Cooking and Composition

adventures in discourse and dinner

Review: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury — January 27, 2014

Review: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

I have finally gotten around to checking off a book I’ve been excited to read: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.

I’ve loved Bradbury since I read “The Pedestrian” in high school and was the only person in class who got “the point.” And just from reading that short story, Bradbury made my list of favorite authors.

The only other thing I have read by since (also in high school) was “There Will Come Soft Rains”—a great short story about an automated house living on after all of its inhabitants have died.

The only thing I’ve read by Bradbury that I didn’t love was “A Sound of Thunder,” about a time traveler who changes everything by stepping on a butterfly. I might like it better if I read it now, but when it was assigned in school, I just couldn’t get through it. I had to read it out loud to my dad.

Anyway, I’ve had Fahrenheit 451 on my “to-be-read” list for something like four years, at least. But I always manage to not read it: there’s another book in a series I love, there’s something I’ve found that I just have to read right now, or sometimes I just don’t feel like reading and I want to do anything else.

In a moment of impulse, I bought the book on my Kindle app. I can be a shopaholic, and when that hits, instant-gratification is the best thing for me. I just didn’t want to wait for my two-day shipping to get the book here.

Naturally, I just let it sit there. For like two weeks.

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The Struggle with Breaking my Fast — January 25, 2014

The Struggle with Breaking my Fast

Does anyone else have trouble eating breakfast?

As part of my “get healthy” goal right now, I’ve been trying to do a better job at eating breakfast. When I don’t have anywhere to go, this isn’t a problem. I get up, a spend a little time laying around, and I have a hot tea, a banana, and a breakfast sandwich.

When I work, I don’t get such a leisurely morning. I teach at 8:00 three days a week, and I like to leave by 7:15 or so in order to get to work in plenty of time to park, go to my office, and get my thoughts gathered before I have to start entertaining my students.

botlhouse farms
I really love drinking Bolthouse Farms, but they can be really expensive! Especially on the days when I don’t drink them all.

Lately, I have been getting up around 5:45 in order to eat breakfast and get ready to go. But this is not working out for me. Sometimes I have a sandwich and a piece of fruit, sometimes I try to eat a granola or similar breakfast bar. This past Friday, I had peanut butter on toast.

I just have a hard time with breakfast. If I don’t brush my teeth before I eat it, I usually end up throwing it all back up.

Disgusting, I know.

And it’s here where I meet my conundrum. I find that easy, on-the-go breakfasts are better for me. It’s a lot easier for me to eat a granola bar or a breakfast sandwich while I’m driving to school (not the safest, sure, but whatever) than it is for me to get up even earlier and make real food for breakfast. But everything I’ve been reading lately points to the benefits of eating whole foods over processed ones.

What’s a girl to do?

I keep seeing commercials for Belvita breakfast things, and I found some at the store to try for the next couple of weeks. Nutrition-wise they don’t seem awful, and the ads claim that the energy should last through the morning. If it lasts me longer than the two hours my breakfasts are usually staying with me, I’ll be happy. I think.

I’m going to give it a try and see how it goes. But how do you do breakfast quick, easy, and healthy? Is it even possible?

Friday Favorites: Places to Visit (Global) — January 24, 2014

Friday Favorites: Places to Visit (Global)

Friday Favorites

I like traveling, but I don’t get to do it often. Growing up, my life was full of summer sports, dancing, and school. I played the flute and acted in the play. Even though I took three years of French in high school, a year of Spanish in undergrad, and an intensive French reading course during my master’s, I have yet to put any of those skills to use, beyond saying gracias to the servers at the local Mexican restaurant or talking to one of my BFFs in Franco-Spanglish. 

Several of my friends have traveled or studied abroad, and I have this sneaking feeling that I’m, ya know, really missing out. I’ve been thinking about this a lot more because I’m not getting any younger. I might as well get out there and explore the world while I can, right?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m lucky to have had a family that valued vacations. We just stayed within the US. I did go on a cruise once, traveling to the Grand Cayman Islands and Cozumel, Mexico. But I’d like the opportunity to do some world traveling that is, well, a bit less touristy. So for this Friday, five global places I’d love to visit.

