I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe

The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken

Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
-Bertrand Russell

What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell

April 05, 2013 - 1:47 p.m.

The Write Stuff

Ugh, my fantasy league draft is on Sunday and I've hardly gotten anything done. I did set up my pricing system. Next year I'll have a new and improved pricing system. I might need all off season to work on it.

It's Friday so I'm writing this from a coffee bar while I'm waiting for Celebrian. I usually don't get much written here but I have 24 minutes. I should get quite a bit done. It would help if I remembered what I was going to write about.

I didn't do much yesterday. After school I prepared a practice test for my pre-calculus class. I told them that if I lose my fantasy league it is their fault. The most depressing thing is how little ground we've covered. Both my classes are going slow.

I am having trouble understanding one of my students. My first reaction was to write about her in exasperation but that isn't right. I need to try and understand what is going on inside of her. She has some perceptional blocks. She asks questions that puzzle me. I can't see what she can't see. This isn't about math but about mechanics of the class. I was going over homework. One group of questions had many parts. It was figuring out compound interest if it is compounded was 1, 4, 25, or 365 times a year. You do them all the same way just plug in a different number for n in this formula.

I said I wasn't going to go over ever part of every question and chose the common numbers, 4 and 365. We never go over every question or we would never have time for new material. We then had this exchange.

"Why did we only do 4 and 365?"
"We don't have time to do all of them so I just chose two."
"But what about the others?"
"Like I said, we don't have the time to do them all."
"So if you give us a question like that we can choose which two to do?"
"No you have to do them all. We only went over two but you do all of them."
"I don't understand. You only did two of them."

What can't she see? How can she not see there is a difference between what I go over and what the assignment is? This kind of thing happens all the time. On the first test she didn't understand what was expected on many of the questions even though we did ones just like them in class. If you have any insight I'd love to hear it. To a man with a hammer everything looks like a nail but I wonder if this is some sort of anxiety issue. She can't accept that instructions mean what they say and thinks there is some deeper hidden meaning that she doesn't get.

I am a bit concerned with how annoyed I get at people and I'm trying to be more understanding. I just have to make sure to remember that sometimes people really are
idiots. I am often enough one of those people. I just do it in ways that are endearing.

Time for an ego boost. I got a good one; a musician I'm not friends with wants to quote what I wrote about her on her website. I've been quoted on websites before but usually from friends. They might think my writing is good because I'm a sexy sexy monotreme.

And this reminds me of what I wanted to write about. Well one of the things. I'll put off the other yet again because now I have a natural segue.

I am now writing in the subway. Just pulled into DeKalb, I know that doesn't mean anything to most of you but it gives a sense of place. That's important in writing. And writing is what I'm going to talk about. Yes I'm writing on writing.

Last night as I was sitting nursing my shake at Steak 'n' Shake I thought about how odd it is that so many people know me because of my writing. How did that happen? I'm a numbers guy. I took nothing but the required writing class in college. I am trying to decide if I learned anything there. I know the teacher didn't teach me anything useful but that's not the same thing. What she did was make me write and I did learn from that. It reinforces my theory that everything you can be taught about writing you learned in kindergarten. OK that isn't true at all. But almost everything I was taught about writing I was taught by the end of middle school. I've always had the idea of being an author in the back of my head, Sometimes it's in the front of my head, next to the horns. But I never considered taking writing classes. Part of that is because we didn't have personal computers back then. If I had to actually type Wise Madness I would never do it. I make too many mistakes. I make too many revisions. I just made a revision adding that last sentence and this one too. It would take forever. Word processing opened new worlds to me.

People are often shocked that you can major in math. They don't know that there is anything beyond calculus. I always find that amazing. Don't they know there are things that they don't know? Didn't they have any friends taking higher level math courses? Probably not. But then I think, I don't know what they do in higher level writing courses. I at least know they exist. I know what I imagine. That it is more writing coaching than teaching. You learn to write by writing and the teacher then points out your strengths and weaknesses and what needs to be worked on. You learn from being challenged.

Journalism is great training for any writer. You write for a paper you're expected to come up with a story every day or week or whatever your schedule is. You are forced to write and you are forced to write on subjects that aren't your choosing. You learn to not fall in love with your words as no matter how good it is the editor might cut parts just to make it fit in the paper. You are forced to make every word count. It's leads to a kind of writing I enjoy.

I just deleted an entire paragraph. I couldn't do that if I were typing. I'm in my office now and the time since I wrote it gave me the perspective to see that it didn't belong.

When I got off the subway I went to check my PO box. I didn't have any mail but I did walk by the greeting cards. Did you know that the Post Office sells them? I bought a sympathy card, wrote it, and mailed it to Aubrey's mother. I didn't just give a wolf howl, I have known her for over 40 years.

I have class in 15 minutes and I want to do some things first. That makes this finished.

Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
Late to Bed and Late to Rise - September 30, 2017
On Your Feet or On Your Knees - September 29, 2017
Why Life Doesn't End on Closing Day - September 28, 2017
Anna and King of I Am - September 27, 2017

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Horvendile April 05, 2013
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