Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Cardiff Giant

Red = Passive Voice/Transitive Verbs
Yellow= Abstract Subjects
Teal = Linking Verbs in S-LV-SC sentence pattern

Why did people so readily accept the giant? What was their basis of belief? This can be answered by a number of reasons. The first and most basic is the bible. During the mid 19th century the bible was the prevailing educational force in America. Most people went to church and they believed in the bible because it was their source of an explanation for why things were in the world. It explained the origins of man, beast and nature.  Within the bible it states that before the flood, giants had existed as a race. Goliath from the story of David and Goliath was among these who, after a series of mathematical conversions, would be estimated at nine and a half feet tall. People believed and accepted this and the Giant was merely physical proof of it. For those who were a little more scientific and somewhat well read, there was another explanation. In Arizona there are petrified trees, from what we now understand as fossilization, many of which are so well preserved they still show the rings of the trees. The argument went that if this could happen to the trees then it could also happen to a person. Lastly and the most basic, people simply wanted to believe. People, who would normally be called logical, sane or balanced, wanted to believe in the mysterious, the unknown and the exciting.
            There were of course skeptics, but the question is who and what is the basis of their skepticism? These skeptics were scientists, specifically chemists, geologists, paleontologists and naturalists. Most notably were J. F Boynton, a geologist from the University of Pennsylvania, and Othniel C. Marsh, a Yale professor and an acclaimed paleontologist. They were immediately critical of such dramatic claims, and as men of science set out to evaluate the Giant. Boynton, and later Marsh who supported him, claimed the Giant to be a fraud for a number of reasons. First the Giant, which was made of stone, appeared to be made of gypsum, a soft rock that would not survive long (geologically speaking) in the New England soil. Secondly upon evaluation of the excavation site he noted that there was fresh plant material in the soil from which the Giant was removed, indicating a recent burial, as opposed to the compaction and stratification of soil that had been unmoved for thousands of years. Boynton hypothesized that the Giant had not been in the ground for longer than three years, then went further and calculated that the giant had been in the ground no longer than a year, 370 days to be exact. A well-known sculptor, Eratus Dow Palmer, also evaluated the Giant and determined it had been man made, noting identifying marks of sculptor’s tools on the face. Boynton was indeed correct in his evaluation, Newell and his cousin (one of his associates) having placed the Giant in the ground approximately one year before.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Where I am right now

Adjectives out of order

Where I am right now. Right now I am in a chair.  Black fake leather, one wheel missing, it is my place of quiet and homework. In front of me is my desk; on my desk is a light, computer and a few books. To my left are my movies and my printer. My room is a haven in a sea of activity, the sounds of feet above me and shouts out my door to pounding music my soundtrack. Obscenities and cheers are heard in equal measure up and down the hall. Normal for a Saturday night, my brothers prepare for the party, sheets in one hand become togas after griping, cursing, and a few safety pins. I can’t help but smirk at the noises, though part of me is jealous. I can’t join them tonight; an early start to the day looms ahead. My bed lies behind me, eagerly waiting to envelop me for a few hours. I do not wish to join it; I would rather be spending the night being a normal college student. Sadly though I am not, rowing is not a normal sport, which requires me to be very unusual. Honestly right now I am having misgivings about what I want. Part of me says rowing, part of me says fraternity. I have done both up till this point, but lately I have been frustrated with the divide. It is an interesting position to be in, to suddenly have doubts about something you have committed thousands of hours towards over the last two years of my collegiate career. It requires much of me, both mentally and physically, to be able to stay committed year round. To be burning out though, that is a different matter. It’s scary in all honesty. I don’t want to feel it, but I can’t help it. It is creeping over me like molten lava, slow, unstoppable, and inescapable. I am at a loss as to what to do. Perhaps I have just been feeling more hedonistic than I have ever before, which I find interesting because up till this point I have never considered myself a hedonistic person. In fact I would typically call myself a selfless person, not to toot my own horn too much. Perhaps that is the heart of the matter. I have been giving and giving and not felt like I have received enough in return to make it worthwhile. Or perhaps I am simply looking for the wrong things.  I am tired, in a way that goes beyond physical boundaries. I am tired in a way that reaches me mentally and, I almost hate to say it, soulfully. Mentally in that I find it difficult to motivate myself and soulfully because I feel taxed beyond reason. I don’t want to stop but I feel like I may have to, or at least take a break. They say you don’t know what you have until it’s gone, perhaps if I deny myself of it then I will miss it more. We will see.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Who am I?

Who am I? To start I am David Herrick. Yet that is not enough of an answer. David Herrick is simply a combination of letters on a page that mark me in a manner so others may identify me. The answers that come to mind are that I am a MAN, A BROTHER, A SON, A FRIEND, A COLLEGE STUDENT, A FRATERNITY MEMBER, A ROWER. ALTHOUGH THAT’S TOO SIMPLE, AND I KNOW THAT I NEED TO ELABORATE.  
            To begin with the first I am a man and THAT is easy enough to see. I am tall; 6’4” to be precise, blonde hair, blue eyed, and believe I fit our cultural definition of what it takes to be a man. That is to say I am masculine, athletic, intelligent, brave (I can only hope) etc.
            I am a brother to my three younger siblings WHO are a source of pride in my life. They are fifteen years old, yes all three of them since they are triplets, WHICH I know is certainly unusual. I have gotten many looks of surprise, even awe, when I share that little fact who WHOEVER I may be speaking with.
            I am a son to my mother and father without WHOM I do not believe I would be the person I am today. They are kind, loving, considerate and most importantly patient people who have had a greater impact on me than I can say. AS A PSYCHOLOGIST, MY MOTHER HAS THE WONDERFUL ABILITY TO HELP WITHOUT BECOMING OVER INVOLVED. AFTER TEACHING FOR ALMOST FORT YEARS; MY FATHER UNDERSTANDS YOUNG ADULTS VERY, VERY WELL AND OFTEN REALIZES I NEED HELP BEFORE I DO.
            I am a college student at Washington State University WHOSE constant struggle is to balance school, friends, rowing, sleep and general health. It’s a complex system that involves sacrificing time and energy from one area to be put into another. I am a dual major in English Teaching and Psychology. I believe I could be a good teacher, many friends and family members have said so and I would be following a trend in my family, but I am not sure that it is what I truly want to do. At this point I am leaning more on going to graduate school to become a doctor of psychology, specifically in sports psychology.
            I am a member of a fraternity, but there are many on campus. I AM PROUD TO SAY MY FRATERNITY – TAU KAPPA EPSILON – IS ONE OF THE BEST HOUSES ON CAMPUS. We believe in building better men for a better world by helping our members become balanced, well rounded gentlemen. This means excellence in grades, community service, philanthropy events, and social events. Though I originally had no intention of going Greek as a freshman I can say it was one of the best decisions of my life.
            LASTLY (THOUGH NOT IN TERMS OF PRIORITY) I AM A ROWER. Rowing is (besides the oldest intercollegiate sport in America) one of the most difficult. It takes years to become proficient and thousands and thousands of hours to become physically fit enough to compete. It takes commitment, passion and a drive to win that surpasses most other sports. I am proud to say that I am part of the small community that makes up this completely bizarre and backwards sport. It has taught me not only hard work and dedication, but also taught me more about myself that I doubt I would have discovered otherwise. I have been pushed to limits I did not know I had and can say I know myself better.
            These are a few things that make up who I am, but to WHOMEVER may read this I hope you understand me better.