5. Quebec, Canada

This is the most specific one on the list. Even though it would be cool to visit other provinces of Canada, I really want to visit Quebec. Being in the North American continent, it’s not that far away (meaning, I’m pretty sure it would be one hell of a road trip!), but I anticipate it feeling very different. The fusion of English and French cultures–especially since the people of Quebec tend for a purer form of French–would be really fascinating to experience. And this past fall, one of my students wrote about how poutine is. French fries, gravy, and cheese curds? Count me (and my future clogged arteries) in!

Poutine Classique at La Banquise in Montreal. Image by Flickr user yurilong via Wikimedia Commons.

4. Finland

Considering my strong distaste for the cold, this Nordic country being listed is probably surprising. But many moons ago, back when I was 20 or 21, a friend and I almost studied abroad here. Even though that trip never panned out (the courses we needed and the courses we would have been able to take did not match), I still maintain a strange fascination with the country and, more specifically, their education system. It’s also ranked high in happiness, which I think is reason enough to visit.

3. England

A bit typical, perhaps, but who can love as much British TV as I do and not want to visit England? Ever since I first watched Austin Powers, I’ve known I wanted to visit, and that desire has only increased with time. And, really, we all know I just want to go to visit Platform 9 and 3/4.

Image by Sasuz-Stock on DeviantArt. Use under creative commons license.

2. Belize

In seventh grade, I was the only person who had heard of Belize, let alone that was able to point it out on a map. This was not because I was a particularly worldly middle schooler. Actually, I had only heard of the small, tropical country because of Temptation Island, a short-lived reality show that aired when I was in sixth grade and was, clearly, not something I should have been watching. But I thought it was beautiful, and it’s stuck with me all these years later. It’s lovely and romantic. One of these days.

1. France

I recently took Buzzfeed’s “What city should you actually live in?” quiz, and it was no surprise when I got Paris. I honestly don’t know when I fell in love with France. I think it has always been a part of me. I’d love to see the Louvre (I have a great picture my French teacher gave me!), Sacre-Couer, and la Tour Eiffel. But even more I want to go to the beautiful beaches of Nice and visit Versailles and the Bastille. I want to eat crepes and croissants and real champagne. *Le Sigh*

Tour Eiffel - HDR
Eiffel Tower by alfieanni on flickr. Used under creative commons license.

Where do you want to visit?

Pick up the Book Nearest to You — January 23, 2014

Pick up the Book Nearest to You

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook today:

I don’t usually do things like this, but sometimes it’s fun. And today, I just happened to have a book sitting on the bed next to me. And I actually find the result kind of funny:

I’ll be crying in a minute, she thought as she took her hat from the peg and then realized it was too late for sewing now.

From Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield.

What did you get?

Friday Favorites: Composition Readers — January 17, 2014

Friday Favorites: Composition Readers

Friday Favorites

School is back in session. Wooo! We technically started a week ago Monday, but the “Arctic Vortex” or whatever they’re calling it these days really threw getting back into class into a frenzy. We had a missed day of school, and I had to cancel my own classes another day because there was no way I was getting out of my driveway and to school safely.

I’m glad school is back in session, though, because I’m really enjoying teaching my 105 classes this semester. I love research and was so looking forward to it, but I was disappointed in my fall sections. This spring seems to be going much better. 🙂

I’m going to get a little dorky in today’s Friday Favorites, and talk about some of my preferred readers, especially for first-year composition.

5. Understanding Rhetoric: A Graphic Guide to Writing by Elizabeth Losh, Jonathan Alexander, Kevin Cannon, and Zander Cannon 

I think this book is super cool, and if I were teaching a class that is more focused on rhetoric, I would definitely use it. I used a couple of chapters in a junior-level course on writing in the professions, and I think it would pretty well. It’s a little bit corny, but I kind of like that in a text.

