Letter to G. Schenck 10-13-08

Dear Grandma Schenck,

I just wanted to take a little bit of time out of today to say hello. Jess and I took a trip up to Grand Rapids, Minnesota, Friday and got back on Saturday night. It was a nice car -- a Dodge Charger "muscle car" -- which was paid for by the American Cancer Society. They sent Jess up there to help with putting together a Walk for Life fundraising event, which I am sure you have heard of. Jess was really impressed by the nice-looking autumn trees, which she said seemed to "light up from the inside" with red, orange, and yellow colors. We went near one of the lakes there, Trout Lake, and it was amazing how clear the water was! You could see the bottom of the lake very easily when the water was as deep as four or five feet!

We stayed in an AmericInn hotel, which was pretty basic. It sounded like Jess' meeting was successful; she likes making contacts to do grassroots campaigning. Up north, it's definitely "everbody knows everybody" territory. Travel can be pretty tiring, we've found!

Saturday, Jess wanted to take our dog Ellie to the vet, because she's been listless. I didn't think there was a problem, and neither did the vet, but going to a place where a lot of dogs were really woke Ellie up. She getting older, but she's got some spunk left in the tank.

Yesterday, Jess and I watched a very good film -- _Atonement_, based on a novel that I had read for a graduate school class. Sunday night, Paul and I went to play basketball and lift weights together. I don't sleep as fully if I work out later in the day, but it was good exercise.

This morning, I taught English 101, which is a good class to start the week with, since I'm very familiar with the class days, since I've taught 101 so often. The one hassle -- and it's a huge one -- is the commute to go to the north campus. It's only about 18 miles, but this morning the drive took an interminable 40 minutes. 7:30 a.m. is the latest that I can leave, and that's sometimes when I leave, but it was rainy this morning, and the traffic was terribly backed up! It's frustrating to have to get up so early and drive 10 miles an hour. The traffic made me a few minutes late for class, so now I'm going to have to leave at 7 a.m., which I'm not excited about at all. 45 minutes to drive 18 miles!

The traffic is quite the hassle up here. There's construction all around our little city of Richfield -- construction all the highways and interstates to get out of Richfield. "We're trapped in," some folks joked on Saturday night, when we hung out at Linda's house with some neighbors.

My quarter is looking to be pretty fun. I teach English 101 in the mornings on Monday and Tuesday, and then on Tuesday night Jess and I have a coed volleyball team we play on. Then on Wednesday I have kind of a tough day -- I teach in Mendota Heights in the morning and go home for a break, and then I have to drive to the north campus for a night class. Then I end class at about 9:30 p.m., and have to teach a class on Thursday morning. It's a pretty full week, and I have more students than I did last quarter, but don't have any new materials to create, since I've taught all of the English courses in previous quarters. It's a matter of showing up and trying to do what I've already done better.

On a good note regarding my teaching, my boss told me that I was the only instructor to have students compliment feedback and comments on their writing. This was a bit surprising, but apparently the other instructors don't do what I do, which is reply to each major piece of writing with "big idea" comments (on ideas, and not just grammar, etc.) that fill a long paragraph. I can do this because when I grade papers electronically, I can reply through typing and type fast, whereas when I handwrite, I'm slow. This comment from my boss was pretty heartening and motivating, but worries me a bit to wonder what my coworkers are doing, because substantive feedback is basically the only way to make real learning -- which Robert would probably agree with.

Well, speaking of traffic, I better get going on my commute back home!

adam schenck

No profanes - sacred

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