Thursday Potpourri: Summer-y Executions

Sorry for the radio silence — I’m teaching two summer courses in a new format that’s even more compressed than usual, so between getting ready and getting the info out there, I’ve been working like the proverbial one-armed paperhanger. But here we are.


These courses are asynchronous — I e-mail my “lectures” to the kids, who read them at their leisure and write assignments/responses that they submit electronically.

Earlier this week, I had a student who didn’t track with what I had sent, so we wound up handling things during a phone call, where we walked through the text together and I explained what was going on. That was no problem — it’s my job, after all, and I actually like talking about this stuff — but there was an interesting generational moment at the conclusion of our lecture/discussion.

The student assured me that he was now up to speed and had no further questions about the reading. Then he said, with genuine surprise, “Wow! We’ve been talking for an hour! I’ve never talked to someone on the phone for an hour before!” I mentioned this to a friend of mine afterwards, and she said, “I guess he’s never been in a long-distance relationship.”

But as the years have passed, I’ve actually noticed that people in the Spawn’s generation and younger seem to have a genuine distaste for telephone conversation, preferring to text. I don’t really know why that is, other than the fact that an actual spoken conversation needs to happen in real time, rather than asynchronously. I know I have a couple of younger folks who are occasional readers of the blog. Should you happen to run across this, I’d like to understand more about this. Give me a holler.


I was pleasantly surprised earlier in the week, when I received my first writer (or anything else, as far as I can tell) fan mail. A gentleman in Canada (also an academic, as it happens) e-mailed me to tell me how much he enjoyed my story “Ampurdan”, which appears in El Bee’s Alive in Shape and Color antho. As it happens, he plans to go on a cycling trip in Europe in the coming months, where he’ll travel through the actual Spanish region of Emporda, which Dali used as the setting for the painting that inspired my story. (My story takes place in a titular, fictive, Colorado town. A commonality is that I’ve never been to either Colorado or Spain.) We agreed that it would be best to avoid the ditches.

I’m tickled to have heard from him (not least because I think that particular story is one of my better ones). It’s always nice to discover that there are folks who like my work, but the fact that this fellow actually went to the trouble of looking me up and finding my college e-mail really touched me. I’m grateful to have moved someone that much. Stay safe on the bike ride, Professor.


What with the Spawn’s recent graduation and new gig (which she’s really enjoying, by the way), Mrs. M decided to hunt up our various degrees that we have been keeping in the attic. She has found al of them but one — my Ph.D. diploma. Honestly, the last time I remember seeing it was probably in early 2003, before we moved to Mondoville. It’ll probably turn up the next time she goes up there to look around — she has an absolutely Javertian willingness to keep hunting something once she starts on the trail. And once she does, I’ll find wall space in my office to hang them up.

I’ve mentioned before that when I’m outside the classroom, I’m far more likely more likely to refer to my degree in a jocular fashion than in a serious way. As I told someone recently on Twitter, my doctorate is my union card, not my identity. I guess the fact that we seem to have misplaced the certificate, if not lost it altogether, testifies to that. I joke about “the kind of people who hang their degrees in the bathroom so people have to look at them,” but I suppose my office is as good a place for them as any. At least I’ll know where they are.


Once things settle a bit with these classes, next on my TBR pile is Hilary Mantel’s The Mirror and the Light, the final volume in her Thomas Cromwell trilogy. It’s not my usual sort of reading, and her style is less translucent than I normally prefer, and I know how it turns out, after all. But I’ve really found the first two volumes compelling, and I’m looking forward to one more of these trips to Tudor country.

On that note, I’ve mentioned my fondness for C.J. Sansom’s Matthew Shardlake series of Tudor-era mysteries. In fact, Shardlake’s initial cases are commissioned by Cromwell. Reportedly, Sansom has other adventures in mind (the most recent volume dates from 2018). Here’s hoping it comes soon.


Well, there’s more student stuff with which to deal, so I’ll close, but here’s a song I discovered over the weekend. Jim Basnight has been a figure in power pop and New Wave since the 70s, moving from his Seattle base to New York and back again, but he had slipped beneath my radar somehow — probably because I was more into heavy metal in the 80s. But I really like this song, and I’m going to have to learn more about him and his work. From a retrospective album, this is “Stop the Words.”

See you soon!

About profmondo

Dad, husband, mostly free individual, medievalist, writer, and drummer. "Gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche."
This entry was posted in Culture, Education, Family, Literature, Music. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Thursday Potpourri: Summer-y Executions

  1. Tobias says:

    I’d never hang my diplomas in the bathroom (talk about performance anxiety) but I have hung mine up–on the wall of the master-suite closet, behind my work slacks. Union card next to work gear, no? 🙂 Have a great day!

  2. I’ve observed the following:

    Boomers like phone calls–you get real-time exchanges and rapid flow of information
    Gen-X likes email–you get a written record of the conversation
    Millennials like IM–you can get a live chat and get a written record, even if not right away
    Gen Z likes texting–you always know you’re getting hold of the person, plus a written record

    Each has its benefits, and I can see how each generation thinks it improves over its predecessor, but I will state that Gen Z is *terrible* at checking email. And they hate phone calls because they can easily lose control of the conversation.

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