4. Everything’s an Argument by Angela Lunsford, John J. Ruszkiewicz, and Keith Walters

I have taught with the fifth edition a couple of times, and I think this book is very handy for describing rhetorical ideas. Some students found the readings a little boring, but overall they tended to do well when we discussed them. I like that this reader includes some essays as examples, as well.

3. They Say/I Say: The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing by Gerald Graff, Cathy Birkenstein, and Russell Durst

Even though I bought this book in my first semester of graduate school, this is my first time teaching with it. So far, I think it’s been very successful. The version with readings makes assigning reading to practice the strategies presented much easier, even if the articles are somewhat dated in the second edition. I haven’t heard anything about a new one (yet) but I would definitely get it if it was available. Some people argue that this book can be simplifying, but I think it will be good for helping students with quote integration and balancing research and their own ideas. This book is also cool because it could be used in non-comp classes, too.

2. Writing about Writing: A Reader by Elizabeth Wardle and Douglas Downs

If I could teach a class that followed the plans and essays presented in this reader, it would be perfect. I’m so into the Writing-about-Writing approach, it’s not even funny. Wardle and Downs are two very influential scholars for me, so it’s not surprising that this text ranks highly. But, it can be a little challenging to adapt to some curricula. I do like that most of the readings are reprints, so if you don’t want to splurge for the book, you can find them elsewhere. This means you don’t get the helpful contextual statements at the beginning, though. I know a second edition is in the works to focus on threshold concepts. This should be a fascinating read, as well!

1. How to Write Anything by John J. Ruszkiewicz. 

I used this book last fall, and I probably should still be using it. It breaks down how to approach and write assignments based on their genres. But the really handy thing that I LOVE about this book is the interactive references. For example, it will explain where students can look for related ideas. If it’s talking about the letter-writing genre, it might say “if you need help developing your audience, go to this page.” It makes it a great tool for students, and it is less of a linear read than most handbooks. I may pick it back up in the future for students because I do like it *that much.* I also like that this book could be used in non-comp classes. Any teacher that wants to teach writing (especially a writing-in-the-major course) could benefit from this text!

Do you have a favorite tool for learning (or teaching) writing?

Quarter Life (Health) Crisis — January 14, 2014

Quarter Life (Health) Crisis

One of the most exciting things about the collaborative research project I’m doing with my students is that we aren’t just writing collaboratively; we’re actually learning collaboratively about an important issue in our society.

I chose to investigate the question posed by Gerald Graff, Cathy Birkenstein, and Russel Durst, “Is Fast Food the New Tobacco?” As much as I wanted to give my students some stake in this project, I also wanted to have a schedule set when the class started. Fortunately, everyone seems at least mildly interested, and so far the readings have been thought-provoking.

So thought-provoking, in fact, that I’m engaging in my own critical reflection on my own health habits.

Cue yet another aspect of my quarter-life crisis.

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Friday Favorites: Women of TV — January 3, 2014

Friday Favorites: Women of TV

Okay, I’ve been slacking a little big on this Friday Favorites feature I claimed I was going to do. But it’s back! And maybe I’ll be better about it in 2014.

Friday Favorites

I’m feeling a little nostalgic. The weather is snowy and bad, I’ve been binge-watching Battlestar Galactica for two days (and would have done that today if my mom hadn’t lured me out of the house with promises of lunch and coffee), and I can’t believe I didn’t get Karen Walker on the “Which Character from Will & Grace Are You?” Quiz.

Karen is one of my favorite TV characters of all time. At first, I wanted to do a post on some of my favorite Karen Walker quotes, but, let’s be honest: that’d be really challenging to do. Especially because there are so many wonderful Karen quotes to choose from.

Instead, I started thinking about some of my favorite TV show characters. These aren’t necessarily all great characters. Just the ones that I really love, that make it worth watching a television show. Some of these are old, some of these are new. But there are my favorite women characters of TV.

Warning: Some mild language below the jump!

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