Learning, round 3

 What have I learned? Again? I know that this entry is five days late, BUT in order to practice my grammar I felt it was good to do anyway. Well to begin with I have learned a new acronym, FANBOYS, as a way to link two independent clauses, AND to boot I finally understand what an independent clause is. ALTHOUGH I AM TWENTY, IN ORDER TO MAKE PROGRESS I REALIZED I HAVE MUCH TO LEARN STILL. An independent clause is an idea that can stand alone as a sentence, OR can be combined with another independent clause to create a compound sentence. I find it very interesting that in writing I have using compound sentences for years, YET I did not truly realize what I was working with. In fact as an example I am taking a creative writing course this semester. Last week I submitted my story for peer review and one of the things I was told was my sentence structure was too repetitive (S-V-O), SO clearly there is good application for this knowledge. IF NOT FOR THIS GRAMMAR COURSE, I WOULD UNDOUBTEDLY BE MAKING THE SAME MISTAKES OVER AND OVER AGAIN. NOR will I forget what I have learned in this course, because there are real life applications that will be critical to gaining a good, stable job.
            Learning what an independent clause is was helpful to understand what it is by definition, FOR now I know what a dependent clause is as well. WHEN I TEACH, I MUST KNOW WHAT I AM TEACHING OR BE BRANDED INEPT. It is a matter of job security. Many people have aversions to English teachers because of bad experiences in middle school, high school, or even college. As a product of this English teachers are put under heavy scrutiny when grading so even a single mistake, on a students paper for example, could lead to accusations of incompetency. Something else that I have learned is the AAAWWUBBIS acronym, standing for Although, After, As, While, When, Until, Because, Before, If and Since. The AAAWWUBBIS acronym is used for subordinating conjunctions.
            This is a lot to take in all at once and I realize that. I hope to be able to apply this to my writing in the future while simultaneously being able to weed out bad habits. One of those habits, as I said earlier, is the tendency to be repetitive with my sentence structure, like Subject-Verb-Noun.  This sort of repetition makes my writing boring and dull which readers will pick up on even if they don’t have a strong grasp of grammar. They will pick it up unconsciously and as a result will become disinterested in what I have to say. I know I still have a lot to learn. An example is a prepositional phrase, still don’t really know what that is. Yet I know with time and effort I will be able to master it given the appropriate focus and, if needed, requests for help from the “Nitty-Gritty Grammar” book.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

So much to learn, so little time

            After four weeks in class I have learned a fair amount, though admittedly not so much that there is a large gap between last weeks post and this weeks post. We have been getting further and further into the details of grammar and I must admit I have struggled to try and understand it. Many of the terms that are thrown around pass over my head and I find myself constantly trying to look them up or understand what is going on, primarily when we mark up newspapers. Yet throughout the class I have slowly been drawing more and more in, beginning with word classes. This in ITSELF is somewhat ironic since it would be assumed I knew what these were, but I believe it cant hurt to go over them. The classes include nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs. These are open word classes, meaning that they can be added to over time as the English language changes and adapts. Open versus closed classes was an entirely new concept to me, which is not a shock considering I do not typically ponder the mechanics of English on a day-to-day basis, outside of class of course. I have learned test sentences for verbs, nouns, and adjectives.  I found the tests for nouns interesting because they can be marked by articles, (such as a, an and the) as well as by other determinants such as numbers. Yet at the same time they do not need determiners to be able to function properly in a sentence. What I found even more interesting were the different types of nouns that can be used. They can be abstract, they can be collective, they can be proper and they can be common. This allows so many different types of writing its difficult to imagine.
            I learned, or relearned, what an adverb was. BETWEEN YOU AND ME, dear reader, I hope you do not judge me too harshly.  The most direct relation I have had with adverbs when I actively understood that I was working with them was when I did Mad Libs, and more often than not I had to look them up. What I found particularly interesting though about adverbs is the test that can be used on them to asses whether or not they are true adverbs. The test in short assesses the “movability” of the adverb. If the adverb can be placed at the ending, middle or beginning of a basic sentence than it is a true adverb.
            I learned about the area of English that is considered the “closed” section, meaning that the words in that specific section are the only ones that will be in there, none will be added or removed. Articles are an example of this, a, an, and the, some of the most frequently used words that are immovable in their own specific areas. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

What have I learned?

