, and putting weight on my left leg more consistently. I began that process before I left Dr. White’s office, by adjusting the angle of my boot from -22° to 0° so I can more easily stand–my toes don’t need to be pointed down any more. No more need to wear the boot at night, either.
  • When I swim, I can kick and use a belt to do water jogging.
  • I got the OK to drive, but it won’t work until the boot is gone–both our cars are stick-shift, and I can’t press the clutch hard enough yet. (I tried tonight. Couldn’t start either one with my left foot.)

As you might imagine, this is all fantastic news to me. I’m eager to get started with PT and closer to leaving my crutches behind. But slow and careful is still the MO. For example, next time I swim, after warmup, I’ll try easy kicking every other lap. I’m going to double-wrap my repaired leg for bed. And I’m not planning to walk in X weeks; I’ll let my physical therapist help me develop a schedule for that–if that’s even possible. I thought about trying some crutch-assisted walking tonight, but chickened out. No matter. All in good time.

For the record, it’s been 87 days since this all started.

Posted in Achilles | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Time Machine encryption

With OS 10.7 (Lion), Time Machine now supports encrypted backups. Good; I’ve wanted this feature for a long time, and the workarounds to achieve it were not pretty and potentially unreliable. Now? Check the box and pick a password. Done. Starting disk 1 of 2 now.

Time Machine Backup

This is gonna take a while…

Posted in Nerdliness, Whatever | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fetterman crutch tips

Just before Christmas I ordered a set of Tornado Solid Body Rain Crutch Tips from Thomas Fetterman. They came in the mail today. Holy moley, I wish I’d known about these weeks ago. They are slightly larger than standard tips, with a thick, flexible, scored bottom. The tips flex as the crutches rotate, keeping a LOT more surface area on the floor at any time. Hopefully that and the anti-slip surface will result in fewer falls and slipping  (a problem for me since this whole mess started). With these tips, my crutches feel much more secure.

And though it sure doesn’t look like winter outside, I also ordered up a set of the ice grips which go with the Tornado tips. Again, well designed; they slip over the tips, then are easily pulled down into place when needed.

Crutch tips & ice grips

Anybody who is gonna be on crutches longer than a week should check out what Fetterman has to offer–much better than standard issue!

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Exercise index 2011

Last year I hoped 2011 would be injury free, and that I’d start running longer distances again as part of actually doing triathlons. Obviously, that didn’t happen, between my plica injury (caused by whacking my knee during a home repair project) and my ruptured Achilles. Regardless:

76 runs, 316 mi
68 bikes, 705 mi
21 swims, 18.6 mi

Total 165 workouts, 1,040 miles. That’s 66 fewer workouts and 685 miles less than last year–closer to my 2008 numbers.

Two goals for this year:

  1. Rehab my Achilles. My next appointment with Dr. White is January 11, and we’ll find out what our next steps are. Right now, I’m working on flexibility, carefully stretching my repaired tendon, as well as my foot, ankle, and toes, and keeping up massage to avoid a repeat of last week’s cramp.
  2. Build my upper body and core strength. With pushups and swimming, I’m already working on that, and it’s easy to see the difference in my arms, back, shoulders, and chest. That’s part of a larger goal, necessary for rehab, of better strength and flexibility overall.
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Achilles update: cramp then swim

Things have been going pretty well since I got my boot. I thought I’d be in the pool the next day, but it took a long time to get used to the idea of having my injured leg unprotected. At home, I’ve been taking the off to stretch and move my ankle, with copious warnings to the girls to keep away when my boot is off. And things are returning to working order slowly. The first week my foot was tingly and numb enough that I called Drake White to see if that was normal (it is). Swelling is slowly diminishing, as the natural shape of my foot returns and I’m able to move it more on my own. I’m still not walking–crutch use continues and will for a while–but I can bear some weight on my repaired leg, which makes balancing easier, and I’m doing stretching work daily to get some of my range of motion back.

My only major setback came early Sunday morning 12/18. About three am I woke to a full-on cramp in my calf. Agony. Obviously, I couldn’t straighten my leg to release the cramp. I tried massage, and that helped, but it still hurt like hell. The pain was so bad I was shaking. I was too wobbly to use my crutches, so I crawled to the bathroom for some hydrocodone and a hot washcloth. I went back to bed, stretched my calf as much as possible, and decided I’d call 911 if things didn’t get better in ten minutes. I guess I passed out. Next thing I knew my alarm was going off reminding me to submit final grades. (More on that later.) I was still in pain but it was tolerable as long as I wasn’t standing. Upright, even with my leg bent at the knee, the pain was intense. I was worried something bad had happened. Another pop? No, no, no, I hoped not.

So I stayed in bed and tried to keep calm. I called my doctor the minute his office opened. The receptionist put me on hold immediately and got Stephanie, his nurse, who ran through a bunch of questions and assured me it didn’t sound serious: Dr. White was in surgery but would get back to me soon. About noon, his nurse called and said White thought I was just having a spasm because of muscle atrophy. She called in a prescription for Valium (“We aren’t going to fool around with Flexeril,” Stephanie joked) and Jason Covert kindly delivered it to me. Immediate help. The next morning, I saw Dr. White and I was relieved to learn everything was okay. In fact, he suggested I could be more aggressive about stretching than I had been. He got down on the floor with me and showed me some ways to work my achilles safely.

The next few days, the pain wasn’t as bad, but I still had a tough time. I fell a lot. I was no help around the house. But I kept up the hot baths and massages, and figured out how to wrap a heat pad around my leg for nighttime. Things slowly got better.

Friday 12/23, Erin took the girls to the Y to swim with Amelia while Madelyn had a lesson. I eagerly joined them. I had to crawl from the locker room to the pool, but I didn’t care. And it took a while for me to feel confident about moving around without my leg unprotected. Thankfully, the pool was nearly empty. I chose a lane close to the lifeguard (just in case). Joan, Madelyn’s teacher, suggested using a buoyancy belt in addition to a pull buoy. I swam two or three laps at an easy pace and stopped to check my leg and make sure things were okay. In the next lane, Erin and Amelia were smiling at me and saying “Go, Daddy, Go.” I was smiling and weeping too. How good it felt to exercise. How much I had missed it.

I swam about 45 minutes Friday, Saturday, and today, and I hope to do the same every day for the foreseeable future. My parents are here now for Christmas, which is helping with the logistics. After nine-plus weeks with no cardio, I’m sore in a few places. I’ll take it.

Posted in Achilles, Running | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments