Saturday, November 17, 2012

Have an inkling who the Inklings were? Then come hear Dan Hamilton!

A talk by  
Dan Hamilton

Sunday, November 25, 2012, at 5 p.m. 
Congregation Ohr Chadash
3190 Gulf-to-Bay Blvd., Clearwater

Congregation Ohr Chadash, a Messianic Jewish synagogue, is located at 3190 Gulf-to-Bay Blvd., just east of the Bayside Bridge (connecting 49th St. and McMullen Booth Rd.) and on the corner of Gulf-to-Bay Blvd. and Bayshore Blvd. (Gulf-to-Bay is the extension of the Courtney Campbell Causeway and is State Rt. 60.)  Mr. Hamilton will bring along a number of books he has written to sign and sell. Coffee and dessert will follow the talk. There will be no charge for the lecture, but participants will be invited to make a donation instead. 

C.S. Lewis * George MacDonald * G.K. Chesterton
Dorothy Sayers
J.R.R. Tolkien * Charles Williams * Owen Barfield

These seven writers, whose "baptized imaginations," as C.S. Lewis termed his own experience, produced some remarkable writings and influenced countless other writers, artists, and thinkers. They often are treated as a cohesive group, though the connections may be elusive. Who are these people? What did they write? Why are they important? Which of their books should we read? Some of these writers were part of the literary discussion group known as the Inklings. Others came before, and their earlier writings nurtured their literary progeny.

Seven Sages presents an overview of the lives and works of these writers, pointing out their common ground and differences, identifying their connections, and providing recommended reading.

Dan Hamilton is an engineer, technical consultant, teacher, tutor, and writer with a lifelong interest in the works of C. S. Lewis, the Inklings, and other associated authors.

Dan has edited numerous George MacDonald novels, written a fantasy trilogy (Tales of the Forgotten God), and co-authored two books with his wife: Should I Home School? and Look Both Ways. Dan and Dr. Ed Brown wrote In Pursuit of C. S. Lewis, which tells the fabulous story behind the magnificent Lewis collection that now resides at Taylor University in Indiana.

Dan and his wife, Elizabeth, helped buy, rescue, and preserve The Kilns, C. S. Lewis’ home from 1930 on, where he wrote the Narnia series and many of his other books. Dan co-founded the C. S. Lewis and Friends Society at Taylor University and the Central Indiana C. S. Lewis Society in Indianapolis.

The Kilns @ 1997. Photo taken by jschroe from Kailua-Kona,
Hawaii, USA, and uploaded to Wikipedia:
Dan is finishing The Inn at the End of the World, a volume of short fantasy stories intended as a companion to Tales of the Forgotten God.

Tales of the Forgotten God:
    The Beggar King
    The Chameleon Lady
    The Everlasting Child

Should I Home School?

Look Both Ways

In Pursuit of C. S. Lewis

George MacDonald Novels 

The Parish Papers:
      A Quiet Neighborhood
      The Seaboard Parish
      The Vicar's Daughter
The Last Castle
The Prodigal Apprentice
On Tangled Paths
The Elect Lady
Home Again
The Boyhood of Ranald Bannerman
The Genius of Willie MacMichael
The Wanderings of Clare

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Can I Just Say...

Does my sweetie know me, or what?

Plus a matching card!

This post is a couple of months overdue ... so I'm craving another licorice fix.

Maybe he'll see this and take the hint?


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Part Two: A Sherd is a Shard is a ... Huh?

Something to ponder when you're on the pot ... or on pot ... or contemplating going to pot. :-)

Wanna know what the primary meaning of shard (preferred spelling) or sherd (secondary spelling) is, according to the Oxford English Dictionary?

Hint: It has nothing to to do with broken pottery.

 I. A cleft, gap.

 1. A gap in an enclosure, esp. in a hedge or bank. Now chiefly dial.

The OED gives examples from literature going back to 1000 A.D.

Wanna know what the second meaning of shard is, according to the OED?

Hint 2: Still has nothing to do with broken pottery.

2. Used by Spenser for: ? A dividing water.

[Yr.] 1590   Spenser Faerie Queene ii. vi. sig. R7,   Vpon that shore he spyed Atin stand, Thereby his maister left, when late he far'd In Phædrias flitt barck ouer that perlous shard.

Wanna know what the third meaning of shard is, according to the OED?

Hint 3: Still has nothing to do with pottery.

3. A gap or notch in the blade of a tool. dial.

Finally, we come to the fourth meaning of shard, according to the OED:


 a. A fragment of broken earthenware. spec. in Archaeol., a piece of broken pottery. Phrase: to break, etc. into sherds : to reduce to fragments, break beyond repair. Cf. potsherd n. and adj.   and Old English crocsceard. Sherd is now established as the normal Archaeol. spelling.

So ... according to all of this, wouldn't the actual meaning of shard seem to be the gap or the hole left in the pot when it breaks apart? 

How did we come to assign to a fragment, the absence of which causes a shard, the term for the absence? 

Isn't that a bit like calling a doorway the door? 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Sherd By Any Other Name?

SpellCheck agrees with me. But what do we know?

Shard. S-h-a-r-d.

A piece of broken pottery or glass; a fragment.

But now I see it spelled sherd. S-h-e-r-d.

SpellCheck underlines it in red, and to me it has the not-quite-right look of a word with an errant letter.

My style books are no help. The APA (American Psychological Association) style guide, which I use to write most of my education papers, doesn't list the word. MLA (Modern Language Association), in which I write my literary papers), doesn't seem to address the word. The formidable Chicago Style Manual, which I use to write history papers and travel guides, doesn't list it.

Even my AP (Associated Press) Style Book, which I use for newspaper writing and which has explanatory listings for when to use shake up (v.) or shakeup (n., adj.) and calls for a hyphen in mo-ped, contrary to Webster's New World College dictionary, is silent on the spelling of shard/sherd.

Google to the rescue in the form of the National Geographic Style Manual! The listing says to use sherd when writing in the archaeological sense of potsherds or sherds of pottery; use shard for all other senses.

So ... if I break a flower pot I bought at Wal-Mart yesterday, I pick up the shards. If I find a broken flower pot in what a century ago was a dump site, I excavate the sherds.

Love it.

Friday, February 17, 2012

"Good" Teaching ... Not Always What it Appears

My masochistic tendencies, as my millions of faithful followers are aware, have taken me deep into the bowels of academia once again.

This time I'm in a Ph.D. program at the University of South Florida in Tampa -- in the College of Education, no less. Ostensibly, I am studying children's literature in a program called Childhood Education & Literacy Studies. The path to literary paradise, however, is paved with courses in philosophy and policy and statistics -- lots and lots of statistics.

Once a week, I place my brain on the rack, pin it to a matrix of rows and columns of data, and turn the inferential crank until it is stretched one cog past snapping. Then I gather up the pieces, repack my cranium, and spend the week mending the grey matter.

This past week in stats class, we dissected an article called "The Influence of Gender on University Faculty Members' Perceptions of 'Good' Teaching," published in a 1993 issue of the Journal of Higher Education. The authors list some "generally accepted characteristics of "good" teachers and teaching situations: enthusiasm, knowledge of the subject area, stimulation of interest in the subject area, organization, clarity, concern and caring for students, use of higher cognitive levels in discussions and examinations, use of visual aids, encouragement of active learning and student discussion, provision of feedback, and avoidance of harsh criticism" (p.166).

My purpose here is not to review the methods used in this study. We could discuss such matters as the difference between good teaching and good learning and how one can measure teaching. How many years down the road when the "aha!" moment happens does it still count as good teaching? What about the cumulative effect of one teacher building on previous teachers' work? Was a MANOVA appropriately applied and were all post hoc tests completed?

We could -- but we won't.

My purpose here is to focus on the last item: avoidance of harsh criticism.

Speaking only for myself, some of the times I have grown the most deeply are the times I have received the harshest criticism.

In fifth grade, for instance, we were assigned to cut out and bring in a newspaper article. I hacked one out of the paper and turned it in, and my teacher held it up and commented -- in front of the class -- that most people learned to cut things out in kindergarten.


But she was right. Meekly, I took my clipping back and trimmed it neatly.

I have seldom merely hacked anything out since then. Sometimes I spend too much time on projects, searching for just one more reference, because I still hear her reprimand.

What if she had not made that comment? Would I have just been content merely to hack out an existence and get by?

Or is she the reason these masochistic tendencies kick in every now and then and I submit myself to being stretched beyond what I think I can -- or need to -- endure?

Bless you, Miss Robb, wherever you are.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Wastin' away again . . .

One morning, late last fall, the toilet in our little bathroom--the one just off of our bedroom--started gurgling.

It wasn't the first time I'd heard the toilet gurgle recently.

A few days before there had been a little ba-lurp. Nothing more. Nothing to worry about, right?

This particular morning, when the toilet started gurgling, it was still dark out. Half asleep after a late night plugging away on some writing assignment or another, I burrowed further under the covers and listened to Lee showering in the other bathroom and to the toilet ba-la-lurping nearby.

But then the ba-la-lurp became a gurgle and the gurgle sounded suspiciously like it was growing into a gu-g-gurgl-gurgle, expanding to fill the bowl and--

Suddenly awake, I threw off the blankets, dashed to the other bathroom, stuck my head in the door, and yelled into the steam, "The toilet in the other bathroom is overflowing!"

I grabbed some rags from the closet, dashed back to the little bathroom, and began to try to staunch the fountain bubbling forth from the blue porcelain bowl. Thankfully, we were able to contain the overflow to the bathroom itself with no other damage to carpet or walls.

We called out the honey truck and had them suck out the septic tank, thinking that after almost ten years with no problems it was about time for it to be cleaned out.

Yes, you read that right--septic tank.

Actually, tanks. As in two. One for the old house; one for the new house. It's complicated.

I know. Who in this day and age still has a septic tank? You'd be surprised. And, having written about waste treatment systems, I can tell you how septic systems can inhibit the economic growth of an area, how into the 1940s the government was encouraging people to  modernize and install septic systems (!),  and what concerns public officials the most about our out-of-sight, out-of-mind waste water systems, a vital part of our infrastructure.

In any case, Lee dug down to the top of the tank, removed the cap, and let the honey truck do its work.

End of story.

We thought.

In the meantime, he decided to try his hand at growing herbs and veggies, so he built several one-foot square garden boxes and planted basil, oregano, carrots, cabbages, and more. For Christmas, he put down a block pathway from one side of the house to the other.



About a month ago, I heard the old familiar song playing in the potty. Just a note or two. But then I took some laundry to the garage and discovered the utility sink half full of shower water and a bit of overflow on the garage floor.

Turns out the drainfield was no longer draining and it would cost as much to run a new one as to tie into the city's sewer system -- the one that had been installed, oh maybe twenty years ago and was running right behind our house. The previous owner hadn't wanted to be beholden to the city -- he was / we were independent county folk -- and so hadn't taken advantage of being grandfathered into the system without having to annex in to the city...even though the city has collected sewer fees from this address for all these years.

We, however, had no choice.

So we filed the annexation paperwork, got an emergency permit to do the tie-in, and called out the plumber.

And Lee took a couple of vacation days to dig up part of the walkway and all of the patio he had just put down -- thankfully bypassing the gardens. He dug trenches from both sides of the house and out to the clean-out cap marked by the city crew.

The plumber, one we've worked with for years, was impressed with the quality of the trenches -- all he had to do was drop in the pipe -- and we saved a good chunk of change on the job.

But wait! That's not all folks!

The septic tanks then had to be broken so rainwater would drain through, the concrete lids had to be dropped into the tanks, and the tanks had to be filled-compacted-filled. The health department had to inspect them after breaking and dropping and before filling.

Out came the sledgehammer and the ram bar. 

The trenches had to be filled and compacted. The grandkids helped with that. The gizmo to the left is a power compacter that jiggled and shook the ground -- and our whole house -- to get everything settled.

I'm sure the neighbors were thrilled.

But it's done.

We're officially city folk.

We've officially entered the modern plumbing era.

What you can't see is the fingernail that turned black from all the digging and pounding.

Or the sunburn from neglecting to wear a hat one day because it was so cool.

I rather suspect he was enjoying the work. At the least, I know he is satisfied knowing it's done and done right.

I'm just grateful for a husband who digs digging.