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Updates

You should start seeing a lot more on this blog. Rather than explaining the complex and convoluted stuff that goes into this, I’m going to make a snappy update to let you know what’s likely to happen from here.

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An Extended Introduction on My Grandfather’s Blog Entry

I’ve talked about my grandfather quite a bit on this blog (most notably in the articles What Does Dying Feel Like? and Memento Nasci). Those articles are better introductions than the one I’m giving now, but I wanted to elaborate on the purpose of my grandfather’s guest post and mention a few of my lingering thoughts.

Robert Blair

A little more about my grandfather:

Dr. Robert W. Blair has been called the Indiana Jones of linguistics. His pioneering work with the Mayan language opened the field for modern linguists. As a prolific world traveler, he visited dozens of countries.

While he insists that he achieved fluency in only a few languages, his friends and family know him to be conversationally capable in well more than 20 languages. Much of his 60+-year career has been spent studying and developing language learning techniques that improve speed of acquisition, quality of learning, and overall retention.

Why ask my grandpa to do a guest post? Because I want to see how people respond. I want to see if this format works well for sharing my grandfather’s knowledge. In short, I want to see if it’s worth starting a blog on language learning with my grandfather.

Three reasons serve as the supporting columns of this project.

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Wheelbarrows: A Story of Inspecting vs Questioning

factory-at-night

Here’s a story I re-tell fairly often. It’s thought-provoking, I feel, and quite relevant to how we think about the world. While I originally read the story in Slavoj Zizek’s ViolenceZizek implies it’s a story he heard elsewhere. I’ve assumed it’s like most little stories and jokes: The sort of thing that gets passed around and transformed so completely over time that it’s most accurately thought of as authored by dozens of nameless contributors. Here is my own rendition:


A factory experienced a run of thefts and the supervisor told the night guard to begin inspecting the workers before they left. The night guard did so, staying until everyone else had gone. When the last worker of the night came through, the guard inspected him and his wheelbarrow thoroughly. At the end of the week, the supervisor called the guard in and told him that the thefts were still happening. The guard was baffled, and so began inspecting the workers more thoroughly. When the last worker came through, the guard asked him to empty his pockets and inspected every inch of his wheelbarrow. But again, the supervisor called him in and said the thefts were continuing.

During the third week, the guard became neurotically thorough, patting down every worker. When the last worker came through, he very nearly strip-searched him. He even searched for hidden compartments in the wheelbarrow. At the beginning of the next week, the supervisor called him in once again and told him the thefts had continued. Flustered, the guard elaborated on all he had done. “What more do you want me to do?” he asked. “I don’t know,” said the supervisor. “But we have to find the person who keeps stealing our wheelbarrows!”


What do you think? What do you think are some of the most prominent “wheelbarrows” in contemporary society? I’d love to hear your thoughts.


Where the hell have I been?

This is one of those posts that only about 15% of you will care about. It’s not profound, creative, or even particularly well written. Rather, it’s my update on what I’ve been doing—accompanied by a reassurance that neither myself nor this blog are dead.

Those of you who are members of the crew heard from me at the beginning of this month. About a month before that, I sent the third email outlining my current projects. Even telling you about my projects was a project I didn’t follow through on.

Some of what’s been going on is applicable. I’ve been working as the managing editor of a literary journal, presenting at a conference on engaged learning, preparing to present at a conference on educational development in Sweden (ICED 2014), writing a book on engaged learning (with a team of seven other writers), solidifying a creative writing community in my area, attending classes, and obsessively reading the Song of Ice and Fire series. (Season 4 premieres in just over a week! Gotta prevent spoilers!)

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My Favorite Love Story: Jaheira’s Loss

Favorite Love Story: Jaheira's Loss

Many in my generation were handed fairy tales for love stories and happy endings as the promised reward, but my favorite love story is not so happy. It comes from Baldur’s Gate II—my favorite video game of all time and one of the best stories I’ve ever encountered.

This entry will give you some contextual details and analysis, but someone recently uploaded a video that goes through all of the major romantic dialogues in the game. Checking out at least some of this video will give you an idea of how top-notch music and voice acting contributed to the story.

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Listening to Ghosts: Picking the Topic for a Personal Narrative

This article has been moved to the Creative Writing Guild.


Meanwhile, Elsewhere on the Internet….

Much of the content I write isn’t posted on this blog. To give you the chance to see all the other work I’ve been doing, I wanted to create this post as an ongoing compilation of my off-site content. Here are a few items worth checking out:

Reading to train the writer's eyeJesus of Nazareth was many things: motivational speaker, torture victim, trend-setter, political activist, and carpenter, to name just a few. However, while he’s the lead figure in the best-selling book of all time, he didn’t do much writing himself. But what if Jesus did write? What if he were writing today? Let’s take a look at Jesus’s tendencies to see what we can say about how he would approach modern writership.
Your damn empty modifiersI discussed the need to get rid of empty emphatics when I gave you 8 words to seek and destroy in your writing, but just saying that you should get rid of a thing doesn’t say much about the right way to do so. Today I’m going to show you a few of my favorite ways to get rid of your empty modifiers.
Predictions on the future of digital publishingWe’ve reached the digital frontier of book publishing, but the implications of living in this new territory are not yet fully understood. If anything’s certain it’s that the next couple decades will see major changes in how we think of books, publishing, marketing, and maybe even writing itself. Here are eight of my predictions about the future of digital publishing.
D&D and storytellingMy years of experience as a Dungeon Master have taught me many valuable lessons, and many of those lessons are specifically applicable to my writing. Here are the seven most significant storytelling lessons I learned from playing Dungeons and Dragons.


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