English 326 is my first true grammar course and in the first three weeks I have learned a fair amount. I have learned that certain aspects of grammar can trend, like a style of clothes or music, and are indeed shifting. This shift is from older, more traditional views of grammar to styles and uses that are used more and more often by media sources. These sources are usually magazines and articles on the internet. AS A STUDENT, IT IS IMPORTANT THAT I HAVE A STRONG GRASP OF WHAT IS CORRECT IN ORDER TO DO WELL IN CLASS; AS A TEACHER IT WILL BE CRITICAL TO UNDERSTAND THESE SHIFTS IN WHAT IS BELIEVED TO BE CORRECT GRAMMAR IN ORDER TO TEACH MY STUDENTS PROPERLY.
            Secondly I have learned more about basic elements of grammar like commas and apostrophe’s and how they are used. Before this class I had a vague notion of what was deemed correct and the rest I left up to spell check on my computer before I turned in a paper. For example now I know that in a contraction the apostrophe goes in place of the missing letter. I know it seems like common sense but quite often I would just kind of guess at where it would go, at least when I was writing by hand and spell check was not available. I have also learned that possessive pronouns such as ITS, WHOSE, YOURS AND THEIRS DO NOT NEED APOSTROPHES. As I said before, had I typed out a possessive pronoun and added an apostrophe spell check would have most likely caught it and edited for me and I would have been none the wiser.
            Working with apostrophes I have learned that their placement on a word can change its meaning entirely, and that whether or not you use one is based completely on the context of the sentence using it. I always had an understanding but this concept has been clarified for me over the past three weeks in this course.
            Moving away from the more technical aspects of grammar I have learned more about teaching styles and how to teach grammar more effectively. The story concerning Dora was very helpful in my opinion. As we had discussed in the Socratic seminar Dora is a very idealized student, since she is fictional, and that for a student as young as she to react that positively to grammar would be very rare. Yet the point of the story is still important to understand. Teachers often teach at their students, that is to say they just talk and talk and their words are falling on deaf ears. The teacher in Dora’s story allowed her to make mistakes, to experiment and learn on her own and when she did make a mistake the teacher was there to help redirect and guide her towards the correct answer. While this style of teaching will not necessarily work for every student it is a way to help keep the more active learners on track and then more focus can be put on the more difficult students.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Grammar Issues

Grammar is something that I have struggled with in my writing often and if not for spell check it would have become apparent to my teachers far sooner. I never received a formal education on grammar despite having a strong vocabulary, good diction, ability to express myself, and create well-written work. Despite this I know how critical it is that I improve on my grammar for the professional world because of how little room there is for error. My ability to use grammar correctly could make or break my job. There are a number of aspects of grammar I would like to improve on. One of the first things I would like to work on grammatically is my use of semi-colons. I have never been sure when or where they are supposed to be used in a sentence, often I assumed they could be used at the beginning of a list much like a colon. An example would be as follows. Dan sat at the kitchen counter and spied a note his mother had written for him. “Dan please pick up some groceries today while your father and I are out. Please grab; milk, eggs, butter and pepper. Love mom.” I am aware that semicolons are used in a similar way but I am not sure what exactly.

            Secondly I need to work on participles, primarily understanding what they are (by their definition) and then how to use them correctly. As I said earlier I never received a formal education on grammar when I was younger so many of the terms and vocabulary are unfamiliar to me. The best example of what I mean is the nineteenth question on the “Convections and Income” sheet that we did on the first day of class. “Spiraling in the Andromeda Galaxy, Dr. Vilhelm insists that there is alien life on the Andromeda planet called Lanulos.” In this situation by the grammatical set up it is Dr. Vilhelm, not the planet Lanulos, that is spiraling through the Andromeda Galaxy even though it should be the other way around. It is small changes like this that, at first glance seem correct, will get me in trouble at work.

            Thirdly and finally I need to work on comma splicing in my writing as a whole. I have the habit of extending a sentence further than it should or needs to go by adding additional commas. By extension this means I need to work on understanding sentence requirements. An example could be “Pullman is a small town in rural eastern Washington, in the heart of it is Washington State University whose students attendance during the year doubles the population of the town.” These sorts of grammatical errors will affect me in the professional world but hopefully with enough practice that can be changed. These are not the only grammatical issues I need to work on, but I hope that by starting with these the rest will be improved as the course progresses through the semester.