Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Finding the time to write in a busy schedule

SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - The semester has roared along like a freight train ready to fly off the tracks with what has seemed like no time to write any blog entries, either here for students or on my other active areas.
  • Captain's Blog

  • From Where I Sit

  • Considering that I was updating all three almost daily just a few months ago, I had to ponder what-the-hell happened.

    Easy: students!

    I have four writing classes this semester and in each of them students are starting to crank out stories and columns - not to mention an almost steady stream of emails with questions about how to write those stories and columns, each taking a few minutes to ponder and reply to.

    The columns and stories are a joy, mostly, because I read about things the students are interested in and get their 20-30 year old perspectives. But every column I read, or story I critique, is time that I am not posting anything.

    So it was so strange this afternoon to find that between now and 6 p.m. - my next class - I had virtually nothing critical (relating to classes) that I needed to accomplish.


    The class providing me with the most stimulation/work/anxiety is the one that focuses on column writing. I opted to go sans textbook, which saved the students probably $100 in book costs but which has meant some serious uncertainy on the part of at least a few of students, particularly those who don't read columns at all.

    They're getting over that pretty fast.

    The stimulation part for me is seeing all the columns that can be/need be written.

    At our university in the last week, a semi-scandal arose in which the local newspaper published a story that the president of the university had written letters to help two local big game hunters go bag animals for a campus museum - a museum that will never be built. The real kicker is that these hunters were given credentials (based largely on the plea of the president) to hunt some animals that are now considered endangered species.
    And the hunters did indeed go to Tanzania and do some serious shooting, prompting the latest outcry from the Humane Society of America, the spokesman for which says that going out and blasting animals - so they can be stuffed and put in museums - is an idea that is about 100 years out of date.

    The campus pundits have been having a great time with jokes, from referring to the President as Ramar of University, to an clever twist on the university's unofficial motto (bestowed by the president): Leadership Begins Here.

    Since the news about the hunting and the president's involvement, it's been suggested that the new unofficial motto should be Taxidermy Begins Here.

    I think that last one is pretty funny, bwana.

    My column writing fingers are so itchy right now, I better take some benadryl before I do something foolish.
  • Big Game Hunt Criticized
  • Monday, September 10, 2007

    A new semester, a new class and new stories

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. USA - The next generation of CSUS magazine writers are hard at work on their first stories and today I just asked them to create a blog so that they can have an audience - and support group - for their work.

    When the blogs are created, they will be linked to this page.

    The class has some great story ideas, some quite sophisticated. Of course, a few people want to write about world hunger or global warming, topics that are probably beyond them for now.

    I am starting to pursue several stories myself this fall - one on the poisoning of Lake Davis, three hours north of Sacramento. The Department of Fish and Game is poisoning the lake to kill the Northern Pike (a non-native fish) that have take up residence in the lake. Of course, this will also kill every other living thing in the lake, originally created as a reservoir for drinking water.

    It would be tragic enough, but the DFG already tried this several years ago, failed, and had to pay nearly $10 million in damages to the people of the area for the gaffe that cost them tourist dollars and a lot of anguish.

    The Sacramento Bee has taken up the cudgel against these fish (which are prized in other parts of the nation as one of the best game fish in freshwater lakes). The rhetoric has been growing exponentially, including an editorial a few weeks ago that linked the situation at Lake Davis to the fictional town of Amity on Long Island.

    Yup, that was the city from the movie "Jaws."